Fairless, Benjamin F.
Karsh photograph of, and signed by, US Steel’s 1938-53 President
Autograph ID: 3890
Condition: Very good, light lower left corner bends
Description: “(1890-1962) President of US Steel Corp. 1938-53, Board Chairman 1952-55. He oversaw the world’s largest iron & steel producer with $2+B total assets. Fairless’ improvements boosted iron capacity at US Steel by millions of tons per year. During his tenure, business recovered from its Depression slump, buoyed by enormous demand for steel products generated by WW II and the postwar economic boom. Revenues more than quintupled from $611M in 1938 to $3.5+B in 1951. US Steel was in every US market except the east, so in 1949 it announced plans to build a large integrated steel plant in Pennsylvania on the Delaware River. Fairless Works near Morrisville, was named for him as was the US Steel-developed community of Fairless Hills, 5 miles from the works. This plant, operational in 1952, competed with Bethlehem Steel for the eastern market and took advantage of ocean shipment of iron ore from US Steel’s large ore reserves in Venezuela. In 1951, a single company was formed from the company’s 4 major operational subsidiaries. This reorganization, completed in 1953, created a tightly knit, more efficient organizational structure. Fairless’s tenure as chairman of the board included one of the longest strikes in US Steel’s history, resulting from the company’s refusal to allow substantial wage increases and tighter closed-shop rules. Just before the strike was to begin in April 1952, President Truman seized the company’s properties to ensure steel production for the Korean War. This action was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in June 1952. An industry-wide strike ensued that was settled in August. The company broke ground in 1953 for a new research center near Pittsburgh. Fairless retired in May 1955, succeeded by Roger M. Blough as chairman of the board and CEO. In 1954 the Association for Iron and Steel Technology inaugurated an award named for Fairless.
SP, 10 x 8 Yusuf Karsh of Ottawa studio glossy b&w seated portrait signed to left of his head; Karsh, Ottawa backstamp verso.