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Cumberland Road

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CUMBERLAND ROAD, The, or GREAT NATIONAL PIKE, originally, a road planned from the Maryland frontier at Cumberland, Md., to connect with the State roads and run to Saint Louis (then just fallen into United States hands by the Louisiana Purchase) ; to open up the West to immigrants, and provide for mili tary and postal transportation. It was to be built at national expense from the sales of pub lic lands, as a fair counterpoise to the seaboard States' ability to pay their expenses by levying customs duties; and pushed forward by sections as settlemeat advanced. Henry Clay was its most conspicuous projector and advocate, and a monument to commemorate his services to it has been erected on its course near Wheeling, W. Va. The bill for the first section passed Congress, 29 March 1806; it authorized the President (Jefferson) to appoint three com missioners to lay out the road from Cumber land to the Ohio River (Wheeling), and ap propriated $30,000 for expenses. At the same time another was passed to lay out one through Georgia, on the New Orleans route; and others followed in swift succession for two decades. This policy of roads, soon supplemented by canals, became the great battle-ground for the strict-construction party, who fought the whole policy of internal improvements as unconsti tutional; and the Cumberland Road with its constant call for improvements and repairs aroused ever fresh resistance. Finally in 1822, Monroe, although he had signed two annual bills of the kind, vetoed a third; and for time the improvements and new roads came to a standstill. With John Quincy Adams, who

was in thorough sympathy with Clay's policy, as with every other tq increase the national wealth and power, the system started up afresh; and the Cumberland Road was pushed forward through Ohio and Indiana. On the accession of Jackson, a strict-constructionist, the vetoes began and the roads stopped; with Van Buren the latter commenced again, and by 1840 the road had advanced to Vandalia, Ill. By this time the railroads had become so decisively the coming transportation system that no more was built; the last act in its favor was passed 25 May 1838. It was admirably constructed, mac adamized, with stone bridges and iron mile posts and toll-gates; and the total amount ex pended on it by the United States was $6,821, N6. The name °Cumberland Road" in current use was extended to take in the section from Cumberland through Frederick to Baltimore, built largely by Maryland banks, which were rechartered in 1816 on condition of com pleting it It was a most profitable specu lation, the tolls yielding them sometimes as high as 20 per cent, though finally sinking to 2 or 3 per cent. The portion built by the national government was acquired in 1878 by the coun ties of Alleghany and Garrett, which made it a free road. The whole road from Baltimore to Vandalia is about 800 miles long. Consult Hul bert,