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Our country was astounded by the verdict of this commission,
which was that the United States should pay the sum of $5,000,000 to the
British government. Even England was surprised, and our government was
disposed to refuse to accept the verdict; but to do that would have
established a bad precedent, and the sum named was paid to Great Britain
in the autumn of 1878.


THE YELLOW FEVER SCOURGE.

Yellow fever has been one of the most dreadful scourges that our country
has suffered. It first appeared on this continent in 1780, when Boston
was ravaged in the summer of that year. It afterward appeared in New
York and Philadelphia, especially in 1793 and 1797, after which its
visitations have been mainly confined to the South, where the sanitation
measures have been less rigid than in the North. It has been proven that
strict quarantine and absolute cleanliness are safeguards against its
entrance, though, after the frightful plague has once appeared in a
place, it is impossible to stamp it out. It subsides before the approach
of frost and cold weather, and the cure for those smitten is to carry
them to cool elevations. Thus far science has not been able to discover
the real nature of yellow fever, nor to provide a remedy. It has been
established, however, that it is due to bacilli or disease germs, as is
the case with cholera, consumption, and many other diseases, and there
is reason to believe a specific remedy will soon be brought to light.

One of the most destructive visitations of yellow fever was in the
summer and autumn of 1873. Memphis and New Orleans suffered the most,
and at one time those cities were abandoned by all who could leave them.
Other portions of the country contributed every possible assistance in
the way of medical help, nurses, and money, but before the scourge was
extirpated by cool weather fully 15,000 persons had succumbed.


PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1878.

The Republican National Convention was held in Chicago at the opening of
June. As General Grant had returned from his memorable tour round the
world, having been received everywhere with the highest honors, a
determined effort was now made to renominate him for a third term.
Roscoe Conkling, United States senator from New York, was the leader in
the movement, and the whole number of Grant's supporters was 306, who
without a break cast their vote for him thirty-six times in succession.
They failed because of the widespread opposition to any man holding the
exalted office for a longer period than Washington, the Father of his
Country.

The principal rivals of General Grant were James G. Blaine, of Maine,
and John Sherman, of Ohio. There being a deadlock, the supporters of
these two candidates united and thereby nominated James A. Garfield, of
Ohio, with Chester A. Arthur, of New York, as the nominee for
Vice-President.

[Illustration: GRANT IN JAPAN.]

The Democratic Convention, which met in Cincinnati in the latter part of
June, placed in nomination General Winfield S. Hancock, of New York, and
William H. English, of Indiana. The prospect of Hancock's election was
excellent, but he destroyed it by one of those unfortunate expressions
which more than once have defeated candidates for high office. When
questioned concerning the tariff he expressed the opinion that it was a
"local issue," a remark which many accepted as displaying ignorance of
the important subject, and they, therefore, voted against him. The
result was as follows: James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur, 214
electoral votes; W.S. Hancock and W.H. English, 155; James B. Weaver and
B.J. Chambers, the Greenback candidates, received 307,306 popular votes;
Neal Dow and H.A. Thompson, the Prohibition, 10,305; and John W. Phelps
and S.C. Pomeroy, American, 707; but none of the three secured an
electoral vote.

James A. Garfield was born at Orange, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, November
19, 1831. While he was an infant his father died and he was left to the
care of his noble mother, to whom he was devotedly attached.

[Illustration: THE BOY JAMES GARFIELD BRINGING HIS FIRST DAY'S EARNINGS
TO HIS MOTHER.]

Garfield spent his boyhood in the backwoods, and at one time was the
driver of a canal-boat. He became strong, rugged, and a fine athlete,
and at the same time obtained the rudiments of an English education. At
the age of seventeen he attended the high school at Chester, and by hard
study acquired an excellent knowledge of Latin, Greek, and algebra. He
was a student at Hiram College, and became an instructor in 1854. The
same year he entered Williams College, from which he was graduated with
honor in 1856. He returned to Ohio, and was appointed a professor in
Hiram College. He indulged his taste for politics and law, and served
for a time in the State Senate, but was president of the college when
the war broke out. He at once volunteered, and was appointed
lieutenant-colonel and afterward colonel of the Forty-second Regiment of
Ohio Volunteers.

Garfield displayed remarkable ability in the military service, and had
he remained would have won high distinction. As a brigadier-general he
did fine work in Kentucky and Tennessee. He was chief-of-staff to
General Rosecrans, and showed great gallantry in the tremendous battle
of Chickamauga. He was in the field when elected to Congress in 1862.
His desire was to remain, but, at the personal request of President
Lincoln, he entered Congress, where it was felt his help was needed in
the important legislation before the country. The estimate in which he
was held by his fellow-citizens is shown by the fact that he served as a
member of Congress for seventeen years. In 1879 he was chosen United
States senator, but did not take his seat because of his nomination for
the presidency.


CIVIL SERVICE REFORM.

The question of "civil service reform," as it is termed, assumed
prominence during the term of Hayes. This, as all understand, means that
the public offices should be filled not in accordance with politics, but
be determined by fitness. The charge has been made with reason that,
when public servants have become skilled in the discharge of their
duties, they are turned out to make room for the friends of the new
administration, where politics are different. In that way public service
is injured.

[Illustration: JAMES A. GARFIELD (1831-1881.) One partial term, 1881.]

The opponents of civil service reform maintain, on the other hand, that
there are thousands out of office who are just as capable as those in
office, and that the party ought to reward those that have helped it to
success. "To the victor belong the spoils" was the policy of Andrew
Jackson, and it has been followed in a greater or less degree ever
since. The cry of civil service reform was long a well-sounding motto
with which to catch votes, but no serious effort was made to enforce it.
Hayes tried his hand, but the clamor for political rewards was so
insistent that he gave it up, and matters dropped back into their old
ruts. The vexatious question was inherited by Garfield, and the hope was
general that he would not only make a determined effort, but would
succeed in carrying out the principles of real civil service reform.

The task soon proved beyond the capacity of himself or any human being.
It seemed as if nearly every man in the country had been the deciding
factor in the election of the President, while the "original Garfield
man" would have formed a full regiment. The executive threw up his
hands, and decided to pass over the plague to the next administration.

The quarrel produced a split in the Republican party itself, and two
wings were formed, known as "Half-breeds" and "Stalwarts." At the head
of the latter was the brilliant New York senator, Roscoe Conkling, who
had been so persistent in his efforts to renominate General Grant for a
third term. The leader of the Half-breeds was James G. Blaine, as
brilliant as Conkling, while both were strong personal opponents. The
Stalwarts claimed the right of dividing the offices, as had been the
custom for a century, the senators and representatives apportioning the
plums among the horde of claimants. The President was supported by the
Half-breeds in his claim that it was his province to bestow these gifts
as he saw fit.

The collectorship of the port of New York is one of the best offices at
the disposal of the administration. The President nominated Judge
William Robertson. He was personally distasteful to Conkling, and, when
he found himself unable to prevent his confirmation by the Senate, he
and Thomas C. Platt, the junior senator from New York, resigned their
seats. Both afterward sought and failed to secure a re-election from the
Legislature. Congress adjourned in June.

[Illustration: THE AGED MOTHER OF PRESIDENT GARFIELD.]


ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT GARFIELD.

Relieved from the pressure of his duties, the President now made his
arrangements for placing his two sons in Williams College and joining
his invalid wife at the seashore. On the 2d of July, 1881, accompanied
by Secretary Blaine and several friends, he rode to the Baltimore
Railroad station to board the cars. He had just entered the building and
was chatting with his secretary, when a miscreant named Charles Julias
Guiteau stepped up behind him and shot him with a pistol in the back.
The wounded President sank to the floor and was carried to the executive
mansion, while the assassin was hurried to prison before he could be
lynched, as he assuredly would have been but for such prompt action by
the authorities.

The shock to the country was scarcely less than when Abraham Lincoln was
shot in Ford's Theatre. Although the wound of the President was severe,
it was not believed to be necessarily fatal. He received the best
medical attention, and prayers for his recovery were sent up from every
quarter of the land and across the sea. Daily bulletins of his condition
were issued and messages of sympathy were received from many crowned
heads on the other side of the Atlantic. The sufferer was removed on the
6th of September to Elberon, New Jersey, where it was hoped the
invigorating sea-air would bring back strength to his wasted frame.
These hopes were vain, and, on the 19th of September, he quietly
breathed his last.



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