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who should attribute the decay of the Roman Empire to the emancipation of its slaves.
A far more potent cause can be found for this remarkable change. The Provinces of the Republic were governed by Pro-consuls, Prætors, and other officers, who were seldom held accountable for their conduct towards those subjected to their control. It was the object of the governor to amass as much wealth as possible, and esteemed a great merit to return with such riches as might enable him to expend at Rome large sums for the amusement and support of the populace. This was the high road to favor and political preferment. The exactions from the distant provinces became more and more oppressive and grinding, until their wealth was exhausted. After their ruin was complete, Italy itself was resorted to, and the ingenuity of the Emperors was exereised in inventing schemes of taxation and modes of extortion. As the system became more and more oppressive, industry was discouraged and idleness rewarded. Who would labor when the product of his exertions was to be seized and given to the indolent and lazy? The people abandoned the fields, and flocked to the cities to receive the largesses and live on the bounties of the government. The population of Rome continued enormously large on account of the expenditures made there, while the rural districts were wasted and deserted. The condition of the Empire resembled that of a dying man, when the diminished vital energies cease to send the blood to the extremities, and it returns to, and is collected about, the heart.
In our day we have a similar example presented by the Ottoman Empire, that "sick man" whose effects hold out such strong temptations to the avidity of the greedy and ambitious. Its provinces, naturally so fertile, and once so prosperous, have been so long plundered by the various functionaries that have immediate control of them, that they are in a wasted and dying condition, while Constantinople is the point of attraction and expenditure.
The immense British corporation which has so long controlled India, and its population of one hundred and seventy millions, is draining that country of its wealth, with a skill and efficiency, and a completeness which throws entirely into the shade, the clumsy methods of plunder practiced hitherto by barbarians. The rebellion still prevailing there, seems to be a struggle, it may be only a deathstruggle, to shake off the gigantic vampyre, which will otherwise draw the last drops of blood from the heart of its victim.
The great principle which I would deduce from all these examples is, that while feeble States may be ruined by powerful neighbors, who are hostile, great Empires have always been destroyed by their own governments. A small State, if safe from external violence, can watch over, and restrain within due bounds, its own rulers, but in large ones the central power is so great, and its territories so extensive and remote, that there cannot usually be sufficient understanding and concert of action among the sufferers, to enable them to make an effective opposition. In fact, where resistence begins in any section, the other portions of the Empire can generally be used for its suppression, before any extended organization can be effected. It thus has
usually happened, that the oppression of the government has continued and increased until it has weakened and destroyed, in a great measure, the country subject to its domination.
Having some years ago attempted to present this view, I hope now to be excused for repeating it, because I think it can be shown that the great danger to us in the future is one of this kind. To a prosperous system of agriculture, then, it may be assumed that there should exist a territory of sufficient fertility, with a congenial climate, an intelligent and energetic race af men, and such a political and social system as will afford security to industry, and stimulate rather than depress its activity.
North Carolina has fifty thousand square miles of territory-just about the area of England. But while England, exclusive of Scotland and Wales, has a population of seventeen millions, North Carolina has barely one million. If this difference is not to continue, can we ever equal, or even approximate the population of England? When at Washington, persons comparatively strangers to our State, often have said to me, "So you are from the piney region of North Carolina." They sometimes seemed surprised when I told them that the section from which I came was more remote from that district covered with pines than Washington City itself, and even less like it in its external features. The fact that the principal lines of travel through our State have been along that comparatively narrow belt of level pine forest, has made most persons from abroad suppose that the whole State is of that character.
It was in the month of July, 1584, that the first Europeans who ever touched the shores of any one of the old thirteen States, approached the coast of North Carolina, under the command of Amidas and Barlowe. In the report to Sir Walter Raleigh, drawn up by the latter, it is said that two days before they came in sight of the land, "We smelled so sweet and so strong a smell, as if we had been in the midst of some delicate garden, abounding with all kinds of odoriferous flowers." On reaching the land it was found "so full of grapes, as the very beating and surge of the sea overflowed them, of which we found such plenty, as well there as in all places else, both on the sand and on the green soil, on the hills as in the plains, as well on every little shrub, as also climbing the tops of high cedars, that I think in all the world the like abundance is not to be found; and myself having seen those parts of Europe that most abound, find such difference as were incredible to be written." Inside of the long narrow tract of islands, along which they coasted for two hundred miles, they found what "appeared another great sea," between them and the main land. Everywhere they were struck with surprise, as they beheld the variety, the magnitude and beauty of the forest trees, which not only surpassed those of "Bohemia, Muscovia or Hercynia," but "bettering the cedars of the Azores, of the Indies, or Lybanus."
Two years later, after a residence of twelve months on the main land, with a party of colonists, Ralph Lane declared "the main to be the goodliest soil under the cope of Heaven;" "the goodliest and most pleasing territory in the world," "and the climate so wholesome, that
we had not one sick since we touched the land here." He affirms that if it "had but horses and kine in some reasonable proportion, I dare assure myself, being inhabited with English, no realm in Christendom were comparable to it. For this already, we find, that what commodities soever Spain, France, or Italy, or the East parts, do yield to us, &c., these parts do abound with the growth of them all, and sundry other rich commodities, that no parts of the world, be they West or East Indies, have, here we find the greatest abundance of."
When we contemplate North Carolina at the present day, we recognize the features here described. There is on the coast the same long line of low sandy islands, probably formed by the deposits of sediment, where the fluvial waters from the interior are checked in their course by the opposing current of the Gulf stream. With the exception of the fine harbor of Beaufort, there are the same difficult inlets which terrified these early voyagers, and on their maps were marked with figures of sinking ships. Inside of the range there are the same broad and shallow seas, most abundantly supplied with fish, and those other inhabitants of the deep, which are alike calculated to minister to the necessities and luxuries of mankind. On the "main" there are lands not inferior in fertility to the famous Deltas of the Nile, or the Mississippi. Cultivation for one hundred successive years, in the most exhausting of the grain crops, has not diminished their productiveness. Though it has cost something to render these swamp lands suitable for cultivation, yet no agricultural investment ever made in America, perhaps, yields a better return; and this fact affords another illustration of the truth, that Providence has decreed that the best things in life shall cost labor to attain them. And yet, up to this time but a small proportion, many persons think not one-fiftieth part, of the swamp lands in the eastern portion of the State have been put in cultivation. When, after the manner of Holland, all this region shall have been reclaimed, the entire present population of the State might be removed to it, without being able to cultivate the half of it. Almost every portion of it, too, is penetrated by navigable streams. Passing inward a hundred miles, or more from the coast, we reach that belt of pine land, which was formerly regarded as only valuable for its timber, and naval stores generally, but which latter experiments show, may, without difficulty, be rendered highly productive. By the application of marl or lime, it has been ascertained that most of this region can be made to yield abundant crops both of cotton and the cereals. Westward of this, there stretches for two or three hundred miles a moderately elevated, undulating country, presenting almost every variety of landscape, soil and production. At its extreme borders, there rises up a mountainous region, with bolder scenery and a more bracing climate. Few of our citizens realize the extent of this district, or are aware of the fact that it is three hundred miles in length, and has probably more than thirty peaks that surpass in altitude Mount Washington, long regarded as the most elevated point in the Atlantic States. Though this region does not present the glacier fields and eternal snows of the Alps, yet their want is amply atoned for, by a vegetation rich as the tropics
themselves can boast of. Rocky masses, of immense height and mag nitude, and long ridges and frightful precipices are to be found; but the prevailing character of this section is one of such fertility that the forest trees attain their most magnificent proportions on the sides, and even about the tops of the highest mountains. There, too, are to be seen those strange, treeless tracts, which the aboriginal inhabitants supposed to be the foot-prints of the "Evil One," as he stepped from mountain to mountain. Their smooth, undulating surfaces, covered with waving grasses, suggest far different associations to the present beholders. The landscape is variegated, too, by tracts of thirty and even forty miles in extent, covered with dense forests of the balsam fir trees, appearing in the distance dark as "the plumage of the raven's wing," and green carpets of elastic moss, and countless vernal flowers, among which the numerous species of the azalia, the kalmia, and the rhododendron, especially, contend in the variety, delicacy and brilliancy of their hues. From the sides of the mountains flow cold and limpid streams along broad and beautiful valleys. Though such a region as this can never weary the eye, its chief merit is, that almost every part of it is fitted to be occupied by, and to minister to the wants of man.
Our State, from the seashore to its western limit, is probably as well watered as any equal extent of territory on the face of the globe; and, in all the middle and upper portions, the supply of water power is inexhaustible. In fact, there are single rivers, such as the Catawba and French Broad, or "Racing river" of the Cherokees, which are sufficient to move the machinery of a State. Throughout our entire territory there are no barren wastes, and rarely a square mile to be found which cannot maintain its proportionate share of population. In all its parts, too, the variety, magnitude, and beauty of its forest trees, fully sustain the encomiums of those early explorers. While the seaboard counties have those peculiar to that region-like the cypress, juniper, live-oak, and the gigantic pines of the swamps, fit to become the "masts of great Admirals"-and the mountains such varieties as are suited to a hardier climate, the State, as a whole, seems to contain representatives of almost all the trees of the North American forest, in their fullest and grandest development, and to afford in the greatest profusion all manner of timber and beautiful woods for the uses of the artificer.
When we look beneath the surface of the earth, there are abundant objects of interest. North Carolina has the distinction of being the first of all the governments of the world that ordered a geological survey of its territory; and she has, in my opinion, a greater variety of mineral substances than any single State of the Union. Not only does she present the diamond, platinum, gold, silver, and many other substances, interesting to the man of science for their rarity, or attractive to the lovers of ornament for their beauty, but she possesses in great abundance those minerals which add most to the wealth and permanent prosperity of a State. Though her coal measures are not perhaps as extensive as those of some of the other States, yet they are
sufficiently so to be inexhaustible; while the coals are of the very best quality for fuel, for the making of gas, and for the manufacture of iron. With respect to the ores of iron, I think she may fairly claim to be the first of all the States, because she has not only all such ores as they possess, in the greatest abundance, but she is the only one known to contain the rare and valuable "black band ore," and that in quantities vastly surpassing the deposits in Scotland itself. When, therefore, we look to the coal measures on Deep river, and find all these ores in the greatest abundance, overlying or between the coal seams themselves, and consider all the advantages of this locality, we can hardly doubt the correctness of the opinion expressed by the most experienced miners and manufacturers of iron, that, when proper outlets are opened, by the completion of the works of improvement now in progress, iron can be there made and transported to Wales, and sold at as cheap rate as that for which the Welsh manufacturers now afford the article.
Extensive beds of valuable marl are ascertained to exist over almost the entire eastern portion of the State, and afford the means of making fertile most parts of that section. Recent examinations have brought to light to so great an extent, lime, copper ores, and other valuable minerals, as to satisfy every one that North Carolina is eminently fortunate in her geological formations.
The agricultural productions of the State are not less varied than its surface and soils. I know of no article grown in New England or New York that cannot be obtained with less labor and at lower rates in the mountain regions of North Carolina. Whatever the middle and western States of the Union yield, can be produced in abundance, not only in the central parts, but, in fact, all over our State. While tobacco. may be profitably grown in almost every portion of it, some of the northern counties produce varieties equal, and probably superior, to what old Virginia herself, or any other part of the world, grows. Cotton of fine qualities is produced in the lower counties, in as great quantity to the acre and with as high profits as in the southwestern States. The progress this culture has of late made with us, when we consider the large area suitable to it, renders it probable that, at no distant day, North Carolina will take rank among the first cotton States of the Union. The rice of the Cape Fear is esteemed equal to the best in the world, and its culture may be largely extended in that region. The lowland counties of the east and northeast, as producers of breadstuffs, are destined to be to the adjacent regions what Egypt was in the time of the Pharaohs.
The grape is indigenous in every part of the State, from Currituck to Cherokee: and among the hundreds of native varieties that are from time to time brought to light, after the neglect and waste of centuries, there are doubtless many which will equal, possibly surpass, the delicious Scuppernong of the Albemarle region, and the famous Catawba of Buncombe. With such indications, and our favorable soils and climate, why may we not in time approximate the vintages of France and Germany?