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   Chapter 137 1829).

Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 3301

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


[Sidenote: Monroe's veto.]

The failure of the bonus bill in 1817 (Section 121) had only checked the progress of internal improvements. The Cumberland road had been slowly extended westward, and up to 1821 $1,800,000 had been appropriated for it; but on May 4, 1822, Monroe vetoed a bill for its preservation and repair. The technical objection was that tolls were to be charged; in fact, the veto was, like Madison's, a warning to Congress not to go too far.

[Sidenote: First harbor bill.]

[Sidenote: Preliminary surveys.]

[Sidenote: Stock subscriptions.]

Nevertheless, on March 3, 1823, a clause in a lighthouse bill appropriated $6,150 for the improvement of harbors. Up to this time the States had made such improvements, reimbursing themselves in part out of dues laid by consent of Congress on the shipping using the harbor. The next year another step in advance was taken by appropriating $30,000 for preliminary surveys: the expectation was that the whole ground would be gone over, and that the most promising improvements would be undertaken and finished first. A third step was the act of March 3, 1825, by which the United States subscribed $300,000 to the stock of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.

[Sidenote: Opposition.]

At the beginning of Adams's administration, therefore, the country seemed fully committed to the doctrine that, under the Constitution as it stood, Congress might build works, or subscribe money to aid in their construction, and ought to look forward to completing a general system. Clay had declared, Jan. 17, 1825, that he considered the question of carrying into effect "a system of interna

l improvements as amounting to the question whether the union of these States should be preserved or not;" and in his inaugural address, March 4, 1825, Adams urged the continuance of the system. Here again appeared opposition, partly sectional, and partly intended to embarrass Adams. The Virginia legislature declared internal improvements unconstitutional; and on Dec. 20, 1826, Van Buren introduced a resolution denying the right of Congress to construct roads and canals within the States.

[Sidenote: Land grants.]

[Sidenote: Distribution.]

An effort was now made to avoid the question of appropriating money by setting apart public lands. Grants of eight hundred thousand acres of land were made for the construction of canals in Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois, and such gifts continued at irregular intervals down to 1850. Since the debt was rapidly disappearing, another suggestion was that the surplus revenue should be periodically divided among the States. It satisfied no one. As Hayne of South Carolina said: "We are to have doled out to us as a favor the money which has first been drawn from our own pockets,… keeping the States forever in a state of subserviency."

[Sidenote: The system losing ground.]

Although $2,310,000 were appropriated for internal improvements during Adams's administration, on the whole the system was growing unpopular. Calhoun, who as Secretary of War in 1819 had recommended a judicious system of roads and canals, in 1822 said that on mature consideration he did not see that the requisite power was given to Congress in the Constitution. On the whole, Adams's enemies opposed the appropriations.

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