Art. I. — American Steam Navigation.
THE growing importance of navigation by steam in this country, and the direct bearing which it exercises upon the various interests of our commerce, induce us to devote the present paper to a consideration of the progress and influence of this newly discovered power. In accordance with that plan, we shall trace the origin of the invention from its first dawning to its full development, and attempt to sketch the physical and moral consequences that it will produce upon the nation.
In exact proportion to the extension of political freedom and the diffusion of popular intelligence, has been the advance of invention in the useful arts, or those arts which are calculated to bestow practical benefits upon the great bulk of men. As political power has been diffused among; the great mass of men, the human mind has been directed to those inventions that were calculated to confer solid benefits upon the mass. Among, the most important of these useful inventions is the discovery of the manner's compass, the arts of printing and cotton spinning, and last of all, the science of navigation by steam, everywhere displaying its triumphs upon the rivers, the lakes, and the oceans of the world, the crowning victory of the mechanical philosophy of this nineteenth century.
It was in this country that the genius which perfected this discovery first burst forth into full strength. By the generous and then judicious legislation of the state of New York, that genius was fostered until it brought forth the discovery in its full practical success. It was from the crowded shores of its metropolis that the first successful steamboat was launched, and around the cultivated fields and picturesque hills and blue headlands and bays and islands of this port, that its fabrics first played, It was upon the rivers of this state, and the lakes that wash its furthermost shores, that the most elegant models of steamships have been constructed, and here it has performed its most glorious triumphs. To the state of New York, with one side resting on the sea and the other upon the great lakes, with Niagara thundering upon its western boundaries, and its eastern sea-coast serenaded by the roar of the ocean; this empire
106within itself, combining agricultural and commercial advantages in a remarkable degree, with a population for the most part sprung from the New England hive, moulded, in due proportions, with other elements, — a population distinguished for its enterprise, liberality, and perseverance: — to New York, holding in its right hand the trident of the waters, and in the left the plough of the western prairies, belongs the fitting credit of first setting afloat this power — the crowning glory of its commercial victories.
Our broad and fertile empire is enriched by channels of commerce, that intersect the territory and surround its coaSt. The eastern sea-board, from Maine to the capes of Florida, embracing numerous productive states, is washed by the waves of the Atlantic, and this line of coast is indented at frequent points with convenient and safe harbors, for shipping from every foreign port. The rivers rising east of the Alleghany Mountains, constituting about one hundred in number, course nearly the whole extents of our Atlantic states, and are, in a great measure, navigable. In New England we find the Penobscot, the Kennebeck, the Merrimack, the Connecticut, and the Thames, winding through a very extensive tract of country, and furnishing avenues for commerce from a convenient distance in the interior to their outlets upon the sea. Advancing from that section of the country to New York, we meet the Hudson, taking its rise in the neighborhood of Lake Champlain, and flowing for the distance of two hundred and fifty miles in nearly a straight line, through rich plain and cloud-crowned highland, along village and through valley, adorned with the beauties of nature and art, from whose borders the blue mountains swell and sweep away like the most gorgeous creations of the pencil, bearing the tide of a fruitful commerce through a channel of one hundred and fifty miles, from the political capital of this great state to the broad bay that expands before us. The Delaware soon meets our view, a river navigable for steam-vessels of the largest class to Philadelphia, and thence to Trenton. The Patapsco is now reached, which flows to the port of Baltimore. The Potomac, springing from the Alleghany Mountains, and broadening to an extent of seven and a half miles at its entrance into the Chesapeake Bay, itself an inland sea, is ploughed by ships of the largest class to the city of Washington, a point about one hundred and three miles from its mouth. The Rappahannock, the York, the James, the Roanoke, the Pamlico, the Ashley and Cooper, the Savannah, the Apalachicola, and the Mobile, each affording channels for steam navigation, water the most fertile portions of the south. We proceed to the western border of our state, and a chain of inland seas, the largest upon the earth, spreads itself out for thousands of miles, through luxuriant forests, from the shores of New York, beyond Mackinaw, to the granite-bound cliffs of Lake Superior. Starting from Pittsburg, at the base of the Alleghany Mountains, we sail along the Ohio, in a course of nine hundred and forty-five miles, where its flood mingles with the Mississippi, and here the father of waters is unfolded in all its grandeur. Stretching from New Orleans to St. Louis, a distance of nearly twelve hundred miles, it is met by the Missouri, that opens an uninterrupted navigation for two thousand five hundred and thirty-two miles, from its mouth to the falls which obstruct it. Besides this grand tributary, the Mississippi receives the Illinois, the Red River, the Arkansas, the White River, and numerous other navigable streams that have not been described, and which wind far away into the
107interior, furnishing safe channels for the transportation of its products. These are some of the most important commercial arteries of this vast empire — the field upon which the steam navigation of the country is destined to act!
The expansive power of steam was early ascertained. Hero, of Alexandria, an individual who, in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus, was distinguished for his scientific attainments, describes, in a work entitled Spiritalia, a machine which he had invented long before the Christian era, for the purpose of ejecting boiling water from a globe through a pipe, by this power. That instrument, however, appears not to have been applied to any beneficial purpose, but was used for mere amusing experiments, and it is a somewhat remarkable fact, that the philosopher attributes to the agency of steam the mysterious music which is said to have broken forth every day from the statue of Memnon, at the rising of the sun. In the royal archives of the city of Salamanca, a record is alleged to have been lately discovered, purporting to be an account of a vessel which was propelled by steam in the port of Barcelona, during the year 1543, under the auspices of Blasco de Garay, an officer in the service of the Emperor Charles. We are informed that the engine consisted of a large tank of boiling water, acting upon moveable wheels on each side of the vessel, and that its action was witnessed by a large concourse of spectators, but that the obtuseness of that age gave no encouragement to the invention, and the machine was broken up. A statement founded upon an unauthenticated record should, we conceive, be received with scrupulous distrust; but if its truth is established, it exhibits the first recorded account of navigation by steam. Cardan and Mathesius, two mechanical philosophers, who flourished about the year 1571, appear also to have been acquainted with the power of steam. The former has given us ample evidence that he possessed a shadowy conviction that this agent might be applied to a machine somewhat similar to a modern steam-engine, while the latter has shown to us that he was acquainted with the fact that its condensation would produce a vacuum. At this early period the turnspit dog, which is known to have been formerly employed in the culinary department of our own country, had been invented, and it was at that time proposed to substitute for its use the whirling eolipile, an instrument formed for the purpose of exciting the force of combustion. Baptista Porta, a Neapolitan, who attracted some attention at the close of the sixteenth century, and De Causas, devoted their attention to the same object, and invented instruments for the raising of boiling water by steam, which were well known in their own day.
Thus far the power of steam was exclusively employed for the purpose of lifting water, and continued so to be used until the time of Brancas. This man, an Italian by birth, first proposed to direct the blast issuing from the pipe of the eolipile upon the leaves of a wheel, which might produce a rotary motion, and thus move machinery; and in this suggestion we discern the germ of that locomotive power which is now producing such important revolutions in mind and matter. The suggestion Brancas was, however, improved by Bishop Wilkins, and Kircher, who proposed to apply two eolipiles to the same design; and we are now led to a consideration of the mechanical labors of the Marquis of Worcester. The English claim for that nobleman the merit of having first applied the power of steam to useful purposes, and allege that all the plans afterwards
108successively adopted for the practical application of this agent to beneficial objects, were derived from his inventive genius. That Worcester endowed with a distinguished genius for mechanical philosophy did make valuable experiments with this agent in its direction to hydraulic purposes and actually formed in his mind the airy outline of a steam-engine, if he did not construct the machine, it is difficult to deny. In a manuscript journal of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosmo de Medicis, who, in 1656, journeyed through a part of England, the following remarks may be found: — "His highness," says the duke,"that he might not use the day uselessly, went again after dinner to the other side of the city, extending his excursions as far as Vauxhall, beyond the palace of the Archbishop of Canterbury, to see an hydraulic machine, invented by my Lord Somerset, the Marquis of Worcester. It raises water more than forty geometrical feet, by the power of one man only, and in a very short space of time will draw up four vessels of water through a tube or channel not more than a span in width. "A project for the construction of some sort of a steam-engine appears to have been struggling in his mind long before his death, although the particular form of the machine cannot now be clearly ascertained. Alluding to this machine, he says, "By this I can make a vessel of as great burden as the river can bear, to go against the stream, and this engine is applicable to any vessel or boat whatsoever, without being therefore made on purpose, and worketh these effects. It roweth, it draweth, it driveth, if need be, to pass London Bridge against the stream, at low water."
Although Denys Papin, a French protestant, had invented the safety valve as early as 1680, the power of steam was not applied to any very advantageous result until the time of Savary. Early employed in the mines of Cornwall, and aware of the great expense required to keep them free from water, this person, chancing to be at a tavern in London, and throwing into the fire a Florence flask containing a small quantity of wine, perceived the wine to boil, and vapor issuing from the neck, while the interior became transparent. Seizing the flask, and plunging the end into a basin of water, a vacuum having been formed by the condensation of the steam, the water rushed in to occupy the vacant space.
A claim has been set up in England to support the patent of Jonathan Hull for the application of steam to navigation, on the ground of a patent which was granted to him in 1736. This claim is found to be entirely
109without foundation, the steam-engine at that period not having arrived to sufficient perfection to be used as a motive power. A steamboat is said also to have been constructed upon the Thames, by Prince Rupert, the action of which, we are informed, was probably witnessed by Papin, Savary, and Worcester; and as early as 1781 a steam-vessel, one hundred and fifty feet long, was launched upon the Saone, preparatory experiments having been made during the three years previous at Baume les Dames. The performance of that boat was, however, so successful, that it received a favorable report from the French Academy of Sciences. Down to this period the application of steam to vessels was merely experimental, no signal success having been obtained; and from that time we are to look to this country for the full development of that mighty power.
Down to the year 1783, the steam-engine, gradually improved by the inventive genius of successive machinists, had been applied with success to other objects than navigation, but was not used as a locomotive power with any considerable advantage. During that year Mr. James Rumsey, of Berkeley county, Virginia, and John Fitch, a watchmaker, of Philadelphia, directed their efforts to the application of steam to the purposes of navigation. These efforts were successful in enabling them to construct steamboats, patents of which were exhibited during the succeeding year to General Washington. Mr. Rumsey first perfected his plan to a condition for exhibition, while Fitch was successful in applying his power to practical purposes, by first launching a steamboat upon the waters of the Delaware. The boat employed by Mr. Fitch was propelled through the water by a system of paddles at the rate of about four miles an hour, and he soon adopted the precaution to send to Watt and Bolton a plan of his apparatus, for the purpose of obtaining an English patent from London. Rumsey, who in 1786 was successful in floating his boat upon the Potomac, used a pump that drew in water at the bow and forced it out at the stern; a system of propulsion which at any time must have failed. Nor were the public unwilling to discountenance the genius and enterprise of Fitch; for, on the 19th of March, 1787, an act was passed by the legislature of New York, granting to John Fitch the sole and exclusive right of making and using every kind of boat or vessel impelled by steam, in all creeks, rivers, bays, and waters, within the territory and jurisdiction of New York, for fourteen years. While such efforts were made in this country, a portion of the scientific genius of Europe was devoted to the same subject. Miller, of Dalswinton, in Scotland, having substituted for paddles a triple vessel impelled by wheels, soon found that the application of human labor to turn the crank was insufficient for the propulsion of his vehicle; and profiting by the suggestion of a friend, he applied the steam-engine to that purpose, and was successful in propelling a boat at considerable speed upon the Forth and Clyde canal. Symington, a former engineer of Miller of Dalswinton, directed his talents to the same object, not only upon the rivers, but the sea, and made successful experiments upon the Forth and Clyde canals, with a similar boat. Nor would we pass over the claims of Oliver Evans, early an apprentice to a wheelwright. In 1786, this individual petitioned the legislature of Pennsylvania to grant him the exclusive right to use "steam-wagons" in that state and in the succeeding year obtained from the legislature of Maryland a patent, giving to him the right of making and using steam-wagons for the period of fourteen years. Nor would we abate from him any portion of the just
110fame that is his due, for having, in the year 1801, constructed a dredging machine for the corporation of Philadelphia, weighing forty-two thousand pounds, which was conveyed the distance of a mile and a half to the river by the power of a steam-engine, launched and propelled by its own paddle wheel in the stern, driven down the Schuylkill to the Delaware, and up the Delaware to the city of Philadelphia, and back, in the presence of a crowd of witnesses. Steam navigation, as afterwards applied, had not as yet been discovered. Contemporaneous efforts, as we have seen, had been made in this country and Europe, directed to the same subject.
Meanwhile other efforts were in progress, within the country, for the advancement of navigation by steam. Mr. John Stevens, of Hoboken a gentleman whose name stands conspicuous in the history of steam navigation, and to whom, with his son, we are indebted for the most beautiful models that float upon our waters, had as early as 1791 commenced his experiments in the cause, quietly toiling, through his agents, in his workshops, situated upon his patrimonial estate at Hoboken, and had also struck out new light upon the subject which was the engrossing topic of thought among the prominent mechanical philosophers of that day. Associated with Mr. Robert R. Livingston, a former eminent chancellor of the state of New York, Nesbitt, a native of England, and Brunei, now well known as the engineer of the tunnel upon the Thames, they had applied their powers to this project with great zeal, and in furtherance of their plan succeeded, in 1797, in constructing a boat upon the Hudson. Impressed with the conviction that navigation by steam was practicable, and would be successfully introduced upon the waters of this country, and in order to enable those who were advancing in the labor to reap the benefit if their experiment was successful, Mr. Livingston procured to be passed, by the legislature of New York, an act, bearing date the 27th of March, 1798, on the suggestion that John Fitch, the original patentee, was dead, or had withdrawn from the state; which act, on the statement made by him that he possessed a mode of applying the steam-engine to propel a boat upon new and advantageous principles, gave him the right of the exclusive navigation of the waters of New York by steam for twenty years, on the condition that he should produce a boat, within the period of one year, that could be propelled at the rate of three miles per hour; but this he failed in doing, and the grant was accordingly made of no effect. Two years afterwards, Mr. Livingston and Mr. Stevens, aided by Mr. Roosevelt, entered upon renewed efforts to effectuate the same object; the instrument of propulsion being a system of paddles that were set in motion like a horizontal chain-pump. Their experiments were, however, attended with but poor success; their joint efforts being soon determined by the appointment of Chancellor Livingston to represent our government at the court of France. Yet neither Mr. Livingston or his coadjutor were discouraged. They both still toiled on, the one in Paris and the other in Hoboken, to advance the great work.
During this period, there arose upon the horizon a name that will forever identified with the progress of steam navigation throughout world. Born in the interior of the state of Pennsylvania, when that portion of the state was a silent wilderness, humble in his origin, if lowliness is the part of obscurity and indigence, with a genius for drawing and painting early developed, by the exercise of which he had procured for himself, in the city of Philadelphia, the means of subsistence, purchase
111farm and settled upon it with filial affection his aged mother, before he had attained his majority, we find Robert Fulton, in the year 1786, embarked for England, and living in the family of Benjamin West, the painter; under whose auspices he practiced his favorite art, and at the same time engaged in a correspondence with the Earl of Stanhope. Dividing his time between the labors of the pencil and projects directed to the purposes of internal improvement, upon which subject he published a treatise in the city of London, we find Mr. Fulton, inspired by ambition, casting about for chances to display his undoubted talents. From the house of Mr. West, Fulton removed to that of Joel Barlow, and pursued the studies seemingly the best fitted to his views, under the auspices of that distinguished man. At this period his mind appears to have been especially directed to the subject of steam navigation; and having succeeded in performing several ingenious experiments, the principal of which was the invention of a submarine boat and bombs, afterwards named torpedoes, by which, in 1801, he blew into fragments a small shallop which was anchored in the harbor of Brest, in the presence of a commission ordered by Napoleon, he fortunately here met Mr. Livingston, the American minister.
The communion of minds so congenial soon ripened into friendship. Being both interested in the same object, the one distinguished for his science and accomplishments, and the other for his practical and experimental sense, they were soon determined to co-operate in advancing the progress of the cause which was so deeply moving the minds of men. By mutual counsel and joint effort, a steamboat was launched upon the Seine during the spring of 1803, in the presence of numerous spectators, and performed so well that they were encouraged to persevere. It had long been the opinion of Mr. Fulton, an opinion based upon a series of philosophical inductions, and originally expressed to the Earl of Stanhope, that wheels with paddles, or floats, were the proper instruments for the propulsion of steamships, and that opinion was confirmed by the experiment that had then been successfully performed on the Seine. More vigorous measures were soon adopted, both by Mr. Livingston and Mr. Fulton, for the prosecution of their joint plan, and it was determined to transfer the field of their experiments from France to the United States. An engine was accordingly procured to be made from the workshops of Messrs. Watt & Bolton, near Birmingham. By the influence of Mr. Livingston, a new act, granting to himself and Mr. Fulton the right of exclusive navigation of the waters of New York, by steamboats, for the period of twenty years, was procured to be passed; and in the spring of 1807, a steamboat called the Clermont was launched from the shipyard Mr. Charles Brown, and moved by her machinery to the Jersey shore, the day appointed for her departure, a crowd collected to witness hat most men believed would, at that time, result in a useless experiment. As the boat moved slowly from the bank, the more amiable part of the spectators merely shrugged their shoulders in distrust, while the rest cast out their sarcastic remarks lavishly upon the enterprise; and it was not until they had learned that the boat had sailed along the Hudson to the white spires of Albany, at the rate of five miles an hour, that their jests were changed to acclaiming shouts of exultation. Meantime, the elder Stevens, who had been early associated with Mr. Livingston in the same object, aided by his son, had nearly perfected a steamboat; and, but a fortnight after the trip of Fulton, having been shut out from the
112waters of New York by the exclusive grant to Livingston and Fulton succeeded in propelling a steamboat around the coast to the Delaware, and was accordingly the first to adventure upon the ocean with a steam vessel.
Whatever might have been the value of other experiments in steam enginery, and they were of great importance as facilitating the grand resuit, it is clearly by Fulton that the power of steam was first applied to the practical purposes of navigation, and in that form which is now principally used for the propulsion of ships. In measuring the amount of credit due to him for this discovery and successful experiment, we are to consider, not what others might have done, but what he did Rumsey, Miller, Worcester, and Watt, — Fitch, Stevens, and Evans, — might, with the proper appliances and means, have performed successfully the same experiment. But the probable result of their efforts is left to mere conjecture. It was reserved for Fulton to demonstrate the power by a practical experiment, and in accordance with this experiment, to establish the first line of steamboats upon the Hudson.
And what was the condition of the country at that time? It was just in that position that it required precisely such an agent for its commerce as that of steam. Broad in territorial extent, peopled by colonies widely separated, and each possessing distinct sectional principles and opinions, and with unmeasured tracts of land in the interior of exhaustless fertility, inviting the labors of the plough, — the agency of such a power as that of steam navigation was requisite to connect its remote parts by a mutual intercourse; to afford markets for the fruits of agricultural enterprise; and thus to advance colonization and production. Our Atlantic sea-board was at that time but poorly provided with the capricious vehicles of a limited commerce, worked entirely by sails. The rivers that watered the interior of the country were ploughed only here and there by a straggling sloop or shallop, that was dependent upon the state of the winds and the tides; and their banks presented a few scattering settlements that were then more estranged from each other on account of the limited means of intercommunication. At the west, from the city of Buffalo to the banks of the Missouri, there was stretched out a vast and silent wilderness, burdened with the luxuriance of exhaustless but undeveloped resources, whose twilight gloom was broken only at wide intervals by the curling smoke of the log house or the light of the Indian camp-fire. The fresh tracks of the buffalo were yet seen upon the prairies of Illinois, and the deer, undisturbed by man, cropped the green herbage that was scattered in lavish profusion upon its waving solitudes. The inland seas of the northwest were scarcely ruffled by the keels of commerce. The pirogue or canoe of the French fur-trader, and the bark of the Indian, as he paddled through the glassy waters around their headlands, and the frail shallop which sometimes struggled onward through the forest upon its yet lonely course, were the only vehicles that divided their waves. The navigation of the Ohio and the Mississippi was, if possible, in a less advanced condition. A few feeble settlements had been made in what now constitutes the great state of Ohio. Four keel-boats, each of twenty tons, and occupying one month in going and returning, performed all the carrying trade between Cincinnati and Pittsburg. Although, at different points above New Orleans, the sycamores and magnolias had been cleared away for the sugar or the cotton plantation, the main portion of that fertile
113alluvion was a trackless forest. The keels and flat-boats used for the commerce of that river were required to be propelled by poles, or dragged by ropes through the tangled undergrowth and miry swamps which border it, tracts inhabited only by the snake and the alligator; and four months were frequently required to make the journey against the current between Pittsburg and New Orleans. The flat-boats that were used for the transportation of emigrants and their merchandise from Pittsburg to New Orleans, often occupied a month in passing down to the latter place, and seldom returned. In order to judge of the luxurious modes of communication that then prevailed, and so strongly contrasted with the palaces which now float by hundreds upon the western lakes and rivers, we quote the following advertisement relating to the four keel-boats which plied, in 1794, between Cincinnati and Pittsburg. "No danger need be apprehended from the enemy," says the Centinel of the Northwestern Territory, of January 11th, 1794," as every person on board will be under cover, made proof against rifle or musket balls, and convenient portholes for firing out of." A sufficient inducement was thought to be furnished for travel by the provision of bullet-proof walls, and convenient portholes, for firing at those Indians who might attack the boat or be seen upon the bank. Such was the condition of the navigation of the country when Fulton first launched his steam-vessel upon the Hudson!
We recur to Fulton, with his first steamboat, and relate the history of his voyage, in the words of the projector. "I left New York," says Fulton, "on Monday, at one o'clock, and arrived at Clermont, the seat of Chancellor Livingston, at one o'clock on Tuesday: time, twenty-four hours; distance, one hundred and ten miles. On Wednesday, I departed from the chancellor's at nine in the morning, and arrived at Albany at five in the afternoon: distance, forty miles; time, eight hours. The sum is one hundred and fifty miles, in thirty-two hours; equal to near five miles an hour. On Tuesday, at nine o'clock in the morning, I left Albany, and arrived at the chancellor's at six in the evening. I started from thence at seven, and arrived in New York at four in the afternoon: time, thirty hours; space run through, one hundred and fifty miles, — equal to five miles an hour. Throughout my whole way, both going and returning, the wind was ahead; no advantage could be derived from my sails; the whole, therefore, has been performed by the power of the steam-engine. The power of propelling boats by steam is now fully proved. The morning I left New York there were not, perhaps, thirty persons in the city who believed that the boat would ever move one mile an hour, or be of the least utility; and while we were putting off from the wharf, which was crowded with spectators, I heard a number of sarcastic remarks. Having employed much time, money, and zeal, in accomplishing this work, it gives me, as it will give you, great pleasure to see it fully answer my expectations. It will give a cheap and quick conveyance to the merchandise on the Mississippi, Missouri, and other great rivers, which are now laying their treasures to the enterprise of our countrymen. Although the prospect of personal emolument has been some inducement to me, yet I feel infinitely more pleasure in reflecting on the immense advantage that my country will derive from the invention."
Soon after this event, the Clermont plied as a regular boat between
114New York and Albany. But notwithstanding the immense advantage derived to the public from the invention of Fulton, his path was over, shadowed with clouds and darkness. The new boat was deemed an interloper, and came into competition with established lines of packets. Its rivals supposed that the introduction of the newly-discovered agent would break up the sloops worked by sails which had hitherto performed the carrying trade upon that river. Intentional collisions between the sail and steam boats, plying between the two ports, were not unfrequent.
In 1809, Mr. Fulton took out the first patent for his invention; and although during the previous year a law had been passed by the legislature of New York, extending to Mr. Livingston and Mr. Fulton the privilege that had been previously granted, namely, enlarging the term of the grant to a period of five years for every boat they should successfully establish provided that the duration of the grant should not exceed thirty years from the passage of the law, the grantees continued to meet with so much opposition, that a supplementary act was passed, granting to them summary remedies against those whom they claimed were infringing upon their vested rights. A particular account of that complex series of litigation which grew out of the establishment of Fulton's line would be tedious. A company was formed in Albany, and through their agency a rival line was run upon the Hudson, on the ground of the unconstitutionality of the grant to Livingston and Fulton, giving to them the exclusive right of navigating by steam the waters of New York. The grantees, Messrs. Livingston and Fulton, believing that their grant was legal and valid, soon made application to the Circuit Court of the United States for an injunction to prevent the infringement of the right vested in them by the law; but the court said they had no jurisdiction of the case. Resort was now had to the Court of Chancery of the state, (Mr. Lansing presiding,) and the prayer of the petitioners was refused on the ground of the invalidity of the state grant. An appeal was then taken to the Court of Errors of this state, comprised, when sitting on an appeal in chancery, of the senate of the state and five judges of the Supreme Court. That appeal was enforced by the fervid and feeling eloquence of a man well known throughout this state — Cast off like a vigorous tree from the Emerald Isle, scorched by the thunderbolt of political proscription, and transplanted to this land of freedom, where its verdant branches shot forth with luxuriant growth and abundant fruit; a man whose bright career exhibits a splendid commentary, not only upon his own patriotism in behalf of an oppressed country, but upon the generous sympathy of our own, the asylum of the unfortunate; a man whose intellectual efforts were the pure emanations of a mighty, ardent, and upright soul; — Thomas Addis Emmet, whose melancholy countenance now looks forth in marble, like the embodied spirit of his down-trodden land, from our halls of justice, which he illuminated by his genius, and from the garden of St. Paul's church, upon the thronging multitudes of the city whose adopted son he was. By the agency of this gentleman, together with others of equal talents, the decision of the chancellor was reversed, and a perpetual injunction, backed by a popular sentiment that is always disposed to give solid merit its due reward, was granted. A compromise was however soon affected between the antagonist parties that prevented any further agitation of the question until the year 1814.
At this period, individuals in the neighboring states of Connecticut
115New Jersey, feeling themselves aggrieved by the legislation of New York excluding their vessels from its waters, procured to be passed retaliatory acts prohibiting the steam-vessels of New York from the navigation of their own territories; and among the most conspicuous of these was Colonel Aaron Ogden, then governor of the state last named. In his memorial presented to the legislature of New-York in 1814, he claimed that was the proprietor of an "ancient and accustomed ferry" between Eilizabethtown Point and this city, upon which the establishment of a line of steamboats would tend greatly to the public accommodation; and that he possessed the clear right to propel steam-vessels to this port, under a patent and coasting license from the United States, and also as the representative of John Fitch, and the assignee of all rights claimed by him under the state grant made to Fitch, and the patent issued out to him by the United States, as the inventor of navigation by steam. The memorial was submitted to a select committee of the assembly, of which Mr. William Duer, now the president of Columbia College, was the chairman. Numerous witnesses were examined in order to the establishment of the facts of the case. After due deliberation, the committee in effect declared by their report that the steamboats constructed by Messrs. Livingston and Fulton had been formerly patented to John Fitch; that Fitch or his assignee had the right to the use of his invention during the term of his patent, and that the use then fell to the public; and that the exclusive legislation of the state of New York in favor of Messrs. Livingston and Fulton was unconstitutional and oppressive. The senate of this states, however, rejected the bill, and Mr. Ogden then appealed to the legislature of New Jersey. But he was here met by his former opponents, and ultimately defeated; for they procured to be passed, in the legislature of that state, an act repealing its own former retaliatory measures excluding the steamboats of New-York from the waters of the former state. Another compromise was, however, soon affected between the state grantees of New York, which for a time prevented any further litigation.
Meanwhile Mr. Fulton, performing experiments with the paddle-wheels, labored on in the great work. During the first year of his successful experiment, two boats, the Raritan and the Car of Neptune, were launched; a line of steam ferry-boats was set afloat by him upon the Hudson, in 1811 and 1812, and a ferry was run by steam also, established regularly between New York and Brooklyn.
It had long been a part of the plan of Mr. Fulton to extend his newly discovered means of communication upon the great waters of the west. With what object, he proceeded at this time across the Alleghany Mountains to Pittsburgh, for the purpose of superintending the construction of a steamboat at that place, and with a mind teeming with the brilliant prospects that were then opening before him. A well-authenticated anecdote connected with his journey has come down to us, which may, perhaps, bear repetition. Being in a stage-coach, lumbering around the declivities of those mountains, and becoming somewhat familiar with his fellow-passengers during a journey of several days, he was naturally led to dwell upon his newly discovered agent, and the various modes of its application. In return he was met by the jests of his companions, who, as often as any apparently impossible project was discussed, inquired if he could do this or that by steam. "The day will come," says Fulton, "I may not live to see it, but some of you who are younger probably will, when carriages
116will be drawn over these mountains by steam-engines, at a rate more rapid than that of a stage-coach upon the smoothest turnpike." How this prediction will be verified, let the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad answer. In the year 1811, the first essay in western steamboat navigation was made by Mr. Fulton in the launching of the Orleans at Pittsburgh, from which time the navigation by steam upon the western waters so rapidly augmented, that, as we are shown by well-established documents, from the year 1814 to 1835, five hundred and eighty-eight steamships were built upon these rivers.
Fulton's career was drawing to a close. Suffering under disease while engaged in giving directions to his workmen, who were employed in building his new steam-frigate, he brought on a relapse of his malady, which increased until the 15th day of February, 1815, when his mortal life ceased, and his soul returned to him who gave it. The body, enclosed in a leaden coffin and followed by the officers of the national and state governments, was borne from his residence, in No. 1 State street, to the Trinity church, while minute-guns were fired from the steam-frigate, the work of his mind, which were answered from the Battery. The state legislature, when information of his death reached them, voted to wear the badges of mourning in respect to the event. His remains were deposited in the Livingston vault. Encumbered with a load of debt that had been accumulated by his ambitious labors in the cause to which he had devoted his life, he left his children a heritage of poverty. But, though dead, his memory will be had in eternal remembrance. No star of honor blazed upon his breast, and no column standing above his grave records to him a nation's gratitude. But he displays a brighter badge, a more enduring monument; for the muffled music of the paddle-wheel, as it dashes through the waves, and the groaning of the steam-engine, as its fabrics plough the waters of the world, will sound a sublime and everlasting requiem to his memory.
The practical value of navigation by steam was now fully established,
117and measures were soon adopted to introduce the power upon the most important avenues of commerce, both in this country and Europe. Mr. John Stevens of Hoboken, as we have already seen, had adventured upon the sea with a steamboat as early as 1807, in his first voyage from New York to Philadelphia, around the coast; and Fulton himself had planned a vessel that was destined for the Baltic, and that afterwards plied between New York and Newport. The first regular steamship in Great Britain was built by Bell, upon the Clyde, in 1812 that afterwards regularly plied between Glasgow and Liverpool. Five years afterwards the Savannah crossed the Atlantic from this country in twenty-six days, and passed up to St. Petersburg; and during the following year the trappers of Lake Huron were startled with the sight of a steamship, called the Walk-in-the-Water, propelled without sails, and by an unknown power, which in 1818 advanced across Lake Erie to the island of Mackinaw; while at the same time a steam-packet commenced running between the ports of New York, Charleston, Cuba, and New Orleans. Separate lines of steamships were also established between the principal ports of England, and the most important commercial marts upon the great navigable waters of Europe. In 1825, the first voyage was performed from Falmouth to Calcutta by the steamship Enterprise. Steam communication was also soon introduced between the several points of the British islands and the continent, and vessels worked by the engine plied to Ham burgh and Rotterdam, Antwerp and Calais, Havre and Lisbon, Gibraltar, Malta, and Corfu, with as much confidence as if their paddle-wheels were swift racehorses, and the widest waters solid and level plains.
But steam navigation was again the cause of vexatious litigation. During the year 1824, the question respecting the constitutionality of the legislative act of New York, granting to Messrs. Livingston and Fulton the exclusive right of navigating its waters, was again revived. Mr. Thomas Gibbons, who had emigrated from Georgia, and possessed of an ample fortune which he had acquired by the legal profession, having removed to Elizabethtown, in New Jersey, invested a portion of his wealth in the purchase of a ferry between Elizabethtown Point and the port of New York. Confident in the opinion which, as a lawyer, he had formed, that the grant to which allusion has been made was unconstitutional, and backed by analogous decisions that had then recently issued from the bench, as well as by the opinions of able lawyers, he determined, if necessary, to embark in a course of litigation, for the purpose of testing his claim to the right of navigating these waters; and, providing himself with patents and coasting licenses, he immediately proceeded to the New York harbor. At this time, his competitor was Mr. Ogden, to whom reference has been made, who, on the compromise formed by him with the original state grantees, had for a long time run "his ancient and accustomed ferry," from a point near the rival establishment of Mr. Gibbons. This gentleman, conceiving that the act of Mr. Gibbons, in running his steamboat upon his own track, was an infringement of his own right, obtained an injunction against the enterprise of Mr. Gibbons, which, upon appeal to the Court of Errors, was confirmed, on the ground that no collision was presented in that case between the national law and the act of this state. An appeal was accordingly taken by Mr. Gibbons to the Supreme Court of the United States.
On the trial of this case before the Supreme Court, the most
118distinguished legal talents of the country were employed. The powerful logic of Mr. Webster, and the graceful mind of Mr. Wirt, then the Attorney, general of the United States, put forth their whole strength in behalf of the appellant, Mr. Gibbons; and they were met by the solid judgment of Mr. Oakley, and the fervid eloquence of Thomas Addis Emmet, who had before given his best efforts to the cause of his former friend, Fulton. A question of so much importance, involving, as it did, the construction of a vital principle of the constitution, and the navigation of the waters of one of our largest states by so important an agent as that of steam, could not but excite the deepest interest throughout the country; and every point was discussed with all the passionate appeal and cogent reasoning that could be marshaled by the ablest counsel. In enlarging upon the constitution, ality of the laws passed by the legislature, Mr. Emmet remarked: — "There are circumstances connected with those laws, sufficient to make any tribunal require the strongest arguments before it adjudged them invalid. The state of New York, by a patient and forbearing patronage of ten years, to Livingston and Fulton, by the tempting inducement of its proffered reward, and by the subsequent liberality of its contract, has called into existence the noblest and most useful improvement of the present day. Genius had contended with its inherent difficulties for generations before; and if some had nearly reached, or some even touched the goal, they sunk exhausted, and the result of their efforts perished in reality and almost in name. Such would probably have been the end of Fulton's labors; and neither the wealth nor talents of his associate, nor the resources of his own great mind would have saved him from the fate of others, if he had not been sustained for years by the wise and considerate encouragement of the state of New York. She has brought into noonday splendor an invaluable improvement to the intercourse and consequent happiness of man, which, without her aid, would, perhaps, have scarcely dawned upon our grandchildren. She has not only rendered this service to her own citizens, but the benefits of her policy have spread themselves over the whole union. Where can you turn your eyes, and where can you travel, without having your eyes delighted, and some part of the fatigues of your journey relieved, by the presence of a steamboat? The Ohio and Mississippi she has converted into rapid channels for communicating wealth, comfort, and enjoyments, from their mouths to their head waters. And the happy and reflecting inhabitants of the states they wash may well ask themselves, whether, next to the constitutions under which they live, there be a single blessing they enjoy from the art and labor of man, greater than what they have derived from the patronage of the state of New York to Robert Fulton. But the mighty benefits that have resulted from those laws are not circumscribed even by the vast extent of our union; New York may raise her head, she may proudly raise her head, and cast her eyes over the whole civilized world; she there may see its countless waters bearing on their surface countless off springs of her munificence and wisdom."
Mr. Webster, on the other hand, maintained, among other points, that the power of congress to regulate commerce, upon the facts arising on that appeal, was clear and direct; and that, in consequence, the act of the legislature of New York, shutting out a certain species of commerce from
119its waters, usurped the right of regulating commerce, belonging to the general government, and came in direct conflict with the laws of the United States. Judgment was thus obtained for Mr. Gibbons, and the waters of New York were thenceforward freely opened to steam navigation from the different states, which gradually spread itself out, through the principal commercial arteries of the country. It may be mentioned, as a somewhat singular circumstance connected with Mr. Gibbons, that on his death, he devised a certain portion of his estate to be used in running opposing lines of steamboats from the waters of this state, which has since been faithfully employed in that work, to the absolute horror of all regular liners, who involuntarily button their pockets when they hear the name of Mr. Gibbons, or that of his devisee, Mr. Vanderbilt, pronounced.
We have thus sketched the progress of steam navigation from its first introduction into this country, in 1807, and gradually scattering its ships upon our own waters, as well as upon the British seas, which, in 1839, floated eight hundred and forty vessels belonging to England alone. France, although somewhat backward in this enterprise, having introduced successfully the navigation by steam into that empire, as late as the year 1826, increased its steam tonnage to such an amount that, in 1838, it owned one hundred and sixty steamboats, belonging to individuals, besides thirty-eight which were employed by that government.
120burden, and only eight hundred horse power, two hundred greater than the President. Kindled by the enterprises of other nations, the slow moving French, in the cause of internal improvement, began to bestir themselves, and will soon have a line of steam-packets between New York and Havre. Steam had conquered the ocean. It was thenceforward to be a ferry; not "the ancient and accustomed ferry" of the respected Governor Ogden, between Elizabethtown Point and New York, but the modern and accustomed ferry between New York and London!
We now arrive to the consideration of the present condition of steam navigation in the United States. What is this condition? Taking our stand upon the New York dock, and looking abroad upon those ships which border it, like flying monsters of oak that have folded their canvass wings and now lie chained to the wharves, as racehorses to the manger when their race is run, we perceive scattered among the thicket of masts numerous strange craft, without spars or sails, that appear like piratical new-comers, more fanciful in color and more fragile in form than the black and solid vessels that surround them. Resting a little, we notice a column of white vapor ascending from the pipe in the centre; the frame of the hulk appears to groan and struggle as if with ambition or agony; the pendulums suspended from the iron beam in the centre are perceived to swing; the steam is up, and the boat rushes off through Long Island Sound, the Hudson, or to the Jersey shore. Still we linger, and another and a more imposing sight presents itself. Casting our view down the bay, towards the Battery, our attention is arrested by a vapory cloud that moves along the horizon; it nears, and as it grows upon our sight, and passes by the numerous steamboats, and the canvass of vessels of all sizes which play in the harbor or advance to the offing, appearing in size like cockle-shells when contrasted with its enormous bulk, we perceive that it is a steamship, rigged like a schooner, with a hull as black as night; a column of thick smoke boiling up from its low pipe — dark, frowning, begrimed with soot — unearthly, wild, murky, threatening, as if it had just wrestled with a storm upon the Stygian gulf — with little to relieve the Cimmerian blackness but the white foam of its paddle-wheels, and the red flag of England which floats above its stern — moving along with a heart that is a blazing furnace of fire, and with iron muscles that possess the power of six hundred horses. What is this? It is the President, fifteen days from Liverpool, bringing fresh merchandise and news to this republic, and passing up quietly to take her place in the docks. We change the scene, and transport ourselves to one of the blue peaks of the Highlands, and from that eminence look down upon the silver Hudson, as it winds its way through valley and mountain, as far as the eye can reach, like an enchanted stream. What are those vehicles that are constantly passing before us with a cloud of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night issuing from their smoke-pipes, as they glide along their dazzling tracks with the speed of the sunbeam? They are floating hotels, the swiftest in the world, with the banner of the republic waving at their masthead — steamboats, the carrier-pigeons of commerce, on their way from the commercial mart of the nation to the political capital of the state. We advance further, to the borders of those inland seas that water the forests of the northwest, and looking out at midnight, our attention is arrested by numerous fiery bodies which seem as meteors. As they approach, we perceive that they are not like the baleful cornet,
"That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge
In the Arctic sky, and from his horrid hair
Shakes pestilence and war,"
but smoke and sparks streaming from the chimneys of numerous steamers passing and repassing to and from the west, advancing with emigrants and their merchandise, who are about to turn up the rich mould of the prairies, or returning from the west with loads of wheat and flour, the product of that soil, for the markets of New York. Or let us ascend the fruitful Mississippi, and take a long view of its brimming flood, and we perceive its sky blackened here and there by clouds of ascending smoke. They issue from the hundreds of splendid though unsafe high-pressure boats of that river, rushing down from St. Louis or Cincinnati to New Orleans, with machinery, emigrants, and agricultural products, with barrels of sugar, casks of tobacco, or bales of cotton, produced by the plantations upon its shores, and which are to be consumed in this country, or to be shipped abroad to return in harvests of gold. Look at the price current of New Orleans, and mark those long columns that denote the receipts of produce from the interior. Their sentences commence with the words "per steamer." What is the cause of all this? Steam! It has made safe tracks across the ocean, from Liverpool to Boston, from New York to Liverpool and London. It has ploughed its furrows around the coast, from the great commercial mart of the country to Charleston, Cuba, and New Orleans, and has established regular packets upon that track. It has produced rapid and elegant navigation around the republic and through it. The little steamboat that rides upon the village stream like a sea-gull, has connected that stream with the lakes; the large steamships are about to connect the lakes with the ocean. Wherever there is a sufficient depth of water to float its fabrics, there its banners wave. Its vessels crowd the docks of New York and Baltimore, Buffalo and Detroit, Pittsburg and Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, and New Orleans, as well as our other principal ports, both at the east and the west. With the arch fiend in Milton, the traveler can truly say,
It appears by an official report made to congress by the secretary of the treasury, on the 13th day of December, 1838, that from 1808 to 1839 there had been built in the United States thirteen hundred steamboats, if which number eight hundred are now capable of doing valuable service. It is also computed in this document that four hundred were running on the western and southwestern waters, at that date, and that seventy boats plied upon the northwestern lakes. Of these boats some of the most splendid ply from the port of New York, as well as upon the lakes and the Mississippi.
It is somewhat extraordinary, considering the long line of our coast, and its exposed position, that the government has not constructed for its own use steamships of war. But the frontier coast is not alone exposed. We nave, in the heart of our territory, a series of inland seas, washing an extensive portion of our domain, and itself constituting a boundary of the United States, which separates us but a short distance from the colonies of a foreign power, and upon which, should a war break out, (a calamity that we trust may be averted,) the nation that should employ the steam engine would possess a manifest advantage over the one that did not use it.
122The first steamship of war, called the Fulton, was constructed as early as 1815, by Fulton himself, and lost by accident in 1829. One other only was constructed in 1838, a war steamer called the Fulton, that may frequently be seen at anchor in the New York harbor ; besides one named the Missouri, recently launched at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and another that is now upon the stocks in Philadelphia.
Recent measures have been adopted by Congress, in consequence of the increase of steam navigation, and the multiplication of destructive accidents by its agency, to diminish, if not entirely to prevent them, by national legislation. In December, of 1838, the Secretary of the Treasury communicated to congress a letter, accompanying a voluminous document embracing the prominent statistical facts connected with steam navigation and also reports of the accidents by steamboats, and the causes of those accidents that had occurred in different parts of the country. During the last session of congress, Mr. Ruggles, from the committee on commerce submitted a report upon the resolution of the senate, instructing them to inquire whether the law then in existence did not require amendment; and, in accordance therewith, reported a bill for the amendment of the existing law, requiring a particular inspection of the boilers of steamboats, in order to increase the safety of passengers.
The actual condition of steam navigation in this country is a matter of very great interest to the people, inasmuch as it exhibits the rapid progress of this branch of commercial enterprise within the United States. We are enabled, by the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, made in December, 1838, to which we have referred, for an authentic statement of the number of steamboats in the different parts of the United States, so far as returned, and their tonnage, down to the date of the report, which we here subjoin, as this report is the latest that has been made, and serves to give particular information on the matter.
Statement of the number of steamboats, and of the tonnage of the same, in each state, so far as returns have been received, in December; 1838; and statement of the amount of tonnage of steam-vessels in each state, on the 30th of September, 1837, according to the annual statement of the commerce and navigation of the United States, for the year ending September 30, 1837, and of the number built in 1837.
|Returns to December, 1838.||Return, Sept. 30,1837.||Number of steam vessels built in 1837|
|No. of vessels.||Tonnage.||Tonnage.|
|Returns to December, 1838.||Return, Sept. 30, 1837.||Number of steam vessels built in 1837.|
|No. of vessels.||Tonnage.||Tonnage.|
|District of Columbia||5||801||1,477||1|
What, then, is the influence which steam navigation has produced, and is producing upon the country? The position, it is thought, may be safely maintained, that it has effected a more powerful, physical, and moral revolution, upon this republic, than any agency that has been devised, or could be devised, within the present knowledge of man. In order to ascertain this fact, it will be only necessary to look back at the condition of the country before this agent was introduced, and when the vessels worked by sails were the only vehicles of commerce. What would now have been the tent of colonization in this broad empire had we been shut out from its benefits? "We have already seen that, previous to the year 1811, the great navigable waters of the interior were destitute of safe and rapid means of
124intercommunication. The few feeble colonies that had penetrated the for ests of the Muskingum, the Ohio, and the Detroit, were in effect cut off from the rest of the world; and even at a later period, the eloquent geographer of the western valley, Mr. Timothy Flint, could creep up the Mississippi in his boat only by grasping the reeds that bordered its banks. What motive was held out for the cultivation of lands, however fertile, when the producer was deprived of a market? What other agent upon the face of the earth, but steam, could stem the current of that flood, and provide convenient access to the plantations scattered along its winding shores? What motive would have been presented for ages for the colonization of the wilderness around the lakes, were the western waters traversed only by the canoe or pirogue of the Indian and fur-trader, or the straggling shallop, cast about by storms, which occasionally made a solitary voyage to the western ports? Where now would have been Buffalo and Cleveland, Cincinnati, Louisville, and St. Louis, had not steam navigation made them entrepots of trade and commerce? How many emigrants would have left their peaceful hearthstones at the east, and have ventured into an unbroken wilderness, removed from the uncertain and inconvenient means of navigation, by months of travel from the firesides they had left? How many golden wheat-fields in that region would have waved with yellow harvests, were the western husbandman deprived of eastern intercourse and an eastern market? Steam navigation colonized the west! It furnished a motive for settlement and production by the hands of eastern men, because it brought the western territory nearer to the east by nine tenths of the distance. It opened new channels of intercommunication, and new markets for its products. A journey from the western borders of New York to Detroit, requires but a little more than two days. Steam palaces float by scores upon almost every point of the western waters. The western farmer can receive his friend, and ship his wheat and cotton and sugar and corn, by steamers, almost within stones-throw of his granary. Steam is crowding our eastern cities with western flour and western merchants, and lading the western steamboats with eastern emigrants and eastern merchandise. It has advanced the career of national colonization and national production, at least a century!
Whatever of general benefit is derived from commerce will be enhanced by steam navigation, because steam navigation is the most important agent of commerce. Whatever of intelligence is produced by a free and liberal intercourse between foreign or domestic states ; whatever of wealth is furnished by production, and the mutual interchange of agricultural products, between different portions of the same country; whatever of refinement it gives to the taste, or liberality to the mind, or comfort to the physical man, will be augmented by the agency of steam. Does the scholar desire to obtain a valuable work or a newspaper from a distant point? steam will print it, and transport it to his door, wet from the press. Does the gentleman of leisure wish to obtain the latest fashion from the London tailor, of Bond street? steam will not only give him the desired information with the speed of an antelope, but weave the cloth, and send it to him with due despatch. Do the ladies choose to drain the already collapsed pockets of their Cassius-like husbands, by the procuration of gauze veils or shawls from the looms of France? steam will comply with the request, as the Scotchman says, "for a consideration."
As regards the consequences that will be derived from the establishment of ocean navigation by steam, from the different ports of Europe to this country, it is obvious that such communication must open to us new sources of wealth and national enlightenment. Recent indications have manifested themselves on the part of the English government towards us, which clearly show that their policy respecting this republic is undergoing thorough change. They have seen a people sprung from their own soil, subduing a wilderness; at first feeble colonies, but now grown to a mighty empire, proud of our government and confident of our power and second to them only in commercial strength. It is natural for that monarchy, which has heretofore held the world tributary to her mercantile enterprise, to strive to form an amicable intercourse with this nation, that has long furnished the most valuable market for her products, and which one of her own earls, Lord Chatham, once truly declared upon the floor of the British parliament, even before we had established our independence, could not be conquered. For she has tried twice to subdue us, and has failed. The bitter spirit that was formerly manifested towards this country is obviously softened. The two nations have forgotten their old blows. The leading organ of the crown, the London Quarterly Review, contains at present but little biting sarcasm of our social habits and institutions, or those jeers that once asked "Who reads an American book?" but now, in fact, reviews these books, declaring the "History of Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic," a work written by one of our own countrymen, equal to any effort of a similar kind that has appeared within the present age, and even admits into the columns of that journal the papers of regular contributors from this side of the water. The statue of our own Washington adorns the prow of its largest steamship, and the portraits of the successive presidents of our republic grace the walls of its saloon. The heraldic arms of England and America, the eagle and the lion, are intermingled in fraternal union upon the shields of the two nations that are wrought in gilded carving upon its stern, while the stars and stripes of our national flag are advanced at its masthead on its entrance into our port. Are not these facts the harbinger of a more prosperous intercourse between the two nations? Should it not lead to that improved and reciprocal policy on the part of both by which a mutual benefit may be produced — to England by the abolition of the corn laws, and the introduction into that empire of our agricultural products, and to the United States by the free importation into their own country, from her workshops, of a portion of her manufactured goods, without injury to our own manufactures?
It is not proposed here to discuss the influence of the steam war-ships that are gradually introducing themselves among the naval armaments of the prominent maritime powers of Europe, and which must prove the most formidable weapons of coast defence, and ultimately prove heralds of peace, by augmenting the destructive powers of men to an extent, at which humanity grows pale. Nor will the causes of the difference presented between the light and comparatively fragile steamboats of our empire, constructed only to ply upon the smoother waters of this country, and id and black steamships built to encounter the rough storms of the which rush into our ports from the ocean as regularly as clockwork, be particularly described. Our time is to come, to float models of this sort, least, to any ships that navigate the ocean; for in naval architecture we have never been exceeded.
The practical tendencies of the present age are nowhere more prominently exhibited than in the arts that have been applied to commerce by the agency of steam. If the past has been more distinguished in those refined arts that minister to the taste alone, without reference to the useful, and mere artists are too often left to starve, modern times have brought the fine to the aid of the useful arts. If the ancients possessed their statues, and temples, and amphora, and pyramids, it can scarcely be denied that some of their noblest conceptions were derived from the useful arts. Virgil, the bard of Mantua, who flourished before the birth of Christ, it is well known, has in his poem of the Eneid led us into the rock-bound and murky workshop of the one-eyed and fabulous giants called the Cyclops, who, near the Sicilian coast, forged the thunderbolts of Jupiter, and wrought the celestial armory of the gods. The poet shows to us these workmen hammering out the arms that Venus ordered to be wrought by them for Eneas, her warrior son. The entrance into that ancient cave may give us some idea of the blacksmiths of the mythology, and we furnish this admission by the translation of Dryden, which is so beautiful that we scarcely regret that it is so long.
"Sacred to Vulcan's name, an isle there lay,
Between Sicilia's coasts and Lipara,
Raised high on smoking rocks, and deep below,
In hollow caves, the fires of Etna glow.
The Cyclops here their heavy hammers deal;
Loud strokes and hissings of tormented steel
Are heard around; the boiling waters roar,
And smoky flames through fuming tunnels soar.
Hither the father of the fire by night
Through the brown air precipitates his flight;
On their eternal anvils here he found
The brethren beating and the blows go round.
A load of pointless thunder now there lies
Before their hands, to ripen for the skies.
These darts for angry Jove they daily cast,
Consumed on mortals, with prodigious waste.
Three rays of writhen rain, of fire three more,
Of winged southern winds, and cloudy store,
As many parts the dreadful mixture frames,
And fears are added, and avenging flames.
Inferior ministers for Mars repair
His broken axletrees and blunted war,
And send him forth again with furbished arms,
To wake the lazy war with trumpets' loud alarms;
The rest refresh the scaly snakes that fold
The shield of Pallas, and renew their gold.
Full on the crest the Gorgon's head they place,
With eyes that roll in death, and with distorted face.
‘My sons,’ said Vulcan, ‘set your tasks aside;
Your strength and master-skill must now be tried:
Arms for a hero forge; arms that require
Your force, your speed, and all your forming fire.’
He said: they set their former work aside,
And their new toils with eager haste divide.
A flood of molten silver, brass, and gold,
And deadly steel, in the large furnace rolled;
Of this their artful hands a shield prepare,
127Alone sufficient to sustain the war;
Seven orbs within a spacious round they close,
One stirs the fire, and one the bellows blows.
The hissing steel is in the smithy drowned,
The grot with beaten anvils groans around.
By turns their arms advance in equal time,
By turns their hands descend, and hammers chime;
They turn the glowing mass with crooked tongs,
The fiery work proceeds with rustic songs."
Although the science of our own day has not succeeded in forging the bolts of Jove, it has, by the discovery of Franklin, drawn them harmless from the sky. If modern art seeks not to perfect the axletrees of Mars, it has finished other axletrees which run along our railroad tracks with greater speed than those fabulous chariots of antiquity. If it has not embossed upon the shields of our warriors the Roman triumphs of the race of Julian, its patriotism has impressed upon the soil in our public works, and the present political condition of our people, as enduring a record. If it does not work in Cyclopean caverns, and form the celestial armory of the gods, it has molded the wheels and ponderous beams of the steam-engine that have conquered the ocean and the land by the clockwork of machinery. If it does not renew the golden scales of the snake that writhed upon the shield of Pallas, it has decorated the gilded and floating halls of our steamships with rich painting, repeated their carved oak, their embroidered carpets, and their tapestry in the reflected light of the mirror, and adorned them with all the appliances of a palace. It is this application of the fine to the useful arts that constitutes a marked feature of the present age. We have divested Vulcan, the blacksmith of the mythology, who has come down to us as the personified type of mechanical labor, of his most odious features. We have left in his hand his own sledgehammer, and added to it the compass and the broad axe. In the other we have placed the painter's pallet and the chisel of the sculptor. We have enrobed his form with a garment; woven from modern looms, more beautiful than the Tyrian purple, and garlanded his brow with a gorgeous crown that we have gathered from the wheat-sheaf.
If such have been the results of steam navigation in advancing colonization and production, within a period of only thirty-three years, since Fulton first launched his steamboat upon the Hudson, what are the natural and necessary consequences that will be produced upon the country by this agent within the next half-century? Although parties and sects will continue to disagree, steam will so concentrate the opinions of the remotest portions of the republic, and so illuminate the mind, that it will brought into general unison and co-operation. By multiplying the means of national intercourse, it will strengthen the bonds of national amity; for the lines of our steamships, running from state to state, will be like so many chains of adamant to bind them together. It will carry out the doctrines of our glorious constitution. It will be the messenger of the press in distributing its productions far and wide, productions that are even now, in their number, poured down upon the national mind like the paper snow-storm of a theatre. It will multiply the comforts of life in innumerable forms, as they have already been multiplied by this agency to an unmeasured extent. By opening new channels of communication into the interior, it will lay open the vast agricultural resources
128of the country, and transport them to their best markets, both at home and abroad. What man who has occasion to travel any considerable distance from his own door does not now feel its influence upon his own personal comfort? It will work out even greater convenience by its con stantly progressive improvement, so that to journey from the orange groves of Florida to the pine forests of Maine, from the port of New York to the Falls of St. Anthony, will be as easy as to repose in a parlor upon a silken ottoman. It will stretch along the thousand hills and valleys of the west the rejoicing harvests of autumn, and enliven them with myriads of bleating flocks and herds. It will crowd our coasts with a hundred cities, and people our shores with foreign immigrants. It will bring Philadelphia, and other interior ports, to the very shores of the sea and crowd their harbors with commerce. It will give to the republic one national heart, and one national mind. The southern planter, who now reposes in patriarchal simplicity amid his cotton and rice fields, will be kindled with new energy, as the steamboat or steam-car rushes by his door. The trapper of the northwest will have left his canoe, and turn from the pursuit of the hunter to that of an agriculturist, shipping his wheat to the market in a steamship. Who doubts that steamboats may at some future time ply upon our canals, or that the Archimedian screw may supply the place of paddle-wheels, and double their speed?
But steam navigation will not only produce marked improvements upon the physical condition of our interior; it will throw us more directly upon the great highway of the world, for a journey across the ocean has now got to be a matter of but little moment, and will bring us nearer to the interesting associations which for ages have been clustering upon the domain across the water whence we sprang. By casting us into more direct contact with other nations, it will liberalize our minds, and while we survey the political miseries of foreign governments, we shall be induced to cling more strongly to our own constitution, and love our country more. It will increase the throbbing of the national heart, as new and exciting scenes break in upon us, and induce the workings of that national thought, which, like the swelling and heaving of the ocean, conduces to purity and vigor. It will be the handmaid of civilization, the agent of that commerce which ransacks all the treasures of the sea and of the land, and pours them in exhaustless profusion into the broad lap of nations. It will consolidate the union of this vast empire, now the only just governments upon the earth, whose liberty and law, the spontaneous will of the people, invigorate all, as the all-pervading air.
Steam navigation is republican. It opens its ample halls to all, where they may in common discuss the affairs of state, as they move along upon its vapory wings. It multiplies a thousand fold the power of the individual man. It augments his strength to that of the Macedonian phalanx. Steam cares not for bad roads and adverse breezes. Formerly the mariner, before he sailed from the port, deemed it a matter of prudence to watch the heavens and take due heeds of the winds. Now he oils the machinery of his engine, and advances into the sea, bidding defiance to the wildest storms that plough up the billows of the mid-ocean. Before its introduction into this country, three days were the shortest period generally occupied in a journey from New York to Boston, even if the traveler was enabled to reach the latter port within twice that time, by reason of bad roads and head winds. The cost of the journey was seldom less than twelve dollars
129Now the same distance may be made with precision in fourteen hours, and for the petty sum of five dollars. Thus, in a single passage between the two places, more than half of the time and more than half of the money are saved. The conveniences for travel are so rapidly improving, that a party of pleasure to Prairie du Chien or Fond du Lac will in a fewrears be as common as a journey to Saratoga or Niagara is now. Steam navigation will soon have its ships, of peace and of war, prowling around our coasts, and advancing into every inlet and bay where freight can be taken in and a cargo landed. Connected, as it soon must be, with the numerous railroads that intersect the country, it will quicken into greater activity the enterprise of every village within our borders; o that the nation will be, in its impulses and energies, as one great metropolis. But our steamships will not only float upon every shore, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the agent of commerce, the producer, the civilizer, the enlightener, the peace-maker of the nation; they will be instrumental in diffusing abroad the light of our free constitution, that light which is now glowing in mild glory before the eyes of oppressed nations throughout the earth, like the star that beamed above the fields of Judea, the herald of justice and of peace.
From 30 to 168 tons, 78
100 to 200 " 212
200 to 300 " 105
300 to 400 " 24
400 to 500 " 8
500 to 600 " 5
600 to 700 " 4
785 tons 1