Not Fond Of Railways

The following is a canal stockholder’s argument in opposition to railways. This is from the July 24, 1830, issue of Western Sun [Vincennes, Ind.], quoted in American Spirit, Volume 1: To 1877 by Thomas Andrew Bailey and David M. Kennedy (1998):

He [the canal stockholder] saw what would be the effect of it [the railway system]; that it would set the whole world a-gadding. Twenty miles an hour, sir! Why, you will not be able to keep an apprentice-boy at his work: every Saturday evening he must take a trip to Ohio, to spend the Sabbath with his sweetheart. Grave plodding citizens will be flying about like comets. All local attachments must be at an end. It will encourage flightiness of intellect. Veracious people will turn into the most immeasurable liars; all their conceptions will be exaggerated by their magnificent notions of distance. ‘Only a hundred miles off! Tut, nonsense, I’ll step across, madam, and bring your fan!’ ‘Pray, sir, will you dine with me to-day at my little box at Alleghany?’ ‘Why, indeed, I don’t know — I shall be in town until twelve. Well, I shall be there; but you must let me off in time for the theatre.’ And then, sir, there will be barrels of pork, and cargoes of flour, and chaldrons of coals, and even lead and whiskey, and such like sober things, that have always been used to sober travelling, whisking away like a set of skyrockets. It will upset all the gravity of the nation. If two gentlemen have an affair of honour, they have only to steal off to the Rocky Mountains, and there no jurisdiction can touch them. And then, sir, think of flying for debt! A set of bailiffs, mounted on bomb-shells, would not overtake an absconded debtor — only give him a fair start. Upon the whole, sir, it is a pestilential, topsy-turvy, harum-scarum whirligig. Give me the old, solemn, straightforward, regular Dutch canal — three miles an hour for expresses, and two for jog-and-trot journeys — with a yoke of oxen for a heavy load! I go for beasts of burthen: it is more primitive and scriptural, and suits a moral and religious people better. None of your hop-skip-and-jump whimsies for me.

About Edmark M. Law

My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. I blog at learnfunfacts.com. You can find me on Twitter @EdmarkMLaw and Facebook. My email is learnfunfacts@gmail.com
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15 Responses to Not Fond Of Railways

  1. ivors20 says:

    Enjoyed the olden days description of the Railways, so very quaint

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Garfield Hug says:

    Good share. Thanks😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. @vapor_sage says:

    My what a perspective, the eloquence of the writing and yet, how the resistance to progress seems similar to some folks today.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Very interesting and eloquent! Where did you find this?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. K E Garland says:

    lol – I wonder what this person would think about transportation progress and how it’s further advanced some people’s amoral behavior.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rebel Girl says:

    What a great post! Thanks for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

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