The Transcontinental Railroad Act is the first step in creating a continental common market.

— Charles R. Morris

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The evolution was always to greater scale and speed.

Other countries did that here and there - GB in textiles, Germany in steel - but we went in that direction almost across the board.

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The drive to scale in almost every endeavor.

The British went very large scale in ship building and a few other industries. Their steel plants were bigger and much more advanced than ours after the Civil War, but we had blown past them by the mid-80s.

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By 18th century standards, they [Great Britain] were the freest, most dynamic, most willing to challenge tradition and authority. They had the highest wages and highest living standard, and probably the most engagement between the populace and the government of any country. Then the United States took those same qualities to the nth degree, and the British were suddenly appeared stodgy and tradition-bound.

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The kind of precision manufacturing epitomized in the armories, while it was important, was only a small share of the economy until quite late in the century. Large-scale natural resource development and processing was the name of the game.

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We were suddenly getting big, with burgeoning capabilities on all sides, but very clumsy, knew we were on some kind of ride, and things changing fast, but with very little idea of what was going on.

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Military power tends to be a function of economic power, and the British Navy was the essential capability for establishing the imperial sway - which was attuned to furnish the raw materials for the British manufacturing ascendance. So they were mutually reinforcing.

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The paradigm of the development of natural resource-based industry - meatpacking, lard, timber, iron and coal, grain. Cincinnati's lard processing plants looked a lot like JDR's oil refineries thirty years later.

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I've been in China enough to know that you shouldn't opine on it unless you speak Chinese and have lived there for twenty years. I wasn't pretending to be a China expert in that final chapter. I was just pointing, first to the parallels between Chinese behavior toward us and ours toward GB when we were at the same stage of development, and secondly to how much harder their development path is than ours was.

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We demonstrated what you could do when a band of entrepreneurs settles an empty country with vast resources. The Chinese have a billion people and are running out of water. Tougher problem for sure.

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Land Grant College Act is the jewel of Republican reform.

It had not occurred to any other country to educate their farmers and workers. When the British studied the reasons for American success in 1851, the consensus was that Americans workers were well educated. So they didn't oppose progress the way British workers did.

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It's clear that North took some original steps in that direction, but Hall probably had the most complete approach and should get the most credit. But for Hall, unfortunately, the data are all impressionistic - what people said. None of his machinery survived. His patents were all lost in the Patent Office fire.

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I find her [Frances Trollope] simply delightful, even in her prejudices and cantankerousness. It is a gift to an author to find a funny, wry, perceptive contemporary observer to whom the subject matter seems almost as different and alien, and requiring as much struggling to understand, as it did to me.

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About Charles R. Morris

Quotes 29 sayings
Profession Lawyer
Birthday 1924

merica was middle-class for the very start - the people who came first were hyper-strivers from England. There were no vested interests, no ranks, no classes, it was very lightly populated, there were unlimited natural resources - for free essentially - if you failed, you could always start over.

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I think it was the occasion of the final psychological break with Great Britain, in a way that had clearly not happened to that date, especially in New England and to som degree in the South.

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I've been among their critics [MBA programs].

Much of what I've seen in business schools is quite non-rigorous. Anecdotal histories are stretched to illustrate favored slogans. Evidence of their effectiveness is similarly anecdotal.

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n truth, we don't know a whole lot of what Simeon North did.

He did manage to match John Hall's ability to make interchangeable parts, but it's not clear how much of that came from Hall and how much was original with North.

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It may not be replicable: One of the hardest transition that a developing country can make is the transition to middle-class status. Governments have to let go, people start insisting on following their own lights, etc.

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The War of 1812 perhaps the least remembered of American wars because it was fought in such a left-handed slapdash manner on both sides.

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I would speculate that a critical mass of the population has to internalize a middle class outlook first. International aid experience has demonstrated many times that just building railroads doesn't get you there. You need people ready to sue them.

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John D. Rockefeller was certainly the first to create a consumer product that was sold literally throughout the entire world. Those blue 5-gallon cans showed up in some of the remotest parts of the world.

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No specific technology. My guess is that it was the instinct always to go to maximum scale. Great Britain kept much more of a small shop mindset well into the twentieth century, for instance.

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After I finished the Tycoons - on post-Civil War development - I realized how much I didn't know about the first half of the century, even though there had obviously been an enormous amount of development, so I read about and thought about that for a couple of years before I decided I was ready for a book.

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Business schools tend to focus on topics that are suitable to blackboards, so they overemphasize organization and finance. Until very recently, they virtually ignored manufacturing. I think of lot of the troubles of the 1970s and 1980s, and now more recently the 2000s can be traced pretty directly to the biases of the business schools.

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For just a few dollars registration, you got temporary possession of a good piece of land. Live on it for five years, build a house, and farm it, and it was yours. What a brilliant economic stimulus!

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Whitney proved to be a competent manufacturer, but wasn't an original inventor to any important degree. Thomas Blanchard was a true genius: his stock making machine was the daddy of all the industrial profiling machinery, like the 1870s universal milling machine, that was the especial American contribution to machining technology. By that time, the British conceded that machinery innovation had shifted to America.

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It wasn't openly talked about very much, in the sense that people said they wanted to beat GB at this or that, but there would however be sidelong comparisons frequently in press commentary. And it was also pretty quickly obvious that no other countries were developing the kind of technological depth of industry as were the US and the UK.

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My neck is too arthritic to snap around.

The big shift in my perspective that happened in the writing process, however, was the paramount importance of the "West" epitomized by Cincinnati.

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Credit is the air that financial markets breathe, and when the air is poisoned, there's no place to hide.

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