Wednesday, January 15, 2020

"A Railroad to the Pacific." Nantucket, The Inquirer, 1849

The Inquirer, Nantucket, Massachusetts, May 30, 1849 [Newspaper]

A RAILROAD TO THE PACIFIC — the acquisition of California, the discovery of gold there in almost unprecedented abundance, the consequent rush of emigration to the valley of the Sacramento, and the certainty that within a very short time the American possessions on the Pacific will be the home of a large, active and thriving population, have drawn the attention of the people of the whole country, to the subject of a connection by railroad of the Atlantic States with the shores of the Pacific. It is felt and admitted, that if California and Oregon are to continue parts of the Union, it is not only desirable, but vitally important, that some generally practicable way of getting there should be provided, other than that round Cape Horn, or across the Isthmus through the territory of another government.

The construction of a road from some point or in the neighborhood of the Mississippi to the Pacific, would necessarily be a work of time. Before it could be located, extensive surveys would have to be made, to determine the most eligible route; and the progress of the work, both of surveying and building, through the heart of an entire wilderness, would necessarily be slow. The cost, too, would be very great. We have, to be sure, seen it estimated—from Lake Michigan to the Pacific—at only $60,000,000; but this can be little better then guess-work—the road might cost twice that sum. But let the time and money needed for the completion of the work be ever so great, the road has got to be built; and the sooner it has begun, the sooner it will be finished.

Mr. Benton, in a late letter to the committee of the citizens of St. Louis, speaking of "this American road to India," says—"Forward is the word! Let the thing be done, and done quickly!" "All is ready. The knowledge is acquired; the means are at hand; the spirit of the people is up. All that is lacking is the action of the government; and that, as always, needs stimulating. It is of the nature of our government that it should follow the lead, or wait the stimulus of the people. It is of the nature of our government that it should follow the lead, or wait the stimulus of the people. In this case the people have been leading long enough. They have literally led the government, and that through the wilderness to Oregon and California; it is time now that the government should give them a road to the empire which they have added to the republic. The central highway is the grand national object, and the first month of the next session of Congress is the time to try the question of its location and construction. So far as my efforts can go this question shall then be decided; but to enable me to work with hope and heart, I must have health and backing; I must be seconded by the movement and backed by the ‘Power of the people" "The massive of rock is not split nor the royal oak felled by one lick. Still less is Congress moved by one voice. To gain attention for the central highway there, the central continent must send forth its voice from all its recesses, from the borders of Missouri to the shores of the Atlantic."

Courtesy of Stephen A. Goldman Historical Newspapers.