Thursday, August 1, 2013

Bold Navigators

Congressman Charles Boutelle
Cortland Evening Standard, Wednesday, April 1, 1896.


But Great Nations Must Have Them.


We Are Now Building the Best Fighting Ships In the World—The Hardest Worked Man in the United States Senate—Some of His Duties.

   WASHINGTON, April 1. [Special.] New navies cost money. The great battleships and armored cruisers of modern times are expensive luxuries, but it seems that nations must have them. Official figures quoted recently in congress show that for the current year the five great nations of Europe—Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Italy—spend for the maintenance and increase of their navies the enormous sum of $208,000,000, divided as follows: Great Britain, $91,000,000; France, $52,000,000; Germany, $20,000,000; Russia, $89,000,000, and Italy, $19,000,000. For the coming year the expenditure will be still greater, Great Britain having appropriated $120,000,000 for naval purposes, amid great enthusiasm in parliament, and Russia and Germany having made arrangements for large increases of their naval establishments. Comparing resources with resources, our annual expenditure for the naval service, averaging $30,000,000, is not extravagant.

Our New Navy.

   This winter's appropriation bill for the navy carries generous items for new ships and torpedo boats. It authorized a larger increase of the navy than any other naval bill has ever contained. Official figures used by Chairman Boutelle of the house naval committee show that the cost of the new navy has been, in round numbers, $83,000,000. This sum provides for something like 50 vessels of all classes, ranging in cost from the great battleship at from $5,000,000 to $6,000,000 down to torpedo boats at $150,000 each. If to this sum be added the amount authorized by this year's bill, we shall have a total of about $110,000,000 spent on our new navy. These figures, it should be understood, comprise only construction of new vessels and do not include repair or maintenance.

   The new battleships which we are about to build will cost $3,750,000 each for the hull and machinery alone. The great guns and other appurtenances will cost from $2,000,000 to $3,000,000 for each vessel, giving a total cost of something like $6,000,000 for each of these great fighting machines.

Our Powerful Ships.

   Chairman Boutelle of the house naval committee tells me we are now building the best fighting ships in the world. "I believe," says he, "that the general type of character of the battleship which we are now building and preparing to build is not only by all odds the best and most powerful one in the world, but that the type is fixed for some time to come. Of course I cannot guarantee this. In view of the progress of the past and of some of the marvels of the last six months, he would indeed be a bold man that would predict that no great changes will come to our naval architecture at an early day. But I feel sure we are increasing our navy with a type of vessels which will continue in high favor for years to come. Minor improvements we shall make from time to time.

   "The Iowa is claimed to be an improvement upon the Indiana," continued Mr. Boutelle. "The battleships that are today under contract at Newport News are claimed to be superior in important respects to the Indiana and the Iowa. The Indiana, the Massachusetts and the Oregon, concerning which I say freely that I believe they are the finest completed ships in the world, were experimental ships with us. They were the first battleships that we had ever tried to design and they reflect eternal honor upon their designers.

   It was a marvel for us to be able to step into this untrodden field and in the first three great fighting ships that we put afloat show that we could not only build ships here of a character almost as good as those constructed in the great shipbuilding establishments of Europe, where they have been engaged for generations in that work, but that we had actually built ships that are conceded by British naval architects, by experts from Japan and by other maritime powers to be the most powerful vessels In the world."

A Hard Worker.

   The hardest working man in the United States senate is Alonzo Stewart, who is carried on the rolls as assistant doorkeeper, but who is in many respects the man who runs the senate. He is expected to know everything that is going on every minute of the day. If a senator has gone to his committee room to take a little sleep and is not to be disturbed, Stewart is the man who is to be ready with the explanation. If a party of senators have gone out for a drive or for a little game of poker, Stewart is expected to know whom to tell where they are and whom to lie to. If any one wants to find a senator right quick, Stewart is the man he appeals to, and Stewart usually knows whether the man in question is in the restaurant, the barber shop, the cloakroom, the bathroom, over at the senatorial annex, at the house end of the capitol, up in the gallery with some lady friends or wherever he is. How Stewart keeps track of the movements of nearly ninety senators and never fails to know just enough and not a bit too much is one of the curiosities of life in the capital.

   A curious illustration of the nature of the services rendered by this extraordinary senate official is found in a recent scene on the floor. The Du Pont case was under debate, and the constitution of the state of Delaware was in frequent demand. One of Stewart's duties is to keep his ears open for references to books by senators on the floor, and whenever state constitutions, Congressional Records, the statutes of the United States or of some particular state or any other work of reference is mentioned he is expected to hustle for it, open it to the right page and place it on the desk of the senator who may wish to consult it. On the day in question five senators cited as many different sections of the Delaware constitution, and the words were scarcely out of their mouths till Alonzo Stewart had the books on their desks, every one opened at the right place.

   Assistant Doorkeeper Stewart is not only familiar with the constitutions of all the states and with The Congressional Record and the other annals of congress, but he studied law for the express purpose of equipping himself for the discharge of his multifarious duties in the senate chamber. He could today practice before the supreme court if he wished.



Took a Dip in the Tioughnioga While Seeking Muskrats.

   Herman Odell and Delos Burnham, two bold navigators, left home yesterday morning to boat down the Tioughnioga river to Binghamton and shoot the festive muskrat which because of the high water had been driven from his fastness. Reaching the pond at the Wickwire mills one of them stepped out upon a cake of ice. As he did so the piece careened and he, clutching the side of the boat, caused that to upset and both the navigators speedily found themselves struggling in the water. They finally succeeded in getting to shore, and returned home for dry suits of clothing. Then they started again and this time made a successful trip, landing near Binghamton before night. The number of muskrats which they shot is not recorded.

   Fred W. Melvin and James A. Wood, having the same object in view as the two parties above mentioned stranded their bark at Kingman's bridge. The water was so high there that the boat could not get under. They tried to work it under the bridge and the result was that the boat went down and the two boatmen, having a firm hold upon the bridge, had to draw themselves up to the bridge to escape going down with the boat.


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