James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Simon Snyder, 14 April 1813

From Simon Snyder

State of Pennsylvania Harrisburgh
14th April 1813


The Legislature of Pennsylvania having so directed, I hasten to transmit to you, An Act, entitled “A Supplement to an Act to incorporate a Company for the purpose of cutting and making a canal between the River Delaware and the Chesapeake bay” passed the twenty fifth day of March last.1 Also, a Copy of the fifth Section of the Act, incorporating the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal Company, passed the nineteenth February one thousand eight hundred and one,2 in order that the same be laid before the national Legislature.3 I have the honor to be With much Sincerity Your Obdt. Servt

Simon Snyder

RC and enclosures (DLC); letterbook copy (PHarH). RC in a clerk’s hand, signed by Snyder. Docketed by JM. For enclosures, see nn. 1 and 2.

1The enclosed act (4 pp.) declared that because completion of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal would “establish a perfectly safe, easy and Rapid transportation of our Armies and the munitions of war through the interior of the Country … which would ever tend to operate as a cement to the Union between the States,” the governor of Pennsylvania was authorized to subscribe 375 shares of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company if the U.S. government would buy 750 shares, Maryland 250 shares, and Delaware 100 shares. The act would, however, only take effect if the Maryland legislature also passed a law declaring “the River Susquehanna from the Maryland line to the Bay of Chesapeake” a highway and permitting anyone to remove obstructions from it. In addition, the fifth section of the 1801 act incorporating the canal company was made part of the present act.

2The enclosed extract (2 pp.) specified that the “River Susquehanna, down to the Maryland line” was a “publick highway” and that anyone could lawfully remove obstructions from it.

3JM submitted copies of the enclosed legislation to the Senate and House of Representatives in messages dated 5 June 1813. Congress did not, however, authorize federal subscription to Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company stock during the War of 1812, and in 1816, JM vetoed the Bonus Bill, which would have funded the canal and other internal improvements with the bonus from the Second Bank of the United States. Work on the canal was not resumed until 1824, after Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and numerous private investors had bought stock in the company. Nearly fourteen miles long, the canal was completed in 1829 (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 13th Cong., 1st sess., 23, 144; Gray, The National Waterway, 28, 37–41, 43, 65, 67).

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