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BOOK IV.: of the population of the united states of north america. - William Godwin, Of Population. An Enquiry concerning the Power of Increase in the Numbers of Mankind 
Of Population. An Enquiry concerning the Power of Increase in the Numbers of Mankind, being an Answer to Mr. Malthus’s Essay on that Subject (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1820).
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of the population of the united states of north america.
In the Second Book of this work I have shewn the absolute impossibility, so far as all the Tables that have yet been formed respecting the multiplication of mankind can be relied on, that the increased population of the United States of North America, “a doubling,” according to Mr. Malthus, “for above a century and a half successively, in less than twenty-five years,” could have been produced by the principle of “procreation.” We have seen that under the most favourable circumstances, and such as cannot be expected to continue in any country for any length of time, the increase is perfectly insignificant compared with the monstrous propositions of Mr. Malthus, and that from the constitution of human nature it must necessarily be so.
Here then I might have closed my argument respecting the principal topic of the present treatise. I might have rested my appeal with every strict and impartial reasoner, whether the phenomenon of the increased numbers of the people of the United States must not be accounted for in some other way, and not from procreation. But I know that many readers, and many persons calling themselves reasoners, are neither strict nor impartial. And I would willingly consent to depart a little from the rigid forms of logical deduction, if by so doing I can the more fully satisfy such as these.
There will doubtless be some who, struck with the preceding arguments, will feel as if they had before them two opposite demonstrations, that which results on the one hand from all that is known, or has been laid down by scientifical writers, respecting the multiplication of mankind, and that which results on the other from' the actual enumerations and censuses of the inhabitants of the United States. That feeling will be erroneous. There cannot be opposite demonstrations: and, as has been already remarked, “A census or enumeration of human beings in any given country, or over the whole globe, can never constitute any term in the progression of the increase of mankind,” allowing for the moment that there is an increasea .
The result is then, that I have sufficiently proved, so far as can be inferred from all the documents that have yet been collected respecting the supposed increase of mankind, that the augmentation of numbers in the United States of North America, to whatever it may amount, cannot have arisen from their own proper resources in the way of procreation. It will nevertheless, as I have said, be more satisfactory to many, that I should endeavour to shew affirmatively how it has arisen; and for the sake of such satisfaction the present Book shall be appropriated to the solution of that problem. The human mind in ordinary instances does not rest so well contented with a merely negative demonstration: it is the passion of the common run of enquirers into man or nature, to seek to account for every thing, I by no means promise that I shall in the present case do this completely; I am entering upon an altogether new topic; but I shall at least throw out some hints, which I have no doubt subsequent information will make out and confirm. And at all events I protest in the commencement, against any imperfectness in the present division of my treatise, as having the effect of vitiating the reasonings of the divisions immediately preceding.
I further trust that, if I shall not be able to make out to demonstration the precise sources of the increasing population of the United States, I shall at least shew in what follows, from a variety of considerations, exclusively of the thread of the argument of my Second and Third Books, that it is impossible that the source should be found in the principle of procreation.
of the topography and political condition of the united states.
Having examined sufficiently the fundamental principle of our subject, and enquired into the facts which belong to it, as far as the other portions of the globe are concerned, it is time that we should proceed to the consideration of North America.
It is from this country that Mr. Malthus has drawn his portentous and calamitous doctrine of the geometrical ratio. He says, “In the northern states of America the population has been found to double itself, for above a century and a half successively, in less than twenty-five years;” and he adds, This “has been repeatedly ascertained to be from procreation only.”
Astonished at assertions so bold, for which I could perceive so very slender foundation, I wrote to Mr. Malthus, requesting him to state to me the precise authority on which his assertions were built. My Letter and his Answer are inserted in the First Chapter of the Second Book.
It will be obvious that the second assertion is the only one with which our question is concerned. The first may perhaps demand some comment incidentally, but that only as it is connected with the second.
I knew however, when I wrote to Mr. Maithus, that it would be idle and almost ludicrous, to ask for his proofs for the second. I was in hopes they would in some measure be brought to light in our investigation of the proofs of the first.
The first observation then that forces itself upon our attention, is the impossibility of bringing any proof of the second assertion. And yet this, and this only, this little line, is all the ground that Mr. Malthus's system has to stand on. Every thing in the Essay on Population depends upon an original begging the question. Presumptions and probabilities, it might be supposed, would attend on the proposition: proofs there could be none.
To render Mr. Malthus's doctrine sound and complete, it would be necessary that the United States of America should be posited alone upon some island in the vast sea, and surrounded by inaccessible rocks, so that no vessel; not so much as a cock-boat, could make good a landing. How Mr. Malthus would have obtained his intelligence from this island, I would leave it to him to settle.
Next to such an island, the best country in which to try the experiment of the procreative power, would be such a country as China or Japan, where it is understood to be death for any stranger to attempt a settlement The United States is no such country. It is said, that they have not solemnly renounced all ideas of hospitality; and that a stranger may meditate a settlement there, without risking the loss of life or limb.
Well then: There can be no proof that the increasing numbers of the inhabitants of the United States came from procreation only.
If however we cannot have for the scene of pur experiment such an island, or such a country, as I have described, it is to be hoped that at least the trial will be made upon a country seldom visited by voyagers, and almost never by any man with the intention of taking up his residence in it, a country that has an ill name over the rest of the globe, whose manners and superstitions are contemplated with horror, a country without activity or enterprise, where no man can hope to make his fortune, and the labourer must not expect by the sweat of his brow to earn the means of supplying the most indispensible wants of existence.
The United States of North America are the very reverse of all this. Let us take down the map, and look at the territory. It is one immense line of coast, presenting more multiplied commodiousnesses for taking land,—bays, harbours, navigable rivers, and creeks,—than any other country on the face of the earth. If the government of the United States, like those of China and Japan, had taken every precaution to prevent strangers from settling within their borders, it would have been in vain. The oldest inhabitants of the territory, a century or two back, were Europeans, speaking European languages. They have not yet acquired a physiognomy, a distinct character or set of manners, by which a native of North America can be distinguished from the emigrants settled in his vicinity.
But the government of the United States pursues no such train of policy. They know that they possess an immeasurable tract of country, and that that country, whatever we may talk of its population, is very poorly inhabited. They have very naturally the desire to become a mighty empire. Without imputing to them any vicious ambition, they might, from mere virtue, and benevolence of soul, wish to see the vast tracts, above, below, and around them on every side, adorned with a healthy, an industrious, a civilized, and a happy race of people. Their government is free; their institutions are liberal; and what they most obviously want is greater multitudes of men to partake these blessings. They are not converts to Mr. Malthus's philosophy; or at least not such converts, as to be disposed to make it their rule of action for the territory over which they preside. They are not exactly prepared to trust for the future population of their domain, to “procreation only.”
Long has the coast of North America been looked to by the discontented, the unhappy, and the destitute of every kingdom of Europe, as the land of promise, the last retreat of independence, the happy soil, on which they might dwell and be at peace. How could it be otherwise? Here every man, without let or molestation, may worship God according to his conscience. Here there are no legal infliction of torture, no Bastilles and dungeons, no sanguinary laws. This is the sacred asylum of liberty. Here land, by hundreds and thousands of acres, may be had for almost nothing. Here the wages of labour are high.
There are but two or three reasons, that prevent the whole lower and worst provided cast of the inhabitants of Europe, from passing over to the United States almost in a body.
First, the strange and nameless love which a great majority of mankind feel for the spot of earth on which they were born. To see it no more, to meet no more the old familiar faces, never to behold again the trees and the hedge-rows, the church, the hamlet, the chimney-corner and the oaken-board, which have been our daily acquaintance through life, is a divorce hardly less severe than that of soul and body. In this respect man is for the most part a vegetable. with a slight shade of difference, and clings to his native soil with almost equal pertinacity.
A second reason why our poor do not generally remove to America, is that those to whom removal would be in a manner the necessary of existence, do not possess the means of accomplishing it. Without the possession of a little sum of money, they may look a thousand times with eager aspirations upon the waves of the Atlantic, but they can never ascend the bark that should waft them over.
history of emigration from europe to north america in the seventeenth century.
The discovery and the planting of North America form one of the most interesting epochs in the history of human nature. As long as there is tyranny and oppression among any of the governments of mankind, as long as it is possible for a human being to come under the burthen of unmerited disgrace, as long as there shall exist a pride in man that disdains servitude, and a spirit of industry anxious to free itself from vexation and constraint, so long will emigration form a feature in the history of our race. One of the blessings indispensible to the welfare of man in society, is the prerogative he shall possess of removing himself from the yoke of a government that, for whatever reason, has become intolerable to him. One of the great mischiefs of the Roman government under the emperors, was, that a man who had the misfortune to fall under the displeasure of the despot, or who could no longer brook the condition of the polity that ruled over him, had no refuge to which he could fly: the boundaries of the empire and of the known world were almost the same. His situation was something like that spoken of in the Psalms of David: “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there thy right hand shall reach me.”
The condition of the European world became greatly improved, in this respect, upon the dissolution of the Roman empire. This favoured portion of the globe, by means of that event, was broken into several governments; and he who was dissatisfied with one, could remove himself into the sphere of another. Yet the remedy was imperfect. He who could not bear “the ills he had,” might chance to “fly to others that he knew not of,” and that might prove still more intolerable. He removed himself, it may be, from the scene of his oppression, and he might come under a yet bitterer despotism and persecution.
The discovery of North America, and the manner in which it was planted, struck these objections to the root. In proportion as the territory was cleared, and the savages retired back into the woods, here was a vast portion of the teeming earth, from Cape Breton north, to the boundaries of Florida, that opened wide her bosom, and tendered a hospitable welcome to every exile. He whom the iron of oppression had pierced to the soul, and he whom visionary notions of civil or religious independence had driven from his native clime, equally found himself at home and at rest on the shores of North America. Here was no government to gall him. The refinements of oppression had not reached this happy soil: here was no scheme of civil policy, which, under the hollow pretence of a paternal care for its subjects, shackled the native freedom of enterprise, and sought to reduce the commerce of man with his God within the control of the “traditions of men.”
The discovery of North America may almost be said to have added a new element to nature, and a new faculty to man.
One of the first considerable British settlements that was made in this part of the world, was effected in New England by the Brownists and Puritans, flying from the intolerance of king James the First, and still more of his son and successor, king Charlesa . The foundations of Boston and some other considerable towns in that state, were laid in or about the year 1630a. Charles dismissed his parliament early in 1629, with the declared intention of never calling another. Henceforth all that opposed his measures in church cr state were laid at his mercy; and it is well known that Laud and his colleagues dealt out nothing but tyranny to those whom they regarded as their enemies, in the shape of heavy fines, tedious imprisonment, and the pillory. It is computed that above fifteen hundred persons went into voluntary exile in New England in the year 1630, among whom were several of respectable, families, and in easy circumstancesb . Shortly after, we read that the number of freemen greatly increased, so as to induce them, instead of attending the general courts in person, voluntarily to have recourse to the expedient of sending representatives. who might transact business in their namec . In 1635, among crowds of new settlers, came Hugh Peters and sir Henry Vanec. In 1637 the government of Charles became so much alarmed on the subject, as to induce it to issue a proclamation, forbidding any one to emigrate to New England without leave from the court: and the first consequence of this proclamation was the stopping eight ships, in which were embarked sir William Constable, sir Arthur Ha-zelrig, Hampden, Pym, and Oliver Cromweld . But, notwithstanding every precaution that could be used, the embarkations of the following year were more numerous than evere : and it is computed that, from the first settlement of the Brownists to the year 1640, twenty-one thousand two hundred British subjects passed over to New England, and two hundred thousand pounds, a vast sum for those days, were expended in fitting out ships, transporting settlers, and purchasing stockf . Thus did this colony not grow up by insensible degrees, but seemed to “rise like an exhalation.”
Another colony which was planted about the same time was that of Maryland, by one of the most virtuous of mankind, Cecilius lord Baltimore. The colonists of Maryland were the Roman Catholics of the British dominions. This set of men, who faithfully adhered to the religion of their ancestors, were treated much more opprobriously, and experienced a bitterer persecution, than the Puritans; while these last, themselves suffering from a similar cause, were the fiercest in calling for the execution of the sanguinary laws against men, who it was fashionable to say held principles incompatible with all civilisation and government. The first settlers in Maryland, who sailed from Great Britain in 1632, were two hundred Catholic gentlemen with their families and adherentsg : but they were speedily followed by much greater numbersg; and during the first two years lord Baltimore himself spent the sum of forty thousand pounds upon his colonyi . At the Restoration the inhabitants are said to have amounted to twelve thousand personsk and in sixteen years afterwards to have increased to sixteen thousandl
Such was the recorded emigration, to the coasts of North America from the island of Great Britain (stimulated by religious and political oppression), which was begun and nearly matured under the rule of Charles the First. It is exceedingly probable that the real number of emigrants from these considerations surpassed the number that is set down.
But it will perhaps be supposed, that when this cloud had passed over, the emigration ceased, and the colonies were left to what has been called their natural increase. Alas, where is the government, of which its subjects do not think they have reason to complain? Where is the history, every chapter of which does not abound with convulsions, intolerance, persecution, the calamitous defeat of one party, and the vindictive triumph of another? Where is the nation, multitudes of whose people do not suffer great adversity, and harbour in their minds grievous discontents?
While New England became thus considerable from the causes I have mentioned, another colony was established at the same time, or a little earlier, in Virginia. The first peopling of Virginia with British settlers appears to have risen principally from the spirit of enterprise and the general love of adventure. But, when the arms of king Charles sustained defeat in the field, Virginia afforded as advantageous a retreat for the cavaliers, as New England has before done for the Puritans; and it prospered accordingly.
Meanwhile the victory of the republicans was but temporary; the wheel turned round; and Charles the Second was restored eleven years after the death of his father. Mr. Chalmers says, this was “an age, when all men's minds were inflamed either with the desire of emigration, because they were unhappy in England, or with an anxiety to acquire distant territory, because their sovereign was profuse of what cost him nothingm .” And he adds elsewhere, “As numbers during the reign of Charles II. suffered more from what they dreaded than from what they felt, they naturally deserted a land where they were miserable, in order to enjoy that freedom and property which were now offered them as the price of their change of habitationn .” I have the misfortune to differ from Mr. Chalmers in two of the sentiments conveyed in this last sentence: first, I would say that where people “are miserable,” it cannot fairly be said that they have nothing to complain of in point of “feeling;” and secondly, I cannot admit, that under the act of uniformity, the conventicle act, and the five-mile act, directed against a party, which had lately controled the state, and more recently had put the crown on the head of the sovereign, that party did not sustain grievances at least as substantial, as those experienced by the Puritans in the reign of the father. Be this however as it will, my subject is no otherwise concerned than with the fact, that “all men's minds were at this time inflamed with the desire of emigration.”
Another memorable colony which gives lustre to the annals of Charles the Second, was led forth by William Penn, and founded the walls of the city of Philadelphia. This colony consisted almost entirely of Quakers, a sect, that in its origin was treated more contumeliously than almost any other upon record. Its founder was, “in prisons oft, in hunger and nakedness, whipped from tithing to tithing,” and repeatedly drummed out of the cities and market-towns he thought proper to visit. At length a generous individual rose out of their own body, who found means to lead forth this despised people into the distant wilds of America, there to endow them with the rights of men, to enable them to worship God as seemed meet to their own consciences, to respect themselves and be respected, and so founded a tribe and an establishment of men, the simplicity of whose manners, and the sobriety of whose proceedings have been the wonder of the world. A certain number of these sectaries having sailed before, Penn himself embarked with two thousand adventurers in the year 1682. He immediately chose the site, and laid the foundation of his capital city; and he “enjoyed the satisfaction of having completed the settlement of six-and-twenty sail of people to content, within the space of one yearo .” Speedily “it became a gainful branch of commerce from the West of England, to carry passengers to Pennsylvania, because the spirit of emigration pervaded a dissatisfied peoplep .” Accordingly, the first assembly of the legislature of this colony, “consisting of seventy-two delegates from the six counties into which Penn had divided it,” took place in the December of the very year, in which their great legislator first set his foot upon the Transatlantic shoreq .
Such was the colonisation, from England only, in the course of the seventeenth century. I possess no such accounts of the emigration from Scotland and Ireland: but the much greater convulsions and calamities with which those parts of the British dominions were visited, leave me no room to doubt of its extent. The unhappy and beautiful country of Ireland has at all times been the victim of English ascendancy, and of the unsparing rigour of English despotism. The barbarism and ignorance in which we plunged our sister island, were the causes why she did not keep pace with us in receiving the light of the Reformation; and the difference of religious creed which sprung out of this, afforded a new and abundant defence for all the severities and all the tyranny which the governing country exercised towards contumacious Papists. Whoever calls to mind the ferocious manner in which the Irish rebellion, and as it has sometimes been called the Irish massacre, broke out in 1641, and the sanguinary proceedings employed by Cromwel and Ireton in suppressing it, will be at no loss for an idea of the convulsions that shook that devoted country. Again, in the close of that very century, Ireland became the scene of new devastations. James the Second made his last stand in the plains of Ireland, and such was the system of the prince who ravished from him his crown, that the Revolution under king William is remembered with a horror and detestation by her natives, equal to the love and veneration with which it is contemplated by the friends of freedom in England.
From Ireland let us turn to Scotland. Charles the First found presbytery established as the national system of church-government there, and he was persuaded by Laud and others, to set out upon an adventure to establish episcopacy and a liturgy in all their glory in his native kingdom. The contention lasted for years, and served as the first step in that memorable civil war, which ended by depriving the king of his head. After an interval came the Restoration of Charles the Second: and this event served as a signal, bringing on the Scots, who had been foolish enough ten years before to fight for this prince in the battle of Worcester, and so to lay themselves bare to the vengeance of Cromwel, one of the most atrocious specimens of misgovernment in the history of the world. The act of uniformity, the conventicle act, and the five-mile act, under which the presbyterians and dissenters of England groaned, were but as the little finger of tyranny, compared with what was perpetrated beyond the Tweed. The names of the duke of Lauderdale and others stand upon record, as hardly to be matched but with the Caligulas and Neros of Roman story.
The reign of king William, which was a blessing to England, was scarcely less calamitous to some of the Scottish tribes, than it proved to the Irish.
The year 1685 witnessed the revocation of the edict of Nantes, under the auspices of which the Protestants of France had possessed the comforts of toleration for nearly a century. It is well known to what a degree that measure depopulated France of multitudes of her most useful and industrious citizens, and not a few of these went over and settled themselves in the countries now bearing the name of the United States of North America.
The German settlements of persecuted Protestants, or otherwise, have been by no means inconsiderable.
I will conclude this chapter with extracting a short passage enumerating the various sets of adventurers, who originally constituted the population of this country.
“New England was settled altogether by Englishmen, except an Irish colony in the hilly part of one county of Massachusets, and a few Scottish and Irish settlements in New Hampshire. With these limitations, the New England population is at this hour entirely of English origin. The same source also supplies a great majority of the people in the middle, and a still larger portion in the southern states. The Germans make about a fourth of the population of Pennsylvania, and a part of the inhabitants of New York and New Jersey. They are however fast yielding their language, habits and customs to the predominance of the English. The same may be said of the Dutch, settled in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. A few French Protestants fixed themselves at New Rochelle and Staten Island in the state of New York, and at Charles Town in South Carolina. The Irish emigrants are found principally in Pennsylvania and Maryland; and many are scattered over New York, New Jersey, Kentucky, and some other states. Those who are Catholics from the middle and south of Ireland, compose the bulk of the day-labourers in our large cities: the Protestants from the north of Ireland, generally become agriculturists in the interior of the country.
“The Scots, who are for the most part intelligent, industrious, good citizens, have settlements in New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Some Swedes are found in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland: and some Swiss have fixed their abode in the state of Indiana. Some small Welch settlements have been made in Pennsylvania and New Yorkr .”
history of emigration to north america from the year 1700 to the present time.
It is not within the scope of the present treatise, to trace out all the different swarms and hivings of emigration, by means of which the United States have been raised to their present populousness. I will therefore pass on without further circumlocution, to what I find on the subject in Dr. Johnson's Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. The Journey was performed in the year 1773.
This celebrated traveller appears to labour under a want of words to express what he saw and what he learned in this respect in his Scottish Tour. He talks of the “fever of emigration,” the “epidemical fury of emigration.” He speaks of “the general dissatisfaction, which was at that time driving the Highlanders into the other hemisphere:” and mentions vessels, which “lay waiting to dispeople some of the Western Islands, by carrying the natives away to America.”
“Whether the mischiefs of emigration,” says he, “were immediately perceived, may be justly questioned. They who went first, were probably such as could best be spared; but the accounts sent by the earliest adventurers, whether true or false, inclined many to follow them; and whole neighbourhoods formed parties for removal; so that departure from their native country is no longer exile. He that goes thus accompanied, carries with him all that makes life pleasant. He sits down in a better climate, surrounded by his kindred and his friends: they carry with them their language, their opinions, their popular songs, and hereditary merriment: they change nothing but the place of their abode; and of that change they perceive the benefit.”
“The numbers which have already gone, though like other numbers they may be magnified, are very great, and such as if they had gone together, and agreed upon any certain settlement, might have founded an independent government in the depths of the western continent. Nor are they only the lowest and most indigent; many men of considerable wealth have taken with them their train of labourers and dependents; and if they continue the feudal scheme of polity, may establish new clans in the other hemisphere.”
In former times “those who left the country were for the most part the idle dependents on overburthened families, or men who had no property; and therefore they carried away only themselves. [The erroneousness of this idea has been seen in the preceding Chapter]. In the present eagerness of emigration, families, and almost communities, go away together. Those who were considered as prosperous and wealthy, sell their stock and carry away the money, Once none went away but the useless and the poor; in some parts there is now reason to fear, that none will stay but those who are too poor to remove themselves, and too useless to be removed at the cost of others.”
The reader is aware that the scenes here described were the result of the great revolution in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, which followed upon the defeat of the partisans of the House of Stuart in 1745.
I will add to the testimony of Dr. Johnson, a passage from a recent author, well known for his faithful and masterly delineations of the manners of Scotland, the author of the Tales of My Landlord.
“Serjeant Macalpin had seen hard service in various quarters of the world, and was reckoned one of the most tried and trusty men of the Scottish Train. Having lost his right arm in a peninsular campaign, he retired, with an allowance from Chelsea, and a small income, accruing from prize-money and savings, in the design to set himself down in the wild Highland glen, where, when a boy, he had been accustomed to herd black cattle and goats. To his recollection, this sequestered spot was unparalleled in beauty by the richest scenes he had visited in his wanderings. He came; he revisited the loved scene: it was but a sterile glen, surrounded with rude crags, and traversed by a northern torrent. This was not the worst. The fires had been quenched upon thirty hearths: of the cottage of his fathers he could distinguish but a few rude stones: the language was almost extinguished: the ancient race from which he boasted his descent, had found a refuge beyond the Atlantic. One southland farmer, three grey, plaided shepherds, and six dogs, now tenanted the whole glen, which in his youth had maintained in content, if not in competence, upwards of two hundred inhabitantsa .”
Finally, the American war in 1775, and the Declaration of Independence, changed the scene in the Western World, and gave a new and powerful impulse to the tide of emigration. Hitherto it had been a fashion with many to regard the American colonies with a sort of scorn. Our courts of justice had been accustomed to sentence such as were found guilty of offences, in expiation of which it was not thought proper to inflict capital punishment, to be transported to the plantations. Forgetting therefore the way in which these colonies were first settled, by men of generous enterprise, by conscientious men flying from religious persecution and political oppression, forgetting the virtues of lord Baltimore, Penn, and sir Henry Vane, and the meditated purposes of Hampden and his illustrious compeers, it was not uncommon to hear these settlements opprobriously called a land of convicts. This reproach was for ever obliterated by the Declaration of Independence, and the achievements by which that Declaration was rendered effectual. It was speedily seen that this quarter of the world was henceforth to be regarded as the asylum of freedom of thought and political liberty. Almost every human creature has as intuitive feeling of the connection between true manliness of sentiment and understanding, and republicanism. It was obvious that civilization in the European world was in its decay; and it was uncertain whether any happy convulsion would occur, by means of which we might hope to see it renovated. The United States of America looked, in the eye of the warm-hearted philanthropist, like a phoenix, in which we might hope to see revived all that was most valuable and lovely in ancient or modern history.
One of the most memorable results of the Independence of the United States of North America has been the practical extension of their territory. Before the commencement of the war between Great Britain and her colonies in 1775, the territory actually settled was, with a few exceptions, little more than a strip of land extending along the shores of the Atlantic as far as Florida south, of enormous length indeed, but scarcely more than fifty or a hundred miles in breadth. In consequence of this circumstance, one of the projects of the government here was to burn and destroy all the towns along the sea-coast, by means of which the colonies, considered in their political and social existence, would be in a manner annihilated, and the wretched fugitives would certainly be reduced to accept any terms which Great Britain in her clemency might think proper to prescribe. Now the territory of the United States is computed to contain six hundred and forty millions of acresb ; and over the whole of this vast surface the population is gradually spreading itself. Formerly the planters cautiously dwelt near to each other and to the succour of the governments, through fear of the inroads of the savage Indians: now that mischief is at an end. At the commencement of their Independence they counted thirteen states: the tables of the last census are distributed under twenty-six heads of territory. The consequence of all this is, that every emigrant, possessing a moderate sum of money, is immediately allured by the acquisition of hundreds and thousands of acres, to become a citizen.
Influenced by these considerations, multitudes no doubt from all parts of Europe shipped themselves for the territories of the United States, between the period of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and the breaking out of the French Revolution in 1789. But this last was the event, that, if we trace its consequences through all their ramifications, may emphatically be said to have broken down the dykes which held in the population of Europe, and poured out the streams of its real or imaginary superfluity, to fructify the immeasurable plains of the Western World. All this I shall pass over in a summary manner. If I were to do otherwise, I must write the history of the convulsions of Europe for the last thirty years, and exhibit the essence of all the books of travels to North America which have been published within that period.
The commencement of the French Revolution was the commencement of a reign of terror. The whole nobility of the country, with a few exceptions, withdrew from their native soil: and the nobility of France was out of all proportion to ours, since every son of a noble father there became distinguished by a title. Many fied, from abhorrence of the intemperate spirit of innovation to which they saw all their ancient institutions a prey; and many more, because they could scarcely hope for safety in staying at home. All financiers and farmers-general, all administrators and collectors of the revenue, the whole numerous train that had been more or less connected with the court, found cause of reasonable alarm. Every one who had at that period arrived at years of discretion, can remember how the streets of London suddenly became crowded with French emigrants; and many of these emigrants found their way to North America.
There was enough of persecution and ill blood in France from the very commencement of the Revolution. But affairs changed inexpressibly for the worse, when the different sovereigns of Europe combined for the suppression of Gallic liberty, and the duke of Brunswick issued his proclamation, worthy to be remembered with eternal execration, in which he threatened, in the name of the allied sovereigns, to level Paris to the ground, and not to leave in her one stone resting upon another. This was the signal for the massacres of September 1792. This roused to desperation and frenzy every man in France (the partisans of despotism only excepted), who had any attachment to the independence of his natal soil.
One of the effects of the spirit thus roused was, that the duke of Brunswick was driven back with disgrace, that Flanders was conquered, and that in the following year the heads of the king and queen fell upon the scaffold.
But there was no end to the convulsions of that unhappy country. No sooner was the cause of liberty triumphant, than her friends burned with animosity against each other, and republicans and monarchists indiscriminately bowed their heads to the public executioner.
Nor were the disorders that rose out of this memorable event confined to France. Every kingdom in Europe, in any way neighbouring to the scene, was convulsed by the spirit of general liberty, which every way propagated itself from France as a centre; and, as has been already said, no country can suffer internal commotions, without one of the most natural results shewing itself in a spirit of emigration. To the war of France for her independence, succeeded the counteraction, in a series of expeditions on the part of that power, for the subjugation of Europe. The sequel brought forward the great conqueror and spoiler of modern times, Napoleon Bonaparte. He conquered Italy; he conquered Germany; he conquered Spain; he conquered Poland; he proceeded far towards the conquest of Russia. He menaced England. The ancient republics of Europe, Holland, Switzerland, Venice, and Genoa, were prostrate at his feet.
One of the results of the French Revolution was the Irish Rebellion in 1798; and it is well known how the soil of the United States has fattened on the miseries of Ireland.
Another of these results was the war of Great Britain against the United States in 1812. I understand that the soldiers we sent out in that war deserted in almost entire regiments, and became peaceable citizens of the republic.
RETROSPECT OF THE HISTORY OF POPULATION
|from 1610 to 1749, will be —||6973|
|from 1749 to 1790—||70,325|
|from 1790 to 1810—||165,527.|
We should certainly proceed very idly in our examination of this question, if we did not admit that there is considerable difficulty. It was this difficulty that gave birth to the vain boasts of Dr. Franklin and Dr. Styles, and to the atrocious and heart-appalling theories of Mr. Malthus.
We have no choice in the solution of this question, but either to refer it to an inherent, rapid and incessant power in the human species to multiply its numbers, or to emigration. It has been the purpose of all that has gone before in this Treatise, and particularly of the Second and Third Books, to prove that the former of these is impossible.
The substantial part of the solution must therefore be from emigration. The present population of the North American continent, with one exception which will presently be mentioned, must have arisen from a direct transportation of the inhabitants of the Old World to the New.
In one point of view there is nothing wonderful in this. Let us take the present population of the United States at ten millions. What are ten millions of human creatures to the population of Europe? According to the latest geographers Europe is computed to contain 153,000,000 souls. Ten millions of these therefore, one would naturally say, might be taken away, and never be missed. But in some parts of Europe, at least, they are missed.
The difficulty therefore is not in supposing that ten millions of human beings, born in Europe, should have spent the middle or concluding part of their lives in the tract of country which now constitutes the territory of the United States. It lies merely in the astounding conception of their passage over; and the wonderful in this is rather increased, than otherwise, by the putting it in the form of an annual supply: such being the constitution of the human mind, that we understand better, and reason more clearly, upon any subject connected with numbers, when those numbers have been so reduced that we can compass and wield them. As far as the population of the United States has grown from emigration merely, it is necessary, with one limitation which I shall presently mention, that 165,000 emigrants, upon an average, should have passed over annually from Europe, during the twenty years which elapsed between 1790 and 1810d .
The limitation I allude to lies in this. The majority of the emigrants that pass over from Europe to North America may be supposed to be in the flower of their life. Now every such emigrant is equal to two human beings, taken indiscriminately among the population, or rather among the rising generation, of an old established country. For example, we have found that, in four children born into the world, we have no right to count upon more than one female who, by child-bearing, can contribute to keep up or increase the numbers of mankind in the next generation. But, of emigrants withdrawing themselves to America, as we have been informed they usually withdraw themselves in families, we have a right, if they go in the flower of their lives, out of every four, to count upon two females who, by child-bearing, may contribute to the future population of the country. Those who pass over in the flower of their lives, have already surmounted the dangers of childhood and early life, and the females among them may immediately be counted in the roll of those effective members of the community for the purpose here treated of, who, and who alone, (exclusively of such a number of males as may be necessary to give effect to the procreative principle in them) are of value in keeping up the internal and proper population of a country. Perhaps, in consideration of this exception, we may reduce the number of emigrants necessary, upon the principles of this treatise, to account for the reported increase of population in the United States for twenty years, from 1790 to 1810, from one hundred and sixty-five thousand annually, to eighty or ninety thousand.
Emigrants for the most part pass away silently from their native shores, and make no noise, except perhaps among their own immediate neighbourhood. Even so much as this does not happen, in so far as they emigrate from among the settled inhabitants of great towns and cities.
In this last case the process is something like what Dr. Donne describes of the death of the virtuous man,
While some of his sad friends doe say,
The breath goes now; and some say, No.
It may be considered at this time as something like an admitted principle, that the population of great cities cannot be kept up without continual supplies from the rural parts of the state. These again may be supposed to pass off by emigration to foreign countries, and their places a second and a third time to be filled by supplies from the rural inhabitants, while the whole is no more adverted to, than the insensible transpiration in the human body, by means of which principally it has been supposed that perhaps not a particle of the frame remains the same after a lapse of twenty years.
One way of considering the subject, so far as this island is concerned, is by comparing the gross estimate of our merchant-ships at different periods. We are told that, between the years 1630 and 1640, twenty-one thousand two hundred British subjects were computed to have passed over to New England only. I have not before me an account of the tonnage of the merchant-ships of Great Britain at that period. But the following is an extract from Anderson's History of Commerce, as to the annual amount of merchant-ships from the Restoration.
Anderson's account ends with the year 1780. But, as our concern is particularly with the shipping of a later period, I have obtained a supplement in relation to more recent years, which I have no doubt may be relied on as correcte
The simple deduction by the rule of three from the two extremes of this statement is, that if 142,900 tons yielded an emigration to America to the annual amount of 2000 persons, 3,072,409 tons in the year 1818, computing at the same rate, will yield an annual emigration, from Great Britain only, of 43,000 persons. It may be doubted however, whether the amount of shipping in the merchant service was so great between the years 1630 and 1640, as an the years 1663 and 1669, which Anderson has chosen. The victories of the Commonwealth of England over the Dutch, and the Act of Navigation, had occurred between. In that case, as 2000 settlers were conveyed to North America by a state whose annual shipping was much under 142,000 tons, a greater number of emigrants in proportion than 43,000 may be conceived to have been conveyed from a state whose annual shipping exceeded three millions of tons. I doubt also whether the impulse to emigrate, or, as Dr. Johnson calls it, “the fever of emigration,” to the continent of North America, has not been twice as general in our days, as it was in the days of Charles the First. It must be remembered too that Ireland is wholly excluded from this statement. If then we allow only 43,000 annually for the emigration from Great Britain, that from Ireland, together with “the vast tide of emigration which is at present flowing from all parts of Europe to the United States of America,” as I find it expressed by a late writerf , will soon mount up the whole to as great a number, as any hypothesis on the subject can require.
In the investigation of this subject my attention was necessarily called to the encouragement held out by the government of Great Britain to induce the inhabitants of this island, or, what it has lately been fashionable to call, our “surplus population,” to transport themselves to North America. This has been one of the blessings immediately growing out of Mr. Malthus's theory, that, whereas the patriotic sovereigns and rulers of former times, sought to increase the number of their subjects, and deemed it their glory to preside over an industrious and numerous population, our governors have been taught that it is one of their first duties, to reduce the amount of their countrymen, and to render the thin population of this once happy island still thinner and more sparing than they found it.
The first circumstance of this kind that fixed my attention, was the publications of Mr. John Campbel, styling himself government-commissioner and general agent in Scotland for this business. His first manifesto or declaration on the subject is dated Edinburgh, 22 February 1815. I accordingly endeavoured to procure the most authentic information as to the plan and effects of his undertaking; and the account I have received is as follows.
The encouragements held out in the first year were, a grant of land to the settler, a free passage, implements of husbandry, and provisions for the first six months. These were afterwards discontinued, with the exception of the grant of land, on account of the great expence which was found to accrue.
A further inducement to such as might be willing to transport themselves, is thus expressed: “Should any number of families, proceeding from the same part of the United Kingdom, be desirous of settling in the same neighbourhood in Canada, care will be taken to allot them lands as nearly as possible contiguous to each other; and a sufficient portion of land will be appropriated, in the midst of such settlers, for a church, and for the maintenance of a clergyman and a schoolmaster, and a salary of one hundred pounds per annum will be provided to the minister, and fifty pounds per annum to the schoolmaster, for such period as shall afterwards be specified.”
No accurate return could be furnished of the number of settlers, who have availed themselves of the encouragement thus held out to them; but it is supposed, that about five thousand persons went out as settlers to Canada upon this plan in 1815, that an equal or greater number emigrated in 1816, and that their numbers annually have not since diminished. Many also have undoubtedly gone out, without being furnished with letters from the secretary of state, the governors of the two provinces of Upper and Lower Canada having a discretionary power to make grants of land to persons applying for them, not exceeding twelve thousand acres to one person. It appears from a paper just put into my hands, published by the Emigrant Society of Quebec, and dated 11 October, 1819, that “the number of emigrants arriving at that port, since the opening of the navigation for the present season, amounts to upwards of twelve thousand, which probably exceeds two-thirds ot the population of the city itself,” and that the consequence has been a great accumulation of distress.
I have received an official account from Ireland of the number of persons who emigrated from that country to North America in three years, ending 5 January, 1819. The total stands thus:
Number of persons emigrating from Dublin 6645 ——from Ireland generally 35,633 Is there no chance that the persons actually emigrating, should even have exceeded the number officially reported under that head?
The following is an extract of notices, appearing in Niles's Baltimore Weekly Register, a journal of the highest character for authenticity in the United States.
“August 16, 1817.
“Within the last two weeks, ending yesterday morning, we have received accounts of the arrival of twenty-six vessels, at the several ports of the United States, with two thousand five hundred and twelve passengers, viz.
|From Amsterdam, Germans and Swiss—||1896|
|From England, Scotland and Ireland—||281|
|From the same, via Nova Scotia and Newfoundland—||238|
“August 30, 1817.
“Emigration. The two weeks ending yesterday gave us accounts of the arrival of 21 vessels, with emigrants from Europe, viz.
|From England, Ireland, and Scotland—||557|
|From Holland, Germans and Swiss—||365|
“Of these one hundred and seventy-one reached the United States via Halifax, though great inducements are held out to settlers there. As for instance, a Dutch ship which arrived at Philadelphia, put into that port for provisions, when the government offered to the passengers 10,000 acres of land, gratis, in fee simple, and farming utensils, if they would stay there; but they refused it. Many settlers, as they are called, arrive in Canada, from whence hundreds of them pass up the river, &c. and cross into New York and Ohio. It seems to be discovered, that it is more convenient to reach our country through the British colonies, than to come on direct. Facilities are afforded for the former, which are denied to the latter.”
“October 25, 1817.
“Emigration. The British ship, Mary Ann, has arrived at Boston in 50 days from London, with two hundred and four passengers. The Mary Ann was bound to St. John (N. B.e ), but the passengers not wishing to go there rose upon the crew, and brought the vessel into Boston.”
“September 12, 1818.
“The current of emigration from the British dominions to the territory of the United States, never was so strong as it is now. For the week ending 31 August, 2150 passengers, nearly the whole of whom were emigrants from Europe, arrived at the single port of New York; and for the subsequent week we kept an account of the passengers reported in the newspapers (which is far short of the number that arrived) and found them to amount to nearly 3000, for five or six principal ports,—and the aggregate may be fairly estimated at 6000 for the two weeks preceding the sixth of September. Of the six thousand, about 4000 were from England, 1000 from Ireland, and the rest from Scotland, Holland and France; about 100 only from the latter.”
The Numbers of Niles's Register from which the above extracts are taken, are by no means a regular series; and for the use of these detached sheets I am indebted to the liberality of an American gentleman of high character in this country.
In Cobbet's Weekly Register for August 14, 1819, I find, in a letter by that gentleman, dated Long Island, in the state of New York, the following assertion: “Within the last twelve months upwards of a hundred and fifty thousand have landed from England to settle here.” Now every one acquainted with Mr. Cobbet's writings must know, though he is an intemperate politician, and though his productions abound with the most violent and unqualified invectives, yet that he is a hard-headed man, entirely competent to observe bare facts and to report numbers, and that he has not perhaps been detected in misrepresentations of that sort.
I am aware that many of the statements I have last given belong to a period subsequent to the American Census of 1810: but they will at least serve strikingly to illustrate the fact, of the vast number of emigrants from Europe that may be conveyed across the Atlantic, while at the same time a matter of such mighty importance, whether upon Mr. Malthus's hypothesis, or upon the ideas of national policy universally received till the year 1800, attracts a very inconsiderable share of public attention.
A circumstance worthy to be mentioned in this place is the great number of voluntary associations, best known by the name of Emigrant Societies, which are found to exist in all the southern and middle states of the American Union. The object of these associations is two-fold, to assist the destitute emigrant when he arrives, and, by means of authorised agents, and certain fugitive publications of the most inticing and alluring contents, to induce him to leave his native home. In Philadelphia I find these associations under the following appellations; the Society for the Aid and Protection of Irish Emigrants, the St. Patrick's Society, the Hibernian Society, the St. Andrew's Society, the Scot's Thistle Society, the Welsh Society, the St. George's Society, the French Benevolent Society, and the German Societyf . In New York there is an association of this sort, instituted by Thomas Addis Emmet, called the Shamrock. This society, about two years ago, presented a petition to Congress, praying that a right of preemption in a certain portion of the Illinois territory might be granted to emigrants of the Irish nation, which petition was rejected, on the ground that it was not the policy of the United States to separate their new citizens by districts and boundaries, but rather to blend them into one common mass. This association is accustomed, on two solemn days of the year, the day of their tutelary saint, and the anniversary of the Declaration of American Independence, to parade the streets of New York, with colours flying, and to the sound of instrumental music, in commemoration of the happy period, when they left their native land, and resorted to the hospitable shores of the New World.
The American Congress, about the same time that they refused the prayer of the Shamrock Society, voted a special privilege to emigrants of the French nation, permitting them to obtain property in a certain district at a very low price, upon condition of their cultivating the vine and the olive.
There is an extreme fallacy in Mr. Malthus's language, when he talks, in his letter to me of October 1818, speaking of the population of the United States, of “foreign immigration.” In the United States there is no idea, correspondent to the term, “a foreigner.” This republic is properly colluvies omnium gentium. No native of any part of Europe will fail in one respect to find himself at home, the moment he has set his foot on the shores of North America; particularly the inhabitants of the British isles, who, according to Mr. Niles's collections, land there at the rate of two or three thousand per week. The term “foreign” in this case conveys to the mind a fallacious idea; since we are accustomed to see what Mr. Malthus calls “foreign immigrants” constituting a very trivial portion of the population of an old country. The American Congress in reality has done wisely in refusing to separate their new citizens by districts and boundaries, in cases where particular countries have sent out to them a great number of settlers, and chusing rather to blend them into one common mass; since, if they were allowed by such separation fully to keep alive their original prejudices, we might expect to see them one day overpowering the Creoles, or proper descendants of the old settlers, just as in some countries we read of slaves, that have become so numerous as to be able to put down and subjugate their masters.
The phrase, with which Mr. Malthus introduces his subject, and in the force of which lies the whole foundation of his theories, in the ninth page of his first volume, that “the increase of population in the United States of North America has been repeatedly ascertained to be from procreation only,” is the most dark, cabalistical and unmeaning, that was ever inserted in any work pretending to reasoning. It may challenge any dogma in Jacob Behmen himself. Mr. Malthus tells us in one place that he expects his work to last many thousand years. [“As it is probable, if the world were to last for any number of thousand years, systems of equality would be among those errors, which will never cease to return at certain intervals, I really think there should be somewhere on record an answer to such systems founded on the Principle of Populationg ”]. But Mr. Malthus should be told that his work is not constructed on the plan of a Κτημα ες αμι
The inference from what is stated in this chapter seems clearly to be, that the whole increase of the population of the United States may be accounted for, without supposing with Dr. Franklin, that, where there is one marriage in Europe, in America there are two, or crediting with him and Mr. Malthus, that, from the superior fruitfulness of the marriagebed in the United States, the human species doubles its numbers in twenty or five-and-twenty years, while the population of Europe is at stand.
Was ever so stupendous and calamitous a fabric erected upon so slender foundations?
OF THE AMOUNT OF BIRTHS IN THE UNITED
It has already appeared, I trust, to the satisfaction of every reader, that the only increase of the number of human beings in any community by procreation, must be by increasing the proportion of births to a marriage, or, more strictly speaking, to the amount of women capable of child-bearing in that community.
This is the essence of the question which the Essay on Population professes to treat. If Mr. Malthus, or any writer less presumptuous than Mr. Malthus, should hereafter undertake to deliver any thing sound and substantial on the subject, to this point it is necessary he should direct his investigation.
It should seem therefore as if the United States afforded us no ground to stand on: I have taken considerable pains to obtain information in this point, but have been unable to procure any thing satisfactory.
The only thing I have seen, that comes to the point in this essential question, is a paper in the third volume of the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society held at Philadelphia, entitled, Observations on the Probabilities of the Duration of Human Life, and the Progress of Population, in the United States of America, by William Barton, Esq, which paper was read in a meeting of the society, on the eighteenth of March, 1791.
These Observations are expressly written to support the principle first started by Dr. Franklin, Dr. Ezra Styles, and others, in laud and glory of the land of America.
The testimony of an adversary, if it should turn out to be in favour of the opinion I have delivered, is of double force; and on that account I value the testimony of Mr. Barton. In his paper he has the following remarkable passage.
Having asserted, that “the United States of America possess in a superior degree an inherent, radical and lasting source of national vigour and greatness; since it will be found that in no other part of the world (at least in none of those parts with which we are best acquainted) is the progress of population so rapid as in these States:” he enters into certain calculations; and then proceeds thus:
“From the foregoing statements it may be presumed, that four and a half persons to a house, and the same proportion of births to a marriage, are an allowance quite high enough for some of the healthiest parts of Europe. There is but one instance, in which I have been enabled to obtain the actual proportion of births to marriages in this country. At the first parish in Hingham, in the State of Massachuset, during the course of fifty-four years, there were two thousand two hundred and forty-seven. births, one thousand one hundred and thirteen deaths, and five hundred and twenty-one marriages; which gives the proportion of six and a quarter births to a marriage. Therefore, the proportion of births to marriages in that parish having been taken out of so considerable a number of persons, and for so long a time, inclines me to think it may serve as a pretty just standard for the country-parts of the northern, and perhaps of the middle states.”— It is to be observed that Mr. Barton comes down here from Dr. Franklin's vantage-ground of “eight being the average number of births to an American marriage.”
Having Mr. Barton's numbers however before me, I thought it proper to try the justness of his conclusion by the Rule of Three. And, this being the very essence of the question, I shall here set down the steps of the process entire. Thus
Divide 2247 births, by 521 marriages:
And the result will be 4.312 births to a marriage.—How Mr. Barton came to imagine that six and a quarter was the quotient, instead of four and a fraction somewhat above a quarter, it is impossible for me to divine.
It is particularly to be observed that Mr. Barton's numbers for births, marriages, and deaths, are printed in words at length; so that we may be tolerably certain that no error of the press lurks in the statement.
Now this brings us down at once to something like the European standard. And it is sufficiently remarkable that four and a half births to a marriage, a proportion somewhat greater than what is here brought out for “the first parish in Hingham in the State of Massachusets,” is Mr. Barton's allowance for “the healthiest parts of Europe.”
Mr. Malthus was the first to detect the error in Mr. Barton's statement, though he lets himself down as softly as he can, by calling the true quotient 4½a
Since writing the above, I have had transmitted to me by my valued friend, Mr. Joseph Valence Bevan of Georgia, reports of the marriages and births in Portsmouth, the capital of New Hampshire, for six years, from 1804 to 1809, drawn up and published on the spot by Dr. Lyman Spalding. These are the more important, as they relate to those Northern States of America, upon the increase of population in which by procreation only, Mr. Malthus has thought proper to lay his principal stress. They are as follow.
Now in these reports, if I take the latest year, it will give me something less than 4 1/5 births to a marriage: and, if I add the whole six years together, the proportion will be found to be 441/100 to one.
My friend at the same time transmitted to me a paper of the Return under these heads for the city and suburbs of Philadelphia: but this is only for the one year 1818, and does not distinguish the sexes of the born: the result is, “Marriages (as far as obtained) 792; Baptisms 2221:” yielding a quotient of fewer than three births to a marriage. It is somewhat remarkable that this Return concludes with a memorandum, that “the baptisms of this year were decreased by 282, and the burials increased by 64.”
Thus, the further we enquire into the subject, the more we find the progress of the numbers of mankind by procreation in the United States, conforming itself to the model of Europe. In rural situations, such as Mr. Barton's parish in Hingham, and Dr. Spalding's Portsmouth in New Hampshire, the fruitfulness of marriages appears to be such as we might expect in rural and healthful situations in the Old World. But, when we come to large capitals, such as Philadelphia, the progress of population is reduced; and we are led to conclude of North America, as of Europe, that the number of inhabitants in great towns would not be kept up, without a perpetual influx of new citizens from distant quarters.
If therefore it is true, that the increase of population “by procreation only,” can arise in no other way than that of an increased number of births,, then it is as plain as the operations of arithmetic can make it, that in every instance where the evidence has come to our hands, the fruitfulness of the human species in the United States does in no way materially differ, from what occurs on the subject in many countries of Europe.
OF THE PERIOD AT WHICH MARRIAGES ARE
Dr. franklin, in his Observations concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, &c, where he says, “If in Europe they have but four births to a marriage, we in America may reckon eight,” inserts a slight parenthesis, in which he assigns one solitary reason, to account for this amazing disparity, and to reconcile the mind of the reader to so extraordinary an hypothesis. This may be the case, says he, because “many of the European marriages are late.”
Mr. Malthus in like manner lays great stress upon the question of early marriages, and seems to think that, if “moral restraint,” of the efficacy of which he entertains “very inconsiderable hopes,” could once be brought into action, so as to prevent this evil, the mischiefs to be apprehended from overpopulation might then be prevented, with very little, or perhaps no need of the aid of his established confederates, vice and misery.
It is therefore just that we should bestow some consideration, on the difference that is likely to arise in the peopling of countries from early and from late marriages.
Marriage takes place, in some countries, when the parties are sixteen years of age, or even earlier: we may suppose the marriageable age to be twenty: or we may carry it on, with Mr. Malthus, to the age of twenty-seven or twenty-eighta .
The opinion of Sussmilch on the subject is thus expressedb . “Too early and too late marriages are both of them injurious to population. Experience shews this in animals: as, for. example, among great cattle, the cow which has a calf when too young, never comes to the size and strength which she otherwise would have done.”
Tacitus speaks to the same purpose in his treatise De Moribus Germanorumc . “The young men marry late, by which means their virility is preserved; nor is the female in greater haste to engage in the nuptial tie. They come together with similar vigour, in complete stature, and with well matched force; and thus it happens that the offspring fails not to inherit the robustness of its parents.”
Cæsar, treating of the same Germans, delivers his sentiments in a similar mannerd .
“Those who remain longest without the knowledge of the other sex, bear the greatest praise among them. They believe that this increases their stature, their force, and their muscular energy. To have intercourse with the female before the age of twenty, they regard as in the highest degree disgraceful.”
It seems indeed sufficiently probable that the female of the human species is endued with a certain degree of fecundity: and I believe it will be found in a majority of instances, that the woman who is called upon early to afford that species of nutrition from her frame which the unborn infant requires, sooner grows old, and ceases sooner from the power of child-bearing, than the woman in whom this faculty is not called forth till a later period.
There is another consideration of material consequence, as connected with this question, whether early marriages contribute to forward, and late marriages to retard, the increase of mankind. Dr. Franklin talks of “the frequent lateness of marriages in Europe.” I should be glad to have had the opportunity of asking him, what he meant by “a late marriage?” We should then have seen, whether the difference of the age at which marriage is contracted in Europe and in the United States, had almost any tendency to account for a superior fecundity on the other side of the Atlantic.
It is true that, where a country is in great distress, and the means of subsistence are difficult to be procured, there marriage will often not take place at so early a period, as it might do in countries which are placed in more favourable circumstances. But then there is another point to be considered. The period of marriage usually depends on the male. When a woman is solicited in wedlock, it will very rarely happen that her parents, or the female for herself, will decline the proposal, because she is not yet twenty-eight or thirty years of age. When we talk of a late marriage, in nineteen instances out of twenty we refer exclusively to the age of the husband. When an old man desires to marry, how often does it occur that he insists upon a wife as old as himself? No: whatever be the age of the bridegroom, he is almost sure to look out for a young bride; and then, unless he be indeed stricken in years, the chance of offspring is nearly the same, as if he had been himself as young as the woman he leads to the altar.
diseases in the territory of the united states.
the two preceding Chapters are to be considered as an application of the principles of my Second Book, respecting the power of increase in the numbers of the human species, to the particular case of the United States. I will proceed in this Chapter to apply the principles of my Third Book to the same subject, in the form of a review of the causes by which the amount of the numbers of the human species is reduced or restrained. If it shall appear that the United States possess scarcely any advantage in this respect over the established kingdoms of Europe, this will add great accession to the force by which Mr. Malthus's theory is to be taken away and destroyed.
There are only two ways in which the population of any country can be increased from procreation: first, by a greater number of births; or secondly, if of those who are born a smaller number are prematurely cut off by disease or otherwise. Now, I say, a greater number of children are not born to a marriage in the United States than in Europe: this has been the topic of the two preceding Chapters. To which I here add, that a smaller number are not prematurely cut off, by disease or otherwise, in the United States than in Europe: this is the proposition I seek to establish in the present Chapter.
The first disease I will mention is Consumption. Mr. Warden, late consul for the United States at Paris, in his Statistical Account of that republic, published in 1819a , says, “At Portsmouth in New Hampshire, one fifth of the cases in the bill of mortality for 1801 is of this descriptionb . In the city of New York the cases of consumption of the lungs occupy nearly one fourth of the tables of diseases for the year 1802; and nearly one fifth in the years 1803, 1804 and 1805. In the year 1816 the number of consumptive cases was 678, exceeding by 60 what took place in 1815.”
The second disease I will mention is Dysentery, ordinarily known in the United States by the name of the Summer Complaint. This disease, according to Mr. Wardenc , “is seldom fatal.” But, according to my information, it is much otherwise. A very respectable lady, who has returned to England after seventeen years' residence in Pennsylvania, assures me, that a great proportion of the children in that state are carried off by it under three years of age, and that upon her return to Great Britain it was matter of surprise to her, to see, as no uncommon thing, families with seven or eight children. Another lady, a native of Boston, and wife of a gentleman filling an official situation, added to this, that it was not unfrequent in her part of the Union, for two or three children in a family to be taken off at once with this complaint.
A further evidence of the unhealthiness of the climate of the United States, of which much has been heard, is the Premature Decay of Teeth. Volney, in his View of the Climate and Soil of the United Statesd remarks, “Of a hundred persons under thirty, it may be affirmed you will scarcely find ten entirely unaffected in this respect. It is particularly lamentable to observe almost generally, that handsome young women, from the age of fifteen or twenty, have their teeth disfigured with black spots, and frequently great part of them gone.”The lady from Pennsylvania whom I mentioned above, stated to me, that the citizens of that state, male and female, were generally found to decline from their youth and strength at twenty-five or thirty years of age. She further expressed herself as having no doubt that the continuity of population from their own proper sources was less full there than in England: for which she assigned four reasons; first, that the mothers suckle their children longer; secondly, that in Pennsylvania there are few old people; thirdly, that more children die; and lastly, as above observed, that a large family of children is a rare phenomenon there. She added, that the native Americans, both male and female, are easily distinguished by the sallowness of their complexions; and she further mentioned as a corroboration of her idea, that the quakers, the original founders of Philadelphia, now constitute very considerably less than one fourth of the population of that city, that there are no new colonists of that sect, and that the obvious consequence has followed, that notoriously the number of quakers in that part of the United States do not increase.
I will say little on the subject of the Yellow Fever, which, according to Volney, “grows more and more common in the United States,” and which is known, in point of devastation, and the rapidity of its progress, only to fall short of the plague.
It is indeed notorious, that a new settled country is always an unhealthy one. North America abounds with swamps. Mr. Warden undertakes to assign “reasons why the country of the United States has been generally considered as unhealthy.” He remarks, that “in Carolina the country was found to be more sickly, in every situation where the surface was recently broken up for agricultural purposes.” Volney observes, “Intermittent autumnal fevers and agues prevail in the United States to a degree of which it would be difficult to form a conception. They are particularly endemic in places recently cleared, in valleys, and on the borders of waters, either running or stagnant. In the autumn of 1796, in a journey of more than seven hundred miles, I will venture to say that I did not find twenty houses free from these diseases. In a journey of two hundred and fifty miles from Cincinnati to Fort Detroit, in a company of twenty-five persons, we did not encamp one night, without at least one of the party being seized with an intermittent fever. When we arrived at Detroit, there were only three of our company in health. At Grenville, the head-quarters of the army that had just conquered the country, of three hundred and seventy persons or thereabouts, three hundred had the fever. These attacks are not immediately fatal, but they undermine the constitution, and gradually shorten life. Other travellers have observed before me, that in South Carolina for instance, a person is as old at fifty, as in Europe at sixty-five or seventy; and I have heard all the Englishmen with whom I was acquainted in the United States, say that their friends, who had been settled a few years in the southern or even the central States, appeared to them to have grown as old again, as they would have done in England or Scotland.”
I conclude this chapter with asking, What probability is there, that a people, circumstanced as has here been described, should have afforded a phenomenon, as to the rapid multiplication of the species from their own proper resources only, which never occurred in any other country or age of the world? In reality it seems perfectly obvious that, at least in the middle and the southern States, the population could not have maintained its stand from one generation to another, without a perpetual succession of supplies from abroad.
Mr. Malthus indeed is willing to confine his imaginary doubling of the population by procreation only, to “the Northern States.” But this is another of the numerous fallacies that start upon us from every side in the examination of this subject. The doubling, according to the Census, extends over the whole Union. If the New England States of themselves furnish this universal doubling, and spread forth their colonies incessantly to the west and the south, while the southern and middle states remain in a neutrality in this respect, then Mr. Malthus has put down his increase of population there, and consequently the principle of increase inherent in human nature, vastly shortly of the truth: and I should think that he might with sufficient modesty have ventured, instead of a doubling, to hare affirmed, that, “in the Northern States the population has been found to quadruple itself, and that from procreation only, every twenty-five years.”
reports of the population of the united states analysed and examined.
I now come to the principal point in my whole subject. It was America, that by the inaccurate representations that were made of her population, gave occasion to Mr. Malthus's theory of the geometrical ratio. The United States of America have since exerted a laudable and enlightened diligence in collecting an accurate account of their population. Mr. Malthus indeed, in the letter with which he favoured me of the date of October 25, 1818, appeals to “the three regular censuses of 1790, 1800, and 1810,” as “more than confirming” his statement respecting the manner in which the population of that country has increased. Upon that point I join issue with him. I am ready to refer the whole question to the figures that are given in the statements of the American Census.
In Mr. Booth's Dissertation on the Ratios of Increase in Population and in the Means of Subsistence, the reader will find many important remarks on the Tables of the Census, shewing, from the numbers of the population of that country under the heads of the different ages of human life, compared with the population of Sweden, that the United States cannot be a country increasing its inhabitants in regular series through the power of procreationa . I shall, confine myself in what I have here to offer, to a single, but a very conclusive particular in the case.
In this mutual appeal therefore we are of course to take it for granted on both sides, that the reports of the American Census are accurate.
Let us first then recollect what is the question we have to examine. If the publication of the Census is accurate, we are inevitably agreed that the population of the United States, as it was found in the year 1810, amounted to 7,239,903 persons. That is not the question.
I will also admit, if Mr. Malthus pleases, (though I look upon the Census of 1790, which exhibits no distinction of ages or classes, with a certain degree of suspicion) that the population of the United States in that year amounted to no more than 3,929,326, affording an increase in twenty years of 3,310,577 persons. That is not the question.
The number of the inhabitants of the United States, whatever it amounts to, proves nothing.
The rapid increase of that number, whatever be the measure of that rapidity, proves nothing.
The question between us is the cause of that increase. Mr. Malthus says, that it “has repeatedly been ascertained to be from procreation only.” I say, the cause is emigration.
Now fortunately the contents of the reports of the American Census seem to set that question for ever at rest. Certainly, if those reports may be depended on as accurate, I see no way of escaping from the conclusion I draw from them.
Wherever there is an increase of mankind from procreation, the number of the born must be proportional to that increase.
Wherever there is an increase of mankind “from procreation only,” to such a degree as “to double the population in less than twenty-five years,” the proportion of the number of the born must be correspondently great, The number of the born will always be a symbol denoting that increase: the two facts will necessarily harmonise with each other.
Dr. Franklin says, that, in order to effect a doubling of numbers by procreation every twenty years, it is necessary that we should “reckon eight births to a marriage:” and I believe he is right.
I have shewn in the Sixth Chapter of the First Book, treating of China, that, wherever “marriage is greatly encouraged,” there must be as many children born, as in those countries where the population is supposed “to double itself, for one hundred and fifty years successively, every twenty or twenty-five years.” All the difference is, that in countries, like China, where the population is at stand, three fourths of the born must be murdered, destroyed by vice and misery, or cut off by some of those “various causes, which, some sooner, and some later, contribute to shorten the natural duration of human life:” while, in the countries where the geometrical ratio operates with full effect, the utmost care is taken of, and the utmost success attends upon, the rearing of children. To keep up the population of a country we must reckon upon four births to a marriage; to double the population we must reckon upon eight. Where there are four births to a marriage, the number of births must double the number of procreants: where there are eight, it must quadruple it. Thus, as I illustrated in the case of China, if a country has three hundred millions of inhabitants, we may fairly reckon upon half the population, or one hundred and fifty millions, as adults. These adults must procreate the double of their own number, or three hundred millions of children: otherwise the population would decline. But, if they are capable of doubling their number every twenty or twenty-five years, they must then procreate six hundred millions of children.
The authors of the American Census for 1800 and 1810 have fortunately classed the “free white inhabitants” according to their ages, and thus enabled us to ascertain the number of adults and the number of children. This is the most important piece of information relatively to our subject, that can be conceived. According to the Census of 1810, the “free white inhabitants under sixteen years of age” throughout the Union amount to 2,933,211, and the “free white inhabitants above sixteen years of age,” to 2,928,882, placing those under and above sixteen years of age as nearly as possible on an equality. Hence it inevitably follows, that throughout the Union the population, so far as depends on procreation, is at a stand, and that there are not on an average more than four births to every female capable of child-bearing. This is altogether as satisfactory, as if we had a table of births and marriages for every State of the Union, as particular as Sussmilch's Tables for the German dominions of the king of Prussia. It may be considered as equivalent to a general reduction and summary that should be made of the results of such tables when they had once been constructed: and, as being made on a larger scale, it may seem to be less liable to error.
I have more than once complained of the pictureless generalities of Mr. Malthus's theories. If it were not for this quality, it is impossible that they should have obtained credence for a moment. If it were true, that the population of the United States had “been found to double itself, for above a century and a half successively, in less than twenty-five years;” and that this had been “repeatedly ascertained to be from procreation only;” it is absolutely certain that in that country the children would outnumber the grown persons two or three times over. It would have been a spectacle to persons from other parts of the world of the most impressive nature. The roads and the streets would have seemed covered with children. It would have appeared a nation of children. I should have expected that, as I have read respecting some schools where the pupils have been extremely numerous, the children would have risen in rebellion, and overpowered their elders, would have erected a parliament and legislature of their own.
There is nothing more deceitful than the eye of man, when by its aid only we endeavour to form an estimate of numbers. A traveller in New England, or even a native, would go into one family and another, and see six, eight, ten or twelve children, all brothers and sisters, and, especially if he had been previously initiated in the mysteries of Mr. Malthus's book, would become perfectly satisfied of the actual operation of the geometrical ratio. The Census sets all this at rest for ever. It assures us from the highest authority, that there are no more children in the United States than there are grown persons. Of consequence, supposing all to many agreeably to Dr. Franklin's hypothesis, the average number of births to a marriage is remarkably small: four must be an ample allowance. I own, for myself, I felt some scepticism as to the European account of four births to a marriage; I thought that still there might be some latent error: but, with respect to the United States, I do not see how we can resist the evidence before us; four births to a marriage must be the utmost that occurs in that country.
[a]See above, p. 147.
[a]Robertson, History of America, Book X.
[d]Hume, Chap. LII. Chalmers, Annals of the United Colonies, p. 160.
[e]Robertson, ubi supra.
[f]Robertson, ubi supra.
[g]Chalmers, p. 207.
[i]Chalmers, p. 208
[k]Chalmers, p. 226.
[l]Chalmers, p. 363.
[o]Chalmers, p. 644.
[q]Chalmers, p. 645.
[r]Bristed, America and her Resources, Chapter VII.
[a]Tales of my Landlord: First Series; Old Mortality.
[b]Morse, American Geography.
[a]Page 12. I will indulge myself in only one remark in this place. Mr. Pitkin states the population in 1749 as 1,046,000: Dr. Franklin, another of Mr. Malthus's authorities, in his celebrated paper to which I have so often had occasion to refer, says in 1731, “There are supposed to be now upwards of one million of English souls in North America.” The difference between Dr. Franklin's statement and Mr. Pitkin s is nothing. What authority there is for either I know not. Mr. Pitkin gives a specious appearance of accuracy to his, by putting down a precise number for each of the twelve colonies, seriatim. But he does not tell us from whence he drew his information.
Now, comparing these two estimates, it would follow that, for sixteen years, the population of North America experienced no increase. Nay if we hold the two authors to the words of their respective propositions, we might perhaps conjecture that the population had diminished. Dr. Franklin speaks of the number of “English souls;” while Mr. Pitkin expressly takes in the “whole white population.” What becomes then of Mr. Malthus's assertion, that “in the Northern States of America the population has been found to double itself, for above a century and a half successively, in less than twenty-five years?”
[b]See above, p. 290
[c]P. 293, 4.
[d]It is not unworthy of remark, that the first idea of a doubling in perpetual series with short intervals, was started, when the number of new arrivals would have had nothing astounding in it. It was published by Dr. Franklin in 1731, and by Dr. Styles in 1761. A considerable part of the interval between these two passed, according to Mr. Pitkin, without any increase. See note a.
[e]The following numbers are taken from the records at the Custom House, collated with the Returns annually laid on the Table of the House of Commons.
[f]Westworth New South Wales, Preface.
[f]Morse, Geography; Article, Pennsylvania; Section, Societies, Mellish, Travels, Chapter 24.
[g]Vol II p 271, 3.
[a]Vol. II, p. 151.
[a]Vol. III p. 92
[b]Vol. I, p. 184.
[d]De Bello Gallico, Lib. VI, cap. 19.
[a]Part I, chap. vii.
[b]The proportion is exactly the same in the bill of mortality for the same place in 1809.
[a]See above, p. 27 9, ct seqq.