Cotton and Immigration
Cotton and Immigration.
Rob't T. Saunders,
Of Mobile, Alabama,
COWAN & CO., STATIONERS AND PRINTERS,
35 PINE STREET.
Comments of the London Cosmopolitan,
Before the British Association
We commend this speech to the careful perusal of our readers, especially to men who contemplate emigrating to the Corn and Cotton Fields of America.
Physical Geography of the United States of America, as affecting Agriculture.
WITH SUGGESTIONS TO EUROPEAN EMIGRATION, AND HOW LARGELY TO INCREASE THE COTTON PRODUCTION OF THE WORLD, &c., &c.
Presented and read before the British Association at Liverpool by Major Robert T. Saunders, Commissioner from the National Commercial Conventions of Louisville and Memphis, and recommended to the Chambers of Commerce and to the Geographical and Agricultural Societies of Europe.
I am one of the Commissioners appointed by President Fillmore, on behalf of the Louisville National Commercial Convention, to visit the Russian Fairs at St. Petersburg and Novgorod, and to represent that body before the chief mercantile cities of Europe, in showing the great inducements now offered in the South and West to immigration and capital.
I have also been honored with a like commission by the Chamber of Commerce of the City of Memphis, Tennessee: and but for the unfortunate war now agitating the Continent, it was my purpose to have visited Northern Europe, and to have aided, in my feeble way, towards directing attention to such portions of America as are most desirable to European emigration. I propose to speak of my country—the United States—mainly in reference to agriculture, and incidentally as to the precious metals. The matter submitted is designed to instruct emigrants where to go, and to give in general terms the features of that part of the United States which is eligible, as regards climate, temperature, and productions.
Western Half of the United States.
Except a narrow slip of California and Oregon, on the Pacific coast, the western half of the United States is a desert, and the whole country west of the ninety-eighth parallel of west longitude is comparatively worthless for agriculture, so far as value should be attached to it by those who take into consideration the constant expense and trouble of irrigation. I do not say there are no oases in this great desert. Saharah has its kingdom of Fez, and the great American Desert has its Utah of Mormon notoriety. Colorado has been called the "Switzerland of America," with its beautiful parks and mountain plateaus, some of which have an elevation of over six thousand feet above the level of the sea, but such is the aridity of the climate, that neither of these States, nor any of the States comprised in the belt lying west of the one hundreth degree of west longitude, can be made to subserve the uses of the husbandman without resorting to artificial means of irrigation.
This immense region is better known to scientific men in America than is generally supposed. Observations, made for many years by officers of the United States Army on frontier stations, have done much to throw light on this hitherto benighted land; and, prior to the late war, five surveys were made across the Rocky Mountains, at various points between the Mexican boundary and the British possessions. These different reconnaissances were made especially for the information of the Topographical Bureau.
The observations of each exploring party, noting daily the soil, climate, altitude and temperature of each locality passed over, with all the data pertinent to the different surveys made, have been carefully preserved in the archives of the Smithsonian Institution, at Washington City.
I propose to read an extract from the report of Professor J. Henry, the learned secretary of this institution, made for the benefit of the Agricultural Bureau in 1856, and reported to Congress—and to be found in the Agricultural Report of that year, page 480. We commend this entire report to emigrants wishing to go to America:—"The general character of the soil between the Mississippi River and the Atlantic is that of great fertility, and, as a whole, in its natural condition, with some exceptions at the West, is well supplied with timber. The portion, also, on the western side of the Mississippi, as far as the 98th Meridian, including the States of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, and portions of the territory of Kansas and Nebraska, are fertile, though abounding in prairies, and subject occasionally to droughts. But the whole space to the west, between the 98th meridian and the Rocky Mountains, is a barren waste, over which the eye may roam to the extent of the visible horizon with scarcely an object to break the monotony. From the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, with the exception of the rich but narrow belt along the ocean, the country may also be considered, in comparison with other portions of the United States, a wilderness, unfitted for the uses of the husbandman; although in some of the mountain valleys, as at Salt Lake, by means of irrigation, a precarious supply of food may be obtained, sufficient to sustain a considerable population, provided they can be induced to submit to privations from which American citizens generally would shrink. The portions of the mountain system further South are generally inhospitable, though they have been represented to be of a different character. In traversing this region whole days are frequently passed without meeting a rivulet or spring of water to slake the thirst of the weary traveler. It is true that a considerable portion of the interior is comparatively little known from actual exploration, but its general character can be inferred from that which has been explored. As has been said before, it consists of an elevated swell of land, covered with ridges, running in a northerly direction inclining to the west. The western slopes, or those which face the ocean, are better supplied with moisture, and contain more vegetation, than the eastern slopes; and this increases as we approach the Pacific, along the coast of which, throughout the whole boundary of the United States to the Gulf of California, exists a border of land of delightful climate and of fertile soil, varying from 50 to 200 miles in width. The transition, however, from this border to a parallel district in the interior, is of the most marked and astonishing character. Starting from the sea coast, and leaving a temperature of 65 degrees, we may, in the course of a single day's journey, in some cases, reach an arid valley, in which the thermometer in the shade marks a temperature of 110 degrees. We have stated that the entire region west of the 98th degree of west longitude, with the exception of a small portion of western Texas, and the narrow border along the Pacific, is a country of comparatively little value to the agriculturist; and, perhaps, it will astonish the reader if we direct his attention to the fact that this line, which passes southward from Lake Winnepeg to the Gulf of Mexico, will divide the whole surface of the United States into two nearly equal parts. This statement, when fully appreciated, will serve to dissipate some of the dreams which have been considered as realities, as to the destiny of the Western part of the North American continent. Truth, however, transcends even the laudable feelings of pride of country; and in order properly to direct the policy of this great confederacy, it is necessary to be well acquainted with the theatre on which its future history is to be enacted, and by whose character it will mainly be shaped."
The marked features of the vast region of which we speak is the very great difference of the heat of the days and nights.
Colonel Emory, who made the first survey across the continent, says:—"On the 23d of October we retired with the thermometer at 70 degrees, and awoke in the morning shivering, with the mercury marking 25 degrees, notwithstanding our blankets were as dry as if we had slept in a house. … These low morning temperatures were found to characterize the whole country between Upper Mexico, and the settlements near Great Salt Lake, the summer observations for three' successive days being at 14 degrees and 15 degrees. At Salt Lake, Utah Territory, it is difficult to grow Indian corn, because of the extreme aridity of the air, though the mean temperature is 10 degrees above that necessary in a moist climate. The local cooling at night, and the higher heats by day, are both unfavorable in this arid atmosphere."
To show these facts from more,recent authority, we quote from the report of the Agricultural Bureau for the year 1865 (pages 528 and 529):—"The desert and mountainous regions of our own continent furnish ample illustration of these phenomena of radiation." Captain Beckwith, in his narrative of the Central Pacific Railroad Survey, remarks:—"We observed the greatest contrasts between the heat of the day and of the night in these mountain valleys, from noon to three p. m. the thermometer standing at 87 degrees to 90 degrees, and at night falling below the freezing point."
That accomplished English scholar, Professor John Tyndall, says that it may be safely predicted, that whenever the air is dry the daily thermometric range, or the difference between the extremes of heat and cold, will be very great. In his celebrated lecture on "Radiation," before the University of Cambridge in 1865, in discussing aqueous vapor in relation to terrestrial temperatures, he remarks:—"This aqueous vapor is of the utmost to the life of the world. Imagine the superficial molecules of the earth trembling with the motion of heat, and imparting it to the surrounding ether; this motion would be carried rapidly away and lost to our planet, if the waves of ether had nothing but the air to contend with in their natural course. But the aqueous vapour takes up the motion of the ethereal waves, and becomes thereby heated, thus wrapping the earth like a warm garment, and protecting its surface from the deadly chill which it would otherwise sustain."
The observations of meteorologists furnish important though hitherto unconscious evidence of the influence of this agent. Wherever the air is dry, we are liable to daily extremes of temperature. By day, in such places, the sun's heat reaches the earth unimpeded, and renders the maximum high; by night, on the other hand, the earth's heat escapes unhindered into space, and renders the maximum low. Hence the difference between the maximum and minimum is greatest where the air is driest. In the plains of India, on the heights of the Himalaya, in Central Asia, and in Australia, wherever drought reigns, we have the heat of day forcibly contrasted with the chill of night. In the Sahara itself, where the sun's rays cease to impinge on the burning soil, the temperature runs rapidly down to freezing, because there is no vapor overhead to check the calorific drain.
Even in deserts—the home of the simoom and sirocco—where "the soil is fire, and the wind is flame," refrigeration at night is painful to bear, and hoar frost is not unfrequently produced. Eastern travellers in the desert often complain of the broiling heat of the day, and of its chill temperature at night. Beautiful allusions are also found in Scripture to the same law, where it is related that one of the greatest hardships which Jacob experienced while tending the flocks of Laban was that through the "drought by day, and the frosts by night, sleep departed from his eyes."
The Dry Line.
Much has been said respecting European emigration following in America isothermal lines. Isohygrometic lines, however, are far more important. The elements of fertility are heat and moisture, and one is fully as essential as the other.
From these facts, then, the 98th meridian becomes one of great importance to him who is studying the climate of the United States. Lay its map before you, and you will find that it cuts off into the desert a portion of Minnesota, nine-tenths of Nebraska, a large part of Kansas, half of the Indian Territory, and more than half of Texas. The climatic line is not absolutely confined, however, to this degree: it varies with the prevailing wind, whose hot breath brings drought, and sometimes desolation with it.
In Minnesota, for instance, we have this account of a destructive drought, in the Agricultural Report of 1863:—"The drought of last year must not be overlooked, however. From October, 1862, to August 4, 1863, we had but about twelve inches of snow and three inches of rain, the result of which (being confined to the northern part of our State chiefly) cut off our grain crops on many farms. Fortunately, the work being pushed on the Pacific Railroad, the labour required furnished aid to many, and a very mild winter following, much suffering was prevented. With a judicious expenditure by our own State of money, and perhaps a small appropriation in aid of the enterprise by Congress, the irrigation of a large portion of this section of the State may be effected, to prevent droughts hereafter, as well as bring a good return to the State Treasury, and an increase of crops to the farmers who will take advantage of the enterprise."
Thus it will be seen that in a State settled up very largely, and still drawing into it thousands of the Scandinavians of Europe, they are already looking to artificial means to remedy the defects of their climate. Scarcity of timber and water are the great difficulties which are everywhere met with in the great trans-Mississippi plains. In Nebraska the scarcity of timber forces the new settlers to make "dug-outs" in the side of the hills, until they can construct mud or "adobe houses."
In the State of Texas, the "dry line," in entering it on the north, recedes to the west; and the western limit of the cotton-fields of the United States is a line passing north and south through San Antonio. It curves, however, round to the south-east, and touches the Gulf of Mexico about the mouth of the Nueces, on the ninety-seventh parallel of longitude.
Looking from this point towards the Pacific, over this arid waste, along the El Paso route, for fourteen hundred miles, except a strip on the Rio Grande, and a spot on the Rio Gila, which are rendered productive by irrigation, that wide expanse is entirely unfitted for the uses of practical agriculture. Along this dreary, rainless, treeless tract, every species of growth is spinous. The grass has thorns; and original explorers thought even the frogs had horns. The cactus, which is sometimes forty feet high, and two feet in diameter, supplies the place of trees. The "Llano estacado," or "staked plain," of Western Texas, is so devoid of trees, to guide the traveller, that even the wild Comanche is compelled to set up stakes to navigate this ocean-like plain: hence, its name.
Further north and west of the Indian Territory the same wide domain assumes a novel feature; here an efflorescence of salt crackles under the feet of the walker, as if frozen snow had fallen upon the ground, and imparts to the whole earth a parched appearance.
Proceeding further north, the eye of the traveller is greeted at a great distance with the sight of trees. He approaches and finds "Le Grand Forêt" of the old Canadian Trappers—the "Big Timbers" of the Arkansas River now in the State of Kansas.
Going on in this direction over the same unbroken, bare plain, for hundreds of miles, you reach the Platte River, which is skirted with a few willow trees; and, hence through the heart ofand Montana, upon still the same endless plain, to the northern limits of the United States. From which boundary, looking back south, to the frontiers of Mexico, over seventeen degrees of latitude, perhaps, there is no point where the forest is as large, or as wide, as that of the "Big Timbers," already mentioned—and that "Grand Forest" is not a mile in width.
In view of these facts, then, let the emigrant beware of approaching the 98th meridian, or of going too far west. It is true that the settlers on the fresh lands here have hitherto succeeded in most years in making fair crops, but this is owing, perhaps, to the strength and freshness of the soil, full of vegetable matter, holding the water like a sponge, and preventing its evaporation. When this vegetable matter shall have been exhausted by cultivation, periodical rains will be indispensable. In short, those who emigrate to the "Far West" must calculate to rely on irrigation solely in their agricultural operations.
The objection of this is that so few places can be found where water can be had, and, even when had, so little of the land is below the water level, and susceptible of irrigation. A third objection to this system is the expense inseparably connected with it.
In a report recently made by the Hon. J. Ross Brown (in 1868, page 484), and referred by the Secretary of the Treasury to Congress, respecting irrigation canals in the territory of Utah, he says:—"There have been constructed 277 main canals, in length amounting to 1,043 miles, and which water 153,949 acres of land, at a cost of $1,766,939, and that there is in course of construction canals at an estimated cost of $900,000."
There are already, in the single county of Jefferson, in the State of Colorado, "about one hundred and forty miles of large irrigating ditches, besides several hundred miles of smaller private ditches, used by each farmer for his own crops.
The trouble and expense of irrigation must everywhere be resorted to, in order to produce either crops of grain or vegetables, in this arid climate. This shows it would be much better for emigrants to purchase lands in more favoured regions, even if higher prices were paid.
I know the impression prevails that the further you go to the west the richer the lands, and the more cheap and desirable. This impression is sedulously fostered by the agents of land and railway companies, who have "palmed off" millions of acres in this arid region, where, without irrigation, there is no certainty in crops.
The completion of the Union Pacific Railroad will cause an immense amount of land along its track through this dreary, inhospitable region, recently donated by the Government to the company, to be brought into market. The company is composed of the keenest speculators in America, who have already been using some "sharp practice" in obtaining millions of land and money from the United States Government. They will have their agents sown broadcast over Europe, thicker than life insurance agents in America.
Let unsuspecting emigrants beware, or they will deeply bewail their credulity after having been set down with exhausted means in some accursed region where no water can be had, no timber in sight, no friendly cloud to shield them from the intense heat by day, and where they will shiver by night from cold, and where they will be in constant danger of being scalped by roving bands of merciless savages. Their only resource in such circumstances would be in joining the nearest mining company.
And this brings me to speak of the mineral resources of this immense region, for the benefit of persons in Europe who have been engaged in mining, and who wish to seek a new home.
The gold product, since 1848, of California, and other mining districts, has been estimated at one billion two hundred and fifty millions of dollars. Up to a few years past, the greatest production was in California. But,, subsequently, new mines have been discovered and worked in the great interior region, east of California. Cities have sprung up as if by magic, and out of an annual gold product of seventy-five millions of dollars, California now furnishes only one-third part.
Persons of mechanical skill or scientific knowledge in this department of industry can here find an ample and remunerative field for the exercise of their abilities.
Eastern half of the United States.
I come now to the pleasing task of speaking of that portion of my country, which I can recommend truthfully, to emigrants as a "Good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains, and depths that spring out of valleys and hills—a land of wheat and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and pomegranates—a land of oil, olive, and honey—a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass."
From the great lakes of the north, to the Gulf of Mexico, it is a domain of immense extent, of great fertility, but quite a variety of soils, watered from the clouds as no country in Europe is—except England—exceeding that in amount of rain, but not equal in frequency of showers; of a fine climate, yet differing on the several parallels of latitude, and susceptible of such variety and diversity of productions, that were its capabilities fully developed, extending, as it does, across so many degrees, it could be made to produce every article which is required for food and clothing, or used in the industrial pursuits of civilized life.
I shall not attempt to discuss, seriatim, the fitness of each section for special crops. This would be impossible in a single paper. In personal intercourse it will afford me pleasure to impart such information in regard to localities as I may be able, but shall now only call your attention to such general facts as may enable you to judge more correctly of our country as a whole.
Its southern border rests on the 26th degree, and extends to the 46th degree of north' latitude. Do not suppose that there is any difficulty in wheat and barley maturing in this high latitude. Not only wheat but Indian corn (except in seasons of summer frosts), mature and do well, and there is not a more plentiful country on the face of the earth. The Northern summer is short—much shorter than in the South—but it is much hotter while it lasts, and plants get their required amount of sunshine in a smaller number of days.
Observations on temperature made by scientific men since 1819 have been preserved in the Smithsonian Institution, and published from time to time. Of late years they have been transmitted by its secretary to the Agricultural Bureau, and have been embodied in its report. From an examination of these tables it will be seen that the proposition which I have advanced is incontestably true. In one of the recent reports the fact is stated, and philosophically accounted for as follows:—"For though there is absolutely more heat at the latitude of New Orleans during the year than at Madison, Wisconsin, yet there is more heat received at this latter place, during the three months of midsummer than in the same time at the former place."
In the same report, and accompanying it, is a table showing the sun's diurnal intensity at every ten degrees of latitude. It further says:—"On the 15th of June the sun is more than 23 degrees north of the equator, and therefore it might be readily inferred that the intensity of heat should be greater at this latitude than at the equator; but that it should continue to increase beyond this even to the pole, as indicated by the table, may not at first sight appear so clear. It will, however, be understood when it is recollected that though in a northern latitude the obliquity of the ray is greater, and on this account the intensity should be less, yet the longer duration of the day is more than sufficient to compensate for this effect, and produce the result exhibited."
As an illustration of the position, observations made in Alaska, near the Artie Ocean, in the country recently purchased by the United States from Russia, show an astonishing summer heat. In the northern district of Youkon, where the surface of the ground thaws in summer to the depth of three or four feet, as stated in the Agricultural Report for 1868, the greatest degree of cold ever known in this territory was 70 degrees below zero:—"I have seen the thermometer at noon at Fort Youkon, not in the direct rays of the sun, standing at 112 degrees, and I am informed by the commander of the post that several spirit thermometers, graduated to 120 degrees, had burst under the scorching sun of the Arctic midsummer, which can only be appreciated by one who has endured it. In midsummer on the upper Youkon, the only relief from the intense heat, under which vegetation attains an almost tropical luxuriance, is the two or three hours during which the sun hovers near the northern horizon; and the weary voyager in his canoe, blesses the transient coolness of the midnight air. Fortunate it is for our Northern States and the Canadas, that the heat of their short summers should be so decided; for otherwise their cereals would not ripen, and a dense population of intelligent, vigorous, and enterprising men, could not be sustained there. On this subject the distinguished Mr. Lippincott, of New Jersey, remarks in his essay on the "Geography of Plants," embodied in the agricultural report for 1863: "The aggregate of heat (which a plant requires) may be received during a shorter term in high latitudes, because of the greatly increased length of the day, and the processes hastened and maturity attained at an early day. This is well illustrated in the growth of Indian corn, which is said to be remarkably accommodating; though it must have a semi-tropical heat where-ever grown. The extraordinary high temperatures experienced in certain Northern localities, remote from the ocean, and the intense calorific and chemical action of the sun's rays, enhanced by the extreme length of the days of summer, enables this plant to mature in high northern latitudes.
Great Britain and Canada.
An Englishman, judging solely from experience at home, I dare say, is astonished at the position I assume. But you must recollect that you live upon an island enveloped in aqueous vapour, and that you are shielded from the hot rays of the sun in summer.
Americans sometimes maliciously say, that they have been six weeks in England without seeing the sun, and when it did appear, it looked like a "boiled turnip;" and that the only ripe fruit they ate here was a boiled apple.
While, in the general, European climates are much warmer than American on the same parallel, England is an exception to the rule. While in Upper Canada, on the same parallel, sixty days in summer, with a clear tropical heat, frequently as high as 102 degrees, are sufficient to mature Indian corn, here the heat is rarely up to 80, and it cannot be grown.
In Canada in winter the cold is frequently 30 degs. below zero: here it seldom falls to 20 degrees above it. Fortunate Island! With a friendly cloud to intercept the scorching rays of the sun in summer, and the Gulf Stream to subdue the extreme cold of winter, it has a climate, of great salubrity; its hills and valleys are clothed with verdure; its agricultural products (Indian corn to the contrary notwithstanding) are immense, and the only objection to it is—that it is too small.
Grapes and Hops.
The high range of the thermometer in the Northern States, during midsummer, with the peculiar atmospheric influence of lakes, have caused an anomaly in production. Here, so 'far, has the grape found its favourite habitation. The coldness of these bodies of water in spring retards the budding of the vines, and their warmth postpones the frosts of Autumn, and gives time for the maturity of the purple clusters. Out of 24,000 acres cultivated in the grape, east of the Rocky Mountains, perhaps more than half are in New York and around Lake Erie. In the former, one county, Steuben, has 4,000, and a single county in northern Ohio—Cuyahoga, nearly 6,000 acres in cultivation, all native varieties, for no foreign one has ever succeeded there, except under glass.
Another product, the hop, is cultivated in many localities. Its favorite home is Wisconsin, where in one county—Sauk—more hops are made than in any county in the world—Kent, in England, not excepted. The special reason for this success maybe, perhaps, the heat of the summer—the severity of the winters,which freeze up and destroy insects which delight in sucking up its juices, and a current of dry air from the west, about the season of maturity, which prevents the blight which follows rains in other places.
Ignorance in America Respecting Climate.
Much greater ignorance is apparent even in America on this subject than would at first appear. Most Southerners imagine that if they can only grow sufficient cotton, or sugar, to take them north during the summer months,, where during June, July, and August, they can manage to keep cool, they will be healthy during the remainder of the year; and while sweltering in Northern watering places, and "roasting" in Northern cities, they console themselves in enduring the great heat, by the mistaken belief that it is an unusually heated term for that climate, and that it must be much warmer at their southern homes.
On the other hand. Northerners who have spent the winter in the South in search of health or profit, hasten away at the first warm breath of summer, impelled by the same delusion.
On the 28th day of last June, the thermometer in Havana and Mobile was at 82 degrees, in Key West and New Orleans at 84 degrees, in Buffalo at 87 degrees, but in New York City at 94 degrees. By comparing the telegraphic advices from various portions of the country and the West Indies, it will be perceived that New York on that day was, thermometrically, although not geographically, nearer the equator and the torrid zone, than either Florida or Cuba, by fully 10 degrees. Could Southern tourists, in search of cool and more invigorating climates, have been returned on that day to their homes in Alabama and Louisiana, they would have felt as if they had been transported several degrees towards the North Pole and the frigid zone, from the latitude of New York City.
The only wise plan for those who, for health, are seeking a change of air and temperature in America, is to repair to the nearest mountains, where an elevation of one thousand feet generally makes it three degrees cooler. Mountains can be found North and South, sometimes between five and six thousand feet in altitude.
The West—I do not mean the "Far West," but the "Great West," which by its teeming products built up the populous cities of Chicago, Cincinnati, and St. Louis, and a long list of towns which are the seats of trade, refinement, and educational establishments—occupies the relative position to the other States that Egypt did to the Eastern countries in the days of the Patriarchs. In view of the increase of our population, and the immense immigration from Europe, no limit can be fixed to the demands for the raw productions of this great granary of the world. These staples are too simple and well understood to require comment.
The area of the cotton growing States embraces a territory of over eight hundred thousand square miles, almost as large as the aggregate area of Great Britain, France, Prussia, Austria, and Italy. The single cotton State of Texas, is larger than either Great Britain, France, Prussia or Italy, and nearly equal in area to the Austrian Empire.
For the most part the Southern States have heretofore raised cotton as a staple, and only a portion of their breadstuffs for home consumption; but a salutary change is now taking place. A more improved system of agriculture is being introduced.
The great elements of civilization and wealth are to be found east of the Mississippi River, and in the States bordering on that river. Many of the crops grown in the great States north of the Ohio River can be produced in the cotton States. Besides cotton, sugar, Indian corn, tobacco, rice, wheat, rye, oats, beans, hops, peas, vegetables, fruits, flax, hemp, timber, wool, beef, pork and hides can be produced for market; while South-western Virginia, East Tennessee, Northern Alabama, and Georgia, South-western Missouri, and North-western Arkansas, offer ample supplies of iron, coal, copper, lead, marble, limestone, and sandstone.
Needless is it for me to refer to the sad story of the American War. Scarcely had two generations passed away—not an hour in the life of a nation—ere jealousies and contentions sprang up which completely changed the Constitution.
From recent observations in Lancashire, I am inclined to the belief that the cotton spinning interests of those districts have suffered almost as much from the late war as the cotton planters of the South.
I quote from a report adopted by the Memphis Commercial Convention on this subject, entitled, "The Cotton Trade of the World:"—"Cheap cotton, then, and in sufficient supply, is what the world requires, and must have. Lancashire and the continent of Europe must obtain cheaper cottons, or their mills must stop. For the past two years they have paid for 'American Middlings,' and 'Fair Egyptians,' an average price of over 10d. per pound and many mills are now closed, or working 'short time' in consequence of the continued high price of raw cotton. With the levees up, the freedman would seek the alluvial lands of the Mississippi Valley, finding there a better reward for his labor. The climate agrees with him and he with the climate. With an intelligent white immigration settling upon the 'uplands' of the Cotton States; with smaller farms and improved seeds; with deep ploughing, commercial manures, an enlightened system of cultivation—using all the appliances of improved husbandry, and employing every available means to render the soil increasingly productive—we could easily extend the average yield of the Southern cotton, crops again to five millions in place of two million five hundred thousand bales. It is estimated that Georgia alone in the present year has consumed upwards of twenty thousand tons of commercial manures—guanos and phosphates—in improving her cotton lands. The product is doubled by it, the cultivation of one-half the area is saved, and the laborer has time to devote to the cereals and fruits, making life on a cotton plantation more agreable to the habits and tastes of the white man. We commend this system to the attention of the 'Cotton Trade,' because they can safely advise immigrants to come to the healthy and well-watered 'uplands' of the South, with a fair prospect of growing cotton successfully without the constant drudgery which was once thought necessary for its production, and at the same time surrounding their little habitations with the luxuries and comforts which they have been accustomed to in their Northern and European homes. For although necessity may compel the introduction of labourers from the half-civilized pagan races of the earth, we confess we have a strong preference for those of a higher stamp, and who will ultimately make good citizens, merged into our population. Improved lands can now be had in any of the cotton States at prices varying from one to five pounds sterling—five to twenty-five dollars per acre—and farming utensils and work stock can be purchased at fair prices. The great aversion proprietors formerly had to the subdivision of their plantations is now rapidly giving way, and lands can now be purchased or leased in convenient lots of any size. With the many inducements now presented to purchase cheap healthful lands and comfortable homes in a country possessing natural advantages unequaled in any other portion of the cotton world, does it not behoove the 'Cotton Trade,' both of Europe and America, to direct public attention and immigration to us, and aid us in working our unoccupied cotton fields? By so doing they would indirectly benefit themselves, and very materially aid us. Every variety of climate and soil is presented in the cotton belt, stretching from the Atlantic to the Rio Grande, and from the Ohio River to the Gulf of Mexico."
From a region, then, of such vast extent, what might we not expect, if there were union of effort amongst those interested, to stimulate a larger production? Practically there is no limit to the cotton production of these States.
The sun of Heaven shines not on a land more varied in soil, climate, and production, or better fitted for the habitation of man.
I would incidentally remark that, in less than six months after I wrote the above report, 50,000 freedmen left the uplands of Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia, and went principally to the cotton fields of the Mississippi River Valley, and largely contributed to saving the last cotton crop, which amounts to over three millions of bales.
No portion of the world is more largely or regularly irrigated by rainfall, or supplied more periodically with aqueous vapour, than the Cotton States of America. The moist winds, so requisite to the life of the cotton plant, are borne by the "balmy south," from the warm bosom of the Gulf Stream, and diffused over the eastern and southern slopes of theand Osage ranges, and flow up the great valley of that mighty river—the Mississippi, whose source, though mid "eternal snows," has its outlet "mid eternal flowers."
The configuration of the lower Apalachian and Osage ranges, both trending south-westwardly, and sloping to the Gulf and ocean—the close relations between mountain and sea, inviting the moist south winds, the heat and moisture generated by regular spring and summer rains, the comparatively dry autumn—all conduce to form the climate of the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, South-Western Tennessee, South-Eastern Missouri, Arkansas, Northern Louisiana, and Eastern Texas, so genial to the life and health, growth and maturity of the cotton plant.
The sections of the South which raise stock are the most delightful of all others—Kentucky, Middle and East Tennessee—while in many others, where cotton grows well, a variety of products can be grown which is wonderful.
On the eminence in North Alabama, where I was born and reared, you may see its hill-sides clothed with flourishing vineyards and orchards of apples, peaches, pears, apricots, plums, and cherries. On a field which has been cultivated fifty years without fertilizers, you can see a heavy crop of clover grown without gypsum, fine fields of Indian corn, cotton, wheat, oats, and Chinese sugar-cane; while in the garden flourish a great variety of vegetables known to higher latitudes, with besides pea-nuts, sweet potatoes, and delicious melons and figs.
This is but one picture for many Southern homes, and thousands could be cultivated with the same variety of products, but for an anxious desire to become suddenly rich. In many parts of the South a rotation could be adopted having clover as a fertilizer, and cotton as the hoe (or cleaning crop) which once fully in operation on a farm would be attended with great profit to the owner and improvement to the land. In sandy soils, where clover will not succeed, the pea can be substituted, and the commercial manures used freely, as is now done extensively in Georgia and South Carolina.
Just now, when the improvement of lands has seized the public mind, immense deposits of phosphate of lime have been found along the banks of the South Carolina rivers, and are being worked very successfully, yielding untold thousands of tons of this valuable fertilizer.
Cotton Consumption of the World.
Permit me, in conclusion, to read an extract from a letter which I had the honor of addressing to the Manchester Cotton Supply Association, as delegate from the Memphis Commercial Convention:—"One of two things must take place—consumption must continue materially to diminish, or cotton supply must be increased in proportion to the wants of the world. After all, I can but think that the whole future 'Cotton Supply' question depends in the main on the production of the Southern States of America. That grown in East India, China, Brazil, Peru, West Indies, Egypt, Turkey, and the Levant, is required to be sent back to those countries, for they all import in the aggregate more cotton in the shape of goods and yarns than they export, thereby showing that they do not raise a sufficient collective supply for their own wants. It will be found that cotton growing will be followed steadily only in those countries where it can be made more profitable than other pursuits. Where indigo, coffee, tobacco, sugar, or breadstuffs will bring better prices, or suit the climate, soil, or conditions of a people better than cotton, cotton-culture may be forced for a few years by the power of high prices, and the necessities of a resolute, intelligent and persistent manufacturing people. But such culture will only be temporary, because in defiance of the laws of true economy. Other nations can and will produce cotton when stimulated by high prices; but what Great Britain and Continental Europe require is a regular and sufficient supply of cheap cotton. According to the census of the United States, in 1860, our population amounted to 31,443,821 souls. Assuming the same ratio of increase our population in 1885 will be over 66,000,000, and in the year 1900 will be over 103,000,000. Assuming the estimate heretofore made of consumption of cotton in machine goods for the United States at 12 pounds per head, it will be apparent that within the short period of fifteen years two millions of bales of 400 pounds each will be required, and in 30 years 3,100,000 bales will be required of the same average to clothe our own people. I have no means of correctly ascertaining the probable increase in the populations of other nations of the earth, but their present probable cotton-consuming capacity is reckoned as follows:
|Great Britain and Ireland, 9 lb. per head||30,000,000||270,000,000|
|France, 4 lb. per head||38,000,000||152,000,000|
|Asia (including Islands), 1 lb. per head||785,000,000||785,000,000|
|Australia (including Islands), 1 lb. per head|
|Polynesia and Egypt, 1 lb. per head|
|Rest of Europe, 1 lb. per head||226,000,000||226,000,000|
|South America, &c., 1 lb. per head||40,000,000||40,000,000|
|Out of this population it is estimated that only six hundred millions wear cotton. If we add stocks held over in various places of the world, and that manufactured by hand at
|It would show that
Native and Exotic Cotton Seed.
The nature of the cotton plant is very peculiar, and remarkably sensitive. Where it is an annual, it partakes in no small degree of the laws governing the vegetable kingdom. Similar soils and sub-soils, as shown by chemical analysis, even in^ adjoining States, rarely produce like results. Cotton grown from seed carried from any of the Atlantic Cotton States into Mississippi or Arkansas will continue to improve from like soils, whereas cotton grown from Texas seed in Georgia or South Carolina will continue, after the first crop, to deteriorate. I carried three years since from England, into Alabama and Arkansas native Egyptian and East Indian cotton seeds. They were experimented with on several plantations in both States. The first year the samples from both seeds were nothing extra, but the second year they materially improved. As a general rule, cotton-seed brought to the United States, from where it is a native to where it is an exotic, will produce a better cotton than where it is grown, the tendency being continually to a longer and better staple. On the contrary. Mobile or New Orleans seed planted in Egypt, the Levant, or East India, will produce cotton the first year nearly equal to its original, but every year of reproduction, from the same seed, will exhibit more and more deterioration; and, after the third year, the exotic is no better than the native seed. Hence the absolute necessity of frequent renewals, of good staple American seeds, where cotton is grown in Egypt and in India.
White Labour in the South.
White labour in the State of Florida is commencing to produce largely early fruits and vegetables for the Northern markets, and if ever the great staple, "Cotton," should fail to be profitable, a number of new ones could be successfully introduced from the Southern parts of Europe and Asia. But it is frequently asked by Europeans, can "white men" labour under a summer sun, in the Southern States?
I answer that "white men" do labour with remarkable success in midsummer in the Northern States, where the heat is greater and the days longer and what is to prevent them from labouring in the South, where there is less heat, and the days are shorter, and the nights of more refreshing coolness.
Out of the whole number of labourers, now employed South in the cultivation of cotton, it has been estimated that fully one-fourth part are composed of white men.
A correct examination of the "Rain Maps" presented by the Smithsonian Institution to the British Association will give no little information respecting the physical geography, climatology, and agricultural features of the United States. I therefore commend their careful study to all Europeans wishing to emigrate to America.
I should be pleased to discuss many of these points in detail, but it would not be practicable on such an occasion.
My object has been mainly to correct popular errors in reference to the "Far West," and the summer climate of the United States; and I have adhered to dry facts, and rested my statements upon the highest authorities.
We have quoted largely from them. We have attempted nothing original; statements of facts are rarely ever original.
We welcome emigrants from the civilized Christian nations of Europe to our land, in which we have a just pride, and on which, we may truly say,, have the gifts of nature been most prodigally lavished.
"Her mighty lakes, like oceans of liquid silver; her mountains with their bright aerial tints; her valleys teeming with wild fertility; her tremendous cataracts, thundering in their solitudes; her boundless plains, waving with spontaneous verdure; her broad deep rivers, rolling in solemn silence to the ocean; her trackless forests, where vegetation puts forth all its magnificence; her skies, kindling with the magic of summer clouds and glorious sunshine "—bid them welcome.
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.