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by comparing the former means of communication with the present. Previous
to 1812, the navigation of the Upper Ohio was carried on by means of about
150 small barges, averaging between thirty and forty tons burden, and the
time consumed in ascending from the Falls to Pittsburg was a full month.
On the Lower Ohio and the Mississippi there were about twenty barges,
which averaged 100 tons burden, and more than three months was occupied in
ascending from Orleans to Louisville with West India produce, the crew
being obliged to poll or _cordelle_ the whole distance. Seldom more than
one voyage to Orleans and back was made within the year. In 1817, a
steam-boat arrived at Louisville from New Orleans in twenty-five days, and
a public dinner and other rejoicings celebrated the event. From that
period until 1827, the time consumed in this voyage gradually diminished,
and in that year a boat from New Orleans entered the port of Louisville in
eight days and two hours. There are at present on the waters of the Ohio
and Mississippi, 323 boats, the aggregate burden of which is 56,000 tons,
the greater proportion measuring from 250 to 500 tons.

The people of this country cannot properly be compared with the
inhabitants of England; their institutions are different, and their
habits and manners must necessarily be dissimilar. Indeed, they are as
unlike the English as any people can well be, and many of them with whom I
conversed, denied flatly the descent. They contend that they are a
compound of the best blood of Europe, and that the language of England
only prevailed because, _originally_, the majority of settlers were
English; but that since the revolution, the whole number of emigrants from
the other countries of Europe greatly exceeded the proportion from England
and Ireland. Their temperament, organisation, and independent spirit,
appear to bear them out in this assertion.

In England we have all the grades and conditions of society that are to be
found in America, with the addition of two others, the highest and the
lowest classes. There is no extensive class here equivalent to the English
or Irish labourer; neither is there any class whose manners are stamped
with that high polish and urbanity which characterises the aristocracy of
England. The term _gentleman_ is used here in a very different sense from
that in which it is applied in Europe - it means simply, well-behaved
citizen. All classes of society claim it - from the purveyor of old bones,
up to the planter; and I have myself heard a bar-keeper in a tavern and a
stage driver, whilst quarrelling, seriously accuse each other of being "no
gentleman." The only class who live on the labour of others, and without
their own personal exertions, are the planters in the south. There are
certainly many persons who derive very considerable revenues from houses;
but they must be very few, if any, who have ample incomes from land, and
this only in the immediate vicinity of the largest and oldest cities.

English novels have very extensive circulation here, which certainly is of
no service to the country, as it induces the wives and daughters of
American gentlemen (alias, shopkeepers) to ape gentility. In Louisville,
Cincinnati, and all the other towns of the west, the women have
established circles of society. You will frequently be amused by seeing a
lady, the wife of a dry-goods store-keeper, look most contemptuously at
the mention of another's name, whose husband pursues precisely the same
occupation, but on a less extensive scale, and observe, that "she only
belongs to the third circle of society." This species of embryo
aristocracy - or as Socrates would, call it, Plutocracy - is based on wealth
alone, and is decidedly the most contemptible of any. There are,
notwithstanding, very many well-bred, if not highly polished, women in the
country; and on the whole, the manners of the women are much more
agreeable than those of the men.

Early in the summer I proceeded to Maysville, in Kentucky, which lies
about 220 miles above the Falls. Here having to visit a gentlemen in the
interior, I hired a chaise, for which I paid about two shillings British
per mile.

A great deal of excitement was just then produced among the inhabitants of
Maysville by the president's having put his veto on the bill, passed by
congress, granting loans to the "Maysville and Lexington road," and the
"Louisville canal" companies. The Kentuckians were in high dudgeon, and
denounced Jackson as an enemy to internal improvement, and to the western
states. It would appear that the friends of Adams and Clay, had determined
to place Jackson in a dilemma which would involve his character, either as
a friend to internal improvement or an enemy to lavish expenditure.
Accordingly, they passed an unusual number of bills, appropriating money
to the clearing of creeks, building of bridges, and making of canals and
turnpike roads; the amount of which, instead of leaving a surplus of ten
millions to the liquidation of the national debt, would not only have
totally exhausted the treasury, but have actually exceeded by 20,000,000
dollars the revenue of the current year. This manoeuvre was timely
discovered by the administration, and the president consequently refused
to put his signature to those bills, amongst a number of others. He
refused on two grounds. The first was, that although it had been the
practice of congress to grant sums of money for the purpose of making
roads and perfecting other works, which only benefited one or two states;
yet that such practice was not sanctioned by the constitution - the federal
legislature having no power to act but with reference to the general
interests of the states. The second was, that the road in question was
local in the most limited sense, commencing at the Ohio river, and running
back sixty miles to an interior town, and consequently, the grant in
question came within neither the constitutional powers nor practice of

The president recommends that the surplus revenue, after the debt shall
have been paid off, should be portioned out to the different states, in
proportion to their ratio of representation; which appears to be
judicious, as the question of congressional power to appropriate money to
road-making, &c., although of a general character, involves also the right
of jurisdiction; which congress clearly has not, except where the defence
of the country, or other paramount interests, are concerned.

The national debt will be totally extinguished in four years, when this
country will present a curious spectacle for the serious consideration of
European nations. During the space of fifty-six years, two successful wars
have been carried on - one for the establishment, and the other for the
maintenance of national independence, and a large amount of public works
and improvements has been effected; yet, after the expiration of four
years from this time, there will not only be no public debt, but the
revenue arising from protecting tariff duties alone will amount to more
than the expenditure by upwards of 10,000,000 dollars.

A brief abstract from the treasury report on the finances of the United
States, up to the 1st January, 1831, may not be uninteresting.

Dollars. Cts.
Balance in the treasury, 1st January,
1828 6,668,286 10

Receipts of the year 1828 24,789,463 61
Total 31,457,749 71
Expenditure for the year 1828 25,485,313 90
Leaving a balance in the treasury, 1st
January, 1829, of 5,972,435 81

Receipts from all sources during the
year 1829 24,827,627 38

Expenditures for the same year, including
3,686,542 dol. 93 ct. on account of
the public debt, and 9,033 dol. 38 ct.
for awards under the first article of the
treaty of Ghent 25,044,358 40

Balance in the treasury on 1st January,
1830 5,755,704 79

The receipts from all sources during the
year 1830 were 24,844,116 51


Customs 21,922,391 39

Lands 2,329,356 14

Dividends on bank stock 490,000 00

Incidental receipts 102,368 98

The expenditures for the same year were 24,585,281 55


Civil list, foreign intercourse,
and miscellaneous 3,237,416 04

Military service, including
fortifications, ordnance,
Indian affairs,
pensions, arming the
militia, and internal
improvements 6,752,688 66

Naval service, including
sums appropriated
to the gradual
improvement of the
navy[14] 3,239,428 63

Public debt 11,355,748 22

Leaving a balance in the treasury
on the 1st of January, 1831, of 6,014,539 75

_Public Debt_.

Dollars. Cts.
The payments made on account of the
Public Debt, during the first three
quarters of the year 1831, amounted to 9,883,479 46

It was estimated that the payments to
be made in the fourth quarter of the
same year, would amount to 6,205,810 21
Making the whole amount of disbursments
on account of the Debt in 1831 16,089,289 67


1. _Funded Debt_.
Dollars. Cts.
Three per cents, per act
of the 4th of August,
1790, redeemable at the
pleasure of government 13,296,626 21

Five per cents, per act of
the 3rd of March, 1821,
redeemable after the 1st
January, 1823 4,735,296 30

Five per cents, (exchanged),
per act of 20th of
April, 1823; one third
redeemable annually
after 31st of December,
1830, 1831 and 1832 56,704 77

Four and half per cents.
per act of the 24th of
May, 1824, redeemable
after 1st of January,
1832 1,739,524 01

Four and half per cents.
(exchanged), per act of
the 26th of May, 1824;
one half redeemable
after the 31st day of
December, 1832 4,454,727 95
24,282,879 24

2. _Unfunded Debt_.

Registered Debt, being
claims registered prior
to the year 1793, for
services and supplies
during the revolutionary war 27,919 85

Treasury notes 7,116 00

Mississippi stock 4,320 09
39,355 94

Making the whole amount of the Public
Debt of the United States 24,322,235 18

Which is, allowing 480 cents to the
sovereign, in sterling money £5,067,132 6_s_. 7_d_.

General Jackson has proposed another source of national revenue, in the
establishment of a bank; the profits of which, instead of going into the
pockets of stock-holders as at present, should be placed to the credit of
the nation. If an establishment of this nature could be formed, without
involving higher interests than the mere pecuniary concerns of the
country, no doubt it would be most desirable. But how a _government_ bank
could be so formed as that it should not throw immense and dangerous
influence into the hands of the executive, appears difficult to determine.
If it be at all connected with the government, the executive must exercise
an extensive authority over its affairs; and in that case, the mercantile
portion of the community would lie completely under the surveillance of
the president, who might at pleasure exercise this immense patronage to
forward private political designs. No doubt there have been abuses to a
considerable extent practised by the present bank of the United States in
the exercise of its functions; but how those abuses are likely to be
remedied by Jackson's plan, does not appear. For, let the directors be
appointed by government, or elected by congress, they must still exercise
discretional power; and they are quite as likely to exercise it
unwarrantably as those who have a direct interest in the prosperity of the
concern. I totally disapprove of the attempt to correct the abuses of one
monopoly by the establishment of another in its stead, of a still more
dangerous character; and I am inclined to think that if two banks were
chartered instead of one, each having ample capital to insure public
confidence, competition alone would furnish a sufficient motive to induce
them to act with justice and liberality towards the public.

In 1766, Kentucky was first explored, by John Finlay, an Indian trader,
Colonel Daniel Boon, and others. They again visited it in 1769, when the
whole party, excepting Boon, were slain by the Indians - he escaped, and
reached North Carolina, where he then resided. Accompanied by about forty
expert hunters, comprised in five families, in the year 1775, he set
forward to make a settlement in the country. They erected a fort on the
banks of the Kentucky river, and being joined by several other
adventurers, they finally succeeded. The Kentuckians tell of many a bloody
battle fought by these pioneers, and boast that their country has been
gained, every inch, by conquest.

The climate of Kentucky is favourable to the growth of hemp, flax,
tobacco, and all kinds of grain. The greater portion of the soil is rich
loam, black, or mixed with reddish earth, generally to the depth of five
or six feet, on a limestone bottom. The produce of corn is about sixty
bushels on an average per acre, and of wheat about thirty-five; cotton is
partially cultivated. The scenery is varied, and the country well

The Kentuckians all carry large pocket knives, which they never fail to
use in a scuffle; and you may see a gentleman seated at the tavern door,
balanced on two legs of a chair, picking his teeth with a knife, the blade
of which is full six inches long, or cutting the benches, posts, or any
thing else that may lie within his reach. Notwithstanding this, the
Kentuckians are by no means more quarrelsome than any other people of the
western states; and they are vastly less so than the people of Ireland.
But when they do commence hostilities, they fight with great bitterness,
as do most Americans, biting, gouging, and cutting unrelentingly.

I never went into a court-house in the west _in summer_, without observing
that the judges and lawyers had their feet invariably placed upon the
desks before them, and raised much higher than their heads. This, however,
is only in the western country; for in the courts at Orleans, New York,
and Philadelphia, the greatest order and regularity is observed. I had
been told that the judges often slept upon the bench; but I must confess,
that although I have entered court-houses at all seasons during the space
of fifteen months, I never saw an instance of it. I have frequently
remonstrated with the Americans, on the total absence of forms and
ceremonies in their courts of justice, and was commonly answered by "Yes,
that may be quite necessary in England, in order to overawe a parcel of
ignorant creatures, who have no share in making the laws; but with us, a
man's a man, whether he have a silk gown on him or not; and I guess he can
decide quite as well without a big wig as with one. You see, we have done
with wiggery of all kinds; and if one of our judges were to wear such an
appendage, he'd be taken for a merry-andrew, and the court would become a
kind of show-box - instead of such arrangements producing with us
solemnity, they would produce nothing but laughter, and the greatest
possible irregularity."

I was present at an election in the interior of the state. The office was
that of representative in the state legislature, and the candidates were a
hatter and a saddler; the former was also a militia major, and a Methodist
preacher, of the Percival and Gordon school, who eschewed the devil and
all the backsliding abominations of the flesh, as in duty bound. Sundry
"stump orations" were delivered on the occasion, for the enlightenment of
the electors; and towards the close of the proceedings, by way of an
appropriate finale, the aforesaid triune-citizen and another gentleman,
had a gouging scrape on the hustings. The major in this contest proved
himself to be a true Kentuckian; that is, half a horse, and half an
alligator; which contributed not a little to ensure his return. After the
election, I was conversing with one of the most violent opponents of the
successful candidate, and remarked to him, that I supposed he would rally
his forces at the next election to put out the major: he replied, "I can't
tell that!" I said, "why? will you not oppose him?" "Oh!" he says, "for
that matter, he may do his duty pretty well." "And do you mean to say,"
continued I, "that if he should do so, you will give him no opposition?"
He looked at me, as if he did not clearly comprehend, and said, "Why, I
guess not."

The boatmen of the Ohio and Mississippi are the most riotous and lawless
set of people in America, and the least inclined to submit to the
constituted authorities. At Cincinnati I saw one of those persons
arrested, on the wharf, for debt. He seemed little inclined to submit; as,
could he contrive to escape to the opposite shore, he was safe. He called
upon his companions in the flat-boat, who came instantly to his
assistance, and were apparently ready to rescue him from the clutches of
this trans-Atlantic bum-bailiff. The constable instantly pulled out - not a
pistol, but a small piece of paper, and said, "I take him in the name of
the States." The messmates of this unfortunate navigator looked at him for
some time, and then one of them said drily, "I guess you must go with the
constable." Subsequently, at New York, one evening returning to my hotel,
I heard a row in a tavern, and wishing to see the process of capturing
refractory citizens, I entered with some other persons. The constable was
there unsupported by any of his brethren, and it seemed to me to be
morally impossible that, without assistance, he could take half a dozen
fellows, who were with difficulty restrained from whipping each other.
However, his hand seemed to be as potent as the famous magic wand of
Armida, for on placing it on the shoulders of the combatants, they fell
into the ranks, and marched off with him as quietly as if they had been
sheep. The rationale of the matter is this: those men had all exercised
the franchise, if not in the election of these very constables, of
others, and they therefore not only considered it to be their duty to
support the constable's authority, but actually felt a strong inclination
to do so. Because they _knew_ that the authority he exercised was only
delegated to him by themselves, and that, in resisting him, they would
resist their own sovereignty. Even in large towns in the western country,
the constable has no men under his command, but always finds most powerful
allies in the citizens themselves, whenever a lawless scoundrel, or a
culprit is to be captured.

At Flemingsburg I saw an Albino, a female about fourteen years old. Her
parents were clear negros, of the Congo or Guinea race, and in every thing
but colour she perfectly resembled them. Her form, face, and hair,
possessed the true negro characteristics - curved shins, projecting jaw,
retreating forehead, and woolly head. The skin was rather whiter than that
of the generality of Europeans, but was deficient in glossiness, and
although perfectly smooth, had a dry appearance. The wool on the head was
of a light flaxen colour, and the iris of the eye was of a reddish-blue
tinge. Her eyes were so weak as to bear with difficulty the glare of day.
Most Albinos are dim sighted until twilight, when they appear to have as
perfect vision as persons with the strongest sight, and in many cases,
even more acute. This individual had evidently weak sight, as the eyelids
were generally half closed, and she always held her head down during day

Near the banks of the Ohio, full three hundred miles from the sea, I found
conglomerations of marine shells, mixed with siliceous earth; and in
nearly all the runs throughout Kentucky, limestone pebbles are found,
bearing the perfect impressions of the interior of shells. The most
abundant proofs are every where exhibited, that at one period the vast
savannahs and lofty mountains of the New world were submerged; and perhaps
the present bed of the ocean was once covered with verdure, and the seat
of the sorrows and joys of myriads of human beings, who erected cities,
and built pyramids, and monuments, which Time has long since swept away,
and wrapt in his eternal mantle of oblivion. That a constant, but almost
imperceptible change is hourly taking place in the earth's surface,
appears to be established; and independent of the extraordinary
_bouleversements_, which have at intervals convulsed our globe, this
gradual revolution has produced, and will produce again, a total
alteration in the face of nature.


[14] Amongst other plans to this effect, there is one proposed, by which
midshipmen on half-pay will be obliged to make at least two voyages
annually, in merchant ships, as mates, and all others must have done so,
in order to entitle them to be reinstated in their former rank. Another
is, that there shall be small vessels, rigged and fitted out in war
style, appropriated to the purpose of teaching pupils, practically, the
science of navigation, and the discipline necessary to be observed on
board vessels of war. The Americans may not eat their fish with silver
forks, nor lave their fingers in the most approved style; yet they are by
no means so contemptible a people as some of our small gentry affect to
think. They may too, occasionally, be put down in political argument, by
the dogmatical method of the quarter-deck; but I must confess that _I_
never was so fortunate as to come in contact with any who reasoned so
badly as the persons Captain Bazil Hall introduces in his book.


The wailings of the Cherokee, the Choctaw, and the Creek, may have been
wafted across the waters of the great salt lake, and the Pale-face in his
own land may have heard their lamentations; - but the distant voice is
scattered by the passing winds, and is heard like the whisper of a summer
breeze as it steals along the prairies of the west, or the cry of the
wish-ton-wish as it faintly reaches the ear of the navigator, when, in the
stilly night, he floats down "the old father of waters."

The present posture of Indian affairs, and the peculiar situation of the
Indian nations east of the Mississippi, have caused that unfortunate
people to be the topic of much political controversy and conversation; a
succinct account of the political condition of these tribes, and of the
policy which has been pursued, and which is being pursued towards them, by
the executive government, may not therefore be uninteresting.

When Georgia, by becoming a member of the Union, ceded part of her
sovereignty to the general executive, that government acknowledged her
claimed limits, and guaranteed to her the protection of the Union against
foreign and domestic violence. Subsequently, in the year of 1802, in
consideration of a certain portion of lands ceded, the United States
became bound to purchase for Georgia, any claim which the Cherokee nation
might have on lands within her boundaries, whenever such purchase could be
made on reasonable terms. On these positions are based the Georgian
claims, which the United States government has hitherto pleaded inability
to satisfy, inasmuch as all efforts to purchase the Indian lands have
proved fruitless.

After the lapse of twenty-seven years, Georgia, finding herself precisely
in the same condition in which she then stood, has determined on forcibly

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Online LibraryS.A. FerrallA Ramble of Six Thousand Miles through the United States of America → online text (page 10 of 15)