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A 445089 

8 2- THE WAR OF 1886, 



i i-uTjinJuyuM-LAJw :^ 

■*■■ ». ■ 

THE WAR OF 1886, 


United States § Great Britain. 

The Surprising Experience — The Military and Financial 
Situation of our Beloved Country — Capture of the 
Lake, Sea-Board, and Mississippi-River Cities 
and the Capital — The British Terms of 
Peace — The Military and Finan- 
cial Reconstruction. 

Of the Cincinnati Gazette. 



Published by Robert Clarke & Co. 


J lr\ 




THE WAR OF 1886. 



At length the war came. Our public men had blustered 
much of war in Congress, on the stump, and in the news- 
papers. Party platforms had resolved sounding demands 
on foreign nations. Public m eetings to sy mpathize wit h 
E ngland 's se ditiou s Irish su bjects , addressed by Congress- 
men and by the Vice-President of the nation, had resolved 
truculent denunciations of the English government. The 
campaign cry for a vigorous foreign policy had elected a 
jingo administration. We had warned Europe off from 
the American continent, and asserted our exclusive duty 
to protect all the American States, and had gotten their 
ill will by our airs of superiority and protection. We had 
threatened England for i mprisoni ng Fenian a gitators : had 
adopted r esolutions of_ sy mpathy for t he I rish R epublic , 
w hose seat of d ynamite mach ine go vernment was at New 
York ; had winked at Fenia n bandings to in vade C anada ; 
I rish- A merican co ntributio ns h ad l ong sustained re bellion 
in_ Ir eland : we had provoked war, and mad e our n ation a^ 
g enera l n uisance , yet we had made no preparation for war. 

To see a nation whose regular political pap was belligerent 
talk, thrown into panic by the first touch of war, was 
curiously instructive. We fancied we could make war at 
our leisure, and that when we got into war, would be time 
enough to get ready; and now when it came upon us with 
the blow at our word, it took us by surprise. 

Because the course of the war on our northern frontier 
was what we had never dreamed that we were e^os^A. \s>» > 
this paper will first toudv \\\*ycv \\\*t ^** \x^ ^^ ^^-^ 

THE WAR OF 1886. 

We had fondly supposed that in case of a war with Great 
Britain, Canada, open to the great volunteer army which 
we could call out, would be her exposed spot. We had 
not thought that through Canada was a way to reach our 
lake cities. And now were as defenseless as the 
sheep, when the wolf, like the Assyrian, came down on the 

Great Britain had completed her enlargement of the 
Canadian canals, so as to admit vessels 275 feet long,. 
50 feet wide, and of 15 feet draught. The lake cities had # 
viewed with much complacency this work of enlarging, 
and had bright visions of direct trade with Europe by 
steamships from the lake ports, unmindful that the same 
canals could pass war ships from sea to the lakes. By a 
singular concurrence Great Britain had a large fleet of 
heavily armed steel frigates, steel armored, within these 
dimensions; and while we were blustering without per- 
formance, she had quietly gathered a fleet of these at 
Halifax; and presently twenty of these entered Lake 
Ontario, and twelve kept on through the Welland Canal 
to Lake Erie, making their base at Port Colborne, the Lake 
Erie inlet to the canal. 

Each ship carried 100 marines, armed with magazine 
guns. This approach set all the lake cities in a blaze of 

From Port Colborne the British frigates proceeded to lay 
the lake cities under contribution. Two made for Buffalo, 
two for Cleveland, and one for Toledo, and five went for 
Detroit and Lake Michigan. The United States steamer 
Michigan came out of Erie harbor, and made a brave 
attempt to fight, but her one smoothbore gun could not 
reach the British ships, while on the smooth water their 
eight inch rifles could hull her at every shot. One shot 
penetrated her boilers, but her commander refused to sur- 
render, and another shell entered her magazine and she 

The national and State governments had not been idle, 

but in the absence of all means, all had to be done in 

pan\c hurry. Ohio called for 100,000 volunteers, and 

more than this number rose up; but there was no organi- 



THE WAR OF 1886. 

zation nor arms, nor means to feed or shelter the thousands 
that came pouring in. 

In the soft conceit that war with a foreign power could 
never touch us, we had allowed our militia to run down, 
while Canada had been steadily fostering hers, and she 
could fetch to the border 50,000 troops, armed and equip- 
ped. On our side, half a million were rushing to arms, 
but the arms were not, and for the time 50,000 troops are 
better than half a million unarmed and unorganized men. 

Even while the British fleet commanded the lake, the 
volunteers were going through the throes of electing their 
officers, in which were all the demagogism, electioneering, 
treating, bribery, and drunkenness of the worst political 
election. Some of the national guard artillery companies 
procured horses, and got their guns to the upper bank of 
the lake, but it was more like a fourth of July than war. 

The two frigates appeared at the mouth of Buffalo Creek, 
fired a couple of shells over the town, to signify what they 
could do, and then sent an officer ashore to interview the 
city authorities. He demanded a money contribution of 
five millions, and the delivery of all the coal as contraband 
of war, and of all the vessels in the harbor as prizes to the 
British navy, on the ground that they might be used for 
war purposes. He also required that no troops should 
come nearer than twenty miles to the city, and no sort of 
military preparation be made therein. The alternative was 
the bombardment and burning of the city. 

He also announced his orders to burn all the railroad 
stations, warehouses, and cars, for the reason that they are 
military means. To the pleading of the citizens he cited 
the example of Grant and Sherman at Jackson, and of 
Sherman at Atlanta and when he marched down to the sea. 
This home argument silenced, though it did not content 

The sensation created by this demand was terrible. The 
authorities looked to the banks to advance the money, but 
the banks had lost their deposits before they suspended ; 
besides, they did not like the security. The British officer 
allowed no delay, and fired a few shells to hasten a deciswvx. 
The effect of these did the b\&s\i&3&. Tttft. £\\\i««3» wa^^sw 

THE WAR OF 1886. 



mass, and demanded that the banks and rich men should 
furnish the money. The efforts , of these to hide their 
money, or to carry it out of town, were defeated. The 
masses formed a committee of vigilance, which held an 
inquisition and assessed rich men according to their sup- 
posed wealth, with the threat of fire to their property and 
of the lamppost to their necks if not instantly paid. 

This was effectual. The money was paid, and now all 
the steamers, tugs, and sail vessels in the harbor were; 
moved off in a vast procession to Port Colborne, the British 
impressing crews to man them. One frigate remained, 
holding the city in terror, while the marines burned the 
railroads; the other proceeded along the coast to the 
intermediate ports, to repeat the contribution on a pro- 
portionate scale. The experience at Cleveland was like 
that at Buffalo, and the contributions and railroad devasta- 
tion the same. 

At Toledo the frigate went up the river and lay in the 
very front of the town. 

An ex-Major General of the civil war had been harangu- 
ing the citizens from the steps of the post office, with 
bravely defiant words, and a squad with fife and drum had 
been drumming the streets for volunteers, to raise him a 
regiment, but these sounds died away as the British vessel, 
came up. Somehow the land leaguers did not volunteer 
with that alacrity which might be expected. 

A Lieutenant in full uniform went ashore in the ship's 
cutter, and was met by the Mayor with a white flag of 
large size, while a crowd of citizens looked on with anxiety 
and awe. The British assessed Toledo at $2,000,000, with 
forfeiture of vessels and coal, and with the railroad destruc- 
tion as before. The latter item included the four bridges 
over the river. The Mayor and a committee of citizens 
pleaded that the fine was "beyond their means; that 
/ Toledo's wealth was in city lots, which, although of great 
future value, could not be converted into money. But the 
British Lieutenant confronted them with the annual reports 
of their produce exchange, and of their merchants and 
^Manufacturers' exchange, showing figures of enormous 
trade and prosperity, and with a Toledo pamphlet entitled 

THE WAR OF 1886. 

"The Future Great City," and still demanded the money. 
It was squeezed out of the banks and rich men, but it 
came very hard. Some gray beards were brought to the 
lamppost, and a rope drawn tight around their necks before 
they gave down. What is sadder than all is that the 
multitude of "the lower middle class" seemed to enjoy 
this squeezing of the rich. As before, while the smoke of 
the burning railroads was covering the town, the vessel 
owners saw their vessels towed out by their own tugs. 

Meanwhile the frigates on Lake Ontario were doing the 
same profitable business with Ogdensburg, Sackett's Har- 
bor, Oswego, and other ports. '1 he frigates on their way 
to Lake Michigan made Detroit pay $3,000,000, with the 
other accompaniments. To tell of the visits to intermediate 
ports, would be monotonous repetition. Milwaukee paid 
$3,000,000, and in the smoke of her railroad burning saw 
the final departure of all her vessels. The most signal opera- 
tion was at Chicago, which was assessed at $20,000,000. 

The frigates, at the mouth of the Chicago River, com- 
manded the whole city with their guns. They took pos- 
session of the crib at the inlet of the water-works, to blow 
this up if coercion became necessary. In vain did the 
Mayor and a committee ftvm the produce exchange plead 
against this enormous levy, that their great produce opera- 
tions were mostly wind, and not values. The bluff British 
commander seemed to think that they ought to smart for 
their practice of high trading without property. 

The ne wspape rs were ve ry brave, calling for resistance 
to the last drop of everbody else's blood, and so on; but 
the editors were politely sent for by the British commander, 
and entertained with a view of the war engines which the 
ships had bearing on the town. This changed their tone. 
The command of the water-works, leaving to the citizens 
no means to prevent a conflagration when the firing began, 
and the certainty that the ships would destroy the entire 
city, persuaded the citizens that they had no choice but to 
submit. Meanwhile a Communist uprising of Bohemians, 
Swabians, Italians, Poles, etc., re-enforced by all the dan- 
gerous and criminal class, created an internal datv^x^c*.^ 
than that in their front. 


8 THE WAR OF 1886. 

The contribution was raised, but not without a reign of 
terror which brought: the bankers and rich men to the 
pressure by means like those which savage barons used to 
apply to rich Jews. Then an immense procession of sail 
vessels, steamers, and tugs, with impressed crews, departed 
down the lake, convoyed by one of the gunboats, to be 
taken to Canadian ports, and, with all this money, to be 
made a prize to Her Majesty's navy. Other frigates pro- 
ceeded to intermediate ports. But worse than the loss of 
the money was the destruction of the railroads. 

The mind can but faintly conceive the panic and mad 
rage which all these doings raised in the whole country. 
And all this was on top of greater calamities on the Eastern 
coast, which will be touched upon further along. The 
nation seemed to be captured all round the circumference. 
The great republic, with half a million of volunteers eager 
to be organized, armed, and led, was like a blind giant, 
impotently raging and beating the air. A fierce outcry- 
arose against the administration, and the popular rage 
seemed to think it progress to begin the war of defense by 
overthrowing the government and setting up a military 
dictator. But the scope of this paper can not enter into 
the political revolutions of the war. 

Such was the beginning of the war, and this was in the 
interior and West, where the thought had never entered 
the minds of the people that a foreign war could touch 
them. The means by which the citizens extracted this 
money from the rich were dreadful, being like a dissolution 
of society, and the uprising of agrarianism. It was like 
the reign of terror of the French revolution. A military 
despotism seemed a necessity to restore order after such a 
reign of anarchy and mob violence. Many were ruined 
by the contributions, but ruin had now become so common, 
that people soon forgot these special cases. By the time 
the war had ended, the claims of these forced contributions 
had taken on the ill savor of old war claims, and of the 
monstrous jobbery of the war. Some were paid in much 
depreciated greenbacks, but the most of them were never 
paid. Meanwhile the country was making a mighty 
struggle to get ready for the war. 

THE WAR OF 1886. 





The war was an awakening of our public men to our 
financial and monetary situation, as well as to our military 
state. Many had talked that the war would cause all to 
boom with prosperity; but now a panic came, such as was 
never seen. With the decline in the surplus and in the 
revenue, our 4 per cents, had before declined to par; now 
they fell at one jump to 95, then to 90, then to 85 ; and 
now all thought that the bottom had dropped out, and all 
wanted to unload. All other securities and stocks svm- 
pathized. People lost confidence in everything. All were 
sellers at any price, and none were buyers at any price. 

The only thing that people seemed to want was gold, 
and greenbacks because they would draw gold. Even the 
dollar of the fathers was discredited. Greenbacks were 
gathered up by the brokers and bankers to present to the 
New York Sub-Treasury to draw gold. Bankers and 
money shavers sorted the national bank bills, to present to 
the banks for redemption in greenbacks, or to send to the 
banking department for redemption in greenbacks, and 
these greenbacks were sent to New York to draw gold, 
which, as fast as drawn, disappeared. Somehow the 
abundant money had fled to unknown places. 

The demand for greenbacks and gold put them at a 
premium, which gave a profit to the money changers. A 
long string of men besieged the door of the Treasury 
every day, to draw gold. The Treasury stood this run but 
a short time. Then it resorted to paying out the silver 
dollars, which gave the finishing stroke to the public credit 
at the very time when the government had to borrow, and 
straightway the bonds fell 14 per cent, more, and the 
greenback price of gold rose to 150 at a jump. Mean- 
while, all manu facturin g industries vj e\ ^ \>-Ai\^u \\»^scvs&> 

io THE WAR OF 1886. 

goods, particularly sugar, coffee, tea, spices, etc., rose 
enormously, while produce, cut off from export, fell. Yet, 
in the general calamity, speculators made their harvest, 
alike by the falling and rising prices. In particular it was 
a carnival for the speculating bears. 

Our various canal, levee, ship railway, steamship subsidy, 
educational and other schemes, had exhausted the surplus 
revenue. The internal revenue had been thrown off by 
the protection fanatics, as a scheme to keep up the extreme 
tariff taxes of the civil war. And as the very beginning 
of war extinguished the revenue from imports, the country 
entered upon war without a dollar of revenue, when 
it needed for immediate expenses five millions a day. 
Because we had found the emission of legal tender notes a 
sort of resource in war, we fancied that we had this in 
reserve, unmindful that by keeping these in circulation we 
had exhausted this war reserve in time of peace, and that 
the beginning of a further issue would hasten the downfall, 
of all. 

That large class of wise statesmen, which is always in 
reserve for great emergencies, began to express the critical 
opinion that a bellicose nation ought not to depend solely 
on a revenue system which hostilities extinguish; also, that 
the extraordinary resource of issuing greenbacks for war 
means, ought not to have been exhausted in peace. In 
the heat of the time, these went so far as to say that our 
public men should have known all this before the war. 
But^alwayj the posterior wisdorn is jujficiqit. 

We were unconscious that the ability of the government 
to borrow at three and a half per cent., in time of peace, 
with i.n overflowing treasury and so large a surplus of 
revenue that we were bothered to find ways to spend it, 
would suddenly cease with war, the annihilation of revenue, 
and the need to borrow by the thousand millions. We 
began to see it when our six per cents, ran down like the 
sands of the hour glass. Thus was our financial and 
money preparation a parallel to our military situation ; yet 
our public men talked of war as if it were a cheap indulg- 
ence to court popular sentiment, and as if our country 
was entirely secure in any event. 


The army men had not been able to decide upon the 
kind erf infantry arm, and the making of any for storing 
up had been restricted by this inability. Our army had 
made no advance beyond the Springfield musket, convened 
lo breech-loading, and of these we had in store but 37,000. 
[Ordnance Report, i88a.] The rest was near half a 
million of old Enfields and other muzzle-loaders which 
we had bought in Europe, and which were left from the 
secession war. Our private manufactories had furnished 
the Turks with half a million of the Henry Martini 
"magazine" rifles for ihe war with Russia, but somehow 
our mechanics could never satisfy our own ordnance 

The military authorities had periodically set before Con- 
gress the defenseless situation of the coast, and had called 
for large appropriations, but they were regularly unheeded. 
When forts and guns were asked fcr, the politicians talked 
of ships for coast defense, as if ships could be at every 
point to meet a hostile fleet of a greater navy. Between 
the two, we got hut little of eiiher forts, armaments or 
ships. Nor were the ordnance officers agreed on the kind 
of forts or guns to meet modern conditions. 

Our foremost progress in the making of cannon, was in 
experimenting in converting cast iron smooth-bores to 
rifles, by inserting a wrought iron barrel, and to breech- 
loaders. There is an art of adapting the firing proof 
of guns to the theory A part of the ordnance men main- 
tained that these were perfected guns, and they had the 
support of the newspapers. The other part affirmed with 
equal positiveness that the two metals were mutually 
destructive, and the process an actual weakening of the 
cast gun. In this conflict of the military experts, we got 
few guns of any sort, and most of the old were given out 
for soldiers' monuments. The British ships carried eight- 
inch and ten-inch, breech-loading, steel rifled guns, which 
soon persuaded us that they were not such utter failures as 
we had been taught. 

The torpedo branch of the navy was up to the times, 
but it was only a nucleus, to be expanded when the need 
•., and it was suddenly e-.dWd to \mo\w\^Ww(. ■£ 


12 THE WAR OF 1SS6. . 

around — Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf and Lake. Each of the 
great British ships, of the class of the Inflexible and 
Colossus, carried torpedo boats, and revolving cannon 
invented by our own mechanics for hailing shot upon 
approaching torpedo boats. 

The British statesmen had observed these military and 
financial conditions, and had reckoned that their oppor- 
tunity was in striking a decisive blow at the first. They 
had gathered to their stations on the American coasts — 
Atlantic and Pacific, their ships from all the world. These 
seemed to us uncountable for multitude. Also, the great 
passenger steamers of the lines to New York were armed, 
and were bringing troops, ordnance stores and supplies. 







The war of 1886 surprised a lot of the delusions of our 
national conceit, and brought a startling enlightenment 
upon our military situation, and the tremendous energies 
and engines of modern war. They who had blustered for 
war as a party sentiment, never thought themselves respon- 
sible for measures to prepare for war. Fondly did we 
suppose that it would be time enough to get ready when 
the war had come; but we found that in modern war the 
blow comes with the word, and that Providence is on the 
side which strikes first. Because in our civil war a million 
of brave men rushed to mutual slaughter, we fancied that 
united we could whip the world ; but the world did not 
come to our fighting ground. 
A rude shock was given to our belief that we were the 

THE WAR OF 1886. 13 

* -, 

great power of the American continent, with the office to 
protect it against Europe, when we could not protect our 
own shore ; a shock to our confidence that the Atlantic 
Ocean made us unassailable by all Europe, when we saw 
it fetching over great engines of war against which we had 
no defense; a shock to the sweet delusion which had been 
proclaimed with much newspaper iteration, that no armor- 
bearing ship could cross the Atlantic, and therefore that 
our amphibious monitors were a sufficient defense for the 

If the downfall of a nation of fifty millions of people 
was not so pitiful, there would be fund for humor in the 
awakening which the swift events of real war brought into 
our national conceit, our military theories, and our traditional 
Monroe Doctrine. A British squadron possessed the lakes, 
which we had supposed to be our own inland waters. A 
fleet of great armored steamships commanded the eastern 
coast. The harbors of the Bahamas and other British 
West Indies, off our southern Atlantic coast, had revealed 
their commanding position as a base for blockade runners 
and piratical steamers in the secession war, and now they 
were stations for a British fleet of ironclads and swift 

These harbors were as commanding to our shore as any 
of our own ports. They held all the sea-board cities in 
fear, and closed the way of our coasters to the Gulf. We 
had dreamed of sending out Alabamas to drive British 
shipping from the seas, but none of our ships dared to 
poke their noses outside, or could overtake an English 
steamship if they could get out. Every city on the sea- 
board, including the national capital, was in terror of a 
visit from British men of war. Panic is not bounded by 
reason, and this spread far up the tide-water rivers into the 
interior. Happ il y our o cean shipping had bejbre__di sap- 
pea red f rom thejiigh sejts, so that it escaped being made 
prizes to Her Majesty's Navy. 

The lesson taught in our civil war, that even wooden 
ships could run by our forts, had not been lost, and there 
was no confidence in the ability of our forts or ^ims. ta 
stop the passage of the BrivisVvYtow^a^s. ^^ n^ns. ^"^2^ 


coast, ships from the naval station of Victoria brushed 
away our coasting steamers, and closed the ports of Port- 
land and San Francisco. The star spangled banner, in 
the Pacific waters, remained only on some naval steamers 
which had taken neutral refuge in South American ports, 
where the officers were stung with mortification by their 
helplessness, the British insolent manners, and the small 
opinion held of our power by the mongrel natives. Our 
exclusive guarantee of the neutrality of the Isthmus Canal 
was suspended for the war. 

That which had vaunted itself the great American con- 
tinental power, ruling the American seas, warning Europe 
off the continent, and making all the American states our 
humble proteges, had suddenly been reduced to an inland 
state. Never was the United States Navy lacking in valor 
or dashing enterprise. Heroic sallies were made by our 
wooden ships, with their old-fashioned guns, regardless of 
odds, but it was only a sacrifice of brave men and ships. 

The newsboys had a selling sensation when their cries 
announced that from Sandy Hook a British fleet was sig- 
nalled approaching New York Bay. Successive editions 
of the newspapers reporting its progress found a ready sale. 
The ships utilized captured coasting vessels, laden with 
hay, for fenders against the fire of the forts, and against 
torpedo boats, and used others to drag the channel for 
planted torpedos. Their movement carried them out of 
range of the guns at the forts before they could deliver the 
second fire, and the fire from the more numerous and 
powerful guns of the ships altered the face of the forts. 

Then the great cities of New York and Brooklyn, and 
all the towns up the North River as far north as the city of 
Hudson, lay at the mercy of a British fleet. The Admiral 
invited the authorities to an interview on his flag ship, and 
his s ense of humor was touched when he^recogniied by 
t he b urton their tongues tha t tHey w ere r ecently E ngland 's 
se ditious subjects. HFdemanded the surrender of the two 
cities, the forts at the Narrows, the public and private 
ships, the money in the United States Treasury, and a 
contribution of $100,000,000. The swift alternative was 
the bombardment of the city. 

The helplessness of a great city under the guns of ships 
was a startling experience, although in our civil war we 
had seen it on a smaller scale when Admiral Farragut lay 
before New Orleans. Resistance was self-destruction. 
The very magnitude and wealth of the cities made the 
necessity of submission the more absolute. To pay all 
down was impossible, and the Admiral took a sixty day 
nole for part. He then destroyed the Brooklyn Nav] 
Yard, blew up the forts of the harbor, and announced th> 
purpose to hold the city till the end of the war. Even ; 
single ship could do this, but there was a powerful 

The interior ceased all trade with New York. Laborers 
were out of employ and threatened with famine. The 
destitution was general and terrible. Communism lifted 
its ugly head and threatened a reign of plunder. Thus 
did New York become a petitioner for peace, and a British 
possession for the war. The journals were neutralized by 
a notification that they must respect the British authority. 
The Herald renewed its proposition of the winter of 
1861-62, that New Yoik City should secede and set up 
independence as a free port, under the British guaranty. 

A novel illustration of the power of war engines, am 
of the meekness of a great city under their guns, was seei 
when British officers in full uniform strutted along Broad- 
way, and made themselves free of the hotels and club 
houses, in the midst of a hostile population of a million. 
New York harbor was made the central station of the 
British navy of the Atlantic coast. 

The abasement of the nation seemed complete when 
squadron came up the Potomac, and the vessels of lessi 
depth lay in front of the capital, and for the second time 
it fell into British hands. Congress and the Executive tied 
lo Harrisburg, which became the sect of government for 
the war. The city authorities, and the commandant of 
the Navy Van! answered the summons to surrender. 

The British did not burn the public buildings as before. 
They had come to stay, and to hold the capital to abide 
the: event erf the war. They burned t\\e l&wj X-sx&, vre&- 
icked the treasury vaults, m Vmc^ ^I c ~- 






16 THE WAR OF 1886. 

little money. They took the greenback plates, and set 
the presses going printing greenbacks, satirically saying 
that as the Americans believed the issue of greenbacks 
wealth, they would soon make them rich by their own 
prescription. Parties of soldiers, seamen and marines 
paraded the town. Some hundreds' took possession of the 
chambers of legislation, and organized a congress, and, 
with much travesty of Columbian oratory, adopted a joint 
resolution, rescinding the Declaration of Independence,, 
and acknowledging the supremacy of the British Queen. 

The British Admiral made himself at home at the White 
House, then newly furnished for a jingo President. The 
British flag was hoisted on all the government buildings; 
the British uniform was seen everywhere, and the national 
capital took on the aspect of a British city. The ease with 
which rich cities were held under the guns of a few ships, 
was a surprise to our people. 

A British squadron did not neglect the example cf Far- 
ragut in running by the forts below New Orleans. The 
jetties facilitated the entrance. The fire of the forts made 
but little impression, and thus New Orleans and the river 
towns up to Vicksburg were laid under contribution,, 
which, in consideration of the scarcity of ready money, 
the British kindly consented to take in cotton. 








Sed horrendum dolorem quare renovareml Why prolong the 

tale of our country's catastrophe by telling of like visita- 

tions upon Portsmouth, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, 

the Norfolk Navy Yard, Charleston, Savannah and inter- 

mediate ports? They could not resist. These visits 
seemed pleasure excursions to the British navy, not danger- 
ous enough to be exciting. At Philadelphia, they sunk 
the monitors at League Island, which the nation had 
established as a fresh water cemetery for these amphibious 
creatures, and blew up the Navy Yard here as at Norfolk. 

At Philadelphia, the m'nt fell into their hands, with a 
stock of silver bullion. Instead of carrying off this, they 
set the mint at work night and day coining it into "the 
dollar of the fathers," as they wittily called it, and they 
opened a market for the surplus silver of France and 
Germany, to coin for our people; asserting that the duty 
devolved on them to perform the office of the government 
in the interim while the dejure government was suspended, j 
and that they ought not unnecessarily to deprive the Amert- I 
can people of that which their statesmen held to be a source I 
of prosperity. There was a touch of English humor in / 
this, which somehow our people did not appreciate. 

The downfall of a nation is a mighty tragedy; much 
more when it is of a greatj patriotic, high spirited, martial 
people, by the foolishness of their government. A nation 
of fifty millions, which in a little time could put into the" 
field a million of volunteers for the war, the best soldiers 
in the world, was reduced to terms by military occupation 
by a foreign power whose resources in men would be 
strained to put on foot an army of iqo,ooo. By a strange 
imbecility in the government, and a strange incompatibility 
in the military establishment, a people of great mechanical 
genius and great mechanical resources, had almost no 
appliance of these to the country's defense. 

Meanwhile, what was Congress doing to save the nation 
from this swift ruin? Pass ; ng bills to call out a million of 
volunteers. But how could a million volunteers grapple 
with such an enemy, whose guns commanded our glial 
cities? And to arm these brave volunteers we had but the 
refuse of the arms left from the civil war, which then had 
been the refuse of all Europe. It was also passing loan 
bills, which was a calling of spirits from the vasty deep; 
bills to issue more greenbacks and break issfrenK^Nj^ 
create a new revenue \jy unn^ Mwife^t tiAws. 

18 THE WAR OF 1886. 

feel, or have a notion of; bills to increase the manufacture 
of small arms at the national arsenal; bills to make cannon, 
with our ordnance officers disputing what kind of cannon 
to make ; bills to build forts to protect our ports, which 
already were occupied by the enemy ; bills to build ships, 
when we had nowhere to build them; bills to create 
generals of all grades; likewise quartermasters, of whom 
every congressman had a score to apply for. And in all 
the country's distress, the quartermasters and contractors 
had a harvest. 

A million of patriotic volunteers — as much as half of 
them veterans of many battles — were eager to be armed 
and led to fight; but how -fight an enemy who held our 
own cities? The military dictator whom we had set up in 
the madness of our panic and rage, only showed his stupid 
incapacity, and seemed to care for nothing but to fasten 
himself and his thieving ring upon the country. The 
shock of the national conscience by this usurpation, and 
the rising of resistance, distracted the country with internal 
conflict, while torn by invasion. 

At length the British, having taken full satisfaction, and 
wonderfully lifted their military prestige, offered terms of 
peace, the most important of which were a fine of $1,000,- 
000,000, the return of Jumbo, the cession of San Juan, 
commanding the entrance to Columbia River, which had 
been awarded us in an arbitration by the Emperor of Ger- 
many, the freedom of our coast, lake, and liver trade to 
British vessels, and that no higher duty than ten per cent* 
should be laid on British goods. 

The country was held in a vice, and could only submit- 
The blustering, filibustering, Canada-invading, Irish Re- 
publican, whip-the-whole-world-in-arms, jingo party had 
disappeared. The poor military dictator, who had been 
elevated like Corporal Fritz, was pulled down as ignomin'- 
ously. The hardest of these hard terms was that which 
limited the duty on British goods to ten per cent. 
It seemed inevitable ruin to our manufactures. On 
such articles as common woolens and cottons, coarse 
blankets and carpets, and other articles of apparel and 
household stuff, such as are used by v/otYmeti aa\<i \\\^ 

THE WAR OF 1880. 19 

masses, on rough iron, iron and steel rails, and a great list 
of the articles of common necessity, the former protective 
duties averaged as high as sixty per cent. When the 
whole had been found necessary to their existence, and 
even to their partial possession of our own market, how 
could our manufacturers hope to live under this abolition 
of so large a part of their protection life blood? But 
their distress touched no sympathetic chord in British 

The President was reinstated by British orders, and 
Congress was called back to Washington to ratify the terms 
under British guns. New York was to be held as security 
till the fine was paid. There was cursing, not loud but 
deep, and muttering of dreadful revenge, but the treaty 
was concluded. Revenue and credit had to be built from 
the bottom, with $3,000,000,000 added to the public debt, 
and greenbacks down to 60 in gold. But the wealth of 
the soil was left, and in time it began to tell and to revive 
hope. Our credit abroad was gone. Through the cus- 
tomary profitable syndicate, we swapped six per cents, for 
greenbacks to pay war expenses, and to buy gold to pay 
the fine, and called it selling the bonds at par, just as the 
horse in green spectacles eats shavings as grass. But 
England took compassion on our distress, and consented 
to receive half the fine in six per cents, at 75, and in the 
course of two years after the treaty, New York was 

The war made us sadder and wiser, but not better. A 
sentiment of revenge was generated, to remain the chief 
national tradition. But we had found what was necessary 
for war, and now, under a crushing burden, had to begin 
fortifying and arming. By our war fooling we had lost our 
national independence, had become the scoff of Europ'e 
and America, had subverted the constitution, and had been 
scourged by spoliation and devastation to an amount 
equivalent to the earnings of a whole generation. The 
lesson was severe on the play of the game of war to float 
party demagogues; on brag and conceit as the national 
sustenance; on the reckless practice of politicians to htyis^sx 
against foreign powers, and to Y>oast om 3fc$&fc"j \s> Vojc^^fe 
whole world, while never making axv^ ^^^^^^ ^ 

2o THE WAR OF 1886. 






The history of the Great Republic's downfall would be 
unworthy if it had no moral, and if its only effect were to 
feed the spirit of revenge which this humiliation planted 
deep in the hearts of the American people — a heritage to 
be transmitted from patriotic sire to impressionable son, for 
all time. 

Through all the economy of nature, in nations as in. 
individuals, the law runs that wisdom shall come only 
through the thorny way of chastening. The merciless 
brushing away of the popular conceits by the war of 1886, 
and its revelation of our real military, financial and 
economical condition, compelled a reconstruction from the 
bottom, which was like a new birth to the nation, making 
it developing and teachable as a child. 

The lesson of the folly of keeping the nation defenseless; 
of the treacherous nature of a revenue which is extinguished 
by hostilities; of a currency which breaks down at the 
first alarm of war, and an army system which has wonderful 
success in separating the nation from its natural military 
resources, was deeply impressed upon the people. A 
thorough militia was created as the national army. The 
Impassible gulf which the old army system had created 
between the regular and volunteer, was removed; the 
militia became the regular army, and the way to the higher 
military education and rank. Military training in the 
public schools prepared cadets for the militia. 

The spirit of the people, thus fitly recognized by the 

government, and the espiit de corps of a truly national mili- 

tary system, created an army of half a million of young 

THE WAR OF 1886. 


men, whuh could lie mobilized in a week, besides a million 
more within the age of thirty-five years, who had 
through the regular training ; and this with but littje more 
cost to the national government than the former army, 
which had twice proved to be a delusion as a trust for war. 
This formed a great popular army, into which the young 
men sought to be enlisted; whose requirements for admis- 
sion, and whose dignity of service, made it an honor; 
which had all the discipline and readiness of the Prussian 
system, with a higher spirit in the ranks, with none of its 
caste distinctions, and without its hardships to the volun- 
teers, or its cost to the government. Simply by giving the 
martial spirit of the people a chance by a popular army, 
we became the first military' nation in the world, without 
the grinding burden and oppressions of the old world 
army systems. 

The army establishment which had separated the defense 
of the country from its mechanical resources, was oblit- 
erated. Every important harbor bristled with guns which 
would make the passage of any ship a costly experiment, 
and with other abundant means of obstruction which 
mechanical genius created. One of the surprises of the 
new system was the economy with which guns could be 
mounted and shielded for coast defense, when the useless 
provision of a fortress against land attack was left out. 
With the admission of military and mechanical intelligence, 
it was found that the complete armament of our ports 
against ships, cost but little more than the few fortifications 
of the old system, which made a great and costly fort, 
against impossible land forces, the first requisite for defense 
against ships. 

Enlightened by severe experience the notion of ships for 
coast defense was given up, and that expenditure was 
saved to apply to real defenses. The mechanical genius 
of the country, no longer excluded from the military sys- 
tem, furnished to the popular army arms superior to any 
in the world, instead of the former practice, by which for- 
eign armies had the benefit of our country's mechanics, 
while oar army was limited to obsolete arms. 

22 THE WAR OF 1886. 

at the first alarm of war, the greenbacks were redeemed, 
and the only paper money allowed was that which repre- 
sented bullion deposited against it, to an equal amount, 
in either of the precious metals, at the true value of each. 
Henceforth suspension of specie payment became an im- 
possibility in either peace or war, and the idea of even 
demanding redemption in specie became obsolete. 

Under the compelled reduction of the tariff on imports, 
ancl the multiplied burdens left by the war, and the lesson 
of the impolicy of a revenue system which war annihilates, 
the whisky and tobacco excises were restored. Tea and 
coffee were made to yield a large revenue. An export 
duty on cotton had become a popular national policy, and 
we got a handsome revenue from this, to the advantage of 
our manufacture, without impairing the country's suprem- 
acy in this production. Taking advantage of our exclu- 
sive possession of the petroleum fountains, an export duty 
on this also made foreign countries contribute to our neces- 

The greatest surprise which followed the war, was that a 
blessing was found disguised in that coerced limitation of 
the tariff on imports, which our political economists thought 
our ruin. The maximum duty of ten per cent, com- 
pelling the admission of all rough materials free, not even 
excepting that greatest material of the industries, iron, put 
new life into our manufacturing and all other industries. 
A complete revolution took place in the industrial econo- 
my. Instead of forcing up the cost of production by 
enormous taxes on every article of consumption, deluding 
the workman by nominal high wages, to be taken from 
him by high cost of living, it was found that a reduced 
cost of production .invigorated manufactures, and that with 
the consequent reduction in the cost of living, the work- 
man, on lesser wages, made ends meet better than under 
the high pressure system. 

The importation of materials for manufacture was in- 
creased, but with a still greater increase of exports of man- 
ufactures. The country was no longer limited to the bar- 
baric trade of exporting food to buy the articles of civiliza- 
tlon, but began to occupy the continent of America and to> 

THE WAR OF 1886. 23 

enter the markets of all the world with manufactured 
goods. Our manufacture of cotton, released from the old 
fetters, and further stimulated by the possession of the cot- 
ton production, began to grow to its rightful supremacy in 
all the world. Under the reduced cost of materials and of 
all that the workman consumes, the shipping, unaided by 
bounties or subsidies, grew with its oH energy, and not 
only carried our products, but entered into the carrying 
trade of other countries, as in former times. 

With the prostration of prices and labor, and the recon- 
struction of our financial system, consequent to the war, 
a revolution took place in the industries and. in the habits 
of the people. Manufactures started from the solid base 
of low cost of production, and no longer demanded that 
government should assure them enormous profits by bounty 
and monopoly, and they grew strong on this sure ft unda- 
tion. -No industry was permitted to levy upon others, and 
all throve better without favoritism. Workmen handled 
less money, but, with the lower cost of living, lived better, 
and saved more for the rainy day. Thrift took the place 
of improvident trust in the future, and self-reliance the 
place of combination and warfare on their own employ- 
ment. The railroad kings and others who had amassed 
colossal fortunes by a practice of public piracy, were made 
to contribute their share to the public revenue. Enormous 
wealth, gained by public plunder, became less respectable. 

The American man became sober-minded, less self- 
assertive, less given to brag, less subject to the leading of 
political demagogues, less bellicose. After a period of 
terrible depression, the country entered upon a rising 
course of prosperity. The mind of the statesman did not 
cease to wonder that what he regarded as the ruin of the 
manufactures, regenerated them, and gave new life to 
agriculture. The relative effects of the war upon the two 
countries was almost a parallel to that of France and Ger- 
many after the Prussian conquest. The effect of the 
reduced tariff which the British imposed, was not what 
England looked for. Instead of giving to her our entire 
market, it made the United States her rival v^ s^Jcssx