Lewis Nixon, was born in Leesburg, Va., April 7, 1861. Following his early education in Leesburg, he was appointed a midshipman in the U.S. Navy in 1878, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Acaddemy in 1882, at head of his class. He was sent to the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. England by the Navy Department, and transferred to the Construction Corps of the Navy in 1884. In 1890 he designed the battle-ships Oregon, Indiana and Massachusetts. In 1890 he designed the battleships of the Indiana class, and when the contract for these vessels was awarded to the Cramp shipyard, he resigned from the navy to become superintending constructor there.
Nixon resigned from Cramp in 1895, and he leased the Crescent Shipyard, Elizabeth, N. J., on own account, where with only four hundred feet of water front he had built 100 vessels in the first six years of operation, among others the submarine torpedo-boat Holland, monitor Florida, torpedo-boat O'Brien, and cruiser Chattanooga.
Arthur L. Busch emigrated to the U.S. in 1892 and began working as a draftsman at the William Cramp and Sons shipyard in Philadelphia. While at Cramps he met Navy Lieutenant Lewis Nixon and ultimately went to work as Chief Constructor at Nixon's Crescent Shipyard in Elizabethport, New Jersey. Here he met John P. Holland and began an 18-year friendship with the Irish-American submarine designer.
In 1896, at the Crescent Shipyard in Elizabethport, NJ, Holland laid the keel for the "Holland," 54 feet in length and 75 tons of boat powered by a 50-horsepower gasoline engine with a 60-cell storage battery for submerged operations. After the submarine sank at the dock, Holland worried that some of its electrical systems might be damaged.
Busch supervised construction of Holland's sixth submarine, launched in 1897 and commissioned as the USS Holland in 1900. Busch then supervised the construction of Fulton, the prototype for the U.S. Navy's Holland-designed A-class submarines. In August 1900, Congress approved a contract for six improved Holland (SS-1) type submarines each to cost no more than $170K. In October 1900, a seventh submarine was approved. These were laid down 1900-01 by Crescent Shipyards, Elizabeth NJ and Union Iron Works, San Francisco CA and joined the fleet 1903-04. An eighth unit, Fulton, was ordered by Electric Boat to full naval specifications, and served as a prototype.
When the Crescent Shipyard lost the contract for the B-class submarine Nixon began building an export model of the A-class.
A Tammany Hall Democrat, in November 1901 Nixon succeeded Richard Crocker as leader of Tammany Hall, resigning the position in May of the next year ; he had also been chairman of the finance committee of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Nixon was appointed by Mayor Van Wyck as president of the East River Bridge Commission in January 1898. He remained a consulting naval architect with Cramp Shipbuilding Co. Nixon organized and was president in 1900-04 of the International Smokeless Powder and Dynamite Co. He organized the Standard Motor Construction Company, U.S. Long-Distance Automobile Co., Carbon Axle Co., New East River Bridge Commission, was a trustee of Webb's Acadademy and Home for Shipbuilders; and a Director of the Idaho Exploration and Mining Co. Nixon was a member of the board of visitors to the United States Naval Academy in 1902 by appointment of President Roosevelt. Nixon wrote: "Military Value of the Shipyard", June, 1897; and "Commercial Value of the Shipyard," November 1897, both in the North American Review.
The National Civic Federation held a conference Industrial Conciliation on December 16 and 17, 1901. Nixon stated that "I employ a number of men. Four years ago [ie, in 1898] I concluded on my own initiative that I would try making my men union men. And I did so not because they asked me to, but because I believed that eventually I should accomplish more by doing so. I have as yet no cause to regret my action. There are a number of things in connection with organized labor that the employer has to criticise, but, so far as I can see, the relations of organized labor to the employer present far more that is good than bad, and they are constantly improving. To my mind, the reason of the great industrial and commercial development of the United States during the past twenty years has been largely the fact that the employer in this country works with the men who work for him. We are all workers here and all have rights. And I feel that now we are about to bring about a kind of an industrial clearing-house where the grievances of both sides can be carefully discussed and fairly weighed, and with the benefit of public opinion upon the side that is right there is no question but that lasting, permanent, and great benefit will be derived."
In 1902 the Crescent Shipyard Company, Elizabeth, NJ, of which Lewis Nixon was the founder, filed articles of incorporation. The company was capitalized at $1,200,000, the incorporators being Lewis Nixon, Judge Patrick H. Gilhooly of Elizabeth, and Mason S. Chace. It was reported that the Nixon plant would shortly absorb the extensive Crescent Iron Works, owned by the Samuel L. Moore & Sons Company, which was opposite the shipyard.
In 1902 Lewis Nixon became president of the United States Shipbuilding Company, which included the Crescent shipyard, the Eastern Shipbuilding Company, and others.
On 29 May 1903 notice was posted at the Crescent Shipyardthat the entire plant would be shut down for ten days beginning to-night. This is in order to enable an account of stock to be taken, owing to the reconstruction of the American Shipbuilding Company, of which the Crescent shipyard is a branch.
On 20 July 1903 the Crescent Shipyard, where strikes had been in progress for some months, was turned into an "open" yard, the announcement being made that both union and non-union men would be employed there. President Chase decided to take this step, as there was a great amount of work to be done, and there seemed no prospect of a settlement with the strikers. It was feared that there might be trouble at the yard to-day, on account of the action of the company, but there was no disorder of any kind. No applicants appeared for the places of the strikers, and the strikers themselves maintained good order. The strikers include drillers, carpenters, and ironworkers.
In 1904 the Crescent Shipyard Company, Elizabethport, NJ, steel and iron shipbuilders, employed 780 Males. This company reported that each of its employes contributes ten (10) cents from his wages each month, which goes to the two hospitals of the city. The monthly contributions are given alternately to each hospital. In return, the employes receive free treatment when sick or injured.
In June 1904 all the machinists employed in the Crescent Shipyard at Elizabeth, about fifty in number, went on strike for a minimum wage rate of $3 a day. As the joiners, carpenters, drillers, and tappers were then on strike, work ceased and the yard was practically shut down.
Bethlehem Steel Company was incorporated in New Jersey on 10 December 1904 as successor to the United States Shipbuilding Co., It acquired the entire capital stocks of the following companies: Bethlehem Steel Co.. Harķan Hollingsworth Corp., Union Iron Works Co.. Samuel L. Moore & Son Corp.. Carteret Improvement Co.. Eastern Shipbuilding Corp., Crescent Shipyard Corp.. Bath Iron Works and Hyde Windlass Co.
The plant of the Crescent Shipyard Co., at Elizabethport, NJ, and the Carteret Improvement Co., at Canda, NJ, had not been operated since the formation of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, and both were consolidated with the Samuel L. Moore & Sons Co., under an agreement adopted by the stockholders of the Crescent Shipyard Co., the Carteret Improvement Co. and the Samuel L. Moore & Sons Co., on November 21, 1907.
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