Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

exact model of it. This greatly amused his schoolmates, as did also a tiny locomotive engine which he had also made himself, and which was driven by a concealed rat.

At thirteen Eads was. taken out of school, and he set out, with the rest of the family, for Wisconsin. But while on the Ohio their boat took fire, and when Eads reached the shore, he found that he had lost everything except the shirt, pantaloons, and cap he wore. Another boat soon picked up the forlorn family and carried them down to St. Louis, where the barefoot boy landed on the very spot on which he was later to build a wonderful bridge. As he had to earn his own living, Eads now found a place as errand boy in a dry-goods store; but, determined to learn, he spent all his evenings studying in the books he borrowed. Seeing how eager he was to learn, a kind old gentleman let him use his library, and there Eads found the first work on engineering which he had ever seen.

After spending five years in the dry-goods business, Eads got work on one of the Mississippi steamboats; and as it plied up and down the stream, he studied the river, and thus laid the corner stone of his fortunes. Before long he found a way to raise the cargoes of sunken ships, and, later, the vessels themselves.

By doing this he saved much property which would otherwise have been lost, and his ingenious contrivances won him fame as well as fortune. In 1861, when the Civil War began, the government gave him an order for some gunboats. He supplied seven within sixty-five days, and had them all ready when they were needed for the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson.

These gunboats also did good service at Vicksburg, and it was partly owing to their help that Grant got control of the Father of Waters. In 1874, after seven years' hard work, Eads completed the huge steel bridge which spans the Mississippi at St. Louis. This is one of the most wonderful bridges in the world, and it was very hard to build.

[graphic]

The Eads Bridge at St.Louis.

To reach a rock foundation for the piers, Eads had to dig through one hundred and thirty-six feet of mud and sand,— a feat which many engineers said he could not accomplish! The bridge was no sooner done, however, than Eads proposed to open one of the mouths of the Mississippi. During his journeys and studies of rivers in Europe, he had noticed that where a channel is narrow, the force of the current keeps it clear. He therefore laid his plan before Congress, which, after talking the matter over for about a year, gave him permission to try it. Eads spent the next four years in building two long piers, or jetties, from a natural mouth of the stream, far out into the Gulf. These jetties, which are more than two miles long and only four hundred yards apart, keep the waters from spreading as they used to do. The current is therefore much stronger and swifter, and as it sweeps along it carries the mud and sand far out into the Gulf of Mexico, where the water is so deep that they can settle without stopping any ships. Thus the river has deepened its channel through the bar so that the largest ships can always pass. This advantage is so great that it seems very little to have spent more than five million dollars to secure it.

After finishing this great piece of engineering, in 1879, Eads began to think of a ship railway across the narrow part of Mexico, but before he could carry out his plans, he died in 1887. He is known throughout the world for the Mississippi jetties, and every one greatly admires the patience of the man who educated himself while working hard to earn his own living.

[ocr errors]

LXIII. DEATH OF GARFIELD.

IN 1880 there was a new and very exciting election. The different parties were all eager, as usual, to have their candidates elected ; but the Republicans had had much trouble in choosing theirs. While some wanted Grant for

STO. OF GT. REP.— l8

a third time, others cried, "Anything to beat Grant," because they thought it wrong to let a man serve more than eight years, Washington and Jefferson having both refused to do so. Blaine, who had been Hayes's chief rival in the Republican party four years before, and whom his friends called the " Plumed Knight," was again suggested, but his friend, James A. Garfield, was finally chosen, and when the election was held he was successful.

The new President was a great favorite, and every one respected him very much. Although so poor that he was once a "mule boy" on a canal towpath, Garfield nevertheless managed to educate himself. By dint of great efforts, he became the head of a college, and for this reason he has sometimes been called the "Teacher President." Later on he won great praise in the Civil War. He took part in the battles of Shiloh and Chickamauga, where he shone by his bravery; and he was then elected a member of Congress.

Garfield had barely been inaugurated (1881), when, as usual, office seekers began to make his life a burden. Still, sharing Hayes's feelings, he said he would not remove men who were doing their work well; and he thus made some people who wanted places very angry.

One morning in July, the President's son came bouncing into his room, and, taking a flying leap over the bed, merrily cried, "There! you are President of the United States, but you can't do that!" The President laughed at the boy's challenge, and a few seconds later proved he could not be beaten, even in jumping. That same day, while in the best health and spirits, Garfield set out for a train which was waiting to take him east.

Suddenly, an obscure man who had tried in vain to get a government position stepped up behind him in the depot and shot, him twice in the back. Garfield fell to the floor. His friends rushed to help the wounded President, and carefully carried him home. But, in spite of the utmost skill, the doctors could not save the President, who daily grew worse.

He was such a strong man, however, that he lingered on until the middle of September. All through this long illness Garfield gave a most noble example to the whole country by his patience and courage in great suffering. Hoping that sea air would help him rally, his friends finally carried him to El'ber-on, New Jersey. Silent crowds collected at every station to see his car speed past, and the bulletin board was anxiously watched to find out how the President was standing the journey, for all hoped he would soon get better. But he was not to recover, and after a little more suffering passed quietly away.

After lying in state in the Capitol in Washington, the body of this " Martyr President "—for Garfield shares that name with Lincoln—was carried to Cleveland, Ohio, where an imposing funeral took place, and where his grave is often visited.

Garfield's murderer was caught very soon after he had fired those fatal shots; and while people were so angry that they wanted to lynch him, the police took charge of him and brought him before a jury. There were so many who had seen the crime that he could not have denied it, even if he had wished to do so.

At the trial, people found out that the murderer was such a wicked and stupid man that he fancied it would be

« ZurückWeiter »