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trans-continental railways, all of comparatively recent construction, with which the canal will have to compete. One of these is through British territory, and will naturally have the sympathies of the British Government and of British merchants, for whatever sympathy in matters of this sort is worth. As the United States continental roads have been in the habit for many years of subsidizing the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, in the benefits of which the Panama Railroad participates, the presumption is, that the canal will have greatly the advantage in this competition ; but experience, as well as reason, teaches us that neither the railways nor the canal will get as much business as either might expect if its conipetitors did not exist, unless it was made up of new business which their ampler facilities of transportation are destined to develop.

All of the estimates of the traffic that have been hazarded, even those made by experts, whether selected by our own and European Governments or by the Canal Company, must at best be largely conjectural.

I do not propose to add to their number, though I will venture to signalize the curious and remarkable fact, that the product of any new facility of transportation, whether of passengers, merchandise or intelligence, by rail, by steamships, by telegraph or by telephone, has increased in a ratio far transcending the expectation of its most sanguine projectors.

The Suez Canal yielded a revenue from its transit tolls of less than $900,000 the first year of its operation. In ten years it yielded eight times that sum, and is now yielding an annual income of more than $12,000,000.*

Should the Asiatic contingent be thought debatable, there would remain 7,213 ships, with 8,091,988 aggregate tonnage, which, at $3 per ton, would yield 121,000,000 francs ($24,200,000) annually, or more than 10 per cent. on $240,000,000.

* The following table of the transit business of the Suez Canal is taken from the Revue-Gazette Maritime et Commerciale of January 1, 1886 :

YEARS. 1870, 1871, 1872, 1873, 1874, 1875, 1876, 1877, 1878, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1885,

Number of Ships.


Net Tonnage.

Receipts from Tolls. fcs. 4,345,758 42

765 1,082 1,173 1,264 1,494 1,457 1,663 1,593 1,477 2,026 · 2,727 3,198 3,307 3,284 3,624

761,467,050 1,160,743,542 1,367,767,820 1,631,650,140 2,009,984,091 2,096,771,613 2,355,447,695 2,269,376,315 2,2633,332,194 3,057,421,881 1,136,779,769 5,074,808,885 5,775,861,795 5,871,500,925

7,595,385 13 14,377,092 17 20,850,726 15 22,667,791 94 26,430,790 61 27,631,458 20 30,180,928 72 28,345,672 87 27,131,116 77 36,492,620 25 47,193,882 67 55,421,039 59 60,558,488 57 58,628,759 82 62,199,990 03 The number of passengers crossing were : 1870, 26,758

Costing originally a trifle less than $100,000,000, at its present market price it would bring $260,000,000, which is about $20,000,000 more than the original estimate of the total cost of the Panama Canal.

The directors of the Suez Canal already realize its inadequacy for the business that offers, and have taken measures to enlarge it to double its present capacity. The impulse that work has given to commerce is already felt at every important maritime centre. Italy is constructing a harbor at Assab for the accommodation of a new Jine of postal steamers on the Red Sea. France is establishing herself at Obock, Sagallo and Tadjourah ; has sigued a commercial treaty with Burmah, and has organized a new monthly steam line to Tonquin. Germany is establishing two new lines of monthly steamers, one to China and Japan and one to Australia.

A company has just been formed at Ilamburg to trade with Borneo, New-Guinea and other islands of the Pacific ; Austria has chartered an Austrio-Asiatic Company to trade with the far East, and Portugal, the “ Timor and Macao Company,” to trade with those possessions ; Spain has reduced by half her tariff on imports and exports in favor of her Philippine possessions ; Holland is building railroads in Java ; Australia, also, lias 1,500 miles of railway under contract, and England is constantly and rapidly expanding her railway system in India. Who shall say that any considerable portion, if one of these investments would have been made, if it were still necessary for European shipping to double the Cape of Good Hope to reach the Indian Ocean ?

I cite these facts and figures chiefly to illustrate the law of growth of a canal property which certainly does not appear to open to the commercial world as extensive or as important a field for the employment of capital as will be opened by a ship canal through the Andes, that would shorten, by more than 6,000 miles, the voyage from New-York to Yokohama, and by more than 8,000 miles the voyage from New-York to San Francisco and all our Pacific territory; and which, let me add, will secure to the United States, forever, the incontestible advantage of position in the impending contest of the nations for the supremacy

No nation would feel so promptly as the United States the influence of a canal that would shorten, by some 8,000 miles, the voyage between her Atlantic and Pacific seaports. It would give an incalculable impulse to her privileged coastwise traffic ; it would tend to develop among her young men å taste for the seafaring life, and to train a reserve of able

scamen, fitted for those emergencies to which a nation like ours, with seven

of the seas.

paying francs,... 1880,

101,551 1884,.


263,552 1,075,517 1,519,160

or eight thousand miles of seacoast, is always more or less exposed.

Long, and, I fear, tedious as my story is already, I am conscious that I have answered none of the questions about which the members of the Chamber of Commerce are most curious. I have not ventured an opinion as to the time when the canal will be completed, nor as to its total cost, nor as to the revenue it can earn, nor even as to the probabilities of the required means being provided for its prosecution.

To determine when the canal will be finished, one must know, first, how much work is yet to be done ; and, second, how much money the Company will be able and disposed to spend annually upon it; and, ihird, how many laborers or their equivalent in machines it can command. That information has not yet been revealed to man. No one living can even now give anything more than a guess as to the amount of work to be done. No one knows whother the Company will decide to build a dam or carry off the waters of the Chagres some other way. No one knows what slope it will be necessary to give the cut at Culebra, nor what obstructions the workmen may have to encounter from subterranean water courses as they descend. Nor does any one know how much submarine rock may be encountered in the channel of the canal, at or near the extremities, nor how much or little pumping, cofferdamming and blasting may be necessary to remove it. Of course, without knowing approximately, at least, how much work is to be done, it is not possible to give anything better than a guess about the cost of doing it; but, even if we did know the amount of work ; in determining the time and cost of doing it, it would not help us much, in that climate and so far from every base of supplies. Till we know how many men and how many machines of ascertained capacity can be counted upon, we bave no data for an estimate that would conduct to any satisfactory conclusion. All these uncertain elements are rendered more uncertain by the financial situation of the Company. It is about entering the market for a new loan of 600,000,000 francs. The price it will have to pay for this money is uncertain, and the price of a future loan, if one should become necessary, is still more uncertain. Till the money is secured, and the cost of getting it ascertained, it would be about as safe to predict the quarter in which the winds will be setting next Christmas day at St. Petersburgh, as the time when the canal will be finished or wliat it will cost. And, for aught I see, this uncertainty must last until near the completion of the work, for nowhere in the world is the unexpected more certain to happen than on such a work at Panama. It is destined to be, from first to last, experimental, and every day the plans of the day before are liable to unsuspected modifications. That the canal will now be prosecuted to its completion, without any very serious interruption, is fairly to be presumed, for too large a proportion of its cost has already been incurred to make a retreat as good policy as an advance. Even if abandoned by the Company, the contractors

themselves would probably find it for their interest to combine and finish it.

Now that the Committee of the Legislative Chambers of France has reported in favor of allowing the Company to borrow in the open market $120,000,000 more, the presumption is that it will get the money. When its stock was first put upon the market, proffers of subscriptions were largely in excess of the requirements. Mr. DE LESSEPS has the confidence of the French people to il greater extent than any other citizen of that republic, for he is justly credited by them with the authorship of the one achievement of this half century in which they feel the greatest amount of unqualified pride. The firmness with which the price of its securities is sustained shows that this faith is unimpaired. The stock of the Panama Canal Company is not in the hands of bankers or brokers or stockjobbers to any such extent as to bring the causes of this firmness under suspicion. It is mostly held by what Mr. DE LESSEPS calls the petites bourses, or small capitalists; by the people of small means, who prefer to confide their little economies to Mr. DE LESSEPS than to the bankers, partly because they know he does not job in the securities of the Company, partly because they were rewarded so handsomely for trusting to his representations about the Suez Canal, and partly because the construction of the Panama Canal under his auspices would rank among the half dozen largest contributions ever made to the permanent glory of France. It is a remarkable fact, that of the 104,345 shares of stock issued up to this year, 99,982, or all but 4,363 shares, were held in blocks of less than 21 shares, 80,839 shares, or nearly four-fifths, were held in blocks of from one to five shares, representing an investment of from $100 to $500.*

* Classification of the Stockholders of the Panama Canal. From 1 to

5 shares, 6

20 21

50 51

100 101

200 201

300 301

400 401

500 501

600 601

700 701


901 1,000
1,000 and upwards,.

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7 12 2 3


In the following extract from a speech which Mr. DE LESSEPS delivered before the Topographical Society of France some months ago, we may find at least a partial explanation of his wonderful liold upon the affections and confidence of the French people, to whom he has never appealed in vain :

“ There is one thing in the attacks of which I have been the object which I have felt. I do not, of course, speak of the assaults of vagabonds; to them I pay no lieed, for the world is better than it is commonly supposed to be; there are inore honest people than scamps. [Applause.] Yes, there is one line of attack

It was the same with the Suez Canal. Half of the shares of that Company--223,800—were taken by 22,229 persons, or in blocks averaging less than ten shares for each stockholder.

There is no evidence that the petites bourses in France have lost their faith in Mr. DE LEsseps, nor am I aware of any reason for supposing that the inducements for the original subscription have lost any portion of their weight or value in the eyes of the class which paid for the Suez Canal, and have contributed more than $100,000,000 towards the Canal at Panama.

It was never my good fortune, as you were aware, Mr. President, when you designated me to be the representative of your Chamber at Panama, to have been trained either as an engineer or as a financier. Had I been, I could no doubt have fulfilled my mission less inadequately, but I feel that it would ill become me in this communication to apologize for any disadvantages under which I labor in common with Mr. DE LESSEPS.

I am, with great respect,

Your very obedient servant,

(Signed) John BIGELOW.

Mr. Smith reported the following resolutions, and recommended their adoption :

Resolvedl, That the report of the Hon. Join BIGELOW, on the result of the recent inspection of the Panama Canal, be accepted and adopted as the sense of the Chamber, and that the same be printed for distribution.

to which I am sensitive, because, though aimed perfidiously, it has an appearance of justice. It is when I am charged with taking 600,000,000 of money out of France to build the Suez Canal and enrich a foreign country. True, the Suez Canal is not in France. But do you know what the Suez Canal has already yielded to France ?–1,250,000,000 francs. I give you the exact sum on official authority. In this faith it has happened, that at the birth of each of my children I have purchased for them shares of the Suez or Panama Ca. nals. My wife's dot of 100,000 francs, which I put into Suez stock the day of my marriage, represents to-day 2,000,000 francs.

So it is 250,000,000, with ihe interest on the capital invested, and with the price of the machinery we have purchased in France, which the Suez Canal has sent home to us ; and when I am accused of sending money from France to Egypt, I reply that this money is sent back tenfold, and more is coming; and that the same will be the case with the Panama Canal. What we shall spend in Panama will bring back to our country two or three millions.

"All that I possess I have gained through these works. I abandoned diplo. macy in debt to my bankers some 30,000 francs. I had been ambassador to Spain and to Rome, where I spent all I received. It has been by the proceeds of my Canal work that I have at last been able to purchase a house for my family—a property which no one begrudges me, for it is the fruit of my own industry. [Applause.) I have been encamped all my life; it is but just that by this time I have a home. [Applause.)

" I repeat, that I feel the reproach which has been made that I do not work for my country. I do work for it ; for the principal fruit of my labor returns to it, without reckoning the glory.”

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