A telegraph to Chambersburg - to catch Runaways, 1853
A Telegraph to Chambersburg.
Several years ago, the expediency of establishing a Telegraph between this town and Chambersburg, was strongly urged in the newspapers and an effort was even made by some of our citizens, if our recollection serves us aright, to form a company for the purpose, but like too many efforts that have recently been put forth here, with the highly commendable view of improving our town and advancing the interests of our people generally, it failed, and all interest on the subject has, doubtless, long since died away. And here we still are, an isolated town, cut off from the great chain of Telegraphic communication which has been extended to almost every other town of the size of Hagers Town in the United States, by twenty miles of slow-paced travel on the one hand, and twenty-six of equal tardiness on the other.—
Are we willing longer to remain in this miserable state of "Old Fogyism ?" Strangers regard us as being out of the world, at least out of the active, go ahead, progressive world, and wonder how we manage to live and do business without the aid of those wonderful powers of modem discovery, Steam and Electricity. We feel that we are, indeed, in this particular, far behind the age in which we live, and are not, therefore, surprised that others should view us in the light in which we see ourselves. But we do not despair of the future, and look forward in the confident hope that a better time is coming.
In the course of a few months, the Franklin Rail Road will be re-laid, and steam introduced upon it, and while this work is going on, or before it is undertaken, we suggest the propriety of forming a Company for the purpose of raising the means necessary to build a Telegraph between this town and Chambersburg, which could be done simultaneously with the execution of the other work. While the new rails are being laid,, the posts for the Telegraph could be put up, and thus, in less than six months, we might have all the advantages of steam and electricity, and be in full connection with the great works of improvement in the country.
The cost of a Telegraph between the two towns, located upon the side of the Railroad, as Telegraphs are elsewhere, would not be very heavy; but, cost what it might, there is capital enough in this town to ensure its construction, if there was not so great a lack of enterprise and public spirit. The advantages of a Telegraphic connection with Chambers burg are numerous and important. These advantages are known to and appreciated by our citizens, and we will, therefore, allude to but one of them, which we conceive would be of the utmost importance to a portion of the citizens of our town and county. We mean the facilities which the Telegraph would afford in the apprehension of runaway slaves. Since last fall, at least Twenty Thousand Dollars worth of slaves have escaped from this town and vicinity, and not a single one of them has been caught, the start which they obtained between Hagerstown and Chambersburg enabling them to make good their escape. If we had a Telegraph, they could always be arrested either at Chambersburg, Carlisle or Harrisburg, before they had time to leave the cars, by the United States Marshals, at those places and hence, in this respect, a Telegraph would be of great service to our people,, and doubly repay its cost, start the ball of this improvement—who’ll keep it in motion ?
Herald of Freedom & Torch Light
Slaves, Western Maryland
Western Maryland, 1800-1864