Page images


1858..... 1859....


Now York Central, New York & Erio. Total R. R. 1853.....tons 4,247,853 360,000 631,039 991,039 1854.........

4,165,862 549,805 743,250 1,293,055 1855...

4,022,617 670,073 842,048 1,512,121 1856.....

4,116,082 776,112 943,215 1,719,327 1857....

3,334,061 838,791 978,066 1,816,857 3,665,192 765,407 816,954 1,582,361

3,781,684 834,319 869,072 1,703 391 1861.

4,507,635 1,253,418 1,338,374 2,591,792 1862....

5,598,785 1,650,000 1,675,234 3,200,000 The railroad tonnage doubled up to the closing of the Southern rivers, while that of the canal declined. In the last two years of war and of interruption to the Baltimore and Ohio traffic, both canals and railroads have undergone a great increase of business. Thus in the two years before the war, and the two last years, the tonnage on the canals and the two railroads has been as follows:



Canal, 7,447,836 10,106,420

Railroads. 3,285,752 5,791,792



2,658,534 2,506,040 The amount of tonnage carried on all four routes in 1859 was as follows :

-Through tonnage.

tonnage. Freights. New York Central Railroad. 234,241 113,833 834,879 $3,337,148 New York and Erie Railroad 200 000

86!",072 3,108,248 Pennsylvania Railroad..... 129,767 103,839 1,170,240 3,419,494 Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. 135,127 66,470 897,486 2,92,411




3,771,187 12,793,301 2,121,672 317,459 3,781,684 1,723,945

Erie Canal

All the roads carried as much as the canals. Of the canals constructed for the transportation of produce, the Erie is the only one which has succeeded. They were all constructed by State governments, at a time when there was not sufficient capital in the country to enable individuals to undertake them. The Pennsylvania Canal was a bill of expense, and was sold out by the State to a railroad company. The State of Ohio has met the same difficulty, and has offered to sell her works. The lodiana Canal is by no means a success, and the Illinois Canal, although almost a dead level, having but two locks, cannot compete with railroads. The following table shows the receipts of certain articles in Chicago for the past year of great business, distinguishing those by canal and those by roads :





.. bushels

Canal. 241,988

Railroads. 1,424,403 13,246,054 17,863,579

Total. 1,666,391 13,728,116 29,449,328 Rye .. Barley Hides.. Wool

482,062 11,585,749





Canal. 92,844 26,557 86,441 19,310



Total. 1,038,825

872,053 12,747,123 1,523,571

. lbs.

It is thus very apparent that this canal had little agency in the development of that vast business which flowed into Chicago under the influence of railroads. The Erie Canal has had its tolls and freight charges constantly reduced in the last thirty years, and without any effect in retaining the traffic. The following, from the report of the canal department, shows the decrease in the cost of transportation : Up freight per ton from Albany Down freight per ton from Buf

falo to Albany. Leaving

Leaving freight.

freight $9 20 $9 00 $8 61 $4 45

to Buffalo.

Tolls deducted.

per year,

Tolls deducted.

1880 to 1834,. 1836 to 1889.. 1840 to 1844.. 1845 to 1849.. 1856 to 1864.. 1855 to 1858..

per year.
$18 20
18 24
13 24
8 20
6 84
4 50

6 67
6 67
6 15
3 59
2 55

11 67
6 67
3 05
2 25
1 94

6 92 6 24 6 03 5 02 4 44

3 28 8 28 2 99 2 84 2 01

$4 16 3 64 2 96 3 04 2 68 2 44

The rates in the year 1830 as compared with 1858, were as follows:

Tolls. Freight


Tolls. Freight. Total, 1830 ... $10.22 $9.78 $20.000 $5.11 $3.96 $9.07 1858

1.46 1.34 2.800 1.46 1.68 3.14

[blocks in formation]

Notwithstanding this immense reduction the traffic has sought the railroads.

It is now proposed by the Convention at Chicago to increase the capacities of the Illinois Canal, and of the Erie Canal, to admit of the passage of ships to the ocean. The cost of the first is $13,500,000, and of the last $3,500,000, which it is proposed to ask Congress to pay, although the Illinois Canal was in fact built by Congress, since the lands donated in aid furnished the means for its construction. If Congress should now furnish the $13,000,000 or $14,000,000, which it is estimated would complete the Illinois improvement, one of two things would happen : either the railroads which now do the business, and which have cost individuals $150,000,000, would be greatly injured, or the money would be lost. If the actual wants of business require the enlargement of that canal, the sum wanted is a mere nothing for a company to raise and reap the profits of it. If it is not required by the wants of business, there is no reason why the government should meddle with the matter. The expenditure of $14,000,000 in Illinois, and $4,000,000 in New York by the government, would involve the expenditure of equal sums in other States for improvements. The argument that it is necessary for the government to have the means of sending iron-clad vessels through at short notice, as a means of military defense, has Do force. The question is a purely commercial one. The treaties with England indeed exclude the presence of armed vessels of either power upon the lakes, but the ability to send iron-clads through in canal boats, to be put together there in a comparatively few hours, is too well appreciated to admit of the expending of $20,000,000 to make a passage for them. The government has sent iron-clads in sailing vessels to San Francisco with great success, and there will never be any difficulty of that kind that may not be promptly overcome in a similar manner. The above table of transportation during the last ten years shows how much of the large business of the last two years has been due to the closing of the Southern rivers, and what effect the return of peace will have upon the future railroad and canal trade. If, however, the mercantile sagacity of New York sees the want of an enlarged Erie Canal, the merchants who have spent $400,000,000 upon railroads, will not grudge $4,000,000 for that object. How a ship outlet down the Mississippi may improve New York business may be more doubtful.

TRADE OF MAURITIUS. The Mauritius and its dependencies are extremely thriving. Originally a French dependency, the Mauritius was taken possession of by our forces in 1810, and was only definitively ceded to Great Britain in 1814. Up to 1825, the island was treated commercially almost in the same way as a foreign country; but in that year sugar and other articles imported from the Mauritius were put upon the same footing as the like goods imported from the British West Indies. This measure proved to be a great boon to the Mauritius, inasmuch as only eight years after, in 1833, the island was included in the Slave Emancipation Act, under which the proprietors in the Mauritius obtained upwards of £2,000,000 of the £20,000,000 voted by Parliament as a compensation " for their abandonment of slave labor. This large payment was of the utmost importance to the colony.

Unlike the West Indies, the estates in the Mauritius were not deeply embarrassed by mortgages, and the compensation money was capable of being applied to the improvement of the country. The proprietors, with great judgment, expended a very large proportion of the money they received in fertilizing their land, improving their machinery, and importing labor from the East Indies, Madagascar, and other parts. They thus brought a large and entirely new laboring population into their country, and by good management of them they have rendered the Mauritius one of the most flourishing of the British colonial possessions.

In 1840, the imports of sugar into the United Kingdom from the Mauritius amounted to 516,076 cwt. In 1856, they amounted to 2,372,313 cwt. Besides this, the Mauritius sends a very large quantity of sugar to France, Australia, and the Cape of Good Hope. It has given itself up to sugar cultivation. Since 1854, its other exports, such as coffee, tortoiseshell, etc., have ceased, and the whole island has become a sugar factory

-a curious contrast, indeed, with the condition of our West India islands, in many of which proprietors bave been abandoning the sugar cultivation in despair, without, it is to be feared, applying themselves to the produotion of any other articles.


The use of currency or money, as it is usually called, seems to have given rise in every age to the most extraordinary exactions, frauds, and disasters, and it is apparently destined to do so as long as society lasts. Yet money is only the medium by which wealth and capital changes hands, though in the popular mind it is almost universally compounded with wealth itself. A moments reflection, bowever, serves to convince any person that it is not of itself wealth. Suppose some Robinson Crusoe, the sole sovereign and subject of his isolated home, were possessed of any amount of money in any shape, how would his wealth be increased by it! Clearly it is not wealth at all unless it can obtain the products of other people's industry in exchange, and it becomes wealth precisely in proportion to the quantity and variety of those industrial products with which one is surrounded, and which one can obtain in exchange for money. The possessor of wealth must, however, be disposed to take his money in exchange, and hence it must have some value of itself. It must be such a commodity that to them will be an equivalent for that which they give in exchange. It must be readily recognized, and of a generally known value. In the early stages of society, where each man produced something, and all different commodities, a barter trade could and did take place, but still such exchanges were very limited, and necessarily so because it required that every man should be familiar with the value of the thing he wanted, as well as of that he tendered. Hence it soon became necessary to substitute some one article of generally known value, by which all others should be gauged, in order that an idea of value might readily be conveyed to every one. Thus, if we say a hat is worth 100 pounds of sugar, or 10 pounds of spice, or 5 yards of lace, we are not so readily understood as if we say it is worth $5. For the purpose therefore of facilitating trade, a great variety of articles bare in different ages and places been used as this common referee. The Lacedemonians used iron; the early Romans coffee; salt was used in Abyssinia, and leather in Russia down to Peter the Great; while with others, pails, shells, and cocoa have at times been put to the same use. The most advanced nations, however, ultimately adopted gold and silver, because of the very obvious adaptedness of these metals to the purposes of currency. The supply of them was increased as much as could be, but never was much varied. Hence the value became as nearly fixed as possible, and very soon every article of industry and property found its value proportioned to a certain weight of those metals. As intercourse between nations increased, the common knowledge of the use of the precious metals became more extended, and merchants regulated values all over the world by their know. ledge of how much gold would purchase any given article of wealth in any part of the world, and by transporting those articles from places where they could be got for a little gold, to those where they would command a good deal, they not only made fortunes, but equalized values and distributed industrial products, conveying to every clime and country the natural blessings of every other, and diffusing the bounties of nature throughout the habitable globe. This operation was not and is not confined to commodities

more than to gold, which is also distributed over the earth through the in. fluence of commerce. The amount of gold currency that any nation requires is determined by the state of its prosperity. If it has more gold than is required it will be cheap, or other goods will be dear instantly the merchant brings the dear goods and carries away the cheap gold to those places where it is dearer. Thus, the gold of one nation always commands the wealth of another.

It is not surprising that under these circumstances gold became a symbol of wealth. It was the only commodity by which all wealth, local and national, could be guaged, and is the only one which will readily command all others. It has a known and certain value to the people of all countries, and is therefore sometimes called the “ representative sign of values.” This expression does not, however, appear to be entirely accurate. For instance, if a person barters a bale of wool for a barrel of sugar, which is the representative of value, the sugar or the wool ? If he gives an ounce of gold for either of them, why should the gold be the “sign ” of the value of the other, any more than the wool or sugar should be the sign of the value of the gold? We think there is no reason for this, and would rather call the gold therefore simply an equivalent.

The first use of gold and silver as money was by weight. But in dealing, although all people know the value of gold, they canuot all weigh it and test its purity at each transaction, any more than each grocer can inspect a barrel of beef or fish or flour at every purchase. All governments have therefore inspected the gold, ascertained its fineness, weighed the pieces, and fixed a brand upon each so that all persons may know the weight and fineness at sight, as they do the inspected beef from the brand on the barrel. That operation of the government is called coining. The inspector is the mint. The privilege of making coins or fixing a stamp upon pieces of metal is reserved to governments, in order that the greatest faith may be reposed by all in the correctness of the brand. Every government has made the coined pieces of different weights and values, and usually each has required that those of foreign governments shall not circulate as money, for the reason principally that they are not so well known to the people at large. All the coins of all countries being, however, of the same material they have a certain value, and merchants can freely use them in international trade.

In modern times, commerce having developed itself on a grand scale, it was discovered that the transportation of gold back and forth from one country to another was a matter of great risk and loss of time and labor, and might easily be obviated by means of orders. The Venitian merchant who had sent goods to Lisbon for sale, and wished to purchase goods in Genoa, would be compelled to send his gold from the first to the last place at much risk and expense. He therefore conceives the idea of selling to another merchant who wanted money in Lisbon an order for the gold. This was a bill of exchange; with the money he received for his bill he purchased another on Genoa. His money was thus transferred to the desired spot without cost or risk. In 1140 the great Venitian merchants also established a bank of deposits and discount for the service of the large dealers. The use of bills of exchange based on the credit of the merchantprinces became very general, and gold became more nearly confined in its use to the local currency of each country. Thus, the livre of CHARLEMAGE was 12 ounces of silver, or 79 francs. This was gradually reduced, until

« PreviousContinue »