Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Fear of Change

January  31, 1829

President Jackson,

The canal system of this country is being threatened by the spread of a new form of transportation known as railroads. The federal government must preserve the canals for the following reasons.

One, if boats are supplanted by railroads, serious unemployment will result. Captains, cooks, drivers, hostlers, repairmen and lock tenders will be left without means of livelihood, not to mention the numerous farmers now employed in growing hay for horses.

Two, boat builders would suffer and towline, whip, and harness makers would be left destitute.

Three, canal boats are absolutely essential to the defense of the United States. In the event of the expected trouble with England, the Erie Canal would be the only means by which we could ever move the supplies so vital to waging modern war.

As you may well know, Mr. President, railroad carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by engines which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed.

Sincerely Yours,
Martin Van Buren
Governor of New York


john said...

Whoa!!! Amazing!!!! 15 mph a breakneck speed??? Now that's these days of supersonic jet and all...

It makes me wonder how many similar things we now do that, generations to come, will look at and say, "Were these people nuts or something."

XtianDoctrine said...

That's quite interesting. Just like another man got killed for saying the earth is round and not flat as popularly believed in those days.