November 25, 1833: A letter from America
[The Star]: The following letter, dated September 23rd, 1833, written by a young man who left this island for the United States in the spring of the year, has been handed to us for insertion by one of his friends who recently received it. We give it insertion without of course pledging our faith to the correctness of the statements which it contains:
DEAR SIR,—when I left Guernsey I promised to write you on the state of things in America: I have delayed writing till now, because I could not give you a fair idea of the country on my arrival. We arrived at New York on the 6th May, being thirty-seven days after our departure from the island. On my arrival at this celebrated city, I was particularly struck at the appearance of so many fine vessels, and the great bustle on the quays in loading and unloading them. Business of all kinds was very brisk. The buildings are most excellent, both in appearance and workmanship. When our vessel came near the Docks, persons of all trades came on board for hands, and more particularly for servants. I engaged myself with an eminent tradesman of Newark as a foreman in the painting department. This place is twelve miles from New York, and is one of the prettiest towns I ever saw; it is situated on a level and has a good harbour. There are two steamers which ply daily from hence to the city, besides twelve coaches and the mail, so that there is a constant communication between the two places. About twenty years since the number of inhabitants in Newark were about 1,500, but now are about 15,000. It is intended to be a city, as 500 houses are regularly built every year, and are readily occupied; a great part of them are frame houses, but magnificently built.
I will now give you a sketch of the probable number of mechanics in this place. Shoemakers, 1400; coachmakers, 700; tailors and tailoresses, 1000; hatters, 600; saddlers, 200; trunkmakers, 200; carpenters, masons, and bricklayers, I have no present means of knowing the number. Great quantities of goods are sent to the south. We have here foundries, factories, and trades of every other description suited to the town. Good wages are given to good workmen, and in particular trades the best workmen can earn from 12 to 20 dollars per week, and some others have very high prices paid to them: even a labourer can get 4s 6d English per day for his work. The climate is good; the heat in Summer is extreme in exposed situations. Provisions in this country are very cheap; we can live for about one half what you can in England;—and as for fruit we can serve ourselves, as grapes, strawberries, cherries, &c, &c, grow wild, therefore if we take a walk in the woods we can obtain plenty. Shooting here is free for everyone; woodcocks, snipes, pigeons, ducks, and all other kinds of birds in great plenty. This is an independent country, where we never fall in with a gamekeeper. The pigeons here are very large and fine tasted; you can buy them at about twopence each, and the same price is given for woodcocks, ducks, and other birds about that size. The price of a good fowl is sixpence, and other things in the market proportionate. Apples are so very plentiful, that when passing the orchards you can take as many as you please, and nuts are equally abundant.
There are a great many steamers daily going to and from the city of New York; some of them have four engines, the machinery of most of them is on the deck. They look like floating castles. Some of the rivers run 1,500 miles through the country, and by this means the back settlements are peopling very fast. Clothes, shoes and female dresses are dearer than in England. I have commenced business for myself with every propsect of success. I intend purchasing a farm the next Spring, and manage it besides my own trade: we are all well and comfortable.
I remain, yours sincerely, **