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Zouaves, capable of becoming the most splendid auxiliarieswhen such men are converted, then the service will be to them a solace and a pride. But as, with quick pulse and eager eye, they hurry to and fro in these great thoroughfares, how can this grand, but stationary engine arrest them? Can the clergyman reach them, if it be essential to the exercise of his office that his audiences should be first captured and brought to his church, and then, before he can speak to them in those quick, earnest words which are called for by their wants and his mission, that the morning or evening service should be read through? It is true that at each place where a congregation is to be collected, the services of the Church should be performed, and sermons delivered calculated to instruct the young and ignorant, to awaken the thoughtless, to reclaim the back. slider. But after all, as things now are, this does not reach the evil. We all know well enough how to treat our congregations when collected. The difficulty is how to collect them. How is the arrestive power of religion to be brought to bear upon this vast throng that hurries to and fro in the towns and thoroughfares of this great valley? There is an answer to this question; but, before considering it, let us see what other elements unite in forming the basis of examination.
We turn, then, to the class which forms the real material for the future prosperity of the Missouri and Mississippi Valleys. Let me stop for a moment, to notice the wonderful empire of prairie and of woodland which the former of these rivers drains. It is, indeed, an empire whose splendor can scarcely be over-estimated. Its soil is both varied and rich. It is watered on one side by numberless springs, on both by an abundance of rivulets and creeks. Its climate, if it be intense in both its heat and cold, finds the summer relieved by a perpetual breeze, and the pungency of the winter mitigated by a freedom from the dampness which in the East acts with such acuteness on the lungs and nerves. It has now, what are so rarely united, an unlimited supply and an unlimited demand. Elsewhere an excess of supply produces a deadness of demand, and an excess of demand a scarcity of supply. Here, by the influence of the wonderful stream of population, we have the
usual laws of trade reversed; and a glut of population appears periodically, to absorb the glut of produce.
The population of the prairies is sparse, energetic, and intelligent. Let it be recollected, in the first place, over how great a sweep of territory this population spreads. Nebraska contains 333,866 square miles; Kansas, 73,000. It is true that of the former territory one half is not arable; but after making this deduction we have an area remaining forty times the size of the State of Connecticut. On several accounts this great country is destined to take a leading position in the future history of North-America. Its soil, like that of Illinois and Iowa, is eminently adapted to the cultivation of breadstuffs. For centuries the best kind of manure has been periodically worked into it through the burning of prairie grass. For centuries the tough canvass which the roots of this grass weave, has protected the rich alluvial soil below from the washing of rain, and the approach of a ranker and more exhausting vegetation. Nowhere do we find the materials for manufacture so abundant; nowhere the future demand for them likely to be so great. Here the layers of bituminous coal, as they crop out on the tilled bluff, strike the eye, even of the casual traveller, by their alternations with the rich brown mould. Here, particularly among the tributaries of the Kansas and the Yellow-stone, we find a water-power fully capable of working mills surpassing those of Lowell. Here, in close juxtaposition, lie iron and lime. And here is perhaps the most remarkable line of water-conveyance in the world. The Missouri, far less impeded by bars than the Mississippi, piercing, for navigable purposes, at least five hundred miles further inland, is propelled by a current which shoots freight down towards the gulf of Mexico at the rate of from five to ten miles an hour. Never was a greater producing country brought into closer proximity with a greater market.
But this is not all. Nebraska and Kansas will occupy a future position of great commercial importance, from the fact that within them lies the coast line of Central North-American agriculture. Arable land stops from about two hundred to three hundred miles west of the Missouri, and there the great plains commence. I shall not touch upon the peculiar properties of these vast rainless, but by no means desert tracts. There the buffalo grass grows in rich luxuriance in summer, and is cured in the winter into an edible farinaceous hay, well calculated for the nourishment of the countless troops of buffaloes which find in these plains their last refuge. These elevated parks, therefore, will form the great nursery of the future, from which furs and pelts will be produced. A trade of leading importance will thus be thrown into the hands of the inhabitants of these Central American frontiers. And what is more to my present purpose, nomadic traders and trappers will be multiplied, whom only an itinerary can reach.
But we may go further in estimating the importance of the commercial destiny of the western valley of the Missouri. “To their west lie California and Oregon, great producing, and yet not capable of becoming great manufacturing countries; the former containing the finer, but not the coarser metalstogether with breadstuffs abundant for her own support; the latter eminent for her wheat-growths, her fisheries, and her lumber. But in neither California nor Oregon is to be found the coal capable of working, nor the iron for framing those great machines by which the wool of a country can be turned into clothing, by which the hides of the millions of cattle that range the prairies can be used for the shoes and the furniture of the nations on either side, by which the buttons can be turned and the nails forged. On the other hand, on the eastern coast of the great desert-sea will lie Kansas and Nebraska, of all countries the best suited for the sites of vast manufactories. There run rivers whose descents and whose copiousness adapt them as well to turn the wheel as to irrigate the land; there, underneath a soil which can support a million of workmen, are spread layers of coal, which will form the fuel for tens of thousands of square miles; there is the iron which is to form both the engine and the staple, the arm that strikes, as well as the material that is struck; there, in fact, are the great furnishing warerooms, where the people of California will exchange their gold and quicksilver, and those of Oregon their fish and lumber, for the hardware, the clothes, and the
furniture which the manufactories of the Missouri Valley will produce. If this view be correct, the scene alone of these prairie sea-ports of the West will not be unlike that at one of our ocean ports in the East. At the docks of the great cities which will then spring up on this shore of civilization, will arrive fleet after fleet of the future ships of the desert, each dashing over its iron track to the destined port. There, on the levee at which these waves of sand will terminate, will be strewn the boxes containing not only the gold of the Sacramento and of the San Joaquin, and the quicksilver of New-Almaden, but the wines which are even now beginning to be drawn from the vineyards of Los Angelos, and the cotton and sugar from the south of Sierra Nevada. There will be found, in an abundance which New-England herself can but rival, the dried and salted fish of the Columbia and the Willamette, and the furs which the Oregon hunting grounds produce in such rare abundance. There will be seen warehouses and shops like those which, in New-York and Philadelphia, collect for Western inspection the products of Europe and of New-England. It will be cheaper for the Pacific merchant to come here and purchase than it would be to visit the cities of the Atlantic. Manufacturers on the Kansas River, on the Blue River, and on the Osage, can sell heavy goods at least twenty per cent cheaper than manufacturers in Connecticut or Pennsylvania. Freight, amounting to five dollars on the hundred weight, will be a sufficient protection to force the manufactories of the Missouri Valley at once into energetic action. The time will come when the Western merchant, who leaves California by the cars to buy his stock in the East, will find in Omaha, in Nebraska City, in Lawrence, warehouses which will unite the products of the Atlantic States and of Europe with the goods which the abundance of breadstuffs, the proximity of the raw material, and the relief from the burden of freight, which bears so heavily on transportation across the Alleghanies, will enable the factories of Kansas and of Nebraska to present on the spot, to the exclusion of Eastern competitors.”
Now, how are these several classes of population to be
Now, I apprepurpose. Take church here to build chur
reached ? Active, potent, numerous, they undoubtedly are; capable, from their position and character, of acting on and determining the future destiny of the great valley they occupy. How, then—is the practical question-are we of the East to discharge the duty we owe of planting the Gospel in this empire valley ?
Now, I apprehend that the ordinary agencies will be insufficient for this purpose. Take church-building. How, when sites are still unsettled, do we know where to build churches ? This year a town may be in a fair way of prosperity-next year, it will be deserted. Two or three years ago we were all greatly interested in building a church and school house at Topeka. Now Topeka has pretty much dried up; and though it may hereafter revive and fructify, yet the metropolitan standard we once assigned to it is gone. Or, can we build churches on the rivers or ferries, or on those prairie sweeps in which, from their very vastness, a congregation of fifty would be a large one? Supposing that we answer the last question in the affirmative, is it expedient to make the attempt? To create even a superficial net-work of church edifices over this immense territory would cost millions. No funds that we can hope to raise can do more than supply an hundredth, or a thousandth part of the surface. Then, even were this done, comes the important inquiry, Whether a church edifice, erected by missionary funds from without, ever sinks its foundation into the popular heart to any thing like the depth of those built by the energies of worshippers themselves. The experience of the Church Missionary Society is greatly against the building of any but temporary mission churches. So it is when the same experiment has been tried among ourselves. The “Mission” Church is looked on but coldly until the time comes when through an energetic local ministry, accompanied by a necessity for repairs and extension, the building becomes associated with the personal enterprise and industry of the community.
But the ministry? Here, undoubtedly, is the first great want. I apprehend, however, that it is an itineracy, one that can preach in the steamboat, on the levee, in the school house,