OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

The United States of America page 3


Pages: 1 2 <3>

The inevitable difficulties of reconstruction were gravely aggravated by a violent conflict of opinion between the president and Congress. Mr. Lincoln's successor was Andrew Johnson, a man of defective education, and of arbitrary, impracticable temper. Throughout the whole of his presidency the disputes which he unwisely kindled raged hotly, to the hindrance of those measures of restoration which the unhappy condition of the South so urgently craved. The Southern states did not immediately accede to the terms which, the North imposed as the condition of their restoration, to full political privileges. In especial, their assent to the amendment of the Constitution, which raised the negro to the same political level with the white man, was long withheld. It was not till 1870 that President Grant was enabled to announce the fully completed restoration of the Union, which his own success in war had done so much to save.

[The next presidentship - that of Mr. R. B. Hayes - was uneventful. It served, however, the useful purpose of helping-forward the complete amalgamation of North and South, which could only be the work of time. During Mr. Hayes' term of office, the question of the reform of the civil service became prominent. President James Garfield assumed office in 1881, with the avowed intention of dealing firmly and earnestly with that question. Like Lincoln, he was struck down by the hand of an assassin in the midst of his labours. He fell a victim to his reforming zeal. A disappointed place-hunter fired the fatal shot; and the work which he had set before himself was left to other hands.

After having been excluded from power for twenty-three years, the Democrats succeeded in electing Mr. Grover Cleveland as president in 1884. President Cleveland was pledged to reform both of the tariff and of the civil service; but he failed to carry the whole of his own party with him on these points, and when he stood for re-election in 1888, he was defeated by the Republican candidate, General Harrison. The Republican defeat in 1884 had been due to divisions in the party. Before the next election, the malcontents returned to their allegiance, and thus the victory was secured.]

When the war of the rebellion was over, the Northern states resumed with quickened energy their task of industrial development. Their growth was now more rapid than it had been at any previous period of their history. The population, which in 1860 was nearly thirty-two million, increased to thirty-eight million in 1870, and in 1880 to nearly fifty million. America has now a more numerous population than any European state, excepting Russia; and she is growing with vastly greater rapidity. Immigration from Europe now, as always before, helps to build up this mighty power. From free England and despotic Russia, from the sunshine of Italy and the sterile wastes of Iceland, men crowd to her hospitable shores. During the ten years ending in 1887 she received four and a half million strangers, who came to make for themselves homes upon, her soil. A large proportion of these sought the valley of the Mississippi, and the young states in that region doubled and even trebled their population within the ten years. The cities by which the agricultural products of the West pass eastward to the markets of the world increased with unparalleled rapidity. St. Louis rose from one hundred and sixty thousand to three hundred and ten thousand; her great rival Chicago from one hundred and nine thousand to two hundred and ninety-eight thousand. That this progress must long continue is to be anticipated from the fact that as yet scarcely more than one-fifth of the soil of America is under cultivation.

The amount of her surplus products which America can sell to other countries is growing with her population. In 1860 it was sixty million sterling; in 1870 it was ninety million; in 1884 it had risen to one hundred and seventy million. Very different from this is the history of her imports. The Americans seek to be independent of supplies from abroad. A century ago, in the well-remembered words of Lord Chatham, they were not allowed to make so much as a nail for a horse's shoe. Their revenge has been the adoption of a policy of protective duties, under shelter of which all industries shall strike deep root at home, and ultimately enable the country to dispense with foreign, supplies. The system has been maintained at enormous cost, but it is visibly serving the purpose intended. Year by year the imports of America diminish. Once she bought from England goods to the annual value of forty million sterling; now she takes only thirty million. Formerly most of her iron and steel came from England; now her own hound-less stores supply nearly all her wants. Formerly she took largely of our cotton manufactures; now she competes with us successfully in foreign markets. America has one thousand cotton factories and three thousand woollen factories, giving employment to six hundred thousand persons. Her iron-works employ one hundred and forty thousand persons, and her production of pig-iron is three and three-quarter million tons - nearly one-half that of Great Britain. She raises seventy million tons of coal annually, not greatly short of one-half the quantity raised in the United Kingdom.

Russia spends annually forty million sterling on the appliances of war, and three million on the education of her people. America contents herself with a warlike expenditure of ten million, but the total income of her schools is twenty-three million. In spite of this lavish expenditure, she has nearly five million citizens who cannot read. These are nearly all in the Southern states. The native American of the North is seldom without education.

America has no established church, but spontaneous liberality has created an abundant provision for the religious instruction of her people. She has ninety-one thousand congregations, and thirty million worshippers can be accommodated in her religious edifices. The property owned by her denominations is valued at seventy million sterling. England is believed to have about thirty thousand places of worship. State support, largely supplemented as it is by private bounty, has thus clone less for England than voluntary offerings have done for America.

Previous to the rebellion, American vessels carried four-fifths of the commerce of the country; but the extravagant duties and vexatious restrictions ignorantly imposed discouraged shipbuilding, and the Southern privateering led to an extensive transfer of American ships to foreign flags. The international commerce is still carried on mainly - to the extent of seventy per cent.' - in foreign bottoms. The number of ships in the commercial navy is under twenty-four thousand, with a tonnage of four million and a quarter. All but five thousand four hundred are sail-ships.

Long ago America was a nation without debt, and without other financial trouble than that which arose from a revenue larger than she was able to spend. But during the four years of war she ran up with unprecedented rapidity a debt of nearly six hundred million pounds, most of it contracted on hard terms, for money was dear, and her credit was not good. But no sooner had the war ceased than the Americans addressed themselves to the task of paying their debt. They have reduced it now to about three hundred and thirty-five million, and have further materially diminished its burden by availing themselves of their improved credit to borrow on easier terms. Their army is only twenty-five thousand strong, and the warlike expenditure of the country is therefore light. The entire national expenditure, which has been for some years increasing, is still only sixty-two million sterling, and nearly one-third of this is for interest on debt. America is the only great power in the world which does not consume the substance of her people by upholding huge military establishments in time of peace.

<<< Previous page <<<
Pages: 1 2 <3>

Pictures for The United States of America page 3


Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About