W. (William) Barrows.

The United States of yesterday and of to-morrow online

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'twelve nights in the hunters' camp;" " OREGON : THE STRUGGLE FOR

possession;" "the Indian's side of the Indian question;" etc.

Out of old Books, new Writings, and much Meditation not of yesterday,
lie will endeavor to select a thing or two ; and from the Past, in a circuitous
way, illustrate the Present and the Future. — Carlyle.

Whoever would do his duty, and his whole duty, in the councils of the
Government, must look upon the whole country as it is, in its whole length
and breadth. He must comprehend it in its vast extent, its novel character,
its sudden development, its amazing progress, confounding all calculations, and
almost overwhelming the imagination. — Webster.




Copyright, 1887,
By E. a. Barrows.

John Wilson and Son, Cambridge.




I. How Large is the West ? 9

II. Surprising Distances in the United States 18

III. The Six Growths of the United States . 27

IV. Growth in Settlements 42

V. Ancient Chicago 53

YI. The "Great American Desert" .... 93
VII. Large Landholdings in the United States . 138

VIII. Wild Life on the Border 169

IX. Pioneering in Education 200

X. Lynch Law 221

XL Eastern Jealousy and Neglect of the

West 263

XII. The Railway System of the West . . . 314

XIII. The Empire of the Future 355

XIV. Conclusion 404



'T^HIS book has been written to answer ques-
-^ tions. As the author in earlier days liad
spent several years beyond the Mississippi, and
much time and travel there since in official work,
during which he made ten tours over the border,
and in the East had devoted much labor to public
addresses and lectures on our new country, it was
quite natural that a miscellaneous information
should be solicited from him concerning the terri-
tory between the Alleghanies and the Pacific.

For various reasons it has seemed best to let
this information group itself into topics, and so it
stands classified under headings and in chapters.

If it seem that many authors have been cited
or quoted, with volume and page given, the reason
is obvious. They were better informed on the
matters in hand than the writer, and therefore
support his statements and observations with a
wider authority.


The author hopes that the candid reader will
not allow the magnitude of some of the facts and
statements to mar their credibility. Such vast-
ness must be both expected and tolerated in
speaking faithfully of a domain much larger
than all Europe, whose growth in all the ele-
ments of a nation has been without precedent
or parallel.

Reading, Mass.,

October, 1887.






NEAR the close of the last century France
was making wonderful growth in imperial
territory and power. Her increase M-as so great
and convulsive as to jar every throne in Europe.
Edmund Burke anxiously turned the attention
of Great Britain to her colossal rival, and spoke
of ambitious France as " something which awed
and commanded the imagination."

How large, territorially, would the France of to-
day be in this country ? Suppose Texas to be a
circular lake and France a circular island ; the
island could be anchored centrally in the lake
out of sight of land, twent3-two miles from any
point on the encircling shore. The vastness of
this State of Texas — equal to the capacity of
England five times, and of Massachusetts thirty-

10 now LARGE IS " THE WEST " ?

four — is not so very much overstated by the
bold figure of Mr. Webster iu his 7th of March
Speech : " So vast that a bird caunot fly over it
in a week." One accurate statement in arithmet-
ical figures is so startling as at first to provoke
an honest disbelief. Nevertheless it is true that
if the entire living population of the globe —
fourteen hundred millions — were divided into
families of five persons each, all tliose families
could be located in Texas, each family having a
house-lot of half an acre, and then leave more
than seventy millions of family lots untaken.^

Such surprises are constantly recurring if one
follows up an ordinary school geography with
questions of comparison. In the days of the con-
troversy with England over Oregon, some thought
it too small an item for so great a peril of the peace
and blood of the two countries. The item puts
on ampler and more important extent and issue
to-day, when our portion of the territory then
in dispute — Oregon, Washington Territory, and
Idaho — is equal in extent to Great Britain and
Ireland twice told, with a remnant nearly as large
as Connecticut.

If Colorado M^ere crowded into the map of
Europe it would crowd out almost as much as
Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland,
Greece, and Wales. If we were able to take

1 We have followed Donaldson as to the area of Texas =
274,356 sc[uare miles.


iinuiigraiton of acres, and nationally, we could
locate in Dakota, acre for acre. Great Britain, Ire-
land, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Suppose a parallelogram be made to corner on
Milwaukee, with a line due west to tlie Pacific,
and by the ocean shore north to our northwestern
corner, and thence on our boundary line due east,
and to Lake Superior and down to the point of
starting, — that enclosure, being about three hun-
dred and fifty-seven miles by seventeen hundred
and fifty-six, would cut up into one hundred and
twenty-nine Connecticuts.

Yet another illustration from that region will
serve to impress on us the magnitude of our
interior and Western areas. In 1864 Abraham
Lincoln signed th.e bill granting the Northern
Pacific Eailroad. As a trunk road it might be
assumed to open up a belt of wild laud four hun-
dred miles wide and eighteen hundred long. This
amount of unsettled country the charter proposed
to take from its prehistoric occupants — Indians
and buffaloes — and give it to agriculture, manu-
factures, commerce, schoolhouses and churches,
voters and jurors. That belt would contain Eng-
land, Scotland, and Ireland ; Spain and Portugal ;
Belgium and the Netherlands ; Norway, Den-
mark, Sweden, and eight Palestines. And yet the
most eastern depot of that road is fifteen hundred
miles west of New England tide-water. A man
visits those eleven States of the Old World, and is


gone a year on the long tour, and after liis return
he perhaps lectures or publishes a book on his
travels. The next generation may travel as far
in the cars on that belt and see as many marvels
of growth as he would hoary wonders abroad, and
not leave home.

It may enhance the force of this illustration of
area to add that the amount of land granted to
this road by the Government in its original char-
ter was equal to all New England and an extra

Probably few Americans, even scholarly ones,
and certainly very few of those whose benevolence
works in the extension of education and Chris-
tianity for the world, realize how much the Amer-
ican Union was enlarged by the Mexican War and
the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that closed it in
1848, and the Gadsden Purchase. That treaty for-
mally included and conceded Texas, previously an-
nexed, and the total addition to the territory of
the United States was equal to one hundred and
four States as large as Massachusetts ; it was one
hundred and fifty times larger than the Holy
Land of Israel, the Palestine of marvellous record.
Patriotism, philanthropy, and Christianity have
been singularly tardy in going in where our sword
went out ; and the most of this land has won but
little interest, though under our own flag, com-
pared with the interest given by us to lands
under the Crescent, and to the territory and home


missionary fields of the English Crown. It is
one of the peculiarities of benevolence in the
United States, that so much of the foreign field
of the American church is the home field of the
British Crown and of the Established Church of

I shall never recover from the overwhelming
impressions of the vastness of our great valley
lying between the Alleghanies and the Eocky
Mountains, as they came on me when I first went
down the eastern slope of it. It was in the au-
tumn of 1840, when our steamer swung into the
Ohio at Guyandotte, and we were seven days of
fair running to St. Louis. Current and steam for
a week to go down one side of this valley ! Since
then I have seen more of it, and only to deepen
the thought of its immensity. Its northern rim is
perpetually fringed by arctic lichens and mosses
and firs around their ice-beds, and its southern is
perpetually fragrant with the rose and magnolia
and orange-blossom.

If you are familiar mainly \A'ith the valley
of the Thames or Tweed or Merrimac or Hudson,
struggle a moment with your fancy to measure this
great valley of a continent. As aid and stepping-
stones, recall your reading of Roman history when
that Empire had its greatest extent. Consider
how beyond the horizon in all directions Eoman
legions swarmed, capturing the great cities of the
world and then returning to the Eternal City

14 now LARGE IS " THE WEST " ?

leading processions of kings and nobles as cap-
tives and suitors. Yet this valley bas capacity
for tbe entire lloman Empire in tbe days of its
broadest expanse, and half another ! Tiie sword
of a CjBsar could never point so far over ter-
ritory it claimed and awed as tlie peaceful band
of an American President is extended to receive
tbe votes and congratulations of the Itepublic.
Gibbon gives tbe greatest area of the Eoman
Empire at 1,000,000 square miles, and our valley
is 2,450,000.

Europe is cut up into twenty areas, with as
many governments. They range from imperial
Eussia to tlie principality of Monaco, embracing
six square miles, — about one fourth of the extent
of a Yankee township. The twenty, realms of
Europe, the entire continent, could be located
within the United States, and then there would
remain uncovered all New England, New York,
New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West
Virginia. This statement will not surprise any
one who considers that the United States is nine-
teen times larger than France, twenty times larger
than Spain, and seventy-eight times larger than

Our Pacific margin is worthy of measuring and
considering by one who would speak correctly
of the West. Its exact length, according to tbe
United States Coast Survey, from the corner post
on Mexico to British Columbia, is seventeen


hundred and forty-three miles, measuring and
reckoning in, as is usual in such work, coast
indentations. The shore line of the Territory of
Alaska, measured from headland to headland,
without regard to coast indentations and exclu-
sive of all islands off the coast and beyond Ooni-
mak Pass, is forty-three hundred and sixty-five
statute miles. This includes the northern or Arc-
tic coast line beyond Behriug Strait and up past
Point Barrow to Demarcation Point. Here is a
United States coast line of sixty-one hundred and
eight statute miles ; and its extent will be more
justly estimated in comparison with the total At-
lantic coast line of Europe, which is only eighty-
four hundred and eighty miles.

This coast fact contrasts strikingly, and for the
United States pleasantly, with the very English
assumption and prediction of Sir George Simpson
in his narrative of " A Journey Pound the World
in 1841-42." The Oregon Question was then
warming toward its conclusion, and Sir George,
Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, doubled
his cruise on the northwest coasts in his interests
in fur and English dominion. Evidently feeling
and fearing the rivalry of the United States on
that coast, and having said that our acquisition
of Louisiana " nursed into life the marauder's plea
of contiguity," he proceeds to add : " The United
States will never possess more than a nominal
jurisdiction, nor long possess even that, on the


west side of the Eocky Mountains ; and supposing
the country to be divided to-morrow to the entire
satisfaction of the most unscrupulous patriot in
the Union, I challenge Congress to bring my pre-
diction and its power to the test by imposing the
Atlantic tariff on the posts of the Pacific. . . .
England and llussia, whether as friends or foes,
cannot fail to control the destiny of the human
race, for good or for evil, to an extent which com-
paratively confines every other nation within the
scanty limits of its own proper locality."

This cannot now be so interesting reading to the
English and to Hudson's Bay men, when Eussia
has sold out wholly in the northwest of America
to the United States, and England holds there only
about three hundred miles of sea-coast, while the
United States owns sixty-one hundred and eight.

Some are unconscious of the vast area of our
country, and so are in an amusing fault some-
times and provincial when putting the "West"
nigh at hand, and great cities and sections in it
near together.

In his " Famous Americans " Parton thus speaks
of Webster : " He liked large things, — mountains,
elms, great oaks, mighty bulls and oxen, wide
fields, the ocean, the Union, and all things of mag-
nitude. He liked great Eome far better than re-
fined Greece, and revelled in the immense things
of literature, such as ' Paradise Lost ' and the Book
of Job, Burke, Dr. Johnson, and the Sixth Book of


the ^neid." Herein lies a broad hint that geog-
raphy as well as law gave Webster stimulus in liis
marvellous and varied defence of the American
Union. He rose to the height of his great argu-
ment under continental as well as constitutional
inspirations. In making up great Americans much
use must be made of American geography. In
our vastness of realm there is much danger that
the East- and the West and the North and the
South will produce provincial men.




" T TOW far is it to Chicago?" Our young
-L J. English friend made the inquiry when
that city was suggested as convenient headquarters
while he might be running up and down the
country on a tour of observation. When the
answer was given, " Something over a thousand
miles," he was amazed ; for he was fresh from
England, whose longest meridian diameter is only
three hundred and sixty-five statute miles, from
Berwick to St. Alban's Head, and whose narrowest
measure is sixty-two, from the head of the Solway
to Wandsbeck on the German Ocean.

Perhaps it is expecting too much that one should
know tolerably the travelled lengths and breadths
in his own United States ; and indeed it would be
expecting a great deal. Yet if one has completed
a course of common-school or higher study, and
can give a fair analysis of any one of Dickens's
novels, or outline the status of the unfinished
stories in the magazines, or give the prices on
stocks or at the best hotels in Europe, one has a
right to expect that he can locate leading cities in


the Union within a thousand miles of their true

When I once spoke to an intelligent friend
of having been recently in Omaha, he inquired,
with all the simplicity of one of Mark Twain's
Innocents Abroad, " Well, did you see the Mor-
mons ? " He was surprised that I had not " run
out" to Salt Lake City, "just back of Omaha,"
to interview those peculiar Saints. My answer
surprised him more, — that having seen that whole
conglomerate when they constituted Nauvoo, this
side the Mississippi, I did not care to go a thou-
sand miles out of my way to visit Salt Lake City.
"A thousand miles ! Why, I thought it was just
back of Omaha ! " " It is just back, as they say
out West, where there is room to say such things."
His question was as if one had proposed some
morning, in Boston, to run down to Fort Sumter
and see the ruins, or to run up from London
to Stockholm, or down to Rome, in a cheap and
temporary curiosity ; for the distances in these
cases are the same.

Parties start from Bangor overland for San
Francisco, and the most of them are surprised to
learn that when at St. Louis they will be only about
one third of their journey. Yet then they have
travelled as far as from Washington to Teluian-
tepec, air line, or from London, by water, to St.
Petersburg. The completed trip is half a thousand
more miles than from Loudon to Monrovia, Africa.


Such parties may well be grateful that they were
not called to the excursion in old emigrant times.

The trip to Oregon in those days is suggestive
of distances and discomforts too, — from the sea-
board to St. Louis (about fifteen hundred miles),
and thence, with the comforts of a Missouri
steamer, four hundred and fifty more to Westport.
Here come the overhauling and packing and
starting of the families and wagons and herds
for Fort Hall, thirteen hundred and twenty-three
miles farther, through wild lands and wilder
Indian tribes. This Fort Hall was on the Lewis
Fork of the Columbia, about one hundred miles
north of Salt Lake, a trading-post of the Hudson's
Bay Company, and for a long time their Gibraltar
against the entrance of the American traders and
immigrants into Oregon. From this post, of so
mucli historic interest in frontier affairs, to Van-
couver, another English trading-post and fort, was
eight hundred and fifty miles, and then down the
Columbia to the sea ninety, — a total of more than
four thousand miles. Thus hardy and noble men
and women went over the continent and founded

The impression is common, and not altogether
unnatural, that on the northwest coast American
cities and business centres lie quite closely to-
gether. Yet from Vancouver, where the Columbia
is a mile wide, though at that point ninety miles
from its mouth, it is six hundred miles up to Fort


Colville ; and from San Francisco to Sitka, tlie
capital of our last purchase, it is twelve liundred
and ninety-six miles, — as far as from New York
to Havana.

It was in the autumn of 1870, — the Kansas
Pacific had been opened through to Denver the
summer before, — and I was passing New Fort
Hays on Big Creek. The willows marked the
watercourse as their line disappeared in the in-
finite prairie, and the conductor advised me to
take a good look at those willows, if I were pleased
with woodland views, for it would be a long time
before I should see more trees. We ran west to
Denver, three hundred and fifty miles, without
passing tree or shrub as large as a currant-bush
or fair-sized switch for a needy boy. To a New
Englander, where the farms appear to a Western
man as snug gardens walled in, this seemed a
large pasture. The clumsy buffalo-herds tumbled
off right and left like the waves of a chopped
sea, and timid graceful antelopes, in little bands,
would run parallel to the cars, and neck and neck,
for three or four miles, in their triplet leaps, and
as airy and easy as thistle-down on the wind.
Acres of prairie dogs would stand like kangaroos
to make observations on us, dodge down through
the openings in the tops of their beehive mounds,
and instantly show head and neck again for a new
look. As twilight approached over the grassy and
rolling expanse, gangs of coyotes would settle back


on their haunches beyond rifle range, and with
stretched neck and wolfish manner howl at us.

At Salina, where we spent the night, the stock-
men gave us some most impressive ideas of
distances in tliat immense interior. Salina, with
Brookville a dozen miles away, was then the
nearest and great shipping-point for live-stock
from that unfenced and infinite Southwest. The
estimate for Salina that season was seventy thou-
sand head. The owners, purchasers, and cow-
boys made that a lively night at the lonely
station. We arrived in the evening, and the
morning revealed the little shanty cluster of
railroad buildings as a St. Helena in an unlim-
ited expanse of grass. In all directions were
masses of cattle, like islands outlying far to sea.
Making questions, and notes too, of numbers and
weights and girths and prices, I began to ask
about the distances that some of the herds had
been driven. Pointing to different ones with my
questions, the answers came back easily and care-
lessly, as if a few hundred miles in the saddle for
the cow-boy were a slight matter : " Four hundred
miles ; " " Six hundred and more ; " " From Beck's
rancho on the Pecos, about six hundred ; " " Well,
Fort Ringgold way, on the Rio Grande, nigh on
to nine hundred." Amazed at these replies, I
said : " Why, how far do you drive cattle here ? "
" Stranger, that herd this away yonder has come
a right smart thousand. Six months on the trail,


and the Redskins touched them at a levy a head
for crossing the Indian Territory."

This was the nearest route, in 1870, for those
ranchmen on the dim borders of American life
and civilization as they started their Texan or
New Mexican steers for the New York market.
It was as if Webster's fat oxen were driv^en on the
higliway from Franklin or INIarshfield to Chicago,
and thence taken seven hundred and fifty miles
by cars, that they might furnish the sirloin of the
merry king who gave the name to it.

From those more southern and southwestern
grazing-grounds the ranchmen started their herds
for the North on the tender grass of January, and
kept pace with the travelling spring, and so came
upon the cattle-trains at Salina in early summer.
But now, with the locomotive at San Antonio,
Santa F^, TuQon, and Fort Yuma, the steers are
ticketed through, and find a much easier and
speedier way to the slaughter. So soon following
in the trail of buffalo and antelope have come
compass and chain and warrantee deeds, and farms
and city plots ; acres of prairie dogs have been
ploughed in for so much wheat to the acre ; and
planted groves break the monotonous and treeless
expanse, and throw grateful shade over frolicking
children, and anvils so musical of thrift, and over
family altars so prophetic and insuring of " what-
soever things are true, whatsoever things are hon-
est, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things


are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, and what-
soever things are of good report."

The time is not far gone by when similar
prairies, smaller and more broken by timber, held
their primitive sway between Chicago and Cairo.
When in the saddle in early days on those plains,
and often without a trail, and only a compass for
a guide, another horseman like myself could be
seen for hours before our converging lines brought
us within hail, like two ships speaking each other
in mid-ocean. Pleasant memories linger still
around our deer-camp on the edge, or rather in
the suburbs, of Girard City. Probably it is larger
now ; but then it consisted of a huge pile of
crumbling brick, a roofless log-cabin, and rows of
stakes running off very regularly into the prairie.
The deer jumped them easily as they struck out
across five denominational church-lots, the court-
house grounds, and the college square. The city
was peopled with the fancies of Eastern specu-
lators and owners of blocks and corner lots, with
now and then a living man as a spectator of

In planning an easy and interesting tour into
the West seven years ago, he of the Eastern sea-
board would naturally and very properly wish to
see three of the most interesting cities in the upper

Online LibraryW. (William) BarrowsThe United States of yesterday and of to-morrow → online text (page 1 of 26)