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Face of the Country-Area-Character of the Settlers-Foreign
WHEN the Israelites of old approached their promised Canaan, with a laudable curiosity to know what kind of a territory had been given to them for an inheritance, but for which they were yet to fight they sent forth trusty men to spy out the land, and anxiously awaited their report. Had there been found on that side of Jordan a book, which fully and truly described the plain and the valley, the mountain and the high places of their future home, how eagerly would they have perused its descriptions of grandeur, and its scenes of peaceful repose?
Every American settler has his Jordan to pass, and his land of promise in the distance; but with many advantages over those same old Israelites he does not go with an army with banners — he has no Jebusite to drive away; scarce a solitary red-skin is left to add the picturesque to the landscape - all have disappeared before the marvellous approach of the pale faces. He goes to enter upon a peaceful heritage; and he may carry in his hand, as he sits in the rail car, or upon the lofty deck of the gallant steamer, a full and perfect description of the very spot towards which he is making his rapid journey. Is he a sturdy son of the soil, seeking for some fertile region where, by the strength of his lusty arms, he intends to compel the virgin earth, thus roughly wooed, to bring forth her first fruits? He can at once learn, by what soft murmuring stream, whose banks are clad with verdure, he may, with the fairest prospect of success, erect his simple cottage, soon with industry and care, to become the extensive farm house, and the home of a prospering and happy family. Where are those glorious prairies, whose deep, dark mould, turned by the glittering ploughshare, in a single year returns a harvest which repays both for outlay and for labor? The description is before him, he has but to read and to rejoice.
Is the traveller one whose object is to delve into the bosom of the earth in search of her more deeply hidden treasures? Inquirers have preceded him also, and he may learn where have already been discovered mines of mineral wealth, accessible, and wanting only the spirit of enterprise for their full and rich development. Does the merchant seek for a location where a prosperous business may be rapidly concentrated. He, too, may read of the situations inviting trade and commerce, where the great inland sea bathes with its swelling floods, site after site, upon which ere long must stand the noble city, or where the Father of Waters sweeps by, bearing to the distant sea port the gallant steamer, which conveys the products of the land to exchange for those of other climes.
Nor will the adventurer, who desires to launch his bark on a rising
tide, and, by judicious investment in a growing country, to take advantage of all that energy and enterprise which point the road to fortune, seek in vain. He also can discover, where are to be found the new and growing village-the more ambitious city, where already town lots have assumed a value foot per foot-or the region whose rapidly increasing population is bringing the more distant farm land into immediate agricultural demand.
All this has been done for neighboring States, why shall it not be done for Wisconsin? Why shall her glorious situation be permitted to remain unknown, until sought for with painful scrutiny upon perhaps an inaccurate, certainly upon an antiquated map?
Why should her climate, second to none, in healthfulness, and already proved to be, along her northern shores, as pure as that of Upper Egypt, not be mentioned to the invalid, to whose suffering frame it would impart renewed health? Or her soil, whose depth and richness are such as to encourage industry and enterprise, not be brought to the attention of the agriculturist?
May not the strong impressions, left upon the mind, in repeated journeys over the wide-spread commonwealth, be told for the benefit of others?
The position of Wisconsin, is certainly second to that of no State in the American Union-of ample size, and embracing every variety of surface; her boundaries seem prescribed by nature, and are suited to insure the most perfect development of her natural advantages. On the east, the waters of Lake Michigan bound her shores for a distance of nearly two hundred miles, affording many noble harbors, from which a commerce, sustained from her vast internal resources, must at no distant day be carried on. Lake Superior washes her northern shores for one hundred and fifty miles; and there, enterprise has begun to lay out cities, and has already discovered rich mines of mineral products, which, in quantity and quality, are unequalled in the world. This Inland Sea affords a commercial high road to the Atlantic, which may yield competition, to the now rapidly growing facilities of railroad transportation.
The Father of Waters rolls upon her western limits, giving a steamboat navigation for a distance of three hundred and fifty miles within her borders. Has any other State, or any other country, a more adtageous position? To this belongs an interior of diversified character, irrigated by numerous streams, which discharge their waters on either side into the Mississippi or Lake Michigan, and studded with lakes which add beauty, while they diffuse fertility around.
A noble, free Constitution, equal laws, and the general diffusion of intelligence, afford to this favored State the brightest prospect of an early and successful development. If, to this end, our efforts shall, in any small degree, prove auxiliary, we shall feel fully paid for our voluntary, but well-intended effort.
August 1, 1857.
JAMES S. RITCHIE.