United States. Inland Waterways Commission.

Preliminary report of the Inland Waterways Commission. Message from the President transmitting a preliminary report online

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suppose it necessary to pass a mountain eight hundred feet high; then four inclined
planes, each of two hundred feet rise, would gain the summit, and four would descend
on the other side. Total, eight inclined planes, and eight steam engines. Each steam
engine, of twelve horses power, would cost about §10,000, in all $80,000; each would
would burn twelve bushels of coals in twelve hom's, or ninety-six bushels for the
eight engines, for one day's work.

The coals, in such situations, may be estimated at twelve cents a bushel, or $11. 52

At each engine and inclined plane, there must be five men; total, forty men, at

one dollar each 40. 00

Total 51. 52

For this sum they could pass five hundred tons in one day, over the eight
inclined planes, which, for each ton, is only 10 cents.

Suppose the mountain to be twenty miles wide, boating for each ton would
cost 20

' Total 30 cents.

A ton for passing over the moimtain, which will be, more or less, according to cir-
cumstances. These calculations being only intended to remove any doubts which
may arise on the practicability of passing our mountains.

Having thus, in some degree, considered the advantages which canals will produce
in point of wealth to individuals, and the nation, I will now consider their importance
to the Union, and their political consequences.

First. Their effect on raising the value of the public lands, and thereby augmenting
the revenue.

In all cases where canals shall pass through the lands of the United States, and open
a cheap communication to a good market, such lands will rise in value for twenty miles
on each side of the canal. The farmer who will reside twenty miles from the canal,
can, in one day, carry a load of produce to its borders; and were the lands six hundred
miles from one of our seaport towns, his barrel of flour, in weight two hundred pounds,
could be carried that distance for sixty cents, the price which is now paid to carry a
barrel fifty miles on the Lancaster turnpike. Consequently, as relates to cheapness
of carriage, and easy access to market, the new lands which lie six hundred miles from
the seaports, would be of equal value with lands of equal fertility, which are fifty miles
from the seaports. But, not to insist on their being of so great a value until popula-
tion is as great, it is evident that they must rise in value in a three or fourfold degree;
every lineal mile of canal would accommodate twenty-five thousand six hundred acres;
the lands sold by the United States in 1806, averaged about two dollars an acre; and
certainly every acre accommodated with a canal, would produce six dollars; thus,
only twentj^ miles of canal, each year, running through national lands, would raise
the value of five himdred and twelve thousand acres at least four dollars an acre, giving
two million and forty-three dollars to the Treasury, a sum sufficient to make one
hundred and thirty-six miles of canal. Had an individual such a property, and funds
to cortstruct canals to its centre, he certainly would do it for his own interest. The
nation has the property, and the nation possesses ample funds for such undertakings.

Second. On their effect in cementing the Union, and extending the principles of
confederated republican Government, numerous have been the speculations on the
duration of our Union, and intrigues have been practised to sever the Western from
the Eastern States. The opinion endeavored to be inculcated was, that the inhabit-
ants behind the mountains were cut off from the market of the Atlantic States; that,
r consequently, they had a separate interest, and should use their- resources to open a
communication to a market of their o^vn; that, remote from the seat of Government,
they could not enjoy their portion of advantages arising from the Union, and that,
sooner or later, they must separate and govern for themselves.

Others, by drawing their examples from European Governments, and the mon-
archies which have grown out of the feudal habits of nations of warriors, whose minds
were bent to the absolute power of the few, and the servile obedience of the many,
have conceived these States of too gi-eat an extent to continue united under a repub-
lican form of Government, and that the time is not distant when they will divide into
little kingdoms, retrogading from common sense to ignorance, adopting all the follies
and barbarities which are every day practised in the kingdoms and petty states of
Europe. But those who have reasoned in this way have not reflected, that men are
the creatures of habit, and that their habits as well as their interests may be so com-
bined, as to make it impossible to separate them without falling back into a state of
barbarism. Although in ancient times some specks of civilization have been effaced,


by hoards of uncultivated men, yet, it is remarkable that since the invention of print-
ing, and general diffusion of knowledge, no nation has retrogaded in science or
improvements; nor is it reasonable to suppose that the Americans, who have as much
if not more information in general than any other people, will ever abandon an advan-
tage which they have once gained. England, which at one time, was seven petty
kingdoms, has, by habit, long been united into one. Scotland, by succession, became
united to England, and is now bound to her by habit, by turnpike roads, canals, and
reciprocal interests. In like manner all the counties of England, or departments of
France, are bound to each other; and when the United States shall be bound together
by canals, by cheap and easy access to market in all directions, by a sense of mutual
interests ai'ising from mutual intercourse and mingled commerce, it will be no more
possible to split them into independent and separate Governments, each lining its
frontiers with fortifications and troops, to shackle their own exports and imports to
and from the neighboring States, than it is now possible for the Government of Eng-
land to divide and form again into seven kingdoms.

But it is necessary to bind the States together by the people's interest, one of which
is to enable every man to sell the produce of his labor at the best market, and purchase
at the cheapest. This accords with the idea of Hume, "that the government of a
wise people would be little more than a system of civil police; for the best interests
of man is industry, and a free exchange of the produce of his labor for the things which
he may require."

On this humane principle, what stronger bonds of union can be invented, than those
which enable each individual to transport the produce of his industry twelve hundred
miles for sixty cents the hundred weight? Here, then, is a certain method of securing
the Union of the States, and of rendering it as lasting as the continent we inhabit.

It is now eleven years that I have had this plan in contemplation for the good of our
country. At the conclusion of my work on small canals, there is a letter to Thomas
Mifflin, then Governor of the State of Pennsylvania, on a system of canals for America.
In it I contemplated the time when "canals should pass through every vale, wind
around each hill, and bind the whole country together in the bonds of social inter-
course;" and I am happy to find that, through the good management of a wise admin-
istration, a period has arrived when an overflowing treasury exhibits abundant
resources, and points the mind to works of such immense importance. Hoping speed-
ily to see them become favorite objects with the whole American people,

I have the honor to be your most obedient servant,

RoBT. Fulton.

To Albert Gallatin, Esq., Secretary of the Treasury.


{Note. — This was the report of a Select Committee on Transporta-
tion Routes to the Seaboard authorized by resolution of the United
States Senate, adopted December 16, 1872.

Online LibraryUnited States. Inland Waterways CommissionPreliminary report of the Inland Waterways Commission. Message from the President transmitting a preliminary report → online text (page 68 of 83)