Every U.S. President since Harding has urged construction of a St. Lawrence Seaway to link the Great Lakes to the Atlantic and open the Midwest to world commerce. But railroads, private power companies, Atlantic ports and Gulf Coast ports have fought the idea with bitterness since its inception. Seaway plans, furthermore, have included a vast public hydroelectric project, which was not only unpopular in many quarters in the past, but brought the cost of construction close to half a billion dollars. Congress has turned down one seaway proposal after another.

Four months ago, Wisconsin's G.O.P. Senator Alexander Wiley sponsored...

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