Sidebilder
PDF
ePub
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

mercial purposes; that it might be more of a national object to open a road from the Ohio to Chicago, at the south end of Lake Michigan; and from thence, to Prairie du Chien, where there were military posts, to which there was no communication by water but by long and circuitous routes. That he only stated this to shew, that, until the report of the engineers should be made, Congress were not prepared to Judge what were eligible routes for roads or canals, and any undertaking, before such information should be received, and before Comgress should determine to embark in a system of Internal Improvement, would be premature. Mr. P. P. BARBOUR rose, and said, that he was not about to enter at large into the question before the committee, but merely to state a few facts, which might have a bearing upon it. ... He was aware that the motion yesterday made to strike out that part of the bill which goes to pledge the two per cent. fund, had, at the present sitting, been decided in the negative, and that all arguments or observations in favor of such an amendment would now be out oforder, But if, said Mr. B. it is in the contemplation of Congress to commence a great system of Internal Improvement, (for which, however, in any shape, I cannot go, as being opposed to the princi. ple,) it seems to me that the object now presented is as much entitled to favor as almost any other that can be mentioned. He should, indeed, be obliged to vote against the bill, and would do so, even were it for the sole benefit of his own constituents. Yet still he thought the object as good as any other. The measure, however, ought at once to be put (where the gentleman from Ohio had candidly placed it) on the footing of an absolute appropriation, not to be returned from any fund whatever. The pledge was all out of the question. Congress has the direction of two per cent. of the proceeds of the sales of public lands in the northwestern states, for the purpose of making roads leading to those states. It has expended somewhere about $ 1,800,000. Now this is two per cent. on ninety millions of dollars. It would be found that the whole sales of lands in the northwestern states, up to 1819, fell short of $27,000,000, of which less than $17,000,000 had actually been received. Here, then, was the Government in advance two per cent. on ninety millions, and not seventeen millions realized yet. Surely, it was vain to talk of any hope of reimbursement from such a fund. Let us not, said Mr. B. hold out a false and delusive hope. Commending the candor of the gentleman from Ohio, (Mr. Brzchen,) in placing the subject at once and avowedly upon its real ground, Mr. B, expressed a hope that, when the bill came into the House, the clause containing this pledge would be stricken out. And he concluded with repeating that, did not his views of constitutional restrictions prevent him from voting for any appropriation for Internal Improvement, he should certainly vote for the present bill. Mr. COOK said he concurred with the gentleman from Virginia, (Mr. Bannoun,) in his opinion of the degree of favor with which this measure should be viewed. But he could not concur with him in the views he had submitted in relation to the fund"that Congress had pledged to the states west of the state of Ohio. He rose to explain more fully than had been done, the nature of this pledge, and to repel the construction which had been put on the compacts that Congress and those states had entered into. In 1802, Congress passed a law authorizing the people within the territorial limits of the state of Ohio, to form a constitution and become an independent state. In the same act, it was provided that five per cent. “ of the nett proceeds of the lands lying within the said state, (Ohio,) sold by Congress” from and after a day specified, should be applied to laying out and making roads leading from the Atlantic waters to the Ohio river, and through the state of Ohio. Subsequently, with the assent of Ohio, a change was made, initing this fund to two per cent. Mr. C. said it Vol. 1.-14

must be obvious that nothing more was contemplated by this act than a pledge of the funds arising from the lands sold within the state of Ohio. In 18-6, Congress commenced its legislation on the subject of the Cumberland road specifically, and the money appropriated by the act of 1806, for this road, was to be paid, first, out of the fund reserved in the act of 1802, and secondly, if that proved inadequate, out of any unappropriated money in the Treasury. This provision for drawing the money from this specific fund, raised from the sale of lands lying within the state of Ohio, and to make up any deficiency in that fund from the public Treasury, is a legislative exposition of what Congress meant by the act of 1802. The language of the act of 1802, however, is so explicit that it will admit of no other construction. Subsequent to 1806, and, almost annually, down to 1819, Congress had made appropriations to complete this road, sometimes repledging this Ohio fund, and, at others, making naked appropriations only. During this period, Congress had admitted Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri into the Union, under stipulations and agreements such as Congress itself had proposed, and, amongst other things, it had been agreed, that two per cent. of the moneys arising from the land sales in those states should be expended, under the authority of Congress in making roads leading to those states respectively. This stipulation, however, was of a conventional character. It was a consideration paid by Congress for the exemption, on the part of those states, of the lands to be sold by the United States, from taxation, for five years after sale. At the time of these compacts, then, Congress had almost completed the Cumberland road, and no pledge had ever been made, of any specific fund whatever, to refund the money to the Government, except the Ohio fund. In 1819, however, after the admission of these states, and after the ratification of these solemn compacts, which are based upon the principle of a quid pro quo, and under which the Government had agreed to lay out this fund in making roads leading to those states respectively, Congress pledges this very fund to repay to the Treasury nearly two millions of dollars, which had been previously expended on the Cumberland road. Mr. C. would submit it to the good faith, and if it might not appear offensive, he would say, the common honesty of the House, to say, whether such a pledge were not in violation of those compacts : The right to make this pledge, as has been argued, springs out of the act of 1802. I have shown that that act looks alone to the sales within the state of Ohio. But you did net, at that time, own Missouri. She was then in the hands of a foreign power; and yet, it is also contended that her fund is also to be pledged to redeem this Cumberland road debt. Mr. C., said, the states west of the Ohio supposed they were making a fair bargain, and that each party meant to execute in good faith what was promised. If that were done, he thought no doubt could remain as to the illegality of the pledge of 1819, which applied this fund to redeem the Cumberland road debt. Arguing, then, on that supposition, he should proceed to state his views in relation to the measure before the House. He had shown, on a former occasion, that this fund would, in the progress of time, yield a sum exceeding two millions of dollars—a sum that would be adequate

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

should, at the same time, insist, as a condition on which his vote ultimately would depend, that there should be some clear and distinct assurance given, in the bill, that the road was to be continued to the states west of Ohio. It had been argued that this measure was premature. This prematurity, said Mr. C. is discovered too late. Congress, four years ago, after much grave and solemn debate, appropriated ten thousand dollars to mark and locate this road. It was done with a view to its speedy completion. It was then thought proper to commence, and the people of the states particularly interested, although too patriotic to be clamorous on account of the delay, have felt that their expectations have not been met in the spirit which raised them. Perhaps it may be said, that the measure of four years ago was designed merely to pacify and appease an idle whim of the West. . Congress, I trust, does not legislate on such principles, and, for one, I am sure that measure was founded on no such consideration. The people of the West do not believe it. They have a better opinion of the candor and integrity of this body. Mr. C. thought this road had nothing to do with the

, great system of internal improvement that had been

[ocr errors]

spoken of, so far as related to the mere appropriation of money to make it. It stood on different ground. It was a promised road, and the only question to be settled was, the time of meeting that promise. That had been settled, and wisely settled, four years ago. It was then settled that we will now go on with it. We will go on with it, while the country, through which it is to pass, is too poor to make it, and whilst we (the United States) have preperty to a large amount that will be increased in va. 'lue by it. This having been the policy adopted four years ago, he hoped it would not now be abandoned. The public domain, said Mr. C. is pledged to pay the ublic debt. In pursuance of that pledge, Congress had frequently adopted measures to accelerate its sale. None can more contribute to that object than this road. It will, it must, be the great highway to most of the emigrants from the states north of Virginia to the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. You will, by affording this facility to them, act in the spirit which produced much of your former legislation. You will Hessen the expense of emigrating, and, by that amount, increase the means of the emigrant to purchase your property, and comfortably to settle himself. Mr. M'DUFFIE then rose, and said, that he now perceived the question before the committee was a question of direct appropriation for a road. If the arguments of the gentlemen from Indiana and Illinois were correct, (and certainly those arguments presented matter of grave consideration,) the two per cent. fund of those states cannot be appropriated to the present object. It follows, that the two per cent. in Ohio alone can be appropriated to it. No one can deny that the whole of this fund has been expended. So far, then, as the arguments of the gentlemen prove any thing, they shew that what is required, at present, is an abso. oute appropriation of money from the Treasury. This point being settled, he would say a few words on the measure, as constituting a part of the general system of internal improvement. Such a system, Mr. M'D. observed, must be formed and conducted on national principles. Yet, it was unavoidable, in the nature of things, that, in the prosecution of it, certain parts of the country will be benefitted more than others. The Question then arises, how shall we proceed I answer, in the first place, with the utmost caution. If we act otherwise, and through haste, ignorance, or oversight, shall fail in any great work we undertake, we shali oc. casion a reaction which will go far towards destroying the system; and he would put it to the friends of inter. nal improvements, whether it will be advisable to run any risk of such a result He was, therefore, opposed to acting on the system, till a general view had been presented to Congress of the objects to be attempted,

As to the claim of the West on the National Treasury, he should only say that that Treasury never contributed anything worth naming, for the purpose of internalimprovement, for the advantage of any other state than Ohio. What, asked Mr. M'DUFFIE, are the national works which have been done by the General Government? This road was certainly the chief, and he had almost said, the only one—two millions had been expended upon it. There was also some small appropriation for the improvement of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. I said Mr. M'Dufrir, belong to a state which, on this subject, has fair claims on the Government, yet I do not now solicit anything on her behalf. We are told that, because the work has been commenced, we must therefore go on with it. But, sir, said Mr. M'Duffir, I argue in a manner directly the reverse. I do not think because we have done something for one part of the Union, we must, therefore, do more for it. The work, I acknowledge, is an important one; but other objects are important too. The population of the new states is comparatively sparse; and we are asked to neglect the denser population of the Union, for their benefit. I do not think the object proposed, has any peculiar claim, at this particular time. Before he sat down, he would state what were his general views on this matter. It appeared very clear that, for at least ten years to come, all the surplus revenue of this country would be exhausted in paying the public debt—and, from the character and well known wishes of the nation, he presumed that it must be the great object of the next administration to pay that debt.. There could be but a small surplus left to be applied to internal improvements-sufficient, however, to defray the expense of all the requisite previous measures. All the surveys could be made, various routes explored, and the comparative expense of different projects ascertained. Then the nation would know precisely what was the work before it. Nor was it more than proper that ten years should be consumed in preparing to accomplish so great a system, on the safest and most solid grounds.

Mr. CLAY now rose, and, expressing a desire of presenting to the committee his views on the general subject, requested, as the hour was late, the indulgence that the committee would rise. The committee rose accordingly, and obtained leave to sit again.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.—FRIDAY, JAN. 14.

CUMBERLAND RIVER,

Mr. REYNOLDS, of Ten. submitted the following resolution for consideration:

Resolved, That a committee be appointed to inquire into the expediency of appropriating a sum of money not exceeding—-dollars, for the purpose of improving the navigation of Cumberland River, in the state of Tennessee.

The resolution having been read

Mr. REYNOLDS addressed the chair as follows:

Mr. Speaker: Should it be in order, I will briefly submit to the House my views on this subject. We have been engaged, yesterday and the day before, in discussing the bill to extend the Cumberland Road: the object of the present resolution : have submitted is to improve the navigation of Cumberland River. But, before I proceed, allow me to say, that I lament much, indeed, at the course the debate has taken on the extension of the National Road; and, without entering into the merits of that discussion, it is to be regretted, that the subject of those reservations and conditions of state rights ever had been introduced into the bill; for, it is evident to my mind, from the discussion already had, without particularly examining the statutes, that the per centums stipulated by those new states arising on the sale of the public lands, were certainly intended for the internal improvement of those states, and not for national purposes.

in my humble opinion, sir, it would have been more preferable to have asked, by the bill on your table, on

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

appropriation for the object contemplated by the bill. Permit me, also, to state, that it is much to be regretted that any allusion has been made to the general appropriations made for the benefit of the country heretofore. Sir, the Northern and Eastern parts of the Unior are much older than the West. The great population and situation of the country commanded the resources of the nation. And there are many expenditures of the public purse, from the nature of things, that will always be confined to those regions, such as building public ships, erecting forts on the Atlantic board, and on the Pacific Ocean, in those independent states that will spring out of the Oregon territory. For my part, sir, when a national object is necessary, and ought to be carried into effect, I shall not stop to inquire whether the money is to be expended on the South or the North side of the Potomac. In a republic like ours, forming a grand confederated Union, the important inquiry is, Has the measure called for, a tendency to promote the interest, honor, and happiness of the nation ? Then, I trust, as we have not . occasion of having much of the public moneys distributed in the internal improvements of the West, I

still will rely on the justice and magnanimity of the good

old thirteen states, in enabling us to carry on our national improvements in the Western states. It will be recollected, Mr. Speaker, that, at the last session of Congress, a bill was introduced to improve the navigation of the Mississippi river. To that bill it was my intention to have offered the present proposition as an amendment. But, knowing how much the whole Union is interested in the navigation of that grand river, and, lest the great object should be defeated by adding too many amendments of the kind, I did, at the requuest of some of my friends, and particularly my honorable friend from Kentucky, (Mr HEN ar,) who so ably advocated the bill, abstain from offering the amendment, but with the express determination of presenting it to the House at this session. The bill passed, and is now a law of the nation, by a handsome majority. It may be objected, Mr. Speaker, that Cumberland riwer is too local for the General Government to take it into the estimate of a general system of internal improvements. But, gentlemen have only to look at the map to see the great and central position of that noble stream. It is navigable about two or three hundred miles and upwards, and meanders a country of from four to five hundred miles. The country is remarkably fertile and healthy. It is the grand high road for the great body of the population of West Tennessee, in the transportation of their produce to the great emporium of the West, New Orleans; and, besides, it is equally claimed and enjoyed by a very important and interesting region of the Union, I mean that part of Kentucky known by the name of the Green River Country. This is a part of the republic very extensive, fertile in the extreme, and capable of sustaining an immense population. But to the Union, the river Cumberland is interesting in many points of view. The great water powers for machinery on the rivers and branches emptying into it are immense, and will, at no distant day, command the attention of the enterprising manufacturer and agriculturist. We have men of great public spirit amongst us, but there is a vast outlet for more. There are, in the vicinity of those streams, mountains of iron ore, which are inexhaustible, and of a quality equal, if not superior, to any in the United States. Sir, the boasted county of Cornwall, in England, cannot produce better iron. And, besides, the fertility of our soil is such, that hemp, tobacco, and cotton, grow in great perfection. The House will perceive, then, without any comments from me, the great importance of this river to the United States. But, Mr. Speaker, this is not all. It is, at this moment, of deep interest to the great and patriotic state of Pennsylvania. There are now, I expect, from ten to fifteen steam boats running regularly between Nashville

and the city of Pittsburg, and from Nashville to New Orleans, at all seasons that the waters will admit of it. This is not all, sir. This stream will be of great importance to the flourishing state of Missouri, and all other states that may border on that great river, Missouri, in consequence of the article of cotton. With those important states of Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana, our intercourse and trade will be greatly facilitated. And when the great canal, now in contemplation, unites the Potomac river with the Ohio, it will open new resources and advantages to Maryland and Virginia, and will afford a direct communication by water with us. And the time is not far distant, sir, when the great and powerful state of New York, will, by her great resources, and her astonishing progress in internal improvements, show to this Union the necessity as well as policy, in a political and commercial point of view, of uniting, by canals, the great northern Lakes with the Mississippi river. Then, sir, as one of the Western States, in point of trade, we shall be united with the Northern, Southern, bordering on the Gulf of Mexico, Eastern, and Middle states. It will then be no uncommon event to see the hardy and enterprising sons of the North and East peaceably exchanging with the people on the banks of Cumberland every manufactured article of luxury and comfort, for the raw material, when, in all probability, the old world may be deluged in all the horrors of war, and all countmunication cut off betwixt us and them, perhaps forever. But, Mr. Speaker, there is still another topic connected with this subject, and, I trust, the House will allow me briefly to state it. There is on one of the streams of Cumberland, called Harpeth river, one among the finest sites for a national armory in the United States, and, perhaps, in the world. The stream is large and bold. The country around it, to a great extent, abounds in the finest forest, and there is no end to the ore in its vicinity. Besides, l have been lately informed that stone. coal has been found in the same neighborhood; and the country is considered very healthy. This great and celebrated site is only twelve miles from the mouth of this river, and can, with a trifling expense, be made navigable always when Cumberland is navigable. Indeed, when the latter river rises, the back water nearly reaches the site. The navigation of Cumberland from the mouth of this river is as good as the Ohio. The great impediment to the navigation of this important stream is what is called the Harpeth Shoals, above its mouth, which is much against the flourishing town of Nashville, and the upper country. I think, however, that 20,000 or $30,000 will be a sufficient surn to remove every obstruction in the river, high as Carthage. Mr. Speaker : When we look at the happy medium in which West Tennessee is situated, as it regards climate, soil, and health, and when we consider there is all the great materials for the establishment of a great armory on this interesting stream, there is another consideration of great moment. These water courses rarely, if ever, are frozen in winter. How important to the Union will it be, in case of a war, that we can, in the dead of winter, at a moment's warning, transport our arms and munitions of war to the seat of war in a campaign to the South. This is a consideration that ought to have weight with every gentleman who may have to act finally on this subject. For my own part, I do not hesitate to pronounce it the most eligible situation in the United States. Is it not remarkable, Mr. Speaker, that those Commissioners have not yet made their report on this subject 2 We were informed by the gentleman from Ohio, (Mr. Beechen,) that it would be delivered to this House in six or eight days. It is now more than two weeks since the gentleman moved to lay my resolution on this subject, on the table. From a letter I have received from Pittsburg, and the session going off rapidly, I shall take the liberty of calling up the resolution on tomorrow. At all events, if it is not our good fortune to

[ocr errors]

United States’ Real Estate.—Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. [JAN. 14, 1825.

have the armory where nature has pointed it out, I still hope, however, that the Government of the United States will enable us to improve Cumberland river; and if we are not allowed to furnish our armies with arms and munitions of war, yet I trust our citizens in Tennessee will be enabled to mingle their laudable efforts with their brethren of other Western States in supplying our armies, when the case may happen, and the city of New Orleans and Louisiana with the products of our land. Sir, I was highly gratified to hear, the other day, from an honorable gentleman from Virginia, (Mr. Mercen,) and who is a member of the Committee on Roads and Canals, that it is contemplated, by that committee, to offer to the House a general system of national improvements. Hoping, most sincerely, that they will take my proposition into consideration, I shall take the liberty now to move that the resolution lie on the table for a few days. The resolution was then ordered to lie on the table. The resolution offered by Mr. WARFIELD, calling for an account of real estate purchased by the United States, was taken up. Mr. WEBSTER observed, that the resolution proposed an inquiry that would be attended with great labor, and he should be glad to hear some of the reasons which induced the mover to desire it. Mr. WARFIELD replied, that the present resolution had in substance been offered by him at the last session of Congress—but too late in the session to obtain the report in answer to it. He had at that time explained his reasons, but perhaps the hon. member from Massachusetts had not been present—he would, therefore, now repeat them. He had taken the year 1776, as the period at which the statement was to commence, because he understood that previously to the adoption of the Federal Constitution, there were few cases of the purchase of real estate on behalf of the United States. Since that time, these purchases had been frequent, for the purposes of arsenals, forts, dock-yards, &c. In other instances, he believed the purchase had been made by consent of the states where the estate lay, and in other instances, without that consent. Where the latter was the case, he wished to ascertain by whom and to whom the title deeds had been executed—as, from information lie had received, he was led to believe that, for part of the real estate in question, the United States would be found to have no valid title. It was certainly impsrtant to know what title the Government holds in its public property, and he did not suppose, after the House had once approved of, and adopted the resolution, its propriety would again be drawn in question: he had, therefore, not prepared himself to go into a detail in explaining it. The only reason he presumed that the information was not furnished at the last session, was, the late period at which the resolution was adopted, Mr. WEBSTER observed, in reply, that the resolution would impose on the public officers a task of vast extent and labor; and he doubted whether so much was necessary, even for the object of the mover, as now explained. Would it not be better to confine the inquiry to those cases where he supposed that investments had been incautiously made, without calling for a detailed statement of all the purchases of real property, by Government, for forty years back He would not, however, directly oppose the resolution. Mr. MERCER advocated the propriety and expediency of the resolution proposed. It might save trouble in future discussions, to have such a document to refer to. Had it been before the House last scssion when the survey bill was under consideration, or the bill for purchasing the lot at West Point, it would have saved much labor. It was desirable to know in what cases jurisdiction accompanied the property; and when it did not, where it was obtained with, and where without, the consent of the states. He did not think the task would

be so very difficult. In the compendium of the laws at the end of the first volume, there was a printed list which contained most of the particulars—he was persuaded it would be found very useful. Mr. WOOD, of New York, believed that, three years ago, such a report had been made, and he moved to lay the resolution on the table. The question was taken, and it was decided in the affirmative—ayes 72, noes 56. So the resolution was laid upon the table.

CHESAPEAKE AND DELAWARE CANAL.

Mr. HEMPHILL moved to dispense with the orders of the day, for the purpose of taking up the bill “authorizing a subscription to the stock of the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal Company.” The motion was carried, ayes 92. The House accordingly went into committee of the whole—Mr. TOMI.INSON in the chair, on that bill. Mr. HEMPHILL (the chairman of the committee which reported the bill) rose. He said, the committee would perceive that the bill, which was now submitted to their consideration, authorized a subscription in behalf of the United States for 1500 shares, which is equal to $300,000, in the stock of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company; the Government was to receive its proportion of the dividends, and the Secretary of the Treasury was to vote at any election for the Officers of the Company, according to the number of shares subscribed. The importance of the question presented by this bill, said Mr. H., will, I hope, justify me in occupying the attention of the committee for a short time. The subject of this canal, and the proceedings connected with it, are, I know, very familiar to some of the committee, but there are others I presume, who are not so well acquainted with them ; and, for this reason, I will take the liberty of giving as brief a history of the canal as I Can. Soon after the system of canalling became so univer. sal in England, and the benefits of canals so generally known, a canal to connect the waters of the Delaware with the Chesapeake Bay was contemplated, and many surveys to carry this design into effect, were made antecedent to the Revolution; whea Mr. Latrobe surveyed the route, which was, I believe, in 1816, he mentioned that 32 surveys had been previously made—and I expect that there had been 10 or 15 surveys and examinations of the grounds since that period. The first Legislative step to effect the object was taken by the Legislature of the state of Maryland, who on the 7th of December, 1799, passed a law to incorporate a company by the name of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company. This law proposed to cooperate with the states of Delaware and Pennsylvania; and these states, impressed with the importance of the subject, not only as it regarded themselves, but in its relation to the nation at large, did not hesitate to act conjointly with the state of Maryland, and they respectively passed iaws to accomplish the object of a water communication between the waters of the Delaware and Chesapeake Bay. On this subject eleven laws have been enacted ; but it will not be necessary for me to detain the committee by referring to them, except so far as to exhibit their leading provisions. The acts of the respective states authorized the opening of books for subscriptions to the amount of $500,000, in shares of $200 each; and incorporated the subscribers with ample powers to locate the route, to acquire the title to lands in the states of Maryland and Delaware, through which it should pass, and to cut and finish the canal, and to keep it in repair forever. The necessary regulations for the payment of tolls were prescribed by the respective acts. And it was stipulated, that the canal and works, when completed,

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

should forever thereafter be esteemed and taken to be navigable, as a public highway, free for the transportation of all goods, commodities, or produce whatsoever, on payment of the tolls imposed by the acts, and that no additional toll or tax whatever, for the use of the water of the canal, and the works thereon, should, at any time, be imposed by all or either of the said states. Other arrangements took place between the states, some of which not bearing directly on the canal project, need not now be mentioned. I will refer to one which may be of importance, as connected with the prosperity of the canal: By the first Maryland act, of the 7th Decem: ber, 1799, there is a provision that the act should be of no force or effect until a law be passed by the Legislature of Pennsylvania, declaring the river Susquehanna to be a highway, and authorizing individuals or bodies corporate to remove obstructions therein, at a period not exceeding three years, from the first day of March, 1800. A law to this effect was passed by the Legislature of Pennsylvania. The acts contain the usual provisions for the election of a President and Directors, for the transfer of the stock, the collection of the tolls, and the payment of dividends; and also authorizes the Company to increase the subscriptions whenever necessary. By virtue of the laws of these three states, a company was legally incorporated, who, in April, 1804, after causing many surveys to be made, located the canal in favor of what was called the Upper Route from Welsh Point to Christiana; the Elk river, with the resources of Christiana and White Clay Creeks, were supposed to contain a sufficiency of water. The waters of the Elk river were purchased, including the route of the feeder and the necessary lands; and the work to construct the feeder, commenced on the 2d of May, 1804; and was earnestly prosecuted during the years 1804–5, when a failure of funds compelled the Board, after the expenditure of about $100,000, to suspend the whole undertaking. The cause of this disaster is difficult now to trace; the Stockholders failed to pay their instalments, owing, in a degree, perhaps to the investments of their funds in the numerous Banks and Insurance Companies that were created about that period, which promised high and immediate profits; still the failure, it may be imagined, would not have occurred if the same practical knowledge and public spirit had existed then on the subject of Internal Improvements, which are now manifested almost every where. The Company, being without funds, made applications for aid whenever there appeared to be any hope of success, to Congress and to the Legislatures of the states of Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. The subject was introduced to the consideration of Congress, in 1806, by a memorial signed on behalf of the Company, which was accompanied by an able production entitled “Observations respecting the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.” Favorable reports, in the Senate, were made in 1806, 7, '9, "12 and 13, illustrating the great importance of the subject, and the advantages to be derived to the General Government, by a water communication from the Delaware to the Chesapeake Bay. It was recommended to grant to the Company certain quantities of land, from which source funds could be raised to complete the work; and, to this effect, several bills passed in the Senate—one in the session of the tenth Congress, and two in the eleventh Congress. ^ The House of Representatives have also had the subject under consideration, at different terms, from the year 1806 to the year 1824, and many resolutions have been adopted, and several committees to whom the subject had been referred, respectively .#. bills to the House to authorize the subscription oo stock. Bills of this description were reported in 1812, "13, and ’18, and the bill now on the table was reported at the last

session. In the mean time laws have passed favorable to the canal, in the states of Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. On the 18th of December, 1812, the Maryland Legis. lature enacted a law, the preamble of which I will be allowed to read—it is as follows: “whereas, during the time of war against the United States of America, the completion of the work of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal would be greatly beneficial to the United States, by forming the great link of an inland navigation of six or seven hundred miles, and, thereby establish a perfectly safe, easy, and rapid transportation of our armies and the munitions of war, through the interior of the country, and which would ever tend to operate as a cement to the union between the states; and, whereas the prosperity and the agricultural interest of the state of Maryland, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the Delaware state, are more deeply interested than their sister states, in the useful work of opening a communication between the Chesapeake Bay and the river Delaware, by means of the said Chesapeake and Delaware Canal—therefore, in order to enable the President and Directors of the said Canal to prosecute and finish the important work, be it enacted, &c.” The first section of the act authorized a conditional subscription, on the part of the state of Maryland, and declared that if the United States should subscribe seven hundred and fifty shares, the Commonweath of Pennsylvania three hundred and seventy-five shares and the state of Delaware one hundred shares, in the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company, in such case, the

"Treasurer of the Western Shore was authorized to sub

scribe, in behalf of the state of Maryland, two hundred and fifty shares. On the 25th of March, 1813, the Legislature of the state of Pennsylvania passed a law similar to the law of the state of Maryland, and embraced the preamble in full. It authorized a subscription to be made, on the part of Pennsylvania, of 375 shares, if the United States should subscribe 750 shares, the state of Maryland 250 shares, and the state of Delaware 100 shares. These laws never went into operation, as the United States and state of Delaware did not subscribe; and the project rested for a considerable time. In 1822, great exertions were again made, to revive the company, and to acquire new information and new subscriptions; and, in the year 1823, acts were passed, by which subscriptions, to the amount of $25,000, were obtained from the state of Delaware $50,000 from Maryland, and $100,000 from Pennsylvania, and new private subscriptions were made to the amount of $325,000. The whole ground was again explored, and every means taken to acquire the best information, at an expense of about $10,000; all which was submitted to the Board of examining Engineers, composed of General Bernard and Colonel Totten, of the United States’ Engineer Department, and Judge Wright and Mr. White, two civil engineers. These engineers unanimously determined on the route, in their opinion, the most eligible, beginning on the Delaware riv r, near Newbold's Landing, where an artificial harbor and tide-lock must be provided—the canal to be, cut through St. George's Meadows to St. George’s Dam, there to be lifted by a lock of eight feet; thence through St. George's Mill Pond, through the dividing ridge of the Peninsula, and through Turner's mill, to a lock of six feet fall at Turner's mill-dam; and thence, along Broad and Back creeks, to a tide-lock, near the mouth of Long creek. This report of the route, was unanimously adopted by the President and Directors of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company. The canal is to be sixty feet wide at the water's edge, thirty-six feet at the bottom, and eight feet deep, and fourteen miles in length. It is sufficient for the passage of our coasting vessels, and will accommodate itself with the Dismal Swamp Canal.

« ForrigeFortsett »