Exhibition - Background

New York (State). The Report of a Committee Appointed to Explore the Western Waters in the State of New-York: for the Purpose of Prosecuting the Inland Lock Navigation. Albany: Printed by Barber and Southwick, 1792.

This early report submitted by Philip Schuyler, Goldsbrow Banyar and Elkanah Watson regarding the transportation of the western waters in New York State suggested that `"a Person who has had practical experience in making canals and locks, would be a desirable and valuable acquisition, but such a person may not be attainable in this country. . ."

Certificate issued to Jacob A. Lansing for one share in the stock of the Northern Inland Lock-Navigation Company. Albany: November, 1792.

The project of the Northern Inland Lock-Navigation Company predates the construction of the Erie Canal. Headed by General Schuyler, it was chartered, along with the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company, in 1792 to improve navigation between the Hudson River and Lake Champlain. A manuscript notation on the verso of this document reads: "Reciv.d [sic] Twenty five Dollars for the . share agreable [sic] to a Resolution of the Board of Directors of 11th April 1793."

New York (State). Report of the Commissioners Appointed by Joint Resolutions of the Honorable the Senate and Assembly of the State of New York, of the 13th &15th March, 1810, to Explore the Route of an Inland Navigation from Hudson's River to Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Albany: Printed by S. Southwick, 1811.

In 1810, a Board of Commissioners was organized to make further surveys regarding inland navigation in New York and to report the estimation of the probable expense of the completion of the canal. They were also directed to make application to Congress and the legislatures of the individual states. This is the first report of that commission.

New York (State). Report of the Commissioners, Appointed by an Act of the Legislature of the State of New-York, Entitled, "An Act to Provide for the Improvement of the Internal Navigation of the State," Passed April 8th, 1811, for the Consideration of all Matters Relating to the Said Inland Navigation. Albany: Printed by S. Southwick, 1812.

The second report issued by the committee documents that it had applied to the general government for funding, without success. The War of 1812 put a temporary halt to the process. Notwithstanding, the Commissioners tried to keep the subject of the canal alive and so printed another report in 1814. This report brought to light that the conveyance of the materials of war from the seaboard to the western frontier was grievously felt--sometimes the cost of transportation was higher than the original cost of the materials transported. Included in this report is a copy of a letter written by James Madison in support of the canal.

Morris, Gouverneur and Robert Fulton. The Advantages of the Proposed Canal from Lake Erie, to Hudson's River, Fully Illustrated in a Correspondence between the Hon. Gouverneur Morris, and Robert Fulton, Esq. n.i. : [1814?]

Robert Fulton and Gouverneur Morris, both supporters of the canal, exchanged letters on the subject. Advocating the use of tolls along the route, Fulton calculated the canal would yield $5,000,000 per year for New York. Morris replies that "The great vivifying principle, on which a thousand astonishing consequences depend, is this, that whatever saves labor rewards labor."