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Without entering upon a discussion of the comparative merits of a Canal, Railroad, or McAdamized road; without stopping to inqure further, whether a canal would be “ of any utility to the public,” it seems to be the duty of the committee and of the Legislature, to inquire into the actual condition of the canal, and the canal fund; to ascertain wherein former Legislatures have erred, and, if possible, to 'correst these errors; to ascertain whether the work can and will be completed, or whether the interests of the Territory and of the settlers along the route of the canal require its total abandonment.
From the several reports submitted to the Legislature, at its present session, by the canal company, the Territorial engineer, and the board of canal commissioners, it appears that the present condition and prospects of the canal “ afford little cause for congratulation.” The hopes entertained by its friends at the last session of the Legislature have not been realized; and it seems to be admitted on all hands, that the work cannot be successfully prosecuted under the present system. If any further attempts are to be made to complete the work, it must be either by the Territory or by the canal company. In their report to the Legislature, two propositions have been submitted by the canal company.
ist. That the Territory take the control of the work, and let it be conducted entirely by Territorial officers, refunding to the canal company the amount by them expended, agreeably to the terms of the charter, and pledge the faith of the Territory for the completion of the canal, within the time limited by the charter of the company.
The committee cannot recommend to the Legislature the acceptance of this proposition, for the reason that it will necessarily involve the Territory in a debt, and impose upon it an obligation which it cannot discharge. The example of other States, and their errors, should cause Wisconsin to be ever watchful. The Territory has no other means of prosecuting the work than the appropriation of land along the route of the canal. From this source, under the most favorable circumstances, not more than $350,000 can be realized, if sold within the period limited by the charter of the company. To complete the work an additional sum of at least the same amount will be required. This sum the Territory cannot obtain upon the pledge of its faith alone.
The second proposition of the canal company is, “That the Territory authorize the company to take charge and dispose of the lands granted to the canal, and apply the proceeds to the construction of the canal, the company giving suitable security for the faithful application of the funds derived from that source, and held accountable to the Legislature annually, at every regular session, and all their transactions to be subject at all times to investigation in detail, by any authorized committee of the Legislature, or by any other officers duly authorized to make such investigation by the Legislature.
By this proposition it will be seen that the company are not willing to impose upon themselves the same conditions, which by the first proposition they require of the Territory. By the first proposition they require that the Territory bind itself to complete the work within the time limited by their charter, but they do not propose to bind themselves to perform it within the same time. They only propose giving security for the faithful application of the proceeds of the sale of the lands. But they do not propose advancing any thing on their part, neither is it to be supposed that, considering the doubt, or rather the certainty of the canal not being completed within the prescribed period, that they would advance a dollar, unless some other means were applied by the Territory, besides the proceeds of the sale of the canal lands. By the terms of the law making this appropriation, the Territory is held responsible to the General Government for the proceeds of the sale of these lands, unless the canal is completed within the time limited by the charter of the company. In the absence of any security that the canal will be so completed, the committee cannot recommend the acceptance of this proposition.
Shall then nothing be done by the Legislature for the benefit of the settlers, who, under the reasonable expectation that the canal would be speedily completed, have been induced to purchase from the Territory a portion of its lands at an enhanced price? One hundred and eight thousand dollars worth of this land has been sold, and ten per centum on this amount paid, and it is believed that the remainder would be cheerfully paid, could the purchasers be satisfied that the canal could be completed within a reasonable time. But to abandon , the work, and at the same time require of the settlers payment, at
double the ordinary price for their lands, would be unjust and oppressive in the extreme. And to suppose that they would be satisfied to pay this enhanced price, merely for the construction of a McAdamized road or even a rail road is unreasonable.
It will be seen then, that in whatever light this subject is viewed --whatever plan is proposed —difficulties apparently insurmountable, present themselves. To advance or to retreat appears alike impossible. If we say the canal must be completed, we inevitably involve the Territory in a debt which it is conceded by all ought to be avoided. If we say it shall be abandoned, or the appropriation by Congrəss diverted, and applied to some other use, great injustice will be done to a large number of our citizens. The difficulty is apparent -it should be our study to devise the best means of extricating ourselves from it. Had no portion of the lands appropriated for this purpose, been sold by the Territory, this difficulty would be greatly diminished. But the Territory has disposed of 43,000 acres, at the price of two dollars and fifty cents per acre, and given a title therefor. Congress appropriated these lands to the Territory as a trustee, under the express condition that the proceeds were to be applied to the construction of the canal. The Territory has accepted the trust, and sold a considerable portion for this purpose. The purchasers bought with the understanding, and under the express condition that the purchase money should be faithfully applied to this purpose and no other. The contract is mutually binding, and neither party can release itself without the consent of the other. Congress cannot take back the land, without the consent of all the other parties interested. The Territory cannot refuse to apply the proceeds of the sale thereof to the object specified in the law making appropriations unless by the consent of the purchasers and Congress. The former your committee believe has been obtained—they feel warranted from the expressions of opinions made in various ways to the Legislature, by the settlers on these lands, in the assertion that, being convinced that the canal cannot soon, if ever be completed, they are willing and even anxious that the General Government should take back the misnamed gift-or at least that the price
should be reduced to that of other public lands in the Territory.
Let then the bonds which have been issued be withdrawn—so far as the Territory is concerned, let there be a suspension of operations. Let the number and compensation of the canal officers be reduced to the number and amount which necessity alone will require, and let payment for land be suspended or postponed; and to effect a reduction of the price of the canal lands by Congress, to the ordinary minimum price of the public lands, your committee would recommend the adoption of the accompanying memorial.
And as the principal matters heretofore referred to your committee in relation to the Milwaukee and Rock River Canal, have since been referred to the committee on Territorial Affairs, your committee ask to be discharged from the further consideration of the subjects referred to them.
Respectfully submitted, LUCIUS I. BARBER, CA'n. Appended to which was memorial No. 2, entitled,
“ Memorial to Congress concerning the canal lands in the Territory of Wisconsin.”
Which memorial was read the first and second times.
Mr. Ellis moved that the report do lie on the table to enable him to offer a resolution; which was disagreed to.
The motion of Mr. Ray was then agreed to.
Mr. Ogden moved that the speaker fill the vacancies in the several committees, occasioned by vacating the seat of Alfred Brunson.
The speaker then appointed Mr. La Chappellc to fill the said vacancies.
Mr. Jenkins gave notice that on to-morrow or some future day, he would ask leave to introduce a bill to incorporate the American University.
On motion of Mr. Ellis, Resolved, That His Excellency the Governor, be requested to furnish this House with any information in his possession, touching the manner, and extent of the issuing of bonds and negotiation of the same, done under color of the several acts to provide for the construction of the Milwaukee and Rock River Canal.
Mr. Ellis offered the following resolution:
Resolved, That this House dissent from so much of the report of the committee on Internal Improvements, this day submitted by the chairman, as goes to express the opinion that all hope of future appropriation from the General Government for works of internal improvement, is to be given up
Mr. Dewey moved that the said resolution do lie on the table; which was determined in the affirmative, ayes 15, noes 9.
And the ayes and noes having been called for,
Messrs. Bond, Brown, Darling, Dewey, Giddings, Gray, Hackett, La Chappelle, Mills, Ogden, Ray, Rockwell, Shepard, Tripp, and Whiton, 15.
Those who voted in the negative, are, Messrs. Barber, Eatchelder, Brazelton, Eastman, Ellis, Jenkins, Parkison, Sutherland, and Newland, speaker.
The speaker announced the following for third reading:
No. 20, “A bill to authorize Oliver C. Hubbard to build a dam on the Manitouwoc river.”
Which was read the third time, passed, and the title thereof agreed to.
Ordered, That the Council be requested to concur therein.
The undermentioned bills from the Council were severally read the first and second times,
No. 16. “A bill to prescribe the number, duties and compensation of the officers of the Legislative Assembly, and for other purposes.” No. 17, “A bill for the relief of Portage county.”'
On motion of Mr. Brown, Resolution No. 5, entitled “ Resolution relative to the removal of the Indians,” was taken up and considered.
Mr. Brown offered the following amendment,
Insert in the 31 resolution after the word “ Mississippi,” the following words: “and within the country purchased in July last, from the Sioux of the St. Peters, as it possesses a climate suitable to their habits, and therefore their removal to that section of country would be attended with less danger to the peace and tranquility of our fron