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Follett, Oran
Autograph Letter Signed as Commissioner and President of the Ohio Board of Public Works, Columbus, March 19, 1846, to fellow commissioner and Chief Engineer, Samuel Forrer, in Dayton

Quarto, 2 pages, plus stamp-less address leaf, formerly folded, in very good, clean and legible condition.

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This letter discusses political troubles of the Ohio Canals:


Follett had received a check from the Board but “was refused payment because of no appropriation. This morning I marched down into the Treasury … with your letter in my hand, handed it to Mr. Hume – he read it and declined paying the chk. Because (again) of no appropriation. Thereupon I began a short sermon and having a small audience (else I would not have made the speech) I thought it was time the State had officers who would attend to her funds and winding up with the Declaration that Acting Commrs. Could not go on under (existing) circumstances without involving the State with additional costs for repairs of from 25 to 50 pr ct … and that it was time the blame and responsibility of such things rested where they belonged… I said that if such was to be the state of things, the Acting Commrs. Ought to and would resign, and I would go with them … I wanted such language to get out of doors…”


Before arrival of the railroads, the Ohio canal system, constructed in the 1820’s and ‘30s, was vital to commerce, making Ohio the third most prosperous state in the Union – though it came to have its political troubles, perhaps due to inter-party squabbling between Democrats and Whigs in the Legislature. The recipient of this letter, Chief Engineer Samuel Forrer, was first employed as a young government surveyor who established the efficacy of linking Lake Erie to the Ohio River. He took a lowly position with the newly established Board of Canal Commissioners when construction began in 1825, but his role became so central to the ensuing work that when the first Canal opened in 1829, the second Canal boat to arrive in Dayton from Cincinnati was named “The Forrer” – superseded only by a boat named in honor of the supportive Governor who was called the “Father of Ohio Canals.”