1914 postmarked postcard view of trolley cars and horse-drawn wagons on Broadway Street in Logansport, Indiana. The court house is visible at the left edge of the image.
1910 postmarked postcard view of railroad bridges at the confluence of the Eel and Wabash rivers at Logansport, Indiana.
"You didn't build that." Four common words spoken by Candidate Obama in rhetorical cadence in Roanoke, Virginia, in front of a most friendly home team crowd, are now the center of a campaign argument more than a week later. OFA asserts that POTUS was referring to "roads and bridges." As in, "Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen..." It is tortured rhetoric in any event, and OFA is aware that the American Crossroads ad "Build," that presents the phrase as an insult to small business owners, is not a positive development. Why did Obama speak such gibberish? Is it meaningful to him to say that American prosperity is a product of earlier American endeavor? What about the part of the tortured rhetoric that mocks "smart?" As in, "...If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there..." This is either a flatly trite remark, trash-talking smarty-pants citizens, or it is incoherent disdain for the self-made man or woman in modern and historical America. What could Candidate Obama be talking about? What "roads and bridges?" Mention that the American pioneers did not have "roads and bridges." My forbears included the Rogers family and the Batchelor family, and from what I know to be accurate, they pushed west through the Cumberland Gap in the 18th and early 19th centuries, or they pushed up the Mississippi. No "roads and bridges" about it. The Batchelors of Indiana (my paternal grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were Hoosiers) were Logansport farm boys until Wall Street investment pushed lines, yards and shops into Indiana. Somebody did build those roads: that would be the railroad barons. For example: The Lake Michigan, Logansport & Ohio River Railroad was incorporated by James Dunn, Williamson Wright, and George Walker in 1848, I learn, and the capital stock was $1 million, sold at $25.00 a share. By 1901, more than 200 trains were passing through Logansport daily, and the Panhandle Shops were the largest employer on the Wabash; and my grandfather John C. Batchelor's paycheck from the Pennysylvania Roads was a direct result of the railroad matrix at Logansport. In 1921, the yards, lines and Panhandle Shops were taken over in a consolidation of the roads by the Pennsylvania Railroad; the same year my father was born in Logansport. "Roads and bridges." "You didn't build that." Did POTUS mean to say that the work and risk of the railroad barons, plutocratic capitalists all, built the Panhandle Shops? It wasn’t the federal government -- from the Whigs of 1850 to the Republicans of 1900 to the Democrats of 1920 -- that is a certainty. Ninety-one years later, my small business is a product of my grandfather's work and risk for the railroads, my father's work and risk for the textiles, and my work and risk for publishers. How to hear that we didn’t get here on our own? The "roads and bridges" in the postcard of the Wabash below, and the postcard of the Wabash and Eel confluence above, who built them? The raliroads did, all private, all risk, and eventually all in failure many times. Puzzling of POTUS to speak sloppily of capitalism at this stage in the campaign: Obama knows he is suspect for bashing Bain and Romney, for demonizing "millionaires and billionaires." Is he deaf to the OFA advisers?
1908 postmarked postcard view of three boys fishing along the Wabash River while a horse-drawn wagon passes on the bridge overhead. The view is at Logansport, Indiana.