Page images


been studiously kept separate from those of Nevertheless, on the opening of the Legislathe Erie Canal, and the expense of maintain-tive Session of 1838, Mr. Flagg again reing them in repair, is paraded by their oppo- newed his recommendation of a direct tax. nents as a perpetual burthen upon

the treasury

The subject was referred to a Committee of of the State.

Ways and Means, of which Mr. Rugales was In 1827, Mr. Wright, being still in the Chairman, and they resolved at once, as their State Senate, in an elaborate Financial Report predecessors had done for many years

, that the made war upon the whole Canal system, de- tax was neither necessary nor expedient. They, claring that the actual income of the canals however, instituted an inquiry as to what was highly exaggerated, and that any appro- would be the fiscal effect of proceeding with priations for other works, unless they should more expedition in enlarging the Erie Canal; be more profitable than the Erie and Cham- and to solve this, they endeavored to deterplain Canals, “would hasten the period when mine what would probably be its future redirect taxation must be resorted to." The formula thus furnished by Mr. WRIGHT, has In conducting the inquiry, the Committee been faithfully repeated by the disciples of his considered the report made to the Assembly, a political school ever since. But the fact has few days previously, by Mr. Bouck and his not verified the prediction. The Canal paid colleagues, Canal Commissioners, which preoff its debt nine years after the Report, in Ju- dicted that in a few years after the completion ly, 1836.

of the enlargement, the tolls, being at the On the death of Mr. CLINTON, in the year present rates, would exceed three millions of 1828, the political power of the State passed, dollars annually. They added that they " bealmost without opposition, into the hands of lieved the public interest would be essentially his late opponents, and Mr. WRIGHT became promoted by as speedy a completion of the Comptroller, and in due course of time was enlargement of the Erie Canal as the facilities succeeded by Mr. Flagg. The manner in for obtaining means, &c., will justify." Thirwhich the accounts are kept in the Comptrol- teen years before this period, the Canal Comler's office, makes two distinct Funds, – The missioners, among whom were Colonel Young Canal Fund and the General Fund. The Ca- and Mr. Bouck, declared that their anticipanal Fund may be full to overflowing, but if the tions as to the tolls" had uniformly fallen General Fund is low, there is a cry of an ex- short of the reality," and they added, that they hausted Treasury. The State may own the had no doubt but the same fate awaited their Canals, as it owns any other kind of property; present calculations." They then proceeded and when the loans are cancelled which had to estimate the prospective increase of tolls been made to construct them, the liens held by for the thirty years then next succeeding. The lenders cease, and the revenues of the Canals following is the result :-$1,000,000 for the may

be applied to the general purposes of the year 1836 ; $2,000,000 for the year 1846; and State. When a tax, therefore, is recommen- $4,000,000 for the year 1856. The tolls

, ded"to replenish the General Fund," it simply though materially reduced in rates, amounted, means a tax to pay off so much of the Canal in reality, to $1,614,342, in 1836, and to debt. During the progress of the Erie Canal $2,756,106, in 1816. At the same time, the and before its revenues had been ascertained, Canal Commissioners predicted that within the people paid a tax for its support, but in fifty years, nine-tenths of the merchandize 1846 it was no longer necessary, and it was transported upon the Canal, will pay toll, if it discontinued. In pursuance, however, of the is chargeable for the use of the whole length policy which dictated his Report of 1827, Mr. of the line. They then estimated the “annual Wright, in 1830, as Comptroller, recommen- receipt of tolls at nine millions and thirty one ded the Legislature to levy once more a direct thousand and one hundred and seventy-six tax. The proposition was not adopted. It dollars." was repeated by him the next year, with the The Report of 1838, was made in all honsame bad success. In 1834 Mr. Flagg be- esty of purpose, and without indulging in any came Comptroller, and until 1839, continued idle dreams of the imagination, but it has been the system commenced by. Mr. Wright of made the standing subject for party ridicule urging the Legislature to impose a tax “to and assault down to the present time. replenish the General Fund." In 1836, the The estimate of the Report of 1838 was, revenues having accumulated to an amount that if the Erie Canal should be enlarged, its sufficient to pay off the whole of the debt of tolls would reach the sum of $3,000,000 at the Erie and Champlain Canal, the Legislature the close of navigation in the year 1849. The virtually settled the matter by enacting that Canal has not been enlarged, and its rates of $400,000 should annually be taken from the toll have been reduced, and yet the tolls of the Canal Fund and paid to the General Fund. In

year 1848 were $3,252, 212, and of the preaddition to this sum, an annual amount of ceding year, (which was one of unusual acabout_$310,000 was also received into the tivity,) $3,635,381. If, to the tolls of 1848, same Fund, from the auction and salt duties. I be added ten per cent. for reduction in the rates, (being $325,221,) it makes a total of gle exception, the Committee advised no $ 3,577,433.

expenditure on any particular work whatever. In this amount are included the tolls of the They stated that if a debt of $40,000,000 lateral canals, the receipts of which, as kept should be incurred for public works, the money separately, are about equivalent to their cost might be safely borrowed, without imposing of maintenance. After making the proper any burthens upon the people; and that if allowance for the actual expense of repairs on the views of the Canal Commissioners, as to the Erie Canal, the net revenue is $3,000,000 the future revenues of the Canals, are correct, as predicted

the whole amount, within thirty years, may The doctrine that no debt should be incurred be reimbursed and added to the productive by the State for the purpose of constructing property of the State.” public works, is comparatively of recent ori- In 1838 the Barnburners and Hunkers comgin. 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 Report was favorably received by that body. main question was, would their revenues pay An Assembly bill, authorizing a loan of $1,the interest on a debt?

000,000 for expediting the enlargement, was In the annual message of Governor Marcy, actually amended in the Senate to $4,000,000, of that year; he expressly recommended to the and in that shape it became a law. This law Legislature the expediency of making more seemed to produce universal satisfaction rapid progress in enlarging the Canal ihan it throughout the State. The Canal Commiswas possible to do with the surplus tolls alone. sioners, in consequence of their scanty means, Mr. Bouck and the other Canal Commissioners up to that time had been only able to put unsubstantially recommended the same thing. der contract a few scattered structures ; This implied, necessarily, either borrowing but they were now enabled to operate with money or direct taxation. Even Mr. Flagg much more efficiency. Many aqueducts and would not have recommended the latter method. locks had become decayed, and the safety of The Committee then had only to show that an navigation rendered it desirable to rebuild annual revenue of $3,000,000 would be suf- them, and that of enlarged size. The three ficient to pay the interest, at five per cent. on great aqueducts—two across the Mohawk and a debt of thirty millions, and reimburse the one at Rochester—were in a failing condition, principal in less than twenty years, or on a and the expense of rebuilding them alone was debt of forty millions and reimburse it in twen- nearly $1,000,000. The twenty-nine locks ty-eight years. The soundness of this por between Albany and Schenectady, when built, tion of the Report was not questioned until had been so clustered together as to cause two or three years after it was made. The most injurious delays in navigation; and the attacks were made upon what were called its scanty supply of water afforded to the canal “ fancies” and “visionary” character. But at Lockport rendering it necessary frequently the fancies have become facts. Is not our to take from the manufacturing city of Rochdebt at this very moment in process of rapid ester, the water from the Genesee river which extinction by means of these very revenues ? was essential to the industry of its inhabitants, And is not the much lauded financial provision were evils which it was important to remedy of the Constitution of 1846, founded on the with as little delay as possible. The work put assumption of the adequacy of these rev- under contract in the season of 1838, was dienues ?

rected chiefly to these points and purposes. Two years previous to 1838, the State had The great effort was to relieve navigation of passed laws for constructing the Genesee Val- its most pressing embarrassments. The total ley and Black River Canals, at an expense of cost of the works thus commenced under the at least $ 5,000,000, and for enlarging the Erie law of 1838, including all that had been previCanal at a cost which Mr. Bouck and his ously commenced, did not exceed $11,000,000. colleagues had estimated at $12,416,150, but At the opening of the Session of the Legiswhich, for greater caution, the Committee lature of 1839, the war on the policy of 1838 raised to $ 15,000,000. The Canal Engineers was fairly commenced. Governor SEWARD, had also reported most favorably of the en- the first Whig successor of De Witt Clinlargement. The surplus tolls, at that time, ton, came into office the firm supporter of that amounted to a little less than $800,000 an- policy, while Mr. Flagg, in his Annual Report, nually. Should they not increase faster than used his best efforts to show that the calculawas then admitted by Mr. Flagg and others, tions of the Committee of Ways and Means the time required for the enlargement would of 1838 were conjectural and fallacious,—that not be less than fifteen years, even if its cost the treasury could not safely rely on the rate should not exceed $15,000,000. At a cost of of progress in the canal tolls which their es. $25,000,000, the work could not be accom- timate had assumed. Mr. GULIAN C. VERplished in less than twenty-five years at least. PLANCK, a gentleman of eminently conservaTo save interest, therefore, the Committee re- tive character, contended that the results precommended a resort to loans. With this sin- dicted would be realized, and would warrant

an expenditure, if necessary, of $45,000,000, left a vacancy in that body, and Mr. RUCGLES
while Mr. ALONZO C. Paige, the organ of the was elected by the Legislature to fill his place.
opposition, and the confidential friend of the In the year 1839 Mr. Bouck still adhered
Comptroller, took issue on the accuracy of the firmly to the policy of enlarging the Canal ;-
estimates. Mr. Paige in an elaborate minori- he was indeed the projector of it, and in the
ty Report, stated as the result of his calcula- final discussion in the Canal Board of 1835,
tions, that the tolls would only increase at the which settled its future dimensions, he voted
rate of one and two-thirds per cent. annually, for a depth of 8, and a width of 80 feet. It
until the year 1886, but “to make the allow was, however, decided to have a depth of 7,
ance more liberal,” as he said, “len per cent. and a width of 70 feet. On leaving the Board
is conceded for every period of six years." in 1840, he exhorted Mr. RUGGLES to disre-
He then calculated the tolls at that rate, which gard all petty and partizan considerations, and
gave for 1844, $1,555,400; for 1850, $1,710, stand faithfully by the great enterprise.
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 po-
ly brings out the sum of $3,031,032. He ex- licy began to be occupied with a plan to im-
pressed his regret that he was obliged to differ pair the credit of the States, and it was evi-
from 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 con-
tolls 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 enlarge-

But 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 pursuphon 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 | largement of the Erie Canal,” except a secsuitable epithets for the “serpents and gene- tion one mile long, through the city of Rochesration of vipers" that were seeking to enlarge ter, a lock which required rebuilding at Black the Erie canal. In his better days Col. Young Rock, and such work as should be necessary had been an advocate of Internal Improves to render available the work then in progress. ment, especially of the Champlain canal, near The next year a similar section was inserted which he resided. In 1825, he reported to the at the request of the Canal Commissioners. Legislature an estimate that in 1856 the canal The total amount of contracts on the entolls would amount to $4,000,000.

largement, made by the Whig Commissioners From this time forward the Report and its during the whole time they were in office, does author were made the subjects of every spe- not exceed one million of dollars ; while Mr. cies of party ridicule and obloquy; and, as RUGGLES, on the Genesee Valley Canal alone, late as 1844, Mr. John A. Dix, in a public by reducing the unnecessary cost of some of meeting at Albany, with $2,500,000 of canal its structures, saved upwards of six hundred revenues then rolling in from the west and thousand dollars. So much for the "spendstaring him full in the face, characterized the thrift” policy of Governor SEWARD and his Report as a mere “work of the imagination,” Whig Administration. fit only to be classed with the Arabian Nights' In April, 1840, Mr. John C. SPENCER, who Entertainments!

was Secretary of State, and a leading member In the session of 1839, the Canal Commis- of the Canal Board, formed by uniting in one sioners reported that the enlargement would body the Canal Commissioners and the Canal cost $23,402,800—being $10,000,000 beyond Fund Commissioners, made a Report to the their former estimate. This state of facts Assembly on the subject of the Canal policy raised a new financial question.

of the State. The result at which he arrived The death of the late General STEPHEN VAN was, that the increase in tolls, instead of being RENNSELAER, long the honory and honored one and two-thirds per cent. as stated by Mr. head of the Board of Canal Commissioners, | Paige, would amount to seven per cent. per

[ocr errors]

annum for every successive period of seven, by party—and none of the inhabitants had years; or seven and a half per cent. annually any political object in destroying its public for every period of ten years. He estimated the credit. Although feeling the effect of the getolls from 1840 to 1846, both inclusive, at neral depression, the city issued seven per $15,602,745—they actually amounted to $15,- cent. stocks to the amount of $1,900,000, and 490,076; showing a variation of only $112,- finished the work. Had the state policy been 669 in this immense sum. He then expressed pursued, not a drop of water would have the opinion of the Fund Commissioners, that flowed through the aqueduct to this day. it would be safe to add to the debt of the State By the last Report of the Commissioners of three millions annually, for the next five the Canal Fund, it appears that the whole years. This sum would have fulfilled all ex- amount of loans made for the enlargement of isting contracts, and have brought into use all the Canal, up to the 30th of September, the locks and aqueducts on the enlargement. 1848, was $10,122,000: of this amount: $8, Under the law of 1838, the State had already 150,000 had been authorized previous to 1842. borrowed $4,000,000 for that purpose; but the balance, $1,972,000, represents the whole they proceeded to authorize loans for the ad- amount due to contractors on the 29th of ditional amounts of $2,000,000 in 1840, and March, 1842, including the damages paid for $2,150,000 in 1841, making the sum total for rescinding their contracts. the enlargement of $8,150,000.

MR. COLLIER, the Whig Comptroller, proIn the year 1841, a general depression of posed to issue seven per cent. stocks for a public stocks was experienced throughout the moderate amount; but he was displaced, and United States. The Ohio Six per cents were Mr. Flagg again succeeded to the office. No secured both by a pledge of the canal tolls of money was raised or sought for on any terms. that State and a permanent authority of their The improvements of the public works were state officers to levy a direct tax, should there doomed, by the party now having the power, be any deficiency. Such a provision could to be stopped, and they were stopped. The safely have been adopted in this state, and it Canal from Albany to Buffalo was strewed would have silenced demagogues, who were with the wreck. The Legislature paid $10,000 loud in denying its pecuniary solvency. Pro- for removing materials which encumbered the tected by this provision, the Ohio Sixes sold in ground' most required for immediate use in 1839 for 105 per cent. In April, 1841, they | Lockport; and the contractor, for that very had fallen to 91 per cent. Within the same work, obtained $74,000 as damages for the period, New York Six per cents fell from 97 rescinding of his contract. to 85 per cent.

Although the law contemplated stopping all In the autumn of 1841, the anti-improve the public works, yet there was provision ment party, headed by Mr. MICHAEL HOFF- made for a limited class of cases, in which the MAN, were in the ascendancy in both branches State officers should deem the work necessary of the Legislature. They had the power to to preserve or secure the navigation of the control the public works, by either suspending navigable canal, of which it was a part-or them, proceeding with them slowly, or stop- to preserve work already done, from destrucping them wholly.

tion by ice or floods or where the completion In January, 1842, two months after the would cost less than the expense of preservelection, the Ohio Six per cents fell to 67 ing the part done. But even this clause was per cent., and in March were sold at 52 per disregarded. The new Jordan level was an cent. The Five per cent. stocks of the city independent line of new canal 11 1-2 miles of New York, being the Croton Water Loan, / long, which dispensed with two locks, and which had been sold in April, 1841, at 85, fell united three levels in one. It had cost $530,to 75 in February, 1842, while the stock of 429, and required but $42,178 to bring it into the Bank of Commerce, a proverbially con- use. The old navigation was actually hazservative institution, was depreciated in a still ardous; but the State officers peremptorily regreater degree. The city of New York, instead fused to allow it to be completed. of laying a tax to pay the interest of the Cro- The Scobarie creek, in times of floods, was ton Stock, compounded and added it to the dangerous for boats to cross, and often caused principal,--the policy being to expedite the very serious delay to great numbers which, at work as rapidly as possible and render it pro- such times, were obliged to wait for the stream ductive, when a tax, if necessary, could be to subside. To obviate this inconvenience a adjusted to make up the difference between the fine aqueduct, on ten or twelve stone arches, revenue and the interest. The city had ex- was completed, at a cost of $179,000, and it pended about $11,000,000_a little more than required only the expenditure of $37,617 to the state had expended on the Erie enlarge- adapt it to the levels of the enlarged canal. ment. The city was receiving nothing from the This was also refused. aqueduct—the state was receiving large and In 1844, Mr. Flagg and his associates, the increasing annual revenues from the canal. Canal Commissioners, made a Report, quesThe Croton Aqueduct had never been attacked tioning the policy and necessity of enlarging


the canal at all, for the purpose of cheapening

Add to this the loss for the useless movement transportation. This was intended as a death of 18,725,150 miles, and we approach to blow to the canal enlargement. Mr. HORACE something like a demonstrable amount of the SEYMOUR, of Utica, an eminent Hunker, and loss that the public will have sustained by the Chairman of the Canal Committee, strongly Stop law at the end of the seven years! But opposed it, and succeeded in passing a law when will the work be completed? The fucompelling the State officers to complete, and ture appears as full of loss as the past. We bring into use, the Jordan level and the Sco- are full of amazement at the infatuation harie aqueduct—but under the pretence of a which could have led the people to submit to repair of the Erie canal. At the same session, a policy so suicidal. the Canal Committee also showed the impor- In 1846 the three political parties in this tance of enlarging, without further delay, the State met in Convention to make a new Conremaining 15 locks between Syracuse and stitution. So long as the people are satisfied Rochester. The cost, they showed, would not with the result, the Constitution will continue. exceed $1,350,000. Nothing was done. This Mr. HOFFMAN came into the Convention flush. measure would have been one of great value, ed with his triumph of 1842, and resolved to for, by allowing boats of the increased size engraft its whole spirit into our organic law. (of 105 tons) instead of 70 tons to pass be- But time and circumstances had dissipated, in tween the Hudson and Buffalo, two boats would a good degree, the clouds which had envelopbe able to carry as much as three of the pres- ed the public mind. After establishing a sinkent capacity. The number of miles run by ing fund out of the revenues of the canal to the boats in 1844 was 6,740,740, which might re-imburse the debt, he condescended, as an have been diminished one third, or 2,246,913 act of sovereign grace, to allow $2,500,000 in miles, if vessels of the larger measurement the aggregate, to be applied at some future pehad been employed. The economy of saving riod, not to the enlargement, but to the "imannually such an immense movement is obvi- provement” of the Erie Canal. Black River

and Gennesee Valley were left to their fate. Mr. RUGGLES proceeds to show the amount Mr. Bouck had become Governor during of useless movement that the boats and car- the darkest hour of the Stop law, and was goes of the canal have been and will be obli- now a member of the Convention. Although ged to perform in the "seven years" of folly the author of the Enlargement policy, he was which have followed the Stop law. Under the elected Governor by the very party who were Whig policy, the locks could and would have loudest in denouncing the policy to which bis been finished, at the farthest, by the spring of whole life had been devoted. It was a sorry 1844. The movement of boats, independent sight to see him, in the Executive chair, susof those from the lateral canals, during the taining the act of 1842; but such only was five years from 1844 to 1848, inclusive, has the tenure by which the office could be held! been 39,831,550 miles; and by adding 1849 In the Constitutional Convention of 1846 and 1850, there will be a total of 56,175,450 he had regained so much of his former tone, miles. Of this, 18,725,150 could have been as to oppose Mr. HOFFMAN, and he was supsaved to the community. This loss falls chief- ported by most of the Hunkers. The result ly on the agricultural classes. To the loss of was, that the provision was finally adopted individuals must be added the loss of interest, which secured the ultimate completion of the which in these seven years of delay falls upon Erie Canal Enlargement, and the Genesee Valthe treasury. The enlargement had cost in ley and Black River Canals. 1842, including interest, at least $13,000,000 The "compromise," as it is termed, of the To finish the locks and aque

Constitution of 1846, consists in prohibiting ducts in 1844, the further

the State from using its credit, except on coninterest for two years would

ditions that virtually render it impracticablenot have exceeded

$1,600,000 for it assumes that the principal and interest of

any debt hereafter to be incurred can only be

$14,600,000 discharged by means of direct taxes to be imTo which add cost of locks

posed on all the property of the State, and and aqueducts themselves,

that the taxes shall be sufficient to pay the inaccording to Mr. SEY

terest and redeem the principal in eighteen MOUR's Report,

$1,400,000 years. A tax of this kind would fall equally

on those who are and those who are not be

$16,000,000 nefitted by an improvement. And, moreover, Loss by the seven years' de

the people would scarcely submit to a tax for lay-interest from 1844 to

eighteen years, when the State possesses am1851 on the $14,600,000

ple revenues to pay the interest and extinguish at simple interest,

5,932,000 the principal of a debt. The Constitution

therefore, by adopting this provision, practiMaking a total cost in 1851 of $21,932,000 cally declares that no further improvement

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »