James Stuart Douglas (4 November 1837 - 30 June 1918) was a Canadian
mining engineer and businessman who introduced a number of metallurgical
innovations in copper mining.
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The Douglas family is one of the most powerful and romantic in the
stirring annals of Scotland; in fact, in every generation a Douglas has
been a leader of daring enterprise, and his name a household word for
successful accomplishment. Wherever in the world they have settled,
their descendants have carried with them this quality of dominating
energy, and we find them at the forefront in every field of endeavour.
Dr. James Douglas’s own family has had an adventurous and varied
history. A consideration of this will help greatly toward understanding
his versatile and successful career. His great-grandfather was a mason
and stone-cutter in Yorkshire. His grandfather, a Methodist clergyman,
was stationed at Brechin, Scotland, where his father was born. Dr. James
Douglas himself was born in Canada, has lived a great part of his life
in the United States, and his activities have been bound up chiefly with
that most picturesque and adventurous section, Mexico and the Southwest.
He comes naturally by his varied career and many-sided abilities, also
by his literary and scientific skill, for his grandfather was a man of
talents, within the limitations of a country clergyman, and his father,
as we shall see, was a man of broad culture and one of the most
distinguished men of science in Canada.
Dr. James Douglas was born November 4, 1837, in Quebec,
Canada. He received his early education at home and in the local
schools. As a boy he was much in the company of his brilliant father,
also a Dr James Douglas, and
received great inspiration from him. After two years in the University
of Edinburgh, which he entered in 1855, he returned to Canada and
completed his studies at Queen ‘s University, Kingston, Ontario,
receiving his A. B. in 1858. lIe then returned to Edinburgh, took a
course in theology and was admitted as a licentiate of the Church of
Scotland, before its amalgamation with the Free Church in Canada. This
theological training, along the broadest lines of scholarship, has
proven to him a valuable asset, for not only has his life been dominated
by deep religious conviction and Christian spirit, but the experience he
received in public speaking and the literary tastes he developed during
this period have coloured his whole career. Later father and son
travelled extensively together in Europe and the Orient, visiting Egypt
three times and bringing back important archaeological collections,
which were subsequently presented to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New
The father’s health failing, the son studied medicine
in order to be able to assist him and to carry on the work of the Quebec
Lunatic Asylum, which the father had established, and which was still
largely in an experimental state. Also, Dr. Douglas, Sr., had invested
heavily in gold and copper mining in Canada and the United States; so,
while studying medicine, the son was compelled to interest himself in
mining and metallurgy in an endeavour to conserve these properties. Thus
he was led away from the chosen path of literary and religious work, and
these investments for the most part proving unfortunate, was forced to
make a living as best he could out of an occasional fee and lectures on
chemistry and metallurgy. However, he entered these new fields of
endeavour with the same keen intelligence, enthusiasm, and honesty of
purpose that he has shown in whatever he has attempted.
professor of chemistry in Morrin College, Quebec, for three years, and
while there began, in association with his life-long friend, the late
Dr. Thomas Sterry Hunt, experimenting with the hydro-metallurgy of
copper. Dr. Hunt and Professor Silliman, of New Haven, were interested
in a company organized to extract the copper from the copper-bearing
portions of the Jones Mine ores, on the Schuylkill River, above
Phoenixville, Pa., and offered the position of manager to Dr. Douglas.
He accepted and came to the United States in 1875.
Copper Company was a failure, on account of lack of capital. Its work,
however, was important, in that it was the pioneer in working out many
of the methods that have since proved invaluable in the industry. It was
the first establishment to refine copper electrolytically, and put many
tons of anodes on the market. While employed at Phoenixville, Dr.
Douglas gained valuable experience in the working out of metallurgical
processes, and in further developing the well-known Hunt-Douglas patents
for the wet extraction of copper. His keen powers of observation and
description, coupled with his wide scientific knowledge, also put him
immediately in demand as an investigator and mining expert.
was in this capacity that he became acquainted with Mr. Dodge and Mr.
James, of Phelps, Dodge & Company, and it was upon his advice that they
became interested in the Detroit Copper Company and later acquired the
Copper Queen, Atlanta, and other copper properties at Bisbee and
elsewhere in Arizona and Mexico, that, developed under Dr. Douglas’s
management, have been such prominent factors in the growth and
prosperity of that important concern.
The founding of a great
smelting center at Douglas, Arizona, impelled Phelps, Dodge & Company,
Inc., into which the original company was merged, to purchase the Dawson
Coal Fields, in order to secure an uninterrupted supply of fuel.
Transportation requirements led first to the building of branch
railroads, then to the El Paso & Southwestern Railroad, which, with its
Mexican connections, aggregates more than a thousand miles of standard
gauge track and forms an important link between the Rock Island and
Southern Pacific railways. Thus from small beginnings in 1881, the
company now turns into the markets of the world annually about
180,000,000 pounds, or 7% of the total production of copper. The
subsidiary companies responsible for this great output are the Copper
Queen Consolidated Mining Company, the Detroit Copper Mining Company,
the Moetezuma Copper Company, and The United States Mines; and the Stag
Canon Fuel Company extracts 1,500,000 tons of coal yearly, about
one-half of which is converted into coke.
Dr. Douglas is
president of all the companies controlling and operating these
interests. All of them may be said to have been instigated by him. The
technical and financial success with which this great organization has
been handled bespeaks his thoroughness and business ability. His work
has brought to him honour and wide professional fame, but, in the words
of one of his associates, there is "a feature dominating all of it that
is more notable and worthy of record. One cannot conceive of Dr. Douglas
remaining the technical head of an enterprise tainted in any way with
stock-jobbing, unfair treatment of employees or double dealing of any
sort. Fortunately for him, his associates have been men of similar
ideals, deeply sympathizing with the high motives that actuated their
technical associate in all of his efforts for the uplifting and comfort
of miners and other employees. He has always stood for free trade in
ideas, and his mines and works are open to the student, as well as to
his brother engineers. He is never too busy freely to give anyone sound
advice and the results of his experience that many others feel justified
in keeping to themselves."
Dr. Douglas has twice been president
of the American Institute of Mining Engineers. He is a trustee of the
American Museum of Natural History, a member of the American
Philosophical Society, the American Geographical Society, the Society of
Arts, London, England, the Iron and Steel Institute and many other
prominent societies of America and Europe. He is a member and gold
medallist of the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, London, England,
and has been honoured with the degree of LL.D. by McGill University.
Dr. James Douglas was awarded in 1915 the John Fritz Gold Medal for
that year for notable achievements in mining, metallurgy, education and
industrial welfare. In 1914 he presented to the American Museum of
Natural History at New York a large model of the Copper Queen Mine at
Bisbee, Arizona, with which he has been so closely identified since
1880. He has made other gifts to the Museum and to the Metropolitan
Museum of Art. Dr. Douglas has aided his alma mater, Queens University,
Kingston, and McGill University, Montreal. He has given largely to one
of the New York hospitals, particularly toward cancer research work, and
his philanthropy extends in many other directions.
He is a member
of the Century Association, Engineers’ Club, City Club, Adirondack
League Club, and Montmorency Fish and Game Club.
Edinburgh Dr. Douglas was a prizeman in English literature. His early
training, his diversified studies and wide experience have given him a
broad outlook on life. Endowed with a fine literary taste, in the midst
of an exceptionally busy career he has never permitted the light to grow
dim. For a time, when Mr. Garrison was editor, he wrote extensively for
The Nation. These papers cover a wide variety of subjects, literary,
historical, religious, philosophical and sociological, and many were of
a significance to attract notable attention. He has also contributed to
many other American, Canadian and British periodicals. He is an
authority upon the early history of Canada. His books include: Canadian
Independence, Old France in the New World, New England and New
France—Contrasts and Parallels in Colonial History, and Imperial
Federation and Annexation.
His reports and papers on strictly
scientific subjects reflect the same literary training and are
distinguished for their lucidity and accuracy. His contributions to the
literature of mining and metallurgy are numerous and important.
Following are some of the more important: The Gold Fields of Canada,
1863; The Copper Deposits of Harvey Hill, 1870; Recent Spectroscopic
Observations of the Sun, 1870; The Copper Mines of Chili, 1872; The
Copper Mines of Lake Superior, 1874; Conditions of the Survey for the
Canadian Pacific Railway, 1874; Historical and Geographical Features o.f
the Rocky Mountain Railroads; The Metallurgy of Copper, 1883; The Cupolo
Smelting of Copper in Arizona, 1885; Copper Production of the United
States, 1892; Recent American Methods and Appliances in the Metallurgy
of Copper, Lead, Gold and Silver (Cantor Lectures), 1895; Record of
Borings in Sulphur Springs Valley, Arizona, 1898; Treatment of Copper
Mattes in Bessemer Converter, 1899; Gas from Wood in the Manufacture of
Steel, 1902. Some of these have been collected in a little book.
He was married in 1860 to Naomi Douglas, one of the daughters of
Walter Douglas, who brought over the Unicorn as the first vessel of the Cunard line in 1840, and commanded her for some years while she was in
commission on the St. Lawrence River.
James S. Douglas was always known as Dr. Douglas. His son,
Jr., or "Rawhide Jimmy" (1867-1949), followed in his father's
footsteps, and built a major fortune with the United Verde
Extension mine in Jerome, Arizona. His Jerome mansion is open to
the public as the Jerome State Historic Park.
this time, Douglas maintained an interest in Canadian history
and heritage. He wrote several books on the subject in his
lifetime, namely Canadian Independence, Old France in the New
World, and New England and New France—Contrasts and Parallels in
Colonial History. In addition to bailing Queen’s University out
of a financial crisis with approximately a million dollars from
his own pocket, Douglas also established the first chair in
Canadian and Colonial History there in 1910. He also financed
many libraries, such as the library of the Literary and
Historical Society of Quebec, where interest from his donations
is still used to purchase books.
Douglas also donated to
several medical causes, most notably the Douglas Hospital in
Montreal, Quebec. This institution pursued the cause which had
been taken up by his father, a pioneer in the treatment of
mental health in Quebec. Douglas’ donations helped keep the
hospital alive in the institution’s early years. Originally
called the “Protestant Hospital for the Insane”, the institution
took on the name of Douglas Hospital in 1965 as a tribute to
James Douglas, Jr. and his father.
Since 1922, the
American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum
Engineers annually awards the James Douglas Gold Medal in his
memory. The Douglas Library at Queen's University, Kingston,
Ontario, is named in his honor, as is Douglas Hall at McGill
Born November 4, 1837, in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, died June
30, 1918 (aged 80), in Manhattan, New York, U.S.A. He married
Naomi Douglas, daughter of Captain
Of their children, six
reached maturity: James S., Walter, Elizabeth, Edith M. (Naomi E. and
Lilly, deceased). James S. has two sons; Walter has three daughters and
two sons; Edith M. (married Archibald Douglas) has two sons and one
daughter; Elizabeth, unmarried; Lilly (married Col. H. R. Hayter) left
at her death one son and one daughter. James S. Douglas is President of
the United Verde Extension Mining Co.,. which has a large copper mine in
Arizona, and Walter Douglas is Vice-President of Phelps, Dodge & Co., of
which Dr. James Douglas is President.
See alsoThe Douglas Mansion
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