« ForrigeFortsett »
nothing, in our estimatiion, would tend more to the dissemination of a correct knowledge of the resources of the country.
Without such knowledge, legislation can be distinguished by no better title than that of impericism, and is quite as liable to produce harm as benefit to the people.
At page 558 the author gives a “table exhibiting an estimate of the value of the products of labor and capital in the United States for the year 1847" and the items arranged under the head of "agricultural products," according to his estimates, amount to the sum of $838,163,928. Now, it may be observed that there is no one fact within the range of political economy, which is so important to be known with some tolerable degree of accuracy, as the value of the agricultural products; for, without this knowledge, neither the agriculturist, the merchant, the manufacturer, nor legislator, can pursue their respective vocations, without being continually liable to disappointment in their calculations. Nor can succeeding ages profit by our history.
The first item under this head is the wheat crop, which is set down at 114,245,500 bushels, and estimated at $1 20 per bushel, making the sum of $137,094,600. Now, we think it may be assumed as an undeniable proposition, that the price of an article at the place where it is consumed, must be considered as its utmost value; and hence, in estimating the value of a crop of wheat, we should not take the price at New York or London as a standard, but ascertain its value at the various points where it is consumed, including the consumption at the farm where it is produced, with that consumed at the most remote places. This will give the true value of the wheat; but, if we desire to ascertain its value to the agriculturalists who grow it, we must deduct freights, and other charges incurred in sending it to a market; for the difference between the value at the farm and the value in a distant market, is not an agricultural product, but the result of capital and labor, used as agents of transportation and exchange. We have not the quotations at hand for the prices of wheat for last year; but, by making ar average of the highest and lowest prices, at different periods of the present year, we find the average price at New York to be $1 27 per bushel, and $1 161 at Baltimore, making the average of these two places about $1 22. The commissioner of patents has set down the cost of transportation from Buffalo to Albany at 21 cents per bushel, and if we add three cents for freight and other charges, from Albany to New York, this will make the freight, &c., from Buffalo to New York, 24 cents, leaving 98 cents per bushel as the value at Buffalo.
The cost of freights from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, is set down at 30 to 33 cents; say it is 31 cents per bushel, and this will leave the value 90 cents at Pittsburgh. Now, if we take into consideration the cost of transportng wheat
from the farms of the interior to the different shipping points on the canals and railroads, we may fairly conclude that this item will amount to at least five cents more; thus reducing the value to 93 cents per bushel at Buffalo, and to 85 cents at Pittsburgh. And we are of opinion that when the average at New York and Baltimore is $1 21 cents per bushel, that the average value at the farms throughout the district of country that sells to those markets, cannot exceed $1 00; ard hence, we have estimated the value of the crops east of the Allegheny Mountains and extending from Maine to Louisiana, at $1 00 per bushel. The quantity produced in this region is estimated at 56,969,500 bushels, which we value at $56,969,500. The balance, say 57,276,000 bushels, we estimate at 75 cents per bushel, amounting to $42,957,000-total, $99,926,500, being less than the value estimated by the commissioner of patents, by $37,168,100. And even this we believe to be considerably above the true value of the crop of 1847, to the producers at the places of consumption; for, comparatively, but a small portion of it goes to market. To enable us to form an opinion of the value of wheat in the west, we have carefully examined the prices for the present year at Cincinnati and St. Louis. At the former place we have made an average of the quotations at short intervals throughout the season, and find it to be 76 cents per bushel, and 74 cents at St. Louis. Now, if we estimate the cost of hauling it from the farms in the interior, to the shipping points, and the 'freights thence to the principal markets, the average value to the grower. in the valley of the Mississippi will not exceed 65 cents per bushel, and not more than 75 to 80 cents in the lake region.
The next item in the commissioner's table, is Indian corn. This crop is estimated at 530,850,000 bushels, valued at 40 cents per bushel, making the total value $215,740,000. The quotations of the price of corn, from which we have made our estimates, are not as numerous as those of wheat; but we esteem them sufficient for an approximate value. From these we find the average at New York during the current year, to be 67 cents, and 52 cents at Baltimore. This latter may be too low-say it is 61 cents-and this would make the average at the two places 64 cents per bushel; and if the cost of transporting it to market be estimated the same as that of wheat, this will reduce the value to the grower far below 50 cents per bushel. We have, however, estimated the value of corn in all the New England States, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland, at 50 cents per bushel. The produce of these States being estimated by the commissioner of patents at 70,780,000 bushels, amounts to $35,390,000. Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Oregon, Wisconsin, Michigan, and the District of Columbia, are set down as producing 167,670,000 bushels. This we
have estimated at 40 cents. and it amounts to $67,068,000. According to the estimates of the commissioner, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana are supposed to produce 240.900,000 bushels, which we have estimated at 25 cents per bushel, amounting to $60,000,000. We have estimated the price in the last mentioned States from the quotations at Cincinnati during the current year, from which we deduce an average price of 29 3-4 cents per bushel; and five cents is certainly nuch below the average cost of transporting it from the farms to market. Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa, are supposed by the commissioner, to produce 65,000,000 bushels; this we have estimated at 15 cents per bushel.
From regular semi-monthly quotations of prices at St. Louis during the cur reit year, we find the average to be 22 cents, without sacks-and we esteem 7 cents as a low average cost of bringing it from the farms in the interior to market. According to these estimates, we make the value of the corn crop $172,048,000, and less than the estimate of the commissioner of patents by the sum of $3,692,000.
Beans and peas are each set down by the commissioner, at 25,000,000 bushels. Tie value of the first is estimated at $1.00 per bushel, and the last $1 20—total, $5,000,000, an amount about equal to the true value of the cotton crop. These aricles were not noticed in the census of 1840, nor can we find any thing in the conmissioner's report which indicates the source whence he derived his informatim as to the quantity or value. It is true, that under the head of "remarks," he says: "There being no satisfactory data for some of the estimates contained in this table, they are very probably above or below the real truths. But as imperfect as they are, they may enable others to make nearer approximations to the trie quantities or values." We do not esteem this as a sufficient apology for such gloss ignorance as we think the commissioner has betrayed upon this subject.
For, although he tells us that he possesses no satisfactory data, yet every one would very naturally presume that his information was such as to enable him to make a reasonable calculation, approximating in some degree, at least, to the confines of probability. It must be remarked, that these estimates do not include beans and peas, cultivated in gardens; for the products of the garden are placed under a separate head. Now, every observing individual, who has traveled through the United States, must know that beans are not grown as a field crop, except in a very few, and these very limited, districts; and we venture the assertion that there is not 2,000,000 bushels of beans produced annually in the United States, as a field crop. In a table contained in the commissioner's report, showing the quantity and value of each article which came to the Hudson river on all the canals during the years 1846 and 1847, peas and beans are placed together, and are set down at 96,800 bushels in 1846, and 106,088 bushels in 1847.
In the annual report of the Chamber of Commerce of Cincinnati, of 31st August, 1847, these articles are not mentioned, neither are they found in the table showing the articles cleared at Pittsburgh on the Pennsylvania Canal, during the fiscal years of 1846 and 1847; and none appear among the articles passed through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal for the year 1847; and only 31,963 bushels of peas passed through the Dismal Swamp Canal in the year ending September 30th, 1847. At New Orleans there was received in the year ending 1st September, 1846, only 16,248 barrels of beans, and in the year 1847 only 18,201 barrels. No peas are mentioned in the tables of imports; and as none passed through the Pennsylvania Canal, this must be the sum total of beans which reached tide water from the entire Valley of the Mississippi, except that it is barely possible that a small portion of the quantity received on the Hudson River, might have went. from Ohio. Some peas were no doubt shipped coast wise from the Carolinas, but we have met with no statistics showing the quantity shipped from that region. From the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, it does not appear that any beans or peas were exported in 1847; and when all these facts are considered, we cannot suppose that the entire quantity of beans and peas which reach tide water annually, can exceed 500,000 bushels. The principal district in the Union where peas are produced as a field crop, is that region east of the mountains, extending from the Potomac to the Mississippi, and here they are grown principally for stock, and are mostly left ungathered in the field, where they are consumed, and consequently cannot be considered as of more value than an equal quantity of corn. Hence, if we should suppose the crop amounted to 5,000,000 of bushels, under these circumstances 75 cents per bushel would be a high price, including that part which had been gathered. We find the average price of beans received at St. Louis, this year, to be 42 cents; but if we estimate them at $1.00 per bushel, then we have, according to our estimate, 2,000,000 bushels of beans, at $1 00 per bushel, worth $2,000,000; and 5,000,000 bushels of peas, at 75 cents per bushel, worth $3,750,000-total for beans and peas, $5,750,000, an amount that is less by $49,250,000, than they are estimated by the commissioner of patents.
In this same table, the quantity of hemp and flax is estimated at 116,207 tons, valued at $150 per ton. In the tabular statement of the crops of 1847, the hemp crop is estimated at 27,750 tons; this would leave the quantity of flax, 88,457 tons. Now, we cannot find the article of flax mentioned in any commercial table that we have been able to procure; nor do we believe that it is produced to any considerable extent, as an article of commerce, in any part of the Union; and but few individuals produce it in any part of the country with which we are acquainted, even for domestic purposes. The plant is grown in Ohio, and in, perhaps, some other States, for the seed; but little or no use is made of the bark. Any estimate, therefore, which we could make in regard to the quantity of flax produced annually, would be nothing more than a guess at the amount; but we
will mention a few facts found in the census of 1840, that will prepare the reader to make great deductions from the quantity above stated. In that document, St. Louis county, in the State of Missouri, is returned as producing 9,905 tons of hemp and flax; about 3,000 tons more than is now produced of hemp in the whole State. We did not then reside in St. Louis; but, from inquiries made of farmers in this county, we do not suppose that it ever did produce one hundred tons of these articles, in any one year. Lee county, in Virginia, is reported as producing 10,468 tons. We have made no inquiry in regard to the products of this county; but, judging from its place on the map, we do not imagine that it produces more of these articles than does St. Louis county in Missouri. Several other errors in regard to hemp and flax are to be found, as we believe, in the census of 1840, and it is remarkable that they have not been observed by the commissioner of patents; for it would seem that any one at all conversant with the products or statistics of the country, would, at the first glance, have suspected that there was a mistake in the amount. Indeed, we do not believe that there is 1,000 tons of flax produced annually in the United States; and we have shown in the last number of the Western Journal, that the estimate of 27,750 tons of hemp, was too large. But, setting it down at that, and estimating it at $85 per ton-which is quite as much as it is worth to the grower-and the total value is $2,358,750; and, add to this $150,000, the value of 1,000 tons of flax, and the whole amount, according to our estimate, is $2,508,750-less by $14,922,300 than the estimate of the commissioner of patents. We have carefully examined the prices current in St. Lonis for the present year, and estimate the average price of hemp in this market at $86 16 per ton; the prices in Louisville may, perhaps, have ranged a shade higher, but we feel satisfied that the average value to the grower is not more than our estimate.
The crop of sugar is estimated at 324,940,500 pounds, valued at 6 cents making a total of $19,496,430. By reference to a statement showing the extreme prices of fair and prime sugars at New Orleans, from November, 1847, to August, 1848, inclusive, it appears that the highest rates were in the months of November and February; in November, the extremes are stated at from 3 1-4 to 4 1-2, and in February from 3 7-8 to 4 1-8. Except in these two months, 4 cents was the highest price reached; and even this point was not attained after the month of March. From consulting the statement which will be found in this number, and to which we refer the reader, we are of opinion that the crop of 1847 has realized to the grower but little if anything over 3 cents per pound. Nor has it much exceeded this for several years past; and we cannot imagine where the commissioner found his data for his estimate, unless it was in some country store far in the interior, and distant from navigation or wagon roads. Estimating the crop at 3 1-2 cents per pound, it amounts to $11,372,917-less by $8,123,513 than the estimates of the commissioner of patents.
Straw, chaff, and the residuum of the crop, are valued at $74,000,000. The