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without appealing to the friends of the road to drop all controversy as to the details, and secure the substance, the main thing, the road itself. He was originally in favor of authorizing the construction of three roads-one at the north, one at the centre, and the other at the south, leaving to the contractors the choice of such route as private interest and enterprise would select as the most promising of success. He has always opposed an arbitrary declaration by Congress of the route to be taken, preferring to fix only the termini, and leave to those interested in the construction of the road to determine the route between the given points, by such considerations as time and experience might suggest.

Bills for the construction of the Pacific railroad have been before Congress for several years, and they have always received the support of Mr. Douglas. If no act has passed for that work, no part of the serious responsibility for the omission of duty can rest upon him. He has never failed in his duty toward this important national work.

When the bill was under consideration in the Senate in 1858, Mr. Douglas, on the 17th of April, thus stated his views:

Mr. President, I have witnessed with deep regret the indications that this measure is to be defeated at the present session of Congress. I had hoped that this Congress would signalize itself by inaugurating the great measure of connecting the Mississippi Valley with the Pacific Ocean by a railroad. I had supposed that the people of the United States had decided the question at the last presidential election in a manner so emphatic as to leave no doubt that their will was to be carried into effect. I believe that all the presidential candidates at the last election were committed to the measure. All the presidential platforms sanctioned it as a part of their creed. I believe it is about the only measure on which there was entire unanimity; and it is a very curious fact that the measure which commanded universal approbation-the measure upon which all parties united-a measure against which no man could be found, previous to the election, to raise his voice-should be the one that can receive no support, nor the co-operation of any one party, while disputed measures can occupy the whole time of Congress, and can be carried through successfully. I make no complaint of any political party, nor of any gentleman who opposes this bill; but it did strike me that it was a fact to be noticed, that a measure of this description, so long before the country, so well understood by the people, and receiving such universal sanction from them, should not be carried into effect. If the bill which has been devised by the committee is not the best that can be framed, let it be amended and modified until its objectionable features shall be removed. Let us not make a test question of this particular form of bill or that particular form; of this particular route or that particular route; of the benefits to this section or that section. If there is any thing wrong in the details, in the form, in the construction of the bill, let the objectionable features be removed, and carry out the great object of a railroad communication between the Mississippi Valley and the Pacific Ocean.

Various objections have been raised to this bill, some referring to the route, involving sectional consideration; others to the form of the bill; others to the present time as inauspicious for the construction of such a railroad under any circumstances. Sir, I have examined this bill very carefully. I was a member of the committee that framed it, and I gave my cordial assent to the report. I am free to say that I think it is the best bill that has ever been reported to the Senate of the United States for the construction of a Pacific railroad. I say this with entire disinterestedness, for I have heretofore reported several myself, and I believe I have invariably been a member of the committees that have reported such bills. I am glad to find that we have progressed to such an extent as to be able to improve on the former bills that have, from time to time, been brought before the Senate of the United States. This may not be perfect. It is difficult to make human legislation entirely perfect; at any rate, to so construct it as to bring about an entire unanimity of opinion upon a question that involves, to some extent, selfish, sectional, and partisan considerations. But, sir, I think this bill is fair. First, it is fair in the location of the route, as between the different sections. The termini are fixed. Then the route between the termini is to be left to the contractors and owners of the road, who are to put their capital into it, and, for weal or for woe, are to be responsible for its management.

What is the objection to these termini? San Francisco, upon the Pacific, is not only central, but it is the great commercial mart, the great concentrating point, the great entrepôt for the commerce of the Pacific, not only in the present, but in the future. That point was selected as the western terminus for the reason that there seemed to be a unanimous sentiment that whatever might be the starting-point on the east, the system would not be complete until it should reach the city of San Francisco on the west. I suggested myself, in the committee, the selection of that very point; not that I had any objection to other points; not that I was any more friendly to San Francisco and her inhabitants than to any other port on the Pacific; but because I believe that to be the commanding port, the large city where trade concentrates, and its position indicated it as the proper terminus on the Pacific Ocean.

Then, in regard to the eastern terminus, a point on the Missouri River is selected for various reasons. One is, that it is central as between the North and South-as nearly central as could be selected. It was necessary to commence on the Missouri River, if you were going to take a central route, in order that the starting-point might connect with navigation, so that you might reach it by boats in carrying your iron, your supplies, and your materials for the commencement and the construction of the road. It was essential that you should commence at a point of navigation so that you could connect with the sea-board. If you start it at a point back in the interior five hundred or a thousand miles, as it is proposed, at El Paso, from the navigable waters of the Mississippi, it would cost you more money to carry the iron, provisions, supplies, and men to that starting-point, than it would to make a road from the Mississippi to the starting-point, in order to begin the work. In that case it would be a matter of economy to make a road to your starting-point in order to begin. Hence, in my opinion, it would be an act of folly to think of starting a railroad to the Pacific at a point eight hundred or a thousand miles in the interior, away from any connection with navigable water, or with other railroads already in existence.


For these reasons, we agreed in the bill to commence on the Missouri RivWhen you indicate that river, a little diversity of opinion arises as to what point on the river shall be selected. There are various respectable, thriving towns on either bank of the river, each of which thinks it is the exact position where the road ought to commence. I suppose that Kansas City,


Wyandott, Weston, Leavenworth, Atchison, Platte's Mouth City, Omaha, De Soto, Sioux City, and various other towns whose names have not become familiar to us, and have found no resting-place on the map, each thinks that it has the exact place where the road should begin. Well, sir, I do not desire to show any preference between these towns; either of them would suit me very well; and we leave it to the contractors to say which shall be the We leave the exact eastern terminus open for the reason that the public interests will be substantially as well served by the selection of the one as the other. It is not so at the western terminus. San Francisco does not occupy that relation to the towns on the Pacific coast that these little towns on the Missouri River do to the country east of the Missouri. The public have no material interest in the question whether it shall start at the mouth of the Kansas, at Weston, at Leavenworth, at St. Joseph, at Platte's Mouth, or at Sioux City. Either connects with the great lines; either would be substantially central as between North and South. So far as I am concerned, I should not care a sixpence which of those towns was selected as the startingpoint, because they start there upon a plain that stretches for eight hundred miles, and can connect with the whole railroad system of the country. You can go directly west. You can bend to the north and connect with the northern roads, or bend to the south and connect with the southern roads. The senator from Georgia (Mr. Iverson) would be satisfied, as I understand, with the termini, if we had selected one intermediate point, so as to indicate the route that should be taken between the termini. I understand that he would be satisfied if we should indicate that it should go south of Santa Fé, so as to include as the probable line the Albuquerque route, or the one on the thirty-fifth parallel, or the one south of it. Sir, I am free to say that, individually, I should have no objection to the route indicated by the senator from Georgia. I have great faith that the Albuquerque route is an exceedingly favorable one; favorable in its grades, in the shortness of its distances, in its climate, the absence of deep snow, and in the topography of the country. While it avoids very steep grades, it furnishes, perhaps, as much of grass, of timber, of water, of materials necessary for the construction and repair of the road, if not more, than any other route. As a Northern man, living upon the great line of the lakes, you can not indicate a route that I think would subserve our interests, and the great interests of this country, better than that; yet, if I expressed the opinion that the line ought to go on that route between the termini, some other man would say it ought to go on Governor Stevens's extreme northern route; some one else would say it ought to go on the South Pass route; and we should divide the friends of the measure as to the point at which the road should pass the mountains-whether at the extreme north, at the centre, the Albuquerque route, or the further southern one down in Arizona-and we should be unable to decide between ourselves which was best.

I have sometimes thought that the extreme northern route, known as the Stevens' route, was the best, as furnishing better grass, more timber, more water, more of those elements necessary in constructing, repairing, operating, and maintaining a road, than any other. I think now that the preference, merely upon routes, is between the northern or Stevens's route on the one side, and the Albuquerque route on the other. Still, as I never expect to put a dollar of money into the road, as I never expect to have any agency or connection with or interest in it, I am willing to leave the selection of the route between the termini to those who are to put their fortunes and connect their character with the road, and to be responsible, in the most tender of all points, if they make a mistake in the selection. But for these considerations, I should have cheerfully yielded to the suggestion of the senator from Georgia to fix the crossing-point on the Rio Grande River.

But, sir, I am unwilling to lose this great measure merely because of a difference of opinion as to what shall be the pass selected in the Rocky Mountains through which the road shall run. I believe it is a great national measure. I believe it is the greatest practical measure now pending before the country. I believe that we have arrived at that period in our history when our great substantial interests require it. The interests of commerce, the great interests of travel and communication-those still greater interests that bind the Union together, and are to make and preserve the continent as one and indivisible-all demand that this road shall be commenced, prosecuted, and completed at the earliest practicable moment.

I am unwilling to postpone the bill until next December. I have seen these postponements from session to session for the last eight or ten years, with the confident assurance every year that at the next session we should have abundance of time to take up the bill and act upon it. Sir, will you be better prepared at the next session than now? We have now the whole summer before us, drawing our pay, and proposing to perform no service. Next December you will have but ninety days, with all the unfinished business left over, your appropriation bills on hand, and not only the regular bills, but the new deficiency bill; and you will postpone this measure again for the want of time to consider it then. I think, sir, we had better grapple with the difficulties that surround this question now, when it is fairly before us, when we have time to consider it, and when I think we can act upon it as dispassionately, as calmly, as wisely, as we shall ever be able to do.

I have regretted to see the question of sectional advantages brought into this discussion. If you are to have but one road, fairness and justice would plainly indicate that that one should be located as near the centre as practicable. The Missouri River is as near the centre and the line of this road is as near as it can be made; and if there is but one to be made, the route now indicated, in my opinion, is fair, is just, and ought to be taken. I have heretofore been of the opinion that we ought to have three roads: one in the centre, one in the extreme south, and one in the extreme north. If I thought we could carry the three, and could execute them in any reasonable time, I would now adhere to that policy and prefer it; but I have seen enough here during this session of Congress to satisfy me that but one can pass, and to ask for three at this time is to lose the whole. Believing that that is the temper, that that is the feeling, and, I will say, the judgment of the members of both houses of Congress, I prefer to take one road rather than to lose all in the vain attempt to get three. If there were to be three, of course the one indicated in this bill would be the central; one would be north of it, and another south of it. But if there is to be but one, the central one should be taken; for the north, by bending a little down south, can join it; and the south, by leaning a little to the north, can unite with it too; and our Southern friends ought to be able to bend and lean a little, as well as to require us to bend and lean all the time, in order to join them. The central position is the just one, if there is to be but one road. The concession should be as much on the one side as on the other. I am ready to meet gentlemen half way on every question that does not violate principle, and they ought not to ask us to meet them more than half way where there is no principle involved, and nothing but expediency.

Then, sir, why not unite upon this bill? We are told it is going to involve the government of the United States in countless millions of expenditure. How is that? Certainly not under this bill, not by authority of this bill, not without violating this bill. The bill under consideration provides that when a section of the road shall be made, the government may advance a portion of the lands, and $12,500 per mile in bonds on the section thus made, in order to aid in the construction of the next, holding a lien upon the road for

the refunding of the money thus advanced. Under this bill it is not possible that the contractors can ever obtain more than $12,500 per mile on each mile of the road that is completed. It is, therefore, very easy to compute the cost to the government. Take the length of the road in miles, and multiply it by $12,500, and you have the cost. If you make the computation, you will find it will come to a fraction over $20,000,000. The limitation in the bill is, that in no event shall it exceed $25,000,000. Therefore, by the terms of the bill, the undertaking of the government is confined to $25,000,000 ; and, by the calculation, it will be less than that sum. Is that a sum that would bankrupt the Treasury of the United States?

I predict to you now, sir, that the Mormon campaign has cost, and has led to engagements and undertakings that, when redeemed, will cost more than $25,000,000, if not double that sum. During the last six months, on account of the Mormon rebellion, expenses have been paid and undertakings have been assumed which will cost this government more than the total expenditure which can possibly be made in conformity with the provisions of this bill. If you had had this railroad made you would have saved the whole cost which the government is to advance in this little Mormon war alone. If you have a general Indian war in the mountains, it will cost you twice the amount called for by this bill. If you should have a war with a European power, the construction of this road would save many fold its cost in the transportation of troops and munitions of war to the Pacific Ocean, in carrying on your operations.

In an economical point of view I look upon it as a wise measure. It is one of economy as a war measure alone, or as a peace measure for the purpose of preventing a war. Whether viewed as a war measure, to enable you to check rebellion in a Territory, or hostilities with the Indians, or to carry on vigorously a war with a European power, or viewed as a peace measure, it is a wise policy, dictated by every consideration of convenience and public good.

Again, sir, in carrying the mails, it is an economical measure. As the senator from Georgia has demonstrated, the cost of carrying the mails alone to the Pacific Ocean for thirty years, under the present contracts, is double the amount of the whole expenditure under this bill for the same time in the construction and working of the road. In the transportation of mails, then, it would save twice its cost. The transportation of army aud navy supplies would swell the amount to three or four fold. How many years will it be before the government will receive back, in transportation, the whole cost of this advance of aid in the construction of the road?

But, sir, some gentlemen think it is an unsound policy, leading to the doctrine of internal improvements by the federal government within the different states of the Union. We are told we must continue the road to the limits of the Territories, and not extend it into the states, because it is supposed that entering a state with this contract violates some great principle of staterights. Mr. President, the committee considered that proposition, and they avoided that objection in the estimation of the most strict, rigid, tight-laced State-rights men that we have in the body. We struck out the provision in the bill first drawn, that the President should contract for the construction of a railroad from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean, and followed an example that we found on the statute-book for carrying the mails from Alexandria to Richmond, Virginia-an act passed about the time when the resolutions of 1798 were adopted, and the report of 1799 was made—an act that we thought came exactly within the spirit of those resolutions. That act, according to my recollection, was, that the Department be authorized to contract for the transportation of the United States mail by four-horse post-coaches, with closed backs, so as to protect it from the weather and rain, from Al

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