Henry Livingston, Jr.
Sidney Breese

Transcription - Illinois State Archives
Chief Justice Sidney Breese Collection

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 U. states.

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


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