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Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

Emigration (S2a: 1848)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A letter printed on page 3 of "The Annals of Progress," a separately paginated serial supplement attached weekly to The People's Journal (London), in this case to the second issue (probably early January 1848) of its Volume 5. In the magazine the letter is signed "Alfred P. Wallace," but this is a transcription error in the original (several lines of conclusive evidence point to this being "our" Wallace). The editorial introduction is included below, but not the letter referred to (itself dated 18 February 1847), written by William Nethey to his brother George, an acquaintance of Wallace's. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S002A.htm

     We are pleased to give insertion to the following letters upon the important subject of emigration. The one from America, written by a labouring man, in a free and lucid style, will be read with interest by working men of this country, and will come home the more closely to their hearts, because it is written by one of their own order. We were about to pass our pen through the brief allusions to family matters, as "I have named my little son," and "My wife is named Jane," &c., but we subsequently thought that by doing so we should be striking out the colours which give warmth to the picture:--

     "Sir,--I send you the enclosed letter, which I obtained from one of the workmen on the railway here, whose brother is the writer. You may, perhaps, think it worth publishing. It appears to me very important that the working men of this country should be made acquainted with the advantages and capabilities of the southern states of America, as a place for emigration. Thousands of emigrants pour into New York, a part of America which approaches nearer in density of population to our own country than any other, and, of course, every kind of labour being overstocked, many are unable to find employment, or to obtain the means of reaching more thinly populated districts.

     A relation of mine1 has just returned from Georgia and Alabama, and gives a delightful account of the plenty of food and land, and the healthiness of the climate. The southern states are scarcely ever alluded to in our works on emigration, and many of our working-men scarcely know of their existence. The reason of this is, that they are slave states; but this is no reason why they should not be eligible for emigrants. The example of free labour, and what it can do, before their eyes, would do more for the abolition of slavery, by appealing to the pockets of the planters, than can all the writings of the abolitionists, which only excite ill feelings, and may perhaps tend to prolong the evil through a spirit of opposition.

     If half a dozen of our working-men would go and settle in a southern state, they would be sure to obtain a good living with little labour: and I think all will see that they would be doing much more for the poor slaves than they could effect in any more direct way.

     Should these remarks be of any service, you are at liberty to publish them. I remain, yours, &c.,

Alfred P. Wallace.
Neath, Glamorganshire."

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Editor's Note

1. Wallace is here referring to his sister Fanny. According to his autobiography My Life Fanny had returned to England in September 1847 after a three-year teaching stint at private schools in Georgia and Alabama.


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