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No. i Spring Lane. 








JUN 14 1907 

A D D E E S S 

(!i;0mmo«wc»U1i 0f PajSiSKcIuiiSi^ttisi. 

Executive Depaetment, Boston, October 10, 1868. 
To the Hono7'able Council: 

For more than a quarter of a century the subject of improv- 
ing the harbor of the city of Boston, and of bringing into some 
actual use the flats therein belonging to the Commonwealth, 
has been before the legislature and has arrested the public 
attention. It is many years since a commission, composed of 
some of our ablest citizens, after a thorough investigation and 
a hearing of all parties interested, came to the conclusion that 
the Commonwealth was the proprietor in fee of a large quantity 
of flats, which it had a right to dispose of as it would dispose 
of any other valuable property. 

From that day down to the present, commissioners have been 
from time to time appointed to take charge of the subject and 
to make suggestions as to the most expedient course for the 
Commonwealth to pursue in protecting at the same time its 
own interests in this property and in improving the harbor of 
Boston. A number of reports have been made, and consider- 
able expense has been incurred ; but nothing has ever been 
effectually done in this important field of action. 

It would not be profitable, nor is it necessary, to go into an 
investigation of the reasons of their delay in a matter of so 
much consequence. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth did pro- 
ceed with vigor in improving the territory known as the Back 
Bay, and although this remarkable enterprise met with the 
most determined opposition and encountered difficulties of the 
gravest character, it steadily progressed after being once under 
way, and the result has been most satisfactory. A territory 
which had become an intolerable nuisance has been filled up 
with clear gravel. Some of the most magnificent avenues in 

the country and in the world have been laid out ; already 
stately buildings — some them of a public character — of the 
value of millions of dollars, have been erected ; and the Com- 
monwealth, after having completed its plans, finds itself with 
over a million of dollars in the treasury and with land now 
ready for sale estimated to be worth a million and a half of 

Perhaps the most remarkable fact connected with this im- 
provement was that in its initiate and early progress, and until 
its success was a certain thing, the Commonwealth steadily 
refused to make any advances from the State treasury, and 
would only pay for the work as it progressed in portions of the 
land itself. It incurred no responsibility and early adopted the 
policy of selling its share of the lands at public auction, so that 
all it has received was without the risk of a dollar on its own 

In relation to the fiats in the South Bay, near South Boston, 
it was not until 1867 that the legislature was willing to delegate 
full powers to take any specific action for their improvement 
and sale. By chapter 93 of the resolves of that year, complete 
authority was given to a joint committee of the legislature, 
subject to the approval of the governor and council, " to release 
for money or such other valuable considerations, and upon such 
terms .and conditions as they shall think fit, the right, title and 
interest of the Commonwealth in and to the whole or any part 
of the land and flats in Boston Harbor, which lie northerly of 
South Boston and easterly of Fort Point Channel," &c. The 
committee also had power, subject to the approval of the gov- 
ernor and council, to contract for the filling of said flats, build 
wharves, docks, streets, etc., and to settle controversies, " pro- 
vided that nothing herein contained shall authorize said com- 
mittee, by any stipulation or contract, to require the payment 
of money from the treasury of the Commonwealth ; " showing 
a clear intention on the part of the Commonwealth to adopt 
the same policy which had been attended with such favorable 
results in improving the Back Bay. The committee appointed 
under this resolve consisted of able men, who appear to have 
devoted a good deal of attention to the subject. They made an 
elaborate report to the last legislature, (Senate document, 1868, 
No. 76,) from which it appeared that they had made no sales 

of the flats and had entered mto no contracts. The reasons of 
this were various ; the principal one appearing to be a doubt in 
their minds as to the wisdom of the policy adopted by the legis- 
lature of not authorizing the expenditure of any money from 
the State treasury. " Upon mature reflection," they say on 
page 37, " we came to the conclusion that we should fail to do 
justice to the Commonwealth if we accepted any bid until the 
legislature had passed upon the question whether it would not 
be better for the State to assume the whole work, and to make 
contracts, payments to be made in cash." Their reasons for 
this opinion are given at length. 

At the last session of the legislature this report, in couMec. 
tion with the whole subject, was again considered during nearly 
the whole session by a joint committee, which reported the 
present law (Act of 1868, chapter 326.) The joint committee 
referred to consisted of eminent gentlemen whose personal 
weight and official sanction may be taken to be part of the 
whole proceeding. The act reported by them and adopted 
unanimously by the legislature, contains a i^eiteration of the 
policy of the previous year as to payments in money. The act 
giving power to the^ legislative committee of 1867 was expressly 
repealed by the act of 1868, which committed substantially the 
same power to the Harbor Commissioners, who were authorized 
to dispose of the flats, contract for improvements, etc., subject 
to the approval of the Governor and Council. And section 
eight provides, expressly, that " nothing herein contained shall 
authorize said commissioners, by any stipulation or contract, to 
require the payment of any money from the treasury of the 
Commonwealth, except as provided in the third section of this 
act. (Which section relates to a sea-wall which was authorized 
to be constructed by act of 1867, chapter 354.) 

The present Harbor Commissioners, acting under this au- 
thority, have proceeded with commendable diligence to enter 
into renewed investigations of a subject already familiar to 
them by several years' experience, and to advertise for propo- 
sals, and to settle and adjust controversies ; and they have come 
before us with certain contracts for which they ask the ap- 
proval of the Governor and Council. The Harbor Commis- 
sioners are the following persons, to wit : Josiah Quincy, Fred- 
erick W. Lincoln, Darwin E. Ware, Samuel E. Sewall and 


William Mixter. Two of these gentlemen have been heretofore 
for many years mayors of Boston, and the other three are of 
most approved fitness, by reason of education, experience and 
study, to investigate and pass judgment upon this class of 

The approval of the contracts reported by them I see no 
ground for withholding. On the contrary, it seems to me that 
the Commonwealth has reason for congratulating itself that the 
difficulties attending this subject are likely thus to be removed ; 
that long-standing controversies may be settled ; and that this 
great improvement for the harbor of Boston may be commenced 
without the expenditure of a dollar from the State treasury, 
except for the sea-wall, which is a seperate matter, and is pro- 
vided for in a separate act. 

The contracts laid before us are : — 

First. An indenture with the Boston Wharf Company, 
which I do not understand in the main to be objected to by any 
one, and which certainly ought to be satisfactory, inasmuch as 
there are long-standing controversies betweeJi. the parties — con- 
troversies which are now in the courts, and which are directly 
in the way of any improvement whatever by the Common- 

Second. A contract with the Rockport Granite Company, to 
which there appears to be no objection, except that a portion of 
the proposed wall is too expensive. But on this point it appears 
that the harbor commissioners, not trusting to their own expe- 
rience or knowledge, called in the aid of engineers of great dis- 
tinction and of most approved capacity and skill, (Major-Gen- 
eral J. G. Foster, of the U. S. Engineers, Messrs. James B. 
Francis, of Lowell, T. Willis Pratt and George R. Baldwm, of 
Charlestown,) who are unanimously of the opinion that a less 
substantial wall would not answer. 

Undoubtedly the legislature, in making an appropriation for 
this wall, intended to build a substantial one, and I do not see 
my way clear to overrule the one decided on under such cir- 

Third. A contract with N. C. Munson for the filling of the 
territory, most of the material for which is to be excavated 
from Boston Harbor. Mr. Munson is a contractor of well 
known character and ability, who has been long in the service 

of the State, and to whose energy, capacity and intregity much 
of the success in the Back Bay operations seems due. I know 
not the man his superior for this kind of responsibihty and 

The objections made to this contract are chiefly two : — 

First. That the payment is to be made in land, and that a 
more favorable one might be made by making "the payments in 

Second. That the terms are too favorable to the contractor. 

As to the first objection, I do not think it is competent for the 
Governor and Council to entertain it. It is not for us to over- 
rule the policy of the legislature, as clearly expressed and 
enacted by the act of 1867, and again by the act of 1868, which 
policy is in condemnation of the idea of carrying on this enter- 
prise by cash payment. The act under which the Harbor Com- 
missioners have made this contract is peremptory on this point ; 
and in providing that the contract should be submitted to the 
Governor and Council, the legislature obviously intended that 
we should act under and in accordance with the law, and that 
we should not attempt either to evade its provisions or to evade 
our duty under them. 

To reject this contract for such reason is to postpone the 
whole subject until another legislature can act on it, and thus 
to lose a whole year in time. But what reason is there for sup- 
posing that the next legislature will change the policy of the 
legislatures of 1867 and 1868 ? In my opinion, they will not 
change it ; for I believe the policy to be a correct one. It is 
possible that the Commonwealth might make more money by 
assuming this work itself, and by making cash payments from 
the treasury. There are certain exceptional cases of public 
improvements in which this course may be desii'able. But in 
general, experience and good sense are against the carrying on 
of improvements for making money by State governments. 
The results very rarely come up to the expectations. Let the 
Hoosac Tunnel be our example. In the present case a great 
many citizens doubt whether the improvement will ever be a 
success. They think it will cost more than it will come to. 
Is it, therefore, a time, in the present state of our finances, to 
enter upon large cash expenditures for what must be regarded 
as an experiment or a mercantile speculation ? Moreover, this 

8 . 

present contract relates to only about one-seventh of the terri- 
tory owned by the State. If it should turn out successfully, 
the Commonwealth will then have ample opportunity to im- 
prove its remaining property in a different manner and with all 
the experience gained at the risk and expense of the contractor 
in completing the first section. 

The second objection to the contract is that it is too favorable 
to the contractor. 

On this point the harbor commissioners appeared before the 
Governor and Council, and stated that they had long been im- 
pressed with the great importance of commencing this improve- 
ment at as early a day as possible. They have made every 
effort by public advertisement and personal inquiry and inves- 
tigation to procure the most favorable terms for the Common- 
wealth ; but there were difficulties of a serious character in the 
way. The enterprise is one of great magnitude. It requires 
a working capital of several hundred thousand, perhaps a quar- 
ter of a million of dollars. It is in a sensQ an experimental 
undertaking, which but few men of means and ability are 
willing to undertake. Under all the circumstances of the case 
they had made the best contract possible, and are, on the 
whole, satisfied with it, and think it would be a great mistake 
not to close it. The State will certainly have 1,200,000 feet of 
filled land. It can terminate the contract at its own pleasure. 
It will pay nothing from the treasury. But the great point is, 
that the work will be commenced and the experiment tried at 
the risk of the contractor. They deem it a great consideration 
to liave this enterprise initiated without risk to the State 
treasury, and to have the full benefit of the large working 
materials, the capital, and, above all, the experience and energy 
of the proposed contractor. And especially they insist upon 
the importance of the clause that the Commonwealth may at 
any time annul the contract, and is only liable in that case to 
pay damages to be assessed by its own officers. 

If, therefore, at any time hereafter, it is found that the work 
is not progressing satisfactorily, or that it is injuring the harbor, 
or that it is too profitable to the contractor, the State may at 
once take the whole thing into its own hands. 

Upon this point I am not prepared to overrule the harbor 
commissioners. After devoting several years to this subject, it 


seems to me safer to rest on their judgment than on any opinion 
formed at this board, wliich must necessarily be based upon 
less information and material for forming a correct judgment 
than those on which the harbor commissioners have acted, 
and if we err in this matter, the error can be easily corrected 
by our successors. Indeed, I am much impressed with the good 
sense of these remarks. I regard the policy which has been 
adopted by the two successive legislatures, that this improve- 
ment, if made, shall not be at the risk of the State treasury, 
as eminently wise, and I shall in no way give my sanction to 
the first step which seems to indicate a different course. And 
inasmuch as it seems clear that, if the present contract is car- 
ried out, the amount of filled land coming to the State, at a fair 
estimate of its value, will be sufficient to complete the wall now 
contracted for, and will leave several hundred thousand dollars 
in the treasury, it seems to me that this is a contract which 
will stand the test of scrutiny in a business point of view ; 
especially as the Commonwealth will also have some sis 
hundred acres of unfilled land which will in a sense be brought 
into market by this very operation. Nor am I disturbed by the 
reflection that the operation may be even better for the con- 
tractor than for the Commonwealth. That is a narrow policy 
which seeks to have all the advantage on one side. It cannot be 
expected that men of ability and means will devote .their time 
and put their whole fortune at risk in these great enterprises 
unless there is to be a large margin of profit in case of success, 
when the consequence of failure will be serious. If the affair 
succeed, the State will make a good thing, not taking into 
account the benefit to the harbor, of which I shall speak 
presently. Tf it fail, the State will lose nothing, and the 
contractor will lose everything. To expect the latter, under 
such circumstances, to divide the profits equally with the 
Commonwealth, is not in accordance with business principles. 

In regard to the details of the contracts which are before 
me, I have to remark, in the first place, that the presumption 
is in favor of their correctness. The harbor commissioners are 
men of ability and great practical sagacity, who have devoted 
much time to this subject, and on whom the responsibility 
mainly rests. These various contracts were obviously made 
after protracted negotiations with various parties, and it must 



have been necessary to reconcile the conflicting views of all 
parties interested. 

It is possible that in some of the details the contracts might 
be improved ; but in a matter of this sort, involving a large 
amount of property and extending over a series of years, it 
vrould seem to be impracticable to arrange all the details at first 
in a satisfactory manner. Undoubtedly experience will show 
the necessity of numerous alterations as the work progresses. 
But it is in the power of the Commonwealth to insist on them, 
as it is authorized to terminate the contract at any time. 

But there is another consideration of the greatest importance. 
This enterprise was originally thought of, not for the purpose 
of making money, but to preserve and improve the harbor of 
Boston ; for any injury to this harbor is an injury to the mate- 
rial interests of the whole Commonwealth, of which it is the 
capital and principal commercial port. In one point of view, 
therefore, if this improvement can be made without any ex- 
pense to the State, — that is, if land enough can be sold to pay 
for the improvement, — then this is a successful operation. All 
that is received over and above this is so much gained. More- 
over, this improvement will create a large amount of taxable 
property, every dollar of which tends to diminish our pro rata 
taxation all over the Commonwealth. The amount of some 
three millions, received by the State from the Back Bay enter- 
prise, is only a tithe of its real benefit, for already it has cre- 
ated some $20,000,000 of taxable property. 

If this whole South Bay territory had been given away 
twenty years ago, on condition of its being improved, the Com- 
monwealth would have actually received a more substantial 
benefit in the improvement of the harbor, in the facilities of 
transporting merchandise, in building up Boston, and in the 
increase of taxable property, than it will now receive if we 
should sell it for many millions of dollars. The great delay in 
the business has been a serious mistake, and should not be 
tolerated a day longer. In my opinion there is imminent 
danger that a fresh delay now will be a loss of millions to the 
city of Boston and to the Commonwealth. 

The great question now pressing upon us is one of finance. 
Our debt is very heavy. Taxation never pressed upon the 
people with greater severity. It is of prime importance to 


develop all our resources, to maintain our high position for 
enterprise as well as for prudence, to increase in every suitable 
manner our industrial and commercial facilities, and to bring 
out the capacities of the State by the encouragement of indi- 
vidual enterprise. We are now a large manufacturing com- 
munity. We ought to be also a large exporting community, — 
for the city of Boston, undoubtedly, possesses one of the best 
harbors in the world, and is one day nearer Liverpool than our 
great rival, — and there is abundant wealth which for years 
has been seeking investment in other parts of the country. 

The Commonwealth has heretofore manifested a broad and 
liberal policy toward its capital. Owing to the encroachments 
of commerce there was left within the city of Boston limits, a 
few years ago, literally no space for the erection of elegant 
dwellings, and numbers of people were compelled to leave the 
city. But by the improvement of the territory owned by the 
Commonwealth in the Back Bay, on a scale of unexampled 
liberality, a new city has been created. The actual amount of 
cash paid into the State treasury, has been comparatively 
small ; but this territory, when covered as it soon will be, will 
afford taxable property to an amount of at least fifty millions 
of dollars. 

What the city now needs is a radical improvement of the 
liarbor by the construction of new wharves, and the deepening 
of the channels, and the creation of space directly on the sea 
for the erection of spacious warehouses, immense granaries, 
cattle yards, and even storehouses, so that the riches of the 
West may here find an outlet to the sea, to be exchanged for 
the commodities of other countries. 

To accomplish this we must act efficiently, promptly and em- 
phatically, and with no narrow spirit. Instead of indulging in 
the miserable fear that our enterprising citizens may make 
something by joining with the Commonwealth, we should rather 
encourage a different spirit, and should rejoice at their success; 
and although I am not prepared to advocate the policy of the 
Commonwealth undertaking directly to carry out any enter- 
prise which partakes of a commercial venture, I would advocate 
and I do advocate the encouragement of everything which 
tends to keep our young men at home, wliich induces our men 
of wealth to invest their property within our own borders, and 


which may give us a commercial emporium second only to the 
great mart of trade and commerce in the Empire State. And 
I hold that the policy of the Commonwealth should be so 
shaped as to accomplish these results. 

Having in my first message to the legislature called especial 
attention to the improvement of the harbor of Boston and the 
employment of the property of the Commonwealth therein for 
useful purposes, and having watched the progress of the affair 
and the proceedings of the Harbor Commissioners Avith the 
greatest interest, I am more than satisfied with their labors. I 
am rejoiced that they have succeeded in settling a long stand- 
ing controversy, which has been for years in the way of any 
improvement of the flats ; that they have succeeded in harmon- 
izing the interests of all parties concerned ; that they have 
made contracts which secure the building of a substantial sea- 
wall on the line indicated by the commissioners of the coast 
survey, which provide for dredging out the channels to a depth 
sufficient for the largest man-of-war, which will bring at least 
one hundred acres of land into use directly on the sea, which 
will call attention to and afford a market for the remaining six 
hundred acres of flats belonging to the Commonwealth, and 
which, so far from burthening the treasury and increasing the 
taxes on the people, will leave a handsome surplus in the one 
and greatly diminish the other. I care not if the- contractor, 
who puts his all at the hazard of this enterprise and gives 
ample security to complete it within three years, makes a 
fortune out of it. I hope that he will ; and that will be the 
least of the benefits to which he will be entitled by his bold 
defiance of personal risk. 

For these reasons I am in favor of affirming the contracts 
without further delay. 



Haebor Commissioners' Office, August 29th, 1868. 
To His Excellency Alexander H. Bullock : — 

Dear Sir, — I ask permission to state some of the reasons 
that have led the Harbor Commissioners to submit certain 
contracts for the improvement of Boston Harbor for the con- 
sideration of the Council. 

The first contract is with the Boston Wharf Company. In 
the year 1855 a grant was made to it by the Legislature of 
about 40 acres of flats, in such a position on Fort Point Chan- 
nel as to deprive the State of any convenient access to its own 
property beyond. As nothing had been done under this grant, 
the legislature of 1867 repealed it ; and the legal question as 
to the constitutionality of the repeal is now under advisement 
of the supreme court, with but small chance, in the opinion 
of able lawyers, of a decision in favor of tlie State ; by the 
contract submitted, the proprietors of the wharf release to tlie 
State, in consideration of a perfect title to the balance, in flats 
and rights of wharfage, what we consider is equal or equiva- 
lent to one-half of the disputed grant. 

The second contract is for the construction of a wall of 
about 700 feet in length on Fort Point Channel. As this is to 
be set back twenty-seven feet from the channel and protected, 
whenever used, by a platform, one built upon piles, (similar to 
that of the Boston Wharf which has stood for many years,) 
though cheap, was deemed to be sufficient. This wall, as well 
as the next, was awarded to the Rockport Granite Company and 
Messrs. Clapp & Ballon, and is similar to the one agreed to be 
•built by the Boston Wharf Company. 

The third contract is for what may be called a sea-wall. 
The Act of the legislature provides that, as a method of com- 
pensation, the harbor in general, and the slips on this territory 
shall be dredged to the depth of twenty-three feet at low water. 
The foundation of the wall must therefore be laid at that depth, 
and be of strength sufficient to stand against storms on one 


side and the pressure of material on the other. As any imper- 
fection in this work might lead to most serious results, by pre- 
cipitating a vast amount of material into the harbor, to its 
great injury, tlie Commission asked the advice of four 
engineers of the highest character and greatest experience in 
structures of this nature. They submitted seven different plans 
for a wall, and asked them to recommend the cheapest struc- 
ture that in their opinion would be sufficient for the purpose. 
After several consultations they unanimously recommended the 
plan marked G, submitted with this Report. On the eleventh 
day of July the Commissioners advertised for proposals, which 
were opened on the third day of August. They received four 
bids, two for 817.50, one for $12.00 and one (which was 
accepted,) at $11.40 a yard laid. As the wall had to be laid 
by means of submarine divers at the depth of 23 feet at low 
water of dimension stones without pinners, this was thought to 
be as good an offer as any responsible bidders could be expected 
to make. In addition to this the Commissioners undertook 
that the contractor for filling the flats should excavate to the 
depth of 23 feet at low water and prepare a level bed for the 
reception of the masonry. 

Such a wall could not be built except at a great expense 
— the resources at the command of the Commission were 
f 193,000, the balance of an appropriation made in the year 
1867 of $200,000, and a right to pay for filling, &c., by sale of 
flats. The Commission feel certain from the bids received 
that with the cash approj)riation they can build the 700 feet of 
wall of the first contract and nine hundred and five feet of that 
provided for in the second, leaving one thousand feet which 
they are confident could be paid for by the sale of flats, without 
calling on the legislature for any farther appropriation. 

Having thus provided for the exterior wall the Commissioners 
advertised for proposals for filling any portion of the flats 
inclosed, the contractor to be paid by receiving either flats' 
unfilled or a portion of those that were embraced in his con- 
tract. This was the only mode provided by the legislature, 
which expressly forbid any contracts being made that should 
bind the State to the payment of money. The very able com- 
mittee appointed by the legislature of 1867 recommended 


this, but the legislature of last year positively refused to adopt 
the recommendation. 

But one bid was received in response to the advertisement, 
and this was made by N. C. Munson, well known as the con- 
tractor for filling the Back Bay lands, and many other impor- 
tant works, a man who is believed to be perfectly able to carry 
out any contract he undertakes. He offered within three years 
to fill, with material dredged from the bottom of the harbor, 
at such points as the Commissioners should direct, and with a 
surface covering of three feet of clean gravel, 4,660,870 (four 
million six hundred and sixty thousand eight hundred and 
seventy) square feet, which, at the lowest probable rate, would 
amount to an outlay of $2,000,000, most, or all of which must 
be expended before any return, either for principal or interest, 
could be made. As soon as filled he proposed that the Com- 
monwealth should deed to him all the land to the west of B 
Street extended, amounting to 3,460,870 square feet, and retain 
1,200,000 feet to the east of the same street. The amount 
demanded was large and embraced that part of the property 
that would first come into the market ; but as it was the only 
bid, the Commissioners had contracts carefully drawn and have 
submitted them to the Council. 

The object of the legislature, in the opinion of the Commis- 
sion, was to improve and benefit Boston Harbor, — profit on 
sales of land being only incidental. This is evident by its 
refusing to make any appropriation of money, as recommended 
by the committee of 1867, for the purpose of reducing the 
cost by obtaining a general competition, and also for the pro- 
viso that any injury to the harbor resulting from the work shall 
be repaired by dredging or otherwise. The committee, in their 
report, deem it " in the highest degree desirable that this 
entire territory should be kept under one control," and are of 
opinion that " the value of the property will depend very much 
on the management, with reference to time as well as to the 
manner of filling and of sales," and that, " looking to ultimate 
financial results, it might be good policy in the early stages to 
make large sales at low prices, for the purpose of inviting 
business enterprise in this direction." The Commission agree 
in these views, for it is evident that the value of this property 
will depend on its becoming the depot for railroads, which 


renders it imperative that a large tract should be filled before 
any sales were made. Sales, as on the Back Bay, of small lots, 
would defeat this object. 

To induce railroads to locate on this property, tlie land they 
need must either be sold at a low price, or, as in the case of 
the location of the Worcester Railroad on the South Cove, a 
large tract must be given to enhance the value of the rest ; 
and on the price obtained after such deductions, the success, 
financially, of the enterprise must depend. 

These conditions can only be complied witli by the State's 
advancing money, or by some responsible contractor's making 
a great outlay and running a great risk, in the hope of obtain- 
ing a large and adequate return. 

The State, though urged by the very able and influential 
committee, positively refused to advance any further money, 
and positively order the Commissioners not to enter into any 
contract that will bind the State to any such payment ; and 
thus avoids all risk, all necessity of raising money, and all loss 
of interest while waiting for purchasers. 

As before stated, the Commissioners received but one bid ; 
but that was by a responsible contractor. The gentleman who 
made the lowest bid, when invited by the committee, though 
urged before the bids were opened, positively declined to be a 
competitor, and I know of no one else who could or would 
undertake it on the terms offered by Mr. Munson. 

Mr. Munson shows his confidence in his bid being satisfactory 
to the legislature by offering at any time to give up his contract 
and receive, without the rights of appeal, such damages as the 
Governor and Council may award. 

The acceptance of this bid provides for the dredging neces- 
sary for the foundation of the exterior wall, which would add, 
if done by the State, f-19,550 to the estimate for the first sec- 
tion. It insures the immediate improvement of the harbor of 
Boston. It will be the first step towards reclaiming the six 
hundred acres of flats bounding on deep water that will still 
belong to the State in this locality, as fast as the may be needed 
for railroad, manufacturing, or other purposes. 

In conclusion, these oflers, if accepted by the Council, will 
insure the improvement of the harbor by erecting tlie wall 
recommended by the advisory board for the direction of the cur- 


rents on the edge of the South Boston flats ; will remove all 
the shoals, including the upper middle, to the depth of twenty- 
three feet at low water ; will give ample accommodations for 
railroads and manufactories for a century to come ; will lead 
to a development of the large amount of property belonging to 
the State ; will vastly increase the taxable property, both of 
the city and the Commonwealth, and will not require any 
further appropriation from the treasury of the State. 

I am, very respectfully, 

Chairman of the Board of Harbor Comni'rs. 


(^ommanwtnlih ot W^ix^^^vhn^tit^, 

Council Chamber, Boston, October 5, 1868. 

The Committee of the Council to which was referred the several 
contracts made by the Harbor Commissioners with sundry 
parties, in relation to Boston Harbor and the South Boston 
flats, have considered the same, and herewith submit their 


There are four contracts presented by the Harbor Commis- 
sioners to the governor and council for approval : 

First. A contract with the Boston Wharf Company, by 
which it is proposed to compromise the conflicting claims of 
title to certain flats between the Wharf Company and the Com- 
monwealth, by a partition of the territory in dispute, and a 
conveyance from each party to the other of certain specified 
portions thereof, with further provisions as to sea-wall and fill- 
ing. This contract the Committee believe to have been wisely 
made, and. that a settlement thus early to be accomplished will 
prove beneficial to both parties. But we are advised by the 
Harbor Commissioners that the contract is, in certain particu- 
lars, so connected with, and dependent upon, the other pro- 
posed contracts that unless they shall be approved some modi- 
fications Avill be necessary to make this contract practicable. 
In^view, therefore, of the conclusion to which we have arrived 
with reference to the others, we recommend the return of this 
contract to the Harbor Commissioners for further negotiation 
with the compjiny. 

Second. There are two contracts with the Rockport Granite 
Company and Messrs. Clapp & Ballon for building sea-walls ; 
one upon Fort Point Channel and the other upon or near the 
exterior line of the harbor as recommended by the United 


States Commissioners. These contracts appear to have been 
well made, the work required substantial, and the prices to be 
■ paid reasonable. These, also, in a measure depend upon the 
Munson contract hereinafter named, and cannot be approved 
unless that is approved. 

Third. A contract with Mr. N. C. Munson, which provides 
for filling 4,665,000 square feet, or more than one hundred 
acres, of fiats, extending from Fort Point Channel and lands of 
the Boston Wharf Company on the west to a line about seven 
hundred feet easterly from " B " Street extended, and substan- 
tially parallel therewith. For filling this territory the con- 
tractor is to take for his compensation all the land lying 
between said channel and land of the Wharf Company on the 
west, to the line of " B" Street extended, amounting to 3,465,- 
000 square feet, or, in round numbers, seventy-nine and a half 
acres. And the Commonwealth, as its share in the contract, a 
strip of filled land, about 700 feet wide on the easterly side of 
" B " Street extended, containing 1,200,000 square feet, or 
about twenty-seven acres. 

The South Boston flats, in all, embrace about 700 acres, 
which will, in time, be required for the extension, growth and 
business interests of the city of Boston. Its appears to be 
agreed on all hands that the filling of these flats, by taking the 
material from the harbor by dredging in the manner proposed 
by the contract, will vastly improve it, by extending largely the 
area of deep water, and by giving such direction to the cur- 
rents as to materially assist in removing obstructions and pre- 
venting collections of mud or sand upon the harbor bottom. 
If, therefore, by a wise forecast and management on the part of 
the Commonwealth, the harbor may be greatly improved, and 
at the same time the treasury of the Commonwealth be largely 
benefited, every officer charged with responsibility to the Com- 
monwealth should use his best exertions to accomplish these 

The subject is one of great importance. The legislature has 
authorized the Harbor Commissioners to make 'contracts, sub- 
ject to the approval of the governor and council, for filling and 
disposing of these lands ; but they have not, except for build- 
ing a sea-wall, authorized the payment of any money from the 
treasury of the Commonwealth. Pursuant to authority given 


them, the Harbor Commissioners duly advertised for proposals 
for filling, and the bid of Mr. Munson was the only one made, 
and that, as we understand, not as favorable to the Common- 
wealth as the commissioners had hoped and expected ; but 
anxious, doubtless, to commence what all regard as a great 
system of harbor improvement, they concluded to accept this 
bid. The only question for the Governor and Council is, Shall 
the contract be approved ? No contractor could be expected to 
enter into a contract of this magnitude, involving a term of 
years for its completion and a large outlay of money, without 
a very large margin for contingencies and profit. Two of the 
contracts, as already stated, provide for the erection of a sea- 
wall from a point at the corner of land of the Boston "Wharf 
Company on Fort Point Channel and running thence to the 
line of " B " Street extended. This will exhaust the appropri- 
ation of 8200,000 made by the legislature, and the wall cannot 
be continued farther without an additional grant of money or 
the disposal by the commissioners of the whole or a part of the 
filled lands reserved to the Commonwealth under the contract. 

Mr. Munson takes all the flats thus inclosed by the sea-wall 
on the water side, covering the entire distance from Port Point 
Channel and the Wharf Company land to " B " Street extended, 
embracing seventy-nine and a half acres of the most valuable 
part of the whole territory, and including what is to be received 
by the Commonwealth under the proposed contract with the 
Wharf Company. The share of filled land reser.ved to the Com- 
monwealth consists of 1,200,000 square feet lying entirely in 
the rear of the contractor's portion, the nearest part of it to 
the city proper being more than 1,800 feet distant from Fort 
Point Channel, and this without the advantage of a sea-wall on 
its water front, as the contractor's share is to have. If there is 
any considerable value in these flats beyond the cost of filling, 
the bare statement of this division of the lands seems almost 
sufficient to convince us that the contract should be disapproved. 

The Committee made inquiries to ascertain whether it would 
be less expensive to Wil these flats with material brought from 
the country, as in V^e case of the Back Bay, than by taking the 
material by dredging from the harbor, as provided by the con- 
tract. We are assured that the latter is the cheaper mode. 
From what we can learn the cash cost of filling the lands to be 


conveyed to Munson will be from 36 to 40 cents per square 
foot of area. Take then the 3,465,000 feet, and the filling at 
the maximum sum named would cost $1,386,000. Deduct 
one-third for streets and docks, and we have 2,310,000 feet of 
available land for the market. 

With the Eastern Avenue constructed, and the sea-wall built 
as proposed, this land will be of immense value ; at one dollar 
per foot it would bring $2,310,000. Without estimating inter- 
est on the outlay, which would depend upon the time which 
must elapse before sale, and deducting 1200,000 for sea-wall, 
and the profit on the contractor's land alone, would be 1724,- 
000 ; estimated in the same manner, at eighty cents per foot, 
the profit would be 8262,000. 

Take now the filled land reserved to the Commonwealth, 
viz. : 1,200,009 square feet, without the sea-wall on its water 
front, and in the nature of things not available until after the 
land of the contractor shall have been substantially disposed of. 
Deduct one-third for streets and docks, and we have 800,000 
square feet for the market, at such time hereafter as the 
demand shall require it. This cannot, we think, be nearly as 
valuable as the other, for obvious reasons ; it lies at a much 
greater distance from the business portions of the city, and a 
much greater time must inevitably elapse before it will be 
required for occupation. Assuming one dollar per foot for the 
Munson land, taken as a whole, to be a fair value, this, taken 
together cannot, we think, be more than half that sum, which 
would give 1400,000. Deduct from this 1132,000 required to 
build the sea-wall, and $200,000 for the wall against the con- 
tractor's land, and the net profit on the whole 4,665,000 square 
feet, saying nothing of interest, would be only 168,000. 

Again, estimate this land at one dollar per foot (and we are 
not aware that anybody would .claim it to be nearly as valuable 
as the other,) and deduct the cost of walls, say $332,000, and 
we have $468,000, which is $256,000 less than the profit upon 
the contractor's land alone ; waiving the question of interest, 
if these estimates are correct, it would seem that there can be 
no doubt as to the conclusion to which we must arrive. 

A growing faith in the value of these flats has been observ- 
able, both in the legislature and elsewhere for years. Who 
does not remember what has been said of the short-sightedness 


of the legislature in making a grant of a large quantity of 
these very flats to the Boston Wharf Co., in 1855, and of the 
attemjjted repeal of the same by the legislature of 1867 ? 

In 1864 the proceeds of the sales of all the public lands 
were pledged to constitute a sinking fund for the redemption 
of the war debt of the Commonwealth. How much money 
can be realized froin these flats, for the purpose named, if these 
contracts shall be approved ? And if the amount realized from 
this, the most valuable part of the whole territory, is to be 
little or nothing, what reason is there to hope for anything 
from the remainder ? And so we may ask, was there, after all, 
any very great mistake made in the grant to the Wharf Co., 
taking these contracts as a basis upon which to form our 
opinion ? 

But it will be said, in answer to these views, that the law does 
not allow an expenditure of money from the treasury of the 
Commonwealth for filling, — that the legislature has established 
this as a policy, and therefore that this question is not open to 
us. Thus far this is so ; but if it can be reasonably shown 
that the interest of the Commonwealth is largely in favor of a 
change of policy in this regard, we cannot doubt that the 
change will be made. But wo do not feel so sure that a change 
is necessary at all. 

The railroads, or some of them, entering the city from the 
south, need and ought to have a portion of this territory to 
enable them to reach tide-water. True, the Boston and Albany 
has made arrangements to reach deep water at East Boston, 
which must be extremely inconvenient at best. If they can 
get suitable accommodations on these flats, it would seem that 
their interest would require the- disposal of their East Boston 
property, which will be needed for the railroads entering the 
city on the north. It is not improbable, therefore, that the 
Harbor Commissioners may be able to enter into contracts with 
one or more of the railroads for portions of these flats, and 
thereby enable themselves to carry on these improvements of 
the harbor with large financial benefit to the State without 
calling upon the treasury for an additional dollar. 

If then, railroads are to reach deep water over these flats, 
should not the Commonwealth retain its power of disposal and 
regulation, in order to harmonize conflicting interests, — see 


that grants are so made as that the great public interests shall 
suffer no detriment, rather than trust this important power, 
over so large a territory, to a single individual ? We are told 
that the difficulty heretofore has been that no comprehensive 
plan has been adopted for the occupation of these lands. Will 
the difficulty be remedied by placing so important a part of this 
territory in the hands and power of an individual ? If the 
railroads are to occupy this territory, a comprehensive plan 
must be adopted, and regulations adapted to the various inter- 
ests of the corporations, and the public prescribed and main- 

At present, the uses to which these lands are to be applied do 
not distinctly appear. Whether docks will be required is not 
known. It may be questioned whether it is advisable to com- 
mence the construction of the sea-wall until the filling has 
been made, and the destined use of the lands shall more 
clearly appear. Sheet piling, or a temporary bulkhead, or 
such a structure as the Wharf Co. are now filling against, can 
be built at small expense, and a considerable outlay for interest 
be thereby saved. 

Without meaning to express a decided opinion upon this 
point, we make the suggestion. 

Upon the whole case, therefore, a majority of the Committee 
are of opinion that these contracts should be disallowed in the 
hope that the Harbor Commissioners will yet be able to present 
others more advantageous to the Commonwealth. 




The subscriber, a member of the Committee on the harbor 
contracts, begs to inform the Council that when the report of 
the majority of the committee was drawn up, he only had op- 
portunity to express his dissent from the conclusions arrived at. 
But, in consideration of the importance of the subject, he now 
submits some of the reasons for the course he feels obliged to 

It is a great many years since the attention of the State au- 
thorities has been called to the subject of improving the harbor 
of Boston by a proper disposition of the South Boston flats. 
Everybody familiar with the subject admits the necessity of 
some action. Every one believes that the State is the only 
party which can do it, inasmuch as the property of the flats is 
in the Commonwealth. 

Commission after commission has been appointed and many 
reports have been made, and considerable expense incurred. 
But the subject has been postponed from time to time for rea- 
sons too numerous to mention now, some of which however are 
not creditable to tlie business sagacity of the Commonwealth. 

At length this matter has assumed a practical shape. The 
Harbor Commissioners acting under authority vested in them 
by law, have succeeded after a good deal of negotiation and 
trouble in settling various controversies and in making con- 
tracts by which a considerable portion of the territory will be 
inclosed by a substantial sea-wall and filled up to the proper 
level, and at the same time the harbor will be greatly improved, 
as most of the material used in filling the flats is to be dredged 
out of tlie channels. The territory embraces only about one- 
seventh of wliat is owned by the Commonwealth, but probably 
as much as will be called for immediately, and the work is to 
be completed in three years. The contract for filling the flats 
does not call for the expenditure of a dollar from the State 


treasury, and no liability whatever is incurred by the Common- 
wealth, The compensation of the contractor is to be a portion 
of the land itself, and there will remain of filled land belong- 
ing to the Commonwealth 1,200,000 feet. By carrying the sea- 
wall about a thousand feet further than is provided for in this 
contract the State property in the first section of this territory 
will consist of the 1,200,000 feet of filled land and of several 
million feet of inclosed but unfilled fiats, which flats, at the 
lowest estimate put upon them, will be worth more than a mil- 
lion of dollars, over and above the cost of the wall and other, 
expenditure or liability of the Commonwealth. 

But this is not all. The arrangement includes a settlement 
with the Boston Wharf Company, which is in the highest de- 
gree important. It seems that the legislature made a grant to 
this corporation some fifteen years ago of certain rights of oc- 
cupancy on these flats and of dockage which will practically 
prevent the Commonwealth from improving its own flats for 
many years, if ever. This is obvious from the various plans of 
the territory submitted to the Committee. In 1867 the legisla- 
ture under toolc to repeal this grant, and their right to do so is 
now a subject of litigation in the courts. Until that litigation 
is at an end nothing whatever can be done, and it may, and 
probably will, be several years before the final decision of the 
courts can be established. This of itself is a most serious in- 
convenience and loss, and if the decision is adverse to the 
Commonwealth, in my judgment its remaining flats will never 
be worth improving at all. Now it is part of the present ar- 
rangement that the controversy with the Wharf Corporation is 
settled, and the terms of settlement are agreed on all hands to 
be highly satisfactory. It is one of those matters where har- 
mony is clearly for tlie interest of both sides. The Committee 
were all desirous of approving the contract with the Wharf 
Company, but it is so linked in and connected with the others 
that this is impracticable. 

In my opinion this settlement alone should insure the 
approval of the whole arrangement, even if the Commonwealth 
were not to receive a dollar from it in cash or in land, for the 
grant to the corporation effectively stands in the way of any 
future improvement of the territory. 



On the face of these contracts, therefore, they seem to be 
desirable. It is possible tliat better ones might have been 
made. It is possible that some of the details could be advan- 
tageously altered. But as the harbor commissioners are men 
of character and ability, on whom is devolved by law the main 
responsibility of this enterprise ; as they appear to have given 
the subject great attention and unanimously and strongly desire , 
the approval of the contracts, the presumption is clearly in 
favor of that course. The opposition to the Contracts, so far as 
it has been developed before the Committee, has come from three 
members of the legislative committee of 1867, who had this 
subject in charge. That committee accomplished nothing practi- 
cally, because they were dissatisfied with the law under which 
they acted and thought it ought to be changed. They were 
of tlie opinion that it would be more economical for the 
Commonwealth to pay for these improvements in cash, and so 
reported to the last legislature. But the last legislature was 
not convinced by their reasoning, and passed another law re- 
affirming the policy that the cost of filling these flats should be 
paid in land, and not in cash, or the enterprise should not be 
commenced. Whether this policy is the wisest or not is now too 
late to consider. But it was urged on our Committee that the 
whole subject should be delayed, so that another legislature 
might consider it, and a confident opinion was expvessed that 
a large appropriation could be obtained to carry on the work 
entirely by the State by cash payments from the treasury. 

I am not impressed by this reasoning, because I do not be- 
lieve that any legislature, in the present state of our finances, 
will enter upon what must, after all, be considered a land specu- 
lation. Nor do I believe such a course would be wise on any 
business principles. Such affairs always fail unless carried on 
by private enterprise. These large land operations are very 
deceptive : they seldom come up to the sanguine expectations 
of their projectors, and when undertaken by States or public 
bodies, tliey almost always fail. 

It was stated to the Committee at one of the hearings, that 
the city of Boston several years ago employed Mr. William 
Evans to fill a large tract of flats at the south part of Boston, 
and had not received for the land an average of one-half of 
^hsit it cost to fill it. 


It is true that a majority of the Committee do not openly and 
directly advocate the principle of the State's improving this 
territory on its own account and by cash payments, but the 
course they recommend tends to this result. 

They object to details in the contracts, but they suggest no 

They think there should be more safeguards against abuses, 
but they do not point them out. 

Their course tends directly to delay the commencement of a 
work which has been under consideration many years, in the 
hope, apparently, that " something may turn up." The result 
will be to throw into the next legislature a disturbing element, 
and to afford those who desire a large cash appropriation to 
operate on that body in order to secure that result, and, per- 
haps, to join this scheme with others to that end. 

It is a significant fact thas no opposition whatever has 
been made to these contracts except by members of the legisla- 
tive committee of 1867, who have most vigorously and perti- 
naciously opposed it, both by appearing before the Committee, 
and by personal solicitation of members of the Council, and 
one of them has printed his speech before the Committee in the 
newspapers. There is something singular about this extraor- 
dinary interest in stopping this work, and in practically putting 
an end to the operations of the harbor commissioners. Now, 
as before remarked, this committee of 1867, and the harbor 
commissioners, have been at variance in regard to the best 
policy to be pursued. The committee were in favor of the 
Commonwealth entering upon the work by drafts from the 
treasury, but their. policy was overruled by the legislature last 
winter. One of the members of this committee, who appeared 
before the Committee and opposed these contracts, is an able and 
skilful engineer. He was asked why, if he thought the con- 
tractor had so good a contract, he did not himself bid. He 
replied that he would not take the job if the payment was to 
be in land, but might take it if payments were to be made in 
cash. The opposition of these gentlemen, under the circum- 
stances, is not entitled to any more weight than their argu- 
ments carry. 

It is well known that the committee of 1867 were at 


variance with tlie harbor commissioners on various other 

But the harbor commissioners were sustained by the last 
legislature unanimously, and the act appointing the committee 
was repealed. 

They, or some of them, now ask us to sustain their views 
against those of the legislature, and to set aside contracts made 
by the harbor commissioners, and to defer this whole matter for 
a year, for it will amount to that, and to throw over the settle- 
ment with the Wharf Corporation, and all, in order to afford 
them the opportunity to induce the legislature to change the 
policy of paying for "these improvements in land and not in 

I am in favor of approving the contracts at once, and if 
changes are required hereafter, or if the State does change its 
policy, then the contracts may be terminated. 



To His Excellency the Governor : 

The undersigned, members of the Harbor Commission, hav- 
ing learned that the Committee of the Council have submitted 
a report disapproving of the several contracts submitted to 
them, ask leave, most respectfully, to state what they fear will 
be the consequences of sucli a rejection, and some additional, 
suggestions in favor of their adoption. 

By the Act of 1855, a piece of fiats, containing about 1,500,- 
000 square feet, was granted to the proprietors of the Boston 
Wharf, together with the rights of dockage at the northerly 
end of the same. By the Act of 1867, the legislatnre repealed 
or rescinded the Act of 1855, in order to re-invest the property 
in the State. 

The proprietors of the Boston Wharf Company, disregarding 
this last Act, began to drive piles on the disputed territory, 
when, on the requisition of the Harbor Commissioners, the 
attorney-general applied for an injunction, and the question 
of the constitutionality of this Act of revocation is now pend- 
ing before the supreme court. 

The Harbor Commissioners felt that the first object was to 
make a settlement with the Boston Wharf Company, as notliing 
could be advantageously done until this was effected. After 
protracted negotiations, the directors of the corporation entered 
into the contract submitted. It was done against the opinion 
of some of the largest shareholders, who maintained, that by 
entering into it they gave up a large property, the title to which, 
their lawyers assured them, would be confirmed by the supreme 
court. The inducement that is supposed to have decided these 
directors, was the immediate development of their own property 
by the adoption of these four contracts, which, considered as 
one, would settle all questions and lead to the immediate com- 
mencement and final completion of this all-important work. 

Should these contracts be rejected, the Harbor Commissioners 
will use every exertion to obtain anotlier settlement ; but, 
knowing from experience the difficalties of the case, they are 
unwilling, on their own responsibility, to take the risk of a 
failure that might postpone for years the inception of the under- 


taking, or present almost insurmountable obstacles to its prose- 
cution ; for if the suit is decided in favor of the State, means 
will be devised for carrying it to the supreme court of the 
United States, and years may elapse before anything can be 
done. But, should the decision be adverse tp the claim of the 
State, what, then, is its position ? 

The plan herewith submitted shows tliefgrant made by the 
State in 1855, together with the dock at the northerly end of 
the dimensions, to which the wharf might be entitled. This, 
with the right of dockage on Fort Point Channel, is all that is 
given by the Act in question ; but by a previous Act, a right of 
wharfage on the eastern side of the original wharf was granted. 
The State would, therefore, be obliged to leave an access to this 
of probably 150 feet in width. By this plan, it appears that 
the Boston Wharf, if successful, will own or control all the 
flats 150 feet beyond the northern avenue, and 90 feet beyond 
the heads of the westerly wharves, as laid down on the several 
plans. If they prevail, the objection to the location of the land 
given by the contract to Munson fails, as they would then get 
by law control of most of the flats on Fort Point Channel whicli 
Munson would obtain by contract. 

But it is thought that, if these bids are rejected, other con- 
tractors can be found who will do the work on more favorable 
terms. The Commissioners know of but two parties who pos- 
sess the requisite capital, experience and facilities. They are 
the same who made the bids alluded to by the legislative com- 
mittee, — the Messrs. Staunton and Mr. Munson. 

Shortly after the advertisements for proposals were made, the 
Chairman met Mr. Staunton and urged him to make an offer. 
Applications had been previously made to the directors of the 
several railroads, but they all declined to enter into competition. 

Mr. Munson was the only bidder, and he refuses to make any 
modification of the one now before the Council. 

The Commissioners know of no other parties who would take 
the contract for this work on the terras they are authorized by 
the State to offer. Bidders might be obtained if the State would 
pay in cash, — or, in other words, would borrow money in order 
to go into a doubtful land speculation, — which the legislature, 
though strongly urged by the influential committee of the 
legislature of 1867, positively refused to do. 


As to the cost of filling and the profit to be made by the 
contractor, the Commissioners submit certain calculations ; 
but they would previously state that the cost of dredging 
material from 23 feet below low-water, is very uncertain. 

Analysis of the contract with the Commonwealth and N. C. 

Total area of flats to be filled, . . 4,665,000 square feet. 
Commonwealth to receive . . . 1,200,000 " " 
N. C. Munson to receive . . . 3,465,000 " " 

From 3,465,000 square feet deduct one 

dock which the contractor is bound to 

build, equal to 224,000 square feet, . 3,241,000 square feet. 
Add land of Commonwealth, 1,200,000 

square feet, * 1,200,000 " " 

Total filling to be made, . . 4,441,000 square feet. 

Assuming cost of filling at 40 cents per foot, 

4,441,000 feet, at 40 cents, .... $1,776,400 00 
About 4,000 feet temporary bulkhead, at 86, . 24,000 00 

680 feet of sea-wall upon the exterior line will 
have to be built by the contractor if he pre- 
fers to discontinue the first two docks pro- - 
jected— 580 feet at 1189, .... 109,620 00 

$1,910,020 00 
Contingencies upon this expenditure, 10 per ct., 191,002 00 

Interest upon money expended second year, 
" " " " . third year, 

" " " " fourth year, 

Total expenditure, .... 

49,020 00 

98,047 00 

147,070 00 

^2,395,162 00 

Estimate of incoiiie from' the sales of land of N. C. Munson. 
Area of flats mentioned in the contract, 3,465,000 square feet. 
Deduct for one dock 224,000 square feet 
for streets 196,095 " " 

420,095 " " 

Total salable area, . . . 3,044,905 square feet. 


3,044,905, square feet, at $1 per foot, . . $3,044,905 00 
Total expenditure, 2,395,162 00 

Largest possible profit, .... $(349,733 00 

Assuming an average sale at 80 cents per foot, 

3,044,905 feet, at 80 cents, .... $2,435,924 00 

Total expenditure, 2,395,162 00 

Profit, $40,762 00 

It is improbable that the railroads will pay the contractor one 
dollar per foot ; and they being probably the largest purchasers 
of this territory, the largest possible profit mentioned above will 
be considerably reduced. 

The Commonwealth will receive by the contract with N. C. 
Munson 1,200,000 square feet, exclusive of any dock that 
might be built upon that territory. 

Deduct for streets, 159,780 square feet— 1,040,220. 

At the lowest possible price, 50 cents, . . $520,110 00 

The completion of the sea-wall for 
the whole first section would be 
1,000 feet at $189, . . . $189,000 00 

Bulkhead between the walls, 870 

feet, at $10, .... 8,700 00 

197,700 00 

Making net proceeds, .... $322,410 00 

The estimate of 50 cents per square foot for the Common- 
wealth's land appears too low in comparison with the estimate 
of the contractor's land. 

It is assumed by tlie Commissioners, that if this contract is 
approved, it will not be necessary for the State to make another 
appropriation in cash for the construction of the wall or the 
completion of the work. Their reasons are, — 

First. Mr. Munson contracts to erect at his own expense, to 
the satisfaction of the Commissioners, a sufficient bulkhead to 


retain the filling on the 1,200,000 feet belonging to the State ; 

Secondly. That when the State have, excluding streets, 
1,040,220 feet of land on B Street extended, they can sell it at 
once in one lot, if it were necessary, for 50 cents per foot, 
which would pay for the whole wall- on the first section, repay 
the 8200,000 already appropriated and leave $122,410 to go 
into the treasury. 

There is one other point to which the Commissioners would 
call particular attention. By the contract, Mr. Munson agrees 
that the Board may at any time alter or cancel the contract, 
and his damages are to be assessed by the Governor and Coun- 
cil without appeal. This gives the Commonwealth and its 
Commissioners the entire control, and will enable them to have 
the very land granted to Mr. Munson disposed of in such man- 
ner as may, in their opinion, conduce most to the public good, 
and puts it in the power of the State authorities to insist upon 
any and all changes in the details of the contract, as experi- 
ence may show to be necessary as the work progresses. It is 
impossible at the commencement of a great improvement like 
this, to fix upon the provisions with entire precision. For 
instance, in what relates to streets and drainage, the details 
must depend in a measure upon the method of connection with 
the main land, the precise uses to which the territory is to be 
applied, and the actual effect on the harbor of erecting the 
sea-wall. But the State retains in its hands the power to insist 
on these changes, for it can alter or annul the contract if its 
wishes are not heeded. When the first contract was made as 
to the Back Bay, only a single street was laid out, and that one 
was subsequently changed ; and a great many changes in 
streets, squares and sewers have been made from time to time 
as the works went on. The Commonwealth can, under this 
contract, always protect itself against any improper or unreason- 
able use of the territory to be acquired by the contractor. 

In conclusion, the undersigned respectfully state, that they 
would have been happy if other competitors had enabled them 
to make a better bargain for the Commonwealth ; but that 
having an opportunity of making a contract that would insure 
the immediate commencement, and final completion of a work 
that would benefit, incalculably, the harbor of her capital, and 


add millions to the taxable property of the State, they were, 
and are, unwilling to take the responsibility of risking the 
whole on the contingency of their being able to make another 
bargain with the Boston Wharf Company, or getting another 
contract on better terms, especially as these contracts relate to 
less than a seventh of the seven hundred and fifty acres in this 
locality belonging to the Commonwealth. 


Boston, October 9, 1868. 

Note. — The Hon. William Mixter, the only member of the Harbor 
Commission whose name is not appended to this Communication, was not 
in town and could not be reached when this document was signed and sent to 
His Excellency the Governor. But his opinions are known to be in concur- 
rence with those of his colleagues.