From the formal opening of the original canal to the completion of the first enlargement.

The period from 1825 to 1834 was a time of development for the Erie canal, during which no radical changes were made, and the improvements undertaken were such as to add to the permanency and stability of the canal. Succeeding this period came the first enlargement of the Erie, which was not completed until 1862. After the opening of the canal in 1825, traffic had increased by leaps and bounds, and the revenue collected from tolls demonstrated the wisdom of the builders and presaged unbounded prosperity for the future. From 1826 to 1834 the aggregate tolls amounted to $8,539,377.70. Indeed, so marked was the success of the Erie that a veritable frenzy for canal-building spread over the whole country, which manifested itself in New York State in a flood of petitions to the Legislature for the opening of the water-ways, in the surveys of hundreds of miles of proposed routes. In the building of several unremunerative and -- in the light of later history -- ill-advised lateral branches and in the incorporation of more than sixty private canal companies. One act alone, the "great canal law" of 1825 (chapter 236), ordered the surveys of seventeen contemplated canals, covering a distance of over twelve hundred miles, and many other surveys were made later. Within the first decade after the completion of the Erie, six canals were built, having a length of two hundred and ten miles, and during the next four years four more, with a length of two hundred and forty miles, were authorized. These, together with the five hundred miles embraced in the original Erie and Champlain, the navigable feeders and later laterals, and the one hundred and five miles of canals built by two private companies made an aggregate of about ten hundred and sixty miles constructed in the state.

After the opening of the canal, one of the first troubles experienced came from the rapid movements of packet and light freight boats, which were having a destructive effect on the banks of the canal by driving the water along the face of the banks, washing them away, and depositing the earth in the bottom. These boats also had the right of way in passing locks -- another cause of dissatisfaction among boatmen -- so that it was attempted to reduce their number to two daily, and in the course of time to abolish them entirely, for upon investigation it was found that the revenue collected from these packets amounted to about one-twentieth of that collected from the freighters. 1 The sides of the prism were repaired by building a slope wall of stone in some places and of wood in others; the banks were also raised in places. Up to 1828 about two hundred and fifty miles of canal had been protected in this way, at a cost of about $1,600 per mile, where both banks were walled. As early as 1822 it had been found necessary to enact a law (chapter 274), to limit the speed of boats to four miles an hour.

In numerous places it was found that the locks had settled somewhat and needed to be replaced. In several instances it was considered that two locks would soon be useful, if not necessary, in facilitating the increasing business of the canal, and that the loss and inconvenience to the public by stopping navigation at these places, while repairs were in progress, would be greater than the cost of another lock. Therefore, whenever it became necessary to rebuild the structures, a lock was constructed adjoining the old one and after its opening repairs were made to the old lock without in any way interfering with navigation.

During this period the feeder from Limestone creek was completed (1826), and a feeder from the Mohawk river at Rome was constructed (1826). Stone waste-weirs were built and guard-locks were altered and improved. Nearly all the bridges were raised and repaired, and ditches were cut to receive the water leaking from the canal. In 1827 a new lift-lock at Fort Plain was finished, and the dam at the head of the Genesee river feeder was raised fourteen inches. In 1828 two new weigh-locks were built to replace the hydrostatic locks at Syracuse and Troy, and In 1829 another was completed at Utica. In the spring of 1832 a large break occurred in the canal embankment near the village of Perrinton, and being of great size, it interrupted navigation for a considerable time. To guard against a repetition of this occurrence, and to avoid the necessity of such expensive repairs in the future, several new and larger waste-weirs, together with new guard-locks, were built.

In 1833 a considerable amount of repairing was done, a large percentage of it being caused by the heavy freshets in the Mohawk river. The aqueducts across Oriskany, Butternut and Oneida creeks had to be repaired, having been built of soft and porous stone that could not withstand the climatic changes to which it was exposed. The aqueduct across Mud creek had to be partially rebuilt, and while this was being done the trunk was widened to admit the passage of two boats. It was at this time (1833) that the tolls were reduced 28 ½ per cent, going to tide-water, and 14 ¼ per cent, going from tide-water. In this year also the number of acting canal commissioners was increased from two to three.

In 1834 came the first step toward an enlarged canal. The canal commissioners submitted a special report 2 to the legislature in relation to rebuilding the aqueduct at Rochester, taking an additional feeder into the Erie canal at Camillus on the Jordan level and doubling the locks upon the Erie canal east of the village of Syracuse. Traffic had increased so rapidly and the crowding of boats, especially on the eastern section, had become so great as to demand some relief. The commissioners, therefore, suggested the doubling of locks as a possible remedy. In speaking of this in 1851, State Engineer Seymour said: "As early as 1832, the project of doubling the locks on the Eastern division began to be a subject of conversation. In 1834 the Canal Commissioners made a special report to the Legislature ... the first official allusion to the necessity of enlargement." 3 However, as early as 1825 the canal commissioners had perceived the need of greater facilities and in their report to the Legislature on March 4, of that year, had suggested the propriety of doubling the locks. As the construction of double locks appeared extremely difficult at some points, they "presumed that the experience of two or three years more, [would] satisfy the public, that it [would] be proper to commence the construction of another canal parallel with the eastern section," proposing a location on the north side of the Mohawk between Utica and Schenectady.

The commissioners reported that during the season of 1833 it had been shown that the lock west of Schenectady had made more than twenty thousand lockages. They thought that with double locks the canal would be able for some time to accommodate the traffic and still continue to employ boats of the tonnage then in use. Because, from its position, boats could not so readily enter, pass through and clear from the berme lock as the towing-path lock, they thought it probable that forty thousand lockages would be found to approach the greatest number that could be made with double locks in a single season. However, they believed that, within no remote period after the locks could be doubled, the increased transportation would equal if not surpass the capacity of the locks to accommodate it. To meet this need, the commissioners thought that the locks must be extended and the canal enlarged. Accordingly, they recommended that the new locks should be built ten feet longer than the existing structures.

Governor William L. Marcy, in his annual message to the Legislature of 1834, called attention to the phenomenal increase of western settlement and its existing and future requirements for transportation, saying: "If our canals are to be what a wise management cannot fail to make them -- the principal channels for this trade -- we must calculate its extent, and make them adequate to this object." But New York State, he continued, could not be expected to enjoy the benefits of the western trade without effort, as other Atlantic states were making powerful efforts to remove the natural barriers which hindered their competition for this prize. Canal traffic was always to be increased by bettering facilities of transportation and reducing expenses. By enlarging the capacity of the Erie canal the cost of transportation would be diminished. Tolls were a large factor in this, he said, and had been carefully and judiciously modified by the canal board during the preceding year, with the result of more widely diffusing the trade throughout the West and Southwest. A substantial reduction had been made for the season of 1833, yet, notwithstanding this, the Erie and Champlain canals had received in tolls $1,464,259.98, an increase of $234,776.51 over the year before. 4

Appreciating the importance of this subject, the Legislature passed an act, 5 which authorized the commissioners to build double locks between Albany and Syracuse of such dimensions as they deemed proper. This law also directed the taking of Nine Mile creek as a feeder into the Jordan level, the reconstruction of the Rochester aqueduct and the building of sluices around locks on any State canal. As a preliminary step the commissioners employed Mr. Holmes Hutchinson to examine the sites for double locks and to furnish the proper plans and estimates for their construction, and also for the construction of such works as would be proper to adapt the canal to the use of such locks.

In rendering their report, 6 the commissioners said that, from a careful consideration of the provisions of the act, it was apparent that the Legislature designed to give to the canal and its locks sufficient capacity for whatever transportation the country might require in the future. With the existing capacity of the canal, the section west of Syracuse furnished ample accommodation, and would for some time, but on the eastern section the want of adequate facilities was acutely felt and the crowding was rapidly increasing. In studying the problem of locating double locks, the commissioners considered the subject under three heads: first, what capacity should be given to the canal and locks east of Syracuse, and in what manner it should be afforded; second, what course should be adopted to afford sufficient capacity to the short reaches between some of the locks; third, what should be the lateral distance between the double locks and what their relative location.

In reference to increasing the capacity of the canal by doubling the locks, two methods were suggested -- by simply placing two locks side by side, and by building a second towing-path in addition to the double locks. By increasing the width of the canal for the free passage of four boats, and constructing a towing-path on the berme side, each lock would then be able to perform with equal advantage and no change would be necessary in the old locks. This course, however, was subject to great and insuperable objections; no boats could lie at rest In the canal for loading, unloading or any other purpose; all wharves, basins and slips would have to be made by cuts through the towing-path and the path would consist of a succession of bridges over these cuts. Without adding to the depth of water in the canal or the length of locks, the tonnage of boats could not be increased. It was not supposed that twice the number of boats could as conveniently be passed on the canal with double locks and with one towing-path, as were formerly passed with single locks and with one towing-path. When twice the capacity of the existing canal was reached, the double locks would have attained their utmost limit, and the commissioners believed, as they had a year earlier, that forty thousand lockages per season approximated the maximum capacity of double locks with a single towing-path. They estimated that this limit would be exceeded within eight or ten years, and that within a shorter period the locks would be unable to accommodate traffic during the busiest part of the season. Accordingly, they considered that a widened and deepened channel and enlarged locks were indispensable, if such ample provision for transportation were to be made as was evidently contemplated by the Legislature.

In regard to the short levels, or pound-reaches, the commissioners considered it desirable that water drawn from or thrown into a level at any single locking should not change its water-line more than six inches. They thought that the most advantageous arrangement was to change the locations of the locks so as to make the length of each level at least three and a half boat lengths, and to make the canal wide enough at these reaches to afford the necessary water for locking without injurious change in the level. The proper lateral distance between locks was determined to be twenty-six feet. This would afford space for the regulating or feeding sluice between the lock walls and would require that the canal above and below the locks should be excavated to the width of about seventy-six feet. Believing that the provisions of the law of 1834 were inadequate to satisfy the impending needs, the canal commissioners did no more than cause surveys to be made, submitting their report to the Assembly on January 31, 1835, thus giving the Legislature a chance to reconsider its action of the preceding year.

During the whole period of the first enlargement of the Erie, the canal policy was so closely connected with the financial condition of the State that a clear appreciation of the one is needed to fully understand the other. Indeed, the financial situation in 1845, which largely induced the Constitutional Convention of 1846, was almost entirely due to the canal policy. The history of this entire period is, in fact, as largely one of finance as of engineering or of constructive operations. It is accordingly proper, before considering further the progress of the events which led to the work of construction, to review briefly the situation.

In his annual message of 1833, Governor Marcy gave a concise summary of the State’s financial history for the past two decades. He said: "The general fund is almost exhausted, by the liberal contributions it has yielded to all the other funds, by the payment of the State debts, and by furnishing, unaided for the last five years, all the means for the ordinary and extraordinary expenses of the government. The revenue from this fund has at no time been sufficient, without the avails of a general tax, to satisfy the demands upon the treasury. In order to meet these demands, and to relieve our fiscal affairs from embarrassments, it became necessary, in eighteen hundred and fourteen, to impose a tax of two mills on each dollar of the valuation of real and personal property in the State. This tax was continued until eighteen hundred and eighteen, then it was reduced to one mill; in eighteen hundred and twenty-four, to half a mill, and in eighteen hundred and twenty-seven it was wholly discontinued. When the Legislature refused to continue the tax it was well understood that the general fund could not long sustain the burden cast upon it; that its capital would be rapidly reduced, and soon exhausted. Though this event has not approached so rapidly as was anticipated, it is now at hand, and this session should not, in my judgment, be permitted to pass away without providing the means, by the adoption of some settled plan, to satisfy the demands that must inevitably be made upon the treasury....

"The canals are rapidly accumulating the means for the extinguishment of the debt for which their income is hypothecated. When this object is accomplished, the tolls may, with fair claims of justice, be resorted to, for the means of replenishing the treasury, to an amount, at least, equal to the sum abstracted, for the benefit of the canals, from the general fund." 7

With reference to the method of securing funds, the Governor asks: "Shall we then ... accumulate a debt for the ordinary expenses of the government, trusting to the future appropriations of the income of the canals, for its repayment? ...

"Whether a resort to a general tax, moderate in amount, in order to provide the means to meet the exigencies of the government, shall be forborne, and a reliance be placed on the chance of deriving sufficient aid for that purpose from the duties on salt, and auction sales; or a debt shall be contracted, with a view to its redemption from the canal revenue, after it is relieved from its present hypothecation, are questions which may with propriety be left to the immediate representatives of the people. If upon due deliberation, you should determine to levy a tax, and leave the other revenues unanticipated and unimpaired, ... I feel the fullest confidence that the people will cheerfully acquiesce in the decision." 8

It must be remembered that Governor Marcy was Comptroller in 1827, when the levying of taxes was discontinued, and that at that time he disapproved of the new policy, and remained later, during his occupancy of the gubernatorial office, an advocate of taxes. But popular sentiment was opposed to taxes and they were resorted to in 1842 only as a temporary relief from the exigencies that confronted an almost depleted treasury.

As we consider the subsequent history of this canal improvement, it should be observed how the Legislature, in spite of Governor Marcy’s warnings, proceeded to authorize the enlargement of the Erie and the construction of the Black River and Genesee Valley canals, together with various works upon other lateral branches and a loan of $3,000,000 to the New York and Lake Erie railroad, without any adequate financial plan, trusting to the canal tolls and the salt and auction duties to maintain the waterways and to pay the expenses of the government and the cost of these improvements. When it was seen how slowly the public work must proceed under this plan, the Legislature, in 1838, sanctioned loans, but failed to provide a means for paying even the interest, except by the over-burdened canal tolls or by other loans. Of course such a system could not long survive, and in 1842, aided by a general financial depression of a few years earlier, the limit was reached and it became necessary to enact a law which should "provide for paying the debt and preserving the credit of the State" by imposing a tax and by abruptly stopping all public improvements. These experiences taught the people to restrict the power of the Legislature by what has been aptly termed a "new Bill of rights." This was done in the Constitution of 1846 by the article which required all appropriations of over a million dollars to be submitted to popular vote. After this revised Constitution had attempted to readjust and regulate the financial situation, new troubles arose, which only another amendment in 1854 could remedy. Indeed, from the beginning even to the end of the work in 1862, the lack of funds retarded the enterprise, so that operations were prolonged through a period of twenty-six years, whereas a quarter of that time was probably ample for the whole undertaking, if sufficient funds had been available. For constructing the original canal and for the second and third enlargements, financial schemes were adopted which authorized loans and provided for the payment of both the interest and the maturing principal, but during the first enlargement the very success of the canal seemed to militate against it, for so optimistic a view was entertained that dependence was placed upon the tolls to carry a greater burden than they could sustain. In this connection the arraignment by Governor Young, in 1848, of former Legislatures for their neglect to properly finance the undertaking, is noteworthy. All of these circumstances will be found recorded in their regular sequence. It should be noticed also how rapidly traffic upon the canals increased during this period, with but few backward strides, despite the lack of suitable facilities for transportation.

Still, it is not strange that the people of that day so thoroughly trusted the canals to pay for large improvements, as well as to help defray the expenses of the government, for the canals had succeeded for beyond their expectations. In 1825 the canal commissioners had allowed themselves to make some extravagant predictions, estimating what the tolls on the Erie might be for each year until 1836 and at the ends of the two succeeding decades. They placed the sum at one million dollars for 1836; two millions by 1846, four millions by 1856, and nine millions within fifty years. Thus far the tolls had exceeded this estimate for every year, and the prospects were bright for even a greater increase in the immediate future. Incidentally it may be remarked that in 1836 the tolls surpassed the prediction by four hundred and forty thousand dollars and in 1846 by almost half a million. With the comparatively limited expenses of the State government at that time, and the relatively large income from the canals, the people had begun to think that taxes need never be imposed again, for the waterways were looked upon as a veritable treasure house for supplying funds.

The Governor’s message to the Legislature of 1835 is worthy of notice, inasmuch as it sounded another unheeded note of warning against embarking on so great a scheme of improvement without an adequate financial plan. The Governor said that he regretted that the provision which had been made by the Legislature for doubling the locks on the Erie canal between Albany and Syracuse had not been accompanied by another almost equally necessary, providing for the enlargement of the capacity of the canal, as he deemed it important that the new locks should be made with reference to this latter improvement. However, the new locks were not then constructed and the matter was left to the consideration of the Legislature.

The Governor explained that the State was then facing either a loan, which was objectionable, or a direct tax for general expenses, as the general fund, though not originally intended for that purpose, had been used for several years, without being reinforced by the proceeds of taxation, not only for general expenses, but for large appropriations for deficiencies in maintaining the lateral canals, for draining the Cayuga marshes and the like. Not only was this the case, but specific sources of revenue, like the auction and salt duties, had been constitutionally pledged to the canal fund and had contributed to it more than five million dollars. The burden of supplying the deficiency in the revenues of the lateral canals from year to year, he declared, showed the wisdom of our original system of internal improvements and the effect of such a departure from it, and admonished us of the necessity of returning to it. "No government," he said, "that had a proper regard for its public credit or its permanent prosperity, ever contracted a public debt without providing a revenue for the payment of the interest at least, if not for its final extinguishment; and none that neglects to make such a provision, but supplies its necessities, whether ordinary or extraordinary, by loans, and provides for the interest on them by new loans, can long prosecute successfully public enterprises requiring large expenditures. I therefore deem it essential to the success of the system of internal improvements, that you should in some way provide adequate means for paying the interest on the public debt that must be incurred by its further prosecution." 9

Again he said: "I do not indulge the expectation that so unwise a course will be taken as to supply the means required for these purposes, by loans, without creating some special fund to pay the debt that will be thus contracted." 10 But despite this warning, subsequent Legislatures persisted in pursuing this very course.

However, as showing the continued prosperity of the canals, which warranted the expenditure of large sums for improvement, the Governor stated that the income from all the canals and the canal fund for the fiscal year of 1834 was $1,813,418.73. The whole canal debt was then $7,034,999.68, of which $4,934,652.68 was the unpaid balance of the debt created for the construction of the Erie and Champlain canals. For the payment of the balance, funds had accumulated to the amount of $3,002,576.30 The Erie and Champlain canal fund had yielded a revenue during the last fiscal year, beyond all the charges upon it, of $1,035,664.92; the tolls alone exceeded these charges by $587,850.61. Although the tolls had again been reduced in January, 1834, on merchandise and food-stuffs, the income from the Erie and Champlain canals from these sources alone was $1,313,155.84 for the fiscal year. The tolls of the same year were only $11,265.79 less than those of the previous year. The business on the Erie and Champlain canals had, therefore, increased nearly in the ratio of the reduction of tolls. 11

The improvement of the canal was generally conceded to be a necessity, but opinions widely differed concerning the proper policy to pursue. The sentiment favoring enlargement was no ill-advised, speculative effort, but rather a business-like, earnest movement to benefit the people of the whole state and country by providing a waterway capable of transporting through the state, expeditiously, economically and safely, all the products of agriculture and manufacturing that could be secured for that route. The structures on the canal had largely become impaired and a number would necessarily have to be rebuilt and it was deemed wisest to construct on an enlarged plan and for the prospective traffic rather than to build on the dimensions that were thought sufficiently large at the time of beginning the original canal. At this time every indication pointed to a rapid increase in canal traffic. A glance at the chapter treating of the influence of the canal will show how the prophecies of the projectors had been more than fulfilled, -- in the volume of commerce, the prevalence of general prosperity, the increase of population and the development of western territory.

Two subjects then before the public had a marked bearing on canal enlargement. Of first importance was the growing evidence that railroads were fast becoming a factor in the question of transportation and might soon prove to be dangerous rivals of the canals. Even then those most enthusiastically in favor of railways predicted that they would supersede canals, and advocated the plan of "converting the Erie canal into a rail-road." 12 The second subject was a project for a ship canal between Lake Ontario and the Hudson. Both of these matters received legislative notice during the session of 1835, and were the subjects of Assembly resolutions calling for investigations by canal officials.

The Erie railroad enterprise was then before the Legislature, and wishing to learn the comparative advantages of canals and railroads, the Assembly, on February 28, 1835, addressed a resolution to the canal commissioners, requesting a report on the relative cost of construction and maintenance of canals and railroads, the relative charges for transportation and an enumeration of articles that could be better carried by rail than by water. The commissioners selected the engineers, John B. Jervis, Holmes Hutchinson and Frederick C. Mills, to investigate the subject, and in submitting their report to the Assembly on March 14, 1835, they said:

"It is believed that it will not be difficult to shew, that the expense of transportation on rail-roads, is very materially greater than on canals. In addition to this, there are other important considerations in favor of canals.

"A canal may be compared to a common highway, upon which every man can be the carrier of his own property, and therefore creates the most active competition, which serves to reduce the expense of transportation to the lowest rates. The farmer, the merchant, and the manufacturer can avail themselves of the advantage of carrying their property to market, in a manner which will best comport with their interest." 13

In summarizing their report, the engineers declared their opinion that canals in general had decided advantages over railroads, saying:

"We may, however, be permitted to state, what appears conclusive from the facts presented, that canals, on the average, have thus far, cost less than rail-roads, both in their construction and repairs.

"In regard to their relative matters as affording the means of transportation, ... we find the relative cost of conveyance is, as 4.375 to 1, a little over four and one-third to one, in favor of canals: this is exclusive of tolls or profits." 14

Public sentiment, which demanded that some improvement in water communications be made, was reflected in an Assembly resolution on March 4, 1835, which referred to the consideration of the canal board the proceedings of a public meeting held in Utica on February 5, preceding, to take measures to effect the construction of a ship canal between Lake Ontario and the Hudson, also the resolution of the common council of New York in favor of this canal, together with the report 15 of an engineer, E. F. Johnson, on this project. People were becoming alarmed lest, by the failure of the State to provide adequate means for transportation, other routes would secure the traffic, -- as the memorial prepared at the Utica meeting expressed it, saying, "the States of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, and especially the Provinces of Canada, are making strenuous exertions to divert the trade of this important region through their own territories, and to their own markets," which "render it the imperative duty of the representatives of the people of this State early to undertake, and vigorously to prosecute, such a system of internal improvement as shall promise the most certain success in this generous contest with their enterprising neighbors." 16 In addition, the memorialists said: "The Erie canal, in its present state, will be unable to accommodate any material increase of business; and ... unless some adequate measures are adopted by the Legislature to secure to this State the advantages of the rapidly increasing trade of the western country, it will seek other channels of transportation and a different market, to the great prejudice of our commercial metropolis, and the loss of revenue and other incidental advantages derived from the passage of that trade through our own internal communications.... The plan of doubling the locks, recently adopted on a portion of the Erie canal, though it will doubtless increase its capacity, will afford but a temporary relief; and before that measure can be completed, the steady increase of the business will be found to have kept pace with the increased facilities which will be thus afforded; presenting to us the same alternative which now exists, of creating additional channels, or of yielding to others the benefit of the trade in question." 17

In reporting the results of their investigations on this subject, the members of the canal board conceded that some measures should be adopted to provide for the increased traffic, but disagreed with the Utica memorialists in thinking that a ship canal for either sailing craft or steamboats would be best adapted to meet this need. The difficulty of bridging such a canal seemed insuperable. The fact that steamboats had not yet superseded sailing vessels in carrying property on the lakes led the members of the board to believe that they were not destined so to supersede that kind of boat for the transit of property on lakes or rivers adapted for the use of both, they having been informed "by gentlemen of intelligence and experience in lake navigation, that it would be ‘impracticable as a regular business for steam-boats on the lakes, to tow vessels with safety, unless the vessels were fitted with masts and rigging and sufficiently manned to be conducted by sails in a storm.’ " 18

The report of the board’s engineers, Messrs. Jervis, Hutchinson and Mills, further emphasizes the fact that steam propulsion was not sufficiently developed to be serviceable on contracted channels, and that the cost of carriage by steamboats was not favorably comparable with the rate by ordinary canal-boats, even after the charge for a transshipment had been added. They conclude: "We are of opinion, a canal, designed for boats exclusively adapted to its navigation, and which may be towed by steam-boats on the Hudson, will best accommodate the prominent interest involved in the great trade, for which provision is to be made." 19

In their report the members of the board take occasion to express their views on the proper course for the State to pursue, saying: "The canal board entertain the opinion, that an enlargement of the Erie canal would be, in all respects, the best plan to accommodate the transportation between the Hudson river and the western lakes....

"At the last session of the Legislature a law was passed, directing the Canal Commissioners to double the locks, from Albany to Syracuse. This measure will increase the capacity of the canal, and accommodate the trade for a short period of time, but will not sensibly lessen the expense of transportation. It is however quite certain, that the time is not very distant when additional facilities will be necessary; and the Canal Board take this occasion to express the opinion that the enlargement of the Erie canal should be directed at the present session of the Legislature." 20

The result of this agitation was the passage of a law (chapter 274), on May 11, 1835, which authorized the canal commissioners to enlarge the Erie canal and to construct a double set of lift-locks, as soon as the canal board believed that public interest required such improvement. The questions of dimensions and of constructing an independent canal through cities and villages, instead of enlarging the existing works, were left to the determination of the canal board. At a meeting on July 3, 1835, the canal board adopted resolutions declaring that the work of doubling locks and of enlarging the canal should be commenced without delay, and that surveys should be started immediately. The canal commissioners, meeting at Utica on July 17, 1835, determined what considerations should govern the surveys for an enlarged canal. Estimates of cost were to be made for enlarging the prism to six feet depth of water and sixty feet width at water-surface, and also for a canal seven feet deep and seventy feet wide, except at difficult and expensive points, such as perpendicular bluffs or marshes, where the width could be limited to fifty feet. A study of additional water-supply was to be made, with a report on the formation of new feeders and reservoirs, and the engineers were asked to report also on the expediency of two separate canals in villages and cities where widening would cause the removal of buildings at considerable expense, and their opinions were desired in regard to the dimensions of locks best adapted to economy in transportation, for both sizes of enlarged canal.

The engineers in charge of these surveys and the territory covered by each, were as follows: John B. Jervis, from Albany to Fultonville; Nathan S. Roberts, from Fultonville to Frankfort; Frederick C. Mills, from Frankfort to Lyons; and Holmes Hutchinson from Lyons to Buffalo. The reports 21 of the engineers were submitted to the canal board on October 20, 1835, with estimates of the cost of contemplated improvements on both plans of enlargement, and of all the feeders and reservoirs required.

The reports treated at length of the size of aqueducts, the size of new locks and the dimensions of the improved canal, with carefully prepared recommendations on each. Mr. Jervis advised that the trunks of aqueducts be made fifty feet wide, with spans of eighteen feet between piers; that the locks be one hundred and ten feet long between quoins and sixteen feet wide, being placed in pairs, side by side, forty feet apart from center to center. He estimated that for favorable traction the old canal was adapted to a boat of thirty-one tons, a six-foot canal to one of seventy-one tons and a seven-foot canal to one of one hundred and three tons. He advised a seven-foot canal with seventy feet top width, showing that a seven-foot channel would require thirty-seven per cent more water than the old canal. Mr. Roberts favored a lock one hundred and ten feet between quoins and seventeen feet wide, and a canal six and one-half feet deep and seventy feet wide. Mr. Mills submitted plans of bridges for a seventy-foot canal in the type of the lattice Town. He estimated locks one hundred and ten feet long and sixteen feet wide. In relation to the water-supply for the eighty-five miles included in his section, he estimated that the old Erie required 13,755 cubic feet per minute, that 21,644 cubic feet would be needed for a six-foot depth and 25,147 cubic feet for a seven-foot canal. The report of Mr. Hutchinson gave complete specifications for the manner of constructing double enlarged locks, the basis for the specifications subsequently used in the construction. For the enlarged canal he advised forty-two feet bottom width, seventy feet top width and seven feet depth; locks one hundred and fifteen feet by seventeen feet; size of boats, one hundred and three feet long, sixteen feet wide and five feet draught, with a tonnage of one hundred and sixty-nine tons, exclusive of boat; cost of transportation, he estimated, would be one-half that by the old canal or, more exactly, as 0.54 to 1. The aggregate of the estimates, including the cost of a double set of lift-locks on the whole line, was: for the larger canal, $12,416,150.17; and for the smaller canal, $10,368,331.48. 22

To decide the dimensions to which the canal and locks should be enlarged was a question of so great responsibility, and one concerning which there was such a diversity of opinion, that the canal board felt that it must be dealt with most carefully. To change the boundaries of the canal necessitated the interference with private property, and the officials appeared to view this as a very delicate question, and they hesitated before making their decision, considering that the idea of disturbing the bounds of the canal for a second enlargement could not be entertained. After carefully weighing all of the information derived from the surveys and from other sources, the board decided that the canal should be enlarged to seven feet depth of water and seventy feet width of surface, and that the locks should be one hundred and ten feet long between the quoins and eighteen feet wide. As it was estimated that the enlargement of the canal would lessen the expense of transportation, exclusive of tolls, about fifty per cent, the board deemed it necessary to commence the work as soon as practicable, and to prosecute it with as much diligence as the funds appropriated to this object would admit.

The law authorizing the enlargement provided that the cost of constructing and maintaining the work should be paid out of any monies which might be on hand belonging to the Erie and Champlain canal fund. The funds at the disposal of the canal commissioners were too limited to justify a commencement of work on every part of the canal. It was, therefore, deemed advisable to confine operations to the line between Albany and Syracuse, until such time as the funds would justify a beginning on the other parts of the route. This arrangement would relieve the greatest crowding and thus, in a large measure, secure the advantages of an enlarged canal before the whole could be completed.

In his message to the Legislature of 1836, Governor Marcy reiterated his warning against endeavoring to carry on public works without an adequate financial plan, but this, like his former plea, passed unheeded. He said: "I have not been without apprehensions, and I still entertain them, that internal improvements cannot be long prosecuted on an extensive scale unless sustained by a wise system of finance. No new work can be executed without using the public credit, and however high that credit is at this time, it cannot be liberally used and long upheld without some financial arrangement that will inspire confidence at home and abroad.... The improvident practice of borrowing money without providing available funds for paying the interest, has already been carried to a point beyond which it cannot be pushed without producing serious mischief.... On a part of the debt already contracted for internal improvements, the interest can only be paid by new loans, unless you resort to taxes of some kind; ... Very few, I should hope, would advocate the reckless policy of contracting a debt, even for such an object, and constantly and rapidly accumulating it by loans to pay the interest.... Can we claim the continuance of public confidence on the assumption that a future generation will take better care of public credit than we are willing to do? ... The treasury is entirely exhausted, and you are therefore required to provide for the support of these canals, and to pay the interest on the debt contracted on their account for the present year, more than one hundred thousand dollars." 23

As early in the season of 1836 as the weather would permit, the greater part of the line from Albany to Buffalo was reexamined by the engineers. Experience during the previous decade had disclosed the places where the canal could be bettered in the plan of construction and in location, and the engineers determined to avoid some of the inconveniences to which navigation had been subjected. Especially troublesome were the short pound-reaches that were located at the nine locks above the junction of the Erie and Champlain canals, at the three locks close by and at the four locks above Cohoes falls. With the locks lengthened and the boats enlarged, the reaches would become still shorter and more troublesome. Therefore, after a very careful examination, the canal board decided in favor of an entirely new location for a distance of four and a third miles, leaving the old line about one and a half miles above West Troy and joining it again above the four locks. The estimates showed this plan to be more expensive than to enlarge the old route, but its importance and decided advantages were considered to more than counterbalance the difference in cost. The locks could be so located as to give convenient pound-reaches between them, and the lifts could be so arranged as to reduce their number from nineteen to sixteen, without making any lift more than ten feet.

The question of changing the location between Cohoes and Schenectady from the north side to the south side of the Mohawk was very important, and one that divided the members of the canal board. It will be recalled that this was one of the most difficult portions encountered in locating the original canal, and that then the best solution was thought to be the crossing of the river twice on long aqueducts rather than the attempt to remain on the south side. At this time, however, after thorough examinations, the engineers reported the change feasible. To dispense with two aqueducts across the Mohawk was very desirable, and also the possibility of doing the work in the most favorable season of the year, and under circumstances of less embarrassment than on the old line, was an argument with weight, but the idea of abandoning about thirteen miles of existing canal, where damages to private property had been assessed and paid, and business establishments had been built up, and where the damages by reason of enlarging the canal would be very limited in comparison with those on a new route -- this idea was calculated to make a strong impression against so material a change. The final decision was in favor of the old line. A rumor, which, however, cannot be substantiated from the records at hand, has gained considerable credence to the effect that the desire to gain needed political support and to please the people of Saratoga by not removing the canal from their county played a large part in influencing the decision.

Among the other important changes may be mentioned those at Utica. Here the width was to be contracted to sixty feet through the central part of the city; this contraction was adopted to avoid extensive damages to private property, although somewhat inconvenient for navigation. The surface of the water at this place was not much above the level of the street. To raise the water three feet would require the bridges to be elevated to an inconvenient height, and would materially injure the business located near the canal. To obviate these objections, the bottom of the canal was to be lowered three feet through the city and to the end of the Frankfort level. This plan would render it necessary to construct a three-foot lift-lock near the western boundary of the city, but would retain the surface of the water in the enlarged canal at the same elevation as in the existing canal.

It was decided to change the location of the aqueduct at Sauquoit creek to a position a few rods farther down the stream; this would straighten and improve the alignment. It was also decided to change the location of the aqueduct over the Oriskany creek and to change the line of the canal on each side of it, carrying the canal on the north side of the Oriskany factory. This change required a new canal for about half a mile in length. These alterations not only improved the alignment of the canal but permitted the construction of the aqueducts during the season of navigation, the most favorable time for work.

The two locks at Lodi (now eastern Syracuse) were found to be in such a dilapidated condition as to require rebuilding. They were placed very close together, leaving but a short pound-reach between them. To remedy this inconvenience it was decided to change the location of the upper lock, carrying it twelve chains farther east, and there to build a set of double locks on the enlarged plan. It was also decided that the location of the lock at Syracuse should be ten chains east of the existing lock. This had a lift of only six feet, but as the Syracuse level was to be cut down two feet, the enlarged lock would have a lift of eight feet. The stone aqueduct over Onondaga creek, which partially failed in the summer of 1834, and over which navigation had been kept up by a wooden trunk of the width of a single boat, was required to be rebuilt for the enlarged canal. The enlargement through Syracuse was so intimately connected with the construction of the locks and the aqueduct, that it was determined that work for about three miles should be put under contract at once.

Beginning August 22, 1836, a number of proposals were received for constructing various sections and structures of the enlarged canal. The majority of the work for which proposals had been made was put under contract, the balance not being let because the bidders did not procure the necessary security to insure the faithful performance of their contracts. Many of the contractors began work in this year. The estimated cost of the work under contract was $3,035,087.44. The canal commissioners stated that, had not the enlargement been authorized, $550,000 of this amount would have been required for necessary repairs, and they further stated that according to their calculations the amount let in this year would consume the tolls applicable to enlargement for 1836-7-8-9, and, therefore, under these conditions, no more work could be let until 1839. Moreover, they deemed it their duty to state that there were several places on the canal where its immediate enlargement would be advantageous to navigation. So important did they consider this subject that they reiterated the statement in their annual report for the following year (1837), and they added that they believed that public interests would be essentially promoted by as speedy a completion of the whole canal as "the facilities for obtaining means and proper economy in reference to the expenditure" would justify.

By the first of July, 1836, the surplus revenue derived from the Erie and Champlain canal fund had amounted to a sum amply sufficient to pay off the remainder of the debt ($3,582,502.73) contracted for the construction of these two canals. By this event the auction and salt duties were discharged from the constitutional pledge securing them to that fund and were restored to the treasury for general purposes. But there was yet a further canal debt of over three million dollars, contracted on account of the Oswego and lateral canals, on which, as payment from their several revenues was the sole source of funds for extinguishment, the prospect of discharging the debt was considered very faint and distant. The total tolls for the year ending September 30, 1836, on the Erie and Champlain canals, was $1,548,536.18 and the whole income of the fund belonging to these canals from all sources was $1,947,483.61; and after deducting all expenses, the net revenue was $1,341,934.36. 24

During the legislative session of 1837, there appeared the first intimation that the enlargement would cost more than the amount reported a year before. In reply to a Senate resolution of February 21, "whether from the surveys, examinations and estimates [then] possessed, they [believed] said enlargement [could] be completed at the cost heretofore estimated, and if not, at what additional cost, including damages to individuals," 25 the canal board said that they did not believe that the work could be completed for the sum previously estimated, because plans for some of the structures had been changed, parts of the alignment had been altered and probably other deviations would be made, and the cost of construction was greater than when the estimates were made. They had no further surveys on which to base their opinion, but they did not believe the additional cost would be large, exclusive of damages, the amount depending upon the prices of labor and materials. No estimates of damages had been made, as the statute provided that these should be adjusted by three appraisers appointed by the Governor and the Senate." 26

During 1837 several important changes were decided on by the canal board. A new location at Rome had been authorized by a special act 27 of the Legislature. It will be recalled that the original Erie canal had been built about half a mile south of the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company’s works, which had extended through the southern part of this village, and that, at the time of the celebration attending the opening of the canal in 1825, the villagers had shown their disapproval of the change by marching through the streets to the solemn beat of muffled drums. The surveys of routes by the old canal and by a new line were reported to the commissioners on May 25, 1837. The estimates showed a difference of $22,590.85 in favor of the existing location, but by the adoption of the new line the construction of a section of the Black River canal would be obviated, which was estimated to lessen this amount by $9,000. The saving of about half a mile of distance on the Black River canal and of eleven hundred feet on the Erie, and the advantages of better accommodations for the citizens of Rome were counted as benefits to outweigh the additional cost. Therefore, it was determined to construct an independent canal, which brought the course back to near the location of the old Navigation Company’s channel.

Another important deviation was at the Jordan level. What was known as the Jordan level of the old canal was a summit level, twelve miles long, having a lock of eleven feet lift at each end. It was decided to cut this level down, thus dispensing with the locks. Two lines were surveyed for an independent canal -- one to the north and one to the south of Lamberton’s hill. The line to the south was decided by the canal board to be the more advantageous, commencing a short distance east of the lock at Nine Mile creek, which was taken in as a feeder, and running south of the old canal about two miles, where it crossed the old channel, and then continuing on the north side to the village of Jordan. This change would save one mile in distance and $18,323.72 in cost, besides the annual expense of repairs and attendance of a set of double locks at each end of the level.

The commissioners reported that a large amount of work had been done on the locks during 1837, but not as much as had been desired, and that the contracts for other structures and for canal sections had progressed satisfactorily. In closing their report they made a strong appeal to the Legislature of 1838 for a more liberal supply of funds, in order that the undertaking might be pushed with vigor, calling attention to the reduced freight rates and the increased tolls that would follow its completion.

Reviewing the situation of 1837, Governor Marcy, in his message, admitted a falling off of $275,000 in tolls from those of the previous year, the gross amount being but $1,326,781 for the fiscal year. Used as channels of trade, the canals necessarily participated in its fluctuations. In consequence of the scanty crops of 1836, the eastward tonnage was diminished, as was also the amount of merchandise sent westward. The income of the Erie and Champlain canal fund, from all sources, was $1,426,071.78. Of this amount $632,881.20 was expended on the enlargement of the Erie. The estimates for unfinished works of internal improvement, including enlargement of the Erie canal, were $15,000,000. The completion of the aqueduct at Rochester was urged as a necessary measure to keep up the business of the canal in case of the failure of the old aqueduct. In the Governor’s opinion a still larger appropriation might be advantageously used for improvements. The channel of the Erie canal, he said, was at least as eligible for western trade as any that could be opened and both duty and interest required that it should be made adequate to the public wants without delay. The Governor recalled his previously unheeded messages as to the necessity of a financial system to meet the interest charges and ultimately to extinguish the principal of the public debt. 28

The appeal of the commissioners for funds brought a response in the form of a law, directing a loan of four million dollars, but before its enactment the Assembly adopted a resolution which reflected the growing sentiment that the State had under taken too large an enterprise. The effect of the financial panic of 1837, with its suspension of specie payments, was becoming evident. This resolution called for an opinion from the canal commissioners as to the most practical plan for completing the work of doubling locks, without the immediate enlargement of the prism. In reply the commissioners said, that, after the act of 1835 had directed the enlargement of the Erie canal, they had regarded the policy of the State on that subject as settled, and had made all plans and arrangements on that supposition, but they added that no work had been placed under contract that was not necessarily connected with the use of the new locks, except short sections at Albany, Utica and Syracuse. However, if the whole project could not be completed, they recommended that certain necessary portions be undertaken, saying:

"The work for the enlargement of the canal not under contract, that in the opinion of the Commissioners ought to be immediately commenced is: the doubling of the locks from Albany to Syracuse; taking in additional feeders and enlarging the canal near the locks; rebuilding the lower aqueduct across the Mohawk river, building aqueducts over the Schoharie and several other creeks between Schenectady and the Little-Falls; enlarging the canal through the east part of the city of Utica and building an enlarged weigh-lock at that place; re-building the aqueduct over the Oneida creek and enlarging the canal at the ends of it; cutting down the Jordan level and taking in a feeder from the Nine-mile creek; building an enlarged weigh-lock at Rochester; and enlarging the canal through the mountain ridge, re-building the locks at Lockport, and the guard-lock at Pendleton." 29

To carry out this recommendation the Legislature enacted a law 30 authorizing the commissioners of the canal fund to borrow four million dollars on the credit of the State, and directing the canal commissioners to put under contract, with as little delay as possible, such portions of the work as their report had described in the paragraph just quoted, and also "such other portions as in the opinion of the canal board [would] best secure the completion of the entire enlargement, with double locks on the whole line." The canal board decided that the additional parts should be the Irondequoit embankment and the heavy embankments in the Mohawk valley. During 1838, the work authorized by the law was put under contract, except at the Irondequoit embankment, which was delayed to make surveys for a new route. It was alleged by certain petitioners of Monroe county that a saving of several miles could be made. Although the survey verified this statement, it showed the cost by the new line to be more than twice that by the old, thus causing the canal board to decide on the enlargement of the existing canal.

At several places in the valley of the Mohawk river navigation was often interrupted by the streams that crossed the line of the canal. In planning the enlargement in this valley, one great object was to cross on aqueducts all the large streams, which were then taken into the canal. This was considered indispensable. Perhaps the most troublesome of these had been the Schoharie creek. On the west bank of this creek the canal was locked into the stream, which it crossed in a pool formed by a dam across the creek. At a point four miles above there was another lock, and about midway on this section the canal crossed another large creek in the same manner. These were turbulent streams and occasioned much trouble to navigation. Accordingly, it was determined to raise the level of the canal sufficiently to cross both streams on aqueducts. It was also decided to cross Indian Castle creek and the streams at Fort Plain, Canajoharie and Sprakers by aqueducts.

The engineers estimated that the cost of the work then in progress (1838), at contract prices, would amount to $10,405,913.38, exclusive of engineering, superintendence and contingencies. This estimate clearly indicated that the total expense of enlarging the canal would greatly exceed the amount reported in 1836. In explaining this difference, the canal commissioners stated that the estimate given in 1836 was made in 1835, while the question of dimensions, was still pending, and that it was made chiefly for the purpose of showing the comparative costs of the two proposed sizes. They declared that the surveys and estimates were made in too short a time -- three months -- to allow the making of well-developed plans or a proper study of conditions. Many necessary changes and improvements had greatly increased the cost. They called attention to the fact that the law authorizing the work of enlargement was passed in 1835, before the estimates had been made, and accordingly the amount reported in 1836 should not be taken as the basis for legislative action; also that the canal board, in submitting the estimates to the Legislature in 1836, was careful to state that, although they were made with all practicable care and correctness, they could not be considered with much certainty, and great allowance should be made for the short time and the difficulty of estimating under existing circumstances.

The aggregate canal tolls and water rents for the fiscal year, 1838, were stated in Governor William H. Seward’s ensuing annual message to be $1,481,602.41. Repairs and collections, now termed maintenance, were $639,714.32, leaving net proceeds of $841,888.09. The gross income of the Erie and Champlain canal fund was $1,553,136.84. Of this $449,058.64 had been expended for repairs, $129,374.05 for interest and $26,892.65 for sundry payments, leaving a balance of $947,811.50 in the fund. During the same period the commissioners expended $1,161,001.80 on the Erie enlargement. Under the act of April 18, 1838, they borrowed, including premiums, $1,005,050, leaving a deficiency of $155,951.80, which was also paid from the above surplus, reducing the fund to $791,859.70. Moreover, the tolls of the laterals were but $58,264.76, while their expenses, including interest on construction funds, were $229,160.59, and this deficiency was, as usual, loaded upon the fund, still further reducing it to $562,699.11.

The Governor advocated limiting the term of office of the canal commissioners to bring them within closer reach of the appointing power, in the interests of economy. One-fourteenth of the sum received for tolls was expended in salaries and, including repairs, almost one-half of the entire tolls was absorbed. Such a system, he thought, was without doubt capable of advantageous revision. With extended improvements the official power and patronage of the commissioners and the canal board had been enlarged to an immense and unlooked-for extent; but little publicity or accountability was required; a great, mysterious and undefined power had thus grown up unobserved, while the public had been narrowly watching less important functionaries. It was suggested that a board of internal improvements, composed of a number from each senatorial district, would be more economical and efficient. "It is the worst economy," said the Governor, "to devolve upon officers constituted for one department, duties appurtenant to others. Its universal results are diminished responsibility and diminished efficiency in both the principal and incidental departments." 31 This was in the line with Governor De Witt Clinton’s suggestion of a "board of public improvements," made in 1822 and renewed in 1825.

Governor Seward took a much more hopeful view of the financial situation than had his predecessor, seeming to reflect the popular sentiment that the canals were fully able to pay the cost of enlargement. He said: "Taxation for purposes of internal improvement is happily unnecessary as it would be unequal and oppressive ... The present resources and credit of the State shew that the most ardent advocates of the [canal] system failed altogether to conceive the vast tribute which it has caused already to flow into the treasury.

" ... their productiveness would warrant the State in expending in internal improvements $4,000,000 annually during a period of ten years; ... the revenues of the canals alone would reimburse this expenditure previous to the year 1865 ... It [the State] has increased four-fold the wealth of its citizens, and relieved them from direct taxation; and in addition to all this has carried forward a stupendous enterprise of improvement, all the while diminishing its debt, magnifying its credit, and augmenting its resources." 32

However, the Governor saw the danger that might ensue. Continuing, he said : "This cheering view of our condition ought to encourage neither prodigality of expenditure nor legislation of doubtful expediency.... Rigid economy ought to be enforced, and perfect accountability exacted." 33

In answer to an Assembly resolution of February 20, 1839, the engineers submitted to the commissioners a report 34 of the cost of work completed, of that under contract and also of that yet to be put under contract, including amounts for engineering, superintendence and contingencies. This estimate amounted to $23,402,863.02. The following statement of the main items that were omitted in the estimate of 1835 shows to some extent in what the difference between the two estimates consisted: -- damages, about seven per cent; enlarging the West Troy side-cut and doubling its locks; five additional aqueducts in the Mohawk valley, including necessary changes of the canal at those places; additional width of excavation through the mountain ridge at Lockport and at various points on the line; additional width to the berme and towing-path embankments; two weigh-locks; five weigh-lock houses and scales; increased dimensions, and improved quality masonry in locks, aqueducts, culverts and bridges, increased amount of slope wall -- the estimated cost of these items was $6,143,969. This amount together with $12,416,150 -- the estimate of 1835, -- increased by thirty-three per cent, or $4,097,329.50, for the rise in the cost of labor, provisions, team work, etc., makes a sum total nearly equal to the estimate just stated.

The only act, passed at the session of 1839, which appropriated money for purposes of internal improvement, was one directing that $75,000 be used for improving the navigation of the Oneida river.

The gross receipts of the canals for 1839 (fiscal year), including water rents and land sales, were $1,656,902.11. The ordinary charges were $459,987.59, to which was added $139,111.78 for the Glens Falls feeder, the Black River canal and feeder and the Tonawanda and Ellicott creek improvements and payment of previous liabilities under special acts, leaving the net tolls $1,057,802.74. 35

The canal commissioners reported that a large amount of work had been done on the enlargement during 1839, but not so much as was contemplated, because, on account of the anticipated difficulty in obtaining the balance of the loan authorized in 1838, the contractors had not been pressed to a vigorous prosecution of their work. With the uncertainty of being promptly paid for their labors, the contractors had preferred to proceed with caution. This uncertainty was due to the deplorable condition of the State’s finances. The sudden and calamitous revulsion in the business prosperity of the entire nation, which had culminated in the panic of 1837, the cessation of specie payments by the banks, the fear that the worst was yet to come, and above all, the persistent draining of the treasury for expenses of government and works of improvement, through the failures of the various Legislatures to provide an adequate system of finance -- such conditions tended to cast an all-pervading gloom over the people and to cause them to lose confidence in the solvency of the State. The result of this state of affairs was of course felt by the canal authorities. Money could not be readily borrowed and the stock brought very small premiums; in fact the credit of the State was in jeopardy and, although the enlargement was looked upon as a necessity and much had been done already, it became necessary to curtail expenditures in order to protect and rehabilitate the credit of the State.

Governor Seward, in his message to the Legislature of 1840, endorsed this idea of retrenchment, but favored the plan of proceeding with as much energy as the circumstances would allow, saying:

"During the severe [financial] pressure we have experienced, the industry of the citizen has been stimulated, and the wages of labor, the prices of the products of the earth, and the value of property have been sustained by expenditures in the prosecution of this [canal] system. The sudden arrest of such expenditures, and the discharge of probably ten thousand laborers, now employed upon the public works, at a time when the circulation of money in other departments of business is so embarrassed as almost to have ceased, would extend throughout the whole community, and with fearful aggravation, the losses and sufferings that as yet have been in a great measure confined to the mercantile class."

Referring to the project of enlarging the canal, he said: "The act of 1835 directed the enlargement to be undertaken when the canal board should be of opinion that public interest required the improvement, and its extent was submitted to their discretion. It will not, I hope, be deemed disrespectful to remark that the first step in the great undertaking, the delegation of the legislative power to a board not directly responsible to the people, was a departure from the spirit of the constitution, so unfortunate in its consequences, that it should remain a warning to all future legislatures. The expense of the enlargement is now estimated at $23,402,863; yet the law by which it was authorized passed without any estimate having been submitted to the Legislature, and with scarcely any discussion. If completed on the present scale, the canal will surpass in magnitude every other national work of internal improvement; yet all the responsibilities in reference to the dimensions and cost of the enlargement seem to have been cast off as unworthy the consideration of the Legislature." In reference to the revised estimate for the completion of the Erie enlargement and the Black River and Genesee Valley canals, he continued: "The confidence of the people in the policy of internal improvement, has sustained a severe shock from the discovery that the state was committed by the Legislature to an expenditure of thirty millions of dollars, for the completion of three works alone, upon estimates of the same works rising only to about fifteen millions." 36

The Governor devoted the greater part of his message to an advocacy of the canals, but admitted that "apprehensions prevail that the public credit may become too deeply involved in the prosecution of works of internal improvement." "The policy indicated by public sentiment," he said, "and demanded by the circumstances of the times and the condition of the state, is to retrench the expenditures upon our works of internal improvement and prosecute the system with moderation and economy." In regard to securing funds for public works, he said: "The existing and anticipated revenues of the canals must be, as heretofore, the basis of any new loans which the Legislature shall see fit to authorize, since taxation for purposes of internal improvement deservedly finds no advocate among the people." And he added, -- in a vein which showed with what confidence the canals were looked to for supplying funds: "Unlike other communities, this state borrows no money for purposes of war or defence, to pay salaries or pensions or the interest or principal of former loans, or even to endow institutions of learning, benevolence or religion. Her income is sufficient for her wants, without taxation; the value of her productive property is double the debt she owes; her surplus income is double the interest she is required to pay; and the revenues derived from her canals, if judiciously managed, will be adequate to every enterprise which the interests of the people shall demand." 37

Mr. George W. Lay, member from Genesee county, of the committee on canals and internal improvements, to which was referred so much of the message as related to canals and internal improvements, agreeing with the Governor, thus reported: "The present condition of the finances of the country, and the general embarrassment pervading every portion of the United States, in consequence of the deranged and unsettled state of the monetary affairs, has had a tendency alike to alarm the timid, and shake the confidence of the more cautious, in regard to the policy to be pursued in future, as to our system of internal improvements." 38

Continuing, the report says: "The enlargement of the Erie canal to the dimensions fixed and established by the Canal Board has been for the last three years considered as a question definitely settled. It was a subject deliberately examined, thoroughly investigated and discussed, and as solemnly adopted. No trivial, transient, temporary cause now existing, ought, for one moment, to disturb or unsettle a decision so important to the interest of the people, and the prosperity and credit of our State. It is not now to be decided whether the people would have consented to adopt the several projects which have involved the State in the expenditure of the large sums of money which will be required for their completion. Had they foreseen that the estimates upon which these works were based would prove so entirely inadequate; or could they have anticipated so sudden and unexpected a revulsion in everything connected with the business and prosperity of our country, your committee are satisfied that more cautious counsels would have prevailed, and we should not now be called upon to deliberate and decide what measures should be adopted to guard the honor and credit of our State, and protect the right and property of our citizens.... The representatives of the people approved of the undertaking, and year after year they have given the most unequivocal demonstrations that their confidence in the utility and value of public improvements, judiciously made and carried on, remains unshaken." 39

In spite of repeated assertions from canal officials that nothing short of an enlargement of the whole canal would afford more than temporary relief, the Assembly again raised the question of abridging the enterprise. In reply to a resolution of March 2, 1840, asking the canal board "whether, in their opinion, any change [could] now be made advantageously to the public interests in the plan, dimensions or manner of execution of the work adopted for the enlargement of the Erie Canal, so as to lessen the expense of that work; and also, how long a period of time [would] be required to complete most advantageously to the public interests, the enlargement of said canal;" 40 the officials answered 41 that, in their opinion, no changes ought to be made in the plan, dimensions and manner of executing the work. The object of the enlargement was to remedy those defects which had been so frequently explained. To change the plan and dimensions, they argued, would be to defeat the very object of the enterprise, namely, to cheapen transportation and to accommodate the increasing traffic. Moreover, to vary the details of existing contracts, especially after much progress had been made in their performance, would be vexatious, embarrassing and difficult. With regard to the structures thereafter to be put under contract, the board was of the opinion that a cheaper style of masonry could be adopted for bridges, culverts and aqueducts, but such a change would impair their strength and durability. As to the time required to finish the enlargement of the canal, that would depend upon the resources of the State, and the Legislature would be able to determine in each year the amount of work that could be judiciously undertaken.

The Legislatures of 1840 and 1841 were constrained to adopt a policy of retrenchment. However, they persevered in the construction of public works, but with moderation and economy, trying to guard against a dangerous increase of debt and the possibility of taxation, in order that the whole debt of the State might be kept within such bounds that the interest should not exceed the net revenue from canal tolls, and that any increase in the revenue might be applied to the payment of the debt.

During 1840 a loan of $2,000,000 for the Erie, $500,000 for the Genesee Valley and $250,000 for the Black River canal was authorized, 42 and in 1841 another 43 of $2,150,000 for the Erie, $550,000 for the Genesee Valley and $300,000 for the Black River. As indicating the anticipated stoppage of all work in the near future, it is significant to notice that, with the exception of a lock at Black Rock dam and some work at Rochester, these acts restricted all operations to such as were necessary to render available the work then in progress and to prevent the interruption of navigation. During 1840 very satisfactory advancement was made, the season being unusually favorable, and the effect of the suspension of public works in neighboring states becoming manifest in the reduced price of almost every kind of labor and material. In 1841, however, the need of funds was more severely felt, not enough being available to complete the work within the time specified in the contracts.

To digress a moment, we observe that during the legislative session of 1840, a concurrent resolution was passed, giving consent to the construction by the Government of the United States of a ship canal around the falls of Niagara, and requesting the Senators and Representatives of the State in the Congress of the United States to use their best efforts to secure the passage of a bill for this purpose.

Still digressing, we notice another interesting fact. "The first bridge in America consisting of iron throughout," said one recently, "was built in 1840 by Earl Trumbull over the Erie Canal, in the Village of Frankfort, N.Y. In the same year Squire Whipple, Hon. M. Am. Soc. C. E., also built his first truss bridge." 44

The gross receipts of the canals for tolls and rents for the fiscal year 1840 were $1,606,827.45 and the gross charges, exclusive of interest on loans, $586,011.87, leaving a net revenue of $1,020,815.58, a slight falling off from the previous year. But the tolls and rents received during the entire season of navigation were $1,775,747.57, showing a gratifying increase of $159,365.55. The canals were navigable from the twentieth of April to the fourth of December. The depth of water and consequently the tonnage of boats was increased, thus reducing expense of transportation. The Erie enlargements were prosecuted with vigor so far as permitted by appropriations. The amount expended for this enlargement prior to January 1, 1840, was $4,669,661. The appropriations and canal revenues of that year were $2,869,171, making an aggregate for this work of $7,538,832. In reviewing the year’s work, the Governor said that the experience of the present commissioners justified the belief that the cost of the enlargement would not exceed the corrected estimates of 1839, or $23,112,766. There would, therefore, be required to finish the enlargement, $15,573,934. That portion lying between Albany and Rome, said the Governor, might be completed in the spring of 1843; the part extending from Rome to Rochester by the spring of 1845; and the residue, from Rochester to Buffalo, by the spring of 1847. 45

Again in 1841, Governor Seward advocated the policy of retrenched expenditures and perseverance in the construction of public works, with moderation and economy; also the referring of all unfinished works to competent engineers to determine what portion could be safely delayed; the establishment of what he termed a canal board to prevent erroneous estimates and inconsiderate legislation; and the limiting of all issues of stock so that the interest charges should not exceed the net canal revenues. This policy was not, the Governor said, to be regarded as one of abandonment but of retardation for the sake of economy. 46 The Governor had made these same recommendations in his message of a year earlier.

In 1841 there was introduced in the Assembly a measure which was destined to play a large part in the future financing of the canals. Says a recent writer, in speaking of this proposition: "The theory that all legislative power is vested in the legislature had for many years been applied in actual legislative practice in a manner not always conducive to public interest, and which did not exhibit a clear appreciation of legislative responsibility. Some persons began to think that the legislature had too much authority, and that it should not have unlimited power to create debts, appropriate money, and impose taxes. This opinion was expressed in concrete form by a proposed constitutional amendment offered in 1841 by Arphaxed Loomis, a member of assembly from Herkimer county, and who was afterward an influential member of the Convention of 1846, which provided that every law creating a debt against the state must specify the object of the indebtedness, must be limited to one object only, which must be specifically stated, and could not take effect until approved by the people at the next general election. The prohibition did not apply to debts created for the purpose of repelling invasion, suppressing insurrection, or defending the state in war. It will be observed that the proposition did not permit the legislature to create indebtedness within the moderate fixed limit to meet emergencies, as provided by the section adopted in 1846, and which has since continued in force. The proposition is significant as an attempt to vest in the people control over all legislation creating state debts. It is known in history as ‘the people’s resolution.’ It is evident that public opinion was not yet ready for such a radical change of policy, for the proposition failed in the assembly by a tie vote of 53 to 53. In 1842 many citizens petitioned the legislature to incorporate the principles of this resolution in appropriate amendments to the Constitution. The resolution was again introduced, but was not passed, and not till 1844 did the legislature go so far as to propose amendments embracing these restrictions on legislative power." 47

In view of the cessation of canal improvements in 1842, it is interesting to note a statement of the commissioners in regard to the business transacted in 1841. The gross amount of tolls, they say, was $2,034,882, an increase of $259,135 over those of 1840, or about fourteen per cent. At one of the locks there were 30,320 lockages (an average of one every ten and a half minutes), or more than twelve per cent over the preceding year. They stated that "the lockages required to pass the boats had become so numerous and frequent that the channel of the canal had not sufficient capacity to pass the necessary amount of water without great delay and embarrassment; that the difficulty did not consist (as had been generally supposed), in any want of capacity in the locks to pass the boats, if sufficient water could be passed through the channel, but in the want of capacity of the channel itself." 48

When the Legislature of 1842 convened, the financial affairs of the State were at a crisis. Governor Seward seems to have considered the situation less serious than it really was. Probably Governor Bouck, after a lapse of a year, was in a position to view the conditions more clearly, as we shall see presently. Doubtless Governor Seward’s zeal for the welfare of the canal and his faith in its self-sustaining ability overshadowed his perception of the difficulties that threatened a continuation of work under existing conditions. In his annual message, he said, in substance: If we would preserve the inestimable benefits of inland navigation, save the treasury from embarrassment, maintain the public faith, prevent general distress, retain our commercial precedence and political influence, and guard against the dismemberment of our territory, it is necessary to complete the enlargement of the Erie canal throughout, and with all convenient diligence. Speaking of the canal debt, he said: "Large as this sum is, there is no reason to suppose that it passes our fiscal ability.... The debt is large because the enterprise is great. It remains for you to decide whether the indebtedness shall be made larger, or whether you will devise a different system of finance; but if the present system and progress are continued, the entire enterprise will be accomplished in 1846.... The canal revenues [may] ... extinguish the debt incurred in their construction within fifteen years thereafter; after which these great public works will continue to pour into the treasury a river of tribute." In conclusion, he said: "I recommend that all the future revenues from the National Domain shall be pledged as a sinking fund to the extinguishment of the principal of the public debts, ... If seventeen millions of dollars are yet required to complete our public works, the system I have suggested would in 1855 discharge the whole of our present and future indebtedness. 49

Viewed in the light of subsequent history, perhaps Governor Seward’s faith was justified and it may be that the better way would have been to have pushed the work to completion, at the expense of increasing the debt, but the State’s best financiers of the time could see no way out of the difficulty but to precipitately suspend operations and order a tax to satisfy the creditors of the State.

In describing this period Governor Bouck said: "The Legislature of 1842 convened at a period of great embarrassment in the financial affairs of the State. The treasury was empty; our credit seriously impaired; the State stocks were selling at ruinous sacrifices; temporary loans were nearly at maturity; the time for the quarterly payments of interest on the public debt, amounting to more than $20,000,000, was fast approaching; contractors were pressing for payment, and the progress of the public work virtually suspended. Under such circumstances to have continued large expenditures, or indeed any not demanded by imperious necessity, or good economy in reference to the condition of the public works, and that good faith due to our citizens with whom the State had existing engagements, would in my opinion have been a wanton disregard of public duty." 50


The First Rochester Aqueduct

Reproduction of an old print, published during the construction of the original Erie canal;
design was also used for decorating china.

On March 7, 1842, Mr. Michael Hoffman, of Herkimer, from the committee of ways and means, to which was referred so much of Governor Seward’s message as related to State finances, reported 51 to the Assembly. After carefully considering the whole financial situation, the State debt -- given by the report as $26,226,092.80, of which the canal debt was $19,086,466.22 -- the demands upon the State for the next four years and the means or lack of means for meeting those demands, the committee presented its opinion of "the necessary course and safe policy of the State," recommending that expenditures should cease, that a tax of one mill on the dollar should be levied, that the funds subject to State control should be invested in loans to meet the pressing demands of the canals and that a sinking fund should be established. In speaking of the canals, the report said that public works were already suspended; that their progress was no longer in doubt, for time, circumstances and the reckless course of the past had decided it, and had arrested that progress; that the question then was, whether by a desperate and impracticable effort to revive that progress, the credit of the State should be destroyed utterly; and that new loans for further expenditures could not be made "except on terms at once disgraceful and ruinous to the credit of the State." In its conclusions the committee was supported by the clear and frank opinions of some of the ablest financiers in the state, -- such men as Albert Gallatin, George Newbold, John G. Palmer and C. W. Lawrence, who had given their opinions, at the request of the committee.

The Legislature adopted substantially the recommendations of the committee, passing an act (chapter 114), which provided for raising a tax of one mill on each dollar of real and personal estate, thus changing a policy which had been in force since 1827. The law further enacted that the whole of the proceeds of this tax in 1842 and one-half of the proceeds in the ensuing years should go to the general fund, the other half being paid to the canal fund, and that the commissioners of the canal fund might borrow certain sums to meet the immediate demands on that fund. That part of the act which dealt the most severe blow to the canals was a clause directing that all further expenditure on the public works then in process of construction should be suspended until the further order of the Legislature, except such work as was necessary to secure navigation or to preserve the parts already done. This law was described in the Convention of 1846 and became known later in executive messages as "the policy of 1842," but among the people at large and in canal and department circles it has been commonly referred to as "the stop law of 1842." In what condition it left the project of enlarging the Erie will be seen by the subsequent reports of canal officials; how it affected the various lateral canals may be learned by a perusal of the chapters dealing with those branches of the system.

In view of this action by the Legislature, it is of interest to observe a memorial 52 that was presented to the Assembly on March 26, 1842, by several citizens of Niagara county, praying for the incorporation of a company which should be authorized to complete the Erie canal enlargement and the Genesee Valley and Black River canals, on certain conditions. Declaring their reason to be a desire to finish so important a work without interruption, to avert a tax and to place the credit of the State upon a firm foundation, they asked the privilege of forming a company, with a capital of $25,000,000, for the purpose of completing these canals by January 1, 1845, seeking in return a portion of the tolls for a limited term of years.

Reviewing the events of the year, Governor William C. Bouck said, in reference to the act of 1842, that the praiseworthy and patriotic exertions of the last Legislature to relieve the State in the crisis of our pecuniary affairs was worthy of all commendation; and if the policy then adopted had resulted in some injury to individuals, it should be ascribed to the necessity of the case, rather than a willingness that any portion of our citizens should suffer detriment. The policy of arresting large expenditures and providing for the prompt payment of the interest and a gradual diminution of the State debt, had exerted a salutary influence in reviving our credit. The question of a direct tax, rendered necessary by the exigency of our affairs, had been clearly approved by the people, but direct taxation, said the Governor, should not be regarded as a permanent measure of finance for the purpose of constructing public works, but as one of a temporary nature, called for by an existing emergency. All future appropriations should be made with reference to as speedy a relinquishment of the tax as public credit and the general welfare of the State would permit.

He also observed that very little if any of the work had been undertaken for the enlargement of the Erie canal during 1842 that was not rendered necessary by the worn and decayed condition of the mechanical structures. As to the benefits of the improvement, he said: "Already has the transportation on the canal been much benefited by the use of the new work between Albany and Schenectady, at Phillip’s locks, and at the Little falls. At these points the navigation has been entirely relieved from the detention and delay which had been sensibly felt for several years." 53

The low prices of labor and provisions at the time were considered by the Governor as highly favorable to a successful prosecution of the work, with due regard to the public welfare and great caution as to increasing the public debt, already too large. That the State had the ability eventually to complete all her works, which had been commenced, could not, in his opinion, be questioned.


Second Genesee River Aqueduct

The present aqueduct, replacing the original smaller structure, was completed in 1842. A recent photograph.

From the report of the canal commissioners for the same year (1842), it may be noted that numerous structures requiring but little to complete them, were so completed and put in operation during the year. These included several important aqueducts and among them the new stone aqueduct over the Genesee river at Rochester, which was brought into use in April. The bed of the river underneath was lowered to give better passage to the water, by the excavation of 39,000 cubic yards of limestone. The aqueduct crosses the river by seven arches of fifty two feet span each, resting on six piers and two abutments, each ten feet thick. The arched portion extends 444 feet, and the whole length, including wing-walls, is 800 feet. The waterway is forty-five feet and the parapets are ten feet thick, making width of trunk, over all, sixty-five feet. The height of the aqueduct is twenty-seven feet. The structure is built chiefly of gray Onondaga limestone and contains about 17,000 cubic yards of masonry.

In the spring of 1842, the double locks Nos. 3 to 18 (since known as the "sixteens"), together with the five sections of enlarged canal upon which they were situated, were brought, into use.

The report 54 of the canal commissioners for 1842 gave full and detailed account of the condition of the whole line as it was left at the cessation of active operations.

In the cities of Albany, Schenectady and Rochester there was complaint that the public had been seriously discommoded by the unfinished state of bridges on streets intersected by the canal. The large sum already expended on these structures and the small amount necessary to complete them tended to aggravate the public mind.

It will be remembered that at Rome a new location had been selected. When work was suspended in 1842, the contractor had nearly completed parts of this independent line and had commenced excavation over the whole. In the summer of 1841 the exposing of muck and decayed vegetable matter from this excavation had the effect of causing many severe and some fatal cases of fever in the village. Soon after the Legislature adjourned in 1842, the citizens of Rome called the attention of the acting canal commissioner to the fact that disease had resulted from the unfinished state of the work, alleging also that the relative positions of the village and canal and the porous soil had caused the draining of most of the wells, and strenuously urging that the channel should not be left in a condition so perilous to public health. The commissioner felt himself constrained, by the act of 1842, to forbid any further progress being made. Thereupon the citizens made arrangements which secured the prosecution of the work, completing the section as an independent line in 1843. The commissioners referred the matter to the Legislature. By concurrent resolution in March, 1844, this independent line was authorized to be brought into use by the canal commissioners, if it could be done at less cost than by the old route, the resolution, however, repudiating any liability to the State for its construction.

While the canal board, other State officials and the Legislature seem to have been in full sympathy with the policy of the Executive, there was, of course, along the line of the canal, strenuous opposition to the cessation of work. Petitions, memorials, legislative resolutions and minority reports were in evidence, urging the continuation of operations.

In his message of 1844, Governor Bouck again referred to the conditions which made the act of 1842 necessary. He summed up the situation by saying: "Our necessities required loans, and they could not be made without doing something to revive and invigorate our credit. This was effectually done, not only by arresting the progress of our public works, but by resorting to taxation, and by pledging the avails of the State tax, and the surplus income of the canals, to the public creditors. Such were the objects of the law of 1842, and the wise policy of the measure has been vindicated by its happy results." 55

He advocated placing a constitutional limit upon the public debt in times of peace, and restricting the power of the Legislature to create a debt. This was along the line of the proposed constitutional amendment introduced by Assemblyman Loomis in 1841.

Horatio Seymour, then of the Assembly committee on canals, to which was referred so much of the Governor’s message as related to that subject, presented an exhaustive report, 56 strongly condemning the policy of 1838-1842, and making the pledges and guarantees of the act of 1842 the basis of the policy recommended for the future. He showed that, if the sound financial policy that Comptroller Flagg endeavored to establish in 1836 -- the policy of imposing a tax to replenish the general fund, so that the revenues of the canal might be used for their improvement -- had been followed, the canal debt would not have reached the enormous sum of $23,851,575.66 at the beginning of the year 1844. Although the necessity of the enlargement had been admitted, and the propriety of imposing a tax to enable the canals to enjoy the full benefit of their surplus revenues had been urged, the creation of any debt had been decidedly opposed by the Comptroller and its evils pointed out. The policy of 1838 -- of borrowing large amounts -- was ruinous to the State and after a period of four years had checked the progress of the enlargement. The very magnitude of the appropriations and the vast amount of work put under contract simultaneously -- all contributed to increase the expense of every undertaking by the State. To show more fully the evils of this change of policy, the report considered what would have been the condition of the canals, had not this change been made. The amount of tolls for the years 1837 to and including 1843 was $11,843,524.49; the expenses, interest on debt, etc., for the same years amounted to $5,013,288.05; a surplus remained of $6,830,236.44, which would have admitted an annual revenue of more than $1,200,000, to be applied toward the enlargement of the Erie canal, a sum which the committee considered quite as large as could be advantageously and economically applied in any one year.

In closing, the report said: "The issue, which has been made between improvements on the one hand and finances on the other, is a false and unnatural one.... We may and should have in this State a liberal system of internal improvements, furnishing the elements of and predicated upon a sound financial policy." 57

Both in 1844 and in 1845, the canal commissioners replied, in answer to legislative inquiries, that, with the exception of minor improvements made under special laws for the purpose of bringing certain nearly completed sections into use, the unfinished work of the Erie enlargement remained in about the same condition as when work upon it was stopped by the law of 1842, although the loss to the State, as well as to the contractors by disintegration of the unfinished work, was considerable.

Speaking of events in 1844, Judge Lincoln says: "The legislature at this session proposed a constitutional amendment confirming the pledges and guaranties of the act ‘to provide for paying the debts and preserving the credit of the state,’ passed in 1842; also an amendment limiting the aggregate debts in any one year to $1,000,000, without a vote of the people, providing for the creation of a sinking fund, and the payment of the debt and interest in eighteen years. These propositions, except the first, became a part of the Constitution, and were embodied in §§ 10 and 12 of article 7 of the Constitution of 1846." 58

The disconnected lines of railroad running parallel with the canal were already reaching out for further privileges. The argument used for their construction had been the greater rapidity offered for passenger traffic, to which the canal was not adapted and which branch of traffic, incidentally, had never been a paying factor of canal revenue. Through the Legislature they now asked for and obtained the right to carry freights during the season of the suspension of canal navigation, on payment to the State of canal tolls. 59 This drew a strong remonstrance from those interested in canal traffic and an effort was made in 1845 to obtain its repeal. The committee’s report 60 is of interest as showing the cost of the canals to the people of the State and as foreshadowing the danger of allowing this entering wedge of competition to continue. The law, however, was not repealed and the fears expressed by the petitioners and the committee were soon to be realized.

As to the influences which bore upon the question of coming competition between the railroads and the canals, Judge Lincoln, adverting to the granting of the charter to the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad Company in 1826, by the same Legislature which received the felicitations of Governor Clinton on the "auspicious consummation" of the great canal enterprise, says: "The state invited into the field of transportation a rival which was destined to become its master; and then was initiated a competition to which the state was finally compelled to yield." And again he says that "during the ten years beginning with 1826 the legislature granted 106 railroad charters, besides enacting several other laws relating to railroads. It was thus evident that the new motive power had entered on a sharp competition with the state. It did not take long to convince the statesmen of that period that stringent measures would be necessary to limit the extent of the new competition, and efforts were made from time to time, by means of the taxing power, to compel the railroad companies to contribute a portion of their earnings for the purpose of reimbursing the state for losses which the canal traffic must inevitably suffer by the new method of transportation. This new movement found its first expression in the charter granted in 1833 to the Buffalo & Black Rock Railroad Company, which required the company to pay the commissioners of the canal fund the same tolls on goods carried by it, except personal baggage, as might be charged for the same goods transported by the Erie canal, and the tolls were not limited to the season of canal navigation. Two other charters granted in 1834 contained a similar provision. Two charters granted in 1836, one in 1837, one in 1838, and one in 1839, required the payment of tolls only during the season of canal navigation. In 1840 Governor Seward, in his annual message, questioned the wisdom of imposing these tolls on railroads, and suggested that if they were to be continued they should be collected only during the season of canal navigation. 61

In 1844, as we have just noted, the charter of the Utica and Schenectady Company was amended so that they might carry goods "during the suspension of canal navigation in each year only" on payment of tolls. "Tolls were, by the same statute, required from several other railroad companies not previously subject to this tax, covering nearly the whole line from Albany to Buffalo." 62

Other railroad charters followed in 1845 and 1846, imposing tolls, and in 1847 the payment of tolls was required by statute from all the companies along or near the line of the Erie and Oswego canals, nearly all of which were afterwards consolidated into the New York Central Railroad Company.

The total amount of tolls paid to the State by the six railroads between Albany and Buffalo for freight transportation from November 29, 1844, to April 15, 1845, during the season of closed navigation was $10,458.24. The commissioners remark that this was about the average of one day’s tolls upon the Erie canal. An investigation was had to ascertain what, if any, further amount was due, but nothing seems to have resulted from it.

In 1845 Governor Silas Wright devoted a large share of his annual message to a discussion of financial conditions, the canals forming the central theme. He advocated the proposed constitutional amendments adopted by the preceding session, but the Legislature of 1845 failed to pass these propositions again, evidently preferring to leave the whole subject to a convention, for an act was passed submitting the question of a constitutional convention to the people at the November election. If approved by them, the convention was to be held in 1846.

In the opinion of the Governor, the Legislature overstepped its authority in attempting to enact a law which would provide funds for recommencing a part of the work stopped by the act of 1842. In returning the measure with his veto, the Governor explained that, although he could approve the greater part of the law, there were some provisions that, while appearing to come within the restrictions imposed by the act of suspension, really violated the spirit of that policy. 63 Thus the Governor constrained the Legislature to abide by its former pledge to protect the creditors of the State, the measure not being passed over his veto.

In 1846 Governor Wright, in speaking of the results of 1845, advocated the continuance of the financial policy with reference to the canals which had been followed since 1842. He advised the application of the canal revenues to the extinguishment of the debt, and in general expressed a hopeful view of the situation.

The canal commissioners, in response to legislative inquiry, reiterated their statement of the preceding year, that, with the exception of special work ordered by the Legislature to improve navigation, the condition of the canal improvements remained substantially the same as when work was suspended thereon in 1842, although the loss to the State by disintegration of unfinished work amounted to many thousand dollars.

The canal commissioners had asserted in their annual report for 1845 that to complete the system of double locks on the Erie canal between Albany and Syracuse, including the completion of certain other structures necessary to bring the locks into practical use, would require an estimated expenditure of about $295,000. Twenty-nine of the forty-nine locks were entirely completed; three more were doubled, but the old locks had not been lengthened; most of the other seventeen had been started, and several were all but completed. In considering the subject of canals, the Legislature of 1846 asked for a further estimate for the remainder of the line, from Syracuse to Buffalo, and in their reply the commissioners gave the estimated cost of doubling all the locks, except the guard-locks at Pendleton, Tonawanda and Black Rock, as $1,599,664. The gates of these guard-locks were not generally closed during the season of navigation and it was not supposed that double locks at these places were necessary to give to the canal a capacity equal to that east of Syracuse.

The most important feature of the year 1846, in relation to the canal, was the Constitutional Convention. The Legislature having failed for several consecutive years, for reasons political or otherwise, to approve several much needed amendments, which had been urged upon their attention by the Executive, that method of relief from existing conditions had been abandoned. Public sentiment had crystallized in the form of petitions from twenty-four counties of the State to the Legislature of 1844, calling for a convention, and in 1845 the question was submitted to the people, who gave the proposition their approval at the following November election, with but little opposition. The Convention met from July to October, 1846. Their chief object was probably the reorganization of the State judiciary system, but their labors also in relation to the canals of the State, their financial policy and the harmonious blending of the numerous and conflicting interests, opinions and policies, constituted no inconsiderable feature of their work. The strong personal, commercial and political prejudices, which had been in active controversy for several years, were to be placated, if possible, upon a basis which would secure peace and the prosperity of the canals, so closely interwoven with that of the State.

Judge Lincoln’s close study of the canal questions before the Convention, of the attitude of the participants therein and the final results renders his opinion of unusual and critical value. He says: "The debate [on canals] took a wide range, covering the whole field of canal history, and involving a discussion of policies, principles, political parties, and individuals." 64 A few delegates, unalterably opposed to the canals, advocated their sale, but many, who had been so opposed, changed their opinions upon proof of their great utility to the State. The friends of the uncompleted Genesee Valley and Black River canals, which had already cost the State the sums of $3,794,000 and $1,544,000, respectively, and which could be completed for a comparatively small amount, were able to secure their inclusion among the "constitutional" canals, which could not thereafter be alienated from the State. This was doubtless a long step toward their early completion.

The canal article is thus summed up by Judge Lincoln. He says: "The article, as a whole, preserved the credit of the state, pledged its revenues for the redemption of all state obligations, provided for the enlargement of the Erie canal and the completion of the Genesee Valley and Black River canals, authorized direct taxation to meet deficiencies, and prohibited the sale or other disposition of the canals." 65 It clearly defined the limits of future expenditures and also provided for a generous allowance from the canal revenues toward the payment of the general expenses of the State government, without imposing a direct tax upon the property of the people of the State. This confirmed the policy of supporting and maintaining the State government chiefly from the tolls of the Erie canal, as had been done in previous years." 66 The system of State maintenance by indirect taxation had not then attained the prominence it now has.

The seventh article of the Constitution provided that from June 1, 1846, there should be set aside out of the revenues of the State canals, after paying the expenses of collections, superintendence and ordinary repairs, the sum of $1,300,000, each year until 1855, and from that time on, the sum of $1,700,000, as a sinking fund to pay the interest and redeem the principal of the canal debt; also the sum of $350,000 for the general fund debt, until the extinguishment of the canal debt, and after that the sum of $1,500,000, as a sinking fund for the general fund debt. After paying these amounts from the surplus revenues of the canals, $200,000 was allotted yearly for defraying State expenses, and the remainder of the revenues might be applied to the completion of the Erie enlargement and the construction of the Genesee Valley and Black River canals. After eight years, the appropriation for the expenses of the State government might be increased, under certain conditions, to $350,000, until the general fund debt should be paid or the work of canal enlargement or construction, just mentioned, should be accomplished; after that period, the sum might again be increased to $672,500.

The new Constitution, which was framed by the Convention, was by the terms of the governing statute submitted to the people for ratification in November following, and was approved with little opposition. It went into effect January 1, 1847.

Governor John Young, at the opening of the Legislature in 1847, said that the propriety of completing the enlargement of the Erie canal was a matter about which at that time there could scarcely be said to be any diversity of opinion; also that good faith forbade the abandonment of the Genesee Valley and Black River projects. "When we recur to the fact," he observed, "that the revenues of our canals, including the interest on cash revenues, amounted, for the year ending 30th September, 1846, to nearly two millions eight hundred and fifty thousand dollars, with what entire confidence may we not rely upon the income of the canals to protect us against taxation on account of the present State debt, and for its ultimate extinction? -- I speak now of the revenues to be derived from the canals in their present condition, assuming that the capacity of the Erie canal will not permit of a material augmentation of its business. Secure the trade of the great opening west, by enlarging the Erie canal, and how unimportant is our present indebtedness considered in connection with the revenues that may reasonably be expected." 67 Undoubtedly the fact that the annual tolls from the canals had by this time increased to nearly three million dollars was a powerful argument to support the optimistic views of the Governor and the friends of the uncompleted Genesee Valley and Black River canals, as well as those of the Erie enlargement.

The Governor also adverted to the charges of extravagant construction and expenses of superintendence on ordinary repairs, and asked the Legislature to consider a change to a system of repairs by dividing into sections and letting the repairs by contract. Such a law, he said, passed the Assembly of 1846, but failed in the Senate. Evidently the Governor did not then realize the objections to this system of repairs by contract, which were so prominent when that system came into vogue later on in the history of the canals.

The canal commissioners were evidently preparing to resume operations upon the suspended work of the improvements, in view of the popular trend of sentiment in that direction. They presented revised estimates for the Erie enlargement, -- both on the plan of one enlarged lock by the side of the old one, and for two enlarged locks, -- between Albany and Syracuse; the former to cost $334,000 and the latter $639,000. The completion of double enlarged locks at Lockport was to cost $170,000; the enlargement between Syracuse and Rochester was covered by the estimates of the previous year." 68

The last half of the year 1846 was occupied by a legislative committee in investigations generally as to fraud and extravagance in connection with prior canal construction. In addition to charges of that character, relating to the Genesee Valley canal, the committee devoted much of their report to alleged unauthorized work at Black Rock harbor, and to the construction of the flight of locks at Lockport. Their report to the Legislature of 1847 is embodied in a volume of several hundred pages and was published as Assembly Document No. 100, of that year. This bears the distinction of being the first important legislative investigation of the canals. While the committee asserted that plentiful evidence of extravagant methods and more or less corrupt practices was discovered, they refrained, from lack of time, to pursue the subject far enough to formulate specific charges against individuals and only asked that an extra number of copies of their report be printed and circulated. The memorials to the Legislature of the officials most interested, in their own behalf, were also published and appear as Senate Documents Nos. 93, 94 and 109, of that year.

In 1847 work was resumed on the canals of the state, the Legislature having made provision by appropriating funds from the surplus revenues, as provided by the new Constitution. In fact, more was appropriated than was realized from the tolls, and succeeding Legislatures continued this same practice year by year, anticipating a part of the next year’s revenues, till the sum amounted to several hundred thousand dollars. The Legislatures of these years seem to have been continually striving to hasten the work beyond the limitations imposed by the Constitution, until their efforts culminated in 1851 in the temporarily successful but ill-advised scheme of selling the future income as canal revenue certificates.

The Legislature of 1847 inaugurated the work with the idea of primarily completing the enlarged locks, as we notice that the first act (chapter 259), making an appropriation ($300,000) for the Erie, directed that one enlarged lock should be built at each point where a lift-lock was necessary, and then, if funds were available, a double set of locks, and after that such other work as seemed best to the canal commissioners. This law, however, provided that, of the total cost of enlarging locks, only the additional amount which the larger size would cost, more than a new structure of the original size, should be chargeable to this account, the remainder being paid for as ordinary repairs. Another act of this year (chapter 445), appropriating $559,000, provided for specified structures, for doubling locks and enlarging a portion of the channel. Other laws of the year granted funds for work on some of the lateral canals.

The canal commissioners, in their report for the year 1847, called attention to the scarcity of feed-water for the great number of lockages required by increasing traffic. For the Rome level they advised the use of Cazenovia lake as a reservoir. They reiterated the statement, which they so often made since the work of enlargement first began, that the proposed doubling of the locks would not of itself increase the capacity of the canal, unless the prism also was enlarged.

It is of interest to note the attitude of the half dozen railroads competing with the canals at this early period in their history. Originally franchised for passenger traffic, they were later permitted to carry freight during the winter only, and that only upon the payment of canal tolls to the State. Already they were in every possible way attempting to evade and withhold the payment of such tolls. We have previously noticed the legislative investigation in regard to this subject. In 1847 it became necessary to impose a punitive measure, providing a fine for non-compliance with the law, in the hope that this would bring complete returns. The matter was referred to in the annual reports of the commissioners of the canal fund for 1846 and 1847.

From the latter report it appears also that the traffic of the Erie canal was increasing year by year beyond the most sanguine expectations of its friends. Inventories of the boats and craft upon the canal were taken at least three times between 1844 and 1848, by which it was shown that the number of boats had increased from 2,126 in 1843-4 to 4,191 in 1847-8, or ninety-seven per cent. There were in use at this date the following: 62 "packets" of 31 tons average; 621 "line boats" of 68 tons; 736 "lake boats" of 67 tons ; 319 "bull-head boats" of 72 tons ; 1,095 open "scows" of 65 tons; 1,358 decked "scows" of 69 tons; all valued at about three million dollars. The total tonnage capacity had increased from 117,453 in 1843 to 279,260, or one hundred and forty-one percent, of which ninety-eight per cent was in 1847, practically after the resumption of the work of enlargement." 69

Governor Young, in his message of 1848, advised the Legislature that the canals had yielded the enormous revenue of $3,473,484.60 for the previous fiscal year, with expenses of $643,766.08, leaving a surplus of $2,829,718.52. Out of this were taken contributions to the various constitutional sinking funds, under article 7, to the amount of $1,850,000, leaving $979,718.52, constitutionally pledged to the Erie enlargement, and the Genesee Valley and Black River canals. This entire balance had been appropriated by the Legislature of 1847. The Mexican war was then in progress, with its expenses, and the President, in the line of economy, had vetoed the river and harbor appropriations for the Great Lakes. This naturally interfered with the free development of lake traffic coming to the canal, and called forth criticism from the Governor, who, however, took an optimistic view of the situation and urged forward the completion of the enlargement.

Reviewing the canal policy of the past twelve years, the Governor gave utterance to significant words, which show how the financial situation was viewed so soon after the stringent conditions that induced the stopping of all active operations. After speaking of the necessity which prompted the enlargement of the Erie, he said: "In 1836 the State engaged in the construction of the Black River canal, to connect Lake Ontario and the Erie canal, through a broad region deprived of facilities of access to market; and also the Genesee Valley canal, designed to connect the head waters of the Ohio with the Erie canal, and make its trade tributary to New York.

"The estimated cost of all these works, submitted by the proper department, was $15,475,201. The work was prosecuted, with quite inadequate appropriations, till 1838, when, by an elaborate examination of the financial condition of the State, made by a committee of the House of Assembly, it was shown that the works might be prosecuted more vigorously, because, while they were estimated to cost only about fifteen and a half millions, the revenues of the canals alone were such that, if necessary, the State might expend thirty millions of dollars, and receive full reimbursements of that sum from the canals before 1857; or even forty millions, if necessary, and be reimbursed from the same revenues before 1865, without the resort to any tax, or the diversion of any of the other revenues of the State. This calculation was based on an estimate of such a constant increase of revenues from all the canals that in 1849, ten years after the completion of the enlargement, the revenues of the canals would reach three millions of dollars. This estimate, not only in its comprehensive results, but in its minute details, has been subjected to the test of time. The enlargement has not been completed, and the year 1849 has not arrived, but the calculation has been fully verified, and the tolls have already reached to nearly the sum of three and a half millions of dollars. The State adopted, in 1838, the more vigorous policy, based on this calculation, and pursued it until 1842, notwithstanding the discovery was made, in 1839, that the cost of the canals, instead of fifteen and a half million of dollars, as at first estimated, would rise to the sum of thirty millions four hundred and forty-five thousand five hundred and eighty-seven dollars. It is now clearly seen, by the demonstration of time and experience, that if the State had firmly and prudently persevered in that policy to the end, we should now, without having paid any taxes, or incurred any necessity for taxation whatever, have had free navigation from the great lakes, through Jefferson and Lewis and Oneida counties, to Rome; and from the Allegany river, through Allegany, Livingston, and Monroe counties, to the Erie canal and the lakes; and a canal seventy feet wide and seven feet deep, with durable double locks, and firm and capacious aqueducts, from Lake Erie to the Hudson river.

"Thus our great system of inland navigation would have been completed and perfected; the tolls and cost of transportation on the Erie canal would have been greatly reduced; a considerable portion of the expenditure reimbursed; the remaining cost of these structures would have been discharged in 1857, and the State left in the enjoyment of revenues, even at such reduced rates of tolls, of not less than five millions of dollars per annum. Instead of occupying this high vantage ground, we are now resuming the Genesee Valley canal, which was relinquished after one third of it had been constructed -- the Black River canal, suspended when one-half completed, and the enlargement of the Erie canal, abandoned when nearly one-half of the cost of the enterprise had been paid. We resume these works after having paid about half a million of dollars of damages to contractors -- after having lost for five years the interest on more than fifteen millions already expended, and incurred unascertained losses from the waste of materials and the dilapidation of unfinished works and structures.

"But our constituents, with creditable unanimity and enlightened urgency, expect the Legislature will sanction the most energetic efforts that can be made under circumstances so peculiar to complete enterprises which are no longer of merely speculative importance, but have become, through the lapse of time, the advance of the country, and the vigorous rivalry of competitors for the western trade, indispensable to our prosperity and to the maintenance of that high ascendancy hitherto secured to us by the enlightened and energetic policy of our predecessors." 70

Comptroller Flagg followed in much the same vein, saying: "The sum actually expended on the enlargement, exclusive of interest paid on money borrowed, is $12,989,851.76. If the policy of applying the surplus tolls to the enlargement of the Erie canal had been adhered to, the work at the present time would have been much nearer completion than it now is, and the debt of $10,122,000 for that object would not have been incurred. If the surpluses had been expended annually as they accrued, an economical application of the money would have been made, and a much greater amount of work would have been executed with the same amount of money than was practicable, where jobs to the amount of ten or twelve millions of dollars were going on at the same time.

"It should be understood, however, that the Legislature of 1835, did not adopt the recommendation of the Canal Board, to apply the whole surplus to the enlargement, but appropriated $300,000 of the canal tolls for the support of the government, the deficiency of the revenues of the lateral canals being then chargeable to the General Fund. In 1841, these deficiencies were made a charge on the canal tolls, and the payment to the General Fund was reduced to $200,000." 71

By the terms of the Constitution of 1846, the office of Surveyor-General, which had existed under and since the government of the Province of New Netherland, was abolished and the office of State Engineer and Surveyor created, to be chosen at a general election, to hold office for two years, and to which office none but a practical engineer should be elected. The office then created has been continued to the present day. Charles B. Stuart, of Geneva, was the first incumbent, assuming office on January 1, 1848.

During the last year of Governor Young’s administration (1848), canal matters were comparatively quiescent, after the frequent changes of policy of the previous decade. The improvements upon the Erie canal were, however, "progressing as rapidly as the limited constitutional appropriations would permit," in the language of his successor, Governor Hamilton Fish. The money was expended mainly on bringing into use the double locks yet remaining to be completed and on improvements for the better sheltering of lake craft and the transfer of their cargoes at Buffalo and Black Rock harbors. At Buffalo the work had been suspended for a time on discovering an imperfection in the title of certain lands covered by the improvements and deeded by the city to the State, as will be found in detail in the chapter describing the adjuncts of the Erie canal at Buffalo.

The Legislature was evidently desirous of hastening the completion of the line of double locks on the Erie, and sought from the canal commissioners information as to the cost. The latter, however, discouraged this movement, as it would prevent them from making some very desirable changes in alignment and in lock location, which they had planned. They requested authority to relocate certain locks (between Syracuse and Rochester) and to do the necessary section work to bring them into use, as well as to diminish their number, if deemed best, for economy in maintenance; they also desired temporarily to lengthen locks between Syracuse and Rochester, and to convert Conesus lake into a reservoir for better water-supply.

The commissioners, at the request of a Senate resolution of February 27, 1849, explained in detail the dimensions of boats, locks and prism of the enlarged canal, which were first adopted by the commissioners, and the changes which had since been made. In the law authorizing the enlargement, the sizes of prism and locks were left to the canal board. Surveys and estimates were made and in 1836 the board adopted the plan providing for seven feet depth of water and seventy feet width at surface; the locks were to be one hundred and ten feet between quoin-posts and eighteen feet wide in the chamber. The depth of the original canal, it will be remembered, was four feet, the bottom width, twenty-eight feet, and the surface width, forty feet; the towing-path was two feet above water-level and ten feet wide; earth slopes were one on one and one-half. The first improved plans provided for a bottom forty-two feet in width and the slopes were changed to one on two; the width at top of banks was eighty-one feet, water-surface seventy feet; at a point three feet below surface the width was fifty-eight feet. Upon each side of the prism was what is termed a bench, upon which a slope wall was built, to prevent the wear of the banks by the swell caused by passing boats. This wall was carried one foot in perpendicular height above the surface of the water, and the banks were raised with earth two feet above the top of the wall. By this plan there was nothing in the angle of the towing-path to prevent the earth above the wall from being carried into the canal by the towing-rope. This method of construction obtained until work was stopped in 1842. As the benches and bench walls were the cause of so much trouble and expense in their removal in later years, it will be well for the reader to refer to the diagrams of sections, shown in Part Two of this volume, [EDITOR'S NOTE: actually in Volume II, Part 2, Chapter 1.] that a clear idea of the construction may be had.

Experience had demonstrated that the towing-path had become worn down to the slope wall and the earth moved by the towing-rope into the canal. The slope was thus toward the prism and the loose earth was washed in. Even stone curbing was tried and frequently thrown out by the towing-rope. It will be observed that by this change the difference in surface width was thirty feet, while the bottom width was increased only fourteen feet. Thus the navigable width for boats drawing six feet of water was but forty-six feet. A comparison of diagrams will at once show that the capacity of the enlarged canal for boats of six feet draught was but little increased over that of the old canal for boats drawing three and one-half feet; and that in neither case could three loaded boats pass at the same time. Boats of light draught would readily ground on the bench, if nearer than fourteen feet to the top of the bank, especially when the water was lowered at night. Frequent slides of the bench occurred, carrying the wall with it.

In 1848, therefore, the commissioners adopted a change of plans, in which the top width between banks was seventy-five feet; at water-surface, seventy feet; at three feet below surface, sixty-two and one-half feet; and at bottom, fifty-two and one-half feet. Another reference to the diagrams will show that a somewhat different section, with steeper banks, was adopted for the eastern division. The towing-path slope wall was carried to the top of the bank, with paving in the rear of the top stone, thus passing the towing-rope without damage. The towing-path sloped so as to drain away from the canal. Three boats, drawing six feet of water, could pass abreast and approach much nearer to the bank. This increased the canal capacity nearly one-third; was easier, safer and required less repairing.

In regard to locks, the commissioners stated that those of the old canal were 90 feet by 15 feet, both at top and bottom, admitting boats 78 feet long by 14 feet 6 inches beam. The enlarged lock was 14 feet 8 inches wide at bottom; the side walls were beveled or sloped to a point three feet above the miter-sill; from this point the walls were battered one-half inch to the foot, so that at a point 7 feet 8 inches above the bottom the chamber was 18 feet wide. Of the 110 feet length, 7 feet 9 inches were allowed for the upper miter-sill and bumping timber, reducing the length to 102 feet 3 inches. Of this space, the lower gates, when being opened to pass a boat out, would occupy, when one-fourth opened, 3 feet 8 inches; when one-half opened, 5 feet 6 inches; and when three-fourths opened, 6 feet 5 inches, leaving room for a boat 95 feet 10 inches long; if sharp forward, 96 feet 9 inches, and if of packet form, 98 feet 7 inches. Evidently the boats best modeled for easy towing and capacity, and calculated to draw within a foot of the bottom, could not be more than 15 feet 6 inches in width, unless the bevel was removed, in which case boats could be 17 feet on bottom. Why this form of lock was adopted, with its beveled and battered walls, the commissioners of 1849 could not tell, but they supposed it was for the purpose of bracing the walls from within. However, they said that an examination of old lock walls, built twenty-five years before, showed no displacement below water-line, only failing where frost affected them. The commissioners were then authorizing locks without bevel, and intimated that the "big bevel" would require to be removed at some future period. 72

In the report of Charles A. Olmsted, eastern division engineer in 1850, further reference to the "big bevel" may be found. Changes in boat-building had progressed more rapidly than the canal enlargement. Navigators had learned to regard burden rather than speed in modeling their craft. Mr. Olmsted said that in 1836, at the beginning of the enlargement, the engineers, in examining the effect of the old lock walls upon their foundations, where part had been removed for repairs, found that the bank-pressure at the rear had tipped the tops forward, making a chamber narrower at the top and indenting the foundation plank beneath the face in proportion to the inclination. To secure a broader base and avoid this difficulty the "big bevel" was adopted. Boats built after the model then in use (1850) were of seventeen and one-half feet beam at bottom, and, of course, could not draw more than four feet of water unless the bevels were removed. On the Black River canal the bevels, so constructed, had been removed at the cost of fifty dollars per lock. It was believed that on the Erie canal they could be removed for about one hundred dollars per lock.

During the season of 1849 an epidemic of Asiatic cholera swept over the state, which was fatal to thousands of its people. This interrupted commercial business to some extent and diminished transportation, yet the receipts from canal tolls increased nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Cazenovia lake was brought into use, temporarily, as a reservoir during this year. The surveys begun the previous year for the remaining enlargements were continued. In order to pass sufficient water east to Montezuma, the commissioners caused a special examination to be made by Engineer Henry Tracy. From his report the commissioners adopted an increased size of prism, one hundred feet in width at water-surface by eight feet deep, at what was termed "the mountain ridge," west of Lockport.

By an act, passed April 3, 1848, the office of canal auditor had been created, and by this action the commissioners were enabled to give more of their attention to other matters and less to details of accounts, as well as to introduce a more perfect system of accountability. The act became effectual at the beginning of the following fiscal year. From his ensuing report it appears that, although the constitutional surplus applicable to canal improvements in 1849 was but $907,102.71, the appropriations for such purposes were $1,200,000, of which the Erie (by chapter 217) was to receive $920,000, and the Black River and Genesee Valley canals $140,000, each.

Shortly after the "Stop law" of 1842 went into effect, the sheriff of Monroe county destroyed, as a public nuisance, the eighteen-inch feeder dam across the Genesee river just above Rochester, from which water had been used occasionally in emergencies since the canal was constructed. The mill owners of the city protested vigorously against the further use of water from Genesee river for canal purposes and the Legislature took no action to have the dam restored. In view of the constantly increasing need of water for lockages, -- on account of the rapid growth of traffic, -- it became necessary to look for an additional supply from other sources. By chapter 222, Laws of 1849, the canal authorities were empowered, whenever they should deem it necessary, to establish reservoirs upon lakes Conesus, Honeoye, Canadice and Hemlock, all lying within the Genesee watershed, to replace, in dry seasons, the amount abstracted from the Genesee river for canal use. Engineer Henry Tracy was employed to make the necessary surveys and estimates for the undertaking, and his report, declaring the project feasible, was attached to Senate Document No. 40, 1850. Mr. Tracy was also instructed to prepare plans and estimates for obtaining an adequate supply for ordinary use from Lake Erie, by means of increasing the size and grade of the prism as far east as Montezuma. His report upon this branch of the subject appears as Senate Document No. 41, 1850.

Again in 1850 Governor Fish said that the Erie enlargement, as well as the Genesee Valley and Black River canal improvements, were "progressing as rapidly as the limited constitutional appropriations would permit." And the canal commissioners of that year stated that the value of the canal traffic had reached and passed the total value of the domestic exports from the United States for the previous year.

The canal auditor called attention to the fact that the tolls on passengers and on packet boats were rapidly diminishing under the competition of the railways, which paid no tolls on passengers and, with their more frequent trains, increased speed and reduced fare, were drawing this important source of revenue away from the canals. In this same line the Assembly canal committee reported favorably on petitions to remove tolls on property carried by the railroads. They recommended the repeal of the law requiring tolls on freight carried in January, February and March, and a further modification of tolls on live stock, fresh meats, fish, poultry and dairy products. 73

In 1849 the project of a ship canal between New York and the West, by way of the Hudson river, Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence river, received considerable attention. A convention was held at Troy and later at Saratoga. Meanwhile committees explored the Champlain-St. Lawrence link by at least two routes, both using the Chambly canal for most of its distance. One entered the river at Longueuil, just below Montreal; the other, surveyed by John B. Mills, entered at Caughnawaga, nine miles above. The prism was to be eighty feet on bottom and one hundred and twenty feet on surface, and the locks were to be two hundred by forty-five feet, with nine feet of water on the sill, carrying boats of three hundred to three hundred and fifty tons. The St. Lawrence and Champlain Company was formed and the matter of enlarging the Champlain canal to correspond came before the Assembly of 1850, but the canal committee reported adversely on the following grounds: that the cost would be $3,000,000; that the State revenues were already pledged for a term of years; that the constitutional limit of indebtedness, and the uncertainty of the completion of the Canadian portion rendered the project inadvisable. 74

In 1850 the commissioners of the canal fund estimated the surplus revenues, applicable to the unfinished canals, to amount to $942,000. Of this amount $202,425.78 had already been appropriated, leaving $739,574.22 at the disposition of the Legislature of that year. From this amount the Legislature appropriated $654,000 for the Erie canal (chapter 354), with instructions to complete the enlargement at Brockport, Albion and Medina by April 1, 1852, also additional sums of $120,000 for the Black River canal (chapter 220) and $170,000 for the Genesee Valley canal (chapter 192). These appropriations from the surplus revenues footed up to $944,000, and at this point were $338,250.13 beyond the actual revenues, leaving that amount to be taken from the revenues of that fiscal year.

From the beginning of 1851 the canals became involved in a financial and legislative turmoil that continued until the enlargement was completed. In his annual message to the Legislature of 1851, Governor Washington Hunt urged a more vigorous canal policy and pointed out three distinct modes by which the speedy completion of the enlargement could be accomplished. By the first it was proposed to obtain the necessary funds by an issue of stock certificates, transferring absolutely, in advance, at the purchaser’s risk and for a sufficient number of years, that portion of the canal revenues which were devoted by the Constitution to the enlargement of the Erie canal and the completion of the Black River and Genesee Valley canals. This manner of disposing of the surplus revenues was thought by some of the ablest jurists to be within the competency of the Legislature. The second plan was to authorize a loan under the twelfth section of the financial article. However, before a law for this purpose could take effect, it would have to be ratified by the people, and moreover, the Constitution required that every such law should provide for collecting a direct annual tax to pay the interest. The Governor considered that to impose a direct tax would be unjust and that no reasonable excuse could be given for such action, inasmuch as the canals continued to yield a rich return and these revenues were fully adequate to pay interest on the cost of improvements. The third resort was an amendment to the Constitution. The Governor pointed out that, if this amendment should be adopted at once, should be approved by the succeeding Legislature and then sanctioned by the people, the loan could not be secured until the Legislature of 1853 had assembled.

The first of the three plans of the Governor, outlined above, met with favor in the Legislature, but the whole question of canal policy was one of bitter controversy. The bill for the completion of canal improvements, embodying the "revenue certificate" plan, having passed the Assembly, its opponents in the Senate resorted to every known artifice of parliamentary tactics to prevent its passage there. As a last resort some twelve of the opposing senators resigned, leaving the body without the constitutional quorum for the passage of this and other important legislation, including the usual appropriations for the support of the Government. In this emergency, after adopting a concurrent resolution calling upon the Governor to convene a special session, the Legislature adjourned. 75 On April 19 Governor Hunt issued a proclamation calling such special session for June 10, at which session the measure became a law (chapter 485).

The question of the constitutionality of the act seems to have been raised at the outset. The Assembly committee, to which Governor Hunt’s plan was referred, presented an elaborate report in favor of the measure, supported by the opinions of several eminent jurists. Upon its reference to the Senate, that body, by resolution, sought the opinion of the Attorney-General. In unrestricted terms that official condemned the bill as unconstitutional. But the subsequent favorable report of the Senate committee was buttressed by the opinion of no less a person than Daniel Webster, the Sage of Marshfield. Webster’ s well known sentiment, that "a national debt is a national blessing," may throw some light upon his point of view.

This act empowered the Comptroller to sell "canal revenue certificates" to the amount of $3,000,000 during the first year, a like amount the second year, and as much of a like amount the third year as the canal board should consider necessary for the completion of the canals in question. Restrictive clauses were inserted to prevent frauds in the unlimited issuance of the certificates, and it was provided that the contracts for the completion of the whole work should not exceed by more than ten per cent the estimates given -- $10,508,141. No guaranty of the State was behind these securities. Only the net revenues of the canals were involved and the general credit of the State was not in anywise pledged, nor was any debt or liability against the State created. This was obviously to avoid conflicting with section twelve, article seven of the Constitution, as it then stood.

This law was subsequently known as the "Nine-million act," because of the specific amounts authorized to be issued under its provisions, aggregating that sum. It should not be confused with another and much later nine-million proposition, which came into existence in comparatively recent years.

The subject of canal tolls on railroads had an important place at this time. The canal auditor, through the commissioners of the canal fund, 76 sharply warned the Legislature of the probable diminution of receipts from railroad tolls in future. The existing exemptions upon meats and live stock, the consolidation of certain short toll-paying lines, the completion of the Northern line, which was already diverting trade from the canals, and the approaching completion of the Erie railway, which would contend for the transportation of the accumulated products of the West, -- these were factors to be considered. He said: "If, under this powerful competition, our tolls do not recede more than $90,000 it will be the greatest triumph of our canal policy that has been achieved in its beneficent history." He regarded It as an interesting period in the history of the canals, saying that, hitherto their prosperity had been uninterrupted and no anxiety had been felt as to their increasing value and usefulness. Now the situation required wise and expeditious action to maintain and perpetuate their value.

Legislative committees also were grappling with the question of railway tolls at this time, and numerous solutions were offered. To a select committee of the Senate were referred petitions for a law to equalize tolls upon all the trunk lines, petitions to impose tolls on the Northern and the Erie rail roads, as well as others to exempt the Central lines from tolls. The committee was divided in opinion and presented individual reports, most of which foreshadowed the coming abolition of tolls. 77 The same Legislature, which, with extreme difficulty and in the face of the most strenuous opposition, passed the measure providing for the early completion of canal improvements, in order that the canals, in their improved form, might successfully compete with the railways, which were taking their business away from them, -- this same Legislature deliberately passed an act (chapter 497), which released the railways from the necessity of paying any tolls whatever to the State thereafter.

After the lapse of more than half a century since the passage of this act, a broader and more comprehensive view of its results may be taken, than would have been possible at an earlier date. The rapid and unprecedented growth of our State since that period -- in population, wealth and power -- making it in very truth the Empire State, are matters of public history, more or less familiar to us all. Nor can the mighty influence of our railway systems in that development be gainsaid, and without doubt the State has been enriched many fold by the power thus given to the railroads of becoming essential factors in the greatness of her prosperity and upbuilding. Yet it may well be doubted whether any single legislative act from that day to this has been fraught with graver, more far-reaching consequences to the canals of the state than this act of July 10, 1851, "to abolish tolls on railroads." By it the Legislature gave to the railways redoubled power as competitors for the traffic of the canals -- the "people’s own highway." The railways could now make better rates for quicker transit -- advantages, which they were not slow to grasp. Prior to its passage, the people controlled the situation. Notwithstanding the unwisdom, at various times, of the State’s financial policy, so closely had this policy been interwoven with that of the canals, -- their improvement and their administration, -- that it still remained a fact that the golden stream of their revenues, coming largely from the increasing traffic of the West and from beyond the borders of the state, was enriching its people beyond all other sources, building up the state, paying not only the cost of the canals and their improvements, but the general expenses of the State government, rendering direct taxation for this latter purpose in previous years the exception rather than the rule. But recently the power of the Legislature to misapply the revenues of the State had been wisely curbed by constitutional provisions, under which payment of its debts was reasonably assured. However, its framers could not have foreseen this loophole, which was to hinder and delay, if not to frustrate, their well-considered plans.

In after years the railways, in the full tide of their opulence and power, gratefully repaid this generous gift of the people by cutting summer and raising winter rates to a point which has more than once driven the boatmen -- partners of the State -- from the canals, by combinations, trunk line pools, and "differentials," as will be shown later on. It has been claimed that the act was passed in the interests of "free commerce" to the traffic which sought the markets of the State. Be that as it may, it has been also claimed 78 that every dollar of the subsequent canal debt and of the millions which have since been raised by taxation upon the people for its payment -- principal and interest -- were the results of this act.

The idea of lengthening certain locks, eight in number and lying between Syracuse and Rochester, in such temporary manner as to bring them into use, pending the completion of the entire canal enlargement, had been considered by the canal board for several years prior to this time, and in 1849, by chapter 233, authority had been given them to do so. This would permit the lengthening of boats, increasing their tonnage and the canal traffic at slight expense. Rochester interests demanded such action, and the State Engineer advised the canal board not only to lengthen the locks, but to make them of full width, in order to bear the traffic of the enlarged canal at once. The board submitted this plan for legislative approval on February 18, 1851. 79

After the passage of the act of 1851 for finishing canal improvements, the canal board in July ordered complete plans and estimates to be prepared and the State Engineer caused test lines to be run and a careful review of the estimates to be made along the entire line. These were completed October 10. Finding the results to be within the estimates submitted to the Legislature, the canal board advertised for letting the whole work, which by the law was to be completed by the first day of May, 1854. The bids were closed on November 8, there being over 2,600 separate proposals, which required twelve days for canvassing. For this reason the year 1851 was afterwards known in canal circles as the year of the "big letting." According to the canal commissioners report 80, a summary of the whole would stand as follows:

Cost of work as reported to the Legislature   $10,508,141.00
Add 10 percent, as stated in the law   1,050,814.00
Cost of work at contract price $8,029,727.45  
Add 10 percent for contingencies 802,972.74  
Contract price less than the estimate   $2,726,254.81

Meantime the Comptroller had, under the provisions of this act, issued six per cent certificates during the last half of the year, to the amount of $1,500,000. A small premium was realized from their sale and a portion of the proceeds was used in payment for work already under contract.

During the year and subsequent to the estimates on which the appropriations had been based, numerous changes of location were made under authority of the canal board, principally on the middle and western divisions. By these changes the line of the western division was shortened about eleven miles, but the expense of construction was somewhat increased. The question of an independent line east of Rochester had long occupied the attention of the State officers in charge of the canals, and in the report of 1850 Division Engineer Stillson had urged important considerations in its favor, estimating its increased cost over the expense of enlargement on the old line, however, at $489,000, although the distance would be shortened by six and a quarter miles. New surveys and estimates were again made, and the whole question was carefully considered, resulting in the adoption of the independent line. The principal changes were made between Macedon and Rochester, at Holley and just east and west of Lyons. The plans, however, were again altered in 1854, as we shall notice later.

It was estimated that at this period (1851) there were in use on the canals 4,047 boats, of 70 tons average, or 283,290 tons in all.

The amount derived from canal revenues for the fiscal year to October 1, 1851, was $3,722,163.11, being an increase of $235,990.08; the available surplus for improvements was $964,432.91; the increase of tonnage was still larger, rates on flour and wheat having been reduced 25 per cent.

The enactment of the "Nine-million" law of 1851 and the subsequent issue during the year of a million and a half of "certificates" under its provisions, did not by any means settle the bitter controversy which had attended its passage. The arguments used by its opponents as to its constitutionality had not been forgotten. The question of whether or not the canal improvements should be completed was not at issue, this being conceded universally. The dissension was concerning the method by which the necessary funds were sought to be raised for their completion. Nor did the circumstances surrounding the "big letting" in December tend to allay the strong feeling that existed concerning the law. "The unprecedented course of some of the representatives of the people to defeat it," says the report of a legislative committee, "the special election ordered in consequence -- the excitement attending it -- the extra session of the Legislature to carry out the expressed popular will -- the magnitude and importance of the improvement, and the immense amount of work requisite for its completion, all conspired to attract and concentrate the attention of the public, and especially of all who hoped directly or indirectly to profit by its execution, upon the measures taken for its accomplishment.

"Accordingly when, after due notice had been given for the receipts of proposals for the entire work on the Erie, Genesee Valley, Black River and Oswego canals, the Canal Board ... proceeded to open and examine the same, a scene was presented unparalleled in the history of the public works of the State. From all parts of the State, from other states, from all walks of life -- from every profession, pursuit and trade -- from every division and sub-division of political sects, there swarmed upon the Capital a legion of applicants, all anxious and importunate for a participation in the anticipated profits of some share in this improvement, the last for many years at least, to be obtained upon the public works of the State. The expectations of all ran high. Some had claims real or imaginary for political services. Others relied upon personal friendship for success, while others destitute of such recommendations, resorted to other and less creditable means to secure a favorable consideration. Associations, combinations and partnerships were formed, almost without numbers, and embracing components of every conceivable complexion, for the purpose of securing, in the name of some of them, a share in the contracts.

"While this was going on outside, the Canal Board was busily engaged in canvassing the bids and preparing their proposed allotments of the work." The amount [see errata] of bids was said to aggregate about $400,000,000, and the number of bidders about 3,000. The graphic description continues: "The Board at once saw and felt the difficulty of awarding the work in such a manner as to give satisfaction generally to the host of applicants; and to add to the difficulty, jealousies existed in the minds of some of the members of the Board itself, as to the designs of other members, whom they suspected of an intention to bestow the contracts upon their political associates." 81

It was understood that "the law, sanctioned by all experience, had repudiated the idea of letting the work to the lowest bidder, which made united action on the subject by the Board a task of increased difficulty, and rendered it still more necessary to have some general understanding between the members of the Board.... It was conceded, too, after the first meeting of the Board, that the work should be equally divided [between] the democratic and whig bidders, without regard to their being the lowest bidders." 82

Within a few days after this remarkable "letting," the Legislature of 1852 began its session. "Coming events cast their shadows before," and when Governor Hunt, in his message, felicitated the Legislature and the people upon the adoption of the certificate plan and the prospect of immediate completion of the improvements contemplated, it is to be noted that he also advised the Legislature to keep in view the actual condition of the treasury and to limit their appropriations within the reliable revenues of the general fund. He said that the annual contributions to the sinking fund required by the Constitution were shown to be sufficient to discharge the State debt in about seventeen years; after that the entire revenues could be used to pay the certificates then being issued.

The toll rates upon wheat and flour having been reduced, the Comptroller raised the pertinent question as to whether the State, having pledged its canal revenues for a term of years by the act of 1851, possessed the right to impair the security of the stockholders by reducing tolls, "except to increase trade and revenue."

The constitutionality of the "Nine-million act" having been called into question before the courts, the State Engineer, on January 9, 1852, warned contractors, under the letting of the previous month, not to proceed with work under their contracts, except upon their own responsibility. An adverse decision of the courts being feared, various measures of relief were proposed. In the Senate it was sought to have the Constitution amended so as to permit a loan of $9,000,000 to complete improvements. Another resolution to borrow $6,000,000 was tabled. Another to provide for $7,000,000 "in case the law of 1851 should be declared unconstitutional by the Court of Appeals."

During the legislative session of 1852 the circumstances attend in the big letting were thoroughly reviewed. In the Assembly it was openly charged that several members of the canal board had met secretly at the house of Peter Cagger in Albany, prior to the letting, and agreed on an allotment of canal contracts on the basis of political considerations and favoritism, and not to the lowest bidder. The canal board presented a formal request 83 to both branches of the Legislature for an inquiry as to the conduct of the board, the commissioners, the state engineer and his division engineers, who had had to do with the big letting in the award of contracts, and as to their acts generally in the discharge of their duties. A joint legislative committee of five, composed of Senators Conger and Upham, and Assemblymen Moss, Cushing and Bull, were appointed under concurrent resolution " to examine and report within one week whether any and what action the legislature should take, in the matter."

A large amount of testimony was taken by this committee, which appeared in a volume of some 1,200 pages as Assembly Document No. 89, 1852. The majority report frankly admitted that the contracts were in fact apportioned fairly between the two political parties, and vigorously defended such a course as being the only practicable method under the circumstances. They advanced the interesting argument, previously spoken of, that "the law, sanctioned by all experience, had repudiated the idea of letting the work to the lowest bidder, which made united action on the subject by the Board a task of increased difficulty, and rendered it still more necessary to have some general understand in between the members of the Board." The minority report followed, modified in its conclusions and claiming that blame, if any, should attach to the defective law, which "did not require, but rather forbid the letting of the work to the lowest responsible bidder.... These results were confidently predicted by the opponents of the law at the time of its passage.... It is the duty of the State to carry out the contracts in good faith, to make the best of an inconsiderate law, and see that the enlargement is duly prosecuted." 84 The chairman of the committee, Senator Conger, presented a further minority report, signed only by himself, which was in effect a stinging denunciation of the State officials concerned.

The canal board, by resolution in February, requested the Legislature to pass an act to submit the question of the validity of the contracts in question to the Court of Appeals. The Assembly judiciary committee reported 85 adversely upon the proposition to ask that tribunal to forestall its own judgments on appeal. The Court of Appeals, however, had the matter already under consideration in another and less startling form. One of the certificates under the law of June 10, 1851, having been issued and presented for payment, the canal auditor refused to draw his warrant for its payment. The matter was then brought into the courts and in May of 1852 the Court of Appeals rendered its decision, saying, "The act, July 10th, 1851, directing the borrowing, upon interest, of nine millions of dollars upon canal revenue certificates, payable out of the future surplus revenues after the completion of the canals and providing for the application of the whole sum to the completion of the canals within three years, is repugnant to the constitutional provision that the remainder of the revenues of the canals shall, in each fiscal year, be applied to the completion of the canals until they shall be finished; and also to that provision by which a power is given to the Legislature to apply the remainder of the revenues to the general expenses of the government, immediately after the completion of the canals." 86

The State Engineer at once notified all contractors under the act, upon which this decision had been rendered, to stop work, and directed his subordinates to "measure up."

In August, 1852, plans were submitted by the State Engineer to the canal board for the temporary enlargement of the old locks between Port Byron and Rochester, to permit boats of enlarged size to pass the whole length of the canal; also plans to bring into use, with four feet of water, the enlarged canal between Port Byron and Montezuma, and for raising the banks for five feet of water on the whole canal wherever not enlarged.

The commissioners subsequently reported that during the year trade had been seriously embarrassed from the "wedging" of boats in narrow and unenlarged sections, the original canal width being 40 feet at surface and 28 feet on bottom, and most of the boats at this time being constructed fourteen feet six inches "over all" at the head of the floor timbers, and by the regulations being entitled to half the canal in passing. It followed that boats of the old size were not in sufficient numbers to carry the traffic, while the building of new enlarged boats was deferred from uncertainty as to when they could be brought into use.

During the season of 1852 extensive surveys were made throughout the western division, both for the purpose of correcting and improving the alignment of the canal and also for increasing the width of the prism and its grade, so as to promote a more rapid movement of feed-water from Lake Erie to Montezuma, thereby obviating the necessity of using so much water from the Genesee river at Rochester for purposes of feeding, as has been explained.

In his message to the Legislature of 1853, Governor Seymour said: "When it was decided in 1835, to enlarge the Erie canal, it was proposed to accomplish the work by the application of the surplus tolls, without resorting to loans. There has been collected from taxation upon the transportation of property upon our canals, since that time, the sum of $41,227,000; the expenses of keeping them in repair amount to $11,459,000. The balance might have been applied to the completion of our public works if we had created no debts involving charges for interest and Sinking Fund accounts; it is believed that the balance of $29,768,000, if it had been applied as it accrued from the revenues, would have finished the works; the estimate of their cost was $30,734,000." 87 This view was very similar to that of Governor Young in 1848, before mentioned.

He said further that, unfortunately, the Legislature of 1851 rejected a proposed amendment, providing that the constitutionality of the law should be determined before letting contracts or borrowing money. Certificates were sold for less than one per cent premium, while State stocks of known constitutionality commanded a premium of from nine to sixteen per cent. Contracts were let, nominally amounting to $8,029,727.45, but no allowance was made for extra, if quicksand or hardpan developed. He explained that it was not necessary, as had been claimed, to complete the entire enlargement to enable boats of full size to pass. The improvements already made had doubled the capacity of the canal. The average tonnage, when the canal was built, was 40 tons; in 1844 it was 64 tons; in 1852 it was 90 tons. With lengthened locks, boats with 120 tons could pass from end to end; and with $400,000 expended in deepening the water, new boats could carry 150 tons. About 150 miles of enlargement were then completed. The points of least capacity limited the size and tonnage of the entire length. Removing the obstructions at these points would practically increase the capacity of the whole canal. As to the western end and the problem of the Genesee river feeder, enlarged boats would diminish the number of lockages and the amount of water used. The early enlargement of the canal between Buffalo and Rochester would entirely obviate this difficulty. It was important to have large boats go through. Builders wanted to build boats of full size and were waiting, while boats for use were scarce. As to the competition of the railways -- released from tolls -- it was necessary to reduce canal tolls to meet it.

From the financial point of view, the Governor thought that the application of a million dollars per year for six years to come would solve the difficulties of the canal problem. He did not believe that the surplus tolls would suffice to do it, but the balance could be raised by tax, or borrowed under the provision of section twelve, article seven, of the Constitution, for a term of eighteen years, with a tax for the interest and a sinking fund, or a loan could be sanctioned by a constitutional amendment.

As between taxation and a constitutional amendment, the certificate plan having failed, the canal commissioners favored the amendment. They thought that, in framing this, the money could be borrowed on a pledge of the revenues, after the discharge of the existing constitutional obligations as to the surplus, or the latter could be postponed with great advantage to a distant day, and the canal revenues applied directly to their completion. The latter plan was to be preferred, for the reason that statistics had been prepared, showing the gradual diminution of local tolls and the corresponding increase of through or western tolls for the previous five or six years. Obviously, the longer payment was delayed, the greater would be the proportion paid by people of other states." 88

Commissioner Fitzhugh, of the middle division, submitted to the Legislature his special views concerning methods of economical canal administration. 89 He believed that the same amount of work, directed with the care and economy controlling individual enterprises, could have been accomplished for about half the sum it had cost the State. He said that the canals had been so long deemed a legitimate engine of political warfare, that inherent evils in the existing system of superintendency and repairs had enormously multiplied. He recommended, as a sure remedy, the "Contract system" of repairs, by sections, on a three- to five-year basis. As a matter of history it may be noted that this system was subsequently adopted (chapter 327, Laws of 1854), and will receive its due share of attention in regular sequence.

The canal commissioners, referring to the year 1852, said that, while there had been a large increase in business, the receipts had fallen off some $200,000. The removal of railway tolls, which went into effect December 1, 1851, rendered it necessary to make large reductions on canal tolls, to compete successfully with the railways. They believed that the receipts from tolls were diminished, in consequence of this competition for the year, by at least $500,000. This statement confirms the one we have heretofore made as to the effect of the act of 1851.

In his annual report for 1852, the canal auditor called attention to the "anticipatory" expenditures, which had been made since 1847, and which have been noted before. In each of the six years, as he said, the expenditures had exceeded the appropriations by from $35,000 to $246,000, or in the aggregate, $822,487.56. This had been sharply called to the attention of commissioners and superintendents, but it still continued, although it was a plain violation of section 8, article 7, of the Constitution, and the auditor said that he must either draw warrants in excess of appropriations, as had been the custom, or the canals must be closed in August following.

Continuing, the auditor said that, while there had been an apparent reduction of canal debt since the adoption of the Constitution, new debts had been created, payable from the sinking fund, to more than balance the reduction, and that the sinking fund had failed of its purpose. After the expiration of six years, or nearly one-third of the entire period, the obligations of the State for canal purposes were now larger than when the sinking fund was established, notwithstanding the constitutional mandate concerning the "sacred" application of the sinking fund to the payment of the canal debt.

A legislative committee appointed to examine into the accounts of canal officials found that the expenditures for repairs during the year 1852, and especially upon the eastern division, had increased several hundred thousand dollars over the previous year, and so reported. 90 This resulted in reducing the estimated surplus applicable to improvements, from $800,000 to $300,000. On the eastern division extravagant expenditures were said by the committee to have been incurred, which were entirely unauthorized by the canal board and in violation of the Constitution. One of the undoubted results of this arraignment of official frailties was the subsequent passage of chapter 52, Laws of 1853, requiring thereafter the monthly publication of abstracts of superintendents’ payments.

The canal commissioners, replying to an inquiry, advised the Legislature that work had been done on contracts under the "Nine-million act" to the amount of $131,275.74, up to the close of the year 1852. 91

The canal committee of the Assembly, speaking in its report 92 of the manner in which the expenditure of the surplus revenues had been annually "anticipated" by previous Legislatures, took the broad ground that this course was forbidden by the Constitution; that the Legislature, in each year, could determine only the "manner" of its expenditures; and that prior debts formed no lien upon the current surplus revenues. The committee also urged the adoption of a modification of the "improvement" plans, for temporary use, in consideration of the practical completion, in June following, of a line of locks on the Erie canal, enlarged to admit boats of 250 tons. They said that the only difficulty in the way of using the enlarged boats at once was the want of width and depth of channel. On the eastern, the most important division, bearing the additional traffic of four of the most important laterals in addition to its own, the enlargement was nearly completed, and for about half a million dollars an average increase of from three to five feet in breadth and a depth of five feet of water could be obtained, which would permit the use of boats of 150 tons burden. The plan had been approved by the canal commissioners and the State Engineer. Part of this sum, over and above $130,000, would also be utilized in the permanent improvement of the canal.

The committee expressed their anxiety lest the unrestricted competition of the railways would force a further reduction of tolls, or a diversion of traffic at a time when the canal revenues barely paid the charges against them. The State, they said, possessing entire control of the avenues of trade between the Atlantic and the western lakes, had constructed her canals at immense cost; had granted to companies the right to carry a portion of this traffic; had even transferred to them the right of eminent domain, which many doubted her power to do; and as a last and costly concession, had repealed the law imposing tolls upon them, admitting them to full and unrestricted competition. They pointed out the fact that, if the freedom of this competition was confirmed by failure to provide for corresponding canal improvements to permit larger tonnage and cheaper rates, the railways would establish a basis for their future operations inevitably resulting in much lower rates of transportation, in which competition the canals would be at great disadvantage. Thus early were the fears of those who opposed the bill of 1851, abolishing railway tolls, in a measure, justified.

The "Nine-million act" having been declared unconstitutional in the previous May, the issue of $1,500,000 under its terms required repayment at once. The ways and means committee of the Assembly grappled with the problem, presenting diverse reports; 93 the majority advised a direct tax upon the people for the deficiencies apparent, including special taxes on bank circulation and railway receipts, hoping that strong public opinion would compel the administration of the canals along more economical lines for the coming year; while the minority scouted the idea and said that the burden would fall upon the agricultural interests of the state. They advised a constitutional amendment, placing the revenues where they belonged -- for the improvement of the canals. In this attitude they had the support of the chamber of commerce of New York city, which memorialized 94 the Legislature, urging immediate measures to submit to the people the propriety of amending the Constitution so as to enable the State to borrow money to complete the canals in the most expeditious manner, and stating that they were opposed to taxing railroads, as tending to divert New York traffic into other channels.

On April 5, the Governor, by a special message, 95 again called attention to the necessity of making immediate appropriations for canal improvements, to enable new boats of 230 tons capacity, but loaded with only 130 tons, to pass, in order to stimulate boat building to take the place of those annually worn out.

In the way of increasing lake traffic in connection with that of the Erie canal, it maybe noted that a charter was granted on April 12, by chapter 180, to Erastus Corning and associates to construct a ship canal at the falls of St. Mary in compliance with the statutes of Michigan and the Federal laws.

Chapter 170, Laws of 1853, chartered the Albany and New Baltimore Ship Canal and Basin Company, to construct and maintain a canal, with its adjuncts, from South Albany along the west shore of the Hudson river, probably for transhipment purposes and for affording an outlet for canal traffic below the shallow reaches of the upper Hudson, in connection with, but not as a part of the Erie canal. This canal was never built.

The Senate passed a concurrent resolution, providing for a constitutional amendment. This encountered opposition in the lower house and, within three days of its adjournment and too late for a conference or for united action, unimportant amendments as to terms and periods of the proposed loan were made. In the arguments bad faith was charged, the canal question having been prominent in the preceding campaign and the Governor and many members having been pledged to promote the speedy enlargement of the canal. 96

The Legislature, at its regular session, did not directly carry into effect the plan of temporary enlargement, outlined and urged by the State officials, but by chapter 620 it reinforced the canal fund with $200,000 from the sale of the remaining revenue certificates (July 20), with $200,000 of the Oswego canal loan, and with $250,000, the remainder of the canal revenues for the current fiscal year. From the fund so strengthened it appropriated $390,000 to the enlargement of the Erie canal, "as referred to in the Constitution of 1846."

The Oswego canal loan, just spoken of, was under the provisions of chapter 501, Laws of 1851, which provided for a loan of $200,000 in each of the years 1851 and 1852, for the purpose of completing the enlargement of the Oswego canal locks. The first item only had been borrowed.

The repeal of the act of the previous year (chapter 270), for the enlargement of the canals, was rendered necessary by circumstances and was effected by chapter 473, Laws of 1853.

Meanwhile the perennial question of "canal frauds" was occupying considerable time and attention. On March 17, 1853, a select committee of five was appointed by the Assembly to examine into the propriety and legality of the official conduct of certain State officers against whom charges had been made both in the commissioners’ current report and by the canal auditor. On April 13 the committee reported 97 that John C. Mather, commissioner of the eastern division, was guilty of unauthorized and illegal expenditures in connection with improvements at West Troy, and that he stood "impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors."

The session "being likely to adjourn without providing for the preservation of the public faith," as the Governor expressed it, or the interest on the canal debt, the canal improvements, the charges against Commissioner Mather and other important matters, it was convened in prolongation of the regular session, to avoid unnecessary delay and expense, by a message 98 of the Governor on April 14. He again urged the temporary completion of the Erie canal on the lines of his former message, saying that six hundred thousand dollars, properly expended, would nearly double the capacity of the canal and that delay would be disastrous through the diversion of business. If the improvements asked were made, they would in no way interfere with the proposed enlargement. On the contrary, they would hasten that result by increasing domestic commerce, cheapening transportation and augmenting the revenues of the public works. The Legislature, he said, by prolonged discussions and proposed measures, had recognized the importance of completing the unfinished, works, but no plan had been adopted for their continued prosecution. Various propositions had been made to raise the necessary funds by taxation and by amendment of the Constitution. At least two amendments had been discussed; one proposed to borrow $2,500,000 each year, in addition to the surplus revenues, which would swell the annual expenditures to more than $3,000,000, and increase the debt of the State by $10,500,000; the other was to borrow annually, for six years, a sum which, with the surplus revenues, would amount to $1,500,000 and probably create a debt of $5,000,000, without applying any of it to the payments of the doubtful contracts of 1851.

He said: "The deep feeling excited in the public mind by the canal lettings under the law of 1851, has created a strong opposition to any amendment of the financial provisions of the Constitution, and the differences of opinion in relation to them, have obstructed legislation, and prevented the passage of laws demanded by the interests of our public works." 99

On the reassembling of the Legislature under the spur of the Governor’s call, efforts were made to reach an understanding upon the problem of canal finances. Being unable to agree, a conference committee of the two Houses finally accepted a compromise measure, which became a concurrent resolution, 100 proposing an amendment to the Constitution. From the canal revenues the expenses of maintenance and repairs were first to be met, with the constitutional sums required under the first two sections of article seven; from the remainder, as a sinking fund, a sum sufficient to meet the interest and the principal, within eighteen years, of any loan made under the amendment; after that two hundred thousand dollars was to be set apart for the expenses of State government; the remainder was to be applied to meet appropriations for canal enlargement and completion. This remainder was not to be anticipated or pledged for more than a year in advance. Under its provisions, loans could be made for the purposes, not to exceed two and a quarter million dollars in each year, during the ensuing four years. One and a half million dollars was to be borrowed to redeem the certificates of 1851, and contracts thereafter were to be let to the lowest responsible bidder, and no contract debts incurred after June 1, 1852, were to be allowed under its provisions.

Commissioner John C. Mather, of the eastern division, upon whose shoulders much of the previously mentioned criticism fell, put in a vigorous defence 101 under date of May 30. While admitting the increase of expenditures for repairs, he claimed that the "false and garbled statements sent forth to the public, all emanating from one source," should be disregarded, and the public, "to whom alone the commissioners were responsible for the faithful discharge of their official duties" should be furnished a "true statement." He said that the sudden stoppage of under the act of 1851 added largely to the expenditures for repairs. He claimed that the commissioners were constitutional officers and that the canal auditor was a subordinate officer and not entitled to criticize the commissioners.

Final articles of impeachment were prepared against Commissioner Mather and presented to the reassembled Legislature. After a bitter and protracted contest in the Assembly, the resolution of impeachment "for high crimes and misdemeanors" was adopted by June 22, by a vote of 80 to 35. 102

The drainage and reclamation of the Cayuga marshes, through which the Erie canal was located, was of interest to this and the preceding Legislatures. Commissioners had been appointed, who, after examination, advised the removal of a rocky reef known as "Jack’s reef" and a bar at Mosquito Point to accomplish the purpose sought.

In 1853 the project of a ship canal to connect Lake Erie with Lake Ontario, which had remained quiescent since the earlier surveys and the completion and operation of the Erie canal, was again brought to the front. Surveys, maps and estimates for a canal with fourteen feet of water were made under the direction of Chas. B. Stuart, C. E., and Edward W. Serrill, C. E.

In the Assembly also numerous petitions from the inhabitants of western New York were presented, praying for authority to build a ship and hydraulic canal around the falls of Niagara. The Assembly committee presented an adverse report squarely upon the ground that such a project would be detrimental to the interests of the Erie canal, saying: "The trade of the lake region belongs to the Erie canal. It has been created by it, and is a rightful inheritance to it, as much as is the farm of the husbandman to him who has purchased, subdued and brought it into a condition of productive cultivation and consequent value. Your committee contend that the populous and productive States which border the chain of lakes and pour their rich fruits into our markets in such abundance, would have remained to this day in a state of comparative wilderness but for the Erie canal. This State work lifted the borders of civilization from the confines of our own State, and transferred them by gradual approaches to the base of the Rocky Mountains. To it, then, belong the honor and profit of this achievement, and the hand which would divest it of either, possesses a questionable friendship for our adopted system of internal improvements and the common welfare of the State." 103

Notwithstanding the eloquence of the committee, the Assembly, on July 21, chartered to Hamilton Fish and associates the right to construct a ship and hydraulic canal for ships of 500 tons, under the name of the Niagara Ship Canal Company. The capital stock was limited to $5,000,000, and the State reserved the right to subsequent purchase at cost with ten per cent added. 104

In reporting for 1853 the Comptroller referred to the sharp decrease in canal revenues and the resulting small remainders for enlargement, attributing it both to the competition of railroads in carrying freights and to increased expenditures of superintendence and repairs. 105

From the auditor’s annual report 106 we learn that up to this time there had been but two laws authorizing a direct tax for canal purposes, -- one in 1842 (chapter 114) and the other in 1853 (chapter 651). Under the law of 1842, $456,477.35 was collected and expended in the payment of canal debts, and under that of 1853 the sum of $621,467 was to be collected for the same purpose. Of this latter amount $590,000 was for protested canal commissioners’ drafts, drawn after they were informed that there were no means to pay them, hawked about among money lenders, and sold at a sacrifice by necessitous holders. This had continued until July 20, 1853, and much of it in the face of the Governor’s recommendation of January, 1853, that laws should be enacted forbidding the practice.

The auditor also called attention to an extensive system of frauds prevailing upon the canals and of which discovery had been made during the past season. These had been perpetrated by means of false entries upon bills of lading, in collusion with minor canal officials. By an order of the canal board, giving to the collector discovering the fraud a portion of the penalty exacted, much of it had been uncovered and it was hoped that publicity and increasing vigilance would eradicate the evil. 107

In addressing the Legislature of 1854, Governor Seymour urged the approval of the amendment of the year before and its submission to the people at an early date. He again earnestly recommended the temporary improvement of the canals on the lines of his former message, at the expense of about $500,000. The complete line of enlarged locks between Albany and Buffalo had been brought into use. Enlarged boats, carrying 130 tons, had already passed through and many more were building. He said also that constant watchfulness was required against unnecessary expense of construction and management and that unless rigid economy should be exercised the appropriations under the proposed amendment would be expended without the completion of the canals. Adverting to the unauthorized canal indebtedness of nearly a million, which the State, to save its credit, had been compelled to raise by tax and pay the year before, he recommended a law to prohibit any public officer from continuing expenditures or overdrawing an appropriation, when no funds remained to its credit.

If the law of 1851 had not been declared unconstitutional, said the Governor, it would still have failed in its purpose, as its loans were predicated only upon surplus revenues and its certificates were not salable to advantage and the work would have necessarily been suspended. Under the amendment now proposed the bonds would be based upon the credit of the State and would bring a substantial premium. 108

The constitutional amendment, proposed in 1853, was approved at the session of 1854. In order to facilitate matters an act was passed (chapter 5), under which a special election was held on the third Wednesday in February, at which election the amendment was approved by the people.

Canal measures occupied the attention of the Legislature to a considerable extent, but the results at the close of the session may be noted with much greater brevity than those of the preceding year. A proposition to enable corporations to build and navigate boats failed to receive the sanction of the committee on commerce, 109 for fear of its tendency to injure the individual owners. The Rochester mill owners were again in the field for damage claims for diversion of the water of the Genesee river, 110 but we fail to find any statute of the year in their favor.

In response to a Senate resolution of inquiry to the State Engineer and canal board as to the probable cost of the enlargement of the Erie canal and the completion of the Genesee Valley and Black River canals and the Oswego canal locks, specifying the probable amount required on each division, hurried estimates were prepared and submitted, 111 amounting to $9,862,592.98, not including, however, the items of engineering, land damages, removal of buildings and miscellaneous expanses. These, with the addition of some omitted items, would bring the estimates up to $12,993,701.45, and even this sum was considered by the State Engineer to be insufficient to complete the improvements as contemplated by the Constitution of 1846.

In the discussion of bills in the Legislature, some changes and improved methods of letting contracts may be noted, one of these suggestions bearing fruit in the passage of chapter 327, which authorized the repairs on specified sections to be let for a term of years under contract, as a test of the system, then newly advocated, which was destined to come into vogue during succeeding years. The formal repeal of the act (chapter 485) of July 10, 1851, embodying the "certificate" plan, and known as the "Nine-million act," was accomplished by the passage of chapter 338, on April 17.

The plan advocated by the Governor and others, and to which we have referred -- of the temporary completion of the enlargement -- was effected by the passage, on February 15, of chapter 16, which authorized the commissioners to proceed at once to "bottom out" the Erie, the Oswego and the Cayuga and Seneca canals in their narrow and crooked portions so as to admit the passage of boats of enlarged size, drawing three and one-half feet of water. $115,000 was devoted to this purpose, of which $100,000 was to be expended on the Erie canal.

Immediately after the passage of the law authorizing the resumption of the enlargement and completion of the canals, vigorous measures were adopted for the prosecution of the work. Under the direction of the State Engineer, new surveys, maps, plans and estimates, covering nearly the entire lines of the works to be completed, were presented and approved by the canal board. The first lettings were held in July and continued from time to time up to the twenty-seventh of December.

Under the authority of chapter 327, Laws of 1854, section 8, near Syracuse, had been put under contract for repairs, on October 1, for three years, at a price forty per cent less than the average cost of repairs had been for the preceding three years. The experiment, so far, seemed satisfactory to Commissioner Fitzhugh -- economical, and, as he thought, an "incalculable improvement in public morals."

The supply of water from Lake Erie east as far as the Seneca river, without using that of the Genesee river, had been a canal "problem" since the days of its construction. In 1847 Chief Engineer O. W. Childs, under the canal commissioners, made surveys and recommended an increased capacity. In 1850 Engineer Henry Tracy made another report, recommending a still larger canal, and the canal board adopted a prism of ninety-one feet wide by nine feet deep at Lockport; thence regularly diminishing to sixty-two feet wide by nine feet deep to a point in the City of Rochester where the mean width of the enlarged canal was sixty-two feet; thence to the Rochester aqueduct sixty-two feet in mean width by nine feet depth of water, thence to the easterly end of the aqueduct as it was then; and thence to the first lock east of Rochester at a mean width of waterway of sixty feet and a depth of eight feet.

In 1854 the State Engineer submitted a plan, in capacity substantially that of Engineer Childs, locating the canal bottom eighteen inches below the miter-sill of the lowest lock at Lockport; thence on a regular grade, dropping two feet, to the bottom of the Rochester aqueduct, with a diminishing prism, and giving a total surface declivity of three feet eight inches.

But the owners of the Genesee water-power succeeded in obtaining from the board a modification, similar to the plan of 1850, except that the bottom at Rochester was not to be more than two inches below the bottom of the aqueduct, giving nine feet depth of water at Lockport and seven feet six inches at the west end of the aqueduct. Under this latter plan the canal was located, put under contract, and was under construction during 1854. Its success was shown by the fact that during an extremely dry season, when all the canals were in want of water, no trouble was experienced from Lockport to the Seneca river, without resorting to the water of the Genesee river. 112

The difficulty caused by excessive use of water by the mills at Black Rock was expected to be overcome by the erection of a masonry division wall between the canal and the mills, as a part of the enlargement plan -- the mills to obtain their water directly from the harbor." 113

From Macedon west to Rochester, opinions had for years varied as to the most desirable route. Numerous surveys had been made. Till 1851 the canal board had decided to follow the old line across the Irondequoit valley. In that year, as previously noted, the board adopted the "Independent" line. New examinations and estimates were prepared in 1854. Engineer Van Vleck, in charge, said, in reporting, that the independent line was adopted in 1851 by a bare majority of the board, and that the limited amount of money available for these improvements and the increased expense of this line, by the sum of $682,251, had caused the reconsideration of the project by subsequent boards, and its construction had been deferred. Another objection was that the law did not at this time permit the abandonment of the old line of the canal through cities and villages. The line now adopted by the board substantially followed near the old line, passing through Pittsford, but changing the lift of the locks, cutting off the heavy curves and saving nearly two miles in distance. The independent line would have saved 5.35 miles. 114

The drainage of the Cayuga marshes continued in progress during the year. The contract at Mosquito Point bar was abandoned on November 1, but the excavations at Jack’s reef were progressing vigorously, about half of the original appropriation of $100,000, under chapter 178, Laws of 1853, having been expended.

Governor Myron H. Clark’s message in 1855 said that the State tax had been raised during the previous year (1854) from one-quarter mill to one mill on the dollar, by the Legislature of 1853, but over half of the amount thus raised, $657,145.86, was paid under the law, to contractors, for damages, etc., which largely increased the deficiency in the general fund. The entire canal receipts during the previous year were $2,988,665.21, and the aggregate canal expenditures were $1,237,865.20. The surplus was therefore but $1,750,799.01. The constitutional requirements set apart $1,944,861.72 for various purposes, including $200,000 for State government. This created a deficiency in canal revenues of $194,062.71, which was attributed by the Governor to commercial embarrassments, unusual droughts followed by short crops; to navigation impeded by want of water and restricted channels, and to the active rivalry of competing modes of transportation; also to a large increase in repair expenditures, partly due to inconsiderate legislation. If the canal revenues did not substantially increase, said the Governor, there would be no surplus revenues for enlargement. The first loan of $2,225,000 under the new amendment realized a premium of $342,952.77. The work under contract at this time (January, 1855) amounted to $4,538,741.84, at an average of twenty-one per cent less than estimates.

The canal auditor also said, upon the same subject, that it was much to be regretted that the revenues of the canals, for the past fiscal year, had not been equal to the charges on them, though meeting all requirements, except those of the general fund "with a revenue diminished by untoward causes," said he, "arising from the unexampled commercial embarrassments in the country.... With an imperfect navigation and an unfinished canal struggling under every disadvantage, against works and facilities furnished by private corporations and individual enterprise, adapted to and keeping pace with the wants and demands of trade and commerce, and burthened with an unusually large expenditure for collection, superintendence and ordinary repairs, the result is not surprising." 115

While the expenditures under superintendents for repairs had unaccountably increased during the past few years, and while he thought it desirable that the experiment of letting out the completed sections under contract for repairs should be fully tested, the latter system was open to grave doubts of its ultimate success and expediency, for the reason that the contractor, governed by self-interest, would do as little as possible and as slightingly as possible for the money. He feared that, while such a system might do for ordinary circumstances, a large break or other emergency might find them unprepared or inefficient. The auditor conceded the injurious effect of the carrying trade of the railroads upon canal revenues. They were enjoying extraordinary rights and privileges and under present financial conditions, until the completion of the canals, should be required to pay tolls upon their tonnage as a bonus for their privileges. There was no question of the right of the Legislature, under the Constitution, to reimpose tolls. 116

The State Engineer and the canal commissioners did not, however, seem to share the fears of the auditor as to the disastrous effects of railroad competition, but were of the opinion that while light and costly articles would naturally seek more rapid transportation, the canal would be preferred for heavy and staple articles more than enough to make up its loss. 117

The commissioners attributed the increased expenditures to the enhanced price of labor and materials, to at least one hundred thousand dollars disbursed in widening and straightening the narrow and crooked portions of the old canal; and to a bitter controversy which had arisen between the canal board and Commissioner Mather during the year over the discharge and appointment of certain repair superintendents, which resulted in a duplicate set of officials, a double payroll and a lavish waste of money on many sections. 118

The State Engineer was of the opinion that there was but one remedy for the errors in management, and that remedy was not by contracting the repairs, or placing higher non-partisan officials in charge, but "by a sale of the canals, after completion, in whole or in part." 119

Upon the advice of the Attorney-General, the concurrent resolution of the year before, instructing suit to be brought against the former canal auditor for advancing moneys "to certain alleged canal commissioners without authority of law," was repealed by another resolution. This was passed on April 12, 1855. [see errata]

Judge Lincoln says that "agitation concerning canals did not cease with the adoption of the amendment of 1854. Amendments to the canal article were proposed in 1855, amending §§ 1, 2, 3, and 12 of article 7. Section 12 was to be amended so as to except debts included in §§ 2, 3, 10, and 11 from ratification by the people." 120

It was obvious that the Legislature, as well as the State officials, was not of one mind at this period, as to the best course to be pursued in the management of the canals. In the Senate, on April 10, the canal committee reported a bill to enable the authorities to enter into a contract with Charles Cook, a former canal commissioner, and Wm. J. McAlpine, a former State Engineer, to keep all the canals in repair for ten years, at $700,000 per year, under a bond of $250,000, but the measure failed to pass.

Chapter 23, Laws of 1855, authorized the second installment of $2,250,000 of the constitutional loan, making $4,500,000 in all, to enlarge the Erie, the Oswego and the Cayuga and Seneca canals, for completing the Black River and Genesee Valley canals, and to provide for the payment of certain canal revenue certificates. The commissioners’ authority to borrow from time to time, to pay the appropriations, was by chapter 330, Laws of 1854. Less than a million dollars of this amount had been expended to the close of the fiscal year (September 30, 1854).

Chapter 554, extending the act of the previous year, provided that any completed superintendent’s section might be let by contract for repairs.

By this time the condition of the State finances had become a matter of grave public concern. The revenues from tolls upon the canals were falling off, and it was doubtful if the gross receipts would pay the heavy fixed charges under the Constitution, as well as the rapidly increasing expenditures for maintenance and repairs, and leave any residue to apply on the enlargement. Although this condition and its causes had been the subject of more or less comment for some time, the situation now became so acute that Governor Clark, as a remedy, sent a special message 121 to the Legislature on March 20, advising the reimposition of tolls upon all railroad tonnage diverted from the canals. The canal auditor also expressed similar views in his "Tonnage" report." 122

The Assembly committee of ways and means, to which the Governor’s special message was referred, reported a bill on March 27, to reimpose tolls on railroads. Four thousand copies were ordered printed for distribution. In the bill the railways seem to have been grouped together according to the proportion of their traffic diverted from the canals. All were required to make traffic returns to the canal auditor of all property transported, except neat cattle, horses, sheep, swine, fresh meats, poultry, eggs, butter, cheese and the ordinary baggage of passengers.

The New York Central Railroad Company, the Canandaigua and Niagara Falls, the Oswego and Syracuse, the Rensselaer and Saratoga, the Saratoga and Schenectady, the Saratoga and Washington and the Rome and Black River Railroad Companies were to pay regular canal tolls on freight as if "transported the same number of miles on either of the canals of this State." The New York and Erie, the Buffalo and New York City, the Buffalo, Corning and New York, the Cayuga and Susquehanna, the Canandaigua and Elmira, the Syracuse and Binghamton and the Watertown and Rome Railroad Companies were to pay two-thirds canal rates. The Northern Railroad Company was to pay one-half canal rates." 123

It may be imagined that the provisions of this measure created a flutter in legislative circles. The railroad companies obtained its reference again to committee and an opportunity to be heard. Thousands of printed forms were distributed and from the cities and towns along the lines of the railways came the remonstrances of officials, business men, shippers, bankers, capitalists, stock-holders and other prominent men. The "business men of New York city" added their signatures, upon the plea that trade would be driven from that city. The manuscript petitions of half a century ago are yet preserved in the archives of the State library and an inspection of the lists shows that nearly every name was of some one financially interested in the result of the proposed legislation. This exhibition of the power of railways and of capital, even at that early period, is a striking one. What wonder, then, that the Governor’s message failed of its purpose and that the bill did not again emerge from the committee room. In Senate the committee was divided and presented an adverse report. 124

It may be noted that during the season of 1855 a contract was made to test Samuel J. Seeley’s improved apparatus for operating lock-gates at the Albany weigh-lock. This was by means of a wire cable or chain passing around a sprocket wheel, which was secured to a capstan on either side. This was attached to the gates, so that power applied to the capstan opened both gates. Balance beams were dispensed with and the gates otherwise supported, obviating the necessity of detaching the tow-line. Tests showed that one man could open and close both gates in 35 seconds. Formerly it took five men 56 seconds. One man opened both gates in 12 to 15 seconds. Formerly it took four men 21 to 25 seconds. A six-year-old child, weighing 40 pounds, opened both gates. The improvement was adapted to lift as well as weigh-locks and was a saving of time and money. 125

Engineer George Geddes reported that operations were progressing to reclaim 30,000 acres of Cayuga marsh land. Of the $100,000 appropriation, $69,102.38 had been expended, $60,000 more would be required. 126

It appears that differing views were held at the time as to the relative authority of the canal board and the individual commissioners, who were members of that board. In December, 1855, the board called upon Commissioner Gardinier for certain information. The commissioner did not recognize the authority of the board to sit in judgment on his official acts, and not desiring to establish a precedent, he did not deem himself called upon to comply with the request. The Assembly, by resolution, requested the information to be furnished "within ten days." It was furnished by the commissioner to the canal board within the specified time, and the "precedent" was established. 127

The Governor’s annual message for 1856, reviewing the events of 1855, says in substance: The gross canal receipts for the past fiscal year were $2,639,792.12; expenses of collection, superintendence and repairs were $989,792.12, leaving $1,650,000, -- sufficient to meet constitutional requirements for canal debt sinking fund ($1,300,000) and general fund debt sinking fund ($350,000), but not sufficient for constitutional requirements for interest on loans for enlargement or for appropriations towards a sinking fund for the principal of such debts. Provision for these latter had been made by direct tax. The Governor attributed the embarrassment in finances not to the inability of the canal to pay for their improvements, but to the short time allowed by the constitutional limit of eighteen years, in which to do so. He advised an amendment extending the period, enabling the payment of the State debt from canal revenues and avoiding or reducing direct taxation. The six percent loan of $2,250,000 for enlargement, issued during 1855, brought a premium of $365,880.05. In June, 1855, a revenue-certificate redemption-loan, to cover the issue in 1851 of $1,500,000, brought a further premium of $259,405. The facility with which these and other loans were made, said the Governor, some at only five percent, and the large premiums received, showed not only that the credit of the State was unimpaired but that the prospect of the early completion of the canals had greatly strengthened it." 128

The perennial claims of the Rochester mill owners were again brought to notice by the report of the canal appraisers to the canal board, submitting the awards and testimony under chapter 462, Laws of 1855. The claims extended from 1832 to 1853, inclusive, and amounted to nearly a quarter of a million dollars. After an exhaustive and interesting historical review of the Genesee feeder, the appraisers held that the appropriation of the waters of the Genesee river from the time of the construction of the Erie canal was permanent, and so intended. The State was simply using its own property, the losses since 1832 having been but the legitimate consequences of the rightful and permanent appropriation of 1822. The rejection of such claims followed. As to the permanent injury resulting from the construction of the Genesee Valley canal, claimants on the Seymour and Johnson race were awarded $13,500, and on the Brown race $10,125, as damages.

Chapter 327, Laws of 1854, authorizing a trial of the system of repairs by contract upon not to exceed three superintendent’s sections of the enlarged Erie canal, had been extended by chapter 554, Laws of 1855. When the original law was enacted, there were but two such sections completed. One of them, No. 8, extending from the Limestone creek feeder in Manlius to the foot of lock No. 50, four miles west of Syracuse, a distance of eleven miles, was put under contract for a term of years from the first of October, 1854; the other, section No. 1, at Albany, was put under contract for a similar term from the first of March, 1855. Under the amended act of 1855, the Chenango, Crooked Lake and Oneida Lake canals, and the Chemung canal and feeder, all on the middle division, were put under contract in September for five years from October 1; the Genesee Valley in December for the same period from February 1, 1856; and the Black River and Champlain canals for the same period. Under the contracts let prior to December previous, the repairs had been made as promptly and as well as under the old system, and the navigation satisfactorily maintained at a greatly diminished expenditure, and the commissioners had every reason to believe that the contract system, if fully adopted, would rescue the canals from the extravagance and corruption which, if not arrested, threatened to swallow up the entire revenues. 129

The commissioners of the middle and western divisions approved the suggested plan of abolishing the office of repair superintendent and placing the control with the resident engineers. The Senate canal committee of 1856, having in charge a measure for this purpose, namely, "An Act prescribing regulations for the repairs and superintendence of the canals," heartily endorsed the views of the commissioners. 130 An Assembly bill was also favorably reported, the committee saying that the interests of the State and economy would be promoted by such a change. 131 The Senate requested the canal board to inform them "what, in their judgment, would be the effect of the entire and summary abolition of the canal superintendents ... as to the saving of expenses, the condition and care of the public property, and the general interests of the canals, in the event of the dismissal of that class of officers." This gave the board an opportunity, which they did not neglect. The majority compared the expense of supervision under existing provisions with that by engineers, to the detriment of the latter method, and reported in strong opposition to disturbing the existing system. 132 The minority report 133 of the canal board advocated the passage of the bill, strenuously dissenting from what they termed the "specious and fallacious" arguments of the majority. The Assembly canal committee also advocated its passage, estimating an annual saving thereby of nearly $450,000. But the bill did not pass.

State Engineer Silas Seymour, in his annual report for 1855, said that experience had shown that it was impossible to separate the management of the canals from the deleterious influences of party politics, resulting in wasteful extravagance, and he therefore reiterated his statement of the previous year, that the sale of the public works, in whole or in part, was the only effectual remedy and must eventually take place. He approved the plan of abolishing the office of repair superintendents, or at least of placing them in control of the commissioners, instead of the canal board. He said that 564 separate contracts were then in process of execution, extending over about six hundred miles of canal, and entailing a large amount of engineering services. He called attention to the wall benches as constructed upon eighty-five miles of the Erie canal prior to 1848, and said that it would become necessary, at some future period, to remove that bench or hip which formed a projection in the prism, and to make its size and form to correspond with the plans adopted in 1848, and sanctioned by the canal board. In his own estimates submitted, he had made no provision for the change referred to. 134 This is here noted as seemingly the first official reference to what, a decade later, proved to be one of the most persistent causes of complaint in canal management and expenditures.

The Assembly ways and means committee, on March 28, 1856, presented a report upon the financial condition as related to the canal improvements, -- the policy of indebtedness and the now obvious conclusion that the sum authorized for its completion by the amendment of 1854 would fall several millions short of being sufficient to accomplish the results expected. Their criticism fell severely upon the fallacious estimates based upon anticipated revenues from the canals, which were subject to so many unreliable contingencies; they condemned the clause which provided that the work should be so progressed as to bring the entire line into use at once, saying:

"The moneys authorized by the amended constitution to be raised to complete our public works will fall short of accomplishing that result. The act under which the appropriations are made was so framed as to leave every work unfinished when the nine millions shall have been expended. This was intentional on the part of those who arranged the details of that act, so that when further loans became necessary, an interest might be combined in their favor, powerful enough to rule the State, and to secure enactments for that end. The committee will not stop here to inquire into the character of the deception practiced upon the people at the time the "Nine-million" loans were proposed, nor to characterize the policy under which it is to be expended, leaving no work completed. It is sufficient to know, that further means will be required to bring into use the canals, upon which so much money has already been expended, and that the question must soon be met in some practical way.

"Of all the measures proposed to raise money by loans, no one presents the fair, honorable features of that which plainly lays before the people the amount needed, asking them to authorize the loan, and the means of paying the interest and principal when done. Were we called upon, at our present session, to devise the ways and means of meeting this deficiency, we should recommend this course, as in every respect the most safe and satisfactory.

"The provisions of the constitution were intended to meet the necessities of just such a contingency, and it is far better to preserve these provisions intact, than to resort to a periodical amendment of that instrument." 135

In accordance with the provisions of the act of 1854, as stated by the canal commissioners, by which the several contracts for enlargement were to be so timed as to be brought into use at the same time, the entire work had been let to be completed in 1858. "By the amendment to the Constitution of 1854," said the commissioners, "only two and a quarter millions of dollars per annum could be applied of the nine millions authorized to be borrowed for the completion of the canals. These appropriations of two and a quarter millions each, had been made by previous Legislatures, for the three fiscal years ending Sept. 30, 1856, amounting in all to six and three quarter millions of dollars, and leaving two and a quarter millions to be appropriated by the present Legislature for the fiscal year commencing Oct. 1st, 1856. This leaves as the only available funds applicable to the canals after the 1st of October, 1857, the premiums already and hereafter to be realized from the loans of the above nine millions, which are estimated as nearly as may be to amount to $1,595,854.32. The cost of the completion of all the canals from the 1st of Jan., 1854, including engineering expenses, and land damages,

As estimated by the State Engineer at   $13,131,808.74
From this amount deduct the $9,000,000.00  
And the estimated premiums and interest $1,595,854.32  
Showing a deficiency of   $2,536,074.42

in the amount necessary for the completion of the canals. This amount must be supplied in such manner as the present or succeeding Legislature may direct." 136 In making this statement to the Assembly of 1856, the canal commissioners advocated an extension of the time limit on loans, to enable the canal revenues to meet the charges.

In view of the increased estimates submitted, the Assembly endeavored, by department inquiries, to obtain an accurate statement of the actual situation of the work of enlargement on the several canals of the state, giving the statement of the Erie in divisions, and showing how nearly the entire work had been put under contract, when such contracts were to expire, what would be the probable deficit (after expending the nine millions provided by law), required for their completion, and whether or not a new basis of apportionment would be necessary to assure their synchronous completion. The canal board replied that the entire work was under contract, excepting sundry items aggregating less than $200,000. The progress of the work, they said, was governed by the appropriations to each purpose rather than by the time limit of the contracts. It was then contemplated to bring the enlargement of the Erie canal into use from Albany to Montezuma by May 1, 1857, while the lateral canals and the western division of the Erie could not be completed until two years later. The deficit was estimated at $2,519,226.65. This was the opinion of five of the nine members of the board. The minority, including Lieutenant-Governor H.J. Raymond, State Engineer Silas Seymour and Commissioners Gardinier and Fitzhugh were of the opinion that a different basis of apportionment was necessary, so as to bring forward the western division and the Oswego and lateral canals, in order to permit the passage of boats of equal size, tonnage and draught with the eastern division. 137

Among the most important structures of the Erie canal was the "Richmond" or Montezuma aqueduct, spanning the Seneca river, and known at that time by the name of its designer, Van R. Richmond. This was brought into use in the spring of 1856. It had a wooden trunk with a clear width of fifty feet at water-surface, which was carried upon thirty piers and two abutments of hydraulic stone masonry. The thirty-one openings or waterways for the river were each twenty-two feet wide and eleven feet high. The foundation floor covered an area of 79,783 square feet, or nearly two acres, supported on 4,464 bearing piles, varying in length from fifteen to thirty feet. The towing-path, with a parapet wall three and one-half feet high, was carried over on thirty-one stone arches. During construction a wooden lock temporarily connected the navigation of the old canal with the aqueduct level. On completion this level was extended to the Clyde lock. 138

Although the unexpended [see errata] balances of the appropriations for the enlargement were $1,561,086.53 on September 30, 1855, that sum, with the annual appropriation of $2,250,000, was exhausted before October 1, 1856, by commissioners’ drafts in favor of contractors, engineers, and for land damages and payments for other objects chargeable to these appropriations, and it became necessary, according to the commissioners’ representations, to anticipate the appropriations for the next fiscal year, in order to preserve navigation and complete some works necessary to be brought into use on the lateral canals. Under these circumstances of imperative necessity, commissioners’ drafts to the amount of $123,527.88 were paid by the auditor and refunded out of the appropriation under chapter 148, Laws of 1856.

In the State Engineer’s report for 1856, it appears that in October notice was given to various contractors that current appropriations were exhausted, and thereafter work was generally confined to bringing the largest amount of enlarged canal into practical use before the entire means provided (under the amendment) for this purpose should have been expended.

The operations at Jack’s reef for draining the Cayuga marshes were continued throughout 1856, with the result of lowering the water at Cross lake two and one-half feet, with a probability of four and one-half feet on completion. The supply bill for 1857 appropriated $25,000, and it was estimated that $55,000 more would be required for completion. $130,239.56 was expended to January 1, 1857, including $36,516.83, as extra allowance, granted to the contractor by the Legislature of 1856 for difficult excavation and "under-water work." 139

In reviewing the situation at the close of 1856, Governor John A. King, in his annual message to the Legislature of 1857, said that in 1855 the repair expenses were $887,934.46, and in 1856, when more finished sections had been put under contract, they were $669,405.16, making a reduction of $568,460.04 from the amount spent in 1854 for the same purpose. In calling attention to the deficiency that would exist after the loans authorized in 1854 had been exhausted, he said that the work had generally been contracted for below the estimates and on terms favorable to the State, and that this deficiency arose because the estimate for the amendment of 1854 had not included expenses for engineering, land and other damages. However much this condition might be regretted, this deficiency was to be met, the interest at stake being too important to allow of suspense.

However, the Governor took an optimistic view of the situation, saying that there were 892 miles of canals, which would cost, completed, $50,000,000. The deficiency then existing was only about one-twentieth of their cost and could be well borne by a State in its manhood, with an assessment roll of fourteen hundred million dollars. No thought of hesitancy in completing the canals, much less any purpose of selling them, should be entertained for a moment.

Comptroller Burrows also advocated a direct tax, as suggested by Governor King. To State Engineer Clark’s estimate of a deficiency of $2,535,974, he would add, for safety, enough to make a round $3,000,000, and he said that a three-quarter-mill canal tax for three years to come would raise a million annually and would be more quickly available than the method by a constitutional amendment. 140

In his annual report 141 for 1856, submitted January 15, 1857, the State Engineer said: "The following estimate is now submitted to the Legislature as the most reliable one that can be formed of the total cost (from and after the 31st December, 1853) of the ‘enlargement of the Erie, the Oswego, the Cayuga and Seneca canals, and the completion of the Black River and Genesee Valley canals, and the enlargement of the locks on the Champlain canal,’ as provided for in the amendment to the Constitution adopted on the 14th day of February, 1854." Condensed, the estimates cover, for work done in 1854, 1855 and 1856, including land damages and engineering, $9,174,909.80; and to complete the work, $5,075.090.20; in the aggregate, $14,250,000. This assumed that the extra $1,500,000, raised in 1854, provided payment for all work done prior to that time and under the revenue certificates of 1851. The State Engineer said that when the amendment of 1854 was adopted it was supposed that the surplus canal revenues, together with the loan of nine millions then authorized, including premiums and interest on premiums, would provide for the cost of the improvements. It was now patent that no reliance could be placed upon the surplus revenues for this purpose. Deducting the proceeds of the loan -- amounting to, say, $10,500,000 -- there remained a deficiency of $3,750,000.

The question of the hour, to him, appeared to be: "How can the surplus revenues of the canals be used as a basis to secure their completion within the shortest practicable time?" 142 To save the delay which another amendment would cause, he advocated borrowing from the people a sufficient amount to avoid suspension of the work, and at the same time proposing an amendment providing means for the repayment of the loan and for the completion of the work. This would mean taxation in combination with a constitutional amendment and an extension of the loans, so that the canal revenues would ultimately take care of the debt.

As to the management of the canals, he blamed the interference of partisan politics through the medium of a canal board of nine members, of which only the engineer and the three commissioners were assumed to have practical knowledge of canal affairs and were respectively held responsible in their departments for its success. Yet the board, and not the State Engineer, appointed the engineers in charge of work; the board, and not the commissioners, appointed the superintendents of repairs; these appointments possibly depending on the political complexion of the canal board.

He advocated a modification of the law requiring the letting of contracts "to the lowest bidder," in the interests of good management, as Mr. Clark, his predecessor, had done before him.

Commissioner Fitzhugh, of the middle division, expressed his continued confidence that the system of repair contracts, while not perfect, was yet a great improvement on the old system. As to appointments, he said the canal commissioners were held responsible by the public for the condition of the canals under their charge, while the agents appointed to carry out the details of superintendence and repairs were often not only appointed without their consent, but against their remonstrances.

"The appointment of engineers by the Canal Board," he said, "without reference to the wishes of the State Engineer, or his opinion of their capacity to discharge the duties to which they must be assigned by him -- often of persons of whose qualifications he is entirely ignorant -- the conflict between the Canal Board and the State Engineer as to the right of one or the other to locate engineers, and the frequent changes that have been made in their appointment, has resulted in a state of instability, confusion, insubordination and inefficiency in that department, highly prejudicial to the public interests, and which demands prompt correction at the hands of the Legislature. 143

The canal auditor, N. S. Benton, in his report for 1856, made a careful analysis of the increase and decrease of various classes of canal freights. He said: "The ascertained results presented are ... worthy of much reflection. They not only show the steady and progressive increased carriage and movement, by railway, and the steady and progressive decreased carriage and movement by canal, but they also show the description of freight wherein the carriage by rail exceeds that of the canal." He compared the tonnage and the tolls received since 1851, and said: "The average [tolls] of 1851, on the tonnage of 1856, would give $3,542,178 of tolls" (a million more than the actual receipts). He was satisfied that the rates of toll, as arranged in 1851, might be imposed on most of the property transported on the canals, without any injury to trade, if the Legislature would interpose its constitutional authority to protect the trade of the canals; and he ventured the prediction then, that the cheapening of transportation by the canal would not enable the State to realize a revenue commensurate to the constitutional demands upon the canal tolls, without the specific legislation referred to in his report to the commissioners of the canal fund, namely, the reimposition of canals tolls upon competing railroads. 144 The canal board was at this time advocating to the Legislature a further reduction of tolls on certain articles.

In his annual report to the commissioners of the canal fund for the same year, the auditor said : "In order to meet all these constitutional appropriations and requirements, the surplus annual revenues of the canals must amount to $3,277,389.07. 145 They had not, as he stated, amounted to this sum in any year either before or since 1846, and would not for years to come, unless measures were taken to increase the net receipts by reducing expenses and protecting the State from fraudulent practices and devices. The charges for extraordinary repairs were entirely within the control of the canal board. The administration of the system might be vicious, while the system itself might be faultless. The auditor deprecated any reduction in the rate of tolls. In this connection it is of historical interest to note his statement that, "when the railroads from Albany to Buffalo were chartered, it was supposed the State would lose all the tolls on packet boats and passengers, as soon as the lines were completed and opened for traffic. In 1836, these tolls amounted to nearly $100,000; in 1840, to $36,815; in 1855, to $1,228; and in 1856, they touched zero. It was not until after 1850, however, that the railroads succeeded in taking all or nearly all the emigrant passengers from the canals. 146

In this same document is contained an extremely interesting, though futile, argument upon the constitutionality of the act of 1851, abolishing tolls upon railroads. The auditor said that when the Constitution was adopted in 1846, some of the railroads were entirely prohibited by their charters from carrying freight under any conditions, while others could do so only upon payment of tolls. By chapter 270, Laws of 1847, all the railroads were allowed to take freight, but only upon the payment of tolls, which tolls were to go to the canal fund. This was not considered as a violation of the sixth section of article seven, because it did not alienate any part of the canal income. As the Legislature could not "sell, lease or otherwise dispose of any of the canals," it followed that their revenues, "known, fixed and enjoyed when the Constitution was adopted," could not be alienated, but must "remain the property of the State and under its management." "The State held an ungranted franchise in 1846," said the auditor, "which seemed to its citizens a sure and certain immunity from all future burthens in regard to a class of specified claims. Should or can that franchise be alienated before all the beneficial objects for which it was held, had been satisfied. 147 If the State could grant away any portion of its revenues, he argued, it could dispose of them all without reserve. The act to abolish tolls on railroads was passed as a majority bill on July 10, 1851. In the printed session laws it does not appear that a three-fifths quorum was present, or that it was passed by a two-thirds vote.

"Did not the act of 1851," he continued, "release, discharge or commute some claim or demand of the State? If so, then it can have no constitutional efficacy, unless it was voted for by a majority of all the members elected to each house, when a three-fifth quorum was present.

"Did the act appropriate public moneys or property for local or private purposes? If it did, then it could have no constitutional validity, except with the assent of two-thirds of the members elected to each branch of the Legislature.

"If the Legislature cannot sell, lease, or otherwise dispose of any of the canals of the State, can it sell, lease, or in any manner alienate or dispose of the profits, income, or tolls of the same?

"Can the Legislature, by direct action, of any kind, so reduce the canal tolls as to render the surplus insufficient to meet the trusts constitutionally charged upon them? or in other words, would a law be valid which fixed the tolls at so low a rate, as to produce only income, sufficient to pay the ‘expenses of collection, superintendence and ordinary repairs,’ and leave the trust funds to be provided for in some other way?" 148

To the argument that the reclamation of the railroad tolls would be an exertion of power, hurtful to trade and commerce, and be open to the charge of establishing a monopoly in the transportation of merchandise to market, it was answered that, if it was only a question of the reimposition of tolls or of repealing the law of 1847, there might be some grounds for its consideration, but such was not now the case. It had become a question of whether "the State, to redeem its obligations, [would] resort to the capacity and income of the canals to enable it to maintain its high and commanding position; or [would] it cripple the capacity of its public works, by surrendering to corporations, which are but the mere creatures of its will, the power to take so much of the carrying trade as may suit their pleasure or purpose, and thereby from loss of revenue, be compelled to turn round and levy a tax upon the people to replenish an exhausted treasury, and enable it to perform its whole duty to the public creditors." 149

"It is difficult," said the auditor, "to see the justice or the right, or even the expediency of our loading posterity with a debt of our own creation, when the heritage we give them therefor is a poor, old worn out and dilapidated canal, whose income from year to year we have handed over to the pockets of private individuals instead of applying it to the payment of this inheritable public debt." 150

There was no doubt, in his mind, but that the canals would be able to maintain themselves and eventually to pay their indebtedness, if they could have the benefits of the carrying trade for which they were built. If it were true that shippers would pay fifty per cent more for transit by rail, it should not be forgotten that the State had called these railways into existence, not alone by the exercise of its sovereign power in granting their franchises, but by a direct loan, and later a grant, of some three millions in one case and six hundred thousand-dollar loans in several others, without which they would not have been completed when they were. If these considerations were not sufficient, the State could further say "that the completion of the Erie canal in 1826, opened the facilities for planting an empire at the west which now compared favorably in population and production with the old thirteen States in 1774, and that the development of production and trade consequent upon the construction of the canals, now [brought] to the railways a traffic, the annual receipts from which far [exceeded] the original cost of the Erie canal." If it appeared that "by railway diversion and competition, the trade and traffic on the canals [was] seriously impaired, and the revenues so diminished and diverted as not to be sufficient to satisfy the annual charges upon them, such an exigency must fully justify the act of reclamation." It was "a financial fallacy to say these tolls [were] not wanted to pay the interest on the new debt of $11,000,000, while the present deficiency [continued]. This process of borrowing money to pay the annual interest, [would] increase that debt about $11,000,000 more by ... 1872, if the bottom of the loan bag [should] not be sooner reached." 151

The legislative journals of the year 1851 show that the bill "to abolish tolls on railroads" passed the senate on July 9, by a final vote of 22 for and 5 against, 152 and the Assembly on July 10, by a final vote of 81 for and 16 against. 153

The net results of the legislation of 1857 were: the passage of chapter 363, as we have stated, providing for a general tax of one mill on the dollar for canal purposes and for a $500,000 loan; chapter 364, appropriating from the revenues for the fiscal year beginning October 1, for maintenance and ordinary repairs and collection, $850,000, for interest and principal of the canal debt of 1846, $1,700,000, for the general fund debt sinking fund $350,000, for sinking fund for loans under section three of article seven, $410,000, and for State expenditures $200,000, these being all "constitutional items;" chapter 365, for the enlargement and completion of the canals, appropriating $3,250,000 from the balance of premiums on loans and the proceeds of the mill tax above provided for, including the half million loan; appropriating $29,569.08 to pay the awards of the canal appraisers on the Genesee river claims, and confirming the awards; and a concurrent resolution on March 2, forbidding contractors from letting or leasing surplus canal waters under their charge, under penalty of forfeiture of contract.

"In 1857, another amendment was proposed to § 3 of article 7, authorizing the legislature to borrow $4,000,000 to complete the canal improvements." 154 So reads the Constitutional History of New York. Such a joint resolution appears to have been introduced in Assembly on February 20, but we are unable to find that the Senate took any action thereon, to make it "joint."

The appropriations for enlargement and completion were again exhausted by June of 1857, and the auditor faced the alternative of causing the work to be stopped, or of borrowing from other funds. The latter course seems to have been taken.

During the year the Erie, the Oswego and the Cayuga and Seneca canals were navigated by boats drawing four feet of water and carrying 130 to 150 tons. Prior to bringing the completed line of enlarged locks into use in 1854 and 1855, the burden of boats was from 90 to 100 tons. Navigation was greatly interrupted and embarrassed during 1857, more than in any previous year. The severe winter and spring retarded work. No boats passed between Buffalo and Lockport prior to June 1, and numerous breaches subsequently obstructed traffic between Lockport and Clyde.

On November 19 a heavy snow storm and severe cold weather closed the Erie west of Rochester, cutting off Buffalo east-bound shipments at a critical period of the season. On the middle division three breaches at the centerport aqueduct suspended navigation eight days in May, and another near Durhamville, two days in June. On the eastern division navigation was suspended for ten days in all. These were caused by excessive floods and by admitting water upon green and unsettled work. A large amount of tonnage was diverted to the railroads, and with the general depression of business throughout the country, this resulted in diminishing tolls to the extent of $702,562 below the previous year.

The heavy floods demonstrated the value of the work of draining the Cayuga marshes. The cut at Jack’s reef was completed at a total cost of $150,409.54, and the area benefited was covered by several less feet of water than ever before.

The amount estimated for work done, engineering, land damages, etc., upon the enlargement and other works authorized by the Constitution, during 1854, 1855 and 1856, as has been stated was $9,174,909.80. The estimates for 1857, in addition, were $2,862,923.07, making $12,037,832.87 in all.

Governor King’s message to the Legislature of 1858, in a spirit of fairness towards the railroads, recommended "as an equivalent for re-establishing the tolls on freight, that railroad companies paying such tolls, be permitted to make such equitable increase in their present charges for the transportation of passengers as the Legislature [might] authorize." Evidently the sentiment in favor of reimposing tolls was yet strong and the Governor’s view was hopeful that such would be the result. "Of the canals," said he, "I must speak at some length and with entire frankness, not concealing whatever there may be of disappointment and discouragement in the statement to be made, but as certainly not doubting nor desponding, either as to the ability, the obligation, or the expediency of persistent efforts and sacrifices, if need be, speedily to complete the enlargement. 155 He referred to the fact that the net tolls for the preceding fiscal year had fallen short by $110,984.40 of the $1,700,000 required for the canal debt sinking fund and also the $350,000 for the general fund debt, or in all, $461,984. The work of enlargement, he said, had been advantageously and steadily prosecuted during the past year. Assuming the Engineer’s estimates of $14,250,000 for completing the enlargement to be correct, and giving all proper credits, a deficiency of $2,500,000 still remained, to meet which there was only the half million loan, authorized the previous year but not yet negotiated. He suggested, in addition to restoration of tolls on competing railroads, that canal tolls be raised to the limit of expediency, and that the balance be raised by a direct half-mill tax, equitably spread over the next two years, thus allowing the completion of the great work by the beginning of 1860, with an income which should thereafter obviate the necessity of taxing the people.

The annual report of the canal commissioners to the same Legislature, after a tabulated comparison of the expense of contract repairs with the former system, said: "The foregoing statements show clearly the greater economy of the system of letting the repairs of the canals by contract, compared with the old plan, still in operation on more than half of the superintendent’s sections, of hiring men to do the work by the day or month, under the discretion of the superintendents; and convinces the canal commissioners of the eastern and middle divisions, that the repairs of all the completed sections of the canals should be placed under contract as early as practicable." 156 As to the completion of the canals, the commissioners said that the report of the State Engineer gave the amount required to complete, after January 1,1858 as $3,711,167.13. Sound public policy and a wise economy demanded that these sums should be appropriated to the several canals, so that their completion might be effected by the spring of 1859. To suspend the work, even for a short period, would involve a loss in materials collected and tools and machinery on the line, and claims of contractors for damages incurred by suspension, nearly, if not quite equal to the amount required to bring the canals into full use.

Opposing the argument then frequently advanced -- to sell the canals and clear the State from debt, in view of diminishing revenues and the necessity for further taxation -- the commissioners said that if such sale should be made, no matter who might be the purchaser, the inevitable laws of trade would soon bring the canals into the hands of the railways, rates would be raised to the limit of their power of enforcement and the regulative benefits of the canals would be forever lost. Since 1850 tolls had been frequently reduced "to meet the competition of railroads," as they frankly admitted. If the tolls of 1846 had been retained upon the tonnage of 1856, the revenues would have been nearly five million dollars, and had the railways added their quota of tolls to the State treasury, the aggregate sum of seven and a half millions would have been in hand. In freights alone these figures gave some idea of the value of the traffic, said the commissioners. It is to be noted that they likewise gave some idea of the disastrous effects of railway competition for the traffic of the canals. They admitted that but for this competition even a higher rate than the tolls of 1846 might be maintained at this time without complaints; but for the regulative effect of the State canals, the additional cost to the people of the State of marketing their own domestic products would annually exceed the amount required to complete the canals.

Could it be doubted, the commissioners argued, that if both were under single corporate control, rates during the entire year would be advanced. The tariffs of the great lines even then were regulated by "conventions," and limited by their power to injure or annoy each others business. "Consolidation in some form or other," said they, "will exist sooner or later, between roads in competition for any given trade." This deliberate admission, made half a century ago by men whose business it was to be of broad knowledge and conversant with trade and transportation conditions, has been absolutely fulfilled in these latter days of combinations and of trusts, that it seems prophetic in its accuracy. Give to a single corporation the power to control and manage both, continued the commissioners, and "it would make its own laws. It is notorious that railroad influences have controlled the legislation of this State, when they pleased to do so, at any time since the consolidation of 1853; and that the law for resuming the enlargement and completion of the canals in 1851, could not have been passed without the passage of an act also for releasing the railroads from canal tolls. 157

This means, if anything, that even at that early day the State, with all its power of the prestige of the canals and with public opinion behind it, was helpless to complete its canal improvements without the consent of the railroad interests, then comparatively infant in their proportions; and the price of that consent was the State’s relinquishment, present and prospective, of its right to control the traffic which its canals had built up and made possible, by its people and for its people, and of its ability to build and maintain its hospitals, asylums, schools, roads and public improvements, to maintain the expenses of its State government and to pay its onerous indebtedness without the direct taxation of its people therefor. Is it then strange that, as elsewhere quoted, it was later said that every dollar of subsequent taxation and of indebtedness should be called "not a canal but a railroad debt"? The old, old question is as pertinent today as then -- "Upon what meat doth this our Cæsar feed, that he is grown so great?"

In reply to an Assembly resolution of March 16, inquiring as to the amount necessary to complete the canals and also as to the amount of work done for which no provision for payment had been made, the State Engineer answered that his estimates, based on the reports of his assistants in January preceding, called for $4,955,777.14. 158 To his estimate of cost, including the year 1857, which we have given at $12,037,832.87, there should now be added his estimates for costs after that date -- $3,712,167.13 -- making a total of $15,750,000, as given in his annual report to the Legislature of 1858. An increase of $1,500,000 will be noticed over the estimates of the previous year. The causes of this, he alleged, were: the more expensive character of the work as developed; an additional number and increased cost of structures, with substitution of vertical for slope wall authorized by "special acts of the Legislature and resolution of the Canal Board;" and various other changes and addition most of which were required by the transition from the old to the new canal. 159

The State Engineer again called attention to the probable necessity of bottoming out and of removing the wall benches from about 85 miles of the enlargement, as we have previously noted, at a probable expense of about a million dollars. These were caused by a change of plan in 1848, which, as State Engineer Clark had said in 1855, added to its cost, but greatly improved its capacity and usefulness, besides reducing the cost of maintenance. The change, he estimated, would add nine percent to the capacity of the canal and would facilitate the movement of loaded boats.

In the Senate, on March 24, the State Engineer was requested to report the earliest day at which six feet of water could be secured through the entire length of the Erie canal. His reply 160 stated that all the necessary work could be done and the canal opened on May 1, 1859. As a precaution, however, against breaches, in opening a large amount of new work during the spring of 1858, it was advised that the opening be made with only the ordinary depth of water, to be afterwards deepened to six feet, as this might be done with safety. Two things are evident from this resolution and report -- that the Senate was impatient at the procrastination, and that there was a marked discrepancy between the "ordinary depth " referred to above and the seven feet of water required by the plans for the enlargement.

In April of this year still further reductions of the toll-sheet were made by the canal board, including rates on wheat and flour, in order, as they said, to retain and increase canal shipments of those articles. 161

The net results of importance in legislation of 1858 appear have been the following: chapter 263, authorizing the auditor pay interest on canal commissioners’ drafts in certain cases; chapter 353, which provided for a half-mill general tax to replenish the canal fund from which to pay interest on the canal debt under section three, article seven of the Constitution, as amended in 1853; chapter 329, transferring $1,686,734.49 of unexpended Erie enlargement balances to the completion of sundry laterals; chapter 210, providing, from canal revenues, for maintenance, $900,000, for deficiency in 1856, $70,453.46, for the constitutional payment of interest and principal of the canal debt of 1846, $1,700,000, for general fund debt sinking fund, $350,000, for interest on constitutional loans for canal enlargement, $720,000, for constitutional loan sinking fund, $450,000 (only to be paid from the revenues after payment of the item of interest on the debt as above), and for State expenses, $200,000.

Concerning the practical results of legislative action looking toward the speedy completion of the Erie canal, its friends were disappointed The Legislature had under consideration a bill by which $3,800,000 would have been available, both for the payment of debts of construction, for land damages and for prosecuting the work to completion. But the two branches seem to have disagreed over minor details, with the result that adjournment came and the bill failed to become a law. The diversion, also, of the unexpended balances from the Erie enlargement funds to the laterals, as noted, left the work on the main line restricted for lack of means.

However, under the provisions of chapter 263, as construed by the canal commissioners, work continued and numerous contracts were completed, final estimates given, and commissioners’ drafts issued in payment. The aggregate of these drafts by the close of the year 1858 was estimated by the auditor at $1,700,000 beyond the means appropriated for their payment. This state of affairs naturally led to sharp recriminations between these officials.

Three hundred and one separate contracts were in existence during 1858; 166 were completed and settled, amounting to $4,441,914.35, which included the settlement of 28 contracts canceled by the canal board; 135 contracts were still existing at the close of the year. The whole amount of work not under contract was estimated at $765,916.24.

An effort was made during the season to secure six feet of water throughout the entire length of the Erie canal, but the large amount of work necessary and the short time allowed for its accomplishment rendered it impossible to fully realize such a result. There were a number of places along the unfinished portions of the line where the full depth of six feet could not be reached in time for the opening of navigation (1859), and at other places the width obtained was not sufficient to allow heavily loaded boats of the largest size to freely pass each other. The State Engineer considered, however, that during the next season the six-foot depth could be entirely realized, with the full width of enlargement, while legitimately progressing with the work toward completion.

"Notwithstanding the amendment adopted in 1854," says Judge Lincoln, "the canals continued to be a troublesome element in State affairs. The adoption of that amendment did not prevent the introduction of others, and the agitation continued, and the dissatisfaction with the canal article found expression, not only in proposed amendments, but also in the project for a constitutional convention. In 1858, a petition was presented to the Senate reciting that there had been a great falling off in canal revenues, and a large increase in the expenses of carrying on the government, thereby swelling up the taxes; therefore, with the view of relieving the people from the large amount now unnecessarily expended to sustain the executive and legislative departments, and to secure the honest and better administration thereof, all petitioners prayed that act be passed calling a convention to revise the Constitution, abolishing the executive and legislative departments of the government, and vesting their powers in the president, vice-president, and directors of the New York Central Railroad Company. This curious petition, signed by 86 persons, was presented on the 2d of March. It seems to have been taken seriously, and was referred to the committee on canals. On the 13th Mr. Stow, chairman of that committee, ‘to which was referred the petition of citizens for a convention to revise the Constitution of the State,’ reported a bill for that purpose.... According to the journal, the bill seems to have had its origin in the petition." 162 The bill was passed, became chapter 320 and the question was submitted to the people in the following November, being defeated by the narrow margin of only 6,360 votes.

Governor Edwin D. Morgan assumed office at the beginning of 1859. He addressed himself to the Legislature upon the subject of the State finances as he found them, and which were again at this time so inextricably entangled with those of the canals as to be incapable of separate treatment. The funded canal debt at the close of the previous fiscal year was $24,307,704.40, and the new canal debt was $12,000,000. In addition there were outstanding commissioner’s drafts of $1,000,000; interest charges, $955,000; other land damages, $1,000,000; and to make good the contractor’s reserve of 15 percent, $500,000. If his figures were correct, said the Governor, these additional items made a new debt against the State of more than $4,000,000 for canals alone, without any estimates for their completion, a large part of which had been created without warrant of the Constitution, but which must, however, be met and paid.

The Governor believed that $2,100,000 would essentially complete the system, except the removal of the Erie wall benches, which was not required for the immediate needs of navigation. The entire channel of the Erie could also be deepened to seven feet, at a cost of $300,000, including $25,000 for deepening the present channel through the Cayuga marshes; another $150,000 would deepen the Oswego canal to six feet. An alternative plan would be to secure six feet of water on the Erie, the Oswego and the Cayuga and Seneca canals, and to proceed with the permanent work across the Cayuga marshes during the winter of 1859, at a cost of half a million dollars, and then to provide for the final completion of the canals by the spring of 1860. However, the Governor urged that, whatever course should be taken, the improvements should be pushed to a speedy completion, in view of the millions which had already been expended and the small amount required.

The estimated cost of the work remaining to be done to complete the enlargement of the Erie, the Oswego, and the Cayuga and Seneca canals, to complete the Black River and Genesee Valley canals, and to enlarge the locks of the Champlain canal, as given by the State Engineer, was at this time $2,900,540.37, to which should be added $467,135.58, -- the amount of the 15 per cent retained from existing contracts by virtue of chapter 329, Laws of 1854. Referring to his estimates of March 24, 1858, for completion -- $4,955,777.14, -- the State Engineer explained that, if the cost of completing the new Genesee Valley extension ($88,333.70) should be added, making $5,044,110.14, and from this gross sum be taken the 15 per cent retained ($835,691.17), and the expenditures during 1858 ($1,833,639.20), a balance of $2,324,780.47 would be left. His present estimate exceeded this sum by $575,759.90, made up of land damages, changes of plan, increased estimates, etc. These estimates, however, did not include the removal of wall benches on the 85 miles of canal completed according to plans adopted prior to 1848. He did not deem it necessary to remove these obstructions at this time. He believed that with needed funds the entire work could be finished by the spring of 1860. The most important part of the enlargement remaining to be done, and the only portion not then in use, was across the Cayuga marshes. It would require vigorous and unremitting labor at this point to bring the canal into use by the spring of 1860. The amount of work necessary to produce seven feet of water before the opening of navigation in 1859 would render the task difficult if not impossible. Moreover, six feet of water would enable experiments in steam navigation to be tried. The successful application of this new power, the completion of the canals, and the adoption of such a tariff as would secure the trade, were the hope of the canals, to successfully relieve themselves from the weight of debt and taxation, and to fulfill the high destiny they were designed to accomplish. 163

An effort was made at this time to induce the Federal government to bear a portion of the expense of our internal improvements, but with the usual want of success. The canal board and commissioners united in a joint memorial, 164 in January, 1859, reciting the expenditures already made by the State and the general benefits which had resulted to the commerce of the several States interested. They asked for a refunding of the expenditures upon the Buffalo pier and breakwater, which had always been kept separately and which then amounted to $179,473, or, with interest added, $230,300, and that the Government should properly protect, at national expense, the harbors at Buffalo and Oswego and the other harbors along the Great Lakes, which were used to shelter national shipping, or as ports of shipment for commerce designed to traverse the lines of the Erie canal. A concurrent resolution of the Legislature approved the purpose of the memorial.

The Senate seems to have had under consideration a plan for the further lengthening of locks to pass boats of 130 feet, instead of 97 feet, as they then did, by moving the lock-gates nearer to the end of the locks. But the State Engineer reported 165 adversely in answer to their inquiry, under date of January 22, 1859. His chief objections were the limitations at Lockport and the great expense of changing conditions there. As a compromise, he suggested that sliding gates could be substituted there, admitting boats 108 feet in length, but this was the utmost and was not recommended.

That the advocates of reimposing railroad tolls still possessed some vitality is shown by the fact that the Senate sought the opinion of the Attorney-General upon the question of the validity of the act of July, 1851. He rendered an elaborate opinion 166 on January 21, upholding its validity mainly upon, the broad ground of the "plenary power of the Legislature for purposes of civil government," quoting the opinion of Denio, J., in People v. Draper, 15 N. Y. R., 543.

It is obvious that the State finances were in a deplorable condition at this time. Indeed, the Comptroller frankly admitted that they must face the unwelcome fact that the treasury was empty. This had been the case for some time. The commissioners of the canal fund had therefore been driven to the necessity of making a temporary loan of $200,000, in July previous, to prosecute work which could not be suspended without serious detriment to the public interests. They also said that the surplus revenues were insufficient to cover the requirements of section one, article seven of the Constitution, to provide for interest and sinking fund for the old canal debt. This loan they asked the Legislature to protect; these deficiencies they urged provision for, to prevent, as they said, the violation of public faith and the disregard of constitutional obligations. 167 Upon this appeal the Senate committee was divided, the majority 168 claiming that the commissioners had power to negotiate a deficiency loan on the credit of the sinking fund, under section three, article seven, while the minority 169 repudiated the power of State officials to borrow money to pay the interest, on, or to "postpone" the payment of its debts, as unconstitutional and a dangerous precedent.

The canal and lock improvements having been followed closely by enlarged craft -- as had invariably been the rule -- the boats again crowded the dimensions both of the waterway and of its bridge clearances. The Legislature sought information from the commissioners concerning those bridges which had not nineteen feet clearance from the bottom of the canal. From their replies 170 we learn that twelve feet from water-surface was the minimum limit and that most of the bridges had been raised to that point. It was said that the approved size of boats for the enlarged canal was understood to be ninety-seven and one half feet long, seventeen and one-half feet wide, and about fourteen feet high. Such must be the size of a boat which would carry barrels of flour, or other like packages of about equal weight and bulk, with greatest economy. A boat of this size, having no cargo, would have about one and one-half feet of draught, and consequently would stand out of the water about twelve and one-half feet. Lighter loads, of lumber and the like, would require more headroom, and eventually all bridges must be raised. But this was not considered essential at present, inasmuch as there was not seven feet of water in the canal.

As to the legislation of 1859, aside from the concurrent resolution already noted, chapter 495 was an effort to remedy some of the existing evils by curtailing the powers of the canal board and commissioners, prohibiting certain acts, among which were the canceling of contracts, except upon the contractor’s application and the making of extra allowances to contractors. Chapter 221 appropriated for maintenance, $900,000; for deficiency of the previous year, $228,878.91; canal debt and interest, $1,700,000; general fund debt sinking fund, $350,000; and for State expenses, $200,000. Chapter 372 imposed a five-eighths-mill tax for the canal fund, from which there was appropriated for Erie enlargement, $412,150; Oswego enlargement, $138,640; and sundry other sums for the laterals, and for interest on commissioners’ drafts and other items of floating indebtedness; the money was not to be used for the payment of "back debts," and no drafts were to be made in future except upon available monies in the treasury; the commissioners were further prohibited from spending any more money across the Cayuga marshes, except to maintain the old line of the canal. Chapter 326 reappropriated certain balances of $330,726.43 to enlargement purposes, under stringent limitations as to its expenditure.

The whole trend of this legislation seems to have been to stop every possible avenue of extravagance or mismanagement which had been the subject of complaint. It was later said of this period, by Governor Morgan, that the people had authorized a new loan of $2,500,000 to pay the "floating debt," but, while they had ever been prompt to meet all just obligations, "they [would] not be likely again to sanction the payment of any debt not authorized by the Constitution and the laws, no matter for what purpose, or under what circumstances incurred. The act of April 6, 1859," he continued, "which prohibits the creation of any similar obligations in future, doubtless contributed much to induce the people to authorize the payment of those which existed." He advised attaching a penalty to the creation of any such indebtedness in future, to "prevent the people from ever again being placed in the dilemma of paying an unauthorized debt or seemingly incurring the stain of repudiation." 171

On April 1, 1859, all the remaining sections of the canals were put under repair contracts. The aggregate sum per annum was $252,292, with $20,000 for superintendence. The Governor believed, however, that this sum was below its fair worth; including lock-tending, it should be in future estimated at about half a million dollars, which sum would maintain the canals in as good condition as when completed." 172

The canal auditor substantially agreed with him, that it was not expected that annual repairs could be maintained for the amount of the contracts, but for $400,000 the canals could be kept in as good repair as they were for twice that sum in the hands of superintendents. If the contracts had not been made, the cost of maintenance would have exceeded a million dollars. 173

During 1859, 73 contracts were completed and settled, 18 new ones were made, leaving 80 existing at the close of the year. The enlargement of the Erie was so far advanced that the estimated amount of work remaining to be done was $675,019.25, and, in the opinion of the State Engineer, the whole work could be so far performed by the opening of navigation in 1860, as to give the full depth of seven feet of water the entire length of the canal.

A comparative view of the traffic on the canals, presented by the auditor’s report covering that period, shows, between the years 1856 and 1859, a startling decrease in tonnage of 334,409 tons carried, and of $964,461 in tolls. Of this latter item the auditor attributed three-quarters of a million dollars to the reduction in rates since 1857.

The contract repair system, under which the canals were now being almost entirely governed, was fairly on trial, and while it was hoped that the system would ultimately prove to be all that could be desired, yet it was so far open to some criticism by the canal commissioners. The clause requiring the award to be made "to the lowest bidder" was objectionable. This often meant too low an amount for profit to the bidder, in which case there was a subsequent abandonment, without sufficient recourse for protection. Additional precautions in the way of deposits for security, they thought, should be exacted, together with increased vigilance on the part of the State over the execution of the contracts.

The Comptroller began his annual report with the pregnant statement that "nearly all the demands upon the General Fund [had] been paid, and the State, by the adoption of the loan law submitted to the people at the recent election, relieved from the disgrace of a floating debt accumulated in violation of the Constitution." 174 The reference was to chapter 271, Laws of 1859, "An act to submit to the people a law authorizing a loan of $2,500,000 to provide for the payment of the floating debt," passed April 13. He continued: "There were many reasons of an equitable character which rightfully operated to induce the people to assume and pay this debt. Whilst the result exhibits a gratifying preponderance of sentiment in favor of fulfilling even doubtful obligations, yet with no organized or ostensible opposition to it, the vote of 77,466 against it, out of an aggregate vote of 202,836, will, it is hoped, have a salutary ... effect in preventing a repetition of the experiment. 175

The State Engineer presented revised estimates of cost, on January 1, 1860, for completing the canals, "according to law," as he termed it. These estimates amounted to $1,679,686.69, which was a slight diminution from the previous year’s estimates. The Cayuga marsh section embraced the most difficult work yet remaining. When completed, the downward lockage at either end of the marsh level would be dispensed with, and the extension of the higher level across the marsh was expected to give safety and expedition to the movement of boats, if the work was not discontinued for want of means. The estimated cost to complete the work was $47,000. The Assembly made inquiry, during its session, concerning the progress of this improvement, and the State Engineer, on March 3, 1860, strongly urged the completion of the drainage plans, in view of the fact that it was almost completed and that it would remove all cause of complaint as to the obstruction caused by the embankment of the new canal. 176

Double enlarged locks were by this time completed and in use on the line of the Erie canal from the Hudson river to the Cayuga and Seneca canal, and from this latter point single enlarged locks to Lake Erie, except at Macedon and Lockport, where they were double.

Historians tell us that at this critical period of affairs State issues were becoming involved and lost sight of in national questions, among which slavery was paramount. The Harper’s Ferry raid in October kindled the blaze of civil war, which thereafter occupied the attention of the people.

Governor Morgan’s annual message of 1860 administered a stinging official rebuke to those canal officials who had contracted the "floating indebtedness" of the previous year, in defiance of the Constitution or of law. He said that he considered that the matter of reduction of tolls for the past few years "to meet railroad competition" had been overdone, that reduction, instead of increase of revenue, had been the result, and that a readjustment should take place. He strongly urged the completion of the canals to a full seven feet in depth by seventy in width, before the opening of navigation in 1861. He said that $1,658,969.37 would be needed to complete them, only one-half of which sum could, however, be advantageously used in the pending year. He recommended the restoration of tolls to the rates that existed prior to the reductions of 1858 and 1859, and he also advocated the reimposition of railroad tolls, at least for a period, until the canals should be completed.

But the Legislature was dilatory in acting upon the suggestions of the Governor and in the latter part of February he addressed them a second time in a special message as to the necessity of increasing canal revenues, again urging the reimposition of railroad tolls as a means of obtaining that result. 177 The Legislature then gave its attention to the subject, so far at least as to again request the Attorney-General’s opinion regarding the constitutionality of the act of 1851. In his opinion, given at the conclusion of a careful historical review of the canal policy of the State from its inception, he considered that the act was a "diversion of the canal revenues," and as such was unauthorized, "unconstitutional and void." 178 This conclusion was diametrically opposed to that of his predecessor, already noted. The majority of the ways and means committee also concurred in this view of the matter, 179 but without accomplishing the result desired.

Before the completion of the costly and long-delayed enlargement could be effected, and long before the heavy indebtedness which it had caused could be paid off or even reduced by the tolls from the increased volume of expected traffic, forwarders and boat-owners were close upon the heels of the improvements, clamoring for still further facilities. Under chapter 213, Laws of 1860, the "big bevels" were ordered removed from the locks in which they occurred throughout the line, and the remaining bridges raised to a minimum clearance of twelve feet above water-surface. It was now complained that on the old "wall-bench" sections the bottom of the canal was obstructed by an accumulation of detritus from these disintegrated benches and from worn tow-paths, until scarcely six feet of water could be obtained, instead of the promised seven. It has been noted already that builders of boats, anxious to utilize every inch of canal and lock section and carry every possible ton of cargo, had enlarged their boats to such proportions that many of the same difficulties, of which they complained before the enlargement, now confronted them, except upon a larger scale. The western division of the Erie, it has been said, still had single locks, while the middle and eastern divisions, where the added traffic of the laterals was encountered, possessed double locks throughout. Larger lock capacity was demanded. The propriety of still further lengthening to increase the capacity throughout the canals, which later in their history became an accomplished fact, had been discussed already. The State Engineer, however, advised finishing the enlargement first, as planned, prior to entering upon any additional improvements. Some experiments had been made with single gates set at the curve of the lock walls, both above and below the existing pairs, but these were not considered successful. The enormous expense of lengthening the lock walls and foundations was an objection, and the report of the State Engineer, adverse to the project, held it in restraint for the time being.

The net results of legislation for the session of 1860 were as follows: chapter 63 appropriated from the revenues, for collections and salaries, $800,000; for old debt, $1,700,000; general fund debt sinking fund, $350,000; interest on constitutional loans for enlargement, $760,000; sinking fund for same (if anything was left from current revenues), $406,243; State expenses, $200,000; and from the tax of the previous year to pay the floating debt loan of $2,500,000, for interest on loans, $150,000, and for sinking fund, $243,055. Chapter 494 imposed a one and one eighth-mill tax to increase the revenues sufficiently to pay the State creditors to the amount of $1,860,050, "or so much thereof as should be required." Chapter 213 provided for a half-mill tax in 1860 and in 1861, to complete the canals, supply them with water, etc.; the water-supply of the Rome level was to be increased; the Erie canal was to have full seven feet of water throughout; the big bevels were to be cut from the locks so as to give eighteen feet width on the miter-sills; [The law was improperly worded; see p. 188 for correct dimensions.] all bridges were to be raised to at least twelve feet clearance; the entire work was to be closed up by June 1, 1861; and the engineering force reduced to a maintenance basis of three division or three resident engineers.

The canal auditor’s report for 1860, p. 7, showed a marked improvement in tolls -- $604,297.59 -- over those of the preceding year, and a decrease in expenses also of $170,902.93, making a total saving of $784,199.52, which was encouraging. The revision of tolls in April of 1860 had resulted in a decided increase of the revenues. No tonnage had been lost by the partial restoration of the rates of 1857, as had been insistently claimed by the opponents of revision, and none would have been lost, in the auditor’s opinion, by their entire restoration.

Meantime a revised estimate ($700,000) had been given by the State Engineer of the cost of the work remaining to be done on January 1, 1861, to complete the canals, exclusive of land damages. During the year 1860, 28 contracts were completed, and 24 new ones were made, leaving 76 contracts existing at the close of the year.

Governor Morgan extended his congratulations to the Legislature of 1861 upon the approach of the end of the enlargement, although it had been accomplished at too great a cost and quite too long delayed. Before the conclusion of their labors, he said, "New York [would] possess, finished and complete, a system of internal works unequaled both for capacity and extent in this or any country." 180 The net gain in increased revenues and decreased expenses, he continued, of the past fiscal year over the preceding one was about three-quarters of a million dollars. The Governor renewed his two suggestions of the previous year; one of them, the increase of tolls, had been acted upon with beneficial results; the other, reimposing tolls upon railroads, he again urged upon their consideration.

On February 21, 1861, the canal board petitioned the Legislature to repeal section three of chapter 213, Laws of 1860, requiring a reduction of the force to three division engineers, and urged that it be left to the judgment of the board, 181 but an examination of the statutes of that year fails to disclose that affirmative action was taken upon the request.

But little canal legislation appears to have been placed upon the statutes during the session of 1861. There seemed to be a disposition to "let well enough alone," at least for a period. The long-deferred enlargement was indeed approaching its conclusion; the system of repairs and operation under contract, while developing some objections so far under practical experience, was yet believed to be capable of being improved in its details, so as to render it more satisfactory. It was beyond question the most economical method yet devised, but the accumulated dilapidations, resulting from contractors’ efforts to save money by using temporary makeshifts and failing to thoroughly maintain the work at its initial standard, were possibly not so thoroughly realized as they were a few years later. The commissioners, indeed, in their report 182 for 1861, discussed the system and its faults, criticising the way in which it "worked out." As one official very pertinently put it: The contractors’ first idea was, "Will these structures hold together until my contract expires?" and repairs were made in the cheapest possible manner, resulting in a general deterioration of the entire section. The less he expended, the more he would save, his compensation depending upon the time expended, rather than upon the amount of labor performed. After he found himself facing the accumulated results of his neglect for a series of years, with but a further loss in sight, abandonment, followed by an appeal to a complaisant Legislature, furnished the relief sought for from further responsibility. It was charged that of all the contracts abandoned, not a single judgment against a contractor or his sureties had been so far collected and paid into the treasury, as provided by the law.

Again, as other reasons for the comparative lack of aggressive canal legislation, there may be considered the steady increase of tolls and the hope that this increase and the lapse of time would improve conditions. National events, too, were of such grave significance as to completely overshadow other and more local issues.

Delays at the five locks of the middle division which were upward lifts to east-bound boats, by reason of the difficulty of disposing of the surplus water in the chamber on entering the lock, were noted by the commissioners in 1861. Boats had grown too large for the chambers and the only escape for the water was underneath. This and the current were objectionable. A stationary engine of five or six horse-power was suggested. In later years this difficulty was overcome by widening the locks and also by the use of a turbine wheel operating a system of haulage by ropes. It may be explained here that during the enlargement the size of boats had been increased from about seventy by fourteen feet, as they were upon the old canal, to about ninety-eight by eighteen feet. The draught had likewise increased from three feet six inches to five feet nine inches, and the cargo from seventy five to nearly two hundred tons.

At the close of the fiscal year the State Engineer again estimated the cost of work remaining to be done on September 30, 1861, to complete the unfinished canals according to law, at $390,000, exclusive of land damages. This estimate did not include an item for "bottoming out" the canal at various points, mostly in the western division, and which was then caused "by an error in the original base or bottom line of the canal." It was thought that $75,000 would cover the expense.

At the close of the fiscal year (1861), 14 additional contracts had been settled, 19 new ones entered into, leaving 80 still existing. The bridges upon the eastern division had been raised, and the big bevels of the locks were practically removed from the entire line, under the provisions of chapter 213, Laws of 1860. The slope wall benches, or "bermes," while causing considerable inconvenience in navigation, especially towards tide-water, were not provided for by an appropriation for their removal, and were left untouched. The Cayuga marsh embankment was reported as substantially completed, and carrying seven feet of water.

As to the lengthening of lock walls and foundations, the estimate was placed at more than one and one-quarter millions, and as the canals were deemed capable of doing twice the business of the previous year and of producing a revenue, at existing rates, of over six million dollars, it was considered unwise to disturb existing conditions. 183

The increase of tolls for the season of navigation in 1861 gave a still brighter aspect to the situation, the increase in revenue being $899,188, and amounting to $3,908,785. Certificates of registry for 619 new boats were issued, with an aggregate tonnage of 95,230 and an average of 154 tons. A comparison of the figures given show that the net tolls of 1860 were nearly double, and those of 1861 more than three times the tolls of 1859, or since the rates had been largely restored to a revenue basis. The trouble seems to have resulted from the failure of the canal board and Legislatures, during the previous period of low tolls, to resist the powerful and continued pressure of shippers, who were constantly urging low rates for the benefit of their own pockets, regardless of their effect upon the revenues of the State and of its ability to pay its constitutional debts as they matured.

It was fortunate and timely in one aspect -- that of the canal revenues -- that the tolls had been brought back from their low rates of 1857-8, and that the general circumstances of the country favored an increased traffic at this juncture. The opening of the Civil war and the early closing of the gateway of navigation by way of the Mississippi left New York as the only route for the products of western agriculture to its markets. Both the railways and the canals reaped rich benefits from these conditions and the tolls of the latter reached the maximum figures so far in its history. The auditor differed somewhat in his reasons, denying that the increase was from western grain, or that New Orleans was a shipping port for bulk grain. His tables show a gain in "vegetable foods" of over one and a quarter million dollars, nearly half of which came from increased rates on wheat, corn and flour in the spring of 1861. 184

Governor Morgan speaks of this increase of revenues, in his message of 1862, as an encouraging exhibit in view of the "years of taxation and disappointment in relation to the cost and income of the canals."

In February of that year, the canal board, replying to a legislative inquiry, advised beginning the construction of thirteen locks, in order to double those on the line between Montezuma and Rochester at an estimated cost of $412,000, together with a guard-lock at Black Rock at a further cost of $35,000. 185

As we have seen, State Engineer Van R. Richmond, still standing against the outside interested pressure for further expenditures and facilities and demanding that the revenues be given an opportunity to pay or reduce the debt of the State, for which they were pledged, strongly maintained that the traffic so far had not reached and for years to come would not reach the ultimate capacity of the canals as they were. In support of this, he said that competitions showed that the original plan, when completed, would furnish ample facilities for delivering to tide-water through the Erie canal 5,220,000 tons, or a total movement of 10,665,011, and a revenue, based upon the rates of 1860, of $6,902,318. It followed, he argued, that no immediate necessity of further enlargement existed, either by lengthening lock-chambers, enlarging the prism by removing wall benches, or by any other method. The plan of these wall benches had been changed in 1848. Prior to that time about 80 miles had been so constructed. Its removal would necessitate an expenditure of $968,000 and it would enlarge the cross-area but little more than six per cent. There had been for several years, he said, a manifest disposition to proceed with the works in question. But in view of the debt for the canals then resting upon the people, he could not approve the expenditure for further or re-enlargement, until the completion of the unfinished work and increased business should have given evidence of its necessity. 186

By the terms of chapter 169, Laws of 1862, passed April 10, the first enlargement of the canals of the state was officially declared completed, although, as a matter of fact, much remained to be done to render them so. This remarkable internal improvement stands out unique in their history, from the fact that its finances were so closely interwoven with the financial policy of the State, and its management was so dominant a factor in its political struggles. For more than a quarter of a century, for one reason and another, had its continuance been prolonged and its completion deferred, until by the passage of this act all contracts contemplated by section three, article seven of the Constitution were ordered closed by September 1, following, after which no work should be done nor material furnished "under pretense of enlarging and completing" the canals, and the powers of the contracting board were to cease.

Other canal legislation of this year, aside from appropriations, was, with a single exception, unimportant. The canal board was authorized by chapter 415 to enlarge the locks of the Erie and Oswego canals so as to permit vessels adequate to the defense of the Lakes to pass, whenever the General Government should supply the means. Such vessels and their supplies and munitions of war were to be forever free of tolls.


1. Assembly Documents, 1830, No. 183, p. 2.

2. Assembly Documents, 1834, No. 88.

3. Assembly Documents, 1851, No. 45, p. 10.

4. Governor’s Annual Message, 1834.

5. Laws of 1834, chapter 312.

6. Assembly Documents, 1835, No. 143.

7. Assembly Documents, 1833, No. 2, pp. 10-12.

8. Id. pp. 12-14.

9. Assembly Documents, 1835, No. 2, Governor’s Annual Message, p. 13.

10. Id. p. 10.

11. Id. pp. 8, 10 and 11.

12. Assembly Documents, 1835, No. 196, p. 2.

13. Assembly Documents, 1835, No. 296, p. 2.

14. Id. p. 42.

15. Assembly Documents, 1835, No. 195.

16. Assembly Documents, 1835, No. 158, pp. 8-9.

17. Id. pp. 7-8.

18. Assembly Documents, 1835, No. 334, p. 4.

19. Id. p. 22.

20. Id. p. 6.

21. Assembly Documents, 1836, No. 99.

22. Assembly Documents, 1836, No. 98, p. 5.

23. Assembly Documents, 1836, No. 2, Governor’s Annual Message, pp. 9-13.

24. Governor’s Annual Message, 1837.

25. Senate Journal, 1837, p. 128.

26. Senate Documents, 1837, No. 53.

27. Laws of 1836, chapter 210.

28. Governor’s Annual Message, 1838.

29. Assembly Documents, 1838, No, 251, p. 8.

30. Laws of 1838, chapter 269.

31. Assembly Documents, 1839, No. 2, Governor’s Annual Message, p. 6.

32. Id. pp. 20-23.

33. Id. p. 23.

34. Assembly Documents, 1839, No. 339.

35. Assembly Documents, 1840, No. 2, Governor’s Annual Message, p. 2.

36. Assembly Documents, 1840, No. 2, pp. 18, 19, 21 and 24.

37. Assembly Documents, 1840, No. 2, pp. 18, 24 and 39.

38. Assembly Documents, 1840, No. 277, p. 1.

39. Assembly Documents, 1840, No. 277, pp. 3-4.

40. Assembly Documents, 1840, No. 204.

41. Assembly Documents, 1840, No. 306.

42. Laws of 1840, chapter 161.

43. Laws of 1841, chapter 194.

44. Charles C. Schneider, in President’s address, Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Vol. LIV., p. 216. Address entitled "The Evolution of the Practice of American Bridge Building"; delivered June 20, 1905.

45. Governor’s Annual Message, 1841.

46. Id. p. 29.

47. Lincoln’s Constitutional History of New York, Vol. II., pp. 82-83. (Rochester, 1906.)

48. Assembly Documents, 1842, No. 24, p. 6.

49. Assembly Documents, 1842, No. 1, Governor’s Annual Message, pp. 19, 23, 24 and 28.

50. Governor’s Annual Message, 1843, p. 12.

51. Assembly Documents, 1842, No. 88.

52. Assembly Documents, 1842, No. 160.

53. Governor’s Annual Message, 1843.

54. Assembly Documents, 1843, No. 25.

55. Assembly Documents, 1844, No. 2, p. 8.

56. Assembly Documents, 1844, No. 177.

57. Assembly Documents, 1844, No. 177, p. 67.

58. Lincoln’s Constitutional History of New York, Vol. II., pp. 86-87.

59. Laws of 1844, chapter 335.

60. Assembly Documents, 1845, No. 236.}

61. Lincoln’s Constitutional History of New York, Vol. II., pp. 612-614.

62. Id. p. 614.

63. Assembly Documents, 1845, No. 251.

64. Constitutional History of New York, Volume II., p. 171.

65. Constitutional History of New York, Vol. II., p. 174.

66. Laws of 1836, chapter 356.

67. Governor’s Annual Message, 1847, p. 8.

68. Annual Report of the Canal Commissioners, 1846, p. 17.

69. Senate Documents, 1848, No. 50.

70. Assembly Documents, 1848, No. 3, pp. 4-5.

71. Assembly Documents, 1848, No. 4, p. 16.

72. Senate Documents, 1849, No. 50.

73. Assembly Documents, 1850, No. 131.

74. Assembly Documents, 1850, No. 129.

75. Senate Journal, 1851, p. 618.

76. Report of Commissioners of Canal Fund, 1850, p. 9

77. Senate Documents, 1851, No. 38.

78. State Engineer’s Annual Report, 1878, p. 14.

79. Assembly Documents, 1851, No. 66.

80. Assembly Documents, 1852, No. 33, p. 78.

81. Assembly Documents, 1852, No. 89, pp. 9-10

82. Assembly Documents, 1852, No. 89, pp. 11 and 24.

83. Senate Documents, 1852, No. 8.

84. Assembly Documents, 1852, No. 89, pp. 11, 25 and 27.

85. Senate Documents, 1852, No. 15.

86. Newell v. People, 7 N.Y. 9. (Note, Abb. Dig. Vol. 3, p. 600.)

87. Assembly Documents, 1853, No. 1, pp. 20-21.

88. Assembly Documents, 1853, No. 23, p. 147.

89. Assembly Documents, 1853, No. 23, p. 188, et seq.

90. Assembly Documents, 1853, No. 8.

91. Assembly Documents, 1853, No. 18.

92. Assembly Documents, 1853, No. 64.

93. Assembly Documents, 1853, Nos. 48 and 54.

94. Assembly Documents, 1853, No. 100.

95. Assembly Documents, 1853, No. 91.

96. Assembly Documents, 1853, No. 99.

97. Assembly Documents, 1853, No. 103.

98. Assembly Documents, 1853, No. 106.

99. Assembly Documents, 1853, No. 106, p. 4.

100. Session Laws, 1853, p. 1263.

101. Assembly Documents, 1853, No. 111.

102. Assembly Journal, 1853, p. 1384

103. Assembly Documents, 1853, No. 77, p. 3.

104. Laws of 1853, chapter 595.

105. Assembly Documents, 1854, No. 5, p. 25.

106. Assembly Documents, 1854, No. 10, p. 25.

107. Id. pp. 28-34.

108. Assembly Documents, 1854, No. 3, pp. 23, 29 and 30.

109. Assembly Documents, 1854, Nos. 16 and 32.

110. Assembly Documents, 1854, No. 63.

111. Senate Documents, 1854, No. 109.

112. Assembly Documents, 1855, No. 50, State Engineer’s Annual Report for 1854, pp. 169-171.

113. Id. p. 172.

114. Assembly Documents, 1855, No. 50, pp. 167-168.

115. Assembly Documents, 1855, No. 5, pp. 8-9.

116. Id. pp. 8, 9, 11 and 25.

117. State Engineer’s Annual Report, 1854, pp. 11 and 147.

118. Canal Commissioners’ Annual Report, 1854, p. 146.

119. State Engineer’s Annual Report, 1854, p. 16.

120. Constitutional History of New York, Vol. II., p. 224.

121. Assembly Documents, 1855, No. 97.

122. Assembly Documents, 1855, No. 95.

123. Assembly Documents, 1855, No. 107.

124. Senate Documents, 1855, No. 74.

125. Canal Commissioners’ Annual Report for 1855, pp. 141-143.

126. Canal Commissioners’ Annual Report for 1855, p. 94.

127. Assembly Documents, 1856, No. 87.

128. Assembly Documents, 1856, No. 3, pp. 2-5.

129. Canal Commissioners’ Annual Report for 1855, pp. 163-164.

130. Senate Documents, 1856, No. 31.

131. Assembly Documents, 1856, No. 31.

132. Senate Documents, 1856, No. 42.

133. Senate Documents, 1856, No. 43.

134. Assembly Documents, 1856, No. 180, pp. 21, 22, 23 and 35.

135. Assembly Documents, 1856, No. 181, p. 27.

136. Assembly Documents, 1856, No. 100, pp. 173-174.

137. Assembly Documents, 1856, No. 191.

138. State Engineer’s Annual Report for 1855, pp. 22, 23 and 108.

139. Canal Commissioners’ Annual Report, 1856, pp. 111-112.

140. Comptroller’s Annual Report, 1856, pp. 54-55.

141. Assembly Documents, 1857, No. 60, pp. 14, 16, 17 and 21.

142. Assembly Documents, 1857, No. 60, p. 16.

143. Assembly Documents, 1857, No. 145, p. 201.

144. Assembly Documents, 1857, No. 185, pp. 6 and 9.

145. Senate Documents, 1857, No. 10, p. 13.

146. Id. p. 37.

147. Senate Documents, 1857, No. 10, p. 40.

148. Id. pp. 41-42.

149. Senate Documents, 1857, No. 10, p. 42.

150. Id. p. 43.

151. Senate Documents, 1857, No. 10, pp. 44-45.

152. Senate Journal, 1851, p. 909.

153. Assembly Journal, 1851, p. 1657.

154. Constitutional History of New York, Vol. II., p. 224.

155. Assembly Documents, 1858, No. 2, p. 6.

156. Assembly Documents, 1858, No. 20, p. 9.

157. Assembly Documents, 1858, No. 20, p. 17.

158. Assembly Documents, 1858, No. 116.

159. State Engineer’s Annual Report, 1857, p. 18.

160. Senate Documents, 1858, No. 117.

161. Senate Documents, 1858, No. 134.

162. Lincoln’s Constitutional History of New York, Vol. II., pp. 233-234.

163. State Engineer’s Annual Report, 1859, pp. 7, 8, 10 and 12.

164. U.S. Senate, Misc. Doc., No. 31, 2d Sess., 35th Cong.

165. Senate Documents, 1859, No. 28.

166. Senate Documents, 1859, No. 33.

167. Senate Documents, 1859, No. 107.

168. Senate Documents, 1859, No. 115

169. Senate Documents, 1859, No. 119.

170. Senate Documents, 1859, No. 110.

171. Governor’s Annual Message, 1860, p. 2.

172. Id. p. 4.

173. Auditor’s Annual Report for 1859, p. 9

174. Comptroller’s Annual Report, 1859, p. 1.

175. Id. p. 18.

176. Assembly Documents, 1860, No. 101.

177. Senate Documents, 1860, No. 48.

178. Assembly Documents, 1860, No. 172.

179. Senate Documents, 1860, No. 35.

180. Governor’s Annual Message, 1861, p. 5.

181. Senate Documents, 1861, No. 41.

182. Senate Documents, 1862, No. 26, p. 89.

183. State Engineer’s Annual Report, 1861, p. 36.

184. Assembly Documents, 1862, No. 112, pp. 13 and 14.

185. Assembly Documents, 1862, No. 92.

186. State Engineer’s Annual Report, 1861, pp. 30-39.

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