The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, December 01, 1914, Page 9, Image 9

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The Commoner
buy old, secondhand vessels and use them In
dangerous waters, at a high cost for repair and
for services for which they wero not designed.
Neither the American people nor congress desiro
that lives shall continue to bo sacrificed when
measures can be taken which will stop the sac
rifice at trifling cost. Both congress and the
American people are willing to spend for need
ful work well done whatever that work requires
for its reasonable performance.
There is 'so much talk about governmental
extravagance that thp people hardly understand
that some of their services are run upon a basis
that it would be lavish to call frugal. They do
not want their officers who must stay at sea to
.be obliged to eat and- sleep and wash in the same
room as they are now obliged to do. They are
just as anxious that their seamen shall have
sufficient room and air in which to sleep as they
are that their children shall be provided with air
in schoolhouses. It has been suggested as per
haps a1 kindly criticism of administrative officers
that they are properly enthusiastic over their
own-work, but no such disclaimer will do away
with hard facts, When a steamer must do work
at sea that has not sufficient power for steerage
way in heavy-weather, the risk and responsibil
ity can not lie upon this department, but must
rest with those, to whom, when the- facts are
plainly statqd, is given the honorable duty of
providing funds that such conditions shall' no
longer exist.
It is a shameful thing to send officers of the
United States to sea ,in such ships as the Endeav
or, the Gedney, and the McArthur. To require
the continued use of these ships is but little re
moved in wisdom from a policy which would re
fuse to build a modern battleship because the old
Constitution was still in existence. With a loyal
willingness to' accept the dolo handed them by
a" grdat government, the service has continued
these 'ships in Use. It can do so little longer.
By the time new vessels dan be built to replace
tliem it will; be a grave question whether these
stiips can b& Sent to sea at all and whether the
important work they do must nbt be stopped till
safe' vessels are provided.
'"If fflr aMpoment.i' were conceded, which it is
notr that the coast au'd geodetic survey was itself
negligent, and .extravagant, there would remain
lftTredsoimble qxqfse,,for the continued use of
these ships.' They are expensive luxuries, posting
largely for maintenance, extravagant in the
vyasto of time and fjiel and likely to be even
more extravagant lin the waste of lives.
$ . These old, obsolete ships, without wireless
equipment and deficient in many modern appli
ances, can. not be safely used except in protected
wafers, The .expepse of repairing them is great
and becoming greater. The Endeavor, now
working, in sheltered waters on our Atlantic
coast, can not be, sent to the Pacific, since she
qould not survive the voyage. The steamers
Gedney and McArthur, while still employed on
surveys in sheltered waters in the Pacific, are
unfit 'for service. These three' old steamers are,
respectively, 52, 39, and 38 years old, are single
screw, single-cylinder, and single-boiler coal
burning vessels, without electricity for wireless
or for lighting, without refrigerating plants,
without condensers to make fresh drinking
water, and with quarters such as were, indeed,
permissible at a somewhat remote age in our
marine development but which, like their other
equipment, are now medieval.
.There is a very large amount of survey work
heeded all along the Pacific coast, especially on
banks and reefs as yet only imperfectly developed-
Such are Blunts Iteef, off Cape Mendo
cino; Hoceta Bank, off the Suislaw river; and a
bank. 12 miles off the Alseya river. The off
shore work from the Mexican boundary all the
way to Cape Elizabeth, Wash., a stretch of 1,200
miles, Is incomplete, and there is one reach of
150 miles from Cape Blanco to Cape Lookout
where no systematic. work has been done. De
tailed development work is needed off all the
projecting points of the coast, such as Points
Conception, Buchon, Lopez, Cape Mendocino, Eel
river, Humbolt bay, Trinidad point, St. George,
Cape Blanco, Cape Lookout, etc: The entire
Pacific coast will not be' as safe as it ought to
be till this work is done. For it strong,, sea
worthy vessels with ample power and wide
steaming radius are necessary. 'Neither of the
three old ships mentioned can be risked in sucli
But the restrictions placed upon the coast and
geo'detic survey througli ancient' vessels are not
all the ' burdens this service' has to ' bear It is
not provided with the necessary apparatus for
making the soundings which it Is required by
law to carry on and for which it exists. Sad
experience has shown that tho ordinary sound
ing apparatus will not dotect that dangerous fo0
of tho navigator tho pinnacle rock. On various
points of our coast sharp spines of rock project
from tho bottom with points so small that a
Bounding lino glances off. Two such have with
in recent years caused serious Iobsos. One was
the means of sinking tho lighthouso tender
America on May 20, 1912, causing a loss of
$175,000, and another Bank tho steamship Stato
of California on August 17, 1913, with a loss of
31 lives and $350,000 valuo in property. Half
tho cost of these two wrecks used in surveying
with the only apparatus for tho purpose would
have gone far to making tho coast of Alaska
safe. In cases of this kind the use of what is
known as a "wire drag" is essential to make
channels and harbors safe for vessels. There Is
no other method by which safety can bo assured,
and the extension of this work is an urgent ne
cessity not only in Alaska but along other por
tions of our coast.
" The wire 'drag is a device by which a long
wire, maintained at any desired distance below
tho surface of the water, is towed over the area
to be examined. The action of one of the many
buoys which support the wire indicates tho
presence of an obstruction and its location.
This device surely finds such obstructions. Noth
ing else will do so. As the speed at which such
a device can bo towed is but from 1 to 2 miles
an hour, to which must be added the time taken
in buoying the obstructions met and in deter
mining their exact depth and position, tho work
is necessarily slow though thorough.- .
The plan of discovering hidden rocks by run
ning vessels on them is still in vogue. This does
not commend Itself as a business proposition,
apart from the humanity of the case. It has
been such common practice, however, that rocks
are commonlv named after tho steamqr which
hit them. For example, in , Tongass Narrows,
Alaska, are Idaho, rock, Ohio, rock, Potter, rock,
and California rock, each named af.tqr the vessel
which discovered it by striking it.
We have never sized up the work of survey
ing the dangerous coast of Alaska on a scale as
largo .-as, is .necessary. We .have- gone at tho
matter on a scale as futile' as the poor woman's
attempt to sweep back tho Atlantic with a
broom. Wo put thirty millions into a railway
to develop a growing national possession from
which wo have drawn hundreds of millions in
value without providing the ordinary apparatus
required to make surveys to insure safety in
waters known to bo dangerous by their contin
uing terrible record.
Under these circumstances it will ask con
gress for a sufficient further sum to permit keep
ing its vessels in operation throughout the year,
to provide for the early building of new ships
to take the place of the three which are anti
quated and dangerous, and for the use of a
wire-drag apparatus in Alaskan waters through
out the short season incident to that territory.
It earnestly hopes that the cogent reasbns that
have been given will lead to" the providing of
tho necessary funds. This will call for an in
crease of the appropriation for Pacific waters
of from $105,000 to $225,000 and for an appro
priation of $500,000 for tho construction of
At a' recent interview between the Argentine
ambassador and Secretary Redfield, an import
ant cable message from the Argentine govern
ment bearing upon the commercial relations be
tween tho two countries was presented. Through
the courtesy of the Argentine ambassador, and
with the consent of his government, this aa
patch, a cablegram, dated October 31, 1914,
from the minister of foreign relations of Ar
gentina to the ambassador of that country, has
been given publicity. It is as follows, and its
importance is obvious:
"Thero Is at present no congestion of mer
chandise in our ports. Wheat and flour are not
exported at present because of the embargo es
tablished by the executive power on those prod
ucts. Corn, meat, and wool are exported with
out, great difficulty, but we fear the scarcity of
the means of transportation for our production
in the near future. A very effective outlet would
be tile arrival of steamers from the United
States -'with usual cargoes that is', to say, 1m
piird naptha, wood, Iron, agricultural machines
affair implements, petroleum, furniture, lubricat
ing oils, etc. Those boats would return with
our-products that Is to say, meat, wool, hide,
quebracho, livestock, etc. American manufac
turers can occupy tho place loft vacant by Euro
pean industry in all tho branches that have been
served by It. The present moment offers to
American manufacturers very appreciable ad
vantages for occupying positions, profiting by
the present European Inability. Irt order to get
thcHo advantages they must tako the Initiative
themselves, sending, at least, small cargoes and
also agents, and oBpcdnlly adapting themselves
to tho custom of not demanding cash payment,
as lias been practiced by others With very well
known success."
The department of commerce hopes and ox
pocts that American manufacturers will take
full advantage of the opportunity thus extended
them through the courtesy of the Argentine
That Latin American countries are looking to
tho United States for tho, capital and the market
for their products which they formerly found In
Europo is emphasized in a pamphlot just issued
by tho bureau of foreign and domestic commerce
giving the addresses made by representatives of
Latin American countries at a conference with
American business men recently held In Wash
ington. Tho pamphlet, entitled "Statements on
the Latin American Trade Situation," contains
the statements made' by the ministers from Bo
livia, Uruguay, Peru, nnd Cuba to tho United
States, tho consuls general of Costa Rica and
Colombia In New York, tho minister from' Ecu
ador to'England, and others, besides tho open
fug remarks of Secretary of State William J.
Bryan, and a statement by Secretary Redfield.
Many obstacles to the development of Latin
American trade with the United States were
commented on, notably tho matter of credits and
that of a proper understanding of tho Latin
American way of doing business on the part 'of
business men in tho United States.
An epitomized record of our nation's growth
in area, population, and resources is contained
in the "Statistical Record of the Progress of
tho United States, 18 00-1 9 11," a recent publica
tion of the bureau. In all cases whore the sta-
tistlcal data permit, tho- tablps cover more than
'a century; the later Inauguration of ccr.tain
lines vof, statistics necessarily restricts, In tjtpso
cases, tho period cov.erod. ,
Since 1850 tho population of the United States
has more than quadrupled, being approximately
100 million at tho present time. In the same
period, however, foreign commerco has grown
from 318 million to 4,259 million dollars and
tho per capita of exports from $16.90 to $23.27.
National wealth has Increased from 7 billion
dollars In 1870 to approximately 140 billion;
money in circulation, from 279 million to 3,419
million; and the New York bank clearings from
approximately 5 billion to over JS billion dol
lars, while for the entire country bank clearings
have grown from 52 billion in 1837, the earliest
year for which figures are available, to 174
billion in 1913.
Evidences of improved social conditions among
the people are also found. Thero are 19 million
children now enrolled in public schools and
about 200,000 students In colleges and other
higher institutions of learning, and the total
expenditures on behalf of education now ap
proximate $500,000,000 a year, the result being
a rapid increase in general intelligence and a
marked decrease in illiteracy. Over 22,000
newspapers and periodicals arc now published,
and a steady growth is shown in the number or;
libraries in the country. In 1850 depositors in
savings banks numbered 251,000; today the
number Is 11 million with deposits, exclusive of
those in other savings institutions, aggregating
4 billion dollars, or more than 100 times as
much as at the middle of the last century
Increased activity on the farms, in the fac
tories, and in the great transportation indus
tries has also -developed during the last half
century. The value of farms and farm property
increased from 4 billions in 1850 to 41 billions
in 1910; the value of manufactures, from 1
billion to over 20 billion; and the number of
miles of railway in operation, from 9,021 in
1850 to 258,033 In 1912. In the last quarter
century the number of passengers carried has
increased from 492 million to- 1,004 million,
and the volume of freight handled from 632
million to 1845 million short tdns.
The'.'range of subjects extends fo many other
factors of national life, and broad outlines are
shown with respect to the world's' de'veldftment
in population, production, commerce, carrying
power, etc. .