l82 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
information from him, as he said that what little he had known at the time of his visit had passed from his mind.
This being the true condition of affairs, as they existed in the country, I concluded to try to get the directors to build a forge plant, using the foregoing in argument to prove that a good forge plant was a necessity, was practi¬ cable, and desirable. For a time I thought I was at last going to be successful, as the General Manager seemed to favor the project; but all at once he changed his views, giving as a reason that the President was opposed to going into anything new. The President was a nice old gentleman and I Uked him very much; he was a man of commanding appearance, was intelUgent, and could gain access to a busy railroad president when others less favored by nature and culture had to wait. He managed the business affairs of the company as they then existed most admirably, but in looking to the future it took a clear day for him to discern anything whatever that would be Ukely to make a change in the business of the company, consequently I was doomed to failure again. This was a dark hour for me.
For a time the situation seemed hopeless, and had it been manly I would have given up the whole matter. But the condition of the country was such that it was apparent to my mind that a good forge and armor-plate plant was indispensable — I had armor plate in my mind from the be¬ ginning. Practically speaking, we were in a most defense¬ less condition, having neither a navy nor modern guns for land or coast defense. We were at the mercy of the world, — a disgraceful condition for a great nation to be in. But after every suggestion that I had made had been turned down, it seemed Uke a forlorn hope to attempt resurrection. Hav¬ ing fully considered the importance of a great forging plant to the country, I was well prepared to meet any objection.
I then concluded that I would try our management from