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1130 A. D., Roger, second King of Sicily, erected a silk manufactory at Palermo, and another in Calabria, there setting to work artisans whom he had taken captive during his expedition to the Holy Land.
In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries this industry had been domesticated in France, but it was not till 1564 that the production of the raw material had been fully established. During that year, Traucat, a gardener, succeeded in forming a nursery of white mulberry trees (Horus alba) at Nismes. In a few years the culture and manufacture of silk had spread over the southern provinces of France. Prior to this some French noblemen, returning from the conquest of Naples, brought back to Dauphine a few silk-worms, and some mulberry saplings, which they planted, and of which they endeavored to establish the culture. This aristocratic experiment, however, not being made with practical intelligence, entirely failed. Under Henry IV, the silk culture and manufacture of France greatly prospered, being encouraged by the liberal and munificent patronage of the Duke of Sully, the prime minister, who established a nursery of silk-worms in the gardens of the Tuileries. The production of both fiber and fabric had largely increased in France, especially among the Huguenot population. The insane bigotry of Louis XIV, as exhibited in the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, drove this splendid industry into neighboring and rival countries, raising up a destructive competition to the French monopoly. In spite of unfavorable climatic conditions in England, the culture and manufacture of silk, first encouraged by James I, became successful. The importation of raw material from other countries formed the basis of an extensive manufacturing industry.
In 1629 the silk throwsters of London formed themselves into a corporation, which as early as 1661 embraced 40,000 persons.
The revocation of the Edict of Nantes, in 1685, contributed to the enlargement of the English silk trade, by the settlement of a large colony of French Huguenot silk wearers of superior skill at Spitalfields. The silk throwing mill at Derby in 1719 served to extend this industry, and in 1730 English silks successfully invaded the markets of Italy, bringing higher prices than the Italian silks. The silk industry has also had a great expansion in Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, and Germany.
The introduction of silk culture into America was almost coeval with its first settlement by the English. In the early period of Virginia colonization, James I strongly urged upon the London Company energetic measures for the cultivation of the mulberry. In a characteristic letter to the company, he enjoins upon the members diligent application to the culture of silk in all its branches, rather than to the growth of tobacco, against which he published' his celebrated “counterblast.” The members of the company addressed themselves to the enterprise so strongly recommended by the King, but its speedy dissolution prevented any very effective action. In 1051, however, during the commonwealth, the culture of the mulberry was resumed in Virginia, that tree having been found to be indigenous. In 1660 a coronation robe, woven from silk spun by Virginia silk-worms, was worn by Charles II. The superior profits of tobacco culture, however, interfered with the silk culture, which disappeared from that State before the close of the eighteenth century.
Efforts were made to introduce silk culture into all the American colonies. In 1718 the Spaniards introduced it into Louisiana. lts inauguration in Georgia was an object of strenuous exertion both on the part of the colonists and of the Imperial Parliament. Private donations and public subsidies of land were devised for the purpose. In 1732 a
number of skilled artisans were sent over from Europe, but the treacherons person in charge of the party destroyed the machinery, eggs, and trees, and then fled the country. An Italian masterworkman was secured, who proved more trustworthy. Under his management this beautiful industry began to flourish. In 1735 a splendid robe of Georgia silk was made in England, and subsequently worn by Queen Caroline on great state occasions. In 1740 1,000 pounds of cocoons were exported, realizing high prices. A large silk establishment was erected at Savannah, which, in 1758, absorbed 10,000 pounds of cocoons, an ag. gregate which, in 1766, had enlarged tó 20,000. During this period the annual export of raw silk ranged from 500 to 1,000 pounds. These were the halcyon days of silk culture.
The withdrawal of government bounties in the last-named year caused an immediate decline in production, which, during the Revolu. tionary War, entirely ceased. The attention of the planters after the war being directed exclusively to cotton-raising, the silk culture was never revived.
· In South Carolina this interest had some prosperity in the ante-revolutionary times. The mother of the celebrated Pinckneys sent some raw silk produced on her plantation to England, where it was woren into tissues. Gowns made of it were presented to the mother of George III and to the Earl of Chesterfield; but, under the operation of the same causes which prostrated the Georgia business, the South Carolina silk culture disappeared.
Silk culture was also encouraged by parliamentary bounties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In 1770 Dr. Franklin sent home from Europe mulberry cuttings, silk-worms, and eggs. The following year a silk establishment was set up in Philadelphia, which, for several years, worked up large quantities of cocoons. A lady of Lancaster County raised cocoons from which a piece of silk of fifty yards was fabricated, and of this a court dress was sent to the Queen, who acknowledged the donation by a handsome present to the fair donor.
New Jersey also raised groves of mulberry trees and produced cocoons of good quality in considerable quantities, as did also Massachusetts and Connecticut. In 1747 Governor Law appeared in silk coat and stockings of home production, and a few years later President Stiles, of Yale College, appeared at commencement in flowing robes of Connecticut silk. In 1770 Boston and New Haven contended for the supremacy in the silk trade. A flourishing manufactory was in operation at Mansfield, Connecticut, and others at Ipswich, Massachusetts; while Northampton was noted for the extent of its mulberry groves and nurseries. But all these enterprises gave way before the same causes which had ruined silk culture in the Southern States. At the opening of the present century scarce a vestige of this once-promising industry remained. Though silk culture has not witnessed any general revivals, yet in certain localities it seems to have been prosecuted to some extent. Mansfield, Connecticut, produced in 1839 about five tons of raw silk. At Washington, Pennsylvania, it has maintained itself continuously. It was introduced into the New York State Prison at Auburn in 1841, and the first year produced $13,000 worth of sewing silk. It seemed to be gradually gaining in the country, when, about twenty-five years ago, the explosion of the Morus multicaulis speculation again prostrated it. Since that time it has been slowly recovering from that reaction.
In 1840 the silk crop of the United States was estimated at 60,000 pounds, worth about $250,000. In 1814 it had increased to 400,000 pounds,
worth about $1,500,000; by the census of 1850 it had fallen to 14,763 pounds. The census of 1860 exhibited a still smaller aggregate, viz., 11,944 pounds, but the manufacture of sewing silk in Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York showed a marked increase. The annual product of raw and manufactured silk in those States was set down at $5,000,000. Ribbons and small stuffs exhibited a very considerable enlargement. Since that time the business has made steady progress.
As a nation we have special advantages in the prosecution of this great industry. The ante-revolutionary experiments demonstrated the physical capacity of the Atlantic slope from Massachusetts to Georgia for this culture. Other and more profitable investments of capital and labor absorbed the productive enterprise of this portion of our country, but we have reason to believe that the time lias come when the silk culture may be recommenced with every prospect of profitable results. The Middle and Western States of our Union promise equal returns to this beautiful industry.
But the Pacific slope seems to combine all the higher requisites of success. The soil of this region is admirably adapted to the white mulberry, (Horus alba,) which is propagated with little effort, and grows with great luxuriance and of exquisite quality. The climate of California, however, is the distinguishing element of its silk production. According to an intelligent gentleman largely interested in the silk culture on the Pacific coast, the rain and damp of European climates destroy a large proportion of the grubs, while from this cause and from the presence of explosive electricity from 25 to 75 per cent of the silk-worms perish. Under the dry, elastic skies of California this waste is entirely avoided. Here is an advantage greatly compensating the higher prices of labor in this country. At the Paris Exposition of 1867 the finest cocoons in the entire concourse were from California.
The Pacific silk culture enjoys special advantage in its exemption from the necessity of artificial leat to hatch the eggs of the silk-worm. To transfer them from the cellar and expose them to the sun's rays is amply sufficient. The baking process, which is so apt to dim the luster of the silk, is also an evil to which the California silk-grower is not subjected. The eggs produced in this genial climate are also in great demand in foreign countries. They are exported to points along the entire Pacific coast of North and South America, and even to China, Japan, and Europe. The capital already invested is large. The most extensive cocooneries are in the neighborhood of Santa Barbara. One large enterprise in that locality was started a few years ago with the planting of 10,000 mulberry trees, and in 1867 produced upward of 300,000 cocoon's of very superior character and market value. It is found that many of the localities of that State—unsuitable for cultivation-will yield special facilities for silk culture. The foot-hills and plains along the western base of the Sierra Nevada will yet, it is very probable, become as noted for magnificent silk as the gorges of that mountain range have been for the production of the precious metals, or its intervening valley for stupendous crops of cereals.
The progress of silk culture in California has been hampered by a lack of proper understanding of its processes. The silk-worm is a delicate animal, requiring close attention to the conditions essential to its growth and health. The year 1869 witnessed a great drawback to the silk business from unskillful operations. In the fall of 1868 it was estimated that there were in the State 1,000,000 live cocoons, and that these produced butterflies which laid' 100,000,000 eggs. Many silk-growers placed their eggs in ice boxes, and consequently lost them. The growth of mulberry trees had not been secured commensurate with such demand upon them, and the supply of food for the worms was not forthcoming.
Until this preliminary requisite of success is fully secured, it will be necessary to export a large proportion of the eggs produced; but a large and increasing export trade is reported. California eggs have attained a high reputation in Europe, and especially in France, producing worms which are exempt from most of the diseases which destroy so large a proportion of the worms of those regions.
The light of increasing experience cannot fail to remove many of the hindrances to the industry in this State and to extend it to the entire Pacific slope. The profits to be derived from an intelligent pursuit of the silk business in all its branches have, as yet, been very imperfectly indicated. The difficulty of feeding worms, resulting from the backward growth of the mulberry, is necessarily but temporary, and decreases with each year. Immense nurseries have already been established, from which orchards are constantly being set out. From a number of authentic cases reported, the experience of Mr. J. N. Hoag may be selected as illustrating the results of the application of practical intelligence to this business with a small outlay of capital. In 1868 he fed the leaves of Morus multicaulis trees, covering three and a half acres, to silkworms, commencing June 1, and closing July 25. As the product of this feeding he sold 486 ounces and 13) pennyweights of eggs, at $4 per ounce, amounting to $1,946 70. He retained for himself and friends eggs valued at $1,897 50, and sold perforated cocoons worth $75 30, making a total receipt of $3,922. From this, deducting $172 for labor and other expenses, he found he had cleared $1,000 per acre with but 60 days' work.
But the production of eggs is by no means the principal source of profit in the silk business. In its present preliminary of course it will absorb the bulk of the capital and labor available for the enterprise, but when this industry shall have developed its full proportions, it is beyond doubt that the egg trade will be but a subordinate pursuit. Yet it is capable of immense expansion. By the system of dwarting the trees it is possible to obtain double the amount of foliage that can be secured under the orchard system. Two crops of leaves per acre, weighing 64,000 pounds, may be raised, which, at the rate of 100 pounds of reeled silk, give 610 pounds of silk as the produce of a single acre. Even the poorer quality of reeled silk is worth $7 per pound, while that produced in California from the tri-voltine Japanese worms sells in San Francisco market at $9 per pound. But taking the lower prices as the average, and the gross product of reeled silk per acre is not less than $4,480. The gross expenses of the operation are estimated at $2,140, showing a net profit of $2,310 per acre by combining the egg business with the reeling of silk.
The fabrication of silk properly belongs to manufacturing, and not to agricultural industry. This business is, of course, in its infancy on the Pacific coast, yet some very promising enterprises have been started. A company at San José has erected an establishment iutended to embrace some 40 looms. The stock has also been subscribed for another establishment of similar character at San Francisco. The census of 1860 returned in the United States 95 establishments for the manufacture of silk and fancy goods, fringes and trimmings; that is, all kinds of silk fabrics, while the establishments for the preparation of the fiber in the form of thread and twist numbered 42; total, 137. The entire capital invested in silk manufacture was $2,938,680, consuming $3,906,290 worth of raw material, paying $1,035,308 for the labor of 1,523 male and 3,837 female operatives, and producing an annual value of $6,589,171. The net profit amounted to $2,647,573, or over 90 per cent. on the capital invested. The returns of the census of 1870 are not yet sufficiently embodied to admit of a comparison. It is evident, however, that this manufacturing interest has enlarged in its value and proportions during the decade just closing. When we observe that the people of the United States import annually over $30,000,000 worth of silk goods, the scope of expansion of the silk enterprise is enormous.
The observations of scientific silk culturists in France and Italy have developed some very clear generalizations illustrating the capacity of different parts of a country to produce mulberry trees and silk-worms.
First. The culture of the mulberry tree and the breeding of silk-worins is possible up to a very high northern limit, fixed by the frequent recurrence of the temperature of 77° F.
Second. The limit of the mulberry is about the same as that of the grape. The climatic conditions essential to the success of either is about the same.
Third. The mulberry is successfully raised in Europe, and may be in America, on the sides of mountains, up to an elevation the mean annual temperature of which is 490 F.
Fourth. Damp or stormy climates are unfit for the breeding of the silk-worm.
Fifth. Malarial exhalations from swamps or marshes are injurious to the health of silk-worms.
Sixth. This industry is generally more successful when pursued in connection with other enterprises than when pursued independently. Under these conditions it is believed that a very large portion of the public lands of the United States is suited to the silk industry. It is thus presented as one of the elements of wealth leading to an early settlement of the public domain. Respectfully submitted.
JOS. S. WILSON,
Commissioner of the General Land Office. The Honorable SECRETARY OF TIIE INTERIOR.
Instructions to United States registers and receivers and surveyors general
in relation to the survey and entry of mining claims under the procisions of the act of Congress approved July 26, 1866, “ granting the right of way to ditch and canal owners over the public lands, and for other purposes," and the act amendatory thercof, approred July 9, 1870.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
General Land Office, August 8, 1870. GENTLEMEN: The original mining act of July 20, 1866, (14 U. S. Stat., p. 251,) baving been amended in adding to its provisions additional sections 12 to 17, inclusive, by the act of Congress approved July 9, 1870, it becomes my duty to prescribe, for your information and observance, the following regulations, to wit:
1. By the twelfth section of the amendatory act, placer claims, including all forms of deposit, excepting veins of quartz or other rock in place, are made subject to entry and patent under similar circumstances,