Imagens das páginas

May 19, 1836.]

Fortification Bill.


these conflicting views of the subject can be reconciled, I cannot very well understand. With a view, however, of diminishing the amount appropriated by this bill, it is proposed to strike out the fortification for the defence of the Kennebec waters, and that is to be followed by another to strike out the proposed fortification for the Penobscot. My purpose is to resist these propositions as unjust to the State I represent here, unwise in regard to great and important national interests, and as being an utter departure from the constitutional obligation resting upon Congress to provide for the common defence. The geographical position of Maine renders the question of fortifying her maritime frontier one of great interest to the State as well as to the Union. She occupies an intermediate position between the rest of the Union and the possessions of a foreign Power. Her ports and harbors are within a few hours' sail of the ports and harbors of a nation that may be, as she has been, our enemy. The coast of that State, for many leagues at sea, is the most frequented cruising ground in time of war, of any portion of the coast of the United States. It is literally whitened with our commerce. It is there that an enemy’s cruisers would reap their rich harvest of prizes, and do more injury to the commerce of the country than they could do at any other point of the Atlantic coast. Leave that coast undefended, and it would be swept as with the besom of destruction. All the commerce, foreign and coastwise, which is carried on by two hundred and fifty thousand tons of navigation, would be swept from the ocean; our valuable fisheries would be annihilated; and the whole seaboard would be lighted by the conflagration of our ships, our towns and cities, and every thing accessible to an incendiary foe. If the harbors on the coast of Maine should not be fortified and occupied by us, they will, in time of war, be occupied by the enemy. If they shall not be made places of refuge and protection, they will be places of exposure and destruction. There are a number of important positions on that coast which would be immediately seized upon by an enemy, and made places of rendezvous for his cruisers, privateers, and ships of war; whence they could sally out to intercept our commerce, and “sink, burn, and destroy;” and where they could refit and levy contributions of supplies upon the defenceless inhabitants. Sir, this does not rest upon conjecture. It is matter of history. With us, it has been matter of experience. In the last war with Fngland, she at once perceived the advantages of occupying a position on the coast of Maine. She early fitted out an expedition, which seized upon Castine, a position on the Penobscot waters, where the enemy fortified himself. From that position he was enabled to commit havoc and devastation upon our commerce. The number of merchant vessels which that position enabled him to capture, I have no means of estimating. It is for the protection of these waters, the waters of the Penobscot bay and river, that one of the fortifications is designed. There are a number of commercial towns on the bay, whose shipping would, in times of peril, seek refuge in the river, above the contemplated fortification. Among them is Belfast, the proposed Atlantic termination of the Belfast and Quebec railroad. Above the position to be fortified are several others, and at the head of navigation is the city of Bangor, which ships annually from 300 to 400 million feet of lumber. This city has just sprung into existence. Six years ago its population was only 2,868; now, it is 9,000. Its increase in wealth and enterprise exceeds even that of its population. It bids fair to be one of the most considerable cities of the North. Kennebec river, which is proposed to be left defence

less, is one of the largest in New England. It is navigable for large ships of war to Bath, and for smaller vessels to Hallowell and Augusta. Bath is a highly commercial town. More shipping is built in the district of Bath than in any other in the State, and a quarter more than is built in all the southern States put together. Above Bath, on the river, there are several thriving and prosperous towns. At the head of navigation is the capital of the State, and at that place is situated the arsenal of the United States. Yes, Mr. President, the United States have there property in buildings and the materiel of war to a large amount. Would you leave that undefended? Would you leave not only the valuable commerce of that river and adjacent ports, and the thriving towns that adorn its banks, but also your own arsenal, exposed and unprotected? Did you erect your buildings there, but for the accommodation of your enemy in time of war? Was it to supply him with arms and munitions of war that you exposed them on an unfortified river in (as it may be) his own neighborhood, where he could have ready access to them? Sir, to leave the mouth of that river unfortified, would be a palpable invitation to an enemy to come and help himself. He would so regard it, and accept the invitation, His very first expedition would be to the capital of the State. Without an hour's notice or warming, favored by a fair breeze, he would run up the river, set fire to the shipping at Bath, demolish that and the other towns above it, seize upon the arsenal, turn its guns upon our capital, and, having supplied himself with whatever he might stand in need of from the arsenal, return musing upon the marvellous wisdom of a nation that, with a bloated Treasury, with overslowing coffers, could leave such a position unfortified. But, is there nothing else to be protected by fortifying that coast? Are there no other interests to be regarded? Sir, there are there more than half a million of your population, an industrious, moral, enlightened, enterprising, patriotic people, who are neither insensible to what they owe to the national Government, nor ignorant of what the national Government, under the constitution, owes to them. The State possesses a great amount of commercial and agricultural wealth, and manufacturing enterprise is spreading rapidly over the State. I find, by a report made to Congress in 1832, by the Secretary of State, founded on very partial and incomplete returns and estimates, that the manufactures at that time amounted to upwards of seven millions of dollars. They may be safely estimated at the present time at ten millions. Add to this the value of lumber cut and sawed annually, estimated at ten millions, and the market value of lime manufactured in that State, estimated at one million, and we make an aggregate of twenty-one millions, independent of its agricultural products. The article of wool alone, grown in that State in 1832, was estimated, from the returns, at one million six hundred and forty thousand dollars. It must now exceed two millions. There are no means of estimating the amount of other agricultural products. But I have already shown enough to entitle that “peninsular State,” as the Senator calls it, to some little consideration. Not one of the Atlantic States possesses so great natural resources, nor one which is making more rapid progress in wealth and population. The Senator, in his speech preliminary to the motion under consideration, took occasion to speak of the great amount of exports from the southern States, and adverted to the small amount of exports from Maine. The inference was, that more should be appropriated for the defence of the southern, and less for the northern frontier. The returns show only the exports to foreign countries. There are no returns which show the amount of our coastwise commerce. We must arrive at SENATE.]

that by inference and estimation. In 1833, the exports of South Carolina amounted to upwards of eleven millions of dollars. That, with a small amount of exports coastwise, deducting what was retained for home consumption, may be regarded as the product of the labor of the producing class of the population of that State. Some allowance is to be made for what was grown beyond the limits of that State. Maine has a population somewhat less than South Carolina, but it is an active, industrious population of freemen. It does not there take one half to keep the other half employed. The |...". of industry and enterprise in Maine cannot be ess than that of South Carolina. I have no doubt it is greater. But the exports from Maine to foreign countries, for 1833, were short of a million of dollars. What, then, became of the residue of their products, making the same deduction for home consumption? The answer is, it was shipped coastwise. The difference, then, between the commerce of Maine, and that of South Carolina, is this: the latter State shows a greater amount of exports to foreign markets, and the former a greater amount to ports in the United States. They ship more to foreign countries, we ship more coastwise. Now, I would ask, which is most entitled to the fostering care and protection of the Government—the commerce carried on by a State with a foreign nation, or the commerce of the States with one another? How would it be in time of war? which is the true question, in reference to our protective policy. Would a cargo of flour shipped from Alexandria or Petersburg be more entitled to protection when destined for Europe, than when shipped to Portland, Bath, or Bangor? Would you regard as more important the safety of a cargo of cotton, when shipped from Charleston to supply the manufactories of Europe, than when shipped for Boston or Portsmouth for the use of the factories at Lowell or Dover? The answer must be, two to one in favor of domestic.commerce which finds a market for the products of one State and a resource of supplies for another; and Congress is under the same constitutional obligation to protect the commerce carried on between the States, as it is to protect foreign commerce. * Sir, there are other considerations to which I ask the attention of Senators from the South and Southwest. It is not difficult to show that the whole South and Southwest are directly interested in the fortifying the northern frontier, especially the frontier of Maine; and I cannot but marvel that a motion which goes to defeat an appropriation for that purpose should come from the South. The great amount of exports from the southern States has been adverted to. The following is an abstract of the value of exports of domestic produce to foreign countries, for the year 1833. It is made up from the latest returns that have been published:

In Am. In foreign
States. vessels. . Total.

Louisiana, - -16,838,562 6,921,045'23,759,607
Alabama, - - 4,141,786 1,522,261 5,664,047
Georgia, - - 5, 166,844, 2,400,483 7,567,327
South Carolina, - 7,255,281 3,864,284.11,119,565
Total of four States, -33,402,47314,708,07348,110,546
Virginia, - - 4,740,003 719,237 5,459,240
North Carolina, - 360,012 111,394 471,406
Mississippi, - - none none none
Florida, - - 175,218 14,967. 190,185
Total of the southern —

States, - -38,677,70615,553,67154,231,377 United States, -61,286, 11919,738,043|81,024,162

[blocks in formation]

Here we see that the whole amount of the exports of the United States was eighty-one millions; of which fortyeight millions were from the four States of Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina alone. To this must be added a large amount of coastwise exports. Now, let me inquire of southern Senators by what means this vast amount is transported to their foreign and domestic markets? 1)o you ship it in your own vessels, or in foreign vessels? To a very great extent, you do not.

Let us see how this is. The following is an abstract of the tonnage built, the tonnage owned, and the permanent registered tonnage in 1833.

Tonnage | Tönnage Registered States. built. owned. tonnage, permanent.

Louisiana, - - 326 60,903 13,100 Alabama, - - £3. 349 1,392 Georgia, - - 547 9,994 2,467 South Carolina, - 649. 14,058 3,246 Total of four States, , 1,587 92,495 20,215 Virginia, - - 3,326. 50,407 6,834 North Carolina, - 3,012. 38,235 6,603 Mississippi, - 30 1,003 none Florida, - - 46 3,787 766 Total of the southern!----|---—

States, - - 8,002 185,927 34,418 Total of the United

States, - - 161,626, 1,606,149 641,091 Maine, - - 51,687] 225,329 70,499 Portland, - - 7,860 49,012 Kennebec, - - 11,214 42,772 Penobscot, - - 10,587 33.43

By this abstract it appears that the whole amount of shipping owned in the four States mentioned, is 92,495 tons: 40,225 of the 60,903 owned in Louisiana, is steamboat tonnage employed on the rivers, leaving 52,259 employed in foreign and coastwise commerce. The permanent registered tonnage is that which is engaged in foreign commerce, with but few exceptions. Of that, these four States have but 20,215 tons, while the whole amount of American tonnage employed in foreign commerce is 641,091. Adopting that proportion, South Carolina should have about 70,000 tons instead of 3,000, having upwards of seven millions of exports in American vessels. The four States mentioned, with more than half of all the exports of domestic produce, own less than a thirty-fourth part of all the American tonnage employed.

There is, then, this very great deficiency of vessels at the South; and to supply that deficiency, she is necessarily indebted to those States which have an excess above their exportations; the principal of which is Maine, having over 70,000 tons of shipping engaged in foreign commerce, with less than a million of exports. Yes, Mr. President, Maine, hitherto overlooked, forgotten, and disregarded in every thing relating to the defence of her seaboard, owns nearly 40,000 tons more shipping than all the southern Atlantic and Gulf States south of the Potomac. Nay, I may say she has more spacious harbors, more deep and convenient waters, more ports of entry and delivery, more facilities for commercial and naval operations, than all of the southern States together, south of the Chesapeake. Sir, I do not speak extravagantly. The facts, on examination, will be found to bear me out.

But, sir, I will go further, and inquire where the South obtains the vessels she owns. If I am not much mistaken, it will appear that she is indebted to the North for them, and, to a great extent, to Maine herself. By adverting to May 19, 1836.]

Fortification Bill.


the abstract, I find that the four States named built in 1833 but 1,587 tons, while Maine built 51,687. The district of Bath alone, one of the twelve districts into which that State is divided, builds a third more than all the southern States together, from Virginia to Louisiana, inclusive. That one district, for the defence of which not a dollar has been expended on any permanent fortification, owns three times the amount of tonnage that is owned by the whole State of South Carolina, whose ports have been fortified at an expense of little short of a million of dollars. The same remark may be made in reference to Portland and the Penobscot. Our ships, many of which are among the very best freighting vessels in the world, navigated by intelligent and experienced shipmasters, and manned by hardy seamen, are found in all the southern ports, New Orleans, Mobile, Savannah, Charleston, &c., competing for freights and taking their produce off their hands at the lowest prices of transportation. Now, sir, leave the maritime frontier of Maine without Jesences, leave her harbors exposed, give up that “peninsular State” to the enemy, and a declaration of war would put an absolute stop to ship-building. Her five or six hundred shipyards would be desolate; and the first six months after the commencement of hostilities would see our shipping destroyed and its owners ruined. The sffect such a state of things would produce on southern interests dependent on the ship-building and ship-owning States, cannot be accurately estimated. The price of freights would be greatly increased. Such a diminution of the number of freighting vessels would destroy all competition for freights, and southern producers would be compelled to pay whatever northern carriers should ckoose to demand. And thus is the South directly interested in the defence of our harbors in Maine, and in the protection and preservation of our shipping. We do not build ships for ourselves alone; we build them also for the South. The shipyards of the South are in Maine. She is the great ship-building State of the Union. Throughout the whole South and Southwest, every producer of a bag of cotton, a hogshead of sugar, or any other article of export, has a direct interest in this matter; for they will feel the effect of the increased price of freights in the diminution of the home value of their products. Mr. President, there is one other consideration to which I cannot forbear calling the attention of the Senate, involving a matter of great national interest. I have reference to the long pending and still unsettled controversy between this Government and that of Great Britain, relative to the disputed territory on our northcastern border. It is a large and valuable portion of the State of Maine, claimed, and to some extent occupied, by Great Britain; but which is clearly our rightful domain, and should be held within our sovereignty and jurisdiction. The Senator from Massachusetts [Mr. Davis] laid before the Senate, some time since, resolutions emanating from the Legislature of that State, which relate to this controversy and to the territory in question. It was at a time when I was absent from the Senate a few days from indisposition. I have since seen a published report of his remarks on that occasion, in which I find an extract published, as having been read to the Senate from the report of a committee sent by that State, some months since, to explore and examine into the condition of the country in dispute between the two Governments. A part of that extract is as follows: “The committee have thus briefly noticed the outline presented in its passage across this important portion of our domain. When it shall be explored more fully, it will be found to contain an inexhaustible treasure, in its deep forests, its rivers, and its soil. The condition of

all that portion now held in the custody of England, presents matter for serious and anxious reflection. Are we humbled by the lofty pretensions of a Power from whom we have twice conquered an honorable peace? or from what cause is it that our pride seems subdued, while our interests are sacrificed? No American, and especially no man of New England, can traverse this region, and shut out from his mind the conviction that wrongs have been perpetrated under the cover of diplomacy, that dare not be defended in the open field. This land, which we claim belongs to us of right, has, for some cause, or to answer some purposes, been most ignominiously surrendered to the custody of a foreign Power. It does not fail to impress one strangely, that, after a possession of more than a quarter of a century—after the full exercise of sovereignty, we should quietly permit that possession and that sovereignty to pass into the hands of a foreign Power, and thus be held, until that Power shall find leisure to establish over it a permanent legal title. . But your committee will not dwell upon a topic so fruitful of unpleasant emotions; they were suf. ficiently harassed by them, while traversing this region; they could not look abroad without witnessing the depredations and waste everywhere committed; they could not fail to appreciate, at its just value, the guardianship exercised over it. They were not blind to the trespasses once suppressed by our own agents, but now renewed, upon the timber and the lands, and that seemed to be pursued with an eagerness and an ingenuity that scorned resistance or defied detection. They did not complain, for there was no power to redress. Nor do the committee now arraign the conduct of the British agent; he is powerless on this subject. The great mass of the population consider the lands as waste; and each plunders and appropriates as his inclination or interest leads him. There have been some devices thought expedient as a cover for some of the grosser acts under the eye of the authorities. “Location certificates' are granted by the Government of New Brunswick to old soldiers; these are made to cover one tract, until the timber is stripped, and then it is changed to another—a sort of roving commission, protecting the aggressor, when the power to punish needs but a slight apology to quiet it. Large portions of this region held in trust, thus formally, have recently been claimed as belonging to Canada; thus taking it out of the jurisdiction of the trustee, the Governor of New Brunswick, and freeing it srom all rule, or law, or agency.” I have read this extract for two purposes. One is, to have the opportunity of reminding the Senator, who has made it a part of his speech, that, whatever errors of diplomacy have been committed in respect to that matter, were committed by those for whose acts the present administration cannot be held responsible. Whatever wrongs have been perpetrated under the cover, of diplomacy, that cannot be defended in the open field, have grown out of measures which had not the consent of Maine, and which were as much against her wishes and interest as they are against the principles and policy of the present Executive Department of the Government. I need not be more explicit. That Senator was, I think, a member of the other House during a period now gone by, where he was a distinguished and able supporter of the then existing administration, in most of its measures, if not of its diplomacy. There is another honorable Senator on this floor, who has doubtless some saint recollections of interesting circumstances that have taken place in respect to this question, with which his official duties, always ably Porlormed, must have made him acquainted. . W hat reference the Massachusetts committee had to the “diplomacy” at Ghent, in which that Senator took a distinguished part; or what reference was intended to what took place in SENATE.]

respect to this matter during his premiership, under a late administration, the committee itself can best tell. But, sir, it is no purpose of mine, in making these remarks, to lay blame at the door of any one. I am particularly desirous in this discussion of avoiding every topic not legitimately connected with the subject under consideration. If the Massachusetts committee, or the Senator, had been a little more explicit in the allusion to what is called an “ignominious surrender of territory, for some cause, or to answer some purposes,” and fixed the imputation where it belongs, if it belongs anywhere, I should have spared myself these remarks. I have read the extract for one other purpose, more apposite to the question under consideration. It was to show that Maine was not alone in considering this question of boundary, as it is called--more properly a question of title and territory—as one which, in its present aspect, is justly calculated to produce “serious and anxious reflection.” He alone, whose prophecy is knowledge, and who controls the destinies of nations, can tell in what that controversy will end. The country in dispute embraces about one-third of the State. It is equal in extent to the two States of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It is valuable for its deep forests of timber, as well as for its soil, and the numerous streams which intersect it. It is capable of sustaining a million of inhabitants. Our title to it is as clear as language can make it. And the British Government urge their claim to it with an earnestness and pertinacity equal to the clearness of our title. Shall it be submissively yielded to her? Sir, it would be a disgraceful surrender of a clear and manifest right. How, them, is the matter to be settled? Negotiation has been tried thus far in vain. There is little prospect of its being more successful in future. And how soon the time will come when the honor and rights of the nation shall imperiously require a resort to measures of a more determinate and decisive character; I will not predict. I have reason to believe that this controversy is regarded by the Executive with anxiety and concern, from a sincere desire to preserve the friendly relations between the two nations; at the same time, resolved not to compromit the just rights of Maine, and of the Union, to the tract of country in question. Now, sir, to what extent future negotiations would be influenced by placing the maritime frontier of that State in a condition of security, is a question worthy of consideration. Great Britain considers the possession of this territory of great importance, as well from its intrinsic value as from its location. A large portion of it, as the Senator from Massachusetts remarked, is covered with a thick growth of white pine. Much of that valuable timber, and of the timber spruce, nearly as valuable—for some purposes more so—still remains within the undisputed boundaries of the State. But that is rapidly disappearing before the axe of the lumberman. Many have estimated that on the Penobscot waters alone, between 300 and 400 millions of feet of lumber are cut and saw. ed annually. Proportionate quantities are cut on several other of the rivers in Maine; and the business is increasing rapidly, and the prices and value still more rapidly, from the increasing demand of the country. Does not Great Britain perceive that the time will soon come when that forest of timber, which she is endeavoring to appropriate to her own use, will be the only resource left of that valuable species of lumber, for all New England, New York, and the Middle States, to a considera. ble extent, and for the South to some extent also? 1 speak of this peculiar and valuable kind of lumber, which is found in no great quantity anywhere else in the United States, readily accessible from the ocean. I say, sir, does not Great Britain perceive this, and is not her anxiety to hold that territory greatly increased by a desire

[blocks in formation]

to monopolize so valuable an article of commerce? And I ask, sir, will she recede from the position she has assumed in relation to it, so long as she sees the whole maritime frontier of Maine, with all her shipping, her commerce, her towns and cities, naked and exposed? Will she feel any apprehension from us, while we ourselves are so defenceless? Will she fear to receive, while she can so readily give blows? Let me tell you, sir, that controversy can never be settled in a manner consistent with our honor and our rights, until the maritime frontier of Maine shall be put in a state of security. Its present defenceless and exposed condition is an encouragement—an invitation to Great Britain to hold out in her preposterous claim. But I will not detain the Senate in presenting this matter in the variety of aspects in which it exhibits itself to my mind. If you would secure that important part of our domain by peaceable measures, place the State in such a condition that Great Britain shall not find in our very defencelessness a lure to a war of conquest and acquisition. Let her at least not see us in such a condition, that we may be supposed unwilling to hazard a vindication of our rights. With the panoply of defence thrown over us, we might reasonably hope that a negotiation so long protracted would at last terminate in the successful establishment of our just territorial and jurisdictional limits. We might hope to avoid a war, which otherwise may sooner or later be inevitable. Let no man attempt to reconcile himself to the idea of abandoning that country on the ground of its trifling value. I will not stop to estimate its value as matter of property. It is sufficient that it is a portion of the United States--a large part of one of the sovereign States of his Union; and to surrender our right to it on the extraordinary claim and demand of Great Britain, would be an ignominious act of national degradation, as much so as would be the surrender of the District of Columbia. Twenty years ago, instead of claiming title in herself, she was seeking to to acquire from us a right of way—a communication through this territory from New Brunswick to Quebec. After diplomacy had put her spectacles on, after the treaty of Ghent, she began to view the matter in a different light; and now, instead of negotiating for a right of way she is claiming full right and title in herself. and even denying us a right of way to the St. John's, and upon its waters to the ocean! - --some of the consequences resulting from the condition in which that country is now placed, are the subjection of American citizens to the vexatious dominion of a foreign Power, the destruction and waste of timber, delaying the settlement and agricultural improvement of a sertile portion of our territory, and imposing restraints upon the extension of public and private enterprise. Under these circumstances, the obligation and the remedy are with this Government. What can Maine do? Your constitution, to which no State is more faithful, tells her she has no right to make war. She can enter into no negotiation, make no treaty, levy no impost duties. She has yielded up most of the means and the power of vindicating her rights against foreign nations, in exchange for the national guaranty of protection; And you have admonished her that she should be careful not to embroil the two countries in war by her imprudence. She has been told that negotiations of some sort were going on, that diplomacy was at work, and that her rights should be secured to her; that you had difficulties with other Powers to settle, and that it was not politic or prudent to engage in too many controversies at the same time. Well, sir, all this we thought very reasonable; and we have waited till all other controversies have been settled. We have remained quiet, and, from a sincere desire to avoid every act which should tend to disturb the friendly relations between the two May 19, 1836.)

Fortification Bill.


countries, we have afforded many practical examples of the virtue of forbearance, while our neighbors have advanced and moved back our landmarks. But, sir, here we stop. This matter demands the serious attention of this Government. If neglected now, it may, at no distant day, involve a question of the most serious import. I know that whatever can be done to secure our rights by negotiation, will be done. All peaceable measures will be first tried. All the influence of a just, temperate, and wise policy, will be brought in aid of a firm and resolute assertion of the rights and honor of the nation. But without a preparation for enforcing and vindicating them, I have too much reason to apprehend that negotiation will be fruitless. That argument with nations is often most convincing, which has something besides diplomatic logic to support it. I make no unavailing complaints about the past. I take the question as I find it. And how is that? Why, sir, a considerable portion of one of the sovereign States of this Union is subjected to the dominion of a foreign Power; and all the other States, save one, seem to look quietly on, wholly unconcerned so long as their territory remains undisturbed! Is it not so? Hitherto, the constitution has afforded us no practical guaranty either for the defence of our seaboard or the integrity of our territory. If such is to be its practical exposition in future, I would be quite willing to exchange it for the old articles of confederation, as loosely and feebly as they held the States of this Union together. Sir, Maine is not disposed to claim more than justly be. longs to her, nor to assume any attitude unbecoming the dignity of political sovereignty. She has not been, she will not be, unreasonable in her claims. She asks only those rights which the national compact secures to her in common with all the other States. In urging them with energy and firmness, she will not lose sight of what is due to her own character, nor what is due to the character of this Government. She has the highest confidence that nothing will be lest undone to secure her rights, which the constitution has placed in the power of the executive department of the Government to do. She now asks that Congress will place her on an equal footing with the other States, in respect to frontier defences, having regard to her local position and the high interests she has at stake. Instead of the amount appropriated by the bill for the defences of Maine being greater than her condition requires, in my apprehension it falls far short of it. But three positions are provided for. In reference to the important considerations to which I have adverted, I cannot but believe that a prudent forecast would lead to the immediate commencement of fortifications at other points for which no appropriations are made. If we should be so unfortunate as to be engaged in another war with England, which no State has so much reason to deprecate as Maine, her borders and her coast would be the first, if not the principal, scene of conflict. Provide her, then, with armor. She is young, but robust and athletic. Give her but her helmet and shield, and in peace or war she will do you no dishonor. The mouth of every, river should be guarded. Every town on our seaboard, of sufficient importance to excite the cupidity of an enemy, should be provided with some suitable work of defence. I do not ask great and extravagant expenditures. We want no such expensive fortressesas the South “sought up” for her defence. We want none covering sixty or seventy acres. We want no Monroe fortresses; no Rip Rap defences. We ask only such as are suited to the positions they may occupy; suited to the objects to be defended, to the inducements an enemy would have to make an attack. The repulsive, should always be proportioned to the attractive power.

The position at the mouth of the St. Croix is becoming one of great importance. Calais, situated at the head of navigation, some thirty miles above Eastport, which in 1830 contained but one thousand six hundred and eighty-six inhabitants, is now estimated to contain upwards of four thousand. The commerce carried on from those waters is very considerable, and is rapidly increasing. The returns for 1834 show that the foreign vessels which entered and cleared at Eastport, in that year, amounted to nearly ninety-eight thousand tons. This was nearly equal to the cntry, and exceeded the clearances of foreign vessels, at New York; and very far exceeded those of any other commercial place in the Union. It was greatly disproportioned, however, to the clearances of American vessels. The harbor of St. Andrew's, where an enemy's fleet could rendezvous, lies on the opposite side of these waters, and is within striking distance of Eastport and other places on the river. This important and exposed position has received much less consideration than it is entitled to; and I hope the attention of the proper department will be called to it, and that all necessary examination and surveys, preparatory to the construction of suitable works of defence, may be speedily made.

It appears to be understood, that, because the positions at the Kennebec and Penobscot rivers are named in the third class in the classification made by the board of engineers in their report of 1821, they are therefore to be considered third rate positions in point of importance. Whatever was the object of so classing them in 1821, it ought not to be overlooked that, by the able report of the same board in 1826, those positions are placed in the scCond class; and by a recent report of the board just communicated to the Senate, they are embraced in the first class. Those formerly considered as entitled to the earliest attention, have already been provided with works of defence. And those which, in 1826, were regarded in the second class, now become the first class of positions remaining to be fortified. The work has been going on. The systein of public defences has been adopted and pursued, sometimes with more, and sometimes with less, energy and zeal. The South has had the benefit of appropriations for the fortification of the Mississippi, Mobile bay, Pensacola, Savannah, Charleston, and other places. So far as regards that section of the Union, the system has been carried into execution, and the vote of the North has never been wanting on any question of appropriation for that purpose. But when, in her turn, the North claims her share in this matter, the South—no, sir, not the whole South, I trust, but South Carolina--rises up against it. She “fought it up” for her benefit, and now would fight it down for--nobody’s benefit. South Carolina, with her one or two ports of entry, has received the benefit of appropriations for this purpose to the amount of nearly a million of dollars. Maine, with her twelve ports of entry and forty ports of discharge and delivery, has not had a single dollar expended under the new system on any permanent work of defence. The State of South Carolina, which builds but 640 tons of shipping, and owns but 14,000 tons, has, in regard to the defence of her one or two harbors, received the first and earliest attention of the Government; while Maine, which builds more than 50,000 tons of shipping, and owns 225,000, has been postponed and passed over! and this, too, by a Government acting under a constitution which imposes upon it the obligation of providing for the common defence of the whole country, and the general welfare and protection of all its parts.

Mr. President, I have intended nothing invidicus in the reference I have felt myself called upon to make to the comparative claims of the South and the North. ...I regret that occasion has been given to present the dit

« AnteriorContinuar »