The Railway System
Charles Adams, the great-grandson of United States President John Adams, and the grandson of president John Quincy Adams.
Here is an enormous, an incalculable force ...
let loose suddenly upon mankind;
exercising all sorts of influences, social, moral, and political;
precipitating upon us novel problems which demand immediate solutions;
banishing the old, before the new is half matured to replace it;
bringing the nations into close contact before yet the antipathies of race have begun to be eradicated;
giving us a history full of changing fortunes and rich in dramatic period.
Yet, with the curious hardness of a material age,
we rarely regard this new power otherwise than as a money-getting and time-saving machine...
not many of those ... who fondly believe they control it, ever stop to think of it as ... the most tremendous and far-reaching engine of social change which has ever either blessed or cursed mankind. ...
Perhaps if the existing community would take now and then the trouble to pass in review the changes it has already witnessed,
it would be less astounded at the revolutions which continually do and continually must flash before it;
perhaps also it might with more grace accept the inevitable,
and cease from the use-less attempts at making a wholly new world conform itself to the rules and theories of a bygone civilization.