The Work for Us.

June 1, 1870


Favorable policies and construction of railways into and out of Richmond and the West are needed for enterprise development, which will resurrect the city of Richmond to its full potential.


We know no city in the Union at this time which has so promising a field for successful operations as Richmond has. She has more means untried and more forces but partially exerted than any other city we know of. If our citizens only proceed with wisdom and energy to bring these into efficient use we shall see here in twenty years one of the noblest cities of the Atlantic shed of States. But we must have a Richmond policy. Richmond must not play second fiddle to any city or town in the State - least of a to a wood-station or tank of a railroad ! At present we have no communication westward that would be called a Richmond communication by any moderately smart man north of Mason and Dixon's line. The people above that line know what's what concerning railroads. They would say that in competing with other towns and rail - ways the city that did not have the most rapid communication by the shortest line stood a very bad chancethat the city whose lines of transportation did not draw travel had a very poor prospect for trade. This is the condition of Richmond, and it is a condition out of which she should be resurrected if it took all we are now worth and half the wardrobes of the people to boot! If resurrected from this paralysis we would soon recover all we had expended to save her, and if she is not saved-not put on a footing of equality in the contest that is now decided by distance and speed why, we shall never get up from our condition of poverty and apathy. Then we must fix up for the railroads the great lines that run east and west and southwestwardly. This fixing up means not only accommodations here which may content them, but connecting lines through the city and a deep channel in James river, so that it will be capable of the easy transportation of the trade which may possibly find its way into the city. Upon these important subjects the public mind may employ itself very greatly to the interest of the city. Great deliberation, unflagging energy, are requisite to bring the city out of peril, and so arrange the public enterprises as to bring our natural advantages into greatest usefulness. There is no matter which is more entitled to the constant reflection and to the consultation of our citizens. A mistake now might retard the city for an age. Energetic and wise policy now will bring her soon out of her difficulties, and confer upon Virginia inestimable advantages. Richmond is her greatest city. To make her great will vastly increase the financial resources of the State, and establish in her centre a market for the varied products of agriculture which will stimulate industry and beautify and enrich the land. If we do not accomplish these things we shall not succeed. The city will not enjoy this prosperity, the State will not possess the increased sources of revenue, and the rural population will know no such thrift as is here alluded to.
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Bryce Smith


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“The Work for Us.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 17, 2022,