Poughkeepsie June 13th 1819
My very dear grandson Sidney Breese!
Your kind letter (which I ought to have answered long ago) was 33 days on its
passage from Kaskaskias to this place. When you receive this it is probable
your agriculturists will have finished their wheat harvests. Ever thing you
may say of your country is deeply interesting to us on the shores of the
Atlantic. If many of us as individuals never expect to see the banks of the
Mississipi, yet, if we have families a strong probability arises that some
of them may.
The European wave is hourly rolling upon us-- That wave added to the
American billow is as unremittingly flowing in upon you. The father of
rivers will not long be the barrier to this tide of imigration-- Perhaps
this generation will not pass away before the American white man will erect
his mansion in some vale among the rocky mountains, or perhaps regale on the
salmon of the Pacific ocean. By a New York spectator of the 11th instant
now lying on the table it appears that the emigrations from England this
season will be unusually extensive. From the port of Plymouth alone 1000
had sailed to the first of last month. From Hull many had gone & more
proposing to follow. On the last of April, from the same paper, 15 ships
were lying in Belfast & as many at Sandondary all up for passengers. Many
of these it is true in the first instance go up the St. Lawrence; take
possession perhaps of some frozen bounty areas & then hurry into the
But even if they remain in Canada, still they are ours. For in the very
next English contest (humanly speaking) Canada will become a member of the
Union-- Enlightened Englishmen know this very well, & enlightened Englishmen
cannot rapine at the idea, for it is well known that the Canada's are a
burden to the mother state. The peltry & fur traffic was never very
considerable & it is daily becoming less so. The only reason for holding
these provinces is its giving strengthing their hold on Newfoundland & the
fisheries on its banks. These fisheries to a maritime nation besure is a
momentous object. I wish your influential men would accomodate navigable
water to communicate with Lake Michigan, & to the Wabash as forming a water
line with the Erie. Our great western canal is progressing rapidly &
steadily-- No doubt is entertained of its entire completion in 3 more seasons
added to the present. The expense besure is great, but a great state
undoubtedly looks it in the face. Could you in 3 or 4 years carry your
Illinois or Wabash to the lake, old as I am I might in my own barge come
to your very door & bid you good morning. I am an old man & probably may be
too visionary. Mr. Kane & you are young and will live to see great events.
By the paper I yesterday recd I find that the U.S. ship Hornet arrived at
Cadiz on the 14th of April in the short time of 18 days from Boston. Your
brother I take it is on board of her-- She carried out W. Forsyth our minister
to the Court of Madrid. Your sister Catharine is still I believe in NYork &
we wish to expect her up here every day. Charles recd a letter from your
father Abt. 9 or 10 days since which announced health at home. Your papa
presses Kaskaskias upon him-- I too am not idle & he most ardently wishes it.
A few &tc &tc got by & he certain progresses. I know him to be an excellent
physician & surgeon & that he would do very well among you. Mr. Kane's
goodness I anticipate-- Of your lovely friendship there can be no doubt--
These added to his own merit I think would push him thro.
In your next please to give me a little statistical sketch of Kaskaskia--
number of dwellings, houses of worship & of what persuasians-- schools--
stores, & prices of dry & wet goods-- soil in the vicinity, & the time of
year when certain herbs & fruits ripen or come to maturity-- The degree of
extremest cold last winter & most intense heat this summer- Distance of the
village from the Mississipi-- Depth & width of the Kaskaskias & how far
navigable & with what sized boats. Particularly ascertain the distance from
your door to Lake Michigan, via Mississipi & Illinois. For I cannot
relinquish the idea that this woul at not a very distant day will cement the
union of our respective families. I verily believe that in less than 10
years a tour from Poughkeepsie to Kaskaskias will be mentioned with less
emotion than 40 years ago a voyage from Poughkeepsie to Newbury port would
have been contemplated.
Please to tell me what number of bushels of wheat, rye, barley, indian corn
& potatoes your farmers ordinarily get from an acre. Whether you ever saw
the wild aquatic rice that is found in some of your northwestern waters?
If it is procurable, some how or other send me a half a gill of it -- to be
deposited in some of our shallow ponds.
My girls & my boys & their parents love you very greatly. We are ever talking
of you & your letters create a holliday. My dear child be careful of
your personal health-- keep your conscious unsullied & the Great Being bless
you in life & during the Eternity that is fast approaching.
From your affectionate grandfather H. Livingston