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North America — Volume 2   By: (1815-1882)

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NORTH AMERICA

by ANTHONY TROLLOPE

VOLUME II.

CONTENTS OF VOL. II.

CHAPTER I.

Washington

CHAPTER II.

Congress

CHAPTER III.

The Causes of the War

CHAPTER IV.

Washington to St. Louis

CHAPTER V.

Missouri

CHAPTER VI.

Cairo and Camp Wood

CHAPTER VII.

The Army of the North

CHAPTER VIII.

Back to Boston

CHAPTER IX.

The Constitution of the United States

CHAPTER X.

The Government

CHAPTER XI.

The Law Courts and Lawyers of the United States

CHAPTER XII.

The Financial Position

CHAPTER XIII.

The Post office

CHAPTER XIV.

American Hotels

CHAPTER XV.

Literature

CHAPTER XVI.

Conclusion

NORTH AMERICA.

CHAPTER 1.

WASHINGTON.

The site of the present City of Washington was chosen with three special views: firstly, that being on the Potomac it might have the full advantage of water carriage and a sea port; secondly, that it might be so far removed from the sea board as to be safe from invasion; and, thirdly, that it might be central alike to all the States. It was presumed, when Washington was founded, that these three advantages would be secured by the selected position. As regards the first, the Potomac affords to the city but few of the advantages of a sea port. Ships can come up, but not ships of large burden. The river seems to have dwindled since the site was chosen, and at present it is, I think, evident that Washington can never be great in its shipping. Statio benefida carinis can never be its motto. As regards the second point, singularly enough Washington is the only city of the Union that has been in an enemy's possession since the United States became a nation. In the war of 1812 it fell into our hands, and we burned it. As regards the third point, Washington, from the lie of the land, can hardly have been said to be centrical at any time. Owing to the irregularities of the coast it is not easy of access by railways from different sides. Baltimore would have been far better. But as far as we can now see, and as well as we can now judge, Washington will soon be on the borders of the nation to which it belongs, instead of at its center. I fear, therefore, that we must acknowledge that the site chosen for his country's capital by George Washington has not been fortunate.

I have a strong idea, which I expressed before in speaking of the capital of the Canadas, that no man can ordain that on such a spot shall be built a great and thriving city. No man can so ordain even though he leave behind him, as was the case with Washington, a prestige sufficient to bind his successors to his wishes. The political leaders of the country have done what they could for Washington. The pride of the nation has endeavored to sustain the character of its chosen metropolis. There has been no rival, soliciting favor on the strength of other charms. The country has all been agreed on the point since the father of the country first commenced the work. Florence and Rome in Italy have each their pretensions; but in the States no other city has put itself forward for the honor of entertaining Congress. And yet Washington has been a failure. It is commerce that makes great cities, and commerce has refused to back the general's choice. New York and Philadelphia, without any political power, have become great among the cities of the earth. They are beaten by none except by London and Paris. But Washington is but a ragged, unfinished collection of unbuilt broad streets, as to the completion of which there can now, I imagine, be but little hope.

Of all places that I know it is the most ungainly and most unsatisfactory: I fear I must also say the most presumptuous in its pretensions. There is a map of Washington accurately laid down; and taking that map with him in his journeyings, a man may lose himself in the streets, not as one loses one's self in London, between Shoreditch and Russell Square, but as one does so in the deserts of the Holy Land, between Emmaus and Arimathea... Continue reading book >>


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