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372. Summary.- President Grant's administration was marked (1) by the completion of the first railroad across the continent; (2) by the admission to Congress of representatives of all the seceded states; (3) by an important treaty with England; (4) by terrible fires West and East, destroying many millions of property ; (5) by a severe business panic; and (6) by the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia.
RUTHERFORD B. HAYES.
373. Hayes's Administration (Nineteenth President, One Term, 1877-1881); Withdrawal of Troops from the South ; Railroad and Coal Strikes. - President Hayes ? believed that there would never be permanent peace at the South until the people of that section were allowed to manage their own affairs without the interference of the national government. He therefore withdrew the United States troops from that part of the country, trusting that the whites and the blacks would come to an understanding between themselves. From that time forward the “ solid South”. that is, the solid white vote of the South got the control, and the negro ceased to govern. It was a great relief to the whole country to have the strife over, and the President's action, though severely condemned by many of his party, was heartily approved by the great mass of the people.
In the summer (1877), extensive railroad strikes occurred throughout the Northern States west of New England. Later,
1 Rutherford B. Hayes was born in Ohio in 1822. He studied law, and settled in Cincinnati. During the Civil War he became a brigadier-general in the Union army. After the war he was twice elected governor of Ohio. In 1876 he was elected President by the Republicans (William A. Wheeler of New York, VicePresident) over Samuel J. Tilden of New York and Thomas A. Hendricks of Indiana, the Democratic candidates. Mr. Hayes had but one majority of the electoral votes over his opponent. The Democrats maintained that the election was not fairly conducted, and that many Democratic votes in the South had been thrown out by those whose duty it was to count them. Congress created an Electoral Commission composed of ten members of Congress and five Justices of the Supreme Court, to decide the matter. After careful investigation of the facts, they finally decided in favor of Mr. Hayes, and he was therefore declared duly elected.
DEEPENING THE MOUTH OF THE MISSISSIPPI.
many Pennsylvania coal-miners joined the strike. In all about a hundred and fifty thousand men stopped work. In Pittsburgh a mob of “roughs" and “tramps" took advantage of the strike to plunder freight-cars, and finally to set fire to the railroad machine-shops and other buildings, destroying nearly $10,000,000 of property.
The President was finally obliged to send troops to Pittsburgh to prevent further destruction.
374. Deepening the Chief Mouth of the Mississippi. – During President Hayes's administration, the attention of Congress was particularly called to the condition of the Lower Mississippi. That great river is constantly bringing down vast quantities of sand and mud, which gradually fill up the mouths of the stream."
The sandbar thus formed had increased so that it finally blocked up the passage to such an extent that large and heavily loaded ships could pass over it only with the greatest difficulty. On one occasion over fifty vessels were seen lying north of the bar, waiting for an opportunity to get to sea. Sometimes they were delayed there for days, or weeks, even, and had at last to be at great expense, paying steam tug-boats to haul them through.
Both the national government and the state of Louisiana had spent many millions trying to remove the obstructions, but they had met with only a partial degree of success.
In 1875 Captain Eads, an engineer of St. Louis, the builder of the great steel arch bridge across the Mississippi at that point, undertook to open the mouth of the river. His plan was a most ingenious one. He had noticed that where the river was narrow the current was strong, and so deposited but little mud to fill up the channel. He said to himself, By building new banks on each side, near the mouth of the river, I can narrow the channel and increase the force of the current to such a degree that it will carry all the sand and mud out to sea. Then, if the bar is once dredged out, it will never form again.
1 The Mississippi has three principal mouths, of which that called the “South west Pass " is the most important,
Congress reluctantly gave him permission to try the experiment He set to work, and in four years proved the truth of his idea. The Mississippi, like a well-behaved river, now sweeps out its own channel, and large ocean steamers can pass up to New Orleans, or out to sea, without difficulty or expense. The saving in a single year in this way amounts to nearly two millions of dollars. Captain Eads's great work has been of immense benefit, for the foreign commerce of New Orleans is larger by far than that of any other city in the South."
375. United States Paper Money becomes as Good as Gold ; Effect on the National Debt. — The paper money called “greenbacks”? which the government issued during the Civil War, and with which it paid off a good share of its debt, was worth less than gold. At one time (the summer of 1864), it was worth so much less that it took nearly three dollars in
greenbacks” to purchase as much as a single dollar in gold would do. That meant that at that time people had so little confidence in the power of the government to do as it agreed that a paper promise of payment stamped “one dollar” was worth only about thirty-five cents.
But after the war the feeling changed, especially as the government began at once to pay off its debt.3
On this account, paper money rose steadily in value, until at last a “greenback ” dollar would buy quite as much as a gold dollar.
1 For an interesting account of Captain Eads's work, see Scribner's Magazine, vol. xix., “ The Mississippi Jetties" (illustrated).
2 “Greenbacks": they were so called because the backs of the bills were printed largely in green ink.
3 For some time before 1877, silver dollars had not been in use in the United States. In 1877 Congress passed the “ Bland Silver Bill,” which ordered the coinage of large sums in silver dollars of 412) grains weight, and provided that they might be used in payment of debts by the government. As these dollars were worth then only about ninety-two cents, President Hayes vetoed the bill, on the ground that the government would be guilty of dishonesty and "bad faith" if it paid its debts in such coin. Congress, however, passed the bill over the President's veto, and it became law. Notwithstanding this law, the credit of the government continued to improve until its notes were as good as gold.
GARFIELD'S AND ARTHUR'S ADMINISTRATIONS.
Finally, on New Year's Day, 1879, the Treasurer of the United States stood ready to give gold to those who preferred it to “greenbacks." This had such an effect in strengthening the credit of the government that it was now able to borrow all the money it wanted to meet the debt as it fell due, at very low rates of interest.
376. Summary. - The four most important events of Mr. Hayes's presidency were: (1) His withdrawal of troops from the South ; (2) the great railroad and coal strikes ; (3) the deepening of the mouth of the Mississippi ; (4) the reduction of the expenses of the government in paying interest on its debt.
JAMES A. GARFIELD AND CHESTER A. ARTHUR.
377. Garfield's and Arthur's Administrations (Twentieth and Twenty-First Presidents, One Term, 1881-1885); Assassination of the President; Civil Service Reform. — In the summer following his inauguration, President Garfield' was shot by a disappointed office-seeker named Guiteau. He died in the autumn from the effects of the wound, and Vice-President Arthur became President.
The murder of Garfield led to an attempt on the part of Congress to relieve the President from the necessity of appointing
1 James A. Garfield was born in Ohio in 1831; died, 1881. His early life, like that of Abraham Lincoln, was passed in hardship and poverty, in a part of the country then called the “ Wilderness.”
Like Lincoln, he rose above all difficulties, and made his own way by the force and integrity of his character. By dint of hard work, he fitted himself for college, and graduated at Williams College, Massachusetts, with distinction. When the war broke out, he entered the Union army, and was promoted, for his services at the battle of Chickamauga, to the rank of major-general. In December, 1863, he was elected to ongress, and later, became United States Senator.
In 1880 he was elected President (Chester A. Arthur of New York, Vice-President) over General W. S. Hancock of Pennsylvania and William H. English of Indiana, the Democratic candidates. President Garfield was shot by Charles J. Guiteau, July 2, 1881. He died September 19. Vice-President Arthur then became President.
2 Guiteau was convicted of the murder, and hanged.
thousands of persons to government offices merely as a reward for their having worked, or spent money, to get him elected.
A law called the Civil Service Act was passed (1883) which gave the President power to appoint commissioners to examine all persons applying for the lower grade of offices, and to recommend such as they thought showed themselves best fitted to do the work. Out of the list they furnish, the President can then make his selection.
This method, which has received the name of Civil Service Reform, takes off of the President's hands (if he sees fit to use it) a vast amount of very laborious work. It also saves his time, and spares him the vexation of having to listen to that class
- found even among office-seekers who cry night and day, like the beggars of Italy, “Give !” “Give !"
President Arthur gladly appointed the Civil Service Commissioners; and it is hoped that in time all appointments to the lower class of government offices will be made by examination thus giving an equal chance to all.
378. Overflow of the Mississippi; the East River Suspension Bridge ; Cheap Postage. — In the spring of 1882 the Mississippi overflowed its banks in Louisiana, tearing up and washing away railroads and farm-houses, and doing immense damage to cotton and sugar plantations. Over a hundred thousand persons were made homeless; and if Congress had not sent cargoes of food to their relief, great numbers of destitute people would have died from starvation. The abundant aid given showed that the wealth of the country had now become so great that it
1 In 1881 there were 3400 government clerks and other persons employed in the Treasury Department at Washington. The whole number of government offices (including post-offices) was then estimated at about 140,000. This number is, of course, constantly increasing. The Civil Service Reform aims to fill the greater part of these offices by competitive examination, and to make their tenure permanent during good behavior, unless some good reason arises for demanding a change.
2 Civil service: all persons in the employ of the government outside of the army and navy (that is, outside of military service) are said to be in the civil service.
The necessity for civil service reform has already been considered in Paragraphs 260 and 261.