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John Wormald of Manchester says, "These figures represent enormous differences in balance, and fully demonstrate that cotton has a vitally important bearing on the incidence of international finance." 4
The reader is now in position to judge of the effect on American finance produced by the outbreak of the Great War of Europe in respect of cotton alone, as indicated by the following startling contrast in raw cotton exports for the years 1913 and 1914, during the month of August:5
September, however, is a heavier export month than August. In 1913 the United Kingdom took 376,426 bales, but in 1914 only 50,980; while Germany and France got absolutely none in 1914, as against 290,805 bales and 131,950 bales respectively in 1913. October is a still heavier month. Great Britain had by this time in 1914 reorganized her shipping arrangements so as to take 232,065 bales, or somewhat less than half as many as in the year before, while France succeeded in landing 22,302 bales, and Germany still got none as against 465,525 bales in the October of 1913. In November Germany managed to secure a hundred bales, and in the last month of the year took 47,076 bales, making a total of 48,128 bales for the first five months of the war as against
4 The Sprinkler Bulletin: Manchester, June, 1913; pp. 702-703. 5 Department of Commerce Reports.
1,673,049 bales for the same period of the year preceding. Great Britain, however, brought her December, 1914, purchases up to an excess of a hundred thousand bales over the same month in the previous year, and had almost exactly reëstablished a balance for the five months' period, while at the same time resorting to the most strenuous measures to prevent further shipments to Germany. The result of this commercial phase of the war for the first half of the year 1915 (as compared with 1914) may be tabulated as follows:
While Germany, in spite of these figures, was able for a while to obtain some cotton by way of Scandinavia, that channel was subsequently closed; and a competent German trade expert gave it as his opinion that during June, 1915, "not a gramme of cotton had found its way into Germany." A government order was therefore issued July 1, to take effect August 1, which was equivalent, according to the German trade journal for the clothing industry, to "the total stoppage of the German cotton industry, except in so far as it is engaged in the pro
duction of military supplies or of certain specialties."'
As this book goes through the press the following figures are available for the year ending July 31, 1916, as compared with the preceding year:
The importance that England attaches to the control of cotton supplies during war time is shown by the lengths to which the Government seemed willing to go in support of a "mid-ocean blockade." That such figures as those just tabulated necessarily have an important bearing on the course and outcome of war must be obvious to the most casual observer.
The fact is, cotton has now come to be in itself an essential to warfare, to a degree that few people suspect. Apart from the clothing needs of civilians, the standing armies and navies of the world consume annually, even in times of peace, between 175,000 and 200,000 bales in fatigue uniforms alone. Their demand is of course greatly augmented by the wear and tear of active campaigns, the "life" of the average field uniform being only three months. Wool has been largely displaced by its vegetable rival, even in overcoats; the service overcoats of private soldiers in the cold countries of Northern
6 W. J. Ashley on "Germany and Cotton," in the Atlantic Monthly: Boston, January, 1916, pp. 119–120.
Europe being now made of cotton duck lined with fleece. In 1904, when Japan and Russia were fighting, manufacturers found the demand for duck the one buoyant feature of a trade temporarily paralyzed by the wild speculation of the notorious "Sully year." Duck is needed not only for clothing, but for tents and tarpaulins, in enormous quantities.
Gun-cotton has, during recent years, been developed into far the most important form of propulsive ammunition; consisting simply in nitrated cellulose, cellulose itself subsisting, in an almost pure form, under the guise of cotton wool, which, when nitrated, becomes susceptible of enormous explosive effectiveness if detonated by fulminate of mercury. While cellulose, the chief constituent of wood, is of course the common property of many substances, other forms of it have hitherto been found unsuited to the proper manufacture of gun-cotton for use in the heavier artillery, cotton itself being regarded as the basic requisite.8. Sir William Ramsay, the British chemist, in an effort to spur his tardy government to declare cotton contraband of war, wrote for the English Review of May, 1915, a clear and vigorous exposi
7 C. T. Revere, "War's Effect on Cotton Prices," in Cotton and Finance: New York, Nov. 2, 1912; p. 48.
8 The ingenuity of chemists, even before the war, had succeeded in producing a nitro-cellulose out of wood-pulp, though it had never actually been used in heavy guns. But as a propellent it is weaker; and this means that its use would necessitate new firing chambers and new sighting in all existing guns. Rifles might possibly be altered with field appliances; heavier guns would have to go to a workshop. There are rumors that propellents are now being made in Germany from wood pulp; and it is even said that the Krupps have begun to make suitable guns. But conceive of the difficulty of shifting from one propellent to another in the midst of war, and the complications resulting from the simultaneous use of non-interchangeable ammunition.-W. J. Ashley, as cited, p. 117.
tion of the uses of cotton on the firing line. He computed, for example, that for rifle ammunition alone the German army consumes an average of fifty-one tons a day, or 18,600 tons a year, while their machine guns require at least an equal amount, and the lighter ordnance more than three times as much-making an annual total consumption by this one army of not less than a hundred thousand tons, or 400,000 bales, American weight, for ammunition purposes only. Considering all classes of ordnance, it is computed that on the average a bale of cotton is consumed to every 150 shots, and that every company of 300 soldiers carries three bales of cotton in the shape of cartridges. As for the navy, it is said that a twelve-inch gun consumes three hundred pounds of ammunition, or about half a bale of the cotton from which this is made, with every discharge; so that a battle-ship, firing at its greatest capacity, might use five thousand to six thousand pounds of powder, or from ten to twelve bales of cotton, every minute during an action!
While it thus becomes apparent that active warfare creates a specific and peculiar demand for cotton unknown in times of peace, when waste or rejected lint is sufficient to satisfy the needs of military practise and of the sporting world for powder, it is nevertheless perfectly obvious that the total general effect of war is to disturb cotton values, inflicting distress on the planter; whose chief danger, however, it should be distinctly remembered, arises not so much from war itself as from the augmented demand almost certain to occur with its sudden ces
9 On Aug. 20, 1915, the British Government by an order-in-council added raw cotton, cotton linters, cotton waste and cotton yarns to the list of absolute contraband.
10 American Year Book:
New York, 1916; p. 512.