The Opening of the Erie Canal
New York (State). Memorial of the Commissioners of the State of New-York, in behalf of Said State; Praying the Aid of the General Government in Opening a Communication between the Navigable Waters of the Hudson River and the Lakes. December 11, 1816. Referred to the Committee on so much of the President's Message as relates to Roads and Canals. Washington: Printed by William A. Davis, 1816.
This document issued in 1816 set up a committee of five empowered to devise measures to open communication between the Hudson River and the Great Lakes. The committee then divided the route into three sections: the West (Lake Erie to the Seneca River), the Middle (Seneca River to Rome) and the East (Rome to Albany). Each section would have its own engineer. In this same year, $20,000 was budgeted to the project, but no power was given to start construction. In a later report, dating 1817, the commencement of work on the canal was authorized by a large majority of both Houses, demonstrating increased public interest and approval of the canal after the War of 1812. This report documents the establishment of the Canal Fund.
New York (State). In Assembly, Jan. 7, 1820. Report of the Commissioners of the Canal Fund. No. 5. Albany: 1820.
This report estimated the annual revenue of the canal fund to be $187,000. In addition to loans and stocks, money was raised for canal construction and upkeep through vendue duties, taxes on salt manufacturing in western New York State and taxes on steamboat passengers traveling the canal.
New York (State). Annual Report of the Canal Commissioners, Communicated to the Legislature, Feb. 18, 1820. Albany: Printed by J. Buel, Printer to the State, 1820.
By the time of the issuance of this report, the middle section of the Erie Canal had been completed so "that large boats have actually navigated it, for the distance of seventy-five miles."
Troup, Robert. A Letter to the Honorable Brockholst Livingston, Esq. One of the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, on the Lake Canal Policy of the State of New-York. Albany: Packard & Van Benthuysen, 1822.
Nearing the completion of the construction, a great deal of controversy had emerged over who should receive credit for having first proposed the idea of the canal. In1822, in an attempt to settle the dispute, Robert Troup agreed to republish his pamphlet "somewhat altered, both in form and substance" in which he remarks: "We see the bold conceptions of Mr. [Elkanah] Watson's sagacious and comprehensive mind lying at the foundation of the act of March, 1792."
New York (State). In Assembly, March 17, 1823. Report from the Comptroller, of the Expenditures of the Canal Commissioners. No. 181.Albany: 1823.
By 1823, the total expenditures of the canal commissioners reached $5,130,954.64. The document also shows the sum advances of the canal fund to the canal commissioners, with a breakdown of disbursements.
New York (State). Report of the Committee of the Common Council of the City of Troy, and Adopted by them, Remonstrating against the Direct Route for the Eastern Termination of the Erie Canal. And in Answer to the Report of Allan Campbell, Civil Engineer, made by the Authority and under the Direction of the Common Council of the City of Albany. Troy: Printed by Kemble & Hooper, 1836.
By 1836, the development and economies of cities along the canal route had come to depend on the Erie Canal and its revenue. A proposal made for the canal to bypass Troy received an outcry from that city, fearing that a direct route from Albany would devastate Troy as well as other cities, towns and villages that had since grown along the canal route, leaving a wake of ruin. In the report, the Troy commissioners ask: "But what would be the condition of such deserted towns?--Monuments, indeed, not of the folly of those who built them, . . . but of the instability and caprice of government, of which they had become the credulous victims." The title on the blue cover reads: Report of the Troy Committee in Relation to the Albany Project for a "Direct Route" for the Eastern Termination of the Erie Canal."
New York (State). In Assembly, April 11, 1840. Report of the Canal Board in Answer to Resolutions Respecting the Canal Debts and Revenues and the Enlargement of the Erie Canal. No. 306. Albany: 1840.
Tolls collected from the Erie and Champlain canals, after deducting expenses of collection, were $1,537,532.92 for the year 1839. Total tolls to date were $9,659, 207.
Enlargement of the Erie Canal. Efforts of the Twelve Fugitive Senators, Sustained by the Opinion of Attorney- Gen'l Chatfield, and the Voice of a Loco Foco Meeting at the Capital, Illustrated by Extracts from Loco Foco Organs, To defeat the Law providing for a Speedy Completion of the Public Works. n.i. : .
In 1851, controversy arose regarding the enlargement of the Erie Canal. This document contains a collection of extracts from several newspapers of the day, documenting the controversy.
New York (State). Annual Report of the Canal Commissioners, Communicated to the Legislature, Jan. 25, 1819. Albany: Printed by J. Buel, Printer to the State, 1819.
Many cases had been approved for compensation for damages incurred to goods shipped along the canal line between Utica and the Seneca River in 1818. In that year, total damages awarded were $1,686.
Receipt from the Canal Appraiser's Office in Albany, dated April 17, 1850, for $223.96 for damages incurred to goods transported along the canal.
New York State 5 Per Cent Stock. Issued by the Transfer Office of the Bank of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, in the City of New-York, March 16, 1839.
Signed by J. Williams, treasurer, this stock certificate was issued to Charles Denning in 1839. Financing for the enlargement of the canal was raised through the issuance of stock certificates, donations, and land grants, as well as through the collection of taxes and tolls.
Receipt from Erastus H. Pease, Bookseller and Stationer for purchases made by the Canal Department. Albany: July 10, 1845.
Two bank receipts for money deposited into the Commissioners of the Canal Fund dating December 25, 1834 and December 27, 1845.
Both receipts were drawn on accounts from the Bank of Geneva, totaling $11,121.61. Funding for the Erie Canal did not come from the federal government.
[Autograph Letter Signed]. May 30th, 1866. Notarized manuscript letter from Alexander Joseph, Comte de Peurtales in Geneva, Switzerland appointing the Moran Brothers of New York City as his "true and lawful attorneys . to receive the reimbursement of four certificates, of one thousand dollars, each, of the state stock of the State of New-York being part of a loan of the Canal Department for payment to the city of Albany, issued 6th May 1850."
Receipt for towage along the Erie Canal dating 1862-1864.
Site draft from the Commissioners of the Canal Fund.