Page images

from New Orleans, which is the centre of commercial action, the south western states will always have the advantage of them by anticipating the market, both on account of their proximity, and from the circumstance, that the Ohio is closed with ice for some weeks in the year while the navigation of the Mississippi is unobstructed. In short, whatever view we take of the subject, nothing is more obvious, than that, if a water communication is opened from the western to the atlantic states, nearly the whole trade of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana will flow in this direction. Their produce will be sold here in exchange for our home manufactures and foreign imports. Large droves of live stock, especially hogs, are now driven every year from the banks of the Ohio in Kentucky, to Baltimore, in preference to being packed on the spot and sent down the river by a more speedy conveyance to the New Orleans market. The New York canal will draw through Lake Erie for the present the produce of the northern parts of Ohio and Indiana; but when the magnificent project of threading the Alleganies with a canal, and uniting the Ohio, nay, the great lakes themselves, with the Chesapeake, shall be put in execution, which, since recent surveys would seem to prove it practicable, may be expected at no distant day, then the entire trade of these three states will flow into this channel, as being the shortest and most expeditious route to the tide waters of the Atlantic.

In this event Baltimore will inevitably become the chief mart of western produce, and possess an almost exclusive privilege of sending over the mountains supplies of home manufactures and foreign products. Georgetown, Washington, and Alexandria will doubtless be greatly benefited by such a communication to the west, but the local situation of these towns is not such, as to enable any one or all of them to gain the ascendency already held by Baltimore. A canal from the Potomac to the city will remove the obstacles of distance, and in this respect will place these several towns en an equal footing. But without reference to this brilliant, and as some think rather dubious scheme of joining the great waters of the east and west, Baltimore must in any event derive a great and an increasing profit from its intercourse with the interior, partly for reasons already suggested, and partly from the fact, that manufacturing establishments cannot

be advantageously erected on a large scale, either to the east or the west of the mountains. From the Potomac to the Gulf of Mexico, the country on the seaboard is alluvial and level to the distance of a hundred miles from the coast. Over this space there is probably not a single water fall, that could carry the wheel of a cotton factory; and when you arrive at the first ridge of original formation, the ascent is commonly so gradual, that but little water power can be gained. If you reach the mountains, where the fall is more sudden, the streams have become so much diminished, and so uncertain, as to offer no encouragement to manufacturing operations; and what is a still more serious obstacle, you are at a point so remote from water communication, that the expense of transporting the raw material would be sufficient to swallow up all the profits to be derived from the best local advantages. These remarks apply with very few exceptions to the whole range of the southern states, and show very clearly that manufactures will never be attempted there on any other than a very limited scale.

The same view may be taken, though with more restrictions, of the great valleys of the Mississippi and the Ohio, as well as of the regions embraced in the immense range of the Alleganies. It is a fact universally admitted, we believe, that the geological conformation of the country throughout the west is such, as to give but very little fall to the rivers, and consequently to afford a comparatively small amount of water power. Moreover, the expense of procuring the raw material, and of establishing and carrying on factories, will be such, that agricultural labor, which shall at the same time enhance the value of lands, and procure manufactured articles at a reasonable price, will for many years at least be much more profitable to the western capitalist. Whoever has wandered among the bold and majestic ridges of the Alleganies in the western counties of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, must have been forcibly struck with the manner in which the streams of water find their way among them. From Catskill to Georgia this range of mountains is composed almost uniformly of parallel ridges, running from north east to south west, broken here and there apparently to let the small streams pass through; and these, after creeping silently and quietly along the bases of the mountains, by many and intri

cate windings, gather themselves at length into rivers, and seek a passage over an almost imperceptible declivity to the plain country below. Nothing is more rare than to come upon a water fall, or even a rapid, among the Alleganies, and if we except the Falling Spring in Virginia, and Harper's Ferry, the latter more famous for the combined effect of its natural scenery, than the descent of the mingled waters of the Potomac and Shenandoah, we do not remember one that has caught the attention of travellers. It is a curious fact, also, that for hundreds of miles amidst the Alleganies the traveller sees no lakes, or natural ponds, so common in mountainous countries. But this subject needs not be pursued. Our only purpose is to draw from these remarks the conclusion, that the south and west will never be manufacturing districts, and that Baltimore, from its immense local advantages, and its being on the border of these regions, will always enjoy peculiar privileges, and cannot fail under any circumstances. to maintain a lucrative and growing trade with the interior. Since the great road was finished, and especially within the last year, this business has been constantly gaining, and thus far most fully confirms in practice the results to which we have come from general considerations. Its beneficial influence in giving a new spur to the commerce of the city, and encouraging its present improvements, are most obvious. It is now in contemplation to set up a line of transport waggons, to ply day and night between Baltimore and Wheeling.

The South American trade will open a wide field for the enterprise of Baltimore, particularly in providing a new market for its great staple of flour, and its manufactures. During the last year this trade has rapidly increased in the city, sixty vessels having sailed for different ports in South America, being more than double the number that sailed the year preceding. This increase is considerably greater than that of any other city, even of New York, and, although it will have a limit, it augurs well for the interest, which Baltimore will eventually retain in the extensive intercourse, that will grow up between the United States and the new Republics.

Various opinions have been entertained respecting the influence, which the crosscut canal, now making from the Delaware to the Chesapeake, will have on the city. For

ourselves we see no room for but one opinion; the effect will be highly beneficial both to Philadelphia and Baltimore; each city will receive an advantage from having an easy and quick intercourse between the two. It has been feared, that the trade of the Susquehanna, which now descends to Baltimore, will go up to Philadelphia through this canal. There is no ground for such a fear. That portion of produce now transported across the country from Columbia may possibly take this direction; but the mass of produce coming down the river to seek a market will continue to go to Baltimore as at present, for the plain reason, that the freight will be cheaper. From the mouth of the Susquehanna to Baltimore there is a direct sloop navigation down the Bay, but on the route to Philadelphia there will be the expense, trouble, and delay of transhipment at the entrance of the canal, and also the tolls for passing, and all this over and above the cost of taking the produce at once to Baltimore; nor is it to be admitted as possible, that the difference between the markets of the two cities will ever be such, as to warrant this sacrifice. In fact, the canal will rather have a tendency to equalise the markets of the two places, and in this respect, if any advantage occurs on either side, it will be on that of Baltimore, as this port approximates more nearly the interior.

The legislature of Maryland has taken measures to ascertain the practicability of cutting a canal along the margin of the Susquehanna, to the bottom of the last fall on that river, and thence across the country to Baltimore. But the expense of the work threatens to be so formidable, as to forbid the hope that it will soon be executed. By some persons a preference is given to the plan of deepening the river, removing obstructions, and thus procuring a safe passage for boats; but this labor, we apprehend, will be little less effectual than that of the daughters of Danaus. The greater the number of obstructions removed, the faster the waters will run off, and expose yet new and more numerous intruders peering above the surface, or lurking beneath the waves.

A very accurate and complete survey has recently been made, not only of the harbor of Baltimore, but also of the Patapsco river to its outlet at North Point, and of the Bay itself as far down as Annapolis. This work was wholly executed under the immediate direction of Lewis Brantz, Esq. partly

at the expense of the city, and partly of several insurance companies, with the express purpose of facilitating the navigation of the river and harbor. And it gives us particular pleasure to have an opportunity here of acknowledging our obligation to this gentleman, for the essential aid he has rendered us in furnishing many of the commercial details, facts, and tables, which have been woven into this article. His long residence in the city, and his practical acquaintance with its commerce, qualify him to speak with confidence and accuracy on this subject. Mr Brantz's chart of the Patapsco is of great importance to those, who navigate that river. This chart, and his chart of the harbor, together with Mr Poppleton's map of the city, comprise a series of accurate and beautiful delineations, not surpassed by any attempts of the kind, which have come under our notice, and are equally creditable to the active spirit of the citizens, wh fostered such undertakings, and to the skill and talents of the gentlemen, who executed them.

Our remarks on the commercial history and advantages of Baltimore have run to so great a length, that no room is left for the observations we had contemplated on the internal features of the city, its topography, improvements, police, institutions, public buildings, means of education, benevolent associations, and other things, which contribute to show the character of a people. It may be said with confidence, however, that there has never been any deficiency of public spirit and generous enterprise in promoting all these objects, as far as the condition of a growing city required, or the habits and occupations of a commercial people would allow. In beautiful and finished specimens of architecture, Baltimore is unrivalled in this country; and the patriotism and liberality, that erected the two monuments, by which it is now adorned, deserve praise and emulation. The dates of all the principal improvements in the city, and a brief notice of them, may be found in Mr Griffith's work, to which we have already refered, and which, as its title purports, is strictly a book of annals. One of the best institutions, which has been established in the city for many years, is the Athenæum lately organised, and now in operation. An elegant and spacious building has been erected for the purpose, one hundred and seventeen VOL. XX.-No. 46.


« PreviousContinue »