The Past is a Foreign...Something

Eyes on the Prize

Or, Yes, This Was For Serious

Americans are competitive; they always have been. We’re obsessed with keeping score, outmaneuvering rivals.

This is especially true when it comes to making money. Just as today we’re concerned about whether or not China is winning the recession, so too in earlier times, competition with Eastern powers was on the menu.

Opium Compete

The answer, obviously, was hells yes.

After all, argued Emanuel Weiss in the pages of the famed Southern journal of politics and business, DeBow’s Review, there was now evidence that Eastern fauna was a boon to the West, so why not flora?

Now that the usefulness of the camel on our south-western frontier has been acknowledged by government, the proposition to import in the same time some camels from Smyrna or Alexandria, along with the date palm, the fig, the olive, the sesame and the poppy seed, will, I expect, no more be scoffed at, as it was the case when I first started this idea…

Just when you think the 19th century can’t get weirder…

1.) Emanuel Weiss, “OPIUM–CAN WE COMPETE WITH THE EAST IN ITS PRODUCTION?” DeBow’s Review and Industrial Resources, Statistics, etc. Devoted to Commerce, Agriculture, Manufactures (New Orleans), January 1856, p. 60 et seq.

Image cite: squacco, “The face of evil,” Flickr, CC License