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TO THE PUBLIC PRESS.
ALTHOUGH We propose to publish a Journal of Agriculture, Manufactures, &c., yet it would be unreasonable to suppose that we were acquainted with all the details connected with these several pursuits; or that we could acquire a general knowledge of the business and interests of every part of the country, without the co-operation of others.
Feeling the importanc of opening a correspondence with the agriculturists of the west, we called their attention through the last number of the WESTERN JOURNAL, to the importance of organizing agricultural societies in every county. But aware that farmers are generally slow in their movements in regard to such matters, we respectfully invite the publishers of newspapers to second our views by bringing the subject of agricultural societies before their readers.
Furthermore, we should be pleased if the conductors of the press throughout the west would encourage their readers to furnish them with facts connected with agriculture, manufactures and commerce; including the statistics of the business and population of the towns and villages; the kind of staples which are cultivated in each county-the mines, minerals and water power; and also a general description of the soil, surface and forest.
Such facts would greatly extend the usefulness of the journals of the interior, and make them more desirable to those who reside at a great distance from the place of publication.
A little attention to this subject would enable us to make the WesTERN JOURNAL a complete repository of the statistics of the west, and greatly enhance its value as a book of reference, especially to the publishers of newspapers.
Such individuals as have been requested to act as agents, will please to let us hear from them at an early day.
Will be furnished with six copies of the WESTERN JOURNAL for fifteen dollars, for the term of one year..
ART. I.-THE NATURAL LAWS OF COMMERCE.
HAVING shown in our last number that the current of commerce has hitherto followed the course of civilization from east to west, we shall proceed to consider some of the causes which are calculated, as we conceive, to give it a different direction in future.
The vast plains and mountains which separate the fertile portion of the Valley of the Mississippi from the productive valleys west of the Rocky Mountains, constitute a barrier to the progress of commerce from east to west; and, although the spirit of enterprise, and the love of adventure will induce many of our citizens to emigrate to the shores of the Pacific, yet, without a rail-way, or some mode of transportation, perhaps cheaper still, it will be impracticable to establish commercial intercourse across the mountains and plains which divide the two regions.
This barrier to the progress of commerce towards the west, will constitute an era in commercial history; for having subserved the purpose of exchanging the agricultural products of the newly settled countries for the manufactures of the old, the current will change from east to west, and in obedience to natural laws, flow from the equator in the direction of the poles, carrying the luxuries of the tropics to the inhabitants of colder climes, and returning with the more substantial products of the temperate zones. Thus, the bounties of Nature will be distributed among the inhabitants of every clime; and while, by the agency of commerce the physical comforts of every region will be increased, those prejudices which are so liable to exist between the people of the north and the south, will be removed, and social intercourse and universal sympathy prevail in their stead.
The great extent, the physical geography, and natural wealth of the Valley of the Mississippi, all point to the adoption of a separate and distinct system of commerce, differing in many respects from all others. Embracing every element
VOL. I, NO. IV-19.
necessary to human subsistence, the west will require but little from foreign countries; and hence, the foreign trade will bear but a very small proportion to the internal commerce.
To give some idea of the tendency of commerce to move on a line from north to south, and the comparative decrease of the foreign trade of the United States, we refer to a tabular statement made by Col. Childs, editor of the Philadelphia "Commercial List," showing the number of arrivals at Philadelphia, from foreign ports and coastwise, from the year 1787 to 1848. From this we perceive, that the average number of foreign arrivals, for the five years ending with the. year 1805, was 595; and that the arrivals from coastwise during the same time, averaged 1,156, for each year; and that for the five years ending with the year 1845, the average annual arrivals from coastwise had increased from 1,156 to 8,125, while the foreign arrivals had fallen off from 595 to 438, showing a decrease of more than twenty-five per cent. in the number of foreign arrivals, and an increase of more than seven hundred per cent. in the arrivals from coastwise. This coastwise trade moves on a line from north to south, and the current is fed by tributaries falling into it from the west. This is the outline of one entire system, embracing all that portion of the United States bordering on the Atlantic Ocean, and when considered with reference to the country east of the Allegheny range, is in conformity with the natural laws which were designed to govern the commerce of the great natural divisions of the earth. But the extension of this system so as to embrace the Valley of the Mississippi, would violate these natural laws, and involve the people of the west in the absurdity of blindly overlooking their own natural channel of commerce, and fasten upon them the original system which was induced by the necessity arising from the " "emigrating state" of society, and thus perpetuate the practice of sending our provisions to the Atlantic coast, to feed the operatives employed in manufacturing cotton, wool, and other raw materials of the west, to be returned here for consumption. We should call in question the intelligence and common sense of the people of the west, could we suppose that such a state of things could long exist. The physi cal geography of the United States indicates two great systems of commerce, in themselves separate and distinct. The one, such as we have described as existing east of the Allegheny mountains-the other, in the Valley of the Mississippi. The latter bounded on the north by the lakes, and the waters which flow into Hudson's Bay, on the west by the Rocky Mountains, and on the south by Central America, and the tropical regions of South America, including the West India Islands. For, although our political jurisdiction extends no farther than the Gulf of Mexico, yet the tropical regions lying directly south of this Valley, must necessarily be embraced in our system of commerce, to give it completeness. This outline embraces every climate inhabitable by civilized man, and affords a direct communication between the two extremes of north and south by the Mississippi river, and the Gulf of Mexico.
This river, dividing the Valley in nearly two equal parts, constitutes the great central highway, and will naturally draw to it the commerce from the east and west. This region, capable of producing every plant and fruit that grows out of the earth—abounding with every useful mineral, and inhabited by an intelligent and industrious race, will require but very little foreign trade, compared to the immense amount of the internal commerce of the country. A large portion of the American people seem to be indelibly impressed with the opinion, that the prosperity and happiness of the country can only be promoted by foreign trade, and appear to have no conception of the importance, or the amount of our internal commerce. Nor can they imagine how the wealth of this country can be increased except by bringing it from foreign lands. Acting under such impressions, they have been continually striving, for the last forty years, to increase the foreign commerce; during which time it has been constantly decreasing-not in the aggregate amount, it is true-but rapidly decreasing when compared with the increase of population and production.
From a tabular statement of the imports and exports of the United States, published in the Merchant's Magazine, it appears that the annual average amount of exports for the five years ending with the year 1805, was $91,472,702, and that the annual average amount for the five years ending with the year 1845, was $111,712,373, being an increase of a fraction over twenty per cent. in forty years, while in the same time, our population increased about two hundred and twenty per cent. In the term of five years, ending with the year 1805, the exports amounted to about $15 43 per annum, to each individual, which was reduced in the last term of five years, to about $6 54 per annum; showing a decrease of exports in proportion to the population of more than one-half. And if our exports and population shall each continue to increase at the same rate for the next forty years, the amount of exports per annum, to each individual, will be reduced to about two dollars.
When we reflect that this change has taken place during a period when the manufactures of this country were in their infancy, and when those of Great Britain were limited only by the want of a demand for their fabrics, we must conclude that this falling off in the exports will be accelerated in proportion to the increase of our manufactures, until the mighty influence which foreign commerce has hitherto exerted over the policy and pursuits of this country shall cease to disturb the public mind.
The same laws which tend to lessen the commercial intercourse between the United States and Great Britain, will also tend to separate the commerce of the Atlantic coast from that of the Valley of the Mississippi, and to establish a distinct commercial system in each. And with a reference to this result, the people of the west should project their plans of internal improvement, and establish their commercial and manufacturing towns and cities. The great emporiums of commerce, and the arts, will doubtless be established in the central region: this is the region
of cheap provision, of coal, and of iron; and besides these advantages, the products of the north and of the south can be more conveniently and cheaply distributed from the centre, than from a point near either extreme. Here, likewise, the works of art can be more conveniently distributed, and here a greater number and variety of artists will establish themselves. But in a country so extensive, and abounding with so many resources, many important commercial and manufacturing cities must necessarily grow up in every important division; yet all connected with, and forming part of one great system.
Notwithstanding we have endeavored to show that the prevailing current of commerce naturally proceeds on a line drawn from the equator, in the direction of the poles; yet we are not to conclude that all commerce must cease between the east and the west. Should this be the case, there would remain but little inducement to social intercourse between the inhabitants of the several continents; and hence one of the great agents of civilization and of the propagation of the christian religion, would be wanting. Such a result, however, has been provided against by the economy of Nature. Owing to the variety of temperature in the same degrees of latitude; to the irregular distribution of mineral substances, and to the genius and peculiar adaptation of the people of different countries to particular employments, there will ever remain a sufficient variety of useful commodities to keep up an active commercial intercourse between the people of every country. This branch of commerce, however, includes little that is necessary to human subsistence, or indeed to the more common comforts. But consists principally of the more curious and costly works of art, designed to gratify the taste and to ornament the person; or of the more rare and delicate products of the vegetable kingdom. And these commodities being of great value, in proportion to their bulk and weight, bear transportation to a great distance, and do not demand those extraordinary facilities of transportation which are required for the great mass of necessary commodities. Such is the nature of Asiatic commerce. And if the predictions of an eminent statesman of the present day should be verified, this commerce is destined, in time, to come from the west, instead of from the east, as at present. This would constitute another era in commercial history. But whether it shall come from the west, or from the south, the great emporium of Asiatic commerce for this continent, is doubtless destined to be established in the Valley of the Mississippi, as the point from which it can be most conveniently distributed to the greatest number of consumers.
We have drawn the outlines of a system of commerce naturally growing out of the relative position and physical geography of the Valley of the Mississippi. To such as see no design in the economy of Nature, it may be considered a fancy sketch; but we have a higher object in view than the projection of fanciful theories for amusement.
Believing that a correct knowledge of the laws of Nature and obedience to their direction, constitute the highest degree of human wisdom, we have aimed, in the