An eerie resonance

“Universal suffrage can only mean in plain English the government of ignorance and vice — it means a European, and especially Celtic, proletariat on the Atlantic coast, an African proletariat on the shores of the Gulf [of Mexico], and a Chinese proletariat on the Pacific.” Boston’s Charles Francis Adams Jr., grandson of John Quincy Adams, in 1877. From Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics by Terry Golway

Work without dignity

“Here was wealth greater than ever known before — wealth gained not by men as producers but as masters of capital, middle men, investors and speculators; wealth that held the living of the many in its hands, but which had largely lost the sense of stewardship. And here was work that lacked dignity; wages fixed without bargaining; regulation and control in place of the old freedom.” The United States in the 1840s and 1850s; from Avery O. Craven’s Civil War in the Making, 1815-1860

Pumpkins on the front

“This morning the boys staked out a garden patch for the coming summer, but I fear the only thing we could raise would be some of the pumpkins, the vines of which grow so rapidly that they overtook the boy that planted them before he got out of the field, and by the time he jumped over the fence he found a full-grown pumpkin in his pocket.” — Washington Roebling, March 9th, 1862, near Budd’s Ferry, Maryland

Charles Dickens on the portage railway

“On Sunday we arrived at the foot of the mountain which is crossed by a railway. There are ten inclined planes, five ascending and five descending; the carriages are dragged up the former and let slowly down the latter by means of stationary engines; the comparatively level space between being traversed, sometimes by horses and sometimes by engine power as the case demands. Occasionally the rails are laid upon the extreme verge of a giddy precipice, and looking from the carriage window the traveller gazed sheer down without a stone or scrap of fence between, into the mountain depths below…” American Notes, 1842

Fortitude and heroism

“It was thus, from over the ocean and from the Eastern States and older counties of the State itself, that Butler county was first settled. Sturdy men with strong arms and stout hearts felled her forests. Brave women, faithful to every duty of wife and mother, endured the loneliness of the wilderness, and met the many perils and dangers of everyday life, with a fortitude and heroism deserving of immortal remembrance…” — From A History of Butler County, Pennsylvania, R. C. Brown & Co., 1895

Driving Forward

“Thus we see that once you embark in an enterprise, the exigencies of business constantly drive you forward. More capital is invested, one improvement and enlargement suggests and compels another — It never stops — My father often said he was tired and wanted to stop — but there were his sons to take up — so the grind went on — ” Washington Roebling, from A Memoir of John A. Roebling