Nathaniel Hillyer. Egleston.

The North American review (Volume 139) online

. (page 42 of 60)
Online LibraryNathaniel Hillyer. EglestonThe North American review (Volume 139) → online text (page 42 of 60)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ests would combine to defeat it. In politics one observes identi
cal tendencies ; the negro is the underling. The political
organization with which the blacks now naturally affiliate is
restrained, by fear of Caucasian sentiment, from giving this
element the prominence it numerically deserves. In several
States nine-tenths of the voters are blacks. The policy, neces
sarily, is to humor them with such temporary and subordinate
positions as may serve to keep them in line. Were the negro
allowed the permanent and commanding station commensurate
with his voting strength, the party could not stand before the
American people.

This inability to rise unobstructedly contravenes a great
underlying social law, whereby, in a free State, the lower, labor
ing class tends upward, and the higher class downward, until, at
the end of the cycle, positions are reversed. At no distant day
the negro race in the South will have a preponderance of popu
lation counted by millions ; and the repression of their advanc
ing tendencies, growing more and more intense, and struggling
for recognition, portends social convulsions. Let society be so
ordered as to give merit the freest play, finding its reward with
out hindrance, and the poorest may not murmur, if he cannot
leave the dirt and din and toil and heat and feverish air of
daily life, to rest and recover at sea-side or on mountain-top.
He may cheerfully toil on and hoard, in the dim yet inspiring
hope that his children, at least, with better start, may win higher
levels and go with the best. Deny such aspirations and you
make him a revolutionist.

Another result will be the political consolidation of the blacks,
for the blacks. Every circumstance of their situation tends to de
velop a powerful esprit de corps ; and the day is near, unless timely
remedies interpose, when an African party, pure and simple, the
outcome of African exclusion and repression, will spring up
throughout the South and dominate it. From the Carolinas to
Louisiana the two populations are now not far from a balance ;
and as they are massed in opposite parties, the great odds for
the whites in intelligence, wealth, and training, have made them,
in political contests, signally successful, without necessary resort
to illegal means. But within a generation or two mere numbers


must triumph over every counter consideration, and make the
negro politically supreme. There is no room for doubt that
this power will be used to Africanize the South. To suppose
the contrary would be to suppose a revolution in human nature.
A distinct race, for generations held off and underneath, rising to
political power, will wield it through and for the race. The
results would be disastrous. The present prosperity of the
Southern States is due to the white man's rule, efficient local
control being secured to those counties that are overwhelmingly
African through the legislative appointment of leading county
officers. That affairs are so is better both for the South and for
the whole country. To assert the contrary is the verbiage of poli
ticians, a monstrous lie, that no American believes. From the
Carolinas southward, the negroes will be able to grasp political
power long before they will be competent to guide our intellect
ual and nicely adjusted civilization. The sequence would be
swiftly and thoroughly fatal. Who does not know that upon
that particular section would fall a universal, permanent, and
deadly blight ; and that the presence of a decaying member
would vitally involve the interests of the country at large ? The
partial, bolstered black rule of Reconstruction days at the South,
with its corruptions, thieveries, caricatures of government,
material stagnation, and miseries, which vanished before white
intelligence upon the removal of disfranchisement, is an inkling
of what will be when the blacks, advanced enough for the aspira
tion, but not the inspiration, of governing, shall have become
political masters through their own strength, and in the teeth
of antagonisms that shall have aroused race pride into vindic
tive moods. They will rise to power to stay, and make the land
an African waste.* The beginning of such a state of affairs
would inevitably be marked by race conflicts. The answer of a
witness in the Danville riot investigation is representative:

* The course of politics in Washington City and the District of Columbia
illustrates the tendency. By Congressional enactment the population, white
and black, has been disfranchised. The negro vote, though not the majority,
had already made politics so corrupt, so degrading, and so fraught with evil
to the municipal government, that, to get rid of it, it was thought better to
disfranchise the entire body of the people. This, accordingly, has been done,
at the center of African intelligence, and by a Congress that stands forth as a
special friend of the colored race.


" When white men put money in a town and seek to build it up,
they will not let negroes rule. You may put that down as a
sure thing." Three courses would be open to the whites : To
submit, to emigrate, or to remain and struggle. The last alter
native would, doubtless, be the first resolve, and the races would
meet in wasting collisions, until swelling numbers having con
firmed black authority, the whites would gradually seek other

Such is the negro problem, the most momentous before the
American people, a problem that thoughtful men are dwelling
upon, especially throughout the South, with growing anxiety.
Some have sought the solution in the dispersion of the blacks
over the States, and their gradual fading away, as the weaker
race, in the mass of the white population. But they will concen
trate, more and more, in a half-dozen States south and south
west, and multiply with phenomenal rapidity. Others have
looked for the blending of the two races. Were this to prevail,
the result, it is scientifically certain, would be race deterioration.
Colonization would be effectual, and necessity will probably
realize it over difficulties that now seem insurmountable.

There is a land before the black man, and a motive for his
removal thither. The undeveloped African continent has splen
did possibilities ; the free States of the Congo and other sections
will offer him inviting homes. His native land, as the sluggish
ness born of slavery gives place to rising ambitions and race
longings, will it not gain a new interest in his eyes ? It would
be unworthy of his better manhood to think otherwise. He will,
too, be stimulated toward it by the checks and mortifications
that his progress and growing self-assertion are doomed to expe
rience here. If he is worthy of freedom and capable of support
ing a hopeful citizenship, every impulse of personal pride, every
intelligent aspiration, every patriotic feeling, should urge him
toward the land of his fathers, where his utmost possibilities
would have the fullest and freest opportunity for development.

Should the blacks not choose colonization, let the whites of
the whole country demand it. We have been assuming that
Southern whites and blacks are the only parties interested ; but
there is another party, and a powerful one the Northern whites.
Among these has widely prevailed a deep sympathy for the
negro, both as a slave and as a freedman believed to be oppressed.


Founded upon a state of Southern affairs largely imaginative,
the sentiment was natural, and grew from man's compassionate
and justice-loving side. But the whites have race instincts, and
when the Africanizing and ruin of the South becomes a clearly
seen danger, they will be a unit, the country over, for the remedy.
There will be divisions at first, no doubt, and discussions, and
party movements j but the influences for union will prove resist
less. Material interests, pride of country, race affinity, will force
the combination, and demand the separation of the races. Mark
how popular sentiment is gathering against the Chinese. The
yellow patch on our Western coast is beginning to excite appre
hension. On opposite shores of the Pacific, cheap and rapid steam
ship lines have recently joined two lands, the one with an exces
sive and redundant population, where wages are at the minimum,
the other largely unoccupied, with wages at the maximum. Natu
rally the yellow tide began to flow in, and, with habits of economy
and industry born of an over-dense population, to supplant
American labor and interests. Congress has properly interposed
repressive measures, and the platforms of the two parties vie
with each other in supporting them. Why? Because these
yellow people are an alien and distinct race, that will not mingle
with the whites, and threaten, through numbers, to Mongolianize
the Pacific slope. This is a white man's country, and a white
man's government j and the white race will never allow a section
of it to be Africanized. When colonization is accepted as the
remedy, the whites will stand together to stimulate and assist it,
or, should it prove necessary, to force it. If the right be ques
tioned, we reply that, in extraordinary emergencies, states have
never found difficulty in reaching popular and vital ends, how
ever laws may read or constitutions be construed.

The whites, and not least the Southern whites, have good
wishes for the negro. He has been a necessary and efficient
laborer, and has added immensely to the country's wealth. It
is not forgotten that during the war he made no attempt to rise
against his master. Since the war, he has, upon the whole,
creditably filled a difficult position ; and the material and educa
tional advance that marks his twenty years of freedom is ground
for a hopeful future, under fitting conditions. The evils of his
stay here are not individual, but inherent in the race, and unavoid
able j and they lie in the future, when, under our forms of govern-


merit, over wide sections, and in the presence of the race that
has created it, he will rise to the political control of a highly
intellectual civilization, with which he has not been identified,
and for whose guidance his training will have been insufficient.
The results would be disastrous to both races, and for their com
mon good let them be separated, and the African turn, or be
turned, to Africa.



SOME years ago I prepared for the NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW
an article on " Systems of Offense and Defense in Naval Warfare."
Since then much has been said in regard to progress in this
matter, because of the intense interest the subject excites in all
maritime countries.

Let me first draw attention to what I feel to be an important
fact, and one that appears to have hitherto escaped notice. It is
that the proud superiority in naval warfare claimed by England
and America, on account of the boasted superior prowess of their
seamen, will be seriously tested in any future war in which they
may be engaged, for the simple reason that powerful artillery, well
served, must take precedence of the finest seamanship in deciding
the result of a naval battle. It is obvious that the glorious
sailor-like maneuvers of Lord Nelson, by which the victories of
Trafalgar and the Nile were won, can never again be put into
execution, because in place of the sailing line-of-battle ship so
splendidly handled as it was under canvas, there is now the huge
iron-clad, easily moved under steam in all directions, which will
be assisted in its work of destruction by new weapons, such as
the ram and the torpedo. Who, then, can predict what will
be the result of the next naval engagement ? That good sea-legs,
skill at the wheel, and presence of mind qualities for which
seamen of the Anglo-Saxon race are still so celebrated will
always tell in a struggle at sea, is not to be denied} but it
cannot be kept too prominently in view that overconfidence
in such matters may lead to the most disastrous results. It
should be borne in mind that the smallest rope accidentally
fouling the screw, may deprive the ship of her maneuvering
power at a critical moment} or a shell penetrating the boiler
from the unprotected deck above, may completely disable her.
In either of such cases, how unavailing would be the qualities



above mentioned in the crew of the vessel thus virtually put
hors de combat ! I merely mention these facts as a warning to
the overconfident, who, trusting to traditions, may think it not
necessary to keep naval progress close to the heel of invention,
especially as regards the construction of ships and their ar

Let us now see what has been done to ships and their arma
ment in the way of alteration during the past few years, amongst
the naval powers of the world. Generally speaking, a feverish
anxiety is manifested in every country to increase the naval
strength. In some, progress is taking the direction of torpedo-
vessels, the idea being that a host of pigmy assailants is more
than a match for the strongest giant. In others, the swift
cruiser with long-reaching weapons is the favorite system, the
intention being in case of war to avoid any direct encounter
with the naval strength of the enemy, while harassing it by
unexpected attacks in isolated quarters. Other governments,
again, are for creating a formidable line of defense, which shall
be at the same time most powerful for attack ; and so increased
thickness of armor and a larger caliber for guns is the order of
the day.

Naval preparations, in fact, are being pushed on with a rapidity
that almost takes one's breath away, and raises the question, To
what purpose is all this expense being incurred ? A glance at
the general condition of naval matters shows clearly that the
supremacy of England is threatened; and that a short time
hence, without great exertions on her part to increase her navy,
a coalition of two or more of the European powers would prove
too much for her at sea. It is true that she still heads the list
in respect to number of iron-clads, but it is admitted on all sides
that her guns are much inferior to those used by some
other nations. Her naval authorities, who obstinately clung
to the muzzle-loading system long after it had been abandoned
by other governments, have had to acknowledge this dis
creditable fact at last, and in all haste efforts are now being
made to recover the lost ground. But the heavy guns of
the present day, with their composite construction, require
much time and care for their completion, and it will be (I use
the words of an English naval officer of the highest rank and
position) the end of 1885 before the new and essentially necessary
breech-loaders have taken the place of the obsolete muzzle-load-


ing artillery with which the English iron-clads are still armed.
These new guns will not have greater range, but will be much
lighter in proportion to their caliber than the old, on account of
the adoption of a new principle in their construction, that of steel
tape for the coils, instead of rings of solid metal. The great ad
vance, then, that has been at last made by England is in the
direction of naval artillery. I am willing to admit that the sys
tem of enrolling the crews of ships, and the disciplining and
training of men, as practiced in the British navy, is all that
it should be. The thoughtful consideration, also, given to the
general requirements of ships, fleets, and squadrons, by the naval
authorities, is not surpassed by those of any other nation. As a
proof of this, I may cite the attention now being given to the
question of how to protect boilers from the effects of a plunging
fire. One idea that appears to have found favor, is that of
having immediately over the boilers a sort of double deck, the
space between to be filled either with water or some elastic sub
stance, such as cork.

As a preface to what I have to say about the naval strength
of France, I will quote a passage from an official statement that
has lately come under my observation : " Muzzle-loading guns
are entirely obsolete in the French navy, except for saluting
purposes at dock-yards." The 1 breech-loading gun, in fact, has
long ago replaced the muzzle-loader in the French navy ; and to
this point of superiority over the British must, in my opinion, be
added another, the larger number of vessels built expressly for
ramming. Now the ram I hold to be one of the most powerful
weapons of attack that could well be devised j but to make it
really available in the way I would propose, the vessel so armed
should be of special construction, and fitted with no other arma
ment. To arm such vessels with heavy guns, as the British
government has done in the case of the only two vessels in its
service that bear the designation of " ram," is a great mistake, as
it tends to give them a position in the fleet that they ought never
to occupy. Their formidable armament makes essentially fight
ing ships of them, and in a general action it would be difficult to
guard against their guns being used to the prejudice of their
real weapons, the terrible plate-ripping spurs attached to their
bows. Whilst serving the guns, the opportunity for using the
ram would often be lost, owing to the difficulty of making out
the movements of the enemy through the thick cloud of smoke


that they themselves would create. In respect to rams, I
would suggest that they should carry nothing in the way of
artillery but a few machine guns, so that the attention of those
in command in time of war might never be diverted from the
real purpose for which those vessels are constructed. The use
of a ram in battle, wanting as we are in experience, is at present
a matter of opinion. According to my own ideas, which I find
are shared by much more capable men, such vessels would prove
of the greatest possible service. I even think that their employ
ment will go as far to revolutionize the conditions of naval war
fare as has the introduction of breech-loading guns and rifles
those of fighting ashore 5 and that the naval power that has neg
lected to provide itself with such means of attack will have as
rude an awakening to its folly, should it ever be at war with
another, as did the Austrians at the battle of Sadowa, when the
despised needle-gun gave the Prussians the victory. Let the
reader imagine a squadron of such vessels attached to a fleet
engaged with an enemy. Watching every movement, they could
be held in readiness for a rush at the propitious moment, and
many such moments must necessarily be offered by the chances
of battle. A vessel hotly engaged, enveloped in the smoke of
her own as well as the enemy's guns, could hardly keep such a
watchful eye around her as to be able to maneuver in time to
escape the blow of one of these formidable antagonists. A pair
of them acting together might attack from opposite directions,
in which case the effort to avoid the one would throw the enemy
into the path of the other. Again, any iron-clad separated from
her consorts, or disabled in the engine-room, would inevitably
fall a prize to the ram squadron, or pay the penalty of resistance
by sinking beneath their blows. I need not continue further,
for any sailor or person accustomed to maneuver ships must see
the immense advantage to a fleet of having two or three rams
attached to it. The French authorities are evidently convinced
of the value of ramming as a mode of attack, and, in the
construction of their new iron-clads, have been giving special
attention to power in this direction. I find in the official list
no fewer than fourteen vessels set down as rams, and seeing
their size, weight of armor-plating, and speed, as well as arma
ment, one cannot help being struck with their efficiency as
fighting craft.

Having shown what I believe to be the best point of the
French navy, I will now speak of what I consider to be its weak


ones. Of these, the principal, in my opinion, is the practice of
mounting the guns too high. Nearly every French iron-clad car
ries her guns en barbette, or in batteries placed so far above the
water-line as greatly to impair the stability of the vessel in a sea
way. With any swell, these vessels roll to such a degree that it is
almost impossible to use their guns. This plan of arranging
the armament my experience tells me is a fatal error, which
some day may cost the French very dear. It is curious to note
that, whilst in England the object sought apparently is to have
the guns as low as possible, in France the endeavor seems to be
to mount them as high as the construction of the vessels will
allow. The value of " all round 77 fire is duly appreciated in both
countries j but while the French obtain the facilities in their
system of barbettes, turrets, and sponson batteries, the British
obtain them by their indented ports and revolving turrets, com
bined with a low free-board. The French are making every
effort to perfect the training of their naval officers and seamen.
Evolutionary squadrons are constantly at sea, accompanied by
rams and torpedo-boats, and I doubt not that, should their ser
vices be unhappily called into requisition by a European war,
the French iron-clads would play a gallant part and prove most
formidable antagonists.

Although there is a great deal of talk about Russia 7 s huge
iron-clads, both built and in course of construction, and it is a
fact that she takes the lead of all the powers in respect to num
ber of torpedo-boats, I cannot think there is much to fear from
her fleet, when such vessels as the Peter the Great and the
two Popoffkas are amongst its most formidable items. Much
might be said in adverse criticism of the Russian navy, especially
in regard to the construction of its iron-clads and their armament.
But my acquaintance with many of its officers, for whose pluck
and seaman-like qualities I have the highest respect and admira
tion, prevents me from making what in my peculiar position
might be considered invidious remarks. I will therefore confine
my observations to the fact that, although Russia may not pos
sess a powerful fleet with which to encounter an enemy at sea,
she is fast preparing a most formidable system of coast defense.
She has adopted both the Whitehead and the Lay system of
movable torpedoes, and the number of small craft specially built
for the use of such weapons has now reached one hundred and
twenty, against England 7 s one hundred and nineteen. Several
of these boats have been passing up the Bosphorus lately. They


are apparently fine sea-going craft. It is said that they can
steam a thousand miles without visiting a coal depot, and that
their speed is seventeen or eighteen knots an hour. Russia, it is
well known, has also in view the damage that can be inflicted
upon an enemy by crippling its commerce on the high seas. The
national fleet is intended to play the part of Alabamas. It con
sists for the moment of four large ocean steamers of fair speed,
but not extraordinary in that way. They would, as far as I
have seen them, meet with more than their match in any of the
regular British liners, though doubtless the slow-going class of
steamers would suffer from their operations.

Germany has made immense progress of late years in naval
matters. She is no longer in the same position as when the war
broke out between her and France, and if the same rate of
advance be maintained, it will not be long before she will have
to be placed amongst the first-class naval powers. New vessels
are being constantly built, and these, as well as those already
afloat, are armed with the most perfect if not the most powerful
guns in the world. Although they have (unwisely, as I think)
not yet determined to adopt rams specially built, as adjuncts to
to their fighting squadron, the Germans possess eight or ten of
what they call armored gun-boats, which would undoubtedly
prove most serviceable in defensive operations. The German
naval authorities are not ashamed to follow the example of Eng
land, which country they candidly admit to be at the head of
naval powers in respect to the discipline, training, and general
organization of fleets ; and they cover the seas at home and
abroad with the all-essential training-ships. But it is in the
development of the torpedo as a weapon of war that Germany's
progress is most seen. In this she takes the lead of all other
countries, not excepting England. The Germans have not forgot

Online LibraryNathaniel Hillyer. EglestonThe North American review (Volume 139) → online text (page 42 of 60)