Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][ocr errors]

throw together such thoughts as this in- public debt. To this delicate topic I quiry suggests, and to glance at the past may, in the course of my letter, incidenfortunes and present prospects of the tally refer. Permit me, for the present, port, in the belief that both the retro- to expatiate upon the text proposed for spect and the anticipation justify and elucidation. demand a serious effort for their intro- I will assume, then, thant he ancient duction.

reputation of Pennsylvania for good faith In the solicitude I may discover to and integrity, though deliberately fired build up the fair renown and true gran- at, was not mortally wounded, by the deur of Philadelphia to the proportions facetious bullets of the late reverend of which she is so easily capable, you, Canon of St. Paul's. The militant creat least, will not believe that I am in- ditor was as wide of the mark in aiming fluenced by a sordid or pecuniary object. at so small a sect as "the drab-coated I am not a merchant, and have no mo- gentry," and holding them amenable for tive to sensibility for the spot we inha- the supposed delinquencies of the state, bit, but the interest and attachment as he certainly missed it, in so precipiwhich spring from the associations of tately selling his Pennsylvavia bonds birth, the ties of kindred, and the me- under par! But to proceed to the main mory of honored ancestors for six gene- subject of my epistle. rations. These make me alive to her Penusylvania was the colony of mark honest fame and just rank in the great in the western world. Though the last community of cities; they certainly ren- settled but one of the English provinces, der me partial, but I hope neither extra- she soon outran them all in the race of vagant nor foolish, notwithstanding the population and the arts of life. Threesentiment

quarters of a century younger than Vir* Non simul cuiquam conceditur amare et sapere.

ginia, and sixty-two years younger than • Massachusetts, she distanced, within the

$ The extension of our commerce lies lapse of the former period from her setnear to my heart only in connection with tlement, all the other colonies but" the its results, with that enlargement of spirit ancient dominion.” Every bound of the which great opulence usually engen- young giant was hailed as an omen of ders, and those richer blessings of a high future greatness, by the parent country. civilization which it secures, multiplies, She and her sisters were ranked among and diffuses.

the fairest flowers of the regalia. Her For nearly a century Philadelphia was ingenious sons—her Rittenhouse, her regarded in Europe, not only as the Franklin, her West, et Dii Minoresgreat city, but the focus of refinement were received in London with caresses and civilization in the western world, as British subjects, and conducted to It is a mortifying truth, that though in all such honors as learned appreciation and respects eminently entitled to her for- polite society could confer. The literamer repute, except, perhaps, in numeri. ture of England at that day conferred cal precedence, she has so dwindled upon them celebrity, or echoed the jusin English and European estimation as tice of their domestic fame, until the to be viewed only as a speck in the com- keen-sighted discoveries of subsequent mercial horizon-an insignificant point years, detected the orthodoxy of oppoon the American map. It is my purpose site sentiments. The same writers who to show how she has thus receded from had been eloquent in their praisesthe transatlantic vision, why her foreign made less kind by political changes commerce has declined, the means of re- could see little merit in philosophers or trieving it, and how necessary its resto- artists who had ceased to be British subration is to her prosperity. I shall do jects, and in a country which had ceased this, mainly to invoke your influence to belong to the British crown. with British capitalists, to aid the intro- But, notwithstanding the chills and duction into her port of a line of steam damps of British criticism, Philadelphia vessels of the largest class.

continued to maintain her good-humored ** We are all aware of the cloud, which, complacency, and a healthy commercial to the eyes of many Englishmen, is still prosperity. She was so disloyal as to suspended over the venerable House of supply many of the sinews of war, to Pennsylvania, conjured up by the idle sustain the new government. As the story of an intended repudiation of the seat of the American Congress, and the chief city of the United Colonies, she alluring in their promises, that the pubwas freely exposed to the perils of lic mind seized upon them with avidity. the conflict. But she participated in The first difficulty was to subdue those the benefits of that unrestricted com- wild and magnificent fortresses of namerce which the Revolution secured. ture-those inaccessible walls of rock Her exports, which were less than eight and mountain-with which she delightmillions of dollars in 1790, rose in 1796 ed to guard her treasures. To penetrate to the sum of $17,523,866. Chiefly their recesses, to scale their conglowith Philadelphia capital, Pennsylvania merate ramparts, and convey the hidden made the first turnpike road, excavated mineral to market over a country whose the first canal, and constructed the first undulations of surface seemed to laugh at railway, of any magnitude, in this coun- the effort-was ridiculed as the dream try. The importance of internal im- of fanaticism or the dictate of folly. provements employed the tongues and But impediments seemed only to stimupens of her best speakers and writers, at late activity, to quicken the spirit of an early day. These sentiments con- speculation, to open the purse of encurring with the influence of her exam- terprise. Much of the capital which ple and the experience of its effects, dif. had been successfully employed in forfused a similar spirit through New-York eign commerce, was thus diverted from and New England. You will not ac- its accustomed channel, and taught to cuse me of indulging in a boastful or wander to the hills, the ravines, and the vain-glorious spirit, in noting what his- rivers of the Lehigh, the Schuylkill, and tory records. It is simply the truth that the Susquehanna, Philadelphia, in all the duties of a large Many millions of dollars were buried community-in the construction of hy. in the recesses of these mountains, or in draulic works for the introduction of attempts to wind round their valleys, or pure water from without her municipal improve the navigation of their streams. limitsmin sanitary measures--in a Perhaps a HUNDRED MILLIONS--and I complete system of subterranean drain- do not lightly hazard this estimateage-worthy of imperial Rome for soli- does not exceed the sum which was dity of structure-was equally in ad- transferred from the concerns of mervance of her sister cities. Her progress cantile activity, and absorbed in unprorequired and sustained these improve. ductive investments, made to develop ments. The rich trade of the West the trade, the agriculture, and above all, seemed destined by nature, aided by the mineral wealth of the interior. But the facilities of improved roads, to centre prodigies were achieved in various in Philadelphia. As the metropolis of parts of the state. The Schuylkill and the colonies, she became the capital of Susquehanna rivers were first united by the United States, under the laws of the a canal, and both afterwards connected Federal Union. Her trade to China and by the same kind of highway with South America was large, and secured Philadelphia. That vast arm of the Atgolden returns. The vessels of her mer- lantic, the Chesapeake Bay, was joined chants unfolded their canvas in almost by canal with the Delaware, whose noevery sea. Colossal fortunes were ble waters find a ready outlet to the sea. amassed by an expanded, intelligent, The Ohio River, at Pittsburgh, was made and successful commerce. Under the to communicate, by aqueduct, with the genial influences of kindly wealth, great northern lakes, at the town of Erie. heaven-blessed charities were founded, One of the great coal-fields of the state and conveniences, arts, and elegancies was brought to the gates of Philadelphia were multiplied." It forms a portion of by a fine canal and a noble railway; the letter I inflict on you, to recount the and innumerable other works, of present means by which these advantages were expense and future utility, were underlost, and how they can be restored, with taken and completed. Fifty miles at those accretions which time has accu- least of underground rail-roads, are said mulated.

to exist in Schuylkill county alone. While thus prosperous, and her com- The locks of the Lehigh canal are the mercial progress eminently onward, deepest and finest in the world; and Philadelphia became informed of the nothing can exceed in solidity and beaurich mineral wealth of the interior. The ty, the inclined planes and other artifivast deposits of coal and iron were social works of that opulent region. Of

[graphic]

Coal Trade-Erie Canal-Bank of the United States.

[ocr errors]

the coal mines and iron mines, of the construction of the great highway, canals and railways of the state, which which was made to Pittsburgh, the weswere undertaken on that day of blind tern trade refused the conveyance,-a and wanton expenditure, how few have conveyance, which was, in truth, of realized the dreams or satisfied the hopes such a nature as to confirm it inalienaof their ardent projectors! The geology bly to New-York. of the state had not been explored, the The chain which was to bind Philaart of mining was imperfectly under- delphia with the West was not continustood, and the science of engineering, ous and unbroken; composed of interso yclept, was marked only by improvi. mingling and welded links; but severdence, by fraud, and by blunders. These ed, disjointed, fragmentary. It was an gigantic efforts, like all premature and amphibious connection of land and water, undigested schemes, were fruitful only consisting of two railways separated by of sad results to the undertakers. The canal, and of two canals separated by coal trade was to be nurtured and ma- railway-happily elucidating the defects tured by slow degrees; it is yet in its peculiar to both modes of transit, with infancy, and only now beginning to re- the advantages of neither. This imward its owners. The iron manufacture, provement being useless as a competitor which was called into existence by the of the Erie Canal, and other projects protective system, must, in order to flour. being unfinished, the public works disish, be sustained by the stability of appointed private hope in the benefits genial legislation. Exposed to the ca- they promised, and public hope in the prices of fluctuating sentiment, and the unprofitable burden they imposed. The evils of a step-dame policy, it continues commonwealth, oppressed by her debt, to cripple or ruin the manufacturer. and the citizens impoverished by their

While the commercial capital was losses, the western irade alienated and thus wasting away, and the commercial the foreign trade neglected and diminspirit absorbed by momentous projects ishing, Pennsylvania presented the reat a distance, the Erie Canal was verg. verse side of her early picture—one not ing to completion. It was intended to pleasing to contemplate, but, I presume, conduct, by the way of the lakes to less painful and humiliating in the reNew-York, that western trade which membrance and retrospect, than in the had been the exclusive property of experience and reality. Philadelphia. The object was fully at- These misfortunes were accompanied tained. By this artificial highway, our or quickly followed by others. Severe natural heritage. the trade of the West losses in the China trade ruined some of was transferred to a sagacious and vigi. the largest ship-owners, and unwisely lant rival. For a time, our shrewdest led to the total abandonment, at our citizens were too much amused and de- port, of this lucrative branch of comlighted with their mountain treasures in merce. In the gloom which pervaded the interior, to perceive the decline of the commercial ranks of society, sonie their foreign commerce, and the adverse of our most astute and enterprising merturn of the coinmercial tide in their do- chants removed to New York, and aided mestic trade. The state, animated by by their capital and intelligence to build a proper spirit towards her metropolis, up that prosperity, to which the acquisidetermined not to submit, an unresisting tion of the western trade and the foreign viction, to an inversion of the natural commerce of Philadelphia had largely laws of trade. She planned a grand contributed. Other melancholy events scheme of internal improvements, which succeeded. The Bank of the United proposed, among its primary objects, the States, though situated in this city, did irrevocable appropriation to herself of not render such accommodations to the the western produce and markets, and a business community here as were favorpart of the commerce of the lakes. able to the growth of the foreign, or the This theory, if prosecuted with the in- enlargement of the coasting trade. Still telligence and forecast which gave it paper money was so abundant as to birth, would have neutralized the effects foster remote enterprises, and lead of the Erie Canal, and intercepted the to many visionary and extravagant fame of Clinton, by underinining or re- schenies. The bankruptcy of that great moving the base of its monument. But institution, so long the cherished object owing to irretrievable mistakes in the of our pride and confidence, was as sud. den as the descent of an avalanche. as the sponge, such a measure of relief as Other financial disasters followed it, in repudiation. The sentiment of both the quick succession. These failures sud- great political parties in the state, at a denly contracted, within the narrowest time of deep despondency and unusual limits, a currency of unusual expansion, excitement, was united-without one and threatened to involve our people in single wrong-headed exception among a general insolvency. Prices, which the adherents of either-in favor of a had been unnaturally inflated, became speedy resumption, and the honorable so depressed as to be merely nominal. redemption of the public faith. A rigid All exchange of commodities was at an system of economy was introduced into end, negotiations of sale and purchase all the departments of administrationstopped, and the payment of debts by retrenchment of expenses, reduction ceased. The banking capital of the city of salaries, and discontinuance of the was reduced by the simple process of public works. These measures could annihilation, from fifty-one millions to have in view but the one object of payeleven millions of dollars! Where ruddy ment. In order to meet the demands of health, perhaps unnatural plethora, had the treasury and pay off the public crediappeared, all was paleness and dejec- tor, the improvements of the state which tion, wan extenuation, and prostrate were finished, were offered for sale to syncope. If a volcano had opened its the highest bidder. But the currency fiery jaws in our midst, or an earthquake was distrusted or gone. There was no had shaken the firmest edifices to their representative of value, and pecuniary foundations, the popular terror could not means were hoarded or inaccessible. have been more complete, the distress No bidder could be found who had the and dismay could not have been more courage or ability to make an offer. painful or pervading. The multitudes The calamities of shipwreck marked the over the state, who had entered into en- ravages of that fearful storm. When its gagements in a moment of universal fury was spent, and the eye could coolly confidence, and upon the faith of fair scan the track of the hurricane, nothing but deceptive appearances, as they but blight and desolation met the view. were unable to pay, were quickly requir- Persons accustomed to opulence were ed to make liquidation.

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]

reduced to the extremity of indigence. One of the most humiliating conse- Our fair city, as a community, lost aggrequences to Pennsylvania, of that season gately an immense amount of capital, of gloom and consternation, was the pre- varying according to the principles of sent inability of the commonwealth to different estimates, between FIFTY AND meet her obligations. She suspended the EIGHTY MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. But payment of interest on her debt, and enough has been said to account for the issued certificates in the place of money. diminution of Philadelphia commerce. No private person of mature age, or re- The next question occurs, how it is to sponsible character, that I ever heard of, be regained-but I will defer the conno public man of any faction, and no state sideration of this topic to another day. paper of any description, ever counseled In the mean time, believe me to be, or hinted at such a scheme of redress yours, very truly, &c.

Caraccas-Earthquake of 1812—Remains of Bolivar.

[ocr errors]

of which are engaged in agriculture. a handsome manner. Bolivar or IndeOnly a few years ago the Colombian pendence Square is the principal one; Republic was a united affair between it is used to-day as a market and paradeseveral states, prosperous and advancing ground. Near by is the cathedral and in all the advantages of life and action; the bishop's Palace, with some two or but revolution after revolution breaking three convents. out, Bolivar dying, left the country in In the cathedral, on a bier covered civil war; the military chieftains of that with black velvet, worked with silver day, ali, no doubt, well-wishers of their stars, lamps continually burning around common country, but none individually-a railing surrounding the whole to able to carry out their liberal views for keep off intruders-lies in silent granits ultimate benefit, quarreling among deur the mortal remains of General and themselves. Circumstances unforeseen, President Bolivar, the liberator of his but no doubt repented of now, occurring, country, and the champion of freedom eventually compelled these states to be in South America. He died some years come the separate governments which ago in Carthagena, and at his own reto-day are recognized as such by the quest his remains were brought over and United States and Europe.

deposited there. His memory still lives Caraccas, the capital of Venezuela, in the hearts of his countrymen. is now being built up again very rapidly. The people of Caraccas are polished It lies in a vast plain, and from the tops and social, kind and hospitable to stranof the mountains which overlook it, gers. The city is very extensive, every north and south, it has a beautiful but house having a garden attached. Carsilent appearance. In 1812 an earth- riages are not used, but every one rides. quake destroyed its edifices, bridges, The beautiful environs of the town inroads, and killed nearly half of its inhab. vite one daily to take a walk, or a ride itants. The horrors of that time have on horseback, to enjoy its varied scenery. been narrated to me by an old Venezue. The trade of Venezuela is very extenlan, who says that "plunder and revo- sive, and we are, as neighbors and conlution, fire and famine, were the order of sumers, more interested in the developthe day.” Thousands of people, losing ment and increased success of its trade, everything, were compelled to emigrate, advantageous as it is to both of us, than thus leaving Caraccas deserted and a in that of any other nation. heap of ruins. But things are changing, Laguayra lies directly on the seaand this city bids fair again to reach the board, in latitude 10° 31' 52" north, and splendor of her ancient times. Carac. longitude 67° 7' 45" west. It derives cas is accessible to Bogota, Panama, its name from an Indian chief, who held Mexico, and even to Chili and Peru, by possession of it before the time of the the old stone roads made in the time of Spaniards. It is so situated that from the the Spaniards, but at present not used. mountains behind the town it affords the So covered are they with trees and dirt, visitor no other view than the ocean itthat it would be difficult to find out and self. But he is recompensed for his traclear them for use.

vel many thousand feet above, on his The mountains which divide Laguay- road to Caraccas. Everything is still ra from Caraccas are a branch of the and quiet, save the occasional noise of Andes, and continue through to New. the muleteer bell and call, or the sudden Granada. At present the population of flapping of the wings of the mountain Caraccas is about 70,000 souls; in 1812 eagle, as he rises and poises himself for it was 40,000.

a moment over the valley, and then This city can boast of many splendid skims off, perhaps to pay a visit to some buildings, such as churches, convents, friend on the other side of the Andes. public edifices, and bridges-many of The air is balmy and playful ; flowers of them the venerable and solid work of every hue, indigenous fruits, surround the old Spaniards. The president's you on all sides; and then the view, dwelling, the government-house, the when you are on a level with “Silla," or general quarters for the troops, and the "Saddle of Caraccas" - the noble town old Masonic Lodge-which, by-the-by, of Caraccas on the plain some thousands stood the shock of the earthquake and of feet below you on one side, the ocean many others, command the attention of on the other, little Laguayra like a speck the visitor. The squares are laid off in on the horizon, all tend to repay you for

VOL. XIV.

« PreviousContinue »