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quehanna was by means of big canoes, usually of the hollow log variety, that were propelled up the river by means of poles. Many of the people who first travelled into northern Pennsylvania and central New York from southern Pennsylvania and the Delaware Bay region in the second half of the eighteenth century made the trip in that manner. When laden with the members of his family and his worldly possessions, a man's canoe often weighed
62.—McCann's two-penny piece. A specimen of the metallic money issued by
a few early American tavern keepers. Such pieces are among the uncommon examples of American coinage. Brass. Actual size. Revolutionary period. The punched hole, which corresponds to that made in some issues of early metallic stage-coach and railway tickets, suggests that tavern money was occasionally strung on wire, for convenience. See illustration No. 159.
a ton. In seasons of low water all the men and women got out, waded in the stream and pushed their craft along until another navigable stretch of the river was reached. Thus they journeyed, never at the rate of more than twenty-five miles a day and usually at about half that speed, until they gained their destination. Two or three weeks of hard work were required, under favorable conditions, to reach the interior of New York from either New England or the mouth of the Susquehanna.
Such were the methods by which the first travel of white people into upper Pennsylvania and central and southern New York was undertaken. The men who did such extraordinary things looked upon their experiences in a matter-of-fact way because they had no conception of other devices for human locomotion. They gave all their ingenuity to the problem of transporting themselves from place to place, and thought they succeeded admirably well. According to their notion the obvious troubles and discomforts were altogether due to natural conditions that would never be greatly different, and were in no degree due to the crudity of their own appliances, which, in their opinion, were nearly as good as could be fashioned.
All progress thus far made in land travel had been the result of patient effort, persistence and adaptability along one clearly defined but narrow line of development. No other element had entered into the attempted solution of the problem. There was manifest, as indicated, a certain quality of impatience that had brought about greater speed on highways, and which, when fully awakened, was to alter the face of the world and the affairs of humanity, but it was not an impatience born of knowledge that better things exist yet are unavailable for immediate use. Every small forward step in advance for a century and a half in using land and water vehicles — boats had hardly altered at all — had been due, either directly or indirectly, to physical labor either by man or beast, or both. Of those near impending miracles born of the brain and not of the hands, without which the task of continental conquest might not have been accomplished in a thousand years, there was no trace; no hint. The time was but lately passed when an exhibition of such things would have resulted in the execution of their originator as the master of infernal powers whose possession made him a danger to his fellow men. Then came the years of the Revolution as a climax to the incessant economic struggle, social disorder, political unrest and turmoil of warfare that had pre
vailed during all the history of the new civilization which was fighting for dominance on the edge of the continent. The close of the Revolution and the attainment of independence found the people of the new-born states in a curious condition of mind. In their consideration of, and attention to, the small affairs of their daily lives they behaved in a normal way, for the thought and action nec
63.—Sample of the paper money issued by tavern keepers for the convenience
of travellers and the neighboring population. Small silver was often scarce, and tavern money, in sums under one dollar, took its place. If the reputation of the inn-keeper was good, then the money was good. The paper was frequently printed from engraved plates, as in this case, as a precaution against counterfeiting.
essary to the carrying on of such matters was largely automatic. At least it did not require any departure from familiar precedent, any violent effort to adopt new customs and admit that former methods, as well as former years, were dead.
But apart from their daily routine the attention of the population was given to a consideration of political affairs and to the utterance, by voice or pen, of all the thoughts upon those subjects that germinated within their minds. There was a cyclone of discussion, a tumult of debate that was hushed only by the ocean on one side and the wilderness on the other. Let it be said, however, that in this strange period — as in all others of like nature in history — there were a few men whose thoughts were largely given to questions of material development and who tried hard, although in vain, to attract the attention of their brethren.
These conditions were not surprising when considered in connection with what had preceded them. They were, rather, natural and inevitable, and now require to be mentioned because of a phenomenon in which they were soon to result. For many years all that was strongest in the intellect of the colonies had been concentrated, with an intensity hard to exaggerate, on political affairs. For an equal time the people had lived a national life in which warfare and politics had been almost the only elements. The leaders of public thought and action had ceaselessly appealed to the country in utterances dealing with those things, and the mass of the people had done nothing but listen to the appeals, argue about them and fight in response to them.
And at last the end of the long tumult had come; the abstract political condition so long desired and struggled for had been gained. But the country could not at once put aside all memory of the period just ended, and turn with calm and unclouded thought to the more prosaic but equally important questions of domestic affairs and continental progress. Indeed, it is probable that such things were even further from the public mind immediately after the Revolution than before or during the struggle, since nations -- like individuals — have youth, strength and senility, and their inhabitants collectively manifest in those periods many of the characteristics of the individual man. It was a very young, though vigorous and boisterous nation that had been born of the Revolution. It was old enough to realize its own existence, and was much interested in itself and its surroundings, but did not yet feel equal to the task of walking very far in any one direction. The colonies, though they had won their freedom, did not yet know what to do with it. Absorbed in a contemplation of past perils from which they had so recently emerged, the freemen suddenly found that independence, in itself, was not a complete solution of the problem created by their ambition. No sooner was the fighting ended than the chief figures of the land fell into another violent discussion over the next step to be taken, and the populace forthwith took sides and added to the clamor. During the years from 1783 to 1789 the country was a continuous political caucus, and no broad subject that did not in some way relate to state rights, Federal jurisdiction, term of office, taxation, the franchise, or such things, had much chance of winning the public ear. Even the significance that lay in the extension of the national territory to the Mississippi River failed to receive general attention. There was no way to get there. The national horizon, in the eyes of the mass of the people, still remained about two hundred miles wide from east to west.