The Great War Syndicate HTML version
At this juncture the captain of the Eliza Drum ran up a large American flag; in five
minutes afterward the captain of the prize crew hauled it down; in less than ten minutes
after this the Lennehaha and the Dog Star were blazing at each other with their bow guns.
The spark had been struck.
The contest was not a long one. The Dog Star was of much greater tonnage and heavier
armament than her antagonist, and early in the afternoon she steamed for St. John's,
taking with her as prizes both the Eliza Drum and the Lennehaha.
All that night, at every point in the United States which was reached by telegraph, there
burned a smothered fire; and the next morning, when the regular and extra editions of the
newspapers were poured out upon the land, the fire burst into a roaring blaze. From lakes
to gulf, from ocean to ocean, on mountain and plain, in city and prairie, it roared and
blazed. Parties, sections, politics, were all forgotten. Every American formed part of an
electric system; the same fire flashed into every soul. No matter what might be thought
on the morrow, or in the coming days which might bring better under-standing, this day
the unreasoning fire blazed and roared.
With morning newspapers in their hands, men rushed from the breakfast-tables into the
streets to meet their fellow-men. What was it that they should do?
Detailed accounts of the affair came rapidly, but there was nothing in them to quiet the
national indignation; the American flag had been hauled down by Englishmen, an
American naval vessel had been fired into and captured; that was enough! No matter
whether the Eliza Drum was within the three-mile limit or not! No matter which vessel
fired first! If it were the Lennehaha, the more honour to her; she ought to have done it!
From platform, pulpit, stump, and editorial office came one vehement, passionate shout
directed toward Washington.
Congress was in session, and in its halls the fire roared louder and blazed higher than on
mountain or plain, in city or prairie. No member of the Government, from President to
page, ventured to oppose the tempestuous demands of the people. The day for argument
upon the exciting question had been a long weary one, and it had gone by in less than a
week the great shout of the people was answered by a declaration of war against Great
When this had been done, those who demanded war breathed easier, but those who must
direct the war breathed harder.
It was indeed a time for hard breathing, but the great mass of the people perceived no
reason why this should be. Money there was in vast abundance. In every State well-
drilled men, by thousands, stood ready for the word to march, and the military experience
and knowledge given by a great war was yet strong upon the nation.
To the people at large the plan of the war appeared a very obvious and a very simple one.
Canada had given the offence, Canada should be made to pay the penalty. In a very short