Ste. Marie Canal
Lake Superior Journal 07-31-1850
We have heretofore endeavored to press upon public consideration and more especially upon the consideration of Congress with a view to some speedy and effective action, the subject of a canal across the portage at this place, so that the navigable, waters of Lake Superior may mingle thro’ the medium of a navigable channel with the waters, not of Lakes Huron and Erie alone, but also with the Atlantic. No intelligent man, we venture to say, has ever visited Lake Superior without being impressed with the great importance of this work. Important to the commerce and navigation of these vast inland seas-important in a military point of view to this distant frontier-important in respect to its influence upon the sale and occupation of the vast public domain lying upon the borders of Lake Superior, and the inexhaustible stores of mineral wealth upon its shores, so useful to commerce and manufactures, and so necessary to the prosperity of this or any other country.
But assuredly the national legislature cannot be blinded either as to the value of this work, or its clearly national character. It appears to us like one of those purely practical national questions, which does not need to be bolstered up by arguments, but makes its way by force of its own intrinsic merits.
Unhappily Congress is at the present moment in such a position in regard to the public business that the value or necessity of a measure furnishes no security for its passage through that body. We do not say this in a complaining mood, but only to express the common regret that difficulties of legislation, of a character so portentous of evil, impede the action of Congress and endanger the harmony of the Union. We trust the clouds, which now surround us, will soon disappear, and this immensely valuable, but hitherto little flavored section of our country will be among the first to receive the paternal attention of Congress.
Before leaving the subject, we desire to refer to some of the numerous precedents, upon the statute books, which not only justify, but seem to make it mandatory upon Congress, if impartiality in legislation towards different sections of the Union is to be regarded, to listen to our appeal for the union of the father of lakes to his children below.
On the second of March 1827, Congress passed a law granting to the State of Illinois, five sections in width of the public lands along the whole line, (reserving alternate sections,) to unite the waters of the Illinois River with Lake Michigan.
On the same day, another act of Congress was approved, making a similar grant to the State of Indiana, to connect the waters of the Wabash with Lake Erie.
On the third of March 1827, another law was approved making a grant of land to the State of Ohio, for the purpose of building a road between Columbus and Sandusky.
On the 23rd of May 1828, another act of Congress granted to the State of Alabama four hundred thousand acres of land to improve navigation of the Tennessee River around the muscle shoals.
On the 24th of May, 1828, another act of Congress was approved, granting to the State of Ohio a similar allowance of land, to build a canal from Dayton to Lake Erie, and by the same law, 500,000 more acres was granted to the said State of Ohio generally to complete all her canals.
To Florida, also, Congress, granted land for a canal; and to the State of Wisconsin, by the act of Congress of June 18th, 1838, alternate sections five miles in width along its whole line, to build a canal to unite the waters of Rock river with Lake Michigan.
These are a few only of the public grants to different States, for improvements, not a single one of which, neither all together, presented such strong claims as this to public consideration, as works of a national character.
Strongly impressed with the necessity; propriety and great national utility, of the improvement we have so repeatedly advocated in this paper, not on local grounds, nor for the benefit of mere local interests, but for the promotion of the general welfare-the advancement of commerce, and the development of the immense resources of mineral wealth so important, not to commerce alone, but to manufactures, and indeed all the great interests of the country, we trust the time is now near at hand when congress will yield a small portion of its attention to this interesting although distant frontier.