« PreviousContinue »
charge their cargoes on the spacious quays surrounding two sides of the city. From hence that magnificent river the Hudson is navigable for large sloops and other vessels, as high up as Albany, a distance of 150 miles. The inhabitants of the whole State are enterprising and industrious, and lose no opportunity of improving by every means in their power, the natural advantages enjoyed by their city. They have cut a large canal joining Lake Champlain and the Hudson, thus connecting that river with the St. Lawrence; and have also cut a yet greater canal from Albany on the Hudson to Lake Erie ; a work that the oldest established European empire would be proud of, and which of its kind is perfectly unrivalled in any part of the world.
New York contains some fine buildings. Among these the City Hall is conspicuous, and is really a noble edifice. There is a very good Museum filled with objects extremely valuable to the zoologist, which are in fine preservation, and are kept very neat and clean.
The chief promenade in New York is a very spacious and long street called Broadway, that runs through the middle of the town. One end of this terminates at the point of the island on which ti eity is builts near a spot called “ The Battery,” from an old fort built there, and which is at present entirely useless. From hence to Fort Clinton, another useless old castle built in defiance of all the rules
of fortification, is a very pretty little public walk, through an acre or two of ground containing some large trees. It is very agreeable during the hot months, because, from its running along the water's edge, it receives the sea-breeze of the evening.
But what must particularly be remarked with regard to New York is, that it contains one of the largest naval depots in the United States. I may here therefore without impropriety offer a few remarks, concerning the maritime power of the Republic.
BEFORE the last war with Great Britain, the United States may be said to have had no navy. Although from the vast extent of sea-coast belonging to this commercial Republic, a maritime force seemed necessary to protect their trade, yet was the plan of having a navy exceedingly unpopular; for the people were very unwilling to incur the necessary expense, despairing of ever being able to cope with Great Britain.
Hence, when President Jefferson advised his fellow-citizens, to content themselves with building a sufficient number of gun-boats, to defend their rivers and harbours, this advice was put into execution, and was even carried so far that a frigate was sold as useless. But after they had captured a few British men-of-war, the Americans, in allusion to the gun-boats, which were for the most part drawn up ashore, derided the advice of Presi. sident Jefferson, by calling it “ the Terrapin System."*
When Commodore Hull brought the Guerriere into Boston, the people could hardly believe their senses, having previously imagined that a British frigate could easily take a seventy-four of any other nation. Every thing that could be thought of was done to confer honour on the first American officer who had taken a British frigate; he was thanked by Congress, he was presented with a superb sword by the inhabitants of Boston, and he was every where overwhelmed with congratulations and praises. The charm of English invincibility was broken, and a new spirit was infused into the sailors, and indeed into every class of the citizens. Several other successes increased their hopes : and the navy, from being looked upon with dislike, has become the darling of the nation, who are willing to pay any sums of money for its support and increase.
* The Terrapin is a small tortoise, very common throughout the United States, which climbs out of the water upon rocks or logs of wood to sun itself, but plunges hastily into the water when alarmed.
There are several reasons to be assigned for the maritime victories of the Americans. Their seaofficers knew that their very existence as a corps, depended on their exertions, and that unless they gained some successes, the navy would become very unpopular, and would perhaps be even entirely given up. Hence it is probable, that no vessels of war ever floated on the ocean, in which greater pains were taken in instructing and exercising the men, or in which a more exact and rigid discipline was enforced. The sailors were all volunteers, a circumstance upon which too much stress cannot be laid, as they must surely have felt more zeal and ardour, than men dragged from their home by violence, and forced to fight the battles of a country which oppressed them. Moreover the American
vessels were in every case of superior force to those of the British which they captured, but the difference was not very great, certainly not more than the British had been accustomed to disregard whenever they attacked the French. Besides this, the crews of our frigates were for the most part defective.
At the conclusion of the war with England, the American navy consisted of only a few frigates. An idea of its present force may be formed from the following statement :
Extract from “The Documents accompanying the
Message of the President of the United States to both Houses, at the Commencement of the Second Session of the Seventeenth Congress, December 3, 1822."
No. II. " List of Vessels of the United States' Navy, now
IS IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN...
IN THE MEDITERRANEAN.
ON THE COAşT OF AFRICA.