Characteristic and Foolish

The citizens of Carroll county, Kentucky, being dissatisfied with the manner in which the navigation of the Mississippi River is conducted, by the capitalists of “the big and little cities” of “the big and little states,” on the Atlantic coast, held a meeting at Ghent a few days ago for the purpose of setting the matter to rights.  Most people in this quarter of the world will probably imagine that they then and there determined to form a company for the purpose of building and running steamers in their own way, that large quantities of stock were subscribed for on the spot, and that measures were taken to secure incorporation, officers appointed, and a general plan of operations traced out, and an appeal made to the public for the support of the enterprise.

 Nothing of this kind.  All this would have been very much too practical and business-like.  Our Kentucky friends would not stoop to such foolish details. They, on the contrary, resorted to the true, genuine, original, recognized Southern mode of promoting Southern industry.  In other words, they have “called a Convention” of the Southern and Southwestern States, to take the matter into consideration; and we have not the slightest doubt a tolerably large gathering of eloquent gentlemen will respond to the appeal, and meet at any place they appoint.

 But we think we can predict with safety that the Eastern capitalists need not be in the least alarmed at the prospect.  Three or four years’ experience of the Southern “Commercial Conventions” enables us to state  with confidence that steamboat building and running will receive a very cursory notice at the hands of this august body, while Slavery, the Slave-trade, and “Old Brown [abolitionist John Brown],” will be discussed with freedom and ardor, and that a series of resolutions entertained by Kentucky gentlemen of “Seward and the Abolitionists;” and that at the close the further consideration of the steamboats will be postponed until the “nigger question” has been finally settled, all the “fanatics” have been withdrawn into Canada, and the South has nothing else to complain of.

 If Southerners will allow us, we will express our doubts whether “Conventions” furnish the best means of bringing everything to pass which the heart of man can desire.  As schools for the cultivation and promotion of “gab,” we admit them to be unsurpassed; but we cannot at this moment recollect a single branch of commerce or industry, in any country of the world, which has been built up by their instrumentality.


New York Times, November 12, 1859