The following is an extract of a letter dated Louisville, August 12th, 1820, from a Scotchman who has been long settled in America, to his friend, a Scotch Farmer, who rents 500 acres of land in the County of Middlesex.
“The circumstances in which this country is placed at present are truly melancholy, when compared to what they have been ; yet still it is a better country to live in than Britain. It is not easy to make money by farming, at present, in the United States, for the want of a market; and I am of opinion that things will not mend, in this respect, for some years, for all are sellers and none buyers. All kinds of produce are selling, or rather offered for sale, at one-third of what prices were two years ago. Land, of course, has fallen in the same ratio. The best of cleared land, within from 5 to 10 miles of this town, is offered for them from 10 to 20 dollars an acre. You will thence conclude that this is a favourable time to purchase – and that for a man who has a little money, and a large family able and willing to labour with their hands, this is a most excellent country, as he can easily raise on this cheap land all the necessaries, and many of the luxuries, of life. He will find it difficult to get gold or silver, or even our own bad bank notes; but a man cannot be badly off with more beef, mutton, pork and grain, than he can dispose of. He has no rent to make up by term day: his taxes are next to nothing, and although he may grumble to have to turn his pigs into his corn field to save the expense of reaping it, or to see his apples rotting under his trees by barn-fulls because he has not room or use for them, yet still these are beatable distresses compared to those of the poor farmers in our native land, and as I suppose in England. To the wealthier farmer the change is not beneficial or desirable. It is true that if he stays long in Britain he will soon become less wealthy; yet still he would for some time regret the change. He would miss many things made necessary by habit; he would find his servants more lazy, and less obedient ; and he would even experience pain because the modes of farming he is accustomed to will not do here; but when he gets over these things, he will find the advantage of the change. To say nothing of the difference of the Government, and the satisfaction of chusing one’s own rulers, there are many desirable things here. I estimate, as the greatest, the ease of providing for one’s family. A man may, with very little exertion, leave to all his children land enough to make them independent. Hence that sickening anxiety about the future fate of a family is little known here.”
Citation: Glasgow Herald (Glasgow, United Kingdom), 05 February 1821, available at the Scissors and Paste Database, http://www.scissorsandpaste.net/186.