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ture. Belligerent nations, their own shipping being liable to capture, will be forced to take this step to prevent their carrying trade passing into the hands of the neutral powers. At present, a very large percentage of our exports is shipped to Europe in foreign bottoms. A war breaking out there would throw the principal part of this to us, as being neutral, provided we showed ourselves willing and able to protect our ships from illegal exactions and capture. The embargo act of 1807 could hardly be repeated in 1880, and the other alternative would be to strengthen the Navy; but if we begin to make preparations during a foreign war, and any preparation in the present state of our Navy would be extraordinary, it would very likely, if not considered a casus belli by one of the combatants, be thought unfriendly at least, and apt to give rise to future unfriendly relations. In the hopes, then, of regaining our own carrying trade at the earliest opportunity, we ought to maintain such a naval force that, upon the breaking out of war between foreign nations, we should be able, without extraordinary exertions, to send enough men-of-war to act as convoys to our merchant vessels in all parts of the world. And by doing this, in addition to the advantage gained from announcing our intentions beforehand, we would have the satisfaction of knowing that we were at the same time providing the best safeguard against a repetition of the difficulties which led to the wars of 1798 and 1812.
In fine, though I cannot claim to have exhausted the subject, I trust I have said enough to show that the unsettled condition of society in the less civilized parts of the world ; the depressed state of our maritime interests; the enforcement of the principles of the Monroe Doctrine and of our neutral rights, all demand the maintenance of a strong naval force, and I now purpose inquiring to what extent the present force maintained by the United States answers to that description.
It may be gathered from my preceding remarks that I do not consider the present condition of the matériel of the Navy one from the contemplation of which much satisfaction can be derived. Even the Honorable Secretary of the Navy, who, from his office, is expected to view all naval short-comings through a roseate atmosphere, says in his last annual report, “The largest part of the Navy, however, is composed of vessels of the old types, and while some of them possess excellent qualities and are equal to any in the world, of the same types,
yet the Navy as a whole cannot be brought up to the modern standard of naval architecture until we shall avail ourselves of existing improvements."
The men-of-war of the present day are so far superior to those of the last century that it is scarcely to be doubted that two or three of them could defy the combined navies that fought under and against Nelson. In fact, owing to the increased power of maneuvring due to the introduction of the twin screw; to the greater resistance to projectiles on account of the increased thickness of the armor in which they are clad ; and to the enormously increased range and destructive power of the ordnance they carry, the development, since the first were built twenty years ago, has been wonderful. A swift, armored ship, with heavy guns and skilful gunners, is nearly the equal if not the superior of the fort, which affords a stationary target, and moreover some of the recently constructed foreign men-of-war are to carry heavier guns than are mounted in any fort in the world.
Let us suppose now that the United States should become a belligerent, and the record of the few past years shows that this is by no means an impossible hypothesis. In such a case the war would necessarily at first be carried on at sea. And here let me say, that for some reasons, I think the part which the Navy took in the late war between the Northern and Southern states, though so highly creditable to the skill and courage of the personnel, was perhaps as great a misfortune as could have befallen it: for the nation generally is firmly persuaded that it has at any time like Glendower but to call spirits from the vasty deep, and a navy will appear. It is perhaps unnecessary to point out that the Southern states had no navy and that in any foreign war in which the United States might become involved, the conditions would be entirely different. The construction of armored sea-going men-ofwar, requires in addition to time, skilled workmen, and larger rolling mills than are now to be found in the United States; and, besides, the modern men-of-war are so different from those we now possess, both in management and in the ordnance they carry, that long practice would be required before they could be skillfully maneuvred, and careful training would be necessary to prevent the mechanism of the guns and carriages becoming disabled, in the baste and excitement of action, by the manipulation of inexperienced gunners. Notwithstanding these considerations, we go on year after year, blindly trusting our naval defences to a navy, “the largest part of which is composed of vessels of the old types" !
The non-professional enquirer, upon learning that there are one hundred and forty two vessels composing the Navy of the United States, is apt to be too easily deceived by the figures. Let us look over the list, and, striking off those which are virtually worthless for war purposes, find out what really constitutes our naval force. In the first place twenty seven tugs and twenty two sailing vessels must be deducted from the one hundred and forty two, leaving ninety three to be accounted for. Of these ninety three, sixty seven are steamers of all classes, twenty four are iron-clad batteries or monitors, and two are torpedo boats. Of the sixty seven steamers, four are on the stocks, never having been launched, eight are old paddle wheel boats, seventeen of various classes are in different stages of decay, but principally so rotten as to be unworthy of repair, one is a tug converted into a gunboat and another is a despatch vessel; all of which should be deducted, leaving thirty six. Out of these thirty six, a dozen or so might be picked which have sufficient speed to overhaul an ordinary merchant steamer; the remainder are too slow to run away and too lightly armed to defend themselves should they fall in with a man-ofwar of the improved type belonging to an enemy. Of the twenty four iron-clad batteries three are said to be on the stocks, but I believe they either have been or are about to be broken up; one, the Roanoke, is utterly worthless, and, though borne upon the register, is commonly believed to have been broken up by a former secretary of the Navy; one, the Puritan, has never been finished, and five are undergoing repairs which require considerable time and expense for completion. Excluding the two torpedo boats as being simply experiments, and including the five monitors undergoing repairs, we have nineteen ironclad vessels to be added to the thirty six wooden steamers, making the total force amount to fifty five vessels. I need hardly say that in speed, with one or two exceptions, in ease of manæuvring, in thickness of armor plating, and in weight and penetrating power of projectiles, all these monitors are far surpassed by the more modern type of sea-going armored vessels, and their main reliance in time of action would be upon the small target they would present, and upon the hope of a chance shot crippling in some way their more powerful adversaries whose armor they could not penetrate.
We have then the astonishing spectacle of a nation of fifty millions of inhabitants, occupying a position midway between the two great centres of population of the world, with a commerce that needs the electrifying influence of a powerful navy to stimulate it, with a policy of non-intervention in the affairs of its continent by foreign nations, and with an enormous coast line and innumerable ports to be protected, relying for its defence upon the navy I have described, which, whatever may have been its value twenty years ago, is to-day, on account of the inferiority of its ships and ordnance, barely noticed in calculations in regard to the relative strength of the navies of the world. The peaceful dissipation of the threatening clouds that have from time to time obscured our political horizon has given rise to a widely spread optimism in regard to our future welfare ; but is there no danger in trusting too much to the manifest destiny of the Republic? Will nothing but the quickening effect of a heavy war indemnity awaken us to the necessity of maintaining our national defences in a high state of efficiency?
Of the claims of the Navy upon the people of the United States, I need hardly speak; the recital of its deeds forms some of the most brilliant pages of our country's record, yet, as we review the treatment the Navy has received, we find its history presents an almost continual struggle for existence. One of the necessary concomitants to the contests of political parties in the United States seems to be a demand for economy in the expenses of the Government, especially after any period when extraneous troubles have materially increased the national expenditures. This cry for economy has generally been satisfied by the decimation of the very branches of service upon which the country relied for its preservation and defence. Thus, every time that there has been occasion for the employment of a naval force, it has been necessary to create it, using the small nucleus regularly maintained as a leaven to the mass. The necessity past, the additional force has been discharged, the material purchased has been either sold at a great sacrifice or allowed to fall into decay, and the normal state of res angusta domi has resumed its sway in naval affairs.
But apart from this there is, I think, another reason for the illiberal policy shown towards the Navy. Evidences are not wanting that upon several occasions of late, the national legislature would have been willing to make ample appropriations for the purpose of increasing the efficiency of the Navy had they been persuaded that a fixed policy would be adopted which would bring about the desired result. Or, to give expression to the idea, it seems to have been about as follows: “If you, officers of the Navy, can agree upon some settled policy which will best tend to the development of our naval strength, we, members of the naval committees of Congress, shall not be found wanting in the proper spirit to aid you to accomplish the effect.” The lack of unity shown in the recommendations of the multiplicity of advisers has succeeded in so bewildering the members of the committees that, Micawber like, they have postponed all action from session to session in the hopes that something would turn up. On account of this, and in order that a definite naval policy may be adopted, which the Bureau system seems to have failed to accomplish, I venture to recommend the reëstablishment of a Board of Naval Inspectors, or Commissioners.
Naval operations during the Revolutionary war were naturally of an isolated and desultory character, and the small naval force formed was disbanded upon the conclusion of peace. From that time until 1798, the direction of such naval operations as became necessary was entrusted to the War Department. Despite the creation of a separate department for the management of affairs of the Navy, in 1798, the war of 1812 found the country almost wholly unprepared for sea warfare, and it was not until the Navy had shown itself by several brilliant actions worthy of trust that Congress was induced to grant appropriations for increasing its eficiency. Nevertheless, the preparations came too late, and the close of the war found the Navy driven from the sea, its ships captured, destroyed, or blockaded by overwhelmingly superior forces of the enemy. The wisdom of entrusting the direction of a navy to officers, fitted by profession and experience to judge of its requirments, became so apparent that, in 1815, Congress created a Board of Inspectors, three in number, which, under the superintendency of the Secretary of the Navy, was charged with all the duties of the department relating to the collection of materials and supplies, and to the construction, equipment, armament, and employment of vessels. There was no rotation in office, the naval committee of the House of Representatives, rejecting a proposal to that effect, in 1820, on the ground that it would prevent " securing the accumulating experience and talent of our naval commanders.” The success of the management of naval matters by this Board soon became apparent, and the Navy attained a state of discipline and efficiency which, perhaps, has never been surpassed. In 1842, however, the Board of Inspectors was merged into the present bureau system. The increasing business of the Navy Department may have rendered imperative the establish