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If we now look at the production of the Union we shall observe what proportion was taken off by that active trade.
There are no returns of the amount of crops for that year; but if we assume that they were as large as for the census returns, we may compare the exports with the production :
PRODUCE PER CENSUS,
Exported 1840. 1850.
bush. 84,323,272 100,485,944 26,322,431 Corn
377,531,875 592,071,104 16,326,050 Thus, over 26,000,000 bushels of wheat were exported as flour and grain, and that export raised flour to $9 12 per barrel. Of corn only 16,326,050 bushels were exported; but that small quantity only--not 3 per cent of the crop-raised the price to 90 cents per bushel, and the freight to 28 s., or 56 cents from New York to Liverpool in February, 1847. The total tonnage of the United States in that year was 1,241,313 registered, and 1,597,733 coasting, Of the latter, 147,883 was owned at the lake ports, and 84,731 at the river ports—there being then no railroad transportation. The production of grain in 1847 was probably by no means so large as the figures given for the census of 1850, since the high price obtained in those famine years not only stimulated production, but also ship building. These two circumstances caused low prices of grain and of freights in the succeeding years. It then appears that one of the most extraordinary famines of modern times could only draw from the United States 42,000,000 bushels of corn and wheat.
The high freights greatly stimulated the building of vessels--as well registered as coasting and lake tonnage--and the returns show that the latter increased 50 per cent, and the building of registered was in as large a ratio. The trade of 1847 was strangled for want of means of transportation. These had increased very much up to 1853. In the five years from 1847 to 1853 the government sold 12,000,000 acres of public lands, and 1,500,000 settlers arrived from abroad, while great numbers moved from the Eastern States to the West. In the same period the Northern line of railroads was opened; the New York Central allowed to carry freight; the Erie was opened through, and the connection between Baltimore and Philadelphia and the West completed. In 1847 the Ohio Canal at Cleveland was the only work which fed the lakes, and these delivered 644,913 barrels of flour in that year. Before 1853 the Indiana Canal was opened ; the two great Michigan roads were opened, and the Illinois canal was completed, drawing grain to Chicago, in connection with one or two railroads. The tonnage of the lakes had become large, and the tonnage of the whole country had increased from 2,417,000 in 1847, to 4,138,4 10 in 1852, or 45 per cent. Such was the state of affairs when the harvests of Europe again failed in 1852. The lake tonnage
had increased to 271,100, and the river tonnage to 169,000. In this state of affairs the harvests of Europe again failed--not the potato crop so much as the grain crop--and there was again much excitement, and we may trace its influence upon the markets. It is now just seven years since the English harvests promised the same as they now do. At that time the present writer had occasion to describe the state of the markets as follows, after carefully condeusing the news :
“Many weeks since we laid before our readers the leading circumstan
ces that were conspiring to make the coming year one of the most important eras in the corn trade. Unfortunately the weather in England and Western Europe has been such as to heighten the worst features of the case, and support large estimates of the probable wants of the West of Europe, including England. The government of France has exerted itself to keep down prices; but the general rise in France of 145 cents per bushel, together with the suspension of the corn duties in France, Belgium, Holland and Italy, has sent the English and French buyers in competition into this market. Leading English firms, although impressed with the idea that the demand is to some extent speculative and premature, have sent orders for choice flour, limited at 25s., laid down in Liverpool. According to present estimates the wants are:-Of France
.... bush. 38,781,165 Of England...
128,100,000 Total, all kinds of grain.......
166,781,161 “In usual years England wants half this quantity, or 64,000,000 bushels, of wbich France supplies usually 30,000,000, making the two countries dependent upon the rest of Europe for 34,000,000 bushels; hence they require, together, 132,000,000 bushels more than usual; and Holland, Belgium, Italy, and Egypt are short. These general facts are calculated to excite the minds of holders extravagantly, and cause loss and disaster by inducing them to hold for exorbitant prices. The lesson of former years showed that first sellers did best.”
Bearing in mind what we had said of the exaggeration of the English reports, it will be obvious that the estimated wants were three times what was actually imported, and France imported about one-fourth of the estimates.
Such was the state of affairs in 1853, and the description will answer pretty weli for the present prospect. In July, 1853, the price of flour in New York was $4 50, when the demand set in, and the effects of it on the New York market are seen in the following table, which shows the weekly price in New York of flour, wheat, and corn, the quantities weekly exported to Great Britain, with the freights of four to Liverpool :-
EXPORTS BREADSTUFFS FROM NEW YORK TO GREAT BRITAIN IN 1853.
7,121,712 1,901,179 The above table gives the weekly export to Great Britain up to the close of November, and the aggregate to all places. From December to April the total weekly exports to all places are given. It happened in 1853, as in 1847, that the exports of corn grew as the year advanced. In 1847 they were largest in July, and in 1853 they were largest in February. The wheat export was heaviest in December. It is to be remarked that in England the prices of grain were highest in June, 1847, when the rate for wheat was 120s. The situation was fictitious, however, and a sudden breakdown involved the failure of hundreds of merchants. In 1853 the price of flour rose steadily, and corn, with very moderate exports, rose to 108c. per bushel in New York in January, notwithstanding the improved means of communicating with the West. The increase in registered tonnage sufficed to keep outward freights at a moderate level, but the quantities of corn exported were very limited as compared with 1847. The actual exports of the two years were as follows:
Flour, bbls. Wheat, bush. Corn, bush. Tonnage. 1847..
4,382,496 4,399,951 16,326,050 2,417,000 1853..
2,920,918 4,354,403 2,274,909 4,138,441 This was not a very large result, particularly for wheat, yet the price of that article was well maintained at very high rates. The prices abroad continued very high up to 1858, but the harvest of 1854 failed in the L'nited States, and little grain could be spared even at the high prices paid abroad for it. The manufacture of railroads at the West also consumed a great deal of food, and less could in consequence be spared.
The revulsion of 1857 turned food consumers into food producers—a greater breadth of land has been planted and made more accessible to market. The federal government has sold nearly 50,000,000 acres of land since 1853, and nearly 2,000,000 emigrants from abroad bave arrived. Many of these have gone West, and others have settled as manufacturers in the Eastern States in place of native agriculturists who have
The Canadians have cleared the St. Lawrence of its obstructions, and opened it to the Chicago grain-laden vessels free to the sea. The Ogdensburg Railroad is a northern drain from the lakes to Boston, as the Montreal road is to Portland. The New York Central road is fully equipped to compete with the Erie Canal, which has also been enlarged. The Erie Railroad has been put through," and a considerable length of double track built. The Pennsylvania road forms a cheap and direct route from Pittsburg to the Delaware, and the Baltimore and Ohio road connects Wheeling with Baltimore. All these routes form eight avenues of great capacity to deliver freight. At the same time, the whole tract of country bounded on the west by the Mississippi, on the south by the Ohio, and on the north by the great lakes, has been covered by a perfect net-work of railroads, which bring every farm in communication with either of these markets.
There have been built 12,000 miles of railroads in the Wesiern and Northwestern States. The intermediate country is drained and crossed in every direction by these works, which, in competition with the rivers and canals, make every bushel of grain available, and equalize the prices. The canals, rivers, and roads empty themselves upon the lakes and Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and the tonnage of those waters is now 427,000 on the lakes, and 172,000 on the rivers. The river and lake tonnage was gradually changed in its character from sail to paddles, and from paddles to screws. The latter have also become gradually improved, and now supersede other means of motion on the lakes. The effect of moving by steam is greatly to increase the capacity of a given amount of tonnage, since the voyages are more prompt and shorter. The effect of this in the past few years, when the foreign demand has been so small for grain, has been to send down freights to their lowest points, and cause many vessels to leave the lakes in order to seek freights in the sea-going ports. The railroads have also taken a considerable portion of the freights, and thus still farther depressed the shipping business. A great change is now apparent. The large breadth of country now covered with settlers, and brought within range of the markets, has given the most prolific yield, and if the reports are not exaggerated there must be 1,000 millions of bushels of corn to come to market. The quantities of this that may
be exported will not hold a very large proportion to the whole amount. The Southern crops are represented as a failure in many sections. From that cause will arise a considerable consumption of Western corn; but the surplus will still be such as that the utmost foreign demand will be freely met.
The trade in Indian corn may be said to have commenced in 1847. The sudden failure of the potato crop, at a time when other food was scarce, made corn almost the only alternative; but the strongest prejudices prevailed in the minds of the people against it, and they were, moreover, ignorant of the mode of using it. The greatest exertions were
then made to overcome these prejudices. Tlie clergy exerted themselves to entreat band mills to grind it, giving instruction also, by precept and example, how to cook the meal. It was found in many cases to have a very bad effect upon the people, who were unaccustomed to it, causing them to swell as if poisoned; nevertheless, a considerable increase in its use resulted, and in England, other articles being used as human food, corn was extensively introduced as fodder, and the export to the British islands has since been very regular. The following table, from official sources, shows the quantities of corn exported to the British islands, and the total quantity, with the average price per bushel, and the total value:
INDIAN CORN EXPORTED FROM THE UNITED STATES.
England, Scotland, Ireland, Total,
bush. 1845 ... 134,898
$411,741 1846 688,714 78,006 425,960 1,826,068
1,186,663 1817 7,216,878 310,708 7,998,939 16,326,050
14,395,212 1818 3,365,392 126,907 1.569,921 5,817,634
3,837,483 1849 7,859,642 345,316 4,191,284 13,257,309
7,966,369 1850 4,431,929 172,732 1,342,545 6,595,092
2,226,647 38,940 494,742 3,4 26,811 52 1,762,549 1852 1,337,651 39,566 517,483 2,627,075
1,540,225 1853 1,324,625 18,960 310,255 2,074,909
5,488,979 122,033 354,838 7,768,816 77 6,070,277 1855 4,744,745 152,640 1,037,899 7,807,585
6,961,511 1856 6,704,105 159,732 828,748 10,292,280
4,184,279 160,704 426,223 7,605,318 69 5,184,666 1858
2,716,695 90,226 408,277 4,766,145 70 3,259,039 1859 345,187
345,187 70 221,500 1860 2,286,555
2,600,000 65 1,690,000 This has been the actual extent of the corn trade of the Union, and as compared with the production it is of small account. Indian corn is almost the sole instrument of settling the Western country. It is this sure and abundant crop which, with little labor, gives the pioneer of the wilderness fodder for horses, cattle, and swine, food for the family, materials for bedding, and surplus for sale. Depending on corn the settler pushes fearlessly into the wilderness, certain that a few months' growth of corn will give subsistence for a year for man and beast, and it he can command a market, the means of getting luxuries. Railroads have given him command of the markets for wheat and four, but in ordinary tiines the corn is too bulky to pay railroad freights, and goes upon the canals, rivers, and lakes. Indeed, even for flour many prefer the water carriage, because of the wastage upon railroads. The number of acres sold, and the new settlers that occupy them, have brought an immense quantity of land under corn. The crops here are said, however, never to have been so large as now, and the means of transport never so abundant. In fact, both railroads and shipping have been depressed by over-supply, and they can now meet the exigencies of a very extensive export trade. The quantity and value of corn produced in the United States has been given in official tables as follows:
Value. 1840, census report...
377,531,875 $139,749,612 1850
692,071,104 296,035,552 1855 ....
717,812,540 358,101,000 1837, estimated.
1,200,000,000 600,000,000 1860