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of Moro, appointed, in 1832, surveyor under Garay, who had obtained the right of way from Mexico, for fifty years, and the property in all the lands for thirty miles on either side--the passage to be opened to all nations, and considered neutral ground. The Spanish engineer conceives the whole extent of the Guascecualco may be rendered navigable by artificial means, and without exhorbitant cost. He proposes also to remove the bar on the Pacific entrance, and estimates the whole expense of the canal 85,000,000 francs-less than $20,000,000. We have prepared the following map from the charts of Moro:
The Isthmus of Tehuantepec,
SURVEYS OF SIGNOR MORO,
Mexican Engineer, 1844.
The late Vice President, Geo. M. Dallas, strongly advocated the Tehuantepec route, in an able and elaborate paper, and suggested the importance of a clause in the treaty of peace with Mexico, securing to us forever the right of way. The Mexicans, it is understood, would not listen to this, though it is likely, as they can never hope to make the improvement themselves, they would, upon some more suitable occasion, readily make the concession.
In regard to the canal communication it is difficult to pronounce an opinion. The Americans would never undertake it, we think, unless--which is hardly to be expected, at least for half a century—the territories were ours, or unless an overland communication across our present
possessions were found impracticable. Would the British? And this too, must depend upon the chances of our railroad, as above hinted at. If ihat succeeds, of course the Isthmus canal would be unnecessary, and we opine that one would require as long to build as the other. But this is anticipating. When the American continent becomes as densely populous as Europe, these, and many other connections, may all be in successful operation together.
Let us now pass to the various projected railroad routes across the continent. They are-
1. Across Panama--the Aspin walls. 2. Aross Tehuantepec-Mr. Hargous. 3. Tampico to Mazatlan. 4. Natchez to Mazatlan-Mr. Patterson's. 5. Galveston to San Diego-Gen. Houston. 6. St. Louis to San Francisco-Mr, Benton's.* 7. Lake Michigan to Oregon and San Francisco—Mr. Whitney. 8. Memphis to San Diego, Monterey, or San Francisco.
Of these, the first four are either wholly, or in part, through foreign territory and the remainder entirely through our own. We take them in order.
1. Panama RailroAD. At the last session of Congress considerable excitement prevailed in regard to the proposition of Mr. Aspinwall and others to construct this road, on consideration of a contract from Government, to carry the mails, troops and government stores, for ten years, at $250,000 per annum. The road to be guaranteed complete in three years, and to charge Americans no more than 83 each, for passage, and $8 per ton, freight. These rates to be reduced after the first five years to $5 each, and three-fourths of the road to be owned by citizens of the United States.
Able speeches were made in the Senate, by Messrs. Benton, Douglass, Clayton, Webster and Dayton, in advocacy of the scheme, and by Downs, Niles, Allen, Butler, Davis and Foote, in opposition. We give some extracts from the debate, as possessing great interest.
Mr. Benton said : “ It is therefore a temporary road for us--not temporary for other nations—but for us it is a temporary road across the Isthmus of Panama, as a step toward the accomplishment of this great design which Mr. Jefferson conceived, and for the accomplishment of which I have been collecting information and studying details for thirty years; and I intend at a proper time to bring in a bill, with those details, for commencing the location and construction of the road. With this explanation of my views of the projected route across the isthmus of Panama, that we are to use as a temporary route, it will be seen that the first thing we have got to do is to go about it at once-to do it immediately, or the whole object is lost. I am for no permanent road outside of my country. I am for no permanent road for America, either across the isthmus of Darien, Tehuantepec, or anywhere else. I am only for a temporary measure, with respect to any route, sir; but I take that one which can be got first, and which will answer our purposes better than any
* A memorial was presented, al last Congress, to carry the mail between these two points by express, on the part of W. A. Bradley, and others, and reported on by Mr. Bell and Senator Rusk.
We rend, also, in the Railroad Journal, the memorial to Congress, of Bayard, praying aid in constructing a railroad from St. Louis, intersecting the Rio Grande, Red and Gila rivers; and one from Dennis Keenan, Jr., proposing a railroad and magnetic telegraph, from Point Isabel, Texas, to the Pacific. Truly is this an age of enterprise.
other. If we undertake to institute comparisons between different routes, even if we have a legal and political right to do so, why, sir, the very object for which I want a road outside of our own country is lost. I want it, sir, directly. I want it for present use ; and if we have to wait, why, sir, we may as well throw up the whole, and wait for our own. I have no idea, sir, of doing anything permanent outside of our country-no idea of going into expenses, or bargains, or arrangeinents, which are to keep me outside of my own country one moment beyond the time that we are able to finish our road."
Mr. Webster said:
“I have a strong disposition to think the measure is a proper one. The extraordinary circumstances of the country call for it. There is nothing in those circumstances likely to make them so short-lived and temporary, as that within a year or two, or any number of years, we may justly apprehend and consider that this work will not be necessary; and I repeat again, that if there were a proposi. tion at the same time for the other work, if it were in as advanced a state as this, and we were to have but one, I should give the preference to the other; and I fully believe both are to be accomplished, and still other modes of communication are to be established across our own territory, without any occasion to enter the territories of other countries."
Mr. Clayton said:
“This is to be an American road. It will have that character abroad, do what you may. American citizens are entrusted with the construction of it. Well, if this work is to be, and be called an American work, I desire that it should be a road worthy of the American name; and in my opinion the American government should, within its constitutional sphere, aid, as far as it can, individual enterprise in making a road worthy of the American character. I do not want a road attempted there by individuals and carried on by piecemeal, commencing with a railroad of a few miles, and perhaps ending for some years to come with a plank or a mule road, I desire that the improvement should go on continuously and in the shortest practical time. And pow allow me one general remark in regard to the sum to be expended. I would aid, as far as the constitutional power of the government will enable us to do it, in making a road from the Mississippi river to the Pacific, or a road across the isthmus of Tehuantepec, as I design to aid in the construction of the road proposed by this bill; and whatever the cost of a passage by canal or railroad across to the Pacific on either isthmus may be, whether two millions, two and a half millions, six millions, twenty millions, or even fifty millions, I say, sir, that the wit of man cannot find any other mode of expending the same amount of money as much for the benefit of this country and of the whole human family. And I repeat that I do think that, in the middle of the nineteenth century, it is a disgrace to the government that nothing has yet been attempted with success to save our commerce the dangerous navigation of nine thousand miles around the cape. I take the proposition now before us because it is practi. cable. I would not delay the work from year to year and from day to day. If we can, by expending the sum of two and a half millions of dollars, or less, accomplish so great an object, I say for one that I am willing to authorize the expenditure.”
The objections to the bill were strongly urged—that it was a contribution indirectly for internal improvements; that the monopoly would be in violation of the treaty with Grenada, making the passage free; that the amount to be paid by government would itself build the road; that the consideration offered by the company was inadequate; that it would be unfortunate for the government to be bound down so long a time to a route far beyond our own country; that the steamers to Chagres must enter the Carribean, an enemy's sea, perhaps, and have their coal depots at Jamaica; that it is far less desirable, and not more practicable, than the Tehuantepec route, etc., etc.
* It was understood that this was a mere question of time, and the Aspinwalls would build the road in ten years, whether they had the government contract, or not.
Mr. Underwood said :
“Now, sir I have given you these speculations and these data, and if there be any thing in them at all, it is very manifest that it is to be the most profitable route for the investment of capital on the face of the earth. There is to be nothing like it. It is to transcend every other railroad that has been constructed. And what, then, are you doing. It is a contribution on the part of the government-a departure from all the principles of the constitution—io make millionaires of the members of this company. That, sir, is your bill. I believe it was sugo gested that it was an extra-territorial improvement. So much the worse for me; so much the better for my argument, but worse for my feelings. I want to improve my own country. I want to make a railroad—one or two, if you please across the valley of the Mississippi to the Pacific; but I want it in our own country, if I can get it. I will not object to this, if you will place it on a basis by which I can see that we get an equivalent for the money which we pay; but I will not give a cent-I am too democratic for that—by way of exclusive privileges to a favored few. With the views I have taken of this matter, based on the figures which I have read, and looking at what the government will give under this act, and what individuals must pay, it must be the most profitable investment on the face of the earth. To this bill, then, sir, I am altogether opposed. I am further opposed to it, because we have not the data upon which to act, and because I believe that this thing has taken a step which it should not have taken."
2. TEHUANTEFEC RAILROAD. This was a proposition of Mr. Har. gous, of New York, who has a grant for fifty years from Mexico to build the road—that Republic to impose no taxes upon travelers or imposts, to allow foreigners to acquire real estate and exercise all trades, except mining, for fifty leagues on either side of the road. But we adopt the words of the memorial:
6. From these surveys it is established that the entire distance from sea to sea is one hundred and thirty-five miles, in a straight line, and presents a wide plain from the mouth of the Guascecualco to the port of the Meza de Tarifa, a table or elevated plain on the line of the Andes, which rises to the height of six hundred an fifty feet above the level of the sea, and at the distance of five miles again descends to a plain which reaches the Pacific. The summit level to be overcome is only six hundred and fifty feet. Thirty miles of the river Coatzacoalcos are navigable for ships of the largest class, and fifteen miles beyond this for vessels of light draught, leaving only about one hundred and fifteen miles of railroad to be made. It would occupy too much space to enumerate all the details of these surveys, and which go to show so strongly how easily a railroad can be constructed across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. It is sufficient to say that the absolute practicability has been clearly ascertained.?
“ In other respects it affords great facilities for construction. The entire course of the Guascecualco is bounded by forests, which can supply immense quantities of the proper kind of timber suitable for the construction of a railroad, and all of which is, by the terms of the grant, the property of the company undertaking the construction of the road. Limestone, strong clay, asphaltum, and building stone of the best quality, suitable for bridges where necessary, are placed as if purposely by Nature, all along the direction of this route.
The Zapotecos and other Indians can be found in quite sufficient numbers to carry on the work, and at those points where foreign labor is indispensable, the temperature is such as to allow them to pursue their labor without either inconvenience or injury to their health. The climate, though warm, is healthy. The natives are mild, submissive, and tractable. There are ample sources whence to obtain a stock of domestic animals and beasts of burden. Throughout the whole line secured by the grant, as well for the purposes of a communication across the isthmus as for the settlement of the country by foreigners, all the productions of the equatorial and temperate fegions are found in the greatest abundance;' for the valley of the isthmus produces the former, and on ascending to the more elevated country bordering on the valley, the climate of the temperate zone is found there, as well as its productions. At each end of the railroad are suitable places for fine harbors, as well as to depth, size, and security from storms. It is true, there is a bar at the mouth of the Guascecualco. By different navigators the water has been sounded
and from twelve to eighteen feet have been found on it at low water.
Commodore Perry, in his survey in 1847, found twelve feet. At a small pass at the entrance of the ocean, on the Pacific side, there is at low water seven feet. Your petitioner, however, is convinced, from the character of the obstructions, that they can, at a small expense of time and money, be removed easily, and will then open an entrance for vessels of large size into ports equal to any in the world. He is prepared to show this to the satisfaction of your honorable body.
"Such are some of the physical advantages connected with this route. There are others, however, no less important. The distance from the mouth of the Mississippi to San Francisco by the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is 3,294 miles, by the Isthmus of Panama 5,000--thus showiug that the route by the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is 1,706 miles shorter than by Panama. The distance from New York by the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is 4,744 miles, by the Isthmus of Panama 5,8584 making the route by Tehuantepec from New York to San Francisco 1,104 miles shorter than by the Isthmus of Panama."
Mr. Foote offered the following remarks and table: “From New York to Chagres and the mouth of the Guascecualco river, the distance will be about the same for steam vessels; but that for sail vessels, the route to Chagres is much the longest, as a vessel might have to go outside of Cuba, St. Domingo, and Jamaica, in order to get into the current controlled by the trade winds; that the Panama route strikes the Pacific ocean some twelve hundred miles (more or less) more distant from California than the terminus on the Pacific of the Tehuantepec route; that the Tehuantepec route passes through a healthy country, whilst the Panama route traverses a region confessedly more sickly than any in North America besides; that from New Orleans it is 650 miles further to Chagres, than to Guascecualco; that the marine route to the eastern terminus of the Tehuantepec route is altogether in the Gulf of Mexico, whereas the Chagres route is outside of all the West India islands (a highly important consideration in time of war); that the soundings on the bar at Guascecualco are, according to the highest authority, at most seasons of the year, from 18 to 20 feet, and never lower than 12 feet 3 inches, with a tide of two feet; that distinguished English engineers have reported that $3,000,000 will be necessary to make a safe and convenient port at Tainon bay; that at Panama, vessels cannot approach nearer than three miles, and a pier will have to be constructed about that distance; whereas, at Boca Barra, where the Tehuantepec route is to terminate on the Pacific, there is a fine port; and, finally, that the following table (which I request to be read) may be fully relied on in all respects :
Distance in nauti
Distance via the
isthmus of To.
12,390 3,330 9,060
15,540 11,950 3,590
New York to Boca Barra, round Cape Horn, crossing
the line in long, 260 W., Rio Janeiro, Valparaiso, Cal
lao and Boca Barra,.. New York to Canton, by the Atlantic and Indian oceans,
crossing the line in long. 26° W., going to lat 410 S., and eastward to long. of St Paul's, and thence by the
straits of Sunda,... New Orleans to Boca Barra, round Cape Horn, to St.
Thomas, Rio Janeiro, Valparaiso, Callao and Boca
Mississippi, up the Missouri, and across the Rocky
Mountains, (Note. This has a land journey of 900 miles, full of
difficulties.) New York to the Columbia river,...