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D-No. 2.


Fifth Auditor's Office, April 2, 1851.

SIR: In reply to your note of the 1st instant, requesting me to furnish Professor Bache with such papers as may be in this office, giving information as to the necessity and importance of constructing the light-houses and light-boats for which appropriations were made by the light-house law of the 3d March last, I have to state that, with three exceptions which I shall state, I have no knowledge of the reasons on which the several appropriations were made. The Committee on Commerce of the House of Representatives reported the bill, which was not printed, the last night of the session; I had no knowledge of it until it passed into a law. It is presumed the committee made the appropriation upon the application of individuals of whom I have no knowledge; hence I can give Professor Bache no information that would aid him, or the officers under him, in forming an opinion as to the expediency or otherwise, of building the light-houses, light-boats, buoys, &c., for which appropriations are made. The necessity for the examination is apparent, however, from the many lights on the coast and lakes, and the fact that on some parts of the coast the lights are now so numerous that it is impossible to distinguish one from another, and they are hence becoming a nuisance.

The exceptions referred to above are the three additional appropriations recommended by this office, viz: for the light-house on Horse Shoe reef, Niagara river, twenty-five thousand dollars; for a light-house on Bodkin shoal, mouth of the Patapsco, (seven-foot knoll,) seventeen thousand dollars; for a light-house at the upper Jettee, Cape Fear river, including a bridge from the shore to the light-house, thirteen thousand dollars.

These are works which it has been determined to prosecute, and need not therefore be examined.

I have the honor to be, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,

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[The reply quotes questions and answers to No. 1185, inclusive, omitting all the rest.] Extracts from the minutes of evidence taken before the select committee on light-houses, printed by order of the House of Commons, Great Britain, August 1, 1845.


1179. Can you state what expense is incurred by the general government for the maintenance of the lights? I have a minute of the appropriation for the last year, ending the 30th of June now coming, (June, 1845;) the appropriation bill for light-house establishments for the year ending June, 1845, is $397,159 89; this is appropriated yearly. If they build new

light-houses, or erect new light-houses so as to increase the expense, then they make a new appropriation every year. The amount in sterling money is about £89,361.

1180. Can you state how many lights there are on the coast? We have so many lights I do not know that I can exactly state the number. We have a great number of lights.

1181. Your lights extend from the Maine to Florida? From the Maine to New Orleans, to the mouth of the river Mississippi; besides, we have floating lights.

1182. In different places on the coast? In Long Island sound, for instance; from Boston, Nantucket island, and Long Island sound it is a distance of one hundred and sixty miles; these lights are placed on each side, and can be seen within about fifteen miles of each other during that distance, so that we never lose sight of the light in anything like common weather.

1183. Does the department take charge of the lights on the lakes also? In the same manner; it is the general department for lights.

1184. Have you ever been in any of the light-houses? I have been in some of the light-houses.

1185. Are they done by reflectors? They are done by reflectors principally. Our lights at present are equal to any lights in any part of the world I have ever been in. We are enabled to see our lights at a moment, in any clear weather, when they come above the horizon. The moment they are brought above the horizon we are enabled to see the lights, and no lights can be seen further.

1186. Do you consider our English lights as good as your American lights? I consider them quite as good; if there is a balance, I should con-sider it a little in favor of the English lights.

1187. Do you see any of the Scotch lights in making the coast? Not in coming to London.

1188. (Mr. Chapman.) Are you aware Commodore Perry, of the American navy, came over here a few years ago? I am personally acquainted with him, and I was with him at the time for the purpose of looking after the lights; since that time our lights are equal to the English lights, or nearly so, in effect. The lights cannot be seen before they come upon the horizon.

1189. Are the committee to understand, since Commodore Perry's visit, that the American lights have been improved? Decidedly.

1190. (Chairman.) Are there any private lights distinct from what are called public lights? None whatever.

1191. Are there not many lights in the nature of harbor lights? Inside the bar of New York there are three light-houses which are all under the same arrangement. I know nothing of the private lights.

1192. Are the lights there considered beneficial to the commerce of the country, and therefore maintained out of the general fund? That is the way in which it is viewed in the United States. They consider it as a benefit to landsmen as well as mariners; and on that account a debate, I believe, took place, in fact I know it was so, in consequence of its being a public benefit to the citizens of New York and the mariners, the city of New York deriving its principal support from our vessels.

1193. Have these lights been maintained since the Union at the public

expense? I cannot say that they were not; I am not able to speak to the exact time when they came under the direction of the general government. 1194. During the twenty-three years you have sailed out of New York, has the same system continued? The same system.

1195. At what period did the debate take place to which you have alluded? I am not able to answer that question.

1196. You have no recollection as to the time? No; it was before I was captain of a ship.

1197. (Mr. Metcalfe.) It was not within the twenty-three years? Not to the best of my knowledge.

E-No. 2.

The reply quotes from the beginning of the following testimony of Captain Washington to the words "forty-three gallons," in answer to question 4474, omitting all the rest.

Captain WASHINGTON, R. N., recalled and further examined.

4474. Have you anything with reference to the opinion given in your evidence in answer to question 2411, that the English lights might be maintained at a less expense than one half the present gross receipts of the Trinity House? In my answer to the concluding questions in my examination on the 21st of May, I declined to enter into any detail in proof of my statement, that half the gross sum received by the Trinity board, namely, £255,000 a year in round numbers would be sufficient to support the lights of this country; nor should I have wished to say another word on. this subject, but I have understood that it has been remarked that I had made assertions and failed to prove them. I acknowledged that at the time I only gave my own general impression, and the impression of those with whom I have frequently conversed on the subject; but having made this public statement, I have felt myself bound to make some further inquiry. With this view I have obtained the last report to Congress, in the United States of America, dated 3d of March, 1845, where I find a comparative view of the cost of English, French and American lights and light-vessels, which is as follows:

Shore-lights. Light-vessels.





Or upwards of two hundred per cent. cheaper in the United States than in England. I find in that report to Congress that the United States had two hundred and forty-two fixed lights, and thirty floating lights, the whole cost of which was £85,724. I find in the same year England had sixtysix fixed lights and twenty-five floating lights, the whole cost of which is £130,600, and the gross receipts of the light-dues levied was £196,000 in round numbers. I may state also, as it may be said the American lights are not as powerful as the English lights, that I find the average reach or

Average annual cost of lights in the U. States--


radius of vision of seventy-five lights in the United States is nineteen miles; that of the British lights fourteen miles; of the six best lights in the United States, the radius of vision is twenty-seven and a half miles; of the six best British lights, twenty-eight and one-fourth. I find also the average consumption of oil per lamp in the United States is thirty gallons, that of England forty-three gallons. From the reports of the French light-houses, I find that rape-seed oil is used throughout France, and that the cost of rape-seed oil in England is exactly half the cost of sperm oil. It it is objected that rape-seed oil does not give so good a light as the sperm, I would refer to Cape Griznez light; and it is notorious that about four years ago, on the occasion of the wreck of the Reliance and the Conqueror, their loss was attributed to the superior brilliancy of the Griznez light over the English lights. Now, although I know that was not the fact, and that they were lost from other causes, still it shows the general impression upon sailor's minds as to the brilliancy of the French lights, and that they cannot be considered in any way inferior to the English.

4475. Have you had an opportunity of seeing the French lights, and comparing them with the English? Repeatedly during the last four years and a half in the north sea, when I have been surveying along the coasts of France, Belgium and Holland, I have often endeavored to test their comparative brightness, and have asked the officers on board my ship to endeavor to do the same, and we all agreed that the French lights were quite as brilliant as the English.

4476. Sir H. Douglass.-Are the French lights all upon the refracting principle? Not all; some have parabolic reflectors; others have the compound lens. I will add that it is notorious when in Dover bay, that Griznez light flashes upon you as if you were close along side of it, and that is at a distance of twenty miles.

4477. From what you have seen of the English lights with the best sperm oil, do you consider the lights you have now mentioned equally good? Equally good; and I would institute a comparison between two English lights. I am acquainted with a very important light at the entrance of the Thames, the Nore light, which has been lighted for three years with rape-seed oil; and that light is notoriously as good as any other floating light along our coast; that being the case, I came at once to the point of the saving of one-half the expense for oil alone.

4478. Chairman.-Is there any difference in the quality of these oils consumed in the same time? I cannot state from my own experience, never having made any direct experiment, but I have the testimony of the harbor-master at Dover, where rape-seed oil is in use at the peer head, that it burns equally well and equally long. I have also the testimony of the Tees navigation from Stockton, where rape-seed oil is used; and I have the opinions of Mr. Wilkins, of Longacre, who has made direct experiments, and tells me there is not any difference that one can detect.

4479. There is not any difference in the quantity used? There is not; furthermore, I may say, the opinion of the late Captain Drew, whom we all respected as a very excellent sailor, and a most worthy member of the Trinity board, was strongly in favor of the rape-seed oil; and so was also my friend Captain Fitzroy, also a member of the board, and now governor of New Zealand.

4480. Have you any other facts illustrative of the opinion that the expense of the lights might be reduced? I think the mode of collection

causes great expense for commissions, which might be entirely avoided; there are various items in the establishment of the Trinity board which might be reduced very much. I hold in my hand an account for 1842 in which there is a round sum of £18,000 for salaries to the Elder Brethren, secretary and office expenses; I also see an item of £14,080 for the Trinity yacht, the Argus steamer.

4181. Mr. Somes.-Is not that for the year in which she was built, not for annual expenses? I do not know; it might have been some special charge for repair. I think, however, that without that item I have made good my statement, that the lights of this country might be managed for half the annnal receipts of the Trinity corporation.

4182. Are you aware whether the floating lights in America are placed in as dangerous situations at sea as the lights upon this coast? No, I am not aware-I only took the general average.

4483. Mr. Chapman.-Have you had an opportunity of inspecting the American lights? Not since the year 1819. I have stated that I knew nothing except from report to Congress.

4484. When you stated the number of their lights as two hundred and forty-two, does that include all the American lights? It does, with the exception of thirty floating lights, as the number two hundred and fortysix includes all the lights of the United kingdom.

4485. Then, cæteris paribus, in drawing a comparison should you not have taken all the lights of the United Kingdom-every harbor light and every inland light-and then from the average have drawn a fair comparison betwixt the two? When I mentioned the number two hundred and forty-two, I included all the harbor lights certainly; but in the averages I have given, I believe it does not do any such thing. I cannot conceive that in an official report to Congress, purposely drawn up to institute a plain comparison of costs, they would so mystify a plain state of things. 4486. It is not of your own knowledge, then? No; I took it from the report to Congress for this year.

4487. But, in common fairness, if you took the whole of the lights of one country, harbor and sea-lights, in order to institute a fair comparison should you not take the harbor and sea-lights of the other country? Certainly; but the comparison is not made between all the American lights and all the English lights.

4488. With regard to the floating lights in England, you having had several opportunities of visiting them, I ask you whether they have not been, under your own inspection, found to be almost all of them newly built vessels? Yes, and perfectly efficient.

4489. And that efficiency must arise from a large expenditure; is not that your opinion? Certainly it may arise from a large expenditure, but I have shown they would be equally efficient, and one of them, the Nore light, is equally efficient at half the annual expenditure for oil.

4490. You are speaking of the expenditure on board? In the comparative account I spoke of the whole of the expenditure, including the oil.

4491. The floating lights you say are, as regards the vessels, perfectly efficient, being almost all of them new? Yes.

4492. Consequently a very expensive charge has arisen to the corporation on that account individually? Yes.

4493. With regard to the oil, have you made any inquiry from the proper authorities of the Trinity board, as to the expenditures for the French

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