The Commerce and Navigation of the Valley of the Mississippi; and Also that Appertaining to the City of St. Louis: Considered, With Reference to the Improvement, By the General Government, of the Mississippi River and its Principal Tributaries; Being a Report Prepared by Authority of the Delegates From the City of St. Louis, for the Use of the Chicago Convention of July 25, 1847.
At a meeting of the Delegates to the Chicago Convention, (selected pursuant to a meeting of the citizens of St. Louis, at the Rotunda, on Saturday, May the 29th, 1847,) held at the Planter's House, on Monday evening, the 8th of June, F. M. HAIGHT, Esq., in the Chair:
The following gentlemen were appointed a committee to prepare a report on the improvement of the navigation of the Mississippi and its principal tributaries, the St. Louis Harbor and Marine Hospitals, and submit the same to the delegation, at a meeting to be held at the Planter's House on the evening of the 19th inst., viz:
N. J. EATON,
A. B. CHAMBERS,
GEORGE K. MCGUNNEGLE,
JAMES E. YEATMAN,
At a subsequent meeting of the Delegates, held at the Planters House on Saturday evening, the 19th June, ARCHIBALD GAMBLE, Esq., presiding. THOMAS ALLEN, Esq., from the Committee to prepare the report, submitted the following, which, having been read and carefully considered, was unanimously approved, and ordered to be printed for the use of the Convention.
A. B. CHAMBERS, Secretary.
The people of the City of St. Louis, hail with satisfaction, the assemblage of a general convention, with reference to the great interests of interior commerce and navigation. From such commerce and navigation St. Louis derives its origin, its increase, and its future hopes of greatness. In such it has lived, flourished and suffered, until experience has given it full knowledge of their nature, and a clear apprehension of their capacities, their deficiencies, and their relations.
The people of St. Louis are an integral portion of the great Republican family of the United States, and while they hold themselves ever ready to discharge the duties devolving upon them, as members of the Union, yet they claim their proportion of its advantages. Their geographical position, is that of the heart of the great central valley of the North American Continent. A valley, extending through 21degrees of latitude, and 15 degrees of longitude, embracing every variety of climate and soil, production and pursuit: a valley, just beginning to smile in its redemption from a state of nature, yet inviting to its ample bosom the outpourings of every over-crowded community of the world, and offering to return to the hand of improvement, supplies for unnumbered millions of the human race. Nature has, in a remarkable degree, endowed the soil with vegetable fertility and mineral riches; exhibited a surface adapted to every taste and want, and cut it with peculiar streams susceptible of application to various species of industry, and to the uses of a magnificent commerce, holding in one embrace, the productions of the northern and southern limits of the temperate zone.
This vast area, this fat and fertile valley, comprehended between the sources of the Mississippi on the north, and the Gulf of Mexico on the south, the Rocky Mountains on the west, and the Alleghanies on the east, though but recently a wilderness, already embraces eleven entire states, and parts of two others, and two territories; and is busy with the Industry, and burdened with the immediate support and all the earthly
4interests of half the population of the United States of North America. Comprising within its limits, 1,200,000 square miles, or 768,000,000 of acres, its importance can no more be calculated than that of the Union itself. Its influence must be co-extensive with the habitable globe, of which it will he the Garden and the Granary; going beyond the United States, of which it must become the seat of Empire, the source of vitality, the diadem of pride, the base of their pyramid of grandeur. The Creator of the universe has no where on the face of the earth, spread more lavishly the means of human prosperity, or stamped more legibly the lineaments of beautiful and convenient adaptation to the wants and necessities of mankind. Visit it not with the evils of bad government; obstruct not the hand of improvement within it; stay not the tide of population pouring in upon its bosom; and let its broad acres receive that proportion of population which vexes the soil of the kingdom of Great Britain,
The history of Missouri alone, however, exhibits a still more extraordinary increase. In 1771, the population was 743;
The commerce and agriculture of this Valley exhibit a growth as surprising as that of its population.
The first schooner of the Northern Lakes, "the Griffin," in 1679, was freighted with the first combination of commercial enterprise and settlement that reached the Valley of the Mississippi. Thus the rivers of the Valley owe to the great Lakes, the introduction of commerce and population.
From that period up to the purchase of Louisiana in 1803, and even later, the fur trade of the French immigrants with the Indians constituted a leading pursuit of the inhabitants, especially of the upper half of the Valley of the Mississippi. These immense rivers and lakes were navigated from Quebec, on the St. Lawrence, to the Yellow Stone, on the Missouri, by bark canoes, and the Fox and Wisconsin rivers, connecting the Lakes with the Mississippi, were a chief thoroughfare of the trade.
Next to the canoe came the Mackinaw boat, carrying 1500 weight to 3 tons, and then the keel boat or barge of 30 to 40 tons. The first appearance of the keel boat, in the Mississippi, above the mouth of the Ohio, of which we have any account, was in 1751, when a fleet of boats, commanded by Bossu, a Captain of French Marines, ascended as far as Fort Chartres. This enterprise also, was the first to ascertain, by experience, something of the nature of the navigation of the Mississippi. One of the boats, "the St. Louis," struck a sand bar above the mouth of the Ohio, was unladen and detained two days. Three days after, says the traveler, "my boat ran against a tree, of which the Mississippi is full;"
The annual average value of the fur trade of upper Louisiana for fifteen successive years ending; in 1804 amounted to $203,750. That part of the province also exported some lead, salt, beef and pork — the Indian goods coming from Canada, those for domestic consumption from Philadelphia and Baltimore; groceries from New Orleans, and hardware
6in small boats from the Ohio river. The annual exports from the lower part of the Mississippi Valley for the year 1802, amounted to about $2,160,000, and the imports to about $2,500,000; the exports consisting of sugar, cotton, rice, indigo, furs and peltries, lead, lumber, cattle, horses, beef and pork, tar and pitch. For the year 1846, the receipts at New Orleans from the upper country, amounted to $77,193,464.
At the period of the introduction of steam upon the Mississippi, 1817, the whole commerce from New Orleans to the upper country, was transported in about twenty barges of an average of 100 tons each, and making but one trip in a year. The number of keel boats on the Ohio was estimated at 160, carrying thirty tons each. The total tonnage was estimated at between 6,000 and 7,000.
In 1834, the number of steamboats on the Mississippi and its tributaries was 230, and their tonnage equal to about 39,000.
In 1840, the number was 285, with a tonnage of 49,800.
In 1842, the number was 450, and, estimating their burden at an average of 200 tons each, their tonnage was 90,000.
In 1843, the number was estimated at 672; tonnage, 134,400.
In addition to the steamboats, there are estimated to be employed on the same rivers, about 4,000 keel and flat boats.
For the year 1844, the enrolled and licensed steamboat tonnage of the western rivers was reported by the Secretary of the Treasury at 144,150, which, at an average of 210 tons
By a subsequent report from the same source, the tonnage had increased by the last of June, 1845, to 159,713, making the number of boats 789.
A report from the same authority, for 1846, exhibits the steamboat tonnage enrolled and licensed at the several districts named below, as follows:
Applying the average above adopted to this tonnage, the number of steamboats upon the western rivers in 1846, is demonstrated to have been 1,190. Regarding the value per ton to be $65, which is lower than has heretofore been estimated, and we have as the aggregate value of these boats, the sum of $16,188,561. Supposing them to run 220 days in the year, at the cost of $125 per day for each boat, and the annual expense of running 1,190 boats appears to be $32,725,000. Estimating the average number of persons employed on each boat at 35, gives a total of 41,650 persons actually employed upon the steamboats of the Valley of the Mississippi. To this we may add the estimated number of 4000 keel and flat boats, embracing in their employment 20,000 souls, and costing to build and navigate them, $1,380,000.
We are now enabled to form a table, showing the cost of river transportation in the Valley of the Mississippi:
|Cost of running 1,190 steamboats,||$32,725,000|
|Insurance on $16,188,561, at 12 per cent.,||1,942,627|
|Interest on $16,188,561, at 6 per cent.,||971,313|
|Wear and tear of boats. 24 per cent.,||3,885,254|
|Tolls on the Louisville and Portland Canal,||250,000|
|Cost of flat boats, (included because sacrificed at N. O.)||1,380,000|
|Total cost of transportation, annually,||$41,154,194
It is impossible to estimate the number of persons among whom, for wages, wood, coal, boat stores, provisions, &c., this almost incredible sum of forty-one millions of dollars is annually distributed. Suffice it to say, more or less of it reaches every family and every cabin, situated upon a double coast of river navigation, extending over 15,000 miles; while, as a tax, it falls, not insensibly, upon every producer and consumer in the entire valley. It affects the producer, because the cost of getting his crops to market lessens the profit he is enabled to realize, and the same impediments to the returns increases the cost of the necessaries he purchases for consumption. This great cost is a tax upon the surplus produce, enterprize, industry and trade of the country.
The commerce of a country that can flourish under such a burden of taxation must evidently be very large. The extent of it is such,
8indeed, as is not generally apprehended. In fact, in estimating it from the surest data, the results to which our figures carry us almost stagger our own belief. Yet our conclusions cannot be avoided.
We have 1,190 steamboats, carrying 249,054 tons. On the supposition that, upon an average, each boat makes 20 trips (40 voyages) a year, the whole are capable of carrying annually 9,962,160 tons. Adding to this the freights of 4,000 flat boats, carrying an average of 75 tons each, making 300,000 tons more, we have an aggregate annual tonnage of 10,252,160. It may be insisted that the boats do not always carry full freights; they evidently carry enough to make their business an active and profitable one, while the amount they discharge at New Orleans alone requires the services of 2,085 vessels, to export from that city the surplus beyond its own consumption.
Showing an annual average increase of over 10 per cent.
An equal amount, it is supposed, finds its way to the Atlantic cities through Pittsburgh and the lakes and canals of the interior.
There is to be added to these sums the shipments from one port to another of the west, for home consumption, of the products of our manufactories, and other results of skill, industry and capital. An intelligent committee at Cincinnati, in 1844, estimated the whole of this interchange of commodities at an aggregate of seventy millions of dollars. Estimating its annual increase at 10 per cent., it is now equal to $93,000,000.
Thus we have of the domestic products of the Valley of the Mississippi annually put afloat upon its waters. a total of $262,825,620.
The returns, or imports of specie, bullion and goods, from the Atlantic
9states and foreign countries, by all routes, are estimated as equivalent to the value of our exports of domestic produce. Then we have as the grand aggregate value of the commerce annually afloat upon the navigable waters of the Valley of the Mississippi, the sum of $432,651,240, being nearly double the amount of the whole foreign commerce of the United States.
To such an extent has the commerce of this Valley grown, while yet in its infancy. Who can comprehend its magnitude when the banks of our streams shall be populated to the density of the Old World, and the resources of the country shall be fully developed?
Transit and intercourse are greatly facilitated throughout the entire valley by navigable streams of unequalled abundance and extent. They afford a continuous navigation, variously computed at from 10,000 to 15,000 miles, offering with their two banks, a coast for landing and shipments, of double the distance, whatever that may be. The character of these rivers has been often described, and is well known. None are more rapid and dangerous than the Mississippi and the Missouri, obstructed as they often are, not only by sandbars and occasional rocks, but by timbers of all shapes and sizes, presented in every variety of position. The most dangerous are concealed logs and stumps and sharp pointed snags, or trees firmly planted in the bed of the river at one end, while the other is just near enough to the surface to be concealed from the pilot's view, and at the same time at a depth well suited to bring it into fatal collision with any boat that attempts to pass over. These dangers seen and unseen render night navigation terrific and frequently impracticable, excepting below the mouth of the Ohio in the lower Mississippi, where, since the employment of snag boats, night navigation has been practiced. These obstructions are the heaviest drawbacks upon the commerce of the Mississippi Valley, inflicting annually, not only an extensive destruction of boats and cargoes, but a frightful loss of human life. It is to be regretted that no care is taken by the government to collect and preserve accurate statistical information in reference to these losses. We are obliged to gather together such items as float within our reach, and can only make an approximation to the actual truth of the case.
From 1822 to 1827, the loss of property on the Ohio and Mississippi
10by snags alone, including steam and flat boats, and their cargoes, amounted to $1,362,500.
The losses on the same from 1827 to 1832, were reduced to $381,000, in consequence of the beneficial service of several boats employed by the Federal Government in removing snags. In the year 1830, in consequence of the successful operation of the snag boats, not a single steamboat was lost by snags.
From 1833 to 1838 inclusive, the Secretary of the Treasury reported forty steamboats snagged on the Mississippi and its tributaries — a number evidently much below the truth, and valued at $640,000.
In 1839, the total loss of boats reported was forty — of which twenty-one were snagged, and seven struck upon rocks and other obstructions, Value of twenty-eight snagged, &c., $448,000.
In 1840, the total number snagged was twenty-one — value, $336,000.
In 1841, whole number reported sunk forty-nine — snagged, twenty-nine — value $464,000.
In 1842, the whole number reported lost was sixty-eight. The number snagged is not ascertained. In the space of about one month succeeding the 11th of September of that year, the losses on the Mississippi between St. Louis and the month of the Ohio, a distance of only 180 miles, were $234,000, principally by snags. Within the next succeeding seventeen months, there were seventy-two steam boats lost, valued at $1,200,000, besides their valuable cargoes.
In 1846, the whole number sunk or destroyed was thirty-six, with an aggregate tonnage of 7,507. Of this number, twenty-four were sunk by snags, sunken logs, or rocks, and valued at $697,500. To this sum, is to be added $36,487 as the estimated expense of repairing sixty-six steamboats, partially injured in that year, and of fourteen flat and keel boats lost or injured; the value of eight of them snagged. And when we take into the account the damage to cargoes saved, the expense of the labor of saving property endangered, the value of the time of persons thrown out of employment, the losses by delays to the shippers and consignees, the aggregate actual loss cannot be less than one million of dollars for 1846.
The facts connected with insurance, however, indicate a much heavier annual loss. Many of the Insurance Companies decline insuring the hulls of boats, and risks are taken only on the best, and at rates varying from 12 to 15 per cent. And if it be true, as is stated, that the insurers lose money at even those rates, then the lowest rate of
11insurance on hulls indicates a loss of $1,920,000 annually on the estimated investment of sixteen millions in the boats. On the estimated amount of commerce of the river, it would indicate an annual loss, if it were all insured, of $51,918,148.
It is undoubtedly true, that there are lying within the space of the 200 miles between the mouths of the Ohio and the Missouri rivers, the wrecks of over ninety steamboats.
Taking the losses of the steamboats trading at St. Louis for the years 1841-'2 for his data, Mr. Calhoun has estimated
There are other obstructions to the free navigation of these national highways, which increase the losses endured. We allude to the injuries and detentions by sandbars, by the falls of the Ohio, the cost of tolls at the Louisville and Portland Canal, and the delays and dangers of the two Rapids of the Upper Mississippi. Taking all into the account, it cannot be too high an estimate to put down the actual losses of the country, from removable obstructions in the national highways, at two millions of dollars per annum. This is annihilated — so much destroyed, of the wealth of the country — amounting every ten years, to a sum equal to the purchase money paid by the government for all Louisiana.
And who shall put an estimate upon the value of the souls destroyed by the same causes? And who shall gather the tears of the widow and the orphan; the bloody sweat of anguished families, and the griefs for loved ones lost, fortunes broken, and hopes destroyed, and weigh them in the scale, with a pitiful appropriation of money? Unhappily, again, no tally is kept; but taking the losses of life attending the disasters of the St. Louis boats, in 1841-2, as a basis, the present number of lives annually destroyed, in consequence of these obstructions, may be estimated at 166. Often times, go down among them, characters distinguished for industry and virtue, carrying with them their families and fortunes, in money, sufficient if properly applied, to remove every snag from the channel.
Shall this frightful destruction of human life and property, go on, and increase with the business and population of this valley? Is there no
12merciful device, no arm of power to save us from these disasters in our river navigation?
Whenever a city, county or state, lays out a street or road, and dedicates it to public uses, it becomes the duty of that city, county or state, to provide the means of removing obstacles from that highway. And it is well known that damages are often recovered against municipal authorities, for injuries received by individuals from obstructions in the roads. The government of the United States, by the ordinance of 1787, declared that "the navigable waters leading into the Mississippi and St. Lawrence, and the carrying places between the same, shall be common highway, and forever free, as well to the inhabitants of the said territory as to the citizens of the United States, and those of any other state that may be admitted into the confederacy, without any tax, duty or impost therefor." And as to the Mississippi itself, the Congress of 1788 to pacify the apprehensions of North Carolina, as to yielding the navigation of the river, in the Spanish controversy, resolved that they had no intention of giving it up, and further they "Resolved , that the free navigation of the river Mississippi, is a clear and essential right of the United States."
They hold the public lands as a common fund for the benefit of all the States. These lands now comprise in the territories west of the
13Mississippi, over nine hundred millions of acres, and within the States of the Mississippi Valley, including only Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Wisconsin and Iowa, they hold unsold the number of about two hundred millions of acres. Within the same States the Government have sold about seventy millions of acres, for which the public treasury has derived from our people between eighty and ninety millions of dollars. The improvement of the navigable rivers which drain these lands surely accelerate their sale and settlement, and enhance their value. Besides, probably the whole annual product, in money, of the sales of the public lands, is transported on the rivers of this valley. The following is an estimate, made two years ago, of the value of government property at risk, annually, on these waters:
|Connected with Indian Affairs,||$960,858|
|Connected with Military Arrangements,||1,834,000|
|Proceeds of the Public Lands,||2,000,000|
This is probably not one-third of the amount which has been at risk the past year. But, taking the lowest rate at which steamboat hulls are insured, viz: 12 per cent., and we have the amount of government property annually afloat on these waters subjected to a loss, as indicated by the rate of insurance, of $575,382.96, a sum sufficient to keep more than twenty snag boats in operation a year. The General Government lost $40,000 of public stores and property, on their way to the army, in 1846 by the snagging of the steamboats "Ohio," "Radnor" and "Toneleuka." The whole army of the north, which has conquered the northern provinces of Mexico in the present war, were transported, as well as their pay and supplies, over 500 miles of the steamboat navigation of the Missouri river. That river is the channel of intercourse and correspondence, not only with that army, but with all the Indian tribes of the west, as well as the new colonies of our citizens which are growing up in Oregon and California. The Ohio and the Mississippi have been essentially necessary to the government in transporting, during the present war, thousands of troops, and quantities of ammunition, arms, army supplies and money, for the "common defence" in Mexico, while the U. S. Mail is annually transported in this valley over 737,801 miles,
14has its crowd of passengers, representing every State, and perhaps connected with every county, in the Union, and that they go freighted with the produce of the west, and return with the manufactures of the east, who can say, with the least propriety, that the interests of the government and the welfare of the people of the United States are not involved in the commerce and navigation of the Mississippi river and its tributaries.
Moreover, these navigable rivers are again made national highways by the Constitution itself, in declaring that "vessels bound to or from one State, shall not be obliged to enter, clear or pay duties in another." This brings the commerce of the Missouri as fully within the regulating power of Congress as that of the Mississippi or of the sea coast. Nor is it permitted to any State to impose duties on tonnage. All these rights are delegated to the Federal Government. And can it be possible that the States have given up all these means of improving their navigable waters, without imposing any correlative duty upon those who alone possess such rights and means? In the convention which framed the constitution of the United States, it was expressly moved that "no State shall be restrained from laying duties of tonnage for the purpose of clearing harbors and erecting light houses,"
Congress, exclusively, have the constitutional authority to regulate commerce, (which includes navigation
15through or by three States or only one, and without reference to the number of people or extent of country interested. In what manner was the power of Congress over commerce and navigation exercised on the Atlantic Coast, before there was any call for its exercise upon the navigable waters of the west? It was exercised in building light houses and public piers, removing rocks and other obstructions in ship channels and harbors, and in placing beacons and buoys to guide the navigator in safety to port. But can it, with truth be said, that the power and duty thus properly exercised terminate the moment the same navigator, in one continuous voyage, enters from the sea the inland waters of his country, where his bark will be still exposed to danger? The General Government exercises jurisdiction over the steamboats of these rivers — why not over the waters themselves? That Government requires these steamboats to be registered in their custom-houses, and licensed under their laws. They prescribe the nature of their tiller ropes — they cause a lantern to be hung at every bow — and can the same power, consistently, disclaim all jurisdiction over natural obstacles and dangers of the rivers themselves? And with what justice can a power delegated in equal terms over "foreign commerce," and "commerce among the States," be exercised for almost the exclusive benefit of the "foreign" and that the least valuable of the two? The government protects a foreign commerce and coasting trade of two or three hundred millions, with a Navy, and with Ambassadors and Consuls, shields it with public piers and illuminates its path with beacon lights, while a commerce among the States of four hundred millions conducted upon their inland waters, is not visited with even a snag boat, not a farthing light to designate the place of danger, and is left to perish without even a register of its ruin. Yet, no good reason can be discovered which authorizes such partiality. The same authority which has improved the harbors and channels of the Atlantic coast, is applicable to the coast and channels of the navigable rivers of the west.
The only difference is in the manner of its application. In the one case, the danger being immovable, is pointed out, and thus avoided. In the other, the obstructions are of a changeable nature, and are controllable and removable at as little cost as the others can be pointed out. This has been ascertained by actual experience.
For example: In the year 1844, the amount appropriated by Congress for light houses, was $420,285.
The following estimate of Col. Long, of the U. S. Engineer Department,
16accompanying the President's Message, of December 1843, relates the cost of employing snag boats for removing obstructions in the Mississippi and its tributaries:
|Employment of 4 snag boats, 9 months, at $2,160 per month, each boat,||$77,760|
|Repairs and outfit of the same, &c.||6,000|
|Employment of two steam machine boats, nine months, at $1,100 per month, each boat,||19,800|
|Repairs, &c. of same,||3,000|
|Construction of two small steam boats, or transports of light draught, to serve as tow boats, tenders, &c., in the service at $8,000 each,||16,000|
|Employment of same, nine months, at $800 per month||14,000|
This is exclusive of the estimate for surveys, as the appropriation for light houses does not include the U. S. coast survey.
Supposing that the river service should require eight snag boats instead of four, and to be effectual, we believe it would, we have then our estimate of the cost increased to $273,120, and yet, not equal to two-thirds of the annual cost of light houses on the sea coast.
But it is to be remembered that the power to regulate foreign commerce, includes in the cost of its exercise, the expenses of maintaining diplomatic intercourse, the erection of custom houses, and survey of the coast, all of which, amounted in 1842, to $944,095. Add to this the expenses of the Coast Squadron, and the Navy, $8,324,993, and we have an aggregate of $9,269,088, annually expended in the protection of foreign commerce. And yet the total amount of appropriations by Congress of every description, for the improvement of the navigation of the Mississippi and its waters, from its commencement, in 1824, up to the year 1846, was only $2,528,800. Within the above named period, the amount expended on the Atlantic Coast, for the establishment of light houses, buoys, beacons, and piers, was $8,485,946, and the amount for harbors on the same coast $4,415,177. These expenditures in behalf of the interests of foreign commerce, have been, and are still very properly continued, while for the last two or three years, all expenditures for the improvement of the navigation of the western rivers, and the protection of their vast commerce, have altogether ceased, and the means of improvement formerly prepared, and many of the works hitherto partially executed, have been suffered to relapse and waste. During the five years that snag boats were at work in our rivers, they performed beneficial service. The boats themselves were of simple construction; yet
17of sufficient power to remove the most formidable snag, with facility, in a few minutes. All that is necessary to their complete success, in keeping the channel of the rivers clear, is, in the first place, sufficient annual and specific appropriations of money to keep them always employed; secondly, the employment of practical men in their superintendence, who are familiar with the navigation and its peculiar dangers; thirdly, the direct application of all the means, to the removal of obstructions in the channel, allowing the exercise of a sound discretion by the superintendent, rather than confining him to the limits of scientific surveys, which may be truthful guides at the time they were made, but are often no longer so, when they are platted. It is not the removal of a snag from the limits of a survey that is needed; it is its removal from the channel, or from a position that will enable the water to make a better channel. However necessary surveys may be to inform the Department at Washington, and to guide the authorities in making estimates, yet, by practical navigators, they are regarded as of little service for real operations,
There are other obstructions in the Mississippi and the Ohio Rivers, which operate as a considerable tax upon transportation, and to which the attention of the Government has been properly invoked. We allude to the Rapids at the Des Moines River, and the Upper, or Rock River
18Rapids, in the Mississippi, and to the Falls at Louisville, in the Ohio. The Louisville and Portland Canal is deemed inadequate to the wants of commerce, and yet it imposes a tax equal to about eight per cent of all the cost of running the boats which pass it. The sum paid to that canal by 110 boats, trading with St. Louis, in 1843, amounted to $33,500. A boat regularly engaged in the commerce between Cincinnati and St. Louis, performing four trips a month, or thirty-two trips in the eight months of open navigation, pacing fifty cents per ton each transit, will pay $16 per ton in the season, and thus, in four seasons, would pay, in tolls, her full value. The government being a stockholder in the canal, a part of this excessive toll (excessive profit, too, to the stockholders,) goes into the public treasury. It is estimated that one-half of the tonnage passing the Falls of the Ohio goes through the canal, and that over 600,000 tons annually pass the Falls. It is further estimated that 150,000 tons annually stop at Portland, below the canal, in consequence of the boats being too large to be admitted through. Whether the Government should not become the entire owner of this canal, (having already been paid more than its original investment, in its share of tolls,) and make it free, and enlarge its dimensions, is worthy of the consideration of Congress.
The Lower, or Des Moines Rapids, of the Mississippi, are two hundred and four miles above St. Louis, and beyond the mouth of the Des Moines river, whence they derive their name. Commencing a little above Keokuk, the Rapids extend nearly up to Montrose, or old Fort Des Moines, opposite to which is the town of Nauvoo. The length of the Rapids is estimated at eleven miles, having a fall of twenty-four feet. "Here," says Prof. Nicollet, "the Mississippi tumbles over ledges of a blue limestone, at all times covered with more or less water, and through which many crooked channels have been worn by the action of the current. During low stages of the water, the passage of the Rapids is very difficult, as well in consequence of the shallowness of the water, as the narrowness and tortuousness of the channel, so that the time of practicable steamboat navigation is shortened by nearly three months in the year, which is about the duration of low water in the river." This, together with the closing of the navigation by winter for nearly four months more, reduces the season of practicable steamboat navigation to about five months in the year. A system of improvements was commenced by Capt. Lee, of the U. S. Corps of Engineers, under the authority of the Government, and continued with satisfactory results until the appropriation was exhausted.
The Upper, or Rock River Rapids, so named from their proximity to Rock River, are from fourteen to fifteen miles long, extending from Rock Island to near Port Byron on the left, and Parkhurst on the right side of the river. The fall, according to Capt. Lee, from the head to the foot of the Rapids, is twenty-five and three-quarter (25 Å¾) feet, and very much of the character of the Lower Rapids. In consequence of the short turns and narrowness of the passes between the reefs, boats cross the current obliquely, and run great risk of destruction. Capt. Lee has demonstrated the practicability of removing these obstacles, so as to afford a safe passage up and clown both Rapids, and thus a continuous navigation from the Gulf of Mexico to the Falls of St. Anthony, of 2,200 miles. At a point called the English Turn, where Capt. Lee worked out a channel eighty feet in width, it is alleged that no accident has occurred since the improvement was made. It has been estimated that the cost of improving both Rapids would be about $260,000. The river and the country above these Rapids are as beautiful and inviting as any part of the Valley of the Mississippi, and the soil offers substantial inducements to settlers, either in fertility or mineral riches. The northern part of Illinois, the new States of Iowa and Wisconsin, the virgin territory of Minesota, and the Government itself, are all deeply interested in the perfection of this navigation. The Government passes these Rapids with its proceeds of land sales, with its supplies for the military posts at Prairie du Chien and on the St. Peters, and for the Indian tribes situated on their head waters. We are informed by one of the most experienced and respectable captains in the trade, that, for the last twenty years, there have been running upon the Upper Mississippi, an annual average of fifteen steamboats, which have annually paid three thousand dollars each, for lighterage and detention at the Lower and Upper Rapids, or an annual aggregate of forty-five thousand dollars. The present number of boats running upon that part of the river is stated to be thirty, which, according to the preceding result, are paying ninety thousand dollars per annum, simply upon account of the Rapids. This enormous sum is levied upon the produce of the farmers and miners of the upper country.
"By a comparison of tables of freights and charges made when the water was high enough for boats to pass the rapids without discharging their cargoes, with freight and charges when the water was too low, it has been ascertained that the increased charges are about one hundred and fifty per cent. When the extent of the lead trade of Galena, Wisconsin and Iowa, is considered, (about 700,000 pigs in 1845,) the largest
portion of which has to be exported when the waters are low; the amount of agricultural and other products, and the imports of necessary articles from other parts of the Union, and from foreign countries, amounting to several millions of dollars annually, all of which is subjected to this increase of freight and charges; and when to this we add the number of travellers, which may be safely set down at from twenty to thirty thousand annually, subject to the same increase of charges on this account; some idea may be formed of the amount of injury which the community sustains, over and above the loss from the detention and injury of boats and cargoes. It is asserted by men practically informed on the subject, that the increase of freights and charges caused by these obstructions, would, in any one year, more than quadruple the cost of all needful improvements."
The following extract from a report made by a Committee of the citizens of Burlington, Iowa, of the business of that town, for the year ending June 1847, will afford an accurate conception of the effect of the Rapids upon the commerce of that single town: They find, "after thorough examination of the receipts and shipments of the different mercantile houses, that there have been imported to Burlington, 687 tons salt; 305 tons iron, stoves and castings; 2,784 tons merchandize — making 3,776 tons at an average freight of six dollars per ton, $22,650 00.
The amount of produce shipped from Burlington is found to be as follows, viz: 16,354 bushels of oats; 118,228 do. corn; 207,948 do. wheat; 666 do. beans; 500 do. flaxseed; 1,847 do. barley; 32,821 bbls. flour, 384 do. whiskey; 1,643 tons pork, bacon and lard; 150 tons hay; 23 do. dry hydes — which is found to be equal to fourteen thousand two hundred and fifty tons, at an average of $6, is $71,250.
|Number of steamboat arrivals 524.|
|Number of cabin passengers from St. Louis to Burlington, estimated to be 10 to each arrival 5,230, at an average of $5 each||$25,150 00|
|Number of dock passengers, estimated at 15 to each arrival, 7,845, at an average of $2 50||19,612 50|
|Number of horses, carriages, wagons, &c. 1,000 at an average fare of $5||5,000 00|
|From which deduct the probable amount of freight and fare if the obstructions were removed from the Rapid, viz: 3,776 tons freight imported at $2 50||$9,440 00|
|14,250 tons freight exported at $2||28 500 00|
|5,230 cabin passengers at $3||15,690 00|
|1,845 deck, do. $1 50||11,767 50|
|To which should be added for losses by detention arising from re-shipping, towing, and additional insurance||10,000 00|
|For loss of keel and flat boats, and their cargoes||10, 5000|
|For depreciation in value of all surplus which finds a market through this point, estimated to be, the present year, $504,000 at 10 per cent||50,040 00|
|Estimated loss to steamboat owners, merchants and Insurance offices, from stranded boats and loss of cargoes, which your Committee have not the means of ascertaining, say||10,000 00|
The Steamboat arrivals at St. Louis, from the Upper Mississippi, for five years, were as follows:
|1841,||143 Steamboats||108 Keelboats,|
|1842,||195 "||88 "|
|1843,||244 "||55 "|
|1845,||647 "||Not reported.|
We are advised by one celebrated in the science of medicine, that if we keep the head cool, the feet warm and the body open, mankind will never need a physician. The Father of waters cools his head in the frigid regions of the north; warms his feet in the sunny air of the tropics, and requires only the removal of natural obstacles which obstruct his interior channels, to place him beyond the necessity of human aid. Such then would be his condition of health and prosperity, that the millions swarming upon his borders, acknowledging no king but the Lord of Hosts, Commerce and the Laws, would present an example of numbers, wealth and influence "above all Grecian, beyond all Roman fame," and beside which, all the grandeur of European nations, ancient and modern, would be as nothing.
But however important may be an unobstructed, continuous and navigable channel, an ability to land and reach the wharves of populous, commercial cities, where cargoes are discharged, boats repaired and re-freighted, and crews refreshed, is equally essential.
The City of St. Louis is the base of the navigation of all the Upper Mississippi and its tributaries, and the head of navigation for the larger boats from the Ohio and the Lower Mississippi. Here is concentrated, all the trade of the Upper Mississippi, the Missouri and the Illinois rivers, and a large portion of that of the Ohio and the Lower Mississippi. Hence is exhibited as busy and crowded a wharf as can any where be seen, upon which are commingled, people of many nations, and products of every clime, and every species of industry. The city was built upon a limestone bluff, of moderate elevation, fronting on the Mississippi, whose water washed its base with a convenient depth. From the condition of a fur-trader's post, it has grown to the quality of a city, promising soon to be of the first class. From a mere boat load of traders, its population has gone on multiplying, until it has reached the number of 50,000. From a trade of a few thousand dollars in furs and peltries, a commerce has arisen which counts its millions. It has grown to be the greatest steamboat port, next to New-Orleans, in the world. Its enrolled and licensed tonnage, was
|In 1844,||16,664 tons,|
|At $65 per ton, its tonage for 1846, was worth||$1,547,000|
But this tonage of its own is not all that is required by its trade. The total number of steamboat arrivals at St. Louis was,
In 1840, 1721, with 244,185 tons.
In 1844, 2105, with 371,691 tons.
In 1846, 2412, with 467,824 tons.
Besides, 801 flat boats, and is exclusive of the trips of the daily packets to Alton. During the month of May, 1846, there were 12 steam boat arrivals per day.
The following table of the imports to St. Louis during the periods named, is, but an approximation to the actual truth, as many articles of great value such as dry goods, hardware, cutlery, specie, bullion, fancy articles, furniture, machinery, farming implements, leather, army and Indian supplies, wool, hay, horses, mules, cattle, hogs and sheep, &c., are omitted; and as to most of the articles named, the table is not full.
|Apples —||Green. bbls.||7,233||6,314||3,728||427|
|bulk, lbs||89, 725||94,274||207,440||679,758|
|kegs and firkins,||3,099||3,424||3,940||1,196|
|boxes and sacks,||837||631||646||483|
|Cotton Yarn —||packages,||5,354||10,756||13,260|
|Iron Bar —||ton||1,981||2,282||2,484||2,487|
|Pig do.||1,469||1, 480||2,326||1,270|
|bars — lbs||19,300,||88,650||7,621||28,259|
|Liquor —||Whisky — bbls||24,510||29,798||29,882|
|Brandy — do.||1,477||1,886||1,698|
|Wine — do.||2,611||3,600||3,084|
|Lead —||white — kegs,||5,256||3,466||1,526|
|Oils —||Linseed — bbls||140||695||826|
|Pork —||half bbls.||73||89||39||250|
|Peaches —||green, — bbls.||382||735||400|
|Rope —||Hemp — coils||12,525||8,890||5,122||5,013|
|Salt —||Domestic — bbls||27,736||21,157||58,948||9,281|
|Liverpool — sacks||112,507||99,272||169,373||1,538|
|Turk's island — bags||11,727||13,412||8,391||1,707|
|Ground Allum — sacks||49,547|
|Havana — boxes||1,630||516||1,352||6,696|
|manufactured — boxes||7,380||7,777||7,903||3,174|
The following table embraces, imports, to the city of wood and lumber for the years
|Cords of wood,||22,646||29,476|
During the present year, (1847) the business of the City has materially increased. In the articles of flour, wheat, corn, oats, hemp, bacon, lard and pork, the increase has been about one hundred per cent., both in quantity and value. The money value of nearly all agricultural products, has greatly increased, and the quantity put in motion has been, in respect to most of the articles exported, augmented in about the same proportion.
The total annual commerce of St. Louis, imports and exports included, although yet in its infancy, is estimated at over $75,000,000,
|The income of the city per annum is||$275,000|
|Taxable property for 1845,||13,607,000|
|Taxable property for 1846,||14,544,238|
|Taxable property for 1847,||16,665,142|
Amount of duties paid to the United States at the St. Louis Custom House, the current year, $50,000.
The United States Arsenal is beautifully situated at the lower end of the city, and consists of stone buildings and walls of great value and durability. Jefferson Barracks, eight miles below, constantly occupied by more or less troops of the United States, and capable of accommodating two Regiments, is considered one of the most eligible stations in the Valley of the Mississippi. Both the Arsenal and the Barracks have been of great and indispensable service to the Government in the present war. The two comprise a value in Government property of $1,750,000,
26and permanent and valuable improvements are still going on. In consequence of the favorableness of the position, the cheapness of manufacture, and the facility of communication in every direction, the Government has had very large supplies manufactured here; much larger, probably, than at any other arsenal in the United States. At the conclusion of the existing war, enormous quantities of Government stores will be turned in upon the Mississippi; most of which, will come to this arsenal for repairs and storage. The increasing demands upon it, have constrained the officer in charge, already to report the shops, laboratories and magazines as too small for the public wants. Since the commencement of the Mexican war, there have been manufactured at this arsenal, gun-powder munitions and other ordnance stores, to the amount of about 1150 tons, costing several millions of dollars, and sent up and down the Missouri and the Mississippi; between 400 and 500 tons of shells and shot; about 7,000,000 of cartridges for small arms, of which, 2,500,000 were made in the single month of April, besides enormous quantities of artillery munitions, giving employment for considerable times together to 500 to 600 hands. The unequalled advantages of this city, as a military position, have been fully demonstrated during the present war.
Such is the commerce, property and population of a city, now threatened with the ruin of its landing. Opposite the city, it is well known, lies, within the limits of Illinois, the great American Bottom, averaging five miles in width, and extending from opposite the mouth of the Missouri, about seventy miles below. This bottom consists of alluvial deposite, and in 1844, was entirely overflowed. Into this bottom the main channel of the Mississippi deflected from the Missouri shore above the city, has been, for many years, making a slow, but sensible progress, leaving a deposite of sand on the shore it, is deserting the entire length of the city. Two immense islands have been formed, in the former channel of the river, extending along the front of the whole city, and the lower one, extending from the United States Arsenal, at the southern limits, to a point as high as the centre of the city, is, in low water, connected with the main land, affording a dry communication between — thus, already shutting out from the river, one half of the city. A flat bar, projecting from the upper end of this island is gradually extending itself up the river; a deposite is also commencing between the upper island and the north-eastern part of the city, the main channel running east, or on the Illinois side of both islands, and rendering the usual approach to the city landing unavailable, and in low water, the last
27season, but a narrow point was left, at which boats of the larger class, could effect a landing at the wharf.
The destruction of this landing, and the abandonment and ruin of this great emporium of the Valley of the Mississippi, would be a general and an insufferable calamity. It would not be confined alone to the ruin of the city, and the destruction of the great advantages now enjoyed here by the Government, but the soft alluvion of the American Bottom, continually giving way to the force of the current, will admit of the formation of new channels, ever changing, diffused over a wide surface, destroying farms, undermining forests, exposing the accumulated floodwood of former years, and presenting a scene of devastation and dangerous navigation, without example. Such a calamity as this now impending, will have a general effect, injurious to the commerce and navigation of the Valley of the Mississippi, and injurious to the Government, and from which it will take years of time and millions of money to recover. Such disastrous consequences may now be easily averted. A few thousand dollars, judiciously expended now, in building a dyke, or dam, a few hundred yards in length, from the Illinois shore to Bloody Island, would confine the river to its old channel on the Missouri shore, and save the future expenditure of hundreds of thousands and the loss of millions of property. The people of St. Louis see the remedy, but are utterly powerless to reach it. The case is beyond the political and municipal jurisdiction of the city of St. Louis and State of Missouri. The boundary of our State is the middle of the main channel of the Mississippi river. The very commencement of operations to save the landing and to restore the old channel, should properly be on the Illinois shore. Between these two jurisdictions Congress alone has the power to interpose, and regulate the commerce between them. The two States of Missouri and Illinois are prohibited, by the Constitution, from ever agreeing together on the subject, and the power of imposing a duty on tonnage, to raise a fund to improve such a harbor or landing, was taken from the States, in the Convention which framed the Constitution, and delegated wholly to Congress. Besides, the City of St. Louis is a port of entry; the seat of a United States Custom House; of a U. S. Sub-treasury; of a U. S. Land Office; of a U. S. Superintendency of Indian Affairs; of a U. S. Surveyor General's Office; of a U. S. Arsenal; a landing place, for a Military Barracks; the Head-Quarters of a U. S. Military Division, and the point from which the U. S. Military Posts of the Upper Mississippi and Missouri are garrisoned and supplied. Indeed, it is difficult to comprehend the extent of the vast interests of
28the Government and people here co-mingled. And as the territory and population, commerce and navigation, of the country are increasing, almost beyond the ability of the imagination to keep pace with them, this point is daily, pari passu, advancing in importance, as the commercial centre, the seat of concentrated capital, talent, skill and enterprize. And shall this proud prospect, and all this accumulated capital and population, be scattered to the four winds of heaven, shifting from point to point, with every vicissitude of a quicksand of the Mississippi, for no other reason than that they are deprived of the political (not physical) power of expending the comparative pitance of $150,000 to secure their landing? We trust that no such shameful implication of inefficiency in the institutions of our country will be permitted, but that the Government, seeing their power, their sympathy, and the exercise of their duty so earnestly invoked, and the welfare of so many people, as well as its own interests so deeply involved, will promptly extend the relief the case so urgently demands.
We cannot close this paper without calling attention to the fact that the proposition of Congress, of 1837, to erect hospitals on the western waters, for the relief of sick and disabled boatmen, remains unexecuted, while the demand for such institutions has greatly increased, and continues to increase. The boatmen, however, are yet taxed, a portion of their wages is still collected by the officers of the United States, under the law of 1798, and yet the provisions originally contemplated, and essentially necessary, are incomplete and insufficient; the demands upon the hospital being greatly multiplied beyond the means afforded for relief. The weather-beaten boatman is taxed when well, that he may be taken care of when sick, yet when the hour of misfortune arrives, he discovers that his contributions, to the fund only make the more poignant the disappointment he feels at being denied its advantages.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
THO: ALLEN, Chairman.
Exports of Pittsburgh, east, 1847 — The amount of freights shipped from Pittsburgh eastward, from the 15th of March to the 3lst of May, of this present year, not including the shipments of the 31st, is registered at 73,936,390 lbs, conveyed in 1,300 canal boats. From the opening of the canal in 1846 to the 1st of June of that year, the amount transported eastward was 40,109,820 lbs., conveyed in 939 boats — showing an excess for the present year, thus far, over a similar period last year, of 33,836,570 lbs. A single item will give point to the exposition of this canal trade. From the15th of March, 1847, to 1st of May, 1847, there were shipped eastward on the canal 54,042 barrels of flour. The item of pork for the same period of little over six weeks shows 22,621 barrels; bacon, 4,073,838 lbs.; lard, 3,729,584lbs.; hemp, 1,323,988 lbs.; tobacco, 975,148 lbs.
|Mississippi, from the Gulf to St. Anthony's Falls||2,200 miles.|
|Missouri, from its Mouth to the foot of the Rapids||2,000|
|Red River, to head of navigation||1,100|
|Ohio, to Pittsburgh||1,000|
|Arkansas, to mouths of the Neosho and Verdigris||630|
|Tennessee, to Chattanooga||485|
|Wabash, to Lafayette||300|
|Illinois, to Ottawa||250|
|Cumberland, to Nashville||200|
A steamboat, leaving Pittsburgh and going to New Orleans, and being there chartered to go up the Missouri as high as the Rapids, and thence returning to Pittsburgh, will perform a REGULAR VOYAGE of about 8,450 miles, a distance nearly equal to crossing the Atlantic three times!
The Mississippi River takes its rise in latitude 48° north, and discharges its waters into the Gulf of Mexico in latitude 29° 5'. It flows through a channel 3,000 miles long. Its course is south, nearly 14° east. Its width averages about half a mile. Its width does not increase with the volume of water, but is about the same at Galena, 1,600 miles above the mouth, as at New Orleans, where the volume is six times as great. It is 645 yards wide at Vidalia, Louisiana. It chains an area of 300,000 square miles. Its mean velocity at the surface, for the year, opposite Vidalia, is 1.88 miles per hour. (Opposite St. Louis its velocity is about three miles per hour.) Its mean depth, per annum, across the entire channel, at the same place, (Vidalia,) is about sixty feet. The mean velocity is reduced about fifteen per cent. by friction against the bottom. The total amount water discharged, per annum, in cubic foot, is 8,092,118,940,000 — [Prof. Forshey.
The Missouri River rises within one mile of the head waters of the great river of the Oregon. It opens the "gates of the Rocky Mountains," at a point 411 miles above the head of its navigation. The following are some of its principal tributaries, each navigable, from 100 to 800 miles:
|The Yellowstone River||800 yards wide at its mouth.|
|Chienne River||400 " "|
|White River||300 " "|
|Big Sioux River||110 " "|
|Platte River||600 " "|
|Kanzas River||233 " "|
|Grand River||190 " "|
|La Mino River||70 " "|
|Osago River||397 " "|
|Gasconade River||— " "|
The length of the Missouri, from its source to its mouth, is 3,096 miles, and no substantial obstruction impedes its navigation from its mouth to the falls, 2,000 miles. Considering
30the Missouri as one river from its sources to the Gulf of Mexico, it is the longest in the world. Its average rapidity is nearly twice that of the Mississippi, as the average level of its valley is nearly twice more elevated than that of the Mississippi. The first year a steamboat navigated the Missouri was 1819. The following is an exhibit of the number of steamboats engaged in the trade of that river from 1838 to1846:
|Year.||Number of Boats.||Number of Trips.|
|1845, arrivals at St. Louis from the Missouri||249|
|1846, arrivals at St. Louis from the Missouri||256|
The Santa Fe trade, and the Fur and Indian trade, as well as the domestic commerce of that river, are very important and extensive, and there are those who anticipate the period when that stream will be made a great artery of the trade between the United States and China and the East Indies. The trade between St. Louis and Santa Fe is estimated at $500,000 per annum. The Fur trade of St. Louis is valued at $300,000 per annum.
The Agricultural Products of the States of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin, for 1845, were in part as follows: wheat, 52,423,000 bushels; oats 88,336,000; corn, 297,396,000; Potatoes, 26,695,000; Tobacco, pounds, 125,962,400, cotton, 631,670,000; sugar, 194,047,000.
Comparative statement of the expenses of a boat on the Upper Mississippi, and of one on the Lower Mississippi:
Steamboat I — , of 249 tons, from St. Louis to New Orleans, from 29th May to 16th June, 1847, inclusive, (18 days.)
|To wood,||$856 62|
|To wages,||1,017 61|
|To stores,||467 76|
|To expenses,||223 10|
Being an average of $142.50. per day.
Down Cargo, 520 tons.
Steamboat F —, of 120 tons, from St. Louis to the Upper Mississippi, from March 27th to June 8th, being 73 days:
|To wood,||$1,313 89|
|To wages,||3,650 00|
|To expenses,||2,251 85|
|To lighting,||676 45|
Being an average of $108.11 per day.
But the average expense of the M —, of 886 tons, is $355 per day; trading between St. Louis and New Orleans.
The average daily expense of the W —, of 498 tons, is $325, engaged in the same trade.
The expense of the D —, of 132 tons, running on the Illinois river, is $70 per day.
Letter from Hon. Thomas H. Benton.
At a meeting of the Delegation appointed to attend the Chicago Convention, held at the Planters' House, on Saturday, the 26th of June, F. M. HAIGHT, Esq., in the Chair, JAMES E. YEATMAN, Esq., presented the following letter from the Hon. THOMAS H. BENTON, which was read, approved, and ordered to be printed with the report of this Delegation: A. B. CHAMBERS, Secretary.
ST. Louis, June 20, 1847.
TO MESSRS. WAYMAN CROW, EDWARD WALSH, JAMES E. YEATMAN AND OTHERS, A COMMITTEE, &c.
In my brief note addressed to you on my return from Jefferson City, I expressed the gratification I should have felt in going with the St. Louis Delegation to the Chicago Convention, and made known the reason which would prevent me from having that pleasure.
The Lake and River navigation of the Great West, to promote which the Convention is called, very early had a share of my attention, and I never had a doubt of the constitutionality or expediency of bringing that navigation within the circle of internal improvement by the Federal Government, when the object to be improved should be one of general and national importance.
The junction of the two great systems of waters which occupy so much of our country — the Northern Lakes on one hand, and the Mississippi River and its tributaries on the other — appeared to me to be an object of that character, and Chicago the proper point for effecting the union; and near thirty years ago, I wrote and published articles in a St. Louis newspaper in favor of that object, indicated, and almost accomplished by nature herself, and wanting but a helping hand from man to complete it. Articles in the St. Louis Enquirer of April, 1819, express the opinions which I then entertained, and the "report" of that period, published in the same paper, to the Secretary at War, by Messrs. Graham and Phillips, in favor of that canal (and which "report" I wrote) was probably the first formal communication, upon authentic data, in favor of the Chicago canal. These gentlemen, with Mr. John C. Sullivan, of Missouri, had been appointed by the Secretary at War, to run a line from the south end of Lake Michigan to the Mississippi, I proposed to them to examine the ground between Chicago and the head waters of the Illinois River, with a view to the construction of a canal by the Federal Government. They did so; and on their return to St. Louis, submitted all their observations to me; and hence the publications in the newspapers, and the report to the Secretary at War. I mention this to shew that my opinions on this subject are of long standing; and that nationality of the Chicago canal, and, of course, of the harbor at its mouth, are by no means new conceptions with me. But, I must confess, that I did not foresee then what I have since seen — the Falls of Niagara surmounted by a ship canal! and a schooner clearing from Chicago for Liverpool!
The river navigation of the Great West is the most wonderful on the globe, and since the application of steam power to the propulsion of vessels, possesses the essential qualities of ocean navigation. Speed, distance, cheapness, magnitude of cargoes, are all there, and without the perils of the sea from storms and enemies. The steam boat is the ship of the river, and finds in the Mississippi and its tributaries the amplest theatre for the diffusion of its use, and the display of its power. Wonderful river! connecting with seas by the head and by the mouth — stretching its arms towards the Atlantic and the Pacific — lying in a valley, which is a valley from the Gulf of Mexico to Hudson's Bay — drawing its first waters not from rugged mountains, but from a plateau of lakes in the centre of the continent, and in communication with the sources of the St. Lawrence
32and the streams which take their course north to Hudson's Bay — draining the largest extent of richest land — collecting the products of every clime, even the frigid, to bear the whole to a genial market in the sunny south, and there to meet the products of the entire world: Such is the Mississippi! And who can calculate the aggregate of its advantages, and the magnitude of its future commercial results?
Many years ago the late Governor CLARK and myself undertook to calculate the extent of the boatable water in the valley of the Mississippi: we made it about 50,000 miles! of which 30,000 were computed to unite above St. Louis, and 20,000 below. Of course, we counted all the infant streams on which a flat, a keel, or a batteau could be floated, and justly: for every tributary, of the humblest boatable character, helps to swell not only the volume of the central waters, but of the commerce upon them. Of this immense extent of river navigation, all combined into one system of waters, St. Louis is the centre! and the entrepot of its trade! presenting even now, in its infancy, an astonishing and almost incredible amount of commerce, destined to increase forever. It is considered an inland town. Courting by time and money, the only true commercial measure of distances, and St. Louis is nearer to the sea than New Orleans was before the steam tow boat abridged the distance between that city and the mouth of the Mississippi. St. Louis is a sea port, as well as an inland city, and is a port of delivery by law, and has collected $50,000 of duties on foreign imports during the current year, and with a liberal custom law would become a great entrepot of foreign as well as of domestic commerce. With the attributes and characteristics of a seaport, she is entitled to the benefits of one, as fully and as clearly as New York or New Orleans.
About twenty years ago, I moved in the Senate, and obtained an appropriation for a survey of the Rapids of the Upper Mississippi: it was probably the first appropriation ever obtained for the improvement of the upper part of the river. About twenty-five years ago, I moved, and succeeded in the motion, to include the Missouri river in a bill for the improvement of the western rivers: it was the first time that river had been so included. Thus, on the important items of the Chicago canal, the Rapids of the Upper Mississippi, and the Missouri river, I was among the first to propose to include them within the circle of internal improvement by the Federal Government. I have always been a friend to that system, but not to its abuses and here lies the difficulty, and the danger, and the stumbling block to its success. Objects of general and national importance can alone claim the aid of the Federal Government; and in favor of such objects I believe all the departments of the government to be united. Confined to them, and the constitution can reach them, and the treasury sustain them. Extended to local or sectional objects, and neither the constitution, nor the treasury could uphold them. National objects of improvement are few in number, definite in character, and manageable by the treasury: local and sectional objects are innumerable, and indefinite, and ruinous to the treasury. Near twenty years ago the treasury was threatened with a demand for two hundred millions of dollars for objects of internal improvement, then applied for, and many of them of no national importance. The enormity of the sum balked the system; and so it must be again, if the proper discrimination is not kept up between local and national subjects. It is for Congress to make that discrimination: the President cannot: he must reject, or approve the bill as a whole. Here, then, is the point at which the friends of the system, in Congress, must exert all their care and vigilance. No arbitrary rule can be given for the admission or exclusion of proper objects; but really national objects admit of no dispute; and, confined to them, I apprehend but little danger of losing a bill, either from Executive vetoes, or for want, of votes in Congress.
Very respectfully, Gentlemen, your friend and fellow-citizen,
THOMAS H. BENTON.
Exports of New Orleans, foreign and coastwise, 1845,
Exports of New Orleans, foreign and coastwise, 1846,
Increase in 1846
Michigan, from all ports,
Chicago, for the year 1845,
Receipts by Canals and Railroads, at Toledo, O.,
At Buffalo, 1846, flour, bbls,
At New Orleans, 1846, flour, bbls.,
At Buffalo, bushels wheat,
At New Orleans, bbls. and sks.wheat,
At Buffalo, lbs bacon,
At New Orleans, lbs. bacon
(See also "Exports of Pittsburgh, 1847," at end of Report.)
Imports of the United States for 1845-6
Exports of the United States for 1845-6
In 1824, Mr. Bruce served as an agent of the U. States, in the application and use of his method on the Ohio river, under Major Babcock, of Corps of United States' Engineers, and continued in the service till 1826, when Col. Long took the place of Major Babcock. Col. Long was continued for three months only, when Capt H. M. Shreeve was appointed, and continued in the superintendence of these improvements until 1839, when operations ceased, and for two years afterward. During the employment of Capt. Shreeve, important improvements were made upon "Bruce's method" and in 1828, new snag boats were built and worked by steam. Those two boats continued to operate for six years, when being worn out, new ones were constructed to supply their place. From 1828, to 1838, the removal of snags was prosecuted with success, in the Ohio, Mississippi, Arkansas and Red rivers. Prior to 1838, six steam snag boats had been constructed, at an average cost, for each of about $25,000. Daring the same period, eight or nine small steam boats, belonging to the Government, were employed in the same service. In 1842, $100,000 was appropriated by Congress "for building and repairing the necessary boats, and for carrying on the improvement of the Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio and Arkansas rivers." Capt. John W. Russell was appointed the agent of the United States and the boats having been repaired at St. Louis, the work of removing snags, was re-commenced in December of that year, and continued till April 17,1843, when they were suspended by high water, but resumed in August following. Congress appropriated for the eighteen months ending June 30, 1814, $50,000, up to which time, the works were continued. Subsequent appropriations by Congress, failing, either to meet the approval of the Executive, or to be returned with his objections, the works upon the rivers altogether ceased, and the snag boats &c. have since been sold at a sacrifice.
1846. Barrels of flour manufactured in the city
1846. Barrels of flour imported
Total, barrels flour
Worth at $5 per barrel
Bushels of wheat imported, 1,838,926 worth $1 per bushel
Total value of the flour and wheat of St. Louis, 1846
And, as this does not include the quantities brought to the city in wagons, the estimate is below the fact, and still much below the business of 1847.
Yet, so many will be still disposed to doubt the estimate, that, rather than reduce a single figure, we will offer one method of demonstrating its truth.
We have shown that the average tonnage of steam boats trading at St. Louis is 210 tons per boat — that there are 2412 arrivals per annum of steam boats, and 800 arrivals of flat boats. The flat boats we will average at the low rate of 50 tons each.
2412 x 210=
800 x 50=
Now, what is the value of a ton? Take, for the purpose of deriving an average, say eleven of our principal articles of trade, yet of the lowest value per ton. For example: Hay is worth $20; Tobacco $90; Lead $75; Hemp $75; Flour $63; Corn $22; Wheat $44; Oats $22; Pork $130; Bacon $130; Beef $88 — average value per ton, $68. Most other articles of import and export are worth more. Let us then multiply our average value of a ton by the number of tons, 546, 520 x 68= $37,103,360 But these are articles of export. Our imports must be equivalent. The sum must, therefore, be doubled. We have, then, $74,206,720, as the value of our imports and exports by boats. There are $2,000,000 of specie and bullion to be added. There are vast amounts arriving and departing by wagons; many rafts of lumber; 1,335,873 bushels of coal, and many other items to be added, increasing, rather than reducing our estimate. The tables of imports derived from the Harbor Master's Register, are very imperfect, and fall very far short of the truth. For example: The number of Buffalo Robes received in 1846, are put down at 16,717, while we are assured, by the best authority, that the number was as high as 60,000.