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to Washington, and to be called Jackson, after the late President of the United States. The history of this little spot is worth giving, because it is a specimen of similar acts of folly committed in many other parts of the United States within the last ten years, and within the last five especially, originating partly in the vanity and partly in the cupidity of the people, and resulting in their bankruptcy and ruin. An idea was conceived by some real admirer or sycophantic flatterer of General Jackson (it is not certain which, for there were many of both), that it would be well to set up a rival city on the south of the Potomac, to eclipse Washington on the north, and to call it by the name of the rival chief. This idea was at once acted on by the immediate survey of the spot where the bridge touches the shore, and, being a perfect level, a city was soon mapped and planned on paper, with squares, avenues, markets, an exchange, churches, and all the usual accompaniments of a large emporium; General Jackson was applied to for his patronage to the undertaking, which was readily granted; and, thus provided, the individual who got up the whole sent on to New-York, where the rage for speculating in lands and city lots was at its highest, and forthwith a number of those gentlemen came here to purchase.
When they had bought their lots at high prices, they repaired back to New-York to sell them to other speculators at still higher; and General Jackson having, at the request of the founder, attended the ceremony of laying the foundation of the Exchange of Jackson City, before a single dwelling of any kind was erected, and delivered a long oration on the occasion, the lots rose in value, because the city had been actually begun; and buyer after buyer continued to give a higher and a higher price. At length, however, the sums per foot given for this waste-land were so extravagant that no farther advances could be had upon it, and the last buyer consequently found himself stuck fast, and could only get out of his difficulty at an immense sacrifice. After this a retrograde movement took place, when prices went down even more rapidly than they had risen; and the lots are now worth absolutely nothing, since no one would be at the expense of clearing them. In fact, the whole space is covered with a marsh, over which it has been difficult to construct an ordinary road; and the auctioneer who sold the last lots that were brought to the hammer very accurately characterized its fertility by describing it as being "so rich that it produced sixty bushels of frogs to the acre;" to
which he facetiously added that "there was no need of incurring expense for fencing, as there were alligators enough on the spot to form an excellent fence, if you could catch them, by planting them with their heads downward and their tails in the air." The croaking of these frogs was loud and discordant, as we went over the road that crosses this marsh early in the afternoon; and when we returned, after sunset in the evening, it was absolutely deafening.
The remainder of the way to Alexandria was over a tolerably level road, with well-filled cedar plantations on either side, the greenness of which was an agreeable relief to the brownness of everything else. These public roads are kept in repair by a general assessment on the landed property of the district; but this, though considered a good road for America, would be called a very bad one in any part of England, from being so full of ruts and pits, and its surface so uneven. There was only one turnpike in the way, at which half a dollar was paid for the carriage; but this, we learned, was over the private property of an individual, to whom alone the receipts went, and no part of it was expended in the repair of the road.
A great portion of the land in the District of Columbia is so poor as to be not worth paying the taxes on; and it is therefore often sold for the unpaid dues upon it, though these are very trifling indeed. In the National Intelligencer of March 27 are no less than three columns of specified estates and plots of ground advertised for sale by the commissioners of taxes in Columbia and Maryland for nonpayment of these dues, though their amount seems insignificant compared with the size of the estates on which they are due. For instance, on an estate in St. Mary's county, called "Scotland," consisting of 2273 acres, the sum due was only six dollars and 43 cents; and on an estate in Alleghany county, called "Western Connexion," consisting of 8808 acres, the sum due was 19 dollars and 70 cents; and this last belonged to the United States' Bank. On looking over the names of these tracts and appropriations of lands adver tised for sale, it was impossible not to be struck with the singularity of them, of which the following are only a few examples:
"Hard Struggle," 1554 acres; "Isaac's Blessing," 48 acres; "Rights of Man," 189 acres; "Paradise Regained," 1500 acres; 66 Now or Never," 600 acres; Myself," 61 acres ; "Commonwealth," 3817 acres ; 66 Canaan," 3648 "Hornet's Nest," 208 acres; "Honest Miller," 50
acres; "Hard Bargain, resurveyed," 329 acres; "Last Shift," 100 acres ; "Hope," 6638 acres; "What you
Please," 73 acres; and "Blue-eyed Mary," 987 acres.
When all these tracts become settled and occupied, as in time they are sure to be, their names will mingle oddly with those of Nineveh, Babylon, and Troy; of Memphis and Thebes; of Athens, Corinth, Sparta, and Utica; of Rome and Syracuse; of Jerusalem, Joppa, and Lebanon; and the many other classical and scriptural cities whose names are adopted by humble villages in America.
Alexandria itself is a small, but well-planned and neatlybuilt town, occupying a favourable position on a projecting point of land on the southern bank of the Potomac, at a distance of about six miles below Washington. It was originally a village, first inhabited by a native of Scotland, and called by him Belhaven. Its name was subsequently changed to Alexandria, which it still retains. At one period of its history it enjoyed a considerable commerce, as a point of shipment for tobacco, the chief product of Virginia, in which state it was situated previous to its being included in the cession of the district ten miles square to form the present Columbia, as well as a point of import for goods for internal consumption in the country behind it, to which it is an inlet. The beginning of its decay may be traced to the attack made upon it by the marauding squadron of the British, under Sir John Cockburn, in their expedition up to Washington. Not content with burning some parts of the town and sacking others, they wantonly destroyed a large quantity of goods of various kinds then in Alexandria, belonging to the exporters and importers in the interior, and without benefiting themselves by such destruction in any way. The owners of the goods so destroyed demanded payment of their value by the Alexandrians, as they were uninsured, and held at the risk of the persons in whose custody they were. Their demands could not be complied with for want of means, as the Alexandrians themselves had been impoverished by the general plunder of the British. The owners therefore refused to export or import any more through Alexandria till their old accounts were settled; and this being impossible, the trade of the place was crippled at a blow. Soon after this, the finishing stroke was put to its decline by the construction of the railroad from the interior of Maryland and Virginia to Baltimore, by which imports and exports could be more advantageously made through that VOL. I.- II
port; so that, unless some new causes arise to produce new sources of prosperity, Alexandria seems doomed to decay.
The plan of the town is extremely regular, and its whole aspect pleasing; but, amid all its beauty of situation and regularity of design, it wears an aspect of melancholy and gloom. Grass is growing in most of the streets, and even the great thoroughfares seem altogether deserted. number of houses to let are as great as those occupied, and its population of ten thousand has dwindled down to less than half that amount. Closed windows and shutters, and broken panes of glass, give an aspect of dilapidation quite unlike the generally thriving appearance of towns in America; and there was one sight which reminded me of the Liberties of Dublin. A large and handsome mansion, built as a family residence by an English gentleman named Carlisle, is now occupied by a number of poor families, two or three living on each of the separate floors; and the whole building, exterior and interior, is going gradually to ruin for the want of occasional repairs.
Among the public buildings in Alexandria there is a courthouse, a large theatre, and a theological college, besides six good churches. There is also a museum, which is enriched by some highly-prized relics belonging to that universal object of homage and veneration in every part of America, General Washington. Among these are the satin robe, scarlet lined with white, in which the infant George Washington was baptized; a penknife, which was given to him by his mother when he was only twelve years of age, and which he kept for fifty-six years of his life, amid all its vicissitudes and dangers; a pearl button, taken from the coat which he wore when first inaugurated as President of the United States at New-York; a masonic apron and gloves, worn by him at a lodge-meeting; a black glove, part of the suit of mourning which he wore at the death of his mother; a fragment of the last stick of sealing-wax that he ever used to seal his letters; and the original of the last letter ever penned by his hand, written to decline, on his own behalf and that of his wife, a joint invitation which they had received to attend a ball at Alexandria, in which, while politely apologizing for this refusal, he says, "Alas! our dancing days are over."
In the museum of the Capitol at Washington we had previously seen a military suit of the general's, which he had worn in the revolutionary campaign; and all these are looked upon by every American, of whatever age, sex, or
⚫ condition, with a personal regard and veneration such as no relics of any other national hero excites, I think, in any other quarter of the world. People not only admire, but they seem to love the name of Washington, and hold sacred everything that ever belonged to him; consequently, there is scarely a single dwelling in all America, however splendid or however humble, and few public buildings of any kind, except perhaps places of religious worship, in which a portrait of Washington is not to be found. All parties claim him for their own; and the expression of any doubt as to the wisdom, courage, virtue, or excellence of Washington, would be a treason that few would be disposed to forgive.
Mount Vernon, the country-seat of the Washington family, and the spot that contains the ashes of the general himself, is not more than ten miles from Alexandria; but, though we had several times planned an excursion to visit it from Washington, one obstacle after another intervened to prevent it. Sometimes it was some great speech in the Senate or House of Representatives, the expectation of which kept us in either house, and prevented our leaving the Capitol; and sometimes it was the detention there, not by the expectation, but the reality, of the speeches delivered. Sometimes it was a party in Washington that prevented our leaving the city. And when these or other causes did not prevent, the terrible state of the weather, and the impassable condition of the roads beyond Alexandria, from the snow or rain, as effectually defeated our in
We regretted this, because, though there is nothing of unusual grandeur or beauty in the house or grounds, both of which have been neglected by the present occupiers, who are distant relatives of the illustrious chief, yet it would have given us great pleasure to have looked upon the tomb that contains his earthly remains, and thus have paid to his memory that homage which all admirers of freedom and justice must delight to show to the last resting-place of one who was so distinguished a friend of both.
Not long since, in December last, the body of the general was taken from the coffin in which it was originally deposited at Mount Vernon, and placed in a marble sarcophagus; and this event is thus described in the Philadelphia Gazette of that day.
"GENERAL WASHINGTON.-The remains of this illustrious man, the Father and Saviour of his country, were recently placed in the sarcophagus made by Mr. Struthers of this city, from whom we learn that,