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Great White Fleet steamer costs more than $20,000, but those dollars did wonders back in the 'So's.

At first bananas bought from Jamaican growers were shipped to Boston in chartered swift-sailing schooners, but it was found unprofitable to depend altogether upon the multitude of petty growers whose crops were a yearly gamble with chance rather than a systematic effort at agriculture. Very soon the new company acquired tracts of suitable land and began the cultivation of bananas on a business-like scale. At the same time every encouragement was given to the native growers, who profited greatly by the scientific study of lands and methods which the fruit company directed from the


In spite of occasional hurricanes and frequent floods, Jamaica has always led in productivity of bananas. Last year more than 18,000,000 bunches came into the United States and Canada from that one island.

This industry, whose foundations were laid so valorously in 1885, has given to Jamaica nearly all its present prosperity, saving its people from the bankruptcy which threatened when Cuba, redeemed from anarchy and revolutions, became supreme in the sugar trade. At that time the newly formed United Fruit Company gave an impetus to banana cultivation that engaged the attention. even of the laziest Jamaican negro with his dozen plants beside a bamboo hut. It stimulated not only the growers but quite a number of rival importing companies, whose smaller size has remained due not to the competition but to lack of initiative and of that kind of indomitable energy which makes some men enjoy wrestling with and conquering a frontier.

That is another point to note in our study. Competition has been consistently encouraged and aided. Moreover, the retail price of bananas is determined not so much by the sup

ply on the market at any given time as by the relative scarcity of native fruits, and no one concerned in the transaction reaps a notable profit, the largest percentage going to the retail store. There are several alert and powerful importers, all of whom follow the United Fruit Company's example of putting their wares on the market without the intervention of middlemen, who extort large commissions but do not expedite distribution. When those who engage in the apple industry learn this lesson there will be more orchards, moderate prices, less apples rotting on the ground, and more prosperity and happiness for all concerned. At present we pay five cents for one decent eating apple raised a few miles away, while paying no more for three delicious bananas which have been brought 'all the way from the valleys of Central or South America.

There is no duty on bananasthanks to a press and the commonsense of a public which was quick to

denounce and defeat a proposed clause to that end in the present tariff measure, which would have annihilated all the weaker companies importing this fruit, and not only have ended competition but have consumed inore than the usual profit per bunch and thus inevitably have increased the retail price. The result of no duty also means that no officials delay unloading and no custom-house brokers exact a tribute ultimately to be paid by the consumer. There are no warehouses for the storage of bananas, with charges mounting every day they remain, no insurance, no speculative exchange with an army of employees and principals all depending for an income on alleged services later charged to the consumer. No municipal official has an opportunity to extort graft in the transit of the fruit from the docks to push carts and retail stores.

At its inception as a corporation the United Fruit Company established as a part of its policy the dictum. that it would make absolutely no ef

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fort to control, directly or indirectly, either the wholesale jobbing or retail trade. In accord with that policy it has no financial interest in any banana jobbing house or retail store. Of its Of its own volition the company has consistently refrained from attempting to raise, lower, or control in any way the prices charged by wholesalers or retailers. Students of the affairs and policies of great corporations will find in this novel procedure something well worthy of reflection.

Other superb traits of character im

press you as you get acquainted with this company, influences, of course, of the upright men who form its personnel. In particular there is its knack of doing big things in an honorable. and efficient way; its genuine patriotism in seeking, however unrecognized and unappreciated, the permanent. good of the lands it has opened to the world and in establishing a feeling of mutual friendship between those lands and the United States; and its ingenious ways of informing the public, such as the naming of its ships

after picturesque places of interest around the Caribbean Sea, and of promoting many a branch of science in understanding problems of the tropics. The policies that have convened to make the United Fruit Company the greatest agricultural enterprise in the world, unique among corporations, were all inaugurated by Mr. Preston and his partners almost thirty years ago and are exercised just as carefully under his leadership today. The financial secret of their phenomenal growth is just this-small profits on enormous sales. It was foreseen at the beginning that the fruit could never become a staple food if fancy prices were charged, and while a good deal of money might be made by

keeping it a luxury, that course would preclude every one of the aspiring plans Mr. Preston's mind was framing. So this company sends its products to the consumer with a unit of profit per banana and per pound of sugar so small it cannot readily be comprehended. The same principle makes the chain of Woolworth stores, the moving picture theatres, and the electric street railways yield dividends. Not even the rankest demagogue should raise his voice against an income compounded from such infinitesimal sums.

By 1899 it was evident that a great expansion must be made in the banana industry. The Boston merchants sought it in Central and South Amer

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ica, some of whose fruit they had bought when their own sources of supply ran short. During their formative years Fate had been preparing for this move another strong and fervent spirit in Mr. Keith, and there she had him, disciplined and waiting. The public had the benefit in more. and cheaper bananas. But in order to import bananas on an adequate scale the new company had to acquire extensive plantations; in order to acquire such plantations it had to clear primeval jungles, construct railways, bridges, and harbors, build cities, teach tropic agriculture to the reluctant natives of languid climes, and sustain vast losses caused by irresistible inclemencies of weather and the pursuit of experiment; in order to market its products it had to build and operate a great fleet of specially designed craft and organize the most efficient forwarding agency in the hemisphere. And each undertaking enumerated here included a whole series of subservient ventures, most of them pioneer.


One cannot narrate these things without having to resist at every paragraph the enchantment of them which try to beguile into chronicling their romance instead of their lessons in economic progress. We of New England, who so cherish the flavor of adventure and novel lands in stories of the sea, have in our midst a great corporation which has captured that elusive charm and linked it with our present everyday life. It is all there, even the wonders beyond the horizon in which fancy revels. So we need not dream of the far past any more, but look around.

There is a popular belief that problems of tropical sanitation were not attacked and mastered until Uncle Sam began cleaning house in Panama. The United States did not take over the Panama Canal and begin the sanitation of its Zone until 1903. In 1900, three years earlier, the United Fruit Company had an industrial army of more than 15,000 men at work on cultivated tracts covering more than 60,000 acres of normally

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