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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-
By SAMi' koCKWELL REED,
Of the Cincinnati Gazette.
Published by Robert Clarke & Co.
THE WAR OF 1886.
THE SURPRISE WHEN A BRITISH FLEET LAID THE LAKE
CITIES UNDER CONTRIBUTION.
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 the.se 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 MONEY PANIC — THE SURPRISE TO THE FINANCES —
REVENUE ANNIHILATED PUBLIC CREDIT GONE— THE
SURPRISING ENLIGHTENMENT IN THE MILITARY SITUA-
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,
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 WAR OF .
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.
SURPRISING EXPERIENCE OF THE GREAT AMERICAN CON-
TINENTAL POWER — THE OCEAN, TO WHICH WE HAD
TRUSTED FOR DEFENSE, OUR WORST ENEMY OUR
COASTS BLOCKADED — BRITISH SHIPS CAPTURE NEW
YORK, WASHINGTON — ENGLISH PRACTICAL JOKE
BRITISH SHIPS ASCEND THE MISSISSIPPI.
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^
H THE WAR OF 18S6.
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.
THE NATION'S DOWNFALL — IMPOTENCE OF CONGRESS LEG-
ISLATION, AND OF THE MILITARY DICTATOR — PREPARING
FOR DEFENSE AFTER CAPTURE — THE BRITISH OFFER
PEACE THE TERMS — HARD BUT UNAVOIDABLE — THE
LESSON OF PLAYING WAR FOR PARTY CAPITAL A
SADDER AND WISER NATION — REBUILDING FROM THE.
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.
AFTER THE WAR— MILITARY RECONSTRUCTION — CREATION
QF A NATIONAL ARMY THE REPUBLIC BECOMES A
FIRST-CLASS MILITARY POWER RECONSTRUCTION OF
REVENUE AND MONEY ON A SOUND BASIS — INDUSTRIAL
REGENERATION — THE NATION^ DISASTER TURNS TO A
BLESSING — THE REPUBLIC ACHIEVES THE MANUFAC-
TURING EMPIRE OF THE WORLD.
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
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
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
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