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  • 1907
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KENTUCKY.–The year (1769) that Bean went into Tennessee, Daniel Boone, one of the great men of frontier history, entered what is now Kentucky. Others followed, and despite Indian wars and massacres, Boonesboro, Harrodsburg, and Lexington were founded before 1777. These backwoodsmen also were for a time without any government; but in December, 1776, Virginia organized the region as a county with the present boundaries of Kentucky. [1]

GEORGE ROGERS CLARK.–In the country north of the Ohio were a few old French towns,–Detroit, Kaskaskia, Vincennes,–and a few forts built by the French and garrisoned by the British, from whom the Indians obtained guns and powder to attack the frontier. Against these forts and villages George Rogers Clark, a young Virginian, planned an expedition which was approved by Patrick Henry, then governor of Virginia. Henry could give him little aid, but Clark was determined to go; and in 1778, with one hundred and eighty men, left Pittsburg in boats, floated down the Ohio to its mouth, marched across the swamps and prairies of south-western Illinois, and took Kaskaskia.

Vincennes [2] thereupon surrendered; but was soon recaptured by the British general at Detroit with a band of Indians. But Clark, after a dreadful march across country in midwinter, attacked the fort in the dead of night, captured it, and then conquered the country near the Wabash and Illinois rivers, and held it for Virginia. [3]

SPAIN IN THE WEST.–The conquest was most timely; for in 1779 Spain joined in the war against Great Britain, seized towns and British forts in Florida, and in January, 1781, sent out from St. Louis a band of Spaniards and Indians who marched across Illinois and took possession of Fort St. Joseph in what is now southwestern Michigan, occupied it, and claimed the Northwest for Spain.

THE SOUTH INVADED.–Near the end of 1778, the British armies held strong positions at New York and Newport, and the French fleet under D’Estaing was in the West Indies. The British therefore felt free to strike a blow at the South. A fleet and army accordingly sailed from New York and (December 29, 1778) captured Savannah. Georgia was then overrun, was declared conquered, and the royal governor was reestablished in office. [4]


THE AMERICANS REPULSED AT SAVANNAH.–Governor Rutledge of South Carolina now appealed to D’Estaing, who at once brought his fleet from the West Indies; and Savannah was besieged by the American forces under Lincoln and the French under D’Estaing. After a long siege, an assault was made on the British defenses (October, 1779), in which the brave Pulaski was slain and D’Estaing was wounded. The French then sailed away, and Lincoln fell back into South Carolina.

BRITISH CAPTURE CHARLESTON.–Hearing of this, Sir Henry Clinton and Lord Cornwallis sailed with British troops from New York (December, 1779) to Savannah. Thence the British marched overland to Charleston. Lincoln did all he could to defend the city, but in May, 1780, was compelled to surrender. South Carolina was then overrun by the British, and Clinton returned to New York, leaving Cornwallis in command.

PARTISAN LEADERS.–South Carolina now became the seat of a bitter partisan war. The Tories there clamored for revenge. That no man should be neutral, Cornwallis ordered everyone to declare for or against the king, and sent officers with troops about the state to enroll the royalists in the militia. The whole population was thus arrayed in two hostile parties. The patriots could not offer organized opposition; but little bands of them found refuge in the woods, swamps, and mountain valleys, whence they issued to attack the British troops and the Tories. Led by Andrew Pickens, Thomas Sumter, and Francis Marion whom the British called the Swamp Fox, they won many desperate fights. [5]

CAMDEN.–Congress, however, had not abandoned the South. Two thousand men under De Kalb were marching south before the surrender of Charleston. After it, a call for troops was made on all the states south of Pennsylvania, and General Gates, then called “the Hero of Saratoga,” was sent to join De Kalb and take command. The most important point in the interior of South Carolina was Camden, and against this Gates marched his troops. But he managed matters so badly that near Camden the American army was beaten, routed, and cut to pieces by the British under Cornwallis (August 16, 1780). [6]

[Illustration: WAYNE’S CAMP KETTLE. Now in possession of the Pennsylvania Historical Society.]

THE WAR IN THE NORTH.–What meantime had happened in the North? The main armies near New York had done little fighting; but the British had made a number of sudden raids on the coast. In 1779 Norfolk and Portsmouth in Virginia, and New Haven and several other towns in Connecticut had been attacked, and ships and houses burned. In New York, Clinton captured Stony Point; but Anthony Wayne led a force of Americans against the fort, and at dead of night, by one of the most brilliant assaults in the world’s military history, recaptured it (July, 1779). [7]


TREASON OF ARNOLD.–Stony Point was one of several forts built by order of Washington to defend the Hudson. The chief fort was at West Point, the command of which, in July, 1780, was given to Arnold. When the British left Philadelphia in 1778, Arnold was made military commander there, and so conducted himself that he was sentenced by court-martial to be reprimanded by Washington. This censure, added to previous unfair treatment by Congress, led him to seek revenge in the ruin of his country. To bring this about he asked for the command of West Point, and having received it, offered to surrender the fort to the British.

Clinton’s agent in the matter was Major John André (an’dra), who one day in September, 1780, came up the river in the British ship _Vulture_, went ashore, and at night met Arnold near Stony Point. Morning came before the terms [8] of surrender were arranged, and the _Vulture_ having been fired on dropped down the river out of range.

WEST POINT SAVED.–Thus left within the American lines, André crossed the river to the east shore, and started for New York by land, but was stopped by three Americans, [9] searched, and papers of great importance were found in his stockings. Despite an offer of his watch and money for his release, André was delivered to the nearest American officer, was later tried by court-martial, found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged as a spy.

The American officer to whom André was delivered, not suspecting Arnold, sent the news to him as well as to Washington. Arnold received the message first; knowing that Washington was at hand, he at once procured a boat, was rowed down the river to the _Vulture_, and escaped. From then till the end of the war he served as an officer in the British army.

The disasters at Charleston and Camden, and the narrow escape from disaster at West Point, made 1780 the most disheartening year of the war.

KINGS MOUNTAIN.–But the tide quickly turned. After his victory at Camden, Cornwallis began to invade North Carolina, and sent Colonel Ferguson into the South Carolina highlands to enlist all the Tories he could find. As Ferguson advanced into the hill country, the backwoodsmen and mountaineers rallied from all sides, and led by Sevier, Shelby, and Williams, surrounded him and forced him to make a stand on the summit of Kings Mountain, October 7, 1780. Fighting in true Indian fashion from behind every tree and rock, they shot Ferguson’s army to pieces, killed him, and forced the few survivors to surrender. This victory forced Cornwallis to put off his conquest of North Carolina.

COWPENS.–General Greene was now sent to replace Gates in command of the patriot army in the South. He was too weak to attack Cornwallis, but by dividing his army and securing the aid of the partisan bands he hoped to annoy the British with raids. Morgan, who commanded one of these divisions, was so successful that Cornwallis sent Tarleton with a thousand men against him. Morgan offered battle on the grounds known as the Cowpens, and there Tarleton was routed and three fourths of his men were killed, wounded, or taken prisoners.

[Illustration: BATTLE OF THE COWPENS.]

THE GREAT RETREAT.–This victory won, Morgan set off to join Greene, with Cornwallis himself in hot pursuit. When Greene heard the news, he determined to draw the British general far northward and then fight him wherever he would be at most disadvantage. [10] The retreat of the American army was therefore continued to the border of Virginia.

GUILFORD COURT HOUSE.–Having received reinforcements, Greene turned southward and offered battle at Guilford Court House (March 15, 1781). A desperate fight ensued, and when night came, Greene retired, leaving the British unable to follow him. Cornwallis had lost one quarter of his army in killed and wounded. He was in the midst of a hostile country, too weak to stay, and unwilling to confess defeat by retreating to South Carolina. Thus outgeneraled he hurried to Wilmington, where he could be aided by the British fleet.

[Illustration: LAFAYETTE MONUMENT. Washington, D.C.]

Greene followed for a time, and then turned into South Carolina, drove the British out of Camden, and by the 4th of July had reconquered half of South Carolina. Late in August, he forced the British back to Eutaw Springs, where (September 8, 1781) a desperate battle was fought. [11] The British troops held their ground, but on the following night they set off for. Charleston, where they remained until the end of the war. [12]

YORKTOWN.–From Wilmington Cornwallis marched to southeastern Virginia, where a British force under Benedict Arnold joined him. He then set off to capture Lafayette, who had been sent to defend Virginia from Arnold. But Lafayette retreated to the back country, till reinforcements came. When Cornwallis could drive him no farther, the British army retreated to the coast, and fortified itself at Yorktown.

In August Washington received word that a large French fleet under De Grasse was about to sail from the West Indies to Chesapeake Bay. He saw that the supreme moment had come. Laying aside his plan for an attack on New York, he hurried southward, marched his army to the head of Chesapeake Bay, and then took it by ships to Yorktown. [13] The French fleet was already in the bay. Some French troops had joined Lafayette, and Cornwallis was already surrounded when Washington arrived. The siege was now pressed with overwhelming force, and Cornwallis surrendered on October 19, 1781.

END OF THE WAR.–Swift couriers carried the news to Philadelphia, where, at the dead of night, the people were roused from sleep by the watchman crying in the street, “Past two o’clock and Cornwallis is taken.” In the morning Congress received the dispatches and went in solemn procession to a church to give thanks to God.

When the British prime minister, Lord North, heard the news, he exclaimed, “All is over; all is over!” The king alone remained stubborn, and for a while insisted on holding Georgia, Charleston, and New York. But his advisers in time persuaded him to yield, and (November 30, 1782) a preliminary treaty, acknowledging the independence of the United States, was signed at Paris. [14] The final treaty was not signed till September 3, 1783. [15]

[Illustration: WASHINGTON’S HEADQUARTERS AT NEWBURGH. From an old print.]

In November the Continental army was disbanded, and in December, at Annapolis, where Congress was sitting, Washington formally surrendered his command, and went home to Mount Vernon. [16]


1. Despite the king’s proclamation in 1763, frontiersmen soon crossed the mountains and settled in what is now Kentucky and Tennessee.

2. In the region north of the Ohio were a few British forts, some of which George Rogers Clark captured in 1778 and 1779; but Fort St. Joseph in Michigan was captured by the Spanish.

3. At the end of 1778 the British began an attack on the Southern states by capturing Savannah.

4. Georgia was then overrun. The Americans, aided by a French fleet, attacked Savannah and were repulsed (1779).

5. In 1780, reënforced by a fleet and army from New York, the British captured Charleston and overran South Carolina. The Americans under Gates were badly beaten at Camden; but a British force was destroyed at Kings Mountain.

6. In the same year Benedict Arnold turned traitor, and sought in vain to deliver West Point to the British.

7. In the following year (1781) our arms were generally victorious. Morgan won the battle of the Cowpens; Greene outgeneraled Cornwallis and then reconquered South Carolina. At the end of the year Charleston and Savannah were the only Southern towns held by the British.

8. Cornwallis marched into Virginia, and fortified himself at Yorktown. There Washington, aided by a French army and fleet, forced him to surrender (1781).

9. Peace was made next year, our independence was acknowledged, and by the end of 1783 the last British soldiers had left the country.



[1] About this time the settlers on the upper Ohio River (in what is now West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania) became eager for statehood. Both Virginia and Pennsylvania claimed their allegiance. They asked Congress, therefore, for recognition as the state of Westsylvania, the fourteenth province of the American Confederacy. Congress did not grant their prayer.

[2] Read Thompson’s _Alice of Old Vincennes_.

[3] Farther east, meantime, a band of savages led by Colonel John Butler swept down from Fort Niagara, entered Wyoming Valley in northeastern Pennsylvania, near the site of Wilkes-Barre, and perpetrated one of the most awful massacres in history (July 4, 1778). (Read Campbell’s poem _Gertrude of Wyoming_). A little later another band, led by a son of Butler, burned the village of Cherry Valley in New York, and murdered many of the inhabitants–men, women, and children. Cruelties of this sort could not go unpunished. In the summer of 1779, therefore, General Sullivan with an army invaded the Indian country in central New York, burned forty Indian villages, destroyed their crops, cut down their fruit trees, and brought the Indians to the verge of famine.

[4] Congress now put Lincoln in command in the South; but when he marched into Georgia, the British set off to attack Charleston, sacking houses and slaughtering cattle as they went. This move forced Lincoln to follow them, and having been joined by Pulaski, he compelled the British to retreat.

[5] Four novels by Simms,–_The Partisan_, _Mellichampe_, _Katharine Walton_, and _The Scout_,–and _Horseshoe Robinson_, by Kennedy, are famous stories relating to the Revolution in the South. Read Bryant’s _Song of Marion’s Men_.

[6] A large number of men were killed, and a thousand taken prisoners. Among the dead was De Kalb. Among the living was Gates, who fled among the first and made such haste to escape that he covered two hundred miles in four days.

[7] The purpose of the attack on Stony Point was to draw the British from Connecticut. The capture had the desired result, and Stony Point was then abandoned. The fort stood on a rocky promontory with the water of the Hudson River on three sides. On the fourth was a morass crossed by a narrow road which at high tide was under water. The country between the British forces in New York and the American army on the highlands of the Hudson was known as the neutral ground, and is the scene of Cooper’s great novel _The Spy_.

[8] The British were to come up the river and attack West Point. Arnold was to man the defenses in such a way that they could easily be taken, one at a time, and so afford an excuse for surrendering them, with the three thousand men under Arnold’s command.

[9] The names of André’s captors were John Paulding, David Williams, and Isaac Van Wart. Congress gave each a medal and a pension for life.

[10] To accomplish this Greene sent the greater part of his army northward under General Huger, while he with a small guard hurried across country, and took command of Morgan’s army. And now a most exciting chase began. Cornwallis destroyed his heavy baggage that he might move as rapidly as possible, and vainly strove to get near enough to Greene to make him fight. Greene with great skill kept just out of reach and for ten days lured the British farther and farther north. At Guilford Court House Greene and Morgan were joined by the main army. Cornwallis then proclaimed North Carolina conquered, and called on all Loyalists to join him.

[11] Two good works relating to these events are _The Forayers_ and _Eutaw_, by Simms.

[12] While these things were happening in the South, a French army of 6000 men under Rochambeau arrived at Newport (1780), from which the British had withdrawn in 1779. There, for a while, the French fleet was blockaded by the British, and the troops remained to aid the fleet in case of necessity. The next year, however, this army marched across Connecticut and joined Washington’s forces (July, 1781), and preparations were begun for an attack on New York.

[13] When Clinton realized that Washington was on the way to Yorktown, he sent Arnold on a raid into Connecticut, in hope of forcing Washington to return. Early in September Arnold attacked New London, carried one of its forts by storm, and set tire to the town, but was driven off by the minutemen.

[14] Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin (our minister in France), John Adams (in Holland), John Jay (in Spain), Thomas Jefferson, and Henry Laurens to negotiate the treaty. Jefferson’s appointment came too late for him to serve; the other four signed the treaty of 1782, and Franklin, Adams, and Jay signed the treaty of 1783.

[15] After the surrender of Cornwallis, Washington returned with his army to the Hudson and made his headquarters at Newburgh. In April, 1783, a cessation of war on land and sea was formally proclaimed, and the British prepared to leave New York. Charleston and Savannah were evacuated in 1782, but November 25, 1783, came before the last British soldier left New York. When the troops under Washington entered New York city, they found a British flag nailed to the staff, the halyards gone, and the staff soaped. A sailor climbed the pole by nailing on cleats, pulled down the British flag, and reeved new halyards. The stars and stripes were then raised and saluted with thirteen guns.

[16] Washington refused to be paid for his services. Actual expenses during the war were all he would take, and these amounted to about $70,000.




OUR BOUNDARIES.–By the treaty of 1783 our country was bounded on the north by a line (very much as at present) from the mouth of the St. Croix River in Maine to the Lake of the Woods; on the west by the Mississippi River; and on the south by the parallel of 31° north latitude from the Mississippi to the Apalachicola, and then by the present south boundary of Georgia to the sea. [1]

But our flag did not as yet wave over every part of the country within these bounds. Great Britain, claiming that certain provisions in the treaty had been violated, held the forts from Lake Champlain to Lake Michigan and would not withdraw her troops. [2] Spain, having received the Floridas back from Great Britain by a treaty of 1783, held the forts at Memphis, Baton Rouge, and Vicksburg, and much of what is now Alabama and Mississippi. [3]

A CENTRAL GOVERNMENT.–From 1775 to 1781 the states were governed, so far as they had any general government, by the Continental Congress. During these years there was no written document fixing the powers of Congress and limiting the powers of the states. While the war was going on, Congress submitted a plan for a general government, called Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union; but nearly four years passed before all the states accepted it. The delay was caused by the refusal of Maryland to approve the Articles unless the states having sea-to-sea charters would give to Congress, for the public good, the lands they claimed beyond the mountains. [4]

Congress therefore appealed to the states to cede their Western lands. If they would do this, Congress promised to sell the lands, use the money to pay the debts of the United States, and cut the region into states and admit them into the Union at the proper time. New York, Connecticut, and Virginia at last agreed to give up their lands northwest of the Ohio River, and on March 1, 1781, the Maryland delegates signed the Articles and by so doing put them in force. [5]

THE ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION.–In the government set up by the Articles of Confederation there was no President of the United States, no Supreme Court, no Senate. Congress consisted of a single body to which each state sent at least two delegates, and might send any number up to seven. The members were elected annually, were paid by the states they represented, could not serve more than three years in six, and might be recalled at any time. Each state cast one vote, and nine affirmative votes were necessary to carry any important measure. Congress could make war and peace, enter into treaties with foreign powers, coin money, contract debts in the name of the United States, and call upon each state for its share of the general expenses.

THE STATES CEDE LANDS.–Although three states had tendered their Western lands when Maryland signed the Articles, the conditions of cession were not at once accepted by Congress, and some time passed before the deeds were delivered. By the year 1786, however, the claims northwest of the Ohio had been ceded by New York, Virginia, [6] Massachusetts, and Connecticut. [7] South of the Ohio, what is now West Virginia and Kentucky still belonged to Virginia. North Carolina offered what is now Tennessee to Congress in 1784, [8] but the conditions were not then accepted, and that territory was not turned over to Congress till 1790. The long, narrow strip of western land owned by South Carolina was ceded to Congress in 1787. South of this was a strip owned by Georgia, and farther south lands long in dispute between Georgia and Spain and Congress. Georgia did not accept her present western limits till 1802.

MIGRATION WESTWARD.–Into the country west of the mountains the people were moving in three great streams. One from New England was pushing out along the Mohawk valley into central New York; another from Pennsylvania and Virginia was pouring its population into Kentucky; the third from North Carolina was overrunning Tennessee.

[Illustration: A SETTLER’S LOG CABIN.]

For this movement the hard times which followed the Revolution were largely the cause. Compared with our time, the means of making a livelihood were few and far less remunerative. Great mills and factories each employing thousands of persons had no existence. The imports from Great Britain far surpassed in value our exports; the difference was settled in specie (coin) taken from the country. The people were poor, and as land in the West was cheap, they left the East and went westward.

ROUTES TO THE OHIO VALLEY.–New England people bound to the Ohio valley went through Connecticut to Kingston, New York, on across New Jersey to Easton, Pennsylvania, and thence to Bedford, where they struck the road cut years before by the troops of General Forbes, and by it went to Pittsburg (p. 194). Settlers from Maryland and Virginia went generally to Fort Cumberland in Maryland, and then on by Brad dock’s Road to Pittsburg, or turned off and reached the Monongahela at Redstone, or the Ohio at Wheeling (map, p. 201).

Such was the rush to the Ohio valley that each spring and summer hundreds of boats and arks left Pittsburg and Wheeling or Redstone, and floated down the Ohio to Maysville, Louisville, and other places in Kentucky. [9] The flatboat was usually twelve feet wide and forty feet long, with high sides and a flat or slightly arched top, and was steered, and when necessary was rowed, by long oars or sweeps. Some were arranged to carry cattle as well as household goods.

[Illustration: OHIO RIVER FLATBOAT OF ABOUT 1840. The boat is like those used in earlier times.]

THE OHIO COMPANY OF ASSOCIATES.–Meanwhile, some old soldiers of New England and New Jersey who had claims for bounty lands, [10] organized the Ohio Company of Associates, and in 1787 sent an agent (Manasseh Cutler) to New York, where Congress was sitting, and bade him buy a great tract of land northwest of the Ohio, on which they might settle.


THE ORDINANCE OF 1787.–When Cutler reached New York, he found Congress debating a measure of great importance. This was an ordinance for the government of the Northwest Territory, including the whole region from the Lakes to the Ohio, and from Pennsylvania to the Mississippi. When passed, this famous Ordinance of 1787 provided–

1. That until five thousand free white males lived in the territory, the governing body should be a governor and three judges appointed by Congress.

2. That when there were five thousand free white men in the territory, they might elect a legislature and send a delegate to Congress.

3. That slavery should not be permitted in the territory, but that fugitive slaves should be returned.

4. That the territory should in time be cut up into not more than five, or less than three, states.

5. That when the population of each division numbered sixty thousand, it should be admitted into the Union on the same footing as the original states.

OHIO SETTLED.–After the ordinance was passed, Cutler bought five million acres of land north of the Ohio River, and in the winter of 1787-88 a party of young men sent out by the Ohio Company made their way from New England to a branch of the Monongahela River. There they built a great boat, and when the ice broke up, floated down the Ohio to the lands of the Ohio Company, where they erected a few log huts and a fort of hewn timber which they called Campus Martius. The little settlement was called Marietta. [11]

Farther down the Ohio, on land owned by John Cleve Symmes and associates, Columbia and Losantiville, afterward called Cincinnati, were founded in 1788.

STATE BOUNDARIES.–The old charters which led to the conflicting claims to land in the West, caused like disputes in the East. Massachusetts claimed a strip of country embracing western New York, and did not settle the dispute till 1786. [12] A similar dispute between Connecticut and Pennsylvania was settled in 1782. [13] New York claimed all Vermont as having once been part of New Netherland; but Vermont was really an independent republic. [14] In Kentucky the people were insisting that their country be separated from Virginia and made a state.

TROUBLE WITH SPAIN.–Congress had trouble in trying to secure from foreign nations fair treatment for our commerce, and was involved in a dispute over the navigation of the Mississippi. Spain owned both banks at the mouth of the river, and denied the right of Americans to go in or out without her consent. The Spanish minister who came over in 1785 was ready to make a commercial treaty if the river was closed to navigation for twenty-five years, and the Eastern states were quite ready to agree to it. But the people of Kentucky and Tennessee threatened to leave the Union if cut off from the sea, and no treaty was made with Spain till 1795.

THE WEAKNESS OF THE CONFEDERATION.–The question of trade and commerce with foreign powers and between the states was very serious, and the weakness of Congress in this and other matters soon wrecked the Confederation.

1. In the first place, the Articles of Confederation gave Congress no power to levy taxes of any kind. Money, therefore, could not be obtained to pay the debts of the United States, or the annual cost of government. [15]

2. Congress had no power to regulate the foreign trade. As there were few articles manufactured in the country, china, glass, cutlery, edged tools, hardware, woolen, linen, and many other articles of daily use were imported from Great Britain. As Great Britain took little from us, these goods were largely paid for in specie, which grew scarcer and scarcer each year. Great Britain, moreover, hurt our trade by shutting our vessels out of her West Indies, and by heavy duties on American goods coming to her ports in American ships. [16] Congress, having no power to regulate trade, could not retaliate by treating British ships in the same way.

3. Congress had no power to regulate trade between the states. As a consequence, some of the states laid heavy duties on goods imported from other states. Retaliation followed, and the safety of the Union was endangered.

4. Congress did not have sole power to coin money and regulate the value thereof. There were, therefore, nearly as many kinds of paper money as there were states, and the money issued by each state passed in others at all sorts of value, or not at all. This hindered interstate trade.

5. Congress could not enforce treaties. It could make treaties with other countries, but only the states could compel the people to observe them, and the states did not choose to do so.

[Illustration: NEW HAMPSHIRE COLONIAL PAPER MONEY. Similar bills were issued by the states before 1789.]

CONGRESS ASKS FOR MORE POWER.–Of the defects in the Articles of Confederation Congress was fully aware, and it asked the states to amend the Articles and give it more authority. [17] To do this required the assent of all the states, and as the consent of thirteen states could not be obtained, the additional powers were not given to Congress.

This soon brought matters to a crisis. With no regulation of trade, the purchase of more and more goods from British merchants made money so scarce that the states were forced to print and issue large amounts of paper bills. In Massachusetts, when the legislature refused to issue such currency, the debtors rose and, led by a Revolutionary officer named Daniel Shays, prevented the courts from trying suits for the recovery of debts. The governor called out troops, and several encounters took place before a bitter winter dispersed the insurgents. [18]

THE ANNAPOLIS TRADE CONVENTION.–In this condition of affairs, Virginia invited her sister states to send delegates to a convention at Annapolis in 1786. They were to “take into consideration the trade and commerce of the United States.” Five states sent delegates, but the convention could do nothing, because less than half the states were present, and because the powers of the delegates were too limited. A request was therefore made by it that Congress call a convention of the states to meet at Philadelphia and “take into consideration the situation of the United States.”

THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION.–Congress issued the call early in 1787, and delegates from twelve states [19] met at Philadelphia and framed the Constitution of the United States. Washington was made president of the convention, and among the members were many of the ablest men of the time. [20]

[Illustration: INVITATION SENT BY WASHINGTON, AS PRESIDENT OF THE CONVENTION. In the possession of the Pennsylvania Historical Society.]

THE COMPROMISES.–In the course of the debates in the convention great difference of opinion arose on several matters.

The small states wanted a Congress of one house, and equality of state representation. The great states wanted Historical a Congress of two houses, with representation in proportion to population. This difference of opinion was so serious that a compromise was necessary, and it was agreed that in one branch (House of Representatives) the people should be represented, and in the other (Senate) the states.

The question then arose whether slaves should be counted as population. The Southern delegates said yes; the Northern, no. It was finally agreed that direct taxes and representatives should be apportioned according to population, and that three fifths of the slaves should be counted as population. This was the second compromise.

The convention agreed that Congress should regulate foreign commerce. But the Southern members objected that by means of this power Congress might pass navigation acts limiting trade to American ships, which might raise freights on exports from the South. Many Northern members, on the other hand, wanted the slave trade stopped. These two matters were therefore made the basis of another compromise, by which Congress could pass navigation acts, but could not prohibit the slave trade before 1808.

THE CONSTITUTION RATIFIED.–When the convention had finished its work (September 17, 1787), the Constitution [21] was sent to the old (Continental) Congress, which referred it to the states, and the states, one by one, called on the people to elect; delegates to conventions to ratify or reject the new plan of government. In a few states it was accepted without any demand for changes. In others it was vigorously opposed as likely to set up too strong a government. In Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia adoption was long in doubt. [22]

By July, 1788, eleven states had ratified, and the Constitution was in force as to these States. [23]

ESTABLISHMENT OF THE NEW GOVERNMENT.–The Continental Congress then appointed the first Wednesday in January, 1789, as the day on which electors of President should be chosen in the eleven states; the first Wednesday in February as the day on which the electors should meet and vote for President; and the first Wednesday in March (which happened to be the 4th of March) as the day when the new Congress should assemble at New York and canvass the vote for President.

[Illustration: FEDERAL HALL, ON WALL STREET, NEW YORK. From an old print.]

WASHINGTON THE FIRST PRESIDENT.–When March 4 came, neither the Senate nor the House of Representatives had a quorum, and a month went by before the electoral votes were counted, and Washington and John Adams declared President and Vice President of the United States. [24]

Some time now elapsed before Washington could be notified of his election. More time was consumed by the long journey from Mount Vernon to New York, where, on April 30, 1789, standing on the balcony of Federal Hall, he took the oath of office in the presence of a crowd of his fellow-citizens.


1. The treaty of peace defined the boundaries of our country; but Great Britain continued to hold the forts along the north, and Spain to occupy the country in the southwest.

2. Seven of the thirteen states claimed the country west of the mountains.

3. The other six, especially Maryland, denied these claims, and this dispute delayed the adoption of the Articles of Confederation till 1781.

4. By the year 1786 the lands northwest of the Ohio had been ceded to Congress.

5. In 1787, therefore, Congress formed the Northwest Territory.

6. Certain states, meantime, were settling disputes as to their boundaries in the east.

7. We had trouble with Spain over the right to use the lower Mississippi River, and with Great Britain over matters of trade.

8. Six years’ trial proved that the government of the United States was too weak under the Articles of Confederation.

9. In 1787, therefore, the Constitution was framed, and within a year was ratified by eleven states.

10. In 1789 Washington and Adams became President and Vice President, and government under the Constitution began.

[Illustration: LIBERTY BELL.]


[1] Both France and Spain had tried to shut us out of the Mississippi valley. Read Fiske’s Critical Period of American History, pp. 17-25.

[2] By the treaty of 1783 Congress provided that all debts due British subjects might be recovered by law, and that the states should be asked to pay for confiscated property of the Loyalists. But the states would not permit the recovery of the debts nor pay for the property taken from the Loyalists. Great Britain, by holding the forts along our northern frontier, controlled the fur trade and the Indians, and ruled the country about the forts. These were Dutchman’s Point, Point au Fer, Oswegatchie, Oswego, Niagara, Erie, Detroit, Mackinaw.

[3] To understand her conduct we must remember that in 1764, shortly after the French and Indian War, Great Britain made 32° 28′ north latitude (through the mouth of the Yazoo, p. 143) the north boundary of West Florida; and although Great Britain in her treaty with us made 31° the boundary between us and West Florida, Spain insisted that it should be 32° 28′. Spain’s claim to the Northwest, founded on her occupation of Fort St. Joseph (p. 183), had not been allowed; she was therefore the more determined to expand her claims in the South.

[4] The states claiming such lands by virtue of their colonial charters were Massachusetts, Connecticut, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. New York had acquired the Iroquois title to lands in the West. Her claim conflicted with those of Virginia, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The claims of Connecticut and Massachusetts covered lands included in the Virginia claim–Maryland denied the validity of all these claims, for these reasons: (1) the Mississippi valley belonged to France till 1763; (2) when France gave the valley east of the Mississippi to Great Britain in 1763, it became crown land; (3) in 1763 the king drew the line around the sources of the rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, and forbade the colonists to settle beyond that line (p. 143).

[5] The Articles were not to go into effect till every state signed. Maryland was the thirteenth state to sign.

[6] Virginia reserved ownership of a large tract called the Virginia Military Lands. It lay in what is now Ohio between the Scioto and Little Miami rivers (map, p. 201), and was used to pay bounties to her soldiers of the Revolution.

[7] Connecticut reserved the ownership (and till 1800 the government) of a tract 120 miles long, west of Pennsylvania. Of this “Western Reserve of Connecticut,” some 500,000 acres were set apart in 1792 for the relief of persons whose houses and farms had been burned and plundered by the British. The rest was sold and the money used as a school fund.

[8] When the settlers on the Watauga (pp. 181, 182) heard of this, they became alarmed lest Congress should not accept the cession, and forming a new state which they called Franklin, applied to Congress for admission into the Union. No attention was given to the application. North Carolina repealed the act of cession, arranged matters with the settlers, and in 1787 the Franklin government dissolved.

[9] The favorite time for the river trip was from February to May, when there was high water in the Ohio and its tributaries the Allegheny and Monongahela. Then the voyage from Pittsburg to Louisville could be made in eight or ten days. An observer at Pittsburg in 1787 saw 50 flatboats depart in six weeks. Another man at Fort Finney counted 177 passing boats with 2700 people in eight months.

[10] In order to encourage enlistment in the army, Congress had offered to give a tract of land to each officer and man who served through the war. The premium in land, or gift, over and above pay, was known as land bounty.

[11] Read McMaster’s History of the People of the U. S., Vol. I, pp. 505- 519. All the land bought by the Ohio Company was not for its use. A large part was for another, known as the Scioto Company, which sent an agent to Paris and sold the land to a French company. This, in turn, sold in small pieces to Frenchmen eager to leave a country then in a state of revolution. In 1790, accordingly, several hundred emigrants reached Alexandria, Virginia, and came on to the little square of log huts, with a blockhouse at each corner, which the company had built for them and named Gallipolis. Most of them were city-bred artisans, unfit for frontier life, who suffered greatly in the wilderness.

[12] The land was included in the limits laid down in the charter of Massachusetts; but that charter was granted after the Dutch were in actual possession of the upper Hudson. In 1786 a north and south line was drawn 82 miles west of the Delaware. Ownership of the land west of that line went to Massachusetts; but jurisdiction over the land, the right to govern, was given to New York.

[13] Connecticut, under her sea-to-sea grant from the crown, claimed a strip across northern Pennsylvania, bought some land there from the Indians (1754), and some of her people settled on the Susquehanna in what was known as the Wyoming Valley (1762 and 1769). The dispute which followed, first with the Penns and then with the state of Pennsylvania, dragged on till a court of arbitration appointed by the Continental Congress decided in favor of Pennsylvania.

[14] Because of Champlain’s discovery of the lake which now bears his name (p. 115), the French claimed most of Vermont; on their early maps it appears as part of New France, and as late as 1739 they made settlements in it. About 1750 the governor of New Hampshire granted land in Vermont to settlers, and the country began to be known as “New Hampshire Grants”; but in 1763 New York claimed it as part of the region given to the Duke of York in 1664. This brought on a bitter dispute which was still raging when, in 1777, the settlers declared New Hampshire Grants “a free and independent state to be called New Connecticut.” Later the name was changed to Vermont. But the Continental Congress, for fear of displeasing New York, never recognized Vermont as a state.

[15] Each state was bound to pay its share of the annual expenses; but they failed or were unable to do so.

[16] Why would not Great Britain make a trade treaty with us? Read Fiske’s _Critical Period_, pp. 136-142; also pp. 142-147, about difficulties between the states.

[17] Congress asked for authority to do three things: (1) to levy taxes on imported goods, and use the money so obtained to discharge the debts due to France, Holland, and Spain; (2) to lay and collect a special tax, and use the money to meet the annual expenses of government; and (3) to regulate trade with foreign countries.

[18] The story of Shays’s Rebellion is told in fiction in Bellamy’s _Duke of Stockbridge_. Read McMaster’s _History of the People of the U. S._, Vol. I, pp. 313-326.

[19] All the states except Rhode Island.

[20] One had written the Albany Plan of Union; some had been members of the Stamp Act Congress; some had signed the Declaration of Independence, or the Articles of Confederation; two had been presidents and twenty-eight had been members of Congress; seven had been or were then governors of states. In after times two (Washington and Madison) became Presidents, one (Elbridge Gerry) Vice President, four members of the Cabinet, two Chief Justices and two justices of the Supreme Court, five ministers at foreign courts, and many others senators and members of the House of Representatives. One, Franklin, has the distinction of having signed the Declaration of Independence, the treaty of alliance with France (1778), the treaty of peace with Great Britain (1783), and the Constitution of the United States, the four great documents in our early history.

[21] Every student should read the Constitution, as printed near the end of this book or elsewhere, and should know about the three branches of government, legislative, executive, and judicial; the powers of Congress (Art. I, Sec. 8), of the President (Art. I, Sec. 7; Art. II, Secs. 2 and 3), and of the United States; courts (Art. III); the principal powers forbidden to Congress (Art. I, Sec. 9) and to the states (Art. I, Sec. 10); the methods of amending the Constitution (Art. V); the supremacy of the Constitution (Art. VI).

[22] To remove the many objections made to the new plan, and enable the people the better to understand it, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay wrote a series of little essays for the press, in which they defended the Constitution, explained and discussed its provisions, and showed how closely it resembled the state constitutions. These essays were called _The Federalist_, and, gathered into book form (in 1788), have become famous as a treatise on the Constitution and on government. Those who opposed the Constitution were called Anti-Federalists, and they wrote pamphlets and elaborate series of letters in the newspapers, signed by such names as Cato, Agrippa, A Countryman. They declared that Congress would overpower the states, that the President would become a despot, that the Courts would destroy liberty; and they insisted that amendments should be made, guaranteeing liberty of speech, freedom of the press, trial by jury, no quartering of troops in time of peace, liberty of conscience. Read McMaster’s _History of the People of the U. S._, Vol. I, pp. 490-491; 478-479.

[23] Because the Constitution provided that it should go into force as soon as nine states ratified it. North Carolina and Rhode Island did not ratify till some months later, and, till they did, were not members of the new Union.

[24] In three of the eleven states then in the Union (Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia) the presidential electors were chosen by vote of the people. In Massachusetts the voters in each congressional district voted for two candidates, and the legislature chose one of the two, and also two electors at large. In New Hampshire also the people voted for electors, but none receiving a majority vote, the legislature made the choice. Elsewhere the legislatures appointed electors; but in New York the two branches of the legislature fell into a dispute and failed to choose any. Washington received the first vote of all the 69 electors, and Adams received 34 votes, the next highest number.



THE STATES.–When Washington became President, the thirteen original states of the Union [1] were in many respects very unlike the same states in our day. In some the executive was called president; in others governor. In some he had a veto; in others he had not. In some there was no senate. To be a voter in those days a man had to have an estate worth a certain sum of money, [2] or a specified annual income, or own a certain number of acres. [3]

Moreover, to be eligible as governor or a member of a state legislature a man had to own more property than was needed to qualify him to vote. In many states it was further required that officeholders should be Protestants, or at least Christians, or should believe in the existence of God.

The adoption of the Constitution made necessary certain acts of legislation by the states. They could issue no more bills of credit; provision therefore had to be made for the redemption of those outstanding. They could lay no duties on imports; such as had laid import duties had to repeal their laws and abolish their customhouses. All lighthouses, beacons, buoys, maintained by individual states were surrendered to the United States, and in other ways the states had to adjust themselves to the new government.


THE NATIONAL DEBT.–Each of the states was in debt for money and supplies used in the war; and over the whole country hung a great debt contracted by the old Congress. Part of this national debt was represented by bills of credit, loan-office certificates, lottery certificates, and many other sorts of promises to pay, which had become almost worthless. This was strictly true of the bills of credit or paper money issued in great quantities by the Continental Congress. [4] Besides this domestic debt owed to the people at home, there was a foreign debt, for Congress had borrowed a little money from Spain and a great deal from France and Holland. On this debt interest was due, for Congress had not been able to pay even that.

THE MONEY OF THE COUNTRY.–The Continental bills having long ceased to circulate, the currency of the country consisted of paper money issued by individual states, and the gold, silver, and copper coins of foreign countries. These passed by such names as the Joe or Johannes, the doubloon, pistole, moidore, guinea, crown, dollar, shilling, sixpence, pistareen, penny. A common coin was the Spanish milled dollar, which passed at different ratings in different parts of the country. [5] Congress in 1786 adopted the dollar as a unit, divided it into the half, quarter, dime, half dime, cent, and half cent, and ordered some coppers to be minted; but very few were made by the contractor.

[Illustration: SETTLED AREA IN 1790.]

POPULATION.–Just how many people dwelt in our country before 1790 can only be guessed at. In that year they were counted for the first time, and it was then ascertained that they numbered 3,929,000 (in the thirteen states) of whom 700,000 were slaves. All save about 200,000 dwelt along the seaboard, east of the mountains; and nearly half were between Chesapeake Bay and Florida.

The most populous state was Virginia; after her, next in order were Massachusetts (including Maine), Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and New York.

The most populous city was Philadelphia, after which came New York, Boston, Charleston, and Baltimore.

LIFE IN THE CITIES.–What passed for thriving cities in those days were collections of a thousand or two houses, very few of which made any pretension to architectural beauty, ranged along narrow streets, none of which were sewered, and few of which were paved or lighted even on nights when the moon did not shine. During daylight a few constables kept order. At night small parties of men called the night watch walked the streets. Each citizen was required to serve his turn on the watch or find a substitute or pay a fine. He had to be a fireman and keep in his house near the front door a certain number of leather fire buckets with which at the clanging of the courthouse or market bell he would run to the burning building and take his place in the line which passed the full buckets from the nearest pump to the engine, or in the line which passed the empty buckets from the engine back to the pump. Water for household use or for putting out fires came from private wells or from the town pumps. There were no city water works.

[Illustration: EARLY FIRE ENGINE.]

Lack of good and abundant water, lack of proper drainage, ignorance of the laws of health, filthy, unpaved streets, spread diseases of the worst sort. Smallpox was common. Yellow fever in the great cities was of almost annual occurrence, and often raged with the violence of a plague.

LACK OF CONVENIENCES.–Few appliances which increase comfort, or promote health, or save time or labor, were in use. Not even in the homes of the rich were there cook stoves or furnaces or open grates for burning anthracite coal, or a bath room, or a gas jet. Lamps and candles afforded light by night. The warming pan, the foot stove (p. 97), and the four- posted bedstead (p. 76), with curtains to be drawn when the nights were cold, were still essentials. The boy was fortunate who did not have to break the ice in his water pail morning after morning in winter. Clocks and watches were luxuries for the rich. The sundial was yet in use, and when the flight of time was to be noted in hours or parts, people resorted to the hour glass. Many a minister used one on Sundays to time his preaching by, and many a housewife to time her cooking. [6]

[Illustration: HOUR GLASS. In Essex Hall, Salem.]

No city had yet reached such size as to make street cars or cabs or omnibuses necessary. Time was less valuable than in our day. The merchant kept his own books, wrote all business letters with a quill pen, and waited for the ink to dry or sprinkled it with sand. There were no envelopes, no postage stamps, no letter boxes in the streets, no collection of the mails. The letter written, the paper was carefully folded, sealed with wax or a wafer, addressed, and carried to the post office, where postage was paid in money at rates which would now seem extortionate. A single sheet of paper was a single letter, and two sheets a double letter on which double postage was paid. Three mails a week between Philadelphia and New York, and two a week between New York and Boston, were thought ample. The post offices in the country towns consisted generally of a drawer or a few boxes in a store.

[Illustration: QUILLS AS SOLD FOR MAKING PENS. In Essex Hall, Salem.]

NEWSPAPERS could not be sent by mail, and there were few to send. Though the first newspaper in the colonies was printed in Boston as early as 1704, the first daily newspaper in our country was issued in Philadelphia in 1784. Illustrated newspapers, trade journals, scientific weeklies, illustrated magazines, [7] were unknown. Such newspapers as existed in 1789 were published most of them once a week, and a few twice, and were printed by presses worked by hand; and no paper anywhere in our country was issued on Sunday or sold for as little as a penny.

BOOKS.–In no city in 1790 could there have been found an art gallery, a free museum of natural history, a school or institute of any sort where instruction in the arts and sciences was given. There were many good private libraries, but hardly any that were open to public use. Books were mostly imported from Great Britain, or such as were sure of a ready sale were reprinted by some American publisher when enough subscribers were obtained to pay the cost. Of native authors very few had produced anything which is now read save by the curious. [8]

SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES.–In education great progress had been made. There were as yet no normal schools, no high schools, no manual training schools, and, save in New England, no approach to the free common school of to-day. There were private, parish, and charity schools and academies in all the states. In many of these a small number of children of the poor, under certain conditions, might receive instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic. But as yet the states did not have the money with which to establish a great system of free common schools.


Money in aid of academies and colleges was often raised by lotteries. Indeed, every one of the eight oldest colleges of that day had received such help. [9] In each of these the classes were smaller, the course of instruction much simpler, and the graduates much younger than to-day. In no country of that time were the rich and well-to-do better educated than in the United States, [10] and it is safe to say that in none was primary education–reading, writing, and arithmetic–more diffused among the people. [11]

TRAVEL.–To travel from one city to another in 1789 required at least as many days as it now does hours. [12] The stagecoach, horseback, or private conveyances were the common means of land travel. The roads were bad and the large rivers unbridged, and in stormy weather or in winter the delays at the ferries were often very long. Breakdowns and upsets were common, and in rainy weather a traveler by stagecoach was fortunate if he did not have to help the driver pull the wheels out of the mud. [13]

THE INNS AND TAVERNS, sometimes called coffeehouses or ordinaries, at which travelers lodged, were designated by pictured signs or emblems hung before the door, and were given names which had no relation to their uses, as the Indian Head, the Crooked Billet, the Green Dragon, the Plow and Harrow. In these taverns dances or balls were held, and sometimes public meetings. To those in the country came sleigh-ride parties. From them the stagecoaches departed, and before their doors auctions were often held, and in the great room within were posted public notices of all sorts.

[Illustration: SIGN OF THE INDIAN HEAD TAVERN, NEAR CONCORD, MASS. Now in the possession of the Concord Antiquarian Society.]

THE SHOPS were designated in much the same way as the inns, not by street numbers but by signs; as the Lock and Key, the Lion and the Glove, the Bell in Hand, the Golden Ball, the Three Doves. One shop is described as near a certain bake-house, another as close by the townhouse, another as opposite a judge’s dwelling. The shop was usually the front room of a little house. In the rear or overhead lived the tradesman, his family, and his apprentice.

METHODS OF BUSINESS.–For his wares the tradesman took cash when he could get it, gave short credit with good security when he had to, and often was forced to resort to barter. Thus paper makers took rags for paper, brush makers exchanged brushes for hog’s bristles, and a general shopkeeper took grain, wood, cheese, butter, in exchange for dry goods and clothing.

Few of the modern methods of extending business, of seeking customers, of making the public aware of what the merchant had for sale, existed, even in a rude state. There were no commercial travelers, no means of widespread advertising. When an advertisement had been inserted in a newspaper whose circulation was not fifteen hundred copies, when a handbill had been posted in the markets and the coffeehouses, the means of reaching the public were exhausted.

THE WORKINGMAN.–What was true of the merchant was true of men in every walk in life. Their opportunities were few, their labor was hard, their comforts of life were far inferior to what is now within their reach. In every great city to-day are men, women, and boys engaged in a hundred trades, professions, and occupations unknown in 1790. The great corporations, mills, factories, mines, railroads, the steamboats, rapid transit, the telegraph, the telephone, the typewriter, the sewing machine, the automobile, the postal delivery service, the police and fire departments, the banks and trust companies, the department stores, and scores of other inventions and business institutions of great cities, now giving employment to millions of human beings, have been created since 1790.

The working day was from sunrise to sunset, with one hour for breakfast and another for dinner. Wages were about a third what they are now, and were less when the days were short than when they were long. The redemptioner was still in demand in the Middle States. In the South almost all labor was done by slaves.

SLAVERY.–In the North slavery was on the decline. While still under the crown, Virginia and several other colonies had attempted to check slavery by forbidding the importation of more slaves, but their laws for this purpose were disallowed by the king. After 1776 the states were free to do as they pleased in the matter, and many of them stopped the importation of slaves. Moreover, before Congress shut slavery out of the Northwest Territory, the New England states and Pennsylvania had either abolished slavery outright or provided for its extinction by gradual abolition laws. [14]

INDUSTRIES.–In New England the people lived on their own farms, which they cultivated with their own hands and with the help of their children, or engaged in codfishing, whaling, lumbering, shipbuilding, and commerce. They built ships and sold them abroad, or used them to carry away the products of New England to the South, to the ports of France, Spain, Russia, Sweden, the West Indies, and even to China. To the West Indies went horses, cattle, lumber, salt fish, and mules; and from them came sugar, molasses, coffee, indigo, wines. From Sweden and Russia came iron, hemp, and duck.

The Middle States produced much grain and flour. New York had lost much of her fur trade because of the British control of the frontier posts; but her exports of flour, grain, lumber, leather, and what not, in 1791, were valued at nearly $3,000,000. The people of Pennsylvania made lumber, linen, flour, paper, iron; built ships; carried on a prosperous commerce with foreign lands and a good fur trade with the Indians.

[Illustration: TRADING CANOE.]

In Maryland and Virginia the staple crop was still tobacco, but they also produced much grain and flour. North Carolina produced tar, pitch, resin, turpentine, and lumber. Some rice and tobacco were raised. Great herds of cattle and hogs ran wild. In South Carolina rice was the most important crop. Indigo, once an important product, had declined since the Revolution, and cotton was only just beginning to be grown for export. From the back country came tar, pitch, turpentine, and beaver, deer, and bear skins for export.

THE FUR TRADE.–The region of the Great Lakes, where the British still held the forts on the American side of the boundary, was the chief seat of the fur trade. Goods for Indian use were brought from England to Montreal and Quebec, and carried in canoes to Oswego, Niagara, Detroit, Mackinaw, Sault Ste. Marie (map, p. 194), and thence scattered over the Northwest. [15]


1. In 1789 the states had governments less democratic than at present; in general only property owners could vote and hold office.

2. The states were all in debt, and Congress had incurred besides a large national debt.

3. The population was less than 4,000,000, mostly on the Atlantic seaboard.

4. Cities were few and small, without street cars, pavements, water works, gas or electric lights, public libraries or museums, letter carriers, or paid firemen. Everywhere many of the common conveniences of modern life were unknown.

5. Travel was slow and tiresome, because there were no railroads, steamboats, or automobiles.

6. Occupations were far fewer than now, wages lower, and hours of labor longer. Slavery had been abolished, or was being gradually stopped, in New England and Pennsylvania, but existed in all the other states; and in the South nearly all the labor was done by slaves.

7. New Englanders were engaged in farming, fishing, lumbering, and commerce; the Middle States produced much wheat and flour, and also lumber; the South chiefly tobacco, rice, and tar, pitch, and turpentine.


[1] The states ratified the Constitution on the dates given below:–

1. Delaware……… Dec. 7, 1787
2. Pennsylvania….. Dec. 12,1787 3. New Jersey……. Dec. 18, 1787
4. Georgia………. Jan. 2, 1788 5. Connecticut…… Jan. 9, 1788
6. Massachusetts…. Feb. 7, 1788 7. Maryland……… April 28, 1788
8. South Carolina… May 23, 1788 9. New Hampshire…. June 21, 1788
10. Virginia…….. June 26, 1788 11. New York…….. July 26, 1788
12. North Carolina.. Nov. 21, 1789 13. Rhode Island…. May 29, 1790

[2] In New Jersey any “person” having a freehold (real estate owned outright or for life) worth £50 might vote. In New York each voter had to have a freehold of £20, or pay 40 shillings house rent and his taxes. In Massachusetts he had to have an estate of £60, or an income of £3 from his estate.

[3] In Maryland 50 acres; in South Carolina 50 acres or a town lot; in Georgia £10 of taxable property.

[4] When Congress was forced to assume the conduct of the war, money was needed to pay the troops. But the Congress then had no authority to tax either the colonies or the people, so (in 1775-81) it issued bills of credit, or Continental money, of various denominations. A loan office was also established in each state, and the people were asked to loan Congress money and receive in return loan-office certificates bearing interest and payable in three years. But little money came from this source; and the people refused to take the bills of credit at their face value. The states then made them legal tender, that is, made them lawful money for the payment of debts. But as they became more and more plentiful, prices of everything paid for in Continental money rose higher and higher. From an old bill of January, 1781, it appears that in Philadelphia a pair of boots cost $600 in paper dollars; six yards of chintz, $900; eight yards of binding, $400; a skein of silk, $10; and butter, $20 a pound. In Boston at the same time sugar was $10 a pound; beef, $8; and flour, $1575 a barrel. To say of anything that it was “not worth a continental” was to say that it was utterly worthless.

[5] In New England it was valued at six shillings; in New York at eight; in Pennsylvania at seven and six pence; in South Carolina and Georgia at four shillings and eight pence.

[6] The hour glass consisted of two small glass bulbs joined by a small glass tube. In one bulb was as much fine sand as in the course of an hour could run through the tube into the other bulb. At auctions when ships or real estate were for sale it was common to measure time by burning an inch or more of candle; that is, the bidding would go on till a certain length of candle was consumed.

[7] The _Massachusetts Magazine_ was illustrated with occasional engravings of cities and scenery; but it was not what we know as an illustrated magazine. Read a description of the newspapers of this time in McMaster’s _History of the People of the U. S._, Vol. I, pp. 35-38.

[8] Franklin is still the most popular of colonial writers. His autobiography, his _Way to Wealth_, and many of his essays are still republished and widely read. The poetry of Philip Freneau, of John Trumbull, and Francis Hopkinson is still read by many; but it was in political writing that our countrymen excelled. No people have ever produced a finer body of political literature than that called forth by the Revolution. Read McMaster’s _History of the People of the U. S._, Vol. I, pp. 74-80.

[9] Harvard, William and Mary, Yale, Princeton, Pennsylvania, Columbia, Brown, and Dartmouth. In a lottery “drawn” in 1797 for the benefit of Brown University, 9000 tickets were sold at $6 each–a total of $54,000. Of this, $8000 was kept by the university, and $46,000 distributed in 3328 prizes–2000 at $9 each, 1000 at $12 each, and the rest from $20 to $4000.

[10] In the convention which framed the Constitution twenty of the fifty- five men were college graduates. Five were graduates of Princeton, three of Harvard, three of Yale, three of William and Mary, two of Pennsylvania, one of King’s (now Columbia), and one each of Oxford, Edinburgh, and Glasgow.

[11] The writings of men who were not college graduates–Washington, Franklin, Dickinson, and many others–speak well for the character of the early schools.

[12] The journey from Boston to New York by land consumed six days, but may now be made in less than six hours. New York was a two days’ journey from Philadelphia, but the distance may now be traversed in two hours.

[13] One pair of horses usually dragged the stage eighteen miles, when a fresh team was put on, and if no accident happened, the traveler would reach an inn about ten at night. After a frugal meal he would betake himself to bed, for at three the next morning, even if it rained or snowed, he had to make ready, by the light of a horn lantern or a farthing candle, for another ride of eighteen hours.

[14] In 1777 Vermont forbade the slavery of men and women. In 1780 Pennsylvania passed a gradual abolition act. Massachusetts by her constitution declared “All men are born free and equal,” which her courts held prohibited slavery. New Hampshire in her constitution made a similar declaration with a like result. In 1784 Connecticut and Rhode Island adopted gradual abolition laws, providing that children born of a slave parent after a certain date should be free when they reached a certain age, and that their children were never to be slaves. These were states where slaves had never been much in demand, and where the industries of the people did not depend on slave labor.

[15] The departure of a fleet of canoes from Quebec or Montreal was a fine sight. The trading canoe of bark was forty-five feet long, and carried four tons of goods. The crew of eight men, with their hats gaudy with plumes and tinsel, their brilliant handkerchiefs tied around their throats, their bright-colored shirts, flaming belts, and gayly worked moccasins, formed a picture that can not be described. When the axes, powder, shot, dry goods, and provisions were packed in the canoes, when each voyager had hung his votive offering in the chapel of his patron saint, a boatman of experience stepped into the bow and another into the stern of each canoe, the crew took places between them, and at the word the fleet glided up the St. Lawrence on its way to the Ottawa, and thence on to Sault Ste. Marie, to Grand Portage (near the northeast corner of what is now Minnesota), or to Mackinaw.



FIRST ACTS OF CONGRESS.–During Washington’s first term of office as President (1789-93), the time of Congress was largely taken up with the passage of laws necessary to put the new government in operation, and to carry out the plan of the Constitution.

[Illustration: DESK USED BY WASHINGTON WHILE PRESIDENT. In the possession of the Pennsylvania Historical Society.]

Departments of State, Treasury, and War were established; a Supreme Court was organized with a Chief Justice [1] and five associates; three Circuits (one for each of the three groups of states, Eastern, Middle, and Southern) and thirteen District Courts (one for each state) were created, and provision was made for all the machinery of justice; and twelve amendments to the Constitution were sent out to the states, of which ten were ratified by the requisite number of states and became a part of the Constitution. [2]

At the second session of Congress provision was made, in the Funding Measure, for the assumption of the Continental and state debts incurred during the war for independence. [3] The District of Columbia as the permanent seat of government was located on the banks of the Potomac, [4] and the temporary seat of government was moved from New York to Philadelphia, there to remain for ten years.

NEW STATES.–The states of North Carolina and Rhode Island, having at last ratified the Constitution, sent representatives and senators to share in the work of Congress during this session.

The quarrel between New York and Vermont having been settled, Vermont was admitted in 1791; and Virginia having given her consent, the people of Kentucky were authorized to form a state constitution, and Kentucky entered the Union in 1792. [5]

THE NATIONAL BANK AND THE CURRENCY.–The funding of the debt (proposed by Hamilton) was the first great financial measure adopted by Congress. [6] The second (1791) was the charter of the Bank of the United States with power to establish branches in the states and to issue bank notes to be used as money. The third (1792) was the law providing for a national coinage and authorizing the establishment of a United States mint for making the coin. [7] It was ordered that whoever would bring gold or silver to the mint should receive for it the same weight of coins. This was free coinage of gold and silver, and made our standard of money bimetallic, or of two metals; for a debtor could choose which kind of money he would pay.


THE REVENUE LAWS.–Other financial measures of Washington’s first term were the tariff law, which levied duties on imported goods, wares, and merchandise, the excise or whisky tax, and the law fixing rates of postage on letters. [8]

THE RISE OF PARTIES.–As to the justice and wisdom of the acts of Congress the people were divided in their opinions. Those who approved and supported the administration were called Federalists, and had for leaders Washington, John Adams, Hamilton, Robert Morris, John Jay, and Rufus King; those who opposed the administration were the Anti-Federalists, or Republicans, whose great leaders were Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Gerry, Gallatin, and Randolph.

The Republicans had opposed the funding and assumption measures, the national bank, and the excise. They complained that the national debt was too large, that the salaries of the President, Congressmen, and officials were too high, and that the taxes were too heavy; and they accused the Federalists of a fondness for monarchy and aristocracy.

Washington opened each session of Congress with a speech just as the king opened Parliament, and each branch of Congress presented an answer just as the Lords and Commons did to the king. Nobody could go to the President’s reception without a card of invitation. The judges of the Supreme Court wore gowns as did English judges. The Senate held its daily sessions in secret, and shut out reporters and the people. All this the Anti- Federalists held to be unrepublican.

[Illustration: LADY WASHINGTON’S RECEPTION. From an old print.]

THE ELECTION OF 1792.–When the time came, in 1792, to elect a successor to Washington, there were thus two political parties. Both parties supported Washington for President; but the Republicans tried hard, though in vain, to defeat Adams for Vice President.

OPPOSITION TO THE GOVERNMENT by no means ended with the formation of parties and votes at the polls. The Assembly of Virginia condemned the assumption of the state debts. North Carolina denounced assumption and the excise law. In Maryland a resolution declaring assumption dangerous to the rights of the states was lost by the casting vote of the Speaker. The right of Congress to tax pleasure carriages was tested in the Supreme Court, which declared the tax constitutional. When that court decided (1793) that a citizen of one state might sue another state, Virginia, Connecticut, and Massachusetts called for a constitutional amendment to prevent this, and the Eleventh Amendment was proposed by Congress (1794) and declared in force in 1798. The tax on whisky caused an insurrection in Pennsylvania.

THE WHISKY INSURRECTION.–The farmers around Pittsburg were largely engaged in distilling whisky, refused to pay the tax, and drove off the collectors. Congress thereupon (1794) enacted a law to enforce the collection, but when the marshal arrested some of the offenders, the people rose, drove him away, and by force of arms prevented the execution of the law. Washington then called for troops from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia, and these marching across the state by a mere show of force brought the people to obedience. Leaders of the insurrection were arrested, tried, and convicted of treason, but were pardoned by Washington. [9]

THE INDIAN WAR.–Still farther west, meantime, a great battle had been fought with the Indians. The succession of boats loaded with emigrants floating down the Ohio, and the arrivals of settlers north of the river at Marietta, Gallipolis, and Cincinnati, had greatly excited the Indians. The coming of the whites meant the destruction of game and of fur-bearing animals, and the pushing westward of the Indians. This the red men determined to resist, and did so by attacking boats and killing emigrants, and in January, 1790, they marched down on the settlement called Big Bottom (northwest of Marietta) and swept it from the face of the earth.

Washington sent fifteen hundred troops from Kentucky and Pennsylvania against the Indians in the autumn of 1790. Led by Colonel Harmar, the troops burned some Indian supplies and villages, but accomplished nothing save to enrage the Indians yet more. Washington thereupon put General St. Clair in command, and in the autumn of 1791 St. Clair set off to build a chain of forts from Cincinnati to Lake Michigan; but the Indians surprised him and cut his army to pieces.


Anthony Wayne was next placed in command, and two years were spent in careful preparation before he began his march across what is now the state of Ohio. At the Falls of the Maumee (August, 1794) he met and beat the Indians so soundly that a year later, by the treaty of Greenville, a lasting peace was made with the ten great nations of the Northwest.

NEUTRALITY.–Washington’s second term of office was a stormy time in foreign as well as in domestic affairs. In February, 1793, the French Republic declared war on Great Britain, and so brought up the question, Which side shall the United States take? Washington said neither side, and issued a proclamation of neutrality, warning the people not to commit hostile acts in favor of either Great Britain or France. The Republicans (and many who were Federalists) grew angry at this and roundly abused the President. France, they said, is an old friend; Great Britain, our old enemy. France helped win independence and loaned us money and sent us troops and ships; Great Britain attempted to enslave us. We were bound to France by a treaty of alliance and a treaty of commerce; we were bound to Great Britain by no treaty of any kind. To be neutral, then, was to be ungrateful to France. [10] As a result the Federalists were called the British party, and they, in turn, called the Republicans the French party or Democrats.

[Illustration: WASHINGTON’S COACH.]

GREAT BRITAIN SEIZES OUR SHIPS.–To preserve neutrality under such conditions would have been hard enough, but Great Britain made it harder still by seizing American merchant ships that were carrying lumber, fish, flour, and provisions to the French West Indies. [11]

Our merchants at once appealed to Congress for aid, and the Republicans attempted to retaliate on Great Britain in a way that might have brought on war. In this they failed, but Congress laid an embargo for a short time, preventing all our vessels from sailing to foreign ports; and money was voted to build fortifications at the seaports from Maine to Georgia, and for building arsenals at Springfield (Mass.) and Carlisle (Pa.), and for constructing six frigates. [12]

Washington did not wish war, and with the approval of the Senate sent Chief-Justice John Jay to London to make a treaty of friendship and commerce with Great Britain.

JAY’S TREATY, when ratified (1795), was far from what was desired. But it provided for the delivery of the posts on our northern frontier, its other provisions were the best that could be had, and it insured peace. For this reason among others the treaty gave great offense to the Republicans, who wanted the United States to quarrel with Great Britain and take sides with France. They denounced it from one end of the country to the other, burned copies of it at mass meetings, and hanged Jay in effigy. For the same reason, also, France took deep offense.

TREATY WITH SPAIN.–Our treaty with Great Britain was followed by one with Spain, by which the vexed question of the Mississippi was put at rest. Spain agreed to withdraw her troops from all her posts north of the parallel of 31 degrees. She also agreed that New Orleans should be a port of deposit. This was of great advantage to the growing West, for the farmers, thereafter, could float their bacon, flour, lumber, etc. down the Ohio and the Mississippi to New Orleans and there sell it for export to the West Indies or Europe.


THE ELECTION OF 1796.–Washington, who had twice been elected President, now declined to serve a third time, and in September, 1796, announced his determination by publishing in a newspaper what is called his _Farewell Address_. [13] There was no such thing as a national party convention in those days, or for many years to come. The Federalists, however, by common consent, selected John Adams as their candidate for President, and most of them supported Thomas Pinckney for Vice President. The Republicans put forward Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr and others. The French minister to our country used his influence to help the Republican candidates; [14] but when the election was over, it turned out that Adams [15] was chosen President and Jefferson Vice President. Pinckney, the Federalist candidate for Vice President, was defeated because he failed to receive the votes of all the Federalist electors. [16]

THE X. Y. Z. AFFAIR.–The French Directory, a body of five men that governed the French Republic, now refused to receive a minister whom Washington had just sent to that country (Charles G. Pinckney). This deliberate affront to the United States was denounced by Adams in his first message to Congress; but he sent to Paris a special commission composed of two Federalists and one Republican, [17] in an earnest effort to keep the peace. These commissioners were visited by three agents of the Directory, who told them that before a new treaty could be made they must give a present of $50,000 to each Director, apologize for Adams’s denunciation of France, and loan a large sum (practically pay tribute money) to France.

In reporting this affair to Congress the Secretary of State concealed the names of the French agents and called them Mr. X, Mr. Y, and Mr. Z. This gave the affair the name of the X. Y. Z. Mission.

PREPARATION FOR WAR WITH FRANCE (1798).–The reading of the dispatches in Congress caused a great change in feeling. The country had been insulted, and Congress, forgetting politics, made preparations for war. An army was raised and Washington made lieutenant general. The Navy Department was created and the first Secretary of the Navy appointed. Ships were built, purchased, and given to the government; and with the cry, “Millions for defense, not a cent for tribute,” the people offered their services to the President, and labored without pay in the erection of forts along the seaboard. Then was written by Joseph Hopkinson, of Philadelphia, and sung for the first time, our national song _Hail, Columbia_! [18]

THE ALIEN AND SEDITION ACTS.–In preparing for war, Congress had acted wisely. But the Federalists, whom the trouble with France had placed in control of Congress, also passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which aroused bitter opposition.

The Alien Acts were (1) a law requiring aliens, or foreigners, to live in our country fourteen years before they could be naturalized and become citizens; (2) a law giving the President power, for the next two years, to send out of the country any alien he thought to be dangerous to the peace of the United States; and (3) the Alien Enemies Act for the expulsion, in time of war, of the subjects of the hostile government.

The Sedition Act provided for the punishment of persons who acted, spoke, or wrote in a seditious manner, that is, opposed the execution of any law of the United States, or wrote, printed, or uttered anything with intent to defame the government of the United States or any of its officials.

Adams did not use the power given him by the second Alien Act; but the Sedition Act was rigorously enforced with fines and imprisonment. Such interference with the liberty of the press cost Adams much of his popularity.

THE VIRGINIA AND KENTUCKY RESOLUTIONS.–The Republicans were greatly excited by the Alien and Sedition Acts, and at the suggestion of Jefferson resolutions condemning them as unconstitutional [19] and hence “utterly void and of no force” were passed by the legislatures of Kentucky and Virginia.

[Illustration: THE ENTERPRISE.]

Seven states answered with resolutions declaring the acts constitutional. Whereupon, in the following year (1799), Kentucky declared that when a state thought a law of Congress unconstitutional, that state might veto or nullify it, that is, forbid its citizens to obey it. This doctrine of nullification, as we shall see, was later of serious importance.

THE NAVAL WAR WITH FRANCE.–Meantime, the little navy which had been so hastily prepared was sent to scour the seas around the French West Indies, and in a few months won many victories. [20] The publication of the X. Y. Z. letters created almost as much indignation in France as in our country, and forced the Directory to send word that if other commissioners came, they would be received. Adams thereupon appointed three; but when they reached France the Directory had fallen from power, Napoleon was ruling, and with him a new treaty was concluded in 1800.

[Illustration: THOMAS JEFFERSON.]

THE ELECTION OF 1800.–The cost of this war made new taxes necessary, and these, coupled with the Alien and Sedition Acts, did much to bring about the defeat of the Federalists. Their candidates for the presidency and vice presidency were John Adams and Charles C. Pinckney. The Republicans nominated Jefferson [21] and Aaron Burr, and won. Unfortunately Jefferson and Burr each received the same number of votes, so it became the duty of the House of Representatives to determine which should be President. When the House elects a President, each state, no matter how many representatives it may have, casts one vote. There were then sixteen states [22] in the Union. The votes of nine, therefore, were necessary to elect. But the Federalists held the votes of six, and as the representatives of two more were equally divided, the Federalists thought they could say who should be President, and tried hard to elect Burr. Finally some of them yielded and allowed the Republicans to make Jefferson President, thus leaving Burr to be Vice President.

PRESIDENT JEFFERSON.–The inauguration took place on March 4, 1801, at Washington, to which city the government was removed from Philadelphia in the summer of 1800. [23] Everywhere the day was celebrated with bell ringing, cannonading, dinners, and parades. The people had triumphed; “the Man of the People” was President. Monarchy, aristocracy, and Federalism, it was said, had received a deathblow.


1. The first Congress under the Constitution passed laws establishing the executive departments and the United States courts, and other laws necessary to put the new government in operation.

2. The debts incurred during the Revolution were assumed and funded, and the permanent seat of government (after 1800) was located on the Potomac.

3. Import and excise duties were laid, a national bank was chartered, and a mint was established for coining United States money.

4. In Washington’s second term as President (1793-97) there was war between Great Britain and France, and it was with difficulty that our government succeeded in remaining neutral.

5. Treaties were made with Great Britain and Spain, whereby these powers withdrew from the posts they held in our country, the right of deposit at New Orleans was secured, and peace was preserved.

6. A five years’ Indian war in the Northwest Territory was ended by Wayne’s victory (1794) and the treaty of Greenville (1795).

7. The people of western Pennsylvania resisted the excise tax on whisky, but their insurrection was easily suppressed by a force of militia.

8. Differences on questions of domestic and foreign policy had resulted in the growth of the Federalist and Republican parties, but party organization was imperfect. In 1796 Adams (Federalist) was elected President, and Jefferson (Republican) Vice President.

9. The British treaty and the election of Adams gave offense to the French government, which made insulting demands upon our commissioners sent to that country. A brief naval war in the French West Indies was ended by a treaty made by a new French government in 1800.

10. The passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts brought out protests against them in what are called the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798-99, one of which claimed the right of a state to nullify an act of Congress which it deemed unconstitutional.

11. In the next presidential election (1800) the Republicans were successful; but as Jefferson and Burr had each the same number of votes, the House of Representatives had to decide which should be President and which Vice President. After a long contest Jefferson was given the higher office, as the Republicans had wished.

[Illustration: A SILHOUETTE, A KIND OF PORTRAIT OFTEN MADE BEFORE 1840. In the possession of the Concord Antiquarian Society.]


[1] Washington appointed John Jay the first Chief Justice, and gave the newly created secretaryships of State, Treasury, and War to Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and Henry Knox respectively. These men were intended to be heads of departments; but Washington soon began to consult them and the Attorney General on matters of state and thus made them also a body of advisers known as “the Cabinet.” All the Secretaries and the Postmaster General and the Attorney General are now members of the Cabinet.

[2] These ten amendments form a sort of “bill of rights,” and were intended to remove objections to the Constitution by those who feared that the national government might encroach on the liberties of the people.

[3] For the different kinds of debt, see p. 211. The Continental money was funded at $1 in government stock for $100 in the paper money; but the other forms of debt were assumed by the government at their face value. All told,–state debts, foreign debt, loan-office certificates, etc.,– these obligations amounted to about $75,000,000. To pay so large a sum in cash was impossible, so Congress ordered interest-bearing stock to be given in exchange for evidence of debt.

[4] As first laid out, the District of Columbia was a square ten miles on a side, and was partly in Virginia and partly in Maryland. But the piece in Virginia many years later (1846) was given back to that state.

[5] After these two states were admitted each was given a star and a stripe on the national flag. Until 1818 our flag thus had fifteen stars and fifteen stripes, no further change being made as new states were admitted. In 1818 two stripes were taken off, the number of stars was made the same as the number of states, and since then each new state has been represented by a new star.

[6] Alexander Hamilton was born in 1757 on the island of Nevis, one of the British West Indies. He was sent to New York to be educated, and entered King’s College (now Columbia University). There he became an ardent patriot, wrote pamphlets in defense of the first Congress, and addressed a public meeting when but seventeen. He was captain of an artillery company in 1776, one of Washington’s aids in 1777-81, distinguished himself at Yorktown, and (in 1782) went to Congress. He was a man of energy, enthusiasm, and high ideals, was possessed of a singular genius for finance, and believed in a vigorous national government. As Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton proposed not only the funding and assumption plans, but the national bank and the mint.

[7] The coins were to be the eagle or ten-dollar piece, half eagle, and quarter eagle of gold; the dollar, half, quarter, dime, and half dime of silver; and the cent and half cent of copper. The mint was established at once at Philadelphia, and the first copper coin was struck in 1793. But coinage was a slow process, and many years passed before foreign coins ceased to circulate. The accounts of Congress were always kept in dollars and cents. But the states and the people used pounds, shillings, pence, and Spanish dollars, and it was several years before the states, by law, required their officers to levy taxes and keep accounts in dollars and cents (Virginia in 1792, Rhode Island and Massachusetts in 1795, New York and Vermont in 1797, New Jersey in 1799).

[8] A single letter in those days was one written on a single sheet of paper, large or small, and the postage on it was 6 cents for any distance under 30 miles, 8 cents from 30 to 60, 10 cents from 60 to 100, and so on to 450 miles, above which the rate was 25 cents. In all our country there were but 75 post offices, and the revenue derived from them was about $100,000 a year.

[9] Read McMaster’s _History of the People of the U. S._, Vol. II, pp. 189-204.

[10] Good feeling toward France led the Republicans to some funny extremes. To address a person as Sir, Mr., Mrs., or Miss was unrepublican. You should say, as in France, Citizen Jones, or Citizeness Smith. Tall poles with a red liberty cap on top were erected in every town where there were Republicans; civic feasts were held; and July 14 (the anniversary of the day the Bastile of Paris fell in 1789) was duly celebrated.

[11] When Great Britain drove French ships from the sea, France threw open the trade with the French West Indies to other ships. But Great Britain had laid down a rule that no neutral could have in time of war a trade with her enemy it did not have in time of peace. Our merchants fell under the ban of Great Britain for this reason.

[12] These frigates were not built. They were really intended for use against the Barbary powers (Morocco, Tunis, Algiers, Tripoli) that were plundering our Mediterranean commerce. These nations of northern Africa had long been accustomed to prey upon European ships and sell the crews into slavery. To obtain protection against such treatment the nations of southern Europe paid these pirates an annual tribute. Some of our ships and sailors were captured, and as we had no navy with which to protect our commerce, a treaty was made with Algiers (1795) which bound us to pay a yearly tribute of “twelve thousand Algerine sequins in maritime stores.” We shall see what came of this a few years later.

[13] In the Farewell Address, besides giving notice of his retirement, Washington argued at length against sectional jealousy and party spirit, and urged the promotion of institutions “for the general diffusion of knowledge.” He disapproved of large standing armies (“overgrown military establishments”), and earnestly declared that our true policy is “to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world,” especially European nations. Washington died at Mount Vernon, December 14, 1799.

[14] He called on all French citizens living in the United States to wear on their hats the French tricolor (blue, white, and red) cockade, and of course all the Republican friends of France did the same and made it their party badge. He next published in the newspapers a long letter in which he said, in substance, that unless the United States changed its policy toward France it might expect trouble. This meant that unless a Republican President (Jefferson) was elected, there might be war between the two countries.

[15] John Adams was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1735. He graduated from Harvard College, studied law, and in 1770 was one of the lawyers who defended the soldiers that were tried for murder in connection with the famous “Boston Massacre.” He was sent to the First and Second Continental Congresses, and was a member of the committee appointed to frame the Declaration of Independence, and of the committee to arrange treaties with foreign powers. He was for a time associated with Franklin in the ministry to France; in 1780 went as minister to Holland; and in 1783 was one of the signers of the treaty of peace with Great Britain. In 1785 he was appointed the first United States minister to Great Britain; and in 1789- 97 was Vice President.

[16] Adams received 71 votes, Jefferson 68, Pinckney 59, Burr 30, and nine other men also received votes. Under the original Constitution the electors did not vote separately for President and Vice President. Each cast one ballot with two names on it; the man receiving the most votes (if a majority of the number of electors) was elected President, and the man receiving the next highest number was elected Vice President. Thus it happened that while the Federalists elected the President, the Republicans elected the Vice President.

[17] The Federalists were John Marshall and Charles C. Pinckney. Elbridge Gerry was the Republican member.

[18] Read the account of the popular excitement in McMaster’s _History of the People of the U. S._, Vol. II, pp. 376-387.

[19] That is, condemning them on the ground that the Constitution did not give Congress power to make such laws. The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions are printed in full in MacDonald’s Select Documents, 1776- 1861, pp. 149-160.

[20] One squadron that captured a number of vessels was under the command of Captain John Barry. Another squadron under Captain Truxtun captured sixty French privateers. The _Constellation_ took the French frigate _Insurgente_ and beat the _Vengeance_, which escaped; the _Enterprise_ captured eight privateers and recaptured four American merchantmen; and the _Boston_ captured the _Berceau_. During the war eighty-four armed French vessels were taken by our navy.

[21] Thomas Jefferson was born on a Virginia plantation April 13, 1743, attended William and Mary College, studied law, and in 1769 became a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. He rose into notice as a defender of colonial rights, was sent to the Second Continental Congress, and in 1776 wrote the Declaration of Independence. Between 1776 and 1789 he was a member of the Virginia legislature, governor of Virginia, member of Congress (1783-1784), and minister to France (1784-1789). He was a strict constructionist of the Constitution; he wrote the original draft of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, had great faith in the ability of the people to govern themselves, and dreaded the growth of great cities and the extension of the powers of the Supreme Court. He and John Adams died the same day, July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

[22] Tennessee, the sixteenth, was admitted in 1796.

[23] A story is current that on inauguration day Jefferson rode unattended to the Capitol and tied his horse to the fence before entering the Senate Chamber and taking the oath of office. The story was invented by an English traveler and is pure fiction. The President walked to the Capitol attended by militia and the crowd of supporters who came to witness the end of the contested election, and was saluted by the guns of a company of artillery as he entered the Senate Chamber and again as he came out.



PROSPERITY.–Twelve years had now elapsed since the meeting at New York of the first Congress under the Constitution, and they had been years of great prosperity.

When Washington took the oath of office, each state regulated its trade with foreign countries and with its neighbors in its own way, and issued its own paper money, which it made legal tender. Agriculture was in a primitive stage, very little cotton was grown, mining was but little practiced, manufacture had not passed the household stage, transportation was slow and costly, and in all the states but three banks had been chartered. [1]

With the establishment of a strong and vigorous government under the new Constitution, and the passage of the much-needed laws we have mentioned, these conditions began to pass away. Now that the people had a government that could raise revenue, pay its debts, regulate trade with foreign nations and between the states, enforce its laws, and provide a uniform currency, confidence returned. Men felt safe to engage in business, and as a consequence trade and commerce revived, and money long unused was brought out and invested. Banks were incorporated and their stock quickly purchased. Manufacturing companies were organized and mills and factories started; a score of canals were planned and the building of several was begun; [2] turnpike companies were chartered; lotteries [3] were authorized to raise money for all sorts of public improvements,–schools, churches, wharves, factories, and bridges; and speculation in stock and Western land became a rage.

NEW INDUSTRIES.–It was during the decade 1790-1800 that Slater built the first mill for working cotton yarn; [4] that Eli Terry began the manufacture of clocks as a business; that sewing thread was first made in our country (at Pawtucket, R.I.); that Jacob Perkins began to make nails by machine; that the first broom was made from broom corn; that the first carpet mill and the first cotton mill were started; that Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin; and that the first steamboat went up and down the Delaware.

[Illustration: A TERRY CLOCK.]

THE COTTON GIN.–Before 1790 the products of the states south of Virginia were tar, pitch, lumber, rice, and indigo. But the destruction of the indigo plants by insects year after year suggested the cultivation of some other crop, and cotton was tried. To clean it of its seeds by hand was slow and costly, and to remove the difficulty Eli Whitney of Massachusetts, then a young man living in Georgia, invented a machine called the cotton gin. [5] Then the cultivation of cotton became most profitable, and the new industry spread rapidly in the South.

[Illustration: MODEL OF WHITNEY’S COTTON GIN. In the National Museum, Washington.]

THE STEAMBOAT.–The idea of driving boats through water by machinery moved by steam was an old one. Several men had made such experiments in our country before 1790. [6] But in that year John Fitch put a steamboat on the Delaware and during four months ran it regularly from Philadelphia to Trenton. He was ahead of his time and for lack of support was forced to give up the enterprise.

[Illustration: MODEL OF FITCH’S STEAMBOAT. In the National Museum, Washington.]

THE NEW WEST.–In the western country ten years had wrought a great change. Good times in the commercial states and the Indian war in the West had done much to keep population out of the Northwest Territory from 1790 to 1795. But from the South population had moved steadily over the mountains into the region south of the Ohio River. The new state of Kentucky (admitted in 1792) grew rapidly in population.

North Carolina, after ratifying the Constitution, again ceded her Western territory, and out of this and the narrow strip ceded by South Carolina, Congress (1790) made the “Territory of the United States south of the river Ohio.” But population came in such numbers that in 1796 the North Carolina cession was admitted as the state of Tennessee.

In the far South, after Spain accepted the boundary of 31°, Congress established the territory of Mississippi (1798), consisting of most of the southern half of the present states of Mississippi and Alabama. Four years later Georgia accepted her present boundaries, and the territory of Mississippi was then enlarged, so as to include all the Western lands ceded by South Carolina and Georgia (map, p. 242).

CLEVELAND.–Jay’s treaty, by providing for the surrender of the forts along the Great Lakes, opened that region to settlement, and in 1796 Moses Cleveland led a New England colony across New York and on the shore of Lake Erie laid out the town which now bears his name. Others followed, and by 1800 there were thirty-two settlements in the Connecticut Reserve.

DETROIT.–The chief town of the Northwest was Detroit. Wayne, who saw it in 1796, described it as a crowded mass of one- and two-story buildings separated by streets so narrow that two wagons could scarcely pass. Around the town was a stockade of high pickets with bastions and cannon at proper distances, and within the stockade “a kind of citadel.” The only entrances were through two gates defended by blockhouses at either end of a street along the river. Every night from sunset to sunrise the gates were shut, and during this time no Indian was allowed to remain in the town.

INDIANA TERRITORY.–After Wayne’s treaty with the Indians, five years brought so many people into the Northwest Territory that in 1800 the western part was cut off and made the separate territory of Indiana. [7] Not 6,000 white people then lived in all its vast area.

The census of 1800 showed that more than 5,000,000 people then dwelt in our country; of these, nearly 400,000 were in the five Western states and territories–Kentucky, Tennessee, Northwest, Indiana, Mississippi.

PUBLIC LAND ON CREDIT.–The same year (1800) in which Congress created the territory of Indiana, it changed the manner of selling the public lands. Hitherto the buyer had been obliged to pay cash. After 1800 he might buy on credit, paying one quarter annually. The effect of this was to bring settlers into the West in such numbers that the state of Ohio was admitted in 1803, and the territory of Michigan formed in 1805. [8]

[Illustration: SETTLED AREA IN 1810.]

FRANCE ACQUIRES LOUISIANA.–For yet another reason the year 1800 is a memorable one in our history. When the French Minister of Foreign Affairs heard that Spain (in 1795) had agreed that 31° north latitude should be the dividing line between us and West Florida, he became alarmed. He feared that our next step would be to acquire West Florida, and perhaps the country west of the Mississippi. To prevent this he asked Spain to give Louisiana back to France as France had given it to Spain in 1762 (see page 143); France would then occupy and hold it forever. Spain refused; but soon after Napoleon came into power the request was renewed in so tempting a form that Spain yielded, and by a secret treaty returned Louisiana to France in 1800.

[Illustration: THE UNITED STATES, 1805.]

THE MISSISSIPPI CLOSED TO OUR COMMERCE.–The treaty for a while was kept secret; but when it became known that Napoleon was about to send an army to take possession of Louisiana, a Spanish official at New Orleans took away the “right of deposit” at that city and so prevented our citizens from sending their produce out of the Mississippi River. This was a violation of the treaty with Spain, and the settlers in the valley from Pittsburg to Natchez demanded the instant seizure of New Orleans. Indeed, an attempt was made in Congress to authorize the formation of an army of fifty thousand men for this very purpose.


LOUISIANA PURCHASED, 1803.–But President Jefferson did not want war; instead, he obtained the consent of Congress to offer $2,000,000 for West Florida and New Orleans. Monroe was then sent to Paris to aid Livingston, our minister, in making the purchase, and much to their surprise Napoleon offered to sell all Louisiana. [9] After some hesitation the offer was accepted. The price was $15,000,000, of which $11,250,000 was paid to France and $3,750,000 to citizens of our country who had claims against France. [10]

THE BOUNDARIES OF LOUISIANA.–The splendid territory thus acquired had never been given definite bounds. But resting on the discoveries and explorations of Marquette, Joliet, and La Salle, Louisiana was understood to extend westward to the Rio Grande and the Rocky Mountains, and northward to the sources of the rivers that flowed into the Mississippi. Whether the purchase included West Florida was doubtful, but we claimed it, so that our claim extended eastward to the Perdido River.

THE TERRITORY OF ORLEANS.–The country having been acquired, it had to be governed. So much of it as lay west of the Mississippi and south of 33° north latitude, with the city of New Orleans and the region round about it, was made the new territory of Orleans. The rest of the purchase west of the Mississippi was called the territory of Louisiana (map, p. 242).

LOUISIANA EXPLORED.–When the Louisiana purchase was made in 1803, most of the country was an unknown land. But in 1804 an exploring party under Meriwether Lewis and William Clark [11] went up the Missouri River from St. Louis, spent the winter of 1804-5 in what is now North Dakota, crossed the Rocky Mountains in the summer of 1805, and went down the Columbia to the Pacific. After passing a winter (1805-6) near the coast, the party started eastward in the spring, recrossed the mountains, and in the autumn reached St. Louis.

ST. LOUIS was then a little frontier hamlet of maybe a thousand people of all sorts–French, Spanish, American, negro slaves, and Indians. The houses were built on a bottom or terrace at the foot of a limestone cliff and arranged along a few streets with French names. The chief occupation of the people was the fur trade, and to them the reports brought back by