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on being “realists,” that is, that they rely upon statistics, they certainly contribute to the advance of the science. The entire scope of the new doctrine is yet quite vague, both in its premises and in its conclusions; and when it attempts to determine the relation between political economy and morals or law, it is less original, less novel, than certain of its most enthusiastic adepts imagine. To cite only contemporaneous economists, who have paid attention to the subject, it will suffice to mention the books of Dameth, Rondelet, and Baudrillart, and the work so well written, but unfortunately so badly translated into French, of Minghetti, now president of the council in Italy. Writers like Cliff Leslie, Luzzatti, Fredericksen, Schmoller, Hild, Wagner, Contzen, Nasse, have always seemed to me better armed than the school of Bastiat to combat the actual scientific socialism which wholly relies on abstract formulas and the "natural laws of political economy,"to break down the social order, and demand its essential reconstruction. Bastiat has already compromised the defense by standing too exclusively on the ground of theory; for he has been led to contradict facts, and to deny doctrines admitted by all economists; for instance, the standard theory of rent. The “realist” economists, on the other hand, lay hold of principles, and rely upon facts, in order to go in pursuit of Utopia step by step, carefully distinguishing possible reforms from impossible, and the rights of humanity from the demands of covetousness and envy. The mission of preservation is to-day more than ever imposed upon political economy, in presence of new forms which socialism has recently taken, and the rapid development it has made, especially in Germany.
ÉMILE DE LAVELEYE.
THE NORTH AMERICAN BISON AND ITS
HE Indian and the "buffalo" are ever associated in the mind as
characteristic and inseparable features of the great interior of the North American continent, and especially so of the so-called "boundless plains" that extend from Mexico on the one hand nearly to the Arctic regions on the other, and from the Mississippi river to the Rocky mountains. And in many respects is this association by no means a fanciful one, the one depending in great measure for its
existence upon the other, and both alike fading away before the rapid westward advance of civilization—driven into the remoter wilds, as it is usually expressed, but, in reality, wiped out of existence—only the so-called remnants of the once populous bands of either remaining when a westward migration is forced upon them. The same fate evidently awaits both—complete extermination. Though both are noble in their way, both in a measure cumber the ground, and disappear but to give place to a higher grade of life and a fuller development of the natural resources of the continent.
Whenever civilized man has held sway, the fate of the larger animals has always been the same—to wit, a more or less speedy annihilation. In his subjugation of new countries not alone are the dangerous wild beasts of the forests, or those whose products render their destruction a source of rapid increase of wealth, sacrificed, but the inoffensive and less useful herb-eating species also wither before him as before a fatal blast, the prudent suggestions of self-interest yielding to the stronger love of destruction.
The history of our American bison but repeats the history of his congeners and affines elsewhere. His nearest relative, the aurochs of the old world, which in no very remote times roamed over the greater part of temperate Europe, survives now only, through careful protection, in the royal parks of the Czar of Russia in Lithuania, where its present representatives number but a few hundred individuals.
The urus, which in prehistoric times existed over a much larger area, and which had a few survivors as late as the conquests of Cæsar, long since became extinct in the wild state, and has living representatives only in our domestic races of cattle, from whom they are in part descended. In our own country the elk, formerly numerous over the greater part of the northern and western portions of the United States, is now nearly extinct east of the Mississippi river, and is rapidly approaching extermination elsewhere. The common Virginian deer, formerly abundant throughout all the older States of the Union, exists now only here and there in the least settled districts. From the newer trans-Mississippian States and Territories come reports of the rapid disappearance of not only the elk and deer of those regions, but of the mountain sheep and the prong horn. In many of the parks and valleys within the Rocky mountains, from New Mexico to Montana, where, but a few years since, these animáls existed in seemingly exhaustless numbers, they have already
been extirpated. But the case of the “buffalo," as our bison will always be commonly called, will doubtless be one of the most remarkable instances of extermination recorded, or to be recorded, in the annals of zoölogy. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, this animal occupied fully two-thirds of the temperate portions of North America; since which time its range has become reduced to an area not larger than that of the three territories of Dakota, Montana and Wyoming; while another decade or two, at its present rate of decrease, will be sufficient for its total extermination.
As is well known, the whole area between the Mississippi river and the Rocky Mountains has ever been the region of their greatest abundance, over almost the whole of which vast territory they roamed till within the last half century. Prior to 1830 they had already been pressed back for some distance west of the Mississippi, along nearly its whole length. The overland emigration that set in so vigorously about 1849, and the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad, served to greatly lessen their numbers, and to divide them into two distinct bands, known commonly as the Great Northern and Southern Herds. Incessant persecution on all sides, and especially of late along the lines of the Kansas railways (Kansas Pacific, and Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fé), has reduced the Southern Herd to a mere remnant of its former magnitude. While they are now massed principally south of the Canadian river, in Northern Texas, where for a time they may enjoy comparative immunity from the white hunter, they are still also scattered irregularly and sparsely over the western third of Kansas and along the eastern border of Colorado. The whole area occupied by the Southern Herd, which ranged but a few years since from the Staked Plains to the Platte, and from Eastern Kansas to the Rocky Mountains, does not embrace a region larger than the present State of Kansas.
The Northern Herd has suffered a like reduction in its range. As late as in 1850, it extended, in the United States, from the Platte to the British boundary, and from the Rocky Mountains to the plains of the Upper Mississippi and the Red River of the North, besides spreading far northward into the British possessions. South of the northern boundary of the United States it is now limited to the region drained by the principal southern tributaries of the Yellowstone--the Big Horn, Tongue, and Powder rivers—and to a narrow belt extending thence northward, across the Yellowstone, the Musselshell, the Missouri and Milk rivers, widening somewhat to the northward.
The vast restriction in its range that the bison has suffered, especially when it is remembered that this restriction has taken place mainly within the last fifty years, and chiefly within the last twentyfive years, is certainly a striking fact; yet, by this statement the destruction of life thus implied is by no means impressively indicated. The Buffalo, as is well known, is, like other bovine creatures, eminently gregarious, roaming always in herds, which usually number thousands, and sometimes millions of individuals. Some writers speak of having seen millions of buffaloes in sight at once; others have described the plains as literally blackened with them in every direction as far as the eye could reach. Others still speak of meeting with herds several miles broad; others of traveling through continuous bands for days together. It was not uncommon in former days for emigrant trains to be detained for hours by the passage of large herds across their route, while in later times the same experience has often befallen the trains on the Kansas railways. It is not to be inferred, of course, that the habitat of the Buffalo was ever wholly covered by dense herds; but the whole region above indicated as its habitat was roamed over by them, and all parts more or less frequently visited, the greater part of it annually.
The Indians have of course shared largely in the work of destruction, since the tribes that have lived within or near its range have depended largely upon these animals for subsistence, their flesh furnishing them with the chief part of their food, and their skins with clothing, beds and lodge-coverings. Though far less wasteful of the buffalo than the white man, the Indian often indulges in needless slaughter, generally killing far more than he needs or can use. When buffaloes are plentiful, the Indians commonly select only the choicest parts, and during the season when they kill them for their skins they rarely save any portion of the meat. Catlin relates an incident that came under his notice in May, 1832, near the mouth of the Teton river, which forcibly illustrates their improvidence. A party of five or six hundred mounted Sioux Indians crossed the river at mid-day, for an attack upon a herd of buffaloes in sight on the other side. After spending a few hours among them, they recrossed the river at nightfall, and came into the Fur Company's Fort with “fourteen hundred fresh buffalo tongues, which were thrown down in a mass, and for which they required but a few gallons of whisky,"—not a skin nor a pound of meat, besides the tongues, being saved.
But the wanton, or at least reckless and almost useless, destruction of the buffalo by the Indians is scarcely comparable to that of the white man, whose contact with the buffalo has brought a constantly increasing rate of fatality to the doomed beasts. About a century ago, the white hunter, in what is now the State of Kentucky, first met with the buffalo, since which time his extermination has progressed with marvelous rapidity. At the beginning of the present century, this useful animal had already been exterminated east of the Mississippi river, in great part, too, wantonly. West of the Mississipi they continued to recede before advancing settlements, when, about 1820, their destruction became greatly accelerated by the trade in robes, which about this time began to assume considerable importance. From this date onward till within the last few years, the destruction of the buffaloes for their skins has done more than all other influences to hasten their extirpation—the slaughter for this object alone causing the destruction of hundreds of thousands each year. Throughout much of this time the number of robes actually purchased of the Indians has exceeded one hundred thousand annually, while as many more have been used by the Indians themselves. When it is remembered that the skins are in good condition during only one-third of the year—the portion of the year, too, when the smallest number are taken—and that good robes are furnished by only the females, those of the bulls being generally worthless for robes some idea may be formed of the great number of animals annually destroyed by the Indians in pursuit of furs. Of late the trade in robes has greatly declined, owing mainly to the diminished number of buffaloes, but in part to the great reduction of the Indians themselves; but the difference has been more than made up by the wholesale destruction of the buffaloes on the plains of Kansas by the white men. No sooner had the railroads penetrated the habitat of the buffalo, than hunters swarmed to the region thus so favorably thrown open to them, and making these highways the bases of their operations, begun an exterminating war upon the vast herds, which ceased only with the supply of victims. In three or four years the buffaloes were swept from the country immediately adjoining these roads; nearly all being sacrificed for their hides;