Words of Others | The Hands of Industry

My wife gave me a book for Christmas that is turning out to be really interesting: An Artist in Treason: The Extraordinary Double Life of General James Wilkinson -- Commander in Chief of the U.S. Army and Agent 13 in the Spanish Secret Service. (I though the long subtitle explains the book pretty well.) Wilkinson started out in the army during the American Revolution, when he was in his late teens and early twenties. He ended up betraying too many of his mentors and left before the war was over. He then moved his young family to Kentucky, where so many of us intrepid Easterners have gone to find our fortunes. (Wilkinson was from Maryland; his wife from the great city of Philadelphia.)

Others saw Kentucky as a promising land as well, including "The Dutch-born, South Carolina-based explorer John William de Brahm." He is quoted in the book, describing Kentucky in 1756:

"The vallies are of the richest soil, equal to manure itself, impossible in appearance ever to wear out. This country seems longing for the hands of industry to receive its hidden treasures, which nature has been collecting and toiling since the beginning ready to deliver them up."

Well, the hands of industry certainly did receive those hidden treasures. I always think it is interesting how much the world has changed, that what once seemed like the limitless bounty of Providence has given way to resources so depleted that strip mining, mountaintop removal mining, deforestation, and worn-out soil are the result. This is true everywhere, not just in Kentucky, but Kentucky is where I live for now, so this struck a chord.