The Evening Post (Chicago), in noticing our announcement that we would give a series of practical articles on the manufacture of beet root sugar and expression of our belief that Yankee beet root sugar will, at no distant day, be offered in the markets of the world in successful competition with both colonial and European brands, admits it to be "a very comforting and encouraging fact, if fact it shall prove to be." It, however, throws some doubt upon the probability of successful beet root sugar manufacture here, based upon tlie very partial success hitherto attained in the attempt at such manufacture up to the present date. It says: " The establishment at Chatsworth, in this State, which was hailed when first begun as a certain triumph of low priced land and a home market over the competition of cane-growing districts, has had anything but an encouraging experience. A very large sum of money, probably not less than $300,000, has been expended by the company, but, thus far, without anything like the expected return. It is said that all the causes of failure are easily explained that a bad crop of beets in one year, insufficient and defective machinery in another year, a want of water in a third year, will account for the continued inability of the works to pay." Those acquainted with the history of this establishment, and who have a knowledge respecting the details of the manufacture, will readily admit that the causes assigned are ample to account for the " inability of the works to pay." These works are, however, doing better than the Post seems to think. It is stated, that during the last year they made a million pounds of sugar, which ought not to imply anything like imminent bankruptcy. The Post states strongly the difficulties which attend the introduction of new industries, and shakes its head doubting-ly thereat. But there are plenty of precedents to reassure it and other doubters. Of these we will instance only one, the silk manufacture, now a profitable and permanently-established industry on this continent. Surely, on the score of failures in the few and imperfect trials hitherto made in the beet root sugar manufacture, we find little to give reason for doubt when we remember the numberless failures and discouragements that obstructed the earliest attempts at spinning and weaving silk. It is hardly fair, however, to consider the only attempts worthy of the name, yet made in this country, as failures until it shall be proved beyond a doubt, that they have not only been doing business at little profit for the limited time they have been in operation, but have lost, and must continue to lose, from the insurmountable obstacles they are forced to encounter. This has not yet been demonstrated, and the very fact that, notwithstanding the misfortunes of the wors alluded to, it has kept its head above water, is, we think, evidence that it will not soon be demonstrated. In this connection, it may not be amiss to give some figures from the New York Shipping and Commercial List, showing the extent of the sugar trade in the United States for 1868. The quanties are given in tuns of 2,240 pounds : Tuns. Received at New York.....................259,073 Received at Boston........................ 62,237 Received at Philadelphia................... * 66,120 Received at Baltimore..................... 53,458 Received at New Orleans.................. 10,706 Received at other ports.................... 10,380 Total receipts........................461,974 Stock, January 1,1868..................... 45,746 Exports and inland shipments............. 8,246 Stock, January 1,1869..................... 41,942 Consumption of foreign in 1868............446,533 Consumption of foreign in 1867............37 ,068 Crops of Louisiana, Texas, etc.............. 33,000 Total consumption of cane sugar for 1868... 479,533 " The crop of Louisiana, now about made, is estimated at 100,000 hogsheads. The season has been unusually favorable so much so that at one time strong hopes were entertained that the yield would reach. 12S, 00 hogsheads ; but the weather has recently been unpropitious, and the estimates have been reduced t the first mentioned figures. "The insurrection in Cuba will interfere materially with the supply from that quarter. The crop of maple sugar in the United States the last year will be about 23,000 tuns, though the data is imperfect upon which the estimate is made. The production of sugar throughout the world, including the beet sugar of Europe and the palm and date sugar of the Indies, for the year 1867, is estimated at 1,299,600 tuns, of which Cuba produces nearly one-third; of this Great Britain and her colonies consumed about 689,000 tuns, and the United States 467,300 tuns the two nationalities consuming nearly one-half of the world's supply." It will be seen that the foreign sugar consumed in 1868 in this country exceeds that of 1867 by 68,465 tuns, or more than the increase in home production, although the season has been unusually favorable. We do not believe the American people will content themselves with dependence upon foreign countries for this important staple, when there is no solid reason for so doing. With our fertile soil, and fertile brains, it will go hard if we do not make beet root sugar supply our own consumption, with some to spare for export. Let us not expect too much from the brief experiments yet made; we have planted only a few small seeds, it is not yet time for the reaping.
This article was originally published with the title "Beet Root Sugar" in Scientific American 20, 16, 247 (April 1869)