James River Improvement

June 16, 1870


The Sub-Committee on the James River Improvement has requested funds to improve the James River, but the head committee has denied the request since a formal survey of the needed improvements and associated costs was not submitted with the request.


Mr. Ordway from the Sub-Committee on the James River Improvement, submitted a report of the operations of that committee. The report showed that a sub-com-mittee, consisting of Colonel II. C.Cabell, the late W. C. Dunham, and Colonel Ordway, proceeded to "Washington to learn the temper of Congress in the matter, and the best method of bringing the matter, before Congress. They revisited the city of "Washington several times, and presented the subject to the House Committee on Commerce. They found on all sides considerable knowledge of the importance of improving and making availaide the great link in the line of commerce between the West and the Atlantic ocean, and a warm sympathy with their effort to do so. Though fully appreciating their object, the Committee on Commerce could not, under the rules, include an appropriation for the improvement of James river in the harbor and river bill without first having a survey of the improvements desired, together with an estimate of their cost by the Bureau of Topographical Engineers submitted officially to the Secretary of War. Some of the members of the committee went so far as to say that they would recommend an appropriation at this session if such a report had been made, and furthermore assured the committee that if proper application had been made at any time within the past four years, such a survey could have been procured. The result of the committee's efforts was that on the 3d ultimo Mr. Ordway received information from the Hon. Philetus Sawyer informing him that James river was in the harbor bill for a survey, with a sufficient appropriation to carry it out. The report dwells at some length upon the advantages to be derived to the city, and in conclusion conveyed the hope that all parties and all interests would combine in one great effort to throw off the apathy under which we were sinking, and grapple with this great question with a determination that would make all difficulties vanish. The report was referred to the Committee on James River Improvements, and ordered to be published.
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Bryce Smith




“James River Improvement,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed October 27, 2020, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1718.