Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress Page: 77
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-To Gales & Sexton's Register.
2d Session. 5
On Internal Improvements.
[K. of R.
Orleans, is estimated at 1,330 miles, ancl requires a tra-
vel of 24 days in the winter and spring seasons of the
year. The mail on this route is sometimes entirely ob-
structed by high waters; and, when this is not the cose,
it is frequently much injured by the mail horses swim-
ming creeks and through swamps, by which newspapers
are frequently destroyed, and letters obliterated. In
the report, it is further remarked, that the route, by the
way of Warrenton, Abington, and Knoxville, affords
great facilities for the construction of a mail road.
Through Virginia and Tennessee, the materials are
abundant for the formation of a Turnpike, and through
the states of Alabama and Mississippi, it is believed,
from information which has been obtained, that, in no
part of the Union, can an artificial road, of the same
length, be constructed at less expense. On this, part of
the route, the face of the country is level, and the soil
well adapted for the formation of a solid road. • If a sub-
stantial road were made in this direction to New Or-
leans, the mail could be transported to that place from
this city, in eleven days. It the road were to pass
through the capitals of Virginia, North Carolina, and
Georgia, it could be conveyed in less than twelve days.
The Department now pays at the rate of $52 76 a mile
for the transportation of the mail three times in each
week to New Orleans; when, on a good turnpike road,
it could be conveyed in a stage as often, and in less than
half the time, at the same expense, with the utmost
security* and with a considerable increase to the re-
ceipts of the Department.
The committee are of opinion, that it would result to
the public benefit to make experiments, in this District,
of a rail road, and of a road, constructed on M'Adam's
plan, for short distances, and in places where they would
be useful, as well as for inspection.
On the subject of the inland navigation of the coun-
try, a mass o! information is contained in the reports of
the Secretary of the Treasury, of the 41 h of April, 1808;
of the Secretary of War, on the 3d of December, 1824;
of the United Siates' Board of Engineers ; and of Canal
Commissioners in the States.
Is is believed to be practicable, and by no means at an
unreasonable expense, compared with the high import-
ance of the subject, to make an inland water communi-
cation from Boston to St. Mary's, and to connect the
waters of the Atlantic with those of the Gulf or Mexico.
In 1808, the Secretary of the Treasury indicated a canal
to be opened 550 miles in length, at an expense of
?o0,000,0C0, and ten year's labor ; and as great as tiie
expense would be, he thought the advantages of dis-
charging the Mississippi into the Atlantic ocean, through
the territory of the state of Georgia, worth it all. Hut,
since the acquisition of Florida, a new route presents it-
self, to commence on the Mississippi, at the mouth of
the river Iberville, and terminate at the mouth of St.
John's river, on the coast of. Florida. The whole dis-
tance is 700 miles; but the distance to be canalled,
would not exceed 120 miles, and would save a distance
of navigation of 1,500 miles. The cost of this unuei tak-
ing, from the information received, would be about six
millions of dollars.
By virtue of an appropriation, made in March, 1823,
the obstruction between the harbor of Gloucester, and
the harbor <.f Squam, in the state of Massachusetts, has
been removed. It consisted of a narrow isthmus of sand,
which had been thrown into a passage that formerly ex-
isted there, and, by the constant action of the waves, in
heavy gales of wind, had been filled up for, perhaps, a
hundred years, and had completely connected the island
of Cape Ann with the main land. By this improvement,
which was perfected under the auspices of the Genera!
Government, the coasting trade, from all parts of Boston
Bay, enjoys the great advantage, in particular seasons of
the year, and circumstances of weather, but especially
in winter, of passing through, from the harbor of Glou-
cester, by Squam, into Ipswich Bay, and thence to New-
buryport, Portsmouth, Portland, &c. and are saved the
difficulty and risk of doubling Cape Ann.
No improvements of which the country is capable,
would conduce more to internal commerce and military
defence, than this chain of inland water communication
along the Atlantic, and its extension to the Mississippi.
As to commerce, the communication by this canal
route, is from North to South about fifteen degrees, and
the produce of the South, cotton, rice, tobacco, sugars,
and the fruits of the climate, could be taken to the land-
ings and towns, as far as the extreme point of the North,
in a short time, and the boats could return with the ma-
nufactures of tiie North and Middle states. This canal
route, in its course, would connect itself with all the va-
luable streams from the Mississippi to the North, and
would save from wrecks large amounts of property. It
is estimated that, on the Keys and Shoals of the Florida
coast alone, 500,000 dollars worth of property is wreck-
ed annually. >
As to military defence, these improvements would be
equally valuable: as the extent of our coast gives to an
enemy possessing a powerful naval force, the advantage
of selecting the place of attack ; but, by means of such
a water conveyance, one army could defend a great dis-
tance of the seaboard, as it could be transported to any
point in a short period.
With such a line of defence, no discreet General
would venture far into the interior of the country, when
his retreat would be so easily cutoff and his defeat ren-
dered almost certain.
fn the other extreme of the country, the Lakes can be
connected with the St- Lawrence and the Mississippi
rivers. The falls of Niagara, it is believed, can be avoid-
ed by a canal of about ten miles, and on such a scale as
to admit vessels which navigate both Lakes ; and at an
expense not exceeding a million of dollars. Lake Mich-
igan can be connected by a canal with the waters of the
Illinois river, which empties into the Mississippi. And
to effect this communication, a law was passed in 1820,
by Congress, authorizing the state of Illinois to open a
canal through the public lands.
Already, steam boats of 450 tons, with full cargoes,
have passed from Buffalo to the Southern extremities of
Lake Michigan, a distance of 800 or 900 miles. The
whole of tiiis navigation is on the Lakes, except the
passage through the strait between Lakes Michigan and
Huron, of ten miles; the strait between Huron and St.
Clair, of thirty-five miles; and the strait between St.
Clair and Lake Eric, of twenty-eight miles: making, in
the whole, seventy-three miles; but through each of these
straits there is sufficient depth of water for sloops and
steamboats of the burthen just mentioned. With im-
provements of no extraordinary magnitude, there can be
a water communication from New Orleans to Quebec;
and inland navigations from the Atlantic, across to, this
extensive line, may be effected from various points. In
New England, the Penobscot, Kennebec, and Connecti-
cut rivers, approach the waters of the St. Lawrence ; and
a project is said to be in contemplation to connect the
waters of Lake Memphramagog- with the Connecticut
river, through the Barton and Wiiloughby rivers, Wil-
lougliby Lake and t'asamsick river, to the Connecticut
river, opposite the town of Lyman, in the state of New
Hampshire. !t is also expected, that the Government
of Canada will undertake to open a water communica-
tion for boats, from Memphramagog Lake, (through Kio
St. Francois, to Lake St. Peter's, in the river St. Law-
rence, and thence to Quebec : And thus, to give an in-
land water communication from Qucbec to Portsmouth,
Boston, Hartford, and New York. And it is believed
that a direct water communication may be opened from
the state of Vermont, through the interior of the state
of New Hampshire, to Dover, Portsmouth and Boston
Navy Yards, which will facilitate the transportation ol
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Gales, Joseph, 1761-1841. Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress, book, 1825; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc30752/m1/453/: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.