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totally prevent the passage of steamboats up and down the river at that point. Does any one doubt that the general government would have the power to cause this obstruction to be removed? And if so, upon what other ground than the paramount rights of navigation. over any private interest; and that a navigable river yested in the public as a highway cannot be subverted by state legislation. Even now, Congress asserts this right over the navigable highways of the nation, and while this bill is pending in the legislature of this state and its power invoked to authorize a private corporation to build dam across one of these highways, the National Congress in the popular branch thereof, has passed the “River and Harbor ’’ appropriation bill containing a provision which authorizes and requires the Secretary of War to remove all bstructions and encroachments upon the navigable waters of the United States, and all such structures upon the same as the government engineers may condemn as obstructions to free navigation; and upon this point your committee respectfully insist that this would be the assumption and exercise of a most arbitrary and unwarrantable power on the part of the general government, if the legislature of this State had the constitutional authority to empower the construction of the Kilbourn City dam, which is to say the least, a total obstruction to steamboat navigation at that point on the Wisconsin river. And now let us apply these legal principles to the bill under consideration. Unquestionably it is ust be construed as a private and not as a public act. The legislature has to right to assume or expect that a private corporation is to expend its capital and means to any great extent for the public benefit alone. And whatever pretense may be made as to the benefits accruing to navigation by the passage of this bill and the completion of the contemplated works, no fair construction of its provisions upon their face can warrant the conclusion that the improvement of navigation in the Chippewa river is its object. Construed as a private act must be, we are bound to say, that it is for the private benefit of its incorporators, and is not asked for in the public interest. In the opinion of your committee, by fair construction, its real purpose is the incorporation of a booming company with sufficient facilities of boomage to store and control the logs belonging to themselves, and also command the storage, assorting and delivery, year after year, of a vast amount of logs belonging to other persons, which shall afford to this company a revenue of fifty cents per thousand feet for so doing. And to accomplish this purpose it is proposed by the bill to erect a dam sixteen feet high across the entire river bed; appropriate not less than two miles of the whole river from bank to bank; close up the same to navigation and convert it into a vast boom or reservoir for holding logs, thereby absolutely taking away that distance of a public navig. highway from its proper owners—the citizens of the United tates—a highway, safe and reliable, and over which yearly passes a commerce of not less than one million of dollars in value, and surrendering the same into the hands of a private corporation for private purposes, upon its promise to provide in lieu thereof a naviga. tion full of dangerous contingencies at least, and involving endless litigation and expense by a cut-off dam, chute and lock, and to provide a standing fund of not less than twenty thousand dollars with which to pay off the infringments of navigable rights which the bill itself anticipates. The undersigned, a majority of your committee are of the opinion that the first interogatory hereinbefore set forth, should be also answered in the negative. They are of the opinion that the public use as a highway of the Chippewa river is vested in the whole people of the United States; that the legislature of this State has no power to authorize the subversion of that public use to private purposes, or to impair or obstruct the same; that the legislature cannot authorize experiments of the kind contemplated in this bill upon a navigable highway; that if a private corporation “of the kind contemplated in this bill,” cannot, under the law and the constitution of this State, exercise the right of eminent domain by taking private property for public use, neither can it appropriate to itself the public domain of a navigable river for private uses. They are of the opinion that if Congress can empower a sing: government engineer to determine whether the proposed dam, when built as claimed in this bill shall or shall not be an obstruction of encroachment upon navigation, and compel its removal, if such, then this Legislature cannot authorize its construction.
Senator Baldwin agrees with the majority of your committee in answering the second of said questions in the negative, but assents from the balance of the report. Senator Magoon, as we are it. formed, will submit his views upon both questions to the Senate at some future time.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
GEO. C. HAZELTON,