You are not logged in. Login

George S. Morison: 19th Cent. Wisdom for 21st Cent. Leaders

The following is the Presidential address to the Society given by George S. Morison at The Annual Convention of the ASCE at the Hotel Pemberton, Hull, Mass., June 19, 1895. Morison at the time was one of the greatest bridge builders in the country. He had written The New Epoch as Delivered by the Manufacture of Power but did not publish it until 1903, the year of his death. The talk contains some historical perspective as he looks to the future.


The Constitution provides that the President shall deliver an address at the Annual Convention. It has been the custom to make this address a review of engineering works. I have thought right to depart from this custom. The year has been one of unusual dearth in engineering construction. I feel that it is the time to call attention to the true meaning and position of the profession and the society to which we belong.

Students of primitive society have divided the early development of the human race into ethnical epochs, representing various conditions of savagery and barbarism, and finally culminating in civilization; they recognize three periods of savagery, followed by three periods of barbarism. In the lowest epoch men were little superior to the animals by which they were surrounded. With the use of fire the second period began. With the invention of the bow and arrow, the most primitive form of projectile, man entered the third period. With pottery, and all that it implies, he passed from savagery to barbarism. The next advance came with the domestication of animals, which gave man another power besides his own physical strength. With the manufacture of iron the last of the barbarous periods was entered. By the invention of the written alphabet the primitive race was promoted from barbarism to civilization.

To us the first, fourth and sixth advances mean more than the others. The use of fire first placed man in a condition very different from that of other animals, giving him a power the uses of which are even yet not fully developed. The domestication of animals was hardly less important, and although where animals suitable for domestication did not exist, tribes were able to pass this period without them, their weakness was apparent when they came in contact with other races whose conditions were not so limited. Finally the invention of a written language made the work of one generation available for its successors and produced historical civilization.

The changes which mark the advances from period to period are all material improvements; in every instance they are characterized by some distinctive physical device which has enabled man either to utilize his own strength better than before, or to increase his power by adding other animate or inanimate force. The race that passed from one period to another acquired resources which it had not had; in the contests which characterized the life of the primitive man, the men of a lower period fell before those who had risen higher. But though the devices were of a purely material character they gave opportunities for mental and moral improvement which alone made further advance possible, till finally the written alphabet culminated in that preservation of knowledge which has made the intellectual efforts of thirty centuries available for ourselves. With the dawn of civilization the ethnical periods have been considered closed; subsequent growth has been the natural advance of civilization marked by the events which make written history.

But there is no reason why the epoch which began with writing should be the last. It only needs a new capacity, radically unlike those which have gone before, to make an epoch in civilization as distinct as those in primitive society. Such new capacity has now been found; another epoch has begun. Fire, animal strength and written language have in turn advanced men and nations, but the capacity of man has always been limited to his own individual strength and that of the men and animals which he would control. His capacity is no longer so limited; man has now learned to manufacture power, and with the manufacture of power a new epoch began. I use the words advisedly; creation, whether of substance or force, is not given to man; manufacture is not creation, but to change inert matter from one form to another in such way as to generate power is to manufacture power.

Furthermore, not only does the manufacture of power mark a new epoch in development, but the change is greater than any which preceded it; greater in its influence on the world; greater in the results which are to come.

The manufacture of power means that wherever needed we can now produce practically unlimited power; whatever the measure of a single machine, that machine can be used to make a greater one; we are no longer limited by animal units, confined by locations of water-falls, nor angered by the uncertain power of wind. Power can be had where it is needed and when it is needed. The manufacture of power has enabled us to concentrate in the hull of a single ship twice as much force as is developed by the whole waterpower of the Merrimac at Lowell, and this is but a trifle of what may be done.

The new epoch differs from all preceding epochs, in that while they represented successive periods of progress, different races have existed simultaneously in every period of advancement, whereas the new epoch must from its very nature soon become universal. The manufacture of power has given us the means of traversing the entire globe with a regularity and speed which brings all races together, and which must in time remove all differences in capacity. It brings people of all races into contact and by extending knowledge, ends the superstitions and mysteries which have had such influence in the past. It enables man while working in unhealthy districts to spend a portion of his time in places favorable to physical health and bodily vigor and so may end the climatic degeneration of race, which has done so much in history. It is gradually breaking down national divisions, substituting the natural boundaries of convenient government for boundaries based on race and ignorance. It will finally make the human race a single great whole working intelligently in ways and for ends which we cannot yet understand.

It is not too much to predict that when the full effects of the manufacture of power are realized and the world has passed through the development which the next 10 centuries will see, that the time when man began to manufacture power will be recognized as the division between the ancient and the modern, between ignorance and intelligence, between the national strife which may then be classed as barbarism, and the new civilization, whatever that may then be called.

Great as the new epoch is, it means more to our own profession than to any other. The manufacture of power is the work of the engineer, the inventions which have led to it were made by engineers, in fact it has made possible the profession of the civil engineer.

The new epoch has barely begun. No exact dates can be fixed. Epoch making is not a matter of a single invention; it is the general result which follows. It was not the manufacture of the first earthen pot, but the general introduction of pottery which carried a prehistoric race from savagery to barbarism. It was not the invention of a few letters, but the general use of a written language which took the barbarian into civilization. It was not the invention of the first steam engine, but the general control of the manufacture of power which is now taking mankind into the new civilization. James Watt developed his first steam engine in 1769. The steam engine began to come into general use about the beginning of this century. The 19th century has seen the development of the manufacture of power by steam. The steam engine is still almost the sole representative of manufactured power, but there is no reason why this should continue. Electricity as a conveyer of power has been developed to an extent which may almost be classed with manufactured power. New forms of manufactured power may come at any time, but the introduction of new forms is a comparatively unimportant thing. The great advance came with the ability to manufacture power at all—the method is a secondary thing.

Here, then, we stand at the dawn of a great epoch, of an epoch making greater changes than the world has ever seen; we stand here members of the profession which is most closely identified with this change and which has most to expect from it. Let us study the lessons which can guide us, in the duties and the responsibilities which are before us.

Let us consider what civil engineering is. The definition, incorporated in the charter of the Institution of Civil Engineers, is familiar to all: “The art of directing the great sources of power in Nature for the use and convenience of man.” The Constitution of the American Society of Civil Engineers fixes as a requirement for full membership “the ability to design as well as direct engineering works.” The English definition and the American requirement taken together explain what constitutes a civil engineer. His business is to design the works by which the great sources of power in Nature are directed. His works are not built for themselves nor as commemorative monuments; they are made to direct the powers of Nature for the use of man. Every engineering work is built for a special ulterior end; it is a tool to accomplish some specific purpose. Engine is but another name for tool; the business of an engineer relates to tools; a civil engineer must be capable of designing as well as handling tools. The highest development of a tool is an engine which manufactures power. All the great possibilities of our profession come from the existence of such tools.

It is a common error to think of civil engineering as a co-ordinate branch of a general profession with many other branches; to class it with mechanical engineering, with hydraulic engineering, with sanitary engineering, with mining engineering, with electrical engineering, or with any other specific branch. The name of every special branch of engineering had a distinctive meaning; the mechanical engineer deals with machines; the hydraulic engineer, with water; the mining engineer, with mines; the sanitary engineer, with drainage, and the railroad engineer, with railroads. The word "civil " has no such distinctive meaning; it only shows that civil engineering is the work of the citizen and not the work of the soldier. Civil engineering, in its true meaning, embraces every special branch of engineering. The professional limitation which should be applied to the civil engineer is that he must be a man who, in his own department, can design as well as direct; he must have that control over his work which nothing but intelligent knowledge of the subject gives. He may be a railroad builder, he may be a skillful surveyor, he may be a mechanical engineer, or he may follow any other specialty, but whatever he does he must do it, not as a skillful workman, but as one qualified to design. Any man who is thoroughly capable of understanding and handling a machine may be called a mechanical engineer, but only he who knows the principles behind that machine so thoroughly that he would be able to design it or to adapt it to a new purpose, whatever that purpose may be, can be classed as a civil engineer. Any skillful sewer-builder and pipe-fitter may claim to be a sanitary engineer, but only the man who approaches his work with the intelligent knowledge of the conditions which sanitation involves can be classed as a civil engineer. Any man who knows how to work a mine may be a mining engineer, but only he who understands why he works his mine as he does can be called a civil engineer. Any well-practiced electrician may be classed as an electrical engineer, but only one whose practical knowledge is based on the intelligent study of electricity can be called a civil engineer. The business of every engineer is to handle tools; the business of the civil engineer, whatever department or specialty he may follow, is to design and build those tools rather than to use them. I use the word tool in its largest sense; you may call it engine if you prefer. Any constructed thing whose principal object is to produce something outside of itself is a tool, whether that tool be a bradawl, a steamship or a railroad. Civil engineering embraces all branches of engineering, but the civil engineer differs from other engineers in that he makes tools rather than uses them. The relation of civil engineering to all other branches is of the broadest kind; no branch of engineering is excluded; the only exclusion is based on the individual qualifications of the men.

The civil engineer is briefly a man who, with knowledge of the forces and materials around him, uses that knowledge in the design and construction of engineering works. His business is to design the tools by which the sources of power in Nature are directed for the use of man. A body of civil engineers should include the choicest minds in every branch of the engineering profession.

Our Constitution provides that a member shall be a civil, military, naval, mining, mechanical, electrical or other professional engineer, an architect or a marine architect, qualified to design as well as to direct engineering works. It would perhaps have been better expressed if it had said that any civil, military, naval, mining, mechanical, electrical, or other professional engineer, architect or marine architect who, with knowledge of the great sources of power in Nature, uses that knowledge in the design and direction of engineering works, is qualified to be a member. We welcome into our Society all branches of engineering, but not all engineers. We welcome every engineer who applies a knowledge of the powers of Nature to the design and construction of engineering works; we welcome the architect who uses this knowledge in his designs and constructions, but the architect who treats his profession as a fine art to decorate a construction which he cannot design, belongs elsewhere. Intelligent knowledge of the great powers in Nature is the fundamental requirement for a civil engineer. On this substructure a superstructure of actual design and construction must be built to make the complete professional man.

The civil engineer of the new epoch, the epoch which he is bringing into existence by the manufacture of power, must be an educated man; in no profession will this be more necessary. The physical laws of power and strength are mathematically exact and admit of no trifling. As the epoch progresses the requirements for each individual will become more complicated. The theologian and the metaphysician may claim that an education based on the laws of matter leaves out the highest part of existence; the biologist and the physician may claim that matter endowed with life is a higher organism than the inanimate matter with which the engineer has to deal. But, however true these claims; their laws have not the mathematical rigidity, the clear definition and the thorough discipline which mark the laws with which our profession works. The engineer cannot shield himself under doctrines or theories which he accepts but cannot understand. Dealing with accurate definite laws and guided by the corrective touch of physical nature, the education of the engineer will become more necessary, more thorough and more exact than that of any other professional man. This is the training which the civil engineer of the new epoch must have. This knowledge he must have or he must be classed as a workman rather than a professional man.

The civil engineer of the new epoch must sink the individual in the profession. The engineering work of the future must be better work than has ever yet been done. The best work is never done by separate men; it is only accomplished when professional knowledge so permeates all members of a profession that the work of one is virtually the work of all. The first steps are made by individuals, but the best results come later. The name of Watt will ever be identified with the successful introduction of the steam engine, and nothing should be allowed to belittle his reputation, but there are 10,000 men to-day, any one of whom can build a far better engine than James Watt ever could. They can do it because they are imbued with all the work the engine-builder has done for more than a century; they do it as members of a profession who are all working together. In the middle ages Gothic cathedrals were built throughout Northern Europe; they are exquisite works; no modern architect can approach their beauty; the reason is that the men who built the Gothic cathedrals worked together as members of a guild which was thoroughly imbued with the spirit of building these churches. In no period of the world’s history has marine construction had any significance compared with what it has to-day, and it is because the great ship-builders are working together, each having the practical benefit of what they all are doing. They are working together as members of a profession rather than as individuals, and their work is becoming more uniform and more perfect.

The civil engineer of the new epoch must be a specialist. No man can learn to design all the tools by which the powers in Nature are to be directed. The work is too great for one man to master. The best results will only be obtained by concentrating effort in a single line. But though the civil engineer must be a specialist, his specialty must not be of a narrow kind; he must have that general knowledge and training which makes the liberally educated man. The real difference between a liberal education and a special education is that one teaches the student to use his mind and the other gives him information. The civil engineer must have had the mental discipline which qualifies the mind to investigate kindred subjects beyond the limits of his own specialty; his education must be broad enough for this or he will not be a civil engineer. The knowledge of his specialty will be only part of his education; the mental discipline will be more.

And, last, the civil engineer of the new epoch must fill many positions which are now held by men of different training. The knowledge of the tools, both large and small, which men are using, must be the strongest qualifications for their use. Accurate engineering knowledge must succeed commercial guesses. Corporations, both public and private, must be handled as if they were machines, and the men who will so handle them will find their best training in the education which will make the best civil engineers.

Having now considered what should characterize the civil engineer of the new epoch, let us pass from the individual to the profession, from civil engineers to the Society which they have organized. The American Society of Civil Engineers is a national society, though its membership is not restricted even by national boundaries. There are many other engineering societies and associations in our country; some of them are national, some of them are local. A full consideration of the position which our Society should hold in the new epoch must not forget these other societies.

The objects of the American Society of Civil Engineers are defined in the Constitution to be “the advancement of engineering knowledge and practice and the maintenance of a high professional standard among its members,” while the means to accomplish this purpose are broadly stated to be intercourse between members, professional papers and a library for professional use.

Intercourse between members is perhaps the most important of all. In no other way can the standard of a profession be raised so well. The man who works alone without measuring himself by others never does his best. The engineer must both measure himself by what others do and let others measure him. The time of cryptograms has gone by; there will be none in the new epoch. Intercourse between members will do more than anything else to fill the requirement of the new epoch and make the work of each engineer the work of the whole profession.

The preparation and publication of professional papers is another duty of the Society. There is an important difference between the papers which must come before a society and those which are published elsewhere. Other professional publications are generally, like architectural monuments, records of what has been done, published for the preservation of those records and not for much more. The fundamental feature of the papers of a professional society, on the other hand, is that, like every engineering work, they are tools. Their work begins when they are read; they are intended to bring out discussions, to compare different views, and in this way to give the knowledge of the profession to all. It is in this line that most development is needed. The papers which are now published in our Transactions are, many of them, very good, but the discussions are not what they should be. An author may be best satisfied by the paper which is most perfect in itself, but the paper which brings out the fullest discussion is the most useful to the Society. We have an endowed prize for a paper worthy of special commendation as a contribution to engineering science; we have another endowed prize for a paper describing in detail accomplished works of construction. There should be a third endowment for a prize for the paper which calls out the best discussion of the year, and this prize should be given without reference to the awards of the other two, so that if the paper which receives the Norman medal also brings out the best discussion it will receive two prizes instead of one.

Our Society has a professional library, but the facilities for using it are far from what they should be and are a poor fulfillment of the constitutional requirement for the establishment of facilities for its use. Every book on an engineering subject ought to be found on our shelves soon after it is published/and engineers should find this library as convenient a workshop as the library of the Bar Association is to members of the bar. It should be open, not only during the daylight hours, but late into the evening, so that the older engineers, who have no time in the day, and the younger men, who have nowhere else to go in the evening, can realize the full benefit of its worth. In a new Society house separate and safe provision for the library must lie given special attention.

It will be the duty of our Society to elevate the profession of the civil engineer to the very highest rank among the liberally educated professions. This is a duty of the day rather than a duty of the new epoch. When the new epoch is fully established it will have been done, and the Society will have, become the conservator rather than the promoter of the profession.

Furthermore, the main principle of the Society should be the professional principle. It must secure the very best work which can possibly be done among its members—they must not be inventors working alone by themselves. It must teach them that they are members of one profession all working together, until that spirit of professional unity is established in which it becomes impossible for any member of the Society to do bad work.

The Society must work for the profession rather than for the individual; its duties are the advancement of engineering knowledge and practice and the maintenance of a high professional standard. It must not mix itself up with the affairs of individuals; it has no secret rites nor arbitrary rules; with scales of charges it has nothing to do; it will not demean its members by putting itself on the basis of a labor organization. High professional standards can never be maintained by agreements which restrict the free right of the individual to receive such compensation, large or small, as his own ability has shown he is worth; they can only be maintained by that true professional spirit which sinks the individual in the whole.

The relations which our Society should bear to the other national engineering societies is established by the definition of civil engineering. Our Society should include the choicest minds in every branch of engineering; it must have among its members the leading members of every society which represents an engineering specialty. No other society can have our general range; on the other hand, no other national society can make the same restrictions as to individual requirements. Each of the other societies is devoted to some specific branch of engineering, but the individual qualifications should be comparatively light; it receives into its ranks every engineer working in its specialty, as we receive engineers of every specialty, but not every engineer.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers accepts as a member any one who is “competent to take responsible charge of work in his department”; it is not necessary that he should be able to design, and while this would be a bad provision for our Society, it is exactly right for the Society of Mechanical Engineers. We take in the educated men of every branch of the profession; each other national society takes in every man who is devoted to the specialty which that society represents. There can be no conflict between those societies and ourselves; it may be hoped that in time every one of our members will belong to at least one of these other societies.

The relation which our Society is to bear to the various local societies is of a different character. These societies are intended to bring together the engineers of the immediate neighborhood in which they are established. Their opportunities for social intercourse and for frequent discussions are necessarily greater than those of a national society. Their requirements for membership should be more liberal than those of any national society. Like our Society they should receive members from every branch of engineering; like the mechanical and other special societies they should admit every one who is qualified to take responsible charge of work in his department. The qualifications for a member in the Western Society of Engineers, the Chicago local society, are simply that he must have been engaged for five years in some branch of engineering. It would be an appropriate thing for those local societies which now have it in their title, to drop the "Civil" and let them all become "Societies of Engineers," restricted only by convenience of location.

The relation of our Society to societies of the other classes, may, perhaps, be likened to the three dimensions of space. Our society has a length which is defined by no geographical limits and a breadth which is bounded by no engineering specialties, but its depth is limited by the qualifications of individual men. The other national societies have the same indefinite length that we have, but the breadth is limited to the specialty which characterizes each one of them, while the depth is unlimited as they take in every engineer who follows this specialty. The length of the local societies is confined to the geographical limits which they represent, while the breadth and the depth are both unlimited.

As the national societies all have their quarters in the same city, any engineer residing in or near New York may find all that he needs in one or more of the national societies, but it is hoped that in time every non-resident member will also be a member of one of the local societies.

The differences between our Society and the several other classes of engineering societies are of so radical a nature that it would be a dangerous thing to try in any way to consolidate or unite them. We cannot unite without entirely changing the qualifications for membership. No idea of uniting with the other national societies has ever been suggested. We cannot unite with the various local societies without either so widening the qualifications of our membership that we shall cease to be a society of civil engineers, or so restricting the qualifications of their membership that the ranks of many of them would be destroyed.

But, though we cannot unite with any of the other societies, it is our duty as the leading engineering society of America, and one of the leading societies of the world, to treat all other technical organizations with the same generous kindness and courtesy which should characterize the treatment of gentleman by gentleman, of professional men by each other. The members of the different local organizations should be welcomed to our headquarters and we should freely exchange our publications with other societies, esteeming it a privilege if we are able to give them more than they give us.

Passing from general considerations to actual work. Engineering tools may, for convenience, be classified on the basis of their approach to the manufacture of power. The first place may be given to the tools which manufacture power; the second place to those which transmute power; the third place to those which transmit power, and, after this, the rank and file of miscellaneous tools may follow.

The only tool in general use for the manufacture of power is the steam engine, but the caloric engine had its field of usefulness, while gas engines and oil engines are doing good work where small installations of power are needed. An engineer who was lately one of our ablest and most active members, Mr. A. M. Wellington, was engaged at the time of his death in the perfection of a thermo-dynamic engine of novel design.

The tools which transmute power are principally two, the waterwheel and the windmill. The water-wheel has been brought to a degree of perfection scarcely equaled by any other tool; the windmill is still a crude and usually a badly made affair. The last year has seen at Niagara, the installation, not yet completed, of the largest waterpower plant ever erected.

In tools for the transmission of power the progress of the last few years has far exceeded all that had ever been done before. So long as engineers sought to utilize electricity to manufacture power they failed; but when they adopted it as a means of transmitting power, the results became superb. The dynamo, though logically a tool to transmute power, is practically more properly classed as part of the general tool for electric transmission of power.

Without attempting an exhaustive division, three classes of the more general tools may be mentioned.

The first of these are tools of transportation, of transportation by land, and of transportation by water.

By land, the steam railroad system has become a tool of such magnitude that to many it has seemed as if no man could be a civil engineer unless he were also a railroad builder. The wild extensions built rapidly and carelessly through unsettled territories, or with less rapidity and greater carelessness where not needed in the older districts, are nearly done; but an immense work remains in improving terminals, developing better local facilities and generally bringing these great railroad tools into a condition in which they will perform their own duties better and interfere less than now with other work. In a distant part of the world a railroad is building which cannot fail to have a great influence in the new epoch. Twenty-six years ago the American continent was first crossed by a railroad reaching from ocean to ocean; seven years hence the Trans-Siberian railroad will complete a continuous line across the older and greater continent, eastward instead of westward, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. This new railroad, passing around the most populous portion of the globe and the seat of a civilization now farther than any other from the conditions of the new epoch, may do more than any one thing to render that epoch universal. In about a century from its first general introduction manufactured power will have crossed both continents, and by the aid of manufactured power on the ocean it will be possible to make the circuit of the globe in about 40 days. The extension of the electric railroad system, especially in our cities, has been rapid, until now there are in this country not less than 10,000 miles of railroad operated by electricity. In Chicago the newly opened Metropolitan Elevated Railroad, the best designed and most thoroughly constructed road of this kind yet built, uses electric motors.

In transportation by water two very important works belong to this year, one completed, the other as yet no more than considered. The first is the North Sea Ship Canal, which, passing through the northern part of the German Empire, connects the Baltic with the North Sea. The second, of more importance to Americans than any water project started since the conception of the Erie Canal, is the Nicaragua Canal, the completion of which, besides opening a new general waterway will make the Atlantic coasting fleet available for the coasting service of our whole country. A board of three engineers, all members of this Society, is now in the Isthmus engaged in an investigation which we all hope will justify the early construction of this great work.

The waterway and the boat that navigates it are equally tools of transportation. The advances in marine engineering and especially in the ocean marine have been most marked, the development being both in the manufacture of the hulls, which are now almost invariably built of steel, and in the development of higher steam pressures through the compounding of engines, until the latest addition to the fleet of full-powered ocean steamers, the Si. Louis, built at Philadelphia, carries a steam pressure of 200 lbs. and develops her power through two quadruple expansion engines. The advances in lake marine have been almost as great as those in the ocean marine, but all this time our western rivers are navigated by boats which differ little from those which ran upon them 50 years ago. They still have the wooden hulls, the long-stroke high-pressure horizontal engine, the big separate side wheels, and the battery of small boilers; their machinery is a little better than it was at first, the pressures they carry a little higher, but the changes are so slight as to be insignificant. The channels of the principal western rivers are being constantly improved under the direction of the general Government, but as yet no response has been made to these improvements by the radical improvements which ought to come in the boats and their engines. Much is said of the decline of river business—it has declined because land transportation has given better and cheaper facilities. Until the boats on the western rivers make the same advance that other tools of transportation have made, this business must continue to decline.

Another very important class of tools are the sanitary tools. The history of the world is filled with stories of pestilence which could have been avoided entirely by proper attention to drainage and -water supply. There is no branch of engineering which is so directly associated with the convenience of man. The larger sanitary tools, unlike the tools of transportation, are generally constructed by public and not by private corporations, and this makes it necessary to build works which the public can understand, where the educated civil engineer may feel that a different thing would be better. The most important work of this kind now in progress is the drainage canal building by the Sanitary District of Chicago, intended to divert water from Lake Michigan to the valley of the Illinois River in sufficient amount to form a clear flowing stream which will not be polluted by the sewage of a great city. This work has now progressed to such an extent that it is expected that the water may be admitted to this new channel before the end of 1896. The work is a very remarkable one, and one which, under the present condition of things, was absolutely necessary to insure the health of the great city of the lakes. But every tool is likely to be superseded by a better one, and it is somewhat doubtful whether future engineers will consider a tool which washes away the sewage of a city an intelligent solution of a problem of this kind. The canal will be worth all that it costs, but it is not unlikely that another generation will see means adopted to keep the sewage out of the channel which has been built to dispose of it, and will utilize it on the sandy district south of Chicago.

The other classes of tools need be referred to but briefly. Among them are the tools for general commercial uses, such as warehouses and office buildings, in which a decided change has taken place within a very few years. Heavy masonry walls are being discarded in our large cities and skeleton structures of iron and steel are being adopted as the most convenient and economical tools. These buildings must not be confused with the great monumental buildings of the world, they are tools rather than monuments; their construction belongs to the engineer rather than to the architect. They are still marred by inappropriate decorations patterned after masonry construction, but the method of construction has been adopted because it gives economical results, and so with least expenditure of money produces a tool of greatest profit. The durability of oxidizable metal may not be that of masonry; it remains to be proved how durable these buildings are, bat as economical structures they are excellent tools. It is interesting to note that in New York City not only is metallic construction being applied to all commercial buildings, but the same methods are being used for the foundations of these buildings that have been proved to be most efficient under great bridges and works recognized as strictly of an engineering character.

Another tool which is about approaching completion and which is being executed under the direction of engineers is the Congressional Library at our national capital. This library building, designed expressly for the purposes of a library, to take care of books and provide for their use, is built on engineering principles, as a tool adapted to its purposes, ornamentation being made subservient to construction and decorated style secondary to use.

We have met at this convention in the oldest part of our country, in the harbor of a great city whose origin distinctively antedates the beginning of the new epoch. Boston was founded 139 years before Watt perfected his steam engine; it existed for nearly 200 years before the general manufacture of power. In the later centuries of the new epoch it will be regarded as a city of ancient origin. In this community are men whose rank is among the very highest in the design of the highest class of tools, the engines which manufacture power. The leading hydraulic engineers of the country, whose business is to transmute power, have lived here. The Boston local society is the oldest engineering society in America. It is the section of our country which boasts the oldest university, the largest public library and the greatest proportion of educated men; and yet it is, perhaps, more necessary here than in any other part of the world to emphasize the real nature of our profession. I speak as a son of Massachusetts who, though much of his life has been spent elsewhere, has never wholly separated from New England. The ideas of the old epoch were strong; it was hard for the people of Massachusetts to recognize the importance of the civil engineer; the prejudices of the Puritan and of the old-time liberal professions were inherited from the past. There was not always a full conception of the real meaning of the construction of tools. Yankee ingenuity was thought enough to meet all requirements, and men of liberal education justly considered that work which native ingenuity did without training could not be ranked as professional work. Such men did not appreciate the civil engineer because they did not understand his work; they missed the distinctive requirements which make the civil engineer and confounded the profession with men who did not belong to it. Let it now be known distinctly that our profession is one of training and education. The civil engineer is an educated man, whose knowledge of the sources of power in Nature enables him to direct them for the convenience of man.

The tools which we have to build are generally large. The physical man is often a tiny thing beside the work which he has to construct. Nothing illustrates the power of mind over matter better than the work of our profession. Though we deal with matter and our work is of a material kind, it is the mind which has made this matter give forth power, it is the mind which is opening the new epoch, and it is by the training of this mind that the civil engineer must prevail. We are the priests of material development, of the work which enables other men to enjoy the fruits of the great sources of power in Nature, and of the power of mind over matter. We are priests of the new epoch, without superstitions; but, if our profession is to do the good work of which it is capable, the true spirit of individual immolation which has characterized the devoted priest of all ages must be found among ourselves. The profession can only do its future work by trained minds working together.