Henry "Hank" Rearden (born 1971) is one of the heroes of Ayn Rand's novel, Atlas Shrugged. He was both a businessman and an inventor, and was one of the last "holdouts" in the strike of the men of the mind that John Galt called.
Henry Rearden was born in 1971. By the age of 14, he had his first paying job, in an iron ore mine. At 24, he was its superintendent. Six years later, he bought it when it was about to close.
Five years later, he bought a run-down steel plant near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and put his name on it. By then he also owned his own coal mine and thus had complete control of a steel mill and of all the raw materials he would need. Then began a rapid rise to prominence. He little suspected the exaltation—and the pain—that his venture would bring him.
Henry Rearden was not satisfied with the properties of steel as a metal. He always believed that he could create an alloy superior to conventional steel. The novel never makes clear what caused him to try to make a substitutional alloy of copper and iron, with interstitial carbon to harden it. He might have gotten the idea from studying the properties of bronze, the alloy of copper and tin that had been known since antiquity. Rearden sought, in essence, to use iron instead of tin in combination with copper, and was convinced that that combination, with carbon in its interstices, would be stronger than steel, yet much lighter.
His true motive for finding an alloy stronger and lighter than steel was to create a new type of bridge. He invented a new type of truss that he knew would require a new metal to build. (He would later discard that design in favor of a truss-arch combination.)
He began his experiments in the year that he opened Rearden Steel. For ten years he kept trying to find the right proportion, and made too many false starts to count. But at last he had the alloy that he sought. He called this alloy Rearden Metal.
Henry Rearden's family life was not nearly as happy as his business life. His wife was a member of the New York City "social set," which in the alternate history of the novel had become highly politically liberal. (In real life it is probably associated with the magazine known as The New Yorker.) Henry met her after Rearden Steel had become a near-overnight success, and he found himself in New York with a lot of money to spend and a lot of "idle rich" people suddenly wanting to hang on to him. Lillian Rearden was one of them. He married her because she seemed to take an abiding interest in him and his mills. He would later learn that she intended to destroy both.
Henry had a brother, Philip, seven years his junior. Philip had a number of liberal friends who were very much enamored of what in the novel might be called the "People's State movement" (probably the Communist movement) and probably got involved in the push for the Constitutional convention that "ran away," replacing the United States Congress with a unicameral Legislature. During that time, Hank had been busy working at, and then buying, his iron ore mine.
Neither Philip nor Lillian showed him any real consideration or appreciation. Rearden's mother lived in his house, but constantly attacked his dedication to his work and by extension his moral values.
Henry married Lillian on December 10, 2008. He lost all desire for her within a month and barely tolerated her after that.
The first illustration of Henry Rearden's troubled home life occurred on the day (September 2, 2016) that his workforce poured the first heat of Rearden Metal. That his wife and family would not have known that this was coming seems incredible. Yet when he returned home, his family criticized him for not remembering his upcoming wedding anniversary. In fact, he had remembered his anniversary, because he had ordered a chain-link bracelet of Rearden Metal made from that first heat that his workers poured that day. Lillian showed little appreciation even for that present, and said of it,
|“||Appropriate, isn't it? It's the chain by which he holds us all in bondage.||”|
In fact, Lillian Rearden barely tolerated Henry, and let him know it. Between husband and wife, no love was lost.
The John Galt Line
Shortly before this debacle, he had received his first order for Rearden Metal. Rearden Metal was proving a difficult sell, because no one except him believed that any metal that was stronger than steel could also be lighter. (Ayn Rand would not hear of titanium, a metal element used for that very reason, until much later in her life.) But Dagny Taggart of the Taggart Transcontinental Railroad placed a large order for rails made of Rearden Metal, for the renovation of Taggart's Rio Norte Line in Colorado. That line had fallen into inoperable disrepair, and Taggart Transcontinental was losing customers to a rival line that had a good track, which Taggart Transcontinental did not.
News of the order did not help the reputation of Rearden Steel, and for a time it harmed the reputation of Taggart Transcontinental. The reason was nothing more than what today is called FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). No one had used anything like Rearden Metal before, so no one expected it to work, and everyone expected a spectacular failure. Dagny Taggart bore the brunt of the criticism, but stubbornly insisted on using the new metal. Henry Rearden couldn't be more pleased that in Dagny Taggart he had a customer who concentrated on what was important, and ignored the voices of mindless fear.
Toward the end of October 2016, Dagny Taggart came to see Rearden with a story that probably struck him as distasteful. Instead of trusting Dagny's judgment and confidence that she could have the Rio Norte Line back in proper repair within a year, Dagny's brother James had lobbied in Washington for passage of a measure called "The Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule," the latest of a number of measures intended to protect less-able businessmen who were under pressure from more-able competitors. Under that new rule, the Phoenix-Durango Railroad was ordered essentially to cease operations within nine months, and Taggart Transcontinental would be the only railroad available in Colorado. The head of the Phoenix-Durango line had accepted the rule without much protest, and then had announced his intention to retire permanently. The Phoenix-Durango Line's best customer, Ellis Wyatt (who had made a fortune extracting oil from shale), had come to deliver an ultimatum to Dagny that if his business failed on account of Taggart Transcontinental's faulty transportation, he would make sure that Taggart Transcontinental would not survive either. Now Dagny felt herself in honour bound to get the Rio Norte Line in proper shape within the deadline.
Rearden rushed the order, and charged her extra for the tonnage yet to ship. Dagny did not complain, and accepted that as a legitimate business cost. In so doing, she won even more of his respect.
On December 10, 2016, Lillian Rearden gave a dinner party at the Rearden home, to celebrate their anniversary. Henry did not appreciate the sort of guests that Lillian invited. They included a syndicated columnist named Bertram Scudder, whose politics Henry detested.
But the guests also included Francisco d'Anconia, heir of the D'Anconia Copper Company, whom Henry knew only to be a playboy. Francisco d'Anconia had been in the news lately after his San Sebastián Mines in Mexico had been nationalized, and then turned out to be worthless. Henry couldn't decide whether Francisco d'Anconia was a totally inept businessman or whether he had played a colossal and expensive joke on the People's State of Mexico. Nor did Francisco provide many clues when he introduced himself to Henry.
Dagny Taggart was another of his dinner guests that evening. Henry was embarrassed to watch Dagny approach Lillian, who was making several empty boasts about her plain-looking bracelet of Rearden Metal. Lillian half-jokingly offered it for sale to any woman who offered a more valuable bracelet—and Dagny took off her own diamond bracelet and derisively challenged Lillian to consider her sale made. Lillian did so, and the bracelets actually changed hands.
Henry was embarrassed then for his wife, and thought that Dagny had shown poor taste. He little knew that he would repent of that attitude seven months later.
A bridge of Rearden Metal
Dagny and Henry traveled separately to Colorado to survey the Rio Norte Line and its progress. There Henry told Dagny that she was wasting money by ordering new support members of Rearden Metal to prop up a tottering steel bridge. Why not build a new bridge, entirely of Rearden Metal? He then showed her his first rough sketch of such a bridge, based on the new type of truss that he had invented years before. He showed her that such a bridge would actually be less expensive than extra struts for the old bridge.
If the level of FUD had been high when Dagny was merely proposing to lay rail of Rearden Metal, it now rose to a fever pitch with the news that she would build an entire bridge of the new metal. In fact, the State Science Institute issued a report essentially damning the Metal with faint praise, as an "unproved" technology. Henry dismissed the report, which seemed to him to have been written by men who had not even tried to work with the Metal. But the board of directors of the Taggart Transcontinental Railroad took it seriously. So did James Taggart, who fled New York City.
When the situation became untenable, Dagny then proposed to organize her own firm, buy the right-of-way from Taggart Transcontinental, and build the line herself. She called the line the John Galt line, after the mysterious name "John Galt" that everyone was asking about in a common slang phrase. She found several enthusiastic investors, including Ellis Wyatt and Lawrence Hammond, who had decided to relocate to Colorado and looked forward to the completion of the line. Henry Rearden, despite Dagny's protests, also decided to invest in John Galt, Incorporated.
The Equalization of Opportunity Act
Before the opening of the John Galt Line, Henry Rearden received a direct blow to his business: the Equalization of Opportunity Act. Under that Act, no one was allowed to be in more than one type of core business, so that all businessmen would have "equal opportunity" to be in business. This required him to divest himself of his ore and coal holdings, and buy ore and coal on the open market. He knew that this would make his operations that much more expensive, so on the night after the passage of the bill, he nearly gave way to despair.
What stopped him from giving way completely was his having yet another idea about bridge building. On that occasion, he conceived of a combination of a truss and an arch, that would bear even greater weight than his original truss invention. This would allow him to build the bridge with fewer raw materials, so that he would not miss his deadline. He was so excited about his discovery that he called Dagny at night to trumpet his triumph, and encourage her not to worry about people in Washington, DC who seemed to like to waste people's time.
At about this time, however, he did suffer a loss that would portend much greater trouble later on. He had hired a Washington lobbyist named Wesley Mouch to represent him before the politicians and officials. But Wesley Mouch had made himself unreachable and had not warned him about the Equalization of Opportunity Act. Finally Mouch wrote that he had resigned. Shortly thereafter came the announcement that he was now the new Assistant Coordinator of the Bureau of Economic Planning and Natural Resources. Mouch would become the senior coordinator in less than a year.
The opening of the line
As the day for the opening of the John Galt Line approached, Dagny Taggart scheduled a press conference to address the still-widespread fears about the new metal. At this conference, Dagny Taggart announced that she personally would ride in the first locomotive to run on the new rail. Henry then decided that he would ride in that locomotive by her side.
The John Galt Line did open on July 22, 2017, to much fanfare, with every substantial business in Colorado clamoring to place a cargo on the first train to run on the line. Dagny and Henry rode on the locomotive, as they had said they would. The train ran from one end of the line to the other, including once across the new bridge, entirely without incident.
That evening, they spent the night in Ellis Wyatt's house near his oil-shale fields. There Henry gave in to an impulse he had felt from the moment he met Dagny, though he considered that impulse shameful and dishonorable. He and Dagny began what would be a long and passionate love affair. Henry wasn't even sure that he had the right to feel the things that he felt, especially since he was married to another person. Dagny insisted that they both did.
The Colorado boom
The opening of the John Galt Line changed the attitude of the country overnight. Before, they had feared the new Rearden Metal and denounced it as a "greedy" ruse that would get people injured or killed in large numbers. Now that it actually worked as advertised, the people wanted more of it. But they wanted to demand it of him, in equal shares to anyone who asked. Yet at the same time, Orren Boyle's Associated Steel Company was lobbying to restrict Rearden to making only as much Metal as Boyle could make steel, and that wasn't much.
The opening had another effect: several businesses now decided to relocate to Colorado, which at the time had the least amount of regulation of any State in the Union. But other businessmen, not trusting in their own abilities, looked to Washington for more protections.
A new motor
In September 2017, Henry and Dagny decided to distract themselves by taking a driving trip. As it happened, they drove to Wisconsin and the site of the now-defunct Twentieth Century Motor Company. There, in the ruined and abandoned factory, Dagny made an incredible discovery that she shared with Henry: the partially wrecked prototype of a motor that could draw static electricity from the atmosphere and use it to do useful work. Dagny knew that this technology could start another Industrial Revolution, because it would have an obvious application in railroading, shipbuilding, and power generation.
But the prototype that they found was unusable, and the notes left behind were incomplete. Someone had removed or destroyed the critical portion containing the motor's secret.
Henry and Dagny worked together to try to trace the engineer who had invented the motor. But no one in the old factory town of Starnesville or the nearby and still-functioning town of Rome knew anything about any motor. The story they did tell concerned a failed bank and a fire sale of the company.
Henry returned to his mills and let Dagny try to track down the engineer. She did not succeed. As she later explained to him, as far as she could determine, the engineer/inventor had disappeared on the day that the original owner of Twentieth Century Motors, Gerald "Jed" Starnes, Senior, had died and his three children had taken it over and proposed to operate it under a very foolish business plan modeled after The Communist Manifesto. Furthermore, the disappearance had occurred about ten years ago, and was probably the first of a rash of disappearances of very talented individuals who had retired (and in some cases, vanished without a trace) without explanation.
The destruction of Colorado
In November 2017, all hopes of a boom in Colorado were dashed, when the federal government issued a raft of regulations that effectively destroyed all the incentives that Colorado offered. In response, several of the businessmen who had relocated to Colorado now vanished, as tracelessly as had the young inventor of the electrostatic motor. The most spectacular disappearance was that of Ellis Wyatt, who set his oil shale fields on fire ("Wyatt's Torch") and left a big sign near his property line:
|“||I am leaving it as I found it. Take over. It's yours.||”|
Hank Rearden's first reaction to Wyatt's Torch was to cry a blessing on Ellis Wyatt. His second reaction was horror. He felt as though his appreciation of Wyatt's obvious act of rebellion was sinful, for a reason he could not define.
The Wet Nurse
Henry continued at his mills, but now had to deal with a Washington representative, a "Deputy Director of Distribution." Henry knew him only by his first name: Tony. He actually called him "Non-Absolute." Everyone else in the mills called him the "Wet Nurse."
His job was to see that no customer received more than his "fair share" of Rearden Metal. Henry and Tony would have many conversations, during which the young man would impress Henry mainly as a college-educated civil servant parrotting a lot of pabulum, including a notion that nothing was ever absolute—hence Henry's nickname of "Non-Absolute" for him. Tony would not appreciate the irony for many months.
The Project X order
In or about June 2018, Rearden received an order that he decided that he would never fill. It was a peremptory instruction, written in an imperative, authoritarian tone, for him to deliver ten thousand tons of Rearden Metal to the State Science Institute, for use in a project known only as "Project X."
Rearden was not accustomed to receiving business orders that read like expropriations. He said so to the first Washington representative sent to him, a man named Cuffy Meigs, who wore a semi-military-looking tunic and the leather leggings of a traffic policeman. Not long after that, Dr. Floyd Ferris, the Associate Director of the State Science Institute, came to renew the demand. Henry Rearden gave Ferris his refusal as well, in no uncertain terms. He explained that he could state as his reason that he could not provide material for a secret project having a goal that no one would reveal to him, because as the inventor of Rearden Metal he held himself responsible for any use that anyone might make of it. But his actual reason is that he would never supply anything to the State Science Institute for "any project, good or bad, secret or open." Floyd Ferris threatened Henry with some unspecified action. Henry dismissed the threat and said that Ferris could now leave.
The D'Anconia Copper crash
On September 2, 2018, Rearden was a guest at the reception following the wedding of James Taggart and Cheryl Brooks Taggart. Francisco d'Anconia saw him there. Henry asked Francisco whether he was looking for any conquests, by which Henry meant conquests of the feminine kind. Francisco answered,
|“||Yes—one that will be my greatest and last.||”|
Henry Rearden would not learn until much later that Francisco d'Anconia was talking about Henry himself.
Francisco also gave him a cryptic warning not to buy any of the common stock of D'Anconia Copper, nor have any dealings with D'Anconia Copper for any reason. Rearden was puzzled, but distracted when Francisco announced that he was about to play another of his jokes on James Taggart and his friends. All of them were heavily invested in D'Anconia Copper, and Francisco had deliberately manipulated his stock to draw those men in as investors, and then crash the stock. He loudly protested the dire straits he was in, and the guests took alarm and fled, all except for Dagny, Francisco, and Henry. Henry was appalled at Francisco's behavior, but at the same time took notice that Francisco's business reverses seemed to bring their primary harm to those whom both men despised.
On November 22, 2018, Henry found himself under indictment for making a "more than fair share" shipment of Rearden Metal to Kenneth Dannager, a coal-mining magnate who had bought his coal fields. Floyd Ferris found out about this, and threatened to have Rearden indicted if he did not fulfill the order for Rearden Metal made by the Project X account. Henry still refused, and the indictments came.
Ken Dannager took that occasion to retire and vanish. Henry faced his trial, on the day after Thanksgiving Day of 2018, and defied the court. In essence, he argued lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, and then made remarks to this effect:
|“|| No, I do not wish my attitude to be misunderstood. I shall be glad to state it for the record....I work for nothing but my own profit—which I make by selling a product they need to men willing and able to buy it....I made my money by my own effort, in free exchange and through the voluntary consent of every man I dealt with—the voluntary consent of those who employed me when I started, the voluntary consent of those who work for me now, the voluntary consent of those who buy my product....I refuse to apologize for my ability—I refuse to apologize for my success—I refuse to apologize for my money. If this is evil, make the most of it. If this is what the public finds harmful to its interests, let the public destroy me. This is my code—and I will accept no other.
I could say to you that I have done more good for my fellow man than you can ever hope to accomplish—but I won't say it, because I do not seek the good of others as a sanction for my right to exist, nor do I recognize the good of others as a justification for [my] destruction....I could say to you that you do not serve the public good—that nobody's good can be achieved at the price of human sacrifices—that when you violate the rights of one man, you have violated the rights of all, and a public of rightless creatures is doomed to destruction....I could say it, but I won't. It is not your particular policy I challenge, but your moral premise. If it were true that men could achieve their good by means of turning some men into sacrificial animals, and I were asked to immolate myself for the sake of creatures who wanted to survive at the price of my blood, if I were asked to serve the interests of society apart from, above, and against my own—I would refuse...I would fight the whole of mankind, if one minute were all I could last before I were murdered, I would fight in the full confidence of the justice of my battle and of a living being's right to exist. [In short], if it is now the belief of my fellow men, who call themselves the public, that their good requires victims, then I say: the public good be damned; I will have no part of it!
His speech drew a standing ovation, and in the end the court dared do no more than levy a fine and then suspend that fine. That fine was never collected.
The copper loss
Henry Rearden did prepare to produce another order of Rearden Metal for Dagny Taggart. To do this, he arranged to have a shipment of copper from a source that he thought would not betray him. That source was D'Anconia Copper. Henry told Francisco of the deal he had made, and Francisco dumbfounded him by acting horrified, exclaiming that he had warned Henry not to deal with D'Anconia Copper, and physically restraining himself from lifting the telephone in his hotel room. Francisco then begged Henry to remember one thing:
|“||I swear to you, by the woman I love, that I am your friend.||”|
The next day Henry Rearden understood the reason for Francisco's attitude, though that reason raised still another question. The shipment of copper, intended for Rearden Steel, never reached Henry's steel mill. The copper fleet was attacked by the notorious pirate, Ragnar Danneskjöld, and sunk to the bottom of the Caribbean Sea, to the last ship (though with all hands evacuated to lifeboats before the ships sank). How Francisco himself could have had anything to do with that, Henry would not learn until later—but at the time, he blamed Francisco for the loss without knowing whether he had good reason.
Closure of the John Galt Line
On March 31, 2019, Henry and Dagny rode on the last train out of Marshville, CO. It was a sad occasion. Six weeks before, the Board of Directors of Taggart Transcontinental had finally voted to close the John Galt Line.
After Henry and Dagny returned, Lillian confronted him with direct evidence that Dagny Taggart was in fact his mistress. Lillian had always known that Henry had a mistress, but had been content to let him live the "double life" with them both. But now that she knew that it was Dagny, she demanded that Henry give Dagny up. Henry refused.
The government was not finished with Henry Rearden. The next atrocious measure to come from the Bureau of Economic Planning and Natural Resources was Directive 10-289. The principal part of that Directive was to attach everyone to their jobs, and to require every business to sell the same amount of goods year after year, no more, and no less. But the part most relevant to Rearden was that anyone who had invented anything spectacular would be asked to make a "voluntary" contribution of that invention to an "intellectual common"—i.e., place it in the public domain. (This is not quite the same thing as the "open source" movement in software design, because that is a genuinely voluntary program in which no government is involved—yet.)
On May 1, 2019, the day that the Directive was published, Dagny called Henry and told him that she was quitting. She then gave Henry instructions to contact her special assistant, Eddie Willers, for directions to a place where he could meet her, and the two could then disappear together. Henry knew that a Washington representative had made an appointment with him to discuss his signing away his rights to Rearden Metal, as provided for in Point Three of the Directive. Henry's plan was to deliver his refusal personally to the Washington man and then join Dagny.
Tony, the "Wet Nurse," frankly took alarm at the Directive. He urged Rearden not to sign any Gift Certificate, but could not state even to Rearden his grounds for his protest. His philosophy did not allow it. All Tony had was a deeply disquieting sensation that something was very wrong with the way the government was now operating.
The Washington man who came to see Rearden, on May 15, 2019, was Floyd Ferris. Ferris presented him with copies of hotel registers and other evidence of the driving trip that Henry and Dagny had made to Wisconsin two years before. He realized that someone had betrayed his affair to the governing authorities, and he knew exactly who had done the deed: it was his own wife. Floyd Ferris even boasted of that fact.
Henry signed the release. That evening he went to see a divorce attorney, gave him a signed blank check, and told him to initiate divorce proceedings as soon as possible, and in such a way as not to pay Lillian any alimony. But he did not join Dagny at her mountain retreat. He had intended to "train" himself to live "without any awareness of people" before doing so. But one night he would meet a man who would cause him to put that plan on hold.
On or about May 16, he heard a rumor that Orren Boyle's Associated Steel company had tried to make their own heat of Rearden Metal in one of their factories on the coast of Maine. A disembodied voice claiming to be that of Ragnar Danneskjöld gave Boyle's men ten minutes' warning to evacuate. Then a barrage of shellfire leveled the plant to the ground. Henry at first thought no more about it.
Then one night, as he was walking to his new home, a tall man appeared suddenly out of the shadows and asked to speak to him. He said that he was returning a small portion of what he called "the money that was taken from you [Henry] by force." He handed Henry a gold bar and asked him either to save the gold for the future, or spend it strictly on his own comfort and pleasure, so that the gold would not benefit anyone but him. He explained that what prompted him to give him the gold was the action of the government in forcing Henry to sign away his invention. And then he identified himself: he was none other than Ragnar Danneskjöld.
Henry was shocked, of course. To him, Ragnar Danneskjöld was a pirate, no better than, say, the infamous Jean Lafitte. Danneskjöld explained to him that he was after what he called "loot carriers," which were ships carrying "humanitarian" cargoes commissioned (or as Danneskjöld saw it, bought with stolen money) by the Bureau of Global Relief. Danneskjöld would sell these cargoes to smugglers, demand payment in gold, and deposit this gold in a bank that he identified as the Mulligan Bank. This puzzled Henry, because Henry knew that the Mulligan Bank of Chicago had been liquidated about eight years ago after the owner, Michael "Midas" Mulligan, had lost a lawsuit and been ordered to make a loan that he had earlier refused to make.
In summary, the gold that Henry now held in his hand, was part of the proceeds of Ragnar Danneskjöld's privateering activities. At first, Henry was inclined to refuse it. He said that if the time had now come that he could only be defended by a pirate, then he did not wish to be defended any longer.
But when a highway-patrol cruiser pulled up to the two men, and the patrolmen asked Henry whether he was in any difficulty, Henry said that he wasn't, and identified Danneskjöld as his bodyguard. But more to the point, Henry found out later that he had, instinctively and even unwittingly, placed his hand on the gun he carried in his shoulder holster, and had been quite prepared to draw it and use it on the patrolmen, had they attempted to arrest Danneskjöld.
Danneskjöld thanked Henry profusely and said that the two would meet again, and that sooner than the privateer had hoped. Then he vanished into the shadows. Henry picked up the gold bar, that he had dropped to the ground, and walked on.
The confrontation with Francisco
On May 28, Dagny called Henry and said, simply, "Hank, I'm back." Henry knew why Dagny would be calling: a catastrophic train wreck involving the Taggart Comet (Taggart Transcontinental's signature coast-to-coast express train) and an Army freight special had collapsed the eight-mile Taggart Tunnel, and Dagny would have to lay rail along an overland route to reconnect the two ends of the transcontinental line. Henry quietly said that he needed to start bribing various drivers and other persons so that he could start pouring rail for her. This rail did not even have to be Rearden Metal.
Not long after the order was placed, Henry and Francisco d'Anconia had another of their meetings, in Dagny's presence. Henry was furious with Francisco, from the affair of the copper loss, and told Francisco that he was having none of his oaths of friendship in the name of the woman he loved.
And then it struck him: Dagny had been that woman. Dagny and Francisco had known one another since their adolescence; that much was common knowledge. Now Henry asked Francisco directly whether Dagny had been his love interest. Francisco confirmed it, and Henry, in a jealous rage, hauled off and slapped Francisco backhanded across the face. For the second time Francisco physically restrained himself, this time from striking Henry back. Francisco left the room, and Dagny finally confessed to Henry the secret that she had always hidden from him.
Dagny's second disappearance
Dagny did not wait for any bypass line. (Rearden would later lose that order anyway, after James Taggart and his cronies canceled it.) Dagny started on a trip west, on a temporary route, to stop Quentin Daniels, a young engineer whom she had hired to try to reconstruct the electrostatic motor, from quitting and vanishing. She never arrived. The Comet turned into a "frozen train," but Dagny had gone on alone.
Then a former employee of Taggart Transcontinental, named Owen Kellogg, called him with dire news: Dagny had found a small airfield and rented a new-model aircraft. She had last been seen flying into the Rocky Mountains, and had never come out.
Henry headed west himself in his own plane, and searched for her, without success. This was probably the worst emotional crisis that he ever faced.
Henry might, or might not, have noticed that two of the craggy, rock-strewn valleys that he searched, five miles apart, in fact looked exactly alike. He might have noticed, as he searched the second valley, that it seemed to recede from him as he tried to descend. At the last instant, he pulled up and out, after seeing no obvious sign of Dagny's plane. He would not learn until much later how close he had come to crashing, and for a reason that he would never have suspected.
Return and explanation
Henry was at a hotel in Nebraska, preparing to go out on another search run, when he picked up the telephone—and heard Dagny's voice on the other end. She had to call "Hello" to him twice before he could bring himself to answer. Dagny did not at first reveal where she had been for the month during which she had gone.
The explanation would come later, when Dagny was asked to appear on a radio program to extol the "virtuous" deed that Henry had done by signing away his invention. Henry listened to the broadcast in Dagny's apartment, to which he held a key. As he listened, Dagny described their affair in detail, thus taking on herself all the potential embarrassment that he had wanted to spare her by signing that document to begin with. And then, when Bertram Scudder asked her about the relevancy of the affair, she declared that Henry had acted under threat of blackmail. The broadcast was abruptly cut off at that point, but Henry had heard enough.
He was proud of her for not only admitting but boasting of the affair, but also felt a bittersweet disappointment at her choice of the pluperfect tense, instead of the perfect tense, to describe her status as his mistress. To him that could mean only one thing: that she had now fallen in love with another man, perhaps a man whom she had met during her month-long disappearance.
Henry had only to wait for Dagny to come home. Then he told her how proud he was of her, and that he understood that she now loved another man. She took a moment to accept that, and then Henry asked her who her lover was.
Somehow he knew that that lover was not Francisco d'Anconia. But he was still not quite prepared when Dagny answered his question with a question: "Who is John Galt?" Henry took a moment to digest that response, and then, with a shock, realized that John Galt was a real person after all—and furthermore, that John Galt was in charge of a community of like-minded individuals. That was the only explanation that made sense, because Dagny had returned, not in a half-starved "survivor's" condition, but in the very good condition that one might expect of one who had been staying at someone's house for a month.
Then Dagny asked another question that explained even more: "Hank, could you give up Rearden Steel?" With feelings of great pain, he realized that he could not—or at least, not yet. He also realized that until he was willing, he would not be eligible to enter that community that Dagny had visited. He also knew that Dagny had given up her right to live in that community, because she could not give up the Taggart Transcontinental Railroad.
"Brother, you asked for it!"
On September 2, 2019, Francisco d'Anconia was in the news again, in an electrifying manner. The People's State of Chile had prepared a bill of nationalization for the whole of the D'Anconia Copper Company. But on the very day that the parliament was to convene, and indeed in perfect synchrony with the speaker's gavel, all of Francisco d'Anconia's remaining properties were blown up. Francisco d'Anconia himself had now vanished without a trace.
Henry knew that the loss of the last reliable source of copper would now force him to obtain it by unlawful means in order to make Rearden Metal. (He was now running at capacity, after the Washington men told him that all the old restrictions on his output were of no moment.) But he still felt good about what Francisco d'Anconia had done. He and Dagny discussed this over dinner in the Wayne-Falkland Hotel, where Francisco had been accustomed to stay. On that occasion, Henry told Dagny that he had once met Ragnar Danneskjold. Dagny said that Danneskjold had told her about that meeting. Henry then observed, "Well. I have met one of their agents." Dagny then said that he had met two of them. That could only mean that the other agent was Francisco d'Anconia.
At midnight, the city's giant scrolling calendar changed. But instead of displaying the date of September 3, it displayed a handwritten sentence:
|“||Brother, you asked for it!||”|
It was signed with all of Francisco's names in full.
The job applications
On September 7, 2019, Rearden took a call from a Washington man (probably Tinky Holloway), telling him that Washington had granted him a certificate of "essential need" for the delivery of oil-based fuels. The only reason the Washington man gave for calling was that the State of California had slapped a surtax of fifty percent on all businesses, and all the California oil companies had folded on the strength of that.
That evening, Henry caught his brother Philip lurking in the mills. Philip startled Henry by applying to him for a job. Henry couldn't begin to understand why his brother, who knew nothing about the steel business, would want a job in Henry's mills. Philip acted as though he were in a position to demand a job from Henry. Naturally Henry refused. Nor was Henry impressed when Philip made a political threat against him.
Henry did not make a connection between the two events. But he worried, all the same, about why Washington had felt the need to placate him after the California oil disaster.
The next day, Henry Rearden's divorce trial took place. Lillian was not present; why the court chose to conduct those proceedings in the absence of the defendant, Henry did not understand. He and his attorney guessed that the government was deliberately "greasing the skids" for his divorce, to make him complacent. They decided that the government planned to spring something on him—what, neither man could guess.
Henry returned to the mills—where "Non-Absolute" told Henry that he wanted to quit his government job and work for Henry directly. Henry almost accepted that offer. But he and the young man realized that the law, or rather Directive 10-289, would not allow it. They also agreed that certain things were happening at the plant that would make the young man much more valuable to Henry in his present position.
On October 20, 2019, the steelworkers' union local of Rearden Steel demanded a raise in wages. But Henry found it out only from the newspapers. The union did not bother to go to Rearden; they made their demand to the Unification Board.
On October 23, 2019, Henry heard that the Board had rejected the raise. Two days later a campaign of vilification of Rearden began in all the news organs. Editorialists kept harping on a "fear" of "an outbreak of violence." On October 28, and again on October 30, random acts of vandalism did occur in the mill.
On October 31, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service placed a lien on all of Henry's accounts, for the settlement of a tax debt that Henry knew that he did not actually owe. On November 1, Tinky Holloway called Rearden. He apologized profusely for the tax-lien mixup, and then said that Henry could "straighten it all out" by coming to meet Holloway and several other Washington men at the Wayne-Falkland Hotel in New York, on the evening of November 4. Henry agreed to the appointment, mostly out of morbid curiosity.
On the morning of November 4, Henry received a summons to his old family home. (He had moved out after Floyd Ferris had collected his signature on the patent release.) There, his mother, his now ex-wife, and brother were begging him to give his personal guarantee to pay their grocery bill. Henry asked them whether they would have him defraud the grocer into thinking that he actually owned the millions of dollars attributed to him, given that all his assets were under a tax lien.
Then Philip reminded him that he would not be able to vanish without money, and now he realized why his assets were frozen: the government was afraid that he would quit and vanish. Henry first accused his mother of being part of that plot, but then Philip let slip, "Mother didn't know it!" Henry contemptuously told Philip that he would not reveal to the looters' cabal who had blown the gaffe.
That was when Lillian Rearden blurted out to him that she herself had had an affair with another man, and that man was James Taggart, whom she herself described as "the scummiest louse." Henry received that statement with complete indifference, and Lillian was devastated to see close-up that Henry literally did not care what she did with her life, and that it did not concern him any longer.
As he turned to leave his house for what would turn out to be the last time, his mother asked him whether he was "really incapable of forgiveness." He said,
|“||No, mother, I am not. I would have forgiven the past, if today you had advised me to quit and disappear.||”|
He left his home and went to the meeting. (In fact, it took place in Francisco d'Anconia's old hotel suite at the Wayne-Falkland.) There he met Tinky Holloway, James Taggart, Floyd Ferris, Wesley Mouch, and Gene Lawson. They spoke to him in several strange terms, and even spoke of protecting him from violence, but never explained what the violence might come from. Then they told him their true purpose: to implement the Steel Unification Plan, under which all of the steel firms in the country would share their revenues and be paid according to the blast furnaces they owned, regardless of productivity.
Henry pressed them on the details of the plan, and reminded them that such a plan would never be tenable for him. He also gave them another observation:
|“||All those...People's States only exist from the handouts that you men manage to give them. This country was the greatest and the last. You've drained it.||”|
He then asked them bluntly what could possibly save them, and then James Taggart revealed the secret. He said,
|“||Oh, you'll do something!||”|
That said it all. Henry now saw that by carrying on under the burden of all those government regulations, he had been facilitating their continued acquisition of power. His capacity and willingness to "do something" essentially allowed them to get away with things that would have brought them to destruction long ago, absent his efforts.
He left that meeting without a word. Only later did he learn why the other men at that meeting tried to stop him at the last minute and tell him not to go back to his mills—that is, not yet.
He found out that reason as soon as he arrived back at his mills, at about ten o'clock that night. (Three hours is barely enough time to drive from New York City to Philadelphia—or more likely, to a location between Philadelphia and Allentown.) A full-scale battle was in progress, with men whom he recognized as his regular employees fighting it out with several new men whom Tony ("Non-Absolute") had told him had applied for jobs over the past several weeks, men whom Tony regarded as "goons." As he drove in along the winding road, he passed a heap of slag, and noticed a man trying to climb the embankment to the road. Henry stopped and climbed down to help the man, and realized, to his horror, that it was none other than Tony!
The young man, whom Henry now called by his real first name, had been shot in the back and dumped onto the slag heap. He said that the riot was staged, and told Henry how it had been done: on that day, when Henry was away, some plain-clothes men had ordered the young man to sign several passes for several more men who did not look like workers at all. The young man had refused, and the operatives had shot him and dumped him on the slag heap to get rid of him.
Shortly after telling him that story, Tony died. Henry took his lifeless body to the plant infirmary and left him there. He then tried to make sense of what was happening, and noticed a man standing on a ledge, using a smokestack for cover, and fending off several attackers with two pistols. Then several rioters noticed Henry and attacked him with clubs. He barely perceived the gunman coming to his rescue and firing at the rioters before he blacked out.
Henry goes on strike
When he came to himself, he was lying on a couch in his office. The chief physician had treated him for the blow he had gotten to his head. Henry had suffered a mild concussion, and the doctor advised rest.
The mills superintendent assured Henry that the rioters were beaten and on the run, and told his side of how the riots had started. It was much as Henry could have expected from Tony's account. But the superintendent provided a further detail: that their new furnace foreman, one Frank Adams, who had started working for Rearden Steel back in September, had organized the defense of the plant and had been the man who rescued Rearden from the violent rioters.
Henry asked to be left alone in his office. He now had many things to think about, including his family, the Washington officials with their "unification" plans, and now the riot. He was now ready to give up his steel company, because the very meaning of his mills had ceased to exist.
At that moment, a man knocked on his door. Henry told him to enter. The door opened, and Henry saw a man whom he recognized as the new furnace foreman. That man was in fact Francisco d'Anconia.
Henry thanked Francisco for rescuing him, and then they began to talk. Francisco asked Henry to say to Francisco a word that would indicate how good a friend Henry regarded him. Henry said,
|“||What word, Francisco?||”|
And Francisco answered,
|“||Thank you, Hank.||”|
The two men talked for about an hour, during which Francisco told Henry the details of the great strike, and the man who led it.
One can infer the details of Henry Rearden's leavetaking only from later accounts. With the aid of another of his recent hires—actually one of Francisco d'Anconia's men—Henry went back to his apartment, packed a valise, and cleaned out his safe. The only thing of real value that he had was, of course, the gold bar that Ragnar Danneskjöld had handed him. Francisco probably assured him that that was all that he would need, but in any event Ragnar Danneskjöld had already told him that he had an account in Midas Mulligan's bank, located in the secret community that Dagny had visited, and that this account held an amount of money equal to his income tax payments for the previous twelve years.
Henry was, of course, in no shape to drive. Francisco knew that. So Francisco's assistant drove Rearden in his automobile to the Reading Airport, where he kept his aircraft. John Galt himself greeted him there and announced that he would be Rearden's pilot for a long night flight. When Henry met Galt for the first time, he had two words to say:
To which John Galt replied,
|“||If you understand that I acted for my own sake, then you know that no gratitude is required.||”|
To which Henry answered,
|“||That is why I thank you.||”|
Arrival in Atlantis
Galt had Henry's aircraft fueled and ready to fly. The two men took off, with Galt at the control yoke, and headed west-southwest. On the way, Galt advised Rearden that he, Galt, ran his own research program in abstract physics, and regularly delivered lectures during his infrequent visits to the secret community where they were headed. Galt then said that he would offer his lectures to the community upon their landing, and offered to let Rearden enroll. At ten dollars (in gold, meaning half an ounce) per student, Rearden found the tuition dirt cheap. Naturally he accepted.
Rearden was no doubt surprised, but only for a moment, to find Galt flying toward the very mountains where Dagny had disappeared last summer. Galt then headed for that same weird valley, the one that receded as the plane got close. And then Rearden saw something that staggered his imagination: after Galt made a brief radio call, the craggy valley disappeared, revealing the lights of a thriving village and what were obvious landing lights of a single runway. So instead of a crash landing, Galt piloted them to a very safe landing. No doubt Rearden observed that if this was an example of what John Galt's physics could do, he would gladly have paid a hundred dollars to take his lecture course.
Rearden no doubt asked the obvious question, "What is this place?" (He might or might not have remembered the old tourist-trap town of Ouray, Colorado, that had gone bust for the second time in its history early in the twenty-first century.) To which Galt probably replied, "That depends on whom you ask. I call it Mulligan's Valley. Most of the residents here call it Galt's Gulch. A mutual acquaintance of ours, who is still in the outer world, calls it Atlantis—I think Francisco suggested that name without knowing it. But the important thing is that you may now call it home."
Rearden spent his first night in a room in Galt's small cabin in the valley, a room that Galt, with no trace of irony, called "the torture chamber," or "the anteroom." Cryptic messages and signatures covered its walls. Rearden recognized nearly all of them: Ellis Wyatt, Ken Danagger, Lawrence Hammond, and many others. When Rearden woke up next morning, he likely planned to leave no message of his own—but would have wanted to leave one anyway. Its likely content: "Free at last."
The first person to visit him was Dr. Thomas Hendrix, a famous neurosurgeon who had quit the outer world many years ago, when the country had embraced socialized medicine. Hendrix likely gave him some fast-acting drugs of his own invention that would help him recover much faster from his injuries. When the time came to settle his bill, Henry gave the doctor a "marker" on the gold bar that he carried. (Later he used it to buy a hefty supply of gold and silver coin from the Mulligan Mint.) Henry knew, of course, that he already had a very large bank account to draw on; all he would need to do was see Midas Mulligan to discuss opening it.
Henry wouldn't get his car back until a day or so later. (The record for driving cross-country is just under forty-five hours of continuous driving.) But Francisco landed in mid-day, carrying at least five passengers: the mills superintendent, the chief metallurgist, the chief engineer, Henry's long-serving secretary, and the chief physician of the former Rearden Steel. Many other former Rearden Steel employees would arrive later, driving in through the one-and-only camouflaged road into the valley.
John Galt allowed Henry to write a very brief note to Dagny Taggart, a letter that Midas Mulligan's men would mail from a post office on the outside:
|“||I have met him. I don't blame you.||”|
That night, John Galt took Henry Rearden to dinner at Midas Mulligan's manor house. There Mulligan greeted him:
|“||Gentlemen, I give you Rearden Steel!||”|
The men of Atlantis received him enthusiastically. This was true even of one Andrew Stockton, a foundry owner who realized that Henry Rearden must inevitably put him out of business.
Henry spent half that evening taking orders for Rearden Metal from Ellis Wyatt, Stockton, Lawrence Hammond, and many others. He planned to settle his employees (those who had followed him) in the valley, a process that involved building individual houses for them all. (Galt's Gulch did not have a dedicated homebuilder, but the Rearden workforce could probably build houses for themselves readily enough.) Then he plunged into an effort to rebuild Rearden Steel, knowing that his old plant was now shut down and would soon be in no condition to operate, with government men to try to run it. His estimate of Galt's physics proved correct; the John Galt lecture course proved to be the best practical education he had ever had.
Rearden had his own house built within a week. The first person to call on him, for a highly informal "housewarming," was Ragnar Danneskjöld. He arrived on or about November 12, with his last cargo of gold. He reminded Rearden of the last time they had met. Ragnar was furious to learn that Rearden had suffered an injury on the night of his evacuation. Rearden sardonically reminded Ragnar of the risks that Ragnar himself had taken on his and many other men's behalf for twelve years.
But Ragnar also brought a piece of intelligence that would be of immense consequence to the valley residents: Mr. Thompson was planning to make a speech to the country on "the world crisis" on November 22, 2019.
The decline and shutdown of Rearden Steel
Immediately after Rearden's disappearance, the Unification Board nationalized Rearden Steel as the property of a "deserter." Orren Boyle was in no condition to take it over, however. Without Henry Rearden, the Steel Unification Plan was an utter failure. Boyle suffered a nervous breakdown, and a physician set him to weaving baskets.
A member of Boyle's faction became the first People's Manager of Rearden Steel. A month later, with orders unfulfilled and the gradually worsening failure of discipline at the plant, that manager begged for a transfer.
The next manager came from the Cuffy Meigs faction. He demanded discipline at the point of a gun. And then, weeks later, he vanished to an undisclosed location. The government auditors found that he had sold most of the cranes, the conveyors, the supplies of refractory brick, the emergency generator, and the carpet from Rearden's old office to various racketeers in Europe and Latin America.
After that, discipline broke down completely. Older workers and newer workers would fight one another over trivial causes. And then, on the night of January 22, 2020 some worker, whose name is unrecorded, set fire to a building and declared that he did it "to avenge Hank Rearden."
The rebirth of Rearden Steel
Rearden almost certainly heard about the decline of his old mills, according to John Galt's strict code:
|“||No one stays in this valley by faking reality in any manner whatever.||”|
But he didn't let it bother him. By then, he had far more important things to do. Steel was probably the most important commodity that Midas Mulligan had had to import from the outside, through his secret sources. Thanks to valuable insights he gained from the Galt Lectures, Rearden was in production within a month of his arrival in the Gulch. Now Rearden took the steel market away from Mulligan, probably to Mulligan's immense relief, by supplying Rearden Metal. The raw materials for that were readily available, given the richness of resources of the surrounding mountains.
D'Anconia Copper Number One was, of course, the key supplier of copper. Rearden, being an impatient man, would have organized his and Francisco's workforces into a joint force to build a truck road from the valley to the copper mine. Both men knew that Francisco needed to transport his copper ore by rail, not on muleback or even by truck. But they would have to wait until Dagny Taggart finally made up her mind to quit and join them in the valley, for only she knew how to build a railroad along the ledges of the truck route at a non-prohibitive cost.
As to research, Rearden had planned to re-create his old laboratory. Instead he built a much larger laboratory that he intended to operate jointly with John Galt, each man pursuing his own line of scientific or engineering investigation.
Rescue of John Galt
John Galt, as promised, opened a special edition of his lecture course, that all the most productive men in Galt's Gulch knew and loved. Those lectures, held every other evening in the hangar of Dwight Sanders' airfield, were among the highlights of Rearden's stay. Rearden never asked himself whom he liked better: the teacher or his fellow students.
On November 15, Galt accelerated the course to an every-evening schedule with longer hours, and that he would "graduate" everyone on November 21. He gave no explanation for the rushed schedule, but Rearden guessed: Galt had been preoccupied ever since Ragnar had brought the intelligence about Mr. Thompson's planned speech.
Came November 22, and Mr. Thompson did not make any speech. John Galt did. For three hours, on voice only, Galt explained the strike and the philosophy behind it.
The next day, Galt left the valley for New York City. Francisco d'Anconia and Ragnar Danneskjöld tried to talk him out of it, but to no avail. Rearden knew better than to try. He knew why Galt was going back to the outer world: Dagny.
Months passed with no news, except for the steady gazette of news about the decline of Rearden Steel, and the fire that closed it for good on January 22. Then, on February 22, John Galt was arrested. Somehow Dagny had been involved. Henry was probably not inclined to believe that Dagny would deliberately betray John Galt to the authorities. Surely she was acting at Galt's own suggestion, so that she would not come to harm. (Henry would probably hear the truth of the matter from Galt himself later on.)
The news of Galt's arrest electrified, astounded, and angered every man in the valley. By now, Ragnar Danneskjöld had hidden his old pirate vessel and had mustered out his crew to build their own homes in the valley. Now, Danneskjöld organized a militia to attempt to rescue Galt. The valley had planes enough to transport half the men, and so Danneskjöld took off for New York City with a sizeable air force, and half the male population of the valley as commandoes. Hank Rearden served as Danneskjöld's aide, while Francisco served as his "G-2," or chief of intelligence.
On Danneskjöld's orders, the militia thoroughly invested Manhattan Island and took up stations and billets surrounding the Wayne-Falkland Hotel. Everyone knew that the authorities were holding John Galt there. But they did not storm the hotel, for fear that the authorities would kill Galt before they could get close.
When the authorities announced the drafting of "The John Galt Plan for Peace and Prosperity," Francisco guessed that the time would soon come for them to make their move. He had reached Dagny and instructed her to watch the men now holding Galt and to call Francisco at once if anything threatened him.
Sure enough, the authorities planned a television special to announce their plan. But in the middle of that show, John Galt moved deftly enough to demonstrate that someone was pointing a gun at him, and said,
|“||Get...out of my way.||”|
Very shortly thereafter, Francisco got the call he was waiting for. Dagny told them that the authorities would now transport Galt to the campus of the State Science Institute in New Hampshire (probably on the present grounds of the United States Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, near the town of Lyme) and there put him to some kind of torture. The air militia had to scramble to get their planes in the air, from hidden landing areas, which is why they would not reach the Institute for hours. Dagny then gave them this shocking piece of news: the famous Taggart Bridge at Bedford, Illinois, the only railroad bridge that crossed the Mississippi River, had been cut in half by a malfunction at the mysterious Project X. Only then would Henry have learned the nature of the secret project that he once refused to support.
That news caused a panic throughout the city of New York, in which residents fled the city with all their belongings lashed to their automobile roofs. In the middle of this panic, Francisco picked Dagny up, and she, Francisco, Rearden, and Danneskjold got away in Francisco's aircraft.
The council of war that the Galt's Gulch Committee of Safety (now consisting of Dagny Taggart, Francisco d'Anconia, Ragnar Danneskjöld, and Henry Rearden) now held was tense. An assault on the State Science Institute would be easier, but not by much, than an assault on the Wayne-Falkland would have been. In the end, the Committee decided to go in as a four-person spearhead and attempt the rescue alone. Danneskjold ordered his infantry to stay behind in reserve. He placed Ellis Wyatt in command, with orders to post guards throughout the trees that surrounded the Institute campus, and to storm the building that housed "Project F" if the four did not make it out. Then the four went in to attempt the rescue.
Rearden tackled the guard at the southwest corner of Project F with ridiculous ease. Then he heard a single puffing sound, which was a silenced gunshot: Dagny Taggart had killed the guard at the door. Rearden didn't ask why; he simply walked to the door at her signal.
Francisco entered Project F, and did not have to fire a shot in anger. Very soon he had two guards in his sights, so the four quickly bound them and left them in a corner.
Now Rearden walked up the stairwell to the middle door to the largest of the laboratories on the top floor. He knew he was taking his life in his hands by confronting nine armed guards. But the specimens he and the others had dealt with were not made of very stern stuff, so he was confident that he could handle them, with his three friends to help him. And so he entered the laboratory and bluffed the guards with a tale that John Galt had "made a deal" to "bring us all back." But the guards called his bluff, and the chief of the guards shot him in the arm. Fortunately, the wound was not serious—and then Francisco burst in at the door to his left, to shoot the chief in the arm. Another guard dropped his weapon and tried to flee out the third door, only to run into Dagny. The angry chief had the bad sense to seize a gun with his left hand and fire another round—whereupon Ragnar Danneskjöld literally crashed through the window and shot dead the first guard at whom he could take aim. Ragnar's name was sufficient; one of the chief's own men shot the chief dead, and the others surrendered.
In all, five guards met their deaths. Then the four rescuers raced down a flight of stairs leading to the cellar, where the real "business" of Project F took place: the torture. They discovered Galt in that room, bound to a mattress and helpless, but none the worse for wear. They released him from the electroshock device and hustled him out as fast as they could move (though Danneskjöld took time to destroy the torture apparatus). They took off and headed back to the valley for the last time. Shortly after take-off, Galt and Rearden repeated, faithfully in reverse, the "thank-you" dialogue they had engaged in the year before.
As the aircraft carrying Henry, Dagny, Francisco, and John Galt, with Ragnar Danneskjöld in the cockpit, overflew the New York region, the entire Eastern Seaboard was blacked out. Power had failed, and Henry and the others realized that the society of the "looters" had finally collapsed.
Now Henry could concentrate on building the New Rearden Steel. Almost at once he received an order of rail made of Rearden Metal, and a further order of Rearden Metal to build a frame for the first electrostatic locomotive designed and built by John Galt. And so Francisco d'Anconia would now be able to ship his copper ore to the valley floor on a narrow-gauge railroad that became the New Taggart Transcontinental.
Springtime comes late to the Uncompahgre River valley where Galt's Gulch is located. Upon its arrival, John Galt announced that the strike was effectively settled, because the outside society was no longer effective. Henry Rearden now made plans to re-establish Rearden Steel on the outside and to supply rail for the first railroad between New York City and Philadelphia.
Spoilers end here.
Henry Rearden is, as mentioned, one of the two heroes of the novel. (The other is Dagny Taggart.) Like any good hero, he must realize what sort of mistakes he had made that have kept him in a kind of bondage. Also according to convention, he does not succeed without cost: he must give up the business that he had built up over a lifetime, in order to have the freedom to build a new business in a society that would respect his ability and not steal from him.
But he is also, quite clearly, an allegory of any businessman who, having decided to "go along to get along," continues to support his own would-be destroyers in the vain hope that the trouble will stop. The most important thing that Henry Rearden realizes, and the thing that all businessman might soon have to realize, is that as long as he is able and willing to "do something," the trouble will never stop—and on the day that he decides not to "do something" any longer, the trouble will stop because the system that causes that trouble must inevitably collapse under the weight of its own illogical laws.
On June 18, 2009, Mr. Glenn Beck mentioned the name of Rearden Steel in a segment describing the many businesses that have "gone along to get along" with the policies of the Obama Administration, policies that Mr. Beck considers disastrous. Though Mr. Beck failed to elucidate the reference fully, he can only have been talking about the character named Henry Rearden and the business that bears his name. Mr. Beck wants to see a real-life businessman stand up to the pressure from the current government in Washington, just as Henry Rearden does in the novel.