the commercial growth of St. Louis, yet fostered that of rival cities.
Nothing more clearly demonstrates the geographical superiority of
St Louis, than the action of the government during the war. Notwith-
standing the strenuous competition of other cities, our facilities for distri
bution, and a due regard for its own interests, compelled the govern-
ment to make St. Louis the western base of supplies and transportation.
During the rebellion, the transactions of the government at this point
were very large. General Parsons, chief of transportation in the Mis-
sissippi valley, thinks that fully one-half of all the transportation em-
ployed by the government on the Mississippi and its tributaries, was fur-
nished by St. Louis. The national exigences forced the government to
select the best point of distribution. The choice of the federal author
ities is a conclusive proof of the commercial prosperity of St. Louis.
The conquest of treason has restored to this mart the use of its nat-
ural facilities. Trade is rapidly regaining its old channels. On its
errands of exchange, it visits the islands of the sea, traverses the ocean,
and explores foreign lands. It penetrates every state and territory in
the Mississippi valley from Alabama and New Mexico to Minnesota and
Montana. It navigates every stream that pours its tributary waters into
But St. Louis can never realize its splendid possibilities without
effort. The trade of the vast domain lying east of the Rocky Moun-
tains and south of the Missouri river, is naturally tributary to this mart.
St. Louis, by the exercise of forecast and vigor, can easily control the
commerce of one million square miles. But there is earnest need of
exertion. Chicago is an energetic rival. Its lines of railroad pierce
every portion of the northwest; it draws an immense commerce by its
network of railways.
The meshes which so closely interlace all the adjacent country gather
rich treasures from the tides of commerce. Chicago is vigorously ex-
tending its lines of road across the Missouri river. The competition of
these roads will inevitably divert a portion of the Montana trade from.
St. Louis to Chicago. The energy of an unlineal competitor may usurp
the legitimate honors of the imperial heir. This city cannot afford to
continue the masterly inactivity of the old regime. A traditional and
passive trust in the efficacy of natural advantages, will no longer be a
safe policy. St. Louis must make exertions equal to its strength and
worthy of its opportunities. It must not only form great plans of com-
mercial empire, but must execute them with an energy defiant of failure.
It must complete its projected railways to the mountains, and push on
to rapid completion the work already commenced—the spanning the
Mississippi at St. Louis with a bridge—whose solidity of masonry shall
equal the massiveness of Roman architecture, and whose grandeur shall
be commensurate with the future greatness of the Mississippi valley.