Francisco Domingo Carlos Andres Sebastián d'Anconia, a major character in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged, was the last CEO of a copper mining company that had been in his family since the days of the Spanish Empire. He presented the public face of a playboy, interested primarily in meaningless romances while his company descended into rack and ruin. In fact he was deliberately destroying it, on the orders, as he interpreted them, of John Galt.
- 1 Back story
- 2 Youth
- 3 College
- 4 The strike call
- 5 Dagny Taggart
- 6 The playboy
- 7 The mole
- 8 D'Anconia Copper Number One
- 9 Looking for conquests
- 10 Directive 10-289
- 11 The scab
- 12 The conquest of Henry Rearden
- 13 The rescue of John Galt
- 14 Typology
In or about 1600, in the days of the Spanish Empire, Sebastián d'Anconia insulted the Lord of the Spanish Inquisition at a court dinner and fled to the Viceroyalty of Peru. He came to the Andes Mountains in South America and explored them for mineral wealth. He found a rich lode of copper, and on this lode he built a fortune that would sustain his family for many generations to come. Fifteen years later, he sent for the woman he had left behind in Spain.
Sebastián d'Anconia's successors were not the sort of "trust fund kids" that one finds today. They prided themselves on following his examples of self-reliance, self-discipline, and above all, autonomy. As Francisco would later explain, before any man took the reins of what became D'Anconia Copper SA, he must prove himself worthy of the family name.
Young Francisco d'Anconia spent many of his childhood and adolescent summers at the family compound of the Taggarts, the family that controlled the great Taggart Transcontinental Railroad. His father encouraged this, so that he would consider himself a man of the world, not merely a man of his native Argentina.
His playmates there included James Taggart, his sister Dagny, and Eddie Willers, last in a long line of men who had served the Taggart Transcontinental Railroad in various subordinate executive positions. James Taggart never impressed Francisco very much. He could tolerate Eddie Willers, because Eddie followed his lead and did not spend half his time complaining, as James was wont to do. But by far the playmate who made the greatest impression on him was Dagny.
At the age of 11, Francisco spent the winter in the home of the Duke of Alba, in Madrid. A year later, he stowed away on one of his father's cargo ships and worked his passage. When the ship put in to port, the elder d'Anconia wanted only one answer from his son: whether he had been good at whatever job the captain of the ship set him to. Francisco cheerfully assured his father that the answer was yes.
In the summer of 1992, Francisco managed to get a job as a night dispatcher on the TTRR, in violation of several child-labor laws and other regulations. He lost that job strictly on account of those regulations. Everyone in the yard liked him and liked the job he did. He did it for one reason only: to be able to boast that he had had a job on the TTRR before Dagny had. (Dagny had long since told him that someday she would run the TTRR.)
About two years later, Francisco observed to Dagny that the industrial trademarks he saw as the two would hop freight trains for fun were the closest things to coats-of-arms that modern society offered.
When he was sixteen years old, Francisco went to the Patrick Henry University of Cleveland, Ohio (not to be confused with the real-life Patrick Henry College). He decided to pursue an interesting and demanding double major: physics and philosophy. Though he had a generous allowance, Francisco worked nights as a furnace boy in a copper foundry in Cleveland.
To his pleasant surprise, he met two other young men who had the same plans: Ragnar Danneskjöld, who descended from a long line of Viking aristocrats, and John Galt, who came to the school virtually penniless and literally worked his way through college. Despite the vast differences in their backgrounds, the three became very fast friends, though perhaps none of the three would know how fast their friendship would prove to be in the years ahead.
In the summer before his senior year, Francisco returned to New York at the time that Dagny Taggart "came out" as a debutante. Dagny told Francisco that she found the party a bore, because she alone, of all those present, even managed to enjoy herself. That night, the two began an affair that would last for eight years.
Francisco returned to PHU and completed his undergraduate degree. He then bought the copper foundry where he had worked, shocking the employees of D'Anconia Copper and even giving pause to his father. But in the fall of 2000, Francisco went to Montana as assistant superintendent of the D'Anconia Copper properties in that State. In the spring of the next year, he came to New York and took charge of the D'Anconia Copper branch headquarters there. Slightly more than two years later, his father was dead, and Francisco then took command of D'Anconia Copper SA and all its worldwide interests.
The strike call
On March 7, 2007, Francisco received what he could only describe as a summons from John Galt to meet him at an address that he least expected John Galt to have: a garret apartment in a run-down brownstone in New York City. He answered the summons. He was shocked to see John Galt living in a place like this, and that Ragnar Danneskjöld, whom he had last seen pursuing his PhD in Philosophy at PHU, joined them.
John Galt was not interested in something as mundane as a "college reunion." He told them a very disheartening and bracing story of his experiences at the Twentieth Century Motor Company in Wisconsin, where he had gone to work as an engineer three years before. His story was this: after he completed the prototype of a motor that could run on static electricity from the atmosphere, the owner of the factory, Gerald "Jed" Starnes, died. Gerald Starnes' heirs then proposed a plan that Galt knew he could never accept. Under that plan, all the workers would work according to their abilities, and be paid according to their needs. John Galt immediately announced his refusal to work under such a plan and his intention, as he put it, to "stop the motor of the world."
He then shared with them his proposal: to call a strike of the men of the mind, and note how quickly human society would collapse without their contributions. He then asked Francisco and Ragnar to join him in this strike. During his talk, he gestured out the window. "When you see these lights go out," he said, "then you will know that our job is done."
Francisco knew that merely quitting and joining the strike would not be enough for him. "To whom much is given, much is expected," and as Francisco saw it, John Galt would expect nothing less of him than that he not only quit the D'Anconia Copper Company, but also to destroy it so that no one would have the benefit of the talents of his predecessors. As he would later explain it to Dagny,
|“||I am not merely leaving it as I found it; I am leaving it as Sebastiän d'Anconia found it, and then let the world get along without him or me!||”|
The first person whom Francisco went to see was Dagny. He could not tell her the full particulars, because that was a secret that belonged to someone else. But he begged her to give him some reason to reject John Galt's message, though again he did not specifically identify John Galt or the message. Perhaps he should never have expected Dagny to argue effectively with him under such a handicap. But he did not merely see Dagny as a love interest; he saw that she, too, was as much a victim of what John Galt called the "looter system" as John Galt might have been, and that what she should do was to go on strike with him. He also saw that she could never bring herself to do such a thing, and he dared not share that secret with her until she was ready to hear it.
And so, with much sorrow, he bade her farewell. But he set for himself the personal goal to recruit her into the strike, no matter how long it took. The only other prospect in whom Francisco would take such a personal interest was Henry Rearden, many years later.
Francisco needed a cover for his activities, and he found one. He became the stereotypical, if not quintessential, "Latin lover." He would throw wild parties in which he encouraged his guests to cast aside the usual notions of modesty and decorum. He would even give the appearance of having one "one-night stand" after another. Yet in fact he never once was intimate with any of the women whom he allowed to become linked with him in international gossip. As he would later explain:
|“||Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will show you his opinion of himself.||”|
So he never was intimate with any of these women, because he could not bring himself to stoop that low.
Besides which, all of his playboy activities were an elaborate sham. As he continued to invite gossip, he was preparing to make some business decisions that would be thoroughly bad in any context except that of a deliberate attempt to destroy his family business.
The San Sebastián Mines
In or about September 2011, Francisco opened the San Sebastián Mines in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. James Taggart became President of the TTRR in that year. He rather excitedly proposed a special railway line, the San Sebastián Line, to serve those mines and the workers' community that served them. Dagny Taggart became Vice-President of Operations three years later and, within a year, completed the line. Francisco presided over its opening, on New Year's Day of 2016, but noted with satisfaction that Dagny did not attend. She knew, just as Francisco did, that Mexico was now the People's State of Mexico and was likely to nationalize the mines and the railway line at the next meeting of the Mexican Congress. So beginning on September 2, 2016, Francisco saw the service on the San Sebastián Line cut to one passenger train a day (pulled by a wood-burning steam locomotive) and one freight train every other day. Francisco accepted these service cuts without complaint.
Then, inevitably, the People's State of Mexico nationalized the mines and the railway line. But then the Mexican government discovered the truth: Francisco had opened mines where there was neither copper nor any other mineral to be found. When the story broke, Francisco was in New York City, staying at the Wayne-Falkland Hotel (probably the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel under a fictitious name). Dagny Taggart came to see him, and Francisco simply feigned innocence and asked her to try to reason out for himself why he would drive mines into mountains that could yield no minerals, for no better reason than to play an elaborate scam against a Communist government. Francisco left her with only this clue:
|“||Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you find yourself facing an apparent contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.||”|
In another dubious decision, Francisco actually manipulated the common stock of his company to make it look attractive to James Taggart, Orren Boyle, and their politically connected friends. Then, on the occasion of James Taggart's wedding to a young woman named Cherryl Brooks (September 2, 2018), he made a great show of protesting that his company was out of cash and could not keep going without a major loan. The stock promptly crashed, and the connected politicos lost heavily.
The third manner in which Francisco systematically depleted the assets of his company involved his old friend Ragnar Danneskjöld. Ragnar had long since became a privateer, and was seizing government "humanitarian" cargoes and generally becoming the scourge of the Atlantic Ocean. Francisco would occasionally send messages to Ragnar whenever one of his copper-laden freighters was setting sail, in the expectation that Ragnar would attack the ship, cast the crew adrift in lifeboats, and then sink the ship with its load. One such "loss" would place a great strain on Francisco's campaign to recruit Henry Rearden into the strike: Rearden had contracted with D'Anconia Copper to ship a load of copper for the pouring of another heat or two of Rearden Metal (see below), but that copper would never reach its intended port.
D'Anconia Copper Number One
In the springtime of the same year (2011) in which Francisco first drove the San Sebastiän Mines into the Sierra Madre Mountains, John Galt recruited Midas Mulligan, the famous banker of Chicago, Illinois. Mulligan had long since bought out the old mining "ghost town" of Ouray, Colorado, after the very slow economy had long since killed its tourist trade. (In real life, Ouray, CO is accessible by one paved road, the southern part of which is a switchback pass without guardrails.) Mulligan in fact owned the entire land area of the former town of Ouray, together with several miles of the Uncompahgre River valley to either side. Now Mulligan built a single house up-slope from the valley floor, cut off all access except for the old Million Dollar Highway (which he now camouflaged), and stocked the valley with supplies to last a man a lifetime.
But Mulligan did not stay secluded. He hired John Galt to build or complete at least three vital projects:
- A refractor-ray system to project a false image of the valley for any curious pilots (satellites had long since fallen silent), and a smaller version to hide the northern or downstream road.
- A powerhouse to provide energy for the ray screen, for Midas Mulligan's house, and for any other house that a man might build.
- A water tower and pump to provide running water to any house in the valley.
- The cutoff, and indeed obliteration, of the Million Dollar Highway through the Red Mountain Pass to the south.
In June of that year, Francisco (and his friend Ragnar Danneskjöld, and all the other recruits to that time) came to this valley, not to the former meeting place of the strikers (wherever that had been, which the novel never names). Each man built a house in the valley, to use for one month out of the twelve. John hired any able-bodied striker to extend electrical and water service from the powerhouse and water pump to each house.
Francisco undertook the cutoff of the Million Dollar Highway as a subcontractor to Galt. Francisco had long suspected that the Red Mountain Pass held a motherlode of copper. He knew that someone had bought the Uncompaghre River Valley years before, but didn't know who until Galt told him that he not only had found the owner (i.e., Mulligan), but had recruited him into the strike. Now Francisco asked for and got a leasehold in the Red Mountain Pass. He brought his own workforce, and his own equipment, to prospect through the Pass. Erasing the Million Dollar Highway and restoring it to its original wilderness condition was a simple and incidental job, that he accepted for a nominal fee. He also appreciated the rich irony of that job: he was giving the world's "environmentalists" just what they always asked for, and in the process cutting off their access to what had been one of their favorite tourist traps: the Ouray Ice Park, where well-heeled environmentalists once practiced ice climbing in the ice that was the source of the Uncompaghre River. (In real life, Ouray Ice Park still functions.)
Francisco did prospect through the pass, and struck a lode of copper, just as he thought he would. Now he knew that he could still build a productive career, and provide a product for what might one day become a thriving community. For Francisco knew that as the strike gathered momentum, it would create a community of like-minded men. That community would need copper and other raw materials. And so he quietly recruited some of his people at D'Anconia Copper, hired some of his fellow strikers, and worked the lode. D'Anconia Copper Number One became the first mining operation in the place that he now called Galt's Gulch.
Labor was chronically short, so Francisco designed new mining machines to enable one miner to do the work of ten or more. Transportation remained a problem; only mules could negotiate the trail he blazed to the mine. (Eventually, Henry Rearden would help him build a truck road, and after that, Dagny Taggart would build a railroad from the mine to the valley. But that would come near the end of the strike.)
Judge Narragansett and Richard Halley asked for and got leaseholds in Galt's Gulch (or Mulligan's Valley, as John insisted on calling it) in the fall of that year. They were the first two permanent residents besides Mulligan.
Looking for conquests
At about the same time as the San Sebastián debacle, Francisco noticed that Rearden Steel was in the news. Henry Rearden had invented a new kind of alloy, the principal constituents of which were iron and copper. With this metal, called "Rearden Metal," Henry Rearden proposed to pour rail and even make an entire bridge to renovate Taggart Transcontinental's ailing Rio Norte Line in Colorado. While he was making his plans in detail, his wife Lillian gave a grand dinner party to celebrate their eighth wedding anniversary (December 10, 2016). Lillian invited Francisco d'Anconia; apparently the rules of the social set to which Lillian Rearden belonged demanded that she not ignore him entirely.
Francisco attended, and introduced himself to Rearden. Rearden did not really want to talk to him, but Francisco could tell, even then, that Rearden would be ripe for the taking within a few years. All that Francisco need do was to encourage Rearden to think about himself and his situation, along a certain line.
Francisco met Rearden again at James Taggart's wedding reception, on September 2, 2018. He made a few sarcastic remarks at James Taggart's expense; for instance, when James Taggart began to boast of the "replacement" of "the aristocracy of money," Francisco said that the replacement was actually "the aristocracy of pull." But Francisco had not come merely to make himself unpleasant. As he had done at Lillian Rearden's dinner, Francisco was actively cultivating his relationship with Rearden. Rearden sardonically asked him whether he was "looking for conquests." In answer, Francisco said, "Yes, I have found one who will be my greatest and last." By whom Francisco meant Henry Rearden himself, though he would not explain that until much, much later.
It was on that occasion that Francisco warned Rearden, in no uncertain terms, never to buy the stock of D'Anconia Copper, nor deal with D'Anconia Copper in any way, shape or form. (Rearden would forget that advice on a critical occasion, and a load of copper that he thought would be delivered without incident wound up on the bottom of the Caribbean Sea.)
In all his various meetings with Rearden, Francisco repeatedly sounded one central theme: that Rearden, by continuing to give of his talents to society, was supporting those who not only did not appreciate his talents but in fact intended to punish him in any way that they could. On one occasion, Francisco asked:
|“||If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders—if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, and the harder he worked, the more the world pressed down on his shoulders—what would you tell him to do?||”|
Rearden said, "I...don't know. What...could he do? What would you tell him?"
Francisco answered, "To shrug."
Two incidents nearly ended any hope that Francisco had of convincing Rearden to "shrug off" his burden. One, as mentioned, was the incident in which Rearden had rashly contracted with D'Anconia Copper to deliver a load of copper to him, but that load ended up at the bottom of the sea. At that time, Francisco had said to Rearden, "I swear to you, by the woman I love, that I am your friend." The other was when Henry Rearden discovered, on May 28, 2019, that Dagny Taggart was the woman whom Francisco loved—but Henry Rearden had been having an affair with Dagny himself. In a jealous rage, Rearden hauled off and slapped Francisco across the face with the back of his hand. Francisco summoned all his self-discipline not to strike back.
On May 1, 2019, the United States Bureau of Economic Planning and Natural Resources issued Directive 10-289, under which all persons would be legally attached to their jobs, and all inventions and other intellectual property would be nationalized and become an intellectual common. Francisco called Dagny and simply asked her whether she had yet received news of what he called "the moratorium on brains."
Within twenty-four hours, Dagny Taggart had disappeared. Then on May 22, John Galt told Francisco that he had discovered, from his position as a spy in the Taggart Terminal, where Dagny might be found. He then told Francisco that he should go to her and tell her of the strike, saying that he had "earned" this chance. From Galt, that was a significant concession, because Francisco knew that John Galt had fallen in love with her.
Francisco did go to see her. But he did not tell her the secret of the strike. He did, however, tell her the secret of his sham playboy persona, and his deliberate acts to destroy his company.
He was probably on the point of winning her final defection when a special bulletin broke on the radio: the eight-mile-long Taggart Tunnel through the Rocky Mountains had been demolished in a colossal wreck that was the result of a series of thoroughly bad, and probably politically motivated, dispatch decisions. Among other things, the Taggart line's signature coast-to-coast express, the Comet, had been sent into the tunnel pulled by a coal-burning steam locomotive, not the Diesel locomotive that was the only sort of locomotive that was safe to use in the tunnel. The Comet had stopped halfway in the tunnel after the engineer and everyone else on board had been asphyxiated. (The fireman had managed to run to the western adit of the tunnel and was thus the only survivor.) Then a United States Army freight special crashed into the rear of the stalled passenger train, and the resulting explosion sealed the tunnel forever.
Dagny immediately left to return to New York, though Francisco begged her, "In the name of everything held sacred to you, don't go back!" He probably realized that Dagny continued to function in a society that did not thank her, because she loved her work too much to leave it.
Francisco did not let matters rest. On the night after Dagny rushed back to New York, Francisco came to see here there. He said that he would not try to recruit her again, but dropped a hint: "All our roads lead to Atlantis."
Just then, Henry Rearden came to see Dagny, and found Francisco there. The two men had an argument, during which Rearden abruptly asked Francisco whether Dagny Taggart was "the woman he loved." Francisco nodded. Rearden then hauled off and slapped Francisco in a jealous rage. It took all the iron self-control that Francisco could muster to stop himself from striking Rearden in retaliation—for Francisco knew that once he joined such a battle, he would end up killing Rearden. And that was the one thing he did not want to do.
Francisco left Dagny's apartment and returned to his rooms at the Wayne-Falkland. He was preparing to take his annual one-month vacation in Galt's Gulch. By now the Gulch was almost self-sufficient; Midas Mulligan bought a limited number of goods, possibly including steel, from the outside. (Where he got them, the novel never says, but he might have gotten them from the same black marketeers who bought their goods from none other than Ragnar Danneskjöld.)
Three days later (May 31), Francisco heard the dreadful news that Dagny Taggart was overdue to return to an airfield in Colorado, and was missing and presumed lost in the mountains. Francisco delayed his usual coming to the Gulch for days while he searched the mountains for the wreckage of her aircraft. Finally he could stay away no longer, and came to the Gulch to pay his respects to John Galt. Then Galt surprised him by saying that he had a scab staying in his house. This was something that Francisco positively had to see. He was shocked to discover that the "scab" was Dagny herself. She had indeed crash-landed, in the Gulch, after trying to follow one of John Galt's recruitment flights—but now that he had found her alive, he was able to call off his search and remain in the Gulch for the rest of June.
During Dagny's stay in the Gulch, Francisco gave her a tour of D'Anconia Copper Number One. Dagny observed that he transported his copper ore to the valley floor on muleback, and suggested that he build a railroad instead. At first he protested that laying rail would be too expensive, but Dagny said with complete confidence that she could build a railroad easily and inexpensively. But in the middle of her presentation, she lamented that she could not lay such a short stretch of rail and abandon an entire transcontinental system.
John Galt listened to this, and sternly told her that if she decided to remain in the Gulch, she would have to hear, in excruciating detail, about every failure of Taggart Transcontinental. Dagny asked for time to consider her decision.
Francisco then invited Dagny to stay at his house, rather than at John Galt's house. Dagny then said that John Galt had engaged her as his cook and housemaid, and therefore had the prior claim on her. John at first asked her to make the decision herself, as an adult, but she insisted that the decision belonged to him, as her employer. John Galt then turned to Francisco and refused the permission. The two men realized at once that Dagny had been testing their commitment to the philosophical principle that John Galt had just finished outlining:
|“||Nobody stays in this valley by faking reality in any manner whatever.||”|
At the end of the month, Dagny decided to return once again to the outside world, saying that she would continue to fight for John Galt's principles in that arena. Francisco admired her courage, but knew that any such effort by her was futile.
The conquest of Henry Rearden
Francisco would not see Dagny again until the next winter. As the fall approached, he laid his plans to complete the destruction of D'Anconia Copper. He knew that the People's State of Chile intended to nationalize all his remaining holdings. So he quietly placed explosive charges in all his facilities, timed to explode at the moment that the Chilean parliament would call itself to order to consider the nationalization bill.
This happened on September 2, 2019. The next day, New York City's scrolling calendar display showed, not the date of September 3, but Francisco's personal message of defiance and vindication:
|“||Brother, you asked for it!||”|
Francisco signed that message with all his names in full.
Then he applied for a job at Rearden Steel, not under his true name, but under the name of Frank Adams. He signed on as a furnace foreman. He learned quickly that the Unification Board was moving several workers into the plant who had no experience in a steel mill. When he had decamped from Chile for the last time, he had taken several of his best white- and blue-collar workers with him. He presumably brought one of these into Rearden Steel to back him up against whatever act of violence might break out.
Sure enough, on October 20, the pressure campaign began. The union at the plant petitioned the Unification Board for a raise. Three days later, the Board turned them down. Then the newspapers brought out sob story after sob story about the workers at Rearden Steel. Francisco knew exactly what was going on, and alerted John to be ready to move at a minute's notice to get Hank Rearden out. When, on October 31, the Internal Revenue Service slapped a phony tax lien on Rearden, Francisco knew that the storm could break at any time.
On the afternoon of November 4, he learned the final details of the plot against Rearden. Five government men would meet Rearden in New York, and explain the Steel Unification Plan, under which all the steelmakers of the country would work "as a team" and be paid according to the blast furnaces they owned, regardless of productivity (or lack of it). On that very day, a riot would break out at the plant, to try to intimidate Rearden into accepting the Plan.
Francisco got word to John Galt that he should get to the Reading Airport at once and prepare to break out Rearden's plane for a flight to the Gulch. He then went straight to the mills superintendent with what he knew about the riot to come. The super tried to get help from the police, but none was forthcoming. So Francisco organized the regular employees as a militia to fight the rioters when the riots broke out. Henry Rearden returned to the mills when the riots were in their full fury, and Francisco had to intervene personally to rescue Rearden from two thugs who had clubbed Rearden senseless.
After Rearden came to himself, Francisco went to see Rearden in his office. At last Rearden was ready to hear Francisco's great secret, and to follow Francisco wherever he led him. Rearden thanked him profusely and, as a sign of friendship, called Francisco by his first name. Francisco, in turn, called Rearden by his short name, "Hank."
Francisco summoned his assistant to drive Rearden back to his apartment, and then to the Reading Airport. He instructed Rearden to take everything objectively valuable that he could carry, and take some warm clothing. Rearden followed his instructions and let the assistant help him. The assistant, after dropping Rearden off at the airport, drove on to the valley, with the last of Rearden's cash in his pocket, cash he would use to buy motor fuel. (Rearden took with him a Troy pound of gold, a present from Ragnar Danneskjöld.)
Francisco then told all of Rearden's regulars that Rearden had now chosen to "vanish" from the world. He flew some of them, in his own aircraft, to the Gulch; these certainly included Gwen Ives and a few white-collar men. The mills superintendent organized the rest to follow Francisco to the Gulch on the ground, in heavy trucks holding as much equipment and supplies as they could load on short notice. With the result that Henry Rearden's mills fell silent for the first time since their founding.
When the workforce arrived in the Gulch, Rearden put them to work building a new steel mill, and also set armed guards throughout his new leasehold. Francisco liked what he saw and suggested to John Galt that Rearden join the Committee of Safety. Galt readily agreed.
The rescue of John Galt
On November 12, Ragnar Danneskjöld landed in the Gulch. With his usual cargo of gold, he brought a dire piece of intelligence: that Mr. Thompson intended to deliver a speech "on the world crisis" on November 22. John Galt summoned the Committee of Safety (consisting of John, Francisco, Ragnar, and now Henry Rearden) and informed them all that he, not Mr. Thompson, would deliver a speech to the world that night. This Galt did. The next day, against Francisco's advice, Galt went back to New York. Francisco was not a "nail biter," but if he ever came close to doing that, this was the time.
Three months passed with no word from Galt, other than a gazette of sorts describing the decline and eventual shutdown of Rearden Steel. Francisco informed Rearden, who laughed at him and said, "Francisco, Rearden Steel is right here in this valley!" In fact, Francisco and Rearden collaborated on building a real truck road, so that Francisco could move his copper to the valley much faster. Now, for the first time, Rearden was pouring Rearden Metal in the valley. The last of the dependencies on the outside world disappeared.
On February 22, 2020, John Galt was arrested. Dagny Taggart gave every indication of having turned him in to the authorities in order to protect her railroad, but Francisco knew her better than that. He now had merely to wait for the final series of disasters to convince Dagny that any further "strikebreaking" was futile.
Ragnar Danneskjöld was back in the Gulch by then, having put his privateering ship in "mothballs" in a Norwegian fjord and begun settling his crew in the valley. But with the news of Galt's arrest, the men in the valley cried out for leadership to get him back. Ragnar obliged. He organized the Galt's Gulch Air and Land Militia, with half the men in the valley participating, using every aircraft available. Francisco served as the chief of intelligence.
He got word to Dagny, leaving only a telephone number for her to call when Galt was in danger. Meanwhile, Ragnar infiltrated Manhattan Island with his militia, and set up "camp" in multiple "safe houses" (actually, safe apartments) around the Wayne-Falkland Hotel, where the authorities held Galt. But they did not dare storm the hotel; the authorities would almost certainly kill Galt before they could get close.
Francisco did not have to wait long. During the abortive presentation of the "John Galt Plan for Peace and Prosperity," John Galt made a rapid movement on a stage so that millions of people, watching on the still-new medium of television, would see plainly that someone had been holding a gun on him. Galt then said, "Get...out of my way." After that, the authorities stopped transmission.
Dagny called Francisco almost immediately afterward. She warned him that the authorities were going to fly Galt to the State Science Institute campus near Lyme, New Hampshire, and there put him to the torture. Francisco instructed Dagny to go back to her apartment, change clothes, pack up her jewelry, valuables, and some warm clothing, and meet him in forty minutes at a corner near the Terminal. En route to the rendez-vous point, Francisco noticed a number of people fleeing New York, with their personal belongings lashed to the roofs of their cars. Dagny came to him on time, and, hand upraised, declaimed,
|“||I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.||”|
Dagny and Francisco got off Manhattan in a hurry, but not by the usual route. How they got to Francisco's aircraft, or even where that aircraft rested, the novel does not make clear. Obviously the entire Galt's Gulch Militia had to decamp with them.
Dagny, Francisco, Hank Rearden, and Ragnar Danneskjöld flew together to New Hampshire, with the militia keeping formation with them. Ragnar gave the order that he and his companions would rescue Galt themselves, with the militia standing by. That rescue turned out to be ridiculously easy—because the kind of men who were guarding the facility where John Galt was held prisoner did not have the best minds in the world.
The four of them captured the "Project F" building easily, killing five guards in all and incapacitating the rest. Ragnar had planned the operation well, and adapted quickly as the four captured and interrogated some of the guards.
Then came the time for the actual rescue. Francisco was not at all sure that they had arrived in time. So after Ragnar had picked the lock on the torture chamber door, Francisco entered first, holding out his arm to bar the way to the others. He caught sight of Galt, lashed to a mattress but very much alive and without a mark on him. Francisco lowered his arm, and the rescue party rushed inside.
Of the four rescuers, Francisco found the fact of what John Galt had endured hardest to take. He swore to hunt down Galt's torturers and kill them, but Galt told him that such a course would be not only unavailing but unnecessary. Hank Rearden and Ragnar Danneskjöld said nothing; they concentrated on freeing Galt from his bonds, and then Ragnar systematically destroyed the torture apparatus while Rearden and Francisco helped Galt to dress. Then the party took him out of the building and to Francisco's plane, which was waiting on the lawn of the State Science Institute campus, and took off for the Gulch. As they passed over New York, the city was plunged into darkness as the power grid failed catastrophically and permanently.
Francisco now devoted his full attention to his one copper mine, and had plans laid to drive or sink more mines, in a society that would have better respect for the rule of law. He even had designed a new type of smelter that would allow him to process his ore much more efficiently, and looked forward to supplying Henry Rearden with large quantities of copper with which to make his new Metal.
Spoilers end here.
Francisco is one of the three primary anti-villains of Atlas Shrugged; the other two are John Galt and Ragnar Danneskjold. He is not so much a type as a larger-than-life figure that was one of Ayn Rand's examples of a complete man. He is a productive genius who decides to show what would happen if someone were to devote such genius to the deliberate impoverishment of a company that is under threat of nationalization. The purpose is to show that a man of the mind can always defend himself against the worst attacks of a society that rewards failure and punishes success. The price is high: in this case, the destruction of a fortune that has lasted for centuries. But the prize is much more valuable: simple liberty.
Francisco is an "anti-villain," and not a hero, for this reason: all of Francisco's life-altering decisions were made in advance of the primary action of the novel. A literary hero makes his life-altering decisions in the course of the story, which is why Henry Rearden is actually the hero of this novel, even if he finally follows Francisco's lead.
Francisco also indulges in self-parody as cover for his activities: he pretends to be a "Latin lover." But his actual personality is more like that of the original conquistadores, like Hernando Cortez and Francisco Pizzaro, from whom Francisco probably got his first name.