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Series XXIV. United States Steel Corporation, 1899-1919

Historical Background

In December of 1900, Charles M. Schwab, president of the Carnegie Steel Company, was honored at a dinner that was held at the University Club in New York City. The attendants of the dinner included prominent bankers and industrialists of note such as Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, and Standard Oil President, H.H. Rogers. After the dinner, Schwab was asked to give a speech on his vision of the steel industry in the twentieth century. Schwab envisioned the United States steel industry taking on foreign steelmakers through uniting firms and combining complementary operations while slashing costs across the board. The combination of major steel manufactures would create a firm of unprecedented size and production.

Morgan was so impressed by what Schwab envisioned that he asked to have a meeting with him. At first Schwab refused, but eventually agreed and secretly met with Morgan to discuss buying out Carnegie’s shares. Schwab then went to Carnegie and eventually convinced him to sell; however, the principal architect of the formal deal was Elbert H. Gary, who became U. S. Steel's first chairman of the executive committee. Gary and Morgan bought Carnegie's steel company for $480,000,000 and combined it with their holdings of Federal Steel Company. Carnegie’s empire ended on February 25, 1901, when he officially signed the agreement to sell his company.

By April 1, 1901, the U.S. Steel Corporation was in business and became the world’s largest industrial organization with Schwab as the first company’s president. Capitalized at $1.4 billion, U.S. Steel became the first billion-dollar corporation in American history. The company was formed by consolidating not only the Carnegie Company and Federal Steel Company, but also American Steel & Wire Company, National Tube Company, National Steel Company, American Tin Plate Company, American Steel Hoop Company, and the American Sheet Steel Company. U.S. Steel Corporation was founded with the hope that its size would lead to economic benefits in the form of market power, as well as operating and network efficiencies. The corporation’s sheer size was supposed to bring about many commercial advantages, such as reduced production costs, opportunities for plant specialization, reduction of cross hauling, and improved shipping. During its first year, the new company produced two-thirds of the nation’s raw steel, and in 1902 it accounted for almost thirty percent of the steel made throughout the world.

Soon after U.S. Steel Corporation formed, it began to acquire additional properties throughout the Great Lakes region. However, the continued consolidation of minor companies within U.S. Steel and the company’s increasing size led to concerns that it was becoming a monopoly. In 1911 the House of Representatives created a committee to investigate the corporation and its officers. The committee’s purpose was to determine if U.S. Steel violated the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. After collecting and reviewing the extensive testimonies taken in 1915, the circuit court sided in favor of U.S. Steel. However, attorneys for the government appealed the decision, and in 1920 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ruling.

During both World Wars, U.S. Steel was a large contributor to the war effort by producing steel for planes, tanks, and ships, as well as ammunition. In the later part of the twentieth century, U.S. Steel began to restructure and diversify its businesses. Although U.S. Steel remained the largest steel producer in the United States, only about one-third of the company’s business remained in steel. U.S. Steel continued to grow and began to expand, acquiring Marathon Oil Company in 1982 and Texas Oil & Gas Corporation in 1986. This gave U.S. Steel major investments in the oil and gas industry, while the company was also expanding into mining, chemicals, construction, real estate, and transportation.

In 1986 the holding company USX Corporation was established to oversee the diversified interests, which were divided among four operating units: USS (steel), Marathon Oil, Texas Oil & Gas, and U.S. Diversified Group (chemical, engineering, and real-estate). In October 2001, USX Corporation shareholders voted to adopt a plan of reorganization, resulting in the spin-off of the steel and steel-related businesses of USX into a freestanding, publicly traded company known as United States Steel Corporation, the company’s original name. The remaining energy businesses of USX became Marathon Oil Corporation. The two new companies officially began operating independently on January 1, 2002. U.S. Steel acquired the steel-related businesses of National Steel Corporation in 2003. In 2009 U.S. Steel’s (renamed USS, Inc.,) headquarters remain located in downtown Pittsburgh and the company is well known as an integrated steel producer with operations in the U.S., Canada, and central Europe.

Scope and Content Notes:

This series contains the records of the United States Steel Corporation. Materials are arranged into four subseries: Administrative Records, Correspondence, Property Material, and Legal Material. The administrative records contain a small portion of the company’s early records such as first annual report, list of stockholders, and the company by-laws. The majority of the correspondence are from J.A. Farrell (President of U.S. Steel) and Elbert H. Gary (Chairman of U.S. Steel). However, there are some letters found in the other subseries which directly relate to this material. The property subseries consists of correspondence, reports, and statements relating to properties and companies acquired by U.S. Steel for the years 1902 and 1903. The legal materials relate to a law suit filed against the corporation in 1911. There is additional oversized material pertaining to the United Stated Steel Corporation in Series XXVIII Maps and Architectural Drawings. In that series, there are maps that show properties owned by the corporation. The material in this series dates from 1899 to 1919.

Subseries 1. Administrative Records, 1902-1912

Scope and Content Notes:

The material in this subseries contains a small portion of administrative records for the United States Steel Corporation. The materials consist of news clippings, stock exchanges, company by-laws, a list of stockholders, and a court suit. The materials date from 1902 to 1912.


Box 657
Folder 1 First Annual Report, Evening Post, April 8, 1903
Folder 2 Exchange of Preferred Stock, March 3, 1903
Folder 3 Stockholders, February 17, 1902, April 15, 1912
Folder 4 By-Laws, April 1901, August 4, 1903
Folder 5 Certificate of Amendment of Original Certificate of Incorporation, February 26, 1903
Folder 6 United States Trust Co. of New York, Indenture, April 1, 1903
Folder 7 J. Aspinwall Hodge et al. v. US Steel, 1902-1903

Subseries 2. Correspondence, 1903-1919

Scope and Content Notes:

The correspondence consists of typed and handwritten letters, copies of letters, and memoranda. The memoranda are labeled as Office of H.C. Frick and included with correspondence. The memoranda provide information on who the letter was from, the subject, and the date the letter was indexed. The correspondence mainly consists of letters to and from W.E. Corey (President of U.S. Steel), W.H. Donner (President of Union Steel), J.A. Farrell (President of U.S. Steel), Elbert H. Gary (Chairman of U.S. Steel), and Richard Trimble (Secretary of U.S. Steel). These individuals also communicated with the Director of U.S. Steel, Henry Clay Frick. There are some responses to letters written by Frick’s secretaries, Alice Braddel and F.W. McElroy. The remaining correspondence are mainly addressed to Frick and concern smaller company matters. Materials date from 1903 to 1919 and are arranged in alphabetical order of the sender’s last name.

Folder 8 Corey, W.E., April 20, 1908-June 5, 1917
Folder 9 Donner, W.H., September 13, 1899-February 20, 1903
Folder 10 Donner, W.H., May 4, 1903-May 27, 1904
Folder 11 Farrell, J.A., June 8, 1910-August 25, 1912
Folder 12 Farrell, J.A., October 14, 1912-March 15, 1915
Folder 13 Farrell, J.A., June 30, 1915-November 29, 1916
Folder 14 Farrell, J.A., June 27, 1917-October 20, 1919
Folder 15 Gary, E.H., March 26, 1903-June 4, 1903
Folder 16 Gary, E.H., September 11, 1903-July 30, 1906
Folder 17 Gary, E.H., February 19, 1907-November 6, 1907
Folder 18 Gary, E.H., March 8, 1910-May 19, 1911
Folder 19 Gary, E.H., June 11, 1908-March 4, 1910
Folder 20 Gary, E.H., March 28, 1913-October 13, 1914

Box 658
Folder 1 Gary, E.H., January 6, 1915-May 26, 1916
Folder 2 Gary, E.H., June 10, 1916-July 17, 1918
Folder 3 Gary, E.H., April 21, 1919-October 3, 1919
Folder 4 Trimble, Richard, May 21, 1903-January 3, 1910
Folder 5 Trimble, Richard, July 19, 1911-May 11, 1916
Folder 6 Correspondence, March 15, 1901-May 21, 1903
Folder 7 Correspondence, July 31, 1903-June 21, 1906
Folder 8 Correspondence, June 25, 1906-October 28, 1911
Folder 9 Correspondence, January 4, 1912-November 10, 1915

Subseries 3. Property Material, 1899-1910

Scope and Content Notes:

The property materials consist of agreements, statements, correspondence, propositions, reports, balances, and a map. The correspondence are addressed to Frick from James Gayley, the first vice president of U.S. Steel and pertain to ore and mine matters, along with U.S. Steel subsidiary companies. The letters consist of original typed and letter copies.

After the creation of U.S. Steel, the corporation began acquiring other businesses. One such business U.S. Steel was interested in purchasing was the Union Steel Company in Donora, Pennsylvania. The mill was originally organized by William H. Donner, Henry Clay Frick, and Andrew and Richard Mellon in November 1899 for the purpose of making rods, wires, and nails. The Union Steel Company went on to merge with the Sharon Steel Company in 1902, only to be bought out by U.S. Steel in 1903. Included are records consisting of correspondence, statements, schedules, agreements, and a map of Donora relating to the buy out of the Union Steel Company. The major people involved in these early acquisition deals were William H. Donner (President of Union Steel), Andrew Mellon (Vice President of Union Steel), Richard Mellon (Treasurer of Union Steel), and S.H. Waddell (Secretary), as well as H.C. Frick. The materials are arranged chronologically and date from 1899 to 1910.

Folder 10 Correspondence, December 16, 1902-January 30, 1903
Folder 11 Correspondence, February 6, 1903-September 2, 1903
Folder 12 Propositions, March 10, 1903
Folder 13 Hill Lease Abstract, undated
Folder 14 Reports, November 20, 1899-January 20, 1903
Folder 15 Reports, April 8, 1903-November 26, 1909

Box 659
Folder 1 Reports, Cement Matters, February 25, 1903
Folder 2 Statements, 1899-1904
Folder 3 Subsidiary Companies, December 31, 1902-September 30, 1910
Folder 4 Subsidiary Companies, Dinner Menu, January 8, 1908
Folder 5 Union Steel Company, September 27, 1900-July 1, 1903
Folder 6 Union Steel Company, March 7, 1903-December 1, 1903
Folder 7 Union Steel Company, April 11, 1904-January 20, 1909, undated
Folder 8 Union Steel Company, December 1, 1902
Folder 9 Map of Donora, Pa., 1900

Subseries 4. Legal Material, 1899-1915

Scope and Content Notes:

During the summer of 1911, the affairs of the United States Steel Corporation were put under investigation by a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, and in May 1912, the taking of testimony in the government's suit for an injunction and dissolution was begun in New York. The suit was filed due to the formation of the United States Steel Corporation which largely eliminated active competition between steel producing companies and seemingly became a monopoly. The corporation was believed to be in violation of the Sherman Act wherein if a corporation was deemed to be a monopoly in restraint of trade by the Supreme Court, the company must be dissolved within six months. After an immense amount of testimony had been taken, the steal trust secured a decision by both the local circuit and U.S. Supreme court finding that the corporation was not a monopoly, thus allowing it to stay in business. This subseries contains the testimonies from Andrew Carnegie, Charles Schwab (former President of U.S. Steel), George W. Perkins (former director), and former President Theodore Roosevelt. The materials in this subseries are arranged chronologically and date from 1899 to 1915.

This subseries also contains extracts, newspaper clippings, correspondence, telegrams, and statements relating to the hearing. Folders that contain Carnegie testimonies can be found in file folders 8, 9, and 11. There are also director’s meeting minutes from H.C. Frick Coke Company included in the hearing extracts dated October 25, 1899, January 10, 1900, January 24, 1900, and February 6, 1900. H.C. Frick, Thomas Lynch, and George Lauder were some of the men involved in those meetings.

Also include in this subseries are newspaper clippings relating to the steel suit. All clippings are clearly cited; some of the newspapers include the following publications: the Pittsburgh Dispatch, Pittsburgh Gazette,Pittsburgh Leader, and the New York Evening Post. There are also some records that pertain to an unsuccessful option that Frick, Henry Phipps, and William H. Moore tried to buy out Carnegie in 1899.

Folder 10 Extracts, Hearing of Friday, June 2, 1911
Folder 11 Extracts, Hearings Nos. 12-22, pages 1-76, July 29, 1911-August 4, 1911

Box 660
Folder 1 Extracts, Hearings Nos. 12-22, pages 77-155, August 4, 1911-August 9, 1911
Folder 2 Extracts, Hearings Nos. 23-35, pages 1-50, August 11, 1911-January 10, 1912
Folder 3 Extracts, Hearings Nos. 23-35, pages 51-106, January 10, 1912-August 11, 1912
Folder 4 Extracts, Hearings Nos. 36-49, pages 1-57, January 12, 1912-January 23, 1912
Folder 5 Extracts, Hearings Nos. 53, pages 1-10, October 25, 1899-February 6, 1900
Folder 6 Steel Suit, Newspaper Clippings, August 6, 1911-August 12, 1911
Folder 7 Steel Suit, Newspaper Clippings, March 8, 1913-March 14, 1913
Folder 8 Steel Suit, Correspondence in regard to Congdon Letter, January 20, 1913-March 15, 1913
Folder 9 Steel Suits, Option, May 20, 1913
Folder 10 Steel Suits, Stock in American Can and Cambria Steel Company, March 6, 1913-March 13, 1913
Folder 11 Steel Suits, Subpoena Matters, March 5, 1913-March 15, 1915
Folder 12 Suit Research Material, March 2, 1901-February 31, 1913
Folder 13 Steel Suit, Petition, undated