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there is no market at his door, and if fifty miles from any direct means of transit, he cannot sell at all, neither can he get it to market so as to leave anything as a reward for his toil. Thus you see him in the wilderness, remote from civilization, destitute of comforts, and nearly a demi-savage; his labor, it is true, produces food from the earth; but he cannot exchange with the different branches of industry, and is not a source of wealth or power to the
Projects have been offered, and some are on foot, for the construction of a road at the expense of the nation. Against this plan a number of obstacles present themselves of a character too weighty and formidable to be removed or got over. Independently of economical considerations, which should always lead us to prefer individual to public enterprises, it will be highly politic for the present administration to avoid entering upon too extended a system of internal improvements; in consideration not only of the just prejudices of a large portion of the people against a lavish expenditure of the public monies, but in view also of the great caution necessary to avoid the disgrace and odium of an augmentation of the public debt.
The expenses of the war should be at least provided for, previous to any further engagements; excepting such only as are of obvious necessity for the promotion of our grandest interests. While the absolute necessities of our internal trade demand a large appropriation for the improvement of river and harbor navigation, while the Mexican affair continues to draw heavily upon the public purse,while the exigencies of foreign commerce require that the navy be maintained and even increased,-while the southwestern frontier requires the continual vigilance of a full military establishment,-while the poverty of foreign ambassadors calls for an increase of their salaries;-and besides these demands, while the augmentation of our territory compels a steadily increasing expenditure for the ordinary purposes of government, the most sanguine among the friends of internal improvement will pause to consider before they venture upon any new and costly projects.
Nevertheless, it has become evident that the addition of California and New
Mexico, creating a new republic, composed of a mixed population of adventurers, with foreign views and sympathies, to be bound to our mighty empire on the western side of the continent, has made it necessary that some means of speedy communication should be established between ourselves and the new territories. The wealth, the peace, and the unity of the entire people, are clearly the great ends for which governments were established; and in the pursuit of those ends, every measure which wisdom and a strict economy may dictate, is to be studiously advised and put in practice; nor can any measure be regarded as in spirit unconstitutional which is directed towards these ends.
Governments, at least republican, (and therefore just and economical,) assume to do no more than is their duty; and that duty being always measured by necessity and policy, cannot properly engage them in enterprises which may better be carried on by states, cities, or individuals. If a combination of private fortunes can be made, which shall carry out grand schemes of internal improvement, the government will only sanction and defend such enterprises. It will not engage in foreign or internal trade, but will only protect it and fortify it. It will not offer to educate those who have the means to educate themselves. It will not give money to corporations or to combinations of adventurers, when these adventurers are looking solely to their own profit, and cannot establish their claim to assistance upon the ground that their enterprise is a strictly national one, and is to be of national importance, nor then, when it is clear that everything can be accomplished under the mere protection and countenance of the law. The property of the citizens belongs to them and to their children; and governments have no right to appropriate a cent of it on theoretic or speculative grounds, or for purposes not clearly national, and of which all are expected ultimately to share the benefit. That portion, however, may be taken as an equitable tax, which they find necessary for the common good, and they are free to appropriate it as seems best.
One of the last improvements of civilization is the construction of a perfect road.
Nor can any combination of two or three States undertake such an enterprise. Would all the States of the North, or those of the South, or those bordering upon the Mississippi, agree to bear the burthen of a project of which every State from Maine to Florida is to reap an equal benefit? If the enterprise is undertaken by States, it must be by all the States in Union, in other words, by the Union itself.
For those grand routes by which distant | The land for such a purpose must be nations are brought together, and whose either granted free of charge, or paid for existence is absolutely necessary to the out of the profits of the roads made upon general advancement of the race, the re- it, or the lands sold near it. sources of empires are required to be expended. Many of the famous naval and military expeditions of antiquity, supposed by some to have been instigated by the ambition of conquest, were undoubtedly undertaken for the extension of commerce. Such were the expeditions of Sesostris and other conquerors. By means of great roads over those chains of mountains which intersect the continent of Europe, the European kingdoms are united in a grand republic of nations. The union of the States of North America depends, far more than is imagined, upon those great roads which facilitate the free and rapid interchange of trade and information between their inhabitants. Civilization and Christianization follow the great commercial routes toward the frontier. The making of a national road is an epoch in a nation's history, equal at least in importance to that of the acquisition of a new territory.
Not to dwell too long upon the generalities of the subject, we may take it for granted that our readers are well aware of the importance of an immediate establishment of a free and perfect communication between ourselves and our Pacific colonies; so soon to become powerful states.
Setting aside for the present all inquiries into the difficulties into which the gold mania and the hasty emigration which it occasions are to bring upon us; setting aside such considerations as savoring too mnch of a croaking and inauspicious disposition, we have now to consider only what can be done to keep pace with that emigration, and to convert the greatest evil of a nation, a costly colony, into a benefit and a source of wealth and power. First, then, it is conceded by all parties that a road must be established, and it is equally admitted that the enterprise should be begun without delay; the necessities of the country and the world creating an immediate and pressing want of such a road. No one man or company of men could afford to buy from government out of their private resources a strip of land extending from Lake Michigan to the Pacific. That is quite impossible.
But as no man will pretend to contest the constitutionality of a measure that is clearly necessary for the "general welfare" of the nation-a measure intended to obviate the danger of a final separation between the new colonies and the mother country-to say nothing of the gradual alienation of a population composed in great part of foreigners, and whom it will be easy to alienate and separate from ourselves by neglect or bad government, or by the mere suspension or difficulty and infrequency of intercourse-in view of such necessities, the question of constitutionality may be set aside as irrelevant.
The necessity for such a road is immediate. A few years' delay may bring incalculable evils upon the colonies, and must meanwhile deprive the entire nation of those commercial and social advantages to be reaped from intercourse with them; and through them, with the Asiatic side of the globe. Had the sums of money that were expended in overrunning Mexico been laid out in the quiet purchase of California and New Mexico, and in the immediate construction of a road connecting the Pacific with the Atlantic States, the wisdom and foresight of the measure would have placed us in the estimation of the world in advance of all civilized communities. As it is, we have the territories, and by a singular coincidence, we are enabled by the ingenuity and boldness of a single mind, aided by a moderate private fortune, to accomplish at least the greater part of what is demanded in this critical state of our affairs.
The government, loaded with debt, cannot conscientiously suggest to the people a proposition involving great expense.
The party whose voices are always loud against expenditure when they are out of office, stands ready to oppose every measure undertaken upon a general theory of internal improvement. At this crisis a citizen of New York steps forward and offers to accomplish the desires, and meet the necessities of the empire by a plan at once bold, original, and calculated upon a certainty of success.
Beside these considerations lie others of at least equal importance in the view of humanity; namely, that the undertaking of this work is the first step toward a free, social communication between the American and Asiatic continents. Since the establishment of Christianity there has been a steady effort on the part of the more enlightened to extend the influence of true religion and of civilization over the inhabitants of China and India; to which are now to be added the islands of the Southern Seas. This divine enterprise has been prosecuted hitherto with but little successnot from any want of zeal or perseverance on the part of European and American Christians, but because the grand preliminary step, the establishment of a free and universal commerce between the two sides of the globe has never been realized. The crusaders attempted the conversion of Asia by force of arms, and their expeditions invariably failed, because they were contradictory to the spirit of a pure beneficence. There remains but one other method of preparing the Asiatic nations for the reception of the truth; and that is, to raise their opinion of the Western races, and awaken kindly and respectful feelings in them toward ourselves, by a free and constant commercial intercourse. As a Christian and a republican people, we acknowledge no conquests saving those of superior industry and intelligence. By that conquest and by none other, we may subdue and civilize the hordes of Asia. By establishing a free and rapid communication with the Pacific coast, we, therefore, not only promote the Union, and strengthen and confirm our own empire, but we take the initiatory step toward the accomplishment of the grand design of Christian benevolence, the civilization and instruction of Asia.
It would be impossible, in the limits allowed us, to set before the reader all the
consequences which must certainly follow the opening of a free communication between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts; these advantages have been shown at large, and sufficiently dwelt upon, by others. To those of our readers who have not made a particular study of the subject, our author's pamphlet will convey all the desired information.* We shall dwell no longer upon the subject than may be necessary for a comparative view of the advantages of the several routes proposed for the construction of a work admitted by all to be of absolute necessity. And, first, it is proper to remark that if any one of the routes in contemplation, including two across the narrow interval between North and South America, and three across the main-land of the Northern Continent, were to be undertaken at the public cost, the injury done to the public and private business of the country, added to the California drain, and heavy purchases of foreign goods made necessary by the present low tariff, would bring great distress and embarrassment upon the poorer classes for the coming two or three years. Were the project of a railroad to the Pacific added to that of the River and Harbor Improvement, and to these the costs of the impending war of extermination which must soon be entered upon with the Southwestern Indians, such a tide of expenses would be set a-going as would take the government off its feet, and subject it to the extreme malice of the opposition. The only safe and politic course to be pursued, would seem to be, to extend merely its favor and its military protection to the economical and well-considered project of our author; and to entrust to him, as to a public contractor-which in effect this scheme makes him—the beginning, at least, of this vast and important enterprise.
When a man of first-rate ability and large fortune offers his services to the nation, to accomplish some necessary work, a thousand detracting voices are instantly raised against his motives. A member in Congress may, without scandal, propose a plan for public aggrandizement, and no man checks at him, no man cries out
*Project for a Railroad to the Pacific. By Asa Whitney, of New York. New York: Printed by George W. Wood, No. 15 Spruce street.
against his ambition, or suspects him of | Baltimore, Philadelphia and Boston, lines wishing to forward his own interests; but of railroad are, or will soon be completed, should the same project come from the converging upon Sandusky; and from same individual as a private citizen, in- thence to St. Joseph's a route is in contemstantly the cry is raised of avarice and in- plation which will be the main trunk from which all the great lines of the United States diverge, like the sticks of a fan. From St. Joseph's, at the foot of the lake, to Prairie du Chien, a point at which a bridge may be thrown across the Mississippi, the route lies through the forests which are to supply materials for the entire ronte. At no other point can timber be supplied for the construction of the road; a consideration which makes it certain that this point will at all events be taken for the starting point.
Let us, however, look coolly at the matter, laying all jealousies aside. The possessor of a fortune instead of sitting quietly down to enjoy it at his ease-instead of wasting his income in expensive luxuries in a residence in some foreign court, or in a palace in one of our great cities, with an eagerness becoming a spirited citizen of an enterprising nation, asks of his fellowcitizens only to be permitted to throw all that he possesses into an enterprise of such dignity and importance to the nation, that he must become, by engaging in it, one of the most responsible and useful of its public servants.
That the jealousy and detraction of the malicious and the ignorant should pursue such a projector, stimulated by a public spirit so congenial to our institutions, is indeed to be expected; but it is at least proper to caution the more considerate part of the community of the existence of a spirit which their own liberality might lead them to forget, and certain arguments in that way acquire more weight with them than was just. Unless the republic willingly and gladly employs the capital and the ability of its business men, to forward enterprises of national benefit, that ability and that capital will seek selfish and private employment, or will go on, as in some instances, accumulating and swelling to a vast and injurious importance. Is it not a safe and politic measure under the proper restrictions-is it not a measure congenial to the economy of our government, to make the contract offered by Mr. Whitney, for the construction of a grand railroad to the Pacific? If it is economical it is politic; if it is speedy and effectual it is prudent and judicious; if it is both constitutional, effectual and economical, it is also just and necessary, and will commend itself to the judgment of all. The route chosen by Mr. Whitney as not only the best, but in fact the only feasible one, begins at the foot of Lake Michigan, at which is the natural point of concentration of all the commerce of the Eastern and Middle States. From New York,
For the advantage of the extreme South, a railroad may easily be constructed in an almost straight line between Mobile and Prairie du Chien. With this, other southern routes will join. By the addition of only two more grand roads through the United States, with their provincial trunks, the entire commerce of the South, West and North converges with equal ease upon Prairie du Chien, where it will meet on the one side the navigation of the Mississippi, and on the other the commerce between Europe, America and Asia.
The objections to the two other routes proposed-one from Memphis to Santa Fé and San Diego, the other from St. Louis through Fort Leavenworth and the South Pass to San Francisco-might be stated to advantage in detail, though they may be pronounced in one word, and that is impossibility. These routes, if constructed, must be made by the government, and at four times the expense. They start from regions divested of timber; and worst of all, they are sectional, and serve the purposes of the South to the loss and detriment of the Northern and Middle, and Western States; of course they will be voted down by the North and West jointly. But it were a great error to admit that the route from Prairie du Chien to the mouth of the Columbia River, or, more properly, to Puget Sound, is to be of no advantage to the South. On the contrary, such are the obstacles and the disadvantages of the St. Louis and Memphis routes, ending the one in middle California, and the other at San Francisco, to attempt them would be to set back the prosperity
Puget's Sound may be described as a collection of inlets, covering an area of fifteen square miles, the only entrance to which is through the Narrows, which, if strongly fortified, would bid defiance to any attack, and guard its entrance against any force.
of the entire globe for the space of per- | qualified approbation. It is by his achaps half a century. Puget Sound is the count the best entrance for vessels on the only sufficient port on the Pacific coast. Pacific coast: At low tide the bay of San Francisco is almost a mud flat. San Diego is a point of no importance, with a diminutive bay; and the passage from that point to Santa Fé is over gorges and torrent beds among the mountains, whereas the route to Puget Sound, through the North Pass, is an even track, presenting not a single obstacle of magnitude. Without quoting the entire reports of Fremont and Wilkes, in regard to these harbors, and the comparative merits of the various routes, it were impossible to do justice to the arguments presented by our author.
The mouth of the Columbia, long known for the difficulties and dangers of its entrance, offers no advantage to the navigator.
"The mouth of the Columbia River," says Lieutenant Wilkes, "has been long known for its dangers, and the difficulties of entrance. These have not been exaggerated; and it may be truly said to offer very few advantages as a port. The land near it is well marked. Cape Disappointment, the northern point, is high, with several lofty spruce and pine trees on its summit. Point Adams on the south is low and sandy. A sand-spit makes out from each cape; that from Point Adams projects to seaward of the other, being nearly at right angles to it. The distance between them is one mile. These have been formed by the deposit of the sands brought down by the river, or washed by the abrasion of the sea from their respective capes. The bar lies outside, and on it there is no particular danger unless the sea is heavy, when breakers form on it, and a vessel would be subjected to risk in passing. The least depth of water is twenty-eight feet. The breakers on both spits are usually heavy, though at times there is little or no break on them. The south end of the north spit has to be closely approached, and is the point of greatest danger. Here most of the wrecks have occurred.
"The principal dangers in the entrance of the Columbia are the cross tides, their velocity, and the influence of an under-current, together with the heavy swell."*
Of Puget's Sound, on the contrary, Lieutenant Wilkes speaks in terms of un
* Western America, including California and Oregon, with Maps of those Regions, and of "the Sacramento Valley." By Charles Wilkes, U. S. N. Philadelphia, 1849.
"The Inlets, in the order in which they come from the entrance, have received the names of Carr's, Case's, Hammersley's, Totten's, Eld's, Budd's, and Henderson's; they are united by passages, which form several islands and peninsulas. All these inlets are safe, commodious, and capacious harbors, well supplied with water, and the land around them fertile. On many of the islands and peninsulas are to be found slate and sandstone, which, though soft and friable in some places where it has been exposed on the surface, will be found suitable for building purposes.
Nothing can exceed the beauty of these waters, and their safety. Not a shoal exists within the straits of Juan de Fuca, Admiralty Inlet, Puget's Sound, or Hood's Canal, that can in any way interrupt their navigation by a seventy-four gun ship."
San Diego, San Francisco, and Bodega, are the three harbors of California. Of the first of these Lieutenant Wilkes speaks disparagingly. Its small size, and its distance south, are against it:
"There are many drawbacks to this harbor; the want of water is one of them, the river which furnishes the mission with water disappearing in the dry season before reaching the bay, and the surrounding country may be called a barren waste of sand hills.
"The whole country around San Diego is composed of volcanic sand and mud mixed with scoria: the land is unfit for cultivation, and covered with Cacti, one of the many evidences of the poorness of the soil; this leaves the port of San Diego little to recommend it but the uniform climate, good anchorage and security from all winds."
The description given by this experienced navigator of the bay of San Francisco is particularly discouraging, and deserves the grave consideration of those who are building schemes upon the hope of its becoming in future the port of entry for the trade of Asia.
"The Bay of San Francisco is thirty-six miles in length by an average of six in width;