Open Collections

BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

Early western travels 1748-1846 : A series of annotated reprints of some of the best and rarest contemporary… Thwaites, Reuben Gold, 1853-1913 1904

Item Metadata


JSON: bcbooks-1.0315363.json
JSON-LD: bcbooks-1.0315363-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): bcbooks-1.0315363-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: bcbooks-1.0315363-rdf.json
Turtle: bcbooks-1.0315363-turtle.txt
N-Triples: bcbooks-1.0315363-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: bcbooks-1.0315363-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

Array       -^s
Early Western Travels
Volume IX
i  Early Western Travels
A Series of Annotated Reprints of some of the best
and rarest contemporary volumes of travel, descriptive of the Aborigines and Social and
Economic Conditions in the Middle
and Far West, during the Period
of Early American Settlement
Edited with Notes, Introductions, Index, etc., by
Reuben Gold Thwaites, LL.D.
Editor of "The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents,"  "Original
Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition," "Hennepin's
New Discovery," etc.
Volume IX
Flint's Letters from America, 1818-1820
Cleveland, Ohio
The Arthur H. Clark Company
1904 Copyright 1004, by
fftjt ILaiugftu 5|3rfS8
Preface.    The Editor    .	
Letters from America, containing Observations  on   the
Climate and Agriculture of the Western States, the Manners of the People, the Prospects of Emigrants, &c, &c.
James Flint
Dedication .......
Author's Table of Contents .....
~s  '1
Facsimile of original title-page  . .        .        .       17
Wooden fence (text cut) . .        .40
Horse rake (text cut)        .......       41
Buck saw (text cut) .......       61
Cradle scythe (text cut)    . .        .        .        .        .125
Island in the Ohio (text cut)     ......      159
Typical township map (text cut)        .....      177
Typical subdivision of a township (text cut) .        .        .178  PREFACE TO VOLUME IX
Had all the travellers from Great Britain who visited
America during the early decades of the nineteenth century been of so discriminating a temperament as the
Scotchman whose work we republish as volume ix of our
series, Americans might have lacked that sensitiveness
that arose from unjust and flippant portrayal and criticism of American manners.
James Flint was of a good family, had been carefully
educated, and possessed a sound and just judgment, with
capacity for philosophic insight. Coming to the United
States to observe conditions, he depicts them with candor
and good will. While confessing favorable preconceptions, due to a personal liking for democratic institutions,
our author does not omit the shadows in his pictures; but
he presents them with such dispassionate fairness that
the sting of criticism is removed.
Flint was particularly interested in the Middle West.
Therefore, after a brief sojourn in New York and Philadelphia, where he commented judiciously on all that made
for the higher life of these two young cities, he followed the
great Western thoroughfare which crossed Pennsylvania
to Pittsburg, then the gateway of trans-Allegheny America.
Here he purchased a skiff and floated down the Ohio,
occasionally landing to make visits and observations; from
Portsmouth he proceeded on a circuit through Ohio and
Kentucky, settling at length at the falls of Ohio, in the
Indiana town of Jeffersonville.
A resident at this place for several months, his investi-
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
gation of Western conditions assumed a new phase. No
longer the passing traveller, noting the novelties and peculiarities of the people, Flint began a systematic observation of American institutions in general, and particularly the political, social, and economic life of the Middle
West. In his succinct but comprehensive study of the
national constitution and local state governments, he
anticipates De Tocqueville and Bryce. His comments
upon the judicial system show an appreciation of the stern
necessities of primitive justice, coupled with the law-abiding spirit characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon race. His
notes upon the power of public opinion as a restraining
force in political life, and upon the universal veneration for
the constitution, show that he discovered the fundamental
principles underlying American political life. His comprehension of the historical development of the West is
remarkable for keen insight and prophetic vision. He
realized what the acquisition of Louisiana had meant
in dispelling the dangers of a Western secession from the
republic; and showed that the true interests of the West
allied her with Eastern markets.
Looming large on the horizon, Flint discerned the second factor which was to rend American Ufe. The discussion of the Missouri Compromise had scarce begun, but
already he saw that the nation could not always exist
half-slave and half-free. He saw also that the long border
line forming a kind of moral boundary, was the crucial
difficulty, and that the acute stage in the controversy
would be reached over the question of fugitive slaves. To
the present generation these seem self-evident truths; but
few Americans and fewer foreigners had the keenness to
perceive this before 1820. Flint, however, unlike many
Englishmen of his day, was no radical condemner of slav- 1818-1820]
ery; he appreciated its patriarchal features and its real
benefits for the negroes. He also saw that the masters
suffered more deterioration by the system than the slaves;
that the responsibility for the system rested not upon present, but historic conditions; and that wholesale denunciation was not only unjust, but useless.
In addition to his comments on this great social question, Flint throws much light on general conditions in the
young West. He studies the spectacular drama of the
camp-meeting revival not only from the point of pic-
turesqueness, but of educational and religious development. He realizes the need of the people for education,
but appreciates the provisions made therefor in public
lands. Throughout the West he finds the saving remnant
— people of culture and refinement, who welcome
strangers with hospitality, and are laboring to erect a
worthy civilization in this newest community. The social
equality everywhere evident among whites pleases him,
and he remarks not unkindly upon the general dislike
for personal service that characterizes the ambitious West.
His satire on the excess of the honorary titles of "major,"
"colonel," and "judge," as well as upon the readiness
with which the "land of liberty" is vociferously proclaimed,
is gentle and kindly.
But all these features of Flint's work are secondary
to his economic study. Not only did he prove himself
a wise and trained observer, but he was a scientific economist, and had come to the United States for research material. At each stage of his travels he sets forth the ratio
between prices and wages, explains the industrial aspects,
and the prospects for emigrants. Already, he tells us,
nearly all the best land of Kentucky and Ohio is taken up.
Settlement  is flooding Indiana,  Illinois, and Missouri, 12
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
where cheap lands are yet available. He shows the sanitary disadvantages of this newer, more reeking soil, as
against the possibilities it offers to the emigrant to secure
the profits of his own industry. With keen indignation
he condemns the unsound banking system of the West,
deprecates the booming of town sites, and the "log-rolling" in state legislatures. But in the face of criticism, and
as though eager to forestall unfavorable judgments, he
contrasts American conditions with those of Great Britain,
with no undue favor for the latter, reminding his English
readers that here are no boroughs to monopolize business
interests, no clergymen to control education, no nobility
to exact special privileges. \ \ I have never heard of any
parson who acts as Justice of the Peace, or who intermixes
his addresses to the Great Object of Religious Worship,
with the eulogy of the Holy Alliance. . . . The farming
interest has no monopoly against manufacturing: nor has
the manufacturing any positive prohibition against the
farmer." Free industry is the dominating factor of
American life, the keystone of its prosperity.
In short, we have in Flint's Letters a remarkable study
of American life in the beginning of its new era, at the
close of the second war with England. Charitable, comprehending, thoughtful, he does not slur over national
faults nor unduly praise local virtues. Dangers, both
financial and political, are pointed out; but the basic principles of American society are distinctly and clearly laid
bare, and the progress and possibilities of the New West
In the present reprint, the original edition, published in
Edinburgh in 1822, has been followed; save that the
Addenda given in the latter   (pp. 303-330), have been 1818-1820]
omitted, as being composed of material of small present
i. Two letters from a Jeffersonville (Indiana) lawyer
dated Dec. 20, 1820, and Aug. 1, 1821, commenting satirically upon the wildcat currency of that day.
2. Three other letters, by various persons, giving an
account of material progress in Indiana.
3. "The American Tariff, with alterations and addi-
In the preparation of this volume for the press, the
Editor has had the assistance of Louise Phelps Kellogg,
Ph.D., Edith Kathryn Lyle, Ph.D., and Mr. Archer
Butler Hulbert.
R. G. T.
Madison, Wis., October, 1904.
41  Flint's Letters from America—1818-1820
Reprint of the original edition: Edinburgh, 1822
** From the disorders that disfigure the annals of the Republics of Greece and Italy, the
advocates of despotism have drawn arguments, not only against the forms of republican
government, but against the very principles of civil liberty. They have decried all free
governments as inconsistent with the order of society, and have indulged themselves In
malicious exultatidn over its friends and partizans. Happily for mankind, stupendous
fabrics reared on the basis of liberty* which have flourished for ages, have* In a few glorious instances* refuted their gloomy sophisms. And. I trust* America will be the broad and
•olid foundation of other edifices not less magnificent, which will be equally permanent
monuments of their error."—General Alexander Hamilton.
1822.  TO
Voyage from  Greenock to New York—Circumstances of
Passengers—Arrival, &c.   ------      25
Observations on New York—Removal to Long Island —
Miscellaneous Remarks—Return to New York—Farther
Observations on the City   ------      30
Journey from New York to Philadelphia — Observations on
Philadelphia—Institutions—Manufactures—People      -      48
Journey from Philadelphia to Pittsburg—Remarks on the
Country—Notices of Emigrants, and occurrences by the
way ---------      64
Pittsburg — Situation — Manufactures—Occurrences—People  ----------      82
Descend the Ohio from Pittsburg to Beaver— Occurrences
and Remarks there     -------89
Descend the Ohio from Beaver to Portsmouth—Occurrences
and Remarks Interspersed     ------   100
wmm Lawyers—Doctors—Clergy—Mechanics—Justices   of   the
Peace—Anecdotes—Punishments—Reflections     -        -     194 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
[vii]   LETTER XV
Outline of the American Constitution—From the Frequency
of Revolutions in Europe, the Instability of the American
Republic is not to be inferred - 205
State Legislatures—Predilection for Dividing Counties, Laying
out New Towns and Roads—The Influence of Slavery on
the Habits of the People—Banking       -       -       -       -    215
Depreciated Paper Money—Want of Employment—State
Expenses—The Progress of New Settlements
Passage to Cincinnati—Trade—Manufactures—Institutions
—Banks—Climate—Notice of three Indian Chiefs—
Remarks on the Indian People        -
Descend the Ohio from Cincinnati to Madison—Notices of a
Scotch Settlement—Excess of Male Population—Roads
— Harvest — Crops — Orchards — Timber — Elections
— Methodist Camp Meeting   -       -       -       -       -       -250
Circumstances that Retard   Manufacturing Industry,   and
Causes of its Prosperity -	
Circuit Court of Indiana—Lands—Crops—Salt springs—
Corydon—Barrens—Caves—Tornado—Alluvial Lands
—Large Trees—Wild Vines—Steam boats—the Falls
of the Ohio—Billious and Intermitting Fevers—Taciturnity—Americanisms -------    276 Passage from the Falls of the Ohio to Cincinnati—Journey to
Lake Erie—the Great Sciota—Pickaway Plains Prairies
—Sickly State of the Country—Indians—People  -
Passage on Lake Erie—The Falls of Niagara—Passage on
Lake Ontario—Descend the River St. Lawrence—Falls
—Montreal—Quebec—Indians—Remarks on the People—Timber Trade—Government—Climate        -       -    313 LETTERS FROM AMERICA
Voyage from Greenock to New York — Circumstances
of Passengers — Arrival, &c.
New York, July 10, 1818.
As I have already informed you, I sailed from Greenock
on the 24th of May last, in the American ship Glenthorn,
Stillman Master, bound for this place.
I observed that my fellow emigrants were much affected
when about to take a final leave of their native land: some
regretting the separation from their native soil, while
others, mute and thoughtful, seemed to suffer under feelings of a more tender kind.
To some it may appear inconsistent in people to regret
leaving their homes and their friends, while the emigration
is voluntarily undertaken; but on this occasion, the paradox will be explained, when their circumstances and views
are taken into consideration.
Of our party were three farmers, with their families,
whose leases were expired; all of them having declined
engaging for a new term of years, [2] under the apprehension of seeing their paternal stock, and the savings of many
years' industry, divided between the landholder and the
collector of taxes. A native of Scotland, who had resided
several years in America, returned with the intention of
resuming business in the town where he was born, but the
thick ranks of a necessitous and half employed population,
had closed on the place he had left.   There was a widow,
1 26
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
with two children, on her way to put herself under the
protection of a brother in America. With us also were
several of the labouring class, whose utmost exertions could
only procure the bare support of existence; and ploughmen, who prudently refrained from marrying with fourteen
pounds a-year. In short, there was scarcely one of our
number whose condition might not perhaps be bettered,
or whose prospects could be rendered worse, by the change
of country.
In a voyage from Europe to America, most passengers
may expect to be sea-sick. Nearly all of them on board
the Glenthorn, on this occasion, suffered more or less.
For my own part, I never was entirely free from it for more
than three-fourths of the passage. This disease is dispiriting while it continues, but as it is believed to produce no
permanent injury, but, on the contrary, is thought conducive to future health, the attack is not at all dreaded.
People unaccustomed to the seafaring life ought to carry
with them those kinds of provisions to which they have been
previously accustomed, as the stores of the ship soon
become loathsome to the sick. Potatoes will be found
acceptable, when the caprice of taste rejects almost every
other food; and walking on deck is of service, as the air
is better, and the pitching of the ship is considerably less
felt, than below.
[3] It is very improper to go to sea in crowded vessels;
as epidemic diseases are engendered, and the most dreadful mortality is the consequence. That law of Britain
which allows only one passenger for every five tons of
burden in American ships (including seamen) is a most
beneficial regulation; and while, in American bottoms, the
cabin passenger pays L.21, and the steerage passenger
L.i 2, the expense cannot be complained of, while health 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
and comfort are taken into consideration. It is much to he
regretted that the government of England does not extend
its humane restriction to its own Canadian settlers, and to
emigrants who sail for the United States in British ships.
The 4th of July is celebrated by Americans as the anniversary of their independence, declared in 1776. The
captain and seamen were disposed to be joyful in commemoration of this great event. The striped flag was displayed, guns and pistols were fired, accompanied with loud
cheers. The passengers, no less enthusiastic, joined in
the strongest expressions of their devotedness to the democratic form of government. They indulged in such sentiments as, a sincere wish that the United States may long
continue exempt from that excessive corruption, as they
thought, which has so long and so much degraded a large
portion of the human race;— and their avowed satisfaction at the near prospect of becoming people of the Republic.
On the 8th we came in sight of Long Island, and the
high lands of New Jersey; a welcome occurrence to people
who had been so long at sea. In the afternoon a pilot
came on .board. He informed us that the city was in great
bustle, as the inhabitants were assembled to deposit the
bones of General Montgomery, who fell at Quebec, on the
31st of December, 1775.1   The remains of the patriotic
1 General Richard Montgomery (1737-1775) was a native of Ireland, and
served with Wolfe at Quebec in 1759- At the outbreak of the Revolutionary
War he was appointed commander of the American forces in the Northern Department, being killed in his heroic assault on Quebec, December 31, 1775.
Through the courtesy of the British general his body was buried with the honors
of war within the unconquered walls of Quebec. Forty-three years later the
remains were disinterred, in compliance with a special act of the New York legislature, brought to New York City and deposited with great solemnity beneath
a monument in front of St. Paul's church (July 8, 1818). A full account of the
ceremony is contained in the New York Daily Advertiser of that date.— Ed.
mm 28
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
[4] leader were buried by the ministerialists without the
fort, and were to-day interred by his grateful countrymen
under the portico of St. Paul's church, New York. We
were sorry that it was not in our power to witness the solemnity.
In the evening we were off the point Sandyhook. The
smell of the new hay on the adjacent fields regaled us very
agreeably. All seemed elated with joy. A bagpipe and
two violins played by turns, and our young people danced
on deck till a late hour. During this season of mirth,
we were entertained by a sight, perhaps unequalled in the
phenomena of an European climate. Some dense black
clouds which hung over Long Island, were frequently
illuminated by flashes of lightning. It is in vain to attempt
a description. About midnight we passed through the
Narrows, and soon afterwards anchored on the quarantine
ground, about seven miles from New York.
On the morning of the 9th of July, the inspecting surgeon visited us, and allowed the anchor to be weighed.
In this situation we had a full view of the shores of Staten
and Long Islands. The wooden houses are neat, and the
orchards and natural woods have a thriving appearance.
It would seem that the people here have a partiality to
the Lombardy poplar, which grows to a great height,
shooting up its branches nearly perpendicularly; assuming
something of the appearance of a spire. The straight rows
of these trees, so common here, have an insipid regularity
and sameness, more like a file of armed soldiery than an
ornamental grove.
Some of the frame houses are painted red, those of the
finer sort, white; ornamental railings are also painted
white.   Toj an European eye, these colours appear too'
glaring.   The lands seen from the bay are sandy and poor. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
[5] The first glimpse of the city of New York is by no
means a distinct one. The buildings are much obscured
by the forest of masts in front of them; and as the site of
the town rises but gently inland, the houses in front conceal, in a great measure, those in the rear, so that the shipping and the numerous spires are the objects most distinctly seen.
Before entering the port we were twice boarded by
agents from the Newspaper offices. They inquired for
British newspapers, and generally for the news of Europe;
they noted down the names of several of our passengers,
which they intended to publish in the papers of the afternoon. There are no less than seven newspapers printed
in New York daily; the competition of these Journalists is
keen, and their industry seems to be great.
We have experienced much good treatment from Captain
Stillman. Every passenger is so sensible of this, that a
committee of their number was requested to make public
testimony of their esteem for him.
We landed yesterday about noon, all in good health and
spirits. During the voyage, passengers have experienced
no kind of sickness, except that peculiarly incident to the
This letter cannot come immediately into the hands of
all my friends; most of them, I hope, will hear that I am
arrived in this place in good health. Should you adopt
any way of making this and any subsequent communications generally known to them, it will be very gratifying
to me, and, besides, will relieve me of the labour of writing
many letters; a labour, dictated by the strongest ties of
gratitude and affection, but one which it is doubtful if I
can accomplish to the satisfaction of my own mind.
■■■■■■■■■ii &
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
Observations on New York — Removal to Long Island —
Miscellaneous Remarks — Return to New York — Farther Observations on the City.
New York, August 4, 1818.
On entering New York, I was struck with its appearance. Streets lined with lofty trees, most of them the
Lombardy poplar, which affords a very agreeable shade in
hot weather; indeed, they are so numerous, that the new
comer, when he looks before him, is apt to suppose himself in the midst of a wood. The streets, with a few exceptions, are too narrow, and are deficient in sewers.
Many parts of the town prevent me from thinking that it
deserves the character of extreme cleanliness bestowed
upon it. The greater part of the houses are of brick,
neatly built; but, to eyes accustomed to towns of hewn
stone, New York has, on the whole, what (for want of a
more descriptive word) may be called a gingerbread appearance.
The markets here are amply supplied with fine vegetables, and an immense variety of excellent fish, a great
proportion of which are sold alive. Beef and pork are good,
but the mutton and veal that I have seen are of inferior
quality. Marketing is carried on more after the manner
in some Engbsh country towns. No servants, but masters,
attend and carry home the provisions.
Beggars do not abound here as in some countries of
Europe. I am told that every man who is [7] able to work
can earn a dollar per day, and that his board costs two or
three dollars per week; thus it is in his power to banish
every appearance of poverty, and to save some money, provided he is disposed to economy.    Mechanics have good 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America 31
encouragement. Joiners one and three-quarters, and
masons two dollars a-day. They usually pay three
dollars, or upwards, a-week for their board.
Many of the necessaries of life are here purchased at
high prices. Woollen cloths and most articles of wearing
apparel imported, pay duties, varying, in different cases,
from 25 to 33 per cent. In transacting with the merchant
and the tailor, farther American enhancements may be
calculated upon. Washing and dressing of shirts, neckcloths, &c. costs a dollar and a half per dozen. Every
thing that an American does, must be liberally paid for.
This tends to render living dear, even where provisions
are cheap.
Some imported articles, as silks, wines, foreign spirituous
liquors, teas, sugar, and coffee, are much cheaper than in
Britain. The difference of custom-house duties is the
cause of this.
The condition of animals bespeak the great plenty of
food that falls to their share. The horses employed in
removing goods to and from the wharfs, and in stage
coaches, are fat, and in high spirits. They are not so
rough-legged, so broad, or so strong-limbed, as the draught
horses of Britain; but they are better adapted for speed.
Hogs, running in the streets, are numerous, but they are
not starvelings. I have seen several of them that would
yield upwards of 300 lbs. of pork without special feeding.
Speaking of hogs, I would mention by the way, that they
are allowed to run at large for the purpose of cleaning the
streets. An economical way of procuring scavengers, [8]
but one that leads to a commutation of nuisance rather
than a final removal of it.
July 12. Last night the heat was excessive, and not
accompanied with a breath of wind.   It was in vain that
mam 32
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
I thrust my head out at an open window to be cooled.
The effluvia arising from the streets is, in a great measure,
occasioned by a high temperature. I imagine that a
copious evolution of phosphorized hydrogen gas goes on
in such weather. I could not sleep till three or four o'clock.
This morning I heard that some people who had suffered
from the heat and stillness of the air, had stretched themselves on carpets, or sat by open room doors, or in passages.
Nights so very oppressive are said to occur rarely. In high
and inland parts of the country they do not occur at all.
This is not the most proper season of the year for Europeans arriving here. Yesterday and to-day the heat has
been excessive, the thermometer in the shade stood at
97^°. In such a degree of heat it is imprudent to take
much exercise. The temperature of the human body
being lower than that of the air, the former is deprived of
the cooling process usually produced by evaporation.
Should the heat of the blood be increased in such
a case, fever commences. We had an example of this,
in a young man, one of the emigrants on board the
Glenthorn, who exerted himself too much in getting
baggage ashore. He was this day removed to Brooklyn, a high-lying village on Long Island, about a mile
from New York. Transitions from heat to cold are,
perhaps, still more dangerous; of late, eleven persons
have died in the city by drinking cold water. Several
of them were strangers newly landed. Water should
not be drunk immediately from the [9] well, but should be
allowed previously to stand for a few minutes in the air.
It should be taken in small mouthfuls, and these heated in
the mouth for two or three seconds before swallowing.
Precautions of this kind ought to be strictly attended to,
while heated by exercise or the sun's rays.   Spirits are 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
often mixed with water, to prevent the injurious effects of
the latter. This corrective, however much extolled, ought
to be taken in very small quantities. Here, as in Britain,
there are many who resort to spirituous liquors as the sovereign medicine, both in hot and in cold weather.
Strangers lodge in boarding houses, and are charged
from three dollars to twenty a-week. I have got lodgings
in a good one, where I find interesting company. Previous to our meals a servant rings a small hand-bell, summoning every lodger to the public room, where we all eat
together.   A polite, well-dressed, hostess presides.
Servants are not here so attentive to their duty as elsewhere; many of them are free blacks, slow in their motions,
and often treating the most reasonable commands with
neglect. Master is not a word in the vocabulary of hired
people. Bos, a Dutch one of similar import, is substituted.2 The former is used by Negroes, and is by free
people considered as synonymous with slave-keeper.
This afternoon much thunder was heard. After twilight the lightning flashed incessantly, so that the illumination was almost permanent. Thunder storms in America
are more frequent, more severe, and often accompanied
with greater rains than in Europe. A respectable gentleman of Delaware county, in this State, told me, that
during a thunder storm there, he laid his watch on the
table, and found that an hour and forty-eight minutes
elapsed [10] without one cessation of sound. He thinks
it probable that the peal lasted about two hours, as a few
minutes must have passed before the idea of noting the
time suggested itself.
July 13. This evening, after dark, I was surprised to
see a large object standing in the centre of one of the prin-
' From the Dutch Baas, meaning master.— Ed. 34
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
cipal streets; on approaching it, I discovered that it was a
frame-house, with a wheel affixed to each corner. Its
length was about twenty-two feet, breadth about sixteen
feet, and two stories high. I am just told that much larger
buildings than this are often dragged off by horses, with
their roofs, floors, plaster, doors, and windows, entire;
furniture sometimes included. This sort of removal
happens at the expiry of leases of small lots, where the
occupier is not bound to leave the buildings.
July 16. For two days past, the skin of my face has
been spotted, accompanied with blotches, and with partial
swelling. This is called the prickly heat, from the pungent
feeling that attends it. A medical gentleman has told me,
that this has been occasioned by a sudden cooling, which
has put a stop to perspiration. He congratulated me on
having escaped a fever, prescribed a hot bath, and subsequent sea-bathing. I am about to set out for Long Island,
in obedience to the latter part of the Doctor's prescription.
Afternoon. Arrived at New-Utrecht, a village near the
south-western extremity of Long Island.3 On leaving New
York, I crossed the "ferry to Brooklyn, by a steam-boat of
singular construction: this vessel is composed of two hulls,
at a little distance from, and parallel to, one another; they
are connected by a deck common to both. The water-
wheel, turned by a steam-engine, is placed between [n]
the keels of the boats. There is a rudder at each end, so
that she can cross and re-cross, without putting about.
A stage coach runs from Brooklyn to New Utrecht. The
distance is nine miles; and the fare for one person, half a
dollar. This coach, like the other public ones of the country, has no glass windows in the front or the sides of it,
3 New Utrecht was in Kings County, New York, seven miles from New York
City.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
these parts are furnished with curtains, which are let down
in bad weather. The coach is long, containing four seats
that run across; and travellers sit with their faces forward,
as in the pews of a church.
I have agreed to stop a few days at New Utrecht. My
host is an intelligent man, obliging, but not fawning;
he and his wife take the principal drudgery of the house
upon themselves, as the slaves are extremely slow in the execution of their work. Sometimes the landlord presides at
the head of the table, and at other times he acts as servant.
At dinner we were joined by the coach-driver who brought
us from Brooklyn; he is very unlike the drivers of some
other coaches, is well dressed, active, and attentive to his
business, by no means obsequious, answers every question
with propriety, and without embarrassment. He does not
depend on the gratuities of travellers for his wages. That
system, which so universally prevails in Britain, is unknown here.
At the inn there were three boarders, all Scotsmen. One
of them, a young gentleman from Edinburgh, who was
confined to bed by a broken thigh bone, occasioned by a
horse running away with a gig, from which he fell while
attempting to disengage himself; he was occasionally attended by a young lady, whose visits were frequent, although she lived at the distance of ten miles. The people
of the neighbourhood were also very attentive to this [12]
person, often calling for him; and several of the young men
sat with him all night by rotation. It was pleasing to see
so creditable a display of the benevolent affections.
The good people here are the descendants of the original
Dutch settlers. They are placed in comfortable circumstances, their style of living somewhat resembling that of
farmers in the more fertile and improved parts of Scotland. 36
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
If the situations of farmers in the two countries were compared, it would appear that the advantage of the Long
Islanders consists in a climate highly conducive to vegetation, their freedom from rent, being owners of the soil, and
the total absence of any heavy taxes; and that their comparative disadvantage is, the want of such active domestic
and agricultural servants as the farmer of the other
country employs.
Mr. Cobbet4 is now farming about nine miles from this
place. His people (it is said) could not bear the opprobrious name servant, and, with the exception of one person, left him.5
The fishermen here drag ashore many fishes in their
seines. Without other evidence than the vast quantities
of smaller ones left on the shore, the abundant supply of
the New York market might be inferred. I bathe twice
a-day, on the spot where General Howe first effected the
landing of his army." A farmer very obligingly gives me
the key of his fishing house on the beach, that I may dress
* William Cobbett, a publicist known both in America and England, was born
on a farm in Surrey, March, 1762. After serving for several years in the English
army, he resigned and (1792) came to Philadelphia. Here, under the name of
"Peter Porcupine," he advocated the cause of the Federalists. Returning to
London in 1800, he founded the Weekly Political Register. His influence with
the workingmen was so great that the English government became alarmed, and
he found it prudent to spend two more years in America (1817-19). He published his experiences as a Dong Island farmer (1818), under the title A Year's
Residence in the United States of America. Vigorously opposing the plans of
Morris Birkbeck and others to bring over colonies of British emigrants to the
United States, his attacks and the replies that followed brought on a journalistic controversy which lasted until about 1825. • (See volumes x, xi, and rii
of our series.) Upon his return to England, he was elected to parliament as a
Liberal in 1832, and served until his death (1835).— Ed.
* This person was English.— Flint.
* Admiral Lord Richard Howe, British general in the Revolutionary War,
left Halifax with his fleet June 11, 1776, to effect a union with General Clinton
at New York. He arrived at Sandy Hook June 29, and July 2 took possession
of Staten Island.— Ed.
il 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
and undress in it. The farmers here catch great quantities
of fish, with which they manure their land.
There are still a considerable number of slaves in Long
Island; they are treated with a degree of [13] humanity that
slaves in some other parts of the world never experience;
they are well fed, and the whip is very seldom resorted to.
Notwithstanding their comparative advantages, they detest the unnatural yoke, and frequently run off. It often
happens that the master neither pursues nor inquires after
the fugitive. What becomes of the self-emancipated is
not here well understood. I have heard that many of them
get to Boston, or some other of the northern ports, from
whence they are carried to the Southern States, sold, and
placed under a harsher treatment.
A great part of the slaves of the State of New York are
to be emancipated in the year 1827.7 It is difficult to predict the consequences of this liberation. It is to be feared
that people who have been compelled to work, will, of
their own choice, become banditti, rather than adopt industrious habits. Arrangements must necessarily be made
before the arrival of this revolution; but many satisfy
themselves by saying, that the legislature will devise some
plan that will enable them to get over the difficulty. Some
suggest that the Negroes shall be returned to Africa. On
this measure, the African Association, so much talked of
in America,  proceeds.8   The expense of transporting,
' By act of legislation, 31st March, 1817, "Every Negro, Mulatto, or Mustee,
within this State,, bom before the 4th day of July, 17991 shall, from and after
the 4th day of July, 1827, be free."— Flint.
* The American Society for the Colonization of the Free People of Color of
the United States, was organized at Washington, December, 1816. It rapidly
gained favor, both North and South, and by February, 1820, sufficient money
had been subscribed to send the first colony to Liberia. But the free negroes
disliked it; the colonists suffered great hardships in Liberia; and the abolitionists soon opposed the project. William Lloyd Garrison began to denounce
the Society in 1829, and thereafter it declined steadily in importance.— Ed.
MMM Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
settling, supporting, and governing a new colony, must be
immense. The design is as benevolent as the difficulties
to be encountered are great. The support it meets with in
slave-keeping states, looks like a pledge of sincerity, and
an omen that forebodes success to the undertaking.
[14] The project of removing blacks to the backwoods
of America seems to be altogether objectionable. It
would be difficult, if not impossible, to prevent their return
from exile; their previous habits and disposition render
them ill-calculated to the work of subduing the forests.
Besides, they would commit depredations on the neighboring settlers, and on the Indian people.
Long Island being composed of alluvial soil, surrounded
by a high beach, its surface is necessarily what is called a
table land: for the most part the surface is somewhat fiat,
the soil is dry, and at this season, without streams of water.
Near the surface I have observed a substratum that is
intermixed with clay. If a part of this was raised above
the ground, it would be made to approach to a loam, more
productive, and less liable to be injured by drought, than
the present sandy coating that covers the surface. A
trenching, performed by the spade or by the plough, would
no doubt produce the good effect.
A labourer in Long Island receives half a dollar a-day,
with his board, and a dollar in harvest.
The weather, which is said to be hotter at present than
it has been for several years, begins to scorch the surface
of the ground. The stubble from which the hay has
recently been removed, retains the appearance of a newly
mown field; pasture grass is withering. In some fields a
rank crop of weeds continues green; amongst these the
cattle are straying nearly two feet deep, but are in reality
almost starving;  water is drawn from deep wells,  and 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
served out to them in rather too small qijantities. The
cows are small, as may be expected. Good crops of
wheat, rye, and Indian corn, are raised. These require
manure. Indian corn is considered a good crop, when at
the rate [15] of 40 bushels per acre. Oats do not ripen
well from the excessive heat, and are used only for the feed
of horses. Potatoes are small; their tops grow high and
slender, as when shaded by trees in your country; their
leaves are small and shrivelled. The greatest luxuriance to
be met with in Long Island is in the orchards, the branches
of apple and pear trees are bent down, and not unfrequently
broken by the weight of the fruit. Peach trees were lately
productive, but are now falling into decay. I have met
with no one able to assign the cause. The woods are
thriving, but few of the trees are large; they are evidently
a new growth, and not contemporary with the thick trunks
that opposed the first settlers. The owners frequently
spare their own timber, and purchase from other parts of
the State, or from New Jersey. In consequence of paying for timber and carriage, building in Long Island is
rendered more expensive than in more late settlements.
It is not easy to state the price of land in Long Island,
as much of it has descended from father to son, from the
first settlement; and sales have been rare. A farm within
ten miles of New York would perhaps sell at 140 or 150
dollars (from L.31, 10s. to L.33, 15s.) per acre. The practice of renting land is by shares, the occupier paying to the
proprietor one half of the actual price of the produce, the
former bearing the risk and trouble of collecting the
The fences are of wood. The figure is a representation
of the railing commonly adopted here.
[16] A fence of this sort, costs about a dollar for every
HHf m
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
ten yards in length. Where the posts are of cedar, and
the rails of chesnut, the erection, it is said, may stand
about fifty years. I examined one reported to be thirty
years old, and found it to be so strong, that it may be expected still to last for years to come. There are neither
hedges nor stone fences to be seen in this neighbourhood.
The crops, as in most parts of America, are cut down
by what is called the Cradle-scythe. I went into a field
where a Negro was reaping wheat with this sort of implement, and observed that about an English acre was cut
down. On making inquiry, it appeared that he had been
engaged about six hours in the work. The following dialogue ensued:
"You work very hard ?"
f 'No Sir, I can do much more in the time, but that of no
"You are not free then ?"
"No Sir, I a slave, I longs to Jacob Van
(pointing to the farm house.)
"But you black people are very well treated here?"
"Oh yes, Sir, master very good to me, give me every
thing to eat he eat self, but no Sunday clothes.''
"You may five happier than some poor free people?"
"That may be true, Sir, but put bird in cage, give him
plenty to eat, still he fly away.''
I delay giving a description of the cradle-scythe, as I 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
doubt if the one that I have just seen is of the best construction.
After the crop is cut, the swath is collected by the hand,
and tied into sheaves; a small quantity of stalks still remain scattered over the surface, [17] these are commonly
collected by the hand-rake. To facilitate the latter part
of the process, a horse rake has been recently invented;
of which the following figure is a representation.
AB is a beam about six inches square, and about twelve
feet long. CD is an upright rail that prevents the stalks
accumulated by the machine from falling over the beam
AB, and so left behind. EF, ef, are two supports to the
rail, which also serve as handles for steering, and occasionally upsetting the machine. ABHG is a tire of wooden
teeth, one and a half inches diameter, and about six
inches distant from one another. These teeth are sharpened at their extremities, and skim along the ground with
their points forward; raising up and collecting the stalks.
MMfl SJf
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
IK are trees to which the horses are yoked.    The trees
are attached to the beam AB, by the rope BLA.
[18] The field in which I saw the horse rake used is flat
and not ridged; consequently the straight beam operated
very well. To adapt a beam to ridges, it would only be
necessary to construct it with two joints or hinges; one at
each side of the handles, and to connect the central part
of the beam by a rope with the point of attachment L.
Otherwise, the implement may be moved across the ridges.
Four wheeled waggons are the vehicles used in carrying home the crops, carrying manure into the fields, and
produce to market. They are drawn by two horses,
which trot, whether loaded or not. Small one-horse
waggons are also used, they are neat, and are furnished
with a seat for conveying families to church, and elsewhere. Many of the farmers who own but small properties, keep one horse gigs.    Ladies drive dexterously.
The practice of housing the crops, and the ancient one
of treading them out by the feet of horses, shew that the
Long Islanders have yet something to learn in the way of
dispatching their agricultural business.
The high price of land prevents emigrants from settling
here. The near neighbourhood of a market, and the salubrity derived from dry land, together with sea breezes,
might, notwithstanding, form sufficient inducements to
many, who would pursue their immediate advantage;
but those who look forward to the future prospects of a
family, commonly prefer some part of the back country.
July 24. Saw the works in progress at Fort Diamond.*
This is a large battery raised on a shoal in the narrows,
9 Fort Diamond, later renamed Fort Lafayette, was the largest of the forts
planned in 1812 for the defense of New York harbor. It became famous as a
political state prison during the War of Secession, and was then protected by
seventy-five heavy mounted guns.— Ed.
HtwTWimwiiiiimnm 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
about 200 yards off the western point of Long Island;
most of the workmen are British.
[19] Crossed the Narrows to Staten Island. The fortifications are extensive and commanding. The garrison
consists of one man!
25. Left New Utrecht, where a residence of nine days
has completely cured my blotched face. The climate is
delightful, and I have entertained a very favourable
opinion of the people.
The emigrant who was removed sick to Brooklyn, is
dead; thus by far the finest young man of our party, has
fallen the first victim to the climate: twenty-two years of
age, of a mild and cheerful disposition, and of a manly
figure, and who had gained our universal esteem. Of a
family consisting of six persons, he was the only one who
was able to endure the fatigues of clearing away the
forests. The feelings of the survivors are deeply
wounded, and the tender attachment that pledged his
early return to Scotland is blasted.
I returned to New York, and shall make some more remarks on the city. The population, at the census of 1816,
was 100,619, of which 6985 were aliens, 9774 free people of
colour, and 617 slaves. It is expected that the enumeration of 1820 will disclose a vast increase.
Literature does not stand on such a broad basis here as
in Europe. Printing, particularly of newspapers, is carried on to a considerable extent: but the style of many
communications and advertisements which appear in
them, shews that the public are not far advanced in taste.
Particular pieces are elegant. Many English publications are reprinted, frequently with the addition of some
introduction, notes, or an appendix. For the additional
matter a patent is procured, which I suppose has gener-
wm 44
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
ally the practical effect of securing an exclusive privilege
for the whole work. Some of Lord Byron's latest productions, the Memoirs of [20] the Fudge Family,10 and the
Brownie of Bodsbeck," are exhibited in the windows of the
principal book-sellers. When I left Edinburgh the last
mentioned book was not published.
The Kaleidoscope of Dr. Brewster is here fabricated in
a rude style, and in quantities so great, that it is given as
a plaything to children.12 An artist informed me that a
journeyman of his proposes to take a patent for an improvement he had made on it.
The public museum in this city is a recent collection.
An Indian mummy from the great saltpetre cave in Kentucky, a bear from Warwick mountains, about sixty miles
north of this place, which weighed 700 pounds, and an immensely large turtle, are as yet the most interesting objects.
The town hall is a splendid building. Lightness, and
an apparent want of solidity in its parts, deprive it in
some measure of the august effect essential to sublime
grandeur. The front and columns are made of white
marble of a foliated texture. The interior staircase is
both large and magnificent. It is circular, and furnished
with two elegant flights of steps that wind in contrary directions, so that the one crosses the other alternately.
Upon the whole, it displays that elegance which becomes
an edifice devoted to the administration of justice.
18 A series of metrical epistles purporting to be written in Paris by Thomas
Moore.— Ed.
11 < 1 <pjje Brownie of Blednoch," a folk-lore ballad, is the best known of William
Nicholson's poems. He was a Galloway peddler (1782-1849), who composed
verses as he travelled from town to town.— Ed.
u Sir David Brewster (1781-1868), experimental philosopher and editor of
the Edinburgh Encyclopedia, invented the kaleidoscope about 1816. Throughout these letters, Flint portrays large acquaintance with the writings of the more
noted of his fellow-countrymen.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
When I visited the Court of Sessions, the judge on the
bench appeared a plain active-looking gentleman, not
distinguished by any robes of office. The business on
hand was the taking of evidence in the case of a man who
had left a vault open during the night. A person passing
in the street happened to fall into the chasm, and raised
an action of damages, on the ground that he had received
bodily hurt. The questions put were numerous [21] and
minute, the witnesses, notwithstanding, went on in giving
lengthened details, embracing particulars not asked, and
foreign to the subject. They seemed in no respect embarrassed by the dignity of the court. The whole of the
witnesses were present, and each heard the examinations
which preceded his own.
The Washington, a new ship of war, mounting 96 guns,
is much visited at present.1* The seamen are a party of
stout healthy looking men, dressed in striped cottons, very
suitable to the present hot weather, and cleanly in the extreme. The decoration, cleanliness of the ship, and the
order that prevailed aboard, can scarcely be surpassed.
Diffident, however, as I am in fonning an opinion on
any naval affair, I cannot avoid the impression that a
vessel of such strength, and with such a crew of freemen,
must be an overmatch for any other vessel constructed and
manned as European ships of war were wont to be.
The steam-frigate is a novelty in naval architecture.
The vessel is bomb-proof, impelled by a powerful steam-
engine; is said to be furnished with apparatus for heating
ball for throwing hot water, for moving a sort of arms to
"The "Washington" was built at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1814,
being the second ship of seventy-four guns (not ninety-six, as Flint states)
launched for the United States navy. She was the flagship of Commodore
Chauncey in the Mediterranean, from 1816 to 1818. In 1843 she was broken
up in New York harbor.— Ed.
mum 46
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
i I
prevent boarding, and to carry submarine guns of one
hundred pounds shot.14
The steam-boat, Chancellor Livingstone, is the largest
and finest vessel of the kind perhaps ever built; she is 526
tons burden, length 165 feet, and breadth 50 feet. The
power of the engine is estimated as being equal to that
of eighty horses. The boiler is of copper, and weighs
twenty tons. The cabin unites something like the horizontal dimensions of a church, and a degree of elegance not
exceeded by any floating apartment. The Chancellor
sails between New York and Albany.15
[22] August 3. The theatre has some degree of resemblance in its plan to that at Edinburgh, and is attended by
a genteelly-dressed audience. To-night the celebrated
Mr. Incledbn completed his engagement.16 He was highly
applauded. The song, "Scots wha hae wi' Wallace
bled," was alike cheered by Scots and Americans.
During this season of the year, most people wear light
cotton clothes; the jacket is in many cases striped, and the
pantaloons of Indian nankin. A broad-brimmed straw-
hat is commonly used, to prevent the face from being
scorched by the rays of the sun. Draymen, and other
labouring people, wear a sort of frock or hunting shirt of
tow-cloth, that hangs down to the knees. A tall, thin,
swarthy-countenanced  man, with a   frock, surmounted
u This was the '' Fulton," the first steamship in the American navy. Robert
Fulton directed her construction, and she made her trial trip June i, 1815, a few
months after his death. Her naval service was unimportant. While employed as a receiving-ship at the Brooklyn docks she blew up, June, 1829.— Ed.
" The '' Chancellor Livingstone," built under Fulton's direction, and named
in honor of his friend and patron, was completed in 1816. She was one hundred
and twenty-five tons larger than any boat then on the Hudson. Her average
speed was eight and a half miles an hour. In 1832 she was put on the route
between Boston and Portland, being broken up at Portland two years later.— Ed.
"Benjamin Charles Incledon (1764-1826), a famous English vocalist.— Ed.
mWBMIBUMlllHllBMIIiiiiiiiiti ~r*mkl
1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
by a broad straw hat, is a figure somewhat new to the
One of the greatest inconsistencies among a people professing liberty and equality, is the degradation imposed
on people of colour. In the church of the most popular
preacher of New York, I looked in vain for a black face.
There is a congregation of blacks in town, who have a
preacher of the same colour, where (it is said) a white man
would be equally singular. Blacks are not admitted into
the public baths; and, at some places of amusement the
hand-bills have a note of this kind, N. B. "A place is provided for people of colour." I do not recollect of having
seen or heard of a black person who is in any degree
eminent in society, or who has acquired reputation in any
mechanical or mercantile business. This depression
appears to be produced partly by the aversion with which
the white face looks on the black one, and partly by bad
education and habits. Something more than mere emancipation is required, a moral change, [23] affecting both
the black and the white, must take place, before the condition of the negro can be completely ameliorated.
The churches of New York are fifty-three in number,
and are occupied by seventeen religious sectaries. None
of these are peculiarly privileged by law, and none denied
the common protection of citizens.
August 4. Now when about to leave New York, I feel
a pleasure in stating my conviction of the civilization and
moral honesty of the people. In the former respect, they
may exult in any comparison with the mass.of many
European cities. And in regard to the latter, I have heard
of no recent instance of house-breaking or riot. In hot
weather, people leave their windows open during the night,
and street doors are seldom closed during the whole of the
\l m 48
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
evening; the inhabitants not thinking their hats and umbrellas in much danger. Such traits are perfectly unequivocal.
Journey from New York to Philadelphia — Remarks on
the country passed through — Notices of companions —
Their conversation by the way — Observations on Philadelphia — Institutions — Manufactures — People.
Philadelphia, December 19, 1818.
This letter will give you the details of my journey from
New York to Philadelphia, and some particulars with regard to the latter city.17
[24] August 5. Got aboard of the Olive-Branch steamboat for New Brunswick. This is a large vessel, wrought
by an engine of forty-five horses' power. She may at once
be pronounced elegant and commodious. The passengers dine on board.
In a company so large, the traveller has it in his power
to select the person with whom he would enter into conversation. The individual I fell in with, on this occasion,
was a mercantile gentleman from England. He seemed
to me a man of a good disposition, and one who possessed
considerable knowledge of the principal towns, and of the
different ways of transacting business in the United States.
The American character, according to his report, is by no
means a good one. He expressed himself as completely
tired of the country, and proposed returning to England.
He told me that he had met with considerable losses by
villanous insolvencies.    His account, instead of convin-
11 The author's route from New York to Philadelphia was by boat to New
Brunswick, thence by stage to Trenton on the Delaware, where boat was taken
for Philadelphia. Stages, by this time, had practically ceased running between
New York and Philadelphia.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
cing me that the Americans were sinners above all others,
just shewed me that he was a good-natured, credulous
man, and that he had fallen into the hands of several artful rogues; a class, it would seem, not wanting in America.
The land on both sides of the strait, between Staten
Island and the main land, is light and sandy, in some spots
almost sterile. People in boats are busy with long wooden
tongs, resembling forceps, taking up clams from the bottom, in six or seven feet of water.
The land on both margins of the Raritan is very low and
flat, covered with a rank growth of reeds. These are cut
for the cattle, and form a coarse but a very bulky crop.
The swamps, being liable to inundation, are not made to
yield any other herbage than their spontaneous produce.
[25] About four miles below New Brunswick, the red
sandstone is met with. It is the first rock toward the coast,
the interval being high alluvial land, containing vegetables
and the bones of marine animals of tribes still existing;
facts that establish without a doubt that the ocean has
From New Brunswick to Trenton, travellers are conveyed by four-horse coaches. Six of these wait the arrival of
the steam-boat. In one of these I took my seat, and found
that only two gentlemen were to be along with me; one of
them an American who had travelled in Britain, and the
other an Englishman, who had just been out on an extensive tour in the United States. Both appear men of talent
and education; the one a Virginian lawyer, and the other a
person well acquainted with the state of science and manufacture in his own country; they are equally devoted to
the representative form of government. Their only difference of opinion arose from drawing a comparison between
the national characters of the two countries.    The Ameri-
# 5°
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
can claimed the superiority, in tolo, while the Englishman
asserted the higher excellence of the literary, the scientific,
and the mechanical attainments of Britain; but, at the
same time admitted, with apparent candour, the superior
dexterity of Americans in traffic, and that, taken in a body,
they are without some of the ruder qualities of John Bull.
Thus, in one day, I have heard two intelligent Englishmen
discuss the character of the American people, and each
draw opposite conclusions: a fact, which proves how
cautious we ought to be in forming an estimate of a community; as we are in continual danger of judging of the
great stock from the small, and it may happen that an
unfair sample may come within the narrow limits of a single person's observation.
[26] The land between New Brunswick and Princeton
is chiefly of a poor sand. The road is composed of the
same material, with plank bridges over ravines, where most
of the streams are now dried up. The woods, to a Briton,
seem more remarkable for their height, than for the
diameter of the trees. The stems, even by the road side,
where many are felled, stand closely together, and their
tops form a continued canopy, that sheds a gloom over the
surface of the ground. When proximity to the two greatest cities in the Union is considered, it seems surprising that
the arm of man has effected so little. The farms by the
road side are neither numerous, nor are the cleared patches
large. The passenger has no way of knowing how the
country is peopled or improved beyond the first clearing;
and where no opening occurs, he cannot see the light more
than about 200 yards into the woods. Rail fences, however, and cattle amongst the trees, indicate that the whole
is appropriated.
The cows are small, and of little value; and the few 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
sheep which I have seen, are long-legged and thin, perhaps the worst breed in existence.
Princeton College is a large brick house, situated in a
grass field. The edifice has a retired, if not a gloomy
appearance. It was here that Dr. Wotherspoon,18 the
author of the 'i Characteristics of Scottish Clergy,'' found
an asylum, and the means of prosecuting useful labours.
By the way side stands a row of very large weeping willows, that are highly ornamental to this small town. Then-
long slender twigs hang down almost perpendicularly, and
wave with every wind, displaying, as it were, a sort of
vegetable drapery.
From Princeton onward, the land is much better than
that observed to the north, and the [27] surface is finely
diversified, but dusk prevented me from seeing a part
of the country next to Trenton.
The arrival of six four-horse coaches produced considerable stir in the Inn at Trenton. No sooner had the
passengers entered, than a pile of trunks and portmanteaus
was reared in the bar-room, that would make a good
figure in the warehouse of a wholesale merchant. The
party at supper was very large. There being three lines
of conveyance between New York and Philadelphia, the
aggregate of the intercourse must be great. Betwixt New
Brunswick and this place, a distance of twenty-five miles,
18 James Witherspoon, born in Haddingtonshore, Scotland, in 1722, was a descendant of John Knox. Graduating from Edinburgh University, and receiving ordination as a Presbyterian minister, in 1768 he accepted an invitation to
become president of Princeton College, and brought with him a considerable
addition to the college library. From the first he took an active part in the Revolutionary War; as member of the provincial assembly, he assisted in overthrowing the royal governor; as member of the continental congress he signed
the Declaration of Independence, and aided in initiating several important legislative measures. After the close of the war, he retired to his farm near Princeton, dying there in September, 1794.— Ed. 52
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
\% I
T \
we have not seen a single pedestrian.   The heat of the
weather may in some measure account for this.
Trenton is beautifully situated at the head of the tide
water of the river Delaware. The orchards are luxuriant,
and the pasture grounds richer than any that I have
hitherto seen in the country.
August 6. Trenton is celebrated by one of the most
dexterous feats of generalship on record. I shall take the
liberty of stating some particulars of the affair. On the
ist of January, 1777, the term of enlistment amongst the
American troops expired, and that day brought on a dissolution of the best part of the army. General Howe,
aware of the occurrence, pressed forward on the 2d, with
an army vastly superior. The head of their column
arrived at Trenton about four o'clock, and attempted to
cross Sanpink creek, which runs through the town, but
finding the fords guarded, halted and kindled their fires.
The American army was drawn up on the other side of the
creek. In this situation the latter remained till dark, cannonading the enemy, and receiving the fire of their field
[28] Washington having discovered that the enemy designed to surround his little army, ordered the baggage to
be removed after dark. At twelve o'clock, having renewed his fires, he decamped with his army, unperceived
by the enemy, and marched against Princeton by a circuitous route, where he arrived by the rising of the sun
defeated the troops there, and captured their stores.18
The Delaware is a delightful river, with many magnificent windings. The convex shore of one extensive
curve, is so imposing, that it is called Point-no-Point, an
apparent cape being always in sight, but which recedes as
18 Washington's Letters, vol. ii, page 4, Lond. 1795.— Flint. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from' America
the observer advances. The grounds adjacent to the
river are flat, and covered with a rich verdure; but the
beach is of a height sufficient to prevent a person from
seeing far inland from the river. Many large farm houses
are to be seen, with extensive orchards, and beautiful
weeping willows adjoining. The last, form large spreading masses without any erect or principal top, the main
or leading branches rear themselves upwards, after
acquiring a considerable degree of strength; and the shoots
immediately younger, are elegantly bent, as if in the act
of getting erect; while the youngest of all are completely
pendulous.    The whole is singularly picturesque.
On approaching Philadelphia, I felt disappointed in
seeing the shipping so very inferior to that at New York;
and the houses fronting the river are old and irregularly
placed, so that the idea of a port declining in trade immediately occurred.
Philadelphia is situated between the rivers Delaware
[29] and Schuylkill. The streets are laid off agreeably
to the cardinal points, and cross one another at right
angles, the principal ones running in the east and west
direction, crossing the neck of land between the two rivers.
The streets, as at New York, are lined with trees; they
are cleaner kept, and are wider, and more regular, so that
gaseous exhalations are much less felt in them than in the
other city. Most of the houses are of brick, and many of
them have the doors and windows surrounded by white
marble.   Several public edifices are built of that material.
August 7. The general aspect of the city is more pleasant, and a freer circulation of air is felt than in New York;
of course the natural inference is, that Philadelphia must
be the more salubrious of the two. Dr. Mease, of the
American Philosophical Society, has deduced the same
i 54
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
conclusion from the bills of mortality.30 The daily average of deaths being 5^ in this place, and 6^ at New
York. At the time this computation was made, the population of Philadelphia was the greater of the two, consequently something more is to be allowed in favour of the
relative healthfulness of Philadelphia.
The doctor has also compared the mortalities of Philadelphia and Liverpool, and it appears that the deaths in
the former city are, to those in the latter, as 33 to 50. The
comparison was made between the number of deaths in
1810 for Philadelphia, and on another year for Liverpool.
This must have been occasioned from a want of data applying to the same year in both places. My very short
acquaintance with the doctor gives me the utmost confidence in his candour, and in the accuracy of his calculations.
[30] It is not to be kept out of view, that the mortality
in Philadelphia is considerably greater in summer than in
winter, the deaths in August, for example, may be fairly
stated at twice the number in December. This fact, not
to mention the epidemical diseases with which Philadelphia is sometimes visited, must give a decided preference
to Liverpool.
The religious sects of Philadelphia are eighteen in number; they have thirty-four places of worship. The whole
may be exhibited thus: Swedish, three churches; Quakers, three; Free Quakers, one; Episcopal, three; Baptist,
20 John Mease, a wealthy and philanthropic Philadelphian, was born in 1771.
Although a graduate of the Medical College of the University of Pennsylvania,
he did not practice regularly, but devoted himself to literary and scientific pursuits. In association with David Rittenhouse and other members of the Philosophical Society, he was engaged in numerous undertakings for the betterment
of the city. His Picture of Philadelphia, published in 1811, was for many years
the best travellers' guide thereof.— Ed.
#1 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
one; Presbyterian, two; Catholic, four; German Lutheran,
two; German Calvinist, two; Associate Reformed Church,
one; Moravians, one; Associate Church, (Antiburghers,)
one; Presbyterian Covenanters, one; Methodists, four,
(two for whites and two for blacks;) Universalists, one;
Unitarians, one; Independents, one; Jewish Synagogues,
There are four state law courts in the city; four Banks,
and eleven Insurance offices.
The other institutions would be too tedious to enumerate separately, probably the following includes most of
them. Thirteen charitable institutions, eight free school
societies, three patriotic societies, about twenty mutual
benefit societies, five associations for the relief of foreigners
and their descendants, seven literary institutions, three
libraries, the American Philosophical Society,'1 the Society
of Artists, the Pennsylvanian Academy of Fine Arts, and
a museum of natural history.2*
21 The American Philosophical Society, the oldest scientific association in
America, was organized by Franklin in 1743. In 1769 it was combined with the
American Society for Promoting Useful Knowledge, and from that date (except
for a few years during the Revolutionary War) has never failed to meet regularly. Among its presidents may be noted Franklin, Jefferson, Rittenhouse,
and Caspar Wistar.
The Society of Artists, formed in 181 o, to establish a school of drawing and
hold an annual exhibition of foreign and American paintings, was dissolved soon
after Flint's visit to Philadelphia.
The Academy of Fine Arts was organized in 1805, largely through the efforts
of Charles Wilson Peale. The following year a building was occupied, and
the first exhibition opened in 1811, in conjunction with the Society of Artists.
The Academy has ceased to hold exhibitions, but maintains a good permanent
The Museum, opened by Peale at his residence in 1784, contained for the
most part portraits of Revolutionary heroes painted by himself. When transferred to Independence Hall (1802), it included a large collection of birds,
insects, and the implements of primitive men. The Philadelphia Museum Company acquired it in 1821; but later the collection was sold and dispersed.— Ed.
n Dr. Mease's Picture of Philadelphia.— Flint. w
f i
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
The American Philosophical Society meets frequently,
and is well attended. When I visited the institution,
three of the foreign ministers were [31] present. Professor Cooper23 read very interesting papers on the bilious
fever, on a new mordant to be used in dyeing, and on a
new test for detecting arsenic where administered as a
poison. There is still zeal and talent in the association once distinguished by a Franklin and a Ritten-
The Franklean library contains about 24,000 volumes;
almost every scientific work of merit may be seen. Strangers are allowed to read and even to write in the great hall.
On leaving a small deposit they may carry books out of
the library. The building belongs to the institution, and
has a herculean bust of the founder over the entrance;
and the following lines, by Alexander Wilson2S the ornithologist, hang in a frame in the great room.
23 Thomas Cooper, born in London in 1759, was eminent both as a lawyer and
a scientist. Educated at Oxford, he practiced law, first in England, and after
1795 in Northumberland, Pennsylvania. Upon a visit to France (about 1792),
he studied chemistry, and continued his researches in that science after coming
to America. Upon being removed, for arbitrary conduct, from a judgeship
(1811), he was appointed professor of chemistry at Dickinson College, later at
the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1820 became president of the college of
South Carolina. At the time of his death (1840) he was engaged in revising
the statutes of the latter state, and in writing pamphlets in favor of state
rights.— Ed.
u For a brief biography of David Rittenhouse, see A. Michaux's Travels,
volume iii of our series, note 75.— Ed.
** Alexander Wilson was for many years a weaver and poet in Paisley, Scotland. Trouble breaking out between the weavers and masters, he emigrated
to Philadelphia in 1794, becoming in turn weaver, school-teacher, and peddler.
In 1802 the scientist John Bartram became interested in Wilson's talents, and
gave systematic direction to his natural taste for ornithology, to which he devoted the remainder of his life. He published his first volume of American
Ornithology in 1808, and had nearly completed nine volumes before his death,
in 1813.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
" Ye who delight through learning's paths to roam,
Who deign to enter this devoted dome;
By silent awe and contemplation led,
Survey these wonders of the illustrious dead!
The lights of every age — of every clime,
The fruits of science, and the spoils of time,
Stand here arranged, obedient to your nod;
Here feast with sages, and give thanks to God.
Next thanks to him; that venerable sage,
His country's boast,— the glory of the age!
Immortal Franklin, whose unwearied mind,
Still sought out every good for all mankind;
Search'd every science, studious still to know,
To make men virtuous, and to keep them so.—
Living, he reared with generous friends this scene;
And dead, still stands without to welcome in."
The Atheneum is another excellent institution.28 Here
a great number of American and foreign newspapers are
read, and there is also a collection of the reviews, periodical publications, and scientific journals, of Britain and
America.   Strangers are introduced by the subscribers.
The United British Emigrant Society meets frequently,
and its business in conducted with zeal [32] and ability.
A book is kept open, in which are inserted notices of
labourers, &c. &c. wanted, with the names and residences
of the persons to whom they are to apply. On looking
over this record, I observed that many of the situations
offered were in the western country. Although the members of this society merit the utmost credit for their benevolent exertions, the most cautious strangers will always
hesitate to undertake long journies, incurring a great expense, the risk of meeting only with a trifling employment,
and that of cheapening their labour by the sacrifices which
" A public reading-room called the Atheneum was established by private subscription in 1814. Ten years later it contained 3,300 volumes, including prominent foreign and American reviews. Rooms were rented from the American
Philosophical Society until 1847, when the Atheneum building was erected.— Ed.
§ 58
Early Western Travels
they make. Artifices of this kind are not to be imputed
to the society.
The museum contains a considerable collection of objects; and among the rest a skeleton of an entire mammoth. Around the upper part of the wall are arranged
the portraits of several hundreds of the personages who
have distinguished themselves in the revolution, or in the
legislature of America. The design is praiseworthy, but
the execution of the pictures is bad.
The state prison does honour to the jurisprudence of the
country. The culprit is not made a burden on the community, but is put to work, and the first of his earnings
applied to his support, a part of the remainder is given to
him at his dismissal; by this means he is not under the
necessity of resorting immediately to robbery or theft.
Habits of industry are acquired, and trades learned, by
persons who previously were pests to society. The strict
order, and even silence, that is maintained in the establishment, is conceived to be the peculiarity that has produced the effects that distinguish it above every institution
of the kind. The provisions given to the inmates are
said to be plentiful and good, though furnished at the low
rate of [33] fourteen cents, or about seven-pence-halfpenny English, per day.
Philadelphia does not abound in manufacturing establishments. The predominance of British goods has shut
up many workshops that were employed during the late
war. Paper is manufactured in great quantities in Pennsylvania. Founderies for coarse cast iron articles are
numerous. In town there are two manufactories of lead
shot. Printing is carried on to a considerable extent,
and executed in a superb style. It is said that one of the
late Edinburgh novels was here set up in types in one
■— 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
day. The quarto edition of Joel Barlow's Columbiad is
stn unrivalled specimen of printing. The types were cast
by Messrs. Binnie and Ronaldsons, who, by their skill
and individual exertions, have saved the United States
from importing these essential literary implements. Mr.
Melish's sr geographical establishment, is another prominent concern. He is continually embodying the most
recent government surveys of the interior, into the general
maps of the country. At Lehigh Falls, on the Schuylkill,
there is a mill for cutting brads, which produces no less
than two hundred in a minute. Philadelphia is in various
respects well adapted to manufacture; if the facilities
which it presents for its advancement are neglected, the
city must decline, as the trade of New York and Baltimore
is making rapid progress. The new road from the latter
city to the Ohio,28 and the extension of carriage, by steam
boats, through the Mississippi and the Ohio, are all circumstances which tend to supersede Philadelphia as a
market and as a thoroughfare.
At present, vast quantities of English goods are selling
by auction in the ports of the United States. New York
is the chief mart in this way. Merchants from the country, attend sometimes these [34] sales for many days, and
even for weeks together. Public sales, and the present
low prices, are very injurious to the merchants and manufacturers of England.
Probably the market of Philadelphia displays the greatest quantity of fruits and vegetables in the world. Boat
loads are brought by the Delaware, and numerous waggons come loaded from the interior.   Peaches, apples,
" For a sketch of John Melish, see Bradbury's Travels, volume v of our series,
note 129.— Ed.
" For a brief description of the National Road, see Harris's Journal, volume
iii of our series, note 45.— Ed.
; Is
— 6o
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
A f
pears, melons, cucumbers, pine apples, sweet potatoes,
onions, &c. are plentiful beyond example.
The cleanliness and the civil address of persons who
vend provisions in the market, are truly gratifying: if a
speck is to be seen on the white apron of the butcher, it
may be inferred that it came there on the same morning.
Girls arrive on horseback, or driving light waggons, to sell
vegetables, or the produce of the dairy. Many of these
females, I am told, are the daughters of farmers who are
in good circumstances. Here are none of the lazzaroni
hucksters of fruit and sweet-meats, that form such a
deplorable spectacle in the finest cities of Britain; nor of
the miserables who rise earlier than the sun, to pick from
amongst the ashes, the charred offal of their neighbour's
September 3. To-day I have seen a man sprawling on
the ground in a state of intoxication; he is a native of Ireland. This is the first instance of the kind which I have
seen in America. From this incident, I do not mean to
represent that the people here do not drink spirituous
liquors. The truth is, that many drink of them almost
the moment after they get out of bed, and also at frequent intervals during the day; but though this fact has
been noticed, the first conclusion is nevertheless true,
that excessive drinking is rare.
[37] The saw for cross-cutting timber for fuel, is a tool
which, for superior expedition, recommends itself to
joiners and others. The following figure is a representation of it.
AB is the blade, about thirty inches long, and about two
inches broad. It is very thin, and its teeth are very
slightly bent to the right and left, so that it makes a narrow cut, through which the slender blade moves with little
I 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
friction,— hence its facilities. The crooked stick ECA is
the handle, FDB is another crooked stick, into which the
blade is fixed at B. The wooden bar CD serves for fulcra,
over which the blade is stretched by twisting the small
rope EF, by means of the peg GH.
The sawing of fire-wood, and many other sorts of hard
labour, are chiefly performed by black people. Happily,
very few of these are now slaves in Pennsylvania. Free
blacks, it is understood, have no difficulty in earning the
means of subsistence, but the circumstance of their being
despised and degraded, has had bad effects on their character. Even the Quakers, who have so honourably promoted negro emancipation, allot a separate part of the
church to people of colour. In the state prison, too, they
are separated from whites. These odious distinctions
should be abolished in a free country.
Negroes are stigmatized as an inferior race; indolent,
dishonest, and vindictive in the extreme. [38] There can
be no doubt that, in many instances, these characteristics
are too just, but it cannot be otherwise, while moral culture is, in a great measure, withheld from them, while they
are excluded from the society of the wise and the good,
and while the hope of applause gives no stimulus to the
coloured man.   Moral or immoral, he is a negro.   This,
— m
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
?• .■• ■■
of itself, is enough to keep him down. If Africans were
placed on a similar footing, and with the same opportunities, as their white neighbours, and if they still kept behind,
we might then begin to suspect a radical defect in their
nature. But, as they are, it cannot be pretended that the
experiment has been made.
For some time past, the democratic party have been
nominating candidates for their general support in the ensuing election. No doubt is entertained of a democratic
preponderance in the next session of Congress. The Federalist cabal is now disconcerted in this part of the Union.
The mercenary avarice that would barter the independence of America for English goods, was never less formidable than now.
Here, as at New York, boarding houses are to be found,
varying from the simplest accommodations, to elegance
and luxury. The person who lives in a house where a
high price is paid for board, is separated from the poorer
class, and his acquaintances and associates are people in
affluent circumstances and polished education; he is as
free in the choice of his society as he possibly can be.
Without doors, however, persons of lesser note are not
treated with hauteur, and in transacting business the utmost affability prevails.
The dress worn in temperate weather is the same as in
Britain, with this difference only, that pantaloons [39] are
almost universal: the shorter small-clothes are used only
by Quakers. On Sundays it would be difficult to discriminate betwixt the hired girl and the daughter in a genteel
family, were drapery the sole criterion. Attentive observation of the people on the streets, would convince any one
of the general diffusion of comfort and competence.
The symptoms of republican equality are visible in all 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
the members of the community. I have seen several curious instances of this, which would surprise those accustomed only to the manners of the old world. For example, the Mayor is a respectable-looking, plainly dressed
gentleman, and apparently a penetrating and efficient
police magistrate. On a late occasion the court was
crowded, and the weather hot; he desired a person in
attendance to bring cold water. It was brought in a
brown jug, not accompanied with a glass. A person
within the railing (probably a lawyer or clerk, more
thirsty than his honour) intercepted the vessel, drank,
and then handed it to the Judge.
On the Sabbath, we do not witness all the stillness and
solemnity that usually characterize a presbyterian town.
On the morning of that day, I have seen loaded waggons
start in the market street, for the westward. A grocer,
opposite to the house where I board, has two shops, one
of them he keeps open for the sale of liquor, segars, &c.
In a late newspaper, a complaint appeared against bringing
cattle into the street for sale on Sunday afternoon. If this
complaint was founded on truth, it is at least evident that
it was addressed to citizens who, it was believed, would
suppress the evil. I am inclined to think that a very
great proportion of the people spend the day in the duties
of [40] religion; but some here, as in other places, employ
it purely as a day of rest; some as a day of amusement;
and others in visiting friends, or other convivial meetings.
On a Sunday afternoon I have heard many reports of guns,
in the neighbouring woods or swamps. You will consider
all this as a foul blot on the fair character of the City of
Brethren; but I trust that your liberality will not impute
to the jurisprudence of America, pre-existing customs,
that, at every stage of the settlement, must have been im-
wmm in
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
ported from England; even from a country which pays
tithes, for the support of a priesthood.
Every day numbers of European emigrants are to be
seen in the streets. The ingress is greater than at any
former time. I have never heard of another feeling than
good wishes to them. For my own part, I have met with
several receptions kinder than I ever could have anticipated; and have become acquainted with a number of
excellent citizens, whose approbation will always be sufficient to convey a high gratification to my mind.
[41] LETTER IV29
Journey from Philadelphia to Pittsburg—Lancaster—
Elizabeth Town—The River Susquehana—Harrisburg
—Carlisle—Chambersburg—Cove Mountain—Mac-
connel's Town—Sidelong-hill—The river Juniata—
Bedford—The Allegany Ridge—Stoystown—Laurel-
hill—Lauchlinstown—Chesnut Ridge—Greensburg—
Adamsburg—Pittsburg—Interspersed remarks on the
Country, Taverns, &c.—Notices of Emigrants, and
occurrences by the way.
Pittsburg, 2%th September.
The contents of this will be composed of notes taken on
my journey from Philadelphia to Pittsburg.80
29 For notes on the following places mentioned in tViig chapter, see Post's
Journals, volume i of our series: Harrisburg, note 73; Carlisle, note 75; Shippens-
burg, note 76; Loudon, note 78; Bedford, note 81. F. A. Michaux's Travels,
volume iii of our series: Greensburg, note 16. Cuming's Tour, volume iv of our
series: Elizabethtown, note 7; Middletown, note 9; Chambersburg, note 16;
Bloody Run, note 18.— Ed.
50 Flint's route to Pittsburg was by way of the new Lancaster pike — the first
macadamized American road — and onward over the central Pennsylvania route
through Bedford, Ligonier, and Greensburg. Much ado was made over the
opening of the Cumberland Road across the Alleghenies; but until the building
of the Baltimore and Ohio Railway to Cumberland, Maryland, in 1845, the
central Pennsylvania route seems to have been the popular one from Washing- 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
On the morning of the 20th of September, I went to the
Coach-Office in Philadelphia to take my seat. Such is
the number of travellers that I found it necessary to take
out a ticket two days previously.
The mail-coach is a large clumsy vehicle, carrying
twelve passengers. It is greatly encumbered by large
bags, which are enormously swollen by the bulk of newspapers. As a substitute for glass windows, a large roll of
leather is let down on each side in bad weather.
During the greater part of the day our route was through
a part of the country of a clayey soil, moderately fertile,
and of a flat insipid surface. Late in the afternoon, we
passed some land of a finer mould, and more elegant
structure,- with fruit trees bending under their load. The
Indian [42] corn is nearly ripe, and is a great crop this
year. The stalks are generally about eight feet high. The
people have been picking the leaves off this sort of crop,
and setting them up between the rows in conical bunches,
to be preserved as winter food for the cattle.
We passed several family waggons moving westward.
The young and the strong walking, the aged and infants
riding. Waggons for removing families, and those fo
carrying goods to Pittsburg, have a canvass cover, stretched
over hoops that pass from one side of the waggon to the
other, in the form of an arch. The front is left open, to
give the passengers within the vehicle the benefit of a free
circulation of cool air.
Lancaster is a large town, well known for the manufac-
ton and Philadelphia to Pittsburg. John Melish's map in Morris Birkbeck,
Utters from Illinois (Philadelphia, 1818), does not give the Cumberland Road,
.although it outlines the old Northwestern turnpike from Cumberland to Parkers-
burg, West Virginia. Almost all English travelers passed westward over the
Pennsylvania Road, which was two hundred and ninety-four miles in length,
according to Melish, Traveller's Directory, p. 69.— Ed. 66
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
ture of rifle-guns. We were too late in the evening for
having a distinct sight of the place, or of the country
towards Elizabeth Town, which is much commended.
September 21. The coach stopped at Elizabeth Town,
last night, for three hours, and started again before three
o'clock. We were near Middletown (eight miles on our
way) before the light disclosed to our eyes a pleasant and
fertile country.
It was near Middletown that we got the first peep of
the river Susquehana, which is here about a mile in breadth.
The trees on the east bank, confining the view to the right
and left, produced an illusory effect, almost imposing on
the mind a lake instead of the river. The highly transparent state of the air, and the placid surface of the water,
united in producing a most distinct reflexion of the bold
banks on the opposite side. Cliffs, partially concealed
by a luxuriant growth of trees, sprung from the detritus
below, and by smaller [43] ones rooted in the rifted rocks.
Over these a rising back ground is laid out in cultivated
fields. The eye is not soon tired of looking on a scene so
richly furnished, and so gay.
Harrisburg, the seat of legislature of Pennsylvania, is a
small town which stands on a low bottom by the river;
a pleasant, but apparently an unhealthy situation. Opposite to the town is a small island in the river, connected
with the eastern and western shores by very long wooden
bridges. The waters of the Susquehana are limpid, but
shallow at this place, and ill adapted to navigation, except in times of flood.
The country immediately west of the Susquehana is
truly delightful. The soil, whether occupied by the natural woods, orchards, or crops, is covered with a profuse
vegetation; and the superficial aspect altogether agree- m
1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America 67
able. The best sort of houses are of limestone; they shew
nothing of fine taste or neat workmanship, but are far
superior in durability and appearance to the wooden erections so common here. Barns are much larger, and frequently neater than the adjoining dwellings.
Towards Carlisle, the road passes through lands inferior
to the lower country, seen in the forenoon. The surface
of limestone rocks, and large detached blocks of the same
mineral, interrupt the plough in the field, and the wheeled
carriage on the road.
Carlisle, though in a newly settled country, has an appearance somewhat antiquated. With so much grass
growing in the streets, a suspicion arises that there is not
much traffic here.
Shippingsburg is a place more recently founded than
the last, but has, notwithstanding, contracted something
like the rust of time. Wooden [44] erections soon acquire
a weather-beaten appearance. The subsidence of log
houses discloses chinks, shewing that they are well ventilated in summer, but not the most comfortable lodgments for the winter.
At Chambersburg the coach halted during the night.
The rough roads already surmounted, and the report of
worse still before us, determined two of the passengers,
besides myself, to walk, as an easier mode of travelling
over the mountains. Chambersburg is 143 miles from
Philadelphia, and 155 from Pittsburg; and lies in the intersection of the roads from York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. Several branches of what has been very properly called the current of emigration, being here united,
strangers from the eastern country, and from Europe, are
passing in an unceasing train. An intelligent gentleman,
at this place, informed me, that this stream of emigration
m Yg
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
has flowed more copiously this year, than at any former
period; and that the people now moving westward, are
ten times more numerous than they were, ten years ago.
His computation is founded on the comparative amount
of the stage-coach business, and on careful observation.
This astonishing statement is, in some degree, countenanced by a late notice in a New York newspaper, that
stated the number of emigrants which arrived in that port
during the week, ending the 31st of August last, to be 2050.
The gentleman alluded to, says, that shades of character,
sensibly different from one another, are forming in the
western States. He represents the Kentuckians to be a
high-toned people, who frequently announce their country, as if afraid of being mistaken for inhabitants of Ohio
State; and the Ohians, as having less pride of country,
being less assuming in their [45] demeanour, but not less
agreeable in conversation, nor less punctual in business
transactions. Were it not for the intelligence of my penetrating informant, and for his great intercourse with travellers, I would certainly not have remarked the supposed
distinction of these provincial characters. If the difference really exists, it will be difficult to assign any moral
cause that is adequate; unless it be the keeping slaves in
Kentucky, a species of stock not permitted by the constitution of Ohio.
September 22. We found a waggoner who agreed to
carry our travelling necessaries to Pittsburg. For my
portmanteau, weighing about fourteen pounds, he charged
three dollars, alleging the trouble that attends putting
small articles within doors every night. This is an instance
of one man measuring his demand by the urgent situation
of another. The jolting that waggons undergo in this
rugged country, render it indispensable that baggage be
packed with the utmost care. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
The two young gentlemen with whom I started, are
Americans, good walkers, and cheerful companions.
One mile to the north of Chambersburg the road ascends
a steep hill of slate clay, the first stratified substance that
I have seen overlaying the limestone. The soil on the
summit is so excessively poor, that I am surprised to see
such ground cultivated in this country.
Several taverns by the road are log-houses constructed
by laying squared trees horizontally, in a quadrangular
position, in a way similar to that in which house-joiners
pile up boards to be dried. As the erection advances, the
last laid or uppermost log is notched on the upper side,
near both ends, for the reception of the next cross pieces.
[46] The interstices are filled up with lime or clay, and the
roofs are of shingles, or thin boards. Frame houses consist of erect posts, set in sills or horizontal foundation
beams. Over the tops of the posts other horizontal pieces
are laid, forming the summit of the wall. The outside
of the posts are covered over with thin boards, ranged horizontally, the upper one uniformly overlaying the edge of
that immediately under it. The inside is most commonly
lined with lathing and plaster, but the last piece of finery
is frequently dispensed with.
Near Baker's tavern, six miles from Chambersburg,
the waggon wheels have uncovered a fine slate clay, fit to
be used as slate pencils. The same kind of substance is
to be seen in the adjoining stream.
Around Campbell's Town, seven miles from Chambersburg, the land is bleak, and apparently poor; to the northwest an extended high ridge exposes to view a large tract
of romantic wood scenery.
At thirteen miles from Chambersburg is Loudon, a few
houses only, two of them taverns, situated at the foot of
the ridge just mentioned, which is called the Cove Moun- 7°
Early Western Travels
tain. A new road is formed over it. The ascent is winding and gradual, so that seven miles are occupied in surmounting the formidable barrier. The darkness of the
night, and the great quantity of timber on both sides,
rendered this part of our journey very gloomy. Not a
sound was to be heard but that of the Catadid, a large
green insect, whose note resembles its name, as nearly as
it can any articulate sound. Near the top of the hill
stands a miserable log tavern filled with movers, a name for
settlers removing to the western country. At the summit,
we were accosted in the Irish accent. The individual
[47] told us that he was so much exhausted, that he could
not proceed farther, and that he had laid himself down
among the trees.31
At Macconnel's Town, we knocked at the door of a
tavern, heard a noise within, which convinced us that the
people were astir, but not willing to hear us. On making
louder applications, the landlord saluted us, "Who's
there?" With some reluctance he let us in, grumbling at
the lateness of our arrival, it being ten minutes past ten
o'clock. He affected to be unwilling to let us have supper;
but while he was refusing, a female commenced cooking
for us.
September 23. From beds which we last night saw on
the floor of the bar-room, a numerous group of Swiss emigrants had arisen. One of them, an old man with a long
beard, has a truly patriarchal appearance. The females
wear hats, and are of a hardy and masculine form.
About a mile from Macconnel's Town, is the foot of
another steep ridge; a new road over it is nearly finished.
Here we met with a foot traveller, who told us that he had
31 The evening was warm, and, (not to exaggerate the difficulty of removing
him to the next town,) we judged that he was in no danger.— Flint. 18T8-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
settled in Illinois, by the Wabash, about fifty miles above
Vincennes. The ground, he said, " is as good as ever man
set foot on."82 He had not heard of Mr. Birkbeck's settlement: this, together with his appearance, convinced us
that he is a hunter of the woods. He was on his way to
remove his family from New York state, a journey of
1400 miles.
Called at Noble's tavern for breakfast. The hostess
could not accommodate us with it. She was in great
bustle, having thirty highway labourers [48] at board, had
no bread baked, and politely expressed her regret at being
so circumstanced, but assured us, that, by going half a
mile forward to the next tavern, we would be attended to.
Mr. Noble is a member of the Pennsylvania Senate; the
frank and obliging disposition of bis wife demands my
At the next tavern the prediction of a breakfast was
verified: it was largely furnished, but not with the greatest
The forenoon was hot, something like the greatest heat
I have felt in Scotland. The mornings and evenings were
agreeably cool, the air usually still, and the sky highly
Sidelong-hill is a steep ascent. The waggon path is
worn into a deep rut or ravine, so that carriages cannot
pass one another in some parts of it. The first waggoner
that gets into the track, blows a horn, to warn others
against meeting him in the narrow pass. The waggoners
are understood to be as friendly toward one another
as seamen are, and that cases are not wanting, where.
33 This was the well-known settlement established in 1818 by the English
philanthropists Morris Birkbeck and George Flower, at Wanborough and
Albion, in southeastern Illinois, within the present Edwards County. For a
full account of these settlements, see volume x of our series.— Ed.
dia 72
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
one has waited several days, assisting another to refit his
On Sidelong-hill we came up with a singular party of
travellers,—a man with his wife and ten children. The
eldest of the progeny had the youngest tied on his back;
and the father pushed a wheelbarrow, containing the
moveables of the family. They were removing from New
Jersey to the State of Ohio, a land journey of 340 miles
to Pittsburg. Abrupt edges of rocks, higher than the
wheel, occasionally interrupt the passage. Their humble
carriage must be lifted over these. A little farther onward
we passed a young woman, carrying a sucking child in her
arms, and leading a very little one by the hand. It is
impossible to take particular notice [49] of all the travellers
on the way. We could scarcely look before or behind,
without seeing some of them. The Canterbury pilgrims
were not so diversified nor so interesting as these.
Crossed the river Juniata by a wooden bridge, supported
by two strong chains, hung in the manner of a slack rope,
over the tops of posts, (one at each end,) about twenty feet
higher than the road. The curve formed by the chain
passes low enough to come under, and support several of
the cross beams under the middle of the bridge. Other
parts of the bridge are supported by perpendicular ties,
that pass, from the roadway upward, to the chains. The
Juniata runs here in a deep chasm, between cliffs of slate
clay; the bridge has consequently a magical effect. The
river is shallow, but at other seasons of the year is navigable. The land is poor and parched, and is formed of
steep, irregular knolls.
Passed Bloody Run, a town of a very few houses, but
with two taverns. A romantic site in a low valley of the
Juniata.    The declining light of the evening had softened I:
1818-1820]       Flint's Letters from America
the outline of the timber on the hills beyond the river, so
that the scene brought to my recollection the heaths of a
well known land.
Stopped for the night in a tolerably good tavern, two
miles from Bloody Run. The bar-room is nearly filled
with people. On our being shewn to a more retired apartment, I could see one person make a wry face, and then
smile to his acquaintance. It would seem that our being
separated from the large party, was not attended by the
most pleasant sensations.
September 24. Last night we slept in a large room containing five beds. It was proposed that one of these
should hold two of us. My companions went together,
and I congratulated myself on [50] monopolizing one of
the beds,—but here I reckoned without mine host. About
midnight a man entered the room, groped all the beds,
and finding that I was alone, tumbled in beside me. Such
is a common occurrence, I am told, in this country, but it
is the first time that I have met with it. In the morning
I discovered that my neighbour was a person of good address, and respectable appearance.
After resuming our journey, we came up to a family
rising from their beds by the embers of a fire in the wood.
The father fired off a rifle, which it would seem he had
kept in readiness for defence. There can be no great objection to sleeping in the woods, in such fine weather.
From several heaps of ashes that we have seen by the sides
of the road, it is evident that the practice is common, even
where taverns are numerous. Emigrants carry their
moveables in one horse carts, or two or four horse waggons,
as the quantity of goods may require. They carry much
of their provisions from Philadelphia, and other towns,
and many of them sleep in their own bed clothes, on the 74
Early Western Travels
floors of bar-rooms in the taverns. For this kind of lodging they usually pay twenty-five cents a family.
The dollar is the integer of money in the United States,
as universal as the pound is in Britain. In the former
country, cents or hundredth parts of a dollar are the lowest
fractional parts in use. Rating the dollar at four shillings
and sixpence sterling, the cent of America is eight per cent,
more than the halfpenny of Britain. The fractional divisions of the dollar, are %, %, %, and -jV, or 50 cents,
25 cents, 12 ~% cents, and 6% cents. Silver coins representing all these quantities are in circulation. The peculiarity in the convenience of quantities [51] derived from
continual bisection, is known to all who are acquainted
with the theory of numbers.
It is impossible to say whether it is cheaper to travel
with a family, by purchasing a waggon and horses at
Philadelphia, or by hiring one of the waggons that pass
regularly to Pittsburg. This depends on the price paid
for carriage at the particular time, and also on that to be
paid for waggon and horses at Philadelphia. In the one
case, the waggoner is paid for the weight of the goods,
and for that of the persons who ride; and in the other case,
the waggon and horses may be expected to sell at, or
under, half the price paid for them at the sea-port. The
great number of family waggons now on the road, amounts
to a presumption that this mode of travelling is now
thought to be the cheaper.
Crossed the Juniata once more. The bridge is a new
stone erection of bad workmanship. We are told that it
fell down repeatedly. To insure its standing, a step is left
on the head of each abutment, on these the wooden centres
rest. They are not withdrawn, so that the beams must
give way, before it can be ascertained whether the effective 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
arch is of wood or of stone!!! The parapets have been
coped with boards, but the wind has uncovered one of the
The steep banks are covered with trees. Oak, ash,
hickory, chesnut, and walnut, are the most prevalent
Bedford, the head town of the county of that name, is a
considerable place, with some neat brick and stone houses.
In our progress this forenoon we have seen much poor
scorched land. Indian corn is short and shrivelled; pasture bad, and the woods without the strength they attain
in a richer soil. Orchards [52] bear well; the traveller
may knock down the apples that overhang the road, and
may probably pass without complaint. Pear trees are
scarce, if at all to be seen. Probably they are subject to
canker on this light dry soil. Peaches are small. A farmer
by the road side, offered us a few of the latter sort of fruit,
unasked. Ironstone is abundant, in one place the new
road is formed of it. In another, we saw prismatic pieces
of nine or ten inches square, and about four feet long.
The prevailing strata are of clay schist; the surface is hilly
and broken.
In the afternoon, we found ourselves climbing a steep,
without being aware that it was the side of the Allegany
ridge, not having previously seen any eminence through
the woods. The mountain is itself so much enveloped in
foliage, that we can only with the utmost difficulty have
a single peep of the lower country behind. The lower
country, where seen, has nearly all the sameness of the
surface of the ocean. The farthest visible ridge appears
blue, and its outline looks as smooth as if it were not covered by timber. We could not recognise a trace of our
way hither. *
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
Met several waggons descending; they are obliged to
move along in a narrow track, on the very brink of a precipice. The road winds round a point of the hill, and slants
along the side of a tremendous ravine, that, as it were,
cleaves the eastern side of the ridge in two parts. The
trees render it almost impossible to see across the chasm.
The scenery is naturally romantic, but not yet exposed to
the eye of the admiring traveller.
The large timber on the summit indicates a degree of fertility not usual on hill tops; and far surpassing that of the
country near the south east foot of the mountain. The
cleared ground by a [53] tavern on the height is good. The
top of this range of mountains is a table land, swelled with
irregularities, and in some parts strewed with large detached blocks of sandstone; the same kind of mineral of
which the horizontal strata of the mountain is composed.
Were it not for the recollection of the steep ascended, we
should never have surmised that we were here on the
"spine of the United States."
Met with two young men going eastward. One of my
companions saluted them, \ I You are going the wrong way."
"No," replied one of the others, "You are going the
wrong way. I have been at Pittsburg, and in the State of
Ohio, and I declare it is the most detestable country in the
Stotler's tavern was full of people; we had no sooner
entered the door than we were in a crowd. We could not
remain for the night.
We set out for the next tavern, and at dusk came into
a track so wet and miry, that it would be considered impassable in some parts of the world. We groped our
way along the side of it, over logs, and occasionally through 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
the wood, to avoid the horrid bog. Two young men of
the neighbourhood came forward, told us that we had just
entered upon the worst part of the road, and, as they were
going in the same direction, offered to conduct us.
• The next tavern was one where whisky is sold, but the
occupiers of it could not be troubled with lodging travellers. They told us that there is another tavern a mile forward. The road still bad; but as our conductors were
going farther, we accompanied them.
The other tavern was so completely thronged with
movers, that a multitude of them had taken up their lodgings in a barn. We were permitted [54] to stop, on condition of all three sleeping in one bed, which was said to
be a large and a good one. Two-lhirds of the bar-room
floor was covered by the beds of weary travellers, lying
closely side by side, and the remaining part occupied by
people engaged in drinking, and noisy conversation. The
room in which supper was taken, was too small to admit
any large proportion of the company at once, of consequence we had to wait the alternation of a supper party
and a cooking, before we got to the table.
This accumulation of travellers is chiefly occasioned by
people in the eastern States having reaped and disposed
of their crops at this season, and on that account finding it
a convenient time for removing to the western country.
September 25. At half past five all were in bustle, preparing for the road: Some settling bill with the hostess,
others waiting to settle: Some round a long wooden trough
at the pump, washing, or drying themselves with their
pocket-handkerchiefs: Some Americans drinking their
morning's bitters, (spirits with rue, wormwood, or other
vegetable infusion:) Some women catching children who
•>*.-. ■ 78
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
had escaped naked from bed, others packing up bed
clothes, or putting them into waggons: Waggoners harnessing their horses, &c.
The little piece of ground cleared here is very rich, the
best pasture I have seen in America; but the winter in this
high region must be severe.
Two miles onward there are fine fields and orchards.
The interval land is meadow. No Indian corn is to be
seen. By the road side, what miners call the vise of a bed
of coal is perceptible.
Stoystown is delightfully situated on the north bank of a
deep vale.33 The neighbouring grounds are but recently
cleared. If we may judge from [55] the appearance of
the houses, tavern-keepers are the principal men of the
place; one of these is dubbed Major.
The land on this side of the Allegany ridge is much
better than immediately on the eastern side of it. At
present travellers and horses consume a great part of the
produce, but as cultivation proceeds, the distance from
market must become more sensibly felt.
The ridge, Laurel Hill, is about seven miles broad from
one side of the base to the other. We observed a rattlesnake that had been recently killed on the road; it was
about three and a half feet long, and about an inch and
a half in diameter. The people say, that only two species
of serpents are poisonous here; but there are probably
more, as no less than thirty species have been enumerated
in the United States.
Laurel Hill being broad, and considerably steep, must
be of prominent height.    Of its elevation relatively to the
83 Colonel Bouquet constructed a fort at the present site of Stoystown in
1758, and a small force was stationed there until Pontiac's War. The name
Stoystown came from the patronymic of a Revolutionary soldier who laid out
the town.    It is situated on Stony Creek, ten miles from Somerset.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
Allegany ridge, I could not even venture an opinion. To
be continually enveloped in woods, without seeing to any
great distance, must be a condition disagreeable to the inquisitive traveller, and to the geologist.
We lodged at Lauchlin's Town;34 near this place is a
small furnace.   Malleable iron is sold at ten cents a-pound.
September 26. On this day there was a heavy shower
of rain, the first since our leaving Philadelphia. Passed
Chesnut ridge, near Somerset.85 At a tavern here, some
men were drinking and swearing most hideously. It is
much to be regretted that this vice is so prevalent in a
country where so many other things are to be commended.
Greensburg, the county town of Westmoreland, is a
considerable place, built on rising ground. [56] Here,
and westward of this place, the land is fine, but billy.
Stopped at Adamsburg, six miles from Greensburg.
September 28. Yesterday my companions set out for
Pittsburg. These young gentlemen have conducted themselves in the style which distinguishes the well-bred from
the uncultivated and obtrusive man. They put no such
questions as,'' Where are you going ?—What are you to do
there?" &c. so common in this land of liberty. Of my
companions I only knew their names, the States they came
from, and that they are going to the western country.
Yesterday morning the hoar-frost was faintly visible on
the newly mown grass, the first that has been observed
this season. No danger is now to be apprehended from
the cold, as Indian corn, (the latest of the crops,) is ripe.
The woods and orchards have their young shoots well matured, and will soon be coloured with their autumnal tinge.
** Laughlin Town is about five miles southeast of Loudon.— Ed.
36 Somerset, situated near the centre of Somerset County, was first settled by
a party of frontiersmen about 1765. Laid out by a settler named Bruner about
twenty years later, it was for some time called Brunerstown.— Ed.
i 8o
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
A majority of the people in the neighbourhood of Adams-
burg are Germans, or their descendants. Although most
of them can speak in Engbsh, their conversation with one
another is in German, and a clergyman in the neighbourhood preaches in that language.
Resumed my journey; called at L—r's tavern, eleven
miles from Greensburg. The hostess, after promising to
give me breakfast, shewed me into a front room. After
waiting about twenty-five minutes, two ladies on horseback, apparently turned of forty, alighted before the
window; the hostess ran forward, embraced and kissed
them. Her salute was the loudest articulation of the kind
that I have heard. She came into the room, and told [57]
me, she had got so much engaged, that she could not be
troubled with my breakfast, and that there is a tavern only
half a mile forward where I would be attended to. The
good lady will be freed from every imputation of unkind-
ness, since I have related how cordially she welcomed her
female friends who engrossed all her attention.
Met with a man who asked me if I knew of "any traveller who would rest himself and thrash for a few days ?"
To-day I begin to find the estimate formed of foot travellers in this country of equality. It is an undoubted truth
that the rider is two steps higher than the footman.
Saw a drove of large cattle on their way from the State
of Ohio for Philadelphia. Their condition is good, the
length of the journey taken into consideration. In size
and even fat, they are much superior to the Pennsylvanian
stock by the sides of the road. Indeed, it is somewhat
surprising to see such bad cattle on the rich lands of this
State.   The causes merit the strictest inquiry.
Every where the wheat stubble is so much overgrown
with annual weeds, that the verdure at a distance is apt 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
to be mistaken for pasture. This growth is occasioned
by the long course of hot weather, which succeeds an early
harvest. It would be advantageous if clover, or some
other useful herbage, were sown amongst the crops, that
the farmer might not only avail himself of the propensity
to vegetation, but check the dissemination of weeds so
hurtful to adjoining fields, and to the succeeding pasture.
The potato crops are better than those I have seen on
the coast, the plants are more vigorous, and the tubers
much larger.
Land partly cleared, and with some rude buildings [58]
thereon, sells at from twenty to forty dollars an acre.
The new road from Philadelphia to Pittsburg is now in
an advanced stage of progress.88 Much of it is finished,
and corresponding parts of the old track abandoned.
Probably, by two years hence, the traveller will have a
turnpike from the one city to the other. The improvement is important, but it is not one that deserves unqualified praise. In multitudes of cases, it passes through
hollows, and over eminences, without regard to that minimum of declivity, which in a great measure constitutes the
value of a road. In some cases, the vertical curve, formed
by passing over rising grounds, is so long, that, applied
laterally, the eminence surmounted, would have been altogether avoided. The road from Baltimore to Wheeling,
now constructing at the expense of the government, is understood to be more judiciously laid off. Its competition
must, ere long, give the proprietors of the Philadelphia line,
an instructive lesson on the economical application of
30 This route was locally known as the Chambersburg and Pittsburg turnpike, at either end being called by its opposite terminus. It was built in general
alignment with Forties's Road, cut along the old trading-path through the forests
in 1758.   See Post's Journals, volume i of our series, p. 242.— Ed.
m 82
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
i \%
Produce, in the higher parts of Pennsylvania, may be
stated at the rates of from twenty to twenty-five bushels
of wheat, and from twenty-five to thirty bushels of Indian
corn, per acre. These quantities are raised under slovenly management, and without much labour. A farmer
expressed his contentment under existing circumstances;
a dollar a bushel for wheat (he said) is a fair price, where
the farmer pays neither rent nor taxes to the government.
His farm, for example, pays four or five dollars a-year, for
the support of the state and county officers.
Labourers receive a dollar per day, and can find board
for two dollars a-week. • Mechanics, in [59] most cases,
earn more. Where health is enjoyed, in this place, poverty
bespeaks indolence, or want of economy.
Arrived at Pittsburg, after a pleasant journey, with
almost uninterrupted good weather. Some observations
on this place will be the subject of my next letter.
Pittsburg — Situation — Manufactures — Occurrences —
In this letter I shall not confine myself to a description of
the city of Pittsburg. Occurrences and remarks, with, or
without dates, will be promiscuously introduced. This
method may not be after the manner of regular epistolary
writing; but to me it is the easiest way, and it may have
the advantage of shewing you how a great part of my time
is occupied.
Pittsburg stands on the point of land formed by the confluence of the rivers Allegany and Monongahela. The flat
ground on which the greater part of the buildings stand, 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
is upwards of thirty feet above the level of the rivers at low
water. Part of the land adjoining to the Allegany is only
about twenty feet high, and liable to occasional inundations. The Allegany here runs south-west by west, and
the Monongahela nearly due west, as does the. Ohio in
continuation. This, together [60] with the Monongahela
being broader than the Allegany, gives to the former the
appearance of being the principal river, and to the latter
the character of a tributary stream. The Monongahela
is muddy and sluggish opposite to the town; and though
about 400 yards broad there, probably furnishes much less
water to the Ohio than does the Allegany, which is only
about half the width, but has a brisk current. The Allegany and the Monongahela have been described as being
each about the size of the Tay; but the latter river is much
inferior to either in magnitude; and the comparison must
have been influenced by the Tay's being the fittest river
with which to compare it in Britain, and not by its actual
parity with either.
Between the rivers, there is a ridge of about 300 feet
high, which terminates with a gentle slope in the most
inland part of the town. This is the hill that a florid
exaggerator has described as a solid mass of coal. The
description was unnecessary, as the coal field in which the
hills of Pittsburg lie, may be considered as the most extensive that are known, although the only bed here is no
more than four and a half feet thick. The strata being
horizontal, and the out-burst of the coal about the middle-
steep of the hill, it is not necessary to make shafts, as it is
level free, and may be quarried and carried out in wheel
barrows, like road-metal.
The hill on the west side of the Monongahela, is a
Al am
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
craggy steep, almost close to the river. It is covered
with trees to the summit, and tends, more than any other
object, to give to Pittsburg a picturesque appearance.
On the north-west side of the Allegany lies a beautiful
plain, the site of the new town Allegany.*7 Beyond the
plain lies another ridge corresponding [61] in elevation,
and having a continuation of the same strata that compose
the two heights formerly noticed. Thus Pittsburg is almost
surrounded by high wooded grounds.
The heavy showers of rain that occasionally fall in this
country, form a great objection to the cultivation of steep
lands. The torrents sweep away much of the loose soil,
cut deep ruts, and carry down slate-clay, and spread it on
the foot slopes, and on the flat grounds below.
The following enumeration of the manufacturing people
of Pittsburg was made last year. It gives some view of the
nature and extent of the business carried on.
w The Pennsylvania legislature, having purchased from the Indians the land
north and west of the Allegheny River, in 1789 ordered a tract opposite Pittsburg to be laid off in lots and sold to satisfy the claims of the state troops. Allegheny City, thus established, by its proximity to Pittsburg shared in the rapid
growth of the latter, becoming a borough in 1828 and a city in 1840.— Ed.
Augur Maker .
Bellows Maker
Brush Makers .
Button Maker
Cotton Spinners
Copper and Tin Smiths
Cutlers   .
Iron Founders
- 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
3 Gun Smiths    ....
2 Flint Glass Manufactories
3 Green ditto       ditto
2 Hardware Manufactories .
7 Hatters .....
1 Locksmith      ....
1 Linen Manufactory .        .        _
1 Nail         ditto
1 Paper Maker ....
[62] 1 Pattern Maker
3 Plane Makers ....
1 Potter (fine ware)
1 Rope Maker   ....
1 Spinning Machine Maker
1 Spanish Brown Manufactory
1 Silver Plater   ....
2 Steam-Engine Makers
2 Steam Grist Mills    ...
6 Saddlers          ....
5 Silversmiths and Watch Repairers.
14 Shoe and Boot Makers
7 Tanners and Curriers
4 Tallow Chandlers    .
4 Tobacconists  .
2 Weavers          ....
3 Windsor Chair Makers
2 Woolen Manufactories
1 Wire Drawer  ....
1 White Lead Factory
Total 1280
Besides the above, it is surmised that there are three
hundred and fifty-seven manufacturing people, of which
no estimate has been furnished by the conductors. There
is, besides, a chemical manufactory, in which ammonia, I
3 i
*  IX
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
copperas, lamp black, ivory black, and various acids, are
Formerly large ships were built at Pittsburg, which
sailed down the river during floods: large keel boats, capable of either ascending or descending the river.88 Square
arks, family boats, and small skiffs, are built in great
numbers. A steamboat of 330 tons burden, for the navigation of the Mississippi and Ohio, is nearly completed.
The conveyance of goods from Philadelphia [63] and
Baltimore, together with their warehousing and boating,
produces much business here. In the year 1813, no less
than 4055 waggons, engaged in this trade, were calculated
to have passed the road. The number employed now
must be considerably increased.
Pittsburg also derives much advantage from its being
the thoroughfare of settlers for the western country. Here
they sell their horses and waggons; here they often remain
waiting for a rise of water. Here also they purchase boats,
and lay in a stock of provisions for their passage down the
The waters of the Ohio are now lower than they have
been for many years past. Merchants with their goods,
and families with their baggage, find it impossible to get
downward. Some whose moveables are light, are making
the attempt. Many emigrants are proceeding with their
waggons by land. Where the distance does not exceed
three or four hundred miles, this will, at present, be found
the more economical and expeditious mode of travelling.
33 The building of keel-boats, barges, and later brigs and schooners, had been
one of the foremost occupations of Pittsburg since 1790. Seaworthy ships were
here launched and floated to New Orleans, whence they sailed to foreign
as well as domestic ports. See Harris's Journal, volume iii of our series, pp.
349, 353. Steamboat building was begun here by agents of Fulton, seven
years previous to Flint's arrival.— Ed.
!     fe 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
September 30. Emigrants continue to flock westward.
To-day the numerous inmates and followers of three large
waggons arrived in a body. It is truly interesting to see
people of different countries, and of different costumes,
coming forward in the mail-coach, on horseback, and on
foot. At first view, this great migration leads to the conclusion, that oppression, and. the fear of want, are in extensive operation somewhere to the eastward.
October 4. {Sunday.) This afternoon three fights have
taken place in Bayardstown, a small appendage of Pittsburg.89 These originated from private quarrels in taverns. The combatants sallied from [64] them to the street,
where the battles were fought in the presence of the passengers. There are five taverns in this place; of course only
two of them have escaped being scenes of action. This is
not in perfect agreement with the character of sobriety,
absence of dissipation and gross vices, that a late describer
of Pittsburg has given of its people.40
October 9. The people are in great ferment about the
ensuing election. Newspapers teem with the most virulent abuse; and one of the candidates for Congress has
fought with a lawyer in town. It would be useless to inquire after particulars, as facts are always differently
represented by opposite parties.
A farmer, who lives at the distance of a few miles from
this place, told me that he is a native of Ireland, and that
he had not fifty dollars in the world, fifteen years ago; now,
he would not take 4000 dollars for his property. He commenced alone, and has not followed any other occupation
33 Stephen Bayard, a colonel in the Revolutionary army, later a merchant in
Pittsburg, bought from the Penns, when the town was laid out (1784), thirty-
two lots on the present Penn and Liberty streets; a district known for many
years as Bayardstown.— Ed.
*° An American writer.— Flint.
m 88
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
l        7!
s, IS
than the cultivation of his farm, and the sale of its produce.
However strange this may appear in Europe, an individual
farming in the new settlements of America, is an occurrence
too common to excite wonder.
October 13. To-day the inhabitants of Pennsylvania
elect their Representatives in Congress, Members of the
State Assembly, and County Officers. I have gone repeatedly to the court-house of Pittsburg, to see the popular proceedings. The citizens wrap up the names of the
candidates they recommend in a small slip of paper,
which they hand through the open pane of a window to
the inspector, an officer previously appointed for [65]
counting the tickets. This way of balloting, places the
poor man beyond the control of his superior or creditor.
I have seen no riot or confusion. Populous cities, in
America, are divided into wards, where separate elections
are held at the same time; a salutary precaution, that prevents the assembling of great crowds.
The shortness of my stay, and my limited acquaintance
with the people, do not allow me to say much of their
character. A considerable degree of industry is manifested by the bustle that pervades the town. This virtue,
however, does not prevail to the extinction of dissipation.
Swearing is certainly the most conspicuous vice. Some
affirm that a class of people, whom they denominate low
Irish, are the most immoral of the population. It gives no
pleasure, to hear such a reflection on the peasantry of a
country, distinguished by the hospitality, generosity, and
bravery, of its people. In justice to humanity, it is necessary to bear in mind, that they have not enjoyed the means
of a good education in their native country; and it is proper
to mention, that there are natives of Ireland here, who
have risen to opulence, and deserved eminence in society.
fr 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
The recollection of several of these, and other worthy
citizens of Pittsburg, will always be accompanied with
sentiments of my esteem.
The weather continuing clear, and without the least
prospect of a flood, I have procured a skiff, and determined on proceeding down the river. The skiff is 15$
feet long, 3J wide across the gunwale, and 14 inches
deep. This is supposed to be sufficiently large for carrying myself and baggage, (about 800 lbs.) The sides are
composed of two boards of pine, three quarters of an inch
thick; the bottom flat, and of the same material. It is a
light, [66] and certainly not a strong bark. My other
equipments are, a copy of the Pittsburg Navigator, (a
book recommended as useful, in pointing out the proper
course for avoiding bars, and the points where rapids are
to be entered;)" small quantities of bread, cheese, and
dried deer; a small flask with spirits; and a tinned cup, to
be used both in drinking water from the river, and in casting out bilge water. Over the after part of the skiff three
hoops are fixed, in the form of an arch. A sheet stretched
over these, will form a canopy under which I may sleep,
by the margin of the river.
Descend the Ohio from Pittsburg to Beaver — Occurrences
and remarks there
Atkinson's Tavern, by Beaver,
28th October, 1818.
As a great part of my notes since I last wrote, relate to
rapids, bars, islands, &c. I shall omit the description of
many of them, as being altogether uninteresting.
a For the Pittsburg Navigator, see Cuming's Tour, volume iv of our series,
note 43.— Ed.
..   ^' 9°
Early Western Travels
{Vol. 9
■■I! »
l n
On the 14th of October, I embarked on the Monongahela, about half a mile above its junction with the Allegany. A gentleman to whom I had been introduced, very
kindly assisted me in arranging my lading, and rowed me
down to the lower point of the town.
The Allegany being a clear, and the Monongahela [67]
a turbid river, their compound, the Ohio, as might be expected, is of the intermediate character. The mud, that
covers the gravel at the height of three or four feet above
the present level of the water, shows, that a very slight
rising of the river carries much soil along with it. One of
the earliest writers who gives a detail of the beauties of this
river, states, that the bottom, and even fishes, may be seen
in several fathoms of water. During the present dry
season, the bottom is indistinctly visible at the depth of
five or six feet. The water, when taken up in a bright
tinned vessel, appears to be perfectly limpid; but after
standing in it for an hour, a very small sediment is
deposited. From the experience of boatmen, and
others who drink this water, it is understood to be
To me this was a novel method of travelling. Steep
ridges of hills on both sides of the river, about 300 feet
above the surface of the water, and these covered with a
profusion of timber, now clothed in all the variegated hues
of autumn, form an avenue of the most magnificent description. For nearly the length of six miles, the surface of the
water has all the smoothness of a mill-pond, which gave an
additional effect to the scenery, but which imposed on me
the labour of rowing incessantly. My boat, besides being
without rudder, or even that short piece of keel in the
after-part which is so essential in moving forward in a
straight line, went on in a zig-zag direction, occasioning 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
much trouble, and promising no great degree of safety
on my coming into quick running water.
At a rapid, six miles from Pittsburg, a boat has recently
been stove. I saw the people on shore drying their goods.
In this same rapid, my ill sailing bark put about broadside to the current. On reaching the lower extremity of
the declivity, [68] my situation was rather alarming.
Here the violence of the current being opposed by deeper
and more placid water, produces a sort of heaving motion.
The sidelong motion over this swelling surface, was much
aggravated by a top-heavy load. Travellers are fortunate when they arrive early in the season, as the stream
at that period propels a boat much quicker than the most
laborious rowing can do now.
After having passed several rapids, which are commonly
called ripples in this country, I attempted to land for the
night, on the head of Dead Man's Island, a low bar covered
with small willows, but found the water to be so shallow
that I could not approach the dry ground, and that with a
short rope, I could not effect a mooring to any log, bush,
or fixed object. The possibility of an unforeseen rise of
water in such a long river caused me to determine not to
sleep aground, without being securely fastened. It was
now nearly dark, and I judged it impossible to cross to the
opposite shore to find a mooring, as the roaring of the Dead
Man's Ripple, (a furious rapid, between the island and
the right hand shore,) convinced me that I was already
almost within its draught. The only alternative which
remained, was to push into the principal stream. I
adopted it, and was soon carried through an impetuous
winding channel, where I could perceive large dark-coloured masses, supposed to be rocks, above water, at small
•distances on each side.
I 92
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
October 15. Last night I put ashore about half a mile
below the Dead Man's Ripple. The margin was of a
convenient depth, admitting my lying aground, to avoid
the danger of my leaky bark's sinking in the night. Having made it fast to a log, and piled up my boxes toward
the prow, and spread three pieces of board over the seats
behind for a [69] bed, I covered the three hoops with a
sheet for a canopy, laid down my portmanteau for a
pillow, and wrapping myself in a blanket, I went to rest.
As I neither saw any bght, nor heard the voice of a
human being, I imagined that I was far from the neighbourhood of any house. The only sounds that saluted
my ear, arose from bells attached to cows in the woods,
and from the breakers produced by the Ripple. The
sheet which served me for a roof, was not long enough
to reach the sides of the boat, a cold wind that blew
down the river, passed in a constant current through my
lodgment, and for a considerable time prevented me from
sleeping. About midnight I heard the noise of footsteps
approaching me on the gravel, and looked out to see what
my visitor might be: a faint glimmering of moon-light enabled me to discover the white face of a young cow that
had come down to drink.
It would be imprudent to sleep ashore and leave goods
in a boat on the river, boatmen being much blamed for
I put off about seven o'clock in the morning. A continuation of the same ridges of hills, and the same woods,
bounded the view on both sides of the river. The bottom
land is narrow, and the parts which have been cleared are
chiefly covered with crops of Indian corn. Bottom land
is of two sorts; the lower by the margin of the river; and 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
the higher by the foot of the ridge. The lower bottoms
are about twenty feet higher than the surface of low water;
but as the trees on the beach are peeled by ice and drifted
wood, to the height of four or five feet above the level of
the ground, occasioned by floods; it follows that the lower
bottoms are subject to inundation, and that their height
must be increased [70] by the earth deposited from every
high rising of the waters. Nothing, in the present state
of things, seems to offer a solution of the formation of the
higher bottoms, which are here about twenty feet higher
than the lower ones, and appear to be equally flat, and
forming plains parallel to them. I shall hereafter be very
attentive to facts with regard to this anomaly.
About six hundred yards above the mouth of Big Beaver
Creek, my skiff ran upon the top of a large mass of stone
under water, which the ripplings occasioned by a slight
breeze of wind, prevented me from seeing. In attempting
to push her off, she upset, so as to admit a gush of water
all along the lower side. The hoops over her after part,
not allowing me to leap directly upon the stone, I plunged
into the water and mounted the stone just in time to catch
the bark by the after part, and prevent it from being carried
down by the stream. By a considerable exertion, I succeeded in keeping the after end close to the stone, while
the fore part sunk obliquely to a great depth in the water.
Here the cargo must unavoidably have slipped into the
bottom of the river, except for a large box, that wedged
itself into the narrow forepart of the boat, and the others,
resting on it, were kept in their places. Two black men
came in a skiff to my relief. They took me in, and rowed
toward the shore, while I still retained my hold of the
wreck, and succeeded in getting it safely moored.   This
ILtMmm KW?
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
interruption happened exactly before the door of a tavern,
where I was aecommodated with board, and the means of
having my baggage dried.
Afternoon. While exposing my books to the wind, a
respectable looking man, apparently a farmer, entered
into conversation with me. His inquiries [71] respecting
the scientific and literary personages of Edinburgh, and
his acquaintance with the poetry and provincial dialect of
Scotland, were more minute than I could have expected
in this part of the world.
October 16. I have discovered that my skiff is too weak
for carrying any considerable weight. It is so much
strained, that many of the nails have their heads drawn
half an inch out of the timber, and others much more.
The misfortune of the 15th, has probably saved me from
a worse one. The system of boat building at Pittsburg
cannot be too strongly reprobated. Defects in caulking,
in the number, and in the strength of the nails, were in
the case of my boat, disgraceful.a
October 19. A farmer, in removing Indian corn from
an island to his residence, had his flat sunk, and much of
the cargo lost, within a few yards of the point where I
stopped short. I am resolved on procuring a better skiff,
and waiting a few days in hopes of a rise of water. Floods
at or before this season of the year, are considered annual
occurrences. The oldest residents recollect of only one
year in which there was no autumnal rise of the Ohio.
October 20. The mornings and evenings are now cool,
usually about 340 of Fahrenheit's scale. To-day, at two
o'clock P.M. the temperature of the sun's rays was 900.
a Had Flint read his Navigator carefully, he would have found specific warnings on the subject of defective boats; these were on every occasion palmed off
on the uninitiated by Pittsburg sharpers.— Ed. 1818-1820]       Flint's Letters from America
Thick fogs continue over the river in the mornings, till
eight or nine o'clock. These are no doubt occasioned by
the water being hotter than the air. The radiant heat
passing upward, necessarily carries humidity with it,
which is immediately condensed, and rendered visible by
the colder air. Whenever the heat of the air is of a temperature equal to that of the water, the phenomenon disappears. The same principle may be [72] very plausibly
applied, in explaining the autumnal risings of the Ohio.
The great and long continued heats of summer in this
country, render the air capable of accumulating a great
quantity of moisture. It is not till the sun recedes considerably to the southward, and till a great portion of the
atmosphere is cooled, that rains are precipitated over any
great extent of the country. The Allegany mountains, and
other high parts, are soonest cooled, and first produce a
deposition of rain. Hence autumnal floods occur, which
proceed from the higher country alone, without corresponding risings in the lower tributaries of the Ohio. In
seasons when the heat continues long, the flood occurs
late. With such hot days as we now enjoy, a rising in the
river is not to be expected.
26th. Went up Beaver Creek.43 This is a large stream,
with a rapid descent over a sandstone bottom. Within
three miles of its mouth there are three saw-mills, a gristmill, an iron furnace and forge, a fulling-mill, a carding-
mill, and a mill for bruising flax-seed. At the iron furnace, cast goods are fabricated, the coarsest that I have
ever seen. Coal is abundant, but not used in reducing
the ores.
It has been suggested, that a navigation connecting Cay-
43 For the early history of Beaver Creek, see Croghan's Journals, volume i
of our series, note 93.— Ed. 96
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
ahogo, on Lake Erie, with Alexandria on the Potomak,
should pass through Big Beaver Creek;44 but it appears
altogether improper that such a communication should descend so low as the mouth of this creek, thereby incurring
the ascent of the Ohio to Pittsburg, and the Monongahela
to the bases of the Allegany ridge. The longer route to
New York seems to be vastly preferable, and, as it is now
in progress, it must supersede the Pennsylvanian line.
I saw some people thrashing buck wheat: they had dug
a hollow in the field, about twenty feet in [73] diameter,
and six or eight inches in depth. In this the grain was
thrashed by the flail, and the straw thrown aside to rot in
the field. The wheat is cleared of the chaff by two persons
fanning it with a sheet, while a third lets it fall before the
Indian corn is separated from the husks or leaves that
cover the ear, by the hands. In the evenings neighbours
convene for this purpose. Apples are also pared for preservation in a similar way. These are commonly convivial
meetings, and are well attended by young people of both
A respectable English family put ashore with a leaky
boat, almost in the act of sinking. They had run foul of
a log in a ripple. The craft, called family boats, are
square arks, nine or ten feet wide, and varying in length
as occasion may require. They are roofed all over, except
a small portion of the fore part, where two persons row.
At the back end, a person steers with an oar, protruded
44 It was Washington's favorite plan to unite the waters of the Potomac and
Ohio, and in turn, those of the Ohio and Lake Erie, by means of canals. The
Beaver River was always one of the possible links in this chain of inland communication between the Great Lakes and tidewater. As Flint observes, the Erie
Canal (completed in 1825) was the most feasible, and eventually the only successful, undertaking to join the sea and the lakes.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
through a hole, and a small fire-place is built of brick. Such
boats are so formed as to carry all the necessaries of new
settlers. The plough, and the body of the waggon, are
frequently to be seen lying on the roof; and the wheels
hung over the sides. The bottom is made of strong
plank, not liable to be stove in, except where the water is
in rapid motion; and the whole fabric is exempt from the
danger of upsetting, except in violent gales of wind.
Family boats cost from thirty to fifty dollars at Pittsburg.
A great proportion of the families to be seen, are from the
northern parts of New York, and Pennsylvania, also from
the state Vermont, and other parts. They have descended the Allegany, a river that I have not hitherto
mentioned as a thoroughfare of travellers.45
The gentleman mentioned in a former paragraph, is
Brigadier General L k,48 who [74] is at present a
member of the Senate of the United States. I have had
several accidental interviews with him, and find that he
is acquainted with the late works of imagination and taste
published in Edinburgh, down to the Second Series of the
Tales of My Landlord.47
October 28. Settlers continue to be much retarded in
getting down the river. Head winds oblige them to put
ashore sometimes for a whole day. Families for the eastern parts of Ohio State, are proceeding by the road. The
father may be seen driving the waggon; and the women
45 The Allegheny route was the common one for New England emigrants who
had journeyed through New York on the old Genesee Road; it became of more
importance after the Erie Canal was in operation. See Buttrick's Voyages,
volume viii of our series.— Ed.
46 For a brief biography of General Lacock, see Cuming's Tour, volume iv
of our series, note 57.— Ed.
47 "Tales of My Landlord," by Sir Walter Scott, include The Black Dwarf,
Old Mortality, The Heart of Midlothian, etc. The two former were published
in 1816 and the latter in 1818.— Ed.
JL, Early Western Travels
and children bringing up two or three cows in the rear.
They carry their provisions along with them, and wrap
themselves in blankets, and sleep on the floors of taverns.
The hostess here does not charge any thing for this sort of
Travelling by land al this season is, for various reasons,
economical. Famines by this means avoid delay and expense at Pittsburg; they are not obliged to sell their waggons and horses at an under value there; but take them
along, as a necessary stock for their farms; and they
are not put to the expense of a boat, which would be ultimately sold for a mere trifle, or left to rot by the water
side. Besides, their rate of travelling is now more speedy
than by water. Those who go below Wheeling will have
a farther advantage, as the distance from Pittsburg to that
place is 38 miles shorter than by the river. The waggons
and horses must also be of immediate use to those, who
settle at a distance from navigable waters. It is impossible
to state the distance to which horses and waggons should
be carried from Pittsburg; this wholly depends on the state
of the river, the quantity of goods to be transported, the
price of freight, (if paying passage instead of purchasing
a boat is contemplated,) the [75] price of a boat, and the
certain loss on selling horses and waggons at Pittsburg.
Strangers will do well to make strict inquiries, and the
most careful calculations, of the expense of both modes
of travelling, previous to the adoption of either of them.
After examining the advantage of the different ways of
travelling, it will be but an ordinary exercise of candour
to state wherein I have erred myself.—I purchased a skiff,
too small and too weak for my purpose, and I ought not
to have undertaken the passage without taking some person along with me, who would have been continually on 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
the outlook for stones or logs under water, and who occasionally would have steered my bark. Being obliged to
sit on a low seat with my back forward, I was most unfavourably placed for observing obstacles in the way, and,
on approaching rapids, I was usually in the very draught
of them, before I could discern the proper channel.
The weather has of late been cold during the night,
and the season is so far advanced that I cannot calculate
on sleeping hereafter in an open boat. To enable me to
put my baggage ashore every night, I have procured
smaller boxes, to supersede the use of larger ones. Travellers in this country ought not to adopt large boxes,
which are the most liable to injury, from the jolting of
waggons, and are comparatively unmanageable on every
occasion. Eighty or a hundred pounds, are enough for
each parcel.
There is not the least appearance of a rise on the river.
I have exchanged my pine skiff for a larger and a stronger
oak one, and have determined on getting once more upon
the water.
During my stay here, I have had the satisfaction of
living with a polite and respectable family, which has
treated me with the utmost civility; [76] their integrity is
beyond suspicion.—If I had entertained any doubt on
that head, the very repacking of my baggage would at once
have removed it.—My inventory is complete, not a single
article is wanting. ioo
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
Descend the Ohio from Beaver — Georgetown — Steuben-
ville — Wellsburgh — Warren — Wheeling — Marietta
— Muskingum river — Guyandat river — Letarts rapids — Kanhaway river — Point Pleasant — Galliopolis
— Big Sandy river — Portsmouth — Occurrences and
Remarks interspersed.
Portsmouth, Ohio, iSth Nov. 1818.
On the 29th of October I again got afloat.—The weather
clear and fine, but the current of the river in most parts so
slow that the eye could scarcely discover its motion.—
Passed the mouth of Big Beaver Creek, 29^ miles from
Stopped for the night at a tavern 42 \ miles from Pittsburg. Opposite, on the Vhginia shore of the river, stands
Georgetown, a neat village, with a pubUc ferry.—On little
Beaver Creek are several grist and saw mills, a paper-mill,
and several other machines. In the mouth of a creek, I
observed that the surface of the water was tinged with the
oil of naphtha.
A young gentleman, from Virginia, had stopped in the
tavern sick; the hostess and neighbours [77] were very
attentive to the unfortunate stranger.
October 30. At the distance of half a mile below Little
Beaver Creek, the meridional line crosses the river, which
separates Pennsylvania from Virginia on the south side of
the river, and from the State of Ohio on the north side.
48 For notes on the following persons and places mentioned in this chapter,
see Croghan's Journals, volume i of our series: Yellow Creek, note 93; Kanawha
River, note 101. A. Michaux's Travels, volume iii of our series: Wheeling,
note 15; Marietta, note 16. F. A. Michaux's Travels, volume iii of our series:
Pennsylvama-Virginia boundary line, note 31; Gallipolis, note 34. Harris's
Journal, volume iii of our series: Putnam, note 1. Cuming's Tour, volume iv
of our series: Georgetown, note 59; Steubenville, note 67; Wellsburg, note
67; Grave Creek, note 78.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
Big Yellow Creek falls into the Ohio on the north side.
A few miles up this creek there is a settlement of Scotch
Highlanders. The soil occupied by them is said to be
thin and poor.
After pulling all day against contrary winds,Fwhich, in
some straight parts of the river, raised waves that beat
upon my boat with considerable force, I lodged at the
Black Horse Tavern, on the Virginia side of the river, 63
miles from Pittsburg. The landlord told me that his
charges were, in some measure, regulated by the appearance of his guests.—Where a family seem to be poor and
clever, he does not charge any thing for their sleeping on
the floor. (By clever, he meant honest, or of a good disposition.)
The hills that bound the narrow valley of the river are of
sandstone and clay schist, with a bed of coal four or five
feet thick. People acquainted with the country, say that
the hills by the river, and by the creeks, are of a poorer
soil than those inland, which are less steep. The process
of inundation is probably the cause of the difference.
There is a wider interval between the river hills here
than in the neighbourhood of Pittsburg, and the bottoms are
of course wider; the greater part of them being on the north
side of the river.    On the south side negroes are numerous.
On the forenoon of the 31st a heavy rain fell, accompanied with loud peals of thunder.— Reverberation [78]
amongst the rocky hills and woods greatly augmented the
The margin of the river is lined with masses of sandstone of enormous size.    Others lie in the middle, with,
their rounded and scratched tops exposed above water.
All these must have been detached from the river hills.
Arrived at Steubenville, on the right bank of the Ohio.
>i 1
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
I n
This town stands on a second or higher bottom, exempt
from the inundations so unpleasant on the first or lower
plains. There are several hundred acres of this dry
ground adjacent to the town, the largest tract of the kind
that I have seen between the river and the hills.
This place is named Steubenville, from Baron Steuben,
in consideration of his philanthropic services rendered to
America, during the revolutionary war. It contains upwards of 2000 people; and it is regularly laid out, and the
houses built of brick, wood, and a few are of stone, all
covered with shingles. A newspaper is printed in the
town; it contains also a woollen manufactory, a paper-mill,
a grist-mill, and a small cotton-mill. These machines are
wrought by steam. There are also two earthenware manufactories, and a brewery in the town, four preachers, six
lawyers, five surgeons, twenty-seven shops, sixteen taverns,
two banks, and a considerable number of artisans, necessary to the existence and increase of the place.
The aspect of the river hills, by Steubenville, convey the
idea that they are better land, and not so apt to be washed
down by rains, as those in the neighbourhood of Pittsburg.
— I have had no opportunity of inquiring into the cause.
If I am not mistaken, Steubenville contains a greater
proportion of orderly and rehgious people, [79] than some
other American towns which I have seen. I entertain a
very favourable opinion of several citizens, to whom I was
November 3. After having left the town, and proceeded
about a mile down the river, Mr. Hamilton the tavern-
keeper, with whom I had lodged, came along the bank,
on horseback, calling after me. I landed, and he delivered to me an article, that I had neglected to pack up.
Passed a young man in a small skiff; he had not ballast 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
enough for keeping head against the wind, which twirled
his vessel round, and occasionally drifted him up the
stream. He put ashore, as did also a family boat, that
could not get onward.
The wind having increased, I found it expedient to
land at Wellsburgh, and wait till the gale abated. The
waves were too large for such a small bark, and, in making
the crossings necessary to keep in the proper channel, I
was in danger of exposing the broadside too much to the
Wellsburgh, (formerly Charlestown,) stands on the Virginia side of the river. It is a small town; I observed in
it a court-house, a jail, a large store-house, and several
taverns. The margin of the river is so shallow, that I
could not push my skiff within twelve feet of the dry
ground. There is no wharf or artificial landing place
here, or at any- of the towns that I have seen by the river.
The floods sweep off almost every thing that is erected
within the banks; even the roads that are scooped out of
the beach are at times destroyed. Taverns (out of town)
have only a rude foot-path cut in the bank, and many of
them have not a trace formed by the hands of man.
Afternoon. The wind calmed, and I proceeded downward. I came up with two young men in a [80] small
skiff; one of them put off his coat to row, and the other
paddled with an oar. Their intention was evidently to
keep before me, but they were soon disappointed. When
one small boat comes up with another, a sort of race is
almost invariably the consequence. I have already acted
a part in several of them, and have uniformly got foremost. On one occasion I was opposed by three men in
a smaller skiff than my own. I impute my success to the
superior construction of my vessel, and to the extraor-
fffi 104
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
dinary breadth of my oars. It has occurred to me, that
the oars in general use are much too narrow, and that by
adopting broader ones, we would avail ourselves more of
the vis inertia of the water, that of course is the sole cause
of locomotion in a vessel propelled by rowing.
On a dry bar, or island of gravel, I observed that none of
the weeds were close by the present margin of the water,
and that they were all on ground at least two feet higher
than that line, an evident proof that the surface of the water
must have been about two feet higher during the summer
months. At that time it must have been a much easier
task to descend the river.
I landed in the evening at Warren,49 a small town on
the north bank. At this place there was a pedlar's boat,
a small ark, which is removed from one town to another.
Internally it is a shop, with counter, balances, &c. around
the sides are shelves, with goods, in the usual form.
Afh. Last night the tavern had been in an uproar with
a large party of gamblers.—Their room had no door, and
that in which I slept had none, so that I heard much
swearing and loud vociferation. About four o'clock one
of the gentlemen retired from play, and laid himself down
beside me. [81] A short time afterwards another entered
the room, when the bar-keeper advised him to become a
third of our party; this he declined. The bar-keeper next
advised that he should take a part of the clothes from our
bed, and an adjoining one, and with them make a bed for
himself on the floor.—This he also declined; probably
judging that the attempt would be opposed.
This morning a contrary wind blew hard.   Immedi-
" As early as 1786 a few pioneers had established themselves at the mouth
of Indian Short Creek; but in 1805 the town was surveyed, a public sale of lots
held, and the name Warren given to it.— Er>. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
ately below the town there is a rapid current, not much
ruffled by the breeze, but a long stretch of deeper water
beyond it is rolling with waves.60 Where the waves and
the stream meet, white breakers are formed. Wishing to
avoid these as much as possible, I took a young man of
the neighbourhood with me, and availed myself of his
local knowledge.
Wheeling is a considerable town on the left bank of
the river, ninety-six miles from Pittsburg. It is expected
that the new road from Baltimore to this place will be completed in the course of a year.61 This being a national
highway, on which no tolls are to be levied, and the shortest
connection between a sea-port and the Ohio, a great increase of trade is consequently anticipated.52 Hereafter,
Baltimore will be the most proper landing place for Europeans who would settle in western America. At present
the carriage of goods from Baltimore to Wheeling is
cheaper than from Philadelphia to Pittsburg. From this
it is evident, that the new route is already the shortest and
the cheapest.
About four and a half miles below Wheeling, I was sur-
M It is interesting to note that, according to the Moravian missionary John
Heckewelder, the Ohio River received its name from the white caps which often
made canoe-travelling temporarily impossible. When it was covered with white
caps the Indians would say "Kitschi ohio-peekhaune," which means "verily
this is a deep white river.'' See '' Names which the Lenni Lenape or Delaware
Indians . . . had given to Rivers, Streams, etc.,'' in American Philosophical
Society Transactions, new series, iv, pp. 369, 370. The commonly accepted
derivation, that given by La Salle and the early French explorers, is that
"Ohio" is an Iroquois word, meaning "beautiful river."— Ep.
a The Cumberland National Road was completed to the Ohio (Wheeling, West
Virginia) in this year (1818).— Ed.
a Being a national highway no tolls were originally levied on the Cumberland Road; this being, however, a most logical method of raising money for the
necessary repairs, the road was ceded to the states through which it ran (1830-
35), and the latter erected toll-gates and levied tolls.— Ed
' M io6
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
prised at hearing the river making a great noise, The Pittsburg navigator not giving any notice of a rapid, and
as a thick fog prevented me from seeing the cause, I went
on shore to reconnoitre. Before reaching the place from
whence [82] the noise proceeded, a boy informed me that
a great fresh (flood) in M'Mahon's Creek, happened last
summer, at a time when the Ohio was low, and that it had
carried earth and trees from the bottom land, together
with a house and a family, into the river. The devastation produced by this torrent is truly astonishing. It has
cut a great chasm through the bottom land, which is about
twenty-five feet high, and scooped it out many feet lower
than the surface of the Ohio. A large bar, that in some
measure dams the river, has large trees intermixed with
it; their roots and branches standing above the water.
This is the obstacle and cause that occasion the noisy
The last tavern that we passed here, had no sign-board.
In consequence of which I supposed it to be a private
house, and, after sailing several miles down the river, was
obliged to put ashore, when nearly dusk, at a farm-house
about nine miles below Wheeling.
November 5. The family with whom I lodged last
night, seem to be industrious and well disposed. Two
daughters were busily engaged in tailor work for the males.
This, they said, is a common practice in the country.
They also told me of a young lady of the neighbourhood,
who had just gone to the house of her bridegroom, to make
his marriage suit. As this occurrence was told with some
degree of disapprobation, it is not to be viewed as in unison with the manners of the people.
Twelve miles and a half below Wheeling, and a quarter
of a mile from the river, on the left-hand side, there is a 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
remarkable mound of earth, called the Big Grave. This
hill is about sixty-seven feet high, a hundred and eighty
feet broad at the base, and about twenty-two feet broad
at the top, which is a little hollow. Some have supposed
that the earth [83] has been brought from a distance; but,
as something similar to a ditch is to be seen on one side
of it, and as the neighbouring surface is uneven, there can
be no strong reason to warrant the conclusion. Several
fallen trees on the sides, (for it is covered with a strong
growth of timber,) have exposed the component earth,
which is a fine vegetable soil. It is not known that the
present Indian people perform such works, nor is it believed that their traditions inculcate veneration towards
these monuments; hence their origin is perfectly obscure.
On the right-hand side of the river, and about four miles
below Grave Creek, a bed of coal is wrought. It lies in a
horizontal position, and under high-water mark. Boats
take in lading close by the mouth of the mine.
Lodged at a tavern thirty-four miles from Wheeling,
after rowing against head-winds, which rendered the work
somewhat fatiguing. In the evening a number of young
men came in from a husking of Indian corn in the neighbourhood; they commenced drinking and swearing, all
bawling out and talking at once. Such noisy gabbling I
never before heard.
November 6. To-day I got into a long stretch of the
river, where it is straight for seventeen miles. This part
is called the Long Reach.58 The wind blew upward, and
opposed a rolling surface to my progress. The labour
was hard, but the headway very small; family boats have
been obliged to land.    I saw some young men^in a canoe
BSee list of Americanisms, post, pp. 289-290; also Croghan's Journals,
volume i of our series, note 96.— Ed. I11
m\ i.
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
who had just killed a deer in the act of crossing the
Lodgedat a tavern about half way down the long Reach.
Two old women, (sisters,) were there, one was in quest of
her husband, and the other of her daughter. The uncle
is forty-five years of age, and the niece sixteen. Affinity
and disparity of [84] age united, have not been sufficient to
prevent the elopement.
From Wheeling to near this place, coal, limestone, and
sandstone are abundant.
In my passage, I have seen twenty-five islands. Some
of them are of considerable size; the second below Pittsburg is six miles long. Islands being covered with timber,
varying in size from the shortest willows by the water's
edge, to tall trees in the centre, have a beautiful appearance when viewed from the river either above or below
them. I have descended twenty-two ripples. In a few
of these, the stranger is apt to feel a considerable anxiety
from being swept hastily along amongst logs, with their
tops above water, and over stones and logs sunk beneath
its surface.
November 7. The inconvenience and expense that
attend putting my baggage ashore every night, and on
board every morning, are great. Tavern-keepers' servants
are usually of their own families. Freemen in early life,
they, in many cases, disregard the parental command,
however reasonable. If I mistake not, the assistance
which I paid dearly for, was sometimes procured by my
own address rather than a sense of duty on their part.
Although I am now a good waterman, and outsail every
vessel I see, I resolved to adopt a more convenient,
though less expeditious way of travelling.
I applied to the master of a large keel boat, on its way w*
1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
for Portsmouth, at the mouth of great Sciota river, to be
taken on board. He refused to take me as a passenger,
but was willing to accept of me on condition that I would
row in the place of a man who was about to leave him.
I agreed to work; for in my skiff I wrought very hard. I
changed my place, but did not improve my condition.
[85] Keel boats are large shallow vessels, varying from
thirty to seventy tons burden. They are built on a keel
with ribs, and covered with plank, as ships are. They
are very flat below, and draw only about two feet of water.
The gunwales are about a foot above water. Something
like a large box is raised over the boat, which serves for a
cover, leaving a narrow footpath on the outside all around.
Four or six men row near the prow, and a steersman behind plies a long oar, which serves for a rudder.
November 8. {Sunday?) The provisions of this and
another boat in company were nearly exhausted, and a
supply was expected at Marietta. Sailing appeared to
be a work of necessity; but, independent of the exigency,
the boats would probably have moved on. Sailing on the
Sabbath is as common here as at sea. A boatman commenced a song, and was interrupted by a Scots rustic.
The American alleged that he was in a "land of liberty"
and that no one had a right to interfere. The other
affirmed that it was against law, and threatened to prevent the violation in the most summary way. The boatman, perceiving that he was to be assailed by a stronger
man than himself, gave up the contest. Every one present
seemed well pleased with this termination of the affair.
November 9. Marietta is beautifully situated on a fine
green bottom, immediately above the mouth di the Great
Muskingum river. There are many good brick and frame
houses in the town;   a church, and an academy, which are
ml Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
both called fine buildings. The ferry-boat that crosses
the Muskingum is attached by wheels to a strong rope
stretched across the river, to which the boat is moored
obliquely, so that it is forced across by the [86] action of
the stream. Marietta is subject to inundations. I observed high water mark on the plaster of a room in the
tavern, about four and a half feet above the floor.
The first settlement formed by the United States in the
territory north-west of the Ohio, was effected by General
Putnam, and forty-six other persons, on the 7th of April,
1788, on the ground where Marietta now stands.
10. This day we met a family boat sailing up the river.
We convinced them of their mistake, which happened in
the following way. The people went under the roof to
avoid a shower, and during their stay, the vessel turned
round. They came out, and rowed till they had retrograded about two miles.
Our way of passing the night was simple. We put
ashore, and tied the boat to a log or stake; took in firewood, which was plentiful all along the banks; made a
fire for cooking, in a large box filled with earth, placed on
the roof, and slept under the cover in our clothes, wrapped
in a blanket. In the morning we lost no time in dressing,
having only to loosen our cable, and get under weigh.
In times of high water, sailing by night is considered safe
and agreeable, very little rowing being necessary.
On the nth we went down Letart's rapids, a very
violent run.54 The boat rushed through with great velocity. There is a floating grist and saw mill here, which
I visited.   The whole is buoyant on a large flat shallow
M Letart's Rapids, at a bend in the Ohio about twenty-five miles above Galli-
polis, are but a slight hindrance to navigation. See Thwaites, On the Storied
Ohio, pp. 113-117, for a recent description.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
vessel, moored in the current. The effective head of
water is about twenty inches high. The water-wheel is
twelve feet in diameter, and eighteen feet broad. The
millstone is about thirty-eight inches in diameter, and
[87] makes a hundred and twenty revolutions in the
We came up with a family boat, the people in which
had killed a deer. These animals often cross the river
of their own accord; and frequently to elude the pursuit of
The days are warm, reminding me of the month of
August in Scotland; the mornings and evenings are cool.
The ranges of hills that bound the view on both sides of
the river are composed of horizontal strata of the coal field
formation; a bed of this mineral lies at the height of fifty
or sixty feet above the level of the water. A large mass
of sandstone is above the coal. This may be observed for
many miles along the banks. The ragged, and dented
edges of the strata, have led some to suppose that the
river never acted on them; but the very contrary must
have been the case; for had the cliffs now to be seen been
exposed to the weather ever since the commencement of the
present order, their asperities, and sharp edges had been
rounded off, and smoothed, as in the case of rocks on hill
tops. The true explanation seems to be, that the river
has undermined the rocks, brought them down, and
ground them to sand, by its powerful attrition. The
undermining process has no doubt been facilitated by the
softer subjacent strata, as clay-schist, and coal. The
powerful operation of the grinding process is strongly
attested by the grooved surfaces, and the figure of the
large blocks in the bed of the stream. These are uniformly
rounded away on the end that lies farthest up the river;
H I 12
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
whereas, the end facing down the river is comparatively
flat, and usually bounded by sharp edges.
[88] November 13. Passed the mouth of Kanha-
way river. Here stands a small town called Point Pleasant.    The name is appropriate, and descriptive of the site.
From the springs of Kanhaway river, a great supply of
salt is procured for the western country.
We landed at Galliopolis in Ohio State. The town
stands on a high bank above the reach of the river. The
name was given by a colony of a hundred French families,
which settled here twenty-five years ago. They purchased
from a Company, whose original charter stipulated, that
the tract should be inhabited by a certain number of settlers, within a specified period of time. The condition was
not fulfilled; the land reverted to the government, and the
colony was dispossessed of its new establishment.
14. The wind was violent, obliging us to remain on
shore for three hours. We moved again, and stopped
after dark, about a mile above the mouth of Big Guyandat
river, where some ripples commence.
15. {Sunday.) A strong contrary wind blew. No
boat could move downward. But we saw several keel
boats carrying sail, that enabled them to stem the ripples
without manual labour. It is the wind, and not the day,
that is reverenced here.
On the morning of the 16th, we moved downward. We
saw a man fire a shot at a flock of wild turkeys. These
fowl were so far from being coy, that they flew only a little
way, and alighted again, on the trees.
Passed Big Sandy river, which comes in on the left hand
side, and forms part of the boundary line between Virginia and Kentucky. In the evening we stopped below
Fergusson's Bar, having sailed [89] thirty-one miles in the 1818-1820]       Flint's Letters from America
course of the day,—a great space, considering the lowness
of the water.
On the 17th, we arrived at Portsmouth, a well built
town. It has a county court house, a newspaper office, a
woollen manufactory, a number of stores, (shops,) and
several good taverns. Having resolved on travelling a
little way inland from the river, I immediately put my
baggage on board a boat for Limestone, in Kentucky,
addressed to a commission merchant there. Limestone is
fifty-one miles from this place, and four hundred and forty-
one miles from Pittsburg, by the river.
It gives me much pleasure to be relieved from the company of boatmen. I have seen nothing in human form so
profligate as they are. Accomplished in depravity, their
habits and education seem to comprehend every vice.
They make few pretensions to moral character; and their
swearing is excessive, and perfectly disgusting. Although
earning good wages, they are in the most abject poverty;
many of them being without any thing like clean or comfortable clothing. I have seen several whose trousers
formed the whole of their wardrobe, and whose bodies were
scorched to a brown colour by the rays of the sun. They
are extremely addicted to drinking. Indeed I have frequently seen them borrowing of one another a few cents
to quench their insatiable thirst, and in several instances
refusing to repay them. The Scotsman recently alluded to
missed a knife. On his accusing them of the theft, a degraded wretch offered to buy the fork.
My next letter will contain the particulars of a journey
in the States of Ohio and Kentucky.
m Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
Leave Portsmouth — Digression on economical Travelling — Salt - springs — Piketon — Chillicothe — Progress of a Scotch Family — Game — Forest Trees and
Shrubs — Rolled pieces of Primitive Rocks dispersed
over a Country of the Secondary Formation — Agricultural Implements — Antiquities — Bainbridge — Middletown — Organic Remains — Town of Limestone —
Washington — May6 Lick — Licking River — Millers-
burg— Paris — Notice of the Missouri and Illinois
Countries — Paper Currency — Cut Coin — Remarks
ILexington, Kentucky, Nov. 29, 1818.
On the 18th current I left Portsmouth, on the north bank
of the Ohio, for Chillicothe, which is situated on the Great
Scioto river, forty-five miles from Portsmouth by land, and
about seventy by following the meanders of the Scioto.
The Scotsman twice alluded to in my last letter, was also
bound for Chillicothe, and we set out together. He gave
me the following account of his economy in travelling.
The owner of the boat which we had just left, engaged him
to work his passage from Pittsburg to Portsmouth without
wages, except having his trunk carried to the latter place,
artfully telling, that the passage would be completed in
nine days. It turned out that twenty-one days elapsed,
before the boat reached her destination. Had he, in the
first place, hired himself as a boatman, he might have got
seventy-five cents per day, and might have had his trunk
carried for a dollar; and thus a profit of fourteen dollars
and [91] seventy-five cents would have been made. On
his journey from Philadelphia to Pittsburg, he managed
better. He travelled along with the waggon that carried
his trunk; the waggon also carrying his provisions. In
this way he was never obliged to enter a tavern except at 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
night, when he slept in his own bed-clothes. His bed was
a low one, but he had always the satisfaction of knowing
that it was clean, and that he was exempted from having a
bed-fellow intruded upon him. It is true that by travelling
alone, he might have reached Pittsburg about a week
sooner; but he would have arrived there without clean
clothes, and incurred the payment of a week's board,
while waiting the arrival of his trunk.
Having made a digression on economical travelling, I
am led to make some further remarks on it. The subject
is highly interesting to emigrants whose funds are scanty,
as every dollar parted with may be, in effect, giving up
half an acre of uncultivated land. A steerage passenger
pays only about half the freight that is charged for a passage in the cabin of a ship; and, when he lays in his own
provisions, he has it in his power to be nearly as comfortable as a sea voyage can permit. In the American port,
the cabin passenger is sometimes subjected to delay in
entering his baggage at the custom-house, and getting the
taxable part valued, whereas the steerage passenger has
his goods entered by the captain, and is allowed to proceed on his journey without loss of time. Baltimore
being the most convenient landing place for Europeans
who intend to settle in the western country, those who
arrive at New York, Boston, or other northern ports, will
have a saving by re-shipping for the Chesapeake. Strangers ought to be careful in ascertaining what sloop is to sail
first. By putting goods aboard of a wrong vessel, a delay
for a [92] week or so may be occasioned. Having sent
my own baggage round the Capes, from New York to
Philadelphia, I had an opportunity of observing that several skippers, at the same time, affirmed, that his own
vessel would sail first.   Liverpool is the principal resort,
1 ffi:
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
in Britain, of ships for Baltimore. I conceive that it is unimportant to the emigrant, whether he reaches the latter
place in an American coasting vessel, or by sailing an
equal distance to Liverpool, along the coast of Britain.
We stopped at a tavern, four miles from Portsmouth,
and had breakfast. The landlord told us, that bears and
wolves are still numerous in the uncleared hills; that they
devour many hogs and sheep; and that he heard wolves
howling within a few yards of his house, on the preceding
night. His sheep had run off, and he did not know in
which direction to search for them.
About nine miles from Portsmouth, the saline nature
of a spring is indicated by the ground being much trodden
by the feet of cattle. The water is slightly brackish, and
is not worth the expense of evaporation. Salt is manufactured, in considerable quantity, a few miles to the
Salt springs are called licks, from cattle and deer
resorting to them to drink of the water, or to lick the concrete salt deposited on the rocks or stones, by the evaporation of the atmosphere. Riflemen also resort to the licks,
in the night, to shoot the deer, which are so numerous in
this neighbourhood, that they are sold at a dollar each.
The lower and richer lands are all entered, (appropriated by individuals,) but the higher and poorer, a considerable portion of which is too steep for the plough,
remains as public property in the market. The time for
cultivating them is not yet come. I must remark that
the hilly, or what is here called [93] broken land, has many
fertile spots, and that the comparative salubrity of such
parts of the country forms a very strong recommendation to them. Coal and limestone are not known within
eight or nine miles of this part of Scioto river. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
We lodged at Piketon,65 the head town of the new county
Pike, so called in memory of General Pike, who, to the
character of the enterprizing explorer of Mexico, added
that of the brave soldier. Three years ago there were
five houses here, now there are about a hundred.
November 19. We could not procure a breakfast at a
tavern where we called, because the family had a sick
At the next tavern, breakfast was prepared for some
labourers on the farm; but there was not enough of bread
baked, to admit of our taking breakfast along with them.
We were told that if we chose to wait for two hours, we
might eat.— We went onward.
After travelling several miles, we arrived at a third
tavern; here, too, the bread was not prepared; but the
people were obliging, and made it ready for us in a short
time. The landlord was a farmer. He told us that
Indian corn sells at twenty-five cents (is. 1 j4d. English)
per bushel, and that he could procure twenty thousand
bushels of it within three miles of his house. This
appeared to be somewhat surprising, on considering that
the cleared grounds form only small detached parcels,
when compared with the intervening woods.— Wheat sells
at seventy-five cents (3s. 4j^d. English) per bushel. This
sort of crop is, at present, more profitable than Indian
corn, as in most cases it yields more than a third part by
measure; it does not require to be cleared of weeds; and
is more easily carried to market. The predominance of
crops of [94] Indian corn is occasioned by the ease with
which it is disposed of in feeding hogs and other stock,
"Piketown, first settled about 1796 by pioneers from Pennsylvania and
Virginia, and laid out about 1814, is on the Scioto River sixty-four miles south
of Columbus, and about thirty miles from the Ohio.— Ed.
m m :.%ki
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
and, perhaps, in some degree, by prejudice. The bottoms are wide, and their soil rich. They are often inundated by the Scioto and its numerous branches, the water
leaving great quantities of logs, and other vegetable matter,
to be decomposed on the surface of the ground. These
facts convince us that the situation is not healthy, notwithstanding the affirmations we heard to the contrary;
and we were the more fully persuaded of this, as we saw
a young man pale and meagre, in consequence of an
attack of the ague.
We came to a saw-mill near Paint Creek.66 A woman
asked us how we proposed to get across the run. She
told us that there was neither bridge nor boat; and that
the water would reach up to our middle. She told us
further, that travellers commonly hire a creature (a horse)
at her house. We ordered one, and her husband followed
us with it. At the Creek, we discovered that the water
was shallow. Some of our party, (now increased to five,)
indignant at the hoax, waded the stream. The water
did not reach to the knee.
Chillicothe,67 (formerly the seat of government, in the
State of Ohio, now transferred to Columbus,) is situated
on an extensive high plain, in a great bend of the Scioto,
which here varies from one hundred to one hundred and
fifty yards in breadth. The town has a court-house, an
academy, two places of worship, two printing offices, that
publish a weekly newspaper each, a woollen manufactory,
a cotton manufactory, a grist-mill wrought by steam, a
brewery, a tannery, a variety of merchants' shops, several
taverns,  and three banks.    One of the last establish-
*• Paint Creek, a stream about sixty miles long, empties into the Scioto from
the west, five miles below Chillicothe.— Ed.
87 For a brief description of Chillicothe, see F. A. Michaux's Travels, volume
iii of our series, note 35.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
ments has its door [95] shut. There is a good wooden
bridge across the river, near the town.
November 20. I crossed Paint Creek, by the road
toward Limestone.68 The bottoms are rich, but the
greater part of them uncleared. The cattle of this neighbourhood are better than those I have seen by the river
Ohio, and in the western parts of Pennsylvania. It is not
here, however, that the fine droves formerly noticed are
reared. These must have come from the more northerly
part of the State, where the grass on the prairies (lands
without timber) is said to be abundant. All accounts
that I have heard of these prairies, say, that they are wet,
and unfavourable to health. The ease with which settlements are formed on them, and the facility for rearing
cattle, are, however, attracting many settlers.
Visited a Scotch family about thirteen miles from Chillicothe. They settled here twelve years ago. Their farm
consists of three hundred acres of first and second rate
land; of which seventy acres are cleared and fenced. They
have met with two misfortunes; either of which, they
think, would have finally arrested their progress in Scotland. They bought a bad title to their land; it being part
of an old military grant,59 and omitted to see it traced back
to the government.    In addition to this, their house, with
** Flint travelled from Chillicothe to Limestone over Zane's Trace. For an
account of this road, see Cuming's Tour, volume iv of our series, note 135.— Ed.
** The Virginia Military District, reserved by that state when she ceded her
possessions north of the Ohio River to the United States Government, was a
triangular tract, with the Ohio River shore between Little Miami and Scioto
rivers as its base, and the apex at the sources of the Huron River. Large portions were given as bounty lands to Virginia soldiers of the Revolution; the remainder was ceded to the Federal Government in 1852. In 1871 the government retroceded this district to the state of Ohio, which, in turn, donated it to
Ohio State University. See Hinsdale, Old Northwest (New York, 1888),
p. 292.— Ed.
1 120
Early Western Travels
most of their moveables, was burnt. They have now surmounted these losses; and are in better circumstances
than at any former period. It is astonishing to see how
much this family have adopted the manners and customs
of the Americans. The father, who is seventy-five years
of age, has almost entirely laid aside the peculiarities of
his native provincial dialect. Nothing but the broad
pronunciation of the vowel A remains. The son [96] has
acquired the dialect of the country perfectly; and has
adopted the American modes of farming; is a good axeman, and is in every respect identified with the people.
During the late war, he was out on a campaign, on the
frontier of Canada. This absence must have been
extremely painful to the father, who lost an amiable son
in the fight with the Indians, at Tippacanoe, in 1811.60
Religious and patriotic views seem to have supported
this worthy old man under every discouragement.
November 21. I made an excursion into the woods.
A few deer and wild turkeys remain. Squirrels are very
numerous. They are of the grey and black varieties: also
of the striped or ground species. The two former are
much larger than the English squirrel, and are ate in
America. Some people esteem them as equal to chickens.
Quails are abundant: they are smaller than partridges,
and are so tame that the report of a gun, and the destruction of a part of the covey, do not always make them take
flight. It is a common practice to drive whole families of
them into nets. Rabbits are not plentiful; they lodge in
the hollows of fallen trees; and are not understood to burrow in the ground. The only fox that I have seen, was
of a small size, and of a light grey colour.    It does not
*° For a brief account of the battle of Tippecanoe, see Evans's Tour, volume
viii of our series, note 131.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
require a thick population to exterminate bears, deer, and
turkeys. The beaver is destroyed by the first hunters
who invade the forests; and the buffalo retreats into more
remote sobtudes, almost on the first approach of white
The woods are principally composed of Quercus,
(Alba,) White Oak; (Tinctoria,) Black Oak; (Coccinea,)
Red Oak; (Primus accuminata,) Chesnut Oak; Platanus,
(Occidentalis,) Sycamore; Fagus, (Ferruginea,) Beech;
Acer, (Saccharinum,) [97] Maple, (sugar tree;) Fraxinus,
(Americana,) Ash; Juglans, (Nigra,) Walnut, (black;)
(Alba ovata,) Hickory; Laurus, (Sassafras,) Sassafras;
Cornus (Florida,) Dogwood; Fagus, (Castanea,) Chesnut;
Liriodendron, (Tulipefera,) Poplar; Ulmus, (Americana,)
Slippery Elm; (Mollifolia,) White Elm; Vitus, (Labrusea,)
Fall Grape; (Serotina,) Winter Grape.
Amongst the shrubs, or underwood, the following may
be noticed as prevalent:
Rhus, (Glabrum,) Sumach; Laurus, (Benzoin,) Spice-
wood; Rubus, (Fructicosus,) Blackberry; (Hispidus,) Running do.; Annona, (Glabra,) Papaw.
The prevalent strata are of slate clay, bituminous shale,
and sandstone. Coal is not known, and probably has not
been sought after. Rolled pieces of the latter mineral,
and of granite, gneiss, quartz, and flint slate, are mixed
with the sandy gravel of the streams. Dr. Drake01 has
pointed out a situation in this State, where large detached
a Dr. Daniel Drake, a native of Plainfield, New Jersey, whose boyhood was
spent in Kentucky, came to Cincinnati in 1800 to study medicine. Graduating
from the University of Pennsylvania in 1816, he interested himself in establishing the Ohio Medical College, at Cincinnati, and became its first president.
From that time until his death in 1852, he was connected with some medical
college, either in Ohio or Kentucky. In addition to his writings on medical
subjects, he published (1815) the book several times mentioned by Flint, Pictures of Cincinnati and the Miami Country.— Ed.
m l\';
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
masses of granite lie over strata of secondary limestone;
and has conjectured that they have been brought from
the primitive country north of the lakes, by the agency
of water passing from north to south. This hypothesis is
countenanced by the vast quantities of alluvial soil which
lie far above the level of the present river, and by the
almost total absence of primitive rocks, between the eastern side of the Allegany ridge, and the sources of the
Missouri.. The only exception known is the tract between
Lakes Ontario and Champlain,— a field so narrow that
we cannot view it as the probable source of fragments
profusely scattered over the States of Ohio, Indiana,
Illinois and Kentucky.
In this part of Ohio State, first and second rate lands
sell at four or five dollars per acre. The richest ground is
in bottoms: the hilly has many [98] parts not accessible to the plough. Buildings are most commonly erected
on rising grounds. Such situations are believed to be
most salubrious, and abound most in good springs.
Farming establishments are small. Most cultivators
do every thing for themselves, even to the fabrication of
their agricultural implements. Few hire others permanently, it being difficult and expensive to keep labourers
for any great length of time. They are not servants, all
are hired hands: Females are averse to dairy, or menial
employments. The daughters of the most numerous
families continue with their parents. There is only one
way of removing them. This disposition is said to prevail over almost the whole of the United States. A manufacturer at Philadelphia told me, that he had no difficulty
in finding females to be employed in his work-shop; but
a girl for house-work he could not procure for less than
twice the manufacturing wages.    Some of the children of 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
the more necessitous families are bound out to labour for
other people. The Scotch family, recently mentioned,
have a boy and a girl living with them in this way. The
indenture of the boy expires when he is twenty-one years
of age; that of the girl at eighteen. They are clothed and
educated at the expense of the employer. The boy, at
the expiry of his contract, is to have a horse and saddle,
of value at least 100 dollars; and the girl at the end of her
engagement, is to have a bedding of clothes. It is said,
that a law of the State of Ohio, forbids females to live in
the houses of unmarried men.
The utensils used in agriculture are not numerous.
The plough is short, clumsy, and not calculated to make
either deep or neat furrows. The harrow is triangular;
and is yoked with one of its angles forward, that it may
be less apt to take hold [99] of the stumps of trees in the
way. Light articles are carried on horseback, heavy
ones by a coarse sledge, by a cart, or by a waggon. The
smaller implements are the axe, the pick-axe, and the
cradle-scythe; by far the most commendable of back
wood apparatus.
The figure [page 125] is descriptive of the cradle scythe.
AEGB is the shaft. In working, it is held by the left hand
with the thumb upward, near A; while the right hand holds
the cross handle at H. BD is a post, making an angle of
about 78 degrees with the straight line AB. Into this
post the five wooden ribs, or fingers, MN, OP, QR, ST,
and UV, are fixed. These are round pieces of tough
wood, of a curvature resembling that of the back of the
blade, as nearly as possible. They are upwards of half
an inch in diameter; and are pointed at the extremities
MOQSU. FG is another post, fixed in the shaft, parallel
to BD, and about seven inches distant from it.   ED is a
i 11
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
thin piece of wood, let into the shaft at E, for retaining
the posts BD, FG, in their positions. IK is a small round
post that passes through the fingers at the distance of ten
inches from the post BD. This small post passes through
broad parts of the fingers, which are left so for the sake
of strength, and its lower ends stands on the blade at K.
The blade is such as is used in cutting hay; but the point
is allowed to stand about nine inches farther out from the
handle than the grass scythe. At L is a small iron bolt,
rivetted into, the blade, near its back; the top of this bolt
passes through the lower finger, and is furnished with a
hand-screw, which holds the finger down, so that its point
shall remain within about half an inch of the blade. The
points of the fingers MOQSU are in a straight line, but
recline backward, so that the upper finger is about five
inches shorter than the under one. Between [ioo] the
posts IK, and FG, are five small connecting stays of iron.
Figure 2 is a separate plan of one of the iron stays, shewing the manner in which it is fixed to the upright bars or
posts. AB is a part of the finger; C the hole through
which the small post (IK of the former figure) passes;
and D is the post FG of the former figure. EF is the iron
stay; it is about one-sixth of an inch in diameter; and it
is thin and crooked near the end E, where it is fastened to
the finger by two small nails. From G to F the stay is
a small screw. At K, is a female hand-screw that bears
against D. At H, is a nut, also bearing against the post D.
By this screw the finger is firmly kept in its proper place.
The fingers are five inches apart, measuring from the
centre of the one to that of the other. The shaft of the
scythe is five feet long, and the whole of the parts are as
light as is consistent with strength.
[101]   November 22.    About a mile distant from the 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
house where I lodged, the woods were on fire. It was
supposed that the conflagration had been begun by some
mischievous person, who had kindled the dry leaves, now
strewed over the ground. In the evening, the glare of
light extending along a ridge for a mile and a half, was
astonishingly grand. Large decayed trees were converted into luminous columns of fire; when these fell the
crashing noise was heard within doors. Fires in the
woods usually excite alarm in their neighbourhood. People
watch them by night, their rail fences and wooden habitations being in danger.
Some parts of this neighbourhood were purchased twelve
or fourteen years ago. Then proximity to Chillicothe was
little regarded. The increased population and trade of
the town has now made it the market of almost every dis- Itt$
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
posable product. The lands near that place are consequently much increased in value, and town lots sell at
high prices.
November 23. I again resumed my way for Limestone.
By the road side are many conical mounds of earth, called
Indian graves. About a mile east of Bainbridge is a large
camp.82 The ditch is in every part visible. One side is
inclosed by a bend of Paint Creek, where the opposite
bank forms high and strong ground. I conjectured that
the fort contained nearly one hundred acres. It is not
understood that the aborigines have constructed any such
works since Europeans became acquainted with them. It
is therefore a natural inference, that the country must
have been antecedently inhabited by a more civilized and
more powerful people.
From Bainbridge to Middletown the land is hilly; a
small portion of it is cleared, and it is much less [102] fertile than the grounds by the river Scioto, and Paint Creek.
November 24. The ground west of Middletown is of
clay, with a mixture of siliceous particles, and the oxide
of iron. Wheat is the most prevalent crop. The health
enjoyed on these high lands, is an ample compensation
for the lack of a few bushels. Wheat sells at a dollar per
bushel; Indian com at thirty-three one-third cents; beef
and pork at four cents a-pound; labourer's wages, fifty
cents; joiners, a dollar, with provisions.
2$th. At ten miles from Limestone, the soil is good,
but broken with irregularities of surface. There was a
little frost in the morning, but the forenoon was warm.
I observed several insects of the genus Vanessa, (painted
m The remains of the mound-building Indians on Paint Creek, near Bainbridge, are among "the largest works in the Scioto valley." See Fowke,
Archaeological History of Ohio (Columbus, 1902), p. 206; see also Cuming's
Tour, volume iv of our series, note 76.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
1 27
butterflies,) flying about in full vigour. The autumn is
said to be fine, almost beyond former example.
Near the river Ohio the soil is light, but much broken
on the surface by funnel-shaped hollows, not unlike those
where the sides of coal-pits have fallen in. These inverted
cones are evidently excavated by the infiltration of water,
and indicate that the strata abounds with large fissures
or caverns.
In travelling over the last forty miles, limestone is the
only stratified mineral that I have seen. It lies in a position nearly horizontal, and is literally conglomerated with
organic remains. Amongst these, the most remarkable
is a species of terebratula, which is very abundant, and
varies from the size of a walnut to that of a pin's head. In
addition to the concentric striated character, so frequent
amongst bivalve shells, it has large radiated grooves; the
grooves on one valve opposite to ridges on the other. The
superior margin is, of course, a zig-zag line, resembling
the base of [103] polyhedral crystals, where the sides of
one pyramid are set on the angles of another.
For some days past I have found the expense of travelling to be uniformly three shillings and elevenpence farthing per day.
Limestone, sometimes called Maysville,*8 is a considerable landing place on the Kentucky side of the river Ohio.
The houses stand above the level of the highest floods.
There is a rope-walk, a glass-house, several stores and
taverns, and a bank, in the town.
On the 26th, I left Limestone by the road for Lexington, which is sixty-four miles distant.   The roads, hitherto
43 For notes on the following places, see A. Michaux's Travels, volume iii of
our series: Limestone, note 23; Paris, note 29. F. A. Michaux's Travels, volume
iii of our series: Washington, note 37; May's Lick, note 38; Millersburg, note
38.    Cuming's Tour, volume iv of our series:   Blue Licks, note 117.— Ed. 128
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
scorched by drought, were in a few minutes rendered wet
and muddy by a heavy shower of rain. The roads in
this western country are of the natural soil.
The high grounds every where seen from the river, are
called the river hills; they are in reality banks, the ground
inland of them being high. To the south of Limestone
it is a rich table land, diversified by gentle slopes and
moderate eminences.
At four miles from Limestone is Washington, the seat
of justice in Mason County. The town is laid out on a
large plan, but is not thriving.
May's Lick is a small village, twelve miles from Limestone. A rich soil, and a fine undulated surface, unite
in forming a neighbourhood truly delightful. The most
florid descriptions of Kentucky have never conveyed to
my mind an idea of a country naturally finer than this.
I lodged at a tavern twenty miles from Limestone.
Before reaching that place the night became dark and
the rain heavy. As the tops of the trees overhung the
road, I had no other indication than the miry feel of the
track, to prevent me from wandering into the woods.
[104] November 27. Crossed the river Licking in a
boat, at a small town called Blue Licks, from the springs
in its neighbourhood, from which great quantities of salt
were formerly procured. The adjoining timber is exhausted, and the salt-works are abandoned.
After coming to a flooded creek, where there was neither
bridge nor boat, I waited a few minutes for the mail
coach. The road is in several parts no other than the
rocky bed of the stream. It also crosses the same creek
four or five times. After riding a few miles, I left the
coach. There is no great degree of comfort in travelling
by this vehicle; stowed full of people, baggage, and letter 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
bags; the jolting over stones, and through miry holes, is
excessively disagreeable: and the traveller's head is sometimes knocked against the roof with much violence. A
large piece of leather is let down over each side, to keep
out the mud thrown up by the wheels. The front was
the only opening, but as the driver and two other persons
occupied it, those behind them were almost in total darkness.   A peep at the country was not to be obtained.
Millersburg is a very small town, with several large
grist-mills and a bank.
To-day I have seen a number of young women on
horseback, with packages of wool, going to, or returning
from, the carding machine. At some of the houses the
loom stands under a small porch by the door. Although
Miss does not wear the produce of her own hands, it is
pleasant to see such abundant evidence of family manufacture.
I lodged at Paris, the head town of Bourbon county.
A cotton-mill, and some grist-mills, are the manufactories
of the place. The population is considerable. Several
of the taverns are large, and, like many of the others in
the western country, [105] have bells on the house-tops,
which are rung at meals.
A traveller has just returned from attending the sales
of public lands in the Missouri country.— They are
exposed by auction, in quarter sections of 160 acres each.
A considerable part of them sold at from three to six
dollars per acre. Lots, not sold at auction, may be subsequently bought at the land-office for two dollars per
acre, on paying half a dollar in ready money, and the
remainder within five years. Land dealers are very
vigilant in securing for themselves great quantities of the
best land.   It is not uncommon for reconnoitring parties
11 i3°
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
of them to lodge in the woods for a whole week. By
such means much of the best land, mill-seats, and other
local advantages, are withdrawn from the market at the
first public sales. This gentleman describes the Missouri
country as one possessing a fine climate, and containing
many extensive prairies of a rich soil, but destitute of
timber and stone. The most advantageous purchases
are considered to be those on the edges of prairies, with a
part of the open land, and a part of the woods. Many
of the settlers that I have seen by the river, and elsewhere, were on their way for the Missouri territory. The
Illinois country, according to the account given by this
traveller, is a very unhealthy one. He travelled twenty
days in that State, and on his return home, found that
many of the people were afflicted with bilious fevers and
agues. He affirmed that he had seen more sick people
during these twenty days than during the whole of his
preceding life in Kentucky. Other reports corroborate
his statement, so that there can be no doubt that the
autumn has been a sickly one in that low country.
[106] The best taverns in town charge higher than
those in the country, where accommodation is inferior.
At Paris I paid 62^ cents (2s. 9^d. English) for supper
and lodgings.
In this western country there is a great diversity of
paper money.64 Small bills are in circulation of a half,
a fourth, an eighth, and even a sixteenth part of a dollar.
These small rags are not current at a great distance from
64 The supply of specie in the Western country had always been inadequate.
Until the numerous state banks began to flood the country with paper money,
about the second decade of the century, barter was regularly employed. Flint
was in the West when the financial stringency that followed the War of 1812-15
was beginning to be felt in that region, and the reaction against the worthless state banks had set in. See post; also McMaster, History of the United
States, iv, pp. 484-487.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
the places of their nativity. A considerable proportion
of the little specie to be seen is of what is called cut money.
— Dollars cut into two, four, eight, or sixteen pieces.
This practice prevents such money from being received
in banks, or sent out of the country in the character of
coin, and would be highly commendable were it not for
the frauds committed by those who clip the pieces in
reserving a part of the metal for themselves.
November 28. To-day I have crossed several flooded
creeks: one by a tree which has accidentally fallen across
it, and one has a tree that has been felled intentionally for
a bridge; one I crossed on an accumulated heap of driftwood; and once by a horse, where a farmer allows a
Negro boy to derive a perquisite from carrying over
travellers.— Goods are now carried from Limestone to
Lexington for a dollar per hundred pounds weight.—
This is somewhat lower than the usual rate. Waggoners
are occasionally interrupted by flooded streams.
Between the river Ohio and Lexington, limestone is
the only rock which I have observed. Like that noticed
in Ohio State, it is crowded with organic remains. The
variety of the surface, in this part of the country, is
pleasant. The eminences are gentie swells rather than
hills, and the intervals between them are smooth, rich,
and dry [107] ground. Marshy land is scarcely to be
seen.— These are convincing marks of the excellence of
the subsoil.
i 132
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
Lexington — Depreciated Paper Currency, and Fraudulent Bankers — Excess of Paper Money destructive to
American Manufactures — Aversion to Menial Service
— Atheneum — Dirking, Gouging, Kicking, and Biting
— Prices of Live-stock — Provisions, &c.— Slavery —
Effects of Slave-keeping on the White Population —
Illiberal Reflections of British Tories against the Americans and against Free Government — Leave Lexington — Descend the Ohio to Cincinnati — Occurrences
and Reflections intermixed.
Cincinnati, Ohio, 30th Dec. 1818.
Lexington, the county town of Fayette, was the capital of the state of Kentucky, before the government was
transferred to Frankfort.85 It is situated in north latitude, 380 8', and in west longitude 8o° 8'. The town is
surrounded by a fertile and pleasant neighbourhood, and
is regularly built of brick and frame houses. It has a
university, seven places of worship, (three Presbyterian,
one Episcopalian, one Baptist, one Methodist, and one
Roman Catholic.) Three printing offices, where three
weekly newspapers are published; a branch of the United
States Bank, and two other banking houses; [108] seven
small cotton factories; two paper-mills, two woollen
factories, five rope-walks, three grist-mills, many mercantile houses, and some good taverns. The population
is supposed to be about seven thousand; but the increase
has been slow for several years past.
There is here much trouble with paper money. The
notes current in one part, are either refused, or taken at
a large discount, in another.   Banks that were creditable
•* For a brief account of the origin of Lexington, see A. Michaux's Travels,
volume iii of our series, note 28.— Ed. ii
1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
a few days ago, have refused to redeem their paper in
specie, or in notes of the United States' Bank. In Kentucky, there are two branches of the United States' Bank;
thirteen of the Kentucky bank, and a Hst of fifty independent banks, some of which are not in operation. In
the state of Ohio, there are thirty chartered banks, and a
few others which have not obtained that pernicious distinction. In Tennessee, the number of banks, including
branches, is fourteen. The total number of these establishments in the United States, could not, perhaps, be
accurately stated on any given day. The enumeration,
like the census of population, might be affected by births
and deaths. The creation of this vast host of fabricators,
and venders of base money, must form a memorable
epoch in the history of the country.— These craftsmen
have greatly increased the money capital of the nation;
and have, in a corresponding degree, enhanced the nominal value of property and labour. By lending, and
otherwise emitting, their engravings, they have contrived
to mortgage and buy much of the property of their neighbours, and to appropriate to themselves the labour of less
moneyed citizens. Proceeding in this manner, they cannot retain specie enough to redeem their bills, admitting
the gratuitous assumption that they were once possessed
of it. They [109] seem to have calculated that the whole
of their paper would not return on them in one day.
Small quantities, however, of it have, on various occasions, been sufficient to cause them to suspend specie
So long as a credulous public entertained full confidence
in the banks, bankers gave in exchange for their paper,
that of other banks, equally good with their own. The
same kind of exchanges are still offered now, when the J34
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
LB • i
people are very suspicious of the circumstances and intentions of money manufacturers; and bankers console their
creditors by professing to be as solvent as their neighbouring institutions. The holder of the paper may comply in
the barter, or keep the notes, such as they are; but he
finds it too late to be delivered from the snare. The people committed the lapsus, when they accepted of the
gew-gaws clean from the press. It is altogether surprising that the people of this country have shut their
eyes against the strongest light of experience. If they had
kept sufficiently in recollection the vast issues, and the
ultimate depreciation of continental money during their
revolutionary war, they might have effectually resisted
the late influx of paper. But the farmer, the mechanic,
and the labourer, have been, for a short time, pleased with
what was, in name, a greater price, or a greater hire. As
every necessary of life has been proportionally raised in
nominal value, they do not find that their comforts or
savings are substantially enlarged. They are in reality
diminished to the amount of the gains that have arisen
to the paper mint, and of the brokers who deal in depreciated money. The immutable maxim, that productive
labour is the true source of wealth, has been lost sight of.
Designing men [no] have availed themselves of that
apathy, and the deluded multitude have been basely
The baneful consequence of the paper system are not
confined to internal derangements here, but are extended
to every department of foreign intercourse. The merchants and manufacturers of other countries are enabled
to sell their goods, and the produce of their labour, nominally cheaper than the Americans. Imports are increased,
and a large balance of trade arises.    This must be paid in 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
specie. Foreign capitalists, who engage their funds in
American speculations, must also have the dividends, or
profits on their stock, paid in the precious metals. The
grain raised by the American farmer is sent abroad, but
the price is greatly reduced by expense and risk incurred
by a voyage, also by the profits of merchants on both
sides of the Atlantic. The cotton and the wool are sent
to Europe under similar disadvantages, and a repetition
of them in reconveying the manufactured goods to America. A few facts will set this impolicy in a strong bght.
Cotton, which now sells in the United States for a few
cents per pound, is, in certain cases, sent to England, and
returned to the wearer at nearly as many dollars. A gentleman from Mount Sterling, about thirty miles east of
this place, told me that a good coat of English manufacture, costs there thirty-six dollars. Indian corn sells at
twenty-five cents per bushel. The farmer, then, who
wears such a coat, must pay a hundred and forty-four
bushels for it,— a quantity sufficient to be bread for
twelve men for a whole year. One pound of good tea
costs twelve bushels,— bread for one man for a year. A
chemical manufacturer, at Pittsburg, buys saltpetre
imported from India, cheaper than he can procure the
spontaneous product from the [in] caverns of Kentucky.
Although most of the metallic and earthy substances,
useful in manufacture, are abundant in America, she
imports jewellery, cutlery, glass, crystal, earthen and
porcelain wares. By this means the republic discourages
her own artizans, and pays the taxes of foreign monarchies. Under the present money system it is in vain
that nature has diffused her mineral resources over the
New World. In vain will the government impose the
highest restrictive duties on imported goods, while every
M Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
crop of flax augments the imaginary money capital to a
greater extent, and while there is the smallest residuum
of specie left in the country. It would be an interesting
inquiry to find the number and the names of legislators
in the different states assemblies, who are interested in
banking concerns. The people would then see how the
power that grants chartered privileges to banks is constituted.
Although the convulsion which agitates bankers in the
western country, is but of recent date, their money is in
various instances thirty per cent, under par in the eastern states. Tavern keepers, grocers, and others, receive
the money of the banks nearest to them, although they
know that these banks will not pay specie for them. They
see that, without the rags now in circulation, they could
have very little money. Every one is afraid of bursting
the bubble. How the country is to be delivered from
this dilemma, bankers have not yet shewn. They are
still strongly inclined to continue the traffic; but they cannot be expected to support organized establishments of
directors, presidents, cashiers, clerks, offices, and empty
coffers, without committing farther spoliations on the
people. When the sick system dies, the public will see
the full amount of the penance they have to suffer [112] for
their credulity. A smaller, but a more substantial capital,
will be resorted to, one better calculated to "place the
manufacturer beside the farmer."
December 5. To-day a shower of rain fell, and was
followed by snow. The part that lies unmelted is about
an inch thick.
Among the succession of people at the tavern, many
are polite and obliging in their behaviour. Some are
interesting in their conversation, and some talk of horses 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
and horse-racing. The latter kind of discourse is mixed
with swearing.
Lexington is still considered the capital of fashion in
Kentucky. There are here many genteel families, a few
of which keep coaches. The town, on a whole, exhibits
a well-dressed population. The menials are nearly all
slaves. Free blacks detest every thing that they think
resembling their former condition. White people are
still more averse to live as hired people in families. Females, however idle, and however great their difficulties
may be, remain with their parents, till removed by that
great change that all hope for. In many cases, it is said
that their repugnance to support themselves, by the earnings of hired labour, induces them here, as in other places,
to lead a life of profligacy and ruin.
December 9. For several days past the temperature has
remained steadily a few degrees below the freezing point.
This morning the snow disappeared, and through the day,
the heat seemed to be much greater than ever I felt at
this season of the year.
12. The Atheneum, or reading-room, is much frequented. It is well furnished with newspapers, and with
the most distinguished periodical publications; scientific
journals, army and navy lists of [113] Britain; Rees'
Cyclopaedia, and some other books. Attached to the
institution is a small collection of objects in Natural History; and some articles of the dress, arms, and tools of
the Indian people. I cannot omit mentioning some particulars: — A bowl of unglazed earthen ware found along
with a mummy in a cave in Tennessee. In shape it
resembles a modern cast iron pot; and is a specimen of
manufacture superior to that executed in some of the
coarser works of the kind amongst civilized people: an
,-*! i38
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
Indian register from the west of the Mississippi, which is
cut on a small piece of white marble. The subject of it
is a record of their wars. Those of long duration, or of
great extent, are represented by larger holes bored in the
stone. Seven great, and fourteen inferior wars, are
indicated. When the nation migrates, or when the tablet
is filled with spots, they enter the register on a black stone,
and part with the white one. The tribe has now five
black stones in keeping. The sobdity and wax colour of
the specimen rank it equal with the famous Parian marble.
To-day I saw a young man buy a dirk. The number
of these weapons exhibited in the jewellers' shops show
that a great sale of them must be expected. The dirk
has a pointed blade, four or five inches long, with a small
handle. It is worn within the vest, by which it is completely concealed. The advocates for private arms openly
declare that they are for defence, but the dissipated, the
passionate, and the freebooter, urge a similar pretext for
carrying the stuleto. Quarrels must be conducted in a
dangerous form; and murder must be made a prelude to
robbery, amongst a people who use concealed arms. Spain
exemplifies this truth — and it is from her colonists probably that the southern and western Americans have
learned this practice.
[114] Fights are characterized by the most savage
ferocity. Gouging, or putting out the antagonist's eyes,
by thrusting the thumbs into the sockets, is a part of the
modus operandi. An extension of the optic nerve occasions great pain to the sufferer. Kicking and biting are
also ordinary means used in combat; I have seen several
fingers that had been deformed, also several noses and
ears, which have been mutilated, by this canine mode of
14 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
December 13. To-day a crowd of people were out witnessing the immersion of seven Baptists in a pool near
the town. Many of them have a genteel and gay appearance; a slight shade of the ruddy complexion makes me
suppose that the climate of this place is the best that I
have known on this side of the Atlantic.
Dec. 15. Last night a man took the Sheriff of Fayette
county aside, on pretence of business, and immediately
commenced an attack on him. The officer of the law
drew a dirk, and wounded the assailant.
I note down the prices of live stock, labour, some of the
necessaries of life, &c.
Price of a young male negro, arrived at puberty,
Hire of ditto per annum, with provisions and
Price of a young female ditto,
Hire of ditto, per annum, with provisions and
Price of a work-horse, from
Price of a fine saddle horse,
Hire of a four horse team and driver, without pro
visions,      ....
Hire of a saddle horse per day,
Mechanics per day, with board,
Labourers per day, with board,
Wheat per bushel, .
Rye,       .      -
Corn, (Maize)
[115] Oats,    .
Flour per 100 lbs. -
Beef, per pound, from
Pork, ditto, from
Mutton,    ditto, from
Turkeys, from       . 50 cents
100 to 150
100 to 120
200 to 300
I to
1 to
5 to 6
4 to 5
3 to 4
to 1
_iAi M
140 Early Western Travels [Vol. 9
Dollars Cents
Hens and Ducks,   ...... iz£
Eggs per dozen,     ......   12 J
Butter per lb.         ......   25
Cheese, ditto,         ......   18
Whisky per gallon,          .....   40
Tobacco, per 100 lbs.     .....        5 	
Hemp, ........       8 	
Wool, per lb ' 33J
The indolence and disorderly conduct of slaves, together with their frequent elopements, occasion much
uneasiness to their holders. It is not uncommon to
hear the master, in ill humour, say that he wishes there
was not a slave in the country; but the man who is tenacious of this sort of stock, or who purchases it at a high
price, will always find it difficult to convince other people, that his pretensions to humanity towards slaves are in
earnest. Some say that the fault is with the British, who
first introduced them. Others reprobate the practice;
but affirm that, while the laws of the country permit it,
and while slaves must be somewhere, we may have them
as well as our neighbours; and there are a few who vindicate both principle and practice, by declaring, that the
negro is a being of an inferior species formed for servitude:
and allege that slave-keeping has the divine sanction, as
in the case of the Jews.
Negroes, even in America, are said to be more prolific
than the white variety of the species. They do not delay
marriage because they are not in possession of lands,
slaves, horses, and the other essentials of their masters: nor
does the support of [116] their progeny give them much
concern; the coloured children being held as the property
of the owner of the mother. By him they are reared with
more or less tenderness, or sold to another, as he thinks fit.
■ill y
1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
The treatment of slaves is understood to be much milder
in Kentucky than in the south-easterly part of the Union,
where provisions are dearer, and blacks sell at a lower
price. At Lexington slaves are well fed, and have a
healthy appearance, and the greater part of them are well
clothed. Some of the abettors of the system assert, that
negroes are happier here than the free poor of other countries; but there are several circumstances which may be
opposed to this position. The happy Kentuckian slave
lives under the danger of being cow-hided, (a term signifying a whipping, with a stripe of half tanned leather,
which is twisted into the form of a tapered switch of a very
rigid texture,) for the sbghtest real or imaginary offence.
His evidence is not received in court when he is opposed
to a white man. Thus he has not the protection of the
law, and less hope of bettering his condition. The practice disregards the strongest ties of kindred and of nature.
The husband is torn from the wife, and the child from
the parent, to be sold into an unhealthy region, where a
more galling yoke is imposed. He must not eat nor even
converse in the room where whije men are. Every
degrading mark is set upon him. While white men ransack the Christian volume, that they may find fit names
to their children, heathenish appellations, such as Pompey,
Nero, &c. usually given to dogs, are bestowed on the
coloured infant. The ordinary names of dogs and horses,
the days of the week, and the months of the year, seem
now exhausted in the negro nomenclature.
[117] It does not require a high degree of philanthropic
feeling to regret the numerous obstacles which oppose
their amelioration. The governments of new territories
are allowing vast tracts of country to become markets;
and the older slave-keeping states are converted into
n 1
< 142
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
nurseries, from which multitudes of slaves are procured.
If this course of policy is persisted in, the humane exertions of individuals, and the benevolent associations in
Britain, and elsewhere, cannot counteract the growing
abuse. Emancipation can scarcely be contemplated,
where its objects are multiplied with such rapidity. Amalgamation with the whites, extermination, or ultimate preponderance, present themselves to the penetrating mind.
The baneful effects of slave-keeping are not confined to
negroes, but are widely diffused amongst white people.
The necessity of personal labour being removed from the
master, he either indulges in idleness, or spends his time
in amusements that are incompatible with industrious
habits. His progeny, seeing that every sort of useful
labour is performed by the slaves, whom they are taught
to regard as an inferior class of beings, naturally conceive
that the cultivation of the earth is a pursuit too degrading
for white men. Where such early impressions are entertained, we need not be surprised with the multitudes of
idlers, hunters, horse-racers, gamesters and dissipated persons, that are here so prevalent. Were it not for the
immaculate purity of the female constitution, the most
invaluable half of the human character would be rendered
susceptible of receiving a tinge. Fortunately for white
Miss, she is able to turn to her own advantage the apparently adverse circumstances under which she is placed.
The sable domestics with whom she is constantly surrounded, and [118] who obey her every nod, serve as a foil,
or back ground, which, by drawing a contrast, greatly
enhances her charms. The female slaves performing
every menial and almost every household service, she has
on this account much leisure for the decoration of her person.    She is also at her ease, and acquires all the tender- 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
ness of frame which forms the delicate lady. Here also,
as in some other places, the society of the two sexes is
strictly regulated. Private interviews are guarded against
with the most jealous care. The suitor must announce
the object of his first visit, and the courtship must proceed under the eye of a parent, or of some other confidential person. In this happy seclusion from the scandalous
affairs of the world, it is only through the medium of a
female negro secretary that evasions can be conveniently
practised when sentiment prevails over prudence. Married ladies also are rebeved from the drudgery of giving
suck to their own children. It sometimes happens that
the infant boy entertains a stronger affection for his black
nurse than for his white mother; and that his affection for
the sooty hue may not be altogether effaced in maturer
life. If the feeling is not directly conducive to the happiness of slaves, it has, at least, a tendency to abate prejudices arising from their colour.
How far parental prerogative applies to intercourse between young people of different colours, I am not prepared
to say; but the great numbers of mulattoes to be seen furnish sufficient evidence to preclude all indiscreet inquiry
on this very delicate point. One striking fact is not to be
omitted. An instance of a semi-coloured person whose
origin is derived from a white mother, is exceedingly
[119] You have frequently heard the adherents of an
illiberal faction pouring out a copious torrent of invective
against the American people, and their democratic form
of government, on account of slave-keeping. Such declamation must proceed from ignorance of the history of this
country, or from a degree of mabgnity, ill calculated to
promote the national character of Britain, or the reputa- 144
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
• Y//
i-f V
tion of the system they adore. It is for these people to be
told a few facts, or to keep them in recollection, if they
knew them previously. Thirteen North American provinces were once British colonies, principally settled by a
British people. These colonies, like others subject to the
same parent country, were, at an early period, the resort
of English slave traders, who introduced a large proportion
of African captives amongst the white population. The
colonists soon became sensible of the moral evil, or of the
future consequences to be derived from the cupidity of the
inhuman sellers, and the indolence of unprincipled buyers
amongst themselves. So early as the year i703,es the
colony of Massachusetts (only seventy-four years after its
first settlement, and probably a much shorter time after
the first introduction of slaves) imposed a tax to prevent
further importations. This same settlement made attempts to prevent the import altogether in 1767 and 1774.
Previous to the year 1772, no less than twenty-three acts
were passed by the legislature of Virginia, for applying
taxes to the trade, with a view to its restriction. In 1772,
Virginia petitioned the throne on the same subject; but
obtained no redress. Several other colonies made remonstrances at different times; but were repressed by the opposition of British Governors. In these days the grand
discovery that taxation and representation ought to [120]
be inseparable, was first discussed between governors
and the governed. A doctrine so appalling to privileged
orders was not to be adopted merely because it was sanctioned by reason. War, the last reasoning of Tory ministration was resorted to,— a war which terminated in the
best soldiers of the old world throwing down their arms
before the husbandmen of the new.   The Americans, no
" The date of this law was December 5, 1705.— Ed. j 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
longer the vassals of England, were at liberty to pursue an
independent course of policy. The subject of negro slavery engaged their attention at an early period; but, unhappily for the new government, their territory was overspread with an unfortunate race, who, by education,
habits, and resentment of former injuries, were the enemies rather than the members of the social compact. In
this state of affairs, an immediate emancipation would
have tolerated a free communication of hostile feelings
amongst a people whose antipathies were as universal as
their colour. In 1780, the State of Pennsylvania, although
then occupied in the struggle for independence, passed an
act for gradual manumission. Subsequently the whole
country, north of Virginia, consisting of eight States, has
either effected the total extinction of slavery, or obtained
the very near prospect of it. In 1787, a law was passed,
prohibiting slave-keeping in the vast tract of country north
of the Ohio, and east of the Mississippi.87 By these means
the United States have, in thirty-eight years, almost produced a total liberation of negroes, over half their jurisdiction,— a progress vastly more rapid than England
made in the introduction of a similar system of release, in
her dependencies. It is unnecessary to enter here on the
spirit and tendency of British domination in every quarter
of the globe. If the contrast between the policy of the
governments of the United [121] States and England is not
sufficient to restrain antijacobin tongues within the
bounds of decorum, the common interest of their faction
may, perhaps, be a stronger inducement to silence, as the
subject affords a most striking example of popular representation  operating as a most  admirable  corrective of
" Flint here refers to the Northwest Ordinance, passed by the Congress of
the Confederation, July 13, 1787.— Ed. rU
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
an abuse that has grown up under the fostering care of
December 19. The inauguration of the professors of
the university of Lexington occasioned much stir to-day.**
They paraded the streets accompanied by music, the
students, and a numerous assemblage of the people. I
witnessed a similar procession at New York; and am told
that this practice is usual at the commencement of coUege
sessions in America.
Another musical practice gained ground here some time
ago. A newly married couple procured a band of instrumental musicians to play before their house on the evening
of their marriage day. In a late instance a great number
of boys procured small conical tubes of tinned iron, and
joined in the concert, by blowing vehemently. The disconcerted performers were overpowered by a more intense sound, and desisted. No fair bride of Lexington
has been since greeted by a serenade. This is one of the
few instances where the manners of this country are not
to be traced to British origin; but seem to be formed on
the model of the true Castilian.
December 24. Left Lexington. On this occasion I was
the only passenger in the mail coach. Clear frosty
weather allowed the sides of the carriage to be kept open,
so that I enjoyed a view of the country. The expedition
in travelling is great, considering the badness of the roads.
The land that was beautifully verdant a short time ago, is
[122] now withered by the cold. No green herbage is to
be seen.
A part of the country by Licking River is hilly, poor, and
almost covered over with detached pieces of limestone.
•• For a brief sketch of Transylvania University, see Cuming's Tour, volume
iv of our series, note 126.— Ed.
! 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
The clearing of this land waits for a more dense population
than the present. In the spots where the woods are cut
down, crops of Indian corn are repeated without intermission. Economical agriculture has no place here. The
rude implements are left to rot in the field; and the
scythe allowed to hang on a tree from one season to another.
December 25. The coach stopped at Washington, from
seven o'clock, last night, till three this morning. It overset on my way hither, and though I received no injury, I
resolved upon going no further with that vehicle in the
dark, and over such bad roads. About five o'clock I was
awakened by the firing of guns and pistols, in celebration
of Christmas day. I heard no one speak of the nature of
the event that they were commemorating. So universal
was the mirth and conviviality of the people, that I could
not procure a person to carry my portmanteau to Limestone. It remained for me to stop all day at Washington,
or sling my baggage over my own shoulders. I preferred
the latter alternative, and proceeded on my way.
At Limestone, negroes and boys continued their firing
till late in the afternoon.— Every sort of labour without
doors was suspended.
A watermark on the beach showed that the Ohio had
lately risen to the height of fourteen or fifteen feet. It
had now subsided to half that quantity, and had more
than a third part of its surface covered with ice, in brisk
motion downwards.
December 26. Two large family boats (tied end to end)
were about to leave Limestone for Cincinnati. [123]!
agreed to go with them, and moved off in the afternoon.
Sailing amongst moving ice is not attended with much
danger, except at the commencement of the flood, when M
n ■-. %
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
the accumulation is sometimes very great. In other
cases the boat acquires nearly the same velocity with the
The two boats contained upwards of forty New Engenders. Their activity in this (to them) new way of
travelling, shewed a considerable degree of enterprise and
In the evening we moored by the margin of the river.
In this situation the craft were exposed to collision with
the moving ice. The men were sagacious enough to
know, that lying ashore was more unsafe than keeping in
motion, but generously yielded to the mistaken timidity of
the females, who were much averse to sailing in the night.
December 27. The ice continued to float downward,
and surrounded us so much, that we could derive but
Utile facility from rowing. Passed Augusta, a neat
village on the Kentucky side of the river.*' Its court
house denotes that it is a county town.
December 29. This morning the frost was intense. A
wild duck, frozen to a large mass of ice floated past our
mooring. A young man, who accompanied me in a canoe
in pursuit of it, had one of his hands wet; the part was
slightly frostbit.
New Richmond is a thriving town, on the north bank
of the river.70 It consists of about a hundred houses.
Four years ago there was not a house.
We have seen some farming on the sides of the hills,
near the river, that is performed in a most slovenly manner.
Indian corn is the only crop, and is repeated continually.
** Augusta, at that time the seat of Bracken County, is eighteen and a half
miles below Maysville.— Ed.
70 New Richmond, twenty miles above Cincinnati, was platted in 1814 by a
former resident of Richmond, Virginia, hence its name. It was incorporated in
1828.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
No part of the manure [124] is returned to the fields.
The houses are rude log cabins, built as near the river as
is consistent with security from the floods. Their children are dirty and ragged in the extreme. The comforts
of these people must consist chiefly in having enough to
eat and drink, and in having no fear of the exactions of
the landholder, the tytheholder, or the collector of taxes.
Cincinnati — Situation — Manufactures — Settlement and
Progress — Weather — Credulity and Want of Education — Descend the Ohio — Islands — Jefferson-
ville — Louisville — Falls of the Ohio — Taverns and
Accommodations — Expedition for Exploring the Missouri Country and Forming a Military Post there —
Miscellaneous Observations interspersed.
Jeffersonville, {Indiana,)
May 19,1819.
I concluded my last letter, dated Cincinnati, 30th December last, without taking any notice of the town; I
shall therefore begin the present one with some particulars
respecting that place.
Cincinnati is no sooner seen than the importance of the
town is perceived. A large steam grist mill, three large
steam boats on the stocks, and two more on the Kentucky
side of the river, and a large ferry boat, wrought by horses,
were the first objects which attracted my attention. The
[125] beach is lined with keel boats, large arks for carrying produce, family boats, and rafts of timber. On shore
the utmost bustle prevails, with drays carrying imported
goods, salt, iron, and timber, up to the town, and in bringing down pork, flour, &c. to be put aboard of boats for
New Orleans.
Ifl *s°
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
The town is situated in north latitude 390 5' 54", and
in west longitude 850 44', according to the determination
of Mr. Ellicott.71 The distance from Pittsburg is 305 miles
by land, and $1$% miles by the windings of the river. The
streets are laid out in a rectangular form, and are enlivened by drays, waggons, and an active people. The houses
are nearly all of brick and timber: about two hundred new
ones have been built in the course of the year. Merchants'
shops are numerous, and well frequented. The noise of
wheel carriages in the streets, and of the carpenter, the
blacksmith, and the cooper, make a busy din. Such an
active scene I never expected to see amongst the back
woods of America.™
The manufactories of this new place are more diversified than extensive. An iron foundery, two breweries,
several distilleries, a woollen manufactory, a cotton-mill,
an oil-mill, a grist-mill, a nail-cutting machine, a tan-
work, a glass-house, and a white-lead factory, seem to
be the principal ones. But the more numerous part of
the artizans are joiners, bricklayers, blacksmiths, plasterers, shoe-makers, tailors, hatters, bakers, tobacconists, cabinet-makers, saddlers, &c. &c. Journeymen mechanics
earn from one and three-fourths to two dollars per day.
Their board costs about three dollars per week. Most of
them dress well on the days they are not at work, and
some of them keep horses.
In the end of December, 1788, or beginning of January,
1789, Cincinnati was first founded by about [126] twenty
persons.   For some time the place was occupied more in
71 For a biographical sketch of Andrew Ellicott, see Cuming's Tour, volume
iv of our series, note 213.— Ed.
73 For the early history of Cincinnati, see Cuming's Tour, volume iv of our
series, note 166.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
the manner of a fort than of a town, the neighbouring
country being in the possession of hostile Indians, who, on
different occasions, killed several of the settlers. In 1790,
a governor, and the judges of a supreme court, for the territory, arrived. In 1792, the first school and the first
church were built. In 1799 the legislative authority of
the governor was succeeded by that of an assembly. In
1803, the State government of Ohio was instituted. In
1806, the government was removed from Cincinnati to
Chillicothe. In 1800, the town contained seven hundred
and fifty people, and in 1805, only nine hundred and sixty.
It was subsequently to the last date that Cincinnati showed
indications of outgrowing a village and becoming a town.
Within three-and-a-half years past, the population is
supposed to have been doubled, and the amount is now
believed to be nearly ten thousand.
January 1, i8rg. To-day the boys of the town made
a great noise by firing guns and pistols. They commenced last night about dusk. During the night I
heard much noise of fighting and swearing amongst adult
January 3. {Sunday.) Works of necessity form a
numerous class here. To-day boats were loading pork,
and drays carrying it down to the river.
January 8. To-day the river was almost covered with
ice floating downward. Many large pieces adhering together form boards of one or two acres in extent. The
pieces of hemlock tree mtermixed make it plain that these
masses of ice are from the Allegany river.
January 10. {Sunday.) Dealers in pork were (in one
instance) busy cutting up and salting. I [127] saw some
young men in a small boat examining the driftwood on
the river; when pine logs came within their reach they
m J52
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
dragged them ashore. Others were intercepting timber
of every description, for fuel.
January n. The weather frequently changes from
frosty to humid. Yesterday at two P.M. the thermometer
stood at 760 in sunshine. The hottest day since the ninth of
December.    To-day the temperature was 540 in the shade.
Jan. 13. At seven o'clock in the morning, the thermometer indicated 210. By mid-day, the sun's rays softened the mud in the streets. The people say that the
winter has hitherto been milder than usual, and some
infer that we will have no severe cold during the season.
Last winter the thermometer was once observed to
stand so low as io° below zero. The greatest cold from
1787 to 1806 was minus 180. The most intense frosts of
this country have the effect of congealing the moisture in
forest trees, and splitting them with a loud noise. Notwithstanding the moderation of the present season, the
grasses and weeds on the ground are withered to whiteness. In the woods no evergreen plants are to be seen,
except the tufts of mistletoe, which are perched on the
branches of the tallest trees.
Examples of credulity are not rare. Yesterday a
woman was deriving liberal emolument in town from
fortune-telling, and from her supposed sagacity in knowing every thing respecting stolen goods. She also pretended to have the faculty of discovering springs of water
and metallic ores, by means of the divining rod. Her
speaking in tne GtSinan language led me to suppose that
she is descended from that part of Europe, where Rhab-
domancy 7S [128] is prevalent.    Almanack predictions of
n i. e. Divination by the wand. This science may be fashionable, but unquestionably it must be a novelty, as the occult sciences, particularly that of
divination, can only exist with the vulgar.— Flint. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
the weather are works of reference. I have seen several
family registers of marriages, and the births of children,
in which the sign of the zodiac in which the sun was, at
the time of the particular events, is recorded. The positions are beheved to have propitious or baneful influence
on the fate of the individual. In some parts of the Union,
what are called snake-stones are relied on as certain cures
for the bite of the reptile, and of mad dogs, in opposition
to the remonstrances of medical men. Such articles of
belief having gained ground, a suspicion arises that the
culture of the mind is much neglected, but unfortunately the position is established by more direct evidence. During my very short stay in this place, I have
seen persons applying to others to read the addresses on
packages of goods, or letters, and the sign-boards of merchants. A newspaper, in bewailing the want of schools,
feelingly observed, that'' the Ohian is in many cases growing up to manhood, with scarcely any other intelligence
than that derived from the feeble bght of nature."74
Books are scarce. I have seen a biography of General
Washington; some notices of the mibtary and naval characters of America; a history of the war; the Pittsburg
Navigator; and some small almanacks more frequently
than any others. The advertisements of booksellers indicate that they deal in romance. Many of the people are
not in possession of a copy of the Apocrypha; of course
such Jewish stories as the Idol Bel, or Susanna and the
elders, are not often made the topics of conversation.75
[129] January 14.   To-day I met with one of the pas-
'4 Portsmouth Gazetteer, No. 4 — Flint.
™ These stories are found in the apocryphal chapters of the book of Daniel
in the Old Testament; for Idol Bel, see chapter 14; for Susanna, see chapter
13.— Ed.
i»j !S4
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
sengers who came over with me in the ship Glenthorn.
He has settled with his family about twenty-five miles
from this place, having bought an hundred and seventy
acres of land, fifty acres of which are cleared and
fenced. There is a house, two barns, and a young orchard
on the property. For the whole he paid seventeen hundred and twenty-five dollars, and can rent it out at twelve
and a half per cent, on the price. He said that he meditates making another purchase, and that he does not regret
having left his native country.
Since my arrival, I have seen an old acquaintance, who
emigrated upwards of two years ago. He bought an excellent farm, which was well cultivated, in the State of
Ohio, and paid two-thirds of the price in ready money.
The money with which he ought to have paid the remaining part of the price, he imprudently lent to some neighbours, who never repaid him. The ultimate instalment
was soon demanded, which, being unable to pay, he was
obliged to sell the land. At this stage of the business, he
found that he had originally agreed to pay for the farm
twice its value, and was forced to leave it, after having
lost nearly all his money.
Two large steam-boats from Pittsburg, put in here on
their way for New Orleans.78 One of them had been
forty-eight hours, and the other forty-six hours and fifty
™ The "New Orleans,'' built for Fulton and Livingston at Pittsburg in 1811,
was the first steamboat on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Having made a
triumphant journey down to New Orleans, an object of wonder at every town
on the way, she did not attempt to return, but ran between that city and
Natchez until her destruction in 1814. The'' Enterprise,'' the fourth steamboat
on Western waters, after serving Jackson in his defense of New Orleans, made
the first attempt to steam up the river, reaching Louisville in twenty-five days.
But the water was high and she frequently found an easy course over inundated
fields, so that it was reserved for the '' Washington,'' which made a like journey
in 1817, to demonstrate the value of the steamboat for Western commerce.— Ed.
1J   I
if >• *S5
1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
minutes, in descending the river. The distance, as formerly stated, is 513^ miles.
The launching of a large steam-boat attracted a great
assemblage of spectators. A careful observation of their
countenances convinced me, that the complexion is more
pale here than at Lexington. The difference is sufficiently
striking to induce the belief, that there is a considerable
disparity in the climate of the two places.
[130] Last week the weather was partly wet, and partly
clear, the temperature was usually about 500.
Jan. 28. This has been a warm day, the temperature
5 20 in the shade, the thermometer, exposed to sunshine,
stood at 88°. The sky was clear, without a single cloud. I
have never seen in this country figured icicles on the insides
of windows during frosty weather. This is a clear proof
of the dryness of the climate.
31. I have some pleasure in stating my conviction, that,
honesty, benevolence, and some other Christian virtues,
are not singularities in this town. Several congregations
that I have attended, behave with the attention and gravity which becomes the worship. It was easy to recognise
many persons, who go to church three times on the same
day. A preacher here of the Cameronian sect, is a man
of talent and information. His diligence is no less con^
spicuous than his abilities. In addition to preaching
three times on Sundays, he gives sermons in private houses
on other evenings of the week.
February 4. This evening there were several heavy
showers of rain, accompanied with more thunder than the
residents have ever heard at the same season of the year.
For a week past, we have had no bright sunshine; but
westerly winds, and a temperature of 6o° has been almost
uniform. 156
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
With candour towards the American name, I must
state, that much of the credulity recently hinted at, appears
to be chargeable on people from Germany and Ireland,
and their descendants. Methodists are also said to be
true believers. It is at least certain, that the journal of
their great apostle, Lorenzo Dow, is replete with paragraphs not dictated by the strictest accuracy.77
[131] February 7. To-day I left Cincinnati, on my way
for Jeffersonville, at the falls of the Ohio. The boat in
which I proceeded is a flat ark, loaded with flour and pork,
for New Orleans. There are five such boats in company,
all belonging to the same owner, who accompanies them.
The wind has been south-westerly, and the thermometer,
exposed to the sunshine, (which is but dim) stood at 6o°.
The warm weather, of late, has been uniformly attended
by wind blowing up the river, importing, as it were, the
air of a more southern latitude.
The flower buds of the water-maple, the elm, and the
leaves of the weeping willow, are burst out, and the grass
has become green. Dr. Drake, the describer of this western country, has stated the usual time of the flowering of
the water-maple at a month later. It is to be feared that
this early vegetation wfll be checked by subsequent frosts.
Fruit trees, in that event, may be rendered unproductive
for the ensuing season.
We put ashore, at night, twenty-three miles from Cincinnati.    Gusts of wind, and a dark, clouded atmosphere,
77 Lorenzo Dow, a native of Coventry, Connecticut, began his work as a
Methodist preacher in New York in 1779. He spent some years in Ireland,
endeavoring to convert the Irish to Methodism; also in England, where he introduced camp-meetings, not without opposition from a large part of the English Methodists. Upon his return to America, he travelled from place to place,
holding revivals. During his later life he was almost fanatical in his bitterness
towards the Jesuits, and, as Flint implies, his zeal led him to make extravagant
statements.— Ed. i8i8-i82o]      Flint's Letters from America
dissuaded us against sailing during the night.   Much rain
and loud thunder ensued.
8. The boatmen are not obliged to row in the present
moderately high stage of the water. It is sufficient to
make a few pulls occasionally to keep off the shore. Two
boats are tied alongside of each other, and put about with
the broadside to the stream. They float at the rate of
nearly four miles per hour.
9. Last night at dusk, we passed the Swiss settlement
Vevay, which lies on the Indiana side of the river.78 These
people are said to be industrious cultivators of the ground.
Wine is their staple [132] product. It is procured from
a round black grape, nearly the size of a musket ball.
The liquor is often of an acid taste, and apt to undergo
the acetous fermentation in keeping. We continued our
course all night. The owner and I slept in the boat by a
fire, where we had scarcely room enough to stretch ourselves. In all other respects this is a pleasant way of travelling. The river, in most, parts which we have lately
seen, appears to be from five hundred to six hundred yards
broad, environed with rich bottoms, and beyond these
high limestone ridges. From the tops of these to the
water's edge, the surface is covered with stupendous
woods, with cleared farms at intervals. A few of the
houses seem to be externally neat, but the majority of them
are log cabins. The north side of the river is more thickly
settled than the south side, where a negro population is to
be seen along the banks.
In the afternoon we heard a remarkable sound issuing
from a swamp near the river. I was told that it was the
croaking of frogs.    There must have been myriads of
78 For the Swiss settlement at Vevay, see Bradbury's Travels, volume v of our
series, note 164.— Ed.
:i if
1 i58
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
them in the place, as the noise was incessant, like that of
wind amongst trees, or the fall of water over a distant cascade.
A contrary wind forced us to run ashore at a part where
the limestone ridge is within thirty yards of the beach.
The rock is of the siliceous kind, and the narrow bottom
is strewed with large blocks that have tumbled from the
steep. In the evening there was much rain and thunder,
the wind continuing contrary and violent.
10. Early in the morning we heard the howling of
wolves in the woods. Scarcely a single patch of cleared
ground is to be seen for several miles.
Louisville is situated at the south-western extremity
[i33]'of a stretch of the river that passes in a straight line
for six miles, so that the town terminates a beautiful
water prospect.79 The river is here half a mile in
The towns passed on the Kentucky side of the river,
are, Port-William, and West-Port. Those on the Indiana
side, are, Laurenceburg, the Rising Sun, Vevay, and
Madison, all places of recent erection and thriving.
The Pittsburg Navigator enumerates sixty islands in
Ohio above the falls. They are so uniform in their character, that a description of one of them will give a general
idea of all the rest. The upper end is broad, and intercepts part of the gravel that is moved downward during
floods, forming a wide bar which acts as a partial dam
that divides the stream into two parts, deflecting each of
them toward the shores of the mainland, as represented
by the figure.
The two currents are then deflected from the shores
n For a brief account of Louisville, see Croghan's Journals, volume i of our
series, note 106.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
toward the island, which is thereby curtailed in its lower
parts, and at its extremity contracted almost to a point.
The two currents unite below, and form a deep channel.
At the head of the island the water is shallow. The largest
and oldest timber stands on the lower end, and [134]
younger plants of willow, sycamore, &c. on the upper end
of the island. It is farther to be noticed, that the trees
on islands, although of rapid growth, are by no means so
large as those on the adjoining banks and bottom lands.
The alluvial process deposits gravel at the head.   Over
this, sand is precipitated; and lastly, a superstratum of
mud and driftwood is deposited, forming a rich soil for
the growth of timber. These facts, taken in connection,
show that additions are continually making at the head,
and that the converging streams are jsimultaneously carrying off the lower end of the island.
In most instances, these are not the islands discovered
by the first white men who explored the Ohio. Nor are
they those that will be known by the same names, thirty,
forty, or fifty years hence. Their being gradually exchanged for others farther upward, produces an effect
similar to what would be occasioned by the same islands
moving against the stream, in their progress forcing the i6o
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
current against the shores, and thereby preserving a capacious bed for the river.
From Cincinnati downward, the ridges which bound the
valley of the river on both sides are more broken, and divided into distinct hills, and are, of course, more diversified and pleasant than the unvaried ledges farther up.
The traveller, notwithstanding, is apt to feel tired of the
insipidity of the scenery. The same woods obstruct his
view, or the same rude style of improvement meets his eye
I landed at Jeffersonvflle, a small town on the Indiana
side of the river.80 It stands on a high bank, and has the
most pleasant situation of any town that I have seen on
the banks of the river.
[135] February 12. Visited Louisville, the town, next
to Lexington, the largest in Kentucky. The population
probably amounts to about 3000 persons. The falls immediately below the town being navigable for large craft
only during times of high water, Louisville derives great
advantage from the carrying trade.
13. Went over the rapids. The fall is said to be
twenty-two feet and a half in less than two miles. Nearly
the whole of the declivity is distributed into three shoots
or rapids, where the stream is very swift, occasioning
breakers amongst the rocks. Except in times of very high
water, boats are conducted downward by pilots who are
web* acquainted with the falls. The temperature of this
morning was 26^°.
17. Last night a gentleman from Carolina lodged in
the tavern here.   After a hired man had given him slip-
80 Jeffersonville, on the site of old Fort Steuben at the falls of the Ohio, was
laid out in 1802 in accordance with a plan proposed by President Jefferson. It
soon superseded the older neighboring town of Clarksville, upon the same
tract of land.— Ed.
I! m*}
1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
pers, and asked him for his boots to be blacked, he exclaimed, "As I wish to see my Maker, I would not live
in a free state, where one white man cleans the boots of
A small degree of aversion to frivolous detail does not
prevent me from describing a back-woods tavern.   Like
its owner, it commonly makes a conspicuous figure in its
neighbourhood.    It is a log, a frame, or a brick house,
frequently with a wooden piazza in front.   From the top
of a tall post, the sign-board is suspended.    On it, a
Washington, a Montgomery, a  Wayne, a   Pike, or   a
Jackson, is usually pourtrayed, in a style that might not
be easily deciphered except for the name attached.    On
the top of the house is a small bell, which is twice rung
before meals.    Immediately after the second peal, travellers and boarders assemble around the table, where they
commence eating without preface.   In  such  promiscuous [136] parties, the governor of a state, or a general of
the mflitia, may be seen side by side with the waggoner.
The larger towns having taverns of different qualities, and
different rates of charges, a distinction of company is the
natural consequence.   We breakfast and sup on coffee or
tea, accompanied with plenty of beef, bacon, chickens,
and eggs.    The hostess (or host if he is unmarried) takes
her seat at the head of the table, and dispenses the tea.
One or two hired people (or slaves, in slave-keeping parts
of the  country) wait at table.   At dinner, wheaten and
Indian corn breads,  beef, pork, venison, wild turkey,
geese, and poultry, are staple articles; with a profusion
of vegetables, such as cucumbers, onions, cabbages, beans,
and preserved fruits.   Lodging in taverns has not generally all the convenience that could be wished for.   It is
common to see several beds in the same room, and these Wi
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
are simple bedsteads without hangings. There are no
bells in the bed-rooms, and other apartments; nor are
menials accustomed to move at the signal of the stranger.
Water is rarely to be met with in bed-rooms; washing is,
of course, performed under a shed behind the house, or
at the pump. A full house is always the apology for causing two strangers to sleep in the same bed; the propriety
of the custom will always be admitted by the person who
arrives latest. It has been my lot to sleep with a diversity
of personages; I do believe, from the driver of the stage
coach, to men of considerable name. The noted cutaneous
disease is certainly not prevalent; if it was, the beds of
taverns, which, like burying grounds, lay all on a level,
would soon make the disease as prevalent in this country, as in some others in the old world.
[137] If Europeans and others, who indulge in censorious remarks on western taverns and tavern-keepers,
would make reasonable allowances for the thinly-settled
state of the country, the high price of labour, and the great
numbers of travellers, their criticisms might be somewhat
softened. The man who cannot enjoy a placid temper
under privation of a part of the comforts of a more advanced state of society, is surely to be pitied for having
business in the back woods of America.
A very inferior breed of cows and horses are to be seen
almost every where by the river. This may be partly
imputed to the want of proper fodder, and of shelter in
the winter. Cattle are not housed in the season, when
every plant is withered to whiteness. Grass is not sown
to succeed the crops. A growth of tall weeds takes immediate possession of the soil. Hay, therefore, is a scarce
article.   Indian corn is resorted to as a substitute, but it
(i a 1 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
appears to be too hard for mastication.   Butter and
cheese sell at 25 cents (13^. sterling) per pound.
February 17. This morning was clear and frosty.
Temperature 320 in the morning. Snow fell to the thickness of an inch in the forenoon. In the afternoon it disappeared.
18. The morning was clear; temperature 20° In the
afternoon the ice melted.
19. Temperature 290 in the morning. In the forenoon, snow fell to the thickness of an inch and a half. In
the evening it became liquid.
There is much wet ground in the vicinity of the falls.
Intermittent fevers afflict the inhabitants toward the end
of summer and in autumn. Last season an unusual
degree of sickness was experienced.
New settlers continue to descend the river. Family
boats are almost continually in sight. In a [138] boat
lying ashore to-day, a man was busy in making shingles.
He has brought with him pine timber from Allegany river.
Shingles give a good price here, where pine trees do not
grow, and they furnish him with employment at intervals. This is a good specimen of the provident habits
and the industry of New Englanders, a people admirably
adapted for taking possession of the woods.
March 1. To-day the people of Jeffersonville elected
a Squire, (Justice of the Peace.) Two young men disagreed, and fought a furious battle. In justice to the
election, it is admitted that the fight was in consequence
of an old quarrel.
I have met with no less than eight Scotsmen to-day.
We are said to be the most national of all Europeans in
America, and the most loyal to old monarchy.
m, 164
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
The weather is mild and clear, with the aspect of spring.
Birds begin to chirp in the woods; their plumage is fine,
but they are not songsters.
Jeffersonville contains about sixty-five houses, thirteen
stores (shops,) and two taverns; the land office for a large
district of Indiana, and a printing office that publishes
a weekly newspaper, and where the American copy of
the most celebrated of all reviews is sold. A steam-boat
is on the stocks, measuring 180 feet long, and forty broad;
estimated to carry 700 tons. There are now thirty-one
steam-boats on the Mississippi and Ohio. Twenty-nine
more are building, and in a forward state.
At present, a passage from New Orleans to the falls of
Ohio costs 100 dollars, including provisions. Goods
are carried at 6 5^ cents per pound weight. This high rate,
with the danger of passing through a most unhealthy
climate, in case of arriving after the beginning of July, [139]
or before the end of October, gives Baltimore, Philadelphia, or New York, a decided preference to Europeans
who would settle in the lower parts of the Ohio country,
or on the Missouri. It is, indeed, conjectured, that the
increase of steam-boats will soon occasion a competition,
and a great fall in the freight; but, it is only after a great
deduction taking place, that New Orleans need be compared with Baltimore, as the port for landing emigrants.
May 19. The steam-boat, Western Engineer and a
number of keel-boats, descended the falls to-day, with a
considerable body of troops, accompanied by a mineralogist, a botanist, a geographer, and a painter.81   Their
81 This was the expedition of Major Stephen H. Long. The object stated by
Flint was abandoned, due to bad management of the military branch of the
undertaking. While the party was wintering near the mouth of the Platte
River, Long, returning to Washington, received new instructions from President
Monroe, namely, to seek a pass through the Rocky Mountains south of the M»j
1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
object is to explore the Missouri country, and to form a
garrison at the mouth of Yellow Stone river, about 1800
miles up the Missouri river. Five other steam-boats, besides other craft, are expected to join the expedition.
The Western Engineer has on the bow, a large sculpture
of the head of a snake, through which the waste steam
escapes; a device, independently of the general aspect of
the equipment, that might be enough to strike terror
amongst the savage tribes.
I shall conclude this, with mentioning two singular
occurrences. The passage of a steam-boat from Pittsburg to Louisville, seven hundred miles in fifty hours;
and the marriage of a girl in this place, at the age of eleven
years and three months.
Morals and Manners of the People — Defects in Education—Generosity—The President of the United States-
Jeffersonville, {Indiana,)
June 28, 1819.
My residence at this place for some time past, prevents
me from noting down such occurrences as travellers usually
meet with. This letter must therefore be composed of
other materials. Some remarks therefore on the people
will form the subject; premising that it is not the Ameri-
route of Lewis and Clark, and on the return journey to examine the source of
Red River. Abandoning their steamer, "Western Engineer," the party
mounted horses, followed the south fork of the Platte to the base of the mountains, saw and named Long's Peak, crossed over to the Arkansas, and ascended
it to the Royal Gorge. There, despairing of success, they gave up the attempt
and started home. The Union Pacific Railway now follows, in large measure,
the route travelled by Long. In returning, he followed a stream which he supposed was the Red, but which proved to be a tributary of the Arkansas. For
the journal of this expedition, see volumes xiv-xvii of our series.— Ed.
mmmmmmmWm 66
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
can character in general that I treat of. My opinions
and assertions are founded on my own limited observation, and on what I conceive to be authentic facts.
The European, on his first arrival in the United States,
may perhaps expect to find sound republican principles,
and good morals, pervading nearly the whole population.
He has probably heard that capital punishments are rare,
and from that circumstance, may have inferred that there
are few crimes to punish. For some time this ideal character may be entertained. Newspapers will naturally be
looked to, as the current records of delinquency; in these,
multitudes of cases regarding the proceedings against
criminals are entirely omitted. After some correspondence with the people, and after some observation of incidents, a sojourner from the old world will be apt to modify his original opinion.
[141] Last winter, a committee of inquiry into the state
of the prison at Baltimore, stated in strong terms the inadequacy of the present modes of punishment, and the
deplorable increase of offenders, who by their numbers
threaten to overwhelm every lenient corrective. The confinement not being solitary, and the young being mixed
with older and more experienced desperadoes, the institution intended for reformation is literally converted into
a school of vice, where plans for future depredations are
regularly concerted.    The speech of Governor Clinton,82
82 De Witt Clinton (1769-1828) was from early manhood engaged in New
York politics. Beginning as secretary to his uncle, Governor George Clinton,
he was state senator from 1798-1802; mayor of New York from 1802-1815; and,
with the exception of four years, governor from 1817 until his death. His interest in the Erie Canal is well known. In 1812 he urged its construction upon
Congress; failing in that he drew up an elaborate memorial to the state legislature, which had great weight in inducing that body to undertake the enterprise. When the canal was opened (1825), he was carried on a canal barge
in triumphal procession from New York to Lake Erie.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
at the opening of the last session of the legislature of New
York State, is another authority on this subject. That
gentleman feelingly deplored the growth of depravity, and
affirmed that magistrates are unable to inflict deserved
punishments on all, and that, from the numbers committed, there is a necessity for extending pardon to an undue extent, or of granting absolute impunity. He stated
farther, that the prisoner released is sometimes re-committed for a new crime on the same day.
The river Ohio is considered the greatest thoroughfare
of banditti in the Union. Here the thief, in addition to
the cause of his flight, has only to steal a skiff, and sail
down the river in the night. Horse stealing is notorious
in the western country, as are also escapes from prison.
Jails are constructed of thin brick walls or of logs, fit only
to detain the prisoner while he is satisfied with the treatment he receives, or while he is not apprehensive of ultimate danger. Runaway apprentices, slaves, and wives,
are frequently advertised. I have heard several tavern-
keepers complain of young men going off without paying
for their board. This is not to be wondered at, where so
many are continually moving in this extensive country,
without property, without acquaintances, [142] without
introductory letters, and without the necessity of supporting moral character.
Swearing, as I have repeatedly mentioned, is a most
lamentable vice. If I am not mistaken, I have already
heard more of it in America than twice the aggregate heard
during the whole of my former life.
A high degree of nationality is frequently to be observed, and encomiums on American bravery and intelligence poured forth by men who are not remarkable for the
latter quality, and who, by their ostentation, raise a doubt
-SS" i68
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
as to their possessing the former. Their conduct seems
to be more disgusting to cultivated Americans, than to
Here are multitudes of persons who have no accurate
notions of decorous behaviour. This, no doubt, may
arise partly from their ideas of the equality of men, without making due allowances for morals, manners, intellect,
and education. Accustomed to mix with a diversity of
company at taverns, elections, and other places of public
resort, they do not well brook to be excluded from private
conversation. On such occasions, they exclaim, \ \ This is
a free country" or a "land of liberty," adding a profane
oath. They do not keep in view that one man has a
natural right to hear, only what another is willing to tell
him. Of late I have several times found, that when I had
business to transact, a third party drew near to overhear
it. Hired people, mixing with families and their visitors,
have ample means of gaining a knowledge of other people's
affairs. I shall relate a story which I have on good authority. A gentleman, in a State where slaves are kept, engaged some carpenters from a neighbouring free State to
erect a barn. On the day of their first arrival they eat
[143] along with himself. On the second day the family
took breakfast a little earber than usual, and caused the
table to be covered anew for the mechanics, previous to
their coming in. They were so highly offended with this
imaginary insult, that they went off without finishing their
work. This little affair became so well known in the
vicinity, that the gentleman could not procure other workmen for some time. This extension of liberty and equality
is injurious, inasmuch as it prevents the virtuous part of
society from separating from the vicious; and so far as it
removes from the unprincipled and untutored part, the 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
salutary incitement to rest character on good behaviour
and intelligence, instead of citizenship, or an allusion to
the land of liberty, or the favourite maxim that one man is
as good as another. I have frequently been asked such
questions as, "Where are you come from? Where are
you going ? What are you to do there ? What have you
got in these here boxes ? Are you a merchant ? I guess,
then, you are a mechanic."—Dr. Franklin did well in
wearing labels on his person, announcing his name, his
residence, the place he was travelling for, and his business
The abolition of titles and hereditary distinctions in
America has not been productive of all the simplicity of
address that might have been expected, or was perhaps
intended by the illustrious founders. Squire, the appellation designating a Justice of the Peace, or Magistrate, is
commonly retained for life, although out of office, or even
when dismissed for misconduct. It is so also amongst
officers in the militia. Men who are appointed Captains,
or Majors, and may have been present at trainings for a
short time, are called Captains or Majors ever afterwards.
Of ex officio corporals or Serjeants I have heard no mention made. The persons who [144] take charge of keel-
boats are also Captains. Except in cases where such
names as those just alluded to are applied, Mr. is the
epithet of every man, and is applied on every occasion.
All are gentlemen. The wife is, of course, Mrs.; the
daughter and maid servant are indiscriminately saluted
Miss, or Madam. All are ladies. Thus the Christian
name has fallen into disuse. I do not wish to be understood as approving of giving an appellation to one man
and withholding it from another, but would only observe,
that where all are Mr. Mrs. and Miss, these terms do not 170
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
imply a distinctive mark, and that the simple Christian
names would be more discruninately useful in the affairs
of life, if not almost as respectable.
A passion for money has been said to be a great characteristic of Americans. To admit this would perhaps
be conceding too much. It is certain that security of
property and high profits on capital, tend to promote this
disposition, and it therefore cannot be wonderful that
America has a full proportion of enterprizing citizens, and
such as are essential to the progress of a new country.
Polite behaviour, talents, education, and property, have
influence in society, here, as elsewhere. It is true that
many who occupy the back ground are obtrusive, and
wish to act on the principle of equality, and that violations
of decorum are not repulsed with the same contempt as
in Britain; but it is only those who are agreeable in their
manner and conversation, that can be received as interesting companions amongst accomplished men. The
finer sympathies of human nature are not to be taken
possession of by force. Those who have believed in the
equality of society in America, have adopted a position
physically and morally impossible.
[145] Most of the defects noticed may be traced to
the education of youth, reared in families where the
parents have not had the advantage of early culture, and
where the son becomes a mere transcript of the father,
the model after which he is formed. If he is sent to
school, in most cases he knows that the teacher is not
allowed to whip him. The teacher is thus rendered any
thing but that object of reverence which becomes his
office, and it can scarcely be expected that the young freeman will be much inclined either to follow the precepts
or to imitate the example of his tutor.    He is practically 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
taught to look down on the learned man as an inferior,
and to despise the most useful attainments. The most
efficient means of instruction, then, are those of the family,
where, in too many instances, the children are the unrestrained offspring of nature. It gives no pleasing sensations to hear them swearing, at an age when they ought
to be learning to know one letter from another, or to see
them throwing off submission to parents, and assuming
all the confidence of manhood before they arrive at half
the stature.
There is one trait of character sufficiently generous to
give a lustre to the American name. The stranger is not
insulted on account of his country. I have not seen or
heard of a single instance where a native of Britain has
met with a disagreeable reflection for having paid taxes
to the government so long inimical to the Republic, and
that has repeatedly leagued with savages in carrying bloodshed amongst her people.
In almost every part where I have travelled, I have met
with intelligent and interesting individuals. In every
town where my stay was for any considerable length of
time, I have become acquainted [146] with citizens whom
I should be happy to meet again. A few introductory
letters which I brought with me to this country, have not
only procured for me the most polite and friendly receptions, but other introductions to respectable and eminent
persons before me on my route; letters not weakened by
the distance of my friends, whose good wishes dictated
the first, but if possible stronger than the originals.
To give a summary character of the American people,
or even of any considerable portion of them, is beyond the
reach of my observation and intellect. It may be safe to
state, that they are much diversified by education, local 172
Early Western Travels
circumstances, and the sources from which the population has been derived. The manners of Britain seem to
predominate. The want of schools is a great desideratum in new settlements. Hence it is, that in travelling
from the coast into the interior, the proportion of uneducated persons appears to be the greater the farther to the
westward: a fact that has been noticed by many, and one
showing that civilization follows in the rear of population.
His Excellency James Munro, President of the United
States, is now on a tour through the southern and western
parts of the country.83 On the 24th current, three of our
citizens, deputed by the inhabitants of the town, went to
congratulate him, on his arrival in the neighbourhood,
and to invite him to visit Jeffersonville. On accidentally
meeting with them returning, I felt myself at a loss for a
trite phrase in congratulating them, and could only tell
them bluntly, that in Europe we should say, You are very
loyal. One of them was pobte enough to set me right,
by informing me, that the object of their mission was to
make an expression [147] of public respect. Should you
consider the loyalty of Europe, and the public respect of
America as convertible terms, you will also have occasion
to be set right, and this may perhaps be best done by
telling you, that the President does not engage in dubbing knights or granting sinecures: — That public officers
are not appointed by his fiat, nor with the concurrence of
a privy council of his choice; but in conjunction with the
Senate, whose members are elected by the people. These
officers are not only few, but their salaries are merely
remunerations for the services which they perform.    In
85 For Monroe's tour, see Buttrick's Voyages, volume viii of our series, note
28.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
short, the President is not regarded as a dispenser of
pubbc money. On his part he has to regard public
greetings as the spontaneous sentiments of disinterested
and independent men, without repulsing any one in the
language of James the First of Scotland, "What does the
cunning loon want ?''
On the 26th the President arrived. A tall pole with
the striped flag was displayed on the bank of the river.
A salute was fired, and a large body of citizens waited his
coming on shore. To be introduced to the President was
a wish almost universal, and he was subjected to a laborious shaking of hands with the multitude. A pubbc dinner was given. This, too, was an object of ambition.
Grocers left their goods, and mechanics their workshops,
to be present at the gratifying repast. The first magistrate appears to be about sixty years of age. His deportment is dignified, and at the same time affable. His
countenance is placid and cheerful. His chariot is not
of iron, nor is he attended by horse-guards or drawn
swords. His protection is the affection of a free and a
represented people.
On Emigration — The Prospects of Emigrants — Inconveniences — The method of laying out and disposing of
public lands.
Jeffersonville, {Indiana,)
August 2, 1819.
This letter will be devoted to such remarks on emigration so far as my little experience and short residence in
America enable me to have made.    Before entering upon
the subject, I think it proper to state, that I disown every
l J74
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
intention of advising any one to leave his native country;
and that I disapprove of exaggerating the prospects held
out here, and underrating those of Britain, as uncandid
and deceptive, as appealing to the passions to decide in a
matter which ought to be determined by the sober exercise of reason.
In exchanging Britain for the United States, the emigrant may reasonably expect to have it in his power to
purchase good unimproved land, and to bring it into a
rude state of cultivation, with less capital unquestionably,
than that employed in renting an equal proportion of
good ground at home. He will not be burdened by an
excessive taxation, nor with tithes, nor poor's rates; for
there are no internal taxes paid to the government, no
privileged clergy, and few people who live by the charity
of others. His labour and his capital will be more productive, and his accumulation of property more rapid,
(good health, industry, and economy, presupposed,)
[149] and a stronger hope may be entertained, that
extreme poverty or want may be kept at a distance. After
residing five years in the country, he may become an
elector of those who have the power of making laws and
imposing taxes.
The inconveniences or difficulties which attend removing, are upon no account to be overlooked. The man
who undervalues these is only holding disappointments
in reserve for himself. He must part with friends, and
every acquaintance to whom he is attached, a case that
he may, perhaps, not fully understand, till he acts his part
in it. A voyage and a long journey must be submitted to.
He must breathe a new air, and bear transitions and
extremes of climate, unknown to him before. His
European tinge of complexion must soon vanish from his 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
face, to return no more. A search for the new home will
require his serious attention, a diversity of situations may
soon be heard of, but it is not easy to visit or compare
many of them. Nor is the emigrant, on his first arrival,
an adequate judge of the soil of America. In a dilemma
of this kind advice is necessary. This is easily procured
every where; but it deserves attention to know, whether
the informant is interested in the advice he gives. Land
dealers, and others, naturally commend tracts of land
which they are desirous to sell. The people of the neighbourhood have also an interest in the settling of neighbouring lands, knowing, that by every augmentation of population, the value of their own property is increased. On
several occasions I have met with men who attempted to
conceal local disadvantages, and defects in point of salubrity, that were self-evident. I do not recollect of having
heard more than two persons acknowledge, that they
lived in an unhealthy situation. [150] In the high country of Pennsylvania, I was told that Pittsburg is an
unhealthy place. At Pittsburg, I heard that Marietta
and Steubenville are very subject to sickness. At these
places, the people contrast their healthy situation with
Chillicothe, which, I was told, is very unhealthy. At
Chillicothe, the climate of Cincinnati is deprecated; and
at Cincinnati, many people seem willing to transfer the
evil to the falls of the Ohio. At this place the truth is
partially admitted; but it is affirmed that the Illinois
country, and down the Mississippi are very unhealthy.
The cautious will always look to the views and character
of the man who would direct them, and will occasionally
rely on their own judgments.
In the public land-offices, maps of the new lands are
kept.    Sections of a square mile, and quarter sections of
 - ■il
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
1 i
160 acres, are laid down. The squares entered are
marked A. P. meaning advance paid. This advance is
half a dollar per acre, or one-fourth of the price. Lands,
when first put to sale, are offered by public auction,
and are set up at two dollars per acre. If no one offers
that price, they are exhibited on the land-office map, and
may be sold at that rate at any subsequent time. New
settlers, who are sufficiently skilled in the quality of the
soil, are in no danger from land-office transactions. Besides the land-offices for the sale of national property,
there are agents who sell on account of individuals. I
can mention Mr. Embree, of Cincinnati, as a gentleman
who does much business in this way, and with much
reputation to himself.
The land office maps are divided into townships [151]
of six miles square.84 The figure represents a portion
of the country laid out in this way.
The positions of the townships relatively to the base
line, are expressed by the numerals I, II, III, &c. and
their positions relatively to the meridian are numbered
on both sides of it east and west, as marked on the top
and bottom. The parallels marked I, I — II, II — III,
III, and so on, are called townships, Nos. I, II, III, &c.
north or south according as they lie on the north or south
side of the base line. Positions in regard of the meridian
are indicated by the numbers 1, 2, 3, &c. at top and bottom, east or west, as they lie on the [152] east or west side
of the meridian line, and are called ranges, Nos. 1, 2, 3,
84 The township system of survey was adopted in the first ordinance for the
sale of public lands, passed May 20, 1785. The authorship of the plan has been
a subject of controversy. It is usually attributed to Thomas Hutchins, first
geographer of the United States, who had earlier embodied the idea in a plan
for establishing military colonies north of the Ohio. See Hindsale, Old Northwest (New York, 1888), p. 262.— Ed.
ft   -.
— 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
&c. For an explanatory example, suppose the designation of the township at the bottom of the right hand
column is required. The square in question, is in the
parallel numbered V south of the base line, and IV east of
the principal meridian. It is therefore called town five
south, range four east.
The townships are divided into sections of a square
mile each, as in town No. 4 north, range No. 3 east.
The figure [page 178] is a larger representation of a
township, showing how it is divided and numbered.
The faint lines represent the divisions of sections into
quarters of 160 acres each. At the auctions [153] of
pubUc lands, and at subsequent sales, lots of this extent
r»*ll Ml
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
are frequently entered.   The sixteenth section of each
township is reserved for the support of a school.
Lands entered at the public sales, or at the Register's
office, are payable, one fourth part of the price at the
time of purchase; one fourth at the expiry of two years;
one fourth at three years,- and the remaining fourth at
four years.   By law, lands not fully paid at the end of
five years, are forfeited to the government, but examples
are not wanting of States petitioning Congress for indulgence on this point, and obtaining it. For money paid in
advance at the land office a discount of eight per cent,
per annum is allowed, till instalments to the amount of
the payment become due. For failures in the payment
of instalments, interest at six per cent is taken till paid.
The most skilful speculators usually pay only a fourth
part of the price at entry, conceiving that they can derive
11 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
a much greater profit than eight per cent, per annum
from the increasing value of property, and occasionally
from renting it out to others. Where judicious selections
are made, they calculate rightly.
The land system now adopted in the United States is
admirable in regard of ingenuity, simpHcity, and Uber-
ality. A slight attention to the map of a district, will
enable any one to know at once the relative situation of
any section that he may afterwards hear mentioned, and
its direct distance in measured miles. There can be no
necessity for giving names to farms or estates, as the designation of the particular township, and the number of the
section is sufficient, and has, besides, the singular convenience of conveying accurate information as to where
it is situated. By the new arrangement the boundaries of
possessions are most securely fixed, [154] and freed alike
from the inconvenience of rivers changing their course,
and complexity of curved lines. Litigation amongst
neighbours as to their landmarks, is in a great measure
excluded. The title deed is printed on a piece of parchment of the quarto size. The date, the locality of the
purchase, and the purchaser's name, are inserted in writing, and the instrument is subscribed by the President of
the United States, and the agent of the general land office.85
It is dehvered to the buyer free of all expense, and may
be transferred by him to another person without using
stamped paper, and without the intervention of a law
practitioner. The business of the land office proceeds
on the most moderate principles, and with the strictest
regard to justice.   The proceeds are applied in defray-
85 At every land office, a register of the weather is kept. Three daily observations of the thermometer, the direction of the wind, the aspect of the sky,
whether clear or clouded, fair or rainy days; and some other occasional phenomena, are noted down.— Flint.
-—~ i8o
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
ing the expense of government, and form a resource
against taxation. The public lands are in reality the
property of the people.
The stranger who would go into the woods to make a
selection of lands, ought to take with him an extract from
the land office map applying to the part of the country he
intends to visit. Without this, he cannot well distinguish entered from unentered grounds. He should also
procure the names of the resident people, with the numbers and quarters of the sections they live on, not neglecting to carry with him a pocket-compass, to enable him to
follow the blazed lines marked out by the surveyor.
Blaze is a word signifying a mark cut by a hatchet on
the bark of a tree. It is the more necessary for the
explorer to be furnished thus, as he may [155] expect to
meet with settlers who will not be willing to direct him,
but, on the contrary, tell him with the greatest effrontery,
that every neighbouring quarter section is already taken
up. Squatters, a class of men who take possession without purchasing, are afraid of being turned out, or of having their pastures abridged by new comers. Others,
perhaps meditating an enlargement of their property, so
soon as funds will permit, wish to hold the adjoining
lands in reserve for themselves, and not a few are jealous
of the land-dealer, who is not an actual settler, whose
grounds lie waste, waiting for that advance on the value
of property, which arises from an increasing population.
The non-resident proprietor is injurious to a neighbourhood, in respect of his not bearing any part of the expense
of making roads, while other people are frequently under
the necessity of making them through his lands for their
own convenience. On excursions of this kind, the prudent will always be cautious of explaining their views, 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
particularly as to the spot chosen for purchase, and without loss of time they should return to the land-office and
make entry.
The new abode being fixed, the settler may be surrounded by strangers. Polite and obbging behaviour
with circumspection in every transaction, become him in
this new situation.
Comparative Advantages of several Parts of the United
States — Temperature of the Climate at Philadelphia
and at Cincinnati -— Pennsylvania — Ohio — Kentucky, and the Western Part of Virginia — Indiana —
Illinois — Missouri — Reflections on Slave-Keeping.
Jeffersonville, {Indiana,)
October, 16, 1819.
To deterrnine the most proper parts of America for new
settlers, is a proposition interesting in its nature, but one
that cannot be solved with precision. This general fact
is to be kept in view, that, in the old populous settlements, land is already too dear to admit of that spontaneous increase in value so profitable in back-wood districts. The sea-board then is to be rejected by those
who would go in search of the most profitable investment
of their capital, and some part of the interior country is
to be selected. The vast migration from the eastern
States to the western, is satisfactory evidence of this state
of the land market; and, besides, countenances the opinion,
that the country first peopled by Europeans is not destined
to such population and wealth as that rationally anticipated in the more fertile western States.
In the most inland parts of the old States, there are still
abundance of good wood-lands reserved for future culti-
m l82
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
vation, embracing an extensive range of climate, and a
great diversity of vegetable products; but the natives of
the temperate climes [157] of Europe will, for the most
part, be averse to live under the scorching sun of Georgia,
or the intense frosts of the province of Maine. Somewhere between the extremes, probably between Hudson
River and Chesapeake Bay, affords the best approximation. At Philadelphia, for example, the mean temperature of the year may be stated at 53.660, that quantity
being a mean of the results obtained by the observations
of Dr. Rush, Dr. Cox,8* and Mr. Legoux; — a determination nearly coinciding with that of Mr. Playfair,87
(53.580) for the mean temperature of the vegetative season, from the 20th of March to the 20th of October, at
Edinburgh, and only 5.86° higher than the mean temperature of the latter place for the whole year. It is true that
the extreme variations are much greater at Philadelphia
than at Edinburgh, but it wfll be in vain to search for a
situation in the United States, possessing that equability
of heat, that characterizes the British islands.
From the tract of country under consideration, Mary-
88 Benjamin Rush (1745-1813), a signer of the Declaration of Independence
and member of the state convention of 1787, was the most eminent American
physician of his day, and by his theories regarding the nature of yellow fever
won recognition abroad. Serving as physician-general in the Revolutionary
army, for twenty-nine years surgeon in the Pennsylvania Hospital, and throughout his life a practicing physician, he nevertheless found time to become identified with many public measures, notably the abolition of slavery, and the extension of public schools, and was a member of nearly every important literary
and philanthropic society in Philadelphia.
John Redman Cox (1773-1864) was, like Rush, a Philadelphia physician,
being trained at the University of Edinburgh. He was for many years professor of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, and edited several medical
journals; but is best known as an early and pronounced advocate of vaccination.— Ed.
87 John Playfair (1748-1819), an eminent Scottish mathematician and astronomer.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
land and Delaware will be deducted, as ineligible to the
man who does not wish to live amongst slaves. He may,
indeed, live in either of these parts without employing the
involuntary labourer, but the man of acute sensibility will
usually be unwilling to injure the feelings of his neighbours, who may conceive that his abstaining from the
detested practice impbes a practical censure on their conduct. Slaves being addicted to theft and other immoralities, form a strong objection against settling amongst
them. The whole stretch of country on the coast, including Maryland, Delaware, part of Pennsylvania, and New
Jersey, may be rejected, on account of the high price of
land. The inland parts of Pennsylvania and New York
States remain free from the objections just mentioned,
and [158] are believed to possess comparative advantages
in respect of climate and soil.
The winter of New York State is the more severe of the
two, and seems to point out Pennsylvania as preferable.
With the single defect of distance from market, Western
Pennsylvania possesses great advantages. The most
prominent are, a healthy cbmate, a good soil, abundance
of coal, iron-ores, bmestone, sandstone, and salt springs,
circumstances that render this country susceptible of a
dense population, and a very high state of improvement.
It being assumed that Pennsylvania lies between parallels of latitude, the most temperate of any on the eastern
coast, the inference is natural, that the States Ohio,
Indiana, Illinois, and part of Kentucky, must have a climate of similar warmth, slightly modified, no doubt, by
the elevation and prevalent winds of particular parts.
Accordingly, observations made at Cincinnati, (which
lies fifty minutes south of Philadelphia) show, that its *
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
annual mean temperature is only six-tenths of a degree
higher than that of the latter place.88
The lands of the State of Ohio are understood to be
more fertile than those of Pennsylvania.— With good
culture, from sixty to a hundred bushels of maize per
acre, are produced. On an acre of land, near the mouth
of the Little Miami, one of the first settlers raised the
extraordinary quantity of one hundred and fourteen
bushels. The advanced state of population, in the southern part of the State, has withdrawn the most choice tracts
of ground from the land-office; good lots, however, may
still be bought from private individuals at a moderate
price. The higher country, lying nearly [159] equidistant from the river Ohio and lake Erie, is understood to
be healthy, fertile, abounding in springs of water, and
possessing a good navigation downward, in wet seasons
of the year, by means of the rivers Muskingum, Scioto,
and Miamis. The northern part of the State is described
as having many large prairies, of a rich quality, but unhealthy.
Kentucky, and the western part of Virginia, have much
land of the first rate quality; but the influx of new settlers
is greatly prevented by the insecurity of titles. Surveyed at an early period, when the country was in the
possession of the hostile aborigines, and before the new
method of laying out public lands was adopted, much
confusion as to boundaries prevails.80   Many conflicting
88 Dr. Drake's Picture of Cincinnati, page 116.— Flint.
88 In Virginia and Kentucky the state made no surveys before disposing of
its lands. The settlers or speculators sought out a tract, made a survey, generally marking it by "blazing" the trees, and had it recorded in the state land-
office. Areas of all shapes and sizes were patented, and unpatented strips of
irregular shape lay between. Moreover, there was no limit to the number of
patents that could be taken out on the same piece of land, the land-office concerning itself not at all with controversies over tides, merely guaranteeing an 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
claims are frequently made on the same tract, and a
degree of litigation has ensued that appears to be almost
interminable. There is another cause tending to retard
the ingress of new comers which it would be invidious to
Indiana is a State more recently settled than any of the
foregoing. The part where the Indian title was extinguished, was, till lately, comparatively small. Non-resident purchasers have shut up a large proportion of it
from immediate cultivation; some judicious entries may
still be made in the land-office, particularly by White
River, and in some other parts at a considerable distance
from the Ohio. The land office map for Jeffersonville
district has many more vacancies in it than that at Cincinnati, showing that it contains much more land not yet
appropriated by individuals. Here, as in Ohio State,
the high lands are considered the most healthy. A
recent purchase from the Indian tribes will make a valuable addition to the State of Indiana.90 The tract is
supposed to contain about six [160] millions of acres, and
is to be soon abandoned by the natives. Already upwards
of a hundred families have entered it, for the purpose of
rearing cattle and hogs. These will have excellent opportunities for selling their stock when purchasers take possession of the newly acquired territory, and will have the
advantage of becoming acquainted with the most valuable
lands previous to the sales. The surveyors, and other
persons, who have visited the new purchase, represent it
entry if no previous title was valid. The original claim to hundreds of thousands
of acres in Kentucky was never settled, the land being eventually held under
possession titles.— Ed.
80 This refers to the Miami cession made at St. Mary's, Ohio, October 6,1818.
By this treaty the Delaware and Miami Indians ceded all central Indiana
between the Wabash and White rivers.— Ed.
to ? I
IT i86
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
to be rich, diversified in surface, with the advantage of
navigable waters in spring and autumn; and that it is
much better adapted to pasturage than the country
adjoining to the Ohio.
In the State of Illinois there are vast quantities of land
to be disposed of by the Government, besides the residuary
of former sales, standing open in the land-office maps at
Shawneetown91 and Edwardsvflle.92 The recent surveys bring about 3,730,000 acres into the market. A
great portion of this land lies on the Sangamon, a southern branch of Illinois river; and I am informed by a
gentleman who has lately been there, that the country is
the best that he is acquainted with. At a period not far
distant, a communication between Lake Erie and Illinois
river may be opened through the river Plein, which
empties itself into the lake.93 Craft are said to have
already passed out of the one river into the other. A
large portion of Illinois, lying between Illinois river and
81 For the early history of Shawneetown, see Croghan's Journals, volume i of
our series, note 108.— Ed.
88 Edwardsville, on Cahokia Creek, twenty miles northeast of St. Louis, was
founded in 1816, and named in honor of Ninian Edwards, first governor of Illinois Territory.— Ed.
88 A canal connecting Illinois River with Lake Michigan was first suggested
by Jolliet in 1673, when he and Marquette returned by that route from their
exploration of the Mississippi River. Such a canal was included in Gallatin's
system of internal improvements, proposed in 1808. President Madison laid
the matter before Congress in 1814; Calhoun, as secretary of war, again called
attention to it, in 1819; and for twenty years it found a place in the governor's
annual message. Finally (1836), its construction was undertaken by the state,
aided by large congressional land grants. The Illinois-Michigan Canal, extending from La Salle, on the Illinois, to Lake Michigan, at the mouth of Chicago River, one hundred miles in all, was completed in 1848, and opened with
much ceremony. In 1882 the state ceded the property to the United States,
in the hope that the latter would enlarge it for a ship canal. But the next step
was taken by the Chicago Sanitary District, which at a cost of about $35,000,000
has completed the Chicago Drainage Canal for the better disposal of the sewage
of Chicago. This canal was opened January 2,1900, after seven years spent in
its construction.    Flint's reference is to the Des Plaines (Plein) River.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
the Mississippi, is a mflitary grant given to the troops who
fought in the late war, and divided amongst them at the
rate of a hundred and sixty acres to each man.9* Shares
of this land have been sold since its partition at a dollar,
and even so low as half a dollar per acre. The mflitary
grant is chiefly low and flat. The soil is rich, and interspersed with [161] prairies 9S but subject to agues: this,
with a great proportion of non-resident owners, must
greatly retard the improvement of the district. The
northern parts of Illinois are understood to possess a
healthy climate.
In the Missouri Territory, large surveys are just completed, these consist of about a million of acres near Osage
river, and about two milHons toward the Mississippi, including the old settlements. The reports of the Missouri
country which I have heard, convince me, that it contains a large quantity of good lands, and that it is favoured
with a fine climate. A gentleman who wintered at St.
Louis, near the mouth of the river Missouri, assured me
that the cold is more severe there than in the Ohio country. Although his opinion was formed from his sense of
feeling, without reference to the thermometer, it is probably just, as the situation of St. Louis is relatively high,
and as much of the neighbouring country is without wood,
admitting a free circulation of winds, from higher and
more northerly parts.
84 The Illinois military grant was the peninsula between the Mississippi and
Illinois rivers, as far north as a line drawn west from the confluence of the Illinois
and Vermilion rivers. The value of the land began to appreciate soon after
Flint's journey, and ten counties were erected within it in 1824-25.— Ed.
88 Van Zandt's description of the military grant.— Flint.
Comment by Ed. Nicholas Biddle Van Zandt, A full description of the soil,
water, timber, and prairies . . . of the military lands between the Mississippi and Illinois rivers (Washington, 1818). The author, the title-page
shows, was "Late, a clerk in the General Land Office of the United States,
Washington City."
;«a. i88
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
In the countries adjoining to Arkansau and Red rivers,
about two millions of acres are laid out for sale. The
former of these rivers is understood to be larger than the
Ohio, and passes through a fertile country. The post of
Arkansau is situated a little northward of latitude 340.9*
A parallel that must be felt uncomfortably hot by most
Europeans. Cotton is the most profitable product; a
vegetable that has hitherto been almost exclusively cultivated by involuntary labourers.
Michigan and north-west territories are understood to
be fertile, and well adapted to rearing cattle. Detroit is
the capital of Michigan.97 In [162] the north-west territory there are two settlements; one at Fort Howard, and
the other Prairie du Chiens.98 A military post is to be
formed at the mouth*of St. Peter's river, below the Falls
of St. Anthony.99 These extensive regions lie in a latitude corresponding with that of the New England States;
and wfll probably be peopled by a hardy race of freemen,
88 For the Arkansas Post, see Cuming's Tour, volume iv of our series, note
87 For the early history of Detroit, see Croghan's Journals, volume i of our
series, note 18.— Ed.
88 For Fort Howard, see Evans's Tour, volume viii of our series, note 82.
The mouth of the Wisconsin had been the site of temporary trading-posts
during the French regime, but the first permanent settlement was begun in 1781
by Indian traders. For the expedition thither the following year, see J. Long's
Voyages, volume ii of our series, pp. 186-191. During the War of 1812-15
Prairie du Chien was alternately in possession of the Americans and British;
see Wisconsin Historical Collections, xiii, pp. 1-164. Upon the return of peace,
the Americans built Fort Crawford (1816) which was for many years a military
post and Indian agency.— Ed.
89 Lieutenant Pike obtained the site for this fort from the Indians in 1805,
but no use was made of it until 1819, when Fort St. Anthony was begun at the
mouth of Minnesota (St. Peter's) River. Upon the recommendation of General Scott, who inspected it in 1824, the name was changed to Fort Snelling, in
honor of the military officer who directed its construction. It was sold by the
government at private sale in 1857; but a congressional inquiry ensuing, a new
arrangement was made in 1871, whereby the fort was retained and the remainder of the military reservation transferred to the purchaser.— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
when the lands of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, can be no
longer procured at a low rate.
Those who would go in search of healthy situations
may keep in view, that their object can only be attained,
at a distance from swamps, and rivers which overflow
their banks; it being well known, when the former
are dried up, and when the latter recede within their
low-water boundaries, vast quantities of mud and vegetable matters are exposed to the heat of the sun, and a
rapid decomposition immediately commences. The gaseous constituents evolved give a perceptible taint to the
air, and are understood to form the miasmata that occasion agues, bilious fevers, and liver complaints. The
best navigable waters, and the most healthy parts of the
country, are, in some measure, incompatible, and seldom
admitting of immediate proximity to one another. Happily, a moderate height of land is usually sufficient to prevent the accumulation of stagnant waters, and to promote
a motion in rivers, that lessens the scope of their inundations, or retains them altogether within their banks. A
degree of elevation conducive to a comparatively healthy
climate, may be usually found within two or three miles
of the river; but as the contaminated air is liable to be
transported by winds, and probably not sufficiently diluted
with the atmosphere in passing over such small spaces;
a greater distance from the source of contagion [163] is no
doubt preferable. I have, on various occasions, seen persons from the higher country, about forty miles north of
this place, whose complexions are apparently more healthy
than those of the people who live on the banks of the
Ohio; and several of late who profess to have a reluctance
to come down to the river on business, at the present season of the year.
In the preceding part of this letter I mentioned the m j
v. ' I
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
high country lying near the heads of the northern tributaries of the Ohio, as having a good climate. That part
of it watered by the Muskingum, the two Sciotas, and the
two Miamis, possesses a downward navigation in spring,
and in the latter end of autumn, but as these rivers enter
the Ohio above the falls at Louisville, the upward navigation is interrupted there during the summer months.
This single circumstance amounts to a weighty objection
against the eastern part of the country under consideration.
The western part has two great navigable streams, the
Wabash, and the Illinois. The Wabash is navigable for
boats drawing three feet of water, to the distance of about
400 miles from its mouth, and in floods about 200 miles
farther. Its largest tributary is White River, which is
navigable to a great distance upward. It waters a fertile
and delightful country, and joins the Wabash below all
its rapids except one run, which forms no great obstruction to the navigation. The new seat of government is
to be erected on the bank of one of the streams of White
River.100 The Illinois is esteemed one of the best navigations in western America. So early as 1773, a Mr.
Kennedy sailed upward to the distance of 268 miles from
its confluence with the Mississippi.101   Sangamon river,
188 In the Indiana enabling act passed in 1816, Congress granted to that state
for a seat of government, any four sections of land thereafter to be acquired
from the Indians. Commissioners appointed by the legislature selected the
present site of Indianapolis in 1820. However, it was then a wilderness over
sixty miles from any store, and the government was not actually transferred
thither until 1825.— Ed.
181 Patrick Kennedy was a trader at Kaskaskia, in the Illinois country, during British ascendency. The expedition referred to was undertaken in search
of copper mines, and extended as far as the mouth of Kankakee River. His
journal of this tour is published in Hutchins, A Topographical Description of
Virginia (London, 1778).— Ed. 1
1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America 191
one [164] of its principal streams, is said to be navigable
for 180 miles by small craft.
From the best information that I can procure, this
western division of the country, north of the Ohio, appears
to be highly eligible to new settlers. It unites the advantages of having high lands and navigable waters in
immediate contact, and a shorter and a better communication with the ocean than any part of western America,
that is to be exclusively cultivated by freemen.
The country on Missouri river, has been already noticed
as possessing advantages in soil and climate, but the difficulty of the navigation upward, amounts to a considerable
objection against adopting that territory. A convention
of the people formed a constitution, and laid before Congress their claim for being admitted as a State in the
Federal Union. The new constitution asserts the right
of the people to hold slaves, and of admitting more
negroes from other parts of the United States. Towards
the conclusion of last Session of the legislature, this question of right was warmly discussed, most of the members
from the Southern States maintained, that Congress have
no right to dictate to the people of any new State on this
subject, viewing it as a matter of internal policy, and one
that does not come under the jurisdiction of the general
government,— and the treaty of Session stipulated, that
the Spanish colonists remaining in the country, should
retain their former rights and privileges.   In opposition %
to these doctrines, the members from Northern States
argued, that Congress has a constitutional right to interfere, and urged as a precedent, the act prohibiting the
introduction of slavery into the country north-west of Ohio
river, with other arguments too numerous to be recapitulated here.   It is painful [165] to learn that the repre- nri
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
%   \
sentatives of the nation are so much divided on this interesting question, and, in the present instance, to reflect, that
in most cases their proceedings are expressions of the will
of their constituents. The affair waits the decision of
next Session, and, in the meantime, much solicitude prevails with regard to it. The most intelligent citizens are
at a loss to anticipate the result, and the members of the
Legislature are probably equally uncertain, whether the
new State shall become a receptacle of slaves, and its
representatives the future advocates^ of a Slave keeping
interest. The slave keeping States, and those which
have prescribed the practice, commonly called free States,
seem to be struggling for predominance. There are now
eleven Slave keeping, and eleven free States, so that Missouri must give a sort of numerical preponderance to
one of the parties. The number of representatives for
free States, are apportioned according to the number of
free persons in each, and in Slave keeping States, they
are regulated by the number of free persons added to
three-fifths of the slaves, a method that has the effect of
strengthening the influence of the Southern party.
When the Missouri question is set at rest,102 the people
of the United States wfll no doubt reflect on the singular
line of demarkation which they have drawn. Supposing
that the internal frontier was produced to the Stony Mountains, or to the Pacific Ocean, every speculative mind
must contemplate it, not merely as a topographical division, but also as a sort of moral boundary, separating a
great nation into two parts, very dissimilar in the habits
and jurisprudence of their people, and will seriously medi-
102 The historic Missouri question was settled by the Missouri Compromise,
passed by Congress February 27, 1821, admitting Missouri as a slave state, but
decreeing that slavery should be excluded from all other territory north of
latitude 360 30' N.' (the south boundary of Missouri).— Ed. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
tate on the possible consequences of the unhappy difference. I do not [166] wish to make any disagreeable reflection on the patriots who have already done so much in
circumscribing the boundaries of human misery; but regret, that such a wide field still remains for their benevolent labours, and that their opponents are pursuing a
course imminently dangerous to themselves, and ill calculated to promote the future tranquillity of the repubbc.
Many disagreeable incidents have already been occasioned by the colbsion of principle and interest. Negroes
frequently desert from their masters, and fly into neighbouring free States. It may be, that the people amongst
whom they seek refuge, do not always show much anxiety
that the owners shall recover their property; and it is perhaps partly on account of this indifference, that the pursuers of slaves adopt forcible means instead of the legal
redress prescribed by free States. Peaceful communities
are thus invaded by small parties of armed men, who
carry off blacks without certifying their right to them. In
two late instances, two free blacks in Indiana were kidnapped by people from Kentucky, and the remonstrances
made on the part of the former State, were not followed
by any satisfactory concession on the part of the latter.
The laws of free States, on this subject, are in disagreement with the usages of slave-holders; a source of
contention that may not be easily removed. Hitherto no
popular rupture has been occasioned by affairs of this
kind; but, it may be asked, where is there any guarantee
that similar discordances may not become more frequent
when a more numerous population of both colours shall
be crowded along the neighbourhood of the slave-line?
And may not the heart-burnings and provincial pride,
now manifest, be wrought up to a higher pitch at a period,
tm 194
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
perhaps not far distant, when the United States will
become confident of a degree of strength that cannot
require such a [167] complete co-operation as heretofore
in repelling the attacks of foreign force ?
If the slave-holding party persist in the extension of
the abuse, it would well become them to give up their
constitutional claims for calling forth the militia of northern states "to suppress insurrections," and for protecting them "against domestic violence," so far as slaves
may be the future disturbers of the peace. Whether
they make such a fair concession or not, it is for them to
reflect whether their northern neighbours, who have so
uniformly and so wisely opposed the evil, and who have
so humanely laboured to eradicate it from amongst themselves, will be willing to imbrue their hands in the blood
of the injured people who have never excited any of their
feelings except pity.
So long as the Missouri question remains unsettled, a
hope may be entertained that liberal sentiments may prevail. The northern people seem to be almost universally
in favour of the restriction, and a part of the finest feelings, and the brightest talents in the Southern States, are
ranged on the side of humanity.
- Doctors — Clergy
Peace — Anecdotes -
Mechanics — Justices
Punishments — Reflec-
Lawyers •
of the
Jeffersonville, {Indiana,)
March 10, 1819.
The greater part of my letters from America have
hitherto been addressed to our late brother John.    Since
■z	 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
we have now to deplore that he is removed [168] from all
correspondence with us, I shall direct this to you.
There are many particulars in the condition of this
country, that must appear surprising to any one who has
not seen a community in its infantine state. We have
here lawyers who have not been regularly educated in the
knowledge of their profession. Blackstone's Commentaries are considered the great medium of instruction.
The young man who has carefully read these, and who
has for a short time wrote for a practising attorney, is
admitted to the bar. It is said that even the latter part
of this preparatory course has, in many instances, been
dispensed with. The occupation of barrister and attorney is usually performed by the same practitioner.103 He
transacts with clients, writes and pleads before courts of
justice, or before a squire, as occasion requires. If we
may judge from grammatical and orthographic inaccuracies, we must be apt to believe that, although some of
them may be esteemed as lawyers, they are not good
English scholars. Lawyers here, as elsewhere, take their
stand as being of the first class in society, and a great
proportion of our back-wood legislators, in State assemblies, and in the general government, are elected from
among this body of gentlemen. Such are many of the
counsellors who grow up in Transmontane-America; but
it would be unfair to omit noticing that men of a very
different character arise here.— I shall only mention one
example in Henry Clay, a Kentuckian lawyer, who has for
eight years made a distinguished figure in the conspicuous
situation of speaker of the House of Representatives at
103 In Great Britain attorneys are not permitted to plead in court on behalf
of their clients; that is the work of the barrister, who must previously have belonged to one of the inns of court. Attorneys (or solicitors) institute actions,
advise clients, draw up legal papers, and act as assistants to barristers.— Ed.
S" 196
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
the capital. Mr. Clay was commissioner on the part
of the United States, at the treaty of Ghent, in 1814, and
plenipotentiary for commercial arrangements with Great
Britain in 1815. The profession [169] also owes much
of its respectability to the ingress of young gentlemen of
liberal education from the Atlantic States, who make
diligent research in the history of cases, and whose libraries are usually stored with law authorities, and the best
models of forensic eloquence in the English language.
The medical men here are all doctors, nor is the inferior
degree, surgeon, at all recognised. In new settlements,
many practise on life and limb who have not obtained the
diploma of any medical school. The smallness of their
laboratories renders it probable, that the universal medicine is included. Here, too, there are honoured exceptions; and the medical colleges instituted at Cincinnati
and Lexington may soon furnish more accomplished
The clergy would perhaps excuse my not giving their
order the precedence, if they were told that men hold
forth here, who can have no pretensions to qualifications
derived from human tuition. Many of their harangues
are composed of medley, declamation, and the most disgusting tautology. I have chiefly in view itinerant
preachers of the methodist sect, who perhaps cry as loud
as ever did the priests of Baal. Their hearers frequently
join in loud vociferations, fall down, shake, and jerk in
a style, that it would be in vain to attempt to describe.
Incapacity is not confined to those situations that ought
to be filled with men of learning, but extends to the rudest
branches of the mechanical arts. It is not thought wonderful to see a blacksmith without a screw plate; and I
have known of several very plain pieces of joiner work 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
that were stolen for patterns by unqualified workmen.
Almost every well-finished article is imported, and [170] so
long as this impolicy is continued, handicraft must remain
in a low state.
We have here justices of the peace who would not be
promoted to the office of constable in some older communities. They are mere petty-foggers, who are occasionally employed in collecting debts, and raising suits to
be brought before their own tribunals. In these cases,
they act in the double capacity of agent for one party, and
judge, and have no repugnance against collecting their
fees in the hour of cause. I shall relate two anecdotes.
One of these gentlemen, who lives at no great distance
from the spot where I write, was hearing the representations of two opponents in open court. They disagreed,
and commenced a fight. The squire, not adverse to this
sort of decision, joined with the constable and some other
people in forming a ring for the combat. A negro man
and a white woman came before the squire of a neighbouring township, for the purpose of being married. The
squire objected to the union as contrary to a law of the
State, that prohibits all sexual intercourse between white
and coloured people, under a penalty for each offence,
but suggested, that if the woman could be qualified to
swear that there was black blood in her, the law would
not apply. The hint was taken, and the lancet was
immediately applied to the Negro's arm. The loving
bride drank the blood, made the necessary oath, and his
honour joined their hands, to the great satisfaction of all
parties.104   The last of these squires [171] was not elected
104 Equivocations of this sort have been so often noticed in the United States,
that they must be looked on as notorious. The practice of naturalizing foreign
seamen by the solemn farce of an old woman's first cradling bearded men, and
then swearing that she rocked them; and that of procuring pre-emption rights
i   1 H.l»
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
by the people, but appointed under the late territorial
government of Indiana. He is a naturalized citizen of
the United States, but a native of England.
The election of a magistrate, is an affair that usually
occasions a considerable sensation in a little town. The
most respectable citizens naturally support the candidate
that IiaJ the real interests of society at heart; and the
more bcentious are as naturally averse to promote the
man who, they bebeve, would punish themselves. It is,
therefore, the relative numerical strength of the two
parties, that frequently determines the character of a town
judge. It is understood, that in new towns by the Ohio,
the unruly part most commonly prevail, and that as they
advance in population and wealth, the more orderly people take the sway. A case has come under my notice,
where the conduct of [172] a squire was at variance with
the practices of a large proportion of his constituents.
to land in new territories, by sowing only a few grains of corn, and subsequently
swearing that a crop has been cultivated on the tract claimed, have been so
frequent, that it would be invidious to particularize. In England, affidavits are
often managed in a simpler way. Swallowing a customhouse oath is there a
well known expression. Mercantile houses of London have kept persons, called
swearing clerks, to vouch for transactions, on being paid at the rate of sixpence
for each oath. If it is not true that men stand at Westminster Hall with straws
in their shoes, indicating their willingness to undertake any dirty job, it is time
that the foul imputation were washed from that pure fountain of justice. Before prosecutions for conspiracies had become so fashionable in England as they
are now, a witness on behalf of the crown was convicted of ten separate perjuries.
It would appear that a false oath is a morsel so hard, that it requires cooking before it can be masticated by the immoral in America, and that a less delicate class
in England can gulp it down in the raw state. Without making any comment
on regulations that protect revenue at the expense of morality; those laws that
set the interests, and the very personal liberties of men at variance with their
consciences, and without inquiring how far evasive subterfuges may palliate the
conduct of the ignorant in their own eyes, or in the sight of the great being invoked; it is suggested, in explanation, that popular institutions have the innate
property of impressing an external reverence for the law, on the worst of men.—
Flint. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
He had resolved on exerting his power to suppress fighting, swearing, and breach of the Sabbath, and to exact the
statutory penalties against the two last of these offences.
On a Sabbath soon after his election, a man carrying a
gun and a wild duck passed his door. He intimated his
resolution of having the offender brought to justice; but
the culprit gave him much abusive language, with profane swearing, and threatened to beat him for the interruption. The squire soon perceived that he was losing his
popularity, and that bis opposition to the wfll of the
sovereign people was injuring his business, and for that
reason resigned his commission. In cases where the
squire is supposed to be remiss in the execution of his
duty, the people sometimes interfere extrajudicially. At
this place, a tailor's shop was lately broke into by night,
and a quantity of goods carried away. On the following
day, a stranger and the lost property were discovered in
an empty house adjoining. He was instantly carried before one of our magistrates. On being interrogated, he
confessed being found in the house, but denied having any
concern with the booty. The squire dismissed him. But
the young men of the town who had assembled to hear the
examination, were too sensible of the strength of the presumptive circumstances of the case, and of the admitted
act of housebreaking, in entering the uninhabited apartment, to allow him to escape with impunity. They caught
him at the door, led him out behind the town, where they
tied him to a tree, and put the cowhide into the hand of a
furious young man, who happened to be half intoxicated.
The whipping was performed with such vigour, that the
blood sprung in every direction. A gentleman of [173]
Cincinnati told me, that, a few years ago, the citizens of
that place had found it expedient to punish in the most —■I
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
summary way; and that he had several times acted as
presiding judge, in what was called a court of uncommon
pleas. Whipping uniformly followed conviction. Cincinnati has now outgrown that stage of population, that
admits of this sort of jurisprudence, and is better regulated than certain large European cities.
Sanguinary punishments are almost universally deprecated. The best of citizens are opposed to them from
philanthropic motives; and the worst view them as subversive of bberties. A considerable proportion of the
humane, and perhaps most of the vicious, concur in arguing, that man has no right to take away the bfe of man in
the punishment of any offence. A doctrine purporting,
in plain terms, that the right or power in the individual
to commit crime, is stronger than that in society to punish
or to protect. Although this extremely lenient principle
has a vast multitude of supporters, it has not been introduced into the criminal code of any state in the Union.
Treason, murder, arson, and piracy committed on the high
seas, remain on the list of capital crimes. The first of
these offences is defined by the constitution of the United
States, as consisting '' only in levying war against them; or
in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort."
No infliction, on this ground, has been found necessary
since the epoch of the Federal Union. Other offences, as
forgery, burglary, robbery, larceny, &c. being treated as
inferior misdemeanours, the machinery of the executioner
is seldom put into operation; and a benevolent peneten-
tiary system is adopted in parts of the country where the
population is sufficiently great to bear the expense. New
[174] settlements cannot afford the large establishments
combining the accommodation for sobtary confinement
and labour.    Whipping is therefore resorted to, as a matter 1
1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America 201
of necessity rather than of choice. It is chiefly to be lamented, that chastisement does not produce immediate
evidence of reformation, as the sufferer usually removes
to another part of the country; and may resume the character of gentleman, even while his back is raw from the
recent correction.
It is with painful sensations that I recollect of the illiberal and ungenerous reflections, uttered by the minions of
a faction in your country, against supposed barbarism in
this. Their favourite topics, as to officers in the Militia
becoming tavern-keepers, and tavern-keepers acting as
Justices of the Peace; the derided punishment of whipping, and the equality of a sovereign people, might at
least be mixed with some allowances for local circumstances; or, if they please, in making a contrast with the
boasted condition of Great Britain, it is obviously un-
candid to draw the subjects of their animadversions from
the fag end of the United States, in the very act of being
peopled by a heterogeneous mixture, uniting in it a considerable proportion of the most uncultivated of Americans
and Europeans; not excluding fugitives, who have fled
before their creditors, and the public prosecutors of England. Waving this consideration altogether, a very striking comparison may be made out in detail. The officers of
the United States' Militia are not professional soldiers, but
citizens. They are not disposable tools, to be employed
in foreign aggressions, or removed in time of peace from
Maine to Georgia, and vice versa, to intimidate into submission fellow citizens who are not their personal acquaintances or immediate [175] kindred; but remain at home,
where they attend trainings, voluntarily and gratuitously.
They are at liberty to follow tavem-keeping, or any other
kind of honest industry, and do not burden their country WWM
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
with a half pay list. Justices of the Peace, however unqualified they may be, and whatever disgrace the conduct
of individuals brings upon themselves, are not appointed
by the influence of a faction. They are not the '' thorough
paced" ministerialists who "have been recruiting officers
for the war, instead of Justices of the Peace;"105 nor are
they the hirelings who promote the revenue from which
their own pensions are drawn, by levying ruinous fines
upon an unrepresented people, for the shghtest infractions
on excise laws, or game laws. The punishment of whipping has been already mentioned, with the causes of its
being adopted in the back-woods. Perhaps it might be
difficult to assign reasons equally satisfactory for resorting
to it in the populous city of Dublin. The practice is comparatively humane in America, as it is appbed in cases
that would be punished with death in Great Britain.
The States of Kentucky and Ohio have erected peneten-
tiaries, not for the purpose of punishment alone, but also
for the reformation of offenders. The horrible prison
scenes witnessed by Howard, Neild, Bennet, Buxton, Fry,
and other philanthropists in Britain, have no counterpart
in America.109 We know of no examples here of imprisonment for a debt of a shilling,107 or for a supposed fraud of
108 Walker's Review of Political Events, p. 125.    London, 1794.— Flint.
106 This succession of philanthropists, whose labors extended over the century
from 1750-1850, worked tirelessly to stir up English public sentiment against
their criminal code, which contained over two hundred and nineteen offenses
punishable by death, and their deplorable system of prison management. Consequently early EngUsh travellers were particularly interested in the American
system. In 1831 a Parliamentary Commission was sent to investigate the
prisons of Pennsylvania and New York, and upon its return certain American
methods were adopted.— Ed.
107 Evidence of Mr. Law, keeper of the Borough Compter, before the Police
Committee, 1814.— Flint. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
one penny.108 Nor have I ever heard of the verdict of an
American [176] coroner's inquest, announcing in their
verdict the death of a prisoner for want of food.109 Debtors
are not obbged here, to sleep edgeways, for want of the
breadth of their backs on a prison floor.110 Nor has any
poor boy been imprisoned for a month in Bridewell for
selling religious tracts without a hawker's license.111 The
equality that consists in universal suffrage; the absence of
privileged orders, and unrestrained industry, is the enviable febcity of the American nation. The people are,
themselves, the lords of the soil, and acknowledge no superiors who can dictate to them in the election of other
representatives than those of the community. There are
no boroughs where the members monopolize the business
of the place, or who chase away the stranger as if he were
an enemy; or who can exact town taxes contrary to the will
of their fellow citizens. Public accounts are not kept
from public inspection. There is no separate borough
representation to be hired over, or owned by the partisans
of a ministry. The clergy are here exalted to the dignity
of citizens, whose interests are identified with those of the
people.    Their condition, relatively to that of their adhe-
108 Inquiry into Prison Discipline, by Thomas Fowell Buxton, Esq., M. P.—
100 The case of J. Burdon in Tothilfields prison in 1817.— Flint.
uo In February, 1818, twenty persons confined in the Borough Compter, slept
in a space twenty feet long and six wide. The fact was confirmed by the governor.— Flint.
111 G. M. a boy of about fourteen years of age; he was confined along with
twenty men and four boys. He was employed by one of them to pick pockets,
and steal from the other prisoners. Caught a fever in jail, which was communicated to his father, mother, and three brothers, one of whom died. From
being a sober, orderly boy, he was changed into a confirmed thief, and stole his
mother's Bible and his brother's clothes.— Buxton's Inquiry.— Flint.
ft JW
1 'i-';
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
rents, is in every respect similar to the situation of dissenting clergymen in Britain. America elevates [177] no
spiritual Lords, on wool-sacks, in her senate, to oppose the
introduction of parochial schools. Nor is there any pobtical body, which courts an alliance with the clergy. I
have never heard of any parson who acts as a Justice of
the Peace, or who intermixes his addresses to the Great
Object of religious worship, with the eulogy of the Holy AUi-
ance. The free scope given to industry is highly conducive to national prosperity. Every man is allowed to
exert his talents, in the pursuit of any honest scheme, and
in any part of the country, without being prevented by
intolerant restrictions or internal taxes. His profits are
his own; and he has no dread of their being wrested from
bim by the idle drones that infest other countries. Hence
it is, that the United States abound in enterprizing people,
who remove, without hesitation, to any part where they
can suppose any advantage may arise, and adopt projects
that would neither be tolerated nor thought of by people
fettered by the trammels of impobcy. The first failure
of a scheme is not here contemplated as finally ruinous,
as a backward step is much more easily retrieved than in
countries more thickly peopled, and where the avenues of
commerce are narrowed by artificial obstructions. There
are no branches of manufactures or professions of any
kind, restricted to those who pay licenses to the government. The farming interest has no monopoly against the
manufacturing: nor has the manufacturing any positive
prohibition against the farmer. Local attachments are
much weakened by the open prospects of an extensive
country, by the abolition of primogenitureship, and by the
introduction of laws that promote family justice. The
citizen is not bound to a particular spot for the preserva-
1818-1820]       Flint's Letters from America 205
tion of his privileges; for he can enjoy [178] the same rights
all over the Union. The mechanic and the labourer do
not remain unemployed in their native township, to establish their right to the poor's rates; for industry is not taxed
in paying bounties to idleness. The landholders of England may quietly enjoy the obeisances of their pauper dependents, and pay in return their poor's rates. They may
be assured, that the more equalized citizens of America
are not ambitious of this interchange of benefits; and that
the excess of public burdens has not yet rendered it customary for Americans to desert their own country, and to
resort to France, on account of the cheapness of provisions.
The present state of North America affords the most
conclusive testimony of the sound policy of a free and unrestricted trade. The United States allow commerce to
regulate itself, according to its own interests, except in
cases where the conduct of other nations imposes the necessity of following another course. Under legislative
forbearance on this subject, the country has made unexampled progress in improvements and population. Under
the jealous and illiberal government of Spain, Florida
remains a contemptible province, that has scarcely a name
amongst colonies. Under the fostering care and restrictions of England, Canada continues to be but a mere remnant of this great continent.
Outline of the American Constitution — From the frequency of Revolutions in Europe, the instabflity of the
American Repubbc is not to be inferred.
Jeffersonville, {Indiana,) Feb. 27, 1820.
The constitution of the United States is not that ephemeral erection, which  the   enemies of  free  government •»■
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
would represent it to be. Its fundamental principles may
be partially traced through the modern theoretical maxims, and the ancient usages of England. This consideration, however, does not derogate from the wisdom of the
founders of the Republic, who have so successfully availed
themselves of the experience of other countries and other
ages, in organizing the system; and maturing it by the
most unremitting dibgence through peace and war. A
review of the progress of American pontics, and of the
reasonings which guided the patriotic legislators, would be
a work of much interest. It would lay before us a large
portion of the best abilities, and the most tried virtue of
the country, engaged in inquiries conducive to the general
interests of tbe nation. It would disclose at every important crisis a venerable assembly, which neither announced their proceedings as the greatest efforts of human
ingenuity, nor assumed the lofty tone of an " omnipotent"
legislature, but recurred to the will of their constituents for
ratification, and, keeping a view to the future as weU as to
the present circumstances, provided the [180] means of
revising and amending their decisions. It was in consequence of this philosophical mode of proceeding, that the
present admirable fabric was gradually erected. It was
thus that the declaration of independence of 1776, a
temperate, but energetic manifesto, mtimating the determination of the colonies to throw off the foreign yoke, was
succeeded by the articles of confederation in 1778. This
compact, although efficient in time of pubbc danger, was,
during the succeeding peace, found to be defective in not
admitting the dignity and promptitude necessary to the
general government, and not furnishing a sufficient guarantee for the permanence of the Union. Under the articles
of confederation, each State retained the right of voting 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America 207
its own suppbes for the common benefit, and to lay taxes
on such articles as were found most convenient; also, to
impose such imposts and duties on foreign trade as they
thought proper. The amount of supplies furnished by
each State was apportioned to the value of the lands,— a
criterion that could never be applied with accuracy. In
this state of things, the acts of Congress could in various
cases be only complied with, through the intervention of
thirteen separate State Assembbes. The power given to
Congress to adjust the affairs of foreign relations, was rendered almost nugatory by the diversity of commercial
regulations of separate States. It became possible, that
a separate State might be at variance with a foreign nation,
on affairs not at all interesting to the other members of the
Union, and that internal discord might arise from opposite interests, rivalship in commerce, the distribution of
territory, and a variety of other latent causes.112 To avoid
[181] these inconveniences and dangers, the constitution
was framed by a convention of delegates from the States,
whose session ended on the 17th of September, 1787. A
Congress was elected on the new establishment, and General Washington was unanimously appointed President
in the succeeding year.113
m Those who would wish to have a collected view of the principles of this subject, may consult the Federalist, a collection of interesting essays on the new
constitution, written in 1788, by Messrs. Hamilton, Jay, and Madison.— Flint.
ia Some pious observers of the occurrences of Providence, have remarked that
the Spanish Armada, equipped for the invasion of Britain, was destroyed in the
year 1588; that the Revolution in that country happened in 1688; and, in seeking
for an event to mark the commencement of another century, it has been observed
by the loyal in Britain, that his Majesty, George the Third, recovered from a
most deplorable visitation in 1788. If there be any American descendants of
Britain, who are pleased with a system of chronology that contemplates the
great events of Providence as revolving in a centenarian orbit, they may also
notice a corresponding occurrence in the consummation of their liberties in
the otherwise memorable year 1788.— Flint. "Ml
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
x m
The constitution vests the legislative power in a Congress, consisting of a House of Representatives, and a
Senate, and the executive power in the President. The
members of the House of Representatives are elected
biennially by the people. Each State has at least one representative, and not more than one for every thirty thousand persons in it, and two Senators, who are elected by
the State legislature, at intervals of six years, and are distributed into three classes, so that the seats of a third part
of them are vacated biennially. The President, and Vice-
President are elected for four years by the ballot of electors
appointed by the legislatures of the States j tbe number of
electors in each State being equal to that of the representatives and senators, whom the same state has a right to
send to Congress.
Bills for raising revenue originate in the House of Representatives; and every bill that passes both [182] houses,
must be presented to the President for his approbation.
In the event of his disapproving of a bill, it must be returned to the house where it was originated, and if two-
thirds of the members of both houses agree, on re-consideration, to pass it, then the bill becomes a law. The President is commander-in-chief of the army, navy, and mibtia,
and may in certain cases, grant reprieves and pardons for
offences against the United States. With the concurrence
of two-thirds of the Senate, he appoints ambassadors, and
other pubbc ministers, consuls, judges of the supreme
court, and all other officers of the United States, whose
appointments are not provided for by the constitution;
but the Congress has the power of making future laws for
vesting appointments in the President alone, in the courts
of law, or in the heads of departments. The President
may fill up vacancies in the Senate during recess, by grant- 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America 209
ing commissions terminating at the end of next session.
Whenever two-thirds of both houses deem it necessary,
they shall propose amendments of the constitution; or
shall call a convention for that, on the appbcation of two-
thirds of the state legislatures.
The duties and powers of the general government are
concisely denned by the constitution, and may be expressed
summarily, as embracing the subjects of commerce, finance,
negociation, and war. All other objects are reserved, as
falling under the jurisdiction of the separate state assem-
bbes. These include local legislation, adnunistration of
justice between persons in the same states, and the supervision of agriculture.
Although it appears, that much care has been bestowed
in drawing the line that separates the prerogatives of the
general government, from those [183] of its individual
members, still duties or powers derived from impbcation,
are occasionally assumed by both departments. We have
two recent examples in view. In 1819, the legislatures of
several states imposed a heavy tax on the branches of the
United States Bank, situated in the respective states. The
United States Bank, it must be noticed, is chartered by
Congress, and is tbe organ through which the national
government transacts its pecuniary affairs. The bank
refused payment, and obtained a judgment in its favour
by the supreme or federal court.114 Again, the admission
of the territory of Missouri as a State in the Union, has
lately been discussed in Congress. One of the principal
points of the debate was the question, Whether the preexisting States have a right to dictate to States about to
114 The power Of a state to tax the United States Bank was settled in the celebrated case of McCulloch versus Maryland, handed down March 6, 1819
(4 Wheaton, 316). Ohio refused to be bound by this decision, and her case was
decided in 1824 (9 Wheaton, 738).— Ed. 2IO
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
be admitted into the Union, any restriction against slave-
keeping? And it is understood that scruples on this
question of right have induced several members to
vote against the restriction, whose sentiments are opposed
to slavery.
The distribution of business, of which a brief outline has
just been given, is admirably adapted to an extensive
sphere of action. The national councils are thus devoted
to national concerns, and not to such petty affairs as framing pubbc acts for demobshing the fences of private property to make room for highways, nor in borough pontics,
nor in deciding in the disputes of private individuals.
Local affairs are regulated by local authorities, who are
best able to judge of them; and this prevents any ground
of complaint to arise against the national government on
account of these. The State legislatures are, besides,
filled annually by a free vote of the people, who have frequent opportunities of allaying their own discontents by a
change of men, and a change of measures.
Those who predict an early dissolution of the [184]
American Union, and who affirm that the country is naturally divided into two nations by the Allegany ridge, might
with equal propriety say, that the Thames and the Severn
are destined to water the territories of two distinct governments. And the remark that, in the event of the navigation of the Mississippi being interrupted by an enemy, the
western country would be subjugated, is another position
that may be appbed to other rivers, and to other countries.
It is not to be forgotten that, previously to the cession of
Louisiana in 1801, the Spanish government claimed the
exclusive benefit of that river, and that the privilege of
navigation was the principal object that induced the government of the United States to purchase the territory, in 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
21 I
1803. Louisiana being acquired at the general expense,
and not by the inhabitants of the western country alone,
makes it evident that the transaction was viewed as an important national affair. Perhaps it was with the intention of producing a dismemberment, that the ministry of
England made the attack on New Orleans. The defence
was conducted in a national form, and not exclusively by
the people of the western country; and the British government was not gratified by any overture of the inhabitants
for becoming tributary. The supposed conspiracy of
Aaron Burr, for detaching the transmontane country from
the Eastern States, was not found to amount to levying war
against the Union.116 The evidence that could be obtained from his small party of associates and others, was not
sufficient to convict him. The demagogue is not looked on
as a personage dangerous to pubbc tranquilHty;— a decisive proof that the American people are confident in the
strength of the ties by which they are knit together. The
western settlements have the strongest incitements to remain in close conjunction, with their eastern neighbours.
[185] A separation from them in times of war would cut
off all communication by land with the eastern coast; an
inconvenience that would greatly aggravate any attempt to
blockade the mouth of the Mississippi. A separation
would retard the ingress of population; it would injure
internal trade; it would occasion an additional expense in
supporting a separate government, and it would deprive
them of the protection of the United States' Navy. It will
scarcely be alleged, that the Eastern States have an interest in dissolving the compact with the Western; as by that
m A recent contribution to the history of the Aaron Burr conspiracy, drawn
largely from material in the Mexican archives, is McCaleb's Aaron Burr Conspiracy (New York, 1903). Isaac Jenkinson's Aaron Burr (Richmond, Indiana,
1902), throws new light on Burr's relations to Hamilton and Jefferson.— Ed '■i*wm
■fell': \
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
step they would not only forego a rapid accumulation of
strength, but would incur the danger 01 converting fellow
citizens into the most powerful enemies. They would lose
that important branch of revenue, which arises from the
sale of public lands, and they would no longer participate
in tbe fur trade.
To infer tbe instabflity of the American repubbc from
the frequency of revolutions in Europe, is altogether preposterous. A different state of society, and the difference
of the pobtical institutions to be compared, remove that
parity of condition essential to analogical deduction. The
executive power in America, does not extend to declaring
war at pleasure; nor to dissolving the legislature. The
president, whose term of service is only four years, has
not the means nor the motives for family aggrandizement
which prevail under hereditary succession. The members of the House of Representatives have their seats from
the universal suffrage of the people; and the senators get
their dignity and seats from the representatives in State
Assembbes, who are themselves popularly elected, and
who cannot promote obnoxious men without incurring
pubbc odium and future exclusion. The representation is
equally distributed. Placemen and pensioners [186] are
effectually debarred from being members of either house;
under these conditions the few have it not in their power
to dictate to the many. Ambitious projects, such as disfigure the histories of other countries, are precluded. Accessions of territory are not obtained by conquest, but by
purchase. The object sought in these treaties is the right
of soil; and not the power of taxing or enslaving men.
No yoke is imposed but that upon the labouring steer.
The domestic policy of the United States exhibits twenty-
four republics, each having its own constitution, without 1
1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America 213
any other restriction than conformity to that of the nation.
In regard of foreign relations and general interests, all
the States are cemented into one nation. If one or more
States are invaded, the citizens have a right to the protection of the Union; and in the case of controversies or disputes between States, the judicial power provided under
the general constitution is the umpire between them.
Had the individual members of the United States placed
a hereditary sovereign at the head of each, and put the
reins of government in the hands of a few, we might have
heard, before this time, of American courtiers making
treaties to last forever; and violating them so soon as the
strong found it convenient to attack the weak; of wars furnishing pretexts for raising vast sums to support the views
of a party or a faction, perhaps for depriving the people
of their liberties, and subjugating their neighbours; and
of winding up the whole with holy leagues, admitting of
no subsequent arbitrator but the sword.
The organization, of which a brief outline has just been
given, is, in theory, well adapted to insure internal tranquillity, and protection against invasion. In practice, it
has hitherto been conducive [187] to both these objects;
and to a degree of national prosperity, that is unparalleled
in the present age. The people govern for themselves,
and are too sensible of the value of their rights to allow
them to pass into other hands. Power is delegated only
for a short period; and the representatives are closely
watched by their constituents. Should a congress propose to disfranchise a part of the people; or to engraft
a borough system on the present equal representation; or
to establish septennial elections; every member voting for
the obnoxious motion might expect to be marked out and
expelled for ever.    A case somewhat in point occurred in
m Iff
>      h
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
1817.118 Congress then passed a law for increasing the
very moderate compensation for the services of members.
The act was conceived to be unconstitutional: an alarm
was sounded all over the country; the supporters of increased compensation were left out in the election of 1818;
and the offensive law was repealed in the ensuing session.
A veneration for the constitution is probably the most universal characteristic of American citizens: but they act, as
if their united exertions were necessary to keep it in force;
and are sensible, that neglect on their part might soon
render the important document a dead letter. Every
timely check given to the progress of corruption, is removing the necessity of convulsion to a later date. The people
having the means of correction in their own hands, the
political institutions of this country are to be esteemed as
less mutable than the systems that consist entirely of the
unmixed ingredients of disease and death. It would be
too sanguine to suppose that the American people shall
preserve their liberties for ever; but it may be safe to
affirm, that nothing decisive in the fate of this country [188]
is to be augured from the histories of republics without
representation, or of monarchies without popular control. Before Americans relinquish free government, they
must be ignorant of their present knowledge; they must
cease to teach their children to prize their privileges; and
no longer inculcate esteem for the memory of their dauntless ancestors, who fought for the inheritance. Washington, Frankbn, and an host of other patriots, must be for-
118 This law was passed in March, 1816, and its effect was felt in the elections
of that same year. From Ohio, Delaware, and Vermont not one congressman
was re-elected; in Kentucky, but three out of ten; in South Carolina, three out
of nine; in Maryland, four out of nine; and in Pennsylvania, thirteen out of
twenty-three. Jefferson wrote to Gallatin: '' There has never been an instance
before of so unanimous an opinion of the people, and that through every state
of the Union.''— Ed.
Hi' 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
gotten. The avarice of foreign governments, and the
sufferings of foreign people, must pass into oblivion, and
cease to be monitors. In short, a dark age must arrive
before the throne of despotism can be erected here.
State Legislatures — A predilection for dividing Counties,
laying out New Towns and Roads — The influence of
Slavery on the habits of People who live in the neighbourhood of Slave-Keeping States — Elopements from
Kentucky — Banking.
Jeffersonville, {Indiana,) March 10, 1820.
The legislatures of new States consist only of a few members. The consequence is, that pubbc acts for the exclusive advantage of private individuals are occasionally
passed through influence or intrigue; and the commendations which I have bestowed on the general government
of America must not be held to apply mdiscriminately to
the administration of the local governments, at least in
newly estabbshed [189] states. Much of the business (it
is said) is privately arranged, before the questions are discussed in the house. Combinations are formed for effecting particular purposes. These are called log rolling; a
very significant metaphor, borrowed from the practice of
several farmers uniting in rolling together large timber
to be burnt. A number of bills are frequently conjoined
by their movers, so that a member who takes a deep interest in one must vote for all of them, to obtain the suffrage
of the separate partizans. The member who deserts
from the cabal might be leaving his own motion without
any other supporter but himself. An enlightened gentleman told me, that he was induced to vote for the ridiculous law of this State regarding intercourse between white
mm f*l
51 i
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
and coloured people, in consequence of its being previously
conjoined with other bills.
The laying out of new counties, county towns, and lines
of road, seems to be a gratifying duty to back-wood legislators. Where a county includes a considerable tract of
country, it must be divided into two. Where it is not
large enough to admit of bisection, the county wanted
must be made up from the extremities of four or five which
are contiguous. A large population is not a prerequisite:
yet the convenience of the people is the pretext. A few
neighbours who propose that their settlement should be
made the nucleus of the new establishment, petition the
Assembly for a subdivision. If this is granted, commissioners are appointed to fix the new seat of justice. An
eager contest for private advantage ensues, and although
the ostensible object is public convenience, the new city
is perhaps placed near the outline of its jurisdiction.
You will be much surprised to hear of the avidity which
prevails in this country for towns consisting of a very few
log cabins. For a convenient [190] distribution of seats
of justice, and for roads that are at best openings cut
through the woods, with the stumps remaining, without
side ditches, and without any other bridges through
marshes or streams, than a few pieces of timber laid down
side by side across the way. But an explanation is made,
when you are told that pettifoggers by this means create
situations for themselves, and a few of their constituents
who are in the employment of squires, county commissioners, prosecuting attornies, supervisors of roads, and constables. With numbers the design is to increase the
value of their contiguous lands at the public expense,
instead of improving them by their own industry. By
such means, they frequently succeed in selling at an ad- 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
vance of fifty, or even a hundred per cent, per annum; and
remove to more recent settlements, where they are able to
purchase a larger extent of land, and where they can continue their favourite trade of making counties, towns, and
Towns are laid out by persons who sell lots of about a
fourth or a fifth part of an acre: these sometimes sell at
from a hundred to three hundred dollars, even in situations
where scarcely a single spot of the neighbouring woods is
cleared. After a town has made some progress in point of
improvement and population, lots usually rise in price,
from three hundred to a thousand dollars; and, in the
larger towns, to a much higher value. At present the
mania of purchasing town lots is rather declirdng. Holders are unwilling to see the prices reduced. They continue to talk of former rates, and to keep them up; on
exchanging one lot for two, say, that for the better one,
one thousand dollars is paid in two lots worth five hundred
each. Their conduct very much resembles that of a person who said, that he sold a dog at forty guineas, and
explained the transaction by stating, [191] "that he was
paid in two dogs, each worth half that sum." I lately
saw a town lot sold for state or county taxes, at a fourth
part of the price paid for it two years ago. The rents of
the worst kind of houses amount to upwards of fifty per
cent, per annum, on the price of erection. A miserable
cabin, that could scarcely be let at all in your country,
or would not rent at £1 10s. a-year, gives here as much per
month. The people are of consequence closely crowded
together; several families frequently inhabiting a house of
one apartment, without any inner door, so that when the
street door is open, passengers may see the inmates at
table, and the other particulars of the house.   The beds
1 '*»■
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
are ranged round the walls, like so many looms in a
weaver's work-shop. In various instances I have seen
families living in temporary huts, built of small pieces of
decayed timber collected in the woods, laid upon one
another in the manner in which sawyers erect piles of
timber to be dried. The roofs were covered with bark,
and the interstices of the walls left open, so that at a distance I could count the persons within, as if they had been
birds in a cage. Near to this place a family lately lived,
for several weeks, under an old waggon that was turned
upside down. In towns along the banks of the Ohio, a
class of people are to be seen, who depend on traffic with
travellers, and with the scanty population in the rear of
them. Without extravagant profits on the trifling capital
employed, they could not subsist. Many of them seem
to be immoral, dissipated, and without rural or domestic
industry. Few of their lots are cultivated as gardens;
and the spinning-wheel, (so far as I have observed,) is
not to be seen in their houses.
The evils of slave-keeping are not confined to the parts
of the country where involuntary labour [192] exists, but
the neighbourhood is infected. Certain kinds of labour
are despised as being the work of slaves. Shoe-blacking,
and, in some instances, family manufactures, are of this
class of labours; and it is thus, that in some of the small
towns on the north side of the Ohio, the mechanic and the
labourer are to be seen drawing water at the wells; their
wives and daughters not condescending to services that
are looked upon to be opprobrious. It was for the same
reason, that on one occasion, some paupers in a poor's
house at Cincinnati refused to carry water for their own
Elopements from Kentucky into Indiana are frequent. 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
Since my arrival in this very town, I have witnessed two
examples. I do not now allude to slave-keepers losing
their negroes, but their white daughters, who escape to get
married. In a former letter I mentioned the watchfulness
of parents over young ladies in Kentucky, and would only
add, that there, as elsewhere, restraint does not seem to be
conducive to contentment. Those who are acquainted
with the state of society in Turkey, are perhaps the most
able to give a decided opinion on this very interesting
Of upwards of a hundred banks that lately figured in
Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, the money of
two is now only received in the land-office, in payment for
public lands. Many have perished, and the remainder
are struggling for existence. Still giving for their rags
"bills as good as their own'" but, except two, none pay in
specie, or bills of the United States Bank. Discount varies
from thirty to one hundred per cent.
The recent history of banking in these western States,
is probably unrivalled. Such a system of knavery could
only be developed in a country where avarice and credulity are prominent features [193] of character. About
four years ago, the passion for acquiring unearned gains
rose to a great height; banking institutions were created
in abundance. The designing amongst lawyers, doctors,
tavern-keepers, farmers, grocers, shoemakers, tailors, &c.
entered into the project, and subscribed for stock. Small
moieties must actually have been advanced to defray the
expenses of engraving, and other incidents necessary to
putting their schemes in operation. To deposit much
capital was out of their power; nor was it any part of then-
plan. Their main object was to extract it from the community.   A  common  provision in charters, stipulated, nm
U r
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
that the property of each partner was not liable, in security,
to a greater amount than the sum he had subscribed. This
exempted the banks from the natural inconveniences that
might be occasioned by the insolvencies and elopements
of members. Money was accumulated in great abundance, as they bought property; lent on security; and became rich. But their credit was of short duration. When
it was found, that a few of them could not redeem their
bills, the faith of the people was shaken. A run on the
paper shops commenced; and a suspension of specie payments soon became general. Had the people been at
liberty to recover a composition, as in the bankrupt concerns of Britain, the evil might have, in some measure,
been remedied before this time; but chartered privileges
granted by legislators concerned in the fraud, prevented
legal recourse. Even these could not have been sufficient
protection, but for the co-operation of subsequent laws
dictated by the same interest. The state of Indiana, for
example, passed in 1818, what was called "the replevy
law," bberating the debtor for a year from the claim of
the creditor, who refuses to accept depreciated money.
This [194] law, though sufficiently injurious to creditors,
could give no stability to swindling banks. It was, therefore, succeeded, by an act during last session, prohibiting
landed property to be sold by execution, under two-thirds
of the appraised value, and that to be ascertained by five
freeholders. The debtor is by the same act allowed to set
apart any portion of his property he chooses, to discharge
execution. Freeholders, it may be observed, are a class
of men naturally adverse to depreciating their own land,
by setting a low value on that of their neighbours. This
disposition is the more dangerous at present, especially
when lands are falling considerably in price, in conse- 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
quence of the depreciation of the money which lately
stamped such a high value on property. In Kentucky, a
total suspension of law process for sixty days, was followed
by a "replevy law." In the State of Ohio, enactments
similar to those of Indiana were passed. Here is a combination of laws for the protection of knaves, who have
swindled the people.117 Those who have either bought
property on credit, or borrowed money, while rags passed
at a high price, have got debts of a great amount to pay,
while property can no longer be sold at former prices.
Debtors of this description have united with bankers, in
getting the infamous laws passed just noticed. While the
property law was pending in the Assembly of Indiana,
debtors were in full activity sending forward petitions in
favour of the impobcy, and persuading the ignorant of
the propriety of the measure. In the small town of Jeffer-
sonville, two petitions were made. These unnatural expedients, however, cannot long serve the purpose intended.
Land continues to fall. The debtor may, for a short time,
be kept out of jail, and the peculator from being stripped
of his ill-gotten gains; but the pubbc is [195] receiving
dearly bought instructions, and must set a watch over
future elections.
Although the relations of debtor and creditor are equal
in the amount of property involved in their transactions;
and although the obligations imposed by contracts naturally render creditors the more powerful class in civilized
UT This practically stopped execution sales, as the freeholders appraised property so high that no bidder would offer two-thirds of the appraised value. Flint
regards the replevin laws as a protection to knaves; as a matter of fact, they were
a protection to the majority of the people of the Western States, who had bought
their lands on credit, and in the depreciated state of paper money found themselves helpless to pay, and their land about to be sold at a great sacrifice. See
McMaster, History of the United States, iv, pp. 506-510.— Ed. j^m'
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
society, the recent proceedings of legislatures in this western country, would lead us to believe, that a majority in
numbers or artifice, or perhaps in both, stands on the
debtor side of the ledger. Republicans are not to be
whipped like slaves, nor openly and directly taxed to such
extent as Europeans are, but they may be deluded. Men
of their own electing have practised upon them with success, and the emoluments to be gained in this way, are
apparently the great stimulus that prompts men to intrude
themselves into State governments. No rational mind
can discover profit enough in two dollars per day; or patriotism enough in cheating their constituents; or popularity
enough in eloquence that few can hear, and none can ever
see in print, to collect talent and integrity in council.
At first sight, it would appear to be a paradox, that any
individual State can be allowed to grant charters to banks,
or to frame laws that protect pecuniary fraud, while a
section of the constitution of the United States prohibits
■such procedure by the following words:—"No state shall
coin money; emit bills of credit; make any thing but gold
and silver coin a tender in paying of debts; pass any ex-
post facto law; or law impairing the obligation of contracts." The western States cannot avoid being brought
to issue with the above very distinct clauses, as every charter granted by them, is an act tolerating the substitution
of paper, instead of gold and silver; and their replevy
laws, and property [196] laws, are in reabty, making paper
a legal tender. Besides, several estabbshments are chartered under the appellations of State Banks; and that
in Kentucky, for example, consists partly of stock owned
by the State. The conduct of Congress is not marked by
any known act of partiabty towards the makers of unconstitutional money. On the contrary, the collectors of the
United States' revenue are not allowed to accept of depre- 1818-1820]      Flint's Letters from America
ciated bills. Their receiving the money of inferior banks
while at par, though apparently countenancing them, has
been, in effect, the best means hitherto adopted for effecting their ruin. The receivers of revenue lodge the money
received in the United States' Bank, whose officers almost
immediately present the money to the Banks that issued
it, and demand payment in specie, or bills of the United
States' Bank. It has been in this way that many of the
paper manufacturers were obliged to suspend specie payments; and it was partly on account of this mode of operating on local banks, that several State Assemblies voted
an enormous tax to be levied on the branches of the
United States' Bank situated in the respective States.—
That tax was mentioned in a former letter, with a notice
that the supreme court had given judgment in favour of
the National Bank; and the reasonings on which the decision was founded, were pubhshed in a most luminous
style. The supreme court being the arbitrator in all
questions rising out of the constitution, Congress have the
power of making the United States a party in defending
against encroachments in the prerogative of the general
government. In the present banking concern, they prudently decline interference, seeing that experience will
soon open the eyes of a people who can, at any time, counteract the [197] abuse by excluding bankers, and their
adherents, from State legislatures. On this occasion,
there can be no necessity for forcing the interests of the
people down their throats, nor can there be any danger
that this infraction of the constitution will be perpetuated.
That the present disorders in banking are not extended
over the whole of the United States is manifested by the
tables of'exchange periodically published at New York.
These show that the depressions of money are chiefly confined to the western country, where the substantial capital «*p
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 9
is small, and where, (there is reason to believe,) a large
proportion of the people are less acute.
The error committed in the Western States, is not in