196 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
After the contract, which had been mailed from Paris by Lieutenant Jaques, had been acted upon by their law¬ yer, the Board of Directors accepted it.
Some of my ablest engineering friends had urged me not to undertake the building of an armor plant, saying I was not justified in assunflng so great a risk, and that, should failure occur, my reputation as an engineer would surely be ruined. In reply I told them that the same argument had been used to try to prevent me from making the changes and improvements which I had made at Cambria Iron Works, and which were eminently successful. I also told them that I was weU satisfied I could build the plant and make it go all right, and that it was just such a plant as the engineers of the country wanted. In addition, the ship¬ building trade was at that time quite active, and all the shafting and heavy forgings were being made abroad, generally at Krupps', and also the heavy forgings for both Army and Navy, and the gun forgings for both.
The Bethlehem plant was the first to be erected for the purpose of making armor plate for the United States Government.
After a great deal of worry and anxiety we succeeded in making several hundred tons of plates which to our joy stood the Government test, although these tests were not so severe as they were afterwards, but much more difficult for us, as atmor plate was then made, than the more severe tests that later on were imposed on us by the Government.
In this connection I recaU an anxious day I once spent. After we had the works partially erected, and had made an expenditure of a large amount of money, the Cammell people got our Government to beUeve that it was impossible to make a solid steel plate that would stand the test, and the Government went so far as to order a Cammell com¬ pound plate, and a Creusot soUd steel plate, the latter