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They will then adopt the opinion of the Committee, that “a powerful squadron has become as necessary for our protection at home, as the employment of our ships of war has hitherto been, or may hereafter be, for the protection of our flag and commerce abroad." It is well said that Great Britain
finds in her colonies an argument for a large military marine to which we have no parallel. But where these colonies are so situated as to threaten our coast, to provide a rendezvous for her blockading fleets, and to supply her with the means of a fatal assault upon a portion of these States, they furnish as strong a reason to us for a large naval force to prevent their coöperation with the mother country, as they do to Great Britain for protection. Whilst, therefore, we express our great satisfaction that the bill for the Home Squadron has passed, we must repeat our declaration, that the force provided is altogether too small for the object. It would hardly be sufficient for the protection of any one point; so extended is our line of sea-coast that an attack in a distant part would be determined before the squadron could hasten to its assistance. The security of our northern ports, and a careful and unremitting watch over the long line of southern frontier must be two distinct objects. The latter, we do not hesitate to say, is far the most important. But to make provision for either, no expense is too great, no diligence can be spared. Accordingly we urge upon the attention of the Honorable Secretary the suggestion of Mr. King, that this squadron ought, from time to time, to be increased as the means placed at the command of the Department may permit, and the various objects connected with it, as pointed out in the report of the Secretary, may best be promoted and attained."
The Report of the Committee on Naval Affairs enters largely into a consideration of the changes in maritime warfare which are likely to result from the introduction of steam into our own and foreign navies, and points out the great additions which England is making to her navy by the establishment of the Royal Mail steam-packets.
France," we are informed too, "is pursuing a course of policy in every respect similar to that of Great Britain. The last official register of her navy shows that she then had thirtyseven armed steamers, carrying heavy guns, equal in all respects, if not superior to those of any other nation. The sudden appearance of one of them some years since in the harbour of
Baltimore must be recollected by all. A law has recently been enacted, authorizing the government to establish a line of armed steamers from Havre to New York, on the plan of the British West India mail line. And, surprising as it may seem, a number of gentlemen in Boston have actually sent in proposals to take the contract, if that city, instead of New York, shall be inserted in it. Thus, it will be seen that our own merchants, driven by the laws of trade and intercourse, are about throwing the whole weight of their skill, enterprise, and capital into the hands of one of our great maritime rivals, for want of proper encouragement and action on the part of their own government ; and that the humiliating spectacle is likely to be presented of American merchants, who have excelled all others in commercial pursuits, being employed to support a naval force which may be directed against the cities in which they reside.” The “Report” closes with the following resolution ;
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Navy is hereby directed to inquire into the expediency of aiding individuals or companies in the establishment of lines of armed steamers between some of our principal northern and southern ports, and to foreign ports ; to advertise for proposals for the establishment of such lines as he may deem most important and practicable, and report to this House at the next session of Congress."
Congress will certainly not neglect to follow up this measure with all the energy, and perseverance which the importance of the subject imperiously demands. It has become a question not only of self-defence, but of national prosperity. Commercial enterprise and capital are about to be diverted from their natural channel in this country, and applied to swell the triumph of a rival. It has always been felt to be a mortification that the English people, after having so long yielded to the superior skill and daring of the merchants of the United States, shown in their monopoly of the packet trade between Europe and America, should at length bave gained an ascendency by originating the establishment of a line of steam communication. For this, however, there was an explanation in the fact, that the English by their position were the first to acquire the requisite knowledge and practice in the conduct of steamvessels for sea-navigation. It is impossible for them to launch a vessel except upon
If then, they used steam, it must be upon bottoms fitted to navigate the ocean. on the contrary, found an ample field for the application of
this new power in our great lakes, and rivers, and inland seas, where, without exposure to the storms of the open ocean, stability, buoyancy, and capacity, might be, and were, sacrificed 10 speed. Our steam-vessels, accordingly, are the fleetest in the world, but are wanting in the qualities of a good seaboat. But when the intelligence of the merchants and mechanics of the country is turned to the study of the subject, we may hope to take our former position as leaders in the intercourse between the United Sates and Europe ; a position which was so easily assumed, and has been so steadily maintained, that it may be called without exaggeration our natural and proper place.
The course is open to us now for a new trial. It seems to be admitted by general consent, that a line of steam-packets is called for between New York or Boston, and Havre. We learn from the work of “A Traveller," of which we have given the title above, that the project has been entertained both at Antwerp and Havre ; that at the latter place it was "resolved, at every risk, to go on with the speculation commenced under the name of the · Havre Transatlantic Steam Company " " ; and that the English capitalists “ who are shareholders in the company, with that good sense and energy which generally distinguish them, determined, in conjunction with some spirited Frenchmen, that it was a question of now or never,' the more especially if Belgium were allowed to have the start in the race of competition.” We trust this interesting subject will receive such timely attention at home, as will save us from the mortification and the reproach of seeing a French flag flying on board of a Havre steam-packet in any of our harbours. But the government of the country are especially bound by every consideration of policy and duty to lend their pecuniary aid to foster these enterprises, which will place at their disposal such a naval force, as, together with the regular military marine, will suffice for the protection of the country. A million of dollars expended annually in this way will put the President in command of a force which it would cost ten times that sum to construct and keep in efficient repair.
Fourteen mail and packet steam-ships could, at this expense, be engaged in the service of the government in the event of a war, and that too without the annual charge of repairs, manning, victualling, &c. But even this sum would probably be reimbursed in a short time. The London " Journal of Com
merce says ; “Under the old packet system between Falmouth and Halifax by the gun brigs, the expense to Government was about forty thousand pounds sterling, annually, more than the receipts of postage. By the line of Cunard's steamships a balance of twenty thousand pounds appears already on the credit side of the Atlantic mails.” The Post Office Department may eventually discover a new source of revenue in the armed steam-ships which will protect our sea-coast.
We cannot insist too strongly upon the primary duty of selfdefence; and what, we ask, have we to oppose to the formidable array of steam-frigates, and other vessels which our great rivals England and France can bring against us? We learn from the “contract whereby the mails to the West India Islands are to be carried by steam-navigation," that the company agree to provide
“A sufficient number (not less than fourteen) of good, substantial, and efficient steam-vessels, of such construction and strength as to be fit, and able to carry guns of the largest calibre now used on board of Her Majesty's steam-vessels of war, each of such vessels to be always supplied with first-rate appropriate steam-engines, of not less than four hundred collective horse-power ; and also a sufficient ber, not less than four, of good, substantial, and efficient sailing-vessels of not less than one hundred tons burden each; all such steam and sailing vessels always to be supplied and furnished with all necessary and proper apparel, furniture, stores, tackle, boats, fuel, oil, tallow, provisions, anchors, cables, fire-pumps and other proper means of extinguishing fire, and whatever else may be requisite and necessary for equipping such vessels, and rendering them constantly efficient for the service hereby contracted to be performed, and also manned with competent officers, and a sufficient crew of able seamen, and other men ; and all the said steam-vessels to be likewise manned, and supplied with competent and efficient engineers, machinery, and engines; and to be in all respects as to vessels, engines, equipments, engineers, officers, and crew, subject to the approval of the said commissioners and of such persons as shall at any time, and from time to time, have authority under the said commissioners to inspect and examine the same.”- Return to an Order of the Honorable the House of Commons, daled 22d May, 1840.
Here we find at once the stimulus to exertion, and the precedent for its direction. We can have no commercial or domestic security until we follow the example which Eng
land has set us. In considering the present defenceless state of the country our attention has been called to the condition of its navy yards. The facts developed in Miles's “ Epitome of the Royal Naval Service of England,” and “ The Ports, Arsenals, and Dock Yards of France, by a Traveller,” render us acutely sensible to their deplorable want of system, and their deficiency in naval and other stores. The accounts of Deptford, Woolwich, Plymouth, and Portsmouth, of Brest, Rochefort, and Toulon, remind us by painful contrast how much we have yet to do. Such is the abundant supply of materials, ordnance, and stores of all descriptions in these dépôts, that an order to fit a ship for sea may be carried into inmediate execution from their own resources. The outfits in the various departments for vessels of all classes are prepared to go on board at the shortest notice, whilst we take it upon ourselves to say, that the sinallest vessel in the United States navy cannot be fitted for sea at any one of our naval stations, without having recourse to the stores of the neighbouring city. We suffer great losses too from the want of a sufficient system, losses which might be saved to the nation if a competent and responsible officer were placed at the head of each department of duty, who should give receipts for the numerous articles returned into store by ships arriving from foreign stations, and should be held strictly accountable for their safekeeping and future disbursement. It is desirable that the master-mechanics of the yards should be permanently connected with the navy by receiving fixed salaries, and warrants from the President. By this means the best talent would not only be engaged, but secured to the navy by a tie which could not easily be broken at the caprice of individuals, or for political offences against the party in power. If a war were to take place, there are few respects in which an enlargement of the present means and conveniences of our naval stations would not be necessary. But these defects are better known to the officers commanding these stations than to ourselves. We merely point to the matter as one worthy to engage the attention of the navy department.
We have no room for any extracts from the letters of “A Traveller,” but in the perusal of the book we have been struck with nothing so much as the perfect system with which every thing is conducted in the French “ Ports, Arsenals, and Dock Yards,” and the wise provision made in all the various