E[dmond] C[harles] Genêt to MVB, 3 March 1825
March. 3rd 1825.
You have been one of the commissionners appointed by the State to report the most efficient plan to improve the navigation of the Hudson river; you have, with the other members of that commission, recommended my plan of a lateral ship canal, along the obstructions as the best; you have done more, you have introduced into the Senate of the united states, the Joint resolutions of the two branches of our Legislature, soliciting the assistance of congress to carry that important measure into effect, and no one is more entitled than you, to receive with my individual thanks, a copy of an address delivered last year by me, at the capitol, before the members of the Legislature and the society for the promotion of useful arts on various subjects in relation to that public improvement, but particularly on the philosophical facts, and legal principles proving that our canaling system and the canal policy so much, and so Justly celebrated on several accounts, is not, however, exempt from error and defects, on others.
The assessment of the canal tolls and the tonnage duty connected with those tolls, appear to me to be altogether objectionable, as well as the idea (not unexpectedly) countenanced this year by Mr. clinton in his Message at the opening of the Session, of throwing again more public money in the Hudson and to continue notwithstanding twenty years unsuccessful experiment, to improve the navigation of that river by the means of dams and local excavations, which he had himself, as one of our colleagues in the commission above mentioned, admitted to be the less efficient and permanent method.
But, Dear Sir, it has happened to, that fortuitously, I had last year in my address related all the false grounds and positions that his excellency has taken this year with respect to the centripetal action of the supreme court of the united states, as well as to our national and public law in reference to navigation and commerce, and to the irrational ambition of seeing the city of New york rank among the great plagues of Europe, the overgrown metropolis and Emporiums of trade.
For my part, Dear Sir, as an old fashioned Republican, I wish well to New york, but I do not aspire with a centrifugal enthusiasm to see that city absorb, by its centripetal force of attraction (to use the figurative and philosophical expressions of the governor) all the Mercantile business of the state, and I think that to maintain that equipoise which ought to rule in every thing a Republican government, it would be proper, as much as human wisdom can accomplish it, to give to the Northern markets on the Hudson a share in maritime commerce by facilitating as far as practicable the access of sea vessels to their docks.
That great measure, Dear Sir, would be extremely beneficial to the united states and connected with the operation of the western and northern canals, which facilitates on our side the transportation of the supplies of all Kinds to the remotest parts of the northern and western frontiers, it would defeat more effectually smugling than all the cordons of troops or custom house agents that could be scattered on the line. In that view it would be adv[is]able to unite, into one district, the several trading places from the city of Hudson to Waterford, And of the person, who the first has proposed to extend the atlantick navigation to the head of tide waters on the Hudson, and to create there a united states district, was deemed the most entitled to superintend as collector and organize that new department, I should with a competent and decent compensation undertake the task, being in want of support.
I came poor to this country and I left my office poorer yet, though I had ample means to make an immense fortune, had I been a speculator in any thing but the general emancipation of mankind. The anticipated property of my first wife daughter of the late george clinton has passed to her children on whose piety I depend. My rural life and farming, have brought me nothing but labour and pain. My second wife the daughter of the late S. Osgood, has lost all her property by reason of endorsements imprudently given by her mother to her son, And I see old age advance, with a second breed of children on my hands, when the resources of youth to react against adversity, are past.
My difficulties with the federal administration in 1793 ought not to be in the way of my claim, if it is recollected, under a Republican administration, that the advances made towards me, at that fatal period by the Republican party have been, more than my faithfulness in attempting to execute the most exalted and imperious orders, the cause of the complaints to the murderers and assassins who had succeeded to my friends in france and who have not hesitated to sacrifice me. Had I Joined the federalists who made me at the time of my arrival the most liberal openings, I should not now have to beg my bread.
At all events, Dear Sir, it will hurt nothing to have deposited in the bosom of friendship my views for the improvement of my situation and I leave it to your good Judgement and prudence to see what might be done for my relief. Mr. Munroe was my friend; With Mr Adams I am not acquainted, but his venerable father has told me and several others, and perhaps has mentioned it to his illustrious son, that he should never forget that my father who was then first clerk of foreign affairs, had received him and his family at versailles with hospitality and a fervent zeal for the cause of america of which he was one of the warmest supporters in his department, and that though very yong, but speaking English fluently, I was appointed to attend Mr adams and his lady as a Cicerone and shew them all the curiosities of the palace and gardens of the King. I do not dare to send you to the President a copy of my address expressive of my devotion to our government, but I send you three and you may do with them what you may think proper. If you wanted aid and assistance I have reason to think that Messers Rensselear Livingston and Hagheboom would concur with you to promote my object.
With much respect and a sincere attachment I remain Dear Sir
Your obedient serv