During the progress of the war, as our armies penetrated the fertile portions of the “Confederacy,” many of our soldiers cast longing eyes at the prospective wealth around them. “When the war is over we will come here to live, and show these people something they never dreamed of,” was a frequent remark. Men born and reared in the extreme North, were amazed at the luxuriance of Southern verdure, and wondered that the richness of the soil had not been turned to greater advantage. It is often said in New England that no man who has once visited the fertile West ever returns to make his residence in the Eastern States. Many who have explored the South, and obtained a knowledge of its resources, will be equally reluctant to dwell in the regions where their boyhood days were passed.
While the war was in progress many Northern men purchased plantations on the islands along the Southern coast, and announced their determination to remain there permanently. After the capture of New Orleans, business in that city passed into the hands of Northerners, much to the chagrin of the older inhabitants. When the disposition of our army and the topography of the country made the lower portion of Louisiana secure against Rebel raids, many plantations in that locality were purchased outright by Northern speculators. I have elsewhere shown how the cotton culture was extensively carried on by “Yankees,” and that failure was not due to their inability to conduct the details of the enterprise.
Ten years ago, emigration to Kansas was highly popular. Aid Societies were organized in various localities, and the Territory was rapidly filled. Political influences had much to do with this emigration from both North and South, and many implements carried by the emigrants were not altogether agricultural in their character. The soil of Kansas was known to be fertile, and its climate excellent. The Territory presented attractions to settlers, apart from political considerations. But in going thither the emigrants crossed a region equally fertile, and possessing superior advantages in its proximity to a market. No State in the Union could boast of greater possibilities than Missouri, yet few travelers in search of a home ventured to settle within her limits.
The reason was apparent. Missouri was a slave State, though bounded on three sides by free soil. Few Northern emigrants desired to settle in the midst of slavery. The distinction between the ruling and laboring classes was not as great as in the cotton States, but there was a distinction beyond dispute. Whatever his blood or complexion, the man who labored with his hands was on a level, or nearly so, with the slave. Thousands passed up the Missouri River, or crossed the northern portion of the State, to settle in the new Territory of Kansas. When political influences ceased, the result was still the same. The Hannibal and St. Joseph Railway threw its valuable lands into the market, but with little success.