The Great War Syndicate
The Great War Syndicate
In the spring of a certain year, not far from the close of the nineteenth century, when the
political relations between the United States and Great Britain became so strained that
careful observers on both sides of the Atlantic were forced to the belief that a serious
break in these relations might be looked for at any time, the fishing schooner Eliza Drum
sailed from a port in Maine for the banks of Newfoundland.
It was in this year that a new system of protection for American fishing vessels had been
adopted in Washington. Every fleet of these vessels was accompanied by one or more
United States cruisers, which remained on the fishing grounds, not only for the purpose
of warning American craft who might approach too near the three-mile limit, but also to
overlook the action of the British naval vessels on the coast, and to interfere, at least by
protest, with such seizures of American fishing boats as might appear to be unjust. In the
opinion of all persons of sober judgment, there was nothing in the condition of affairs at
this time so dangerous to the peace of the two countries as the presence of these
American cruisers in the fishing waters.
The Eliza Drum was late in her arrival on the fishing grounds, and having, under orders
from Washington, reported to the commander of the Lennehaha, the United States vessel
in charge at that place, her captain and crew went vigorously to work to make up for lost
time. They worked so vigorously, and with eyes so single to the catching of fish, that on
the morning of the day after their arrival, they were hauling up cod at a point which,
according to the nationality of the calculator, might be two and three- quarters or three
and one-quarter miles from the Canadian coast.
In consequence of this inattention to the apparent extent of the marine mile, the Eliza
Drum, a little before noon, was overhauled and seized by the British cruiser, Dog Star. A
few miles away the Lennehaha had perceived the dangerous position of the Eliza Drum,
and had started toward her to warn her to take a less doubtful position. But before she
arrived the capture had taken place. When he reached the spot where the Eliza Drum had
been fishing, the commander of the Lennehaha made an observation of the distance from
the shore, and calculated it to be more than three miles. When he sent an officer in a boat
to the Dog Star to state the result of his computations, the captain of the British vessel
replied that he was satisfied the distance was less than three miles, and that he was now
about to take the Eliza Drum into port.
On receiving this information, the commander of the Lennehaha steamed closer to the
Dog Star, and informed her captain, by means of a speaking-trumpet, that if he took the
Eliza Drum into a Canadian port, he would first have to sail over his ship. To this the
captain of the Dog Star replied that he did not in the least object to sail over the
Lennehaha, and proceeded to put a prize crew on board the fishing vessel.