Passage 2 | Technological Developments
The Early American Steel Industry
The discovery of iron tools in Egypt that date back to 3,000 B.C. demonstrates that human civilizations have relied on this metal for millennia. Iron’s historical importance is due to several reasons—it is common in the planet’s crust, it can be easily shaped when heated, and it is more durable than wood or copper. In addition, iron can be made into an even stronger material by removing the impurities and controlling its carbon content. The resulting material is known as steel.
Before 1856, the process used to produce steel was so expensive and time-consuming that large-scale production was impractical. It ? was British engineer Henry Bessemer who, in 1855, patented a process for adding oxygen to melted iron in order to purify and raise the temperature of the metal. The Bessemer process required only a half an hour to n accomplish what had previously taken weeks, and the cost involved was greatly reduced. In 1856, with the invention of the Bessemer converter (a machine that performed this new process), Bessemer forever changed 2′ commercial steel production.
Soon after, Andrew Carnegie, a successful businessman in America, traveled to Bessemer’s steel factory in England, where he was inspired by the potential he 5 recognized in Bessemer’s invention. After returning to America, Carnegie began to invest in the expansion of his Freedom Iron Company. Carnegie was extremely driven and was determined to gain an edge over his competitors in the steel industry. In order to achieve this goal, he managed his business using an ambitious strategy called “vertical integration,” meaning that he attempted to control every stage of the steel production process. Carnegie owned the mines that produced the raw iron ore, the ships and railroads used in transportation of the product, and the mills that manufactured the steel. Because he was in charge of all the steps in the process, Carnegie did not have to pay fees to middlemen and was therefore able to reduce his production costs. As a result, he was able to increase the efficiency of his mills and sell steel supplies for prices cheaper than those of his competitors.
These low steel prices contributed to American economic growth, and the development of the industry provided many new jobs. In this way, Carnegie’s influence helped revolutionize the United States steel industry, which rapidly expanded as steel replaced iron as the primary manufacturing material. Used in construction and for railroad tracks, steel was soon in high demand worldwide, and America became the largest steel producer, raising its output from 1.25 million tons in 1880 to more than 24 million tons by 1910.
However, the growth of the United States economy was not the only effect of the steel industry. Unfortunately, there were negative results of this transformation as well. The early steel industry’s focus on maximizing production and minimizing costs often came at 3 the expense of the workers. The many dangers inherent in steel mills were made even more hazardous by long working hours without breaks and a lack of protective equipment. In response to these dangerous working conditions, labor unions were formed to help establish safety regulations that would protect steel workers.
In spite of his claims of supporting the rights of laborers, Carnegie kept his workers’ wages around the poverty line. In public he supported unions, but in practice he employed the adamantly anti-labor Henry Frick to oversee operations at the Homestead Works, one of Carnegie’s steel mills. In fact, it was at this mill that one of the most infamous labor disputes in U.S. history occurred. [A] In 1892, when the Carnegie Steel Company tried to lower workers’ wages, the steel workers’ union was unwilling to accept this pay cut. [B] In response, the management locked its employees out of the factory, and the confrontation continued for almost five months. [C] When Frick hired three hundred security guards to stop the strike, ten people were killed, and the National Guard of Pennsylvania was called in to control the situation. [D]
While the early U.S. steel industry helped the economy expand and enabled some business people, such as Andrew Carnegie, to uneasy relationship that was growing between American laborers and the corporations they American laborers and the corporations they worked under. As the steel industry inspired some people with dreams of becoming rich, it alerted others to the need for unions to protect laborers from the kind of exploitation demonstrated by the Carnegie Steel Company.
15. In paragraph 1, why does the author mention iron?
(A) To give an example of early metal- producing industries in the United States
(B) To compare the benefits of metal with other materials, like wood
(C) To introduce the drawbacks of steel by contrasting it with iron
(D) To explain that steel is derived from a material that was historically useful
16. According to paragraph 1, what can be inferred about the availability of iron?
(A) It is present in many parts of the world.
(B) It is highly concentrated in Africa.
(C> It is easy to obtain through trade.
(D) It is more common than wood.
17. According to paragraph 1, iron is changed into steel by
(A) heating it slowly for long periods of time
(B) purifying it and regulating the carbon content
(C) melting the metal at a low temperature
(D) combining the melted metal with copper
18. According to paragraph 2, the Bessemer converter was important because it
(A) was the only way to make steel
(B) made steel quickly and cheaply
(C) was a famous American invention
(D) made commercial iron production possible
19. According to paragraph 3, vertical integration means
(A) investing in companies in order to expand them
(B) increasing an employee’s wage every year
(C) overseeing all steps in the production process
(D) paying all production costs to middlemen
20. In paragraph 3, why does the author mention Andrew Carnegie?
(A) To disagree with the idea that middlemen were unnecessary
(B) To describe a business innovation that affected the American steel industry
(C) To contrast the American steel industry with the British steel industry
(D) To explain each step in the process of manufacturing steel
21. The word those in the passage refers to
22. The word primary in the passage is closest in meaning to
23. The word transformation in the passage is closest in meaning to
24. What can be inferred from paragraph 6 about Carnegie’s decision to hire Frick?
(A) Carnegie was not aware of Frick’s position regarding the labor movement
(B) Carnegie intended to use Frick to prevent pro-labor activity among employees.
(C) Carnegie did not believe that Frick’s position on labor would affect the mill.
(D) Carnegie wanted to help his employees organize a steel workers’ union.
25. Which of the sentences below best expresses the essential information in the highlighted sentence in the passage? Incorrect choices change the meaning in important ways or leave out essential information.
(A) The early steel industry benefited business owners and the American economy, but it also revealed problems in the corporate world.
(B) Andrew Carnegie took advantage of the opportunity to expand his business into the steel industry.
(C) American laborers resented the businesspeople they worked for and disliked the power of the early steel industry.
(D) In the United States, national economic growth depended on the efforts of laborers who were employed in steel mills.
26. Look at the four squares [ ] that indicate where the following sentence could be added to the passage.
This tragedy demonstrated a serious difference of interests between factory owners and employees—a discrepancy that was becoming a national trend.
Where would the sentence best fit?
27 Directions: An introductory sentence for a brief summary of the passage is provided below. Complete the summary by selecting the THREE answer choices that express the most important ideas in the passage. Some sentences do not belong in the summary because they express ideas that are not presented in the passage or are minor ideas in the passage. This question is worth 2 points.
In American society, there were important changes that resulted when steel replaced iron as a construction material.
(A) Andrew Carnegie and Henry Bessemer collaborated to create a more efficient process for changing iron into steel.
(C) The poor working conditions that resulted from the American steel industry’s motivation to increase production and profits created a need for labor unions and safety regulations.
(E) Henry Frick was employed by Andrew Carnegie to minimize the influence of labor unions and insure that production in the mills remained constant.
(B) In America, the steel industry created jobs and boosted the economy, and by 1910 the country had become the worldwide leader in steel production.
(D) Employees of the steel mills often had to work in dangerous conditions and were not allowed ample time to rest.
(F) The United States steel industry gave factory owners the chance to make tremendous profits, while demonstrating the value of labor unions to workers.