Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

will injure it. An acquaintance with a few well established principles of agricultural science will give the farmer this knowledge. Our Agricultural College will do much to impart it, but a geological survey conducted on the principle and embracing the wide scope we have sug pested, will do much more. Indeed, much of the good which has been anticipated from that institution will never be realized to our farmers, unless the policy thus inaugurated shall be carried out by a thorough, scientific examination of the agricultural resources of the State.

But the benefits of science to agriculture, and the method of applying it successfully to that branch of productive industry, is not the most important advantage the farmers of our State will derive from the proposed agricultural and geological survey. The increase in the value of their lands, and therefore, in all the property of the State, is a consideration which ought, to and we doubt not will have much iofluence in deciding this question. In every State in the Union in which such a survey has been successfully carried through, the effect has invariably been to raise the price of land wherever minerals have been found to exist, articles suitable for manufacturing purposes discovered, or the soil ascertained to be rich and productive to an amount, in a single locality, equal to the whole cost of the survey, and in the aggregate to many times its cost This is especially true of Pennsylvania, Obio, Illinois, North Carolina, Georgia, and Missouri. The discoveries made in the Northern Peninsula of our own State by Dr. Houghton, and subsequently by Messrs. Foster and Whitney, under the authority of Congress, afford another striking illustration, and nearer home, of the effect of mineral discoveries upon the price of lands, though not so forcible as some others of their immediate benefit to the farming interest.

There is believed to exist in the Lower Peninsula, as there is known to exist in the Upper, valuable deposits of iron and copper ore. Of the existence of inexhaustible beds of coal in various parts of the State there is no reasonable doubt, while there is a positive certainty of the existence of salt, plaster and lime, in large quantities. But to what extent these great sources of State and individual wealth and prosperity exist, how far they may be made available for manufacturing, agricultural and mechanical purposes, and their intrinsic value, can only be ascertained and made known by scientific inquiry. Without such examination, it may

be years, or even ages, before some lucky chance shall

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

reveal to the world the extent and value of the treasures which now lie hid in the earth-perhaps at our very doors. It remains for science to decide. And who can say that in the progress of its investigations it may not discover that the veins of lead which are a source of such wealth to some parts of Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa, extend into our State ?

Of the discovery of coal, of what seems to be a good quality for fuel as well as for manufacturing purposes, in Jackson and Ingbam counties, the public are already aware. But it may not be so generally known that it has also been discovered in Shiawassee, Genesee and Saginaw counties, and that in many places in these counties it is taken out and used in furnaces and blacksmith shops, situated in the vicinity. There are strong geological indications of the existence of coal in several other counties, and a valuable bed of iron ore has actually been discovered on our Agricultural Farm. If no other benefit were to be de. rived from the survey of the State than to make known with scientific exactness the quality, extent and value of these coal beds, every consideration of State policy, and a wise regard for the best interests of its citizens, would seem to justify the Legislature in authorizing it. As an article of home consumption, as well as commerce, its importance can not be over-estimated. The coal mines of Pennsylvania are a source of far greater wealth to that State, and contribute inuch more liberally to her greatness, than the gold mines of California do to the prosperity of that land of promise. It not only contribu'es largely to the wealth of the State, but gives life and vigor to every branch of industry-to agriculture first, and then to trade, commerce, manufacture, ard labor, promotes and encourages industry, stimulates enterprise, and contributes directly to the bappiness and general prosperity of the people. All this has inured to the direct and positive benefit of the farmer. And it is right that it should be co.

Agriculture is the basis of all national greatness, and the primary source of all national prosperity, happiness, and independence. It has been said that farmers, as a clase, are the great heart of the body politic. K its pulsations are languid, the life-blood will flow feebly in every department of human industry. Since the fall of our first parents, farmers have fed and clothed the world, filled its dwellings with plenty and luxury, and contributed mainly to its happiness. They produce while other men consume. Trade, and commerce, and manufactures, and other branches of industry, derive their existence from this great first cause of national prosperity. Every human enterprise is dependent upon and receives the principle of life from agriculture. And yet, though farmers contribute so much to the State, they require and receive less benefit from the government than any other class. They ask no. protection, and seldom ask for anything else. But they contribute liberally to the support of the government, and all useful public enterprises Have they not a right, therefore, to require at the hands of this Legislature the adoption of a measure fraught with so many advantages to every of her great interest of the State, as well as to that of agriculture !

That a well directed, skillfully conducted, and thorough exploration of the State, and a scientific examination of all its products, resources and capabilities, favorably affect all classes of people, we have already incidentally shown. Every interest, involving the growth, and general prosperity and progress of community is intimately connected with, and will be advanced and promoted by such a measure. Commerce, mapufactures, labor, and all branches of industry, no less than agriculture, would receive their full share of benefit from it. To discovery of coal, iron, copper, salt, plaster, lime, and other mineral products that may be turned to agricultural and manufacturing purposes, will not only give new vitality to the industrial pursuits we have named, but will create a sitll stronger necessity than now exists for new railroad routes, and other means of internal communication. These, in their turn, will stimulate still new enterprises, and each will aid more and more, in developing our resources, in peopling our unoccupied lands, and in a 'ding generally to the wealth, and power and prosperity of our State. The steady current of population that now passes through Michigan, would then begin to flow into it. A hardy and enterprising population would take possession of our immense uncultivated territory, and where only primeeval forests now exist, would soon be found fruitful fields, thriving villages, prosperous trade, and all those evidences of civilization which the moro favored portions of the State already exhibit. The norther countias would then not only be able to supply the whole State, but much of the west with many of those articles which we are now compelled to import from abroad.

Having thus glanced at a fow of the many benefits which an ef

fer

ficient and wisely directed, scientific examination of the soil, mineral botanical and agricultural resources of a State have never failed to con

upon others, and which there is no reason to doubt, it will confer upon this State, we will now briefly inquire whether it is recessary and proper at this time to authorize the commencement of such an enterprize. In coming to a decision on this point, it seems to your committee that the simple and only inquiry should be first whether the present condition of the finances of the State is such as to justify the required appropriation for that object? And secondly, whether any further delay in commencing it would endanger any of the material interests to which we have referred.

In regard to the financial ability of the State now to incur the expense involved in this proposed survey, your committee will not assume to decide for others. On this point every one must judge for himself, as he alone will be responsible to his constituents for whatever action ho may take. They have before them the State Treasurer's exhibit of our finances. But for themselves they may be permitted to say that they have no doubts on that head. Thoy are satisfied that it may

be done without embarrassment to the Treasury, or burthen to the tax-payers. Even if the condition of the Treasury was such as to render this new draft upon it unwise, however, they would fearlessly assume their part of the responsibility of imposing a direct fax upon the people to meet the expense; for they believe the end to be gained is so correctly appreciated by those upon whom the burden would fall, that they would cheerfully submit to it. The people of Michigan are too patriotic, and too keenly alive to the prosperity of their State to murmur at a measure so obviously designed to promote it. But no such alternative is necessary.

The next and only remaining inquiry to be considered is whether any further delay in commencing the important work of retrieving past errors would endanger any of the material interests of the State ? On this point your committee bave no more doubts than they have that the welfare of the State requires it, and that the good sense of the people will approve it. We have adverted already to the too notorious fact that thousands and tens of thousands of emigrants annually pass through our State in search of homes farther west, without the slightest thought whether we may not offer them equal advantages with any they may

[ocr errors]

find beyond us. Michigan needs this annual increase to our population to subdue our forests, cultivate our soil, help build our railroads, and other public improvements, reclaim our waste lands, develop our mines, people our territory, and aid in rendering available our resources. Every year's delay renders more difficult the labor of turning the tide of Davigation into our own channels of industry. Every year the channel becomes wider and deeper and stronger. We should change it while we may.

There is a tide in the affairs of states as in the affairs of men, which, if taken at the flood will lead to fortune. Now is that flood tide in the affairs of Michigan. We are surrounded by rivall States, all putting forth their whole energies, and pursuing the most liberal policy, not only to draw to themselves this immense accession of human wealth, and to secure the vast trade and travel between the Mississippi, and ultimately the Pacific and the Atlantic, but to secure a portion of our own business and trade. These efforts must be met by an equally enlightened, energetic and liberal policy on our part, and met now. When the channels of trade and travel become fixed, as they do become fixed by laws far more inflexible than any we may enact, it will be too late to commence the struggle. If we let the present opportunity pass for laying this important stone in the foundation of our prosperity, it may never again return-at least so favorable one may never again be presented. Our destiny is in our own hands, and we may shape it as we will. Nature has done her part in the benefit, she has bestowed upon us with 80 liberal a hand. It remains for us to do ours. The proposition now under consideration is only one of the means, it is true, to be used in working out that desting, and perhaps not the most important one. Such as it is, however, we have attempted to present it.

But your committes will not pursue this subject further. They feel that in presenting their reasons for the proposed measure, they have faithfully, if not wisely, discharged their duty. If they have occupied too much time in its consideration, their conviction of its importance must be their justification. But they will leave the subject to the disposal of the House, satisfied with whatever may be its decisijn. If it shall decide that Michigan-a State so rich in minerale, fisheries, lumber, goil, and almost every natural produot and advantage, and yet far behind others in artificial progress, is not able to take the proper step, or that

« AnteriorContinuar »