The Past and Future of the West.
The census returns for 1860, compared with those of 1850 and 1840, furnish most interesting evidence respecting the actual and relative growth of the different sections of our country. In contemplating, however, this progress for the last ten years, the observer is especially struck with the fact that the West, wonderfully gifted by nature, has been receiving contributions to her wealth from all sections of the Union, and even from the whole world, until now she is returning the gift a thousand-fold. A flood of emigrants from the Eastern States, and from Europe, accompanied by a stream of capital for the construction of railroads and other internal improvements, have been poured on to its rich lands, making almost all portions accessible, and furnishing cheap transportion to market. Thus we vast material wealth of the whole region, mining and agricultural, has been, as it were, tapped by a hundred avenues, and flowed eastward in multiplying streams to feed the nation's commerce and add to the nation's wealth. The present seems to have confirmed what the sagacious had before discovered — that the West contained within its teeming bosom all the elements of future opulence and power, far in excess of that of any other known country. Food, climate, minerals, metals, water carriage — all are within reach, and we may therefore confidently expect that another census will tell the story of one more progressive step taken, and the West will have become not only the granary of the world, but the seat of manufactures for this continent at least.
Let us look a moment at the past. The growth of California has always been considered by many as unprecedented, and yet with all her
274gold and silver her attractions have not proved more seductive to enterprising settlers than the wealth of the West. Thus, in 1850, the fame of the latter State had attracted to it 92,597 persons, and Wisconsin then numbered 305,000. In 1860 California had gained 292,173, and Wisconsin 463,485. By the following table will be seen at a glance the relative increase in the free population of the different sections of the United States since 1790;
|South.||North.||West.||Immigration in 10 years.|
These figures show the curious fact that the population of the West has nearly doubled every ten years, and in the last ten years the white population of the South increased more than that of the North; doubtless owing to the fact that the West derived a large portion of its 3,700,000 of increase from the Northern and Eastern States. The census of 1860 has not given the nativities of the population. That of 1850 gave the Western population as follows:
|Persons in the Western States born there||2,501,633|
|" " " born South||660,142|
|" " " born East||1,090,814|
|" " " born foreign||601,928|
There were also 57,296 born West living at the South, and 19,696 born West living at the East. Of the population of the Northeastern States at the same time, 1,292,241 persons were born abroad, and 1,090,814 natives of the Eastern States migrated to the West, and 337,765 to the South; making 1,428,579 emigrants South and West, whose places in the East were supplied by 1,292,241 of the "pauper labor" of Europe. In the ten years which have elapsed since that census the West has gained 3,700,000 persons. The immigration into the Union during the same period was 2,444,624, which, with its natural increase deducted from the whole number, leaves 24,928,271 as the population of the United States by natural increase alone from 1850, being at the rate of 25 percent in ten years, or 2Ë per cent per annum. The Northern population in the same time increased 25 per cent, the Southern 38 percent,
275and the Western 77 per cent. Thus, the Northern population held its own, while that of the South increased 13 per cent by immigration and the West 52 per cent by immigration. In other words, the West gained in the last ten years, besides her natural increase, 2,500,000 persons, who moved upon her soil with their wealth. If the wealth thus obtained were estimated at $1,000 per family of five, the amount would be $500,000,000 of capital which has been carried thither by individuals to employ in developing the immense natural resources of that portion of our country. In the same period there have been built at the West 3,656 miles of railroad, at a cost of $254,720,364, mostly by Eastern or imported capital. The Illinois Central Railroad alone sent into Illinois $30,000,000, and employed for some years 10,000 hands in building a road which enabled the Federal Government to sell $11,000,000 worth of land, and the company to sell $20,000,000 more to actual settlers, making over 861,000,000 concentrated in that State by the operations of one company. Other undertakings produced like results, but the chief effect has been, by combining the newly acquired labor with the prolific soil, to produce the wonderful supply of wealth which the following figures indicate. If we compare two States, Illinois and Wisconsin, the results are as follows:
|Miles of railroad.||Grain receipts at Chicago.|
|Total bushels ten years||158,544,554|
This grain at an average price of 66 cents per bushel, the average value for 1860 at Chicago, would be worth $126,000,000, thus exceeding by $31,00,000 the cost of the railroads, through the agency of which the grain was made available. The entire value of the imports into Chicago for 1860 was $97,067,616. In 1861 the quantity of grain increased to 47,696,409 bushels, the Southern route being closed, and in 1862 the amount was 60,150,390 bushels. These figures but indicate the extent of that prosperity which has developed so rapidly during the last ten years in the northern sections of the West. So, too, the lines of railroad that tend South have poured streams of produce into the bosoms of the river cities, such as St. Louis and Cincinnati, and made them what they now are.
But the great natural outlets of the West are its magnificent rivers, which spread their broad arms East and West traversing hundreds of miles, and carrying their accumulated burdens to the Mississippi to find an outlet in the Gulf of Mexico. These are the great arteries of trade which confer wealth upon the Western producer, by cheapening the cost of transportation, and thus enabling his products to compete with others in the markets of the world. Ever since the purchase of Louisiana, and
276the opening of the Mississippi Eiver to Western produce, a constantly widening sphere has been given to the industrial enterprise which has sought the Western States. After the creation of the Western territories from the lands ceded to the Federal Government by the State of Virginia the population west of the mountains did not increase rapidly. In 1800 the number had reached but 49,470 persons. The only outlet for produce at that time was to follow the downward course of the streams to New Orleans. But both banks of the Mississippi as high as the Yazoo River being held by Spain, Americans were prohibited the use of this outlet.
In 1795, however, Spain, by treaty, granted the free navigation of the Mississippi, with right of deposit at New Orleans for three years, reserving to herself the right at the end of the three years to continue this privilege, or name some other place of deposit on the banks of the river. In 1800, by the treaty of St. Ildefonso, Spain retroceded to France her old colony of Louisiana. That colony had been settled by France, and remained in her possession until 1762, when it was transferred to Spain, but in 1800, as stated above, was restored to France. Spain, however, continued in possession, and in October, 1802, withdrew from the United States the right of deposit at New Orleans without assigning any other depot. The mode of travel then among the settlers, who were all located on the banks of the great streams, was to construct immense flat boats designed only to go down stream, there to be broken up and sold for lumber. These boats freighted with produce required a place of deposit, without which the voyage was of no avail. When, therefore, the lower Mississippi was closed, thus destroying the whole trade of the West, an intense excitement followed. Expeditions were formed to open the river by force, and war was imminent. In this state of affairs the purchase of the country became imperative, and in January, 1803, Congress voted $2,000,000 to set on foot a negotiation; at that moment, General Victor, by order of the 1st Consul, with a large French force was about to sail •from Holland to take possession. But he was blockaded by the British, and Bonaparte seeing the impossibility of the expedition, received favorably Messrs. Munroe and Livingston on their arrival, and April 30th sold them the province of Louisiana for $15,000,000. The difficulties that grew out of the cession, in relation to boundaries with Spain, were protracted many years, and it was not until 1812 that the people of the territory were admitted into the Union in accordance with the terms of the treaty of cession. This transaction gave rise to the greatest excitement, as all are aware — Massachusetts eren threatening to secede if the annexation was carried out, and Mr. Jefferson being decidedly of the opinion that the State could not be admitted without an amendment to the Constitution. The vote on the admission however was 79 to 23, the opposition being entirely on constitutional grounds.
Soon after Louisiana was thus obtained, the great want of the West made its appearance in the shape of steam. The flat boats were indeed improved upon by keel boats, for the purpose of ascending the stream. The boatman was compelled to stand on the gunwale, at the extreme bow, and thrusting a long pole into the mud, placed his shoulder against the top, walked aft, thus impelling the boat forward. It required four months to travel, in this manner, 1,500 miles from New Orleans to St. Louis. In 1811 Fulton built a steamboat at Pittsburg. The era of improvement was thus opened. In 1815, St. Louis was reached from New Orleans wenty-five days, and the subsequent progress was as follows:
|1810, New Orleans to St. Louis, by flat boat||120 days.|
|1815, Steamer Enterprise||25 "|
|1823, " time||12 "|
|1826, " Gen. Brown||9 " 12 hours.|
|1828, " "||9 " 4 "|
|1860, " running time||3 "|
These figures show not only diminished time of passage, but they speak of immense additional resource-capital that was formerly locked up four months in, a flat boat being now turned over forty times in the same period.
Now the Western waters are, or we should say at the breaking out of this war were, alive with steam tonnage, which carried forth the produce of the West, and returned with sugar, coffee, cotton, rice, tobacco, and merchandise of every description. The steam tonnage at the leading cities is as follows:
This increased tonnage does not express the growth of business, since, as we intimated above, by increase of speed the efficacy of a given amount of tonnage is forty times greater than formerly. In fact, it would require 12,000,000 tons to do the present amount of business at the old time, and the capital required for mere transportation would be $600,000,000 instead of $15,000,000, as it is now. The effect of the shortened time is also seen in the lower freights. In 1815, cotton cloth was 30 cents per yard, at which price four hundred pounds of cloth was worth $120. The freight from New Orleans to St. Louis was, at the same time, five dollars per one hundred pounds weight. In 1860 the same quantity of cloth was worth $44, and the transportation 40 cents, or 10 per cent of the cost. Thus it will be seen that the Western farmer for a bushel of wheat gets eight yards of cloth, instead of two as at the former period. The market for the manufacturer is thus greatly extended. So, too, the sugar of Louisiana goes up the river at $4 per hhd., instead of $60, as formerly, and the farmer has the benefit of the difference.
We thus see what the past has done for the West, and what great Promises the future holds out. We see, too, how important all these great avenues of trade are for her rapid development. She cannot afford to lose her railroad connections with the East, nor yet can she consent that the free navigation of the Mississippi should be interrupted. The two years of war we have passed through have given good proof of the necessity that exists for both of these connections with the markets, and the damage she must suffer were either to be closed. Much discussion has arisen, therefore, as to the course the Western States would take were the South to be successful in this war, and the lower Mississippi pass out of the control of the United States. We deem this question, however one of very easy solution. With God's help we propose to keep the Mississippi. But even if we fail in that, there can be no reason why the
278West should go with the South, for it is just as much benefit to the South as to the West that the navigation of the river be free, and on making peace that point would of necessity be agreed upon, and the right be secured by treaty to both parties.
Nor can it be said that a treaty would not long be respected by the South ; that she would, in spite of it, interrupt our trade and shut up the river, if at any time she should imagine it to be for her interest to do so We might reply that we could make her respect her treaties. But, waiving that question, it is still evident that a treaty would leave the right just as secure as it would be if the river belonged to this government alone. We could not guard against all contingencies in any case. For instance, although our government extends now, and did before the war over all the States bordering on the river, yet that fact did not prevent the Southern States seceding and blocking up the river. And were the South allowed to go to-day, and the West with it, what would prevent Louisiana seceding to-morrow from the Southern Confederacy, interrupting the navigation of the river, and enacting over the same folly of which we are at present reaping the bitter fruits?
But there is no necessity for arguing this question, as it is evident there is no reason why one should conclude that the free navigation of the Mississippi would be interrupted, simply because the river passed through different nationalities. All rivers thus situated are free in all nations to the dwellers on the banks. The Rhine, which descends from the Alps, has on its banks France, Switzerland, many German Stales, and Belgium, and it debouches in Holland. The Tagus and the Duro traverse Spain and find the sea in Portugal. The Elbe, in the Bohemian Mountains, traverses Saxony, Prussia, Mecldenbug, Hanover, Denmark, and reaches the ocean in the territory of Hamburg. The Weser traverses Saxony, Hanover, and Oldenburg to the ocean. The Danube traverses Wurtemburg, Bavaria, Austria, Hungary. Sclavonia, and finds its outlet in the territory of the "sick man" — Turkey. The Vistula passes from Poland into Prussia. The Po passes through many countries of Italy to lose itself in Venitia. The St. Lawrence skirts the State of New York to find the sea in British territory. In short, there is no large river of the world which finds the sea in the same nation in which it rises. Yet, of all the grounds of hostility which have arisen, interruption to river navigation has never been one. It is no doubt true that, as in the case of the Mississippi", interruption has resulted from war; but on the return of peace free navigation has ever been the rule. Whatever, therefore, may be the issue of the contest we are now waging, this great avenue of trade which we have so long enjoyed will not, after the war is ended, be interfered with.
From the statements made above it is evident that the West, rich in mineral and material wealth of every kind and with free and extensive means of communication with the markets of the world, has a future in store for it of unexampled prosperity. Its rich lands are even now feeding the world; but we think a greater source of wealth will be its manufactures — the working up of its own abundant materials. The condition of the West now is not unlike that of New England on the occurrence of the war of 1812. Up to that time the leading interests of that section were fishing, exporting and freighting, while "free trade" the cardinal political doctrine of the people. Great wealth had been
279accumulated in the carrying trade during the wars of Napoleon, and the farmers of the valleys of the Hudson and Connecticut had become rich by the export of breadstuff's. The embargo and the war ending suddenly stopped the whole current of that trade, and there was a reflux of capital from those employments, which accumulated at the financial centers and finally took a new direction — running into manufactures. This new enterprise was pushed with New England's characteristic energy, changing, however, (as we think, unfortunately,) the political sentiments of the people from "free trade" to "protection."
In the past ten years the West has, as we have shown, exceeded all other sections in prosperity. Population and capital have flowed in upon her, developing productions which have found a ready sale at good profits, while by means of the railroads the whole Western country has participated in the general prosperity. Now the population has grown somewhat in excess of the number which can readily be supported from agriculture, even if possessed of a large foreign market, and, as formerly in the East so at present in the West, manufactures are growing up and are succeeding, even in spite of the advantages of capital and long experience of the East. The census gives us the following figures in relation to the progress of the West in that direction:
|Population.||No. of factories||Capital.||Value raw material.||No. hands.||Value produced.|
Thus it appears that the value per head of manufactures at the West is $46, and at the East $122, and that the West produces nearly one-third as much as the Eastern and Middle States. But the productions are of a coarser description, as is evident from the fact that at the West the raw materials are 60 per cent of the value produced, while at the East they are but 50 per cent. These manufactures at the West, it must be remembered, have grown up without any protection from the vast competition of New England capital, although that competition has been far more direct and effective than was that of foreign goods against New England at the close of the war in 1812. The principal kinds of manufactures produced, East and West, have been as follows, according to the same authority:
|Boots and shoes||$20,019,039||$46,723,572||$77,355,368|
|Soap and candles||3,816,958||7,940,632||10,458,542|
|Boots and shoes||$3,141,920||$5,141,520||$9,465,205|
|Steam engines||3,625 317||8,233,876|
|Soap and candles||1,783,127||1,836,802||5,607,187|
These figures indicate the nature of the struggle that has been going on. Thus, articles like shoes and clothing have not as yet flourished at the West under the severe competition of the East, although the West has the advantage in respect to raw materials. But in the heavier articles, like iron, furniture, agricultural implements, steam engines, etc., which are protected at the West by the cost of transportation of the materials, the increase there has far outstripped the progress of the same branches at the East. These figures also indicate that all branches of manufactures are organized and ready for expansion. At such a moment war supervenes and closes the door to much of the usual trade of that region, by cutting off the Southern outlets. The employments of Western capital come to an end, and enterprise is turned in the direction of manufactures at the very moment when cotton, the raw material for $106,000,000 of Eastern manufactures, is no longer available, and the flax and wool of the West are becoming the materials for clothing.
Thus the golden period for the West has arrived; he East having no longer the advantage over her, and the usual employment for capital being cut off to a great extent, we shall soon find her expanding in this new direction and furnishing not only food but clothing for the world. Her fertile soil, aided by machinery, can, with the same amount of manual labor, furnish a larger surplus of food than any other region, while her raw materials, her minerals, her water-courses, and her railroads all combine with cheap food to make the West the region for the cheapest possible production of manufactures. The fruits of her rich soil will then find a market, not only directly but also in the shape of goods. England now imports food and material from the West, and, combining them with English labor, furnishes goods for the supply of the world. The Eastern States have also in the same way gained great wealth. But now the West is about to do that business for herself — combining her own labor, material, and food, and thereby becoming the center of manufactures.