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Early map showing the progress toward the completion of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, along with the annual report of 1824.

In the mid-17th century Augustine Herman, a mapmaker and Prague (Bohemia, now Czech Republic) native who had served as an envoy for the Dutch, observed that two great bodies of water, the Delaware River and Chesapeake Bay, were separated only by a narrow strip of land. Herman proposed that a waterway be built to connect the two. The canal would reduce by nearly 300 miles the water routes between Philadelphia and Baltimore.

In 1764, a survey of possible water routes across the Delmarva Peninsula was made. One such water route was proposed by Thomas Gilpin, Sr., a Quaker from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1764, Gilpin purchased 39 acres of land much of which is located in and around present day Millington, MD. As a member of the American Philosophical Society, Gilpin was involved with planning a possible waterway that would be a shortcut for shipping from the Chesapeake Bay to the City of Philadelphia. He proposed that a canal be built across the Delmarva Peninsula to connect the Chester River at what is now Millington, MD to the Delaware River. However, a canal would not become a reality for decades

The issue of constructing the waterway was raised again in 1788 by regional business leaders, including noted Philadelphians Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush. In 1802, following actions by the legislatures of Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania, the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company was incorporated. More surveys followed, and in 1804 construction of the canal began including 14 locks to connect the Christina River in Delaware with the Elk River at Welch Point, Maryland, but the project was halted two years later for lack of funds.

The canal company was reorganized in 1822, and new surveys determined that more than $2 million in capital was needed to resume construction. Eventually the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased $100,000 in stock, the State of Maryland $50,000 and Delaware $25,000. The federal government's investment was $450,000 with the remainder subscribed by the public.

Construction resumed in April 1824 and was completed in 1829. The near $2.5 million construction cost made it one of the most expensive canal projects of its time.

Condition Description
Offset and foxed. Includes complete pamphlet and maps.