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nearly one-half. Men shrink at the eighty days in a canoe, when they will jump at the twelve in a steamer.
The steamer will also increase commerce and trade by creating artificial wants; men will travel who did not travel before; articles of luxury-such as Yankee clocks, cheap musical instruments, &c.—will be introduced, and the Indians will work to obtain them; and, in short, when the wonders that the steamboat and railroad have accomplished are taken into consideration, I shall not be thought rash in predicting that in one year from the time of the appearance of the steamer Arebalo's twenty thousand dollars will be made forty thousand.
Thus we shall have twenty thousand dollars' worth of goods going up from Loreto to Chasuta, paying at least one hundred per cent.; and twenty thousand dollars going down, paying another hundred per cent.; giving to the steamboat company (who would monopolize the trade) forty thousand dollars a year, against twenty thousand dollars of expenses.
There would be no difficulty in getting a supply of fuel. My Peruvian steamer would have to make her way slowly up, for the first time, by collecting and cutting up the abundant drift-wood on the islands; but she could readily contract with the governors of the thirtysix villages between Pará and Chasuta for a regular supply. The Brazilian government has an organized and enlisted corps of laborers, under the orders of the military commandants, and I should suppose would be willing to employ them in furnishing wood, on account of the great advantages to be derived from the increase of trade. The Indians of the Peruvian villages are entirely obedient to their governors; and a sufficient number of them may be always had, at wages of twelve and a half cents per day, with about three cents more for their maintenance. This amount of wages may be reduced one-half by paying them in articles for their consumption, bought at Pará or brought from the United States.
The only difficulty that I have in my calculations is that I know there are not forty thousand dollars in the whole province; its productions must find their way to the Pacific, on the one hand, and to the Atlantic, on the other, before they can be converted into money. My steamer, therefore, to be enabled to buy and sell, must communicate at Loreto with a larger steamer, plying between that place and Barra, at the mouth of the Rio Negro, a distance of eight hundred and forty miles; and this with another still larger, between Barra and Pará, a distance of a thousand miles.
These three steamers (however much I may be out in
regarding the one confined to Peruvian territory) could not fail to enrich their owners; for they would entirely monopolize the trade of the river, which is fairly measured by the imports and exports of Pará, which amounted in 1851 to two millions of dollars.
These two millions are now brought down to Pará, and carried away from Pará, (with the exception of what is consumed in the city,) by clumsy, inefficient river-craft, which would vanish from the main stream at the first triumphant whistle of the engine. These would, however, until the profits justified the putting on of more steamers, find ample employment in bringing down and depositing upon the banks of the main stream the productions of the great tributaries.
I can imagine the waking-up of the people on the event of the establishment of steamboat navigation on the Amazon. I fancy I can hear the crash of the forest falling to make room for the cultivation of cotton, cocoa, rice, and sugar, and the sharp shriek of the saw, cutting into boards the beautiful and valuable woods of the country; that I can see the gatherers of India-rubber and copaiba redoubling their efforts, to be enabled to purchase the new and convenient things that shall be presented at the doors of their huts in the wilderness; and even the wild Indian finding the way from his pathless forests to the steamboat depot to exchange his collections of vanilla, spices, dyes, drugs, and gums, for the things that would take his fancy-ribbons, beads, bells, mirrors, and gay trinkets.
Brazil and Peru have entered into arrangements, and bound themselves by treaty, to appropriate money towards the establishment of steamboat navigation on the Amazon. This is well. It is doing something towards progress; but it is the progress of a denizen of their own forests the sloth. Were they to follow the example lately set by the republics of the La Plata, and throw open their rivers to the commerce of the world, then the march of improvement would be commensurate with the importance of the act; and these countries would grow in riches and power with the rapidity of the vegetation of their own most fertile lands.
We, more than any other people, are interested in the opening of this navigation. As has been before stated, the trade of this region must pass by our doors, and mingle and exchange with the products of our Mississippi valley. I am permitted to take extracts bearing upon this subject from a letter of an eminent American citizen resident in Lima to the Superintendent of the National Observatory, whose papers upon the Amazon, its resources and future importance, have attracted the attention, not only of our own people, but that of those who dwell or
have territorial possessions upon this great water-shed; and to whom belongs the honor of originating the mission upon which I have been engaged.
This gentleman in Lima, whose comprehensive mind and ripe judgment had been attracted to the subject by Maury's pen, says to the Lieutenant, under date of July, 1852:
"Since I last wrote to you, I have made the acquaintance of Don a native of Chili, and whom Gibbon saw at Cochabamba, in Bolivia. This is undoubtedly a clever man; but I suspect that he has also come to act as a secret agent of Belzu, the President of Bolivia. However that may be, he pretends that Belzu is favorably disposed towards us, and would grant privileges to a steam navigation company were application made to him in due form. As I know of no other individual in Bolivia with whom I could communicate on the subject of Amazonian navigation, I did not hesitate to make use of him; for, in my opinion, there is no time to be lost if the United States intend to secure the interior trade of South America for its citizens.
"Don declares that the Mamoré is navigable for steamers from a point near Cochabamba to its confluence with the Guaporé or Itenez, and so onward to the junction of the latter with the Beni-forming together the Rio Madeira; that the Cachuelas,' or falls of the Madeira, are neither impassable nor formidable, and may be easily ascended by steamers, as there is plenty of water and no rocks. To prove this, he asserts that a Brazilian schooner ascended the Mamoré to Trinidad, and fired a salute at that place, about two years ago. After passing the falls, the river is, of course, navigable to the Amazon. Admitting this statement of Don to be true, (and I am inclined to believe it, as the Brazilians constantly ascend the Itenez to Matto Grosso,) there is open navigation from Pará to within a few leagues of Cochabamba, at least two thousand miles; and this is not so incredible when we consider the length of navigation on the Missouri river. The accessibility of the Bolivian rivers will, however, be ascertained with greater certainty after Gibbon has passed through the Cachuelas of the Madeira, as it is to be hoped that he will sound, and otherwise minutely examine, the different rapids of that river, and correct the errors which Don says are in the chart made by a copy of which I sent you by Mr. O'Brian for Herndon.
66 The account Don
gives of the products of the country lying on the banks of the Mamoré is very glowing. He says that the richest cocoa and coffee grow almost wild, and that the greatest part of the former is consumed by the monkeys and birds, for the want of means
of transporting it to a market. Sugar-cane of gigantic dimensions is found everywhere, with white and yellow cotton of a staple equal to Sea Island. Several kinds of cascarilla grow in abundance, as also sarsaparilla and gums, ornamental and other woods, and honey and wax, in immense quantities. Crossing the Mamoré from Exaltacion to the southwest, you arrive at the river Machuno, which, according to Don is a small 'Pactolus;' and he assures me that the whole country between the Mamoré and the Itenez, from latitude 14° to the north, is a gold district as rich as California.
"My opinion decidedly is, that the whole country traversed by the rivers issuing from the slope of the Eastern Cordillera, from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, in Bolivia, to the mouth of the Ucayali, in Peru, is one immense gold and silver region; gold being found in the flats near the rivers, and silver in the mountains. I will venture to predict that the same region contains diamonds and other precious stones, some of which are probably unknown to the lapidary at present. The silver mines of Carabaya were immensely productive when worked by Salcedo-so much so, that the vice-regal government trumped up an accusation against him, tried him, and ordered his execution to obtain possession of the mines by confiscation. The attempt failed, as the Indians, who were devoted to Salcedo, refused to give any information to the government respecting the mines; and they have remained unworked up to the present time.
"Gold is known to exist in considerable quantities at Carabaya, and in the Pampa del Sacramento. I have seen specimens from the former place; but gold is the least attraction for emigration to Bolivia; the soil and its products are the source from which the wanderers from foreign lands are to find plenty and happiness. The climate is said to be good, and the Indians, except upon the lower part of the Beni, peaceable and well-disposed to the whites. In short, according to Don the
east of Bolivia affords the greatest sphere for trade and colonization.
"For myself, I feel full of this vast subject; for I know that within less than one hundred leagues of me is the margin of those great solitudes replete with riches, and occupying the wild space where millions of the human race might dwell in plenty and happiness; where nature annually wastes more than would support the population of China in comfort; and where the most luxurious fruits and fairest flowers grow and bloom unknown and unnoticed. When I reflect on this, and on the miles of rivers rolling on in silence and neglect, I feel doubly the want