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able ordinance which provided that no law ought ever to be
made or have force in the Northwest territory that would in any manner, whatever, interfere with or affect private contracts or engagements. It would be difficult to measure the vast in-. fluence which has been exercised on the security of property by the operation of this wise and effective provision. Its in
corporation with our organic law is a monument to the wisdom,
honesty and probity of New England. It gives us assurance that in the midst of party strife, and with the most hostile
faction in the ascendant, a stern regard to private rights will characterize our State legislation. I have especially referred
to this provision in that famous ordinance as illustrating the
noble ideas and principles which lay at the foundation of the
government of our Northwest territory, and which emanated
among the progenitors of those whose memory we celebrate
One of the tests of the character of a people lies in the extent to which they utilize the gifts of nature around them. At an early day there were among the settlers of our county men of large forecast and comprehensive views of internal improvement, who clearly discerned the commercial importance of the mouth of the Cuyahoga. The great natural routes known to the early geographers and statesmen did not escape
their penetrating glance. A scheme was formed for improving the navigation between the lake and the river Ohio through the Cuyahoga and the Muskingum. The project failed, but it was the foreshadowing of a grander enterprise which will always be connected with the enterprise and sagacity of a master mind that illustrated the early history of Cleveland. It was the concurrent testimony of skillful engineers that, in connecting the lake with the river Ohio, the navigation of the
beds of small rivers was inferior to the canal as a mode of
commercial intercourse. The great public work, therefore, which now traverses our State and opens a direct water communication with the Gulf of Mexico, could not long be
The canal has succumbed to the railroad, and is no
longer perhaps the necessity it once was; but, as a potent agent for the development of the resources of our State, it will ever be regarded as one of the noblest achievements, and its originators, and builders will have a lasting claim upon the gratitude of our people. When the Erie Canal was completed and the inland seas of the West were conducted in
proud triumph, to the bosom of the Atlantic, it was proclaimed that the name of DeWitt Clinton would be transmitted to suc
ceeding generations and cherished as a possession forever.
Let us not then, on this occasion, forget the name of Alfred Kelley. In the prime of his manhood he cast his lot with the
people of our city, and was in the forefront of every enterprise for the public good. During the construction and until the
completion of the Ohio canal, he was the acting commissioner and resided in our midst. He was a man of capacious mind, of unconquerable will, of untiring energy, and of unfailing power of endurance. He seemed eminently fitted for the Herculaan task which he undertook; and in the selection of him
for the arduous work, it proved in the end that fortune had
smiled upon the State. In the city of Columbus, to which he removed from Cleveland, he exerted his great powers in other fields of public labor; and, as State Fund Commissioner, saved our State from the dishonor of repudiation; and as a profound master of finance originated a banking system which remained in successful operation for twenty years. In alluding to his life and labors, we would not be unmindful of the signal merits of others who were engaged with him, and wrought faithfully and at the same time, and in the same public service; but his name belongs to the history of Cuyahoga county, and we would
recall the lineaments of his character as we would revive in
memory the cherished images of those who once belonged to
our own household.
The men who brought their household goods to the Western
Reserve eighty years ago found an environment far different
from what they would find to-day in one of our newly-organized territories. Railroads are now penetrating the continent to the farthest settlement. Labor saving machinery and almost
every article of comfort may be placed now, on the shortest notice, at the door of the settler's cabin. The products of his labor now find a profitable market, and he is not unfamiliar with the sight of money. The savage, too, once so formidable, will soon cease to be an object of terror to him. So far as physical causes can operate, his character can be subjected in only a comparatively slight degree to novel influences. But our own pioneers were subject to other conditions, and to many transforming agencies. Taking no account of ancestral traits or natural tendencies, they could not, from the necessities of their
situation, fail to wax independent in spirit, fearless in danger,
tenacious in their opinions, persistent in their undertakings,
and thrifty in their habits. If they had not been affected by
their surroundings, they would have been an exception to the
general law which governs the rest of mankind.
It is well
said by Buckle that physical agents powerfully influence the.
human race; that they have originated the most important consequences in regard to the general organization of society,
and from them there have followed many of those large and
conspicuous differences between nations which are often
ascribed to some fundamental difference in the various races
into which mankind is divided. In studying the character,
then, of our early settlers it becomes of interest to know the
manner in which they lived, what their occupations were, to
what perils they were exposed, what was the drift of their
thoughts, what, if any, opportunities they had for education, what were their pastimes and social enjoyments, what, in fine,
was the difference between their new condition and that which they had left behind them. Our pioneer records thus become attractive and fraught with instruction, and are no longer musty and repulsive chronicles, and you gather up the leaves that would otherwise perhaps be scattered. You learn of the dreadful sufferings of James Kingsbury and his family, during the first winter after their arrival at Conneaut. Major Lorenzo Carter is the mighty hunter, and the terror of the bear.
He it was who dwelt in the log house, on the slope from Superior street to the harbor.
The sight of weakness and oppression can draw “iron tears” down his cheek, and the fugitive from slavery, on his way to the land of promise beyond the lake, feels his helping hand, His maxim was, not to give an insult, but when he received one, the giver usually bowed beneath his sturdy stroke. His influence with the Indian was unbounded, for he was known always to do justice to him. Judge Huntington, on his way from Painesville on horseback, while floundering after dark through a swamp at what is now the corner of Wilson avenue and Euclid street, is attacked by a gang of hungry wolves and barely escapes. For two or three months the only way in which the Doane family were supplied with food was for young Seth Doane, who had two attacks of fever and ague daily, to walk to Kingsbury's, five miles distant, with a peck of corn. grind it in a hand mill and bring it home upon his