« AnteriorContinuar »
test the question by a standard whose accuracy cannot be denied: The census of 1790 gave to Pennsylvania 424,099 white inhabitants. The increase in ten years was 38 per cent. in the next ten years 34 per cent. (or in the whole twenty years 85 per cent.) so as to amount in 1810 to 786,804. The census of 1790 gave to New York only 314,142 white inhabitants; being to Pennsylvania, even then, only in the proportion of near 3 to 4. The increase in ten years was 77 per cent in the next ten year 65 per cent. (or in the whole twenty years, 192 per cent.) so as to amount in 1810 to 918,699: being to Pennsylvania, in the proportion of 7 to 6. And now let a glance be cast at the position of lands which have been settled in those two states, within the last twenty years. They are separated from each other by the river Delaware, for more than fifty miles, and then only by a mathematical line, for more than two hundred miles. It may be asserted, without danger of contradiction, that along this extensive frontier, New York is more thickly settled than Pennsylvania. Without contending, therefore, as to civil or moral advantage, it can hardly be denied that a soil and climate which have attracted such great population in the last term of 28 years, would have thickly settled the state long ago, had it not been for a political cause, which, while it retarded the popuIation of New York, promoted and accelerated the population of Pensylvania. The political cause, unhappily for us, again brought into operation, was war with the possessor of Canada. It has already been noticed, that in the last ten years our number has increased 65 per cent. This city has in that period, nearly keeping pace with the aggregate, increased 60 per cent.
But the western district has increased at the rate of 175 per cent. If we add the counties of Montgomery, Essex, Clinton,
and Franklin, so as to embrace the whole northern frontier, the rate of increase is 163 per cent. ; the amount upwards of 261,000, whereas that district, those counties, and this city excepted, the ratio for the rest of the state was only 20 per cent. ; and the amount little more than 75,000. In effect, near 262,000 out of not quite 373,000, our total increment, belonging to our northern and western country; so that seven tenths of that growth, which we beheld with astonishment and exultation, was the produce of a country now exposed to the chance and disasters of war. Nearly one other tenth was in the capital. This, gentlemen, is nei ther the place nor the occasiono to inquire into the policy, much less the justice of those measures, by which we are distressed. Bowing with deference to the national government, I am willing to suppose, that in so far as regards the United States, the war may have been begun, and is now carried on justly, wisely, happily ; but for us, most unhappily. Every member of this society is, undoubtedly, disposed, by every proper exertion, and every possible sacrifice, to support the honour and independence of our country. But he, must be void of discernment who does not perceive, that war with the greatest naval power is no happy condition for a commercial people. Whether America will eventually rejoice in trophies gained, territory acquired, and privileges torn from an enemy subdued, or whether she shall weep for defeats sustained, dominion lost, and rights surrendered, must depend, under God, on the manner in which this war shall be conducted, and the wisdom and integrity of the negotiations by which it shall be concluded. But, whatever may be the feelings of our sister states, whether they, as events may indicate, shall clothe themselves in scarlet, or in
sackcloth, our house will, in all probability, bė a house of mourning.
It is by the light of history and geography that we discern the interests of a country, and the means by which they can best be pursued, and secured. Am I mistaken in concluding, from the foregoing details, which may, I fear, have been tedious to you, that we should encourage husbandry, commerce, and useful arts, as the great columns which are to support the fabricof our wealth and power? That we should promote order, industry, science, and religion, not only as the guardians of social happiness, but as the outworks to the citadel of our liberty? And, finally, that we should, as the best means of effecting those objects, so arrange our concerns, as that the management of public affairs be entrusted to men of wisdom, firmness, and integrity? I will venture to add the idea that, in any political change which circumstances may induce, we should respect the example of our predecessors, the Six Nations, and not be persuaded to ask for a king, that he may go out before us, like the other nations, nor submit to the sway of hereditary nobles. It would be a fatal delusion, if, for the military vigour of one institution, or the political cunning of the other, we should surrender that freedom which ennobles man. Nor would it be less fatal, that, with a view to simplicity and unity, we should permit the consolidation of too great a mass : for history teaches that republican spirit is liable to ferment, when in a large vessel, and be changed to the corroding acid of despotism.
THE NEW YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY,
AT THEIR ANNIVERSARY MEETING,
6th DECEMBER, 1813.
A CONCISE AND COMPREHENSIVE ACCOUNT OF THE WRITINGS WHICH
ILLUSTRATE THE BOTANICAL HISTORY OF NORTH
AND SOUTH AMERICA.
BY SAMUEL L. MITCHILL, M. D.
ONE OF THE COUNSELLORS OF THE SOCIETY ; MEMBER OF THE ALBANY SOCIETY FOR
HISTORY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW-YORK, &c. &c.
NEW YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY,
December 6th, 1813. RESOLVED, That the thanks of this Society be presented to Doctor SAMUEL L. MITCHILL, for the Discourse delivered by him this day; and that WILLIAM Johnson, Esquire, Doctor David Hosack, and John PINTARD, be appointed a Committee to wait on Dr. Mitchill with this resolution, and to request a copy of his discourse for publication.
Extract from the minutes,