Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field Part 42

Notwithstanding the prophecies of the South Carolinians to the contrary, the free-labor scheme along the Atlantic coast has proved successful. The following paragraph is from a letter written by a prominent journalist at Savannah:--

The condition of the islands along this coast is now of the greatest interest to the world at large, and to the people of the South in particular. Upon careful inquiry, I find that there are over two hundred thousand acres of land under cultivation by free labor. The enterprises are mostly by Northern men, although there are natives working their negroes under the new system, and negroes who are working land on their own account. This is the third year of the trial, and every year has been a success more and more complete. The profits of some of the laborers amount to five hundred, and in some cases five thousand dollars a year. The amount of money deposited in bank by the negroes of these islands is a hundred and forty thousand dollars. One joint, subscription to the seven-thirty loan amounted to eighty thousand dollars. Notwithstanding the fact that the troops which landed on the islands robbed, indiscriminately, the negroes of their money, mules, and supplies, the negroes went back to work again.

General Saxton, who has chief charge of this enterprise, has his head-quarters at Beaufort. If these facts, and the actual prosperity of these islands could be generally known throughout the South, it would do more to induce the whites to take hold of the freed-labor system than all the general orders and arbitrary commands that General Hatch has issued.

The resources of Georgia are similar to those of South Carolina, and the climate differs but little from that of the latter State. The rice-swamps are unhealthy, and the malaria which arises from them is said to be fatal to whites. Many of the planters express a fear that the abolition of slavery has ended the culture of rice. They argue that the labor is so difficult and exhaustive, that the negroes will never perform it excepting under the lash. Cruel modes of punishment being forbidden, the planters look upon the rice-lands as valueless.

Time will show whether these fears are to be realized or not. If it should really happen that the negroes refuse to labor where their lives are of comparatively short duration, the country must consent to restore slavery to its former status, or purchase its rice in foreign countries. As rice is produced in India without slave labor, it is possible that some plan may be invented for its cultivation here.

Georgia has a better system of railways than any other Southern State, and she is fortunate in possessing several navigable rivers. The people are not as hostile to Northerners as the inhabitants of South Carolina, but they do not display the desire to encourage immigration that is manifested in North Carolina. In the interior of Georgia, at the time I am writing, there is much suffering on account of a scarcity of food. Many cases of actual starvation are reported.

Florida has few attractions to settlers. It is said there is no spot of land in the State three hundred feet above the sea-level. Men born with fins and webbed feet might enjoy themselves in the lakes and swamps, which form a considerable portion of Florida. Those whose tastes are favorable to timber-cutting, can find a profitable employment in preparing live-oak and other timbers for market. The climate is very healthy, and has been found highly beneficial to invalids. The vegetable productions of the State are of similar character to those of Georgia, but their amount is not large.

In the Indian tongue, Alabama signifies "Here we rest." The traveler who rests in the State of that name, finds an excellent agricultural region. He finds that cotton is king with the Alabamians, and that the State has fifteen hundred miles of navigable rivers and a good railway system. He finds that Alabama suffered less by the visits of our armies than either Georgia or South Carolina. The people extend him the same welcome that he received in Georgia. They were too deeply interested in the perpetuation of slavery to do otherwise than mourn the failure to establish the Confederacy.

Elsewhere I have spoken of the region bordering the lower portion of the Great River of the West, which includes Louisiana and Mississippi.

In the former State, sugar and cotton are the great products. In the latter, cotton is the chief object of attention. It is quite probable that the change from slavery to freedom may necessitate the division of the large plantations into farms of suitable size for cultivation by persons of moderate capital. If this should be done, there will be a great demand for Northern immigrants, and the commerce of these States will be largely increased.

Early in July, of the present year, after the dispersal of the Rebel armies, a meeting was held at Shreveport, Louisiana, at which resolutions were pa.s.sed favoring the encouragement of Northern migration to the Red River valley. The resolutions set forth, that the pineries of that region would amply repay development, in view of the large market for lumber along Red River and the Mississippi.

They further declared, that the cotton and sugar plantations of West Louisiana offered great attractions, and were worthy the attention of Northern men. The pa.s.sage of these resolutions indicates a better spirit than has been manifested by the inhabitants of other portions of the Pelican State. Many of the people in the Red River region profess to have been loyal to the United States throughout the days of the Rebellion.

The Red River is most appropriately named. It flows through a region where the soil has a reddish tinge, that is imparted to the water of the river. The sugar produced there has the same peculiarity, and can be readily distinguished from the sugar of other localities.

Arkansas is quite rich in minerals, though far less so than Missouri.

Gold abounds in some localities, and lead, iron, and zinc exist in large quant.i.ties. The saltpeter caves along the White River can furnish sufficient saltpeter for the entire Southwest. Along the rivers the soil is fertile, but there are many sterile regions in the interior. The agricultural products are similar to those of Missouri, with the addition of cotton. With the exception of the wealthier inhabitants, the people of Arkansas are desirous of stimulating emigration. They suffered so greatly from the tyranny of the Rebel leaders that they cheerfully accept the overthrow of slavery. Arkansas possesses less advantages than most other Southern States, being far behind her sisters in matters of education and internal improvement.

It is to be hoped that her people have discovered their mistake, and will make earnest efforts to correct it at an early day.

A story is told of a party of strolling players that landed at a town in Arkansas, and advertised a performance of "Hamlet." A delegation waited upon the manager, and ordered him to "move on." The spokesman of the delegation is reported to have said:

"That thar Shakspeare's play of yourn, stranger, may do for New York or New Orleans, but we want you to understand that Shakspeare in Arkansas is pretty ---- well played out."

Persons who wish to give attention to mining matters, will find attractions in Tennessee, in the deposits of iron, copper, and other ores. Coal is found in immense quant.i.ties among the c.u.mberland Mountains, and lead exists in certain localities. Though Tennessee can boast of considerable mineral wealth, her advantages are not equal to those of Missouri or North Carolina. In agriculture she stands well, though she has no soil of unusual fertility, except in the western portion of the State. Cotton, corn, and tobacco are the great staples, and considerable quant.i.ties of wheat are produced. Stock-raising has received considerable attention. More mules were formerly raised in Tennessee than in any other State of the Union. A large portion of the State is admirably adapted to grazing.

Military operations in Tennessee, during the Rebellion, were very extensive, and there was great destruction of property in consequence.

Large numbers of houses and other buildings were burned, and many farms laid waste. It will require much time, capital, and energy to obliterate the traces of war.

The inhabitants of Kentucky believe that their State cannot be surpa.s.sed in fertility. They make the famous "Blue Gra.s.s Region,"

around Lexington, the subject of especial boast. The soil of this section is very rich, and the gra.s.s has a peculiar bluish tinge, from which its name is derived. One writer says the following of the Blue Gra.s.s Region:--

View the country round from the heads of the Licking, the Ohio, the Kentucky, d.i.c.k's, and down the Green River, and you have a hundred miles square of the most extraordinary country on which the sun has ever shone.

Farms in this region command the highest prices, and there are very few owners who have any desire to sell their property. Nearly all the soil of the State is adapted to cultivation. Its staple products are the same as those of Missouri. It produces more flax and hemp than any other State, and is second only to Virginia in the quality and quant.i.ty of its tobacco. Its yield of corn is next to that of Ohio.

Like Tennessee, it has a large stock-raising interest, princ.i.p.ally in mules and hogs, for which there is always a ready market.

Kentucky suffered severely during the campaigns of the Rebel army in that State, and from the various raids of John Morgan. A parody on "My Maryland" was published in Louisville soon after one of Morgan's visits, of which the first stanza was as follows:--

John Morgan's foot is on thy sh.o.r.e, Kentucky! O Kentucky!

His hand is on thy stable door, Kentucky! O Kentucky!

He'll take thy horse he spared before, And ride him till his back is sore, And leave him at some stranger's door, Kentucky! O Kentucky!

Last, and greatest, of the lately rebellious States, is Texas. Every variety of soil can be found there, from the richest alluvial deposits along the river bottoms, down to the deserts in the northwestern part of the State, where a wolf could not make an honest living. All the grains of the Northern States can be produced. Cotton, tobacco, and sugar-cane are raised in large quant.i.ties, and the agricultural capabilities of Texas are very great. Being a new State, its system of internal communications is not good. Texas has the reputation of being the finest grazing region in the Southwest. Immense droves of horses, cattle, and sheep cover its prairies, and form the wealth of many of the inhabitants. Owing to the distance from market, these animals are generally held at very low prices.

Shortly after its annexation to the United States, Texas became a resort for outcasts from civilized society. In some parts of the Union, the story goes that sheriffs, and their deputies dropped the phrase "_non est inventus_" for one more expressive. Whenever they discovered that parties for whom they held writs had decamped, they returned the doc.u.ments with the indors.e.m.e.nt "G.T.T." (gone to Texas).

Some writer records that the State derived its name from the last words of a couplet which runaway individuals were supposed to repeat on their arrival:--

When every other land rejects us, This is the land that freely takes us.

Since 1850, the character of the population of Texas has greatly improved, though it does not yet bear favorable comparison to that of Quaker villages, or of rural districts of Ma.s.sachusetts or Connecticut. There is a large German element in Texas, which displayed devoted loyalty to the Union during the days of the Rebellion.

An unknown philosopher says the world is peopled by two great cla.s.ses, those who have money, and those who haven't--the latter being most numerous. Migratory Americans are subject to the same distinction. Of those who have emigrated to points further West during the last thirty years, a very large majority were in a condition of impecuniosity.

Many persons emigrate on account of financial embarra.s.sments, leaving behind them debts of varied magnitude. In some cases, Territories and States that desired to induce settlers to come within their limits, have pa.s.sed laws providing that no debt contracted elsewhere, previous to emigration, could be collected by any legal process. To a man laboring under difficulties of a pecuniary character, the new Territories and States offer as safe a retreat as the Cities of Refuge afforded to criminals in the days of the ancients.

Formerly, the West was the only field to which emigrants could direct their steps. There was an abundance of land, and a great need of human sinew to make it lucrative. When land could be occupied by a settler and held under his pre-emption t.i.tle, giving him opportunity to pay for his possession from the products of his own industry and the fertility of the soil, there was comparatively little need of capital.

The operations of speculators frequently tended to r.e.t.a.r.d settlement rather than to stimulate it, as they shut out large areas from cultivation or occupation, in order to hold them for an advance. In many of the Territories a dozen able-bodied men, accustomed to farm labor and willing to toil, were considered a greater acquisition than a speculator with twenty thousand dollars of hard cash. Labor was of more importance than capital.

To a certain extent this is still the case. Laboring men are greatly needed on the broad acres of the far-Western States. No one who has not traveled in that region can appreciate the sacrifice made by Minnesota, Iowa, and Kansas, when they sent their regiments of stalwart men to the war. Every arm that carried a musket from those States, was a certain integral portion of their wealth and prosperity.

The great cities of the seaboard could spare a thousand men with far less loss than would accrue to any of the States I have mentioned, by the subtraction of a hundred. There is now a great demand for men to fill the vacancy caused by deaths in the field, and to occupy the extensive areas that are still uncultivated. Emigrants without capital will seek the West, where their stout arms will make them welcome and secure them comfortable homes.

In the South the situation is different. For the present there is a sufficiency of labor. Doubtless there will be a scarcity several years hence, but there is no reason to fear it immediately. Capital and direction are needed. The South is impoverished. Its money is expended, and it has no present source of revenue. There is nothing wherewith to purchase the necessary stock, supplies, and implements for prosecuting agricultural enterprise. The planters are generally helpless. Capital to supply the want must come from the rich North.

Direction is no less needed than capital. A majority of Southern men declare the negroes will be worthless to them, now that slavery is abolished. "We have," say they, "lived among these negroes all our days. We know them in no other light than as slaves. We command them to do what we wish, and we punish them as we see fit for disobedience.

We cannot manage them in any other way."

No doubt this is the declaration of their honest belief. A Northern man can give them an answer appealing to their reason, if not to their conviction. He can say, "You are accustomed to dealing with slaves, and you doubtless tell the truth when declaring you cannot manage the negroes under the new system. We are accustomed to dealing with freemen, and do not know how to control slaves. The negroes being free, our knowledge of freemen will enable us to manage them without difficulty."

Every thing is favorable to the man of small or large capital, who desires to emigrate to the South. In consideration of the impoverishment of the people and their distrust of the freed negroes as laborers, lands in the best districts can be purchased very cheaply. Plantations can be bought, many of them with all the buildings and fences still remaining, though somewhat out of repair, at prices ranging from three to ten dollars an acre. A few hundred dollars will do far more toward securing a home for the settler in the South than in the West. Labor is abundant, and the laborers can be easily controlled by Northern brains. The land is already broken, and its capabilities are fully known. Capital, if judiciously invested and under proper direction, whether in large or moderate amounts, will be reasonably certain of an ample return.

FINIS.

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