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Time for the First U.S. Passenger Railroad

The Erie Canal has caused the port of New York's cargo traffic to increase dramatically. That is why Maryland has approved a charter for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) in the hope of increasing the cargo traffic through the port of Baltimore. At first the Baltimore & Ohio will not go anywhere near Ohio. Just as the majority of the Erie Canal's business is moving cargo short distances, the initial routes of the B&O are within Maryland and Virginia. The first granite stringers (the cross members on the track) will be laid next year and that may explain why the first train station will be located at Elliot Mills where a granite quarry exists. The line will then pass over the Potomac and head for the Cumberland Gap and keep going all the way to the Ohio River. (I'm making it sound easy, but it will not be easy at all.) The B&O will be the first common carrier cargo and revenue producing passenger train in the United States. The company will print its own train schedule. (Imagine that!) And it will use a locomotive built in the United States, the Tom Thumb. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
It may not seem like much, but a railroad can run cargo and passengers during the wintertime when the canals are frozen over. As the train routes expand, that will make a big difference, and eventually overwhelm the canal cargo system. However, as wonderful as the railroads are, they created a problem that remains the daily curse of the modern man: synchronized clocks and time zones. In a slow-moving train over short distances, synchronizing one's watch to the local time seems trivial, but over the distance of hundreds of miles, east and west, it becomes a problem. If the train schedule says a 3 PM arrival time, is that Baltimore time or local? It makes a difference if one is traveling east to west and back. For example, sunrise in Houston today is 6:31 AM. In Austin it is 8 minutes later. If I am driving to Houston, it makes little difference if my timing is off by 8 minutes but on a train it makes a big difference if the train ahead of mine hasn't left the station yet. My train can't simply shoulder the other train aside. By 1840, England had instituted Railway Time and synchronized its railway stations. That is why you see those big clocks at the train station. That makes sense. Daylight savings time makes less sense. Don't get me started. [4]

The Democratic Party Begins

After President John Quincy Adams was "selected not elected" as President by the US Congress, the supporters of the previous presidential candidate, Andrew Jackson, WHO WON THE MOST ELECTORAL VOTES AND POPULAR VOTES, regroup in Maryland to organize a new political party called the Democratic Party. The Democrats will promote the candidacy of Major General Andrew Jackson: the guy who kicked the stuffing out of the British at the end of the War of 1812, spanked the Spanish forces in Florida, routed the Indians and restored heart, soul and dignity to every American. (I think I hear a bugle sounding the call to arms.) All kidding aside, the Congress can hear the bugles as well, and they are frightened of Jackson. Jackson is calling out Henry Clay on his "corrupt bargain" with John Q. Adams to buy the presidency. (I don't think Clay did any such thing, but it sure looks bad when Clay, as Speaker of the House, presides over the selection of Adams as President and then takes the position of Secretary of State in the Adams Administration!) This upcoming election is going to be a hoot! [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
It sure sounds like the aftermath of the Bush vs. Gore presidential election, with hanging chads and "selected not elected" chants being tossed about. Eventually, Jackson and Clay came to an uneasy truce mostly because Jackson was a better shot in a duel and Clay was "the most popular man in history never to become president." From a political standpoint, they were forced to overlook their differences. In 1829, the 13 year-old messenger boy of the American Revolution was sworn in as President. It was a bitter sweet win. Jackson's wife, Rachel, died of a heart attack before he was sworn in. She never became First Lady. She had been accused of bigamy by the Adams campaign. Jackson believed that the stress killed her. Her previous husband, Captain Robards, gave the impression that he and Rachel had been properly divorced, but the paperwork hadn't reflected that claim. (Just FYI, reciting the words: "I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you" and then making the sign of the double-whammy is not enough to divorce someone in the United States... not even in Kentucky.) Jackson made sure the paperwork was filed and remarried Rachel. So... it was technically bigamy but without intent. It seems so pointless now. [10] [11]

The Book of Mormon and the Golden Plates

As controversial as it might seem, I am compelled to mention that the beginning of the translation of the Book of Mormon has begun. By tradition, an angel has led Joseph Smith to the location of hidden metal tablets or Golden Plates. There is strange writing on the plates so with special glasses or with "seer stones", Smith is able to translate the strange writing into English. This translation will become the Book of Mormon. It is one of the four sacred texts of the Church of Latter-day Saints and probably the book most associated with the Church. [12]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I read parts of the book of Mormon when I was in college. As Joseph Smith warned, it is not a book to be taken lightly so I won't. I cannot attest to the veracity of the text. It seems strange to me, but when I look at the kind of people it has produced. I am amazed and impressed. So I set aside my doubts for now and remember "You will know them by their fruits." That means, if you see good fruit, it can only mean that it was produced by good trees. [13]

In Other News

  • Sulfur matches are patented. A sulfur-tipped stick dipped into a bottle of phosphorus will burst into flame as it is pulled from the bottle. [14] [15]
  • The first fountain pen is patented in France. It's not perfect but it looks a lot like the modern calligrapher's pen. [16] [17]
  • Zarafa the Giraffe comes to France. This is the first giraffe seen in Europe in 3 centuries. It is a gift from the sultan of Egypt to the king of France. [18]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1827, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Baltimore and Ohio Railroad - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 July 2016. “It came into being mostly because the city of Baltimore wanted to compete with the newly constructed Erie Canal (which served New York City) and another canal being proposed by Pennsylvania, which would have connected Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.”
  2. The North American Review Volume 0025 Issue 56 (July 1827). ebooks.library.cornell.edu (1827). Retrieved on 14 July 2016.
  3. History of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (1995). Retrieved on 14 July 2016.
  4. Railway time - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 July 2016. “Railway time was the standardised time arrangement first applied by the Great Western Railway in England in November 1840, the first recorded occasion when different local times were synchronised and a single standard time applied. Railway time was progressively taken up by all railway companies in Great Britain over the following two to three years.”
  5. Maryland Democratic Party - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 July 2016. “On May 21, 1827, that a meeting of Andrew Jackson supporters organized a political structure in the State designed to help Jackson win the Presidency after he was denied victory in 1824 despite receiving the most total votes for his electors. (Similar to the 2000 Presidential election.) The first meeting of the Democratic (Jackson) Central Committee was held at the Atheneum in Baltimore City, located on the southwest corner of St. Paul and Lexington Streets.”
  6. Henry Clay - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 July 2016. “Clay, who was Speaker of the House, supported Adams, and his endorsement ultimately secured Adams' win in the House. Clay used his political clout to secure the victory for Adams, who he felt would be both more sympathetic to Clay's political views and more likely to appoint Clay to a cabinet position. When Clay was appointed Secretary of State, his maneuver was called a 'corrupt bargain' by many of Jackson's supporters and tarnished Clay's reputation.[36] It also marked the beginning of an intense personal rivalry between Clay and Jackson.”
  7. Greenberg, Amy S.. Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico, A. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 9780307592699. “Henry Clay's biographers have been almost unanimous in their admiration for the greatest American politician who never became president. Clay was widely adored in his own time, and even admirers of his archfoe Andrew Jackson have had difficulty remaining objective in the face of Clay's personal magnetism and remarkable accomplishments.” 
  8. Unger, Harlow G.. Henry Clay: America's Greatest Statesman. Da Capo Press. ISBN 9780306823916. 
  9. Alex Shrugged notes: My characterization of Henry Clay comes from my memory after listening to the audiobook of "Henry Clay: America's Greatest Statesman".
  10. Andrew Jackson - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 July 2016. “Jackson's supporters then founded what became the Democratic Party. He ran again for president in 1828 against Adams. Building on his base in the West and with new support from Virginia and New York, he won by a landslide. He blamed the death of his wife, Rachel, which occurred just after the election, on the Adams campaigners, who called her a 'bigamist'.”
  11. Rachel Jackson - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 July 2016. “She died suddenly in 1828, probably of a heart attack, given her symptoms according to Jackson: 'excruciating pain in the left shoulder, arm, and breast.'[3] That her death came immediately before Jackson left for Washington was more than an inconvenience; it was crippling. He held her body tightly until he was pulled away, and he lingered at the Hermitage until the latest possible date.”
  12. Book of Mormon - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 July 2016. “Both the special spectacles and the seer stone were at times referred to as the 'Urim and Thummim'. During the translating process itself, Smith sometimes separated himself from his scribe with a blanket between them.[19] Additionally, the plates were not always present during the translating process and, when present, they were always covered up.”
  13. Matthew 7:15-20 NKJV - You Will Know Them by Their Fruits. Bible Gateway (2016). Retrieved on 14 July 2016. “You will know them by their fruits.”
  14. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 390-391. 
  15. Phosphorus bottle pocket matches, 1828 - Joseph Allen Skinner Museum - DSC07746 - Match - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 July 2016.
  16. Fountain pen - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 July 2016. “The Romanian inventor Petrache Poenaru received a French patent on May 25, 1827, for the invention of the first fountain pen with a barrel made from a large swan quill.”
  17. Patent fountain pen - Fountain pen - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 July 2016.
  18. Zarafa (giraffe) - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 July 2016. “A gift from Muhammad Ali of Egypt to King Charles X of France, she was one of three giraffes Muhammad Ali sent to European rulers in 1827. These were the first giraffes to be seen in Europe for over three centuries, since the Medici giraffe was sent to Lorenzo de' Medici in Florence in 1486.”

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