Page:Democracy in America (Reeve, v. 1).djvu/52

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


in lakes and marshes, it flows slowly onwards to the south. Sometimes quietly gliding along the argillaceous bed which nature has assigned to it, sometimes swoln by storms, the Mississippi waters 2500 miles in its course[1]. At the distance of 1364 miles from its mouth, this river attains an average depth of fifteen feet; and it is navigated by vessels of 300 tons burden for a course of nearly 500 miles. Fifty-seven large navigable rivers contribute to swell the waters of the Mississippi; amongst others, the Missouri, which traverses a space of 2500 miles, the Arkansas of 1300 miles, the Red River 1000 miles; four whose course is from 800 to 1000 miles in length, viz. the Illinois, the St. Peter's, the St. Francis, and the Moingona; besides a countless multitude of rivulets which unite from all parts their tributary streams.

The valley which is watered by the Mississippi seems formed to be the bed of this mighty river, which like a god of antiquity dispenses both good and evil in its course. On the shores of the stream nature displays an inexhaustible fertility; in proportion as you recede from its banks, the powers of vegetation languish, the soil becomes poor, and the plants that survive have a sickly growth. Nowhere have the great convulsions of the globe left more evident traces than in the valley of the Mississippi: the whole aspect of the country shows the powerful effects of water, both by its fertility and by its

  1. Warden's ‘Description of the United States.’