The Passing Train

On the Departure Platform

We kissed at the barrier; and passing through
She left me, and moment by moment got
Smaller and smaller, until to my view
She was but a spot;

A wee white spot of muslin fluff
That down the diminishing platform bore
Through hustling crowds of gentle and rough
To the carriage door.

Under the lamplight’s fitful glowers,
Behind dark groups from far and near,
Whose interests were apart from ours,
She would disappear,

Then show again, till I ceased to see
That flexible form, that nebulous white;
And she who was more than my life to me
Had vanished quite . . .

We have penned new plans since that fair fond day,
And in season she will appear again –
Perhaps in the same soft white array –
But never as then!

– “And why, young man, must eternally fly
A joy you’ll repeat, if you love her well?”
– O friend, nought happens twice thus; why,
I cannot tell!

Thomas Hardy

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Featured Image: The Passing Train by Marianne Stokes

“Courage mattered. Loyalty mattered. Honor mattered. Personal Pride mattered. Soldiers, and their culture, defined these as masculine values. The Gilded Age substituted gain for cause and friends for comrades.” Richard White

Charles being masculine.

Charles being masculine.

Charles Francis Adams, despite being considered an authority on the management of railroads couldn’t keep the Union Pacific stable as its president. One of the reasons, according to Richard White in Railroaded,  was the boys–the young men too young to have fought in the war seemed “weak, unruly, willful and hard to control.”

On July 9, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Colonel Adams for the award of the rank of brevet (honorary) brigadier general, United States Volunteers, “for distinguished gallantry and efficiency at the battles of Secessionville, South Carolina and South Mountain and Antietam, Maryland and for meritorious services during the war” to rank from March 13, 1865 and the U. S. Senate confirmed the award on July 23, 1866. [wiki]

When the mother of one of his young subordinates (at the railroad) wrote about the hardships of his life, Adams told her, ‘You will, I fear, have to talk in vain to men of my generation . . . [T]he hardships and dangers incurred by your son seem to me quite trifling in comparison with my own recollections of four years active service, summer and winter, in Virginia.”  Richard White, Railroaded.

Ouch. So here’s a few questions: Why do most cultures  still value the warrior? Why do most boys play soldier? Is it possible to reach true masculinity without a battle?

Elias C. Boudinot: “If the competition were not so stiff, Boudinot might be ranked among the great scoundrels of the Gilded Age.” Richard White

Trust him at your peril.

Trust him at your peril.

So you think all Native Americans were noble? Think again. Some liked Gilded Age corruption as much as the next guy. Richard White says he was dashing (in the Custer kind of way). I say smarmy, but that’s me.

Interesting factoids: Elias was a pro-slavery Democrat despite being raised by a New England mother.

He was the son of Elias Boudinot, editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, the first Native American newspaper. His father and some other relatives were assassinated in 1839 as retaliation for having ceded their Cherokee (Trail of Tears) homeland in the 1835 Treaty of New Echota. (Wiki)

He served in the Confederate Army as a lieutenant colonel under his uncle Stand Watie and then opened a tobacco company with him after the war only to have it confiscated for not paying taxes.

Okay, yeah, I do like the beard.

Okay, yeah, I do like the beard.

He was a bought man for the railroad builders who wanted their trains run through Indian Territory (they even sold bonds to European investors as if they already owned the Indian land). Elias used his Indian status to get ahead and to help powerful men get their way. He was hated by other Cherokee and worried he might be killed by one of them when with the help of railroad big bugs he erected a huge fence surrounding a portion of Indian territory for the railroads.

He supported disbanding tribes, breaking up Indian Territory and complete and total assimilation–he’s hated even today for his work making that happen in what is now Oklahoma. The bill of goods sent east was that the tribes lived like savages (or like Sioux), but they were indeed quite civilized farmers, shop keepers, teachers and editors. They even had a Female Seminary.

Dapper or despicable?

Dapper or despicable?

The Dawes Act happened and railroads did as they pleased with even reformers in the back pockets of the powerful and dear Elias was right there with them.

 

James J. Hill–Robber Barron . . . not! PS–I love you.

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Corot–Springtime of Life  Minneapolis Institute of Art

Isn’t it wonderful to find a good capitalist man of integrity? Personally, I’m THRILLED with James J. Hill railroad magnate of the 1880’s. When all of the other creeps were begging government subsidies,grabbing land grants (I didn’t realize how much I disliked Lincoln’s support of government internal improvement schemes!), and building (or not building) unprofitable, expensive trains to no where while making a fortune and bilking the public (think Jay Gould, Leland Stanford,Collis Huntington) “JJ” as I like to call him was doing it the right and true capitalist way and what a difference that made!

At 14 his father died and he dropped out of school to support his mother working for $4 a month at farming, fur trading and railroad industries. After saving money somehow, he began investing in his own enterprises, eventually buying a failed government subsidized railroad, turning it around to become the best run and safest railroad anywhere. he eventually extended the line to build his own transcontinental railroad cheaper, better and with no help from the public! Are you impressed yet?

His motto to the public was “We have got to prosper with you or we’ve got to be poor with you.”

He believed in prospering the people who voluntarily moved onto the land around his train lines, advocating crop diversification to prevent farmers from being victimized by price fluctuation.  He provided free seed grain and even cows to farmers who’d suffered under drought and depression, left wood at his depots for the farmers to stock up on and even donated land for parks, schools and churches. He transported immigrants for $10 if they promised to farm near his railroad, believing goodwill was the best thing for business. (Isn’t he a dream?)

“JJ” refused to involve himself in the railroad cartels of the day that price fixed and manipulated the public and prided himself on low rates and safe rides. Don’t you think he deserved the title of “Empire Builder”? Every bit of land he used he purchased from a willing seller. Compare this to the millions of acres Lincoln gave away to be squandered by politicians and corrupt businessmen. Oh, for more like James J. Hill!

What a bad name capitalism gets when really Jefferson was right to think governments should never have the power to subsidize or get involved in business. Free money(on the backs of the little guy) and politics don’t mix. Government programs are boondoggles then and now.

But “JJ” you outshone them all! To top it off he had ten kids with his one and only wife (a hugely romantic tale of love and devotion) and donated much of his wealth to the Catholic Church to fund charities (his wife was Catholic which I guess explains all those kids). His art collection is the foundation for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts–he had a great eye for the beautiful and sublime.

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JJ on the left. PS-I Love You