Page images
PDF
EPUB

of the friends of home industry in establishing it on a safe basis, without the immediate and direct aid of congress. And this will be sufficient. It is not yet forty years since New York applied in vain to the United States to construct the Erie canal, which was acknowledged to be the incipient measure in a system of internal improvements to be coëxtensive with the republic. Now, not only that canal has been built, but the whole system is in a train of accomplishment, although congress has not only never adopted, but has almost constantly repudiated it. Private and corporate enterprise, sustained by the states, has worked out what the federal government has refused to undertake. The same agencies will establish the American system. Capital, labor, science, skill, are augmenting here. Power is daily becoming cheaper, and consumption more extensive. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Ohio, have become manufacturing states. The advantages resulting from the policy are indicated, not more by the universal improvement of the agricultural districts in these states, than by the prosperity and growth of their towns and cities. Here are Boston, Lowell, Lawrence, Springfield, Providence, New Haven, Rutland, Bennington, New York, Albany, Troy, Rochester and Buffalo, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Newark and Paterson, Wilmington and Baltimore, Cincinnati and Cleveland; contrast with them the towns and cities of those states which practically adhere to the policy of employing foreign industry, and you see plainly the results of that error. This contrast excites inquiry, and inquiry will go on, until it shall correct the great mistake, and introduce universal emulation.

Persevere, then, Gentlemen of the Institute; for, while you are represented as hindering the prosperity of the country, you, and none so much as you, are securing it, and rendering it universal. While you are regarded as favoring privileges and monopolies, you, and none so much as you, are counteracting pauperism and class legislation. While you are censured for opposing the interests of commerce, you, and none so much as you, are laying sure foundations for a commerce that shall be broad as the limits of the earth, and lasting as the necessities and the enterprise of mankind. While you are represented as checking the rising greatness of the nation, you, and only you, by lifting labor to its rightful rank, are elevating the republic to true and lasting independence.

THE PHYSICAL, MORAL, AND INTELLECTUAL DE

VELOPMENT OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

A POLITICAL discourse may seem out of time and out of place at a classic festival and in academic groves. Nevertheless, the office of instructor to a prince brought something more of dignity even to the learning and piety of Fenelon. To study the forces and tendency of a republic which is not obscure, cannot, therefore, at any time or in any place, be unbecoming an association which regards universal philosophy as the proper guide of human life.

Nations are intelligent, moral persons, existing for the ends of their own happiness and the improvement of mankind. They grow, mature, and decline. Their physical development, being most obvi- . ous, always attracts our attention first. Certainly we cannot too well understand the material condition of our own country. “I think," said Burke, sadly, addressing the British house of commons, just after the American war, “I think I can trace all the calamities of this country to the single source of not having had steadily before our eyes a general, comprehensive, well connected, and well proportioned view of the whole of our dominions, and a just sense of their bearings and relations."

Trace on a map the early boundaries of the United States, as they were defined by the treaty of Versailles, in 1783. See with what jealousy Great Britain abridged their enjoyment of the fisberies on the northeast coast, and how tenaciously she locked up against them the St. Lawrence, the only possible channel between their inland regions and the Atlantic ocean. Observe how Spain, while retaining the vast and varied solitudes which spread out westward from the Mississippi river to the Pacific ocean, at the same time assigned the thirty-first parallel of north latitude as the southern boundary of the United States, and thus shut them out from access by that river or otherwise to the gulf of Mexico. See now how the massive and unpassable Alleghany mountains traversed the new republic from north to south, dividing it into two regions—the inner one rich in agricultural resources, but without markets; and the outer one adapted to defense and markets, but wanting the materials for commerce. Were not the Europeans astute in thus confining the United States within limits which would probably render an early separation of them inevitable, and would also prevent equally the whole and each of the future parts from ever becoming a formidable or even a really independent Atlantic power? They had cause for their jealousies. They were monarchies, and they largely divided the western hemisphere between them. The United States aimed to become a maritime nation, and their success would tend to make that hemisphere not only republican, but also independent of Europe. That success was foreseen. A British statesman, in describing the American colonies just before the peace, had said to his countrymen: "Your children do not grow faster from infancy to manhood than they spread from families to communities, and from villages to nations."

| An Address before the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Yale College: New Haven, July 26, 1851.

The United States, thus confined landward, betook themselves to the sea, whose broad realm lay unappropriated; and, having furnished themselves with shipping and seamen equal to the adventurous pursuit of the whale fishery under the poles, they presented themselves in European ports as a maritime people. Afterwards, their well-known attitude of neutrality, in a season of general war, enabled them to become carriers for the world. But they never forgot, for a moment, the importance of improving their position on the coast. France was now the owner of the province of Louisiana, which stretched all along the western bank of the Mississippi. She wisely sold a possession, which she was unable to defend, to the United States, who thus, only twenty years after the treaty of Versailles, secured the exclusive navigation of the great river; and, descending from their inland frontier, established themselves on the coast of the gulf of Mexico. Spain soon saw that her colonies on that coast, east of the Mississippi, now virtually surrounded by the United States, were thenceforward untenable. . She, therefore, for an equivalent, ceded the Floridas, and retired behind the Sabine; and so the seacoast of the United States was now seen to begin at that river, and, passing along the gulf and around the Pensacola, and beyond the capes, to terminate at the St. Croix, in the bay of Fundy.

Vol IV

21

The course of the European war showed that Spain was exhausted. Nearly all her American colonies, inspired by the example of the United States, and sustained by their sympatlıy, struck for independence, established republican systems, and entered into treaties of amity and commerce with the republic of the north.

But the United States yet needed a northern passage from their western valleys to the Atlantic Ocean. The new channel to be opened must necessarily have connections, natural or artificial, with the inland rivers and lakes. An internal trade, ramifying the country, was a necessary basis for commerce, and it would constitute the firmest possible national union. Practically, there was, in the country, neither a canal to serve for a model nor an engineer competent to project one. The railroad invention had not yet been perfected in Europe, nor even conceived in the United States. The federal government alone had adequate resources, but, after long consideration and some unprofitable experiments, it not only disavowed the policy, but also disclaimed the power of making internal improvements. Private capital was unavailable for great national enterprises. The states were not convinced of the wisdom of undertaking, singly, works within their own borders which would be wholly or in part useless, unless extended beyond them by other states, and which, even although they should be useful to themselves, would be equally or more beneficial to states which refused or neglected to join in their construction. Moreover, the only source of revenue in the states was direct taxation-always unreliable in a popular governmentand they had no established credits at home or abroad. Nevertheless, the people comprehended the exigency, and their will opened a way through all these embarrassments. The state of New York began, and she has hitherto, although sometimes faltering, prosecuted this great enterprise with unsurpassed fidelity. The other states, according to their respective abilities and convictions of interest and cluty, have coöperated. By canals we have extended the navigation of Chesapeake bay to the coal fields of Maryland at Cumberland, and also, by the way of Columbia, to the coal fields of Pennsylvania. By canals we have united Chesapeake bay with the Delaware river, and have, with alternating railroads, connected that river with the Obio river and with lake Erie. By canals we have opened a navi. gation between Philadelphia and New York, mingling the waters of the Delaware with those of the Raritan. By canals we have given access from two several ports on the Hudson to two different coal fields in Pennsylvania. By canals we have also extended the navigation of the Hudson, through lake Champlain and its outlet, to the St. Lawrence near Montreal. We are just opening a channel from the Hudson to Cape Vincent, on lake Ontario, near its eastern termination, while we lóng since have opened one from the same river to a central harbor on that lake at Oswego. A corresponding improvement, made by the Canadian authorities on the opposite shore, prolongs our navigation from lake Ontario to lake Erie. We have also connected the Hudson river with the eastern branch of the Susquehanna, through the valley of the Chenango, and again with its western tributaries through the Seneca lake. We are also uniting the Hudson with the Alleghany, a tributary of the Mississippi, through the valley of the Genesee. One long trunk of canal receives the trade gathered by most of these tributary channels, while it directly unites the Hudson with lake Erie at Buffalo. The shores of that great lake are the basis of a second part of the same system. Canals connect the Alleghany, in the state of Pennsylvania, with lake Erie, at Erie; the Ohio river, at Portage and at Cincinnati; with lake Erie, at Cleveland and Toledo; and again the Ohio river, in the state of Indiana, with lake Erie, through the valley of the Wabash. Lake Superior, hitherto secluded from even internal commerce, is now being connected with the other great lakes by the canal of the falls of St. Marie; and, to complete the whole, the Illinois canal unites the lakes and all the extensive system I have described with the Mississippi. Thus, by substituting works purely artificial, we have not only dispensed with the navigation of the St. Lawrence, but have also opened a complete circuit of inland navigation and traffic between New Orleans, on the gulf, and New York, Philadel. phia, and Baltimore, on the Atlantic. The aggregate length of those canals is five thousand miles, and that of the inland coasts thus washed by natural and artificial channels exceeds twenty thousand miles.

Railroads constitute an auxiliary system of improvements, at once more complex and more comprehensive. By railroads we have connected, or are in the act of connecting together, all the principal seaports on the Atlantic coast and on the coasts of the gulf of Mexico, namely, Portland, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk, Charleston, Mobile, and New Orleans. Again-railroads from

« PreviousContinue »