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State Capacity and Bureaucratic Autonomy in the Early United States: The Case of the Army Corps of Topographical Engineers*

  • William D. Adler (a1)
Abstract

This article reconsiders early American state capacity through a close examination of the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers. The topographical corps, a bureau in the antebellum War Department, developed a form of conditional bureaucratic autonomy far earlier than recognized in previous scholarship, giving it a central role in shaping national economic development policies, especially in the nation's periphery. Unlike robust bureaucratic autonomy, such as that described by Daniel Carpenter (2001, 2010; see footnote 4), conditional autonomy is highly contingent and can quickly fracture if the surrounding environment changes. The long-serving chief of the corps, Col. John J. Abert, shaped the opinions of his supposed principals by managing the ideas, information, and proposals directed to them. When faced with challenges, the corps proved to be a flexible organization that adapted its methods to accomplish its preferred ultimate goals using different instruments. In the end, however, the corps' autonomy was threatened when it became involved in the sectional politics surrounding the potential building of a transcontinental railroad line. Once the corps lost several of the conditions supporting its autonomy, its downfall was swift. This article thus joins a recent wave of scholarship highlighting strengths within the early American state by foregrounding the role of the armed forces in statebuilding.

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williamadler@gmail.com
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*

For their advice on this and previous versions, I would like to thank Daniel Carpenter, Ruth Anne French-Hodson, Jonathan Keller, Andrew Polsky, Daniel Skinner, and the anonymous reviewers.

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References
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1. Skowronek, Stephen, Building a New American State: The Expansion of National Administrative Capacities, 1877–1920 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 24.

2. Adler, William D. and Polsky, Andrew J., “Building the New American Nation: Economic Development, Public Goods, and the Early U.S. Army,” Political Science Quarterly 125 (2010): 87110.

3. Warshaw, Shirley Anne, “The Formation and Use of the Cabinet,” in The Presidency Then and Now, ed. Henderson, Phillip G. (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000), 115–37.

4. Carpenter, Daniel P., The Forging of Bureaucratic Autonomy: Reputations, Networks, and Policy Innovation in Executive Agencies, 1862–1928 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001); Carpenter, Daniel P., Reputation and Power: Organizational Image and Pharmaceutical Regulation at the FDA (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010).

5. Balogh, Brian, A Government Out of Sight: The Mystery of National Authority in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009); Novak, William J., “The Myth of the ‘Weak’ American State,” American Historical Review 113 (2008): 752–72; Rockwell, Stephen J., Indian Affairs and the Administrative State in the Nineteenth Century (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010). See also Adler and Polsky, “Building the New American Nation”; Jensen, Laura, Patriots, Settlers, and the Origins of American Social Policy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003); John, Richard R., Spreading the News: The American Postal System from Franklin to Morse (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995); John, Richard R., “Governmental Institutions as Agents of Change: Rethinking American Political Development in the Early Republic, 1787–1835,” Studies in American Political Development 11 (1997): 347–80; King, Desmond and Lieberman, Robert C., “Ironies of State Building: A Comparative Perspective on the American State,” World Politics 61(2009): 547–88; Landis, Michelle L., “Let Me Next Time Be ‘Tried by Fire’: Disaster Relief and the Origins of the American Welfare State, 1789–1874,” Northwestern University Law Review 92 (1998): 9671034; Rao, Gautham, “Sailors' Health and National Wealth: Marine Hospitals in the Early Republic,” Common-Place 9 (2008); Wilson, Mark R., “The Politics of Procurement: Military Origins of Bureaucratic Autonomy,” Journal of Policy History 18 (2006): 4473; Wilson, Mark R., The Business of Civil War: Military Mobilization and the State, 1861–1865 (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006).

6. McCubbins, Matthew D., Noll, Roger G., and Weingast, Barry R., “Administrative Procedures as Instruments of Political Control,” Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization 3 (1987): 243–77; Moe, Terry, “An Assessment of the Positive Theory of ‘Congressional Dominance,’Legislative Studies Quarterly 12 (1987): 475520.

7. See, for example, Ferejohn, John and Shipan, Charles, “Congressional Influence on Bureaucracy,” Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization 6 (1990): 120; Macey, Jonathan R., “Organizational Design and Political Control of Administrative Agencies,” Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization 8 (1992): 93110; Epstein, David and O'Halloran, Sharyn, “Asymmetric Information, Delegation, and the Structure of Policy-Making,” Journal of Theoretical Politics 11 (1999): 3756; Shipan, Charles R., “Congress and the Bureaucracy,” in The Legislative Branch, ed. Quirk, Paul J. and Binder, Sarah A. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 432–58; Weingast, Barry R., “Caught in the Middle: The President, Congress, and the Political-Bureaucratic System,” in The Executive Branch, ed. Aberbach, Joel D. and Peterson, Mark A. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 312–43; Ting, Michael M., “A Strategic Theory of Bureaucratic Redundancy,” American Journal of Political Science 47 (2003): 274–92.

8. For instance, see Hammond, Thomas H. and Knott, Jack H., “Who Controls the Bureaucracy? Presidential Power, Congressional Dominance, Legal Constraints, and Bureaucratic Autonomy in a Model of Multi-Institutional Policy-Making,” Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization 12 (1996): 119–66; Kim, Doo-Rae, “Political Control and Bureaucratic Autonomy Revisited: A Multi-Institutional Analysis of OSHA Enforcement,” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 18 (2008): 3355; Theoharis, Athan, “FBI Wiretapping: A Case Study of Bureaucratic Autonomy,” Political Science Quarterly 107 (1992): 101–22.

9. Whittington, Keith E. and Carpenter, Daniel P., “Executive Power in American Institutional Development,” Perspectives on Politics 1 (2003): 495513.

10. Zegart, Amy B., Flawed by Design: The Evolution of the CIA, JCS, and NSC (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999).

11. Pierson, Paul, Politics in Time: History, Institutions, and Social Analysis (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004); Orren, Karen and Skowronek, Stephen, The Search for American Political Development (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

12. See Lowry, William R., “Can Bureaucracies Change Policy?Journal of Policy History 20 (2008): 287306, for a review of this literature, as well as case studies that attempt to demonstrate the difficulty of bureaucratic-led policymaking.

13. See Ruth Anne French-Hodson, “New Economics of Organization and Nineteenth-Century Bureaucracies: A Study of the Bureau of Indian Affairs,” Unpublished M.Phil. Thesis, Merton College, University of Oxford, 2007, especially the Introduction.

14. Of course, the national security state Zegart analyzes was created in the twentieth century, and is not entirely comparable to the earlier developments discussed here. However, her model is still useful as a point of reference when discussing the War Department's bureaucracy, as we can sift through her claims and pinpoint which ones are relevant to an earlier period.

15. Skowronek, Building a New American State, 20, 23.

16. Bensel, Richard Franklin, Yankee Leviathan: The Origins of Central State Authority in America, 1859–1877 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 85, 91.

17. Carpenter, The Forging of Bureaucratic Autonomy, chapter 2, quote at 50.

18. Wilson, “The Politics of Procurement”; Wilson, The Business of Civil War.

19. Wilson, The Business of Civil War, 40.

20. Rockwell, Indian Affairs and the Administrative State in the Nineteenth Century, especially 31–34 and 306–318.

21. On Jesup, see Risch, Erna, Quartermaster Support of the Army, 1775–1939 (Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1989); on Abert, see Schubert, Frank N., The Nation Builders: A Sesquicentennial History of the Corps of Topographical Engineers, 1838–1863 (Fort Belvoir, VA: Office of History, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1988).

22. Carpenter, The Forging of Bureaucratic Autonomy, 19–20.

23. Huntington, Samuel P., The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957). On professionalization in the antebellum period, see Skelton, William B., An American Profession of Arms: The Army Officer Corps, 1784–1861 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1992); Samuel J. Watson, “Professionalism, Social Attitudes, and Civil-Military Accountability in the United States Army Officer Corps, 1815–1846,” unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Rice University, 1996; Watson, Samuel J., “How the Army Became Accepted: West Point Socialization, Military Accountability, and the Nation-State During the Jacksonian Era,” American Nineteenth Century History 7 (June 2006): 219–51.

24. Wirls, Daniel and Wirls, Stephen, The Invention of the United States Senate (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004); Young, James Sterling, The Washington Community, 1800–1828 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1966). See, however, Bogue, Allan G. and Marlaire, Mark Paul, “Of Mess and Men: The Boardinghouse and Congressional Voting, 1821–1842,” American Journal of Political Science 19 (1975): 207–30, who criticize Young's theory of early American political culture.

25. On presidential resources in the premodern era, see Burke, John P., “The Institutional Presidency,” in The Presidency and the Political System, ed. Nelson, Michael (8th ed.) (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2006), 383409.

26. On the annual message as a tool of public communication, see Korzi, Michael J., A Seat of Popular Leadership: The Presidency, Political Parties, and Democratic Government (Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2004).

27. Annual Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress, December 7, 1830, 21st Congress, 2nd Session, S. Doc. 1; Annual Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress, December 2, 1834, 23rd Congress, 2nd Session, S. Doc. 1.

28. Polsby, Nelson W., “The Institutionalization of the U.S. House of Representatives,” American Political Science Review 62 (1968): 144–68.

29. Shallat, Todd, Structures in the Stream: Water, Science, and the Rise of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994), 154. On the importance of implementation for the success of policy, see Pressman, Jeffrey L. and Wildavsky, Aaron B., Implementation: How Great Expectations in Washington are Dashed in Oakland (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974).

30. Koistinen, Paul A. C., Beating Plowshares Into Swords: The Political Economy of American Warfare, 1606–1865 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas), 5657.

31. On congressional deference to executive actors (albeit in a very different context), see Becker, Lawrence A., Doing the Right Thing: Collective Action and Procedural Choice in the New Legislative Process (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2005).

32. On distributive politics, see the classic essay by Lowi, Theodore J., “American Business, Public Policy, Case-Studies, and Political Theory,” World Politics 16 (1964): 677715. This raises an important question: if members of Congress received no distributional benefits from army activities on the periphery, why did they continue to fund them? One possible explanation is that much of what the army did was not funded directly by Congress. The General Survey Act, for instance, did not require any additional appropriations, with engineers simply sent by the War Department's Board of Engineers for Internal Improvements while their salaries continued to be paid as usual by normal appropriations. Other activities in the periphery, such as the initial building of the Natchez Trace, occurred without prior authorization, and the labor was performed by soldiers in the course of their regular duties. Finally, to the extent such projects were funded, some members of Congress had an ideological stake in promoting expansionist policies (although most projects did not require this funding to proceed). Members representing Western states obviously had a stake in promoting improvements there.

33. Minicucci, Stephen, “Internal Improvements and the Union, 1790–1860,” Studies in American Political Development 18 (2004): 160–85.

34. Warshaw, “The Formation and Use of the Cabinet.”

35. For a recent prominent work viewing civil-military relations in this manner, see Feaver, Peter D., Armed Servants: Agency, Oversight, and Civil-Military Relations (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003). The classic statement on the subject is Huntington, The Soldier and the State.

36. Carpenter, Daniel and Sin, Gisela, “Policy Tragedy and the Emergence of Regulation: The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938,” Studies in American Political Development 21 (2007): 149–80.

37. Carpenter and Sin, “Policy Tragedy,” 179.

38. On political entrepreneurship, see Sheingate, Adam D., “Political Entrepreneurship, Institutional Change, and American Political Development,” Studies in American Political Development 17 (2003): 185203; Schnellenbach, Jan, “Public Entrepreneurship and the Economics of Reform,” Journal of Institutional Economics 3 (2007): 183202.

39. Smith, Merritt Roe, Harper's Ferry Armory and the New Technology: The Challenge of Change (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1977), 2830; Ward, Harry M., The Department of War, 1781–1795 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1962), 83138.

40. Dearborn to Lt. Col. Toussard, April 14, 1801; Dearborn to Toussard, June 1, 1801; and Dearborn to Major Cushing, June 1, 1801, National Archives, Records of the Office of the Secretary of War (RG 107), Letters Sent by the Secretary of War Relating to Military Affairs, 1800–1889.

41. Dearborn to Decius Wadsworth, April 7, 1802, in National Archives, Records of the Office of the Secretary of War (RG 107), Letters Sent by the Secretary of War Relating to Military Affairs, 1800–1889; Dearborn to Eli Whitney, June 16, 1801, in National Archives, Records of the Office of the Secretary of War (RG 107), Miscellaneous Letters Sent by the Secretary of War, 1800–1809.

42. Angevine, Robert G., The Railroad and the State: War, Politics, and Technology in Nineteenth-Century America (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004), 911.

43. Larson, John Lauritz, Internal Improvement: National Public Works and the Promise of Popular Government in the Early United States (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 110, 127–28, 137, 141.

44. American State Papers, Military Affairs Volume 2, House of Representatives, 15th Congress, 2nd Session, 533–37; Angevine, The Railroad and the State, 16–18; Larson, Internal Improvement, 141–47.

45. Angevine, The Railroad and the State, 18–21, 48.

46. Angevine, The Railroad and the State, 22–24; Shallat, Structures in the Stream, 80.

47. Henry Dearborn to Brigadier General James Wilkinson, May 12, 1801; and Dearborn to the Commanding Officer of West Point, April 15, 1801, in National Archives, Records of the Office of the Secretary of War (RG 107), Letters Sent by the Secretary of War Relating to Military Affairs, 1800–1889; Crackel, Theodore J., Mr. Jefferson's Army: Political and Social Reform of the Military Establishment, 1801–1809 (New York: New York University Press, 1987), 5865.

48. Angevine, The Railroad and the State, 24–25; Shallat, Structures in the Stream, 81.

49. Shallat, Structures in the Stream, 100. For one example of these travels, see Report of Captain G. W. Hughes of the Topographical Engineers relative to the working of copper ore, April 10, 1844, in Annual Report of the Secretary of War, 28th Congress, 1st Session, S. Doc. 291.

50. For an example of this sentiment, see William Crawford to Brigadier General Joseph Swift, June 11, 1816, in National Archives, Records of the Office of the Secretary of War (RG 107), Letters Sent by the Secretary of War Relating to Military Affairs, 1800–1889.

51. Shallat, Structures in the Stream.

52. For a somewhat different perspective on how international pressures shaped American state power, see Zolberg, Aristide R., “International Engagement and American Democracy: A Comparative Perspective,” in Shaped by War and Trade: International Influences on American Political Development, ed. Katznelson, Ira and Shefter, Martin (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002), 2454.

53. Schubert, The Nation Builders, 8.

54. Shallat, Structures in the Stream.

55. Report of the Secretary of War, November 21, 1831, 22nd Congress, 1st Session, H. Doc. 2; Goetzmann, William H., Army Exploration in the American West, 1803–1863 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1959), chapter 1; Schubert, The Nation Builders, chapter 2; Shallat, Structures in the Stream, chapter 2.

56. On partisan conflict over improvements, see Larson, Internal Improvement.

57. Shallat, Structures in the Stream, 118.

58. Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West; Schubert, The Nation Builders, 44–46; White, Richard, “It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own”: A History of the American West (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991), chapter 5.

59. The fact that states spent more than the national government is emphasized by Goodrich, Carter, Government Promotion of America Canals and Railroads, 1800–1890 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960). See also Larson, Internal Improvement. For work challenging the standard view of federal weakness in the antebellum period, see Malone, Laurence J., Opening the West: Federal Internal Improvements Before 1860 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998).

60. William Crawford to Major James Kearney, May 31, 1816, in National Archives, Records of the Office of the Secretary of War (RG 107), Letters Sent by the Secretary of War Relating to Military Affairs, 1800–1889.

61. Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West, 8–9. For more on the General Survey Act, see Angevine, The Railroad and the State, 16–17; Klyza, Christopher McGrory, “The United States Army, Natural Resources, and Political Development in the Nineteenth Century,” Polity 35 (2002): 128.

62. Hill, Forest G., Roads, Rails, and Waterways: The Army Engineers and Early Transportation (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1957), 6181.

63. Malone, Opening the West, chapter 3.

64. Angevine, The Railroad and the State, 18–21, 48; Hill, Roads, Rails, and Waterways, 96–105.

65. Angevine, The Railroad and the State, 35–40, 95–101; Dunlavy, Colleen A., Politics and Industrialization: Early Railroads in the United States and Prussia (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), 5661; Hill, Roads, Rails, and Waterways, 114–30; Report of the Secretary of War, J. R. Poinsett, November 28, 1838, 25th Congress, 3rd Session, H. Doc. 2.

66. Angevine, The Railroad and the State, 114–15.

67. George W. Crawford to Colonel J. J. Abert, July 11, 1849, in Report of the Secretary of War, November 30, 1849, 31st Congress, 1st Session, S. Ex. Doc. 1.

68. Jefferson Davis to Brevet Brigadier General Joseph G. Totten, Chief Engineer, April 5, 1853; Davis to Governor Isaac J. Stevens, Washington Territory, April 8, 1853; and Davis to Lt. R. S. Williamson, May 6, 1853, all in National Archives, Records of the Office of the Secretary of War (RG 107), Letters Sent by the Secretary of War Relating to Military Affairs, 1800–1889; Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West, chapter 7.

69. Angevine, The Railroad and the State, 117.

70. Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West, chapter 8; Goetzmann, Exploration and Empire: The Explorer and Scientist in the Winning of the American West (New York: Norton, 1978 [1966]), chapter 8.

71. Angevine, The Railroad and the State, 115–17; Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West, 295–303.

72. Chaffin, Tom, Pathfinder: John Charles Fremont and the Course of American Empire (New York: Hill and Wang, 2002), 60.

73. In this respect I have been influenced by the argument put forward in Katznelson, Ira and Lapinski, John S., “At the Crossroads: Congress and American Political Development,” Perspectives on Politics 4 (2006): 243–60.

74. Shallat, Structures in the Stream, 43; Schubert, The Nation Builders, 4.

75. Schubert, The Nation Builders, chapter 1; Shallat, Structures in the Stream, 43–62.

76. Garry David Ryan, “War Department Topographical Bureau, 1831–1863: An Administrative History,” Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, The American University, 1968, 20–22.

77. Ryan, “War Department Topographical Bureau,” 47–48.

78. Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Volume 14, January 19, 1821.

79. Ibid; Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, 16th Congress, 2nd Session, January 19, 1821.

80. Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, 16th Congress, 2nd Session, January 20, 1821.

81. Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, 16th Congress, 2nd Session, January 20, 1821, 913.

82. Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, 16th Congress, 2nd Session, January 20, 1821, 924–25.

83. Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, 16th Congress, 2nd Session, January 22, 1821, 933–34, and Appendix, 1798–99.

84. American State Papers, Military Affairs Volume 3, Senate, 18th Congress, 2nd Session, January 24, 1825.

85. Register of Debates, 18th Congress, 2nd Session, February 11, 1825, 556.

86. Register of Debates, 18th Congress, 2nd Session, February 11, 1825 (quote on p. 554).

87. Register of Debates, 18th Congress, 2nd Session, February 11, 1825.

88. On Jackson's support for improvements, especially for western states and territories, see Malone, Opening the West.

89. American State Papers, Military Affairs Volume 3, 19th Congress, 1st Session, December 1, 1825.

90. American State Papers, Military Affairs Volume 3, 19th Congress, 2nd Session, November 18, 1826.

91. American State Papers, Military Affairs Volume 3, House of Representatives, 19th Congress, 1st Session, January 16, 1826, 185.

92. American State Papers, Military Affairs Volume 3, House of Representatives, 19th Congress, 1st Session, January 10, 1826.

93. Latner, Richard B., “The Nullification Crisis and Republican Subversion,” The Journal of Southern History 43 (1977): 1938.

94. H.R. 51, 19th Congress, 1st Session, January 16, 1826.

95. Shallat, Structures in the Stream, 152–53, for instance, only discusses Abert's actions from 1831 through 1838. Schubert, The Nation Builders, chapter 2, starts his examination of their campaign for independence beginning in 1829.

96. American State Papers, Military Affairs Volume 3, House of Representatives, 19th Congress, 2nd Session, January 2, 1827.

97. Ibid.

98. American State Papers, Military Affairs Volume 3, House of Representatives, 19th Congress, 2nd Session, January 2, 1827.

99. H.R. 345, 19th Congress, 2nd Session, January 5, 1827.

100. Niles' Weekly Register, November 5, 1825, 157.

101. Niles' Weekly Register, October 22, 1825, 121. Emphasis in the original.

102. The Literary Casket, November 11, 1826, 155; North American, Or, Weekly Journal of Politics, Science, and Literature, November 10, 1827, 202.

103. Schubert, The Nation Builders, 17.

104. Quoted in Ryan, “War Department Topographical Bureau,” 75.

105. H.R. 57, 21st Congress, 1st Session, January 4, 1830; H.R. 96, 22nd Congress, 1st Session, December 23, 1831; Register of Debates, House of Representatives, 21st Congress, 1st Session, March 31, 1830; American State Papers, Military Affairs Volume 4, 21st Congress, 2nd Session, January 14, 1831.

106. Annual Report of the Secretary of War, Lewis Cass, November 21, 1831, 22nd Congress, 1st Session, H. Doc. 2; Schubert, The Nation Builders, 19–20.

107. Annual Report of the Secretary of War, Lewis Cass, November 21, 1831, 22nd Congress, 1st Session, H. Doc. 2; Shallat, Structures in the Stream, 139–40.

108. Register of Debates, Senate, 22nd Congress, 1st Session, June 1, 1832. The bill is S. 137, 22nd Congress, 1st Session, March 5, 1832, also noted in Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, Volume 21, March 5, 1832, when it passed to a second reading.

109. Register of Debates, Senate, 22nd Congress, 1st Session, June 1, 1832.

110. Report from the Topographical Bureau, November 7, 1831, 22nd Congress, 1st Session, H. Doc. 2; Report from the Topographical Bureau, October 30, 1834, 23rd Congress, 2nd Session, S. Doc. 1.

111. Register of Debates, Senate, 23rd Congress, 2nd Session, December 16, 1834.

112. H.R. 567, 23rd Congress, 2nd Session, December 16, 1834; Register of Debates, 23rd Congress, 2nd Session, Appendix, December 16, 1834.

113. Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West, 9–11.

114. Ryan, “War Department Topographical Bureau,” 114.

115. Malone, Opening the West, chapter 4.

116. Congressional Globe, 24th Congress, 2nd Session, February 16, 1837; Register of Debates, Senate, 24th Congress, 1st Session, June 10, 1836.

117. S. 52, 24th Congress, 1st Session, January 13, 1836; H.R. 104, 24th Congress, 1st Session, January 12, 1836.

118. American State Papers, Military Affairs Volume 6, House of Representatives, 24th Congress, 1st Session, January 12, 1836.

119. American State Papers, Military Affairs Volume 6, House of Representatives, 24th Congress, 1st Session, June 23, 1836.

120. Congressional Globe, House of Representatives, 25th Congress, 2nd Session, July 2, 1838.

121. Report from the Topographical Bureau, November 2, 1835, 24th Congress, 1st Session, H. Doc. 2; Report from the Topographical Bureau, November 15, 1836, 24th Congress, 2nd Session, H. Doc. 2; Report from the Topographical Bureau, November 7, 1837, 25th Congress, 2nd Session, S. Doc. 1; Annual Report of the Secretary of War, J. R. Poinsett, November 28, 1838, 25th Congress, 3rd Session, H. Doc. 2; Schubert, The Nation Builders, 21–24; Shallat, Structures in the Stream, 152–53.

122. Report from the Topographical Bureau, November 7, 1837, 25th Congress, 2nd Session, S. Doc. 1.

123. Annual Report of the Secretary of War, J.R. Poinsett, November 28, 1838, 25th Congress, 3rd Session, H. Doc. 2.

124. Baltimore Sun, December 20, 1837, 2.

125. Baltimore Sun, July 17, 1838, 4.

126. Army and Navy Chronicle, February 27, 1840, 136. On the role of service journals in the continuing professionalization of the antebellum military, see Skelton, An American Profession of Arms, 204–5.

127. Shallat, Structures in the Stream, 170–72; Annual Message of the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress, December 5, 1848, 30th Congress, 2nd Session, H. Exec. Doc. 1.

128. Chaffin, Pathfinder, 95–97, 242–43; Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West, 65–108; Volpe, Vernon L., “The Origins of the Fremont Expeditions: John J. Abert and the Scientific Exploration of the Trans-Mississippi West,” The Historian 62 (2000): 245–63.

129. Shallat, Structures in the Stream, 84.

130. Schubert, The Nation Builders, 27.

131. Shallat, Structures in the Stream, 106; Ryan, “War Department Topographical Bureau,” 143–44, 155–59; Schubert, The Nation Builders, 28–29.

132. Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, Volume 44, February 18, 1853; Congressional Globe, 32nd Congress, 2nd Session, February 18, 1853, and February 19, 1853; Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West, 262–65.

133. Hill, Roads, Rails, and Waterways, 135–38.

134. Baltimore Sun, October 19, 1849, 1; New York Daily Times, May 27, 1853, 3; New York Daily Times, June 13, 1853, 3; New York Daily Times, July 19, 1853, 8; New York Daily Times, April 11, 1854, 1; American Railway Times, July 7, 1853, 2; American Railway Times, June 1, 1854, 2; American Railway Times, March 5, 1857, 1.

135. Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West, 209–10.

136. Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West, chapter 7; Angevine, The Railroad and the State, 114–19.

137. Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West, 341–42; Annual Report of the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, December 4, 1854, 33rd Congress, 2nd Session, S. Ex. Doc. 1.

138. Shallat, Structures in the Stream, 178; Ryan, “War Department Topographical Bureau,” 185–92.

139. Schubert, The Nation Builders, 74–79; Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West, 429–33. Goetzmann argues that the Civil War caused the destruction of the topographical corps, but his own evidence clearly indicates the loss of cross-partisan and cross-sectional support for the corps prior to the war's outbreak.

140. Risch, Quartermaster Support of the Army, chapters 6–8; Wilson, The Business of Civil War.

141. Wilson, “The Politics of Procurement.”

142. Wilson, The Business of Civil War, 57–58, 74–78.

143. Baker, Pamela L., “The Washington National Road Bill and the Struggle to Adopt a Federal System of Internal Improvement,” Journal of the Early Republic 22 (2000): 437–64; Mulcare, Daniel M., “Restricted Authority: Slavery Politics, Internal Improvements, and the Limitation of National Administrative Capacity,” Political Research Quarterly 61 (2008): 671–85.

144. Skowronek, Building a New American State.

145. Bensel, Yankee Leviathan.

146. Adler and Polsky, “Building the New American Nation,” 107–10.

147. Congressional Globe, Senate, 24th Congress, 1st Session, June 2, 1836. Emphasis in the original.

148. Baldwin, Peter, “Beyond Weak and Strong: Rethinking the State in Comparative Policy History,” Journal of Policy History 17 (2005): 1233.

* For their advice on this and previous versions, I would like to thank Daniel Carpenter, Ruth Anne French-Hodson, Jonathan Keller, Andrew Polsky, Daniel Skinner, and the anonymous reviewers.

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