How to Revive Industry
April 17, 1867
Richmond and Virginia are struggling in the industry business and making a profit. All the resources are available, and that is why the people of Virginia are trying to figure out the best method of dividing up land to find better ways to prosper.
We can never prosper until we produce more than we consume. An agricultural people can readily do this with the proper effort, and such we ought to be in an emineat degree. It will take time; but we are sure of success if we go to work in the right way. Virginia wants immigration, and she will be poor until it comes. We don't want paupers nor drones; not mere laborers without money, but thrifty farmers. Honest, industrious men, with their families, and the means to buy small farms and stock them. It matters not whether they come from New England or Old England; nor is it important whether they settle on tidewater or in the Piedmont country, so they come and bring their goal. The lands of Virginia must be and will be subdivided, and sold at low, living, and reasonable prices, so that the immigrants will find a cheap home in a civilized community, so much better for him than to settle where everything is wild and rude. The great West has been built up in this way, and it is the only plan. Men of wealth who have heretofore held hundreds and thousands of acres of land cannot cultivate them as formerly. The system of labor is changed, and we must change with it. Realize this and the work is begun. There is plenty of work for the poor; and none need suffer, if they are ready to take hold of it. Till the soil, produce from the earth what is wanted for sustenance, never mind reconstruction and the currency, one will come after a little, and the other is amply good for present purposes, if we can get enough of it. It is of no use to build fine stores and fill them with goods for people who have no money to buy. Rents cannot be afforded, the goods decline in value, and loss is a certainty. It is idle to build mills and talk of manufacturing until we produce the material necessary to sustain them. Of what use are barns if we have nothing to put in them? Our wealth is in the soil, and we must dig it out, or we shall always be poor. If we would make the same efforts to induce good farmers to come among us and aid in cultivating our lands that we do to get northern capital to loan to each other at enormous interest, or build fine stores to be soon sold at heavy loss, we should be happier and better oil. If we would sustain Richmond as it is even, we must build up the country which trades to it; and the only way to do that is to encourage and bring immigrants of the best kind among us. Every citizen of the State is interested in doing this. We must be moderate in our demands for our lands, and our railroad companies must be willing to transport newcomers at reduced rates. Do all that we can to secure immigration. That is what we want, and we cannot get on without it. If a man has 1,000 acres of land in one body to sell, let him divide it, and sell in five or ten tracts, so that poor people can buy. Inaugurate this system, and we shall find a good result.
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“How to Revive Industry,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed November 19, 2017, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/576.