The National Armory at Quincy.
Two facts seem to be understood as settled, first that a new National Armory and Arsenal is to be established, and second, that is it to be located somewhere at the West. With this understanding many Western cities are at work setting forth their many and marvelous "claims," and the superior inducements they have to offer. Among them our own fair city has entered the lists, and confident that her location is superior to all others standing any chance whatever, and that she can make it a matter of economy for Congress to locate the armory here, our citizens have taken the matter in hand and expect to succeed. Let such small towns as Chicago take due notice.
The loss of all the armories and arsenals located in the slave States has taught the government not to entrust any new structures of so much importance to districts infected with the curse of slavery. Even with the prospect ahead of an early and very general emancipation, it must be years before our "Southern brethren" can expect important works of this kind located among them again. The hatred of the insurgents will hardly pass away with this generation. Besides, the Great West has had no chance in this sort of patronage. The new Arsenal must go — should at least — where it will be of especial service to Western and North Western frontier defences. The contest seems already narrowed down to Illinois, and the question then recurs, "Which place among her cities offers the greatest advantages to the whole people?"
It is not Chicago. Mr. Congressman Arnold, from the Chicago district, has published a set of reasons which are weak enough to come from a less able man. He assumes the entire security of the place in case of a foreign or domestic war! That is funny. He seems to forget that Chicago is open to an English inroad from Canada by way of broad lakes and that Chicago has no natural eminence whatever on which to place a work of this kind. Building armories in swamps is hardly the thing. A friend suggests that the top of the Tremont House would answer, and possibly that plea may be put to when Chicago is informed that an eminence is indispensable.
Quincy is secure from foreign invasion — that cannot be questioned. It is contiguous to a slave State, but the institution is in its death throes, and even without an insurrection that slaveholders themselves conceded last year that it would be a free State before 1864. The city occupies one of the highest bluffs on the Mississippi, and the Armory site can command not only the river, but the Missouri shore, the city and the country for miles around. The "entire security of the position," with an Armory here, "from foreign and domestic invasion," Mr. Arnold must concede.
As to facilities for transportation of materials and arms we have as good as the best in the State. We stand on the junction of the two great routes of the Continent, that from the East to California, and from the extreme South by the Mississippi river. Boats of the largest class come to our levee, while the Rapids above us prevent large boats from ascending to Rock Island, which place is also in competition. To the West we have railroads extending nearly 200 miles farther than any competing town, and these will shortly be pushed through Kansas toward the Pacific coast, and in a direct line toward the wild regions where arms, after this war is over, are likely to be most needed. None of our rivals can claim such advantages.
The materials for manufacturing arms are close at hand. Iron, lead, and wood, all of the very best quality, are near us, the first two in Missouri, the latter at the distance of only a few miles in our own State. The stone for building materials is within the city limits, and can be had for the mere cost of breaking it out. As Chicago stands in a swamp she has no stone, and as to her being a "grain and provision depot" Adams county produces the grain and provisions which go to swell the boasts of Chicago. Our farmers will bring the provisions to the Armory with no charges for railroad transportation. It may be that lumber is a fraction higher than at Chicago — we are not certain at this moment — but if so the difference is scarcely the "shadow of a shade," and is a score of times made up by the other advantages.
We ask those interested to note the geographical position of Quincy. It occupies virtually the exact geographical center of the three States of Illinois, Iowa and Missouri, is within easy reach of Wisconsin and Minnesota, and is the farther Western point on the East side of the Mississippi river where the river is navigable for first class boats. These are not imaginary but real advantages, and properly brought to the notice of unprejudiced Congressmen should result in securing this important National work to this city.