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course below Nickajack, or its entrance into Alabama, of 330 miles, it does not receive a single stream above the size of a large creek, nor does the outer selvedge of its valley on the left, in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky, exceed a mean breadth of 20 miles. On the right, embosomed between Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, and comprising central Tennes. see, and northern Alabama, spreads a physical region, extending from Cumberland mountain to the lower reach of Tennessee river, 130 miles, with a mean breadth of 80 iniles, and an area of 10,400 square miles. This beautiful tract is semi-circled by the main volume of Tennessee, and drained by Elk river, Duck river, and innumerable creeks. Below Duck river, how. ever, Tennessee receives no stream from either side of any magnitude worthy notice in a general view. Including all its sections, the lower valley of Tennessee comprises an area of 17,600 square miles; and the whole ral. ley embraces a superficies of 41,600 square miles. This extent of Tennessee valley, if compared with the whole valley of Ohio, spreads over nearly one-fifth part, and gives to Tennessee the first rank among the tributaries of Ohio. Amongst the peculiar features of the course of Tennessee, the most remarkable is, that rising as far north as lat. 37° 10', and curving thence southward to lat. 34° 23', it again recurves back to its original latitude, and falls into the Ohio river almost exactly due west from its primitive springs in Tazewell county; thus embosoming nearly the whole large valley of Cumberland, and part of that of Green river. Geographically, Tennessee valley lies between north lat. 34° 10' and 37° 10', and in long. between 4° 15' and 11° 40' west of Washington. It is the first and largest
, advancing from the south, of those streams gushing from the elevated slopes of the Appalachian ridges, and which flow westward into the great basin of the Mississippi. In relative height, there is above 1,700 feet difference between the highest and lowest extremes of Tennessee valley. The arable surface of Tazewell and Wythe counties, from which the fountains of Kanawha and Holston have their origin, must be at least 2,000 feet above the Atlantic tides; whilst that of Ohio river, at the influx of Tennessee, but liltle exceeds 300 feet. The difference is fully an equivalent for 4° of latitude, and accounts for the rapid changes of climate experienced on lines of latitude in Tennessee. The current of every branch of Tennessee is very rapid, though direct falls are rare, and even dangerous shoals are not common. of the latter, those particularly called Muscle Shoals, between Lauderdale and Lawrence counties, Alabama, are most remarkable and difficult to navigate. The whole river, however, having a mean fall exceeding two feet to the mile, is only favorable to down stream navigation, which it admits in most of its branches to near their sources.
Tye river, a small river of Virginia, rising in the Blue Ridge, and flowing southeastward into James river, after draining part of Nelson and Amherst counties, and by one of its constituents, Piney river, forming for some few miles the boundary between those counties.
York river of Virginia, formed by two main branches, Pamunky and Mattapony. Below the union of its constituent streams, York river is rather a bay, varying from two to three miles in width, extending to the S. E. 27 miles, and thence east 12 miles, into Chesapeake, between York and Gloucester counties. Below the junction of Pamunky and Mattapony ririvers; York bay does not receive a tributary above the size of a small creek. It admits ships of any size to or near the Great Bend at Yorktown, but above admits only coasting vessels. Including all its tributaries,
the valley of York river lies between those of James and Rappa hannock. The greatest length 120 miles from the mouth of York river to the extreme source of North Anna river, in South West mountain; but, if taken with this extent the mean width would not exceed 20 miles, and at the utmost breadth, only about 45 miles. The area 2,600 square miles. Extending in lat. from 37° 15' to 38° 16', and in long. from 0° 41' E. to 1° 22' W. of Washington.
YouGHIOGHANY river of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, having its most remote sources in Preston county of the latter state, but deriving its most numerous southern tributaries from the valley between the Back Bone and Laurel mountains, Alleghany county, Maryland. From this elevated tract the main stream flows nearly due north 35 miles, enters Pennsylvania between Fayette and Somerset counties, within which it thence flows about eight miles direct course to where it is joined by Castleman's river, an equal or probably a superior stream, entering from the N. E. Some of the southern fountains of Castleman's river, rise in Alleghany county, Maryland, but the greater part of its tributaries flow from Somerset county: Pennsylvania, and rise in the same valley with the confluents of Youghioghany Below the union of the two main branches the Youghioghany assuming a northwestern course, continues in that direction 60 miles to its junction with the Monongahela at MacKees port, in Alleghany county. Where Youghioghany is traversed by the United States road at Smithfield, the water level is 1,405 feet above that of the Atlantic. The extreme heads of this stream have an elevation exceeding 2,500 feet; the mouth being ele. vated about 700 feet, the entire fall must be 1,800 feet. The whole valley of Youghioghany is either mountainous or very hilly and broken.
The following article was received too late for insertion in its proper place, but we insert it here as affording some evidence of attention and observation upon a subject of which our men of science have been too negligent; and which requires the joint and persevering labor of many hands to afford any thing like accurate detail or valuable information.
At the discovery of our continent it presented an immense forest untouched by human labor. The majestic rivers of the new world, swelling by every shower, inundated the whole country, and left in their track numer. ous marshes and extensive lakes. The woods were hid with rank luxuriance, while the exuberant undergrowth of herbs, shrubs, and weeds, gave to the prospect that gloomy and repulsive solitude which was so aptly described by the first settlers as the wilderness. The earth could not retain the heat of the sun, nor could this effect be produced by the mass of foliage. The air stagnated in the forest. Offensive exhalations arose from the numerous marshes, and the accumulated decay of vegetation, while the whole land was rife with the pestilence of malaria.
We cannot always arrive at definite conclusions of the climate of any country by barely measuring its degrees of distance from the equator. Its character is controlled by many other direct causes. Extent of territorynature of soil-height of mountains and elevation above the sea, greatly affect it. The extent of our northern seas, with the ice which continues there from year to year, gives to every wind which blows over them an intense cold. A chain of gigantic mountains spread their snow-capped
summits throughout the heart of our continent. The winds which blow over them become deeply surcharged with cold, whose piercing severity is not diminished until it has extended far down upon our southern sea coast. Our daily experience attests the truth of this fact.
The climate of Virginia has not been stationary. To trace its characteristics is to follow the varying passions of the coquette-now enticing by seductive smiles-and now chilling by capricious frowns. Yet it is the clime under whose genial influence we have been bred, and we can easily forget its vicissitudes in the glittering canopy of life and beauty which it throws around every scene.
Those who have dwelt amid the sunny clime of Italy—the fierce heat of Spain, and the elastic air of France, can appreciate from the test of comparison, the softness of a Virginian day—and how splenetic soever we may be, it never has gloom enough to make us "damn it as a lord."
Captain John Smith, in his faithful and spirited History of the Colony of Virginia, makes many allusions to its climate, and with a proper allowance for his zeal in coloring the advantages of a settlement in the colony, we may receive his statements as the honest opinions of a careful and accurate observer.
“The sommer (says he) is hot as in Spaine, the winter cold as in France or England. The heate of sommer is in June, July, and August, but commonly the cool breezes asswage the vehemency of the heate. The chief of the winter is halfe December, January, February, and halfe March. The cold is extreme sharpe, but here the proverbe is true that no extreme long continueth.' Sometimes there are great droughts, other times much raine, yet greater necessitie of neither, by reason we see not but that all the raritie of needful fruites in Europe may be there in great plentie by the industrie of man.” In an earnest appeal to the friends of the colony, he again recommends it for the “mildnesss of the ayre and the fertilitie of the soyle"
This sketch of the colony is studiously silent as to the existence of marshes, though much of the ill health of the first emigrants, may be traced to them. *
In giving an account of the bays, rivers, and brooks, our author incidentally remarks that " by the rivers are many plain marshes containing some twenty, some one hundred and some two hundred acres. But little of grasse there is but what groweth in low marshes." In the advance of population and agricultural improvement, these marshes were gradually'reduced. Mr. Nathaniel Caussey, who had lived in Virginia with Captain Smith, states in the year 1627, “that whereas the country was heretofore held most intemperate and contagious by many, now they have houses, lodging, and victuals, and the sun hath power to exhale up the moist vapors of the earth where they have cut down the woods, which before it could not, being covered with spreading tops of high trees, they find it much more healthful than before." Captain Butler, a gallant pioneer of the new world, and at one time governor of Bermuda, on his return to England from Virginia in the year 1624, presented to Charles I. a pamphlet entitled, “The unmasked face of our colony in Virginia, as it was in the winter 1622." In this work he draws a lamentable picture of the struggles of the infant colony, and asserts “that the English plantations are generally seated on marshes, lakes, and infectious bogs, which have subjected the planters to the
In the reply of Governor Berkeley to the enquiries of the Lords Commissioners of Foreign Plantations, in 1671, he states "that all new plantativns are for an age or two unhealthy, until they are thoroughly cleared of wood." 2 Hen. Stat. at Large, 515.
inconveniences and diseases prevalent in the most unhealthy parts of Eng. land." This pamphlet excited much hostility against the Virginian Com. pany, which was artfully fermented by Charles I. who was then secretly planning the ruin of that noble and patriotic association. Some of the members of the company who had been in Virginia united in an address to the public, in which they state that they had found the air of Virginia to be as wholesome and the soil for the most part as fertile as in any part of England." The House of Burgesses in a curious memorial of resentment, ill humor, and personal sarcasm, pronounced the charges of Capt. Butler to be false and slanderous, and informed the king "that no bogs have been seen here, by any that have lived here twice as many years as Capt. Butler did weeks in the country—the places which he so miscalls being the richest parts of the earth, if we had a sufficient force to clear their woods and to give the fresh springs which pass through them a free passage. The soil is gen. erally rich and restores our trust with abundance. The air is sweet and the clime healthful, all circumstances considered, to men of sound bodies and good government."
In 1624 the Virginian Company in petitioning parliament for encouragement and protection, earnestly recommended the colony "for that temperature of climate which agreed well with the English." Smith often makes similar comparisons, and it is evident from the writings of our earliest historians, that the climate of Virginia differed but little from that of England. The immense mass of vegetation which overshadowed the coun. try, filled it with fogs and vapors, assimilating it to that of England, and tendering it extremely cold in its winters, and tardy in its summers. It was less affected by the standard temperature of the sea than England, and was marked with more striking vicissitudes. The cold winter of 1607, which was felt throughout all Europe* was, in the lauguage of Smith, found “as extreame in Virginia." There were also many unseasonable others singularly propitious to the agriculture of the country. The year 1610 was long recollected by the epithet of the starving time, while in the year 1619 two crops of rare-ripe corn were made. Among many of the acts of the House of Burgesses regulating the trade of the country, we find one which prohibits the exportation of Indian corn “on account of the unseasonableness of the last two summers."
As the country was gradually cleared of its forests and undergrowth, the climate became dry, temperate, and warm,
The act of the House of Burgesses of 1705, which directed the capitol to be built at Williamsburg, recites, “that this place hath been found by constant experience to be healthy and agreeable to the constitutions of this his majesty's colony and dominion, having the natural advantages of a serene and temperate air, and dry and champaign land." A correspondent to the Royal Philosophical Socie. ty, who wrote an account of Virginia about this period, says "that the winters are dry and clear-the spring is earlier than that of England. Snow falls in great quantities, but seldom lies above a day or tivo, and the frosts, though quick and sharpe, seldom last long. July and August are sultry hot, while September is noted for prodigious showers of rain. The north and N. W. winds are either very sharp and piercing, or boisterous and stormy, and the S. E. and south hazy and sultry."
* In this year at Paris the beard of Henry IV. was frozen in bed cum regina. Sully's Mem. Vol. IV. 262.
From the want of accurate observations, and those careful collections of meteorological facts which elucidate the character of all climates, our speculations on that of Virginia must be necessarily vague and indefinite, and for the nicer shades of its changes, we are forced to substitute the broader features of its outline. Our climate is uniform only in its sudden vicissitudes. Its consistency is impaired by many causes, which have produced a difference of temperature dependant on the deeply marked geographical distinctions of our sea board, tide water, valley, and mountainous regions. My observations have been principally confined to that intermediate country, between the Chesapeake and the South West Mountains, on the low and moist lands of the Matapony, in latitude north 38° 6', and about seventy miles south of Washington City. While I am forced in my examination of the temperature of other parts of the state, to rely on statements often inaccurate in their conception and irrelevant in their details.
The standard temperature of every country is regulated by that of the level of the ocean. According to the researches of Professor Leslie, the mean temperature at the level of the sea, in our latitude, is between 67° and 71°, which gradually diminishes from that level, until it reaches the point of perpetual congelation. Pure air is not heated by the sun's rays which pass through it. The solar rays must be stopped by the earth, collected and reflected before any heat can be given to the atmosphere. In taking a standard, we assume the sea, which affords a fairer criterion of uniform temperature, than the mean heat of springs and wells. Neither does the sea retain the extreme of heat or cold which we find in the earth. A cold wind blowing over this volume of salt water, necessarily cools its surface, which from its increase of specific gravity, sinks and gives place to an inferior warmer wave. The action of the wind in rippling the surface of the water, and the influence of tide and currents conspire in bringing the warmer water to the level of the sea to mitigate the coldness of the wind: this action continues till the whole water is so far cooled that it becomes susceptible of frost. When frozen it is no longer warmed from the inferior water, but blows on with increased rigor. A warm wind takes a portion of cold as it passes over the surface of the sea, and becomes reduced to the mean temperature of that body. The sea breeze so prevalent in Eastern Virginia is cool, as much from the standard heat of the ocean, as from its rapidity of motion. It is cooler in Virginia than in the West Indies, and often since the opening of the country, spreads its elastic freshness to the foot of the South West Mountains. There is a sensible and striking difference between the temperature of Eastern and Western Virginia. The former from its vicinity to the sea coast, becomes tempered into more gentleness; while its earlier vegetation shows the greater power of its soil to retain heat. In the latter the winters are longer and more severe, yet the farmer
there admire the wisdom of that providence, which in increasing the rigor of the frost, mellows and crumbles the land for the purposes of agriculture, while the light soils of the east require no such agency.
In the course of five years, from 1772 to 1777, Mr. Jefferson made many observations on the temperature at Williamsburg, and having reduced them to an average for each month in the year, he has given us the results of the greatest daily heat of the several seasons. * I have before me a series of careful observations compiled by that accurate thinker, and accomplished
* Notes on Virginia, Query 7.