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New-York, Oct. V2d, 1841.

THE Managers of the Fourteenth Annual Pair of " the American Institute of
the City of New-York" gratefully acknowledge their obligations to you for the
timely relief afforded by your prompt acceptance of their invitation to deliver the
Anniversary Address last evening which invitation was delayed by the interven-
tion of unexpected circumstances, and did not come to the knowledge of the
Managers until within a few hours of the time which had been announced for this
part of the celebration.

The important facts contained in your Address, and their bearings on the
vital interests of Agriculture and productive industry generally, and the patriotic
sentiments it is calculated to inspire if extensively read, are the reasons for soliciting
from you the further favour of a copy for publication.

On behalf of the Managers,


Chairman of Pub. Committee.

T. B. WAKEMAN, Esa., Chairman of the Publishing Committee

of the lith Annual Fair of the American Institute:

DEAR SIR, I have received your kind favour, requesting a copy of the
Anniversary Address for publication.

You are perfectly aware that it was not prepared for such an important
occasion, or such an immense assembly as that to which I was summoned at
two hours' notice, through the unavoidable absence of the learned and honourable
gentleman who was to have gratified and instructed the friends of Commerce,
Agriculture and Manufactures.

The subject which I selected is one, too, little appreciated by the inhabitants
'of cities and towns, and I think far too seldom brought before their attention ;
and yet it is full of interest, and admits of popular discussion. The kind
reception which the address met with on its delivery, and the frequent applications
I have had to repeat it in other places, induce me to comply with your request,
although I am quite aware that the Oration is better calculated for the audience
than the press.

With best wishes for the success of the Institute and respect for the

I am, very faithfully yours,





" OUR COUNTRY," is a phrase of wide and endearing import.
Poetry has sung its charms, patriotism has felt them, and piety
has consecrated them. And what a country, fellow citizens,
does God permit us to call our own ! There is our long At-
lantic coast, with more than two thousand one hundred miles
of seaboard, skirting states containing more than one million of
square miles. There, too, is our imperium in imperio, the Valley
of the West, lying between the Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico,
the Alleganies and the Rocky Mountains, containing two mil-
lions of square miles, one hundred thousand miles of internal
ship and steam-boat navigation, four thousand miles of rail-road,
two thousand miles of lake, and one thousand of gulf. All this
extent embraces the best variations of climate upon the globe,
comprehending exactly those degrees which have been ever
marked by the genius and enterprise of man.

Our land is a mart for the nations, a workshop for the earth ;
every ocean is white with our canvass, and we have learned to
press into our service steam as it rises, water as it flows, air as
it flies. We have almost the only Constitution that deserves
the name freedom for every citizen, liberty breathing full and
free through all our institutions thus cherishing a spirit of enter-
prise, a security that holds out a protecting bounty to each in-
dividual, rendering every citizen assured of the full enjoyment
of all lawful acquisition ; and in addition to this, the law does all
that for every man's religion which true religion asks, wishes or
wants, and that is, lets it alone.


With a lamentable exception of three millions, our people
are free, and are characterized by strength, ingenuity and pa-
tience ; they present, in body and mind, the noblest materials for
the formation of national greatness.

I believe you are all disposed, after this brief survey, to ex-
claim with me of the Giver of every good gift, who hath thus
ordered the bounds of our habitation " He hath not dealt so
with any other people."

How little did Columbus understand of the true nature and
bearing of his mission, when, with a heart big with mighty pro-
jects, he walked in silence on the shores of Andalusia, and
watched the star of evening down the western sky ! Little did
he dream that he was about to open another Paradise to thou-
sands driven from their homes, not by the wrath of their Maker,
but the rage of their brethren ; that he was the instrument in
the hands of God to throw open an asylum to which the feet of
the oppressed would direct their course from all lands for pro-
tection, and to which the imploring eye of misery would be
turned, from almost every scene of human wretchedness. And
now, after almost four centuries have passed away, what do we
see ? Nation upon nation, long reposing in the lap of its
rulers, is starting up to action, and animated and incited to
hope by our blessedness, is making its way for this lighthouse
of the world.* An attraction in the material world is ever
withdrawing particles of matter from whatever is old, and com-
bining them in newer and more beautiful forms ; so a moral in-
fluence is withdrawing subjects from the old and worn-out
governments of Europe, and hurrying them across the Atlantic,
to participate in the renovated youth of our western republic.
It is an influence which, like that of nature, is universal, with-
out pause or relaxation, and hordes of emigrants are continu-
ally swarming off, as ceaseless in their passage, and as crowded
and as unreturning, as the travellers to eternity. Even those
who are forced to remain feel a melancholy restlessness, like a
bird of passage whose wing was broken at the season of emi-
gration, and they look at America as the land of the dear de-


parted, where every one has some near relative or dear friend
gone before him. In all Europe a voice, like that heard before
the final ruin of Jerusalem, seems to whisper to such as have
ears to hear, "Arise, let us depart hence."

But why does the public teacher of Christianity appear upon
such an occasion ; does he not transcend his appropriate duty
when he talks of the details of earthly actions ?

I feel myself entirely in the discharge of appropriate duty
when I advocate the ordination of Jehovah, and speak of the
most ancient, honourable and satisfying employments that ever
occupied the intelligent creation.

I cannot but regard agricultural improvement as closely con-
nected with a prosperous state of morality and religion ; for the
inculcations of Christianity, neatness, order, and consequently
taste, find their natural sphere in rural pursuits. The habits of
life, and the sentiments which accord with husbandry, are highly
congenial to the genuine spirit of religion ; and a well conducted
farm should be the home of devotion, tranquillity and peace.

I greatly fear that the moral influences flowing from the cul-
tivation of the rural sciences are inadequately appreciated by
too many. Every minister of religion should aim to call out
and encourage the observation and curiosity of the young ; he
should train them up around him as querists ; he should himself
remember, and let them never forget, that Newton, by observing
the fall of an apple, was led on to the discovery of the sublime
principles of the material world. O, how much can be done
for happiness and comfort in a country parish by a well edu-
cated minister ! what transformations he may effect what im-
provements he may suggest what trains of future action he
may set off, by a hint, a request, or an example.

Who that has passed through the town of Worcester, in Mas-
sachusetts, has not admired the taste and beauty of its well
planted trees and shaded avenues ? All this, I believe, was de-
viSed and commenced by a young minister, who, without any
resources but of taste and genius, applied himself and a few
kindred spirits to the work of moulding the taste and habits of
the community. He was one of four ministers w r ho formed the
Worcester County Agricultural Society, and in that county


many of the ministers have been successful farmers, and they
have received as many premiums as any other class of men.
And while I speak of Massachusetts, and refer to the clergy, I
am sure you are all of you reminded of the indebtedness of
every man who cultivates the American soil to that able farmer,
that distinguished philanthropist and eloquent teacher, the Rev.
Henry Coleman, late Agricultural Commissioner for the Com-
monwealth. When I read his reports and letters to the yeo-
manry of New-England, I wish that his voice could be heard in
every farm of our State and Union.*

Mitchell, in his agricultural tour through Holland, states, that
each Divinity student, before being licensed, has to attend two
years lectures upon agriculture. I have no doubt that the use-
fulness of the clergy is much augmented by this step, and that
their future influence over the manners and habits of the country
is greatly increased.

When I think of the state of society in our country, I wish
that many, very many, of the Lord's prophets were themselves
husbandmen, or at least fond of rural pursuits, and distinguished
by their attachment and devotion to nature ; for what beautiful
teachings there are in that volume which the Almighty has
spread open to us ; and to some thoughtless minds the lessons of
the open field are far more impressive than our discourses of
the music and harmonies of heaven. Go out into nature, all is
visible, all is tangible. I can take a leaf, a plant, an insect, and
from either I can make appeals that the sophist's art, the skeptic's
hatred, can neither mystify nor evade. I can bring up from
nature, evidences in favour of my faith in God, that only " a fool"
can deny. And then nature speaks one universal language,
and establishes the same facts to all classes and orders of minds.
Her unity is wondrous, and no inquisitive eye roams far for a
curious object. No student complains that nature's lessons
are few, or her colours faint. " Her lines are gone out into all
the earth, and there is no speech nor language where her voile

* Since this address was delivered, Mr. Coleman has taken charge of the New
Genesee Farmer, and will, I doubt not, render that excellent paper more valuable
and useful than ever.

is not heard." I long for the day when men shall be told more
of the material revelation God has made, which admits no change.
No Vandal hordes can ever blot out its inscriptions, or burn its
library. Nature's alphabet is made up of only four letters,
wood, water, rock and soil ; and yet with these four letters she
forms such wondrous compositions, such infinite combina-
tions, as no language with twenty-four letters can describe.-
Nature never grows old, she speaks now as ever ; she has no
provincialisms. The lark carols the same song, in the same key,
as when Adam turned his delighted ear to catch the strain ; the
owl still hoots in b flat, yet loves the note, and screams through
no other octave ;* the stormy petrel as much delighted to sport
among the first waves the Indian Ocean ever raised, as it does
now. Birds that lived on flies, laid bluish eggs, when Isaac went
out into the fields to meditate at eventide, as they will two thou-
sand years hence, if the w r orld does not break her harness from
the orb of day. The sun is as bright as when Lot entered the
little city of Zoar. The diamond, and the onyx, and the topaz
of Ethiopia, are still as splendid, and the vulture's eye as fierce,
as when Job took up his parable. In short, nature's pendulum
has never altered its strokes.

I might magnify your estimate of the value and importance
of agriculture, by carrying you back to the primeval scenes of
the world's history ; but who does not remember, that when all
things were pronounced to be very good, it was amid scenery,
of which the grouping was made up of a God, a garden, and
its cultivator, man. The soil whence Adam sprang was the
granary whence he was to be sustained, and it afforded him at
last his grave and resting place.

I might occupy your time in alluding to Patriarchal agricul-
tural labours, when the world's forefathers worshipped God in
all the simplicity of nature, tending their flocks by day, and re-
posing at night in calm serenity beneath the spreading sky,
peace their pillow, and piety their guardian angel. I might
speak to you of Israel's monarch, who planted him vineyards,
and made him gardens and orchards, and planted in them trees

* Bayley on Nature.


of all kinds of fruit, and who had possessions of great and small
cattle, above all that were in Jerusalem before him, and who
spake of trees from the cedar that is in Lebanon, even unto the
hyssop that springeth out of the wall. And Uzziah and other
kings, while good and virtuous, had cattle in the plains and low
country, and husbandmen and vine dressers in the mountains
and in Carmel, and who loved husbandry. It is not needful, to
make you see the dignity of agricultural labour, that I carry
you back to Babylon, Persia or Rome, for you all know that
wherever liberty, the arts and sciences have flourished, there
has the patriot encouraged, the statesman protected, and the
poet praised the art of husbandry. How delightful are the
glimpses which we obtain of rural life in the literature of
Greece and Rome ! Laertes pruning his vines, Eumenes enter-
taining his king, and Hesiod himself leading us to the very
cradle and infancy of agriculture.

" Forget not, when you sow the grain, to mind
" That a boy follows with a rake behind,
" And strictly charge him, as you drive, with care
" The seed to cover and the birds to scare."

Every schoolboy knows the agricultural glory of old Rome,
and thinks of Varro, Cincinnatus, Cato, Virgil, Horace and
Cicero, in connection with the cultivation of their mother earth.
The history of agricultural improvement is almost the history
of the world, and comes not within my province ; but it is grati-
fying that we can trace its most rapid developements in the
land which contains the tombs of our ancestors, and was the
birthplace of our language, laws and religion. It was only at
the close of the fifteenth century that agriculture began to be
regarded and pursued as a science. Fitzherbert, a Judge of the
Court of Common Pleas, wrote the earliest piece upon farming,*

* " The Bookof Husbandry, very Profitable and Necessary for all Persons." He
also wrote several other pieces. The Judge applied himself as vigorously to hus-
bandry in the country as to the study of the law in the town. We have a similar
instance at the present time in the Hon. Daniel Webster, whose thorough acquaint-
ance with practical farming is exemplified in the very ablest agricultural address I
have ever read. It was delivered in Boston soon after his return from Europe. It
is the fullest and most condensed article on husbandry that we have access to, and
Bhould b reprinted by the American Institute for general distribution.


about one hundred years before the establishment of Plymouth
Colony or New-Amsterdam. It was published in 1534. The
work imparted much interest to the pursuit of husbandry. Tus-
ser's Five Hundred Points of Husbandry appeared thirty years
after ; then came Barnaby Goage's " Whole Art and Trade of
Husbandry." Sir Hugh Platt turned his mind to the proper
food of the soil, and wrote " The Jewel Houses." His remarks
upon manures are sensible, and still in repute. Samuel Hartlip
wrote an admirable treatise, for which he was rewarded by
that true-hearted patriot and far discerning statesman, Oliver
Cromwell, who bestowed upon him a pension. Hartlip has the
merit of having been the first who recommended a public di-
rector of husbandry to be established by law. Evelyn and
Tull are names dear to the well-read and scientific cultivator of
the soil ; and I join with one who has gone before me in this
duty, in declaring that Jethro Tull is more deserving of a monu-
ment than the Duke of Marlboro'.*

The time would fail me to run over all the names that have
helped to-.make England, if not a garden, yet a prodigy of agri-
cultural wealth, and that little island the wonder of the world.

Anderson and Hunter, Marshall and Home, Young and Dick-
son, Sinclair and Davy, Loudon and Knight, Bedford and Spen-
cer, Coke and Shaw, are the true friends of man, and their
fame is yet to grow brighter and run in larger circles.

The glorious era from which all the triumphs of husbandry
now date, is 1793, when, under the auspices of Sinclair and
Pitt, the British Legislature incorporated the Board of Agricul-
ture ; then surveys were made of every county, the resources
of the empire developed and proclaimed. It is from this
period that we may regard agriculture as a science. The
essays published on turning grass land into arable, and the

* How much it is to be lamented that there is no library in our country where
even a tolerable collection of the old agricultural authors can be found for purposes
of reference. It is matter of doubt whether a rich man could do the American Institute
as much real good in any other way as by presenting it with the means of collecting in
England some twenty-five or thirty old authors upon husbandry and gardening.
One hundred dollars would procure all the above named authors, and several other*
who were coternporary with them.


culture of the potato, exhibited the ablest talent of Great
Britain, and have furnished, I believe, some of the most
valuable volumes ever written. The patronage of the govern-
ment gave interest to the subject, and the proudest peers of
England placed their sons with practical farmers for the ac-
quirement of the details of husbandry.

A member of the late cabinet devoted three years to all the
labours of a farm. Now, too, chemistry was brought forward
to the aid of agriculture, and has been one of its firmest pillars.
In short, we may regard this organization of the agricultural
society as the origin of the systematic rotation of crops, the im-
provement in breeds of cattle, use of plaster, the soiling of
cattle, culture of root crops, and artificial grasses. Comparisons
led to the establishment of facts, and agriculture may now be
regarded as an art resting upon facts.

In almost every portion of Great Britain these societies
sprang up, and the farmers had the courage and wisdom to
profit by the improvements which skill and science had intro-
duced, and the result is, that five millions of all ages produce
annually from her soil seven hundred millions worth of agri-
cultural produce. In 1760 the growth of all grain in England
and Wales was one hundred and twenty millions of bushels, in
Scotland thirty millions, making a total of one hundred and fifty
millions. In 1840 the produce was four hundred and ten mil-
lions of bushels. Think of seven hundred millions worth of
produce from that little island, and remember, that competent
judges tell us this may still be doubled ! Agriculture has clothed
the most barren heaths with luxuriant crops, converted pools
and marshes into fruitful meadows, and clothed the bleakest
mountains with groves of forest trees.

Agriculture has been termed by Sully, the breast from
whence the state receives support and nourishment. It is the
primary source of wealth and independence ; and when the
soil of a country is in such a state naturally or artificially, as,
under judicious management, to furnish maintenance for more
persons than are required for its culture, thence proceeds the
profits of the farmer, the rents of the landlord, the subsistence of
the manufacturer and merchant, and the greater proportion of


the income of the state. That surplus marketable produce is
justly considered to be the principal source of all political power
and personal enjoyment; when that surplus does not exist there
can be no flourishing towns, no naval force, none of the supe-
rior arts or finer manufactures, no learning, none of the conve-
niences and luxuries of foreign lands, and none of that cultivated
and polished society at home, which not only elevates and dig-
nifies the individual, but extends its beneficial influence through-
out society. What exertions, then, ought to be made, and encour-
agement to be given, to preserve and to improve so essential a
resource, this foundation of national prosperity. Agriculture
does more than feed, it clothes us : without it we should have no
manufactures, no commerce. These all stand together like pil-
lars in a cluster, the largest in the centre, and that largest is

Let us look at our own state the empire state. Her terri-
torial extent is ten thousand square miles larger than England
and Wales. In 1783 she had not half the population of the states
of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia ; now
her inhabitants are two million five hundred thousand. Our
Commonwealth exhibits physical capabilities of wealth and
greatness existing to an unknown extent, and is fertile in most
of the productions which minister to the necessities of man. I
envy not the individual whose heart does not swell when he
gazes on the bold and magnificent profusion with which the liv-
ing God has scattered the proofs of his eternal Godhead, and
with what a vast and awful scale of grandeur he has piled up
the mountain and spread out the valley, planted the forest and
poured forth the flood.

The western portion of our state was, forty years ago, a wil-
derness we now point out to it as a garden. In that time
seventeen millions of acres of forest land have been subdued and
brought into improvement. One million five hundred thousand
inhabitants are occupied in the various departments of civilized
life ; and they are to-day in the peaceful possession of more
than six hundred millions of property.

No state in the Union presents to the farmer the means of
health, independence and abundance, ;nore amply than our


own ; and we are indeed criminal, if we do not avail ourselves
of all the lights of science, and the aids of other lands, in prose-
cuting our onward march.

Many of my hearers have heard that the revival of agricul-
ture commenced in Flanders, about seven hundred years ago.
There the soil was little better than a white barren sand, now its
increase is said to be twice as great as in England. The grand
maxim on which the Flemish farmer acts is, " without manure
no corn, without cattle no manure, and without root crops no
cattle can be raised." Their success may be resolved into the
following causes : small farms, careful manure, rotation of crops,
clover and roots, cutting their forage, and close, undivided
personal attention. The farmer does not lumber, fish, specu-
late, nor hold office.

I have had much opportunity to notice the conduct of our
western farmers; and I am entirely impressed with the belief
that most of them would be better off if they were to be de-
prived of half their lands. Labour and anxiety are all they can
obtain from the extensive cultivation they now attempt. But
there is a perfect mania for adding acre to acre.

The true idea of a farm, is its closest possible resemblance to
a well-conducted garden. The Flemish farmer never dreams
of exhausting his soil in one place, then moving off to wear it
out in another, and then in his old age to commence a new
clearing of the forest. If I can make ten acres yield me as
much as one hundred, by affording it all my means of improve-
ment, and which was required by the one hundred, the conse-
quence is, that I have profited in my body and mind in an
astonishing degree. I have saved ten times the ploughing and
harrowing, ten times the sowing and hoeing, mowing and reap-
ing, besides ten times the rent.

I fully expect to see the second crop far more common than
it is. With our powerful sun, we need only efficient manuring,
limited extent of soil under cultivation, and an increase of care,

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Online LibraryJohn Overton ChoulesThe oration on the fourteenth anniversary of the American Institute → online text (page 1 of 3)