The rise of a company of sympathetic and critical students of history in the South and in the West is bound to revolutionize the perspective of American history. Already our Eastern colleagues are aware in general, if not in detail, of the importance of the work of this nation in dealing with the vast interior, and with the influence of the West upon the nation. Indeed, I might take as the text for this address the words of one of our Eastern historians, Professor Albert Bushnell Hart, who, a decade ago, wrote:

The Mississippi Valley yields to no region in the world in interest, in romance, and in promise for the future. Here, if anywhere, is the real America--the field, the theater, and the basis of the civilization of the Western World. The history of the Mississippi Valley is the history of the United States; its future is the future of one of the most powerful of modern nations. 2

If those of us who have been insisting on the importance of our own region are led at times by the enthusiasm of the pioneer for the inviting historical domain that opens before us to overstate the importance of our subject, we may at least plead that we have gone no farther than some of our brethren of the East; and we may take comfort in this declaration of Theodore Roosevelt:

The states that have grown up around the Great Lakes and in the Valley of the Upper Mississippi, [are] the states which are destined to be the greatest, the richest, the most prosperous of all the great, rich, and prosperous commonwealths which go to make up the mightiest republic the world has ever seen. These states. . . form the heart of the country geographically, and they will soon become the heart in population and in political and social importance.... I should be sorry to think that before these states there loomed a future of material prosperity merely. I regard this section of the country as the heart of true American sentiment.3

In studying the history of the whole Mississippi Valley, therefore, the members of this Association are studying the origins of that portion of the nation which is admitted by competent Eastern authorities to be the section potentially most influential in the future of America. They are also studying the region which has engaged the most vital activities of the whole nation; for the problems arising from the existence of the Mississippi Valley, whether of movement of population, diplomacy, politics, economic development, or social structure, have been fundamental problems in shaping the nation. It is not a narrow, not even a local, interest which determines the mission of this Association. It is nothing less than the study of the American people in the presence and under the influence of the vast spaces, the imperial resources of the great interior. The social destiny of this Valley will be the social destiny, and will mark the place in history, of the United States.

In a large sense, and in the one usually given to it by geographers and historians, the Mississippi Valley includes the whole interior basin, a province which drains into nearly two thousand miles of navigable waters of the Mississippi itself, two thousand miles of the tawny flood of the Missouri, and a thousand miles of the Ohio-five thousand miles of main water highways open to the steamboat, nearly two and a half million square miles of drainage basin, a land greater than all Europe except Russia, Norway, and Sweden, a land of levels, marked by essential geographic unity, a land estimated to be able to support a population of two or three hundred millions, three times the present population of the whole nation, an empire of natural resources in which to build a noble social structure worthy to hold its place as the heart of American industrial, political and spiritual life.

The significance of the Mississippi Valley in American history was first shown in the fact that it opened to various nations visions of power in the New World--visions that sweep across the horizon of historical possibility like the luminous but unsubstantial aurora of a comet's train, portentous and fleeting.

Out of the darkness of the primitive history of the continent are being drawn the evidences of the rise and fall of Indian cultures, the migrations through and into the great Valley by men of the Stone Age, hinted at in legends and languages, dimly told in the records of mounds and artifacts, but waiting still for complete interpretation.

Into these spaces and among the savage peoples, came France and wrote a romantic page in our early history, a page that tells of unfulfilled empire. What is striking in the effect of the Mississippi Valley upon France is the pronounced influence of the unity of its great spaces. It is not without meaning that Radisson and Groseilliers not only reached the extreme of Lake Superior but also, in all probability, entered upon the waters of the Mississippi and learned of its western affluent; that Marquette not only received the Indians of the Illinois region in his post on the shores of Lake Superior, but traversed the length of the Mississippi almost to its mouth, and returning revealed the site of Chicago; that La Salle was inspired with the vision of a huge interior empire reaching from the Gulf to the Great Lakes. Before the close of the seventeenth century, Perrot's influence was supreme in the Upper Mississippi, while D'Iberville was laying the foundations of Louisiana toward the mouth of the river. Nor is it without significance that while the Verendryes were advancing toward the northwest (where they discovered the Big Horn Mountains and revealed the natural boundaries of the Valley) the Mallet brothers were ascending the Platte, crossing the Colorado plains to Santa Fé and so revealing the natural boundaries toward the southwest.

To the English the great Valley was a land beyond the Alleghanies. Spotswood, the far-sighted Governor of Virginia, predecessor of frontier builders, grasped the situation when he proposed western settlements to prevent the French from becoming a great people at the back of the colonies. He realized the importance of the Mississippi Valley as the field for expansion, and the necessity to the English empire of dominating it, if England would remain the great power of the New World.

In the war that followed between France and England, we now see what the men of the time could not have realized: that the main issue was neither the possession of the fisheries nor the approaches to the St. Lawrence on the one hemisphere, nor the possession of India on the other, but the mastery of the interior basin of North America.

How little the nations realized the true meaning of the final victory of England is shown in the fact that Spain reluctantly received from France the cession of the lands beyond the Mississippi, accepting it as a means of preventing the infringement of her colonial monopoly in Spanish America rather than as a field for imperial expansion.

But we know now that when George Washington came as a stripling to the camp of the French at the edge of the great Valley and demanded the relinquishment of the French posts in the name of Virginia, he was demanding in the name of the English speaking people the right to occupy and rule the real center of American resources and power. When Braddock's axmen cut their road from the Potomac toward the forks of the Ohio they were opening a channel through which the forces of civilization should flow with ever increasing momentum and "carving a cross on the wilderness rim" at the spot which is now the center of industrial power of the American nation.

England trembled on the brink of her great conquest, fearful of the effect of these far-stretching rivers upon her colonial system, timorous in the presence of the fierce peoples who held the vast domain beyond the Alleghanies. It seems clear, however, that the Proclamation of 1763, forbidding settlement and the patenting of lands beyond the Alleghanies, was not intended as a permanent creation of an Indian reservation out of this Valley, but was rather a temporary arrangement in order that British plans might mature and a system of gradual colonization be devised. Already our greatest leaders, men like Washington and Franklin, had been quick to see the importance of this new area for enlarged activities of the American people. A sudden revelation that it was the West, rather than the ocean, which was the real theater for the creative energy of America came with the triumph over France. The Ohio Company and the Loyal Land Company indicate the interest at the outbreak of the war, while the Mississippi Company, headed by the Washingtons and Lees, organized to occupy southern Illinois, Indiana, and western Kentucky, mark the Virginia interest in the Mississippi Valley, and Franklin's activity in promoting a colony in the Illinois country illustrates the interest of the Philadelphians. Indeed, Franklin saw clearly the possibilities of a settlement there as a means of breaking up Spanish America. Writing to his son in 1767 he declared that a "settlement should be made in the Illinois country . . . raising a strength there which on occasions of a future war might easily be poured down the Mississippi upon the lower country and into the Bay of Mexico to be used against Cuba, the French Islands, or Mexico itself." 4

The Mississippi Valley had been the despair of France in the matter of governmental control. The coureurs de bois escaping from restraints of law and order took their way through its extensive wilderness, exploring and trading as they listed. Similarly, when the English colonists crossed the Alleghanies they escaped from the control of mother colonies as well as of the mother country. If the Mississippi Valley revealed to the statesmen of the East, in the exultation of the war with France, an opportunity for new empire building, it revealed to the frontiersmen, who penetrated the passes of the Alleghanies, and entered into their new inheritance, the sharp distinctions between them and the Eastern lands which they left behind. From the beginning it was clear that the lands beyond the Alleghanies furnished an opportunity and an incentive to develop American society on independent and unconventional lines. The "men of the Western Waters" broke with the old order of things, subordinated social restraint to the freedom of the individual, won their title to the rich lands which they entered by hard fighting against the Indians, hotly challenged the right of the East to rule them, demanded their own States, and would not be refused, spoke with contempt of the old social order of ranks and classes in the lands between the Alleghanies and the Atlantic, and proclaimed the ideal of democracy for the vast country which they had entered. Not with the mercurial facility of the French did they follow the river systems of the Great Valley. Like the advance of the glacier they changed the face of the country in their steady and inevitable progress, and they sought the sea. It was not long before the Spaniards at the mouth of the river realized the meaning of the new forces that had entered the Valley.

In 1794 the Governor of Louisiana wrote:

This vast and restless population progressively driving the Indian tribes before them and upon us, seek to possess themselves of all the extensive regions which the Indians occupy between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Appalachian Mountains, thus becoming our neighbors, at the same time that they menacingly ask for the free navigation of the Mississippi. If they achieve their object, their ambitions would not be confined to this side of the Mississippi. Their writings, public papers, and speeches, all turn on this point, the free navigation of the Gulf by the rivers . . . which empty into it, the rich fur trade of the Missouri, and in time the possession of the rich mines of the interior provinces of the very Kingdom of Mexico. Their mode of growth and their policy are as formidable for Spain as their armies.... Their roving spirit and the readiness with which they procure sustenance and shelter facilitate rapid settlement: A rifle and a little corn meal in a bag are enough for an American wandering alone in the woods for a month.... With logs crossed upon one another he makes a house, and even an impregnable fort against the Indians.... Cold does not terrify him, and when a family wearies of one place, it moves to another and settles there with the same ease.

If such men come to occupy the banks of the Mississippi and Missouri, or secure their navigation, doubtless nothing will prevent them from crossing and penetrating into our provinces on the other side, which, being to a great extent unoccupied, can oppose no resistance.... In my opinion, a general revolution in America threatens Spain unless the remedy be applied promptly.

In fact, the pioneers who had occupied the uplands of the South, the backwoods stock with its Scotch-Irish leaders which had formed on the eastern edge of the Alleghanies, separate and distinct from the type of tidewater and New England, had found in the Mississippi Valley a new field for expansion under conditions of free land and unrestraint. These conditions gave it promise of ample time to work out its own social type. But, first of all, these men who were occupying the Western Waters must find an outlet for their surplus products, if they were to become a powerful people. While the Alleghanies placed a veto toward the east, the Mississippi opened a broad highway to the south. Its swift current took their flat boats in its strong arms to bear them to the sea, but across the outlet of the great river Spain drew the barrier of her colonial monopoly and denied them exit.

The significance of the Mississippi Valley in American history at the opening of the new republic, therefore, lay in the fact that, beyond the area of the social and political control of the thirteen colonies, there had arisen a new and aggressive society which imperiously put the questions of the public lands, internal communication, local self-government, defense, and aggressive expansion, before the legislators of the old colonial régime. The men of the Mississippi Valley compelled the men of the East to think in American terms instead of European. They dragged a reluctant nation on in a new course.

From the Revolution to the end of the War of 1812 Europe regarded the destiny of the Mississippi Valley as undetermined. Spain desired to maintain her hold by means of the control given through the possession of the mouth of the river and the Gulf, by her influence upon the Indian tribes, and by intrigues with the settlers Her object was primarily to safeguard the Spanish American monopoly which had made her a great nation in the world. Instinctively she seemed to surmise that out of this Valley were the issues of her future; here was the lever which might break successively, from her empire fragments about the Gulf-Louisiana, Florida and Texas, Cuba and Porto Rico-the Southwest and Pacific coast, and even the Philippines and the Isthmian Canal, while the American republic, building itself on the resources of the Valley, should become paramount over the independent republics into which her empire was to disintegrate.

France, seeking to regain her former colonial power, would use the Mississippi Valley as a means of provisioning her West Indian islands; of dominating Spanish America, and of subordinating to her purposes the feeble United States, which her policy assigned to the lands between the Atlantic and the Alleghanies. The ancient Bourbon monarchy, the revolutionary republic, and the Napoleonic empire--all contemplated the acquisition of the whole Valley of the Mississippi from the Alleghanies to the Rocky Mountains.5

England holding the Great Lakes, dominating the northern Indian populations and threatening the Gulf and the mouth of the Mississippi by her fleet, watched during the Revolution, the Confederation, and the early republic for the breaking of the fragile bonds of the thirteen States, ready to extend her protection over the settlers in the Mississippi Valley.

Alarmed by the prospect of England's taking Louisiana and Florida from Spain, Jefferson wrote in 1790: "Embraced from St. Croix to St. Mary's on one side by their possessions, on the other by their fleet, we need not hesitate to say that they would soon find means to unite to them all the territory covered by the ramifications of the Mississippi." And that, he thought, must result in "bloody and eternal war or indissoluble confederacy" with England.

None of these nations deemed it impossible that American settlers in the Mississippi Valley might be won to accept another nag than that of the United States. Gardoqui had the effrontery in 1787 to suggest to Madison that the Kentuckians would make good Spanish subjects. France enlisted the support of frontiersmen led by George Rogers Clark for her attempted conquest of Louisiana in 1793. England tried to win support among the western settlers. Indeed, when we recall that George Rogers Clark accepted a commission as Major General from France in 1793 and again in 1798; that Wilkinson, afterwards commander-in-chief of the American army, secretly asked Spanish citizenship and promised renunciation of his American allegiance; that Governor Sevier of Franklin, afterwards Senator from Tennessee and its first Governor as a State, Robertson the founder of Cumberland, and Blount, Governor of the Southwest Territory and afterwards Senator from Tennessee, were all willing to accept the rule of another nation sooner than see the navigation of the Mississippi yielded by the American government we can easily believe that it lay within the realm of possibility that another allegiance might have been accepted by the frontiersmen themselves. We may well trust Rufus Putnam, whose federalism and devotion to his country had been proved and whose work in founding New England's settlement at Marietta is well known, when he wrote in 1790 in answer to Fisher Ames's question whether the Mississippi Valley could be retained in the Union: "Should Congress give up her claim to the navigation of the Mississippi or cede it to the Spaniards, I believe the people in the Western quarter would separate themselves from the United States very soon. Such a measure, I have no doubt, would excite so much rage and dissatisfaction that the people would sooner put themselves under the despotic government of Spain than remain the indented servants of Congress." He added that if Congress did not afford due protection also to these western settlers they might turn to England or Spain.6

Prior to the railroad the Mississippi Valley was potentially the basis for an independent empire, in spite of the fact that its population would inevitably be drawn from the Eastern States. Its natural outlet was down the current to the Gulf. New Orleans controlled the Valley, in the words of Wilkinson, "as the key the lock, or the citadel the outworks." So long as the Mississippi Valley was menaced, or in part controlled, by rival European states, just so long must the United States be a part of the state system of Europe, involved in its fortunes. And particularly was this the case in view of the fact that until the Union made internal commerce, based upon the Mississippi Valley, its dominant economic interest, the merchants and sailors of the northeastern States and the staple producers of the southern sea-board were a commercial appanage of Europe. The significance of the Mississippi Valley was clearly seen by Jefferson. Writing to Livingston in 1802 he declared:

There is on the globe one single spot, the possessor of which is our natural and habitual enemy. It is New Orleans, through which the produce of three-eights of our territory must pass to market, and from its fertility it will ere long yield more than half of our whole produce and contain more than half of our inhabitants.... The day that France takes possession of New Orleans fixes the sentence which is to restrain her within her low-water mark. It seals the union of two nations who in conjunction can maintain exclusive possession of the ocean. From that moment we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation . . . holding the two continents of America in sequestration for the common purposes of the united British and American nations. 7

The acquisition of Louisiana was a recognition of the essential unity of the Mississippi Valley. The French engineer Collot reported to his government after an investigation in 1796:

All the positions on the left [east] bank of the Mississippi . . . without the alliance of the Western states are far from covering Louisiana.... When two nations possess, one the coasts and the other the plains, the former must inevitably embark or submit. From thence I conclude that the Western States of the North American republic must unite themselves with Louisiana and form in the future one single compact nation; or else that colony to whatever power it shall belong will be conquered or devoured.

The effect of bringing political unity to the Mississippi Valley by the Louisiana Purchase was profound. It was the decisive step of the United States on an independent career as a world power, free from entangling foreign alliances. The victories of Harrison in the Northwest, in the War of 1812 that followed, ensured our expansion in the northern half of the Valley. Jackson's triumphal march to the Gulf and his defense of New Orleans in the same war won the basis for that Cotton Kingdom, so important in the economic life of the nation and so pregnant with the issue of slavery.8 The acquisition of Florida, Texas, and the Far West followed naturally. Not only was the nation set on an independent path in foreign relations; its political system was revolutionized, for the Mississippi Valley now opened the way for adding State after State, swamping the New England section and its Federalism. The doctrine of strict construction had received a fatal blow at the hands of its own prophet. The old conception of historic sovereign States, makers of a federation, was shattered by this vast addition of raw material for an indefinite number of parallelograms called States, nursed through a Territorial period by the Federal government, admitted under conditions, and animated by national rather than by State patriotism.

The area of the nation had been so enlarged and the development of the internal resources so promoted, by the acquisition of the whole course of the mighty river, its tributaries and its outlet, that the Atlantic coast soon turned its economic energies from the sea to the interior. Cities and sections began to struggle for ascendancy over its industrial life. A real national activity, a genuine American culture began. The vast spaces, the huge natural resources, of the Valley demanded exploitation and population. Later there came the tide of foreign immigration which has risen so steadily that it has made a composite American people whose amalgamation is destined to produce a new national stock.

But without attempting to exhaust, or even to indicate, all the effects of the Louisiana Purchase, I wish next to ask your attention to the significance of the Mississippi Valley in the promotion of democracy and the transfer of the political center of gravity in the nation. The Mississippi Valley has been the especial home of democracy. Born of free land and the pioneer spirit, nurtured in the ideas of the Revolution and finding free play for these ideas in the freedom of the wilderness, democracy showed itself in the earliest utterances of the men of the Western Waters and it has persisted there. The demand for local self-government, which was insistent on the frontier, and the endorsement given by the Alleghanies to these demands led to the creation of a system of independent Western governments and to the Ordinance of 1787, an original contribution to colonial policy. This was framed in the period when any rigorous subjection of the West to Eastern rule would have endangered the ties that bound them to the Union itself. In the Constitutional Convention prominent Eastern statesmen expressed their fears of the Western democracy and would have checked its ability to out vote the regions of property by limiting its political power, so that it should never equal that of the Atlantic coast. But more liberal counsels prevailed. In the first debates upon the public lands, also, it was clearly stated that the social system of the nation was involved quite as much as the question of revenue. Eastern fears that cheap lands in abundance would depopulate the Atlantic States and check their industrial growth by a scarcity of labor supply were met by the answer of one of the representatives in 1796:

I question if any man would be hardy enough to point out a class of citizens by name that ought to be the servants of the community; yet unless that is done to what class of the People could you direct such a law? But if you passed such an act [limiting the area offered for sale in the Mississippi Valley], it would be tantamount to saying that there is some class which must remain here, and by law be obliged to serve the others for such wages as they please to give.

Gallatin showed his comprehension of the basis of the prosperous American democracy in the same debate when he said:

If the cause of the happiness of this country was examined into, it would be found to arise as much from the great plenty of land in proportion to the inhabitants, which their citizens enjoyed as from the wisdom of their political institutions.

Out of this frontier democratic society where the freedom and abundance of land in the great Valley opened a refuge to the oppressed in all regions, came the Jacksonian democracy which governed the nation after the downfall of the party of John Quincy Adams. Its center rested in Tennessee, the region from which so large a portion of the Mississippi Valley was settled by descendants of the men of the Upland South The rule of the Mississippi Valley is seen when we recall the place that Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri held in both parties. Besides Jackson, Clay, Harrison and Polk, we count such presidential candidates as Hugh White and John Bell, Vice President R. M. Johnson, Grundy, the chairman of the finance committee, and Benton, the champion of western radicalism.

It was in this same period, and largely by reason of the drainage of population to the West, and the stir in the air raised by the Western winds of Jacksonian democracy, that most of the older States reconstructed their constitutions on a more democratic basis. From the Mississippi Valley where there were liberal suffrage provisions (based on population alone instead of property and population), disregard of vested interests, and insistence on the rights of man, came the inspiration for this era of change in the franchise and apportionment, of reform of laws for imprisonment for debt, of general attacks upon monopoly and privilege. "It is now plain," wrote Jackson in 1837, "that the war is to be carried on by the monied aristocracy of the few against the democracy of numbers; the [prosperous] to make the honest laborers hewers of wood and drawers of water . . . through the credit and paper system."

By this time the Mississippi Valley had grown in population and political power so that it ranked with the older sections. The next indication of its significance in American history which I shall mention is its position in shaping the economic and political course of the nation between the close of the War of 1812 and the slavery struggle. In 1790 the Mississippi Valley had a population of about a hundred thousand, or one-fortieth of that of the United States as a whole; by 1810 it had over a million, or one-seventh; by 1830 it had three and two-thirds millions, or over one-fourth; by 1840 over six millions, more than one-third. While the Atlantic coast increased only a million and a half souls between 1830 and 1840, the Mississippi Valley gained nearly three millions. Ohio (virgin wilderness in 1790) was, half a century later, nearly as populous as Pennsylvania and twice as populous as Massachusetts. While Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina were gaining 60,000 souls between 1830 and 1840, Illinois gained 318,000. Indeed, the growth of this State alone excelled that of the entire South Atlantic States.

These figures show the significance of the Mississippi Valley in its pressure upon the older section by the competition of its cheap lands, its abundant harvests, and its drainage of the labor supply. All of these things meant an upward lift to the Eastern wage earner. But they meant also an increase of political power in the Valley. Before the War of 1812 the Mississippi Valley had six senators, New England ten, the Middle States ten, and the South eight. By 1840 the Mississippi Valley had twenty-two senators, double those of the Middle States and New England combined, and nearly three times as many as the Old South; while in the House of Representatives the Mississippi Valley outweighed any one of the old sections. In 1810 it had less than one-third the power of New England and the South together in the House. In 1840 it outweighed them both combined and because of its special circumstances it held the balance of power.

While the Mississippi Valley thus rose to superior political power as compared with any of the old sections, its economic development made it the inciting factor in the industrial life of the nation. After the War of 1812 the steamboat revolutionized the transportation facilities of the Mississippi Valley. In each economic area a surplus formed, demanding an outlet and demanding returns in manufactures. The spread of cotton into the lower Mississippi Valley and the Gulf Plains had a double significance. This transfer of the center of cotton production away from the Atlantic South not only brought increasing hardship and increasing unrest to the East as the competition of the virgin soils depressed Atlantic land values and made Eastern labor increasingly dear, but the price of cotton fell also in due proportion to the increase in production by the Mississippi Valley. While the transfer of economic power from the Seaboard South to the Cotton Kingdom of the lower Mississippi Valley was in progress, the upper Mississippi Valley was leaping forward, partly under the stimulus of a market for its surplus in the plantations of the South, where almost exclusive cultivation of the great staples resulted in a lack of foodstuffs and livestock.

At the same time the great river and its affluents became the highway of a commerce that reached to the West Indies, the Atlantic Coast, Europe, and South America. The Mississippi Valley was an industrial entity, from Pittsburgh and Santa Fé to New Orleans. It became the most important influence in American politics and industry. Washington had declared in 1784 that it was the part of wisdom for Virginia to bind the West to the East by ties of interest through internal improvement thereby taking advantage of the extensive and valuable trade of a rising empire.

This realization of the fact that an economic empire was growing up beyond the mountains stimulated rival cities, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, to engage in a struggle to supply the West with goods and receive its products. This resulted in an attempt to break down the barrier of the Alleghanies by internal improvements. The movement became especially active after the War of 1812, when New York carried out De Witt Clinton's vast conception of making by the Erie Canal a greater Hudson which should drain to the port of New York all the basin of the Great Lakes, and by means of other canals even divert the traffic from the tributaries of the Mississippi. New York City's commercial ascendancy dates from this connection with interior New York and the Mississippi Valley. A writer in Hunt's Merchants' Magazine in 1869 makes the significance of this clearer by these words:

There was a period in the history of the seaboard cities when there was no West; and when the Alleghany Mountains formed the frontier of settlement and agricultural production. During that epoch the seaboard cities, North and South, grew in proportion to the extent and fertility of the country in their rear; and as Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia were more productive in staples valuable to commerce than the colonies north of them, the cities of Baltimore, Norfolk, Charleston, and Savannah enjoyed a greater trade and experienced a larger growth than those on the northern seaboard.

He, then, classifies the periods of city development into three: (1) the provincial, limited to the Atlantic seaboard; (2) that of canal and turnpike connected with the Mississippi Valley; and (3) that of railroad connection. Thus he was able to show how Norfolk, for example, was shut off from the enriching currents of interior trade and was outstripped by New York. The efforts of Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston, and Savannah to divert the trade of the Mississippi system to their own ports on the Atlantic, and the rise or fall of these cities in proportion as they succeeded are a sufficient indication of the meaning of the Mississippi Valley in American industrial life. What colonial empire has been for London that the Mississippi Valley is to the seaboard cities of the United States, awakening visions of industrial empire, systematic control of vast spaces, producing the American type of the captain of industry.

It was not alone city rivalry that converged upon the Mississippi Valley and sought its alliance. Sectional rivalry likewise saw that the balance of power possessed by the interior furnished an opportunity for combinations. This was a fundamental feature of Calhoun's policy when he urged the seaboard South to complete a railroad system to tap the Northwest. As Washington had hoped to make western trade seek its outlet in Virginia and build up the industrial power of the Old Dominion by enriching intercourse with the Mississippi Valley, as Monroe wished to bind the West to Virginia's political interests; and as De Witt Clinton wished to attach it to New York, so Calhoun and Hayne would make "Georgia and Carolina the commercial center of the Union, and the two most powerful and influential members of the confederacy," by draining the Mississippi Valley to their ports. "I believe," said Calhoun, " that the success of a connection of the West is of the last importance to us politically and commercially.... I do verily believe that Charleston has more advantages in her position for the Western trade, than any city on the Atlantic, but to develop them we ought to look to the Tennessee instead of the Ohio, and much farther to the West than Cincinnati or Lexington."

This was the secret of Calhoun's advocacy in 1836 and 1837 both of the distribution of the surplus revenue and of the cession of the public lands to the States in which they lay, as an inducement to the West to ally itself with Southern policies; and it is the key to the readiness of Calhoun, even after he lost his nationalism, to promote internal improvements which would foster the southward current of trade on the Mississippi.

Without going into details, I may simply call your attention to the fact that Clay's whole system of internal improvements and tariff was based upon the place of the Mississippi Valley in American life. It was the upper part of the Valley, and especially the Ohio Valley, that furnished the votes which carried the tariffs of 1816, 1824, and 1828. Its interests profoundly influenced the details of those tariffs and its need of internal improvement constituted a basis for sectional bargaining in all the constructive legislation after the War of 1812. New England, the Middle Region, and the South each sought alliance with the growing section beyond the mountains. American legislation bears the enduring evidence of these alliances. Even the National Bank found in this Valley the main sphere of its business. The nation had turned its energies to internal exploitation, and sections contended for the economic and political power derived from connection with the interior.

But already the Mississippi Valley was beginning to stratify, both socially and geographically. As the railroads pushed across the mountains, the tide of New England and New York colonists and German immigrants sought the basin of the Great Lakes and the Upper Mississippi. A distinct zone, industrially and socially connected with New England, was forming. The railroad reinforced the Erie Canal and, as De Bow put it, turned back the tide of the Father of Waters so that its outlet was in New York instead of New Orleans for a large part of the Valley. Below the Northern zone was the border zone of the Upland South, the region of compromise, including both banks of the Ohio and the Missouri and reaching down to the hills on the north of the Gulf Plains. The Cotton Kingdom based on slavery found its center in the fertile soils along the Lower Mississippi and the black prairies of Georgia and Alabama, and was settled largely by planters from the old cotton lands of the Atlantic States. The Mississippi Valley had rejuvenated slavery, had given it an aggressive tone characteristic of Western life.

Thus the Valley found itself in the midst of the slavery struggle at the very time when its own society had lost homogeneity. Let us allow two leaders, one of the South and one of the North, to describe the situation; and, first, let the South speak. Said Hammond, of South Carolina,9 in a speech in the Senate on March 4, 1858:

I think it not improper that I should attempt to bring the North and South face to face, and see what resources each of us might have in the contingency of separate organizations.

Through the heart of our country runs the great Mississippi, the father of waters, into whose bosom are poured thirty-six thousand miles of tributary streams; and beyond we have the desert prairie wastes to protect us in our rear. Can you hem in such a territory as that? You talk of putting up a wall of fire around eight hundred and fifty thousand miles so situated! How absurd.

But in this territory lies the great valley of the Mississippi, now the real and soon to be the acknowledged seat of the empire of the world. The sway of that valley will be as great as ever the Nile knew in the earlier ages of mankind. We own the most of it. The most valuable part of it belongs to us now; and although those who have settled above us are now opposed to us, another generation will tell a different tale. They are ours by all the laws of nature; slave labor will go to every foot of this great valley where it will be found profitable to use it, and some of those who may not use it are soon to be united with us by such ties as will make us one and inseparable. The iron horse will soon be clattering over the sunny plains of the South to bear the products of its upper tributaries to our Atlantic ports, as it now does through the ice-bound North. There is the great Mississippi, bond of union made by nature herself. She will maintain it forever.

As the Seaboard South had transferred the mantle of leadership to Tennessee and then to the Cotton Kingdom of the Lower Mississippi, so New England and New York resigned their command to the northern half of the Mississippi Valley and the basin of the Great Lakes. Seward, the old-time leader of the Eastern Whigs who had just lost the Republican nomination for the presidency to Lincoln, may rightfully speak for the Northeast. In the fall of 1860, addressing an audience at Madison, Wisconsin, he declared:10

The empire established at Washington is of less than a hundred years' formation. It was the empire of thirteen Atlantic states. Still, practically, the mission of that empire is fulfilled. The power that directs it is ready to pass away from those thirteen states, and although held and exercised under the same constitution and national form of government, yet it is now in the very act of being transferred from the thirteen states east of the Alleghany mountains and on the coast of the Atlantic ocean, to the twenty states that lie west of the Alleghanies, and stretch away from their base to the base of the Rocky mountains on the West, and you are the heirs to it. When the next census shall reveal your power, you will be found to be the masters of the United States of America, and through them the dominating political power of the world.

Appealing to the Northwest on the slavery issue Seward declared:

The whole responsibility rests henceforth directly or indirectly on the people of the Northwest. . . . There can be no virtue in commercial and manufacturing communities to maintain a democracy, when the democracy themselves do not want a democracy. There is no virtue in Pearl street, in Wall street, in Court street, in Chestnut street, in any other street of great commercial cities, that can save the great democratic government of ours, when you cease to uphold it with your intelligent votes, your strong and mighty hands. You must, therefore, lead us as we heretofore reserved and prepared the way for you. We resign to you the banner of human rights and human liberty, on this continent, and we bid you be firm, bold and onward and then you may hope that we will be able to fol low you.

When we survey the course of the slavery struggle in the United States it is clear that the form-the question took was due to the Mississippi Valley. The Ordinance of 1787, the Missouri Compromise, the Texas question, the Free Soil agitation, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska bill, the Dred Scott decision, "bleeding Kansas"--these are all Mississippi Valley questions and the mere enumeration makes it plain that it was the Mississippi Valley as an area for expansion which gave the slavery issue its significance in American history. But for this field of expansion, slavery might have fulfilled the expectation of the fathers and gradually died away.

Of the significance of the Mississippi Valley in the Civil War, it is unnecessary that I should speak. Illinois gave to the North its President; Mississippi gave to the South its President. Lincoln and Davis were both born in Kentucky. Grant and Sherman, the northern generals, came from the Mississippi Valley; and both of them believed that when Vicksburg fell the cause of the South was lost, and so it must have been if the Confederacy had been unable, after victories in the East, to regain the Father of Waters; for, as General Sherman said: "Whatever power holds that river can govern this continent."

With the close of the war political power passed for many years to the northern half of the Mississippi Valley, as the names of Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Harrison, and McKinley indicate. The population of the Valley grew from about fifteen millions in 1860 to over forty millions in 1900-over half the total population of the United States. The significance of its industrial growth is not likely to be overestimated or overlooked. On its northern border, from near Minnesota's boundary line, through the Great Lakes to Pittsburgh, on its eastern edge, runs a huge movement of iron from mine to factory. This industry is basal in American life, and it has revolutionized the industry of the world. The United States produces pig iron and steel in amount equal to her two greatest competitors combined, and the iron ores for this product are chiefly in the Mississippi Valley. It is the chief producer of coal, thereby enabling the United States almost to equal the combined production of Germany and Great Britain; and great oil fields of the nation are in its midst. Its huge crops of wheat and corn and its cattle are the main resources for the United States and are drawn upon by Europe. Its cotton furnishes two-thirds of the world's factory supply. Its railroad system constitutes the greatest transportation network in the world. Again it is seeking industrial consolidation by demanding improvement of its vast water system as a unit. If this design, favored by Roosevelt, shall at some time be accomplished, again the bulk of the commerce of the Valley may flow along the old routes to New Orleans; and to Galveston by the development of southern railroad outlets after the building of the Panama Canal. For the development and exploitation of these and of the transportation and trade interests of the Middle West, Eastern capital has been consolidated into huge corporations, trusts, and combinations. With the influx of capital, and the rise of cities and manufactures, portions of the Mississippi Valley have become assimilated with the East. With the end of the era of free lands the basis of its democratic society is passing away.

The final topic on which I shall briefly comment in this discussion of the significance of the Mississippi Valley in American history is a corollary of this condition. Has the Mississippi Valley a permanent contribution to make to American society, or is it to be adjusted into a type characteristically Eastern and European? In other words, has the United States itself an original contribution to make to the history of society? This is what it comes to. The most significant fact in the Mississippi Valley is its ideals. Here has been developed, not by revolutionary theory, but by growth among free opportunities, the conception of a vast democracy made up of mobile ascending individuals, conscious of their power and their responsibilities. Can these ideals of individualism and democracy be reconciled and applied to the twentieth century type of civilization?

Other nations have been rich and prosperous and powerful, art-loving and empire-building. No other nation on a vast scale has been controlled by a self-conscious, self-restrained democracy in the interests of progress and freedom, industrial as well as political. It is in the vast and level spaces of the Mississippi Valley, if anywhere, that the forces of social transformation and the modification of its democratic ideals may be arrested.

Beginning with competitive individualism, as well as with belief in equality, the farmers of the Mississippi Valley gradually learned that unrestrained competition and combination meant the triumph of the strongest, the seizure in the interest of a dominant class of the strategic points of the nation's life. They learned that between the ideal of individualism, unrestrained by society, and the ideal of democracy, was an innate conflict; that their very ambitions and forcefulness had endangered their democracy. The significance of the Mississippi Valley in American history has lain partly in the fact that it was a region of revolt. Here have arisen varied, sometimes ill considered, but always devoted, movements for ameliorating the lot of the common man in the interests of democracy. Out of the Mississippi Valley have come successive and related tidal waves of popular demand for real or imagined legislative safeguards to their rights and their social ideals. The Granger movement, the Greenback movement, the Populist movement, Bryan Democracy, and Roosevelt Republicanism all found their greatest strength in the Mississippi Valley. They were Mississippi Valley ideals in action. Its people were learning by experiment and experience how to grapple with the fundamental problem of creating a just social order that shall sustain the free, progressive, individual in a real democracy. The Mississippi Valley is asking, "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"

The Mississippi Valley has furnished a new social order to America. Its universities have set new types of institutions for social service and for the elevation of the plain people. Its historians should recount its old ambitions, and inventory its ideals, as well as its resources, for the information of the present age, to the end that building on its past, the mighty Valley may have a significance in the life of the nation even more profound than any which I have recounted.

Footnotes: Chapter VI

1 Proceedings of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association for 1909-10. Reprinted with the permission of the Association.

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2 Harper's Magazine, February, 1900, p. 413.

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3 Roosevelt, "The Northwest in the Nation," in "Proceedings of the Wisconsin Historical Society," Fortieth Annual Meeting, p. 92.

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4"Franklin's Works," iv, p. 141.

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5 [See the author's paper in American Historical Review, x, p. 245.]

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6 Cutler's "Cutler," ii, p. 372.

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7"Jefferson's Works,'' iv, p. 431.

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8[See on the Cotton Kingdom, U. B. Phillips, "History of Slavery"; W. G. Brown, "Lower South"; W. E. Dodd, "Expansion and Conflict''; F. J. Turner, "New West."]

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9 "Congressional Globe," 35th Congress, First Session, Appendix, p. 70.

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10"Seward's Works" (Boston, 1884), iv, p. 319.

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