« AnteriorContinuar »
On Emigration-The prospects of Emigrants-Inconveniencies—The method of laying out and disposing of public lands.
THIS letter will be devoted to such remarks on emigration so far as my little experience and short residence in America enable me to have made. Before entering upon the subject, I think it proper to state, that I disown every intention of advising any one to leave his native country; and that I disapprove of exaggerating the prospects held out here, and underrating those of Britain, as uncandid and deceptive, as appealing to the passions to decide in a matter which ought to be determined by the sober exercise of reason.
In exchanging Britain for the United States, the emigrant may reasonably expect to have it in his power to purchase good improved land, and to bring it into a rude state of cultivation, with less capital unquestionably, than that employed in renting an equal proportion of good ground at home. He will not be burdened by an excessive taxation, nor with tithes, nor poor's rates; for there are no internal taxes paid to the government, no privileged clergy, and few people who live by the charity of others. His labour and his capital will be more productive, and his accumulation of property more rapid, (good health, industry, and economy, presupposed,)
and a stronger hope may be entertained, that extreme poverty or want may be kept at a distance. After residing five years in the country, he may become an elector of those who have the power of making laws and imposing taxes.
The inconveniencies or difficulties which attend removing, are upon no account to be overlooked. The man who undervalues these is only holding disappointments in reserve for himself. He must part with friends, and every acquaintance to whom he is attached, a case that he may, perhaps, not fully understand, till he acts his part in it. A voyage and a long journey must be submitted to. He must breathe a new air, and bear transitions and extremes of climate, unknown to him before. His European tinge of complexion must soon vanish from his face, to return no more. A search for the new home will require his serious attention, a diversity of situations may soon be heard of, but it is not easy to visit or compare many of them. Nor is the emigrant, on his first arrival, an adequate judge of the soil of America. In a dilemma of this kind advice is necessary. This is easily procured every where; but it deserves attention to know, whether the informant is interested in the advice he gives. Land dealers, and others, naturally commend tracts of land which they are desirous to sell. The people of the neighbourhood have also an interest in the settling of neighbouring lands, knowing, that by every augmentation of population, the value of their own property is increased. On several occasions I have met with men who attempted to conceal local disadvantages, and defects in point of salubrity, that were self-evident. I do not recollect of having heard more than two persons acknowledge, that they lived in an unhealthy situa
tion. In the high country of Pennsylvania, I was told that Pittsburg is an unhealthy place. At Pittsburg, I heard that Marietta and Steubenville are very subject to sickness. At these places, the people contrast their healthy situation with Chillicothe, which, I was told, is very unhealthy. At Chillicothe, the climate of Cincinnati is deprecated; and at Cincinnati, many people seem willing to transfer the evil to the falls of the Ohio. At this place the truth is partially admitted; but it is affirmed that the Illinois country, and down the Mississippi are very unhealthy. The cautious will always look to the views and character of the man who would direct them, and will occasionally rely on their own judgments.
In the public land-offices, maps of the new lands are kept. Sections of a square mile, and quarter sections of 160 acres, are laid down. The squares entered are marked A.P. meaning advance paid. This advance is half a dollar per acre, or one-fourth of the price. Lands, when first put to sale, are offered by public auction, and are set up at two dollars per acre. If no one offers that price, they are exhibited on the land-office map, and may be sold at that rate at any subsequent time. New settlers, who are sufficiently skilled in the quality of the soil, are in no danger from land-office transactions. Besides the land-offices for the sale of national property, there are agents who sell on account of individuals. I can mention Mr. Embree of Cincinnati, as a gentleman who does much business in this way, and with much reputation to himself.
The land office maps are divided into townships
of six miles square. The figure represents a portion of the country laid out in this way.
4 3 2 1 1 2 3 4.
The positions of the townships relatively to the base line, are expressed by the numerals I, II, III, &c. and their positions relatively to the meridian are numbered on both sides of it east and west, as marked on the top and bottom. The parallels marked I, I-II, II-III, III, and so on, are called townships, Nos. I, II, III, &c. north or south according as they lie on the north or south side of the base line. Positions in regard of the meridian are indicated by the numbers 1, 2, 3, &c. at top and bottom, east or west, as they lie on the
east or west side of the meridian line, and are called ranges, Nos. 1, 2, 3, &c. For explanatory examples, suppose the designation of the township at the bottom of the right hand column is required. The square in question, is in the parallel numbered V south of the base line, and IV east of the principal meridian. It is therefore called town five south, range four east.
The townships are divided into sections of a square mile each, as in town No. 4 north, range No. 3 east.
The figure under is a larger representation of a township, showing how it is divided and numbered.
The faint lines represent the divisions of sections into quarters of 160 acres each. At the auc