Mississippi valley, and refine all the sugar consumed
by thirty million people. The vessels taking corn,
cotton, and grain and provisions to Europe could
return via Trinidad and the Caribbean Sea, picking
up cargoes of raw sugar on their way around the
Gulf, and thus freight would be saved on both out-
ward and inward cargoes. These countries, together
with South America, have a commerce the total
annual value of which exceeds eight hundred million
But it is imperative to improve the channel of the
river before this commerce can be invited in. The
general plan of the improvements which are now in
process was succinctly sketched in a letter from Col.
J. H. Simpson, United States engineer, to Hon. E.
0. Stanard, of the Union Merchants' Exchange, St.
Louis, on Oct. 29, 1873.
But a much more comprehensive plan is under
consideration, involving the expenditure, probably, of
more than a hundred millions before the improvements
SAINT LOUIS AS A CENTRE OF TRADE.
are completed for the whole river upon a scale com-
mensurate with the commerce involved.
' Xo adequate estimate can be formed of the value of the com-
merce on the Mississippi River, nor of the value of the total
commerce of the towns situated upon it. An idea of the magni-
tude of this commerce may, however, be formed when it is con-
sidered that the value of the commerce of the cities and towns
on the Ohio Iliver amounted to the enormous sum of one billion
six 'hundred and twenty-three million dollars in 1873. The
national government has provided no means of arriving at a
knowledge of such important facts as this in regard to the in-
ternal commerce of the country. The collection of the necessary
data from private sources, and from data prepared by boards of
trade, State and city governments, would alone require the
constant labor of one person for a year.
"Not only has the commerce of the Mississippi River been
crippled by the existence of the bar at its mouth, but the value
of the river above is greatly depreciated by obstructions which
may be overcome very readily by engineering skill, and at an
expense quite insignificant in comparison either with the present
value of its commerce, or with the increase of trade which may
be expected as the natural result of such improvements.
Hitherto the improvement of the Mississippi has been carried
on merely by sporadic efforts. Appropriations have from time
to time been made and money expended, without any general
plan as to the ultimate results which were to be attained. The
committee recommend that the necessary surveys and estimates
be made at the earliest practicable moment, in order to mature
a plan for the radical improvement of the river, and of all its
" Such a plan should comprehend the establishment of a given
depth of water on the Mississippi River in some such manner as
the following :
" 1st. Improvements designed to secure a depth of from eight
to ten feet from St. Louis to New Orleans at the lowest stages
of the river.
" 2d. Improvements designed to secure a depth of five feet at
the lowest stages between St. Louis and St. Paul.
" 3d. Improvements designed to secure a depth of four and
one-half feet in the river above St. Anthony's Falls.
" Having adopted a plan of this kind for the radical improve-
ment of the river, all works should be carried out with this
general object in view.
" It is much more practicable to establish such a plan now than
it was a few years ago, for the reasons that the successes and
failures of past efforts have enabled engineers to discover the
nature of the difficulties which will be met, and to adopt the
best methods of improvement. Diverse opinions still exist
among some of our ablest engineers as to the best means to be
adopted in specific cases, but it is believed that sufficient practical
knowledge has already been gained to determine a general plan
of future operations, both in regard to the Mississippi River and
its principal navigable tributaries. The time has arrived for
orough measures, and the necessary plans and estimates upon
ich such measures must be based should be prepared at once.
' It is impossible to overestimate the commercial results likely
to follow such improvements. With the well-established facts
before us in regard to the much greater cheapness of transport
by navigable rivers than by railways, it cannot be doubted that
Etich improvements would increase the commerce of the Mis-
sissippi very greatly, and at the same time afford relief to a
large area in the Western States now fettered in its growth and
prosperity by the cost of transporting agricultural products to
both home and foreign markets." l
Such is the noble perspective of the aspirations of
St. Louis for the commerce of the future : the centre
of a valley of magnificent, continental proportions,
gathering up the products of hundreds of millions of
intelligent people, cultivating the soil of the most fer-
tile of regions, supplying the world with their pro-
ducts, and supplying the producers in return with all
the merchandise which enters into their consumption.
These hundreds of millions of people will be brain-
workers and machine-workers, and the volume of their
products will be stimulated and augmented in propor-
tion to the grand culmination of their intelligence,
until human force will find itself the conductor of a
grand and perfected mechanism of subsidiary forces
such as the world never before saw at play.
Confidence of the Citizens of St. Louis in the
Natural Advantages and Future Destiny of their
City. We may now proceed to consider how and how
greatly the several constituents of a great and permanent
volume of trade, production, conversion, and exchange
have each in their turn, by the force of natural and
acquired advantages, contributed to make St. Louis a
trade centre. It is first to be noted, however, that
from the very beginning the people of St. Louis have
been conscious of its transcendent natural advantages
and confident of its destinies as the trade centre of the
America of the future. This has been the case from
the time of Henry M. Brackenridge's first remark-
able horoscope of the infant town's destiny down to
the day of the abortive " convention" to make St.
Louis the capital of the United States. 2
1 Such was the view of theWiudom Committee in 1873.
2 The enterprise was premature, and therefore not so wise as
it might have been, but it has been laughed at probably more
than it deserved. At present it may be said to sleep, for no one
can pronounce it dead while the power, population, and wealth
of the United States continue to gravitate so strongly towards
the heart and centre of the valley of the Mississippi. The
centre of population, which is now in Kentucky, just west of
Cincinnati, is moving upon a parallel of latitude that will take
it to St. Louis before A.D. 1900, and at that date more than
two-thirds of the members of the House of Representatives will
be elected from districts west of the meridian of Pittsburgh,
which was a far western frontier town at the day when the site
of the Federal city was chosen upon the Potomac. As a matter
of record, some of the proceedings of the " Capital Convention"
are worth preserving. It assembled in the hall of the Mercantile
Library on the afternoon of Oct. 20, 1869, and was called to order
by L. R. Shryock, who was followed in prayer by Rev. R.
G. Bransk, of the Central Presbyterian Church. The States
and Territories which were represented were Alabama, Illinois,
Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana, Colorado, Alaska,
Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Ten-
nessee, Utah, :ind .Missouri, 17. The delegate's from the last-
named State wero Governor J. W . McClurg, John Hogan,
E. 0. Stanard, Enos Clark, B. Poepping, G. A. Mozier, George
Thelenius, T. T. Tracy, M. L. DeMotte, James H. Birch, A. J.
HarJan, H. J. Drumond, F. Muench, G. R. Smith, W. Galland.
HISTORY OF SAINT LOUIS.
We could produce, if it were necessary and we had
the space, a long chain of testimony from the earliest
period down to the present day to show how confident
the thinking people of St. Louis have always been in
John D. Caton, of Illinois, was made president, with a vice-
president for each State and Territory, and a staff of secretaries.
Mr. Medill, of Illinois, read the following as the report of the
committee on resolutions :
"WHEREAS, The present site of the national capital was se-
lected as the most central point when the people of this repub-
lic, only a few millions in number, inhabited only a narrow
strip of country along the Atlantic coast; and,
" WHEREAS, The population of this republic has increased
thirteen-fold since then, and spread over a vast continent of
which the States in existence when the seat of government was
located formed only the eastern edge; and,
" WHEREAS, The present location of the national capital is
notoriously inconvenient in times of peace, and, as the darkest
pages of our national history demonstrate, in times of war or
domestic turbulence is so dangerously exposed as to require
vast armaments and untold millions of money for its especial
" WHEREAS, All the reasons which caused the location of the
seat of government where it now is have by the enormous de-
velopment of the country and a corresponding change in the
wants of the people become utterly obsolete; therefore,
" Resolved, 1. That it is absurd to suppose that the handful
of inhabitants in 1789, just emerging from colonial vassalage,
before steamboats, railways, telegraphs, or power-presses were
dreamed of, or a mile of turnpike or canal constructed, pos-
sessed the authority or desired to exercise the power of fix-
ing the site of the capital forever on the banks of the Potomac,
against the will and the interest of the hundreds of millions who
might come after them.
" 2. That the people have endured the present illy-located
capital for three-quarters of a century, patiently waiting for
the vast territory of the Union to be peopled and organized
into States, and until the centre of population, area, and
wealth could be determined, when a permanent place of resi-
dence for the government could be selected. That time has
now come; all sectional issues are settled, all dangerous domes-
tic variances are disposed of, a new era has been entered upon,
and a new departure taken.
" 3. That in the language of James Madison, in the Congress
of 1789, ' an equal attention to the rights of the community is
the basis of republics. If we consider the effects of legisla-
tive power on the aggregnte community, we must feel equal in-
ducements to look to the centre in order to find the proper seat
of government.' This equal attention has not and cannot be
given to the interests and rights of the people so long as the
capital is located in an obscure corner of the Union.
" 4. That the vast and fertile region known as the Mississippi
valley must for all time be the seat of empire for this continent
and exert the controlling influence in the nation, because it is
homogeneous in its interests and too powerful ever to permit
the outlying States to sever their connection with the Union.
This vast plain will always be the surplus food- and fibre-pro-
ducing portion of the continent, and the great market for the
fine fabrics and tropical productions of other sections of the
republic. . . .' This immense basin must have numerous out-
lets and channels of cheap and swift communication by water
and rail with the seaboard for the egress of its products and
ingress of its exchanges. Therefore whatever policy the gov-
ernment may pursue that tends to multiply, improve, or enlarge
the city's future and its destinies. This has made
them calm even to the appearance of apathy, equally
in times of high tide and times of low, when pros-
perity was at its flush and when evil fortune and dis-
aster were being drained down to the very dregs.
They have never been in a fever uor in a collapse,
because they have always felt secure. A few ex-
these arteries of commerce must result in common advantage
to the whole Union, to the seaboard States equally with those
of the centre.
"5. That the natural, convenient, and inevitable place for
the capital of the republic is in the heart of the valley, where
the centre of population, wealth, and power is irresistibly grav-
itating, where the government, surrounded by numerous mil-
lions of brave and Union-loving citizens, would be forever safe
against foreign foes or sectional seditions, and where it would
neither require armaments nor standing armies for its protection.
"6. That while advocating the removal of the seat of gov-
ernment to the Mississippi valley, we do not mean to serve the
interests of any particular locality, but that we urge Congress
to appoint a commission for the purpose of selecting a conve-
nient site for the national capital in the great valley of the
Mississippi, pledging ourselves to be satisfied with and to abide
by the decision to be arrived at by the National Legislature.
"7. That in urging the removal of the national capital from
its present inconvenient, out-of-the-way, and exposed location
in the far East we are in earnest, and that we shall not cease
in our efforts until that end is accomplished, firmly believing
that the absolute necessity of the removal will become more
apparent every day, and the majority of the American people
will not long permit their interests and conveniences to be dis-
'' 8. That the removal of the national capital being only a
question of time, we emphatically oppose and condemn all ex-
penditures of m'oney for enlargement of old government build-
ings and the erection of new ones at the present seat of the
national government as a useless and wanton waste of the prop-
erty of the people."
Mr. Clark, of Kansas, offered the following resolution :
" Resolved, That this convention do recommend and request
all congressional nominating conventions in the various States,
without distinction of party, to incorporate in their platform a
demand for the removal of the national capital to a more cen-
tral and convenient locality."
Mr. Jones, of Illinois, moved to strike out "without distinc-
tion of party." Adopted.
On the suggestion of Mr. Hogan, of Missouri, the following
was added to the resolution :
"And that the State Legislatures instruct their senators in
Congress to advocate and vote for such a proposition."
Mr. Carr, of Illinois, offered the following resolution :
" Resolved, That a standing committee of one from each State
here represented be appointed by this convention, to which the
president of this convention shall be added, to act as a ' per-
manent committee upon the subject of capital removal,' with
power to act on behalf of this convention, and to publish an
address to the people of this country, with power to call an-
other convention at such time in the future as they may deem
expedient and proper."
An executive committee was appointed, of which the chair-
man of the convention was made president and L. U. Reavis
secretary, and after a harmonious interchange of views and a
good many speeches the convention adjourned.
SAINT LOUIS AS A CENTRE OF TRADE.
amples, taken hap-hazard, will suffice to illustrate
this equanimity and this unvarying confidence in their
From the Missouri Gazette, June 20, 1811 :
"We are happy to find that a spirit of enterprise and indus-
try is every day manifesting itself among the people of this Ter-
ritory. They begin to be convinced that the peltry and fur
trade is diminishing in value, and that it is necessary to give
up in part the old staple, and turn their attention to the more
important one of lead. During the last two weeks several
boats have left this place in order to enlarge the mineral estab-
lishments made many years ngo by Julien Dubuque at a place
called the ' Spanish Mines,' on the Mississippi.
" The present adventurers have become the purchasers of a
part of these mines under an order of the General Court of this
Territory, and have taken with them near one hundred hands,
provided with all the implements necessary for mining and car-
rying on the lead business."
The same, March 1, 1809 :
"The culture of hemp has occupied the attention of our
farmers, and a rope-walk will shortly be erected in this town.
Thus we have commenced the manufacturing of such articles as
will attract thousands of dollars to our Territory ; thus we will
progress in freeing John Bull or Jack Ass of the trouble of
manufacturing for us."
The same, July 17, 1813:
"In despite of the savages, Indians and British, this country
is progressing in improvements. A red and white lead manufac-
tory has been established in this place by a citizen of Philadel-
phia by the name of Hartshog. This enterprising citizen has
caused extensive works to be erected, to which he has added a
handsome brick house in our principal street for retailing
merchandise. We understand that his agents here have already
sent several thousand dollars' worth of manufactured lead to
the Atlantic States."
In 1816 a bank was found to be necessary. The
citizens at once subscribed the stock and started one.
It fell soon into financial straits. The citizens re-
newed its capital, doubled it, and started another bank
with three times as much capital. The confidence
with which J. B. C. Lucas and Auguste Chouteau
kept themselves poor, almost penniless, by investing
all their money in lands and never selling was
matched by the composure of Manuel Lisa in risking
all the profits of his fur-trade adventure in a water-
front merchant's mill, an experiment as yet untried.
We have elsewhere quoted from Paxton's first St.
Louis directory, 1821. In concluding his summary
of beings and havings Paxton said, " St. Louis has
grown very rapidly. There is not, however, so much
improvement going on at this time, owing to the
check caused by the general and universal pressure
that pervades the country. This state of things can
only be temporary here, for it possesses such perma-
nent advantages from its local and geographical situa-
tion that it must ere some distant day become a place
of great importance, being more central with regard
to the whole territory of the United States than any
other considerable town, and uniting the advantage
of the three great rivers, Mississippi, Missouri, and
Illinois, of the trade of which it is the emporium."
In 1831 the press said the same thing. The city
was growing rapidly. Fine, substantial houses were
being built. The arts and useful manufactures were
multiplying and improving ; " mills, breweries, me-
chanical establishments, all seem to be advancing
successfully for the good of the country, and, we hope,
for the great profit of our enterprising and industrious
fellow-citizens. The trade and navigation of this
port are becoming immense. Steamboats are daily
arriving and departing from east, west, north, and
south, and as this place has decided advantages over
all the ports on the Ohio River for laying up and
repairing, we have no doubt that in a few years the
building and repairing of steam-engines and boats
will become one of the most important branches of
St. Louis business. We have all the materials, wood
and metal, in abundance and of the best quality.
Already we have a foundry, which, it is hoped, will
soon rival the best in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, and
many skilled and enterprising mechanics. A bright
prospect is before us, and we look confidently to the
day, and that a not distant one, when no town on the
western waters will rank above St. Louis for industry,
wealth, and enterprise." In 1835 again : " The
prosperity of our city is laid broad and deep. Much
as we repudiate the lavish praises which teem from
the press, and little as we have heretofore said, we
cannot suffer the occasion to pass without a few re-
marks on the changes which are going on around
us. ... A tract of land was purchased by a gentle-
man now living, as we have understood, for two bar-
rels of whiskey, which is now worth half a million of
dollars. ... No one who consults the map can fail
to perceive the foresight which induced the selection
of the site on which the city is founded. She al-
ready commands the trade of a larger section of terri-
tory, with a few exceptions, than any other city in
the Union. With a steamboat navigation more than
equal to the whole Atlantic seaboard, with internal
improvements projected and in progress, with thou-
sands of immigrants spreading their habitations over
the fertile plains which everywhere meet the eye, who
can deny that we are fast verging to the time when
it will be admitted that this city is the ( Lion of the
West. 1 "
In 1839, Rev. Dr. Humphrey wrote some " Letters
by the Way," in one of which we find St. Louis de-
scribed and its future once more prognosticated.
Says the learned divine,
HISTORY OF SALNT LOUIS.
"St. Louis is larger than I had supposed, and appears to be
advancing more rapidly than any other town that I have seen
in the West. The city proper now contains about fifteen thou-
sand inhabitants, and there are nearly as many more without
the limits in the immediate neighborhood. Many hundreds of
houses were built last year, notwithstanding the pressure of the
times, and many more are going up this year. Rents are
enormously high, higher than in any eastern city, not except-
ing New York itself, and I believe higher than anywhere else on
the continent of America. For a handsome two-story brick
house, with one parlor in front, you would have to pay seven
or eight hundred dollars per annum. St. Louis must, from its
position, become a very large commercial city, and there is no
prospect that any other town on the Mississippi above New
Orleans will be able to compete with it. Already the landing,
covered with iron and lead and all kinds of heavy goods, re-
minds you of one of the front streets of New York or Phila-
delphia. But why don't they build wharves here?
" In the lower and much the oldest part of the town, where
the French chiefly reside, the streets are narrow and filthy.
The buildings are for the most part small, and constructed
with the least possible regard either to elegance or comfort.
Hogs and dogs seemed, the morning I passed through it, to
have undisputed possession of the ground, and the latter had
many a comfortable wallowing-place in front of the houses.
" St. Louis," says the reverend doctor, " like most of our
young and rising towns, especially where there are oceans of
territory, is without any public parks or promenades. A vacant
square, however, was pointed out to me, in the heart of the
city, which may be had at a fair price, though it will now cost
much more that it was offered for two years ago. Surely
nothing should prevent the corporation from purchasing it.
Let it be handsomely laid out in graveled walks, and planted
with shade-trees and shrubbery, and it would be worth more to
St. Louis than if it were all covered over with gold. But even
this would be inadequate to the rapid extension and growing
wants of the place. It is a bad maxim, ' Let posterity take
care of themselves.' Now is the time to secure fifty or a hun-
dred acres for a grand park, as a place of common resort for
relaxation, health, and pleasure. This might now be done
within two miles of the heart of the city for a small sum. In
riding out with a friend I saw three or four fine locations, cov-
ered with a thrifty growth of young trees, offering the city the
strongest inducements to be beforehand with private pur-
chasers. It would not be necessary to lay out a dollar in pre-
paring and ornamenting the grounds for the present. But I
repeat it, at the hazard of being set down as an enthusiast in
matters of this sort, the purchase ought forthwith be made, and
whatever the present generation of utilitarians may think, I
pledge the little credit I have for forecast that a hundred years
hence St. Louis will be prouder of her great park than of any
thing else she will have to boast of."
What would the learned gentleman say to-day if he
could visit St. Louis, and learn that the city has well-
nigh on to an acre of park for each head of a family ?
Dr. Humphrey adds,
" As a proof of the rapid increase of business and population
in St. Louis, I may mention that one of the largest hotels I have
ever seen is now going up. It appears to me to be quite as