The Tragic Conflict: The Civil War and Reconstruction

By William B. Hesseltine | Go to book overview

34
Inventive Genius

Scientific American


THE OLD YEAR'S PROGRESS

At the close of the year Eighteen Hundred and Sixty we congratulated our readers upon a year of unexampled national prosperity. Never before had the fields and orchards of our husbandmen yielded so profusely, or our manufacturers and merchants enjoyed a period of more profitable success. It would have afforded us intense pleasure had we been able to close our present volume in the same tones of peaceful gladness; but in thousands of workships, factories and farms, the hammer, the saw and the plow have been laid aside for the sword, the rifle and the cannon, and our country has become one vast camp of armed men. Fierce battles have been fought, and many brave men have fallen, and now "sleep the sleep which knows no waking." Still there is much to cheer and awaken faith and hope for the future. Many philosophers believe that wars are tribulations which exert similar influences among the nations that thunder storms do upon the atmosphere. They are evils while they exist, but when the clouds are dispersed, men breathe a purer and more serene atmosphere. May this be the happy consummation of our national troubles!

Although the vast insurrection has exerted a disorganizing influence upon many manufactures and other branches of business, it is really wonderful to witness the elasticity of our people, and the facility with which they have adapted themselves to altered circumstances. Many old branches of industry have been destroyed, but new ones have sprung up, and there is now a great amount of industrial prosperity enjoyed in most of the manufacturing sections of our country.

The war has stimulated the genius of our people, and directed it to the service of our country. Sixty-two new inventions relating to engines, im

Scientific American ( December 28, 1861; June 13, 1863; December 26, 1863; Dece- ber 19, 1863).

Scientific American recorded, week by week, the progress of invention and took par- ticular pains to point out Northern superiority over the South. The editorials here illustrate the strength of the artisan tradition in America, the pride of craftsmanship, and the clear conviction that the mechanic arts were the highest accomplishments of civilization.

-420-

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