After the stunning reading of Evergreen the beautiful tome that the Johns Hopkins University Press dedicates at The Garrett Family and their legacy in terms of philantropism and culture my fascination for this Irish family continued.
The best thing to do was to request John W. Garrett and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad by Kathleen Waters Sander.
Published by Johns Hopkins University Press this one is more than a historical book: it's the fusion I would say between the personal story of John W. Garrett, his family and the one of a city, Baltimore and a railroad, the B&O Baltimore and Ohio. Maryland and Baltimore in search of visibility and competitions with other cities like Boston, New York at the beginning of 1800.
The USA a country in ferment, evolution also thanks to new modalities of communications developed for facilitating commerce and of course trips like the B&O railroad was born for.
People of Baltimore started to think that maybe the idea of British, a railroad, could be taken in great consideration.
It's a common saying everywhere I guess: where there is a railroad there is a different atmosphere and cities more opened, more friendly, more accessible under many aspects. A railroad brings more vitality.
This one is the story of a city and various people, most of them influential and busy for trying to better the country where they lived in.
The story of Family Garrett is beautiful.
John the patriarch left Ireland for the USA with a lot of children and his wife in search of fortune. A trip in one of that ships plenty of hopes, dreams, desires, new life somewhere else.
The main idea was to continuing the work in a farm at first once arrived in the new world, and Garrett had some relatives in the East Coast. Unfortunately during the trip John died. Robert Garrett one of John's children didn't like farm's works and tried something else becoming a merchant and once married was convinced by his wife to return to Baltimore. His fortune started to bloom and the one of the Garretts the realization of the American Dream.
His males children John W. Garrett and Henry first of all, there is a sister as well and Robert lost two children as well, studied in good schools before to start to work for him.
John was the most private, closed one, Henry the sociable guy, easy going in comparison to his brother.
The two will be crucial for the future development of the B&O. Great friends with Johns Hopkins, John W. Garrett will become President of the B&O with the blessing and thanks to Johns Hopkins for so many years, from 1858 to 1880. He was nicknamed the Czar of Maryland, because of his power and his influence.
To him the vitality of B&O railroad was crucial. His brother during the Secession War thought that the cause of the South more than correct. Let's remember that the South supported and continued to want to use the work of black slaves for their plantation of cottons.
The North thought that this one was truly unfair and that everyone, black, white, needed a chance in a free country.
This discussion brought at the Secession War of 1861 ended up with the complete defeats of the South in 1865.
John supported the North and he tried all his best for helping the so-called Yankees also thanks to the railroad, attached more than 100 times in the while during the war.
Henry died after the Secession War and John tried all his best for cleaning up the Secessionist past of his brother, remembering him with remarkable initiatives.
Garrett was the brain and mind of the B&O per decades and not all the time was simple, but it was a great adventure, while the wealth of the family grew up enormously.
When he died, a broken heart because of the departure of his very beloved wife ten months before John W Garrett left his so loved B&O in a very good state.
John W. Garrett has been a great philanthropist although Peabody and Johns Hopkins created the guidelines and models for future donations.
I fell in love for this book at first because of the cover, it's stunningly colored and warm.
Inside a lot of pictures about the making of the railroad, a lot of pictures of family Garrett and of most of the protagonists of this book.
I highly suggest this book to everyone. It will be an appreciated gift.
I thank Johns Hopkins University for the physical copy of this beautiful book.
Anna Maria Polidori