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As a public man remarked, one general
conflagration, sweeping from the Potomac to the Gulf of Mexico, could
not have wrought more devastation in the South than the few years of
carpet-bag governments.

Yet all such evils are sure to right themselves, sooner or later. The
means are apt to be violent and revolutionary, and sometimes breed crime
of itself. It was not in the nature of things that the whites should
remain passive and meek under this unspeakable misrule. They united for
self-protection. One of the bands thus formed was the Ku-Klux, which in
time committed so many crimes in terrorizing the negroes that they were
suppressed by the stern arm of the military; a revolt of the best people
took place, and soon after 1870 the blight of carpet-bag government
disappeared from the South.


TRUE RECONCILIATION.

Despite the turbulence and angry feeling, the work of reconciliation
went on of itself. Northern capital entered the promising fields of the
South; former Union and Confederate leaders, as well as privates,
respected one another, as brave men always do, and became warm friends.
While many of the former went South, hundreds of the latter made their
homes in the North, where they were welcomed and assisted in the
struggle to "get upon their feet." This fraternal mingling of former
soldiers and the friendly exchange of visits between Union and
Confederate posts brought about true reconciliation, despite the
wrangles of politicians.


PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1868.

Before, however, this was fully accomplished, the presidential election
of 1868 took place. The most popular hero in this country, as in others,
is the military one, and the great value of General Grant's services in
the war for the Union made it clear, long before the assembling of the
nominating convention, that he would be the candidate of the Republican
party. He was unanimously named, with Schuyler Colfax, of Indiana, the
Speaker of the House of Representatives, as the nominee for
Vice-President. The Democrats placed in nomination Horatio Seymour, of
New York, and General Francis P. Blair, of Missouri. The result in
November was as follows: Republican ticket, 214 electoral votes;
Democratic, 80. The election was a striking proof of the popularity of
the great soldier.

Andrew Johnson was hopeful of a nomination from the Democrats, but his
name was scarcely mentioned. He lived in retirement for a number of
years, but was elected United States senator in 1875, and he died at his
home July 31st of that year.


THE EIGHTEENTH PRESIDENT.

Ulysses S. Grant had already become so identified with the history of
our country that little remains to be added to that which has been
recorded. He was born at Point Pleasant, Ohio, April 27, 1822. Appointed
to West Point, he gave no evidence of special brilliancy, and was
graduated in 1843 with only a fair standing. He did good service in the
war with Mexico and was brevetted captain, but resigned his commission
in 1854 and went into business, where he attained only moderate success.
He was among the first to volunteer when the Civil War broke out. The
opportunity thus presented for the full display of his military genius
rapidly brought him to the front, the culmination of his career being
reached when he compelled the surrender of General Lee at Appomattox
Court-House in April, 1865, thereby bringing the long and terrible war
to a triumphant conclusion. He was a man of simple tastes, modest, but
with an unerring knowledge of his own abilities, thoroughly patriotic,
honest, chivalrous, devoted to his friends, and so trustful of them that
he remained their supporters sometimes after receiving proof of their
unworthiness. The mistakes of his administration were due mainly to this
trait of his character, which it is hard to condemn without reservation.

[Illustration: ULYSSES SIMPSON GRANT.

(1822-1885.) Two terms, 1869-1877.]

The country being fairly launched once more on its career of progress
and prosperity, the government gained the opportunity to give attention
to matters which it was compelled to pass by while the war was in
progress. The first most important step was to call England to account
for her help in fitting out Confederate privateers, when we were in
extremity. It required considerable tact and delicacy to get the
"Alabama Claims," as they were termed, in proper form before the British
authorities, for they felt sensitive, but it was finally accomplished.
The arbitration tribunal which sat at Geneva, Switzerland, in June,
1872, decreed that England should pay the United States the sum of
$15,500,000 because of the damage inflicted by Confederate cruisers upon
Northern commerce. The amount was paid, and friendly relations between
the two countries were fully restored.

[Illustration: MRS. JULIA DENT GRANT.]

Our rapid growth had long since made the building of a railroad from the
East to the Pacific a necessity that continually grew more urgent.
Construction was begun as early as 1863, but the Civil War caused the
work to lag, and at the end of two years only one hundred miles had been
graded and forty laid. The progress then became more vigorous.

The road consisted of two divisions. The first was from Omaha, Nebraska,
to Ogden, Utah, a distance of 1,032 miles, while the western division,
known as the Central Pacific, covered the distance of 885 miles between
Ogden and San Francisco. Steadily approaching each other, these long
lines of railway met on the 10th of May, 1869, when the last spike, made
of solid gold, was driven, and the two locomotives, standing with their
pilots almost touching, joined in a joyous screech of their whistles.
The important event was celebrated with much ceremony, for it was worthy
of being commemorated.


RECONSTRUCTION COMPLETED.

The vexatious work of reconstruction was completed during the early
months of 1870. Virginia had held out against the terms prescribed by
Congress, but her senators and representatives were admitted to their
seats in the latter part of January; those of Mississippi in the
following month, and those of Texas in March, at which time the
secretary of State issued a proclamation declaring the adoption of the
Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees negro
suffrage. For the first time in almost twenty years, all the States were
fully represented in Congress.


THE CHICAGO FIRE.

On the 8th of October, 1871, Chicago was visited by the greatest
conflagration of modern times, with the single exception of that of
Moscow. Like many events, fraught with momentous consequences, it had a
trifling cause. A cow kicked over a lamp in a stable on De Koven Street,
which set fire to the straw. A gale swiftly carried the flames into some
adjoining lumber yards and frame houses. All the conditions were
favorable for a tremendous conflagration. The fire swept over the south
branch of the Chicago River, and raged furiously in the business
portion of the city. The main channel of the river was leaped as if it
were a narrow alley, and there were anxious hours when thousands
believed the whole city was doomed. As it was, the fire-swept district
covered four or five miles, and fully 20,000 buildings were burned. It
is believed that 250 lives were lost, about 100,000 people made
homeless, and $192,000,000 worth of property destroyed.

[Illustration: THE BURNING OF CHICAGO IN 1871.]

Chicago's affliction stirred the sympathy of the whole country.
Contributions were sent thither from every State, and everything was
done to aid the sufferers who had lost their all. With true American
pluck, the afflicted people bent to the work before them. Night and day
thousands toiled, and within the space of a year a newer and more
magnificent city rose like a Phoenix from its ashes. Chicago to-day is
one of the grandest and most enterprising cities in the world.


SETTLEMENT OF THE NORTHWESTERN BOUNDARY.

We had made a treaty with England in 1846 which located the line of our
northwestern boundary along the 49th parallel westward to the middle of
"the channel" separating the continent from Vancouver's Island, and
then southward through the middle of the channel and of Fuca's Strait to
the Pacific Ocean. It was found, however, there were several channels,
and it was impossible to decide which was meant in the treaty. The claim
of England included the island of San Juan, she insisting that the
designated channel ran to the south of that island. Naturally, we took
the opposite view and were equally insistent that the channel ran to the
north, and that San Juan, therefore, belonged to us. The two nations
displayed their good sense by referring the dispute to arbitration and
selected the Emperor of Germany as the arbitrator. He decided in 1872 in
our favor.


PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1872.

It was a curious presidential election that took place in 1872. The
South was bitterly opposed to the Republican plan of reconstruction and
a good many in the North sympathized with them. One of the strongest
opponents of Grant's renomination was the _New York Tribune_, of which
Horace Greeley was editor. The Republicans who agreed with him were
called "Liberal Republicans," while the Straight-out Democrats retained
their organization. Naturally, the regular Republicans renominated
Grant, but Henry Wilson, of Massachusetts, took the place of Schuyler
Colfax as the nominee for the Vice-Presidency. Horace Greeley, who had
spent his life in vigorously fighting the principles of the Democratic
party, was now endorsed by that organization after his nomination by the
Liberal Republicans, with B. Gratz Brown, of Missouri, as his running
partner.

[Illustration: SECTION OF CHICAGO STOCK-YARDS, THE LARGEST IN THE
WORLD.]

The election was a perfect jumble. Eight candidates were voted for as
President and eleven for Vice-President. Grant received 286 electoral
votes and carried thirty-one States. Greeley was so crushed by his
defeat that he lost his reason and died within a month after election.
His electors scattered their votes, so that Thomas A.



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