and the Ottoman (or Turkish) Empire fought a series of wars from
the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries, which gradually
allowed Russia to extend its territory southward. In 1877, in the last and most important of these wars, Russia
and Serbia intervened militarily to support rebellions against
Turkish rule in the Balkan regions of Bosnia, Herzegovina, and
the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, the United States was a
neutral power that furnished arms to both sides in the conflict.
in the April 28, 1877 issue of Harper’s
Weekly presented the Ottoman Empire (a “Moslem”) and
Russia (a “Muscovite”) threatening each other. Brother Jonathan, personifying the United States, stood
impatiently in the background, encouraging them to fight so that
he can sell them “Provisions, Guns, Ammunition, Ships” (as the
billboard on his storefront announced).
Standing in the shadows near his pawnshop, John Bull, the
symbol of Great Britain, looked concerned.
Britain had interests in the Middle East (protecting the
Suez Canal in Egypt and the trade route to India), and was in a
decades-long struggle with Russia for dominance of the region
months later, artist Theodore Davis’s cover illustration
for the October 13 issue showed workers making cartridges at an
arms factory in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
The accompanying article
explained that the
ammunition was intended for the Russo-Turkish War:
“Both parties to the great struggle … turn to America
for a large proportion of the arms and ammunition supplied to
their respective armies…”
The factory featured on the front page and another in New
Haven together produced two million cartridges daily to fill large
orders from Russia and Turkey. Most of the two companies’ 4000 employees were women.
The article concluded, “In short, America leads the world
in the manufacture of arms of precision.”
ended in March 1878 when victorious Russia and defeated Turkey
signed the Treaty of San Stefano. It recognized the independence of Montenegro, Romania, and
Serbia, granted autonomy to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and put much
of Bulgaria under Russian protection.
Opposition to its terms from Britain and Austria-Hungary
led to its revision a few months later in the Treaty of Berlin.
April 28, 1877, p. 336, c.
cartoon, US and
October 13, 1877, p.
October 13, 1877,
article, “Making Cartridges”