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fect of their kinds, within the legitimate spheres of their action, but utterly void when extended further; and that, if we have the power to make roads, the assent of individual States is wholly unnecessary; but that, if we have not such power, we cannot confer it on the several States which have it already. On the question whether this Government has such power, we have had much of argument and of authority. P. enough to do, on this occasion, without entering minutely into a discussion of that point, which has been, however, and will incidentally be touched in the course of my remarks. But I could not fail to notice the pleasure with which the chairman of the Committee on Roads and Canals, and other gentlemen, have pressed on our attention the sayings of certain great men (Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe) concerning the advantages which might attend the exercise of such a power by this Government. Yes, which might attend it, if not abused; but there is the danger. I have lived long enough, however, to know how easy it is for the greatest men to throw out obitur dicta, either as judges or politicians, not much to be regarded, even, by themselves, and often repudiated after more reflection aud greater experience. But if these sayings are of high authority as to expediency, I would ask gentlemen to reflect, if the argument as to power is not proportionally stronger against them, when these same individuals, and sometimes in the most solemn manner, with all their partiality for the power, have felt themselves constrained to deny its constitutional existence, as claimed in this bill. We have no evidence that any of them ever changed his opinion as to the power; but it is well known that Mr. Jefferson, at least, became perfectly satisfied that the evils from exercising such a power would far overbalance the advantages. If no such power exists, this Government ought to seek some other mode of attaining its ends, eontinuing to act in its own sphere, and attending to its own business, without interfering with that of others, even by permission. But, whether it exists or not, it is a mistake to suppose that there are not very important dif. ferences, both in principles and details, between the plan of the amendment and that of the bill. The bill proposes that this Government shall exercise entire and absolute control and jurisdiction over the whole subject. On the other hand, the amendment contemplates, that when the General Government, for its own legitimate es, shall desire an improved road in a particular direction, it will indicate its wish to the State authorities, and offer the necessary funds on terms advantageous to all. In this way neither Government would confer any new powers on the other. The State would not give its assent for the General Government to do that which was to be done by itself; nor would this Government confer on the State any authority to do that which the State had an undoubted right to do before. In making and preserving such a road, any State would exercise precisely the same powers as are in operation every day, and would use the money from this Government precisely as if it had been derived from any other source. On the other hand, this Government would use the road as it now uses all the roads made by the States throughout the Union; and, in its lawful operations, instead of using bad roads without y, or improved ones by paying tolls as it now does, would ve given so much money for the free use forever of a good road. As to jurisdiction, the whole community and the respective Governments would stand precisely as they do at this day, without any controversy whatever on that subject, while the object of all would have been attained. Not only would all collisions and difficulties as to jurisdiction be obviated by the plan of the amendment, but that patronage, which is inseparable from the subject, would remain scattered in the hands of the State authorities, instead of being transferred and concentrated here. All agree that the patronage of the President is great, as it now is; and I know of none, who avowedly advocate its
enlargement, when there is no necessity for doing so. There is no uecessity for it in this case—and I put this point home to every member of this committee. We are told that this Government is to go on making internal improvements all over the Union—and that, after the payment of the national debt, millions on millions, every year, are to be expended in this way. If so, what will the pa. tronage of the Executive come to? Or rather, what will it not be Can the opponents of any administration ever wish to see it possessed of such power? And no friend of his country ought ever to desire it for a President of his own choice. But the gentleman over the way [Mr. MERcER] has told us that there is no danger at all on the score of patronage—and he says, that this system will give us opportunities of doing some good while we enjoy our places on this floor, and tend to prevent members of Congress from running to Executive bureaux in search of offices. I confess that I am at some loss to comprehend the honorable gentleman's meaning. But I am apprised of his profitable experience on this subject, and doubt not that he might be able, from that, to inform us more fully how to provide for ourselves, so as effectually to prevent the necessity of running to the bureau. It may that there are ways and means for getting such things done— and, possibly, that gentleman may understand, better than any other, how a member of Congress, by using extraordinary exertions to obtain from this Government a million of dollars or more for some project of internal improvement, might get himself into a berth worth fifteen hundred or two thousand dollars a year, in addition to his pay here—and thus be freed from the necessity of running to a bureau to get au office worth less than the double business of President of a Canal Board and member of Congress. I am not satisfied, however, that such successful adventures of members of Congress would tend much to diminish the patronage, or any other evils which may have been apprehended. Economy is another consideration which ought never to be overlooked. No proposition, I take it, is better established, both by reason and experience, than that, with equal means to accomplish a given work, the General Government would be less economical than the State Governments, and they less than corporate companies, and they less than individuals. What the difference would be, can, of course, be only matter of conjecture, as the means of calculation are vague and contingent; but it is fair to suppose that a third or a fourth would be saved by ...; the money under State authority, instead of this Government; or that the road would be in that proportion better, if any particular sum by the mile, were applied to the work. But there is one feature of the amendment which I consider peculiarly felicitous, in its . to economy, security, and faithfulness generally, in the disbursement; and that is the power of the President to withhold the subsequent instalments, if the former should not be properly applied. While the money would be expended under the superior economy of State authorities, on an object desirable to have accomplished, a resonable security for this Government, and restraint on others, would exist in the salutary supervision and conditional control of the President. It seems to me that, on the great points of jurisdiction, patronage, and economy, the plan of the amendment is inquestionably preferable to that of the bill, and that, if the road is to be made, it had better be done under State authority. But as some gentleman still think, no doubt, that this bill may answer the purpose, I must ask their attention to some further particulars. This bill is a legislative curiosity. It must §: kept in mind that the President is directed to take “prompt and effectual measures” to have the road made from one end of the United States to the other. I beg to know what measures he is to take. I cannot see; the bill does not tell us. Yet they are to be
“prompt," and such as shall be “effectual.” pass the bill into a law; it is not to be controlled—its operations must not be stopped—the work must go on, regardless alike of States, corporations, and individuals. A road must be had by some means. But how ! It is easy to make one on paper; but what is to be the process in praetice and reality ? It is time to think of things as they are and will be in fact, Can the President do any thing that we may choose to direct him, without our providing any of the ordinary means ? Let me ask gentlemen how he will manage to condemn the lands of individuals for this road Î How is he to call a jury to assess damages } Not a syllable do we find on this subject. All is to be done by the fiat of the President, who is to go on, it would seem, and take the }. without judge or jury. But the commissioners, orsooth, are to make contracts with the owners of the lands. This is all very well, as far as it goes—but how far is that? It is said that the road will be aboutfifteen hundred miles long—and does any practical man suppose that the commissioners will be able to find all the owners of the various tracts of land over which the road ought to run ? Most of the owners are, doubtless, near to the route of the road; but who can tell where many others may be in disferent parts of the Union, and in other parts of the world? If, however, they could all be found, I would next inquire who they are, and what powers they have to make the contracts desired. Many of them, probably, would be laboring under some legal disability, of infancy, or coverture, or insanity. Some of these difficulties might be ob. viated; but others might be absolutely insurmountable. Of those who could be found, and would be capable of making contracts, there might be some inclined to charge exorbitant damages, and especially when no means were provided for condemning the land at a fair price. The terms of this bill would require of the President to do that which it might be impossible for him to perform, and would, probably, accumulate difficulties and expenses utterly intolerable. But those which I have just suggested would all be removed at once by adopting the amendment. The State authorities are in the habit, as occasion may reuire, of condemning the lands of any person whatever or the purposes of roads, and of paying the fair value, without being imposed on—and they would exercise the power for this road, as in any other case. It might be useful for the commissioners, as far as practicable, to receive from the owners, respectively, such statements, in writing, as would show the amount of damages which they would be willing to receive; and those statements, as far as they were reasonable, would be data for the State authorities. The claims of individual owners of land, however, are not all that must be adjusted on this road. Turnpike comho have rights of peculiar and embarrassing character. ow many there may be on the whole route, I do not know, but enough to make fact supersede speculation, as there are certainly some at important places in the State of Virginia on the route proposed in the bill, at and near the Blue Ridge and the Alleghany mountain. Have gentlemen examined the extent of the duties and rights of these companies, what they are bound to perform, how much they have expended, and what exactions they may make It might be well to reflect, too, that Virginia has a standing law for the State to subscribe part of the stock in such companies—two-fifths, I think, after individuals shall have taken three-fifths—and I am well informed that she has such an interest in some of the very urnpikes to which I allude. Their roads are not in conformity with the one proposed, and, in some respects, may be very inferior. Of course, they would not come within the exceptions, or escape the operations of this bill. How is the President to manage these parts of the concern? Shall he fix up an opposition road hard by, at unnecessary and enormous expense Or shall he assume jurisdiction and control of the
We are to
present road Î In either way, the company's charter would be virtually repealed—a resort would be made to Virginia to maintain those vested rights which she had given—and, let me tell gentlemen, she would maintain them. But, sup: pose all other parts of this road should be completed, and the turnpikes not interfered with, then they might continue to be in very inferior condition, while their owners would receive an enormous amount of tolls, in consequence of the general improvement of the road. None of these consequences could be tolerated; and . gentleman will perceive at once how desirable it would be to have those charters modified to suit the occasion, as to the kind of road and the rate of tolls. But how could it be done? The General Government has no right to grant such eharters, and, of course, none to modify them. The power to do so is not only omitted in the onstitution, but it was expressly proposed in the convention, and positively refused. Such a refusal to grant power has always been regarded as conclusive against its exercise in the opinion of every sound expositor of the constitution. I am aware, sir, that this argument, as applied to various parts of the proceedings of the convention, militates against the power of the General Government over the subject of roads, far more than is necessary for my present purpose, which is to show that this Government cannot interfere with these road charters, and that the State Go vernments must be resorted to for such a purpose. I would persuade gentlemen to leave the adjustment of these turnpike charters to the State legislatures that made them, and could modify them, according to such up derstandings with the companies as might be easily ob. tained, with the means at command, if those legislaturo had the management of the road. There is a clause in the proposed amendment, to save the rights of these corpo rations, and to give opportunity for an adjustment of them, beneficial to all; but no such provision either is or can b: in the bill, on the principles involved in making the ro by this Government. If the plan of the amendment be so decidedly preser” ble on the great points of jurisdiction, patronage, eco. my, the rights of individuals and of corporations, I would ask why it ought not to be adopted Will any gentleman say that it is not a practical plan? Why not If any State has a right now to make a road, in its own territo where this Government desires one, as well as any who else, surely the right or power to do so will not be dimo nished by the aid of money from this Government; and * far as the respective States might be willing to person" the work, it is morally certain that it would be well done in a reasonable time. I have occasionally heard it suggested, however, to some one or more of the States might not be willing"
accept of the proposition, and parts of the road might”
be made. In the first place, I would say, if the whole road would be worth the noney advanced, part of it ough to be worth its proportional share. As to the residue of the road, I would ask the objector this plain quest” if he is prepared to vote for making it, by the direct.” tion of this Government, through any State of this Un". that might be opposed to the exercise of such a power! If there be any such politician here, I would suggest to him with how much greater plausibility he could, * that it was “necessary and proper” to do so, after theo fusal of such State to execute the work under a fair Po. position from this Government. But, if any State woul refuse to accept the money, and make its own part of the road, can it be supposed that the same State would quick ly acquiesce in its being done by this Government! The chances are certainly the other way, and I speak, in *. degree, advisedly on this point. In this view of the * ter, sustained by facts which cannot be overlooked
ask gentlemen, who really desire this road, to reflect on
the choice which it will be most prudent for them to
make. On which side lies the probability of success? And on which the strongest apprehension of danger ? To o: such a bill as that now under eonsideration would be nothing less, sir, than invoking a direct collision with some of the States of this Union. Have gentlemen forgot the quarters from which we have been admonished not to exercise this power? Or are they determined to push on to extremities, regardless cf the admonitions, and without necessity? If they “love power and forget right." let them at least remember prudence. Sir, I will name no other State than my own—and I admit that her legis. lature has not been entirely uniform in its resolutions; but . colleagues cannot have forgot that the very last one it adopted on, this subject, denies, most emphatically and unequivocally, the power assumed in this bill. Tennessee did right to deny it, sir; and it will be for her to determine when occasion may require her to maintain the position. As the constitution of this Union now stands, she ought never to surrender the jurisdiction and control of her roads to any Government on earth. I am willing that this Government shall always exercise fully and perfectly its lawful authority; but more than that I cannot knowingly either assume or agree to, without detracting from those rights which belong to that State which has been my home through life. However much I may love the true Government of this Union, I yet have a stronger attachment to that of my own State. I take pride in the name of American, but I glory more in the name of Tennessean. This General Government is well while acting as outts to guard and defend our liberties; but my State is an important apartment in the citadel itself; and to that I am to retire in the last extremity, whenever the outposts shall yield to a foreign force, or shall turn themselves, and become assailants. In the politics of this great Federal Republic, Tennessee is my first love, and my last hopel I call on the friends of harmony and good order, generally, to beware. I show them a plan of conciliation—a way in which the object may be attained, without sending our President on the Quixotic adventure of a tournament with some of the States. I am not disposed to engage the President of my choice in any such unnecessary and hazardous business. His enemies may do so, if they choose. I ask gentlemen why they are so pertinaciously opposed to altering this bill. There must be something more involved than the particular road in question. They go for principle, forsooth; but they ought to remember that others, also, have some regard for principle, and cannot go with their neighbors beyond certain bounds, while those neighbors have no necessity for going so far. They contend for the right of this Government to make roads, and seem determined to exercise it, even without necessity, and in defiance of the supposed rights of others. It might be well for gentlemen not to forget the moral of our own revolutionary struggle. Great Britain contended for principle, and insisted on the right of taxation. She would not listen to the remonstrances of the colonies. She claimed the right, and would exercise it. Nor would she be admonished by the fable of the madnan, who would shear the wolf, simply because he claimed the right to do so. Some gentlemen seem to think _lightly of any opposition to their career; but let me tell them, that no community of freemen will patiently endure to be continually intruded upon, when they believe that every intrusion tends to affect, and eventually to destroy, their rights and liberties. While those, who feel their own power, are displaying it wantonly and tauntingly, they are sometimes, but little aware of the consequences of their own conduct. And if a majority are determined to force this bill through, I wash my hands of it, and shall be under no obligation to maintain the usurpation. Lest any one should suppose that the completion of the
road might be retarded by having it done under State authority, and that the President might begin the work under the bill before the legislatures could act on the subject, so as to make a material difference as to time, I have procured authentic information to remove such an apprehension. If any gentleman supposes that this work would be done in either way, in a few months, or even years, he is much mistaken; and it is proper to know the truth on this point, whatever may be the effect. For that purpose, I beg leave to read a note which I have received from the Engineer Department.
SIR : In answer to Mr. Lea's letter of the 25th instant, which you referred to me, I have the honor to state, that, taking into consideration the distance, the necessity that the level should accompany the compass throughout, the time lost by Sundays, wet weather, and accidents, the usual average of miles per day in doing such work in the field, in which a sufficient number of details will have to be collected to form a correct basis for estimates and plans of construction, and the usual time required in composing the drawings of the survey and the reports, and that there may be but three parties employed on the entire distance between Buffalo and New Orleans, I do not think it would be safe to estimate, for the completion of this labor, less time than two years.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN J. ABERT, Lieutenant Col. and T. E. Gen. GRATIor, Chief Engineer U.S.A.”
From this letter it appears that, with three companies of commissioners, the surveys and estimates would require two years. The bill proposes but one company; and so, I presume, it would six years before the work would begin, as the whole would have to be first surveyed. It is said, however, that, in this particular, the bill is to be amended, so as to allow three companies. It seems to me that it might be better to have more. Why not a dozen The money would be scattered along the road so much the sooner; and that, after all, I take to be the most persuasive argument in favor of the nationality of this and other roads. I hope, however, that the surveys might be completed in time for the legislatures of 1832 to act on the subject.
I have a few words to say concerning the kind of road contemplated. It will be observed that my amendment adopts the same kind, and same price, proposed in the bill. I was desirous that the principle should be fairly tested, and was unwilling that the amendment should carry heavier weight in the race. But I would not, therefore, have it understood that I am satisfied with that sort of road or that price. No, the inequality is too great. While others are to have railroads, and Macadamized roads, with stone aqueducts and magnificent bridges, 1 want something better for my country than a mudpike and corduroy causeways. The refinement of some gentlemen here perhaps may not apprehend the meaning of these terms, but no matter—I can assure them that we of the backwoods have experienced enough to understand them perfectly. My people are poor, I admit; and gentlemen seem to take it for granted that they will be thankful for small favors. Fifteen hundred dollars a mile, at most! And this is to pay for all damages to land, for graduating and shaping the road. for materials, for gravelling where necessary, and for making culverts and bridges 1 How can any gentleman believe that such a sum will answer all these purposes? It is not half enough to do the work as it ought to be; and less than three thousand dol: lars a mile ought never to have been proposed, if a good road was intended, even of second rate. Yet, the gentle
man from Virginia [Mr. MEacea) has said that, if he had
been on the Committee on Roads and Canals, he would not have been willing to report the bill with more than a thousand dollars a mile, as that was as much as we ought to have, and that fifteen hundred dollars a mile was very extravagant, indeed! And this, too, is from the same gentleman, (but not the only one,) who stated that gentlemen from other quarters ought to vote for this bill, to show their liberality and generosity towards the West I will not deny that I feel indignant when I hear such insulting mockery. In one breath we are told that the road will enrich the country, and, in the next, that a few dollars will make it. I have another objection to this bill. It neither makes any provision for the preservation of the road, after it shall have been made, nor gives us any intimation of the mode that is to be hereafter resorted to for that purpose. If this road is to be made, I wish to understand the whole concern, from the beginning. Are we to have appropriations made from year to year? Or shall we hereafter establish a system of tollgates ? Or will a surrender be made to the States ? I ask gentlemen to tell us, if they please, which of these modes is to be adopted. Are they afraid to do so I am afraid to risk it without. This physic, which is to cure the body politic, may be vitally dangerous, if we take it thus in broken doses. Sir, the manner in which this measure and its policy is to operate hereafter, is of its essence at present. If any gentleman is opposed to annual appropriations, how can he know but that mode may be adopted . If any one is in favor of a surrender to the States, has he any assurance that it will be done? If another is adverse to a toll gate system, by this Government, as most odious and dangerous, has he not evidence enough before his eyes to make him fear that this will be the favorite plan How many are prepared to leap in the dark Sir, if I had no other objection to this bill, I would scorn to vote for it with such deception stamped on its face. You offer me a road for the benefit of my people; and what then? You fix a system of tolls at what rate you please, and send your federal officers there to collect them in the federal courts, from any body and every body, if you choose, without regard to persons or business And these tolls, for anything we know, may be applied to making roads in other parts of the Union. Sir, I'desire the Legislature of Tennessee to judge of the tolls which her citizens are to pay within her borders; and, with that precaution, they will never complain of moderate tolls to keep up the road after it shall have been made. I invite attention particularly to the provisions of the amendment in relation to tolls, as containing a plan quite practical and safe. The commissioners, who will have so much else to do with this matter, and will therefore be able to perform this duty to great advantage, are, first, to report a rate of tolls to the President. He will have the different reports compared and made uniform, profiting by the suggestions of all, before he gives his sanction. The State Legislatures are afterwards to judge of these tolls, as a part of the proposition for them to accept. Approved by the commissioners, the President, and the State Legislatures, these tolls may be collected from any, part of the road, as soon as it may be fit for use, and shall be entirely applied to the preservation and improvement of the road. They will also be uniform, and cannot be changed, without the assent of Congress, so that no State may impose unreasonable tolls, or speculate on any other. What better plan for repairing the road can any gentleman devise or desire? And why might it not be adopted at once, and thus pre: vent all future controversies on this part of the subject? This Government would have the use of the road, toll free; and what more could it desire? one of my honorable colleagues, [Mr. Isacks] for whom I have much respect, seems to “halt between two opinions,” and while he contends most manfully for the power of this Government to make roads, nevertheless admits
that it cannot afterwards exercise jurisdiction over them, so as to keep them in repair. It would seem to be a pity, indeed, that a fine road should have to be abandoned to chance as soon as made. This concession is full of argument in favor of all the views which I have presented, and must lead that gentleman to adopt them, if he will preserve his own consistency. Let the powers to make and to P. be in the same Government. have endeavored to give a practical view of the bill, and of the contemplated amendment, in relation both to the making and the preservation of this road. I have compared the two plans, on the points of jurisdiction, patronage, and economy; the condemnation of lands and the rigots of turnpike companies; practicability and probability of success; the time of execution, and kind of road; tolls and repairs. In exercising my own opinion, I cannot dowbt that the amendment is decidedly preferable, in every particular wherein it differs from the bill; but every gentleman will judge and decide for himself, and I have i. with this comparison. I beg leave now to make a few remarks concerning the route of this road; but I am sensible that it would be a waste of time to detain the committee long on this point, after so much has been so ably urged concerning it by others. In estimating the general as well as comparative importance of the road, I think gentleman have gone to extremes on both sides. But I confess that my knowledge is very limited indeed as to the part of the road from this city to Buffalo; and, I must, in some degree, follow the example of others, by attending chiefly to my own end of it. These two projects, which have heretofore been separate, are this year linked together. Ooe gentleman gets up and tells us all about the ways from here to Buffalo; but as to the other end of the concern, he knows very little. Another can make us a speech for hours concerning the various routes from here to NewOrleans, while he admits that he scarcely knows any thing of the opposite end. Thus we see that the interests and motives connected with the one, have no sort of natural association with the other. And yet these two oppo. sites are united in the same picture, “a horse's head and fish's tail.” How is it, then, from here to New Orleans ? the best route It is said that more people will be accommodated by either the middle or southern route, than by the western. I admit that it must be so, if you take either the southern or middle route, and give to it all the people east of the Blue Ridge; but if you divide them, and give to each of those, routes only its own share, then, I suppose, neither would have more than properly belongs to the western route at this time. We ought, however, to look to the future; and I have no doubt that, by the time the road could be completed, the population to be accommodated by the western would exceed that of either of the other routes, and, in time, might be nearly or quite equal to both of the others. But the people on the western route would be more accommodated, in proportion to their numbers, whatever that might be, than . people east of the Blue Ridge, for various reasons. The western route lies through a newer country, in which it is natural to suppose that the roads are not as good as in an older one, if all other things were equal. The southern country also is naturally more advantageous for common roads, though less so for making well improved ones; and thus, while the western route labors under great disadvantages at present, and would, of course, be proportionally benefited, it presents greater facilities for making a first rate road. The western route would afford greater accommodatious, moreoyer, on account of the great land carriage of merchandise, which has long existed and must continue, from the cities north of this place, along that route as far as Alabama. . If this road were made south of the Blue Ridge,
it has not been pretended that it would be used for such a purpose, as merchandise would continue to pass coastwise, by water, to the southern ports, and thence, by rivers and roads, into the interior. But it has been said that the road would answer well in the South, for carrying surplus productions to the navigable rivers. If such neighborhood nationality is to be regarded in thisèase, it would answer a similar purpose on the western route, perhaps to a greater extent. The western route would be fairly commercial, from this vicinity to Alabama; but no southern route would be so regarded. For military purposes, I cannot see that a southern route would afford any very valuable facility. The natural course for supplies of troops and provisions is from the upper country to the seaboard, and not parallel with it, at a very respectful distance in the interior. That chivalry which really belongs to the South, would not, I am persuaded, recognise this as a military road, which would not lead towards the enemy. But how would the western route be in a military point of view From the Tennessee line, upper Virginia might send down supplies of troops and provisions, inferior to none, even to this place, or to others more south, by obliquing in that direction from various points. Southwest from the same Tennessee line, the road would lead directly to that part of the Union most exposed and most needing assistance; and this is true of any branch which may be selected, of the western route. ... But it has been said that our rivers supersede the necessity of this part of the road. It cannot be denied that they do, to some extent; and that our rivers must always be relied on as our principal channels for throwing military aid to the defence of the Gulf frontier, as well as for commercial purposes; and if they were properly imroved and connected, the road would be of comparativey less value, but would continue to furnish important additional facilities, in connexion with the rivers, and, sometimes, as a substitute for them. As to the mail, it is admitted by all that the advantages would be great on any of the routes. I argue, however, that the advantages on the western route would be greatest, because the southern roads are now better than the western, and most would be gained by making improve. ment where most needed, especially where the means are better for making it permanent. How much might be saved in transporting the mail is uncertain, as well as the other benefits from expedition; and every gentleman must conjecture and ealeulate for himself. I have not considered it important to make a particular comparison of distances, not regarding the differences as great enough to influence materially the final decision. When viewing this road in its military aspect, the gentle. man from Virginia [Mr. MERCER) adverted to some circumstances as connected with the defence of New Orleans. I omitted to notice his remarks in mine under the same head, and I would not now stop to retrace my steps for the purpose of setting him right, if I did not think part of what he said was too unnecessary and inaccurate, in the best view of it, to let it pass without some reply. That gentleman took occasion to step out of his way, it seemed to me, for the purpose of giving us a fact which happens to be no fact; and an o based on that unfortunate foundation, that if Colonel Thornton, who commanded the British forces on the opposite side of the Mississippi from New Orleans, had not been guilty of one of the grossest military blunders, the American forces on this side of the river must have been driven from their entrenchments, and compelled to retreat to the city, with all the consequences. That gross blunder was in not turning against our troops, on this side of the river, some of the cannon which had fallen into the British colonel's hands, at the post necessarily abandoned by Commodore Patterson, when a single piece thus turned would have accomplished the overthrow just mentioned. Sir, it may
suit the fancy or purposes of that gentleman thus unjustly to tear laurels from the brows of brave men; but I am unwilling to tarnish the reputation of even an enemy, by such a ridiculous and wanton error. It is matter of history, notorious to the very schoolboys of the country, that Commodore Patterson spiked those very cannon, when he was compelled to abandon ... and yet he is to be charged with the high criminality of neglecting his duty to do so, and the British colonel with the gross blunder of not turning one of them on his adversary, and the countervailing measures of the American commander-inchief are to be forgotten. Even if that gentleman has such a desire, he need not expect thus to extinguish or darken the glories of that day. If the comparison of routes, which others have made more at large, and I have briefly presented, be not very erroneous, (and I think it will puzzle gentlemen to show that it is so in any particular) then the inference is easy, that the western route is preferable to any southern route, on all the three great points of commerce, war, and the mail. I have given you some of my views on the best mode and the best route for making this road, and it remains to inquire whether it ought to be made in any way. There are two aspects of this part of the subject. In the one, the particular measure may be looked to as a means for promoting the efficient action of this Government in its own legitimate operations. In the other, it may be regarded as part of a system of raising and disbursing money. The first view of it is strictly governmental, which I take to be the true meaning of the term national, as applied to these subjects, as well as to all others under the action of this Government, whose powers extend only to the means “necessary and proper" to accomplish certain specified objects, with a view to general consequences. We ought to look to the uses which this Government, as such, (and not any portion of the community.) may have for a particular work, to determine its character. It is national or not, as this Government may or may not have use for it, in as much as the States and people can know nothing of this aggregate nation, except through the action of the General Government, in which alone consists the identity or nationality of this Union itself. If a work is desired for such purposes, the extent of it is entirely indifferent, and the whole of a long road used for governmental purposes is no more national than any part of it used in the same way, as a large ship of the navy is no more national than a small one. The inquiries, then, ought to be: First. What use will the Government have for the work? Second. Has it a right to apply money to such purposes? Third. Will its advantages be equal to its expenditure?. All private or local concerns are out of the question, and every gentleman should put it to his conscience to determine the case without regard to them; and, at the same time, with an eye single to the particular measure in question, as standing on its own intrinsic merits. Where the advantages of this Government, in all its legitimate operations, could be fairly estimated as worth more than the interest of the money, it might be difficult to show that it would not be a †: permanent investiture. Whether this bill presents such a case, depends on calculations of economy and security, which every gentleman must make for himself, in connexion with the ultimate extent of the work and the manner of its execution. Whenever these shall have been ascertained and fixed, then the means will be at hand for a final decision. Having said thus much of the road as a strictly governmental measure, and abstracted from others, permit me now to notice it as part of a system of raising and disbursing money. It has not been, and will not be, denied, that it is the policy of many gentlemen to raise a great
revenue for the purpose of expending, and to devise