The First Tool Engineer


          THE FIRST TOOL ENGINEER 
    
        by  George L. Miller, PDDGM 
          


  The background material for this short presentation was suggested to 
  me by Worshipful Brother John J. Miller, a Past Master of Tuscan 
  Lodge #77, holden under the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. We both 
  thought that it might be a good lesson in Masonic Education and 
  that you might enjoy it. 


  It concerns the question of who was the first tool engineer.  Much 
  of the thesis was given us by Mr. Robert B. Douglas, whom we do not 
  know to be a Mason, but we do know he is a Past President of the 
  American Society of Tool Engineers.  It is an expression of how 
  some of the things we learn as Masons are also part of the 
  sectarian world, and as we know them as part of our legend many are 
  pretty close to the facts. 


  Time and again one finds Eli Whitney, famed for the invention of 
  the cotton gin and for the introduction of mass production 
  techniques in the manufacture of arms, accoladed as the first tool 
  engineer. 


  In the cavalcade of tool engineers, Mr. Eli Whitney is very much of 
  a johnny-come-lately.  Let us bow to his genius; let us acknowledge 
  his extraordinary contribution to interchangeability in complex 
  mechanisms; but, let us not call him Father.  The art and science 
  of tool engineering has deeper roots than the nineteenth century. 


  The Father of Tool Engineering was born just eight generations out 
  of Eden in the anti-diluvian night.  Scholars put his birth at 1056 
  years after the birth of the first man.  He was the son of Lamech, 
  and the grandson of Metusaleh and his name was Tubalcain.  We can 
  read his brief but eloquent biographical sketch in Genesis, IV, 22 
  "Tubalcain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron."  
  In other words, the Father of Tool Engineers and Tool Engineering 
  Education. 


  "There were giants in the earth in those days."  Lamech, crude, 
  cruel, lusting descendant of Cain was a mighty hunter and a mighty 
  warrior.  But his scope was limited.  The old man was so taken up 
  with the day by day task of protecting the family and homestead 
  against the depredations of rival families and wild beasts, that 
  there was no progress and but little feeling of security in the 
  family.  The oldest son was a musician, the other a singing cowboy.  
  Then came Tubalcain, son of the practical mother Zillah. 


  Watching his father hunt with rough but precious weapons, he 
  realized how tenuous was the claim to survival of the whole tribe, 
  should ill fortune break or carry off one of the few miserable 
  spears or arrows in the side of a wounded lion.  The family was 
  left defenseless for days while a new one was painstakingly 
  fashioned out of stone by hand methods. The herds were neglected, 
  the music was stilled, while everyone pitched in to make a new 
  supply.  The key to survival was production. 


  Only with a large and assured supply of weapons could the family 
  maintain the unrelenting struggle against its environment.  Stop or 
  threaten that supply and not only the arts of his Brother Jubal, 
  but food itself must be rationed or cut off altogether until the 
  deficiency was made up. 


  So little Tubalcain, while hardly more than a boy, studied the 
  problem of production.  From foundry to forge to finish grind, he 
  studied and experimented with the processes of forming and shaping 
  metal.  When one process had been mastered, he lost no time in 
  breaking in a couple of slaves to keep production rolling, while he 
  went on to pioneer the next step.  Thus was the division of labor 
  first applied. 


  The same techniques that made arrowheads were gradually applied to 
  spears, knives and short swords.  A continuous flow of weapons came 
  from the production lines out behind old Lamech's hut.  Behind the 
  wall of weapons in the field, Jubal's commerce, and Jubal's 
  cultural arts were free to flourish, and in Lamech's yard the music 
  of Tubalcain's forge made fitting background for the melody of 
  Jubal's oaten pipes.  But, restless Tubalcain must needs press on 
  if the future be secured. The discovery of the techniques must be 
  formulated into an organized body of knowledge, certain theories 
  drawn, and the principles laid down for the guidance of others.  
  Tool engineering as a formal science was conceived and born in the 
  wilderness in the Land of Nod. 


  The safety of the tribe, the advancement of science, the 
  encouragement of commerce and the arts, in short, the upward 
  progress of mankind, could not be secured or consolidated, if these 
  secrets were left to rust and grow stale in the mind of one man.  
  So Tubalcain called them all in - his brothers and his cousins, and 
  their slaves, and their children - and he taught them those things 
  that he knew and they laboured together, each according to his 
  abilities and his industry. 


  As great as had been his contribution in the perfection of 
  technique, greater still was his vision of the "free interchange of 
  scientific knowledge." 


  When the critical shortage of arms had been changed to an abounding 
  surplus, their lines were converted to the implements of peace - to 
  the production of brass bowls and lamps and great was the light and 
  prosperity that settled on the land. 


  Unfortunately, with the great floods that were sent, after his 
  death, to cleanse the world, were washed away both the tools and 
  the memory of Tubalcain's works. 


  To Eli Whitney and the famous tool engineers that have followed him, 
  has been given once more the key to gradually unlock the door of 
  that golden science once put into the hands of Tubalcain in his 
  youth. 


  As later children of their heritage, let us honor Father Tubalcain's 
  memory and cherish his dream.