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The beginning of the year 1852 found Lieutenant Foote at home with his family in New Haven; and for a period of more than four years he remained ashore, being the longest time up to that date that he had spent on land since he had been in the service. It was a time of general inactivity in naval matters, disturbed only by a little breeze now and then on the fishery question, but not enough to produce a serious movement in the way of naval preparation or reform. Congress had an economical fit; there was much talk about reducing the Navy, naval boards and bureaus were cut down, salaries of officers were discussed, and promotion was slow. Under these circumstances the active mind of Foote sought employment in writing, and in lecturing to public bodies upon temperance and kindred themes. His old friend Commodore Smith thus writes to him: “I congratulate you on your success in your lecture. Being perfectly familiar with the subject, your genius had full scope. No doubt while on the way you made good preparation for the meeting; in traveling one has time to charge his battery for the occasion. You could tell the old Jacks how the high officials who legislate for them are disposed to kill King Alcohol.” The following is the newspaper report of this, or of a similar lecture:
“Captain A. H. Foote, of the United States Navy, apologized for his. lack of preparation for speaking.
“He sketched the character of seamen in the Navy, as affected by various causes under his own observation. He remembered when every seaman was allowed a half-pint of whisky, and he himself proposed the reduc
tion of the allowance to one gill, which was at last effected, and money being paid in place of grog to such as did not draw it, the amount consumed became much reduced. The greatest barrier to the improvement of the moral and spiritual condition of the sailor was intemperance. That sailors would not work without their grog was a great mistake. He had had command in ten vessels of war: for the first six there were no religious services, and they had the 'liquor-rations;' in the remainder they had religious services, and in two of them every man had voluntarily given up his rations of spirits. There were not better organized or more orderly and efficient crews on the ocean. He regretted that while merchantmen were doing away with the grog allowance, our government continues to deal out intoxicating drinks to sailors in its employ, and he called upon the press to present the condition of affairs in the strongest light possible.”
The following is also a newspaper report of a lecture he delivered before the American Colonization Society:
Captain Foote ofthe United States Navy then addressed the audience at length, stating what he knew of Liberia, from having visited it and spent considerable time there and on the coast of Africa. He spoke highly of President Roberts, and said that when he was in Washington the President asked him how President Roberts succeeded ; and he was about to say, in reply, as well as any president; but he thought that would institute too direct a comparison, and he therefore said as well as governors generally. The trade of Liberia amounts to half a million annually. No white man is eligible to office there. Iron ore is found at a distance of twenty miles from the coast in abundance, which is malleable without smelting. The climate is healthy for blacks, and the state of morals such that on one occasion, a short time since, while walking home from church in the city of New Haven in company with a gentleman who had spent some time in Liberia, his friend remarked that he knew no place where the Sabbath was so well observed as it was in New Haven, except at Monrovia, in Liberia. He visited President Roberts often, and had seen the whole people in their various avocations, and he was struck with the great change which they exhibit for the better. There is no person whom he would more cordially welcome to his hospitality and home than President Roberts. He spoke of the interest Great Britain had taken in the colony, and of the fact that its independence has been acknowledged by her as well as by France, Prussia, and Brazil, while we refuse still to ac
knowledge it. He thought that the squadrons which our government kept on the coast had done much good, and should be continued there. Colonization had destroyed the slave-trade for five hundred miles. The English are acting in good faith in keeping their squadrons on the coast. Colonization and the keeping of an efficient coasting squadron must go together, in order to sustain Liberia and suppress the African slavetrade."
Froin a more elaborately written lecture upon Christian, missions delivered during this period, this extract is taken : “Such are the grounds, my friends, upon which I expressed the opinion that in a few years the Christian religion would rise upon the view of the heathen mind in India; and such also was the impression conveyed to me by the governor-general and several other officers of high intelligence.” When we read the accounts of the progress of Christianity in India, and the enlarged and hopeful operations of Christian missions in that vast peninsula ; and when we read, too, the words and doings of the disciples of the Brahmo Somaj, although their faith lacks the divine light, we feel that the prophecy of this earnest lover of Christ was not groundless, but that Christian ideas are penetrating the deepest thought of India, and that the popular heart must soon follow the lead of the higher intelligence. Captain Foote was true to the cause of Christian missions, although he had seen their imperfections and discouragements, and was by no means backward in expressing his criticisms; but he cast the whole weight of his influence in favor of this work, and the single-minded, faithful missionary of the Cross always knew where to look, while he was living, for a strong friend and champion of the good cause.
During this period of home life Captain Foote wrote the book to which reference has been made, entitled “Africa and the American Flag."* This volume was dedicated to his true
* Published by the Appletons of New York in 1854.
and loving friend Commodore Smith, who acknowledged the compliment in the following note:
“BUREAU OF YARDS AND DOCKS, May 13, 1854, “MY DEAR SIR, – I received your book two days since, and was sensibly struck with the Dedication, which I had not anticipated. For this modest but kind manifestation of your friendship and regard for me, accept my unfeigned acknowledgments.
“I have but cursorily run through the book. I pronounce it to be excellent in matter and arrangement. This to me will place you in high standing both in and out of the Navy. My kindest regards to your household. I am very truly yours,
JOSEPH SMITH. “Commander A. H. Foote, U. S. Navy, ,
Naval Asylum, Philadelphia, Pa." S Commodore Smith's estimate of the work is in the main well sustained by the book itself. Although Captain Foote's forte was not writing, but fighting, he succeeded in making a clearly methodized and valuable book, that interweaves in a quiet way the narrative of his own achievements on the African coast with much that is of general interest respecting Africa and the slave-trade, and that has been cited as authority from the bench of United States Courts. The following are some brief extracts from the many criticisms and encomiums which the book brought forth from the press, and which are here introduced as bearing testimony to the public estimation in which the author was held at that time;
“ The work is written in excellent spirit, and in an unpretending style that does much credit to the author's good taste, while the religious regard for truth, and the liberality of sentiment manifest in every chapter, win the reader's confidence and esteem. A considerable portion of the volume is devoted to an account of the operations of the American Colonization Society, and all who take an interest in the colonization cause will derive satisfaction from the strongly favorable testimony which Commander Foote bears to the condition of Liberia as a nation."*
* N. Y. Commercial Advertiser.
“The speculations of the author regarding the future of Africa are more cheering than those we are accustomed to hear, and as they are based on positive facts and investigations, they are not merely prophecies of a philanthropic heart, but conclusions of a logical mind."*
“The American people may well be proud of their naval officers. Such men as Ingraham, Maury, Kane, Lynch, Foote, and others who might be named, confer honor upon the flag under which they sail, and which their gallantry is ever ready to protect. While looking after the interests of commerce, they have proved themselves awake to the interests of humanity; and while familiar with the arts of war, they have shown themselves equally familiar with the sciences by which the horrors of war may be mitigated or prevented.”+
“The ethnographical chapter in this work is worth the books of some authors we might name. The poor despised Bushman, forming to himself with sticks and grass a lair among the low-spreading branches of a shrub, or nestling at sunset in a shallow hole amid the warm sands of the desert, with wife and little ones, like a covey of birds, sheltered by some ragged sheepskins from the dew of the clear sky, has an ancestral and mental relationship to the builders of the pyramids and the colossal temples of Egypt, and to the artists who adorned them.”I
“It contains, in a compendious shape, a complete account of the continent of Africa in all its relations to the United States, physical, commercial, political, and religious. The account of the active cruise in which Commander Foote was engaged for two years is full and circumstantial -too much so, perhaps, for one who reads merely for amusement, but very satisfactory to one who wishes to get complete and reliable information on the important question touching the value of our African squadron. The book has been published in an evil hour for those who are designing, whether by a cowardly connivance or by open and direct sanction, to revive the African slave-trade; but most opportunely for the cause of justice and philanthropy, and (we intend no irony) national honor and faith. We agree with most of the criticisms upon the book which we have seen in commending its literary execution. Commander Foote's style has a sailor-like simplicity, but is wanting neither in elegance nor * Graham's Magazine.
† Philadelphia Presbyterian Banner. | N. Y. Independent.