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Advice on Settling in New York in 1820

Shannon Selin is the author of Napoleon in America. In researching the book, she came across an English newspaper article by William Cobbett, who had lived in America a couple of times for several years. He was responding to questions from a man who was thinking about emigrating to the United States. First Cobbett declines to give advice on whether the man should go to America at all. But he makes his feelings clear.

As to the first, I give you no advice at all. I never have advised any one to go to America, and I never shall. I would wish every one to stay and take his chance with his country; for richer, for poorer; for better, for worse. …

However, the rest of his advice makes the U.S. and especially New York appear to be heaven on earth, especially in how affordable everything is.

The hog meat is far superior to any thing of the kind known in England. There is more than one reason for this; but the chief reason is that the pigs are fatted with that delightful thing, the Indian Corn, which is eaten in all its stages of growth by man, woman and child. The beef in America is as full fine as in England…. Butter is cheaper than in England. Cheese full as good, upon an average, as the English cheese, is at about two thirds of the English average price. Spices of all sorts, at a quarter part of the English price. Tea, at less than half the English price. Sugar, the same. Coffee at a third of the English price. The chocolate in England is at about six shillings a pound, at New York it is about fourteen pence, English money.

Cobbett explains how housing, furniture, clothing, and other goods are better quality at lower prices than in England. Read the rest of his advice here. You have to wonder why he spent the rest of his life in England. -via Strange Company

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