Imatges de pàgina
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Again : the country drained by these rivers extends from the meridian of 34° to that of 80° of west longitude, another 460.”

“ From the sea shore under the line to the region of perpetual snow on the mountains, it therefore embraces all the climates that are spread out over the plains that lie between the equator and the poles, but which are here condensed, crumpled up, and brought within the compass of forty-six degrees of longitude when measured at the equator."

« From the head of navigation on the waters of the Amazon to the head of navigation on the waters of the Rio de la Plata, the natural canalization to connect the two is so nearly completed, that only three leagues of artificial canal, it is said by explorers, are wanting to pass the vessels of one river into the other.”

“Settlement would accomplish this among its first achievements, and thus turn the Mississippi river of the southern hemisphere upside down, and bring the mouth of the Rio de la Plata from the parallel of 36° south, and place it, for all the practical purposes of commerce under the line, whence its wealth will be poured into our lap with that of the Amazon."

“ 'The great commercial marts of the world and the centres of trade, in all ages have been and will ever be in the northern hemisphere."

“ Four-fifths of all the dry land are in it. It is the seat of human knowledge, of wealth, civilization, and enterprise. The shipping of the world belongs to it, and the seamen are natives of it. And the beneficence of Providence has so arranged the seasons that the seed time of the northern hemisphere occurs when the fruits of the southern are just ripe for the harvest."

"There are physical conditions which will ever compel the inhabitants of the southern hemisphere to look north, as they do now, for their chief market places.

“ Produce, as it descends the La Plata, goes south, consequently every mile it travels in that direction is a mile the further from market, and when it reaches the mouth of the river it then has to turn about and come north again, by sea, on its way to our northern markets, and, after many days, it is only as far on its way as the mouth of the Amazon, which this canal, of a span in length, will, in the fullness of time, enable it to reach direct, and by inland navigation.

Considering the valleys of these three rivers—the La Plata, the Amazon, and the Oronoco—as one great hydrographic basin, we have a region embracing the enormous area of not less than 2,900,000 square miles, affording an inland navigation of not less than 80,000 miles, through climates of much diversity, and upon soils of all the variety and capacity of production that are common to India. Such are the Atlantic slopes of South America.

“ The valleys of these rivers are for the most part a wilderness, and their channels unknown to steam.

“ The Amazon is the largest river in the world; tributaries flow into it from both hemispheres. The Mississippi is the largest river in the northern, and the Rio de la Plata the largest river wholly in the southern hemisphere.

“ The following table shows, according to the best physical geogra

phers, the area of the valleys that are drained by the principal rivers of the world :

Area in square miles. "In the two Americas-Amazon.

1,796,000 “In North America-Mississippi

982,000 "In South America-La Plata..

886,000 “In South America—Oronoco

252,000 "In Europe - Danube..

234,000 “In Asia (India)—Ganges.

432,000 “In Asia (China)—Yangtse-Kiang..

547,000 - In Africa - Nile.

520,000

“ Truly the contrast is striking."

“The winds and currents of the sea are so ordered, that all vessels trading under canvas by sea with the mouth of the Amazon, must, either going or coming, pass the offings of our southern seaport towns upon the Atlantic."

“The currents sweep by the mouth of that river into the Carribean sea, on their way to feed the Gulf stream, and the drift wood which it brings down from the slopes of the Andes meets in the Florida pass that which our own Mississippi may have brought down from the Rocky mountains."

“The trade winds of the Atlantic blow home upon the Amazon, and render an east course for a sailing vessel coming out from its mouth impracticable.”

* If she be bound for Europe or Africa-if her destination be around Cape Horn to California, or the Cape of Good Hope to India, or to Australia, or even to Rio de Janeiro—in every case, her course, on coming out of the Amazon, is first to the northward and westward, until she reaches the parallels of our southern coast.”

“Returning, she may steer direct for the river ; but going, her track as far as 200 or 300 of north latitude is one and the same, whatever be her ultimate destination among the places above named.”

“On the contrary, if after coming out of the mouth of the Amazon, she be bound anywhere into the Carribean sea or the Gulf of Mexico, the winds and currents are both favorable for a direct course; but on her return, they are such as to compel her to pass out by the way of the Tortugas, with the Gulf stream; whereas, from all the seaport towns of the United States, the winds are what are called “soldiers' winds,' that is, they are fair both ways—fair to come and fair to go—and the passage is one of the most certain in the world. To and from New York it is about three weeks under canvas, on the average, each way.

“ Thus it appears that the commercial outlet to the great Amazonian water-shed is nearer, under canvas, to the commercial emporium and other Atlantic marts of the country, than is the mouth of our own Mississippi to New York; and that the highway or route between that Amazonian outlet and all the rest of the world passes almost in sight of our own doors.

“These circumstances invest the valley of the Amazon-its settlement, its commercial resources and their development, the free navi

gation of its waters and all that pertains to it—with features that are very

engaging to the true spirit of enterprise."

"The people of this country contemplate with especial and lively interest all that concerns the speedy settlement and future well-being of the beautiful Atlantic slopes of South America. They see in the future of those river basins the wealth of India and the productions of the East brought to their own doors, and spread out in the commercial lap of the ocean, where the winds and the currents and geographical position all conspire to make dominant American trade. They perceive that the settlement of the Atlantic slopes of South America, and the cultivation of its fields, and the navigation of its rivers, would lift India up, as it were, with all its productions and capabilities, and set it down here in this Amazonian water-shed, before our own doors, and so bring it within four weeks (instead of four months) easy sail of our seaport towns. Commerce, they know, is a great civilizer, and has been a great christianizer of the earth. With them commerce is king, and to commerce, carefully fostered and wisely encouraged, they look for the accomplishment of those vast achievements upon the Amazon and along the Atlantic slopes of South America, which is to invest that country with all the fabled wealth of the Indies."

“ To unlock the Amazon, to open it to that commerce and navigation, with their influences, is the measure which the Memphis convention has so much at heart. It was one of the objects for which that convention was called, and it is the earnest prayer of this, the memorial of that most wise and patriotic assemblage.”

“Such a body of men as that which met together there would scorn to put up a petition asking for anything that is wrong."

“They believe the free navigation of the Amazon is an achievement which the relations of peace and friendship which so happily exist between this government and all the riparian states of this river, are entirely competent to accomplish."

They believe that all that is wanted is light, and an announcement, in the name of the people of the United States, of a doctrine which, in America, should obtain, and which ought, by the everlasting principles of right, to obtain with regard to the navigation of rivers that flow in natural and navigable channels through the territories of more nations than one."

“In order to set forth the grounds of their petition in their true light, to prevent misapprehension as to the doctrines maintained, and to do justice to the memorialists, the attention of your honorable bodies is invited to the present condition of the Amazon and its navigable tributaries, and to those principles of the international code which are applicable to the case in hand."

“ The Amazon, whether it be considered in respect to the volume of water discharged by it, or to the extent of its navigability, or the area of country drained by it, is the largest, the most majestic, and mighty river in the world. The red man of the forest calls it the king of rivers."

“ The main stream itself is in the southern hemisphere, just the other side of the line, but its tributaries take their rise in both hemispheres ;

upon its banks.

those on one side of the equator flowing to the south, and those on the other to the north, until they reach the main stream and swell its tide."

“ The basins of its tributaries are so many steppes, leading from the habitat of mosses and lichens on the Andes, down to the pampas of the temperate, and the plains of the torrid zone, in the regions below.”

"The Mississippi runs south; at every turn it crosses new parallels of latitude. There is a change of climate for every parallel, and every climate enriches the commerce of the main stream with its own peculiar truits."

"Its tributaries drain the same parallels that the main stream drains traverse the same climate that the main stream traverses. They therefore swell the amount, not the variety, of the agricultural products that the main stream bears on its bosom to the sea.”

“On the other hand, the Amazon runs east; and though the main stream itself may be said to cross no parallels, it descends from steppe to steppe, and traverses, as it descends from the mountains, climate after climate, and that, too, in such quick succession—for they are literally piled up one above the other—that one is astonished rather with the variety than the quantity of the many productions that delight

“But its tributaries, unlike those of the Mississippi, which come from the east and the west, flow from the north and the south. They are innumerable ; each one drains its own plateau, which, in the first place, has a soil and climate peculiar to itself and its elevation. On its way to the main stream, it crosses parallels of latitude, and at each crossing there is a new climate and a virgin soil, which teems with the richest and rarest of fruits in great profusion.”

" With this physical arrangement and these double tides of climates, those of each tributary differing from the rest, and those of the main stream differing from all, the great Amazonian water-shed is endowed with a capacity and capability for production and commerce such as the world has never yet seen realized, and to which there is on the face of this earth no parallel.”

“ The main stream itself affords an uninterrupted navigation for vessels of the largest class from the sea to the foot of the

Andes, a distance of more than 3,000 miles, while its tributaries, some of which are larger than our own Mississippi, branch off far away among the spurs of the mountains, and afford water for steamboat navigation to an unknown extent, and 10 places in unexplored regions of fabulous wealth.”

“Travellers in that country find themselves at a loss what most to admire—the brilliancy and variety of the animal, the wealth and profusion of the vegetable, or the riches and splendor of the mineral kingdom.”

“The fauna and the flora in those regions—for they are owned by many nations—so vie with the jewels there, the precious stones and metals, that each, when seen alone, is thought by the beholder to be more dazzling than 'either of the other two.

This wilderness of wealth is interlaced by thousands of miles of navigable streams, whose majestic currents have never yet been stemmed by the first steamboat.

A few years ago Lieutenant Maury, in the course of his investiga

tions concerning the winds and currents of the sea, invited the attention of the government to the Amazon, and its physical relations to this country.

The investigations of that officer enabled him to show how the winds and currents bring, practically, for all purposes of business and commerce, the mouth of the Amazon towards the north, and place it hard by the Florida Pass, in conjunction with that of the Mississippi.

He referred to the great want of reliable information touching its re.sources, its commercial capabilities and capacities, both present and prospective.

In consequence of these suggestions, an officer of the navy was dispatched from Lima, with instructions to cross the Andes, and descend the eastern slopes thereof until he should reach the navigable waters of the Amazon; there, he was to embark, and descend to the sea, sounding the river by the way, gauging its capacities for navigation, and measuring, as well as he might, its capabilities for the future.

Lieutenant William Lewis Herndon, of the United States navy, accomplished this journey, and has submitted the result of his exploration in a volume abounding in useful and valuable information. It has been extensively circulated through the country, and has tended still more to impress the public mind with the importance of the commercial relations which, as soon as that country is fairly opened up to navigation and settlement, must arise between the United States and that portion of Brazil.

It may be worth while to mention that Lieutenant Herndon had not travelled 60 miles from the shores of the Pacific before he found himself upon the borders of the fountain which sends its waters down the Atlantic slopes towards the east, destined, perhaps, to meet in the Gulf of Mexico the waters from other fountains on the slopes of the Rocky mountains.

These “water-sheds” of South America embrace a vast region of country, and such, says Lieutenant Maury, is their position and the machinery of the winds and currents of the sea that the Gulf of Mexico may be regarded as the common receptacle of the drainage of the greater part, both of North and South America.

“ The Amazon and its navigable tributaries wash the shores of five republics and one empire—the empire owning below and at the mouth on both banks, the republics owning, in part, the main stream and both of its confluents."

These streams afford the only practical channel of communication between the Amazonian provinces of these republics and the sea. The Andes effectually cut off all commercial intercourse between them and the Pacific."

“Peru has offered lands, seeds, and implements of husbandry, with a free passage across the mountains to any emigrant who will agree to cross over and settle in that country.

“But when the emigrant, toil-worn and frosted by the way, reaches this wilderness of wealth he finds himself in the condition of the sailor in his valley of diamonds. Transportation back over the mountains is simply an impossibility; and as to his descending that mighty river with ihe hard-earned fruits of honest, patient labor, the ordinances of

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