Page images
PDF
EPUB

importance in the economy of the country, and highly worthy of the consideration and encouragement of all classes. The advantages of ship building upon the western waters are fairly and clearly stated in the following communication, and are such as must be appreciated by our readers. We are under obligations to our correspondent S., for the interesting communication of Dr. S. P. Hildreth, of Ohio, giving a history of ship building at Marietta. Many of our readers will doubiless be surprised to find, that the building of ocean cralt was so extensively carried on at that place, in the early part of the present century.

We respectfully and earnestly solicit information upon the economy of ship building on the western waters, and trust that those of our readers who are acquainted with the subject will favor us with such facts as will enable us to place the merits of this business fairly before the country.

To the Editors of the Western Journal :

The establishment and success of your Journal is one of the many indications presented, not only of the interest now felt in the west on the subject of home manufactures and a home market, but of our ability to obtain and sustain both.

What is now chiefly required, is information of a practical character, and clearly showing what we most need, and how this want can best be supplied in what branches of manufactures we possess peculiar advantages, and when and how these can be most advantageously established.

In the articles of mine, now being published in your Journal, I have endeavored to prove that in the manufacture of cotton goods for the western demand, we have the advantage over all competitors of over 25 per cent. In my calculations I find that I have made some important errors, but fortunately for my argument, these errors are against me. The cost of building and operating a cotton mill is put too high, and the cost of transportation too low. For instance, the cost of spindles is stated at $12 each; they can now be had at the best machine shops at $10—the actual cost of making them is not over $7 75. This is the most important error that has been pointed out to me, and it lessens the estimate of capital required, for a mill of the size stated, $20,000

But my present object is to call the attention of your readers and correspondents to another very important branch of industry, in which, as I conceive, we have, if possible, greater advantages than in the manufacture of cotton. I refer to the building of ocean craft of every description. For these we have the jaw material - timber, iron and hemp—at our very dours.

I am not particularly familiar with the construction of ships, and can only throw out suggestions and state general impressions, which I trust will educe all the facts connected with the subject, from those who possess them. I understand that the commercial marine of this country is built almost entirely north of the Chesapeake Bay, and the region of live oak, and of fresh water timber. On the tide water the timber has been exhausted for years, and that which is now used

is rafted or transported from the interior, and at great cost. I have known the timber on land fifteen miles from the sea, sell for $200 per acre, thence hauled three miles to a saw mill, and from that four miles to the ship yard, on tide water, and where a ship of four hundred tons could be floated to the sea only during the high spring lides. This was in New Hampshire. This timber in no respect was superior to that which we have, in quantities paren inexhaustible, on the banks of our streams that are navigable at all seasons. I have no knowledge of the Mississippi above Cairo, but recently I passed through a forest of white oak immediately back of Mills Point, which would furnish the timber for the navy of christendom. This oak district, as I understand, commences below Randolph and extends up as high as Columbus. Between these points ships of any burthen can be built and sent to sea at almost any period of the year.

The banks of the Ohio, the Tennessee and the Cumberland, are skirted with the best kinds of ship timber, and these rivers, for hundreds of miles, are navigable at seasons of the year when the produce of our country is ready for market.

The ship Minesota, recently built at Cincinnati by Captain Deshon, and under direction of one of the best eastern architects, recently passed us, on her way to Liverpool. She is pronounced by competent judges to be equal in every respect, to any merchant vessel now on or off the stocks on the eastern seaboard. The estimate of comparative cost of our upper Ohio built ships, and those built at the east, is a saving of about twenty per cent. in first cost, and from fisteen to twenty per cent. more in the freight to New Orleans. For instance, the Minesota, of say eight hundred tons, would take a downward ght of five thousand dollars. The cost of towage would be, say one thousand dollars, and this would be more than saved in cost of re-shipment at New Orleans.

We have these advantages

The cheapest timber, iron, hemp and provisions; easy navigation; saving of cost of re-shipment, and heavy charges at New Orleans; absence of risk-of damage to perishable freight exposed to the sun in a hot climate; saving of time, interest and insurance.

Shippers of corn, flour, meat, and tobacco only, will fully appreciate the advantage of sending these staples to a distant market, and through an inter-tropical climate, in vessels clean, fresh and cool, and in the shortest possible time.

If I am correct in these general views, here is an opening for an immensely valuable business to our men of capital and enterprise, and of vast importance to our country. No small part of the timber in the English dock yards has been transported from Canada, Norway, and the Baltic, and from fresh water streams. The ships built therefrom, are provisioned with our meat and bread. Let us build the ships here-load them with our products, and sell ship and cargo abroad. We shall find the demand unlimited, and we shall, to the extent we go into the business, take labor from less profitable employments, and create an additional home market for our agriculturalists,

[ocr errors]

My object will have been gained if the foregoing hasty and crude suggestions induce some competent persons to take up the subject, and give us the practical information desired.

The commencement of ship building on the Ohio, was at Marietta ; to obtain the history of its progress there, information was solicited from Dr. Hildreth, who has favored me with the following letter, which will doubtless interest you. Louisville, May, 1848.

Yours,

S.

[Copy.]

MARIETTA, (Ohio,) May 12, 1848. HAM. SMITH, Esq., Louisville, Ky.,"

DEAR SIR—Your favor of 10th ultimo, has been received. The object is a very laudable one and should be advocated and encouraged by all good citizens of the Valley of the Ohio. Ship building in a region where oak timber is so abundant and cheap, one would suppose might be conducted with profit, compared with that business on the Atlantic coast east of the mountains. The early settlers of Marietta, seeing no good market for their surplus produce, the transport being too expensive for the conveyances then in use, turned their attention to ship-building —thus furnishing the mode of sending their produce to a foreign market, and turning their useless forests to a good account, instead of burnirg up the lumber in log heaps. It was commenced as early as the year 1800, when the brig Arthur St. Clair of 110 tons was built, loaded with pork and flour and conducted to the ocean by Com. Abra. Whipple. The Spaniards then possessed the shores of the Mississippi, and threw many obstructions in the way of navigation. The experiment was successful and profitable to the owners. In 1801, the ship Muskingum of 230 tons and brig Eliza Green, 126 tons, were built and loaded with produce, making good voyages. In the year 1802, the brig Dominic, 100 tons, built or owned by H. Beauverlea pett and D. Woodbridge; schooner Indiana 75 tons, brig Marietta 150 tons, and brig Mary Avery. In 1803, two schooners, Whitney, of 75 tons each; brig Orlando 150 tons. In 1804, ship Temperance, 230 tons, and schooner Nonpareil of 70 tons, and brig Ohio 150 tons. In 1805, brig Perseverance 160 tons. In 1806, ship Rufus King 300, John Atchison 320, Tuscarora 320, with brig Sophia Green 100 tons, and two gun boats of 75 tons each. In 1807, the ship Francis 300, Robert Hale 300, brig Rufus Putnam, brig Golata 140 tons. In 1808, schooner Belle, 100 tons. In 1809, the schooner Adventure, 60 tons. In 1812, schooner Maria, 75 tons. The embargo of Thomas Jefferson, in 1808, put a stop to ship-building in Marietta, as the sale of vessels was dull. The larger portion of the vessels were owned by Thos. Lord and B. I. Gilman, two enterprising merchants of Marietta. They were usually sold or built on contract for merchants in Philadelphia or New York, but often made their first voyage to the West Indies or Europe to dispose of the cargoes. Some of them took out cotton for the planters on the Mississippi, and as they had no steam cotton presses in those days to condense the bags to a moderate bulk, the price of freight per pound to Liverpool, was enormous.

From 1812 to 1844 ship-building was not resumed in Marietta, but from 1823 10 1838 the building of steamboats was carried on regularly by James Whitney and others, numbering nearly forty vessels, some of a large class. In 1844, a company was formed for

Iding ships, and up to 1848 constructed three ships and two schooners; and Mr. N. L. Wilson, of Marietta built one ship of 300 tons, loaded her with produce in 1846, and sent her to Ireland. On her return she was sold at a fair price in Philadelphia. Before the invention of steam boats on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, several of the early built vessels were torn, or greatly damaged in their descent to the ocean—some on islands, sandbars, or rapids at Louisville. They can now be towed down safely, but the cost takes away a large share of the profit on building. Several vessels were built at Pittsburgh, and one or two at other places on the Ohio, before 1806. The commanders and sailors to man the vessels, as well as the riggers, came from the Atlantic cities. The cordage, cables, &c., were made at Mariella, and in 1806 supported three large rope-walks. The growth of hemp was greatly encouraged, and was one of the staple articles of agriculture in the rich bottoms of the Ohio, as late as 1810 and 1812. No finer locust or oak timber can be found in the United States than grow's on the borders of the Ohio. Very respectfully, yours,

S. P. HILDRETH.

COMMERCIAL STATISTICS.

COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES WITH ALL NATIONS. The following letter from the Hon. Zadock Pratt, to the editor of the Merchants' Magazine, will fully explain the object and value of the following tables. We have omitted the table of exports and imports for the nine months ending the 301h June, 1843:

PRATTSVILLE, New York, April 25, 1848. FREEMAN Hunt, Esq.Dear Sir:-As your Magazine has become the accredited repository of statistical information on all topics of commercial value, I take the liberty of sending you an interesting statement, which was prepared for me at the Treasury Department of the United States, in continuation of my report on the Bureau of Statistics. It presents, as you will observe, a complete view of the value of our export and import trade with each foreign country for the last five years, clearly showing the comparative importance of our trade with each country, as well as its fluctuations. By the recapitulation, you will notice that for three years out of five, the balance of trade was in favor of the United States—that is, our exports exceeded our imports.

The information embraced in this statement will be found to possess great practical value to merchants, manufacturers, and indeed all classes of intelligent men who take an interest in the development of our varied commercial and industrial resources. No statesman can legislate understandingly without such information.

I take great satisfaction in contributing to the pages of a journal in which every thing of value that appears finds an enduring record, and thus becomes matter of present and future reference.

With my best wishes for the continued usefulness and prosperity of the Merchants' Magazine, I am yours truly,

ZADUCK PRATT.

Statistical View of the Commerce of the United States, from the 30th June,

1843, to the 30th June, 1847.

IN THE YEAR ENDING 30TH JUNE, 1844.
Countries.

Fxports. Imports. In favor of U.S. Against U. 8. Russia, $555,414 $1,059,419

$504,005 Prussia,

218,574 12,609 $205,965 Sweden and Norway, 230,101 421,834

191,733 Swedish W. Indies, 65,244 23,719 41,525 Denmark,

112,834

6,063 106,771 Danish West Indies, 870,322 624,447 245,875 Holland,

2,698,944 1,310,081 1,388,863 Dutch East Indies, 359,383 935,984

576,601 Dutch West Indies, 323,286 386,283

62,997 Dutch Guiana,

71,772 49,144 22,628 Belgium,

2,003,801 634,777 1,369,024 Har se Towns, 3,566,687 2,136,386 1,430,301 England,

46,940,156 41.476,081 5,464,075 Scotland,

1,953,473 527,239 1,426,234 Ireland, 42,591 88,084

45,493 Gibraltar,

579,883 44,274 535,609 Malta,

16,998

15 16,983 British East Indies, 675,966 882,792

206,826 Australia,

29,667

122 29,545 Cape of Good Hope, 82,938 29,166 53,772 British West Indies, 4,136,046 687,906 3,448,140 British Honduras, 239,019 248,343

9,324 British Guiana,

309,236

9,385 299,851 Brit. Am. Colonies, 6,715.903 1,465,715 5,250,188 France on Atlantic, 14,148,503 15,946,166

1,797,663 Do. Mediterranean, 1,289,897 1,603,318

313,421 French W. Indies, 617,546 374,695 242,851 French Guiana,

57,039 28 233 28,806 Miquelon and French Fisheries, 3,484

3,484 Fr. African Ports and Bourbon, 16,967

16,967 Hayti, 1,128,356 1,441,244

312,888

« PreviousContinue »