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Giving Thanks in Chicago, Circa 1858

For the judgment of the Almighty upon the perversity and wickedness of James Buchanan; for the subsidence of the Potato-rot, and for the improvement in the virtue of Congressmen; for Sewerage by and by; and other reasons Chicagoans were grateful.

The raising of Chicago lake street
The raising of Lake Street, 1860

 

From the Chicago Tribune. Published November 25, 1858. A fine, weird piece of newspaper writing.


WHAT WE SHOULD BE THANKFUL FOR—For Life and Liberty here, and the hope of Heaven hereafter; for the existence of the Republican party by which that liberty is assured and the path Heavenward left perfectly free to all men, subject only to the laws of our moral nature and Revelation from God; for the existence and renewed vitality of Free Principles, which ever must precede the highest development of Christianity; for our Republican victories in all the North, and especially for our popular majority in Illinois, and for the prospect of a Republican triumph in the nation in 1860; for the judgment of the Almighty upon the perversity and wickedness of James Buchanan; for the small Crop of the year, and for the promise of more in the year to come; for the chastening rod which has taught the Vanity of Riches; for the necessity which has impelled men to seek bread by Labor, and gain by Economy; for the success of our public and private Schools, and the more powerful influence of our Churches; for abundant Food and cheap Fuel; for our Protestant Emigrants and for moderate rents and the low price of beef-steaks; for the rapid improvement of our city side-walks and the crooked walks of our citizens; for our Republican Common Council; for a Republican Mayor; for such Water as we get; for Sewerage by and by; for the Nicholson pavement1; for more gas lamps on unfrequented streets; for the moderation of our dearly beloved bretheren of the Irish persuasion since last Thanksgiving Day; for the new position of [illegible] John, Archbishop of New York, that Protestantism has robbed “the Church” of its paupers; for the hope of their restoration; for the abdication of O’Regan and the Chiniqui schism2; for the material prosperity of Chicago released from Irish rule; for the leniency of Creditors and the promptness of debtors; for a large circulation and a good run of advertisers; for such prices as Wheat will bring; for such a market as it can command; for the prospect that Corn will rule high, and that corn-er lots will feel its influence; for the success of the Sorghum experiment and the hope of more Sugar; for the partial repetenace of Douglas and our anti-Lecompton majority in the next Congress; for the probable alteration of the Tariff and for home-made iron and less imported brass; for the labor of Mr. Hadley the friend of the poor and the fatherless, and for the Divine impulses which impel men to give to the charity he directs3; for philanthropic and humane effort everywhere; for that “one touch of Nature that makes us all akin”; for the invention of Lager as a substitute for Whisky, and for the prospect that the world will sometime grow wise enough to discard both; for such Currency as our banks will give us, and for such stray pieces of Gold as we can get; for the decline in the rapacity of shavers and the wants of borrowers; for any rate of interest less than two percent a month, with bullion for collateral; for the Steam Plow, and the prospective disenthrallment of all mankind; for the Sewing Machine and the emancipation of our wives and daughters; for the Paraguay expedition, which will further demonstrate the imbecility of our Chief Magistrate; for the subsidence of the Potato-rot, and for the improvement in the virtue of Congressmen; for the treaty with Japan and the discovery of gold on the Platte; for the decline in the vanity of the female sex; for the fashion which makes calico admissable where necessity demands it should be worn; for the less scandal in sewing societies and “scandal bees”; for the Old Dominion Coffee Pot4 and the preservation of the sausage making art; for the mud, snow, and rain which give life to the rubber and umbrella trade; for pro-Slavery doctrines in the Pulpit and for the opposite Truths to which they lead; for every grief and sorrow, for every death and disaster whereby the littleness and meanness of human ambition are demonstrated; for every ennobling Christian thought and impulse whereby man’s relationship to God is established; for every act of humanity and justice in which God is made nearer, and for every act of worship in which His Love and His Mercy are acknowledged; for every charitable deed with which Heaven is pleased; for this World as it is—with all its woes and wisdom, its crimes, casualties, curses, charity and Christianity—the good with the bad—let us be truly, devoutly, and unfeignedly thankful; —content with the assurance that in Divine Mercy all things are ordained for the best!

1. I.e. wooden pavement.

2. “It appears that for a considerable length of time a controversy had sprang up and been maintained in the bosom of the Roman Catholic Church, in the diocese of Illinois, prior to the year 1856, and which was carried on for several years between Bishop O’Regan, of Chicago, on the one hand, with all the power of the episcopacy and tyranny of the hierarchy of the Papacy, and on the other by the Rev. Charles Chiniqay, then a Priest of that church at St. Anne’s, Kankakee County, in said State, who resisted the arbitrary usurpations and tyrannical measures put forth by Bishop O’Regan.”

2. Samuel H. Hadley, I think.

3. Douglas’s role in the defeat of the Lecompton Constitution.

4. “Dr. Hall, of New York, in his Journal of Health, for July, 1858, says: ‘We commend the Old Dominion Coffee-Pot to all lovers of good coffee, as we personally know that it is one of the “new things” offered to the public, in which no imposition is practised, and which has the double vouchers of science and common sense.’”

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