Canal President Charles Fenton Mercer

The Charles Mercer boat at Great Falls
The Charles Mercer at Great Falls

NPS Photo

Charles Fenton Mercer, visionary, entrepreneur, businessman and politician spearheaded the construction of the C&O Canal. In 1823, he led a canal convention that included investors like Francis Scott Key. Five years later, he watched President John Quincy Adams break ground for the canal at Little Falls on July 4, 1828.

Although John Eaton became president of the canal company in 1833, Mercer continued to serve as an advocate of federally funded internal improvements, such as the canal, while serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. One of his dreams was to construct a great canal across the Isthmus of Panama to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

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