No people in the world travel so much as we do in America ; a greater regard for the safety of life, therefore, and better appliances and modes of protecting it, should exist among us than among any other people. Instead, however, of a sacred regard for life, and well arranged means to protect it, by those who are the carriers of our travelling people, we behold on every hand the most daring recklessness and the most reprehensible want of judicious and safe arrangements for the security ol life and property, A few weeks ago the dreadful intelligence was. conveyed to ns that one of our steamships on the Pacific had struck a ledge of rock, near a desert island, and then took fire, by which sad calamity more than one hundred of our citizens lost their lives. The cause of this accident may have been carelessness, and it may not; we cannot tell ; but at present we believe that more care would have prevented it. On the night of the 25th ult. two railroad trains met at a crossing on the JfkJhdgan Central and the Southern RailroadjyJjISr Chicago, by which more than twenty .jWons were killed and nearly one htmdredjjj6rely wounded. The Central and Southeffrfiailroads cross one another at a place about ten miles from Chicago, and it seems a bad feeling or misunderstanding has existed between the, two companies. There are no definite arrangements between them, as to the time for the trains of each to cross the point of intersection : the engineer of one train must look before him in fear and doubt, to see that no train is approaching. On the night mentioned, the train ol the Southern road was two hours behind time when it left Chicago at 94 o'clock ; on thundered the engineer with his train, to make up for lost time, at the rate of 40 miles per hour, when at the solitary spot—the only intersecting one on the road, he met the central train without a lamp, going at the rate af five miles per hour. The casualty could not be called a collision; the fast train crushed through part oi the central train, strewing its path with the mangled bodies of the dead and dying. The accident, we believe, is one of the most horrible and culpable that has occurred on a railroad in our country. A Coroner's Jury in Chicago found the conductors and engineers of both trains guilty of gross carelessness. But what of this ? Whoever heard of a guilty public carrier being punished in our country ? It seems to us that there is not enough of morality in our laws to do it; if there is, why is it never done ? On the night of the 29th ult., the steamboat " Ocean Wave " took fire from her furnaces, on Lake Ontario, about fifty miles from Kingston, C. W., by which 28 persons lost their lives. There can be no doubt that gross carelessness was manifested in the construction of the fire-rooms of the boat, or this accident would not have taken place. When we consider that so much of American life and property is intrusted to the care of commanders of vessels and steamboat engineers ; to conductors ot railroad trains and their engineers, these men should form the most solid, careful, able, cautious, and moral men in our whole country. We do not say that they are less moral than the-generality of our fellow citizens, nay, they are far above many, but they should all, as we have stated, rank high for moral qualities. The different systems of public carrying has a tendency to deaden moral perception and feeling. The continual attention, day and night, Sunday as j well as Saturday, required of those who car-j ry passengers on rivers, lakes, seas, and by land, operates injuriously upon their consciences. Engineers of railroad trains and j steamboats are generally careful men; they know they are the most liable to suffer the evil consequences of any neglect on their part —their employers are most to blame, for they, in too many cases, demand too much from them. The state of our railroads,—their construction in reference to numerous cross-Pi ings, &c, tends to distract the attention of loft comotive engineers—they have too much to look after at once. Can any person doubt that the construction of the two railroads, crossing one another where the foregoing accident took place, was not the real cause of such a sacrifice of human life. Would the accident ever have taken place had these opposing roads not stupidly and wickedly intersected one another ? It would not. Let us look well, then, to our systems of public carrying —on land and sea—and see if the moral evil is not in them. We believe it is ; and as an evil tree cannot bring forth good truit, neither can conductors of trains nor engineers prevent accidents when they are themselves but the instruments of bad systems. While we say this much in respect to bad systems, let us also say that unless proper persons—moral conductors and engineers— are employed on our railroads, the most perfect systems will not prevent accidents. Of this we have had sad evidence by another and more horribia railroad accident than the one referred to, An account of this accident will be found on another page, and from the evidence presented, it appears to us that the real cause of it was extreme recklessness on the part of the conductor and engineer— a fearful exhibition of the want of morality in public carriers.
This article was originally published with the title "The Morality of Public Carriers"