ON my second visit to Cincinnati, I went to a private house in preference to an hotel, having found the one I lodged at very crowded and noisy, without a counterbalance to be found in an agreeable or polished society. It was some time before I could find what I wanted. Wherever I applied, I met with great civility, and a readiness to assist me in searching for a house that would accommodate me. Very erroneous opinions are often formed of a place from the company at the taverns. The reception I found at the establishment, to which I was admitted, was such that I must have been "hard to please" if I had found fault with it; and my fellow-lodgers were obliging and courteous. While conversing with one of the students, of whom I have before spoken, he shewed me a letter he had received from Lewis Tappan, of New York. I took the following extract from it, as it shews the state of the public press in America. After relating what had passed during the examination, at a public meeting, of a person who had been some time at Liberia, of which place he gave a most lamentable account, the writer adds: "The newspapers have endeavoured to mislead the public on this subject, and have done it to a considerable extent. We cannot get any explanation into any influential paper, except the Evangelist, unless by chance. Charles King --editor of the American --told me the abolitionists are right. 'Why don't you say so in your paper?' he laughed and replied: 'The time has not come yet,' and in a few days he admitted a piece against us. One of the editors of the Daily Advertiser, --of the name of Townsend, told me, our cause was a just one. 'Why then do you not publish articles on our side?' He looked angry, and said, ' The paper is my property: I'm not going to injure it.' So he says nothing on either side."
Among my colored friends at this place was one from North Carolina, who was well acquainted with Damon Jones, having lived in the same part of the country with him for some time. He spoke of him as an industrious honest man, temperate in his habits and respected by those who knew him. He had heard of the ill treatment he had met with. The last time he saw him was on the public road, in company with a white man. They appeared to be going towards the South. This corresponds exactly with what Damon told me --that he was decoyed into Alabama. Of Mr. Gaston my informant expressed himself in very different terms. He described him as a hard master, and an advocate in the legislature of the State, for severe measures against the slaves. Free backs have the elective franchise in North Carolina; and in some districts it has happened that they have been almost the only voters at an election. Some of them are wealthy; and all who conduct themselves with propriety are much less insulted and molested than their brethren in the northern states. This disgraceful pre-eminence in injustice is an indisputable fact; and I never met with a free black from the South who could not testify to its truth from the experience of his own feelings. There are but few States where these people enjoy the elective franchise: and they are, I believe, in the free, --Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania; but they seldom or never make any use of it in Philadelphia: North Carolina and Tennessee alone of the Slave States, allow them the privilege of voting. Their political and social disabilities are almost as various as the States to which they belong; and while both are subject to modifications by their removal from one to another, they still remain in the lowest rank of society, with an impassable barrier between themselves and others who occupy the scale above.
They appear to be further removed from the common sympathies of our nature in Eastern Virginia than in any other part of the Union; and to be, in some respects, in a less enviable situation than those slaves who have fallen into the hands of humane masters. I could always distinguish a free man from a slave at Richmond, by the former taking off his hat to me as he passed --a piece of conciliatory civility which the other feels to be a work of supererogation, as his master will protect him. The better the coat, the more submissive was the bow of the wearer. A remarkably fine-looking man of very respectable appearance touched his hat to me one day as I was going by. As there was no other person where he stood, I stopped and entered into conversation with him, and asked him whether he was not free. "No, Sir!" was his reply --"most people think as you do but I am not so." It was civility that induced him to bow: in most others it is fear.
There are few places in the States where capital can be more advantageously employed than at Cincinnati. Money is frequently let at fifteen, twenty, and even twenty-five per cent. per annum. A land agent in the city told me he had just obtained a mortgage at ten per cent. on the best land security. At New York, a mortgage, except for small sums and short periods, can seldom be had for more than six per cent. The legal interest is seven. In Ohio, the legislative Procrustes has not put the honest and industrious borrower into the same bed with the rogue and the spendthrift. The necessaries of life are cheap here. Board and lodging may be had for two dollars and a half a week. Mechanics pay generally about half that sum, though they can earn from one to three dollars a-day, according to their skill and the kind of employment. They are, in fact considering the changes and chances to which men in business are subject, in a more eligible situation than many of the store-keepers and small capitalists, as their remuneration, is secure from almost every risk but that which arises from their own want of prudence. The value of land in the vicinity of the city has risen with its extension. Lots, that twelve years ago were hardly worth four or five dollars an acre, now fetch as many hundreds: Land, at the distance of ten to fifty miles, is worth from 50 to 100 dollars an acre, with intermediate prices, corresponding to the degrees of proximity. As the great emporium of trade to the Western States, Cincinnati cannot fail to become, in the course of a few years, a populous and wealthy city.
Twenty years ago, a journey from New Orleans to this place would have taken ninety days; it can now be performed in twelve. The cost of freight has diminished in a greater proportion. Seventy cents the cwt. from Philadelphia are, at present, about the average for goods, which, at that time, were charged twelve dollars. The city contains between thirty and forty thousand souls; and, from the advantages it enjoys as a manufacturing and shipping town, may, be expected to continue at its present rate of increase. It supplies the Southern market with machinery of various kinds, implements of husbandry, and articles of furniture. Hence, in a great measure, the bitter hostility it has manifested against every thing that may lead to the abolition or amelioration of a system on which it thinks, as Liverpool once thought of the slave-trade, its interests depend. There was but a small addition made to the city the year in which I visited it; the number of new buildings, which had averaged 500 annually, having dwindled down to little more than fifty, owing to the war carried on by "the hero of New Orleans" against the currency of the country.
On the 20th I left Cincinnati, at nine A.M., and arrived, about the same time P.M., at Hillsborough. The distance is fifty-six miles. The road was hilly and bad; great part of it being what is vulgarly called "corduroy", or "'bang-up", or "rail-road". The term alludes to the planks or rails, which are placed transversely; so that the road presents the appearance of that sort of stuff which, in honor of some monarch, announces to the world that his majesty once deigned to have his inexpressibles made of it --(corde-du-roi).
The greater part of the country we passed through was uncleared; the soil being of an inferior nature, swampy, and covered with beech-trees, interspersed with "bottoms", or alluvial land of excellent quality. The towns and villages presented a lively picture of industry and cheerfulness. Where the land has been recently cleared, the log-but and its inhabitants give striking evidence of hard toil, and severe privation. The women, in particular, seem to be worn out, and the children are frequently ragged and squalid. The wilderness is no paradise to the first settlers. Nothing but the love of independence, or the hope of bettering their condition, could support them under the discouragements that await them in a new country. The drudgery to which the females are necessarily exposed, is, indeed, most painful and harassing. Few can afford to hire "help"; and the better it is when obtained, the less is the chance of retaining it. Of the female servants, the blacks are preferable, both for industry and skill, to the whites. They are equally prone to change. A fixed establishment is out of the question. Even the children go forth "to seek their fortune", as soon as years or opportunity admit. This early want of stability fixes an indelible stamp upon individual character; and forms, as it unfolds and extends its influence through the innumerable ramifications of society, no small item in those deductions which an impartial estimate will make, from the supposed advantages of the new over the old world.
It is not only in the woods that the wives and daughters of settlers have such a laborious and irksome life to lead. It is very difficult for women in the villages, however wealthy their condition and refined their feelings, to meet with that sort of "help" on which they can depend for a regular supply of their domestic wants. They must make their own soap and candles, and bake their own bread; while they are often obliged to perform themselves all the minutiae and drudgery of the culinary department. Those who are poor, and prepared to work hard, may do well in the back woods; but where habits have sprung from the enjoyment of comfort and leisure, the immediate sacrifices to be made by an emigrant to the "far west", would scarcely be indemnified by the prospective benefits of an ample provision for the future.
When wages are spoken of here, it is to be observed that the amount is, in some measure, nominal; a large proportion being generally paid in goods, on the barter or truck system. The clergy often take their tithes in "kind". Hence some tact is required on the part of the workman, not only in fixing upon what he shall receive in lieu of money, but in making such arrangements with the store-keeper, with whom he must bargain to give him articles in return, that may not subject him to loss when he disposes of them to others, or appropriates them to his own use. It will readily be seen that the tradesman has, in like manner, to traffic with the merchant at a distance, to insure his own profits: and thus it is that the want of a currency, and the imperfect distribution of employment, have the effect of sharpening the faculties of all, and producing in each individual a greater degree of acuteness and caution in some things, than prevails among a people whose commercial machinery is more simple, because more perfect. The general fund of knowledge is less, as the exigencies of society are more limited; while the share of each is greater, as his necessities are less easily supplied.
The profits of capital must be very high in Ohio, as the borrower pays a high interest for it. There is a man at Hillsborough, who gets, upon an average, twenty-five per cent. for the small sums he lets out. The law allows six per cent. per annum upon debts, but lays no restriction on loans --the act of 1804, for the prevention of usury, having been repealed in 1824.
No State has added to its numbers so rapidly as Ohio. Its population, which was 581,434 in 1820, amounted, in 1830, to 937,679. It is now the third in the Union; and will probably outstrip them all in the number of its citizens, before many years have passed. One cause of its increase may be found in its liberal policy towards foreigners, whose capital is attracted to it, as well by the security as by the profits of investment which it offers. In the State of New York, an alien cannot legally hold a mortgage upon land. In Ohio he may hold all kinds of real estate "as fully and completely as any citizen of the United States." Great caution, however, is necessary here in lending money or making bargains, as, to use the words of a writer in the American Jurist, (Jan. 1834,) "the balance turns too much in favour of the debtor; for, unless he be particularly honest and conscientious, the creditor stands but little chance in making his claim." "we speak," he adds, "from dismal experience. We have, known suits commenced against merchants, who had at the time in their stores goods amounting to fifty or sixty thousand dollars. We have heard them declare), that those creditors, who were, so ungentlemanly as to sue, should never receive one cent. We have besought a court of chancery to interfere by injunction, or compel an assignment for the benefit of all the creditors; alleging, among other facts, that these merchants were then forcing off their goods at auction, at forty per cent. less than the first cost; but chancery has told us it could not interfere We have pursued the case to judgment, and our execution has been returned 'no property.' All has been disposed of, we know not how. Nay, more, we have heard such men, when examined on application for the benefit of the insolvent act, admit, that, for the purpose of arranging their affairs, they have been paying one quarter per cent. a day for money, and that at the same time, they were selling off their goods at forty and fifty per cent. loss; and yet, after making these disclosures, we have known them to be permitted to take the benefit of the act, on the ground that such was the custom here. It is high time that this enormous system of fraud was broken up, either by enacting a genuine bankrupt law, which should take from a debtor all control of his property after the first act of bankruptcy; or by giving a creditor the power of attaching his property in the first instance, instead of arresting his body. Unless some remedy like this be interposed, our law of debtor and creditor should be entitled, 'a law for the encouragement of fraud.'" It should be observed, that, by the existing law on the subject, a debtor's property cannot be touched, till after judgment, as long as an arrest can be made; and the latter is a mere farce, since the prisoner can have the privilege of "the limits," which embrace' the whole county.
The day after my arrival at Hillsborough, I called at Joshua Woodrow's store, and found him, busy behind the counter. As soon as I announced to him the object of my errand, he crossed over, and commenced his replies to my inquiries, with a tone of voice and change of countenance that bespoke no slight degree of discretion, and recalled to my mind the hints I had received at Ripley. He informed me that he was one of three local agents, all Quakers, who had been nominated by the manumission society at Philadelphia to look after the interests of Mr. Gist's emancipated slaves. The other two were Levi Warner, of Chillicothe, and Enoch Lewis who resided near one of the settlements. He had, at first, declined accepting the commission, as he was too much occupied and too old to pay proper attention to its duties. He was induced, however, from motives of humanity alone, to undertake the office. There were, he said, altogether, three, colonies; --called the Camps, upper and lower, founded at the same time, at the distance of ten miles from, each other, and containing about 300 souls. The other had been "located" but two or three years. From the agent, (Wickham,) at Richmond, he had heard that after all claims upon the estate were satisfied, and legal expenses paid, there would remain somewhat more than 5000 dollars, the interest of which was to be employed for the relief of the aged and the infirm. It was to carry these objects into effect that he had been appointed. Speaking of the lower Camps, my visit to which I had concealed from him till his questions elicited the fact from me, he endeavored to impress my mind with an unfavorable opinion of the settlers. "To tell you the truth," said he, with a mysterious look and in a low voice, "I do not wish this to be known publicly --I have heard that they are rather too fond of a glass of whiskey." This delicacy towards a despised race rather surprised me; and the more so, as I felt assured, from what I had seen, that the imputation could not be justly laid upon my friend Peter, as he would naturally have offered me a glass of spirits, had there been any in the log-hut, when I entered it fatigued and unwell. But if the charge had any foundation, it was the duty of the agent to report it to his employers, rather than to whisper it to a stranger: When I informed him of my intention to visit the new colony of which he had spoken, he strongly urged me to call on Enoch Lewis, who lived near the place, and take him with me. He seemed particularly anxious that I should have the benefit of his company, as a guide and an interpreter. On my return to the inn, he sent me a message to say, that there was a man at his house who was going that way, and would ride with me. I found in the uncertain state of the weather, an excuse for declining the offer; and, a few hours after, when the day had cleared up, I set off on horseback by myself, having received the necessary instructions from the prudent Joshua.
After riding five or six miles, and surmounting the difficulties of choice which the concurrence of crossroads presented, I rode up to a house that stood at the distance of a quarter of a mile, and inquired the way of a young woman who was standing at the door. She referred me to her father. He came up very civilly to the place where I stood, and supplied me with the information I wanted. The usual interrogatory a stranger meets with in the woods was put; and as soon as I had answered that I was from England, and wished to see how the blacks were going on, the farmer offered to conduct me himself, as he knew the people well, --had occasionally given them employment, and felt great interest in their welfare, both from their good conduct while working for him, and the reports that were current of the ill-usage they had met with. I was rather puzzled what to do. He was a near neighbor of Enoch; and I thought it not unlikely that Joshua had sent him a hint, through my intended companion, of what was going on, that he might either send over to Enoch, or prevent, by his presence; an unrestrained communication between the settlers and the stranger. It was some time before my suspicions were entirely removed; but after he had invited me to take some dinner, had saddled his horse, and had ridden through the woods with me in free and friendly discourse,I could no longer withhold my confidence from him, when I saw him received in a familiar, yet respectful, manner by the sable inmates of the log-hut we stopped at. It was a wretched cabin, with little or no furniture, beyond a bed or two, and some chairs of the meanest kind. Every thing about the room and the inhabitants, bore the marks of extreme poverty. We were soon surrounded by people of all ages and of both sexes. An old man, between seventy and eighty, and his wife, the parent stem of no less than seventeen branches, With their collateral offsets, were the chief speakers; --and, as in the lower Camps, the old lady had most to say, and was most ready to say it. Four years had elapsed since they left Virginia for the place where I found them. When the other party, who now occupy the Camps, were sent off, against their consent, by the agent, William Wickham, about seventy remained behind in concealment. They were subsequently collected together by the authorities, and carried into the northern part of Ohio; and being left there, without Provisions, to shift for themselves, they dispersed, --some into Pennsylvania, and others into Canada. The rest found their way back, about a year after, to the plantation in Virginia. Here they maintained themselves on the land which they had formerly cultivated as slaves, as it was untenanted at the time, and belonged, they conceived, to them by their master's bequest.
When I questioned these people, they gave the some account of the manner in which they first heard of the death and the donation of Samuel Gist, --of the cruelties and vexations they underwent during their efforts to obtain their freedom; and of the suspicious circumstances which attended the death of the Englishman who came over to see them. None of them could tell when Gist died. The old man said that he had made many fruitless attempts to find out the contents of the will; and had often expressed his surprise to Woodrow, that anyone should undertake to carry into effect the object of a man's last wish not knowing what it was. Joshua had told me, a few hours before, that he had never seen a copy of the document in question. As he was induced, according to his own statement, to befriend these unfortunate people from motives of pure benevolence it was certainly strange that he should not have thought it necessary to inquire what their rights and claims were; and whether the pittance, he was to dole out to them, was all they were entitled to. When they quitted the plantation, they were accompanied by three armed men, and two of them were handcuffed with irons, because they were unwilling to go. This, they declared, was done by Wickham's order. Here I interrupted the narrative, to ask how the slaves were treated in that part of the country. They threw up their hands, and exclaimed, "we cannot give you any idea of it: they are treated worse than dogs ---they are cut to pieces." "That poor girl," said the old woman, pointing to a young person present, "had her back broke by a blow she had from a man, who knocked her down with a rail." The poor creature's appearance testified to the truth of what her grandmother had said.
When first they arrived, they were allowed five acres to each person. They had one plough for two families, and, subsequently, when the women were anxious to earn something by spinning, they could get from Joshua but two wheels for the whole party, and were obliged to borrow the remainder of what they wanted. They shewed me a miserable blanket and a pair of trowsers that Joshua had given them, --the latter of the coarsest material, and totally unfit for the winter dress of an infirm old man. The blanket was on one of the beds. When contrasted with the clothing which their kind old master was in the habit of sending them from England, and of which I saw a specimen, it was too plain that they had lost by the freedom they had obtained, and would have been happier as slaves --if their benefactor had lived. And here is the worst part of slavery; since the continuance of good treatment is uncertain, while its remembrance embitters the evils that follow its removal. They were told, when they left Virginia, that they would have as much land, where they were going, as they might want; but now, that their numbers are increasing, they are unable to procure a further supply. What little there is, is of a good quality; but there is not enough (and my companion assented to the assertion) for their support. They occasionally get a job in the neighborhood; and some of them go to Cincinnati for work, but they complained that they were often defrauded of their wages, without a chance of redress under a system which encourages roguery by pinioning its victim. They had been urged to give up their lands and go to Liberia; but they returned the same answer to the importunate proposal, that all make, who have a particle of free choice left them. They are in fact in a state bordering upon destitution; and to use their own words, do not know what to do. I endeavored to console them by assuring them that I would use my utmost efforts to assist them --that I would publish a statement of their case, on my return to England; and that I would, in the mean time, write home for a copy of their master's will, if it could be procured in London, that it might be sent over to America. That part of the document, which I had afterwards copied out at Doctor's Commons, will be found in the Appendix.
The poor creatures were much pleased with the promise, thus held out to them; but I reminded them that the difficulties which arose from lapse of time, claims of relatives --the tricks of agents, the decisions of the Virginia courts, and the distance between the two countries, --these considerations should check their expectations, and make them resigned to their fate. I inquired how many there were of them; and, after counting the families, and the individual members of each, they agreed that the sum total was forty-two --just twelve more than Joshua had reckoned when I was with him. Yet he was present, they assured me, when they had made the same calculation on a former occasion. They said, they had always understood there were 340 or 360 in the lower Camps originally, exclusive of those in the upper; though the agent had told me there were not more than 300 in both. They were loud in their complaints against the agents. When they succeed in obtaining relief from Joshua, it is given not in money, or raw material, so that they might purchase or make their own things with advantage to themselves; but they must take what they want out of his store, or employ Enoch's daughters to work up the clothing they require.
It was some time before I could comprehend what they meant --when, at last, I said: "you mean that your agent is your tradesman, and puts what he pays you with one hand into his own pocket with the other; charging what price, and making what profit, he pleases?" They all smiled; and the old woman, clapping her hands and striding across the room, cried out, "You're right! --you're right! that's it exactly."
There was no school for their children, and no religious instructor among them.
The farm was in good condition --an excellent crop of wheat in the field adjoining the log-hut; two pretty white ponies, and a cow with a calf in another; and the whole as skilfully and industriously cultivated as the narrow means of the occupants would allow. The cow had just been obtained by one of the daughters who had received it in lieu of wages from a neighbor she had worked for --a source of great delight and comfort to them, as they could get no milk before. My guide said they would do well if they had more land, and pointed out to me, as we reached and as we were leaving the farm, the neat and thrifty appearance of the fields. This, however, was the best managed allotment in the colony, and formed an exception to the general distress of which I have spoken; --though I question whether the owner had any thing beyond the bare necessesaries of life for the support of his family. Speaking of the "black law" of Ohio, my companion declared his determination to remove, if he could, from its statute book, an enactment which he had always thought unconstitutional, and, which is a disgrace to a free country, in an age fast verging towards the middle of the nineteenth century.
The sun was now declining; and we took our leave of these persecuted helpless people, and terminated a visit, which, I trust, has thrown a few gleams of hope over the gloomy paths of their earthly pilgrimage.
Such are the people who are held up to the scorn of mankind by British statesmen as idle vagabonds, fit only "to point a moral" in a senatorial speech? "or adorn" a protest. Such are the people who supplied the Duke of Wellington, Lord St. Vincent, Lord Penshurst, and Lord Wynford with a Christian argument against the abolition of slavery --from the bill for which they declared themselves dissentient, because, among other equally valid reasons, "the experience of the United States --a country but thinly peopled, in proportion to its extent and fertility, and always in want of hands, has shewn that, even in more temperate climates, the labor of emancipated negroes could not be relied on for the cultivation of the soil; and that the welfare of society, as well as that of the emancipated negroes themselves, required that they should be removed elsewhere." Between whig and tory what is the black refugee to do? The one would send him away because he enriches the country --the other because he impoverishes it.
As I had declined the farmer's invitation to dinner, I thought I could not do better than partake of his evening meal. On our return to his house, he introduced me to his sons --two sturdy strapping youths, with good looks and good appetites. One of his daughters made the tea, while the other drove away the flies. As soon as we had eaten and uttered as many good things as we could, (for the whole party was merry as well as hungry,) the lookers on sat down to their repast. This, as far as I had opportunity to observe, is the usual order of things in the houses of the middle class. The masculine is more worthy than the feminine; and the feminine more worthy than the neuter. Hence the women eat after the men; and the blacks after the women.
It was now time to "be off." I had finished my mission and my meal: so I shook my worthy host by the hand, cracked a parting joke with the young people, and mounting my horse, returned to Hillsborough.
The next morning, when I asked for my bill, the landlord (Mr. Miller) refused to take any thing for the hire of his horse; and I could not prevail upon him to alter his determination. Both he and his wife had been extremely obliging and desirous of contributing to my accommodation in every respect.
As the stage for Chillicothe would not arrive from Cincinnati till Monday, and would travel all night, I determined to walk on, making Bainbridge (about half way) my resting place for the night. I was unable to procure a vehicle, and unwilling to borrow Mr. Miller's horse without paying for it. I set off, therefore, on foot, and reached Bainbridge in the evening. Entering the first tavern I saw, I inquired of the landlord if he had any meat in the house, He was a mighty consequential sort of a personage. He seemed highly offended at the imputation the question conveyed to his mind. "Sir," said he, in a voice that preserved his dignity, while it indulged his displeasure, "I should not be fit to keep a tavern if I had not." "Pray! what kinds of meat have you ?" "Why! bacon, Sir! --bacon! --bacon! --bacon!" There were fortunately some eggs too in the house, and I was perfectly satisfied with my meal.
On being shewn into my bed-room, I found the chambers above as well furnished as the larder below. Those I passed through, as well as that destined for myself, had nothing in them but beds --beds --beds, while each bed had but one sheet. As my room was double-bedded, as well as single-sheeted, I soon borrowed what I wanted, and gave my feather bed as a security. No water was ever allowed up stairs, lest it should injure the furniture below. He must be difficult, indeed, to please, who could grumble about his toilette, when so much care was taken of the ladies in the parlor. There was a well in the yard; and he might shave and wash his face ín the same tub.
The next day was rainy, and the heat very oppressive. After proceeding four or five miles, I stopped at a farmhouse to get a glass of water; and, finding the owner inclined to be sociable, I sat some time conversing with him. He had been settled on his land about twenty years, and had come from Pennsylvania. He had given three dollars an acre for 260; and, now that his neighbors were becoming, as he said, too numerous, he was about to "sell out" and move further westward --though an old man of sixty or seventy, with a large family. He expected to get twelve or fifteen dollars an acre in return for the improvements he had made. About two-thirds were in wood-land, and the soil very good. It is a common thing, in this part of the country, for the settlers to help one another in getting in their grain, raising their log-huts, or cutting down the trees. They assemble together for the purpose, and are fed by the proprietor of the land, who is ready to take his turn when called upon, and repay the obligation by a similar mark of good neighborhood. When this system is continued for any length of time, it may be inferred that the population is scanty, and the farms nearly equal in extent.
This way of realizing the profits of industry, by selling the farm on which they were made, and bettering one's condition by investing the proceeds in the purchase of land more remote from a settled district, and therefore cheaper, is the usual mode of proceeding in the west. A regular succession of cultivators is thus created, corresponding to the quantity of labor bestowed on the land they have selected, from the scientific agriculturist in the old settlements, to the rude squatter on the virgin soil of the wilderness. In the old world a man generally carries his savings to the city; in the new, to the woods. Labor follows capital in the one, and capital follows labor in the other.
There is a sort of analogy between the geological structure of the old, middle, and western States, and the people who respectively inhabit them. The latter, as well as the former, may be said to be of primary, secondary, and recent, formation. Having finished my chat with the Pennsylvanian, and declined his hospitable offer to sit down and partake of his dinner, I renewed my journey.
On entering Chillicothe, I had reason, for the first time, after having travelled so far, and seen so much of taverns and hotels, to complain of ill-treatment at one of these houses. I stopped to inquire at Watson's whether the Hillsborough stage was to be there the next morning. The book-keeper replied, that if I would remain where I was, he would send the next day for my luggage to Madeira's, where the passengers were to breakfast. On this condition I agreed to stay. The next morning, two hours had elapsed after the departure of the coach, before the man went to inquire; his object being to detain me two days longer, as he boasted to Madeira that he had intercepted one of his customers. This piece of roguery placed me in an awkward predicament, as my portmanteau had no address upon it. The fellow's civility when I remonstrated with him, was on a par with his honesty. I met, however, with great attention at Madeira's, to whose house I immediately moved, and all seemed to be heartily ashamed of their countryman's conduct to a stranger. My landlord's wardrobe consoled me for the loss of my own, which made its appearance with the next stage from Hillsborough.
Chillicothe is a flourishing town on one of the great links of that chain of water communication which connects New York with New Orleans. It contains a population of four or five thousand people, of whom the colored portion forms about one-tenth. The latter have two churches and a school, consisting of thirty-five scholars of both sexes. The teacher, who is of the same race, is a graduate of the college of Athens, Ohio: Though they are taxed to the poor fund, they derive no benefit from it. Whatever is done to instruct the ignorant or relieve the indigent, is exclusively derived from their own resources. They complain bitterly of the many discouragements to which their legal disqualifications expose them: There is scarcely one who has not suffered from want of evidence to prove a pecuniary claim upon the whites. One man, who had been a tanner, and possessed property to the amount of 10,000 dollars, is now reduced to a state of poverty, from the frauds that have been practised upon him with perfect impunity. Another had his house pulled down, in sight of himself and his family, and was forced to quit the place, as no legal proof could be obtained of an injury which was well known to the whole town. A third, who was a barber, happened to owe a physician, who died in Kentucky, seven dollars and three quarters for taking care of his health, while the doctor (Webb) owed him eighteen dollars for taking care of his beard. Medicine, being a necessary, must be paid for; shaving, being a luxury, may be had for nothing at Chillicothe. The executors could prove he was a debtor, and he could not prove he was a creditor. It is lucky for him that the two trades are no longer united, or he might be made to cure diseases as well as cut hair gratis. One of these persecuted men told me, that they were sometimes in such a state of despondency, that they felt inclined to give up the struggle, and descend to the level of those who are to be found in many places, the victims of vice and crime; and who, though discountenanced by the rest, bring discredit on the whole race.
note: Apparently refers to laws against blacks having their own churches]
About 100 families had lately been driven, by religious intolerance, into the State from North Carolina where they were prohibited from meeting together to pray. They had suffered infinitely more for conscience sake than the Momiers of Switzerland, about whom so much was said a few years ago. But where is the De Stael who will espouse their cause, and expose the iniquity of their oppressors? Yet these people have contrived to realize a good deal of property, though they dare not engage extensively in business, while there is no security for obtaining what is due to them.
They have houses and real estate in the town, worth at least 10,000 dollars, and farms in the county worth about 30,000 more. One man alone has, within four miles of the place, an estate, the value of which may fairly be estimated at 5000 dollars. There is a considerable colony of them in Jackson county, at the distance of thirty or forty miles from Chillicothe. Some of these settlers have farms of 200 or 300 acres, and even more. There is another near Gallipolis that contains about 200 people, who are doing well, in spite of every obstacle. A Presbyterian minister, (a white,) assured me that they were an honest, industrious, and orderly people. The church to which he belongs, has declared itself most decidedly and unequivocally against slavery. The following is extracted from "the Minutes of the Synod of Cincinnati." --"Resolved, that the buying, selling, or holding of a slave, for the sake of gain, is, in the judgment of this Synod, a heinous sin and scandal, requiring the cognizance of the church judicatories." Two years ago, the Synod of Kentucky negatived similar resolutions by a majority of four only, at a meeting of upwards of 100 members. It is expected that the majority will shortly be on the other side.
On the 26th of June, having got my portmanteau, I proceeded with the stage that brought it, to Zanesville, about seventy miles from Chillicothe. I regretted much that I had not time to go round by Jackson and Gallipolis, and visit the blacks who are settled in the neighborhood of those places. There are ten or twelve families in the first named colony --with farms of 250 or 300 acres. One man whom I saw at Chillicothe, told me his father had a farm there of 275 acres. The year before he had raised 1100 bushels of corn, besides sufficient hay to form several stacks. They have established a school among then, and are in a prosperous condition.
I had, however, during my tour, been thoroughly convinced, from the best evidence, that this unfortunate race of men are fully entitled, by their conduct, to the same rights and privileges as those who have robbed them of both, and have added insult to injustice. Their errors and their vices are the unavoidable consequence, and not the cause, of their proscription and persecution. The condemnation that has been wantonly and wickedly passed upon then, is as unwarranted by the condition to which they have raised themselves, as it is irreconcileable with what we know are the characteristics, and what we may believe are the destinies, of the human race. I think I had sufficient acquaintance with them to form an opinion, as correct and as unbiassed, at least, as that of those who revile and ridicule them; and I can truly and honestly declare, that the orderly and obliging behavior I observed among them --the decent and comfortable arrangements I witnessed in their houses --the anxiety they expressed for the education of their children and their own improvement --the industry which was apparent in all about them, and the intelligence which marked their conversation --their sympathy with one another, and the respect they maintain for themselves --the absence of vindictive feeling against the whites, and the gratitude they evinced towards every one who treats them with common civility and regard, --far surpassed the expectation I had formed, of finding among them something more elevated than the instinct of monkeys united to the passions of men. They are "not only almost, but altogether, such as" the white man --except the bonds he has fastened on their bodies or their minds.
Zanesville, which is divided from Putnam and West Zanesville by the river Muskingum, contains, with them, a numerous and industrious population, among which are to be classed 400 or 500 persons of African descent, distinguished by the various tints that the white man's disregard of "Nature's impassable barrier" has produced in the original shade. The latter have a Sunday school, attended by seventy pupils, chiefly adults. They have also established a day school for children; and, like their brethren elsewhere, are eager for knowledge, and anxious to improve their condition. From an Englishman (Mr. Howell) who is resident here with his family, and from whom I experienced great civility. I received a very favorable account of their conduct. From an extensive acquaintance with them, he is of opinion that their attainments exceed the common standard that white person, under similar circumstances, might be expected to acquire. Evidence to this effect was so frequent from the most competent witnesses, that its repetition must, I fear, be tedious. The reiteration of charges, which become more virulent as they are refined, gives calumny a great advantage over truth. Though less harassed than their brethren at Cincinnati and Chillicothe, these people have not escaped the inflictions of the Ohio justice code, --the fitful parent of violence and villainy. An instance not long ago occurred at Marietta, where, a colored man had his house attacked and his daughters insulted before his face by a drunken white, who stabbed a young man while he was attempting to rescue the females from the assault. Their protector died of his wounds; but the murderer escaped punishment; no one but a half-caste Indian among the many who were present could enter the witness box against him; and his evidence was set aside on the plea of a previous quarrel with the prisoner. Numerous instances of the cruel operation of this iniquitous enactment might be given; but the very existence of the disqualification marks the character of the country, and evinces a spirit of injustice as ready to apply the law as to make it.
There is an anti-slavery society at Zanesville. Its object is to rescue the freedman from obloquy as well as the slave from his chains. After little more than a year's duration, the original number of its members (four) had increased to nearly 200 at the time of my visit.
This place is well situated for trade; both iron and coal, in abundance, being found at no great distance. It has several flour-mills, iron founderies, two glass-houses, and a cotton factory, with two small woollen factories. It appears to be an eligible place for the investment of capital, as good mortgages can be had at ten or even twelve per cent. If we compare the progress that the State has made with that of Virginia and Kentucky, from both of which it is separated by the river from which it derives its name, we shall see at once that "the battle is not to the strong" when they contend in chains against the free. In the year 1800, Ohio contained 45,365 inhabitants, while Virginia had 880,200, and Kentucky 220,959. At the next census, (1810,) Ohio had increased to the amount of 230,760, while the corresponding numbers for the other two States were 974,622 and 406,511. The succeeding census presented a still greater disparity; and the last, in 1830, exhibited Ohio in close approximation to Virginia, and triumphant over Kentucky.
I left Zanesville on the 28th, between seven and eight in the morning, and arrived at Wheeling (about seventy-five miles) at nine in the evening. The great Western or Cumberland road, over which we travelled, was not in such good condition as the vast sums of money, that had been expended upon it by Congress, would lead one to expect. It seems bad economy to delay repairs till ruts become holes, and holes become pools of water. We passed through several small towns --the first of which (Norwich) contains about 500 people. Six or seven years ago the place, where it now stands, was covered with trees. It was purchased by an Englishman, who sold it out in lots; and, having realized a considerable sum by the speculation, returned to Europe. The neighborhood is now thickly settled.
While the stage, which happened to be before its time, stopped for half an hour, I entered into conversation with the landlord of the hotel. He had not long changed his religion, and abjured Calvin for the Pope. His conversion was brought about entirely by what he considered a misrepresentation of the primitive church; the tenets of which had been described as intolerant, exclusive, and impious. Like all new converts, who are anxious to shew their sincerity by their zeal, whether in polemics or in politics, he had been plying his neighbors with arguments and pamphlets, till he had succeeded, with the assistance of a priest, who had given a public lecture on the subject, not only in cooling the heat of their hostility to "the scarlet lady," but in extracting from their pockets the proofs of a changed mind, in the shape of a contribution for building her a temple in the town. Though there were but two Catholic families among them, he had contrived to raise 555 dollars. From one store alone he got sixty; one man having given twenty-five and another ten. They all declared they had been completely deceived, and were now convinced, that the thunders of the Vatican had ceased, and that they would neither be broiled alive, nor condemned, when dead, to eternal perdition.
That the number of Catholics is increasing in the United States, cannot be disputed --whether the cause is to be found in conversion or emigration from Europe. The Papal Church has probably gained by the rancorous abuse and animosity with which its doctrines, real or imputed, are assailed by almost all other sects, who agree in nothing but in hatred of a common foe. A clergyman in Ohio warned his congregation from the pulpit not to support a Roman Catholic candidate for office, claiming for himself the infallibility he denounced in the Pope, and shewing his hatred of persecution by persecuting his neighbor. Such bigotry defeats its own object, and communicates by the reaction of its opponent, the power it loses by its own violence. As men are naturally lovers of justice, they are apt, when their prejudices are once removed, to embrace what they before shunned; and to make amends for the previous wrong by doing more than an indifferent person would consider strictly due.
The narrow strip of land which runs on each side of Wheeling, for thirty or forty miles, between Ohio and Pennsylvania, though part of Virginia, contains but few slaves, and those few are said to be well treated: the facilities for escape to the neighboring States being such as to render that sort of property too precarious to be profitable. The inhabitants of Wheeling appear to be less infected with the feeling of caste than any place I saw. Both races may be seen there in friendly communication; and, at an establishment kept by a person who would be treated with contempt elsewhere, blacks and whites sit at the same table together.
The system of slavery is becoming every day more odious to this part of western Virginia. Not long ago, a poor fellow who was a great favorite with every one, was sold by his master at Wheeling to a trader, when the indignation of the people was such, that they assembled in great force and threatened to rescue him. Had any one offered to lead them on, they would have carried their resolution into effect. He was, however, taken off and separated for ever from his wife and children. The scene was described to me as one of the most heart-rending and horrible.
On the 30th, I went from Wheeling to Pittsburg in Pennsylvania; where I had the misfortune to put up at one of the worst hotels I was in during my stay in America. The sheets on my bed were wet, and under the window was a large mass of matter abounding in animal and vegetable putrefaction the refuse of a tobacco factory that had been carried on next door. On my applying to the street commissioners, it was removed both promptly and effectually. A populous town at the point of junction, where the Allegheny and the Monongahela are lost in the Ohio surrounded by hills, that prevent a free current of air, and rivalling Birmingham in smoke and filth, had thus for a long time been exposed to the infectious atmosphere of an accumulation that seemed purposely created to convey cholera to the predisposed.
The heat of the weather was so oppressive, and I felt so unwell, that I was unable to visit the curiosities of this celebrated place. I was gratified by hearing that an abolition society existed in the town, and already counted 300 members, though, at its commencement a twelvemonth before, it had not more than half a dozen. It had, within the last ten or twelve days, established a school for the free blacks, of whom between sixty and seventy had entered their names as pupils. There are about 1200 of these people in the city. Nothing had been done before to improve their condition, beyond a small school which they supported themselves. They evince a great desire to receive instruction. One of the boys, about ten years of age, had been studying Greek about four or five months, yet he construed part of one of Aesop's Fables, and answered the questions I put to him, with regard to tenses and numbers, much better than many boys of longer standing in years and study. He was a very sharp little fellow, and went through his task without conceit or hesitation. They all read in the English Testament very fairly. Their instructor spoke of their docility and capacity in the same terms that all do who have seen as much of this injured race. I observed that more than half the children were mulattoes. So much for amalgamation! They have a church of their own, and an association for mutual instruction.
The next morning I took the stage for Philadelphia. There were but three or four passengers inside. The first day we went to Ligonier, a small town about fifty-two miles from Pittsburg. Here we met with excellent fare and great civility. Nothing occurred during the day worthy of note, but a little incident which exhibited the "discretion" of my fellow travellers in a very commendable point of view. We met several vans containing wild beasts, followed by a camel and an elephant on foot. As soon as the caravan approached, the whole of our livestock hurried out into the mud. There were three young men headed by a female. Dux faemina facti --an appropriate leader of such an exploit. Upon inquiring the cause of this sudden step, I was informed that they were alarmed lest the horses should take fright and run off with the stage. One of these youths appeared to have been smitten in another way. According to the account he gave me, he had left his heart at Pittsburg. He could not shew me the lady's portrait, but he put her card into my hand. Another was laboring under the same complaint, and exhibited the same symptoms. The way in which they spoke of their Dulcineas was highly amusing. The female passenger was an old acquaintance, and a confidante of this interesting secret, if there could be anything like secrecy in such an affair. The former youth was reading his love-letters to her in the stage; while his fair friend, who was a spinster, listened with becoming attention to the story of his woes and his wishes.
The next day we proceeded to Bedford --43 miles. The road was hilly, and in some places, particularly about Laurel Hill and the Alleghany mountains, very picturesque: --not, however, presenting such fine scenery as may be seen from the same range in Virginia. Many of the farmers in this part of Pennsylvania had moved off towards the West. One man took with him fourteen or fifteen laborers into Illinois. He had them previously bound to him for two years. Their claim for wages would be contingent upon the performance of their part of the contract, and he would have the best security for their services; --a matter of great difficulty with settlers in a near country. He was well provided in other respects for the undertaking, having materials with him for a saw-mill as well as for a grist-mill, with the requisite instruments of husbandry. Most of those who had passed this way, were bound for Illinois, which is now what Ohio was a few years back --the great point of attraction. There is a sort of fashion in these things that varies with the state of the public mind, as it is affected by reports of fertile soil, vicinity of markets, and other considerations, that are ever changing with the interested views and sanguine hopes of former emigrants. The third day brought us to Chambersburg, a pretty busy-looking town of three or four thousand inhabitants. The journey was not so long or fatiguing, as the roads were in better order, and the country less mountainous, than what we had passed over before. The rain, which fell in torrents, and a thick fog, allowed us to catch but a few glimpses of the beautiful scenery that presented itself on each side, as we ascended and came down the hills, during the former part of the day.
At three the next morning the stage resumed its route, and completed the first ten miles to Shippensburg, in an hour and ten minutes. A piece of information I had from the driver explained the relation in which this class of men stand to their employers, and the motives they have for good conduct: He had been several years in the "profession," and was well known on the road. He had recently visited Pittsburg with twenty dollars in his pocket to pay his expenses, and had returned, after travelling 300 miles, without having disbursed a cent. As soon as the innkeepers on the road became acquainted with the nature of his employment, they refused to take anything for his board, though he lodged two or three days with some of them; and he was "franked " by every stage he went by. He said he believed a respectable man in the same occupation might travel in this way through the Union. The proprietors of the stages and of the hotels would recommend him to one another; and he would be charged nothing during the whole journey.
After passing through Harrisburg, (fifty miles
from Chambersburg,) which is the seat of government, and is a handsome
town on the Susquehanna, we arrived at seven P.M.
at Lancaster, a place containing 7000 or 8000 people. The next day brought
us, by the rail-road, to Philadelphia, which it connects with Pittsburg,
by means of the canal at Columbia, twelve miles beyond Harrisburg. Philadelphia
ìs thus brought into closer contact with the great Western market,
and becomes a formidable competitor with New York for its favors. While
goods were sent from the latter city by the Erie canal to Cincinnati for
two dollars forty cents the cwt., they could be imported into the same
place, from Philadelphia, for one dollar thirty cents.