Anthracite Country Reaches for the World, 1851


A cache of documents records the correspondence between Benjamin Springer and Philadelphia-based engineers, steam-engine manufacturers, and mechanics in early 1851. Springer, himself a coal dealer and former president of the Coal Mining Association of Schuylkill County’s Board of Trade, had just been appointed to a new position in the US Navy. As the department’s f rst “Anthracite Agent,” he would supervise the navy’s purchase of anthracite fuel. The existence of the agent position itself was a result of Springer’s six years of lobbying Washington on behalf of Pennsylvania’s anthracite industry to adopt this coal as the favored fuel for the navy’s increasing number of ocean-going steam vessels.