A Celebration of Women Writers

"Part VII, Chapter 93." by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall (1876-)
From: This country of ours; the story of the United States by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall (1876-) New York, George H. Doran company, 1917.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


CHAPTER 93
GRANT–A PEACEFUL VICTORY

IN 1869 General Grant, who had made such a great name for himself during the Civil War, became President. Grant was a brave and honest soldier. He knew little however about politics. But now that Lincoln was gone the people loved him better than any other man. So he became President.

 

His was a simple trusting soul. He found it hard to believe evil of any one, and he was easily misled by men who sought not their country's good, but their own gain. So mistakes were made during his Presidency. But these may be forgotten while men must always remember his greatness as a soldier, and his nobleness as a victor. He helped to bring peace to his country, and like his great leader he tried after war was past to bind up the nation's wounds.

 

When Grant came into power the echoes of the great war were still heard. The South had not yet returned into peaceful union with the North, and there was an unsettled quarrel with Britain. The quarrel arose in this way. During the Civil War the British had allowed the Confederates to build ships in Britain; these ships had afterwards sailed out from British ports, and had done a great deal of damage to Union shipping.

The Alabama Claims

The British had declared themselves neutral. That is, they had declared that they would take neither one side nor the other. But, said the Americans, in allowing Confederate ships to be built in Britain, the British had taken the Confederate side, and had committed a breach of neutrality. And for the damage done to their ships the Americans now claimed recompense from the British Government. The ship which had done the most damage was called the Alabama and from this the claims made by America were called the Alabama Claims.

 

At first, however, the British refused to consider the claims at all. For years letters went to and fro between the two governments, and as the British still refused to settle the matter, feeling in America began to run high.

 

But at length the British consented to talk the matter over, and a commission of five British and five Americans met at Washington. After sitting for two months this commission formed what is known as the Washington Treaty. By this Treaty it was arranged that the Alabama Claims should be decided by arbitration. A Court of Arbitration was to be formed of five men; and of this court the President of the United States, the Queen of England, the King of Italy, the President of Switzerland, and the Emperor of Brazil, were each to choose a member.

The Washington Treaty, 1871

Court of Arbitration, 1871-2

The men chosen by these rulers met at Geneva in Switzerland, and after discussing the matter for a long time they decided that Britain had been to blame, and must pay the United States fifteen million five hundred thousand dollars. Thus the matter was settled in a peaceful way. Fifty years before, a like quarrel might have led to war between the two countries. Even at this time, with less wise leadership on either side, it might have come to war. But war was avoided and a great victory for peace was won.

The reward

Besides the Alabama Claims the last dispute about boundaries between the United States and Canada was settled at this time. This also was settled by arbitration, the new-made German Emperor being chosen as arbiter. "This," said President Grant, "leaves us for the first time in the history of the United States as a nation, without a question of disputed boundary between our territory and the possessions of Great Britain."

 

Grant was twice chosen as President and it was during his second term that Colorado was admitted to the Union as the thirty-eighth state. The new state was formed partly out of the Mexican Concession, partly out of the Louisiana Purchase, and was named after the great river Colorado, two branches of which flow through it. It was admitted as a state in August, 1876.

Colorado admitted as a state, 1876

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

This book has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK Initiative at the
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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom