No. I. In No. 4, current volume of the Scientific American, we expressed our belief that at some future day the United States would manufacture the whole amount of the sugar needed for home consumption, and we further stated that this sugar would, in all probability, be made from the beet. We now think the time has come for the country to free itself, at as early a date as possible, from dangerous dependence on the foreign production of this staple, so as to avoid sudden variations in prices, and inconveniences arising therefrom, such as have actually occurred in consequence of the recent revolt in the island of Cuba. We consider the subject of beet root sugar production in the United States to be of such vital importance to the interests of the wliole community, that we have determined on publishing a series of articles, illustrated with the necessary engravings, concisely elucidating the whole question, statistically, economically, agriculturally, and technologically. This is the more necessary, as no really reliable and complete treatise on beet root sugar has ever been, to our knowledge, published in the English language. We sincerely hope by so doing to be the means of stimulating the monied men and the agriculturists of the country into flctive measures, which we are fully convinced must result advantageously, both to the public in general and to themselves in particular. Should we succeed in this object, we shall consider ourselves fully rewarded for our efforts toward I its attainment. The island of Cuba has been making about half a million of tuns of sugar annually upon 1,365 estates; this quantity i approximates to one-third nearly of the consumption of the world. Our refiners have been in the habit of drawing their principal supplies of raw sugar from this source, but they will soon have to look to some other, as nobody can doubt that the day of the emancipation of the Cuban slaves is fast dawning, and that a repetition here of what took place in the island of Jamaica, under similar circumstances, is to be expected, namely, a sudden falling off in the production of over eighty per cent. Let us not be unprepared for such an emergency, which would inevitably force us into purchasing European beet root sugars at much more onerous prices than would make their home production a profitable industry. Below we give a table exhibiting the totals consumption of sugar in the United States along with the amount of foreign imports for the last eight years. This conveys to the mind a better idea of the magnitude of the sugar trade than any lengthy dissertation of ours could do. These statements are compiled from the Reports of the Chamber of Commerce of the city of New Tork. Annual con-Total annual con- Yp1. Imports of for- sumption of sumption of both **"" eign sugar. foreign sug- foreign and native ar. sugare in the U. S. Tuns. Tuns. Tuns. 1860.......... 341,532 296,950 415,281 1861.......... 242,908 241,420 363,819 1862.......... 247,015 241,411 432,411 1863.......... 243,137 231,808 284,308 1864.... ..... 214,099 192,660 220,660 1865.......... 362,243 345,809 350,809 1866.......... 403,497 383,178 391,678 1867.......... 355,801 378,068 400,568 From the above figures we compute that, we, as a people, are paying for sugar to foreigners, with whom we have comparatively no exchanges, a sum, which for the year 1887 alone, and at ten cents per lb., amounted to no less than $84,687,-232; a sum which, if paid yearly for ten years, with interest compounded, would be considerably more than the equivalent of one-half of our present national debt. By manufacturing our own sugar the whole of this large amount of capital would remain in the country. If the population of the United States, including negroes, in 1867 be estimated at 35,000,000, we find that the consumption per capita (including both races) was 28'97 lbs. per annum, an increase of 2'5 per cent over the preceding year. TheTconsumption of the Pacific States in 1867 was 18,000 tuns. During this period 22,000 tuns of maple sugar were also manufactured. The whole production of the Southern States did not, in 1867, amount to over 5 6-10ths of the whole consumption of the country. The average.yieldof Louisiana before and since the war, is interesting: From 1822 to 1825 it averaged 30,000 hogsheads " 1842 to 1843 " 140,316 " 1844 to 1845 " 204,913 1845 to 1850 " 211,825 " 1850 to 1856 " 276,640 " 1856 to 1859 " 287,944 In 1865, Louisiana made 5,000 tuns of sugar; in 1866, 8,500 tuns; in 1867-68, 22,500 tuns, or only 20,000 hogsheads more than she had produced forty years before. The average price of Southern sugar, from 1845 to 1850 was $52-50 per hogshead of 1,000 lbs.; in 1853 it fell as low as $35, and rose in 1855 to $110. If our average imports of cane sugar should continue to be about one billion of pounds, as at present, we have calculated that this amount could be made from the beets grown on less than 555,555 acres of good land, a quantity which we could readily spare from other crops without interfering materially with the prices of ordinary farm produce. In order to show the extent of the beet root sugar interest in Europe, we indicate the production for the year 1867-68; it is as follows: Tnna. France................................220,000 The Zollverein........................165,000 Russia................................ 97,500 Belgium.............................. 32,500 Poland and Sweden.................... 15,000 Holland............................... 7,500 Austria................................, 92,500 630,000 The gradual increase in production has been remarkably illustrated in France, which, in 1827, had 39 factories making 1,218,000 kilogrammes of sugar, and in 1860 had 336 making 126,180,000 kilogrammes. The German Zollverein averaged from 1840 to 1846 about 129 factories, which made 241,487 cwt. of beet root sugar; in 1865 the production had reached 3,300,000 cwt. Russia, in 1866-67, in the departments of Kiew, Podolia, and Volhynia manufactured 1,153,880 cwt, where, fifteen years before, not one pound had been grown. The gradual increase in the consumption of sugar by the working classes of Europe is singularly indicative of the effects of abundance and low prices. In 1822, the consumption of sugar for every inhabitant in Germany amounted to only 1- lb. per annum; from 1830 to 1840 it rose to 4 2-5ths; in 1848, it had reached 5; in 1857, it was &, and to-day it is a little over 10 lbs. The improvements in the manufacture of beet root stigar have followed the increasing demand, and the gradual augmentation of internal revenue levied on it. In 1845, the average product in raw sugar did not exceed 5 per cent of the weight of the beets; three years later it had reached 6f, and to-day it is about 8 to 8-J per cent: The objections made by many persons to the establishment of this branch of industry on the continent are generally specious. They are comprehended in the following queries : " Can American beet root sugar compete in price with the colonial sugars, or even with Louisiana cane sugar, and is not our labor too high to permit of any comparison being made between European manufactures and our own ? " " Are>rar conditions of soil and climate as suitable to the growth of the beet as they are on the other side of the Atlantic?" " Does the beet grown in the United States contain as much sugar as it does in Europe, and can it be as readily extracted?" In answer to the first of these questions (which we shall fully enter into with necessary figures to sustain our assertions in a future issue), we must content ourselves for the present with stating that the protective duty on foreign sugars, combined with the absence of any tax on home made beet root sugars, and the fact that good beet lands can be purchased in fee simple in America for less than one-quarter of the annual rental of such lands in Europe, are in themselves sufficient to allow us to hold our own against all outsiders. To this may be added a peculiarity of the beet, that of leaving no waste or residue, as is the case with the cane. The beet, after all the juice has been extracted, is not merely valueless bagasse, but constitutes a most excellent material for the fattening of live stock during the winter months. Beet root molasses makes good brandy and alcohol. The residue of distillation furnishes potash. The green leaves at the time of harvesting are used as a manure, being rich in ammonia, and when dried, are largely consumed as an admixture with the lower grades of manufactured tobacco. The production of beet sugar is well known to be one of the most remunerative investments in Europe, where the number of sugar establishments is constantly on the increase, and yet beyond what has been done by one small, but apparently prosperous German establishment in one of our Western States, not a single field of fifty acres of genuine sugar beet has ever been grown in America. We have recently heard of a company in California who intend starting an establishment in that State within a short period of time. We wish them success, and hope that their example will be followed on the more eastern portions of the continent by some of our men of enterprise. The beet in America, wherever it has been analyzed, and this has been done to our knowledge in the States of Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Tork, and others, has never been found te contain less than llper cent of sugar, and has generally tested 12 per cent. Of this quantity, we extract, by our modern processes of manufacture at least, eight-tenths. Tne results of numerous experiments on a scale of sufficient magnitude to be conclusive, made in the States of New Jersey, Illinois, and elsewhere, have proved that 20 tuns of beets is a very ordinary crop in this country. This being the case, we may expect to make, at the rate of 8 per cent of sugar, the large quantity of 3,584 lbs. out of the 44,800 lbs. of the beet produced on one acre. In Louisiana the average quantity of cane sugar per acre seldom reaches two hogsheads. With the exception of the extreme North and Northwestern States, and the far South, the whole extent of the territory of the United States, wherever the soil if of the right quality, such as we shall indicate in our next article, may be made to produce the sugar beet. Our manual labor is said to be too high; but if this be the case, may we be allowed to ask, how our producers manage to ship to European ports our flour, wheat, cotton, tobacco, and many other articles ? The secret rests with the fact that the cheapness and natural fertility of our lands, more than compensate for superior cost of labor. We do not fear to express the opinion that Tankee beet root sugar will, at no very distant day, be offered in the markets of the world in successful competition with both colonial or European brands. In our future articles, we shall attempt to show how this result can be attained. Variation in our Domestic Productions. It has been boldly maintained by some authors that the amount of variation to which our domestic productions are liable is strictly limited; but this is an assertion resting on little evidence. Whether or not the amount in any particular direction is fixed, the tendency to general variability seems unlimited. Cattle, sheep, and pigs have been domesticated and have varied from the remotest period, as shown by the researches of Rutimeyer and others, yet these animals have, within quite recent times, been improved in an unparalleled degree; and this implies continued variability of structure. Wheat, as we know from the remains found in the Swiss lake habitations, is one of the most anciently cultivated plants, yet at the present day new and better varieties occasionally arise. It may be that an ox will never be produced of larger size or finer proportions than our present animal% or a race horse fleeter than Eclipse, or a gocscberry larger than the London variety; but he would be a bold man who would assert that the extreme limit in these respects has been finally attained. With flowers and fruit it has repeatedly teen asserted that perfection has been reached, tut the standard has203soon been excelled. A breed of pigeons may never be produced with a beak shorter than that of the present short-faced tumbler, or with one longer than that of the English carrier, for these birds have weak constitutions and are bad breeders; but the shortness and length of the beak are the points which have been steadily improved during at least the last one hundred and fifty years; and some of the best judges deny that the goal has yet been reached. We may also reasonably suspect, from what we see in natural species of the variability of extremely modified parts, that any structure, after remaining constant during a long series of generations, would, under new and changed conditions of life, recommence its course of variability, and might again be acted on Toy selection. Nevertheless, as Mr. Wallace has recently remarked with much force and truth, there must be both with natural and domestic productions a limit to change in certain directions; for instance, there must be a limit to the fleet-ness of any terrestrial animal, as this will be determined by the friction to be overcome, the weight to be carried, and the power of contraction in the muscular fibers. The English racehorse may have reached this limit, but it already surpasses in fleetness its own wild progenitor, and all other equine species. It is not surprising, seeing the great difference between many domestic breeds, that some few naturalists have concluded that all are descended from distinct aboriginal stocks, more especially as the principle of selection has been ignored, and the high antiquity of man, as a breeder of animals, has only recently become known. Most naturalists, however, freely admit that various extremely dissimilar breeds are descended from a single stock, although they do not know much about the art of breeding, cannot show the connecting links, nor say where and when the breeds arose. Tet these same naturalists will declare with an air of philosophical caution, that they can never admit that one natural species has given birth to another until they behold all the transitional steps.. But fanciers have used exactly the same language with respsct to domestic breeds; thus an author of an excellent treatise says he will never allow that carrier and fantail pigeons are the descendants of the wild rock pigeon, until the transitions have " actually been observed, and can be rppeated whenever man chooses to set about the task." No doubt it is difficult to realize that slight changes added up during long centuries can produce such results; but he who wishes to understand the origin of domestic breeds or natural species must overcome this diflioulty.—Darwin's Animals and Plants under Domestication. The Dighton Bock Inscription Disappearing. A correspondent of the Taunton (Mass.) Gazette says the inscription on the celebrated Dighton rock, near Taunton, is slowly disappearing, owing to the effect of ice upon its surface during the winter. The solution of this singular inscription, says the writer, has given rise to much speculative inquiry, and a great diversity of opinion. It has challenged the attention of many scholors learned in antiquarian lore. Mr. Harris, the learned orientalist, thought he found the Hebrew word melek (king) in the inscription. Colonel Valiancy considered it of Scythian origin. The Rhode Island Historical Society caused a carefully prepared drawing of the rock to be sent to the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Copenhagen, by whom it was submitted to Professor Rafn, the eminent Runic scholar, and learned associate, Prof essor Finn Mag-nusson. A part of the inscription they declared to be in the Runic character, and to read : " On this spot landed Thorn-fenn with one hundred and thirty-one men." Various drawings have been made of the rock and its inscription, from that of Cotton Mather to the present day, all of them differing in essential particulars; but last summer a successful attempt was made to photograph the rock with a large plate, as well as stereoscopic size, and the inscription may now be critically examined by the antiquarian. Insulation of the Atlantic Cable. The Boston Journal of Ghanistry, asserts on the authority of a gentleman intimately connected with the working of the Atlantic Telegraph Cable that the insulation is growing monthly more perfect, and that the first cable, laid four years since,leaks less than the last one. The loss, at the present time, does not reach half of one per cent upon both cables. This is surprising, and very encouraging to the owners of the line. The extreme cold of the deep sea basin, in which the wires repose, is favorable to the retention of the electrical impulses in the channel provided for them. The time consumed in charging and discharging the conductors is a bar to rapid communication; but this is to be overcome by new methods of insulation. A device has recently been brought forward which promises t fully remove this obstacle, and thus enable submarine cables to perform double the work in the same length of time. The success of deep sea cables is now fully assured, and we may look for a large increase in the number during the next. quarter of a century. International Beidge over Niagara.—The special committee of the city of Buffalo, appointed to confer with the railroad companies interested in the erection of an international bridge over the Niagara river, have submitted voluminous and favorable reports. They recommend an iron bridge with stone piers and abutments, and that the city of Buffalo guarantee for fifteen years the payment of six per cent interest on $1,350,000, on certain conditions, to be agreed to by the companies holding the charters from the respective governments. The Grand Trunk Railway obligates to pay $50,000 annually for the privilege of passing trains over the bridge. The city council are favorably disposed, and it is thought that the terms will be agreed to.
This article was originally published with the title "Beet Root Sugar" in Scientific American 20, 13, 202-203 (March 1869)