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Title: Wonderful Development of Peter the Great's Pet Projects, according to His Last Will and Testament. - American Invention as an Aid to Russia's Grasp on Asiatic Territory.
Author: Gannon, W.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  Peter the Great’s Pet Projects,


  His Last Will and Testament.









  March to Constantinople.


Peter the Great may justly be credited with having been the greatest
civilizer of his race. To him is due the credit of nationalizing
his country and inaugurating vast industries, through the medium of
the Ship. So far in advance of his time was he that his startling
innovations and wonderful discounting of the arts of diplomacy must
have endangered his head had he not been fortunate enough to have been
born a despot.

Peter’s last will and testament outlined the policy to be pursued by
his successors, looking to the aggrandizement of Russia, and startling
though its terms are in their selfishness, they are so thoroughly
diplomatic that his successors have religiously lived up to their full

And so it comes to pass that the ever-advancing and
constantly-tightening grasp of Russia on adjacent territory is alarming
the Governments of the Old World and may, indeed, in the near future,
somewhat concern ourselves. The Canadian Government is now urging Great
Britain to erect defences on the Pacific Coast, for the reason that
Russia, in pursuance of her peculiar policy, is enlarging her works and
arsenal at Vladivostock, opposite British Columbia; and the initiative
has already been taken by Great Britain in the erection of batteries in
the neighborhood of Esquimault.

As early as last May the St. Petersburgh correspondent of the New York
_Tribune_ contributed the following report of the progress of the Grand
Trunk Railway through Central Southern Siberia to the Pacific Ocean and


    “The completion of the Trans-Caspian Railway to Samarcand marks
    another stage in the Russian occupation of Asia. That city was
    the objective point of the earlier campaigns from Orenburg and
    the sea of Aral, which ended in the conquest of Khiva and Kokan
    and the establishment of Tashkend as the military headquarters,
    with railway connections northward. Bokhara was reduced to the
    condition of a protected province and Samarcand was virtually
    converted into a Russian centre of trade on the border of China.
    An interval of twelve years has elapsed, during which Samarcand,
    already within easy reach from Tashkend, has been gradually
    approached from the Caspian Sea. The Trans-Caspian Railway is now
    in operation from Michailovsk to Samarcand, a distance of 885
    miles, by way of Askabad, Merv and Bokhara. This narrow-gauge
    system, built at a cost of $21,000,000, gives Russia control of
    the commerce of Turkestan and completes the circuit of conquest on
    the borders of China, Afghanistan and Persia. In future military
    operations in Central Asia this railway, with the northern line
    running from Tashkend, will be a most useful base of transportation
    and supplies. Meanwhile, it binds together a straggling series
    of conquests separated by broad reaches of desert. It is already
    rumored in St. Petersburg that the Czar intends to visit during
    the summer the great Empire in Central Asia which the valor of
    his soldiers and the skill of his engineers have created. An
    imperial journey to Merv, Bokhara and Samarcand will illustrate
    the wonderful progress made by the Russians during the last twenty
    years in overrunning Asia.

    “The Russian engineer who has completed the Trans-Caspian system is
    now to undertake a new and colossal undertaking. This is the trunk
    line through Central and Southern Siberia to the Pacific Ocean.
    Surveys have already been made for a railway from Tomsk to Irkutsk,
    and this line when finished is to be extended to Vladivostock,
    on the coast. As the Trans-Caspian now makes a close approach
    to Western China, the Siberian will complete the circuit of the
    Celestial Empire on its northern border. If the consent of the
    Chinese Government can be obtained, branches will be built from
    Irkutsk to Pekin, Shanghai, and other centres of population. Within
    five years it is expected that this gigantic enterprise will be
    accomplished and St. Petersburgh brought into direct communication
    with Vladivostock. The journey from the capital to the Pacific can
    then be made in a fortnight; and if Chinese markets can be opened
    to Russian traders, a marvelous change in the conditions of Asian
    commerce and intercourse will be effected.”

       *       *       *       *       *

And only a few weeks ago the same journal printed the following, as a
sequel to the above:

    “The announcement that Russia’s Central Asia railroad system is
    to be greatly extended was to be expected. At present it reaches
    to Samarkand and already more than pays working expenses. Every
    branch or further extension of the main line will, of course, add
    materially to its traffic and its profits. It is now proposed to
    build a branch from the main line at Chardjui, on the Oxus, to
    Chamiab, and also to continue the main line onward from Samarcand
    to Tashkend. The latter would cross the Jaxartes; and thus the road
    would give direct communication with both the great rivers that
    flow into the Aral Sea, just at the head of navigation on them, and
    would connect the commerce of the Aral with that of the Caspian.
    Just beyond Tashkend begins a series of steppes adjoining those
    of Siberia, whither Russian colonists are flocking. The road thus
    promises to be of equal importance to commerce and to military


The occupation of Asia, so long determined on by Russia, was a problem
most difficult of solution. Many years were spent in devising ways and
means to navigate the Aral Sea—the first thought being to transport
machinery and material for the construction of steamers over the
mountains—a project which was at length abandoned as impracticable.

But a solution was at hand. In the year 1860 a novel system for the
construction of vessels was introduced in Great Britain by an American,
through whose efforts a Company was formed and an extensive factory
established at Liverpool. This Company, on proof of the value of its
system of construction, secured a contract with the British Government
to construct a number of steamers for the East India Company of

As an evidence of the financial solidity of this company, and the
class of men who invested their capital in that concern, it may be
mentioned that Sir Charles Manby, the great English civil engineer, was
President, while such men as Sir Robert Stephenson, President of the
Institution of Civil Engineers, and John Hamilton, also well-known as
an eminent engineer, were members and stockholders. The entire capital
and membership of the Company belonged in London—Liverpool simply
being selected as a factory site.

The steamers under course of construction by this Company were 150 and
200 feet long, built on the new system of


three-sixteenths of an inch in thickness. By this system the weight
of hull of a vessel was reduced one-third and the draft reduced in
proportion, while the strength was increased two-fold by means of the
corrugations covering the entire outer surface of the hull, which
corrugations take the place of _frames_ or _timbers_, thus increasing
the interior capacity of a boat of given draft while vastly increasing
her strength. The great utility and superior qualities of this mode
of construction was fully demonstrated by the building of several
supply boats for the British Navy, as well as military wagons for the
Army, and other constructions on the same principle for miscellaneous
purposes. The steamers built by this company were so constructed that
they could be


being so arranged that they could be set up and taken apart with the
utmost celerity, and without the aid of more than passable shipbuilding
or mechanical knowledge. This unique and valuable system of ship
construction was invented by Joseph Francis, an American born, and
justly celebrated as founder of the United States Life-Saving Service,
for which, at a late day, he received the


Information of this system of construction reached Russia after its
value had been proved by the American, English, French, Austrian and
German Governments, and Mr. Francis was invited to visit that country,
where he was received by the Emperor.

In 1860, Admiral Boutakoff, of the Imperial Russian Navy, was ordered
by the Emperor to proceed to Liverpool and examine the system of
construction, with a view to its applicability to service on the Aral
Sea, in Asia, and report as to its utility. From documents placed
in possession of the writer, he is enabled to present a copy of the
Admiral’s Report, as follows:

    “LIVERPOOL, 15th November, 1860.

    “HONORED SIR: I have sent to the Scientific Committee of the
    Marine Ministry, with my reports of the 15th and 17th of October,
    for publication in a marine journal, a short article concerning
    the corrugated iron steamers. In addition to information therein
    contained, I would state that it is my conviction that for our
    rivers, which are from year to year getting more shallow, there
    cannot be built a more suitable steamer than the above. In the
    discharge of my duty, I communicate to you the result of the
    trials which have been made at the Liverpool factory.

    “The corrugation of sheets of iron is effected, as may be known to
    you, crosswise and not lengthwise, and the sheets of the hull are
    riveted together by lapping one upon the other, corrugation upon
    corrugation, and a double row of rivets put in.

    “It was important to ascertain the relative strength of the riveted
    lap to a whole sheet before proceeding with the construction
    of the steamers. For that purpose we placed upon two blocks a
    riveted sheet _a a_ (as marked in the diagram accompanying this),
    three feet ten inches in length by two feet six inches wide and
    three-sixteenths of an inch thick. We then began by laying on
    it, directly over the line of the rivets, zinc slabs, _b b_, each
    weighing thirty-one pounds English.

    “The sheet broke at one row of rivets after having placed upon
    it 188 slabs, or 160 poods of fourteen pounds each (nearly three
    tons); after this test a whole sheet of the same measure was placed
    upon the blocks, and it bent after 199 slabs or 170 poods, (over
    three tons) had been placed upon it.

    “Finally we took a plain sheet of iron the same measure, not
    corrugated, and it bent and fell from the blocks after ten slabs
    had been placed upon it. I believe that such results settle the
    question in regard to the local strength which corrugation imparts
    to iron and its adaptation in the construction of vessels.

    “With sincere regard,

    (Signed.)     “ALEXANDER BOUTAKOFF.



On a call from the Russian Government, the inventor submitted
photographs and drawings of the steamers constructed by the Liverpool
Company, addressed, according to instructions, to the Grand Duke

After some little necessary correspondence, shorn of all diplomatic red
tape, a contract was entered into between the Imperial Government and
Mr. Francis, for the construction of a fleet of light-draft steamers,
to be pushed to completion rapidly as possible. The result was that,
ere the year 1862 had passed, steamers, fully engined, and ready for
service, were erected at the Liverpool factory, and taken apart again
for shipment. These vessels were 150 to 200 feet in length, built on
similar lines to vessels already constructed by the Company. When the
steamers had been put together, tested and again set up at the factory,
they were boxed for shipment, in sections, both hulls, floating dock
and machinery, when they were ready for


From Liverpool they went first to St. Petersburgh—thence to Moscow—on
to Nijni Novgorod—across the Volga—over the Ural Mountains—to the
Aral Sea, in Asia—where they were at length unboxed, the sections once
again put together and, lo, a


upreared as if by magic hands. This was the initiative in Russia’s
grandest Dream of Empire. These vessels had crossed the Aral barrier,
and swooped down like things of life on the insulated sea, the
inhabitants of whose shores fondly dreamed they dwelt secure in
Nature’s fastness. Impossible would it have been to transport vessels
in their entirety over the rugged heights, and deadly impracticable
would it have been to attempt their construction on the Aral seaboard,
in full view of an alert and suspicious people.

Here it may be well to introduce three letters, the originals of which
are in possession of the writer, and which are fully corroborative of
the preceding statements.

    “_To His Imperial Highness the Grand Duke Constantine_:

    “I beg leave to present to Your Imperial Highness lithographs of
    the two corrugated galvanized iron steamers, built at Liverpool
    for the Syr Dariah River, under the supervision of Captain A.
    Boutakoff, of the Russian Imperial Navy.

    “The two steamers, together with one barge and a lifting dock, are
    finished, ready for shipment. Captain Boutakoff left Liverpool
    March 25 (13th).

    “Your Imperial Highness’ humble servant,

    (Signed.)                   “JOSEPH FRANCIS.”

       *       *       *       *       *


                        March 31, 1861—No. 189. }

    “_To Mr. Joseph Francis_:

    “The letter which you addressed to His Imperial Highness the Grand
    Duke, General Admiral, on the 25th March, with which you presented
    to His Imperial Highness two drawings of corrugated iron steamers,
    has been sent to this committee, with a resolution from the
    Ministry of Marine, stating that His Imperial Highness desired his
    thanks to you. The committee has the honor to inform you thereof.

    “Manager, BELLARMSKY.             “THE PRESIDENT.

    (Signed.)              Major-General CHERNOFSKY.”

(Letter from Admiral Boutakoff to Mr. Francis.)

    “FORT NO. 1, SYR DARIAH, July 2, 1862.

    “DEAR MR. FRANCIS—The new steamers of my flotilla, built at your works at
    Liverpool, are not yet launched, but I hope to accomplish it in
    about a month. The boilers, on account of the great difficulty
    of transporting them across the Desert, will not arrive before
    the middle of August, so that I shall not have sufficient time to
    employ the new steamers this year, but will give them a trial upon
    the Syr Dariah. The parts of the pontoon dock will be here about
    the end of August, giving us time to put them together next winter.

    “With a hearty shake hands, and my sincere sympathies with your
    northern countrymen, of whose victories I congratulate you.

    “I remain, yours most truly,

    (Signed.)      “A. BOUTAKOFF.”

On the launching of the steamers, the Emperor congratulated Mr. Francis
on the success of the invention by which the first obstacle that
barred the way to the conquest of a vast territory was removed, opening
an avenue to increased Empire.

After the survey of the Aral, only rendered possible by the
construction of these vessels, fortifications were constructed on the
shores of that sea, and the long-deferred conquest of that section of
Asia was, to all intents and purposes, accomplished.

In order to still further emphasize his gratitude, the Emperor caused
Mr. Francis to be created a Knight of the Royal Order of Saint
Stanislaus, one of the richest decorations in the gift of royalty.
Following is a copy of the parchment:

    “We, by the grace of God, Alexander the Second, Emperor and
    Autocrat of all the Russians, Czar of Poland, Grand Duke of
    Finland, etc., etc., etc.

    “_To Joseph Francis, Citizen of the United States of North America_:

    “The Ministry of Marine having testified to your particular
    services, we have graciously been pleased to nominate you a Knight
    of our Imperial and Royal Order of Saint Stanislaus by an Ukaz of
    7th November, 1860, given to our Chapter of Orders, to the end that
    they do sign and seal this Diploma in witness thereof, and forward
    to you the insignia of the Order.

    “ST. PETERSBURG, this 10th day of November, 1860.

                   _The Vice-President_,         COUNT BORCH
    [SEAL.]        _Lieut.-General_,             L'ECESUJSECETZ.
                   _Grand Master of Ceremonies_, RHITROVO.
                   _Member_,                     KU, UYEY5EYUIVEL.,

    No. 5,756.”

Shortly after the securing of his patents in Russia Mr. Francis
disposed of a portion of his corrugated system patent to Baron Rumin,
Chamberlain to the Emperor, covering Moscow and the Rivers Volga and

After the contract was drawn, a request was made on the part of the
Baron to include the Caspian Sea, and to which no objection was made,
as little value was placed on the Caspian at that time, on account of
its shallow water and isolated position, no one supposing that a


and join both the great rivers that flow into the Aral Sea, connecting
commerce with the Aral and Caspian, as well as China, and so onward to
the Pacific Coast.

A factory was eventually established by Baron Rumin, on the Banks of
the Volga, for the construction of steamers, and practical workmen
were sent to this factory from the establishment of Mr. Francis, at
Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York.

       *       *       *       *       *

This brief account of Russia’s struggle for supremacy among the
family of nations, so intimately interwoven with the history of one
of America’s foremost inventors in the life-saving field, is another
instance of the Providence that rules the destinies of the world,
through the lives of unassuming and patient workers.

From experiment came invention. The Life-Car, in this instance the
outcome of extended experiment on the part of Joseph Francis, proved
the value of the corrugating system, the fame of which, within a few
years, spread all over the world. The Life-Car, the first construction
under the corrugated system, was merely the germ of the widespread
uses to which the system was and is applicable, as has been shown.
Steamships, floating docks, pontoon bridges, military wagons and
railway cars are only a few among the many constructions to which
the Francis system of corrugated iron was applied by him and those
to whom he sold the right to manufacture. The Life-Car, then, was
the suggestion that led to the construction of the portable, strong,
light-draft ship, which proved the most powerful implement, in Russia’s
hands, of working out the vastest scheme of empire ever conceived in
the brain of man. Mr. Francis, successful in all his inventions, has
been honored beyond most men by foreign potentates, and now is about
to receive what he holds to be the crowning honor, the bestowal of the
gold medal awarded him by two Congresses, with the double thanks of
this chosen body of representatives of the people.



The following is an authentic copy of the Will of Peter the Great, the
first Emperor of Russia. This will is the supreme foundation and law
of Russian politics, since his time, and was confidentially deposited
in the hands of the Abbe de Bervis, Minister of Foreign Affairs, in
1757, and also in those of Louis XV. A copy is also to be found in the
diplomatic archives of France, from which this translation is derived:



In the name of the most Holy and Indivisible Trinity, we, Peter,
the First Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias, etc., to all our
descendants and successors to the throne and government of the Russian

God, from whom we derive our existence, and to whom we owe our crown,
having constantly enlightened us by His spirit, and sustained us by
His Divine help, allow us to look on the Russian people as called
upon hereafter to hold sway over Europe. My reason for thus thinking
is, that the European nations have mostly reached a state of old
age, bordering upon imbecility, or they are rapidly approaching it:
naturally, then, they will be easily and indubitably conquered by a
people strong in youth and vigor, especially when this latter shall
have attained its full strength and power. I look on the future
invasion of the Eastern and Western countries by the North as a
periodical movement ordained by Providence, who, in a like manner,
regenerated the Russian nation by barbarian invasion. These emigrations
of men from the North are as the reflux of the Nile, which, at certain
periods comes to fertilize the impoverished lands of Egypt by its
deposit. I found Russia as a rivulet, I leave it a river: my successors
will make of it a large sea, destined to fertilize the impoverished
lands of Europe, and its waters will overflow, in spite of imposing
dams erected by weak hands, if our descendants only know how to direct
its course. This is the reason I leave them the following instructions.
I give those countries to their watchfulness and care, as Moses gave
the Tables of the Law to the Jewish people.


Keep the Russian nation in a STATE OF CONTINUAL WAR: so as to have the
soldier always under arms, and ready for action, excepting when the
finances of the State will not allow it. Keep up the forces; choose
the best moments for attack. By these means you will be ready for war
even in time of peace. This is for the interest of the future
aggrandizement of Russia.


Endeavor by every possible means to bring in from the neighboring
civilized countries of Europe officers in times of war, and learned men
in times of peace; thus giving the Russian people the advanges enjoyed
by other countries, without allowing them to lose any of their own


On every occasion take a part in the affairs and quarrels of Europe;
above all, in those of Germany, which country, being the nearest, more
immediately concerns us.


Divide Poland, exciting civil discord there; win over the nobility by
bribery, corrupt the diets, so as to have influence on the election
of Kings, get partisans into office, protect them, bring to sojourn
there Muscovite troops, until such time as they can be permanently
established there. If the neighboring powers start difficulties,
appease them for a time by parceling out the country, until you can
retake in detail all that has been ceded.


Take as much as you can from Sweden, and cause yourself to be attacked
by her, so as to have a pretext for subduing her. To accomplish this,
sever Denmark from Sweden, and Sweden from Denmark, carefully keeping
up their rivalries.


Always choose, as wives for the Russian princes, German princesses, so
as to increase family alliances, to draw mutual interests closer, and,
by propagating our principles in Germany, to enlist her in our cause.


England—requiring us for her navy, and she being the only power that
can aid in the development of ours, seek a commercial alliance with
her, in preference to any other. Exchange our wood, and the productions
of our land for her gold, and establish between her merchants, her
sailors and ours a continual intercourse; this will aid in perfecting
the Russian fleet for navigation and commerce.


Extend your possessions toward the North, along the Baltic, and toward
the South by the Black Sea.


Approach as near as possible to Constantinople and its outskirts.
He who shall reign there will be the true sovereign of the world.
Consequently, be continually at war—sometimes with the Turks,
sometimes with Persia. Establish dock yards on the Black Sea, get
entire possession of it by degrees, also of the Baltic Sea; this being
necessary to the accomplishment of the plan. Hasten the decline of
Persia; penetrate to the Persian Gulf; re-establish, if possible, the
ancient commerce of the Levant through Syria, and make your way to the
Indies—they are the emporium of the world. Once there, you can do
without the gold of England.


Seek, and carefully keep up an alliance with Austria; acquiesce,
apparently, in her ideas of dominating over Germany, at the same time
clandestinely exciting against her the jealousy of the neighboring
provinces. Endeavor that the aid of Russia should be called for, by one
and the other, so that by exercising a kind of guardianship over the
country, you prepare a way for governing hereafter.


Give the House of Austria an interest, for joining in banishing the
Turks from Europe; defraud her of her share of the booty, at the
conquest of Constantinople, either by raising a war for her with the
ancient states of Europe, or by giving her a portion, which you will
take back at a future period.


Attach to yourselves, and assemble around you, all the united Greeks,
as also the disunited or schismatics, who are scattered either in
Hungary, Turkey, or the south of Poland. Make yourselves their centres,
their chief support, and lay the foundation for universal supremacy, by
establishing a kind of royalty or sacerdotal government; the Slavonic
Greeks will be so many friends that you will have scattered amongst
your enemies.


Sweden severed, Persia and Turkey conquered, Poland subjugated, our
armies united, the Black and Baltic Seas guarded by our vessels, you
must make propositions separately and discreetly—first to the Court of
Versailles, then to that of Vienna, to share with them the Empire of
the Universe.

If one of them accept—and it cannot be otherwise, so as you flatter
their pride and ambition—make use of it to crush the other—then
crush, in its turn, the surviving one, by engaging with it in a
death-struggle; the issue of which cannot be doubtful, Russia
possessing already all the East and a great part of Europe.


If—which is not likely—both refuse the propositions of Russia, you
must manage to raise quarrels for them, and make them exhaust one
another; then profiting by a decisive moment, Russia will bring down
her assembled troops on Germany; at the same time, two considerable
fleets will set out—the one from the Sea of Azov, the other from the
port of Archangel—loaded with Asiatic hordes, under the convoy of
the armed fleets from the Black Sea and the Baltic; advancing by the
Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean, they will invade France on one
side, whilst Germany will already have been invaded on the other. These
countries conquered, the rest of Europe will easily pass under the
yoke, without striking a single blow.


Thus Europe can, and ought, to be subdued.



Lest the reader of this WILL may form an opinion antagonistic to its
author, it may be well to state that while Peter the Great was a Despot
he was also a Patriot—and while a Tyrant he was yet a Humanitarian.
This man, who could icily command death by the knout was the same
man who yielded up his own life in rescuing a sailor who had fallen
overboard in the ice-laden waters of the Neva. And Peter was, above
and beyond all, a Statesman, an Inventor, a finished Mechanic and
Progenerator of the Russian Life-Saving Service.

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