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THE COTTON STATES AND INTERNATIONAL EXPOSITION,
HELD IN ATLANTA, GA., SEPTEMBER 18 TO DECEMBER 31, 1895.
BUREAU OF EDUCATION,
Washington, D. C., February 1, 1896. SIR: A marked difference between the Cotton States and International Exposition and the Centennial and the World's Fair may be found in the fact that the last two were held to commemorato great historical events, while the first was strictly commercial in its conception and aims. Its origin was due to the then unsatisfactory business situation in the South, and it represented an effort to restore the trade of Atlanta to its normal activity. To attract visitors, to increase the amount of money in circulation, to advertise the city, and to extend the market for its wares-these were the means by which it was expected that the efforts in behalf of the Exposition would redound to the commercial benefit of Atlanta.
As originally projected an international affair was not contemplated, but the idea, once started, grew. It was observed that it might be possible not only to add to the trade in the Southern States of the Union, but that the countries still farther south might be brought into such relations with Atlanta merchants as to open protitable intercourse between them by which Atlanta, though far from the seaboard, might even attain international importance. Government aid was early souglt and an appropriation was secured of $200,000 for an exhibit of the resources and functions of the United States Government. Commissioners were sent to the countries of South America and of Central America to arouse interest in the objects of the Exposition, to obtain exhibits, and to secure the cooperation of those Governments. Agents were employed to solicit exhibits from Europe also.
Judged by the visible results, these efforts to give the Exposition an international character and significance were comparative failures. Venezuela, Mexico, Argentina, and Costa Rica were represented by commissioners bearing governmental appointments, but their exhibits were meager and unpretentious, since the amount of money at their disposal was insignificant. It is not probable that any one of them bad as much as $10,000 for all purposes. None of the European nations were officially represented. The foreign section of the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building was composed of a number of booths, apparently for no other purpose than the immediate sale of wares.
This paucity of foreign recognition of the Esposition was due, of course, to its provincial and purely commercial character and to the fact that our own Government had no further connection with it than the preparation and display of its own exhibit. Under the circumstances it is only surprising that the managers of the enterprise succeeded in giving it as much of an international character as they did.
GROUNDS AND BUILDINGS.
The site for the Exposition was well chosen. It was about 2 miles from the center of the city and had been previously used for a number of fairs of local character. That, however, was of little significance when the more pretentious Exposition was arranged, for the entiro face of the earth was altered by new grades, terraces, and artificial lakes, so that the old Piedmont grounds were absolutely unrecognizable in the new grounds as prepared for the Exposition. Only two of the old buildings were retained. The Main Building was remodeled and became the 'Transportation Building, while the grand stand overlooking the old race track was transformed into a very acceptable Auditorium" for the various conventions and congresses held in connection with the Exposition. Report of James C. Boykin, agent of the Bureau of Education.
The principal buildings were devoted, respectively, to agriculture, forestry and mining, machinery, Georgia manufactures, tho negro, transportation, electricity, woman, liberal arts, the United States Government, fine arts, the auditorium, and the adıninistrative offices.
Nearly all of them were substantial appearing framo structures, uniformly gray in color, with white trimmings, and shingle roofs stained with an unobtrusive green. The most conspicuous exceptions to this rule among the Exposition buildings proper were the Forestry Building, which was constructed of unbewn logs, tlo Woman's Building, and the Fine Arts Building, which were plastered with material similar to that used so freely at tho Columbian Exposition. Several States, including Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York, Alabama, Illinois, and Massachusetts, erected buildings on thỏ grounds at State expenso. The Georgia and Alabama buildings were filled with exhibits setting forth State resources, mainly agricultural in the former case and mineral in the latter. The Massachusetts Building contained exhibits of schools, of the State board of health, and of somo State institutions. The other State buildings were merely meeting places for their citizens and contained no exhibits. The building called the California Building was a private enterprise.
The general arrangement of the buildings was around an elliptical plaza a half mile in circumference, on one side of which were two small artificial lakes. The grounds were tastefully laid out and ornamented with shrubs, fountains, and sheet. metal statuary. A decided novelty was introduced by mounting some of the metal figures upon tall Corinthian and Ionic columns.
The walks were of crushed limestone and in genoral color harmonized well with the color of the buildings, but the stone was crusted just fine enough to present innumerablo sharp points and edges to the feet of pedestrians, and it was not laid sufficiently thick to prevent the heavy Georgia mud from oozing through when tho winter rains fell. So the walks were not altogether sources of pride to the management.
The general appearance of the grounds and buildings was decidedly pleasing, and during the night illuminations, which wero frequent during the first few weeks, the scene from any one of several favorable locations was one of extraordinary beauty.
“ TIJE MIDWAY." The ethnological appendage to the World's Fair on the Midway Plaisance has had its imitators at every fair that has followed; but at Chicago one of the main objects was instruction of an intensely practical and valuable kind. Amusement and profit were secondary considerations. The experiment was successful there, for the Midway was very popular and profitable, both to the Fair and to the managers of tho various “ villages.” But at the latér fairs, including that in Atlanta, the original object of bringing together representatives of widely scattered races for educational purposes seems to have disappeared, and instead there have been presented numerous shows, many of them of rather a low order, for no other purposo than sordid gain.
THE EXHIBITS. Agricultural Building.-Tho most conspicuous of the exhibits in the Agricultural Building was the Arkansas State exhibit, which filled the entire building with the perfume of apples. There were also miscellaneous exhibits from South Carolina and Louisiana, two extensivo railroad exhibits, several from beer and whisky making concerns, and a great variety of minor exhibits of food products, etc.
Tho Forestry and Mining Building was under the charge of two officials of the United States Government, Dr. David T. Day, of the Geological Survey, anı Dr. B. E. Fernow, of the Agricultural Department, who were acting as officers of the Exposi. tion as well as employees of the Government. The building was filled principally with the class of exhibits indicated by its name. An exception was the Venezuelan exhibit, which consisted largely of wools, skins, etc. An effort was evidently made to set forth with a great deal of particularity the resources of the South in the way of forests and mines, for the most striking features of the display were the Southern woods, the illustrations of the turpentino industry,"statistical columns" represent. ing graphically the oxtent of the production of Southern mines, and a fine collection of Southern gems.
In the Machinery Building the most extensive exhibits were those of cotton manufacturing machinery and pumping engines; and the fact that cards indicating that tbese had been sold appearedi early may be taken as an evidence of enterprise in Southern manufacturers, for the mere fact that these machines were exhibited in such a place proves them to be of late design, even if not necessarily of the best. In this connection it may be well to mention as a matter of especial economic interest that there were also exhibited on the grounds a machine for picking cotton, and a new cotton press, which, if they come into general use, will greatly change the methods of handling cotton.
Cotton can not be cut and the fiber separated from the stalk as wheat is thrashed, for all the cotton ou a stalk does not ripen simultaneously. The same plant may have upon it at the same timo“squares,” blooms, unopened bolls, and ripe cotton ready for picking. The last should be picked as soon as practicablo to prevent it from being damaged by rain and dirt and from falling to the ground and being lost; but the rest of the plant must not bo injured, and the remaining bolls must be allowed to como to maturity in order to realize the full value of the crop. Several pickings are therefore necessary. Heretofore nothing but the human hand has been able to do this, and cotton picking has been necessarily slow, laborious, and expensive. It usually costs a half cent a pound and sometimes as much as three-quarters of a cent. And the cotton as it is picked is worth not over 3 cents, for there are about 24 pounds of seed to every pound of fiber, and the latter brings only about 7} cents; the secd is of but little cash value to the farmer, even in this day of cottonseed oil mills.
Several attempts have been made to devise a machine to do the work of picking, but heretofore none of them has had oven reasonable success. The new machine exhibited in Atlanta is an ingenious and intricate piece of mechanism and a description of its details would bo out of place here. But it did pick cotton and it did not appear to damage the blooms or to knock off the unopened bolls. Its operation was far from being a complete success, but it demonstrated that the thing could be dono, and if finally successful it will result in important economic changes in the cotton belt, and play its part in the upbuilding of towns by lessening the number of laborers required in farm work.
According to the present method each picker carries a bag slung over his shoulders and puts into it the cotton as he picks it. At tho end of the row, or when the bag becomes uncomfortably heavy, he empties it into a large “split” basket, which in turn is hauled to a slied or barn to await the convenience of the farmer. When picked the fiber is full of seed, to which it is attached. This seed cotton must be banled to a gin-which is usually conducted after the manner of the old-time gristmills--and there the seed is separated from the lint or fiber by a series of fino saws. The lint emerges from the condenser attached to the gin in a broad, fleecy roll. This condenser, by the way, is a modern improvement, for within a comparatively few years the lint was thrown from the gin like a snowstorm into a “lint room," against an opening in the wall of which the gin was placed. At the same time the “ feeding” of the seed cotton into the gin was done by hand and was exceedingly dangerous because of the probability of the feeder's hand getting caught in tho saws. The automatic feeder and the condenser came into use abont the same time.
After coming from the condenser, according to present methods, the cotton is taken by hand to a press, usually operated now by steam but formerly by horse power, by which it is formed into a bale containing from 400 to 550 pounds, the average being somewhat less than 500 pounds. The bale is partly covered with jute bagging and is lield in shapo by iron ties or straps. If the bale is to be shipped North or to Europe it is usually compressed to about half its former size by means of powerful hydraulic compresses at some central point. This is done to facilitate shipping and to reduce the danger of fire, for in the loosely packed bale a spark may smolder for days, burn tho balo to a shell, and be communicated to surrounding bales before it is discovered.
Beforo reaching its final destination, whero it is made into cloth, the bale of cotton passes through tho hands of never less than three parties, namely, those of the local merchant, the warehouseman and cotton factor, and the final purchaser. Every one of these takes a sample from the bale in order to judge of its quality and determine the price to be paid. To get a fair sample a generous handful is taken, and to guard against fraud in packing, the sample is taken from as near the center of the bale as possible. Todo this the bagging iscut, and the loss to the bale is not only what is taken for the sample, but also that damaged as the result of the exposure of fresh surface to the dust and mud encountered on its travels. The bagging only partially covers the bale at best and the damage from this source is considerable. The loss to the producer from the system of sampling alono may be judged by the fact that cotton factors consider the samples as perquisites of the business and the receipts from their sale usually amount to enough to pay all expense for clerk hire.
The new system of baling, exhibited at Atlanta, is intended to obviate all these difficulties. The cotton as it comes from the condenser is automatically carried to a new type of press where it is rolled under heavy pressure into the form of a cylindrical bale of great density. It is then completely covered with heavy cotton canvas. Samples are taken out during the baling process and accompany the bale with the guaranty of the ginner of its correctness. The density of the new bale is greater than that of even a compressed bale, and it is claimed that it is practically impossible for it to burn, since all the air is pressed out in the baling.
There are three, and probably more, varieties of presses on the new rolling principle, there being differences in the size and woight of the bale proluced. But all
of them pross the cotton as it comes from the condenser, avoid the necessity of compressing, save the loss from wasteful sampling, lessen the danger of fire, and make a bale that can be handled and shipped more conveniently and economically than the old style, and be used more expeditiously by the manufacturer.
This digression for the description of the two new machines, the cotton picker and cylindrical press, is justified because they seem to be the most important of all the inventions brought into public notice by the Exposition and the most likely to have far-reaching effects.
The Georgia Manufacturers' Building was erected by the manufacturers of the State and was filled with Georgia goods. The impression made upon the thoughtful observer by this building and its contents was more profound than that made by any other building on tho ground, for here were found tho most striking evidences of “the new South.” Georgia is not only manufacturing cotton goods, but she is making, and making extensively and protitably, furniture, coffins, pianos, bicycles, wooden ware, plows, machinery, pumps, shoes, clothing, wagons-in fact, nearly every article in the range of human needs. And practically all theso industries are the growth of the last twenty-five years.
The Negro Building attracted wide attention and comment. It was the first exhibit ever presented on a similar occasion of the progress and condition of the negro in America. On the whole, the showing was very favorable for a race which was in the darkness of absolute savagery within a few generations and in abject servitude within a single generation. Most of the exhibits, however, were exhibits of institutions, not of individuals or firms. A mantel maker, a shoemaker, and probably one or two other artisans made exhibits, and so did certain social or benevolent societies, but as a whole the exhibit did not show so much what the negro is doing as what is being done for the negro. The building was filled almost wholly with work done in educational institutions and presumably under the eyes of instructors.
The Transportation Building was evidently named before the exhibits were placed, otherwise it would probably have been called the “Miscellanous Building" or something else indicative of variety. It contained farm machinery, trucks, optical goods, wagons, whetstones, bicycles, sporting goods, water filters, electric welding, boats, carriages, pottery, Chilean nitrates, the miscellaneous exhibits from Mexico, Venozuela, and Chatham County, Ga., and a great variety of other exhibits. Not even the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building could boast of a inore variegated assortment.
The Electricity Building, like most of tho others, contained many exhibits not justified by the designation of the building, but the number of articles improperly classified was not so painfully apparent as in the Transportation Building. The striking display seen at Chicago was inissing here, for there were none of the magnificent light effects that were such an attractive feature of the World's Fair; but there were several very creditablo and rather extensive exhibits.
The Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building was the largest on the gronnds, and from the variety of its exhibits was, next to the Government Building, the most attractive to the general public. The foreign section was located here, and from the novelty of the articles displayed attracted a large share of attention. The goods, almost without exception, were for immediate sale and were therefore of a class most likely to be desired as souvenirs. There were enameled jewelry in great profusion, Venetian glassware, porcelains, pottery, embroidery, amber goods, marble statuettes, French furniture, fans, and tortoise-shell combs, Russian enamel ware, etc. All the foreign exhibits in this building were without official status and could not be said to be representative of the countries from which they ostensibly came. Many of the exhibitors were, in fact, regular dealers in such wares in larger cities of this country, or were migratory merchants who go from exposition to exposition for the sale of their goods. This, by the way, is a new and peculiar phase of the exposition business that has developed since expositions have become so common. Even the elabo. rate and beautiful model of the World's Fair, said to have been designed by the builder of the famous Ferris wlieel, was constructod with a view to exhibition for profit at one fair after another. This is but the best of scores of schemes with the same purpose in view.
The American exhibits in the Manufactures Building naturally included a curious mixture of articles. Pianos, cod-liver oil, tombstones, sewing machines, ice-cream freezers, rapid-tire guns, eyeglasses, paints and varnishes, artificial legs, office fixtures, bicycle tires, books, shaving stones, drugs, duplicating apparatus, baby food, Pennsylvania natural history, perfumery, magic lanterns, water filters, stoves, writing paper, candy, etc., were to be found under the same roof.
On the second floor of this building were the displays of photographers and the educational exhibits, which will receive separate treatment.
The Gorernment Building was generally considered the best part of thc Exposition, and it might have been expected that it should be. The funds for the preparation of the exhibit were ample, and all the magniticent collections of the Government in Washington were at the disposal of the board of management; but moro than all else the officials in charge were men experienced in that line of work. Nearly all had been concerned in the preparation of exhibits au previons expositions, and one, Mr. Earle, of the Smithsonian Institution, had been identified with no less than eleven. The tremendous advantage of this experience was apparent on the opening day, when the Government Building was swept and garnished, its exhibits complete in every detail, while the other buildings were all disorder and chaos, with scarcely anything ready for inspection.
The display of the Fish Commission, with its beautifully arranged tanks of live fish, its hatcheries, nets, sounding and dredging apparatus, etc., was almost constantly crowded with visitors. The Smithsonian Institution and National Museum exhibit was nearly as popular; it contained a great variety of material and was skillfully and attractively arranged.
In the space allotted to the Interior Department were exhibits of mechanical models by the Patent Office; charts, fossils, minerals, casts, etc., by the Geological Survey; books, statistics, charts, and photographs by the Bureau of Education; and Indian school work by the Indian Office.
The Department of Agriculture exhibited a collection of fibers, models of fruit and fungi, specimens of grasses and soils, some injurious birds and insects; the work and methods of the Bureau of Animal Industry of the Weather Bureau and of the laboratory for testing seeds were also shown.
The Treasury Department had a tastefully arranged display of models of lighthouses and light-house equipments, coins and medals, bills, bonds, revenue stamps, weights and measures, and pictures of public buildings.
The Department of Justice had a small collection of legal works, photographs of prisons, and objects showing the work of prisoners.
The Department of State showed a set of official blanks, a number of original Presidential proclamations, some exceedingly interesting letters from foreign potentates to Presidents of the United States, several historic swords, and a few massive medals presented by foreign countries to the United States to commemorate in portant events.
The Post-Office Department exhibit included models of mail ships and of a postal car, a very completo collection of stamps, curios taken from “dead” letters, articles showing the operation of foreign postal services, etc.
The Navy Department showed models of the vessels of the now navy, a torpedo boat, rapid-fire and machine guns, small arms and instruments used on shipboard.
The War Department had a number of groups of figures showing the uniforms of the army at various periods, siege and field guns, apparatus for signaling, arctic relics, muskets and small arms, flags, war-timo wagons, torpedoes, and models of engineering works on the Mississippi and other rivers.
Though all the Departments were entirely separate, tho samo general scheme of decoration prevailed all through the building, and there was constant interchange of views among the managers, so that there was a certain unity apparent in the building that was not to be seen in any of the others.
The Woman's Building was cut up into rooms of varying sizes, and each room was assigned to some locality or some organization which took charge of the exhibit in it. Needlework and china painting wero naturally most conspicuous in a collection of woman's work, but there were also wood carvings, statuary, portraits, and a thousand other things which only a woman could enumerate or fully appreciate. Of course the arrangement was tasteful and the effect was pleasing. In the basement a kindergarten was conducted for a part of the time, and in the "model school building near by a school was taught. Throughout the ladies exhibited a commendable degree of enthusiasm, energy, and enterprise, and contributed no little to the success of the Exposition.
The Fine Arts Building contained a collection of pictures gathered principally from Northern cities, though many of them were from the easels of European painters. Some of the pictures were undoubtedly meritorious, and though the collection as a whole could not be said to be of the highest character, it was by no means discreditable. But here, too, the commercial spirit of the whole Exposition cropped out; a large sign, conspicuously posted, stated that most of the pictures were for sale, and solicited inquiries as to prices, etc., to be made at the office of the superintendent of the building.
THE GENERAL EDUCATIONAL EXHIBIT.
The educational department of the exhibit was not organized until the spring of 1895, and labored under a great disadvantage because of the limited time that remained in which to work. The department was in the charge of Hon. William J. Northen, who had been a prominent teacher for years, had been governor of the State for two terms, and was and is a man of marked executive ability and high standing. Realizing the difficulties of organizing a satisfactory exhibit so late in