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2d Session. S
FEBRUARY 23, 1855.–Laid upon the table and ordered to be printed.
Mr. INGERSOLL, from the Committee on Foreign Affairs, made the fol
The Committee of Foreign Affairs, to which was referred the memorial of
Lieutenant M. F. Maury, United States navy, in behalf of the Memphis convention, and in favor of the free navigation of the river Amazon, have had the same under consideration and beg leave to report:
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That the navigation of this river and its tributaries, the settlement of its banks, and the cultivation of its valleys, would, in every point of view, prove highly beneficial to the interests of the United States.
The country through which these waters flow is great in its resources; it possesses diversity of climate; and its geographical relations to this country are such that, if these resources can be called forth by the energies of the settler, a large and profitable trade between the two greatest river basins in the world would certainly be established. In the language of the memorial:
"The Amazon is the largest river in the world, and the great hydrographic basin, which includes it and its tributaries, is unsurpassed for fertility ; nor is there anywhere, on the surface of the earth, a region of country of the extent which can compete with this, in capacity of production, or vie with it as to the variety, extent, or wealth of its mineral resources. It teems with animal life; its soil is most prolific; and the display of riches in its vegetable kingdom is truly magnificent.”
- The tributaries of the Amazon inosculate with those of the Rio de la Plata at the south, and unite with those of the Oronoco at the north. The Casquiari connects, by a natural channel, the waters of the Oronoco with those of the Amazon, and Count Castelnau saw the head streams of the Amazon and those of the Rio de la Plata running through and watering the same gentleman's garden in Brazil.”
“The country drained by these rivers extends from the parellel of ten degrees of north latitude to that of thirty-six degrces of south latitude."
. " In its Atlantic slopes intertropical and extratropical, it therefore embraces all the climates and includes all the varieties of production that are to be found within the range of forty-six degrees of latitude."
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...
“ 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 10 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 certaiu 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 ;