1850 Sault Ste. Marie Canal Reasoning
Ste. Marie Canal
Lake Superior Journal June 19, 1850
Deeply as we regret the political embarrassments which have so long prevented the action of Congress upon legislative measures now before it of the highest moment to the Lake Superior region, and not uninteresting to a very large proportion of the people of the United States; we are free to confess, we still more deeply lament the unfortunate cause in which they originate; and we do most devoutly hope that the time is now at hand when the two houses, seeing how greatly the interests of our common country are suffering for want of their fostering care, and how dangerous to the peace and harmony of the Union it is, that this question of slavery should longer agitate that nation, will in the true and genuine spirit of patriotism, sacrificing sectional, party, and personal interests, unite either upon the plan of the President or that of the Compromise Committee of the Senate, (we care not which) and heal the wounds with which the country is now bleeding, so that the Representatives of the people may again be able to turn their attention to the more legitimate channels of legislation for the promotion of agriculture, commerce and manufactures, and the opening up, as far as it may properly be done by Congress, the vast resources of mineral wealth so useful and necessary to all these, now emboweled or projecting in bold outline, upon the shores of Lake Superior, tempting that noble spirit of enterprise which every animates our country-men, and which is now only retarded by those natural obstacles which a very little of the nourishing care of Congress, so justly due to this remote but interesting and valuable section of the United States, would obviate instantly and almost as if by enchantment.
There are now before that body, several measures of infinite importance to the progress and growth of this section, which, we trust, will receive its sanction before adjournment; one is a measure for the settlement of the old claims or titles to the soil upon which the village of Saut Ste. Marie stands; until this is done no considerable improvements can take place, however much they are needed; because, as it now stands, no man can tell whether the land he now improves, and which his ancestors have occupied for a hundred years, is to be his own, or whether he is eventually to be legislated out of it. The settlement of these claims upon the same principles which have governed Congress in the adjustment of numerous others, of the old French settlers at the north west, certainly has been too long neglected, and ought not further to be delayed. The reduction of the price of mineral land is another measure of importance, which we think merits the early attention of Congress. It should be known, and that at once, what the purpose of Congress is in regard to this subject. The present sate of uncertainty has a great tendency to retard the settlement of the country, and the progress of mining, as many of those who are anxious to purchase, now delay in the hope of obtaining mineral lands at the price of much less than the present, if not upon the same terms us they do agricultural lands.
But however important these and others incasures are, they sink into insignificance, compared with that of the Canal around the Falls of Ste. Marie, for while the first mentioned are calculated to do justice to, and promote the interests of individuals, this bears with it the dignity of a great National Work, removing as it will by a cut of only three-quarters of a mile, the sole barrier to the union of the great brotherhood of lakes into one common channel of navigable waters, extending about 1600 miles along the whole line of our western and north western frontier, from Fond du Lac at the head of Lake Superior, to the River St. Lawrence.
When the vast commerce, which is gathering strength in an increase ratio every day and every year, upon these lakes, (as the forest falls before the axe of the hardy pioneer, and gives place to all the productions of trade of which the earth is capable,) is duly and justly considered by Congress, we do not see how that body can, for a moment, hesitate in granting the feeble aid proposed by the bill now before it for the construction of this Canal.
When the immense resources of mineral wealth bordering upon Lake Superior, valuable not to a section, but to the whole world, within and without the Union; when also the direct and immediate interest, (if men’s pecuniary interest must be the sole motive fore legislation upon such a subject) which the government as the owner of the soil has in the advancement of the settlement of the country upon Lake Superior are considered, we cannot see how Congress, if it overlooks the sense of justice to those who have pioneered the way into Lake Superior, can disregard its sense of duty to the country, in accomplishing at once a work sanctioned by a multitude of precedents upon our statue books, so diminutive in expense and labor, but so mighty in its results both upon national and individual prosperity.