Part 8 out of 11
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
Then bowing his head he kissed the Bible help 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
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.
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 gentleman folk were much more ceremonious
than they are today. 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
This time Washington had his way and laid down his office. Then,
as second President, the people chose John Adams, who had already
Chapter 65 - Adams - How He Kept Peace with France
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
While Adams was President, in 1796, another state was added to the
Union. This was Tennessee, which was an offshoot from North Carolina.
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
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.
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 "Mudhole." 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
Chapter 66 - Jefferson - How the Territory of the United States
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.
Jefferson first President inaugurated in Washington
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.
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
It was while Jefferson was President in 1803 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.
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.
It was one of the worst defeats white men ever suffered at the hands
of the Indians. The whole countryside was filled with the 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
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.
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 1893 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 in 1803. By
this a vast territory was added to the United States.
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
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.
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."
Three greatest events in the History of the United States
And indeed, after the Revolution, and the great Civil War which
was to come later, the Louisiana Purchase is the greatest event in
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
Chapter 67 - Jefferson - How the Door Into the Far West was Opened
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.
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.
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 travelers
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 travelers had no lack
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
"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.
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 travelers 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 travelers stayed at Fort Mandan till the beginning of April;
then the ice being melted on the river 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.
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
Other dangers, too, beset the travelers. 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?"
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 travelers 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.
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.
"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
Having at length reached the Columbia River the travelers 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.
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.
Other travelers 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.
Chapter 68 - Jefferson - About An American Who Wanted to be a King
When Jefferson had been chosen President, another man named Aron
Burr had run him very close. And, when the final choice fell on
Jefferson, Aron 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.
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
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.
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
Aron 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.
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.
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
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 Aron 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
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 Aron Burr, a prisoner.
I claim your protection."
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Chapter 69 - Madison - The Shooting Star and the Prophet
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
Chapter 70 - Madison - War with Great Britain
The Berlin Decree, 1806, and the Orders in Council,1807
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.
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.
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
Guerriere. The Guerriere 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.
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 Guerriere was shot away; very soon the main mast followed,
and in less than half an hour the Guerriere 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,
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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, he had to fight.
In Battle of the Thames, Oct. 5, 1813, 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.
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.
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.
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
"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.
"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 1812.
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
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
Chapter 71 - Monroe-The First Whispers of a Storm-Monroe's Famous
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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."
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
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.
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.
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.
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,
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 degrees 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
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.
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.
Chapter 72 - Adams - The Tariff of Abominations
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.
Still, much was done in this direction. Several canals were cut;
railroads began to be built, and the rivers were covered with
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.
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
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.
Chapter 73 - Jackson - "Liberty and Union, Now and Forever" - Van
Buren - Hard Times
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
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
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.
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."
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.
As President, Jackson did many good things. But he did one bad
thing. He began what is known as 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 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
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
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."
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.
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
"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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Chapter 74 - Harrison - The Hero of Tippecanoe
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Chapter 75 - Tyler - Florida Becomes a State
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 hey had all failed.
And both sides had become so angry over it that it was very nearly
a question of war.
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
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.
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 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.
Chapter 76 - Polk - How Much Land Was Added to the United States
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
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.
But really this agreement could matter little to Spain, for the
Mexicans were already in revolt, and in 1821 declared themselves