Unquestionably the ‘Father’ of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, in 1907 Congressman J. Hampton Moore sponsored a bill to direct the Corps of Engineers to survey the Delaware River in his district for much needed deepening.
Bills dealing with such questions were referred to as Rivers and Harbors bills and were passed, generally, every few years instead of every year. These bills dealt with the rivers and harbors in a piece-meal fashion pitting one state or congressional district against another. Moore’s bill went down in flames, competing with bills from other states and districts with stronger congressional representation. In his first term in Congress, Moore could not understand why his bill, which sought only a survey for deepening, went down in defeat.
Moore devised a plan to stop governmental bureaucracy from pitting one state against another when a continuous inland waterway from Maine to Florida was needed. Moore called a meeting in Philadelphia in 1907 to form the Atlantic Deeper Waterways Association. Every Governor, Senator, House member, and interested Mayor from Maine to Florida was invited. It would be an ‘all for one’, and ‘one for all’ proposition calling upon Congress to appropriate $50 million a year for ten years.
Attendees would elect Moore president of the the ADWA for forty straight years until the job was done. A continuous protected inland waterway under federal control from Florida to Norfolk, Va., would not be completed until 1935, along with the Cape Cod Canal and other Atlantic coast inland waterways although not necessarily continuously protected by sufficiently large barrier islands, as in Florida.
Moore’s job had been accomplished. The ‘all for one’ plan worked. For much of the distance the inland waterway was at least 125 feet wide and at least 10 feet deep. Joined in the work was John Humphrey Small, a Member of Congress and for a time Chairman of the Rivers and Harbors Committee. More important, while Moore was a Philadelphia Republican, Small was a North Carolina Democrat. For years, the two formed an unbeatable combination in Congress on the question of an Intracoastal Waterway.