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route, and that the company on paying the damages, or depositing them in a bank to the credit of any person entitled to them, should become vested with the lands for the purposes by them required forever: and with a view to prevent the company from being burthened with the expense of purchasing said lands, the following section was enacted, which is considered by those who are acquainted with the country through which the rail road must pass, as offering such inducements to private individuals to make donations of their lands to the company, as must prove equivalent to a grant of the greater part of all the land which the company can possibly require for their purposes. The section referred to is the 13th section of the charter:
“That whenever the owner or owners of any land necessary to be used and occupied by the said company, for the purpose of locating and constructing said road or any part thereof, shall convey a good and perfect title in such land to the said company, in fee simple, for the use of said rail road, such owner shall have and enjoy such part of his other lands, if he have any adjoining the said road, free and exempt from taxation forever: Provided, that the quantity of land so exempt from taxation, shall never exceed five times the area of the parcel of land so conveyed by him to the said company: And provided further, that such owner shall select the said tract of land, so to be exempt from taxation, within thirty days after the date of his conveyance to the company, and cause the same to be accurately surveyed by an approved engineer of the said company, and the survey to be recorded in the office for the recording of deeds in and for the county where the said lands are situate: Provided also further, that the board of directors of said company shall give a certificate to such owner, stating how much land ought to be exempted from taxation in consideration of such owner's grant to the company, and the survey of the land so to be exempt from taxation, shall contain no more land than the board of directors shall certify ought to be exempted as aforesaid."
It may be safely averred, that this charter confers benefits on this company which are unexampled in the history of public improvements in this country. No bonus is required on the part of the State for the grant, but on the contrary, it is expressly pledged, that the company and all its property, shall be exempt from all manner of taxation for fifty years, while nearly all the lands on the route, actually necessary for the purposes of the road, are virtually ceded to the company. But the legislature was not satisfied with this. By the 21st section of the charter, provision is made to de. fray the expense of a reconnoisance and survey of the best route for the rail road contemplated by the act, and of an estimate of its cost, with a full report to be published detailing the advantages of the road-and every expense preparatory to the actual organiza. tion of the company is borne by the State, even to the payment for the subscription books, and the compensation of the agents employed to procure the stock. Finally, by the 23d section of the charter, the State treasurer is directed to subscribe for and in behalf of this State, the sum of $25,000 in the capital stock of said company,
It will be evident to any one who shall peruse this charter, that the ingenuity of the draftsman has been taxed to the utmost, to suggest and provide legislative aid for this great enterprise. It may not be amiss to pause here for a moment, and inquire why this charter of unexampled liberality and munificence was granted by the legislature of Delaware. The increase of population in the State of Delaware, for the last fifty years, has been slower than that of any State within the union. The rate of increase of population in the United States during the term of ten years prcccding the year 1830, is correctly estimated at thirty-three per cent. During that time the rate of increase in the State of Illinois was 185 per cent; while the rate of increase in Delaware was less than in any other State in the union, being only six per cent! The progress of improvement in the counties of Kent and Sussex, and a large part of the county of New Castle, appears to have been arrested during all this time, by the utter want of all cheap and economical means of inter-communication, with the rest of our country,
The farmer in Kent and Sussex, after dragging his produce for many miles to some granary on the banks of a shallow creek, ha's been compelled to pay for transportation of his grain to Philadelphia or New York, a sum generally varying from four to five, and even six cents in the bushel, while a corresponding tax on every article of merchandize consumed in his family, has been laid upon him for freight and incidental charges. The means of introducing lime, plaster, and the various manures which are of easy access to others, have been so encumbered by the expense of transportation, that a farmer residing among the fine forest land of Kent, which is really one of the most beautiful agricultural districts in the State, has generally considered his land entirely out of the pale of improvement, except from the limited resources of his own farm. Shut out even from personal intercourse with the rest of the world, except by tedious and inconvenient stage-routes, the connections, trade and business of the people in two-thirds of the State, with the other parts of the country, have been perhaps less, than those of any other population of corresponding numbers in any part of the United States. The main stage road which passes through the very poorest portion of the State, has given the transient passenger an erroneous opinion of the wealth and resources of the country-and the most ridiculous reports and misrepresentations as to the health of the climate, have effectually prevented persons at a distance from emigrating to, and settling within these counties.
There are advantages felt by those whose means of communication with the rest of the world are direct and immediate, which it would be difficult to describe well, to one who has never shared
them, and which every man of intelligence can better feel than express. From all these the people of that section of country through which this road must pass, if it ever be completed, have been measurably excluded. If wealth existed among them, no means of employing it for their benefit, offered itself to the capitalist, who sought profit to himself in the investment of his money. The natural consequence of all this was, that the surplus capital of these people has been usually employed for the benefit of others, and that They have invested large sums in the improvements of other States, and especially in foreign banking corporations. A friend who estimates the amount of capital actually known to have been thus abstracted from the State for the employment of labor, industry and enterprise, in other States, has computed that more than half a million of dollars in two counties are at this time invested out of our own limits. The banking capital of Delaware, though large enough for the limited demands of her business men, paralyzed as her energies have ever partially been, is less in proportion to the numbers of her people, than exists in any other part of the United States, of which the writer has any information.
Seeing these things, the legislature of this State, at the time of the adoption of this charter, also beheld things rapidly tending to a state which would enable them to escape from this condition. The Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Rail Road, the New Castle and Frenchtown Rail Road, and the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, formed three great connecting links, running through the northern part of the State between the eastern and western, the northern and southern sections of the union. The Delaware breakwater was nearly completed and furnished an outport to the city of Philadelphia, of inestimable importance to her commerce. The mole, or pier at Lewes, which is now finished, and forms a landing place for cargoes and passengers from the breakwater, was then projected. The town of Seaford, on the Nanticoke river, than which a better stream for navigation of steamboats of the largest class, does not exist in this country, seemed to offer a termination for one of the projections of the rail road: thus opening a route from Norfolk, Richmond, and other southern cities, to the north, unrivalled, and incapable of being rivalled either for economy or expedition in travelling. The most desirable of all routes for the whole people of Delaware, appeared to be that extending from one of the great rail roads in the northern part of the State, to its south boundary, and passing thence through a part of the eastern shore of Maryland and the eastern shore of Virginia to Cherry-stone, or some other suitable point on the waters of the Chesapeake. Should this plan fail for the present, in consequence of the refusal of either of those States to permit the extension of the road through her limits, it was still seen by the legislature of Delaware, that in the mean time, and until such assent could be obtained, we could secure the most important advantages to ourselves and to others, by the rail roads to Seaford and to Lewes. Seaford
is within our own limits, and the right to navigate the Nanticoke and the Chesapeake, from that point, could never be taken from us. It was believed to have been ascertained that the number of persons who actually took passage from Norfolk for Philadelphia and New York during the year 1835, and who did not pass through Baltimore, nor travel in the Chesapeake steamboats, exceeded 55,000. The number of travellers from the peninsula, which contains a population of more than 200,000, and the increased travel to be gained by a rail road to Lewes, from passengers who may arrive within the breakwater from foreign countries, though looked to as an important means of supporting and ensuring success to the enterprise, were the subjects of estimates which were merely conjectural. It was known from the general features of the country, that as there would be little comparative expense in grading on the route, and as the price of timber along the line of it, was remarkably low, owing to the present want of market for it, the construction of the road per mile, would be unusually cheap. It was known too, that the banks of the Nanticoke river from its sources to its mouth, contained quantities of pine wood and timber, to supply fuel, for steamboats and locomotive engines, literally inexhaustible,--and that too at the unparalleled price, of from $1 to $1 25 per cord, delivered at Seaford, or at the banks of the river, and that for the construction and repair of the road the whole line of its route abounded in the finest oak timber. As a practical means therefore of improving the country, and conferring the most important benefit on the people, it seemed that this enterprise deserved every encouragement, and accordingly it was promptly resolved to spare no effort to carry it into execution.
Accordingly, the commissioners appointed for the purpose, immediately after the passage of the charter, directed the surveys of the route to be made. For this purpose, John Randel, jr., the civil engineer who constructed the New Castle and Frenchtown Rail Road, was appointed engineer-in-chief, and Edward Stavely, Assistant Engineer, with the requisite corps of assistants, took the field without delay. The reconnoisance was completed and the legislature at its last session, received a full report which, under their orders has been published, with lithographic maps and profiles of the route surveyed.
The important facts ascertained by this survey, and set forth in the report to which it is the object of the writer to draw public attention, are the following:
First. The country through which the road will pass, is almost a level plane. (See Report, page 19.)
Second. A permanent rail road with large curves and gentle grades, could be made along the ridge dividing the waters which flow into the Chesapeake, from those which empty into the Delaware bay at a less cost per mile, than along any other route or through any other country of the same extent that the engineer-inchief has ever become acquainted with. (See his Report p. 1.)
Third.— The highest estimated cost of a rail road through the towns from the Wilmington and Susquehanna Rail Road to the south boundary of the State, is $1,069,462.
Fourth.—The highest estimate of cost of a rail road from the Wilmington and Susquehanna Rail Road to Seaford, on the Nanticoke river, by a direct route through the intervening towns is a fraction less than $900,000.
Fifth. And it is estimated as certain, that one million of dollars would be amply sufficient to complete the whole rail road from Wilmington both to Seaford and to Lewes.--(See the Report, p. 16.
So that by an outlay here of one million of dollars, ihe city of Philadelphia could now turn the southern trade and travel to herself; opening a communication with the vast regions of the south and south-west, shorter by nearly one hundred miles, than the present route by Baltimore, and at the same time secure to herself all the advantages of an outport on the Atlantic, at the Delaware Breakwater. During the winter months when the Delaware is locked up by ice, her intercourse with the rest of the world would be easier than that of any rival city in the union, and in the heats of summer, when rustication is necessary to the health and comfort of many of her citizens, the sea breeze on the beautiful beach at Cape Henlopen, and the salt bathing of the Atlantic could be enjoyed, without incurring any of the dangers which seem to be inseparable from steam navigation, after a pleasant ride of not more than four or five hours by the rail road to Lewes. The whole estimated distance even through the towns, from the Wilmington and Susquehanna Rail Road, either to Lewes or Seaford, does not exceed seventy-five miles. A direct route from that rail road to Seaford, over or near the dividing ridge, would not exceed seventy miles.
The annexed documentary evidence, taken from witnesses of the highest respectability, all of whom are personally known to citizens of this State, is important in connection with this subject, as showing the distances by water from Seaford to Norfolk, Richmond, York, and other places, and the true character of the Nanticoke navigation. From whatever cause it may arise, the fact stated in the 'letter of captain Wright (an extract from which is subjoined,) that the river Nanticoke does not freeze so as to impede navigation one winter in ten, two weeks at a time, is one which, however singular it may appear to persons at a distance, is perfectly familiar to those who live near this noble river. The depth of water at Seaford is at least ten feet, and the river increases in depth through its course; being twelve feet deep a mile below, and about forty feet deep in twenty miles, free from shoals or impediments, and extremely well lighted; and the navigation for seventy miles from Seaford to the mouth of Tangier sound and in Elizabeth river, being together about two-thirds of the whole distance from Seaford to Norfolk is, to use the phrase of one of these experienced watermen, "secure like sailing in a mill-pond." The distance from Sea