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able to carry on their business at a great saving of time and expense, and the easier access to the various groupes of fertile islands in the Pacific would give an immense spring to their population, their production of articles useful to us, and their consumption of our products; and although the length of this communication between the two oceans is more than five times as long as that projected at Panama, yet by its being further north, it would shorten the distance between all the Atlantic states and the whole Pacific coast of North America, some seven or eight hundred miles; so that the communication between them by the projected canal through Nicaragua may be as expeditious, or more so, than by the projected rail-road at Panama.
Our new settlements on the Pacific, and still more the gold mines of California, have greatly stimulated the desire to facilitate the passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Not only have two companies been formed for this purpose-one to make a rail-road across the Isthmus at Panama, and the other a canal through Lake Nicaragua-but two conventions of delegates, from various states, assembled in the summer for the sake of furthering the stupendous project of a rail-road from the Mississippi to the Pacific. One of these met at Memphis, in Tennessee, on the 23d of October. Fourteen States were represented by nearly four hundred delegates.
Without much delay or discussion, they adopted six resolutions of the following purport:
1. That it is the duty of the general government to provide for the construction of a national road from the Mississippi River to the Pacific.
2. To facilitate the object, a competent corps of engineers should be appointed to explore and survey the several routes designated by public opinion.
3. After those surveys, the government should locate the line of the road, selecting that which is easiest of access; most favourable to national defence; most convenient to the people; is most central, and in which a rail-road is the cheapest.
4. The lands of the United States constitute the legitimate and proper fund for the construction of such a road.
5. After the construction of the main trunk from the Mississippi to the Pacific, it will be the duty of Congress to aid in the construction of such branch canals as will connect it with the northern lakes and the great thoroughfares to the Atlantic, and other points on the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico.
6. Congress should also provide, under liberal conditions, communications between the main trunk and all other rail-roads now made, or which may be made by the several states and territories; and while this rail-road is in progress, a present communication, by canal or railroad, should be made between the Atlantic and Pacific at Tehuantepec, Nicaragua, or Panama; and they recommend the conveyance of the mail and military stores by such canals.
They also recommend the establishment of military posts from the confines of the Western States along the southern boundaries of our republic to the Pacific; and
That, in the event of appropriations by Congress of any considerable portion of the public lands to the construction of a rail-road from the Mississippi to the Pacific, appropriations of lands lying within the limits of the respective States should also be made to those States to aid them in their public works. All the preceding recommendations passed unanimously; but a majority of the States only-ten to fourteen-recommend for examination the route commencing at San Diego, crossing the Colorado, running along the Gila River to the Paro del Norte, and thence across Texas to its north-eastern boundary between 32 and 33° north latitude, and terminating on the Mississippi, between the mouth of the Ohio and Red rivers.
The Missouri convention, for the same object, assembled at St. Louis, on the 28th day of October. Fifteen States were there represented by near nine hundred delegates. They agreed upon an address to the people of the United States, on the importance of a rail-road between the Atlantic and Pacific. They say they do not presume to suggest the route of the proposed rail-road; but they venture to recommend a line of military posts from the Mississippi to the Pacific, and to propose, by way of compromise of the rival claims of the north, to a line from the great lakes to Oregon, and of the south, from Texas to San Diego on the Pacific, a central route, with branches to the northern, the middle, and the southern States. They conclude with proposing a general convention from all the States in Philadelphia, on the 1st Monday in April next.
The newly acquired territory of California has continued, throughout the whole of the current year, to attract adventurers in pursuit of the gold which is there so abundant. More than eight hundred vessels had left the Atlantic ports, before the 1st of December, for California; ^~ and while some of the emigrants have been amply rewarded for the toils and privations of the voyage or which their mining labours may have cost them, not a few have encountered varied sufferings and bitter disappointment. Gold cannot be obtained at the mines without labour, often of the severest and most irksome character, and since that labour cannot be purchased, each individual must be content with the small portion he can furnish to himself. Its products are somewhat precarious, and though their average is nominally large, the value is so depreciated, that they are often not more than sufficient to defray the cost of the labourer's maintenance. The merchandize carried to San Francisco at first, indeed, yielded large profits, but was afterwards so increased as to glut the market, and occasion great loss. The adventurers, however, from the western States, overland, have been the greatest sufferers from this avidity for gold. Many of those who undertook to pass the Rocky Mountains, and the desolate regions at their
base, have found themselves in danger of starvation, and have been obliged to subsist on the cattle and horses employed for their transport. This resource has not always proved sufficient, and their track has been strewed with the graves of those who have been cut off by fatigue, the want of food, or disease, as well as with the goods which the wretched wayfarers were compelled to leave on the road for the sake of expediting their journey. The success of some of the adventurers to California may be inferred from the fact that the quantity of gold which their labours have furnished to the mint this year has been about six millions of dollars.
On the 31st of August, deputies chosen by the people of California assembled at Monterey, to form a Constitution. One was accordingly formed, prefaced with a bill of rights, and it will be submitted to Congress for their approval.
This example of a community erecting itself into a sovereign State, and applying for admission into the Union, was followed by another voluntary association, for a similar purpose, of far more doubtful pretensions. The sect of the Mormons who, driven from Illinois by the people of that State, because some of their tenets and practices were deemed repugnant to morality, betook themselves to the extreme West, and, after roaming to and fro, they finally seated themselves near the Salt Lake in California, and there, constituting a community of about 20,000 souls, recently formed a political Constitution, not essentially different from those of the other States, and boldly ask, like California, to be admitted into the Union as a State, under the name of Deseret, without going through the usual probation as a territory. The condition of these applicants differs from that of all others who have preceded them, in the following particulars: They have no right to the soil on which they have seated themselves, either by purchase, or the direct sanction of Congress. The population of all the western States has been partly composed of squatters, but this is the first instance in which the whole community was thus constituted. Again, their population does not yet amount to one-third of the number now requisite to elect a member to the House of Representatives, and that number will, after the next census, be considerably augmented. Another remarkable feature in their application is that the boundaries which they propose for their new State, thus occupied by a handful of people, without a shadow of legal right, comprehends a territory equal to four or five of the largest States in the Union.
Amidst these procedures, in open violation of existing laws, one is struck with the love of order, and the facility of political organization, so generally manifested by the Anglo-Saxon population of this continent. Here are two communities free from all the restraints of government, and consequently exposed to the mischiefs of the wildest licentiousness, yet quietly, soberly, and discreetly forming a government for themselves, to whose authority the minority, who may chance to dis
approve the provisions of that government, yield as implicit obedience as the majority who formed it. Such a moral phenomenon could be exhibited in no other country under the sun; but here every man, from his birth, is impressed with the conviction that government is necessary to the well-being, nay, to the very existence of society; that the majority of the community have the right, as well as the power to construct and direct the machinery of such government, and that, as soon as they have carried their purpose into execution, every member of the community must obey the rules prescribed by the majority, or cease to be a member.
In September, Mr. Squier obtained from the republic of Honduras the cession of the Island of Tigre, in the Bay of Fonseca, on the Pacific, and on the 28th of that month, he gave Mr. Chatfield, the British Consul, official notice of the cession; but eighteen days afterwards, Mr. Chatfield, in the British ship Gorgon, proceeded to take possession of the Island, in the name of her Britannic Majesty, under the pretext of debts due to British subjects, which the government of Honduras had assumed, but failed to pay. Against this high-handed proceeding, the feeble government could do nothing but protest, after denying the justice of the British claim, and alleging that it had of fered to leave the matters in dispute between the two governments to the adjustment of commissioners appointed for the purpose. It is hoped that Mr. Chatfield's course was not authorized by the British government, and, though it was, that this as well as the other points at issue. in Central America between the United States and Great Britain will be amicably settled in Washington by the new minister, Sir Henry Bulwer.
On the 4th of December, the members of the thirty-first Congress assembled at Washington, but they being divided, not into two parties as usual, but into some three or four, having diverse and irreconcilable views, it was found at first impracticable to choose a Speaker. Nearly three whole weeks were spent in unavailing ballotings for a presiding officer, and it was only on Saturday, the 21st, that, on the sixty-third ballot, a Speaker was chosen. It is probable that a large majority of the public, who could but partially share the feelings of the members, would rather have seen any member of the house chosen to the office, than longer to have witnessed the humiliating spectacle of the incapacity of the national legislature to take the first step in organizing itself as a deliberative assembly, and thus alarming the fears, or mortifying the pride of the friends of popular government; and calling forth the taunts and derision of its enemies.
On the 22d of December, the President's annual message was sent
It has since appeared, by the publication of the treaty, that the cession was only for eighteen months, and was made expressly to save it from seizure "by some foreign inimical power." Such a cession, it is presumed, will scarcely be defended by the government of the United States.
to both Houses of Congress. It is a plain, straight forward, businesslike document, exhibiting very succinctly, but in sufficient detail, the condition of the country in all its great relations, foreign and domestic. It holds a prudent reserve on all agitating party questions, and throughout it breathes a spirit of moderation, of liberality, and of amity towards all.
Rather more than half the message is appropriated to the foreign relations of the United States. He says that we are on friendly terms with all foreign powers, towards all of whom we have observed a strict neutrality. He adverts to the late alterations in the British navigation laws, the effect of which, together with that of the act of Congress of March, 1817, will be to admit British vessels into the ports of the United States, with cargoes of the productions of any country, on the same terms as to duties and charges as vessels of the United States, whose ships will have like admission into the ports of Great Britain. The slight interruption to the diplomatic intercourse between the United States and France, he remarks, has been happily terminated. The purchase of a war steamer in the United States by the German Empire, which had been permitted by the late administration during the armistice between that Empire and Denmark, is noticed, and the course pursued by the present administration, as detailed in the preceding number of this journal, is briefly stated. Although a minister had been sent from the United States to the German Empire, and a minister from that empire had been accredited here, he remarks that no such government as that of the German Empire had been definitively constituted; it is thought that no such union could be permanently established without the co-operation of Prussia. If it should take place, then it would become necessary to withdraw our minister now sent to Berlin; but until then, there is no necessity to continue the mission to Frankfort. The minister sent thither has accordingly been withdrawn.
Having heard of the expedition meditated against Cuba, the President had, in conformity with the act of April, 1818, issued a proclamation for the purpose of putting a stop to it.
The case of Rey, the foreigner, who had been clandestinely seized in New Orleans and carried off to Cuba, is noticed. It is suggested that as there is no punishment for abductions of this character, the law should be amended.
During the late conflict between Hungary and Austria, an agent of the United States was vested with the power of recognising the independence of Hungary, as soon as she had established a permanent government. The United States did not in any way interfere in the contest, but it seemed right that the Executive should take the first fit occasion of expressing the lively sympathies of the American people.
The claims of American citizens on Portugal had been earnestly pressed, but as yet without effect. The distracted condition of that