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became commerce and all the modern processes of industrial development began to operate in this rising region, the Ohio Valley broke apart into the rival interests of the industrial forces (the town-makers and the business builders), on the one side and the old rural democracy of the uplands on the other. This division was symbolical of national processes. In the contest between these forces, Andrew Jackson was the champion of the cause of the upland democracy. He denounced the money power, banks and the whole credit system and sounded a fierce tocsin of danger against the increasing influence of wealth in politics. Henry Clay, on the other hand, represented the new industrial forces along the Ohio. It is certainly significant that in the rivalry between the great Whig of the Ohio Valley and the great Democrat of its Tennessee tributary lay the issues of American politics almost until the slavery struggle. The responsiveness of the Ohio Valley to leadership and its enthusiasm in action are illustrated by the Harrison campaign of 1840; in that “log cabin campaign ” when the Whigs“ stole the thunder" of pioneer Jacksonian democracy for another backwoods hero, the Ohio Valley carried its spirit as well as its political favorite throughout the nation.
Meanwhile, on each side of the Ohio Valley, other sections were forming. New England and the children of New England in western New York and an increasing flood of German immigrants were pouring into the Great Lake basin and the prairies, north of the upland peoples who had chopped out homes in the forests along the Ohio. This section was tied to the East by the Great Lake navigation and the Erie canal, it became in fact an extension of New England and New York. Here the Free Soil party found its strength and New York newspapers expressed the political ideas. Although this section tried to attach the Ohio River interests to itself by canals
and later by railroads, it was in reality for a long time separate in its ideals and its interests and never succeeded in dominating the Ohio Valley.
On the south along the Gulf Plains there developed the “ Cotton Kingdom," a Greater South with a radical program of slavery expansion mapped out by bold and aggressive leaders. Already this Southern section had attempted to establish increasing commercial relations with the Ohio Valley. The staple-producing region was a principal consumer of its live stock and food products. South Carolina leaders like Calhoun tried to bind the Ohio to the chariot of the South by the Cincinnati and Charleston Railroad, designed to make an outlet for the Ohio Valley products to the southeast. Georgia in her turn was a rival of South Carolina in plans to drain this commerce itself. In all of these plans to connect the Ohio Valley commercially with the South, the political object was quite as prominent as the commercial.
In short, various areas were bidding for the support of the zone of population along the Ohio River. The Ohio Valley recognized its old relationship to the South, but its people were by no means champions of slavery. In the southern portion of the States north of the Ohio where indented servitude for many years opened a way to a system of semi-slavery, there were divided counsels. Kentucky also spoke with no certain voice. As a result, it is in these regions that we find the stronghold of the compromising movement in the slavery struggle. Kentucky furnished Abraham Lincoln to Illinois, and Jefferson Davis to Mississippi, and was in reality the very center of the region of adjustment between these rival interests. Senator Thomas, of southern Illinois, moved the Mis
. souri Compromise, and Henry Clay was the most effective champion of that compromise, as he was the architect of the
Compromise of 1850. The Crittenden compromise proposals on the eve of the Civil War came also from Kentucky and represent the persistence of the spirit of Henry Clay.
In a word, as I pointed out in the beginning, the Ohio Valley was a Middle Region with a strong national allegiance, striving to hold apart with either hand the sectional combatants in this struggle. In the cautious development of his policy of emancipation, we may see the profound influence of the Ohio Valley upon Abraham Lincoln — Kentucky's greatest
No one can understand his presidency without proper appreciation of the deep influence of the Ohio Valley, its ideals and its prejudices upon America's original contribution to the great men of the world.
Enough has been said to make it clear, I trust, that the Ohio Valley has not only a local history worthy of study, a rich heritage to its people, but also that it has been an independent and powerful force in shaping the development of a nation. Of the late history of this Valley, the rise of its vast industrial power, its far-reaching commercial influence, it is not necessary that I should speak. You know its statesmen and their influence upon our own time; you know the relation of Ohio to the office of President of the United States! Nor is it necestary that I should attempt to prophesy concerning the future which the Ohio Valley will hold in the nation.
In that new age of inland water transportation, which is certain to supplement the age of the railroad, there can be no more important region than the Ohio Valley. Let us hope that its old love of democracy may endure, and that in this section, where the first trans-Alleghany pioneers struck blows at the forests, there may be brought to blossom and to fruit the ripe civilization of a people who know that whatever the glories of prosperity may be, there are greater glories of the
spirit of man; who know that in the ultimate record of history, the place of the Ohio Valley will depend upon the contribution which her people and her leaders make to the cause of an enlightened, a cultivated, a God-fearing and a free, as well as a comfortable, democracy.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY IN AMERICAN
The rise of a company of sympathetic and critical students of history in the South and in the West is bound to revolutionize the perspective of American history. Already our Eastern colleagues are aware in general, if not in detail, of the importance of the work of this nation in dealing with the vast interior, and with the influence of the West upon the nation. Indeed, I might take as the text for this address the words of one of our Eastern historians, Professor Albert Bushnell Hart, who, a decade ago, wrote:
The Mississippi Valley yields to no region in
If those of us who have been insisting on the importance of our own region are led at times by the enthusiasm of the pioneer for the inviting historical domain that opens before
1 Proceedings of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association for 1909– 10. Reprinted with the permission of the Association. 2 Harper's Magazine, February, 1900, p. 413.