The War on Wood

From The Congressional Record, March 8, 1820, p. 42, Proceedings of the United States Senate

            Presiding Officer: The chair will recognize the distinguished senator from Kentucky, Micah McConnell.

Sen. McConnell: Thank you, Senator. I wish to spend a few moments on the issue which is most momentous to my constituents and which requires the intervention of this body and our brothers in the House. I mean, of course, the War on Wood. 

Like you, thousands of good American citizens in my state find employment through the wood industry. Wood provides necessary heat for survival in winter and cooking all year around. It is plentiful and easily resupplied. Chimney sweeps are busied with cleaning the flu of creosote, providing both employment and safety. Wood is used to build our canals as well as our camp fires. Wood is portable, and can safely be used by the gentler of our sex, if properly trained.

Who has not rested after a day of hard work in the fields before a warm and comforting fire, with the wood crackling and children all around doing their lessons? Who has not enjoyed the wonderful meal, sometimes with meat, prepared on a kitchen flame by a loving wife? Is this not the America we treasure and wish to protect.

But into this wonderful picture comes a terrible threat. A dirty beast whose genesis is the Hopi Indian tribe which, until only recently, was a threat to every white man and woman within its reach. The Hopi bring a disaster to the economic, social and physical well-being of every American. What is this beast? It is coal! Ugly, dirty, destructive coal!

I have seen the coal mines of Pennsylvania first hand. The workers there are filthy with the dust of this devil. They live in dreadful conditions and suffer early death. But our loggers in Kentucky, Tennessee and throughout our land work in nature, with clean air and safe from mine collapses and other unimaginable threats. Their lungs are clear. They and those who are associated with logging business provide for their families in a healthy way. They are God-fearing and good citizens, unlike the coal miner, who is often from another land, so greedy for money that they will risk his life for an evil cause simply for lucre.

There is also the evil of the large and unrestrained business Leviathan in the mining of coal which is not often found in logging. Although they call themselves Capitalists, they are in reality peddlers of sinful extraction from the earth, often at such great cost that only a few can own such businesses. These corporate entities require that this Senate . . . .

I beg your indulgence, gentlemen. My aide has presented me with some information.

[Following is as reported by The Washington Star newspaper: “The aide informed Senator McConnell that a large amount of coal had been discovered in eastern Kentucky only last week and that the Consolidated Coal Company had placed $10,000 in the McConnell campaign account.]

Excuse me, Gentlemen. As I was saying, these corporate entities in the coal business must be encouraged to increase their mining endeavors if this country is to progress and remain a modern nation. The steam engine, the steam boat, and the so-called Franklin stove all function more efficiently with coal. The mining of coal is underground, while wood is logged above ground, devastating our forests. Yes, lives will be disrupted, but that is the cost of progress.

I yield the rest of my time to Sen. Lard Graham of South Carolina to opine on the need for military force in Nicaragua . . . .

By James A. Kidney

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