xt7rn872vw3r https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7rn872vw3r/data/mets.xml Fordham, Elias Pym. 1906  books b92-139-29331498 English A.H. Clark Co., : Cleveland : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Ohio River Valley Description and travel. Illinois Description and travel. Edwards County (Ill.) United States Description and travel.Ogg, Frederic Austin, 1878-1951. Personal narrative of travels in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky  : and of a residence in the Illinois Territory: 1817-1818 / Elias Pym Fordham ; with facsimiles of the author's sketches and plans ; edited by FredericAustin Ogg. val text Personal narrative of travels in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky  : and of a residence in the Illinois Territory: 1817-1818 / Elias Pym Fordham ; with facsimiles of the author's sketches and plans ; edited by FredericAustin Ogg. val 1906 2002 true xt7rn872vw3r section xt7rn872vw3r 























FORDHAM'S



PERSONAL



NARRATIVE



i817-i8I8

 
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PERSONAL NARRATIVE
= = = = ==_____________  OF



Traves i



Vina,



Okiaryland



Pennylvania, Ohio, Indiana,
  Kjntcky;and ofa Residncein
the IliosTerritory: 181I7-18-18
             BY
    ELIAS PYM FORPHAM



W    fithfcsimls of the author's sketches and plans

          Edited by
FREDERIC AUSTIN OGG, A. M.
  Author of "The Opening of the Missisippi"



       Cleveland
The Arthur H. Clark Company
         190o6

 











































      COPYRIGHT, 1906, BY
THE ARTHUR H. CLARK COMPANY
      ALL RIGHTS RESERVED



 













                       CONTENTS

EDITOR'S PREFACE                    .     .       .          II
EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION                                         3..           3
FORDHAM'S PERSONAL NARRATIVE: i817-i8i8
   Original Preface.......                                  41


   The ocean voyage - Ascent of the James - A Virginia land-
   scape - Petersburg - The Virginia farmers - Voyage from
   Norfolk to Baltimore - The coasts of the Chesapeake    . 43
                              II
   Character of the Virginians - Unhealthful physical condi-
   tions - Baltimore - Communications between Baltimore
   and Pittsburg - The Marylanders - The Pennsylvanians -
   The East and West as fields for settlement               55
                              III
   Vices of the western Pennsylvanians - Slavery, and society
   in the slave states -The Climate of the United States    64
                              IV
   Methods of earlier writers on the West -Pittsburg - In-
   dustries of the vicinity - Flat-boats and keels on the Ohio
   - The start down the river - Neville's Island - Logstown
   - Beavertown - Wheeling - Fish     Creek - A    thunder-
   storm - Marietta - The Muskingham [Muskingum] - Blen-
   nerhassett's Island - Galliopagus [Gallipolis] -Portsmouth
   -Manchester-Maysville-Augusta-Arrival at Cincin-
   nati .70
                              V
   LAck of time for writing - The trip across Indiana - Vin-
   cennes - The Indians of the neighborhood - Princeton -
   Prices of land                                           95
                             VI
  The forests of Indiana-- The Indiana Constitution-Char-
  acter and prices of land - Emigration directed further west
  -Commercial importance of the Mississippi-Unhealthy
  conditions on the lower Mississippi-The Wabash-De-
  scription of Princeton-Prospective visit to the Illinois
  Territory.                    . . .                      Ioo

 






Fordham's Personal Narrative



                           VII
Physical character of southern Illinois - The English Prairie
- Three lines of communication with the Atlantic - Set-
tlers in and about the English Prairies -Rates of freightage
- Cost of travel - A tabular view of products - Fauna of
the region - Salt deposits - Cost of building - Advantages
of the backwoods settler - Profits of trade - Land the basis
of wealth - The Mississippi river system - Slaves and
bound persons - Classes of frontier settlers - Character of
the backwoodsman - Democratic manners - Signs of prog-
ress - How to take up land - Eastern ignorance of the
West - The climate - Size of the Illinois Territory - Op-
portunities for capital in Illinois - No prej udice against
liberal-minded Englishmen                           .     III
                          VIII
A trip down the Patoka - Winter labors and amusements -
Christmas-Legislation against duelling-A    journey to
Cincinnati-Lack of scenery-Difficulties of travel-A
frontier  judge - Fredericksburg - Albany - Louisville -
Shelbyville-Cost of lodgings-Frankfort-The        Ken-
tuckians-Arrival at Cincinnati                            136
                           IX
A trip across the Wabash in search of land - A night in the
woods - The people of Indiana - The Kentuckians        i66
                           X
The Americanizing of emigrants -Attitude of Westerners
toward Englishmen - Prospective peace with the southern
Indians - Emigration to Missouri - Mr. Birkbeck's estate
- Fordham's farm - Opportunities for men with capital -
Respect for education and manners                         170
                           XI
The people of Virginia - The Kentuckians - The winning
of Kentucky from the Indians -The work of Daniel Boone
- Sensations experienced in the wvilderness - Nature of
Indian warfare - Cassidy's achievements - Manner of life
of a wealthy Kentucky farmer -Society inchoate in the Illi-
nois Country - The farming class - The hunters   .     I76
                          XII
Dimensions of the Ohio - Its scenery - Velocity of the cur-
rent - La Salle on the Ohio - Early settlements in the
West - Struggle of frontiersmen and Indians - Population
of the western states-The growth of Cincinnati - Descrip-
tion of the city - Manners of the people - The negro popu-
lation - Story of the negro Anthony - Character of the
flatboatmen                                             .83



6

 






Contents



7



                               XIII
    A record of temperatures - A hard winter - Life during
    the cold weather - The climate and health - Reasons for
    lack of longevity among the Westerners - A trip from
    Princeton to the English Prairie -The hiring of laborers -
    Entering more land - English manners to be preserved in
    Mr. Birkbeck's settlement -Possibility of an Indian war -
    The Rappites of Harmony - Their manners and character
    - Religious services                                      198
                               XIV
    Rise of land values - The question of admitting slavery -
    Lack of free laborers - Wages and expenses of laborers -
    Land for every immigrant - Mr. Birkbeck's plan for the
    settlement of his English laborers - Difficulties of estab-
    lishing a settlement - Threatened incursion of Indians -
    Kentucky hospitality - Mode of life of the Kentuckians 209
                               XV
    Mr. Birkbeck's book -A journal of ten days -A fourth of
    July celebration -The coming struggle over slavery in Illi-
    nois - Acts of Congress regarding Illinois - A proj ected
    trip up the Red River- Character of the backwoodsman -
    High regard for Englishmen - The life of the hunters on
    the Wabash - The hunters on the Missouri - Men needed
    to develop the wilderness.                                217
                               XVI
    Opportunities for English settlers in the West - Sacrifices
    and comforts of frontier life - Places of settlement recom-
    mended for various classes of English emigrants - Expenses
    of living - Servitude .226
                              XVII
    The prevalence of intermittent fevers - The climate of Illi-
    nois -Lung troubles almost unknown     .   .        .    . 230
                             XVIII
    The town of Albion planned - Continued surveying - The
    surrounding prairies - Prairie fires. Instructions for Emi-
    grants: Capital required-Paying occupations-Clothing
    to be brought - Blankets a good investment - Travelling in
    the steerage-The journey from Philadelphia to Pittsburg
    - Down the Ohio to the Illinois Country    .    .   .    . 233

SELECTED LIST OF CONTEMPORARY TRAVELS                 .      239



INDEX  



 243

 
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            ILLUSTRATIONS

PLAN OF PITTSBURG IN 1817                 73
OHIO RIVER FLATBOAT AND KEELBOAT          77
ENGLISH PRAIRIE                          I 13
SKETCH MAP OF FORDHAM'S ESTATE, ENGLISH
   PRAIRIE (text cut)                   173
PLAN OF CINCINNATI IN I8I8.              i85

 
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            EDITOR'S PREFACE
FOR information regarding the personal history of
Elias Pym Fordham, author of the narrative here-
with published, the Editor is indebted to Dr. Hubert
de Laserre Spence, of Cleveland, Ohio, who has
supplied not only a statement of his own knowledge
of the enterprising young Englishman, but also a
memorandum by his aunt, Sophia Worthington,
and an interesting manuscript embodying the
recollections of Mary Spence, his mother.
  The preparation of the notes has been facilitated
to such a degree by recent volumes of Early
Western Travels, 1748-i846, edited by Dr. Reuben
Gold Thwaites, that special acknowledgment of
obligation ought to be made for use of material
in the early volumes of travel made accessible
in that valuable series. Full titles of the works
chiefly referred to will be found in the list of con-
temporary travels at the end of this volume. It is
hoped that the publication of the Fordham manu-
script may be of service to students of Western
history in general, and especially to those inter-
ested in the processes by which the composite popu-
lation of the Mississippi Valley was built up in the
great era of migration.
                                     F. A. O.
 HARVARD UNIVERSITY, January, i906.

 
This page in the original text is blank.

 







EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION



THE years immediately following the close of the
second war with Great Britain witnessed a remark-
able increase in the population of the Mississippi
Vmalley, particularly of the old Northwest Territory
and the remoter regions of Missouri and Arkansas.
Aside from the high birth-rate uniformly charac-
teristic of American frontier communities, this
increase was due to an unprecedented influx of
settlers from two sources: the seaboard states and
Europe, chiefly Great Britain and Germany.
  Prior to about I8I5 emigration from the East
to the West had been large in the aggregate, but
very unsteady. The westward movement had been
in the nature of successive waves separated by inter-
vals of comparative inactivity. Three important
epochs of migration since the establishment of
national independence can be distinguished: ( i) the
years of uncertainty and distress between the end of
the Revolution and the adoption of the Constitution;
(2) the period including the "hard times" of i8oo
and culminating in the acquisition of the Louisiana
Territory in 1803; and (3) the era of commercial
depression which began with the embargo of I807
and continued until relieved by the succeeding war.
During each of these periods of unsettlement, thou-
sands of people in the older states abandoned con-
ditions which they found disadvantageous, or posi-
tively onerous, and yielded to the allurements of

 




Ford ham's Personal Narrative



the far-famed West. As time went on, the numbers
increased and the movement tended steadily to
become more constant and less dependent upon
prosperity or the lack of it on the seaboard.
  The outbreak of war in i8I2, with the accom-
panying Indian uprisings in the West, checked the
flow of homeseekers temporarily; but by the winter
of 18I4 the exodus from the East along the high-
ways of New York and Pennsylvania and down
the Ohio had come to be on such a scale as to call
forth astonished comment in all sections of the
country. By i8i6 Ohio, which the census of i8io
showed to contain a population of 230,000, was
estimated to be the home of 400,000 whites. In
these six years the population of Indiana increased
from 24,000 to 70,000, enabling this territory in
i8i6 to become a member of the federal union.
From 406,ooo to more than 500,000 was Kentucky's
growth in the same period. And Illinois was
brought from 13,000 or 14,000 almost to the attain-
ment of statehood. The frontier -technically de-
fined as the line of at least two settlers to the square
mile, though more properly to be regarded as a belt
or zone than as a line - was pushed back rapidly
and given long finger-like protrusions up the larger
water-courses, especially the Wabash, the Kaskas-
kia, the Mississippi, the Missouri, the Arkansas,
and the Red.
  In the Eastern states, where there was a strong
disposition to lament the draining off of the sturdi-
est elements of the population, it was expected that



14

 




Introduction



the end of the war and the restoration of commer-
cial prosperity (together with the rise of new and
profitable industries) would reduce emigration
across the Alleghenies to something like its earlier
volume. But this anticipation was not realized.
With each succeeding year after the Peace of Ghent
the number of emigrants rose to a higher figure,
and as a matter of fact the decade from I8I5 to
I825 became the period during which the central
Mississippi Valley attained its highest per cent of
increase in population in the century. Land-hunger,
dislike of overcrowding, discontent with economic
conditions, love of adventure and novelty - these
were the great forces which impelled men to for-
sake New England, New York, and Virginia for
the ruder but roomier prairies and river-valleys of
the West. The final suppression of the Indians, by
William Henry Harrison in the Northwest and
by Jackson in the South, relieved many prospective
emigrants of the fears which had hitherto been an
insuperable obstacle; and the development of steam
navigation on the western lakes and rivers, which
began with the launching of the "New Orleans"
on the Ohio in i8i i, provided means of travel and
trade distinctively stimulative to migration and set-
tlement.
  The peopling of the West, however, was not left
entirely to be accomplished by the migrations of
native Americans. The same decade which was
marked by so considerable a westward movement
from the seaboard states was likewise notable for



IS

 




I 6     Fordham's Personal Narrative

the unprecedented immigration of Europeans, part
of whom settled in the East and offset in a measure
the depopulation caused by the westward exodus,
but a very large proportion of whom pressed on
across the mountains in quest of homes in the fertile
and undeveloped interior. Prior to i820 no records
of immigration were kept by the United States
Government, and hence we have nothing better than
unofficial estimates from which to judge the extent
of the settlement of Europeans in America during
the six important years following the Peace of
Ghent. Since the majority of immigrants in this
part of the century came from Great Britain, the
hostilities of I8I I-I8I4 very naturally caused a
marked cessation in the movement.   But about
i8I7 the tide resumed with greater force than ever,
and in that year the total number of immigrants
arriving was estimated at over 20,000. The num-
ber the following year was probably about the same.
Congress saw in these figures a necessity for legis-
lation to regulate the transportation of immigrants
and to prevent the overcrowding of ships on which
they made the voyage to the United States; and
a law was enacted, March 2, i8i9, containing suit-
able provisions in this direction and prescribing
that an official count should begin to be kept the
following year. The first records obtained in con-
sequence of this legislation showed how overwhelm-
ingly our immigrants from the United Kingdom
outnumbered those from other European countries.
While from September, i8i9, to September, i820,

 






the number of Germans coming to the United
States was but 948, of Frenchmen but 37I, and
of Spaniards but I39, that of British and Irish was
6,ooo.
  The close of the Napoleonic wars left Great
Britain in a condition, politically and economically,
exceedingly favorable to heavy emigration. The
nation had been engaged in a titanic conflict which
had lasted with little intermission for more than
twenty-two years and which had left the Govern-
ment staggering under a war debt of pound;83I,OOO,OOO.
During this long period the movement for larger
popular liberty, which had grown to considerable
proportions during the years in which the seeds of
revolution were ripening in France, had been held
in abeyance; much had been lost in this time and
nothing gained by the cause of liberalism. The
Tory ministry, absorbed wholly in the conflict with
the ambitious Corsican, had shown itself quite indif-
ferent to domestic well-being and in the hour of
victory its proud and complacent attitude betokened
the period of political reaction through which Eng-
land was destined in the next decade to pass.
The establishment of a lasting peace cleared the
way for a revival of domestic problems, and a great
mass of discontented people who had been patriotic
enough to withhold their criticisms while the nation
was in danger, now became more insistent than
ever that numerous and far-reaching reforms in
governmental and industrial conditions be speedily
undertaken.
  2



Introduction



17

 




Fordham's Personal Narrative



  Part of the evils complained of were political.
Owing to excessive property requirements for the
exercise of the franchise and the lack of adjust-
ment of representation to the distribution of popu-
lation, Parliament was very far from constituting
a true national assembly and its legislation was
felt to be that of a class for a class, regardless of
the interests of the masses of the people. The
multiplying of sinecure offices, created and main-
tained at heavy public expense for the benefit of
do-nothing aristocrats, was regarded as another
crying political abuse. Even more critical were
the evils of an economic character. England was
yet in the throes of the Industrial Revolution, and
thousands of men were being crowded out of em-
ployment, temporarily at least, by the introduction
of machinery and the establishment of the factory
system. Then the return of peace reduced the for-
eign demand for many kinds of manufactured
goods, resulting in a yet further over-supply of
labor. The Corn Law of i8i , enacted for the
express purpose of keeping up the price of food-
stuffs, in the interest of the aristocratic landlord
class, bore intolerably on the poverty-stricken ten-
ants, and indeed upon the entire laboring class of
the realm. The condition of the poor, in both city
and country, was worse, relatively if not absolutely,
in I8I5 than it had been thirty years before. Wages
which fell below the cost of bare subsistence coupled
with rising rents and famine prices for bread could
but stir up the spirit of insurrection; for eco-



i8

 




Introduction



nomic distress will frequently provoke men to
action when political disabilities call forth only
harmless complaint.
  The result was a period of incessant agitation
for reform - for the liberalizing of the Government
so that laws might be made according to the de-
sires of the majority of the people, for the imme-
diate repeal of obnoxious class legislation like the
Corn Law, and for the cutting off of aristocratic
sinecures and every other excrescence which made
the burdens of the ordinary people harder to be
borne. Led by William Cobbett, editor of the
Weekly Political Register, Major John Cart-
wright, and others, the liberal element (organized
into the Radical Party in i8i9) entered upon a
campaign which soon stirred the whole population
and caused the Government to take stern measures
to prevent the growth of the disaffection. Riots
and popular demonstrations of every character be-
came common and on several occasions -notably
the gathering at Spa Fields, London, in i8i6, and
the Manchester Massacre (or "battle of Peterloo")
in i8i9-the assemblies of the people to protest
and organize against the existing state of things
were forcibly broken up.
  Success was destined to reward the agitators,
but not until after many years and in many cases
in ways quite different from those they had mapped
out. In the meantime, during the period from about
1815 to i820, while the movement was yet young
and far from promising, many men became dis-



I9

 




Fordham's Personal Narrative



couraged or impatient and sought the relief in emi-
gration which they could see little reason to hope
for if they remained in their old homes. "A nation,"
declared one of these, "with half its population sup-
ported by alms, or poor-rates, and one fourth of its
income derived from taxes, many of which are dried
tip in their sources, or speedily becoming so, must
teem with emigrants from one end to the other:
and, for such as myself, who have had 'nothing to
do with the laws but to obey them,' it is quite reason-
able and just to secure a timely retreat from the
approaching crisis -either of anarchy or despot-
ism." About 1817-18 the desire to emigrate spread
over the entire country and affected all classes of
people except the privileged aristocrats. The land
to which men looked for a new home, one which
would be free from the oppressions of an aristo-
cratic government and the distress occasioned by its
economic policies, was quite naturally the United
States. In the first place its population was made
up predominantly of English-speaking people,
bound to English people everywhere by numerous
ties of sentiment and interest. In the next place it
had at its disposal a superabundance of the choicest
of land, which it was ready to bestow at inconsider-
able cost. Even in the Eastern states land could be
had at reasonable rates, and beyond the Alleghenies,
especially in Indiana, Illinois, and to the westward,
it need only be entered according to legal process
and paid for within four years at the rate of two
dollars an acre. Finally, the rapidly expanding



20

 




Introduction



manufactures of the United States, created largely
during the war period, called for thousands of
skilled laborers, so that English mechanics "and
artisans could expect to find profitable employment
without being compelled to resort to the unaccus-
tomed occupation of agriculture.
  As a consequence of discouraging conditions at
home and liberal advertising of the opportunities
offered in America, emigration became easily the
most discussed subject of the times, aside from
the transcendent question of reform. That the
actual migration in the years after i8i5 was large
is abundantly attested, not only by fragmentary
evidences in contemporary American records, but
also by the files of all the important English news-
papers and magazines of the period. On the one
hand, accounts of popular meetings in the interest
of emigration to America are abundant, and on
the other innumerable editorials and articles bewail
the departure of the tillers of the soil, and also
of not a few capitalists, for an alien country. The
press made a united demand upon Parliament to
stop the "ruinous drain of the most useful part of
the population of the United Kingdom," and all
manner of arguments, including many palpable
falsehoods, were brought forth to dissuade men
from migrating. But it was to no avail. People
came from all parts of the kingdom, both country
and city, to the ports to take passage. We are told
that 229 English immigrants landed at New York
in a single week, and that in the week ending Au-



21

 




Fordham's Personal Narrative



gust 23, i8I7, i500 arrived at the five ports of
New York, New London, Perth Amboy, Philadel-
phia, and Boston. Nor were the immigrants all,
or even generally, of the poorest class. English law
forbade vessels to carry more than two passengers
for each ton, and this restriction was in itself suffi-
cient to keep passenger rates at a high figure and
to preclude the pauper class from taking passage.
This fact only increased the indignation of the
English press, since the people who migrated were
almost exclusively the fairly well-to-do who could
most ill be spared. In his Sketches of America,
published in London in i8i9, Henry Bradshaw
Fearon tells us that by I8I7, when he was deputed
by thirty-nine English families to visit the United
States and ascertain what portions of the country
were best adapted to settlement by Englishmen,
"Emigration had . . . assumed a totally new
character: it was no longer merely the poor, the
idle, the profligate, or the wildly speculative, who
were proposing to quit their native country; but
men also of capital, of industry, of sober habits and
regular pursuits, men of reflection who apprehended
approaching evils; men of upright and conscientious
minds, to whose happiness civil and religious liberty
were essential; and men of domestic feelings, who
wished to provide for the future support and pros-
perity of their offspring."
  While the controversy regarding the expediency
of the settlement of Englishmen in America was
raging, an enterprise of large moment was under-



22

 




Introduction



taken by two gentlemen of wealth and influence liv-
ing in the vicinity of London - Messrs. Morris
Birkbeck and George Flower. This was the estab-
lishment of an agricultural colony in southeastern
Illinois, in the portion of Edwards County which
afterwards came to be known as the English Prai-
rie. Morris Birkbeck (I763-I825) was a successful
practical farmer of Quaker origin who very well
represents the type of well-to-do middle class Eng-
lishmen in this period who were dissatisfied with
conditions in England and saw little prospect of an
early improvement. Happening, in i8i6, to meet
the American diplomat, Edward Coles, who was
returning from a mission to Russia, he first got
from him an authoritative idea of the vast extent
of unoccupied lands in the Illinois country. After
some reflection he determined to sell his estate near
London, migrate to Illinois with his family, and
there prepare the way for the establishment of a
colony of discontented English country laborers.
Doubtless he expected to better his own fortunes,
but his project seems to have been shaped in no
small degree by philanthropic considerations. An-
other English farmer of similar station, George
Flower, was attracted by the scheme and decided
to join his old friend in it. In the summer of i8i6
Flower came out to America in advance to get a
personal knowledge of the land and its people. He
visited various sections of the country, including
the West, and, returning to Virginia in the autumn,
spent most of the winter with Thomas Jefferson at



23

 




Fordham's Personal Narrative



Monticello. The following spring Birkbeck, with
his family, landed at City Point, Virginia, and with
Flower proceeded to the Illinois. A tract of i6,ooo
acres of unbroken prairie was in part purchased
outright and in part designated to be taken up later,
and on this it was planned to locate the prospective
colonists. The purchase lay in Edwards County,
which at that time embraced an immense area, ex-
tending almost from the Ohio to Upper Canada and
including a portion of the present state of Wis-
consin. The two promoters then began to build
log huts, import furniture, and make other prepara-
tions for the influx of settlers. Reports of the most
optimistic character were sent back to England,
with the result that a new stimulus was given to
emigration, though many of the persons thus at-
tracted found land that suited them without going
so far west as to the English Prairie.
  In the same year in which the settlement was
begun Birkbeck published a book under the title
Notes on a Journey in America from the Coast of
Virginia to the Territory of Illinois, with Proposals
for the Establishment of a Colony of English (Phil-
adelphia, I817). The next year another book, Let-
ters from Illinois (London, i8i8), appeared from
the same author. Both attracted widespread atten-
tion in England, and the English Prairie settlement
became the center about which was waged the whole
controversy over the expediency of emigration of
English people to America. Birkbeck's writings
represented emigration, particularly if directed to



24

 




                  Introduction                25

his section of Illinois, as an enviable escape from
political oppression and economic ruin and a sure
road to good fortune and happiness. Some of those,
however, whom he induced to settle in the western
country were keenly disappointed, and, embittered
by ill-luck or the hardships of frontier life, sent
back reports denouncing Birkbeck in no uncertain
terms and asserting that, having been himself de-
ceived in the character of the American interior,
he was seeking to recoup himself by selling his
lands to unsuspecting emigrants. The letters of
the malcontents were seized upon and made use of
with avidity by those who were laboring to restrain
emigration, while on the other hand men who were
satisfied with the Western settlement or who had
interests involved in its prosperity, as warmly de-
fended Birkbeck's project. The result was a veri-
table war of the newspaper writers and pam-
phleteers -a war in the first instance between two
groups of English writers attacking and defending,
respectively, the policy of emigration; and in its
later phase between the English who satirized
American conditions and the Americans who re-
sented this procedure and declaimed vehemently
against it. While the literary belligerents talked
and wrote, the people continued to migrate. Ad-
lard Welby, a conservative Englishman who made a
tour of inspection in the West in 18i9, very fairly
summed up the situation when he said: "These
favorable accounts [the writings of Birkbeck],
aided by a period of real privation and discontent

 




Fordham's Personal Narrative



in Europe, caused emigration to increase ten-fold;
and though various reports of unfavorable nature
soon circulated, and many who had emigrated actu-
ally returned to their native land in disgust, yet
still the trading vessels were filled with passengers
of all ages and descriptions, full of hope, looking
forward to the West as to a land of liberty and
delight-a land flowing with milk and honey-a
second land of Canaan."
  The ablest attack upon the English Prairie
scheme was made by William Cobbett, the noted
Radical leader and pamphleteer, who, in i8i8, pub-
lished his Year's Residence in the United States of
America (New York, i8i8), by way of a reply to
Mr. Birkbeck's books. Cobbett was not opposed
to emigration from England in itself, but he sav-
agely denounced Birkbeck and all others who
sought to induce the emigrant to go beyond the
Alleghenies in search of a home. His writing upon
this subject was done at a farm in Long Island
where he was living in virtual exile, with prosecu-
tion for political offenses hanging over him if he
returned to British jurisdiction. It cannot be known
definitely whether, as Birkbeck declared, he was
practically bought up by Eastern capitalists to ad-
vocate the settling of immigrants in the seaboard
states rather than on the western prairies, but in
any case this was the policy he urged with uncom-
promising fervor. For information as to what
really were the conditions at the English Prairie
Cobbett made use of Thomas Hulme's Journal made



2.6

 






during a Tour in the Western Countries of Amer-
ica: Sept. 30, i8I8-Au gust 7, i8i9. Hulme was
an honest English farmer, strongly Radical in prin-
ciples and a follower of Cobbett. On the whole his
Journal, however, exhibits a favorable attitude
toward the Birkbeck enterprise, and it was only by
twisting its statements and utterly ignoring their
real import that the vilifying pamphleteer could
adapt them to his ends. Cobbett's attack, which was
renewed in successive editions of his book and in
other writings, brought the English Prairie settle-
ment its highest measure of notoriety, though
scarcely to its profit. Birkbeck kept up his side of
the controversy in similar new editions and inci-
dental effusions, and was not lacking in out-spoken
supporters.  Chief among these was Richard
Flower, father of George Flower, who in i8i8
sold his estate in Hertfordshire and joined his rela-
tives and former neighbors in Illinois. In i8i9 he
publi