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The Nation in a Nutshell by George Makepeace Towle

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resist; hence a resolution was passed by a convention in South Carolina
that after a certain date the tariff should be null and void within her
limits. It was further resolved that if the United States attempted to
enforce it, South Carolina should secede, and form an independent
government. John C. Calhoun was, or was charged with being, the
instigator of this movement. It was at once quelled, however, by the
prompt action of President Jackson. He sent troops and war-ships to
Charleston, under the command of General Scott; and "nullification" was
overawed and defeated.

President Jackson also had the nerve to veto the bill creating a
national bank; and when, after two terms of service, he retired, he gave
up to the rule of his designated successor a nation of fifteen millions
of people, solvent, prosperous, and apparently destined to a long career
of peace and power. The four years of President Van Buren's term were
not notable for great events, and are chiefly interesting as exhibiting
the re-formation of parties, in which the lines between the Whigs and
the Democrats became more defined and distinct. Van Buren was the leader
of the Democrats, but was soon to lose that leadership by reason of his
connection with the fast-growing anti-slavery cause. Henry Clay was the
Whig chief; and continued to be so, despite the rivalry of Webster, down
to the time of his death. [Sidenote: Causes of the Mexican War.]

[Sidenote: Texas.]

It was during the term of President John Tyler, who succeeded to the
chief magistracy after poor worn-out old General Harrison had exercised
its functions for one brief month, that the events took their rise which
ripened into the War with Mexico. The large territory of Texas, lying
upon our extreme southwestern border, between Louisiana and Mexico, had
revolted from the latter nation and set up an independent republic of
its own. Texas had been largely colonized from the slave States, and
General Sam Houston, formerly of Tennessee, was its President.

[Sidenote: Election of Polk.]

The republic sought admission to our Union in 1837, but the application
was then refused. Seven years later, Mr. Tyler gave it a more hospitable
reception. A treaty was framed, and at first rejected by the United
States Senate. At last, in March, 1845, just as Mr. Tyler was retiring
from office, a resolution was adopted by both houses of Congress
annexing Texas, and this resolution was approved by the outgoing
President. The presidential campaign in the autumn of 1844, between
Henry Clay as the Whig and James K. Polk as the Democratic candidate,
was fought mainly upon the issue of this annexation, and the election of
Mr. Polk was looked upon as a confirmation of it by the people.

[Sidenote: Boundary Dispute.]

No sooner had the new President been inaugurated than what the Whig
leaders had earnestly predicted came to pass. A dispute arose with
Mexico as to the boundary between that country and Texas. Mexico claimed
that this boundary was the river Nueces; Texas asserted it to be the Rio
Grande. The matter was one of some importance, as the Nueces is a
hundred miles northeastward from the Rio Grande, and that much of
territory was therefore in dispute. The brief negotiations which ensued
with a view to the settlement of this question, proved abortive.
President Polk accordingly ordered General Zachary Taylor to occupy the
disputed territory with a small body of troops. Taylor concentrated his
men at Corpus Christi, near the frontier.

[Sidenote: First Battles.]

The Mexicans were equally prompt, and the first collisions occurred at
Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, near the Rio Grande. General Taylor
repulsed the enemy with little difficulty and but small loss, and,
crossing the Rio Grande, advanced upon and captured Matamoras. Thus far
the hostilities had proceeded when a formal declaration of war was made
against Mexico by the United States. Clay and the Whigs strenuously
opposed this action; but the administration party bore down all
opposition. Volunteers now flocked, especially from the Southern States,
to Taylor's standard; and in a few weeks he found himself at the head
of a resolute though not very well disciplined force of nearly eight
thousand men. Monterey, a fortified town of considerable importance, was
held by about nine thousand Mexican troops. General Taylor's objective
point was the City of Mexico.

[Sidenote: Taylor's Campaign.]

After an attack of three days, Monterey fell into his hands. Victory
followed his army everywhere. Santa Anna, a crafty and able man, who
had sat in the presidential chair of Mexico, was now in command of the
Mexican army, and confronted Taylor at Huena Vista. His gallant attempt
to stay the advance of the triumphant Americans, however, failed, for
Taylor defeated him in what was perhaps the most brilliantly and hotly
contested action of the war. Taylor's force at Buena Vista numbered
about six thousand men, the larger part of them being but rudely
disciplined soldiers. Santa Anna's command comprised at least twenty
thousand Mexicans. It was at Buena Vista that the Lancers, the best body
of troops in the Mexican army, were routed by the dashing onset of the
American volunteers.

[Sidenote: Victory at Vera Cruz.]

[Sidenote: Scott Enters Mexico.]

General Scott now appeared upon the scene to reap fresh victories, and
to lend powerful aid, by his scientific skill and ripe military
judgment, in bringing the war to a decisive issue. He was despatched
with an army to attack Vera Cruz, the most important port and fort on
the Mexican coast. His force numbered between eleven and twelve thousand
men, and he was supported by Commodore Matthew Perry, who operated with
a fleet in the Gulf. Vera Cruz fell after a vigorous bombardment and a
brave defence. The Mexicans could no longer hold the fortress of San
Juan D'Ulloa, which was speedily occupied by General Scott. The two
victories of Buena Vista and Vera Cruz rendered the cause of the
Mexicans hopeless. The fall of the capital was only a question of more
or less delay. The resistance of the Mexicans was still obstinate,
though always ineffectual. The troops of the United States won in
succession the battles of Cerro Gordo, Cherubusco, El Molino del Rey and
Chapultepec. Finally, on the 14th of September, 1847, the American army
of six thousand, under Winfield Scott, entered the City of Mexico. This
was one year and four months after war had been declared by Congress.

Besides these main operations, there were various collateral movements
designed to cripple the power and diminish the territory of Mexico.
General Kearney, with an independent force of volunteers, had marched
into and taken possession of the province of New Mexico; Colonel
Doliphan had in like manner occupied Chihuahua; while Colonel Fremont,
placing himself at the head of a band of American settlers recruited in
the valley of the Sacramento, and supported by Commodore Stockton, had
availed himself of the opportunity to hold Upper California for the
United States.

[Sidenote: The Treaty of Peace.]

Thus Mexico was subdued and compelled to come to terms, her enemy
dictating these from her own capital. Commissioners met at the city of
Guadalupe Hidalgo to conclude a treaty of peace. By this instrument
Mexico agreed to accept the Rio Grande as the boundary between herself
and Texas, adding thereby to the territory of the United States an area
of not less than five hundred thousand square miles; to make over New
Mexico and Upper California to the United States in consideration of the
sum of fifteen millions of dollars; and to guarantee the debts due from
Mexico to American citizens. This treaty was duly ratified and exchanged
in the spring of 1848--about two years after the beginning of

[Sidenote: Political Effect of the War.]

[Sidenote: California.]

The political effect of the Mexican War was to add a large territory and
a fast-increasing population to the tier of slave-holding States, and
thus to aggrandize the slave-holding oligarchy, as opposed to the party
in favor of free soil. On the other hand, the military glory won by
General Taylor, and his adoption in the year after the war as the Whig
candidate for the Presidency, singularly enough brought into power the
party which had persistently opposed both the annexation of Texas,
and the war which had been undertaken to complete it. The Mexican War
provided the parties with four presidential candidates, Generals Taylor,
Scott, Pierce, and Fremont, two of whom succeeded in reaching the
summit of executive authority. When Colonel Fremont raised the American
standard in California, it was little imagined that he was acquiring
a province for the country the value of which was destined to be
incalculably greater than the Texan republic. Within a year, however,
the gold mines had been discovered, and that wonderful civilization of
the Pacific Coast which we now witness had begun to grow up in the far
western wilderness.



[Sidenote: Slavery Inherited.]

The United States inherited, and had to accept, from the colonial
system, a great moral and social wrong. Slavery, planted on our soil
soon after its first settlement, had spread not only through the South,
but had existed for a time even in the Puritan colonies of New England.
An active slave-trade had grown up, and was still flourishing at the
time that the constitution was framed. There is every reason to believe
that the most eminent and enlightened even of Southern statesmen, in the
very infancy of the Republic, regarded African bondage as not only a
moral, but, in many regards, a material evil. Washington and Jefferson
especially uttered, in no doubtful accents, their dislike of the system;
while such northern statesmen as Franklin, Adams, and Roger Sherman
protested in yet sterner tones against its continuance.

[Sidenote: Strength of the Slave Power.]

[Sidenote: The Missouri Compromise.]

But slavery, like many traditional abuses of nations, was so securely
lodged, so difficult to uproot, that wise men at once deplored its
presence and despaired of its abolition. While, therefore, the framers
of the constitution refused to insert a direct recognition of slavery in
that instrument, choosing to regard it as temporary, and likely in time
to become extinct, other subjects, crowding upon the attention of
statesmen at the period of political formation, pushed this of slavery
for a while into the background. The first definite collision between
the upholders and the opponents of slavery occurred when, as a
consequence of the rapid growth of the country, the territories began
one after another to knock for admission into the household of States.
The dispute came to an issue in the year 1820. Missouri sought admission
into the Union, and it was attempted to admit her as a slave state. Then
the Northern statesmen declared that some limit or restriction should be
placed upon future admissions of States, in regard to slavery.

[Sidenote: The "Slavery Agitation."]

The debates in Congress were long and warm. Every argument which has
since become so familiar on the subject was advanced on one side and on
the other. The moral evil of slavery, its demoralizing influence upon
freeman and bondman, its cruelties in practice, were dilated upon by
some; others pictured "the peculiar institution" in its more patriarchal
and pleasant aspects. Finally, the northern members agreed to admit
Missouri as a slave State, on condition that thenceforth all new states
north of the line of 36 deg.30'north latitude-- known as "Mason and Dixon's
line"--should be free; while all new states south of that line should
decide for themselves whether they should be free or slave. It was the
vain hope of the statesmen of Monroe's time that this settlement, known
in history as the "Missouri Compromise," would be accepted as final, and
that the mutual ill-feeling which had already become bitter between the
sections would be finally allayed by it.

They flattered themselves that they had put a period to the agitation,
and that the irritating question was now cast outside the domain of
American politics. Perhaps they did not sufficiently reflect that the
same power which had established the boundaries of slavery might,
when the opportunity was ripe, erase them. The slavery agitation was,
however, only in its infancy. It had within it a vital and irrepressible
element of growth. With the advance of civil liberty, the growth of
education, it, too, must necessarily make progress. As yet it was in the
hands of so-called "fanatics." Respectable statesmanship, having made
the Missouri Compromise, would have no more of it.

[Sidenote: The "Liberty Party."]

[Sidenote: Garrison.]

It was early in General Jackson's presidency that the small but
determined "Liberty party" of the North began to attract attention by
what was considered the extravagance of its utterances, and the
absurdity of its proposals. The Quaker Lundy published his "Genius of
Universal Emancipation"; Garrison put forth the "Liberator" at Boston;
and soon, in various parts of the Union, abolition tracts and fanatical
orators brought down upon them not only the execration of the South, but
the assaults of northern mobs. An insurrection, under the lead of a
negro named Turner, broke out in Virginia, and massacres and burnings
followed. The Georgia Legislature put a price upon Garrison's head; and
that devoted advocate of human freedom responded by founding the New
England Anti-Slavery Society--an example soon followed in various places
through the North.

[Sidenote: Sympathy for the Slaves.]

[Sidenote: Lovejoy Killed.]

The cause was right, and grew despite every obstacle of mob violence,
persecution, contempt, and, not the least, the indignant hostility of
respectable statesmanship. Yet evidences began to appear, here and
there, that the sympathy even of official responsibility was gradually
leaning to the principle of liberty. The Massachusetts Supreme Court
declared the child Med, whose master had brought her to Boston, to have
become by that act free. There was still, however, much suffering in
store for the anti-slavery advocates. Garrison, in attempting to speak
before the Female Anti-Slavery Society in Boston, was dragged through
the streets by an enraged mob, and was only saved from death by being
hurried to the jail as a refuge. A hall in Philadelphia which had been
desecrated by an abolition conference, was burned. Elijah Lovejoy, an
Illinois abolition editor, was killed by a mob. These are a few among
many examples of the violence with which the abolitionists were

The old "Liberty party," however, grew gradually into the larger and
more powerful "Free Soil" party, of which the venerable John Quincy
Adams became the champion in the House of Representatives, and Martin
Van Buren the presidential candidate in 1848. It was still, of course,
a small minority, but its influence was now distinctly felt in the
legislative councils and in the politics of the country. The petitions
in favor of abolition which invaded Congress created alarm in the South,
and at last the southern members found it necessary to pass a rule
excluding these "incendiary documents" altogether.

[Sidenote: The Compromise of 1850.]

If the Free Soilers were becoming formidable, the South was also
resolved to assume the offensive. Its triumph in securing the annexation
of Texas as another slave State was followed, a few years after, by the
celebrated "Compromise" of 1850; by which, while California was admitted
as a free State, and the slave trade was abolished in the District of
Columbia, the Fugitive Slave Law was also conceded. This aroused the
indignation of very large numbers in the North, and the treatment of
fugitives under it, notably that of Jerry in New York State, and
of Anthony Burns in Boston, did much to develop and strengthen the
anti-slavery feeling. The outrageous character of the law was too
palpable to be unperceived and unresented.

[Sidenote: The Free Sellers.]

[Sidenote: Border Ruffianism.]

The next effort of the slave power provoked the formation of a great
national anti-slavery party, out of the old Free Soil elements. This
effort, which, by the aid of the Pierce administration and some Northern
statesmen, was successful, was to destroy the Missouri Compromise of
1820 and thus open the way to the creation of slave States north, as
well as south, of Mason and Dixon's line. The immediate object of this
policy was to make slave States of Kansas and Nebraska, two great
territories which were ready for admission into the fatuity of the
Union. No sooner had the Nebraska Bill passed, in May, 1854, than the
terrible scenes of "border ruffianism" began. As the new law required
that the inhabitants of the territories should themselves decide whether
slavery should exist or not, the attempt was made to convert Kansas into
a slave State by invasions of "border ruffians" from Missouri. After a
long and bloody struggle, the cause of freedom triumphed in the two
disputed territories.

[Sidenote: The "Irrepressible Conflict."]

The events in that part of the Union served to win many converts to the
anti-slavery cause in the North. The Republican party was organized on
the eve of the Presidential election of 1856. Its chief doctrine was
that no more slave States whatever should be admitted to the Union. It
put a ticket into the field with Colonel John Charles Fremont as the
candidate for President, and William L. Dayton of New Jersey for Vice-
President. It could not be expected that so young a party would triumph
at its first essay; but when Fremont received 113 electoral votes,
while Buchanan had only 177, it was appreciated everywhere that the
"irrepressible conflict" between slavery and liberty was fast
approaching its crisis.

[Sidenote: John Brown's Raid.]

The self-sacrificing heroism of a fanatic, the most salient incident of
the slavery agitation during the Presidency of Buchanan, had a marked
influence in hastening the final issue. This was John Brown's raid upon
Harper's Ferry, for the purpose of setting free the slaves. The old
man's courage, his utter self-devotion to his cause, his noble death,
his simple and sincere character, appealed most strongly to the sympathy
of the opponents of slavery, and even compelled words of strong praise
from the lips of Henry A. Wise, the Virginia Governor, who signed his

[Sidenote: The South Prepares to Secede.]

The cause of free soil at last attained its triumph in the election
of 1860. All things foreshadowed the success of Abraham Lincoln. The
northern people were ripe for decisive action against the extension, at
least, of human bondage. The Democratic party divided into two factions
at Charleston, and the factions put each a candidate into the field,
mutually to destroy each other. The South so far gave up the contest as
to make preparations, while the presidential battle was yet raging,
to withdraw from the Union. Then, as the grand, bitter, but necessary
result of the long-continued slavery agitation, the war came, and wiped
out slavery with the blood of patriots.



[Sidenote: The Civil War.]

The great American Rebellion of 1861-65 is still, perhaps, too near to
be judged with the calm and judicial spirit which gives its chief value
to history. Thousands of those who took part in it on either side are
yet living; millions who witnessed its progress, and watched its course
with varying emotions of grief and joy, who mourned its dead, exulted in
its victories, and hailed its termination, yet hold it in vivid memory.
Moreover, all that could be said of it, from bald narrative to infinite
discussion of this and that general, this and that campaign or
stratagem, of causes and effects, has already been repeated till the
tale has been, not twice, but many times told.

The results of that awful yet necessary conflict are still being felt,
in one way or another, by all of us. Many a household still mourns the
loss of those who died on southern battle-fields. We feel the war in our
business, in our pockets. We feel it in the financial enigmas which
even yet await solution. And although we have come to a period of
reconciliation, when we can with free hearts garland with roses the
graves alike of the blue and the gray, we feel still the indirect
influences of the war in our political contests.

[Sidenote: Origin of the War.]

[Sidenote: Secession.]

The war may be said to have had its origin in two not necessarily
connected circumstances. It was the fruit, on the one hand, of a certain
political doctrine; on the other, of a threatened and to-be-defended
social condition. The political doctrine was that called "State's
rights," from which two corollaries were deduced by Calhoun and his
disciples: "nullification," or the right of a State to disobey a United
States law; and "secession," or the right of a State to withdraw from
the Union at will. The social condition was that of slavery, threatened,
as the South thought, by the election of Abraham Lincoln, and to be
defended under cover of the political doctrine which Calhoun had taught
the South to credit and to cherish. Thus, while the cause of the
rebellion was slavery, its justification was an asserted constitutional
right. The North did not believe in slavery, or at least in the
extension of slavery. But what the North at first undertook to subdue
was not slavery in the States, but the altogether destructive doctrine
of secession.

[Sidenote: South Carolina's "Ordinance."]

[Sidenote: Fort Sumter Taken.]

The threat loudly uttered during the election of 1860, that the South
would secede if Lincoln were chosen, was duly followed up by action in a
few weeks after that event. Before Christmas South Carolina had passed
her famous "ordinance," and by early February, 1861, Mississippi,
Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas had followed in her
footsteps. The senators and representatives of these States in Congress
retired front its halls, breathing defiance as they went. South Carolina
took the lead in military, as she had done in political action. Claiming
the national property within her limits, she attached and took Fort
Sumter in Charleston harbor. The way had been prepared for this by
Secretaries Floyd and Toucey of the Buchanan Cabinet, who had sent South
materials of war, and so disposed the navy as to render it for the time
powerless for aid in the Union cause.

[Sidenote: Call for Troops.]

Lincoln was now President. The guns fired at Sumter roused the North,
and gave the signal of war, proving that a conflict could no longer be
avoided. Meanwhile, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas
were hurried out of the Union by the political leaders. On the day
following the fall of Sumter, the President issued his call for
seventy-five thousand volunteers, and the governors were urged to send
such forces as they could at once to Washington, which was threatened
with an attack. Then came the assault upon the gallant Sixth
Massachusetts in the streets of Baltimore, the isolation of Washington,
and its relief. A blockade of the southern ports was proclaimed.

[Sidenote: Bull Run.]

After a few minor engagements, such as those in Western Virginia, in
which McClellan was successful, and at Big Bethel, the first great
battle was fought on July 21, 1861, at Bull Run. This was in consequence
of an attempt by General Scott to advance upon Richmond. The result was
the total defeat of the Union army, which recoiled in confusion upon
Washington. Later in the first year of the war, General Lyon gained some
advantages over the rebels in Missouri, and naval expeditions were sent
to Hatteras and Port Royal; General Scott yielded the command-in-chief
to General McClellan, and rebel privateers appeared upon the ocean, and
began their destructive depredations upon our commerce. Great Britain
had too hastily recognized the belligerent rights of the rebels, and in
November the capture of Mason and Slidell was followed by their delivery
again to the protection of the British flag.

[Sidenote: Second Year of the War.]

The second year of the war found no less than half a million of soldiers
enlisted in the army of the Union. It seemed as if we were now ready
to cope with rebellion in all its extent and strength. The hope of an
approaching and decisive triumph animated the hearts of the loyal.
McClellan now led the Army of the Potomac against Richmond, approaching
it from the east. Then followed the battle of Fair Oaks, and the
Seven Days' battles, of which that at Malvern Hill was the most hotly
contested. The Confederates were beaten, with terrible loss on both
sides. Cedar Mountain and the second Bull Run followed, the latter
proving a disaster as serious as the former struggle on the same field
had been.

[Sidenote: Antietam.]

Then came Lee's advance into Maryland, his capture of Frederick City,
and that great battle, Antietam, in which Lee was repulsed and retreated
into Virginia. But McClellan, having failed to follow up his advantage,
was relieved of the command-in-chief, which was conferred on Burnside.
Burnside's repulse at Fredericksburg was followed by a discouraging
retreat. But though the attempt to capture Richmond was foiled, in other
parts of the country many advantages were obtained by the Union forces
in the year 1862.

[Sidenote: Union Victories.]

Prominent among these were the victory of the _Monitor_ over the
_Merrimac_, in Hampton Roads; the capture of Roanoke Island and Fort
Pulaski; Grant's gallant victories at Forts Henry and Donelson, at
Island No. 10, and, later, at Pittsburg Landing; and the heroic taking
of New Orleans by Farragut and Butler.

[Sidenote: Chancellorsville.]

At the very threshold of the third year of the war, President Lincoln
issued the "Proclamation of Emancipation." Thus not only was the crime
of slavery wiped away, but a new source of strength to our forces was
provided by the emancipated negroes, who were enlisted to aid in the
confirmation of their freedom by final victory. The first half of the
year 1863 witnessed what was perhaps the gloomiest and most
disheartening period of the war. Hooker succeeded Burnside, only to meet
at Chancellorsville the same disastrous fate which had overtaken his
predecessor at Fredericksburg. General Lee was encouraged to assume the
offensive, and to invade Pennsylvania. The North was discouraged; the
expense of the war began to be grievously felt; the draft was becoming
very obnoxious; the desertions from the army were alarming in number.

[Sidenote: Gettysburg.]

Lee advanced by the Shenandoah Valley into the Northern States. But at
Gettysburg he met the reorganized Union army, under Meade. The collision
of one hundred and sixty thousand men, lasting for three days, resulted
in that hard-won Union victory which proved the turning-point of the
war. On the day of Lee's retreat from Gettysburg, the Fourth of July,
Vicksburg was surrendered to Grant. Soon after, Port Hudson fell, and
the Mississippi was opened to the passage of troops. Then the Battle of
Chattanooga was fought and won, and Tennessee was rid of Confederate
occupation. Meanwhile, the siege of Charleston was proceeding on the
coast, and before the end of the year Fort Wagner was taken.

[Sidenote: Grant Commander-in-chief.]

[Sidenote: Sherman's March to the Sea.]

We have now reached the fourth year of the war, 1864. It was now clear
that the result was only a question of time. The first events of the
year were not brilliant. Kilpatrick made his famous but futile raid near
Richmond; Hanks met with disaster at Red River; Forrest captured Fort
Pillow and killed three hundred negro troops. The last act of the
momentous drama began by the elevation of General Ulysses S. Grant to
the command-in-chief in March. The two great movements which were
together to seal the fate of the Confederacy were at once prepared.
Grant, assuming command of the Army of the Potomac, made Richmond his
objective point. He advanced deliberately towards the southern capital,
and fought the terrific battles of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, and
Cold Harbor. He laid siege to Petersburg, but without immediate result.
Meanwhile the gallant Sherman began his marvellous march to the sea,
took Atlanta, and at last entered Savannah in triumph. Sheridan, making
his famous ride, defeated Early at Cedar Creek. The _Alabama_ was sunk
by the _Kearsarge_ off the French coast. Mobile was captured by
Farragut. The _Albermarle_ was destroyed.

[Sidenote: Surrender of Lee.]

The Confederates were now penned in, and it only remained to make a
last strenuous effort to end the war. While Sherman advanced northward,
taking Charleston by the way, and Terry captured Fort Fisher, the siege
of Richmond became closer and more vigorous. Then Sheridan conquered at
Five Forks, turning the flank of the hunted and hounded Lee. Finally,
on the 3d of April, 1865, the Union troops occupied Richmond and
Petersburg; Lee surrendered on the 9th, at Appomattox; Johnston followed
by yielding to Sherman; and the Southern Confederacy was no more.



[Sidenote: Number of Presidents.]

Between 1789, when the government organized by the constitution
began its functions, and 1886, the people of the United States have
twenty-five times chosen a President; and of the Presidents, seven have
been chosen for a second term. Four of them, having died in office, were
succeeded by Vice Presidents. While the number of terms, therefore, has
been twenty-five, the executive chair has been filled by twenty-two
individuals. In referring to the line of Presidents, and scanning the
names of those who have exercised powers more extensive than those
of English royalty, we are struck by the fact that very few of our
Presidents have ranked first, in point of intellect, in their own
generation. It may be said, indeed, that Jefferson alone of them all was
without dispute the foremost statesman of his day.

[Sidenote: Presidential Ability.]

Comparing our elected chief magistrates with the various lines of
hereditary sovereigns of Europe, we find that pre-eminent ability is
scarcely more frequent among them than is presented by the houses of
Romanoff, Hohenzollern, and Hapsburg. When, however, we consider their
moral qualities as rulers--their patriotism and purity, their freedom
from a too grasping ambition, the fidelity and zeal with which they
have served the country as best they knew how--we are perhaps not
unreasonable in judging them superior, as a line of rulers, to any royal
house of which history affords record. Very rarely has it been that
a President has been even suspected of craving increased power for
himself, or of using his office for unworthy personal ends. Some have
been weak, some perverse and obstinate; but as the clouds of party
passion, which have sometimes obscured the motives and the acts of our
chief magistrates, pass away, we may recognize in their action honest
though now and then ill directed efforts to use their high office for
the general weal.

[Sidenote: The Ablest Men not Presidents.]

Our intellectually ablest men have not, with the exception of Jefferson,
attained the Presidency, though many of them have aspired to it. No one
can doubt that Hamilton was a greater political genius than the first
two Presidents. It can scarcely be questioned that Webster, Calhoun, and
Clay were greater in this respect than the three Presidents who
succeeded Jefferson. Madison was a man of culture, clear vision, and
political learning, but he was the disciple of Jefferson, and did not
reveal qualities of originality and constructiveness in statesmanship.
Monroe was a man of yet more limited capacity, unless Polk be excepted,
Monroe was the least able of all our Presidents. But he had a large
experience in public affairs, he was judicious and cool-tempered, and
thoroughly honest and simple-minded. He was personally liked, and after
Washington was the only President who was the unanimous choice of the

[Sidenote: Monroe.]

[Sidenote: John Quincy Adams.]

John Quincy Adams, a trained statesman, who had been an ambassador,
a Senator, and a Secretary of State, was still inferior in point of
political intellect to Clay, his own Secretary of State, and to Calhoun,
the Vice-President; and there were several others at that time who might
justly be competed with him. So, although Andrew Jackson was perhaps the
greatest of our Presidents in executive vigor and stern force of will,
as a political figure his most devoted admirers would scarcely rank him
with Clay or Webster. Van Buren was rather a shrewd politician than an
eminent statesman; but he was a politician in a higher sense, and no
stain of dishonor attaches to his career, while his presidential term
was an honest and able one.

[Sidenote: Later Presidents.]

Many public men might be named who, living at the time of Harrison's
elevation, were very much his political superiors; in his very cabinet
were at least three, Webster, Crittenden, and Ewing; and John Tyler was
very far from being in the front rank of American statesmen, though his
political capacity has sometimes been underrated.

[Footnote 1: Monroe was chosen for his second term by every vote but
one in the Electoral College. That vote was given by Mr. Hummer of New
Hampshire, on the ground that it was a dangerous precedent to elect a
President unanimously.]

Polk was the weakest of all our later Presidents, and he too presided
over at least three secretaries who were intellectually larger men, in
Marcy, Robert J. Walker, and Buchanan. The same may be said in comparing
General Taylor with his advisers, and Fillmore, Pierce, and Lincoln
with theirs; for while no one can fail to revere the grand moral
and practical qualities which make Lincoln illustrious, in purely
intellectual eminence he was excelled by Seward, Chase, and perhaps

[Sidenote: A Conservative Republic.]

[Sidenote: Origin of the Presidents.]

Ours has always been a conservative Republic. The French Republicans
of '93 and '48, the Communards of '71, did not derive their wild and
visionary fanaticism from our example, although there can be no doubt
that our Revolution had not a little influence in hastening that
of France. When the people have been called upon to choose a chief
magistrate, therefore, they have not sought men of extreme views, nor
have humble birth and limited education often been recommendations of
candidates. It is notable that the first six Presidents were selected
from the class which in England is called the "gentry." Washington,
indeed, belonged to the high rural aristocracy of Virginia; Mount Vernon
was as much a patrician manor-house as are the "halls," "priories," and
"manors" of rural England; and he lived there in the style of a country
magnate, John Adams belonged to the sturdy New England yeomanry sprung
from the Pilgrims, and, as the descendant of John Alden, had some
reason to pride himself upon good blood. The three succeeding Virginia
Presidents were sons of gentlemen-farmers, and belonged to the
cultivated gentry of the Old Dominion. Jackson was the first of the
plebeian Presidents, and then came Van Buren, of the gentry by birth;
Harrison, the son of a signer of the Declaration, and thus well born,
and Tyler, another Virginia gentleman, the lord of Sherwood Forest. Polk
belonged to the same rural condition. Fillmore was the next President
of humble beginnings, and Lincoln the third; while Andrew Johnson,
who learned to read after he was married, and began life as a country
tailor, was the most lowly born of all our chief magistrates.

[Sidenote: Military Presidents.]

Those young men who, having a taste for and ambition in politics,
adopt the law as a stepping-stone to political honor, may derive some
encouragement from the classification of the Presidents by their
professions; for out of the twenty-two Presidents, no less than eighteen
were at some period of their lives practising at the bar. The four
who were not lawyers were the four military Presidents, Washington,
Harrison, Taylor, and Grant. Three other Presidents, however, derived
something of their fame from military careers--Monroe, Jackson, and
Pierce. Monroe was a revolutionary colonel, Jackson the hero of New
Orleans, and Pierce a brigadier in the Mexican War. But Monroe owed
his political eminence to diplomatic successes and the friendship of
Jefferson and Madison: while Pierce certainly did not win the presidency
by his Mexican exploits.

[Sidenote: Presidential Succession.]

No man has ever yet passed directly from the United States Senate to the
White House. Of the Presidents, Monroe, J.Q. Adams, Jackson, Van Buren,
Harrison, Tyler, Pierce, Buchanan, and Johnson had been senators; while
John Adams, Jefferson and Van Buren held the Vice-Presidency just
before their elevation by election to the higher office. The custom of
succession from the one office to the other, which prevailed in the
earlier years of the Republic, was broken when Madison was preferred to
George Clinton in 1808; and was revived only in the single instance
of Van Buren, whom the irresistible will of Jackson imposed upon the
Democrats as his successor. Washington, before becoming President, had
held the office of President of the Constitutional Convention. Polk had
only served in the lower House of Congress, over which he had presided
as speaker. Neither Taylor nor Grant ever held a state or national
office before being raised to the Executive Chair. Lincoln had served
a few years, with but little distinction, in the national House of
Representatives. The same may be said of Hayes, and of Fillmore before
he was chosen Vice-President.

[Sidenote: Presidents Contributed by the Various States.]

Virginia has had five Presidents, four of them having served in the
first quarter of a century of the national existence. Tennessee has had
three; Ohio, three; Massachusetts, two; New York, four; Illinois, two;
and New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana, each one. But Harrison,
though elected from Ohio, and Taylor, elected from Louisiana, were
both born in Virginia; and Lincoln, elected from Illinois, was born in
Kentucky. Therefore Virginia gave birth to seven of the Presidents. In
point of years, the ages of the Presidents have ranged from sixty-eight,
which was Harrison's age on his accession, to forty-six, which was
Grant's age when he became President; the average age being about



[Sidenote: A Twofold Progress.]

It is manifestly impossible to give, within the brief scope of this
volume, more than a hint of the elements which have entered into and
stimulated the material progress of the United States during the past
century. That progress may be said to have been twofold; the progress
which we have shared in common with the civilized world, and the
progress which has been peculiar to ourselves. The agency which
invention and discovery have had in our advancement scarcely needs to be
pointed out. We have only to look around us, and remember the origin
of many of the comforts, conveniences, luxuries, nay even what we now
regard as necessities, that surround us and minister to our existence,
in order to comprehend how very vast, how much beyond easy calculation,
the material progress of the century has been.

[Sidenote: Modern Comforts.]

Every hour of the day, should you stop to reflect, you would find
yourself doing something, or aided by something, unknown to or unused
by the generation of 1776. Sitting in your parlor or library, your
feet rest upon carpets, which were introduced into American households
in 1792; the book you are reading--which has far better paper, print,
binding and illustration than the old copy of "Pilgrim's Progress" which
your great-grandfather used to read--is lighted by gas, which did not
come into use till this century was well on its way; and that gas you
have lit by a friction match, an affair of marvellous simplicity, which
was unknown till after 1830.

[Sidenote: Improvement in Dress.]

You are writing, perhaps, with a steel pen; the Declaration of
Independence was signed with quills. It is, possibly, a rainy day. You
put on rubbers, and you carry an umbrella. The men of '76 had to do as
best they could without either. You burn coal in a furnace or stove;
they must fain have warmed themselves with more cheery but less
warming wood, in an open fireplace. Every article of your dress is an
improvement in convenience and comfort on those worn by Washington in
all his Presidential glory.

[Sidenote: Rapidity of Transit.]

Your walls are hung with photographs; your wife or daughter has a
sewing-machine. In the kitchen are endless contrivances which our great-
grandmothers would have greeted with speechless astonishment. You can
order a case of goods from Hong Kong on Monday, and be told that they
are ready for shipping on Thursday. You can go to San Francisco in
almost the same time that it took, only fifty years ago, to reach
Washington from New York. When General Jackson went to the capital to be
President, he could travel no faster than did the Jews, after the
captivity, from Babylon to Jerusalem.

[Sidenote: Material Growth.]

[Sidenote: Population.]

Taking a broader view--for we might go on with the material details of
progress all about us _ad infinitum_, did patience and strength hold
out--we look abroad over the land, and note the great elements of
a progress peculiarly American, in the growth and distribution of
population, in manufactures, agriculture, and commerce. Each and all
have been incalculably aided by perpetual invention. A few leading facts
must suffice to show that our orators, in their most daring flights, can
scarcely exaggerate the marvels of our material advance. The population
of this country in 1776, including slaves, was about two and three
quarters millions. In 1886, it is without doubt more than fifty
millions. In 1790, when the first census was taken, the figure was a
little less than four millions. A notable circumstance in reference to
the movement of our population has been the increase of the proportion
of dwellers in our cities to those in the rural districts. In 1790, only
one-thirtieth of our population inhabited the cities. In 1886, probably
nearly one-fourth are included in the cities.

In 1790 there were but six cities with a population of more than eight
thousand each. These were: Philadelphia, with about 42,500; New York,
with about 33,000; Boston. with about 18,000; Charleston, with about
16,300: Baltimore, with about 13,500; and Salem, with a little over
8000. The total was about 131,500. Now the aggregate of our urban
population is, probably, at least 12,000,000. It may be added that
the _centre_ of our population has shifted from a few miles east of
Baltimore, where it was in 1790, to about eight miles west by south from
Cincinnati, where it is now supposed to be.

[Sidenote: Agriculture.]

The earliest avocation of our colonies was that of agriculture; and
before 1776 our agricultural industries, owing to the discoveries which
had gradually been made as to the capabilities of the then settled
districts, had grown to important proportions. It needs but a glance at
the map to observe over what a vast area agricultural enterprise has
spread since 1790. We may fairly say that invention and improvement, in
the application of chemistry and mechanical discovery to the cultivation
of land, have kept pace with the territorial advance of agricultural
science. There can scarcely be named a farming operation which is not
performed by instruments far more perfect, and with a rapidity far
greater, than was possible with our ancestors.

[Sidenote: Cheaper Tools.]

Human labor has been greatly lessened in proportion to the results
obtained. Tools are cheaper; and whereas they were formerly made, to
a large extent, on the farms themselves, they are now perfected in
factories supplied with the most efficient machinery. There were in
1880 two thousand establishments for the manufacture of agricultural
implements, with an annual production valued at over $68,000,000. It
would take up too much space to give even a list of these implements;
suffice it to say that it is calculated that the value of those now in
use on American farms is at least $500,000,000. A hundred years ago a
man could only manage six bushels of grain a day--cutting, binding and
stocking, threshing and cleaning it. Now, with the aid of mechanical
appliances, a single man's labor can achieve almost eight times as much.

[Sidenote: Advance of Agricultural Arts]

To machinery must be added the advance in the arts of manuring,
draining, irrigation, and of grafting and obtaining greater varieties
of fruits and vegetables. The improvement in breeding and raising
live-stock must not be omitted. In this product the wealth of the
country was at least $2,000,000.000 in 1880.

[Sidenote: First Mills.]

Great as has been our progress in agriculture, it is scarcely so
remarkable as that in manufactures. In 1776 we were mostly a farming
community. Now, in New England at least, to a large extent in the Middle
States, and to some degree in the West and South, manufactures have
outstripped the farming industry. Manufacturing necessarily began,
indeed, very early in the settlement of the country; for ships had to be
built, and were built, soon after the colonization of Plymouth and
Boston. The first saw-mill was erected at Salmon Falls as early as 1635.
A printing-press was set up at Cambridge in 1638, and a book-bindery in
1663. The first fulling-mill for making cloth was started at Rowley in
1643. Iron manufacture was regularly established at Lynn in 1645. The
first successful cotton-mill in the United States was started by Samuel
Slater at Providence in 1793.

[Sidenote: The Cotton Industry.]

[Sidenote: Manufactures.]

The growth of the cotton industry may be appreciated when we state that
its extent in 1831 comprised 795 factories and 1,246,500 spindles; while
in 1880 there were over ten million spindles, and the value of the
products reached nearly two hundred million dollars annually. The
progress in woollen manufacture has been equally rapid. Since 1850 the
number of factories in this industry has more than doubled, while the
value of the products has increased over fourfold. Looking over the
whole field of manufacturing industries, it is stated that the
estimated capital employed throughout out the country in 1880, namely
$2,790,000,000, does not really approximate to the total amount.
According to the census of that year, moreover, over two and a half
millions of persons were engaged in manufacturing; while about seven and
a half millions were employed in agriculture, and nearly two millions
in trade and transportation. Only a hint can thus be attempted of our
progress in manufactures.

[Sidenote: Commercial Relations.]

It need scarcely be said that commerce, as the great medium of barter
and exchange between States and with foreign nations, has necessarily
kept pace with the development of the industries which we have briefly
glanced at. The increase of our mercantile marine, up to the unhappy
period of the war, when it was almost swept from the ocean, kept pace
with the ever-increasing needs of the business of the country. Now it is
again slowly reviving from the disasters of the civil conflict. During
the past century, our commercial relations have extended to the remotest
corners of the earth, whither we send the commodities we have to spare,
and whence we derive those which we need for comfort, convenience,
luxury, and wealth. The extent to which steam applied to water
navigation, and telegraphy laid not only over the continents but under
the oceans, have stimulated our commerce in common with that of the
world, is more easy to be observed in general than calculated in detail.
With many nations we have treaties of commerce, and the time may not
be long in coming when such pacts will be reciprocated between all the
trading nations of the world.



[Sidenote: English Literature.]

[Sidenote: Majority of Authors from New England.]

With English laws, customs, Protestantism, habits of thought, and
methods of culture, we also inherited the English literature. So rich
was already this inheritance when our colonies were settled, that there
was little need or incentive for the early Americans to strike out into
new literary paths, and create an original literature. Our ancestors
read Milton, Bunyan, Doddridge, Butler, Dryden, Pope, and Shakespeare.
It is a noteworthy fact that American literature not only took its start
from, but, up to within recent times, was mainly produced by the New
England and the Middle States. Even now, the noted writers in any
branch of letters born south of Virginia may almost be counted upon the
fingers. It is equally true that west of Ohio authors who have won
a general and permanent reputation are few. If we survey American
literature from the time of Cotton Mather (who may perhaps be called the
first author of the country whose works are still remembered and read)
to the present, we find that a majority of the best authors, both in
prose and verse, have been New Englanders.

[Sidenote: Ante-Revolutionary Writers.]

The rise of our literature having taken place in the colonies of
Puritan stock, and those most fully imbued with Puritan sobriety and
seriousness, it was natural that our earliest literary products should
be religious and philosophical. Cotton Mather, with his extravagant
"Magnolia"; Jonathan Edwards, with his stern treatise on the Will;
Franklin, with his shrewd maxims, and clear, strong, unadorned essays,
were about the only ante-revolutionary writers who are not by this time
forgotten. It was not surprising that the period of the Revolution
should develop a literature peculiarly political. There were, no doubt,
already poetasters, novelists, and essayists; but even their names are
strange to us of this age. Where are they and their works? What faint
traces are still left of them show us that they were mostly mere
imitators, and not brilliant ones, of the English authors of their day.

[Sidenote: Political Literature.]

But our political literature became, with the Revolution and its sequel,
most vigorous, philosophical, eloquent, and profound. The Declaration
itself was a masterpiece of political style, as well as of substance;
and Jefferson, its author, continuing for years after to discuss
political questions with a lucidity and vigor which were unrivalled in
America, took his place in literary history as perhaps our greatest
political writer. Close behind him came writers like Hamilton, Jay,
Madison, Ames, Freneau, and Tom Paine, all of them holding high rank in
this department of letters.

[Sidenote: Post-Revolutionary Writers.]

When we became an independent nation, literature naturally felt the
impulse and inspiration of the new national life. Poets and novelists
came up of a higher type than their ante-revolutionary predecessors;
writers like Dwight, Hopkinson, Trumbull, Barlow, Brockden Brown, and
Paine. But no one of these attained the rank of genius, nor did any of
them establish a great reputation; and if they are remembered at all,
it is rather by happy isolated pieces than by the general excellence of
their works. The American novels of the last century, unlike the English
novels of Swift, Fielding, and Goldsmith, have one and all passed into

[Sidenote: William Cullen Bryant.]

The position of American literature in 1886 may, especially in the
departments of history and poetry, fairly bear comparison with that of
England. Yet the first really great American authors, if we except
the theological and political writers of whom mention has been made,
published their first works at a period quite within the memory of
men still living. Our first great poet was William Cullen Bryant, who
survived to old age to observe to what vast proportions our literary
productions, both in quality and quantity, had grown. Our first great
biographer and essayist, Washington Irving, may be remembered as living
by the man of thirty-five. Our first eminent novelist, James Fenimore
Cooper, would only be ninety-seven if he were still among us. And our
first great historian, Prescott, died but twenty-seven years ago.

[Sidenote: Rise of American Poetry.]

The new career of American letters, indeed, may be said to have been
begun when William Cullen Bryant published "Thanatopsis," in the year
1816. Our writers then began to feel the influence of the vigorous
schools of English poetry of which Byron, Wordsworth, and Coleridge were
the shining lights. Like these, our own writers shook off the poetic
dominion of Pope, and declared form to be subordinate to the thought and
the feeling. Bryant, the enthusiastic disciple of Wordsworth, set the
bold example, and from that moment American literature received an
element of vitality which was given it its noble and rapid growth. It is
almost always the case that, in young nations, poetry is the first
branch of letters to be developed. The earliest masterpieces of Greek
and English literature are the "Iliad," the "Canterbury Tales," and the
"Faerie Queene." Perhaps the best German literature before Lessing,
worth remembering, was the songs of the Minnesinger.

[Sidenote: Earlier Poets.]

[Sidenote: Later Posts.]

In the United States, Bryant was soon followed by a succession of poets
whose productions clearly revealed the magnetism of the English revival,
and gave promise of the rise of that poetic art which we have seen reach
its culmination in our own day. Richard H. Dana wrote the "Buccaneer";
Fitz-Greene Halleck, "Marco Bozarris"; Edgar A. Poe "The Raven"; the
painter Allston turned easily from brush to pen, and added more than one
fine poem to our literature; Emerson rose to found a school of
transcendental poetry as well as philosophy; N.P. Willis became the
lyrical likeness of Moore on this side of the Atlantic; Percival reached
a brief popularity, and wrote some things well worthy of remembrance;
and the banker-poet Sprague filled a worthy place in our group of bards.
In the next generation came the poets of the highest culture and most
widely extended popularity: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf
Whittier, James Russell Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes.

[Sidenote: Historians.]

The United States have produced a race of historians whose works and
names may not unfairly be ranked with those of Hume, Macaulay, Hallam,
and Froude. Prescott and Irving have been followed by Bancroft, Motley,
Parkman, Adams, Kirk, Goodwin, Young, and Ticknor. Sydney Smith, were
he now living, would find his question, "Who reads an American book?"
speedily answered; for in English drawing-rooms and on English
book-stalls "Evangeline" and "The Wayside Inn" are to be found quite
as often as "In Memoriam" and "Idyls of the King"; and "Ferdinand
and Isabella" and the "Rise of the Dutch Republic," as often as the
histories of Macaulay and Froude.

[Sidenote: Theological Literature.]

Our theologians have kept pace, in the amount and intellectual force of
their writings, with those of the older continent. It is not astonishing
that, in a nation established by a sect for the purpose of doing God
honor, a race of great theological authors should arise. The names of
Hopkins and Emmons, of Dwight, Channing, Norton, Theodore Parker,
Wayland, Bacon, Park, Bushnell, and many others, will recur, to remind
us how active religious philosophy and speculation have been from the
time of Jonathan Edwards to the present.

[Sidenote: Political and Legal Writers.]

In other departments of letters our progress during the century, though
less marked, has been very distinct. Webster, Everett, Sumner, Winthrop,
and, it may well be added, Lincoln, have made a literary art, as well as
a practical career, of politics. American legal writers, like Greenleaf,
Kent, Story, and Parsons, are quoted in the English as in the American
courts, as authorities worthy of respect and trust. In the domain of
searching literary criticism, England has perhaps produced no author
since the days of Gifford and Jeffrey superior in learning, acuteness,
and grace to Edwin P. Whipple.

[Sidenote: Humorists.]

[Sidenote: Writers of Fiction.]

Humorists have been many; in this field we count not only Lowell, Neal,
and Holmes, but the younger band, which includes Artemas Ward, Mark
Twain, Nasby, Bret Harte, Warner, and Leland. In the department of
essays and miscellaneous belles-lettres, the names of George William
Curtis, Thoreau, Tuckerman, Higginson, Marsh, and many more, crowd upon
the mind. Foremost among writers of fiction may be classed Cooper and
Nathaniel Hawthorne; and though in this field America can scarcely
contest the palm with the mother country, and the great purely national
novel has not yet appeared, the fertility of our novelists affords
promise that in time great and national romances will come. Meanwhile,
Mrs. Stowe, Donald G. Mitchell, T.B. Aldrich, William D. Howells (poet
as well as novelist), Henry James, Julian Hawthorne, Stockton, Miss
Phelps, E.E. Hale, and others, have delighted thousands by their
imaginative works.

[Sidenote: American Dictionaries.]

To present even a list, indeed, of American writers who may be called
noted, would much more than occupy the limits assigned to this chapter.
The multitude that crowds upon the memory, even in a cursory glance over
our history, is so large that even in mentioning any names at all one
runs the risk of some unjust omission. Suffice it to say that no field
of letters has remained wholly uncultivated in this country, and that
literary invention in the United States, though sometimes at a pause,
on the whole advances with their population and civilization. We have
philosophers, men of science, poets, critics, essayists, art writers,
theologians, fully able to cope with their literary brethren in the old
world. Let it be added that America has produced the two dictionaries
which are to-day paramount authority in every English school, college,
and university; and that in the science of language George P. Marsh and
William D. Whitney have carried their studies to depths as profound,
and have given the world results as valuable, as have any old-world



[Sidenote: Old-time Simplicity.]

American art, like American letters, was of slow and difficult growth.
The early colonists, even those who, like the Virginia cavaliers and the
settlers in Maryland, possessed somewhat of the old-world culture and
taste, had little time for the ornamental. To worry a decent living out
of an inhospitable and reluctant soil, and to serve God after their
strict and severe fashion, were abundant occupation to the Puritans.
Therefore, could we carry ourselves back through the generations and
find ourselves in the streets and abodes of colonial New England, we
should observe but very few and slight attempts at decoration.

Pictures, unless it were now and then a scriptural or historical
print, there would be none on the plain walls with their heavy beams;
varnishing and frescoing would be but rare vanities, if indeed such
could be anywhere discovered at all; as for rare vases, or bronzes, or
marbles, such things were assuredly unknown. The austere simplicity of
the place, the people, and the age, forbade not only a footing to the
arts, but refused all nurture to imaginative growths. The Puritans
especially had the lofty scorn of art which resented the idea of a
picture or a statue in a church with as much indignation as they would
have shown to the Pope had he invited them to return to the fold of

[Sidenote: John Singleton Copley.]

As there was very little literature for America to be proud of before
the Declaration of Independence, so, in casting our eyes backward over
the annals of art, we can discover but one notable native artist in the
period between the early settlements and the Revolution. This was John
Singleton Copley. He was born in Boston in 1738, and became the pupil of
Smybert, an English artist of some talent, who had accompanied Bishop
Berkeley across the Atlantic and had settled in Boston. The pupil soon
eclipsed the master, and for years Copley stood alone as a popular
portrait-painter in New England.

[Sidenote: Historical Pictures.]

But even the monopoly of his profession did not suffice to give him
adequate support, or gratify Copley's ambition; and he was forced to
seek in a more art-loving land the full recognition and reward of his
genius. He left behind him many portraits which still exist as precious
heirlooms in New England families, and just as the storm of the
Revolution was gathering, he set sail for the mother country, which he
never afterward left. Before he went, however, a son had been born to
him in Boston, who was destined long after to reach the highest summit
of English legal dignity and rank--Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst. Copley
was especially great as a portrait-painter, but he also sometimes
adopted historical subjects. Of these the best known is his "Death of
Lord Chatham," which now hangs in the South Kensington Museum, in

[Sidenote: Benjamin West.]

Copley was soon succeeded by an American artist whose triumphs in
England afterward far outshone his own. Benjamin West was born in
Pennsylvania in 1738, and was the youngest of nine children, of Quaker
parents. His genius for art was discovered in an amusing way. When he
was seven sears old he was put to the task of fanning the flies away
from the sleeping baby of one of his sisters. Instead of doing so, he
sketched her face with black and red ink. His mother snatched the paper
from him, looked at it with amazement, and exclaimed: "I declare, he has
made a likeness of little Sally." From the Indians be got some of the
pigments with which they smeared their faces, and his mother's indigo
bag supplied him with blue; while from the house cat's tail he took
the hair for his brushes. West was well known as a portrait-painter
at fifteen. His Quaker friends at first demurred at the vanity of his
calling: but in a solemn meeting the spirit happily moved them to bless
him and consecrate him to art. He found rich patrons, who sent him to
Italy, where he studied the great masters with zeal and enthusiasm.

[Sidenote: Royal Academy Founded.]

This sojourn in the favored land of art, and the chance which procured
him an introduction to King George III. as he was passing through
England on his way home, deprived his native country of this famous
artist. Received and petted at the English court, he took up his
permanent residence in London. There, with Sir Joshua Reynolds, and
encouraged by the king, he founded the Royal Academy, of which he became
president; and as long as King George retained his mind, West was
constantly in the sunshine of royal favor. He was appointed "Painter to
His Majesty," and a splendid income rewarded his labors. He was
neglected by the Prince of Wales, but was recompensed for the loss of
his court associations by the patronage of the nobles and people. Copley
and West were the forerunners of a succession of American portrait-
painters not inferior in their art to their European contemporaries.
Both Copley and West aspired to something higher and more creative than
copying the lineaments of human faces, but it may be said of them that
in historical and imaginative painting they fell short of the highest

[Sidenote: Peale, Stuart, and Trumbull.]

Following Copley and West came, close together, three painters whose
works were of a high order, some of them being familiar to every one in
engraved copies. These were Charles Wilson Peale, Gilbert Stuart, and
John Trumbull. Peale was a saddler's apprentice, Stuart the son of a
snuffmaker; Trumbull, on the other hand, was the son of one of the
foremost statesmen of the Revolution. To all three we owe portraits of
Washington from life. Peale painted him in his prime, just after the
battle of Monmouth; Trumbull painted him as he was a few years later,
at the surrender of Cornwallis; and Stuart painted him when the added
dignity of age had crept upon him, and he was President at Philadelphia.
Both Peale and Trumbull fought in the Revolution. Trumbull is now
best known as the painter of the historical pictures of the war for
independence which hang in the Capitol at Washington; of which the most
familiar is the "Battle of Bunker's Hill."

[Sidenote: Washington Allston.]

It could no longer be said, after these great painters had lived and
left enduring results of their labors, that America was devoid of a
genius for, or an appreciation of, art. The appearance of Washington
Allston, who as a colorist won the name of the "American Titian," and
whose noble conceptions of Biblical subjects, executed with wonderful
power, have given him permanent rank among the best artists of his time;
and of Henry Inman, whose versatile genius readily took up portrait,
historical, or landscape painting at will, served to carry American art
yet another grade higher. Rembrandt Peale sustained the tradition of his
father's ability by his own works; Sully came from England to win fame
here as a portrait-painter; Vanderlyn and many others rapidly rose to
establish art as a profession and adornment in this country. It is
worthy of note that two of the greatest of American inventors, Robert
Fulton and S.F.B. Morse, began life as artists; but found it more
profitable, in fame and fortune, to run steamboats and establish

[Sidenote: Artists as Inventors.]

[Sidenote: Sculptors.]

The sister arts have nourished in this country in a degree scarcely less
marked than painting. In sculpture, a later but prolific growth with us,
the names of Hiram Powers, Horatio Greenough, Crawford, Ball, Story,
Ward, Rogers, Hart, and Harriet Hosmer, sufficiently attest the progress
made and the reputation established in this respect. In drawing,
caricature, water-colors, and other minor branches of art, our progress
has been scarcely less notable; we may fairly claim to have our Gillrays
and Cruikshanks as well as our English cousins.

[Sidenote: Art a Modern Necessity.]

Art, from having been a very rare luxury among our forefathers even as
lately as the beginning of this century, has become an adjunct, it may
even be said a necessity, of our civilization. Drawing is being taught
in our schools, and is regarded as one of the polite accomplishments of
educated young ladies. Art galleries have sprung up everywhere, and art
stores are popular resorts in our larger cities. Art societies thrive
and flourish in many States, and art teachers are in demand in most of
our towns. Colonies of artists swarm in stately buildings in New York,
Boston, and Philadelphia. The time has come when no artist of merit need
starve for want of patronage.

Thousands of Americans, travelling abroad every year, spend the larger
portion of their time in Europe in visiting those splendid art galleries
which the munificence and taste of kings and nobles have established,
and which are free to all the world. The taste for art has become
universal, and has penetrated all classes; few are the American houses,
in these days, wherein the evidences of this taste are not apparent.

[Sidenote: Music.]

Music has progressed with the other arts in popularity and culture;
though America, like England, has as yet produced no really great
composer. Every branch of music, however, is cultivated with us; and
music as a profession is even more certainly lucrative than painting.
America welcomes the most renowned singers and musicians in the world,
and the highest efforts of musical composition are performed here to
audiences sufficiently cultivated fully to enjoy and appreciate them.
We cannot doubt that the future will still further develop the American
love of all the arts; or that, in time, this continent will rival that
of Europe in great artistic productions.



[Sidenote: The Patent Office.]

The progress in practical science and invention, in this country and the
civilized world, has been so amazingly rapid during the present century,
that the merest hint of a few of the most important elements of that
progress can alone be given. The fertility of the human intellect, in
devising quicker and more exact methods of doing those things which
contribute to the wealth and the pleasure of man, has accomplished
results so vast and so varied since the Declaration of Independence,
that the mind cannot survey the smallest portion of this field without
bewilderment and wonder. If we should visit the Patent Office at
Washington, and give ourselves up to a scrutiny of its records, its
tabulated results, and its long rows of cases of models, we should in
time gain some idea of the extent to which American minds have carried
the effort of invention.

[Sidenote: Discoveries in the Exact Sciences.]

Yet the Patent Office, while it exhibits the results of American
invention, fails to show anything like the total amount of useful
discovery which has been achieved on this continent since the foundation
of the government. There are those who discover and invent, and who do
not patent. There are discoveries which cannot be circumscribed by the
filling-out of blank forms, and an official restriction on their use.
This is emphatically the case with discoveries in the exact sciences,
which, while they have added immeasurably to the knowledge of mankind,
have also attained results the most useful and practical.

[Sidenote: Meteorological Laws.]

Illustrations of this truth may be found in the progress made by such
sciences as astronomy and meteorology. No one can doubt the value of the
result which accrues to human lore from a more accurate knowledge
of astronomy, of the mutual influences of the solar system, and the
physical character of its members. Nor can we deny that the rapid
strides which have been made within thirty years in the science of
meteorology are of the most immediate benefit to the material interests
of men. The simple statement that the predictions of "Old Probabilities"
as to the weather prove, in a large majority of instances, to be
justified by the event,--founded as they are, not upon mere guesswork,
but upon ascertained meteorological laws and a proved uniformity in the
direction of storms,--is enough to show the importance of the recent
discoveries in this field. One has only to reflect upon the changes in
the course of little and of great events wrought by the weather, to be
convinced of their large and permanent value.

[Sidenote: Improvements in Machines and Methods.]

We can look in no direction, however, without at once in some degree
appreciating, and being astonished at, the metamorphosis which has been
effected by the activity of scientific invention and discovery of
the most palpably practical kind. No practical profession, trade, or
industry can be named in which the improvements in machinery and
methods have not been such, within the century, as to alter most of
its conditions, and very greatly to multiply its efficiency and
productiveness. These improvements have descended, too, from general
systems to the minutest details. Cloth fabrics are not only manufactured
on a very different scale and extent, but every little appliance of the
machinery has been made better, and does its appointed work faster and
with greater precision.

[Sidenote: Steam and Electricity.]

[Sidenote: Conveyances.]

If one were asked what two inventions made within the century have
wrought the greatest changes, the reply would be prompt that they are
locomotion by steam and communication by electricity. The steam-engine
and the steamship have made it possible to travel around the world, if
not in the eighty days required of Jules Verne's hero, at least in a
hundred; while the telegraph enables us to talk with our friends at the
antipodes--if such we have--within a week. What share America has had in
achieving these mighty agencies is signified by the names of Fulton and
Morse. Nor have other means of locomotion and communication been
neglected. The horse-car has to a large extent taken the place of the
omnibus and of the lumbering stage-coach; while vertical travelling, by
means of the elevator, has become easy and luxurious in our day. In the
making of carriages of every kind, the progress becomes very apparent
when we compare the light and elegant vehicles which fill our
fashionable avenues on a pleasant day, with the coaches in which
Washington and Lafayette deigned to ride on state occasions.

[Sidenote: Iron Manufactures.]

In the great industries, invention has supplied the means of changing
the rude ore or the raw material into every manifold form of use and
ornament, in an increased production which would have filled the men of
'76 with amazement. Machinery has come to do a vast amount of work which
manual labor used to do; yet, by a happy compensation in the economic
condition of things, human labor, far from being left in the lurch by
mechanical introduction and ever increasing efficiency, is in greater
demand than before. In the melting and puddling of iron, in its casting,
forging, and rolling, and especially in its turning and planing,
the inventions have been, perhaps, more striking than in any other
operations upon metals; and the importance of the improvements thus
effected in the manufacture of iron may be appreciated when we consider
to how many more precious uses iron is put than any other metal. The
advances made in the working of wood, and in that noble engineering
science which employs itself in the construction of canals, dikes, and
bridges, are not less notable.

[Sidenote: Machines and Weapons.]

To even mention the devices by which the manufacture of cotton and
woollen fabrics, of shoes, of silks, and very many other articles, has
been brought from rude processes to the rapid production seen to-day at
our great industrial centres, would require a volume. To America is due
the sewing-machine, which in the factory and in the household has given
a manifold value to labor, has cheapened time, and is assuredly one of
the chief triumphs of human ingenuity. We have done our part, too, in
devising deadly weapons for contending armies. The revolver, invented by
Samuel Colt, made a man armed with it six times as formidable as he was
before; and the breech-loader, first attempted by John Hall of Yarmouth,
Massachusetts, more than seventy years ago, was generally adopted in
Europe. It is said that the greater number of the military arms made
in the United States for Europe are on the breech-loading system.
The invention of what is called the principle of "assembling," which
consists in making the various parts of a machine "in distinct pieces
of fixed shape and dimensions, so that the corresponding parts are
interchangeable," has brought about a revolution in the manufacture
of other articles besides fire-arms. It is applied also to watches,
sewing-machines, knitting-machines, and even to agricultural
implements and the building of locomotive engines.

[Sidenote: Labor Saving Appliances.]

The kitchen, the farm, and the sitting-room have been invaded by
labor-saving appliances so numerous and so deft as to make each of these
domestic departments a sort of factory in itself. The spinning-wheel
has been abandoned for the sewing and the knitting machine, and the
hand-plough for the steam-plough, and the scythe for the mowing-machine,
and the rude kitchen knife and spoon for an endless variety of
contrivances, from the apple-parer, the egg-beater, and the
bean-shelters, to the lemon-squeezers, knife-sharpeners, and

[Sidenote: Various Inventions.]

It is equally vain to attempt the enumeration of the improvements in
the security of movable property, the rapidly changing devices for more
effective fire-alarms, the revolution in the system of fire prevention
with its steam-engine and its fire-alarm telegraph, the growing
efficiency of the science of aerostation, the invention of scales for
weighing heavy bodies, the processes for refining the precious metals,
the achieved idea of making ice by machinery, the great advance effected
in the making of glass, and the vast changes which have been wrought in
many respects by the perfection of india-rubber as an article of common

[Sidenote: Surgical Progress.]

[Sidenote: Printing and Engraving.]

Nor must we forget to hint at the discoveries which have given new
effect to surgical skill--the discovery of anaesthetics, the perfection
of artificial limbs, the repair of the body, and the valuable method of
lithotrity; while even the match need not be disdained as one of the
chief inventions of the century. Paper, too, and engraving, and printing
(with all its complications of stereotyping, electrotyping, and
heliotyping), photography (with its constant improvements), can only be
mentioned to open the mind to a wide vista of marvellous triumphs. We
have but to glance along the stalls of a modern book-store, to
appreciate that the arts of printing and engraving have made a more
rapid progress during the past hundred years than during all the
previous centuries since the invention of type; while it may fairly be
said that the United States can at last boast that not only is her
literature worthy to be compared with that of England, but that it is as
well printed, illustrated, and bound, and is presented on home-made
paper as elegant and as durable, as are the choicest publications of
London and Paris.



[Sidenote: Sources of Government.]

President Woolsey has forcibly remarked that states and forms of
government have had mainly two sources of origin. They have either
"slowly built themselves up for ages, finding support in historical
causes, and in past political habits"; or, they have been "the
artificial results of political theory." England presents the most
conspicuous modern example of the former class; while France, since the
Revolution, may be regarded as the chief modern example of the latter.
And as it was with England, our mother-country, so it has been, and
is, with us. It is true that the organism of the United States was the
immediate result of revolution, and is founded upon a constitution that
is written and fixed, or only with great pains and difficulty modified.
Yet, if we search further and deeper for the materials of which our
national fabric has been constructed, we shall easily recognize that our
freedom, like that of England, has really "broadened slowly down from
precedent to precedent."

[Sidenote: Gradual Growth of the American System.]

The growth towards American independence did not begin, the seeds of it
were not sown, either at Bunker's Hill or at Philadelphia. Indeed the
growth had then reached the period of fruitfulness. The progression
towards an independent nation, and a free nation, began at Plymouth and
at Jamestown. The Constitution only made articulate the spirit which had
been growing for more than a century, and it still left an unwritten law
set up by custom, habit, and characteristics most aptly nourished to the
ends reached in 1776, 1787, and 1789. While our written constitution was
made, we still retained the common law of England as the basis of our
own, and, like England, proceeded gradually to build upon this broad
foundation the superstructure of statute.

[Sidenote: Origin of the Government.]

If, therefore, the origin of our government was in one respect
revolutionary, it was not revolutionary as being sudden, accidental, and
without preparation. The revolution was, in fact, almost formal in a
political sense. The same people, the same traditions remained, and
the same growth went on. There was a new bond, binding the colonies
together, and holding them the more sturdily to purposes already formed
and undertaken. Yet it was certain that a new government, starting
forth, as ours did, at a period when political theories of diverse and
contradictory import were engaged in a very active struggle in Europe,
would meet with unusual difficulties, and be beset with grave dangers
from the outset.

[Sidenote: The Contest of Diverse Political Ideas.]

We note, therefore, in the very body which framed the constitution, the
rise of the contest out of which have come the most momentous changes
which our polity has since undergone. Happily for us, we have had to
witness no sudden and startling alterations in the form or spirit of our
institutions. What changes have occurred--and some have occurred of very
high and grave importance--have come gradually, have been foreseen. The
victories of parties in this country have never been by _coups d'etat_.
They have been won by light of day, with banners flying and trumpets
sounding. We have not been subject to that dread of sudden calamity, of
a bean-stalk growth of anarchy in a night, which haunts the French to
this day, and which makes both kings and peoples in continental Europe
sensitive to every untoward rumor.

[Sidenote: Political Changes.]

Of all the political changes which the United States have undergone
during the ninety-nine years of our national career, the most
conspicuous, perhaps, is that which has tended to increase the powers of
the central government, and diminish those of the several States. The
contest between those who believed in a strong central power and those
who jealously defended the largest share of independence for the
several States compatible with the bond of federation, began in the
Constitutional Convention; and the instrument which was there framed,
after long discussion and many perils, was really a compromise between
these two principles. On the one hand, the equality and dignity of the
States were conceded in the structure of the Senate, in the division
of the electoral votes by States, and in the "reserved rights" of the
States, which have been so often and so strenuously insisted upon since.

[Sidenote: Early Political Parties.]

On the other, the words of the Constitution throughout imply that the
United States constitute more than a league--a nation; and the money
power was lodged in the lower house of Congress, elected by the people
of the nation, according to their population. The opposing ideas
regarding the powers of the States and of the government, respectively,
gave rise to the two first political parties, the Federalist and the
Republican; and these have had as successors parties which have fought
the same battle over and over again. The later Whigs and Republicans,
on the one hand, and the Democrats, on the other, have usually been the
champions, respectively, of a strong central government, and of State
rights. The older Democrats insisted on a strict construction of the
Constitution, and opposed the undertaking of internal improvements and
the maintenance of a national bank by the general government; and
for the first sixty years of this century the State rights principle
prevailed in national policy with little interruption.

[Sidenote: Rights of the States.]

[Sidenote: Tendency towards Centralization.]

It happened that the social institution and evil of slavery, which
had become confined to the Southern States, needed the defence of the
doctrine of State rights for its continuance. Nullification, in 1833,
and secession, in 1861, were the ultimate conclusions of that doctrine,
practically applied for the purpose of sustaining the system of human
bondage. A State had a right, it was said, to break her "compact" with
the Union; and the Southern States, following in the line of this
doctrine, did attempt to secede in order to maintain slavery. The war
which followed was the rock upon which the doctrine of State rights
split. The tide at once turned towards a strong central government.
Extraordinary powers, civil, military, and financial, were exercised to
put down the rebellion; and some of these powers, once assumed by the
general government, have been continued to this day. They have been
greatly strengthened by the enormous patronage which has accumulated
in the hands of the Executive; by the army of office-holders which,
scattered through the land, is subject to the influence of the central

[Sidenote: Results of Emancipation.]

[Sidenote: The Fifteenth Amendment.]

Connected with this change are some other changes, scarcely less
important. One of these is the establishment, throughout the Union, of
universal male suffrage. The emancipation of the slaves wrought a social
and economic change the final results of which are still problematical.
It also introduced a new political element, by endowing millions of
ignorant men with electoral rights for their own protection. Gradually
yet steadily through our political history, restrictions upon the
suffrage have been swept away. At first, not only was there a property
qualification in many of the States, but foreigners and negroes were in
some of them altogether excluded from the polls. The fifteenth amendment
to the Constitution crowned the edifice of universal suffrage in the
United States; and the floodgates, once open, can never be shut again. A
set of men once armed with the vote cannot be deprived of it: and all
the efforts of Know-nothing movements will probably be vain, whether
directed against the freedman, the Chinaman, or the European emigrant.
The only way to meet the evils which accompany universal suffrage is by
paths of education, and the creation of a pure and sincere public

[Sidenote: The Political Changes Gradual.]

[Sidenote: Changes Effected by the Civil War.]

It may be said, then, of the few great political changes which have come
over the spirit of our body politic, that they have been, like the
English revolutions, gradual, and, if on one occasion violent, at least
long contemplated and foreshadowed. On questions of commercial finance,
we are still where we were half a century ago. The antagonistic
principles of a protective tariff and of free trade are still struggling
for the mastery. The greatest changes--that produced on the government
in aggrandizing it at the expense of the States, and that produced on
the South by freeing and enfranchising the blacks--were brought about by
the civil war. The evil results which have flowed from them, mingled
with great good, are evident in many ways. Is it too much to hope that,
a generation hence, those of us who survive will look back gratefully
upon a survival of the good only wrought by these changes; and upon a
completed reform of the civil service, a purified government and
Congress, a people no longer eager to grow suddenly rich by wild
speculation, but content with the moderate prosperity attained by steady
enterprise and wholesome trade; and a South educated and reconciled,
with its civil and political freedom assured by its own enforcement of
equal law?

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