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to the Hudson by other means, the great increase since may fairly be attributed to the superior facilities furnished by the road. This is particularly the case in the articles of fresh meat, live stock, and milk. Almost the whole supply of the latter article, amounting to six million of quarts, brought by the road, is an addition to the former supply ; and if it has reduced the price of pure look one cent per quart only, it has made a difference of $60,000 per annum to the people of New York, or the interest on the cost of the real. If these great results have been produced by fiftythree miles of the road, what may not be anticipated from the completion of four hundred and fifty miles, counecting with the lakes 7 Time would fail us in enumerating she advantages which will grow out of the constration of this great thoroughfare between the Atlantic seaboard and the lakes. "I he fruit and vegetables of Westchester and Rockland; the milk, pork, beef butter and cream of Orange ; the coal and iron of Pennsylvania ; the valuable hemlock and pine lumber of the valleys of the Delaware and Susquehanda ; the led leather, lamber, and numerous hydraulic privileges of Sullivan and Jelaware ; the rich farming districts of the Colemung, 'I loga, and Susquehanna valleys; the great resources of Steuben, Alleghany, and Chate usue counties, in horses, cattle, sheep, grain, and latter, are a few only of the advantages which may be derived from the construction of this road. Nothing is wanting in many districts in which it will pass but lime and gypsum to convert what is now, from its secluded position, a vast wilderness, into one of the most thrifty agricultural regions in the State. it will also furnish New York with every species of fuel cheaper, as well as in greater abundance, than can be supplied from any other region, in exchange for the productions of the workshops of the East, and lead to the establishment of many new branches of manufactures, the success of which mainly depends upon cheap living and accessible markets. The trade of Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and other Western States, which annually seek an outlet upon the Wabash and Erie, the Welland and Ohio Canals, into Lake Erie, we will not attempt to estimate. It is sufficient to say that its increasing importance is more than commensurate with the capacity of all our public works combined, the extent of which cannot fail to disappoint the most sanguine expectations. We now come to another important branch of the subject, viz.: the time necessary to make the trip between the Atlantic and the Lakes. If, as we think, we are prepared to show that it can be performed by the Erie Railroad in one-third less time than by any other route, this work will stand without a rival, for the following reasons, viz.: 1st, for the dispatch, cheapness, and directness of the route ; 2d, from its terminating at one of the most desirable points upon the seaboard, while Buffalo and Erie will be equally accessible as Dunkirk on the lake; and, 3d, from the whole being under the direction of one company. Thirty miles per hour is but a reasonable speed ; and at this rate, the whole distance could be accomplished in fourteen hours, or in about the same space of time required to perform the trip on the northern roads after arriving at Albany. The grades, on most of the route, are favorable to attaining a high rate of speed ; and when it is considered that in England the average rate is equal to forty-five miles per hour through a densely settled country, this is not an extravagant estimate. This line will also command a large amount of revenue from the carrying of the mails, and other services in behalf of the government, from the uninterrupted communication which it will be enabled to keep up, throughout to... entire year, with the most distant States in the Union. In properly locating this road upon the lake, we have a choice of routes to the great West, which will cause them to adapt, in a great measure, their improvements to ours; while a temperate climate, and unrivalled seaports on the Atlantic, will be a great inducement to extend other roads from beyond the lakes, in the same latitude, to the seaports on the Pacific ; and in which the Erie Railroad may be considered as the first great link, which shall connect Europe, by an overland route, with Asia, and which now requires a voyage to be performed around the world. Such a work, and such efforts, are worthy the citizens of the Empire State and Empire City; and we trust it is not anticipating too much, when we say we hope to see the New York and Erie Railroad completed to Dunkirk before the expiration of the next three years. W. M. D.
Art. IV.—THE CLAIMS FOR FRENCH NPOLIATIONS,
PRESIDENT Polk's veto Upon THE BILL of INDEMNITy For FRENch spoiliations.
The claims for French spoliations, entitled “An act to provide for the ascertainment and satisfaction of claims of American citizens for spoliations committed by the French prior to the 31st July, 1801,” are little known to the present generation. They occurred so long since, that most of the active merchants of the present time crg inacquainted with them, in detail. The president, in his veto, has omitted to state the only strong ground upon which these claims are sounded. We therefore propose to give a short statement of the claims, and to review some of his alleged reasons for the veto.
These claims amount to $14,000,000. The captures upon which they are founded, were made in the early period of the French revolution, previous to July, 1801. This amount has been transmitted to the Department of State, as a claim against the French nation for o: Many hundred American vessels were captured by French national ships, or French privateers, under orders of the French government, without the shadow of a cause, and sold; the proceeds were placed in the treasury, or divided among the captors. At that period, the mercantile capital of the United States was limited, and the disaster fell with the force of a tornado on its commerce, particularly on that of New England. An instance may show the disastrous effect. A single merchant of Gloucester, Massachusetts, lost twenty-three vessels with their cargoes, which were captured and sold under these decrees. He was, of course, ruined. His descendants now wish some remuneration, even at a late day. Many instances, similar, occurred in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Charleston.
During the administration of the elder Adams, these claims were the subject of discussion with the French Republic. There was no settlement, as the Senate refused to relinquish them. But after the accession of Mr. Jefferson to the presidency, the negotiation was renewed, and they were again the subject of discussion. An article was added to the treaty with France, which Mr. Jefferson made with Napoleon Bonaparte, in July, 1801, as follows: “That by the retrenchment of the second article, the two States renounce their respective pretensions, which were the object of it.” The second article related to the treaty of the United States with France, which guaranteed to France the possession of her West India Islands for ever, and our claims for French spoliations. So that these claims were surrendered to avoid the fulfilment of a treaty made in the revolutionary war, guaranteeing to France her West India possessions. Many of these islands were then in the possession of Great Britain, and some are now. Here was the consideration which Mr. Polk has declined to notice. It is the only consideration, and worth more than the fourteen millions to the United States. It saved the country from a connection with revolutionary France, and enabled the people to pursue a most profitable neutral commerce, when all Europe was engaged in war. In an affair of such great consideration, we do not ask the public to rely on the statement of an individual. We add, in confirmation, an extract from a “history of the administration of Washington and Adams,” by George Gibbs, compiled from the state papers of Oliver Wolcott, who was Secretary of the Treasury at the time this treaty was made, and during the administration of General Washington.
“The convention which was brought to the United States by General Danic, was submitted to the Senate on the fifteenth of December, 1801, and subsequently the instructions were sent at its request. It was not until the third of February, that their consent was given, and then only upon condition that the second article, reserving the former treaties for future negotiation, should be expunged, and that its duration should be limited to eight years. On Mr. Jefferson's coming into osfice, the convention was sent forward, and the ratification, in its modified shape, was agreed to by Bonaparte in July following, but with the further provision: “That by this retrenchment the two States renounce their respective pretensions, which were the object of the second article.” The ratifications were then exchanged between Mr. Murray and the French commissioners; the convention again submitted to the Senate at the succeeding Congress, and finally promulgated on the twenty-first of December, 1801.
“The proviso annexed by Bonaparte, and agreed to by Mr. Jefferson and the Senate, was a formal extinction even of a right to demand satisfaction for the injuries inflicted upon us. It was a purchase of freedom rom future molestation by the sacrifice of all that had been unjustly taken away. It added the last drop to the cup of national humiliation.
“Viewing the release of these claims, however, in the light in which some have seen fit to place them, as an exchange for the abandonment, on the part of France, of the stipulations in her favor, by former treaties; treaties which she had violated, and which had been annulled; an important advantage, it must be admitted, was gained by the United States in her discharge from the guarantee of the French possessions in America. It was, according to this doctrine, a barter for a great public consideration, of the just demands of individual citizens upon France, to the amount of fifteen millions of dollars; demands which the United States had always insisted upon, and which had been even recognized by France herself.
“It would have been supposed that justice, good faith, the plain words of the constitution itself, won'd have required compensation for the private property thus, by the sovereign act of the government, appropriated to public uses; that the government of the United States had thus assumed the payment, and that a nation so to honesty, would have provided for its citizens. Not a dollar of them
as yet been paid.”—Vol. 2, p. 464.
The first reason given by Mr. Polk for the veto, is, “that the claims have been, from time to time, before Congress since 1802, and until now, have never received the sanction of both Houses of Congress.” In answer to this, twenty-two committees of the Houses of Congress, out of twenty-five, have reported in their favor, and a bill of indemnity has passed the Senate three times. For some years these claims were not zealously pressed, for the plain reason that we had just assumed the attitude of an independent nation, and our commerce was depredated upon by other powers at the same time. Our government had not then received large sums from foreign nations for depredations on commerce. Since that time, it has received many millions from England, five millions from France, two millions from Naples, and considerable sums from Mexico, Denmark, and Spain. These sums were paid for claims of the same description as those now presented against France. Now the fact is established, that if France has paid five millions for spoliations on our commerce since that time, she might have paid the fourteen millions if our government had not exonerated her by treaty. In any event, our government had no right to give up individual claims upon France, to annul the treaty of guarantee of her possessions. The second reason given by Mr. Polk, is, “that Mr. Jefferson, who was fully conversant with the early dissensions between the United States and France, and out of which these claims arise, in his message to Congress said nothing about it.” This is true, and it is equally true that he negotiated the erasure of the second article of the treaty, by which these claimants were deprived of all redress, to exonerate the United States from the guarantee, forever, of her American possessions to France. But Mr. Jef. ferson, though he did not speak of them in his messages to Congress, has never been quoted as disapproving a provision for them. His Secretary of State, James Madison, acknowledged the claims, and directed an offi. cial letter to Mr. Pinckney, our minister to Spain, dated 4th February, 1804, from which we make the following extract. In this letter, Mr. Madison replies to some frivolous pretexts used by Spain, based upon our previous release of the claims on France.
“We claim against her, not against France. In releasing France, therefore, we have not released her. The claims from which France was released, were admitted by France, and the release was for a valuable consideration, in a corresponding release of the United States from certain claims on them.”
In addition to the above, an offer was made to pay France a large sum of money to annul the treaty of guarantee of 1778, which was rejected by the French government as wholly inadequate.
An equally distinguished man from Virginia, Judge Marshall, who acted as American minister at the very period of these difficulties, gave his opinion, when Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, that these claims were just, and ought to be paid. Indeed, a letter containing his opinion, was shown in the House of Representatives during the discussion.
The third reason suggested, is, “that there is no surplus in the treasury, and we are engaged in a foreign war.” This is true; and the bill was passed, to meet the views of the government at this time, by land scrips, receivable in about three years from this time. But another argument is used by Mr. Polk, that this land scrip is a mortgage upon the lands, and will retard the prosperity of the new States. Most of the lands east of the Mississippi were surrendered to the United States by the Atlantic States, for the purpose of paying the debts of the revolutionary war. The sur
render was made without consideration, and the lands were pledged for these debts. This is, indirectly, one of these debts, as we could not, in any other manner, cancel the treaty with France for the guarantee of her possessions in the West Indies, than by a surrender of these claims.
The fourth reason suggested, is, “that if these claims are well founded, it would be unjust to the claimants to repudiate any part of them.” This is not denied; but he well knew that the interest is equally as much due, in equity, as the principal; and these sums together would swell the claims to such an amount that no Congress would ever vote to pay them. It is, therefore, a mockery of the misfortunes of those who are suffering from the injustice of the government.
The last reason suggested, is, “that it is inexpedient.” By the constitution, the President is to exercise the executive power, and the Senate and House of Representatives to exercise the power of raising and disbursing the revenue. It is contrary to the theory and spirit of the constitution, for the executive to counteract the legitimate exercise of this power. It is rarely done except for constitutional objections. To these nothing can be said. But the exercise of the veto, in a case of revenue or its disburse. ment, was never even favorably received by Congress. But, in this case, it is the most ungracious, fruitless, and unjust exercise of the veto power since the adoption of the constitution; for this plain reason, that Congress, after an appeal for forty-five years, have granted to the descendants of these claimants, as a boon, one-third of the original claim, when a majority of them had been utterly ruined by the refusal of government to redress their wrongs; and this portion of the sum due is vetoed by Presi. dent Polk.
It may be proper to state one of the leading arguments by which these claims have been so often defeated, and so long delayed. It is, that these claims, by the bankruptcy and ruin of those who held them, have been sold for a trifle, or given away, being considered of little value. Like the paper money of the revolution, these claims were almost worthless, and the real sufferers would derive little or no benefit from any sum which Congress might appropriate. With a view to meet this objection, a section was added to the bill, that in case of a transfer of the original claim, the purchaser should only be entitled to the sum he actually paid, with the interest. The majority in the House of Representatives was not large, and this probably decided the question. As the bill now stands, if it had not been vetoed by the President, it would have afforded a great relief to those families which have not recovered from the calamity caused by these captures.
Art. W,-MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK,
number on E.
At a period when the true policy of the country, in regard to the sources of national prosperity and national independence, is an unsettled question, whatever contributes to enlighten the public mind or enlarge the boundaries of free discussion must necessarily be regarded as a benefit conferred on the community at large. In the absence of testimony, it is impossible that truth should be arrived at, or a just estimate be formed of what is due to the several interests concerned. This is especially true of
WOL, XV.-NO. IV. 24