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NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.
ART. I. 1. The Statutes of Ohio and of the North Western Territory, adopted or enacted from 1788 to 1833, inclusive; together with the Ordinance of 1787. Edited by SALMON P. CHASE. Cincinnati: 1833-4-5.
Three volumes, large octavo. 2. The Ohio Gazetteer and Traveller's Guide; containing a Description of the several Towns, Townships, and Counties, with their Water Courses, Roads, Improvements, Mineral Productions, &c. &c. First revised Edition. By WARREN JENKINS. Columbus: 1837. 12mo. pp. 546.
"A LITTLE after eleven o'clock, on the night following our elections in this place," says a letter from Cincinnati, written in October, 1837, "I was called to the door by a very vigorous rapping. It was some one in great haste to know the result of the day's work, and who had mistaken our house for the one in which the votes were to be counted. After directing him aright, I threw the door open a little wider, that I might see what young patriot this was, that so keenly desired to know the state of parties. The light of the hall lamp fell full on his face. It was Hezekiah Flint, one of the first band of white men, that ever came to reside in the wilds of Ohio."
Such facts are startling. In the stranger to Ohio history,
it requires an effort of imagination, to conceive of one of the founders of that great and populous State, as still an active and strong man, out at midnight to learn the result of an election. But a few facts and a little thought do away the wonder; for it was but fifty years, last April, since the first band of white residents entered what now forms the State of Ohio; and every one of the many men of seventy, yet vigorous and stirring, was entering into busy life, when the plain upon which Cincinnati is built was sold for less than fifty silver dollars!
Nor is this growth surprising, except that it is without precedent. The causes fully explain the result. Land so cheap, and labor so high, that a day's work would buy an acre; titles direct from government; a climate temperate and healthful; and, above all, a national compact, forbidding slavery, securing civil and religious freedom, and all those privileges that others had struggled for through ages of blood and turmoil, these were mighty inducements to the worn soldiers and impoverished yeomen of Massachusetts and New Jersey. Never, since the golden age of the poets, did that song, of which Mr. Butler makes mention in his History of Kentucky, "the syren song of peace and of farming,' reach so many ears, and gladden so many hearts, as after Wayne's treaty at Greenville in 1795. "The Ohio " seemed to be, literally, a land flowing with milk and honey. The farmer wrote home, of a soil "richer to appearance than can possibly be made by art"; of "plains and meadows, without the labor of hands, sufficient to support millions of cattle summer and winter "; of wheat lands, that "will, I think, vie with the island of Sicily";* and of bogs, from which might be gathered cranberries enough to make tarts for all New England; while the lawyer said, that, as he rode the circuit, his horse's legs were dyed to the knee with the juice of the wild strawberry. At that time the dreadful fevers of 1807 and 1822 were not dreamed of; the administration of Washington had healed the divisions among the States; the victory of Wayne had brought to terms the dreaded savages; and, as the dweller upon the barren shore of the Atlantic remembered these things, and the wonderful fact, in addition, that the inland garden to which he was invited was crossed
* Written in 1786; Secret Journals of Congress, Vol. IV. p. 322.
in every direction by streams, even then counted on as affording means for free commercial intercourse, and that it possessed, beside, nearly seven hundred miles of river and lake coast, the inducements for emigration became too strong to be resisted; the wagon was tinkered up at once, the harness patched anew, and a few weeks found the fortune-seeker looking down from the Chesnut Ridge, or Laurel Hill, upon the far-reaching forests of the West.
But, should the inquirer turn from the bare fact of Ohio's growth, and a view of the great causes which have produced it, and ask a detail of the operation of those causes, we are forced to tell him, that even the annals of that State are still to be compiled. A philosophical history cannot be yet looked for. The great movement which has begun at the West, the men of this day cannot see the scope or end of. They can but note down what passes before them from hour to hour, as the astronomers of old noted the motions of the sun and stars; in the hope that, by and by, a political Copernicus and Newton may come, who will reduce their seeming discords to harmony, and, amid apparent chaos, show order and beauty.
Even the labor of collecting historical materials has but now begun. The first effort of importance was made by the Historical Society of the State last December, and that will avail nothing unless followed up by strong and persevering action. Of individual effort nothing is worth notice except Mr. Chase's three volumes, containing the whole body of statute law, beginning in 1788 and extending to 1833, prefaced by a sketch of the State history. work may rank first among the materials for the future historian, as the legislation of a democratic community is the best permanent exponent of its character; and, but for the compiler of these volumes, portions of even the legislation of this young land would, probably, soon have been lost. "It was
absolutely impossible," says Mr. Chase, "to procure a complete set of the territorial laws. Of the laws of 1792 but a single copy is known to have existed in the State. The State library contained none, and none remained among the rolls in the office of the Secretary; and those that have written mere local and partial sketches have done it too often carelessly, and have produced a strange confusion
Chase, Statutes, Vol. I. p. 5.
respecting many recent facts, some of which we shall have occasion to mention further, by and by. Mr. Butler, whose general care and accuracy we have had occasion to praise heretofore, has made some blunders, through sheer heedlessness in copying, as where he quotes Sparks's account of Gist's journey down the Ohio in 1751, and substitutes Scioto for Miami, and November for February; * and even Mr. Chase, by following Blunt's "Historical Sketch," (which, by the way, he refers to erroneously, as an Appendix to the American Annual Register of 1825-6, † it having been bound up with that volume, though published two years before, and to be had without it,) instead of consulting the Journals of Congress, has been betrayed into one or two very erroneous statements; while Messrs. Flint and Hall, the two writers whose beauty of description and ease of style will attract most readers, are peculiarly open to the charge of carelessness.
One instance of this occurs with regard to La Salle's second voyage to the Mississippi, in 1683, in which year that most persevering man went from Canada, down the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, to the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. Flint, speaking of this voyage, tells us, that La Salle on his way down, founded the towns of Kaskaskia and Cahokia, ‡ left them in charge of Tonti, and then returned to Canada; § while Mr. Hall quotes a Monsieur Jontel, to show that he landed at the mouth of the Mississippi in 1683, and ascended that river. From what source Mr. Flint drew his information we know not; but the writer referred to by Mr. Hall, (and whose name was Joutel not Jontel,) was the chronicler
Sparks's Writings of Washington, Vol. II. pp. 37, 480.- Butler's History, Introd. p. XXIV. The same error occurs in his Western Chronology. f Statutes, Vol. I. pp. 10, 11, &c.
Holmes (Annals, Vol. 1. p 487) quotes American State Papers, Vol. XI. p. 35, for the settlement of Kaskaskia, in 1703. The reference should be to Vol. XII.; but the authority is of little weight; the assertion respecting the settlement of that town being in a note to the American Secretary of State, from Onis, the Spanish minister; the historical blunders of which note are pointed out in the reply of Mr. Adams, referred to in the text. But there is no reason to think that La Salle ever heard of the places named by Mr. Flint. Neither Tonti, nor Joutel, who went up the Mississippi after La Salle's death, mention them, and the place of which La Salle gave to the former the command was Fort St. Louis, upon the Illinois.
§ Indian Wars of the West, p. 22.
Western Sketches, Vol. I. p. 141. This passage, and most of that division of the volume in which occurs, are reprinted from the Illinois Maga
zine for 1831 - 2.