The emergence of coal-based fuel economy over the course of the nineteenth century was one of the most significant contributions the America’s Industrial Revolution, but the transition from wood to mineral energy sources was a gradual one that transpired over a number of decades. The documents in these volumes recreate the institutional history of the American coal industry in the nineteenth century; in doing so they provide a first-hand perspective on the developments in regard to political economy, business structure and competition, the rise of formal trade unions, and the creation of a national coal trade. Although the collection strives to be wide-ranging in region and theme, the Pennsylvania anthracite coal trade forms the thematic backbone as it became the most important American mineral resource to see successful development throughout the nineteenth century and consequently saw unprecedented levels of intervention by the federal government. The texts for this collection were selected for their accessibility to modern readers as well as their relationship to a series of common themes across the nineteenth century American coal industry — with headnotes and annotations provided to explain their context and the reasons for their inclusion.
The third volume in this set traces the three decades following the American Civil War, during which time the use of coal for manufacturing, locomotives and domestic heating helped build a dynamic industrial economy in the United States. Mineral fuel growth powered the growth of the nation and by 1885 coal became the single most important source of American energy. Coal mining spread to nearly every corner of the nation in the half-century following the civil war. By the time of the Great Anthracite Strike in 1902, the American coal industry was a truly national phenomenon. The rise of large and well-funded mining and railroad corporations, the national unions, and the inroads by state governments into mine safety all suggest a significant reshaping had occurred.