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ART. I.-WESTERN EMIGRATION AND WESTERN
AT the close of the Revolutionary War, the vast region bounded by the Alleghanies, the Ohio, the Mississippi, and the Lakes was a wilderness. The early attempt at French colonization had failed. The thirteen old colonies had resigned their misty claims of dominion in the far-off country, in favor of the new government. As early as 1790, this whole area was dedicated to Freedom by the new Congress of the United States; and an untrodden world invited a new experiment in human affairs. Then began that most wonderful movement of modern times, which, under the name of Western emigration, in seventy-five years has created five great States, rejuvenated the three most powerful of the older colonies, and planted therein a population of nine millions. Since that day, the people of the United States have come into possession of a vaster region, between the Mississippi and the Pacific, and organized it into seventeen free States and territories, containing a population of three millions. The close of the war of the Rebellion beheld this entire district inhabited by twelve million people, and bound together by a common devotion to American institutions. And, what is vastly more important, this population, gathered from the whole world, shows unmistakable signs of crystallizing into a new and decided Western character.
VOL. LXXXII.-NEW SERIES, VOL. III. NO. III.
A Western character; for, although these twelve million people exhibit great diversities of origin, culture, and opinion on the one hand, and on the other are yearly becoming more thoroughly American, they at present exhibit positive traits of character as the result of the peculiar conditions of Western life. We propose in this article to consider, in a general way, this interesting spectacle of Western emigration and Western character.
At the outset, we may dismiss, as not pertinent to our inquiries, the very small class of persons on whose character an emigration to the West has produced no marked impression. In every Western community we find a few individuals, sometimes a respectable little clique, who, dwelling bodily amid the scenes of our New World, have spiritually never strayed beyond their place of nativity. The stubborn old English, Scotch, or North-Irish gentleman, who, after fifty years of Western-American friction, still carries London, Edinburgh, or Belfast in every stamp of his obstinate foot; the jolly German student, from whose vision the cloud-land of his meerschaum obscures the whole universe, save his own complacent "Ego," and who, even amid the opening thunders of the Judgment morning would call for his "lager" and be a "Philister;" the run-down French aristocrat, trying, with a sort of comic desperation, to keep his feet planted in the tracks of his forefathers; the Southern swashbuckler, who wears his hair long, rants in as insolent defiance of modern ideas, and chews his plug-tobacco as frantically, as if the Southern Confederacy were in full blast; the slow Pennsyl vanian farmer and his more moderate wife, who, on the broad plains of Central Ohio, seem yet to abide in one of the dimples of father Alleghany's hands; the dear old Quaker lady, whom God keeps, as she is, as a model of essential womanhood; the trim Yankee housekeeper, dying slowly with her daily toil of washing the dirt from the surface of the great West, and dreaming o'nights of going to glory by the way of Worcester, Mass.; the New-York swell and the Philadelphia exquisite, whom even the splendors of Chicago cannot persuade to take down their harps from the willows; the
gentlemanly University master of a select school of young ladies or gentlemen, who lives a sort of spectral existence amid our noisy realities, pleasantly indifferent to what we think of him or his classic scheme of life, since, happen what may, old Harvard and Yale will abide, all these, and yet other phenomena, exist to confirm the fact, that nothing on earth is so enduring as a fixed conceit of human self-sufficiency. Most of these people are useful citizens in their own sphere of labor, and, even when goaded into chronic irritation by the annoyances of our barbarism, a picturesque feature in our Western human scenery. Many of them would occupy positions of high respectability in an old civilization. But here they are never at home; and their despairing existence is the most melancholy feature of Western life. We can look on the wreck of a thousand brave souls who believe in the destiny of the New World more fervently for every failure of their own to grasp its prizes, with enthusiasm, compared to the feeling with which we contemplate this class of strong men and women, slowly dying of spiritual scurvy, amid boundless opportunities which they have not the heart to touch.
The Germanic and British peoples, and their American descendants, are the great emigrating races of the modern world. So great is their breadth and versatility of nature, that they can at once furnish the noblest conservatism to sustain great empires at home, and send forth every variety of the radical character to found new civilizations in virgin lands. Out of this progressive region of the European and older American life has come the vast majority of our Western people. Few of this great number can abide in such a land without being greatly changed. Every State and locality has impressed its own features for a time upon the Western district it has colonized. But, underneath all these local influences, the general type of Western character is slowly developing. It is not an exclusive type of character, content to remain under the ban of provincialism. Indeed, it is the beginning of the distinctively American character; and will never rest content till it has reconstructed the South-west to