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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Of flowage, shooting at louse, and back to square one

Some environmentally minded people want to close Lake Michigan off from the Mississippi River basin (SJ-R: Study: Separate Great Lakes, Mississippi basins):

A 106-page feasibility study to be released Wednesday by the Alliance for the Great Lakes says separating the watersheds is the only way to stop the transfer of some invasive species — including the voracious Asian carp that is within 50 miles of Lake Michigan.

From the same article, we learn that it was some environmental minded people who wanted to open it up:

The Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds aren’t connected naturally. Over a century ago engineers linked them through a complex network of manmade canals and natural rivers to reverse the flow of the Chicago River and keep waste from Lake Michigan, which Chicago uses for drinking water.

I can't imagine what something like this would cost or that the state would want to pay it. The legislature hardly wanted to pay for it back then (Remarks in Illinois Legislature Concerning a Bill for Completion of the Illinois and Michigan Canal: Sangamo Journal, March 5, 1841; The Illinois State Register, March 12, 1841):

Mr. LINCOLN offered an amendment, allowing the State to pay in Bonds at par for all work hereafter done, and to issue therefor $3,000,000 bonds.
Mr. BISSELL moved to strike out 3 and insert $1,500,000. Mr. LINCOLN accepted the amendment.
Messrs. Lincoln and Dodge supported the bill and Mr. Ormsbee and Kitchell opposed it.
Mr. KITCHELL was surprised at the course of the gentleman from Sangamon (Mr. Lincoln). We were already prostrated by debt, and that gentleman thought it would be for the interest of the State to go still deeper. Mr. K. said it reminded him of an anecdote, which he would relate. A drunkard in Arkansas took so much of the cretur, that he lost his reason and remained for some time in a state of insensibility. His wife tried every experiment to cure him; but it was of no avail, until a neighbor came to the house and recommended some brandy toddy. The insensible man rose at the word toddy, and said "that is the stuff." It was so with the gentleman from Sangamon---more debt would be for the better.

The gentleman from Sangamon, obviously a liberal, convinced otherwise:

Mr. LINCOLN replied. He begged leave to tell an anecdote. The gentleman's course the past winter reminded him of an eccentric old bachelor who lived in the Hoosier State. Like the gentleman from Montgomery, he was very famous for seeing big bugaboos in every thing. He lived with an older brother, and one day he went out hunting. His brother heard him firing back of the field, and went out to see what was the matter. He found him loading and firing as fast as possible in the top of a tree.
Not being able to discover any thing in the tree, he asked him what he was firing at. He replied a squirrel---and kept on firing. His brother believing there was some humbug about the matter, examined his person, and found on one of his eye lashes a big louse crawling about. It is so with the gentleman from Montgomery. He imagined he could see squirrels every day, when they were nothing but lice.
[The House was convulsed with laughter.]

And so we are back to square one: Closing off the Great Lakes. I suppose in another 150 years they'll want to open it up again.

Edit: I fiddled around with the headline too much and ended up not quite as coherent as I wanted. I guess louse should be lice, but I'm leaving it.

Posted by Marie at November 11, 2008 9:28 PM


Mr Lincoln hit that one out of the park. Afraid Mr Kitchell was overmatched. Great story.

Posted by: Rob Author Profile Page at November 12, 2008 5:20 PM

Thanks, Rob.

Posted by: Marie at November 14, 2008 10:58 PM

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