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try is to be augured from the histories of republics without representation, or of monarchies without popular control. Before Americans relinquish free government, they must be ignorant of their present knowledge; they must cease to teach their children to prize their privileges; and no longer inculcate esteem for the memory of their dauntless ancestors, who fought for the inheritance. Washington, Franklin, and an host of other patriots, must be forgotten. The avarice of foreign governments, and the sufferings of foreign people, must pass into oblivion, and cease to be monitors. In short, a dark age must arrive before the throne of despotism can be erected here.
State Legislatures-A predilection for dividing Counties, laying out New Towns and Roads-The influence of Slavery on the habits of People who live in the neighbourhood of Slave-Keeping States-Elopements from Kentucky-Banking.
Jeffersonville, (Indiana,) March 10, 1820. THE legislatures of new States consist only of a few members. The consequence is, that public acts for the exclusive advantage of private individuals are occasionally passed through influence or intrigue; and the commendations which I have bestowed on the general government of America must not be held to apply indiscriminately to the administration of the local governments, at least in newly establish
Much of the business (it is said) is privately arranged, before the questions are discussed in the house. Combinations are formed for effecting particular purposes. These are called log rolling; a very significant metaphor, borrowed from the practice of several farmers uniting in rol. ling together large timber to be burnt. A num. ber of bills are frequently conjoined by their movers, so that a member who takes a deep interest in one must vote for all of them, to obtain the suffrage of the separate partizans. The member who deserts from the cabal might be leaving his own motion without any other supporter but himself. An enlightened gentleman told me, that he was induced to vote for the ridiculous law of this State regarding intercourse between white and coloured people, in consequence of its being previously conjoined with other bills.
The laying out of new counties, county towns, and lines of road, seems to be a gratifying duty to back-wood legislators. Where a county includes a considerable tract of country, it must be divided into two. Where it is not large enough to admit of bisection, the county wanted must be made up from the extremities of four or five which are contiguous. A large population is not a prerequisite: yet the convenience of the people is the pretext. A few neighbours who propose that their settlement should be made the nucleus of the new establishment, petition the Assembly for a subdivision. If this is granted, commissioners are appointed to fix the new seat of justice. An eager contest for private advantage ensues, and although the ostensible object is public convenience, the new city is perhaps placed near the outline of its jurisdiction.
You will be much surprised to hear of the avidity which prevails in this country for towns consisting of a very few log cabins. For a convenient
distribution of seats of justice, and for roads that are at best openings cut through the woods, with the stumps remaining, without side ditches, and without any other bridges through marshes or streams, than a few pieces of timber laid down side by side across the way. But an explanation is made, when you are told that pettifoggers by this means create situations for themselves, and a few of their constituents who are in the employment of squires, county commissioners, prosecuting attornies, supervisors of roads, and constables. With numbers the design is to increase the value of their contiguous lands at the public expense, instead of improving them by their own industry. By such means, they frequently succeed in selling at an advance of fifty, or even a hundred per cent. per annum; and remove to more recent settlements, where they are able to purchase a larger extent of land, and where they can continue their favourite trade of making counties, towns, and roads.
Towns are laid out by persons who sell lots of about a fourth or a fifth part of an acre: these sometimes sell at from a hundred to three hundred dollars, even in situations where scarcely a single spot of the neighbouring woods is cleared. Af ter a town has made some progress in point of improvement and population, lots usually rise in price, from three hundred to a thousand dollars; and, in the larger towns, to a much higher value. At present the mania of purchasing town lots is rather declining. Holders are unwilling to see the prices reduced. They continue to talk of former rates, and to keep them up; on exchanging one lot for two, say, that for the better one, one thousand dollars is paid in two lots worth five hundred each. Their conduct very much resembles that of a person who said, that he sold a dog at forty guineas, and explained the transaction by stating,
"that he was paid in two dogs, each worth half that sum." I lately saw a town lot sold for state or county taxes, at a fourth part of the price paid for it two years ago. The rents of the worst kind of houses amount to upwards of fifty per cent. per annum, on the price of erection. A miserable cabin, that could scarcely be let at all in your country, or would not rent at £1 10s. a-year, gives here as much per month. The people are of consequence closely crowded together; several families frequently inhabiting a house of one apartment, without any inner door, so that when the street door is open, passengers may see the inmates at table, and the other particulars of the house. The beds are ranged round the walls, like so many looms in a weaver's work-shop. In various instances I have seen families living in temporary huts, built of small pieces of decayed timber collected in the woods, laid upon one another in the manner in which sawyers erect piles of timber to be dried. The roofs were covered with bark, and the interstices of the walls left open, so that at a distance I could count the persons within, as if they had been birds in a cage. Near to this place a family lately lived, for several weeks, under an old waggon that was turned upside down. In towns along the banks of the Ohio, a class of people are to be seen, who depend on traffic with travellers, and with the scanty population in the rear of them. Without extravagant profits on the trifling capital employed, they could not subsist. Many of them seem to be immoral, dissipated, and without rural or domestic industry. Few of their lots are cultivated as gardens; and the spinning-wheel, (so far as I have observed,) is not to be seen in their houses. The evils of slave-keeping are not confined to the parts of the country where involuntary labour
exists, but the neighbourhood is infected. Certain kinds of labour are despised as being the work of slaves. Shoe-blacking, and, in some instances, family manufactures, are of this class of labours; and it is thus, that in some of the small towns on the north side of the Ohio, the mechanic and the labourer are to be seen drawing water at the wells ; their wives and daughters not condescending to services that are looked upon to be opprobrious. It was for the same reason, that on one occasion, some paupers in a poor's house at Cincinnati refused to carry water for their own use.
Elopements from Kentucky into Indiana are frequent. Since my arrival in this very town, I have witnessed two examples. I do not now allude to slave-keepers losing their negroes, but their white daughters, who escape to get married. In a former letter I mentioned the watchfulness of parents over young ladies in Kentucky, and would only add, that there, as elsewhere, restraint does not seem to be conducive to contentment. Those who are acquainted with the state of society in Turkey, are perhaps the most able to give a decided opinion on this very interesting subject.
Of upwards of a hundred banks that lately figured in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, the money of two is now only received in the land-office, in payment for public lands. Many have perished, and the remainder are struggling for existence. Still giving for their rags "bills as good as their own;" but, except two, none pay in specie, or bills of the United States Bank. Discount varies from thirty to one hundred per cent.
The recent history of banking in these western States, is probably unrivalled. Such a system of knavery could only be developed in a country where avarice and credulity are prominent fea