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longer. Reader, if thou wilt do the same, thy profit will be as great as mine. I am, as ever, thine to serve thee.
BEING A TRUE DESCRIPTION OF THE INTEREST AND POLI
CY OF THAT VAST CONTINENT.
THERE is a tradition, that, in the planting of New Enlgand, the first settlers met with many difficulties and hardships : as is generally the case when a civilized 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 farmer of plain sense rose and remarked, that the inconveniences they suffered, and concerning which they had go 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 labour, and to furnish liberally for their subsistence ; that the seas and rivers were found full of fish, 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 there fore constantly ordered and religiously observed.
I see in the public newspapers of different States frequent complaints of hard times, deadness of trade, sohrcity of money, &c. &c. It is not my intention to assert or maintain that these complaints are entirely without foundation There can be no country or na
earers of thew not wterials
: wbilenereby we
tion 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, 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 clamour. But left 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 agriculture. For one artisan, or merebant, I suppose, we have at least one hundred farmers, by far the greatest part cultivators of their own fertile lands, from whence many of them draw not only 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 favourable 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 boen 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 labouring poor 60 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 ard lots of ground have had their interest vastly 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 splendour of living of the inhabitants thus inade richer. These workmen all demand and obtain much higher wages than any other part of the world could afford them, and are paid in ready money. This rank 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 of the labour of the valuable race of men employed in them is worse paid, or that they meet with less success, than before the Revolution The whalemen 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 spermaceti candles, which therefore bear a much 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, are equal to a certain quantity of merchandize. 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 trading is dead ; these may also suppose that it is owing to a scarcity of money, while, in fact, it is not so much from the fewness of 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.
Whoever has travelled through the various parts of Europe, and observed how small is the proportion of people in affluence or easy circumstances there, compared with those in poverty and misery ; the few rich and haughty landlords, the multitude of poor, abject, rack-rented, tithe-paying tenants, and half-paid and half-starved, ragged labourers; and views here the happy mediocrity that so generally prevails throughout these States, where the cultivator works for himself, and supports his family in decent plenty, will, methinks, see abundant reason to bless Divine Providence for the evident and great difference in our favour, and be convinced that no nation known to us enjoys & greater share of human felicity.
It is true, that in some of the States there are parties and discords ; but let us look back, and ask if we were ever without them ? Such will exist wherever there is liberty; and perhaps they help to preserve it. By the collision of different sentiments, sparks of truth are struck out, and political light is obtained. The different factions which at present divide us, aim all at the public good; the differences are only about the various modes of promoting it. Things, actions, measures, and objects of all kinds, present themselves to the minds of men in such a variety of lights, that it is not possible we should all think alike at the same time on every subject, when hardly the same man retains at all times the same ideas of it. Parties are therefore the common lot of humanity; and ours are by no means more mischievous or less beneficial than those of other countries, nations, and ages, enjoying in the same degree the great blessing of political liberty.
Some indeed among us are not so much grieved for the present state of our affairs, as apprehensive for the future. The growth of luxury alarms them, and they think we are from that alone in the high road to ruin. They observe, that no revenue is sufficient without economy, and that the most plentiful income of a whole people from the natural productions of their country, may be dissipated in vain and needless expenses ; and poverty be introduced in the place of affluence.-This may be possible. It however rarely happens ; for there seems to be in every nation a greater proportion of industry and frugality, which tend to enrich, than of idleness and prodigality, which occasions poverty ; so that upon the whole there is a continual accumulation. Reflect that Spain, Gaul, Germany, and Britain were in the time of the Romans, inhabited by people little richer than our savages, and consider the wealth that they at present possess, in numerous well built cities, improved farms, rich moveables, magazines stocked with valuable manufactories, to say nothing of plate, jewels, and coined money; and all this, notwithstanding their bad, wasteful, plundering governments, and their mad destructive wars; and yet luxury and extrayagant living has never suffered much restraint in those countries. Then consider the great proportion of industrious frugal farmers inhabiting the interior parts of these American States, and of whom the body of our nation consists, and judge whether it is possible that the luxury of our seaports can be sufficient to ruin such a country. If the importation of foreign luxuries could ruin a people, we should probably have been ruined long ago; for the British nation claimed a right, and
seentry and frugdigality, whia continual a Britain were
practised it, of importing among us not only the superfluities of their own production, but those of every nation under heaven; we bought and consumed them, and yet we flourished and grew rich. At present our independent governments may do what we could not then do, discourage by heavy duties, or prevent by heavy prohibitions, such importations, and thereby grow richer ;-if, indeed, which may admit of dispute, the desire of adorning ourselves with fine clothes, possessing fine furniture, with elegant houses, &c. is not, by strongly inciting to labour and industry ; the occasion of producing a greater value than is consumed in the gratificatiou of that desire.
The agriculture and fisheries of the United States are the great sources of our increasing wealth. He that puts a seed into the earth is recompensed, perhaps, by receiving forty out of it, and he who draws a fish out of our water, draws up a piece of silver.
Let us (and there is no doubt but we shall be attentive to these, and then the power of rivals, with all their restraining and prohibiting acts, cannot much hurt us. We are sons of the earth and seas, and, like Antæus in the fable, if in wrestling with a Hercules, we now and then receive a fall, the touch of our parents will communicate to us fresh strength and vigour to renew the contest.
INFORMATION TO THOSE WHO WOULD REMOVE TO
MANY persons in Europe having directly, or by letters, expressed to the writer of this, who is well acquainted with North America, their desire of transporting and establishing themselves in that country, but who appear to have formed, through ignorance, mistaken ideas and expectations of what is to be obtained there ; he thinks it may be useful, and prevent inconvenient, expensive, and fruitless removals and voyages of improper persons, if he gives some clearer and truer notions of that part of the world than appear to have hitherto prevailed.
He finds it is imagined by numbers, that the inhabitants of North America are rich, capable of rewarding, and disposed to reward, all sorts of ingenuity; that they are at the same time ignorant of all the sciences, and consequently that strangers, possessing talents in the belles-letters, tine arts, &c. must be highly esteemed, and so well paid as to become easily rich
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