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The Story of the United States

by Henrietta Elizabeth MARSHALL - 1917

Parts 1 - 2       Chapters 1 - 21 Parts 5 - 6       Chapters 45 - 63
Parts 3 - 4       Chapters 22 - 44 Parts  7       Chapters 64 - 99

Part 7: Chapter:
64     65     66     67     68     69     70     71     72     73     74     75     76     77     78     79     80     81     82     83

84     85     86     88     89     90     91     92     93     94     95     96     97     98     99






AFTER the peace was signed in September, 1783, all the British soldiers left America, and Washington felt that his work was done. So he resolved to give up his post as commander-in-chief, and go back to his pleasant Virginian home.


He was glad at the thought of going back to the home he loved, yet sad at the thought of saying farewell to his officers. For eight years they had worked for him faithfully, together they had faced dark days, together they had been through deep waters. And now that victory was won, Washington's heart was filled with love and gratitude.

Washington says farewell to his officers, Dec., 1783;

It was at Faunces's Tavern in New York that Washington met his officers for the last time. When he came into the long, low room where they were all gathered, he was so moved that he could not speak. Silently he went to the table and filled a glass with wine. Raising it, he turned to the men who stood as silently about him, and with an effort, commanding his voice he spoke.


"With a heart full of love and gratitude," he said, "I now take leave of you, most devoutly wishing that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honourable."


Then having drunk to the toast he set the glass down.


"I cannot come to each of you to take my leave," he said brokenly, "but shall be obliged if each of you will come and take me by the hand."


The General who was nearest to Washington then turned to him and silently grasped his hand.


With tears in his eyes, Washington put his arms about him and kissed him. And thus one after the other his officers silently said good-bye, no one of them trusting himself to speak.


Then still in silence, they followed him to the boat which was to carry him on the first part of his way to Annapolis where Congress was assembled, and where he was to lay down his sword.

he sets out for Annapolis;

His journey was like a royal progress. In every town and village through which he passed the people gathered to cheer and bless him. So he reached Annapolis. There before Congress he resigned his commission. Then with a sigh of relief, a simple citizen once more, he mounted his horse and rode homewards.

he returns home;

But now the colonies which had wrung themselves free from the rule of Britain were not altogether happy. They called themselves the United States, but there was little union. Before the Revolution there had been much jealousy between the various states. For a time, indeed, in the heat of the struggle, they had forgotten these differences. But now that the struggle was over, and peace had come, these jealousies appeared again. Each state had its own government, its own taxes, its own money. So there was great confusion. But no state wanted to give up any of its privileges, and it seemed hopeless to institute one Central Government, for each state thought only of itself, and each one was afraid of giving Congress too much power lest it should usurp the power of the state government.


And thus one after the other his officers silently
said good-bye, no one of them trusting himself
to speak.

The states quarreled with each other about their boundaries, some of them made absurd claims to vast territory on the strength of their royal charters, quite forgetting that these charters were now done away with. There were riots everywhere, indeed, never was the State in such danger of shipwreck as now at its very beginning.


Washington from his quiet retreat at first watched the struggle anxiously, but not despairingly. "Everything will come right, at last," he said. "My only fear is that we shall lose a little reputation first."

he watches the strife among the states

As time went on, however, he grew more anxious. "I think we have opposed Great Britain," he said, "and have arrived at the present state of peace and independency, to very little purpose, if we cannot conquer our own prejudices."


But Washington had no real need to fear. The men who had fought for their freedom proved themselves worthy of it, and in May, 1787, a meeting of all the states was called at Philadelphia.

Philadelphian Convention, 1787

Of this Convention, as it was called, Washington was chosen President. It was no easy post, nor was the business for which the members of the Convention were called together a simple business. They had, indeed, a very great task to perform, the task of forming a new constitution or mode of government, which all states would accept. It was not easy to please every one, and also do thoroughly good work. So for four months the Convention sat, discussing this and that, listening now to one side, now to another, weighing, judging and deciding.


But at length the thing was done. In the same hall where the Declaration of Independence had been signed the Constitution had been framed. Then the delegates went home and a copy of the Constitution was sent to each state.

The Constitution framed, 1787

It had been agreed that nine states must accept the Constitution before it could become law. The question now was whether nine would accept it or not. Many hesitated a long time. For it seemed to them that this new Constitution which was going to unite all the states into one was going also to give far too much power into the hands of a few people. It would be a case of tyranny over again, many feared. And, having suffered so much to free themselves from one tyranny, they were not ready to place themselves under a second.


But others at once saw the need of a strong central government and accepted the new Constitution whole-heartedly and almost at once. Delaware had the honour of coming first early in December, 1787, but before the month was gone two more states, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, followed the good example. A week or so later came Georgia and then Connecticut. After a good deal of hesitation Massachusetts also came into line; then Maryland and South Carolina.

Delaware first accepts the Constitution

Only one more state was now needed to make the union safe. Would that one state come in, the friends of union asked themselves, and they worked their hardest to make people think as they did.


At length their efforts were rewarded and New Hampshire made the ninth, and just four days later the great State of Virginia also came in. New York soon followed and only North Carolina and Rhode Island remained out of the Union. But in time they, too, came in, Rhode Island last of all, and not for fully a year after the first President had been chosen, and the government organised.

New Hampshire the 9th state to accept the Constitution

The new government required that there should be a Congress to look after the affairs of the nation, with two houses, something after the fashion of the British Parliament. It also required that there should be a President at the head of everything.


There was little doubt as to who should fill that place. George Washington, the man who had led the army to victory, was the man chosen to be first President of the United States.

George Washington first President of the United States, 1789;

Other people were indeed voted for, but Washington had more than twice as many votes as John Adams, who came next to him. The others were simply nowhere. So Washington was made President and Adams vice-president.


But Washington had no wish to be President. He was too old, he said (he was only fifty-seven) and besides he was not even a statesman but a soldier. The people, however, would not listen to him. "We cannot do without you," they said. "There is no use framing a new government if the best man is to be left out of it."


So to the entreaties of his friends Washington yielded. But it was with a heavy heart, for he greatly doubted his own powers.


"In confidence I tell you," he wrote to an old friend, "that my movement to the chair of government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution."


But whatever he felt, his journey to New York was not like that of a criminal, but rather like that of a king. From far and near the people crowded to see him pass. They raised triumphal arches, they scattered flowers at his feet, they sang chants and hymns in his honour. From first to last it was one long triumph. When he reached New York bells rang and cannon boomed, the streets were gay with flags, and crowded with people, and as he passed along cheer upon cheer thundered and echoed over the city.

his journey to New York;

Next day, the 30th of April, 1789, Washington took his place as President of the United States.


At nine o'clock in the morning the churches were thronged with people praying for the welfare of their President. By twelve these same people were all crowding to the Federal Hall eager to be present at the great ceremony. Soon the space in front of the hall was one closely packed mass of people; every window and balcony was crowded also, and people were even to be seen on the roofs.

his inauguration

A little after noon Washington reached the hall, and as he stepped out on to the balcony a cheer of welcome burst from the gathered thousands. Again and again they cheered, again and again Washington bowed in acknowledgement. He was greatly touched; tears stood in his eyes, and at length utterly overcome he sat down.


Suddenly a deep hush fell upon the swaying crowd and after a slight pause Washington rose again. Then in the grave silence the voice of Robert R. Livingston, the Chancellor of New York, could clearly be heard.


"Do you," he asked, "solemnly swear that you will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of your ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States?"


With his hand upon the Bible which the Secretary of the Senate held beside him Washington replied.


"I do solemnly swear," he said, "that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."


Then bowing his head he kissed the Bible held before him. "So help me God," he murmured.


The Chancellor then stepped forward and in a ringing voice he shouted, "Long live George Washington, President of the United States."


A great answering shout went up from the people, the flag was broken to the breeze, and cannon boomed forth a salute to the first President of the United States.


Again and again Washington bowed his thanks to the cheering people. Then, shaken with emotion, the shouts still sounding in his ears, he turned away and entered the hall to read his address.


Thus the Story of the United States under the Constitution was begun.


Washington was a thorough aristocrat and now that he had been chosen head of the State he felt that he must surround himself with a certain amount of ceremony. Now he no longer walked or rode abroad, but drove about in a fine coach drawn by six white horses. He no longer went to see people, but they came to him on certain days and at appointed times. When he held receptions he dressed himself splendidly in black velvet with silk stockings. He wore a jeweled sword at his side and buckles both at the knee and on his shoes. Instead of shaking hands with people he merely bowed.

Washington keeps great state

All this ceremony and state came easily to Washington. Even as a simple Virginian gentleman he had been used to a certain amount of it. For in those days plain gentlefolk were much more ceremonious than they are to-day. Besides, kings always surrounded themselves with a great deal of state, and it seemed to Washington that a ruler must do so to keep up the high dignity of his office.


The first President's post was no easy one. The whole machinery of government had to be invented and set going, and first and foremost the money matters had to be set straight.

The money matters

They were in a great muddle. The war had cost a great deal, so the new government began in debt and nearly every separate state was also in debt. But a clever man named Alexander Hamilton took hold of the money matters and soon put them right.

Alexander Hamilton, 1757-1804

Among other things he said that the government must take over the war debts of all the states. At once the states made an outcry. "If we allow the government to pay our debts," they said, "we become slaves to the government. If we give up control of our own money matters the government will have too much power over us. We put too much power in the hands of a few." Then they talked of tyranny.


You see many of the people of the United States rightly or wrongly had come to look upon any government as certain to be tyrannous. However, Hamilton got his way in the end. The money matters of the nation were settled satisfactorily, and the separate states bound more securely together.


And now another state joined the union, that of Vermont. Vermont, as you can see if you look on the map, lies between New Hampshire and New York, and there had been bitter disputes between the two over the land which both claimed. In 1765, however, King George III had decided that the land belonged to New York, and must be under the rule of that colony. The people, however, rebelled. And when in 1777 the Governor of New York threatened to drive them all into the Green Mountains if they did not yield peaceably they raised an army of volunteers to whom they gave the name of Green Mountain Boys. They took this name from the word Vermont which meant Green Mountain.

Vermont enters the Union, 1791

The Green Mountain Boys fought the New York Governor and declared Vermont a separate colony. Now these old quarrels were forgotten. New York no longer claimed the land, and Vermont joined the Union as the fourteenth state.

Green Mountain Boys

In the following year another state was added to the Union. This was the State of Kentucky. It was, like several other states, an offshoot of Virginia, and carved out of the territory which Virginia claimed by right of her old charter which gave her all the land between the Atlantic and the Pacific.

Kentucky enters the Union, 1792

Among the early settlers of Kentucky was a famous hunter named Daniel Boone. He was a gentle, kindly man who loved the forest and the loneliness of the wilderness. All the lore of the forest was his, he knew the haunts and habits of every living thing that moved within the woods. He could imitate the gobble of the turkey, or the chatter of a squirrel, and follow a trail better than any Indian. It was with no idea of helping to found a state, but rather from a wish to get far from the haunts of his fellowmen that he moved away into the beautiful wilds of Kentucky.

Daniel Boone, 1735-1820

In those days Kentucky was not inhabited by any tribe of Indians, but it was their hunting ground, and they were very angry when they saw white men come to settle there and spoil their hunting. So Boone had many fierce fights with Indians, and was more than once taken prisoner by them.


Many other settlers followed Boone, and after the Revolution many Virginians moved to Kentucky. These people soon became clamorous for separation from Virginia, and at last in 1792 Kentucky was received into the Union as a separate state.


And now the question of a suitable capital for the United States began to be thought of. The first Congress had met at New York, but it only remained there a short time. Then the seat of government was moved to Philadelphia. Philadelphia, however, was not considered a good place. So it was decided to build a new capital. The Northern States wanted it in the north, the Southern States wanted it in the south, but finally it was agreed upon to have it on the Potomac River almost in the middle, Virginia and Maryland offering the territory. Splendid plans were made, and the building was begun, but for the next ten years Philadelphia still remained the seat of government.

A capital for the Union

So four busy years went past, and the time of Washington's presidency drew to an end. He rejoiced to think that after his hard work for his country he could now go back to his peaceful home at Mount Vernon, and be at rest. But his friends would not let him go. The government of the United States was not yet firmly on its feet. Only he could make it firm, they said. The people loved him, and would be guided by him when they would not follow any one else, therefore he must stay.


At length Washington yielded to the entreaties of his friends and allowed himself to be elected President a second time.

Washington elected President a second time, 1793

And now there arose difficulties between the United States and their old friends, the French. For, while the Americans had been hammering away at their Constitution, and making a new nation out of raw material, the French had risen against the tyranny of their king, and had declared France a Republic. And when many of the European countries joined together to fight France, and force them to take back their king, the French people looked to the sister Republic across the Atlantic for help. They had helped the Americans in their struggle, surely now the Americans would help them. But the French went too far. They seemed to lose all sense of right and wrong, they put hundreds of people to death without cause and drowned France in blood.


So, many people who had wished them well at the beginning, turned from them, and although many people in America were ready to fight for the French, Washington determined to keep peace. He was not ungrateful to the French for their help in the American Revolution. But he felt that their wild orgy of blood was wrong, and he saw too, that America was too young a nation to plunge again into war. So he proclaimed the United States to be neutral, that is, that they would take part on neither side in the European War.

Proclamation of Neutrality, 1793

When the French heard that America refused to help them, they were greatly hurt. But worse was yet to follow, for Washington, besides refusing to fight for the French, made a treaty with the British, with whom the French were at war.


The War of Independence had left some bitterness between the old country and the new. And as time went on that bitterness increased rather than lessened. The United States felt that Britain hardly treated them with the respect due to an independent nation, and indeed some of Britain's actions were fairly high handed.

Difficulties between Britain and United States

During the war a great many Negroes had been carried off into Canada, and Britain would not pay for them. The boundaries between the United States and Canada were still in dispute. Britain made no effort to settle them, but kept possession of such forts as Oswego, Detroit, Niagara, and others. Then, because they were at war with France, the British interfered with, and almost ruined, American trade with the French West Indies. And lastly, what seemed to Americans the worst insult of all, they claimed the right of search. That is, they claimed the right of searching neutral vessels for British seamen and of taking them by force to serve in the British navy. In those early days it was difficult to distinguish an Englishmen from an American by his speech, and thus Americans were often seized and made to serve in the British navy. There were other grievances, but these were chief.


Taken altogether they made the Americans so angry that Washington feared another war, for which he knew the nation was not ready. He decided therefore to make a bid for peace, and sent John Jay to London to arrange matters between the two countries.


Jay did not find British statesmen in any yielding mood, and so the treaty which he arranged, and which goes by his name, was not altogether favourable to the Americans. There was, for instance, nothing in the treaty about paying for the slaves, nor about the right of search. But seeing that he could get no better terms Jay accepted those offered him. Undoubtedly America asked more than Britain could well give. Equally undoubtedly Britain gave less than America had a right to expect.

The Jay treaty, 1794

Washington was not satisfied with the treaty, but he felt that Jay had done his best. He felt, too, that it was either the treaty or war. So rather than have war he signed it.


When, however, the terms of it became known a cry of rage rang through the country. Those who had supported it were hooted at and stoned in the streets, John Jay was burned in effigy, the treaty itself was publicly burned. Even Washington, beloved as he was, did not escape. Taunts and insults were flung at him. He was called a tyrant and a traitor, but in spite of all the opposition Washington stood firm. He held to the treaty, and peace with the old country was kept.


The storm was bitter while it lasted, but at length it died down and the men who had flung insults at Washington saw in time that he had been right. He had kept peace; and as a young nation America stood in need of peace more than anything else.


Washington's second term of office now came to an end. He was utterly weary of public life, and he resolutely refused to stand for President again. It was nearly forty years, now, since he had first begun to work for his country. He felt that his work was done, and all he wanted now was to spend his last days quietly in his beloved home, Mount Vernon.

Washington retires, 1797

This time Washington had his way and laid down his office. Then, as second President, the people chose John Adams, who had already been Vice-President.

John Adams elected President


THE crowd which gathered to see John Adams take the oath was almost as great as that which had gathered when Washington had first been made President.


But it was upon the old and not upon the new President that all eyes were turned. And when the ceremony was over the people seemed still loath to part from their beloved President, and a great crowd followed him in silence to his home. At the door, before entering, he turned, and with tears running down his cheeks he signed a last farewell to his people. So for a long silent moment he stood upon the doorstep, then he entered the house, and as the door closed upon him a great sob broke from the crowd.


Thus the people took a last farewell of their great and beloved leader.


Almost as soon as John Adams became President in 1797 he found himself plunged into trouble with France. For the Jay Treaty had made the French people very angry. They refused to receive Charles C. Pinckney, who was sent as ambassador, and he had to flee to Holland for refuge. The Americans were very angry at this treatment of their minister and talked of war. But Adams was anxious to keep peace. So he sent two more ambassadors to France and with them Pinckney returned also.

Trouble with France, 1797

But the French received the three ambassadors with little more courtesy than they had received the one.


They now began to demand all sorts of things from the United States; they demanded, among other things, that the Americans should pay them a large sum of money as a bribe. They demanded a large loan also. If they refused, why, then let the Americans beware. With these demands and threats the ambassadors were obliged to leave France. But they were not going to be bullied. So to the French threats they replied by building ships, raising an army, and buying cannon. Everywhere, too, patriotic songs were written and sung, one of them being, "Hail Columbia," by Joseph Hopkinson.


Once more George Washington was asked to become commander-in-chief in 1798, and with a heavy heart he consented. He did not want to leave his quiet home for the horrors and clamour of the battlefield. Still less did he want to fight against his old friends. But at his country's call he rose.

Washington again commander-in-chief, 1798

The French, however, were not really anxious to fight the United States. They merely wanted to get money from them, and when they saw the spirit of the nation, they changed their tune and did everything they could to keep peace between the two countries. But the Americans were now so angry with the French that they were determined to fight them. "War with France!" was everywhere the cry.


John Adams, however, like Washington, was determined if possible to keep peace. So without asking any one's advice he sent another friendly mission to France, and the quarrel was quietly settled. Thus peace was kept, but the people were angry with Adams. They declared that he had all sorts of mean reasons for his action. He was sure he had done right. "When I am dead," he said, "write on my tomb, 'Here lies John Adams, who took upon himself the responsibility of peace with France.'" He felt that he could have no better epitaph.

Adams makes peace with France

While Adams was President another state was added to the Union. This was Tennessee, which was an offshoot from North Carolina.

Tennessee enters the Union, 1796

For several years Tennessee passed through troublous times. For a few years, indeed, the state was set up as a separate republic, under the name of Franklin. This name was given to it in honour of Benjamin Franklin, the great statesman. But some of the people wanted it called Frankland or Freeland so it was known by both names.


The inhabitants of Franklin now chose a Governor, instituted a Senate and a House of Commons, and made laws for themselves. But very soon this government collapsed, and after a few more troublous years the state entered the Union under the name of Tennessee.


All this time men had been busy building the new capital and toward the end of 1800 the government was removed there. Washington, the great Father of his Country, had just died and it was determined to call the new city by his name.

Government removes to Washington, 1800

But when the government arrived at Washington they found the city little more than a wilderness. Only a part of the Capitol was built, and around it there was nothing but desolation. There were neither streets, nor shops, neither business nor society.


The President's house was set down in the midst of an uncultivated field, and beyond that and the unfinished Capitol there were but a few scattered houses and one hotel. Many people were disgusted with the new capital, and it was given all sorts of names, such as the "Capital of Miserable Huts," "The Wilderness City," or the "Mud-hole." Every now and again one or other of the members of Congress would suggest that the capital should be removed elsewhere, but there were always some determined to stay. And at length by slow degrees the city grew into one of the beautiful capitals of the world.



ADAMS was an honest and patriotic man, but he never won the love of the people as Washington had done. And when in 1801 his term of office came to an end he went back to his country home. There he spent the rest of his life as a simple citizen.


Thomas Jefferson was the next President–the first to be inaugurated in the new capital. He had been Vice-President with Adams, and was already well known in politics. It was he who wrote the Declaration of Independence, and he was in every way one of the greatest statesmen of his time. He was a lanky, sweet-tempered, sandy coloured man. He wore badly fitting clothes, and hated ceremony of all kinds. He was quite determined not to have any fuss over his inauguration, so dressed as plainly as possible, he rode to the Capitol by himself, tied his horse to the palings and walked into the Senate Chamber alone, just like any ordinary man.

Jefferson first President inaugurated in Washington

This lack of ceremony he kept up throughout all the time he was President. Indeed he sometimes overdid it and offended people. Once the British Minister was to be presented to him and went dressed in his grandest uniform. But to his disgust he found Jefferson in the very shabbiest of clothes, and slippers down at the heel. So the good gentleman went away feeling that the President of the United States had meant to insult not merely himself but the King he represented.


It was while Jefferson was President that Ohio joined the Union as the seventeenth state. For a long time there had been a few squatters on the land. But it was only after the Revolution that it really began to be inhabited by white men.

Ohio joins the Union, 1803

In 1788 about fifty men led by Rufus Putnam, "the Father of Ohio," settled there. They founded a town and called it Marietta in honour of Maria Antoinette, the French Queen. Others followed, and soon villages were sprinkled all along the north bank of the Ohio River.


Then some years later Moses Cleaveland founded the town of Cleveland on the shores of Lake Erie. But all along the banks of the Ohio Indians lived. And they would not let the white men settle on their land without protest. So the new settlers were constantly harassed and in danger of their lives, and many murders were committed.


At length it was decided that this must cease. And as the Indians would listen to no argument General St. Clair with an army of eighteen hundred men marched against them. He did not know the country, and he had no guide. Late one evening in November he encamped in the woods. At dawn the next day he was awakened by the blood-curdling cry of the Indians. The men sprang to arms, but in the night the Indians had completely surrounded them, and the fight was hopeless. For four hours the slaughter lasted; then the white men fled, leaving half their number dead upon the field.

General St. Clair's defeat, 1791

It was one of the worst defeats white men ever suffered at the hands of the Indians. The whole countryside was filled with horror and the Redmen exulted in their victory. The President tried to reason with them, but they would not listen. The only thing that would satisfy them was that the white men should withdraw beyond the Ohio.


This the white men refused to do, and they sent another large force against the Indians. This time the force was under the command of General Wayne. In a great battle he utterly defeated the Indians. Afterwards he held a grand council with them. And they, knowing themselves defeated, swore peace forevermore with the white men, and acknowledged their right to the land beyond the Ohio.

General Anthony Wayne's victory, 1794

This was the first great council that the Indians had ever held with the "thirteen fires" of the United States. They kept their treaty faithfully, and not one of the chiefs who swore peace to General Wayne ever again lifted the war hatchet against the Pale-faces.


And now that peace with the Indians was secure, many settlers flocked into the country, and in 1803 Ohio was received into the Union as the seventeenth state.


But the most interesting and important thing which happened during Jefferson's time of office was the Louisiana Purchase. By this a vast territory was added to the United States.

The Louisiana Purchase, 1803

You remember that at the Peace of Paris after the British had conquered Canada, the French gave up to Spain all their claims to the great tract of land beyond the Mississippi called Louisiana. When France gave up that vast territory to Spain she was weak. But now again she was strong–far stronger than Spain–for the great soldier Napoleon Bonaparte had risen to power. He now looked with longing eyes on the lost province of Louisiana, and by a secret treaty he forced the King of Spain to give back Louisiana to France.


As soon as this treaty was made known there was great excitement in the United States. For if France planted colonies all along the Mississippi the Americans would be shut out from the West, they might even be shut off from the Mississippi, and unable to use it for trade. And to the states bordering upon it this would have been a great misfortune. For in days when there were few roads, and no railways, the Mississippi was the only trade route for the Western States.

The Mississippi a great trade route

Having weighed these matters seriously Jefferson determined if possible to buy New Orleans from the French, and thus make sure of a passage up and down the great river. And he sent James Monroe to Paris to arrange this.

James Monroe sent to Paris

A few months earlier nothing would have induced Napoleon to sell any part of Louisiana, for he dreamed of again founding a New France across the Atlantic. But now war threatened with Britain. He did not love the United States, but he hated Britain. He would rather, he thought, crush Britain than found a New France. To crush Britain, however, he must have money, and the great idea came to him that he could make money out of Louisiana by selling it to the Americans. So he offered it to them for twenty million dollars.


The Americans, however, would not pay so much, and at length after some bargaining the price of fifteen million dollars was agreed upon, and the whole of Louisiana passed to the American Government, and the territory of the United States was made larger by more than a million square miles.


"We may live long," said Livingston, who with Monroe had carried the business through, "we may live long, but this is the noblest work of our lives. It will change vast solitudes into smiling country."


And indeed, after the Revolution, and the great Civil War which was to come later, the Louisiana Purchase is the greatest event in American History.

Three greatest events in the History of the United States

As to Napoleon, he was well pleased with his bargain. For besides getting money to help him in his wars he believed that he had made the United States powerful enough to fight and conquer Britain. And as he hated Britain the idea pleased him. "This increase of territory," he said, "assures the power of the United States for all time. And I have given England a rival which sooner or later will abase her pride."


As a matter of fact, however, Napoleon had really no right to sell Louisiana. For in his treaty with Spain he had promised not to yield it to any foreign government. And when the Spaniards knew what he had done they were very angry. But Napoleon did not care; he did as he liked.


The flag of Spain had been hauled down, and the flag of France run up with great ceremony. But not for long did the French flag float over New Orleans. In less than three weeks it was hauled down and with firing of cannon and ringing of bells the Stars and Stripes was hoisted.



VERY little was known of this vast territory which was thus added to the United States. For the most part it was pathless wilderness where no white man had ever set foot. Long before the Louisiana Purchase Jefferson had wanted to send out an exploring party into this unknown west. Now he was more anxious for it than ever. And at length he succeeded in getting an expedition sent out.

Louisiana an unknown land

The leaders of this expedition were two young officers, Captain Merriwether Lewis and William Clark. From their names the expedition is usually known as the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Lewis and Clark expedition

They made very careful preparations and in 1804 they set out with about twenty-seven men to explore the river Missouri.


Some years before this a United States Captain, Robert Grey, had discovered a great river in the west coast of America and called it the Columbia, after the name of his ship. And now what Lewis and Clark had set out to do was to reach that river from the east.


It is impossible to tell here of all their thrilling adventures, for they would fill a whole book. I can only give you the merest outline. But some day you will no doubt read the whole story as Lewis and Clark tell it themselves.


The expedition started from the mouth of the Missouri, and at first the explorers passed by the scattered farms and little villages where white men lived. But these were the farthest outposts of civilisation; soon they were left behind, and the little band of white men were in a land inhabited only by Redskins. The current was so swift and the wind so often in the wrong direction that sails were almost useless, and the boats were rowed, punted and towed upstream with a great deal of hard labour. Some of the travellers went in the boats, others rode or walked along the bank. These last did the hunting and kept the expedition supplied with meat.


One of the leaders always went with those on shore. For it was often difficult for the two parties to keep together. Sometimes the river wound about, and those on land could take a short cut, while at other times those on land had to make a wide circuit to avoid marshes or steep precipices. The river was full of fish, and the land swarmed with game. Antelopes, deer, black bear, turkeys, geese, ducks, in fact all sorts of birds and beasts were abundant. There were also great quantities of delicious wild grapes as well as plums, currants and other fruits; so the travellers had no lack of food.


They met many tribes of Indians and they nearly all seemed friendly, for both Lewis and Clark knew well how to treat Indians. When they came into their land they called the chiefs together to a council, and made them a speech telling them that the land was no longer Spanish but American. The Indians would pretend to be pleased at the change, but really they understood nothing about it. But they liked the medals and other trinkets which the white men gave them. And most of them were very anxious to have some of the "Great Father's Milk" by which they meant whiskey. But one tribe refused it.

Lewis and Clark make treaties with the Indians

"We marvel," they said, "that our brothers should give us drink which will make us fools. No man can be our friend who would lead us into such folly."


Until the end of October the expedition kept on, always following the course of the Missouri, north-west. But the weather now became very cold; ice began to form on the river, and the explorers determined to camp for the winter. Not far from what is now the town of Bismarck, North Dakota, they built themselves a little village of log huts and called it Fort Mandan, for the country belonged to the Mandan Indians.

They camp for the winter

Here they met both French and British fur traders, who in spite of the bitter weather came from Assiniboia, about a hundred and fifty miles north, to trade for furs with the Indians.


The weather was bitterly cold, but the men were fairly comfortable in their log huts, and they had plenty to do. They went upon hunting expeditions to get food, they built boats, and they set up a forge. This last greatly interested the Indians who brought their axes and kettles to be mended, and in return gave the white men grain. Soon the smith was the busiest man in the whole company, the bellows particularly interesting the Redmen.


Indeed everything about the white strangers was so interesting to the Indians that they were nearly always in their huts. On Christmas Day the travellers only got rid of their inquisitive visitors by telling them that it was a great medicine day with the white people, when no strangers were allowed near them, and they must keep away.


The travellers stayed at Fort Mandan till the beginning of April; then the ice being melted on the river they set out again.

They set out again

Game now became more than ever plentiful, and they had several encounters with huge grizzly bears. The Indians had told the explorers terrible stories about these bears. They themselves had such great respect for them that they never went out to hunt them without putting on their war paint, and making as great preparations as if they were going to fight some enemy tribe.


The white men too soon came to have a great respect for them. "I find," wrote Lewis, in his journal, "that the curiosity of our party is pretty well satisfied with respect to this animal. He has staggered the resolution of several of them."


Later on he added, "I must confess that I do not like the gentlemen, and had rather fight two Indians than one bear."


One day Lewis was on shore, and seeing a herd of buffalo shot one for supper. After it fell he stood looking at it, and forgot to load his rifle again. While standing thus he suddenly saw a large bear creeping towards him. Instantly he lifted his rifle, but remembered in a flash that it was not loaded. He had no time to load, so he thought the best thing he could do was to walk away as fast as he could.

Chased by a grizzly

It was in an open plain with not a bush or tree near; and as Lewis retreated the bear ran open-mouthed at full speed after him. Lewis took to his heels and fled. But the bear ran so fast that Lewis soon saw that it would be impossible to escape, for the bear was gaining fast upon him. Then suddenly it flashed across his mind that if he jumped into the river he might escape. So turning short he leaped into the water. Then facing about he pointed his halberd at the bear. Seeing this the bear suddenly stopped on the bank not twenty feet away. Then as if he were frightened he turned tail and ran away as fast as he had come.


Lewis was glad enough to escape so easily, and he made up his mind that never again would he allow his rifle to be unloaded even for a moment.


Other dangers, too, beset the travellers. One day Lewis and his companions were following the boats along the bluffs which rose high above the water's edge. The ground was so slippery that they could only with difficulty keep their feet. Once Lewis slipped and only saved himself by means of the pike which he carried from being hurled into the river a hundred feet below. He had just reached a spot where he could stand fairly safely when he heard a voice behind him cry out: "Good God! Captain, what shall I do?"

A dangerous walk

He turned instantly and saw that one of his men who had lost his foothold had slipped down to the very edge of the precipice and was now hanging half over it. One leg and arm were over, and with the other he clung frantically to the edge of the cliff.


Lewis saw at once that the man was in great danger of falling and being dashed to pieces below. But he hid his fear.


"You are in no danger," he said in a calm voice. Then he told the man to take his knife out of his belt and dig a hole in the side of the cliff for his right foot. The man, steadied by his leader's calm voice, did as he was told and in a few minutes was able to drag himself up to the top of the cliff. Then on his hands and knees he crawled along till he was again in safety.


After two months the travellers reached the great falls of the Missouri River. Here they had to leave the water, and carry their boats overland until they arrived above the rapids. It was no easy matter and they were all by this time worn and weary. So they camped for a few days, and made a rough sort of cart on which to carry the boats. For they were too worn out to carry them on their shoulders. But the way was so rough that long before the end of the journey the cart broke down.

The rapids are reached

Then began a most painful march. The country was covered with prickly pear, and the thorns of it pierced the men's moccasins and wounded their feet. The sun was so hot that they had to rest every few minutes, and they were so tired that they fell asleep at every stopping place. Yet there were no grumblers, and in spite of the many hardships they went on cheerfully, and after ten days' hard work they were above the rapids.


They were now right among the Rocky Mountains. These they crossed, and after many more adventures, dangers and hardships at last–on the 8th of November–they arrived within sight of the Pacific.

The Pacific in sight

"Great joy in the camp," wrote Lewis. "We are in view of the ocean, this great Pacific Ocean, which we have been so long anxious to see."


Having at length reached the Columbia River the travellers sailed down it to its mouth, and so reached the shores of the Pacific and the end of their journey.


They spent the winter on the Pacific coast and towards the end of March set out again on their homeward way. The return journey was almost as full of hardships and dangers as the outward one had been. But all were safely overcome and on the 20th of September the explorers arrived once more at St. Louis whence they had set out more than two years before.

They return home

Every one was delighted to see them back. They were also surprised, for the whole expedition had long ago been given up as lost. But far from being lost every man of them returned except one who had died not long after they had left St. Louis.


Since they set out, these bold adventurers had marched nine thousand miles over barren deserts, across snow-topped mountains, through wildernesses yet untrodden by the foot of any white man. They had passed among savage and unknown tribes, and kept peace with them. They had braved a thousand dangers, and had returned triumphant over them all. The great journey from sea to sea had been accomplished, and the door into the Far West opened.

The door into the Far West opened

Other travellers and explorers trod fast upon the heels of Lewis and Clark. Hunters, and fur-traders, and settlers followed them, and bit by bit the West became known and peopled. But in the story of that growth the names of Merriwether Lewis and William Clark will always be first, for it was they who threw open the door into the Far West.



WHEN Jefferson had been chosen President, another man named Aaron Burr had run him very close. And, when the final choice fell on Jefferson, Aaron Burr became Vice-President. He was much disappointed at not becoming President, and a few years later he tried to be elected Governor of New York. But again, someone else was chosen, and Burr was again very much disappointed, and he began to blame Alexander Hamilton, who for many years had been his constant rival, for all his failure. So he challenged Hamilton to fight a duel.

Aaron Burr, 1756-1836;

he challenges Hamilton to fight, 1804;

In those days, duels were still common, for people had not come to see that they were both wicked and foolish. Hamilton did not want to fight, but he knew people would call him coward if he did not. He was not brave enough to stand that. So he fought.


Early one July morning in 1804, the two men met. Burr took steady aim and fired, Hamilton, firing wildly into the air, fell forward dying.


Hamilton had been selfish and autocratic, and many people disliked him. Now when they heard of his death, they forgot that. They only remembered how much the nation owed to the man who had put their money matters right. The whole country rose in anger against Burr, and called him a murderer.


Seeing the outcry against him becoming so great, Burr fled to Philadelphia. But even there, people looked at him askance, so he decided to go for a tour in the West.

he goes for a tour in the West;

His travels took him to Marietta, Ohio, the little town which had been founded by Rufus Putnam; then to Cincinnati and Louisville, and so southward till he reached New Orleans.


There he began to have secret meetings with all the chief men, for Burr was now full of a great idea.


He had failed to get into power in the United States, and his failure had made him bitter. He had killed the man who he thought was his greatest enemy. And that, instead of helping him, had caused the people to cast him out altogether. Now he determined to own an empire for himself, and have nothing more to do with the United States. He had in fact made up his mind to divide the West from the East, and make himself Emperor of the West under the title of Aaron I. The Empire was to be kept in the family, and his beautiful daughter Theodosia was to be Queen after him; but it was gravely debated whether her husband could take the title of King or not.

he decides to make himself Emperor;

The mad scheme grew daily. Burr's plan was suddenly to seize both President and Vice-President. Then having the heads of government in his power he would next lay hands on the public money and the navy. He would take what ships he wanted, burn the rest, and, sailing to New Orleans, he would proclaim his empire. But Burr dare not let every one know his real intentions, and so he gave out that he meant to lead an expedition against Mexico.


As time went on hundreds of people knew of his conspiracy. It was talked of everywhere. But Jefferson paid no heed. He did not believe that Burr meant any treason against the Union. So the conspirators went on building boats, and arming men, undisturbed.


But things did not go so smoothly as Burr had hoped. He had expected to get help from Britain, and he got none. He had expected help from Spain, and he got none. Still he went on with his scheming. He had even written out his Declaration of Independence it was said, when suddenly the end came. One of Burr's friends betrayed him and at length President Jefferson woke up to what was going on.


At once he issued a proclamation declaring that a conspiracy against Spain was being carried on, and commanding all officers of the United States to seize the persons engaged in the plot. No name was mentioned in the proclamation, but Burr knew his plot was discovered. Once more he had failed; and he fled. He changed clothes with a boatman on the Mississippi, and vanished into the forest.

his plot is discovered, 1807;

he flees;

For a month no one knew where he was, for beneath the battered white felt and homespun clothes of a river boatman no one recognised the dapper politician.


Meanwhile Burr was slowly making his way east hoping to reach the coast, and get away in some ship. He had still many friends, and one night he stopped at a cottage to ask his way to the house of one of these friends. In the cottage were two young men. One of them, named Perkins, looked keenly at the stranger. It seemed to him that his face and clothes were not in keeping, and his boots looked to smart for the rest of his get up.


After the stranger had gone he still thought about it. Then suddenly he said, "That was Aaron Burr. Let us go after him and arrest him."


The other man, however, laughed at him, and refused to stir. So Perkins went off alone to find the sheriff, and soon the two were riding posthaste after the stranger.


When they reached the house to which Burr had asked the way, Perkins stayed outside with the horses, and the sheriff went into the house. He was going to arrest a bold bad man, and it would be a great feather in his cap. So in he marched feeling very firm and grand, expecting to find a terrible ruffian of a fellow. But instead of a terrible ruffian the sheriff found a pleasant, delightful gentleman, and a brilliant talker. So the poor sheriff's heart failed him. He really could not arrest this charming gentleman, and instead he stayed to hear him talk.


Meanwhile out in the cold Perkins waited with the horses, and as the hours went past and the sheriff did not return he guessed what had happened. But he was not going to be done out of his capture. So he went off to the captain of the fort, and told him of his discovery. The captain was not so easily charmed as the sheriff, and before the next evening Burr found himself a prisoner in the fort.

he is taken prisoner;

There he remained for about three weeks; then he was sent to Richmond, Virginia, to be tried.


It was a journey of about a thousand miles, and in those days there were of course no railways and even few roads. A great part of the way led through pathless forest and wilderness, and the whole journey had to be done on horseback. But Perkins undertook to see the thing through, and with a guard of nine men they set off.


It was a toilsome march. They had to carry food with them, and as often as not had to sleep in the open air. They swam their horses over rivers, and picked their way through swamps, while hostile Indians hung about their track. Every day was the same, but still day after day they pushed on.


Once Burr tried to escape. They were riding through a small town in South Carolina where he knew that he had many friends. So suddenly he leapt from his horse crying out, "I am Aaron Burr, a prisoner. I claim your protection."

he tries to escape;

But as quick as lightning Perkins was off his horse too, and with a pistol in either hand he stood before Burr.


"Mount," he said; "get up."


The two men glared at each other.


"I will not," replied Burr defiantly, heedless of the pistols.


Perkins had no wish to shed blood. Burr was not a very big man. For an instant Perkins measured him with his eye. Then throwing his pistols down, without a word he seized his prisoner, and lifted him into his saddle, as if he had been a child. And almost before the townspeople had realised what had happened the company was well on its way again.


The trial was long and exciting. Most people believed Burr guilty of treason, but it was difficult to prove. So in the end he was set free.

he is tried and set free;

The American people, however, would have nothing more to do with him. The law might say he was innocent, but nevertheless they felt he was a traitor. So he was hunted and hounded from place to place, and at length changing his name he slipped on board a ship and sailed for Europe.

he goes to Europe;

But even there he found no peace. He was turned out of England, and looked upon with suspicion in France. He was often penniless and in want, and after four years of unhappy wandering he returned home.

returns to America, 1812;

He found that he and his misdeeds were well nigh forgotten. No one took any notice of him. So taking no more part in public life he quietly settled down in New York.


Under all the blows of fortune Burr never bowed his head. For although every one else might think him a traitor his beautiful daughter Theodosia believed in him and loved him. He as passionately loved her, and in all his wanderings he carried her portrait with him.


But now the worst misfortunes of his life overtook him. For a few weeks after he landed in America, Theodosia wrote to tell him that her little boy had died. This was a great grief to Burr, for he loved his grandson only a little less than his daughter.


The worst was still to come, however. Theodosia set out from Carolina to visit her father. But the ship in which she sailed never came to port. It was never heard of again, and all on board were lost.

his daughter is drowned

Now at length Burr's head was bowed. Life held nothing more for him, and he cared no longer to live. But death passed him by. So for more than twenty years he lived, a lonely forsaken old man. He was eighty years old when he died.



JEFFERSON was twice chosen President. He might, had he wished, have been elected a third time. But like Washington he refused he refused to stand. And as those two great presidents refused to be elected a third time it has become a kind of unwritten law in the United States that no man shall be president longer than eight years.


The next president to be elected was James Madison, who had been Jefferson's secretary and friend. He was a little man always carefully and elegantly dressed. He was kindly natured and learned, and, like Jefferson, he loved peace. He soon, however, found himself and his country at war.


Ever since the Indians had been defeated by General Wayne they had been at peace. But now they again became restless. It was for the old cause. They saw the white people spreading more and more over their land, they saw themselves being driven further and further from their hunting grounds, and their sleeping hatred of the Pale-faces awoke again.

Indian War once more

And now a great chief rose to power among the Indians. He was called Tecumseh or Shooting Star. He was tall, straight and handsome, a great warrior and splendid speaker.


Tecumseh's desire was to unite all the Indians into one great nation, and drive the Pale-faces out of the land. In this he was joined by his brother Tenskwatawa or the Open Door. He took this name because, he said, he was the Open Door through which all might learn of the Great Spirit. He soon came to be looked upon as a very great Medicine Man and prophet, and is generally called the Prophet.

The Prophet

Much that the Prophet taught to the people was good. He told them that they ought to give up fighting each other, and join together into one nation, that they ought to till the ground and sow corn; and above all that they should have nothing to do with "fire water." "It is not made for you," he said, "but for the white people who alone know how to use it. It is the cause of all the mischief which the Indians suffer."


The Prophet also told the Indians that they had no right to sell their land, for the Great Spirit had given it to them. And so great was the Prophet's influence that he was able to build a town where the Indians lived peacefully tilling the ground, and where no "fire water" was drunk.

Indian town of Tippecanoe

Now about this time General Harrison, the Governor of the Territory of Indiana, wanted more land. So in 1809 he made a treaty with some of the Indians and persuaded them to sign away their lands to him. When Tecumseh heard of it he was very angry. He declared that the treaty was no treaty, and that no land could be given to the white people unless all the tribes agreed to it.

General Harrison's Treaty, 1809

The Governor tried to reason with Tecumseh, but it was of no avail. And as time went on it was more and more plain that the Indians were preparing for war.


Tecumseh traveled about rousing tribe after tribe. "Let the white race perish," he cried. "They seize our land, they trample on our dead. Back! whence they came upon a trail of blood they must be driven! Back! back into the great water whose accursed waves brought them to our shores! Burn their dwellings! Destroy their stock! Slay their wives and children! To the Redman belongs the country and the Pale-face must never enjoy it. War now! War for ever! War upon the living. War upon the dead. Dig their very corpses from their graves. Our country must give no rest to a white man's bones. All the tribes of the North are dancing in the war dance."

Tecumseh's speech

After speeches like these there could be little doubt left that Tecumseh meant to begin a great war as soon as he was ready. And as time went on the settlers began to be more and more anxious, for murders became frequent, horses and cattle were stolen, and there seemed no safety anywhere.


The Governor sent messages to the various tribes saying that these murders and thefts must cease, and telling them that if they raised the tomahawk against their white fathers they need expect no mercy.

Harrison sends messages to the Indians;

The Prophet sent back a message of peace. But the outrages still went on, and through friendly Indians the Governor learned that the Prophet was constantly urging the Indians to war.


So the Governor determined to give him war, and with nearly a thousand men he marched to Tippecanoe, the Prophet's village. Tecumseh was not there at the time, but as the Governor drew near the Prophet sent him a message saying that they meant nothing but peace, and asking for a council next day.

he marches against them, 1811;

To this General Harrison agreed. But well knowing the treachery of the Indians he would not allow his men to disarm, and they slept that night fully dressed, and with their arms beside them ready for an attack.


The Governor's fears were well founded. For the day had not yet dawned when suddenly a shot was heard, and a frightful Indian yell broke the stillness.

the attack

In a minute every man was on his feet, and none too soon, for the Indians were upon them. There was a desperate fight in the grey light of dawn. The Indians fought more fiercely than ever before, and while the battle raged the Prophet stood on a hill near, chanting a war song, and urging his men on.


Every now and again messengers came to him with news of the battle. And when he was told that his braves were falling fast before the guns of the white men he bade them still fight on.


"The Great Spirit will give us victory," he said; "the Pale-faces will flee."


But the Pale-faces did not flee. And when daylight came they charged the Indians, and scattered them in flight. They fled to the forest, leaving the town deserted. So the Americans burned it, and marched away.


When Tecumseh heard of this battle he was so angry that he seized his brother by the hair of his head and shook him till his teeth rattled. For the Prophet had begun to fight before his plans were complete, and instead of being victorious had been defeated. And Tecumseh felt that now he would never be able to unite all the tribes into one great nation as he had dreamed of doing. The braves too were angry with the Prophet because he had not led them to victory as he had sworn to do. They ceased to believe in him, and after the battle of Tippecanoe the Prophet lost his power over the Indians.

Tecumseh's anger


MEANWHILE in Europe a terrible war between France and Britain was raging. And the effects of this war were being felt in America. For in order to crush Britain Napoleon declared that the British Isles were in a state of blockade, and forbade any country to trade with Great Britain. In reply the British declared France to be in a state of blockade, and forbade any country to trade with France.

The Berlin Decree, 1806, and the Orders in Council,1807

These decrees and others of the same sort hit American trade very hard, and under them the American people began to be restive. Then, added to this, the British still claimed the right to search American vessels for deserters from the British navy. And very often American citizens were carried off and made to serve in the British navy. This right of search perhaps annoyed the Americans even more than the Berlin Decree or the Orders in Council, as the French and British decrees were called, and at length many of them became eager for war.

The right of search

Napoleon was doing even worse things than the British. But in spite of a good deal of friction France was still looked upon as a friend, while the bitterness against Britain had not yet been forgotten. Then too it was easier to fight Britain than France. For to fight France it would have been necessary to send an army across the sea, while to fight Britain it was only necessary to march into Canada. A good many of the Americans were rather pleased with that idea, hoping that they might conquer Canada and add it to the States.


But Madison hated war and loved peace almost as much as Jefferson who had said "our passion is for peace." But many of the older men who had helped to found the Republic and laboured to keep it at peace had now gone. In their place there had risen some eager young men who earned for themselves the name of War Democrats. They overpersuaded Madison, and on June 18th, 1812, war with Great Britain was declared.


As soon as war was declared Tecumseh, with all the braves he could command, immediately went over to the British side. The British at this time had a very clever General named Brock, and for some time things went ill for the Americans on land.


But on the sea they had much better success. The first great fight was between the American ship Constitution and the British ship Guerričre. The Guerričre was a good deal smaller than the Constitution, but the British captain was so certain that any British ship, no matter how small, could beat any American one, no matter how large, that he cared nothing for that.

The Constitution and the Guerričre

It was afternoon when the two ships came in sight of each other, and immediately prepared for a fight. Nearer and nearer they came to each other, but not until they were scarce fifty yards apart did the Constitution open fire. Then it was deadly. The mizzen mast of the Guerričre was shot away; very soon the main mast followed, and in less than half an hour the Guerričre was a hopeless wreck. Then the British captain struck his flag and surrendered.


The Constitution was scarcely hurt, and after this she got the name of Old Ironsides. She sailed the seas for many a long day, and is now kept as a national memorial in the navy yard at Portsmouth, Mass.


The loss of one ship was as nothing to the great sea power of Britain. But it cheered the Americans greatly, and it was the beginning of many like successes. So this way and that, both on land and sea, fortune swayed, now one side winning, now the other.


At the battle of Queenstown, a city in Canada, on the Niagara River, the British won the victory, but lost their great leader Brock, so that victory was too dearly bought.

Queenstown, 1812

Yet still the British continued to win, and after one battle the Indians began to torture and slay the American prisoners. The British general did not know how to curb the fiery Redmen, and he let the horrid massacre go on. But when Tecumseh heard of it he was filled with wrath and grief.


With a wild shout of anger he dashed in among the Indians. Two Indians who were about to kill an American he seized by the throat and threw to the ground. Then, brandishing his tomahawk furiously, he swore to brain any Indian who dared to touch another prisoner. And such was the power that this chief had over his savage followers that they obeyed him at once.


Then Tecumseh turned to the British leader. "Why did you permit it?" he asked.


"Sir," replied General Proctor, "your Indians cannot be commanded."


Tecumseh looked at him in utter scorn. "Begone," he said; "you are not fit to command. Go and put on petticoats."


Things went so badly for the Americans that instead of conquering Canada it seemed almost as if they were in danger of losing some of their own territory. For the British had over-run the great peninsula of Michigan and had command of Lake Erie. The Americans, however, determined to get control of Lake Erie. They had no ships there. But that did not daunt them in the least. There was plenty of timber growing in the forest and out of timber ships could be made. So they felled trees, they brought sails and cordage from New York and Philadelphia in wagons and sledges, and worked so fast and well that very soon ten splendid vessels were ready.

A fleet built;

Meanwhile the British commander watched the work and determined to pounce upon the ships as they were being launched. But just for one day he forgot to be watchful. The Americans seized the opportunity, and the ships sailed out on to the lake in safety. The squadron was under the command of a clever young officer named Oliver Hazard Perry. He was only twenty-eight, and although he had served in the navy for fourteen years he had never taken part in a battle. His men were for the most part landsmen, unused alike to war and ships. But while the ships were building Perry drilled his men untiringly. So when the fleet was launched they were both good marksmen and seamen.

and launched

It was a bright September day when the great battle took place between the British and American fleets. Much of the British fire was directed at the American flag-ship named the Lawrence, and soon nearly all her men were killed, and the ship seemed about to sink.

The battle of Lake Erie, Sept. 10, 1813

But Perry was not beaten. Wrapping his flag about his arm, with his few remaining men he jumped into the boats, and rowed to another ship called the Niagara.


Soon after this, two of the British ships got entangled with each other. The Americans at once took advantage of the confusion and swept the British ships from end to end with a terrible fire.


For half an hour longer the fight went on. Then the British Commander struck his flag. For the first time in history Great Britain surrendered a whole squadron, and that to a young man of twenty-eight with little experience of warfare.


Perry at once sent a message to headquarters to tell of his victory. It was short and to the point. "We have met the enemy, and they are ours," was all he said.

Perry's despatch

This great victory gave the Americans control of the Lakes and made many of the British victories on land useless. Perry's fleet was now used to land soldiers in Canada and General Proctor began to retreat.


At this Tecumseh was disgusted. "You always told us," he said to the British leader, "that you would never draw your foot off British ground. But now, father, we see that you are drawing back. And we are sorry to see our father doing so without seeing the enemy. We must compare our father's conduct to a fat dog that carries its tail erect till it is frightened, and then drops it between its legs and runs away."


But General Proctor would not listen. He continued to run away. At length, however, the Americans overtook him, and he had to fight.


In this battle the British were defeated and brave Tecumseh was killed. It is not quite known when or by whom he was killed. But when the Indians saw their leader was no longer among them they had no more heart to fight. "Tecumseh fell and we all ran," said one of his braves afterwards. Thus the power of these Indians was broken for ever.

Battle of the Thames, Oct. 5, 1813

The war still went on, and it was fought not only in the North but all along the coasts and in the South. The Americans marched into Toronto, the capital of Upper Canada, and burned the Parliament House. The British marched into Washington, and burned the Capitol and the President's House, deeds which no one could approve even in the heat of war.


The proper name for the President's house is the Executive Mansion, but it is known, not only in America, but all the world over as the White House. According to one tradition it was only after being burnt by the British that it received this name. For when it was repaired the walls were painted white to cover the marks of fire. According to another tradition the people called it the White House from the beginning in honour of the first President's "consort" Martha Washington whose early home on the Pamunkey River in Virginia was called the White House.


At sea American privateers did great damage to British shipping, and so daring were they that even the Irish Sea and the English Channel were not safe for British traders.


For two and a half years the war lasted. Then at length peace was made by the Treaty of Ghent. It was signed on Christmas Eve, 1814, and for more than a hundred years there has been peace between Great Britain and the United States of America. Let us hope it will never be broken.

Treaty of Ghent, 1814

Nothing was altered by this war. No territory changed hands, and as for the things about which the war began, they were not mentioned in the treaty of peace. For the war with France was over, so of course the blockades which had hit American trade so hard were no more in force. On both sides peace was hailed with delight. In America bonfires were lit, bells were rung, and men who were the greatest enemies in politics forgot their quarrels, fell into each other's arms and cried like women. Everywhere too "The Star Spangled Banner" was sung.


It was during this war that this famous song was written. The British were about to attack Baltimore when Francis Scott Key, hearing that one of his friends had been taken prisoner, rowed out to the British fleet under a flag of truce to beg his release. The British Admiral consented to his release. He said, however, that both Key and his friend must wait until the attack was over.

"The Star Spangled Banner"

So, from the British fleet, Key watched the bombardment of Fort McHenry which guarded the town. All through the night the guns roared and flashed, and in the lurid light Key could see the flag on Fort McHenry fluttering proudly. But before dawn the firing ceased.


"What had happened," he asked himself, "was the fort taken?"


Eagerly he waited for the dawn. And when at last the sun rose he saw with joy that the Stars and Stripes still floated over the fort. There and then on the back of an old letter he wrote "The Star Spangled Banner." People hailed it with delight, soon it was sung throughout the length and breadth of the States, and at length became the National Anthem.


During Madison's presidency two states were added to the Union. In 1812 Louisiana was added as the eighteenth state.


The State of Louisiana was only a very small part of the Louisiana Purchase, and when it was first proposed that it should join the Union some people objected. Louisiana should be kept as a territory, they said, and they declared that Congress had no power to admit new states except those which were formed out of land belonging to the original thirteen states.

Louisiana admitted to the Union, 1812

"It was not for these men that our fathers fought," cried a Congressman. "You have no authority to throw the rights, and liberties, and property, of this people into hotch-potch with the wild men on the Missouri, or with the mixed, though more respectable, race of Anglo-Hispano-Gallo-Americans who bask on the sands in the mouth of the Mississippi."


He declared further that if this sort of thing went on it would break up the Union. But in spite of him and others who thought like him Louisiana became a state.


In 1816, just about two years after the end of the war with Britain, Indiana was admitted into the Union as the nineteenth state. You know that besides the constitution of the United States each state has also its own constitution. Thus when a territory wanted to become a state it had to frame a constitution which had to be approved by Congress.

Indiana admitted to the Union, 1816

In June, 1816, a convention to frame a constitution was called at Corydon, which was then the capital of Indiana. The weather was warm, and instead of holding their meetings in the State House the members used to meet under a great elm which stood near. Under the cool shadow of its branches the laws for the state were framed, and from that the elm was called the Constitution Elm. It still stands as it stood a hundred years ago, and the people of Corydon do everything they can to protect it, and make it live as long as possible.



MADISON was twice elected President. He was chosen for the second time during the war with Britain. In 1817 his second term came to an end and James Monroe took his place.


Monroe was not so clever as the presidents who had gone before him. But he was a kindly, generous man. Every one liked him, and the time during which he was President was called the "era of good feeling."


And indeed men were so glad of this time of peace which had come after such long years of war that they forgot old quarrels and became friends again.


Unfortunately the peace was broken by a war with the Seminole Indians in Florida. Florida still belonged to Spain, and it became a haunt for all sorts of adventurers. These adventurers robbed, and murdered, and created terrible disturbances among the Indians, until along the frontier between Georgia and Florida there was neither safety nor peace for any white man.

War with the Seminole Indians, 1818

So the President at length sent General Jackson, who had won great fame in the War of 1812, to bring the Indians to order. Jackson marched into Florida, and in three months' time had subdued the Indians, brought order out of wild disorder, and in fact conquered Florida.

General Andrew Jackson, 1767-1845

But this was far more than Monroe had meant Jackson to do. And it seemed as if General Jackson was like to be in trouble with the Government, and the Government in trouble with Spain. However things were smoothed over, and the matter with Spain was put right by the United States buying Florida in 1819. And of this new territory Jackson was made Governor.

Florida bought from Spain, 1819

Meanwhile more states were being added to the Union.


After the War was over, hundreds of families had found a new home, and a new life, in the unknown wilderness of the West. Indeed, so many people moved westward that the people in the East began to grow anxious. For it seemed to them that soon the eastern states would be left desolate, and they asked their State Governments to stop the people going west. "Old America seems to be breaking up and moving westward," said one man.

The rush to the West

All sorts of stories of the hardships and dangers of the West were spread abroad. But in spite of all that was said the stream still poured westward. The people went in great covered wagons drawn by teams of horses, carrying with them all their household goods, or they rode on horseback taking nothing with them but a few clothes tied up in a handkerchief, while some even trudged the long hundreds of miles on foot.


The rivers, too, were crowded with boats of all sorts, many people going part of the way by river, and the rest on foot. In the East fields were left desolate, houses and churches fell to ruins, while in the West towns and villages sprang up as if by magic, and the untrodden wilderness was turned to fertile fields.


So, as the great prairies of the West became settled, the settlers became eager to join the Union. Thus new states were formed. Mississippi became a state in 1817, the first year of Monroe's presidency. Illinois followed in 1818, Alabama in 1819, and Missouri in 1821. Mississippi, Illinois and Alabama were framed out of original territory but Missouri was framed out of the Louisiana Purchase. All four names are Indian. Mississippi and Missouri are named after the rivers which flow through them, Mississippi meaning Father of Waters and Missouri Great Muddy. For the Missouri is full of yellow mud. Illinois is named after the tribe of Indians who lived there. Their name was really Iliniwok meaning "Men" but white people pronounced it badly and it became changed to Illinois. Alabama means "here we rest."

Mississippi admitted to the Union, 1817; Illinois, 1818; Alabama, 1819; Missouri, 1821;

In 1820 Maine also was admitted as a state. Maine, however, was not newly settled country. Since colonial days it had been a part of Massachusetts. But having become dissatisfied, it separated from Massachusetts, and asked to be admitted to the Union as a separate state.

Maine, 1820

It was just about the same time that Missouri was also asking to be admitted as a state. And strangely enough the admission of these two states became connected with each other. We must look back a little to see how.


You remember that two hundred years before this, slaves were first brought to Virginia. In those days no one thought that slavery was wrong. So as colony was added to colony they also became slave owners. But gradually many people began to think that slavery was a great evil, and every now and again one colony or another would try to put it down. But these attempts always ended in failure.


In the northern states, however, there were few slaves. For in these northern states there was not much that slaves could do which could not be done just as well by white men. So it did not pay to keep slaves, and gradually slavery was done away with.

Slavery in the North;

But in the South it was different. There it was so hot that white men could not do the work in the rice and cotton fields. And the planters believed that without Negro slave labour it would be impossible to make their plantations pay.

and in the South

Then, when the power of steam was discovered and many new cotton spinning machines were invented, the demand for cotton became greater and greater; the Southern planters became more sure than ever that slavery was needful. They also became afraid that the people in the North would want to do away with it, and if the number of the states in which slavery was not allowed increased it would be easy for them to do this. So the Southerners determined that if non-slavery states were admitted to the Union slavery states must be admitted also to keep the balance even.


Now when Maine and Missouri both asked to be admitted as states the Southerners refused to admit Maine as a free state unless Missouri was made a slave state to balance it.


There was tremendous excitement and talk over the matter. Meetings were held in all the large towns. In the North the speakers called slavery the greatest evil in the United States, and a disgrace to the American people.

Great discussions about slavery

In the South the speakers declared that Congress had no right to dictate to a state as to whether it should have slavery or not. But even in the South few really stood up for slavery. Almost every one acknowledged that it was an evil. But it was a necessary evil, they said.


In the House and the Senate there were great debates also. But at length an arrangement was come to. Missouri was admitted to the Union as a slave state, but in the rest of the Louisiana Territory north of the degree of latitude 36° 30' slavery was forbidden for all time. This was called the Missouri Compromise; compromise meaning, as you know, that each side gave up something. And in this way a quarrel between the North and South was avoided for the time being.

The Missouri Compromise, 1820

But it was only for the time being, and wise men watched events with heavy hearts. Among these was the old President Jefferson. "The question sleeps for the present," he said, "but is not dead." He felt sure that it would awake again and shatter the Union, and he thanked God that being an old man he might not live to see it.


In 1821 Monroe was chosen President for a second time and it was during this second term that he became famous throughout all the world. He became so through what is known as the Monroe Doctrine.

The Monroe Doctrine, 1823

During the wars with Napoleon the King of Spain had been so crushed that he was no longer strong enough to govern his colonies. So one after another the Spanish colonies in America had declared themselves free and had set up as independent republics. But Spain of course was anxious to have her colonies back again, and it seemed very likely that the King would ask some of the other great powers in Europe to help him to reconquer them. Monroe however determined to put a stop to wars of conquest between the old world and the new.


So he announced that the Continents of America were no longer to be looked upon as open to colonisation by any European power. And that if any European power attempted to interfere with any American government they would have the United States to reckon with. Those colonies which still belonged to European powers would be left alone, but any attempt to reconquer colonies which had declared themselves to be free would be looked upon as an act unfriendly to the United States.


Such was the famous Monroe Doctrine, and because of it the name of Monroe is better known all over the world than any other United States President except Washington.


The British were quite pleased with Monroe's new doctrine. The other great powers of Europe were not. But they yielded to it and dropped their plans for conquering any part of America. And ever since the doctrine was announced the Continents of America have been left to manage their own affairs.



IN 1825 Monroe's term of office came to an end and John Quincy Adams became President. He was the son of John Adams who had been second President, and he had been Secretary of State to Monroe. It was said, indeed, that it was really he who originated the famous Doctrine which came to be called by Monroe's name.


He was an honest man and a statesman. He refused to give offices to his friends just because they were his friends, and he refused to turn men out of office simply because they did not agree with him in politics. He wanted to do what was right and just. But he did it from a cold sense of duty. So no one liked him very much. Both House and Senate were against him, and he was not able to do all he would have done for his country.


Adams wanted to do a great deal towards improving the country. He wanted canals to be cut. And as the steam engine had just been discovered, he was eager to have railroads and bridges. But Congress would not help him.

Internal improvements

Still, much was done in this direction. Several canals were cut; railroads began to be built, and the rivers were covered with steamboats.


Manufacturers also began to flourish. For during the 1812 war it had been very difficult to get manufactured goods from foreign countries. So Americans had begun to make these things for themselves.

America becomes a manufacturing country

And after the war was over, they went on manufacturing them. At length people began to be proud of using only American made things. And when Adams was inaugurated everything he wore had been manufactured in the States.


The factories were for the most part in the North, and soon the Northerners began to clamour for duties on imported goods. They wanted to keep out foreign goods, or at least make them so dear that it would pay people to buy American made goods.


But the people in the South who did not manufacture things themselves wanted the duties to be kept low. However the manufacturers won the day, and twice during Adams' presidency bills were passed, by which the tariff was made higher. The second bill made the duties so high that many people were very angry and called it the "tariff of abominations." In the South, indeed many people were so angry that they swore never to buy anything from the North until the tariff was made lower. Thus once again North and South were pulling different ways.

"Tariff of Abominations," 1828

Adams would willingly have been President for a second term. But in spite of his honesty and his upright dealings no one liked him. So he was not re-elected.


When he ceased to be President, however, he did not cease to take an interest in politics, and for many years after he was a member of Congress, where he did good service to his country.



IN 1829 Andrew Jackson, the great soldier, became President. All the presidents up till now had been well born men, aristocrats, in fact. But Jackson was a man of the people. He had been born in a log cabin on the borders of North and South Carolina. He had very little schooling, and all his life he was never able to write correct English.


When his friends first asked him to stand for President, he laughed. "Do you suppose," he said, "that I am such a fool as to think myself fit for President of the United States? No, sir, I know what I am fit for. I can command a body of men in a rough way, but I am not fit to be President."


However, he did consent to stand. The first time he was unsuccessful, and Adams was chosen instead, the second time he was brilliantly successful.


Jackson's inauguration was a triumph. Hundreds and thousands of the common people came to see the "people's man" become President. Every road leading to the Capitol was so thronged that the procession could hardly make a way through the crowd, and when the President appeared the cheers were deafening.

Jackson the "people's man"

After the inauguration was over there was a great reception at the White House. The crush was tremendous. People elbowed each other and almost fought for a sight of the new President. They stood on the satin covered chairs in their muddy boots to get a glimpse of him over the heads of others. Glasses were broken, and wine was spilled on the fine carpets. In fact, it was a noisy jollification and many people were shocked. "The reign of King Mob seemed triumphant," said an old gentleman; "I was glad to escape from the scene as soon as possible."

"King Mob"

But Jackson did not mind; he liked to see people enjoy themselves. "Let the boys have a good time once in four years," he said.


Jackson was a man of the people, but he was an autocrat too, and he had a will so unbending that even in his soldiering days he had been called Old Hickory. So now, Old Hickory had a Cabinet but he did not consult them. He simply told them what he meant to do. His real Cabinet were a few friends who had nothing at all to do with the government. They used to see him in private, and go in and out by a back door. So they got the name of the Kitchen Cabinet. And this Kitchen Cabinet had much more to do with Jackson's administration than the real Cabinet.

The "Kitchen Cabinet"

As President, Jackson did many good things. But he did one bad thing. He began what is known as the "spoils system."

The "spoils system"

Before, when a new President was elected, the Cabinet, secretaries and such people were of course changed also. But Jackson was not content with that. He thought that it was only right that his friends who had helped him to become President should be rewarded. So he turned out all sorts of civil servants, such as post masters, customs officers, and clerks of all sorts. This he did, not because they were dishonest, or useless, or unfit for their positions, but simply because they did not think as he did in politics. And in their places he put his own friends who did think as he did.


In the first year of his "reign" he thus removed two thousand people, it is said. The whole of Washington too, was filled with unrest and suspicion, no man knowing when it would be his turn to go. Many of the government clerks were now old men who had been in the service almost since the government was established. When they were turned out, there was nothing for them to do, nothing but beggary for them to look forward to. In consequence there was a great deal of misery and poverty. But the removals went on.


In time this became known as the "spoils system," because in a speech a senator talking of this matter said, "to the victor belongs the spoils of the enemy."


But something much more serious soon began to call for attention. You remember that the Tariff Bill of 1828 had been called the Tariff of Abominations, and that the people in the South objected to it very much. A feeling had begun to grow up that the interests of the North and the South were different, and that the North had too much power, and the South too little. So some Southern men began to declare that if any state decided that a law made by Congress was not lawful according to the Constitution they might set that law at nought in their own state and utterly disregard it.


This was called nullification because it made a law null and void. Wise men saw at once that if this was allowed it would simply break up the Union and every state would soon do just as it liked.


So when a Southern statesman announced this theory of delusion and folly 'Liberty first and Union afterwards,' Daniel Webster answered him.


Webster was a splendid looking man with a great mane of black hair and flashing black eyes. He was, too, a magnificent speaker and a true patriot.

Daniel Webster's great speech, 1830

As he spoke men listened in breathless silence, spellbound, by the low clear voice. In burning words Webster called to their love of country. He touched their hearts, he awoke their pride, he appealed to their plain common sense.


"Let us not see upon our flag," he said, "those words of delusion and folly 'Liberty first and Union afterwards'; but everywhere, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart, 'Liberty and Union,' now and for ever, one and inseparable."


Thus Webster ended his great speech, and with a long sigh his hearers awoke from the spell he had laid upon them, awoke to the fact that one of the world's greatest orators stood among them.


"That crushes nullification," said James Madison.


But the South was neither convinced nor crushed.


The President was a Southern man, it was known that he disliked high tariffs, so the Southerners hoped that he would help them. But stern Old Hickory would lend no hand to break up the Union.


On Jefferson's birthday some of the people who believed in nullification gave a dinner to which Jackson was invited and asked to propose a toast. He accepted the invitation, but soon discovered that the dinner was not meant so much to honour the memory of Jefferson as to advocate nullification and all the toasts hinted at it. Presently Jackson was called upon for his toast, and as he rose deep silence fell upon the company. Then in a clear and steady voice the President gave his toast: "Our Federal Union; it must and shall be preserved."

The birthday dinner

It was a great disappointment to the Nullifiers and after that all hope of help from the President was lost.


However, the people of South Carolina were still determined, and in 1832 they declared that the tariff law of that year was null and void, and no law; and that if the Government tried to force them to regard it they would set up a government of their own.

South Carolina declares for nullification

The whole state was in wild excitement. People talked openly of separating from the Union, a President was chosen and medals were struck bearing the inscription, "First President of the Southern Confederacy."


"If this thing goes on," said Jackson, "our country will be like a bag of meal with both ends open. Pick it up in the middle endwise and it will run out. I must tie the bag and save the country."


So Jackson sent a proclamation to the people of South Carolina begging them to think before they dragged their state into war. For war they should have, he told them plainly, if they persisted in their ways.


But South Carolina replied defiantly talking of tyranny and oppression, and declaring again their right to withdraw from the Union if they wished.


Both sides were so defiant that it seemed as if there might indeed be war. But there was none.


South Carolina found that the other Southern states would not join her as she had expected. So when the Government yielded so far as to reduce the tariff to some extent South Carolina grew quiet again and the danger passed.

The tariff reduced, 1832

Jackson was twice elected President. And at the end of his second term two states were added to the Union. In June, 1836, Arkansas, part of the Louisiana Purchase, became a state. It was still rather a wild place where men wore long two-edged knives called after a wild rascal, Captain James Bowie, and they were so apt to use them on the slightest occasions that the state was nicknamed the Toothpick State.

Arkansas is admitted to the Union, 1836

Arkansas came in as a slave state, and early the following year Michigan came in as a free state. Michigan had belonged at one time to New France, but after the War of Independence Britain gave it up to the United States when it became part of the North West Territory.

Michigan is admitted to the Union, 1837

During the 1812 war Michigan was again taken by the British. But they only kept it for a short time, for soon after Captain Perry's great victory it was won back again by the Americans.


Up to that time there were few settlements in the territory. But gradually more people came to settle, and at length in 1834 there were quite enough people to entitle it to be admitted as a state. And after some squabbling with Ohio over the question of boundaries it was admitted to the Union early in 1837. The state takes its name from the great lake Michigan, being an Indian word meaning "Great Sea."


Michigan was the thirteenth new state to be admitted. Thus since the Revolution the number of states had been exactly doubled.


In 1837 Martin Van Buren became President. He had been Secretary of State and then Vice-President, and had been a great favourite with Jackson who was very anxious that he should become President after him.

Van Buren succeeds Jackson

Van Buren made very few changes in the cabinet, and his Presidency was very like a continuation of Jackson's "reign."


Yet no two men could be more different from each other than Jackson and Van Buren. Jackson was rugged, quick tempered and iron willed, marching straight to his end, hacking his way through all manner of difficulties. Van Buren was a smooth tongued, sleek little man who, said his enemies, never gave any one a straight answer, and who wrapped up his ideas and opinions in so many words that nobody could be sure what he really thought about any subject.


All the presidents before Van Buren had been of British descent, and they had all been born when the States were still British colonies. Van Buren was Dutch, and he had been born after the Revolution was complete.

Van Buren the first Dutch president

This was not a happy time for America, for the whole country began to suffer from money troubles. One reason for this was that people had been trying to get rich too fast. They had been spending more than they had in order to make still more. Great factories were begun and never finished, railroads and canals were built which did not pay. Business after business failed, bank after bank shut its doors, and then to add to the troubles there was a bad harvest. Flour became ruinously dear, and the poor could not get enough to eat.

Hard times

The people blamed the Government for these bad times. Deputation after deputation went to the President asking him to do something, railing at him as the cause of all their troubles.


But amid all the clamour Van Buren stood calm. "This was not a matter," he said, "in which the Government ought to interfere. It was a matter for the people themselves," and he bade them to be more careful and industrious and things would soon come right.


But the Government too had suffered, for government money had been deposited in some of the banks which had failed. And in order to prevent that in the future Van Buren now proposed a plan for keeping State money out of the banks, so that the State should not be hurt by any bank failing.


This came to be called the Subtreasury System. There was a good deal of opposition to it at first but in 1840 it became law. It is the chief thing to remember about Van Buren's administration. It is also one of those things which become more interesting as we grow older.

The Subtreasury System, 1840


PEOPLE had grown to dislike Van Buren so much that he had no chance of being elected a second time, and the next President was General Harrison. Never before or since perhaps has there been so much excitement over the election of a President. For Van Buren's friends tried very hard to have him re-elected, and Harrison's friends worked just as hard on his behalf.


Harrison was the general who had led his men to victory at Tippecanoe, and he immediately became first favourite with the people. He was an old man now of nearly seventy, and since he had left the army had been living quietly on his farm in the country.

The Hero of Tippecanoe becomes President, 1841

So one of Van Buren's friends said scornfully that Harrison was much more fit to live in a log cabin and drink hard cider than live in the White House and be President.


It was meant as a sneer, but Harrison's good friends took it up. Log Cabin and Hard Cider became their war-cry, and the election was known as the Log Cabin and Hard Cider campaign. And soon many simple country people came to believe that Harrison really lived in a log cabin, and that he was poor, and had to work for his living even as an old man.

Log Cabin and Hard Cider

All sorts of songs were made and sung about this gallant old farmer.

"Oh, know ye the farmer of Tippecanoe?
The gallant old farmer of Tippecanoe?
With an arm that is strong and a heart that is true,
The man of the people is Tippecanoe."


That is the beginning of one song and there were dozens more like it.


And while the old farmer of Tippecanoe was said to be everything that was good and honest and lovable, Van Buren on the other hand was represented as being a bloated aristocrat, who sat in chairs that cost six hundred dollars, ate off silver plates with golden forks and spoons, and drove about in an English coach with a haughty smile on his face.


It was a time of terrible excitement, and each side gave the other many hard knocks. But in the end Harrison was elected by two hundred and thirty-four electoral votes to Van Buren's sixty. As Vice-President John Tyler was chosen. "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" had been one of the election cries.

"Tippecanoe and Tyler too"

Inauguration day was bleak and cold, rain threatened and a chill wind blew. But in spite of unkind weather Harrison's friends arranged a grand parade. And mounted on a white horse the new President rode for two hours through the streets. Then for another hour he stood in the chill wind reading his address to the people.


All the time he wore no overcoat. Because, it is said, rumours were spread abroad that he was not strong, and he wanted to show that he was. When the long ceremony was at length over he was thoroughly chilled, but no serious illness followed.


It was soon seen, however, that he could not bear the strain of his great office. He had never been strong. Of late years he had been used to a quiet country life, seeing few people and taking things easily.


Now from morning till night he lived in a whirl. He was besieged with people who wanted posts. For the spoils system being once begun, every President was almost forced to continue it. And never before had any President been beset by such a buzzing crowd.


Harrison was a kindly old man, and he would gladly have given offices to all who asked. It grieved him that he could not. But he was honest, too, and he tried to be just in making these new appointments. So his days were full of worry and anxious thought. Soon under the heavy burden he fell ill. And just a month after his inauguration he died.

The President dies, 1841

Never before had a President died in office, and it was a shock to the whole people. Every one grieved, for even those who had been his political enemies and worked hard to prevent his election loved the good old man. Death stilled every whisper of anger against him, and, united in sorrow, the whole nation mourned his loss and followed him reverently to the grave.



JOHN TYLER now became President. At first there was some doubt as to what he should be called. Adams, the ex-President, said he should be called "Vice-President acting as President." But that was much too long. Someone else suggested "Regent," but that smacked too much of royalty. But the people did not worry about it; they just called him President, and so the matter settled itself.


One important matter during Tyler's presidency was the settling of the boundary between British America and Maine. The uncertainty of where the border between the two countries really was had caused a good deal of friction, the British accusing the Americans and the Americans accusing the British of encroaching on their territory. Many attempts had been made to settle it, but they had all failed. And both sides had become so angry over it that it was very nearly a question of war.

The Webster-Ashburton Treaty, 1842

But now at last the question was thrashed out between Daniel Webster, the great orator acting for the United States, and Lord Ashburton acting for Britain. Lord Ashburton came out to Washington. The business was carried through in a friendly fashion and settled satisfactorily.


The twenty-seventh state was admitted to the Union during Tyler's time of office. This was Florida. Since Spain had given up Florida to the United States there had been a good deal of unrest among the Indians. And at last the settlers decided that it would be better to send them out of the country altogether.

Florida admitted to the Union, 1845

So the settlers made a treaty with the Indians by which the Indians agreed to accept lands in the West instead of their Florida lands. But when the time came for them to go they refused to move, and a war which lasted seven years was begun.


It was a terrible war and thousands of lives were lost on either side, for the Indians were led by a brave and wily chief named Osceola. But at length they were defeated. They were then removed to western lands as had been agreed; only about three hundred were allowed to remain, and these were obliged to keep to the extreme south of the province.

The Second Seminole War, 1835-42

The war ended soon after Tyler became President. Then land was offered free to settlers who would promise to remain at least five years. Many were glad to get land on such easy terms, and soon the country which had been a refuge for escaped slaves and a haunt for desperadoes became the home of orderly people.


In a very short time these new settlers wished to join the Union, but at first they could not agree as to whether Florida should be made into one or two states. Finally, however, it was decided that it should be one, and in March, 1845, it was admitted to the Union as a slave state.



IN 1845 Tyler's term expired and James Knox Polk became President. He had been a long time in Congress, and had been Speaker of the House for four years. Yet nobody had heard very much about him, and nearly everyone was surprised when his party succeeded in electing him.


During Polk's term of office three states were admitted to the Union. The first of these was the great State of Texas. After the Louisiana Purchase the United States had claimed Texas as part of Louisiana. But the Spaniards to whom all Mexico belonged disputed their claim, and declared that Texas belonged to them. The dispute went on until the United States bought Florida from Spain. Then in part payment for Florida the Americans gave up all claim to Texas.

Texas admitted to the Union, 1845

But really this agreement could matter little to Spain, for the Mexicans were already in revolt, and in 1821 declared themselves independent.


Meanwhile many Americans began to settle in Texas. The United States Government began to feel sorry that they had given it up, and they tried to buy it from the Mexicans. The Mexicans, however, refused to sell it. But many men in the southern states became more and more anxious to get Texas. Because they saw that if they did not get some more territory free states would soon outnumber slave states. For all the land south of the Missouri Compromise line had been used up, the only part left being set aside as Indian Territory. In the north on the other hand there was still land enough out of which to carve four or five states.


All the Americans who had settled in Texas were slave holders. And when Mexico abolished slavery Texas refused to do so. This refusal of course brought trouble, and at length the Texans, declaring that the government of Mexico was tyrannical, rose in rebellion against Mexico, and declared themselves a republic.

The Texans rebel against Mexico, 1836

But the Mexicans would not allow this great territory to revolt without an effort to keep it. So they sent an army to fight the Texans. The leader of the Mexican army was Santa Anna, the Mexican President. The leader of the Texans was General Sam Houston.

Sam Houston, 1793-1863

Sam Houston was an adventurous American who a year or two before had settled in Texas. He had had a varied life. He had been a soldier, a lawyer, a Congressman, and finally Governor of a state. Then he had suddenly thrown everything up, had gone to live among the Indians, and was adopted into an Indian tribe.


While he was living with the Indians wild stories of his doings were spread about. One story was that he meant to conquer Texas, and make himself Emperor of that country. But Houston had really no intention of founding a nation.


In the war with Texas the Mexicans were at first successful, and the terrified people fled before them. But at the battle of San Jacinto the Texans utterly defeated the Mexicans. The rout was complete and the Mexicans fled in every direction, among them their leader, Santa Anna.

Battle of San Jacinto, 1836

Mounted on a splendid black horse he fled toward a bridge crossing a river which flowed near. But when he reached the bridge he found that the Texans had destroyed it. He was being hotly pursued by the enemy. So without pausing a moment he spurred his horse into the river, swam across, and to the surprise of his pursuers climbed the steep cliff of the opposite side, and disappeared.

Santa Anna escapes;

Darkness now fell and the Texans gave up the pursuit. But next morning they set out again to scour the country in search of fugitives. Meanwhile Santa Anna, having abandoned his horse and changed his clothes in a forsaken cottage, was trying to make his way to the Mexican border. Presently, however, one of the search parties came upon a little man dressed in blue cotton coat and trousers, a leather cap and red woolen slippers. He was a miserable looking object, and when he saw the Texans approach, he tried to hide himself in the grass. He was soon found, however, and when the Texans asked him who he was he said he was a private soldier.

he is captured;

The Texans then told him to follow them to the camp. And when he said he could not walk he mounted on one of their horses, and, riding behind a Texan, he was led into camp.


The Texans had no idea who they had captured until they reached their camp. Then when the Mexican prisoners saw the queer little figure they exclaimed, "The President! the President!" Only then did the Texans discover what a great man they had captured.


Houston had been wounded in the battle, and was lying on a mattress under the tree when Santa Anna was led before him.


"I am General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna," said the prisoner, "and a prisoner of war at your disposal."


Houston looked at him in silence, and then signed him to sit down on a box which stood near. And there under the spreading branches of the tree a truce was arranged, and Santa Anna wrote letters to his generals telling them to cease fighting.


The Texans wanted to hang Santa Anna for his cruelties during the war, but Houston saved him from their wrath, and after he had signed a treaty acknowledging the independence of Texas he was set free.

he acknowledges the Independence of Texas

Texas now declared itself a republic, and of this new State General Sam Houston–"Old Sam Jacinto," as he was affectionately nicknamed–was chosen President. The flag chosen for the Republic was blue with a single yellow star in the middle, and from this flag Texas came to be called the Lone Star State.

The Lone Star

The Texans had declared themselves a free and independent nation. But as a republic Texas was very small, and the Texans had no intention of remaining a lonely insignificant republic. What they desired was to join the United States. And very soon they asked to be admitted to the Union.


But Texas lay south of the Missouri Compromise line, and although small for an independent republic it was huge for a state, and might be cut up into three or four. Therefore the people in the North were very much against Texas being admitted to the Union as it would increase the strength of the slave states enormously. But the Southerners were determined to have Texas, and at last in 1845 it was admitted as a slave state. The two last states which had been added to the Union, that is, Florida and Texas, were both slave states. But they were soon balanced by two free states, Iowa and Wisconsin.


Iowa is an Indian name meaning "Sleepy Ones." The state was called after a tribe of Indians of that name who were there when the Frenchmen first explored the country. It was the first free state to be carved out of the Louisiana Purchase.

Iowa admitted to the Union, 1845

Wisconsin was part of the Northwest Territory and was the last part of it to be organised as a state. Like many other states Wisconsin takes its name from its chief river, which means "Gathering Waters." There are many lead mines in Wisconsin and these had been worked in a poor sort of way by the Indians, and when white people began to work them there was trouble between them and the Redmen.

Wisconsin admitted to the Union, 1846

At different times Red Bird and Black Hawk rose against the whites, but both were defeated. At length the disputes were settled by treaties with the Indians and the land began to be peopled by whites.


Wisconsin is often called the Badger State. It got this name not because badgers are to be found there, but because the lead miners, instead of building houses, used to dig out caves in the hillsides and live in them summer and winter. From this they were nicknamed Badgers, and the state became known as the Badger State.


Besides Texas, another great territory was added to the States at this time, and another boundary dispute between British America and the United States was settled.

The Oregon country

For many years both Britain and the United States had claimed the Oregon Territory. The Americans claimed it by right of Captain Grey's discovery of the Columbia River, and also by right of the exploration of Lewis and Clark. The British claimed it by right of the discoveries of Sir Alexander Mackenzie, and also on the ground that it had been occupied by Hudson's Bay Company.

Claimed by both British and Americans

Three times attempts had been made to settle the boundary, but each time the attempts had failed. At length the two countries agreed to occupy it jointly. This arrangement was to come to an end by either country giving a year's notice.


President Polk's appetite for land was huge. He wanted the whole of Oregon for the United States. So in 1846 the joint agreement came to an end, and new efforts for a final settlement began.


Many others were as eager as the President to have the whole of Oregon, and "Fifty-four Forty or Fight" became a battle-cry. Fifty-four Forty was the imaginary line or parallel of latitude on the north of the disputed territory. So that the cry "Fifty-four Forty or Fight" meant that these hotspurs demanded the whole of Oregon or war with Great Britain.

"Fifty-four Forty or Fight"

On the other hand some people thought a ridiculous fuss was being made over an utterly useless piece of land.


"What do we want with it?" they said. "What are we to do with it? How could a bit of land five thousand miles away ever become part of the United States? It is absurd!"


Steam, said someone, would make it possible. Railways would bring Oregon near to the seat of government.


"Steam!" cried the objectors. "Railways across the Rocky Mountains! Rubbish!"


The British on their side did not want the whole of Oregon, but they wanted the land as far south as the Columbia River.


However in the end both sides gave way a little. It was agreed to halve the country, and the parallel 49 was taken as the boundary. Thus another large territory was added to the States and the northern frontiers peacefully settled from east to west.

A settlement made

But Polk's land hunger was not yet satisfied. He had half of Oregon, he had the whole of Texas, but he wanted more. He wanted California, but California belonged to Mexico. He tried to buy it from Mexico, but Mexico would not sell it. Polk, however, was determined to have it. So determined was he that he made up his mind to fight for it, if there was no other way of getting it.

Polk wants California

It was easy to find an excuse for war. The boundaries of Texas were very uncertain, and a tract of land lying east of the Rio Grande River was claimed by both Texas and by Mexico. In 1846 Polk sent an army to take possession of this land.


General Zachary Taylor was in command of this expedition. And when he arrived near the mouth of the Rio Grande and began to build a fort the Mexicans were very angry. They sent him a message ordering him to be gone in twenty-four hours.

General Zachary Taylor, 1784-1850

Of course Taylor refused to go, and he began to blockade the river, so as to stop trade with Mexico.


The Mexicans then made ready to fight, and next morning they attacked and captured a scouting party of Americans.

Blood shed

When the news reached Washington there was great excitement. "Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States," declared the President, "has invaded our territory, and shed American blood on American soil."


"War exists," he said, "notwithstanding all our efforts to avoid it, exists by the act of Mexico herself."


Some of the people, however, did not believe that Mexico was wholly to blame for beginning the war. And a young Congressman named Abraham Lincoln asked the President to state the exact spot on American territory where American blood had been spilled. This was called the "Spot resolution."

Abraham Lincoln, 1819-65

The Spot resolution

But in spite of any protest that was made war was declared, and volunteers came pouring in from every side.

war declared

The war lasted for a year and a half, and from the first the Mexicans had the worst of it. Throughout the whole war they never won a battle. Besides General Taylor's army the Mexicans soon had two more to fight. In the north General Kearney marched into New Mexico and took possession of it in the name of the United States. Then he marched into California and claimed that also. In the south the Commander-in-Chief, General Scott, landed at Vera Cruz. And after taking the town he marched triumphantly on, conquering everything on his way till he reached Mexico City, and the war was practically at an end.


It was not, however, until February of the following year that the treaty of peace was signed in Mexico and not till the 4th of July was it proclaimed in Washington. By it a great tract of land was given to the United States, stretching from the borders of Texas to the shores of the Pacific and from the present northern border of Mexico to Oregon.

Treaty of Peace, Feb. 2nd, 1848


IN return for the great tract of land ceded to the United States Mexico received fifteen million dollars. But the Mexicans little knew what a golden land they were parting with, and what a bad bargain they were making. Nine days before the treaty was signed gold was found in California. But news traveled slowly in those days, and the treaty was signed before the Mexicans knew of the great discovery.


Some time before this a Swiss named Sutter had settled in the Sacramento Valley. He had prospered greatly, and had become a regular little potentate, ruling the whole district round.

John A. Sutter

He had thousands of horses and cattle, and hundreds of men worked for him, both white men and Indians. Now he wanted to build a saw mill and a man named Marshall, a settler from the East, undertook to build it for him.


Marshall was a moody, queer tempered man. But he was a good workman. So about fifty miles from Sutter's fort the saw mill was begun. Now one day while Marshall was walking beside the mill stream inspecting the work he saw something yellow and shining among the loose earth and gravel which was being carried down by the stream. At first he thought little about it, but as again and again he saw these shining grains he at length thought that they might be gold and picked some up.

James Marshall;

he finds some shining gravel, 1848;

Next morning he again went to inspect the mill stream and there he found a piece of the shining stuff bigger than any he had found the day before. Marshall picked up the piece, and when he felt it heavy in his hand he began to feel a little excited.


Could it really be gold? he asked himself. Marshall did not know much about gold, but he knew that it was heavy, and that it was fairly soft. So he bit and hammered it with stones, and finding that it was easily beaten out he at last decided that it was indeed gold.

is it gold?

So he mounted his horse and rode off to Sutter to tell him of his wonderful discovery. It was a pouring wet day in January, and when Marshall reached the fort he was soaked through. But he took no thought of that, and marching right into Sutter's office with something of an air of mystery asked for a private talk.


Sutter wondered what had brought Marshall back from the mill, and he wondered still more at the mysterious air.


Soon he understood. For Marshall took out a little bag, and emptying what it held into his hand, held it out to Sutter.


"I believe this is gold," he said.


"It certainly looks like it," said Sutter in surprise.


Then Marshall told how he had found it in the mill stream, and that he believed there were tons of it.


Sutter was a very great man in the countryside, and he had things which no one else dreamed of having. Among these was an Encyclopedia. So he looked up the article on gold and read it carefully. And then the two men tried all the tests they had at command, and at last came to the conclusion that the shining grains which Marshall had found were certainly gold.

it is gold

Sutter would have been glad to keep the secret for a little time, at least until his mill was finished. But such a secret could not be kept. Soon every one round knew of the great discovery. The sawmill was left unfinished, the workmen went off to dig for gold, and everyone else followed their example.


The towns were deserted, shops and offices were shut up, houses were left half built, fields were left unploughed, horses and cattle roamed about uncared for. High and low, rich and poor, lawyers, doctors, labourers, threw down their tools or their pens, turned the key in the door, and departed for the gold fields.

The rush to the gold fields

Some went by sea, and those who could not get passage in ships hired any small craft which they could find. They put to sea in the most rotten or frail little boats, willing to brave any danger if only they might at length reach the land of gold.


Others went by land, some rode on horseback or drove in a wagon, others went on foot all the way, carrying with them nothing but a spade or shovel.


It was a mad rush for wealth. Every one as soon as he heard the wonderful news was seized with the gold fever. When ships came into port the sailors heard the news, and they deserted wholesale, and the ships were left to rock at anchor without a soul on board. Prisoners broke prison and fled to the gold fields. Warders followed, not to take them but to remain and dig. Newspapers could not be issued, because the printers had all run off; every industry was neglected except the making of spades and picks. And the price of these rose and rose till they could not be had for less than ten dollars apiece, and it is said that even fifty dollars was offered for one.


But in some places upon the gold fields picks and shovels were not needed, for all the men had to do was to pick at the seams with their pocket knives to get enough gold to make them rich.


At first it was only from California, Oregon and the Western settlements that men rushed to the gold fields. For although the telegraph had been discovered a short time before this there were neither telegraphs nor railroads in the West. But soon, in a wonderfully short time too, the news spread. It spread to the Eastern States, then to Europe, and from all over the world the rush came.


Every ship that would float put to sea. Many instead of going their usual routes sailed for California, the whale fisheries were neglected and the whalers took to mining. The fleets of all the world seemed to make for the shores of America.


Across the Continent, too, long trains of lumbering wagons drawn by oxen slowly wound. They were tented over and were so huge that whole families lived in them, and they were given the name of prairie schooners. All day long they crawled along and as dusk fell they gathered into groups. Fires were lit, tents pitched for the night. Then early next morning the travellers would be astir again, and so day after day through lonely uninhabited wildernesses the caravans moved on.

Prairie schooners

In one unending stream great tented wagons, carts, carriages, horsemen or even walkers moved along, all going in the same direction, to the golden land of the West.


Many were the dangers these adventurous travellers had to brave. There were dangers from hostile Indians, and from wild animals, from lack of food and water, and above all from sickness. Cholera broke out in these slow-moving trains, and many a man who had set out gaily found a grave by the wayside, and never reached the land of his golden hopes.

Dangers of the road

The road too was strewn with broken down wagons, and the bones of oxen and horses, and many had to finish their weary journey on foot.


But in spite of all mischances hundreds and thousands reached the gold fields, and all over the Sacramento Valley, or wherever gold was found, little towns sprang up.


These were towns of wooden shanties and canvas tents. And whenever the gold gave out, or news came of some richer mine, the diggers would forsake the little town, and rush off somewhere else. And no sign of life would be left in the once busy valley save the weather-worn huts and the upturned earth. Some men made fortunes almost in a day, many returned home well off. But by far the greater number returned poorer than they came, and with their health shattered by the hardships of the life. Many more never returned at all, but found a nameless grave among the lonely valleys.


Others made fortunes again and again, and lost them as quickly as they made them. For though at first the men who went to the gold fields were for the most part young, and strong, and honest, the greed of gain soon brought all the riff-raff of the towns. Many men joined the throng who had no intention of working, and who but came to lure the gold away from those who had found it.


So gambling saloons, and drinking saloons, sprang up everywhere, and many a man left them poorer if not wiser. Murders became frequent, but men thought little about them. Every man went armed, and if he could not protect himself it was his own fault.


Theft was looked upon as a far worse sin. For everybody lived in frail wooden juts or open tents. They had no means of locking up their gold, and thought nothing of leaving it lying about quite unprotected. But when criminals and lowdown ruffians began to come things were changed; until at last many were afraid to have it known that they possessed gold lest they should be murdered for it.


Among the many who did not make fortunes out of the finding of gold were Marshall and Sutter. Neither of them was lucky as a miner and both of them died in poverty.

Marshall and Sutter


POLK had no chance of being re-elected as President. For many people looked upon the war with Mexico as a great wrong, and as a stain upon the flag. So even although it had given to the United States California, and all its untold wealth, Polk was not forgiven for having brought the war about. And while the people were rushing from all corners of the globe to California, a new President was inaugurated.


This new President was no other than General Zachary Taylor, who had become famous during the Mexican war, for people did not blame him for the war. He had only obeyed orders as a soldier must and every one admired his bravery and skill.


He was a rough old soldier, and his men called him Old Rough and Ready. And when he first heard that people wanted to make him President, like Jackson, that other rough old soldier before him, he simply laughed at the idea.

Old Rough and Ready

"I am not vain enough to think that I am fit to be President," he said. "I would gladly see some other citizen more worthy chosen for that high office."


Old Rough and Ready was a soldier, and nothing but a soldier. He knew nothing at all about politics, and had never even voted. However when people insisted that he should be President, he began rather to like the idea, and at length consented to be a candidate, and was elected.


Because of the discovery of gold, thousands and thousands of people flocked to California. And although many returned to their homes again, many also remained in California, and made their homes in the new-found sunny land. So it came about that California was peopled faster than any other part of America, and in 1849, less than two years after the discovery of gold, it asked to be admitted to the Union as a state.

California asks to be admitted as a state, 1849

But before it was admitted a fierce battle had to be fought, for the Californians wanted the state to be admitted as a free state. Now part of California lay south of the Missouri Compromise Line, so the Southerners were angry, and declared that California must be divided into two, and that the Southern part must come into the Union as a slave state.


The Southerners felt that they had a right to be angry. For they had helped to bring on the Mexican War for the purpose of getting more territory south of the Missouri Compromise Line, so that they should be sure of slave states to balance the free states of the north. They had won the land, and now victory would be turned to defeat if the new states were admitted as free states.


So they threatened, as they had threatened before, to break away from the Union if they were not listened to.


No sooner was Taylor inaugurated than he had to turn his attention to this great matter. The Southerners were determined to use all their power to get their way, and Senator John Caldwell Calhoun, an old man, who for years had been a champion of slavery, determined to speak once more for the cause.

John C. Calhoun, 1782-1850;

Calhoun was so old and ill that he could hardly walk, and he tottered into the Senate Chamber leaning on the arms of two friends. He was far too feeble to read his speech. So, pale and deathlike, he sat in his chair while a friend read it for him.


"The South must have a share in the new territory," he said. "If you of the North will not do this, then let our Southern States separate and depart in peace."


This was the great statesman's last word to his country. Three weeks later he lay dead. He was the greatest of Southern politicians. He really believed that slavery was a good thing, and that life in the South would be impossible without it. And loving his country deeply, he could not bear to think of its ruin.

his last speech, 4th March

"The South! the poor South!" he murmured, as he lay dying. "God knows what will become of her."


The next great speech was made by Daniel Webster. Twenty years had come and gone since he made his first great speech for Union. Now thousands turned to him, begging him to reconcile the North and South. And on the day he made his speech, the Senate Chamber was packed from floor to ceiling.

Daniel Webster speaks 7th March

"I speak to-day," he said, "not as a Massachusetts man, nor as a Northern man, but as an American, having no locality but America. I speak to-day for the preservation of the Union. Hear me for my cause."


But to the men burning with zeal against slavery his speech seemed lukewarm. "The law of Nature," he said, "settles forever that slavery cannot exist in California." It was a useless taunt and reproach to the slave holders to forbid slavery where slavery could not exist. He blamed the North for having fallen short in its duty to the South, and declared that the South had just cause for complaint.


Many applauded this speech, but to others it was like a blow in the face.


"Webster," cried one, "is a fallen star! Lucifer descending from heaven!"


A third great speech was made four days later by William H. Seward. He spoke whole-heartedly for union. "Slavery must vanish from the Union," he said, "but it would vanish peacefully." He brushed aside as impossible the thought that any state should break away from the Union. "I shall vote for the admission of California directly," he said, "without conditions, without qualifications, and without compromise."

William H. Seward, 11th March

But still the debate went on. Summer came and on the 4th of July there was a great ceremony for the laying of the foundation stone of the Washington Monument.

The Washington Monument

The President was present and sat for hours in the blazing sun. Then feeling very tired he went home and drank iced milk and ate some cherries. That night he became very ill, and a few days later he died.

The President dies, 1850

"I have tried to do my duty," he said. Then the brave and honest old soldier laid down his heavy burden and was at rest.


Once again a sad procession left the White House, and wound slowly through the streets lined with soldiers. Behind the funeral car was led the President's old war horse which he would never mount again. The people wept to see it, and the whole nation mourned for the brave old soldier who had tried to do his duty.



THE Vice-President, Millard Fillmore, now became President. He was the son of very poor parents; he had picked up an education how he could, and he was nineteen before he saw a history, or a map of his own country. But he was determined to become a lawyer. And after a hard struggle he succeeded. Then from step to step he rose, till he had now reached the highest office in the land.


Under the new President the debate over California still went on. But at length the matter was settled, and California was admitted as a free state. This was on the 9th of September, but the news did not reach California until October. For months the people had been waiting for an answer to their petition. And as the days went past they grew more and more impatient. But at last one morning San Francisco was filled with excitement for the Oregon was seen coming into harbour gaily decorated with flags.

California admitted to the Union, 1850

With shouts of joy the people ran down to the wharf for they knew the Oregon would never come in with flags flying in such a way if she were not bringing good news.


And when they heard the news they laughed, and cried, and kissed each other in joy. Cannon were fired and bells rung, shops were shut, and every one went holidaying.

The news reaches California

Messengers too were sent in every direction. Stage coaches with six-horse teams ran races to be the first to bring the news to outlying towns and villages. As the coaches dashed through villages men on them shouted the news, and the villagers would shout and laugh in return. Then, leaping on their horses, they would ride off to tell some neighbour. So throughout the land the news was carried.


By the admission of California to the Union as a free state the non-slave states were greatly strengthened. But in some degree to make up for this, a very strict law about the arrest of runaway slaves was passed. This was called the Fugitive Slave Law and it was bad and cruel. For, by it, if a negro were caught even by some one who had no right to him, he had no chance of freedom. A negro was not allowed to speak for himself, and he was not allowed the benefit of a jury. Also any person who helped a slave to run away, or protected him when he had run away, might be fined.

Fugitive Slave Law, 1850

The North hated the Bill but it was passed. Many people, however, made up their minds not to obey it. For conscience told them that slavery was wrong and conscience was a "higher law." So when men came to the free states to catch runaway slaves they were received with anger, and everything was done to hinder them in their man-catching work. The Underground Railroad, too, became more active than ever.

Conscience a higher law

This Underground Railroad was not a railroad, and it was not underground. It was simply a chain of houses about twenty miles or so apart where escaped slaves might be sure of a kindly welcome. The railroad was managed by men who felt pity for the slaves and helped them to escape. It went in direct roads across the States to Canada. The escaping slaves moved so secretly from one house to another that it almost seemed as if they must have gone underground. So the system came to be called the Underground Railroad, and the friendly houses were the stations.

The underground railway;

Once a runaway slave reached one of these friendly houses or stations he would be hidden in the attic or cellar or some safe place. There he would be fed and cared for until night came again. Then the password would be given to him, and directions how to reach the next underground station. And, with the pole star for his guide, he would set out.


Arriving at the house in the dusk of early morning, before any one was astir he would knock softly at the door.


"Who's there?" would be asked.


Then the runaway would give the password in answer. Perhaps it would be "William Penn," or "a friend of friends," or sometimes the signal would be the hoot of an owl. And hearing it the master of the underground station would rise and let the "passenger" in.


Sometimes the slavers would come alone, sometimes in twos and threes or even more. As many as seventeen were hidden one day at one of the stations.


Thousands of slaves were in this way helped to escape every year. It was a dangerous employment for the station-masters, and many were found out and fined. They paid the fines, they did not care for that; and went on helping the poor slaves.


Most of the people connected with the underground railroad were white, but some were coloured. One of the most daring of these was Harriet Tubman. She helped so many of her countrymen to escape that they called her "Moses" because she had led them out of the land of bondage. She was nearly white, but had been a slave herself. And having escaped from that fearful bondage she now spent her life in trying to free others.

Harriet Tubman;

Again and again, in spite of the danger in being caught, she ventured into the Southern States to bring back a band of runaway slaves. And she was so clever and so full of resource that she always brought them safely away. More than once when she saw she was being tracked, she put herself and her little company into a train, taking tickets for them southwards. For she knew that no one would suspect them to be runaway slaves if they were travelling south. Then, when their track was covered, and danger of pursuit over, they all turned north again.


Harriet was both brave and clever, and when the Civil War broke out, she served as a scout for the Northern Army, earning the praise of those who employed her. She lived to be very old, and died not many years ago, happy to know that all her countrymen were free.

she serves as a scout

But although many slaves tried to run away, all slaves were not unhappy. When they had a kind master they were well taken care of, and lived in far greater comfort that if they had been free. In the more northerly of the slave states, such as Virginia, the slaves were generally household servants, and were treated in the most affectionate manner. It was farther south in the cotton growing districts, where slaves worked in gangs under the whip of the overseer who was often brutal, that the real misery was.


But even with the kindest of masters a slave could never feel safe. For that master might die or lose his money, and have to sell his slaves. Then husband and wife, parents and children might be sold to different masters, and never see each other again. The one would never know whether the other was happy or miserable, alive or dead. Or they might be sold down South to work in the rice swamps or the cotton fields. It was this that the happy, careless slave from the North most dreaded.


It was just at this time when the Fugitive Slave Law was being enforced, and the Underground Railroad was working nightly that "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was written and published. You all know the story of poor old Tom, of funny, naughty Topsy and all the other interesting people of the book. We look upon it now as merely a story-book. But it was much more than that. It was a great sermon and did more to make people hate slavery than any other book ever written.

"Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe

It was read by hundreds and thousands of people, and soon the fame of it spread to every country in Europe, and it was translated into at least twenty languages. And even to-day when the work it was meant to do is done, hundreds of boys and girls still laugh at Topsy and feel very choky indeed over the fate of poor old Uncle Tom.



IN 1853 Fillmore's term of office came to an end and Franklin Pierce became President. He was only forty-eight, and was the youngest President who had been elected so far.


He was the son of a soldier who had fought in the Mexican War. But by profession he was a lawyer and not a soldier.


During the administration of Pierce another territory was added to the United States. This was a strip of land which now forms the south of New Mexico and Arizona. It was bought from Mexico in 1854 and, as James Gadsden arranged the treaty with the President of Mexico, it was called the Gadsden Purchase. With this purchase the territory of the United States as we know it to-day was completed. Only seventy years had passed since the Peace of Paris. But in these seventy years the country had made mighty strides and had been doubled and trebled. Instead of being merely a strip of land east of the Mississippi it now stretched from ocean to ocean.

The Gadsden Purchase, 1854

The chief interest in this administration was still the slavery question. It had not been settled as some people thought it had been. But it slept, at least, until suddenly a senator names Douglas awoke it again by bringing in a bill to do away with the Missouri Compromise Line.

Stephen A. Douglas, 1813-61

There was still a great deal of territory of the Louisiana Purchase waiting to be carved into states. Now said Douglas, "why make all this fuss about slavery or no slavery every time a new state wants to be admitted? Do away with this Missouri Compromise, and when there are enough people in a territory to allow of its being admitted as a state, let these people themselves decide whether they wish it to be a free state or a slave state."


The bill which Douglas brought in thus to do away with the Missouri Compromise was known as the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, as Douglas suggested calling the great unorganised territory Nebraska in the north and Kansas in the South.

The Kansas-Nebraska Bill, 1854

Douglas was a Northern man, but he wanted to please the Southerners, and get them to vote for him as President. So he brought in this bill. It met with fierce opposition from the North, but it passed. The President alone had power to stop it. But he did not use his power.


Douglas had brought in the bill to make himself popular. But he made a great mistake. All over the North he was hated and cursed because of it. In town after town he was hanged in effigy, and then burned with every mark of scorn. He was reviled as a Judas, and some women living in a little Northern village sent him thirty pieces of silver.


In spite of this bill the Northerners were determined that slavery should not be extended. So even before the President had signed it men were hurring westward into Kansas. Claims were staked out, trees were felled, and huts built as if by magic. Settlers streamed in by hundreds every day. Some came of themselves, others were sent by societies got up to help settlers, and by the end of the year, two or three towns were founded.

The struggle for Kansas

But the slave holders were just as determined to make Kansas a slave state. So from Missouri, which was a slave state and bordered upon the Kansas Territory, thousands of slave owners came over the border and settled in Kansas.


They too founded several towns, and there began a fierce struggle for the upper hand.


March 30th, 1855 was appointed by the Governor for the election of a council and House of Representatives for the Territory.


The "Free Staters" were ready to vote in force. But the election was a farce. For when the day came, five thousand Missourians marched across the border. They were a wild, sunburned, picturesque mob. They had guns on their shoulders, revolvers stuck in their belts and bowie knives in their big top boots.

Election Day

They took possession of the polling booths, and if the judges would not do as they wished, they were turned out.


"Do you live in Kansas?" asked a judge


"Yes, I do," replied the Missourian, without a moment's hesitation.


"Does your family live in Kansas?" asked the judge, who knew the man was not speaking the truth.


"It is none of your business," replied the Missourian. "If you don't keep your impertinence to yourself, I'll knock your head from your shoulders."


So the judge gave it up, and every one who liked voted.


There were not three thousand voters in the Territory, but over six thousand votes were recorded, three-quarters of them being those unlawful votes of the Missourians. Thus said a learned gentleman, "It has been maintained by the sharp logic of the revolver and the bowie knife, that the people of Missouri are the people of Kansas!"


The Governor of Kansas was named Reeder. His sympathy was with the South. But he was an honest man, and when he saw the lawless way in which the Missourians were behaving, he resolved to see justice done. And although they threatened to hang him, he ordered new elections in the seven districts which dared to make a protest. But the new elections made little difference. Owing to the fact that so many of the people were disputing its result, this election did not settle the question whether Kansas were to be admitted as a slave or a free state, and it still remained a Territory. And as soon as the legislature met, the "Free State" members were promptly unseated, and the others had things all their own way.

Andrew H. Reeder;

The laws which this legislature drew up with regard to slaves were quite out of keeping with the needs and desires of free America.


If any person were to entice a slave away from his master they were to suffer death. If they hid and protected a slave, they might be imprisoned with hard labour for five years or more. And if any person declared that Kansas was not a slave territory, they were to be imprisoned with hard labour for at least two years.


These were only a few of the laws. But the Governor vetoed them all. That is, he refused to pass them, veto coming from a Latin word meaning "I forbid." This made the slave party angry and they asked the President to remove Reeder and send a new Governor. This the President had power to do, as Kansas was still only a Territory and not a state.

he vetoes the new Kansas laws

The President was now quite on the side of the slave owners. So a new Governor was sent, but the struggle went on just as before. Both sides began to arm, and at length it came to bloodshed.


The town of Lawrence, which was a Free State town, was sacked by a mob of ruffians, and civil war in Kansas was begun.

Civil War in Kansas

In Kansas there was an old man named John Brown. He was a fierce old Puritan, and he believed that God had called him to fight slavery. And the only way of fighting it that he thought possible was to slay the slave-holders.

John Brown

A few days after the sacking of Lawrence he set off with his sons and one or two others to teach the slave-holders a lesson. Blood had been spilled by them, and he was determined that for every free state man who had been murdered he would have the life of a slave-holder in revenge.


So in the dead of night he and his band attacked the farms of sleeping men, and, dragging them from their beds, slew them in cold blood. Before day dawned six or seven men had been thus slain.


When the Free Staters heard of this deed they were shocked. But it roused the Border Ruffians to fury. Armed companies of both sides marched through the country, and when they met, there was bloodshed. For three years Kansas was in a state of disorder and riot. Governor after governor came with friendly feelings to the South. But when they saw the actions of the slave party they resigned rather than support such injustice.


At length the slave party nearly gained their end, but they were defeated. They were defeated by Douglas, that same man who had caused the Missouri Compromise to be done away with. Then he had blackened his name, now he redeemed it.

Douglas redeems his name

The President was ready to use all his power to force the admission of Kansas as a slave state. Douglas warned him to beware, and when the President persisted, he rose in his place, and made such a wonderful speech that the bill introduced by the slave-holders was defeated. And when at length Kansas was admitted to the Union, it was admitted as a free state.

Kansas admitted to the Union, 1861


THE President whom Douglas defied over the question of Kansas was not Pierce, for in 1857 his term of office came to an end and James Buchanan was elected as President. Like Pierce, he was a "Northern man with Southern principles," and he threw his lot with the slave-holders.


Like Pierce, he was a lawyer, and in ordinary times might have made a good President and have left an honoured name behind him. But he came into power at a most difficult and dangerous time. He was not big enough or strong enough for the task. And so his name is less honoured perhaps than that of any other President.


Besides Kansas, two more states were admitted into the Union during Buchanan's term of office. These were Minnesota in 1858 and Oregon in 1859. They both became states while the struggle over Kansas was going on. For in them there was no trouble over the slavery question, and they were both admitted as free states. Minnesota was part of the Louisiana Purchase together with the last little corner of the North-West Territory. Oregon was part of the Oregon country. These with Kansas now made thirty-four states. So there were now thirty-four stars in the flag.

Minnesota admitted to the Union, in 1858; Oregon, 1859

It was at this time that what is known as the Mormon War took place.


Mormonism was a new religion founded by Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith was a shiftless, idle, jovial fellow, one of a large family as shiftless and idle as himself. He was very ignorant, but he had a wonderful imagination, and he could never tell the simplest happening of his everyday life without making a great story out of it.

Joseph Smith, 1805-44;

When he grew to be a man he began to dream dreams and see visions, and at length he declared that a messenger from heaven had shown him where to find a golden book. No one else saw this golden book, because Smith had been warned by the angel that great punishment would fall upon him if he showed it to any one. He was, however, allowed to make a "translation" of what was written in the book. This he did, publishing it as "The Book of the Mormons" or "The Golden Bible." But it seems very likely that part of this so-called translation was really copied from a story written by a man named Spaulding which had never been published. A great deal of it was, however, copied from the Bible.

finds "The Golden Bible," 1827;

it is published, 1830

Smith, who was at this time living in the State of New York, now declared that the religion which had been revealed to him was the only true religion. He founded a Church of which he was head or "prophet" and under him were twelve apostles and other dignitaries. A few people soon joined him and gradually their numbers increased until at last they numbered several thousand.


They now became a community by themselves, they moved about from place to place, and at length settled in Illinois where they built a city called Nauvoo.


Smith had many revelations. If he wanted a horse or cart he had a revelation saying that it was to be given to him. If he wanted his followers to do anything, again he had a revelation saying it was to be done. So he ruled like an autocrat and did whatever he chose. And while at Nauvoo he had a revelation which said it was quite lawful for men to marry as many wives as they wanted.

Smith's Revelations;

Soon the people of Illinois began to dislike the Latter-day Saints, as they called themselves. For they stole horses and cattle and all sorts of things belonging to other settlers. And once anything was stolen by the Mormons, it was impossible to get it back. For if a stranger went to their city, and showed by his questions that he had come to look for something he had lost, he soon found himself followed by a Mormon who silently whittled a stick with a long sharp knife. Soon the man would be joined by another, also whittling a stick with a long knife. Then another and another would silently join the procession, until the stranger could stand it no longer and hastily departed homeward.

The whittlers

So as time went on the people grew more and more angry with the Mormons. And at length their anger burst into fury, and Smith and one of his brothers were lynched by the mob.

Smith killed, 1844

The Mormons were greatly cast down at the death of their Prophet, but they soon found a new leader in Brigham Young, one of the twelve apostles.

Brigham Young

But this change of leader brought no peace between the Mormons and their neighbours. Complaints of theft grew more and more frequent. Both sides went about armed, murders were committed, and the settlers burned many of the Mormon farms.


At length the whole of the Mormons were expelled from Illinois, and one March day a great caravan started westward. Slowly day by day they moved onward through unknown wildernesses, making a road for themselves, and building bridges as they went, and only after long trials and hardships they reached the Great Salt Lake.

Mormons expelled from Illinois

The land around was treeless and desolate, and the ground so hard that when they tried to plough it the ploughshare broke. Yet they decided to make their dwelling-place amid this desolation, and in 1847 the building of Salt Lake City was begun.

Salt Lake City founded, 1847

At the beginning, troubles and trials were many. But with hard work and skilful irrigation the desert disappeared, and fertile fields and fair gardens took its place.


The Mormons now laid claim to a great tract of land and called it the State of Deseret. And over this state Brigham Young ruled supreme.

Brigham Young, Governor of Utah

In 1850, however, the United States organized it as a territory and changed the name to Utah. Utah is an Indian word meaning Mountain Home. Of this territory Brigham Young was Governor, but other non-Mormon officials were sent from Washington. Very soon there was trouble between the Mormons and these non-Mormon officials and, one after another, they returned to Washington saying that it was useless for them to remain in Utah. For with Brigham Young as governor it was impossible to enforce the laws of the United States, and that their lives even were in danger.


But when there was talk of removing Young from the post of Governor he was indignant. "I am and will be Governor," he said, "and no power can hinder it until the Lord Almighty says, 'Brigham, you need not be Governor any longer.'"


The Mormons were indignant at the false reports, as they considered them, of their doings which were spread abroad in the East. So they asked the President to send one or two visitors "to look about them and see what they can see, and return and report."


But instead of sending visitors President Buchanan appointed a new Governor, and sent a body of troops to Utah.


Thus began what is called the Mormon War. But there was never a battle fought. Although at first the Mormons prepared to resist, they changed their minds. And the Government troops marched into Salt Lake City without resistance. They found the city deserted, as nearly all the inhabitants had fled away. They soon returned, however, and "peace" was restored. But the submission was only one in form, and for many a long day there was trouble between the Government and the Territory of Utah.

The Mormon War, 1857

Besides the main body of Mormons who founded Salt Lake City there is another band, followers of Joseph Smith's eldest son also called Joseph. They broke away from the first Mormons because they did not think it right to marry more than one wife, nor could they believe in all that "the prophet" taught his followers. Their chief city is Lamoni in Iowa where they live quiet industrious lives and are greatly respected by their neighbours.


This religion, founded so strangely, has spread very rapidly. In 1830 the church had only six members. To-day there are more than three hundred thousand Mormons in the world, most of whom are in the United States.



MEANWHILE a great man was coming into power. This was Abraham Lincoln. He was the son of very poor people and his earliest days were spent in the utmost poverty and want. His home in Kentucky was a wretched little log cabin without doors or windows, and the bare earth for a floor. But in spite of his miserable and narrow surroundings Lincoln grew up to be a great, broad-minded loveable man.


He was very anxious to learn, and he taught himself nearly all he knew, for in all his life he had only two or three months of school. The few books he could lay hands on he read again and again till he almost knew them by heart.


Lincoln grew to be a great, lanky, hulking boy. He had the strongest arm and the tenderest heart in the countryside, and was so upright in all his dealings that he earned the name of Honest Abe.

Honest Abe

Everybody loved the ungainly young giant with his sad face and lovely smile, and stock of funny stories.


He began early to earn his living, and was many things in turn. He did all sorts of farm work, he split rails and felled trees. He was a storekeeper for a time, then a postmaster, a surveyor, a soldier. But none of these contented him; he was always struggling towards something better.


While keeping shop he began to study law, and when he was not weighing out pounds of tea and sugar he had his head deep in some dry book. While trying his hand at other jobs, too, he still went on studying law, and at length he became a lawyer.


Even before this he had taken great interest in politics and had sat in the Illinois House of Representatives, and at length in 1846 he was elected to Congress.

Lincoln goes to Congress;

But he only served one term in the House, after which he returned to his law business and seemed for a time to lose interest in politics.


But the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill aroused him again. As a boy he had been to New Orleans. There he had seen the slave market. He had seen negro parents parted from their children, and sold to different masters. He had seen them chained like criminals, beaten and treated worse than beasts of burden, and from these sights he had turned away with an aching heart. "Boys," he said, to his companions, "let's get away from this. If ever I get a chance to hit that thing, I'll hit it hard."


And he did not forget what he had seen; the memory of it was a constant torment and a misery to him. And now the chance had come, and he hit "that thing" hard.


He challenged Douglas, the author of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, to go round the country with him and make speeches on the great subject of the day: Douglas to take one side of the question and Lincoln the other. It was a bold thing to do, for Douglas was considered the greatest speaker of the time, and Lincoln was scarcely known. But the speeches made Lincoln famous and henceforth many of the men in the North looked upon him as their leader. He wanted to have slavery done away with, but above all he loved his country. "A house divided against itself," he said, "cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure half-slave, half-free. I do not expect the Union to be divided. I do not expect the House to fall. But I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other."

he stumps the country with Douglas, 1858;

Here highly resolve that these dead shall not have
died in vain–that this nation, under God, shall
have a new birth of freedom–and that government
of the people, by the people, for the people,
shall not perish from the earth.

He had no bitterness against the South, for he loved his whole country, South as well as North. It was slavery he hated, not the slave-holders. But the slave-holders hated him and his ideas. So when in November, 1860, Lincoln was chosen President the Southern States declared that they would not submit to be ruled by him.


As you know, the new President is always chosen some months before the end of the last President's term. Lincoln was thus chosen in November, 1860, but did not actually become President till March, 1861.

chosen President, 1860

So with Buchanan still President, several of the Southern States declared themselves free from the Union. South Carolina led the rebellion. Amid great excitement, a new declaration of independence was read, and union with the other states was declared to be at an end.

Southern States secede, 1860-1;

The example of South Carolina was soon followed. Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas all declared their union with the States at an end. They then joined together. And calling themselves the Confederate States, they elected a President, drew up a Constitution, and made ready to seize the Union forts and arsenals.

form the Confederate States, 1861

Meanwhile President Buchanan knew not what to do. He tried to steer both ways at once. He said the Southern States had no right to break away from the Union, but he also said that the Government had no power to force them to return. In reality, however, his heart was with the South, and he believed that the Southerners had just cause for anger. So the Southerners soon came to believe that the President would let them go their own way. Some of the Northerners, too, thought a division would be a good thing, or at least that disunion was better than war. "Let the slave states depart in peace," they said. But others would not hear of that, and were ready to fight to the last if only the Union might be preserved.

Buchanan's dilemma

The country was fast drifting towards war; and soon the first shot was fired. Charleston, the harbour of South Carolina, was guarded by two forts, Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter. Fort Moultrie was large, needing about seven hundred men to guard it properly, and Major Anderson, who was in command, had only sixty men under him. So, seeing that the people of South Carolina were seizing everything they could, and finding that the President would send him no help, he drew off his little force to Fort Sumter which could be more easily defended.

Fort Sumter;

Again and again Major Anderson asked for more men, and at length an ordinary little passenger vessel was sent with two hundred and fifty men. But when the little ship steamed into Charleston harbour the Southerners fired upon it. And as it had no guns on board or any means of defence it turned and sped back whence it had come. Thus the first shots in the Civil War were fired.

relief ships fired upon, Jan. 9th, 1861


IN the midst of all this confusion the new President took his seat. The Southerners were so angry that it was feared that Lincoln would never be allowed to become President at all, but would be killed on his way to Washington. Yet he himself felt no fear, and he journeyed slowly from his home to Washington, stopping at many places, and making many speeches on the way. Day by day, however, his friends grew more and more anxious. Again and again they begged him to change his plans and go to Washington by some other way. But Lincoln would not listen to their entreaties. At length, however, they became so insistent that he yielded to them.

Fears for the President

So instead of proceeding as he had intended, he left his party secretly, and with one friend turned back, and went to Washington by a different route. The telegraph wires were cut, so that had any traitor noticed this change of plan he could not tell his fellow conspirators. Thus, all unknown, Lincoln stole silently into the capital during the night. And great was the astonishment both of friend and foe when it was discovered that he was there.


Almost the first thing Lincoln had to do was to send relief to Major Anderson at Fort Sumter. So vessels were laden with food and sent off to the gallant little band.

Relief for Fort Sumter

But as soon as the Southerners heard the news they determined to take the fort before help could arrive. Soon a terrible bombardment began. Half a hundred cannon roared against the fort, shells screamed and fell, and the walls were quickly shattered. The barracks took fire, and after two days it became utterly impossible to resist longer.

The fort falls April 14th

So Major Anderson yielded, and with his brave company marched out with all the honours of war.


War was now begun in real earnest, although strange to say, in spite of the terrific firing, not a life had been lost on either side.


Both North and South now began to arm. But when the President called for troops four states scornfully refused to obey. These were Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia, and instead of gathering troops to help the Government they joined the Confederates. Richmond, Virginia, was chosen as the capital and Jefferson Davis was made President of the Confederacy, which included eleven states.


In the west of Virginia, however, the people were loyal to the Union and it was here that the first great battles of the war were fought.


Life in this part of Virginia which lay beyond the Alleghanies was very different from life in Eastern Virginia. Western Virginia was not a land suitable for slaves, and for a long time the people had desired to part from Eastern Virginia. Now during the war they had their wish, and West Virginia became a separate state. In June, 1863, it was admitted to the Union as the thirty-fifth state.

West Virginia admitted to the Union, 1863

The war which had now begun was the most terrible ever fought on American soil. For far more even than the War of Independence, it was a war of kindred. It made enemies of comrades and brothers. Men who had been dear friends suddenly found themselves changed into ruthless enemies, families even were divided against each other.


For four years this bitter war lasted, and counting all battles great and small there were at least two thousand, so we cannot attempt to follow the whole course of the great struggle.


The first blood was shed, strangely enough, on the anniversary of the battle of Lexington. On that day some Massachusetts soldiers were passing through Baltimore, when they were attacked by the mob. Pistols were fired from the houses, paving stones and bricks flew about. Several of the soldiers were killed, many more were wounded; and to protect themselves they fired on the mob, several of whom were killed also.

19th April, 1861

The greatest leader on the Federal side was General Ulysses S. Grant, and next to him came William T. Sherman and Philip H. Sheridan. But it was not until the war had been going on for some time that these soldiers came to the front, and at first all the fortune was on the side of the South.

Grant, Sherman, Sheridan

General Albert S. Johnston was commander-in-chief of the Southern army but the two most famous Southern leaders were Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson. Jackson is best known by the nickname of Stonewall, which he received at Bull Run in West Virginia, the first great battle of the war.

Lee, Jackson

It seemed as if the Federals were winning the battle, and some of the Confederates were driven backward. But Jackson and his men stood solid.

Bull Run, July 21st, 1861

"See!" cried a general, "there is Jackson standing like a stone wall!" Thus Jackson got a new name, and the Confederates won the day.


"It was one of the best planned battles of the war," said Sherman afterwards, "but one of the worst fought. Both armies were fairly defeated, and whichever stood fast the other would have run."


Less than three weeks after Bull Run, the Federals met with another disaster at Wilson's Creek in Missouri. Here, after a desperate and gallant fight, they were defeated, and General Nathaniel Lyon, their brave leader, was killed.

Battle of Wilson's Creek, 9th Aug.

These defeats were a great shock to the Federals. For they had thought that the war would be a short affair of three months or so, and that the Southern revolt would be easily put down. Now they knew themselves mistaken, and pulling themselves together, prepared for a long and bitter struggle.


For some months, however, after Bull Run and Wilson's Creek no battle of importance was fought. Then in the beginning of 1862 the war was carried into Kentucky where a stern fight for the great navigable rivers which flow through the state began. For just as in the War of Independence the holding of the Hudson Valley had been of importance so now the holding of the Mississippi Valley was of importance. If the Mississippi from Cairo to New Orleans could be strongly held by the Federals, the Confederacy would be cut in two, and thus greatly weakened. "The Mississippi," said Lincoln, "is the backbone of the rebellion; it is the key of the whole situation.

Importance of Mississippi Valley

But to get possession of this key was no easy matter. Early in February two forts on the river Tennessee were taken by the Federals under General Grant. Then they marched upon Fort Donelson, a large and very strong fort on the Cumberland river. At the same time Commander Andrew H. Foote sailed up the river with a little fleet of seven gunboats to assist the army.

Andrew H. Foote, 1806-63

The weather was bitterly cold, and as the soldiers lay round the fort tentless and fireless, a pitiless wind blew, chilling them to the bone, and making sleep impossible. Foote with his gunboats had not yet arrived, but in the morning the attack on land was begun. Up the hill to the fort the Federals swept, only to be driven back by the fierce Confederate fire. Again and again they charged. Again and again they were driven back, leaving the hillside strewn with dead and dying. At length the dry leaves which covered the hillside took fire. Choked by the smoke, scorched by the flames the men could advance no more, and they sullenly retreated for the last time. The attack had failed.

Fort Donelson attacked, 13th Feb.

That night the gunboats arrived, and soon the bombardment from the river began. But the firing from the fort was so fierce and well placed that before long two of the boats were disabled, and floated helplessly down the stream, and the others too withdrew till they were out of range of the Confederate guns.


There was joy that night in Fort Donelson. By land and water the Federals had been repulsed. The Confederates felt certain of victory.


But the Federals were by no means beaten, and next morning they renewed the fight as fiercely as ever. Yet again the Confederates swept all before them, and the right wing of the Federal army was driven from its position and scattered in flight. Victory for the Confederates seemed certain.


During this fight Grant had not been with the troops, for he had gone down the river to consult with Foote, who had been wounded the day before. About noon he returned, and when he heard of the disaster his face flushed hotly. But he was a man who rarely lost his temper, or betrayed his feelings. For a minute he was silent, crushing some papers he held in his hand. Then in his usual calm voice he said, "Gentlemen, the position on the right must be retaken."


And retaken it was.


General Charles F. Smith led the assault. He was an old soldier who had fought under Zachary Taylor in Texas where "Smith's light battalion" had become famous. White haired now, but still handsome and erect, he rode this day in front of his troops, once and again turning his head to cheer them onward. Bullets whizzed and screamed about him, but he heeded them not.

Charles F. Smith, 1807-62

"I was nearly scared to death," said one of his men afterwards, "but I saw the old man's white moustache over his shoulder, and went on."


Hotter and hotter grew the fire, and the men hesitated and wavered. But the old general knew no fear. Placing his cap on the end of his sword, he waved it aloft.


"No flinching now, my lads," he cried. "This is the way. Come on!"


And on they came, inspired by the fearless valour of the old soldier. And when at length they had triumphantly planted their colours on the lost position, no efforts of the enemy could dislodge them.


Meanwhile another division under General Lew Wallace dashed up another hill with splendid élan, and when night fell, although the fort was still untaken, it was at the mercy of the attackers.

Lew Wallace, 1827-1905

Supperless and fireless, the Federals cheerfully bivouacked upon the field, for they well knew that the morrow would bring them victory. But within the fort there was gloom. Nothing was left but surrender. It would be impossible to hold out even for half an hour, said General Buckner, the best soldier, although the youngest of the three generals in command. The other two generals agreed, but declared that they would not stay to be made prisoner. So in the night they silently crept away with their men.


Early next morning General Buckner, left alone in command, wrote to Grant proposing a truce in order to arrange terms of surrender.


Grant's answer was short and sharp. "No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted," he said.


Bitter indeed were the feelings of the Confederate leader when he received this reply. But there was nothing left to him but to accept the terms. He was hopelessly outnumbered, and to fight longer would only mean the throwing away of brave lives uselessly. So he accepted what seemed to him the "ungenerous and unchivalrous terms" which Grant proposed, and surrendered the fort with all its guns and great stores of ammunition, and fourteen thousand men.

Fort Donelson surrendered, 16th Feb.

Up to this time Grant had hardly been heard of. He was a soldier indeed, and had fought in the Mexican War. But eight years before the outbreak of the rebellion he had left the army. During these years he had tried in many ways to make a living, but had succeeded in none, and at the beginning of the war he was almost a ruined man. Now he became famous, and his short and sharp "unconditional surrender" was soon a watchword in the Northern army. His initials too being U. S. he became henceforth known as Unconditional Surrender Grant.



THERE was fighting too on sea as well as on land. The South sent out privateers to catch the merchant vessels of the North, and so bring ruin on their trade. But Lincoln replied by proclaiming a blockade of all Confederate ports.

The privateers

This was a bold thing to do, for the coast to be watched was some three thousand miles long, and the Government had less than fifty ships to blockade it with. When the blockade was proclaimed, too, many of these ships were far away in foreign lands. The greatest navy yard, also, at Norfolk in Virginia, was in the hands of the Confederates, and was therefore not available for the building of new ships.

The blockade

So at first the blockade amounted to little. But by degrees it took effect. Ships that had been far away returned, others of all sorts and sizes were bought, still others were built with the utmost speed.


Slowly but surely the iron hand of the North gripped the commerce of the South, and before the end of the war the Southern ports were shut off from all the world.


This was a disaster for the Southerners, for they depended almost entirely on their cotton trade with Europe. Now the cotton rotted on the wharves. There were no factories in the South, for manufactures could not be carried on with slave labour. So the Southerners depended entirely on the outside world for clothes, boots, blankets, iron, and all sorts of war material. Now they were cut off from the outside world, and could get none of these things.


But the Southerners did not meekly submit to be cut off from the world. They had hardly any ships of any kind, and none at all meant for war. But they had possession of the Government navy yard at Norfolk. There they found a half-finished frigate, and they proceeded to finish her, and turn her into an ironclad. When finished she was an ugly looking, black monster with sloping sides and a terrible iron beak, and she was given the name of the Merrimac.

The Merrimac;

At this time there were only about three ironclads in all the world. They belonged to Britain and to France, and had never yet been used in naval warfare. So when this ugly black monster appeared among the wooden ships of the North she created frightful havoc. It was one day in March that the black monster appeared in Hampton Roads where there was a little fleet of five Federal warships.


The Federal ships at once opened fire upon the uncouth thing. But to their surprise their shots fell harmlessly from its sides, and paying no heed to their guns it made straight for the Cumberland, and struck her such a terrible blow with her sharp beak that she sank with all on board. She went down gallantly flying her flag to the last.

The Cumberland is sunk, March 8, 1862

The Merrimac then turned upon another ship named the Congress. The struggle between a wooden vessel and an ironclad was a hopeless one from the beginning. But the Congress put up a splendid fight, and only when the ship was afire did she give in.

The Congress is set on fire

It was dusk by now and the terrible Merrimac sheered off leaving the Congress a blazing wreck.


The Federals were filled with consternation. This horrible strange vessel would certainly return with daylight. And what chance had any wooden ship against it?


But help was near.


The Government also had been busy ship-building. A Swede named Ericsson had invented a new vessel which would resist cannon. This ship was just finished, and came into Hampton Roads almost immediately after the battle with the Merrimac. And when the Commander heard the news he took up his position beside the burning Congress, and waited for dawn.

John Ericsson

This new vessel was called the Monitor, and a stranger vessel was never seen afloat. Its hull, which was ironclad, hardly showed above the water, and in the middle there was a large round turret. It looked, said those who saw it, more like a cheesebox on a raft than anything else.

The Monitor

Like a tiger hungry for prey the Merrimac came back next morning. The captain expected an easy victory, but to his surprise he found this queer little cheesebox between him and his victims. He would soon do for the impertinent little minnow, he thought, and he opened fire. But his shells might have been peas for all the effect they had, and the Monitor steamed on unhurt, until she was close to the Merrimac. Then she fired.

The battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac

A tremendous duel now began which lasted three hours. The lumbering Merrimac tried to run down her enemy, but the quick little Monitor danced round and round, turning the turret now this way, now that, and firing how she pleased, like a terrier yapping at a maddened bull. And at length the Merrimac gave up the tussle, and sailed away.


This was the first battle ever fought between ironclads and it has been called a draw. But after all the honours were with the little Monitor, for she forced her big opponent to run away.


It might almost be said that this battle saved the Union, for it showed the Confederates that they would not have it all their own way on sea, and that if they were building ironclads the Federals were building them also. And indeed the Government built ships so fast that by the end of the war, instead of having only about forty they had over six hundred ships, many of them ironclad.



WITH Grant other successes soon followed the taking of Fort Donelson, and many places both in Kentucky and Tennessee fell into the hands of the Federals.


By the beginning of April Grant with an army of forty thousand men lay at Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River. At Corinth, about thirty miles to the south, the Confederates were gathered in equal force. But although the Confederates were so near and in such force the Federals took no heed. They had of late won so many easy victories that they had begun to think lightly of the foe. So no attempt was made to protect the Union army. No trenches were dug, and but few scouts were sent out to watch the movements of the enemy. The Confederate leader, General Johnston, therefore determined to creep up stealthily, and attack the Federals where they lay in fancied security.

Grant at Pittsburg Landing

As secretly as possible he left Corinth, and marched towards Pittsburg Landing. The weather had been wet, the roads were deep in mud, but in spite of dreadful difficulties for two days the army toiled silently on. At length on the night of Saturday the 5th of April they arrived within four miles of the Federal lines.


Here they halted for the night. The men had brought no tents, they dared light no fires lest they should be seen by the foe. So, weary, wet, and shivering they lay on the cold damp ground, awaiting the dawn, while secure in the comfortable shelter of their tents the Federals slept peacefully. So secure indeed did Grant feel his position to be that he was not with his army that night, but at Savannah some miles distant.


At daybreak the Federal camp was astir. Men were washing and dressing, some were cooking or eating breakfast, most of the officers were still abed, when suddenly the sound of shots broke the Sunday stillness, and the wild "rebel yell" rent the air.

First battle of Shiloh, April 6th

A moment later the surrounding woods seemed to open and pour forth an army. With tremendous dash the Confederates flung themselves upon the half dressed, weaponless crowd of men who fled before them, or were bayoneted before they could seize their muskets. Thus the greatest battle that as yet had been fought on the continent of America was begun.


Soon the roar of cannon reached Grant at Savannah. He knew at once that a fierce battle had begun, and flinging himself on his horse he hurried back to the camp. At eight o'clock in the morning he arrived. But already it seemed as if his army was defeated. It was, however, to be no easy victory for the Confederates. Many of the Federals were only raw recruits, but after the first surprise and flight they rallied repeatedly, making many a stubborn stand against the onslaught of the foe, which from the first great charge of early dawn till darkness fell never seemed to slacken.


In many coloured uniforms, with many coloured pennons waving over them, the Confederates charged again and yet again. And with each charge the air was rent with their wild yell, which could be heard far and wide, even above the roar of the cannon. Bit by bit the Union army was pressed back. They fought doggedly as they went while from division to division rode Grant cheering them, directing them, urging them to greater and ever greater efforts.


Some of the fiercest fighting raged round the little log meeting house called Shiloh, and from this meeting house the battle takes its name. Sherman commanded here, and he held his untried men together with marvellous skill, handling them as no other commander on the field could have done, said Grant later.


On the Confederate side through the thickest of the battle rode Johnston. More than once his horse was shot under him, and his clothes were torn to pieces, but still through the fray he rode unharmed. At length a ball hit him in the thigh. He paid no heed. Still his tall soldierly figure dominated the battle, still his ringing voice cheered on his men. Then suddenly the voice grew faint, the tall figure bent, and a deathly whiteness overspread his cheeks.


"General, are you wounded?" asked one of his officers, anxiously.


"Yes," he answered, faintly, "and I fear badly."


They were his last words. Gently he was lifted from his horse and laid on the ground, and in a few minutes he died.

Death of Johnston

When the sun went down the Confederates claimed the victory. But if victory it was it was too dearly bought with the death of their commander-in-chief. Nor did the Federals own themselves beaten. They were dumbfounded and bleeding, but not shattered. They felt that the struggle was not over, and still facing each other the weary armies lay down to rest on the field, under the lashing rain, each side well aware that with the morrow would come the decisive contest.


All through the night the guns from the river boomed and crashed, and rain fell in torrents, adding to the discomforts of the wearied men, making sleep almost impossible.


When day dawned rain still fell in a cold and dismal drizzle. The Federals, however, rose cheerfully, for the inspiriting news that twenty-five thousand fresh troops had arrived ran through the lines. Before the sun had well risen the battle began again, but now the advantage was on the Federal side.

Second Battle of Shiloh, April 7th

The Confederates fought bravely still. To and fro rode General Beauregard cheering on his men, but step by step they were driven backward, and by noon were in full retreat. Then as the Federals realized that the day was theirs cheer after cheer went up from their lines.


The second day's fighting had turned the battle of Shiloh into a victory for the Union, although not a decisive one. On the same day, however, the navy captured a strongly fortified island on the Mississippi called Island Number Ten, with its garrison of seven thousand men and large stores of guns and ammunition. This considerably increased the force of the victory of Shiloh, and gave the Federals control of the Mississippi Valley from Cairo to Memphis.


Meanwhile command of the lower Mississippi had also been wrested from the Confederates by General Benjamin F. Butler in command of the army, and Commander David Glasgow Farragut in command of the fleet.


Captain Farragut who was already sixty-three at this time was a Southerner by birth, but he had never faltered in his allegiance to the Union. "Mind what I tell you," he said to his brother officers, when they tried to make him desert his flag, "you fellows will catch the devil before you get through with this business." And so unshaken was his faith that he was trusted with the most important naval expedition of the war, the taking of New Orleans.

David G. Farragut, 1801-70

New Orleans is about a hundred miles from the mouth of the Mississippi and the Confederates, who were aware even more than the Federals of the importance of the great waterway, had from the very beginning done their utmost to secure it. Seventy-five miles below New Orleans two forts named Jackson and St. Phillips guarded the approaches to the city. These the Confederates had enormously strengthened, and had stretched a great chain between them from bank to bank, to prevent the passage of hostile ships. They had also gathered a fleet of ironclads and gunboats further to defend the city.


But in spite of all these defenses the Federals determined to take New Orleans and on the 18th of April the Union ships began to bombard the forts. The Confederates replied fiercely, and for four days the sky seemed ablaze and the earth shook. Then having succeeded in cutting the chain across the river Farragut determined to sail past the fort and take New Orleans.

The bombardment of the forts

At two o'clock in the morning the ships began to move. The night was dark but very still and clear, and soon the noise of slipping anchor cables warned the enemy of what was afoot. Then a very hail of shot and shell fell upon the Federal boats. Burning fire ships too were sent down upon them, and the red light of battle lit up the darkness. Yet through the baptism of fire the vessels held on their way undaunted. The forts were passed, the Confederate fleet disabled and put to flight, and Farragut sailed unhindered up the river.


At his approach, New Orleans was seized with panic. Filled with a nameless fear women and children ran weeping through the streets, business of every kind was at a standstill. The men, mostly grey-haired veterans and boys, turned the keys in their office doors, and hurried to join the volunteer regiments, bent on fighting to the last for their beloved city. Thousands of bales of cotton were carried to the wharves, and there set on fire, lest they should fall into the hands of the enemy. Ships too were set on fire, and cast loose, till it seemed as if the whole river front was wrapped in flames. Thirty miles away the glare could be seen in the sky, and at the sight even strong men bowed their heads and wept. For they knew it meant that New Orleans had fallen, and that the Queen of Southern cities was a captive.

New Orleans taken

But there was no fighting, for General Lovell who was in command of the city marched away with his army as soon as the Union ships appeared. The citizens who were left were filled with impotent wrath and despair. They felt themselves betrayed. They had been assured that the city would fight to the last. Now their defenders had marched away leaving them to the mercy of the conqueror.


The streets were soon filled with a dangerous, howling cursing mob, many of them armed, all of them desperate. Yet calmly through it, as if on parade, marched two Federal officers, without escort or protection of any kind. The mob jostled them, shook loaded pistols in their faces, yelling and cursing the while. But the two officers marched on side by side unmoved, showing neither anger nor fear, turning neither to right nor to left until they reached the city hall, where they demanded the surrender of the city.


"It was one of the bravest deeds I ever saw done," said a Southerner, who as a boy of fourteen watched the scene.


By the taking of New Orleans Farragut won for himself great fame. His fame was all the greater because in his fleet he had none of the newly invented ironclads. With only wooden vessels he had fought and conquered. "It was a contest between iron hearts and wooden vessels, and iron clads with iron beaks, and the iron hearts won," said Captain Bailey who served in the expedition under Farragut.


After taking New Orleans Farragut sailed up the river and took Baton Rouge, the state capital. So at length the Federals had control of the whole lower river as far as Vicksburg. The upper river from Cairo was also secure to the Federals. Thus save for Vicksburg the whole valley was in their hands, and the Confederacy was practically cut in two.

Farragut takes Baton Rouge

But Vicksburg stood firm for the South. When called upon to surrender the governor refused. "I have to state," he said, "that Mississippians do not know, and refuse to learn, how to surrender to an enemy. If Commodore Farragut, or Brigadier General Butler, can teach them, let them come and try."


At the time soldiers enough could not be spared to help the fleet to take Vicksburg. So for the time being it was left alone.



THE Federals rejoiced greatly at the successes of Grant and the navy, and indeed they had need of success somewhere to keep up their spirits, for on the whole things did not go well. George McClellan was commander-in-chief, and although he drilled his army splendidly he never did anything with it. He was a wonderful organiser, but he was cautious to a fault, and always believed the enemy to be far stronger than he really was.

George McClellan, 1826-85

He was at last dismissed, and was succeeded by one commander-in-chief after another. Not none proved truly satisfactory. Indeed it was not until the last year of the war, when Ulysses Grant took command, that a really great commander-in-chief was found.


At the beginning of the war no matter who was leader the long campaigns in Virginia ended in failure for the Federals. On the Confederate side these campaigns were led first by Joseph E. Johnston, and then by the great soldier, Robert E. Lee.


Lee came of a soldier stock, being the youngest son of "Light Horse Harry Lee," who had won fame during the War of the Revolution. He was a noble, Christian gentleman, and when he made his choice, and determined to fight for the South, he believed he was fighting for the right.

Robert E. Lee, 1807-70

With Lee was Stonewall Jackson, his great "right hand," and perhaps a finer soldier than Lee himself. His men adored him as they adored no other leader. Like Cromwell he taught them to pray as well as to fight. He never went into battle without commending his way to God, and when he knelt long in prayer his men might feel certain that a great fight was coming. He was secret and swift in his movements, so swift that his troops were nicknamed "Jackson's foot cavalry." Yet he never wore his men out. He thought for them always, and however urgent haste might be he called frequent halts on his flying marches, and made the men lie down even if it were only for a few minutes.

"Stonewall" Jackson, 1824-63

To conquer such leaders, and the men devoted to them, was no easy matter, and it was not wonderful that the campaigns in Virginia marked few successes for the Federals. At length the long series of failures ended with a second, and for the Federals, disastrous, battle of Bull Run. This was followed two days later by the battle of Chantilly, after which the whole Federal army fell back to Washington.

Second battle of Bull Run, 19th Aug.; Chantilly, 1st Sept.;

Lee, rejoicing at his successes in Virginia, made up his mind then to invade Maryland, which state he believed would readily join the Confederacy. But he was disappointed. For if the Marylanders had not much enthusiasm for the Union cause they had still less for the Confederate, and the invaders were greeted with exceeding coldness. Their unfailing good fortune, too, seemed to forsake the Confederates, and the battle of Antietam, one of the fiercest of the war, although hardly a victory for the Federals, was equal to a defeat for the Confederates. For fourteen hours the carnage lasted, and when at length night put an end to the slaughter thousands lay dead on either side. Next day, having in a fortnight lost half his army, Lee withdrew once more into Virginia.

Antietam, 17th Sept.

Lincoln's chief object in carrying on the war was not to free slaves, but to save the Union.

Lincoln's chief object

"My first object is to save the Union," he wrote, "and not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slaves I would do it. If I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it. And if I could save it by freeing some, and leaving others alone I would also do that." Gradually, however, Lincoln began to believe that the only way to save the Union was to free the slaves.


Many people were impetuously urging him to do it. But Lincoln would do nothing rash. It was a tremendous step to take, and the question as to when would be the right moment to take it was, for him, one of tremendous importance. So he prepared his Proclamation of Emancipation and bided his time. Following his own good judgement and the advice of one of his Cabinet he resolved not to announce it so long as things were going badly with the North lest it should be looked upon as the last measure of an exhausted government, a cry for help. It was not to be sent forth into the world as "a last shriek in the retreat," but as a companion to victory.


But victory was slow in coming. At length the great battle was fought at Antietam. It was scarce a victory, for the Federals had lost more men than had the Confederates. Yet it had to pass for one. And a few days after it Lincoln issued his Proclamation of Emancipation. In this he declared that in every state which should be in arms against the Government on the 1st of January, 1863, the slaves should be free forever more. This gave the rebel states more than three months in which to lay down their arms and return to their allegiance.

Proclamation of Emancipation, 23rd Sept., 1862

Meanwhile the war went on. In November General Ambrose E. Burnside was appointed commander of the army of the Potomac. He accepted the post unwillingly, for he did not think himself great enough to fill it. It was soon proved that he was right.

Ambrose E. Burnside, 1824-81

On December 13th a great battle was fought at Fredericksburg in Virginia. The weather had been very cold and the ground was covered with frost and snow. But on the morning of the 13th, although a white mist shrouded the land, the sun shone so warmly that it seemed like a September day. Yet though the earth and sky alike seemed calling men to mildness and peace the deadly game of war went on.

Battle of Fredericksburg, Dec. 13th, 1862

The centre of the Confederate army occupied some high ground known as the Maryes Heights, and Burnside resolved to dislodge them. It was a foolhardy attempt, for the hill was strongly held, the summit of it bristled with cannon. Yet the order was given, and with unquestioning valour the men rushed to the attack. As they dashed onward the Confederate guns swept their ranks, and they were mowed down like hay before the reaper. Still they pressed onward, and after paying a fearful toll in dead and wounded they at length reached the foot of the hill. Here they were confronted by a stone wall so thick and strong that their fire had not the slightest effect on it, and from behind which the Confederates poured a deadly hail of bullets upon them.


Here the carnage was awful, yet still the men came on in wave after wave, only to melt away as it seemed before the terrible fire of the Confederates. "It was like snow coming down and melting on warm ground," said one of their leaders afterwards.


Never did men fling away their lives so bravely and so uselessly. A battery was ordered forward.


"General," said an officer, "a battery cannot live there."


"Then it must die there," was the answer.


And the battery was led out as dashingly as if on parade, although the men well knew that they were going to certain death.


At length the short winter's day drew to a close, and darkness mercifully put an end to the slaughter.


Then followed a night of pain and horror. The frost was intense, and out on that terrible hillside the wounded lay beside the dead, untended and uncared for, many dying from cold ere help could reach them. Still and white they lay beneath the starry sky while the general who had sent them to a needless death wrung his hands in cruel remorse. "Oh, those men, Oh, those men," he moaned, "those men over there. I am thinking of them all the time."

Burnside's remorse

Burnside knew that he had failed as a general, and in his grief and despair he determined to wipe out his failure by another attempt next day. But his officers well knew that this would only mean more useless sacrifice of life. With difficulty they persuaded him to give up the idea, and two days later the Federal army crossed the Rappahannock, and returned to their camp near Falmouth.


With this victory of Fredericksburg the hopes of the Confederates rose high. They believed that the war would soon end triumphantly for them, and that the South would henceforth be a separate republic. There was no need for them, they thought, to listen to the commands of the President of the North, and not one state paid any heed to Lincoln's demand that the slaves should be set free.


Nevertheless on New Year's Day, 1863, Lincoln signed the great Proclamation of Freedom.

Lincoln signs the Proclamation of Emancipation, Jan. 1st, 1863

He had first held a great reception, and had shaken hands with so many people that his right hand was trembling. "If they find my hand trembling," he said to the Secretary of State, as he took up his pen, "they will say, 'He hesitated,' but anyway it is going to be done."


Then very carefully and steadily he wrote his name. It was the greatest deed of his life. "If my name is ever remembered," he said, "it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it."


And thus slavery came to an end. From the beginning of the war there had been a danger that France and Britain might help the South. Lincoln had now made that impossible by making the war one against slavery as well as one for Union. For both France and Britain were against slavery, and could not well help those who now fought to protect it.


Now that they were free, many negroes entered the army. At this the Southerners were very angry, and declared that any negroes taken prisoners would not be regarded as soldiers, but simply as rebellious negroes, and would be punished accordingly. But in spite of their anger many black regiments were formed, and proved themselves good soldiers. And before the end of the war the Confederates, too, were making use of Negro Soldiery. But this was cutting the ground from under their own feet, and showing the injustice of slavery. For as a Southerner said, "If a negro is fit to be a soldier he is not fit to be a slave."

Negro troops


STILL the war went on, and still the North suffered many losses. Soon after the battle of Fredericksburg General Burnside resigned the command of the army of the Potomac. His place was taken by General Joseph Hooker, known to his men as "Fighting Joe." He was a tall and handsome man, brave, and dashing almost to rashness. "Beware of rashness, beware of rashness," said Lincoln, when he appointed him. "But with energy and sleepless vigilance go forward, and give us victories."

Joseph Hooker, 1814-79

But not even "Fighting Joe" could bring victory to the North at once. He found the army disheartened, dwindling daily by desertion, and altogether in something like confusion. He was, however, a splendid organiser, and in less than two months he had pulled the army together and once more made it a terrible fighting machine. He declared it to be the finest army in the world, and full of pride in his men, and pride in himself, he set out to crush Lee.


Near the tiny hamlet of Chancellorsville the two armies met, and the four days' fighting which followed is known as the battle of Chancellorsville.

Battle of Chancellorsville, 1st to 5th May, 1863

Everything seemed to favour the Federals. They had the larger army, they were encamped in a good position, and above all the men were full of admiration for, and trust in, 'Fighting Joe."


General Hooker's movements had been quick and sure, his plans well laid. But he had expected the enemy to "flee ingloriously" before him.


The enemy, however, did not flee, but showed a stubborn intention of fighting. Then Hooker's courage failed him. He seemed to lose his grip on things, and much to the surprise of his officers he left his high position and took a lower one.


"Great heavens," said General Meade, when he heard the order, "if we cannot hold the top of a hill we certainly cannot hold the bottom of it."


The first day of the battle passed without any great loss on either side. Night came, the fighting ceased, and the weary men lay down to rest. But for Lee and Jackson there was little sleep. Beneath a small clump of pine trees they sat on packing cases, with maps spread out before them. For Jackson was planning one of his quick and stealthy marches, intent on catching the Federals unawares where they least expected it. And Lee, seeing the indecision of the Federal leader, was nothing loath. He had grown bold even to rashness in proportion as Hooker had grown cautious.

Jackson plans his last great march

"What exactly do you propose to do?" asked Lee, as he studied the map.


"Go around here," replied Jackson, as with his finger he traced a line on the map which encircled the whole right wing of the Federal army.


"With what force do you propose to make this movement?" asked Lee.


"With my whole corps," answered Jackson.


General Lee thought for a few minutes in silence. Then he spoke.


"Well, go on," he said.


He knew that it was a great gamble. The Federal army was twice as large as his own and yet Jackson proposed to cut it in two, and place the whole Federal army between the two halves. If the movement failed it would be a terrible failure. If it succeeded it would be a great success. It was worth the risk. So he said, "Go on."


As for Jackson he had no doubts. At Lee's words he rose, smiling, and eager.


"My troops will move at once, sir," he said, and with a salute he was gone.


Soon in the cool and lovely May morning Jackson's men were marching through what was known as the Wilderness. It was a forest of smallish trees, so thickly set that a man could hardly march through it gun on shoulder. The Federals saw the great column of men move off without misgivings, imagining them to be retreating. Soon they were lost to sight, swallowed up by the Wilderness.

The Wilderness

Here and there through the wood narrow, unmade roads were cut, and along these hour after hour twenty-five thousand men moved ceaselessly and silently. Through the thick foliage there came to them faint echoes of the thundering guns, while close about them the cries of startled birds broke the stillness, and the timid, wild things of the woods scurried in terror before them. As the day went on the heat became stifling, and dust rose in clouds beneath the tramping feet. Still, choking, hot and dusty the men pressed on.


The soldiers of the right wing of the Federal army were resting about six o'clock that evening. Their arms were stacked, some were cooking supper, others were smoking or playing cards, when suddenly from the woods there came the whirr of wings, and a rush of frightened squirrels and rabbits, and other woodland creatures.


It was the first warning the Federals had of the approach of the enemy. They flew to arms, but it was already too late. With their wild yell the Confederates dashed into the camp. The Federals fought bravely, but they were taken both in front and rear, and were utterly overwhelmed.


Now and again a regiment tried to make a stand, only to be swept away by the terrific onslaught of the Confederates, and leaving half their number dead on the field they fled in panic. Still with desperate courage the Federal leaders sought to stem the onrush of the enemy and stay the rout.


"You must charge into those woods, and hold the foe until I get some guns into position," said General Pleasonton, turning to Major Peter Keenan.

Peter Keenan, 1834-63

"I will, sir," replied Keenan. Then calmly smiling, at the head of his handful of men he rode to certain death.


Ten minutes later he lay dead with more than half his gallant followers beside him. But his sacrifice was not in vain. For his desperate thrust had held the Confederates until the guns were placed, and the army saved from utter rout.


The sun went down on a brilliant victory for the Confederates. Yet the night brought disaster for them.


Eager to find out what the Federals were doing General Jackson rode out towards their lines in the gathering darkness. It was a dangerous thing to do, for he ran the risk of being picked off by their sharp-shooters. The danger indeed was so great that an officer of his staff tried to make him turn back. "General," he said, "don't you think that this is the wrong place for you?"


But Jackson would not listen. "The danger is all over," he said carelessly. "The enemy is routed. Go back and tell Hill to press right on."


Soon after giving this order Jackson himself turned, and rode back with his staff at a quick trot. But in the dim light his men mistook the little party for a company of Federals charging, and they fired. Many of his officers were killed, Jackson himself was sorely wounded and fell from his horse into the arms of one of his officers.

Stonewall Jackson is wounded

"General," asked some one, anxiously, "are you much hurt?"


"I think I am," replied Jackson. "And all my wounds are from my own men," he added sadly.


As tenderly as might be he was carried to the rear, and all that could be done was done. But Stonewall Jackson had fought his last victorious fight. Eight days later the Conqueror of all men laid his hand upon him, and he passed to the land of perfect Peace.


During these days he seemed to forget the Great War. His wife and children were with him, and thoughts of them filled his heart. But at the end he was once more in imagination with his men on the field of battle.


"Order A.P. Hill to prepare for action," he cried. "Pass the infantry to the front. Tell Major Hawks–"


Then he stopped, leaving the sentence unfinished. A puzzled, troubled look overspread his handsome, worn face. But in a few minutes it passed away, and calm peace took its place.


"Let us cross over the river," he said, softly and clearly, "and rest under the shade of the trees."


Then with a contented sight he entered into his rest.

he dies

Stonewall Jackson was a true Christian and a great soldier, and his loss to the Confederate cause was one which could not be replaced. He believed to the end that he was fighting for the right, and, mistaken although he might be, his honour and valour were alike perfect. Both North and South may unite in admiration for him as a soldier, and in love for him as a Christian gentleman.



THE day after Jackson was wounded the battle of Chancellorsville continued, and ended in a second victory for the Confederates. On the 4th and 5th the fighting was again renewed. Then the Federals retired across the Rappahannock to their former camping ground unmolested, the Confederates being too exhausted to pursue them.


After Fredericksburg the Confederates had rejoiced. After Chancellorsville they rejoiced still more, and they made up their minds to carry the war into the northern states. So leaving part of his army under General J. E. B. Stuart to prevent the Federals pursuing him Lee marched into Pennsylvania. But General Stuart was unable to hold the Federals back, and they were soon in pursuit of Lee.

Lee invades Pennsylvania

At Chancellorsville Hooker had shown that although he was a splendid fighting general he was a poor commander-in-chief, and towards the end of June, while the army was in full cry after the foe, General George Gordon Meade was made commander-in-chief. Meade continued the pursuit, and Lee, seeing nothing for it, gave up his plans of invasion, and turned to meet the foe.


The two forces met near the little town of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, and a great three-days' battle took place.


The fighting began on the first of July when the Federal army was still widely scattered through the country, and Meade himself far in the rear, and again the Confederates triumphed.

Battle of Gettysburg, July 1st-3rd

Late that night General Meade arrived upon the field, and began to make preparations for the struggle on the morrow. On both sides the commanders and armies seemed to feel that a great turning point of the war had come, and they bent all their energies on winning. Both camps were early astir, yet each side seemed to hesitate to begin the fearful game, and put fortune to the test. So the morning passed quietly, the hot silence of the summer day being broken only now and again by fitful spurts of firing.


Late in the afternoon at length the Confederates attacked, and soon the battle raged fiercely. The fight swung this way and that, first the one side and then the other gaining ground here, losing it there. When night came the position was little changed. The advantage still lay with the Confederates.

Second day of battle

Next day there was no hesitation. Both sides knew that the deadly duel must be fought to the close, and at dawn the roll and thud of cannon began. From hill to hill gun answered gun, shells screamed and hissed, and the whole valley seemed to be encircled with flame and smoke. But the Confederates gained nothing. The Federals stood firm.

Third day of battle

At length Lee determined to make a mighty effort to smash the center of the Federal line, and split it in two. Collecting about a hundred and fifty guns he massed them along a height named Seminary Ridge, and with these he pounded the Federals on Cemetery Hill opposite. For two hours the terrible cannonade lasted. At first the Federal guns replied vigorously, then they almost ceased. They ceased, not because they had been put out of action, not because ammunition was running short, but because Meade was reserving his strength for the infantry attack he knew must come.


In the Confederate camp there was strained anxiety. Lee had determined to make the attack, but General Longstreet was against it. He did not believe that it could succeed. It was, he felt sure, only the useless throwing away of brave lives, and his heart was wrung with sorrow at the thought. But Lee insisted, and General George E. Pickett's division was chosen to make the attempt.

James Longstreet

George E. Pickett 1825-75

So Longstreet gave way. But when Pickett came to him for last orders he could not speak; he merely nodded his head, and turned away with a sob.


Pickett, however, knew neither hesitation nor fear.


"Sir," he said firmly, "I shall lead my division forward."


Again Longstreet gave a sign, and Pickett, gallant and gay, rode off "into the jaws of death." Erect and smiling, his cap set rakishly over one ear, his brown-gold hair shining in the sun, he seemed, said Longstreet long after, more like a "holiday soldier" than a general about to lead a desperate and almost hopeless attack.


The Federal lines were a mile away. Towards them, towards the bristling row of guns, the men marched steadily, keeping step as if on parade, their banners fluttering gaily, and their bayonets glittering in the sunshine. Confident and elated they swept on. They were out to win not merely the battle but the war, and they meant to do it.

The charge

Half the distance was covered. Then the Federal guns spoke. Crashing and thundering they tore great gaps in the approaching column. Still the men moved on steadily, resistlessly, until they came within musket range. Then on a sudden the whole Federal line became as it were a sheet of flame and smoke, and the first line of the advancing Confederates seemed to crumble away before the fearful fusilade. But the second line came on only faster and yet faster, firing volley after volley, scattering frightful death as they came.


Nothing could stay their impetuous charge. On they came right up to the rifle pits. In a rush they were across them, and over the barricades. Then with a yell of victory they threw themselves upon the guns, bayoneting the gunners. Leaping upon the barricade a man held aloft the Confederate flag, waving it in triumphant joy. The next instant he fell mortally wounded, and the flag, bloodstained and torn, was trampled under foot.

The Confederates reach the Federal lines

This gallant and hopeless charge brought the battle
of Gettysburg to an end. It brought victory to
the Federal side, and the Confederates slowly retired
into Virginia once more.

The Confederate success was only the success of a moment. The handful of heroic men who had reached the Federal guns could not hope to hold them. They died gallantly. That was all.


A storm of shot and shell tore its way through the still advancing ranks. It became an ordeal of fire too great for even the bravest to face. The lines at length wavered, they broke, and the men were scattered in flight. Thousands lay dead and dying on the field, many surrendered and were taken prisoner, and of the fifteen thousand gallant soldiers who had set forth so gaily, only a pitiful remnant of thirteen hundred blood-stained, weary men at length reached their own lines.

They are repulsed

This gallant and hopeless charge brought the battle of Gettysburg to an end. It brought victory to the Federal side, and the Confederates slowly retired into Virginia once more.


Yet the victory was not very great nor in any way decisive, and the cost of life had been frightful. Indeed, so many brave men had fallen upon this dreadful field that the thought came to the Governor of the state that it would be well to make a portion of it into a soldiers' burial place and thus consecrate it forever as holy ground. All the states whose sons had taken part in the battle willingly helped, and a few months after the battle it was dedicated. And there President Lincoln made one of his most beautiful and famous speeches.

The field of Gettysburg consecrated

"Fourscore and seven years ago," he said, "our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense we cannot dedicate–we cannot consecrate–we cannot hollow–this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honoured dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain–that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom–and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Lincoln's Gettysburg speech


THE victory of Gettysburg which had been so dearly bought was not very great. But hard upon it came the news that on the 4th of July Vicksburg had surrendered to General Grant. And taking both victories together the people of the North felt that now they had cause to hope.


After the capture of New Orleans in April, 1862, Farragut had sailed up the Mississippi, and except for Vicksburg the whole valley was in the control of the Federals. Farragut would have attacked Vicksburg also but his land force was not strong enough, and Halleck, who was then commander-in-chief, did not see the great importance of Vicksburg, and refused to send soldiers to aid him.


The Confederates, however, knew the importance of holding the city, for it was the connecting link between the revolted states which lay east and those which lay west of the great river. Through it passed enormous supplies of food from the West, and great quantities also of arms and ammunition, and other war stores, which came from Europe by way of Mexico.

Importance of Vicksburg

So while the Federals neglected to take Vicksburg the Confederates improved its fortifications until they were so strong that it seemed almost impossible that it should ever be taken.


At length Grant was given supreme command of the western army, and he, well knowing the importance of Vicksburg, became intent on taking it. Again and yet again he tried and failed. Indeed he failed so often that people began to clamour for his recall. But President Lincoln turned a deaf ear to the clamour and decided always to "try him a little longer" and still a little longer. And Grant justified his trust.

Grant's efforts to take it

Finding it impossible to take Vicksburg by assault he determined to besiege it. In a brilliant campaign of less than a fortnight he marched a hundred and fifty miles, and fought four battles. Then he sat down with his victorious army before Vicksburg, and a regular siege began.


Vicksburg was now completely surrounded. On the river the fleet kept watch, so that no boats carrying food, ammunition, or relief of any kind could reach the fated city. On land Grant's army dug itself in, daily bringing the ring of trenches closer and closer to the Confederate fortifications. They were so close at last that the soldiers on either side could hear each other talking, and often friendly chat passed between the "Yanks" and the "Johnnies" or Southerners.

Siege of Vicksburg begins, 18th May

"Yanks" and "Johnnies";

"When are you coming into town, Yank?" the Confederates would ask.


"Well, Johnnie, we are thinking of celebrating the 4th of July there," the Northerners would reply.


And at this the Johnnies would laugh as at a huge joke. No 4th of July would the Yanks celebrate in their city.


Regularly, too, the Confederates would pass over the little Vicksburg paper, the Daily Citizen, to their enemies. This paper appeared daily to the last, although paper grew so scarce that it sometimes consisted only of one sheet eighteen inches long and six inches wide. At length printing paper gave out altogether, and the journal appeared printed on the plain side of wall paper.


Day was added to day, and week to week, and still the siege of Vicksburg lasted. All day cannon roared, shells screamed and whistled, and the city seemed enveloped in flame and noise. The streets were places of death and danger, and the people took refuge in the cellars of the houses, or in caves which they dug out of the clayey soil. In these caves whole families lived for weeks together, only creeping out to breathe the air during the short intervals, night and morning, when the guns ceased firing.

terrors of the siege;

Food grew scarcer and scarcer until at length there was nothing left but salt bacon, the flesh of mules, rats, and mouldy pea flour. The soldiers became no longer fit to man the guns, their rations being no more than a quarter of a pound of bacon and the same of flour each day. Water too ran short, and they were obliged to drink the muddy water of the Mississippi.


Like pale specters the people crept about, and many, both soldiers and citizens, died from starvation and disease brought on by starvation. At length Vicksburg seemed little more than one great hospital, encircled by fire, made hideous by noise. Human nature could endure no longer, and on the morning of the 3rd of July white flags appeared upon the ramparts.


Immediately the roar of cannon ceased, and silence fell on city and camp. After the six weeks' inferno it seemed to the racked nerves and aching ears of the inhabitants as if the silence might be felt, as if the peace wrapped them about like a soft robe. The relief was so great that many who had endured the weeks of torture dry-eyed now burst into tears. But they were healing tears.


Under a lonely tree, a few hundred yards beyond the Confederate lines, Grant met General John C. Pemberton, the defender of Vicksburg. The two men had fought side by side in the Mexican War, and had been friends. Now although divided by cruel strife they shook hand as of old. But memories of bygone days did not soften Grant's heart. His terms were hard. Once more he demanded unconditional surrender. And Pemberton, knowing that resistance was impossible, yielded.


Next day the surrender was accomplished, and thirty thousand men became prisoners of war. Before noon the Union flag was flying over the Court House. Thus the "Yanks" celebrated the "glorious Fourth" in Vicksburg, as they had said they would do. But there was no noisy rejoicing. The Federals took possession almost in silence, for they had too much admiration for their gallant foe to wish to give them pain. One cheer indeed rent the air, but it was given for the glorious defenders of Vicksburg.

Federals enter Vicksburg, 4th July

The whole North was now united in passionate admiration for Grant. Cheering crowds followed him in the streets. Fools and wise men alike were eager to know him, to boast that they had spoken to him or touched his hand. Yet at first sight Grant seemed to have little of the hero about him. He was an "ordinary, scrubby looking man, with a slightly seedy look," said one who saw him in those days. "He did not march nor quite walk, but pitched along as if the next step would bring him to his nose." But his eye was clear and blue, he had a determined look, and seemed like a man it would be bad to trifle with.

Grant's appearance

This shambling, scrubby looking man, with the clear blue eyes, was now the idol of the people. Lincoln too saw his genius as a leader, and willingly yielding to the popular demand made him commander-in-chief of all the United States armies.

Grant made commander-in-chief, March, 1864

Before long Grant had made his plans for the next campaign. It was a twofold one. He himself with one army determined by blow after blow to hammer Lee into submission while Sherman was to tackle the other great Confederate army under Johnston.


In the beginning of May, Grant set out, and on the 5th and 6th the battle of the Wilderness was fought not far from where the battle of Chancellorsville had been fought the year before. Grant had not meant to fight here, but Lee, who knew every inch of the ground, forced the fight on him.

Battle of the Wilderness, May 5th and 6th

In the tangled underwood of the Wilderness artillery and cavalry were of little use, and the battle became a fierce struggle between the foot soldiers of either army. The forest was so thick that officers could only see a small part of their men, and could only guess at what was going on by the sound of the firing, and the shouts exultant or despairing, of the men who were drive to and fro in the dark and dreary thickets. In the end neither side gained anything except an increased respect for the foe.


Grant's aim was to take Richmond, the Confederate capital, and after the battle of the Wilderness with that aim still before him he moved his army to Spotsylvania. He was hotly pursued by Lee and here on the 10th and 12th of May another stern struggle took place.

Battle of Spotsylvania, 10th and 12th May

The fighting on the 10th was so terrible that on the 11th both armies rested as by common consent. Next day the battle began again and lasted until midnight. It was a hand-to-hand struggle. The tide of victory swung this way and that. Positions were taken and lost, and taken again and after twenty-four hours of fighting neither side had won. Only thousands of brave men lay dead upon the field.


Still intent on Richmond, Grant moved southwards after this terrible battle, followed closely by Lee. Everyday almost there were skirmishes between the two armies, but still Grant pressed onward and arrived at length within a few miles of Richmond. Here at Cold Harbor Lee took up a strongly entrenched position from which it seemed impossible to oust him, except by a grand assault. Grant determined to make that assault.


Both officers and men knew that it could not succeed, but Grant commanded it and they obeyed. Yet so sure were many of the men that they were going to certain death that it is said they wrote their names and addresses on slips of paper which they tacked to the backs of their coats, so that when their bodies were found it might be easily known who they were, and news be sent to their friends.

Battle of Cold Harbor, June 3rd

At half-past four in the grey morning light eighty thousand men rushed upon the foe. They were met with a blinding fire and swept away. In half an hour the attack was over. It was the deadliest half hour in all American history, and eight thousand Union men lay dead upon the field.


"Some one had blundered." Grant had blundered. He knew it, and all his life after regretted it. "No advantage whatever was gained," he said, "to make up for the heavy loss we suffered."


In this terrible campaign he had lost sixty thousand men. He had not taken Richmond. He had neither destroyed nor dispersed Lee's army. Still he hammered on, hoping in the long run to wear out Lee. For the Confederates had lost heavily, too, and they had no more men with which to make good their losses. On the other hand the gaps in the Federal army were filled up almost as soon as made. "It's no use killing these fellows," said the Confederates, "a half dozen take the place of every one we kill."

Grant's losses

But the people of the North could not look on calmly at these terrible doings. They cast their idol down, and cried out against Grant as a "butcher." They demanded his removal. But Lincoln refused again to listen to the clamour as he had refused before. "I cannot spare that man," he said, "at least he fights."


Grant was terrible only for a good end. He was ruthless so that the war might be brought the more speedily to a close. And Lincoln, the most tender hearted of all men, knew it. Undismayed therefore Grant fought on. But his army was weary of much fighting, disheartened by ill success, weakened by many losses. New recruits indeed had been poured into it. But they were all unused to discipline. Months of drill were needed before they could become good soldiers. In June then Grant settled down to besiege Petersburg, and drill his new men the while, and not till the spring of 1865 did the army of the Potomac again take the field.

Siege of Petersburg begins

Meanwhile there was fighting elsewhere.


On the part of the Confederates there was a constant endeavour to take Washington, and in July of this year the Confederate army actually came within a few miles of the city. There was great alarm in the capital, for it was defended chiefly by citizen soldiers and fresh recruits who had little knowledge of warfare. But just in time Grant sent strong reinforcements from the army of the Potomac and the Confederates marched away without making an attack. They only retired, however, into the Shenandoah Valley, and their presence there was a constant menace to Washington. Early in August therefore General Sheridan was sent to clear the enemy out of the valley, and relieve Washington from the constant fear of attack.

Philip H. Sheridan, 1831-88

He began his work vigorously, and soon had command of most of the roads leading to Washington. But he knew that General Jubal A. Early who commanded the Confederate troops was a skilful and tried soldier, and, to begin with, he moved with caution. For some weeks indeed both commanders played as it were a game of chess, maneuvering for advantage of position. But at length a great battle was fought at Winchester in which the Confederates were defeated and driven from the field. Three days later another battle was fought at Fisher's Hill, and once again in spite of gallant fighting the Confederates were beaten.

Battle of Winchester, September 19th

Fisher's Hill

After this battle Sheridan marched back through the valley, destroying and carrying away everything which might be of use to the foe. Houses were left untouched, but barns and mills with all their stores of food and forage were burned to the ground. Thousands of horses and cattle were driven off, and the rich and smiling valley made a desolation, with nothing left in it, as Grant said, to invite the enemy to return.


Having finished this work Sheridan dashed off to Washington, to consult with the Secretary of war about his future movements. The Confederate army had meanwhile encamped again near Fisher's Hill. And Early, hearing of Sheridan's absence, determined to make a surprise attack on the Federal army.


In the darkness of the night they set out, and stealthily crept towards the Federal camp at Cedar Creek. Every care was taken so that no sound should be made. The men were even ordered to leave their canteens behind, lest they should rattle against their rifles. Not a word was spoken as the great column crept onward, climbing up and down steep hillsides, fording streams, pushing through thickly growing brushwood. At length before sunrise, without alarm or hindrance of any kind the Confederates reached the camp of the sleeping Federals.

Battle of Cedar Creek, Oct. 19th;

Each man was soon in his appointed place, and in the cold grey dawn stood waiting the signal. At length a shot rang out, and with their well-known yell the Confederates threw themselves into the camp.


As quickly as might be the Federals sprang up and seized their arms. But they had been taken utterly by surprise, and before they could form in battle array they were scattered in flight.

the battle lost;

Before the sun was well up the Federals were defeated, and their camp and cannon were in the hands of the enemy. Meanwhile Sheridan had reached Winchester on his return journey from Washington. He had slept the night there, and had been awakened by the sound of firing. At first he thought little of it, but as the roar continued he became sure that a great battle was being fought–and he was twenty miles away! He set spurs to his horse, and through the cool morning air,

"A steed as black as steeds of night,
Was seen to pass, as with eagle flight.
As if he knew the terrible need,
He stretched away with his utmost speed."

Sheridan's ride;

Mile after mile the great black horse ate up the roads. The sound of firing grew louder and louder, and at length men fleeing in rout and confusion came in sight. There was every sign of a complete defeat. Wounded, unwounded, baggage wagons, mule teams, all were fleeing in confusion.


It was a grievous sight for Sheridan. But he refused to accept defeat. Rising high in his stirrups he waved his hat in the air, and shouted cheerily, "Face the other way, boys. We are going back to our camp. We are going to lick them into their boots."

Sheridan stays the rout;

At the sound of his voice the fleeing soldiers paused, and with a mighty shout they faced about. Even the wounded joined in the cheering. The beaten, disheartened army took heart again, the scattered, disorganized groups were gathered, a compact line of battle was formed, and at the end of two hours the men were not only ready but eager once more to grapple with the foe.


Then the second battle of Cedar Creek was fought. At ten o'clock in the morning the Federals had been defeated. By five in the afternoon the Confederates were not only defeated, but utterly routed. Their army was shattered and the war swept out of the Shenandoah Valley for good and all. Then Sheridan marched his victorious troops to join Grant before Petersburg.

the battle won;

Sheridan joins Grant


GRANT'S plan of action was twofold, and while he was fighting Lee Sherman was fighting the second Confederate army under General J.E. Johnston. At the beginning of the campaign Sherman's army was at Chattanooga in Tennessee, and while Grant was fighting the battle of the Wilderness, he began his march to Atlanta, Georgia. Fighting all the way, the Confederate army always retreating before him, he slowly approached Atlanta. At length on September 2nd he entered and took possession of it.

Sherman takes Atlanta, Sept. 2nd;

Here for a few weeks the soldiers rested after their arduous labours. Then preparations for the next campaign began. All the sick and wounded, extra tents and baggage, in fact every one and everything which could be done without, was sent back to Tennessee. For the order had gone forth that the army was to travel light on this campaign. None but the fit and strong were to take part in it, and they were to carry with them only three weeks' rations.


Where they were going the men did not know. They did not ask. There was no need to trouble, for Sherman was leading them, and they knew he would lead them to victory.


After Richmond, Atlanta had supplied more guns and ammunition and other war material for the Confederacy than any other town, and before he left it, Sherman determined to destroy everything which might be of use to the enemy. So he emptied the town of all its inhabitants, and blew up all the gun and ammunition factories, storehouses, and arsenals. He tore up the railroads all around Atlanta also, and last of all cut the telegraph which linked him to the North. Then cut off as it were from all the world with his force of nearly sixty-six thousand men, he turned eastward, toward the sea.

the march to the sea begins, November 15th;

The army marched in four divisions, taking roads which as nearly as possible ran alongside each other, so that each division might keep in touch with the others. Every morning at daybreak they broke camp and during the day marched from ten to fifteen miles. And as they passed through it they laid waste the land. Railroads were torn up and thoroughly destroyed. The sleepers were made into piles and set alight, the rails were laid on the top of the bonfires, and when hot enough to be pliable were twisted beyond all possibility of being used again. Telegraph wires and poles were torn down, factories were burned, only private homes being left untouched.


Foragers quartered the country, sweeping it bare of cattle, poultry, fodder and corn. For both man and beast of the great army fed upon the land as they passed through it, the rations with which they had come provided being kept in case of need. Indeed the troops fed so well that the march, it was said, was like a "continuous Thanksgiving." What they did not eat they destroyed.


Thus right across the fertile land a stretch of waste and desolation was created about sixty miles wide. Yet it was not done in wantonness, but as a terrible necessity of war. It clove the Confederacy from east to west as thoroughly as the Mississippi clove it from north to south. It rifled and well-nigh exhausted the rich granary which fed the Confederate army, and by destroying the railroads prevented even what was left being sent to them. Grant meant to end the war, and it seemed to him more merciful to destroy food and property than to destroy men.


Through all this great raid there was little fighting done. And as the army marched day by day through the sunny land a sort of holiday spirit pervaded it. The work was a work of grim destruction, but it was done in the main with good temper. The sun shone, the men led a free and hardy life, growing daily more brown and sinewy, and at the end of the march of nearly three hundred miles, far from being worn out, they were more fit and strong than when they set forth.


By the second week in December the goal was reached–Savannah and the sea. Here the army joined hands with the navy. Fort McAllister, which defended the south side of the city, was taken by a brilliant assault, and Sherman prepared for a siege of Savannah both by land and water. But in the night the Confederates quietly slipped out of the city, and retreated across the swamps. When their flight was discovered they were already beyond reach of pursuit, and with hardly a blow struck, the city of Savannah fell into the hands of the Federals.

Savannah is reached;

The great march had ended triumphantly on December 21. "I beg to present to you, as a Christmas gift," wrote Sherman to Lincoln, "the city of Savannah with a hundred and fifty-nine heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton."

Federals enter Savannah, 21st Dec.

This news followed hard on the news of another victory. For on December 15th and 16th the Federals under General George H. Thomas had fought a great battle at Nashville, Tennessee, in which the Confederates had been defeated. By this battle their strength beyond the Alleghenies was practically crushed, so as the year 1864 closed, the hopes of the Federals rose high.

Battle of Nashville, Dec. 15th and 16th.

Early in 1865 still another victory was recorded in the taking of Fort Fisher in North Carolina. This was the last port in the possession of the Confederates. With it, they lost their last link with the outside world, and the blockade which Lincoln had proclaimed nearly four years before was at length complete.

Fort Fisher taken, Jan. 15, 1865

All hope of success now utterly vanished for the Confederates. Even Lee knew it, and he might have advised the South to lay down arms, but Jefferson Davis, the Southern President, doggedly refused to own himself beaten. So the war continued.


On the 1st of February, Sherman set out from Savannah on a second march. This time he turned northward, and carried his victorious army right through the Carolinas. The march was longer by more than a hundred miles than his now famous march to the sea. It was one too of much greater difficulty. Indeed, compared with it, the march to the sea had been a mere picnic.

Sherman marches through the Carolinas

The weather now was horrible. Rain fell in torrents, and the army floundered through seas of mud. Along the whole way too they were harassed by the foe, and hardly a day passed without fighting of some sort. But, like an inexorable fate, Sherman pressed on, destroying railroads, and arsenals, creating a desert about him until at length he joined forces with Grant.


In the midst of this devastating war while some states were fighting for separation, another new state was added to the Union. This was Nevada. Nevada is Spanish and means snowy, and the state takes its name from the snowy topped mountains which run through it. It was formed out of part of the Mexican territory. Like West Virginia, the other battle-born state, it was true to the Union. And scanty though the population was, it raised more than a thousand men for the Union cause.

Nevada is admitted to the Union

Now too, in the midst of war in November of 1864 came the time of electing a new President. Many people were tired of the war. They had expected it to last for a few months, and it had lasted for years, and some of them were inclined to blame Lincoln for it. So they wanted a new President. But for the most part the people loved Lincoln. He was Father Abe to them. And even those who wanted a change agreed with Lincoln himself when he said that "it was not well to swap horses when crossing a stream."


So Lincoln was triumphantly elected and on March 4th, 1865, he was inaugurated for the second time. He made the shortest speech ever made on such an occasion, and he closed this short speech with the most beautiful and unforgettable words.

Lincoln re-elected President

"With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and for his orphan–to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."



NO President ever took up his burden in a more great hearted fashion than Lincoln. No President ever faced the difficulties of his position with so much tenderness, and so much strength. But he felt his burdens lie heavy on his shoulders. Deep lines of pain were graven on his face, and to his sad eyes there came a deeper sadness. Yet he never lost heart, and even in the gravest moments he would pause to tell a funny story.


"I should break down otherwise," he said.


He had no anger against the south, only a deep pity, a deep desire to see the country one again. So, much as he longed for peace, he would listen to no proposal which did not mean peace with union. And, as Jefferson Davis declared that he would rather die than see North and South united, the war continued.


On the 1st of April a great battle was fought at Five Forks, a few miles from Petersburg. In this the Confederates were defeated, and more than five thousand were taken prisoner. The next day, true to his hammering policy, Grant ordered a great assault all along the lines before Petersburg. At daybreak the attack began, and again the Federals were victorious. All that brave men could do the Confederates did. But their valour availed them nothing. They were far outnumbered, and their line was pierced in many places.

Battle of Five Forks, April 1st

That morning President Davis was sitting in church at Richmond when a dispatch from Lee was brought to him. "My lines are broken," it said; "Richmond must be evacuated this evening."


Quickly and silently Jefferson Davis left the church. His day of power was over, and, with his Cabinet and officials, he fled from Richmond.

Jefferson Davis flees from Richmond;

Soon the news spread throughout the Southern capital, and panic seized upon the people. Warehouses, filled with tobacco and cotton, were set in flames. All that was evil in the city broke loose, the prison was emptied, rogues and robbers worked their will. Soon the streets were filled with a struggling mob of people, some bent on plunder, others on fleeing from the place of terror and turmoil.


The night passed in confusion and horror past description. Then the next day the Federals took possession of the distracted city, and in a few hours the tumult was hushed, the flames subdued, and something like order restored.

Federals enter Richmond

Meanwhile, without entering the city, Grant was hotly pursuing Lee and his army. The chase was no long one. Lee's army was worn out, ragged, barefoot and starving. Grant, with an army nearly three times as large, and well equipped besides, soon completely surrounded him north, south, east and west. Escape there was none.


"There is nothing left me but to go and see General Grant," said Lee, "and I would rather die a thousand deaths." But like the brave soldier he was, he faced what seemed to him worse than death rather than uselessly sacrifice gallant lives.


A few letters passed between the two great leaders, then they met in a private house at Appomattox Court House. The contrast between the two was great. Lee looked the Southern aristocrat he was. White-haired and tall, erect still in spite of his sixty years, he was dressed in splendid uniform, and wore a jeweled sword at his side. Grant, half a head shorter, fifteen years younger, seemed but a rough soldier beside him. He wore only the blue blouse of a private, and carried no sword, nothing betraying his rank except his shoulder straps.


It was Lee's first meeting with "Unconditional Surrender" Grant. But this time Grant drove no hard bargain. "I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly," he said many years after. The war was over, and there was no need of severity. So officers and men alike were all released on the promise that they would not again take up arms against the United States. The officers were allowed to keep their swords, their horses and belongings. The privates also were allowed to keep their horses, for as Grant said, "they would need them for their spring ploughing."

Lee surrenders, April 9th

Everything being settled, Lee returned to his men to break the news to them. His face was stern and sad as he faced his worn and ragged troops. As he looked at them words failed him. "Men," he said, "we have fought through the war together, and I have done the best I could for you." Then he ceased. Tears blinded and choked him, sobs burst from the hardy men who had followed him joyfully to death. So they said farewell.


Grant on his side would allow no rejoicing in his camp, no firing of salutes. "The war is over," he said, "the rebels are our countrymen again." And indeed this was the end of the war, although for a week or two the Confederates elsewhere still held out.


When the news was heard throughout the country people went mad with joy. The great day of peace had come at last, and all the world went a-holidaying. People who were utter strangers to each other shook hands in the street, they laughed and cried, bonfires were lit and bells rung. Never had there been such rejoicing in the land. And among those who rejoiced none was more glad than the President.


"I thank God," he said, "that I have lived to see this day. It seems to me that I have been dreaming a horrid dream for five years. But now the nightmare is gone." And already his thoughts were turned to the binding up of the nation's wounds.

Lincoln's joy;

It was the 14th of April and he had promised to go to the theatre that evening. He did not want to go, but his presence had been announced in the papers, and thinking that the people would be disappointed if he failed to appear, he went.


It was about nine o'clock in the evening when the President entered his box with his wife and one or two friends. As soon as he appeared the people rose from their seats and cheered and cheered again, and the actors stopped their play until the audience grew calm again.

his reception by the people;

In a few minutes all was quiet once more, and for an hour the play went on. Then while everyone in the box was intent upon the stage a man crept softly through the door and stood beside the President. Suddenly a sharp pistol shot rang out, and without a groan the great President fell forward, dying.

he is shot;

His wicked work done, the man sprang from the box on to the stage shouting, "Sic semper tyrannis,"–"Thus let it ever be with tyrants." As he sprang his foot caught in the flag which draped the box. He fell with a crash and broke a bone in his leg. But in spite of the hurt he jumped up. Then fiercely brandishing a dagger and shouting, "the South is avenged," he disappeared.


The murderer was a man named John Wilkes Booth. He was a second rate and conceited actor having a vast idea of his own importance. With him and the small band of fanatics he ruled the leaders of the South had nothing whatever to do. Indeed, by his act he proved himself to be their worst enemy.


Now hurrying out of the theatre he mounted a horse which was held in readiness, and galloped away through the night.


Meanwhile the theatre was in wild confusion. "He has shot the President." "Hang him! shoot him!" cried a hundred voices. But the murderer was gone. Women wept, men swore, the confusion was unutterable.


Meanwhile the dying President was quickly carried into a house near. But nothing that love or science could do availed. The kind grey eyes were closed never to open again, the gentle voice was stilled forever. All night he lay moaning softly, then as morning dawned a look of utter peace came upon his face and the moaning ceased.


Deep silence fell upon every one around the bed. The Secretary of War was the first to break it.


"Now he belongs to the ages," he said.

"he belongs to the ages"

So the great President passed on his way. And the people mourned as they had mourned for no other man. As to the negroes they wept and cried aloud, and would not be comforted, for "Massa Linkum was dead," and they were left fatherless.



THE Vice-President, Andrew Johnson, now became President. Like Lincoln, he came of very poor people. He taught himself how to read, but could not write until after his marriage, when his wife taught him. In many ways he thought as Lincoln did, but he had none of Lincoln's wonderful tact in dealing with men, he could not win men's love as Lincoln had done.


"I tell you," said a Confederate soldier, speaking of Lincoln, "he had the most magnificient face and eyes that I have ever gazed into. If he had walked up and down the Confederate line of battle there would have been no battle. I was his, body and soul, from the time I felt the pressure of his fingers."


The Southerners would have found a friend in Lincoln, but now that friend was lost to them. Had he lived much of the bitterness of the time after the war would never have been.

Lincoln a friend to the South

President Johnson had a very hard task before him. He had "to bind up the nation's wounds" and re-unite the North and South. But he had neither the tact nor the strength needed for this great task. At first it was thought he would be too hard on the South. Then it was thought he would be too lenient, and soon he was at loggerheads with Congress.


For the South, this time was a time of bitterness. The Confederate States were divided into five districts, each district being ruled over by an officer with an army of soldiers under him. From the men who had led the rebellion, all power of voting was taken away, while at the same time it was given to the negroes.

Negro suffrage

The negroes were very ignorant. They had no knowledge of how to use their votes. So a swarm of greedy adventurers from the North swooped down upon the South, cajoled the negroes into voting for them, and soon had the government of these states under their control.


These men were called Carpet-baggers. For it was said they packed all their belongings into a carpet bag. They had no possessions, no interests in the South. They came not to help the South, but to make money out of it, and under their rule, the condition of the Southern States became truly pitiful.

The Carpet-baggers

But at length this wretched time passed. The troops were withdrawn, the carpet-baggers followed, and the government once more came into the hands of better men.


Meanwhile bitterness had increased between the President and Congress. And now Congress brought a bill to lessen the President's power. This was called the Tenure of Office Bill. By it, the President was forbidden to dismiss any holder of a civil office without the consent of the Senate. The command of the army was also taken from him, and he was only allowed to give orders to the soldiers through the commander-in-chief.

Tenure of Office Bill, 1867

The President of course vetoed this bill. But Congress passed it in spite of his veto. This can be done if two-thirds of the Members of the House and the Senate vote for a bill. So the Tenure of Office Bill became law.


Now the President has grown to dislike Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War. He disliked him so heartily indeed that he would no longer speak to him, and so he determined in spite of the Tenure of Office Bill to get rid of a man he looked upon as an enemy.

Edwin M. Stanton, 1815-69;

So Stanton was dismissed. But Stanton refused to go. And when his successor, General Thomas, appointed by the President, walked into the War office, he found Stanton still in possession, with his friends round him.

is dismissed 21st Feb., 1868;

"I claim the office of Secretary of War, and demand it by order of the President," said Thomas.


"I deny your authority, and order you back to your own office," said Stanton.


"I will stand here," said Thomas. "I want no unpleasantness in the presence of these gentlemen."


"You can stand there if you please, but you can not act as Secretary of War. I am Secretary of War, and I order you out of this office, and to your own," cried Stanton.

refuses to go

"I will not obey you, but will stand here and remain here," insisted Thomas.


In spite of his insistence, however, he was at last got rid of.


But it was impossible that things should go on in this fashion. The Senate was angry because its authority had been set at nought, but it could do little but express its wrath. Then the House took the matter in hand. And for the first and only time in the history of the United States the President was impeached before the Senate, "for high crimes and misdemeanors in office."

The President impeached;

But Andrew Johnson did not care. The House sat in judgement on him, but he never appeared before it. He knew the impeachment was only make believe on the part of his enemies to try and get rid of him. So he chose lawyers to defend him, but never appeared in court himself.


For ten days the trial lasted. The excitement throughout the country was intense, and on the last day when the verdict was given the court was packed from floor to ceiling, and great crowds, unable to get inside, waited without.


In tense silence each Senator rose and gave his verdict "guilty" or "not guilty". And when the votes were counted it was found that the President was declared not guilty. There were forty-eight Senators, and to convict the President it was necessary that two-thirds should declare him guilty. Thirty-five said guilty, and nineteen not guilty. Thus he was saved by just one vote.

he is acquitted 16th May, 1868

Stanton then quietly gave up the post to which he had clung so persistently. Another man took his place, and the President remained henceforth undisturbed until the end of his term.


During Johnson's Presidency another state was admitted to the Union. This was Nebraska. It was formed out of part of the Louisiana Purchase, the name being an Indian one meaning "shallow water." It had been formed into a territory at the time of the famous Kansas-Nebraska Bill, and now in March, 1867, it was admitted to the Union as the 37th State.

Nebraska admitted to the Union, 1867

This year too, the territory of Alaska was added to the United States. Alaska belonged to Russia by right of Vitus Bering's discovery. It was from this Vitus Bering that the Bering Strait and Bering Sea take their names. The Russians did very little with Alaska, and after a hundred years or more they decided that they did not want it, for it was separated from the rest of the Empire by a stormy sea, and in time of war would be difficult to protect. So they offered to sell it to the United States. But nothing came of it then, and for some years the matter dropped, for the war came and blotted out all thoughts of Alaska.


But now peace had come, and the subject was taken up again, and at length the matter was settled. Russia received seven million two hundred thousand dollars, and Alaska became a territory of the United States.

is bought by the United States, 1867

A party of American soldiers was landed at the town of Sitka. They marched to the governor's house, and there were drawn up beside the Russian troops. Then the Russian Commander ordered the Russian flag to be hauled down, and made a short speech. Thereupon the soldiers of both countries fired a salute. The American flag was run up, and the ceremony was at an end.


Thus another huge territory was added to the United States. But at first many people were displeased at the purchase. It was a useless and barren country, they thought, where the winters were so long and cold that it was quite unfit for a dwelling place for white men. But soon it was found that the whale and seal fisheries were very valuable, and later gold was discovered. It has also been found to be rich in other minerals, especially coal, and in timber, and altogether has proven a useful addition to the country.



IN l869 General Grant, who had made such a great name for himself during the Civil War, became President. Grant was a brave and honest soldier. He knew little however about politics. But now that Lincoln was gone the people loved him better than any other man. So he became President.


His was a simple trusting soul. He found it hard to believe evil of any one, and he was easily misled by men who sought not their country's good, but their own gain. So mistakes were made during his Presidency. But these may be forgotten while men must always remember his greatness as a soldier, and his nobleness as a victor. He helped to bring peace to his country, and like his great leader he tried after war was past to bind up the nation's wounds.


When Grant came into power the echoes of the great war were still heard. The South had not yet returned into peaceful union with the North, and there was an unsettled quarrel with Britain. The quarrel arose in this way. During the Civil War the British had allowed the Confederates to build ships in Britain; these ships had afterwards sailed out from British ports, and had done a great deal of damage to Union shipping.

The Alabama Claims

The British had declared themselves neutral. That is, they had declared that they would take neither one side nor the other. But, said the Americans, in allowing Confederate ships to be built in Britain, the British had taken the Confederate side, and had committed a breach of neutrality. And for the damage done to their ships the Americans now claimed recompense from the British Government. The ship which had done the most damage was called the Alabama and from this the claims made by America were called the Alabama Claims.


At first, however, the British refused to consider the claims at all. For years letters went to and fro between the two governments, and as the British still refused to settle the matter, feeling in America began to run high.


But at length the British consented to talk the matter over, and a commission of five British and five Americans met at Washington. After sitting for two months this commission formed what is known as the Washington Treaty. By this Treaty it was arranged that the Alabama Claims should be decided by arbitration. A Court of Arbitration was to be formed of five men; and of this court the President of the United States, the Queen of England, the King of Italy, the President of Switzerland, and the Emperor of Brazil, were each to choose a member.

The Washington Treaty, 1871

Court of Arbitration, 1871-2

The men chosen by these rulers met at Geneva in Switzerland, and after discussing the matter for a long time they decided that Britain had been to blame, and must pay the United States fifteen million five hundred thousand dollars. Thus the matter was settled in a peaceful way. Fifty years before, a like quarrel might have led to war between the two countries. Even at this time, with less wise leadership on either side, it might have come to war. But war was avoided and a great victory for peace was won.

The reward

Besides the Alabama Claims the last dispute about boundaries between the United States and Canada was settled at this time. This also was settled by arbitration, the new-made German Emperor being chosen as arbiter. "This," said President Grant, "leaves us for the first time in the history of the United States as a nation, without a question of disputed boundary between our territory and the possessions of Great Britain."


Grant was twice chosen as President and it was during his second term that Colorado was admitted to the Union as the thirty-eighth state. The new state was formed partly out of the Mexican Concession, partly out of the Louisiana Purchase, and was named after the great river Colorado, two branches of which flow through it. It was admitted as a state in August, l876.

Colorado admitted as a state, 1876


IN l877 Rutherford B. Hayes became President. Ever since the Civil War a great part of the South had been in constant turmoil. Soldiers were still stationed in the capitals of the various states, and the carpet-bag government still continued. But Hayes wished to put an end to this. So he got the principal white people in the South to promise that they would help to keep law and order. Then he withdrew all the troops. Without their aid the carpet–bag government could not stand, and the white men of the South once more began to rule in the South.

Hayes President, 1877-81

Carpet-bag government comes to an end

President Hayes also tried to lessen the evil of the "spoils system." In this he met a good deal of opposition. But the system of passing examinations was begun for some posts.


After the troublous times that had gone before this was a time of peace, in which for the first time since the War North and South seemed once more united.


In 1881 James Garfield became President. Like other Presidents before him, his boyhood had been one of poverty and hard work. But from doing odd labouring jobs, or tending barge horses on the Ohio Canal, he had gradually worked upwards. He had been barge-boy, farmer, carpenter, school teacher, lawyer and soldier, having in the Civil War reached the rank of general. At thirty-two he entered Congress, and there soon made his mark.

Garfield President, 1881;

Now he had become President, and as soon as he took up his office he was besieged by office seekers. They thronged his house, they stopped him in the street, button-holed him in railway carriages. They flattered, coaxed, threatened, and made his life a burden.

he is besieged by office seekers;

But in spite of all this worrying the new President determined to do what he could to end the "spoils system," and appoint people only for the sake of the public good. Accordingly he made many enemies.


Among the many office-seekers whom the President was forced to disappoint was a weak-minded, bad young man named Guiteau. Garfield saw plainly that he was quite unfit to fill any government post, and he refused to employ him. Thereupon Guiteau's heart was filled with hate against the President. He brooded over his wrongs till his hate became madness, and in this madness he determined to kill his enemy.


Since he took up office the President had been hard at work. Now in July he determined to take a short holiday in New England, and visit Mrs. Garfield, who had been ill, and had gone away for a change of air.


On Saturday, the 2nd of July, the morning on which he was going to set out, he awoke in excellent spirits. Before he got up one of his sons came into his room. The boy took a flying leap over his father's bed.


"There," he said with a laugh, "you are the President of the United States, but you can't do that."


"Can't I?" said the President.


And he got up and did it.


In the same good spirits he drove to the station.


As he walked along the platform a man with an evil look on his face followed him. Suddenly a pistol shot was heard, and a bullet passed through the President's sleeve, and did no harm. It was quickly followed, however, by a second, which hit the President full in the back, and he fell to the ground. The President was sorely wounded, but not killed. A mattress was quickly brought, and he was gently carried to the White House.

he is wounded, July 2nd;

Then a message was sent to Mrs. Garfield, telling her what had happened, and bidding her come home. She and her daughter had been happily awaiting the President's coming to them. Now everything was changed, and in sorrow and haste they went to him.


For nearly three months President Garfield lingered on. At times he seemed much stronger, and those who loved him believed he would recover. But by degrees their hopes faded, and in September he died.

he dies, 19th Sept., 1881

Once again the sorrowing nation followed their President to the grave, and once again the Vice-President took office as President.


The new President was named Chester A. Arthur, and on taking office he was less known to the country than any President before him. He came to office in a time of peace and prosperity, and although nothing very exciting happened during his presidency he showed himself both wise and patriotic.

Arthur President, 1881-5

The best thing to remember him for is his fight against the "spoils system." Ever since Grant had been President men who loved their country, and wanted to see it well served, had fought for civil service reform.

Civil service reform

Garfield's sad death made many people who had not thought of it before see that the "spoils system" was bad. For it had been a disappointed seeker of spoils who killed him. So at last in 1883 a law was passed which provided that certain appointments should be made by competitive examinations, and not given haphazard. At first this law only applied to a few classes of appointments. But by degrees its scope was enlarged until now nearly all civil service appointments are made through examinations.



IN 1885 Arthur's term of office came to an end, and Grover Cleveland became President. He was the son of a clergyman, and it was intended that he should have a college education. But his father died when he was only sixteen, and he had to begin at once to earn his own living.

Cleveland President, 1885-9

Grover Cleveland, however, determined to be a lawyer, and with twenty-five dollars in his pocket he set out from home to seek his fortune. He did two or three odd jobs by the way, but soon got a place as clerk in a lawyer's office in Buffalo.


His foot was thus on the first rung of the ladder which he wished to climb. And he climbed steadily, until twenty-six years later he was chosen Mayor of Buffalo. As Mayor he soon made a name for himself by his fearless honesty and businesslike ways. He would not permit unlawful or unwise spending of public money, and he stopped so many extravagant acts of the council that he became known as the "Veto Mayor," and he saved the town taxpayers thousands of dollars a year.

The "Veto Mayor";

Next he became Governor of New York State. As Governor he continued his same fearless path, vetoing everything which he considered dishonest or in any way harmful.


And as President, Cleveland was just as fearless and honest as before. During the four years of his presidency he used his power of veto more than three hundred times.


As one would expect from such a man Cleveland stood firm on the question of civil service reform. "The people pay for the government," he said, "and it is only right that government work should be well done. Posts should be given to those who are fit to fill them, and not merely to those who have friends to push them into notice."


President Cleveland also tried to get the tariffs on imported goods reduced. He discovered that there was more money in the treasury than the country required. During the war, duties had been made high because the Government required a great deal of money. But after the war was over, and there was no need for so much money these high duties had still been kept on. The consequence was that millions of dollars were being heaped up in the Treasury, and were lying idle. The president therefore thought that the tariffs should be reduced, and he said so. But there were so many people in the country who thought that a high tariff was good that, when in the next presidency, a new tariff bill was introduced, the duties were made higher than ever.

tries to reduce the tariffs

In 1889 President Cleveland's presidency came to an end, and Benjamin Harrison became President. He was the grandson of that William Henry Harrison who died after he had been President for a few weeks.

Harrison President, 1889-93

During President Harrison's term of office six new states were admitted into the Union. The two first of these were North and South Dakota, the name in Indian meaning "allies." It was the name the allied North-Western tribes gave themselves. But their neighbours called them Nadowaysioux, which means "enemies." The white people, however, shortened it to Sioux, and North Dakota is sometimes called the Sioux State.

North and South Dakota admitted to the Union, 1889

Both North and South Dakota were formed out of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1861 they had been organised as the territory of Dakota. Seventeen years or so later they were divided into North and South Dakota and were admitted as states in November, 1889.


Two or three days later Montana was admitted. This state was formed partly out of the Louisiana Purchase, and partly out of the Oregon country. The Rocky Mountains cross the state, and its name comes from a Spanish word meaning "mountainous."

Montana admitted to the Union, 1889

After Lewis and Clark explored the country many fur traders were attracted to it. But it was not until gold was discovered there that settlers came in large numbers. In spite of terrible trouble with the Indians, and much war and bloodshed, year by year the settlers increased, and in 1889 the territory was admitted as a state.


A few days after Montana the State of Washington was admitted to the Union. It was part of the Oregon country, and was of course named after the great "Father of his country," George Washington.

Washington admitted to the Union, 1889

In the following year Idaho became a state. Its name is Indian, meaning "gem of the mountains." This state, like Washington, was formed out of the Oregon country. The first white men who are known to have passed through it were Lewis and Clark. But, as in Montana, it was not until gold was discovered that settlers in any great numbers were attracted there. One very interesting thing about Idaho is that it was the second state to introduce women's suffrage. That is, women within the state have the same right of voting as men.

Idaho admitted to the Union, 1890

But the first state to introduce women's suffrage was Wyoming, which was admitted to the Union a few days after Idaho. This state was formed out of parts of all three of the great territories which had been added to the United States. The east was part of the Louisiana Purchase, the west was part of the Oregon country, and the south part of the Mexican cession. It has much fine pasture land and its Indian name means "broad valley."

Wyoming admitted to the Union, 1890

In 1893 Harrison's term of office came to an end, and for the second time Grover Cleveland was elected President. This is the only time in the history of the United States that an ex-President has again come to office after an interval of years.

Cleveland President, 1893-7

Four hundred years had now passed since Columbus discovered America, and it was decided to celebrate the occasion by holding a great World's Fair at Chicago. It was not possible, however, to get everything ready in time to hold the celebration in 1892, which was the actual anniversary, so the exhibition was opened the following year instead.

Chicago World's Fair

There had been other exhibitions in America of the same kind, but none so splendid as the Columbian Fair. It was fitting that it should be splendid, as it commemorated the first act in the life of a great nation. In these four hundred years what wonders had been performed! Since Columbus first showed the way across the Sea of Darkness millions had followed in his track, and the vast wilderness of the unknown continent had been peopled from shore to shore.


Millions of people from all over the world came to visit the White City as it came to be called; and men of every nation wandered through its stately halls, and among its fair lawns and gardens where things of art and beauty were gathered from every clime.


But most interesting of all were the exhibits which showed the progress that had been made in these four hundred years.


There one might see copies of the frail little vessels in which Columbus braved the unknown horrors of the Sea of Darkness, as well as models of the ocean going leviathans of to-day.


During Cleveland's second term of office still another state entered the Union. This was Utah, the state founded by the Mormons. Polygamy being forbidden, it was admitted in 1896 as the forty-fifth state.

Utah admitted to the Union, 1896


IN 1897 William McKinley became President. Like some other Presidents before him he came of very humble people, and had by his own efforts raised himself until at length he held the highest office in the land.


McKinley was a keen protectionist. That is, he believed in putting a heavy duty on foreign goods coming into the country, not in order to get revenue or income for the needs of the Government, but in order to protect the home manufacturer. He wanted to put such a high duty on foreign goods that the home manufacturer could sell his goods at a high price, and still undersell the foreigner. In President Harrison's time McKinley, then a member of Congress, succeeded in getting the tariff made higher than ever before, and the Act then passed was known as the McKinley Tariff Act. And just as President Monroe is known outside America chiefly because of the Monroe Doctrine, so President McKinley is known because of the McKinley Tariff Act.


McKinley Tariff, 1890

For many years now the United States had been at peace. But the year after McKinley came into office the country was once more plunged into war.


In days long ago when Englishmen were struggling to found a colony in Virginia, Spain was a great and powerful nation, and her dominions in the New World were vast. But because of her pride and her cruelty Spain lost these dominions one by one, until at length there remained in the Western hemisphere only a few islands, the largest of which was Cuba. But even these were not secure, and again and again the Cubans rose in rebellion against their Spanish oppressors.

Insurrection in Cuba;

The Spaniards waged war against their revolted subjects in most cruel fashion, and the people of the United States looked on with sorrow and indignation at the barbarous deeds which were done at their very doors.


McKinley had been a soldier in the Civil War, and had fought well and gallantly for the flag. But like other soldier Presidents he loved peace more than war. Like Cleveland before him he felt unwilling to plunge the country into war. So he shut his ears, and turned away his eyes from the misery of Cuba.


But there were many Americans in Cuba. They as well as the Cubans were being starved. So ships were sent to Cuba with food for them, and in this way not only they but many Cubans were saved from starvation. Then a United States battleship called the Maine was sent to Cuba, and anchored in the harbour of Havana, to be ready in case of need to help the Americans.

The Maine;

For three weeks the Maine lay rocking at anchor. Then on the night of 15th February, 1898, while every one on board was peacefully sleeping the vessel was blown up, and two hundred and sixty-six men and officers were killed.

is blown up;

When the people of the United States heard the news a wave of anger passed over the land. But the President was calm.


"Wait," he said, "wait till we know how it happened."


So grimly the people waited until experts made an examination. What they found made them believe that the Maine had been attacked from outside. There seemed no doubt that the Spaniards had blown up the vessel although they indignantly denied having had anything to do with it.


Now there was no holding the people, and very shortly war was declared. It was short and sharp. In less than four months it was all over. On land and sea the Spaniards were hopelessly beaten, while in the whole campaign the Americans lost scarcely five hundred men in battle, although more than twice that number died of disease.

war declared, 1898

The war was fought not only in the West Indies but also in the Pacific. For there Spain possessed the Philippine Islands. These islands had been in the possession of Spain ever since their discovery by Magellan more than three hundred and fifty years before, and they had been called the Philippines after King Philip II of Spain. Now the long rule of Spain came to an end.


The first battle of the war was fought in the Bay of Manila, the capital of the Philippine Islands. Here the Spanish fleet was shattered while not an American was killed. A month or two later the town of Manila was taken, and the Philippines were in the power of the Americans.

Battle of Manila, 30th Apr.

In the West Indies too the Spaniards were beaten on land and sea and on August 2nd, 1898, she sued for peace.


By the treaty of peace Cuba became a free republic, while Porto Rico and all the other Spanish islands in the West Indies were given to the United States, as well as the Philippines.

Treaty of Peace

But no sooner was the treaty signed than the Filipinos rose in rebellion against American rule. For three years a kind of irregular war went on. Then the leader of the rebellion, Aguinaldo, was captured, and after that the Filipinos gradually laid down their arms. And when they found that the Americans did not mean to oppress them as the Spaniards had done they became more content with their rule.

Filipinos rebel

The winning of these foreign possessions brought something new into the life and history of America. For now America began to own colonies, a thing quite unlooked for, and not altogether welcome to many.


At this time, also, besides those won in the Spanish War another group of islands came under American rule. These were the Hawaiian Islands, also like the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean.

The Hawaiian Islands;

Hawaii was a monarchy, but for a long time the people had been discontented, and Queen Liliuokalani was the last royal ruler of Hawaii. She wanted to be an absolute monarch, and do what she liked. But when she tried to change the constitution to her liking there was a revolution.

a revolution;

It was a peaceful revolution, and not a shot was fired on either side. It was brought about chiefly by the white people who lived in the islands. A company of marines was landed from the United States cruiser Boston which happened to be in the harbour at the time. The Queen was deposed, and a provisional government set up.


Stamford Dole, an American, was chosen head of this new government. Dole then sent to Washington to ask the United States to annex Hawaii. Meanwhile the stars and stripes were hoisted over the Government buildings at Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii.

Dole asks President Harrison to annex Hawaii, 1893;

All this happened just at the end of Harrison's Presidency. He and his advisers were quite willing to annex Hawaii. But before the matter could be settled his term of office ended, and Cleveland took his place. The new President did not feel at all pleased with what had been done, and he sent a commissioner to Honolulu to find out exactly what had happened, and if the people really wanted to be annexed to the United States.


This commissioner came to the conclusion that the Hawaiians did not want to be annexed and that "a great wrong had been done to a feeble but independent State."


Cleveland therefore refused to annex the islands. He even offered to restore the Queen to her throne if she would promise to forgive all those who had helped to dethrone her. At first she would not promise this, but declared that the leaders of the revolution must be beheaded. In the end, however, she gave way.

the President refuses;

"I must not feel vengeful to any of my people," she said. "If I am restored by the United States, I must forget myself, and remember only my dear people and my country. I must forgive and forget the past, permitting no punishment of any one."


But when Dole was asked to give up the islands he refused. He and his party were ready to fight rather than allow the Queen to be set again upon the throne. And seeing him thus determined President Cleveland gave up his efforts on behalf of the Queen.


So for several years Hawaii remained a little independent republic with Dole as President. Then when McKinley came into power the United States was again asked to take the islands under protection. And in July, 1898, while the Spanish War was being fought, Hawaii was annexed, and with solemn ceremony the flag was once more hoisted in Honolulu.

Hawaii annexed, 1898;

A few years later the islands were made a territory. So the people are now citizens of the United States, and send a representative to Congress.

becomes a territory, April, 1900

No President perhaps grew in the love of the people as McKinley did. At the end of his four years' office he was loved far more than he had been at the beginning, and he was easily elected a second time. And but a few months of his second term had passed when people began to talk of electing him a third time.

McKinley elected a second time, 1899

But when McKinley heard of it he was vexed. He told the people that they must put such an idea out of their heads, for he would not be a candidate for a third term on any consideration.


"All I want," he said, "is to serve through my second term in a way acceptable to my countrymen, and then go on doing my duty as a private citizen."


But alas! He was not to be allowed even to serve out his second term. Only six months of it had gone when he went to visit the great Pan-American Exhibition at Buffalo. Here he made a speech which seemed to show that he was changing his ideas about high tariffs, and that it was time now, he thought, to lower them.

Visits Buffalo Exhibition, 6th Sept.;

Next day he held a great reception in one of the buildings of the Exhibition. Crowds of all sorts of people streamed into the hall, eager to see the President and shake hands with him. Among these came a well-dressed young man who seemed to have hurt his hand, for it was covered with a handkerchief.


The man came quite close to the President who held out his hand with a smile. Then quickly the man fired two shots. Not an injured hand but a pistol had been hidden under the handkerchief.

he is wounded by an assassin;

The President did not fall. He walked steadily enough to a chair, and leant his head upon his hand.


"You are wounded," said his secretary.


"No, I think not. I am not much hurt," replied the President. But his face was white and drawn with pain; blood flowed from his wounds. Yet in his pain he thought only of others.


His first thought was for his wife, who was an invalid. "Don't let her know," he said. But he thought too of the wretched man who had shot him. "Don't hurt him," he murmured.


At first it was thought that the wounds were not fatal, and that the President would recover. But just as every one believed that the danger was over his strength seemed to fail him, and in little more than a week he died.

he dies, 14th Sept.

There was such a shining goodness and honesty about President McKinley that all who came near him loved and respected him. Now he went to his last resting-place mourned not only by his own people but by Great Britain and nearly every country in Europe besides. Even his murderer had no special hatred of McKinley. He was an anarchist who believed it was a good deed to kill any ruler.


So in the midst of his usefulness a good man was ruthlessly slain.



UPON McKinley's death Theodore Roosevelt, The Vice-President, became President. He was the youngest of all the Presidents, being only forty-two when he came into office.


Mr. Roosevelt was in the mountains with his wife and children when the news that the President was dying was brought to him. At nine o'clock at night he started off on a long drive of thirty-five miles to the railway station. The road was narrow, and steep, and full of mudholes, and the drive through the darkness was one of danger.

A wild drive;

A little after five in the morning the station was reached. Here a special train was waiting which carried the Vice-President to Buffalo as fast as might be. But he was too late to see his President in life. For while he was still on his wild drive through the night, President McKinley had passed peacefully to his last rest.


Mr. Roosevelt was the youngest of all presidents, and he brought to the White House a youthful energy and "hustle" such as no President had before. He had strong opinions to which he never hesitated to give voice, and perhaps since Lincoln no President had been so much a dictator.

a young president;

Perhaps the most interesting thing in Roosevelt's presidency was the beginning of the Panama Canal.

The Panama Canal

You remember that when Columbus set forth upon the Sea of Darkness his idea was to reach the east by sailing west. And to this day of his death he imagined that he had reached India by sailing westward. But soon men found out the mistake, and then began the search for the North-West Passage by which they might sail past the great Continent, and so reach India.

What Columbus believed

The North-West Passage, however, proved a delusion. The men turned their attention to the narrow isthmus by which the two vast continents of North and South America are joined. And soon the idea of cutting a canal through this narrow barrier began to be talked of.

The North-West Passage

But time went on and the Spaniards who held sway over the isthmus did no more than talk. Then an adventurous Scotsman was seized with the idea of founding a colony at Darien. He meant to build a great harbour where all the ships of the world would come. Merchandise was to be carried across the isthmus by camels, and soon his colony would be the key of all the commerce of the world.

William Patterson's dream, 1695-9

Such was his golden dream, but it ended in utter failure.


Still the idea grew. Men of many nations began to discuss the possibility of building the canal. And at length the French got leave from the Government of Columbia and work on the canal was begun. But after working for many years the French gave up the undertaking, which was far more difficult, and had cost far more money than they had expected.

The French begin the canal, 1879

Meanwhile the Americans had become much interested in the scheme, and they had begun to think of cutting a canal through the isthmus at Nicaragua. Then when the French company went bankrupt they offered to sell all their rights to the canal to the United States. There was a good deal of discussion over the matter. For some people thought that the Nicaragua route would be better. But in the end it was agreed to take over the canal already begun, and go with it.

They wish to sell their rights, 1897

Everything was arranged when the Colombian Senate refused to sign the treaty. By this treaty they were to receive ten million dollars, besides a yearly rent for the land through which the canal ran. But that sum seemed to them now too small, and they refused to sign the treaty unless the money to be paid down should be increased to twenty-five million dollars.

The Columbian's object

This the United States was unwilling to do. Everything came down to a standstill, and it seemed as if the Panama scheme would have to be given up, when suddenly a new turn was given to affairs. For the people of Panama rose in rebellion against Colombia, and declared themselves a republic.


The United States at once recognized the new republic, and before a month had passed a treaty between the United States and the Republic of Panama was drawn up and signed, and the work on the great canal was begun.

Revolution in Panama, 1903

A good many people, however, were not very pleased at the manner in which the struggle had been ended. They thought that the United States ought not to have taken the part of rebels in such haste. But the President was quite satisfied that he had done the right thing, and that it would have been base not to help the new republic.


In 1901 Mr. Roosevelt had become president "by accident." If it had not been for the tragedy of President McKinley's death he would not have come into power, and the thought grieved him somewhat. So when he was again elected president he was quite pleased. For now he felt that he held his great office because the people wanted him, and not because they could not help having him.

President Roosevelt elected a second time

Few Presidents have grown so much in popularity after coming into office as Mr. Roosevelt. People felt he was a jolly good fellow, and throughout the length and breadth of the land he was known as "Teddy."


"Who is the head of the Government?" a little girl was asked.


"Mr. Roosevelt," was the reply.


"Yes, but what is his official title?"


"Teddy," answered the little one.


During this presidency Oklahoma was admitted to the Union as the forty-sixth state. Oklahoma is an Indian word meaning Redman. It was part of the Louisiana Purchase, and had been set aside as an Indian reservation. All the land, however, was not occupied and as some of it was exceedingly fertile the white people began to agitate to have it opened to them. So at length the Indians gave up their claim to part of this territory in return for a sum of money.

Oklahoma admitted to the Union, 1907

This was in 1889 and President Harrison proclaimed that at twelve o'clock noon on the 22nd of April the land would be opened for settlement. Long before the day people set out in all directions to the borders of Oklahoma. On the morning of the 22nd of April at least twenty thousand people had gathered on the borders. And as soon as the blowing of a bugle announced that the hour of noon had struck there was a wild rush over the border. Before darkness fell whole towns were staked out. Yet there was not enough land for all and many had to return home disappointed. The population of Oklahoma went up with a bound but it was not until eighteen years later, in September, 1907, that it was admitted to the Union as a state.

Oklahoma opened to white settlers, 1889

In 1909 William H. Taft became president. Mr. Taft had been Governor of the Philippines, and had shown great tact and firmness in that post. He and President Roosevelt were friends, and Roosevelt did all he could to further his election.

President Taft, 1909-13

During Mr. Taft's presidency the last two states were admitted to the Union. Ever since the Civil War New Mexico had been seeking admission as a state, and at one time it was proposed to call this state Lincoln. That suggestion, however, came to nothing, and some years later it was proposed to admit New Mexico and Arizona as one state. To this Arizona objected, and at length they were admitted as separate states, New Mexico on the 6th of January and Arizona on the 11th of February, 1912. Both these states were made out of the Mexican Concession and the Gadsden Purchase.

New Mexico and Arizona admitted to the Union, 1912


IN 1913 Mr. Taft's term of office came to an end, and Mr. Woodrow Wilson was elected President. He came into office at no easy time. At home many things needed reform and on the borders there was trouble. For two years the republic of Mexico, which had always been a troublous neighbor, had been in a constant state of anarchy. One revolution followed another, battles and bloodshed became common events. Many Americans had settled in Mexico and in the turmoil American lives were lost and American property ruined. While Mr. Taft was in office he tried to protect the Americans in Mexico.

Mr. Wilson becomes President March, 1913

But he could do little, as the Mexicans made it plain that any interference on the part of America would mean war. Mr. Taft avoided war, but the state of things in Mexico went from bad to worse, and when Mr. Wilson became President a settlement with Mexico was one of the problems he had to face. But first of all the new President turned his thoughts to home matters.


Ever since the McKinley Tariff the duties on goods imported into the country had remained high. Many people, however, had come to believe that high tariffs were a mistake, for while they enriched a few they made living dearer than need be for many. These people wished to have tariffs "for revenue only." That is, they thought duties should only be high enough to produce sufficient income for the needs of the government. They objected to tariffs merely for "protection." That is, they objected to tariffs which "protected" the manufacturer at the expense of the consumer.

The Tariff

President Wilson held these opinions strongly, and during the first year of his presidency a bill was passed by which mere luxuries, things which only rich people bought, were heavily taxed, while the taxes on foodstuffs and wool, things which the poorest need, were made much lighter. These changes in the tariff brought in much less income for the government, and to make up for the loss an Income Tax was levied for the first time, everyone who had more than 4,000 dollars a year having to pay it. In this way again the burden of taxes was shifted from the poor to the rich.

Income Tax levied

The President next turned his attention to the banks. Little change had been made in their way of doing business since the Civil War, and for some time it had been felt that to meet the growing needs of trade a change was wanted. Many people had tried to think out a new system, but it was not easy, and they failed. Mr. Wilson, however, succeeded, and in December, 1913, the Currency Bill was passed.

The Currency Bill

It would take too long, and would be rather difficult, to explain just what this Act was. Shortly it was meant to keep too much money from getting into the hands of a few people, and to give every one with energy and enterprise a chance.


Other Acts connected with the trade of the country followed these, all of which intended to make the life of the weak and poor easier. Of these perhaps the most interesting for us is the Child Labour Act. This Act was meant to keep people from making young children work too hard, and in order to make child labour less profitable to "exploiters" the Act forbids the sending of goods made by children under fourteen from one state to another. If the children are obliged to work at night, or for more than eight hours during the day, the age is raised to sixteen. This Act was signed in September, 1916, but did not come into force until September, 1917.

Child Labour Act

While these things were being done within the country troubles beyond its borders were increasing. First there was trouble with Mexico.


A few days before Mr. Wilson was inaugurated, Madero, the President of Mexico, was deposed and murdered, and a rebel leader named Huerta at once proclaimed himself President. That he had anything to do with the murder of Madero has never been openly proved, but Mr. Wilson, believing that he had, looked upon him as an assassin, and refused to acknowledge him as head of the neighboring republic. But beyond that Mr. Wilson hesitated to mix himself or his country in the Mexican quarrel, believing that the Mexicans themselves could best settle their own affairs.

President of Mexico murdered Feb., 1913

"Shall we deny to Mexico," he asked, a little later, "because she is weak, the right to settle her own affairs? No, I say. I am proud to belong to a great nation that says, 'this country which we could crush shall have as much freedom in her own affairs as we have in ours.'"


Whether the President was wise or unwise in his dealings with Mexico we cannot say. The trouble is too close to us. It is not settled yet. But the one thing we can clearly see is that Mr. Wilson loved and desired peace, not only with Mexico but with the whole of America. He wanted to unite the whole of America, both North and South, in bonds of kindness. He wanted to make the small weak republics of South America feel that the great republic of North America was a watchful friend, and not a watchful enemy, eager, and able when she chose, to crush them. Had the United States put forth her strength, Mexico could have been conquered, doubtless, in no long time. But Mr. Wilson took a wider view than those who counseled such a course. Instead of crushing Mexico, and thereby perhaps arousing the jealousy and suspicion of other weak republics, he tried to use the trouble to increase the good will of these republics toward the United States. He tried to show them that the United States was one with them, and had no desire to enlarge her borders at the expense of another. Whether the means he used were wise or not time will show.

Mr. Wilson desires a Pan-American Alliance

For the most part the country was with the President in his desire to keep out of war with Mexico. This was partly because they believed that America was not prepared for war, partly because they knew that war must certainly end in the defeat of the Mexicans. Having defeated them the United States would be forced to annex their territory, and this no one wanted.


But to keep out of war was no easy matter. The wild disorder in Mexico increased daily. Besides Huerta other claimants for the presidency appeared and the country swarmed with bandit forces under various leaders, all fighting against each other.


At length in April, 1914, some United States sailors who had landed at the Mexican port of Tampico were taken prisoner by the Huertists. They were soon set free again, but Huerta refused to apologize in a satisfactory way, and an American squadron was sent to take possession of Vera Cruz.

United States sailors taken prisoners in Mexico

War seemed now certain. But it was averted, and after holding Vera Cruz for more than seven months the American troops were withdrawn. "We do not want to fight the Mexicans," said Mr. Wilson, at the funeral of the sailors who lost their lives in the attack. "We do not want to fight the Mexicans; we want to serve them if we can. A war of aggression is not a proud thing in which to die. But a war of service is one in which it is a grand thing to die."


On the invitation of the United States three of the South American republics, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, known from their names as the A. B. C. Powers, now joined with the United States in trying to settle the Mexican difficulty. In May, 1914, they held a Mediation Conference at Niagara Falls in Canada. But nothing came of it, and the disorder in Mexico continued as before.

Mediation Conference, May, 1914

In July, however, there seemed some hope of a settlement. Huerta fled to Europe leaving his friend, Francisco Carbajal, as President. For a month Carbajal kept his post. Then anarchy worse than ever broke loose. Three men, Carranza, Villa, and Zapata, each declaring themselves President, filled the land with bloodshed and ruin.

Huerta leaves Mexico

Once again on the invitation of the United States South America intervened, delegates from six South American republics meeting at Washington to consider what could be done to bring peace to the distracted country. They decided to give the Mexicans three months in which to settle their quarrels, and warned them that if by that time order was not restored United America would be forced to take action.

Pan-American Conference meets at Washington, August, 1915

Soon after this, however, Carranza succeeded in subduing his rivals to a certain extent, and got possession of the greater part of the country. The United States, therefore, recognized him as President of Mexico, and very shortly many of the European powers did the same.

Carranza acknowledged as President of Mexico, Nov., 1915

It seemed as if peace might really come at last to Mexico. But although Villa was worsted he was by no means crushed, and he and his undisciplined followers still kept the country in a state of unrest, doing many deeds of violence. In January, 1916, these marauding troops seized and murdered a party of Americans. A little later they crossed the frontiers, and were only driven back after a sharp encounter with United States troops.

Villa continues his brigandage

This brigandage had to be stopped, and, as Carranza seemed unable to subdue the rebels, five thousand American troops entered Mexico intent on punishing Villa and his bandits. But the task was no easy one. Villa was well suited to be a bandit leader, and he was thoroughly at home in the wild and mountainous country. The Americans, however, pressed him hard, and a battle was fought in which he was believed for a time to have been killed. Soon, however, he was discovered to be alive, and as aggressive as before.

American troops enter Mexico, March, 1916

Meanwhile President Carranza had grown restless and suspicious of American interference, and demanded that the United States troops should be withdrawn from Mexican soil. Indeed he became so threatening that Mr. Wilson called out the militia, and ordered a squadron of war vessels to Mexican waters.

Carranza's attitude

Scarcely was this done when the news reached Washington that a skirmish had taken place between Mexican and United States troops, in which forty had been killed, and seventeen taken prisoners.


War was now certain. But once more it was averted. Carranza set his prisoners free and proposed that the two republics should settle their differences by arbitration.


To this Mr. Wilson agreed, and in the beginning of September a Commission composed of delegates from both countries came together. The Commission suggested that both Mexico and the United States should work together to patrol the frontiers, and safeguard them from further raids. But to this Carranza would not agree, and in February, 1917, the United States troops were withdrawn, and Mexico was once more left "to save herself."

Joint American-Mexican Commission, Sept., 1916


THE disorder in Mexico was distressing to America, it was disastrous to the Mexicans themselves. But the effect on America as a whole was slight, while the world at large felt it scarcely at all.


In August, 1914, while the Mexican trouble was still grave, the Great War broke out in Europe. This, strange to say, was to prove a far greater menace to the peace of the United States than the war and bloodshed in the turbulent republic on her borders.

European war begins August, 1914

In the days of the French Revolution, when France was warring with a sea of foes, Washington had declared the United States to be neutral. He had refused to draw sword even in aid of the friend who only a few years before had helped Americans so generously in their struggle for freedom. He was wise. For in those days America was weak. She was the youngest of the world's great nations, she had hardly "found herself." Had she mixed herself in the European quarrel she would have suffered greatly, perhaps might even have lost her new-found freedom.


All this Washington knew. Gratitude was due to France, but not useless sacrifice, which would merely bring ruin on America, and help France not at all. So Washington declared for neutrality, and maintained it.


Thirty years later Monroe announced his famous Doctrine. That Doctrine in the words of Henry Jefferson was, "First, never to entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe; second, never to suffer Europe to intermeddle with cis-Atlantic affairs." To that doctrine America has remained faithful. But in the ninety years which have passed since it was first announced many changes have taken place. America is no longer weak, but grown to giant's strength, great among the great. The trade of Europe and the trade of America have become interlocked, discoveries and inventions, the wonders of steam and electricity, have made light of the broad Atlantic. To-day men come and go from the one continent to the other with greater ease than a hundred years ago they went from Boston to Washington.

Changes since the announcement of the Monroe Doctrine

By a thousand ties of commerce and of brotherhood the old world is bound to the new. So the war cloud which darkened Europe cast its shadow also over America, even although at first there was no thought that America would be drawn into the war. Was it possible, men asked, while Europe was at death grips, for America still to keep her "splendid isolation," was it not time for her to take a place, "In the Parliament of man, in the Federation of the world?"


The ties which bind America to Europe bind her to no one country, but to all; bind her equally, it would seem, to France, Britain and Germany. The first founders of the Republic were of British stock, but with the passing years millions of Germans have found a home within her hospitable borders, together with natives of every nation at war. How then could America take sides? No matter which side she took it seemed almost certain to lead to civil war at home. So on the 11th of August, 1914, Mr. Wilson proclaimed the neutrality of the United States.

The mixed nature of the American nation

To the great bulk of the nation this seemed wise, for the nation as a whole loves and desires peace, and realizes the madness and uselessness of war. Indeed America more than the nations of the Old World has come to see the war is an old-fashioned, worn-out way of settling quarrels.

President proclaims neutrality 11th Aug., 1914

But although the United States might proclaim her neutrality she was none the less entangled in the war. Germany declared a blockade of Britain, Britain declared a blockade of Germany, and these Orders in Council had a far greater effect on American trade than the Berlin Decrees and the Orders in Council in the day of Napoleon. Difficulties arose with both countries. But the difficulties which arose with Britain were such as wise statesmanship might allay. They were concerned with such things as the censoring of mails, and other irritating delays, which interfered with and caused loss of trade. With Germany the difficulties were of a far more serious order, and soon all sane and freedom loving men found it difficult, if not impossible, to remain neutral in spirit.


The German cause had never been a good one. No danger threatened the country. No European nation desired to make war upon them. They went to war wantonly, and without just cause. Soon it became plain that they meant to wage war with a ruthlessness and inhumanity the world had never known. They threw to the winds all the laws of "fair play." Treaties became for them mere "scraps of paper," to be torn if necessity demanded. They marched through Belgium murdering and torturing the people, wantonly destroying the splendid buildings which had been the country's glory and pride. Zeppelins attacked watering places and fishing villages, ruining peaceful homes, slaying women and children, without reason or profit. Submarines waged ruthless war on the seas, attacking alike traders, passenger vessels or hospital ships, belligerent or neutral, without distinction.

Germany's Method of warfare

As outrage followed outrage the whole world was filled with horror, and one by one Germany's friends turned from her, estranged by her deeds of violence. These were days, as Mr. Wilson said, "to try men's souls," and the burden of guiding the ship of state through the sea of difficulties lay heavy upon him.


At home and abroad his critics were many. Some praised him because he kept the nation steadfastly on the difficult path of peace, others blamed him because it seemed to them he did not sufficiently uphold American honour, and submitted to German insults rather than draw the sword. No great man in a difficult hour can escape criticism. Few, if any, can escape mistakes.


Amid the clash of opinions one thing was clear, that Mr. Wilson was a patriot. And when in 1916 the time came to choose a President he was re-elected for a second term of four years.

Mr. Wilson re-elected President

In March, 1917, the President entered upon his new term of office well aware that a hard road lay before him and his country. As he took the oath he opened and kissed the Bible at the passage "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." His address was imbued with a sense of the dread solemnity of the times.


"I stand here, and have taken the high solemn oath," he said, "because the people of the United States have chosen me, and by their gracious judgement have named me their leader in affairs. I know now what the task means.


"I pray God that I be given wisdom and prudence to do my duty in the true spirit of this great people. I am their servant, and can succeed only as they sustain and guide me by their confidence, and their counsel...


"The shadows that now lie dark upon our path will soon be dispelled. We shall walk with light all about us if we be but true to ourselves–to ourselves as we have wished to be known in the counsels of the world, in the thought of all those who love liberty, justice, and right exalted."


We cannot here follow in detail all the steps by which Germany forced America at length to declare war. It was in a spirit of service that Mr. Wilson took up his office for a second time, of service not only to his own country but to the world. In the cause of that service he saw himself forced to lead his country into war.


Germany had filled America with spies, plotting constantly against her peace and her honour. She had run amuck upon the seas, and by her submarine warfare endangered the lives and welfare of all mankind. She had become a menace to the world's freedom. The President loves peace even as the soul of America loves peace. But both President and people became at length convinced that the only way to restore peace to the world was to defeat the authors of the war.


Having arrived at this grave conclusion there was no turning back, and on the 2nd April, 1917, Mr. Wilson announced his decision at a joint session of the two houses of Congress.

America determines to fight for the right

It was not lightly undertaken.


"It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts–for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations, and make the world itself at last free.


"To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness, and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her she can do no other."


In these noble words the President of the United States threw down the gauge of battle. There was in his heart no rancour against the German people, but only a righteous wrath against her criminal rulers who for their own selfish ends had plunged the world in misery. Never in the world's history has a great nation gone to war in so chivalrous a spirit, for so unselfish ends.


"We have no selfish ends to serve," said the President. "We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them."


The voice was the voice of the President, but he spoke from the heart of the people. Brought together from the ends of the earth, speaking many tongues, worshiping God in many ways, diverse in character and in custom, the nation which stands behind the President to-day is one in heart. In the fiery trail of battle America has found her soul, and the American by adoption has proved himself as truly a citizen of the country as the American by birth. Divided by birth and language, by religion and custom, they are one in soul, one in their desire to dedicate themselves to the great unselfish task they have taken in hand, one in the zeal of sacrifice.

The nation as one

Who can say what days of terror and splendour the future may hold? As I write it lies before us a blacker sea of darkness and adventure than that Columbus crossed. But it would seem that for the great Republic it can hold no diviner hour than this. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."


There could be found no more splendid close to a splendid story.


"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword;
     His truth is marching on.


He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgement seat;
O, be swift, my soul, to answer Him; be jubilant, my feet,–
     Our God is marching on.


In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
     While God is marching on."

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

This book has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK Initiative at the
Celebration of Women Writers.
Initial text entry and proof-reading of this book were the work of volunteers at
Ambleside Online.

Please note that numbering of chapters has been modernized for the convenience of modern readers. The original chapters numbers followed the convention I, II, III ... XCIX. With this exception, the original style and layout have been recreated.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom