Did Henry Sherwin Intend to Cover The Earth With Lead?

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 07/21/2008 - 07:51.

Long before Sherwin Williams Paint Company founder Henry Sherwin died, it was well known lead was dangerous to humans. Yet Henry's company "Covered the Earth" in lead, none the less, making large fortunes for few, as celebrated at the Sherwin site at Lakeview Cemetery, in this REALNEO header, yet costing society immeasurable sums, as mourned each Lead Awareness week. As society becomes less lead poisoned, and so more intelligent, history is being captured to reflect facts learned through better uses of technology, that will set records straight for eternity. One fact we may learn is whether Henry Sherwin intended to cover the Earth with lead, and so poison its people.

Did Henry Sherwin Intend to Cover The Earth With Lead?
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Sherwin had no idea, but now we do.

Real institutional memory shows Henry Sherwin knew

Based on some light reading on the history of lead in paint in Amrica, it is pretty clear everyone in the paint industry knew of the dangers of lead by the time Henry Sherwin died... in it's defense, Sherwin-Williams claims to have ceased manufacturing lead pigment in 1947. Perhaps Henry was lead poisoned long before he died, and so was not mentally competent to understand the Earth he covered with lead, or he did it with intent to poison humans, for profit. Here is an abstract from a great article on the subject... "Cater to the children": the role of the lead industry in a public health tragedy, 1900-1955, by G Markowitz and D Rosner:

A major source of childhood lead poisoning, still a serious problem in the United States, is paint. The dangers of lead were known even in the 19th century, and the particular dangers to children were documented in the English-language literature as early as 1904. During the first decades of the 20th century, many other countries banned or restricted the use of lead paint for interior painting. Despite this knowledge, the lead industry in the United States did nothing to discourage the use of lead paint on interior walls and woodwork. In fact, beginning in the 1920s, the Lead Industries Association and its members conducted an intensive campaign to promote the use of paint containing white lead, even targeting children in their advertising. It was not until the 1950s that the industry, under increasing pressure, adopted a voluntary standard limiting the amount of lead in interior paints.

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Sherwin mined lead in 1904

From the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History... "Sherwin-Williams... bought lead, zinc, and copper mines in New Mexico in 1904; and built a smelter in Coffeyville, KS, shortly after." From Cincinnati Children's excellent history of lead poisoning... "In 1904, J. Lockhart Gibson, an Australian, was among the first English-language authors to directly link lead-based paint to childhood lead poisoning, specifically noting the dangers to children from painted walls and verandas of houses. A year later, he urged, "The use of lead paint within the reach of children should be prohibited by law."" Henry Sherwin and his partners of Sherwin Williams sjould have been prosecuted for poisoning children, or run out of business, shortly thenafter. Instead, they poisoned the world. Is business really much different today, in our land of Mittal poisoning. Won't we ever learn? No, we celebrate industrial killers and their life works and especially their personal wealth...

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No celebration

There's no celebration, but just as children blame their parents for their problems, we are not solving anything by dwelling on what happened in the past.  How do we STOP this from happening in the future?  Legislation and enforcement (?)  And, reducing our reliance on the product.  Cars.

Awareness matters

I do blame my parents for many of the world's problems and I hold myself resonsible for many of my children's problems. We all dwell in those problems, like 400,000 lead-contaminated Cuyahoga households, until we solve the problems of our past or die. If we may teach our children to look at the world around them for what it really is, as the result of poor behavior by specific people before them, they may learn to behave differently. And they - we - must learn to behave differently.

Decades ago, paint companies wanted to sell more lead paint, which they knew harmed the environment and people - children, especially - so they marketed it through children, e.g. the Dutch Boy. Last year, GM ran a series of advertisement for the Hummer, which all sane people realize harms the environment and so people - so they marketed it through children (kids wanting mommy to drop them off right in front of the school building in their big, rich Hummer).

So, the Sherwin-Williams poisoned the world back then, and the GM poisons the Earth now. And we never seem to learn... the only reason GM and Hummer sales are down is the cost of gas... there has not been a shift to higher social consciousness in America, that I have observed, at all. There must be, and that will only come through a higher degree of public awareness about all aspects of public health, largely through the Internet, as such public awareness and consciousness disrupts established industrial power.

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