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A Year's Residence in the United States of America Vol 3
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YEAR'S RESIDENCE, &c.
INTRODUCTION TO THE JOURNAL.
Philadelphia, 30th Sept. 1818.
853. IT seems necessary, by way of Introduction to the following Journal, to say some little matter respecting the author of it, and also respecting his motives for wishing it to be published.
854. As to the first, I am an Englishman by birth and parentage; and am of the county of Lancaster. I was bred and brought up at farming work, and became an apprentice to the business of Bleacher, at the age of 14 years. My own industry made me a master-bleacher, in which state I lived many years at Great Lever, near Bolton, where I employed about 140 men, women, and children, and had gene rally about 40 apprentices. By this business, pursued with incessant application, I had acquired, several years ago, property to an amount sufficient to satisfy any man of moderate desires.
855. But, along with my money my children had come and had gone on increasing to the number of nine. New duties now arose, and demanded my best attention. It was not sufficient that I was likely to have a decent fortune for each child. I was bound to provide, if possible, against my children being stripped of what I had earned for them. I, therefore, looked seriously at the situation of England; and, I saw, that the incomes of my children were all pawned (as my friend Cobbett truly calls it) to pay the Debts of the Borough, or seat, owners. I saw, that, of whatever I might be able to give to my children, as well as of what they might be able to earn, more than one half would be taken away to feed pensioned Lords and Ladies, Soldiers to shoot at us, Parsons to persecute us, and Fund-holders, who had lent their money to be applied to pur poses of enslaving us. This view of the matter was sufficient to induce the father of nine children to think of the means of rescuing them from the consequences, which common sense taught him to apprehend. But, there were other considerations, which operated with me in producing my emigration to America.
856. In the year 1811 and 1812 the part of the country, in which I lived, was placed under a new sort of law; or, in other words, it was placed out of the protection of the old law of the land. Men were seized, dragged to prison, treated like convicts, many transported and put to death, without having committed any thing, which the law of the land deems a crime. It was then that the infamous Spy-System was again set to work in Lancashire, in which horrid system FLETCHER of Bolton was one of the principal actors, or, rather, organizers and promoters. At this time I endeavoured to detect the machinations of these dealers in human blood; and, I narrowly escaped being sacrificed myself on the testimony of two men, who had their pardon offered them on condition of their swearing against me. The men refused, and were transported, leaving wives and children to starve.
857. Upon this occasion, my friend DOCTOR TAYLOR, most humanely, and with his usual zeal and talent, laboured to counteract the works of FLETCHER and his associates. The DOCTOR published a pamphlet on the subject, in 1812, which every Englishman should read. I, as far as I was able, co-operated with him. We went to London, laid the real facts before several members of the two houses of Parliament; and, in some degree, checked the progress of the dealers in blood. I had an interview with Lord Holland, and told him, that, if he would pledge himself to cause the secret-service money to be kept in London, I would pledge myself for the keeping of the peace in Lancashire. In short, it was necessary, in order to support the tyranny of the seat-sellers, that terror should prevail in the populous districts. Blood was wanted to flow; and money was given to spies to tempt men into what the new law had made crimes.
858. From this time I resolved not to leave my children in such a state of things, unless I should be taken off very suddenly. I saw no hope of obtaining a Reform of the Parliament, without which it was clear to me, that the people of England must continue to work solely for the benefit of the great insolent families, whom I hated for their injustice and rapacity, and despised for their meanness and ignorance. I saw, in them, a mass of debauched and worthless beings, having at their command an army to compel the people to surrender to them the fruits of their industry; and, in addition, a body existing under the garb of religion, almost as despicable in point of character, and still more malignant.
859. I could not have died in peace, leaving my children the slaves of such a set of beings; and, I could not live in peace, knowing that, at any hour, I might die and so leave my family. Therefore, I resolved, like the Lark in the fable, to remove my brood, which was still more numerous than that of the Lark. While the war was going on between England and America, I could not come to this country. Besides, I had great affairs to arrange. In 1816, having made my preparations, I set off, not with my family; for, that I did not think a prudent step. It was necessary for me to see what America really was. I, therefore, came for that purpose.
860. I was well pleased with America, over a considerable part of which I travelled. I saw an absence of human misery. I saw a govern ment taking away a very, very small portion of men's earnings. I saw ease and happiness and a fearless utterance of thought every where prevail. I saw laws like those of the old laws of England, every where obeyed with cheerful ness and held in veneration. I heard of no mobs, no riots, no spies, no transportings, no hangings. I saw those very Irish, to keep whom in order, such murderous laws exist in Ireland, here good, peaceable, industrious citizens. I saw no placemen and pensioners, riding the people under foot. I saw no greedy Priesthood, fattening on the fruits of labour in which they had never participated, and which fruits they seized in despite of the people. I saw a Debt, indeed, but then, it was so insignificant a thing; and, besides, it had been contracted for the people's use, and not for that of a set of tyrants, who had used the money to the injury of the people. In short, I saw a state of things, precisely the reverse of that in England, and very nearly what it would be in England, if the Parliament were reformed.
861. Therefore, in the Autumn of 1816, I returned to England fully intending to return the next spring with my family and whatever I possessed of the fruits of my labours, and to make America my country and the country of that family. Upon my return to England, however, I found a great stir about Reform; and, having, in their full force, all those feelings, which make our native country dear to us, I said, at once, "my desire is, not to change country or countrymen, but to change slavery for freedom: give me freedom here, and here I'll remain." These are nearly the very words that I uttered to MR. COBBETT, when first introduced to him, in December, 1816, by that excellent man, MAJOR CARTWRIGHT. Nor was I unwilling to labour myself in the cause of Reform. I was one of those very Delegates, of whom the Borough-tyrants said so many falsehoods, and whom SIR FRANCIS BURDETT so shamefully abandoned. In the meeting of Delegates, I thought we went too far in reposing confidence in him: I spoke my opinion as to this point: and, in a very few days, I had the full proof of the correctness of my opinion. I was present when MAJOR CARTWRIGHT opened a letter from SIR FRANCIS, which had come from Leicestershire. I thought the kind-hearted old Major would have dropped upon the floor! I shall never forget his looks as he read that letter. If the paltry Burdett had a hundred lives, the taking of them all away would not atone for the pain he that day gave to Major Cartwright, not to mention the pain given to others, and the injury done to the cause. For my part, I was not much disappointed. I had no opinion of Sir Francis Burdett's being sound. He seemed to me too much attached to his own importance to do the people any real service. He is an aristocrat; and that is enough for me. It is folly to suppose, that such a man will ever be a real friend of the rights of the people. I wish he were here a little while. He would soon find his proper level; and that would not, I think, be very high. Mr. HUNT was very much against our confiding in BURDETT; and he was perfectly right. I most sincerely hope, that my country men will finally destroy the tyrants who oppress them; but, I am very sure, that, before they succeed in it, they must cure themselves of the folly of depending for assistance on the nobles or the half-nobles.
862. After witnessing this conduct in Burdett, I set off home, and thought no more about effecting a Reform. The Acts that soon followed were, by me, looked upon as matters of course. The tyranny could go on no longer under disguise. It was compelled to shew its naked face; but, it is now, in reality, not worse than it was before. It now does no more than rob the people, and that it did before. It kills more now out-right; but, men may as well be shot, or stabbed, or hanged, as starved to death.
863. During the Spring and the early part of the Summer, of 1817, I made preparations for the departure of myself and family, and when all was ready, I bid an everlasting adieu to Boroughmongers, Sinecure placemen and place-women, pensioned Lords and Ladies, Standing Armies in time of peace, and (rejoice, oh! my children!) to a hireling, tithe-devouring Priesthood. We arrived safe and all in good health, and which health has never been impaired by the climate. We are in a state of ease, safety, plenty; and how can we help being as happy as people can be? The more I see of my adopted country, the more gratitude do I feel towards it for affording me and my numerous offspring protection from the tyrants of my native country. There I should have been in constant anxiety about my family. Here I am in none at all. Here I am in fear of no spies, no false witnesses, no blood-money men. Here no fines, irons, or gallowses await me, let me think or say what I will about the government. Here I have to pay no people to be ready to shoot at me, or run me through the body, or chop me down. Here no vile Priest can rob me and mock me in the same breath.
864. In the year 1816 my travelling in America was confined to the Atlantic States. I there saw enough to determine the question of emigration or no emigration. But, a spot to settle on myself was another matter; for, though I do not know, that I shall meddle with any sort of trade, or occupation, in the view of getting money, I ought to look about me, and to consider soberly as to a spot to settle on with so large a family. It was right, therefore, for me to see the Western Countries. I have done this; and the particulars, which I thought worthy my notice, I noted down in a Journal. This Journal I now submit to the public. My chief motive in the publication is to endeavour to convey useful information, and especially to those persons, who may be disposed to follow my example, and to withdraw their families and fortunes from beneath the hoofs of the tyrants of England.
865. I have not the vanity to suppose myself eminently qualified for any thing beyond my own profession; but I have been an attentive observer; I have raised a considerable fortune by my own industry and economy; I have, all my life long, studied the matters connected with agriculture, trade, and manufactures. I had a desire to acquire an accurate knowledge of the Western Countries, and what I did acquire I have endeavoured to communicate to others. It was not my object to give flowery descriptions. I leave that to poets and painters. Neither have I attempted any general estimate of the means or manner of living, or getting money, in the West. But, I have contented myself with merely noting down the facts that struck me; and from those facts the reader must draw his conclusions.
866. In one respect I am a proper person to give an account of the Western Countries. I have no lands there: I have no interests there: I have nothing to warp my judgment in favour of those countries: and yet, I have as little in the Atlantic States to warp my judgment in their favour. I am perfectly impartial in my feelings, and am, therefore, likely to be impartial in my words. My good wishes extend to the utmost boundary of my adopted country. Every particular part of it is as dear to me as every other particular part.
867. I have recommended most strenuously the encouraging and promoting of Domestic Manufacture; not because I mean to be engaged in any such concern myself; for it is by no means likely that I ever shall; but, because I think that such encouragement and promotion would be greatly beneficial to America, and because it would provide a happy Asylum for my native oppressed and distressed country men, who have been employed all the days of their lives in manufactures in England, where the principal part of the immense profits of their labour is consumed by the Borough tyrants and their friends, and expended for the vile purpose of perpetuating a system of plunder and despotism at home, and all over the world.
868. Before I conclude this Introduction, I must observe, that I see with great pain, and with some degree of shame, the behaviour of some persons from England, who appear to think that they give proof of their high breeding by repaying civility, kindness, and hospitality, with reproach and insolence. However, these persons are despised. They produce very little impression here; and, though the accounts they send to England, may be believed by some, they will have little effect on persons of sense and virtue. Truth will make its way; and it is, thank God, now making its way with great rapidity.
869. I could mention numerous instances of Englishmen, coming to this country with hardly a dollar in their pocket, and arriving at a state of ease and plenty and even riches in a few years; and I explicitly declare, that I have never known or heard of, an instance of one common labourer who, with common industry and economy, did not greatly better his lot. Indeed, how can it otherwise be, when the average wages of agricultural labour is double what it is in England, and when the average price of food is not more than half what it is in that country? These two facts, undeniable as they are, are quite sufficient to satisfy any man of sound mind.
870. As to the manners of the people, they are precisely to my taste: unostentatious and simple. Good sense I find every where, and never affectation. Kindness, hospitality, and never-failing civility. I have travelled more than four thousand miles about this country; and I never met with one single insolent or rude native American.
871. I trouble myself very little about the party politics of the country. These contests are the natural offspring of freedom; and, they tend to perpetuate that which produces them. I look at the people as a whole; and I love them and feel grateful to them for having given the world a practical proof, that peace, social order, and general happiness can be secured, and best secured, without Monarchs, Dukes, Counts, Baronets, and Knights. I have no unfriendly feeling towards any Religious Society. I wish well to every member of every such Society; but, I love the Quakers, and feel grateful towards them, for having proved to the world, that all the virtues, public as well as private, flourish most and bring forth the fairest fruits when unincumbered with those noxious weeds, hireling priests.