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MARY CUNNINGHAM, WIDOW OF JOHN CUNNINGHAM,
APRIL 28, 1862.-Laid on the table, and ordered to be printed.
Mr. HARRISON, from the Committee on Invalid Pensions, made the
The Committee on Invalid Pensions, to whom was referred the petition of Mary Cunningham, widow of John Cunningham, deceased, submit the following report :
The petitioner represents that her deceased husband was a musician in the thirty-eighth regiment regular infantry, commanded by Colonel Little; that during the war of the United States with Great Britain, to wit, on or about the 25th day of August, 1814, he was taken prisoner by the enemy and carried to England; that he remained a prisoner about one year; that he served as a musician in the war of the United States with Mexico, and that by reason of his confinement as a prisoner and his exposure in Mexico he became diseased, but it is not stated what the disease was. It appears, how ever, that he did not depart this life until the 26th day of April, 1861. The petitioner says she is in destitute circumstances.
The petitioner's husband presented a petition to Congress in his lifetime, to wit, on the 4th day of January, 1858, asking that an invalid pension be granted to him, but his petition was not finally
No testimony has been presented to the committee to sustain the material statements of the petitioner. Neither her petition nor that of the decedent are verified by oath. The committee therefore ask to be discharged from the further consideration of the subject.
ILLINOIS AND MICHIGAN CANAL ENLARGEMENT.
APRIL 28, 1862.—Laid on the table, and ordered to be printed.
Mr. ARNOLD, from the Committee on Roads and Canals, made the
The Committee on Roads and Canals, to whom were referred various
memorials and petitions asking for the enlargement of the Illinois and Michigan canal, having had the same under consideration, report :
The committee have carefully examined the bill and report made to this House by the Committee on Military Affairs, and give to both their sanction and approval.
The committee, without going into any extended argument on the subject, submit the following brief summary of the reasons for their approval: The two great channels of commerce from the interior to the ocean, and from the ocean to the interior, are by the great lakes and the Mississippi. The value of the commerce of each of these great channels has been estimated at from four to five hundred millions per annum.
There is a short portage from Lake Michigan to that point on the headwaters of the Illinois where it can be made navigable of about thirty miles. By cutting through this portage and improving the river you have a ship canal from the lakes to the Mississippi. By this short canal these vast channels of water communication, the lakes and the Mississippi, are connected by steamboat communication, and all that portion of the continent lying east of the Mississippi and south of the great lakes and River St. Lawrence becomes an island.
This work has been already more than half accomplished by the State of Illinois, aided by a small land grant from Congress made as early as 1827.
Illinois has expended over six millions of dollars on this work, which was completed in 1848. It now yields an annual revenue of about $200,000. This would be very largely increased by the improvement of the Illinois river.
Illinois offers this canal and its revenues to the United States on condition that Congress will provide the means of enlarging it, so as to pass gunboats and vessels-of-war from the lakes to the Mississippi and the ocean, and from the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico to the lakes.
This is necessary, as a military measure, to place us upon an equality with Great Britain.
She has already constructed canals which enable her to pass gunboats from the ocean and St. Lawrence to the lakes.
We are to-day utterly defenceless against iron-clad gunboats which she could bring from her navy yards in England through these canals; and thus the vast commerce of the lakes, and the great agricultural products of the west, and the wealth of the lake towns, would be at the mercy of these gunboats.
We are prohibited, by treaty, from constructing gunboats or armed vessels on the lakes. Enlarge the Illinois and Michigan canal as proposed, and the gunboats and mortarboats which have contributed so greatly to the success of our arms in the valley of the Mississippi could be transferred at once to the lakes.
Had this canal been enlarged at the breaking out of the rebellion, the naval resources and power of the country would have been far greater than it was. The 1,200 vessels and 15,000 sailors now shut up on the great lakes would have been at the disposal of the govern. ment. With the mechanical and manufacturing facilities of the lake cities, with the ship timber, iron, and other materials on the lakes, gunboats would have been made ready months earlier than they were, and long ere this the same skill and valor which have won the great victories at Fort Donaldson, Island No. 10, and Pea Ridge would long ere this have carried our flag in triumph to New Orleans; the valley of the Mississippi would have been entirely reclaimed and the rebellion suppressed.
Your committee, from a careful consideration, are clear in their judgment that had this ship and steamboat canal been in existence during the past year, it would have saved to the treasury in the transportation of troops, arms, ordnance, and munitions, and in cheapening and facilitating the building of gunboats, and in enabling the armies to have commenced operations in the field earlier, more than one hundred millions of dollars. The value of this work, in a commercial point of view, can scarcely be exaggerated, and its value will be constantly increasing with the progress of our country in population, agriculture, commerce, and manufactures.
It is believed that this work may now be properly characterized as a military, commercial, and political necessity. It will benefit every section. To New England it will lessen the price of food, to New York and Pennsylvania it will give increased trade and commerce, and to the west it will cheapen every article of domestic or foreign manufacture. It will bind still closer the lakes and the valley of the Mississippi, and make the east and the west one in destiny forever.
The only objection which has been suggested to this work is its supposed draught upon an already overburdened treasury.
This objection the committee have carefully considered, and believe that the interests on its cost will be promptly paid by the tolls of the canal, and that those tolls will provide a sinking fund which will at an early day discharge the principal, and thus this great national work (free always for the military purposes of the government) having paid for itself, would become free to the vast and constantly increasing commerce of the lakes and the Mississippi. It would save to the northwest in a single year like the past, in lessening the cost of transportation of its staples, more than its entire cost. It would, the day it was completed, add to the taxable property of the nation an amount, the taxes upon which, under the pending tax bill, would more than pay the interest on its cost. The committee, for these and other reasons, earnestly recommend the measure to the favorable action of the House.