Art. IV. — Wisconsin and its Resources.
AMONG a large portion of our eastern countrymen, there has been an idea prevalent that the picture of the abundant resources and real prosperity of the west, so often exhibited to their view, is highly colored; that extravagance of description has been substituted for simple fact; and that the enthusiasm of young and ardent minds has magnified the native materials of our prosperity, till it was in vain to look or hope for correct delineations of our resources and advantages from those whose homes are in our midst.
The speculations of 1836, resulting so disastrously to a large proportion of those engaged in them, and the constitutions shattered by exposure to the agues of Michigan and the fevers of Illinois, in the wild search for immediate wealth, too often induced the unlucky sufferers to bear home no flattering descriptions of the land, in which they had found disappointment and disease, instead of the realization of their golden hopes. Later years, harder times, and more accurate information, have disseminated more correct knowledge, and more than confirmed the most glowing accounts of western fertility; and the last year has witnessed a result, unexampled even in the history of the rapidly increasing west — a flood of emigration pouring into Wisconsin that has no parallel in the past career of the United States, increasing, as it has, with greater rapidity than any other civilized nation upon the face of the globe.
In 1828, according to the official report, the population of Wisconsin was 18,440; in 1830, it had increased to 30,747; in 1842, to 46,978; and at the commencement of the year 1843, it had undoubtedly amounted to 50,000. The statistics of the Erie canal, for the last five years, exhibit the following amount of furniture as having passed that thoroughfare destined for Wisconsin: in 1838, only 42 tons; in 1839, 742; in 1840, 816; in 1841, 1,190; and in 1842, 1,985. An increase of over 4600 percent;
542while, for all the other states bordering upon the lakes, it has diminished rapidly during the same period. For Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania, it has fallen off" more than one — half, and for Ohio, and Illinois, more than one — third. Showing that the tide of emigration is no longer flowing exclusively to the organized states of the west, but is sending a mighty current towards our no longer infant territory.
In the opinion of men of capacity and intelligence, whose attention has been directed to the lakes, and whose situation enables them to form a correct judgment, it is estimated that from 50,000 to 60,000 have been added to the population of Wisconsin by the way of the great lakes. Full 10,000 more have ascended by the Mississippi, showing an aggregate of 60,000 or 70,000 souls as the increase of the past season; and the astonishing result of a territory of 50,000, more than doubling her population in a single year.
We may then assume 110,000 as the present population of Wisconsin, and every indication leads us to believe that the emigration of 1844 will far exceed that of 1843.
The geographical position of Wisconsin is decidedly favorable to the development of her vast internal resources. Including within her acknowledged limits all that portion of the United States lying north of the 42° 30' of north latitude, and between Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and the river Mississippi, (except the contested territory of Michigan,) she has an area of 95,000 square miles, surrounded by navigable waters, capable of bearing, and yet to bear, to a direct market, the unnumbered millions of her productive wealth.
Though already larger than any state in the Union, her boundaries have been strangely infringed. Upon the north, west and south, she has been subjected to the rapacious exactions of parent, brethren and stran. ger, and stripped of portions of her territory, each large enough to form a respectable state.
By the organic act of the Congress of 1787, providing for the government of the northwest territory, in consideration of the cession to the United States, by the states of Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, of all their title in said territory, it was ordained that there should be formed within the limits now occupied by Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, not less than three, nor more than five states. The boundaries of the three states were "fixed and established;" but it was provided, that Congress should have "authority to form one or two additional states in that part of said territory which lies north of an east and west line, drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan." And it was further provided, that the "articles of compact between the original states, and the people and states in the said territory, should for ever remain unalterable, unless by common consent."
Wisconsin, therefore, claims all that portion of Illinois north of the southerly bend in Lake Michigan, a distance of seventy miles upon the lake, including Chicago, and an area nearly as large as the state of Massachusetts, comprising a portion of country unrivalled in its agricultural facilities, and, with the adjoining counties in Wisconsin, capable of sustaining a larger population to the square mile, from its agricultural wealth, than any other section of the same size in the United States.
The title of Wisconsin to this section has been recognized, by Congress itself, by the gift to Michigan of the northwest part of Wisconsin
543in repayment of the disputed tract upon the southern part of Michigan, given to Ohio in 1836.
Michigan founded her undoubted title to that tract, upon the same authority that Wisconsin now claims a portion of Illinois; and though the numerical force of the Ohio delegation effected the confirmation of her claim, the voice of the country was raised against such injustice, and Congress, in atonement, despoiled Wisconsin of 20,000 square miles of her territory, and bestowed the same upon Michigan to satisfy her wounded pride and violated rights.
The inhabitants of the disputed territory are also anxious to be publicly acknowledged as a part of Wisconsin, and have at sundry times signified their desire to co — operate with the people of the territory in forming a state constitution, and in a united body demand their admittance into the Union. The ordinance of 1787, the mutual interests existing between the northern part of Illinois and Wisconsin, and the almost universal wish of the inhabitants of the territory in dispute, all require that the claim of Wisconsin should be sustained, and the boundary lines established at the southern bend of Lake Michigan.
That portion of the Chippewa country given to Michigan, is bounded on the north by Lake Superior, and stretches along 300 miles of the southern coast of that great lake. On the west and southwest, it is bounded by the Montreal river, to the Lake of the Desert, and a straight line drawn from the source of said river to the nearest head waters of the Menomonie river, thence down said river to the centre of Green bay, thence through Lake Michigan and the Straits of Mackinaw to the Falls of St. Mary. Subsequent explorations have shown, that the Lake of the Desert empties into the Wisconsin instead of the Montreal, and that the boundary line between Michigan and the territory, is yet undefined; and it is hoped that, when this matter is again brought before Congress, they will listen to our just demands, sustain the spirit of the ordinance that undoubtedly intended that the natural divisions made by the great lakes, should be the boundary lines of the respective states upon their borders, and reaffix to our territory, that portion so allied by nature, and so effectually separated from Michigan, for six months out of the year, except by a tedious journey of 700 miles around the head of Lake Michigan, and through Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.
The treaty of 1842, between the United States and Great Britain, again assailed our boundaries. By the same ordinance of 1787, the northern boundary of the fifth state was defined to be "the territorial line between the United States and Canada, to the Lake of the Woods, and Mississippi;" and by the definitive treaty of peace, concluded 1783, between Great Britain and the United States, upon which the boundary lines in said ordinance are predicated, said territorial line was defined as running "through Lake Superior, northward of the Isles Royal and Phillipeaux, to the Long Lake, and the water communication between it and the Lake of the Woods." By the treaty of 1842, the line left Lake Superior "at the mouth of Pigeon river, and up said river, to and through the north and south Fowl lakes to the lakes of the height of land between Lake Superior and the Lake of the Woods, thence along the water communication," through several small lakes, to Rainy lake.
The late report of the Hon. Moses M. Strong, to the council of the territory, shows, conclusively, that the entrance of Long lake (the boundary
544of 1783) into Lake Superior, is through the Kamanistaguia or Dog river, sixty miles northeast of the entrance of Pigeon river, (the boundary of 1842.) The boundary lines, then, of the two treaties, are essentially different; leaving Lake Superior at widely different points, and only re. uniting in Rainy lake: thus surrendering to a foreign and a rival power, an area of over 10,000 square miles, without so much as asking the con — sent of the people of Wisconsin, whose boundary lines were declared to be unalterable unless by common consent.
During the agitation of the northeastern boundary question, the Union was convulsed from one extremity to the other, and prepared for an immediate resort to arms, were our rights violated upon that frontier. Two powerful states were in readiness to exert the full power of their sovereignties, at every risk, in preserving the integrity of their boundaries; and when an appeal was made to the spirit of negotiation, instead of the God of battles, these two states were again admitted, through their commissioners, and allowed to deliberate upon the treaty and determine the quantity of territory they would release, and the equivalents they should receive. But upon the northwestern frontier, an infant territory existed without an organization of her own, and without power in the national Congress; and portions of her territory, larger than the whole of Maine, have been silently taken and bestowed upon neighboring states and foreign powers, without the slightest allusion to her consent as one of the parties, and the only party to be affected by the solemn contract of 1787. It is certainly a matter of serious consideration, whether the cession by the general government, especially to a foreign power, of a portion of Wisconsin, without the consent of the people or even with their consent, while under a territorial government, will be a bar to their claiming, as a state, the boundary guarantied by the ordinance. That, that ordinance was a contract binding upon all parties, cannot be denied; and it is also true, that its terms cannot be altered or rescinded without the common consent.
To preserve the balance of power, the northern states probably stipulated, that there should not be less than three states in the northwest territory; and, for the same reason, the south stipulated that there should not be more than five. The infringement of the boundaries of that territory, at the instance of only one of the contracting parties, is to alter the terms of the contract, and that in one of its most important provisions; thereby doing a deed that is either null and void in its very inception, or that rescinds the mutual agreement, and vests the northwest territory again in the original owners.
The question of our boundaries will come up for future consideration, and cannot be finally settled until the original boundaries are restored, or Wisconsin sees fit to confirm the spoliations already made, and accept an indemnity therefor. And, even if Wisconsin should give her consent, it would seem that the consent of the original donors should first be obtained, before the question can be put at rest for ever.
The river Wisconsin has hitherto been considered the boundary line of the settlements, and those beyond have enjoyed no regular administration of the laws. During the last winter several new counties have been established, in the immense country north and west of that river. Comparatively unknown as is that region, it may be well to bestow rather more attention upon its geographical position than would be necessary in
545an older state. Her lakes and rivers, whose names hitherto have been scarcely heard, are upon a scale, as to number and size, commensurate with the magnitude of the territory, and worthy of the resources they are to assist in developing.
First in importance, is the Mississippi, rising in the northwest. It laves the whole western boundary of the territory, offering a great thoroughfare to the markets of the south for all the bordering country. From the Falls of St. Anthony to the southern line of the territory, a distance of 300 miles, it is navigable for steamboats. Above the falls, the stream is broken by occasional rapids so as to impede its navigation, till the country north shall warrant its improvement.
The Wisconsin, the second river in size, rises in the Lake of the Desert, in the northeastern part of the territory, and pursues a southerly course for 150 miles till it approaches within a mile and a half of Swan lake, a small lake through whose waters the Neenah or Fox river flows into Green bay, thence, south by east, it continues a course of 100 miles and enters the Mississippi 40 miles from the southern boundary. This river is navigable for steamboats of ordinary size, for 100 miles; and for batteaux, a much greater distance. The Pine river, after running 100 miles in a due south line, through a heavily timbered pine country, empties into the Wisconsin 30 miles west of Swan lake. This river is navigable nearly its whole distance for rafts, batteaux, &c. Sixty miles north of the mouth of the Wisconsin, by the way of the river, the Prairie de la Crosse, 75 miles in length, empties into the Mississippi. Twenty miles farther up, the Black river empties into the Mississippi. With a little improvement at its mouth, it would be navigable for small steamboats 50 miles to its falls, where there is an immense waterpower, partially improved, and from the value of the surrounding forests capable of being made a place of great importance. Fifty miles north of the Black river, the Chippewa empties, navigable for small steamboats 75 miles, and for canoes 150 miles; passing through, and drawing its sustenance from numerous lakes, and watering that part of the territory known as the Carver Grant. This river is nearly, if not quite, as large as the Wisconsin. The St. Croix runs in a southwest direction, and empties into the Mississippi, 75 miles north of the mouth of the Chippewa, and 30 miles below the Falls of St. Anthony. It is navigable for small steamboats 40 miles to its falls. Immediately above the Falls of St. Anthony, the Mis. sisagaiegou or Rum river is received. Taking its rise in the dreary Tamerack swamps of the north, it runs nearly due south, and is navigable for canoes 125 miles.
Beside these, the principal rivers emptying into the Mississippi, there are numerous smaller ones, nearly all of which are capable of providing a large amount of water power. Upon the 48-° of latitude, Turtle lake gives rise to the Grand Fork, a river running northerly, at the extreme north, dividing Iowa from Wisconsin, and emptying into Rainy lake, through which passes the boundary line between the United States and her Britannic majesty's possessions.
Of the rivers emptying into Lake Superior, the St. Louis is by far the largest; pursuing a tortuous course of over 300 miles, with its general bearing towards the east, through the mountains in the northern part of the territory, it loses itself in Lake Superior, in the extreme western point. For 20 miles from its mouth it presents the appearance of a large
546estuary, easy of entrance at all times to the largest vessels, and capable of affording a secure harbor, for all the commerce of the United States. At the head of this estuary, the navigation of the river is interrupted by falls, that, in the course of a few miles, make a descent of over 300 feet. The Burnt Wood, rising in a small lake in the interior, runs nearly due north, and empties in the Superior, 40 miles east of the mouth of the St. Louis. This stream is navigable for batteaux about 80 miles, and is connected by a portage with the waters of the St. Croix. The Mauvaise, or Bad river, rises in Pipestone lake, pursues the same course as the Burnt Wood, and discharges itself into the lake, 75 miles east of the Burnt Wood, by the headlands of the lake, and 15 miles east of La Pointe, the place of the utmost importance upon Lake Superior, and possessing a superior natural harbor, at all times accessible. The Bad river is said to be navigable 100 miles in canoes. Twenty miles further east, is the outlet of the Montreal, a stream much larger than the Mauvaise, and at present the boundary between Wisconsin and the disputed territory of Michigan. It is a rapid, but navigable stream for the Indian batteaux, for over 150 miles, and connects with the Menomonie, by a short portage. This latter stream is also the boundary line of the territory, and empties into Green bay, midway between its north and south extreme. In the southeastern part of the territory, the Neenah or Fox river, taking its rise near the Wisconsin, with which it is connected by a portage only a mile and a half in length, pursues a general northeastern course, passing through several small lakes into Lake Winnebago, thence, by a course of 40 miles, emptying into the southern extremity of Green bay. Ten miles west of Lake Winnebago, the Neenah receives the Wolf river, a stream that rises in the northeast part of the territory, near the source of the Wisconsin, and pursues a southerly course to its junction with the Neenah. It is considerably larger than the Neenah, and is navigable 60 miles.
In that section of the territory between the Wisconsin river on the west, and Lake Michigan on the east, there are few rivers of importance. Of these, Rock river is by far the largest. It runs through the centre of said section for 150 miles, and after an additional course of 165 miles, in the state of Illinois, empties into the Mississippi. Illinois has attempted the improvement of her portion of this river, and it is estimated that $178,000, expended under the control of the state, would be sufficient to render it navigable to the territorial line. The official reports of officers of the topographical corps, show the feasibility of making it navigable through the territory, for vessels drawing two and a half feet of water, to the junction of the Rock and Doty rivers, 150 miles by the way of the river, and only 18 miles from the southern extremity of Lake Winnebago, to which it might be connected by a canal that would divert, if it were necessary, still more water into the channel of the Rock. The second river in size, is the Pashtie or Fox, which runs southerly, parallel to the lake, for about 60 miles in the territory, and empties into the Illinois, near the southern extremity of the Michigan and Illinois canal.
It is a singular fact, that along the western side of Lake Michigan for full one half its length, there are rivers running parallel to it from 5 to 25 miles distant. The Fox river in the territory, is in no case more than 25 miles distant, and the river Des Plaines, which rises in Racine county, and contributes to form the Illinois, in its course of 60 miles, is, in many
547places, not over 6 miles distant from the lake. Green bay, in the same manner, drains the country upon the northern half of the lake.
Numerous lakes are scattered over the face of the territory, which, if anywhere else than in the vicinity of those great internal waters by which Wisconsin is surrounded, would render our territory famous. Green bay, though not properly called a lake, as it is connected on the north with Lake Michigan by a channel some 20 miles in width, filled with small islands, is 120 miles in length, by 20 broad, and receives into its waters all those rivers that rise in the northeast part of the territory, and flow in an easterly direction. Lake Winnebago, 10 miles in width, by 30 in length, is situated, as has been remarked, 40 miles southwest of Green bay; and is most known, as, till lately, it marked the boundaries of the settlements. It is surrounded by a beautiful country, adapted to agricultural purposes, and over its waters must pass the commerce that will soon find an outlet at Green bay. Lake De Flambeau, upon the western side, in the midst of a broken country, gives rise to one of the branches of the Chippewa, and averages about 40 miles in length by 10 in width. The country around this lake is highly diversified, resembling more the New England scenery, than the generally monotonous aspect of the west. The Lake of the Desert, 10 by 20 miles in size, formerly supposed to be the source of the Montreal, and the boundary between the Michigan claim and the territory, is now known to give rise to the Wisconsin. Lakes Tomahawk, Courteoreille, and Chi Tac, average, in size, 8 by 20 miles, and give rise to separate branches of the Chippewa. Lake St. Croix, 36 miles by 3, receives the waters of the St. Croix, and discharges them into the Mississippi, by a channel two miles in length. Besides these, there are numerous smaller lakes, varying in size from 10 to 50 square miles.
The face of the country presents very different aspects in its different divisions, offering all the variety of mountain, plain, and valley. The southern portion of the territory is comparatively level, the greater part of it alternating between the prairie and the oak openings, the latter of which consist of burr oaks scattered from ten to fifty feet apart, perfectly free from underbrush, and resembling more an ancient park than the forests of a new country. Singular in their growth and position, they are often found running for miles in narrow ridges, parallel to each other, divided by belts of prairie, varying from a few feet to miles in width.
The prairies have a deep black, and exceedingly fertile soil, but are not generally esteemed as highly for the cultivation of wheat as the warmer and more protected surface of the oak openings. They are, however, improved by frequent tillage; and, if secured a few years from the annual fires that sweep over them, will generally be found covered with a thick growth of timber. The centre of the territory, between Illinois and Lake Superior, assumes a more hilly appearance, and as we approach the north, the larger timber becomes more abundant; though, even upon the shores of Lake Superior, and thence extending south, are to be found prairies of respectable size. Numerous tamerack swamps are also to be found in this section, that render the exploration of the country, without roads, somewhat difficult.
It is said by the Hon. Alfred Branson, who made a report to the last legislature of his travels in the interior of the territory, that "after ascending the Black and Chippewa about 30 miles, the general face of the
548country is some 300 feet lower than the bluffs of the rivers and the ridges that divide their waters. These lowlands, as they may be called, though 200 feet above the rivers, are generally level or gently rolling, of a sandy soil, with but little timber, and present the appearance of having been once the bottom of large lakes, formed by the rivers, shut in by the Mississippi bluffs from that stream, but cutting their way through the bluffs, and a channel through the sandy bottoms left the plains far above the present channels of those streams. If this was ever the case, the lake formed by the Chippewa must have been some 300 miles in circumference, nor could that formed by the Black river have been much less."
The agricultural facilities of the more northern part of the territory are not much known. It is unquestionably good for grazing; and the region between the St. Louis and the Montreal is said to be suited to the raising of wheat, and to afford farming sites, excelled by none, even in the west. Hitherto, however, it has only been traversed by the trapper, or the adventurer in pursuit of mineral wealth; and the numerous rivers are the thoroughfares, upon which, in bark canoes, they seek their journey's end. Few demands have been made upon the soil for its fruits, except in the scanty patches cultivated around the trading posts; and, therefore, little can be said of its capabilities, except by report, which characterizes the north as an agricultural section scarcely inferior to the south, and richer by far in mines, timber, fisheries, and waterpower.
Private enterprise is in a fair way to develop some of the resources of the north. Bands of men have recently penetrated to the borders of Lake Superior, allured by the brilliant descriptions of its mineral wealth. Mines of lead, copper and iron, have been represented as abounding, of extraordinary richness, and easy of access; and specimens of silver have been exhibited, as a promise of what Wisconsin can afford of the more precious metals. And though time has not sufficiently elapsed to determine with certainty the result of their enterprise, yet the huge boulders of virgin metal, already extracted from the borders of Lake Superior, and the reports of others, of even greater size and purity, attest the uncontradicted accounts of its mineral wealth and varied resources; so much — so, that the secretary of war, in his last report, recommends the construction of a ship — canal around the Falls of St. Mary, that there may be an uninterrupted ship — communication from the lower lakes to the vast mineral region of Lake Superior, and announced the taking possession of the mining country with a military force; so that the enterprise of individuals, has not only to contend with the fastnesses of nature, but with the physical force of the general government.
The construction of that canal will make the northern part of the territory as easy of access as the south or eastern; and should its agricultural fertility in any degree correspond with its other resources, the tremendous influx of population, into that region, will people northern Wisconsin with unprecedented rapidity. Not only will our own territory be benefited by that canal, but an additional impetus will be given to the commerce with the larger portion of British America; and Rainy lake, Lake of the Woods, and even Lake Winnipeg, will be almost as near the markets of the east, as, at the present time, are the borders of the greatest of lakes. According to the secretary's report, this great national work can be "effected by the construction of a canal about a mile in length, through the lands of the United States, around the Falls of St.
549Mary, with two locks suitable for passing steamboats, the expense of which will not probably exceed $100,000." Such is the importance of the object, it would seem, that the present Congress could not adjourn without making a suitable appropriation to that effect.
The numerous rivers and inlets along the southern coast of Lake Superior, — will, in a great measure, relieve government of the burden of constructing harbors upon that iron — bound coast. At the mouth of the St. Louis, at La Pointe, and at Isle Royal, are natural harbors that no artificial aid can equal. Not so upon Lake Michigan, whose remarkably smooth, regular, and sandy shores, are indented by no inlets, and receive no rivers of sufficient importance to preserve an open channel through the sandy beach. South of the Manitow's, which are situated near the extreme north of the lake, for 300 miles there is no protection for shipping except that which government shall construct. A commerce that, in 1836, amounted to $16,000,000, in 1841, to $66,000,000, and at the present time undoubtedly amounts to $100,000,000, demands the fostering aid of the general government; and yet, though the lake commerce is equal to one — half of all the foreign commerce of the United States, though the public treasury has received over $6,000,000 from the inhabitants of Wisconsin, $30,000 only has been appropriated to facilitate her commerce, and provide an eastern outlet for her agricultural and mineral products. Milwaukie, Racine, and Southport, are the three prominent points that are claimants for congressional appropriations; and the estimated expense of constructing a harbor, at each of these places, is about $80,000 for Milwaukie, $40,000 for Racine, and $44,000 for Southport — the former a place of 6,000 inhabitants, the next of 1,200, and the last of 1,800. Some idea of the importance of these towns, and the rapidity of their growth, may be formed from the returns given at a late census of the village of Southport: in 1840, it had 300 inhabitants; in January, 1842, it had 762; and, in November, 1843, it contained a population of 1,820. The past year, 75,000 bushels of wheat, and nearly 400,000 pounds of lead, have been shipped to the east, notwithstanding the danger and inconvenience of vessels loading at wharves projected into the lake, without protection of any kind.
Can it be possible that the 100,000 inhabitants of Wisconsin will longer be refused the trifling sum of $160,000 — trifling compared to the advantages it will secure — to construct those harbors that the safety of their property, and the lives of those who minister unto their wants, imperiously require? Harbors, at the three points mentioned, would double the price of land, and add millions to the private estates of the country, besides adding incalculably to the value of the national domain.
Sank Harbor, Sheboyagau, and Manitowoc, situated farther north — at the mouth of rivers of their respective names — are also claimants of the public bounty, and deserve sufficient appropriations to accomplish the desired object. As the north increases in population, their wants will be more apparent, and the necessity of harbors, at these points, more urgent.
Next to the construction of harbors upon Lake Michigan, no improvement is more demanded by the people of the territory, or would be of greater importance to the country at largo, than the connection of Lake Michigan with the Mississippi, by means of a railroad. It is no Quixotic scheme, or idle speculation, to suppose that it is equally needed, and to believe that it would be full as profitable as any of the railroads of the
550east. It is the last remaining link in the chain of steam communication from the ports of Maine to the Mississippi; connecting, by the shortest route, the father of waters with the busy marts of eastern commerce, and bringing the borders of remote Iowa into immediate contiguity with the shores of the Atlantic.
Such a road, from Southport or Racine, to Potosi or Galena, a distance of 150 miles, would run in a nearly due east and west line, through the most fertile and highly cultivated portion of the territory; penetrating the very heart of the mineral region, and diverting, beyond doubt, millions of pounds of lead from the long and dangerous navigation of the Mississippi, to the safer and more direct passage of the lakes.
Upon the completion of the Michigan railroad, a citizen of Iowa could place his foot in Boston in ninety-six hours after his departure from home. The farmers of Wisconsin, and the northern part of Illinois, would be the first to feel the beneficial influence of a railroad; for their great staple is an article so bulky, that the expense of transportation is often equal to half the value of the wheat; and some of the best wheat lands are from 40 to 75 miles from the lake. The expense of constructing such a road, at a fair calculation, could not exceed $1,000,000 or $1,200,000, as the country over which it would pass is comparatively level. Were it constructed, of the 41,000,000 pounds of lead produced at the upper mines the last year, it would be fair to suppose that three-quarters of it, at least, would pass over this road, paying at the rate of 37 1/2 cents per 100 Ibs., which would yield over $100,000; one single article thus paying 10 per cent interest upon the original investment.
Another improvement, hardly less important than the last, and effected at much less expense, is the connection of the Wisconsin and the Neenah or Fox river, and the improvement of this last, so as to open a direct water communication between the Mississippi and Lake Michigan, by the way of Green Bay. The rapids in the Neenah, between Lake Winnebago and Green Bay, present the principal obstruction to this improvement; and it is estimated that these obstructions can be removed at an expense of $375,000, so as to render the river navigable for the smaller class of steamboats that ply upon the Mississippi. For the remaining 110 miles, from Lake Winnebago to Swan lake, (a small sheet of water, separated from the Wisconsin by a portage only a mile and a half in length,) the Neenah is already navigable, and requires only the removal of an occasional sand-bar to afford a sufficient depth of water, at all times, for the craft that will be required to enter her waters. The Wisconsin also requires the removal of a few sand — bars, to render her navigation entirely free; but this can be effected at a slight expense.
At ordinary times, the waters of the Neenah are a foot and a half lower than those in the Wisconsin; but, during the season of high water, the height of land that divides them is covered to the depth of three feet, or more; and waters destined for the Mississippi find their outlet in the St. Lawrence.
The cost of constructing the section of the canal uniting these rivers, as estimated by government agents, will be only $64,000. Thus, for less than half a million of dollars, as determined by estimates made years ago, when the value of every article was much higher than at the present time, a direct water communication can be effected between the Mississippi and Lake Michigan — a communication that will be full as important and valuable to the interests of Wisconsin, as will be the Michigan and Illinois canal to the state through which it is to pass.
The obvious importance of this route, and the feasibility of effecting a passage across the country, instigated the early French, a hundred years ago, to locate, at Green Bay, and there establish the earliest settlement in Wisconsin; and it is worthy of note that, in this northwest territory, the barriers that divide the waters flowing into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, from those flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, are, in many places, so faintly defined, and the sources of the respective streams so closely connected, that the old voyagers could often float in their bark canoes from one water to the other.
A bill is now before the Senate of the United States, providing for the grant of every alternate mile of a strip of land, two miles in width, upon either side of the Neenah and Wisconsin rivers, from their sources to the point of connection, for the improvement of these rivers; and in the report of the committee, it was observed, that no work of its magnitude and interest to the general government could be constructed at less expense. Not a dollar would be taken from the public treasury, and the work would progress, only as rapidly as emigration should flow into that region, and the appropriated lands taken up. The friends of the work desire no more available fund than such a grant; convinced, as they are, of the impetus it will give to emigration into that region, and the consequent ready sale of the lands. A single glance, at the mass, will convince one of the importance of the enterprise. Passing through the garden of Wisconsin, and connecting the lakes and the Mississippi by the shortest water communication, it will, of course, become the outlet for the section of the country bordering upon it, and all that vast, and as yet unfrequented region of the northern Mississippi.
It may be too much to say, that the Wisconsin route will divert trade from the Illinois canal, which, 300 miles farther south, runs parallel to it; but, while the latter depends upon a canal of 100 miles in length, a complete water communication from the east to the west is furnished by the former, with only five miles of canal; but, if it should not divert commerce from below the Illinois river, it will suffer nothing north of that river to pass eastward by any more southern route.
The construction of a national road from Fond du Lac, at the mouth of the St. Louis, to St. Peter's, at St. Anthony's falls, is another work that should be effected by the general government. The distance is only 150 miles, and the country between is said to be of the first quality for a road, connecting the extreme north and western points of navigation upon the Mississippi and Lake Superior. Such a road is much needed at the present time, as there is no communication between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi, and any part of the whole coast of Lake Superior.
The construction of harbors upon the lake coast, the extension of a railroad from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi, and the improvement of the Fox and Wisconsin, are objects of paramount importance to the people of Wisconsin, for which the aid of Congress has been repeatedly implored, and is now demanded, as some slight reparation for the infringement of her boundaries, and the violation of her vested rights. It is also demanded, as a measure of justice to the great west, whose commerce now exceeds, by nearly one quarter, the whole foreign commerce of the United States, but whose rivers have been left obstructed, and whose
554of transporting wool to the manufactories of Lowell, cannot exceed three cents per pound. With this only drawback to all the other facilities of the west, it is evident that the eastern wool grower cannot long compete with the cheaper product of the west.
But it is in the raising of wheat that Wisconsin, for years to come, will derive a large portion of her wealth. There can be no better soil upon the face of the earth, for that grain, than the oak openings that are scattered profusely over her surface. The amount she is able to export, after supplying the wants of the tens of thousands who have recently entered her borders, affords some intimation of its capacity, when all her tillable lands are occupied, and her army of consumers turned producers. The two counties of Racine and Walworth, twenty — four miles square each, probably raised twice as much wheat in 1843, as was produced by the whole territory in 1840. The soil of the openings is generally preferred to that of the prairies, for wheat; and one reason alleged, is, that the greater fertility of the prairies gives to the wheat stalk too rapid growth, rendering it liable to rust. This is obviated by frequent tillage. For every other production of a northern climate, the prairies are exceedingly adapted; and, for years to come, their fertility will be scarcely impaired by the repeated annual drafts to which they are subjected.
Considerable quantities of pork and beef are prepared in the territory for an eastern market, and these articles will, of course, increase with the age of the country. Several lard oil manufactories are in process of erection, and any amount can be produced that the market shall warrant.
In 1840, there were ships and vessels, owned in Wisconsin, only to the amount of $7,159; commercial houses 7, capital $6,300; retail grocers 178, capital $661,550; lumber — yards 14, capital $21,180; and $202,239 worth of lumber was produced in the territory. There were also returned $124,776 worth of furs and skins, as the product of the year 1839; a quantity undoubtedly below the real amount, as in this department accuracy at any time cannot be expected, the hunters scattered throughout the wilderness making their market wherever a good or evil fortune may chance to throw them.
The statistics of manufactures are even less satisfactory than the others. Of all factories there were 11; value of articles, $11,800; capital, $17,002. Bricks were manufactured to the value of $6,527; capital, $4,355. Value of the tanneries, $150; hats, $61. Soap and candles, 64,317 lbs.; tallow candles, 11,909 lbs. Distilleries, 3; gallons produced, 8,300. Breweries, 3; gallons produced, 14,200. Flouring — mills, 4; barrels of flour, 9,000. Grist — mills, 29; saw — mills, 124. Printing, offices, 6; weekly papers, 6; capital, $10,300.
These are but the faint beginnings of those interests, that, ere long, must elevate Wisconsin to a lofty rank among the manufacturing states. Her water power is immense, capable of affording a motive power for all the manufactories of the world; her valuable mines are spread over her entire surface, far exceeding those of any other state; her wheat — fields yield almost spontaneously; wool will soon become one of the greatest, if not the greatest, of her agricultural staples; cotton may be brought to her western border from some of the cotton — growing states, with greater facility than it can be transported to New Orleans. The railroads and other improvements that, in course of time, will be constructed, whether
554Congress lend a helping hand, or not, will scatter this material over her entire surface, greater, by one — half, than all New England.
With all these facilities, Wisconsin lacks only capital, without which, the greatest natural advantages are useless, to become a dangerous rival to the manufacturing states of the east, and even of the old world; and capital can only find its way, by easy and hesitating steps, into the wilderness of a new country.
The timber of Wisconsin consists of white, yellow and Norway pine, rock and soft maple, nearly all the varieties of oak, balsam, fir, white and red cedar, spruce, hemlock, lynn, aspen, white, black and yellow birch, ash, poplar, basswood, walnut, hickory, tamerack, wild plum, cherry, &c. But few species of the genus pinus, are found in the extreme southern part; there is some cedar, and occasionally a tamerack swamp. The more northern portion abounds in those varieties most essential to the use of man; and such is the situation of the country, that nearly all parts of it may be supplied with pine lumber, at a moderate expense. From Green bay, Sheboyagau and Manitowoc, large quantities of pine are shipped to Milwaukie, Racine, Southport and Chicago, and retailed at an average price of $10 per thousand. Throughout the northern parts of Michigan and Wisconsin, the pine forests are immense; and for many years to come the price will diminish, rather than increase, as capital is more and more diverted to the pineries. At Southport, Racine and Milwaukie, from 12,000,000 to 15,000,000 feet of lumber, and from 8,000,000 to 10,000,000 of shingles, have been sold the past year. From the valuable pineries upon the banks of the Pine, the Black, the Chippewa and the Wisconsin rivers, are rafted down large quantities of lumber to the Mississippi markets. By the estimate of Mr. Brunson, these rivers have yielded 15,000,000 feet the past year, and their capacity can be increased to any desired extent.
The fisheries of Wisconsin are not unworthy of notice. In the very heart of the North American continent, thousands of miles from the scene of the labors of the hardy Cape Cod and Nantucket men, a trade is springing up that will banish their commodities from the west. In the year 1840, 9,021 barrels of pickled fish were cured, and 1,500 gallons of fish — oil produced in the territory. Since that time, the business has been increasing, and large quantities of white fish, a fish peculiar to the lakes, are sold in the markets adjoining the lakes. Besides, there are found in abundance, the Mackinaw trout, by many preferred to the brook trout, the sturgeon, salmon — trout, muskelunge, a species of pike frequenting the rivers, and often caught from four to six feet in length, pickerel, perch, herring, rock — bass, white and black bass, cat — fish, trout, gar and mullet.
The uninhabited parts of Wisconsin abound in nearly the same species of game and wild animals, that are found in all the new northwestern states. Elk, deer, moose, beaver, bear, gray, black and prairie wolves, wild cat, panther, rackoon, porcupine, martin, fox, squirrel, opossum, lynx, muskrat, weasle, gopher and black, or prairie hens, which are found in large quantities upon the prairies, and in the neighborhood of the cultivated fields.
The census of 1840, when the population of the territory was 30,000, exhibited the following returns as to the number engaged in some of the principal employments: in mining, 794; agriculture, 7,047; commerce, 479; manufactures and trades, 1,814; navigation, 209; learned professions,
556259; showing a greater proportion of the whole population en. gaged in mining, navigation and the learned professions, than in any other of the states or territories; and, except Louisiana, a larger proportion engaged in commerce. These same proportions probably hold good to the present time.
The interests of education have not been neglected in this new land. A majority of its inhabitants, coming from New England and New York, bring with them, not only the rudiments of education, but a love for the institutions left behind; and though the sparseness of the population pre. vents them from at present reaping the same practical benefits, yet, there is a system of common schools established, that, with some revision, will, in time, work the same happy results as in the older states. As in all the new states, every sixteenth section in a township, is set apart, by the general government, for the single purpose of supporting free schools; and when we become a state, this fund will be applied to its object, as the collective wisdom of the legislature shall prescribe. There has also been appropriated by Congress, 46,000 acres of land for the establishment of a university. During the several past years, nearly all of this land has been located by committee's, or agents of the legislature, in detached parcels, and must, therefore, constitute a valuable and rapidly increasing fund. In all the considerable towns and villages, academies and high schools are established; and the tone of education and morality will compare favorably with the favored regions, whence the mass of the population sprung.
Notwithstanding she has been shorn of her territory, upon either side, when she enters the confederacy, Wisconsin will enter it with the most extended domain of any state in the Union; and, except a few thousand dollars, improvidently expended by her legislature for legislative expenses, over and above the general appropriation, she will enter it free from that scourge of republics, a public debt. The example of some of the neighboring states, so lately and narrowly upon the verge of bankruptcy, will deter her from launching, unaided, into schemes of public improvement, (presenting, indeed, to the fancy, brilliant prospects of success,) before the means shall be secured, and the way of payment clearly pointed out. By an act of the late legislature, the question of forming a state government is to be formally submitted to the people, at the coming fall election; and if a majority are in favor of that measure, the governor is authorized to call a convention to form the constitution. It is believed that, at the present time, a majority of the people are in favor of putting off territorial bondage, and seeking immediate admission into the Union.
The enlargement of the Welland canal, will be an important measure for the interests of Wisconsin. Aided by the Ericson propeller, which is expected to work a new era in the commerce of the lakes, we may confidently anticipate the time when a direct trade in lead, copper, wool and wheat, will be opened between the ports of Lake Michigan, and those of the Atlantic coast, and the products of the west, relieved from the transshipments, to which they are now subject, in their passage to the east.
And, finally, over and around all these elements of wealth, that Wisconsin possesses, health throws her blessed shield. Her prairies and her openings, yield no noxious vapors, and her mines breathe no deadly pestilence. Here are none of those prevailing diseases incident to the south, the east and other parts of the west. The emigrant may rest