Wanted: An American Merchant Marine
AT the present time, European statesmen, naval and military experts, merchants and ship-owners, in fact, all men interested in shipping matters, look at America with amazement. What is the cause of this amazement, and how does it concern America ? If the American reader will take time to read through these lines, and go away to mark, learn, and inwardly digest, the cause of the amazement will not be far to seek; he will also have food for thought for a day or two.
In the early eighties, or even later than that perhaps, the Stars and Stripes could be seen flying at the peak of at least two American sailing ships in nearly every port of any consequence in the world, especially the eastern portion. American ships were then noted for their beautiful lines, tall masts, snow-white canvas, and above all for their general speed and record passages. Merchants in those days preferred shipping their cargoes in American bottoms to employing ships of any other nationality. Hard-case Yankee skippers and mates were as well known as their ships; in fact, for making smart passages, handling ships under any conditions, and for all-round sailoring, they had no equals. The qualities which go toward making men sailors, they all possessed to a marked degree. A sailor who had served on board an American ship — for one voyage only — was always looked up to by his shipmates and was always reckoned as something out of the ordinary. His abilities were never questioned, nor need they have been; the fact of his having made a voyage in an American ship was a sufficient guarantee that the man knew his work.
At the time I mention, the only countries that possessed a merchant marine worth speaking about were England and America. Though the British flag predominated, American ships had quite a good share of the carrying trade; and it must be remembered that American exports at that time were small in comparison to British. But, as I have said before, in many cases American ships got the preference on account of their speed. Ships like the Dreadnought and Flying Cloud (both American built) were known and talked of by everybody in the shipping world. Perhaps it will come as a surprise to many to know that there are steamers at the present time carrying between two and three thousand passengers across the Atlantic which cannot beat the best day’s runs of the ships mentioned. The Flying Cloud holds the world’s record for the best day’s run made by a sailing ship; that run being over three hundred and forty knots for a twentyfour-hour day.
That America led the way in the matter of building fast sailing ships and producing some of the finest seamen in the world thirty years ago, no one who knows anything about shipping matters will deny. The crews which manned these ships cannot, however, be considered altogether American, as they were composed in part of foreigners who preferred sailing under the Stars and Stripes because both wages and food were better than anything that could be obtained in their own ships.
So far, I have endeavored to show that thirty years ago America possessed some of the finest ships afloat, and the finest material for manning them in the world, and held second place — as far as numbers are concerned — among the maritime nations. What has been the cause of the disappearance of “ Old Glory ” from the ports of the world ? Can it be that America cannot produce merchant seamen in this money-grabbing age ? Hardly ! But to show that the American merchant marine has ceased to exist, and to convince my readers that I speak the truth, I would like to give an experience of my own. Four months ago, while passing along the Liverpool docks on an electric train, I saw the Stars and Stripes flying at the peak of a sailing ship. This so tickled me that I broke my journey and walked back half a mile to get a closer look at the curiosity. Arriving at the dock, I found the ship to be the Homeward Bound of San Francisco. On questioning the dockmaster as to the number of American ships he had berthed, in his position as dockmaster, he replied, “This is the first American ship I have berthed in my twelve years’ experience on the docks.”
For the last fifteen years I have knocked around all the corners of the earth in nearly every class of merchant vessel, and I can truthfully say that in all that time I could count on my two hands all the deep-water vessels I have seen flying the American flag. Bring the question nearer home! Ask any American harbor-, dock-, or pier-master of any of the principal ports on the Atlantic seaboard only, how often he handles foreign-going American merchant ships. I would wager that not one in ten has handled such ships for at least twelve years. Let any reader who doubts my statement take the trouble to walk along the piers of New York or Boston and see for himself how many deep-water (not coaster) ships he can find flying the American ensign; also with an American port of registry on their sterns. Excepting the three or four transatlantic passenger steamers, it is safe to say that he will not find one.
Let us go back again and see if there is an answer to the question I have asked : “ What is the cause of the disappearance of ‘ Old Glory ’ from the ports of the world?” The death-knell of American wooden ships and wooden-ship building was sounded when iron took the place of wood in ship construction. American iron and steel industries of thirty years ago were then too small and costly to entertain the idea of building iron ships; therefore, while America was plodding away with her wooden sailing ships, England was building small steamers of one thousand tons or more, registered tonnage; these soon dwarfed the puny efforts of British and American sailing ships. The speed of the new steamers was not so great as the speed of the best clipper ships on short distances, but in long passages they easily outstripped the average sailing ship. This process of substitution was not carried out in a year or two, but extended over a long period of years. Shippers, seeing at once that their cargoes could be carried to the markets on time at a cheaper rate and also with a minimum amount of risk, naturally preferred steam to sail. What effect had this on British and American sailing ships ? It simply meant that they had to abandon their old profitable trades and open out new.
It is safe to say that, if American shipowners had followed the example of the British, there would be such a thing as an American merchant marine to-day. But what did they do ? Simply drew out of the trade with as good a grace as possible, and left it all to “John Bull; ” the result of which has been that British sailing ships, though greatly reduced in numbers, can still show a margin of profit in the present day of steam. The most enterprising of British sailing-shipowners, seeing that steamers had come to stay, rather than relinquish their established trades, strengthened their positions by substituting cargo steamers of small tonnage for sailing ships of large tonnage. The firms which adopted the substitution policy (White Star Line, for instance) hold the foremost place in the shipping world to-day.
As I have already pointed out, the iron industry in America was too small and costly to allow of building iron ships. But why did not American ship-owners buy ships on the other side to carry on their trades ? The reason is not far to seek! Some insane law makes it impossible for a ship whose keel was not laid down in America to fly the Stars and Stripes. What is the meaning of this law, and what good purpose has it served, or does it serve ? Is it not “ protection ” carried beyond a common-sense limit ? Suppose an American firm bought a vessel built in a British yard; let the crew be American also; what would the result be? In spite of the fact that it is American property cared for by American citizens, the ship could not fly the American ensign; could not carry cargo from Portland, Maine, on the Atlantic coast, to Seattle, on the Pacific, a distance, roughly speaking, of about fifteen thousand miles. No; the ship would meet with the same treatment and would have the same restrictions placed upon it as any foreign ship. Is this not absurd? Is it not one of the chief causes of the disappearance of the American merchant marine? Unconsciously, the American government is giving to foreign ship-owners a veritable gold mine, and one which it will take years and years to get back again. As American exports increased year by year, — until they reached the enormous proportions of to-day, — so did her merchant marine grow smaller and smaller until it vanished altogether.
I began this article by stating that European statesmen and other foreign experts look at America with amazement. Can they do anything else when they see a country with the biggest coast-line in the world, with some of the finest seaports, harbors, and rivers in the world, a country which exports millions of bushels of wheat, millions of gallons of oil, millions of feet of lumber, and bales of cotton, not to speak of manufactured articles, — for which she has a good share of the world’s markets, — yet, with all these exports, valued at billions of dollars, not possessing twenty deep-water ships of her own, worthy of the name, to carry her produce over the seas?
Let us continue; there is much more to consider! Where does the American boast of “ always being ahead of the times ” come in ? How can America be ahead of the times when, although she boasts that she can make steel rails in Pittsburg, ship them across to England, pay railway and steamer freights on them, and still put them on the English markets cheaper than English rails can be put on, yet she cannot make steel plates for ships to be built at home at a cheaper rate than that at which a foreign-built ship could be bought?
Let us look at the obstacles that seem to be in the way of a merchant marine. Many claim that cost of building and running ships, want of government aid, and strong rivalry, are the chief obstacles. Let us take the questions of building and running together, and see if they have not their compensations as well as their drawbacks. If American iron-masters can sell their rails so cheaply to foreigners, surely it is possible for them to sell plates at a cheaper rate than foreigners can buy them at. Would this not compensate for dearer labor ? Would not the amount saved in buying plates exceed the amount British or German ship-builders would be to the good on their labor bills? Is the difference between American and British or German shipwrights’ wages so great ? I am afraid not! I am afraid it is not a question of ship-building at present, but more likely a question of ship-building yards. With the exception of Cramps, America has hardly a private ship-building yard of any consequence. Before ship-building yards can come into existence, the desire for a merchant marine must be felt throughout the whole length and breadth of the land; and not, as it is at present, merely by a few public-spirited, patriotic citizens.
American writers and politicians invariably make use of the statement that, “British and German ships receive state aid in the way of grants and subsidies.” This is pure nonsense! With the exception of one or two of the big mail companies — which receive money grants because some of their best ships are subsidized cruisers, and also for carrying the mails — the great majority of vessels depend entirely upon the energies and enterprise of the owners. These owners have to study economy until it has really developed into a fine art with them. They have to use their wits to the best of their ability to make both ends meet; their unaided efforts are the cause of their rise or fall.
When one reads of Senator So-and-So asking Congress to grant shipping subsidies to encourage shipping, does it not seem like asking for “ pap ” to feed a grown-up man on? Why should Congress be asked to subsidize merchant ships any more than railways? Both are private enterprises, are they not ? Is there any difference (looking at it from a business point of view) between owning a fleet of steamers and owning a railway ? Certainly not! State aid if granted to one should be granted to the other. Will a private enterprise that needs coddling by the government be able to compete with the nations now in the field ? Does not coddling suggest timidity and weakness ? Cannot American business men bring into play the brains, dash, and ability that have made America what it is to-day ? Take the case of France. Her ships up to a year or so ago were paid so much per mile traveled. Have her merchant ships increased or decreased ? Statistics declare a decrease! The French merchant service is away astern of Britain’s and Germany’s, whose ships are not state-aided. But leaving this question for the moment, let us look into the question of running expenses.
In the old days, all sailors knew that, though they would be worked like dogs and treated as humans without souls on board American ships, they would get better pay and food than could be obtained in ships of any other nationality.
The food served to the sailors (not officers) was of better quality, and better cooked, than that served to officers on British ships. There was as much difference in the food of the ships of the two nations as there is at present between a first-class New York hotel and a ten-cent boarding-house on the Bowery. The question of wages is different from that of food. Cost of living ashore, also cost of labor, must be taken into consideration, so that the higher wages paid to seamen serving in American ships are not what they seem to be at first sight. Yet we cannot lose sight of the fact that higher wages, better food, also the higher cost of the necessary materials for the safe running of a ship, will make a big difference in the annual profits between an American and a cheaper-run British ship. The total yearly running expenses would probably be about half as much again in the American’s case. These expenses would have to be met by a ship receiving the same remuneration for freight carried the same distance that a cheaper-run British or German ship would receive. But we must leave this question (or objection) also for the time being, and look into the next.
We now come to the last objection, namely, “ strong rivalry.” In the carrying of her own produce, not to speak of that of the world, from country to country, America has to face three strong rivals: Britain and Germany on the Atlantic, and Japan in addition on the Pacific. European minds have given up trying to understand why America allows her produce, etc., to be carried all over the world in foreign bottoms. “ Does trade follow the flag ? ” is a question that has been answered by Britain and Germany long ago. They are both convinced that it certainly does. America has not asked herself the question yet.
At the present time America is represented abroad chiefly by consuls and missionaries. Gone are the business houses and banks that could be seen all over the Eastern world thirty years ago — also in South America. What is the cause of this ? Has American commerce increased or decreased ? The last question needs no answer. “ The disappearance of the American merchant marine is the cause ! ” Let the Stars and Stripes be seen flying at the peaks of ships again in the ports that once knew them, commercial houses and banks will soon spring into existence again. Does it not seem ridiculous that “ American goods are placed on foreign markets by foreigners ” ? Is it not natural for these foreigners to push their own country’s wares to the best advantage, and give them first place on the markets before considering American goods ? Certainly it is! “Blood is thicker than water.”
To the question of state aid, cost of building and running ships, etc., there is only one answer, and that is, “ Trade does follow the flag.” Why should America fear Britain and Germany on the Atlantic, and Japan in addition on the Pacific ? Does she not produce, manufacture, and send all over the world the goods which called into existence a great part of the foreign ships which crowd her harbors ? Has she anything to fear from her rivals? Let us look carefully into the last question. Suppose an American merchant marine of a size sufficient to carry her own exports alone sprang into existence; it would be no mean thing and would have to be reckoned with by the other maritime nations. It would also be of sufficient magnitude to act as a feeder to the American navy, and would be able to transport the army over the seas to American colonial possessions.
Would not American ships get the preference with American goods ? Would not foreign ships have to go away empty from America while American ships would have cargoes right up to the hatchcombings ? A ship to pay must have cargo. While foreign ships would be searching round for cargoes, and at the same time increasing expenses, — with nothing coming in to meet them, — American ships — sailing from America at least — would be making money, while foreign ships would be sinking it. This in itself would wipe clean off the slate nearly all the objections that are raised at present against possessing a merchant marine.
So far I have spoken only of cargo ships. What about the thousands of emigrants who come to the United States in one year alone ? What about the thousands of Americans who “ do Europe ” ? Does any of the passage money paid by these people go into American coffers ? A little, not much! Out of about one hundred passenger steamers crossing the Atlantic throughout the year, America can claim about four only; and they are hardly up to date in the matter of creature comforts, and so forth, though their speed is fairly good. Surely numberless Americans must have read of the frequent squabbles which have taken place between the British and German passenger lines. Are Americans ever taken into consideration in these squabbles? Certainly not! They simply dance to the tune played by the foreign pipers.
At the present time the manager of the leading German line is trying to bring about another conference between all the leading European passenger lines, to arrange what and how many steamers they shall send across to America weekly. His scheme is to arrange if possible that all firms shall have an equal share of the trade and profits; and also to arrange, if possible, that American passengers —unknown to themselves — shall contribute toward a fund which will recompense the lines for the breaking up of obsolete ships. This sinking fund — as we might call it — is to be made up by the interested firms contributing $5 for every first-class passenger carried, and $1.25 for every secondclass passenger. Should this scheme be carried out, it will simply mean that the price of a passage will go up accordingly. I fancy I hear some one say, “ Gee whiz! Reach down that blessed Monroe Doctrine and read it over again! ”
What a sight it is to see European business men openly discussing their methods and profits at America’s expense! Does it not look as though Europe owned America? My present position is that of second officer on a Liverpool liner. In that capacity I have carried thousands of American passengers and thousands of tons of American produce across the Atlantic. In fact, through being in such close touch with things American for the past five years, I have been accused of being more American than British in my sympathies. But no. that can never be! I am British to the backbone, and British I shall remain to the end; I am simply an admirer of certain American men and institutions, and would like to see “ Old Glory ” flying around the world at the peaks of ships a little more than at present.
So far I have said very little about the Pacific. Let us take a look out there and see what is doing. The trade between the United States and Chile and Peru need not be mentioned, as it is too small to bother about. The American trade with Australia, New Zealand, China, and Japan is of great value at the present time, and would probably increase fourfold if carried on by American ships. What has become of the Oceanic Line that sailed from ’Frisco ? Gone! Why ? Crowded out and not enough backing! It was too small to stand alone. Even this line showed that “ Trade followed the flag; ” because the exports from the United States to Australasia increased from about $12,000,000 to $28,000,000 in eight years. Surely if Japan can enter the arena as late as she did, and still make her merchant ships pay, America can do likewise.
Up to the present I have dealt only with merchant ships as they affect commerce. I shall now endeavor to show that it is not only a commercial question, but a national one also; and one that America must answer very soon if she intends to hold her place among nations, as well as to hang on to her over-sea possessions. My statement at the beginning of this article, “ that naval and military experts look at America with amazement,” also requires an answer. Why are European naval and military experts amazed ? Is the American navy or army to be sneered at? Are American sailors or soldiers not as good as European ? Are American battleships inferior to those belonging to Britain, France, or Germany? These questions cannot be answered collectively, but must be discussed separately, each on its own merits. As this article deals with shipping matters as they affect America, let us take the question of the navy first.
“ Are American battleships inferior to those of any other naval power ? ” In the matter of ships and guns, certainly not! The “ White Navy ” of America will compare favorably with that of any country. But does a navy consist of ships and guns alone ? What use are they without the men to handle them? None at all! In fact, it would be better to be without battleships, if they cannot be manned to full strength; they only give one a feeling of false security.
Every American naval officer could, if he would, bear out my statement when I say that nearly every battleship and cruiser in the American navy is undermanned by recruits; that nearly every ship is simply nothing more than a training ship ; that many of the second-class vessels have nothing more than skeleton crews aboard; that to put a new first-class battleship in commission means stripping at least two second-class ships of all their best men. They could also admit that American men-o’-warsmen to a great extent come from inland states, and after serving their commissions go back inland again and seldom, if ever, join for a second term. Personally I have met with the naval men of nearly every country under the sun, and I must honestly confess that to my mind American men-o’-warsmen
— so far as seamanlike appearance goes
— cannot compare with those of any other nationality; they are what they seem, “landsmen dressed up in sailor’s clothes.”
The cruise around the world of the American fleet will do more good toward strengthening the American navy than ten years of harbor or coast work. Hanging around home coasts and ports is bound to weaken the service; more foreign work would go a long way toward making American naval men what they should be; they are simply pampered and cracked up too much. One would think they are all heroes simply because they happen to wear a sailor’s uniform. Take less notice of them and let them go about their work without so much flag-waving. Then they might enter into the spirit of their work without the hope of such trashy nonsense as they are treated to to-day.
America’s small naval skirmish with the Spanish was about as much as she could stand up to at that time, Every available man was in the first firing line; and had there been a single defeat which required the manning of a reserve squadron, it would have been impossible for her to find either officers or men. Had America been fighting a European naval power of any consequence instead of Spain, her navy would have been completely wiped out. Why ? “ Simply because she would not have been able to make up the losses among the men which a hard-fought action would entail; while her enemy could have replaced hers two or three times over.”
What held one hundred years ago, will not hold to-day. In the old days of wooden ships and guns of simple mechanism, it was possible for a man to be of some use aboard a ship within three months. America then had plenty of sailors to lay her hands on; to-day she cannot do this. Instead of sails and muzzle loaders, we have at the present time steam, electricity, and highly scientific mechanism of guns and torpedoes to deal with. To acquire even a working knowledge of these, long training is necessary, not to speak of the great expense. The few untrained merchant seamen that America possesses to-day cannot ship on board a modern battleship and handle her as the sailors of old could their ships.
Let us speak of the Spanish war again. Is it not true that the American transport service engaged in carrying troops a few hundred miles to Cuba was a disgrace to the Stars and Stripes ? Is it not true that the troops were marched on board ships that were badly ventilated, that were not in a sanitary state, and in some cases were unseaworthy ? Were they not packed in ships like herring in a barrel, without proper sleeping accommodation, and without the means of having their food cooked properly ? Is it not true also that the number of ships engaged was too small to supply the army and navy with the foodstuffs and materials necessary to carry on a war successfully ? All this scandal with the home country not five hundred miles distant! The Spaniards were beaten simply through their own weakness and corruption, and by the bull-dog grit shown by the American soldiers and sailors; not by the foresight of those in authority, whose business it was to see that the transport service was adequate for the purpose intended.
Almost at the same time that America was struggling with the transportation of her few troops, the poor slow Britishers were carrying 250,000 troops to South Africa, from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and India, without a hitch; and to a country at least six times farther away from the home country. If my American reader is not too thickheaded, he will now see by what I have been saying that America has a navy half manned by shore men, with no reserve to fall back on in time of war; and an army without the means of transporting it to any of her foreign possessions in numbers sufficient to fight an enemy like Japan. Her colonies could be taken by Japan without her being able to prevent it, simply because she has “ no merchant marine to feed the army and navy with the necessary war materials at any great distance from the home country.” The American navy could not take the offensive, but must act on the defensive, simply because it lacks the vital support of a merchant marine. A navy and a merchant marine go together; one cannot live without the other in time of war, and for the want of an American merchant marine, Japan, and not America, at the present time is “ Mistress of the Pacific,” from both a naval and a commercial point of view.
How long is America going to allow herself to be placed second on the list by an Asiatic power? I cannot and will not believe that the American people — with so much Anglo-Saxon blood in their veins — will be content to play second fiddle to Asiatics much longer. What is the American navy for, as it stands today ? To protect her coasts and commerce? Surely no foreign power would be mad enough to try to land troops on American soil at the present time. The only damage a foreign power could do to America would be to bombard a few unimportant places, the most important, I take it, being well fortified, and with guns that will carry as far as any naval guns. The navy cannot be used to protect her commerce because that is all carried by foreign ships flying their own flags. What is it to be used for, then ? Nothing of importance! Without an American merchant marine, the American navy is just an expensive toy!
Let us look at the question of manning ships and see if there is a solution to it.
Can the spirit of adventure be said to be dead among the Americans of to-day ? Has the mad rush after the “ almighty dollar” killed it altogether? Hardly! Such men as Peary, the ’Frisco and New Bedford whalers, and the Gloucester fishermen are still common around America’s shores; but they have no scope. There must be thousands of sons of Britishers and Scandinavians in America who have the “ call of the sea ” in their blood, and would take to it like a duck to water if they also had scope.
I have often wondered if America real izes that between Portland, Maine, and New York she has some of the finest sailors the world ever did, or ever will, produce; men who face death day in and day out, year in and year out, with a nonchalance that is simply astounding; good, worthy men who are a credit to themselves, and also to the country to which they belong. In fact, from a Britisher’s point of view they are simply “magnificent;” every man-Jack of them is a hero. What does America do with these men ? Why, simply nothing! They are left there to eke out a bare existence; they have no merchant ships to sail in; they cannot, if they wish to, carry the produce of their country over the seas to foreign climes. No, they must “ fish, fish, fish.” That is all that America requires of them at the present time. Has she forgotten, I wonder, “ that it was the forefathers of these men who founded the American navy ? ” Has she also forgotten that the old Constitution was manned by such men as these ? Yes, she has!
Would it not be better if, instead of brave Peary’s trying to place the Stars and Stripes on the North Pole. —where nobody will ever see it, — these fishermen and whalers were given a chance to carry it over the seas to foreign shores ? Sailing round the world in a well-found merchant ship is a much more salubrious employment than fishing off the Newfoundland or Nova Scotia coast in a northeast gale.
Let us look at England and see what she does with her merchant seamen.
Recruited from all ranks in her merchant service, a body of men, numbering thirty thousand at full strength, is incorporated in a force called the Royal Naval Reserve. These men undergo an annual training of one month on board a drill or guard-ship, and, to increase the annual retainer which is paid them, enlist in the navy proper for various short periods not exceeding six months in one year. The officers undergo three months’ training in a gunnery and torpedo depot, and put into practice what they have learned, on board a sea-going battleship, with the rank of acting lieutenant, for a period of one year. So popular is this Reserve that of late years the Admiralty have had to refuse thousands of applicants who wished to join, and select only the very best in the matter of physique and qualifications.
In addition to the Royal Naval Reserve, there is also another body of reserves called the Royal Fleet Reserve. The men in this last reserve are certainly much better (from a naval point of view) than the first men, on account of their having been in the navy proper for a period of at least five years; but, as merchant seamen, they do not come up to the standard of the Naval Reserve men. In addition to these two reserves, there is also the Royal Naval Volunteers; but as this force consists of land-lubbers chiefly, it is not worth considering.
The Royal Naval Reserve is recruited entirely from the merchant service, and includes officers, engineers, seamen, firemen, fishermen (Nova Scotia and Newfoundland included), and pilots. Cooperation between the British naval and merchant ships in the matter of signaling by “ Morse and semaphore ” also exists.
This brief description which I have given of the reserves is given simply to show that a merchant marine can be made use of by the naval authorities in peace as well as in war; and also to point out America’s weakness in not having a merchant marine.
Up to the present I have dealt only with ships, men, and material. Now, suppose that America really intends having a merchant marine of her own, what effect would it have on her domestic trades ? Ship-building yards, with their dependent trades, would spring into existence all along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Ports which at the present time eke out a bare living would increase in population and size. Such ports as San Diego, San Francisco, Astoria, Tacoma, and Seattle, which all have splendid harbors, would not be content with exporting their grain, lumber, salmon, etc., in foreign ships, but would want ship-building yards of their own. All these cities are as important to the welfare of the United States as are New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, on the Atlantic seaboard; in fact they are the gateways to the Eastern world.
Before finishing this article, there is still one more point I wish to bring forward, and that is the American Hydrographic Department, I make bold to say that hardly one American citizen in a thousand understands the meaning of the word, or has ever heard of the institution. The debt of gratitude which nearly every navigator, foreign or American, owes to this institution can never be paid. Captains and officers of ocean liners know how much they are indebted to the officials who govern the department for the information relating to wrecks, derelicts, and icebergs, which are a constant source of danger to the thousands of passengers who cross the Atlantic. Many a weary watch in fog has lost its terrors simply because the positions of these dangers, almost up to date, are supplied (gratis) to every ship leaving American shores. Sailing-ship captains owe many a smart passage to the wind and current charts supplied (also gratis) to them by the Hydrographic Department. As far as practical benefit to seafarers is concerned, “ the American Hydrographic Department is far and away ahead of that of any other nation,” and is blessed by navigators of nearly every country under the sun.
In summing up, I should like to point out to my readers once again that America has the material for building ships; has the commerce to make the ships pay; has some of the finest material in the world for manning purposes, and also possesses the necessary scientific marine knowledge. What is wanted yet ? Simply more public-spirited, patriotic men who understand the true meaning of the word “ patriotism! ” Where is the boasted American patriotism one hears so much about ? Does it consist only of waving the “star-spangled banner ” upon the least provocation ? Is there nothing behind it but the singing of “ My Country ’t is of Thee ” ? Is it of the Salvation Army order: all bands, big drums, and hideous noises; or has it a deeper meaning? The honest outspoken naval men and politicians who see America’s weakness and are not
afraid to expose it are the true patriots, and understand the meaning of the word “ patriotism ” in its true sense. They are not satisfied with seeing the Stars and Stripes floating over buildings in America only; they know full well that there are too many of them there already. What they want to see is, “ the Stars and Stripes carried all over the world by American merchant ships as it was thirty years ago,” and with them in this matter there is at least one “durned Britisher.”