« PreviousContinue »
see, to the nearest corresponding Atlantic rivers, the Susquehannah, or Juniata, the Potomac, James river, and either the Santee or Savannah, and continuing the roads eastward to the nearest sea-ports. To which add the improvement of the navigation of the four Atlantic rivers, from the tidewater to the highest practicable point effected, principally by canals round the falls, and by locks, when necessary; and particularly a canal at the Falls of Ohio. And although a canal navigation, uniting the Atlantic and western waters in a direct course across the mountains, is not practicable, yet the mountains may be turned, either on the north, by means of the Mohawk valley and Lake Ontario, or on the south, through Georgia and the Mississippi Territory.
The country lying between the sources of the rivers Chatahouchee and Mobile and the Gulf of Mexico, is an inclined plane, regularly descending towards the sea ; and, by following the proper levels, it presents no natural obstacles to opening a canal, fed by the waters of the Mobile and Chatahouchee, and extending from the tidewater on the coast of Georgia to the Mississippi. The distance in a direct line is about five hundred and fifty miles ; and the design, if accomplished, would discharge the Mississippi into the Atlantic Ocean. An inland navigation, even for open boats, already exists from New Orleans by the Canal Carondelet to Lake Pontchartrain; thence, between the coast and the adjacent islands, to the Bay of Mobile, and up its two principal rivers, the Alabama and the Tombigbee, to the head of the tide within the acknowledged boundaries of the United States.
The current of these two rivers being much less rapid than that of the Mississippi, they were for a long time contemplated, particularly the Tombigbee, as affording a better communication to the ascending, or returning trade from New Orleans to the waters of the Tennessee, from which they are separated by short portages. The navigation of the Kanhawa and the eastern branches of the Tennessee, Monongahela, and Alleghany, in their course through the mountains, may be easily improved. From the foot of the mountains
all those rivers, especially the Ohio, flow with a much gentler current than the Atlantic rivers. All those rivers, at the annual melting of the snows, rise to the height of more than forty feet, affording from the upper points, to which they are navigable, a safe navigation to the sea for any ship that can pass over the bar at the mouth of the Mississippi. And numerous vessels, from one to four hundred tons burden, are now annually built at several ship-yards on the Ohio, as high up as Pittsburg, and bringing down to New Orleans the produce of the upper country consumed there, carry to Europe and the Atlantic ports of the United States the sugar, the cotton, and the tobacco of the States of Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Indiana, and of the Missouri and Alabama Territories.
Until lately the exports far exceeded the imports of New-Orleans; such were the labour, time, and expense, necessary to ascend the rapid stream of the Mississippi, the nature of whose banks, annually overflowed on a breadth of several miles, precludes the possibility of towing paths. So that whilst the greater part of the produce of the immense country watered by the Mississippi and its tributary streams, was, of necessity, exported through the channel of New-Orleans, the importations of a considerable portion of that country were supplied from the Atlantic seaports by water and land communications. But now steam-boats carry merchandise and men from New-Orleans up to the Falls of Louisville, on the Ohio, a distance of seventeen hundred miles. Here a canal might be made for half a million of dollars. At present, however, there is a portage of less than two miles at the Ohio falls, whence steam-boats ply regularly to Pittsburgh, a distance of seven hundred miles ; thus ensuring to the Western Country and its great outlet, New Orleans, a rapidity of growth in wealth, power, and population, unexampled in the history of the world. It is to be noted, however, that steam-boat navigation is much more expensive than that by sloops, nearly as ten to one.
As to the communications between the Atlantic rivers and the river St. Lawrence and the great lakes, vessels ascend the St. Lawrence from the sea to Montreal. The river Sorrel discharges at some distance below that town the waters of Lake George and Lake Champlain, which penetrate southward within the United States. From Montreal to Lake Ontario the ascent of the St. Lawrence is two hundred feet. From the eastern extremity of Lake Ontario, an inland navigation for vessels of more than a hundred tons burden is continued above a thousand miles, through lakes Erie, St. Clair, and Huron, to the western and southern extremities of Lake Michigan, with no other interruption than the falls and rapids of Niagara, between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Lake Superior, the largest of those inland seas, communicates with the northern extremity of Lake Huron, by the river and rapids of St. Mary's. Five Atlantic rivers approach the waters of the St. Lawrence; namely, the Penobscot, Kennebeck, Connecticut, the North, or Hudson river, and the Tioga branch of the Susquehannah ; which last river might afford a useful communication with the rivers Seneca and Genessee, that empty themselves into Lake Ontario. The Susquehannah is the only Atlantic river whose sources approach both the western waters and those of the St. Lawrence.
The three eastern rivers afford convenient communications with the Province of Lower Canada, but not with the extensive inland navigation which penetrates through the United States, within two hundred miles of the Mississippi. The North river is a narrow and long bay, which, in its course from the harbour of New-York, breaks through or turns all the mountains, affording a tide navigation for vessels of eighty tons to Albany and Troy, nearly two hundred miles above NewYork. In this particular the Nørth river differs from all other bays and rivers in the United States; the tide in no other ascends higher than the granite ridge, or comes within thirty miles of the Blue Ridge, or eastern
chain of mountains. In the North river it breaks through the Blue Ridge at West-Point, and ascends above the eastern termination of the Catskill, or great western chain. A few miles above Troy, and the head of the tide, the Hudson from the North, and the Mohawk from the west, unite their waters, and form the North river. The Hudson, in its course, approaches the waters of Lake Champlain, and the Mohawk those of Lake Ontario. An inland navigation, opened by canals, between Lake Champlain and the North river, would divert to the city of New-York the trade of one-half of the State of Vermont, and of part of the State of New-York, which is now principally carried through the St. Lawrence and Province of Canada. The works necessary to effect water communications between the tide-water of the North river, the St. Lawrence, and all the lakes, except Lake Superior, would not cost more than five millions of dollars.
The principal interior canals, which have been already completed in the United States, are the Middlesex canal, uniting the waters of the Merrimack river with the harbour of Boston, and the Canal Carondelet, extending from Bayou St. John to the fortifications or ditch of New
Orleans, and opening an inland communication with Lake Pontchartrain. The uniting this canal by locks with the Mississippi, would, independently of other advantages, enable the general government to transport with facility and effect the same naval force for the defence of both the Mississippi and Lake Pontchartrain, the two great avenues by which NewOrleans may be approached from the sea.
On the 17th of April, 1816, and 15th April, 1817, the State Legislature of New-York passed acts, appropriating funds for opening navigable communications between the Lakes Erie and Champlain and the Atlantic Ocean, by means of canals connected with the Hudson river. This magnificent undertaking is already begun, and promises to make effectual progress under the auspices of Governor Clinton, who has always been its zealous promoter and patron. If ever this magnificent
project shall be accomplished, and a communication actually opened by canals and locks, between Lake Erie and the navigable waters of Hudson's river, and also between Lake Champlain and those waters, the State of New-York will soon become, in itself, a powerful empire.
Î'he completion of the projected canals would secure to the people of the United States the entire profits of this branch of home commerce, and give to thi general government the security and influence connected with a thickly settled frontier, and a decided superiority of shipping on the lakes.
The State of New-York ought never to rest until it has accomplished this great object, seeing that its accomplishment will speedily multiply all her resources of territory and population. This State contains inexhaustible supplies of salt, gypsum, iron ore, and a vast variety of other valuable materials for manufacturing establishments. Its territory, containing upwards of thirty millions of acres, offers to agricultural industry a rich reward. A river navigation, scarcely paralleled in the world, for nearly two hundred miles, without interruption, and terminating on the seaboard at a port, capacious, healthy, and easy of access, at all seasons of the year; its interior boundary line passing, more than half its length, through the waters of Erie, Ontario, and Champlain; and the numerous navigable lakes included within its limits, afford the highest commercial capabilities and benefits. But the remote sections of the eastern and western districts lie neighbouring to the British provinces, and are washed by navigable waters, which flow into the Atlantic Ocean through those provinces. Facilitated by the course of their streams, and the declivity of their country, the Americans already contribute largely to their commerce. And, if not prevented, it will become permanent, and number among its agents all those who liye beyond the highlands, in which our rivers, running to the north, originate, including what is now the most fertile, and what will soon be the most populous, part of the State.