half-century of equal advance would bring them very near to the ideal condition.
The American employer discovered, long before the missionary, that the condition of a man's body has much to do with his openness to reason. Men, well-fed, well-clad and comfortably housed, are more efficient in every respect than are men scantily supplied and embittered against the dealings of Providence. The recognition of this fact—the recognition of manhood in the employee—is the basis of American commercialism, the true secret of its success. This recognition is less marked in Great Britain, where all are bound by traditions from which men free themselves slowly and with difficulty, but the keenness of American competition is compelling the recognition. In our land, mere animal strength counts for little in man, machinery takes its place; the steam shovel has displaced thousands of hands, but it has made necessary an immense number of intelligent men; our rolling mills are no longer crowded with an army of laborers, dull, sluggish, automatic; the work is done by a, so to speak, handful of men, keeneyed and alert. Of course, this recognition may be due to no altruism on the employer's part, but that is wholly aside from the issue—we are considering conditions, not motives.
Increased wages came with increased value of service—whether through the employer's wisdom or through compulsion, matters not. Decreased cost of living came with increased wages, for, owing to the introduction of machinery, wages did not keep pace with capacity for production. The condition of the mechanic in respect of food, lodgings and general surroundings has shown steady improvement during the last thirty years. In the United States, food is cheap and abundant; the homes of our laboring classes are better than anywhere else. Away from towns, owners of mines or great manufacturing establishments, knowing that men, to do good work, must be well cared for, build comfortable homes for their employees and charge low rental. Many of them recognize a certain responsibility; they encourage thrift and urge, even assist, employees to own their dwellings. Mr. Carnegie is not the single instance of this type of employer, as many suppose. He was one of the first to develop the plan, but many have followed in his steps. Even in New York city, where the tenement problem is so complicated, owing to the form of Manhattan Island, the accommodations for those with mechanics' wages are inviting, while the wretched conditions in the Italian quarter are, to say the least, an improvement upon those in Naples.
This recognition of those, who in non-commercial countries are regarded as the 'mudsills of society,'—to use the language of an antebellum senator from North Carolina—has had a reflex influence upon those living amid more favorable surroundings. One hundred years