AFTER twelve months spent in the arrangement of my affairs, I have embarked in comfort with the greatest part of my family in quest of a new settlement in the western wilderness.
We sailed on the 30th of March from Gravesend, on board the good ship America, of 500 tons burthen, Captain Heth, for Richmond, Virginia. Oar party occupies both the cabin and steerage, excepting two strangers in the latter who are well-behaved, unobtrusive persons.
The captain is an agreeable and most friend man, and our accommodations are excellent we have had variety of winds and weather, but mostly favourable: some of us have suffered from sea-sickness, but we are now generally in good health, and our spirits seem to partake of the buoyancy of the noble vessel, which is conveying us so cheerfully towards the place of our voluntary exile.
Having had the advantage of communicating
6with many respectable and well informed Americans during this year of preparation, I have acquired some knowledge of the United States, as well as great store of introductory letters. A kind friend also put into my hands, just before our departure, a series of Geographical Works, lately published by Mr. Melish of Philadelphia. With the information derived from these and other sources, I feel qualified to enter with the more confidence on the task before me; and I am in hopes that a journal of my proceedings may prove useful to others, under similar circumstances, by way of warning or encouragement, as the event may prove of my own experience; and that my readers may accompany me with greater satisfaction and advantage, I shall premise something about myself, my motives, and plans, which will enable them to form a more just estimate of my opinions; I hope, however, in so doing I shall not merit the imputation of egotism.
In the first place, being neither well able nor well disposed to combat the extremes of heat and cold which prevail to the east of the Alleghany mountains, I have pre-determined to pitch my tent to the westward of that ridge, and to the southward of Lake Erie, under a climate recommended by the concurrent testimony of all travellers, as temperate, salubrious and delightful.
Again, — Slavery, "that broadest, foulest blot,"
7which still prevails over so large a portion of the United States, will circumscribe my choice within still narrower limits; for, if political liberty be so precious, that to obtain it, I can forego the well-earned comforts of an English home, it must not be to degrade myself and corrupt my children by the practice of slave-keeping.
This curse has taken fast hold of Kentucky, Tenessee, and all the new states to the south; therefore, my enquiries will be confined to the western part of Pennsylvania, and the states of Ohio, Indiana and the territory of Illinois; thus, in the immense field before us, the object of our search will be found, if found at all, within a comparatively narrow space.
To this main object I shall apply myself immediately, and deferring to a future opportunity the pleasure of travelling through the Atlantic States, I intend on my arrival, to repair west-ward with all convenient speed, in order to take a deliberate survey of those western regions, with the hope of fixing on the place of our final settlement before the ensuing winter.
Before I enter on these new cares and toils, I must take a parting glance at those I have left behind; and they are of a nature unhappily too familiar to a large proportion of my countrymen, to require description.
How many are there, who, having capitals
8in business which would be equal to their support at simple interest, are submitting to privations under the name of economy, which are near a-kin to the sufferings of poverty; and denying themselves the very comforts of life to escape taxation; and yet their difficulties increase, their capitals moulder away, and the resources fail on which they had relied for the future establishment of their families.
A nation, with half its population supported by alms, or poor-rates, and one fourth of its income derived from taxes, many of which are dried up in their sources, or speedily becoming so, must teem with emigrants from one end to the other: and, for such as myself, who have had "nothing to do with the laws but to obey them," it is quite reasonable and just to secure a timely retreat from the approaching crisis — either of anarchy or despotism.
An English farmer, to which class I had the honour to belong, is in possession of the same rights and privileges with the Villeins of old time, and exhibits for the most part, a suitable political character. He has no voice in the appointment of the legislature unless he happen to possess a freehold of forty shillings a year, and he is then expected to vote in the interest of his landlord: he has no concern with public affairs excepting as a tax-payer, a parish officer, or a militia man. He has no right to appear at
9a county meeting, unless the word inhabitant should find its way into the sheriff's invitation: in this case he may shew his face among the nobility, clergy, and freeholders: — a felicity which once occurred to myself, when the inhabitants of Surrey were invited to assist the gentry in crying down the Income Tax.
Thus, having no elective franchise, an English farmer can scarcely be said to have a political existence, and political duties he has none, except such, as under existing circumstances, would inevitably consign him to the special guardianship of the Secretary of State for the home department.
In exchanging the condition of an English farmer for that of an American proprietor, I expect to suffer many inconveniences; but I am willing to make a great sacrifice of present ease, were it merely for the sake of obtaining in the decline of life, an exemption from that wearisome solicitude about pecuniary affairs, from which even the affluent find no refuge, in England; and for my children, a career of enterprise, and wholesome family connections, in a society whose institutions are favourable to virtue; atleast the consolation of leaving them efficient members of a flourishing, public-spirited; energetic community, where the insolence of wealth, and the servility of pauperism, between which in England, there is scarcely an interval remaining are alike unknown.
That institutions favourable to virtue, shall produce effects correspondent to their character upon the society blessed with them, is a conclusion so natural, that we should be inclined to suspect an error in our estimate of the institutions themselves, if we found a vicious people under a good government.
It is possible, however, that political virtue may exist in considerable purity, where the moral sense has been depraved by pre-existing habits, still more powerful in their influence on the general character than political principles; and such an effect I anticipate from the present establishment of slavery in the southern States, and its former toleration in all.
But if we find these states rank higher in the scale of morals than the West India colonies, where slavery prevails, but where political virtue can scarcely have an existence, and especially if they have improved with the improvement of their government, these States will afford a confirmation of the rule, that political virtue is a moral good; whilst a superiority in the morals of those states where slavery has been abolished — shows, that slavery is, in truth, the bane of society.
With these anticipations I prepare myself for an introduction into the State of Virginia, which takes so high a position in the political scale, though under the deteriorating influence of this calamity.
May 2. After a series of baffling winds and boisterous weather, we find ourselves on the Western, or inside of the Gulph Stream, and of course not far from our destination. Yesterday the temperature of the air was 65, and of the water 71. To-day the air remains at 65, but the water has fallen to 50. We have, therefore, crossed this warm ocean river, which flows from the Gulph of Mexico with a northerly and north easterly course, until it meets the melting ice to the south of the great Bank of Newfoundland.
May 3. Last night we lay at anchor in Hampton Roads, and this morning I accompanied the captain in the pilot-boat to Norfolk, fourteen miles off, to make entry of the ship at the Custom House. This is a large town of 10,000 inhabitants; the streets are in right lines, sufficiently spacious, with wide paved causeways before the houses, which are good-looking and cleanly. A large market house in the centre of the principal street, with negroes selling for their masters, fine vegetables, and bad meat, the worst I ever saw, and dearer than the best in England. Veal, such as never was exposed in an English market 10 1/2 per lb.; lamb of similar quality and price. Most wretched horses waiting, without food or shelter, to drag home the carts which had brought in the provisions; — but worst of all, the multitudes of negroes, many of them miserable creatures, others cheerfulful
12enough; but on the whole, this first glimpse of a slave population is extremely depressing. And is it, thought I, to be a member of such a society that I have quitted England!
Norfolk is fourteen miles from our anchorage off Cape Comfort. The pilot-boat took us thither in sixty-five minutes, and was about the same time in returning. After dinner, we proceeded about twenty miles up James River, towards City Point, which is our destination; about one hundred from its mouth, and fifty below Richmond.
The river with its edging of pines and cedars, of various tints, which seem to grow out of the water, so low is the country, — is grand and beautiful, beyond all that I had conceived of American rivers. Although perfectly flat, the indentures of its course relieve the scenery from the dullness, that a continuance of pines on a level surface would otherwise occasion.
May 4. Forty-three miles up Cape Henry, where we passed the night, the river is still fourteen miles in breadth. This day we proceeded fifty-three miles.
The improving character of the country and the indescribable beauty of the river, render our voyage extremely pleasant. I was employed with a telescope incessantly, exploring every cultivated spot, and every habitation; — so interesting is all that we behold on our first introduction
13to a foreign land. Plantations are more numerous, and the buildings much more respectable as we advance. The banks of the river are no longer a mere fringe of pines, but soil of a good quality, rising in some places many feet above the surface, and covered with timber of various sorts, locust, mulberry, walnut, sycamore, &c. A fondness for planting discovers itself even in this wilderness of trees. The Lombardy poplar, is a favourite accompaniment to the best mansions, rising in gloomy columns to a great height above the surrounding forest.
We passed Little Guinea, a tract given by a planter to his negroes whom he liberated. We saw many of their cabins, and small inclosures, which appeared to be but indifferently cultivated. This gentleman's proceeding was not well relished by his neighbours; and the negroes have a bad character for thieving — deservedly I dare say, for slavery is a school of depravity, and their equivocal or degraded station among whites, is unfavourable to their moral improvement.
There are along the river the ruins of many houses, which I was told had been accidentally burnt by the negroes, whose carelessness is productive of infinite mischief.
May 6. Harrison's Bar — This is a shoal of mud, which greatly impedes the navigation, and in which we must be contented to lie until
14the next tide, and we may easily content ourselves, as it is a bend of the river, which is surrounded by all that is beautiful in woodland scenery, in the gayest dress of spring. We are fixed about the middle of the stream, which is four miles wide. Several rich plantations and substantial dwellings are in view. We made a morning call on Mr. — and sat an hour with the ladies. The well cultivated fields, and the goodness and comfort of the entire establishment gave us all great pleasure, and reminding us of home, seemed to assure us of homes in America.
As a security from fire, or to favour escape from it, a ladder is fixed on the roof, reaching from a garret window to the ridge, and down the other side: — It is an expedient in many houses, and denotes extraordinary fear, or extraordinary danger. I was informed, that the carelessness of the negroes rendered such precautions necessary.
May 7. Vessels at City Point, are under the superintendance of the Custom House at Petersburg, about 15 miles distant. It was necessary for me to attest to the contents of my baggage, and for the captain to enter his cargo: so we hired a gig, of which I took the command, and proceeded to Petersburg. As my baggage was bulky enough to contain merchandise to a large amount, which would have been liable to a duty of nearly 30 per cent., I have to commend
15the liberality of the officers who suffered it to pass on my affidavit, without opening.
Petersburg is growing into a place of importance, being the emporium of export and import to a large district. Tobacco is the staple produce; and every article of British or German manufacture, the return.
It is not quite two years since half the town was destroyed by a fire, occasioned by some negroes playing at cards in a stable, and it is already nearly rebuilt in the most substantial manner. Two hundred capital brick houses were built last year. This vigorous revival under a calamity so general is a strong proof of general prosperity.
It was the time of the races at Petersburg, which gave me the opportunity of seeing a large assemblage of planters, and of being introduced to a considerable number of well-informed persons of that class.
A Virginian tavern resembles a French one with its table dhote, (though not in the excellence of its cookery) but somewhat exceeds it in filth, as it does an English one in charged. The daily number of guests at the ordinary in this tavern (and there are several large taverns in Petersburg) is fifty, consisting of travellers, store-keepers, lawyers and doctors.
A Virginian planter is a republican in politics, and exhibits the high-spirited independence
16of that character: but he is a slavemaster, irascible, and too often lax in morals. A dirk is said to be a common appendage to the dress of a planter in this part of Virginia.
I never saw in England an assemblage of countrymen who would average so well as to dress and manners: none of them reached any thing like style; and very few descended to the shabby.
As it rained heavily, every body was confined the whole day to the tavern, after the race, which took place in the forenoon. The conversation which this afforded me an opportunity of hearing, gave me a high opinion of the intellectual cultivation of these Virginian farmers.
Negro slavery was the prevailing topic — the beginning, the middle and the end — an evil uppermost in every man's thoughts; which all deplored, many were anxious to fly, but for which no man can devise a remedy. One gentleman in a poor state of health, dared not encounter the rain, but was wretched at the thought of his family being for one night without his protection — from his own slaves! He was suffering under the effects of a poisonous potion, administered by a negro, who was his personal servant, to whom he had given indulgences and privileges unknown to the most favoured valet of an English gentlemen. This happened in consequence of some slight unintentional affront on
17the part of the indulgent master. It is stated as a melancholy-fact, that severe masters seldom suffer from their slaves' resentment,
This day the captain paid off the crew, who, almost to a man, immediately assembled round the grog-store of the village, and having escaped from the restraints of discipline and taken in a copious supply of whiskey, they engaged in a general fight, and shewed themselves to be little better than a ferocious banditti, with whom we had been so long cooped up, within the narrow limits of the vessel.
May 9. The steam-boat which plies between Norfolk and Richmond received us about nine o'clock in the morning; and, with some feeling of regret we took a final leave of the good ship America, but not of our captain, who was to rejoin us at Richmond.
The steam-boat is a floating hotel, fitted up with much taste and neatness, with accommodations for both board and lodging. The ladies have their separate apartment and a female to attend them. Here we found ourselves at once in the society of about thirty persons, who appeared to be as polite, well dressed, and well instructed as if they had been repairing to the capital of Great Britain, instead of the capital of Virginia. We had a delightful passage, and reached Richmond about seven o'clock in the evening.
May 10. After delivering sundry letters
18of introduction, we were anxious to secure a retreat from the crowded tavern which received us from the steam-boat last evening. The elegant and cool abodes of the agreeable people to whom we had presented our recommendatory letters, formed such a contrast with the heat and bustle of an inn, that we were determined at all events to make our escape before the approach of another night. After searching the town through and through, we made our retreat most gladly into two rooms in a lodging house, where we were the more comfortable, from having learnt on board ship, to find many conveniences in a narrow space.
Richmond contains 13,000 inhabitants, nearly half of which are negroes. The hill, on which stands the Capitol, a building of commanding aspect, is inhabited by the more opulent merchants, and professional men, who have their offices in the lower town. Their houses are handsome and elegantly furnished, and their establishments and style of living display much of the refinement of polished society. The town is generally well built, and increasing rapidly, whilst but little provision seems to be made in the country round for the accommodation of its inhabitants. The market is badly supplied: the common necessaries of life are excessively dear, and excepting the article of bread, of bad quality. Eggs are 2 1/2d, each; butter, 3s. 6d.
19per lb.; meat of the worst description, is per lb. milk 4 1/2d. a pint: hay is two dollars (9s.) per 100 lb. It is worse supplied and at a dearer rate than any other place of equal size in the United States, or perhaps in the world.
The town is forced up by the stimulus of commerce, whilst the surrounding country is groaning under the torpid influence of slavery: the cultivators are said to be jealous of its rising prosperity, instead of availing themselves, as they might, of the advantages it would afford as a market for their produce.
House rent is high beyond example; that in which we have apartments, though in a back street, and not very large or well finished, lets at 1400 dollars, or 300 guineas, a year: a warehouse, or store, is commonly Å200 a year. In short, the demands for town accommodations of every kind, arising from the accession of strangers, greatly exceeds the supply, though building is going on in every direction. Ground sells currently on building speculations at 10,000 dollars per acre, and in some of the streets near the river, at 200 dollars per foot in front.
The enterprizing people are mostly strangers; Scotch, Irish, and especially New England men, or Yankees, as they are called, who fill every house as soon as it is finished.
About 25,000 hogsheads of tobacco, and 200,000 barrels of flour, have been the yearly
20export of the country through the hands of the merchants of Richmond; and probably a great part of the proceeds may have returned through the same channel in articles of import. This added to the internal consumption of a large town, and of the shipping employed in this commerce, forms an aggregate of great importance. The falls of James River, extending for five miles above Richmond, afford admirable mill seats. There are several fine flour mills; some of them turn eight pair of stones, and can grind and dress 1000 barrels of flour per. week. To grind 95 bushels of wheat per day is reckoned the work of a pair of stones. A canal is formed by lockage parallel with these rapids, by which produce is brought down in long barges, capable of containing twenty-five hogsheads of tobacco.
May 10. I saw two female slaves and their children sold by auction in the street, — an incident of common occurrence here, though horrifying to myself and many other strangers. I could hardly bear to see them handled and examined like cattle; and when I heard their sobs, and saw the big tears roll down their cheeks at the thoughts of being separated, I could not refrain from weeping with them. In selling these unhappy beings little regard is had to the parting of the nearest relations. Virginia prides itself on the comparative mildness of its treatment
21of the slaves; and in fact they Increase in numbers, many being annually supplied from this state to those farther south, where the treatment is said to be much more severe. There are regular dealers, who buy them up and drive them in gangs, chained together, to a southern market. I am informed that few weeks pass without some of them being marched through this place. A traveller told me that he saw, two weeks ago, one hundred and twenty sold by auction, in the streets of Richmond; and that they filled the air with their lamentations.
It has also been confidently alledged that the condition of slaves in Virginia, under the mild treatment they are said to experience, is preferable to that of our English labourers. I know and lament the degrading state of dependent poverty, to which the latter have been gradually reduced, by the operation of laws originally designed for their comfort and protection. I know also, that many slaves pass their lives in comparative ease, and seem to be unconscious of their bonds, and that the most wretched of our paupers might envy the allotment of the happy negro: this is not, however, instituting a fair comparison, to bring the opposite extremes of the two classes into competition. Let us take a view of some particulars which operate generally.
In England, exertion is not the result of personal fear: in Virginia, it is the prevailing stimulus.
The slave is punished for mere indolence, at the discretion of an overseer: — The peasant is only punished by the law when guilty of a crime.
In England, the labourer and his employer are equal in the eye of the law: here, the law affords the slave no protection, unless a white man gives testimony in his favour.
Here, any white man may insult a black with impunity; whilst the English peasant, should he receive a blow from his employer, might and would return it with interest, and afterwards have his remedy at law for the aggression.
The testimony of a peasant weighs as much as that of a lord in a court of justice; but the testimony of a slave is never admitted at all, in a case where a white man is opposed to him.
A few weeks ago, in the streets of Richmond, a friend of mine saw a white boy wantonly throw quick-lime in the face of a negro-man. The man shook the lime from his jacket, and some of it accidentally reached the eyes of the young brute. This casual retaliation excited the resentment of the brother of the boy, who complained to the slave's owner, and actually had him punished with thirty lashes. This would not have happened to an English peasant.
I must, however, do this justice to the slave master of Virginia: it was not from him that I ever heard a defence of slavery; some extenuation on the score of expediency, or necessity,
23is the utmost range now taken by that description of reasoners, who, in former times, would have attempted to support the principle as well as the practice.
Perhaps it is in its depraving influence on the moral sense of both slave and master, that slavery is most deplorable. Brutal cruelty, we may hope, is a rare and transient mischief; bat the degradation of soul is universal, and, as it should seem, from the general character of free negroes, indelible.
All America is now suffering in morals through the baneful influence of negro slavery, partially tolerated, corrupting justice at the very source.
May 13. Here is a grand stir about a monument to the memory of General Washington, and about transferring his remains from their own appropriate abode to the city of Richmond; as though Washington could be forgotten Whilst America retains her independence! Let republicans leave bones, and relics, and costly monuments to monks and kings: free America is the mausoleum of its deliverers, who may say to posterity, "Si quaeris monumentum, circumspice."
It would be well, however, for the patriots of Richmond to repair the mutilated bust of La Fayette in their Capitol, which now stands an object of horror and derision; — La Fayette
24the friend of their hero, and his faithful, disinterested, and zealous associate.
There is a common feeling, a political sympathy between the wealthy federalists of the American cities, and the loyal anti-reformists of Great Britain. Federalism seems to favour a sort of whiggish aristocracy; but the spirit of the people at large, and of the ruling part in the government, is of a different complexion.
The society here is good, but not remarkable for intellectual activity; yet, if literary pursuits are in no great request with the citizens of Richmond, they are eminent in urbanity and real politeness.
May 15. Accompanied Dr. A. with a party of his friends to the Chickahoming river, to view an improvement which he has conducted on a new principle. He has cleared one hundred and forty acres of marshy land, by simply girdling the trees, hoeing the surface, and sowing herb-grass; (an agrostis, I fancy, but could not find it in bloom:) this is the second year, and he expects to mow two tons of hay per acre, which will be worth at Richmond, five or six miles off, eighteen pounds sterling.
This extraordinary profit is owing to the strange state of things at this place, where the supply of the commonest articles is inadequate to the demand; but I believe it to be the right mode of management of land favourable for grass, where grain is low and labour high.
May 16. Visited Mr. W.'s farm, about twelve miles up the river, above Richmond: on it are three hundred acres of wheat, as clean and good as I ever saw on one farm, in any country, and a large breadth of good clover: Indian corn to a great extent very effectually cultivated with the horse and hand hoe; and, on the whole, with the exception of live stock, which is neglected, I saw as good husbandry as would be expected in some well-managed districts in Great Britain.
A flat of rich alluvial soil, about a mile in breadth accompanying the river, is the only part of this country that appears to be worth cultivating: the rest is for the most part a pine forest, as poor nearly as our heaths, extending from the sea coast to the high country, which skirts the Alleghany mountains. The soil of these high lands is strong and fruitful, forming the most agreeable portion of the state.
Something like the above character, I have been informed, is applicable to the Atlantic country generally.
May 19. In two hacks, which are light coaches with two horses, and a Jersey waggon and one horse for the baggage, we have had a pleasant journey of two days to this place: the distance sixty-nine miles.
|Expence of Carriages||70 Dollars|
|— on the Road||33|
This, for nine persons, amounts to almost fifty-two shillings sterling each; — dear, but very agreeable travelling.
The country, from Richmond to Fredericksburg is a barren sandy level, relieved occasionally by a stripe of better soil, on the banks of a rivulet, and near the latter place, by a little undulation of surface, and a soil containing reddish loam.
The road would be good during great part of the year, if a small degree of attention was directed to particular spots, trifling in extent, but very dangerous.
Neglect of the public convenience and safety, where little more is wanting than attention, attaches blame and disgrace somewhere. A few dollars, properly applied to a fault or two on the road to City Point from Petersburg, would render it safe, and even delightful, — the same of the road from Richmond to Fredericksburg. Works of great extent and cost may not suit the state of this country, where the scope for improvement is so vast in proportion to the means; but the neglect of these petty local improvements, so essential to the comfort and safety of travellers, appears unpardonable.
On taking leave of Virginia, I must observe, that I found more misery in the condition of the negroes, and a much higher tone of moral feeling in their owners than I had anticipated; and I depart confirmed in my detestation of slavery, in
27principle and practice; but with esteem for the general character of the Virginians.
From Fredericksburg we took the stage to the River Potowmack, where we were received by the Washington steam-boat. This country is hilly and extremely pleasant, the soil not naturally rich, and seems to be exhausted by severe cropping. Our ride afforded new perils, which might be prevented at a small expence, and which now serve to evince the excellence of the drivers and horses, and the wonderful strength of their slight-looking vehicles.
The Potowmack, upwards, from our entering the steam-boat, flows through a bold country, and its banks are adorned with houses in fine situations, among which stands conspicuous Mount Vernon, the residence of the illustrious Washington.
The Federal City contains, including George Town, which is only separated from it by the river, about 20,000 inhabitants, scattered over a vast space, like a number of petty hamlets in a populous country. The intended streets, radiating from the capital in right lines, are, for the most part, only distinguishable from the rugged waste by a slight trace, like that of a newly-formed road or in some instances, by rows of Lombardy poplars, affording neither ornament, nor shade, but evincing the exotic taste of the designer.
The Capitol and the President's house are under repair from the damage sustained in the war. Ninety marble capitals have been imported at vast cost from Italy, to crown the columns of the Capitol and shew how un-American is the whole plan. There is nothing in America to which I can liken this affectation of splendor, except the painted face, and gaudy head-dress of a half-naked Indian.
This embryo metropolis, with its foreign decorations, should have set a better example to the young republic, by surrounding itself first with good roads and substantial bridges, in lieu of those inconvenient wooden structures and dangerous roads, over which the legislators must now pass to their duty. I think too, that good taste would have preferred native decoration for the seat of the legislature.
From Washington to Fredericktown, in Maryland (45 miles) the country is poor, rugged, and badly cultivated, until we approach the latter, where limestone first appears, and with it an obvious improvement in soil and culture. Here begins a most beautiful district, extending through Hagar's Town to the Blue Ridge. This is rather a hilly, than a mountainous country, though approaching the character of mountain in its formation, which is mica and clay slate, alternating with limestone.
McConnel's Town, May 23. The road we
29have been travelling terminates at this place, where it strikes the great turnpike from Philadelphia to Pittsburg; and with the road, ends the line of stages, by which we have been travelling; a circumstance of which we knew nothing, until our arrival here, having entered ourselves passengers at George Town, for Pittsburg, by the Pittsburg stage, as it professed to be.
So here we are, nine in number, one hundred and thirty miles of mountain country between us and Pittsburg. We learn that the stages which pass daily from Philadelphia and Baltimore are generally full, and that there are now many persons at Baltimore waiting for places. No vehicles of any kind are to be hired, and here we must, either stay or walk off: the latter we prefer; and separating each our bundle, from the little that we have of travelling stores, we are about to undertake our mountain pilgrimage; accepting the alternative most cheerfully, after the dreadful shaking of the last hundred miles by stage.
This is called the Alleghany Ridge, which is loftier than the Blue Ridge, and is apparently newer in formation: its composition is chiefly sand-stone, clay-slate, and limestone-slate; the latter with lamina of petrosilex parallel to the limestone.
Maryland and Pennsylvania abound with horses of the good old English breed; with great bone, of beautiful form and denoting a
30strain of high blood. The old English hunter raised to a stout coach-horse, but comprising all degrees of strength and size down to hackneys of fourteen hands: none of those wretched dog-horses, which disgrace Virginia, are to be seen here.
We have now fairly turned our backs on the old world, and find ourselves in the very stream of emigration. Old America seems to be breaking up, and moving westward. We are seldom out of sight, as we travel on this grand track, towards the Ohio, of family groups behind and before us, some with a view to a particular spot; close to a brother, perhaps, or a friend, who has gone before and reported well of the country. Many, like ourselves, when they arrive in the wilderness, will find no lodge prepared for them.
A small waggon (so light that you might almost carry it, yet strong enough to bear a good load of bedding, utensils and provisions, and a swarm of young citizens, — and to sustain marvellous shocks in its passage over these rocky heights) with two small horses; sometimes a cow or two, comprises their all; excepting a little store of hard-earned cash, for the land office of the district; where they may obtain a title for as many acres as they possess half dollars, being one fourth of the purchase-money. The waggon has a tilt, or cover, made of a
31sheet, or perhaps a blanket. The family are seen before, behind, or within the vehicle, according to the road or weather, or perhaps the spirits of the party.
The New Englanders, they say, may be known by the cheerful air of the women advancing in front of the vehicle; the Jersey people by their being fixed steadily within it; whilst the Pennsylvanians creep lingering behind, as though regretting the homes they have left. A cart and single horse frequently afford the means of transfer, sometimes a horse and pack-saddle. Often the back of the poor pilgrim bears all his effects, and his wife follows, naked-footed, bending under the hopes of the family.
The mountain tract we have passed is exceedingly romantic as well as fertile, and is generally cultivated in a good style, excepting the rudest parts. It would be a delightful country to inhabit, but for the rigour of the winter. The temperature of the spring is 50: at Richmond it was 57.
A blacksmith here earns 20 dollars per month, and board; and he lives in a cabin of one room, for which, with a garden, he pays 20 dollars a year. Fire-wood is two dollars per cord: — the Price is merely the labour, as is, in fact, a great part of what you pay for every thing. Thus, nothing but land is cheap in this country, excepting British goods, and they are not cheap
32to the consumer, because the store-keeper sells his own labour at a dear rate. Land will long be at a low price; but as produce hardly keeps pace with the population, the latter is proportionably dear. Therefore agriculture is and will be a safe and profitable occupation. As to manufactures, they will rise as they are wanted, and if they rise spontaneously, they will flourish without extraneous aid.
There cannot, as yet, be much capital to spare, for any kind of manufacture; and it appears to be bad policy toencourage, as it is called, particular branches; because the direct consequence of this partial favour is, the diverting a portion of the scanty capital from those which need no encouragement, and to employ it where the profits are precarious: by such officious interference, a real good in possession, is sacrificed for a doubtful speculation, — substance for shadow.
May 26. We have completed our third day's march to general satisfaction. We proceed nearly as fast as our fellow-travellers in carriages, and much more pleasantly, so that we have almost forgotten our indignation against the pitiful and fraudulent master of George Town; so apt are we to measure the conduct of other people, by the standard of our convenience, rather than its own merit.
This is a land of plenty, and we are proceeding to a land of abundance, as is proved by the
33noble droves of oxen we meet on their way from the western country to the city of Philadelphia. They are kindly, well formed, and well fed animals, averaging about six cwt.
A flock of sheep, properly speaking, has not met my eyes in America; nor a tract of good sheep pasture. Twenty or thirty half-starved creatures are seen now and then straggling about in much wretchedness. These supply a little wool for domestic use. Cattle are good and plentiful, and horses excellent.
May 27. Stotler's Inn, summit of the Alleghany Ridge. Temperature of springs 47, Farenheit: — air at noon 73.
Cherries in blossom: — Kalmia latifolia in bud: — Laurustinus coming into bloom: — Trees in general bursting their buds or shewing the tender leaf.
At City Point below Richmond, Virginia, kalmia latifolia was in full bloom on the 5th of May; and early cherries were ripe at Richmond on May the tenth.
The Alleghany mountains are chiefly schistose. Clay-slate predominates, then mica-slate, limestone-slate, and sand-stone-slate. The schistose character is interrupted in some places, by tracts of sand-stone in large blocks; the sand-stone appears to be a secondary formation from the disintegration of mica-slate.
This entire mountainous range is distinguished
34from all others that I have seen by its being almost entirely covered with wood. The slaty formation affords great facility to the growth of trees, and may account for this peculiarity.
May 28. The condition of the people of America is so different from aught that we in Europe have an opportunity of observing, that it would be difficult to convey an adequate notion of their character.
They are great travellers; and in general better acquainted with the vast expanse of country, spreading over their eighteen states, (of which Virginia alone nearly equals Great Britain in extent,) than the English with their little island.
They are also a migrating people; and even when in prosperous circumstances, can contemplate a change of situation, which under our old establishments and fixed habits, none, but the most enterprising, would venture upon, when urged by adversity.
To give an idea of the internal movements of this vast hive, about 12,000 waggons passed between Baltimore and Philadelphia, in the last year, with from four to six horses, carrying from thirty-five to forty cwt. The cost of carriage is about seven dollars per cwt., from Philadelphia to Pittsburg, and the money paid for the conveyance of goods on this road, exceeds Å300,000 sterling. Add to these the numerous stages
35loaded to the utmost, and the innumerable travellers, on horseback, on foot, and in light waggons, and you have before you a scene of bustle and business, extending over a space of three hundred miles, which is truly wonderful.
When, on our voyage, we approached within twenty leagues of the American coast, we were cheered by the sight of ships in every direction. Up James River, vessels of all sorts and sizes, from five hundred tons downwards, continually passing; and steam-boats crowded with passengers. The same on the Potowmack: and in the winter, when the navigation is interrupted by frost, stages, twelve or fourteen in file, are seen posting along, to supply the want of that luxurious accommodation.
But what is most at variance with English notions of the American people, is the urbanity and civilization that prevail in situations remote from large cities. In our journey from Norfolk, on the coast of Virginia, to this place, in the heart of the AIleghany mountains, we have not for a moment lost sight of the manners of polished life. Refinement is unquestionably far more rare, than in our mature and highly cultivated state of society; but so is extreme vulgarity. In every department of common life, we here see employed persons superior in habits and education to the same class in England. We received the first impression of this superiority
36from the character of the pilot, whom we welcomed on board off Cape Henry: he was a well-informed and agreeable man; as we should have said, much above his station; but in this we should have erred, for we found his comrades of a similar description. Next occurred the custom-house officer, who was a gentlemanly youth, without a shade of the disagreeable character which prevails among his European brethren. He staid with us several days, and was succeeded by a second of the same respectable stamp. These officers of revenue are better paid here than with us; and are considered as respectable persons, employed in an honourable service, which they have no temptation to abuse. They receive about Å250 sterling per annum; and one, with a competent salary, performs, with fidelity, the part of three in England, who are employed as checks upon each other.
The taverns in the great towns east of the mountains which lay in our rout, afford nothing in the least corresponding with our habits and notions of convenient accommodation: the only similarity is in the expence.
At these places all is performed on the gregarious plan: every thing is public by day and by night; — for even night in an American inn affords no privacy. Whatever may be the number of guests, they must receive their entertainment
37en masse, and they must sleep en masse, Three times a-day the great bell rings, and a hundred persons collect from all quarters to eat a hurried meal, composed of almost as many dishes. At breakfast you have fish, flesh, and fowl, bread of every shape and kind, butter, eggs, coffee, tea — every thing, and more than you can think of. Dinner is much like the breakfast, omitting the tea and coffee; and upper is the breakfast repeated. Soon after this meal, you assemble once more, in rooms crowded with beds, something like the wards of an hospital; where, after undressing in public, you are fortunate if you escape a partner in your bed, in addition to the myriads of bugs, which you need not hope to escape.
But the horrors of the kitchen, from whence issue these shoals of dishes, how shall I describe, though I have witnessed them. — It is a dark and sooty hole, where the idea of cleanliness never entered, swarming with negroes of all sexes and ages, who seem as though they were bred there: without floor, except the rude stones that support a raging fire of pine logs, extending across the entire place, which forbids your approach, and which no being but a negro could face.
In your reception at a western Pennsylvania tavern, there is something of hospitality combined with the mercantile feelings of your host. He is generally a man of property, the head man
38of the village, perhaps, with the title of Colonel; and feels that he confers, rather than receives, a favour by the accommodation he affords; and rude as his establishment may be, he does not perceive that you have a right to complain: what he has you partake of, but he makes no apologies; and if you show symptoms of dissatisfaction or disgust, you will fare the worse; whilst a disposition to be pleased and satisfied, will be met by a wish to make you so.
At the last stage, our party of eight weary pilgrims, dropping in as the evening closed, alarmed the landlady, who asked the ladies if we were not English, and said, she would rather not wait upon us, — we should be "difficult." However, she admitted us, and this morning, at parting, she said she liked to wait on "such" English; and begged we would write to our friends and recommend her house. We were often told that we were not "difficult," like the English; and I am sure our entertainment was the better, because they found us easy to please.
May 29. Surrounded by all that is delightful, in the combination of the hilly woodlands and river scenery. At the junction of the Alleghany and Monongahala, forming by their union the Ohio, stands the "city of Pittsburg, the Birmingham of America." Here I expected to have been enveloped in clouds of smoke,
39issuing from a thousand furnaces, and stunned with the din often thousand hammers.
There is a figure of rhetoric adopted by the Americans, and much used in description; It simply consists in the use of the present indicative, instead of the future subjunctive; it is called anticipation. By its aid, what may be is contemplated, as though it were in actual existence. For want of being acquainted with the power and application of this figure, I confess I was much disappointed by Pittsburg. A century and a half ago, possibly, the state of Birmingham might have admitted of a comparison with Pittsburg. I conceive there are many, very many, single manufacturing establishments in Great Britain, of more present importance than the aggregate of those in this town: yet, taken as it is, without rhetorical description, it is truly a very interesting and important place. Steam engines of great efficiency are made here and applied to various purposes, and it contains sundry works: — iron-founderies, glass-houses, nail-cutting factories, &c. establishments, which are as likely to expand and multiply as the small acorn, planted in a good soil and duly protected, is to become the majestic oak, that "flings his giant arms amid the sky."
At present the manufacturers are under great difficulties, and many are on the eve of suspending
40their operations, owing to the influx of depreciated fabrics from Europe.
Pittsburg contains about 7000 inhabitants, and is a place of great trade, as an entrepot for the merchandize and manufactures supplied by the eastern states, to the western. The inhabitants of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, are their customers, and continually increasing in their demands upon the merchants, and the artisans of Pittsburg.
Journeymen various branches — shoe-makers, tailors, &c., earn two dollars a-day. Many of them are improvident, and thus they remain journeymen for life. It is not, however, in absolute intemperance and profligacy, that they in general waste their surplus earnings; it is in excursions, or entertainments. Ten dollars spent at a ball is no rare result of the gallantry of a Pittsburg journeyman. Those who are steady and prudent advance rapidly. A shoemaker of my acquaintance, that is to say, whom I employed, left Ireland, as poor as an Irish emigrant, four years ago, — staid one year in Philadelphia, then removed hither, and was employed by a master practitioner of the same calling, at twelve dollars per week. — He saved his money, married, paid his master, who retired on his fortune, three hundred dollars for his business, and is now in a fairway of retiring too: as he has a shop well stocked and a
41thriying trade, wholesale and retail, with vast profits.
The low Irish, as they are called even here, too often continue in their old habit of whiskey drinking: and, as in London, they fill the lowest departments of labour in the manufactures, or, serve the bricklayers, &c. They are rude and abandoned, with ample means of comfort and independence; such is the effect of habitual degradation of character. The low Irish and the freed negro, stand at nearly the same degree on the moral scale, being depressed equally by early associations.
June 2. This evening I heard delightful music from a piano, made in this place, where a few years ago stood a fort, from which a white man durst not pass, without a military guard, on account of the Indians, who were then the hostile lords of this region. A few of that people still reside at no great distance, and have, in a great measure, settled into the habits and manners of their new neighbours.
The simple produce of the soil, that is to say grain, is cheap in America, but every other article of necessity and convenience is dear in comparison. Travelling east, of the mountains, indeed, to this place, is nearly as expensive as in England; quite disproportioned to the prices of provision, and especially to the accommodations afforded; and the store keeper lays on a
42profit of 50 per cent. at least. This is a modification of the high rate of labour, arising from the cheapness of land, which affords the possesion of independence and comfort at so easy a late, that strong inducements of profit are required to detain men in the less agreeable occupations of a town, or under the perplexity and hazard of trade and manufactures.
In this manner it is, that emigrants are frequently exposed to difficulties before they have obtained a settlement. In this cheap country they expect to be able to live well upon a little money; — but their little money is spent before they begin to live as Americans.
Every service performed for one man by another, must be purchased at a high rate, much higher than in England: therefore as long as he is obliged to purchase more than he sells of this service or labour, he is worse off than at home: but, the moment he begins to perform his part as an American, the balance will turn in his favour, and he will earn, in the plainest occupation, double his subsistence.
I have this moment before me, two Germans, widowers, with three young children each, whose case is very appropriate. They are mere labourers and cannot speak English, and are therefore sufficiently destitute for the purpose of illustration. These two men were hired at Philadelphia, by a respectable man (with whom
43I have contracted an acquaintance, through a common friend) and they are now together, master and men, on their way to his farm, near Croydon, in the state of Indiana. These men are engaged for two years at eighty dollars per annum each, with all necessaries; viz. house, food, and cloathing, for themselves, and children. Thus, at the expiration of two years, they are possessed of thirty-six pounds sterling each, and their children growing up to be useful. With this they may pay the first deposit on farms of eighty or a hundred acres, build themselves cabins, and become freeholders and citizens. Mechanics, or artisans of the most simple kind, earn half as much more, and those of superior talents rise rapidly to wealth.
June 4. We have purchased horses for our party at fifty to sixty dollars, and are making preparations for proceeding through the state of Ohio, to Cincinnati.
It is more usual for a party, or even for individuals, who have no business on land, to pass down the Ohio. "Arks," of which hundreds are on the river, are procured of a size suitable for the number. They are long floating rooms, built on a flat bottom, with rough boards, and arranged within for sleeping and other accommodations. You hire boatmen and lay in provisions, and on your arrival at the destined port, sell your vessel as well as you can, possibly at
44half cost. On the whole, when the navigation is good, this is pleasant and cheap travelling.
But we, putting health and information against ease and saving of expence, have unanimously given the preference to horse-back. After a fortnight's confinement under the heats of the day, and the dews of the night, the habit we think, roust be ill prepared for the effects of the new climate and country; but on our horses taking the journey easily, we shall become gradually seasoned to it, and fortified by the healthful exercise of both mind and body.
Pittsburg is a cheap market for horses, generally rather more so than we found it: travellers from the east, often quit their horses here, and lake the river for New Orleans, &c.; and on the contrary, those from the west proceed eastward from this place, in stages. Thus, there are constantly a number of useful hackneys on sale. Tile mode of selling is by auction. The auctioneer rides the animal through the streets, proclaiming with a loud voice, the biddings that are made as he passes along, and when they reach the desired point, or when nobody bids more, he closes the bargain.
A complete equipment is, in the first place, a pacing; horse, a blanket under the saddle, another upon it, and a pair of saddle-bags with great coat and umbrella strapped behind.
Women of advanced age, often take long
45journeys in this manner, without inconvenience. Yesterday I heard a lady mentioned familiarly,(with no mark of admiration,) who is coming from Tenessee, twelve hundred miles to Pittsburg with an infant; preferring horseback to beating up the river.
Tracing a line like that we have traced from Cape Henry to Pittsburg, does not give a qualification to describe a country; of this no man is more aware than myself. Yet the line truly marked, though no picture, may serve as a profile: and before I take my leave of old America, as I am now about to do, and enter on the new regions of the west, I must strengthen it a little by a few general remarks.
It is an observation, familiar, I doubt, not, to every attentive traveller, that the soils of countries lying at the feet of mountains, are formed of disintegrated materials, similar to those mountains, which may be traced pretty distinctly, unless where the surface has been disturbed by rivers. The ridge, or rather series of ridges, which passes from north to south, covering a breadth of one hundred and fifty miles more or less, of the space between the western rivers and the Atlantic, affords a grand illustration of this fact, on the portion which we traversed.
On ascending this elevated region from the east in Maryland, I saw, or supposed I saw, in the quartz-rock and the mica-slate, the remains
46of the great magazine, from whence had been derived the barren sands I had crossed from the sea-coast to the commencement of the clayey district: and in the clay-slate of the mountains could be very distinctly traced, in their various gradations of colour, from faint yellow to deep red, the several tracts of clay soil, which intervene between the sandy level of the sea-coast, and the high country bordering on the mountain. Similar evidences occur in the clays and micaceous sands, to the west of the ridge in our descent to Pittsburg, where commences a country which has long been under the sway of the rivers, and has received from them a new character.
June 5. Well mounted and well furnished with saddle-bags and blankets, we proceeded nine in file, on our westward course to Washington. (Pennsylvania.)
Seventeen miles of our ride to Cannonsburg was chiefly over clayey hills, wonderfully adapted to grass, but too stiff for profitable cultivation under the plough in the present circumstances of the country. The difficult roads will long render this beautiful district toilsome to its inhabitants, unless they wisely convert it into a grazing country.
From Cannonsburg to Washington, eight miles, is a very desirable tract, containing much excellent working, dry land, with fine meadows
47and streams. A valuable district, — full of coal and limestone.
June 7. Washington is a pretty thriving town, of 2500 inhabitants. It has a college with about a hundred students. From the dirty condition of the schools, and the appearance of loitering habits among the young men, I should suspect it to be a coarsely conducted institution. It must, however, be an unfavourable period to judge of its character, as it has just undergone a contest about the change of presidents, and the session is only commencing.
There is also a considerable concourse of free negroes, a class of inhabitants peculiarly ill suited to a seat of education.
Though this district is not without streams, they are irregular, frequently dry and again overflowing. Recourse is therefore had to steam mills, of which here is a capital one at this place. A fine piece of machinery calculated, like the mills in general, in America, to perform the entire manufacture of flour, almost without the intervention of hands, between its reception in the form of wheat, and its final deposit in barrels in the shape of flour. A portion of machinery is also applied to wool-carding, for the family manufactures of the neighbourhood.
As I am writing my journal, a respectable couple, well mounted and equipped, alight at our tavern: a farmer and his wife, from the
48neighbourhood of Cincinnati, going to visit their friends at New York and Philadelphia; a distance of seven hundred miles. As travellers in this sociable country are wont to do, we immediately communicate our several plans, and become mutually interested. He tells me of a newly instituted society at Cincinnati, called the Emigrant Society, designed to obtain correct information, and communicate it to the poorer order of emigrants; and to protect them from imposition.
June 8. We were detained at Washington by the indisposition of one of our party, and to-day proceeded only twenty-two miles to Ninian Beall's Tavern, We now consider ourselves, though cost of the Ohio, to have made an inroad on the western territory: a delightful region: — healthy, fertile, romantic.
Our host has a small and simple establishment, which his civility renders truly comfortable. His little history may serve as an example of the natural growth of property in this young country.
He is about thirty; has a wife and three fine healthy children; his father is a farmer, that is to say, a proprietor, living five miles distant. From him he received live hundred dollars, and "began the world," in true style of American enterprize, by taking a cargo of flour to New Orleans, about two thousand miles, gaining a little more than his expences, and a stock of
49knowledge. Two years ago he had increased his property to nine hundred dollars; purchased this place; a house, stable, &c. and two hundred and fifty acres of land (sixty-five of which are cleared and laid down to grass,) for three thousand five hundred dollars, of which he has already paid three thousand, and will pay the remaining five hundred next year. He is now building a good stable, and going to improve his house. His property is at present worth seven thousand dollars; having gained, or rather grown, five thousand five hundred dollars in two years, with prospects of future accumulation to his utmost wishes. Thus it is that people here grow wealthy without extraordinary exertion, and without any anxiety.
June 10. Having crossed the Ohio, we have now fairly set our foot on the land of promise.
Since we left the mountains, which seem to be the first boundary line between Eastern and Western America, many tempting situations have presented themselves to our notice; but long and severe winters, in this climate and elevation, form a weighty objection to settling in the western part of Pennsylvania. Slavery would exclude such settlers as ourselves from Kentucky; and the complication of claims has produced such confusion with regard to the titles of estates, as to form, independent of that insuperable bar,
50another strong objection to Kentucky, as the place of our retreat.
On entering the stale of Ohio from Wheeling, we find a country beautiful and fertile, and affording to a plain, industrious and thriving population, all that nature has decreed for the comfort of man. It contains rich land, good water, wholesome air; — lime, coal, mills, navigation. It is also fully appropriated and thickly settled; and land is worth from twenty to thirty dollars per acre. An advance of a thousand per cent, in about ten years! Small estates of about a hundred acres may be purchased, with their buildings and improvements, at about twenty-five dollars per acre. These "improvements," however, are of little value; and looking forward for the interest of our families, and around us to make room for our English friends, who may wish to settle in our neighbourhood, we, must pass on, until we reach the country where good land is to be purchased at the government price of two dollars per acre; and which, in return for a few temporary privations, increases in value in a similar ratio.
A heavy fall of rain had rendered the roads muddy, and the numerous crossings of the two creeks between Beall's Tavern and Wheeling rather troublesome. Wheeling is a considerable but mean-looking town of inns and stores on the banks of the Ohio. Here we baited our horses,
51and took our noon's repast of bread and milk; but had we crossed the river and made our bait on the opposite side, we should have escaped a drenching thunder-storm, which caught us as we were ferrying over the second channel. At this place the Ohio is divided into two channels, of five hundred yards each, by an island of three hundred acres.
We took shelter from the storm in a tavern at the landing-place; and, having dried our clothes by a good fire, we cheerfully resumed our course, in hopes of a fine evening for our ride of ten miles to St. Clairsville; but the storm continuing, we rode nearly the whole of the way under torrents. We had sundry foaming creeks to ford, and sundry log-bridges to pass, which are a sort of commutation of danger. We had a very muddy road, over hills of clay, with thunder and rain, daring nearly the whole of this our first stage: — such thunder and such rain as we hear of, but seldom witness, in England: — and thus our party of nine cavaliers, five male and four female, made our gallant entree into the western territory. To see the cheerful confidence which oar young people opposed to difficulties, so new to them, was, to me, a more agreeable sight at that time, than the fairest weather, the noblest bridges, and the best roads could have afforded. It was truly a gallant train, making their way in Indian file, through
52the tempest, across those rocky creeks, swelled with the fresh torrents that were pouring in on every side.
We were detained some days at St. Clairsville by the continued indisposition of our friend; a circumstance which rendered the town more interesting to us than many others of greater importance. It consists of about one hundred and fifty houses; stores, taverns, doctors' and lawyers offices, with the dwellings of sundry artisans; as taylors, shoemakers, hatters, smiths, &c. Its chief street runs over one of the beautiful round fertile hills which form this country. The Court House, a handsome brick structure on he summit, has a cheerful and rather striking appearance. If the streets were paved it would be a pretty town; but it is just now mere mud from the continued rains. An American town is, however, on the whole, a disagreeable thing to me; and so indeed is an English one.
In the evening, a farmer (a man of fifteen stone or upwards,) and his son, a lad of ten years old, alighted at our tavern; their horses in high condition, looked as though they had just come in from the neighbourhood; but they were, in fact, on their return from Philadelphia, to their home, one hundred miles west of this place. They had been eight days on their road from Philadelphia, and had travelled at the rate of forty-rive miles per day. The gentleman
53and lady with their son, whom we met at Washington on their way to New York, were proceeding at the same rate: they had been six days from Cincinnati, two hundred and seventy-two miles, and their horses fresh as if they were on their first stage. From what I have seen and heard, I conclude that this rate of travelling is usual, and that it is performed without difficulty; and I mention it in proof of the excellence of the horses of this country. They are generally about fifteen hands high, clean made and shapely, often very handsome. They generally pace, or "rack," as it is called, being taught that mode of going in their breaking. Five miles an hour is as much as they calculate on. They feed well; four or five gallons of oats per day, besides hay, with a good handful of salt, about twice a week. A poor horse is as rare here, as a fat one among the negroes of Virginia. A good six years old horse sells for a hundred to a hundred and fifty dollars.
The rich clay of this country is very favourable to grass, and the pastures are extremely fine. When the timber is destroyed, a beautiful turf takes immediate possession of the surface; which is at the present time an uniform sheet, or rather fleece of white clover.
As I have passed along, the subject of emigration from Great Britain to the United States, has naturally been a primary object of my attention;
54an important subject, on which I am anxious to convey some information; and much more anxious that, as far as it shall go, this information shall produce no false impressions on the minds of my countrymen.
From what I have seen and heard, from others of America, east of the Alleghany mountains, I judge that artisans in general will succeed in any part of it; and that labourers of every description will greatly improve their condition; in so much, that they will, if saving and industrious, soon lay by enough to tempt them to migrate still farther in quest of land, on which they may establish themselves as proprietors; — That mercantile adventurers would be likely to succeed as well, but not better than in England; that clerks, lawyers and doctors would gain nothing by the exchange of countries: the same of master manufacturers in general.
The glimpse I have of these western regions gives me similar notions, but more decided, whether favourable or unfavourable, regarding the emigration of the above descriptions of persons.
As to the condition of farmers in the eastern states, I am not very particularly informed. (The southern or slave states, I consider as without the range of the present enquiry.) But from what I have learnt, I entertain great doubts of the exchange, on the whole, proving satisfactory
55to the British farmer; and I am clear that it would not be advisable for persons of any other description than farmers to remove from Great Britain to the eastern states, in order to practice agriculture.
As to the removal of a British farmer to this western country it would be premature to say much, expecting soon to be enabled to record my own proceedings: but I have no doubt of its being greatly to the advantage of an industrious working family to exchange a rented farm in England for a freehold, west of the Ohio. The working farmer, by the amount of capital required in England, as a renter, may own and cultivate a much better farm in this country.
Emigrants with small capitals are liable to great inconvenience, unless they have a particular situation provided for them by some precursor on whom they can depend. Money is powerful in this country in purchasing land, but weak in providing the means of living, except as to the bare necessaries of life. Thus the travelling expences of emigrants are heavy, in addition to the waste of time in long peregrinations.
June 11. In my stroll among the lovely inclosures of this neighbourhood, I called to enquire my way at a small farm-house, belonging to an old Hibernian, who was glad to invite me in for the sake of a little conversation. He had brought his wife with him from his native island,
56and two children. The wife was at a neighbour's on a "wool-picking frolic," which is a merry-meeting of gossips at each other's houses, to pick the year's wool and prepare it for carding. The son and daughter were married, and well settled; each having eight children. He came to this place fourteen years ago, before an axe had been lifted, except to make a blaze road, a track across the wilderness, marked by the hatchet on the trees, which passed over the spot where the town now stands. A free and independent American, and a warm politician, he now discusses the interests of the state as one concerned in its prosperity: — and so he is, for he owns one hundred and eighteen acres of excellent land, and has twenty descendants. He has also a right to scrutinize the acts of the government, for he has a share in its appointment, and pays eight dollars a year in taxes: — five to the general treasury, and three to his own country: — in all about four-pence per acre. He still inhabits a cabin, but it is not an Irish cabin.
As particular histories lead to correct general notions, I shall give another little tale of early difficulties, related to us by a cheerful intelligent farmer, from the neighbourhood of Chillicothe, who made one of our party at the inn this evening; Fourteen years ago, he also came into this new settlement, and "unloaded his family under a tree," on his present estate; where he has now
57two hundred acres of excellent land, cleared and in good cultivation, capable of producing from eighty to one hundred bushels of Indian corn per acre.
The settlers in a country entirely new, are generally of the poorer class, and are exposed to difficulties, independent of unhealthy situations, which may account for the mortality that sometimes prevails among them. The land, when intended for sale, is laid out in the government surveys in quarter sections of 160 acres, being one fourth of a square mile. The whole is then offered to the public by auction, and that which remains unsold, which is generally a very large proportion, may be purchased at the land office of the district, at two dollars per acre, one fourth to be paid down, and the remaining three-fourths at several instalments, to be completed in five years.
The poor emigrant, having collected the eighty dollars, repairs to the land office, and enters his quarter section, then works his way, without another "cent" in his pocket, to the solitary spot, which is to be his future abode, in a two horse waggon, containing his family and his little all, consisting of a few blankets, a billet, his rifle, and his axe. Suppose him arrived in the spring: after putting up a little log cabin, he proceeds to clear, with intense labour, a plot of ground for Indian corn, which
58is to be their next year's support; but, for the present, being without means of obtaining a supply of flour, he depends on his gun for subsistence. In pursuit of the game, he is compelled, after his day's work, to wade through the evening dews, up to the waist, in long grass, or bushes, and returning, finds nothing to lie on but a bear's skin on the cold ground, exposed to every blast through the sides, and every shower through the open roof of his wretched dwelling, which he does not even attempt to close, till the approach of winter, and often not then. Under these distresses of extreme toil and exposure, debarred from every comfort, many valuable lives have sunk, which have been charged to the climate.
The individual whose case is included in this seeming digression, escaped the ague, but he lay three weeks delirious in a nervous fever, of which he yet feels the remains, owing, no doubt, to excessive fatigue. Casualties, doubly calamitous in their forlorn estate, would sometimes assail them. He, for instance, had the misfortune to break his leg at a time when his wife was confined by sickness, and for three days they were only supplied with water, by a child of two years old, having no means of communicating with their neighbours (neighbours often miles off perhaps) until the fourth day. He had to carry the little grain he could
59procure twelve miles to be ground, and remembers once seeing at the mill, a man who had brought his, sixty miles, and was compelled to wait three days for his turn.
Such are the difficulties which these pioneers have to encounter; but they diminish as settlements approach each other, and are only heard of by their successors. The number of emigrants who passed this way was greater last year than in any preceding; and the present spring they are still more numerous than the last. Fourteen waggons yesterday, and thirteen to-day, have gone through this town. Myriads take their course down the Ohio. The waggons swarm with children. I heard to-day of three together, which contain forty-two of these young citizens. The wildest solitudes are to the taste of some people. General Boon, who was chiefly instrumental in the first settlement of Kentucky, is of this turn. It is said, that he is now, at the age of seventy, pursuing the daily chase, two hundred miles to the westward of the last abode of civilized man. He had retired to a chosen spot, beyond the Missouri, which, after him is named Boon's Lick, out of the reach, as he flattered himself, of intrusion; but white men even there, incroached upon him, and two years ago, he went back two hundred miles further.
June 13. The soil does not improve as we
60proceed westward, towards Zanesville. It is a yellow clay, kindly for grass, but will be unprofitable for tillage, when exhausted by repeated cropping. In some places, the clay is over limestone, and exhibits marks of great and durable fertility.
Many of the dwellings on the road-side have an air of neatness, and the roads themselves are better attended to than in Virginia, and the western parts of Pennsylvania; or even in the neighbourhood of the federal city, where they are to busily employed in ornamental architecture.
This morning we had the pleasure of meeting a group of nymphs with their attendant swains, ten in number, on horseback: (for no American walks who can obtain a horse, and there are few indeed, who cannot.) The young men were carrying umbrellas over the heads of their fair partners (fair by courtesy,) and as there was no shew of Sunday's best about them, we were the more pleased with their decent respectable appearance.
We had also the pleasure of meeting a drove of very fat oxen on their way from the banks of the Miami to Philadelphia. They might on the average weigh six hundred pounds, cost about thirty dollars, and sell at Philadelphia at about fifty or fifty-five dollars per head.
June 14. Eighteen miles east of Zanesville, taking shelter from a thunder storm, we were
61joined by four industrious pedestrians, returning eastward from a (our of observation through this state, which is no unusual thing among labourers and artisans, who travel about, and stop occasionally to work at their callings, when their finances require a supply.
All agree in one sentiment, that there is no part of the union, in the new settlements or the old, where an industrious man need be at a loss for the comforts of a good livelihood. One of them, a hatter, resolves to remain in his old position, in Philadelphia. There are, in this western country, he says, more artizans than materials. Shoemakere are standing still for want of leather, and tanners for want of hides.
The land continues of the same character, — a weak yellow clay, under a thin covering of vegetable mould; profitable to cultivate, merely because it is new. Timber, chiefly oak. Little farms from eight to one hundred and sixty acres, with simple erections, a cabin and a stable, may be purchased at from five to twenty dollars per acre; the price being in proportion to the quantity of cleared land. This is a hilly, romantic country, and affords many very pleasant situations.
Sand-stone is frequent; limestone more rare; but clay-slate appears to be the common basis.
The inhabitants are friendly and homely, not to say coarse, but well-informed, surprisingly
62more so than the English peasantry. An agreeable, contented-looking cheerful man, who partook of our shelter, told us that he cultivated a little land to supply his family with eatables; but mostly employed himself in making shingles (wooden tiles) at which he earned a dollar and a half per day. He had been there eleven years. We must not judge of these respectable citizens from the tribe of loungers that haunt the taverns on the road side, to the annoyance of travellers.
Few's Tavern. We have penetrated about seventy miles into the state of Ohio. As we proceed, our astonishment increases at seeing so much done in so short a period. A gentleman who is now our companion of the way, travelled twelve years ago on this same track, It was then little more than an Indian path through the wilderness; though now it is a string of plantations, with but little intermission of uncleared tracts.
To-day we passed various groups of emigrants proceeding westward: one waggon, in particular, was the moving habitation of twenty souls.
June 15. Zanesville is a thriving town on the beautiful river Muskingum, which is at all times navigable downwards. The country around it is hilly, and very pleasant; not rich, but dry, and tolerably fertile. It abounds in coal and lime, and water-power for machinery: a grand station for manufactures at a future period.
Somerset. A town of no great promise. Our landlord, a German, experienced the toils of the earliest settlement, being the first who lifted the axe in this neighbourhood. He went to the distance of fifty-four miles for flour, four times in the first summer. He could get venison in plenty, with his rifle; but nothing else even for money.
The most perfect cordiality prevails between the Americans of German and those of English extraction, in every part of the United States, if the assertions of all with whom I have conversed on this interesting topic, are to be relied on. National antipathies are the result of bad political institutions, and not of human nature. Here, whatever their Original, whether English, Scotch, Irish, German, or French — all are Americans: and of all the imputations on the American character, jealousy of strangers is surely the most absurd and groundless. The Americans are sufficiently alive to their own interest, but they wish well to strangers; and are not always satisfied with wishing, if they can promote their success by active services.
Land with some "improvements" (land cleared) is worth from twenty to thirty dollars per acre.
Thus the poor man who entered his quarter section of one hundred and sixty acres twelve years ago, and had paid three hundred and twenty dollars for it at the end of five, has supported
64his family during this time, and now finds himself worth from three to four thousand dollars, besides his moveable property. Such is the natural progress of an Ohio settler.
In this proportion an increase of real wealth has taken place within the last twenty years, over a space greatly exceeding Great Britain in extent. Yet so new is the government of this new world in the art and mystery of finance, that the revenue derived from all this wealth, hardly exceeds forty shillings sterling, per square mile. The simple land tax is one dollar per hundred acres of first quality, and three fourths of a dollar per hundred for that of second quality.
June 16. Rushville. An American breakfast is in much the same style on the eastern coast of Virginia, and in the centre of the Ohio state: a multifarious collection of discordant dishes, fatiguing to the mistress of the house in its preparation, and occasioning much unpleasant delay to the traveller.
A gentleman myself, and three children sat down this morning to a repast, consisting of the following articles: coffee, rolls, biscuits, dry toast, waffles, (a soft hot cake of German extraction, covered with butter) pickerell salted, (a fish from Lake Huron) veal, cutlets, broiled ham, gooseberry pie, stewed currants, preserved cranberries, butter and cheese: for all this, for myself, and three children, and four gallons
65of oats, and hay for four horses, we were charged six shillings and nine pence sterling.
Chillicothe. June 17. South West of Zanesville, instead of the steep hills of yellow clay, the country assumes a more gently undulating surface, but sufficiently varied for health and ornament, with an absorbent, gravelly, or sandy soil, of moderate fertility.
Lancaster is on the very edge of a marsh, or fen, a future meadow, which at present should seem to be a fruitful source of disease, though its bad effects on the inhabitants of that town are not by any means obvious.
These prairies which are constantly wet, are not understood to be so prejudical to health, as the little marshy bottoms, on the borders of creeks, which are dried up, and again inundated by every succeding freshet.
The three towns, Zanesville, Lancaster, and Chillicothe, were founded by a sagacious man of the name of Zane, one of the earliest of the settlers. They are admirably placed, geographically, but with little regard to the health of their future inhabitants. The local advantages of Zanesville might have been secured equally, had the scite of the town been on the higher rather than the lower bank of the Muskingum: and the Sciota might have afforded equal facilities to the commerce of the inhabitants of Chillicothe, had they viewed it
66flowing beneath them, from those lovely eminences which adorn its opposite banks. Chillicothe is surrounded by the most charming elevations, but is itself in a bottom. And Lancaster, as observed in passing it, is on the brink of an extensive marsh.
Gain! Gain! Gain! is the beginning, the middle and the end, the alpha and omega of the founders of American towns; who after all are bad calculators, when they omit the important element of salubrity in their choice of situations.
Seven miles N. W. of Chillicothe we enter on a tract of river bottom, the first-rate rich land, for which this state, and indeed the whole western country, is so justly famous. It is cool sand, sufficiently, but not too dry, easy of tillage, and, as far as is yet experienced, inexhaustibly fertile. It is agreeably varied in surface, rising into hills occasionally, and never flat. An alluvial sand, with calcareous and silicious gravel.
June 18. At Chillicothe is the office for the several transactions regarding the disposal of the public lands, of this district, which is a large tract, bounded on the west by the river Sciota. This business is conducted with great exactness, on a principle of checks, which are said to prevent the abuses formerly prevailing among the land-jobbers and surveyor. The following, if lam rightly informed, is an outline of the measures now adopted, in the sale of government lands.
The tract of country, which is to be disposed of, is surveyed, and laid out in sections of a mile square, containing six hundred and forty Acres, and these are subdivided into quarters, and, in particular situations, half-quarters. The country is also laid cut in counties of about twenty miles square, and townships of six miles square, in some instances, and in others eight. The townships are numbered in ranges, from north to south, and the ranges are numbered from west to east; and lastly, the sections in each township are marked numerically. All these lines are well defined in the woods, by marks on the trees. This done, at a period of which public notice is given, the lands in question are put up to auction, excepting the sixteenth section in every township, which is reserved for the support of schools, and the maintenance of the poor. There are also sundry reserves of entire townships, as funds for the support of seminaries on a more extensive scale; and sometimes for other purposes of general interest. No government lands are sold under two dollars per acre; and I believe they are put up at this price in quarter sections, at the Auction, and if there be no bidding they pass on. The best lands and most favourable situations are sometimes run up to ten or twelve dollars, and in some late instances much higher. The lots which remain unsold are, from
68that time, open to the public, at the price of two dollars per acre; one-fourth to be paid down, and the remaining three-fourths to be paid by instalments in five years; at which time, if the payments are not completed, the lands revert to the state, and the prior advances are forfeited.
When a purchaser has made his election of one, or any number of vacant quarters, he repairs to the land office, pays eighty dollars, or as many times that sum as he purchases quarters, and receives a certificate, which is the basis of the complete title, which will be given him when he pays all; this he may do immediately, and receive eight per cent. interest for prompt payment. The sections thus sold are marked immediately on the general plan, which is always open at the land-office to public inspection, with the letters A. P. "advance paid." There is a receiver and a register at each land office, who are checks on each other, and are remunerated by a per centage on the receipts.
June 19. On my arrival at Chillicothe, I repaired to the land office, to inspect the map of the district, and found a large amount of unentered lands, comprehending several entire townships of eight miles square, lying about twenty miles south of the town, and in several parts abutting on the Sciota. Though it appeared morally certain, that substantial objections have deterred purchasers from this extensive tract in
69a country so much settled, the distance being moderate, I determined to visit it, and am now with my son, resting at the cabin of a poor widow on the way. We have rode over twenty miles of very fertile country on the Sciota, and shall cross that river a few miles forward at Pike's Town; not far from which place is the land we are seeking.
I hear much of the agues and bilious fever, by which strangers are said to be generally naturalized or seasoned to these new countries; but the accounts are so contradictory, though equally authentic, that I conclude much of this disease is rather the effect of particular situations or circumstances, than of any general cause existing in the country or climate. There are a few facts on which all agree: — that the country becomes more healthy as it is more cleared and cultivated. That the neighbourhoods of rivers and creeks, subject to overflow, are the most unhealthy, and wet prairies the next; that dry soils and elevated situations are more healthy than those that are low or wet; and that mill-ponds are frequently noxious to settlers in their vicinity. It is also universally allowed, that roost of the diseases which attack new settlers may be justly attributed to their own poverty or imprudence. I have been conversing on this subject with our experienced old landlady, which led to these observations.
As we sat at breakfast we heard a report like the discharge of cannon. It was a sycamore one of the largest and most ancient of the forest, which had just then arrived at its term, and fallen under the weight of age. It formed one of a venerable group, about a quarter of a mile from our cabin, and our hostess missed it instantly.
Trees are very interesting objects to the American traveller: they are always beautiful; and in the rich bottoms they sometimes exhibit a grand assemblage of gigantic beings which carry the imagination back to other times, before the foot of a white man had touched the American shore: Yesterday I measured a walnut tree almost seven feet in diameter, clean and straight as an arrow; and just by, were rotting, side by side, two sycamores of nearly equal dimensions! The sycamore grows, in bottoms liable to be overflowed, to an unwieldly bulk; but the white oak is the glory of the upland forest.
Trees, to the judicious and experienced observer, form an excellent criterion of the quality of soils, by their species as well as bulk; but in the American forests they have rarely an opportunity of swelling out to a large diameter, owing to their crowded growth. They are, for the same reason, very lofty, straight, and clear in their stems; sometimes eighty or ninety feet without a branch. I measured a white oak, by
71the road side, which, at four feet from the ground, was six feet in diameter; and at seventy-five feet, it measured nine feet round, or three feet in diameter.
White oak is valuable for a great variety of uses; particularly where toughness is required; in proof of its possessing this quality in an extraordinary degree, it forms the material of an American waggoner's very flexible whip. A tapering piece of this wood is cleft in nine, from the small end to within, a foot of the other end, which remains solid for the hand. The nine spleets are then twisted by threes, and the threes again twisted together: the whole is then sewed in a case of black leather, and a silken thong added, which completes the whip. This oak is also excellent for keels of ships, and shingles for covering houses, and a thousand other purposes; particularly for the wheels and poles of carriages; and enables the workman to unite strength and lightness, to a degree greatly excelling the justly admired carriages of England.
Near Pike Town is a small cultivated prairie, the first I have seen: it contains about two hundred acres, as I estimate it, of rich river bottom: it is divided by a road which runs through the middle, between two fences, and nearly the whole is covered by the finest Indian corn, neatly cultivated. The surrounding hills, crowned with their native woods, take their tone from the garden-like
72appearance of this inclosure, and the scene retains nothing of wild ness, except in the untameable luxuriance of vegetation. Nothing I had before seen in America at all resembles this delightful spot; but it has been unhealthy, and continues so, though in a less degree than at its first settlement, from its low situation near the Sciota.
The growth of timber round this prairie, and the under-growth of papaw, &c. is so thick, that not a blade of grass is to be found, and the surface is covered by persicaria. The cattle being left to provide for themselves, look miserable amid this exuberant fertility: but the settlers are mostly from Virginia; where I saw so much wretchedness among the cattle that I suppose it is familiar to the inhabitants.
June 19. Pike Town. This town was aid out and received its name two years ago. It now contains a tavern, a store, and about twenty other dwellings. Being on the banks of the Sciota, half-way between Chillicothe and Portsmouth, which is at the junction of that river with the Ohio, it will probably grow into a place of importance.
The unentered land we came in quest of is, as I supposed, of inferior quality. That which abutts on the river, consists of sand-stone hills, without any portion of the rich alluvial bottom. The interior sections contain lands which might be useful as an apendage to better.
I found a cabin on a sandy brow, which had been inhabited eleven years, by the present family. It is in the neighbourhood of the small prairie, where there had been so much sickness; but they had always escaped, never experiencing the least inconvenience. An elevated situation on an absorbent soil, not buried too deeply in heavy timber, seems to afford the best security for health.
Though we find no land fit for our purpose, we are repaid by the pleasure of our ride through a fine portion of country; and especially by the information we pick up as we pass along. It is by multiplied observations that we must qualify ourselves to make a good final choice.
Greenfield, June 20. We are now again on our way towards Cincinnati. In leaving Chillicothe, we pass through about seven miles of rich alluvial land, and then rise to fertile uplands. But as we proceed, the country becomes level, with a cold heavy soil, better adapted to grass than tillage. Much of this tract remains in an unimproved state.
Before we entered on this flat country, were some hills covered with the grandest white oak timber, I suppose, in America: (should I meet with any thing to compare with this hereafter, I shall not fail to note it.) There are thousands, I think, of these magnificent trees within view
74of the road for miles, measuring fourteen or fifteen feet in circumference: their straight stems rising without a branch, to the height of seventy or eighty feet, not tapering and slender, but surmounted by full luxuriant heads.
For the space of a mile in breadth, a hurricane, which traversed the entire western country in a north-east direction, about seven years ago, had opened itself a passage through this region of giants, and has left a scene of extraordinary desolation. We pass immediately on, after viewing those massive trunks, the emblems of strength and durability, to where they lie tumbled over each other like scattered stubble, some torn up by the roots, others broken off at different heights, or splintered only, and their tops bent over, and touching the ground: — such is the irresistible force of these impetuous airy torrents.
These hurricane tracts afford strong holds for game, and all animals of savage kind. There is a panther, the only one remaining, it is said, in this country, which makes this spot its haunt and eludes the hunters.
I am told that the town of Greenfield has wholly escaped the sickness, so frequently attending new settlements. It stands on a hill, and on a dry soil.
June 21. Last night we lodged at Leesburg, a healthy, comfortable little colony of quakers,
75of four years standing. The soil is sandy, of middling quality, over limestone.
No instance of ague, or bilious fever, has yet occurred in this settlement. One of the friends informed me that be had carried his wife, who was an invalid, to the sulphur springs in Madison county, by the advice of a physician. The creek there frequently overflowed, and the country being flat, a considerable breadth was inundated. When that dried up, an offensive vapour rose, which might be perceived to a considerable distance. They both grew sick, and were in great danger, but he ordered his waggon, and had his wife and himself laid in it, and carried directly tome to Leesburg: — they recovered immediately.
These are important cases, and I have no doubt of their authenticity. Greenfield never knew the sickness: Leesburg never knew it; but was even medicine for the ills occasioned by another situation near an unwholesome overflowing creek. Neither of these places stand high; that is particularly so, but they are remote from floods; and the soil lies over limestone, and is dry enough for the plough in half a day after heavy rain.
The first settlers, needy people, and ignorant of the dangers they were incurring, found good land along the course of he rivers; and there they naturally fixed their cabins; near enough
76to the stream to dip out of it with a bowl, provided they could escape the flood. The founders of towns seem to have generally chosen their situations on similar principles; preferring convenience or profit to salubrity; and thus diseases, which, strictly speaking, are local, come to be considered universal and unavoidable.
June 22. As we approach he little Miami river, the country becomes more broken and much more fertile, and better settled. After crossing this rapid and clear stream, we had a pleasant ride to Lebanon, which is not a mountain of cedars, but a valley, so beautiful and fertile, that it seemed, on its first opening on our view, enriched as it was by the tints of evening, rather a region of fancy than a real back wood scene.
Lebanon is itself, one of those wonders which are the natural growth of these backwoods. In fourteen years, from two or three cabins of half-savage hunters, it has grown to be the residence of a thousand persons, with habits and looks no way differing from their brethren of the east. Before we entered the town, we heard the supper bells of the taverns, and arrived just in time to take our seats at the table, among just such a set as I should have expected to meet at the ordinary in Richmond; — travellers like ourselves, with a number of store-keepers; lawyers and doctors; men who board at the
77taverns up a standing company for the daily public table,
This morning we made our escape from this busy scene, in defiance of the threatening rain. A crowded tavern in an American town, though managed as is that we have just quitted, with great attention and civility, is a place from which you are always willing to depart. After all, the wonder is, that so many comforts are provided for you, at so early a period.
Cincinnati, like most American towns, stands too low; it is built on the banks of the Ohio, and the lower part is not out of the reach of spring-floods.
As if "life was not more than meat, and the body than raiment," every consideration of health and enjoyment yields to views of mercantile convenience. Short-sighted and narrow economy, by which the lives of thousands are shortened, and the comfort of all sacrificed to mistaken notions of private interest!
Cincinnati is, however, a most thriving place, and backed as it is already by a great population and a roost fruitful country, bids fair to be one of the first cities of the west. We are told, and we cannot doubt the fact, that the chief of what we see is the work of four years. The hundreds of commodious, well-finished brick houses, the spacious and busy markets, the substantial public buildings, the thousands
78of prosperous well-dressed, industrious inhabitants, the numerous waggons and drays, the gay carriages and elegant females; — the shoals of craft on the river, the busy stir prevailing every where, houses building, boat building, paving and levelling streets; the numbers of country people, constantly coining and going, with the spacious taverns, crowded with travellers from a distance.
All this is so much more than I could comprehend, from a description of a new town, just risen from the woods, that I despair of conveying an adequate idea of it to my English friends. It is enchantment, and Liberty is the fair enchantress.
I was assured by a respectable gentleman one of the first settlers, and now a man of wealth and influence, that he remembers when there was only one poor cabin where this noble town now stands, The county of Hamilton is something under the regular dimensions of twenty miles square, and it already contains 30,000 inhabitants. Twenty years ago, the vast region comprising the states of Ohio and Indiana, and the territory of Illinois and Michigan, only counted 30,000 inhabitants; the number that are now living, and living happily, in the little county of Hamilton, in which stands Cincinnati.
Why do not the governments of Europe afford such an asylum, in their vast and gloomy
79forests, for their increasing myriads of paupers! This would be an object worthy a convention of sovereigns, if sovereigns were really the fathers of their people, but jealous as they are of emigration to America, this simple and sure mode of preventing it will never occur to them.
Land is rising rapidly in price, in all well-settled neighbourhoods. Fifty dollars per acre for improved land is spoken of familiarly: I have been asked thirty for a large tract, without improvements, on the Great Miami, fifty miles from Cincinnati, and similar prices in other quarters. An estate of a thousand acres, partially cleared, is spoken of, on the road to Louisville, at twenty dollars. Many offers occur, all at a very great advance of price. It now becomes a question, whether to fix in this comparatively populous state of Ohio, or join the vast tide of emigration that is flowing farther west, where we may obtain lands of equal Value, at the government price of two dollars per acre, and enjoy the advantage of choice of situation.
Though I feel some temptation to linger here, where society is attaining a maturity truly astonishing, when we consider its early date, I cannot be satisfied without seeing that remoter country, before we fix in this; still enquiring and observing as we proceed. If we leave behind us eligible situations, it is like securing a retreat to which we may return with good prospects, if we think it advisable.
The probability is that, in these more remote regions, the accumulation of settlers will shortly render land as valuable as it is here at present; and in the interim, this accession of inhabitants will create a demand for the produce of the hew country, equal to the supply. It is possible too, that we may find ourselves in as good society there as here. Well-educated persons are not rare amongst the emigrants who are moving farther west; for the spirit of emigration has reached a class somewhat higher in the scale of society than formerly. Some too may be aiming at the same point with ourselves; and others, if we prosper, will be likely to follow our example.
We are also less reluctant at extending our views westward, on considering that the time is fast approaching, when the grand intercourse with Europe, will not be, as at present, through eastern America, but through the great rivers which communicate by the Mississippi with the ocean, at New Orleans. In this view, we approximate to Europe, as we proceed to the west.
The upward navigation of these streams is already coming under the controul of steam, an invention which promises to be of incalculable importance to this new world.
Such is the reasoning which impels us still forward; and in a few days we propose setting out to explore the state of Indiana, and probably the Illinois. With so long a journey before us,
81we are not comfortable under the prospect of separation. Our plan had been to lodge our main party at Cincinnati, until we had fixed on our final abode; but this was before our prospects had taken so wide a range. We now talk of Vincennes, as we did before of this place, and I trust we shall shortly be again under weigh.
June 27. Cincinnati. — All is alive here as soon as the day breaks. The stores are open, the markets thronged, and business is in full career by five o'clock in the morning; and nine o'clock is the common hour for retiring to rest.
As yet I have felt nothing oppressive in the heat of this climate. Melting, oppressive, sultry nights, succeeding broiling days, and forbidding rest, which are said to wear out the frames of the languid inhabitants of the eastern cities, are unknown here. A cool breeze always renders the night refreshing, and generally moderates the heat of the day.
June 28. The numerous creeks in this country, which are apt to be swelled suddenly by heavy rains, render travelling perplexing, and even perilous to strangers, in a showery season like the present. On my way this morning from an excursion of about fifteen miles to view an estate, a man who was mowing at some distance from the road, hailed me with the common, but to us quaint appellation of "stranger:" — I stopped to learn his wishes. "Are you going to ride
82the creek ?" "I know of no creek," said I; "but I am going to Cincinnati." — "I guess it will swim your horse." "How must I avoid it?" "Turn to your left, and go up to the mill, and you will find a bridge." Now if this kind man had rested on his scythe, and detained the "stranger" a few minutes, to learn his country, his name, and the object of his journey, as he probably would, had he been nearer to the road, he would but have evinced another trait of the friendly character of these good Americans.
In this land of plenty, young people first marry, and then look out for the means of a livelihood, without fear or cause for it. The ceremony of marriage is performed in a simple family way, in my opinion more delicate, and corresponding to the nature of the contract, than the glaring publicity adopted by some, or the secrecy, not so respectable, affected by others.
The near relations assemble at the house of the bride's parents. The minister or magistrate is in attendance, and when the candidates make their appearance, he asks them severally the usual questions, and having called on the company to declare if there be any objections, he Confirms the union by a short religious formula; — the bridegroom salutes the bride, and the ceremony is over. Tea and refreshments follow. Next day the bridegroom holds his levee, his numerous friends, and sympathy makes them
83numerous on these happy occasions, pour in to offer their congratulations. Abundance of refreshments of the most substantial kind, are placed on side-tables, which are taken, not as a formal meal, but as they walk up and down the apartments in cheerful conversation. This running meal continues from noon till the close of the evening, the bride never making her appearance on the occasion; an example of delicacy worthy the imitation of more refined societies.
June 23. Cincinnati, The Merino mania seems to have prevailed in America to a degree exceeding its highest pitch in England. In Kentucky, where even the negroes would no more eat mutton than they would horse-flesh, there were great Merino breeders. There was and is, I believe, a sheep society here, to encourage the growth of fine wool, on land as rich as the deepest, fattest vallies of our island, and in a country still overwhelmed with timber of the heaviest growth. As strange and incomprehensible an infatuation this, and as inconsistent with plain common sense, as the determined rejection of the fine woolled race, by the English breeders of short woolled sheep: but that there should ever have been a rage for sheep of any kind in any part of this country that I have seen, must be owing to general Ignorance of the constitution and habits of this animal. There is not a district, scarcely a spot that I have travelled over, where a flock
84of fine-woolled sheep could be kept with any prospect of advantage, provided there were even a market for the carcase. Yet by the ragged remains of the Merino family, which may be recognized in many places, I perceive that the attempt has been very general. Mutton is almost as abhorrent to an American palate, or fancy, as the flesh of swine to an Israelite; and the state of the manufactures does not give great encouragement to the growth of wool of any kind; — of Merino wool less, perhaps, than any other. Mutton is sold, in the markets of Philadelphia, at about half the price of beef; and the Kentuckian, who would have given a thousand dollars for a Merino ram, would dine upon dry bread rather than taste his own mutton! A few sheep on every farm, to supply coarse wool for domestic manufacture, seems to be all that ought at present to be attempted, in any part of America that I have yet seen.
I have heard, that in the western part of Virginia, sheep are judiciously treated, and kept to advantage, and that there exists in that country no prejudice against the meat: also that the north-eastern states have good sheep pastures, and a moderate dislike of mutton: to these, of course, my remarks on sheep-husbandry are not applicable. Deep woods are not the proper abodes of sheep.
When America shall have cleared away her
85forests, and opened her uplands to the breezes, they will soon be covered with fine turf, and flocks will be seen ranging over them here, as in other parts of the world. Anticipation often retards improvement, by giving birth to prejudice.
There are about two thousand people regularly employed as boatmen on the Ohio, and they are proverbially ferocious and abandoned in their habits, though with many exceptions, as I have good grounds for believing. People who settle along the line of this grand navigation, generally possess or acquire similar habits; and thus profligacy of manners seems inseparable from the population on the banks of these great rivers.
It is remarked, indeed, every where that inland navigators are worse than sailors.
This forms a material objection to a residence on the Ohio: outweighing all the beauty and local advantages of such a situation.
July 6. We are now at the town of Madison, on our way through the state of Indiana, towards Vincennes. This place is on the banks of the Ohio, about seventy-five miles from Cincinnati.
Our road has been mostly from three to six miles from the river, passing over fertile hills and alluvial bottoms.
The whole is appropriated; but although settlements multiply daily, many large intervals remain between the clearings.
Indiana is evidently newer than the state of
86Ohio; and if I mistake not, the character of the settlers is different, and superior to that of the first settlers in Ohio, who were generally very indigent people: those who are now fixing themselves in Indiana, bring with them habits of comfort, and the means of procuring the conveniences of life: I observe this in the construction of their cabins, and the neatness surrounding them, and especially in their well-stocked gardens, so frequent here, and so rare in the state of Ohio, where their earlier and longer settlement would have afforded them better opportunities of making this great provision for domestic comfort.
I have also had the pleasure of seeing many families of healthy children; and from my own continued observation, confirmed by the testimony of every competent evidence that has fallen in my way, I repeat with still more confidence, that the diseases so alarming to all emigrants, and which have been fatal to so many, are not attached to the climate, but to local situation. Repetitions will be excused on this important subject. Hills on a dry soil are healthy, after some progress has been made in clearing; for deep and close woods are not salubrious either to new comers or old settlers. The neighbourhood of overflowing streams, and all wet, marshy soils, are productive of agues and bilious fevers in the autumn.
Such is the influx of strangers into this state, that the industry of the settlers is severely taxed to provide food for themselves, and a superfluity for new comers: and thus it is probable there will be a market for all the spare produce, for a series of years, owing to the accession of strangers, as well as the rapid internal growth of population. This is a favourable condition of a new colony, which has not been calculated on by those who take a distinct, view of the subject. This year Kentucky has sent a supply in aid of this hungry infant state.
July 7. I have good authority for contradicting a supposition that I have met with in England, respecting the inhabitants of Indiana; — that they are lawless, semi-barbarous, vagabonds, dangerous to live among. On the contrary, the laws are respected, and are effectual; and the manners of the people are kind and gentle to each other, and to strangers.
An unsettled country, lying contiguous to one that is settled, is always a place of retreat for rode and even abandoned characters, who find the regulations of society intolerable; and such, no doubt, had taken up their unfixed abode in Indiana. These people retire, with the wolves, from the regular colonists, keeping always to the outside of civilized settlements. They rely for their subsistence on their rifle, and a scanty cultivation of corn, and live in great
88poverty and privation, a degree only short of the savage state of Indians.
Of the present settlers, as I have passed along, from house to house, I could not avoid receiving a most favourable impression. I would willingly remain among them; but preoccupation sends us Still forward in the steps of the roaming hunters I have just described, some of whom we shall probably dislodge, when we make our settlement, which, like theirs, will probably be in the confines of society.
As to the inhabitants of towns, the Americans are much alike, as far as we have had an opportunity of judging. We look, in vain, for any striking difference in the general deportment and appearance of the great bulk of Americans, from Norfolk on the eastern coast, to the town of Madison in Indiana. The same good looking, well-dressed (not what we call gentlemanly) men appear every where. Nine out of ten, native Americans, are tall and long-limbed, approaching, or even exceeding six feet; in pantaloons and Wellington boots, either marching up and down with their hands in their pockets, or seated on chairs poised on the hindfeet, and the backs rested against the walls. If a hundred Americans of any class were to seat themselves, ninety-nine would shuffle their chairs to the true distance, and then throw themselves back against the nearest prop. The
89women exhibit a great similarity of tall relaxed forms, with consistent dress and demeanour; and are not remarkable for sprightliness of manners. Intellectual culture has not yet made touch progress among the generality of either sex where I have travelled; but the men have greatly the advantage in the means of acquiring information, from the habits of travelling, and intercourse with strangers: — sources of improvement from which the other sex is unhappily too much excluded.
Lexington. This town is only three years old. Madison dates its origin two years farther back. Yet, much as has been done during this short period, and much as there remains to do, we see in every village and town, as we pass along, groups of young able-bodied men, who seem to be as perfectly at leisure as the loungers of ancient Europe. This love of idleness where labour is so profitable and effective, is a strange affection. I have no notion of life as a pleasurable thing, except where connected with action. Rest is certainly a delightful sensation, but it implies previous labour: there is no rest for the indolent, any more than for the wicked: "They yawn and stretch, but find no rest." — I suspect, that indolence is the epidemic evil of the Americans. If you enquire of hale young fellow why they remain in this listless state — "We live in freedom," they-say, "we need not work
90like the English." Thus they consider it their privilege to do nothing. But the trees of the forest are still more highly privileged in this sort of passive existence; thus living to do nothing for they are fed and exercised without any toil at all; the trees, "sua si bona norint," did they but know their bliss, might be objects of envy to many a tall young American.
July 12. Hawkins' Tavern, sixteen miles east of Vincennes. On traversing the state of Indiana to this place, I retain the same idea as to the character of the settlers that, struck me on our entrance. They are an order of colonists somewhat higher than the first settlers of their sister state. There remains, however, a considerable number of backwoods' men, somewhat savage in character, and who look on new comers as intruders. The accommodation for travellers will soon be greatly superior to those in the Ohio state, as are those of the Ohio to the taverns of Pennsylvania, west of the mountains.
The country, from the town of Madison, to the Camp Tavern, is not interesting, and great part of it is but of medium quality. At the latter place commences a broken country, approaching to mountainous, which, if well watered, would form a fine grazing district; but the little streams are now dried up, notwithstanding the late copious rains. This beautiful country continues as far as Sholt's Tavern on
91White River, thirty-six miles east of Vincennes. Most of this hilly district is unentered, and remains open to the public at two dollars per acre.
Oar rear party, consisting of one of the ladies, a servant boy, and myself, were benighted, in consequence of accidental detention, at the foot of one of these rugged hills; and without being well provided, were compelled to make our first experiment of "camping out."
A traveller in the woods should always carry flint, steel, tinder, and matches, a few biscuits, a half-pint phial of spirits, and a tin cup, a large knife or tomahawk; then with his two blankets, and his, great coat, and umbrella, he need not be uneasy, should any unforeseen delay require his sleeping under a tree.
Our party having separated, the important articles of tinder and matches were in the baggage of the division which had proceeded, and as the night was rainy and excessively dark, we were for some time under some anxiety least we should have been deprived of the comfort and security of a fire. Fortunately my powder flask was in my saddle-bags, and we succeeded, in supplying the place of tinder, by moistening a piece of paper, and rubbing it with gun powder. We placed our touch-paper on an old cambric handkerchief, as the most readily combustible article in our stores. On this we Uttered gunpowder pretty copiously, and our
92flint and steel soon enabled us to raise a name and collecting dry wood, we made a noble fire There was a mattrass for the lady, a bear-skin for myself, and the load of the pack-horse as a pallet for the boy. Thus, by means of great coats, and blankets, and our umbrellas spread over our heads, we made our quarters comfortable, and placing ourselves to the leeward of the fire, with our feet towards it, we lay more at ease than in the generality of taverns. Our horses fared rather worse, but we took care to tie them where they could browse a little, and occasionally shifted their quarters. We had a few biscuits, a small bottle of spirits, and a phial of oil: with the latter we contrived, by twisting some twine very hard, and dipping it in the oil, to make torches; and after several fruitless attempts we succeeded in finding water; we also collected plenty of dry wood. "Camping out," when the tents are pitched by daylight, and the party are ready furnished with the articles which we were obliged to supply by expedients, is quite pleasant in fine weather: my companion was exceedingly ill, which was in fact, the cause of our being benighted; and never was the night's charge of a sick friend undertaken with more dismal forebodings, especially during our ineffectual efforts to obtain fire, the first blaze of which was unspeakably delightful; after this, the rain ceased, and the
93invalid passed the night in safety; so that the morning found us more comfortable than we could have anticipated.
It has struck me as we have passed along from one poor hut to another among the rude inhabitants of this infant state, that travellers in general, who judge by comparison, are not qualified to form a fair estimate of these lonely settlers. Let a stranger make his way through England, in a course remote from the great roads, and going to no inns, take such entertainment only as he might find in the cottages of labourers, he would have as much cause to complain of the rudeness of the people, and far more of their drunkenness and profligacy than in these back woods, although in England the poor are a part of a society where institutions are matured by the experience of two thousand years. The bulk of the inhabitants of this vast wilderness may be fairly considered as of the class of the lowest English peasantry, or just emerging from it; but in their manners and morals, and especially in their knowledge and proud independence of mind, they exhibit a contrast so striking, that he must, indeed, be a petit maitre traveller, or ill-informed of the character and circumstances of his poor countrymen, or deficient in good and manly sentiment, who would not rejoice to transplant, into these boundless regions of freedom, the millions whom he has left behind him, grovelling in ignorance and wants.
94Vincennes, July 13. The town is scattered over a plain, lying some feet lower than the banks of the Wabash: — a situation seemingly unfavourable to health; and, in fact, agues and bilious fevers are frequent in the autumn.
The road from Sholt's Tavern to this place thirty-six miles, is partly across "barrens," that is land of middling quality, thinly set with timber, or covered with long grass and shrubby underwood; generally level and dry, and gaudy with marigolds, sunflowers, martagon lilies, and many other brilliant flowers; small "prairies," which are grass lands, free from underwood, and generally somewhat marshy; and rich bottom land: on the whole, the country is tame, poorly watered, and not desirable as a place of settlement: but it is pleasant to travel over from its varied character.
Vincennes exhibits a motley assemblage of inhabitants as well as visitors. The inhabitants are Americans, French, Canadians, Negroes; the visitors, among whom our party is conspicuous as English (who are seldom seen in these parts,) Americans from various states, and Indians of various nations, — Shawnees, Delawares, and Miamies, who live about a hundred miles to the northward, and who are come here to trade for skins. The Indians are encamped in considerable numbers round the town, and are continually riding in, to the stores and the whiskey shops. Their horses and accoutrements
95are generally mean, and their persons disagreeable. Their faces are painted in various ways, which mostly gives a ferocity to their aspects.
One of them a Shawnee, whom we met a few miles east of Vincennes, had his eyes, or rather his eyelids, and surrounding parts, daubed with vermillion, looking hideous enough at a distance, but on a nearer view, he has good features, and is a fine, stout, fierce looking man, well remembered at Vincennes for the trouble he gave during the late war. This man exhibits a respectable beard; enough for a Germanized British officer of dragoons. Some of them are well-dressed and good-looking people; one young man in particular of the Miami nation, had a clear light blue cotton vest with sleeves, and his head ornamented with black feathers.
They all wear pantaloons, or rather long mocassins of buckskin, covering the foot and leg and reaching halfway up the thigh which, is bare: a covering of cloth, passing between the thighs and hanging behind, like an apron, of a foot square. Their complexion is various, some dark, others not so swarthy as myself; but I saw none of the copper colour which I had imagined to be their universal distinctive mark. They are addicted to spirits and often intoxicated, but even then generally civil and good humoured. The Indians are said to be partial to
96the French traders; thinking them fairer than the English or Americans. They use much action in their discourse, and laugh immoderately. Their hair is straight and black, and their eyes dark. The women are, many of them, decently dressed and good-looking; they ride sometimes like the men, but side-saddles are not uncommon among them. Few of them of either sex speak English; but many of the people here speak a variety of the Indian languages.
In the interior of the Illinois, the Indians are said sometimes to be troublesome, by giving abusive language to travellers, and stealing their horses when they encamp in the woods; but they never commit personal outrage. — Watchful dogs and a rifle, are the best security: but I believe we shall have too reason to fear interruption in the quarter to which we are going.
At this remote place we find ourselves in a comfortable tavern and surrounded by genteel and agreeable people. Our company at supper was about thirty.
The health of our party has been a source of some anxiety, increasing as the summer advances: as yet we have entirely escaped the diseases to which the country or climate, or both, are said to be liable; but our approach to the Wabash has not been without some painful forebodings.
We have remarked, en passant, that people
97generally speak favourably of their own country, and exaggerate every objection or evil, when speaking of those to which we are going: thus it may be that the accounts we have received of the unhealthiness of this river and its vicinity, have been too deeply coloured. We are accordingly greatly relieved by the information we have received here on this subject. The Wabash has not overflowed its banks this summer, and no apprehensions are now entertained as to the sickly season of August and September.
July 18. Princeton. — We, in Great Britain, are so circumscribed in our movements that miles with us seem equal to tens in America. I believe that travellers here, will start on an expedition of three thousand miles by boats, on horseback or on foot, with as little deliberation or anxiety, as we should set out on a journey of three hundred.
Five hundred persons every summer pass down the Ohio from Cincinnati to New Orleans, as traders or boatmen, and return on foot. By water, the distance is seventeen hundred miles, and the walk back a thousand. Many go down to New Orleans from Pittsburg, which adds five hundred miles to the distance by water, and three hundred by land. The store-keepers, (country shopkeepers we should call them) of these western towns, visit the eastern ports of Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia, once
98a year, to lay in their stock of goods: an evidence it might seem of want of confidence in the merchants of those places; but the great variety of articles, and the risk attending their carriage to so great a distance, by land and water, render it necessary that the store-keepers should attend both to their purchase and conveyance.
I think the time is at hand when these periodical transmontane journeys are to give place to expeditions down the Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans. The vast and increasing produce of these states, in grain, flour, cotton, sugar, tobacco, peltry, timber, &c. &c. which finds a ready vent at New Orleans, will be returned, through the same channel in the manufactures of Europe and the luxuries of the east, to supply the growing demands of this western world. How rapidly this demand actually increases, it is utterly impossible to estimate; but some idea of it may be formed from a general view of the cause and manners of its growth. In round numbers there are probably half a million of inhabitants in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Immigration (if I may be allowed to borrow a new but good word,) and births, will probably double this number in about six years; and in the mean time, the prosperous circumstances of almost every family, are daily creating new wants, and awakening fresh necessities.
On any spot where a few settlers cluster together,
99attracted by ancient neighbourhood, or by the goodness of the soil, or vicinity to a mill, or by whatever cause, some enterprising proprietor finds in his section what he deems a good scite for a town, he has it surveyed and laid out in lots, which he sells, or offers for sale by auction.
The new town then assumes the name of its founder: — a store-keeper builds a little framed store, and sends for a few cases of goods; and then a tavern starts up, which becomes the residence of a doctor and a lawyer, and the boarding-house of the store-keeper, as well as the resort of the weary traveller: soon follow a blacksmith and other handicraftsmen in useful succession: a schoolmaster, who is also the minister of religion, becomes an important accession to this rising community. Thus the town proceeds, if it proceeds at all, with accumulating force, until it becomes the metropolis of the neighbourhood. Hundreds of these speculations may have failed, but hundreds prosper; and thus trade begins and thrives, as population grows around these lucky spots; imports and exports maintaining their just proportion. One year ago the neighbourhood of this very town of Princeton, was clad in "buckskin" now the men appear at church in good blue cloth, and the women in fine calicoes and straw bonnets.
The town being fairly established, a cluster
100of inhabitants, small as it may be, acts as a stimulus on the cultivation of the neighbourhood: redundancy of supply is the consequence, and this demands a vent. Water mills, or in defect of water power, steam mills rise on the nearest navigable stream, and thus an effectual and constant market is secured for the increasing surplus of produce. Such are the elements of that accumulating mass of commerce, in exports, and consequent imports, which will render the Mississippi the greatest thoroughfare in the world.
At Vincennes, the foundation is just laid of a large establishment of mills to be worked by steam. Water mills of great power are now building on the Wabash, near Harmony, and undertakings of a similar kind will be called for and executed all along this river, which, with its tributary rivers, several of which are also navigable, from the east and the west, is the outlet of a very rich and thickly settling country, comprising the prime of Indiana, and a valuable portion of the Illinois, over the space of about one hundred thousand square miles.
There is nothing in Vincennes, on its first appearance to make a favourable impression on a stranger; but it improves on acquaintance, for it contains agreeable people: and there is a spirit of cleanliness, and even neatness in their houses and manner of living: there is also a strain of politeness, which marks the origin of
101this settlement in & way which is very flattering to the French. It is a phenomenon in national character which I cannot explain; but the fact will not be disputed, that the urbanity of manners which distinguishes that nation from all others, is never entirely lost; but that French politeness remains until every trace of French origin is obliterated. A Canadian Frenchman who, after having spent, twenty years of his prime among the Indians, settles in the back woods of the United States, still retains a strong impression of French good breeding.
Is it by this attractive qualification that the French have obtained such sway among the Indians? I think it may be attributed with as much probability to their conciliating manner as to superior integrity; though the latter has been the cause generally assigned.
This tenaciousness of national character, under all changes of climate and circumstances, of which the French afford many remarkable instances, is the more curious, as it is not universal among nations, though the Germans afford, I am told, examples equally strong. This country gives favourable opportunities for observation on this interesting subject.
What is it that distinguishes an Englishman from other men? or is there any mark of national character, which neither time, climate, nor
102circumstance can obliterate? An anglo-American is not English, but a German is a German and a Frenchman French, to the fourth, perhaps to the tenth generation.
The Americans have no central focus of fashion, or local standard of politeness; therefore remoteness can never be held as an apology for sordid dress or coarse demeanour. They are strangers to rural simplicity: the embarrassed air of an awkward rustic, so frequent, in England, is rarely seen in the United States. This, no doubt, is the effect of political equality, the consciousness of which accompanies all their intercourse, and may be supposed to operate most powerfully on the manners of the lowest class. For high and low there are, and will be, even here, and in every society, from causes moral and physical, where no political regulations can or ought to controul.
In viewing the Americans, and sketching, in a rude manner, as I pass along, their striking characteristics, I have seen a deformity so general that I cannot help esteeming it national, though I know it admits of very many individual exceptions. I have written it and then erased it, wishing to pass it by: but it wont do: — it is the truth, and to the truth I must adhere. Cleanliness in houses, and too often in person, is neglected to a degree which is very revolting to an Englishman.
America was bred in a cabin: this is not a reproach; for the origin is most honourable: but as she has exchanged her hovel of unhewn jogs for a framed building, and that again for a mansion of brick, some of her cabin habits have been unconsciously retained. Many have already been quitted; and, one by one, they will all be cleared away, as I am told they are now in the cities of the eastern states.
There are, I believe, court-houses which are also made use of as places of worship, in which filth of all kinds has been accumulating ever since they were built. What reverence can be felt for the majesty of religion, or of the laws in such sties of abomination? The people who are content to assemble in them can scarcely respect each other. — Here is a bad public example. It is said, that to clean these places is the office of no one. But why is no person appointed? Might it not be inferred that a disregard to the decencies of life prevails through such a community?
July 19. We are at Princeton, in a log tavern, where neatness is as well observed as at many taverns in the city of Bath, or any city. The town will soon be three years old; the people belong to old America in dress and manners, and would not disgrace old England in the general decorum of their deportment.
But I lament here, as every where, the small
104amount that is had of time. Subsistence is secured so easily, and liberal pursuits being yet too rare to operate as a general stimulus to exertion life is whiled away in a painful state of yawning lassitude.
July 20. The object of our pursuit, like the visions of fancy, has hitherto seemed to recede from our approach: we are, however, at length, arrived at the point where reality is likely to rewind our labours.
Twenty or thirty miles west of this place, in the Illinois territory, is a large country where settlements are just now beginning; and where there is abundant choice of unentered lands of a description which will satisfy our wishes, if the statements of travellers and surveyors can be relied on, after great abatements.
This is a critical season of the year, and we feel some anxiety for the health of our party, consisting often individuals. July and the two succeeding months, are trying to the constitutions of new comers, and this danger must be incurred by us; we hope, however, under circumstances of great mitigation. In the first place, the country is at present, free from sickness, and the floods were too early in the spring, to occasion any apprehensions of an unhealthy autumn to the inhabitants. In the next place, we have an opportunity of choice of situation for our temporary sojourn. Unfortunately, this opportunity
105of choice is limited by the scarcity of houses, and the indifference evinced by settlers to the important object of health, in the fixing their own habitations. The vicinity of rivers from the advantages of navigation and machinery, as well as the fertility of soil having generally suspended a proper solicitude about health.
Prince Town affords a situation for a temporary abode, more encouraging than any place we have before visited in this neighbourhood: it stands on an elevated spot, in an uneven or rolling country, ten miles from the Wabash, and two from the navigable stream of the Patok: but the country is very rich, and the timber vast in bulk and height, so that though healthy at present, to its inhabitants, they can hardly encourage us with the hope of escaping the seasoning to which they say all new comers are subject. There is a very convenient house to be let for nine months, for which we are in treaty. This will accommodate us until our own be prepared for our reception in the spring, and may be rented, with a garden well stocked, for about Å20. I think we shall engage it, and, should a sickly season come on, recede for a time into the high country, about a hundred miles back, returning here to winter, when the danger is past.
As to travelling in the backwoods of America, I think there is none so agreeable, after you
106have used yourself to repose in your own pallet, either on the floor of a cabin, or under the canopy of the woods, with an umbrella over your head, and a noble fire at your feet: you will then escape the only serious nuisance of American travelling — viz. hot rooms and swarming beds, exceeding, instead of repairing, the fatigues of the day. Some difficulties occur from ferries, awkward fords, and rude bridges, with occasional swamps; but such is the sagacity and sure-footedness of the horses, that accidents happen very rarely.
July 21. This is an efficient government. It seems that some irregularities exist, or are suspected in the proceedings of certain of the offices which are established for the sale of public lands. Whilst we were at Vincennes, a confidential individual from the federal city made his appearance at the land office there, with authority to inspect and examine on the spot. Last night the same gentleman lodged here, on his way to the land office at Shawnee Town, at which we propose to make our entries, where he is equally unexpected as he had been at Vincennes, and where his visit is somewhat mal-a-propos as to our convenience. One of the efficient officers, the register, had been left by us sick, about seventy miles from Cincinnati, and the other, the receiver, passed this place for Vincennes yesterday, and fixed to return on
107Sunday, in order to proceed with me through the woods, on Monday, on an exploring expedition to the Illinois. The republican delegate informed me immediately on his arrival, that he had left an absolute injunction for the instant return of the receiver to his office, expressing regret at deranging my plans, at the same time making ample amends by his own arrangement for my accommodation.
The effect produced at Vincennes under my observation, and the decided manner of this gentleman, convince me that this mode of treatment is fully as effectual as that by "motion for the production of papers, and committees for their examination," by which deliberate procedure the inconvenience of surprise is politely obviated.
July 23. The small-pox is likely to be excluded from this state, vaccination being very generally adopted, and inoculation for the small-pox prohibited altogether, — not by law, but by common consent. If it should be known that an individual had undergone the operation, the inhabitants would compel him to withdraw entirely from society. — If he lived in a town, he must absent himself, or he would be driven off.
Mental derangement is nearly unknown in these new countries. There is no instance of insanity at present in this state, which probably, now contains 100,00 inhabitants. A middle-aged
108man; of liberal attainments and observation, who has lived much of his life in Kentucky, and has travelled a good deal over the western country, remarked, as an incident of extraordinary occurrence, that he once knew a lady afflicted with this malady.
The simple maxim, that a man has a right to do any thing but injure his neighbour, is very broadly adopted into the practical as well as political code of this country.
A good citizen is the common designation of respect: when a man speaks of his neighbour as a virtuous man — "he is a very good citizen."
Drunkeness is rare, and quarrelling rare in proportion. Personal resistance to personal aggression, ordesigned affront, holds a high place in the class of duties with the citizens of Indiana.
It seems that the Baptists, (who are the prevailing sect in this country,) by their religious tenets, would restrain this summary mode of redressing injuries among the brethren of their church; a respectable but knotty member of that community was lately arraigned before their spiritual tribunal for supporting heterodox opinions on tills subject. After hearing the arguments derived from the texts of scripture, which favour the doctrine of non-resistance, he rose, and with energy of action suited to his words, declared that he should not wish to live longer than he had the right to knock down the man who told him he lied.
July 24. Regretting, as I must, my perpetual separation from many with whom I was in habits of agreeable intercourse in old England, I am much at my ease on the score of society. We shall possess this one thing needful, which it was supposed the wilderness could not supply, in the families of our own establishment, and a circle of citizen neighbours, such as this little town affords already. There prevails so much good sense and useful knowledge, joined to a genuine warmth of friendly feeling, a disposition to promote the happiness of each other, that the man who is lonely among them is not formed for society. Such are the citizens of these new states, and my unaffected and well considered wish is to spend among them the remainder of my days.
The social compact here is not the confederacy of a few to reduce the many into subjection; but is indeed, and in truth, among these simple republicans, a combination of talents, moral and physical, by which the good of all is promoted in perfect accordance with individual interest. It is, in fact, a better, because a more simple state than was ever pourtrayed by an Utopian theorist.
But the people, like their fellow men, have their irregular and rude passions, and their gross propensities and follies: suited to their condition, as weeds to a particular soil: so that this
110after all, is the real world, and no poetical Arcadia.
One agreeable fact, characteristic of these young associations, presses more and more upon my attention: — there is a great amount of social feeling, much real society in new countries, compared with the number of inhabitants. Their importance to each other on many interesting occasions creates kind sentiments. They have fellow-feeling in hope and fear, in difficulty and success, and they make ten-fold more of each other than the crowded inhabitants of populous countries.
July 25. Harmony. Yesterday we explored the country from this place to the Ohio, about eighteen miles, and returned to-day by a different route. There is a great breadth of valuable land vacants; not the extremely rich river-bottom land, but close, cool sand of excellent quality. It is, however, not so well watered, nor so much varied in surface as is desirable; and we are so taken with the prairies we have seen, and with the accounts we have heard of those before us in the Illinois, that no "timbered" land can satisfy our present views,
We lodged last night in a cabin at a very new town, called Mount Vernon, on the banks of the Ohio. Here we found the people of a cast confirming my aversion to a settlement in the immediate vicinity of a large navigable river.
111Every hamlet is demoralized, and every plantation is liable to outrage, within a short distance of such a thoroughfare.
Yet, the view of that noble expanse was like the opening of bright day upon the gloom of night, to us who had been so long buried in deep forests. It is a feeling of confinement, which begins to damp the spirits, from this complete exclusion of distant objects. To travel day after day, among trees of a hundred feet high, without a glimpse of the surrounding country, is oppressive to a degree which those cannot conceive who have not experienced it; and it must depress the spirits of the solitary settler to pass years in this state. His visible horizon extends no farther than the tops of the trees which bound his plantation — perhaps, five hundred yards. Upwards he sees the sun and sky, and stars, but around him an eternal forest, from which he can never hope to emerge: — not so in a thickly settled district; he cannot there enjoy any freedom of prospect, yet there is variety, and some scope for the imprisoned vision. In a hilly country a little more range of view may occasionally be obtained; and a river is a stream of light as well as of water, which feasts the eye with a delight inconceivable to the inhabitants of open countries.
Under these impressions a prairie country increases in attraction; and to morrow we shall commence a round in the Illinois, which we
112hope will enable us to take some steps towards our final establishment.
July 26. Left Harmony after breakfast, and crossing the Wabash at the ferry, three miles below, we proceeded to the Big Prairie, where to our astonishment, we beheld a fertile plain of grass and arable, and some thousand acres covered with corn, more luxuriant than any we had before seen. The scene reminded us of some open, well cultivated vale in Europe, surrounded by wooded uplands; and forgetting that we were, in fact, on the very frontiers, beyond which few settlers had penetrated, we were transported in idea to the fully peopled regions we had left so far behind us.
On our arrival at Mr. Williams' habitation, the illusion vanished: though the owner of an estate in this prairie, on which at this time are nearly three hundred acres of beautiful corn in one field, he lives in a way, apparently, as remote from comfort, as the settler of one year, who thinks only of the means of supporting existence.
We had also an opportunity of seeing the youth of the neighbourhood, as the muster of the militia took place this day at his house. The company amounts to about thirty, of whom about twenty attended with their rides. In performing the exercise, which was confined to the handling their arms, they were little adroit; but in the use of them against an invading foe, woe to their antagonist!
The soil of the Big-Prairie, which is of no great extent, notwithstanding its name, is a rich cool sand; that is to say, one of the most desirable description. It extends about five miles by four, bounded by an irregular outline of lofty timber, like a lake of verdure, most cheering to our eyes, just emerging from the dark woods of Indiana: this prairie is somewhat marshy, and there is much swampy ground between it and the Wabash, which is distant seven miles: the settlers have, in consequence, suffered from, ague and other bilious complaints, but they are now much more healthy than they were on the first settlement. Cultivation seems to alter the character of the soil: where the plough goes it is no longer a marsh, but dry sandy arable. About thirty miles to the north of this, which was among the earliest prairie settlements of the district, (having been done four or five years) there are prairies of higher aspect, and uneven surface, to which our attention is directed, we found a few settlers round one of these, who are now watching their first crop.
These people are healthy, and the females and children better complexioned than their neighbours of the limber country. It is evident that they breathe better air: but they are in a low state of civilization, about half-Indian in their mode of life: they also seem to have less cordiality towards a "land hunter," as they with
114Some expression of contempt, call the stranger who explores their country in quest of a home.
Their habits of life do not accord with those of a thickly settled neighbourhood: they are hunters by profession, and they would have the whole range of the forests for themselves and their cattle. — Thus strangers appear among them as invaders of their privileges; as they have intruded on the better founded, exclusive privileges of their Indian predecessors.
But there are agreeable exceptions to the coarse part of this general character. I have met with pleasant intelligent people, who were a perfect contrast to their semi-Indian neighbours; cleanly, industrious, and orderly; whilst ignorance, indolence, and disorder, with a total disregard of cleanliness in their houses and persons are too characteristic of the hunter tribe.
August 1. Dagley's, twenty miles north of Shawnee Town. After viewing several beautiful prairies, so beautiful with their surrounding woods as to seem like the creation of fancy, gardens of delight in a dreary wilderness; and after losing our horses and spending two day in recovering them, we took a hunter as our guide, and proceeded across the Little Wabash, to explore the country between that river and the Skillet-fork.
Since we left the Fox settlement, about fifteen miles north of the Big-Prairie, cultivation has
115been very scanty, many miles intervening between the little "clearings." This may therefore be truly called, a new country.
These lonely settlers are poorly off; — their bread corn must be ground thirty miles off, requiring three days to carry to the mill, and bring back, the small horse-load of three bushels. Articles of family manufacture are very scanty, and what they purchase is of the meanest quality and excessively dear; yet they are friendly and willing to share their simple fare with you. It is surprising how comfortable they seem, wanting every thing. To struggle with privations has now become the habit of their lives, most of them having made several successive plunges into the wilderness; and they begin already to talk of selling their "improvements," and getting farther "back," on finding that emigrants of another description are thickening about them.
Our journey across the Little Wabash was a complete departure from all mark of civilization. We saw no bears, as they are now buried in the thickets, and seldom appear by day; but, at every few yards, we saw recent marks of their doings, "wallowing" in the long grass; or turning over the decayed logs in quest of beetles or worms, in which work the strength of this animal is equal to that of four men. Wandering without track; where even the capacity of our
116hunter-guide had nearly failed us, we at length arrived at the cabin of another hunter, where we lodged.
This roan and his family are remarkable instances of the effect on the complexion, produced by the perpetual incarceration of a thorough woodland life. Incarceration may seem to be a term less applicable to the condition of a roving backwoods' man than to any other, and especially unsuitable to the habits of this individual and his family; for the cabin in which he entertained us, is the third dwelling he has built within the last twelve months; and a very slender motive would place him in a fourth before the ensuing winter. In his general habits, the hunter ranges as freely as the beasts he pursues; labouring under no restraint, his activity is only bounded by his own physical powers: still he is incarcerated — "Shut from the common air." Buried in the depth of a boundless forest, the breeze of health never reaches these poor wanderers; the bright prospect of distant hills-fading away into the semblance of clouds, never cheered their sight: they are tall and pale, like vegetables that grow in a vault, pining for light.
The man, his pregnant wife, his eldest son, tall half-naked youth, just initiated in the hunters' arts, his three daughters, growing up into great rude girls, and a squalling tribe of dirty brats of both sexes, are of one pale yellow, without the slightest lint of healthful bloom.
In passing through a vast expanse of the backwoods, I have been so much struck with this effect, that I fancy I could determine the colour of the inhabitants, if I was apprised of the depth of their immersion; and, vice versa, I could judge of the extent of the "clearing" if I saw the people. The blood, I fancy, is not supplied with its proper dose of oxygen from their gloomy atmosphere, crowded with vegetables growing almost in the dark, or decomposing; and in either case, abstracting from the air this vital principle.
Our stock of provisions being nearly exhausted, we were anxious to provide ourselves with a supper by means of our guns; but we could meet with neither deer nor turkey; however, in our utmost need, we shot three racoons, an old one to be roasted for our dogs, and the two young ones to be stewed-up daintily for ourselves. We soon lighted a fire, and cooked the old racoon for the dogs; but, famished as they were, they would not touch it, and their squeamishness so far abated our relish for the promised stew, that we did not press our complaining landlady to prepare it: and thus our supper consisted of the residue of our "corn" bread, and no racoon. However, we laid our bearskins on the filthy earth, (floor there was none,) which they assured us was "too damp for fleas," and wrapped in our blankets, slept soundly
118enough; though the collops of venison, hanging in comely rows in the smoky fire-place, and even the shoulders, put by for the dogs, and which were suspended over our heads, would have been an acceptable prelude to our night's rest, had we been invited to partake of them; but our hunter and our host were too deeply engaged in conversation to think of supper. In the morning the latter kindly invited us to cook some of the collops, which we did by toasting them on a stick; and he also divided some shoulders among the dogs: — so we all fared sumptuously.
The cabin, which may serve as a specimen of these rudiments of houses, was formed of round logs with apertures of three or four inches between: no chimney, but large intervals between the "clapboards," for the escape of the smoke. The roof was, however, a more effectual covering than we have generally experienced, as it protected us very tolerably from a drenching night. Two bedsteads of unhewn logs, and cleft boards laid across; — two chairs, one of them without a bottom, and a low stool, were all the furniture required by this numerous family. A string of buffalo hide, stretched across the hovel, was a wardrobe for their rags; and their utensils, consisting of a large iron pot, some baskets, the effective rifle and two that were superannuated, stood about in corners, and the fiddle, which was only silent when we were asleep, hung by them.
119Our racoons, though lost to us and out hungry dogs, furnished a new set of strings for this favourite instrument. Early in the morning the youth had made good progress in their preparation, as they were cleaned and stretched on a tree to dry.
Many were the tales of dangerous adventures in their hunting expeditions, which kept us from our pallets till a late hour; and the gloomy morning allowed our hunters to resume their discourse, which no doubt would have been protracted to the evening, had not our impatience to depart caused us to interrupt it, which we effected, with some difficulty, by eleven in the forenoon.
These hunters are as persevering as savages, and as indolent. They cultivate indolence as a privilege: — "You English are very industrious, but we have freedom." And thus they exist in yawning indifference, surrounded with nuisances, and petty wants, the first to be removed, and the latter supplied by a tenth of the time loitered away in their innumerable idle days.
Indolence, under various modifications, seems to be the easily besetting sin of the Americans, where I have travelled. The Indian probably (lands highest on the scale, as an example; the backwoods' man the next; the new settler, who declines bunting takes a lower degree, and, so on. I have seen interesting exceptions even
120among the hunting tribe; but the malady is a prevailing one in all classes; — I note it again, and again, not in the spirit of satire, but as a hint for reformation:
"To know ourselves diseas'd is half a cure."
The Little Wabash, which we crossed in search of some prairies, which had been described to us in glowing colours, is a sluggish and scanty stream at this season, but far three months of the latter part of winter and spring, it covers a great space by the overflow of waters collected in its long course. The Skillet-fork is also a river of similar character; and the country lying between them must labour under the inconvenience of absolute seclusion for many months every year, until bridges and ferries are established: this would be a bar to our settling within the "Fork," as, it is called: we therefore separated this morning, without losing the time that it would require to explore this part thoroughly. I proceed to Shawnee Town land office, to make some entries which we had determined on, between the Little and the Big Wabash. Mr. Flower spends a day or two in looking about, and returns to our families at Princeton. Having made my way through this wildest of wildernesses to the Skillet-fork, I crossed it at a shoal, which affords a notable instance out of a thousand, of the utter worthlessness
121of reports about remote objects in this country, even from soi-disant eye-witnesses.
A grave old hunter, who had the air of much sagacity, declared to me, that he had visited this shoal, that it is a bed of limestone, a substance greatly wanting in this country. The son confirmed the father's account, adding, that he had seen the stone burnt into lime. It is micaceous sandstone slate, without the least affinity to limestone!
It is a dreadful country on each side of the, Skillet-fork; flat and swampy; so that the water in many places, even at this season, renders travelling disagreeable; yet here and there, at ten miles distance perhaps, the very solitude tempts some one of the family of Esau to pitch his tent for a season.
At one of these lone dwellings we found a neat, respectable-looking female, spinning under the little piazza at one side of the cabin, which shaded her from the sun: her husband was absent on business, which would detain him some weeks: she had no family, and no companion but her husband's faithful dog, which usually attended him in his bear hunting in the winter: she was quite overcome with "lone" she said, and hoped we would tie our horses in the wood, and sit awhile with her, during the heat of the day. We did so, and she rewarded us with a basin of coffee. Her husband was kind and
122good to her, and never left her without necessity, but a true lover of bear hunting; which he pursued alone, taking only his dog with him, though it is common for hunters to go in parties to attack this dangerous animal. He had killed a great number last winter; five, I think, in one week. The cabin of this hunter was neatly arranged, and the garden well stocked.
August 2. "We lodged last night at another cabin, where similar neatness prevailed within and without. The woman neat, and the children clean in skin; and whole in their clothes. The man possessed of good sense and sound notions, ingenious and industrious, a contrast to backwoods' men in general. He lives on the edge of the seven miles' prairie, a spot charming to the eye, but deficient in surface-water; and they say the well-water is not good: I suppose they have not dug deeper than twenty-five feet, which is no criterion of the purity of springs in a soil absorbent from the surface to that depth.
Shawnee Town. This place I account as a phenomenon evincing the pertinacious adhesion of the human animal to the spot where it has once fixed itself. As the lava of Mount Etna cannot dislodge this strange being from the cities which have been repeatedly ravaged by its eruptions, so the Ohio with its annual overflowings is unable to wash away the inhabitants of Shawnee Town. — Once a year, for a series
123of successive springs, it has carried away the fences from their cleared lands, till at length they have surrendered, and ceased to cultivate them. Once a year, the inhabitants either make their escape to higher lands, or take refuge in their upper stories, until the waters subside, when they recover their position on this desolate sandbank.
Here is the land office for the south-east district of Illinois, where I have just constituted myself a land-owner by paying seven hundred and twenty dollars, as one fourth of the purchase money of fourteen hundred and forty acres: this, with a similar purchase made by Mr. Flower, is part of a beautiful and rich prairie, about six miles distant from the Big, and the same from the Little Wabash.
The land is rich natural meadow, bounded by timbered land, within reach of two navigable rivers, and may be rendered immediately productive at a small expence. The successful cultivation of several prairies has awakened the attention of the public, and the value of this description of land is now known; so that the smaller portions, which are surrounded by timber, will probably be settled so rapidly as to absorb, in a few months, all that is to be obtained at the government rate, of two dollars per acre.
Sand predominates in the soil of the south-eastern
124quarter of the Illinois territory: the basis of the country is sand-stone, lying, I believe, on clay-slate. The bed of the Ohio, at Shawnee Town is sand-stone: forty miles northeast, near Harmony, is a quarry of the same stone, on the banks of the Big Wabash. The shoals of the Little Wabash and the Skilletfork, twenty, forty, and sixty miles up, are of the same formation. No lime-stone has yet been discovered in the district. I have heard of coal in several places, but have not seen a specimen of it. Little, however, is yet known with precision of the surface of many parts of the country; and the wells, though numerous, rarely reach the depth of thirty feet, below which, I presume, the earth has in no instance been explored.
The geographical position of this portion of territory promises favourable for its future importance. The Big Wabash, a noble stream, forming its eastern boundary, runs a course of about four hundred miles, through one of the most fertile portions of this most fertile region. It has a communication well known to the Indian traders, with lake Huron and all the navigation of the north, by means of a portage of eight miles to the Miami of the lakes. This portage will, probably, be made navigable in a few years. Population is already very considerable along this river, and upon White River, another beautiful
125and navigable stream, which falls into the Wabash from the east. The Little Wabashy though a sluggish stream, is, or may become a navigable communication extending far north, I am informed four hundred miles.
The prairies have been represented as marshes, and many of them are so. This is not, however, the case with all. Our prairie rises at its northern extremity to a commanding height, being one of the most elevated portions of the country, surmounting and overlooking the woodlands to the south and west, to a great distance. There are also many others to the northward on lands of the same eligible character, high and fertile, and surrounded by timbered lands. These are unsurveyed, and of course are not yet offered to the public.
Nothing but fencing and providing water for stock is wanted to reduce a prairie into the condition of useful grass land; and from that state, We all know, the transition to arable is through a simple process, easy to perform, and profitable as it goes on. Thus no addition, except the above on the score of improvement, is to be made to the first cost, as regards the land. Buildings, proportioned to the owner's inclination or purse, are of course, requisite on every estate.
The dividing a section (six hundred and forty acres) into inclosures of twenty-five acres each,
126with proper avenues of communication, each inclosure being supplied with water, in the most convenient manner, and live hedges planted, or sown, will cost less than two dollors per acre. This added to the purchase money, when the whole is paid, will amount to eighteen shillings sterling, per acre, or five hundred and seventy six pounds for six hundred and forty acres.
Calculations on the capital to be employed, or expended on buildings, and stock alive and dead, would be futile, as this would be in proportion to the means. The larger the amount, within the limits of utility, the greater the profit: but, as the necessary outgoings are trifling, a small sum would do. Two thousand pounds sterling for these purpose would place the owner in a state of comfort, and even affluence.
I conclude from these data, that an English farmer possessing three thousand pounds, besides the charges of removal may establish himself well as a proprietor and occupier of such an estate. The folly or the wisdom of the undertaking I leave among the propositions which are too plain to admit of ilustration.
In their irregular outline of woodland and their undulating surface, these tracts of natural meadow exhibit every beauty, fresh from the hand of nature, which art often labours in vain to produce; but there are no organs of perception, no faculties as yet prepared in this
127country, for the enjoyment of these exquisite combinations.
The grand in scenery I have been shocked to hear, by American lips, called disgusting, because the surface would be too rude for the plough; and the epithet of elegant is used or every occasion of commendation but that to which it is appropriate in the English language.
An elegant improvement, is a cabin of rude logs, and a few acres with the trees cut down to the height of three feet, and surrounded by worm-fence, or zig-zag railing. You hear of a elegant mill, an elegant orchard, an elegant tanyard, &c. and familiarly of elegant roads, meaning such as you may pass without extreme peril. The word implies eligibility or usefulness in America, but has nothing to do with taste; which is a term as strange to the American language, where I have heard it spoken, as comfort Is said to be to the French, and a similar reason: — the idea has not yet reach them. Nature has not yet displayed to them those charms of distant and various prospect which will delight the future inhabitants of this noble country.
Scientific pursuits are also, generally speaking unknown where I have travelled. Reading is very much confined to politics, history and poetry. Science is not, as in England, cultivated for its own sake. This is to be lamented
128the more, on account of the many heavy hours of indolence under which most people are doomed to toil, through every day of their existence. What yawning and stretching, and painful restlessness they would be spared, if their time were occupied in the acquisition of useful knowledge!
There is a sort of covetousness which would be the greatest of blessings, to those Americans whose circumstances excuse them from constant occupation for a subsistence, — that is, to the great majority of the people, — the covetousness of time, from a knowledge of its value.
The life and habits of the great Franklin, whose name, I am sorry to say, is not often hard here, would be a most profitable study. He possessed the true Philosopher's stone; for whatever he touched became gold under his hand, through the magical power of a scientific mind. This lamentable deficiency in science and taste, two such abundant sources of enjoyment, must not be attributed to a want of energy in the American character: — witness the spirit and good sense with which men of all ranks are seen to engage in discussions on politics, history, or religion; subjects which have attracted, more or less, the attention of every one. Nature has done much for them, and they leave much to Nature: but they have made themselves free; — this may account for
129their indifference to science, and their zeal in politics.
August 3. Harmony — We left Shawnee Town this morning under more agreeable impressions regarding its inhabitants than we had entertained before we entered it. We found something, certainly, of river barbarism; the genuine Ohio character; but we met with a greater number than we expected of agreeable individuals: these, and the kind and hospitable treatment we experienced at our tavern, formed a good contrast to the rude society and wretched fare we had left behind us at the Skillet-fork. At this, our third visit, Harmony becomes more enigmatical. This day, being Sunday, afforded us an opportunity of seeing grouped and in their best attire, a large part of the members of this wonderful community. It was evening when we arrived, and we saw no human creature about the streets: — we had even to call the landlord of the inn out of church to take charge of our horses. The cows were waiting round the little dwellings, to supply the inhabitants with their evening's meal. Soon the entire body of people, which is about seven hundred, poured out of the church, and exhibited so much health, and peace, and neatness in their persons, that we could not but exclaim, surely the institutions which produce so much happiness must have more of good than of evil, in
130them; and here I rest, not lowered in my abhorrence of the hypocrisy, if it be such, which governs the ignorant by nursing them in superstition; but inclined in charity to believe that the leaders are sincere. Certain it is, that living in such plenty, and a total abstraction from care about the future provision for a family, it must be some overhearing thraldom that prevents an increase of their numbers by the natural laws of population.
I had rather attribute this phenomenon to bigotry pervading the mass, than charge a few with the base policy of chaining a multitude, by means of superstition. It is, however, difficult to separate the idea of policy from a contrivance which is so highly political. The number of Mr. Rapp's associates would increase so rapidly, without some artificial restraint, as soon to become unmanageable.
This colony is useful to the neighbourhood, a term which includes a large space here; it furnishes from its store many articles of great value, not so well supplied elsewhere; and it is a market fur all spare produce. There are also valuable culinary plants and fruit trees, for which the neighbourhood is indebted to the Harmionites; and they set a good example of neatness and industry: but they are despised as ignorant; and men are not apt to imitate what they scorn. Ignorant as the mass of Harmonites
131may be, when we contrast their neatness and order, with the slovenly habits of their neighbours, we see the good arising from mere association, which advances these poor people a century, probably much more, on the social scale, beyond the solitary beings who build their huts in the wilderness. For my reflections on the principles which may be supposed to actuate the rulers of this highly prosperous community, having no personal knowledge of the parties who govern, nor intimacy with any of the governed, I have no data, except the simple and, possibly, superficial observations of a traveller. Should I in this character have underrated or mistaken them, I shall, when their neighbour, gladly repair my error.
From our entrance into the state of Ohio, at Wheeling, to the southern boundary of the Illinois, there is, properly speaking, no capital employed in agriculture, as far as our observations extended.
The little that exists, over and above the value of the soil, is to be seen in towns, in the stores, and in mills.
The whole stock of the first settlers generally consisted in their two hands: and the property they now possess — the fruit of the labour of these hands — can hardly be considered as capital employed in agriculture, as the sum of the best improvements yet effected, only consists in
132a few more of the necessaries of life; and when the little money that is obtained for produce is expended in further improvements, the cultivator merely suspends his right to partake of its comforts. He has no capital, properly speaking, employed in agriculture, whilst he remains unfurnished with the means of comfortable living.
As exceptions to the universal bareness and poverty of the country in regard of capital, there are a few instances in which its association with the physical power of numbers, has produced effects so marvellous, that it seems to be equally marvellous that such striking advantages should not have produced more undertakings of a similar nature.
The instances I allude to, are the two settlements of the Shakers, one near Lebanon, in the stale of Ohio, and the other on the Wabash, fifteen miles north of Vincennes, in the state of Indiana: — also the original establishment of Mr. Rapp and his followers in Pennsylvania, and their present wonderful colony of Harmony, on the Wabash, thirty miles south of this place.
In the institution of these societies, the Shakers and the Harmonites, — religion, or, if you will, fanaticism, seems to be an agent so powerful, and in fact is so powerful in its operation on the conduct of their members, that we are apt to attribute all the wonders that arise
133within the influence of this principle, to its agency alone; for what may not be effected, by a sentiment which can bear down and abrogate entirely, in the instance of the Shakers, and nearly so in that of the Harmonites, the first great and fundamental law of human, or rather of all, nature? I allude to the tenet which is avowed in the former, and more obscurely inculcated in the latter, that the gospel of Christ is offered to them under the injunction of abstinence from sexual intercourse.
I have had repeated opportunities of personal observation, on the effects of the united efforts of the Harmonites. The result of a similar union of powers among the Shakers, has been described to me by a faithful witness; and I am quite convinced that the association of numbers, in the application of a good capital, is sufficient to account for all that has been done ; and that the unnatural restraint, which forms so prominent and revolting a feature of these institutions, is prospective, rather than immediate in its object.
It has, however, as I before remarked, the mischievous tendency to render their example, so excellent in other respects, altogether unavailing. Strangers visit their establishments, and retire from them full of admiration: but, a slavish acquiescence under a disgusting superstition, is so remarkable an ingredient in their character, that it checks all desire of imitation.
I wish to see capital and population concentrated, with no bond of cohesion, but common interest arising out of vicinity: the true elements, as I conceive of a prosperous community.
The effects of this simple association would not be so immediately striking as those above mentioned, because the entire physical strength of the society could not be directed to one point, but would be apparent after a little time. Such a society needs only room to prosper. No emancipation or breaking up would be feared or thought of.
There is a plan before us, not yet sufficiently matured for publication, which I hope may, at no distant time, afford to some of our countrymen the means of proving, that capital, skill, and industry, are capable of changing "a wilderness into a fruitful field," without the stimulus of fanaticism, or the restraints of superstition. The leading features of this scheme are, that men of capital who shall embark in it may, by affording to the poor the means of escaping from their sufferings, secure to themselves those enjoyments and habits of life to which their station in society has accustomed them: and obviating in respect to both classes the chief inconveniences of emigration.
The great want of capital in this country is evinced by this circumstance: the growers of "corn" (Indian corn) and other grain, sell at
135this season regularly, under me knowledge that it will as regularly advance to double the price before the next harvest. We now have an offer of two hundred barrels of "corn," five bushels to the barrel, at a dollar per barrel, when the seller is quite aware that it will be worth two dollars per barrel at Midsummer. Thus store-keepers, or other capitalists, receive as much for the crop, clear of expences, as the grower himself, who clears the land, ploughs, sows, and reaps it. We may judge from this consideration how much the farmer is kept back for want of spare capital; and what will be the advantages of the settler who commands it. The same remark applies to bacon, and every article of produce.
We must not suppose, that the poor farmer who is obliged to sell under such a disadvantage, is absolutely poor. He is, on the contrary, a thriving man. Probably, the person who now spares us from his heap, two hundred barrels of corn, possessed three years ago, nothing but his wife and family, his bands, and his title to a farm where axe had never been lifted. He now, in addition, has a cabin, a barn, stable, horses, cows, and hogs; implements, furniture, grain, and other provision; thirty or forty acres of cleared land, and more in preparation, and well fenced; and his quarter section in its present state, worth four times its cost. He is
136growing rich, but he would proceed at a double speed, if he had the value of one year's crop beforehand: such is the general condition of new settlers.
A good cow and calf is worth from twelve to twenty dollars; a two year old heifer, six dollars; sheep are scarce; ewes are worth about three dollars a head; a sow three dollars; a stout horse for drawing, sixty dollars or upwards.
Wheat sells at 3s. 41/4d. sterling, per bushel, Winchester measure. — Oats, 1s. 4d. — Indian corn, 11d., — Hay, about 35s. per ton. — Flour, per barrel, 36s : 196 lb. nett. — Fowls, 4 1/2d. each. — Eggs, 1/2d. — Butter, 6d. per pound. — Cheese, rarely seen, 13 1/2d. per lb. — Meat, 2d. per lb. — A buck, 4s. 6d. without the skin. — Salt, 3s. 4d. per bushel. — Milk, given away. — Tobacco, 3d. per pound.
Our design was to commence housekeeping, but, being near the tavern, we continued to board there. This is more convenient to us, as there is but a poor market in this little town, and the tavern charges are reasonable. Our board is two dollars per week, each person, for which we receive twenty one meals. Excellent coffee and tea, with broiled chickens, bacon, &c. for breakfast and supper; and variety of good but simple fare at dinner; about five-pence sterling a meal. No liquor but water is thought
137of at meals in this country, besides coffee, tea, or milk.
Travelling expences are very regular and moderate, amounting to a dollar per day, for man and horse, — viz. —
|Breakfast and feed for horse||37 1/2 Cents|
|Feed for horse at noon||12 1/2|
|Supper, and lodging, man and horse||50|
|100 that is 1 dollar|
The power of capital in this newly settled or settling region, is not thoroughly understood in the eastern states, or emigration would not be confined to the indigent or laborious classes. These seem to be all in motion; for the tide sets far more strongly from these states towards the west, than from all Europe together. Trade follows of course; and it is not surprising that old America no longer affords a sure asylum for the distressed of other countries.
I am fully convinced, that those who are not screwed up to the full pitch of enterprize had better remain in old England, than attempt agriculture or business of any kind (manual operations excepted) in the Atlantic states. Emigrants from Europe are too apt to linger in the eastern cities, wasting their time, their money, and their resolution. They should push out westward without delay, where they can live cheaply until they fix themselves. Two dollars,
138saved in Pennsylvania, will purchase an acre of good land in the Illinois.
The laud carriage from Philadelphia, to Pittsburg, is from seven to ten dollars per cwt. (100 lb.) Clothing, razors, pocket-knives, pencils, mathematical instruments, and light articles in general, of constant usefulness, ought to be carried even at this expence, and books, which are scarce, and much wanted in the west. Good guns-locks are rare and difficult to procure. No heavy implements will pay carriage.
A pocket compass is indispensable for every stranger who ventures alone into the woods of America; and he should always carry the means of lighting a fire: for the traveller, when he starts in the morning on a wilderness journey, little knows where next he may lay his head. — Tow rubbed with gunpowder is good tinder: — a few biscuits, a phial of spirits, a tomahawk, and a good blanket, are necessary articles. Overtaken by night, or bewildered, if thus provided, you may be really comfortable by your blazing fire; when without them, you would feel dismal and disconsolate. A dog is a pleasant and useful fellow-traveller in the backwoods. You should make your fire with a fallen tree for a back-log, and lie to leeward, with your feet towards it. The smoke flying over, will preserve you from the damp air, and musquitoes. Tie your horse with a long rein,
139to the end of a bough, or the top of a young hickery tree, which will allow him to graze or browse; and change his position if you awake in the night.
Princeton, August 4. When the back country of America is mentioned in England, musquitoes by night, and rattlesnakes by day never fail to alarm the imagination; to say nothing of wolves and bears, and panthers, and Indians still more ferocious. Our course of travelling from the mouth of James River, and over the mountains, up to Pittsburg, about five hundred miles; then three hundred miles through the woods of the state of Ohio, down to Cincinnati; next across the entire wilderness of Indiana, and to the extreme south of the Illinois: — This long and deliberate journey, one would suppose, might have introduced our party to an intimate acquaintance with some of these pests of America. We have, it is true, killed several of the serpent tribe; black snakes, garter snakes, &c.; and have seen one rattles snake of extraordinary size. We have had musquitoes in a few damp spots, just as we should have had gnats in England. In our late expeditions in the Illinois, where we have led the lives of thorough backwoods' men, if we have been so unfortunate as to pitch our tent on the edge of a creek, or near a swamp, and have mismanaged our fire, we have been teazed
140with musquitoes, as we might have been in the fens of Cambridgeshire: this is the sum total of our experience of these reported plagues.
But, for this forbearance, ample amends are made by the innumerable tormentors which assail you in almost every dwelling, till at length you are glad, as evening approaches, to avoid the abodes of man, and spread your pallet under the trees.
This in-doors calamity is so universal in the backwoods that it seems to be unavoidable, and is submitted to as such with wondrous equanimity: by degrees, however, as the present wretched and crowded hovels shall give place to roomy and convenient habitations, the spirit of cleanliness will gain admission, and the miseries which always accompany filth and disorder will be brushed away, as the plagues of Egypt were charmed by Aaron's rod.
Wolves and bears are extremely numerous, and (especially the latter) very injurious to the newly-settled districts. Hogs, which are a main dependance for food as well as profit, are their constant prey; and their holds are so strong,, that the hunters are unable to keep down their numbers. There is a swamp of several miles in length, to the north of Shawnee Town, (and, I am told, there are many other such places) which is only passable for man over the dams made by beavers; here the bears are absolute:
141the swamp affords abundance of food for hogs also, and they will resort to it. Yesterday, as I was riding along the side of this swamp, a farmer told me he had lost eight large hogs there this summer.
The wolves are very destructive to both hogs and sheep: but they seldom attack sheep till a few years after a settlement has been made, when accident or hunger induces them to make trial of mutton; and when they have once tasted it they are not easily deterred. Bears are lean in summer and very swift of foot, so that dogs can hardly overtake them; but in winter they grow excessively fat on hickery nuts and other kinds of mast, and are unable to run for want of breath; and this is the season of bear-hunting. The flesh of bears is in high estimation, and the skin is worth from three to five dollars, according to the size. — Neither of these marauders attack man unless when they are wounded, when they turn on the hunter with great fury.
August 5. The heat of this climate is not so oppressive to my feelings in the open prairies as in the deep woods, nor in either so much so as I expected. I have been using strong exercise through three of the hottest days that have been experienced for years, as say the people who talk of the weather, in the prairies — at Shawnee Town, on the Ohio, and here at Princeton —
142"How did you stand the heat of Sunday Monday, and Tuesday?" The fact was, that, on one of those days, I walked with my gun in the prairie, exposed to the sun's rays, in quest of turkies, and travelled on horseback the other two, without great inconvenience. There is the comfort of a breeze every day; and the only breezeless sultry night I have experienced, proved the prelude to a thunder storm the succeeding day.
I think it may be attributed to these frequent thunder storms, that the summers of this climate are so pleasant and salubrious. When the fervency of the season becomes oppressive suddenly the clouds collect, and a few rattling peals are heard; if near, accompanied by a soaking shower; if at a distance, you have no rain: but the cooling invigorating effect is soon perceived in the atmosphere.
August 7. We are now domiciliated in Princeton. Though at the farthest limits of Indiana, but two years old, and containing about fifty houses, this little town affords respectable society: it is the county-town, and can boast as many well-informed genteel people, in proportion to the number of inhabitants, as any county-town I am acquainted with. I think there are half as many individuals who are entitled to that distinction as there are houses, and not one decidedly vicious character, nor
143one that is not able and willing to maintain himself.
August 9. In my note of June 22, in which I attempted to give an outline of our views, regarding the settlement we were in quest of, is a remark on the increasing- facility of accomplishing the upward navigation of the Mississipi and Ohio, by means of steam; from which it was inferred, that the grand intercourse between this western world, and Europe, would be through the Mississippi; and that consequently, the lower down the Ohio would eventually be the higher to Europe.
We have, at length, dropped our anchor where we communicate with that river five hundred miles nearer to New Orleans than Cincinnati, where that note was written; and the following extract from the log book of the steam boat Etna, in the Louisville Courier, which we have just received, comes very seasonably in confirmation of that opinion: it is curious in itself, and a specimen of the local intelligence, which furnishes materials for our western journalists.
The average of speed against stream, of a steam-vessel heavily laden, is about sixty miles a-day. Their loading upwards, consists of dry goods, pottery, cotton, sugar, wines, liquors, salted fish, &c. besides passengers: downwards, of grain, flour, tobacco, bacon, &c. A considerable
144number of these vessels, I believe, about twenty-five, measuring from fifty to four hundred tons burthen, are now plying on these rivers; generally built at Pittsburg, or their machinery prepared there.
Extract from the Log Book of the Steam-Boat, Etna, de Hart, from Neio Orleans, to Louisville.
1817, June 6. Left New Orleans.
12. Arrived at Natchez. Left 15th.
18. Passed the barge, Mary Ann, bound up above the gulph.
19. Passed the barge, Cincinnati, above the Yazoo river.
20. Passed the barge, General Washington, below the Crow's-nest.
24. In the morning, below the Arkansas, met the Franklin.
26. Passed the steam-boat, Buffalo, Captain Sturges, bound up, thirty miles below the river St. Francis. At three P. M. met the steam-boat, Kentucky, seven days from the Falls.
28. Passed the steam-boat, Harriet, above the Grand Cut-off,
145with a leaky boiler. One P. M. met the steam-boat, Washinglon,Captain Shrove, thirty miles below Chicke-saw Bluffs, four days from the Falls. Four P. M. met the steam-boat, Vesuvius, de Hart, eighteen miles below the Bluffs; three days and a half from the Falls.
1817, July 1. Passed the barge Independance, fifty-five days from New Orleans, above the Devil's Race Ground. Also passed a sloop barge.
6. About New Madrid passed a sloop barge.
8. In the Ohio, below the Three Sisters, pissed the barge Expedition.
10. Stopped and discharged cargo at Shawnee Town.
11. Stopped and discharged cargo at Henderson.
13. Passed the Triton Baun, in the Mouth of Sinking Creek, discharging cargo.
14. At four, A. M. passed a sloop barge at Big Blue River. — Arrived at Louisville,
On this voyage she passed, or met, five other steam-boats, besides the Franklin and Triton which I suspect were also steam-boats. Nine-tenths of the trade is yet carried on in the usual craft; flat-boats, barges, piragues, &c.
Shawnee Town is 1,200 miles from New Orleans, which distance may be performed in twenty days, provided there are no delays, This is the nearest point on the Ohio to our intended residence, (45 miles distance,) and may therefore be considered as our shipping port, from which we have navigable communication, by the Wabash, into our immediate vicinity.
Thus situated, in the interior of a vast continent, we may have communication with Europe, either for the export of produce or the introduction of merchandise calculating on the addition of a month to the voyage across the Atlantic.
August 10. It is even so. See note of July 7. We are on the confines of society, among the true backwoods' men. We have been much among them — have lodged in their cabins, and partaken of their wretched and. scanty fare: they have been our pilots to explore situations still more remote, and which only hunters visit.
From a nearer view of these people, some thing must be withdrawn from the picture which
147is given of their moral character, in the note above referred to.
It is rather an ill-chosen or unfortunate attachment to the hunters' life, than an unprincipled aversion to the regulations of society, which keeps them aloof from the abodes of more civilized men.
They must live where there is plenty of "bear and deer, and wild honey." Bear-hunting; is their supreme delight: to enjoy this they are content to live in all manner of wretchedness and poverty: yet they are not savage in disposition, but honest and kind; ready to forward our wishes", and even to labour for us, though our coming will compel them to remove to the "outside" again.
Not a settlement in this country is of a year's standing — no harvest has yet rewarded their toil; but our approach, as I anticipated, will dislodge many of them, unless they should be tempted by our dollars to try the effect of labour, instead of the precarious supply derived from their beloved rifle. Half-a-dozen of these people, who had placed themselves round a beautiful prairie, have, in fact, come forward to sell us their all, — fat cattle, hogs, and this their first crop of corn, now just maturing: if we purchase they will go to some deeper recess, and build other cabins, and prepare cattle and corn, to be again emitted at the approach of
148some succeeding adventurers like ourselves; who may be considered, in this view, as the next grade in society.
But, that our friends in England, who may read these notes, may have an idea of our real position, let them consider our two families, viz. that of my friend Mr. George Flower, late of Marden, in England, and my own, about to be fixed upon eligible sites on our two adjoining estates, of fifteen hundred acres each, which we have carved for ourselves from a beautiful prairie and the adjoining woods.
Here we are preparing to raise buildings: carpenters and builders have offered themselves; estimates are made, and materials are at hand. We are also providing for gardens and orchards, that we may literally "sit under our own vines and our own fig trees." We might now mow many hundred acres of valuable grass if we had a good stock of cattle to require it.
The fee simple of each of these estates amounts to three thousand dollars, Å675 sterling; they are liable to a land tax of thirty dollars a-year to the general government, and about the same to the county, together something more than one penny per acre.
We shall have a certain and good market for produce from the growing population; or by export down the Ohio.
Cattle and hogs thrive well, and even fatten, especially the latter, to a great size on the food they find; and there is no bound to the number that may be raised, but in the ability of the breeder: they require little care, except to protect them from bears and wolves — keeping them tame, by giving them salt frequently.
On these estates we hope to live much as we have been accustomed to live in England: but this is not the country for fine gentlemen or fine ladies of any class or description, especially for those who love state, and require abundance of attendants.
To be easy and comfortable here, a man should know how to wait upon himself, and practise it, much more, indeed, than is common among the Americans themselves, on whom the accursed practice of slave-keeping has, I think, entailed habits of indolence even where it has been abolished: it has also produced, among those who have no objection to earning their subsistence by labour in any other way, a bigotted aversion to domestic service. House slaves are called "servants," and the word "slave" and "servant," are in many places synonymous, meaning "slave." Thus abhorring the name of domestic service, as implying slavery, they keep their young people at home in indolence, and often in rags, when they might be improved in every way, by the easy employment
150offered them in the farms of their more affluent neighbours.
This prejudice against a name, I should think might gradually be surmounted by good management, and the powerful co-operation of self-interest. But however this may be, families who remove into western America, either from Europe, or the Atlantic states, should bring with them the power and the inclination to dispense in a great degree, with domestic servants. How far this may by carried, consistently with real comfort, is yet to be proved; but I believe, very far, by the aid of various mechanical and economical contrivances, which money may procure where it cannot procure servants; and these aided by a simple system of living.
After all, some real convenience, and some agreeable reflections, arise out of the scarcity of domestics: — parade entertainments are discouraged by it; and, if altogether relinquished, so much the better: hospitality need not suffer.
There is also compensation for some privations, in reflecting that you are not here surrounded by crowds of indigent fellow-creatures, who would gladly pick the crumbs that fall from your table: with more of these, the rich might better supply their domestic establishments: but who is the American who desires such a state of things?
The inconvenience sustained by a few may be cheerfully borne when we consider that it arises out of the general prosperity.
August 31. On revising these notes, I find some passages which will not suit the taste of such of my former or ray present countrymen, (for I new consider myself an American) as have a relish for national flattery: — but as truth has been my sole object, I deserve their confidence; and shall obtain it, though it may be with some degree of reluctance: and thus my end will be accomplished, which was to inform, rather than to please.
The world we have left at so remote a distance, and of which we hear so little, seems, to my imagination, like a past scene, and its transactions, as matter rather of history, than of present interest: but there are times, when the recollection of individuals, dear to us, and whom we cannot hope to meet again on earth, might be too painful; but the occupation? which surround us soon demand our attention, and afford, — not a cure — for this, which is the only serious ill which we experience from our change, but a sure alleviation.
The report of our intended establishment in the Illinois spreads far and wide; and such is the attraction of population to capital, that many entries are already made by new settlers in our intended neighbourhood, and applications occur
152daily from many who are desirous of moving to us, as we may be in a condition to provide them with employment.
Our design is to commence operations by building a number of cabins with inclosures of two acres and a half each, along the sides of a section, which is to be reserved as their cow pasture.
These cottages, and inclosures, with a well between two, may be rented by persons who will resort to us for the sake of good earnings. If they were ready I think they would be occupied by handicraftsmen immediately; that is, as soon as the transport of their families could be effected.
The proposals, which have been already made, anticipating our views warrant this conclusion.
Here then, is a town about to rise before us; of no equivocal origin, but the necessary result of capital applied to cultivation under these favourable circumstances. I alluded, some pages back, to a larger plan, which we had in contemplation, not then sufficiently matured to be laid fully before our friends.
Since the writing of that note, our scheme has acquired so much consistency, that we think it safe to make some addition to that general sketch.
It is the intention of my friend Mr. Flower, and myself, to purchase, on terms as favourable
153as can be obtained from the government, one, or more, entire townships in the Illinois territory, where the country is partly prairie, and partly woodland.
A township comprises thirty-six square miles, or sections of six hundred and forty acres each; in all, twenty-three thousand and forty acres.
These lands we propose to offer (on terms proportionably favourable) to a number of our countrymen, whose views may so far accord with our own, as to render proximity of settlement desirable.
In the sale of public lands, there is a regulation, which I have before mentioned, that the sixteenth section, which is nearly the centre of every township, shall not be sold. It is called the reserved section; and is, accordingly, reserved for public uses in that township, for the support of the poor, and for purposes of education,
This section, being of course, at the disposal of the purchasers of the entire township, we shall, by judicious arrangements, provide out of it, not only for the objects which the wisdom of the legislature had in view, but for the present accommodation of the more indigent, but not the least valued members of our proposed community. To obviate the sufferings to which emigrants of this class are exposed on their arrival, it is a material part of our plan to have
154in readiness for every poor family, a cabin, an inclosed garden, a cow, and a hog, with an appropriation of land, for summer and winter food for cows, proportioned to their number.
With regard to the disposal of the lands in general, we shall probably offer them in sections, half-sections, quarters, and eighths; that is, in allotments of six hundred and forty, three hundred and twenty, one hundred and sixty, and eighty acres, making other reservations of portions for public uses, as circumstances may require.
We wish it to be clearly understood, that we have no design of forming a society of English, to be governed by any laws or regulation of our own framing. We would not bind others, nor be ourselves bound by any ties but those of mutual interest, and good neighbourhood; nor be subject to any law, but the law of the land.
Yet, as concentration of capital, as well as of population, will be essential to the rapid prosperity of our colony, we shall make a stipulation, which we hope will be generally approved: —
That no person may be tempted, by the low price at which our lands shall be offered to possess themselves of it as a mere object of speculation, a declaration will be required on the part of the purchaser, of his intention to reside on the spot.
We would, at the same time, impress upon
155him the necessity of not purchasing more than he can fairly manage.
Our opinion is, that it would be more advantageous to the resident proprietor to possess a capital of four or five pounds sterling an acre, than to incapacitate himself for carrying on his improvements for want of adequate means.
I repeat, that we have not fallen on this scheme from a wish to form a society exclusively English, or, indeed, any society as distinct from the people at large. We would most willingly extend our proposals to Americans or emigrants of any nation, with the requisite capital, could our plan embrace them. Concentration of capital and numbers is the only refuge from many privations, and even sufferings in these remote regions: — but, the main advantage of preparing, as we propose, for the reception of our brethren, will be to save them a wearisome and expensive travel, in quest of a settlement, but too often ending in despair. Twelve long months spent in roaming over this wilderness, has broken the spirits and drained the purses of many who would have done well, had they proceeded at once to a place provided: — also, to afford immediate protection and employment to poor emigrants.
Having proceeded thus far in the developement of our plan, it may materially forward its completion to take one step farther; — that is,
156to open a channel of communication with those who may be so well pleased with it, as to wish to join in its execution.
Such persons, if they cannot otherwise obtain satisfactory information, will please to direct their inquiries, to myself, at Princeton, Gibson County, Indiana.