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your fortitude to its severest trials. I wish they may not be repeated.
You know that my opinion of the proper policy of Congress is, to manifest a fixer resolution to protect remote parts of the Union, to nurse the weak, and to console the suffering remote settlements, with a degree of tender solicitude proportioned to their defenseless condition.
Congress has little occasion to make itself known to them exceptohy acts of protection. The most successful way to banish the ruinous ilea of the future independency of the Western country is, hy doing good to the settlers, to gain their hearts. Our sun will set when the Union shall be di. viiled. But it is not necessary to notice the idea any further. The measures of the present session of Congress, I think, will satisfy you that, because you are remote, you are not forgotten, and will not be abandoned to the savages. I inclose a letter to my old schoolfellow and townsman, Mr. Battelle. Will you please convey it to him.
Please to accept my sincere wishes for your health and prosperity. I am, dear sir, with respect,
Your very humble serv't, GENERAL PUTNAM.
FISHER AMES. APPENDIX B.
To BENJAMS IL ARRISON, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA,
MOUNT VERXOX, Oct. 10, 1784. Dear Sir:-Upon my return from the western country, a few days ago, I had the pleasure to receive your favor of the 17th ultimo. It has always been my intention to pay my respects to you, before the chance of another early and hard winter should make a warm fireside too comfortable to be relinquished. And I shall feel an additional pleasure in offering this tribute of friendship and respect to you, by having the company of the Marquis de Lafayette, when he shall have revisited this place from his eastern tour, now every day to be expected.
I shall take the liberty now, my dear Sir, to suggest a matter which wouli (if I am not too short-sighted a politician) mark your administration as an important era in the annals of this country, if it should be recommended by you and adopted by the Assembly. It has long been my vlecided opinion that the shortest, easiest, and least expensive communication with the invaluable and extensive country back of us, would be by one or both of the rivers of this state, which have their sources in the Apalachian Mountains. Nor am I singular in this opinion. Evans, in his Map and Analysis of the Middle Colonies, which, considering the early period at which they were given to the public, are done with amazing exactness, and Ilutchins, since, in his Topographical Description of the western country, a good part of which is from actual surveys, are decidedly of the same sentiments; as, indeed, are all others who have had opportunities, and have been at the pains, to investigate and consider the subject. But that this may not stand as mere matter of opinion and assertion, unsupported by facts (such at least as the best maps now extant, compared with the oral testimony, which my opportunities in the course of the war have enabled me to obtain), I shall give VOL. 11.25
must pass; unless the Spaniards, contrary to their present policy, should engaye part of it; or the British should attempt to force nature, by carrying the trade of the Upper Lakes by the River Utawas into Canada, which I scarcely think they will or could effect. Taking Detroit, then (which is putting ourselves in as unfavorable a point of view as we can well be placed in, because it is upon the line of the British territory), as a point by which, as I have already observed, all that part of the trade must come, it appears, from the statement inclosed, that the tide waters of this state are nearer, by one hundred and sixty-eight miles, than those of the River St. Lawrence; or, than those of the Hudson at Albany, by one hundred and seventy-six miles. Maryland stands upon similar ground with Virginia. Pennsylvania, although the Susquehanna is an unfriendly water, much impeded, it is said, with rocks and rapids, and nowhere communicating with those which lead to her capital, has it in contemplation to open a communication between Toby's Creek, which empties into the Alleghany River ninety-five miles above Fort Pitt, and the west branch of the Susquehanna, and to cut a canal between the waters of the latter and the Schuylkill; the expense of which is easier to be conceived than estimated or described by
A people, however, who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and will pursue their advantages, may achieve almost any thing. In the mean time, under the uncertainty of these undertakings, they are smoothing the roads and paving the ways for the trade of that western world. That New York will do the same as soon as the British garrisons are removed, which are at present insurmountable obstacles in their way, no person, who knows the temper, genius, and policy of those people as well as I do, can harbor the smallest doubt. Thus much with respect to rival states. Let me now take a short view of our own; and, being aware of the objections which are in the way, I will, in order to contrast them, enumerate them with the advantages.
The first and principal one is, the unfortunate jealousy which ever has, and it is to be feared ever will, prevail, lest one part
of the State should obtain an advantage over the other parts, as if the benefits of trade were not diffusive and beneficial to all. Then follows a train of difficulties, namely, that our people are already heavily taxed; that we have no money; that the advantages of this trade are remote; that the most direct route for it is through other States, over which we have no control; that the routes over which we have control are as distant as either of those which lead to Philadelphia, Albany, or Montreal; that a sufficient spirit of commerce does not pervade the citizens of this commonwealth ; and that we are, in fact, doing for others what they ought to do for themselves. Without going into the investigation of a question which has employed the pens of able politicians, namely, whether trade with foreigners is an advantage or disadvantage to a country, this State, as a part of the confederated States, all of which have the spirit of it very strongly working in them, must adopt it, or submit to the evils arising therefrom without receiving its benefits. Common policy, therefore, points clearly and strongly to the propriety of our enjoying all the advantages which nature and our local situation afford us, and evinces clearly that, unless this spirit could be totally eradicated in other States as well as in this, and every man be made to become either a cultivator of the land or a manufacturer of such articles as are prompted by necessity, such stimulus should be employed as will force this spirit, by showing to our countrymen the superior advantages we possess beyond others, and the importance of being upon an equal footing with our neighbors.
If this is fair reasoning, it ought to follow as a consequence that we should do our part toward opening the communication for the fur and peltry trade of the Lakes, and for the produce of the country which lies within, and which will, so soon as matters are settled with the Indians, and the terms on which Congress mean to dispose of the land found to be favorable are announced, be settleil faster than any other ever was, or any one would imagine. This, then, when considered in an interested point of view, is alone sufficient to excite our endeavors. But, in my opinion, there is a political consideration for so doing, which is of still greater importance. I need States are possessed by other powers, and formidable ones, too; nor how necessary it is to apply the cement of interest to bind all parts of the Union together by indissoluble bonds, especially that part of it which lies immediately west of us with the middle States. For what ties, let me ask, should we have upon those people? How entirely unconnected with them shall we be, and what troubles may we not apprehend, if the Spaniards on their right and Great Britain on their left, instead of throwing stumbling-blocks in their way, as they now do, should hold out lures for their trade and alliance? What, when they get strength, which will be sooner than people conceive (from the emigration of foreigners, who will have no particular predilection toward us, as well as from the removal of our own citizens), will be the consequence of their having formed close connections with both or either of those powers, in a commercial way? It needs not, in my opinion, the gift of prophecy to foretell.
The western States (I speak now from my own observation) stand, as it were, on a pivot.
pivot. The touch of a feather would turn them any way. They have looked down the Mississippi until the Spaniards, very impoliticly, I think, for themselves, threw difficulties in their way; and they looked that way
for no other reason than because they could glide gently down the stream, without considering, perhaps, the difficulties of the voyage back again, and the time necessary to perform it in; and because they have no other means of coming to us but by long land transportations and unimproved roads. These causes have hitherto checked the industry of the present settlers ; for, except the demand for provisions, occasioned by the increase of population, and a little flour, which the necessities of the Spaniards compel them to buy, they have no incitements to labor. But smooth the road, and make easy the way
for them, and then see what an influx of articles will be poured upon us, how amazingly our exports will be increased by them, and how amply we shall be compensated for any
trouble and expense we may encounter to effect it.
A combination of circumstances makes the present colle juncture more favorable for Virginia than for any other State