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United States (1783-1898).

America; Australasia.
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the United States, the great Republic of the West, is the most marvellous instance in the world's history of the mainly peaceful development of a mighty nation from revolted colonies. The original 13 States, forming a territory that was a mere strip of the Atlantic coast, have now become 45 States, one District (Columbia, the seat of government, containing Washington), and 5 "Territories," with a total area exceeding 3,500,000 square miles, and a population, in 1898, fairly estimated at 70,000,000. This magnificent result is due to free institutions and a vast territory of fertile soil, both encouraging the advent of immigrants from Europe; to the possession of great mineral wealth; and to the energy, enterprise, and ingenuity of a people who, at first mainly of British stock, have blended therewith other elements, and developed a new type of character and civilisation. One of their greatest modern speakers, Mr. Chauncey Depew, delivering the Columbian oration at Chicago in October, 1892, dwelt with legitimate pride on the marvellous progress and widespread influence of his country, declaring that "the constitution and government had now passed the period of experiment, after a hundred years of successful trial, and their demonstrated permanency and power were revolutionising the governments of the world. England of the Mayflower and of James II., of George III. and of Lord North, had enlarged her suffrage, and was to-day animated and governed by the democratic spirit. Anarchists and Socialists had taken no root, and made no converts, on American soil. Religion had flourished, and a living and practical Christianity was the characteristic of the people." The glorious flag of the stars and stripes began to wave (long may it float, the symbol of freedom, in the free breezes of heaven!) on June 14th, 1777, by vote of Congress; it was recognised as the flag of a new independent nation on September 3rd, 1783, by the Treaty of Versailles concluded between Great Britain, the United States, France, and Spain. Four years later, after long deliberation at Philadelphia, the existing well-known constitution was signed, and it came into operation in March, 1789, with George Washington as the first President, and John Adams as Vice-President. After two terms of office, the chief founder of the country's independence declined to serve for a third period, and retired into private life with the high esteem of the best men throughout the civilised world, leaving his country established on a firm basis of credit, with a foreign policy which kept the new republic free from all European alliances. A great trade was being carried on with Great Britain, the States importing manufactured goods, and exporting raw cotton for British mills, at a price made lower by the ingenious invention, in 1793, of the "cotton-gin" for separating the fibre from the seed. This improvement, substituting the easy and rapid work of a machine for a slow and toilsome process of hand-labour, was a great event in the history of the States, due to Eli Whitney, a native of Massachusetts. In 1800, under the rule of the very honest and energetic John Adams, the seat of government was transferred from New York to Washington. Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee had become States of the Union under Washington's presidency. Under Thomas Jefferson (two terms, 1801-1809) Ohio was admitted in the usual way, and the area of the original "United States" was more than doubled by the purchase from France of Louisiana, including a vague vast territory to the north and west of the present State.

The war with Great Britain, from 1812 till 1815, was waged under the presidency of James Madison, in power for two terms (1809-1817). The ill-feeling which caused this grievous contest between kindred nations was a matter of long growth. In 1806 and 1807, as we have seen, British "Orders in Council" were aimed at the trading under neutral flags which had replaced the direct French and Spanish colonial traffic with Europe, when the British cruisers had swept that trade from the seas. The United States had thereby gained, as a neutral nation, a large and profitable carrying-trade between European countries at war with Great Britain and the colonies of those Powers. The effect of the "Orders" on the commerce of the States was very serious, and her people were also greatly and justly irritated by the searching of American vessels for sailors of British nationality who might be deserters from our navy, or liable to service under the prevailing system of "impressment" by which the British fleet was manned. In 1809 the government passed a "non-importation" Act as regarded British goods, and made preparations for war. The chief events of the struggle are well known: the capture of several British frigates by American vessels of the same nominal class; the victory of the British Shannon over the Chesapeake in June, 1813; the attacks made on the American seaboard, with serious damage to the United States navy, in Maine and Louisiana; the capture of Washington, after fighting with American militia, by British veterans fresh from the Peninsular War, and the vandalism displayed by the victors in burning the Capitol and other buildings; the failure of an expedition against Baltimore; the disastrous repulse of our attack on New Orleans, with the loss of 2,000 brave men under General Pakenham, himself mortally wounded. It is lamentable to remember that, a fortnight before this useless sacrifice of life, peace had been concluded, in Europe, by the Treaty of Ghent. There was no Atlantic cable to flash the welcome news. The rights of neutrals and the British "right of search" were not even mentioned in the articles of the treaty, and thousands of men, and many millions of money, had been expended on each side, to prove only that war between two such nations is foolish, wicked, and suicidal. Both great communities were to learn wisdom in the future. As matters stood, American trade had been ruined for a long period in the capture of most of her mercantile marine, the insolvency of most of her commercial class of citizens, and the reduction of her export-trade to one-twelfth of its former amount. On the whole, the war increased the reputation of the States for power and public spirit in defence of her coasts against a nation of greatly superior military and naval force. The country was raised in the estimation of the world, and peace soon brought revived prosperity for an energetic people.

Before dealing with the internal history, it is well to note the relations between Great Britain and the United States from 1815 until the present day. For over 80 years there has been no further armed conflict, but negotiation or arbitration has settled every dispute. If high officials of the States - perhaps desiring to conciliate the "Irish vote," or, in other words, the political support of some millions of citizens who have, in their own persons, or for the sake of their ancestors, ample reason for hostility to Great Britain on account of past misery due to misrule and "landlordism" - have, from time to time, indulged in the amusement described, in picturesque slang, as "twisting the British lion's tail," the British public and press, or a large section of them, have, on their side, been guilty of an arrogant demeanour, and of contemptuous allusions, largely due to misconception, to American feelings, tastes, and institutions. In every serious position of affairs the best part of the societies most fairly representing constitutional monarchy and republicanism have displayed a good feeling which yearly renders less likely any disturbance of peace. In August, 1842, there was a dispute concerning the boundary between Canada and the State of Maine. The treaty concluded by Lord Ashburton made a fair and friendly settlement of this difficulty, conceding a larger half of the disputed territory to the States, and obtaining a better military frontier for Canada. In 1843 a satisfactory settlement was made regarding the action of British cruisers in searching, for slaves, vessels bearing the American flag. Congress agreed that the honour of that flag "demanded that it should not be used by others to cover an iniquitous traffic," and the British government undertook to pay compensation for damage or delay if really American ships were interfered with when the captains of our cruisers demanded the production of a ship's papers in proof of nationality. In 1846 the Oregon Treaty, concerning a great territory on the Pacific coast, settled a difficulty of long standing as to the boundary between the States and the territory afterwards known as British Columbia. Some strong language had been used both by the American President (Polk) and Sir Robert Peel, the British premier, but the matter ended, as usual, in a compromise. In 1856, during the Crimean War, the American government dismissed not only some of our consuls, but Mr. Crampton, the British minister at Washington, on the ground that they had been aware of violations of the municipal law of the States by British agents recruiting there for the contest in Russia. The British prime-minister, Lord Palmerston, did himself honour by making an apology to the United States government, and putting an end to the work of the enlisting agents, as soon as he found that there had been an actual infringement of American law. In 1860 the British sovereign and people were gratified by the warm welcome accorded in some of the great cities of the States to the Prince of Wales, travelling as a private gentleman, in charge of the Colonial Secretary, the duke of Newcastle. The eminent jurist and statesman, Mr. Charles Sumner, remarked to the duke that "he was carrying home to Great Britain an unwritten treaty of amity and alliance between two great nations," and President Buchanan and the Queen exchanged letters couched in the most friendly terms.

The amicable feeling thus represented was soon to be put to very severe tests. In an early stage of the great civil war in the States, the Federal cruiser San Jacinto stopped the British mail-steamer Trent, in the Bahama Channel, by firing a shot across her bows, and sent on board an armed party, who carried off Mr. Slidell and Mr. Mason, envoys of the Confederate States to Europe. This act, the Trent being a neutral vessel, was a flagrant breach of international law, and the utmost indignation was aroused in Great Britain by the insult to our flag. Captain Wilkes, the commander of the San Jacinto was commended by the Federal Secretary of the Navy, and thanked by a vote of Congress, but President Lincoln, and Mr. Seward, the Secretary of State, on the demand of Lord Palmerston, surrendered the prisoners on January 1st, 1862, within a few days of their capture, and war was thus again averted by the prompt and sensible recognition of right. It is interesting to know that this reparation, on the part of the Federal government, was largely due to the fact that the foreign ministers of France, Austria, Prussia, and Russia sent communications to President Lincoln denouncing the arrest of the Confederate envoys as unjustifiable, and urging their immediate release, and that this action of the European Powers was caused by Queen Victoria's insisting, against the views of her ministers, that the opinion of those Powers should be invited simultaneously with the dispatch to America of the demand for surrender. The government at Washington was thus enabled to escape from an untenable position without humiliation, and a war was prevented which would have changed the course of history by entailing the disruption of the American Union, and sowing the seeds of undying enmity between Great Britain and the progressive and powerful Federal or Northern States. In those States much bitter feeling was aroused by the moral support, couched in no moderate terms, accorded in Great Britain to the Confederates by the "upper classes," or "society," as represented by the Times, the Saturday Review, and other leading papers. Facts compelled the British government to recognise the Confederate States as "belligerents," instead of mere "rebels," but the ministry paid no heed to Louis Napoleon, emperor of the French, when he desired them to join with him in recognising the Southern (Confederate) States as a government and a nation. The representatives of British democracy, and many of our ablest politicians, believed in and hoped for the success of the Federals in the mighty struggle.

We need not dwell at any length on the case of the Alabama, Florida, and three other Confederate privateers, constructed in British yards, and allowed to escape to sea, not through any guilty connivance on the part of British officials, but through faulty delay to arrest and detain them under the provisions of the Foreign Enlistment Act. The Alabama was foremost, among those vessels, in preying upon Federal commerce, until her career was ended, in June, 1864, by her sinking, outside Cherbourg, after an hour's fight with the Federal cruiser Kearsarge. She had destroyed Federal property worth nearly 1,000,000 pounds sterling, in addition to the pecuniary harm done to American (Northern) merchants and shipowners through the needful payment of heavy insurance for "war-risks," and through the loss of freights transferred by shippers to neutral flags. When the Federal cause triumphed, British ministers, for some years, declined to recognise American claims for compensation in regard to mischief done by the Alabama and her consorts, but in 1871, when Mr. Gladstone was prime-minister, the Treaty of Washington caused those claims to be submitted to arbitration at Geneva, before a tribunal of five gentlemen appointed by the Queen, the President of the United States, the King of Italy, the Swiss President, and the Emperor of Brazil. In June, 1872, the court awarded to the United States the sum of about 3,250,000 pounds sterling in payment of compensation for all losses to American commerce, and as a final settlement of all claims. That sum, which was found to be in excess of the claims of American merchants, as afterwards proved in the court appointed by Congress, was paid over by this country, and thus another international question was peacefully, wisely, justly, and honourably settled, an example to all future generations of men.

In 1893 the Behring Sea Arbitration, conducted before a tribunal sitting in Paris, settled matters in dispute between Great Britain and the States concerning the seal-fishery in the waters on the adjacent coasts of north-western America and north-eastern Asia. The British counsel, Sir Charles Russell, Attorney-General in Mr. Gladstone's fourth and last ministry, an advocate of the highest rank who became Lord Russell, Chief-Justice of England, dwelt in eloquent terms on the "weighty moral significance" of that submission to arbitration on the part of two great Powers, "one a representative of the civilisation of the Old World, great in its extent of dominion, greater still in its long-enduring traditions of well-ordered liberty, and in the stability of its institutions; the other a young but stalwart member of the family of nations, great also in its extent of territory, in the almost boundless resources at its command; great too in the genius and enterprise of its people, and possessing enormous potentialities for good in the future of the human race." These noble words were happily followed, in the interests of peace on earth and goodwill amongst men, by a decision which, to quote the writer's own words in another work, "saved the honour, and satisfied the wishes, of all reasonable men in the two great kindred nations who had again set the world a noble example of self-restraint and sound judgment in seeking wiser and better modes of settling disputes than a resort to the always violent and cruel, and often unjust, arbitrament of battle."

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Pictures for United States (1783-1898).

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