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The Venezuela Crisis of 1895 was a diplomatic incident which occurred during the second term of Grover Cleveland. It involved Venezuela's longstanding dispute with the United Kingdom about the territory of Essequibo and Guayana Esequiba. Britain claimed these as part of British Guiana, while Venezuela saw them as Venezuelan territory. Britain's refusal to submit the dispute to international arbitration and considered military intervention as a means of resolving the issue. The crisis ultimately attracted American intervention in the dispute to force arbitration of the entire disputed territory, according to Cleveland's interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine.


The dispute became a diplomatic crisis in 1895 when Venezuela's lobbyist William L. Scruggs tried to convince the United States that British behavior violated the Monroe Doctrine. He used his influence in Washington, D.C. to pursue the matter. President Grover Cleveland adopted a broad interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine. According to Cleveland, it did not just prevent new European colonies, but it also declared an American interest in any matter within the hemisphere. British prime minister Lord Salisbury and the British ambassador to Washington, Julian Pauncefote, underestimated the importance the American government placed on the dispute. When they realized the importance of the issue to Cleveland, they ultimately accepted the American demand for arbitration of the entire territory. A tribunal convened in Paris in 1898 to decide the matter, and in 1899 awarded the bulk of the disputed territory to British Guiana.

By standing with a Latin American nation against European colonial powers, Cleveland improved relations with the United States' southern neighbors, but the professional and impartial manner in which the negotiations were conducted also helped relations with Britain. By backing down in the face of a strong interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine, Britain conveyed its acceptance of the Doctrine.

The White House Easter Egg Roll

I get different information from different sources about how the tradition of the White House Easter Egg Roll began, though one pretty good source is White House Curator Bill Allman. According to Allman, Dolly Madison, the wife of President James Madison, began the event in 1814 and hundreds of children brought their decorated eggs to join in games.


In the mid 19th century, the tradition became one the Easter Monday Egg Roll and it took place on the grounds of the United States Capitol. By the mid 1870s, the egg rolling activities on the West Terraces had gained considerable popularity. During the administration of President Andrew Johnson, children from the President's family dyed eggs on Sunday for the Monday rolling, which the First Lady would watch from the South Portico. Only small groups of egg rollers were reported on the White House grounds under the presidency of General Ulysses S. Grant, with the majority of egg rolling activity and all day picnics taking place at the Capitol.

The egg roll activity of 1876 took its toll on the grounds, a fact that annoyed some members of Congress. With an inadequate budget to complete the landscaping and maintenance of the grounds, Congress passed a law forbidding the Capitol grounds to be used as a children's playground. The law was to be enforced in 1877. But that Easter Monday rain poured down, canceling any outdoor activities sending the egg rollers indoors to play.

On Easter Saturday of 1878, a small announcement in the local press informed the egg rollers the new law would be enforced. President Rutherford B. Hayes, who was taking his daily walk, was approached by a number of young egg rollers who asked about the possibilities of egg rolling on the South Lawn of the White House. Hayes inquired amongst his staff who briefed Hayes on past practices. Hayes then issued an official order that should any children arrive to egg roll on Easter Monday, they were to be allowed to do so. That Monday, as children were being turned away from the Capitol grounds, word quickly spread to go to the White House!

President Hayes and his wife, Lucy, officially opened the White House grounds to the children of the area for egg rolling that Easter Monday. Successive Presidents continued the tradition, and the event has been held on the South Lawn ever since.

The event has been canceled on occasion only because of poor weather conditions and during World War I and World War II. During the war years egg rollers were spotted on the grounds surrounding the Washington Monument, at the National Zoo, and even returning to the grounds surrounding the Capitol!

By the late 1800s such games as "Egg Picking," "Egg Ball," "Toss and Catch," and "Egg Croquet" were popular Easter Monday activities. The children attending the event take part in many newer activities, but rolling a hard-boiled egg across the lawn is still a highlight of the day. Presidents and First Ladies have personally greeted the egg rollers as have members of the Cabinet, athletes, musicians, celebrities from film, television, and theater and the official White House Easter Bunny. At the end of the day as egg rollers leave, each receives a special presidential wooden egg complete with the signatures of the President and the First Lady.

This year, the White House Easter Egg Roll will be held on Monday, April 21st, 2014, and it is said to be the 136th annual. This year’s theme is “Hop into Healthy, Swing into Shape,” and more than 30,000 people will assemble on the South Lawn to join in the event, which will feature live music, sports courts, cooking stations, storytelling and, of course, Easter egg rolling.

I hope you're having a happy Easter wherever you are.
For many people, their first thought about President Herbert Hoover is that he was the President when the great depression did its worst to the United States. He was portrayed by his enemies as an uncaring capitalist. This impression is not factually correct, though it is true that the depression began and the stock market crashed on Hoover's watch. It was also during his presidency that the Bonus Marchers, who participated in a protest in Washington D.C., were callously dealt with by US troops commanded by one Douglas MacArthur, and Hoover has had to wear that outrage, even though MacArthur disobeyed Hoover's orders and attacked the marchers. But in his time, Hoover was also known as a great humanitarian, both prior to and after his presidency. He was someone who worked hard to feed the starving at home and abroad.


Hoover's most significant humanitarian efforts surrounded the two world wars of the 20th century. When World War I began in August 1914, before the United States was a participant in the war, Hoover helped to organize the return of around 120,000 Americans from Europe. He organized about 500 volunteers in distributing food, clothing, steamship tickets and cash to his countrymen who were stuck in the war zone, unable to return home without help. But he didn't restrict his activities to just Americans.

When Belgium faced a food crisis after being invaded by Germany in 1914, Hoover commended a relief effort by starting the Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB). As chairman of the CRB, Hoover worked with Belgian political leader Émile Francqui to provide food for the entire nation for the duration of the war. The CRB obtained and imported millions of tons of foodstuffs for Francqui's organization to distribute, and supervised food distribution to make sure the German army didn't appropriate the food. The CRB became a remarkable organization, with its own ships, factories, mills, and railroads. Private donations and government grants supplied the CRB's $11-million-a-month budget.

For the next two years, Hoover worked many long days from London, administering the distribution of over two million tons of food to nine million war victims. He crossed the North Sea forty times to meet with German authorities and persuade them to allow food shipments. This raised his international profile and status and he was seen as a great humanitarian. The Belgian city of Leuven named a prominent square Hooverplein after him. Hoover's organization fed up to 10.5 million people daily. But not everyone admired Hoover for his efforts. Great Britain believed that it was Germany's obligation to supply the relief. Winston Churchill was among Hoover's critics.

After the United States entered the war in April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Hoover to head the U.S. Food Administration, which was created under the Lever Food Control Act in 1917. Hoover established set days for people to avoid eating specified foods and save them for soldiers' rations. He established "meatless Mondays", "wheatless Wednesdays", and "when in doubt, eat potatoes". This program helped reduce consumption of foods needed overseas. It was called "Hooverizing" by government publicists. The agency also instituted a system of price controls and licensing requirements for suppliers to maximize production.

After the war, as head of the American Relief Administration, Hoover organized shipments of food for millions of starving people in Central Europe. He used a newly formed Quaker organization, the American Friends Service Committee, to carry out much of the work in Europe. He also provided aid to the defeated German nation after the war, as well as relief to famine-stricken Bolshevik-controlled areas of Russia in 1921, despite opposition from Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and other Republicans. A reporter asked Hoover if he was not helping to support Bolshevism. Hoover replied, "Twenty million people are starving. Whatever their politics, they shall be fed!".

At the end of the war, the New York Times named Hoover one of the "Ten Most Important Living Americans". President Wilson privately courted Hoover as his successor, and he briefly considered becoming a Democrat. In 1919 he established the Hoover War Collection at Stanford University. He donated all the files of the Commission for Relief in Belgium, the U.S. Food Administration, and the American Relief Administration, and pledged $50,000 as an endowment. The collection was later renamed the Hoover War Library and is now known as the Hoover Institution.


After his defeat in the 1932 election as President, Hoover was bitterly disliked by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and he was shut out of any government activity. But after Roosevelt died and Harry Truman became President, the nation once again called on Hoover for humanitarian relief work. Hoover and Truman became friends and, because of Hoover's previous experience with Germany at the end of World War I, in 1946 Truman asked Hoover to tour Germany to determine the food status of the occupied nation. Hoover toured what was to become West Germany and he produced a number of reports critical of U.S. occupation policy. On Hoover's initiative, a school meals program in the American and British occupation zones of Germany was begun on April 14, 1947. The program served 3,500,000 children aged six through 18. A total of 40,000 tons of American food was provided during the Hooverspeisung (Hoover meals).
James Buchanan consistently is ranked among the worst American Presidents, and in the 2004 American Presidents Series volume about Buchanan's presidency, historian Jean Baker carefully analyzes the reasons why Buchanan is deserving of his low ranking. In this concise (152 page) and intelligent analysis (all of the books in this series are of this length), Baker traces Buchanan's life from his upbringing, his early career as a lawyer and politician, his tenure as Secretary of State, and his runs at the presidency before embarking on a careful analysis of the most pressing issues of the Buchanan presidency.


Baker's analysis of Buchanan's presidency focuses on some of the biggest challenges he faced, including the conflict between the pro- and anti-slavery governments in Kansas. The last section of the book focuses on the final months of the Buchanan presidency, when trouble erupted in South Carolina, leading to the secession of a number of southern states, and ultimately to the civil war. Baker points out how Buchanan entered the presidency as well-prepared as any chief executive. So what went wrong? Baker dispels the myth that Buchanan was weak and indecisive, and makes the case for her subject's real shortcomings. In spite of Buchanan's Pennsylvania roots, Baker explains how Buchanan had strong pro-southern sympathies and sentiments, and how he was out of step with his times on the issue of slavery. When the south moved towards succession, Buchanan responded with rhetoric instead of action, not wanting to offend his favorite constituency. Under the president's nose, the southern members of his cabinet readied themselves for what was to come by sending weapons and other supplies to their home states.

Baker compares previous analyses of the Buchanan administration, including Buchanan's own post-mortem of his time in office. In a careful examination of the various theories of why Buchanan did nothing while the nation disintegrated, Baker challenges the competing theories that Buchanan was a strict constitutionalist or a do-nothing ditherer. She makes a compelling case that Buchanan was "an intellectual and electoral hostage" to the South, and how he let ideology trump pragmatism. Baker provides both an excellent analysis of the Buchanan presidency, and showcases her own brilliance in the process.
On December 8, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower addressed the UN General Assembly in New York, and delivered an address which became known as his "Atoms for Peace" speech. In the address, Eisenhower advocated for the use of nuclear energy not as a weapon of war, but as an instrument for peace.

The speech was part of a media campaign called "Operation Candor". It's goal was to inform the American public on the risks and hopes of a nuclear future. It part of Eisenhower's Cold War strategy of containment. The speech opened a media campaign that sought to balance fears of continuing nuclear armament with hopes of peaceful use of uranium for future nuclear reactors. Eisenhower was attempting to bring comfort to a terrified world after the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and of the nuclear tests of the early 1950s.

The speech also had a strategic purpose with U.S. allies in Europe. Eisenhower wanted to make sure that the European allies would go along with the shift in NATO strategy from an emphasis on conventional weapons to cheaper nuclear weapons. Western Europeans in turn wanted reassurance that the U.S. did not intend to provoke a nuclear war in Europe. The speech was intended to give that sense of reassurance. Eisenhower later said that he knew the Soviets would reject the specific proposal he offered in the speech.

In the speech, Eisenhower said:

"It is with the book of history, and not with isolated pages, that the United States will ever wish to be identified. My country wants to be constructive, not destructive. It wants agreement, not wars, among nations. It wants itself to live in freedom, and in the confidence that the people of every other nation enjoy equally the right of choosing their own way of life."

Prior to Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace speech the state of atomic development in the world was a secret for the general public and the media. In World War II the allies had signed a secret pact known as the Quebec Agreement of 1943, which kept atomic development kept under wraps. Eisenhower’s speech was important because it brought the atomic issue, which had been kept quiet for “national security”, into the public eye. Eisenhower asked the world to support his goal of taking a horrible weapon and repurposing it to make the world safe.

Eisenhower was not exclusively committed to using nuclear weapons for peaceful purposes. He believed that having a massive atomic weapon base would deter the Soviet Union and so he had his Department of Defence ready to strike at any time. During his time in office the nuclear holdings of the US rose from 1,005 to 20,000 of such weapons.

However Atoms for Peace opened up nuclear research to civilians and countries that had not previously possessed nuclear technology. Eisenhower wanted a nonproliferation agreement throughout the world and a stop to the spread of military use of nuclear weapons. Although the nations that already had atomic weapons kept them, very few other countries developed similar weapons. The Atoms for Peace program also created regulations for the use of nuclear power and through these regulations have stopped other countries from developing weapons while allowing the technology to be used for positive means.

Today, if one visits the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas, inside the chapel where the Eisenhowers have been laid to rest, one can see excerpts from the Atoms for Peace speech etched on the surrounding marble. Here's a quote from another of Eisenhower's speeches which is equally eloquent on the subject of peace:

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

At the conclusion of his second and final term as President, George Washington delivered what is known as his "Farewell Address" to the nation. At a time before television and electronic media, Washington wrote a letter addressed to "The People of the United States of America". The letter was published in Daved Claypole's American Daily Advertiser on September 19, 1796 under the title "The Address of General Washington To The People of The United States on his declining of the Presidency of the United States". It was reprinted in newspapers across the country and later published in a pamphlet form.

A large part of Washington's farewell address discussed the subject of foreign relations, and the dangers of permanent alliances between the United States and foreign nations. This issue had was a hot one in American politics during conflict between France and Britain, known as the French Revolutionary Wars. Two factions of his government wanted to ally with different sides of the dispute. The Federalists wanted to join sides with Britain and the Democratic-Republicans wanted to aid France. Washington had avoided American involvement in the conflict by issuing the Proclamation of Neutrality, which in turn led to the Neutrality Act of 1794.

In his farewell address, Washington argued for a policy of good faith and justice towards all nations. he urged the American people to avoid long-term friendly relations or rivalries with any nation. He wrote that these attachments and animosity toward nations will only cloud the government's judgment in its foreign policy. Washington argued that longstanding poor relations will only lead to unnecessary wars due to a tendency to blow minor offenses out of proportion when committed by nations viewed as enemies of the United States.

Washington continued his argument by claiming that alliances are likely to draw the United States into wars which have no justification and no benefit to the United States. He said that alliances often lead to poor relations with nations who feel that they are not being treated as well as America's allies, and threatened to influence the American government into making decisions based upon the will of their allies instead of the will of the American people.

Washington warned of the dangers of foreign nations who seek to influence the American people and government. He argues that both America's friends and its enemies will try to influence the government to do their will and it will only be "real patriots" who ignore popular opinion and resist the influence of friendly nations to seek what is best for their own country. He urged the American people to take advantage of their isolated position in the world, and avoid "attachments and entanglements in foreign affairs", especially those of Europe, which he said have little or nothing to do with the interests of America. He argued that it mads no sense for the American people to wage war on European soil and that their isolated position and unity allowed them to remain neutral and focus on their own affairs.

Washington said that temporary alliances during times of extreme danger may be necessary, and current treaties should be honored. He concluded his foreign policy statement by advocating for free trade with all nations. he said that trade links should be established naturally and the role of the government should be limited to insuring stable trade, defending the rights of American merchants, and doing what is necessary to insure that the government is able to insure the conventional rules of trade.


To this day, Washington's Farewell Address is considered to be one of the most important documents in American history.
Throughout history. it seems that whenever America was at war or war seemed imminent, free speech and first amendment rights were an early casualty. For example, in 1798, when war with France appeared possible, the administration of John Adams brought about the Alien and Sedition Acts, which, among other things, restricted speech which was critical of the federal government. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln put limits on free speech, even going so far as to "deport" Ohio Congressman Clement Vlandingham to Confederate territory for his activities that were critical of the government's prosecution of the war and his efforts to organize a peace movement, called "Copperheads" by their critics. Sometimes these limitations are justified, other times they are not, or they go too far. Sometimes the law is enforced not for valid security reasons, but for political ones.

During the first world war, the administration of President Woodrow Wilson passed the Espionage Act of 1917. This was expanded on by the Sedition Act of 1918 (technically a set of amendments to the Espionage Act), which prohibited many forms of speech, including "any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States...or the flag of the United States, or the uniform of the Army or Navy". As a Senator, Warren Harding believed that these amendments went too far. Harding had been a newspaper publisher and editor in Marion, Ohio, and he was very concerned about how far the act went to muzzle a free press.


Eugene Victor Debs was a former Indiana congressman, and a prominent labor leader. On three occasions, he ran for President of the United States as the candidate for the Socialist Party. When the United States entered World War One, Debs was a very vocal critic of President Wilson. He gave a number of speeches against the Wilson administration and the war. It's probably not too strong to say that Wilson hated Debs, whom he called a "traitor to his country." On June 16, 1918, Debs made a speech in Canton, Ohio, urging Americans to resist the military draft that had been established World War I. Among other things, he said that the president was using the nation's young men as "cannon fodder". Debs was arrested on June 30 and charged with ten counts of sedition. He was found guilty on September 12 and on November 18, 1918, he was sentenced to ten years in prison. When sentenced, he told the court:

"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."

Debs served his sentence in an Atlanta penitentiary. According to historian David Pietrusza and others, Debs was loved and admired both by his fellow prisoners, as well as by the Warden and prison staff. Pietrusza describes Debs in saint-like terms. Debs was even allowed to campaign for President from his prison cell in 1920. In that election, Debs received his greatest number of votes, 913,693.

When Warren Harding became President on March 4, 1921, he reviewed the Debs case. Later in the year, there were reports that Debs' health was deteriorating. Harding commuted Debs sentence to one of time served so that Debs could be released in time for Christmas of 1921. Harding did not issue a pardon. The White House released a statement saying this about Debs' case:

"There is no question of his guilt....He was by no means as rabid and outspoken in his expressions as many others, and but for his prominence and the resulting far-reaching effect of his words, very probably might not have received the sentence he did. He is an old man, not strong physically. He is a man of much personal charm and impressive personality, which qualifications make him a dangerous man calculated to mislead the unthinking and affording excuse for those with criminal intent."

When Debs was released from the Atlanta Penitentiary, the other prisoners sent him off with "a roar of cheers" and a crowd of 50,000 greeted his return to Terre Haute to the accompaniment of band music. On the way home to Terre Haute, Debs stopped off in Washington at the White House, where he was warmly received by President Harding. On meeting Debs, harding said: "Well, I've heard so damned much about you, Mr. Debs, that I am now glad to meet you personally."

Though Harding often ranks among the worst presidents because of the scandals that others in his administration perpetrated, author James David Rosenalt has a more complimentary assessment of Harding, one I tend to agree with. in his 2009 book The Harding Affair (reviewed in a separate post in this community today), Robenalt writes at pages 3-4:

He had a rare political attribute: courage. In his first address to Congress, he asked for the passage of an anti-lynching law. Six months after taking office, he was the first sitting president to travel into the deep south to make a bold civil rights speech. Democracy was a lie if blacks were denied political equality, he told an enormous crowd separated by color and a chain-link fence in Birmingham, Alabama. A few months later, on his first Christmas in the White House, he pardoned Socialist leader Eugene Debs, who was rotting away in an Atlanta prison. Debs's crime? He spoke out against the draft and the war after America entered the conflict.

Book Review: The Harding Affair

In his 2009 book The Harding Affair, author James David Robenalt makes the observation that "history would be no fun if we didn't have puzzles to solve and questions to ponder." Robenalt puts a doozy of a puzzle before the reader in this interesting and entertaining account of the relationship between Senator (and later President) Warren G. Harding and his mistress, Carrie Phillips. Using some of the correspondence that the romantically goofy Harding sent to Mrs. Phillips, Robenalt pieces together the story of not just the couple's dalliances, but also the story of espionage surrounding his German sympathizer lover at a time when America was at war.


In 1964, a series of letters written by future president Warren Harding to Carrie Phillips, were located in Phillips' home after her death. Phillips, who was the wife of one of Harding's close friends, was also very pro-German at a time when the world was torn apart by the First World War. At first, pro- and anti- German sympathies divided the neutral nation, but after the United States entered the war on the side of the allies and a wave of anti-German sentiment swept across America, the hunt was on for spies and those who leaked military information to the enemy. Mrs. Phillips was one of those strongly suspected of such unpatriotic activity, complicating Harding's relationship.

The book also tells the story of the Baroness Zollner, aka Iona Pickhardt, whose cousin was betrothed to Carrie Phillips' daughter Isabelle. When the Baroness is caught in a hotel room in Tennessee with a young army lieutenant, she is arrested and a preliminary hearing is held to determine if she should be put on trial for spying. Robenalt weaves in this tale and its proximity to Carrie Phillips and Harding. The author does a superb job of telling all of the aspects of this story including the amusing, the sensational, the legitimate and the unfair.

Though we see that Harding is Clintonesque in his libido, Robenalt gives Harding credit for his statesmanship and sound (political) judgement at a time when the nation is suffering from the injury to free speech and other freedoms that accompany wartime. We only have Harding's side of the correspondence, which Phillips kept as for purposes of blackmail, but Robenalt does a superb job and a fair job of interpreting the letters, even in explaining the code which the lovers used. He gives the reader insight into how much Harding knew about his girlfriend's clandestine activity, and raises a number of questions about why Baroness Zollner was never tried or convicted, and why Harding's political opponents never used the affair or the investigation of his mistress as a political weapon against him in his run for the presidency in 1920.

History as mystery is always wonderful to read, and it's also a bonus when the author can tell us interesting things that we never knew. History geeks will appreciate and enjoy this book. Those who aren't history fans, but who like a spirited tale, will also find this to be a fun book. It's like eating delicious candy and being told it's good for you. In spit of some of its salacious subject matter, this is an intelligent and brilliant work.

The Death of Abraham Lincoln

Although Abraham Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865 at around 10:13 p.m., he managed to hold on to life, remaining in a coma for over 9 hours before passing away at 7:22 a.m. on the morning of April 15, 1865 (149 years ago today.)

Charles Leale (shown in the picture below) was a young Army surgeon who happened to be in attendance at Ford's Theater the night Lincoln was shot. Leale made his way through the crowd to the door at the rear of the Presidential box. At first the door would not open, but inside the box Major Henry Rathbone saw a notch carved in the door and a wooden brace jammed there by assassin John Wilkes Booth. Rathbone removed the brace to open the door and let Leale in. The young doctor found Rathbone bleeding profusely from a deep gash that ran the length of his upper left arm. But his priority was the President. He passed Rathbone by and stepped forward to find Lincoln slumped forward in his chair, held by Mary, who was sobbing. Lincoln had no pulse and Leale believed him to be dead. Leale lowered the President to the floor.

A second doctor in the audience, Charles Sabin Taft, was lifted bodily from the stage over the railing and into the box. Taft and Leale cut away Lincoln's blood-stained collar and opened his shirt, and Leale, feeling around by hand, discovered the bullet hole in the back of his head by his left ear. Leale attempted to remove the bullet. He was unable to do so, but dislodged a clot of blood in the wound which improved Lincoln's breathing. Leale discovered that if he continued to release blood clots at a specific time, Lincoln would still breathe. He saw that the bullet had entered Lincoln's skull, fractured part of it badly and went through the left side of his brain. On noticing this, Leale told those present, "his wound is mortal. It is impossible for him to recover."

Leale, Taft, and Albert King, another doctor from the audience, quickly consulted and decided that the President had to be moved, but that a bumpy carriage ride across town to the White House was out of the question. They chose to carry Lincoln across the street and find a house. The three doctors and some soldiers who had been in the audience carried the President out the front entrance of Ford's Theatre. Across the street, a man was holding a lantern and calling "Bring him in here! Bring him in here!" The man was Henry Safford, a boarder at William Petersen's boarding house. The men carried Lincoln into the boarding house and into the first-floor bedroom, where they laid him diagonally on the bed because his tall frame would not fit normally on the smaller bed.

A vigil began at the Petersen House. The three physicians were joined by Surgeon General of the United States Army Joseph K. Barnes, his assistant Major Charles Henry Crane, Anderson Ruffin Abbott, and Dr. Robert K. Stone. Stone was Lincoln's personal physician. The President's 22 year old son Robert Lincoln, who home been at the White House that evening, arrived at the Petersen House after learning of the shooting at about midnight. Lincoln's 12 year old son Tad, who had attended Grover's Theater to see Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, was not allowed to go to the Petersen House, but he was at Grover's Theater when the play was interrupted to report the news of the President's assassination.

Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles and United States Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton came and took charge of the scene. Mary Lincoln was so unhinged by the experience of the assassination that Stanton ordered her out of the room. He is said to have shouted, "take that woman out of here and do not let her in here again!" While Mary Lincoln sobbed in the front parlor, Stanton set up in the rear parlor, running the United States government for several hours, sending and receiving telegrams, taking reports from witnesses, and issuing orders for the pursuit of the assassin John Wilkes Booth.

Nothing more could be done for the President. At 7:22 a.m. 10 seconds on April 15, 1865, he died. He was fifty-six years old. Mary Lincoln was not present at the time of his death. The crowd around the bed knelt for a prayer, and when they were finished, Stanton said, "Now he belongs to the ages". (There is some disagreement among historians as to Stanton's words after Lincoln died. All agree that he began "Now he belongs to the..." with some stating he said ages while others believe he said angels.)

Lincoln's body was wrapped in a US flag and taken in the rain to the White House by Union officers, while the city's church bells rang. Vice President Andrew Johnson was sworn in as President at 10:00 am that morning. Lincoln's body lay in state in the East Room, and then in the Capitol Rotunda from April 19 through April 21. For three weeks, his funeral train brought the body to cities across the North for large-scale memorials attended by hundreds of thousands, as well as many people who gathered in informal trackside tributes with bands, bonfires and hymn singing. On May 3, 1865 the train arrived in Springfield, Illinois where Lincoln was interred at Oak Ridge Cemetery.
The Alabama was a Confederate warship that was built in 1862 for the Confederate States Navy. The Alabama was built at Birkenhead, England by the English shipbuilding firm of John Laird Sons and Company. During the Civil War it served as what was known as a "commerce raider". It would attack Union merchant and naval ships in a variety of locations including the Caribbean, South Africa, Newfoundland and the east coast of the United States. Over a two-year period it inflicted significant damage to Union commercial vessels. There were also four other ships which were built for the Confederacy by the British, which performed a similar raiding function, but the Alabama caused the most damage. In June of 1864 the Alabama was sunk in battle by the USS Kearsarge at the naval Battle of Cherbourg outside the port of Cherbourg, France.

The Alabama caused nearly $6,000,000 worth of damage (approximately $123,000,000 in today's dollars). After the war ended, the U. S. Government pursued the "Alabama Claims" against the British Government for the devastation caused, based on international law. The American claim was that Britain had violated its neutrality by recognition and support of Confederate belligerents. It did so by cooperating in the building of the ships, and providing a port for it.

When the war ended, the United States demanded retribution. Initially, the British refused to pay. Negotiations between the two nations continued during the Andrew Johnson Administration, but a sticking point was the claims of "indirect damages" as opposed to the harm directly caused by the five ships. Senator Charles Sumner believed that the United States should seek a $2 billion reward payable in gold or, alternatively, by ceding Canada to the United States.

During the administration of President Ulysses Grant, Secretary of State Hamilton Fish convinced his president that peaceful relations with Britain were more important than acquisition of more territory, and the two nations agreed to negotiate along those lines. Grant allowed Secretary Fish to conclude negotiations with Britain. A commission met in Washington in May of 1871. The British delegation included Sir John A. Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada (which had made the transition from colonies to nation on July 1, 1867.) Those negotiations produced a treaty, known as the Treaty of Washington. It was agreed that an international tribunal would settle the amount of damage owed to the United States by Great Britain. The British admitted "regret", rather than fault. The Senate approved the Treaty of Washington, which also settled disputes over fishing rights and maritime boundaries with Canada. The treaty was approved by a 50–12 vote in the senate.


The following year, at Geneva, the United States was awarded $15,500,000 pursuant to the terms of the treaty, and the British apologized for the destruction caused by the British-built Confederate ships, while admitting no guilt.


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