Imágenes de páginas

The popu:


lets, towns, factories, churches, and schools. Rochester numbered 1,500 inhabitants in the year 1820, and 15,000 in 1835. Buffalo had 2,000 inhabitants in 1820, and 16,000 in 1835.* lation of Albany and New York doubled itself in this period; and the latter city took the start, which it will doubtless keep, of Philadelphia and Baltimore. The comparatively small state of New York, not satisfied with having constructed out of its own resources and by its own exertions, the longest canal in the world, kept on in the way in which it had begun, and had in the year 1839+ about 850 miles of canals with 547 locks, on which there were annually transported goods to the value of 100 millions of thalers, and the amount of toll collected was on an average about two millions of thalers. Although the canals are shut up for from three to four months in the winter, there went in one year through the lock at Schenectady 24,000, and through Alexander's lock 26,000 boats and rafts, or very frequently ten boats on an average within the hour.

In the year 1836 there went through the Erie canal, 48,777 boats.

the Champlain canal, 6,782

all the canals, 67,270 For 2,700 miles, from New York to New Orleans, river navigation has since been in most successful operation; and the length of the completed canals amounted in the year 1836 to 2,723 miles. The canals in Pennsylvania yielded about 6, and those in New York about 8 per cent interest. The costs of transportation were every where extraordinarily diminished, and the time shortened. ||

The length of canals finished in the young state of Ohio is reckoned at 767 miles.

Ramsay as early as 1784, and Fitch in 1785, had fully worked out the theoretical problem of the feasibility of propelling a vessel by steam ; but when Fitch and Fulton prophesied the coming wonders of steam-engines and steamboats, they were misunderstood and laughed at. In the year 1807, Fulton built the first steamboat at Pittsburg; and in 1838 the number of steamengines in the United States was reckoned 3,000; of which about 800 were used in steamboats, 350 on railroads, and the rest in factories.** Their power was estimated at that of 100,000 horses; * Buffalo shipped

in 1832,

in 1837, Wheat, bushels, 100,000 450,000 Flour, barrels, 21,000 126,000 Tobacco, pounds, 772,000 1,215,000 Butter,

780,000 1,100,000 Ashes, do. 2,546,000 3,467,000 (Official Report of 1838, p. 285.) † Gerstner, p. 19.

Of course the amount differs in different years. Ś Stevenson's Engineering, p. 213. Tanner, Canals, p. 22. || Poussin, Puissance Américaine, ii. 137. | American Almanac for 1844, p. 279. ** M'Culloch's Dict., append. Steam-vessels.


though one engine alone drew from Boston to Lowell a weight of 524,000 pounds. * In Louisville, from 1819 to 1838, 244 steam-engines were constructed; and in Cincinnati, during the year 1836, 35 steamboats. In the year 1835, one steamer only navigated the great lakes; but in 1839, after the opening of the Welland and Erie canal, the number of steamers amounted to 61.f The fare from Buffalo to Chicago, 1000 miles, is twenty dollars, meals included. The young state of Ohio possesses more steamboats than France; and there are as many steamers on Lake Erie as in the Mediterraneant. The passage from Pittsburg down to New Orleans formerly lasted two months; and the return passage, with enormous expenses and exertions, 'four months: they are now accomplished in about 8 and 16 days respectively. Indeed formerly the vessels were mostly broken up at New Orleans, and the crews returned with unspeakable toil and danger by land. The American steamboats, especially those on the Mississippi, are some of them of extraordinary size; they have three decks and as many as 400 beds.|| Formerly the number of accidents was greater; owing to the badness of the boilers, the wanton running of races, obstructions in the rivers, &c. Misfortune however has produced greater prudence, T many obstacles have been removed, the authorities exercise a stricter supervision, and penalties have been prescribed for negligence. After all, the loss of life from these dangers of peace is not greater than what takes place in Europe in so-called reviews and shambattles.

In the year 1825, the first railroad in North America was begun; in 1836 there were 1600 miles completed, and now there are double that number. Many of these undertakings, it is true, have failed; others however yield an interest of 8 per cent., and the average

is said to amount to 51 per cent. In 1832 the state of New York did not possess a single railroad; in 1839 it had already 440 miles. Most of the rails are of wood, with considerable ascents and very bold turns; they are nearly all traversed by locomotives.** The transportation of goods amounts to only about one eighth that of passengers.

In New England the land for the most part was dearer, and the obstacles were greater, than in the other states; which enhanced the expenses considerably. The roads however are

* Gerstner, i. 265. † Gerstner, pp. 368, 372. North Amer. Review, xlvii. 34. American Almanac, 1837, p. 192.

| Chevalier’s Communications, i. 41. § Buckingham's Slave States, i. 405.

il Buckingham's Eastern States, i. 24. Information on Steam-engines, 1838. (Official Documents.)

American Almanac for 1835, p. 116; for 1840, p. 112. ** Gerstner, p. 280.

better constructed, the charges are no higher, and the speed even greater. In Massachusetts, the laws allow a profit of 10 per cent.; but the state can buy in the roads 20 years after their construction. In the year 1840, about 337 miles had been completed in Massachusetts, and had been traversed by 749,000 persons.*

In Pennsylvania too a great many canals and railroads have been begun. Although no accurate account has been furnished as to how many of them are completed, the tolls in 1839 already amounted to $1,142,000.1

A great many experiments have been tried in the United States, to ascertain the best mode of laying down railroads, on account of the peculiar dangers to which they are exposed during the very severe winters. Their cost however is diminished by the cheapness of timber and land. It amounts to from 1800 to 12,000, and on an average to 5,000 pounds sterling, per mile.In England the expenses are increased by the fact that all the preliminary steps, including the sanction of Parliament, cost a great deal of money, and that the rate of going is faster there than in America.

There are, with very few exceptions, only one class of carriages, which in quality may be compared in general with the second class of German carriages. They travel no faster in America than in Europe; but they make fewer stoppages on the route than in Germany. With us the number of officials is beyond comparison greater than in America: a proof that even our free companies are infected with bureaucracy and the thirst for overgoverning. Accidents moreover do not arise from the want of officers. The fares are much higher than with us; which must proceed in part from the small number of travellers. Yet President Tyler complains in his message of 1841, and with great justice, of the injurious consequences of the monopoly of railroads; in Europe also these are becoming intolerable, except where the legislature has interfered to regulate them.—Many railroads terminate in the hearts of cities; but for the last mile or two the cars are drawn by horses. Almost every where there are separate baggage-places for the principal hotels, whose cars and waiters take care of all to the traveller's satisfaction.

* Amer. Almanac for 1841, pp. 190, 202. † Tanner, Canals and Railroads, p. 22.




History of Banking-The National Bank-Opponents of Banks—Theory of Banko

ing-Paper-Money-Abuses of Banking—Misfortunes through the Banks-Jackson's Measures-Bank Laws, New Defects—Specie and Paper Currency Sub-Treasury Bill—Exchequer Bill-Hopes and Prospects.

[ocr errors]

ADMIRABLE as is the activity and even the boldness with which the United States have labored for internal improvements of every kind, it would be difficult to justify the manner in which they have ordered, or rather have plunged into the greatest disorder, their currency and banking affairs. Nay, notwithstanding repeated and bitter experiences, they have not yet discovered the right path; or else they allow themselves to be seduced from it anew into error and injustice.

When, after the peace of 1783, the before mentioned difficulties from public debt and the old paper-money arose, a few pointed out with judicious moderation the advantages that would result from founding a national bank. Others, without any thorough insight into the matter, gave themselves up at once to the erroneous belief, that in this way wonders would be accomplished, and countless wealth conjured up with the greatest ease. First arose the question, whether Congress had the right to found or authorize such a bank. The Constitution does not expressly determine any thing on the subject; but it gives to Congress the control of the money and coinage, and decrees that nothing but gold and silver shall be made a legal tender of payment. This plain provision was doubtless adopted in view of the evils and sufferings caused by the old paper-money; and the object undeniably was, to render the recurrence of such a state of things impossible. The assertion or opinion, that bank-notes which can be converted at pleasure into gold and silver are not papermoney, and interfere in no respect with the circulation of the metals, was of essential assistance to the friends of banking institutions; so much so that Washington, after an anxious investigation and many doubts, gave his assent, in the year 1791, o the founding of a principal bank, which should issue notes under five dollars and upwards, to be redeemed in specie on lemand, under penally of paying 12 per cent. interest on them.

The govern

At the same time there kept springing up in the several states, and with their permission, a number of local smaller banks, with respect to the advantages and disadvantages of which there has always prevailed a difference of views.

When the charter of the old United States bank expired, in the year 1811, many pressed for a renewal of the same; others opposed it, on good or bad grounds; and it was not till after several years' experience of the monetary embarrassments which ensued, that the bank of the United States was rechartered, in 1816, for twenty years. Its capital was to consist of 7 millions of dollars in gold and silver, and 28 millions in specie or United States stocks, to be received at various rates.* ment was to subscribe 7 millions of this capital, and to draw from it a proportionate income. One and a half millions of dollars were paid in instalments by the bank for its charter. In addition to the general reasons in favor of the usefulness and necessity of such an institution, it was affirmed that a national bank creates a uniform medium of exchange between the different states of the Union; facilitates all the transactions of commerce; takes charge of the surplus funds of the government, attends to its receipts and payments in the several states, and compels the smaller and local banks to adopt a reasonable and just course of proceeding, which hitherto they had by no means done.

Long before the charter of the new bank had expired, its friends and opponents engaged in a violent controversy. By thorough investigations, by speeches and writings of various kinds, they sought to exhaust the reasons for and against it, and to arrive at an accurate and full knowledge of the truth. Notwithstanding this, opinions still remained divided, and party aims in full force. The majority of both houses declared in favor of retaining the bank ; President Jackson, however, opposed this resolution, and two thirds of both houses were not found to annul his veto. After this veto, opinions were still more divided than before; and what some called exceedingly salutary and essential, was designated by others as destructive and arbitrary.

All questions respecting currency and banking were at that time discussed with such a show of pretended science,--and reasons, means, and consequences were displayed with such hairsplitting nicety,—that most persons were incapable of following out the trains of reasoning to their conclusions, but swore by the words of some pretended master, and blew through his trumpet. Some sought to justify, or at least to represent as natural, all that the great bank or the small banks had done; while others unspar

* Perkins, p. 48. Warden, iii. 443. Schmidt über den Zustand der vereinigten Staaten, i. 418.

« AnteriorContinuar »