have been a lake at some former period, previous to the Mississippi’s flowing through its present deep channel. Several stagnant ponds lay by our road; sufficient indications of the presence of disease, which this place has the character of producing in abundance. The beauty of the spot, and the fertility of the soil, have, notwithstanding, induced several English families to settle here. Their houses are built of brick, and their gardens and farms are laid out and fenced tastefully.
After traversing the wood, we at length came in sight of the Mississippi, which is here about three quarters of a mile broad. There is a steam ferry-boat stationed at this point, (opposite St. Louis), the construction of which is rather singular. It is built nearly square, having in the middle a house containing two spacious apartments, and on each side decks, on which stand horses, oxen, waggons and carriages of every description.
St. Louis is built on a bluff bank. The _principal_ streets rise one above the other, running parallel with the river; the houses are mostly built of stone, the bank being entirely composed of that material, the walls whitewashed, and the roofs covered with tin: from the opposite side it presents a very gay appearance. The ascent from the water’s edge to the back of the town is considerable, but regular. The streets intersect each other at right angles, as do those of most American towns. They are much too narrow, having been laid down and built on from a plan designed by the Spanish commandant, previous to the Missouri territory becoming part of the United States. The population is estimated at six thousand, composed of Creole-French, Irish, and Americans.
St. Louis must, at some future period, become decidedly the most important town in the western country, from its local and relative situation. It is seated on the most favourable point below the mouths of two noble rivers, the Missouri and the Illinois, having at its back an immense tract of fertile country, and open and easy communication with the finest parts of the western and north-western territories. These advantages, added to the constant and uninterrupted intercourse which it enjoys with the southern ports, must ultimately make St. Louis a town of wealth and magnitude.
We visited General Clarke’s museum, which chiefly contains Indian costumes and implements of war, with some minerals and fossils, a portion of which he collected while on the expedition to the Rocky mountains with Lewis; and also, two sods of good black turf, from the bogs of Allen, in Ireland. A sight which was quite exhilarating, and reminded me so strongly of the fine odour which exhales from the products of illicit distillation, that guagers and potteen, like the phantoms of hallucination, were presenting themselves continually to my imagination for the remainder of that day.
General Clarke is a tall, robust, grey-headed old man, with beetle-brows, and uncouthly aspect: his countenance is expressive of anything but intelligence; and his celebrity is said to have been gained principally by his having been the _companion_ of Lewis to the Rocky mountains.
The country around St. Louis is principally prairie, and the soil luxuriant. There are many excellent farms, and some fine herds of cattle, in the neighbourhood: yet the supply of produce seems to be insufficient, as considerable quantities are imported annually from Louisville and Cincinnati. The principal lots of ground in and near the town are at the disposal of some five or six individuals, who, having thus created a monopoly, keep up the price. This, added to the little inducement held out to farming people in a slave state, where no man can work himself without losing _caste_, has mainly contributed to retard the increase of population and prosperity in the neighbourhood of St. Louis.
There are two fur companies established here. The expeditions depart early in spring, and generally return late in autumn. This trade is very profitable. A person who is at present at the head of one of those companies, was five years ago a bankrupt, and is now considered wealthy. He bears the character of being a regular Yankee; and if the never giving a direct answer to a plain question constitutes a Yankee, he is one most decidedly. We had some intention of crossing to Santa Fe, in New Mexico, and we accordingly waited on him for the purpose of making some inquiries relative to the departure of the caravans; but to any of the plain questions we asked, we could not get a satisfactory answer,–at length, becoming tired of hedge-fighting, we departed, with quite as much information as we had before the interview.
A trapping expedition is being fitted out for the Rocky mountains, on an extensive scale. The number of persons intended to be employed on this, is about two hundred. Teams for the transportation of merchandize and luggage are preparing, which is an accommodation never enjoyed before by trappers, as pack-horses have always hitherto been substituted. These waggons may also be found useful as _barricades_, in case of an attack from the Indians. The expedition will be absent two or three years.
A trade with Santa Fe is also established. In the Spanish country the traders receive, in exchange for dry goods and merchandize of every description, specie, principally; which makes money much more plentiful here than in any other town in the western country.
The caravans generally strike away, near the head waters of the Arkansas and Red rivers, to the south-west, close to the foot of the Rocky mountains–travelling above a thousand miles through the Indian country before they reach the Mexican boundary. These journeys are long and tedious, and require men of nerve and muscle to undertake them; the morasses and rivers which they have to cross–the extensive prairies and savannahs they have to traverse, and the dense forests to penetrate, are sufficient to subdue any but iron constitutions.
The countries west of the Mississippi are likely to be greatly enriched by the trade with Mexico; as, in addition to the vast quantities of valuable merchandize procured from that country, specie to a very large amount is put in circulation, which to a new country is of incalculable advantage. The party which lately returned to Fayette in Missouri, brought 200,000 dollars in specie.
The lead-mines of Galena and Potosi inundate St. Louis with that metal. The latter mines are extensive, consisting of forty in number, and are situated near the head of Big-river, which flows into the Merrimac: a water transportation is thus effected to the Mississippi, eighteen miles below St. Louis. This, however, is only in the spring and fall, as at other seasons the Merrimac is not navigable for common-sized boats, at a greater distance than fifty miles from its mouth. The Merrimac is upwards of 200 miles in length, and at its outlet it is about 200 yards in breadth.
The principal buildings in St. Louis are, the government-house, the theatre, the bank of the United States, and three or four Catholic and Protestant churches. The Catholic is the prevalent religion. There are two newspapers published here. Cafes, billiard tables, dancing houses, &c., are in abundance.
The inhabitants of St. Louis more resemble Europeans in their manners and habits than any other people I met with in the west. The more wealthy people generally spend some time in New Orleans every year, which makes them much more sociable, and much less _brusque_ than their neighbours.
We visited Florissant, a French village, containing a convent and a young ladies’ seminary. The country about this place pleased us much. We passed many fine farms–through open woodlands, which have much the appearance of domains–and across large tracts of sumach, the leaves of which at this season are no longer green, but have assumed a rich crimson hue. The Indians use these leaves as provision for the pipe.
We stayed for eight days at a small village on the banks of the Mississippi, about six miles below St. Louis, and four above Jefferson barracks, called Carondalet, or, _en badinage, “vide poche.”_ The inhabitants are nearly all Creole-French, and speak a miserable _patois_. The same love of pleasure which, with bravery, characterizes the French people in Europe, also distinguishes their descendants in Carondalet. Every Saturday night _les garcons et les filles_ meet to dance quadrilles. The girls dance well, and on these occasions they dress tastefully. These villagers live well, dress well, and dance well, but have miserable-looking habitations; the house of a Frenchman being always a secondary consideration. At one of those balls I observed a very pretty girl surrounded by gay young Frenchmen, with whom she was flirting in a style that would not have disgraced a belle from the _Faubourg St. Denis_, and turning to my neighbour, I asked him who she was; he replied, “Elle s’appelle Louise Constant, monsieur,–c’est la rose de village.” Could a peasant of any other nation have expressed himself so prettily, or have been gallant with such a grace?
Accompanied by our landlord, we visited Jefferson barracks. The officer to whom we had an introduction not being _chez-lui_ at that time, we were introduced to some other officers by our host, who united in his single person the triple capacity of squire, or magistrate, newspaper proprietor, and tavern-keeper. The officers, as may be expected, are men from every quarter of the Union, whose manners necessarily vary and partake of the character of their several states.
The barracks stand on the bluffs of the Mississippi, and, with the river’s bank, they form a parallelogram–the buildings are on three sides, and the fourth opens to the river; the descent from the extremity of the area to the water’s edge is planted with trees, and the whole has a picturesque effect. These buildings have been almost entirely erected by the soldiers, who are compelled to work from morning till night at every kind of laborious employment. This arrangement has saved the state much money; yet the propriety of employing soldiers altogether in this manner is very questionable. Desertions are frequent, and the punishment hitherto inflicted for that crime has been flogging; but Jackson declares now that shooting must be resorted to. The soldiers are obliged to be servilely respectful to the officers, _pulling off_ the undress cap at their approach. This species of discipline may be pronounced inconsistent with the institutions of the country, yet when we come to consider the materials of which an _American_ regular regiment is composed, we shall find the difficulty of producing order and regularity in such a body much greater than at first view might be apprehended. In this country any man who wishes to work may employ himself profitably, consequently all those who sell their liberty by enlisting must be the very dregs of society–men without either character or industry–drunkards, thieves, and culprits who by flight have escaped the penitentiary, and enlisted under the impression that the life of a soldier was one of idleness; in which they have been most grievously mistaken. When we take these facts into consideration, the difficulty of managing a set of such fellows will appear more than a little. Yet unquestionably there are individuals among the officers whose bearing is calculated to inspire any thing but that respect which they so scrupulously exact, and without which they declare it would be impossible to command. The drillings take place on Sundays.
Near Carondalet we visited two slave-holders, who employed slaves in agriculture; which practice experience has shewn in every instance to be unprofitable. One had thirteen; and yet every thing about his house rather indicated poverty than affluence. These slaves lived in a hut, among the outhouses, about twelve feet square–men, women, and children; and in every respect were fully as miserable and degraded in condition as the unfortunate wretches who reside in the lanes and alleys of St. Giles’ and Spitalfields, with this exception, that _they_ were well fed. The other slave-holder, brother of the former, lived much in the same manner;–but it is necessary to observe that both these persons were hunters, and that hunters have nothing good in their houses but dogs and venison.
T—- having gone on a hunting excursion with our host, and some of his friends, B—- and I drove the ladies to the plantation of the latter gentleman. He had a farm on the bluffs, which was broken and irregular, as is always the case in those situations. Large holes, called “sink-holes,” are numerous along these banks; the shape of them is precisely that of an inverted cone, through the apex of which the water sinks, and works its way into the river. Cedar trees grow on the rocks, and the scenery is in many places extremely grand. Wild-geese congregate in multitudes on the islands in the Mississippi, and at night send forth the most wild and piercing cries.
Our hostess was one of those sylvan Amazons who could handle any thing, from the hunting-knife to the ponderous axe; and she dressed in the true sylph-like costume of the backwoods. Her _robe_, which appeared to be the only garment with which she encumbered herself, fitted her, as they say at sea, “like a purser’s shirt on a handspike,” and looked for all the world like an inverted sack, with appropriate apertures cut for head and arms; she wore shoes, in compliment to her guests–her hair hung about her shoulders in true Indian style; and altogether she was a genuine sample of backwoods’ civilization. We were placed in a good bed–the state-bed of course–and as we lay, paid our devotions to Urania, and contemplated the beauties of the starry firmament, through an aperture in the roof which would have admitted a jackass.
The proprietor assured us that his slaves produced him no more than the bare interest of the money invested in their purchase, and that he was a slave-holder not from choice, but because it was the prevailing practice of the country. He said he had two handsome Mulatto girls hired out at the barracks for six dollars per month each.
In St. Louis there were seven Indian chiefs, hostages from the Ioway nation. Their features were handsome–with one exception, they had all aquiline noses–they were tall and finely proportioned, and altogether as fine-looking fellows as I ever saw. The colour of these Indians was much redder than that of any others I had seen; their heads were shaven, with the exception of a small stripe, extending from the centre of the crown back to the _organ of philoprogenitiveness_–the gallant scalping-lock–which was decorated with feathers so as somewhat to resemble the crest of a Greek or Roman helmet. Their bodies were uncovered from the waist upwards, except when they wore blankets, a modern substitute for the buffalo-robe, which they commonly wore over the left shoulder, leaving the right arm and breast bare. The Ioways are a nation dwelling in the Missouri territory, and these hostages delivered themselves up pending the investigation of an affray that had taken place between their people and the backwoodsmen.
The day previous to our departure from St. Louis, the investigation took place in the Museum, which is also the office of Indian affairs. There were upwards of twenty Indians present, including the hostages. The charge made against these unfortunate people and on which they had been obliged to come six or seven hundred miles, to stand their trial before _white judges_, was, “that the Ioways had come down on the white territory–killed the cattle, and attacked the settlers, by which attack four citizens lost their lives.” The principal chief implicated in the affair, named “Big-neck,” was called upon for his defence. In the person of this man there was nothing remarkable. He advanced into the centre of the room, and disengaging his right arm from the blanket, shook hands with the judges, and then, in succession, with all the officers of the court. This ceremony being ended, he paused, and drawing himself up to his full height, extended his arm forward towards the judge, and inclining his head a little in the same direction, said, “If I had done that of which my white brother accuses me, I would not stand here now. The words of my red-headed father (General Clarke) have passed through both my ears, and I have remembered them. I am accused, and I am not guilty.” (The interpreter translated each sentence as it was delivered, and gave it as nearly verbatim as possible–observe, the pronoun I is here used figuratively, for _his party, and for the tribe_). “I thought I would come down to see my red-headed father, to hold a talk with him.–I come across the line (boundary)–I see the cattle of my white brother dead–I see the Sauk kill them in great numbers–I said that there would be trouble–I turn to go to my village–I find I have no provisions–I say, let us go down to our white brother, and trade our powder and shot for a little–I do so, and again turn upon my tracks, until I reach my village.”–He here paused, and looking sternly down the room, to where two Sauks sat, pointed his finger at them and said, “The Sauk, who always tells lie of me, goes to my white brother and says–the Ioway has killed your cattle. When the lie (the Sauk) had talked thus to my white brother, he comes, thirty, up to my village–we hear our brother is coming–we are glad, and leave our cabins to tell him he is welcome–but while I shake hands with my white brother,” he said, pointing to his forehead, “my white brother shoots me through the head–my best chief–three of my young men, a squaw and his child. We come from our huts unarmed–even without our blankets–and yet, while I shake hands with my white brother, he shoots me down–my best chief. My young men within, hear me shot–they rush out–they fire on my white brother–he falls, four–my people fly to the woods without their rifles.” He then stated that four more Indians died in the forest of cold and starvation, fearing to return to their villages, and being without either blankets or guns. At length returning, and finding that their “great chiefs” had delivered themselves up, he came to stand his trial.
The next person called was an old chief, named “Pumpkin,” who corroborated the testimony of “Big-Neck,” but had not been with the party when the Sauks were seen killing the cattle. When he came to that part of the story where the Indian comes from his wig-wam to meet the white man, he said, nearly in the same words used by Big-neck, “While I shake hands with my white brother, my white brother shoots me down–my best chief”–he here paused, and lifting his eyes above the heads of the auditors, his lip curling a little, but resuming again, almost immediately, its natural position, he pronounced in a low but distinct guttural tone, the Indian word meaning “_my_ son.” His eye seemed fixed for a few seconds, and then, as if conscious of his weakness, and that the eyes of the great warriors of his tribe were upon him, he looked slowly round in a kind of solemn triumph, and resumed his tale. There was a strong feeling excited in the court by the misfortune of this old man, for the “best chief” of the Ioways was his _only_ son. The court asked the chiefs what they thought should be done in the matter? They spoke a few words to each other, and then answered promptly, that all they required was, that their white brother should be brought down also, and confronted with them. The prisoners were set at liberty on their parole.
Nothing could have been more respectable than the silence and gravity of the Indians during the investigation. The hostages particularly, were really imposing in their appearance; an air of solemnity overspread their manly countenances, whilst their eyes bespoke that unquailing spirit which the habits and vicissitudes of a sylvan life are calculated rather to raise than depress. The Indians, when uncontaminated by the vices of the whites, are really a fine people; and it is melancholy to reflect that in a few centuries the red-man will be known only by name, for his total extinction seems almost inevitable.
The upshot of this affair proved that the Indians’ statement was correct, and a few presents was then thought sufficient to compensate the tribe for this most unwarrantable outrage.
The fact of the prisoners being set free on their parole, proves the high character they maintain with the whites. An officer who had seen a great deal of service on the frontiers, assured me that, from _experience_, he had rather fall into the hands of the Indians, than of the backwoodsmen. Once, while crossing one of the immense prairies in the Missouri territory during the winter season, this gentleman, Mr. R—-, was seized with rheumatic pains, and unable to proceed. His party, consisting only of a few men, had no provisions, nor had they any means of taking him with them, being completely exhausted themselves–he was left on the plains to die. An old Indian chief, of one of the hostile tribes, chanced to find him; he carried him home, and nourished him until he was sufficiently recovered to eat with the warriors; when they came to the hut of his host, in order as they said to do honour to the unfortunate white chief. He remained in their village for two months; at the expiration of which time, being sufficiently recovered, they conducted him to the frontiers, took their leave, and retired.
Clements Burleigh, who resided thirty years in the United States, says, in his “Advice to Emigrants,” “It may be objected by some that it is dangerous to go to the frontier country, on account of the Indians, wild beasts, &c.; this is no more than a scarecrow. Indians in time of peace are perfectly inoffensive, and every dependence may be placed on them. If you call at their huts, you are invited to partake of what they have–they even will divide with you the last morsel they have, if they were starving themselves; and while you remain with them you are perfectly safe, as every individual of them would lose his life in your defence. This unfortunate portion of the human race has not been treated with that degree of justice and tenderness which people calling themselves Christians ought to have exercised towards them. Their lands have been forcibly taken from them in many instances without rendering them a compensation; and in their wars with the people of the United States, the most shocking cruelties have been exercised towards them. I myself fought against them in two campaigns, and was witness to scenes a repetition of which would chill the blood, and be only a monument of disgrace to people of my own colour.
“Being in the neighbourhood of the Indians during the time of peace, need not alarm the emigrant, as the Indian will not be as dangerous to him as idle vagabonds that roam the woods and hunt. He has more to dread from these people of his own colour than from the Indians.”
 Eighteen miles below the mouth of the Missouri, and thirty-six below that of the Illinois.
 In the Indian tongue there is no distinction of masculine or feminine gender, but simply of animate and inanimate beings.
 “The freedom of manners, and the uncertainty of life, from the various hazards to which it is inevitably exposed, imparts to the character of savages a species of liberality, under which are couched many benevolent principles; a respect for the aged, and in several instances a deference to their equals. The natural coldness of their temperament, admits of few outward demonstrations of civility. They are, however, affable in their mode, and are ever disposed to show towards strangers, and particularly towards the unfortunate, the strongest marks of hospitality. A savage will seldom hesitate to share with a fellow-creature oppressed by hunger, his last morsel of provisions.”–Vide _Heriot_, p. 318.
On our return to Illinois from Missouri, we visited the tumuli in the “American bottom,” for the purpose of more closely investigating the form and disposition of these sepulchral mounds. Their shape is invariably hemispherical, or of the _mamelle_ form. Throughout the country, from the banks of the Hudson to a considerable distance beyond the Mississippi, tumuli, and the remains of earthen fortifications were dispersed. Those of the former which have been removed, were found to contain human bones, earthen vessels, and utensils composed of alloyed metal; which latter fact is worthy of particular notice, as none of the Indians of North America are acquainted with the art of alloying. The vessels were generally of the form of drinking cups, or ewer-shaped cans, sometimes with a flange to admit a cover. One of those which I saw in a museum at Cincinnati, had three small knobs at the bottom on which it stood, and I was credibly informed that a dissenting clergyman, through the _esprit de metier_, undertook to prove from the circumstance, that the people who raised these mounds and fortifications must have been acquainted with the doctrine of the Trinity. How far the reverend gentleman is correct in his inference, I leave for theologians to decide.
The Indians do not claim the mounds as depositories for _their_ dead, but are well aware of their containing human bones. They frequently encamp near them, and visit them on their journeys, but more as land marks than on any other account. They approach them with reverence, as they do all burial places, no matter of what people or nation. The Quapaws have a tradition, that they were raised “many hundred snows” ago, by a people that no longer exists; they say, that in those days game was so plenty that very little exertion was necessary to procure a subsistence, and there were then no wars–these happy people having then no employment, collected, merely for sport, these heaps of earth, which have ever since remained, and have subsequently been used by another people, who succeeded them, as depositories of their dead. Another tradition is, that they were erected by the Indians to protect them from the mammoths, until the Great Spirit took pity on his red children, and annihilated these enormous elephants. Most of the Indian nations concur in their having been the work of a people which had ceased to exist before the red men possessed those hunting grounds.
The numerous mounds, fortifications, and burial caverns, and the skeletons and mummies, that have been discovered in these catacombs, sufficiently establish the fact, that a people altogether different from the present aborigines once inhabited these regions. At what period this by-gone people flourished still remains a matter of mere conjecture, for to the present time no discovery has been made that could lead to any plausible supposition.
De Witt Clinton having paid more attention to the antiquities of America than any other person of whom I am aware, I shall here insert his description of the forts. He says, “These forts were, generally speaking, erected on the most commanding ground. The walls, or breastworks, were earthen. The ditches were on the exterior of the works. On some of the parapets, oak trees were to be seen, which, from the number of concentric circles, must have been standing one hundred and fifty, two hundred and sixty, and three hundred years; and there were evident indications, not only that they had sprung up since the erection of these works, but that they were at least a second growth. The trenches were in some cases deep and wide, and in others shallow and narrow; and the breastworks varied in altitude from three to eight feet. They sometimes had one, and sometimes two entrances, as was to be inferred from there being no ditches at those places. When the works were protected by a deep ravine, or large stream of water, no ditch was to be seen. The areas of these forts varied from two to six acres; and the form was in general an irregular ellipsis; in some of them, fragments of earthenware and pulverized substances, supposed to have been originally human bones, were to be found.”
* * * * *
“I believe we may confidently pronounce, that all the hypotheses which attribute these works to Europeans are incorrect and fanciful: 1st. on account of the present number of the works; 2d. on account of their antiquity; having from every appearance been erected a long time before the discovery of America; and, finally, their form and manner are varient from European fortifications, either in ancient or modern times.
“It is equally clear that they were not the work of the Indians. Until the Senecas, who are renowned for their national vanity, had seen the attention of the Americans attracted to these erections, and had invented the fabulous account of which I have spoken, the Indians of the present day did not pretend to know any thing about their origin. They were beyond the reach of all their traditions, and were lost in the abyss of unexplored antiquity.”
At the Bull shoals, east branch of White river in Missouri, several feet below the surface of the banks, _reliqua_ were found which indicated that this spot had formerly been the seat of metalurgical operations. The alloy appeared to be lead united with silver. Arrow-heads cut out of flint, and pieces of earthen pots which had evidently undergone the action of fire, were also found here. The period of time at which these operations were carried on in this place must have been very remote, as the present banks have been since entirely formed by alluvial deposits.
Near the _Teel-te-nah_ (or dripping-fork), which empties itself into the La Platte, and not far distant from its junction with that river, there is an extensive cavern, in which are deposited several mummies. Some tribes which roam this region have a tradition, that the first Indian ascended through this aperture, and settled on the earth’s surface.
A few years since, on the Merrimac river in St. Louis county, a number of pigmy graves were discovered. The coffins were of stone; and the length of the bodies which they contained, judging from that of the coffins, could not have been more than from three feet and a half to four feet. The graves were numerous, and the skeletons in some instances nearly entire.
In the month of June (1830), a party of gentlemen, whilst in pursuit of wild turkeys, in Hart county, Kentucky, discovered, on the top of a small knoll, a hole sufficiently large to admit a man’s body. Having procured lights, they descended, and at the depth of about sixty feet, entered a cavern, sixteen or eighteen feet square, apparently hewn out of solid rock. The whole chamber was filled with human skeletons, which they supposed, _from the size_, to be those of women and children. The place was perfectly dry, and the bones were in a state of great preservation. They wished to ascertain how deep the bones lay, and dug through them between four and seven feet, but found them quite as plentiful as at the top: on coming to this depth, dampness appeared, and an unpleasant effluvia arising, obliged them to desist. There was no outlet to the cavern. A large snake, which appeared to be perfectly docile, passed several times round the apartment whilst they remained.
In a museum at New York, I saw one of those mummies alluded to, which appeared to be remarkably small; but I had not an opportunity of examining it minutely. Those that have been found in the most perfect state of preservation were deposited in nitrous caves, and were enveloped in a manner so different from the practices of the Indians, that the idea cannot be entertained of their being the remains of the ancestors of the present race. Flint gives the following description of one of them which he carefully examined. He says, “The more the subject of the past races of men and animals in this region is investigated, the more perplexed it seems to become. The huge bones of the animals indicate them to be vastly larger than any that now exist on the earth. All that I have seen and heard of the remains of the men, would seem to shew that they were smaller than the men of our times. All the bodies that have been found in that high state of preservation, in which they were discovered in nitrous caves, were considerably smaller than the present ordinary stature of men. The two bodies that were found in the vast limestone cavern in Tennessee, one of which I saw at Lexington, were neither of them more than four feet in height. It seems to me that this must have been nearly the height of the living person. The teeth and nails did not seem to indicate the shrinking of the flesh from them in the desiccating process by which they were preserved. The teeth were separated by considerable intervals; and were small, long, white, and sharp, reviving the horrible images of nursery tales of ogres’ teeth. The hair seemed to have been sandy, or inclining to yellow. It is well known that nothing is so uniform in the present Indian as his lank black hair. From the pains taken to preserve the bodies, and the great labour of making the funeral robes in which they were folded, they must have been of the ‘blood-royal,’ or personages of great consideration in their day. The person that I saw, had evidently died by a blow on the skull. The blood had coagulated there into a mass, of a texture and colour sufficiently marked to shew that it had been blood. The envelope of the body was double. Two splendid blankets, completely woven with the most beautiful feathers of the wild turkey, arranged in regular stripes and compartments, encircled it. The cloth on which these feathers were woven, was a kind of linen of neat texture, of the same kind with that which is now woven from the fibres of the nettle. The body was evidently that of a female of middle age, and I should suppose that her majesty weighed, when I saw her, six or eight pounds.”
The silly attempts that have been made to establish an oriental origin for the North American Indians, have never produced any other conviction in an unbiased mind, than that the _facts_ brought forward to support that theory existed only in the imaginations of those who advanced them. The colour, the form, the manners, habits, and propensities of the Indians, all combine to establish that they are a distinct race of human beings, and could never have emanated from any people of European, Asiatic, or African origin. The notion that climate would be sufficient to produce an essential change in the appearance of any number of individuals, cannot now be maintained; since from the discovery of America, Europeans, Africans, and Indians have inhabited all regions of this vast continent, without undergoing the slightest characteristic change from the descendants of the original stock, who have remained in their primitive locations. The Power that induces the existence of plants and lower animals indigenous to the different sections of the earth, seems also to induce the existence of a race of men peculiar to the regions in which they are found.
The languages of America are radically different from those of the old world; and no similitude can be traced between the tongues of the red men, and those of any other people hitherto known. Jarvis, in his Paper on the Religion of the Indian Tribes of North America, says, “The best informed writers agree, that there are, exclusive of the Karalit or Esquimaux, three radical languages spoken by the Indians of North America. Mr. Heckwelder denominates them the Iroquois, the Lenape, and the Floridian. The Iroquois is spoken by the Six Nations, the Wyandots, or Hurons, the Nandowessies, the Assiniboils, and other tribes beyond the St. Lawrence. The Lenape, which is the most widely extended language on this side the Mississippi, was spoken by the tribes now extinct, who formerly inhabited Nova Scotia and the present state of Maine, the Abenakis, Micmacs, Canibas, Openangos, Soccokis, Etchemins, and Souriquois; dialects of it are now spoken by the Miamis, the Potawatomies, Missisangoes, and Kickapoos; the Eonestogas, Nanticokes, Shawanese, and Mohicans; the Algonquins, Knisteneaux, and Chippeways. The Floridian includes the languages of the Creeks, or Muskohgees, Chickesaws, Choctaws, Pascagoulas, Cherokees, Seminolese, and several other tribes in the southern states and Florida. These three languages are primitive; that is to say, are so distinct as to have no perceivable affinity. All, therefore, cannot be derived from the Hebrew; for it is a contradiction in terms to speak of three languages radically different, as derived from a common source. Which, then, we may well ask, is to be selected as the posterity of the Israelites: the Iroquois, the Lenape, or the southern Indians?
“Besides, there is one striking peculiarity in the construction of American languages, which has no counterpart in the Hebrew. Instead of the ordinary division of genders, they divide into animate and inanimate. It is impossible to conceive that any nation, in whatever circumstances they might be placed, could depart in so remarkable a manner from the idioms of their native language.”
M. Duponceau, a Frenchman settled at Philadelphia, who is perhaps one of the first philologists of the age, concludes a treatise on the same subject with the following deductions:
1.–“That the American languages, in general, are rich in words and in grammatical forms; and that in their complicated construction, the greatest order, method, and regularity prevail.”
2.–“That these complicated forms, which I call polysinthetic, appear to exist in all those languages, from Greenland to Cape Horn.”
3.–“That these forms appear to differ essentially from those of the ancient and modern languages of the old hemisphere.”
We intended to proceed direct from the banks of the Mississippi to Edwardsville, which lies in a north-easterly direction from St. Louis, but unfortunately got on the wrong track, an occurrence by no means uncommon on the prairies, and by this casualty visited Troy, a _town_ containing two houses, namely, a “groggery,” and a farm-house, both owned by the one person. The only resemblance this trans-Atlantic Ilium can possibly bear to the city of the ten years’ siege, lies in the difficulty of ascertaining its location; for had we not been informed that here stood the town of Troy, we should have passed through this, as we did through many others, without ever suspecting the fact. Town-making is quite a speculation in the western country; and the first thing a man does after purchasing a few hundred acres of ground, is to “lay off a town lot:” this causes the maps to be studded with little circular dots, and great big names attached to them, which would lead one to suppose the population to be much greater than it is in reality.
From Edwardsville, we proceeded by Ripley and Greenville, to Vandalia, the seat of government of the state.
The prairies had lost much of the brilliant green colour which they possessed when we before crossed them, and they were now assuming rather a burnt appearance. Towards the close of autumn the grass generally becomes so dry as to be easily ignited, which formerly took place by accident, or otherwise, almost every year. The sight must be grand indeed; and we almost regretted that we were not so fortunate as to be in danger of being burnt alive–the sight would be worth the risk. There is a penalty attached to the firing of the woods or prairies, as the plantations are now becoming too numerously scattered over the country, and property is likely to be injured by these conflagrations.
Towards the latter end of October, the season peculiar to this country, denominated the “Indian summer,” commences, and lasts for some weeks. At this period, the atmosphere is suffused with a vapour which at a distance has the appearance of smoke, arising as it were from fires in the forest. The air is always calm and mild on those days, and the sun’s disk assumes a broad, reddish appearance.
Vandalia is the capital of Illinois, and is seated on the Kaskaskia river, which is only navigable to this point during the “freshets” in autumn and spring. The positions of the capitals are chosen for their centrality alone, and not with reference to any local advantages they may possess.
Illinois is a free state, and its constitution is but a counterpart of those of Ohio and Indiana. The extent is 380 miles from north to south, and about 140 miles from east to west: area, 52,000 square miles, or 33,280,000 acres. The population in 1810, was 12,282; in 1820, 55,211: white males, 29,401; white females, 24,387; slaves, 917; militia in 1821, 2,031. The present population is, according to the last census, 157,575. The increase within the last ten years has been nearly 186 per cent.
This state is better circumstanced than any other in the west. It is bounded on the north by the north-west territory; on the south by the Ohio; on the east by the Wabash and Lake Michigan; and on the west by the Mississippi. The Illinois river is navigable at almost all seasons to very nearly its head waters; and by means of a very short portage a communication is established between it and Lake Michigan. A canal is contemplated between this lake and the Wabash.
The heath-hen (_tetrao cupido_), or as it is here called, the ‘Prairie-hen,’ abounds on the prairies, particularly in the neighbourhood of barrens. This species of grouse, I believe, is not to be met with in Europe; nor has it been accurately described by any ornithologist before Wilson. One habit of the male of this bird is remarkable: at the season of incubation, the cocks assemble every morning just before day-break, outside the wood, and there exercise themselves tilting until the sun appears, when they disperse. Hunters have not failed to note the circumstance, and take advantage of it.
We were frequently amused with the movements of the “Turkey buzzard” (_vultur aura_). This bird is well known in the southern and western states; and in the former is considered of so much utility that a penalty is inflicted on any person who may wantonly destroy it. It is perfectly harmless, never attacking even the smallest living animal, and seems always to prefer carrion when in a state of putrefaction. Except when rising from the ground, the buzzard never flaps its wings, but literally floats through the atmosphere, forming graceful ogees.
During our journeys across Illinois, we passed several large bodies of settlers on their way to Sangamon and Morgan counties in that state. These counties are situated on the Illinois river, and are said to be fertile tracts. The mass of those persons were Georgians, Virginians, and Kentuckians, whose comparative poverty rendered their residence in slave states unpleasant.
Perhaps there is nothing more remarkable in the character of the Americans than the indifference with which they leave their old habitations, friends, and relations. Each individual is taught to depend mainly on his own exertions, and therefore seldom expects or requires extraordinary assistance from any man. Attachments seldom exist here beyond that of ordinary acquaintances–these are easily found wherever one may go, arising from a variety of circumstances connected with their institutions and their necessities; and thus one of the great objections that present themselves to change with Europeans scarcely exists here. Observe, I apply this remark more particularly to the western and southern states; for the eastern states being longer settled and more thickly populated, these feelings, although they exist, yet they do so in a more modified degree.
The appearance presented by the forests at this season is very beautiful–the trees are covered with leaves of almost every colour, from bright crimson to nearly snow-white; the admixture of green, brown, yellow, scarlet, &c., such as is almost peculiar to an American forest, produces a very pleasing combination.
We again reached Albion, and retraced our steps from thence to Harmony, where we deposited our friend B—-; and after having remained there for a few days to refresh ourselves and horse, set forward for Ohio. The weather had now become unfavourable, and the frequent rains and high winds were shaking the leaves down in myriads–the entire of our journey through Indiana being across forests, we were under one constant shower of leaves from Harmony to Cincinnati.
One day while getting our horse fed at a tavern in Indiana, the following conversation took place between the persons there assembled. We were sitting at the door, surrounded by captains, lawyers, and squires, when one of the gentlemen demanded of another if there had not been a “gouging scrape” at the “Colonel’s tavern” the evening before. He replied in the affirmative; and after having related the cause of quarrel, and said that the lie had been given, he continued, “the judge knocked the major right over, and jumped on to him in double quick time–they had it rough and tumble for about ten minutes–Lord J—s Alm—-y!–as pretty a scrape as ever you _see’d_–the judge is a wonderfully lovely fellow.” Then followed a description of the divers punishments inflicted by the combatants on each other–the major had his eye nearly “gouged” out, and the judge his chin almost bitten off. During the recital, the whole party was convulsed with laughter–in which we joined most heartily.
We of course returned by a different route through Indiana, passing from Princeton to Portersville, and from thence through Paoli, Salem, and New Lexington, to Madison. The country about Madison is hilly and broken, which makes travelling tedious in the extreme. From the mouth of the Big Miami to Blue river, a range of hills runs parallel to the Ohio, alternately approaching to within a few perches of the river, and receding to a distance of one to two miles. Below Blue river the hills disappear, and the land becomes level and heavily timbered. There is also another range of hills, extending from the Falls of Ohio to the Wabash in a south-westerly direction, which are called the “knobs:” to the west of these are the “flats;” and from the Wabash to lake Michigan the country is champaign.
Indianopolis is the capital of Indiana, and is seated on the White river. This state averages about 270 miles from north to south, and 144 miles from east to west: area, 37,000 square miles, or 23,680,000 acres. The population in 1810, was 24,520–in 1820, 147,178: white males, 79,919; white females, 69,107; slaves, 190; militia in 1821, 14,990. The present population is 341,582.
Vast quantities of hogs are bred in the state of Indiana, and are suffered to rove at large in the forests in search of mast. They are in general perfectly wild, and when encountered suddenly bristle up like an enraged porcupine. Their legs are long; bodies thin; and tail lengthy and straight. I was informed that if one of those animals be wounded, its screams will draw an immense concourse of its brethren around it, and that the situation of a person under these circumstances, is by no means void of danger; as they will not fail to attack him _en masse_. We were once very nigh getting into a scrape of this description. Driving along through the forest, we had to pass a tract covered with a thick growth of brushwood–my friend seeing something stirring among the bushes, drew up, and taking it for a deer, called out to me to fire–I stood up in the vehicle, and levelled where I saw the movement, when, lo! out starts a bristling hog, with a grunt just in time to escape with a whole skin.
One night having been accidently separated from my fellow-traveller, I had to stay in a miserable-looking hut close to a creek, the habitation of a backwoodsman. This person’s appearance was extremely unprepossessing. The air of ferocity and wildness which characterized his countenance, added to his unhealthy, cadaverous aspect, would have been sufficient in any other country to make one feel unpleasant at passing the night alone under his roof. He resided in this unhealthy situation, because the land was extremely fertile; but stated that every fall some one of his family was ill, and none of them enjoyed good health. Now when we summed up the consequent loss of labour incident to ill health, the balance of profit seemed to be greatly against bottom land, and much in favour of the healthful prairies.
The farmers use, almost exclusively, the sugar of the maple (_acer saccharinum_) which they manufacture themselves. The space in which a number of these trees are found, they call a “sugar camp.” The process of manufacturing is as follows:–After the first frost, the trees are tapped, by perforating the trunk in an ascending direction. A spout of alder is inserted in the perforation, and the sap drips through this conduit into a trough of wood. The sap is then boiled with a spoonful of slacked lime, the white of an egg or two, and about a pint of milk, to every fifteen gallons. An ordinary tree commonly gives four pounds of good coarse brown sugar, which when refined can be made equal to superior lump sugar.
A great portion of the roads through which we passed were mere horse paths, full of stumps, with shrubs entangled across them so thickly, that we were often obliged to dismount in order to cut away part of the impediment. Large trees which have fallen across the road, frequently intercept your passage, and you have no alternative but to lift the wheels of the vehicle over them.
As we approached Cincinnati the difficulty of travelling became greatly augmented. The rains had cut up the roads into ravines, sometimes full three feet in depth, which, added to the clayey nature of the soil, completely exhausted the horse, and rendered him incapable of proceeding faster than a slow walk, even with the empty carriage.
There are a number of Baptists residing at Cincinnati, who frequently entertain the inhabitants with public baptisms in the Ohio river. At one of those ceremonies, about this time, rather a ludicrous occurrence took place. The baptizing preacher stands up to his middle in the water, and the person to be baptized is led to him by another preacher. On this occasion the officiating clergyman was rather a slight man, and the lady to be baptized was extremely large and corpulent–he took her by the hands to perform the immersion, but notwithstanding his most strenuous exertions, he was thrown off his centre. She finding him yield, held still harder, until they both sowsed completely under the water, where they lay floundering and struggling for some time, amidst the shouts and laughter of the multitude assembled on shore. At length their brethren extricated them from this perilous situation.
 M. Duponceau adduces the following examples: “In the Arancanian language the word ‘_idnancloclavin_’ means ‘I do not wish to eat with him.’ There is a similar verb in the Delaware tongue–‘_n’schingiwipona_,’ which means ‘I do not like to eat with him.’ To which may be added another example in the latter tongue–‘_machtitschwanne_,’–this must be translated ‘a cluster of islands with channels every way, so that it is in no place shut up, or impassable for craft.’ This term is applied to the islands in the bay of New York.”
The weather having become cold and disagreeable towards the latter end of December, I set out for New Orleans. The larger class of steam-boats lay then at Shippingsport, immediately below the falls of Ohio, the river not being sufficiently high to enable them to pass over those rapids. Boats drawing from nineteen to twenty-six inches water can almost at all seasons ply on the Upper Ohio, and during the periods that the large boats are detained below the Falls, they are constantly employed in transporting produce, intended for the markets on the Mississippi, to Louisville, from whence it is drayed round to Shippingsport and re-shipped. Flat-boats are also employed for this purpose, and they are preferred, as they pass over the Falls, and thus land-carriage is avoided.
Louisville is the chief town of Jefferson county, in Kentucky, and at present it is estimated to contain about 12,000 inhabitants, including slaves and free people of colour. The store-keepers here are more wealthy than those of Cincinnati, and their manners less disagreeable. The inhabitants of the latter town being mostly from the New England states, have in their dealings and manners that dry shrewdness which is the true Yankee characteristic. There are also located in Cincinnati some Irish pedlars, who have by all manner of means acquired wealth, and are now the “biggest bugs” in the place.
The public buildings of Louisville are few, and the streets are laid out in the usual style, crossing each other at right angles. It contains a few good brick dwelling-houses, and a number of excellent hack-carriages are stationed near the steam-boat landing. A canal round the Falls, from Beargrass-creek to Shippingsport, is being constructed, which will enable steam-boats of the largest tonnage to pass through; and thus it will open an uninterrupted intercourse between the Upper and Lower Ohio, and the Mississippi. The length of this canal is about two and a half miles, and the original estimate was 200,000 dollars, but this sum has been found insufficient.
At Louisville I took a berth on board a boat for New Orleans. The steam-boats on the Mississippi are large, and splendidly appointed; the interior has more the appearance of a well fitted up dining-room than the cabin of a boat. The charge is twenty-five dollars, for which you are found in every thing except liquors. Meats, fowls, vegetables, fruits, preserves, &c., are served in abundance, and of the very best quality. Here you may see tradesmen, “nigger traders,” farmers, “congress men,” captains, generals, and judges, all seated at the same table, in true republican simplicity. There is no appearance of awkwardness in the behaviour of the humblest person you see seated at those tables; and indeed their general good conduct is remarkable–I mean when contrasted with that of the same class in England. The truth is, the tradesman here finds himself of some importance in the scale of society, and endeavours to show that he is fully qualified to be seated at the same table, _en passant_, with the most wealthy citizen. No doubt the higher classes have some of that high polish rubbed off by these occasional contacts with their less-civilized fellow citizens; but the humbler classes decidedly gain what _they_ lose. All dress well, and are _American_ gentlemen.
The Ohio is formed by the junction of the Alleghany and Monongahela rivers at Pittsburg, that town being seated in the fork–its breadth there, is between eight and nine hundred yards. From the mouths of those two rivers it narrows and deepens for some distance; but afterwards, from the accession of the many tributary streams by which it is supplied, gradually becomes wider and deeper, until it empties itself into the Mississippi. The length of the Ohio, following its meanders, is about 950 miles, and it may be said to be navigable almost the entire year, as the water must be unusually low when the smaller steam-boats cannot ply to Pittsburg. The character of this river is somewhat peculiar. But for the improvements on the banks, when you have seen six or eight miles of this stream, you are acquainted with the remainder as far as the Falls–that is to say, any variety that may be in the scenery will occur in any given six miles from Pittsburg to that point. Below Louisville there are one or two rocky bluffs, and the face of the country is somewhat different. The channel of the Upper Ohio lies between hills, which frequently approach the _mamelle_ form, and are covered with a heavy growth of timber. Where the hills or bluffs do not rise immediately from the river, but recede some distance, the space between the river and the hill is called bottom land, from the circumstance of its being overflown annually; or having at some former period formed part of the river’s bed, which is indicated by the nature of the soil. The bluffs and bottoms invariably alternate; and when you have bluffs on one side, you are sure to have bottom on the other. The windings are extremely uniform, with few exceptions, curving in a serpentine form in so regular a manner, that the Indians always calculated the distance by the number of bends.
“The Falls” are improperly so termed, as this obstruction is nothing more than a gradual descent for a distance of about a mile and a half, where the water, forcing its way over a rugged rocky bottom, presents the appearance of a rapid. Below this the country is of various aspects–hills, bottom-land, and high rocky bluffs; and towards the mouth, cotton-wood trees, (_populus angulata_), and cane brakes, are interspersed along the banks. The junction of these two noble rivers, the Ohio and Mississippi, is really a splendid sight–the scenery is picturesque, and the water at the point of union is fully two miles broad.
The Mississippi is in length, from its head waters to the _balize_ in the gulf of Mexico, about two thousand three hundred miles, and flows through an immense variety of country. The section through which it passes, before its junction with the Missouri, is represented as being elegantly diversified with woodlands, prairies, and rich bottoms, and the banks are lined with a luxuriant growth of plants and flowers. Before reaching the Missouri, the water of the Mississippi is perfectly limpid; but, from the mouth of that river it becomes turgid and muddy–flows through a flat, inundated country, and seems more like an immense flood, than an old and deep-channelled river. As far as great things can be compared to small, it much resembles, within its banks, the Rhone when flooded, as it sweeps through the department of Vaucluse, after its junction with the Saone.
From St. Louis to New Orleans, a distance of twelve hundred miles, there are but six elevated points–the four Chickesaw bluffs, the Iron banks, and the Walnut hills. Numerous islands are interspersed through this river; and from the mouth of the Ohio, tall cotton-wood trees and cane-brakes grow in immense quantities along the banks; the latter, being evergreens, have a pleasing effect in the winter season. The windings of the Mississippi are, like those of the Ohio, constant, but not so serpentine, and some of them are of immense magnitude. You traverse every point of the compass in your passage up or down: for example, there is a bend near _Bayou Placquamine_, the length of which by the water is upwards of sixty miles, and from one point to the other across the distance is but three.
The town of “Baton Rouge” is situated about 190 miles above New Orleans, and contains a small garrison;–the esplanade runs down to the water’s-edge, and the whole has a pretty effect. Here the sugar plantations commence, and the face of the country is again changed–you find yourself in the regions of the south. For a distance of from half-a-mile to two miles back, at each side, the land is planted with sugar-canes, and highly cultivated. The planters’ houses are tastefully built, surrounded by gardens full of orange-trees, flowers, and evergreens, presenting the idea of perpetual spring, which here is indeed the case. The winters are seldom more severe than a mild spring in England. I first came in on this region at night, at the season of planting, when the cast or used canes are burned in heaps on each plantation. The dark turgid waters–the distant fires, surrounded by clouds of white smoke ascending in winding columns to the skies–the stillness of the night, interrupted only by the occasional cry of the pelican or the crane, and the monotonous thumping of the steam-boat paddles, formed a strange combination; and had the days of witches and warlocks not long since passed away, one would have sworn that these gentry were performing incantations over the mystic cauldrons, casting “seven bullets,” or “raising spirits from the vasty deep.”
The Mississippi is in few places more than from half-a-mile to a mile wide; and were one to judge of its magnitude by its breadth alone, a very erroneous estimate would be formed. It is only by contemplating the many vast rivers which empty themselves into the Mississippi that you can form a correct idea of the immense volume of water that flows through this channel into the Gulf of Mexico. Many of its larger tributary streams have the appearance of being as great as itself–the depth alone indicating the superiority of this mighty river over every other in America; and, considering its length, perhaps over any other in the world.
The great valley of the Mississippi extends, in length, from the Gulf of Mexico to a distance of nearly 3000 miles; and is in breadth, from the base of the Alleghanies to the foot of the Rocky mountains, about 2,500 miles. The soil is composed of alluvial deposits, to a depth of from twenty to fifty feet; and I have myself seen, near New Orleans, trees lying in the horizontal position six or seven feet below the surface. This valley has been frequently visited by earthquakes, which have sometimes changed part of the channel of the river, and at others formed lakes. Those which occurred between the years 1811 and 1813, did serious injury, particularly in the neighbourhood of New Madrid, near the west bank, below the mouth of the Ohio. At several points the bank is sunk eight or ten feet below the surface of the adjacent ground, with the trees remaining upright as before.
New Orleans is seated on the south-east bank of the Mississippi; and, following the sinuosities of the current, about 109 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. The river takes here a right-angular sweep, and the city proper is built on the exterior point of the bend, the _fauxbourgs_ extending at each side along the banks. At high water the river rises three feet above any part of the city; consequently, were it not for levees that have been constructed here, and also along the banks of the river for more than a hundred miles, at both sides, above and below, the whole country would be periodically inundated. The fall from the levee to Bayou St. John, which communicates with _Lac Pontchartrain_, is about thirty feet, and the distance one mile. This fall is certainly inconsiderable; but I apprehend that it would be sufficient to drain the streets effectually, if proper attention were directed to that object.
The city extends only half-a-mile back, and, including the _fauxbourgs_, about two miles along the river. The streets, being only partially paved, can never be perfectly cleaned, and stagnant water remains in the kennels at all seasons; this and the exhalations from the swamps in warm weather, produce that pestilential scourge with which the place is annually afflicted. The mortality here last season (the autumn of 1829) has been variously stated in the public prints at from five to seven thousand, who died of the yellow fever in the space of about ten weeks. This statement, however, is erroneous; as, from information which I received from the sexton of the American grave-yard, and from the number of fresh graves which I saw there, I am inclined to think that the total amount falls short of 2500, out of a resident population of less than 40,000 souls. About 700 were buried in the American grave-yard, and perhaps double that number in that of the French.
The port of New Orleans presents the most extraordinary medley of any port in the world. Craft of every possible variety may be seen moored along the levees, and the markets and adjacent streets crowded with people of almost every nation in Europe, Africa, and America, who create a frightful confusion of tongues. A particular part of the quay is appropriated to each description of craft, and a penalty is enforced for any deviation from port regulations. The upper part is occupied with flat-boats, arks, peeroges, rafts, keel-boats, canoes, and steam-boats; and below these are stationed schooners, cutters, brigs, ships, &c., in regular succession. The levee is almost constantly filled with merchandize; and the scene of bustle and confusion which is exhibited here during the early part of the day, fully proves the large amount of commercial intercourse which this city enjoys.
When Louisiana was ceded to the United States, in 1803, Orleans was then entirely occupied by Creole-French and Spanish, consequently the majority of the habitations and public buildings, are in the French and Spanish style. The cathedral, which presents a handsome facade of about seventy feet, the town-hall, and courts, occupy one side of the _place d’armes,_–these, with the American theatre, the _theatre d’Orleans,_ or French opera house, the hospital, and three or four churches, are the only public buildings in the city. The houses are all flat-roofed, and those in the back streets and fauxbourgs are seldom more than one story high; the practice of building houses in this manner was pursued in order to avoid injury from tornadoes, which occasionally visit the valley of the Mississippi; latterly they have not been of frequent occurrence, although when they do arise, they are extremely violent. The town of Urbana, in Ohio, this year (1830) has been nearly destroyed by a visitation of this nature.
Pharo-banks, roulette-tables, and gambling of all kinds, are publicly permitted; but the proprietor of each establishment pays a tax of 5000 dollars per annum. The _theatre d’Orleans_ on Sunday evenings, is generally crowded with beautiful French women. Every night during the winter season there is a _bal pare et masque_, and occasionally “quadroon balls,” which are attended by the young men of the city and their _cheres amies_ quadroons, who are decidedly the finest women in the country, being well formed, and graceful in their carriage. The Louisianians are prohibited by law from marrying with quadroons, although this _caste_ is free, and many of them have been educated in France, and are highly accomplished.
In the south, slavery exists in its most unqualified condition, wanting those milder modifications which serve to dress and decorate the person of this ugly fiend. Here may be seen hundreds of animals of our own genus exposed in the public bazaars for sale, and examined with as much care, and precisely in the same manner, as we examine horses. In some of the slave states the law prohibits the separation of families, but this prohibition is little attended to, as the slave has no possibility of coming in contact with any dispensers of justice but the magistrates of the state, who, being slave-holders themselves, instead of redressing his grievances, would be more likely to order him a lashing, for presuming to complain. Many melancholy instances occur here, which clearly illustrate the evils of slavery and its demoralizing influence on the human character. The arguments against slavery are deduced from self-evident propositions, and must carry conviction to every well organized mind; yet from their application being of too general a character, they seldom interest the feelings, and in the end leave less impression than the simple statement of a particular occurrence. During my stay, a Doctor —- came down the river with thirty slaves, among which were an old negro and negress, each between sixty and seventy years of age; this unfortunate old woman had borne twenty-one children, all of whom had been at different times sold in the Orleans market, and carried into other states, and into distant parts of Louisiana. The Doctor said, in order to induce her to leave home quietly, that he was bringing her into Louisiana for the purpose of placing her with some of her children–“and now,” says the old negress, “aldo I suckle my massa at dis breast, yet now he sell me to sugar planter, after he sell all my children away from me.” This gentleman was a strict Methodist, or “saint,” and is, I was informed, much esteemed by the preachers of that persuasion, because of his liberal contributions to their support.
Negresses, when young and likely, are often employed as wet nurses by white people, as also by either the planter or his friends, to administer to their sensual desires–this frequently as a matter of speculation, for if the offspring, a mulatto, be a handsome female, from 800 to 1000 dollars may be obtained for her in the Orleans market. It is an occurrence of no uncommon nature to see the Christian father sell his own daughter, and the brother his own sister, by the same father. Slaves do not marry, but pair at discretion; and the more children they produce, the better for their masters.
On the Levee at New Orleans, are constantly exhibited specimens of the white man’s humanity, in the persons of runaway slaves. When such an unfortunate negro is retaken, a log is chained to one of his legs, and round his neck is placed an iron collar, from which project three sharp prongs more than a foot in length each.
The evils of this infernal system are beginning to re-act upon the Christians, who are latterly kept in a constant state of alarm, fearing the number and disposition of the blacks, which threaten at no far distant period to overwhelm the south with some dreadful calamity. Three incendiary fires took place at Orleans, during the month I remained in that city, by which several thousand bales of cotton were consumed. The condition of the slaves on the sugar or rice plantations, is truly wretched. They are ill-fed, ill-clad, and worked in gangs under the superintendence of a driver, who is armed with a long whip, which he uses at discretion; and it is a fact, well known to persons who have visited slave countries, that punishments are more frequently inflicted to gratify the private pique or caprice of the driver, than for crime or neglect of duty.
In the agricultural states, slave labour is found to be altogether unproductive, which causes this market to be inundated:–within the last two months, 5000 negros have been sold here. The state legislature has just passed a law, regulating the introduction of slaves, and commanding all free people of colour, who were not residents previous to 1825, to quit Louisiana in the space of six months. Georgia has enacted a law to the same effect, with the addition of making penal, _the teaching of people of colour to read or write_. The liberty of the press is by no means tolerated in the slave states, as both judges and juries will always decide according to the local laws, although totally at variance with the constitution. W.L. Garrison, of Baltimore, one of the editors of a publication entitled, “The Genius of Universal Emancipation,” is now suffering fine and imprisonment for an alleged libel, at the suit of a slavite; and a law has been passed by the legislature of Louisiana, suppressing the Orleans journal called “The Liberal.” This latter act is not only contrary to the constitution of the United States, but also in direct opposition to the constitution of Louisiana.
The free states in their own defence have been obliged to prohibit people of colour settling within their boundaries. Where then can the unfortunate African find a retreat? He must not stay in this country, and he cannot go to Africa; and although the British government are encouraging the settlement of negros in the Canadas, yet latterly, neither the Canadians nor the Americans like that project. The most probable finale to this drama will be, that the Christians must at their own expense ship them to Liberia (for Hayti is inundated), and there throw them on barren shores to die of starvation, or to be massacred by the savages!
Miss Wright lately passed through New Orleans with thirty negros which she had manumitted, and was then going to establish them at Hayti. These slaves had been purchased at reduced prices, from persons friendly to their emancipation, and were kept by Miss Wright until their labour, allowing them a fair remuneration, amounted to the prime outlay.
Were it not for the danger that might be apprehended from the congregation of large bodies of negros in particular states or districts, their liberation would be attended with little inconvenience _to the public_, for their labour might be as effectually secured, and made quite as profitable, under a system of well-regulated emancipation. We need only refer to England for a case in point:–after the conquest and total subjugation of the people of that country by the ancestors of the nobility, the gallant Normans, the feudal system was introduced, and remained in full vigour for some centuries. But, as the country became more populous, and the attendance of the knights and barons in parliament became more frequent and necessary, we find villanage gradually fall into disrepute. The last laws regulating this species of slavery were passed in the reign of Henry VII; and towards the end of Elizabeth’s reign, although the statutes remained unrepealed, as they do still, yet there were no persons in the state to whom the laws applied. It cannot be denied that the labour of the poor English is as effectually secured under the present arrangements, as it could possibly be under the system of villanage.
I look upon slaves as public securities; and I am of opinion, that a legislature’s enacting laws for their emancipation, is as flagrant a piece of injustice as would be the cancelling of the public debt. Slave-holders are only share-holders; and philanthropists should never talk of liberating slaves, more than cancelling public securities, without being prepared to indemnify those persons who unfortunately have their capital invested in this species of property.
As many varieties of countenance are to be found among blacks as among whites. There are Africans in this city who have really handsome features, and whose proportions are just, with strong and finely rounded limbs. On becoming more intimate with the general character of the Africans, I like it better: I find they steal, cheat, and hate their masters; and if they were to do otherwise I should think them unworthy of liberty–they justly consider whatever they take to be but a portion of their own. The policy is to keep them as much as possible in utter ignorance–that their indignation should therefore develope itself in the most degrading manner, is not surprising.
There are two public schools established at New Orleans, which are supported out of the fund arising from five gaming-houses, they paying a tax of 25,000 dollars per annum. These schools are conducted on the Lancastrian system, each having a Principal and a Professor, and the studies are divided into daily sessions. The morning session is devoted to reading, spelling, arithmetic, and English grammar; commences at nine A.M., and closes at one P.M. The evening session commences at three, and ends at five o’clock; and is devoted to penmanship, geography, and the French language. This is the arrangement of the English primary school, which is kept in the Old Poydras House, Poydras-street, in the upper part of the city; and is called the Upper Primary School, to distinguish it from the French establishment, which is kept in the lower part of the city. The English school has an English principal, and a French professor; and the French school, a French principal and an English professor. Dr. Kinnicutt, the principal of the Upper Primary School, is a gentleman of considerable ability, and to his friendly politeness I am indebted for the above information.
The ravages of the yellow fever in New Orleans are immense; but I am credibly informed that many deaths occur here from neglect after the fever has subsided, when the patient is in a totally debilitated condition, incapable of affording himself the slightest assistance. Orleans is generally crowded with strangers, who are most susceptible to the epidemic; and it is decidedly the interest of persons keeping hotels and boarding-houses that such guests should give up the ghost, for in that case their loose cash falls into the hands of the proprietor. I do not mean to insinuate that a knife is passed across the throat of the patient; but merely that it is the opinion of physicians, and some of the most respectable people of the city, that every _facility_ is afforded strangers to die, and that in many cases they actually die of gross neglect.
The wealthy merchants live well, keep handsome establishments, and good wines. The Sardanapalian motto, “Laugh, sing, dance, and be merry,” seems to be universally adopted in this “City of the Plague.” The planters’ and merchants’ villas immediately in the vicinity are extremely tasteful, and are surrounded by large parterres filled with plantain, banana, palm, orange, and rose trees. On the whole, were it not for its unhealthiness, Orleans would be a most desirable residence, and the largest city in the United States, as it is most decidedly the best circumstanced in a commercial point of view.
The question of the purchase of Texas from the Mexican government has been widely mooted throughout the country, and in the slave districts it has many violent partizans. The acquisition of this immense tract of fertile country would give an undue preponderance to the slave states, and this circumstance alone has prevented its purchase from being universally approved of; for the grasping policy of the American system seems to animate both congress and legislatures in all their acts. The Americans commenced their operations in true Yankee style. The first settlement made was by a person named Austin, under a large grant from the Mexican government. Then “pioneers,” under the denomination of “explorers,” began gradually to take possession of the country, and carry on commercial negotiations without the assent of the government. This was followed by the public prints taking up the question, and setting forth the immense value of the country, and the consequent advantages that would arise to the United States from its acquisition. The settlers excited movements, and caused discontent and dissatisfaction among the legitimate owners; and at their instigation, insurrections of the Indians took place, which greatly embarrassed the government. At this stage of the affair, Mr. Poinsett, the American minister, commenced his diplomatic manoeuvres in the city of Mexico–fomenting disaffection, encouraging parties, and otherwise interfering in the internal concerns of the country. He appears, however, to have carried his intrigues beyond the bounds of discretion, as they were discovered; and he consequently became so obnoxious to the government and people of Mexico, that Jackson found it necessary to recall him, and send a Colonel Butler in his stead, commissioned to offer 5,000,000 dollars for the province of Texas.
Mr. Poinsett’s object in acting as he did, was that he might embarrass the government, and take advantage of some favourable crisis to drive a profitable bargain; or that, during some convulsion that would be likely to lead to a change, the expiring executive would be glad to grasp at his offer, and thereby a claim would be established on the country, which the United States would not readily relinquish. The policy of the British government suffering the Mexican republic to be bullied out of this province would be very questionable indeed, as the North Americans command at present quite enough of the Gulf of Mexico, and their overweening inclination to acquire extent of territory would render their proximity to the West Indian Islands rather dangerous; however, it would be much more advantageous to have the Mexicans as neighbours than the people of the United States.
The Mexican secretary of state, Don Lucas Alaman, in a very able and elaborate report made to Congress, sets forth the ambitious designs of the American government, and the proceedings of its agents with regard to this province. He also recommends salutary measures for the purpose of retaining possession and preventing further encroachments; which the Congress seems to have taken into serious consideration, as very important resolutions have been adopted. The Congress has decreed, that hereafter the Texas is to be governed as a colony; and, except by special commission of the Governor, the immigration of persons _from the United States_, is strictly forbidden. So much at present for the efforts of the Americans to get possession of the Texas; and if the British government be alive to the interests of the nation, they never shall;–for, entertaining the hostile feelings that they do towards the British empire, their closer connexion with the West Indies would certainly not be desirable.
 A “big bug,” is a great man, in the phraseology of the western country.
 In the Indian tongue, _Meschacebe_–“old father of waters.”
 I have been informed by a gentleman who has resided in the English West Indian Islands, that he has known instances there of highly educated white women, young and unmarried, making black mothers suckle puppy lap-dogs for them.
 Previous to my leaving America, a most extensive and well-organised conspiracy was discovered at Charleston, and several of the conspirators were executed. The whole black population of that town were to have risen on a certain day, and put their oppressors to death.
Extract from “The Liberal” of 19th March, 1830:–
“Constitution des Etats unis.
“Art. 1 er. des Amendments.
“Le Congres n’aura pas le droit de faire aucune loi pour abreger la liberte de la parole ou de la presse, &c.
“Constitution de L’Etat de la Louisiane.
“Art. 6, v. 21.
“La presse sera libre a tous ceux qui entreprendront d’examiner les procedures de la legislature ou aucune branche du gouvernement; et aucune loi sera jamais faite pour abreger ses droits, &c.
“Loi faite par la legislature de l’Etat de la Louisiane.
“Acte pour punir les crime y mentiones et pour d’autre objets.
“Sect. 1ere. Il et decrete, &c. Que quiconque ecrira, imprimera, publiera, ou repandra toute piece ayant une tendance a produire du mecontentement parmi la population de couleur libre, ou de l’insubordination parmi les esclaves de cet Etat, sera sur conviction du fait, pardevant toute cour de juridiction competante condamne a l’emprisonnement aux travaux forces pour la vie ou a la peine de mort, a la discretion de la cour!!!!
“Sec. 2. Il est de plus decrete, que quiconque se servira d’expressions dans un discours public prononce au barreau, au barre des Judges, au Theatre, en chaire, ou dans tout lieu quelconque; quiconque se servira d’expressions dans des conversations ou des discours particulars, ou fera usage des signes ou fera des actions ayant une tendance a produire du mecontentement parmi la population de couleur libre ou a exciter a l’insubordination parmi les esclaves de cet Etat; quiconque donnera sciemment la main a apporter dans cet Etat aucun papier, brochure ou livre ayant la meme tendance que dessus, sera, sur conviction, pardevant toute cour de juridiction competante, condamne a l’emprisonnement aux travaux forces pour un terme qui ne sera pas moindre de trois ans et qui n’excedera pas vingt un ans, ou a la peine de mort a la discretion de la cour!!!!
“Sec. 3. Il est de plus decrete, que seront considerees comme illegales toute reunions de negres; mulatres ou autres personnes de couleur libre dans le temples, les ecoles ou autres lieux pour y apprendre a lire ou a ecrire: et les personnes qui se reuniront ainsi; sur conviction du fait, pardevant toute cour de juridiction competente, seront emprisonnees pour un terme qui ne sera pas moindre d’un mois et qui n’excedera pas douze mois, a la discretion!!!!
“Sec. 4. Il est de plus decrete, que toute personne dans cet etat qui enseignera, permettra qu’on enseigne ou fera enseigner a lire ou a ecrire a un esclave quelconque, sera, sur conviction du fait, pardevant toute cour de juridiction competante, condamne a un imprisonnement qui ne sera pas moindre d’un mois et n’excedera pas douze mois!!!!”
* * * * *
From the remarks of the same journal of the 23rd March, it would appear that the third and fourth sections of this most enlightened and Christian act have been rejected, as being “_too bad_.”
“Nous avons lu la publication officielle de l’acte intitule: ‘acte pour empecher l’introduction des personnes de couleur libres dans cet Etat, et pour d’autres objets.’ Il est trop long pour que nous puissons le publier, nous en donnons l’extrait suivant.
“1. Toute personne de couleur libre, qui sera rentree dans cet etat depuis 1825, sera forcee d’en sortir.
“2. Aucune personne, de couleur libre, ne pourra a l’avenir s’introduire dans cet etat sous aucun pretexte quelconque.
“3. Le blanc qui aura fait circuler des ecrits tendant a troubler le repos public, ou censurant les actes de la legislature concernant les esclaves ou les personnes de couleur libres, sera puni rigoureusement.
“4. L’emancipation des esclaves est soumise a quantite de formalites.
“Tous les noirs, grieffes et mulatres, au premier degre, libres, sont obliges de se faire enregistrer au bureau du maire, a Nelle. Orleans, ou chez les judges de paroisse dans les autres parties de l’etat.
“Nous voyons avec joie, que la partie du bill tendant a empecher l’instruction des personnes de couleur, a ete rejete.”
Having spent a month in Orleans and the neighbouring plantations, I took my leave and departed for Louisville. The steam-boat in which I ascended the river was of the largest description, and had then on board between fifty and sixty cabin passengers, and nearly four hundred deck passengers. The former paid thirty dollars, and the latter I believe six, on this occasion. The deckers were provided only with an unfurnished berth. The steam-boats, on their passage up and down the rivers, stop at nearly all the towns of importance, both for the purpose of landing and receiving freight, which enabled me to visit most of the settlements along the banks.
For several hundred miles from New Orleans, the trees, particularly those in the cypress swamps, are covered with tellandsea, or Spanish moss, which hangs down from the branches so thickly, as to give a most gloomy aspect to the forest. It is found to be a good substitute for horse hair, and is universally used by upholsterers for stuffing mattresses, cushions, &c. The process of preparing it is very simple: being taken from the trees, it is placed in water for a few days, until the outer pellicle has rotted; it is then dried, when a long fibre resembling horse hair is obtained.
Natchez, in the state of Mississippi, is about 300 miles above Orleans, and is the largest and wealthiest town on the river, from that city up to St. Louis. It stands on bluffs, perhaps 300 feet above the water at ordinary periods. It contains nearly 4000 inhabitants, and is decidedly the prettiest town for its dimensions in the United States. Natchez, although upwards of 400 miles from the sea, is considered a port; and a grant of 1500 dollars was made by congress for the purpose of erecting a light-house; the building has been raised, and stands there, a monument of useless expenditure. There are a number of “groggeries,” stores, and other habitations, at the base of the bluffs, for the accommodation of flat-boatmen, which form a distinct town, and the place is called, in contradistinction to the city above, Natchez-under-the-hill. Swarms of unfortunate females, of every shade of colour, may be seen here sporting with the river navigators, and this little spot presents one continued scene of gaming, swearing, and rioting, from morning till night.
The ravages of the yellow fever in this town are always greater in proportion to the population than at New Orleans; and it is a remarkable fact, that frequently when the fever is raging with violence in the city on the hill, the inhabitants below are entirely free from it. In addition to the exhalations from the exposed part of the river’s bed, there are others of a still more pestilential character, which arise from stagnant pools at the foot of the hill. The miasmata appear to ascend until they reach the level of the town above, where the atmosphere being less dense, and perhaps precisely of their own specific gravity, they float, and commingle with it.
The country from Baton-rouge to Vicksburg, on the walnut hills, is almost entirely devoted to the cultivation of cotton, the soil and climate being found particularly congenial to the growth of that plant. The great trade of Natchez is in this article. The investment of capital in the cultivation of cotton is extremely profitable, and a plantation judiciously managed seldom fails of producing an income, in a few years, amounting to the original outlay. Each slave is estimated to produce from 250 to 300 dollars per annum; but of course from this are to be deducted the _wear and tear_ of the slave, and the casualties incident to human life. On sugar plantations the profit is much more on each individual; but the risk is greater, and the deaths are generally calculated at one-third of the gang in ten years: this is the cause why slaves _on sugar plantations_ are so miserably fed and clad, for their being rendered less wretched would not make them less susceptible to the epidemic. Each acre of well-cultivated land produces from one and a half to two bales of cotton, and even the first year the produce will cover the expenses. A planter may commence with 10,000 or 12,000 dollars, and calculate on certain success; but with less capital, he must struggle hard to attain the desired object. A sugar plantation cannot be properly conducted with less than 25,000 or 30,000 dollars, and the first year produces no return. The cotton begins to ripen in the month of October–the buds open, and the flowers appear. A slave can gather from 100 to 150 lbs. a day. Rice and tobacco are also grown in the neighbourhood of the cotton lands, but of course the produce is inferior to that of the West Indies.
Occasionally, along the banks of the Mississippi, you see here and there the solitary habitation of a wood-cutter. Immense piles of wood are placed on the edge of the bank, for the supply of steam-boats, and perhaps a small corn patch may be close to the house; this however is not commonly the case, as the inhabitants depend on flat-boats for provisions. The dwelling is the rudest kind of log-house, and the outside is sometimes decorated with the skins of deer, bears, and other animals, hung up to dry. Those people are commonly afflicted with fever and ague; and I have seen many, particularly females, who had immense swellings or protuberances on their stomachs, which they denominate “ague-cakes.” The Mississippi wood-cutters scrape together “considerable of dollars,” but they pay dearly for it in health, and are totally cut off from the frequent frolics, political discussions, and elections; which last, especially, are a great source of amusement to the Americans, and tend to keep up that spirit of patriotism and nationality for which they are so distinguished. The excitement produced by these elections prevents the people falling into that ale-drinking stupidity, which characterizes the low English.
The “freshets” in the Mississippi are always accompanied with an immense quantity of “drift-wood,” which is swept away from the banks of the Missouri and Ohio; and the navigation is never totally devoid of danger, from the quantity of trees which settle down on the bottom of the river. Those trees which stand perpendicularly in the river, are called “planters;” those which take hold by the roots, but lie obliquely with the current, yielding to its pressure, appearing and disappearing alternately, are termed “sawyers;” and those which lie immovably fixed, in the same position as the “sawyers,” are denominated “snags.” Many boats have been stove in by “snags” and “sawyers,” and sunk with all the passengers. At present there is a snag steam-boat stationed on the Mississippi, which has almost entirely cleared it of these obstructions. This boat consists of two hulks, with solid beams of timber uniting the bows. It has a most powerful engine; and when the crew discover a snag, which always lies with the stream, and is known by the ripple on the water, they run down below it for some distance in order to gather head-way–the boat is then run at it full tilt, and seldom fails of breaking off the projecting branch close to the trunk.
We arrived, a fine morning about nine o’clock, at Memphis in Tennessee, and lay-to to put out freight. We had just sat down, and were regaling ourselves with a substantial breakfast, when one of the boilers burst, with an explosion that resembled the report of a cannon. The change was sudden and terrific. Between fifty and sixty persons were killed and wounded. The scene was the most horrifying that can be imagined–the dead were shattered to pieces, covering the decks with blood; and the dying suffered the most excruciating tortures, being scalded from head to foot. Many died within the hour; whilst others lingered until evening, shrieking in the most piteous manner. The persons assembled on shore displayed the most disgusting want of sympathy; and most of the gentlemen passengers took care to secure their luggage before rendering any assistance to the unfortunates. A medical gentleman, who happened to be on board (a Doctor Otis, I think, from Carolina), was an exception. This gentleman–and gentleman he really was, in every respect–attended with the most unremitting care on all the wounded without distinction. A collection was made by the cabin passengers, for the surviving sufferers. The wretch who furnished oil on the occasion, hearing of the collection, had the conscience to make a charge of sixty dollars, when the quantity furnished could not possibly have amounted to a third of that sum.
The boiler recoiled, cutting away part of the bow, and the explosion blew up the pilot’s deck, which rendered the vessel totally unfit for service. I remained three days at Memphis, and visited the neighbouring farms and plantations. Several parties of Chickesaw Indians were here, trading their deer and other skins with the townspeople. This tribe has a reservation about fifty miles back, and pursues agriculture to a considerable extent. After the massacre and extermination of the Natchez Indians, by the Christians of Louisiana, the few survivors received an asylum from the Chickesaws; who, notwithstanding the heavy vengeance with which they were threatened, could never be induced to give up the few unhappy “children of the Sun” who confided in their honour and generosity: the fugitives amalgamated with their protectors, and the Natchez are extinct.
Some of the Indians here assembled, indulged immoderately in the use of ardent spirits, with which they were copiously supplied by the white people. During these drinking fits, there is always one at least of the party who remains sober, in order to secure the knives, &c. Hence the Americans derive the cant phrase of “doing the sober Indian,” which they apply to any one of a company who will not _drink fairly_. One of the Indians had a pony which he wished to sell, having occasion for some articles, and his skins not bringing him as much as he had anticipated. A townsman demanded the price. The Indian put up both his hands, intimating that he would take ten dollars. The pony was worth double the sum; but the spirit of barter would not permit the white man to purchase without reducing the price: he offered the Indian five dollars. The Indian was evidently indignant, but only gave a nod of dissent. After some hesitation, the buyer, finding that he could not reduce the price, said he would give the ten dollars. The Indian then held up his fingers, and counted fifteen. The buyer demurred at the advance; but the Indian was inexorable, and at length intimated that he would not trade at all. Such is the character of the Aborigines–they never calculate on _your_ necessities, but only on their own; and when they are in want of money, demand the lowest possible price for the article they may wish to sell–but if they see you want to take further advantage of them, they invariably raise the price or refuse to traffic.
Hunting in Tennessee is commonly practised on horseback, with dogs. When the party comes upon a deer-track, it separates, and hunters are posted, at intervals of about a furlong, on the path which the deer when started is calculated to take. Two or three persons then set forward with the dogs, always coming up against the wind, and start the deer, when the sentinels at the different points fire at him as he passes, until he is brought down. Another mode is to hunt by torch-light, without dogs. In this case, slaves carry torches before the party; the light of which so amazes the deer, that he stands gazing in the brushwood. The glare of his eyes is always sufficient to direct the attention of the rifleman, who levels his piece at the space between them, and seldom fails of hitting him fairly in the head.
A boat at length arrived from New Orleans, bound for Nashville in Tennessee, and I secured a passage to Smithland, at the mouth of the Cumberland river, where I had a double opportunity of getting to Louisville, as boats from St. Louis, as well as those from Orleans, stop at that point. The day following my arrival a boat came up, and I proceeded to Louisville. On board, whilst I was amusing myself forward, I was accosted by a deck-passenger, whom I recollected to have seen at Harmony. He told me, amongst other things, that a Mr. O—-, who resided there, had been elected captain, and added that he was “a considerable clever fellow,” and the best captain they ever had. I inquired what peculiar qualification in their new officer led him to that conclusion. Expecting to hear of his superior knowledge in military tactics, I was astounded when he seriously informed me, in answer, that on a late occasion (I believe it was the anniversary of the birth of Washington), after parade, he ordered them into a “groggery,” “not to take a _little_ of something to drink, but by J—s to drink as much as they had a mind to.” It must be observed, that this individual I had seen but once, in the streets of Harmony, and then he was in a state of inebriation. Another anecdote, of a similar character, was related to me by an Englishman relative to his own election to the post of brigadier-general. The candidate opposed to him had served in the late war, and in his address to the electors boasted not a little of the circumstance, and concluded by stating that he was “ready to lead them to a cannon’s mouth when necessary.” This my friend the General thought a poser; but, however, he determined on trying what virtue there was–not in stones, like the “old man” with the “young saucebox,”–but in a much more potent article, whisky; so, after having stated that although he had not served, yet he was as ready to serve against “the hired assassins of England”–this is the term by which the Americans designate our troops–as his opponent, he concluded by saying, “Boys, Mr. —- has told you that he is ready to lead you to a cannon’s mouth–now _I_ don’t wish you any such misfortune as getting the contents of a cannon in your bowels, but if necessary, perhaps, I’d lead you as far as he would; however, men, the short and the long of it is, instead of leading you to the mouth of a cannon, I’ll lead you this instant to the mouth of a barrel of whisky.” This was enough–the electors shouted, roared, laughed, and drank–and elected my friend Brigadier-general. Brigadier-general! what must this man’s relatives in England think, when they hear that he is a Brigadier-general in the American army? Yet he is a very respectable man (an auctioneer), and much superior to many west country Generals. The fact is, a dollar’s-worth of whisky and a little Irish wit would go as far in electioneering as five pounds would go in England; and were it not for the protection afforded by the ballot, the Americans would be fully as corrupt, and would exercise the franchise as little in accordance with the public interest, as the English and Irish who enjoy the freedom of corporate towns. Some aspirants to office in the New England states, about the time of the last presidential election, tried the system of bribing, and obtained promises fully sufficient to insure their returns; but on counting the votes, it was found that more than one half the persons who were paid to vote _for_, must have voted _against_ the person who had bribed them. It is needless to say this experiment was not repeated. The Americans thought it bad enough to take the bribe, but justly concluded that it would be a double crime to adhere to the agreement. The bravo who takes a purse to commit an assassination, and does not do that for which he has been paid; is an angel, when compared to the villain who performs his contract.
The usual time occupied in a voyage from Orleans to Louisville is from ten to twelve days, and boats have performed it in the surprisingly short space of eight days. The spur that commerce has received from the introduction of steam-boats on the western waters, can only be appreciated by comparing the former means of communication with the present. Previous to 1812, the navigation of the Upper Ohio was carried on by means of about 150 small barges, averaging between thirty and forty tons burden, and the time consumed in ascending from the Falls to Pittsburg was a full month. On the Lower Ohio and the Mississippi there were about twenty barges, which averaged 100 tons burden, and more than three months was occupied in ascending from Orleans to Louisville with West India produce, the crew being obliged to poll or _cordelle_ the whole distance. Seldom more than one voyage to Orleans and back was made within the year. In 1817, a steam-boat arrived at Louisville from New Orleans in twenty-five days, and a public dinner and other rejoicings celebrated the event. From that period until 1827, the time consumed in this voyage gradually diminished, and in that year a boat from New Orleans entered the port of Louisville in eight days and two hours. There are at present on the waters of the Ohio and Mississippi, 323 boats, the aggregate burden of which is 56,000 tons, the greater proportion measuring from 250 to 500 tons.
The people of this country cannot properly be compared with the inhabitants of England; their institutions are different, and their habits and manners must necessarily be dissimilar. Indeed, they are as unlike the English as any people can well be, and many of them with whom I conversed, denied flatly the descent. They contend that they are a compound of the best blood of Europe, and that the language of England only prevailed because, _originally_, the majority of settlers were English; but that since the revolution, the whole number of emigrants from the other countries of Europe greatly exceeded the proportion from England and Ireland. Their temperament, organisation, and independent spirit, appear to bear them out in this assertion.
In England we have all the grades and conditions of society that are to be found in America, with the addition of two others, the highest and the lowest classes. There is no extensive class here equivalent to the English or Irish labourer; neither is there any class whose manners are stamped with that high polish and urbanity which characterises the aristocracy of England. The term _gentleman_ is used here in a very different sense from that in which it is applied in Europe–it means simply, well-behaved citizen. All classes of society claim it–from the purveyor of old bones, up to the planter; and I have myself heard a bar-keeper in a tavern and a stage driver, whilst quarrelling, seriously accuse each other of being “no gentleman.” The only class who live on the labour of others, and without their own personal exertions, are the planters in the south. There are certainly many persons who derive very considerable revenues from houses; but they must be very few, if any, who have ample incomes from land, and this only in the immediate vicinity of the largest and oldest cities.
English novels have very extensive circulation here, which certainly is of no service to the country, as it induces the wives and daughters of American gentlemen (alias, shopkeepers) to ape gentility. In Louisville, Cincinnati, and all the other towns of the west, the women have established circles of society. You will frequently be amused by seeing a lady, the wife of a dry-goods store-keeper, look most contemptuously at the mention of another’s name, whose husband pursues precisely the same occupation, but on a less extensive scale, and observe, that “she only belongs to the third circle of society.” This species of embryo aristocracy–or as Socrates would, call it, Plutocracy–is based on wealth alone, and is decidedly the most contemptible of any. There are, notwithstanding, very many well-bred, if not highly polished, women in the country; and on the whole, the manners of the women are much more agreeable than those of the men.
Early in the summer I proceeded to Maysville, in Kentucky, which lies about 220 miles above the Falls. Here having to visit a gentlemen in the interior, I hired a chaise, for which I paid about two shillings British per mile.
A great deal of excitement was just then produced among the inhabitants of Maysville by the president’s having put his veto on the bill, passed by congress, granting loans to the “Maysville and Lexington road,” and the “Louisville canal” companies. The Kentuckians were in high dudgeon, and denounced Jackson as an enemy to internal improvement, and to the western states. It would appear that the friends of Adams and Clay, had determined to place Jackson in a dilemma which would involve his character, either as a friend to internal improvement or an enemy to lavish expenditure. Accordingly, they passed an unusual number of bills, appropriating money to the clearing of creeks, building of bridges, and making of canals and turnpike roads; the amount of which, instead of leaving a surplus of ten millions to the liquidation of the national debt, would not only have totally exhausted the treasury, but have actually exceeded by 20,000,000 dollars the revenue of the current year. This manoeuvre was timely discovered by the administration, and the president consequently refused to put his signature to those bills, amongst a number of others. He refused on two grounds. The first was, that although it had been the practice of congress to grant sums of money for the purpose of making roads and perfecting other works, which only benefited one or two states; yet that such practice was not sanctioned by the constitution–the federal legislature having no power to act but with reference to the general interests of the states. The second was, that the road in question was local in the most limited sense, commencing at the Ohio river, and running back sixty miles to an interior town, and consequently, the grant in question came within neither the constitutional powers nor practice of congress.
The president recommends that the surplus revenue, after the debt shall have been paid off, should be portioned out to the different states, in proportion to their ratio of representation; which appears to be judicious, as the question of congressional power to appropriate money to road-making, &c., although of a general character, involves also the right of jurisdiction; which congress clearly has not, except where the defence of the country, or other paramount interests, are concerned.
The national debt will be totally extinguished in four years, when this country will present a curious spectacle for the serious consideration of European nations. During the space of fifty-six years, two successful wars have been carried on–one for the establishment, and the other for the maintenance of national independence, and a large amount of public works and improvements has been effected; yet, after the expiration of four years from this time, there will not only be no public debt, but the revenue arising from protecting tariff duties alone will amount to more than the expenditure by upwards of 10,000,000 dollars.
A brief abstract from the treasury report on the finances of the United States, up to the 1st January, 1831, may not be uninteresting.
Balance in the treasury, 1st January, 1828 6,668,286 10
Receipts of the year 1828 24,789,463 61 _____________
Total 31,457,749 71 Expenditure for the year 1828 25,485,313 90 _____________
Leaving a balance in the treasury, 1st January, 1829, of 5,972,435 81
Receipts from all sources during the
year 1829 24,827,627 38
Expenditures for the same year, including 3,686,542 dol. 93 ct. on account of
the public debt, and 9,033 dol. 38 ct. for awards under the first article of the treaty of Ghent 25,044,358 40
Balance in the treasury on 1st January, 1830 5,755,704 79
The receipts from all sources during the year 1830 were 24,844,116 51
Customs 21,922,391 39
Lands 2,329,356 14
Dividends on bank stock 490,000 00
Incidental receipts 102,368 98 _____________
The expenditures for the same year were 24,585,281 55
Civil list, foreign intercourse,
and miscellaneous 3,237,416 04
Military service, including
pensions, arming the
militia, and internal
improvements 6,752,688 66
Naval service, including
to the gradual
improvement of the
navy 3,239,428 63
Public debt 11,355,748 22 _____________
Leaving a balance in the treasury
on the 1st of January, 1831, of 6,014,539 75
The payments made on account of the Public Debt, during the first three
quarters of the year 1831, amounted to 9,883,479 46
It was estimated that the payments to be made in the fourth quarter of the
same year, would amount to 6,205,810 21 ______________
Making the whole amount of disbursments on account of the Debt in 1831 16,089,289 67
THE PUBLIC DEBT, ON THE SECOND OF JANUARY, 1832, WILL BE AS FOLLOWS, VIZ.;–
1. _Funded Debt_.
Dollars. Cts. Three per cents, per act
of the 4th of August,
1790, redeemable at the
pleasure of government 13,296,626 21
Five per cents, per act of
the 3rd of March, 1821,
redeemable after the 1st
January, 1823 4,735,296 30
Five per cents, (exchanged),
per act of 20th of
April, 1823; one third
after 31st of December,
1830, 1831 and 1832 56,704 77
Four and half per cents.
per act of the 24th of
May, 1824, redeemable
after 1st of January,
1832 1,739,524 01
Four and half per cents.
(exchanged), per act of
the 26th of May, 1824;
one half redeemable
after the 31st day of
December, 1832 4,454,727 95 ______________
2. _Unfunded Debt_.
Registered Debt, being
claims registered prior
to the year 1793, for
services and supplies
during the revolutionary war 27,919 85
Treasury notes 7,116 00
Mississippi stock 4,320 09 ______________
Making the whole amount of the Public Debt of the United States 24,322,235 18 ______________
Which is, allowing 480 cents to the
sovereign, in sterling money L5,067,132 6_s_. 7_d_.
General Jackson has proposed another source of national revenue, in the establishment of a bank; the profits of which, instead of going into the pockets of stock-holders as at present, should be placed to the credit of the nation. If an establishment of this nature could be formed, without involving higher interests than the mere pecuniary concerns of the country, no doubt it would be most desirable. But how a _government_ bank could be so formed as that it should not throw immense and dangerous influence into the hands of the executive, appears difficult to determine. If it be at all connected with the government, the executive must exercise an extensive authority over its affairs; and in that case, the mercantile portion of the community would lie completely under the surveillance of the president, who might at pleasure exercise this immense patronage to forward private political designs. No doubt there have been abuses to a considerable extent practised by the present bank of the United States in the exercise of its functions; but how those abuses are likely to be remedied by Jackson’s plan, does not appear. For, let the directors be appointed by government, or elected by congress, they must still exercise discretional power; and they are quite as likely to exercise it unwarrantably as those who have a direct interest in the prosperity of the concern. I totally disapprove of the attempt to correct the abuses of one monopoly by the establishment of another in its stead, of a still more dangerous character; and I am inclined to think that if two banks were chartered instead of one, each having ample capital to insure public confidence, competition alone would furnish a sufficient motive to induce them to act with justice and liberality towards the public.
In 1766, Kentucky was first explored, by John Finlay, an Indian trader, Colonel Daniel Boon, and others. They again visited it in 1769, when the whole party, excepting Boon, were slain by the Indians–he escaped, and reached North Carolina, where he then resided. Accompanied by about forty expert hunters, comprised in five families, in the year 1775, he set forward to make a settlement in the country. They erected a fort on the banks of the Kentucky river, and being joined by several other adventurers, they finally succeeded. The Kentuckians tell of many a bloody battle fought by these pioneers, and boast that their country has been gained, every inch, by conquest.
The climate of Kentucky is favourable to the growth of hemp, flax, tobacco, and all kinds of grain. The greater portion of the soil is rich loam, black, or mixed with reddish earth, generally to the depth of five or six feet, on a limestone bottom. The produce of corn is about sixty bushels on an average per acre, and of wheat about thirty-five; cotton is partially cultivated. The scenery is varied, and the country well watered.
The Kentuckians all carry large pocket knives, which they never fail to use in a scuffle; and you may see a gentleman seated at the tavern door, balanced on two legs of a chair, picking his teeth with a knife, the blade of which is full six inches long, or cutting the benches, posts, or any thing else that may lie within his reach. Notwithstanding this, the Kentuckians are by no means more quarrelsome than any other people of the western states; and they are vastly less so than the people of Ireland. But when they do commence hostilities, they fight with great bitterness, as do most Americans, biting, gouging, and cutting unrelentingly.
I never went into a court-house in the west _in summer_, without observing that the judges and lawyers had their feet invariably placed upon the desks before them, and raised much higher than their heads. This, however, is only in the western country; for in the courts at Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia, the greatest order and regularity is observed. I had been told that the judges often slept upon the bench; but I must confess, that although I have entered court-houses at all seasons during the space of fifteen months, I never saw an instance of it. I have frequently remonstrated with the Americans, on the total absence of forms and ceremonies in their courts of justice, and was commonly answered by “Yes, that may be quite necessary in England, in order to overawe a parcel of ignorant creatures, who have no share in making the laws; but with us, a man’s a man, whether he have a silk gown on him or not; and I guess he can decide quite as well without a big wig as with one. You see, we have done with wiggery of all kinds; and if one of our judges were to wear such an appendage, he’d be taken for a merry-andrew, and the court would become a kind of show-box–instead of such arrangements producing with us solemnity, they would produce nothing but laughter, and the greatest possible irregularity.”
I was present at an election in the interior of the state. The office was that of representative in the state legislature, and the candidates were a hatter and a saddler; the former was also a militia major, and a Methodist preacher, of the Percival and Gordon school, who eschewed the devil and all the backsliding abominations of the flesh, as in duty bound. Sundry “stump orations” were delivered on the occasion, for the enlightenment of the electors; and towards the close of the proceedings, by way of an appropriate finale, the aforesaid triune-citizen and another gentleman, had a gouging scrape on the hustings. The major in this contest proved himself to be a true Kentuckian; that is, half a horse, and half an alligator; which contributed not a little to ensure his return. After the election, I was conversing with one of the most violent opponents of the successful candidate, and remarked to him, that I supposed he would rally