James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Albert Gallatin, 31 January 1812

From Albert Gallatin

31 Jany. 1812

Dear Sir

It being provided by the 7th Section of the Act entitled “an Act to regulate the laying out and making a road from Cumberland in the State of Maryland to the State of Ohio” (8th Vol. page 34) that the President should lay before Congress an annual statement of the proceedings under the act,1 I have addressed to you the enclosed letter which together with the documents accompanying it may, I presume, serve as a report.2 Duplicates are sent, in order that you may, if thought proper, send one to each house. Respectfully Your obedt. Servant

Albert Gallatin

RC (DLC); enclosures, two copies (DNA: RG 46, Legislative Proceedings, 12A-E4; and DNA: RG 233, President’s Messages, 12A-D1). RC docketed by JM. Enclosures (15 pp.) transmitted by JM to Congress on 1 Feb. 1812 (see n. 2).

1U.S. Statutes at Large description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America … (17 vols.; Boston, 1848–73). description ends , 2:359.

2The documents enclosed (printed in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Miscellaneous, 2:175–77) include Gallatin’s 25 Jan. 1812 letter to JM reporting on “proposals … received and Contracts entered into for making the first ten miles” of the Cumberland Road. Contracts were entered into with three persons—McKinley, Randle, and Cochran—for the construction of the road at a total cost of $60,338.25. Gallatin also forwarded a copy of one of the contracts, marked “A,” which had been made with Henry McKinley of Maryland on 8 May 1811 and approved by JM. Since the contracts did not include the costs for the construction of bridges or for some contingent expenses, including $1,800 for the annual salary of David Shriver, Jr., for supervising the work, Gallatin concluded that “the entire cost of those ten miles” was “75 to 80 thousand dollars.”

To this information Gallatin added an extract from a letter and a report he had received from David Shriver, Jr., both dated 14 Jan. 1812 and marked “B,” stating that the ten miles of road would probably be completed by 1 Aug. 1812. The sum appropriated for the road construction was $125,477.51, which Gallatin declared would leave an unexpended balance of about $50,000. That sum, he calculated, would allow for the building of nearly seven miles of additional road at the same rate allowed for the making of the first ten miles. He referred to Shriver’s suggestion, however, of the desirability of completing eleven miles of additional road, which would “reach as far as Tomlinsons 21 miles from Cumberland, where the old and new roads meet and render the whole work done useful even if it proceeded no further.” Gallatin endorsed the suggestion, estimating that it would require an appropriation of about $30,000.

The treasury secretary also called attention to the need for levying tolls to maintain the road, pointing out that “this can be done only under the authority of the State of Maryland.” He concluded his report to the president with the observation, “It is believed … that the Chain of Mountains which divides the Atlantic from the Western States offers no real impediment to an easy communication; and that roads may generally be made as perfect, as convenient, and on the same terms, across those mountains as in any other part of the Union.”

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