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THE INTERNAL STATE OF AMERICA,
Being a true Defcription of the Interest and Policy
of that vast Continent.
"HERE is a tradition, that, in the planting of
New England, the first settlers met with many disliculties and hardships ; as is generally the cafe when a civilized people attempt establifhing themselves in a widerness country. Being piously difpored, they fought relief from Heaven, by laying their wants and distreffes before the Lord, in frequent set days of fasting and prayer. Constant meditation and discourse on these subjects kept their minds gloomy and discontented ; and, like the children of Israel, there were many disposed to return to that Egypt which perfecution had induced them to abandon. At length, when it was proposed in the assembly to proclaim another falt, a farmer of plain sense rose, and remarked, that the inconveniences they suffered, and concerning which they had so often wearied heaven with their complaints, were not so great as they might have expected, and were diminishing every day, as the c?. lony strengthened; that the earth began to reward their labour, and to furnish liberally for their sublistence; that the seas and rivers were found full of fish, the air sweet, and the climate healthy; and, above all, that they were there in the full enjoyment of liberty, civil and religious : he therefore thought, that reflecting and conversing on these subjects would be more comfortable, as tending
more to make them contented with their situaticn; and that it would be more becoming the gratitude they owed to the Divine Being, if, instead of a fast, they should proclaim a thankigiving. His advice was taken, and from that day to this they have, in every year, observed circumstances of public felicity sufficient to furnish employment for a thankfgiving day, which is therefore constantly ordered and religiously observed.
I see in the public newspapers of different states frequent complaits of bard times, deadness of trade, fcarcity of money, &c. &c. It is not my intention to affert or maintain that these complaints are entirely without foundation. There can be no country or nation existing, in which there will not be fome people fo circumstanced as to find it hard to gain a livelihood; people who are not in the way of any profitable trade, and with whom money is scarce, because they have nothing to give in ex. change for it; and it is always in the power of a small number to make a great clamour. But let us take a cool view of the general state of our affairs, and perhaps the prospect will appear less gloony than has been imagined.
The great business of the continent is agriculture. For one artisan, or merchant, I suppose, we have at least one hundred farmers, and by far the grcataest part cultivators of their own fertile lands, froin whence many of them draw not only food necessary for their subfifience, but the materials of their cloathing, so as to need very few foreign supplies; while they have a surplus of productions to dispose of, where by wealth is gradually accumulated. Such has been the goodness of Divine Providi nce to these regions, and so favourable the climate, that, fince
the three or four years of hardship in the first fets tlement of our fathers here, a famine or fcarcity has never been heard of amongst us ; on the contrary, though some years may have been more, and others. leis plentiful, there has always been provifion enough for ourselves, and a quantity to spare for exportation. And although the crops of laft year were generally good, never was the farmer better paid for the part he can spare commerce, as the publithed price currents abundantly testify. The lands he poff:fles are also continually rifingsin value with the increase of population; and, on the whole, he is enabled to give such good wages to those who work for him, that all who are acquainted with the old world must agree, that in no part of it are the labouling poor lo generally well fed, well clothed, well lodged, and well paid, as in the United States of Amicrica,
If we enter the cities, we find that, since the revolution, the owners of houses and lots of ground have had their interest vastly augmented in value; rents have risen to an astonishing height, and thence encouragement to increase building, which gives employment to an abundance of workmen, as does also the increased luxury and splendour of living of the inhabitants thus made richer. These workmen all demand and obtain much higher wages than any other part of the world could afford them, and are paid in ready money. This raiek of
people therefore do not, or ought not, to complain of hard times; and they make a very confiderable part of the city inhabitants.
At the distance I live from our American fisherie, I cannot speak of them with any degree of certainty ;- but I have not heard that the labour of thei valuable race of men employed in them is worfe pnid, or that they meet with lefs success, than. before the revolution. The whale-men, indeed have been deprived of one market for their oil; but another, I hear, is opening for them, which it is hoped may be equally advantageous; and the deinand is constantly increasing for their spermaçeti candles, which there bear a much higher price than formerly.
There remain the merchants and shop-keepers. Of these, though they make but a small part of the whole nation, the number is considerable, too great
indeed for the business they are employed in; for the consumption of goods in every country has its limits; the faculties of the people, that is, their ability to buy and pay, is equal only to a certain quantity of merchandise. If merchants calculate amiss on their proportion and import too much, they will of course find the fale dull for the overplus, and some of them will say that trade languishies. They should, and doubtless will, grow wiser by experience, and import less.
lf too many artificers in town, and farmers from the coun. try, flattering themselves with the idea of leading easier lives, turn fhop-keepers, the whole natural quantity of that business divided among them all: may afford too small a fare for each, and occasion complaints that trading is dead; these may also suppose that it is owing to scarcity of money, while in fact, it is not so much from the fewness of buy. ers, as from the excesive number of sellers, that the mischief arises; and, "if every shop-keeping farmer and meclianic would return to the use of his.plough and working tools, tbere would remain of widows, and other women, shop keepersiuftici
ent for the business, which might then afford them a comfortable maintenance.
Whoever has travelled through the various parts. of Europe, and observed how small is the proportion of people in affluence or easy circumstances there, compared with those in poverty and misery; the few rich and haughty landlords, the multitude of poor, abject, rack-rented, tythe-paying tenants, and half-paid and half-starved ragged labourers ; and views here the happy mediocrity that su generally prevails throughout these states, where the cultivator works for himself, and supports his family in decent plenty ; will, methinks, see abundant reason to bless Divine Providence for the evident and great difference in our favour, and be convinced that no nation known to us enjoysia greater share of human felicity,
It is true, that in some of the states there are parties and discords ; but let us look back, and ask if we were ever without them? Such will exist wherever there is liberty; and perhaps they help to preserve it. By the collision of different sentiments, sparks of truth are struck out, and politicali light is obtained. The different factions, which ! at present divide us, aim all at the public goods, the differences are only about the various modest of promoting it. Things, a&tions, meafures, and objects of all kinds, present themselves to the minds", of men in such a variety of lights, that it is not polible we thould all think alike at the fame time on every subj:et, when hardly the same man retains at all times the same ideas of it. Parties are there fore the commou lot of humanity; and ours are by no means more mischievous or less beneficial tban those of other countries, nations, and ages, enjoy..