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CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE AND BOARDS OF TRADE.
I. New-YORK. II. Boston. III. MONTREAL. Monthly Meeting of the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New
York, Thursday, June 6th. Election of New Members—Medals for the Officers and Men who Garrisoned Fort
Sumter and Fort Pickens-Flax in place of Cotton—Improvements of Fortifications in the Harbor of New-York-Resolutions in relation to the Death of Mr. HOFFMAN, &c.
The regular monthly meeting of the Chamber of Commerce was held at their rooms Thursday, June 6th, at one o'clock P. M., the President, Pelatiah Perit, Esq., in the chair.
The following gentlemen, proposed at the last monthly meeting, were elected members of the Chamber: Josiah S. BENNET, 125 Front-street. Henry G. REEVE, 231 Front-street. S. DE W. BloodGood, 110 B'way. Livingston SATTERLEE, 56 Wall-st. Charles Butler, 12 Wall-street. Geo. G. SPENCER, 106 Front-street. Thomas N. DALE, 18 Warren-street. Henry F. Vail, 29 Nassau-street. SAMUEL JAUDON, 54 Wall-street. Samuel WETMORE, 59 Pine-street. William P. Jones, 109 Wall-street. Wm. Aug. WHITE, 63 Broadway.
On motion of PROSPER M. WETMORE, the proposed amendments to the by-laws relating to the election, on the 20 May last, of a committee of arbitration, to whom all mercantile disputes should be referred, the proceedings were confirmed as the action of the Chamber. In connection with this subject Mr. OPDYKE, the chairman of the Arbitration Committee, announced that the committee was organized and prepared to transact any business that might be referred to them.
Mr. Royal Phelps, in rising to introduce a subject, which he said did not properly come within the line of business for which the Chamber was created to consider, wished first to apologize for bringing forward a matter which, in reality, was irrelevant. But he had been requested by a distinguished gentleman, whom they all knew well, to bring before the Chamber the propriety of doing something to commemorate the gallantry of the garrison at Fort Sumter, particularly of the men. The idea which had been thus suggested to him harmonized so entirely with his own sentiments that he had concluded to present it, and he had no doubt they would take up the question, although it was strictly outside the usual occupation of the Chamber. He proposed the following resolution :
Resolved, That the Executive Committee of this Chamber, after consultation with and subject to the approval of Colonel ANDERSON or his second in command, cause to be prepared a suitable medal for each of the soldiers and non-commissioned officers of the late garrison of Fort Sumter, and to have them presented to them at as early a day as possible, at the expense of this Chamber. In presenting some remarks explaining the reasons why he offered the
VOL. XLV.-NO, I.
resolution, Mr. Puelps said it would be observed that he had taken no notice of the officers; but his principal object was that notice should be taken of the soldiers, without whose cheerful acquiescence in the wishes of the officers it would have been impossible that so much honor should have been reflected upon our flag in the manner in which it was surrendered. Another reason was, that the soldiers in the service of our country, republican and democratic as it is, have a less opportunity for distinction open to them than the soldiers of any other country in the world. Our officers were always called from the higher classes of society, and educated at public expense. There were few instances wherein a soldier in the regular army rose to the distinction of an officer. A different state of things exists in the French and English armies, where brave men were taken out of the ranks, rewarded with promotion and decorated by their sovereigns. Reward in our service was made only through an act of Congress, which was a cumbersome mode. He knew there was a deep sympathy felt by the merchants and every class of people in the country with the soldiers, and when conduct like that of the garrison of Fort Sumter, who stood at their posts when there was almost a forlorn hope, and who, when the national flag was stricken down, brought it tenderly in their arms, as it were, to this city, he thought something should be done to reward them. He made a distinction between the men and the officers, not because he wished to disparage the conduct of the latter, but because while the officers had received many attentions which showed that their services were appreciated, the men had not; therefore he hoped the resolution would be adopted without the amendment, and that the style and price of the medals would be left entirely to the judgment of the Executive Committee.
Mr. George W. Blunt seconded the resolution, moving an amendment that the garrison of Fort Pickens, which was under command of Lieutenant SLEMMER, be added to the list.
Mr. George OPDyke thought it would be an indirect censure upon the officers to leave them out, and he moved that they be included. This suggestion was accepted by Mr. BLUNT.
Mr. Phelps was sorry, he said, to be compelled to object to the amendment. He saw no good reason to include the command of Lieut. SLEMMER, particularly as it would destroy the distinctive point which he wished to establish in rewarding the garrison of Fort Sumter. The defence of Fort Sumter, and the attention which that garrison attracted from the people of the United States, required some special recognition. It was the first firing upon any important post at the flag of their country, by our very mistaken and very rash brethren at the South.
That act produced such a revolution in sentiment as had never before been experienced in this country. It had united men of the North who had different party preferences, and brought them to the sustainment of the government in its efforts to put down this rebellion at the South. It was the gallant conduct of that garrison which produced that result. Fort Sumter was spoken of all over the world. From there went forth the electric spark which was to save the honor of the constitution; and he wanted to confine his motion specially to Fort Sumter on that account. He hoped Mr. Blunt would withdraw his amendment.
Mr. Denning Duer said he hoped it would not be withdrawn, for if it should be, he would renew it.
The resolution was modified so as to include the officers and garrison which were under command of Major Anderson at Fort Sumter, and Lieutenant Slemmer at Fort Pickens, and as amended was adopted, viz. :
Resolved, That the Executive Committee of the Chamber cause to be prepared a suitable medal for each of the officers and soldiers of the late garrison of Fort Sumter, under command of Major ROBERT ANDERSON, and of Fort Pickens, under command of Lieutenant Adam J. SLEMMER, and that the same be presented to them at the earliest day possible, at the expense of the Chamber.
Mr. Samuel B. Ruggles presented the following resolution for the consideration of the Chamber:
Resolved, That it be referred to a committee of members of the Chamber of Commerce of New-York, to inquire and report as to the progress made in chemical, mechanical or other processes for substituting the fiber of flax for that of cotton.
Mr. GEORGE W. Blunt seconded the resolution. (Specimens of hats, hosiery and felt cloth, manufactured from the fiber of flax, were exhibited to the members.)
Mr. Ruggles in moving the resolution, said that the subject of inquiry which it proposed was of importance, not only in an industrial and commercial point of view, but had recently acquired a vastly increased interest in its national and high political bearings. It is not merely a question, large as that might be, of the employment of millions of acres. of our lands, and hundreds of thousands of our rural population in a. new branch of prosperous industry, nor yet of the increased stimulus to. manufactures and commerce, in the fabrication and transportation of a. material, as yet nearly unknown. The great question really is, to discover, if possible, the means of commercial and political emancipation from the dominion of that virtual monopoly in the production of cotton, by a comparatively small section of our republic, which has not only involved it in civil war, but is now greatly endangering the peace of the civilized world. It is to determine whether we shall or shall not submit, without a struggle, to a giant monopoly, which emboldens its possessor to dictate, not only law and government, but morals and manners to all mankind. We need not dwell on the dangerous and galling character of this pretension. It is already sufficiently manifest, both in commerce and politics, leading at once to the most energetic efforts by Great Britain and its subjects, to penetrate every region of the globe, to discover and develop such new sources of supply as shall free them from their present dependence on the cotton regions of our North American continent. These efforts have been so far successful as to induce the belief, that within a moderate period adequate supplies will be forthcoming for the use of the world. It need hardly be urged that this great effort for the commercial emancipation of the civilized nations of the earth would be materially aided by the discovery and cheap production of any material which could take the place of cotton to any considerable extent. It is, therefore, to this subject, that the attention of the Chamber of Commerce is now respectfully requested, as a proper subject of attention and thorough inquiry. Without pretending in any way to prejudge the results of such an examination, it may safely be asserted that the facts already ascertained, in respect to the progress made in this country to sub
means a new one.
stitute the fiber of flax for that of cotton, will entitle the subject to a full examination by a committee of this body. The idea of substituting the fiber of flax for that of cotton is by no
It was proposed in England as early as the year 1775, and with partial success, and repeatedly afterwards in Germany, Bohemia and other parts of Europe, by various processes suggested in the years 1780, 1807, 1803 and 1816. It was in the year 1850 that the Chevalier Claussen obtained his patent in England for extricating the fiber of flax by means of chemical agencies, in lieu of the former tedious, wasteful and unhealthy process of rotting by dew or standing water. The importance of the suggestion excited at once the attention of our highly intelligent and patriotic fellow-countryman, Mr. ABBOTT LAWRENCE, then in London as American minister, and at his instance the subject was carefully examined in the year 1851, by a committee of the legislature of Massachusetts. The chemical process of CLAUSSEN, improved, as is said, by subsequent discoverers, after the delays incident to all new inventions, has proved so far successful, that the flax fiber thus extracted and prepared is now successfully manufactured in considerable quantities in various parts of New-England.
The precise details, and the character, value and cost of the fabric will necessarily form the subject of the careful scrutiny of the committee. In addition to these chemical agencies for extricating the fiber, mainly by solutions of acids and alkalies, another very interesting process of a mechanical character has lately been proposed, and proved to be very successful, by employing condensed steam as a disintegrating agent. It deserves the most attentive examination, it being claimed by the inventors that the flax fiber may be thereby prepared with great expedition and economy, so that it can be afforded in large quantities for a price not exceeding eight cents per pound. It is further stated, that an acre of flax land will yield a sufficient quantity to afford the material for a bale of fiber of about 400 pounds. It should be distinctly understood that the fiber of flax is not identical with that of cotton, in a botanical and physiological sense, but that they are greatly alike in color, weight and durability. It is by no means expected that it will wholly take the place of cotton, in all its varieties of fabric, but, according to present indications, it is claimed that it fairly promises to prove as a substitute for at least a portion of the coarser fabrics. Should it prove to be a substitute to any considerable extent, it must materially influence or hasten the solution of that great problem of the supply of cotton which is now agitating the various governments of the civilized world. Mr. RICHARD LATHERS hoped the resolution would not pass.
He thought that the Chamber, which was devoted more especially to commercial interests, should not fritter away its energies upon subjects of that kind. He did not think the arguments presented in favor of the resolution were as happy as they might be. Mr. LATHERS had travelled extensively in the South recently, and he found, he said, in nearly all cases, that the people of the South whose interests were connected with cotton, while they yielded to the storm which was blowing over them, yet cherished a strong affection for the Union. Therefore he deprecated any action that would be calculated to throw firebrands in the midst of the Union-loving people of the South, and oppose our government in effecting the establishing of the bond of Union throughout the country. The government of the United States, he thought, was desirous of fostering legitimate industry in the South as well as in the North. He wanted us to show these Southern Union men that we did not want to put down their institution, but to put down this revolt. When the argument which had just been advanced by the preceding speaker should be read in the South, the idea it would convey would be, that instead of affording them protection and peace, we were anxious to destroy their industry. It was not true that the production and handling of cotton tended to divide this country; but, on the contrary, it tended to hold the sections together. He gloried in the sentiments enunciated by the Secretary of State, that the Union was not to be dissolved peaceably or otherwise. He was sorry there was not more Union sentiment in the South; but what did exist there was like leaven, and its influence would be felt. He was glad of the power the South commanded by her cotton, and the effect which the prospect of a short supply was producing upon England, for he regarded that staple not as the capital of the South, but the capital of the whole country. We had no intention of looking to a separation ; but that resolution looked very much to a separation. The Southern demagogues had taught their people to hate every thing that came from New England; but he hoped that a similar spirit would not be engendered by the North against the South. He hoped the resolution would not be adopted.
Mr. Royal Phelps hoped that the debate would close, and that the resolution would not prevail.
Mr. Duer spoke briefly in favor of its adoption; for he saw no reason why King Flax should not have as fair a trial as King Cotton.
Mr. RUGGLES distinctly disclaimed any intention of disloyalty to the Union, and said he was surprised to hear such an intimation, when they knew that through the whole course of his life he had cherished the idea that, as cotton was providentially placed, the country must of necessity be held together.
After a few remarks from Mr. OPDYKE, in support of the measure, the resolution, on motion of Mr. Phelps, was laid on the table, to be taken up at a future day.
Mr. Blunt offered a resolution to the effect, that as other were building iron-plated steamships, calculated to resist the most improved guns now in use, the Chamber urge the government of the United States to build a number of those iron-plated steamships, and to complete the fortifications in the harbor of New-York, especially the one at Sandy Hook.
It was stated by several members that the fortifications at Sandy Hook were the most important of all, and should be immediately completed.
The President suggested that several distinct measures might be required in relation to these fortifications, and thought that it would be better for the subject to go to a committee.
Mr. PROSPER N. WETMORE entirely concurred in this view, and thought we might soon be involved in a war with Continental Europe, for which it was our duty to prepare.
Finally the subject was disposed of, for the present, by the adoption of the following resolution :
Resolved, That a committee be appointed to inquire into the present state of the defences of this port, and, if found defective, to prepare a