Page images

tance of eighty miles. This river owes its peculiar importance to the circumstance, that the inland water communication, so desirable between the southern and middle states, must be opened by means of a short canal from the nearest point of its course to Little river. This river discharges itself near Beaufort, within the Sea Islands of North Carolina. By means of these works and the other improvements and natural means of the adjoining states, a water carriage becomes practicable from Florida to the head of Chesapeake Bay, thence to the Delaware, by the canal long since commenced, (but suspended for want of funds,) and from the Delaware to the Raritan; conveying southern produce to the remotest shores of the lakes and to the centre of New England. In a time of war especially, this inland navigation would be of great importance, defended as it might readily be, at exposed points, by floating batteries or steam gun-boats. Experience has already taught this country how severely the interruption of commercial intercourse would be felt, under long continued hostilities, without safe water carriage both of produce and other merchandise, to say nothing of the munitions of war, and supplies for the navy.

The general plan of the improvements in South Carolina, is to concentrate all the business of the state, and of some part of the adjoining states, at the capital. From the harbor of Georgetown, therefore, a canal is making five miles, across the tongue of land which separates it from the Santee. If we consider the quantity of produce that must descend all these rivers to pass this little work, its beneficial effect must be very great, compared with its expense; besides its importance, when viewed as a part of the chain of inland water communication among the states. We have only to apprehend, that it may be made on too narrow a scale for that great purpose, and without conformity perhaps to the other links in the chain. It must not be forgotten, that the dimensions of this work will regulate those, which may hereafter be made in relation to it, in the other states, where manufactures are as progressive, as the agriculture of South Carolina.

But we ought to retract our hesitating expression when we regard the liberality and enlightened spirit which the state has already evinced. One million of dollars was at once appropriated to these various works; and not less than a thousand northern laborers employed the second season. The works were commenced at once in so many places, that it was impossible for the state's engineer to conduct them. To remedy this defect, at the session of 1819 the Board of Public Works was constituted by an act of the legislature, composed of five members, two of whom are professional engineers, with salaries, the others public spirited individuals, who serve without compensation. The board is invested with corporate powers, and all requisite authority, and is under the presidency of Mr Poinsett.

Besides the works already enumerated, the Ashley, which flows on the southern side of Charleston, is to be connected with the Edisto, by a canal of twelve miles. This river divides itself into two branches, and waters an extensive district towards the Savannah, the southern boundary of the state. And it seems to be even intended to open a communication with that extensive river. The board have, moreover, comprehended in their design every conceivable improvement for the facilitating of the inland communication. They have made no small progress in the formation of a road, leading through the state towards Tennessee. It extends already, according to the report, from Charleston to Columbia, and from that town to the Saluda mountain. In all their operations the views of the board appear to have been ably seconded by the personal exertions of gentlemen of fortune and influence in every part of the country

It has not escaped the observation of the intelligent projectors of these works, that they would avail but little, without a good system of navigation. It has, therefore, been their policy to encourage the introduction of steam boats, and other modes of conveyance, from which it has been demonstrated from some examples how great the savings to the public must finally be. We find it stated, in the second pamphlet at the head of our article, that since the Pedee river has been cleared of obstructions, so as to afford navigation for steam and team boats, cotton has been carried from Chatham and Society Hill to Georgetown for seventy-five cents the bale, whereas it could not be carried the same distance, by land, for less than two dollars, or by water, by the former navigation, for less than one dollar twenty-five cents.'

From Columbia, it is supposed, though this is not stated in the report, that 200,000 bales annually, of cotton, may be expected to descend. The saving of the cost of carriage on this amount would be $250,000


The difference between land and water carriage on half the quantity down to Columbia may be estimated at

The saving on merchandise carried into the country we have no means of knowing but by comparison. The country which Charleston must supply is more extensive than New England. Now, through Hadley canal, on Connecticut river, there pass annually 6000 tons, through Middlesex canal about 2000, and on the intermediate roads probably 3000; in all 11,000 tons, with a saving of 10 dollars a ton, on water transportation. Allowing no more to South Carolina, we must to the former items add, for the saving of 10 dollars on 11,000 tons


$485,000 Such is the annual saving in one district only of the state. The benefit, however, will principally depend on the modes of conveyance that shall be adopted. That mode of course will be preferable which shall best subserve the interest of the planter and the merchant; not that which is numerically the cheapest, but that which shall unite despatch with safety, regularity and economy of time, as well as moderateness of expense. The time required for the transport of produce to market is of material consequence. The demand, early in the season, is brisk; and the sooner the crop is down, the more opportunities there will be of a sale; besides, that the cotton is gathered in and prepared successively. Every great planter has successive quantities to send to market, and is solicitous to get them quickly to the hands of his factor. The reasons for despatch are scarcely less urgent in the transport of supplies into the country, especially towards the close of the spring business and the approach of midsummer, when intercourse with the seaports is suspended for some months.

We are led to these remarks from seeing that some reliance is placed, by the board, on the use of animal power in navigating these extensive rivers. It is not our purpose to decry experiments of any kind; nor to discredit the utility of this mode of conveyance, when nothing better is to be done. When, however, this last is not the case, it is an obvious question, whether the substitution of the power of the steam engine for horses has been fallacious. In England, the breweries, distilleries, and mines, are notorious instances of the preference of steam engines; and the use of them on rail roads would be more applicable still to the elucidation of the point, were we better furnished with facts.

It is stated in the report, that a boat propelled by the labor of eight mules, navigated by five men, carried three hundred bales two hundred and fifty miles in fifteen days, at the expense of a hundred and sixteen dollars twenty-five cents, and that the freight was seventy-five cents a bale, amounting to two hundred (wenty-five dollars; of course the apparent profit to the navigators was a hundred and eight dollars seventy-five cents. The object of this statement was only to shew the savings by this operation to the public, as the land carriage of the same number of bales would have amounted to six hundred dollars. It is unquestionably true, that for short distances, animal force may be applicable, while for great distances it is of doubtful expediency, among other reasons, because it cannot in its nature be at every moment equal. It is never operative to the full measure of the force employed. The steam engine on the other hand is a force, ai every moment equal and indefatigable; and, whether great or small, is managed by one man. Though eight mules or horses can be governed and driven at once, it does not follow that sixteen could be. This power, therefore, has its limits in practice. It would be absurd to think of employing in one boat the animal force of forty horses, while it is very easy to use a steam engine of that power.

To estimate the comparative economy of steam engines, and horse power we are enabled to state the facts of an experiment on the Merrimack, in Massachusetts, with a small steam towing boat of five horse power. Her wheel was placed in the stern to enable her to pass through the locks on that navigation. She towed two boats of her own burden along side, and ascended the river at the rate of thirty miles a day. Her expenses are estimated to have been twelve dollars a day, for fuel, men, &c. We are inclined to think that even this steam engine, in the situation of the team boat abovementioned, would have done the business to more advantage, for the reason that the passage would have been made in five days, and at the expense of

$60 and would have carried 180 bales at 75 cents

135 yielding a profit of

or for three trips of five days $225, which is more than double the profit of the team boat for the same time.

The difference in favor of steam engines appears much greater when on a larger scale. Take, for example, one of fifty tons instead of ten tons, this being the size which we understand is contemplated by the Boston company to navigate the Pedec and pass the five mile canal near Georgetown.

First, the steam boat will receive half a load

20 tons 2 luggage boats each 40

SO So that the load is

100 tons or 600 bales. The equipage and other expenses will be twenty dollars a day, amounting in a passage of seven days to Freight at $1,50 per bale



Apparent profit

760 Boats exceeding a hundred tons would probably not be so economical, simply because their burden would not perhaps permit of continual freights, nor admit of that celerity and despatch necessary to this branch of navigation.

We scarcely think it necessary to name the superior duration of engines over animals, nor the liability of the latter to sickness and death. It is obvious, that is an engine requires to be readjusted, there is meanwhile no expense for fuel, but if one or two of a set of mules are unable to perform, still the rest must be fed. Experience and interest will undoubtedly instruct and guide men in all kinds of business : nor should we have dwelt thus long on this topic but from the apparent retrocession of this expedient from the great modern improvement of steam navigation.

A difficulty exists in the navigation of the southern rivers, in the liability to extreme drought: but this it is proposed to overcome, in the building of the hulls of steam boats, by the use of that very light and durable timber, the spruce, which abounds in New Hampshire and Maine.

A concurrence of favorable circumstances has attended the rapid seulement and improvement of the fortunate country, of which we have been speaking. In climate and in productions and ultimately in the facilities of trade, it will be unsurpassed by any other. But an apprehension is sometimes expressed, that the quantity of cotton cultivated between 36° of N. latitude and the gulf of Mexico and from the

« PreviousContinue »