Ohio History Journal

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22         Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


A centennial means a hundred years and does seem a long stretch

of time, and rather strangely, I have heard accounts given by Major

Croghan, at only second hand, for it happened that in 1845-6 when my

father, the late General Thomas J. Wood, U. S. A., who graduated from

West Point in 1845, was serving on the staff of General Zachary Taylor

in the Mexican War, Major Croghan, at that time Colonel and Inspector

General, was also on the staff of General Taylor and quite a friendship

sprang up between the grizzled veteran of 1812 and the young boy fresh

from West Point and my father often told me of hearing Colonel Cro-

ghan tell of his services during the War of 1812, especially of the gallant

defense of Fort Stephenson. So you can see that probably I have re-

ceived the "freshest" news on this subject of any one in the State of

Ohio.                      Very sincerely,


The Adjutant General.

Colonel Webb C. Hayes,

Fremont, Ohio.


In introducing the Hon. S. D. Fess, orator of the day, Mr.

Overmyer spoke of the good fortune of the committee in having

been able to secure so able and well known an orator, writer

and historian as Dr. Fess to deliver the principal address of the

day and made the prediction that his

address would make a valuable addi-

tion to the historical literature of our




I accepted your invitation to make this

address with a peculiar interest, and I as-

sure you it gives me an unusual pleasure to

be here. For years I have been scolding at

the average citizen for his wicked indif-

ference toward the preservation of the tab-

lets of our history. We are so young as a

nation that we can not realize any interest

in holding to the past. In some parts of the

country, as in New England, the citizenship

has awakened to this duty. Only a short

time ago, when the commercial call was

about to raze the old South Church in Boston to make way for a hand-

some modern office building, the citizenship of that New England city

was aroused and readily responded to the call to complete plans whereby

such a consummation would be made an impossibility.

The Centennial of Croghan's Victory

The Centennial of Croghan's Victory.              23


A few days ago I stood on the famous estate of Gen. Washington,

at Mount Vernon, and allowed my mind to rest upon the tardiness of

State and Nation and people to preserve this, the most famous spot in

America, which was not finally accomplished until an invalid southern

girl gave herself to the task. It is now perpetually assured. But not so

with Monticello, Montpelier, The Hermitage, and so forth.

In the midst of such vicious neglect, what a tonic one receives to

come face to face with the magnificent work of such organizations as

the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society, the Colonial Dames, the

Daughters of the American Revolution, the Daughters of 1812, and kindred


I have known something of these activities in the past, and espe-

cially in this most fertile section of Ohio, historically speaking; hence my

delight in being enabled to come. I desire to congratulate this community

first upon its position in history and, second, in having such leaders as

Col. Hayes and others to direct you.

Most places are satisfied with but a single historical event, but in

your case you have a succession of events that will pass as first in rank.

Here we have the wondrous activities between the French and English

as well as the Indian in the final determination of national control. The

tablets dating back to 1745, then 1754 to 1763, refer us to one of the

most historically significant struggles on the continent. History refers

to this struggle as the French and Indian War. In Europe it is known

as the Seven Years' War, although it lasted nine years-1754 to 1763.

From 1688 to 1815 twelve wars were waged between England and

France for supremacy upon the sea. During these one hundred and

twenty-seven years fifty-four of them were spent in actual fighting. One

of these dozen wars was our French and Indian, in which Fremont and

vicinity played so prominent a place. All along the shores of lakes,

and especially at the mouths of the various rivers, the French took the

precaution to plant leaden plates with inscriptions, to make sure their

title in the case of a contest. When the dispute was transferred from

forum to field, which caused this place to be overrun by French and

Indians and finally secured to the English by the closing of the war

scenes on the Plains of Abraham, the first distinctive step to the build-

ing of the modern state of democracy was taken.

While history dismisses the event by stating that the English took

possession of the North American Continent, it does not express the full

meaning of the results. The final struggle which closed at Quebec was

more than a contest between two nations for the control of a continent.

It was a contest between two most distinctive systems of government.

On the one hand the contention was the establishment of an ecclesiasti-

cism, on the other the building of an Anglo-Saxon democracy. On the

one hand it demanded a union of church and state, on the other the

American tripod of free state, free church, and free school. Had France

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won in 1763, this new world would have become the chief home of a

French ecclesiastical dynasty. Instead it was reserved as the virgin soil

in which were planted the seeds of liberty in government, based upon

freedom in church, school, and state, and which within the short period

of one hundred and fifty years has become the riddle of the world. Little

did our ancestry think of what the future held. They could not believe

that by 1913 this planting would produce a nation of one hundred mil-

lions of people, a population two and one-half times that of the mother

country, ten times that of her largest colony-United Colonies of Aus-

tralia-sixteen times that of Canada, and more than all the other Eng-

lish-speaking peoples of the world combined. No wonder that Salisbury

in an outburst of oratory said upon one occasion, "Had it not been for

the unwise policy of an English King the capital of the British Empire

in all probability would today be on the North American Continent."

No wonder that in 1878 W. E. Gladstone, eulogizing the achievements

of the two nations, shouted, "Oh, brave mother; Oh, braver daughter,

you have done more in one year than we in eight. You have passed us

in a canter." When a citizen in 1913 contemplates the meaning of that

contest one hundred and fifty years ago and then remembers this was a

part of the battle ground, and there "Old Betsy," a real participant in

the struggle, it has a new significance.

But the significance of this place will not be confined to fighting

the French in the Seven Years' War or the Indians led by Pontiac in

1763. The records indicate that here at this very place were held during

the Revolutionary War perhaps as many as 2,000 prisoners, and "Old

Betsy" had a part in that greater struggle. The war that closed in 1763

by the treaty of Paris decided America as the chief theater of an

Anglo-Saxon democracy. However, under the mother country it had

certain effete customs which were unwelcome to the American pioneer

who braved the sea and faced death that he might be free from many

of these customs. Some of these people left England for the Continent,

others remained to fight the battles on native soil with Pym, Hampden,

and Cromwell, while others embarked on the unknown sea in search of

the New World. Arbitrary government, taxation without representation,

and so forth, are usually detailed as the cause of the War of the Revolu-

tion. That is true, but is not the whole truth. England recognized in

a way the feudal system with its corollary customs of primogeniture and

entailed estates. She had secured the latter two customs in Virginia and

Pennsylvania. England also believed then as she does now in hereditary

government; that some men are born to rule, others to serve. We

denied it and took our stand upon the principle that the right to govern

must come from the consent of the governed. The George III idea was

the head of the nation both ruled and reigned, while we held the head

of the Nation the servant of all the people. This was a fundamental

principle first established by us as the most significant step in self-govern-

The Centennial of Croghan's Victory

The Centennial of Croghan's Victory.              25


ment ever taken. England believed in the life tenure in office, while our

slogan was short terms and quick and decisive responsibility. While it

is true the ostensible cause of the Revolutionary War was no taxation

without representation, or better, no legislation without representation,

the real result of that war was to give full play to the new democracy

planted years before, free from the effete customs of continental Europe

or the mother country. In that world-wide significant struggle this part

of the country was an interesting field.

No citizen of our day can know the utter contempt in which Eng-

land held the colonies the first two decades of our national life, and

the consequent humility of our representatives at her court. A perusal

of the writing of Franklin, and especially John Adams, as well as Jeffer-

son, will shed some light on this treatment. The conduct of Citizen

Genet reflects the regard France had for us as a national entity in the

countries of the world. The contempt with which England refused to

remove her forts, and which was not fully done until after the Jay

treaty of 1796, as well as the X Y Z mission of France, in 1798, and

the miserable conduct of Minister Merry, all show with what small

respect our Nation was regarded in Europe. The episode of the Carolina

was not to be unexpected, as well as the famous orders in Council of

England and the Berlin and Milan decrees of France, which forced us

to declare the embargo of 1807. Europe was using the new Republic

as a handy man to have around to be treated as a football, if desirable.

The administration wisely attempted to avoid war until the jingoes

declared Madison could not be kicked into a war. England became so

arrogant, having impressed at least 5,000 American seamen into the Brit-

ish service upon the monstrous doctrine "Once an Englishman always

an Englishman," augmented by the ruling that one speaking the English

language is an Englishman until he could prove he was not, and that by

documentary evidence, that to further submit seemed dishonor, and war

was declared in June, 1812. It is not my purpose to detail this struggle.

Our school children are familiar with the brilliant performances upon

the sea, and no less familiar with our disasters and, in one instance, dis-

honor upon the land. As has been said here, on this very spot took place

the one distinct land operation that redeemed the American name. Cro-

ghan and Fort Stephenson-the name and fame are household furniture

of these people here. It would be but a repetition of the most familiar

item of our history for me to detail the operations here one hundred

years ago today. A mere mention of the spectacular defense of this his-

toric spot by that gallant boy, just past his majority, and his brave bend

of 160, who repulsed the English regulars, under the ignoble Proctor.

is sufficient on this occasion, which is designed to call up the larger

results on the world's struggles, in which this place was one of the chief

battle grounds, and which in turn became the chief gateway of the current

of progress which virtually has enveloped the world; for this battle in

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this second war of independence made possible the victory on Lake Erie,

which we are celebrating this year.

This Perry's victory in turn made possible the victories on the

Thames and the second naval triumph on Champlain. Notwithstanding

the British attack on Washington and the burning of the Capitol, the

young Republic gathered new strength from the triumph at Lundy's Lane

and the numerous engagements on the sea, which forced peace the

latter part of December, 1814, although the one most spectacular of all

engagements, that of New Orleans, was fought several days after the

treaty, on January 8, 1815.

From the time of this war, although our distinguished commis-

sioners did not secure a reversal of the contention on the main points

of issue, the new Republic was henceforth looked upon in Europe as a

growing giant, demanding an immediate recognition. Our Navy had won

its plaudits and was the topic of enthusiastic comment both in Europe

and America. Our diplomacy, as represented by J. Q. Adams, Henry

Clay, and others less distinguished, had won great respect. Our domestic

enterprises along manufacturing and commercial lines were gaining by

leaps and bounds. Henceforth our representatives were received in all

European courts with marked deference and respect. The ending of this

war was the beginning of the Nation's development. From that day to

1860 we had one unbroken triumph in material progress, save a short,

unhappy difference with Mexico.

At this time and here it would probably be out of order for me

to rehearse the events which drove us into the most gigantic war known

to man. Suffice it to say, as the French and Indian War was a struggle

between two systems of government, and the Revolutionary War was a

struggle for a larger political liberty, and the War of 1812 was a struggle

for the recognition of national rights, the Civil War, the greatest of all,

was a struggle between two civilizations, differentiated by natural differ-

ences over which law and legislation had little effect. And as the region

of Sandusky played a part in all the early wars, so Fremont played a

distinct part in this greatest of wars. The nation recognized that part

by placing at its head one of its citizens, who had won his rank in that

war for human rights.

This greatest of all wars which placed 2,000,000 soldiers in the field

to battle as Greek against Greek at the staggering outlay of over one

thousand million dollars, at the cost of lives to the number of 600,000

ended at last with two decisive results, viz., the freedom of a race and,

what was a thousand times of greater importance, the preservation of the

Union. The first result was inevitable. The civilization of the nineteenth

century had pronounced against slavery and its day was at hand. Had

it not come as the result of war it would have come as the result of an

awakened national conscience. But the perpetuity of the Union was not

at all an assured fact. Only an American could believe it possible. Eu-

The Centennial of Croghan's Victory

The Centennial of Croghan's Victory.             27


rope expressed her conviction in its impossible continuance through Mac-

aulay, De Toqueville, Gladstone, and others. Even the great English

Commoner proclaimed that Jefferson Davis had given to the world a

second republic that would rival the first.

It is not for the present historian to estimate the importance of

this result of the Civil War. It must be left to the future discriminating

interpreter of great events who to properly estimate the importance to

history must view the event in its influence, not upon our country alone

but upon the Governments of the world. When the war ended, assuring

the stability of American self-government, Democracy's cause took on

new life, and the places where it was planted received new fertilizing

impulses, and what were up to that time vague semblances of republican

government became dynamic forces regnant with order. Here and there

throughout the world mutterings of unrest under arbitrary rule became

distinctive demands.  It took possession of Italy.  It startled every

Government in Europe, the last to show it most was Portugal. It

changed in a night's time monarchial Brazil into a Republic. It has

covered the seas with its fragrant bloom in the United Colonies of Aus-

tralia, New Zealand, Hawaii, and has touched on the Empire of South

Africa. It awakened Russia, and has even revolutionized the yellow race

in its influence upon Japan, and last, but not least, China, which on Feb-

ruary 12, 1912, passed from the control of the Manchu dynasty, under

which the Celestial Empire had continued for over four thousand years,

to that of the national assembly, and thus wrote the page of American

influence in the Far East.

In 1813 the entire country was composed of but 18 States. The

population of the entire United States was little more than that of the

single city of Greater New York today, while the wealth of the Nation,

as estimates were then made, was less than that of New York City

today. In that day we had no standing in the councils of the nations;

today no serious world problem is proposed which does not enlist our

opinions. Our influence is not confined to the interests of our own

people, but, as signified by the expansive meaning of the Monroe

doctrine, we have assumed and maintained the guardianship of the liber-

ties and welfare of the western world. We have even gone beyond this

realm. When the call of Cuba was finally heard, for the mere sake of

humanity, we responded when we were morally certain the response meant

war, and with firm hand we bade Spain either to modify her inhuman

policy or leave the work of governing the people of Cuba to other hands.

We accepted the choice of Spain, the arbitrament of the sword, and as a

consequence have assumed not only the task of preserving order in Cuba,

but the far greater duty of modernizing the peoples of the Philippines

by introducing the common-school methods, and by the orderly processes

of evolution have witnessed within a decade the sure evidences of a

transformed people, a changed civilization through education, to be brought

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about within a few generations. This duty has been performed at a

frightful sacrifice to us.

All good citizens are hoping that the unhappy country of Mexico

will be able to stop the atrocities of rival leadership without interference

from without. For we can not brook interference on the part of Europe,

at whatever cost. The Nation will hardly surrender the Monroe doctrine.

If it maintains this principle, it is then morally and legally obligated

to protect life and property of citizens of other countries. On this occa-

sion I would not have this people believe I extol war simply because

the historic incident we celebrate has its interest in war, nor because in

our observations upon the growth of democratic government we have re-

ferred to the specific results of specific wars.

While the fruits of war in these respects are marked, the fruits

of peace are even more so. Soon after the treaty of peace that closed

the war in which Col. Croghan won his fame, another treaty was signed

between our Nation and Great Britain, which neutralized the waters of

the Great Lakes by limiting the size of the defensive vessels to be main-

tained upon these waters, beyond which neither nation could go. This

single line of agreement has made the Great Lakes as well as the bound-

ary line between us and Britain and her possessions here in the New

World a line of friendship which has been maintained unbroken for 96

years. Had it not been for this provision these waters would today be

frowned upon by mighty battleships, which would have inevitably clashed

in 1860-1865 when English built ships were supplied to the Confederacy.

What has been done on the Lakes has been the dream of some

statesmen of this and other countries may be done for the waters of the

sea, when all the powers may join in the establishment of the court of

arbitral justice, which is an American suggestion. While this is but a

dream, and may never assume any nearer reality than a dream, the im-

mediate past is a partial justification of the dream. The Hague confer-

ence was a real achievement for peace, if in no other way than to allow

representatives of the twenty-six nations, including all the first-class

powers, to sit under the same roof and dispassionately discuss plans of

maintaining peace among the nations represented. But it achieved some-

thing more substantial in the establishment of The Hague tribunal, which,

by the way, was an American suggestion. The first case to be submitted

to the court was the dispute between Germany and Venezuela at the

initiation of our own country. The second Hague conference gave more

promise, in that, instead of twenty-six nations, forty-four were repre-

sented. It also adopted three additional resolutions, viz., strengthened

The Hague tribunal by requiring any disputant opening warfare against

another nation, until the willing party had a chance to be heard before

the tribunal; second, it adopted the Drago doctrine, which denies to one

nation to employ war methods to collect a debt, until after the case is

The Centennial of Croghan's Victory

The Centennial of Croghan's Victory.              29


heard by the tribunal; third, it recommended the establishment of the

court of arbitral justice.

To an American the activities leading to these conferences and the

work in the conferences are most pleasing. This Nation distinctively

stands for peace. Our bringing together at Portsmouth the peace com-

missioners of Russia and Japan is but an incident in the efforts of our

Nation to reduce war. The work of the famous international peace

conferences was begun by Elihu Burritt as far back as the forties. This

Nation was the first to give this work governmental recognition when

President McKinley requested Secretary John Hay to represent the Nation

officially in the conference held at Boston. We are equally active in the

work of the Interparliamentary Union.

The almost five hundred various peace associations organized in the

United States among the churches, the colleges, the schools, the civic

organizations, the commercial bodies indicate the awakening among us.

This should be our position. If ever peace is to be established in the

world permanently, we must take the initiative. Our geographical situa-

tion, our vast wealth of resource, our rank among the nations of the

world all point to this fact. This does not mean we must abandon a

naval program. Probably the surest guaranty of peace is the concentra-

tion of the war power in the hands of the peaceful nations, to command

the peace of the world. We must always maintain a sufficient armament

to police the seas, but it does not mean we must enter the insane com-

petition of Europe to surpass all nations in the building of dreadnoughts.

Our greatness will never be measured by the size of the Army, nor the

number of battle ships. It will not even be measured by the acreage of

our farms, the output of our mines or our factories, nor the miles of

railroads. While all these are useful and the fruits of peace, yet they

do not symbolize our real greatness. Greatness nationally as individually

can not be measured by the bushel, nor by the yardstick, nor even can

it be estimated by the dollar mark. The real greatness of a nation

consists in the men and women of the nation. Its measure is the amount

of character disseminated among its people. The agencies of this great-

ness will be largely found in the homes, the schools, the churches, the

civic organizations, the numerous other agencies making for a finer sense

of justice of man with man in all his activities, business, professional,

social, and all that make up his everyday life.

Show me a nation that seeks this high standard and dedicates its

powers of wealth and influence to this end, and I will show you a nation

happy, prosperous, powerful, and the guiding, if not the dominant, power

in the family of nations. God has wonderfully blessed the people of this

country in many ways. The opportunity is before us. Our responsi-

bility is clear. I believe we will fully meet every reasonable obligation

placed upon us, always remembering that our greatest problems are from

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within our body politic, not from without. This argues the more that

our national prosperity and happiness must be found within the dominion

of a sublime manhood and a pure womanhood. Ladies and gentlemen, I

thank you and bid you good-by.

It was a source of much pleasure

to the committee to have with them as

one of the principal speakers of the

day, Gen. W. R. Warnock, depart-

ment commander of Ohio, Grand

Army of the Republic, and in intro-

(lucing him, Mr. Overmyer not only

voiced the sentiment and appreciation

of the committee and citizens of Fre-

mont, but also took occasion to pay a

word of tribute to the G. A. R., the

great order which the speaker rep-


Gen. Warnock said:

"When I received an invitation from Comrade Burgoon to come here

to address you on this occasion in behalf of the G. A. R., I was exceed-

ingly glad. When this invitation was supplemented by an invitation from

Col. Hayes to be his guest as well, I was additionally glad to be able to

accept. I knew something of the history of Fremont and vicinity and

have many personal reasons why I am interested in this city. The 72nd

regiment was in the same brigade to which I was assigned for two years.

For Col. Buckland I have always felt the greatest respect as I consid-

ered him one of the safest and grandest men of the army. He was a

born leader of men. I also recall with pleasure my acquaintance with

Col. LeRoy Crockett of Clyde, and I have the most kindly recollections

of my friendship with Maj. Eugene Rawson. Again I want to call atten-

tion to another friendship. In 1875 I was elected to the senate of Ohio

at the time when Governor Hayes was just entering upon his third term.

I was intimately associated with Governor Hayes, and so today with all

recollections which came to me as I visited Spiegel Grove I could not

but recall the memory of that gracious man, Rutherford B. Hayes. I

also want to pay tribute to Mrs. Hayes, the greatest, sweetest lady who

ever graced the White House.

"I also want to say a word for the G. A. R. When the gateways

at Spiegel Grove were decorated they complimented the G. A. R. in the

significance of their inscriptions. I am glad to accept these honorable

testimonials made in behalf of the G. A. R. Think of the significance