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By 1820 the west had developed the beginnings of many of the cities which have since ruled over the region. Buffalo and Detroit were hardly more than villages until the close of this period. They waited for the rise of steam navigation on the Great Lakes and for the opening of the prairies.

Cleveland, also, was but a hamlet during most of the decade; but by 1830 the construction of the canal connecting the Cuyahoga with the Scioto increased its prosperity, and its harbor began to profit by its natural advantages. [Footnote: Whittlesey, Early Hist. of Cleveland, 456; Kennedy, Hist. of Cleveland, chap. viii.] Chicago and Milwaukee were mere fur-trading stations in the Indian country. Pittsburgh, at the head of the Ohio, was losing its old pre-eminence as the gateway to the west, but was finding recompense in the development of its manufactures. By 1830 its population was about twelve thousand. [Footnote: Thurston, Pittsburg and Allegheny in the Centennial Year, 61.] Foundries, rolling-mills, nail-factories, steam-engine shops, and distilleries were busily at work, and the city, dingy with the smoke of soft coal, was already dubbed the "young Manchester" or the "Birmingham" of America. By 1830 Wheeling had intercepted much of the overland trade and travel to the Ohio, profiting by the old National Road and the wagon trade from Baltimore. [Footnote: Martin, Gazetteer of Va., 407.]

Cincinnati was rapidly rising to the position of the "Queen City of the West." Situated where the river reached with a great bend towards the interior of the northwest, in the rich farming country between the two Miamis, and opposite the Licking River, it was the commercial center of a vast and fertile region of Ohio and Kentucky; [Footnote: Melish, Information to Emigrants, 108.] and by 1830, with a population of nearly twenty-five thousand souls, it was the largest city of the west, with the exception of New Orleans. The center of steamboat-building, it also received extensive imports of goods from the east and exported the surplus crops of Ohio and adjacent parts of Kentucky. Its principal industry, however, was pork-packing, from which it won the name of "Porkopolis" [Footnote: Drake and Mansfield, Cincinnati in 1826, p. 70; Winter in the West, I., 115.] Louisville, at the falls of the Ohio, was an important place of trans-shipment, and the export center for large quantities of tobacco. There were considerable manufactures of rope and bagging, products of the Kentucky hemp-fields; and new cotton and woolen factories were struggling for existence. [Footnote: Durrett, Centenary of Louisville (Filson Club, Publications, No. 8), 50-101; Louisville Directory, 1832, p. 131.] St. Louis occupied a unique position, as the entrepot of the important fur-trade of the upper Mississippi and the vast water system of the Missouri, as well as the outfitting-point for the Missouri settlements. It was the capital of the far west, and the commercial center for Illinois. Its population at the close of the decade was about six thousand.

Only a few villages lay along the Mississippi below St. Louis until the traveler reached New Orleans, the emporium of the whole Mississippi Valley. As yet the direct effect of the Erie Canal was chiefly limited to the state of New York. The great bulk of western exports passed down the tributaries of the Mississippi to this city, which was, therefore, the center of foreign exports for the valley, as well as the port from which the coastwise trade in the products of the whole interior departed. In 1830 its population was nearly fifty thousand.


 

The rise of an agricultural surplus was transforming the west and preparing a new influence in the nation. It was this surplus and the demand for markets that developed the cities just mentioned. As they grew, the price of land in their neighborhood increased; roads radiated into the surrounding country; and farmers, whose crops had been almost worthless from the lack of transportation facilities, now found it possible to market their surplus at a small profit. While the west was thus learning the advantages of a home market, the extension of cotton and sugar cultivation in the south and southwest gave it a new and valuable market. More and more, the planters came to rely upon the northwest for their food supplies and for the mules and horses for their fields. Cotton became the engrossing interest of the plantation belt, and, while the full effects of this differentiation of industry did not appear in the decade of this volume, the beginnings were already visible. [Footnote: Callender, "Early Transportation and Banking Enterprises of the States," in Quarterly Journal of Econ., XVII., 3-54.] In 1835, Pitkin [Footnote: Pitkin, Statistical View (1835), 534.] reckoned the value of the domestic and foreign exports of the interior as far in excess of the whole exports of the United States in 1790. Within forty years the development of the interior had brought about the economic independence of the United States.

During most of the decade the merchandise to supply the interior was brought laboriously across the mountains by the Pennsylvania turnpikes and the old National Road; or, in the case of especially heavy freight, was carried along the Atlantic coast into the gulf and up the Mississippi and Ohio by steamboats. The cost of transportation in the wagon trade from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and Baltimore to Wheeling placed a heavy tax upon the consumer. [Footnote: Niles' Register, XX., 180.] In 1817 the freight charge from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh was sometimes as high as seven to ten dollars a hundredweight; a few years later it became from four to six dollars; and in 1823 it had fallen to three dollars. It took a month to wagon merchandise from Baltimore to central Ohio. Transportation companies, running four-horse freight wagons, conducted a regular business on these turn-pikes between the eastern and western states. In 1820 over three thousand wagons ran between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, transporting merchandise valued at about eighteen million dollars annually. [Footnote: Birkbeck, Journey from Va., 128; Ogden, Letters from the West, 8; Cobbett, Year's Residence, 337; Evans, Pedestrious Tour, 145; Philadelphia in 1824, 45; Searight, Old Pike, 107, 112; Mills, Treatise on Inland Navigation (1820), 89, 90, 93, 95-97; Journal of Polit. Econ., VIII., 36.]

The construction of the National Road reduced freight rates to nearly one-half what they were at the close of the War of 1812; and the introduction of steam navigation from New Orleans up the Mississippi cut water-rates by that route to one-third of the former charge. [Footnote: Annals of Cong., 18 Cong., I Sess., I., 991; cf. Fearon, Sketches, 260; Niles' Register, XXV., 95; Cincinnati Christian Journal, July 27, 1830.] Nevertheless, there was a crying need for internal improvements, and particularly for canals, to provide an outlet for the increasing products of the west. "Even in the country where I reside, not eighty miles from tidewater," said Tucker, [Footnote: Annals of Cong., 15 Cong., I Sess., I., 1126.] of Virginia, in 1818, "it takes the farmer one bushel of wheat to pay the expense of carrying two to a seaport town."


 

The bulk of the crop, as compared with its value, practically prevented transportation by land farther than a hundred miles. [Footnote: McMaster, United States, III., 464.] It is this that helps to explain the attention which the interior first gave to making whiskey and raising live-stock; the former carried the crop in a small bulk with high value, while the live-stock could walk to a market. Until after the War of 1812, the cattle of the Ohio Valley were driven to the seaboard, chiefly to Philadelphia or Baltimore. Travelers were astonished to see on the highway droves of four or five thousand hogs, going to an eastern market. It was estimated that over a hundred thousand hogs were driven east annually from Kentucky alone. Kentucky hog-drivers also passed into Tennessee, Virginia, and the Carolinas with their droves. [Footnote: Life of Ephraim Cutler, 89; Birkbeck, Journey, 24.; Blane, Excursion through U. S. (London, 1824), 90; Atlantic Monthly, XXVI., 170.] The swine lived on the nuts and acorns of the forest; thus they were peculiarly suited to pioneer conditions. At first the cattle were taken to the plantations of the Potomac to fatten for Baltimore and Philadelphia, much in the same way that, in recent times, the cattle of the Great Plains are brought to the feeding-grounds in the corn belt of Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa. [Footnote: Michaux, Travels, 191: Palmer, Journal of Travels, 36] Towards the close of the decade, however, the feeding-grounds shifted into Ohio, and the pork-packing industry, as we have seen, found its center at Cincinnati, [Footnote:  Hall, Statistics of the West (1836), 145-147.] the most important source of supply for the hams and bacon and salt pork which passed down the Mississippi to furnish a large share of the plantation food. From Kentucky and the rest of the Ohio Valley droves of mules and horses passed through the Tennessee Valley to the south to supply the plantations. Statistics at Cumberland Gap for 1828 gave the value of live-stock passing the turnpike gate there at $1,167,000. [Footnote: Emigrants' and Travellers' Guide to the West (1834), 194.] Senator Hayne, of South Carolina, declared that in 1824 the south was supplied from the west, through Saluda Gap, with live-stock, horses, cattle, and hogs to the amount of over a million dollars a year. [Footnote: Speech in Senate in 1832, Register of Debates in Cong., VIII., pt. i., 80; cf. Annals of Cong., 18 Cong., i Sess., I., 1411.]

But the outlet from the west over the roads to the east and south was but a subordinate element in the internal commerce. Down the Mississippi floated a multitude of heavily freighted craft: lumber rafts from the Allegheny, the old-time arks, with cattle, flour, and bacon, hay-boats, keel-boats, and skiffs, all mingled with the steamboats which plied the western waters. [Footnote: Flint, Recollections of the Last Ten Years, 101-110; E. S. Thomas, Reminiscences, I., 290-293; Hall, Statistics of the West (1836), 236; Howells, Life in Ohio, 85; Schultz, Travels, 129; Hulbert, Historic Highways, IX., chaps, iii., iv., v.] Flatboatmen, raftsmen, and deck-hands constituted a turbulent and reckless population, living on the country through which they passed, fighting and drinking in true "half-horse, half-alligator" style. Prior to the steamboat, all of the commerce from New Orleans to the upper country was carried on in about twenty barges, averaging a hundred tons each, and making one trip a year. Although the steamboat did not drive out the other craft, it revolutionized the commerce of the river. Whereas it had taken the keel-boats thirty to forty days to descend from Louisville to New Orleans, and about ninety days to ascend the fifteen hundred miles of navigation by poling and warping up-stream, the steamboat had shortened the time, by 1822, to seven days down and sixteen days up. [Footnote: Annals of Cong., 17 Gong., 2 Sess., 407; McMaster, United States, V., 166; National Gazette, September 26, 1823 (list of steamboats, rates of passage, estimate of products); Blane, Excursion through the U. S., 119; Niles' Register, XXV., 95.] As the steamboats ascended the various tributaries of the Mississippi to gather the products of the growing west, the pioneers came more and more to realize the importance of the invention. They resented the idea of the monopoly which Pulton and Livingston wished to enforce prior to the decision of Chief-Justice Marshall, in the case of Gibbons vs. Ogden--a decision of vital interest to the whole interior. [Footnote: Thomas, Travels through the Western Country, 62; Alexandria Herald, June 23, 1817.]


 

They saw in the steamboat a symbol of their own development. A writer in the Western Monthly Review, [Footnote: Timothy Flint's Western Monthly Review (May, 1827), I., 25; William Bullock, Sketch of a Journey, 132.] unconsciously expressed the very spirit of the self-contented, hustling, materialistic west in these words: "An Atlantic cit, who talks of us under the name of backwoodsmen, would not believe, that such fairy structures of oriental gorgeousness and splendor, as the Washington, the Florida, the Walk in the Water, the Lady of the Lake, etc. etc., had ever existed in the imaginative brain of a romancer, much less, that they were actually in existence, rushing down the Mississippi, as on the wings of the wind, or plowing up between the forests, and walking against the mighty current 'as things of life,' bearing speculators, merchants, dandies, fine ladies, every thing real, and every thing affected, in the form of humanity, with pianos, and stocks of novels, and cards, and dice, and flirting, and love-making, and drinking, and champagne, and on the deck, perhaps, three hundred fellows, who have seen alligators, and neither fear whiskey, nor gun-powder. A steamboat, coming from New Orleans, brings to the remotest villages of our streams, and the very doors of the cabins, a little Paris, a section of Broadway, or a slice of Philadelphia, to ferment in the minds of our young people, the innate propensity for fashions and finery. Within a day's journey of us, three distinct canals are in respectable progress towards completion. . . . Cincinnati will soon be the center of the 'celestial empire,' as the Chinese say; and instead of encountering the storms, the sea sickness, and dangers of a passage from the gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic, whenever the Erie canal shall be completed, the opulent southern planters will take their families, their dogs and parrots, through a world of forests, from New Orleans to New York, giving us a call by the way. When they are more acquainted with us, their voyage will often terminate here."

By 1830 the produce which reached New Orleans from the Mississippi Valley amounted to about twenty-six million dollars. [Footnote: Quarterly Journal of Economics, XVII., 20; Pitkin, Statistical View (ed. of 1835), 534-536.] In 1822 three million dollars' worth of goods was estimated to have passed the Falls of the Ohio on the way to market, representing much of the surplus of the Ohio Valley. Of this, pork amounted to $1,000,000 in value; flour to $900,000; tobacco to $600,000; and whiskey to $500,000. [Footnote: National Republican, March 7, 1823; cf. National Gazette, September 26, 1823; Blane, Excursion through the U. S., 119.] The inventory of products reveals the Mississippi Valley as a vast colonial society, producing the raw materials of a simple and primitive agriculture. The beginnings of manufacture in the cities, however, promised to bring about a movement for industrial independence in the west. In spite of evidences of growing wealth, there was such a decline in agricultural prices that, for the farmer who did not live on the highways of commerce, it was almost unprofitable to raise wheat for the market.

An Ohio pioneer of this time relates that at the beginning of the decade fifty cents a bushel was a great price for wheat at the river; and as two horses and a man were required for four days to make the journey of thirty-five miles to the Ohio, in good weather, with thirty-five or forty bushels of wheat, and a great deal longer if the roads were bad, it was not to be expected that the farmer could realize more than twenty-five cents in cash for it. But there was no sale for it in cash. The nominal price for it in trade was usually thirty cents. [Footnote: Howells, Life in Ohio, 138; see M'Culloch, Commercial Dictionary, I., 683,684; Hazard, U.S. Commercial and Statistical Register, I., 251; O'Reilly, Sketches of Rochester, 362.] When wheat brought twenty-five cents a bushel in Illinois in 1825, it sold at over eighty cents in Petersburg, Virginia, and flour was six dollars a barrel at Charleston, South Carolina. [Footnote: Niles' Register, XXIX, 165.]


 

These are the economic conditions that assist in understanding the political attitude of western leaders like Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson. The cry of the east for protection to infant industries was swelled by the little cities of the west, and the demand for a home market found its strongest support beyond the Alleghenies. Internal improvements and lower rates of transportation were essential to the prosperity of the westerners. Largely a debtor class, in need of capital, credit, and an expansion of the currency, they resented attempts to restrain the reckless state banking which their optimism fostered.

But the political ideals and actions of the west are explained by social quite as much as by economic forces. It was certain that this society, where equality and individualism flourished, where assertive democracy was supreme, where impatience with the old order of things was a ruling passion, would demand control of the government, would resent the rule of the trained statesmen and official classes, and would fight nominations by congressional caucus and the continuance of presidential dynasties. Besides its susceptibility to change, the west had generated, from its Indian fighting, forest-felling, and expansion, a belligerency and a largeness of outlook with regard to the nation's territorial destiny. As the pioneer, widening the ring-wall of his clearing in the midst of the stumps and marshes of the wilderness, had a vision of the lofty buildings and crowded streets of a future city, so the west as a whole developed ideals of the future of the common man, and of the grandeur and expansion of the nation.

The west was too new a section to have developed educational facilities to any large extent. The pioneers' poverty, as well as the traditions of the southern interior from which they so largely came, discouraged extensive expenditures for public schools. [Footnote: McMaster, United States, V., 370-372.] In Kentucky and Tennessee the more prosperous planters had private tutors, often New England collegians, for their children. For example, Amos Kendall, later postmaster-general, was tutor in Henry Clay's family. So-called colleges were numerous, some of them fairly good. In 1830 a writer made a survey of higher education in the whole western country and reported twenty-eight institutions, with seven hundred and sixty-six graduates and fourteen hundred and thirty undergraduates. Less than forty thousand volumes were recorded in the college and "social" libraries of the entire Mississippi Valley. [Footnote: Am. Quarterly Register (November, 1830), III., 127-131.] Very few students went from the west to eastern colleges; but the foundations of public education had been laid in the land grants for common schools and universities. For the present this fund was generally misappropriated and wasted, or worse. Nevertheless, the ideal of a democratic education was held up in the first constitution of Indiana, making it the duty of the legislature to provide for "a general system of education, ascending in a regular graduation from township schools to a State university, wherein tuition shall be gratis, and equally open to all." [Footnote: Poore, Charters and Constitutions, pt. i., 508 (art. ix., sec. 2 of Constitution of Ind., 1816).]


 

Literature did not flourish in the west, although the newspaper press [Footnote: W. H. Perrin, Pioneer Press of Ky. (Filson Club Publications).] followed closely after the retreating savage; many short-lived periodicals were founded, [Footnote: Venable, Beginnings of Literary Culture in the Ohio Valley, chap, iii.; W. B. Cairns, Development of American Literature from 1815 to 1833, in University of Wis., Bulletin (Phil, and Lit. Series), I., 60-63.] and writers like Timothy Flint and James Hall were not devoid of literary ability. Lexington, in Kentucky, and Cincinnati made rival claims to be the "Athens of the West." In religion, the west was partial to those denominations which prevailed in the democratic portions of the older sections. Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians took the lead. [Footnote: Am. Quarterly Register, III., 135 (November, 1830); Schermerhorn and Mills, View of U. S. West of the Alleghany Mountains (Hartford, 1814); Home Missionary, 1829, pp. 78, 79; 1830, p. 172; McMaster, United States, IV., 550-555.]

The religious life of the west frequently expressed itself in the form of emotional gatherings, in the camp-meetings and the revivals, where the rude, unlettered, but deeply religious backwoods preachers moved their large audiences with warnings of the wrath of God. Muscular Christianity was personified in the circuit-rider, who, with his saddle-bags and Bible, threaded the dreary trails through the forest from settlement to settlement. From the responsiveness of the west to religious excitement, it was easy to perceive that here was a region capable of being swayed in large masses by enthusiasm. These traits of the camp-meeting were manifested later in political campaigns.

Thus this society beyond the mountains, recruited from all the older states and bound together by the Mississippi, constituted a region swayed for the most part by common impulses. By the march of the westerners away from their native states to the public domain of the nation, and by their organization as territories of the United States, they lost that state particularism which distinguished many of the old commonwealths of the coast. The section was nationalistic and democratic to the core. The west admired the self-made man and was ready to follow its hero with the enthusiasm of a section more responsive to personality than to the programmes of trained statesmen. It was a self-confident section, believing in its right to share in government, and troubled by no doubts of its capacity to rule.