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rainations, is not only tolerated, but respected and practised. Atheism is unknown there, infidelity rare and secret, so that persons may live to a great age in that country without having their piety shocked by meeting with either an atheist, or an infidel. And the Divine Being seems to have manifested his approbation of the mutual forbearance and kindness with which the different sects treat each other, by the remarkable prosperity with which he has been pleased to favor the whole country.
THE INTERNAL STATE OF AMERICA, 1784; [Complaint of hard times—and motives for being thankful.] There is a tradition, that, in the planting of New England, the first settlers met with many difficulties and hardships; as is generally the case when a civilised people attempt establishing themselves in a wilderness country. Being piously disposed, they sought relief from heaven, by laying their wants and distresses before the Lord, in frequent set days of fasting and prayer. Constant meditation and discourse on these subjects kept their minds gloomy and discontented; and, like the children of Israel, there were many disposed to return to that Egypt, which persecution had induced them to abandon. At length, when it was proposed in the assembly to proclaim another fast, a fanner of plain sense rose, and remarked, that the inconveniencies'they suffered, and concerning which they had so often wearied heaven with their complaints, were not so great as they might have expected, and were diminishing every day as the colony strengthened; that the earth began to reward their labor, and to furnish liberally for their subsistence; that the seas and rivers were found full offish, the air sweet, the climate healthy; and, above all, that they were there in the full enjoyment of liberty, civil and-religious; he therefore thought, that reflecting and conversing on these subjects would be more comfortable, as tending more to make them contented with their situation; and that it would be more becoming the gratitude they owed to the Divine Being, if, instead of a fast, they should proclaim a thanksgiving. His advice was taken; and from that day to this they have, in every year, observed circumstances of public felicity sufficient to furnish employment for a thanksgiving day; which is therefore constantly ordered and religiously observed. I see in the public newspapers of different states frequent complaints of hard times, deadness of trade, scarcity of money, 8$c. It is not my intention to assert or maintain, that these complaints are entirely without foundation. There can be no country or nation existing, in which there will not be some people so circumstanced as to find it hard to gain a livelihood; people who are not in the way of any profitable trade, and with whom money is
scarce, because they have nothing to give in exchange for it; and it is always in the power of a small number to make a great clamor. But let us take a cool view of the general state of our affairs, and perhaps the prospect will appear less gloomy than has been imagined.
The great business of the continent is Aoricul
toTure. For one artisan, or merchant, I suppose, we have at least one hundred farmers, by far the greatest part cultivators of their own fertile lands, whence many of them draw not only the food necessary for their subsistence, but the materials of their clothing, so as to need very few foreign supplies; while they have a surplus of productions to dispose of, whereby wealth is gradually accumulated. Such has been the goodness of Divine Providence to these regions, and so favorable the climate, that since the three or four years of hardship in the first settlement of our fathers here, a famine or scarcity has never been heard of amongst us; on the contrary, though some years may have been more, and others less plentiful, there has always been provision enough for ourselves, and a quantity to spare for exportation. And although the crops of last year were generally good, never was the farmer better paid for the part he can spare commerce, as the published price currents abundantly testify. The lands he possesses are also continually rising in value with the increase of population; and, on the whole, he is enabled to give such good wages to those who work for him, that all who are acquainted with the old world must agree, that in no part of it are the laboring poor so generally well fed, well clothed, well lodged, and well paid, as in the United States of America.
If we enter the cities, we find that, since the revolution, the owners of houses and lots of ground have had their interest greatly augmented in value; rents have risen to an astonishing height, and thence encouragement to increase building, which gives employment to an abundance of workmen, as does also the increased luxury and splendor of living of the inhabitants, thus made richer. These workmen all demand and obtain much higher wages than any other part of the world would afford them, and are paid in ready money. This class of people therefore do not, or ought not, to complain of hard times; and they make a very considerable part of the city inhabitants.
At the distance I live from our American fisheries, I cannot speak of them with any degree of certainty; but I have not heard, that the labor of the valuable race of men employed in them is worse paid, or that they meet with less success, than before the revolution. The whale-men, indeed, have been deprived of one market for their oil; but another, I hear, is opening for them, which it is hoped may be equally advantageous; and the demand is constantly increasing for their sperma
ceti candles, which therefore bear a higher price than formerly.
There remain the merchants and shopkeepers. Of these, though they make but a small part of the whole nation, the number is considerable: too great indeed for the business they are employed in; for the consumption of goods in every country has its limits; the faculties of the people, that is, their ability to buy and pay, being equal only to a certain quantity of merchandise. If merchants calculate amiss on this proportion, and import too much, they will of course find the sale dull for the overplus, and some of them will say, that trade languishes. They should, and doubtless will, grow wiser by experience, and import less. If too many artificers in town, and farmers from the country, flattering themselves with the idea of leading easier lives, turn shopkeepers, the whole natural quantity of that business divided among them all may afford too small a share for each, and occasion complaints, that trade is dead; these may also suppose, that it is owing to scarcity of money, while in fact, it is not so much from the fewness of the buyers, as from the excessive numbers of sellers, that the mischief arises; and, if every shopkeeping farmer and mechanic would return to the use of his plough and working tools, there would remain of widows, and other women, shopkeepers sufficient for the business, which might then afford them a comfortable maintenance.