Genius will never cease to invent something better.
If we wait for the best, the next war will be over long before we shall begin to prepare for it. All great military nations had been engaged for many years in elaborate and costly experiments, to develop the best possible means of attack and defense, and our Engineer and Ordnance departments had not failed to profit thereby to the fullest extent.
They were ready, without any such costly experiments, to make our defenses as good as any in the world.
Yet that work of so vital importance must be delayed until American genius could also be assured of a chance, at government expense, of developing something better than anybody else in the world had done!
An end was finally, in 1888, put to that dangerous delay by the device, so happily invented by somebody in Congress, of a Board of Ordnance and Fortification.
The board has also served, and will doubtless continue to serve, another very important purpose.
It brings together, in close consideration and discussion of all details of the system of national defense, representative officers of the engineers, the ordnance, and the artillery, together with a representative civilian who has become, by service in Congress, far better able than any other member to insure that perfect understanding between the board and the committees of Congress which is essential to harmonious action.
Above all, it has given to the commanding general
an opportunity to become perfectly familiar with all the details of the coast defenses, and to exert a legitimate influence in making preparations for war, which must be of vital importance to him and to the country when he has to bear the great responsibility of command.
I used to say that it would not be just to me to deprive me of such opportunities for education, and I doubt not all my successors will share that feeling.
Thus, what may prove to be of the greatest benefit to