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New York is the Empire State, and with the following comprises
Yankee land, which word Yankee is most properly a corruption of
Yengeese, the old Indian word for English; so that, by parity of
reasoning, John Bull is, after all, a Yankee.
||The Bay State, Steady Habits.
||Banner State, or Green Mountain Boys.
||The Granite State.
These are the Yankees, par excellence; and it is not
polite or even civil for a traveler to consider or mention any of
the other States as laboring under the idea that they ever could,
by any possibility, be considered as Yankees; for, in the South, the
word Yankee is almost equivalent to a tin peddler, a sharp, Sam
||The Keystone State.
||The Jersey (pronounced Jar-say) Blues.
||The Old Dominion, and sometimes the Cavaliers.
||Rip Van Winckle.
||The Palmetto State.
||The Lion's Den.
||The Creole State.
||The Border Beagles.
I do not know what elegant names have been given to the Floridas,
the Iowa, or any of the other territories, but no doubt they are
equally significant. Texas, I suppose, will be called Annexation
This information, although it appears frivolous, is very useful,
as without it much of the perpetual war of politics in the States
cannot be understood. Yankee in Europe is a sort of byword, denoting
repudiation and all sorts of chicanery; but the Yankee States are
more English, more intellectual, and more enterprising than all the
rest put together; and Pennsylvania should be enrolled among them.
In short, in the north-east you have the cool, calculating,
confident, and persevering Yankee; in the south, the fiery, somewhat
aristocratic, bold, and uncompromising American, full of talent, but
with his energies a little slackened by his proximity to the equator
and his habitual use of slave assistance.
In the central States, all is progressive; a more agricultural
population of mixed races, as energetic as the Yankee, but not
possessing his advantages of a seaboard. The Western States are the
pioneers of civilization, and have a dauntless, less educated, and
more turbulent character, approaching, as you draw towards the
setting sun, very much to the half-horse, half-alligator, and paving
the way for the arts and sciences of Europe with the rifle and the
It is these Western States and the vast laboring population of
the seaboard, who have only their manual labor to maintain them,
without property or without possessions of any kind, that control
the legislature, their numerical strength beating and bearing down
mind, matter, and wealth.
Doubtless it is the bane of the republican institution, as now
settled in North America, that every man, woman, and child, in order
to assert their equality, must meddle with matters far above the
comprehension of a great majority; for, although the people of the
United States can, as George the Third so piously wished for the
people of England, read their bible, whenever they are inclined to
do so, yet it is beyond possibility, as human nature is constituted,
that all can be endowed with the same, or any thing like the same,
faculties. Too much learning makes them mad; and hence the constant
danger of disruption, from opposing interests, which the masses—for
the word mob is not applicable here—must always enforce. The north
and the south, the east and the west, are as dissimilar in habits,
in thought, in action, and in interests, as Young Russia is from Old
England, or as republican France was from the monarchy of Louis the
Hence is it that a Canadian, residing, as it were, on the Neutral
Ground, can so much better appreciate the tone of feeling in
America, as the United States' people love to call their country,
than an Englishman, Scotchman, or Irishman can; for here are visible
the very springs that regulate the machinery, which are covered and
hidden by the vast space of the Atlantic. You can form no idea of
the American character by the merchants, traveling gentry, or
diplomatists, who visit London and the sea-ports. You must have
lengthened and daily opportunities of observing the people of a new
country, where a new principle is working, before you can venture
safely to pronounce an attempt even at judgment.
Monsieur Tocqueville, who is always lauded to the skies for his
philosophic and truly extraordinary view of American policy and
institutions, has perhaps been as impartial as most republican
writers since the days of the enthusiast Volney, on the merits or
demerits of the monarchical and democratic systems; yet his opinions
are to be listened to very cautiously, for the leaven was well mixed
in his own cake before it was matured for consumption by the public.
Weak and prejudiced minds receive the doctrines of a philosopher
like Tocqueville as dictations: he pronounced ex cathedra his
doctrines, and it is heresy to gainsay them. Yet, as an able writer
in that universal book, "The Times," says, reason and history read a
That democracy is an essential principle, and must sooner or
later prevail amongst all people, is very analogous to the prophecy
of Miller, that the material world is to be rolled up as a garment,
and shriveled in the fire on the thirteenth day of some month next
year, or the year after.
These fulminations are very semblable to those of the
popes—harmless coruscations—a sort of aurora borealis, erratic and
splendid, but very unreal and very unsearchable as to cause and
There can be, however, very little doubt in the mind of a person
whose intellects have been carefully developed, and who has used
them quietly to reason on apparent conclusions, that the form of
government in the United States has answered a purpose hitherto, and
that a wise one; for the impatience of control which every new-comer
from the Old World naturally feels, when he discovers that he has
only escaped the dominion of long-established custom to fall under
the more despotic dominion of new opinions, prompts him, if he
differs, and he always naturally does, where so many opinions are
suddenly brought to light and forced on his acquiescence, to move
out of their sphere. Hence emigration westward is the result; and
hence, for the same reasons, the old seaboard States, where the
force of the laws operates more strongly than in the central
regions, annually pour out to the western forests their masses of
The feeling of old Daniel Boone and of Leather Stockings is a
very natural one to a half-educated or a wholly uneducated man, and
no doubt also many quiet and respectable people get harassed and
tired of the caucusing and canvassing for political power, which is
incessantly going on under the modern system of things in America,
and take up their household gods to seek out the land flowing with
milk and honey beyond the wilderness.
No person can imagine the constant turmoil of politics in the
Northern States. The writer already quoted says, that there is "one
singular proof of the general energy and capacity for business,
which early habits of self-dependence have produced;—almost every
American understands politics, takes a lively interest in them
(though many abstain under discouragement or disgust from taking a
practical part), and is familiar, not only with the affairs of his
own township or county, but with those of the State or of the Union;
almost every man reads about a dozen newspapers every day, and will
talk to you for hours, (tant bien que mal) if you will listen
to him, about the tariff and the Ashburton treaty."
And he continues by stating that this by no means interferes with
his private affairs; on the contrary, he appears to have time for
both, and can reconcile "the pursuits of a bustling politician and a
steady man of business. Such a union is rarely found in England, and
never on, the Continent."
But what is the result of such a union of versatile talent?
Politics and dollars absorb all the time which might be used to
advantage for the mental aggrandizement of the nation; and every
petty pelting quidnunc considers himself as able as the President
and all his cabinet, and not only plainly tells them so every hour,
but forces them to act as he wills, not as wisdom
wills. There is a Senate, it is true, where some of this popular
fervor gets a little cooling occasionally: but, although there are
doubtless many acute minds in power, and many great men in public
situations, yet the majority of the people of intellect and of
wealth in the United States keep aloof whilst this order of things
remains: for, from the penny-postman and the city scavenger to the
very President himself, the qualification for office is popular
Thus, when Mr. Polk thunders from the Capitol, it is most likely
not Mr. Polk's heart that utters such warlike notes of preparation,
but Mr. Polk would never be re-elected, if he did not do as his
rulers bid him do.
It may seem absurd enough, it is nevertheless true, that this
political furor is carried into the most obscure walks of life, and
the Americans themselves tell some good stories about it; while, at
the same time, they constantly din your ears with "the destinies of
the Great Republic," the absolute certainty of universal American
dominion over the New World, and the rapid decay and downfall of the
Old, which does not appear fitted to receive pure Democracy2.
They tell a good story of a political courtship in the "New York
Mercury," as decidedly one of the best things introduced in a late
"Inasmuch," says the editor, "as all the States hereabouts have
concluded their labors in the presidential contest, we think we run
no risk of upsetting the constitution, or treading upon the most
fastidious toe in the universe, by affording our readers the same
hearty laugh into which we were betrayed.
"Jonathan walks in, takes a seat and looks at Sukey; Sukey rakes
up the fire, blows out the candle, and don't look at Jonathan.
Jonathan hitches and wriggles about in his chair, and Sukey sits
perfectly still. At length he musters courage and speaks—
"'I love you like pizan and sweetmeats?'
"'It's a fact and no mistake—wi—will—now—will you have me—Sew—ky?'
"'Jon—nathan Hig—gins, what am your politics?'
"'I'm for Polk, straight.'
"'Wall, sir, yew can walk straight to hum, cos I won't have
nobody that ain't for Clay! that's a fact.'
"'Three cheers for the Mill Boy of the Slashes!' sung out
"'That's your sort,' says Sukey. 'When shall we be married, Jon—nathan?'
"'Soon's Clay's e—lect—ed.'
"'What's the matter, Sukey?'
"'Sposing he ain't e—lect—ed?'
"We came away."
Verily, Monsieur De Tocqueville, you are in the right—democracy
is an inherent principle.
But the train is progressing, and we are passing Lundy's Lane,
or, as the Americans call it, "The Battle Ground," where a bloody
fight between Democracy and Monarchy took place some thirty years
ago, and where
"The bones, unburied on the naked plain,"
still are picked up by the grubbers after curiosities, and the
very trees have the balls still sticking in them.
Here woman, that ministering angel in the hour of woe, performed
a part in the drama which is worth relating, as the source from
which I had the history is from the person who owed so much to her,
and whose gallantry was so conspicuous.
Colonel Fitzgibbon, then in the 49th regiment, having
inadvertently got into a position where his sword, peeping from
under his great coat, immediately pointed him out as a British
officer, was seized by two American soldiers, who had been drinking
in the village public-house, and would either have been made
prisoner or killed had not Mrs. Defield come to his rescue.
Mr. Fitzgibbon was a tall, powerful, muscular person, and his
captors were a rifleman and an infantry soldier, each armed with the
rifle and musket peculiar to their service. By a sudden effort, he
seized the rifle of one and the musket of the other, and turned
their muzzles from him; and so firm was his grasp, that, although
unable to wrest the weapon from either of them, they could not
change the position.
The rifleman, retaining his hold of his rifle with one hand, drew
Mr. Fitzgibbon's sword with the other, and attempted to stab him in
the side. Whilst watching his uplifted arm, with the intent, if
possible, of receiving the thrust in his own arm, Mr. Fitzgibbon
perceived the two hands of a woman suddenly clasp the rifleman's
wrist, and carry it behind his back, when she and her sister
wrenched the sword from him, and ran and hid it in the cellar.
Mrs. Defield was the wife of the keeper of the tavern where this
officer happened to have arrived; an old man, named Johnson, then
came forward, and with his assistance Mr. Fitzgibbon took the two
soldiers prisoners, and carried them to the nearest guard, although
at that moment an American detachment of 150 men was within a
hundred yards of the place, hidden however from view by a few young
I am sure it will please the British reader to learn that the
government granted 400 acres of the best land in the Talbot
settlement to Edward Defield, for his wife's and sister-in-law's
Yet, such is the influence of example upon unreflecting minds
dwelling on the frontiers of Upper Canada, that although in most
instances the settlers are in possession of farms originally free
gifts from the Crown, yet many of their sons were in arms against
that Crown in 1837. Among these misguided youths was a son of
Defield's, who surrendered, with the brigands commanded by Von
Schultz, in the windmill, near Prescott, in the winter of 1838. He
had crossed over from Ogdensburgh, and was condemned to a traitor's
From Colonel Fitzgibbon's statement to the executive, this lad,
in consideration of his mother's heroism, was pardoned. Mrs. Defield
is still living.
The three horses en licorne trot us on, and we pass
Lundy's Lane, Bloody Run, a little streamlet, whose waters were once
dyed with gore, and so back to Niagara, where I shall take the
liberty of saying a few words concerning the Welland Canal.
The Welland Canal, the most important in a commercial point of
view of any on the American continent—until that of Tchuantessegue,
in Mexico, which I was once, in 1825, deputed to survey and cut, is
formed, or that other projected through San Juan de Nicaragua—was
originally a mere job, or, as it was called, a job at both ends and
a failure in the middle, until it passed into the hands of the local
government. If there has been any job since, it has not been made
public, and it is now a most efficient and well conducted work,
through which a very great portion of the western trade finds its
way, in despite of that magnificent vision of De Witt Clinton's, the
Erie Canal; and when the Welland is navigable for the schooners and
steamers of the great lakes, it will absorb the transit trade, as
its mouth in Lake Erie is free from ice several weeks sooner than
the harbor of Buffalo.
The old miserable wooden locks and bargeway have been converted
into splendid stone walls and a ship navigation; and, to give some
idea of the rising importance of the Welland Canal, I shall briefly
state that the tolls in 1832 amounted to £2,432, in 1841 had risen
to £20,210, and in 1843 to £25,573 3s. 1O-1/4d.: and when the works
are fairly finished, which they nearly are, this will be trebled in
the first year; for it has been carefully calculated that the gross
amount which would have passed of tonnage of large sailing craft
only on the lakes, in 1844, was 26,400 tons, out of which only 7,000
had before been able to use the locks.
All the sailing vessels now, with the exception of three or four,
can pass freely; and three large steam propellers were built in
1844, whose aggregate tonnage amounted to 1,900 tons; they have
commenced their regular trips as freight-vessels, for which they
were constructed, and have been followed by the almost incredible
use of Ericson's propeller.
To show the British reader the importance of this work,
connecting, as it does, with the St. Lawrence and Rideau Canals, the
Atlantic Ocean, and Lakes Superior and Michigan, I shall, although
contrary to a determination made to give nothing in this work but
the results of personal inspection or observation, use the scissors
and paste for once, and thus place under view a table of all the
articles which are carried through this main artery of Canada, by
which both import and export trade may be viewed as in a mirror, and
this too before the canal is fairly finished.
Amount of Property Passed Through, and Tolls
|Beef and pork
|Beer and cider
|Fruit and nuts
|Butter and lard
|Pitch and tar
Amount of Property Passed Through, and Tolls
|Half flatted do.
|Do. W. I.
|Do. flour barrel
|Butter and lard
|Bacon and Hams
|Bran and shorts
Amount of Property Passed Through, and Tolls
||£25,573 3s. 10-1/4d.
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Source: Canada and the Canadians, Volume I, 1849
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