Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

62

lver Benton, Thomas Hart, was by North Carolina, March 14, 1784; ton April 10, 1858. He was a la left the place after a street fig moved to Missouri, which State } sented. He was United States 1851. From 1853 to 1855 he was a Democrat, but opposed to secession and to siavery ayrtation; this caused his defeat in several elections late in life.

Berlin Decree. (See Embargo Act.)

Biddle's, Nicholas, United States Bank. (See Nicholas Biddle's United States Bank.)

Big Ditch.—The Erie Canal was spoken of derisively as “Clinton's Big Ditch” before its success and importance were made apparent.

Big Head is a political phrase to indicate an exalted opinion of his own abilities on the part of a public man.

Big Knife.-A name applied to General Andrew Jackson by the Southern Indians in recognition of his military successes against them.

Bill of 1800.-A law introduced in that year by Senator James Ross, of Pennsylvania, to regulate the electoral count. It provided for a “grand committee” of six Senators, six Representative and the Chief Justice. These, sitting in secret, were to settle all disputes concerning electoral votes. The bill was amended ir. the House so as to give to the committee the power merely to take testimony, doubtful returns to be rejected only by a concurrent vote of both Houses; this was amended by the Senate so as to cause returns to be rejected unless accepted by a concurrent vote. The bill was lost. The bill is memorable as the first open attempt on the part of Congress to arrogate to itself the duty assigned by the Constitution to the President of the Senate of counting the electoral votes.

Bill of Rights.-A bill of rights is the summary of rights and privileges claimed by the people of a nation against the tyrannous exercise of power by their rulers. The Bill of Rights in England is an Act of Parliament

used in 1689 by which the privileges claimed in the petition of right that was presented to William and Mary and acceded to by them on accepting the call to the British throne, were enacted as fundamental principles of English liberty. The chief of these principles had previously been asserted in the Magna Charta in 1215, and the Petition of Right presented to Charles I in 1628 (see those titles). The first six amendments to the Constitution of the United States are sometimes called our Bill of Rights. They are designed to prevent tyrannous acts by the Federal government and to protect, among other things, the freedom of religion, speech and the

press, the rights of assembly, petition, bearing arms, and trial by jury, and the right to compensation for private property taken for public uses. (See Eminent Domain, Jury and Right of Assembly, &c.) Most of the State constitutions in a similar way secure these rights to the people under their control.

Bills of Attainder. (See Attainder.)

Bi-metallism is the doctrine that two metals can and ought, at the same time, in the same country, to be adopted as standards of value, and to bear to each other a fixed ratio established and recognized by the government. The term is almost exclusively used in reference to the metals gold and silver. Monometallism is the doctrine that only one metal ought so to be used. It is a proposition generally admitted

by bi-metallists that attempts to realize their object must fail unless the most important commercial countries unite in fixing the ratio between the metals. If different countries adopt a double standard, selecting different ratios, the gold or the silver, as the case may be, of every country, will leave it to go to a country in which it happens to be rendered more valuable, and thus the two metals will be separated and the object fail. If any one country alone adopt a double standard, its gold or silver will be exported according as the market value of silver (in other countries a mere commodity and not a standard of value) is lower or higher than the value fixed by the government ratio. (See Coinage.) Our country is monometallic, notwith

[ocr errors]

standing the fact that there is silver in circulation; silver
is here coined only for the purposes of the government,
and an individual presenting silver bullion at our mints
and assay offices cannot have the same coined into dol-
lars, as he can with gold. The coinage of bullion, as
instanced in the case of gold, is called free coinage. Bi-
metallists regard the use of both metals as necessary, and
claim that the co-operation of the principal commercial
nations will suffice to establish it. Monometailists
maintain that practical business has brought all nations
to single standards, and that any change would be an
uncalled for interference with natural laws, the untram-
meled operation of which invariably conduces to the best
results.

Birney, James G., was born in Danville, Kentucky,
February 4, 1792, and died at Perth Amboy, New Jersey,
November 25, 1857. He was originally a slave-holder,
and at one time agent for a colonization society. In
1834 he freed his slaves and established an Abolition
newspaper. Fear of violence compelled him to leave
Danville, and subsequently Cincinnati, whither he had
moved. He came to New York, where he was secretary
of the American Anti-Slavery Society. In 1840 and 1844
he was the candidate for President of the Liberty party.
In 1842 he moved to Michigan, and a fall from his horse
disabled him from further political activity.

Black Cockade.—A black cockade worn on the hat was an emblem adopted by the Federalists during the troubles with France in 1797, when war seemed imminent. Its meaning lay in the fact that it had been a part of the Continental uniform during the Revolution, and moreover it served as a contrast to the tri-color cockade of France which the Republicans had affected. “ Black Cockade Federalist was a term of reproach applied to Federalists during the days of the party's decline.

Black Codes. (See Black Laws.)

Black Eagle.-In the National Republican Convention of 1884 General John A. Logan, who had been proposed as the Republican candidate for President, was referred to by Judge West, the blind orator of Ohio, as " that, grand, old Black Eagle of Illinois.”

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

It was

Black Friday.-On Friday, September 24, 1869, gold sold as high as 162. It had been quoted at 143in the Gold Board in New York the previous evening. The rise was in consequence of an attempt by “Jim” Fisk, Jay Gould and others to corner the gold market. intended to force gold to 180. This plan was thwarted by the offer of the Secretary of the Treasury late on Friday to sell $4,000,000 of gold to the highest bidder on the next day, and an offer to purchase government bonds to the same amount. The effect of this corner was a violent panic in the stock market; business was upset, for merchants needed gold to pay at the Custom House, and the general aspect was so threatening that the day has been named as above. The Gold Board was so convulsed that its officers deemed it best to suspend business, and the Board remained closed until the Wednesday following.

Black Hawk War. (See Indian Wars.)

Black Horse Cavalry is a name given to those legislators (more or less numerous in every legislative body) that act together for the purpose of exacting money from friends of any measure under consideration and threaten its defeat in case of non-compliance. Their number is frequently great enough to be of considerable influence.

Black Jack.—A name by which Major General John A. Logan was known on account of his swarthy complexion, black hair and moustache.

Black Laws.-Laws passed in many of the Northern States before the abolition of slavery requiring certain acts to be performed by free negroes, as a condition to their residing in those States, or prescribing disabilities under which they labored. Such were laws requiring them to file certificates of their freedom; forbidding them to testify in cases in which a white man was interested; excluding them from the militia and from the public schools, and requiring them to give bonds for their good behavior.

Black Republicans.—The Republicans were called by their opponents. The term was especially applied by Southerners to anti-slavery members of that party.

SO

of war.

Blaine, James Gillespie, was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, January 31, 1830. He was in early life a journalist. From 11863 to 1875 he was in Congress, being Speaker during the last six years; from 1876 to 1881 he was United States Senator; in 1881 he became Secretary of State under Garfield; soon after Garfield's death he resigned his position. He is a Republican. In 1876 and 1880 he was a prominent candidate for the presidential nomination of his party; in 1884 he was nominated but defeated by a small majority, owing to the defection of a part of the Republican party. (See Independents.) In 1888 he wrote a letter saying that his name would not be presented to the convention, and in 1889 became Secretary of State, under Harrison.

Blockade is the prevention of neutral commerce with an enemy's coasts or ports. It is a measure well recognized in international law as justified by the necessities

Certain ports or portions of coast may be blockaded, or the blockade may extend to all parts of the enemy's dominions bordering on the sea. One side of a river may be blockaded while the other remains free. It is now well settled that in order to render a neutral vessel liable to the penalty for trying to evade or “run blockade the latter must be effective and due notice must be given of it. A cabinet or paper blockade is one that is merely announced or ordered, but which is not or cannot be enforced. Such are not recognized as effective. The blockading nation must maintain a sufficient number of vessels to at least render an attempt to run the blockade hazardous. The notice may be actual, by informing vessels individually as they approach a blockaded coast or by calling on them to leave blockaded waters, or it may be constructive, by giving diplomatic notice to neutral governments.

A neutral vessel is equally liable to seizure whether seeking access to or departure from a blockaded region. The penalty is confiscation of the vessel and of the cargo also, if it appears that the latter was the object of the attempted evasion of the blockade. Neutral war ships are sometimes permitted to enter a blockaded port as a matter of comity,

а

« ForrigeFortsett »