General Quincy Adams Gillmore — Florida chief of the Corps of Engineers

image

Unlike the Federalists who believed that the Constitution authorized a full-time standing army, the nation’s third president Thomas Jefferson signed into law the Military Peace Establishment Act (1802). The Act founded the U. S. Military Academy at West Point to train engineers skilled in surveying and planning military roads, inland waterways and constructing bridges, harbors, and lighthouses. But with one crucial caveat.  The Constitution, Jefferson argued, prohibited the spending of federal tax money for internal improvements like bridges,, roads, and harbors.  For decades the fight between Anti-Federalists like Jefferson and Federalists like Alexander Hamilton who took a broad view of the Constitution held up the construction of necessary internal improvements dependent on federal tax money.  

One particular fight was especially interesting.  While Congress finally decided that the construction of lighthouses was in the nation’s best interest, Congress would agree to fund the construction of a lighthouse in one of the thirteen original states only if that state agreed to provide the land, free and clear, to the federal  government. 

General Quincy Adams Gillmore graduated first in his class at West Point. Among his early assignments in tthe 1870s was the study of the Mississippi River and its annual flooding.  Gillmore later became chief of the Florida engineers, superintending several inland waterways that would eventually become part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. But the long-held view that internal improvements should be left to the States continued to hold up the federal funding of roads and inland waterways.  Courtesy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.