The history of Columbia County, Wisconsin, containing an account of its settlement, growth, development and resources; an extensive and minute sketch of its cities, towns and villages--their improvements, industries, manufactories, churches, schools and societies; its war record, biographical sketches, portraits of prominent men and early settlers; the whole preceded by a history of Wisconsin, statistics of the state, and an abstract of its laws and constitution and of the constitution of the United States
Giles, H. H.
Commerce and manufactures, pp. -209 PDF (5.4 MB)
COMMERCE AND MANUFACTURES. By HON. H. H. GILES. The material philosophy of a people has to do with the practical and useful. It sees in iron, coal, cotton, wool, grain and the trees of the forest, the elements of personal comfort and sources of material greatness, and is applied to their development, production and fabrication for purposes of exchange, interchange and sale.. The early immigrants to Wisconsin territory found a land teeming with unsurpassed natural advantages; prairies, timber,' water and minerals, invit- ing the farmer, miner and lumberman, to come and build houses, furnaces, mills and factories. The first settlers were a food-producing people. The prairies and openings were ready for the plow. The ease with which farms were brought under cultivation, readily enabled the pioneer to supply the food necessary for himself and family, while a surplus was often produced in a few months. The hardships so often encountered in the settlement of a new country, where forests must be felled and stumps removed to prepare the soil for tillage, were scarcely known, or greatly mitigated. During the decade from 1835 to 1845, so great were the demands for the products of the soil, created by the tide of emigration, that the settlers found a home market for all their surplus products, and so easily were crops grown that, within a very brief time after the first emigration, but little was required from abroad. The commerce of the country was carried on by the exchange of products. The settlers (they could scarcely be called farmers) would exchange their wheat, corn, oats and pork for the goods, wares and fabrics of the village merchant. It was an age of barter; but they looked at the capabilities of the land they had come to possess, and, with firm faith, saw bright promises of better days in the building up of a great state. It is not designed to trace with minuteness the history of Wisconsin through the growth of its commercial and manufacturing interests. To do it justice would require a volume. The aim of this article will be to present a concise view of its present status. Allusion will only be incidentally made to stages of growth and progress by which it has been reached. Few states in the Union possess within their borders so many, and in such abundance, elements that contribute to the material prosperity of a ,people. Its soil of unsurpassed fertility; its inexhaustible mines of lead, copper, zinc and iron; its almost boundless forests; its water-powers, sufficient to drive the machinery of the world; its long lines of lake shore on two sides, and the " Father of waters " on another,- need but enterprise, energy and capital to utilize them in building an empire of wealth, where the hum of varied-industries shall be heard in the music of the sickle, the loom and-the anvil. The growth of manufacturing industries was slow during the first twenty-five years of our history. The early settlers were poor. Frequently the land they tilled was pledged to obtain means to pay for it. Capitalists obtained from twenty to thirty per cent. per annum for the use of their money. Indeed, it was the rule, under the free-trade ideas of the money-lenders for them to play the Shylock. While investments in bonds and mortgages were so profitable, few were ready'to improve the natural advantages the country presented for'building factories and work-shops.
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