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The Nation in a Nutshell by George Makepeace Towle

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X. THE WAR OF 1812






[Sidenote: Geology and Archaeology.]

The sciences of geology and archaeology, working side by side, have made
a wonderful progress in the past half a century. The one, seeking for
the history and transformations of the physical earth, and the other,
aiming to discover the antiquity, differences of race, and social and
ethnical development of man, have obtained results which we cannot
regard without amazement and more or less incredulity. The two sciences
have been faithful handmaidens the one to the other; but geology has
always led the way, and archaeology has been competed to follow in its

[Sidenote: Four Eras of Civilization.]

Though we may doubt as to the exactness of the detailed data established
by the archaeologists, there are certain broad facts which we must
accept from them as established beyond doubt. These facts are of the
highest value and interest. The antiquary has been able, from discovered
remains of extinct civilizations, to reconstruct societies and peoples,
and to trace the occupancy of countries to periods far anterior to that
of which history takes cognizance. The general fact seems to be settled
that, in prehistoric times, Europe passed through four distinct eras.
These were the Rude Stone Age, when man was the contemporary in Europe
of the extinct hairy elephant and the cave bear; the Polished Stone Age;
the Bronze Age, when bronze was used for arms and utensils; and the Iron
Age, in which iron superseded bronze in the making of useful articles.

[Sidenote: Ancient America.]

In the same way it has been established that, on our own continent, the
oldest discoverable civilization was one in which rude stone implements
were used, and man lived contemporaneously with the megatherium and the
mastodon. Then polished and worked stone implements came into use; and
after the lapse of ages, copper. The researches of our antiquaries
have rendered it probable that America is as ancient, as an inhabited
continent, as Europe. Evidences have been brought to light, leading to
the conclusion that many thousands of years before the Christian era,
America was the seat of a civilization far from rude or savage. Groping
into the remains of the far past, we find skeletons, skulls, implements
of war, and even basket-work, buried in geological strata, which have
been overlaid by repeated convulsions and changes of the physical earth.
But so few are the relics of this dim, primeval period, that we can
only conclude its antiquity, and we can infer little or nothing of its

[Sidenote: Primeval Races.]

Advancing, however, another stage in research and discovery, we come
upon clear and overwhelming proofs of the existence on this continent of
a great, enterprising, skilful, and even artistic people, spread over an
immense area, and leaving behind them the most positive testimony, not
only of their existence, but of their manners and customs, their arts,
their trade, their methods of warfare, and their religion and worship.
Compared with this people, the Red Indians found here by the Pilgrims
and the Cavaliers were modern intruders upon the land. These ancient
Americans, indeed, were far superior in all respects to the Red Indian
of our historic acquaintance. When the Red Indians replaced them, the
civilization of the continent fell from a high to a much lower plane.

[Sidenote: The Mound-Builders.]

The great race of which I speak is known as "the Mound-Builders." Like
the "Wall-Builders" of Greece and Italy, they stand out, in the light of
their remains, as distinctly as if we had historical records of them.
The Mound-Builders occupied, often in thickly settled communities, the
region about our great Northern Lakes, the valleys of the Mississippi,
the Ohio, the Missouri, and the regions watered by the affluents of
these rivers, and a wide and irregular belt along the coast of the Gulf
of Mexico. There is little or no evidence that the same race inhabited
any part of the country now occupied by the Eastern and Middle States;
but some few traces of them are found in North and South Carolina.

[Sidenote: Ancient Mounds.]

The chief relics left by this comparatively polished race are the very
numerous mounds, or artificial hills, found scattered over the country.
These are sometimes ten, and sometimes forty and fifty, feet in height,
with widely varying bases. They present many forms; they are circular
and pyramidal, square and polygonal, and in some places are manifestly
imitations of the shapes of beasts, birds, and human beings. There are
districts where hundreds of these mounds appear within a limited area.
Sometimes--as at Aztalan, in Wisconsin, and at Newark, in the Licking
Valley--a vast series of earthwork enclosures is discovered, sometimes
with embankments twelve feet high and fifty broad, within which are
variously shaped mounds, definitely formed avenues, and passages and
ponds. These enclosures amply prove, aside from the geological evidences
of their antiquity, the existence of a race very different from the
Red Indians. They were clearly a people not nomadic, but with fixed
settlements, cultivators of the soil, and skilful in the art of military

[Sidenote: Altars and Temples.]

The excavations of the wonderful mounds have brought to light many
things more curious than the mounds themselves. It seems to be
established that the mounds were used for four distinct purposes. They
were altars for sacrifice, and, like the Persians, whose sacrificial
ceremonies strikingly resembled those of the Mound-Builders, they were
sun-worshippers. They offered up the most costly gifts, and even human
victims. The pyramidal mounds, with avenues leading to the summits, were
the sites of the stately sun and moon temples. Here, undoubtedly,
imposing ceremonies were often performed. The lower or "knoll" mounds
were used as the sepulchres of the dead. They yield up to the modern
antiquary numberless skulls, of a type distinctly different from those
of the Red Indians. The Mound-Builders buried their dead, most often, in
a sitting posture, adorned with shell beads and ivory ornaments.
Sometimes the dead were burned. Finally, the mounds were employed as
points of observation.

[Sidenote: Relics of the Mounds.]

[Sidenote: Early Arts.]

That the Mound-Builders were a far more civilized race than the Indians
is clearly revealed by the relics found in and about the mounds. They
have left behind them thousands of flint arrow-heads, many of beautiful
workmanship. They used spades, rimmers, borers, celts, axes, fleshers,
scrapers, pestles, and other implements whose use cannot now be
determined, made of various stones, such as porphyry, greenstone, and
feldspar. They knew well the use of tobacco, for among their most
artistic and elaborately carved remains are pipes, some of them
representing animals and human heads. It seems to be certain that they
had even attained the art of weaving cloth fabrics; for pieces of cloth,
of a material akin to hemp, have been found in the mounds, with uniform
and regularly spun threads, and every evidence that they were woven by
some deft invention or mechanical device. It is certain that the Red
Indian was ignorant of this valuable art.

[Sidenote: Primeval Mining.]

Among the highly wrought remains of the mounds are fanciful water-jugs,
well carved and symmetrical in shape, some of which were evidently
made to keep water cool. The human heads represented on these bear no
resemblance to the Indian types. Drinking cups with carved rims and
handles, sepulchral urns with curious ornaments, kettles and other
pieces of skilful pottery, copper chisels, axes, knives, awls, spear and
arrow heads, and even bracelets, come to light, here and there. There
is no doubt that the Mound-Builders were miners. For, on the southern
shores of Lake Superior, great excavations indicate an extensive and
skilful mining of copper at a very remote period. It is singular, on
the other hand, that no iron implement has ever been discovered in the
mounds. The builders used iron-ore as a stone, but never learned the art
of moulding it into weapons or utensils.

Thus the fact that vast areas of what are now the United States were
once occupied by an active, skilful, imaginative, and progressive race,
seems fully established. Not less certain is it that in their physical
type, in their government, in their arts, habits, and daily pursuits,
they were separated by a wide gap from the Red Indians whom our
ancestors found in possession of the continent. The Indian was roving,
and hunted for subsistence. The Mound-Builders were sedentary, and
undoubtedly cultivated maize as their chief article of food.

[Sidenote: Origin of the Mound-Builders.]

But how remote the Mound-Builders were from the era of European
settlement, whence they came; how, whither, and when they
vanished,--these are questions before which science stands harassed,
impotent to answer positively. There are those who, marking certain
apparent resemblances between the implements, religious rites and
customs, and cranial formations, of the Mound-Builders, and those of
the Asiatic Mongols, conclude that the former were originally Asiatic
hordes, who, crossing Behring Straits, when, perhaps, the two continents
were united at that point, formed a new home and established a new
empire here. Others, with more proof, connect them with that great
Toltec race which occupied Central America and Mexico, before they were
driven out by the ruder and more warlike Aztecs.

[Sidenote: The Aztecs.]

The Toltecs have left ample records of their existence and gorgeous
civilization, in noble monuments and very numerous though till recently
undecipherable inscriptions; and many similarities lend weight to the
theory that the empire of the Mound-Builders, in the Ohio, Mississippi,
and Missouri valleys, was the result of a great Toltec migration from
Central America, which they left to Aztec dominion. Thus while we call
our continent the "New World," it is not improbable that we may be
living in a country which was alive with art, splendor, invention,
and power, when Europe was a dreary waste, over which the now extinct
monsters roamed unmolested by man.



[Sidenote: Historic Myths.]

We live in times when the researches of scholars are minute, pitiless,
and exhaustive, and when no hitherto received historical fact is
permitted to escape the ordeal of the most critical scrutiny. Many are
the cherished historical beliefs which have latterly been assailed
with every resource of logical argument and formidably arrayed proofs,
unearthed by tireless diligence and pursuit. Thus we are told that the
story of William Tell is a romantic myth; that Lucretia Borgia, far from
being a poisoner and murderess, was really a very estimable person; and
that the siege of Troy was a very insignificant struggle, between armies
counted, not by thousands, but by hundreds.

In the same way the old familiar question, "Who discovered America?"
which every school-boy was formerly as prompt to answer as to his age
and name, has in recent years become a perplexing problem of historical
disputation; and at least can no longer be accurately answered by the
name of the gallant and courageous Genoese who set forth across the
Atlantic in 1492.

[Sidenote: Icelandic Discoverers.]

Bancroft, on the first page of his history, pronounces the story of
the discovery of our country by the Icelandic Northmen, a narrative
"mythological in form and obscure in meaning"; and adds that "no clear
historical evidence establishes the natural probability that they
accomplished the passage." But the first volume of Bancroft was
published in 1852. Since then, the proofs of the discovery of the
continent by the Icelanders, very nearly five hundred years before
Columbus was thrilled with the delight of beholding the Bahamas, have
multiplied and grown to positive demonstration. They no longer rest upon
vague traditions; they have assumed the authority of explicit and well
attested records.

[Sidenote: Discoverers of America.]

The discovery of the New England coast by the Icelanders is the earliest
which, down to the present, can be positively asserted. But it has been
recently urged that there are some evidences of American discovery by
Europeans or Asiatics long prior to Leif Erikson. There are certain
indications that the Pacific coast was reached by Chinese adventurers in
the remote past; and it is stated that proofs exist in Brazil tending to
show that South America was discovered by Phoenicians five hundred years
before Christ. The story is said to be recorded on some brass tablets
found in northern Brazil, which give the number of the vessels and
crews, state Sidon as the port to which the voyagers belonged, and even
describe their route around the Cape of Good Hope and along the west
coast of Africa, whence the trade-winds drifted them across the

[Sidenote: Icelandic Voyagers.]

Confining ourselves to credible history, it appears that in the year 986
(eighty years before the conquest of England by William of Normandy), an
Icelandic mariner named Bjarne Herrjulson, making for Greenland in his
rude bark, was swept across the Atlantic, and finally found himself
cast upon dry land. He made haste to set sail on his return voyage, and
succeeded in getting safely back to Iceland. He told his story of the
strange land beyond the seas; and so pleased had he been with its
pleasant and fruitful aspect that he named it "Vineland."

[Sidenote: Leif Erikson.]

The story of Bjarne impressed itself upon an intelligent and adventurous
man, Leif Erikson; who, having purchased Bjarne's ship, set sail for
Vineland in the year 1000, with a crew of thirty-five men. He reached
what is now Cape Cod, and passed the winter of 1000-1 on its shores.
Returning to Iceland, his example was followed, two years later, by
another Erikson, who established a colony on the shores of Narragansett
Bay, not far from Fall River, where the founder died and was buried.

[Sidenote: Columbus in Iceland.]

It is well nigh certain that Christopher Columbus, in the year 1477,
visited Iceland, and even sailed one hundred leagues beyond it,
discovering there an unfrozen sea. The idea of western discovery was
already in his mind, and he had received hints of a western continent,
from certain carved objects picked up in the Atlantic by other
navigators. It is altogether probable that the conjectures of Columbus
were confirmed into conviction by the Icelandic traditions of Leif's
discovery, during his sojourn at Rejkjawik. From this time Columbus was
more than ever intent upon the enterprise which, fifteen years after,
conferred upon him imperishable glory.

[Sidenote: Voyage of Columbus.]

The story of Columbus is, or should be, familiar to every American who
can read. How he sailed forth from the roads of Saltez on the 3d of
August, 1492, with three vessels and a crew of one hundred and twenty
men; how the voyage was stormy and full of doubts and discouragements;
how, finally, early on the morning of October 12, Rodrigo Triana, a
seaman of the _Pinta_, first descried the land which Columbus christened
San Salvador; how they pushed on and found Cuba and Hayti; how, after
returning to Spain, Columbus made two more voyages westward,--one in
1493, when he discovered Jamaica, Hispaniola, and Porto Rico: and
another in 1498 when the Orinoco and the coast of Para rewarded his
researches; and his subsequent unhappy fate--all these events have been
related by many writers, and most vividly of all by the graphic pen of
Washington Irving.

[Sidenote: Menendez.]

The era of American discovery may be said to have continued till the
memorable fourth day of September, 1565, when the Spaniard Menendez
founded the first town on this continent, on the Florida coast, which he
called St. Augustine. In one sense, indeed, the era of discovery did not
cease down to within the memory of men still living; for the discovery
of a path across the Rocky Mountains might well be regarded as included
in it. But during the period which intervened between the return of
Columbus from his first voyage and the building of St. Augustine, the
extent and character of the eastern portion of our continent was
revealed to Europe by many and successful navigators.

[Sidenote: The Cabots.]

The story of Columbus inspired the cupidity and territorial ambition of
England, France, Spain, and Italy; and in the year 1497 John Cabot, a
Venetian by birth, but long a resident of Bristol, England, set out
thence across the Atlantic. He was accompanied by his son Sebastian.
On the 24th of June he came in sight of Newfoundland, and then of Nova
Scotia; then he sailed southward and reached Florida. As this was a year
before the third voyage of Columbus, in which he saw the coast of the
mainland, to John Cabot belongs the honor of having landed upon the
American continent before Columbus.

[Sidenote: Amerigo Vespucci.]

Voyages to the new land now followed each other in quick succession
for many years. It was in 1499 that the accomplished but unscrupulous
Amerigo Vespucci made his first voyage to Hispaniola, following it up by
voyages along the coast of South America. He returned thence to claim,
after the death of Columbus, the honors due to the great Genoese.

[Sidenote: Verrazzani.]

Portugal and France, jealous of the success of the Spanish and English
expeditions, lost no time in entering into this perilous and brilliant
competition for maritime honor and western possession. Portugal sent out
Cortereal, and France Verrazzani. The former skirted the coast for six
hundred miles, kidnapping Indians, and spending some time at Labrador,
where he came to his death. Verrazzani, in 1524, sailed for the Western
Continent in the _Dolphin_, ranged along the coast of North Carolina,
and so northward until he espied the beautiful harbor of New York, and
anchored for a brief rest in that of Newport. Verrazzani returned to
France with glowing accounts of the beauty, fertility, and noble harbors
of the country.

[Sidenote: Jacques Cartier.]

Within ten years France sent forth another expedition, under the command
of the famous Jacques Cartier, which was destined to acquire for that
nation its claim to the possession of Canada. Cartier sailed from St.
Malo to Newfoundland in twenty days. He went up the St. Lawrence, and
returned home to tell the thrilling tale of his adventures. The next
year he came back to discover the sites of Montreal and Quebec; and he
made two more voyages, in 1540 and 1542.

[Sidenote: Ponce de Leon.]

Meanwhile, Spain was resolved to sustain the great prestige she had
gained by the expeditions of Columbus, and to yield to no rival her
claims to dominion on the new continent. In 1512, Don Juan Ponce de
Leon, a brave soldier and adventurous man, who had accompanied Columbus
on his second voyage, landed on the peninsula of Florida, and
established the right of Spain to its possession. Five years after,
Fernandez landed on the coast of Yucatan; and ere long Garay explored
the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

[Sidenote: De Soto.]

It is not possible, in this survey, to follow, or even to name, the
Spanish expeditions of discovery and conquest between 1512 and 1550.
Suffice it to say that during this period subjects of the Spanish king
landed on the coast of South Carolina, entered the harbors of New York
and New England, crossed Louisiana and northern Mexico to the Pacific,
explored Mexico and Peru, marched across Georgia under the lead of the
renowned Ferdinand de Soto, penetrated to the interior, and, after many
romantic adventures and desperate hardships, discovered the magnificent
river which we call the Mississippi; made perilous excursions into the
wild depths of Arkansas and Missouri, and even to the remote banks of
the Red River.

[Sidenote: Character of the Discoverers.]

The enterprises of Spaniards, English, Portuguese, and French were alike
prompted by the greed of gain. All sought the fabled El Dorado; all
craved the power of colonial dominion. None the less were the navigators
and soldiers, whom the nations sent forth to reveal a new world to
civilization, men of courage and fortitude, able in achieving the
momentous tasks assigned to them. Columbus and Cabot, at least, thought
less of riches and fleeting honors than of the proper and noble glories
of discovery; it was left to their Spanish successors to kidnap the
Indians, to rob their settlements and murder their women, and to invade
the peaceful wilds of America, with fire and the sword.



[Sidenote: Voyages of Colonization.]

To acquire a title to the fertile and fruitful lands and fabled riches
of the newly discovered continent, became the aspiration of the great
maritime states of Europe, which had shared between them the honors of
its discovery. From the middle of the sixteenth to the beginning of the
seventeenth century, the voyages of adventure and projected colonization
were almost continuous. Spaniards, Frenchmen, and Englishmen fitted out
vessels and crossed the ocean, to make more extended researches, and to
found, if possible, permanent settlements. Although failure generally
attended these attempts at colonization, they gradually led the way to
the final occupation of the continent.

[Sidenote: The Huguenots in America.]

Of these abortive efforts, that of Admiral Coligny to found a settlement
of the Huguenots, who were persecuted in France, on the new shores, was
the earliest and one of the most romantic. As long ago as 1562, America
became a refuge of the oppressed for conscience's sake. The Huguenot
colony, taking up their residence on the River May, gave the name of
"Carolina" (from King Charles IX.) to their new domain. After many and
terrible hardships, they returned again to France, to be soon succeeded
by another colony of Huguenots, also sent out by brave old Coligny,
which settled on the same soil of Carolina.

[Sidenote: Menendez in Florida]

This aroused the jealousy and cupidity of Spain. The "most Catholic"
king was not only enraged to find the soil which he claimed as his own
by right of discovery, taken possession of by the subjects of his French
rival, but was scandalized that the new colonists should be Calvinistic
heretics. It was the very height of the gloomiest period of religious
fanaticism and persecution in Europe. Menendez was accordingly sent
out to Florida by King Philip, and assumed its governorship; and on
September 8, 1565, Saint Augustine, the oldest town in the United
States, was founded, and Philip of Spain was solemnly proclaimed
sovereign of all North America. Menendez lost no time in attacking the
Huguenot colonists of Carolina. They were speedily defeated, and most
of them were ruthlessly massacred; and our almost virgin soil was thus
early the scene of another St. Bartholomew.

Meanwhile, England was not idle in contesting with France and Spain
the supremacy of the western land. Very early in the sixteenth century
projects of colonizing America were formed in England.

[Sidenote: English Colonization.]

Numerous voyages hither were undertaken during the reign of Henry VIII.;
but the accounts which remain of them are rare and meagre. Some of them
resulted in terrible disasters of shipwreck and death. Late in the
century a courageous and determined navigator, Martin Frobisher, made
three voyages to America, but without establishing a colony, or finding
the treasures of gold and gems which he sought. Later, Sir Humphrey
Gilbert, the half-brother of Raleigh, and Barlow, made attempts to found
colonies, but in vain.

[Sidenote: Raleigh's Expedition.]

It was in the spring of 1585 that Sir Walter Raleigh fitted out his
famous expedition of seven ships, and one hundred and eight emigrants,
and sent it forth, bound for the shores of Carolina. At first it seemed
as it art English colony were really about to prosper in the new land.
They established themselves at Roanoke, and explored the country.
Hariot, one of the shrewdest of them, discovered the seductive proper-
ties of tobacco, the succulence of Indian corn, and the nutritive
quality of potatoes.

[Sidenote: Sir Francis Drake.]

The hostility of the natives, however, soon became so bitter, and their
attacks so frequent, that the colony was glad to return to England
in the visiting ships of Sir Francis Drake. Two years later Raleigh,
undismayed by the failure of his first colony, sent out another, under
John White, which settled on the Isle of Roanoke, and founded the "city
of Raleigh." It was here that, on the 18th of August, 1587, the first
child of English parents was born on American soil. Her name was
Virginia Dare, and she was the granddaughter of Governor White. The
Governor returned to England, leaving the emigrants behind; and on his
going back to Roanoke, three years afterwards, no vestige of the colony
could be discovered. It is supposed that they were all massacred by
the Indians during White's absence. The first permanent settlement in
America, was made by the French, at Port Royal, in 1605.

[Sidenote: Port Royal.]

[Sidenote: Colonies in Virginia.]

English enterprise was now at last ready to found and perpetuate states
on the new continent. In little more than a year after the French
occupation of Port Royal, a patent was granted by King James the First
to a party of colonists, under Newport and Smith, authorizing them to
form a government in Virginia, subject to the English crown. Imagine,
then, three small ships setting forth, on the bleak 19th of December,
1606, and directing their way to Virginia, with one hundred and five men
on board, and freighted with a goodly store of arms and provisions. Most
of the party were gallant and courtly cavaliers: there were but twelve
laborers and four carpenters in all the company. After a stormy voyage
they passed up the James River, and landing, on its shores, they founded

[Sidenote: Heinrich Hudson.]

The news of the colonization of Virginia, the success of the adventurous
emigrants in maintaining their settlement, and the fertility, beauty,
and salubriousness of the continent, soon inspired other enterprises of
a similar kind. The Dutch have always been famous navigators; and it was
in 1609 that gallant Heinrich Hudson, alter two previous futile attempts
to find a western passage to India, reached these shores, and sailed up
the noble river which now bears his name. Five years after, a Dutch
colony was formed on Manhattan Island, whereon the city of New York now
stands, to which was first given the name of "New Amsterdam." The colony
prospered, and in 1624 the island was purchased of the Indians for
twenty four pounds English money.

[Sidenote: The Pilgrims and Puritans.]

We now reach the fourth permanent colony on American soil; that which
was more powerful in shaping our destinies and determining our national
traits than any other. The story of the Pilgrims and Puritans is almost
too familiar to be rehearsed. Every schoolboy knows of their adventures
and trials, their hardships and their dauntless energy, their piety and
rigidity of rule, the great qualities by the exercise of which it may
be justly claimed that they made themselves the true founders of the
American Republic. Driven by persecution from their native England,
they took refuge in Holland; and from thence they sailed in two small
vessels, the _Speedwell_ and the _Mayflower_ on a July day in 1620, for
the new world. One hundred Puritans thus crossed the ocean.

[Sidenote: Settlement at Plymouth.]

After a tempestuous voyage of sixty-three days, the _Mayflower_ coasted
along Cape Cod, and landed, on the twenty-first day of December, at
Plymouth. The _Speedwell_ had been forced to put back in a disabled
condition. Before landing, the Puritans made a solemn compact of
government, purely republican in form, and to this they afterwards
religiously adhered. In 1629 another English Puritan colony, called the
"Massachusetts Bay Colony," settled at Salem; and in the following
year came Governor John Winthrop, with eight hundred emigrants. The
Massachusetts Bay Colony, thus re-enforced, and now numbering not far
from one thousand souls, settled Boston and its neighborhood.

[Sidenote: New England Colonized.]

New Hampshire began to be settled three years after the landing of the
Pilgrims at Plymouth. Maine was colonized not much later. Vermont,
having been explored by Champlain in 1609, was settled some years
after. The Rhode Island colony was founded by Roger Williams and five
companions, driven from the Boston and Plymouth colonies in succession,
in 1636; and Connecticut first became the seat of a settlement in 1635,
the colonial constitution being adopted in 1630. Next in point of time,
Delaware was settled by parties of Swedes and Finlanders in 1638, and
was called "New Sweden." The province passed into the hands of the Dutch
of New Amsterdam, however, in 1655.

[Sidenote: European possessions in America.]

Thus, in a period of a little less than half a century, the whole of the
American coast had been acquired by, and was to a large degree under
the dominion of, five European nations. In 1655 the Spaniards held the
peninsula of Florida; the French were in possession of, or at least
claimed the right to, what are now the two Carolinas; the Dutch held
Manhattan Island, New Jersey, a narrow strip running along the west bank
of the Hudson, and a portion of Long Island; the Swedes were established
(soon to be deprived of it) in what is now Delaware, and a part of
what is now Pennsylvania, along the Delaware River; while the English
possessions far exceeded those of all the others put together, including
as they did nearly the whole of Virginia, a large share of Maryland, all
of New England, and the greater part of Long Island.

[Sidenote: William Penn.]

In the year 1681 all the Dutch possessions had been added to the
dominion of the English in America; and it was in this year that William
Penn, having received a grant of a large tract of land in what is now
Pennsylvania, sent out a colony, which settled on his grant. The next
year he came in person, assumed the governorship of the colony, founded
Philadelphia, and made his famous treaties with the Indians. At the
close of the seventeenth century the English dominion comprised the
whole coast, from Canada to the Carolinas; and it may be fairly said
that when the eighteenth century opened, the era of colonization
had reached its culmination, English civilization was indelibly stamped
on, and firmly planted in, the new continent. The crystallizing process
of a new and mighty nation had begun and was in rapid progress.



[Sidenote: England's Acquirements.]

The Colonial Era, intervening between the permanent colonization of the
Atlantic coast and the momentous time when the colonies united to assert
their independence, may be said to have been comprised within a period
of a little more than a century. In 1664 England had acquired possession
of the whole colonized territory from the Kennebec to the southern
boundary of South Carolina. Georgia was still unsettled, and remained
to be colonized some sixty years after by that good and gallant General
Oglethorpe, who forbade slavery to be introduced into the province, and
prohibited the sale of rum within its limits. Florida was still held by
the Spanish, the only continental power which then had a foothold on the
Atlantic border of what is now the United States.

[Sidenote: Colonial Progress.]

The century of settlement and growth which we call the Colonial Era was
full of hardship, romance, brave struggling with great difficulties,
fortitude, and alternate misfortune and success. As we look back upon it
from this distance, however, we do not fail to be struck with the steady
and certain progress made towards a compact and enduring nationality.
Even then the same variety of race and habits and characteristics which
the United States reveal to-day were to be observed in the population
which was scattered over the narrow strip of territory extending a
thousand miles along the seaboard. There were English everywhere--
predominant then, as English traits still possess, in a yet more marked
degree, the prevailing influence. There were, however, Dutch in New York
and Pennsylvania, some Swedes still in Delaware, Danes in New Jersey,
French Huguenots in the Carolinas, Austrian Moravians, not long after,
in Georgia, and Spaniards in Florida.

[Sidenote: The New England Colonies.]

Amid such a diversity of races, of course the habits, the laws, and
the religious opinions of the colonies widely differed. But these
differences were not confined to those arising from variety of origin.
The English in New England presented a very marked contrast to the
English in New York and in Virginia. The settlements of Plymouth and
Massachusetts Bay comprised communities of zealous Calvinists, rigid
in their religious belief and ceremonies, codifying their religious
principles into political law, and adhering resolutely, through thick
and thin, to the idea expressed, by one of the early Puritans, that
"our New England was originally a plantation of religion, and not a
plantation of trade."

[Sidenote: Roger Williams.]

Roger Williams founded Rhode Island on the principle of religious
toleration; but he carried thither the sobriety and diligence and
courage of his former Puritan associations. He provided, as he himself
said, "a shelter for persons distressed for conscience." Connecticut was
also essentially a "religious plantation," which for many years accepted
the Bible as containing the only laws necessary to the colony, and
confined the right of suffrage to members of the church; and
Connecticut, as well as Massachusetts, vigorously punished offenders by
the rough, old-fashioned methods of the pillory, the stocks, and the

[Sidenote: Colonial New York and Virginia.]

No contrast could be more striking than that between colonial New
England and colonial New York and Virginia. The Puritans gathered
together in towns and villages; they lived in log or earth cottages, one
story high, with no pretensions to ornament, and but little to comfort.
The wealthier New Englanders, after a time, built two-story brick
houses; but these were still plain and substantial, and not imposing.

[Sidenote: Puritan Costumes]

The men wore short cloaks and jerkins, short, loose breeches, wide
collars with tassels, and high, narrow-crowned hats with wide brims. The
women dressed in plain-colored homespun, but bloomed forth on Sundays
with silk hoods and daintily worked caps. The proximity of Indians
required that every New England village should be a fortress, and every
citizen a soldier. Two hundred years ago, muster-days and town-meetings,
means of defence from attack and of self-government within, were as
prominent features of New England life as they are to-day.

[Sidenote: New England Industries.]

The New Englanders were mainly farmers, hunters, and fishermen. Commerce
was slow to grow up among them. Trade was the means towards supporting a
religious state; not a method for the acquirement of wealth. By and by,
however, manufactures of cotton and woollen fabrics grew up, lumber was
floated down to the coast, gunpowder and glass were made, and fish were
cured for winter use and to be sent abroad. They ate corn-meal and milk,
and pork and beans were a favorite New England dish from the first; and
they drank cider and home-brewed beer. The first coins appeared in
1652; and the oldest college on American soil, Harvard, was founded at
Cambridge in 1636.

[Sidenote: Dutch and Cavaliers.]

The Dutch, in New York, and the Cavaliers, in Virginia, set out upon
their colonial careers in a very different way. The Dutch came to
America as traders; the Cavaliers came to be landed proprietors and to
seek rapid fortunes. Instead, therefore, of clustering close in towns
and villages, both the Dutch and the Cavaliers spread out through the
country and established large and isolated estates. Wealthy Dutchmen
came hither with patents from the East India Company, took possession
of tracts sixteen miles long, settled colonies upon them, and lived in
great state on their "manors," ruling the colonies, working their lands
with slaves, and assuming the aristocratic title of "Patroon." Thus a
sort of feudal system grew up, in which the "Patroons" exercised an
authority well nigh as absolute as that of the mediaeval barons on the
Rhine; and this system long flourished side by side with the democratic
simplicity of the Puritan commonwealths.

[Sidenote: Captain John Smith.]

In the same way the Virginians scattered themselves in the fruitful and
sunny valleys between the sea and the Alleghanies, and in time created
lordly domains and plantations, over which the possessors exercised
feudal sway. But this colony, composed originally in the main of
gentlemen unused to manual labor, and indisposed to bear patiently the
hardships of early settlement, did not become established without many
and serious difficulties. The colonists at first hung tents to the
trees to shelter them from the sun; and the best of their houses "could
neither well defend wind nor rain." Captain John Smith wrote to England,
begging his friends there to "rather send thirty carpenters, husbandmen,
gardeners, fishermen, blacksmiths, and diggers-up of the roots, well
provided, than a thousand of such as we have."

[Sidenote: Tobacco in Virginia.]

The Virginians cultivated tobacco; and in the same year that the
Puritans landed on Plymouth Rock, the first cargo of African slaves was
carried up the James River in a Dutch trading ship. It is an interesting
fact that so extensive and profitable was the early cultivation of
tobacco in Virginia that it became the general medium of exchange. Debts
were paid with it; fines of so much tobacco, instead of so much money,
were imposed; a wife cost a Virginian five hundred pounds of the
narcotic weed; and even the government accepted it in discharge of

[Sidenote: Virginian Customs.]

Virginia early became divided into classes; the landlords being a
virtual nobility, the poorer colonists a middle class, and the slaves
comprising the lower social stratum. The Church of England was the
prevailing sect, and English habits of hospitality and ease of manner
replaced the Puritan austerity of the North. Yet Virginia had a severe
code of punishments; and at one time, if a man stayed away from church
three times without good reason, he was liable to the penalty of death.
The Virginians were tolerant of all faiths excepting those of the
Quakers and the Roman Catholics. Persons professing these creeds were
sternly excluded from the colony.

[Sidenote: The Indians.]

Just one hundred years before the outbreak of the Revolution, the white
population of New England had reached fifty-five thousand: while the
Indians, retreating at the approach of the European, had become reduced
to two-thirds of that number. The presence of the aborigines on the
borders of the whole line of the colonies seemed at first, destined to
become fatal to the settlement of the continent. But had it not been
for Indian hostility, the colonies might never have grown together and
merged, first into a close defensive alliance, and then into a great and
united state. It was mainly the sentiment of the common preservation
that brought about the intimate relations which gradually grew up
between Puritan, Dutchman, and Cavalier.

[Sidenote: Indian Wars.]

The Puritans treated the Indians with strict justice: Penn made friends
of the powerful tribes along the Delaware; and Roger Williams succeeded
in conciliating the Narragansetts. But a time came when the Indians saw
clearly that they were being pushed further and further back, away from
their ancient homes. Then followed the terrible wars which so long
threatened the existence of the struggling colonies, and which the
dauntless courage and hardihood of the settlers alone rendered vain.
King Philip arose, and struggled fiercely for more than a year to
exterminate the New England intruders. The Canadian French, jealous of
English supremacy on the continent, joined hands with the Indians, and
incited them constantly to fresh assaults. These French had explored the
Lakes, and the Mississippi as far as what is now New Orleans; and they
feared lest the English should deprive them of these western domains.

Wars succeeded each other with alarming rapidity. After King Philip's
War came King William's War in 1689, Queen Anne's War in 1702, King
George's War in 1744, the Canadian War (which lasted from 1755 to 1763,
and in which Quebec was taken by Wolfe, and Canada was conquered by the
English), and finally, Pontiac's bold but futile rebellion, aided by the
French, in 1763. It was these wars, and the growing need of combined
resistance to the tyrannical assumptions of the British government,
which together drew close the bonds of friendship and mutual support
between the colonies, and made them capable of striking a successful
blow for independence.



[Sidenote: The Revolution.]

[Sidenote: American Loyalty.]

The Revolution was long in brewing. The discontent of the colonies at
their treatment by the mother country was gradual in its growth. At
first it seemed rather to inspire fitful protests and expostulations,
than a desire to foster a deliberate quarrel. Even New England, settled
by Pilgrims who had no strong reason for evincing loyalty and affection
for the land whence they had been driven for opinion's sake, seemed
to have become more or less reconciled to the dominion of British
governors. There can be no doubt that the colonists, even down to within
a brief period of the Declaration of Independence, hoped to retain their
connection with Great Britain. Congress declared, even after armies had
been raised to resist the red-coats, that this was not with the design
of separation or independence. Even the mobs cried "God save the king!"
Washington said that until the moment of collision he had abhorred the
idea of separation: and Jefferson declared that, up to the 19th of
April, 1775 (the date of the battle of Lexington), "he had never heard a
whisper of a disposition to separate from Great Britain."

[Sidenote: Effect of the Stamp Act.]

The Stamp Act, and the similar acts which followed it, united the
colonies in a spirit of resistance. They inspired Patrick Henry's
eloquence in Virginia; they gave rise to the "tea-party" in Boston; they
produced the Boston massacre; they led to the burning of the _Gaspee_ in
Narragansett Bay; they finally developed, no longer rioting, but open
and flagrant rebellion at Concord, Lexington, and Bunker Hill. The
colonies did not refuse to be taxed. They recognized the right of
Great Britain to tax them. But they claimed that this right had its
condition--that the taxed people should be represented in the body which
held the taxing power. Had the colonies been permitted to send members
to the British Parliament, and to have a voice in the deliberations of
the government, the Revolution might never have taken place. But King
George and his Tory ministers were obstinate to folly. They met protest
with repression; in order to subjugate the colonies, they added tyranny
to tyranny. The warnings of Townshend and Chatham were lost upon them,
and at last the colonies, utterly despairing of a settlement with
a power so deaf and so inconsiderate, launched into the storm of

[Sidenote: Independence Hall.]

[Sidenote: Trumbull's Picture.]

Every American who pays a visit to Philadelphia should visit the plain,
old-fashioned, sombre room known as "Independence Hall." Its dinginess
is venerable; its relics are illustrious. In this hall have resounded
the voices of Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Hancock, Randolph,--the whole
circle of Revolutionary statesmen. On that table, which is pointed out
to you, the famous Declaration was signed. From the walls historic faces
gaze down upon you. Every relic has its record and its hint. In the
square below, you see the place where the Philadelphians of 1776
listened to the reading of the Declaration from the Court House steps.
No one can visit this hall without conjuring up in his fancy the
memorable scene of the first of our "Fourths of July"; and, happily, a
great painter, who knew many of the actors in it, has preserved its
features on canvas. It is not difficult, standing in Independence Hall,
and retaining Trumbull's picture in memory, to imagine very nearly the
scene it presented.

[Sidenote: Signers of the Declaration.]

There were the long rows of plain uncushioned benches, extending up and
down the sides, filled with men of all ages, some with wigs, some with
powdered hair, some with unpowdered hair, all dressed in small-clothes,
breeches, knee-buckles, long stockings, and buckled shoes; coats of
blue, gray, and snuff color; venerable men like Franklin and Stephen
Hopkins, men in the full vigor of middle life, like Samuel Adams and
Roger Sherman, young men in the ardor and flush of lusty patriotism,
like Thomas Jefferson, and Francis Hopkinson, and Robert Livingston, and
John Hancock--the younger evidently predominating, alike in numbers and
activity. The faces were solemn and grave, no doubt, though Dr. Franklin
would have his genial joke about the necessity of their all hanging
together, lest they should all hang, separately; deep silence prevailed,
followed now and then by an excited stir among the benches.

[Sidenote: President Hancock.]

[Sidenote: The Continental Army.]

Then there was the President's table, a little aside from one end of the
hall, with papers strewed over it, and by its side President Hancock,
attired with dainty and aristocratic precision, his sword by his side,
his wig perfectly dressed, his face earnest yet serene and bright. We
can fancy, too, the commotion which arose, the leaning forward, the
holding of the breath, then the dead silence, when the committee
appointed to draw the Declaration advanced to the President's table. It
was the moment of crossing the Rubicon. It was the burning of the
ships behind them. From this moment there was to be no possibility of
retreating. Independence declared, it still remained to conquer it.
British troops burdened the soil; shiploads of them were at that moment
crossing the Atlantic. The Continental army was but an armed rabble,
with patriotism for their strongest weapon. And would the colonies, one
and all, adhere, and "hang together"; or would the Declaration strike
terror to timid hearts, and destroy its purpose by its very audacity?

[Sidenote: Thomas Jefferson.]

[Sidenote: Franklin.]

All this must have passed through the mind of each deputy as the
illustrious committee of five stood before Hancock, at the President's
desk. Foremost among them was Thomas Jefferson, the tallest, youngest,
and ablest of the five; their chairman, and the author of the great
document which he held in his hand. In his thirty-fourth year, Jefferson
was then a fine specimen of the Virginian gentry, his tall form clad
loosely in the small-clothes of the period, his bright red hair,
unpowdered, gathered carelessly behind with a ribbon, his light blue
eyes clear and calm, and his lips parted in a placid and confident
smile. Next to him, side by side, stood Franklin and John Adams, sons
of Massachusetts--the one risen from the printer's case, the other a
prosperous country lawyer, descended from the good Puritan stock of John
Alden. Franklin was already beyond three score and ten; his gray hair
hung in long locks to his shoulders; his snuff-colored coat reached to
his knees; his large, pleasant face must have encouraged the others on
that fateful day, so did it shine with trust in the cause and confidence
in its success.

[Sidenote: Roger Sherman.]

Pugnacity and determination were revealed in the short thick-set figure
of John Adams; the round bald head, the firm mouth, the set eyes of the
Braintree patriot, gave the idea that he was grimly and terribly in
earnest. Square-headed old Roger Sherman was another figure well worth
studying; a man, like the others, with the air of being rather resolved
on, than resigned to, the step which was being made, and seriously
prepared to take all consequences. And, to complete the group, there was
the polished and scholarly Livingston of New York, almost a fop in dress
and toilet, a model of elegance and fine courtesy, who, though serving
as one of the committee, was absent when the Declaration was signed. The
signing did not take place for several weeks after its adoption.

[Sidenote: The Declaration proclaimed.]

[Sidenote: British exasperation.]

Jefferson read the Declaration to the Congress, and it was accepted,
with a few alterations, by the votes of the deputies of twelve of the
colonies. New York alone abstained from voting. The bell of the State
House rang out the tidings; the Declaration was read to a surging,
excited crowd in the square; it was sent off in all directions by fleet
messengers, and read at the head of each brigade of the Continental
army; and the colonies now knew that the fight was to go on to the
bitter end. Thenceforth there was no thought of patching a compromise
with the mother country, or of returning to the old allegiance to
the British crown. On the side of England, national pride and royal
obstinacy urged forward every preparation to continue the struggle; and
the voices of Chatham, Burke, and Fox were drowned amid the storm of
exasperation which the Declaration had caused. A price was set upon the
heads of Hancock and Samuel Adams, and Hessians were purchased to
fill the insufficient corps of the red-coats.

[Sidenote: Consequences of the Declaration.]

Now the colonies were the United States, with a flag common to all, the
symbol of a united nationality. Seldom has a written paper so moved the
world. In our own history, the only document that can compare with
it, in its momentous results, was the emancipation charter of Abraham
Lincoln. Both required a courage that was nothing less than heroic: but
the proclaimers of the Declaration of Independence risked life, family,
property; engaged in an irreconcilable conflict against enormous odds;
defied the greatest naval power in the world, and the richest nation, in
pursuit, not of the material gain to be derived from the abrogation of a
tax, but of national liberties which they were determined to secure at
every hazard. The Declaration, indeed, was needed to combine the action
of the patriots, and to give them a definite and certain purpose. It was
the bond that pledged them to harmony, and which confined them to the
alternative of "liberty or death."



[Sidenote: American Society.]

Despite the numerous biographies, histories, narratives, diaries, and
volumes of correspondence concerning the revolutionary epoch, which fill
many shelves of our larger libraries, it is not easy to reproduce in
imagination the state of American society as it was a hundred years ago.
In order to do so we must exclude from the mind many objects and ideas
which have been familiar to us all our lives. We must subtract all of
material improvements, of changes in the method of doing things, of new
directions and wide divergencies in the current of thought and knowledge
that have come about in the interval. We must strip the modern home, for
instance, of appliances without which it is difficult to conjure up a
picture of comfort, much less of luxury. We must forget railways, and
the telegraph, and every other use of that still mysterious agent,
electricity. We must put out of our minds all notion of great cities, of
long lines of elegant shops, blocks of noble residences, spacious parks
adorned by every refinement of the gardening art, public buildings
capped with stately dome and graceful turret and sculptured front; all
notion of the later growth of recreation, the theatre and the concert
hall, the lecture platform, the brilliant holiday festival, the sea
excursion, the gay and attractive summer resort with its big hotels and
its countless luxuries. We must return in imagination, in short, to a
social condition but few remnants of which are still to be found in
remote corners of the country; the relics of which still visible to the
eye are rare and precious, and dwindling away day by day; and the life
and spirit of which have ceased with the broadened, gift-laden
civilization which has replaced the old primitive simplicity, and made a
powerful, teeming, and restless nation out of scattered villages and
colonies struggling to exist.

[Sidenote: Old-time Mansions.]

Still, there was a very distinct advance in culture, elegance, comfort,
and luxury, beyond the condition of the colonies in the previous
century. Those who remember the stately Hancock House, on the top of
Beacon Hill in Boston, and compare its exterior and interior with still
extant edifices which were residences of the wealthier colonists of two
hundred years ago, may gather some idea of the far more lavish adornment
and elegance of the period in which Hancock lived. We may well believe
that when Washington drove through the streets of Philadelphia in a
state coach, "of which the body was in the shape of a hemisphere, cream-
colored, bordered with flowers round the panels, and ornamented with
figures representing cupids, and supporting festoons," he presented a
very different appearance from that of the early Puritan governors and
Virginian squires; and could we have peeped into the square, solid
drawing-room in which, as President, he held his receptions, aided by
the matronly grace and dignity of Mrs. Washington, the scene would be
far gayer and more imposing than William Penn's house would have
displayed, or the company of the richest Dutch "patroon" of New York
could have presented in the seventeenth century.

[Sidenote: Old Furniture.]

Yet, had we gone over the mansion, in how many things would we, used
to the minute refinements of this later age, have judged it wanting!
Instead of gas, there would be candles, and not of the best quality,
everywhere. Instead of stoves and furnaces with coal, we should have
been fain to comfort ourselves with the cheerful blaze and genial glow,
but scant and capricious warmth, of the wood logs, burning in the big
open fireplaces. Lace curtains and moquette carpets would be nowhere
apparent. The furniture, though here and there richly carved and
bountifully upholstered, would be wanting in variety and the luxurious
ease of that which we now enjoy.

[Sidenote: The Tables of 1776.]

At table we should have missed the thousand refinements and inventions
of French and native cooking which now lend variety to our sustenance.
The food would have been substantial and heavy and little various; the
English simplicity, probably, of barons of beef and shoulders of mutton,
and cold bread, and big plum puddings, with a relish of fruits. Were we
in fancy to journey from New York to Philadelphia or Boston, we should
be forced to rumble slowly over bad roads, through interminable forests
and by desert sea-coasts, in heavy and rudely jolting vehicles, and be
several days upon the trip.

[Sidenote: Travelling in the Olden Time.]

[Sidenote: The Wealthier Classes.]

It is a striking fact that people in the days of Washington travelled
not a whit more rapidly than people in the days of Moses or of Homer.
The chariot-rider of the Olympic games attained a speed which was,
perhaps, never equalled in Europe or America until the first railway-
train sped between Liverpool and Manchester, in 1830. In 1776, the
Americans were still mainly confined to the original occupations of the
early colonists, farming, trade, hunting, and fishing. Manufactories
there were not as yet; Lawrence and Lowell. Pittsburg, and the great
industrial New York towns, were still in the womb of the future. In
almost every household throughout the land the old-fashioned spinning-
wheel was humming under the pressure of matronly and maidenly feet, by
which the homespun garments of the time were made. While the less well-
to-do and laboring classes were content with clothing spun and knitted
at their own firesides, the wealthier people arrayed themselves with far
more ostentation than they do at this day. Silks and satins came hither
by ship-loads from France to supply the luxury of costume which was then
in vogue. The difference between the costumes of that day and of this
was especially marked in the attire of gentlemen. Now there is much
greater plainness and uniformity. When Washington held his levees, he
was generally dressed "in black velvet, with white or pearl-colored
waistcoat, yellow gloves, and silver knee and shoe-buckles." "His hair
was powdered and gathered in a silk bag behind. He carried a cocked hat
in his hand, and wore a long sword with a scabbard of polished white
leather." The display of dress was not less marked in other officials,
and in men of high social rank. The judges of the Supreme Court wore
scarlet robes faced with velvet. "If a gentleman went abroad, he
appeared in his wig, white stock, white satin embroidered vest, black
satin small-clothes, with white silk stockings, and a fine broadcloth or
velvet coat; if at home, a velvet cap, sometimes with a fine linen one
under it, took the place of the wig; while a gown, frequently of colored
damask lined with silk, was substituted for the coat, and the feet were
covered with leather slippers of some fancy color." All men shaved their
beards clean; a man who appeared in the streets wearing hair on any part
of his face was stared at, and very likely laughed at.

[Sidenote: Old-time Attire.]

[Sidenote: Wigs and Queues.]

All the great gentlemen wore wigs; most of the country farmers contented
themselves with tying their hair in a queue behind, sprinkling it with
powder when they went to church on a Sunday. As for the ladies, those in
the best society were even more elaborate in their toilets than those
of to-day. On the dressing of the hair, especially, much time and money
were spent. It was raised high upon the head and powdered thick; "the
hair dressers," says Higginson, "were kept so busy on the day of any
fashionable entertainment, that ladies sometimes had to employ their
services at four or five in the morning, and had to sit upright all the
rest of the day, in order to avoid disturbing the head-dress."

[Sidenote: Amusements.]

Although our ancestors did not possess the variety of amusements which
now exists, their life was far from a humdrum one. Theatres were
tabooed, but were beginning to hold their ground here and there, though
not, we may be sure, in New England. There were, however, private
theatricals and charades, which became at one period very much in vogue
in the aristocratic houses of New York and Philadelphia. Concerts were
often held, and in the country many old-time English festivals, such as
May Day, were kept up. The most frequent and fashionable amusements of
that time were balls and parties. We hear of the gentlemen and dames
going to "routs" in their sedan chairs, much as they did in the old
country: arriving at eight--they kept better hours than our modern
fashionable people--they would dance the staid and stately minuet and
the gayer contra-dance, to the music mainly of fiddles, till midnight,
and then separate, horrified at the lateness of the hour.

[Sidenote: Imitations of the English.]

Indeed, we are able to see in the habits of the American upper classes
a distinct imitation of London fashions, despite the quarrel with the
British. The whole etiquette of patrician society was based upon that
of the English court, just as the law administered in the courts was
borrowed from that dispensed at Westminster. It is interesting to note
that "gentlemen took snuff in those days almost universally: and a great
deal of expense and variety were often lavished upon a snuff-box. To
take snuff with one another was as much a matter of courtesy as the
lifting of the hat."

[Sidenote: Wine and Profanity.]

The days of prevalent cigar-smoking and tobacco-chewing had not come.
The use of wine and ardent spirits was regarded with less reprobation in
the old society than in the new; profanity, too, was indulged in much
more freely by men of standing and moral profession than now. Thus we
can recognize, in these and in many other things, a progress in morals,
and in greater refinement both of thought, manners, and language, as
well as in the material enginery of civilization.



[Sidenote: Washington as Commander-in-chief.]

George Washington had been assigned to the command-in-chief of the
colonial troops, just before the Battle of Bunker Hill. Thus, at the
very start, wisdom ruled the counsels and Providence guided the action
of our forefathers. The military abilities and lofty patriotism of
Washington could scarcely have been foreseen at the first in all their
breadth and scope; yet he was already known as a soldier of tried
courage and of prudent conduct, and as a Virginia gentleman of
conspicuous social and private virtues.

[Sidenote: Continental Generals.]

Washington assumed the chief direction of the Continental forces, under
the famous old elm which still stands, but a few steps from Harvard
College, in Old Cambridge, on the third day of July, 1775. At the same
time of his appointment, four major-generals--Artemus Ward, Israel
Putnam, Philip Schuyler, and Charles Lee--were designated. The principal
troops of the colonies were at this time gathered in an irregular cordon
around Boston. Their position was almost unchanged from that which they
had occupied before the Battle of Bunker Hill; for the British were
unable to follow up the success which they had achieved on that

[Sidenote: The Continental Forces.]

The general-in-chief, on inspecting his forces, saw how ill disciplined
and ill supplied they were. They had but little clothing, a scant supply
of arms, and still less ammunition. Washington's first task was by no
means the least difficult of those which lay before him. It was to
create an army out of a brave but heterogeneous multitude of patriots.
It was to collect arms and supplies; to keep vigilant watch on the
British in Boston; to fortify and defend the surrounding circle; and
prepare to meet and drive out the pent-up foe.

At last, after preparations extending through nearly eight months,
Boston was attacked by batteries from Dorchester Heights, and on the
17th of March, 1776, Howe evacuated the town, and the first decisive
struggle of the seven years' contest had been decided in favor of the

[Sidenote: First Campaign.]

The scene is now transferred further south. Charleston had, it is true,
already been attacked, but without favorable results to the English;
on the other hand, Arnold and Montgomery had vainly essayed to assail
British power in the Canadas. New York was the objective point of
those who had now come to be regarded as the invaders of our soil. Its
splendid harbor and its central position afforded a good standpoint. The
concentration of the troops of Howe, which had evacuated Boston, the war
ships commanded by his brother, Lord Howe, and the forces under Clinton,
which had been occupied in futile operations in the South, enabled
the British to force Washington out of New York, and to occupy it

[Sidenote: Numerical Force of the Contestants.]

The whole British force engaged in this enterprise was scarcely less
than twenty-five thousand men; the American force did not exceed twelve
thousand; and the contrast in discipline and equipment still further
increased this inequality of strength. Then came the retreat across New
Jersey, succeeded by one of the most brilliant strokes of the war. This
was the midnight and midwinter crossing of the Delaware by the American
general and his troops, the forced march upon Trenton through the snow
and cold, and the surprise and utter defeat of the Hessians at that
place on Christmas morning.

[Sidenote: Valley Forge.]

But the colonists, though waxing in strength, were not yet able to cope
in a prolonged and active campaign with the royal army. Philadelphia,
like New York, had to be given up. The terrible winter months spent at
Valley Forge formed one of the saddest and most heroic romances of the
Revolution. The army lived in huts, which, as Lafayette exclaimed, "were
no gayer than dungeons." Bread and clothing were sadly wanting. The cold
was intense, and almost unremitting. The Pilgrims during their
first winter at Plymouth were scarcely more comfortless.

[Sidenote: Bennington.]

It was early in the following year (1777) that General Burgoyne made an
offensive movement southward from Canada, by way of Lake Champlain and
Fort Ticonderoga. A portion of his troops were sent to Bennington to
capture some stores collected there by the Vermont patriots. A vigorous
defence of these stores by the intrepid Stark resulted in the repulse,
first of the British, then of the Hessian troops. The next scene in the
drama was what may be called the second decisive action of the war.
Burgoyne, with his whole force of five thousand men, encamped at
Saratoga. There he was confronted by General Horatio Gates, who engaged
him in two battles, which, however uncertain their immediate issue, were
followed by a retreat on Burgoyne's part. The Americans succeeded in
turning his flank, and hemming him in; and then came the surrender of
Burgoyne and his entire force.

[Sidenote: Surrender of Burgoyne.]

The consequences of this event were of far greater moment than the
elimination from the contest of an able British general and five
thousand well drilled British and mercenary soldiers. It silenced the
complaints which were growing loud against the inactivity of Washington.
It once more harmonized the colonial counsels, which were becoming
seriously discordant. It inspired new effort throughout the colonies.
And it decided France to make open cause with the struggling patriots.
To the masterly diplomacy of Franklin we owe it that the great European
rival of England threw the weight of her sympathy and material
assistance on our side.

[Sidenote: Charleston Taken.]

[Sidenote: Capture of Stony Point.]

From the moment of Burgoyne's surrender, the tide of the war was
fitful, but on the whole, towards American success. There were still
vicissitudes, now and then an apparent back-sliding; Charleston was
taken by Clinton; massacres by Indians took place in Pennsylvania; the
progress of the cause at times seemed grievously slow. On the other
hand, "mad" Anthony Wayne assaulted and took Stony Point, on the Hudson;
Paul Jones made vigorous havoc with the British war-ships, conquering
the _Serapis_ and carried terror to the English by approaching close to
their coast with his doughty _Bonhomme Richard_; Marion and Sumter kept
up constant hostilities with the British in South Carolina; and the
vexatious character of the war was evidently wearying the patience, and
wearing upon the determination, of the royal government.

[Sidenote: Surrender of Cornwallis.]

The final scene of the war, at least that which most obtrusively stands
forth in its panorama, was the siege and capture of Yorktown, in
Virginia, and the surrender of General Lord Cornwallis with seven
thousand troops. On this occasion the Americans had the aid of a corps
of French troops under Count Rochambeau, while the French Admiral de
Grasse guarded York River. The siege was so vigorous that in ten days
Lord Cornwallis found himself unable to hold the town. But for a
propitious rain-storm, he might yet have saved his army, and thus
protracted the war. His attempt to leave Yorktown under cover of night
was, however, frustrated by the outburst of a tempest; and he was forced
to send word to Washington that he would surrender.

[Sidenote: Peace.]

This he did, with all the customary formalities of war, on the 19th of
October, 1781. By this act seven thousand British troops, the largest
force left on American soil, were withdrawn from the conflict. It was
the death-blow to British hopes. The war dragged on, however, for two
years more. The royalist troops held New York, Charleston, and Savannah,
but did not venture upon aggressive projects. At last, a treaty was made
at Paris, on the 3d of September, 1783, by the conditions of which Great
Britain grudgingly acknowledged the independence of the United States of

[Sidenote: The Revolutionary Heroes.]

There would be no justice in presenting even an outline of the American
Revolution, without referring to its triumphs of statesmanship and
diplomacy, as well as its triumphs of military achievement. Washington,
Greene, Stark, Putnam, Wayne, Lafayette, De Kalb, Steuben, Schuyler, and
their fellow-soldiers, performed a great part, and that which was the
most brilliant and conspicuous, in accomplishing our liberties. But in
the Congress were patriots quite as devoted, and not less efficient;
while Franklin, during his sojourn abroad, exercised with great skill
the delicate and subtle generalship of diplomacy. It would have been
easy for the statesmen of the Revolution to render all of Washington's
efforts vain and futile. The triumph of unworthy ambitions in the
colonial counsels might well have brought wreck and ruin upon the cause.

[Sidenote: Revolutionary Statesmanship.]

Had the revolutionary statesmen lacked capacity or courage, they would
have loaded the army with a burden which it probably could not have
supported. The marvel of the period was the almost undisturbed unity,
readiness, and practical energy of every branch of the public service;
the devotion of each one in his own sphere to the common end; the
general co-operation in the means by which that end was to be reached;
the remarkable rarity of treason, even of self-seeking; the steadfast
exercise, amid the comfortlessness of camps and the temptations of the
council-hall of the highest and worthiest public virtues.



[Sidenote: The Confederation.]

[Sidenote: Bond of the States.]

The Confederation was designed as a temporary civil machine, with which
to conduct a war common to the colonies. The Constitution was the later
and permanent bond, combining the States under a single government.
Without the confederation, there would have been chaos in the
revolution; without the constitution, there would have remained the
weakness arising from the division and rivalry of States. It is most
interesting to observe the gradual manner in which our civil government
crystallized out of the original elements offered by the colonies;
and it is wonderful to see with what wise deliberation and patriotic
earnestness States differing so widely in manners, in religion, in
colonial system, and even in blood and race, were brought together in
harmonious coalition, bound with a bond which the greatest civil war of
modern times failed to sever, and which it seems only to have confirmed
and strengthened.

[Sidenote: Early Confederations.]

There were, indeed, local confederations before those which, in 1774,
enabled a congress to meet at Philadelphia, and which, in 1777,
established articles for a more regular, though still a temporary, civil
enginery with which to bring the war to a successful conclusion. More
than a century before the first meeting of the Continental Congress, the
idea of a confederation had been agitated among the New England
colonies. In 1643 a confederation of those colonies was agreed upon at
Boston, with twelve organic articles, for the common protection and
defence. Here was the very beginning of American unions; and in its
features may be discovered traces of the democratic principles of the

[Sidenote: Declaration of Rights.]

A general congress of all the colonies met at New York in 1690,
for purposes of conference, when the Stamp Act was promulgated.
Massachusetts invited the colonies to meet in a general congress, which
assembled at New York in 1765, adopted a declaration of rights, asserted
the sole right of taxation to rest in the colonies, and passed other
important resolutions. Eleven years before this, commissioners from
nearly all of the colonies had met at Albany, and before this body
Benjamin Franklin submitted his famous "project of union." Other
conferences and congresses were held between 1765 and 1774; but it was
early in September of the latter year that the first formal Continental
Congress met, at Philadelphia, mainly to concert measures for resisting
the arbitrary acts of the mother country. The rules which guided its
deliberations were few and simple; but even so early we find Patrick
Henry arguing upon the great question of the rights of the States, which
has been a bone of contention in this country from that time to this.

[Sidenote: Articles of Confederation Adopted. ]

The first formal articles of confederation, after several ineffectual
attempts, were adopted on the 15th of November, 1777, when the States
were in the midst of the war of independence; but they were not formally
ratified by all of the colonies until 1781, when Maryland at last agreed
to them. These articles contained the germs of nationality, the crude
material out of which the much broader and wiser constitution was
afterwards framed. The second article provided for the complete
"sovereignty, independence, and freedom," of the several States, in all
powers not expressly delegated to Congress.

[Sidenote: Restrictions on the States. ]

It was declared that the confederation was a mutual league for
protection and defence; that each State should deliver fugitives from
justice to the others, and accord full faith to the judicial records
of the others; that each State should have the right to recall its
delegates, and that no State should be represented in Congress by less
than two nor more than seven delegates; that no State should send
embassies to foreign powers, confer titles of nobility, lay imports
inconsistent with treaties of the United States, keep vessels of war
or military forces in time of peace without the consent of Congress, a
certain quota of militia excepted, or engage in war except in certain
specified exigencies.

These, with many minor regulations, were the organic rules under
which our civil government was carried on from 1777 to 1788, when the
constitution came into force. The confederation was supplied with an
executive chosen by Congress, comprising secretaries of foreign affairs,
war, and finance. It was evident, however, that this league, while it
had well served a temporary purpose, was quite inadequate to the
purpose of a permanent bond of union. "We are one nation to-day," said
Washington, "and thirteen to-morrow; who will treat with us on these

[Sidenote: Steps towards a Constitution.]

The first formal step towards establishing a constitution was the
meeting, in the autumn of 1786, of commissioners from Virginia,
Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, at Annapolis. They
conferred together, and reported to Congress a recommendation that a
body, comprising delegates from all the States, and empowered to frame
an organic instrument, should be convened early in the following year.
Congress adopted the scheme, and the constituent convention was called.

[Sidenote: The Constituent Convention.]

This famous assembly met at Philadelphia in May, 1787, and its
deliberations continued until the middle of September. Among its
members were many of the most eminent statesmen and soldiers of the
Revolutionary period.

[Sidenote: Members of the Convention.]

George Washington, pre-eminent in war, and to be still pre-eminent in
times of peace, presided over the convention, and was one of the guiding
spirits of its labors. Of the thirty-eight delegates who signed the
constitution, six--Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Morris,
James Wilson, and George Clymer--had previously signed the Declaration
of Independence. It was in the constitutional convention that Alexander
Hamilton's genius for statesmanship became conspicuous to the whole
nation; while Madison, the future President, achieved therein a large

[Sidenote: The Non-signers.]

Among others, the two Pinckneys from South Carolina, John Dickinson,
Jonathan Dayton, Rufus King, Gouverneur Morris, Jared Ingersoll, and
John Rutledge, were eminent in various spheres of public life. Some of
the members of the convention refused to, or for some reason did not,
sign the constitution after it was completed and drafted. These were
Elbridge Gerry and Caleb Strong of Massachusetts, Oliver Ellsworth of
Connecticut, John Lansing and Robert Yates of New York, William C.
Houston of New Jersey, Luther Martin and John Francis Mercer of
Maryland, George Mason, James McClung, Edmund Randolph, and George Wythe
of Virginia, William R. Davis of North Carolina, William Houston and
William Pierce of Georgia.

[Sidenote: Issues in the Convention.]

The discussions on the proposed constitution were long, earnest,
sometimes heated, and revealed the presence of widely divergent
opinions. Four plans, or projects, were submitted severally by Edmund
Randolph, William Paterson, Charles Pinckney, and Alexander Hamilton,
differing widely in the political systems recommended. Throughout, the
struggle was between those who desired to preserve a large degree of
independence to the States, and those who wished to make a strong
national government; and the crisis of the struggle came upon the
question whether the States should have equal votes in the Senate, or
should be represented in that body, as in the House of Representatives,
according to population.

This was warmly debated for several days, the venerable Roger Sherman
and Hamilton sustaining the principle of State equality, and Madison
and Rufus King as vigorously opposing it. At last the former party
prevailed, after a report in favor of State equality in the Senate said
to have been moved in committee by Dr. Franklin. Other phases of the
same contention occurred in the discussion of the article specially
defining the powers of Congress. It was the object of the "States'
rights" party to limit these as much as possible, and of the nationalist
party to give them a broad range.

[Sidenote: The Constitution a Compromise.]

[Sidenote: Powers of Congress.]

Thus, after labors extending through nearly four months, the
constitution issued from the hands of its framers with the marks of
compromise and concession on almost every section. On the one hand, the
States were to vote as equals in the second and upper branch of
Congress, and reserved to themselves local self-government and all
powers not expressly set forth in the instrument. On the other, Congress
was clothed with authority to lay uniform taxes and imposts, to provide
for the common defence, to borrow money on the credit of the nation, to
regulate foreign commerce, to make naturalization and bankruptcy laws,
to coin money, to establish post-offices and roads, to declare war and
raise armies and a navy, to constitute courts, to organize and call out
the militia, and to "execute the laws of the Union, suppress
insurrection, and repel invasions."

Animated, too, by the true republican spirit, the framers of the
constitution inserted in it that no bill of attainder or _ex-post-facto_
law should be passed; that the writ of _habeas corpus_ should only be
suspended in cases of extreme necessity; and that no title of nobility
should either be granted by the government or accepted by a citizen of
the United States.

[Sidenote: Ratification of the Constitution.]

As soon as the constitution was promulgated, a warm contest arose in all
the States over its ratification. The instrument, upon being ratified by
nine States, was to become the organic law of the land. Although it was
strenuously opposed by many eminent men, among them Patrick Henry, a
sufficient number of States assented in time to bring the constitution
into operation the year after its submission to the people.

[Sidenote: "The Federalist."]

Although neither Hamilton nor Madison was entirely satisfied with the
work of the convention, both sank their scruples in a loftier spirit of
patriotism; and their defence of the constitution, in conjunction with
John Jay in the _Federalist_, is likely to be read as long as the
constitution lasts. How wisely the framers labored, and the great fruits
of their labor, are far more clearly to be seen now that the great
instrument has been so long and so severely tried, than was possible in
their own generation. The constitution has stood well the strain of a
progress far more rapid, and needs far more vast and pressing, than they
could have foreseen. It protects the liberties of a nation many fold
more extended and numerous than they could have anticipated would
exist within the brief space of a century; nor does the promise of its
endurance yet grow feeble.



"To have framed a constitution was showing only, without realizing, the
general happiness. This great work remained to be done; and America,
steadfast in her preference, with one will summoned her beloved
Washington, unpractised as he was in the duties of civil administration,
to execute this last act in the completion of the national felicity."
Thus spoke Gen. Henry Lee, the funeral orator of Washington, and the
father of a later and more famous Lee, who fought to destroy the
national felicity of which his father spoke.

[Sidenote: Test of the Constitution.]

The test of the constitution had come; and it was indeed an experiment
well calculated to arouse the liveliest anxieties of the infant nation.
The passions of party ran yet more high in those days than in our
own. Views the most antagonistic existed already, regarding the
interrelation, as well as the probable success, of the organic
instrument. But upon one point: all factions, however opposed, were
agreed. The only possible first President of the United States was
George Washington.

[Sidenote: Election of Washington as President.]

The new nation proceeded, in the autumn of 1788, to the choice of an
executive. There being no contest as to the chief office, the struggle
turned on the Vice-Presidency; but even in this case one candidate was
conspicuous far above the others. If Virginia had the President it
was right that Massachusetts should have the Vice-President; and as
Washington was the pre-eminent Virginian, so John Adams was, beyond all
dispute, the foremost New Englander. Ten States voted in the election,
casting sixty-nine electoral ballots. Washington received the whole
sixty-nine; and our government began with the happy augury of an
unanimous choice for its head. For Vice-President, John Adams received
thirty-four votes; John Jay nine; R.H. Harrison six; John Rutledge six;
John Hancock four; and George Clinton three.

[Sidenote: Washington takes the Oath of Office.]

It was on the last day of April, 1789, that President Washington took
the oath of office at New York, and in person delivered his inaugural
address in the presence of the two branches of Congress. This masterly
paper expressed the reluctance with which Washington had abandoned a
retreat which he had chosen "as the asylum of my declining years"; his
willingness to yield the prospect of repose to the call of country and
duty; his faith in the constitution and in the future of the nation; and
his devout reliance, in the burden he was taking upon himself, on "the
benign Parent of the human race."

[Sidenote: The First Cabinet.]

A very able cabinet surrounded and strengthened the hands of our
first President. Thomas Jefferson, who had written the Declaration of
Independence, had been Governor of Virginia, and was the successor of
Franklin at the Court of France, was made Secretary of State. At the
head of the Treasury--then, as now, the most important branch of the
executive--was placed the still young but conspicuously able Alexander
Hamilton; the most forcible of revolutionary pamphleteers, the most
efficient of staff-officers, and already an authority on finance.
Major-General Henry Knox, the chief of the continental artillery
service, who had presided over the war department during the
confederation, became Secretary of War. Samuel Osgood of Massachusetts,
experienced in civil affairs and a. judicious counsellor, was assigned
to the General Post-Office; and Edmund Randolph, who had recanted his
hostility to the constitution, and was now a close ally of Jefferson,
was appointed the first Attorney-General of the United States.

[Sidenote: Washington's Difficulties.]

[Sidenote: Antagonism of Parties.]

Many difficulties surrounded the first President and his advisers at the
outset. The nation was deeply in debt, and its currency was a paper one.
The people, oppressed for so many years by the burdens of an unequal
war, were irritated by the necessarily heavy taxes. The Indians on the
borders of the settled States were troublesome. And, to add to the
embarrassments of our statesmen, the relations of the United States
with the European powers were strained, and at times alarming. The two
parties which had struggled to fashion the constitution continued to
agitate the country in a more bitter rivalry than has been seen since,
with the exception of the party excitement of the period just before the
Rebellion. Their antagonism became more pronounced during Washington's
presidency, by reason of the great European war then going on, which
divided the sympathies of our people and politicians between France and

[Sidenote: The Republicans.]

On the one hand, the party which called itself "Republican," and at the
head of which were Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, James Madison,
Edmund Randolph, and Patrick Henry, were zealous friends of the French
Revolution. They regarded that great convulsion as a desperate attempt
on the part of our recent allies to found a republic like that of the
United States; and they were in favor of extending the French our aid
and sympathy, while the more eager went so far as to advocate our active
participation in the war on behalf of France. On the other hand, the
"Federalists," chief among whom were Washington, John Adams, Hamilton,
and Jay, deplored the excesses of the French Revolutionists; thought
their example rather to be avoided than emulated; and, with a still
lingering affection for England despite her tyrannies, leaned to her
side in the conflict which was so fiercely raging.

[Sidenote: State Rights and a Central Government.]

The cabinet itself was divided between these two parties. Jefferson, the
"Republican" leader, was Secretary of State; Hamilton, the "Federalist"
leader, was at the head of the Treasury. On other than foreign
subjects the antagonism of the two parties was distinctly defined. The
Republicans were the stout defenders of what they called the rights of
the States. The Federalists wished to make the central government as
strong as possible. The Republicans favored strict economy, a democratic
simplicity of manners and costumes, and opposed official ceremony and
formality. The Federalists were the aristocratic party, elegant and
patrician in their tastes, sticklers for etiquette and state. Hamilton
and Washington were freely charged by the Republicans with being
monarchists at heart.

[Sidenote: Washington's State.]

Political capital was made of the President's ostentatious style of
living, of his cream-colored coach and six, and liveried lackeys, his
velvet and gold apparel, his almost royal levees, and his well known
desire that the title of "High Mightiness" should be conferred upon him.
He was accused of imitating the state of the monarchs of the old world,
and of wishing to gather a brilliant, ceremonious, and exclusive court
about him. Thus before he had completed his two terms of office,
Washington found himself confronted and opposed by a powerful democratic
party. John Adams, his successor in policy as well as in office, was
chosen President by only one majority in the electoral college; and when
his term expired, the Republicans succeeded in placing Jefferson in the
executive chair, and in holding power for a quarter of a century.

[Sidenote: Washington's Policy.]

Washington's administration, however, proved his capacity for
statesmanship as well as for war, his wisdom and force of character, and
his pure and lofty devotion to the interests of the whole country. His
policy was at once vigorous and moderate. At first he preserved an
almost impartial bearing towards the two parties, as indicated by his
selection of their several chiefs for the highest seats in his cabinet.
Towards the close of his term, however, the government became more
distinctly Federalist. Hamilton's influence became paramount; and
Jefferson retired from office to put himself at the head of a very
earnest and aggressive opposition.

[Sidenote: Relations with Foreign Powers.]

The results of Washington's policy may be recognized, at this distance
of time, as having been in the highest degree beneficial to the welfare
of the young nation. He placed its finances on a sound basis. He
maintained order, and put a term to the aggressions of the Indians. He
compelled Algiers to prevent her pirates from preying upon our commerce.
He made friendly treaties with England and Spain. With the French
question he dealt in a manner most creditable to his wisdom, and in the
only manner by which the United States could escape being involved once
more in war. He issued a proclamation of absolute neutrality; and he
saw that it was adhered to in the spirit and in the letter. Towards the
close of his presidency, the arbitrary conduct of France towards this
country was such that a conflict became imminent. Even an invasion by
the French was threatened. This danger continued into the period of John
Adams' term; but the firm and vigorous policy of Washington and his
successor averted it, while the European, wars in which Napoleon soon
became involved diverted the attention of France elsewhere.

[Sidenote: States Added to the Union.]

[Sidenote: General Results of Washington's Administration.]

Three States were added to the Union of thirteen during Washington's
tenure of office. Vermont came within the circle in 1791; Kentucky
followed in the next year; and her neighbor, Tennessee, became a state
in 1796. What a contrast in national expenditure there was between
Washington's administration and those of modern times may be judged
when it is stated that the average annual expense of the government in
Washington's time was something less than two millions of dollars. The
population, according to the first census taken in 1790 was a little
less than four millions. Now we number more than fifty millions. It may
be said, generally, of Washington's presidency, that it gave the new
government a good start on its career of growth, order, and prosperity.
By his statesmanship, which was pure, solid, and vigorous, rather than
brilliant, peace was preserved at home and abroad; and the result was
that that general happiness which Henry Lee spoke of as promised only by
the constitution had already at least begun to be realized.


THE WAR OF 1812.

[Sidenote: The Period of Political Settlement.]

The period between the inauguration of Washington and the declaration
of war against Great Britain in 1812 may be regarded as the era of
formation and political settlement in the history of the republic.
It must not be forgotten that, at first, many of the wisest American
statesmen looked upon Republicanism as an experiment, and did not
place implicit faith in its success. The accession of Jefferson to the
presidency, however, and the events of his administration, gave the
Republican idea full scope and trial. The most philosophical and
studious of the statesmen of that day, Jefferson had the courage to
test the theories for which he had contended against the Federalism of
Washington, Adams, and Hamilton, by a vigorous practical policy.

[Sidenote: Jefferson's Ideas.]

Jefferson was heartily supported in this by the great mass of the
nation; and it was he who, thus sustained, established those general
principles of policy and government which became final, and have
prevailed ever since. That suffrage is a right and not a privilege,
that we should make large annexations of territory, and become the
controlling power of the continent; and that a rigid economy should
be practised, leaving the States the largest scope of local
self-government: these were cardinal articles in the Jeffersonian creed.
For twenty-four years Jefferson himself, and Madison and Monroe, his
fellow-Virginians and his earnest political disciples, presided without
interruption over the destinies of the country.

[Sidenote: Condition of the Union in 1812.]

The condition of the United States in the year 1812 presented a striking
and most favorable contrast to that which they had exhibited at
Washington's accession. The population had increased from four to about
seven and a half millions. The sixteen States over which Washington
presided had swelled to eighteen. Ohio and Louisiana had been admitted
to the circle. But this was by no means the limit to territorial
acquisition. It was President Jefferson who added to the domain of the
Union that vast and fertile tract which is even now in rapid process of
settlement, and which was known as the Louisiana purchase. This tract
reached from the banks of the Mississippi to the base of the Rocky
Mountains. It embraced nearly a million square miles, or more than the
whole of the area of the Union as it then was; and fifteen millions of
dollars were paid to France in exchange for it. A great invention had
been put into practical operation during Jefferson's term. This was the
steamboat. Robert Fulton put the _Clermont_ upon the Hudson in 1807; and
thenceforth navigation by steam was to play a great part in the commerce
and economical progress of the land.

[Sidenote: Inventions.]

[Sidenote: Causes of the War.]

President Madison, who assumed the executive chair in 1809, inherited a
quarrel with Great Britain from his predecessor, which soon ripened into
war. The great contest which raged between France and Great Britain
early in the century could not but affect the rest of the civilized
world. American commerce had already grown into importance, and was now
seriously crippled by the arbitrary course respecting trade adopted by
both of the belligerents. Each power forbade neutral nations to trade
with its foe. But while Napoleon followed the example of Pitt in making
a decree to this effect, the bearing of Great Britain towards this
country, in respect to the prohibition of trade, was far more arrogant
and vexatious than that of France. American ships were captured on
the high seas by British men-of-war, carried into port, adjudged, and

[Sidenote: The Right of Search.]

A still more serious assault upon our national honor was made by the
British government. It claimed the right to search American vessels for
British seamen, and proceeded to execute it. Thus sailors were taken
from our ships by the hundred; and, on one occasion, an American ship,
the _Chesapeake_, was fired upon and forcibly boarded by a British man-
of-war, within sight of the Virginia coast. For a while retaliation was
attempted in the shape of an embargo upon American vessels; but this was
soon found to tend to the utter extitinction of our commerce, and the
embargo was abandoned. Remonstrance with Great Britain proved to be of
no avail. The English ministry at that time was a strict Tory one, and
far from friendly in disposition toward the United States. Despite the
protests of our envoy, the practice of search was vigorously pursued.

[Sidenote: War Declared.]

This was the state of affairs when James Madison became President.
The party represented by him was now clamorous for war, while the old
Federalists, especially those of New England, as earnestly deprecated
it. At last it became apparent that war was the only remedy for the
outrages committed almost without cessation on our commerce. The
President sent a message to Congress expressing this opinion; and on
the 18th of June, 1812, war was formally declared against Great Britain.
This was evidently in accordance with the will of the nation: but we
did not enter upon the conflict without the bitter opposition of the
Federalists. A convention of the leading members of that party met at
Hartford, held secret sessions, and issued an energetic protest against
the war. This aroused a deep sense of hostility in the breasts of the
war party; and, ever since, the Hartford Convention has been regarded
as at least an injudicious demonstration at a period when war already
existed, and when the government needed the support of every patriot to
bring it to a successful end.

[Sidenote: Beginning of Hostilities.]

[Sidenote: Naval Victories.]

The Americans began hostilities by making an ineffectual attempt to
conquer Canada. Meanwhile the English promptly took up the challenge,
sent ships of war loaded with excellent soldiers, many of them veterans
of the Napoleonic wars, across the Atlantic, and engaged Tecumseh,
and other Indian chiefs inimical to the intruders upon their former
hunting-grounds, to aid them in the contest. While Tecumseh, however,
was defeated and killed, the successes of the American army were few
compared with the brilliant exploits of our naval forces. The War of
1812 proved that the Americans had studied well the British example and
system in naval warfare. It was emphatically a naval war, simply because
Great Britain could only approach us from the sea. The victories of Hull
and Perry showed the greatest maritime power on earth that, though our
navy might be inferior to hers in distant waters, it was more than a
match for hers on the Lakes and the American coast. If the _Shannon_
captured the _Chesapeake_, and if gallant David Porter had at last
to desert the burning _Essex_, on the other hand the capture of the
_Guerriere_ and the surrender of the British squadron on Lake Erie to
Perry, more than compensated for our disasters.

[Sidenote: The British take Washington.]

It was the the last year of the war, which continued nearly three years,
that the British landed on our southern coast, and, making havoc of
villages and plantations as they went, took Washington, and burned the
Capitol and the President's house, from which Mr. Madison and his family
had happily escaped into Virginia. But the enemy found it impossible to
pursue their temporary success to a decisive issue. Both countries were
weary of the war, and overtures of peace having been made, four American
commissioners--John Quincy Adams, James A. Bayard, Henry Clay, and
Jonathan Russell--were sent to Ghent, in Belgium, to meet British
commissioners and conclude a treaty. The treaty of Ghent was signed on
the 24th of December, 1814; and, singularly enough, while such subjects
as the boundary line and the fisheries were discussed, that treaty
contained no stipulation in regard to the British claim to the right of

[Sidenote: Battle of New Orleans.]

In those days, when there were neither railways, steamships, nor
telegraphs, news was long in travelling from one continent to the other.
The tidings of the treaty did not reach New Orleans in time to prevent
General Andrew Jackson from winning glory by defending that city from
behind his cotton-bales. This was one of the most brilliant land-battles
of the war, and was fought on the 8th of January, just a fortnight after
peace had been formally concluded at Ghent.

[Sidenote: Results of the War.]

The War of 1812, while it left many questions unsettled between the
mother and the daughter country, practically put an end to the vexatious
disturbance of our commerce by Great Britain. It also tended to give a
longer lease of political power to what was then called the Republican
party, and prepared the way for the "era of good feeling," over which
the amiable though not conspicuously able President Monroe presided. The
war also brought certain men prominently before the public eye. Hull,
Bainbridge, Porter, Decatur, Rodgers, and Perry, were enshrined among
the country's naval heroes. General Harrison, the hero of Tippecanoe,
and General Jackson, the hero of New Orleans, later reaped the reward
of the Presidency, the indirect result of their military exploits. The
gallant Richard M. Johnson afterwards became Vice-President; and it was
in the War of 1812 that General Winfield Scott won his first laurels,
and that General Zachary Taylor, long afterwards President, gave promise
of the military genius which later so much aided in bringing the Mexican
War to a speedy and victorious end.

[Sidenote: Growth of the Union.]

The period of the war and of the years immediately succeeding witnessed
a very rapid growth of population, and a notable swelling of the tide of
emigration westward. In 1816 Indiana came within the circle of States;
followed alternately by slave and free states--Mississippi, 1817;
Illinois, 1818; Alabama, 1819; Maine, 1820. and Missouri, 1821. The
great highway built between Cumberland and Wheeling was all alive in
those days with the wagons and groups of new settlers. A long era of
peace was to follow, and to give the country opportunity to increase, to
develop its resources, and to make rapid progress in its prosperity and
the development of its institutions.



[Sidenote: An Era of Peace.]

[Sidenote: Andrew Jackson.]

An interval of over thirty years elapsed between our second war with
Great Britain and the war with Mexico. Although this period was one of
external, and, excepting the troubles which now and then arose with the
Indians, of internal peace, its social and political aspects are very
full of interest. Within its limits the first railway and the first
telegraph-lines were laid in the United States, and the great Erie Canal
was built. After three tranquil presidential terms, presided over by the
sensible though not brilliant Monroe, and by the shrewd, scholarly, and
positive younger Adams, a man succeeded to the Executive Chair whose
course was destined to revolutionize parties, to carry party bitterness
to a height of great violence, and to divert the political destinies of
the country into new channels. Andrew Jackson was well fitted by his
strong will and stubborn courage to do the dangerous work of his time.

[Sidenote: Nullification.]

Various considerations induced the State of South Carolina to defy the
Union. The alleged ground of her quarrel was the high rates of the
tariff imposed by Congress upon imports. This tariff she resolved to

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