Page images

rivers, in James Bay; at the mouth of the Severn, the - Nelson, and Churchill rivers; and on the rivers, particularly on the Saskashawin, along which five or six trading houses are established, the furthest of which is 600 miles west of Hudson's Bay. At these places the traders purchase skins from the savages, who collect them from all parts of a vast uncultivated region. The value of the exports of this company, in peltry, amounts to thirty thousand pounds sterling a year. 928. History. The Labrador coast was discovered as early as 1498 by Sebastian Cabot, who penetrated into the sea between Greenland and the main, now called Davis's Strait, from the navigator who made, a voyage thither in 1585. Capt. Hudson first entered the bay of his name in 1610. Many other voyages were made to this cold and inhospitable region, without any permanent advantages, until a company obtained a charter for the exclu-sive trade in furs, and began settlements for that purpose. 929. Hearne’s Exhedition. In 1770, Mr. Hearne departed from Prince of Wales fort, on Churchill river, to explore the northern country, and especially a river, near which the savages represented were rich mines of copper. Mr. Hearne travelled from December to July, in that dismal region, and discovered the river calied Copper Mine river, on which he descended till he reached the sea, which was then not free from ice. After encountering indescribable hardships, he returned safe to the fort in June 1772. 930. Mackenzie’s Voyage. In 1789, sir Alexander Mackenzie, a gentleman concerned in the Canada fur trade, departed from Montreal, and proceeded by the river Utawas, lake Nepissing, French river, lakes Huron and Superior, to the lake of the Woods and the Winipic; then by several small lakes and rivers, to Elk river and Slave lake, and thence by a large river now ealled Mackenzie, to the tide waters of the northern ocean. In 1793, the same gentleman pursued the course of the Unjigah or Peace river, and arrived at the Pacific Ocean in the 53d degree of north latitude. 931. Bermuda. A cluster of islands in the Atlantic, about 500 miles from }. continent, in the 33d degree of

north latitude, belong to Great Britain, being settled by the English in 1612. They lie in the form of a Shepherd's crook. They are usually called the Bermudas, ` from a Spanish discoverer; but sometimes Sommer Isles, from Sir George Sommers, who was shipwrecked there in 1609. The climate is excellent, but most of the islands are mere rocks. The principal one is inhabited by about 6000 English people, and 5000 slaves, and the chief town, St. Georges, contains 500 houses. The inhabitatits subsist chiefly by navigation; especially by collecting salt at Turk's Island for export. In time of war, their privateers infest the trade of the United States. 932. Bahamas. The Bahamas are a chain of 4 or 500 isles, between Florida and Hayti, one of which, now called Cat Island, was the first American land discovered by Columbus in 1492. Five only of these islands are inhabited. The original inhabitants were transported to labor in the mines of Hayti, or Hispaniola, in which service they perished. These islands were the resort of pirates, till about the year 1720, when the English dislodged them and began a plantation. The chief town is Nassau, or New-Providence, which is the seat of government. The inhabitants of these islands are not numerous. The principal product is cotton; but ambergris is found about the islands, and the inhabitants take great numbers of turtle. 933. West India Isles. The isles constituting what are usually understood by the West Indies, form an immense chain in the Atlantic, lying in the direction of south east and north west, between the longitude of 60 and 85 degrees west of London, and between 10 and 23 degrees north latitude. The eastern part of the chain bends to the southward, and approaches the continent of America. The isles at this end are called Caribbees, or the Charibbean isles, from the name of the primitive inhabitants. They are also called Antilles, but this name is by some geographers confined to Cuba, Hayti, Jamaica, Porto Rico, and some neighboring small islands. These islands belong to European nations. 934. Cuba. The largest island is Cuba, which extends about 700 miles in length, between the 74th and

[ocr errors]

86th degrees of west longitude. Its bredth is not more

- than 70 miles. It is 100 miles south of the point of

Florida, and 90 north of Jamaica. A chain of moun-
tains runs through the island, but the soil is very rich.
It was settled by the Spaniards in 1511, who still possess
it, but its inhabitants are only about 30,000 Spaniards,
and 25,000 slaves. It produces sugar, coffee, tobacco
of excellent flavor, spices, cassia, and other tropical
plants and fruits. The chief town is Havanna, which is
well fortified, contains 2000 houses, and is the center of
Spanish trade in America.
935. Hayti. Eastward from Cuba lies' Hayti, the
first island which the Spaniards settled in America, and
the second in size. It is called St. Domingo and His-
paniola. It is about 450 miles long and 200 broad, and
when first discovered, contained a million of inhabitants,
who soon fell victims to Spanish avarice, being con-
demned to the mines, and to every other hardship and

indignity. This island was divided between the French

and Spaniards. The chief town of the Spaniards is St. Domingo, on the south side of the island; and the whole Spanish population is computed at 125,000 souls. They are remarkable for pride, laziness and poverty; and sub

-sist chiefly by the sale of cattle to the French.

.936. French flossessions in Hayti. The northern part of Hayti was peopled by the French, who imported Asricans to cultivate their land. In the year 1790, the white inhabitants were at least 40,000, and the blacks 600,000 souls. The colony had become extremely rich, chiefly by its vast exports of sugar, coffee, cotton and indigo, which, with a few other trifling commodities, amounted to 34 millions of dollars a year. In 1790, the French government granted the privileges of French citizens to free people of color, which excited the resentment of the whites and generated animosities, which broke out into open revolt, and in June 1793, Cape Francois was burnt

and the inhabitants massacred by the blacks and molat

toes. By a series of Inurders, and open war, the blacks have expelled the whites, and now possess the French part of the island.


937. Jamaica. Jamaica lies about 90 miles south of Cuba in the 18th degree of north latitude. It was settled by the Spaniards, and continued in their possession, till 1656, when it was conquered by the English, who still possess it. It is about 150 miles in length, and about 40 in medial bredth. It is mountainous, but contains excellent land, and is far the richest English island. It produces the sugar cane, cocoa, ginger, pimento, indigo, maiz, and all the tropical plants and fruits. Its exports, of which sugar of an excellent quality is the most valuable, amount to upwards of 9 millions of dollars annually. It contains 30,000 whites; 250,000 slaves; 10,000 free blacks, and 1400 maroons; 7 12 sugar plantations, and 20 parishes. Its ancient capital Port Royal was destroyed by an earthquake in 1693; since which Kingston has been the chief town. It contains 26,000 inhabitants, and is a place of great trade and opulence. 938. Porto Rico. Porto Rico, an island belonging to the Spaniards, is in the 19th degree of north latitude, about 60 miles east of Hayti; it is 120 miles long, and 40 broad, and contains 80,000 inhabitants. The face of the island is diversified with hills and vallies, and the soil is of remarkable fertility, but the climate is insalubrious. It abounds with cattle, horses and mules, and contains about 6000 plantations. The chief exports are sugar, ginger, cotton and melasses, with various fruits, drugs and sweet meats. 939. English Caribbean isles. Barbadoes, in the 14th degree of north latitude, was settled by the English in 1624. It is twenty miles by thirteen in size, contains about 16,000 whites, and 63,000 blacks, and exports annually commodities to the amount of more than two millions of dollars. Grenada was first settled by the French in 1632, but was afterwards taken by the English. It lies in the 12th degree of north latitude, 30 leagues from Barbadoes, and is in size twenty-eight mileš by thirteen. The white inhabitatants are about 1000, and the blacks 26,000. Its annual exports amount to two millions and a half of dollars. Many small isles in the vicinity, called Grenadines, are dependent on Grenada. Antigua, in the 18th degree of north latitude, is

fifteen miles by ten in size, and contains 2:00 whites and
38,000 blacks. It has a rich soil, but is subject to ex-
treme drouth, and there is not a spring or stream of
fresh water on the island. Its annual exports are about
two millions and a third, in value.
940. St. Christofthers and Dominica. St. Christophers
of St. Kitts, in the 18th degree of north latitude, and
twenty miles by seven in size, was settled by the English
in 1623, and is therefore the oldest British settlement in
the West Indies. Its white inhabitants are computed
at 6000, and the blacks at 36,000. Its annual exports are
about the value of two millions of dollars. Dominica
in the 16th degree of north latitude, between Guadaloupe
and Martínico, is 29 by 16 miles in extent, and contains
1200 whites and 15,000 blacks. Its annual exports are
in value about thirteen hundred thousand dollars. The
English possess also St. Vincents, Anguilla, Nevis and
Montserrat; smaller isles, but resembling the others in
ciimate and productions.
941. French Caribbean isles. Martinico in the 15th
degree of north latitude, is about 60 miles by 30 in ex-
tent. It was settled in 1635, and contains about 15,000
whites and 72,000 blacks. It is hilly, but fertile; pro-
ducing annually twenty-three million pounds of sugar,
besides coffee, cotton and cocoa. It contains 28 parish-
es, and two considerable towns, Port Royal and St. Pierre.
Guadaloupe, in the 17th degree of north latitude, is 45
miles by 38 in extent, and was settled in 1635. Its pro-
ductions are the same in kind and nearly the same in
quality as in Martinico. But it has a volcanic moun-
tain, where sulphur is collected, and which ejects smoke
and sometimes fire. St. Lucia, 6 leagues south of Mar-
tinico, is 27 miles by 12 in extent, contains about 3000
whites and 10,000 blacks, and exports to the value of half
a million of dollars. Tobago, in the 12th degree of
north latitude, is 32 miles by 12 in extent, and is a valua-
ble island. -
942. Danish, Swedish and Dutch Islands. Santa Cruse,
in the 18th degree of north latitude, is about 30 miles by
8 in extent and contains 3000 whites and 30,000 slaves.
Its productions for export are chiefly sugar and rum.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »