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OHIO AND MISSISSIPPI RIVER.
OF SUNDRYCITIZENS OF LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY, Praying for the improvement of the navigation of the Ohio and Mis
MARCH 29, 1830. Read, and referred to a select committee, consisting of Messrs. Wickliffe, Bell, Findlay,
Hinds, Denny, Duncan, and Overton.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of
America, in Congress assembled: . Sundry citizens of Louisville, Kentucky, would, by this memorial shew:
That they, in common with all those citizens of the United States who reside West of the Alleghany Mountains, are deeply interested in the navigation of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
Some idea of the trade on these rivers can be formed by considering the amount of merchandise and produce received and shipped annually at this place.
By an accurate estimate for the last year it has been found that, during the year 1829, there were 365 steamboat arrivals from below; their total tonnage 62,584 tons. The departures were equal in number and tonnage; making the aggregate amount of imports and exports in steamboats to and from places below Louisville, 125,168 tons.
During the same period the steamboat arrivals from above were 704; the exact tonnage not known, but in all probability from fifty to seventy thou. sand tons; which, in going and coming, would bring to, and carry from, this place, upwards of 100,000 tons in the direction of Pittsburgh, Pa.
If to this estimate be added the keel and, flat boats which arrive at, and depart from, this place annually, laden with the produce of the Western country, an amount of tonnage would be produced which would astonish any one not personally acquainted with the condition and trade of this section of the country.
This view presents but a small part of the trade which is now carried on by the navigation of the Mississippi river, and its tributary streams.
All this valuable merchandise and produce, together with thousands of lives, have been heretofore exposed to a navigation rendered highly dangerous by snags and other obstructions.
Within a few years the attention of Congress has been called to this subject, and some appropriations made. Henry M. Shreve, an old and experienced navigator, was einployed to disburse those funds. Every one was impressed with the importance of the end desired, but the difficulties to be overcome seemed almost insurmountable; some of the first experiments failed; but by the enterprise and untiring exertions of Henry M. Shreve, he has, as we believe, at last discovered the much desired plan by which the navigation of these rivers can be rendered comparatively, if not entirely, safe That plan is no longer to be regarded as a wild projection, or as an experiment. It has already rendered safe and easy some of the very worst channels of the Mississippi. Plumb Point, and Islands No. 62 and 63, which have heretofore been considered among the most dangerous passes of that river, present now only smooth sheets of water, which may be traversed with perfect safety.
This plan consists exclusively in the use of a steamboat, the like of which was never before conceived, by the instrumentality of whieh your agent now ploughs up from their beds, and dislodges, those snags or planters which have been so long the terror of all boatmen.
The cost of that boat was, as we are informed, about $28,000. Two others might probably be built for the sum of $25,000 each. The expense of building and putting them into successful operation would be but trifling, compared with the great public benefits to be derived from the expenditure.
It is confidently believed that three such boats, well directed, would in two years clear out all the snags in the Mississippi river, from New Orleans to the mouth of Missouri; and that when that point shall be accomplished, one such boat would be able, for all time to come, to remove all such obstructions as might be annually formed by the falling trees.
Those boats, when they have performed their service, would not be valueless; they could be successfully employed in the other important tributary streams which discharge their waters into the Mississippi; or, they might be sold for the purposes of towing vessels or transporting freight.
A channel through the ledge of rocks in the Ohio called the Grand Chain, is also of the greatest importance; and it could easily be made if Congress will devote the proper sum to its accomplishment.
We woald, therefore, respectfully suggest to the Congress of the United States the propriety of appropriating $100,000, to be applied, under the supervision of the proper Department, to the improvement of the narigation of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
I am of the opinion that one boat, in addition to the present preparations for the improving of the navigation of the Mississippi river, should be built; two can be used to advantage; they may be so constructed as to deepen the channel of that river over the bar at its mouth, which is of some importance to the Government, and an object very desirable to the people of Louisiana.
In relation to the Grand Chain on the Ohio river, every necessary preparation was made last Fall for the execution of that work, but the stage of water, during the season, did not admit of removing the rocks at that point; however, that object will be effected as soon as practicable, after the first low water in the river.
HENRY M. SHREVE.
DRAUGHTSMAN TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
MARCH 30, 1830.
Mr. WICKLIFFE, from the Committee on Retrenchment, to which the sub
ject had been referred, made the following
REPORT:, The Commiltee on Retrenchment, to which was referred certain resolu
tions, under the order of the House of the 10th of March, to inquire, among other things, into the expediency of creating the office of draughtsmail, or providing some mode by which the copies of maps, charts, and drawings, may be obtained, when necessarily required, for the use of the House of Representatives, have performed the duty assigned, and beg leave to report, in part:
That they have not felt themselves embarrassed in their investigations by the vote of the House, heretofore given, upon the resolution to discontinue the expenditure for the objects above. That determination of the House may have been superinduced by one of two considerations, either that the expenditure heretofore was illegal, or that the services of a draughtsman were no longer required. The union of both of these considerations may have had its influence upon many, if not all, who concurred in the resolution heretofore reported by this committee.
The objects for which it has been supposed to be necessary to create the office of draughtsman, and which connect themselves with the legislative action of the House of Representatives, are, Ist, correct delineations by maps, &c. of the public lands which have been surveyed, from time to time, in the several States and Territories, for the use of the Committee on the Public Lands; 2dly, correct representations of the various post roads within the United States, for the use of the Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads; 3dly, copies of such maps, charts, drawings, and profiles, made by the Engineer or Topographical corps, under the act of May, 1824, or under the authority of Congress, for the use of the Committee on Internal Improvements.
Ist. As to the maps of the public lands, &c. Of these the committee are informed, that the Committee on the Public Lands are already in possession of copies so far as the surveys have progressed, which copies have been heretofore made out from the originals, or materials furnished from the originals, now in the General Land Office. There is attached to that office a draughtsman, with competent salary, whose duty is understood to be to prepare, for the use of the Government, in connected and intelligible form, maps and
drawings of the public lands, sold and unsold. This officer is competetit and bound to furnish copies whenever required to do so by either House of Congress, or any committee thereof, upon proper application. The committee, in order to furnish the House with the most satisfactory evidence upon this point, refer to the copy of a letter addressed by the chairman to the Secretary of the Treasury, No. 1; and the letter of the Secretary in reply, No. 2. By which it will appear that, so far as relates to the legislation of Congress upon the public lands, it is unnecessary to create the office of draughtsman to this House.
2dly. As to the representations of the various post roads within the United States, for the use of the Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads. The committee would remark, that the great leading post roads in the United States, as established by Congress, must be so well known as not to require the aid of a map to present the position, or manifest their importance, to the Committee on the Post Office or to Congress. The roads of minor importance are so frequently changed, that what might be a correct map at one session would not at the ensuing session truly represent all the post roads. In the General Post Office, measures have been taken to prepare a map of the United States upon such scale that the post roads as now established will be correctly represented, and those hereafter established will be delineated with accuracy, from which copies may be furnished by the Department upon the call of either House of Congress, or their respective conmittees, without much, if any, additional expense to the Government. If there were a draughtsman attached to Congress, and the Committee on the Post Office required a post road to be represented on a map, that draughtsman would go to the Post Office Department to copy from the map prepared for that office. Why not then require this to be done by the member of the Engineer Department detailed for this duty, and attached to the General Post Office? The information can be obtained in this mode perhaps with more accuracy, as much despatch, greater responsibility, and without any additional expense. In confirmation of this statement, the committee refer to the letters Nos. 3 and 4.
The 3d object for which it has been supposed to be necessary to create this office of draughtsman, connects itself with the system of internal improvement; to prosecute which understandingly, copies of such maps, charts, drawings, &c. as have been made by the Topographical corps, when communicated to Congress, should be procured for the use of the Committee on Internal Improvements. Before the practice of ordering engravings of such maps by Congress had obtained, it would have required much labor to have taken copies of all the drawings, &c. made by the Engineer corps, and communicated to Congress.
For the last three or four years, many, if not all, of the most important charts, &c. which have been made by the authority of Congress, have been directed to be engraved. The amount expended for this purpose alone, up to the present day, is $4,689 74. It would not be necessary to copy them after they had been engraved, for the use of the Committee on Internal Improvements, or for the use of the House of Representatives.
I It occurred to the committee, however, that, whenever a report, accompanied by a map or drawing, was made from the Department of War to Congress, a duplicate of such map could be furnished by the Topographical corps, without any additional, or with very littie, expense to the Government, for the use of the Committee on Internal Improvements. With a view
to ascertain that fact, a letter, No. 5, was addressed to the Secretary of War. The Secretary of War, in his answer, No. 6, says that the copies of such maps as the Committee on Internal Improvements may require can be furnished by that Department. If the Engineer Department, as at present arranged, shall be insufficient for that purpose, in consequence of other duties, it will then be necessary to assign another officer to do duty with it. In which event, the increased expense would be the extra allowance of $1 25 per day to such officer, equal to $456 25 for the year.
The committee are of opinion that the contingency will not likely occur to make even this additional expense necessary at any time; it will most likely never occur, except during the sessions of Congress. The investigation of this subject has been more minute than its intrinsic importance demands; but such investigation was deemed essential in consequence of the opioion entertained by many members of Congress, who had not, perhaps, turned their attention to the subject, that such an office was necessary, if not indispensable; and in consequence of a disposition, manifested elsewhere, to misrepresent the motives of the committee on a former occasion, by charging them and the House, for party purposes, with a waste of thousands of the public money in an effort to abolish the office of draughtsman, to which was attached a factitious importance. A majority of the committee then believed the office, if one it should be so called, involving an annual expenditure of fifteen hundred dollars since 1824, was wholly useless, and that the expenditure ought to be discontinued.
Upon the whole view of the subject which the committee have taken, they are of opinion that it is inexpedient to create the office of draughtsman, and that no additional legislation is necessary to provide a mode by which the copies of maps, charts, and drawings [may be obtained,] when necessarily required for the use of the House of Representatives,” or the committees thereof, and recommend the adoption of the following resolution:
Resolved, That the resolutions of 23d February, referred to the Committee on Retrenchment on the 10th of March, ought not to be adopted.
WASHINGTON, 16th March, 1830. Sir: The Committee on Retrenchment, among other things, has been dijected to inquire into the expediency of creating the office of draughtsman to the House of Representatives. It is stated by the Chairman of the Committee on Public Lands, that maps and charts of the land districts heretofore established, of the public lands, so far as they have been surveyed, have been copied by the person heretofore employed, from the maps, &c. as they have been returned to the General Land Office, and that it will be necessary, for the safe action of this committee, that the land districts, and surveys of public lands, as they progress, should be furnished the committee. The object of this letter is to inquire of you, whether this work could not be performed, whenever required by that committee, or the House of Representatives, without any additional charge to the Government, by the present draughtsman, now employed in the General Land Office.
I am, respectfully,
C. A.'WICKLIFFE, Chairman. Hon. S. D. INGHAM