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In Senate, February 21, 1854.
The Committee on Territories, to whom was referred the memorial of Hiram
0. Alden and James Eddy, asking for the right of way for a telegraph to the Pacific, and a grant of land in aid of the construction of such telegraph, haring considered the same, beg leave to report:
The proposition to connect the eastern and western shores of this continent by magnetic telegraph is one of such vast importance, involving alike the highest consideration of public and private interest, civilization, and power, that it is almost impossible to do it justice within the limits usually assigned to an official communication to Congress. It is proposed, therefore, to divide the subject, and to consider chiefly
1st. The necessity, uses, and advantages of the enterprise to the government and the public.
2d. The feasibility of its execution.
3d. Its comparatively small cost, in view of the advantages to be derived from it.
That there is an absolute necessity for a line of telegraph, connecting our Atlantic and Lake cities with the cities on the Pacific coast, is apparent to the humblest capacity. The various business relations of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Wasbington, Charleston, and New Orleans, as well as Buffalo, Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati, with the cities of our new Pacific empire, must necessarily partake of the nature of chance, and involve innumerable losses, till the wants of California and the means of supplying these shall be known to our merchants, flour and provision dealers, in time to make profitable shipments. A commercial telegraphic correspondent at San Francisco, informing his friends on the Atlantic coast, on the lakes, or on the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri rivers, of the state of the markets, the arrival from foreign countries, the abundance or scarcity of provisions, the accumulation of the precious metals, &c., would annually save millions
property, and give to that which is now considered hazardous speculation, the reality and substance of healthy trade. Capital, which is now misapplied or lost, would find a profitable investment, and help to develop and multiply the resources of the whole country. And as the business people of our Atlantic and western cities would be the first to receive all this valuable information, so would they also be the first to profit by it, even to a point which would enable them to import into San Francisco, direct from Europe, the goods which cannot be supplied by our own domestic markets.
So far the necessities of commerce. Let us now consider those of the government. The acquisition of California secures to the United States the most favorable position on the entire globe for a world-empire. Bounded east and west, respectively, by the two great oceans which divide the continents, its northern expanse only limited by barren wilds or sparsely settled colonies of a distant country, and to the southward encountering a nation yielding at every step to our superior energy and progress, nothing is wanting to render the machinery of our govern
ment perfect, but a safe and rapid intercommunication between the heart and the extremities. In proportion to the distance of a State or Territory from the federal government is the necessity of protection, especially when the wealth and resources of those States and Territories are apt to invite the cupidity of strangers. Our Pacific seacoast is as yet entirely unguarded, and must necessarily remain so for a number of years, though a vast amount of government property may, in the meanwhile, be accumulating in the sea-ports. There are wharves and docks, government stores, custom-houses, assay offices, barracks—in short, property amounting to millions, intrusted to officers with whom the government must be in correspondence at all times, but who might require double the care and attention in time of war. Our California gold fleets might require convoys, and the commanders of our men-ofwar in the Pacific fresh instructions from the government, which could not be conveyed in season except by telegraph. Troops may be ordered to march, or be conveyed from one point on the coast to another, reinforcements may be demanded or announced-in short, the action of the government invoked in a thousand ways, when success may depend on promptness of execution. In all these cases the telegraph would be an instrument of power, either for offensive or defensive measures.
On the score of economy, it would save the government the employment of expresses, and the multiplication of government officials in the civil and military service. It would cause the business of the government to be done almost as soon as the orders may be issued from the respective departments in Washington, and thus prevent the waste of means consequent on delay. It would add strength and efficiency to every executive act, and preserve that faith and reliance on our federal government, in citizens separated from us by snow-capped mountains and vast deserts, which would animate their hopes and sustain their courage in times of trial.
But there are yet other advantages to be derived from the use of a line of telegraph from the Atlantic to the Pacific. We have a fleet of some six hundred whalers in the Pacific ocean, the captains and crews of which are ever anxious to be put in communication with their friends at home and the merchants in our eastern cities. They are naturally desirons to bring the product of their daring industry to the best markets, whether American or European, and the telegraph is the best means of imparting to them the information needed for that purpose. In addition to this, our carrying trade in the Pacific has quadrupled since the discovery of the precious metals in Calıfornia and Australia, amounting now to some 300,000 tons, and employing a capital of more than a hundred millions of dollars ; while the revolution in China, and the prospect of opening the ports of Japan, promise a field of enterprise to our merchants and navigators, which must make San Francisco and New York the emporiums of the world's commerce, and the Allantic and Pacific telegraph the great source of commercial information to all trading nations. When our Pacific steamers shall carry the mails from San Francisco to Shanghai and Canton, intelligence will be conveyed from India to China, and thence through the United States to
Rep. No. 542
Europe, in less time, and with more safety, than by the overland route. The India mail, by the overland route, requires, on an average, sixtyeight days to reach England, and twelve days more to reach New York and Boston—in all, eighty days. When the Atlantic and Pacific telegraph shall be built, and a line of steamers run from San Francisco to Shanghai, news from China will be received in New York in seventeen days, fifteen of which will be required in the transmission of the mails from China to San Francisco, and one or two days, at furthest, from San Francisco by telegraph to New York. Add to this distance of seventeen days, twelve days for the transmission of the mails from New York to Liverpool or London, and the eastern news, via the United States, will reach England in less than half the time now required for its transit by the overland route.
The news from India, the Sandwich Islands, the Dutch East Indies, Australia, and New Zealand, will all be conveyed by the United States until, when the Pacific railroad shall be built, commerce itself will follow in the train of commercial intelligence.
That the Atlantic and Pacific telegraph would be the source of infinite satisfaction to thousands of our hardy western pioneers who, through it, would be enabled to communicate with their wives and children, friends and relatives at home, need scarcely be mentioned. Many a heart would be gladdened, many an expense saved, and many a comfort added to scanty means, by early ridings of the emigrant's new favorable location and success. In whatever light the subject may be considered, whether in reference to the interests of the government, the prosperity of our merchants and navigators, or the happiness and comfort of the citizens at large, the enterprise is eminently calcclated to promote the power, wealth, and general prosperity of the country.
As regards the feasibility of the enterprise, the experience of the memorialists, tested by successful undertakings of a similar nature in other parts of the country, as well as the fact that they ask no aid from the government till their line is completed and in working order, furnish the strongest presumptive evidence in its favor. The wires, which they propose to lay down under ground, to protect them against storms, wild animals, or Indians, are covered by an imperishable insulating substance, impervious to moisture, and unaffected by any other decomposing influences of the earth. They propose to lay them deep enough to prevent their being disturbed ; and they have discovered a process of carrying them across the beds of rivers, and through masses of rocks. Experiments of the same kind have been made in Europe and proved successful. Besides, the memorialists propose to have testing-tubes every five miles, and operating stations every hundred miles, on the entire length of the line. Their confidence in their plan of construction, and the entire success of its execution, is so great that they propose to complete the line within two years from the passage of this bill, or to forfeit all the rights and privileges acquired under it. Such confidence can only be imparted by science, which subjects matter to the immutable laws of nature, and predicts with unerring certainty the result of their application. The government is not asked to aid in making experiments; it is not called upon to appropriate a dollar, or donate an acre of the public domain, until the enterprise is crowned with success,
and that success manifest, by the actual use the governinent is invited to make of it.
It remains to be shown that the expense of the undertaking is commensurate with its advantages in practice.
All the memorialists ask, after the line is completed and in working order, is a donation of two millions of acres of land along the line, or in some other territories of the United States not interfering with the grants that may have been made, or may hereafter be made, for railroad
purposes. This is a small donation, compared with the liberal granıs which have been made for railroads and other improvements of a less general character, and less likely to affect the wealth and progress of the whole country. Neither is it asked that the lands granted shall be in a continuous line, only benefiting the grantees. The improvements on the line will enhance the value of the adjacent lands, cause their settlement, and thus bring them, at an early period, into market. The telegraph will be the forerunner of civilization and power, and increase the revenue of the government from customs and divers other sources.
But there is yet another most important consideration. The memorialists do not ask that the government shall grant them lands without receiving an equivalent. They bind themselves, in perpetuity, to transmit monthly, free of charge, and prior to all other business, eight thousand words for the sole use of the government, and agree to work the line, day and night, without interruption. This the committee consider the most valuable feature in the whole proposition. At the rate of charges proposed by the memorialists for so large a distance, and worked at so great an outlay of labor and capital, it would be equal to the payment of $100,000 per annum; but the actual saving to government in expresses, messengers, &c., would amount to much more, and far exceed ihe interest on the value of the donated lands. Viewed in this light, the grant of lands from the government would, in fact, be nothing else but a perpetual lease of them, at a yearly rent of $100,000 and upwards; and not in the nature of a gift, but of a profitable investment.
Considering, then, that the memorialists assume the whole risk and responsibility of the enterprise, and that the government is only called upon, at its successful completion, to make a moderate grant of land for the use of it, in all time to come, in the nature of rent, their proposition appears eminently just and reasonable on the face of it, and perfectly safe to the goveroment.
Your committee beg leave to report the accompanying bill.