George Townes is writing a letter to his father to try to get him to
move to Alabama. In the letter he keeps bragging about the west and
claiming how wonderful it is. He is excited about the new and mysterious
place and thinks it will be a great investment. Townes suggests a few
times in his letter that anyone can make a huge profit if they move out
there if they have the “right hands.” Throughout his letter he makes
several comments that refer to slaves and slavery. In the letter you can
tell that it is one of Townes top values in his life. Money is also one of
George Townes values. It is a common theme in his letter and an important
reason why he want people to move to Alabama.
There are many reasons for westward expansion in the United States at
this time. The cotton trade was taking off after Eli Whitney invented the
cotton gin. Cotton became one of the biggest cash crops of this time and
Alabama had great land for growing it.The depression of 1819 also caused
the price of federal land to drop from $2.00 an acre to $1.25 an acre and
reduced the minimum acreage from 160 in 1804 to 80 in 1820. Also after the
Louisiana Purchase and the invention of the steamboat, transportation was
no longer an extremely expensive task in the western territory.Railroads
were also starting to be constructed in the country and would soon expand
all the way to this region of the country.
Townes refers to slavery many times throughout his letter to his
father. He writes, “The very air swims with cotton and the men who have
the hands slaves will prosper quickly.” He is saying that someone who
has a lot of slaves will be able to make a lot of money in a short time.
“Slavery” is one word that could describe the south at this time. It was
the way of life for people who lived in the south in the early American
life. If you lived in the south and did not have any slaves you were at a
disadvantage to the rest of the population. Anyone with money could go buy
a large plantation and buy slaves to work on it.
The North had totally different views on slavery than the south did.
They thought that it was wrong to consider another being their property.
Townes states, “…they can not succeed as farmers or family if the flinch
at the working of negroes” while talking about a Yankee family. He
believes that if you do not believe in slavery you would not be able to
have a family and not become profitable in the South. This was a huge
conflict between the two regions of the country during this time period and
eventually led to the South seceding from the union and a Civil War.