From Atwater's remarks on a Tour to Prairie du Chien.
The region contains the richest lead mines in the known world.- When I was there, these mines had been worked only about 3 years, by comparatively but a few persons, who were ignorant of the business they followed, and they labored under almost every disadvantage, yet they had manufactured in that time more than thirty millions of pounds of lead. This had been carried to the Atlantic cities, and had reduced the price of lead, in all its forms, one half. In the mineral country it was selling at the mines for one cent a pound; at Philadelphia, for three and a half cents a pound.
Though I brought away from the mines specimens of every sort of lead ore, accompanied by statements given where, and how procured; the quantity made at each smelting establishment, and other information relating to it, and all thrown, too, into a tabular form; yet in a popular little book like this, it might not be interesting to the general reader, such as read what I am now writing, and I pass it by.
The lead region in the U. States, has nearly paralell with the Atlantic Ocean, from the north east towards the south west. Or in other words, this region occupies the same space that the Alleghanies do. It begins in the same latitude these mountains do in the same latitude north, and ends in the same latitude. From the Wisconsin in the north, to Red River of Arkansas in the north, ' in breadth, from east to west, the lead region occupies about one hundred and fifty miles of longitude. In some places it has very deep in the earth, and it lies the deepest, about half way between its extreme ends. At its northern and southern terminations, it ascends to the very surface of the earth, and is there found, even on the surface other on the highest grounds (except the mounds) or in the rivers. On the little _______ I could have filled our little wagon, often as we passed over them with beautiful specimens of the phosphate of lead.
The Mississippi passes through the region from latitude 43 degrees 30 minutes north to latitude 38 degrees north.
On the western shore of the Mississippi, opposite Rock Island, and extending north one hundred miles from indubitable appearances every where as I passed along, all that country must contain exhaustless lead mines.
From the vast region where this mineral exists extending through ten degrees of latitude, in width, too, in places, three degrees of longitude-from its richness, (it being in many places nearly pure lead) considering also the ease with which it is obtained, and its vast abundance, we may sagely conclude that we have lead ore enough for all mankind for ever within our own territory.
Copper ore is found in the mineral region, and one hundred and seventy tons of it, (a sulfurate) had been dug at Mineral Point, before I left the country. Its richness had not been sufficiently tested at that time.
Fossil coal exists, near the head of Rock Island, on the western side of the hill, where I saw it in place, and my information enables me to say, without doubt that great bodies of this coal exist on a branch of Rock River, rising south west of the main river, more than one hundred miles from its mouth. This coal may be reached by boats, and easily floated down the river to rocky Island.
On the west side of the Mississippi, above the State of Missouri, there is territory sufficient for two states, each larger than Virginia. If the upper country should be formed states, they would eventually be the most populous and powerful states in the whole confederacy. Nature has intended that a vast region for thirty millions of human beings at some not very remote period of time. For purity of air and of water-for mineral wealth, fertility of soil, healthiness of climate and almost every other thing valuable to man, the whole country is equal to any portion of the earth's surface.
The future population of this vast region, dwelling as they will on the highest table land in the United States, can easily descend the water courses, either Northwardly down Red River, to Hudson's Bay; or southwardly down the Mississippi to N. Orleans-eastwardly down our northern Lakes to N. York, or down the St. Lawrence to Quebec. Nature has opened these roads to and from this region, and man is now using them. During the next hundred years, Ohio, as a state, will take the lead in wealth and business, and in the number of her people, compared with any state west of the Alleghanies; but eventually Missouri, and any one of the states to be formed on the upper Mississippi may surpass us in numbers, wealth, and political power. Should not one of the states I have referred to eventually become the most powerful, than Ohio must be at the very head of our confederacy forever.
Should our people never settle the country west of the Rocky Mountains, (though I fell assured of a row of states on the Pacific equaling our Atlantic ones, within a century to come) yet there will be at no distant day, a tier of States, north-north west and west of Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas, which will eventually become populous, wealthy, and powerful States.
To all human appearance the census of 1840 will place the national government in the hands of the people in the valley of the Mississippi. To resist this event, would involve the necessity of preventing the revolution of the earth around the sun and upon its axis, and the whole course of nature. To mourn over it, involves the extreme folly of repining at the happy lot of a majority of the nation-and our posterity forever. From the growth of this nation, the lover of liberty- has nothing to fear, because our people from the cradles are taught to be republicans. They are such, as if by instinct, and these principles, which tend to make them MEN are taught them from the first moment they see the light, breath American air, and taste their mother's milk.
In resuming my personal narrative, I have little to say about Edwardsville, where the reader left me. Its location is nine miles east of Alton on the Mississippi, and twenty miles north of St. Louis.
The same remarks might be made of all the country west of the Wabash, extending from the Mexican Gulf to the Frozen Ocean, parts of Louisiana, where the pine woods are and also where some persons wish to locate all the Indians, excepted. With the exceptions already made from the Wabash directly westward-and from the Mississippi below lat. 37 degrees north, that whole region is one vast meadow. Its soil is as fertile as any land can be, and when planted with trees and cultivated by good husbandmen, it will furnish food enough for three hundred millions of people.-
Grass enough now grows there for all the tame animals, whose food is grass now, in the world.
This vast region, in its present state, is of little value, but the time will certainly arrive when it will be covered by farms and animated with countless millions of domestic animals. Their golden harvests will wave before every breath of air that moves over its surface--the great and splendid cities will rear their tall and glittering spires, and the countless millions of happy human beings will live and move, and display talents that will enable man, and virtues that will adorn and render him happy.
The longest, the most durable and best rivers in the world, intersect and pass through this country, standing on whose banks there will yet be some of the largest cities in the world. Comparatively speaking, but few persons in the world have ever beheld this country. No tongue and no author have described it; but it is there--it will be seen--it will be described, and it will be settled, improved and occupied by countless millions of the human race. Its rivers will be cleared of the impediments to navigation, all the way to the Rocky Mountains; the roaring of the guns of the steamers, the stage driver's horn and the loud huzzahs of happy thoughts will soon be heard along all these rivers and at the very foot of these mountains.
Infinite wisdom and infinite goodness never created on this earth so fine a country as this, and to suppose for a moment that it will not be thickly settle, used and improved by unnumbered millions of men, involves so poor-so contemptuous an opinion of men, that I instantly and indignantly discard it from my mind.