« VorigeDoorgaan »
disposition of the Spaniards on one hand and the private views of some individuals, coinciding with the general policy of the Court of Great Britain on the other, to retain as long as possible the posts of Detroit, Niagara, and Oswego (which, though done under the letter of the treaty, is certainly an infraction of the spirit of it, and ruinous to the Union), may be improved to the greatest advantage by this State, if she would open the avenues to the trade of that country, and embrace the present moment to establish it. It only wants a beginning. The western inhabitants would do their part toward its execution. Weak as they are, they would meet us at least half way, rather than be driven into the arms of foreigners, or be made dependent upon them, which would eventually either bring on a separation of them from us, or a war between the United States and one or the other of those powers, most probably with the Spaniards.
The preliminary steps to the attainment of this great object would be attended with very little expense, and might, at the same time that it served to attract the attention of the western country, and convince the wavering inhabitants of our disposition to connect ourselves with them, and facilitate their commerce with us, be a means of removing those jealousies, which otherwise might take place among ourselves. These, in my opinion, are, to appoint commissioners, who, from their situation, integrity, and abilities, can be under no suspicion of prejudice or predilection to one part more than another. Let these commissioners make an actual survey of James River, and the Potomac from the tide-water to their respective sources; note with great accuracy the kind of navigation and obstructions, the difficulty and expense attending the removal of these obstructions, the distances from place to place through their whole extent, and the nearest and best portage between these waters and the streams capable of improvement, which run into the Ohio; traverse these in like manner to their junction with the Ohio, and with equal accuracy. The navigation of the Ohio being well known, they will have less to do in the examination of it; but, nevertheless, let the courses and distances be taken to the mouth of the Muskingum, and up that
and thence to Detroit. Let them do the same with Big Beaver Creek, although part of it is in the State of Pennsylvania, and also with the Scioto.
In a word, let the waters east and west of the Ohio, which invite our notice by their proximity and by the ease with which land transportation may be had between them and the Lakes on one side, and the Rivers Potomac and James on the other, be explored, accurately delineated, and a correct and connected map of the whole be presented to the public.
These things being done, I shall be mistaken if prejudice does not yield to facts, jealousy to candor, and, finally, if reason and nature, thus aided, do not dictate what is right and proper to be done.
In the meanwhile, if it should be thought that the lapse of time, which is necessary to effect this work, may be attended with injurious consequences, could not there be a sum of money granted toward opening the best, or, if it should be deemed more eligible, two of the nearest communications (one to the north ward and another to the southward) with the settlements to the westward ; and an act be passed, if there should not appear a manifest disposition in the Assembly to make it a public undertaking, to incorporate and encourage private adventurers, if any should associate and so. licit the same, for the purpose of extending the navigation of the Potomac or James River; and, in the former case, to request the concurrence of Maryland in the measure? It will appear from my statement of the different routes (and as far as my means of information have extended I have done it with the utmost candor) that all produce of the settlements about Fort Pitt can be brought to Alexandria by the Youghiogheny in three hundred and four miles, whereof only thirty-one are land transportation, and by the Monongahela and Cheat Rivers in three hundred and sixty miles, twenty of which only are land carriage. Whereas the common road from Fort Pitt to Philadelphia is three hundred and twenty miles, all land transportation; or four hundred and seventy-six miles, if the Ohio, Toby's Creek, Susquehanna, and Schuylkill are know not, but from the nature of the country it must be very considerable. How much the interest and feelings of people thus circumstanced would be engaged to promote it requires no illustration. For my own part, I think it highly probable that, upon the strictest scrutiny, if the Falls of the Great Kenhawa can be made navigable, or a short portage be had there, it will be found of equal importance and convenience to improve the navigation of both the James and Potomac. The latter, I am fully persuaded, affords the nearest communication with the Lakes; but James River may be more convenient for all the settlers below the mouth of the Great Kenhawa, and for some distance perhaps above and west of it; for I have no expectation that any part of the trade above the Falls of the Ohio will go down that river and the Mississippi, much less that the returns will ever come up them, unless our want of foresight and good management is the occasion of it. Or, upon trial, if it should be found that these rivers, from the before-mentioned Falls, will admit the descent of seavessels, in that case, and the navigation of the former becoming free, it is probable that both vessels and cargoes will be carried to foreign markets and sold; but the returns for them will never in the natural course of things ascend the long and rapid current of that river, which, with the Ohio to the Falls, in their meanderings, is little, if any thing, short of two thousand miles. Upon the whole, the object, in my estimation, is of vast commercial and political importance. In this light I think posterity will consider it, and regret if our conduct should give them cause, that the present favorable moment to secure so great a blessing for them was neglected.
One thing more remains which I had like to have forgotten, and that is, the supposed difficulty of obtaining a passage through the State of Pennsylvania. How an application to its legislature would be relished, in the first instance, I will not undertake to decide, but of one thing I am almost certain, such an application would place that body in a very delicate situation. There are in the State of Pennsylvania at least one hundred thousand souls west of the Laurel Hill, who are groaning under the inconveniences of a long land trans
can not be made easy for them to Philadelphia (at any rate it must be long), they will seek a mart elsewhere, the consequence of which would be, that the State, though contrary to the interests of its sea-ports, must submit to the loss of se much of its trade, or hazard not only the loss of the trade, but the loss of the settlement also ; for an opposition on the part of government to the extension of water transportation, so consonant with the essential interests of a large body of people, or any extraordinary impositions upon the exports or imports to or from another State, would ultimately bring on a separation between its eastern and western settlements, toward which there is not wanting a disposition at this moment in that part of it beyond the mountains. I consider Rumsey's discovery for working boats against the stream, by mechanical powers principally, as not only a very fortunate invention for these States in general, but as one of those circumstances which have combined to render the present time favorable above all others for fixing, if we are disposed to avail ourselves of them, a large portion of the trade of the western country in the bosom of this State irrevocably.
Long as this letter is, I intended to have written a fuller and more digested one, upon this important subject, but have met with so many interruptions since my return home, as almost to have precluded my writing at all. What I now give is crude; but if you are in sentiment with me, I have said enough ; if there is not an accordance of opinion I have said too much, and all I pray in the latter case is, that you will do me the justice to believe my motives are pure, however erroneous my judgment may be in this matter, and that I am, with the most perfect esteem and friendship,
Dear sir, yours, etc.,
AN EXPLANATION OF THE MAP WHICH DELINEATES THAT PART OF THE
FEDERAL LANDS COMPREUENDED BETWEEN PENNSYLVANIA WEST LINE,
New York, October 28, 1787. Having attentively perused the following pamphlet, describing part of the western territory of the United States, I do Certify, that the facts therein relater, respecting the fertility of the soil, productions, and general advantages of settlement, etc., are judicious, just, and true, and correspond with observations made by me during my residence of upward of ten years in that country.
THOMAS HUTCHINS, Geographer of the United States.
AN EXPLANATION, ETC. The great river Ohio is formed by the confluence of Monongahela and the Alleghany, in the State of Pemusylvania, about 290 miles west of the city of Philadelphia, and about 20 miles east of the western line of that State. In the common traveling road, the former distance is computed at 320 miles; and, by the windings and oblique direction of the Ohio, the latter is reckoned about 12. These two sources of the Ohio are large, navigable streams; the former, flowing from the southeast, leaves but 30 miles portage from the navigable waters of the Potomac, in Virginia ; the latter opens a passage from the north-east, and rises not far from the head-waters of the Susquehanna. The State of Pennsylvania has already adopted the plan of opening a navigation from the Alleghany River to the city of Philadelphia, through the Susquehanna and the Delaware. In this route, there will be a portage of only 24 miles. On the junction of these rivers, or at the head of the Ohio,