Documenting the American South Logo

The Numbers of Carlton,
Addressed to the People of North Carolina,
on a Central Rail-Road Through the State.
The Rights of Freemen is an Open Trade:

Electronic Edition.

Caldwell, Joseph, 1773-1835

Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services
supported the electronic publication of this title.

Text transcribed by Apex Data Services, Inc.
Image scanned by Tampathia Evans
Text encoded by Apex Data Services, Inc., Bryan Sinche and Natalia Smith
First edition, 2001
ca. 450K
Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,

        © This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.

Source Description:
(title page) The Numbers of Carlton, Addressed to the People of North Carolina, on a Central Rail-Road Through the State. The Rights of Freemen is an Open Trade 232 p.

Call number CC385 C28 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

        The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-CH digitization project, Documenting the American South.
        The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original. The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
        Original grammar, punctuation, and spelling have been preserved. Encountered typographical errors have been preserved, and appear in red type.
        All footnotes are inserted at the point of reference within paragraphs.
        Any hyphens occurring in line breaks have been removed, and the trailing part of a word has been joined to the preceding line.
        All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
        All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as " and " respectively.
        All single right and left quotation marks are encoded as ' and ' respectively.
        All em dashes are encoded as --
        Indentation in lines has not been preserved.
        Running titles have not been preserved.
        Spell-check and verification made against printed text using Author/Editor (SoftQuad) and Microsoft Word spell check programs.

Library of Congress Subject Headings, 21st edition, 1998

Languages Used:

LC Subject Headings:

Revision History:




Page 3


No. I.

        THE people of North Carolina have for some years past evinced a disposition to facilitate the means of commercial intercourse, both foreign and domestic. It is an object in which they have felt themselves so deeply interested, that no small sums have been already expended for its accomplishment. The rivers Yadkin, Cape Fear, Neuse, Tar, and Roanoke, all witness, by the works commenced, and the moneys disbursed, that such a wish has been alive in the public mind: and so well known are the many other attestations of it, that to be particular in their enumeration is unnecessary. It is practical proof that they have been deeply sensible of the disadvantages of their situation, and they have been watchful of the methods practicable for their removal. If there have been dissenting minds, it was not because the object was not deemed most important to our individual and national prosperity, but that they could not think the time yet arrived, when our strength was competent to the attainment of our wishes. Unhappily, whatever may have been the cause, a vast proportion of our enterprises for internal improvement have proved either partially or totally abortive. Had it been uniformly otherwise--had the plans adopted been invariably successful--

Page 4

there is every reason to believe that by this time, public spirit would have been as conspicuous a distinction in the people of this state, as it has been in other parts of our country. But when, after making provisions for an undertaking here, and another there, it was presently found that they utterly failed of their objects, what was to be expected but that even their earnest friends would be damped and disheartened? They saw that funds, which in consequence of limited opportunities and resources, had been with difficulty procured, instead of answering their purposes, were expended ineffectually, and that the works begun with sanguine hopes and promises, soon terminated in little or nothing.

        To every people, flourishing as their condition and resources may be, it is ever of moment to the most rapid progress of their prosperity, that their treasury be judiciously directed, and efficaciously applied; but to a people like ourselves, who have to contend with many difficulties both by sea and land, from the very nature of our country, as well as the sparseness of our population, it is quite essential that the funds raised by taxation or voluntary contribution, be not wasted or lavished in ineffectual operations. Whatever these funds may be, if they be not sufficient for large and extensive undertakings, there are possibly others to which they will be competent, or they should be augmented with economy and care till a reasonable assurance is attained that they will complete some public enterprise, which shall continue afterwards to give unequivocal proofs of its value to the amount of the expenditure.

        If it be said that in regard to public works this cannot be the case, and that they are not reducible to such certainty as this, the position is denied and is untenable. Fact has shown, and it is continually proving, that public works can be calculated with sufficient precision, both as

Page 5

to the means of carrying them on, and the expense necessary. Even the great western canal of New-York differed but little in the actual expenditure from the estimated cost. But the difference was found ultimately to be, in its costing less than the sum previously calculated. With such a mistake we may well suppose the people were not likely to be dissatisfied. When they engage in an enterprise, they have a right to know from the perfect honesty and ability of their agents and representatives, how much money will be sufficient, in what time it must be raised, and what are to be the advantages, that they may choose freely and with a sound discretion, whether they will engage in it or not.

        It is too common far architects and engineers to act upon the principle that the people ought not to be informed at first of all the amount of expense, and all the difficulties of a public undertaking, lest they be deterred by an apprehension that they are insurmountable. Such men tell us that it is best, if possible, to exhibit calculations somewhat less in the result than may be requisite, that the people being once induced to commence and continue till the work is two-thirds or three-fourths advanced towards its accomplishment, they may be under the necessity of supplying the rest, that what has been already expended may not be wholly lost. This differs little, if any thing, from absolute knavery, though such as practise it may plead, that it is deceiving men for their own good. In the end, the consequence is totally the reverse. It is so far from tending to the public good, that it is pernicious in the extreme; it threatens to extinguish that generous public spirit which it is of the utmost consequence should live in the bosoms of every people. When they have been two or three times thus deceived, they feel the imposition to be an abuse of their confidence, and an insult to their understandings,

Page 6

and it will be difficult, if not impossible, to avert the consequences of their indignation, in a total dereliction of all attempts at public improvement. They adopt the maxim in elections, that men of information and ability are dangerous men, and that they ought not to be chosen because they have too much sense. If it be good sense in a public agent, whether he be a member of the House of Commons, a Senator, a Commissioner or an Engineer, to hurry into action without information first obtained; if it be good sense in any one of them to recommend and begin an enterprise without taking the pains to obtain full and satisfactory and certain knowledge of its nature, means and expense; in short, if it be good sense for an agent of the people, after becoming fully informed, to delude his constituents into measures, by artfully concealing from them a part of the difficulty and expense, and by magnifying the advantages beyond all reality, because being thus deceived, they may engage in it, whereas if they knew the whole truth, they would not, then the rule upon which the people sometimes come to act in elections is a correct rule. It shows their wisdom in the appointment of public functionaries; a wisdom far superior to any which such commoners, Senators, Commissioners, or Engineers, have any pretensions to claim. A man of such sense as has been just now described, ought to be shunned, and not to be trusted. In reality, however, this is so far from good sense in an agent or a representative, that it is directly the contrary. In a popular government like ours, it is the object of representation to secure knowledge, ability, and honesty; and whatever some may think, or wish, or persuade, the last of the three, the people, will and should require above all others. To attempt deception with a hope of being long successful, is not sense, but the greatest folly. If all public officers, representatives, and men of talent and

Page 7

opportunity, were united in the purpose, that no undertaking should ever receive their concurrence or aid, without satisfactory evidence, not only to themselves but to the great body of the people that, it was at once useful in a high degree, and practicable without oppression; in short, if a perfect and unreserved honesty were the obvious and governing character of men who hold places of profit or trust; there is no danger that the people would not come to understand by good sense, a union of integrity, information, ability, and the greatest usefulness to the public. And they will admit that in this union is all the safety they will ask in the man who is to act for them in legislation and in the application of the public money.

        It is the intention of the writer of these remarks, and such others as may hereafter appear with the same signature, to be directed in all his researches and expositions by the principle here laid down, in its atmost simplicity and in all its fulness. To whatever charge he may be exposed, he is determined that the charge of insincerity, duplicity or sinister concealment of the truth, shall never be correctly capable of being alleged. It is his wish as much as possible to substantiate every opinion and every assertion by facts and unquestionable authority. These he estimates above all other means of establishing truth. He will advance no theory which is not built upon them, without giving warning to the reader, that he may be aware of it, so as to be upon his guard, and to think for himself, as it is indeed hoped he will not fail in all instances to do according to the nature of the case. The writer would solicit in return a spirit of candour, and invite to a full and dispassionate consideration of the means by which our prosperity as a state may be most effectually promoted. To all propositions for the general welfare, objections and difficulties will doubtless occur. Interest will suggest some, ambition

Page 8

others, and others still will occur from the real merits of the subject. But the correctness and wisdom of our patriotism will be seen, not in holding up every objection as an insuperable obstacle to a whole plan, but in contriving by united counsels how difficulties may be removed, and thus a whole may be combined at last, as free from imperfections as possible. If we would arrive at the greatest good of our country, personal or local interests must not be too strenuously consulted, ambition must not be narrow and selfish, but enlightened and well directed, and all our efforts and researches must be faithfully and intently turned upon the discovery and establishment of the truth. Could the people of North Carolina, could her governors, magistrates, legislators and officers, all concur upon these principles, who can doubt that from that moment she would begin to grow conspicuously in individual happiness, and in strength and prosperity as a state!

September 1st, 1827.

Page 9

No. II.

        WE have been accustomed to consider canals as the cheapest means of communication and conveyance through the interior of a country. At present an opinion is well established by experience in Great Britain and our own country, where trial has been made in the greatest extent and perfection, that the rail-road is on many accounts superior, and ought to be preferred. The evidence now within our power is fortunately so full and conclusive, that to have our doubts removed, we need only to examine it for ourselves. After the failures and disappointments which North Carolina has suffered in her past efforts, we shall at least have learned the valuable lesson, to inquire faithfully, and arrive at a full knowledge, before an application of the public funds. By a small expenditure properly directed in the employment of an Engineer, such as may be easily had in the United States, before commencing a public work, every thing relating to it may be estimated and fully ascertained to the satisfaction of all. This is the mode of doing such business, practised in other states and other parts of the world, where works of this kind are carried on. Such men as Judge Wright, James Geddes, and many others, who have been long proved to possess practical skill and integrity in their profession as Civil Engineers, are at any time attainable upon proper inquiry, and a reasonable compensation for their services. Nor should a single step be taken in commencing any work, until it is completely determined what are the terms, what are the means, and what are the advantages. We have had enough of precipitation,

Page 10

of unqualified undertakers, of schemes heedlessly commenced and then deserted in a half-finished state, and altogether enough of wasted supplies. This unfortunate mode of prosecuting plans of public improvement is rarely if ever witnessed in other countries, and there is not the least necessity for it here.

        In the remarks now to be made, the object is to show in what respects rail-roads are preferable to canals.

        1. It is obvious that in determining the course of a canal we must be continually hampered by the necessity of carrying it where there will be at all times a sure and sufficient supply of water. This occasions the meandering of canals along the banks of rivers, and leading them to intersect streams at proper places, so that their length is extended far more than would be necessary, could this circumstance so essential to them be wholly set aside. It is not possible to give any general rule for determining the proportion of the whole line of a canal necessarily lost with a view to securing the proper quantity of water. It must differ according to the circumstances of every case. Perhaps, however, it would not be extravagant to say, with regard to canals of much extent, that at least one fourth, if not one third, is likely to be added by this single object. It was estimated by the United States Engineers, that a canal from Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, to pass by Washington to Baltimore, must be three hundred and ninety miles in length. By the same report, a rail-road from Baltimore to the Ohio would not be more than two hundred and fifty miles. In this instance the rail-way is only five-eighths of the canal in length. In this distance of three hundred and ninety miles by a canal, one hundred and forty miles are saved by resorting to the rail-road. An exactly similar difference will evidently not apply in other examples, but this is one to show what an excess in length,

Page 11

and consequently in expense, is sometimes incurred by a canal on account of water, beyond what is necessary to a rail-road. Let us remember, too, that such a difference has its effects, not only in the first construction and expense of a canal, but in all travelling and transportation upon it, and in the maintenance of it in repair through all future time*.

        * See "Proceedings of sundry Citizens of Baltimore, convened," &c.

It ought not to be omitted also, that when the repairing of a canal becomes necessary, it is far more difficult, expensive, and interrupting to business, than that of a rail-road.

        2. It is proved by experience that upon an average of one mile with another, a rail-road is less costly in its construction than a canal. It is found in England, and there is reason to believe that it will apply no less in this country, that the expense of making a canal is two or three times that of a rail-road. The excavation, or removal of earth or rocks for the former is much greater than for the latter. The iron necessary is far less costly than we are apt to suppose, as will appear when something further shall be said upon the materials of public works, and the expense attending them. And let it be considered that a lock cannot be properly completed of substantial and durable materials for less than eight or ten thousand dollars, while the means of passing from one level to another by inclined planes or otherwise on a rail-road, are easily provided, in comparison with locks.

        3. At least as large a burden, or as many tons, can be transported in the same time and by the same force upon a rail-road as upon a canal. On this as well as every other article of this enumeration of advantages in favour of the Rail-road, evidence will hereafter be given to the satisfaction of every man who would ingenuously and diligently

Page 12

inquire into this most important and interesting subject. It has been common to remark, and it has been until lately received as a maxim, that conveyance by water must always be less expensive than conveyance by land. This did continue true till by the perfection now attained in the construction of roads and carriages, it is no longer correct in a comparison of rail-roads and canals. Let it be considered that by firmness and solidity of construction in rail-roads, burden to any amount may be carried upon them without damage to the road, and by the evenness and level of the iron rails, and the smoothness and perfection of make in the iron wheels that run upon them, there comes to be less resistance from friction to the carriage, than from the water of the canal to the boat that passes through it. From these two circumstances together, it must result, that the same horse power will be able to carry even more upon a rail-road than upon a canal. It is hoped the reader will not imagine that this is romancing, or that it is said to answer a purpose. The correct comparison of advantages between these methods of transportation for produce and merchandise, and the evidence to satisfy our minds, if they be not already satisfied, will be more fully presented hereafter.

        4. The expense of making canals, and for ever attending them, in repairing and keeping them in good condition, and in the erection and maintenance of bridges over them, is greater than any such expense necessary to rail-roads. When a canal is made through a country, means must be provided at convenient distances for crossing it, to prevent the communication between one part of a farm or neighbourhood from being cut off from another. This brings on a multitude of contracts between the public and the owners of lands along the line of a canal, for making and keeping up bridges through all future time. And if

Page 13

there be any road crossing the site of the canal, a bridge must be maintained at the public expense for ever, that the highways may not be interrupted. This expense of bridges must continue to be levied in perpetuity by tolls upon the canal, and through all time act as a burden upon the transportation of goods. In regard to rail-ways, these difficulties almost entirely vanish. Men and horses can cross them any where without injury, and all that is necessary for the crossing of wheels is a piece of timber let into the ground along the side of the iron rail, and high enough to prevent the wheels in passing over it from touching the rail before it descends upon some little stone pavement laid down upon the other side. In this manner provision is made for any road on which waggons or carriages cross a rail-way. I am not aware that the bridges over the great Western Canal of New-York have ever been numbered, but after having passed with personal observation from one end of that canal to the other, it is conjectured that in the whole distance of three hundred and sixty-three miles, the number of bridges is not less than four hundred. In stating this, it is thought likely to fall short of the reality rather than to exceed it. In these circumstances convincing evidence must appear, that the maintenance, and repairs, and attendant expenses of canals must always be greater than are requisite for a rail-way.

        5. It is much to be apprehended that canals may render unhealthy the parts of the country along their route. The motion of water in a canal, if there be any, is exceedingly slow, so as to approach stagnation. This is especially the case in long levels, unless the canal be made with such ascent as to occasion a current, which for convenience of navigation is admitted as little as possible. Even the original rapidity of rivers, where the water is sometimes dashed by falls, and agitated by rapids, does not prevent them from producing

Page 14

disease at certain seasons, along their banks and in their vicinity. This effect may be experienced even in northern latitudes, but it is especially to be dreaded and deprecated in a southern climate like ours. No such consequence threatens the inhabitant or the traveller upon a Rail-road. It is a primary object in pursuing the line of such a structure to shun as much as possible the intersection of marshes and streams of water.

        6. Another circumstance suggested by the peculiar nature of our southern country, gives an advantage to rail-roads in comparison with canals. Our principal rivers originate towards the western extremity of the state. Were a canal attempted from the same distance in the interior, the long summers of our southern latitude, drying up all our smaller streams, and rendering very precarious supplies of water even from the larger, would make it necessary for such a canal, that it might be fed with certainty, to confine its course to the margin of some main river. Thus it would be perpetually intersecting the deep ravines which occur at small distances along the banks of a principal river. The consequences must be, numerous and large embankments, deep cuttings, bridges or aqueducts, rocky excavations, locks and culverts, all of which are occasions of the heaviest expenses in the completion of canals. A rail-road along extensive ridges, generally tending towards the point of destination, must be attended with signal advantages in escaping most of these embarrassments.

        7. It is now ascertained that rail-ways may be constructed with all the necessary strength and firmness, out of wood, at a cost little more than half of that which must be incurred in making them of iron. If this be true in the northern part of our country, it must be eminently so of our own state. The lasting and substantial pine abounding

Page 15

in our low country, and the no less solid oak of the western part, would leave us nothing to desire in compactness, durability, and cheapness of materials. The work too, would be of a sort that could be executed by our own people, under the direction of an engineer, as well as by any that could be found in other countries. It is computed that the interest of the money which must be paid for the iron more than for the wooden rail-way, is more than sufficient to defray the expense of renewing it, at the time when it shall become necessary. The consequence must be that the latter is the cheaper of the two in the end, and it requires far less funds for its first accomplishment.

        8. Another disadvantage incident to canals in a comparison with rail-roads, is the interruption of business upon the former for a considerable time in the winter, from their becoming frozen. This is an evil which it is true prevails more in northern latitudes than in our own. It is one, however, from which we should by no means be exempt, especially in the higher parts of our country. But in the depths of summer we must be much more subject to deficiency of water in the streams on which canals depend for their supplies. On such causes as these the rail-road is wholly independent.

        9. It is continually evinced by present practice, that steam can be employed in transportation by a rail-road. A locomotive engine of ten horse power goes four miles an hour with ninety tons in its train, and twelve miles an hour with twenty-five tons. As to canals for ships or steam-boats, they are wholly out of consideration, in speaking of such as are ordinarily constructed through a country.

        It has appeared then, from the whole comparison here made, that for many reasons rail-ways are preferable to canals.

Page 16

        1. Canals must generally be much longer than rail-ways, between the same extreme points. 2. A mile of rail-way, even if it be of iron, is less costly than a mile of canal. 3. As large burdens can be transported with a given power in a given time, upon the one as upon the other. 4. The perpetual expense of maintaining a canal with bridges and repairs is greater than that which is incident to a rail-road. 5. Canals, especially in a southern climate, may be well dreaded as sources of disease. 6. The face of our state, the courses of our rivers, and the ridges between them, are peculiarly favourable to the Rail-road. 7. Railways of wood are scarcely more than half as expensive as those of iron. Their inferior cost then, compared with that of canals, must give them greatly the preference to an economical people contemplating some method of removing their difficulties of commercial intercourse among themselves, and with other parts of the world. 8. Of the frosts of winter and the droughts of summer, Rail-roads are independent. 9. The force of steam is applicable on rail-roads, but not on common canals. Were they in all other respects equal, this would be sufficient to decide the superiority of rail-roads.

September 8, 1827.

Page 17

No. III.

        THE man who owns and cultivates a farm in the neighbourhood of a populous city, enjoys more favourable opportunities for supporting a family and enlarging his property, than one who lives at a distance from a numerous and busy population, or far back in the interior of a country. It is because the productions of his farm and his garden have a fair and prompt market, with no delay of payment. This acts as a stimulus to his exertions. He is encouraged to fertilize his grounds, to practise the best modes of cultivation, to be economical of his time, and not to be sparing of his toil. His trees are well selected, his orchards flourish, his meadows are luxuriant, and he is no less particular in the quality of his grains, roots and vegetables. He is so habitually in good spirits from knowing no necessity or debt, by unembarrassed command of his affairs, and by a regular growth of his prospects for himself and his children, that his labours, instead of being oppressive, are prosecuted with renewed interest, while he looks forward to their speedy and certain reward. It is no wonder, then, that such portions of our country as are in the vicinity of a dense and active population, should be remarkable for the prosperity of their inhabitants. The distant farmer shows his sense of this, and of his own disadvantages, while in cutting down the timber that encumbers his lands, and which is to be burned in heaps, as being only in his way, he remarks that were these masses of wood in certain situations, instead of causing him so much useless labour, they would speedily augment his fortune. What is

Page 18

here said of the farmer or planter, is no less applicable to all sorts of business. Mines of iron, coal, or lead, could they all be situated and worked near to seaport towns or large cities, or even very populous parts of the country, are more valuable than when remote from the prompt opportunities of sale. The advantages of all sorts of manufactories are estimable by the same considerations. Let us then suppose a farm, a workshop, or a mine, with all its means of being wrought, situated two hundred miles from the sea, to be taken up, and put down again a few miles from a commercial city. The land which, before such a change, sold for three dollars, would now sell for fifteen, perhaps thirty or fifty dollars per acre. The reason obviously is, that in its new situation, it has all the opportunities of a quick, convenient, and ready money market. It would be a matter of small consideration, that the land at present was in an inferior state of cultivation. There is no danger that it would not soon become rich in these new circumstances. It would every year grow more fertile under the increased alacrity, ingenuity and management of the owner. If it were not subject, by some peculiar properties, to invincible sterility, he would think but little of its former unproductive condition. All this is evidently not less true of the mine or the workshop.

        Such a case can only be imagined, and it is for the sake of illustration alone that it has been supposed. But to prepare the way definitely for the use of this example, let me repeat, What is it that causes the difference between the value of the farm and all its productions, in the one situation and in the other? It is in their distance from market. All that we have supposed is the annihilation of distance. If the necessity of so long a transportation did not exist, the farm that is two hundred miles from the seaport town, would be at once as valuable in every respect as if it were

Page 19

within one mile of it. With us in North Carolina, the one would be more highly prized than the other, because it would unite the same opportunities of market, and the same profits on every thing sold, with the circumstance of living in a healthy country. Is there no way of annihilating distance, not in reality, but in all that the farmer would ask, I mean its effects upon his opportunities? Are there no means of reducing these great distances to almost nothing, with respect to the disadvantage to which they subject him? The answer plainly is, that it can be done by a canal or a rail-road. It may at first seem strange and extravagant to speak of annihilating distance between two places. It is important, however, that we should become familiar with those modes which facilities in travelling and conveyance propose for doing this. You are in New-Haven, and you have business which calls you to the city of New-York, which is eighty-five miles distant. You go to the steam-boat in the evening at six o'clock, and step into it. When bedtime comes, you lie down and sleep on as good a bed as you want, and the next morning you awake at four o'clock, with the intelligence that all you have to do is to step out of the boat into the city, attend to your business, and then return home again by the same means. What great difference, it may be asked, is there, so far as yourself alone are concerned, between taking up your house in New-Haven, and setting it down at the city of New-York, and then returning it again to its proper place? Is there any thing virtually incorrect in saying that the distance between your own house and New-York has been removed as to the practical purposes of business? A person may now travel by steam-boat and stage from Norfolk to Philadelphia in thirty-six hours, though the distance between these places is three hundred and fifty miles. By such methods of travelling as were once practised, at the rate of

Page 20

forty miles a day, he must have required nine days to accomplish it. When we say that by the improved methods of travelling, the distance has been annihilated, there is no longer that objectionable appearance of mystery or magic, which might at first have occurred to our apprehension.

        Let it not be thought that the expense of such travelling has been studiously kept out of view. The exposition is for the purpose of distinctly showing what is meant, when by certain modes of conveyance, distance is said to be annihilated. The passage from New-Haven to New-York, must cost three dollars for the distance of eighty-five miles; and that between Norfolk and Philadelphia must cost twelve, every thing in the latter instance being found to the traveller, through the distance of three hundred and fifty miles. But where men go such distances on business, it is really so great a privilege to effect their objects on those terms, and in most cases they gain so much by it in the end, that the expense is more than compensated by the advantages. When they travel for pleasure, we shall scarcely deny, that their remuneration is greatly enhanced, or at least, that it is a matter which ought to have no influence on the subject.

        A merchant in Norfolk, for we do well to illustrate by fact, reads in the newspaper that three days afterwards there is to be sold at auction in Philadelphia a large quantity of goods or property, in which he feels himself interested. In the last thirty-six hours before the time of sale, he passes to the city, defrays all the expenses of his passage with twelve dollars, makes his purchases, and possibly profits by them to the amount of some hundreds or even thousands. The cost of travelling it is presumed would no longer be named, and the distance between Philadelphia and his own residence, he will consent to say, has been reduced to little or nothing, by the facilities of the passage.

        Travelling recently on the New-York Canal, from Albany

Page 21

to Lake Erie, a distance of three hundred and sixty three miles, I fell into conversation with a man by the name of Hooper, passing westward in the same packet boat*.

        * It is hoped the reader will excuse the egotism sometimes resorted to. It is thought important to build our opinions and views upon the foundation of facts; and the writer wishes to be held personally responsible for the truth of the circumstances here presented. The case cannot be mis-stated, for it was noted down on paper at the time, with repetition.

He was one of your plain, substantial, sensible men, a good farmer, wholly of a practical character, on the soundness of whose opinions, and the correctness of whose statements, it was easy to see that reliance was to be placed. Said he, I live some distance up the country, along this Canal, and have been down to Schenectady to market. I took down five hundred and twenty-six barrels of flour in a boat, which cost about two hundred and fifty dollars. It was done by two men and two horses, and the whole trip will be completed in eight days. Had I done this by our old method with waggons and horses along our turnpike roads, the same thing would have required fifty men, fifty waggons, and a hundred horses for sixteen days**.

        ** The waggons here spoken of, were two-horse waggons, such as are commonly used in that and other parts of the northern country; but one of them carries at least ten barrels of flour. This they can do on their improved roads.

        It might be left for any one to estimate the comparative cost of transportation upon a barrel of flour, by the two methods. But let us stop to consider intelligently the particulars of this example; for as a fact, it is of no small importance in determining the merits of canals or rail-ways, and common roads. Let us admit, for the sake of comparison, that one boat is as expensive in the building and maintenance as three waggons, and this will be a liberal allowance to the disadvantage of the boats, and in favour of land

Page 22

carriage. It will then be true, from the preceding statement, that one horse by means of the canal performs the work of fifty horses upon a road, one man the work of twenty-five, and one waggon very nearly as much as seventeen waggons. Nor is this the full account of the matter; for the man, horse, and waggon do that in one day, which the twenty-five men, fifty horses, and seventeen waggons do in two days. Now if we suppose the day's work of the man to be one dollar, that of the horse half a dollar, and the waggon to be worth fifty cents a day, the value of the work done by the three united, is two dollars a day, and the value of the work done by the twenty-five men, fifty horses, and seventeen waggons in one day, will be fifty-eight dollars and a half, or one hundred and seventeen dollars in two days.

        To display this more clearly, we shall set down the two comparative statements with numbers.

1 man $ 1 00
1 horse 50
1 waggon 50
For one day $ 2 00

        This shows the expense of conveyance upon a canal for one day to be two dollars, while the cost upon a New-York turnpike-road is as follows:

25 men $ 25 00
50 horses 25 00
17 waggons 8 50
  $ 58 50

        This being doubled for two days makes $117.

        It plainly follows then that when the cost of carriage on the turnpike amounts to one hundred and seventeen dollars,

Page 23

it is no more than two dollars by a canal; or which is the same thing, that which may be conveyed upon a canal or rail-way for one dollar, will cost fifty-eight dollars and a half upon the turnpike-road. Now it is a certain fact, that upon a turnpike in the State of New-York, two horses carry ten barrels of flour, which is an ordinary load for four horses upon our common roads. For the sake of bringing the difference home to ourselves, we must then continue and say, that when conveyance on a canal or rail-way is at one dollar, it will be at one hundred and seventeen dollars by our ordinary mode of transportation by waggons.

        The liberty here taken in speaking of the Canal and the Rail-way as alike in their efficiency for transportation, is founded upon the present decisive opinion of engineers, upon such experience as is now daily exhibited both in England and America, and upon such evidence as has been given in the preceding number.

        Were a rail-way constructed from the mountains to Beaufort on the sea-coast, produce could be transported from one end of it to the other, through a distance of three hundred miles, in three days. This must be evident as soon as we reflect that regular line carriages, with proper change of horses, travelling night and day, will accomplish the distance in three days, at little more than four miles an hour. It is unquestionably in our power to complete such a rail-road, without the least inconvenience to the people, in seven years. Shall we then delay a moment seriously to commence a plan, which if accomplished, must be of inestimable importance to the State? It is for the people to say whether they will employ as soon as possible such an engineer, as shall in a few months give us an enlightened, correct, and conclusive estimate of the manner, the means, and the expense.

Page 24

No. IV.

        IN the second of these numbers it was proposed to show, and it is hoped not unsuccessfully, that for inland transportation, especially in our climate, rail-ways are preferable to canals. They are cheaper in the first construction. The iron rail-way costs not more than half as much as a canal between such distant extremities as the eastern and western parts of our state. And if it be made of timber having a strap of iron on the top, the expense could again be reduced probably to one-fourth of what it would be if made of iron. Not only is the cost of rail-roads less at first, but it for ever continues so in maintenance, repairs, quantity of travelling, and the numerous bridges over a canal not necessary to a rail-way. It is my object now to give more full and convincing evidence of these truths. It shall be such evidence as fears no future examination. It invites and solicits investigation, not theoretical and fanciful, but practical, and such as is confirmed by the incontestible authority of experiments already made.

        Anderson was a man of practical knowledge on these subjects. The conclusions which he states are worthy of our confidence as derived from actual observation. One horse, says he, can draw with ease upon a canal twenty tons, and he will do this travelling at the usual rate of horses in a waggon, on a hard smooth turnpike-road. He then says that the same horse, on a properly constructed railroad, can carry the same quantity of goods in the same time.*

        * See "Anderson's Recreations." It may be proper explicitly to say that by a ton is here meant as usual twenty hundred weight.

Page 25

        Mr. Joseph Wilkes in 1799 stated, "that a horse of the value of twenty pounds sterling," which is one hundred dollars of our money, "drew along the declivity of an iron road descending two eighths and half an eighth of an inch in a yard, twenty-one carriages or waggons laden with coals and timber, weighing thirty-five tons, overcoming the vis inertioe, repeatedly with ease*."

        * Ree's Cyclopaedia, Article Canal, p. 69. Bradford's edition, Philadelphia.

By overcoming the vis inertioe, is meant the starting of the waggons from a state of rest; and every one knows that this is the greatest difficulty in drawing on any given surface. "The same horse," continues Mr. Wilkes, "drew up the same declivity five tons with ease."

        It will readily occur, that in a trade between a seaport town and the upper country, the weight or tonnage to be carried towards the sea, is vastly greater than is returned into the country. It will follow, therefore, that a rail-road may be properly made to descend in a very small degree, so as to favour the draught in the direction of the heaviest transportation. It is upon this principle that the statement here made is to be understood. If a rail-road descends five sixteenths of an inch, or which is the same, two and a half-eighths of an inch in a yard, it is at the rate of very nearly forty-six feet in a mile. Mr. Wilkes also says, "that when the descent was an inch and three quarters in a yard, it was necessary to slipper**

        ** It may be well to explain, that a wheel is sometimes made to slide down a hill not upon the tire, but upon a plate of iron turned up on each side to confine the rim upon it, and attached to the side of the carriage by a chain. Such a plate of iron is called the shoe or slipper. It is preferred because it prevents the tire of the locked wheel from wearing out faster than that of the others.

or lock the wheels, to prevent the horse being overpowered by the weight pressing upon him."

        "On a different rail-way one horse, value thirty pounds," or one hundred and fifty dollars, "drew twenty-one

Page 26

waggons, of five hundred weight each, which with their loading amounted to one hundred and forty-three tons and eight hundred weight, the declivity being one inch to a yard; and up the same, he afterwards drew seven tons."

        "In the summer of 1805, a trial was made on the Surrey rail-way by Mr. Bankes, wherein a horse taken indiscriminately out of a team, drew sixteen waggons, weighing upwards of fifty-five tons, for more than six miles along a level, or very slightly declining part of the rail-way*."

        * To spread the pressure of large burdens upon a rail-road, as well as for other reasons, it is customary to employ a number of waggons in succession, each connected by a chain with the preceding.

        Now all these are so many unquestionable facts. Let the same circumstances be renewed, and the same results will be experienced before our own eyes, and for our own benefit. The laws of nature do not change, and if such testimony as this do not satisfy our minds, what, it may be asked, will be sufficient to remove our doubts and prepare us to avail ourselves of the great and important practical truths which it is its object to establish? The twenty tons, the thirty-five tons, the forty-three tons and eight hundred weight, and the fifty-five tons can be drawn as easily in America as in England. We know that upon our common roads, it takes the force of four or five horses to draw two tons; that is, one horse at least is necessary to half a ton. If one horse then, on a rail-way, can draw twenty tons with ease, it follows that he will do as much as forty horses usually do in our common transportation. If, however, a good horse can on a rail-road draw thirty-five tons, he performs as much as seventy horses do upon our roads. Should we take the third of these numbers, namely, forty-three tons, to say nothing of the eight hundred weight, then the effect of the horse applied in one way, is to his effect

Page 27

in the other, as one to eighty-six. But one case of actual trial still remains. Mr. Bankes tells us he made it himself, and his testimony is recorded for our information. He harnessed a horse to the foremost of sixteen waggons, weighing together fifty-five tons, and the horse carried them forward six miles upon a level rail-road, or if it had any declivity, it was so slight as not to be estimated. This is making one horse do as much as a hundred and ten. These things are so astonishing that we are ready at first to pronounce them incredible. They are, however, incontestible and stubborn facts, and not to be denied. And why should we be disposed to distrust them? They reveal to us powers of mechanism, on which we cannot set a sufficient value. It is properly a subject of the highest interest and exultation to every man, especially to every citizen of a free and enlightened community, that our opportunities are susceptible of such almost inconceivable enlargement, provided we will unite to effect the object. Shall the subjects of monarchies think nothing of securing the advantages of this prodigious efficiency, and we who claim all the energies of personal and public liberty, sit still with our arms folded, and gaze at what they do as though it were visionary extravagance to imagine any thing like it within the compass of our puny efforts?

        It appears then not an excessive or gratuitous assumption, when it was asserted that as large a tonnage could be carried by a given power upon a rail-way as upon a canal. But there are different ways of comparing their efficacy, and if this, according to every view, be much the same in both, we shall be left to consult other circumstances in determining our choice of them. "Without calculating," says a practical writer, "upon the immense loads of thirty tons and upwards, which have occasionally been moved by one horse upon a level rail-way, we can state that an active

Page 28

horse weighing ten hundred weight, conducted by one man upon a well constructed edge rail-way, will work with ten ton of goods. In the same manner we may take thirty tons as employing the effective labour of one horse and three persons upon a canal. From which it will therefore appear, that the expense of trackage per ton is pretty much the same in both systems; while the first cost, and consequently the toll or dues, must be greatly in favour of the rail-way*.

        * Edin. Encyd. Article Rail-way, p. 2. Am. Ed.

        Nothing has yet been said respecting the locomotive engine. By this is meant a steam engine propelling a carriage by which it is borne, as the steamboat is moved by the engine fastened into it. This contrivance strikes us as approximating perfection, by imitating an animal power. It is independent, however, of animal force, and has the advantage in uniting energy with the untiring property of mechanism. It were to be wished that a description at once brief and easily intelligible could be given of this engine, but this is scarcely possible. The mind of one little accustomed to complicated machinery, soon becomes fatigued and confused, and his curiosity is disappointed. An actual inspection is better than an hundred attempts to describe it, and even a good engraving makes it easily comprehensible. It is hoped, however, that we shall feel no less assured of the perfection of this gigantic automation, as it may well be called, for the purposes to which it is applied, than if it were before our eyes, and performing its operations with all that elegance, gracefulness and power of movement which excite at once the admiration and astonishment of the spectator. On the Hetton rail-way in England it has been for some time in use. Mr. William Strickland, Civil Engineer of the Pennsylvania Society for

Page 29

Internal Improvement, witnessed its operations, and he tells us its cost is four hundred pounds sterling, or two thousand dollars. This gentleman went to England in the employment of the Society, to enlarge his views, and bring back important information respecting canals and rail-roads. He says that "this locomotive engine has drawn on a level twenty-seven waggons, weighing ninety-four tons, at the rate of four miles an hour, and that when lightly laden, it will travel ten miles an hour. The waggons drawn by it cost twenty-eight pounds sterling each, that is a hundred and forty dollars. The waggon bodies are seven feet nine inches long, five feet wide at the top, and three feet six inches deep. The wheels are three feet in diameter, and weigh each two hundred and fifty pounds**."

        ** Strickland's Reports, pp. 28, 29.--.

        For further satisfaction I shall extract a statement from Mr. Jessop, a noted Civil Engineer of England. These are his words: "A locomotive engine of ten horse power, will draw one hundred and twenty tons, at the rate a draught horse generally travels; or fifty tons at the rate of six miles an hour. The engine requires the attendance of only a man and a boy, at a daily expense of five shillings," (sterling.) "The coals consumed in ten hours would be from twenty to thirty hundred weight. Therefore the expense altogether would be less than thirty shilling per day, for which fifty tons may be conveyed sixty miles in ten hours, which is less than half a farthing per ton per mile. So that making ample allowance for delays, the return of the empty carriages, the cost and maintenance of the engines, and providing the waggons, the expense is altogether inconsiderable.***"

        *** See the same work, pp. 31,32.

        But while these proofs are detailed of the great advantages of rail-roads, in comparison with canals, on which

Page 30

the steam engine cannot be used, it is probable a more embarrassing difficulty is suggested, than any relating to the great value and importance of these advantages. It is not so much from doubts respecting the efficacy of a rail-way, it will be said, that we question its expediency for us, but from the vast funds necessary to the construction of it. Now it is my intention to show that this is not a real difficulty. Let us come to it at once, then, and look at it in all its terrors. The number of taxable polls in the state of North Carolina, is a hundred and thirty-five thousand. This number is derived from the Comptroller's Report of last year (1826.) An annual payment of thirty-seven cents by each individual, raises at once the sum of fifty thousand dollars a year. Let any one try the humbers for himself, or let him get his neighbour to do it for him, and he will find it to be so. It cannot be that the payment of 37 cents a year upon each poll for five years, is so great that we ought not to consent to it, provided we are made sure of the result. It is upon this condition then that it is proposed, and upon this alone, that it shall be adequate to procure to the citizens of our state, so easy and cheap a conveyance for their goods and productions, their manufactures and their mines that where it now costs them thirty dollars, it shall not cost them one. Let a rail-way be commenced at Newbern, under the direction of a proper engineer, such as now can be easily had in the United States; let it be constructed in as direct a line as possible to Raleigh, and thence continued through the middle of the state to the mountains. In two years and a half it would be extended above the capital of the state. Through this it evidently ought to pass, as centrally situated in regard to the general direction of our boundaries on the north and south, and as being our metropolis, its growing importance ought to be fostered with affection and interest

Page 31

by us all. It is not to be doubted that if the sum of fifty thousand dollars were by a legislative determination annually appropriated for seven years to this purpose, and capitalists were invited and permitted to subscribe fifty thousand more, the sum would be realized instantly, and in the best of hands. Nor can we suppose there would be any difficulty in a repetition of the same thing every year for the whole time of seven years necessary to the work. More than fifty thousand dollars a year to be thus subscribed, should not be admissible, nor should the owners of such capital be allowed to hope for more than eight per cent. after it should become productive. For it is necessarily understood that the dividend to be paid must be made good by tolls upon travelling and transportation. On this account the whole sum subscribed should be understood from the beginning to be returnable by the state in five years from the time of completing the work. It is of the last importance that the public should not part with their power over all extensive works calculated to facilitate commercial intercourse. This is the policy now wisely and resolutely practised in other states, and to this every country, discreet in its economy, should tenaciously adhere.

        The reader now has under his view such a plan as naturally results from the best methods of providing for the ease and cheapness of commercial intercourse, and from a combination of all the interests of the state in carrying into effect a single enterprise. It has been the object of these numbers, 1. To show with conclusive evidence in the present state of the arts, the best and cheapest methods of opening the market to the people of the state. It is by means of rail-roads, instead of canals, or any other instrumentality which we can adopt. Indeed if they be preferable to canals, none will hesitate to think them superior to all other means of intercourse. 2. It is recommended to commence a rail-road from Newbern to Raleigh, and

Page 32

thence through the middle of the state to the mountains. 3. As soon as it can be made to appear that this will with certainty accomplish the object of throwing open to the people an easy and unexpensive conveyance of goods and produce to the best market both domestic and foreign, it is taken for granted that there is not a citizen of the state who would think it oppressive to him to pay annually thirty-seven cents, as a poll-tax, amounting to two dollars and fifty-nine cents a piece, in seven years, for effecting in that time this great and important object. 4. It is not understood that the work can be completed by the two hundred and fifty thousand dollars thus raised at the rate of fifty thousand dollars a year, but that combined with like sums to be subscribed annually by capitalists, returnable in five years after the work is finished, it will be found amply sufficient for the intended object. 5. and lastly, Before resolving to commence the execution of this work, having for its object the individual and public prosperity of our state, let a civil engineer of unquestionable integrity and practical skill be employed for a year, to determine and report to the legislature and the people on the practicability, the expense, and all the merits of such a work.

        It is hoped that every individual will see the wisdom of declining all prepossessions on a subject like this, relating not only to the general good, but to the personal interest of every man. It is proposed in our future numbers to set this matter much more fully before us. It is believed that where any undertaking will certainly be for the good of a free and enlightened people, they will, with full opportunity, see it to be so. And it is the great and distinguishing advantage of a popular government, that it is administered by a power which will be faithful to the interest and happiness of the whole.

        September 24, 1827.

Page 33

No. V.

        THE town of Newbern has been proposed as a starting point for a rail-road directly to the city of Raleigh. Valid reasons are to be shown for such a measure. A wise people will proceed to act upon a plan only when it is shown satisfactorily that the public welfare will be the consequence.

        Newbern is among such of our towns as are best situated for commerce by sea. It is centrally placed in our lower country between the northern and southern limits of that part of our state. Its opportunities at the present time are to be very differently estimated from what they once were, connected as it now is by the Harlow canal with Beaufort, the best seaport of the state. Were Ocracoke the only outlet of commerce from Newbern, little could be hoped from it. From the reports of Fulton, our late engineer, the depth of water for vessels passing through the inlet up to Newbern is at the utmost but eight or nine feet. The inlet itself, on account of the shoals in front of it, is not favourable for entrance from the sea. Though Ocracoke will probably be always used by coasting vessels, were this our only prospect we should have little reason to hope that Washington, Edenton, Plymouth, Newbern, and other towns around Albemarle or Pamlico sounds, could ever become of much consequence in a foreign trade. It is the prospect from Newbern to Beaufort that attracts and fixes the choice upon the former of these places, as the point from which it is expedient to commence a rail-road directly for the capital, and then to proceed westward through the middle of the state, till it reaches the mountains.

Page 34

        It might well appear remarkable that North Carolina should have always considered her condition so desperate as she has ever deemed it, while such a harbour as Beaufort was upon her coast. Let us advert to the words of the engineer, and would that they might for ever return upon our ear with their reanimating sounds! In regard to the Harlow canal he says, "I am of opinion that the benefits resulting from the opening of so important a communication with one of the best inlets on the coast, will much more than compensate for the amount of the estimate. A very great Bermuda and Northern trade is carried on at Newbern, which must," without the canal, "pass through the Ocracoke inlet. Vessels drawing a moderate quantity of water can take in only a partial loading, until they get over the Swashes; they then complete their cargo from lighters. The passage for lighters from Newbern to the Swashes is long, and sometimes dangerous; the anchorage for the shipping is by no means a safe one. The Clubfoot Creek empties itself into the Neuse, before that river is of sufficient extent to cause any risk from the conveyance by lighters. The water on the Bar and in the harbour of Beaufort, is of sufficient depth to allow of vessels from 200 to 300 tons burden entering. The anchorage is safe by being well land-locked."

        It is the last statement which deserves our most attentive consideration. The harbour and the depth of water at Beaufort, giving entrance and room to vessels as high in freight as three hundred tons, together with the Harlow canal, throw open prospects of indefinite prosperity to the state by its commercial opportunities. The subject is worthy of attaching upon it our faithful examination in all its diversity of reference, and its future consequences. The channel and harbour at Beaufort are not liable to change by the fluctuations common upon other parts of our coast.

Page 35

Wimble's map exhibits it as a ship channel in 1738, and Lawson states its depth of water still farther back in 1718, precisely the same as it is at the present day.*

        * See "Report of Public Improvement," for 1820, pp. 11, 14. Also for 1821, pp. iv. and vi.

The merchant vessels and regular packets which sail betwen New-York and Liverpool, or any other port in Europe, are many of them between two hundred and fifty and three hundred and fifty tons in burden. Vessels of two hundred and fifty or three hundred tons are well fitted for carrying on trade to any port on the other side of the Atlantic, or the West Indies, or South America. If we look at our map of the seacoast at Beaufort, and connect with its directions the circumstance that a vessel south of Cape Lookout comes at once from an open sea into harbour, without long and winding channels to consult, we shall find that few harbours along the whole extent of our coast are better for entrance. Any wind between the south east and south west points carries a vessel directly into Beaufort. A wind between the north east and north West, sends one immediately out to sea, an object always desirable to mariners next to going into port. These are circumstances which constitute the very best privileges of a good harbour, for such vessels as its depth of water is fitted to receive. Nor ought we wholly to forget that though in time of peace it adds to the value of a harbour to have a deep and easy entrance, when war occurs the seaport town within, if it be not strongly and expensively fortified, invites upon it all the power and fury of the enemy.

        Beaufort has all the advantages of immediately fronting on the sea. In consequence of this its healthiness is unquestionable, and this accords with its past history and the constant experience of its inhabitants. It is better situated on this account than Norfolk; and as it cannot be surpassed

Page 36

in this respect by Charleston or any place to the south, its latitude must give it greatly the superiority in a comparison with any port in that direction.

        Let the expense of transportation from the whole back country be reduced by means of a rail-way to little or nothing, and as a commercial city it must advance with instant and rapid progress to prosperity and a numerous population. Many of us perhaps are but little aware of the effects of trade when its facilities are once created. At the site of the present town of Rochester, on the western canal of New-York, there were in 1813 three houses only. That place is now swelled to the dimensions of ten thousand inhabitants. It is precisely two hundred and seventy miles west of Albany, and from the latter place to New-York is a hundred and forty-five miles more; yet it is in this city that Rochester and the country around it, through the distance of four hundred and fifteen miles, find a market for their grain, and the productions of their industry. It is from the same town of Rochester, and still more distant places, that flour is brought to this very Newbern of ours, and sold at five and a half to six dollars a barrel. And can it, must it, will it be, that we the inhabitants of North Carolina shall think the payment of one dollar and eighty-five cents from each taxable poll in five years, by annual instalment of thirty-seven cents a year, is too great a sum, when this is all that is necessary for effecting so great a change, for making this now "solitary wilderness to blossom as the rose!" Surely such cannot be our feelings. We shall not consent to continue under such depressing disadvantages, if we really can disengage ourselves from their fatal effects with so much ease and certainty.

        Does it not appear then that this is the place on which North Carolina may with the soundest policy, and the most comprehensive wisdom, direct her eye as offering

Page 37

most indubitable and animating prospects of national relief? If we are convinced that at this place is a valuable harbour for her commerce on the ocean, it may become no less a haven of refuge from that sea of uncertainty and despondency, on which she has been tossed. May we not indulge the pleasing thought, without the charge of extra-vagance, that in her town of Beaufort she does possess a gem, which, as it shall be her diligence and care to have it polished and unchased, will shine with increasing lustre upon the brow of her beauty?

        It is an easy matter, by widening the Harlow canal a few feet, and deepening it two or three, to throw it open to the free passage of steamboats, and then the whole commerce of the Albemarle and Pamlico waters would, by the easiest, promptest, and safest navigation possible, be concentrated at Beaufort. If it be apprehended by any that the waters of these sounds are too dangerous for the steamboat, though it can scarcely be that any will think so, let it be remembered that the Chesapeake presents fully as great exposure, and yet this is continually traversed by boats of this description. Not less difficult is a passage up and down the Mississippi, yet this may be said to swarm with them. Nor let it be imagined that steam-boats may not pass along a canal. In common canals they must not be admitted, on account of the contracted limits of such canals for boats drawn by one or two horses. But there are canals upon which steam-boats work continually, and it is unnecessary to refer to any other than the Caledonian canal, through which such boats run regularly, making a circuitous route, partly by sea and partly by the canal, between Edinburgh and Glasgow. The two feet by which the Clubfoot creek is higher than the Harlow at the time of low water in the latter, make it now necessary to have a

Page 38

lock to prevent too strong a current*.

        * See "Reports of Public Improvement" for 1820, p. 2.

In a canal for a steam-boat, such a current would be of little or no consequence, and the lock unnecessary. Were as much more excavation done as to open a steam-boat passage to Beaufort, it is probable an end would be put for ever to all lightering at the Swashes. A steam-boat could then pass from Edenton to Beaufort in twenty-four hours, and from Newbern to Beaufort in four. It is suggested to all the commercial towns upon the Albemarle and Pamlico waters, whether it would not be well for them to unite among themselves without delay, thus to annihilate their distance from Beaufort. An enterprising population so extensive as this, could soon burst away the barrier to steam-boats at the Harlow canal, and a year's enjoyment of the commercial opportunities thus secured, would probably return into their bosom ample remuneration for any instant sacrifice necessary to accomplish it. Were this done, of what use would it be to expend the eighty thousand dollars reported by Mr. Fulton to be requisite for clearing out the Old Swash, or the thirty thousand for Teache's channel**?

        ** See "Reports of Public Improvement" for the year 1820, p. 25. The "Old Swash," and "Teache's Channel" are two sandy shoals of seven or eight feet in depth, over one or the other of which all vessels must pass, that would go out to sea or come in, through Ocracoke inlet.

        After the exposition now given, the reason will probably be conspicuous for directing our choice upon Newbern as the commencing point of a rail-way intended for the accommodation of the people to the western extremities of the state. On the arrival of the waggons at that place, their loads may be discharged for storage, or sale, or for transmission afterwards to Beaufort down the river by the Harlow canal, at the discretion of the owner. It were easy even to provide for placing the waggons with their loading

Page 39

on board of the boat, to avoid any detention or expense of storage short of Beaufort, should this be an object with the proprietor of the goods.

        After the views which have been presented, let us pause and reflect upon the vast interests they involve. That the people of North Carolina are labouring under a privation of opportunities for market, and that this is keeping them depressed and embarrassed, is a self-evident truth. Is there no remedy for this evil? We have a harbour eminently favourable for health, with a good entrance from the sea for ships of three hundred tons. Beaufort has always been neglected as a seaport, because there were no means of arriving at it from the interior parts of the country, either by land or water, without a cost upon transportation, forbidding all possibility of profit. Farmers, therefore, have been compelled to submit to the pitiful prices and the slow and uncertain payments of their own neighbourhoods, except when necessity drove them through all obstructions to some distant market for indispensible articles and a little cash. It is proved by actual experience now daily going on, that were a rail-way prepared from Newbern to the mountains through the middle of the state, a barrel of flour could be conveyed upon it two hundred and fifty miles for less than thirty cents. In stating these numbers the writer speaks warily. He is fully assured that this small price does not exceed that which will be realized upon trial, can be proved by facts in other places, and can be even shown satisfactorily to every one who will examine for himself such a statement as will be made in our next number. A toll being supposed of twenty cents a barrel for the same distance, and it could not be more than ten, probably not five, the barrel of flour which would sell for five dollars, two hundred and fifty miles from Beaufort, could be sold with equal profit for five dollars and a half at the seaport, and for less

Page 40

than five and a half at any place short of it. The same thing is equally demonstrable of cotton, iron, flaxseed, or any other article. Such a rail-road can be made, provided every citizen will agree that each taxable poll shall pay thirty-seven cents a year for the purpose. Every man will admit that no sooner would such a rail-road be prepared for action, than merchants and capitalists would flock to Beaufort or Newbern to seize the profits of their business upon our cotton, flour, iron, tar, pitch, and turpentine, staves, spars, bacon, lard, butter, tobacco, and upon the return trade wholesale or retail in salt, sugar, tea, coffee, fish, and all sorts of dry goods for farmers and merchants through the country. That which was a maxim among the Jews of old, and which is applied in the scriptures, would hold here also, "Wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together." Wherever planters, manufacturers, and merchants can meet upon terms favourable to their mutual interests, there each will find the other prepared and eager for commercial transactions.

        The way then is clearly open before us. No sooner shall we resolve on the means, than we shall begin to see the end hastening into execution. The consequences to result in changing the face of our country, and in meliorating the condition of the people, are absolutely incalculable, while they are absolutely sure. Such causes have operated heretofore to the relief and prosperity of others, and whenever they are renewed, they will, with all the certainty of the immutable laws of nature, operate again. The work of a single year, after the commencement of such a rail-way at Newbern, will, by the practical and convincing evidence of its immediate utility, dissipate all our doubts and apprehensions, and we shall go on happily and with an irresistible ardour to its completion.

Page 41

No. VI.


        HAVING explained some of the reasons for commencing and prosecuting a rail-road through our State, it is now proposed to show more particularly the advantages to result to the people individually, whatever may be their situation, in different parts of the country. Were it to profit a few only, and not a large proportion of our population, this would be so serious an objection, that we might well be met with the inquiry, "What is this to me? Are all these pains to be taken, and this expenditure of funds incurred, and after all, is a particular part of the country only to be benefited, while I am to remain under the pressure of the same difficulties? If I am to pay my share into the Treasury for a public improvement, some of the advantages ought to be enjoyed by me in return. If it be not so, no matter how small a payment you ask, I shall feel myself oppressed for the benefit of another. Let us then examine the object proposed with our eye directed on this difficulty. It is one which has ever presented itself as insurmountable in the improvement of our rivers and the construction of canals. Our rivers are so numerous, that to provide by taxation for making them all navigable, must be left to some future period, when our population shall be more dense, their wealth increased, and their resources enlarged. To open any one of our larger rivers and dig the canals necessary to make it navigable to a seaport, the whole strength of the State must be concentrated upon it, not for one year only, but perhaps for three or

Page 42

four. In the mean time it is for one portion of the people only, that the expense falls upon the whole, and far the greater part must postpone indefinitely to future time their prospects of sharing in the benefits of such unwieldy plans. We all know that we shall never, as a people, consent to measures so partial and burdensome. And if the cost of a single river, even were we to direct our attempts upon it with united force, would be more than the people would be reconciled to endure, the expense of improvements upon numbers of them at the same time, would in reality, be oppressive in the extreme, amounting to a taxation, or else incurring a debt, to which it is visionary to suppose that we should ever submit.

        Far different from such a system is the provision of a single rail-road for the accommodation of all the people, within a reasonable time. Such a structure calls for not more than one-fourth of the whole sum necessary for the improvement of any one of our important rivers with the requisite canals, especially if we would avoid the result of having our commerce terminate in the neighbouring states. We shall be required then to show it to be a real and unquestionable truth, that the plan recommended, is for the personal interest of each. That it is so to all perfectly alike, it would probably be admitted hardly reasonable to expect, but if all material difficulties shall be removed out of each man's way to a certain and easy market, it is not believed that he will be disposed to swell trivial differences of opportunity into causes of serious objection against that by which his great purpose shall be effected, and his essential interests evidently and completely secured. The following list of places and distances is to put it into the power of every inhabitant of our interior country to determine for himself and his neighbours how nearly they are interested in such a rail-road as is proposed, by showing him the distance of it from his own house in a direct line. The list is alphabetical,

Page 43

rendering it easy to find the name of the Courthouse, and several other places in the county in which he lives. From the distances of these in miles, as given in the numbers, he can form a judgment of his own. The letters N and S will show that the place he finds is north or south of the rail-road.

Allemance Church, Guilford, N. 13
Ashville, Buncombe, S. 22
Beaufort, 0
Bennehan and Cameron, N. 25
Bethany, Stokes, N. 26
Bethany Church, Iredell, N. 3
Bird's Iron Works, Lincoln, S. 39
Boon's Ford, Yadkin, 0
Brevard's Iron Works, Lincoln, S. 27
Carson's Col. Burke, S. 12
Caswell, C.H.N. 41
Catawba Springs, S. 22
Centre Church, Iredell, S. 18
Charlotte, Mecklenburg, S. 38
Chatham, South line of S. 18
Concord Iron Works, Burke, S. 14
Concord Cabarrus, S. 26
Cross Roads, Randolph, 0
Danbury, N. 40
Dixon, Gen. Lincoln, S. 34
Flint Hill, Rutherford, S. 27
Forney's Iron Works, Lincoln, S. 30
Fullenwerder, Lincoln, S. 31
Germanton, Stokes, N. 34
Good. Cross Roads, Rutherford, S. 38
Graham's Iron Works, S. 30
Green, C. H. N. E. 6
Greensborough, N. 21

Page 44

Greenvile, Pitt, N.E. 22
Grove, Duplin, S.W. 30
Guilford, North line of N. 32
South line of N. 6
Haywood, C. H. S. 50
Henderson, Montgomery, S. 28
Hillsborough, N. 20
Hopewell Church, Mecklenburg, S. 30
Island Ford, over Catawba, S. 6
Jones' Ferry, Edw. Haw River 0
Kinston, Lenoir, S. W. 6
Lexington, 0
Lincolnton, S. 25
Louisburg, N. 30
McDowell, Gen. Burke, 0
Montgomery, C. H. S. 26
Moore, C. H. S. 30
Morganton, S. 7
Narrows of Yadkin, S. 22
Nash, C. H. N. E. 27
Newbern, 0
New Garden Meeting House, Guilford, N. 18
Old National Ford, S. 52
Orange, North line of N. 32
Oxford, Granville, N. 38
Perkin's Iron Works, Stokes, N. 27
Person, C. H. N. 42
Pittsborough, Chatham, S. 5
Porter, Col. Rutherford, S. 26
Quaker Meeting H. Cane Creek, Orange, N. 8
Raleigh, 0
Randolph, C. H. S. 6
Redfield Ford, Chatham, S. 3
Red House, Caswell, N. 46
Rockford, Surry, N. 31

Page 45

Rockingham, C. H. N. 40
Rockingham, Richmond, S. 51
Rutherfordton, S. 34
Salem, N. 21
Salisbury, S. 10
Sampson, C. H. S. W. 37
Smithfield, S. W. 9
South Carolina line, Rutherford, Co. S. 48
Statesville, Iredell, S. 5
Swanano Gap, S. 12
Tarborough, N. E. 33
Trenton, S. W. 12
Tuckasege Ford, Mecklenburg, S. 38
Virginia line, Ashe Co. N. 48
Wadesborough, Anson, S. 50
Washington, Beaufort, N. E. 26
Waynesborough, S. W. 9
Wilkesborough, N. 21
Williamsborough, Granville, N. 42
Williamston, Martin, N. E. 45

        An example will best illustrate the use of this scheme, and render it perfectly easy to every one. A person is supposed to live at Concord in Cabarrus, or in the vicinity of that place. Looking into the list he finds that he will be situated twenty-six miles south from the rail-road. He knows then that as soon as that work shall be completed, he has at any time only to load his waggon in the evening, to make an early start the next morning, and with a little diligence he will be at the rail-road in the evening of that day. Lines of waggons run daily, receiving and carrying goods on the rail-way, regulated in times and distances by law, and therefore responsible for failure, rivalling each other in accommodation and cheapness of conveyance. The

Page 46

least rate at which they travel is with ten tons to a horse, the horses changing every ten or twelve miles, and at four miles an hour night and day. This is to have the goods carried precisely ninety-six miles in twenty-four hours. We shall be safe in saying it will be one hundred miles in that time. Now if one horse and one man or boy can carry ten tons one hundred miles in twenty-four hours constantly, it is easy to calculate, and so reduce it to a certainty, that the charge of conveyance from Lexington, which is two hundred and fifty miles, is not more than twenty-five cents and a half. It was intended to spread out this calculation to show the reader to his entire satisfaction the correctness of its principles, and the truth of its result. Our space will not admit of it in the present number, but it is our purpose to give it in the next, believing it to be the wish of every reader that it may be possible to convince him of a result in which, if it be undeniable, it is impossible not to see that he is most deeply interested. If a man live fifty miles from the rail-road, and this is the utmost distance at which any one can be in the back part of the state, except perhaps in Haywood, it will take him two days to arrive at it, and we shall say two to return.

        There is some difference between this and being from home a week, a fortnight, three weeks or a month, upon a continual expense, away from his family, his horses often tugging and plunging through deep and heavy roads, and drenching rains till their hearts are broken, himself in continual exposure to the weather as it comes, by night and day, till his own is ready to break, to get his produce to an uncertain market, where every article he purchases has its price augmented by a succession of freights, cartages, and storages. He at length returns to his family, and they scarcely know him. How should they? He is haggard and weather-beaten. His beard is long and black, and

Page 47

full of dirt, because for many days he has not had time to attend to such trifles. His clothes which were new and clean when he left home, are full of mud, and after being washed, evidently show that they are nearly fretted out with rough usage. Perhaps he has not thought it worth while to change them through the whole time of his absence. His constitution too,--how much has it suffered and been broken down by this and all the other trips he has taken of the same kind in his lifetime? The wear and tear of his team, is waggon, and his gear, are no small items in the account of expenses, by which his profits are reduced. His shoes, which are worn out, or spoiled, cost him more than thirty-seven cents, all things considered. Yet this is the man, you will say, who will forbid, on pain of his displeasure and the loss of his vote, his representative in the assembly, to say for him that he will pay thirty-seven cents a year for five years, to put an end for ever, for himself, his children, and the whole country, to this wretched system of marketing. No, I shall reply this cannot be. Let the remedy for such evils and disadvantages be fully understood; let its efficacy be completely ascertained, and let it appear to be attended with such an expense only as has been stated, so that it shall not be oppressive, and the people in their wisdom and fidelity to themselves, will resort to it, and persevere in its application.

September 24, 1827.

Page 48

No. VII.


        A PROMISE has been made to show that when goods, wares, or merchandise, are actually arrived upon the railroad at any point of it, from the neighbouring part of the country, the expense and time of transportation to the sea-coast, or to any other point upon the rail-road, are of so little consequence as to be scarcely worthy of notice. It amounts, as has been said, to little short of a complete annihilation of time and space, to place these goods, wares, or merchandise, at any other point on the rail-way. Is lime, for instance, wanted in those parts of the country next to it? This article is only to be prepared in Sorry, Stokes, or elsewhere, and brought to the rail-road by the nearest route. Then with the additional expense of two cents upon the bushel it may be placed in Raleigh.

        If the reader will consent to accompany the calculation now to be made, it will furnish a specimen of such calculations. In all instances where there is uncertainty, the numbers will be taken to the disadvantage of the rail-road and of the diminution of expense by it. It will be thus seen that the rate of charge upon the hundred in which it terminates, is greater than it would be in reality, and that the conclusion at which we arrive stands upon safe ground. It were easy to make addresses to our pride or our passions, to become exuberant in figures of rhetorick, and to present a thousand phantoms to play delightfully before our wrapped imaginations. Were this done, however, to its fullest extent, no sooner would our minds be permitted to cool

Page 49

and return to sober feeling than we should say, and correctly too, "All this was very handsome, but how much dependence is to be placed on it? Something more than this is necessary to convince me that there is any thing substantial, and tangible, and practically true, in the utility of a rail-road, and in the ease of constructing it. This man certainly speaks to us with no ordinary powers of persuasion; but he has too much sense, and we shall do well to take care how we trust him. Let him give us plain truth, so that we may rest assured that we are not mistaken, and that we are not pursuing visions of fancy instead of substances." To the substance, therefore, let us return, and deal in figures of arithmetic, not in figures of oratory.

        To conveyance on a rail-road, are necessary, 1. Horses. 2. Waggons. 3. Men.

        1. Let it be admitted that one horse with another will endure five years in service, for example, from the end of his fifth to the end of his tenth year. He is such as we may get for one hundred and twenty dollars. Hence twenty-four dollars a year must be made good for the perpetuity of such an animal. If he eats twenty-four barrels of corn a year at two dollars a barrel, this will cost forty-eight dollars. Should he require a ton and a half of hay, or any other forage for a year at fifty cents per hundred, it will be fifteen dollars more. The maintenance of a horse a year then will be,

For capital $24
For corn 48
For hay 15
Total $87

        If the owner receive thirty per cent profit upon this species of capital, the profit upon eighty-seven dollars will be

Page 50

twenty-six dollars and ten cents, but we shall call it in a round number twenty-seven dollars. This added to eighty-seven dollars gives an amount of one hundred and fourteen dollars, which ought to be received annually upon the service of every horse, for keeping up the property, and obtaining a handsome profit upon it of thirty per cent. This will be admitted to be liberal profit enough, and such as he would not be allowed to enjoy long by open competition, but we shall suppose it. The sum of one hundred and fourteen dollars a year is nine dollars and a half a month, or less than thirty-seven cents a day, allowing three hundred and thirteen days to the year, by the exclusion of Sundays. This receipt of thirty-seven cents a day keeps up the capital, and yields a profit of thirty per cent upon it.

        2. Let us next suppose that five waggons must be procured, all to be connected together upon the rail-road, and to be drawn by this horse, of which the value and maintenance have been computed. The cost of one of these iron waggons, according to Strickland, is one hundred and forty dollars, and therefore the five will cost seven hundred. The wheels are of cast iron, and axletrees wrought, and we shall suppose them to last thirty years by laying the axletrees anew sometimes. If the proprietor of the waggons be allowed twenty-four dollars a year for thirty years, it will more than make good his capital. We shall further allow him an interest of eight per cent upon this capital of seven hundred dollars. Six per cent is common interest, but we shall allow eight; and we all know that the profits upon such durable and certain materials ought to be different from that upon horses and other precarious and consumable property. This interest of eight per cent upon seven hundred dollars, is fifty-six dollars per annum. The twenty-four dollars capital and fifty-six dollars interest will be eighty dollars a year for the five waggons, which

Page 51

at three hundred and thirteen days to a year, is less than twenty-six cents a day, but we shall call it twenty-six.

        3. We shall next suppose a man, or a youth of eighteen or twenty years, to drive and take care of the horse. Enough of such persons may be had at twelve dollars a month, or one hunded and forty-four dollars a year, each finding himself. This will be less than forty-eight cents a day, but we shall say fifty.

        In a regular line of carriages for the transportation of goods, a horse passes ten miles with a load toward the sea in one part of a day, and after resting, returns with another load back to the place from which he first set out. By this means ten horses put in successively, and travelling each ten miles forward, and ten miles back, convey one set of goods one hundred miles in one direction in twenty-four hours, and a returning load the same distance back on the same day. Hence the ten horses carry loads through the space of two hundred miles in twenty-four hours. It is one half only of the expense of this work done by the ten horses, which falls upon a load on its way to market. To this it is equivalent to consider five of the horses as travelling forward in one direction twenty miles each, so as to complete the distance of one hundred miles per day, and this shows us the cost of conveyance to the owner of the goods. Collecting together these different items, we shall have the following estimate of expense for carrying ten tons a hundred miles in twenty-four hours:

5 Horses at 37 cents each $1 85
5 Waggons continuing through the whole distance 0 26
5 Men or boys at 50 cents per day 2 50
For 10 tons 100 miles a day $4 61

Page 52

        We can now determine the cost of this transportation by dividing the four dollars and sixty-one cents among the ten tons, and the result will be less than two cents and a third upon a hundred weight, through the distance of a hundred miles in a day.

        This exposition may have been tedious, but it is of infinitely greater value than a hundred arguments, and twice as many periods of glowing imagery, that enter not into the recess of the subject, nor disclose its essential merits. It is hoped that though it has been necessary to pass through a detail of numerical statements, it is still so obvious in its nature, and all its successive particulars, to every farmer and every experienced man, that he has had no difficulty in following it. Should this have been the case, or should it not, the reader is requested to peruse it a second time, with a close and attentive eye, lest an error may have crept in, of sufficient consequence to impair or destroy its validity. It is a subject for the investigation of every arithmetician and accountant, every planter and professional man. Should it be satisfactory and convincing to any one whose neighbour unfortunately cannot look into it for want of the education which himself has enjoyed, is it not of a magnitude to induce him to take the first opportunity to read it in his hearing, and set it before him with such confirmation and evidence as his own views will furnish? Is there a member of our Senate or House of Commons who will not feel himself solicited by the ties that bind him to his constituents, to enter calmly with them into the discussion of this subject, not as a partizan, or with the heat of argumentation, but as a sincere and dispassionate lover of his country, that truths of such vital importance to every man and every family may be perceived in their plainness, and felt with all their effect upon their interests? It is not recommended to any man of influence in society, or to any

Page 53

candidate, to engage in this subject, or any other involving the public good, so as to excite apprehensions of him in the minds of others, or to lose the confidence of the people. Let it be sincerely with a view both to receive and impart information. And when in process of time all, or at least a large majority, shall have seen their interests, and made up their opinions, then let him carry their concurring wishes to the legislative body, that the state may, by its organized representation, resolve deliberately and with perseverance founded on conviction, to prosecute their mature and enlightened purpose. These are undoubtedly the true methods of a free state, at once growing in strength and augmenting the happiness of the people.

        The breadth of our state from north to south in its western part is a hundred miles. By extending a rail-road through the middle of it from east to west, the greatest distance at which any man can be is fifty miles, or two days travel with a loaded waggon*.

        * The writer is aware that twenty miles a day is the common rate of a loaded waggon on a long journey. But a man and team having only two days to travel, can with industry go fifty miles in two days.

If we were to divide this distance of fifty miles on each side of the rail-road into three equal parts, it becomes evident that one third of the state would be within seventeen miles of this great highway running through the country like a public street through a commercial city. Another third would be between seventeen and thirty-four miles from it, and the remaining third between thirty-four and fifty. No sooner does a farmer, a manufacturer, or a merchant, arrive with his produce or his goods at such a rail-way, than the whole extent of it, with all the adjacent country, is thrown open to him for a market, by the payment of two cents and a third upon the conveyance of a hundred weight a hundred
Page 54

miles, every twenty-four hours until, he is at the sea shore. Let us consider that it is as important and desirable to all others as it is to ourselves to resort to this rail-road, for the opportunities of trade. The towns, and villages, and mercantile houses that spring up on each side of it, become the depositories and places of assemblage for every species of merchandise, which others wish to sell or we to purchase. And at any of these places, it may in an hour be determined, where is the best market along the whole extent of the line, through the whole of our own state, and in foreign countries, for such articles as it may be our object to vend. Were the farmer at the distance of three hundred miles from the sea, the transport of a barrel of flour to the coast would cost him fourteen cents. With respect to tolls, they are of little consequence, and can have but slight effect upon the expense of transportation. So great is the assemblage of merchandise of every species, passing to and fro upon such a highway, that a very small payment upon the hundred amounts to a vast sum. This can be realized by reflecting upon the result of two cents a hundred, upon five hundred tons every hundred miles. The facility afforded to travelling upon such a rail-way, where a stage could run continually nine or ten miles an hour, together with the business created to merchants, planters, and other persons from one extremity to the other, would doubtless soon create such a current of passengers, that the tolls necessary for sustaining the expenses of the rail-way, being levied chiefly, and yet without oppression, upon them, would reduce those upon merchandise and agricultural productions, to a rate scarcely worthy of our notice.

        It was just now stated, that according to the calculation already given in this number, with every disadvantage against the rail-way, the expense of carriage upon a barrel

Page 55

of flour three hundred miles would be fourteen cents. Could other states, with all their privileges of soil, and habits of closer industry, cope any longer with the farmer of North Carolina within his own state? If they can sell us flour at six dollars a barrel, our own flour brought from the remotest parts of the country could then be sold at Beaufort with profit, for five and a half. Could they afford it at five and a half, we could furnish it at five. By opening the Harlow canal for steam-boats, a thing to be done by a few thousand dollars in a single season, we could enter with fair competition, through our seaport at Beaufort*,

        * This is pronounced as if spelt Bofort, not Blueford, or Buford. It is an excellent name, and it is a pity it should be marred.

into a trade with Europe, the Mediterranean, South America, and the West Indies, as well as the United States. Money would flow in among us from abroad, and the prompt and easy transportation through the whole extent of our State, would distribute this returning tide of wealth into numberless streams and rills, to quicken our energies, and infuse alacrity and confidence into all our exertions.

Page 56



        AS many persons have not had an opportunity of knowing the manner of a rail-road, it will be well to give a description of it. It is so simple in its construction, that any one will easily understand it.

        To make a rail-road between any two places, the ground must be chosen as levels as possible. It need not however, be exactly level. "If it ascend or decend twenty-seven feet and a half, and no more in a mile, it is considered a level way.*" The breadth we shall suppose to be eight feet, but different rail-roads have different breadths. The earth must be excavated deeply enough to arrive at a firm foundation. If after the choise of the course by a good civil engineer, any bill be in the way, the ridge must be cut through, and the stuff that comes out of it, taken down to make an embankment across the adjacent valley, until the whole road is brought to a level, and made compact. Pieces of timber eight feet long and a foot square are laid across to serve as sleepers, having their upper surfaces level. In a rail-road at a place called Mauch Chunk in Pennsylvania, the sleepers were placed four feet apart; but at the Quincy rail-road in Massachusetts, the interval between the sleepers is eight feet**. Long pieces of timber are placed

        * See Strickland.

        ** See "Report of the Committee appointed by the Baltimore and Ohio Rail-road Company, to examine the Mauch Chunk and Quincy rail roads" pp 2 and 5.

Page 57

on the sleepers, in the direction of the road, as string pieces upon the piers of a common bridge, only that being long, each extends over several of the sleepers. There are, however, only two of these string pieces by the side of one another, and at the distance of the wheels, and these are called the rails. Thus two continuous lines of timber are formed from one end of the road to the other, by pieces well connected together at their ends. They are fastened down upon the sleepers by bolts of iron, or pins of wood, or by wooden keys, to keep them always firm in their places. At the Quincy rail-road already mentioned, these rails are "six inches wide and twelve inches deep." On the top of the rails and next to their inner edges, they are covered along their whole length with a line of rolled iron like waggon tire, about an inch and a half wide, and a quarter of an inch thick. Earth is then thrown in, and covered with gravel or such material as will make a close and firm path for the horse, leaving the tops of the rails a small distance above the surface.

        Should the country be so rapid in its ascent or descent, as to make it necessary to raise or depress the waggons which run upon these rails from one level to another, this is done by constructing the connecting rail-road between the two levels after the manner of an inclined plane, and drawing up or letting down the waggons by machinery, or stationary steam engines placed at the top. Sometimes the waggons are lifted or let down perpendicularly from one level to another, by the proper mechanic forces.

        The waggons that run upon such a rail-way are of iron, the wheels being cast, the axeltrees wrought, and the whole made with perfection and strength. They are such as engineers called flanged wheels, the flange being an extension of the rim all round it on the inside next to the waggon, so that the wheels resting upon the rail, these flanges reach

Page 58

down, and prevent them from running off the tracks, should they happen to be directed sidewise. Carriages in opposite directions pass one another, by lateral tracks at convenient distances, turning off in a small angle, and in like manner returning into the main road. It is not uncommon to have rail-ways made double, allowing to the trade in each direction its own road. In this case connexions are formed between the two, that a carriage travelling more rapidly than another, may leave its own road, run a small distance upon the other, and then regain its proper track.

        An iron rail-way differs by having the rails to consist wholly of iron instead of wood. Each piece of iron is made four feet long, and they are supported at their extremities where they join one another, by blocks of stone, with their upper surfaces hewn flat and smooth. In the end of each piece of the railing, is an indenture, so that when two come together a hole is completed, through which a pin or bolt is driven into a corresponding hole in the stone, to secure all together in their proper position. In northern climates foundations of stone must be laid under the sleepers of rail-ways to the depth of three or four feet, to prevent the effects of frost, which during their severe winters penetrates far into the ground. In our latitude this expense is needless, at least in the eastern parts of the state, as the ground is never frozen two feet deep.

        In countries where the price of timber is much higher than with us, an iron rail-way costs twice as much as one made of wood; but the latter answers the same purpose. This too, is of great import to us on account of the abundance and cheapness of timber through the whole of our State. But we shall best ascertain the expense by consulting facts. A committee was appointed by the "Baltimore and Ohio Rail-road Company" to examine the Mauch Chunk and Quincy rail-roads. A part of their report is

Page 59

here inserted, and it may well produce surprise and gratification. These are their words: "The elevation of the coal mine at Mauch Chunck above the Lehigh river, at the point where the coal is delivered into boats, is nine hundred and thirty six feet. From this mine the road rises forty-six feet in half a mile, and there reaches the extreme point of its elevation, which is nine hundred and eighty-two feet above the water. The distance from this place to the river is about eight miles and a half. The road then constantly descends by an irregular declivity. There is at the bank of the river an abrupt termination of the mountain, upon which is constructed an inclined plane seven hundred feet long, below which there is still a further descent of twenty-five feet down a chute, through which the coal is conveyed into boats. The whole of the Mauch Chunck rail-road extending the distance of nine miles, and including the inclined plane of seven hundred feet long, was consructed in two months and three days, from the time of its commencement, so that waggons have since regularly passed upon it. The cost, including the seven hundred feet of inclined plane, is stated to be between $2500 and $3,000 per mile." On this rail-way two horses draw ten waggons connected together by iron chains, and weighing with their loads twenty-two tons, and this shows that the road is constructed, at the price stated, with sufficient strength and solidity of foundation, to sustain any pressure which there is occasion to put upon it, and it continues to do this from year to year.

        Here then is a rail-way along the side of the 'Blue Mountains,' in circumstances far from favourable we should think for diminution of expense, which cost no more than $2500 or $3,000 a mile. Can it be doubted that a rail-road, at least through the generally level country between Newbern and Raleigh, may be completed upon terms

Page 60

equally advantageous? It is presumed that in these more advantageous circumstances, $2500 a mile upon an average would be amply sufficient. Even among our hills it is probable that the work would be as easy for the most part as it was through these nine miles at the coal mine. There the descents were to be made regular, and brought upon the whole within the compass of one degree. There must have been many a ravine to cross, many a circuitous turn to be made, and foundations and supports to be constructed, that the whole might be reduced to such regular declivities as must be combined for attaining the object. The skill of a practised engineer finds easy expedients where we might apprehend great obstacles. The committee accordingly inform us that "there are various crossing places along the course of the road, and several turns out, both of which are easily effected at a very small expense. There are also many considerable curvatures along the side of the mountain, to suit the localities of the ground; and these sinuosities are effected with the greatest facility, by simply elevating the rail on the outer curve a little higher than the rail on the inner curve, which gives a ready direction to the waggons in their passage, without any other result than lessening their velocity, which is retarded at these points by the increased lateral friction occasioned by the flanges of the wheels.

        It is interesting to hear the committee remark respecting the Quincy rail-way, that "there are several deep ravines crossed by this road, which are passed on wooden frames of a much less expense, than it would have cost to fill them with earth*."

        * See "Report of the Committee appointed by the Baltimore and Ohio Rail-road Company," p. 6.

Page 61

        A committee was appointed by the legislature of Massachusetts, "to ascertain the most eligible means of opening a direct inland communication between Boston and the Hudson river at Albany." It is cheering to hear their report, that "the rivers and other streams of water to be passed by the proposed rail-road, are not such as to afford any serious difficulty. Bridges can be constructed, differing little in their form, except the rails, from those in common use*."

        * See "Proceedings of sundry citizens of Baltimore," p. 18.

How vastly lighter is this both in expense and workmanship, than the aqueducts necessary to canals in passing rivers, and even embankments across ravines and narrow valleys may be superseded by methods of small comparative expense.

        Never were a people in circumstances more propitious than ours for engaging in such a work, and at the same time more imperiously calling us into action. It is needless to speak of our ability to raise funds, or to bear the expense. When thirty-seven cents a year upon each taxable poll will instantly make the work commence and advance with rapid strides from year to year, to its accomplishment, is there an individual of so desponding a mind as to think this is too much for him to pay? Will it not rather be said, really, if this be all, it is nothing? We have been accustomed to suppose that to effect such works as these, the most burdensome taxation must fall upon the body of the people, and upon all sorts of property, and that this was not all, but that the state must be involved deeply and dangerously in debt, to bear upon ourselves and our children as a harassing and oppressive load. But if it is made out, and can be shown, that such a sum as thirty-seven cents each, will commence and carry on by distances of

Page 62

forty or thirty-five miles a year, a rail-road that will throw open to us a market for our produce from the mountains to the ocean, and abroad as well as at home through a seaport of our own, as to such a contribution as this, it is nothing. The sale of a single bushel of corn, or apples, or a gallon of brandy, or two gallons of vinegar, or a pair of stockings, which one of the family will take pride in knitting in a week by the evening fire, when it is for so important an enterprise as this, will be enough to keep off all fear of difficulty. Such a sum can be made out nearly three times with a scythe in one harvest day. The carpenter can make it in six hours, and the merchant by selling less than two dollars worth of goods. We live in peaceful times, and under the happiest of governments upon earth. Every one can go and come upon his farm or his occupation, whatever it be, and busy himself at his discretion about the best methods of supporting his family and enlarging his property. If any man is in debt, whatever may be said of particular cases, it is true in general, that all which is necessary to put an end to this, is to use with perseverance such exertion and economy as are in every one's power.

        Other states have engaged in enterprises of this nature, but in no instance have they done it with such facilities as are in our favour, at least with respect to the hundred and forty miles from Beaufort to Raleigh. Many of them have cut canals, and are now making rail-roads through countries where hills and rocks, where the frosts of violent and protracted winters, where scarcity and expensiveness of materials, have presented themselves in array to shake them with apprehensions, and deter them from their meditated purpose. On such occasions, the cries of solicitude and alarm have been raised by the timid, and unreconciled opposition has exhausted its resources of ingenuity and

Page 63

strength to divert the people from their purpose. But they became intelligent in their views, and were themselves prepared to answer every cavil. Convinced that their plans were practicable, and that they must inevitably secure first deliverance from distress, and afterwards a rapid growth in prosperity, they have held on the firm and even tenor of their course, till the voice of dissent has at last expired amidst the incontrovertible evidences of a flourishing state. In regard to ourselves and the object before us, from Beaufort to Newbern, a distance of thirty-six miles by water through the canal, the way may be said to be already open. From Newbern to the capital in a direct line is one hundred miles. Of this, the distance of eighty miles to where it meets the Neuse a second time, has a surface so nearly plane, and an ascent so gentle, being certainly at no higher rate than four or five feet to a mile, that the ground work may be prepared by removing the earth two or three feet deep and eight feet wide, except where provision is to be made for turning out, or for crossing streams of water. Should there be any occasion at all for cutting through small hills and levelling up the cavities next to them, it is certain that but little of such work would have to be done. Through the whole of that country no rocks are in the way, at least they are certainly very rare. At the same time, timber of the most durable quality, and upon the cheapest terms, is every where present upon the spot. If it be the lot of North Carolina to suffer under a privation of opportunities, providence has put the relief into her own power upon such easy conditions as are enjoyed no where except in these southern states. Would it be reason or gratitude to ask that they should be still less? Nearly one half of the distance from the sea to the mountains is given to us upon such terms, that the most perfect mode of transportation known upon earth, is attainable at the very

Page 64

least expense. Thus it is evident, that the large extent of level country between the hills and the ocean on which we have been accustomed to brood as one of the most disheartening evils to which our country could be doomed, is at length, in the developments of providence, in one way at least convertible into a most signal advantage. It is for North Carolina to seize without a moment's delay upon the facilities thus put into her hands, to open herself a passage into the market of the world, through the healthiest port, and in other respects one of the best, on the southern coast.

        Admit that this portion of the rail-way from Newbern to Raleigh may be constructed for twenty-five hundred dollars per mile, and if this was the cost in Pennsylvania along the side of a mountain, it could not be greater through a level almost unbroken through the lower part of the state, then the whole of this hundred miles can be completed by raising a hundred thousand dollars a year in the manner already suggested. The treasury of the state is never without supernumerary funds, beyond the immediate emergencies of the government. Were these and others as they incidentally occur, directed upon this great object, who can doubt that at the expiration of the time the desired result would actually give evidence for itself, no longer questionable, of its inestimable value? Might we not confidently trust, under the blessings of heaven upon the vigorous efforts of a people to improve the opportunities of their industry, that the work will have grown to a still greater extent?

Oct. 22, 1827.

Page 65

No. IX.


        LET it not cease to be remembered, that while such statements are presented, together with facts serving to confirm them, it is not wished that they be taken for granted without faithful inquiry and practical examination. It is easy to enumerate a long list of civil engineers, who would give such a report as would satisfy every mind. Ought we then to delay such an investigation for a moment? Its cost cannot be much, and it must lead to some important issues, with which at present we are too little acquainted.

        If we can find a level to a seaport town, through the lower part of our state, on which a locomotive engine can run sixty or eighty miles, carrying fifty tons six miles an hour, it is such an instance of conveyance as is not yet exhibited either in the northern states or Great Britain. As that engine is at present constructed, it cannot move up a rail-road that ascends more than a small limited number of feet in a mile, and there are few portions of the earth's surface where such long levels can be found*.

        * M. Ward on Railways.

        The same alluvial country, it is well known, extends from the sea coast of New-Jersey near the city of New-York, to the southern extremity of the United States. A railway could probably be made through this whole distance upon an uninterrupted plane. The time will probably come when a steam-carriage, or locomotive engine, as it is commonly called, will travel on such a track from Amboy

Page 66

or Shrewsbury to Savannah, a distance of seven hundred miles, in two days and a half, and carry passengers for twenty dollars a piece, with liberal profit to the proprietors**.

        * A passenger in a packet boat on the great Western Canal of New-York, travels three hundred and thirty-six miles in four days, from Schenectady to Buffalo, for thirteen dollars and a half, and every thing is found. The boat never goes more than four miles an hour: whereas a steam-carriage can go twelve.

As in consequence of this long unbroken level, covered with light-wood, which is among the most imperishable species of timber, the road might probably be completed for two millions of dollars in two years, is it not worthy of consideration with capitalists throughout the United States?

        To every southern state similar advantages are offered by nature for forming rail-roads to be coursed by steam-carriages, from the sea to the interior part of the country. These may prove the most efficient means of giving existence to active and thriving enterprise in agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, which now comparatively languish in this part of the union. Wherever rail-roads are extended, into whatever districts, counties, towns, and villages, they are made to penetrate, all are brought into instant intelligence and commercial intercourse. Arteries and veins are thus opened for quick and active circulation. Vitality is propagated to the extremities; the whole body assumes the aspect of fullness and health, elastic strength is felt in every part, and life becomes enjoyment in all its sensations and prospects.

        What then is to be done? Shall we persist to sit motionless in this morbid state of imaginary helplessness, and like the man of glass, refuse to exert ourselves, lest we break into a thousand pieces? Were it not better to make some effort to amend our condition, though it should be attended with some uncertainty, when the loss to each individual,

Page 67

even should we fail, cannot render our situation worse? But of loss we cannot be in danger, if we take the precaution first to determine the practicability and cost of our undertaking. If the people approve of advancing to any such measure as it has been the object of these expositions to place before our view, it is easy for their representation in the Legislature to learn their will upon the subject. Let this will be distinctly and decisively communicated. As soon as the members of our assembly shall be embodied in the capitol, they will find concentrated there the intelligence and consistency which constitute strength and assure success in the administration of a popular government, and in the prosecution of any enterprise for the general welfare. The spirit of wisdom is a spirit of co-operation, of mutual concession, of sincere patriotic effort, consulting the enlightened wishes of the people, uniting the resources and faithful counsels of various minds, to obtain a perfect knowledge of the subject, to see its difficulties, to devise the means of removing or surmounting them, to combine the best expedients, and thus at last to conduct, if possible, a plan for the relief of common embarrassment, and for securing the general prosperity, by safe means, to a happy conclusion. If fifty thousand dollars can be raised by the small individual payment so often mentioned, and the people of the different counties, or a large proportion of them, are prepared for such a step, let it be done the very ensuing year. We shall assuredly all feel that no time is to be lost. Had this been done three years ago, with the same light and experimental knowledge as now flow in upon us from other parts of our country and the world, not one of us would have been affected in our fortunes or interests, by the dollar and seventeen cents to which it would have now amounted. Yet we should by this time have been realizing the advantages of bringing

Page 68

our produce to a rail-way at Raleigh or some point above it, and of conveying it, if we pleased, even to the sea coast, for less than five cents a hundred, including all the tolls which could have been necessary. Let not this be thought to disagree with the calculation already made. That showed us the cost of carriage upon a hundred weight, when horses were employed; but through our lower country, the price of conveyance would be reduced at a rate we have not yet considered, by a locomotive engine through the probable distance even of sixty or eighty miles*.

        * A steam-carriage costs about as much as a common post-coach with its horses.

        The name of taxation, it is true, is unpleasant to us. It is not to be denied that this is as it should be. But why? Not that we should instantly stop our ears against the sound, and be afraid to trust our judgment or good sense in the plainest matters; but that we may look well to the object, its real usefulness, and the certainty and ease with which it may be effected. When our minds are once become luminous and settled in safe, practical truth, it is so far from reasonable to shrink from a small tax, as a sensitive plant does from the touch, that a resort to it is one of our most valuable privileges. By means of it we can easily accomplish our greatest personal advantage and the good of the whole community, while without it, these must be given in despair. Let it be called, however, if it please us better, the rail-road fund. Let it be raised expressly for this purpose, and exclusively set apart for this alone. Let us by some means, if possible, get rid of the difficulty we feel, about an increase of what we call the standing tax, that we may not be consigned for ever to the privations and intolerable oppression we are inflicting upon ourselves; an oppression to which, if it proceeded from another hand,

Page 69

we should probably nerve ourselves with a heroic courage, and determine never to submit.

        But let it be admitted, that the assembly, at its very next session, with the approbation of their constituents, proceed to pass a law for raising one of these sums of fifty thousand dollars the ensuing year. The year must elapse, before an engineer can be prepared to report, and therefore before we can be ripe for commencing the application of the fund. At the expiration of the time, if we shall find reason to abandon all thoughts of such an object, the fund will remain in the treasury subject to the disposal of the people by the legislature. In one year, we cannot doubt that the whole subject can be explained to the entire satisfaction of all. If at the end of the time we shall feel prepared to act, and no money has been raised, another year must pass away, though it should prove of the utmost importance to engage forthwith in extricating ourselves from the pressure of our difficulties. It can scarcely be doubted, however, that in our favourable circumstances, the plan will be found practicable, and that too upon easy terms. But that our illustration may proceed, let us consider the rail-road fund of one year to be prepared at the end of 1828, and that we are resolved, in consequence of a convincing explanation of the engineer, to commence the work. It is begun in 1829, and as it advances, the regular collection of that year could be easily united with that of the preceding, by means of our banks, which would doubtless offer it upon the assurance of the state, that it should be replaced at the close of the year. In this manner a hundred thousand dollars is instantly put into action in 1829. Can it be supposed that when the purpose of the state is thus unequivocally manifested, an equal sum, for which we should look to the subscription of capitalists in our own and other states, would not be made up even with

Page 70

avidity, and in the best hands? This subscription it will be remembered, is invited with the prospect of seven or eight per cent, until the principal shall be returned, and it would become profitable to the subscribers at the end of the year. Having thus at command the total sum of two hundred thousand dollars, we should in a single year see eighty miles of the rail-road completed. This is upon the supposition already made, of 2500 dollars a mile, according to the precedent of the Lehigh rail-road, for eighty miles at such a rate, amounts to two hundred thousand dollars and no more. This mode of improvement is not attended with the agitating uncertainty for ever threatening a canal, and keeping us tremblingly in suspense, first in the discovery of its precarious route, and then afterwards, not only till it is finished, but for a year longer, till it shall have been fully tried, and all its deficiencies detected and repaired. These are evils with which it is a serious matter to contend, for they keep alive the weakening apprehensions of the timid, and are potent weapons in the hands of opposition.

        Admitting all this to be accomplished, we are now arrived at the moment when the whole scene is changed. That which till now was a subject of anticipation, however well founded, is brought to the touchstone of experiment. The Harlow canal would be open for steam-boats. New merchants from our own and other states, in the prospect of gain, would have flowed into Newbern and Beaufort, and the old ones would have enlarged their means of business to the utmost. Thus would be created all the rivalship and capital necessary to ensure the best market to the agriculturist. A locomotive engine would run through the whole distance in a few hours, with the advantage of reducing the price of conveyance, by carrying fifty tons in its train. The entire population of our extensive sounds

Page 71

and their tributary rivers, would see them beginning to display a frequented theatre of steam-boats, moving ten miles an hour. It is such a revolution as must be felt. No longer would the trade of North Carolina be seen running away to Norfolk. That place, as all the inhabitants of these counties know, has long been declining, and is now sunk to a very low ebb. It is struggling to maintain itself and revive its hopes, by enlarging the gorge of the Elizabeth canal, and thus preparing to swallow and subsist upon our spoils. It is for us to say, whether the commerce of all that portion of our state shall centre there or at Beaufort. This grand question may be decided in a very short time, and happily the decision is in our own power. It is for us to say, whether we will direct the whole trade of the interior part of our country by a rail-road to Newbern, and by combining with it that of the Albemarle and Pamlico, raise Beaufort as with a wand into a populous and commercial seaport. If we can only be satisfied that such a consummation is within our power, as it certainly is, and that it ought to be commenced and prosecuted, it is obviously of consequence that it be with as little delay as possible. Ere long we may find it no easy matter to regain that trade which, through the efforts making at Norfolk, will certainly in a short time find an outlet there. No less than twenty counties upon our sounds and their rivers, are instantly and deeply interested in the establishment and prosperity of Beaufort*.

        * These are Bertie, Carteret, Currituck, Chowan, Camden, Edgecombe, Gates, Halifax, Hertford, Hyde, Jones, Martin, Northampton, Onslow, Pasquotank, Perquimons, Pitt, Tyrrell, Warren, Washington.

Were eighty miles of the railroad completed, it would pass directly through three other counties**,

        ** Green, Johnston, and Wayne.

and the inhabitants of ten others could arrive at
Page 72

it in one, two, and three days, with loaded waggons*. The whole number of these counties is thirty-three. It must appear somewhat surprising, and certainly not less gratifying, that so large a proportion of all the counties of the state will begin to experience the advantages of such a rail-way, by the completion of the first eighty miles, which by a favourable disposition of providence, can be constructed most easily, with the greatest extent of level for a steam-carriage, and with the least expense. We scarcely need remark that by the rapid annual growth of the work, at thirty or forty miles a year, other counties would be reached by it still further back, till like an enchanter, by its severing touch, would soon break in pieces the fetters of the remotest west, and give the people universally to exult in the privileges of open and equal commerce with the world.

        * These are Chatham, Cumberland, Duplin, Franklin, Granville, Lenoir, Nash, Orange, Sampson, Wake.

        In speaking of the western parts of the state, we are reminded of an advantage in rail-roads, which canals cannot have. To these, mountains present invincible obstructions, but rail-ways are independent of waters, except to pass over them, and may be extended into the inmost recesses of a country where canals can never come. Even in the early stage of the one we are now considering, money would flow from abroad, not only to the places in its immediate neighbourhood, but far beyond them into remoter counties. From a space one hundred miles in breadth, and one hundred and thirty in length*, flour, corn, peas, all sorts of grain and vegetables, beef, pork, butter, tallow, lard, cotton, tobacco, turpentine, tar, pitch, shingles, staves, and

        * This number results from adding fifty miles to the length supposed to be finished in the first year, for places so situated would be within such a distance of the rail-way as would make it important to them.

Page 73

different kinds of lumber, could be conveyed to Beaufort by the rail-road and the river for a few cents a hundred, and salt, with all manufactured goods and merchandise, brought back upon the same terms. Even at this commencing period, no market would probably offer so great advantages to a farmer in the upper country, as the extremity of the rail-road, or any point of it, for when he should reach this, the difficulty and expense of transportation would be at an end, the locomotive and steam engines do the rest of the business. Many things which at first appear to be fancies, grow into importance by such instrumentalities as these. Fish and oysters could be brought into Raleigh fresh, and for very little more than they cost in Newbern, or on the sea shore. The enlargement even of this market, would at once be of great consequence to numbers in the upper country, and provision be made for many families in the lower and near the sea, that would subsist or be enriched by supplying the market. Travelling would cost but little. By a communication so easy, and by the intimacy of commercial intercourse, the east and the west would become blended in their interests and feelings. They would easily unite in any undertaking for the general weal. As soon as this connexion should be made between Newbern and the capital, the members of our legislature in a body, were they disposed to examine the work, and witness its efficiency, could breakfast in Raleigh, dine in Newbern, and arrive in Beaufort in less than fifteen hours, including all requisite delays, and with a perfect smoothness of motion through the whole distance. When this thoroughfare should reach the western parts of the state, how easy and unexpensive a transition would it furnish to individuals and families in the unhealthy seasons of the year, from the lower country to the mountains! Then, the people of the east might, upon terms which numbers would find compatible

Page 74

with their circumstances, drink the refreshing springs, breathe the salubrious atmosphere, and feast upon the scenery of our mountains; while those of the west would be no less invigorated by the streams of wealth diffused among them. Our minds too would be expanded by intercourse with the diversified characters and circumstances of men, the hearts of the people would be knit together by an intelligent and comprehensive intercourse, and public spirit burn in our bosoms with a more vivid and quickening flame.

        The conclusion to which all that can be said on this subject immediately points, is of serious consideration it is true, but as it is safe, and has nothing in it rash or appalling, it cannot be amiss to consult, with a deep and becoming deference, the decision we may be prepared to make. Is it comprised in two inquiries, which it must be for every man to answer, as shall appear concurrent with his convictions of his own interest and the welfare of his country. First, It is our wish that the assembly, at its approaching session, shall provide that a civil engineer be employed for the year 1828, to explore the route of a rail-road as directly as possible from Newbern to the metropolis of our state, and thence westward along the best and shortest course through the middle of the state to its western extremity, and to report to the legislature at its next succeeding session, respecting the practicability, the means, and the cost of such a rail-road? 2. Will the people recommend to their legislature at its sessions now to ensue, to call upon them by a law to be passed for the purpose, for the sum of thirty seven cents a poll, beyond the ordinary taxes for the support of government and its contingencies, that at the end of 1828, a fund may be constituted for commencing such a rail-road, if the people shall then sanction it by their legislature; but if not, that the fund thus collected

Page 75

may remain in the public treasury to await their future determination?

        If there be a member of the legislature who is ardently desirous to engage in this business, there is danger of excessive haste and of excessive delay. If he fall into either of these evils, the injurious consequences to the object he would promote, are to be seen by a consideration, that it is the relief and the future prosperity of eight hundred thousand people now constituting the population of our state and their posterity, that is to be affected by his mistake. The subject is a safe one in itself. It requires only wisdom and integrity in the prosecution of it, to unfold brighter prospects to our present inert and suffering condition. Time is necessary to full information and general concert. Let us not think it mis-spent or running to waste, if it be necessary for giving a clear insight to the people of the nature, the efficacy, and the certainty of the means by which our deliverance can be effected. Let every man who feels that he is a friend to his country be willing to believe that every man is no less so, and that he will give full evidence of it in action, the moment he sees distinctly and clearly how it may be done. We have been apt to think that providence was against us, by having hemmed us in with insuperable obstacles on every side. If it has been so in times past, it is so no longer. Providence has favoured us by preventing us from doing what we once wished to do. But for its interposition, we should by this time have been entangled inextricably in we know not how many canals half finished, but not half so valuable as a single rail-road, and each of them costing four times as much. Providence now tells us the way is easy, and we shall soon stand up in all the privileges of unrestricted liberty, if we will only do that which amounts to a bare exertion; if we will only prove

Page 76

that a spirit of life animates our bosoms, and that we can appreciate the blessings it holds in reserve for us.

        Were a power to begird us with a tyrant at its head, and pronounce an interdict upon such means of freeing ourselves from the disadvantages that now oppress us, not only should we submit to the small expense necessary for its accomplishment, but we should feel the wrong of being denied our privileges, our hands would be upon our swords, our appeal would be to the God of battles, nor would streams of blood and treasure stop us in advancing to it. Why? because we should begin to look at it. We should understand it. Soon there would be not a man in the community that could not explain it. All would see its value. Having the object before us with all its facilities, and all its moment to us as a people, a prohibition of it would be a yoke which our necks would never consent to wear.

        And is it not as easy to investigate the merits of a question now, as it would be in the case we have supposed? If the interest of the people is deeply concerned, as all feel it to be, they will, without difficulty, enter into the subject, when it is faithfully presented to them. If it can be made plain to a little consideration, it is for every man that can do it, (and who is there that cannot?) to examine it minutely and circumstantially, to diffuse information around him, and to receive such as may be communicated by others. If the work can be easily performed, and at an expense which no man would feel, this also may be made to appear to our own and the satisfaction of others.

October 27, 1827.

Page 77

No. X.

        IT is proposed in this Number to present to the reader a succession of testimonies on rail-roads and canals. They are derived from the very highest authorities in England and the United States. By perusing them attentively we may become more familiar with the subject in its various aspects and circumstances, and we shall derive a confidence from them which cannot fail to be satisfactory.

        Mr. Thomas Gray has written "Observations on a general Iron Rail-way or Land Steam Conveyance." This work has passed through five editions in a very short time. The extracts to be given are from the last.

1. Extract from Gray, page 36.

        "The experience already had of our canal conveyance, cannot fail to convince every reader, after due observation, that the heavy expense attending the construction and repair of canal boats, with all their multifarious tackle, men's wages, horses and their keep, must render the transport much dearer than by a rail-way, which so peculiarly combines both economy of time and labour; and the few hands required to superintend a gang of waggons on a rail-way, compared with those employed in the conveyance of the same freight by a canal."

2. Extract from Gray, page 104.

        "A rail-way can, according to circumstances, be made at from a half to a fourth of the expense of a canal, and convey

Page 78

goods more cheaply, which would render them lucrative, when other modes would be ruinous."

        The reader needs to bear in mind that these things are said in England of iron rail-ways. In our State, wooden rail-ways can probably be made, especially over level parts of the country, at one half or one fourth of what they would cost if made of iron. With us then, a wooden rail-way would not probably be more than one eighth as expensive as a canal, and yet conveyance by the former is cheaper than by the latter.

3. Extract from Gray, pages 180, 181.

        "Experience has confirmed the advantages of rail-ways, and the simplicity attending them. They obviate many objections to canals, arising from the localities of the country. When great elevations have to be passed over, the lockage on canals is excessive, and the consequent supply of water expensive, and perhaps only to be obtained by interfering with the vested rights of mill owners."

        "Rail-ways of iron may be constructed at one fifth part of the expense of canals." "Canals take the richest land, and are circuitous by following the valleys, and the carriage from them is ascending. Rail-ways may pass along the tops and sides of hills from whence the carriage of coals and heavy goods will be conveyed into the neighbourhood without the obstacles of hills, and their elevation admits of branches from them at little expense, wherever mines or a populous village make it desirable."

4. Extract from Gray, page 186.

        "By the locomotive engine fifty tons of goods may be conveyed by a ten horse power engine, on a level road at the rate of six miles an hour, and lighter weights at a proportionate increase of speed. Carriages for the conveyance

Page 79

of passengers, at the rate of twelve or fourteen miles per hour. For canals it is necessary to have a dead level, but not so for rail-roads. An engine will work goods over an elevation of one eighth of an inch to the yard. Where the ascent or descent is rapid, and cannot be counteracted by cuttings or embankments, recourse must be had to permanent engines and inclined planes, just as recourse is had to locks for a canal. But here again, the rail-road system has a great advantage. The inclined plane causes no delay, while locking creates a great deal."

5. Extract from Gray, page 202.

        "The distance from Birmingham to the Mersey, opposite to Liverpool, by the projected rail-road, will be eighty-six miles; the distance by the canal is one hundred and twelve miles; and I believe besides this there is a passage of eighteen or twenty miles down the river Mersey. The average time of conveying goods by the rail-road from Birmingham to Liverpool will be ten hours and a half; that by the canal is four days and a half, and occasionally a longer time is required. The distance from Birmingham to Wolverhampton by the rail-road will be eleven miles and a half, and the time occupied in conveying goods from Birmingham to that place, will be about one hour and a half, while the distance by canal is twenty miles, and the time of conveyance seven hours."

        6. Extract. This is from a report of a committee appointed by the legislature of Massachusetts to determine the most eligible means of opening a direct inland communication between Boston and the Hudson river at Albany. Their conclusion is that the rail-way is preferable. A part of their reports is as follows:

        "The numerous rail-ways which have been for several years in successful operation in the hilly and mountainous

Page 80

districts of Wales, and in the North of England, prove their fitness to an uneven and undulating country. They are not like canals confined to a supply of water, and a series of levels, but they admit of a variation like other roads. True, a level road, where the transportation is equal both ways, is the best. But unless the deviation generally exceeds twenty-seven feet and a half to a mile, it is practically considered a level way. This deviation is nearly equal to three and a half locks on a mile of canal*." A lock costs nearly one thousand dollars to every foot of lift.

        * The average lift of a lock is eight feet.

        "The rivers and other streams of water to be passed by the proposed rail-road, are not such as to afford any serious difficulty. Bridges can be constructed, differing little in their form, except the rails, from those in common use."

        "There are already constructed in Great Britain, near two thousand miles of rail-way, and many new routes are contemplated."

        "The expense of transportation on the rail-ways of England has been computed by Dr. Anderson, to be only one tenth part of the amount it is upon the turnpike roads." Here it may be well for us to be reminded that the turnpike roads in England are very different from what we call turnpike roads in North Carolina. Goods are transported on the turnpike road between London and Liverpool, the whole distance of two hundred and twenty miles, for four pence sterling a hundred, or about seven cents of our money. "In South Wales," says the Edinburgh Encyclopædia, "a large uninhabited district of sterile mountains, may be said all at once to have become the seat of populous towns and villages, by the introduction of the rail-way system."

Page 81

        7. Mr. Middleton made his survey of Middlesex in England before rail-roads had attained the acknowledged superiority which they now have over canals. His observations on the utility of the latter are now much more applicable to the former. As his only object was, not a comparison of their merits, but to show the advantages of such easy and prompt means of conveyance, his remarks are extracted as though he had spoken of rail-roads.

        "After certain leading ones were executed, every man of considerable landed property would find it to be his interest to make a small one through his estate for bringing manure and carrying away the produce. The extension of them may become the most powerful means of promoting general cultivation. They would tend to equalize the price of every article in life, more than all other things put together. They would afford the cheapest, the safest, and the easiest conveyance of every article. The benefits would be universal. The remoter parts of this, and every other country, would be placed more on terms of equality with those that are near, and every other part might reap advantages which may be foreseen, but which are much too great for calculation. Of the two methods of raising the money for making them, the one which seems to deserve the preference is, the mode by which turnpike roads are usually provided for, instead of entrusting it to the management of interested companies. The latter method is exceptionable, from its creating a perpetual charge on all goods sent by that conveyance, without regarding the money expended, or the interest it may ultimately produce, which is a very imprudent bargain for the public."

        8. Another extract will be made from the American edition of the Edinburgh Encyclopedia on Inland Navigation. This also was applied to canals, but it is now

Page 82

more eminently true of rail-roads in their present perfection, and on account of their inferior cost.

        "A country is never made poorer by making internal improvements, even if the people are taxed," especially in very small sums, "to make them. If money be taken from the people, it is again paid out among them, and kept in circulation. If the estimate of the illustrious Fulton as to the expense at which goods can be transported on canals," and therefore on railways, "be correct, the cost of transporting a barrel of flour to the city of New-York, allowing ten barrels to a ton, will be as follows:

  Miles. Cents.
From the Ohio to Lake Erie, 200 20
Down Lake Erie, 260 20
Through the New-York canal, 353 35
Down the Hudson to New-York, 160 15
Total for carrying a barrel of flour, 973 90"

        Hence it appears by an authority which we all know how to respect in such matters, that by these modes of conveyance, a barrel of flour may be carried nine hundred and seventy-three miles for ninety cents, or one hundred miles for nine cents and a quarter.

        9. It is an object which involves both our curiosity and interest, to see the rates of toll charged and received by the state of New-York upon produce and merchandise, for transportation on the Erie canal. They are extracted from the "canal laws" of that state.

        "On salt, half a cent a ton per mile. Gypsum or Plaster of Paris, half a cent a ton per mile. Flour, meal, and all kinds of grain, salted provisions, pot and pearl ashes, one cent a ton per mile. Merchandise, two cents a ton

Page 83

per mile. Timber squared and round, half a cent for one hundred solid feet per mile. Boards, plank, and scantling, reduced to inch measure, and all siding, lath, and other sawed stuffs, less than one inch thick, half a cent for a thousand feet per mile. Shingles, one mill, or the tenth part of a cent a thousand per mile. Brick, sand, lime, iron ore and stone, half a cent a ton per mile. Rails and posts for fencing, two cents a thousand per mile. Wood for fuel, one cent a cord per mile All fuel to be used in the manufacture of salt to pass free. Boats made and used chiefly for transportation of property, on each ton of their capacity, one mill per mile. Boats made and used chiefly for the carriage of persons, five cents per mile of their passage. Staves and heading for pipes, one cent a thousand per mile. Staves and heading for hogsheads, seven mills, that is, seven tenths of a cent a thousand, per mile. Staves and heading, for barrels or less, five mills, or half a cent a thousand, per mile. All articles not enumerated, one cent a ton, per mile*."

        * See "Canal Laws of New-York," Vol. II. p. 13.

        The commissioners, speaking of the Champlain canal in the year 1821, in their first report after its completion, say, that "although the navigation was interrupted for three months by a deficiency of water on the summit level, yet during the spring and fall considerable quantities of lumber were transported from lake Champlain to the Hudson. The whole quantity of lumber which passed Whitehall is as follows: One hundred and fifty-nine thousand boards, ninety-eight thousand plank, thirteen thousand cubic feet of pine timber, ten thousand cubic feet of hemlock timber, twenty-nine cords of tanners' bark, twenty-four cords of firewood, one hundred and four thousand oak staves, forty-nine thousand

Page 84

shingles, three thousand four hundred and eighty sawlogs, ten thousand rails, nine thousand cedar posts, and eight thousand fence boards*."

        * See "Canals Laws of New-York," Vol. II. p. 22.

        These statements are so interesting in a practical view, that the reader will probably be gratified with still further evidence of the amazing changes instantly produced in the state of a country by throwing open the opportunities and advantages of a market.

        The middle section of the western canal is ninety-five miles long, and nearly the same as the distance from Raleigh to Newbern, the latter being about one hundred miles in a straight line, as a rail-road would pass. Between this middle section and the Hudson river, lay the eastern section still unfinished, so that all the trade carried on upon the middle section at the time of its completion, and for a year afterwards, was obliged to find its way down to Albany under the greatest disadvantages, and after the old fashion. In the year 1822 the commissioners delivered to the legislature of New-York the following as a part of their report.

        "This middle section has been navigable during the whole of the last season, with the exception of a few days which were employed in making repairs, and which interrupted the navigation for a part of the time only. The tolls which were collected during the same period, including those received at the Little Falls and on the old canal at Rome, amount to the sum of twenty-three thousand one dollar and sixty-three cents. This amount has been principally derived from the following articles, which have passed upon the canal the last year, to wit: forty-four thousand seven hundred and twenty-three barrels of flour, eighty-five thousand three hundred and forty bushels of

Page 85

salt, five thousand five hundred and forty-three barrels of provisions, four thousand four hundred and seventy-two barrels of pot and pearl ashes, one hundred and fifty-three barrels of oil, forty-three thousand and seventy-eight bushels of wheat, one million sixty-one thousand eight hundred and forty-four feet of boards, seventy-one thousand bushels of lime, sixty-seven thousand two hundred and seventy-three gallons of whiskey, forty-five thousand one hundred and sixty-two posts and rails, seven hundred and seventy-two tons gypsum or plaster of paris, forty-eight thousand nine hundred and eighty-one feet of timber, two thousand five hundred tons of merchandise, sixty-three tons of house-hold goods, fifty-eight tons of butter and lard, two thousand four hundred and eighty-one boxes of glass, nine hundred and twenty-three thousand shingles, forty-seven thousand seven hundred and sixty-four oak staves, two thousand seven hundred and sixty-one hoop poles, three thousand staves, nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-three pounds of maple sugar, one thousand seven hundred and thirty-six pounds of geese feathers, eight thousand one hundred pounds of rags, five thousand eight hundred and fifty pounds of cheese, one hundred reams of paper, four hundred and six pounds of beeswax, four thousand two hundred and thirty-eight pounds of wool, fourteen thousand bricks, three thousand six hundred pounds of hops, eight thousand two hundred bushels of grain, forty-seven waggons and ten coaches, besides a variety of articles of less importance*."

        * See "Canal Laws of New-York," Vol. II p. 69.

        This was for the year 1821, which was the very first after the middle section was finished, and began to be used by the people.

Page 86

        The canals of New-York are the property of the state. We have seen how small are the rates of toll upon the transport of goods, lumber and materials of all sorts. They are such as a cent, or half a cent a ton per mile. Yet it appears that the state in 1824 derived from them a revenue of more than three hundred and forty thousand dollars. In 1825 the payments from such small tolls rose to more than five hundred and sixty-six thousand dollars: and in 1826, the income to the state from the canals amounted to seven hundred and sixty-five thousand dollars. If this had been foretold to the people of that state, before the work was commenced on the fourth of July 1817, would it have been believed? In the last year, 1826, the state, after defraying all the expenses of the canals, paid off five hundred thousand dollars of the debt which it had contracted in digging its canals. As soon as the whole of that debt shall be extinguished, and this will evidently soon be done without taxes for the purpose, so large a revenue will be unnecessary, and the government may be supported with scarcely and tolls, and no taxes whatever.

        Such are the advantages and prospects from the canals of New-York to the people of that state, in regard to revenue and relief from taxation, beside the privileges of going to market at so trifling an expense that no man feels it. A double rail-road could most certainly be constructed from Albany to Buffalo for less than half the money paid for the canal, though the rail-road were made of iron. But beside this, far the greater part of the distance would have admitted of carriage by the locomotive engine, carrying fifty tons six miles an hour, or ninety tons four miles an hour, whereas a boat ordinarily carries no more than thirty tons three miles an hour, while horses are much more expensive than steam. In the year 1817, when the western canal of New-York was commenced, rail-roads were scarcely a

Page 87

subject of thought or knowledge in America. It is since that time that their superior merits in comparison with canals have been fully illustrated, and established both in Europe and our own country.

        As soon as a rail-road should be finished from Newbern to Raleigh, the state might instantly begin to realize, by such tolls upon it as would be imperceptible to trade, many thousands of dollars, which would assist in extending the road westward. And as the income from the finished part would be increased every year, both by a greater length of the road, and the growth of trade, it would reach the western limits of the state in much less time, than if it depended solely upon the fifty thousand dollars raised by the annual rail-road tax at thirty-seven cents.

        After the completion of the whole, the stock owned by subscribers, according to the method already explained, would, if it had been accomplished in five years, amount to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars at eight per cent, bringing an aggregate to the owners of twenty thousand. The annual collection from tolls, would doubtless be not less than a hundred thousand. To keep, however, within safe limits, we shall suppose that the sum thus realized would prove to be no more than seventy thousand. By twenty thousand of this the eight per cent would be paid to the stockholders, and fifty thousand would still remain. This could be united with the fifty thousand raised as the annual fund, towards purchasing the stock originally made redeemable at the pleasure of the state. It would thus be reduced to one hundred and fifty thousand, the interest upon which, to be paid out of the tolls, would be but twelve thousand. This implies that six years would have elapsed from the beginning of the work. The population of the state would in this time have increased, by its ordinary progress in the growth of families, by the powerful check

Page 88

which the opportunities of market would put upon the current of migration to the west, and lastly, by an influx of inhabitants from abroad in consequence of these greater privileges, and the increased value of lands. The rail-road fund of fifty thousand, at present raised by each man's paying thirty-seven cents, would by that time have grown at least to sixty thousand, the tolls to a hundred thousand, the subscription would be paid off, and the rail-road, with its total annual revenue, would become the clear property of the state.

        Here then is an enterprise in which there is complete and perpetual safety. No one will suppose that a rail-road can prove impossible, and must have to stop. Should this, however, be even imagined to happen at the end of any time, as of two years, who would complain or lament as a sufferer, for having paid three quarters of a dollar in two years to put to trial an object, the failure of which no human foresight could be supposed to anticipate? But whatever may be thought of other modes of improvement, the making of a rail-road cannot necessarily fail, nor become oppressive, in such a country as ours, and by such means as are proposed. It must go on and be successful, so long as the people, under the smiles of providence, choose to say that it shall. Is there a youth in North Carolina, whose bosom beats not with an ardent wish that such an undertaking may be found practicable, and that he shall see this grand instrument of our individual success, and our public prosperity and glory speedily unfolding to his view, and finally completed in all its perfection and efficiency? Is there a young man of twenty-five, whose eager hopes do not look forward through the short period now before him, to this scene of life and activity, where commerce shall set in motion all her countless springs of action, inspiring enterprise, multiplying opportunities of improvement

Page 89

and wealth, and transfusing around her into the bosoms of all, the vivid alacrity of actual and prospective success? Is there a man in his prime of 35 or 40 years, who can think that six or seven years are too long to look forward to so felicitous a consummation? Can he adopt a more effectual method of increasing the value of his present property, as well as all that he shall then hold? Is there a father or mother advancing towards the close of their years, who so far as the worldly prospects of their family enter into their consideration, and are subjects of their concern, could wish them a better inheritance, than the efficacious means of competency, and future property, thus secured to them and their children?

        Shall we not then unitedly say to our legislature at its present session, proceed at least to authorise the employment of an engineer, and to save time, call upon us for a contribution for the very next year, by a tax of thirty-seven cents as a rail-road fund, that it may stand subject to the disposal of the people at the next session of the legislature?

November 3, 1827.

Page 90

No. XI.


        AMONG the difficulties likely to embarrass us in regard to the projected rail-road, is the adoption of Newbern as its commencing point, united with Beaufort as a seaport town. This part of the subject may still appear obscure, and encumbered with perplexity and misgiving apprehension. To both of these places we are but little accustomed to look for opportunities of market. Were we to construct a rail-road for the conveyance of our productions there, how shall we be sure, it may be asked, that we shall not be disappointed at last, and that they will be discovered not to answer our purpose? Might it not prove, after all, that a better market would be offered elsewhere, and then with all our expenditure and trouble we should fail of our object?

        Let us then take up this part of the subject once more, and though we have already more than once adverted to it, let us look at it anew, to see whether the uncertainties hanging upon this part of the plan ought not at once to sink it out of sight. In the review here proposed, it will not seem strange, it will follow of course, that some reflections will re-appear which have been before presented, that the whole merits of this important question may be at once before us.

        1. Beaufort is situated immediately on the ocean. It is well known to have an excellent harbour and inlet. These are fitted to vessels of two hundred and fifty to three hundred tons burden. Every visiter of that place who is conversant with seaport towns and maritime affairs, is apt to

Page 91

be deeply impressed with these facts. The report of our former engineer, who carefully and minutely examined them, has been already adduced, and need not be repeated. In confirmation of it, is an opinion which seems to have settled deeply into the minds of our commissioners. This opinion is of the greater weight, as it was probably obtruded upon them by actual observation of the circumstances. "The Board cannot overlook the decided advantages, which the inlet at Beaufort has over that at Ocracoke, and the favourable opportunity which it seems to offer, of concentrating eventually at one place all the trade of the richest section of the state." Should the selection of this, which has marked these numbers, and the preference given to it as a mart of trade, be thought by any one so novel, capricious and strange, he may rest assured that the advantages of Beaufort, as a seaport, are no new theme among men of practical knowledge and judgment in maritime affairs. Ship building is a business which has been long carried on there, for other parts of the world. Seaborn vessels of the size and lading often repeated, can leave and return to it in a direct commerce with both sides of the Atlantic. If any one will turn his eye upon the map of our coast, he will see that while a northeast wind would drive a vessel approaching other inlets inevitably upon the breakers, an opportunity is here given by the trending of the coast, to wear and escape to sea. A southwest wind carries directly into port. Beaufort is more healthy than any other seaport town south of the Chesapeake. The knowledge of it as a port and inlet is of one hundred and five years standing. In all that time it has been subject to none of the shifting and protean changes incident to other inlets on our coast. Here and here alone appears to have been stability. With respect to Ocracoke, who does not know that sand-banks stretch directly across the front of it? So mazy

Page 92

is the passage in winds beyond a certain degree of force, that none can be favourable for every part of the channel. A storm of some violence blowing directly on shore, instead of carrying into port, is certain destruction. But after effecting a passage through the inlet, no harbour is there, but the vessel must lie encircled with danger, till by lightering it ceases to draw more than six or seven feet of water. The issue is precarious, but one thing is certain, that there must be expense both of time and money. The whole of this must fall upon the consumer and producer in the interior country, for the market of other parts of the world will neither rise nor fall to share in the least particle of it.

        From Newbern to Ocracoke inlet is seventy-five miles, first down the Neuse, and then across the end of Pamlico Sound. Leaving Newbern for the inlet, we arrive at the mouth of Clubfoot creek, twenty-two miles down the river. This creek therefore empties into the river at the distance of fifty-three miles above the inlet. The creek heads towards Beaufort, both of them being toward the south from the Neuse and the Sound. As the Clubfoot runs north into the Neuse, Harlow creek runs south into an expanse of water west of Beaufort, and the two creeks originating near to one another, are connected by the canal, which takes its name from them. The Neuse, through the distance of twenty-two miles from Newbern to the mouth of Clubfoot, has not acquired any great breadth, and it is there twenty miles at least above the waters of the Pamlico. The passage from Newbern to Beaufort is more direct by water than by land, and as it leaves out the navigation of the wider part of the river towards its mouth, and has nothing to do with the Pamlico, it is unexposed to any of the perplexities of that, in that sound, or the swashes, or Ocracoke inlet. As the distance between Newbern and Beaufort

Page 93

is but thirty-six miles, it would be easily and regularly completed by a steam-boat in four hours. Steam-boats also passing from any of the waters of Pamlico and Albemarle by the Harlow canal to Beaufort, are wholly exempt from the swashes and the inlet.

        As soon as this prompt, safe, and easy intercourse should be thrown open to the harbour at Beaufort, can it be supposed that any owner would subject his vessel to the embarrassments and expenses of lightering between the swashes and the inlet, as well as to the danger of remaining there not only till the completion of this, but afterwards till the precise wind should blow, necessary for his escape from the shoals and swamps that are sullenly waiting some sudden gust or squall to engorge the vessel, its mariners, and all its contents, into their inextricable beds of liquid sand and mud? The advantages which recommend Beaufort to our choice, by its haven, its inlet, and its accessible situation, have not only been confirmed by men of practical observation and skill in the course of its history, but they must be conspicuous to all who will direct an intent and comprehensive eye upon their merits.

        2. Another circumstance which specially designates Beaufort as a favourite port, and urges us to the adoption of it, provided it has other necessary attributes within itself, is its situation in respect to the northern and southern limits of the state. The whole extent of our coast, in a line ranging on the outside of the shoals, is three hundred and thirteen miles. Beaufort is twenty-six miles south of the middle point. This we shall all admit to be a happy circumstance, when it falls in with others still more essential. The direction in which it deviates from the centre being toward the south, fortuitously concurs with what we could on other accounts wish, for the sounds and all their

Page 94

branching channels facilitate communication with the northern part.

        3. Beaufort, while it is our best port, is contiguous and accessible upon the best terms and by the very easiest means of transportation to a large, populous, and valuable portion of our state. This is a circumstance so remarkable, that it deserves to be more fully and distinctly considered. All that is wanted to accommodate the commerce of at least twenty counties seated upon that vast amphitheatre of waters which nature has created for us, is to double the breadth and depth of the Harlow canal. If we are peculiarly unhappy in the external dangers of our coast, it must be admitted that its internal navigation is no less singularly favoured. Here is a vast sheet of navigable surface shielded from the ocean, its storms, and conflicting surges, by a continual barrier, pronouncing as by the determination of him who created it, 'Hitherto shalt thou come and no further, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.' The dangers and difficulties of traversing these sounds with sails, are superseded by the efficiency of steam, which eludes peril by its rapidity, or penetrates and over-powers it by its force. In such waters it secures ascendancy over winds and currents. These expanses are so extensive, and the passages from the sea so few and contracted, that the effect of the ocean tides and of the river currents is almost annihilated, in consequence of the vast scope allowed to the spreading waters, notwithstanding the rapidity of their entrance or discharge. Their elevation or depression is effected much more by winds than by tides or rivers. If we consider the extent of these sounds, then, the nature of their navigation, their security from the ocean, and the vast population to which they furnish a quick and safe communication with Beaufort, is there any extravagance in

Page 95

the imagination that they seem to be extending both their hands before our view, and that while one is pointing us to the place, the other is lifted on high, with stedfast and determined suffrage in its behalf, as our best haven on the sea, and the proper mart for our trade from the interior of the State?

        4. In a commerce with the world, there are certain articles of essential value and extensive demand, in the production and profits of which few can participate and contend with us. This exclusion in favour of ourselves and of others similarly situated, is imposed by nature, and is invincible. Among such as are most important, and eminently of this description is the pine, with its productions in their various forms. Beside these are cotton and tobacco, with all that is peculiar to our southern latitude. A transportation that costs little or nothing is provided for all these articles from a large portion of our state, simply by doubling the breadth and depth of the canal between the Neuse and Beaufort. If this were done, what is to prevent us from engaging with fair competition, in supplying those materials to other countries, which must be dependent for them upon such as our own? But this measure is not limited in its effects to these articles only. The privilege of the cheapest and safest conveyance is extended in common to every import and export.

        5. Remarks have already been made in a former number on that part of our trade which is diverted into Virginia by the Elizabeth canal. To such as apprehend that this cannot be prevented, it is perhaps but little known, how small are the prospects that Norfolk can ever flourish as a commercial place. Let inquiry be directed, if necessary, upon this subject, and it will assuredly reveal to us the conviction of our own merchants and inhabitants, that the hopes once entertained of it are never to be realized. The

Page 96

commerce of southern Virginia, to which it once looked for aggrandizement, is intercepted and cut off by Richmond and Petersburg. It is true that ships and sea-built vessels cannot ascend the river to lie at these places, but they can approach them. The productions of the upper country must stop there for further transportation down the river. It is evidently no object to send the small craft in which they must first be placed, the whole distance to Norfolk. It can properly have nothing to do with them, since their purpose is to discharge their loads into ships for sea, at the highest point to which these can ascend. Could seaborn vessels pass no higher than Norfolk, the case would be different. The productions of the country must then necessarily be carried to that port, and ships must await them there. With Beaufort it is otherwise. No vessel from sea can pass further than its harbour, and to this must all goods be brought from the interior country for the safest and cheapest exportation. These observations have been enlarged to show the superiority which can be given to Beaufort in the prospects of a market to any part of our state. So fully convinced are the people of Norfolk of the truths here exposed, that their half-expiring hopes now rely, not upon the trade that is to come to them down James river, but upon that which they can secure by expanding the Elizabeth canal into the waters of Pamlico Sound. In this enterprise they are now exerting their toils, and applying their funds. When it shall be finished, it is impossible to foretel to what extent they may fatten upon it, to be able to offer the advantages of a market. But if by directing all the channels of our commerce upon Beaufort, it shall be enlarged into a seat of extensive capital and active business, its greater resources, derived from every part of our state, must ensure its ascendancy, and make it a preferable market to the remotest population of

Page 97

our sounds and their navigable waters. This it is in the power of North Carolina without difficulty to accomplish. It is for herself to decide whether it shall be done.

        6. After having considered the merits of Beaufort as a seaport, connected by nature with a very large and important portion of our state upon terms of the best possible communication in steam-boats, upon sounds and rivers, with the exception only of a canal still to be widened and deepened through a distance of three miles, we are naturally called upon in the next place, to see how this will agree with the best and cheapest provision which can be made for the whole interior part of the state. If Beaufort is to be chosen, and to become a subject of exertion and expenditure only for the counties that lie upon the waters connected with it, it is, after all, only a partial measure, and will not afford relief to the far greater proportion of our population which comes not within its scope. As Beaufort is in the middle point of our sea coast, Newbern and Raleigh are in a line drawn from it through the middle of the state. To Newbern then our eye is first directed as a starting point, from which are to commence the means still to be provided for internal commerce. Newbern is one of our oldest and most important towns. It was early chosen as an eligible seat of commerce, between the Neuse and Trent, promising to concentrate the trade of a large portion of the country, and certainly most convenient to Ocracoke inlet. Had this inlet been deep enough for the largest ships, and not beset by the shoals both without and within, it would not have disappointed the hopes of its first settlers. It would long ago have been a place of flourishing and comprehensive commerce. That which it would have been, but for the obstructions at Ocracoke, it may now be made by a sufficiently open communication with Beaufort. Both of these places are at once relieved by

Page 98

the same means which give relief to either. The prosperity of both has been impeded and ruined by the very same obstacles.

        It may be asked, as indeed it has been, why not begin the rail-road at once at Beaufort? Why break the continuity of conveyance to the seaport by stopping at Newbern, and changing land-carriage to that upon water through the remainder of the distance? To this it is answered, that between the two places by land it is forty miles. It may possibly be shortened, but not much, on account of the nature of the ground, and the intervening swamps and waters. By the Neuse and the canal it would seem the distance is only thirty-six. A rail-road of forty miles must cost a hundred thousand dollars, and our object is the greatest economy both in time and money. Steam-boats would be no expense to the state, and eager rivalship would reduce their services to the lowest price. The opening of the canal, should it fall upon the state, would probably cost but one thousand dollars, admitting a subscription to the same amount, and the toll of a single year would return the whole sum. Steam-boats employed in this part of the trade, would have their decks constructed with two railways, for the reception of the waggons arriving from the country*.

        * See Chapman's Observations, quoted in Rees' Cyclopædia, on the article Canal, p. 73, col. 1. of that article.

Thus provision can be made with fifteen thousand dollars, to prevent the expenditure of a hundred thousand.

        But might it not much better be asked, why not commence steam navigation higher up the Neuse than Newbern, and thus carry still further this saving of expense? How far this is practicable or preferable, it has not been

Page 99

easy to ascertain. It is one of those many momentous inquiries, to which it is for an engineer to render a satisfactory answer. If thirty or forty miles of length can be thus spared to the rail-road, it will be a vast interest gained to the state. It is the saving of seventy-five or one hundred thousand dollars, for the river is in the proper course, and points directly to the capital. It saves the rail-road fund of nearly if not entirely a year, and expedites its extension westward by the same time.

        It is presumed it will now appear why the river Neuse has furnished a part of our commercial thoroughfare, and Newbern a point in it, in projecting such a plan as will best relieve the distresses of the people, and then carry forward with incalculable rapidity their future prosperity. No sooner would such a transportation be opened; nay, no sooner would the legislature, sustained by the voice of the people, place itself in the serious and majestic attitude of providing for it by law, and its construction be actually commenced, than Beaufort, Newbern, Raleigh, would, unless the same causes produce different effects here from all that has ever been known among men, begin to equip themselves for action, and swell into towns and cities of more interesting magnitude and life. As the work from year to year should penetrate towards the west, every town and every county in that region would be sensible of new life, and accelerated growth in population and power. Other towns, seats of manufactures, and commerce, and enterprise, would spring into existence, instead of the native forest, desolate farms, and deserted habitations. Are we not convinced, from all that we ourselves know, that if it would cost us only fifty, or at the utmost, seventy-five cents a barrel, to carry our flour to New-York, or Bermuda, or Charleston, or even the West Indies, we should have an infinitely

Page 100

better chance than we now have to turn our produce into cash? All men wish to make money. All the contests of men, in so open a market as this, would operate in favour of the farmer and the producer, in comparison with the market which we now have. We shall not hesitate to admit that the more extensively we can send abroad any article without expense, the greater is our opportunity of making it profitable and instrumental in relieving our embarrassments and increasing our possessions.

        7. Let us now consider the difficulty of which we first spoke in the introductory remarks of this number. It is apprehended perhaps that to make a rail-road in such circumstances, might turn out in the end like the unskilful project of building a mill, and then finding out that the water will not run to it. It is something like the contrary of this, but equally fatal, were we to construct a rail-road, and then have no market at the end of it.

        To enter into the merits of this difficulty, let it be asked, what is the cause why towns and cities are begun and grow into vast size in some places rather than in others? It is because from the situation of these places upon navigable waters, furnishing the speediest and cheapest conveyance, trade with all its profits naturally finds its way to them, and is concentrated upon them. It is for this reason that New-York, Charleston, Boston, and New-Orleans, or any other city in the United States or elsewhere, have attained to all the opportunities and distinctions which they now enjoy. They owe all their prosperity to the rivers and harbours upon which they have grown up. By such facilities of transportation are collected in them continually both from within and without the productions of agriculture,

Page 101

manufactures, and the arts from different parts of the world. Had the site of a town been arbitrarily chosen in the midst of unwatered plains, could it have contended in cheapness of merchandise with others in these more favoured situations? This none of us would imagine or believe. Admit that a navigable river should begin to flow from our mountains to Raleigh, to Newbern, and to Beaufort, does any one doubt that the last of these places, with its present harbour and inlet, would instantly become a resort of active and extensive trade? In three months it would abound with merchants and capital, and in a year or two it would be one of the distinguished marts in these United States. If a canal were opened in a similar manner, of which all productions and merchandise could be conveyed to the same port, is there any uncertainty whether the same consequences would follow? If instead of a river or a canal, we suppose a rail-road to be constructed, on which could travel steam-carriages with fifty tons of goods six miles an hour, or ninety tons four miles an hour, at as little expense as if they were navigated upon a river, or with less than upon a canal, is there any more room to doubt that Beaufort, the place of its termination, must become, in as short a period, a place of trade where every thing could be bought and sold upon the best terms? Must it not appear that the conclusion is such as it is impossible to avoid? Our minds cannot misgive in resolving such a question.

        Were a river unnavigable, experience has long ago established that it is better to dig a canal than to improve it. But at present we may proclaim independence both on rivers and canals. Men can now make rail-roads where rivers cannot flow, nor canals be formed. This can be done with one fourth of the expense attendant on either, and yet

Page 102

answering all their purposes vastly better. If any one is not convinced of this, let him examine into the subject without delay. He will find that such an acquaintance with it as every man can easily acquire, will terminate in his full conviction of its truth.

November 9, 1827.

Page 103

No. XII.


        LAST year a series of numbers was commenced on the subject of rail-ways, the object of which was to prove that they were the cheapest and most eligible means of opening to the people of North Carolina a free, active and prosperous trade with the rest of the world. It was then taken for granted that the privileges of such a trade, had ever been and still were accounted the first and most desirable object for promoting the wealth and the resources of the state. This was supposed to be the language of the people in every effort to clear the channels of our rivers, to prepare canals, or to improve our roads. If there be any argument against the facilities of commerce by means of rail-roads, the same will equally militate against all other methods of internal improvement by which the same ends are to be accomplished.

        But it seems a new discovery has been recently educed upon this subject, and pressed upon the people. It is that we must beware of rail-roads, as pregnant with alarming consequences in another direction. Our husbandmen are presently to find, if we construct them, that the people of other states will use them for sending their grain and other articles among us, and by their competition compel us to take little or nothing for our produce. This is now actually urged by some with an air of seriousness and conviction. It is an argument which we may venture to predict, can never prevail in any part of these United States. It is

Page 104

founded in the policy of commercial restrictions, which in this country has ever been reprobated. It is of the nature of monopolies, and exclusive privileges, which we have always held to be among the most odious features of the arbitrary governments of Europe.

        In the war of the revolution, it was one of our loudest complaints against the mother country, that she oppressively kept our commerce in shackles, by laws forbidding all intercourse but with herself. We were then tenacious of the doctrine, which has since been demonstrably proved, and which now begins to regulate the legislation and the practice even of Britain and Europe. It is that trade ought to be free as water, and all attempts to keep it under restraint are chargeable with the absurdity of incurring certain damage to their authors, instead of securing any real benefits. "In transactions of trade," says Franklin, "freedom and protection are most indisputable principles, whereon its success must depend, as clearly as an open good road tends towards a safe and speedy intercourse: nor is there a greater enemy to trade than constraint*."

        * "Essay on the principles of trade," quoted in Am. Edit. of McCullock on Political Econ. p. 46.

Legislators may fancy many consequences from an open commerce, and then frame laws for their prevention, but they will only do mischief. It might be imagined, for instance, that with such facility of transportation, all the grain might be drained out of the country to supply such parts of the world as happened to be destitute, from unpropitious seasons or any other cause. But they who indulge such apprehensions, says the same writer, in concurrence with Adam Smith, "fear what never did, nor ever can happen. They may as well, when they view the tide ebbing towards the sea, fear that all the water will leave the river. The price
Page 105

of corn like water, will find its level. The more we export, the dearer it becomes at home. The more is received abroad, the cheaper it becomes there. And as soon as these prices are equal the exportation stops of course*."

        * "Essay on the principles of trade," quoted in Am. Edit. of McCullock on Political Econ. p. 46.

        Speaking of the restrictive policy of Britain, another writer remarks, "the colonies were gradually driven by it first to an unwilling resistance, and eventually to a separation, which by its happy results, in augmenting the wealth and resources of both countries through the medium of a free trade, has for ever put down the policy of colonial restrictions, and settled, we may consider conclusively, the greatest of all questions in political economy**."

        ** Ibidem, p. 73.

The perfect freedom and openness of trade was one of the great privileges for which this nation spilt its blood in the assertion of its independence. In 1812, too, this was the sole principle upon which war was recommenced and prosecuted with furious vehemence both by sea and land. "Free trade and sailor's rights," was then the watchword, which was scarcely yet ceased sounding in our ears. It proclaims the doctrine upon which, as Americans, claiming unrestricted rights in the exercise of commerce, we have been accustomed to act. If it be asked, what is this to the subject before us? The answer is, the consequences to the prosperity of a people are the same, whether restrictions proceed from the interference of men, or from natural obstructions which providence empowers us easily to remove. In the one case we expose our lives as well as expend our treasures, and we purchase the object which we deem invaluable, at the cost, not only of these, but of all the train of physical and moral calamities attendant on the agitation
Page 106

of war. And can the freedom of trade be altered in its value and its effects, because it is proffered to us by heaven's goodness, upon the condition of a common consent, to create, by a trifling annual contribution, the fund sufficient to procure it, without the necessity of going to war? Can the advantages of an unlimited trade, change their nature by a difference in the manner of attaining them? It often happens that the very best land upon an estate is originally a marsh. If the owner deem himself able to reclaim it by ditching, a prevention by law is a grievance no less than a prohibition to sow a field already arable. Would he think it a pertinent and valid answer to be told, that the latter interdict proceeding from men, subjected him to a privation not to be endured, but that providence gave him the bog unditched, and therefore it was properly no loss of privilege to be prevented from draining it?

        The rights and opportunities of unimpeded commerce we have always esteemed essential to a high degree of prosperity. The past history of our country has shown that we have not been mistaken. North Carolina, in her natural state, is shut up by obstructions, altogether unexampled in other parts of the union. It is mortifying but certainly undeniable, that a corresponding humiliation and impoverishment, in comparison with other states, has continued to be our lot to the present moment. The companionship of these facts, furnishes evidence too striking to be evaded in confirmation of the principle, that without an open commerce, we cannot flourish in enterprise and wealth. It is corroborated no less by the universal opinion of the world, and above all by the efficacy of every experiment already made by others, in bursting the shackles that restrained their commercial privileges. We should proclaim it an oppression to be deprived of them by any human power that should keep us under a perpetual embargo,

Page 107

prohibiting a market for almost every article we can produce. We are no less the authors of oppression to ourselves, if we continue enchained by restrictions that would fall off at our bidding. There is no difference between privations, sufferings, degradation and misery, arising from restrictions, which it is perfectly easy to remove, and an infliction of them by the edicts of an enemy.

        When the attention of the people was first solicited to the subject of rail-roads, we little imagined that it was to become questionable whether a cheap conveyance of exports and imports, instead of assuring prosperity to the country, would not instantly be its ruin. Now, it is discovered, and it is a wonder that we had not seen it before, that to continue shut up as we are, is our only safety from destruction--it is our very best policy. Or perhaps we do not still understand the objection rightly, and we may, as to any such consequences as these, go on to open rivers and canals, but we must beware of rail-roads, for we do apprehend, though we may not be able to explain how it is, that they contain some incommunicable and mysterious property, by which they will do us incalculable mischief. We are, it is true, under the necessity of going to market to get our salt, iron, coffee, sugar, and a little money, under great disadvantages. But let it no longer be a subject of complaint that we have to toil our way over hills rough and steep, dragging tardily through scorching heat, or piercing cold, or drenching rain, through mud and mire, or tiring sands, exposed day after day, or even for weeks, to all weathers, our expenses absorbing three-fourths of the profits, to arrive at length to a stinted market, in comparison with such as other states enjoy. All this may seem hard, while we are making our way through it, but let it cheer us to think, that in this very thing is the glorious security of our privileges. Were it not for this, the farmers of the east and

Page 108

north, who will work hard and sell cheap, and make canals and rail-roads, would most assuredly come in among us with their wheat and other articles, and sell upon such terms as are enough to ruin us, who raise ours upon the spot.

        What then ought we to do? Is it for us to adopt system and economy in our modes of farming and living, waste no time, prosecute our business intently, manure our lands, lay them off for a regular succession of crops, so that they shall improve continually, and not run to broomgrass; in short, to make a plenty of corn, wheat, cotton, tobacco, cider, brandy, butter, cheese, every thing that will bring money; to provide a rail-road that carriage may cost nothing, and all that we raise may bring as much abroad as it does at home; that we may be able to sell as cheap as others, and have a plenty of cash to pay our contracts, be paid punctually by our neighbours who owe us, and who can all then do the same thing, and thus have a plenty to spare in the domestic treasury? Must it indeed come to this? No, never! say these enemies of rail-roads. We have been wrong through this whole business of internal improvement, though we did not see it till now. Our eyes are open, and it is plain to what we are coming. Instead of clearing out rivers, and making canals and rail-ways, not a moment is to be lost. Let us haste to fill up every canal already made; throw in rocks and obstructions into all our rivers; and to make sure work of it, let us put cheveaux de frise across their mouths, and stop up every inlet. If we do not, our northern and eastern neighbours, who know no end to multiplying grain and manufactures, will come in, and rather than not undersell us, they will almost give them to us for nothing. This you know they can easily afford to do. Their winters, it is true, are long and severe, their summers are proportionably short; they are obliged to pay

Page 109

every labourer that works for them ten or twelve dollars a month, while we have ours at thirty or forty dollars a year, and find them the cheapest clothing; or, if we own them, we have the whole work of their lives for nothing but their sustenance. Still, however, those people manage to produce more to sell, and are able to take less prices than we can, though they transport their grain a thousand miles, and we sell ours at home.

        All these views and consequences must be admitted before the argument can be just, derived from the danger of being undersold in our own market. Possibly some may be pleased and flattered with this kind of guardianship and tender commisseration: but the great body of our substantial men will at once see that it is perfectly fallacious and visionary. It is so marked with weakness and timidity, that every man of spirit in the country would blush to have it supposed applicable to him. Let it be distinctly understood that we have never believed it applicable. It is a return upon us in another shape, of what the people of our country have stigmatised as a Chinese policy. It is a policy which has ever been peculiar to that people, who are notorious with all nations for their narrow and exclusive prejudices against the rest of mankind, for their selfishness and vanity, and a groundless jealousy at the appearance of foreigners in their country. It has sometimes been known too under the name of a terrapin policy, which like that grovelling and timorous animal, at every external touch shuts out the world, and hides itself within its own shell.

        To this argument, from the danger or intrusion by others into our own market, one fact opposes itself, which is conspicuous to all. It is, that the landed interest of the state is perpetually vigilant, to find out what crop they can rear, that will bear transportation through the natural barriers which now act as an embargo upon almost all the fruits of

Page 110

their industry. If occasions even now occur, when in our market towns and seaports, open as they are, to this importation from abroad, prices justify conveyance, could we be in any real danger, at any time, when relieved of the whole burden of transportation? Then, every thing we could produce, in any part of our interior country, might be collected together, sent into the market, and made to contribute something towards a handsome aggregate. A long list of particulars, some of which come almost without our seeking, and others might be easily multiplied, if it were an object, could be united and sent away, to enlarge our profits, beyond all that at present accrue, from our most important productions. Let us for a moment run over such a list. Could we carry upon a rail-way, we might assemble and send into a market open to the world, all that was superfluous of wheat, indian corn, and all sorts of grains, and even garden seeds, cotton, tobacco, spirits, cider, wine, beer, apples, and different fruits, beeswax, butter, cheese, bacon, lard, candles, honey, fowls, eggs, tallow, feathers, nuts, potatoes, hemp, flax, rags, wool, soap, furs and peltry, hops, hides, fruit trees, boards, shingles, scantling, tar, pitch, coal, bricks, sand, clay, lime, rails, staves, leather, shoes, iron, spinning-wheels, all sorts of carriages, manufactures, and minerals. We pretend not to specify every thing which could thus be thrown into the market. This enumeration is sufficient to spread before our eye the new advantages and privileges to which canals and rail-roads give existence. Every thing has a price in the market of the world, but to how small a number of articles are we limited within the circuit of one or two counties? In addition to this vast extension of marketable articles, the reduction of cost upon sugar, coffee, salt, fish, and all the merchandise we usually purchase, augments, most seriously, our interest in such a work. As

Page 111

the catalogue of our exports would be incalculably enlarged, so would be that of our imports also, to the great improvement of society, and our personal and domestic convenience. This exposition is neither extravagant nor contemptible. It is verified daily in the experience of several of our sister states. It is upon subjects and circumstances so minute and trivial as these, that the prosperity of individuals, and the strength and glory of a people are founded. Let a thoroughfare be opened through our country, as a grand artery for the active and vigorous circulation of our commerce, and our state, now languishing in incurable imbecility, will instantly be conscious of health and energies unfelt before. Our only astonishment would then be at the facility of its accomplishment, and the difficulty with which conviction gains access to our minds of truth so natural and obvious, and universally demonstrated in the experience of the world.

April 21, 1828.

Page 112



        FIVE questions are distinguishable, to which it is important to give clear answers, that we may arrive at a conclusion not to be distrusted. With respect to the first of these, what is a rail-road? it has already been answered, in the eighth number. The second is, how much must be the cost per mile? Thirdly, can the means be provided? Fourthly, where ought a rail-road to be made, so that every inch of it, as soon as finished, shall be instantly useful, and that its utility may grow in exact proportion to the growth of the work, until in a reasonable time the whole people shall enjoy its advantages? Lastly, is there evidence, and what is it, that vast benefits will commence immediately to be felt; that the advantages will for some years constantly and rapidly increase; that they will never cease to be enlarged with the progress of time, and that without such advantages, secured by these, or some other means less easily attainable, we must for ever continue an impoverished, suffering, and humiliated people?

        It is our purpose now to show, how much does a mile of rail-road cost?

        Here we shall warn the reader, that such a rail-way as we are about to estimate, is modelled upon the principles of solidity, economy, and durability, and peculiarly adapted to our own circumstances. No expenditure is intentionally allowed for show or for unimportant purposes. It will be sufficient to obtain a substantial structure, and we wish nothing more. As for magnificence or display, we are at

Page 113

the present time, not in a condition, nor have we any disposition to consult them. They may best be left to some future period, when augmented wealth and power may choose to be gratified in such accompaniments. This, as we may suppose, will make way for a smaller result in the estimation than it is customary to see. And if all the circumstances be weighed, we can form no safe or confident judgment from the cost of such structures in Great Britian or our northern states, to determine the expense necessary to us, favoured as we are in many respects. To show this, we need only mention, 1. A hundred miles of level country first to be traversed, and then the aid of tolls on that part for finishing the rest, where it will cost more among hills. 2. The cheapness of the land necessary to the road. 3. The cheapness and excellency of the timber upon the spot. 4. Our freedom from frosts penetrating deeply into the ground, and rendering it always necessary in higher latitudes to dig more deeply, and underpin with stone foundations. Other circumstances might be mentioned, but these are the most important, and they are quite obvious.

        Formerly, we were unwilling to attempt a detailed calculation, because it is a question most safely answered by a survey and valuation actually made. In what we then said upon the subject, a nominal sum was adopted from an experiment already known in Pennsylvania. Some rate of expense was necessary to speak definitely. The ground upon which that sum was assumed, was then explicitly made known, and it was thought admissible, because it was derived, not from supposition, but from fact. It was hoped that our legislative body, on a question evidently so momentous to our state, would adopt some measure, by which the question of practicability and expense might be settled. Such, however, we all know, was not the result. This was not wonderful, when we consider, that at the time

Page 114

when that legislature was appointed, the rail-way had never particularly called our attention, and the current of opinion was setting strongly against internal improvement, on account of our past failures in canals and rivers. The reasons of these disappointments we shall hereafter show, and they are all such as speak emphatically in favour of the work which now solicits our consideration. It is presumed that an answer to the proposed inquiry of expense, meriting our confidence, is felt by most men to be extremely desirable. In defect of such information as we could wish, it will now be prosecuted with all the evidence within our power. It shall be such, also, as every man who attentively hears it read, can comprehend. Happily, as has been remarked, the first hundred miles from a seaport towards the upper country, is so nearly level, except when waters are to be passed, that if a mile of level rail-way can be estimated, it will serve as a standard for the probable expense through the whole of that distance. For a hilly country, we can arrive at a definite conclusion respecting each mile, only by a survey of capable engineers.

        In our proposed valuation will be comprehended, 1. Land to be purchased. 2. Grubbing and cleaning of a necessary breadth. 3. Excavation of earth. 4. Timber for sleepers. 5. Timber for rails. 6. Laying down and fastening the timbers. 7. Iron. 8. Passing places. 9. Bridges and culverts.

        I. With respect to the requisite quantity of land, it is desirable to purchase a breadth of four poles the whole length of the road. Now every distance of forty poles in length and four wide, is an acre. A mile, therefore, or three hundred and twenty poles in length, will make eight acres, which at four dollars per acre, is thirty-two dollars. Four dollars is a large sum for these lands in general. They are mostly covered with pines, and of little value

Page 115

for culture. But sometimes lands of a better qualify along the margins of waters must be traversed. The allowance here made, it is thought, is liberal, for one species of land with another. From actual inquiry, the greater part of the lands would be two dollars an acre.

        2. Of the ground thus provided, it is unnecessary to grub and clear more than one rod in breadth. It is an advantage in a southern climate to have trees left or even planted for shade on each side of a public road. It is a man's day's work to grab forty rods in length and one in breadth. Hired by the year, or even by the month, a labourer in such business could not cost fifty cents a day; yet let us allow that sum. To grub a mile, then, is the work of eight days, and costs four dollars. To cut down the trees, and remove them from this grubbed surface, we shall suppose to cost as much more, that is, four dollars. The removal of trees, root, and stock, as they occur in the line of the road, need not be done through a greater breadth than half a rod, the foundation of the road being only eight feet wide. This it is more difficult to estimate with certainty. The total eradication of trees we shall allow to cost twenty times as much as the common grubbing and cleaning, when the roots of the trees are left in the ground. The latter kind of work through a mile of the road, we have seen to cost eight dollars, when the breadth was a rod. Twenty times this sum is one hundred and sixty dollars. As the breadth over which the entire eradication is to be done is only half a rod, the necessary sum is only eighty dollars. The whole expense then, of this species of work, is eighty-eight dollars a mile.

        This is upon the supposition that it must be done along the whole extent of the road, which would not be the case.

        3. The ground to be excavated is eight feet wide. This is quite sufficient, though some engineers, in the extensiveness and magnificence of their plans, might call for more.

Page 116

A trench a mile long, eight feet wide, and two feet deep, gives less than three thousand one hundred and twenty-nine cubic yards of earth to be removed; let us call it three thousand one hundred and thirty yards. These at fifteen cents a yard amount to four hundred and sixty-nine dollars and a half. The digging, in this case, is very different from that of a canal, which is much deeper. A labourer could certainly excavate four cubic yards in a day, which would be sixty cents. The whole three thousand one hundred and thirty yards, at sixty cents for every four yards, or fifteen cents a yard, amount to less than four hundred and seventy dollars. Through much of that part of the surface consisting of a loose sand and vegetable mould, or clay without stones, and in some instances of sand only, it is probable, that by the plough and scraper, so shallow an excavation could be effected at much less expense. This is certainly true, where the roots of trees have been long extirpated. We are safe, therefore, in stating the sum already mentioned for digging a mile.

        4. The sleepers are each eight feet long, and a foot square. They are placed in the bottom of the trench, and directly across it, at the distance of five feet apart. from centre to centre, or four feet in the clear. This is experimentally proved to be a proper distance; for though the interval of the sleepers at Mauch Chunk, in Pennsylvania, is four feet, at Quincy, in Massachusetts, it is eight. These rail-roads were both visited in 1827, by the committee of the Baltimore and Ohio Rail-road Company, and by their Report they wear and perform well*.

        * See "Report of the Committee," p. 2 and 3.

Though we have the authority of the Quincy rail-road, for the distance of eight feet between the sleepers, it will be seen that
Page 117

we have not availed ourselves of it; but have made the distance three feet less, to ensure a sufficient firmness to the rails to be supported by them. Our sleepers would be of the best heart of pitch pine, and would last thirty years.

        In determining the cost of the sleepers, I adopt both the price and method of estimation customary in the country where the road is to be constructed. The reader may be assured of their correctness, as they are furnished through the kindness of a gentleman who has spared no pains in their ascertainment. The rule for computing the contents of solid timber is to add the inches in the side and edge, divide by 12, and multiply by the number of feet in the length. According to this, a sleeper eight feet long and a foot square contains sixteen feet. The price is six dollars a thousand at the stump, and two dollars for hauling, amounting to eight dollars per thousand, or eight mills per foot. But suppose we allow, says my obliging friend, the present price in the Newbern market, which is twenty dollars a thousand, or two cents a foot, and then a sleeper sixteen feet would cost thirty-two cents. The interval of the sleepers being five feet, and the number of feet in a mile five thousand two hundred and eighty, there will be one thousand and fifty-six sleepers, which at thirty-two cents each, make less than three hundred and thirty-eight dollars.

        5. Across the sleepers, and in the direction of the road, two rails are necessary, each a mile long, by piecing timbers together at their extremities. These are placed parallel to one another at the distance of the wheels, and securely fastened down upon the sleepers. Each rail is ten inches deep and six wide. These added together, make one foot four inches, which multiplied by five thousand two hundred and eighty, the number of feet in a mile, give seven thousand and forty feet. These, at two

Page 118

cents a foot, amount to less than one hundred and forty-one dollars. For both rails, therefore, we allow two hundred and eighty-two dollars.

        6. For valuing the work of laying down the sleepers, and fastening the rails upon them, we shall be at a loss, unless we apply the rule of carpenters for estimating cost in house framing. Ten feet square, or one hundred square feet of surface, make what they call a square, in this sort of work. A mile long and eight feet wide, is a surface of forty-two thousand two hundred and forty square feet, which divided by a hundred gives little less than four hundred and twenty-three squares.

        By information from the same source of which I have already spoken, this work may be obtained at eighty cents per square. The amount is not quite three hundred and forty dollars.

        7. A bar of hammered iron six feet ten inches and two tenths long, two inches wide, and three-tenths of an inch thick, being weighed, was found to be eleven pounds and three quarters, and is of a proper size to be put on the rails. A bar of this size a mile in length weighs nine thousand and fifty-seven pounds. One such bar must be put upon the top of each rail next to the inner edge, and upon these the flanged iron wheels of the waggons are to run. Two bars of a mile each, weigh eighteen thousand one hundred and fourteen pounds. To show the price of iron, I copy a statement from the "Peoples' Advocate." It informs us from the Southern Patriot, that "the order for the purchase of the iron necessary to the construction of the rail-road in South Carolina, will be forwarded by the first conveyance. It is calculated to cost, ready prepared for laying on the wooden rail, when landed in Charleston, sixty-three dollars per ton. The lowest estimate of the Pennsylvania iron landed in Philadelphia, is eighty-five

Page 119

dollars per ton. The lowest estimate of iron furnished from the resources of our own state, is one hundred dollars per ton." Iron, at sixty-three dollars a ton, or thirty-one dollars and a half a thousand weight, is three cents and fifteen mills a pound. At this price, eighteen thousand one hundred and fourteen pounds cost five hundred and seventy-one dollars. We are aware that some engineers may ask more iron than this, but it is proved by daily experience that more is unnecessary. It is of primary consequence to us to preclude all gratuitous expense, while we are well assured, from trial actually made, that we allow enough.

        The seven preceding items, collected and added together, show that a mile of rail-way without bridges and passing places, costs two thousand one hundred and twenty-one dollars, which is nearly forty cents a foot.

        8. At every third of a mile a passing place must be provided for turning out, where carriages are meeting one another*.

        * See "Adamson's account of the Stockton and Darlington rail-way," p. 35.

The upward trade from the sea to the interior country, is generally lighter than the downward. Legal regulations, therefore, are framed to favour the latter, and signals are given by the sound of a horn, that those who are approaching one another in opposite directions may comply with these regulations by turning into the passing places. If we suppose that eight waggons may sometimes be in one train, and commonly there will be no more than five, and that each waggon occupies nine feet, a passing place must be seventy-two feet long. Two hundred and sixteen feet to every mile, at forty cents a foot, as before shown, is less than eighty-seven dollars.

Page 120

        9. An article of charges still remains, on which we shall speak not very positively, as it depends on circumstances not to be anticipated with a precision in which we can confidently rest. Where waters occur, bridges must be provided. A committee of the Massachusetts legislature, on the subject of a rail-road from Boston to the Hudson river, remark in their report, that "the rivers and other streams of water to be passed by the proposed rail-road, are not such as to offer any serious difficulty. Bridges can be constructed differing little in their form except the rails, from those in common use*.

        * See "Proceedings of sundry citizens of Baltimore," p. 18.

Admitting this assurance of the committee, it furnishes the basis of a conjectural opinion respecting the expense of passing streams of water. If we allow on this account two hundred dollars a mile, it will be enough, though a bridge should be necessary every five miles, costing a thousand dollars, or every ten miles costing two thousand.

        We are now prepared to give a final statement of expense, and it is as follows:

1. Land for a mile of rail-road $32
2. Grubbing and cleaning a rod, and eradicating trees half a rod wide 88
3. Excavation 470
4. One thousand and fifty-six sleepers at thirty-two cents 338
5. Rails 282
6. Framing and laying down 340
7. Iron, 18114 pounds at 3 cents 15 mills 571
8. Three passing places 87
9. Bridges and culverts 200
One tenth for contingencies 241
Total cost of a mile of rail-way on level ground $2649

Page 121

        This sum of two thousand six hundred and forty-nine dollars a mile, may excite our apprehensions, because it appears less than the estimate which we commonly see. We solicit a dispassionate consideration of it, with a wish to ascertain any mistakes, that we may, if possible, substantiate such a conclusion as will be verified in practice. We shall conclude with some cautionary remarks to engineers or well informed persons on these subjects.

        1. In our southern climate it is presumed wholly unnecessary to provide against the effect of frost, by foundations of stone or rubble. A charge of three hundred and fifty dollars is thus saved in every mile, according to an estimate with which Mr. Mills, a distinguished practical engineer, has very kindly and politely favoured us.

        2. The timbers, by that gentleman's valuation, cost considerably less than in the one here given. The dimensions, distance, and prices, not being stated, to show specifically how the result was obtained, it was not followed, because we wish it to appear precisely how we arrive at every sum charged.

        3. Perhaps the smallness of the excavation, and a limitation of the whole work within a compass quite sufficient, but not needlessly enlarged, may furnish another reason why this estimate falls short of others.

        4. The state has engineers constantly in employment, independently of such a structure as this. It is presumed, therefore, that this expense is already provided, at least to a certain extent.

Page 122

No. XIV.


        HAVING discussed two of the primary questions respecting rail-ways, we shall now consider the third: Can we provide the means without oppression to a single individual in the State? This subject has been already partially treated in a former number, so as to show distinctly that a single railway for the benefit of the whole state is easily practicable. On this point our views are not changed: it is only intended to resume them. They will bear re-consideration, and it is our purpose to enlarge and invest them with additional confirmation.

        In answering this question the same prudence is to be consulted as occurs to every man of good sense in making improvements for himself. First, he must engage in a single work at once. 2. He must distribute the whole through time, so as to accomplish it without difficulty. 3. He must direct with constancy his various resources upon the proposed object.

        1. With respect to the necessity of limiting ourselves to a single work at once. Let us take an example from one who would commence as a farmer, to support his family or enlarge his property. It is no matter whether he plants himself in the country where he now lives, or looks for a residence in the west. He purchases what we call an improvement, that is, a sufficient number of acres, with a small portion of ground already cleared, and a shelter for himself and his family. This is but the nucleus, the kernel about which the nut is to grow to a fuller size. A house

Page 123

more commodious and comfortable; a kitchen, barn, stable, crib, must be erected; his lands cleared, his fences made, lanes opened, ditches dug; his gates and bars provided; and with all this, and above all, his grounds must be regularly tilled, and his crops sown and gathered. Would he think of applying himself to all this work at once? He would mark out to himself a regular course to be pursued till the whole should be accomplished. In doing this he would commence with such objects as were most essential first. A single work only would occupy him at a time. Were he to spread his labour over the whole, he must soon starve for want of necessaries; or by hiring a multitude of hands, by the time the whole was completed, he would be bankrupt, and it would no longer be his. All this is so plain that no man would attempt it without being sure of the consequences. One thing at a time, he would say. I must not have too many irons in the fire, or some will be sure to burn.

        It is to a want of due attention to maxims so plain, that we owe the failure of our past plans of internal improvement. To us as a people the state of North-Carolina has been assigned by providence, as an individual holds a plantation to be improved for his own benefit. Others are busy in improving theirs, and if we do not improve ours, none else will. The culture of a plantation, and the enlargement of its accommodations and advantages, are conducted by the owner upon principles too obvious to be mistaken. But these personal conveniences are not all that are necessary to the farmer. Other privileges are to be attained, beyond his power as an individual. There are improvements, which as they are indispensable for the common welfare, as well as his own, are upon such a scale as to require the concurrent action of the whole political family, or at least of numerous bodies. Without this united strength, though

Page 124

they are invaluable for the privileges they secure, and the difficulties they remove, they are utterly impracticable. But as soon as this union is effected, nothing is more easy. These improvements must be commenced, continued, and perfected, upon the same plain principles as regulate a man in the management of his own estate. They are numerous and diversified. If we attempt to do all at once, we shall do worse than nothing. How then is a wise people, or a prudent legislature to act? Is it not evident that as a public work, which is to benefit all the people, must be upon an extensive scale, it should be so chosen, that while it is single, it shall when consummated, terminate, as far as the circumstances will admit, in the general weal?

        Can we be at a loss then for a competent reason, why our plans of internal improvement have heretofore ended in abortion? We undertook to clear out all the rivers in the state, to dig canals, to deepen channels, to open inlets, to cut new roads and mend old ones, to drain swamps and lakes, and all this work and even more that might be mentioned, was to be carried on at the same time. Nay, some doubtless became dissatisfied, because it was not all finished at the end of the year in which it was undertaken. And how are we to account for such extravagance in our public enterprises? Was it not, that unless every man could have an improvement going on near his own residence, he would do nothing, nor allow any thing to be done if he could help it, and so all prospect of bettering our condition must be at an end? Let us then with reflection ask ourselves, where is the reasonableness of finding fault with internal improvement, as though nothing but mischief were connected with it, when, from the diversity of our undertakings, and the paucity of our means, not to have been disappointed would have been perfectly miraculous. As well might we have attempted to change the courses of our rivers, make them run towards the mountains, and discharge

Page 125

themselves over their summits, as to effect plans so vast and multifarious, by the instrumentality that was applied. Doubtless a lesson has been taught us by our past experience, but what is it? Not that internal improvement has any thing in it destructive to our interests. We have not proved it impossible: no, nor even that it is difficult. What then has it enforced upon us? Simply what every man knows to be a practical truth in his ordinary affairs; that he who sets out in the prosecution of too many plans at once, though each were the best possible for his advantage, must soon find to his cost, that he is disappointed in them all. To us a single work of so much magnitude as opening the market of the world to the people generally, is that on which all eyes should be directed, and all our efforts stedfastly concentrated.

        2. It was said, not only that we ought to do one thing at once, but by distributing the parts of a large enterprise successively through time, that becomes easy which were otherwise impossible. To illustrate this, we may recur to the same example as before. It is well to do so, because it finds us at home, and we shall all understand it. The commencing planter looks in anticipation on the lands to be disforested, the buildings to be erected, and all the improvements to be made. he is not so visionary as to suppose that all is to be finished within a twelvemonth. Does he therefore resolve at once that he will have nothing to do with it? He says within himself, I shall go on to make such continual additions from year to year, as I shall find in my power. In this manner I shall never oppress myself; I shall enjoy every accession to my conveniences as soon as completed, the more for having felt some embarrassment without it. It will enhance my courage and my interest in that which is to follow. My property will be enlarging, and my prospects brightening, and if the whole shall be

Page 126

completed in five, or even in seven years, I shall be satisfied. It will be an important work effected, and every one knows that Rome was not built in a day.

        In looking to progressive time for the development of his plans and interests, the planter who chooses new lands for his settlement is not singular. All have improvements before them, with respect to some of which at least they profess no hope of fulfilment till three, four, perhaps seven years, or even a longer period shall have elapsed. And why? Evidently because the nature of some enterprises and accomplishments is such as to forbid their completion till time shall afford protracted opportunities. The young are taught this first by their parents, in the perseverance indispensable to every species of education. The adult enlists future years in his service for the accomplishment of all his prospects. And even the man of seventy hopes that he shall live ten years longer, that he may see some favourite purpose consummated. In every instance it might be said before all this can be finished, before five or seven years are past, I may be in my grave. Then all that labour will have been sustained for nothing, therefore I will engage in nothing which requires so much time before it can be enjoyed. Few even of our more unthrifty and inefficient farmers, decline planting an orchard of peach trees, because it will be five years before it will arrive at perfection. Every apple we eat is the fruit of a tree which requires twelve years for its growth. Yet how many orchards are there of this sort in the country, showing that men will take pleasure in doing that which postpones their reward to a remote period?

        And why may not a whole people act with a discretion common to every judicious and enterprising individual in the country? A rail-road is the cheapest means of dissolving the worse than iron fetters that bind our people, and

Page 127

hold them from an open an unlimited commerce. Not an instance is to be quoted in the history of nations, ancient or modern, of a people who have enjoyed the privileges of such a commerce, whose prosperity was not commensurate with their duration. If a rail-road cannot be completed in one or two years without oppressing the people, why shall we say, the time is too long, life is uncertain, and we will not risk the payment of our money for nothing? If it is necessary to distribute the whole expense through the space of five or seven years, to prevent it from being felt, why shall we not still commence a work of such immense and unquestionable importance, and by additions of thirty-five or forty miles annually, persevere with a wise and honourable constancy, a determined and inflexible spirit, till it shall be finished? Should we feel no pleasure, no cheering interest, no swelling transport, in reading regular reports of its weekly progress in our newspapers? These satisfactions themselves, would be worth more to every man, than the paltry sum he would have to pay towards it. The intelligence, as soon as the work was begun finally to succeed, would infuse new life into our population, nerve the arm of industry, augment the value of property, and disclose animating prospects to ourselves and our children. Shall we not assume an attitude, and a character of consistency as a people, who see our interests, and who will no longer be withheld by timid apprehensions and vaccilating doubts, from a vigorous prosecution of them? If any argument be properly deducible from the time necessary to the work, it is, not that it be postponed or totally renounced, but rather to commence it instantly, as soon as the practicability, the manner, and the cost shall be authentically ascertained. A single individual can adopt, and can daily find his happiness, his success, and his ultimate fortune, in acting upon these principles, and shall an intelligent people, in the full

Page 128

exercise of self-government, by a representative agency of their own appointment, find it impossible! Let us not believe in such a doctrine as this, by whomsoever inculcated. These remarks on the expediency and necessity of extending through time the prosecution of public enterprises for the benefit of the people, are in conformity with the past and continued practice of other states and nations. Their history, in every instance, would give sufficient evidence of this. Let it suffice to recollect, that the first blow was struck upon the western canal of New-York, on the 4th of July, 1817, and on the 8th of October, in 1823, proclamation was made amidst the transports of all the people, that the work was done. When it was begun, a much longer time was contemplated than proved necessary in the execution. Yet with the anticipated period even of ten years, instead of little more than six, the people hesitated not to constitute a legislature resolved intrepidly to embark in an enterprise, which has in five years given matchless prosperity to the state, and which will continue its growth in wealth and power, through an indefinite futurity.

        3. It has been shown that by engaging in a single work, and consenting to look to a few years for its completion, we shall adopt two methods for rendering it easy. It now remains to show, that by one method at least, the expense will not be felt by the people in carrying it into effect. As to other methods of taxation, by which the same amount might be realized, it is hoped we shall be understood to pronounce no opinion. The plan here suggested is recommended chiefly by its simplicity. People are generally taxed, not only personally, but by the value of their property. Should we undertake to mingle the latter source of revenue for our present object, in the computation, it would be impossible to prevent it from becoming a complicated subject. It is believed, that the requisite sum at which

Page 129

we are apt to be alarmed, may be so easily raised, that the plainest method of showing this to be true, is the most eligible. If any single work of this nature is to meet with the concurrence of the people, we believe that there is no man, who, when he considers the smallness of the sum which he will be called upon to pay, would consent, much less wish, to be excluded from a personal share in the enterprise. There is a spirit in the bosom of every man, which exquisitely enjoys a participation in every great undertaking, that conspicuously promotes the interest of his country, and crowns her with honour. This spirit it is the wisdom of a republic to stir into life, and fan to a flame in every citizen, no matter how humble and obscure his lot may be. How often does it happen that men deeply and successfully intent upon enlarging their property, will revolt more sensitively at the payment of a small additional sum into the public treasury, though it be for an object most important to themselves, than others who stand alone, as insulated individuals, and who must realize all that they pay by the labour of their hands! Our capacity of bearing the expense of any single enterprise, prudently conducted, is so certain, and may be made to appear so indisputable, without the least real inconvenience to any man, that to run the risk of involving the subject in obscurity, by spreading the collection of a rail-road fund through the different species of property, would expose it to indefinite dangers, from the defect of perspicuity and precision in its effect upon individuals.

        From such motives as these, and to prevent the subject from becoming intricate, the method already suggested for creating a rail-road fund, has been preferred. The great difficulty most assuredly is, not in any real ability to raise the fund, but in uniting the people in a determination and zeal worthy of themselves and of the subject, by a firm conviction

Page 130

of its importance to their common and personal interest. Let them become enlightened and assured in this conviction, and we should hear nothing of the diminutive sum of two dollars a piece, to be collected from them in five equal annual instalments.

        To show the necessity of no more than this, we shall resume a former exposition, on account of its connection with our present discussion. There it was said, "the number of taxable polls in the state of North-Carolina, is a hundred and thirty-five thousand." This was derived from the comptroller's report of 1826. In that paper, at the foot of the fifth column, the amount of the poll tax is shown to be twenty-seven thousand dollars. By dividing this sum by twenty, the number of cents paid by each poll, the persons for whom it is paid, is shown to be one hundred and thirty-five thousand. This is now confirmed by the report of the last year, which differs by five dollars only from the preceding*.

        * See Comptroller's Reports, for 1826 and 1827.

When we spoke on this subject before, the sum of thirty-seven cents was taken as a poll tax, adequate to an undertaking which we commonly regard so enormous as the construction of a rail-road through the state. To fix on such a number might seem odd to some, when the round number of forty-cents exceeded it by a difference wholly unimportant. The truth is, that the sum of fifty thousand dollars would be the result of a poll tax of thirty-seven cents on the whole number of taxable persons. This amount annually raised, was thought to be sufficient, upon such principles as were there explained, for commencing and proceeding regularly with the work. Were forty cents taken for an individual payment instead of thirty-seven, the consequent fund would amount to fifty-four, instead of
Page 131

fifty-thousand dollars. It is presumed that no man will think it of any consequence, or be inclined to charge it as an inconsistency, if we assume forty cents as the basis of our calculation, in the place of thirty-seven, of which we have been accustomed to speak. If we adopt this small contribution as the whole which it is necessary for each individual annually to pay as his share of the expense, it is remarkable how the total sum of fifty-four thousand dollars begins to measure with the magnitude of a public work, on which we are apt to look with dread, as though it would drag us to inevitable ruin.

        It has been already shown in the last number, that a mile of level rail-way will cost two thousand six hundred and forty-nine dollars. If the above sum of fifty-four thousand dollars be doubled and divided by the expense of a single mile, it shows that forty miles of such rail-way may be made by the fund thus provided in a year. And even should it hereafter appear that a mile cannot be constructed for less than three thousand dollars, still not less than thirty-six miles could be completed annually. Nothing is more obvious than that, by commencing the work at a sea-port, every mile would begin to be useful from the moment of its completion. The first year we should all feel to be an experimental one. A weekly report, as already remarked, would issue from our engineer or superintendant, affording the whole people an opportunity to judge for themselves, and probably gladdening and encouraging them with the successful advancement of the work. If so, the murmur of every apprehensive or discontented individual would be answered by facts not to be controverted. But even should the trial, beyond all that is probable or all that could be foreseen, prove unsuccessful, could we not instantly desist? and is there one who would not think it worth

Page 132

the sum he had paid for it? For what is the loss? Does it sound high? It is forty cents!

        But it was assumed that the sum of fifty-four thousand dollars was to be doubled. The principle on which this is done, has been already shown*,

        * See Number 4, towards the end.

but it is material here, and we shall hope to be indulged in briefly renewing it. Past observation among ourselves has often evinced the promptness, and even the avidity with which men who are in possession of large funds, and who are seeking to vest them profitably, unite, if they are permitted, with the government, in such improvements as are likely to return liberally into their bosom. We are not sure, nay, we are quite strong in the belief, that if North-Carolina shall ultimately decline the junction of Newbern with Raleigh by a rail-road, the advantages of a stock thus invested, will appear so certain, that a company will be formed, who will carry it into successful operation. The proceeds of such a stock at the expiration of the very first year, after any portion of the work should be finished, would doubtless exceed those of any banking institution, or any capital in the state. At least, it would rise to any point which a law of incorporation would permit it to reach, and yet be attended with unexampled privileges to the people, in conveyance to a market. But such a method of obtaining the rail-road is the worst to which a people resorts, and if possible should always be avoided: not by refusing incorporation to companies, but by performing the work for themselves, becoming the basis of it by their own funds, and keeping the ultimate property of it in their own possession.

        Should the state, after inquiry into the subject, deliberately resolve to adopt the measure, and prosecute it to a practical issue, a credit would be attached to it, which would

Page 133

not fail to enlist the necessary resources. The offer need not be limited to our own state. Extend it to other parts of the union, and especially to commercial cities where capital abounds, and merchants would see a prospect not only of large profits on stock thus subscribed, but of other advantages in an immense trade to be ultimately opened with the whole of North-Carolina. Any one conversant with such business will not doubt that were a subscription authorized by an act of our legislature to the like amount of fifty-four thousand dollars, with a proffer of eight, nine, or ten per cent, it would be speedily filled with names that would be ample pledge for their obligations.

        Finally, let a rail-road be once established over our level country, and it will be unnecessary to augment the payment from the people, though a mile through the higher parts of the state should be double or treble in expense, of the same distance upon level ground. A small toll upon the tonnage conveyed in a year on the first hundred miles completed, would assuredly exceed the additional cost of construction, though it should become six or eight thousand dollars a mile. The extension of every year, would more and more ensure this consequence, and toward the close of the work, it would probably grow with an accelerated rapidity.

        As doubts have been expressed by some, whether the whole business of transportation for the state, would be sufficient to justify the undertaking, it is our purpose, on some future occasion, to produce convincing evidence on this subject.

        It has now been shown that this species of internal improvement is not impracticable by us. If it ever appear so, it is from difficulties with which the subject is encumbered without the least necessity. Let the work be single; let it be distributed through a reasonable length of time; and let

Page 134

the annual expense be provided by a payment cheerfully made from every personally taxable individual in the state, and all embarrassment vanishes from an enterprise that involves the wealth, the honour, and the happiness of the country.

Page 135

No. XV.


        THE fourth question to be answered was, where ought a rail-road to be made? In replying to this, two objects of the first importance are to be specially consulted. The first is to secure union; the second, that every inch of it as soon as finished shall be immediately useful, and that its utility may grow with the extension of the work, till the whole people shall enjoy its benefits; till all shall be released from the restrictions which now act as a perpetual embargo upon most of the productions of the country, and as an oppressive tax upon the few articles that bear transportation.

        It has been shown that we are unprepared to engage in more than a single work. On one object, and on one alone, should the efforts of the state be concentrated. This is essential to a cordial and persevering union. The moment a second is proposed and admitted, there is no end to the jealousies, the claims, and the distracted counsels that will rush upon us like a flood, and drown at once our strength and our prospects. This unity of plan is essential to the possibility of success. If our resources be divided, that moment they are incompetent.

        Admit then that it must be single, where ought it to be? The answer obviously is, that it should be central. If it is to be done by a union of all the people, that cannot be a correct policy, which is vitally at variance with the plainest principle by which union is to be effected. Would we hope for concord, not a feature of the measure that is to unite

Page 136

us, should be marked with partiality. It is a deformity which will grow more hideous and offensive, the more it is developed. Every act of a free people, to be wise, efficient and happy, must emanate from a spirit of compromise, and in this spirit should it be sustained and conducted. Disagreements may occur, and must be expected. If we would make them weak and powerless, it must be demonstrable that their plans are iniquitous, and their complaints unreasonable. If the unreasonableness and iniquity be chargeable on us, in a conflict of counsels, they will be heaped upon us, and we shall strive in vain to prevent them from sinking us to the bottom. If an undertaking may fail for want of union, when it originates in equitable and disinterested principles, can we rationally hope for success when its local prejudices and partial interests are written in conspicuous characters upon its front? If living in a part of the state, at a distance from a central line, it be an object dear to any of us, to obtain the privileges of internal improvement, by having thrown open to us an unobstructed market, let us be assured that the method of arriving speedily at the accomplishment of our wishes, is first to unite in a central work. Any place which has heretofore flourished as a seat of commerce, manufactures, or any species of business, will never be injured by a rail-way through the middle of the state. If it prove the means of prosperity to the people, as it certainly will, that prosperity will be every where felt. The consequence will be that our people will cease to go in quest of settlements to the west. It will become a privilege to live in North-Carolina, instead of looking to the fertility of western lands, and to the opportunities of market which western people enjoy. Let a rail-way be constructed, and the current of emigration will be arrested, and an influx of inhabitants will instantly commence. The muscles, sinews, arteries, and

Page 137

veins of this skeleton will fill up. It will assume a bright and lustrous complexion, the sure tokens of internal energy and health. Our wild and fruitless forests will fall before the axe of an increasing and resuscitated population. Our lands will be occupied by a vigorous, because a rewarded industry. Their value will be augmented. They will be fertilized under a better culture. Their owners will be cheered and nerved when they are now assured that they can send away every thing, at an expense which is as nothing into the market of the world. The productions of the soil and of the mine will be inconceivably multiplied. Capital will become abundant in the hands of multitudes, instead of being limited to a few sparsely scattered through the state. Manufactures will be established. Enterprise and invention will be stimulated into life and activity. In less than ten years we shall have realized the growth of sixty. Such a prosperity possesses the quality of being diffusible through the whole community. It is like oil spreading upon the water till it reaches the shores of the lake. It resembles the food that disperses strength to the utmost extremities. To the people of Fayetteville, of Salisbury, and many of our southern counties, a rail-way between those places is of the highest importance. It is not because of any real difficulty in making it, that it is not to be effected. Let them upon frank and disinterested principles coalesce with all the counties and all the people in the prosecution of a commercial thoroughfare through the middle of the state, and it will be a pledge to themselves of a speedy prosperity as yet unexampled and unconceived. Could we only have disclosed to us, by the first successes and the first fruits of such a work, the facility of its operations, and the lightness of the expense to every one personally, the difficulties now so staggering to us would be at an end. This discovery once made, as it would be by

Page 138

the experience of a single year, so important a rail-way as that between Salisbury and Fayetteville would soon follow. It would be the certain result of private enterprise in two years, or at the utmost three, and with immense profit to the owners, though not a single cent were solicited or granted from the state. The distance of these places, as shortened by a rail-way, is probably a hundred and ten miles, and half of this is along an elevated level, sending out the waters of the Pedee on the one side, and of Cape Fear on the other.

        An impression of such consequence appears to have been made already upon the minds of some, and it has been strangely used as an objection, even against the first employment of engineers, as though the evidences of advantage were likely to be so striking, that those who were unfriendly to internal improvement in this or any other way, were afraid to trust the people to themselves, when the advantages should be clearly and fully displayed before their eyes. If a survey and estimate once be made, say they, we shall be so intent upon rail-roads, that there will be no end to them. What is this but to acknowledge, that even in their own apprehension the benefits will be so manifest, that the people will see their highest interests in such an undertaking.

        A man from palpable appearances upon his land, has reason to think that it contains large quantities of gold. Does he say to himself, I will shut my eyes to this? If his neighbour, who is of the same opinion, recommends a trial, does he reply, No! by no means? I am resolved not to do it. Do not persuade me. I am uneasy enough about it already: and sometimes I cannot sleep; for somehow the impression is upon me that there is a great deal of gold all over my grounds. But if I once begin, and it really prove true, there will be no end to my digging.

Page 139

        Let it be our first object to secure a spirit of coalition for the true interest of our state. Let us seek after it upon sure and rational principles. Let us found it upon the basis of experience. Let us look for it in an ingenious and liberal admission of the plan, whatever it may be, which comprehends the good of the whole, and in which discontent searches in vain for a proof of partial operation or selfish motives. Let no sensitive and surly spirit of resistance spring up, hunting after obstacles, and heaping them up against any measure which promises to combine the interest of the state and the common suffrage. Let every morbid and sullen jealousy be expelled from our bosoms. Let it be replaced by enlightened counsels and a generous co-operation. When we look back at the past, must it not appear that we have stood aloof from one another, and kept at the distance where repulsion prevails. So long as this continues, North-Carolina can never become a body of strength, compactness, and efficiency. What remains but to change this distance, and with a noble and generous purpose, penetrate through these repulsive limits, till we shall feel the attractive charm of approximation and mutual confidence?

        We have seen the importance of excluding the elements of division from our counsels, and of securing conciliation and harmony, by adopting a single work with a central locality. But now it may be asked, are the circumstances such as to admit of this? Happily this can be answered unreservedly in the affirmative. The maritime town of Beaufort is centrally situated upon our coast. For healthiness none is superior to it. It is close upon the ocean, and yet is safe from its storms. Here is an excellent and spacious harbour, with an inlet directly accessible from sea for ships of three hundred tons. With all its circumstances it challenges comparison with any port on the whole American

Page 140

coast south of the Chesapeake. For detailed evidences of this, we refer to the fifth and eleventh numbers of this series, and to the printed reports on internal improvement. Newbern is another maritime town, centrally situated, forty miles above Beaufort by land, and thirty-six by water, and thus on a line passing up through the middle of the state. From an act of our last legislature, new and enlarged prospects are opening through Newbern. If a passage to sea through Ocracoke, can be deepened to ten or twelve feet, through the sound, the importance of Newbern as a mart of trade to our upper country must be incalculably augmented. But let us remember that the expediency of directing a rail-road to Newbern, is wholly independent on the success or failure of this meritorious and honourable enterprise. By the Harlow canal a communication is already realized between Beaufort and Newbern, and all that is necessary is to expand this canal, through its length of two or three miles, and lay it open to steamboats, if not larger vessels. Again, Raleigh, our metropolis, is centrally situated. This may be properly called the first landing place among the hills, after traversing the level space of a hundred miles from Newbern to our upper country. This whole line, as did the previous one between Beaufort and Newbern, passes centrally through that part of the state. A rail-road can be constructed here for less than two thousand seven hundred dollars a mile, according to an estimate already made, or certainly at not more than three thousand. By a contribution of forty cents from every one who pays a personal tax, forty miles can be completed yearly, until in two years and a half this distance is finished. Lastly, by setting out from Raleigh, and continuing in a line directly west, or as nearly as may be by a practical survey, it pursues a course through the heart of the state, till it reaches the western extremity, its

Page 141

distance from Virginia and South Carolina being generally not more than fifty miles, while two-thirds of the state, to the west of the capital, are within thirty-four miles of it, and one-third within seventeen.

        It now appears that a work uniting the state in its execution, can scarcely take any other course than the one designated. Its locality is determined by a reference to every thing which is naturally comprehended.

        One more circumstance needs our attention before we leave this part of our subject. At a former period, when engaged in the improvement of our rivers, and in opening canals, we ultimately incurred disaster and loss, not only by dividing our strength among a multitude of works, but by commencing our operations in the interior parts of the state, and in some instances in the very neighbourhood of the mountains. The consequence was, that as soon as the funds were exhausted, which were allotted to these distant and scattered portions of our public works, they were devoid of all value for want of connection with one another, and with any commercial mart. They stood as dispersed and mouldering monuments of our divided counsels, our extravagant undertakings, and our indiscretion in commencing operations where they must necessarily lie useless, until the whole system should be completed. From past errors let us learn future wisdom. By beginning at a seaport, as soon as any part is finished, it is useful. It instantly presents an experiment to determine the practicability and the efficacy of the undertaking. A length of thirty-five or forty miles, which may be completed in one year, will give a value before unknown to every thing through the whole of that distance. But its influence will not be limited to that extent. It will be felt in a greater or less degree much further into the country. The insight it will give us into the manner of the work, its facilities, its

Page 142

difficulties, and its expense in practice, will impart precision to our operations, and inspire us with confidence. Do you ask, what if it should fail? This is impossible. Let us remember that it is let out to be constructed in portions by contract, upon conditions that ensure the result at the hands of every contractor and his securities. It is as certain in its result as the opening of a common road, or the performance of any other work for which security is given. If there be room for any question, it is not whether the work will be done, but whether when finished, it will be valuable for almost annihilating expense upon transportation. To the latter of these inquiries, it is presumed that the public will ask no guaranty. If the work be done, they will be security for themselves, in regard to its utility.

        Before a blow is struck, the whole line is surveyed by qualified engineers, who at the same time estimate the cost of every mile by an inspection of the ground, and set it down to be reported to the legislature. The locality being marked out, the legislative body appoints one or more agents for the state. Notice is published in the newspapers that on a selected day portions of the work will be let out to contractors. Attendance is given. Substantial men undertake as much as they wish upon the conditions prescribed, with ample security; and if these conditions be not fulfilled, the loss is upon themselves, and the state is secure. In this manner it is evident that there is no limit to the quantity of road which may be completed in a year, if the funds be provided. And assurance is at the same time given of perfection both in the materials and workmanship by the supervision of the agency, to whom upon proper terms the contractor is responsible.

        It is manifest then that engaging in such a work, the state can proceed upon safe principles. It may continue as long as it shall think proper, and desist at pleasure. All

Page 143

that is finished, must be the best in its kind. From its position, and its connection with a seaport town, it must be instantly applicable to use, and its utility must be extended in exact proportion to the extension of the work. By a small toll or mileage upon the part completed, aid may be given to that still to be added, until arriving among the hills, though it grows more expensive, it will probably be accelerated rather than retarded; and the rapidity of its progress will increase till its final consummation.

May 17, 1828.

Page 144

No. XVI.


        IT was proposed to exhibit satisfactory evidence, that vast benefits would commence instantly to be experienced, from the structure of a rail-way for the use of the state, and that these will increase with the progress of time.

        On this topic we enter with a peculiar confidence. The advantages of a prompt market, upon conditions of conveyance profitable to the producer, are indisputable. A railroad, a canal, or a deep and navigable river, reduces almost to nothing the expense of carriage. Any one of these centrally situated, opens a market throughout the state, and with the world. Not a state in the union has suffered detriment from the cost of transportation in comparison with our own. In the northern and eastern parts of our country, we need not be told, that navigable waters, with safe and commodious harbours, are sufficiently numerous. Or, if in any instance it be otherwise, canals have been made, and in some instances these works have been conducted upon a scale, with which scarcely any thing even in the old world is commensurate. This is true from the Atlantic coast of Massachusetts and Maine to the Mississippi. The Chesapeake, Potomac, Rappahannoc, York, and James, all proclaim the eminent privileges of Maryland and Virginia. With respect to the last of these rivers originating in the Alleghany mountains, it has long since been made navigable through its whole extent. The waters of the west are well known to us. They constitute one of the grand inducements to our people, who are flowing thither in a continual

Page 145

stream of emigration, that they may enjoy the opportunities of a quick and unobstructed market with the world. As little need we be told of South-Carolina and Georgia. The productions of their higher counties are floated on navigable rivers to Georgetown, Charleston, Augusta and Savannah, and their territories are intersected with canals and turnpikes. So ardent has been the spirit of South-Carolina on one side, and of Virginia on the other, that they have scarcely been withheld from extending their public works into our own state. How is it with us? We have no deep channels, and unobstructed rivers. The utmost depth proposed for the Cape Fear from Fayetteville to Wilmington, to continue through the year, is eighteen inches. The Roanoke is a good river, and would be useful to us, would we open an intercourse with Beaufort by large vessels or steam-boats. But the trade of that river is permitted by us to be diverted instantly into Virginia by the Dismal Swamp Canal. It seems as if we stood, and looked on with listless gaze, while our neighbours, after their wonted manner, are scrambling for our spoils. We hear a bustle around us, we start up with sudden amazement, we look for the movement that has disturbed our repose, we see that provision is already commenced and almost completed for the appropriation of our goods. It is too late, say we; we cannot help it; and again compose ourselves to our accustomed tranquillity. We might have a commercial city. But how shall it spring into existence, so long as the site of it, upon one of the best harbours, is inaccessible from the interior country? Here are no canals. Our roads are yet in their natural state. To pass at all among our mountains, turnpikes are necessary, but such of these as have been made, do not reduce the difficulties within the compass of our ordinary roads through the rest of the country. The contrast then is complete, between the

Page 146

commercial opportunities of other states, and the destitution of them in our own. What would be the consequence of placing the whole people at once in full possession of these opportunities? Can we doubt that incalculable benefits would commence instantly to be experienced? As in a moment we should pass from the extreme of humiliation, to that enviable height which others have attained in a long progress of time. If this be done, our liberation from past restraints and mortifications will quicken our bosoms with a sincere joy, as it will be sudden, at the same time that it is complete. From inevitable impoverishment, a high-way is immediately thrown open to indefinite prosperity. No longer fettered by a grievous and invincible necessity, the people will triumph in new privileges. Their arms unpinioned, and their persons free, life will beat with new alacrity, in the contemplation of brighter prospects. These are no visionary anticipations. We need not distrust their indulgence. They have ever been verified in circumstances analogous to our own. The examples have certainly been rare of a people, to whom privations and disheartening embarrassments have been so long perpetuated, especially while others on every side have been in the enjoyment of enlarged opportunities.

        We have grown up from infancy, conversant with the impediments that confine us. They are as familiar to us as the ordinary course of nature. We feel as if they were scarcely less invincible, and that we are to submit to them of course. Did we enjoy a free and unshackled commerce but for a year, and were we then by some disaster deprived of it, nothing would reconcile us to its loss; no sacrifice, no exertion would appear too great for its restitution. Now we acquiesce in the hardships of our condition, as though to question, or imagine their removal, involved some strange caprice, or extravagant fancy. Could this spell

Page 147

once be broken by success, and by an actual sense of its advantages, an energy would begin, which would be like life from the dead.

        Is there one who doubts the importance of this commercial freedom, or the certainty of its consequences? His apprehensions are contradicted by the universal experience of the world. In no period of its history has a civilized people, in the free and uninterrupted exercise of commercial intercourse with the world, failed to grow into wealth and power. Search the records of our race, and if one exception can be detected, let it be adduced as authority for this timorous distrust. It is unmanly fear, and suspicious jealousy, to insist on possible dangers which were never realized, and then retreat from exertion because they are possible. From such phantoms of the imagination let us appeal to facts.

        Whence has England evolved her power, her populous cities, and her perpetuated prosperity? Much is due to the freedom of her civil institutions, and the irrepressible genius of her people. But these have long been sustained in their ascent to pre-eminence by a commercial system unexampled in its privileges and extent in the history of nations. It is by her commerce, that her agriculture, manufactures, and skill in the arts, have been fed and nourished to their present perfection. Tyre of old was renowned for her opulence and power. It was her commerce exclusively, that first laid her foundations, accumulated her riches, crowned her with magnificence, and made her the envy of the world. Carthage was the daughter of Tyre. With her commercial spirit, she inherited also her immense resources and extensive sway.

        Let it not be imagined that in citing these examples of nations and cities, illustrious for their prosperity and power, we have the weakness to imagine, that by the same arts we

Page 148

shall be able to arrive at equal eminence. We indulge no such empty conceits as these. But if a substantial wisdom be our object, let us not be so vain as to suppose that we can devise that for ourselves, which is of more practical value than history can teach us. We speak not now of political liberty, but of commercial privileges. It is the end of the one to secure us in the enjoyment of our civil rights. The efficiency of the other consists in augmenting our wealth, and multiplying our resources. On the latter subject the instructions of history are too important to be overlooked, and consigned to oblivion. Shut up within the compass of a little local observation, we may consequentially assert to ourselves the meed of wisdom for our peculiar immunities, while we owe them wholly to a distinguishing providence, and are only giving the most striking evidence how unworthily they are bestowed, by our thankless enjoyment, and their perverted misapplication. Let no man regard with scorn the results of experience. They are treasured up in history for our use. If we despise them under a delusive confidence that we know off-hand more than the accumulated experience of ages is able to teach, the vanity of our pretensions will be sooner or later exposed. We shall only entail upon ourselves poverty which is its usual portion, and we shall richly deserve to endure all its consequences, as the proper scourges of our folly.

        We have spoken of England, and Tyre, and Carthage. They are monuments more estimable than the pyramids. Commerce has inscribed upon them the glories of her creative and expansive powers. Athens was maritime and commercial among the states of Greece. For no other reason was she signal, not in arms only, but in opulence, in science, and in the arts. Here agriculture, manufactures, and commerce combined their resources under a government more resembling our own, than any other which antiquity presents.

Page 149

Under their joint influence her population increased, and she was able not only to equip fleets and armies in defensive conflicts and distant expeditions, but to send forth colonies to distant coasts. If the name of reviving Greece, after the lapse of so many centuries, is now heard with sensations of delight and sympathy in this new and distant land of liberty, let us bear in mind that Athens was prominent among her states by the union of agriculture and commerce, on which she singularly rested as the basis of her prosperity. Rome continued in an infantine state, until she became commercial. No sooner did she supplant Carthage, and succeed to the privileges of her trade, than from the obscurity of a people struggling for existence with the petty states by which she was environed, she over-awed them by the aggrandizement thus suddenly attained, and every shore of the Mediterranean became conscious of her influence.

        Again let it not be misunderstood that in exhibiting these instances of vital energy from the connection of commerce with agriculture, we would commend the obnoxious parts of their character for our imitation. Let us hope, let us be assured that the benevolent, the correct, the pure religion of the gospel, will ever guard us from the corruptions and ferocities of heathenism. So long as we are Christians, let us believe that the wealth derived to us through the same instrumentality, will be applied, not in gratifying a selfish ambition, or in spreading desolation and misery; but in building up the temples of the Most High, in diffusing the blessings of education among all the people, in causing our rational liberties to strike their roots more deeply and extensively through the soil, and in uniting our voice with all who are animated by the charities of the gospel, to proclaim "peace on earth and good will to men."

        Among the proofs we may adduce of the benefits of commerce,

Page 150

the Israelites occur as a familiar example. We know that in general they were a people purely agricultural. But though while this continued to be the case, they were peculiarly sustained by the favour of heaven, how superior does their lustre become under the reign of Solomon! To this prince the most liberal promises of prosperity were given to crown his government with peculiar glories. By the military successes of his father, the kingdom had been established, and its dominions extended. What means were yet in reserve, to exalt it to an ascendancy that should eclipse the grandeur that it had already attained! It was by commercial prosperity that this was easily and naturally effected. During this reign, the nation extended its trade by the Red Sea to the coast of Africa and the East Indies, and on the Mediterranean by every shore, to the utmost west. To this happy period was assigned, by the prospective determination of the Most High, the erection of his temple, when it could be made of gold, and marble, and the cedars of Lebanon. He gave them this prosperity, by an unlimited commerce, and sanctioned the magnificent offering of their gratitude by his visible presence.

        Nothing is easier than to enlarge this detail of evidence. The petty state of Venice, a spot scarcely distinguishable, at the head of the Adriatic, became mistress of the seas by her commercial enterprise. She was able to overawe the Turk, even in Constantinople, the seat of his empire, at a time when he threatened to change the destinies of Europe. If Genoa could rival Venice in power, it was because she rivalled her in commerce. Holland owed her very existence as well as her liberties to the same cause. She won her territories from the ocean; she conquered her independence from Spain, and she coped with England for empire.

        And now, to come nearer home, these United States have ever been eminently commercial as well as agricultural in

Page 151

their character. Our early complaints against the mother country, our revolutionary struggles, our busy and populous cities, the support of our government, our fleets and armies, and the liquidation of our national debt, all pronounce their united testimony in confirmation of this. If there be an exception in any state, or in any portion of this extensive country, where a free and open commerce is not enjoyed, there we see a population straitened in their circumstances, writhing under embarrassments, distressed with debts, and galled with restrictions, while multitudes are hastening to other states, where their industry may be encouraged and rewarded by an unobstructed commerce.

        Is it at all credible, that theirs are the counsels of wisdom who persuade us, that while we continue in this situation we are acting best for ourselves? I speak not now of supposed or intended friendship. Doubtless they mean well, and we have an assurance of this, because they share with us the consequences of their counsels and their actions. But faithful as their intentions may be, when they undertake to instruct us in our best interests, and suddenly and heedlessly pronounce, as though they had a perfect knowledge of them, do they tell us that which contains our certain and substantial prosperity? The man who cries down commercial opportunity as of small moment, as that which we may easily purchase at too dear a price, flatly contradicts the recorded unanimous verdict of history. He sets up his vague apprehensions and theoretical notions, in opposition to the decisions of universal experience. What are we to think of such rashness and short-sighted vanity as this? Shall we permit its boldness to shake us for a moment? Its claims to honesty of purpose let us be willing to admit, but the merits of the case have been long ago settled by experiment. He who holds out against its determination, shows only that he is in the dark in respect to that

Page 152

which every man may know, or that he is under an unhappy influence of which he is himself scarcely aware.

        That the farmer of North-Carolina is labouring under disadvantages in comparison with the farmer of other states, is not imaginary, but an unquestionable truth.

        In what our disadvantages consist, and whether it is in our power to remove them, are questions of the weightiest import. That we are almost totally abridged of the intercourse of trade, is notorious to ourselves and to the world. In this is the primary cause of our straits and sufferings. Other things may and certainly do contribute to them, but if we would begin well, here we must commence the application of a healing hand. All other disorders, as physicians express themselves, are but symptomatic, and will give way, when a healthful action is effected in this originally diseased part. No foreign enemy invades, no domestic tyranny of government oppresses us. No climate is genial to a greater variety of productions than ours. Where is our best commercial port? Open it to us. Let our distance from it be annihilated. Let it cost us nothing to send every production of our farms into the market of the world. Let it cost as little to import every thing we want from abroad. Let the time, labour and expense now wasted and sunk in marketing, be frugally devoted to the improvement of our lands, the preparation of our crops, and the multiplicity of our productions. Let it be in our power to obtain a profit upon every thing, instead of one or two articles only. Place us in full possession of these privileges from the sea to the mountains, and a vivifying power will be put into action, which from the lowest depression will, in a few years, raise us to an elevated and brilliant prosperity.

        The happiness of a people, next to public and private virtue, consists in a perpetual growth into better circumstance.

Page 153

This happiness is eminently in our power, in proportion as we have been subjected to long and great privations. We may turn that which has hitherto continued our heaviest curse, into the occasion of a copious and quick succession of the richest blessings. But it will be impossible to realize all at once the effects of this great and mighty change, and if no unforeseen reverse befal, which may a gracious God forefend, we shall advance in a perpetuated vigorous growth to greater maturity and perfection.

May 15, 1828.

Page 154



        IT is always of moment to us, as a political body, dispassionately to reflect upon our disadvantages, and to devise if possible the methods of redressing them. If by a discreet choice and application of means for our relief, they can become so easy as to be insensible to us, who is there that would delay a moment to adopt them in the manner that will at once be safe in its process, and certain in its issue? In our present situation as a people, we are without opportunity and without motive. We are hemmed in and trammelled on every side. With the labour of our farms, few of us care for more than to produce a sufficiency for our support, and to prevent if possible the embarrassment of debts which it may prove out of our power to pay. We are in that strange situation, that while we are in the midst of plenty, we are struggling to maintain an existence. To a considerate man, the nature of the evil suggests the remedy. The laws of society compel not men to take aught in payment of a debt except money, and this they will constrain us to pay, or our property must make it good. Money can be obtained only by offering to others such productions of our labour as they are willing to receive in exchange for it. We have a sufficiency of productions, and there are enough people in the world, who would gladly give us for them the money that we want, but the place of supply and the place of demand are at an impassable distance from one other. The consequence is,

Page 155

that the farmer of North-Carolina, and those who stand ready to become moneyed purchasers, can but remain on opposite sides of the insurmountable barrier, and gaze on each other with longing but hopeless wishes.

        Is there no way then of penetrating this barrier, and of placing the seller and the purchaser by the side of one another? As we are now situated, the whole value of our flour, corn, and all other productions, except one or two, is swallowed up by the expense of transportation. By the time the farmer arrives at the market, it were much the same as if he were to throw the whole into the sea. Even with respect to the articles that will sometimes bear conveyance--so pitiful are the pittances of advantage--that while they are doled out to him, and the owner reflects upon his hardships and losses, his bosom swells with indignation and contempt. Compare the man who goes to market as we now do, with the one who carries upon a canal, a rail-road, or a navigable river, and the former is like one who scatters his money along the road, while the other retains it safely in his pocket.

        To no purpose is it to say, that there are times when the planter can set out and be absent two, or three, or four weeks, with no more expense than if he were at home. It were a sorry thing if the planter who conducts his business upon such principles as these, were to be made the necessary standard for all others. If all that time and labour and expenditure of smaller or greater sums upon the way, as well as before the journey begins and after it is ended, were as faithfully applied at home, in the improvement of his grounds, in repairing his fences, in ploughing his fields, or if necessary, in enlarging his arable lands, and preparing for crops, can we believe that no more benefit would result than when all is thrown away in travelling one, two, or three hundred miles to market, and nearly as much in returning,

Page 156

while he is living abroad so many days or weeks in the very worst of circumstances! Is there no waste of property in the wear and tear of the waggon and its gear? no injury to horses and men toiling through deep roads, and over hills, and exposed to storms and cold and heat? And even if these valuable animals were supposed to lie idle, while they are not employed in such service, which to an industrious man is by no means admissible, does any one need to be told, that to treat them with humanity and ensure their efficacy, they must eat nearly twice as much while in such severe labour and exposure, as when out of exertion and under good protection? But this is not all. Every one who has long owned horses, knows that they are very expensive, and at the same time very precarious property. Had we the advantages of a rail-way, with the flourishing commercial towns and villages which would grow up along it in our own neighbourhood, and through its whole extent, we should evidently maintain fewer of this costly and uncertain property. Every man now who keeps a waggon and goes to market, must have four or five horses as a necessary appurtenance, or else hire in his need under immense disadvantages. But make the proposed change, and this monstrous road-waggon, as it is called, would instantly become unnecessary. It would soon be no longer seen in the country. It is a vast unwieldly machine, on which, with all its weight of wood, and iron, and bed, and canvass, requisite to give it strength, and capaciousness, and shelter, it may be doubted whether the power of more than one horse must not be exclusively bestowed to keep it in motion. It is our roads in their natural state, and our distant market upon such roads, which alone retain this heavy machine in use. By a central rail-road, every man is brought within ten, twenty, or at the utmost, within fifty miles of the market; for after arriving at this, the remaining

Page 157

conveyance to the sea is as nothing. In such circumstances, the same weight of flour which is now dragged heavily by five horses, would then be carried by two with a light waggon, sufficiently strong for this and all ordinary purposes of a farm, while their owner would be kept from home but one or two, or at the utmost four days only, in weather selected at his discretion.

        But is it not strange that men should undertake at the the present day to convice us, that it is even a privilege to be shut in as we are from the general market of the world! This we believe is an idea which was suddenly broached for the first time, after the facilities of the rail-way were proposed. First it was the object to find out the easiest and least costly conveyance possible for our exports and imports. This was our aim all the time we were thinking of making canals and deepening rivers. Now we are told that if we adopt the method of the rail-road, we shall be undersold or reduced in our prices in our very presence, and upon our own plantations, by people who must bring their productions ten or twelve hundred miles, shifting them as they must at different places on the way, from waggons to canal boats, from these to ships, and thence to waggons , and paying all the charges of so much transportation. These are the very same persons who persuade us, according to the other argument which has been just refuted, that we can afford to go to a distant market, at certain seasons of leisure as they call them, through all the obstacles and expense we now encounter, and to take the prices for our produce, which are paid in places already open to this northern competition of which they profess to be in so much dread. Such reasonings are so contradictory in themselves, that they can need no answer but such as will readily occur to one who reflects on them but a moment.

Page 158

        The truth is, that North-Carolina has within such a space as thirty years past, lost thousands of valuable citizens, with immense capital, which they have transported along with them across the mountains, to go where they might find better settlements, and an open market. Lands it is true have been no small inducement to the change, but had they enjoyed among us the same opportunities of trade as were enjoyed elsewhere, and felt the consequent encouragement to improve their lands and their methods of cultivation, our state would by this time have been richer by millions than she now is, and the benefits would have been felt by all beyond calculation. Did any one ever undertake a more desperate task than to prove, that we shall prosper more with a shackled than an open trade? The state of New-York west from Albany, a few years since, was in circumstances almost perfectly similar to our own at present. I shall suppose one of our people, who is opposed to a central rail-road, to visit that part of the country, and to press upon the inhabitants the arguments which he uses here. Let him zealously persuade them that they are in a much worse condition now than when they had no canal: that it cost more than it was worth; that it was an oppression upon the people; that it let in a trade from without, by which they were underbidden in their own market; and that to choke it up immediately with the same dirt which was taken out of its bed, would be restoring to the state the inestimable privileges which it once possessed, and of which by the wily practices of artful and imposing men, it is now deprived. Let our orator address such topics as these to the farmers of New-York, and what sort of a hearing would he obtain? Is there a man in all that country who would not stare while such a tide of rhetorick was setting into his ears? His ready reply would certainly be, if

Page 159

reply he should make at all, the time has been, sir, when your reasonings might have had some influence upon us: when they were actually used, and appeared in our inexperience to have had some weight in them. But that time happily is now past, never to return. The whole history of our canal, from the first trial of its effects to the present moment, is a series of experience in flat contradiction to such arguments: and you might as well inculcate upon us that we do not know our right hand from our left, as attempt to convince us to the contrary. Before the existence of this canal, our population was destitute of an animating principle. We lay like a man of strength tied hand and foot. We it is true existed. We breathed, and the blood circulated through our veins. But our inaction and languor were like the heartlessness of death. Our country and its population resembled a vast stagnant and unwholesome lake, intermixed with a rank and uncultivated soil, and begirt by impassable barriers. But now the life and motion given to these waters have wholly changed their character. Vitality and energy are diffused over the land. The whole atmosphere, once loaded with pernicious vapours, is now filled with an invigorating freshness. The once dark and fruitless desert now waves with golden harvests. The scene is crowned with orchards, and gardens, and flocks interspersed with the habitations and clustered villages of a flourishing population. Your arguments, therefore, against our canal and its effects must be theoretical. They are suggested by groundless apprehensions. Manufactures too, are here established by the capital which has been created, and they continue to grow by the profits of a thriving and moneyed interest. Schools are thickly scattered among us, and they are well supported for educating the children of the country. In short, we are now happy and prosperous, and our efforts, which we once felt to be

Page 160

beslaving and irksome toils, are converted into a cheerful and prolific industry, blessed in the anticipations of abundance for our reward. Return then to your people. Tell them what you have seen. Rest not till all around you breathe one determined and unalterable purpose, that the channels of a free commerce shall be opened with the different parts of your state and with the world.

        This would doubtless be the reception which the farmers of our sister state would give to the fearful and theoretical reasoner of our own, who now strives to put off the day of our prosperity and eminence, as though it were a day of evil. So deeply are others convinced of the transcendant advantages of annihilating the cost and trouble of transportation, that the work is glowing around us on every side. Year before last the general government granted in favour of Virginia a hundred and fifty thousand dollars, for the purpose of making the Dismal Swamp Canal navigable for steam-boats. The object of this canal, as we all know, is to lead off the whole trade of the Roanoke, and of the Albemarle and Pamlico waters, to Norfolk. Shall we stand by and see this done without an effort to open to all this commerce its easy and proper channel through Beaufort? We cannot, it seems, derive similar benefits from the treasury of the union, for the doctrines and principles of our leading men are such, that they think we must not accept of such services when they are freely proffered to us. It is remarkable that though Virginia, and Tennessee, and South-Carolina, and Alabama are no less scrupulous than ourselves upon these same doctrines and principles, they incur no loss as to the practical consequence of their opinions. They receive the benefit, though they reprobate the principle. Thus it appears, that while we are contributing our share to the public funds of the states, we are hopeless of any participation in their fruits, except that the national

Page 161

flag is kept waving over us for our protection, where protection is never likely to be wanted. This, to say the least, is most unfortunate, especially as it affects a state, under greater natural disabilities than any other in the confederacy. At the last session of congress, four hundred thousand acres of the first quality, admitted to be worth ten dollars an acre, and thus amounting to four millions of dollars, were given to Alabama, to enable that state to cut a canal by the Muscle Shoals. This canal is to be thirty miles long, and navigable for steam-boats. Will the people who live on the higher parts of that river, both in Alabama and Tennessee, concur in the opinion cherished by some of our citizens, that expanding this easy passage between themselves and New-Orleans, will blight all their fair prospects of individual and national wealth? Assuredly not. They are now exulting in the pledge thus given of incalculable growth and strength to themselves and their posterity. And it is to be feared that as soon as this great and glorious enterprise shall be completed, it will prove a fresh lure to multitudes of our people to pass the mountains, that they may enjoy the immense advantages of so short a removal, to a quick and open market.

        On the fourth of July ground was first broken above Georgetown on the Potomac for a canal, to connect the waters of the Chesapeake and Ohio, through such a distance as four hundred miles. On the same illustrious day the first blow was struck for constructing a rail-way to be three hundred and forty miles in length, connecting Baltimore with the Ohio. In South-Carolina three rail-roads are already proposed within less than a year past, centering at Charleston, and radiating to Augusta, Columbia, and Camden. In January last, commissioners appointed by the Legislature of Massachusetts, rendered their report on a rail-way to be made from Boston through the whole

Page 162

length of that state, to Albany on the Hudson. These are practical and unequivocal testimonies of the spirit of our countrymen, and of their firm conviction that their funds and their enterprise are well directed upon the facilities of commerce. This spirit is the proper offspring of civil liberty enjoyed by an enlightened people. Monarchs boast of the strength, consistency, and perseverance resulting from the unity of action which they can give to the powers and resources of a nation. They delight to stigmatize our popular governments as characterized by distracted counsels, inconstancy of purpose, and abortive undertakings. If such imputations have been authenticated in the conduct of other republics, they are happily refuted by many examples in our own. In many parts of our country, they may direct their eyes on public works, as extensive, substantial, and magnificent as the oldest nations of the globe have effected. Here, by the intelligent co-operation of the people, such works are commenced and prosecuted, through a series of years, to their final accomplishment. Nothing but the lapse of time is necessary, with the spirit of improvement reigning in the governments of the union, and in many of our states, to exhibit a face of things, which shall eclipse, at least in usefulness, the proudest monuments of European enterprise. Let us hope, for the prosperity and glory of our country, that this will be verified. The state of North-Carolina is an integral member of a band of republics, united under the banner of one comprehensive system, alike republican in its character. Shall we, to whom are committed the best interests of this portion of the confederacy, remain insensible to the high privileges and distinctions that solicit us into exertion? The time will come when men will look around and inquire, what remains to be done for the good of our country? We envy our ancestors, they will say,

Page 163

who have achieved every thing in the field of public utility, while nothing is left us but to admire the monuments of their patriotism and public spirit. Youth of the state, are you willing to pass your lives in this ignoble inactivity, and with your minds made up to the restrictions, privations, and oppressions of which proof is daily given, in the vented distresses of a suffering community? Men of the east and the west, will you not at length unite in one great and persevering effort for your own relief, to establish the means of your success, for the prospects of your children, and for the welfare of the state? Every thing is yet to be done, and all is before you. Select at least one enterprise on which your combined exertions shall be directed, and doubt not that providence will reward so virtuous and honourable a purpose with rich reversionary privileges and gratifications. We would not be strenuous as to the particular object on which our choice should first attach itself. The education of the people, the erection of a penitentiary, by which punishments may be equitably proportioned to offences against the laws, the encouragement of manufactures among ourselves, the reformation of our prisons, the facilities of commerce, and the advancement of agriculture, are all before us, craving all the resources of the public mind, and such revenues as we can supply, for meliorating our condition as a people. Of all these objects, that which first, and most importunately demands our attention, is the removal of those obstructions to our trade, by which it is almost literally annihilated, and all the industry of our population is unavailing and hopeless.

        Happily, nature favours us in the only single plan in which we could hope to be united. She has given us a seaport on the middle of our coast. Its salubrity is unexceptionable and ascertained by time. Its deep, spacious, and well protected harbour; its open and direct communication

Page 164

with the ocean, for ships of three hundred tons; and its exemption from those changes to which other parts of our coast are known to be liable, all pronounce it equal to our most ardent wishes. The small canal by which it communicates with the navigable Nease, can be enlarged at discretion in a single season, not only for steam-boats, but for deeper vessels, by superadding to a little manual labour, the operations of the dredging machine, through the whole length of its sandy or muddy bed. A straight and central rail-way, of the cheapest and most durable timber upon the spot, over a level country of a hundred miles, will connect Newbern with Raleigh, and by annihilating the distance, almost convert that capital into a seaport. This part once completed, would, of itself, be a guaranty, by its revenue, for the extension of the work, till it shall reach the western extremities of the state. In its progress, it must pass through fourteen counties*.

        * These are Carteret, Craven, Lenoir, Greene, Wayne, Johnston, Wake, Chatham, Randolph, Davidson, Rowan, Iredell, Burke, and Buncombe.

Twenty-four other counties are so situated, that in comparison with their present distance from market, it is brought by a central rail-road, almost to the doors of some, while with respect to others, it will be only two or three days distant, instead of three, or four, or even six weeks, as it now is**.

        ** These 24 counties are, Pitt, Jones, Edgecombe, Duplin, Sampson, Nash, Franklin, Orange, Granville, Person, Caswell, Rockingham, Moore, Guilford, Stokes, Surry, Montgomery, Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, Wilkes, Ashe, Lincoln, Rutherford, Haywood.

        The whole of the north eastern counties are most deeply interested in such a rail-way. For by the union of the interior and upper trade of the state with their own, it is ensured that Beaufort must inevitably grow into a place of

Page 165

vast capital, incalculably more valuable and important to these counties than Norfolk can ever be. The inland trade alone, is enough to enlarge and elevate Beaufort to the rank of a commercial city. Much more then must the combination of Albemarle and Pamlico, together with all their waters, be attended with these important consequences*.

        * The North Eastern counties here alluded to, are Hyde, Tyrrel, Washington, Currituck, Camden, Pasquotank, Perquimons, Chowan, Gates, Hertford, Bertie, Martin, Northampton, Halifax, and Warren--15.

With respect to the south eastern part of the state, it must inevitably be aggrandized by such a change as this. It contains a wisdom and resources which will ever know how to secure to itself, by its natural advantages, and by the reciprocated aid of the whole state, so large a portion of commerce, both internal and external, as will transcend the most sanguine calculations its friends have ever anticipated.

        This great and important work, which holds out so much honour and interest to the present generation, and to the legislators who shall accomplish it, can probably be effected in six or seven years, by some such annual contribution as forty cents a man, added to the tolls upon the parts that shall be completed and continually annexed from year to year. Shall we then think this an invincible and hazardous undertaking, for one of the largest and most populous states in the union? Shall we not, with all these propitious circumstances beckoning us to the trial, at least proceed to the incipient steps of examining every thing by the skill of engineers, who by actual survey of the route, and estimate of the expense, may determine whether the enterprise is extravagant or not? The present season impressively illustrates the necessity of commencing some means of relief to our difficulties. Providence, it is true, may

Page 166

easily blast all the prospects of abundance now before our eyes throughout this extensive state. Should we, however, be favoured to the end, as we have been hitherto, the country will be full of grain and every species of agricultural productions. But of what value will all these be, beyond the necessaries of life, if to convey them to market is equivalent to scattering them along the road until they shall disappear, and after all our labour we must return home empty-handed? It is probable that the want of a rail-road to the sea, the present year only, will occasion a loss to the state of North-Carolina, on all kinds of transportation, or by a total prevention of it, of no less a sum than a million of dollars. Some may think less and others more, but all will admit that if five hundred thousand dollars would purchase a rail-road across our level country from Newbern to Raleigh, the loss we are to incur in a single year for the want of it, would be sufficient for its construction. And shall we resolve to persevere in such a system as this! Both our interest and our glory forbid it. When we go to the polls at the ensuing election, will it not be our warning voice to the men whom we choose, to commence without the delay of another year, some method of deliverance from the pressure under which we groan, while the abundant fruits of our industry are perishing on our hands, because a market is inaccessible? If no other means occur for our disenthralment, let us be assured that one expedient at least is in our power, and that the central rail-road will accomplish it.

July 21, 1828.

Page 167



        RAIL-WAYS, according to the ordinary implication of the term, are doubtless of English origin. This species of road was first thought of in the collieries of that country, in the counties of Northumberland and Durham, to facilitate transportation from the mine to the river, for extensive distribution*.

        * Wood and Tredgold on Rail-roads.

The distance between the two places would be a few miles only. A road must be prepared and maintained, and a proprietor of one of these mines would soon discover, that with waggons heavily loaded and constantly running, the ruts would become deep, the track miry, and great difficulty perpetually recurring to keep it in repair. It would appear extremely desirable to prevent this trouble, and ever returning expense, by setting regularly to work, and constructing at once, if possible, a road such that it should not be broken up, nor need repair in many years. It would cost a little more at first, but when once completed, all anxiety about it would be at an end, and the funds thus laid out being soon repaid, it would afterwards be an instrument of clear and continual profit. This would evidently reduce the price of coal to the people all over the country, and at the same time would be the means of vast advantages to the owner of the mine. And here we might stop to remark how obvious it is, that by such improvements injury is done to none, and all are benefitted; for every miner may avail
Page 168

himself of the same means, and derive the same advantages, while warmth and comfort are extended to the poorest people of the country.

        In constructing a road, the first expedient might possibly be to sink stones into it, or to place rails across to furnish an unyielding foundation. These, however, though covered with earth, would soon become exceeding rough, and the draught heavy. Upon such a road large loads could not be taken in, the wear of the carriage would be great, the horses would be harassed, and their sinews strained for want of a sure and regular footing; their muscles would be shattered and their strength broken down, by the incessant shocks and obstructions of the wheels. Different methods would occur, such as removing the ground completely, to make a firm foundation, cutting down sharp ridges, banking across ravines, and paving regularly with stones mutually fitted. But even in this case it would be found, that by rains and the frosts of winter, and the constant action of wheels, and iron hoofs, and cumbrous loads, the whole would be converted into confused masses of stones and mud, at least as bad, if not much worse, than if such a system had never been adopted. Men are ingenious when their interest is concerned, and necessity is the parent of invention. To a reflecting man, it would be evident, that if only lines of support could be provided for the wheels, it would not be difficult to make the track for the horse of such materials as not easily to be deranged. All that was necessary then, was to lay down two parallel lines of compact and enduring timber, on which flanged wheels might run, taking care to secure the timbers in their places upon sills resting on solid earth.

        Such was the first origin of rail-ways. "At the coalworks in the neighbourhood of Newcastle-upon-Tyne," says Wood, "the expenses of conveying the coals from

Page 169

the pits to the shipping places would be very great. Down to the year 1600, the only mode appears to have been by carts, on the ordinary roads; and in some instances by panniers on horseback."

From 1602 to 1649.

        "A record, in the books of one of the free companies in Newcastle, dated 1602, states, "that from tyme out of mynd yt hath been accustomed that all cole-waynes (coal carts) did usually carry and bring eight baulls (17 cwt.) of coles to all the staythes upon the river of Tyne; but of late several hath brought only, or scarce, seven baulls."

        "The cost of transporting so heavy an article as coal along the common roads, which may be supposed would not be of the best description, in carts containing seven or eight bolls, would operate very powerfully in accelerating the introduction of some improvement in the mode of conveyance to lessen the expense*."

        * One of the best works to which I can refer, is a "Practical Treatise on Rail-roads, and interior communication in general, with original experiments, and tables of the comparative value of canals and rail-roads. Illustrated by engravings. By Nicholas Wood, Colliery viewer, London, 1825."

In 1649, Gray tells us, "many thousand people are employed in this trade of coales. Many live by conveying them in waggons and waines to the river Tyne. Some south gentlemen hath upon great losse of benefit, come into this country to hazard their monies in coale pits. Master Beaumont, a gentleman of great ingenuity and rare parts, adventured in our mines with his thirty thousand pounds, who brought with him many rare engines not known then in those parts, as the art to boore with iron rodds, to try the deepnesse and thicknesse of the coale; rare engines to draw the water
Page 170

out of the pits, waggons with one horse to carry down coales from the pits to the staythes to the river*."

        ** Wood on rail-roads, pp. 34, 35.

        In the former of these passages the carriages are called "waynes," and the latter speaks both of "waynes and waggons," and these are said to be drawn by "one horse." Hence Wood thinks it probable that between the first and second dates, that is 1602 and 1649, the rail-way began to be used, especially as Beaumont brought along with him, not only a vast sum of money for those times, but many rare arts and engines.

From 1649 to 1767.

        In the life of Lord Keeper North, the rail-way is distinctly mentioned. "The manner of carriage is by laying rails of timber from the colliery to the river, exactly straight and parallel. And bulky carts are made with four rollers, (four wheels) fitting those rails, whereby the carriage is so easy, that one horse will draw down four or five chaldron of coals, and is an immense benefit to the coal merchants."

        In 1765, a description is given of a rail-way as then constructed to this effect: A road was traced six feet in breadth. It was then excavated to level the ground and to arrive at a proper basis for the road. Across the excavation were laid down pieces of oak, four, six, or eight inches square, and at the distance of two or three feet from each other. The pieces, it is said, need to be square at their extremities only. Upon these are laid down and fastened other pieces of wood in the direction of the road. These are sawed six or seven inches broad by five deep, and secured to the other pieces with pins of wood. They extend on each side of

Page 171

the road along its whole length. Commonly they are placed at four feet distance from each other, and form the interior breadth of the road*.

        * Jaa's Voyages Metallurgiques, quoted by the same writer.

        Originally, but little was done in reducing these roads to a level, or in contriving machinery for drawing the waggons up the hills, and letting them down with safety and a proper speed. For this last purpose, an instrument was used called a "convoy." It was an iron or wooden rod, acting as a lever, known to mechanicians as a lever of the second sort, turning at one end round a pin or fulcrum, by which it was secured to the side of the waggon between the wheels. From this lower extremity it ascended in a form somewhat curved over the hind wheel, and rested near its upper end in a hook, at the highest rear corner of the waggon body. Upon this lever next to the supporting pin or bolt, and towards the hind wheel, a piece of wood was fastened called the breast, which was shaped to the curvature of the wheel. Sometimes a convoy was provided on each side to act with greater power in commanding the movement of the waggon, and then the upper extremities were connected by a piece of wood reaching across between them, by means of which the attendant could act upon both at the same time. When the waggon was to descend a hill, the manager released the upper extremity of the convoy from the hook, and pressing the breast against the wheel, produced such a degree of friction, as to make the carriage descend with a proper motion. Sometimes the horse was unhitched from the front of the vehicle, and fastened by a breast chain behind it, so as to aid in retarding the descent. This whole process, however, was not a little dangerous. When the roads were wet, the wheels would

Page 172

lick up dirt from the rails, and cause them to become exceedingly slippery. The gravitating force of the waggon and its load down the steep declivity, would then set at defiance the utmost powers of the convoy the attendant was compelled to consult his own safety, the carriage was precipitated with an increasing velocity, "running amain," as it was common to say, killing horses, overturning and dashing in pieces every thing it encountered, and finally itself, with its contents broken and scattered in smoking fragments. By extending the convoy beyond the bolt at its lower end, and adding another breast to act upon the forewheel also, it was made more effectual in preventing these consequences. Still such accidents happened not unfrequently, as we are told, while these were the only methods of conducting waggon over unreduced hills*.

        * Jaa's Voyages Metallurgiques, quoted by the same writer.

        Because the wooden rails were apt to have their fibres shivered and damaged by the wheels, a second rail was added on the top, which as soon as it became materially injured, could be taken off and replaced by another with little trouble, and without weakening the sleepers by frequent boring for the purpose of pinning the new rails upon them. At length, instead of these second rails, iron bars began to be substituted, of sufficient breadth and thickness; and thus the wooden rail-way attained its perfection, both for durability and ease of draught.


        The next change was to make the rails of cast iron instead of wood. This was first done, we are informed, about 1767, "by way of experiment," at the iron works of Colebrook dale. But if such a trial was then made, they

Page 173

were probably not successfully applied until the year 1776, when Mr. Carr says they were first introduced as an invention of his own, at the Duke of Norfolk's colliery near Sheffield. That which is denominated the "plate rail," was the first*.

        * Wood, p. 45. Strickland, p. 25. Tredgold, pp. 26, 33.

The most approved rails of this sort are four feet long, four inches wide, and an inch thick. They meet at their ends in a strict joint, and are pinned to the support. They form a continuous flat surface for the wheels which are not flanged, but are prevented from passing off by an upright ledge or flange three inches high, along the edge of the rails, by which also the rail is greatly strengthened. Thus they resemble the corner post of a house wrought out of the solid timber. To fortify this rail still more, an additional comb or rib of iron projects underneath, perpendicularly downwards, growing deeper in the form of a curve, as it recedes from the sleepers on which its extremities rest.

        Shortly after the introduction of the plate rail, an iron rail of a different form was invented called the "edge rail." The breadth of the upper surface is about two inches and a half. After keeping this breadth a little way down, they gradually diminished to three quarters, tapering down to half an inch, and then swelling out to give strength to the lower edge. The depth is varied according to the distance from the supports, it being the greatest mid-way between these. The ends of the edge rails do not rest immediately upon the blocks of stone, but upon cast iron chairs, as they are styled, which are fastened down by pins driven through them into the blocks, and are so shaped with upright parallel sides as to receive the ends of the rails in an exact joint with one another, and confine them stedfastly in their places**.

        ** Idem.

Page 174

        Two inconveniences were experienced in cast iron rails; one from the fragility of that species of iron; the other from their shortness and frequency of joints, these rails being at the utmost not more than four feet in length. It was found that at every joint the block or sleeper was apt to change its position. If it acquired the least degree of obliquity, and did not retain its original level posture, an end of one rail would be elevated above the end of the adjacent rail, and a concussion or jolt must occur to the wheel in passing from one to the other. Attempts were made to prevent this by different forms given to the chair in which the rails rested upon the blocks.

        About the year 1805, trial was made by Mr. C. Nixon, of wrought iron rails, each piece being a bar from one to two inches square, and two feet long, connected by a lap joint, so that one pin fastened down two contiguous bars, by passing through both. "In October, 1826, Mr. John Birkinshaw, of the Bedlington iron works, obtained a patent for an improvement in the form of malleable iron rails. He made his rails similar in shape to the cast iron edge rail," giving to each a length of eighteen or twenty feet, and fastening them down upon supports at every three feet. In consequence of this, the joints were less frequent, the rail less liable to fracture, and a number of the blocks being bound together by one piece, were not so apt to change their original position. Whether the malleable rail is preferable to the cast, appears to be a question still unsettled. It is one which will be ultimately determined by experience, as all that is known in regard to the rail-way has already been. In 1817, Mr. Hawks, of Gatehead, attempted to combine the advantages of malleable and cast iron, by making the lower part of one sort, and the upper surface of the other. Cast iron not bearing as much flexure as wrought, without cracking, it was thought not to succeed

Page 175

well in practice. But Strickland is of opinion that greater perseverance and skill in forming these rails is all that is necessary to prove their superiority*.

        * Wood, pp. 61, 71. Strickland, p.26. Tredgold, p. 31.

        It was discovered in the use of the edge rail, which was at first made round or convex on the top, that it tended continually to wear "a rut or groove in the periphery of the wheels." To prevent this the top of the rails was flattened, and the rims of the wheels case-hardened. This is done in casting, by running the liquid iron against a cold cylindrical iron surface. The rim being thus suddenly cooled, a hardness is imparted to it, on which the file will not act, and which endures unaltered for many years.

        The account here given of the origin and progressive improvement of the rail-road, is a brief sketch in comparison with what it were easy to detail on this interesting subject. It presents, however, the most prominent circumstances of the history. The difficulties and trials through which it has advanced to its present perfection, might have been more fully and minutely displayed, and if any thing has occurred to the intelligent reader, as promising greater advantages, perhaps he would find, on larger inquiry, that the very expedients suggested to him by the nature of the subject, have been already put to the test, and dismissed as of little or no value. It was very desirable to exhibit many of the objects of which we have spoken, by figures representing them to the eye; but in our own part of the country these are not easily attainable. From the narrative we have given, derived from authorities entitled to our most perfect confidence, it is evident that the rail-way, if it has been unknown to any of us till recently, is far from being new in other parts of the world. It is recollected, that in one of our counties, during the present season, a speech

Page 176

was delivered to an assembly of the people, in which the orator felt himself sustained in asserting, that the rail-road was never heard of till it was mentioned by Carlton the last year! Such language as this needs no comment. Placed by the side of the facts which have been stated, it speaks volumes to such as listened with credence to one who, gratuitously assuming the office of a guide and counsellor, ought not to have been so very far wide of the capacities and qualifications necessary for such an office. There is rashness in undertaking to speak confidently on subjects on which we have taken no pains to be informed. One who will do this, is apt presently to find something in it to remind him of such tools as the proverb tell us "it is dangerous to handle." Doubtless there are many of us who have not had opportunity of information respecting the rail-way as an unexpensive method of internal improvement, yet preferable, especially in our southern country, to a canal, or even to a river not navigable by steam-boats through a large part of the year. It is no crime to be destitute of this information. But what are we to think of those who, while they are confessedly uninformed, shut themselves up, as a man would bar the doors and windows of his house against the light of the sun, and then heap upon it epithets of odium and reproach, as though they had looked into it with a most scrutinizing diligence, and completely ascertained every element of it to be baneful and ruinous to the country. The construction of a rail-way may be pregnant with the most speedy and incalculable benefits to the state, excluded as it now is from a moneyed market for its productions; it may be practicable, and cost ever so little in the form of a tax, and yet if its merits be not understood and estimated, we may be kept for ever, for the want of it, in a state of restriction and oppression. The subject is a

Page 177

safe one. It is happily so plain and intelligible in its nature, that it can be easily comprehended by every man in the community. The light will reach the people, whoever he may be that may place himself in its way.

        The manner of resistance to this subject by some of our citizens, must appear unpromising of success to their wishes. Is there a doubt of its possibility? We answer, let men of the proper professional knowledge be employed to reconnoitre the ground, and report all necessary information. Its friends are among the foremost to insist on this preliminary. Until these questions are decided, they would never consent to commence the work, nor pledge a single cent to it. No, say its opponents. We ask no questions, nor wait for any answers. Be it what it may, we shall stop our ears and shut our eyes to every proof of its being fraught with advantages to ourselves or the people. But, reply its advocates, even after a survey and estimate, many of us at least, are still not willing to proceed to an extensive work, without other evidence, which we deem of the utmost consequence; we mean the actual construction of such a work upon a small scale, for an actual trial both of the manner and the cost. We wish for ourselves as well as others, this fair opportunity of looking at the subject practically beforehand, that as far as possible we may determine with a sound discretion. Such an experiment, it has been thought, may well be made upon the mile of ground between Campbelton and Fayetteville. For the small sum which would probably be adequate, there is no work in the state which can compare with it in importance. It will contribute to the completion of a system of improvement with which the state is, and long has been, deeply and correctly connected both in its feelings and interests. This experiment we would rejoice to see going on at the same time with the survey, that if a larger enterprise shall be ultimately thought

Page 178

eligible, the benefits it will certainly ensure to the state, may suffer no unnecessary postponement. To all this secure mode of proceeding, opposers still say, no; it is internal improvement; it is dangerous; it is all in vain; the people neither can nor will do any thing, and with them we shall continue to insist, that no confidence is to be placed in it. But this is not all the security which its friends demand. Were it finally resolved to act upon an extensive plan for the relief and aggrandizement of the state, with every evidence in its behalf, they would make it a condition that it begin at a seaport, so that every mile as soon as finished, should be immediately of use, and that if at any time, as at the end of the first year, the people should pronounce its continuance improper, they might direct their agents to desist, believing that every man even then would cheerfully say, "as to the small sum which it has cost me personally, though I may derive no other advantage, the experiment is well worth it, without which a most important question could never have been determined."

        To this, too, the opposer replies, no! with emphatic reiteration. Let me remind him, then, of an event which we feel it pertinent to repeat, though to many it may be familiar. Before the naval battle of Salamis, between the Greeks and Persians*,

        * Four hundred and eighty years before Christ. Un. Hist. vol. v. p. 101.

Eurybiades, the Spartan, had been chosen admiral of the Grecian fleet. This was an arbitrary and ill-advised appointment by the states, to gratify the Lacedemonians, who had no knowledge in maritime affairs, while the Athenians, versed in ships, could have furnished many able sea-captains, and actually did supply a far greater portion of the fleet then engaged in the common cause, than all the rest of Greece beside. A consequence resulted such as may be easily supposed. When
Page 179

Eurybiades saw the enemy's ships approaching, he ordered the Grecian fleet to steer for the harbour, and the troops to join the army on land. Themistocles, the Athenian, vigorously opposed this as the very ruin of their cause. The Spartan commander was irritated, and in his impatience, raising his baton, was in the attitude of giving him a blow. Themistocles cried out in those noted words, "Ay, strike if you will, but HEAR!" If there be any to whom it gives uneasiness, that internal improvement should be so often obtruded on him; if the very sounds have become so obnoxious as almost irresistibly to excite his impatience, to every such man its friends would say, not we hope with a spirit to disturb him, but with a profound and full conviction of his highest interest, even though his staff were lifted over our heads, Ay, strike if you will, but hear.

Page 180

No. XIX.


        TREDGOLD informs us that rail-ways are of three sorts. The first is distinguished by the edge rail, the second by the plate rail. These have been already described, and some account was given of their origin and improvement to the present time. The edge rail was used first of all, and was made of wood, sometimes defended by straps or bars of iron, furnishing a hard and unyielding track for the wheels, and these were flanged to keep them upon their bearings.

        The first time the plate rail was used, it was made of cast iron, about the year 1776. The wheels were without flanges, these being cast upon the inner edges of the rails. The inconveniences to which they were subject, were the collection of dirt upon them, and the wearing of ruts into their surfaces. The remedy was found in returning to the edge rail, and making it of castings instead of wood, which again restored the flanges to the wheels. "Mr. W. Jessup, in 1789, formed the public rail-road at Loughborough, with this kind of rail."

        The third species of rail-road is Palmer's, or, as it is called by Palmer himself 'the single rail-way.' It consists of one rail only in a continued line, supported by posts planted firmly in the ground, and is fortified by a bar of rolled iron along its whole length upon the top. The carriage has only two wheels, one following the other. Each of these has a strong axletree of iron made inflexible by braces, and extending out on both sides. Upon these arms are suspended, what we may call two boxes or waggon bodies, as receptacles for goods. The receptacles

Page 181

being equally loaded, and hanging from the axletrees, it is impossible to overset, and the rims of the wheels are guttered or grooved to confine them on the track. The horse path is on one side of the rail, and a small one is sufficient. The animal is attached to the carriage by a tow rope of considerable length, the weight of which gives it more or less flexure, as in the case of a canal boat, and this prevents any sudden jerk upon the horse when his gait varies. For such a rail-road it is unnecessary to level the ground. The general height of the posts is two feet and a half, and they extend as far into the earth. Over an undulating surface they are made longer or shorter, so as to keep the rail level. The track for the wheels being elevated, is not liable to have dirt or gravel thrown upon it. The boxes in which the goods are carried may be disengaged from the wheels and transferred to boats or other conveyance, without taking out the articles. The steam-engine may be applied to it as to other rail-roads. A rail-way of this sort was constructed, and it was found to realize the proposed advantages in cheapness and efficacy. Mr. Palmer made experiments upon this and the edge rail-roads of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and ascertained that the same force of draught which would carry seventeen thousand pounds upon the rail-way of the ordinary construction, carried with equal ease and efficiency thirty-three thousand pounds upon the two wheeled carriage on a single rail*.

        * Palmer's "Description of a Rail-way, on a New Principle." Taylor, Lon. 2d ed. 1824.

        Tredgold, an engineer, and a writer of high authority on these subjects, is of opinion that "the single rail-road will be found by far superior to any other for the conveyance of the mails, and those light carriages of which speed

Page 182

is the principal object*."

        * Tredgold's Practical treatise, page 37, New-York edition, 1825.

It was recommended in 1826 in this country, by Mr. Mills, engineer and architect, in a letter addressed to the postmaster-general of the United States, as the quickest, safest, and least expensive method of conveying the mail, together with passengers, between Washington and New-Orleans**.

        ** See American Farmer, and the National Intelligencer of June 28, 1827.

        One other modification of the rail-road, by no means the least important, is worthy of the consideration of engineers and of the public, especially in these southern states. This also is recommended by Mr. Robert Mills, the same able and intelligent engineer just now mentioned. Instead of excavating the ground, and laying down sleepers, it is proposed to support the rails at some small distance, as a foot above the ground, by two lines of upright posts well planted in the earth. By the elevation of the rails they will last much longer, and durability may be given to the posts by a judicious choice of timber, and by seasoning and charring before setting up. This mode of constructing a wooden rail-road, Mr. Mills thinks, from a calculation made by him of comparative expenses, will in one line of rail-way, save fifteen hundred dollars a mile, beside the advantage of much longer duration***.

        *** For a particular account of this rail-way, see the papers last referred to, and a pamphlet entitled 'Three papers on rail-roads,' published by Rob. Mills, Eng. and Arch.

        It has been already remarked, that the kind of force first used in moving carts and waggons upon rail-roads, was that of horses by a direct draught. At first these roads, being made to convey coals from the pits to the rivers, the grounds were generally descending, and there

Page 183

was little occasion for overcoming acclivities or ascents. Afterwards when the rail-way began to be more extensively used, provision was necessary for surmounting hills. This could not well be done by horses only, for Wood tells us, if a rail-road ascend more than eight degrees and a quarter, this sort of tractive power can no longer be properly employed. If a road was to pass through a hilly country, such a course and such a height were chosen after a survey, as would secure the longest level distances attainable with the least expense. Hills of a moderate height were to be cut through, and such a compromise was to be made, that the dirt out of the hill being taken down into the valley, was to supply an embankment across it, thus reducing both to the general level of the road. This was the first mode of passing among hills, and in many instances it is more easy in practice than we are apt to imagine. At the bottom of the valley or ravine, an arch was built of stone to give vent to the water under the road, and such an arch is what engineers call a culvert. If a stream of water was to be crossed, a bridge must be erected, and this can be done with little more expense for a rail-way than for a common road.

        When a hill must be traversed of great extent and elevation, it became a question whether it was expedient to dig a hole through it upon the level of the road, sustaining the earth at the sides and above with walls and a continual arch, and such a passage was called a tunnel. This method has been often resorted to in making canals, and to them it may evidently become indispensible on account of water, or if not, it may be advisable, because of the greater expense of locking than tunnelling. But here rail-ways have incalculable advantages over canals. When the general level of the road arrives at the base or side of a high hill, or even a mountain, it is continued up the acclivity on

Page 184

the one side, and down the declivity on the other, forming two inclined planes. What is called a drum-wheel is stationed on the top. A strong rope passes from the top to the bottom of the ascending plane, resting on rollers at proper distances along the middle of the road, and fastened at one end to the drum, and at the other to the train of carriages. By means of a steam-engine, or by horses, or by water, if it be contiguous to the fall of a river, the rope is wound upon the drum, taking up the carriages at the rate of several miles an hour, and then if necessary, by unwinding the rope, letting them descend with the same speed on the other side. Such an engine, if it be carried by steam, is usually called a stationary steam-engine, to distinguish it from another which moves with the carriages on the level road.

        Sometimes declivities were used as self-acting plans for the descent of loaded carriages, and for the ascent of such as were returning empty. It was found that the gravitating force of the one was just sufficient to overpower that of the other, together with the friction of a grooved wheel at the top of the hill, about which the rope passed, and the friction of the rollers or sheeves disposed along the middle of the two roads to prevent the rope from dragging on the ground. This method, however, could not be adopted, where the transportation was not regular, so that there should be always a due supply of returning empty waggons to let down the loaded ones.

        I shall conclude this historical sketch by some account of the locomotive engine. It was first suggested with a view to an immediate trial in the year 1759 by Dr. Robinson, at that time a student in the University of Glasgow. Mr. Watt, eminent for the invention of the steam-engine, took out a patent for applying it to wheel carriages in 1784. The steam-engine itself, independently of a

Page 185

wheel carriage, was at that time very imperfect, and the public attention still continued for many years turned chiefly on its improvement. In 1802, Trevithick and Vivian devised and offered the plan of a carriage to be propelled by steam upon ordinary turnpike-roads. They were soon convinced that a rail-road was more proper, and in 1804 they tried one in Glamorganshire upon the Merthyr Tydvil rail-way in South Wales. The greater part of my readers are too little acquainted with the manner of the steam-engine to be benefitted by any description that could be given of this or any other of which we are to speak. This first engine drew after it upon the rail-road as many carriages as contained ten tons of bar iron, from a distance of nine miles, at the rate of five miles an hour*.

        * Wood's "Practical Treatise on Rail-roads," p. 127. Lon. 1825.

        The force employed to put a steam-carriage in motion, is applied to the wheels, and not in the manner of a draught. Were men in a waggon to lay hold upon the spokes, and with co-operating action cause the wheels to revolve, it would show the manner of moving a carriage by the connecting rods of the steam-engine which it bears along with it. It will readily occur to any one, that so many loaded waggons might be fastened to a steam-carriage in one train, that any attempt to set the carriage in motion in this way, would end in nothing more than making its wheels turn round, sliding upon the rails, without advancing an inch. This appears to have presented one of the greatest difficulties at first, and various expedients were resorted to for ensuring the progressive motion of the locomotive engine, with a heavy train of waggons behind it. The method adopted in 1811 by Blenkinsop, near Leeds, in Yorkshire, was to cast the rails for one side of the road

Page 186

with teeth on the outside, and to let the engine turn a cogwheel, whose teeth should work into the rack-rail. This would ensure the advance of the engine upon the rail-way, and cause it even to ascend acclivities. The clashing and jaring of the cogwheels in an engine of this construction have prevented it from being much used.

        In 1812, the Chapmans made an attempt upon the Hetton rail-road, near Newcastle, to ensure a progressive motion by means of a chain stretched along the whole length of the road, well secured at each end, and acting on a grooved wheel attached under the carriage and turned by the steam-engine. The action was so impeded by friction that it was abandoned.

        In 1813, Brunton, of Butterly iron works, very ingeniously contrived a method of making two jointed rods with feet to move behind the carriage like the lower limbs of a man. The mechanism and the action of the steam upon the connecting rods were such, that while one leg and foot were lifted and drawn forward, the other foot planted upon the road behind, was pushed backward, by the reaction propelled the carriage, and by an alternate movement of the two, its motion was maintained. "The machine being placed upon the rail-way, says Brunton, I found that with steam equal to forty or forty-five pounds pressure on the square inch, the machine was propelled with a power equal eight hundred and ninety-six pounds, (horizontally) at two miles and a half per hour, equal to six horses nearly."

        Passing by one other modification given to the mechanism of a locomotive engine, by which it was made to run upon eight wheels to spread the pressure of its great weight, we come to that form which is now deemed the most perfect. One of the changes to arrive at this was to transfer the action of the connecting rods from the cranks of cog-wheels,

Page 187

immediately to the wheels of the carriage. This was done by casting upon a spoke of each wheel when it is made, a projecting pin on the outside, of sufficient length and substance to sustain the force of the rod in turning the wheel. The pin being at the distance of a foot or more from the centre of the wheel, the part of the spoke between the pin and the nave acted as a crank upon the wheel itself. In these carriages we are to remember the wheels are all of the same size, revolve in the same time, and being fast upon the axletrees, turn with them. Two rods from the steam engine were connected with the hind wheels, and two with the fore, each wheel having a rod to give it motion. When the spokes of the forewheels upon which the rods acted were in a vertical or upright position, so that the steam could exert no force in turning the wheels, the spokes of the hindwheels upon which the rods acted were in a horizontal position, so as to give the lifting and depressing power of the steam the greatest effect in making the wheels revolve. This maintained the uniformity of motion much better than a single rod with the assistance of a fly-wheel. As the relative direction of the spokes of which we have just spoken might not be constantly preserved, another change was adopted to prevent the spokes of the forewheels with their connecting rods, and those of the hindwheels with theirs, from losing their perpendicularity to one another which was first given them. To accomplish this, two cogwheels, equal in size and number of teeth, were secured upon the middle of the axletrees, one upon each. A round these an endless chain, as it is called, was passed, so made with equal and open links, that the cogs of the wheels fell into the links of the chain, securing the simultaneous revolution of the wheels, and the same perpendicularity of the spokes and their connecting rods at one time as at another.

Page 188

        If in the description here attempted, I have failed to convey intelligible and satisfactory ideas to the reader, I hope it will be excused, from a wish to set before his view some of the peculiarities of an object so interesting and useful as the locomotive engine. I shall hope to compensate for this trial of his patience, by an account of some of the most noted rail-ways on which steam-engines are employed.

        One of these rail-roads connects the Middleton collieries with the town of Leeds, on the river Aire, which empties into the Humber. The steam-carriages running upon this rail-way, have a progressive motion ensured by a cogwheel working into the teeth of a rackrail, in a manner already described. "An engine of this kind," says Tredgold, "when connected with a train of thirty waggons, each with its load weighing more than three tons," and therefore in the whole more than ninety tons, "moved at the rate of about three miles and a quarter per hour*."

        * Tredgold, page 18.

        The Hetton rail-road is one of the most celebrated in England, both for the perfection of the road itself, and the excellent steam-engine now performing upon it. It is near Newcastle and Sunderland, the former of which is in Northumberland and the latter in Durham, these two counties being bounded and separated by the river Tyne. It is made with edge rails, both cast and malleable, four feet being the length of the one sort, and fifteen that of the other. The top of these rails is two inches and a half in breadth. The road is nearly eight miles in length, and the level of the collieries is eight hundred and twelve feet above that of the staiths or shipping places. A part of the descent is an inclined plane or down-hill, and the waggons

Page 189

are let down loaded, and drawn up empty by a fixed steam-engine at the top. The rest of the descent is distributed at the rate of less than sixteen inches to a mile. A locomotive engine, called by the people an "iron horse," runs upon the level part, and is of the very best and most improved construction, according to the patent of Losh and Stevenson. It carries a train of seventeen waggons, which with their loads amount to sixty-four tons. The waggon-wheels are two feet eleven inches in diameter, cast with ten spokes, the wrought iron axles being three inches in diameter, and revolving with the wheels, in fixed iron bushes. The engine is upon a carriage with wheels only two feet three inches in diameter, each having twelve spokes and weighing four hundred and twenty pounds. The axles of this carriage are three inches and a half in diameter, having cog-wheels secured in the middle of them, around which works an endless chain, to make the wheels turn exactly in the same time, so as to keep the spokes which serve as cranks in the forewheels at right angles to those which are used for the same purpose in the hindwheels. The boiler rests on four pistons moving in hollow cylinders, opening at top into the boiler, the pistons being secured on the upper ends of strong iron rods fastened at their lower ends on the axletrees, and supported by them. From their ingenious peculiarity they are called floating pistons. They are a most admirable invention of Losh and Stevenson, of Newcastle, by which the elastic force of the steam is made a sustaining spring for the boiler. The fire is supplied with fuel, and the boiler with water from a small carriage behind it called the "tender." The engine with its train of seventeen waggons and sixty-four tons, moves at the rate of three and a quarter to four miles an hour. The locomotive engine is easily managed, "and it either impels the train of waggons before it, or draws

Page 190

them behind, and the whole assemblage in motion forms a striking and interesting object."

        It would be easy to multiply accounts of rail-ways in Great Britain, on which horses furnish the only moving power. I have seen it stated in a work published some time ago, that the rail-roads of Great Britain, taken together, were equivalent in extent to two thousand miles. They are growing with an accelerated rapidity every year, and it is very certain that at present their collected sum is of a much greater length than this.

        The Stockton and Darlington rail-way is twenty-five miles from Stockton, on the Tees to the Wilton collieries on the Wear. In the distance of five miles and a quarter from the beginning of the road at the coal-pits, are two hills over which the waggons are passed by stationary steam-engines established on their summits. The first of these is called the Etherly ridge, the other Brusselton hill. From the last of these to Stockton the road is either nearly or strictly level twenty miles. On this level part a horse travels with four waggons in his train, these together with their loads weighing sixteen tons, at the rate of three miles an hour, and continuing to do this eight hours, or through the distance of twenty-four miles*.

        * Adamson's "Sketches of Information as to Rail-roads," p. 35. New castle, 1826.

But what is still more prodigious, "the same horse frequently makes a trip from Brusselton to Stockton with the waggons loaded, and back with them empty, a distance of forty miles in a day." The same gentleman informs us, "that in another part of the line, namely, the flat between the foot of Etherly ridge and that of Brusselton hill, a single horse draws double of the above load, or upwards of thirty tons, owing chiefly to
Page 191

the short distance, and the uniform and gradual descent." On this rail-road run two locomotive engines, each drawing after it from twenty to twenty-four waggons, "forming in all a mass of seventy-seven tons in the one case, and ninety-two in the other." Each engine carries this vast load continually five miles an hour, twenty miles forward, and returns with the empty waggons so as to perform the whole distance of forty miles in ten hours, including all delays for unloading and other purposes. Two such trips then could be completed in twenty-four hours, and the work of twelve or fourteen horses be done by the engine, though the horses were drawing upon the same rail-way.

        I shall conclude the present number by showing the result of a few facts just stated. They will show us once more the very great effects of the rail-road as a means of transportation. It has been said that a horse upon this Stockton and Darlington rail-way actually draws for his daily task more than fifteen tons of coals twenty miles. We know that a horse upon our roads, and in our manner draws six hundred pounds. A horse then upon the rail-way carries as large a load as fifty horses carry upon our common highways and in our waggons, for it takes fifty times six hundred pounds to make fifteen tons. But the locomotive engine performs us much at least as twelve horses when both are working upon the rail-road. The evident consequence is, that the engine does as much work in transportation as six hundred horses do upon ordinary roads, in the mode commonly practised by us in North Carolina. Now such an engine costs two thousand dollars, which is probably the price of one of our best stage coaches with the horses necessary to its travelling thirty miles forward and as much backward in the line. Can we need further proof how greatly the price of conveyance is reduced by the railway, both upon agricultural products, and the goods we

Page 192

procure from merchants in the moneyed market of the world? We renew the question then, is there a man in the country who will not insist upon an opportunity to pay such a sum as forty cents a year until such commercial privileges shall be secured?

September 4, 1828.

Page 193

No. XX.


        DIFFICULTIES are apt to present themselves on the subject of a rail-road: a subject of such vital importance to the rights of our people in an open commerce, that every perplexity should, if possible, be made to disappear, and every agitating doubt put to rest. It is our intention distinctly to mark some of these difficulties, and to remove the objections with which they embarrass the subject.

        It is sometimes asked, why, if we construct a rail-road, is it not better to make it of iron at once, instead of wood, which soon goes to decay, and then the expense must be renewed?

        To this two answers are to be given, which, even separately, or at least combined, we think must decide the question. First, then, in the most favourable circumstances, where iron is cheapest, and such works are done with the greatest advantage in the price of labour and skill of workmanship, a mile of iron rail-way costs ten thousand dollars. This we know upon the best authority. Strickland was sent to England by the "Pennsylvania Society for the promotion of Internal Improvement," on purpose to examine such works, to give exact descriptions, and to learn the cost of them. He calculates the expense of a mile of iron rail-way, the road being a single one, from authorities on which implicit reliance is to be placed. He is himself a civil engineer and architect, and he specifies all the particulars to be charged, in a manner perfectly satisfactory. According to him, such is not done in England for less than en thousand dollars a mile. In North-Carolina a mile of

Page 194

wooden rail-way can be made for three thousand dollars, with as much certainty and regularity as we can build houses, make waggons, or erect bridges. We have endeavoured to ascertain how long the heart of pine will last in the ground, and by experience, it will endure fifteen years at least. To be safe, however, we shall take a less number than this, and shall suppose it to continue sound twelve years. From the statements already made, the difference between the original cost of a mile of iron rail-way in England, and of wooden rail-way in North-Carolina, is seven thousand dollars. Had we the sum of ten thousand dollars in hand, for making a mile of rail-way, it is better to construct it of wood, for such a sum as three thousand dollars, and keep the remaining sum of seven thousand dollars at interest for twelve years. For simple interest at six per cent. in twelve years yields a sum of five thousand and forty dollars, of which three thousand only are necessary to renew the rail-way, leaving two thousand and forty dollars of profit. The interest then upon the difference of costs in the two roads, being a great deal more than is necessary for renewing the road, when the old one shall have gone to decay, it is evident that upon no principle of economy should we be justifiable in making it of iron. This is so plain, that it is presumed all will at once see the question decided by it in behalf of a wooden rail-road in preference to iron.

        We might have allowed a considerably larger sum than three thousand dollars for a mile of wooden rail-way, and yet, by the same method of calculation, we should find the argument to stand good. For instance, if we had allowed the rail-way of timber to cost four thousand dollars instead of three, still the interest of the difference between that and ten thousand, in twelve years, would be four thousand three hundred and twenty dollars, which is more than enough to replace the road at the end of the time.

Page 195

        We have made the supposition that the money was upon simple interest. But it would be perfectly easy to let it run upon compound interest, by turning the interest into principal from year to year, and the principal, as is well known, would double itself in less than twelve years. The result of this evidently is, that at the expiration of twelve years, we should have seven thousand dollars instead of five thousand and forty for renewing the rail-way, which would be enough to make two miles of such work instead of one.

        Had we taken fifteen or twenty years as the duration of the best heart of pine, which abounds through the first hundred miles from the sea, the interest, both simple and compound, upon the difference of cost in the wooden and iron rail-road, must be much greater. But in this, as in all past instances of calculation, which have ever been exhibited in these numbers, it has been our determination, and we take pleasure in reflecting that it has been so, to place them upon such principles as every man might see to be safe and unexceptionable.

        In Great Britain and other countries older than our own, no such reasons prevail in favour of wooden rail-ways. Forests do not abound as with us, and timber is a rare and expensive article. In such circumstances a true economy determines the question in behalf of iron, and that is the material of which their railways are constructed.

        2. Another reason concurring in the preference of wood to iorn is, that to a rail-way of the latter material, a fund must be provided at first too large for the ability of the people. Had it not appeared certain that rail-ways could be made in our state for less than ten thousand dollars a mile, no proposition ever would have been urged or sustained by the writer of these essays, to adopt this mode of internal improvement. For the want of such commercial channels as rivers, rail-ways and canals, our state is in a

Page 196

depressed and impoverished condition. This lays all very expensive methods of improvement under a complete interdict with us. It is because we can carry it on at first by means of the rail-way at so small a rate as three thousand dollars a mile, for so great a distance over a country almost level, that it is no longer doubtful whether we can bear the expense. The first hundred miles being completed upon terms so easy, become a labour-saving machine or a capital, to aid us in executing the rest without enlarging the rail-road fund raised annually by the people. This would be true though a mile of road should afterwards cost such a sum as six thousand dollars through the hilly country. It is surprising in the history of such business, how large an amount is accumulated in a year on a commercial thoroughfare, by a small toll upon the ton. The annual collections upon a hundred miles of the Erie canal at present, are more than two hundred thousand dollars. It is probable that upon the hundred miles next to Albany, at the lower end of the canal, the real proportion of the whole revenue is not less than two hundred and fifty thousand dollars per annum. There is no extravagance in the supposition, that the first hundred and forty miles from Raleigh to the sea, would, by the same rate of toll, amount to fifty, seventy, or one hundred thousand dollars a year.

        If we consider, then, the interest upon the difference of the cost, in making a rail-way of wood and of iron, it must be obvious, that an immense waste of funds would be incurred in the present situation of our country, were we to use the iron material instead of timber. But beside this, if a rail-way be not attainable upon any terms, except those of the iron structure, the prospect of opening to the people a free access to the commerce of the world by this method, must be relinquished as hopeless. Nor from all the views which we can take of this subject, in which we are

Page 197

so deeply interested, does it appear that any other means are practicable, by rendering any of our rivers navigable, or by digging canals, for extricating ourselves from the oppressive and ruinous restrictions that are galling us, and subduing the spirits of our people. Thus cramped and trammelled in every effort, and our enterprise repulsed by invincible obstructions that meet us at every point, how can it be otherwise than that our natural growth must be checked, our strength wither, and our stature dwindle into a feeble and mortifying inferiority? But happily we need not now abandon ourselves to this diminutive unimportance and this wretched despondency. It is certainly within our power, by an effort no greater than is necessary to give it the name of an enterprise, to open ourselves a free and ample passage to all the privileges of a commercial and flourishing state. If we place any value upon such privileges, could we ask them upon conditions more obvious and easy than such as are within our power? He who imagines or asserts them to be beyond our reach, has never computed them. If they are to be purchased at all, what is the price which every man will pronounce it reasonable for him to give? We ask not his opinion to be proportioned to the magnitude of the advantages to himself and the state. Let him but name such a sum that it shall not call up a blush to repeat it, and we will almost venture to affirm, and we sincerely believe, that it will be greater than is requisite for accomplishing the object.

        But what is the method to which many resort to maintain what we cannot but apprehend to be a preconceived opposition to every measure which can be presented to them in the form of an internal improvement, to every one at least, that has for its object the relief of the great body of the people from the privations and restrictions that oppress them? Every such plan must undoubtedly be framed upon

Page 198

an extended and comprehensive scale. No sooner is it exhibited to their consideration, than without an attempt to reduce their views of it to something definite and certain, that with correctness of judgment they may estimate its merits, they instantly fly to the suggestions of an averse mind and a vague imagination, speak largely of the immeasurable funds that would be necessary to carry it into effect, and resolutely escape from every attempt to expose the wild errors of their exaggerated and terrified and misshapen conceptions. It is to avoid such a mode as this of arriving at conclusions, that the subject of rail-ways in general, and a central rail-way in particular, has been examined so circumstantially, and explained so particularly, that an attentive mind cannot fail to comprehend it, and see both its usefulness and practicability, without a plea left that the fund necessary, can be attended with the least inconvenience to the people, or to the poorest individual in the country. If there be a man who looks into these things, who takes an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the subject, and who still goes abroad among the people, positively and confidently proclaiming that such a work will cost an immensity of money, who avails himself of the darkness and diffidence of the public mind, to make others believe that it is utterly impossible without taxing the people to an enormous and intolerable amount, is there any fair ground upon which such a man can assert to himself the attributes of candour in opinion, and of a sincere and active wish for the prosperity of the state? If there be a man who has an opportunity to know that North-Carolina has an excellent harbour upon the middle of her coast, situated almost exactly where she could wish it, if the Almighty should grant her a wish upon the subject; if he may know too that all which is necessary to raise this into a commercial city, is to direct upon it the trade of the

Page 199

state, now under a most miserable oppression for want of such a trade, can he smother such a truth, and go forth among the people and say that it is nothing but a fancy, when there is not an individual in the state, who with the opportunity of knowledge will deny the fact? If there be one among us who may know, that all that is necessary to direct upon this sea-port the commerce of fifteen counties lying round the waters of Albemarle and Pamlico, is to widen and deepen a canal already existing, the distance of two or three miles, so as to open it for steam-boats from all those counties, how can such a man with consistency still persist to keep back this most important and certain fact from his neighbours, and to speak of the difficulties of concentrating the commerce of that as well as other parts of the state upon such a sea-port, as though nature had not already done so large a part of the work to our hand?

        Again, if there be one to whom it is actually known or to whom it is perfectly easy to know, that the free commerce of the state with the whole world can be thrown open, and directed upon the same sea-port, by the construction of a rail-road, the first hundred miles of which shall cost less than twenty-seven hundred, or at the utmost, three thousand dollars a mile, and at so small a rate as forty cents a year upon each taxable individual throughout the state, how can this man continue to hold up the expense of such a work with the most exaggerating discouragement to the people, as though it were to be attended with a demand upon them for millions unknown, and of unlimited and endless taxation? It may be replied to all this, that from every thing which has ever been said upon the rail-road as a mode of internal improvement, no such evidence has ever appeared to him as is here supposed to prove its expediency. If there be those among us who, after taking an

Page 200

opportunity to look into the subject, continue to say that their information is yet unsatisfactory, or that it is from such a source that they cannot feel safe in relying upon it, it yet remains to inquire, how such persons, if any such there be, can persevere to dishearten the people from every attempt to obtain information by such methods and from such sources as shall be unquestionable?

        Will it be pretended by such men, that a mart of trade upon our coast, a concentration of the commerce of the state, and a relief from almost the whole expense of transportation, are too contemptible a subject to deserve their notice, or in their opinion the consideration of the people? Will they venture to declare openly that these are not objects of such magnitude and incalculable interest, that if there is the least prospect or probability of accomplishing them, the means ought to be applied with as little delay as possible for ascertaining that they are attainable, and upon what terms? If such are their views, let them openly avow them, and we shall be at no difficulty to estimate the interest they take in the welfare of the country, and in the prosperity of the people. The object before us is the most effectual means of elevating the state, by elevating every man in it to privileges which he does not now enjoy. It is the great body of the people whose interests are here immediately concerned. It is to open the channels of a free trade to themselves and their children. It is the just rights of the people of North Carolina, in an open trade, for which we plead, and we do not hesitate to say, that it is a cause which those who espouse it upon enlarged and enlightened principles will feel it a glory to sustain. It is not the cause of the rich and the able only. It is the poor man, and the man of small resources, who is to have the means of growth and property put in his power. The wealthy and the able can get along as things are now,

Page 201

through every difficulty, and too many of these are trying to make it be believed, that all is best as it is. But let any plain man look into this matter, and he will see, that were a canal or a rail-road from the sea to pass within a few miles of him, with a small waggon and one or two horses, he could in a few hours, with all the little articles he could collect together, have access to the market of the world. Then the men of wealth and ability would from year to year have a certain and regular market, and the extortioner would no longer have it in his power to exact unreasonable and ruinous prices from the poor, unfortunate, and distressed. Let the people then of all conditions, enter into this subject with a determination to probe it to the bottom. Let us not too easily listen to the prejudiced representations of men who meet us with nothing but round assertions and positive opinions. Let us be assured that there are multitudes of us, permitting ourselves to be too much influenced and overawed by such imposing practices, who are better qualified to understand and resolve correctly upon the subject for ourselves, than many who, without reasons pertinent to the case, and often for such as are altogether frivolous, assume to be the guides and instructors of public opinion.

Sept. 12, 1828.

Page 202

No. XXI.


        WHAT! says the opposer of internal improvement, believing himself impregnably intrenched with the plea of being the privileged advocate of the poor--does one who urges a tax upon us to make a rail-road, pretend to occupy such ground as this? Yes, we reply: it has been one of its highest recommendations from the beginning, that it will eminently operate for the relief and permanent benefit of the poorer part of the community. If there be any peculiar excellence by which it is distinguished, it is this: and if there be any thing strange in regard to this circumstance, it is not that such is the truth, but that it should need to be proved. A central rail-road is the common benefactor of all, but it is especially the poor man's friend. To this view of the subject we solicit a faithful attention, well assured that all which is necessary to produce conviction, is a consideration of the plainest effects of a rail-way in the transaction of business. To every well-disposed man, it cannot but be interesting to see its powerful efficacy in extricating the necessitous and helpless from their embarrassments. And when the man who has withstood this measure, shall clearly discover that it must secure such advantages to the poor, otherwise unattainable, we shall hope that he will no longer exert himself in the ungrateful task of perpetuating their oppression.

        Who is it then, situated as we now are, that is able to go to market with his productions? That the poor man cannot, is indisputable. Through such distances, and on such roads as must now be travelled, the poor man is under an

Page 203

absolute interdict. His exclusion from the privileges enjoyed by his richer neighbour, is complete and undeniable. Not a few of our abler farmers will confess, that the expenses and obstacles amount to an almost total privation of a distant and open market, even to themselves. The rich man has the advantage of the market at home and the market abroad. And if it be now rarely worth while for him to go into a distant market with any thing but cotton and tobacco, it is manifestly the want of cheap conveyance by a rail-road that makes it so. The poor man can go into the narrow market of his own neighbourhood only. This he does, with scarcely the least prospect of present payment, or of punctuality at the time when payment is promised, or of even selling at all. He may ride about, it is true, on the only horse which he owns, within the small range of a few miles, and hunt for a purchaser, but he will probably find that his more substantial neighbour has been there already, and forestalled him, or left nothing but the vilest prices for him to take. Admit that he has enough to spare from the necessities of his family and his little stock to fill a waggon for a distant market, so expensive a vehicle he cannot own, nor can he afford to purchase or keep the four or five horses required for its use. If he cannot sell at home he cannot sell at all. We are a nation of agriculturists, and what sort of a market must that be, where the only prospect of farmers is to sell to one another? The rich and strong-handed alone has any chance in such circumstances. He only can support such an establishment as is necessary for the transportation of his products, far or near, to the best market in the country. Were there a rail-road through the middle of the state, this distinction of opportunities would instantly cease for ever. Such an open thoroughfare reducing the expense of carriage to almost nothing, would bring that market within the poor man's ability, which can

Page 204

now be reached by the owner of a large property, and by him only.

        It is common enough for one of these richer people, who has a waggon and a plenty of horses, and good houses and barns, and slaves too, and sheep and cattle, sometimes a blacksmith and shop, a mill, a machine, nay, even a store of goods, and from five hundred to a thousand acres of land, to be heard enlarging in terms of complaint and distress, and especially of outcry against the rich: so that if you did not know the truth, your compassion would be roused almost to do him charity, as though he were among the poorest and most suffering part of the community. Look at his stock on hand, and his immediate prospects of crops and flocks, and provisions and provender, and you see no such evidences of impending penury and ruin, as had been exhibited by himself with such affecting vividness and ability. Is such a one as this to be counted among the poor? To reconcile others to admit him into their ranks, he will probably bring into view a few men who are distinguished here and there for vast opulence and great annual income. In exaggerated terms easily applied to the imaginaion of his hearers, he will speak of the overflowing thousands, by which some are placed beyond the reach of necessity or labour. And when he has coloured the picture at discretion, the poverty of others, and of himself too, who has happened not to hold property upon so large a scale, must of course be conspicuous by the contrast. But is not this evidently to blind the eyes of men, and it may be to blind his own too, with respect to the true merits of such a question as that of a central rail-road, and its commercial opportunities? If there be other men richer than himself, it is not the less certain that he is rich, and that in a most important sense, in comparison with another class constituting no small portion of the people, who enjoy not

Page 205

the privileges of an open and unlimited market, while he does.

        We say nothing of the motives by which men may be actuated, for thus confounding themselves with others who are really and eminently contending with the embarrassments of poverty. Some may possibly have a vanity to gratify in professing to be of this humbler order of the people. Others may be actuated by a belief that they are really poor, for it is not easy to persuade any one that his circumstances are even tolerable, in comparison with such as appear to him within the limits of a reasonable wish. Though he possessed double or triple the property he now holds, he would undoubtedly still be poor, in comparison with the high standards to which he resorts to convince others of his claims. Were we to judge of wealth by the desires of men, the rich would be reduced to a very small number; if indeed we could then find a rich man in the world; and multitudes would be in abject poverty, whom every one but themselves would pronounce to be rich. This mixture of the richer orders of agriculturists with the really poor, has great and pernicious effects in misguiding legislation. It prevents the wants and distresses of the poor from being distinctly known and represented, and so long as this is the case, it is vain to hope that appropriate and effectual remedies will be applied for their relief. Let the poor man consider this distinction, and let him beware how he consents, by flattery or bold and imposing assertion, to have his interests determined by a confusion of his difficulties and necessities with those of his richer neighbours. His proper and substantial interests are often seen in a complete distinction from families in possession of larger property and privileges, though these families may not rank with a few men of immense wealth scattered here and there through

Page 206

the state, whose income may amount to some thousands in a year.

        To see this distinction of interests between the richer and poorer parts of the people, we need not look further than to a central rail-road for a striking illustration. This is a provision in which the poor man is deeply and peculiarly concerned. The want of it bears with particular hardship upon him. The rich man with his waggon and horses, who can send or go to the best market, distant or near, can do without it, and rarely feels the extremities of distress. To be without the rail-road, is to the poor to be shut out from every opportunity, except selling for such prices as he is forced to take in the little circle of his immediate neighbourhood. Is no disadvantage understood and severely felt by the farmer, when he is obliged to sell upon his own premises, subject to the drawback of conveyance by another? We know that men sell in this manner only when compelled by necessity. If the poor man disposes of his crop at the distance of a few miles, he must pay no small proportion of the little pittance he can get for it in so restricted a market, to his richer neighbour for transporting it to the place of delivery. The poor man has no slaves, but he has a family of children. These must be fed and clothed, and they can give him but little aid. He has no blacksmith, and he must go to his richer neighbour to shoe his horse, supply his ploughs, and keep his implements in repair. The rich man may do the work for him if he pleases, but the poor man must have it done, or he is in immediate distress. The difference between choice and necessity is better understood by feeling than description. The poor man has no mill, and his toll replenishes the garner of the rich. He has no machine, and he must share his cotton and wool with the substantial farmer who can

Page 207

keep one. The poor man has no merchandise, and for his coffee, sugar, salt, iron, or any other article which he cannot produce, he must go to the rich, and both by his necessities and in his most stinted enjoyments, must swell the profits of the other, who can send off at discretion, into a distant market to obtain supplies, both for himself and his hapless neighbour, upon such terms doubtless as shall operate both ways to his own advantage. The poor man's crop is cut short by an unfavourable season. Again, he must cast himself without money, or the means of procuring it, upon the rich, who insults him perhaps with the plea, that he also is poor, and cannot afford to take any but the very highest prices, especially on credit, though his cribs are not lacking in corn, and his stacks and barns are strutted with provisions both for man and beast. The poor man owns a horse or two to work his little farm, and a few animals essential to the support of his family. One dies, and the loss is felt as a heavy dispensation of providence. He makes the best bargain he can, for he cannot do without another. The time of payment arrives; after a tormenting dread of the consequences, the debt falls upon him unprepared to meet its force, and if he escapes utter ruin, it is not without many a writhing struggle and keen anguish, in which his family have had their full share of scorching misery.

        But a more propitious season occurs, and the poor man's sweat and single-handed toils are rewarded with supplies more than sufficient for his necessities. What must he do? He cannot go into a distant market, sell for the best prices, and get ready payment in money, and other articles laid in upon the most favourable terms. If he cannot sell at home, he has no other prospect. If he cannot sell at a liberal price, he must sell for such as he can get. If he cannot obtain cash, he must be contented with a note due

Page 208

some months hence. The time of payment expires, and six months after that he may realize his money according to regular process of law. Possibly after all this loss of time and harassing litigation, in which his neighbour has eyed him as an enemy who has proclaimed war upon him, and after having been almost inextricably straitened in his circumstances for want of punctuality in the debtor, he suddenly learns that the latter is bankrupt, or that he has been seen on the road to the western country, whither he is hieing with all speed, to enjoy the privilege of sending his productions into the market of the world by steam-boats, or rail-roads, or other internal improvements, that he may not be again under the necessity of running in debt, or at least that he may have better means of making good his payments. The poor man must then find his resource in the surety, if he was so fortunate as to ask one, or another was so hapless as to lend his hand and seal. Perhaps this is the last dissolving blow to the prospects of the security also, and he follows his principal if he can, in quest of the same privileges.

        This account, highly wrought as it may appear, is no exaggeration. It is but what is taking place in every part of our state. Its object is to show the difference between the rich man and the poor. Wherever the farmer in buying and selling is confined to his own neighbourhood, not only is he actually poor, but in all his transactions he has to conflict with difficulties next to invincible, before he can emerge into that substantial strength and independence which distinguish his richer neighbour. It is evident, that those land-holders are comparatively wealthy, whose establishment and property have become so extensive, that they can avail themselves when they please of the privilege of carrying for themselves or others into the market of the world, and thus have command of advantages which

Page 209

the poor man never can enjoy. Let a central rail-way be provided, for which the poor, as well as the rich, pays his forty cent a year until it is completed, and these hateful and oppressive distinctions are abolished for ever. That this will be verified, will be more fully illustrated and proved in the next Number.

Page 210



        WE have already shown the very great difference which is commonly and almost necessarily to be understood between the poor man and the richer farmer who has a plenty of land, the means of cultivating it, and of producing crops more or less extensive beyond the necessities of his family and stock, with the instrumentality in waggon and horses to enable him to choose his market at home or abroad, and dispose of every thing he can spare upon the very best terms. We would not be understood to include every individual in the country who is the owner of a waggon and team. Doubtless there are numbers of such who have little else, and who live almost exclusively by being carriers for others. Men of this description, though they are comparatively poor, will probably be enemies to a rail-road, because they will apprehend its immediate interference with their business, and that it will put an end to their profits as waggoners, on which they chiefly depend. Even these men, however, are egregiously mistaken, if they imagine that such a rail-road will be at all detrimental to them. Such capital as they possess, would be far more productive, regular, and certain, if employed for the same purposes on a rail-way.

        With respect to the richer class of farmers, what are the terms in which one of them who resists internal improvement, would decry a central rail-road? "There are seasons,

Page 211

he will tell us, when it is of no consequence to a farmer to be at home. Little can be done by himself or his horses, which must be supported, or by his waggon, which he is obliged to keep. At such a time he can load with flour or other articles, put in four or five horses, and go off to Petersburg, Newbern, Fayetteville, Charleston, or elsewhere, and dispose of his productions on the best terms of those markets. In this manner he can do well enough without rail-roads or canals. He is a poor man. He drives his own waggon, and has no pretensions to be a gentleman. If rich people want better roads, let them make them for themselves. For his part he has no notion of being taxed, or that his neighbours, who are poor as well as himself, shall be taxed to gratify the rich and answer their purposes."

        In this speech, which is far from new in the ears of the people, is embodied as copious a collection of error as can well be condensed within so small a compass. In the first place, it is not true that there are seasons when it can make no difference to the farmer, whether himself, his horses, and his waggon are working at home or abroad. The farmer who cannot find work upon his plantation all the year round, or who really thinks that he can do as well upon his farm without all the labour here implied, as he can with it, only shows not that what he says is true, but that he does not understand his business. It is useless to argue upon such a subject. The assertion here made about the sameness of result to the faithful, systematic, and industrious farmer, is contradictory to common sense. Need we to review the work, both in quantity and kind to evince this? Grounds are to be broken up, fences provided or repaired, new lands opened, the timber hauled away, manure collected from the woods, and from every quarter, that the old grounds may produce twice or thrice as much, meadows improved, the

Page 212

implements of husbandry renewed and put in readiness, hedges trimmed, land put in the best condition for the ensuing crops, ditches opened, the people superintended, so that time and work may not be wasted nor misdirected, beside other nameless and numberless operations for which a good and efficient farmer will not fail to provide. In vain will that man pretend to be an effectnal agriculturist, who does not know and act upon the maxim, that a farmer's work is never done. Would a wise people make such a manager as this man professes himself, the model of their farmers generally? And would it not be an advantage to such a man's business and prosperity, to employ the time and labour of so many days or weeks at home, and send his productions to market at a dollar a ton, instead of a dollar a hundred, upon every hundred miles?

        2. Another essential error in this popular address is, that the construction of a rail-road must incur heavy taxation. A rail-road through the distance from Newbern to Raleigh, over a level country, covered as it is with the proper timber, can be accomplished in three years, if not in less time, provided each taxable poll pays forty cents annually. To this add forty miles of steam-boat navigation to the harbour of Beaufort, and in three years we shall have one hundred and forty miles of conveyance upon the rail-way, and by steam-boats, from the sea-coast into the interior. In three years more, the same tolls, with the tax upon the finished part, would extend the like conveyance nearly, if not entirely, to the mountains*.

        * See Number XIII. of this series.

This is an asseveration not without proof. To reject and contradict without evidence, is to be carrid away ourselves, and to delude others with nothing but theory and imagination.

Page 213

        3. It is most erroneously implied by our orator, that in this mode of marketing, with which he professes to be contented, his profits are as great as they would be upon a rail-road; or at least that the difference is too small to deserve consideration. The fallacy of this becomes exposed by a case which all can understand. The price of carrying a hundred weight from the vicinity of Raleigh to Newbern is a dollar. A load of ten barrels of flour at this rate costs for the conveyance twenty dollars. By the rail-road the carriage of the same load would at the utmost be two dollars. In every such load, then, eighteen dollars is saved to the farmer. By the annual payment of forty cents, the amount in three years is a dollar and twenty cents. Is it not evident that in the carriage of the first load of ten barrels of flour, the farmer gains sixteen dollars and eighty cents, by having paid one dollar and twenty cents? It is not true, then, that to the planter the advantage is no greater of transportation by the rail-road, than by the present method. As soon as the road is finished, the difference in his favour is eighteen dollars upon every load of flour in a hundred miles, and this is his standing gain every time he sends one to market.

        4. It is further asserted, in very plain, though we may not say in very handsome or liberal terms, in this popular speech, that the rail-road is almost totally, if not wholly, to gratify a certain class of men, whom the orator holds up before his own suspicions and the imaginations of the people, as licensed objects of odium and reproach, for no better reason that we can see, but that they are wealthy, or that they follow what are called the liberal professions, and are not farmers. What particular interest such men can have in opening the market of the world upon the easiest and cheapest terms to all the people of the state, it would, we should think, require the insight of a Daniel to

Page 214

divine. With the facilities of carrying to market, men of vast wealth and income can certainly have but little concern. They can always get along without rail-roads or canals, if the great body of the people can bear the heavy and perpetual losses consequent upon the want of such unexpensive modes of conveyance. Let no man be deluded and alarmed with such groundless fancies, discreditable jealousies, and gratuitous fears, as are here urged upon him. The rail-road will unquestionably be beneficial to men of all conditions, not excepting those of the greatest funds, who will probably have least to do with it; but if there be a difference in favour of any, it will, as it should, operate most eminently for the poorest farmers, as a class, throughout the state.

        5. We might enlarge much upon the errors of this address, for not one of its assertions will bear the test of examination; but we shall hasten to one other, and it is the last we shall notice. It is openly insisted by the speaker, that himself is poor, that in this respect he is upon a footing with the poorest people of the country, has common interests with them, and is the natural and proper guardian of their safety and privileges. It is somewhat strange, however, that this declaration should be instantly contradicted by the one who makes it; and it is still more strange, if possible, that he should continue to be credited upon his first assertion, notwithstanding the contradiction. This claim to be classed in the ranks of the poor, is invalidated by the very exposition which he gives to show the uselessness of a common rail-way through the state. Can any thing be more evident, than that it is the farmer of no small property and substance who can talk with so much ease of choosing times at his own discretion, when he can be absent from home for ten days, or even for three, four, or five weeks together? It is not the poor man, but the richer

Page 215

sort only, who "can put four or five horses into his waggon, load with flour or other articles, and go off to Petersburg, Newbern, Fayetteville, Charleston, or elsewhere, and dispose of them on the best terms of these markets." It is no great wonder to hear one who can do this boast still further, that for his part he "can do well enough without either rail-roads or canals." Doubtless if he has such advantages as these he may get along without rail-ways. Not only so, but he can go on to become richer than he is; but let him remember that he himself has done little less than denied in terms that he is poor. Nor with the property and feelings which he has is he the true friend or proper representative of the poor. It is the very one who is unable to do the things so much in his power, who is really of that class. And it is only a flattering and deceptious misapplication of names, to call himself poor, and then to assert, for the assertion is obviously implied, that all others are as well off without the rail-road as himself. Here is a most important and striking distinction between the rich and the poor, when the subject of a central rail-way is under consideration. What is the great object of such a measure? It is to throw open the market of the world alike to all. It is to prevent it from being any longer said, "here is a farmer who is able when he pleases to go into that market; but there is a poor man who is totally shut out from it and all its privileges. Here is a wide, a shameful, and oppressive distinction, to which the poor man, if he can help it, ought never to submit. It is a distinction which, whoever shall consider it, will be seen to involve the greatest consequences. It implies so much of present possessions and future opportunities, that itself is enough to mark off the poor man, and decidedly to show his inferiority in property and power to the rich. And with so glaring a truth as this staring us in the face, shall one of these farmers of the

Page 216

richer class be heard with patience and credit by the poor, while he almost insults him with the palpable contradiction, that he too is poor, being a waggoner and no gentleman, but that he can do very well without a rail-road, because with his waggon and horses he can travel off with a load at any time to the best market in the country, and get the highest prices that are going? It is enough, we should think, for a man to be poor, without having such privileges set up conspicuously before his view, as though they were to be his consolation, instead of what they must be, only the sad memorials of the poverty which he now suffers, and to which he is consigned by the want of them, almost beyond the hope or possibility of deliverance. Let the poor man ask, what benefit or alleviation the enjoyment of such advantages by his richer neighbour offers to him, and we presume it would puzzle the orator to find a satisfactory reply. No, sir, he might continue, when you tell me that you are a poor man as well as myself, and would have me infer that because a rail-road is unnecessary to you, it is equally so to me, I can see the difference between us. It is the very difference which marks the poverty of my circumstances. It is this which makes it so very hard, if not impossible for me to struggle above the disadvantages that sink me with an irresistible and disheartening pressure. This disparity sufficiently shows you to be comparatively rich both in possessions and resources, while I am encompassed by necessity, and driven back from all hopes of enlargement by the straitening traffick, the pitiful prices, and the vexatious and expensive delays of bargaining and collecting payment in a home market. Tell me no more that if I am poor, you are so likewise, and that we ought to make a common cause against rail-roads and all sorts of internal improvement. A central rail-road throws open to all the universal market, and places all upon a proper level.

Page 217

If you are of opinion that you can do without it, to me it offers itself as my only relief. So far as my suffrage can promote its commencement and prosecution, it shall be steadily and heartily given to an object in which are bound up not only my own prospects, but as I believe the prospects and prosperity of the country.

        That this is a correct conclusion, will obviously appear from a brief exposition which we shall give before closing this number. Let us then suppose the central rail-way actually to exist, and let us see how the poor are especially affected by it. The whole distance from the sea to the mountains is little less than annihilated. As to the cost of transportation, it is so much diminished by ten tons to a horse, or eighty tons to a steam-carriage, that this too may be almost wholly disregarded. It is reduced to little or nothing. It is no extravagance to say, that through the whole extent of this road, the market, to the one who arrives at it, is but little different from that of any commercial seaport, in the prices both of exports and imports. Mercantile establishments spring up separately, or in villages and towns, wherever farmers are likely to be accommodated with trade, and sales and purchases are made nearly on the same terms as in Newbern, Norfolk, or Charleston, and with only the slight difference of the transport by sea, from the prices of New-York or Philadelphia. These mercantile establishments are not confined to the rail-road itself. They extend out into the country on both sides of it, to the distance of twenty, thirty, and forty miles. They open nearly the same opportunities to the people every where. In all these cases merchants reduce prices to the lowest possible, to attract trade, to rival one another, and to prevent the farmer, if he lives at such distances, from the necessity of going to it with his produce. This places business upon its proper footing. The farmer can now direct

Page 218

all his time and ability exclusively upon his own profession. The merchant strives to accommodate the farmer in the management of his also. And the carrier will convey every thing with the greatest advantage to both. This is opening the whole market of the world to the whole people. Other rail-roads presently branch off from the main artery. Every one that is made furnishes revenue by a small toll for extending and multiplying such branches, and these give a quick and energetic circulation of wealth to the utmost extremities. It is like the general post-office establishment of the United States; it supports and enlarges itself without any direct tax upon the people. Nay, it easily becomes a source of revenue to the state, and diminishes the taxes. In such a state of things, all distinctions are instantly abolished between the poor and the rich in the opportunities of trade. The able and wealthy farmer is immensely benefited in profiting by all the difference between the old expensive method of transportation and the new; but the poor man can now enjoy the same privileges as the rich. Now he can gather up all the little articles he has to spare, the butter, cheese, potatoes, wheat, corn, flaxseed, lard, every product of his own industry and that of his family, pack them neatly together, and in a few miles, in fine weather, and with a light heart, carry them into a market literally ten times better than he could by the old method, though he has all the means of waggons and horses possessed by the rich. Now even the poor and helpless widow, left to contend with all the difficulties and anxieties of a numerous family, and who is able to cultivate a few acres of ground, can place her orphan boy upon the back of a horse with two or three bushels of grain, or whatever she can spare, and in a few hours he is in as good a market for prices, or for payment in cash or goods, as the richest landholder. No matter if she is at a distance

Page 219

from the rail-road. To be any where upon that is nearly as well as to be at Newbern, and even at the utmost possible removal of forty or fifty miles from it, by the enterprise and emulation of merchants in her own vicinity, the difference for carriage becomes altogether trivial. Now no longer are needed these huge expensive waggons, and powerful teams, the earth groaning under their tread, and the stunning noise of the bells swelling the owner's bosom with exultation and pride over others less favoured than himself, while he carries off the fruits of his poor neighbour's toil, purchased upon the most pinching prices in a home market, that he may enrich himself with their profits in the market abroad. Now a cart, or a waggon light enough for one or two horses is sufficient. Upon one of these, the lithe and buxom daughter of the family, the rose in her cheek, the cherry on her lip, and the beam of bright prospects in her eye, with her spirited little urchin of a brother by her side, can enjoy the interests of purchases from the merchants upon far better terms than the most practised shopman may hope to effect. Now the man who has a few sheep, or animals of any kind to spare from his flock, can save the expense of transportation, make their own legs their carriers, and have all the advantages of the first and highest sales, as well as the owner of larger capital, who is able to buy up hundreds, and drive them into distant parts of the country, and into other states. Now money flows into the country by free and open channels. It is long since the people of North Carolina have been cheered by the sight of the precious metals: now silver and gold become as familiar as in our northern states, and in other parts of the globe. A new spirit of life is felt, when all were benumbed and torpid before in inaction and listless indifference. A close and diligent application to business is no longer burdensome and hateful. It is animated

Page 220

with an intent and quickening alacrity, by the stimulating motives of opportunity and interest, and the universal energies that reign in the bosoms of the people. The rich farmer improves his larger capital by well chosen means adapted to the peculiarity of his circumstances, and to his ingenuity and exertion a speedy and certain return is assured by the common wants of men, and by the mutual and unobstructed interchanges of commercial accommodation. All that numerous class of our citizens who have been too poor and weak-handed to surmount the expenses and difficulties which nature had originally thrown in their way, feel the impulses of instant profit alike with the rich, and it is exactly proportioned to the means which they can bring into action. Every man avails himself when he knows it is best for him of the opportunities to dispose of all that is supernumerary to his domestic purposes, and the whole year is alive with plans of diligence originated and prompted forward by privileges which all equally enjoy.

Page 221



        AGREEABLY to previous notice, a number of citizens of the counties of Chatham, Randolph, Guilford, and Orange, assembled this day at William Albright's, in Chatham county, for the purpose of considering and adopting such measures as to them should seem best calculated to obtain for the people of this state the benefits of a central rail-road. On motion, James Mebane, Esq. of Orange, was called to the chair, and Dennis Heartt, of the same county, appointed secretary. Upwards of two hundred persons were present.

        The causes of the failures in our former attempts at internal improvements were explained in an address deducing lessons to impress upon the minds of his hearers the importance of concentrating the whole force of the state upon one central effort, clearly demonstrating the great superiority of rail-roads over all other kinds of improvement, particularly in this state, as also its beneficial effects in ministering to the convenience and prosperity of the citizens of the state, its cost, its practicability, and its easy accomplishment.

        On motion, it was

        Resolved, That a committee be appointed to prepare an Address to the citizens of North-Carolina, on the importance and necessity of improving the state by the construction of a Central Rail-Road.

Page 222

        The committee, after having retired for a short time, reported the following



        A number of inhabitants of Chatham, Randolph, and Orange, and some from Guilford, having assembled for the special purpose of comparing our views respecting the expediency of a central rail-road, first from some seaport to the capital of the state, and then by a middle course to its western extremity, solicit your attention while we explain such considerations as have presented themselves upon the subject. It is ever to be estimated the first and dearest privilege we enjoy as a free people in connection with our fellow-citizens, that by the essential principles of our government every plan for promoting our happiness and prosperity must be exclusively our own both in choice and execution. In the exercise of this inestimable privilege, all of us have been long conversant with its proper methods. We well know the necessity of mutual deference, of a spirit of compromise, dispassionate forbearance, and a skilful and economical efficiency in all that relates to public expenditure.

        It is an impression deeply and generally felt throughout our state, that we are subject to embarrassments and disadvantages of no ordinary character and magnitude. These have been long growing upon us. And there is substantial reason to apprehend, that unless some great change can be effected competent to control and reverse our present course, we must still painfully descend, how long we know not, to lower points of depression. Much of the distress among us is doubtless to be explained by a want of frugality in our domestic expenditure, of economy in the management

Page 223

of our estates, of forbearance in contracting debts, and of a discreet and diligent application of the best methods of agriculture. But there is something in the peculiar pressure and protracted growth of our present evils, which marks them to be of a different origin from all such as have befallen us in former periods. At no stage of our history have extravagance and want of system been so little prevalent among us, as for a few years past. Admonished by the distresses consequent upon these pernicious habits, many of us have certainly been correcting them for some time. Yet those who have been most assiduous and successful in this pruning of expenses, and in the advancement of industry, though they have reaped valuable benefits, are still convinced that it is more difficult to keep clear of embarrassment now, to pay debts when incurred, and to enlarge their property, than at past periods easily within their recollection. If it be thought by some that mismanaged banks are the great and only cause of our misfortunes, this we shall suppose to be peculiarly the case with such as have borrowed their money, or have endorsed as sureties. But there are vast numbers through the state, of whom this was never to be said; and yet many of these too will doubtless assert, that they have never known it so hard to obtain money, and grow in property, as it has been for a succession of years. In regard to extravagant and relaxed habits of living, and in the management of property, it is true that they have been more characteristic of us recently, than through the whole progress of our growth as a people? If loose customs have not been more prevalent lately than formerly, why is it that now we begin first to experience these destructive consequences, so distinctly marked, of so long continuance, and in many instances so invincible even to our most faithful exertions?

Page 224

        Fellow-citizens, these things, and others also which it were easy to suggest, have occurred to our reflection, and they intimate to us the operation of a cause different in its nature from any which we have mentioned. While other states of this union have for many years actively and successfully exerted themselves in opening the opportunities of commerce to their people, North-Carolina has unhappily languished under a spirit of despondency in regard to the possibility of ever attaining to similar privileges. Time was when a vast portion of the interior settlers of other states were in a situation similar to our own. They were intercepted from the market of the world by immense distances, and almost insuperable obstacles. So long as this continued to be the case, they and we went into that market upon some terms of equality. If we had to overcome difficulties, it was in a greater or less degree necessary to them also. The prices of our productions in the universal market were regulated by these difficulties, and by the expense necessary to make our way through them. The labour and expense of transportation were alike to them and to us, and so also were the profits by which they were remunerated. But this no longer continues to be the case. The different states of the union have for many years augmented their population, and while they extended their settlements far into their interior territories, two consequences have resulted which it is important to distinguish. One is the vast abundance of agricultural productions of every description which have been thrown into the market, and the other, a prevention of increased expense and labour in transportation, by making the improvement of their roads and rivers, and the opening of canals keep pace with the extension of their settlements. In our state these improvements have never been realized. The consequence is at

Page 225

length experienced by us to be such as naturally results from such a change of circumstances. We must now continue to carry through all the original difficulties of transportation, every article we produce, into a market that is stocked and glutted with the same articles, transported with no more difficulty than if the market were within a few miles of their own doors. Efforts, it is true, have been sometimes made by ourselves to obtain the same facilities of conveyance, but they have failed for want of concentrated and well directed application. Our resources and exertions have been limited in supply, inefficient by dispersion, and we are left to contend with all the primitive obstructions of a natural state. Others have been rapidly advancing, but we have continued stationary. They in throngs, with their lands improved by every stimulus to industry, carry their exports into the general market with little cost, while under every discouragement, with our lands impoverished for want of excitement to the cultivator, to us it remains to sustain the same labour and the same burthen as at the first. The rivers of New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, South-Carolina, Georgia, and of the eastern and western states, if not navigable by nature, are made so by art, to the hills and mountains in which they originate. The inhabitants of these states, piercing or surmounting the impediments of nature, at once give evidence of the manner in which such works are executed, and of the riches and prosperity which flow in through the channels thus created. By an unbounded profusion of productions from all these vast territories now covered with inhabitants, but within our recollection a fruitless and howling wilderness, the price of every thing is reduced, and yet the wealth of every man and every family is maintained in a growing and flourishing state, by establishing the facilities of intercourse, and thus annihilating distance

Page 226

and the cost of transportation. Is it not evident, then, that in consequence of these changes which have been effected around us in the north, the west, and the south, our relative condition in regard to the market of the world, is become wholly altered? Of most of our people it must certainly be said, that to them no rivers have been made navigable, no canals have been dug, no turnpike roads levelled and paved, no rail-ways constructed. By us no encouragements have been felt, springing from the bountiful returns of industry, to improve our farms, increase our flocks, and multiply our productions to the utmost of our moral and physical ability. We still remain destitute of all this instrumentality of action, with all its animating and inspiring motives. Hence, though we could once rival, upon something like equal terms, the people of other states in the general market, we can now do it no longer. Prices for which they can sell with enriching profits, would be impoverishing and ruinous to us. Is not this a subject of melancholy conviction and painful experience to us every day? If the causes be not such as have been here detailed, then where else are they to be found? If the new countries which have been opened, and the vast internal territories settled in our portion of this continent, have not poured into the market an immeasurable abundance of grain and every species of produce, thus reducing the prices, while by opening commercial channels, the cost of carriage has been kept at almost nothing, in what other manner, we would ask, and by what other means is it, that the general market is now in so different a state from that in which it once was? And if this which we have now described, be the true cause of the alteration, nothing is more evident than that the consequences resulting to us are irremediable, so long as the circumstances remain unchanged. Much of our embarrassments may be derived from our

Page 227

want of economy in the expenses of our families and in the management of our farms from banks, from borrowing and suretyship; yet if all these were to be utterly done away, we should still find ourselves ground and oppressed by such prices in the market as must merge all the profits of our toil, and prove a complete interdict upon all our prospects of an advantageous trade. To enter now the general market from our interior country, and cope with the prices, we must have rail-roads, or canals, or navigable rivers. We must contend with our antagonists in that field, and in such an arena, with their own weapons. As well might we arm ourselves with bows and arrows, to go into battle against muskets, and rifles, and bayonets, and cannon, as hope to contend in prices, without canals, and rail-roads, and steam-boats, against those who are amply furnished with all these instruments of commercial rivalship. In every year of scarcity among us, in vain shall we flatter ourselves that we are safe with our high prices, within the distances and barriers which nature has interposed between them and us. They will make their way trough them all, and attack us with their low prices within the limits of our fancied security, and while we are hugging ourselves with exultation at the prospects of gain from the wants and distresses of our unfortunate and suffering neighbours. But in every year of abundance all our hopes must perish, because the incumbrance of transportation is an interdict upon our trade, or absorbs most of its profits.

        Such, fellow-citizens, appears to us to be our present situation. And so it must continue to be. Nay, without the remedies to which we look, our condition, we fear, is far from having reached the utmost point of deterioration. The same causes which have brought upon us our present difficulties, have not yet produced all their natural and deplorable effects. Cotton is now almost the only article

Page 228

which bears transportation. But it is much to be apprehended that even cotton will not long remain a source of profit in our present manner of conveyance. The states of South-California, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, together with the Arkansaw and other territories, are well fitted to this article, and they are yearly filling up more and more with an enterprising population, who are pressing their production of cotton to a vast and incalculable extent. They possess navigable rivers, and they are acting upon the same policy of internal improvement as has been prosecuted by other states. Must we not look forward then to the time when the supply of cotton in the market will be so largely proportioned to the demand, that the price will sink to the lowest ebb, and we shall be left in the same situation in regard to this also, which we already experience in respect to grain and all ordinary agricultural productions among our northern neighbours? If we do not brace ourselves speedily to some effectual method of internal improvement, we may soon be compelled to bid adieu even to this last forlorn hope, which now constitutes our only trust.

        In regard to such articles as are the growth of all the states, the case is becoming more desperate every day. Intelligence is now brought to us, which may well fill us with fresh alarms, for it puts a seal finally upon our exclusion from the market. The "Chesapeake and Ohio Canal," the "Baltimore and Ohio rail-road," with other works of a like nature and extent, are either actually commenced or instantly contemplated, in Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts, New-York, Pennsylvania, and other states. These will throw open other extensive regions for the production and transportation of agricultural products. They will probably depress the market still lower, and place it farther beyond our capacity. They must in a still greater degree

Page 229

aggravate the effects to us, which we have already so dreadfully experienced.

        And is this a time, fellow-citizens, for us to continue in supineness and inaction, when even the last remaining prop of our interest in the market of the world is ready to be undermined, and to leave us prostrate in the dust? It is to no purpose to raise our voice in outcries against the odious subject of internal improvement, as that which our neighbours have practised to our mischief and overthrow. It may be, nay, it certainly is, the grand cause of all our evils, in comparison with which all other causes and evils are of little moment. But though it brings these consequences upon us, it is the source of prosperity to them, and they are unquestionably at liberty to carry it on to the utmost of their discretion and ability, notwithstanding all its consequences to us in cheapening and destroying our market. The only method we can now take, and it is happily a sure one, is to shake off the lethargy that locks up our senses and our powers in listlessness and langour; to cast away our apprehensions and our disheartening fears; to gird ourselves with strength, and arm with a resolution and perseverance worthy of the elevated rank we hold in population and power in this distinguished confederation of republican states. No sooner shall we open a grand central thoroughfare, annihilating distance, and bringing the sea into a proximity to every man's dwelling, than we shall realize that we are upon a level with the rest of the union and of the world, in all the immunities of commerce, and in the means of individual and national prosperity. Then a spirit of activity and elastic force will be breathed into the bosoms of our desponding and helpless people. Then will every man see, that instead of its being useless to produce more than a bare sufficiency for his subsistence, every supernumerary article he can accumulate by his industry,

Page 230

his frugality, and his skill, will multiply his riches, and swell the means of knowledge, enjoyment, usefulness, and respectability to himself, his children, and to society.

        By constituting this great artery for circulating the vital principles of commerce through the state, it is not to the western and interior parts of the country only that these and similar effects are likely to be produced. The eastern and western counties have their peculiar productions, by the easy and costless transmission of which, each will reciprocate benefits equivalent to such as it will receive. Even the maritime commerce created to the state, would soon promote into quickened action and profitable employment a large portion of the population around the waters of our coast, and through the counties bordering on the sea. They would grow into a body of seamen, manning our numerous ships, and rivalling the north and east in outriding the billows of the ocean. Multitudes that now languish without occupation or interest, would then find both, on an element for which they are fitted by all their early habits and pursuits. By concentrating the commerce of the east and west, such a commerce as would result from the exports and imports of half a million of people, upon a single seaport on our coast, a maritime city must speedily spring into existence, inspiriting with new enterprise, and with energies unfelt before, the bosoms of all, but especially of numbers that now linger without motive, and drag out a life of pining penury. Several counties between Newbern and the hilly country are overspread with forests of pine, which with all their exuberance of timber, masts, spars, pitch, tar, and turpentine, would, from the first origin of a central rail-road, assume a value little less than would be given to them, were they transplanted to the sea-coast.

        But we forbear, though it would be easy to enlarge further on these subjects so interesting to us as individuals and

Page 231

to every lover of his country. We indulge no such vanity as to imagine that our suggestions can at all enlighten or expand the views which will occur to our fellow-citizens, when a work so pregnant with advantages is made the subject of their consideration. In conclusion, we would recommend to all of our fellow-citizens throughout the state, who are of opinion with us that it is our interest as a people to engage in the contemplated undertaking, to avail themselves of some seasonable opportunity, before the meeting of the general assembly, to have a common understanding with one another on the subject, and to adopt measures for transmitting to that honourable body a firm, respectful, and conclusive expression of their opinions and wishes.

        And we would further recommend a similar declaration to the honourable assembly, of our opinion and wish that provision be made for employing, under the direction of his excellency the governor, well qualified, practical, and scientific engineers, during the ensuing year, to survey the course and estimate the cost of a central rail-road from the ocean to the western extremity of the state, and to publish their report, or as much of it as can be completed, at least one month before the annual elections of members of assembly, next afterwards to ensue.

        The address was read, and unanimously adopted.

        The following resolutions were offered, and passed with great unanimity.

        Resolved, That as an experiment of this kind of internal improvements, and as its locality would afford an opportunity to numerous citizens from various parts of the state to witness its practical utility, it be recommended to our next legislature to construct a rail-road from Campbellton to the market house in Fayetteville.

Page 232

        Resolved, That though the attention of this meeting has been directed more particularly to a central rail-road, yet they recommend to our legislature a continued perseverance in other important improvements in which they are engaged, and which promise a successful termination, and especially those on the Cape Fear.

        Resolved, That the proceedings of this meeting, together with the address, be published, and that the editors within the state be requested to give them an insertion in their respective papers.

        On motion, the meeting then adjourned.