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FEDERALISTS AND REPUBLICANS
LAUNCHING THE GOVERNMENT
the land of
Great interest was shown in the new republic of the 45. America United States by the people of Europe. We have pre- opportunity served about forty books by French, English, German, and Italian travelers in this country between the Revolutionary War and the end of the eighteenth century. At the close of the war the venerable Benjamin Franklin, who from his long residence on both sides of the Atlantic was better qualified than any other man living to give advice on America to European emigrants, wrote a tract called Information to those who would remove to America."
Many Persons in Europe, having directly or by Letters, express'd to the Writer of this, who is well acquainted with North America, their Desire of transporting and establishing themselves in that Country; but who appear to have formed thro' Ignorance, mistaken Ideas and Expectations of what is to be obtained there; he thinks it may be useful, and prevent inconvenient, expensive, and fruitless Removals and Voyages of improper Persons, if he gives some clearer and truer Notions of that part of the World, than appear to have hitherto prevailed. He finds it is imagined by Numbers, that the Inhabitants of North America are rich, capable of rewarding and disposed to reward, all sorts of Ingenuity; that they are at the same time ignorant of all the Sciences, and, consequently, that Strangers possessing Talents in the Belles-Lettres, fine Arts, &c., must be highly esteemed, and so well paid as to become easily rich
themselves; that there are also abundance of profitable Offices to be disposed of, which the Natives are not qualified to fill; ... that the Governments too, to encourage Emigration from Europe, not only pay the Expence of personal Transportation, but give Lands gratis to Strangers, with Negroes to work for them, Utensils of Husbandry, and Stocks of Cattle. These are all wild Imaginations; and those who go to America with Expectations founded upon them will surely find themselves disappointed.
The Truth is, that though there are in that Country few people so miserable as the poor of Europe, there are also very few that in Europe would be called rich; it is rather a general happy Mediocrity that prevails. There are few great Proprietors of the Soil, and few Tenants; most people cultivate their own Lands, or follow some Handicraft or Merchandise. ... Letters and Mathematical knowledge are in Esteem there . . . there being already existing nine Colleges or Universities, viz.: four in New England, and one in each of the Provinces of New York, New Jersey, Pensilvania, Maryland, and Virginia, all furnish'd with learned Professors; besides a number of smaller Academies. . . . Of civil Offices, or Employments, there are few; no superfluous Ones, as in Europe; and it is a Rule established in some of the States, that no Office should be so profitable as to make it desirable. . . . It cannot be worth any Man's while, who has a means of Living at home, to expatriate himself, in hopes of obtaining a profitable Civil Office in America.
Much less is it advisable for a Person to go thither, who has no other Quality to recommend him but his Birth. In Europe it has indeed its Value; but it is a Commodity that cannot be carried to a worse Market than that of America, where people do not inquire concerning a Stranger, What is he? but, What can he do?... The Husbandman is in honor there, and even the Mechanic, because their Employments are useful. The People have a saying, that God Almighty is himself a Mechanic, the greatest in the Universe; and he is respected and admired more for the Variety, Ingenuity, and Utility of his Handyworks, than for the Antiquity of his Family. . . . In short, America is the Land of Labour, and by no means what the English call
Lubberland, and the French Pays de Cocagne,1 where the streets are said to be pav'd with half-peck Loaves, the Houses til'd with Pancakes, and where the Fowls fly about ready roasted, crying, Come eat me!
Land being cheap in that Country, from the vast Forests still void of Inhabitants so that the Propriety of an hundred Acres of fertile Soil full of Wood may be obtained near the Frontiers, in many Places, for Eight or Ten Guineas, hearty young Laboring Men, who understand the Husbandry of Corn and Cattle . . . may easily establish themselves there. A little Money sav'd of the good Wages they receive there, while they work for others, enables them to buy Land and begin their Plantation. ... Multitudes of poor people from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Germany, have by this means in a few years become wealthy Farmers. . .
In the long-settled Countries of Europe, all Arts, Trades, Professions, Farms, etc., are so full, that it is difficult for a poor Man, who has Children, to place them where they may gain, or learn to gain, a decent Livelihood.... Hence Youth are dragg'd up in Ignorance of every gainful Art, and oblig'd to become Soldiers, or Servants, or Thieves for a Subsistance. In America . . . it is easy for poor Families to get their Children instructed; for the Artisans are so desirous of Apprentices, that many of them will even give money to the Parents, to have Boys from Ten to Fifteen Years of Age bound Apprentices to them till the Age of Twenty-one. . . .
Industry and constant Employment are great Preservatives of the Morals and Virtue of a Nation. Hence bad Examples to Youth are more rare in America, which must be a comfortable Consideration to Parents. . . . Atheism is unknown there; Infidelity rare and secret; so that persons may live to a great Age in that Country without having their Piety shocked by meeting with either an Atheist or an Infidel. And the Divine Being seems to have manifested his Approbation of the mutual Foṛbearance and Kindness with which the different Sects treat each other, by the remarkable Prosperity with which He has been pleased to favor the whole Country.
1 "Land of abundance."
In October, 1787, immediately after the completion of the Constitution, Congress was induced by land speculators to offer for sale 5,000,000 acres (almost 8000 square miles) of rich land in the Ohio valley, at 66 cents per acre. The Ohio Company purchased 1,500,000 acres, and within a month had a party of forty-seven colonists ready to send to the new lands. Professor McMaster thus describes the exciting days of the migration:
Emigration to the West now became the rage of the time. Every small farmer whose barren acres were covered with mortgages, whose debts pressed heavily upon him, or whose roving spirit gave him no peace, was eager to sell his homestead for what it would bring, save what he could from the general wreck, and begin life anew on the banks of the Muskingum or the Ohio. And so many did so that at the return of every spring hundreds of boats went down the Ohio heavy with cattle and household goods. One observer at Fort Pitt wrote home that between the first of March and the middle of April 1787, he saw fifty flat-boats set off for the settlements. Another at Fort Finney saw thirty-four boats pass in thirty-nine days. . . . Another safe authority estimated that no less than ten thousand emigrants went by Marietta in 1788. ... In New England the success of the Ohio Company in procuring emigrants was immense. They advertised, they put out pamphlets assuring the people that a man of push and courage could nowhere be so prosperous and so happy as in the West. The climate was delightful. Rain was abundant. The soil rich and watered by broad rivers, along whose banks were great bottoms and natural meadows from twenty to fifty miles in circuit. . . . In no long time, therefore, the Company's lumbering wagon, with its black canvas cover and flaming inscription, "To Marietta on the Ohio," became a familiar sight. At first the departure of so many men from the States was little heeded, for they were believed to be broken-down farmers and Shayites going to retrieve their fortunes and their honor in the West. But when it was noticed that behind the wagon rode numbers of most robust and
promising youths, the alarm of the people broke forth in bitter complaints. The scheme was denounced in the coffee-houses as a wicked plot to drain the East of its best blood. The opponents of the company put out a number of pamphlets against it, and wrote much bad verse on Cutler [the organizer of the Ohio Company]. The poor fools, it was said, were being enticed from comfortable homes under the promise that they were going to a land of more than tropical richness; to a land where they should reap without having sown, and gather without having ploughed. But in truth the climate was cold, the land sterile and sickly, and the woods full of Indians, panthers, and hoop-snakes.1
The Duke of Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, one of our French visitors in 1795–1797, gives the following account of how a plucky Englishwoman, Mistress Dash, took advantage of the opportunities offered by America to begin life over again.
In one of our boating trips about Northumberland, with Priestly's son, we landed near a wooden house, set on the side of a huge mountain covered with woods and rocks, and separated from the river by sloping ground some dozen rods wide. This little house is inhabited by an Englishwoman. She has three daughters, of whom the youngest only, a girl of twenty, is with her. She left England after her husband went bankrupt, both to shun the disgrace of his failure . . . and to prepare a retreat for him after he should have settled his accounts. She is Mistress Dash, and her husband is a banker of Bath, and colonel of the militia of his County. . . .
It would be impossible for a mortal to show greater courage than this woman has shown since she bought this absolutely
1 "I have a distinct recollection of a picture which I saw in boyhood prefixed to a penny anti-moving-to-Ohio pamphlet, in which a stout, ruddy, well-dressed man on a sleek, fat horse with a label, 'I am going to Ohio,' meets a pale and ghastly skeleton of a man, scarcely half dressed, on the wreck of what was once a horse, with a label, 'I have been to Ohio.""- Walker. Transactions of Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio, Part II, p. 194.