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But he enjoyed for a short time only the sweets of domestic repose on shore. His whole life was destined to be one of constant hard service in his profession.
In the summer of 1843 (Aug. 26) he was ordered, as first-lieutenant, to the flag-ship Cumberland, fifty guns, under Captain Breese. J. A. Dahlgren and others who have since won for themselves distinction were lieutenants and fellow-officers with Foote in this cruise of the Cumberland. This vessel bore at her peak the pennant of Commodore Joseph Smith, who on his return from this cruise was made Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks at Washington, and who, with Captain Breese, bore a distinguished part in the last war with Great Britain, especially in the battle of Lake Champlain. Commodore Smith proved to be Foote's life-long and perhaps his most loved and trusted friend, and is himself a genial and noble-hearted Christian man. Commodore Smith soon appreciated Foote's working qualities, and in one of his earliest letters he says: “Would you be willing to go to Norfolk if I should go there? as that is a place of work, and requires energetic officers.” He told Foote that he wished him to be always associated with himself, and he regarded him “ as his mainmast."
The Cumberland sailed from Boston for the Mediterranean on the 20th of November, 1843. When taking the stores on board for the voyage, some of the men got an opportunity to tap a barrel of whisky, and made themselves drunk. Trouble ensued: some of them insulted and attacked one of the officers, and were consequently flogged. Foote took the opportunity to form a temperance society, beginning with the officers, and being sustained and encouraged by the commodore. The movement became popular, and soon all the sailors but one consented to commute their grog-rations for money; and that solitary one, coming up every day to receive his grog, became a laughing-stock, and was soon got rid of.
The spirit-room was emptied of its contents, and the whole Temperance Reform on the “Cumberland."
crew, with the exception of the one veteran toper, joined the movement, so that the Cumberland became the first temperance ship in the United States Navy; and how interesting is this, when we think of the future fate of this vessel, selected to be the martyr ship of our civil war; when, in the terrible fight with the iron-clad and iron-beaked Merrimack, with her flag flying and her crew cheering, she delivered her last fire at her country's foes, and went down unconquered and unsullied in her pure renown.
The effects of the temperance reform on the Cumberland were visible in the excellent discipline of the ship, showing that the moral element is the basis of the highest and most efficient military discipline. Lieutenant Foote delivered a parting temperance address before the crew of the Cumberland, November 1, 1845, from which the following are extracts:
: "To illustrate the correctness of the position which I have taken, let us look at the changes within the last few years. See how the temperance movement has changed the aspect of things. Look around, and we see ourselves in a ship where that great enemy of man—the enemy to his hopes and happiness—ardent spirits, is abolished. Who would have believed a man, thirty years ago, had he predicted that a ship, a frigate—a flag-ship, too, of the squadron--would cruise a year without the grog-tub? But it has been done, and I have strong hopes that in thirty years hence every man-of-war will cruise without a grog-tub, and that liberty in almost every port, and money every month, as has been the case in this ship, with many other changes, will also take place, rendering life in a man-of-war comparatively respectable and happy. But the credit of taking the lead in this reform, this matter which will prove so great a blessing to so many generations of seamen, will ever belong to the Cumberland—to the crew of the Cumberland. They did it; they also sent a petition to Congress to abolish the whisky-ration–did it voluntarily, of their own accord-no coercion, no force was used. The subject was placed before them—they chose, they acted for themselves; and by it have not only astonished people abroad, but the papers at home are resounding with their praise, and the good effects of their choice have been witnessed in the good order and condition of the ship: in her snugness aloft and cleanliness below; in her rapid exercise of battery, and no less rapid evolutions of getting under way, furling sails, and, I may now add, of beating every thing which we have met. Of such a ship we may well be proud, and no doubt we shall all, long after the cruise, recur to the Cumberland with the most pleasurable feelings. ***
“I say that temperance has done good, and I believe its good effects will long be felt by many poor deserted mothers, who for ten and fifteen years have not been visited by their sons, but who will in a few months share the gatherings of a two years' cruise. Will they not thank God for the temperance movement in the Cumberland ? Yes; and I trust that in eternity, as well as in time, many of you will bless the Lord for sending you on board this ship. But now is the crisisnow is the time to make a stand. Now the time has come to decide the great question, whether seamen shall become a rational, long-lived, and respectable class of men, or whether they shall continue to be imposed upon by land-sharks, and madly rush into the grave in the middle age of life. I speak strongly, because I feel strongly on this subject; and here, at the termination of the cruise, still feeling a deep interest in the crew of this ship for their general behavior and efficiency, and hoping at some future day to sail with many of them, I conclude by saying, as a true friend, neither touch, taste, nor bandle any thing that can intoxicate. I have practiced and will practice myself these doctrines which I advocate, and so let every man now determine for himself, or he is in danger of rushing, with his eyes open, upon the dreadful alternative
-a drunkard's grave and the drunkard's endless doom; which may God avert from us. Farewell!”
Returning from this cruise of the Cumberland to Boston, November 10, 1845, after a leave of absence for six months, suffering as he was from ophthalmia, contracted while acting as captain of the boating-service of the Cumberland in Egypt and on the dazzling waters of the Mediterranean, he was ordered (June 1, 1846) to the Navy Yard at Boston, where he remained in comparative quiet, though strenuous as ever in the line of professional duty, as executive officer of that establishment, until June 1, 1848.
A few extracts from the familiar letters of Commodore Joseph Smith, at Washington, to Lieutenant Foote, while the
Abolishing the Spirit-Ration.
latter was in charge of the Boston Yard, relative chiefly to pro. fessional matters, and especially to the subject of naval reform, in which both were engaged heart and soul, will prove interesting as reflecting some of the marked personal characteristics of his correspondent. One of Foote's own letters on the subject of the “spirit-ration” to a Connecticut senator we insert among these :
“ January 30, 1846. “I conversed with many persons on the feasibility of carrying through Congress our project of abolishing the spirit-ration. I do not believe the committees in both houses would report in its favor; and if they should, I do not believe this Congress will ratify the measure. There is a strong opposition to it, and a good many wires would be pulled to check it. I heard by Dahlgren that your eyes continued bad. The Cumberland sailed yesterday for Mexico."
“February 20, 1846. “You have done a good thing for the service by putting in your oar? to keep all the bureaus in the Navy. You are not alone in this work; still I learn from reliable sources that your townsman (Gideon Welles) will be confirmed. It is strange that the Navy can not furnish a head to a bureau capable of knowing what seamen want and how to furnish the stores. I trust your eyes will soon be well. I see by the prints that the crew of the Boston broke into her spirit-room and got drunk, and caused much trouble. That would be a good spoke in our wheel of reform, and a good commentary upon the effect of whisky in the Navy. The Cumberland lay fourteen days in the dry-dock, and no such conduct was enacted there. I have talked with Mr. Choate about the matter. He told me Mr. Calhoun voted against the reform, and that he could not carry it. We have some officers high in rank who will oppose it; nevertheless, I think it will come round by-and-by.”
“February 22, 1847. “I fear the six cents' commutation is in danger in the House of Representatives. The bill has been returned with amendments, and I fear the six cents will be attacked, as I know a good many who think much of the difference between the cost of whisky made from potatoes and money; and Mr. Welles has asked and received the assent of the Senate for an appropriation of $200,000 to pay this commutation, and that is what will endanger the bill in the House. God knows when the war (with Mexico) will end. I see no prospect at present. After Vera Cruz and the Castle have surrendered, the chances for peace will be better."
“Navy YARD, Boston, June 15, 1847. “DEAR SIR,—Agreeably to the request contained in your letter of the 24th ultimo, I submit the following reasons, as among the most prominent, why whisky should be stricken from the Navy ration-table:
“In the mercantile marine generally the spirit-ration has been abolished, and its effect upon the morale and efficiency of that service has exceeded the expectations of the most sanguine. Similar effects were so manifest in the case of the United States frigate Cumberland, bearing the flag of Commodore Joseph Smith, now Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, that all the commissioned officers, although at the outset of the cruise regarding the idea of abolishing the whisky-ration as wholly impracticable, with two hundred and fifty of the crew, subsequently sent a petition to Congress, praying its abolishment. Lieutenant-Commandant Charles H. Davis, of the United States surveying schooner Gallatin, and formerly in command of the Nautilus, has not for several years served out to his crew the daily allowance of whisky. One of his lieutenants informs me that now they can send their men on shore without apprehension of drunkenness and desertion, which were rife previously to adopting this measure. I inclose herewith a letter from Lieutenant-Commandant Davis, giving his views and mode of proceeding more in detail in relation to this matter. Commander John Pope, of the United States brig Dolphin, now cruising on the coast of Africa, in a letter to a friend, just received, says: “I hope most truly to see the day when the spirit-ration will be done away. We can do as well without liquor as the men in the merchant service.' Commander John C. Long, United States Navy, says: “It is practicable, it is expedient to abolish the whisky-ration, and it ought to be done forthwith. I tested this matter to my entire satisfaction when in command of the schooner Dolphin,' I am aware, notwithstanding this testimony, that there are quite a number of officers in the Navy opposed to its abolishment, and so were the officers of the Cumberland, and also of the mercantile marine, until the experiment was fairly tested, when the sentiment changed entirely.
“ These facts seem to show conclusively that the abolishment of the whisky-ration would materially advance the moral tone of seamen and the efficiency of the service, but the proposed measure has met with objections, the most prominent of which is that it would be coercive; on