« AnteriorContinuar »
exandria to Richmond, in the State of Virginia. It occurred to this committee that if it had been the custom, from the beginning of this government to this day, to make contracts for the transportation of the mails in four-horse post-coaches, built in a particular manner, and the contractor left to furnish his own coaches and his own horses, and his own means of transportation, we might make a similar contract for the transportation of the mails by railroad from one point to another, leaving the contractor to make his own railroad, and furnish his own cars, and comply with the terms of the contract.
There is nothing in this bill that violates any one principle which has prevailed in every mail contract that has been made, from the days of Dr. Franklin down to the elevation of James Buchanan to the presidency. Every contract for carrying the mail by horse, from such a point to such a point, in saddle-bags, involves the same principle. Every contract for carrying it from such a point to such a point in two-horse hacks, with a covering to protect it from the storm, involves the same principle. Every contract to carry it from such a point to such a point in four-horse coaches of a particular description, involves the same principle. You contracted to carry the mails from New York to Liverpool in ships of two thousand tons each, to be constructed according to a model prescribed by the Navy Department, leaving the contractor to furnish his own ships, and receive so much pay. That involves the same principle.
You have, therefore, carried out the principle of this bill in every contract you have ever had for mails, whether it be upon the land or upon the water. In every mail contract you have had, you have carried out the identical principle involved in this bill-simply the right to contract for the transportation of the United States mails, troops, munitions of war, army and navy supplies, at fair prices, in the manner you prescribed, leaving the contracting party to furnish the mode and means of transportation. That is all there is in it. I do not see how it can violate any party creed; how it can violate any principle of state-rights; how it can interfere with any man's conscientious scruples. Then, sir, where is the objection?
If you look on this as a measure of economy and a commercial measure, the argument is all in favor of the bill. It is true, the senator from Massachusetts has suggested that it is idle to suppose that the trade of China is to centre in San Francisco, and then pay sixty dollars a ton for transportation across the continent by a railroad to Boston. It was very natural that he should indicate Boston, as my friend from Georgia might, perhaps, have thought of Savannah, or my friend from South Carolina might have indicated Charleston, or the senator from Louisiana might have indicated New Orleans. But I, living at the head of the great lakes, would have made the computation from Chicago, and my friend from Missouri would have thought it would have been very well, perhaps, to take it from St. Louis. When you
are making this computation, I respectfully submit you must make the calculation from the sea-board to the centre of the continent, and not charge transportation all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific; for suppose you do not construct this road, and these goods come by ship to Boston, it will cost something to take them by railroad to Chicago, and a little more to take them by railroad to the Missouri River, half way back to San Francisco again. If you select the centre of the continent, the great heart and centre of the Republic-the Mississippi Valley-as the point at which you are to concentrate your trade, and from which it is to diverge, you will find that the transportation of it by railroad would not be much greater from San Francisco than from Boston. It would be nearly the same from the Pacific that it is from the Atlantic; and the calculation must be made in that point of view. There is the centre of consumption, and the centre of those great products that are sent abroad in all quarters to pay for articles imported. The
centre of production, the centre of consumption, the future centre of the population of the continent, is the point to which, and from which, your calculation should be made.
Then, sir, if it costs sixty dollars per ton for transportation from San Francisco to Boston by railroad, half way you may say it will cost thirty dollars The result, then, of coming from San Francisco to the centre by railroad would be to save transportation by ship from San Francisco to Boston, in addition to the railroad transportation into the interior.
But, sir, I dissent from a portion of the gentleman's argument, so far as it relates to the transportation even from San Francisco to Boston. I admit that heavy articles of cheap value and great bulk would go by ship, that being the cheapest mode of communication; but light articles, costly articles, expensive articles, those demanded immediately, and subject to decay from long voyages and delays, would come directly across by railroad, and what you would save in time would be more than the extra expense of the transportation. You must add to that the risk of the tropics, which destroys many articles, and the process which is necessary to be gone through with to prepare articles for the sea-voyage is to be taken into the account. I have had occasion to witness that evil in one article of beverage very familiar to you all. Let any man take one cup of tea that came from China to Russia overland, without passing twice under the equator, and he will never be reconciled to a cup of tea that has passed under the equator. The genuine article, that has not been manipulated and prepared to pass under the equator, is worth tenfold more than that which we receive here. Preparation is necessary to enable it to pass the tropics, and the long, damp voyage makes as much difference in the article of tea as the difference between a green apple and a dried apple, green corn and dried corn, sent abroad. So you will find it to be with fruits; so it will be with all the expensive and precious articles, and especially those liable to decay and to injury, either by exposure to a tropical climate or to the moisture of a long sea-voyage.
Then, sir, in a commercial point of view, this road will be of vast importance. There is another consideration that I will allude to for a moment. It will extend our trade more than any other measure that you can devise, certainly more than any one that you now have in contemplation. The people are all anxious for the annexation of Cuba as soon as it can be obtained on fair and honorable terms-and why? In order to get the small, pitiful trade of that island. We all talk about the great importance of Central America in order to extend our commerce; it is valuable to the extent it goes. But Cuba, Central America, and all the islands surrounding them put together, are not a thousandth part of the value of the great East India trade that would be drawn first to our western coast, and then across to the Valley of the Mississippi, if this railroad be constructed. Sir, if we intend to extend our commerce-if we intend to make the great ports of the world tributary to our wealth, we must prosecute our trade eastward or westward, as you please; we must penetrate the Pacific, its islands, and its continent, where the great mass of the human family reside-where the articles that have built up the powerful nations of the world have always come from. That is the direction in which we should look for the expansion of our commerce and of our trade. That is the direction our public policy should take-a direction that is facilitated by the great work now proposed to be made.
I care not whether you look at it in a commercial point of view, as a matter of administrative economy at home, as a question of military defense, or in reference to the building up of the national wealth, and power, and glory; it is the great measure of the age-a measure that in my opinion has been postponed too long—and I frankly confess to you that I regard the postponement to next December to mean till after the next presidential election. No
man hopes or expects, when you have not time to pass it in the early spring, at the long session, that you are going to consider it at the short session. When you come here at the next session, the objection will be that you must not bring forward a measure of this magnitude, because it will affect the political relations of parties, and it will be postponed then, as it was two years ago, to give the glory to the incoming administration, each party probably thinking that it would have the honor of carrying out the measure. Hence, sir, I regard the proposition of postponement till December to mean till after the election of 1860.
I desire to see all the pledges made in the last contest redeemed during this term, and let the next president, and the parties under him, redeem the pledges and obligations assumed during the next campaign. The people of all parties at the last presidential election decreed that this road was to be made. The question is now before us. We have time to consider it. We have all the means necessary, as much now as we can have at any other time. The senator from Massachusetts intimates that, the treasury being bankrupt now, we can not afford the money. That senator also remarked that we were just emerging from a severe commercial crisis—a great commercial revulsion-which had carried bankruptcy in its train. If we have just emerged from it, if we have passed it, this is the very time of all others when a great enterprise should be begun. It might have been argued when we saw that crisis coming, before it reached us, that we should furl our sails and trim our ship for the approaching storm; but when it has exhausted its rage, when all the mischief has been done that could be inflicted, when the bright sun of day is breaking forth, when the sea is becoming calm, and there is but little visible of the past tempest, when the nausea of sea-sickness is succeeded by joyous exhilaration, inspired by the hope of a fair voyage, let men feel elated and be ready to commence a great work like this, so as to complete it before another commercial crisis or revulsion shall come upon us.
Sir, you pass this bill, no money can be expended under it until one section of the road has been made. The surveys must be completed, the route must be located, the land set aside and surveyed, and a section of the road made, before a dollar can be drawn from the treasury. If you can pass the bill now, it can not make any drain on the treasury for at least two years to come; and who doubts that all the effects of the late crisis will have passed away before the expiration of those two years.
Mr. President, this is the auspicious time, either with a view to the interests of the country, or to that stagnation which exists between political parties, which is calculated to make it a measure of the country rather than a partisan measure, or to the commercial and monetary affairs of the nation, or with reference to the future. Look upon it in any point of view, now is the time; and I am glad that the senator from Louisiana has indicated, as I am told he has, that the motion for postponement is a test question; for I confess I shall regard it as a test vote on a Pacific railroad during this term, whatever it may be in the future. I hope that we shall pass the bill now.
THE CAMPAIGN OF 1858.
THE reader who has given attention to those pages of this book relating to the Lecompton controversy in Congress will of course be informed of many of the events connected with and leading to the most memorable election held in the State of Illinois during the year 1858. To many persons, however, it will be serviceable that, before entering upon the description of the contest of that year, a brief repetition of some leading facts, and a detailed history of others, should be given now.
When the announcement was made by telegraph from St. Louis that Mr. John Calhoun and his associates in the Lecompton Convention had, for the purpose of securing for their monstrosity a legal substance which it could never obtain at the hands of the people, wantonly and wickedly resolved to declare the Lecompton Constitution as already made, and waiting only the sanction of Congress to erect it as the government of the people of the unfortunate Territory, there was in all Illinois a universal expression of indignation. Calhoun had for many years been an active Democrat in the central part of the state, and he was believed to be a man who, whatever other failings and imperfections he might have, would never consent, under any circumstances, to embarrass or injure his party friends by rash or unjustifiable political action. In short, he was esteemed by all as a "safe and reliable" man, who could not be seduced, under any state of things, to do political acts, the effect of which was to destroy, or, to say the least, embarrass and place his party in a most unenviable position before the country. For many days those who had a personal acquaintance with the "Lord President," as he was subsequently styled by the papers of the state, declined giving credit to the reports of the action of the convention, but these doubts were but of short duration; letters from a number of persons in the Territory, and from Calhoun himself, soon removed all question, not only as to the action of the convention, but also as to the full participation of Calhoun in the iniquitous proceedings.
From one end of the state to the other, the Democratic newspaper press immediately and determinedly denounced the action of the convention, and of the daring attempt by Calhoun and his associates to defraud the people of Kansas of a sacred right; to violate the entire spirit of the Kansas-Nebraska Act; to repudiate the saving and most peculiar principle of the Cincinnati platform; to disregard and contemptuously set aside the peremptory and pointed instructions of Mr. Buchanan, and the earnest advice and appeals of Governor Walker. In the very expressive language of Mr. Buchanan, no Democrat in Illinois "had any serious doubt" but that the convention would submit the Constitution to the people, and each Democrat in the state felt that the convention, in utterly scorning and repudiating the instructions of Mr. Buchanan to Governor Walker, had sought, through pure wantonness, to treat the instructions of the venerable President as the " fogyism" of old age. The Chicago Times, Springfield Register, Quincy Herald, Galena Courier, Peoria News, and Alton Democratthe daily Democratic papers of the state-without any previous consultation or understanding, simultaneously, and with all their power, proclaimed the indignant feeling of the Democracy in their respective localities, and called upon the party to take immediate action, by meetings and resolutions, to sustain Mr. Buchanan and the Cincinnati platform against the cowardly and insolent attempt on the part of the Lecompton Convention to treat both with sovereign contempt. The weekly Democratic press of the state followed with great unanimity, and within ten days from the receipt of the first intelligence of the action of the Lecompton Convention, Illinois, speaking through the Democratic press, had become unanimously pledged to the support and defense of the President in his ef forts to preserve the Cincinnati platform pure and inviolate. No Democrat in Illinois believed the silly slander of a Northern senator, that "the administration was a little weak in the knees;" and all relied implicitly that the policy of the government, so clearly and emphatically enunciated in the speeches of Governor Walker and in his instructions from the hand of General Cass, would be carried out to the last extremity, thereby vindicating the power and majesty of the great principle embraced in the Kansas-Nebraska Act, so cordially and unanimously ratified and adopted by the Democracy at Cincinnati.