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For a time the new organization flour- | to their opponents to come over and work ished wonderfully. They adopted a leader together with them to defeat the Whigs. who was by no means a man of straw, but Democrats, cried the liberal Globe newsa powerful and able politician; in fact paper, with the characteristic Old Hunthe original organizer of the party of ker bon hommie, shall we go to work which they were now the most important and elect our whole ticket, which will enfaction. Mr. Van Buren led off the new able us all to partake of the fat things movement very handsomely, pledging him- which will fall from the Democratic cornuself to do every thing to prevent the ex- copia? or shall we remain divided, and be tension of slavery, and committing himself compelled for a number of years to feed on to nothing farther. It is said that he al- short commons, until we have not strength lowed himself to be placed in this position to withstand an old fashioned North Wesin order that he might revenge himself up- ter-what do you say? The appeal was on the Southern division of the party who irresistible; the two factions closed their had previously defeated his nomination at ranks, and voted together; but, to the However this may be, the amazement of all concerned, they were new faction succeeded in defeating the old beaten by a good majority. one; the Whigs came into power, and Old Hunkerism fell prostrate; deprived of office, and, consequently, as it had nothing else, deprived of organizing power. To be, at once, without office and without a principle, was the condition of Old Hunkerism; it consisted now of a clique of rejected office holders, who could not, for their lives, show any man a reason, or the shadow of a reason, why they should be returned to office-an imbecile and wretched condition.
That men should make sacrifices in a great cause is necessary to their success; they are called upon, in a good cause, to sacrifice whatever To sacrifice whatever is most dear and precious to them; and when such sacrifices have been made, how great is our sympathy and pity for those to whom they have availed nothing! The Barn Burner faction, stimulated by a patriotism truly elevated, resolved that no sacrifice should be esteemed too great for the advancement of that cause of which it was the sworn advocate; the cause, as it avowed it, of freedom and humanity; no sacrifice seemed too great; it was ready to throw aside that which it held most dear, its own jewel, its sole principle, its yery honor. As the principle for which it existed was the thing of all others which it held most dear, that was the thing of all others which it determined to sacrifice.
Finding their case hopeless, and witnessing with a sullen discontent and jealousy the rising power of their new enemies, formerly their brothers, or their sons, they began to make overtures to the new faction. Old Hunker made a very liberal offer to young Barn Burner that they two should clap each a shoulder to the wheel, and having, by the union of numbers, achieved a victory, they should divide the spoil between them. In New York especially, for some months previous to the late election, this union was agitated, and finally agreed upon by most of the leaders. Newspapers on the Old Hunker side addressed hearty and soul-stirring invitations
It did this, and lost the election ;-catastrophe truly to be deplored !-melancholy comment upon the vanity of human wishes, and the futility of the best laid schemes! It had laid a wager to swim across the river with a bag of gold, and as a preliminary step, threw away the bag.
J. D. W.
CANAL POLICY OF NEW YORK.
ABSTRACT OF THE LETTER OF MR. Ruggles.
On the 24th of October, SAMUEL B. RUG-| GLES, Esq., of this city, addressed to a committee of gentlemen residing in Rochester, an able letter in vindication of the policy that has been pursued in the construction of canals in this state, from the time of Clinton to the present period. Being too long for publication in the Review, we shall endeavor to furnish, in a condensed form, all its important facts and conclusions.
The great subject of his letter is introduced by asking three questions: "What is the present state of the Erie Canal enlargement? What has brought it to its present condition? What are its prospects?" The three questions, though distinct, he examines together. He first gives a graphic sketch of the three political parties at present existing in the state. The Whigs, he says, consist mainly of those, and the descendants of those, who supported CLINTON in the great work of the Erie Canal; -they are those who advocate, as part of their creed, improvements of the interior as well as of the sea-board, and who believe that the commerce of rivers, and canals, and lakes, are as important to national interests as that of the
Opposed to this party is that of those who call themselves Democrats. This last is divided into two sections, one of which is wholly averse to every kind of internal improvements at the expense of the state, and is known by the terrible name of "BARNBURNERS," the most prominent leader of which is Col. SAMUEL YOUNG, aided by Mr. MICHAEL HOFFMAN, and Mr. FLAGG, the late Comptroller.
Midway between this wing of the Democracy and the Whig party, is that portion who enjoy the comfortable title of "OLD HUNKERS;" and it is their creed that public works ought to be "judiciously" prosecuted-provided they themselves can fill the offices of honor or profit connected with the administration. The most eminent leader of this school is Governor MARCY.
The present generation, enjoying as it does the daily benefits of the Erie Canal, can hardly realize the difficulties which its projectors were obliged to encounter. Forty years ago, when the plan was first announced of constructing a canal from the Hudson River to Lake Erie, the idea was treated as purely
VOL. IV. NO. VI. NEW SERIES.
chimerical, and this was more especially true in the city of New York, among its merchants and capitalists. After an eight years' struggle, on the 15th of April, 1817, the law authorizing the Canal passed through the Legislature. The whole delegation of the City of New York voted against it.
It was during these contests that the political parties which even now agitate the State, found their origin and early organization. Mr. SILAS WRIGHT, since elected Governor, and Mr. AZARIAH C. FLAGG, the late Comptroller, came into public life about that time, the active opponents of Mr. CLINTON.
In 1823 Mr. CLINTON retired from the office of Governor; from the year 1810, when the first explorations and surveys were made, to the year 1823, he had held the honorary post of Canal Commissioner, without salary or emolument. In 1824, the great work was near its completion. His adversaries, having a majority in both branches of the Legislature, passed a joint resolution, supported by Mr. WRIGHT in the Senate, and Mr. FLAGG in the Assembly, removing him from that post, which he had so long and so ably filled.
The whole community was shocked at this cold-blooded, intentional insult to a great public benefactor. Mr. CLINTON was at once put in nomination for re-election as Governor the approaching autumn, and he swept Colonel YOUNG, the opposing candidate, from the field by an immense majority.
In the large views of Mr. CLInton, however valuable the Erie Canal might be, as the main commercial artery of the State, it needed the contributions of lateral canals, branching off into the more interior recesses of the country. He, therefore, recommended successive additions to the system, which should connect Lake Ontario and the Black River, the Cayuga and Seneca Lakes, and the fertile regions of the Genesee, the Susquehanna and the Allegany, with the great trunk traversing the State.
This was the origin of the lateral canals. From the moment of their construction they have been the theme of the most malignant abuse which party could devise. Disregarding their palpable effects in swelling the revenues of the main line and the general commerce of the State, their tolls have always
been studiously kept separate from those of the Erie Canal, and the expense of maintaining them in repair, is paraded by their opponents as a perpetual burthen upon the treasury of the State.
In 1827, Mr. WRIGHT, being still in the State Senate, in an elaborate Financial Report made war upon the whole Canal system, declaring that the actual income of the canals was highly exaggerated, and that any appropriations for other works, unless they should be more profitable than the Erie and Champlain Canals, "would hasten the period when direct taxation must be resorted to." The formula thus furnished by Mr. WRIGHT, has been faithfully repeated by the disciples of his political school ever since. But the fact has not verified the prediction. The Canal paid off its debt nine years after the Report, in July, 1836.
On the death of Mr. CLINTON, in the year 1828, the political power of the State passed, almost without opposition, into the hands of his late opponents, and Mr. WRIGHT became Comptroller, and in due course of time was succeeded by Mr. FLAGG. The manner in which the accounts are kept in the Comptroller's office, makes two distinct Funds,-The Canal Fund and the General Fund. The Canal Fund may be full to overflowing, but if the General Fund is low, there is a cry of an exhausted Treasury. The State may own the Canals, as it owns any other kind of property; and when the loans are cancelled which had been made to construct them, the liens held by lenders cease, and the revenues of the Canals may be applied to the general purposes of the State. When a tax, therefore, is recommended "to replenish the General Fund," it simply means a tax to pay off so much of the Canal debt. During the progress of the Erie Canal and before its revenues had been ascertained, the people paid a tax for its support, but in 1846 it was no longer necessary, and it was discontinued. In pursuance, however, of the policy which dictated his Report of 1827, Mr. WRIGHT, in 1830, as Comptroller, recommended the Legislature to levy once more a direct tax. The proposition was not adopted. It was repeated by him the next year, with the same bad success. In 1834 Mr. FLAGG became Comptroller, and until 1839, continued the system commenced by Mr. WRIGHT of urging the Legislature to impose a tax "to replenish the General Fund." In 1836, the revenues having accumulated to an amount sufficient to pay off the whole of the debt of the Erie and Champlain Canal, the Legislature virtually settled the matter by enacting that $400,000 should annually be taken from the Canal Fund and paid to the General Fund. In addition to this sum, an annual amount of about $310,000 was also received into the same Fund, from the auction and salt duties.
Nevertheless, on the opening of the Legislative Session of 1838, Mr. FLAGG again renewed his recommendation of a direct tax.
The subject was referred to a Committee of Ways and Means, of which Mr. RUGGLES was Chairman, and they resolved at once, as their predecessors had done for many years, that the tax was neither necessary nor expedient. They, however, instituted an inquiry as to what would be the fiscal effect of proceeding with more expedition in enlarging the Erie Canal; and to solve this, they endeavored to determine what would probably be its future re
In conducting the inquiry, the Committee considered the report made to the Assembly, a few days previously, by Mr. Bouck and his colleagues, Canal Commissioners, which predicted that in a few years after the completion of the enlargement, the tolls, being at the present rates, would exceed three millions of dollars annually. They added that they "believed the public interest would be essentially promoted by as speedy a completion of the enlargement of the Erie Canal as the facilities for obtaining means, &c., will justify." Thirteen years before this period, the Canal Commissioners, among whom were Colonel YOUNG and Mr. Bouck, declared that their anticipations as to the tolls "had uniformly fallen short of the reality," and they added, that "they had no doubt but the same fate awaited their present calculations." They then proceeded to estimate the prospective increase of tolls for the thirty years then next succeeding. The following is the result:-$1,000,000 for the year 1836; $2,000,000 for the year 1846; and $4,000,000 for the year 1856. The tolls, though materially reduced in rates, amounted, in reality, to $1,614,342, in 1836, and to $2,756,106, in 1846. At the same time, the Canal Commissioners predicted that within fifty years, nine-tenths of the merchandize transported upon the Canal, will pay toll, if it is chargeable, for the use of the whole length of the line. They then estimated the "annual receipt of tolls at nine millions and thirty one thousand and one hundred and seventy-six dollars."
The Report of 1838, was made in all honesty of purpose, and without indulging in any idle dreams of the imagination, but it has been made the standing subject for party ridicule and assault down to the present time.
The estimate of the Report of 1838 was, that if the Erie Canal should be enlarged, its tolls would reach the sum of $3,000,000 at the close of navigation in the year 1849. The Canal has not been enlarged, and its rates of toll have been reduced, and yet the tolls of the year 1848 were $3,252,212, and of the preceding year, (which was one of unusual activity,) $3,635,381. If, to the tolls of 1848, be added ten per cent. for reduction in the
-rates, (being $325,221,) it makes a total of | gle exception, the Committee advised no
In this amount are included the tolls of the lateral canals, the receipts of which, as kept separately, are about equivalent to their cost of maintenance. After making the proper allowance for the actual expense of repairs on the Erie Canal, the net revenue is $3,000,000 as predicted.
expenditure on any particular work whatever. They stated that if a debt of $40,000,000 should be incurred for public works, the money might be "safely borrowed, without imposing any burthens upon the people; and that if the views of the Canal Commissioners, as to the future revenues of the Canals, are correct, the whole amount, within thirty years, may be reimbursed and added to the productive property of the State."
In 1838 the Barnburners and Hunkers com
The doctrine that no debt should be incurred by the State for the purpose of constructing public works, is comparatively of recent origin. It was neither the theory nor the prac-manded a large majority in the Senate, but the tice of this State in 1838. At that time, the main question was, would their revenues pay the interest on a debt?
In the annual message of Governor MARCY, of that year, he expressly recommended to the Legislature the expediency of making more rapid progress in enlarging the Canal than it was possible to do with the surplus tolls alone. Mr. Bouck and the other Canal Commissioners substantially recommended the same thing. This implied, necessarily, either borrowing money or direct taxation. Even Mr. FLAGG would not have recommended the latter method. The Committee then had only to show that an annual revenue of $3,000,000 would be sufficient to pay the interest, at five per cent. on a debt of thirty millions, and reimburse the principal in less than twenty years, or on a debt of forty millions and reimburse it in twenty-eight years. The soundness of this portion of the Report was not questioned until two or three years after it was made. The attacks were made upon what were called its "fancies" and "visionary" character. But the fancies have become facts. Is not our debt at this very moment in process of rapid extinction by means of these very revenues? And is not the much lauded financial provision of the Constitution of 1846, founded on the assumption of the adequacy of these revenues?
Two years previous to 1838, the State had passed laws for constructing the Genesee Valley and Black River Canals, at an expense of at least $5,000,000, and for enlarging the Erie Canal at a cost which Mr. BoUCK and his colleagues had estimated at $12,416,150, but which, for greater caution, the Committee raised to $ 15,000,000. The Canal Engineers had also reported most favorably of the enlargement. The surplus tolls, at that time, amounted to a little less than $800,000 annually. Should they not increase faster than was then admitted by Mr. FLAGG and others, the time required for the enlargement would not be less than fifteen years, even if its cost should not exceed $15,000,000. At a cost of $25,000,000, the work could not be accomplished in less than twenty-five years at least. To save interest, therefore, the Committee recommended a resort to loans. With this sin
Report was favorably received by that body. An Assembly bill, authorizing a loan of $1,000,000 for expediting the enlargement, was actually amended in the Senate to $4,000,000, and in that shape it became a law. This law seemed to produce universal satisfaction throughout the State. The Canal Commissioners, in consequence of their scanty means, up to that time had been only able to put under contract a few scattered structures; but they were now enabled to operate with much more efficiency. Many aqueducts and locks had become decayed, and the safety of navigation rendered it desirable to rebuild them, and that of enlarged size. The three great aqueducts-two across the Mohawk and one at Rochester-were in a failing condition, and the expense of rebuilding them alone was nearly $1,000,000. The twenty-nine locks between Albany and Schenectady, when built, had been so clustered together as to cause most injurious delays in navigation; and the scanty supply of water afforded to the canal at Lockport rendering it necessary frequently to take from the manufacturing city of Rochester, the water from the Genesee river which was essential to the industry of its inhabitants, were evils which it was important to remedy with as little delay as possible. The work put under contract in the season of 1838, was directed chiefly to these points and purposes. The great effort was to relieve navigation of its most pressing embarrassments. The total cost of the works thus commenced under the law of 1838, including all that had been previously commenced, did not exceed $11,000,000.
At the opening of the Session of the Legislature of 1839, the war on the policy of 1838 was fairly commenced. Governor SEWARD, the first Whig successor of DE WITT CLINTON, came into office the firm supporter of that policy, while Mr. FLAGG, in his Annual Report, used his best efforts to show that the calculations of the Committee of Ways and Means of 1838 were conjectural and fallacious,-that the treasury could not safely rely on the rate of progress in the canal tolls which their estimate had assumed. Mr. GULIAN C. VERPLANCK, a gentleman of eminently conservative character, contended that the results predicted would be realized, and would warrant
left a vacancy in that body, and Mr. RUCGLES was elected by the Legislature to fill his place. In the year 1839 Mr. Bouck still adhered firmly to the policy of enlarging the Canal ;he was indeed the projector of it, and in the final discussion in the Canal Board of 1835, which settled its future dimensions, he voted for a depth of 8, and a width of 80 feet. It was, however, decided to have a depth of 7, and a width of 70 feet. On leaving the Board in 1840, he exhorted Mr. RUGGLES to disregard all petty and partizan considerations, and stand faithfully by the great enterprise.
an expenditure, if necessary, of $45,000,000, | while Mr. ALONZO C. PAIGE, the organ of the opposition, and the confidential friend of the Comptroller, took issue on the accuracy of the estimates. Mr. PAIGE in an elaborate minority Report, stated as the result of his calculations, that the tolls would only increase at the rate of one and two-thirds per cent. annually, until the year 1886, but "to make the allow ance more liberal," as he said, "ten per cent. is conceded for every period of six years." He then calculated the tolls at that rate, which gave for 1844, $1,555,400; for 1850, $1,710, 940, and he proceeded in the same ratio every As early as the year 1839, the columns of sixth year, until the year 1886, when he final- the leading journals opposed to the Canal poly brings out the sum of $3,031,032. He ex- licy began to be occupied with a plan to impressed his regret that he was obliged to differ pair the credit of the States, and it was evifrom Mr. VERPLANCK by a period so wide as dent that an attempt would be made to create forty years! but challenged the Senate to try a panic on the subject of the public debt of his conclusions. The history of the last the State of New York. Feeling the danger twelve years has settled the question, for the that was arising, it became important to contolls in 1847 reached the sum of $3,635,381, | fine the efforts of the State, for a time at least, passing the disputed point of $3,000,000, within more narrow limits. It was, therefore, 39 years sooner than Mr. PAIGE had predicted. resolved to restrict the work of the enlargeBut it was reserved for Colonel YOUNG, the ment to the locks and aqueducts. It was great leader of the opposition, to display his known that this would secure a considerable party in its strongest colors. In a Report portion of the total benefits of the work, by which he made as chairman of the Finance an expenditure of little more than $12,000,000, Committee of the Senate, all ages and nations, and it would serve as a convenient resting and conditions of man-Turk and Christian- point, should this alternative become necesJew and Gentile-every field of literature, an- sary. The section work, including land damcient and modern-scraps of verses, Latin and ages, was estimated at $12,000,000; but little English-bits of French-the sayings of Zeno- of it had been put under contract. In pursu phon and Thucydides, of Hume and Mon- ance of this policy, the Whig Canal Commistesquieu-the highlands of Scotland-the sioners, caused a section to be inserted in the plains of India-the pyramids of Egypt-the law of April 25th, 1840, enacting that no "new vulture of Prometheus, and the awful male-work should be put under contract on the endictions of Holy Writ, are summoned to find suitable epithets for the "serpents and generation of vipers" that were seeking to enlarge the Erie canal. In his better days Col. YOUNG had been an advocate of Internal Improvement, especially of the Champlain canal, near which he resided. In 1825, he reported to the Legislature an estimate that in 1856 the canal tolls would amount to $4,000,000.
From this time forward the Report and its author were made the subjects of every species of party ridicule and obloquy; and, as late as 1844, Mr. JOHN A. DIx, in a public meeting at Albany, with $2,500,000 of canal revenues then rolling in from the west and staring him full in the face, characterized the Report as a mere "work of the imagination," fit only to be classed with the Arabian Nights' Entertainments!
In the session of 1839, the Canal Commissioners reported that the enlargement would cost $23,402,800-being $10,000,000 beyond their former estimate. This state of facts raised a new financial question.
The death of the late General STEPHEN VAN RENNSELAER, long the honory and honored head of the Board of Canal Commissioners,
largement of the Erie Canal," except a section one mile long, through the city of Rochester, a lock which required rebuilding at Black Rock, and such work as should be necessary to render available the work then in progress. The next year a similar section was inserted at the request of the Canal Commissioners.
The total amount of contracts on the enlargement, made by the Whig Commissioners during the whole time they were in office, does not exceed one million of dollars; while Mr. RUGGLES, on the Genesee Valley Canal alone, by reducing the unnecessary cost of some of its structures, saved upwards of six hundred thousand dollars. So much for the "spendthrift" policy of Governor SEWARD and his Whig Administration.
In April, 1840, Mr. JOHN C. SPENCER, who was Secretary of State, and a leading member of the Canal Board, formed by uniting in one body the Canal Commissioners and the Canal Fund Commissioners, made a Report to the Assembly on the subject of the Canal policy of the State. The result at which he arrived was, that the increase in tolls, instead of being one and two-thirds per cent. as stated by Mr. PAIGE, would amount to seven per cent. per