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Major Thompson Says Goodbye
Major Thompson Says Goodbye
Major M. Jeff Thompson was soon to leave St. Joseph to become a famous Confederate general. This is a sample of his oratory the day he initiated the Pony Express:

"This is a great day in the history of St. Joseph. For more than a decade she has been the portal through which passed the wagon trains for the great west. Now she is to become the connecting link between the extremes of the continents. For the first time in the history of America, mail will go by an overland route from east to west. The time will come when steam will drive a railroad train through those fastness' and bear passengers from St. Joseph to California in less than a week.

"I see you smile, my fellow citizens, and nudge each other at the idea I am harboring. Some of you are saying, 'Jeff is dreaming as usual of the impossible and unknown, 'but I tell you all that, as sure as I stand here, the day will come when at this very town you may board a train which will take you through the gold fields, and that within a very few years.

"More than that, I say to you the wilderness which lies between us will blossom as the rose, cities will spring into existence where the Indians and buffalo now hold possession. Mountains will be tunneled, streams bridged and the iron monster which has become mankind's slave will ply between our confines and those far distant shores. As the Indian vanishes, the white man takes his place. Commercial activities will replace the teepee and the campfire. Schools and colleges will spring into existence and the refinements of civilization will span the continent.

"Of all these things, the California Overland Express is the forerunner. Hardly will the cloud of dust which envelopes the galloping pony subside before the puff of steam will be seen upon the horizon. Citizens of St. Joseph, I bid you three cheers for the Pony Express - three cheers for the first overland passage of the United States Mail."