Page:Transportation and colonization.djvu/54

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40

TRANSPORTATION

arrival in America sixty or eighty years ago, than convicts usually are at the present day on their arrival in New South Wales and Van Dieman's Land, especially when the captain had to sell them by auction on their arrival, to procure payment for their passage-out; and the probability is, that under such treatment as they were then subjected to in the American colonies, many of them would acquire industrious habits, and would settle themselves reputably in the New World on attaining their freedom. Supposing, however, that convicts, and the descendants of convicts, did not amount to more than one hundred thousand persons at the commencement of the American war, these individuals were not only scattered over a vast extent of territory, but commingled (so as to preclude all possibility of ascertaining their convict origin) with a population of upwards of fifteen hundred thousand souls.

It is not wonderful, therefore, that every trace of the convict origin of a certain proportion of the population of the United States of America should have disappeared entirely long ago. The free emigrant inhabitants of the American colonies were too numerous, from the very first, to permit persons of this class and origin to form a separate body in the community, far less to give the tone to society. The very complaints of the American