Front Matter The Beginning of the U.S Franklin's Return Troubles After the War The Constitution The First President Washington's Troubles A Wonderful Invention Death of Washington The U.S. Buys Land War With African Pirates Death of Somers The First Steamboat The Gerrymander The War of 1812 "Don't Give Up the Ship" The Star-Spangled Banner Clinton's "Big Ditch" More Land Bought Jackson Stories Jackson's Presidency New Inventions Whitman's Ride The Mormons The First Telegraph The Mexican War The Slavery Quarrel Daniel Webster's Youth Webster's Speeches Early Times in California Discovery of El Dorado Rush to California The Underground Railroad The First World's Fair John Brown's Raid Lincoln's Youth The First Shot The Call to Arms The President's Decision Admiral Farragut The Monitor and Merrimac The Penninsular Campaign Barbara Frietchie Lincoln's Vow The Battle of Gettysburg The Taking of Vicksburg Riots, Raids, and Battles The Burning of Atlanta The March to the Sea Sheridan's Ride The Doings of the Fleet Lee's Surrender Decoration Day Lincoln Stories Lincoln's Rebukes A President's Son A Noble Southerner Hard Times in the South The Atlantic Cable Best Way to Settle Quarrels Our One Hundredth Birthday Gold for Greenbacks A Clever Engineer Death of Garfield The Celebration at Yorktown The Great Statue A Terrible Flood Lynch Law The Great White City The Explosion of the Maine The Battle of Manila Hobson's Brave Deed Surrender of Santiago The Hawaiian Islands The Annexation of Hawaii The Philippine War Assassination of McKinley The Panama Canal Roosevelt's Administration Two Presidents German Views The World War Since the World War

Story of the Great Republic - Helene Guerber

The Atlantic Cable

The United States had been so busy, first with the Civil War, and then with the work of reconstruction, that many interesting events which had taken place passed by almost unnoticed. For instance, even while the war was raging, Napoleon III., emperor of the French, in spite of the "Monroe doctrine," sent an army into Mexico.

The United States then told him this was not right; but he paid no heed, and placed Maximilian, an Austrian prince, on the Mexican throne. Later on, when the United States had a little more leisure, it sternly bade Napoleon withdraw his army, or it would show him that the Monroe doctrine must be respected.

At this warning Napoleon withdrew his troops, leaving Maximilian on the throne where he had placed him. But as the Mexicans did not want him to rule them, they rebelled, shot him to get rid of him, and again set up a republic (1867), which has gone on to this day.

After all the stories of wars and troubles which you have just heard, you will probably be glad to hear of the ocean telegraph, or the laying of the first Atlantic cable When Morse set up the first electric telegraph in 1844, he foretold that the time would come when dispatches would be sent across the ocean. This seemed great folly to every one then, but, as years went by, people began to see that wires could be laid in the water. Several short cables, or lines, were laid; but it was Cyrus W. Field, an American citizen, who determined to lay the first cable across the ocean.

He made careful plans, and in 1854 formed a company for that purpose. Several attempts were then made to lay a cable, but Field did not have the right machinery, and all his efforts failed. As the company's money was gone, Field now asked the governments of Great Britain and the United States to help him.

The day before President Pierce went out of office, a bill for the ocean telegraph was passed; but people were then so doubtful of its success, that had there been one vote less this help would have been denied to Field. This time, however, the work succeeded: a cable was stretched across the ocean, and the first official messages were exchanged between Queen Victoria and President Buchanan.

But after about four hundred messages had passed safely to and fro, and just as a grand celebration was held in honor of this event, the cable suddenly ceased to work. Still undismayed, Field began preparations for a new ocean telegraph; but, as the Civil War broke out, no one had any money to spare for such an undertaking, and it was not till 1865, when the struggle was ended, that the work could be resumed.

This last cable had been laid halfway across the ocean, when, owing to a flaw, it suddenly broke, and the end was lost in the bottom of the ocean! When an Englishman once asked Field what he would do in such a case, the latter said: "Charge it to profit and loss, and go to work and lay another." True to his word, Field now set to work again. This time a new plan was adopted: two vessels met in the middle of the ocean, and, after splicing the wires they carried, they set out in opposite directions to lay the Atlantic cable.

All went smoothly on this trip. The cable was laid, messages were sent to and fro, and events which happened on one side of the ocean could be made known a few minutes later on the other side. Not only had Mr. Field succeeded in laying a cable, but he now also proved that a broken cable could be mended by sending a ship to the place where the broken cable lay. Its big grappling hooks sank several thousand feet below the surface of the ocean, were dragged about on the bottom, and finally caught the cable near the loose end. It was then carefully hauled up and joined to some cable on board, and the vessel then proceeded to lay the rest of that wire, too.

Bringing the cable ashore


To accomplish his aim, Field had worked hard for more than thirteen years, had spent all his own money, besides large sums supplied by his friends and the government, and had crossed the Atlantic thirty-one times. But his patience now reaped its reward. The cable proved so useful that fortune and honors were bestowed upon the man who alone had not lost courage, in spite of many failures.

Now there are more than a dozen cables across the Atlantic Ocean, and, before long, wires across the Pacific will complete the circuit of our globe. Cables also connect our country with many of the West Indies, and with South America.

In 1867, one year after the Atlantic cables were in perfect working order, and the same year that Mexico recovered her freedom, the United States bought Alaska from Russia for about seven million dollars. Secretary Seward urged this purchase, but Congress did not, at first, favor it, saying that the United States did not need such an expensive "refrigerator."

Still, the furs, timber, and fishing were very valuable, and the seals alone brought in about two million dollars a year. Thus Alaska more than paid for its own purchase even before gold was discovered there. Since that discovery, the land, cold and uninviting as it may otherwise seem, attracts hosts of miners, who rush thither as they did to California in 1849, in hopes of making a fortune in a very short time. Many of them are now working hard along the Yukon River, where much gold has already been found.

Mining in Alaska


When a new presidential election was held, in 1868, three of the Southern states were still unrepresented in Congress. The country this time elected Ulysses S. Grant, the hero of the Civil War, to be the eighteenth President of the United States. He was, as you know, a good, firm, and very silent man; but every one says he was a much better general than a politician.

Shortly after Grant's inauguration, a very important and interesting ceremony took place. Even before the war, a plan had been made to build a railroad all the way across our continent. This was absolutely necessary, because the "Pony Express" and stagecoaches were far too slow means of travel. Indeed, when California first asked to come into the Union, a member of Congress proved that a representative of California could spend only a fortnight each year in Washington, for he would have to be on the, road all the rest of the time.

But the day of slow travel was nearly over. One railroad company began building westward from Omaha, while another started from Sacramento to meet it. Although nine mountain chains had to be crossed, and trains had to go first up and then down seven thousand feet, the work was carried on with such energy that finally it was all done. On a certain day in 1869 the directors of the two roads set out, with their friends, and the two engines met at Ogden, in Utah. Here the last spike—it was made of gold—was driven in, amid great rejoicings.

People could now travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific in less time, and with far more comfort, than Washington had traveled from Boston to New York. Besides, the railroad was a great help to commerce, for goods from China and Japan could now be shipped direct to San Francisco or Sacramento, and thence be sent across the continent, reaching New York about a month after they had left the shore of Asia. Before long, too, this railroad, and others like it, were supplied with refrigerator cars, and now people on the Atlantic coast eat cherries, peaches, grapes, and many other fruits which have ripened on the other side of the Rocky Mountains.