To read the Chicago papers, especially Deacon Bross's annual statement, one would think that Chicago was the centre of the world; that all the grain in the world was raised on her swamp lots; that all the lumber in creation was grown and sawed right in Chicago; that all the great men were born and brought up right there, and that no other locality, this side of Dixie at least, was worthy of mere mention.
We admit that Chicago is a point of considerable commercial importance, and that commerce alone gives her all the importance she has or ever will have. But the inordinate greediness of her people in grasping for everything they can see or hear of, may not be the very best thing in the end.
Chicago ought to have her harbor improved. She ought to have a dry dock; and a ship canal to Lasalle, for the passage of steamboats, would be of very great importance to her. These things are more desirable to Chicago than the armory, and the people are interested in their accomplishment. — But did it ever occur to Chicagoans that in their greed for everything they may turn their natural friends against them, and lose everything?
A few months ago it was announced that the government had decided, or was in favor of the location of a national armory on Rock Island. The subject was presented to congress, and a committee in the senate reported a bill in favor of its location here. The only other place spoken of or suggested was Pittsburg. But Pittsburg is not out west, or in the valley of the Father of Waters, and she stood no chance for securing the prize. Any man who should have suggested then, that the fogs, and rains, and damps of Chicago would be a suitable place for such an establishment, would have been laughed at. No Chicago man so far forgot his usual modesty as to claim that the fogs of Lake Michigan or the swamps of Chicago would be a suitable place for an armory. In fact no other place but Rock Island was dreamed of by those who had an eye to the wants of the great Mississippi and the wide territory between this and the Rocky Mountains.
But after the adjournment of congress the modesty of Chicago disappeared. She discovered that Rock Island had got a favorable report in the senate, and that public attention was generally directed to this point, and she resolved to grab the armory from its natural location if possible. Her broken down land speculators and stumptail bankers, generally very modest people, resolved to make a bold push for the armory, in the hope of retrieving their waning fortunes. They called a public meeting, which, with all the drumming and advertising was a slim affair, and they got John Wentworth to grossly insult Mr. Lincoln, and the family of his wife, and threaten Arnold, Browning and Trumbull with the cold hand of death, if they did not go for Chicago on the armory question, and threaten Mr. Lincoln that they would cut off the supplies for the army if he did not secure the armory for Chicago! They appointed a committee who got up a pamphlet filled with the usual Chicago bragging about grain and lumber and asking congress to locate the armory at Chicago.
A few evenings ago the committee of the Board of Trade, and the Mercantile Association, adopted the following:
"Resolved, That it is expedient that the several committees, citizens generally, and railroad officers, send the petitions for the armory, and naval depot in this city to the Board of Trade, and associations of other roads, to military encampments, and all the towns in the northwest for signatures, immediately."
Our people can see the game. Will they send out petitions also? We think they should send one to every post office in the valley of the Mississippi.
It is barely possible that Chicago, in running this opposition to the valley of the Mississippi, and contesting the claims of the only proper locality for the armory, may defeat some of her other projects and lose the armory also. One thing is very certain: She can't have everything her own way. And in stepping out of her way to grab what she has no possible claim for, and thus injuring the chances of Rock Island, the only place in the state which stands any chance to get the armory, she may find her corners cut in another direction.
Is there no other place in all the northwest but Chicago? And is the whole northwest her vassal?