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Arbitration Between Britain and America

Two questions arose with Great Britain while Ulysses S. Grant was President, which might have made trouble. But, instead of fighting, some of the best statesmen of both countries made a treaty at Washington (1871), saying that the difficulties should be decided by arbitration.

Aboard of distinguished men, therefore, met at Geneva, in Switzerland, to settle what are known as the “Alabama claims.” You remember that during the Civil War a vessel of that name and other ships were built in England,—a neutral country,—and handed over to the Confederates, who used them to destroy many Union vessels.

After weighing both sides, of the question, this board decided that a neutral country should not furnish vessels and arms to nations at war. As Great Britain had clearly been in the wrong in this case, she was condemned to pay the United States fifteen and a half million dollars as damages for property destroyed.

The second question—the water boundary between the United States and British Columbia in Puget Sound—was left entirely to the Emperor of Germany, who drew the line on the map where it now stands.