February 04, 2010

full steam ahead

with jackson in the white house, we're crossing into the 1830s. when people ask me about this project, one of the things i mention is that i feel like i live dually in 2010 chicago and in 19th century america. i'm very at home with the pace, vernacular, customs, and geography of the 1800s, because i spend so much of my time there. which is why i almost let out a whoop of joy the other day, when john quincy adams got on a train.

back when we were reading adams and jefferson, dave texted me to say, "it's driving me nuts that these guys don't have cell phones." a lot of the early guys who were european ambassadors before they were presidents had to wait month - months! - for answers to their letters. sometimes they would get promoted or reassigned and not know it for almost a year. it was terrible.

and then there's a handful of times in each biography so far where the dude's trip to washington is delayed because of muddy roads. because they all went home when congress wasn't in session, about every 50 pages we have to go through a description of the trip back to quincy or virginia and how the carriage held up. it's dull reading, at times.

but then, thank the almighty in heaven, they built the railroad. it happens during jackson's tenure, so one of john quincy adam's trips to washington as a congressmen is the first time we read about it. i was just so happy. when one of these guys gets in a car i'll probably weep for joy.

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