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inces on the east; this branch line might also be pushed still to the south and west, via Bokhara, Balk and Cabool, to connect with the lines throughout the whole of British India; but all these lateral lines are questions of time and necessity. The first work in order is to build the great trunk line, after which the construction of these lateral lines will become questions of State policy or commercial necessity.
But, enough of telegraphs ; let us now turn our attention to steam.
San Francisco must, from her position, climate and productions, be, to the Pacific side of our continent, what New-York is to the Atlantic side. Already, telegraphically, San Francisco is, say seven days from London, the shortest time; under ordinary circumstances, ten days.
Westward the star of empire has taken its way; let us but carry out its destiny and cause it to shed its rays upon the shores of Asia.
A line of steamers from San Francisco to Shanghai should not only become the first study of our Pacific merchants and bankers, but New-York should, by every means in her power, hasten the consummation of such a noble project. Nay, there is not within the legitimate scope of governmental protection and patronage a more important or useful field.
With a line of swift steamers from San Francisco, Shanghai can be brought to within twenty days of New-York, and London in twenty-six days. Over this line the current news, the mails, the exchanges and the bullion would soon inevitably find their way, as well as the lighter and most costly of Chinese, Japanese, and much of the Indian commerce, seek a market or eastern transportation.
San Francisco is in 38°, Shanghai in 32° N. L. ; the distance is about 5,500 miles. From New-York to Liverpool it is 3,000 miles; consequently, with steamers such as the VANDERBILT, the Adriatic and the BALTIC, Shanghai would be but sixteen and a half days distant from San Francisco.
Counting seventeen days from Shanghai to San Francisco, one day's telegraph to Cape Race, and six days thence by steam and telegraph to London, we find that China is only twenty-four days distant from the Bank of England.
This schedule gives us an important advantage over the western mails and steamers leaving Shanghai for Europe via the Peninsular and Oriental Company's line.
Considering, as I do, that by no combination of circumstances the centre of commerce and power on our side of the Pacific can ever be removed from San Francisco, I shall consider that as the point from which our contact with Asia shall concentrate.
There seems to be, as yet, no limit to the discoveries of the more precious metals. The field is no longer limited to the foot-hills and western slope of the Sierra Nevada, but has crossed equally to the eastern slope ; while Oregon, Washington and British Columbia have been added.
The silver deposits of our young and thriving Nevada, now in rapid course of development, must, within a very few years, give to San Francisco the control of supply for India and China of that metal.
It has been estimated by parties engaged in silver mining in Nevada, that there is now sufficient machinery on located mines in the territory to produce, when put in working order, fifty millions of dollars the first year.
Again, the cinnabar of California assures the working of the silver mines, for this metal is found in such abundance that the supply of quicksilver may be considered adequate to all demands.
Amid all this surfeit of gold, silver, cinnabar and copper of California and adjacent territories, we find yet other elements of prosperity, safety and wealth.
While the gold-fields are so rich and extensive, the wheat fields are adequate to all demands; and while the miners in the mountains, ravines and placers are settling the balances of the world with their yellow dust, the no less industrious cultivators of the soil are distributing to distant nations of the earth their golden harvest.
Not content with regulating and sustaining the commerce of the world by supplying the basis upon which it rests, as well as literally scattering her bread upon the waters, California, with her vine-clad hills and valleys, must soon make herself not only independent of, but will enter the markets of the world with her wines and brandies.
Thus, amid all these elements of wealth, prosperity and luxury, it is hardly necessary to attempt to foreshadow what position San Francisco must surely hold on the shores of the Pacific, nor attempt to picture her steady and irresistible march to power and wealth.
But these white-winged messengers, that so much delighted and astonished our forefathers, which walked the waters like things of life, and dared the elements to strife, and all that, no longer rule the wave.
In our degenerate times we most delight to see a black but graceful combination of iron and wood, some three to six hundred feet long, belching forth from her great smoke-stack volumes of the densest and blackest smoke, her great paddles dashing the waves to foam, and her sharp prow cutting the ocean asunder, while her track glides away in a sea of light.
It is something like this that rules the ocean now; without it we are fifty years behind the times.
San Francisco must have steam to China, and it is time not only that our merchants, but our government took the question under serious and determined consideration.
Consider at this time the thrcatening attitude of our foreign relations, the immense extent of our Pacific coast, the absolute necessity, in case of war, for a defensive steam marine, and we should need no further argument to make us act promptly and efficiently.
It is to be hoped that Congress is now, or soon may be, pretty thoroughly weeded of political hucksters, and that instead of legislating for self, that great and [should be] noble body of men will be found legislat
: ing for their country.
What an insignificant sum one or two or three millions of dollars a year would be in order to give us the control of the Chinese commerce, while at the same time we would be building up a steam fleet upon the Pacific which would render us secure in case of war.
It is astonishing how easy it is to do a great thing if we only have a very little encouragement; this has been proved very recently, in the construction of the Pacific Telegraph, which everybody has been talking of for the last ten years, yet no one man would, or set of men could be found, either in or out of the United States, to undertake its construction without the help of government.
This miserable pittance of forty thousand dollars a year has accomplished one of the wonders of the age; a sum, I have no doubt, the government will be enabled to save in actual expenditure and economy more than a dozen times this present year.
Again, the government is giving a million a year to the overland mail. Now, as a matter of revenue, I have no doubt it is a bad speculation, or rather investment; but has not the establishment of the overland mail hastened and rendered more practicable the erection of the telegraph ? and though the government makes very bad bargains in some cases, yet facilities are cheapened in others. Thus the million given to the overland mail induced telegraphists to undertake their great work for forty thousand dollars, and though the discrepancy, as far as resulting actual benefit is concerned, is so enormous, that one is constrained to fancy that Congress, in its idea of compensation or encouragement, is not always ruled
very sagely, yet we rest content on general results. However, we have now the overland mail and the telegraph; these are of the past now let us look to the future.
Yet we must not forget how easy and rapidly these really great and difficult works were accomplished with only a very little, a mere mite, of that lubricating and efficient government oil-money.
Now, since Congress has set the ball in motion, and rolled both postcoach and telegraph over the grand deserts and mountains of North America, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, let our wise men, political economists, statesmen, philosophers and philanthropists just keep the ball in motion, while they have their hands in, and send the fleet and stately steamer across the gentle Pacific, and, consequently, finish the last link in compassing the round earth with steam and electricity. The space from San Francisco to Shanghai is the last gap
that remains to be filled in this world-encircling girdle.
Congress should, within twenty days from the first Monday in December next, pass a bill offering at least one million of dollars to any individual or association who would carry the United States mails to China and Japan, not less than twice a month.
It is hardly necessary to present an estimate of the number of steamers, their dimensions, speed or cost which should undertake this service. The moment the question is presented to Congress, a dozen competitors for the honor and emoluments would be ready with every detail and specification.
Let it not be said that this is not the proper time to present the subject to Congress, because we are engaged in a war for our national existence, that we are taxing the whole energies and calling upon the whole resources of the nation in a time of great peril
, and that the expenditures to sustain the government will reach five hundred millions a year, the bulk of which must be borrowed.
No! let us rather say that the United States still exists; we know our duty and our future; our national flag still floats on every sea, and shall continue to float; and, as an evidence of our faith and determination, we mean it shall float triumphantly on the Pacific as well as on the Atlantic.
Our steam line from San Francisco to Shanghai will strengthen and consolidate that power so necessary to a commercial nation, and evidence to the world that, as a great power, we surrender nothing to the circumstances of the hour, but go steadily, hopefully and bravely forth in the path of progress, duty and power.
If Congress will do this we will, amid one of the most gigantic wars that has ever reddened the page of history, prove to the world our vitality as well as our determination to exist.
While there are so many thousands actively engaged in the strife and hazards of war, there are yet many more thousands equally active and zealous in all the arts of peace, and this enterprise would be most readily and quickly undertaken, and carried out successfully.
Now is the time; our commerce wants new avenues--extension, expansion. Thousands of our merchants and ship-owners have been driven from old, time-honored, lucrative and beaten paths. Let the government, while they are sustaining it with their millions upon millions of money, open up this new field of commercial enterprise, and pour some of the wealth of India into their coffers.
Able navigators should be left to choose the route to reach Shanghai; whether they reach it by the northern or southern route, it matters not to the government.
If experimental voyages should prove that the outward route should be made direct to Shanghai, taking advantage of the northeast trade winds, let it be so, returning up through the sea of Japan, touching at such ports as necessary.
At Hakodadi the commerce and mails for the Amoor and other Russian-Asiatic possessions would be distributed, while our whaling fleet in the North Pacific would make this point a rendezvous for advices from home.
Our steamers, thus making a circuit from San Francisco to Shanghai, thence
up the western coast of Japan, and out through the Straits of Sangar on their return, would consolidate and accommodate American commerce, and assure to it all the necessary facilities for rapid and regular communication, strengthen us in the east, and divide the commercial empire of India with Great Britain.
Table of distances from San Francisco to important ports on the Pacific. To the Amoor,
4,200 miles, Hakodadi,
3,000 Sandwich Islands,
5,500 Sailing vessels have made the voyage from Shanghai to San Francisco in about thirty days; from the Amoor in thirty; from Petropavlosky in seventeen days, and from Hakodadi in twenty-two days. These are the short and favorable voyages; generally, a large per cent. in time must be added to these voyages.
The Pacific Ocean being so much more tranquil than the Atlantic, steamers would make much greater speed; and again, there would be no winter coasts to be approached, with northeasters, snow-storms or icebergs. Consequently, the voyages across the Pacific would be attended with much less risk, greater speed and more regularity than across the Atlantic.
Again, voyagers bound from China for Europe would find it decidedly safer and more pleasant to reach Europe, via San Francisco and NewYork, rather than by Calcutta, Bombay and the Red Sea.
Over the Indian route the heat is intense, the seas liable to sudden
tempests, while the construction, size and accommodation of the English steamers compare very unfavorably with ours on the California side.
If our route from Shanghai to San Francisco should be to the north, via the Straits of Sangar, and consequently on a great circle, we would make quicker time and avoid all the scorching and broiling that passengers so much complain of on the Indian overland line via the Red Sea.
The time from Shanghai to London being about sixty days by the Peninsular and Oriental Overland Company's conveyance for mails and passengers, we claim that the Occidental California route would attract and attach to it a fair, if not a marked number of passengers, as well as the preponderance of mails.
Telegraphically our San Francisco route defies the competition of the Peninsular and Oriental Company, because, under the most favorable circumstances of that company's despatches, we can reach London to the east, via San Francisco and Cape Race, in about twenty-five days; whereas it takes about forty-five days from Hong Kong, and consequently about fifty days from Shanghai, for telegraphic despatches to reach London over the Indian overland route. This time
may be reduced, to be sure, if the efforts to relay or reconstruct the Mediterranean and Red Sea cables should be permanently successful. But speculation is unnecessary when we have an aerial line that defies the elements, is visible and palpable, and which can only, under the most unfavorable circumstances, be interrupted but a few days at any one time.
Give us, then, our swift, airy, well-ventilated and capacious American floating, sea-going, Pacific palaces, and, my word on it, we will not only carry our own mails and passengers, but will tap the Peninsular and Oriental line, and divert a large proportion of oriental voyagers and mails to our shores, where comfort, health and luxury will be increased a hundred fold.
Nor will we be confined to passengers alone. These steamers will carry the specie, the quicksilver, and the higher descriptions of merchandise to China, besides many articles of luxury, fruits, wines, flour, butter, preserved fruits, meats, etc., etc., etc.
In return we will receive not only what is required for the consumption of the Pacific coast of Chinese and Japanese produce and articles of luxury, but we may expect the finer teas, silks, etc., etc., to find their way to New-York and even Europe, via San Francisco and Panama.
In fact, this steam line once established, we would, like in the case of the Pacific telegraph, be absolutely surprised not only why we had not carried it out before, and the ease with which it was done, but we would be astounded at the new avenues of commerce it would open to us, and the facility and ease with which we acquired so glorious a result.
Therefore, under the various phases of the completion of the last link in the world-encircling steam and telegraph lines over and around the Pacific, in order to open up to us the vast commerce of Asia, may we not very justly begin to look forward to the day when the transfer of power must be from the far off seat of power now enthroned in London, to a more genial, approachable and adjacent seat on the shores of the Pacific itselt, viz., San Francisco?
It is a thought that is not vague or vagrant; we have only to grapple with manly souls and willing works, and even before the work shall itself be accomplished, the empire of London over Chinese commerce will be found gradually migrating towards the golden and silver shores of the Pacific.