[Footnote 1: See Bullock’s Secret Service of the Confederate States in Europe.]
%518. The Alabama Claims; Geneva Award.%—The hostility of Great Britain was more serious than that of France. As we have seen, the cruisers (Alabama, Shenandoah, Florida) built in her shipyards went to sea and inflicted great injury on our commerce. Although she was well aware of this, she for a long time refused to make good the damage done. But wiser counsel in the end prevailed, and in 1871, by the treaty of Washington, all disputed questions were submitted to arbitration.
The Alabama claims, as they were called, were sent to a board of five arbitrators who met at Geneva (1872) and awarded the United States $15,500,000 to be distributed among our citizens whose ships and property had been destroyed by the cruisers.
%519. Other International Disputes; the Alaska Purchase.%—To the Emperor of Germany was submitted the question of the true water boundary between Washington Territory and British Columbia. He decided in favor of the United States (1872).
To a board of Fish Commissioners was referred the claim of Canada that the citizens of the United States derived more benefit from the fishing in Canadian waters than did the Canadians from using the coast waters of the United States. The award made to Great Britain was $5,500,000 $5,500,000 (1877).
In 1867, we purchased Alaska from Russia for $7,200,000.
Financial History, 1868-1880
1. When the war ended, the national debt consisted of two parts: the bonded, and the unbonded or floating.
2. As public sentiment demanded the reduction of the debt, it was decided to pay the bonds as fast as possible, and contract the currency by canceling the greenbacks.
3. Contraction went on till 1868, when Congress ordered it stopped.
4. The payment of the bonds brought up the question, Shall the 5-20’s be paid in coin or greenbacks?
5. The Democrats in 1868 insisted that the bonds should be redeemed in greenbacks; the Republicans that they should be paid in coin,—and when they won, they passed the “Credit Strengthening Act” of 1869, and in 1870 refunded the bonds at lower rates.
6. In the process of refunding, the 5-20’s, whose principal was payable in greenbacks, were replaced by others payable “in coin.” In 1873, the coinage of the silver dollar was stopped, and the legal-tender quality of silver was taken away. The words “in coin” therefore meant “in gold.”
7. In 1875 it was ordered that all greenbacks should be redeemed in specie after January 1, 1879 (resumption of specie payment).
8. In 1878 silver was made legal tender, and given limited coinage.
The South and the Negro
9. In 1869, three states still refused to comply with the Reconstruction Act of 1867 and had no representatives in Congress.