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risks and chances of failure? Who then blamed, reproached, or denounced the enterprising individuals who hazarded their money in a project to make a canal round the falls of the Ohio ? Who then spoke of their tolls as impositions, fines, and penalties ? Nobody, Sir. Then, all was encouragement and cheering onward. The cry was then, Go on, run the hazard, vry the experiment, let our vessels and boats have a passage round this obstruction; make an effort to overcome this great obstacle. If you fail, the loss, indeed, will be yours; but if you succeed, all the world will agree that you ought to be fairly and fully remunerated for the risk and expenditure of capital.
Sir, we are bound in all justice and fairness to respect the legal rights of these corporators. For one, I not only respect their legal rights, but I honor their enterprise, I commend their perseverance, and I think they deserve well of the community.
But, nevertheless, Sir, I am for making this navigation free. If there were no canal, I should be for making one, or for other modes of removing the obstructions in the river. As there is a canal, now the subject of private ownership and private property, I am for buying it out, and opening it, toll free, to all who navigate the river. In my opinion, this work is of importance enough to demand the attention of Government. To be sure it is but a canal, and a canal round the falls of a river ; but that river is the Ohio. It is one of those vast streams which form a part of the great water communication of the West. It is one of those running seas which bear on their bosom the riches of Western commerce. It is a river; but, to the uses of man, to the purposes of trade, to the great objects of communication, it is one of those rivers which has the character of an ocean. Indeed, when one looks at the map, and glances his eye on all these rivers, he sees at once water enough to constitute or to fill an ocean, pouring from different, distant, and numerous sources, and flowing many thousand miles, in various channels, with breadth and depth of water in each, sufficient for all the purposes of rapid communication and extensive trade. And if, in any portion of these inland seas, we find obstructions which the hand of man can remove, who can say that such removal is not an object worthy all the attention of Government?
Whoever, Mr. President, would do his duty, and his whole duty, in the councils of this Government, must look upon the country as it is, in its whole length and breadth. He must comprehend it in its vast extent, its novel character, its sudden development, its amazing progress, confounding all calculation, and almost overwhelming the imagination. Our rivers are not the rivers of the European world. We have not to deal with the Trent, the Thames, and the Severn. With us, at least in this part of our country, navigation from the sea does not stop where the tide stops. Our ports and harbors are not at the mouths of rivers only, or at the head of the tides of the sea. Hundreds of miles, nay, thousands of miles, beyond the point where the tides of the ocean are felt, deep waters spread out, and capacious harbors open themselves, to the reception of a vast and increasing navigation.
To be sure, Sir, this is a work of internal improvement; but it is not, on that account, either the less constitutional, or the less important. Sir, I have taken a part in this great struggle for internal improvement from the beginning, and I shall hold out to the end. Whoever may follow, or whoever may fly, I shall go straight forward for all those constitutional powers, and for all that liberal policy, which I have heretofore supported.
I remember, Sir, and, indeed, a very short memory might retain the recollection, when the first appropriations for harbors on the great lakes were carried through this body, not without the utmost difficulty, and against the most determined opposition. I remember when Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, and Lake Michigan were likely to be condemned to a continuance in the state in which Nature and the Indian tribes had left them, with no proof upon their shores of the policy of a civilized state, no harbors for the shelter of a hundred vessels, no light-house even to point out to the inland mariner the dangers of his course. I remember even when the harbor of Buffalo was looked upon as a thing either unimportant in itself, or, if not unimportant, yet shut out from the care and the aid of Congress by a constitutional interdiction of works of internal improvement. But, Sir, in this case, as in others, the doctrine of internal improvement has established itself by its own necessity, its own obvious and confessed utility, and the benefits which it has already so widely conferred. So it will be, I have no doubt, in the case before us. We shall wonder hereafter who could doubt the propriety of setting free the navigation of the Ohio, and shall wonder that it was delayed even so long.
Mr. President, on the question of constitutional power, I entertain not a particle of doubt. How is it, let me ask, that we appropriate money for harbors, piers, and breakwaters on the sea-coast? Where do we find power for this ? Certainly no where, where we cannot find equal power to pass this bill. The same clause covers such appropriations, inland as well as on the sea-coast, or else it covers neither. We have foreign commerce, and we have internal commerce; and the power, and the duty, also, of regulating, protecting, aiding, and fostering both is given in the same words. For one, therefore, Sir, I look to the magnitude of the object, and not to its locality. I ask not whether it be east or west of the mountains. There are no Alleghanies in my politics.
I care pot whether it be an improvement on the shore of the sea, or on the shore of one of these mighty rivers, so much like a sea, which flow through our vast interior. It is enough for me to know that the object is a good one, an important one, within the scope of our powers, and called for by the fair claims of our commerce. So that it be in the Union, so that it be within the twenty-four States, or the twenty-six States, it cannot be too remote for me. This feeling, Sir, so natural, as I think, to true patriotism, is the dictate also of enlightened self-interest. Were I to look only to the benefits of my own immediate constituents, I should still support this measure. Is not our commerce floating on these Western rivers ? Are not our manufactures ascending them all, by day and by night, by the power of steam, incessantly impelling a thousand engines, and forcing upwards, against their currents, hundreds of thousands of tons of freight ? If these cargoes be lost, if they be injured, if their progress be delayed, if the expense of their transportation be increased, who does not see that all interested in them become sufferers? Who does not see that every producer, every manufacturer, every trader, every laborer, has an interest in these improvements ? Surely, Sir, this is one of the cases in which the interest of the whole is the interest of each. Every man has his dividend out of this augmented public advantage. But if it were not so, if the effect were more local, if the work were useful to the Western States alone, or useful mainly to Kentucky and Indiana alone, still I should think it a case fairly within our power, and important enough to demand our attention.
But, Mr. President, I felt the more pain at the result of the last vote of the Senate on account of those Western gentlemen, who are so much interested in this measure, and who have uniformly supported appropriations for other parts of the country, which, though just and proper, are, as it seems to me, no more just or proper than this.
These friends have stood by us. They have uniformly been found at our side, in the contest about internal improvement. They have upheld that policy, and have gone with us through good report and evil report. And I now tell them that I shall stand by them. I shall be found where they look for me. I have asked their votes, once and again, for objects important to the Atlantic States. They have liberally given those votes. They have acted like enlightened and wise statesmen. I have duly estimated the high justice and liberality of their conduct. And having now an object interesting to them, and to their constituents, a just object, and a great object, they have a right to find me at their side, acting with them, acting according to my own principles, and proving my own consistency. And so they shall find me; and so they do find me. On this occasion I am with them; I am one of them. I am as Western a man, on this bill, as he among them who is most Western. This chair must change its occupant, another voice will address the Senate
from this seat, before an object of this nature, so important, so constitutional, so expedient, so highly desirable to a great portion of the country, and so useful to the whole, shall fail for the want, here, either of a decisive vote in its support, or an earnest recommendation of it to the support of others.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, ON INTRODUCING THE
PROPOSITION FOR THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE SURPLUS REV. ENUE. MAY 31, 1836.
MR. PRESIDENT: I have no desire to make myself responsible, in any special manner, for what may either be done or omitted, on this subject. It is surrounded with difficulties, some of them, as I think, unnecessarily created; and as these have been produced by measures in which I did not concur, it naturally belongs to others, who did concur in those measures, and who now possess the power, to apply the remedy according to their judgments, and on their own responsibility. But I incline, nevertheless, to express my opinions on a subject of such very high interest, and to let them have what weight they are entitled to, if it may be supposed that they are entitled to any weight at all.
On one point, I presume, we are all agreed, and that is, that the subject is of great importance. It affects the finances of the country, the security of the public money, and the state of the currency; and it affects, also, the practical and actual distribution of power among the several branches of the Government.
The bill comprises provisions for two objects:
First, regulations for the custody of the public money, between the time of its collection and the time of its disbursement; and, as naturally connected with this, it contemplates, or must at least very materially affect, the currency of the country, the exchanges, and the usual operations of credit in the commercial world.
The second direct object of the bill is, a reduction, positive or contingent, of the amount of money in the Treasury.
It seems probable, Sir, the bill, so far as it respects the first of these objects, may be so modified as to receive the approbation of a majority of the Senate. A committee acting in a spirit of conciliation, and with an honest desire to avoid the points of former difference, might, I think, agree on the regulations to be prescribed to the deposit banks. The sentiments which have been advanced in the course of the discussion do not appear to be irreconcilable. In the present state of things, I see no way but to employ State banks as depositories of the public money; and I have a sincere desire to subject them to such regulations, and such only, as shall