The Value of the Prospector – by William Sulzer (1938)

From a speech delivered in 1938 by William Sulzer, a former governor of New York.

The prospector is the most useful man to commerce and the most valuable man of civilization.

Political economists tell us that next to agriculture, mining is the next greatest industry. This is true from the viewpoint that if our soil were untilled, famine would stalk the land.

From a monetary standpoint, however, the mining industry is the greatest in the world. The truth of this assertion becomes apparent when one considers that mining gives us the standard of value by which the price of everything produced by the brain and brawn of man is measured.

Abandon mining and the value of every commodity would be insignificant, humanity would sink back to the barter-and-exchange age, and financial paralysis would lock in its vice-like grasp the industries of mankind.

It would be the greatest calamity that ever befell the human race, and in less than a century, civilization would revert to the barbarism of pre-history, when primitive man knew nothing about copper, gold, silver, iron, lead, zinc and the other mineral resources of Mother Earth.

Those who decry mining are ignorant of history. If they knew anything about metals, they would know that all business, all industry and all human progress depends on mines.

The wealth from mines, from the dawn of time, is the epic of human advancement of man’s heroic march along the path of progress.

Show me a people without mines and I will show you a people deep in the mire of poverty and a thousand years behind the procession of civilization. It was the mines that made the greatness of the past, that made the ancient civilizations, that made Egypt great, that made Rome great and, in modern times, that hive made Spain, England and the U.S. rise beyond the dreams of avarice.

The greatest benefactor of the human race has been the prospector. The most beneficent men of all time are the far-seeing men whose brain and brawn developed the Earth’s mineral resources.

These are men who poured the golden streams of mineral wealth into the lap of civilization, into the channels of trade, into the avenues of commerce and into the homes of happiness.

All honor to the miner.

All hail the prospector.