0-9 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Page 4 of City of Louisville and a glimpse of Kentucky / Young Ewing Allison.

item | thumbnails | details | text | pdf
Download this image
address that were captivating before they were spoiled by dissipation and the turmoil of misconduct, was of great value to the young State. He was a leader in the agitation that-whatever the mistakes of the agitators, and whatever the unjust suspicions that were attached to them under the pressure of excitement attendant upon the discovery of what is usually called the "Spanish Conspiracy "-led to finally securing the Mississippi river as a commercial highway to the United States, and the opening of which built up the great pioneer commerce of the Western States. Up to the break- ing out of the War of the Rebellion, and, indeed, for several years afterward, the internal commerce carried upon the Mississippi and the Ohio rivers was the greatest that any country in the world ever developed. General Wilkinson frequently visited Louisville, and the canal project was one that seems to have occupied his mind to a considerable extent He gave it up with other commercial projects when he returned to the army and was made Commander-in- Chief, but returned to it temporarily, it seems, in 1805-6, when he invited Aaron Burr,' then outlawed for the killing of Alexander Ham- ilton, to go into the project with him. Burr came to Louisville, examined the ground, and consulted with an engineer. He used l, that project afterward, or at least Wilkinson accused himi of having (lone so, as a cloak for the greater andl more hazardous enter- prise of conquering an empire for himself 0 in Mexico. If a history of the genius of the peoplevel of Louisville were written, it would be found w to comprise three periods, filled with in- tense energy. The first would be the pioneer - '---' period, occupied with the conquest of ter- FIRST SRT7Th1UMIMNT AT LOL'IVILLII. ritory andl the courageous scheme of devel- oping a river commerce by establishing trade with the Spanish provinces, and by the building of the canal, through which passing commerce should pay toll to the enterprise of Louisville. This developed into realization in 1830. The second period would follow the building of the canal, when the settling of the WVestern and Southern States provided a great population to be supplied by the activity of Louisville merchants. In this period Louisville was purely a commercial city, handling the manufactures of the East and the great agricultural products of Kentucky developed by slave labor. The city grew rapidly in wealth and importance, but it could not grow in an independent and courageous common population because the blot of slave-labor kept white mechanics of the best classes away. It was in this period that Louisville established her social and political power, and became the resort of the most cultivated classes of the South who were artracte'1 by the temperate climate and healthfulness of the place. It was a period of great social brill- iance, full of that charni of romantic interest which is so attractive to the student, and it came to an end with the Civil WVar. The third and minat importaixt heriod would ccbiipAse that of the organic change after the war, when the building of railroads, the abolition of slavery, and the development of agriculture in the new North-west temporarily endangered the future of the city. Then it,4was thlet the heritage of courage, intelligence, and independence received from the pioneers of the first perio-l astrteli'it6elf, oer, notwithstanding Kentucky had been left with a great helpless population upon her hands by the emancipation of slaves, and there was danger that the slave-owners would prove quite as helpless without slave-labor, the people quickly grappled with the problem, and a few years of close application solved it. While Kentucky maintains her great agricultural importance her metropolis has developed into a rich manufacturing city. It is with the results of this third period that this book is to deal. It is this period which has made the wonderful organic change of a people within twenty years, and has added to a purely commercial city wonderful manufacturing enterprises, and has, without any sort of jar, brought in a great mechanical population which is not alone one of the most thrifty and contented in the country, but which has the satisfaction of seeing great wealth evenly distributed instead of being locked in the chests of a few millionaires. There are no millionaires in Louisville, at least, practically none. There is iio other city of its size in the United States where there are so many handsome and comfortable residences, but there are none here that have been built for the muere display of vast wealth. The first thing that strikes the eye of the visitor accustomed to observation is the absence of the soul-crushing tenement house, while the multiplied numbers of comfoit.le cottages, with yards and gardens that are occupied by the working people, astonish him. A very large pro- portion are owned by those who occupy them, and there is, indeed, no reason why every industrious mechanic who comes to Louisville should not own a home of his own. Land, offering little choice between a site for a palace or for a cottage, can be purchased more cheaply than in any other city of similar size in the country: building materials are cheap, and living is at the lowest cost. The street-car system, which is the wonder of all who see it, renders distance a nullity. For five cents one can ride all over the city, and the system of free transfers makes it possible for the house- holder to live in any section of the city he may choose. Louisville occupies a position, calculated by all the favors of nature, to make her the metropolis of that richest region in America, the Mississippi valley, and the rapidity of growth which she has enjoyed for the past ten years indi- cates that the conditions are being prepared to realize that possibility. Taking the city as a center and projecting an imaginary circle upon the map of the West with a radius of 350 miles, the rim of the circle will pass near and include Jefferson City, Missouri; Burlington, Iowa; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Cleveland, Ohio; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Danville, Virginia; Charlotte, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; Birmingham, Alabama; and Memphis, Tennessee. The area thus included contains a large percentage of fertile soil available for agriculture, with more favorable climatic 4