« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
any way to a superior officer, absence from parade, aiding the enemy or corresponding with him, making known watchwords, duelling, and improper behavior at public worship, and sundry other offences against military good conduct. They provide rules for enlistment, discharging and granting furloughs to the men; for courts-martial, and for the disposal of the property of deceased soldiers; and they prescribe the punishments for various offences. The articles of war must be read publicly at least once in every six months to every regiment and troop in the army.
In 1802 an act of Congress founded this academy, and placed it at West Point, on the western side of the Hudson River, about fifty miles from the city of New York. Begun on a small scale, and for some years lingering in comparative obscurity, after a while it attracted the attention of the people and of Congress, and has gradually grown into one of the very best organized and most efficient of the educational institutions of the country. For its own particular purpose, which is the training of young men to become officers in the army, it has, of course, no competitor in this country. It has proved its usefulness in this respect by the excellent officers whom it has educated. But the education which it gives is complete and thorough; and many of its graduates have left the military service, and become eminent and useful in various occupations in civil life.
Every State is entitled to send as many students as it has senators and representatives in Congress, and every Territory, and the District of Columbia, may send one. Usually the representatives nominate the students, and the President appoints them. Of late a custom has been introduced, whereby a representative, turn to nominate comes, calls together a board of competent examiners, and submits all who offer themselves as candidates to a competitive examination, and gives to the President the name of him who is most approved by the board. There may be exceptional cases, where the representative would do well to nominate without reference to such a board. But the custom is a good one, and it may be hoped that it will become universal. In addition to those appointed from the congressional districts, the President appoints ten at large, or from where he will.
THE NAVAL ACADEMY
Is now established in Annapolis, in Maryland. Its purpose is to educate students to become officers in the nary. The education
of the pupils is thorough, but of course is especially directed to accomplish the special purpose of the school. Still this school, like the army school, has sent out into civil life men who have distinguished themselves in various ways. The appointment to students in this academy is, like that of the military school, founded mainly on the congressional districts.
The students in both of these schools are entirely supported by the government. The examinations are frequent, and, without being too severe, are real; and no one can graduate without industry and fidelity to duty. Still, the number of students in both schools is usually in excess of the demands of the army and navy; and hence it is that the benefits of the excellent education they give are not confined to them, but are diffused through the country.
WARS OF THIS COUNTRY.
The war of Independence cannot be called a war of this nation, but rather a war by which we became a nation. Beginning with the first blood shed, on the 19th of April, 1775, it continued eight years, when it was terminated by the cessation of hostilities, proclaimed 19th of April, 1783, and the treaty of peace and independence, signed the 3d of September following.
We may call the difficulty with France, which occurred some twelve or fifteen years after our peace with England, an imperfect war. France counted too much on our sympathy and active support in her contest with England. She had helped us, and wanted us to help her; and there were so many in this country who desired to gratify the wishes of France, that it required the whole influence of Washington, aided by our wisest and strongest men, to avert a war with England. Then France was angry, and assumed an offensive, not to say hostile, attitude; and now it needed all that our best and wisest men could do to prevent a war with that country. France authorized the capture of American vessels under certain circumstances; we, in return, authorized the capture of French vessels, and there were some conflicts on the ocean. But finally the war-cloud was dispersed, and war was averted.
THE SECOND WAR.
This, again, might seem hardly to deserve so large a name. But Tripoli, Morocco, and Algiers claimed the right of exacting tribute from all who navigated the Mediterranean Sea. Other nations submitted to it. Our government would not. They took some of our merchant ships, and imprisoned the seamen. In 1801 the Pacha of Tripoli declared war against us. We sent a navy into the Med. iterranean, under command of Commodore Preble, and succeeded in putting a stop to these piracies, so far, at least, as concerned us.
THE THIRD WAR.
This was a war with England. Many causes of mutual offence and hostility had been operating upon both nations for some years. At length, in 1812, war was declared. The immediate and ostensible cause was a claim on the part of the British government to stop our ships, whether private or public, board and search them, and take out seamen who had deserted from their vessels, and, being subjects of the British government, had emigrated to this country. This claim that government enforced in many instances, some of which were attended with peculiarly offensive circumstances. Our government denied this right, claiming that our flag protected those who sailed under it. So we went to war, which lasted until the 24th of December, 1814, when a treaty of peace was signed at Ghent, in Germany, where our commissioners had met the British commissioners. Had there been an ocean telegraph in those days, it would have prevented the bloody battle of New Orleans, in which, on the 8th of January, 1815, Jackson defeated the English. Some naval battles were fought afterwards by ships which had not heard of the peace. The remarkable thing about the treaty of peace was, that it included a settlement of none of the great questions on which we had gone to war. It was, nominally, just a peace between nations who were weary of fighting. But, in fact, the war itself had determined these questions in our favor; for England has never since enforced or advanced the right to search our vessels for her seamen and subjects, and, it may safely be asserted, never will.
THE FOURTH WAR.
This was a war with Mexico. The Mexican State of Texas revolted from Mexico. We helped Texas, and it established its independence. Then it called upon our government to protect it against Mexico. This our government was very willing to do, and sent an army into the western part of the Territory of Texas, nominally to protect it from invasion. There a battle was fought on the 26th of April, 1846. Other battles followed; and on the 12th of May Congress passed an act, not declaring war, but declaring that war actually existed between this country and Mexico, and asserting, in substance, that the war had been brought on by Mex. ico; and on the next day President Polk issued his proclamation
In March, 1847, General Scott took command, and overran Mexico, capturing her chief cities, and among them the capital. The whole country was in our power, and virtually in our possession. Peace was made by a treaty on the 21 of February, 1848, by which we retained, as a part of our country, New Mexico and California. Texas had already been admitted as a State in 1845. This war was honorable to our arms. But whether this attack upon a feeble neighbor, and taking from her nearly half of her territory, was honorable to our country and to our government, may be questioned. But to this war we owe the possession of California, the peculiar value of which territory was then unknown.
THE FIFTH WAR.
This war is still in everybody's recollection. It was the war between the United States of America and the Confederate States. It began by the attack on Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, on the 12th of April, 1861, and continued for four years, when, on the 8th of April, 1865, Lee surrendered to Grant. There was no declaration of war, no treaty of peace. It was a CIVIL WAR. It was fought only between parties and regions of the same country. And yet it was the greatest war ever waged on earth, whether we measure it by the extent of country over which it reached, or by its enormous expenditure of treasure and of life; for nearly a million of lives were lost and ten thousand millions of dollars expended. It was a war between the States which permitted slavery and those which did not. It resulted in the extinction of slavery throughout the country; and at this day, in every part of the land, there is no difference in law between the white race and the black race.
POWER TO BORROW MONEY.
Congress has power “to borrow money on the credit of the United States.” As the world now goes, it was perhaps necessary that Congress should have this power, and perhaps necessary that Congress should exercise this power. But the whole business of running in debt, whether for a man or a nation, is a dangerous thing. National indebtedness was unknown in ancient times; and only within a century or two has it grown into its present enormous magnitude. England set the example; and its national debt seemed a century ago to cautious men an intolerable burden, when it was hardly more than the interest which is now paid annually. The present debt of that country is now but little less than four thousand millions of dollars; and some of their wisest men have said that the idea of ever paying it is, in fact,, abandoned, nothing being hoped or attempted but such a continuation of the prosperity of the country as shall enable it to sustain the taxation necessary to pay the interest. Even that has become of late years problematical. If the commerce and manufactures of those islands should receive any material check, the necessary taxation would become intolerable, and would no longer be borne. Disguise it in whatever ways may be devised, the taxation to pay the interest of a national debt is just so much contributed by the wages of labor and the profits of business, and the food drawn from the land.
How is it in our own country? We have always maintained not only the purpose, but the effort, to pay it off. In the years 1835 and 1836 our national debt was paid in full (excepting a trifling amount, which for special reasons remained some time longer unpaid); but it began to grow again, and not very slowly. The late war caused an enormous increase of the debt, — from $88,498,000 to $2,757,253,000. But to the honor of our country be it said, that, on the return of peace, measures were at once adopted not merely to pay the interest, but gradually, and not very slowly, to pay the principal. It has already been reduced from the sum last mentioned, which was the amount of the debt on the 1st of July, 1865, and the highest amount reached during the war, to $2,141,833,000.
It is not to be denied, however, that efforts by some men have been made not only to withhold payment of the promised interest, but to give up all endeavor to pay the principal. As yet they have not succeeded. It may be hoped they will never succeed. Heavy as the burden is, we can bear it better than the heavier burden of national disgrace. Let us preserve our nation's honor by national honesty; for if we were moved even by the lower motives, we might still see that national discredit would be a great national loss. Let us try to lift this burden off the nation as soon as we can, without excessive effort, that it may not press as a permanent misfortune upon our posterity. A dim feeling that “posterity has done nothing for us, why should we do so much for posterity,” may enter some minds, and more perhaps than are conscious of it. But our forefathers did every thing for us. To their wisdom, their efforts, their Bacrifices, we owe all we have and all we are. We can repay our debt to them only by acting for posterity as they did for us.