of/off the record; part 1

school done for a couple weeks so i am reading about cincinnati again. i’d like to share quotes i find interesting. i am patience. here is my first sharing:

Edward Mansfield – Memoirs of the Life and Services of Daniel Drake (more or less the title – it’s on google books) [1855]

FIRST AND INTRO (later a commentary): the Edward Mansfield was the nephew (or something like that?) of daniel drake. he was a lawyer. he was a well known civic booster for cincinnati. daniel drake was the same except he was a doctor, smarter, older, and not born with money.

this section is from mansfield discussing how civic boosters work and shape the public. specifically he is talking about cholera epidemics from 1832-35, and then about drake’s activities from 1836 onwards (lo! onwards!) in promoting certain “internal improvements”.

quotes from 2 pages (i emboldened those bits i like most):


  • It was the era of 1836, when ideas, as well as credit, were excited and expanded. Gigantic schemes were formed, and it is perhaps one of the most remarkable facts in the history of this country, that such has been the rapid, sweeping growth of its power and wealth, that even the greatest and the wildest (if any plan in our country can be called wild) of the plans formed in an era of excited speculation, have, in twenty years, been realized, and that more by far—schemes which were only dreamed of in the flights of imagination—have been reduced to sober realities, and numbered among the common facts of the day. Such has been the history of the last twenty years, and there seems to be as little check or limit to the speculation of commerce, the development of power, or the growth of empire, as at any time since this government was formed.



  • [cholera] cast its fear and shadow upon all things. The consequence was, that Cincinnati has never been, at any period, so dull and apparently lifeless and inert as at the close of the summer of 1834. Property was sold low, and business had barely struggled along. When, however, in 1835, it became evident that the dreaded plague had left the country, a season of extraordinary activity ensued. The mind sprung up elastic from the pressure, and all was accomplished that the mind could do. Enterprize, business, growth, the reality of active energy, and the ideality of a growing and prosperous future sprung up, as the consequence of an elastic and invigorated public mind. The general trade of the country had been safe and profitable—hence there was little timidity to strengthen prudence or restrain extravagance. In the East commenced that series of enormous speculations whose center was at New York, and which, in some respects, has never been surpassed in this country. It spread to the West, but prevailed comparatively little at Cincinnati. The speculations here were on a small scale, and it is doubtful whether they did more than give a necessary and healthy excitement to the business community, which had so long been in a dull, quiescent state. Certain it is, that Cincinnati now owes half her growth and prosperity to plans of public works and usefulness then formed and undertaken.

well. general comments: right now we hate speculation, which probably jumps out at you first.

from 266: the connection between ideation/creativity and speculation/credit (more importantly credit) is fascinating. it’s totally different than the present feeling i have, where everyone is being spurred towards creativity to ‘solve’ the global warming/credit crisis issue. although maybe i posit this division for Today: there is ideation (which is along the line of Affordable Solar Energy [which is worthy of investment {cause that’s a hot idea (ah ha!)}] which obama is promoting and involves the ignition of credit and speculation, and then there is ingenuity, which doesn’t spark credit’s interest, and it more like Finding New Uses for Old Clothes Hangers. so maybe a credit crunch doesn’t provoke ideation, but it does promote creative coping?

[the above is tentative fuzz – like water skimmer bug tentative]

continuing 266: from that second part, i am just shocked by how he’s laying it out there. “the development of power”? “the growth of empire”? i re-viewed the cronon (1991) part on boosters recently and he really digs into how they saw this as kind of munificent empire of commerce. but mansfield makes the link between the commercial empire and power very specific. it’s just odd.

lo! onwards! to 267: i follow what he’s saying here i think but the language is crazy. and i think from the craziness of the language you can tell the section is really exciting for him (“the ideality of a growing and prosperous future sprung up”? [i’m sorry about the quotations with question marks after them but they serve someone]) . there is an interesting use of the “public”/”public mind” and the phases of inertia and activity it passes through. he suggests that the “public mind” is characterized by elasticity, so when it is held “inert” it has to bound back up to frenzied activity. that is odd. i have never seen that metaphor before for an analysis/creation of the public in a capitalist boom/bust cycle. also i just like the connection between cholera an and economic depression. as i’ve been doing stuff on drake i have been thinking about civic boosters as biopoliticians (drake is a doctor! and a statisticians! and a “valetudinarian”!). this quote is definitely an interesting start. also thinking about the conception of the city itself, and how it “grows”. what kind of soil? how much light? how much rain? etc. do cities need (and i think some civic boosters thought in terms of many cities [their’s just being the exemplar]). the answer to these questions (and the conception of the city implied) could have very concrete effects on how a governmentality is formed with the city. and it’s so urban.

just some thought bubbles


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