Internal Improvement.

House of Representatives, February 11, 1796.

Mr. MADISON moved that the resolution laid on the table some days ago be taken up, relative to the survey of the post-roads between the province of Maine and Georgia; which being read, he observed that two good effects would arise from carrying this resolution into effect: the shortest route from one place to another would be determined upon, and persons having a stability of the roads would not hesitate to make improvements upon them.

Mr. BALDWIN was glad to see this business brought forward; the sooner it could be carried into effect the better. In many parts of the country, he said, there were no improved roads, nothing better than the original Indian track. Bridges and other improvements are always made with reluctance whilst roads remain in this state; because it is known, as the country increases in population and wealth, better and shorter roads will be made. All expense of this sort, indeed, is lost. It was properly the business of the general government, he said, to undertake the improvement of the roads; for the different states are incompetent to the business, their different designs clashing with each other. It is enough for them to make good roads to the different seaports; the cross-roads should be left to the government of the whole. The expense, he thought, would not be very great: Let a surveyor point out the shortest and best track, and the money will soon be raised. There was nothing in this country, he said, of which we ought to be more ashamed than our public roads.

Mr. BOURNE thought very valuable effects would arise from the carrying of this resolution into effect. The present may be much shortened, he observed. The Eastern States, he said, had made great improvement in their roads; and he trusted the best effects would arise from having regular mails from one end of the Union to the other.

Mr. WILLIAMS did not think it right for the revenues of the post-office to be applied to this end. He acknowledged the propriety of extending {435} the post-roads to every part of the Union. He thought the house had better wait for the report of the committee, to which business relative to the post-office had been referred, which was preparing to be laid before the house.

Mr. MADISON explained the nature and object of the resolution. He said it was the commencement of an important work. He wished not to extend it at present. The expenses of the survey would be great. The post-office, he believed, would have no objection to the intended regulation.

After some observations from Mr. THACHER, on the obtaining of the shortest distance from one place to another, and the comparing old with new roads, so as to come at the shortest and best, the resolution was agreed to, and referred to a committee of five, to prepare and bring in a bill.