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Title: A History of the United States

Author: Charles Kendall Adams

William P. Trent

Release date: August 10, 2016 [eBook #52766]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Larry Harrison, Cindy Beyer and the online
distributed Proofreaders Canada team at with images provided by The
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Boston and Chicago

12mo, half leather, numerous maps, plans, and illustrations
ANCIENT HISTORY.  By Willis M. West of the University of Minnesota.
MODERN HISTORY.  By Willis M. West.
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.  By Charles M. Andrews of Bryn Mawr College.
HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES.  By Charles K. Adams, and William P. Trent of Columbia University.
THE ANCIENT WORLD.  By Willis M. West.
Also in two volumes: Part I: Greece and the East.  Part II: Rome and the West.

COPYRIGHT, 1903 AND 1909,




Norwood Press

J. S. Cushing & Co.—Berwick & Smith Co.

Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.


The lamented death of President Adams entails on me the duty of writing the preface to our joint work,—a duty which, had he lived, would naturally have fallen to him, since to his initiative and energy the volume owes its existence. Fortunately, the entire manuscript had the benefit of his wisdom and experience as teacher and investigator, and the proofs of about half the book passed under his watchful supervision.

Five years ago, in a letter to me proposing the book, Dr. Adams gave, among his reasons for wishing to add to the long list of school histories of the United States, three principal objects:—

First, to present fully and with fairness the Southern point of view in the great controversies that long threatened to divide the Union.

Second, to treat the Revolutionary War, and the causes that led to it, impartially and with more regard for British contentions than has been usual among American writers.

Third, to emphasize the importance of the West in the growth and development of the United States.

These objects have been kept constantly in view. We felt, moreover, that the development of institutions and government may justly be considered of great importance, although naturally lacking in picturesqueness, and we have endeavored to set in relief this evolutionary process. How far we have succeeded in accomplishing the objects sought remains for others to judge.

I cannot forbear to place on record here my appreciation of the fortitude with which Dr. Adams bore his protracted sufferings and did his work; of his conscientiousness in matters of minutest detail; of his fairness and sympathy toward those with whom he did not agree, and of the unfailing courtesy that marked every line of his correspondence.

Acknowledgment is due to the highly competent services of Miss May Langdon White of New York, whom Dr. Adams selected to assist in the revision of the work.


Columbia University,

New York, November, 1902.


   List of Mapsxvi
   List of Illustrationsxvii
   Chronological Tablexx
SETTLEMENT, 1492–1765.
1-3.The American Indians1
4.Pre-Columbian Discoverers4
5-13.Columbus and the Spanish Discoverers7
14-16.The French Explorers18
17-18.The English Explorers20
19-20.Summary of Results22
21-28.The Settlement of Virginia24
29-30.The Settlement of New York29
31-36.The Pilgrims at Plymouth31
37-38.The Settlement of Massachusetts34
39-41.The Settlement and Growth of Maryland37
42-45.Development of Virginia40
46-52.Development of New England42
53-60.The New England Confederacy46
61-71.Development of the Middle Colonies51
72-76.The Southern Colonies57
77-78.General Conditions60
79-84.Characteristics of New England61
85-86.Characteristics of the Middle Colonies65
87-90.Characteristics of the Southern Colonies66
91-94.Colonial Disputes69
95-97.Virginia and Georgia71
98-100.French Discoveries and Claims73
101-116.Wars with the French75
117-120.General Causes87
121-126.The Question of Taxation91
127-132.The Resistance of the Colonies93
133-135.The Tax on Tea98
136-139.New Legislation and Opposition100
140-143.The Crisis103
144-147.Early Movements107
148-152.Washington in Command110
153-158.The War in New York114
159-160.General Condition of the Country118
161-162.Failure of British Expeditions119
163-165.The Declaration of Independence121
166-176.The War in New Jersey126
177-187.The Struggle for the Center135
188-193.A Winter of Discouragement144
194-198.Prospects Brighten149
199-207.Conditions West of the Alleghanies152
208-209.The Conquest of the Northwest158
210-212.The Victories of Paul Jones159
213-214.The War in the South162
215-220.The Treason of Benedict Arnold164
221-223.Causes of Discouragement167
224-228.American Successes in the South168
229-237.The Close of the War172
238-243.Difficulties of Confederation178
244-256.The Constitution181
257-262.General Conditions191
263-264.Spirit of the People194
265-268.Early Legislation and Parties196
269-274.Difficulties of Administration200
275-281.A Period of Dissensions205
282-284.Jeffersonian Policy211
285-295.Measures and Events214
296-297.Character of Jefferson’s Statesmanship222
298-303.Outbreak of War225
304-305.Exploits of the Navy230
306-310.Reverses and Successes234
311-312.End of the War238
313-315.The Disaffection of New England240
316-319.Consequences of the War242
320-322.Character of the Period245
323-326.Diplomatic Achievements247
327-331.Slavery comes to the Front250
332-334.Factional Politics254
335-339.Failures of the Administration257
340-342.The Tariff Question260
343-345.Political Conditions263
346-350.Progress of the Nation265
351-354.A Popular Autocrat271
355-356.The Debate over the Nature of the Constitution274
357-358.The Tariff and Nullification278
359-360.The Abolitionists281
361-367.Financial Disturbances283
368-371.A Period of Confusion288
372-373.The Embarrassments of the Whigs290
374-376.Texas and Oregon293
377-379.The Opening of the Mexican War296
380-389.The Conduct and Results of the War299
390-394.The Question of California305
395-400.The Compromise of 1850308
401-404.International and Domestic Affairs313
405-410.The Confusion of Parties317
411-415.Kansas-Nebraska Legislation320
416-417.The Republican Party323
418-422.The Supreme Court and Slavery326
423-427.Kansas and Utah329
428-431.The Great Debates332
432-434.John Brown and Public Opinion336
435-439.The Presidential Campaign of 1860339
440-446.Secession of the South342
447-449.The Country in 1860–1861348
450-453.Opening of Hostilities353
454-458.Military and Financial Strength of the Combatants357
459-461.Description of the Seat of War360
462-465.Domestic and Foreign Complications362
466-471.Military Movements of 1861365
472-474.International Difficulties369
475-483.The War in the West372
484-489.The Work of the Navy381
490-498.The War in the East387
499-502.Public Feeling in the North and Great Britain394
503-506.The War in the East continued397
507-513.Domestic and Foreign Effects of the Campaigns of 1862402
518-522.The Chattanooga Campaign411
523-525.The Eastern Campaigns414
526-529.Embarrassment of the Federal Government419
530-533.Grant and Lee in Virginia422
534-538.Sherman’s Campaigns426
539-541.Naval Victories430
542-546.Political Affairs432
547-551.Movements of Sherman and Grant436
552-554.The Death of President Lincoln440
555-561.The Magnitude of the War441
562-573.Different Policies of Reconstruction446
574-576.Effects of Reconstruction452
577-580.Johnson and Congress454
581-588.Grant’s First Administration, 1869–1873458
589-595.Grant’s Second Administration, 1873–1877463
596-599.Party Politics468
600-603.Industrial Problems473
604-605.Financial Problems475
606-609.Political Affairs476
610-613.Chief Features of Arthur’s Administration480
614-617.Political Events483
618-619.The Presidential Campaign of 1884485
620-623.Important Measures and Reforms488
624-628.Industrial and Financial Disturbances491
629-638.Domestic Events and Measures495
639-641.Foreign Affairs500
642-643.Political Affairs502
644-649.Financial Legislation504
650-651.Foreign Affairs507
652-655.Domestic Events510
656-657.The Beginning of McKinley’s Administration514
658-670.The War with Spain515
671-676.Consequences of the War524
677-681.The Close of McKinley’s First Administration527
682-683.McKinley’s Second Administration531
684-701.Roosevelt’s Administration532
702-705.Spread and Character of the Population551
706-709.National Development553
   A.  Declaration of Independence559
   B.  Constitution of the United States of America564
            Amendments to the Constitution575
   C.  List of Presidents and Vice Presidents,
  with their Terms of Office579


1.Distribution of the Barbarous Tribes East of the Mississippi. (Colored)
2.French Explorations and Settlements. (Colored)
3.Central North America at the Beginning of the French and Indian War, 1755. (Colored)
4.The British Colonies in 1764. (Colored)
5.Boston and Environs, 1775.
6.Boston and Environs, 1776.
7.Retreat across New Jersey.
8.The Middle Atlantic States.
9.Operations in the South, 1780–1781.
10.Operations at Yorktown.
11.Land Claims of the Thirteen Original States in 1783. (Colored)
12.The Northwest Territory in 1787.
13.United States in 1789. (Colored)
14.The Areas of Freedom and Slavery in 1790. (Colored)
15.United States in 1800. (Colored)
16.The Louisiana Purchase.
17.Operations in Canada, 1812–1814.
18.Operations in the East, 1814.
19.Operations around Washington in 1814.
20.Southwestern Operations, 1813–1815.
21.Areas of Freedom and Slavery as established by the Missouri Compromise of 1820. (Colored)
22a.United States in 1825–1830. (Colored)
22b.United States in 1825–1830. (Colored)
23.Territory claimed by Texas when admitted into the Union, 1845. (Colored)
24.Territory ceded by Mexico, 1848 and 1853. (Colored)
25.United States—Acquisition of Territory. (Colored)
26.The Compromise of 1850. (Colored)
27.Areas of Freedom and Slavery in 1854. (Colored)
28a.United States in 1861. (Colored)
28b.United States in 1861. (Colored)
29.Operations in the West, 1862.
30.Norfolk, Hampton Roads.
31.The Vicksburg Campaign.
32.Operations in the East, 1864.
33.Sherman’s March to the Sea.
34.Colonial Possessions, 1909. (Colored)
35a.United States, 1909. (Colored)
35b.United States, 1909. (Colored)


George Washington
Specimen of Indian Pottery
Inscription Rock, New Mexico
Diego de Landa’s Maya Alphabet
Long House of Iroquois
Cliff Dwellings on the Rio Mancos
North Pueblo of Taos
Specimen of Saga Manuscript
The Dighton Rock in Massachusetts
Old Mill at Newport
Toscanelli’s Map
Ships of the Time of Columbus
Sebastian Cabot
Americus Vespucius
Ponce de Leon
De Soto
Jacques Cartier
Sir Francis Drake
Sir Walter Raleigh
Ruins of the Old Church at Jamestown
John Smith
Henry Hudson
New Amsterdam
Miles Standish
John Endicott
John Winthrop
First Lord Baltimore
Cecilius Calvert, Second Lord Baltimore
Sir Henry Vane
Sir Edmund Andros
Peter Stuyvesant
William Penn
Cotton Mather
James Oglethorpe
La Salle
Jonathan Edwards
Sieur de Bienville
General Montcalm
William Pitt, Earl of Chatham
General Wolfe
George III.
Pennsylvania Journal
Samuel Adams
James Otis
Patrick Henry
John Dickinson
Governor Hutchinson
Old South Church, Boston
Faneuil Hall, Boston
Carpenter’s Hall, Philadelphia
John Hancock
Statue of Minuteman at Concord
Gen. Joseph Warren
General Howe
Washington Elm, Cambridge
Col. Benedict Arnold
Gen. Nathanael Greene
Colonial Flag, 1776
Gen. William Moultrie
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
House in which Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence
Independence Hall, Philadelphia
Benjamin Franklin
Portion of the Declaration of Independence
Continental Currency
Marquis de Lafayette
George Washington
Gen. Philip Schuyler
Gen. John Stark
Gen. John Burgoyne
Baron von Steuben
Gen. Horatio Gates
Gen. Anthony Wayne
Wayne’s Dispatch to Washington
Daniel Boone
Gen. John Sullivan
Gen. George Rogers Clark
Captain Paul Jones
Lord Cornwallis
Place of André’s Execution
Colonel Tarleton
Gen. Daniel Morgan
Alexander Hamilton
James Madison
Federal Hall, New York City
Blockhouse at Mackinaw
Stagecoach of the Time of Washington
John Jay
Mount Vernon
John Adams
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Albert Gallatin
John Marshall
Stephen Decatur
William Pitt the Younger
Fulton’s Steamboat
Robert Fulton
Eli Whitney
John C. Calhoun
Captain Isaac Hull
The Constitution
Captain James Lawrence
Captain Oliver H. Perry
Commodore Macdonough
Andrew Jackson
James Monroe
Henry Clay
John Randolph
John Quincy Adams
William Lloyd Garrison
Theodore Parker
Martin Van Buren
Daniel Webster
Thomas H. Benton
Robert Y. Hayne
Daniel Webster’s Carriage
Wendell Phillips
William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
Gen. Samuel Houston
James K. Polk
Gen. Zachary Taylor
Gen. Winfield Scott
Sutter’s Mill, California
Henry Clay
William H. Seward
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
Caleb Cushing
Charles Sumner
John C. Frémont
Roger B. Taney
Harriet Beecher Stowe
James Buchanan
Stephen A. Douglas
A Typical Pioneer’s Cabin
John Brown
Salmon P. Chase
Confederate Capitol, Montgomery, Ala.
Jefferson Davis
Alexander H. Stephens
Cyrus W. Field
Abraham Lincoln
Fort Sumter
Palmetto Flag (Confederate)
Confederate Flag
General Beauregard
Gen. Nathaniel Lyon
Edwin M. Stanton
Gen. Ulysses S. Grant
Gen. A. S. Johnston
Gen. Braxton Bragg
Gen. W. S. Rosecrans
Confederate Ram
John Ericsson
Admiral D. G. Farragut
Gen. George B. McClellan
Gen. J. E. Johnston
Stonewall Jackson
Gen. R. E. Lee
Maj. Gen. H. W. Halleck
Gen. John Pope
Gen. A. E. Burnside
Gen. George H. Thomas
Gen. William T. Sherman
Gen. Joseph Hooker
Gen. George G. Meade
Gen. James Longstreet
Gen. George E. Pickett
Gen. B. F. Butler
Gen. J. B. Hood
Gen. Philip H. Sheridan
Signatures to the Agreement for Surrender (Grant and Lee)
House at Appomattox in which Surrender was arranged
Andrew Johnson
Thaddeus Stevens
Horatio Seymour
Horace Greeley
Gen. George A. Custer
Rutherford B. Hayes
Samuel J. Tilden
Gen. Winfield S. Hancock
James A. Garfield
Chester A. Arthur
Brooklyn Bridge
James G. Blaine
Grover Cleveland
Benjamin Harrison
William J. Bryan
William McKinley
Admiral George Dewey
Gen. W. R. Shafter
Admiral W. T. Sampson
The Oregon
Gen. Nelson A. Miles
Theodore Roosevelt
Admiral W. S. Schley
William H. Taft


1000 (circa)The Northmen reach America.
1492Columbus lands at Watling’s Island.
1497John Cabot lands near the mouth of the St. Lawrence.
1498Voyage of Sebastian Cabot.
1499–1503Americus Vespucius makes four voyages to America.
1512Ponce de Leon discovers Florida.
1513Balboa discovers the Pacific.
1520Magellan passes the straits named after him.
1541De Soto discovers the Mississippi River.
1562–1564Huguenots in South Carolina and Florida.
1565St. Augustine, Florida, founded by the Spanish.
1577–1580Drake makes his voyage round the world.
1584–1587Sir Walter Raleigh sends out colonists.
1607Founding of Jamestown, Virginia.
1608Champlain founds Quebec.
1609Hudson discovers the Hudson River.
1614The Dutch settle on Manhattan Island.
1620Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth.
1626The Dutch found New Amsterdam (New York City).
1630Winthrop leads Puritan emigration to Massachusetts.
1630Boston founded.
1632Charter for Maryland granted the second Lord Baltimore.
1634St. Mary’s, Maryland, founded.
1635Settlements made in Connecticut.
1636Roger Williams founds Providence, Rhode Island.
1636Harvard College founded.
1638New Haven settled.
1638Swedes occupy Delaware.
1639Constitution of Connecticut framed.
1643New England Confederacy established.
1663Government organized in North Carolina.
1664The English seize New Netherland and settle in New Jersey.
1670Settlement in South Carolina. Charleston founded.
1674–1676King Philip’s War.
1676Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia.
1682La Salle explores Mississippi River.
1682Philadelphia founded.
1689–1697King William’s War.
1690Colonial Congress at New York.
1692Salem witchcraft.
1692William and Mary College (Virginia) founded.
1697Peace of Ryswick.
1701Detroit founded.
1701Yale College founded.
1702–1703Queen Anne’s War.
1713Treaty of Utrecht.
1718The French found New Orleans.
1730Baltimore founded.
1733Savannah founded.
1744–1748King George’s War.
1745Capture of Louisburg.
1746Princeton College founded.
1748Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.
1754King’s (Columbia) College founded.
1754French and Indian War begins (ends 1763).
1755Braddock’s defeat.
1759Capture of Quebec.
1763Peace of Paris.
1763The Conspiracy of Pontiac.
1765The Stamp Act passed.
1766Repeal of Stamp Act.
1767Townshend Acts.
1768British troops in Boston.
1770Boston Massacre.
1773“Boston Tea-party.”
1774Boston Port Bill.
1774First Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia.
1775Battles of Lexington and Concord. Siege of Boston. Battle of Bunker Hill.
1775Mecklenburg Resolutions.
1776Declaration of Independence.
1777Victories of Princeton, Bennington, and Saratoga. Defeats of Brandywine and Germantown. Washington at Valley Forge.
1778France becomes an ally of the United States.
1779Naval victories of Paul Jones.
1780Arnold’s treason.
1781Articles of Confederation finally agreed to.
1781Battle of Cowpens. Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown.
1782Preliminary treaty with Great Britain.
1783Peace of Versailles.
1787Federal Convention frames the Constitution.
1787Ordinance concerning the Northwest Territory passed by Congress.
1788The states ratify the Constitution.
1789Washington inaugurated at New York. Organization of Congress and the Departments.
1792Formation of Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties.
1793Washington’s proclamation of neutrality.
1795Jay’s Treaty ratified.
1798The Alien and Sedition Laws.
1798The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions.
1800The city of Washington becomes the national capital.
1801Jefferson elected President by the House of Representatives.
1803Purchase of Louisiana.
1804Expedition of Lewis and Clark.
1807Fulton’s steamboat.
1807Passage of the Embargo.
1809The Non-intercourse Act.
1812War with Great Britain.
1814The British capture Washington.
1814The Hartford Convention.
1814The Treaty of Ghent.
1815The battle of New Orleans.
1819Florida purchased from Spain.
1820First Missouri Compromise.
1823Monroe Doctrine.
1825Erie Canal opened.
1830Hayne-Webster debate.
1830Baltimore and Ohio Railroad opened.
1832Nullification in South Carolina.
1832Rise of the Whig party.
1833Chicago founded.
1836Independence of Texas.
1840Sub-treasury system established.
1840Liberty party formed.
1842Ashburton Treaty.
1842Dorr’s Rebellion in Rhode Island.
1844Morse completes the first telegraph line.
1846–1848Mexican War.
1846Wilmot Proviso.
1846Oregon Treaty.
1848Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
1848Discovery of gold in California.
1850Compromise of 1850.
1850Clayton-Bulwer Treaty.
1852Rise of Know-Nothing party.
1853Gadsden Purchase.
1854Kansas-Nebraska Bill.
1854Republican party formed.
1855Struggle in Kansas.
1857Dred Scott Decision.
1858First Atlantic cable.
1858Lincoln-Douglas debates.
1859John Brown’s raid.
1860Election of Lincoln. Secession of South Carolina.
1861–1865The Civil War.
1862Fight between Merrimac and Monitor.
1863Proclamation of Emancipation.
1863Battle of Gettysburg. Capture of Vicksburg.
1864Battle of the Wilderness.
1865Surrender of Lee and Johnson.
1865Assassination of Lincoln.
1866Successful laying of the Atlantic cable.
1867Congressional system of reconstruction.
1867Purchase of Alaska.
1868Impeachment of President Johnson.
1869Completion of the Pacific Railroad.
1871Treaty of Washington.
1876Electoral Commission.
1877Troops withdrawn from the South.
1879Resumption of specie payments.
1883Civil Service Reform Commission.
1892Rise of People’s Party.
1898War declared with Spain. Treaty of Paris. Acquisition of the Philippines.
1898Annexation of Hawaii.
1901Hay-Pauncefote Treaty.
1902Panama Canal authorized.
1905Treaty of Portsmouth.
1907Financial crisis.

Distribution of the Barbarous Tribes
East of the Mississippi




Specimen of Indian Pottery,
from a mound near Pecan Point,
Arkansas. Now in the National
Museum at Washington.

Diego de Landa’s Maya

1. The Aborigines.—When America became known to Europe at the end of the fifteenth century, it was by no means an uninhabited country. Wherever the discoverers effected a landing, and however far they pushed inland, they found themselves confronted by native inhabitants of varying degrees of savagery. Hence the settlement of both Americas, from first to last, has been dependent upon the supplanting of one race by another or upon their intermixture.


2. Characteristics of the Indians.—The original inhabitants of both continents have been known as Indians, in consequence of a mistake made by Columbus (§§ 5-7). The North American Indians were fiercer foes than the native Mexicans and Peruvians whom the Spaniards, under Cortez and Pizarro, overcame, and with whom they intermarried. We know, however, from linguistic characteristics, that all the aborigines from the Arctic Circle to Cape Horn belonged to the same race. How they first came to America is a matter of dispute; but their main peculiarities are well understood. In Peru and Mexico they had made some progress toward civilization. They constructed good roads, were not unskillful artisans, and had even learned some astronomy. But they lived in large communal groups under their chiefs, and had made slight advance in the art of government; hence they fell an easy prey to small bodies of Spaniards. Similar in character to the Mexicans, but inferior to them, were the Pueblos and Cliff-dwellers of the region of New Mexico, Arizona, and Lower California, as well as the Natchez Indians of the Lower Mississippi Valley. Most of the North American Indian tribes lived in villages of wigwams and had a primitive form of government. In each village there was a communal, or “long,” house, in which clan business was transacted. In a few cases this “long” house gave shelter to a whole tribe. These Indians, except among the Southern tribes mentioned below, were chiefly in what is called the hunter and fisher state, although they frequently practiced a rude form of agriculture. Sometimes, however, as in the case of the Digger Indians, they subsisted mainly on roots.[1]

Inscription Rock, New Mexico.


3. The Principal Indian Tribes.—Of the North American Indians with whom our own forefathers came chiefly in contact, there were four principal groups, commonly known as the Algonquins, the Iroquois, the Southern Indians, and the Dakotahs. The Algonquins were the most numerous, although it is doubtful if at any time they numbered ninety thousand. Ranging through the vast forests from Kentucky to Hudson Bay and from the Mississippi to the Atlantic, they were naturally in frequent conflict with the whites. Opposed to these, and wedged into the very center of their territory, were the fierce Iroquois, the craftiest of their race, whose tribal names—Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas—are inseparably connected with rivers and lakes in the State of New York. They formed a loose confederacy, called by the whites the “Five Nations.”[2] The Southern Indians showed a milder disposition and were given to agriculture and rude manufactures. Of these the Creeks were the most advanced; beneath them in point of civilization were the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, and Seminoles.[3] West of the Mississippi ranged the wandering Dakotahs or Sioux, fierce fighters, whose descendants have given trouble down to our own day. Of the inferior tribes living in the extreme north of the continent, we need take no special account.


Cliff Dwellings on the
Rio Mancos.

Old Mill at Newport, long
erroneously supposed to have been
built by the Northmen.

Long House of the Iroquois.

4. The Northmen.—While Columbus and his followers were the real discoverers of America in the sense that they first made it generally known to Europe, it is practically certain that they were not the first Europeans to set foot on the new continent. It is possible that seamen from France and England preceded Columbus, but there is much better reason to believe that Scandinavians from Iceland, having first discovered Greenland, visited the North American mainland as early as the year 1000. Evidence to this effect is found in the so-called Sagas of the Northmen, poetic chronicles based on tradition and dating from about two centuries after the events which they recorded. According to these stories, navigators were driven south from Greenland to a strange shore about the year 985. Fourteen years later, Leif, son of Eric the Red, having introduced Christianity from Norway into Iceland and Greenland, visited the newly discovered land, with thirty-five companions. They wintered in a country which, from its abundance of wild grape vines, they called Vinland, built some houses, and then returned to Greenland with a cargo of timber. Several other voyages were made thither and a temporary colony was established, the latest mention of a voyage dating from about the middle of the fourteenth century. Such is the story of the Sagas. The main features of the account are generally held to be correct, but the location of the Northmen’s Vinland cannot be determined, and no archæological remains have been found on the American continent to corroborate the Sagas.[4]

North Pueblo of Taos.

Specimen of Saga Manuscript.

The Dighton Rock in Massachusetts,
long supposed to bear an inscription left by the Northmen.
The figures are now known to be Indian hieroglyphics.



5. Columbus and the Indies.—That Christopher Columbus[5] of Genoa is entitled to the honor of being considered the real discoverer of America is clearly proved by the fact that he was the first person who planned to sail westward over the unknown ocean, and that he never faltered in the prosecution of his heroic design. It is true that he made the mistake of thinking he would come to India rather than to a new continent, and that he underestimated the distance he would have to sail; but such mistakes were natural in view of the lack of geographical knowledge at that time. It was generally believed, by priest and layman alike, that the earth was flat, and good Scripture warrant was produced for the belief. Yet since the days of Aristotle a few scholars had concluded, from the evidences furnished by eclipses and from other reasons, that the earth was spherical in form. Columbus had obtained this idea from some source and seems to have been fascinated by the possibilities it opened. Oriental commerce, especially that from India, was then of great consequence to Italian merchants; and if the recent military successes of the Turks should close the overland routes to the East, it was thought this commerce would be destroyed. But Columbus held that, if the earth were round, India could be reached by sailing westward, and thus trade could be carried on in spite of the Turks.

Toscanelli’s Map (simplified)


6. Motives and Difficulties of Columbus.—Columbus was urged on by patriotism, desire of gain, missionary hopes of Christianizing distant lands, and a natural enthusiasm for heroic enterprise. He corresponded with Toscanelli, a learned Italian, who sent him letters and a map, but underestimated greatly the distance to be traversed. This mistake was fortunate, as Columbus would probably never have secured a hearing had he proposed to take a voyage of ten thousand miles,—the actual distance between Spain and the East Indies. As it was, for a long time he applied in vain to princes and potentates—who alone could sustain the expenses of such an expedition—for permission and means to make a voyage which he believed to be about three thousand miles in length. The record of his hopes and fears, his successes and reverses, reads like a heroic poem. Fortunately for him, the Portuguese had been making voyages down the African coast, with their eyes fixed on the Eastern trade, and the Spaniards, strong through the recent union of Castile and Aragon and the conquest of the Moorish kingdom of Granada, had been aroused to eager rivalry in maritime enterprise. At the court of Ferdinand and Isabella, the Spanish monarchs, Columbus eloquently pleaded his cause. Success at last crowned his efforts. Under the patronage of Isabella he sailed from the port of Palos, with a fleet of three vessels, on the 3d of August, 1492.


Ships of the Time of Columbus.

7. Voyages of Columbus.—Within a month the adventurers had left the Canaries and were traversing the unknown ocean. As the days went by the crews became restless, but the dauntless resolution of Columbus prevented mutiny. Finally, after a fortunate change of course to the southwest, the great navigator saw a light ahead, on the evening of October 11, and the following morning he found that an island had been reached. It was probably Watling’s Island, one of the Bahama group, though the identity of the landing place has been a matter of much dispute.[7] On this first voyage Columbus coasted along the northern side of Cuba, and also discovered the island now known as Hayti. Then, after losing his largest ship and suffering many other trials, he returned to Spain, confident that he had reached islands off the coast of India. The Spanish sovereigns received him with great respect and pomp, and soon sent him back to take possession of his discoveries in the name of Spain. Unfortunately, there was little or no wealth to be obtained from the new possessions except by capable colonists, and Columbus was not fitted to govern dependencies. So great did the opposition to him become that he was arrested some years later, on account of charges of extortion and cruelty brought by his followers, and was sent to Spain in irons. He was soon released, however, and undertook his fourth and last voyage. The results of his last three expeditions were not important. He succeeded in exploring more of Cuba, and in discovering Jamaica. He reached also the mouth of the Orinoco, and was much puzzled to account for its size, which was too great for an island river. On his last voyage he coasted the shores of Central America, in a vain search for a waterway to India. He found no strait, but did find an isthmus; and when he heard reports of a vast body of water lying on the other side of the land, he thought that it must be the Indian Ocean. Thus he was confirmed in his error with regard to the nearness of India, and doubtless cherished his delusion to his death. After his fourth voyage he returned to Spain, and died there in 1506, in poverty and obscurity.


Sebastian Cabot.

8. The Cabots and the English Title.—Almost immediately after Columbus’s first voyage, Pope Alexander VI. issued a bull dividing the non-Christian portion of the world into two parts: Spain to have all that she might discover west of a line to be drawn one hundred leagues west of the Azores; and Portugal all that she might discover east of it. In the following year the rival nations fixed the line at three hundred and seventy leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands. Aroused by these events, Henry VII. of England, who was laying the foundations of Tudor greatness, granted a license of exploration to John Cabot, an Italian then living in Bristol. This seaman landed somewhere near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, in 1497. Accounts of the voyage are unsatisfactory; and those of the voyage of 1498, supposed to have been made under the command of Cabot’s son Sebastian,[8] are still more vague. That the Cabots did make northerly discoveries on which the English based their right to colonize North America is, however, quite certain.


9. Other Successors of Columbus.—The discovery of the West Indies, as the new islands were named in consequence of Columbus’s mistake, naturally gave a great impetus to exploration. In 1497–98 the Portuguese under Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope and reached the real India, the goal of their desires. In the last year of the same century another Portuguese, Gaspar Cortereal, explored a good deal of the North American coast, and in a few years Newfoundland was much frequented by fishermen, especially from France and England.[9] Little was known, however, about the geography of the new world. Many strange errors were current respecting it, and some years passed before it was given a name. One of the errors was that North America was a projection of Asia, which was not disproved until 1728, when the Russian navigator Vitus Bering sailed from the Pacific into the Arctic Ocean. This error had much to do with the delay in furnishing the two continents with names. By a curious chain of circumstances, too, the name finally settled upon did not do honor to Columbus.

Americus Vespucius.


10. The Name “America.”—Among the early successors of this great explorer was another Italian, Amerigo Vespucci, or, in the Latin form then current, Americas Vespucius.[10] Little is known of him or his voyages, but it is clear that he was one of the first Europeans after Columbus to visit the northern coast of South America, and that in 1504 he wrote an account of his adventures. This account circulated as far as the college town of St. Dié in the Vosges Mountains, and was there printed with an introduction by one of the professors, Martin Waldseemüller by name, who proposed that, since now a fourth division of the earth’s inhabited surface must be named, this should be known as America, in honor of Americus Vespucius, who was supposed to have discovered it. There appears to have been no intention to slight Columbus, whose voyage to the Orinoco was probably not widely known. At any rate, the suggestion was followed, first as regards South America, later with regard to both continents.



11. Balboa’s Discovery of the Pacific.—Geographical knowledge was much advanced by the discovery of the Pacific Ocean by Vasco Nuñez de Balboa[11] in 1513. This brave Spaniard had sought the New World for the sake of wealth, but had met with many difficulties. Lured by tales told by the natives of Panama of a large ocean and lands abounding in gold beyond the mountains, he made his way to the top of the Cordilleras, and thence beheld a great sea to the south of him, which he called the South Sea, a name long retained by English writers. It is the irony of fate that in the best-known reference in English literature to this discovery,—in the famous sonnet by Keats,—the honor of making it should have been transferred to Cortez, who had celebrity enough of his own.



12. The Voyage of Magellan.—The name Pacific was given to the great ocean by the most glorious of Columbus’s successors, the Portuguese Fernãdo de Magalhães,[12] better known as Magellan. In 1519, while in the service of Spain, he followed the coast of South America, hoping to find a strait that might lead into the South Sea. Late in the next year he discovered the strait that bears his name, and sailed into the great ocean to which he gave the name Pacific, on account of its peaceful character. This name was ironical so far as his own career was concerned; for one of his five crews mutinied, one ship was cast away and another abandoned him, and he himself was killed in an encounter with the natives of the Philippine Islands. But he had won a glorious immortality, although it was really the survivors of his crews that finally made their way around the Cape of Good Hope and completed the first circumnavigation of the globe.


Ponce de Leon.

De Soto.

13. Spanish Conquests.—Meanwhile a Spaniard, Ponce de Leon,[13] had discovered Florida in 1512 and had found the perfect climate, but not the gold and silver and fountain of youth he sought. His attempt nine years later to establish a colony there was a complete failure. Success attended, however, the expedition of Hernando Cortez for the conquest of Mexico (1519–1521), and similar good fortune befell that of Francisco Pizarro for the subversion of Peru (1532). The New World was rapidly alluring the Spaniards, who made many explorations. For example, Cabeza de Vaca, an officer in Panfilo de Narvaez’s unfortunate expedition to the Gulf coast, wandered in the interior regions a long while, and finally emerged on the Mexican border, with marvelous tales of what he had seen and heard (1536). These tales caused the Viceroy of Mexico, Mendoza, to send a certain friar to investigate them; and, upon the facts and the numerous errors contained in the friar’s report, hopes were founded that induced the sending out of a large force under Francisco Vasquez Coronado (1540–1542). This expedition conquered many pueblo villages of the Southwest, but obtained no gold or silver, and, after struggling as far north as Kansas, ended in a disconsolate retreat. At about the same time another expedition was moving westward from Florida through the Gulf region, under the command of Hernando de Soto (1539–1542). This gallant man pushed northwest across the mountains and discovered the Tennessee River, and later the Mississippi; but he died soon after, and his followers abandoned their enterprise. Thus by the middle of the century no permanent Spanish settlement had been made in what is now the United States. Nor was Spain long to have things her own way.


Jacques Cartier.

14. French Discoveries.—As we have seen, French fishermen were among the first to reach Newfoundland. A little later the voyage of Giovanni da Verrazano, a native of Florence, under commission of Francis I., showed the dawning interest in the New World taken by the French court. In 1524 Verrazano explored much of the Northern coast as far as Newfoundland. In 1534 and 1535 Jacques Cartier[14] discovered Prince Edward Island, sailed up the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and penetrated the great river as far as the present site of Montreal, fancying most of the time that he was rapidly nearing China.[15] A few years later he came again, bringing colonists with him; but the enterprise did not succeed, and in consequence was soon abandoned.


15. Arrival of Huguenots.—France was now torn with civil and religious discord, and, as a result, Admiral Coligny, the great leader of the Huguenots, determined to found a place of refuge for his co-religionists in a more tempting part of America than Canada. Accordingly, in 1562, Jean Ribaut, under his orders, sailed for the Southern coast and discovered the present St. John’s River in Florida. He left a small colony on Port Royal Sound, but it was soon scattered. Two years later, René de Laudonnière established another settlement on the St. John’s, but the colonists were disorderly. Some of them mutinied and attempted to plunder the Spaniards in the West Indies. Learning thus of the existence of the French settlement, the Spaniards under Menendez organized a strong expedition against it. The French had meanwhile been reënforced by a fleet under Ribaut and by Sir John Hawkins, the English slave-trader and famous fighter. But in spite of these reënforcements the French did not use their opportunities, and their vessels were soon scattered by a storm. Then Menendez, who had just established himself at St. Augustine (1565), destroyed the French fort and killed or captured nearly all the Frenchmen at that time in Florida. St. Augustine, the oldest town in the United States, still stands to record this savage warfare. A little later a French soldier, Dominic de Gourges, partly avenged his countrymen; but St. Augustine was not taken, and the French crown relinquished all claims to Florida.



16. Champlain.—In the progressive reign of Henry IV. of France, attention was once more paid to Canada. After a colony had failed on the Isle of Sable, near Nova Scotia, and another had all but come to grief in Nova Scotia proper, Samuel de Champlain[16] succeeded in establishing a permanent post at Quebec in 1608. In a few years, owing to the zeal of the Jesuit missionaries and the enterprise of the fur-traders, the French had obtained a firm grip upon Canada and were rapidly pushing inland.


Sir Francis Drake.

17. English Explorations during the Reign of Elizabeth.—The English, unlike the French, were at first content with their fisheries in Newfoundland; and it was not until after 1570 that they seriously took part in the affairs of America. Their tardiness was probably at first due to the marriage of Henry VIII. with a Spanish princess, then to their own internal troubles in consequence of the Pope’s condemnation of Henry’s conduct. Finally, in the reign of Elizabeth, a love of geographical knowledge and discovery having sprung up, they turned their attention to exploring for a northwest passage to the East. Martin Frobisher made three voyages (1576–1578), and sought gold in Labrador. Francis Drake,[17] in his voyage round the world (1577–1580), explored part of the Pacific coast of the present United States. Sir Humphrey Gilbert and his half-brother, Sir Walter Raleigh,[18] wished to colonize as well as explore, and after one disastrous attempt Gilbert took possession of Newfoundland in the name of Queen Elizabeth. He was lost on the return voyage, but left behind him an undying reputation for courage and piety.[19]


Sir Walter Raleigh.

18. Raleigh’s Colonies.—Raleigh continued the work of Gilbert by organizing expeditions, in which he took, however, no personal part. The first exploration was made in 1584 by Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe. These two leaders visited the coast of North Carolina, and returned bringing favorable accounts of the region, which was named Virginia, after the Virgin Queen. The next year Raleigh fitted out seven ships, and a colony was established on Roanoke Island. This in spite of several reënforcements finally proved a failure, the last colonists having disappeared in a manner never accounted for.[20] Meanwhile the defeat of the Spanish Armada off the coast of England had rendered it quite certain that with England’s sea power established, she would be able to colonize the northern parts of America without great fear of molestation.


19. Colonization in the Sixteenth Century.—As we have just seen, Spain, France, and England made many efforts during the sixteenth century to obtain permanent possessions in the New World. Spain succeeded in Mexico and Peru, and made a mere beginning in Florida. France did not really get a foothold in Canada until the first decade of the next century, and this was likewise the case with the English in Virginia. All three nations had too many things to disturb them at home to be able to put forth their full strength in establishing their claims to the new country. The work of exploration in consequence was hazardous and slow. Then, again, the precise value of the possessions they were striving for was not understood. Men chiefly sought the precious metals, and in the race for these Spain came off victor. But to obtain them she sacrificed the lives of the helpless natives and of imported negro slaves, and thus never laid the foundations for successful, thriving colonies. She injured herself, too, by accustoming her own people to the idea that the mother country ought to be supported by her colonies, and that labor was beneath a Spaniard of good blood.


20. Changes in the Theory of Colonization.—France and England, also, sought for gold and silver, but found none. The lands they occupied could be made productive, but not by the ne’er-do-well adventurers who first came out. When, however, fish and furs, and, later on, tobacco, became far more profitable than the metals would have been, the character of both English and French colonists gradually improved. The value of the new possessions was not to be perceived fully, however, until the eighteenth century, when they played a part in all the important European wars. Nor even then did statesmen at home realize that the mother country’s interests were best served by keeping her colonists prosperous. A colony was at first viewed merely as a source of revenue, and in some cases even as a dumping-ground for criminals. It is only of late that colonies have figured as outlets for superfluous population and as bases for extending commercial operations.

References.General Works which should be consulted in connection with each of the five chapters of Part I. are: J. Winsor, Narrative and Critical History of America (contains special monographs of great value); G. Bancroft, History of the United States (revised edition); R. Hildreth, History of the United States; J. A. Doyle, The English in America; R. G. Thwaites, The Colonies, chaps. i.–iii. (“Epochs of American History”); G. P. Fisher, The Colonial Era (“American History Series”).

Special Works: J. Fiske, Discovery of America; E. J. Payne, History of the New World called America; W. H. Prescott, Conquest of Mexico and Conquest of Peru; E. Eggleston, The Beginners of a Nation; J. Winsor, Christopher Columbus; also biographies of Columbus by Washington Irving, C. K. Adams, and C. R. Markham; W. Irving, Companions of Columbus; A. Helps, Spanish Conquest of America; F. Parkman, Pioneers of France; J. Winsor, From Cartier to Frontenac; E. J. Payne, Voyages of the Elizabethan Seamen (also various biographies of Drake, Raleigh, etc.); H. H. Bancroft, The Pacific States, Vol. XVIII.

On the Indians, see Fiske and Payne, as above, and the writings of L. H. Morgan and A. F. Bandelier. For full bibliographies, consult Channing and Hart’s Guide to American History. For illustrative material, consult Old South Leaflets and Hart’s American History told by Contemporaries. The first voyage of Columbus is described in Cooper’s Mercedes of Castile; Elizabethan maritime enterprise, in C. Kingsley’s Westward Ho!

For a brief but scientific account of the chief characteristics of the aborigines, see article, “Indians,” by D. G. Brinton and J. W. Powell, in Johnson’s Universal Cyclopædia.

They became the “Six Nations” after they were joined by the Tuscaroras of North Carolina.

“Seminoles” means “wanderers”; the tribe was made up of refugees from other tribes, notably from the Creeks.

The remains of the old mill at Newport, Rhode Island, and certain inscriptions have at one time and another been held to date from the visits of the Northmen; but archæologists have not assented to these views.

Born at Genoa, Italy, about 1436; died, 1506. Early became a maker of maps and charts; about 1470 went to Lisbon, whence he sailed to Guinea, and probably to Iceland; studied the matter of circumnavigating the globe, and planned the project of reaching the East Indies by sailing in a westerly direction; failing to procure aid in Portugal, went to Spain, where he finally received help from the Spanish court, immediately after the fall of Granada in 1492; set out with three vessels, August 3, 1492; landed, October 12; discovered Cuba and Hayti, and reached home in March, 1493; sailed again in the autumn of 1493, and remained till 1496; made a third voyage, 1498; was imprisoned on charges of cruelty, and taken to Spain in chains; was soon released, and made his fourth and last voyage in 1502.

No portrait of Columbus has any claim to authenticity. There is no evidence that his likeness was drawn or painted by anyone who ever saw him.

The diary of Columbus, studied in connection with the possible landing places in the West Indies, shows that the vessels probably floated past Watling’s Island in the night of October 11, and that a landing was made the next morning on the west side of the island.

Born about 1474, in Venice or Bristol. Probably accompanied his father John in the latter’s first voyage to America in 1497, and succeeded him in command of the second expedition, in 1498.

In consequence of these discoveries fishing rights on the island have been held by the French to our day.

Born in Florence, 1451; died, 1512. After becoming an expert astronomer and map-maker, made four voyages to America, two in the Spanish and two in the Portuguese service. To his Brazilian discoveries he gave the name Mundus Novus, or New World.

Born in Spain, 1475; died, 1517. Migrated to Hayti in 1500, and in 1510 accompanied Enciso in an expedition to Darien; quarreled with Enciso and obtained the chief command of the party; from the summit of a mountain discovered the Pacific, September 25, 1513; was afterward accused of treasonable designs and put to death.

Born in Portugal, about 1470; died, 1521. Served in the East Indies from 1505 to 1512; renounced allegiance to Portugal and went to Seville, 1517; conceived the plan of reaching the East Indies by a voyage south of South America; in 1519 was given by Charles V. a squadron of five ships, with two hundred and sixty-five men; explored the coast of South America, and passed the straits which have since borne his name, November 28, 1520; discovered and named the Ladrones (Robber) Islands; discovered the Philippine Islands, where, with eight of his men, he was killed.

Born, 1460; died, 1521. Spanish explorer, who probably accompanied Columbus on his second voyage. He was governor of eastern Hayti and conqueror of Porto Rico. In 1512 he started in search of the fountain of perpetual youth, and landed in Florida, near St. Augustine. In 1521 he returned, but lost most of his force. Spanish claims to Florida were based on these discoveries.

Born at St. Malo, France, 1494; died, 1554. Explored the American coast and ascended the St. Lawrence River to Montreal, 1535; returned to France, but revisited Canada in 1541, and explored the rapids above Montreal. For these explorations, which were the basis of the French claims to Canada, Cartier was ennobled by the king of France.

It is said that one of Cartier’s men, on seeing the foaming water above Montreal, exclaimed, “La Chine!” (China), and that in consequence the name “La Chine” has ever since been applied to the rapids.

Born, 1567; died, 1635. In 1599 sailed from his home in France to the West Indies, whence he proceeded to Mexico, and on his return crossed the Isthmus of Panama, where he conceived the idea of a ship canal; from 1603 to 1604 explored the St. Lawrence River; founded Quebec in 1608; discovered the lake that bears his name in 1609, and Lake Huron in 1615. He was one of the most cultured and gallant of the early explorers.

Born in 1546; died, 1596. English navigator, who reached Mexico in 1567 and South America in 1572; explored the Pacific coast from 1578 to 1579, and returned to England the next year, after having circumnavigated the globe.

Born, 1552; died, 1618. English navigator, who, after serving with the French Huguenots in the Netherlands, and in Ireland, led an unsuccessful expedition to colonize America in 1579; attempted to organize others with similar results; was confined in the Tower for several years after 1603; made an unsuccessful voyage to Guiana; was rearrested on his return, and executed.

It was Gilbert who told his companions not to fear, since heaven was as near by sea as by land.

It is an interesting fact that the first English child born on American soil was Virginia Dare, granddaughter of John White, governor of this colony.


the first plantations and colonies, 1607–1630.


21. The Virginia Company.—At the beginning of the seventeenth century England undertook in earnest to plant colonies in North America. Her only important rival was France. Efforts were first directed toward the vast unoccupied stretch of country between Canada and Florida. The upper part of this region was explored, with favorable results, by Bartholomew Gosnold in 1602, by Martin Pring in 1603, and by George Weymouth in 1605. These enterprises were encouraged by the new king, James I., and Raleigh was soon out of favor. The work of colonization required coöperation; and the example of the Muscovite and East India companies led certain important citizens to obtain a charter authorizing them, as the Virginia Company, to promote and govern colonies in the unsettled region. It was a favorable time for such an undertaking, since changes in agricultural methods and other economic causes had created a spirit of unrest and filled England with men eager for employment. Besides, the passion for discovery and the energy that marked Elizabeth’s reign had by no means died out, and fortune seemed beckoning from the new shores.


22. The Sub-companies.—The Virginia Company’s charter covered a region extending from the thirty-fourth to the forty-fifth degree of north latitude. This was not to be controlled by one set of men, however, for there were two sub-companies, one consisting of the charter members living in or near London, and the other of those living in or near Plymouth. The Londoners could colonize from the thirty-fourth to the thirty-eighth degree; the Plymouth people from the forty-first to the forty-fifth, while the intervening space was left to whichever company should first colonize it, with the proviso that neither company should settle within one hundred miles of the other. This idea of competition between the companies led to nothing, and indeed the whole scheme of the charter was a cumbrous one that promised little permanent success.


Ruins of the Old
Church at Jamestown.

23. The Settlement at Jamestown.—In 1607 both sub-companies began operations. The Plymouth men sent a fleet to the coast of the present state of Maine, but the colony they tried to plant was a failure. The London Company was more fortunate. Their colonists reached Chesapeake Bay in the spring, and settled about fifty miles above the mouth of a large river, since then known as the James, in honor of the English king. They called their new settlement Jamestown, and at once began to build huts and fortifications.


24. Captain John Smith.[21]—Their leading spirit was Captain John Smith, an adventurous and able man, who in spite of jealousies put himself at the head of affairs and saved the colony. The men sent out were mainly gentlemen adventurers seeking to mend their fortunes, and even some of the real workers followed callings not required in the wilderness. There was consequently much bickering, and soon a scarcity of provisions caused great suffering. The site of the town proved unhealthy, and the Indians encountered had to be watched. Altogether the situation was a wretched one, and but for the energy of Smith and a few others, Christopher Newport, the captain of the fleet, who had gone back to England for supplies, might have found few vestiges of a settlement on his return in 1609. Newport brought stores, but also a number of undesirable colonists. He speedily sailed back to England with a cargo of shining earth, which did not yield the gold it promised to credulous eyes. Smith besought the Company to send out good workmen to cultivate the rich soil; and after a while the promoters of the colony learned not to expect vast discoveries of gold and silver. In October, 1609, owing to an accident to his eyes, Smith left the colony, never to return.

John Smith.


25. Smith’s Character.—Smith’s relations with Virginia have been the subject of much hostile criticism. Discrepancies have been found between his earlier and his later accounts of his exploits, and some historians have been led to regard him as little more than a braggart. This is an untenable view. His management of the refractory colonists, his dealings with the Indian chief Powhatan, his wise and manly remonstrances with the London Company,—all go to show that he was an able and unselfish leader to whom the life of the struggling settlement was mainly due. On the other hand, there can be little doubt, save in the minds of his partisans, that he frequently embellished his accounts of his adventures, and that he is not the most reliable of historians. It is not at all impossible that he was really saved by Pocahontas,[22] yet the story may be as mythical as the coat of arms granted to him by the king of Hungary.



26. Annulling of the Virginia Company’s Charter.—In 1609, the year of Smith’s departure, King James gave the Virginia Company a new charter, which defined the limits of its territory in a very vague way and increased its power over its colonists. In 1612 he gave another charter, which took in the Bermuda Islands and allowed the shareholders of the Company to hold general meetings in London. Twelve years later, when the king’s Puritan opponents had got control of these meetings and used them for political purposes, he caused the charter to be annulled by a decree of court, which was a legal though not a justifiable act. The records of the Company were preserved in a romantic way,[23] and are now in the possession of the government at Washington.


27. Growth of Virginia.—Meanwhile the colony had had various ups and downs under several governors,—Lord Delaware, Sir Thomas Dale, the tyrannical Samuel Argall, Sir George Yeardley, and Sir Francis Wyatt,—but had on the whole become firmly established. Dale was strict, but successful in controlling the rougher elements; he also encouraged the policy of allowing settlers to become individual proprietors of land. Argall was speedily recalled for his misconduct. Liberal sentiments then prevailed in the colony, and its inhabitants were allowed, during Yeardley’s administration, to hold a yearly representative assembly, or legislature (1619), the first of its kind in America. This long step toward self-government, together with the increasing importance of the tobacco crop, gave Virginia a decided impetus, which the contemporaneous introduction of slavery, in the persons of twenty blacks landed and sold at Jamestown by a Dutch ship in 1619, did not at first affect. The presence of white slaves in the persons of indentured servants—a class recruited from convicts, vagabonds, and kidnapped children—produced some confusion. But colonists of position and means soon began to exert an influence opposed to disorder, and through Sir Francis Wyatt the Company promised to stand by its grant of free institutions.


28. Charles I. and the Virginia Burgesses.—In 1622 the colonists endured a loss of three hundred settlers, from an attack by the Indians whom they had maltreated. The collapse of the Company (1624) made Virginia a crown colony, dependent on the king, who was succeeded the next year (1625) by his son, Charles I. Charles, needing money in order to be able to govern without his Parliament, tried to get a profit out of a monopoly of the tobacco trade, but the colonial assembly, or Burgesses, as they were called, withstood him (1629). The convening of this assembly to discuss such a matter was an important precedent in the government of the crown colonies; but the assembly, although it could resist the king’s demand, could not prevent a royal governor like Sir John Harvey from making himself obnoxious.[24]


Henry Hudson.

29. Hudson and New Amsterdam.—In the autumn of 1609 Henry Hudson,[25] an English seaman employed by the Dutch East India Company, sailed up the river now called by his name, as far as the site of Albany. He was searching for a northwest passage to India; he found instead a good opportunity to trade with the red men, which the Dutch afterward cultivated. By 1615 houses were built on the site of Albany and of the present New York. The fur trade of New Netherland, as the region was named, was turned over to a corporation organized for that purpose, called the New Netherland Company. Politically no steps were taken at first against the English title to the country. In 1621 the Dutch West India Company took up the rôle of the New Netherland Company, and three years later sent over a number of colonists. These settled mainly near Albany; but there were other centers of population, all of which did a thriving fur trade with the Indians.


30. Organization of the Dutch Colony.—In 1626 Peter Minuit, director for the Dutch West India Company, purchased the Island of Manhattan from the Indians for a trifling amount (about twenty-five dollars), and made the town of New Amsterdam, afterward New York, the center of government. In 1629 the Company obtained a new charter and proceeded to develop a semi-feudal system of land tenure among the colonists. Individuals, styled “Patroons” (patrons), were allowed to buy tracts of land from the Indians and to settle colonists upon them. For every colony of fifty persons the Patroon was granted a large tract for himself; and as he was given political and judicial power over his colonists, New Netherland was soon in the hands of a powerful landed aristocracy, some families of which have retained a certain prestige down to the present time.

New Amsterdam.


31. The Plymouth Colony.—The London Company and the Dutch West India Company had now established promising colonies, but the Plymouth Company had done nothing since their unsuccessful attempt in 1607. Seven years later, Captain John Smith had made a voyage along the northern coast and given the region the name of New England. Other voyages added to geographical knowledge and developed the fisheries, but the more southerly colonies for some time attracted all intending settlers, and the reorganized Plymouth Company of 1620 might have fared poorly had not accident favored them. This accident was nothing less than the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers at Plymouth Rock instead of somewhere within the jurisdiction of the London Company, as they at first intended.


32. The Pilgrims in Holland.—The causes that led the Pilgrims to the New World were briefly as follows. There were large numbers of English Protestants who thought that the Established Church of England had not sufficiently broken away from the Church of Rome, especially in regard to the forms of worship. Such dissatisfied Protestants were called Puritans, and those of their number who refused to commune with the Church of England were further known as Dissenters. Those Dissenters who were ruled by elders, according to the system of Calvin and Knox, were known as Presbyterians. Such as desired each congregation to be independent were called Separatists, or Brownists, or Independents. The Pilgrim Fathers were Separatists who, in order to escape persecution, had fled from the village of Scrooby to Holland. The emigrants, headed by their pastor, John Robinson, and their elder, William Brewster, numbered about one hundred. Settling first at Amsterdam, then at Leyden, they were joined by other refugees, and lived peacefully by their labors.


33. Movement of Pilgrims to America.—These Pilgrims naturally did not wish their children to become Dutchmen; so their minds turned to America. Securing a grant of land from the London Company and financial aid from London capitalists who became partners in the enterprise, they collected their effects and sailed to their new home in the Mayflower.[26] They sighted Cape Cod on November 9, 1620. The captain, for some reason, would not sail farther southward; so after exploring the coast, the emigrants, who had already formed themselves into a body politic under a very liberal written agreement, landed at Plymouth (December 21, 1620).


34. Experiences of the Pilgrims.—Although the winter was mild, the colonists had much difficulty in obtaining shelter and food, and great loss of life was the result, Deacon John Carver, the first governor, being among the victims. William Bradford, one of the finest characters in our history, succeeded him as governor. His courage and that of his people, who believed firmly that they had the support of God, enabled the colony to pull through the crisis. Huts and a fort were built, land was cleared, and provisions and fuel laid in for the next winter. In November, 1621, fifty more of the Leyden people arrived. These were a burden to the colonists for a time, since the supply of food was small; and distribution was made, as at Jamestown, from the common stock. Settlers continued to be sent out by the London partners, but as a rule they came empty handed.


Miles Standish.

35. Success of the Pilgrims.—The colony nevertheless flourished under a patent it had obtained from the Plymouth Company. It owed much of its success to Bradford, who was often elected to the governorship, and to Captain Miles Standish, a brave soldier, not a Separatist, who was especially useful in managing the Indians. Various neighboring settlements of Englishmen who ridiculed the strict customs of the Pilgrims could not be easily dealt with; but finally the chief offenders, Thomas Morton and his associates at Merrymount, who had furnished the Indians with firearms, were put down with a stern hand. Meanwhile the communal system was abandoned for individual allotments of land. At about the same time (1627) the colonists purchased the share of the London capitalists in the enterprise.


36. Government of the Pilgrims.—They governed themselves at first by a primary assembly, then by a general court composed of two delegates from each township, elected by popular vote, together with the governor and representatives, called assistants. In 1636 a special code of laws was adopted; but on the whole the government remained as simple as were the habits of the God-fearing, thrifty people, who in many ways set an example of steadiness and perseverance to all the other colonists. It was, however, a very small settlement, and after various failures to secure its perpetuation through a royal charter, it was finally merged, in 1691, with Massachusetts[27]60).


John Endicott.

37. The Puritans and the Founding of Massachusetts.—In 1623 some merchants of Dorchester, England, sent out a colony to the coast of Maine, which for some reason was diverted to the site of the present Gloucester in Massachusetts. Three years later the colony was almost abandoned; but John White, the Puritan rector of Trinity Church, Dorchester, fearing the aggressions of the Crown in ecclesiastical matters, advised the remaining settlers to continue at Salem, whither they had migrated, and immediately laid plans in England for planting a permanent colony. Two years later a patent was obtained from the Plymouth Company for a strip of coast land, and John Endicott[28] led sixty persons to Salem. In 1629 the owners of the patent, who still lived in England, were organized as a Company and given a charter by the king. This charter provided for popular election of the governor and other officers, for a “general court,” or assembly, as well as for the passage of laws not conflicting with those of England.


John Winthrop.

38. Government of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay.—The new “Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England” was ostensibly to engage in trade, but in reality its founders intended to form a religious commonwealth. This could be easily done, since somehow or other no proviso that the Company should have its headquarters in England was inserted in the charter. Thus it was possible to transport the Company bodily to New England, and this a number of prominent Puritans, at a meeting held at Cambridge in 1629, agreed to do. There was to be no violent separation from the Established Church except such as was caused by distance; but uncongenial practices would be avoided, and the heavy hand of Archbishop Laud, then the strenuous Primate of England, would hardly reach across the sea. Thus many men of wealth and education, whose conservatism would naturally have prevented their taking rash steps in their opposition to the Crown, were led to join in the Massachusetts enterprise. In April, 1630, eleven vessels sailed for America, and by the end of the year about a thousand persons had emigrated to the new colony and founded such towns as Boston, Charlestown, and Watertown. They chose as governor a wealthy and highly educated Suffolk gentleman, John Winthrop,[29] and under his able administration the colony began a career of great prosperity and importance.

References.General Works: To the list already given may be added: Bryant and Gay, Popular History of the United States; H. C. Lodge, Short History of the English Colonies in America; Richard Frothingham, Rise of the Republic of the United States.

Special Works: J. Fiske, Beginnings of New England; J. Fiske, Old Virginia and Her Neighbors; J. G. Palfrey, History of New England; W. B. Weeden, Economic History of New England; P. A. Bruce. Economic History of Virginia; A. Brown, Genesis of the United States; J. E. Cooke, Virginia (“American Commonwealths”); R. C. Winthrop, Life and Letters of John Winthrop; E. Eggleston, Transit of Civilization.

Standard state and colonial histories, such as Hutchinson’s Massachusetts and Belknap’s New Hampshire, may also be used, as well as biographies of colonial worthies. For documents, consult Macdonald’s Select Charters Illustrative of American History, 1606–1775. Illustrative specimens of the earliest historical writings, such as Bradford’s “History of the Plymouth Colony” and Winthrop’s “History of Massachusetts” will be found in Old South Leaflets, Hart’s American History told by Contemporaries, Stedman and Hutchinson’s Library of American Literature, and Trent and Wells’ Colonial Prose and Poetry. See Channing and Hart’s Guide. Many books relating to colonial life and manners have been published recently, but Edward Eggleston’s articles in the Century Magazine (Vols. III.–VIII.) will probably be sufficient for most purposes. Longfellow’s The Courtship of Miles Standish should be read in connection with this chapter.

A noted English adventurer; born, 1579; died, 1632. Fought in the Netherlands and against the Turks; joined the expedition to Virginia, 1606–07; on the voyage he was imprisoned, but after landing became practical head of the colony; explored the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries; returned to England in 1609; explored the coast of New England in 1614. He left voluminous and romantic accounts of his exploits.

Born about 1595; died, 1617. Daughter of the Indian chief Powhatan. Smith reports that when he was taken prisoner by Powhatan and was about to be put to death, Pocahontas placed her own head in the way of the executioner’s club. This may have been a sign that she wished to have Smith spared that he might become her husband. It is at least certain that Smith was sent back to Jamestown, and that Pocahontas afterward befriended the colonists. She was converted to Christianity in 1613, and christened Rebecca; married John Rolfe in 1614; went to England in 1616, and was presented at the court of James I. as Princess Lady Rebecca. From her have descended many illustrious families of Virginia.

The Privy Council ordered Nicholas Ferrar, deputy treasurer of the Company, to hand over all books and papers of the corporation. Ferrar, having in view the future justification of his colleagues and himself, had the records copied and intrusted to the keeping of the Earl of Southampton, the Company’s treasurer, who had been elected against the wishes of King James. In 1667 the copy was sold to William Byrd of Virginia. Then it passed to Rev. William Stith, one of the earliest Virginian historians, then to Peyton Randolph, president of the Continental Congress, then to Thomas Jefferson, and finally, in 1814, on the sale of Jefferson’s library, to the government of the United States. It is now in the Library of Congress and fills two folio volumes. See Fiske’s Old Virginia and Her Neighbors, I. chap. vi.

Harvey came to Virginia in 1629, but by 1635 he was ousted from office by the Burgesses, and forced to go to England to appeal to the king, who sent him back. Four years later, however, Charles, in order to ingratiate himself with his tobacco-growing subjects, removed Harvey.

One of the boldest of English navigators, born about 1580; explored the coast of Greenland in 1607; in 1609 skirted the coast of Labrador, and turning southward discovered the Hudson; in 1610 entered the strait and bay which were named for him; but his crew mutinied and put him, with seven companions, adrift. They were never heard of again.

It is worth noting that the Mayflower was not the only vessel of this expedition as it was first arranged. The companion ship, Speedwell, had an accident, and was obliged to return.

It should be remembered that while the Pilgrims were Puritans, most of the Puritans who settled in Massachusetts were far from being Pilgrims. The importance attaching to the Pilgrims in American history is due mainly to the priority of their landing and to the picturesqueness of their early history.

Born about 1588; died, 1665. In 1628 came to Massachusetts Bay as governor, in which capacity he acted till the Company was established and transferred to New England in 1630; from 1641 to 1644 and from 1651 to 1665 (except 1654) was deputy governor; in 1645 was appointed to the highest command of the colonial army, and in 1658 was president of the colonial commissioners.

Born, 1588; died, 1649. Graduated at Trinity College, Cambridge; opposed the Stuarts; was made governor of Massachusetts in 1629; arrived at Salem and Boston in 1630; opposed the younger Vane, but was governor again from 1637 to 1640, and a third time from 1646 to his death. His journal “History,” and his letters are among the most valuable historical documents of New England.


spread of plantations, 1630–1689.


First Lord Baltimore.

39. The First Lord Baltimore.—Among the most important counsellors of James I. was his Secretary of State, George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore,[30] who had been connected with both the London and Plymouth Companies. His interest in colonial matters was such that he obtained a patent for a colony in Newfoundland; but the enterprise failed in spite of his personal efforts (1621). Later he tried to get a footing in Virginia with some of his fellow-religionists (for he was a stanch Roman Catholic); but the Protestant settlers would not have them (1629). Then he secured a charter from King Charles I. for a tract which, although north of the Potomac River, was within the original bounds of Virginia. The new province was named Maryland, after Queen Henrietta Maria. Lord Baltimore died before he could utilize his grant; but his son, Cecilius Calvert, inherited it and became almost a feudal sovereign in the new region. He could declare war, appoint all officers, and confer titles. The freemen of the colony were to assist him in making laws which required no supervision in England; and the colonists were granted an unprecedented amount of religious liberty.


Cecilius Calvert,
Second Lord Baltimore.

40. The Growth of Maryland.—In November, 1633, Leonard Calvert, brother of Cecilius, crossed the ocean with two hundred colonists, and the next year the town of St. Mary’s was founded. Trouble soon arose with a prominent Virginian, William Claiborne, who had previously established a colony on Kent Island, within Baltimore’s jurisdiction. Claiborne was finally expelled, and the colonists, although many of them were Protestants, settled down peacefully. Disputes, however, soon arose with Cecilius Calvert over laws which the freemen insisted on passing; but no serious trouble occurred until the Civil War broke out in England. Then the Protestants gained the upper hand, and in 1645 Leonard Calvert was forced to flee to Virginia. He soon returned, however, and governed until his death, in 1647. After this, considerable confusion ensued; and when Virginia had been secured for the Parliamentarians (§ 42), Claiborne, who had cherished his grievances, compelled Governor Stone of Maryland to renounce his allegiance to Lord Baltimore. When Stone repudiated this agreement, Claiborne, who was a parliamentary commissioner, with the aid of an armed force deposed him, and Maryland passed under the control of the Protestants, who would not allow Roman Catholics to vote or hold office. Cromwell, however, forbade interference with the rights of the Second Lord Baltimore, and Stone, the latter’s legal representative, endeavored to overthrow the Puritan government of the colony, but was defeated in a battle at Providence in 1655. Two years later, Baltimore, through the favor of the English Parliamentarians, recovered his proprietorship and obtained control of Maryland, after a compromise had been made with the Puritan colonists and their Virginia abettors. Greater privileges were granted to the freemen, and there was a general religious toleration. Then followed the excellent administration for fourteen years (1661–1675) of Charles Calvert, the eldest son of Cecilius, who at the end of that period became the third Lord Baltimore. During his governorship many Quakers and foreign immigrants were attracted to the colony, which produced fine crops, notably of tobacco.


41. Revolts of Fendall and Coode.—In 1681 there was a slight revolt, led by a demagogue named Josias Fendall, who had previously been treacherous to the proprietor. He was aided by John Coode, a retired clergyman, and by some Virginians. The uprising was easily put down and would not have made headway had not the people been disturbed by an unpopular local law about the suffrage and by religious and economic legislation in England (§ 43). Another revolt in 1689, led by Coode, was more successful. But in two years the revolutionists were driven from power, and Maryland was made a royal province, the proprietor becoming merely a landlord.[31]


42. Virginia under Berkeley’s First Administration.—We have seen that the royalist governor, Harvey, caused the Virginians at first to regret the gentle rule of the London Company. In 1639, however, Sir Francis Wyatt succeeded Harvey, and affairs began to improve. Three years later, Sir William Berkeley began his long and checkered career as the king’s representative. He was a brave, well-educated gentleman, but full of passions and prejudices that often brought him into conflict with the colonists. His opposition to all efforts to make the colonial government more liberal was intense. He disliked Roman Catholics and hated Puritans; hence such followers of Baltimore and such New Englanders as happened to enter Virginia’s borders, were soon made uncomfortable, as were also the Indians, who were vigorously put down in 1644. Berkeley and most of the Virginians sympathized with Charles I. in his struggle against Parliament to such an extent that after the death of that monarch the governor invited Charles II. to come to America. Charles was too wise to accept, but several thousand cavaliers did come, and thus the colony waxed strong.[32] Parliament did not fail, however, to assert its supremacy. It appointed, as its commissioners, William Claiborne, who had played such a disturbing part in Maryland affairs and was an enterprising trader, and Richard Bennett, a man of prominence and excellent character. It also sent a frigate to the Chesapeake; and with no struggle Berkeley was superseded in 1652 by Bennett, who was elected by the Burgesses. He and his successors ruled well, on the whole, and the colony prospered.


43. Virginia under Berkeley’s Second Administration.—With the Restoration in 1660, Berkeley, who had been living quietly on his estate, was recalled, and then a period of disturbance set in. Severe measures against the Puritans alienated them. Enforcement of the Navigation Act, which compelled colonists to ship tobacco to English ports alone and to receive European goods only from vessels loaded in England, bore heavily on all classes. Then again, Charles II.’s grant of the province to two of his dissolute courtiers, Lords Arlington and Culpepper, naturally caused indignation. At the same time the bad condition of the church in the colony, and the corruption of the public officials, called for correction. The Puritans tried to revolt in 1663, but were suppressed, and matters grew worse. Berkeley became despotic and refused to call a new House of Burgesses, the old House elected in 1660 holding over and actually passing a law restricting the suffrage under which new elections would be held. To crown all, the Indians began to murder frontier settlers; but the governor, who feared printing presses and schools, feared the native militia also, and would not allow them to attack the savages.


44. Bacon’s Rebellion.—At this juncture, Nathaniel Bacon, a young member of the council, brave, honest, and hot-headed, raised, without orders, a private force and defeated the Indians (1676). Berkeley resented this unauthorized action and declared Bacon and his followers rebels. For several months a petty civil war went on, good fortune being with Bacon, who drove Berkeley out of Jamestown, and burned the place. The revolt would not have reached such dimensions had not the general situation been intolerable; but it was bound to be practically local, whatever may have been Bacon’s schemes for a general colonial uprising against the Crown. Even as a local movement it was soon ended, for Bacon’s premature death (October, 1676), whether from poison or fever, left no one to oppose Berkeley. The latter returned to power and continued his tyrannical course, executing no less than twenty-three of the leading rebels. This disgusted Charles II., who had shown much mildness toward his rebellious subjects in Great Britain. So Berkeley was recalled to England in 1677, and died there shortly after in disgrace.


45. Berkeley’s Successors.—The Virginians hailed his departure with bonfires; but in spite of his faults, Berkeley’s career is a pathetic one. He had not moved with the times. His successors in office, on the other hand, moved too fast, for they imitated the corruption of the court at London and overawed the colonists in addition to taking money from them. There were six of these governors in twenty-one years. They quarreled with the Burgesses and kept the colonists in a ferment of riots and hangings; yet the population grew, and some progress was made. A new capital was established at Williamsburg, and the College of William and Mary was founded there in 1692 by Rev. James Blair.


Sir Henry Vane.

46. The Progress of Massachusetts.—Although the colony of Massachusetts Bay had a most vigorous start, it was not without its troubles from the beginning. The governor’s “assistants” soon tried to concentrate power in their own hands, but the freemen (who, by law, must be church members) resisted, and a representative house was inaugurated. Voting by ballot was introduced in 1634, but it was not until ten years later that the administration of affairs was thoroughly organized under a governor and two houses. The migration of such leading Puritans as Sir Henry Vane the younger,[33] and the proposed coming of others, did not serve to put down the democratic tendencies of the colony, which was daily increasing in population and wealth, much of the latter being due to the fisheries and the coasting trade. As a rule, the colonists were of the educated middle class, thoroughly religious and devoted to their pastors, many of whom were very able men. One of these clergymen, John Harvard,[34] by means of a legacy and the gift of his library, assured the founding of the first college in the country, which has since grown into the great university at Cambridge that bears his name.


47. Troubles between Massachusetts and the Crown.—Meanwhile persons who had been driven out for not conforming with the ideas of church and religion held by the majority of the citizens of Massachusetts, had complained to Archbishop Laud, and that prelate and other councilors had passed laws for securing religious uniformity, obviously aimed at Massachusetts. The colony was soon up in arms, but dispatched Edward Winslow to England to try first the force of pleading. The breaking up of the Plymouth Company complicated matters, and after legal proceedings the colony’s charter was declared null and void. The colonists silently refused, however, to surrender their charter, and were saved from further external trouble, for a time, by the civil turmoils in England itself.


48. Domestic Difficulties.—Internal troubles beset them also, for they were as determined as their persecutors to have religious uniformity of their own kind. They drove out the noble pastor of Salem, Roger Williams, because he was opposed to giving political power to church members only. They disliked, moreover, his advocacy of liberal principles of toleration, as well as his theories limiting the king’s power to grant lands in America. Williams escaped in the winter of 1636, thanks partly to the kindness of Indians, to whom he was always a friend; in the spring of the same year he founded Providence Plantation on Narragansett Bay. Then Massachusetts was thrown into a ferment by a Mrs. Anne Hutchinson, who preached certain theological doctrines distasteful to the mass of the Puritans, although agreeable to some of their leading ministers. In 1637 she was banished; whereupon some of her adherents betook themselves to the island of Aquidneck, afterward called Rhode Island, where she subsequently joined them. The affair seems ridiculous now, but it disturbed the colony and marked the beginning of a tyrannical policy of repression that had evil results (§ 55).


49. Foundation of Rhode Island.—This intolerance led, however, to the more rapid settlement of New England, and was thus in part a power for good. The Hutchinsonians founded a town which they called Portsmouth, and thither, as well as to Providence, many discontented people flocked from Massachusetts, both settlements receiving bad names in consequence. In 1639 Newport was founded by Portsmouth people who dissented from Mrs. Hutchinson; but the next year the two towns united to form the colony of Rhode Island. In 1644 all the towns in the region joined to form the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, under a charter obtained by Roger Williams from the Parliamentarians. A separate charter was later obtained by a faction for Newport and Portsmouth; but finally, in 1654, the single colony was restored under Williams. It was a home of toleration, and as such reflects credit upon Roger Williams, its founder; but it was for a long time a home also of fanatics of all sorts.


50. The Connecticut Settlements.—Meanwhile settlements had been made by Massachusetts men[35] on the Connecticut River (1635), which angered the powerful Pequot Indians and drove them to war. The Narragansetts were kept from the war-path by the entreaties of Roger Williams, but the Pequots were strong enough to harass the Connecticut towns of Hartford, Windsor, Saybrook, and Weathersfield. The Connecticut settlers appealed for aid to Massachusetts and Plymouth. A small army was raised which, under Captains John Mason and John Underhill, stormed the Indian village and almost exterminated the tribe (1637).


51. Free Government in Connecticut.—For a short time Connecticut owed allegiance to Massachusetts, but independence was assured in 1639. The people adopted a written constitution, liberal in its terms. This was the first of its kind in America, and was chiefly the work of Rev. Thomas Hooker of Hartford. In 1638 a colony was founded at New Haven by a congregation of Englishmen under Theophilus Eaton and John Davenport. Other congregations, all ultra-Puritanic, formed towns around, which were at first independent, but afterward united with New Haven. The new colony was weak, however, and was finally joined to Connecticut in 1665.


52. Evolution of New England.—Four years previously Massachusetts had absorbed the last of the towns founded in the colony of Maine, which Sir Ferdinando Gorges, a prominent member of the Plymouth Company, had been endeavoring to develop since 1622. The colony of towns planted on the Piscataqua under the grant made by the Plymouth Company to John Mason in 1629, which afterward became known as New Hampshire, was incorporated with Massachusetts by 1643.[36] Thus one by one the New England colonies were being evolved and developed, Massachusetts, however, retaining her primacy. While local differences were soon to be detected, the people of the entire region were one in their main characteristics. They were religious after the Puritan fashion. They were brave and enterprising in extending their borders and their influence. They were thrifty and resolute in extracting wealth from their rugged soil and their storm-tossed waters.


53. Formation of the Confederacy.—Similarity of habits, union of interests, and contiguity of territory naturally led the New England colonies early to think of establishing some form of political union. In 1637 the Connecticut people, who were menaced by the Dutch on the one hand and by the French Canadians and Indians on the other, made overtures for union to the people of Massachusetts. The latter were indifferent, but the proposition was renewed in 1639 and in 1643, and was acted upon favorably in the latter year. One reason for the final success of the movement for union was the belief that the civil turmoil in England might react on this side of the Atlantic, especially if the illiberal king should win. Accordingly, in 1643 a written constitution bound the colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven in a “perpetual league of friendship and amity for offense and defense,” under the name of “The United Colonies of New England.” Each colony was independent in local matters, and each contributed two members to a commission which determined such large matters of common interest as declaring war, forming leagues, etc. In case of disagreement among the commissioners, questions were to be decided by the legislatures of the colonies.


54. The Work of the Confederacy.—The Confederacy thus established lasted theoretically forty-one years, but was really efficient only during the first twenty. The chief difficulty it had to contend with was the disproportionate burden laid upon Massachusetts, which had but one vote and yet was more heavily taxed in men and money than any other member of the league. This led to friction, but in the main, Massachusetts, being stronger than the other colonies, succeeded in directing the general policy. This was on the whole exclusive, since the people of Rhode Island and Maine were not allowed to enter the league. There was a curious disregard of England’s wishes in the matter of such a combination of dependent colonies, but at that time England had enough to do in looking after herself. Massachusetts was particularly jealous of English interference, and did not even proclaim the Protectorate of so stanch a Puritan as Cromwell. The Confederacy need not, indeed, have attracted much notice, for the commissioners acted mainly as a committee to look after the general prosperity of the colonies. But Massachusetts showed not a little boldness in passing laws against the raising of troops in the interest of King Charles. There was also, as was to be expected, quite a show of religious independence. The Presbyterians, although for a short time triumphant in England, were not so fortunate in Massachusetts; for in 1648 a synod was held at Cambridge, which defined and established a Congregational system, the principles of which have been strong in New England ever since, and have played an important part in the evolution of American democracy.


55. Trouble with the Dutch.—Meanwhile the settlers in New Haven and Connecticut came into unpleasant relations with the Dutch at New Amsterdam, on account of settlements pushed out in the direction of the latter. When England and Holland went to war in 1652, the Connecticut colonies tried to make the other members of the Confederacy engage in hostilities with the Dutch in America, but Massachusetts resisted. Cromwell sent over a fleet to Boston, which only partially succeeded in coercing Massachusetts; but before the eight hundred New Englanders gathered to attack New Amsterdam could be utilized, news came that England and Holland had made peace. Another instance of local troubles between Connecticut and Massachusetts was due to a war of trade duties between the two colonies, which came near breaking down the union. Still another cause of commotion was the arrival in Massachusetts of a few members of the newly established society of Friends, or Quakers, who astonished the staid citizens by their extravagant opposition to the state religion. Some laws were passed against them, and four were actually hanged on Boston Common. Plymouth and New Haven also treated them harshly, but Connecticut indulged in little persecution, and Rhode Island in none at all.


56. Dissolution of the New England Confederacy.—The practical breaking up of the Confederacy followed the restoration of Charles II., and was due to the fact that the king suspected that the colonies wished to separate completely from England. They had been slow to recognize his supremacy, and had harbored two of the judges that had condemned his father. At first Massachusetts managed to stave off the crisis; but in 1664 the king sent over four royal commissioners to investigate colonial affairs. After conquering the Dutch port of New Amsterdam, with the aid of Connecticut and of the troops they brought over, the commissioners quarreled with the people of Massachusetts with regard to their charter. The General Court of the colony evaded giving an answer to the king’s demands, and his agents returned home, having accomplished little. Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Plymouth were more submissive, and the first named was rewarded with a liberal charter and with the annexation of New Haven. This interference of the king with American affairs greatly weakened the Confederacy; besides, the new generation that was growing up probably did not feel the same alienation from England that their fathers had felt.


57. King Philip’s War.—Meanwhile there had been trouble with the Indians, although the New Englanders had treated them better than any of the other colonists had done—a fact strikingly exemplified in the life work of the Apostle John Eliot, who translated the Bible into a written language rather unskillfully invented for them by himself. Troubles arose in connection with Alexander and Philip, two sons of Massasoit, the friendly chief of the Pokanokets. Alexander died at Plymouth, and Philip thought the colonists had poisoned him; hence he planned a general Indian uprising, making his headquarters on Mount Hope, a peninsula running into Narragansett Bay. After many fiendish outrages had been committed on towns in Plymouth and Massachusetts, the federal commissioners enlisted a volunteer army. In December, 1675, this army attacked a palisaded fort of the Indians at what is now South Kingston, Rhode Island, and slew about one thousand warriors, half the force within the walls. Philip still continued the struggle; but the following August he was killed, to the great rejoicing of the whole of New England; for the two years’ war, since known as King Philip’s War (1675–1676), had been a frightful experience.


58. Loss of Massachusetts’ Charter.—Their own king was now to give the people of Massachusetts further trouble. Massachusetts, by extending her dominion over New Hampshire and Maine, had involved herself in disputes with the proprietors of those colonies; Church of England people were enraged at the fact that she would not tolerate their form of religious service or give them the suffrage; she was also charged with violating the navigation laws. Aggrieved at these things, Charles made New Hampshire a royal province in 1679; but his governor proved a tyrant, the people rebelled, and in six years the sway of Massachusetts was resumed. Control of Maine was lost for three years (1665–1668), but later on Massachusetts shrewdly purchased the rights of the proprietors over it. Charles intended to give Maine to his son, the Duke of Monmouth, so he had an additional pretext for demanding that Massachusetts should make a fair answer to all his complaints—a course of action which the General Court of the colony continued to evade. In 1684, weary of the evasions of Massachusetts, he caused the old trading charter to be annulled.


Sir Edmund Andros.

59. The Tyranny of Andros.—Massachusetts was now a royal colony, and in one year it exchanged masters for the worse. James II. was a devoted Roman Catholic, who had no sympathy with New England Puritans. In 1686 he sent over Sir Edmund Andros,[37] as governor of Massachusetts, Plymouth, New Hampshire, and Maine. Andros was a servant worthy of his master, vexatious and tyrannical. He demanded the charters of Rhode Island and Connecticut; his demand was acceded to in the former colony, but in the latter it is said that the important document was hid at Hartford, in a tree since known as the “Charter Oak.” The governor was not to be foiled, however, for he declared Connecticut to be under his jurisdiction, and took in New York and the Jerseys (§ 68) as well. Thus he had the largest territory ever ruled by a provincial governor in America. He held Episcopal services in Congregational churches, suspended the writ of habeas corpus, levied illegal taxes, and made himself thoroughly obnoxious.


60. Fall of Andros: New Charters.—In the spring of 1689 news came of the accession of William and Mary, and the tyrant of the colonies was driven out, just as James had been from England. The old charters were restored for a time, but in 1691 Plymouth and Acadia (§ 98, note 1) were added to Massachusetts, and in 1692 a new charter was given the colony. By this instrument the people were still permitted to vote for representatives; but the governor was appointed by the Crown, and religious qualifications for the suffrage were abolished. Massachusetts was allowed to keep Maine, but New Hampshire was made a separate colony. Connecticut and Rhode Island recovered their charters, and the century ended with New England comparatively quiet and loyal.


61. The Dutch Settlers.—The Dutch West India Company fared badly at the hands of its own members, the “Patroons,” who shut it out from trading with their estates. It also had trouble, as we have seen, with New Englanders at Hartford, and likewise with the Virginians, who came trading as far north as the Delaware River. With the Indians, too, there were serious disturbances, chiefly with the Algonquins, through the mismanagement of Governor Kieft (1643–1645).


62. Attempts to check the Patroons.—The Company sought to check the power of the “Patroons” by establishing communities more or less independent of them, but the attempt did not thoroughly succeed. Political disturbances were also due in large measure to the overbearing conduct of governors, and to the lack of proper guarantees of popular liberty. In 1641, however, a council of twelve deputies from the settlements was called in to assist the governor, and a little later, under Peter Stuyvesant,[38] this was made a self-perpetuating council. Government was rendered specially difficult on account of the mixture of population in the colony. For example, so many French Huguenots had fled thither that documents were often printed in both French and Dutch.


Peter Stuyvesant.

63. Swedish Settlement.—Meanwhile difficulties arose between the Dutch and the Swedes; for in 1638 the South Company of Sweden, which had been chartered under Gustavus Adolphus by an enterprising man, William Usselinx, sent out a former employee of the Dutch Company, Peter Minuit, to found a colony. He erected a fort on the site of what is now Wilmington, Delaware, and called the country New Sweden, under the protests, of course, of the Dutch, whose territorial claims had been invaded. New Englanders tried to establish themselves on the Schuylkill and in the present New Jersey, but were soon driven out. The Swedes persevered until Stuyvesant built a fort near one of theirs, not far from what is now Newcastle, Delaware; and four years later (1655) the Swedish Company was forced to give up its attempt at colonization.


64. New York taken by the English.—These successes of the Dutch, and the fact that their territory cut off New England from Virginia and gave Dutch traders, by means of the Hudson River, the best possible opportunity of reaching the Indians, made it impossible for England long to acquiesce in the continuance of Dutch rule in the New World. There had already been trouble in Connecticut, on Long Island, and on the Schuylkill (§§ 55 and 61), and things came nearly to a crisis in 1654, when Cromwell sent out a fleet to take New Netherland. But peace between England and Holland delayed the crisis for ten years. In 1664 Charles II., as we have seen (§ 56), renewed the English claim to the territory, and acting on his orders Colonel Nicolls menaced New Amsterdam with a small fleet, which carried English regulars and Connecticut volunteers. Governor Stuyvesant wished to hold out, but the townsmen surrendered in haste. The other Dutch settlements yielded rapidly, and the whole Atlantic coast from Maine to Florida thus became English. New Netherland was now called New York, in honor of its proprietor, the Duke of York, Charles’s brother—afterward James II. Nicolls was made governor, and the prosperity of the colony was greatly augmented.


65. Government of New York.—Dutch customs were on the whole little changed, but the form of government was modified in accordance with English precedents. The towns were provided with a local government, under an elected constable and overseers. Several towns formed a “riding,”[39] under the jurisdiction of a sheriff; later, the ridings became counties. Thus New York had an intermediate system between the town government of New England and the county government of Virginia (§§ 82 and 89). The conduct of colonial affairs, however, depended entirely on the governor and his council. The early governors presented much the same contrasts of character as had been seen in the other colonies. Some were excellent, others were tyrannical. On the whole, the colony managed to grow and prosper, although in 1673, when England and Holland were at war, a Dutch fleet captured the town of New York. The next year the province was given back to the English by treaty, and, curiously enough, the first governor under the new English rule—Edmund Andros, the later tyrant of New England—gave the colonists an excellent administration. After a few years the people clamored for greater political privileges. An electoral assembly of deputies and certain reforms were in consequence granted by the Duke of York; but when he came to the throne as James II., he restored the old illiberal system.


66. Leisler’s Insurrection.—Relief was at hand, however; for on the news of the accession of William and Mary a German shopkeeper, Jacob Leisler, put himself at the head of the militia and drove out Francis Nicholson, who was acting as deputy for Andros. Leisler was a rash patriot, who would not give up his irregularly acquired power. Two years later he was forced to surrender, and was executed under circumstances not altogether creditable to the regular authorities. Leisler’s administration is notable for his having issued a call for a colonial congress, which came together at the town of New York, on May 1, 1690, and discussed French and Indian affairs. After Leisler, the people of New York suffered at the hands of a corrupt governor, Benjamin Fletcher, who was in league with the numerous pirates of the period; but at the end of the century his successor, the Earl of Bellomont, put down piracy and corruption, and restored order generally.


67. The Settlement of the Jerseys.—Meanwhile the country south of New York and east of the Delaware River had acquired the name of New Jersey, through the fact that in 1664 the Duke of York granted it to Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret, the latter of whom had been governor of the island of Jersey during the English civil war. The region for which Dutch, Swedes, and English had already struggled was still scantily populated; but the proprietors gave it a liberal form of government, and sent out as first governor Philip Carteret, nephew of Sir George, with a body of emigrants who settled at Elizabeth.


William Penn.

68. Disturbances in the Jerseys.—Other settlers came in, and by 1668 a code of laws of remarkable severity was adopted by the delegates of the people. Disturbances arose over the subject of the quit-rents paid by freeholders in discharge of services, and Lord Berkeley was so disgusted that he sold his share in the province to certain Quakers who wished to secure for their co-religionists a place of refuge in the New World. William Penn[40] and some associates shortly afterward acquired this interest. Then a division was made between Carteret and the new proprietors, the Quakers getting less than half, which formed West New Jersey. Here they set up a liberal government, which attracted several hundred immigrants. In 1682, two years after Carteret’s death, William Penn and others purchased his interest in East New Jersey, and established another liberal government. Governor Andros of New York endeavored to assert his jurisdiction over both the Jerseys, but his attempts were defeated until 1686, when James II., by writs of quo warranto,[41] forced the surrender of the patents. The Jerseymen, however, resisted all Andros’s attempts to tax them, and also quarreled with the proprietors, whose land rights had not been affected by the loss of their political powers. Finally, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, the proprietors, worn out with the struggle, surrendered all their rights to the Crown, and the two provinces were united into the royal colony of New Jersey.[42]


69. The Founding of Pennsylvania.—William Penn’s interest in the colonization of West Jersey led to his taking a greater part in American affairs. In 1670 his father, an admiral in the English navy, died, and left him a claim against the government, in compensation for which he induced Charles II. to give him a charter for forty thousand square miles in America (1681). This region was named Pennsylvania in honor of the admiral, against the modest wishes of the proprietor. Penn at once offered liberal terms to colonists, and promised a thoroughly equitable government. Later in 1681, three shiploads of Quakers emigrated, and the next year Penn himself came over and founded Philadelphia. He soon convened an assembly, and a code of laws was drawn up, allowing considerable religious freedom and providing for the humane treatment of the Indians. With these savages Penn, through his shrewdness and kindness, was always successful in his negotiations, and as a result Pennsylvania did not suffer from border warfare.


70. Mixture of Population.—The mixed population for which Pennsylvania has been always noted was present from the beginning. The Dutch had a church within the region now known as Delaware, and settlements of Swedes also existed. This Delaware region came into Penn’s hands through a special grant from the Duke of York. When the whole province was divided into counties, three were made in Pennsylvania proper, and three in the small strip covered by the Duke’s grant, which became known as “The Territories.”


71. Delaware made a Province.—Penn was soon obliged to return to England, and did not come back again till the end of the century, when he paid a two years’ visit. His absence was marked by considerable political disturbance. There were boundary disputes with Maryland, and there was so much trouble in “The Territories” that in 1703 Penn made the latter the separate province of Delaware. Disputes in both provinces continued, however, and lasted, under both him and his heirs, down to the Revolution. Nevertheless, there was a marked and continuous growth in material prosperity.


72. The Settlement of the Carolinas.—As we have seen, attempts had been made to settle in the region between Spanish Florida and Virginia, both by French Huguenots and by Englishmen sent out by Raleigh. But all such efforts had failed. After the founding of Jamestown, hunters and other adventurous spirits wandered through southern Virginia into what Charles I. subsequently granted to Sir Robert Heath as “The Province of Carolina.” This grant was not used, but the Virginia Burgesses authorized exploring expeditions into the new region, and in 1653 some Virginian dissenters who had been harshly treated formed a colony in North Carolina, which they called Albemarle. Other parties, including Quakers and individual settlers, gradually pushed into the section.


73. Grant of the Carolinas to Clarendon and Berkeley.—In 1663 Charles II. turned over the province to a group of favorites, among whom were the famous historian, the Earl of Clarendon, and Sir William Berkeley, the governor of Virginia. The settlers of Albemarle had their land claims recognized, and were given a governor in the person of William Drummond, a Scotchman who had settled in Virginia. South of Albemarle, on the Cape Fear River, a number of emigrants from the island of Barbadoes had planted a colony, known as Clarendon, under the leadership of Sir John Yeamans, who continued as governor under the new proprietors. Thus there were a northern and a southern Carolina almost from the first.


74. Liberality of Proprietors.—The proprietors were very liberal to their colonists. Indeed, in the northern province the first legislature actually felt bold enough to decree that no debts contracted by settlers previous to their coming to Carolina could be collected within its borders,—a proceeding which naturally attracted some not very desirable immigrants.


75. Locke’s Constitutions.—But the proprietors made a great mistake when they intrusted to the celebrated philosopher, John Locke, the task of drawing up a scheme of government for their provinces. He prepared a document known as the “Fundamental Constitutions,” in which he seemed to forget most of the advances toward individual and popular liberty that had been made since the Middle Ages. Various divisions of the territory were to be presided over by orders of nobility known as Landgraves, Caciques, etc. The tenants were called “leetmen,” and could not leave the estate of their lord without his permission, nor could their children be anything but leetmen through all generations. It is needless to say that this scheme for a mediæval aristocracy in a land not yet cleared of forests was doomed to failure, for it at once produced discontent in the settlements, to which that of Charleston (originally Charlestown, founded in 1670) was now added.


76. Progress of the Carolinas.—For some time the proprietors left the settlers of Albemarle, or the North Carolinians, as we may now call them, severely alone, and the people managed to live by means of a rude sort of agriculture and by trade with New England. When governors were appointed for them, troubles at once ensued, and the legislature in 1688 actually drove out Governor Seth Sothel, who by his corruption and tyranny had amply deserved his fate. At Charleston, however, things went much better, and population and trade increased, while the arrival of considerable numbers of French Huguenots added greatly to the moral and intellectual advancement of the settlers. But there were some troubles. For example, the Scotch settlement at Port Royal was completely destroyed by the Spaniards; yet the proprietors would not allow the Carolinians to chastise their enemy. Then, too, the Huguenots were for some time denied political rights, and the numerous dissenters had trouble with the Church of England people. Trade restrictions and the constant presence of pirates in the harbor of Charleston and on the coast were also a source of embarrassment. Finally, there was a series of bad governors, and it was not until 1695, when one of the proprietors, John Archdale, a shrewd and good Quaker, came from England as governor, that things began to improve.

References.—The bibliography is much the same as for Chapter II., with the addition of: David Ramsay, History of South Carolina (2 vols.); Edward McCrady, History of South Carolina (3 vols.); Alexander Johnston, Connecticut (“American Commonwealths”); E. H. Roberts, New York (“American Commonwealths”); W. H. Browne, Maryland (“American Commonwealths”); C. F. Adams, Massachusetts, its Historians and its History; F. L. Hawks, History of North Carolina (2 vols.); J. T. Scharf, History of Delaware (2 vols.); J. T. Scharf, History of Maryland (3 vols.); S. G. Arnold, History of Rhode Island (2 vols.); S. G. Fisher, The True William Penn; W. H. Browne, George Calvert and Cecilius Calvert (“Makers of America”); O. S. Straus, Roger Williams. For both Chapters II. and III., see especially Thwaites, The Colonies, chaps, iv., vi., vii., and ix.

Several interesting novels have their scenes laid in the early colonial period; of these, Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter is the most famous. Cooper’s Water Witch and Simms’s Cassique of Kiowah describe early New York and Charleston. Irving’s History of New York by Diedrich Knickerbocker is practically a work of fiction and is full of humor. For more recent and other older novels, see Channing and Hart’s Guide, § 36 a.

Born, 1582; died, 1632. Graduated at Oxford, 1597; became a Roman Catholic in 1624; obtained a patent (1632) from Charles I. for what is now Delaware and Maryland.

Under royal control religious persecution was allowed, and the colony ceased to flourish until in 1715 the Calverts were again made proprietors. Conditions then improved, and in 1729 Baltimore was founded as a port.

Compare fifteen thousand in 1650 with forty thousand in 1670.

Born, 1612; died, 1662. Noted Puritan statesman who came to Boston in 1635, and became governor the next year; took sides with Mrs. Hutchinson in the famous Antinomian controversy; soon returned to England; entered Parliament, became treasurer of the navy, and was prominent in the impeachment of Strafford; became a prominent leader and frequently opposed Cromwell; presided over the state council in 1659; is believed to have invented “the previous question” in parliamentary practice; on the accession of Charles II., was executed on the general charge of treason.

Harvard died in 1638, having been in the colony only a year.

Plymouth built a fur-trading house at Windsor in 1633; Dutchmen had already settled at Hartford.

It was a royal province from 1679 to 1685, after which it was reunited with Massachusetts.

Born in London, 1637; died, 1714. Governor of New York, 1674 to 1681; seized New Jersey in 1680; appointed governor of New England and New York in 1686, with headquarters at Boston; was deposed in 1689 and sent to England; governor of Virginia, 1692 to 1698.

Last Dutch governor of New Netherlands; born, 1612; died, 1682. Appointed governor in 1647; ruled in arbitrary fashion and encountered much popular opposition; attacked and annexed the Swedish colony of Delaware in 1655; signed a treaty surrendering New Netherlands to the English, September 9, 1664; died on his farm of “Great Bowerie,” which embraced a large part of the present lower New York City.

A term used in Yorkshire, England, for a division of a county.

Born, 1644; died, 1718. Was expelled from Oxford for joining the Quakers; was imprisoned in the Tower for preaching their tenets; received from Charles II. an extensive grant in 1681; took possession of his province and negotiated his famous treaty with Indians in 1682; returned to England in 1684; was deprived of his province in 1686; regained it in 1688; visited America again at the close of the century; during his career in England he did much writing and preaching, was now influential in politics, now under suspicion, had trouble with his settlers in America, and also with members of his own family.

A writ compelling a person or body of persons to show by what authority they hold certain rights or offices.

Until 1738 New Jersey was administered by the governor of New York, through a deputy.


the country at the end of the seventeenth century.


77. Population.—We have now learned that of the thirteen original colonies that formed the United States, all except the youngest, Georgia, had attained individual, or semi-individual, existence by the end of the seventeenth century. The population of New England in 1700 was about one hundred and five thousand, Massachusetts, including Maine, leading with about seventy thousand, and Connecticut coming second with about twenty-five thousand. Rhode Island and New Hampshire were much smaller, containing only six thousand and five thousand respectively. Homogeneity, thrift, piety, and love of liberty characterized the population of the New England colonies, and were the presage of the great development the eighteenth century was to see. The population of the Middle colonies in 1700 was about fifty-nine thousand, New York having twenty-five thousand, the Jerseys fourteen thousand, and Pennsylvania and Delaware about twenty thousand. Homogeneity was characteristic of New Jersey alone, both New York and Pennsylvania having very mixed populations. Thrift characterized all the Middle region; but English enterprise was somewhat tempered by Dutch phlegm and Quaker sobriety. In the Southern colonies (if we may estimate from figures of 1688) there were more than twenty-five thousand persons in Maryland, sixty thousand in Virginia, and about five thousand in the Carolinas. The English race was dominant, but the presence of large numbers of black slaves, who were chiefly fit for work in the fields, checked the enterprise of the whites by confining it practically to agriculture.


78. Social Conditions.—With regard to social conditions, the tendency in the South was to form an aristocracy, based on race and the distinction between manual and other forms of labor. In New England, too, there was an aristocracy, based mainly on education and religion, but also on birth and wealth. In the Middle colonies there were traces of an aristocracy in the “Patroons” of New York and in the masters of the fairly numerous negro slaves. But on the whole, manual labor was held in esteem, and the population was democratic in its tendencies.


79. Political Characteristics of New England.—The aristocracy of New England was unlike any other the world has ever seen. Its members were energetic, unusually well-educated, serious, and full of a sense of responsibility. They filled with distinction the public offices and the professions, especially the ministry. Precedence was allowed them by the merchants, farmers, and mechanics through force of custom, not through the presence of a caste system like that of slavery (although a few slaves were owned), or through the force of laws derived from the feudal system. As the masses of the people increased in wealth and culture, and learned to use the opportunities allowed them by the New World, the power of the aristocracy naturally decreased, although it continued to exert considerable influence well into the nineteenth century.


80. Professional Life.—As was to be expected in such religious communities, the clergy formed the most important section of the aristocracy. They led in all public affairs, down to the struggle for independence, and even beyond it, in spite of the loosening of religious ties that began to make itself felt in the eighteenth century. The other learned professions did not at first reach corresponding importance. There were hardly any trained barristers before the beginning of the eighteenth century, although the magistrates were men of good character and general education. The physicians, like their European brethren, used strange drugs, and prescribed heroic remedies which seem very queer to us now; and they frequently combined their profession with that of the gospel or with the trade of the barber.


81. Mechanic Arts and Commerce.—In the mechanical arts, the New Englanders were more independent than the other colonists. They imported elaborate manufactured products, but supplied themselves with the simpler ones in spite of the repressive effects of English laws. Among the most important industries were mining, timber-cutting, tanning, and distilling. Various needful commodities were manufactured in small quantities, while almost every farmer’s family made homespun cloth for its own consumption, as well as nails and similar articles. Fishing was carried on at great profit, and shipbuilding had developed considerably by the middle of the seventeenth century. The whale fisheries were specially important and attracted many adventurous men. The hardy sailors made both coast and ocean voyages, the trade with the West Indies being of great consequence, since from these islands sugar and molasses were brought home and made into rum.


82. Town Life in New England.—Boston and New Haven were the chief towns, and presented a prosperous appearance. There were many well-kept villages, which were centers of active political life, since those local affairs which were far more important to the inhabitants than the more general business of the colony, were settled by the citizens at town meetings. The houses of the people were on the whole comfortable. Each village had a school for the common branches, and soon good Latin schools were provided. Puritan simplicity prevailed in manners and dress, and, what was better, in conduct, crime being rare. There is practically but one stain on New England character during the early colonial period—the stain of persecution. We have already seen its effects in the religious intolerance displayed against churchmen and Quakers and independent thinkers like Roger Williams; but at the end of the seventeenth century it took an even worse form.


Cotton Mather.

83. The Persecution of the Witches.—Owing to political disturbances, fear of Indians, and the ravages of smallpox epidemics, the inhabitants of Massachusetts, near the end of the seventeenth century, were seized with great despondency. In common with many persons in England and in Germany they believed that the Scriptural injunction, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” was binding upon a modern Christian community. Under the impulse of this belief they began a persecution of many citizens, chiefly old women, for the supposed crime of witchcraft. Trials were held, presided over by learned magistrates; the testimony of frightened children was taken; and in Salem (1692) nineteen persons were hanged, and one pressed to death. Hundreds of others were arrested on suspicion, and for a time the colony seemed completely to have lost its reason. Even such a distinguished scholar and minister as Cotton Mather[43] shared in the frenzy and defended it. But Judge Samuel Sewall (now known for a famous diary descriptive of the life of the period) made a public recantation in church of his share in the frightful business. It was indeed a terrible time, but New England emerged from it safely, and could point in extenuation to many similar outbreaks of popular frenzy in the Old World.


84. Literature.—It has been held, with much show of truth, that only a people, gifted with imagination could have been stirred into such a frenzied state of mind as characterized the New Englanders during the persecution of the witches. Unfortunately, their imaginative powers were employed too exclusively upon religious and theological themes, with the result that although much was written in New England during the seventeenth century, little truly imaginative literature was produced. Drama and fiction were non-existent, and the verse written hardly rose to the dignity of poetry. Mrs. Anne Bradstreet (1613–1672) and the Rev. Michael Wigglesworth (1631–1705, author of a quaint, grewsome poem entitled The Day of Doom) are almost the only poets worthy of mention, and their works are unread to-day. There were, on the other hand, many learned divines, like Thomas Hooker (1586–1647), John Cotton (1585–1652), Roger Williams (1607–1684), and Increase Mather (1639–1723), whose sermons and religious tracts were widely read by their contemporaries; but oblivion has fallen upon them also, save perhaps in the case of Williams. Next in importance to theology stood history, and among the historians the chief place must be given to Governors William Bradford and John Winthrop, who wrote the early annals of their respective colonies of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay. But probably the most able and distinguished writer produced in America during the seventeenth century was the celebrated divine already mentioned, Cotton Mather (1663–1728), who was, as scholar, theologian, and historian, an epitome of the learning of the age. His best-known book, Magnalia Christi Americana (1702), is an ecclesiastical history of New England that is of great value to all students of early American annals. There was a little writing done in the Middle and Southern colonies, but it did not differ in quality from that done in New England and does not demand attention here.


85. Social Classes and Occupations.—The Middle colonies, as we have seen, were in the main democratic, but the New York “Patroons” on their estates asserted their privileges as semi-feudal landlords, and in their town houses even lived in comparative luxury. Among the Quakers, too, in the other colonies, there were always some leading families that formed a quasi-aristocracy. The professions, as in New England, commanded the respect of the people, especially in Pennsylvania, which attracted some well-educated settlers. The masses of the people were engaged either in agriculture or in trade. Fur was the most important article of export; but grain and flour were also exported in return for foreign commodities. Manufacturing was carried on in a small way, especially by the Germans at Germantown, Pennsylvania. There was a fair amount of coast and river trade; for the roads were quite bad, except on the main post-line running from New York to Philadelphia through New Jersey, and in consequence the waterways were much used for purposes of transportation of goods and travelers.


86. Social and Political Life.—With regard to social life the Middle colonies were somewhat less sober than New England. Dancing parties, corn-huskings, and the like festivities diverted the country people; while the towns had races, cock-fights, and other similar amusements of the period. In point of elegance and fashion, New York was inferior to Boston, but was superior to Philadelphia. The English predominated in the towns; but the Dutch, with their sobriety, neatness, and narrowness of life, dominated the country districts, which did not extend much farther than Albany, or, indeed, far away from the Hudson River. The settlers of the outlying districts in both New York and Pennsylvania were rude and simple in their manner of living—were, in fact, our first backwoodsmen. Facilities for education were everywhere far inferior to those of New England, although one or two good schools existed in New York and Philadelphia. Religious influences were much mixed, owing to the variety of creeds tolerated; but Quaker sobriety was almost as strong as Puritan rigor in suppressing Sabbath-breaking and other forms of popular license. Politically, the Middle colonies were not so stable and well governed as New England. In New York and Pennsylvania taxes were heavy, and there was considerable discontent against the colonial officials and the mother country. Rioting at elections was frequent in New York. The Quakers were naturally more peaceful; indeed, their reluctance to bear arms partly prevented a complete union of the colonies for self-defense against the Indians. But all things considered, the Middle colonies in 1700 were in a prosperous condition, and had laid a foundation for the immense wealth and population they possess to-day.


87. Mode of Life.—The aristocracy of the Southern colonies was based partly on birth, partly on slavery, and existed chiefly because of the richness of the soil and of the fact that the numerous waterways encouraged a system of practically independent plantations. In many cases ocean-going ships could come up to private wharves, be there loaded with tobacco, indigo, rice, and other commodities, carry these to England, and return laden with manufactured articles required by the planters. It followed that retail trades and manufactures and all save minor handicrafts were practically non-existent in the South. Towns were hardly to be found. Jamestown was the seat of government in Virginia, and was resorted to by the wealthier planters for the purposes of fashion and pleasure, Williamsburg taking its place later; but for a long time Charleston was the only settlement in the South that exhibited real town life. Another result of the independent plantation system was the paucity of schools, as well as the feeble state of the Church. The richer planters employed private tutors, and often sent their sons to English universities. The middle and lower classes got practically no education. The clergy, except in South Carolina, were, as a rule, illiterate and were often immoral in conduct. The other learned professions were at a low ebb also, and education and culture were almost entirely confined to a few privileged persons.


88. Social Classes in the South.—There were four classes of society, separated by sharp distinctions. Lowest of all came the black slaves,[44] who increased rapidly in Virginia after 1650, were numerous in Maryland, and preponderant in South Carolina. They were, on the whole, fairly well treated, though much overworked in South Carolina. Toward the end of the seventeenth century a very severe code of laws with regard to them came into existence; but it is not likely, however, that the cruel punishments allowed were often inflicted. Above the blacks were the indented white servants, who frequently came of the English criminal classes and were treated more or less harshly. Then came the small farmers and mechanics, who had little education, were fond of rough sports, and were somewhat looked down on by the planters. They possessed sturdy English virtues, however, and were jealous of their independence. The highest class, the planters, were often gentlemen of excellent birth, courteous manners, and vigorous qualities of mind and heart. Although keeping up many ties with the mother country, they were by no means subservient to it, and in political matters often resisted the colonial governors. From them were recruited many of the revolutionary leaders.


89. Isolation of the South.—Thus we see that there was nothing in the South to correspond with the town life of New England, with its enterprise, or with its educational and religious solidarity. There was nothing to correspond with the thrift of the Middle colonies. Isolation was the rule, in agriculture, commerce, and even in matters of administration. The administrative unit was the large county, hence local government was always difficult and somewhat inefficient. Society in many respects reproduced feudal aspects; but this lack of social solidarity was not without beneficial results. It fostered a love of independence, a fondness for manly sports, and a self-reliance that were to stand the people in good stead during the trials of the Revolution and of the Civil War.


90. General View of the Colonists.—On the whole, we may conclude that the English colonists at the end of the seventeenth century had made remarkable progress. They had secured firm hold of the Atlantic coast from Maine to Florida, and had absorbed the rival settlements of the Dutch and Swedes. They had pushed the Indians back and laid the foundations of national wealth in agriculture, manufacturing, fishing, and commerce. They had developed a spirit of independence and of moral sobriety, and had not allowed their intellectual powers to decline. They were increasing rapidly in numbers, and only their French and Indian foes remained to dispute their possession of the central portion of the continent.

References.—See especially Thwaites, The Colonies, chaps. v., viii., and x. Add to preceding bibliography: M. C. Tyler, History of American Literature, Vols. I. and II.; C. F. Richardson, History of American Literature; B. Wendell, Cotton Mather (“Makers of America”); B. Wendell, Literary History of America; E. A. and G. L. Duyckinck, Cyclopædia of American Literature, Vol. I.

Born, 1663; died, 1728. Graduated at Harvard before he was sixteen; urged the witchcraft persecutions with great energy; wrote much against intemperance and on many other subjects, his learned and quaint works numbering about four hundred.

There were slaves in all the other colonies, and the institution of slavery was regarded by most persons as moral and legal; but they were not held in great numbers, and were by no means so profitable as in the South.

French Explorations and Settlements


development of the colonies, 1690–1765.


91. Character of the Period.—During the first quarter, or indeed the first half of the eighteenth century, colonial history contains few salient features apart from boundary disputes, quarrels with royal governors, and struggles with the French and Indians. There was a steady growth in numbers, which may be measured by the fact that from the first to the middle of the century New England increased fourfold, the Middle colonies sixfold, and the Southern colonies sevenfold in population. Wealth and general prosperity increased in fair proportion also. During such a period of development historians rarely find events of a startling or romantic nature to chronicle.


92. Charters in Danger.—The people of the various colonies were, however, disturbed from time to time by political events that were of considerable importance to them, as, for instance, by the attacks made in England upon their charters. These were in the main successfully warded off by the colonial agents in London, but they sometimes became serious. For example, it was proposed in 1715 to annex Rhode Island and Connecticut, which had liberal charters, to the royal colony of New Hampshire, which had no charter at all. In the case of the Carolinas, the proprietors, when threatened with a writ of quo warranto on account of popular disturbances in their territories, surrendered their charters to the Crown for a compensation. Thereafter royal governors were sent to both South and North Carolina, the latter province having to that time been under a deputy of the governor of the former.


93. Boundary Disputes.—Boundary disputes were very bitter between the colonies and continued, after they became states, into the nineteenth century. Connecticut especially was involved in frequent quarrels with her neighbors. New York and New Hampshire also had disputes with regard to the territory adjoining Lake Champlain. Some of the settlers of this region revolted just before the Revolution, in order to establish an independent government, which was recognized in 1777 as the state of Vermont. Pennsylvania and Maryland likewise had a dispute, which was settled by the drawing of the famous Mason and Dixon Line (1763–1767). To the south there were boundary disputes with Spain and to the west with France. The latter were to lead to serious results.


94. Quarrels with Governors.—The disputes between the colonies and their governors were numerous and bitter. Frequently the point at issue touched upon the payment of a regular salary to the governor by the colony, the colonists preferring to keep him dependent upon them by voting him supplies at irregular intervals. They argued correctly that fixed payments would be equivalent to a tax levied by the Crown, and they held out bravely, especially in Massachusetts, against all efforts on the part of the English government to force them to submit. We have already seen that some disagreements were based upon the corruption of governors, their dealings with pirates, and their general tendency to tyranny. Sometimes, as in South Carolina after the middle of the century, the governor would oppose a pernicious policy like the rash issuing of paper money, and would thus incur popular displeasure. Or he would become unpopular merely as the instrument through which the English government or the proprietors endeavored to carry out some obnoxious measure. Religious persecution of dissenters, when attempted by the governor, was sure to earn him hatred in all quarters, as in the case of Lord Cornbury in New York and New Jersey (1702–1708). Probably the disputes carried on by the Pennsylvanians against their executives over questions of taxation, etc., were more heated than those of any other colony.


95. A Successful Governor.—There was, however, at least one thoroughly honest and efficient governor. This was Alexander Spotswood, who came out in 1710 to Virginia. He was a bluff, energetic soldier, who had been wounded at Blenheim. His coming was especially gratifying to the Virginians, since he brought them the long-craved privileges of the writ of habeas corpus. But even Spotswood found it difficult to extort money from the Burgesses in order to prepare for defenses against an expected French invasion. He did not, however, allow this opposition to render him indifferent to the interests of the colony. He sought especially to develop its mineral resources, and caused blast furnaces to be erected,—the first in the colonies. He also imported Germans to develop the vineyards, which were necessary to his scheme for making Virginia a wine-producing country. He furthermore showed his interest in the Indians by establishing a school mission.


96. The Crossing of the Blue Ridge Mountains.—The most memorable event connected with Governor Spotswood’s administration is his romantic expedition across the Blue Ridge. Little or nothing was known of the beautiful valley beyond these mountains. Spotswood set out in August, 1716, with a large cavalcade, well furnished with hunting equipments, and, according to the fashion of the times, with a quantity and variety of liquors that would now be thought excessive. It was a good deal of a frolic; but it resulted in the discovery of the splendid valley of the Shenandoah, to which river the governor gave the rather inappropriate name of the Euphrates. This region was destined soon to be settled by thrifty German colonists, and it has ever since been considered the garden spot of Virginia.[45] Spotswood commemorated his expedition by presenting his companions with small golden horseshoes set with jewels. He had to pay for these himself, since King George I. was probably not anxious to encourage even such worthy colonial orders of knighthood as the “Knights of the Golden Horseshoe.” The king thought, perhaps, that his trusty servant did him a better service when two years later he sent out two armed ships, which conquered and rid the colonies of the notorious pirate John Theach, otherwise known as “Blackbeard.”


James Oglethorpe.

97. The Colonization of Georgia.—The country between the Savannah River and the St. John’s River in Florida, was claimed by the English; and when the Carolinas became royal provinces, this region was reserved as crown land. It soon attracted the attention of a noble-minded Englishman, James Oglethorpe.[46] He conceived the idea that it would be an excellent place in which to establish a colony to be composed of such persons as needed a new chance in life after having been released from the then crowded debtor prisons of England. He secured the aid of a company in establishing his proposed colony, which was also intended to serve as a bulwark against the Spanish colony of St. Augustine and as an important outpost of the fur trade. The colony was styled Georgia, in honor of King George II. The company of proprietors were very liberal; they prohibited slavery and religious persecution, and provided that none of their own number should hold a salaried office. Oglethorpe came out in November, 1732, and early in the following year founded the town of Savannah. He treated the Indians well and made a firm alliance with them. In 1734 a number of German settlers arrived and added much stability to the colony. This same year Augusta was founded as an armed trading-post, and soon became the center of a large fur traffic. The English debtors, however, were not the best of colonists, and the company was wise enough to induce more Germans and some Scotch Highlanders to seek the colony. After this the growth of Georgia was certain, but very slow; for even so benevolent an enterprise could not escape internal discontent and friction, due largely to the thriftless character of the English beneficiaries.


98. French Exploration of the Mississippi Valley.—From the beginning, the French colonists settled in Acadia[47] and New France[48] succeeded in making friends with the Indians, to an extent rarely equaled by the English. But friendship with the Hurons and Algonquins involved enmity with the enemies of the latter, the Iroquois. This in turn meant that the French would have great difficulty in penetrating New York. It also meant that their explorations would at first penetrate the western region bordered by Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. In this region they heard rumors of the Mississippi River, and in 1673 a Jesuit priest, Père Marquette, and Louis Joliet, a trader, undertook to look for it. With incomparable resolution Marquette surmounted every difficulty, and finally with his companions floated down the Wisconsin River into the mighty Mississippi, which they followed to a point below the Arkansas. Then they made their arduous way back, having accomplished one of the most magnificent voyages of exploration known in history.


La Salle.

99. The Explorations of La Salle.—Their work was finished ten years later by Robert de la Salle,[49] who with his companions crossed from Lake Erie to the Illinois River and, after enduring many hardships, tracked the Mississippi southward to the Gulf of Mexico. There, taking possession of the region for Louis XIV. of France, La Salle named it Louisiana in his honor. He had been about four years at his work, in which he had shown a courage that has made him memorable. Two years later, in 1684, he sailed from France to plant a colony on the Mississippi; but, missing its mouth, landed on the coast of Texas. Here a fort was built, and from its occupation France got her claim to the territory as far as the Rio Grande. La Salle and his party, after suffering many hardships, determined to separate into two bands. The party led by La Salle murdered their brave commander, and finally reached the Illinois River.


100. French and English Claims.—Thus France, through the labors of her loyal subjects, had established a claim to an enormous region stretching from the mouth of the St. Lawrence, around the English colonies, to the mouth of the Mississippi, and thence to the Rio Grande. East and west the boundaries were practically the Alleghany and the Rocky mountains. But these claims were sure to be resisted, for the charters of the English colonies gave them almost indefinite rights to the westward, and they were growing too fast to be long cooped up between the Alleghanies and the Atlantic. Before the close of the seventeenth century, the struggle for predominance in the Mississippi Valley had begun, and in about seventy-five years France had been stripped of all the possessions which had been secured for her by the intrepidity and foresight of leaders who had often been but ill-supported by their king and government.


101. King William’s War (1690–1697).—The colonial wars against the French for the possession of the region west of the Alleghanies are known by the names of the English sovereigns reigning at the time of hostilities; but they practically coincide with important European wars. For example, the first break in the American struggle corresponded with the famous Peace of Ryswick (1697). Indeed, throughout the eighteenth century colonial questions formed a most important factor in the numerous and destructive wars waged in Europe. The French early began to see that war must soon arise between the English colonists and their own, and about the time of the revolution which brought in William and Mary (1689), they sent over the able Count Frontenac with instructions to overrun New York. At first he had to beat off the Iroquois; but in 1690 he began that long series of horrible raids, conducted by mixed bands of French and Indians, which gives such a bloody tinge to the annals of the times and accounts for the hatred cherished for both their Christian and their savage enemies by the English colonists. First it was Schenectady, New York, that was burned and laid waste; then Salmon Falls, New Hampshire; then Fort Loyal (now Portland, Maine); then Exeter, New Hampshire. No one knew where the blow might fall next. Panic reigned among the colonies, and a meeting of delegates from several of them was held at Albany, in February, 1690, to discuss the situation (§ 66). A threefold attack on the French possessions was planned, but only that against Port Royal in Acadia, led by Sir William Phips, governor of Massachusetts, was successful. Having destroyed Port Royal, he attempted to take Quebec, while another body of troops attacked Montreal. Both expeditions were failures, and, as a result, the French ravages continued until the Peace of Ryswick, in 1697. Neither side had gained ground, but the English had suffered terribly. Massacres of the inhabitants of frontier towns made life a terror to the pioneers, and in 1697 the invaders actually sacked Haverhill, not thirty miles from Boston.


102. Queen Anne’s War (1702–1713).—Peace did not last long, for William III. was resolute in opposing the aggressions of Louis XIV. His policy was carried on after his death (in 1702) by the advisers of his successor, Queen Anne, chief among whom was the famous Duke of Marlborough, the victor of Blenheim. Massacres soon began again in New England. Port Royal was attacked unsuccessfully in 1707 and successfully in 1710, and another expedition to Quebec came to nothing. The Treaty of Utrecht, in 1713, put a stop to hostilities, and this time the English diplomats were sufficiently resolute to retain Acadia. Thenceforth Port Royal, or Annapolis, as it was now named in honor of the queen, was held by the English.


Jonathan Edwards.

103. Colonies at Peace: the “Great Awakening.”—Peace was to last for thirty years, a period which the French improved by exploring expeditions and by the building of forts to secure the great region watered by the Mississippi. Nor did the English lose sight of the vast interests at stake. They did perhaps the best thing to be done under the circumstances—they waited and grew strong in numbers and wealth, filling out as well as possible their more compact territory. They experienced also a spiritual awakening that must have strengthened the popular character in many ways. This was the “Great Awakening” which, beginning early in the century, became especially potent in 1734 under the preaching of the famous Jonathan Edwards[50] at Northampton, Massachusetts. The religious enthusiasm spread far and wide, and after a short lull, began, in 1739–1740, to flame out afresh under the inspiration of the great revivalist, George Whitefield. This eloquent English preacher went to Georgia to join John and Charles Wesley, and there carried on the religious work which the brothers had begun. Whitefield preached throughout the colonies, stirring men everywhere, and undoubtedly producing many good results in spite of the evil consequences which a period of excitement always leaves behind it.


104. Establishment of French Forts.—After the Peace of Ryswick, Pierre le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville, established a French settlement at Biloxi, in the present state of Mississippi. La Salle had previously built Fort St. Louis on the Illinois River, and it was now the French policy to fill up the territory between these two points with a chain of forts and settlements. Mobile was founded in 1702, New Orleans in 1718. The founder of New Orleans was Iberville’s brother, Bienville. At the other end of the line Detroit was founded in 1701, Fort Niagara was built in 1726, and Crown Point was erected on Lake Champlain in 1731. In order that Acadia might be won back if possible, the strong fortress of Louisburg was erected on Cape Breton Island.


105. King George’s War (1744–1748).—In 1744 the war known in Europe as the War of the Austrian Succession, and in America as King George’s War, was begun by a successful French attack on an English post in Nova Scotia, and by an unsuccessful attempt to take Annapolis. Great efforts were now made by Governor Shirley of Massachusetts to save Nova Scotia. He applied to the English king, but his main reliance was upon Massachusetts and her sister colonies of New England. In the spring of 1745, just one year after the commencement of hostilities, a large expedition set out to capture Louisburg, and after a siege of six weeks took that redoubtable fortress. The victory was celebrated in many long and sincere prayers of thanksgiving and in some remarkably bad poetry. But the English government was so blind to the importance of the interest at stake as to restore Louisburg to the French at the close of the war, in 1748.


Sieur de Bienville.[51]

106. The French in the Ohio Valley.—The French now turned their attention to the task of securing the region watered by the Ohio River. In 1749 Céloron de Bienville, under orders of the governor of Canada, by means of canoe voyages and portages, reached Chautauqua Lake and thence the Allegheny River, where formal possession of the country was taken in the name of Louis XV. of France. Leaden plates with inscriptions asserting the French claim were interred at various points along the Ohio and its tributaries. Three years later a chain of forts was begun along the route taken by Bienville, the first erected being that of Presque Isle, near the present city of Erie. These movements of the French alarmed the English colonists greatly, and, most of all, Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia. This executive was interested in an American scheme for settling the Ohio region, through the agency of the so-called Ohio Company, and his colony claimed the country now threatened by the French. As soon as he heard of the new fort, he dispatched George Washington to demand the withdrawal of the French. Washington was just twenty-one years old, but he had seen life as a surveyor in the frontier counties of Virginia, and had learned to command men and to understand Indian character.


107. Washington in the West.—Washington, who was already an adjutant general, took with him only a few companions on his winter journey of seven hundred and fifty miles through the perilous wilderness. He braved numerous dangers, which he set down modestly in a journal that is still preserved. His training as a surveyor enabled him to pick out as a proper site for a fort the spot at the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers where Fort Duquesne was shortly afterward built by the French, and where Pittsburg now stands. He reached Fort Le Bœuf (near the present Waterford, Pennsylvania) and gave his letter to the French commandant. The latter promised to send it on to the governor of Canada, but continued to occupy the fort. On his return journey Washington nearly lost his life while attempting to cross the Monongahela on a raft; but he finally reached Williamsburg in safety, having been absent only eleven weeks.


108. Founding of Fort Duquesne.—Dinwiddie determined to take possession of the Forks of the Ohio at once. William Trent, a trader, and some militia were hurried forward and began the erection of a fort. While the Virginians were thus occupied, and in the absence of their leader, a party of Frenchmen and Indians descended upon them and they were forced to surrender, their conquerors finishing the fort and naming it after Duquesne, the governor of Canada.


109. Washington at Fort Necessity.—Meanwhile great preparations had been made in Virginia. Washington, now lieutenant colonel, set out with a few troops to aid Trent, but heard of the surrender shortly after starting. He would not go back, but pushed on into southwestern Pennsylvania, and there at a place called Great Meadows began a fort. Having been warned of the approach of a party of French, he attacked them suddenly and completely routed them. Then he pushed on to the Ohio, but on learning that the French were advancing in numbers, finally fell back on his stockade, which he had called Fort Necessity. Here the French and Indians attacked him vigorously, and after a brave struggle he surrendered honorably on July 4, 1754.

Central North America
at the Beginning of the French and Indian War, 1755


110. The French and Indian War (1754–1763).—This was practically the beginning of what is generally called the French and Indian War, which nearly coincides with the Seven Years’ War in Europe. Both sides made extensive preparations, for the fate of a continent was now plainly seen to be in the balance. A congress of delegates from the colonies met at Albany to make a treaty with the Iroquois, and here (1754) Benjamin Franklin secured the adoption of a plan for a union of the colonies. The scheme was not approved, however, when submitted to the individual colonies, which were more or less jealous of their privileges. But if the colonists would not join to repel the foe, the English under Pitt were determined to do their best to drive out the French, not foreseeing that as a result the colonists, freed from danger at home, would be likely in a short time to form a union to secure independence. They sent out one of their ablest officers, Major General Edward Braddock, and an elaborate plan of campaign was determined on at a conference of the colonial governors assembled by him at Alexandria, Virginia. Four expeditions were to be made: one to be directed against Fort Crown Point in New York, and thence against Quebec; another, from New England, by water, against the French possessions in the northeast; the third, from Albany against Niagara; the fourth, from Fort Cumberland in Maryland against Fort Duquesne.


General Montcalm.

111. Braddock’s Defeat.—General Braddock decided to take charge of the last-named expedition. His European training had not qualified him to command in an unsettled country, and in spite of his personal efforts he found great difficulty in moving regular troops and artillery through the wilderness. He could hardly have moved at all if Franklin had not persuaded the Pennsylvania farmers to hire out their horses and wagons. In June, 1755, the army began to cut its way through the forest. All went well, though slowly, until the fort was nearly reached, when suddenly (July 9, 1755) the advanced guard came upon a large body of French and Indians. These wily foes immediately adopted border habits of warfare, and picked off their enemies from behind trees. Braddock, who had all an Englishman’s contempt for colonial ways, pronounced this method of fighting barbarous, and would not allow his men to imitate it. He insisted on using the same tactics in the backwoods of America that he had been accustomed to employ on the battlefields of Europe. There could be but one result. His men offered themselves as targets until so many were killed that a retreat had to be sounded. Even this would have been unavailing but for the fact that Washington, who was present as an aid-de-camp and had vigorously protested against his superior’s hard-headedness, used his Virginians, who had fought their enemies in backwoods fashion, to cover the retreat of the regulars. Washington performed many feats of valor throughout the day, and had several narrow escapes. Braddock, quite as brave, but entirely out of place in such a situation, was wounded just before the retreat, and died a few days later. Thus the most important of the four expeditions was a failure.


112. Acadia, Crown Point, and Niagara.—The second expedition succeeded in dispersing several thousands of the poor inhabitants of Acadia among the colonies;[52] that against Crown Point resulted in a victory over the French on the shores of Lake George, but that against Niagara did not even reach its destination.


113. Effects of Pitt’s Policy.—Although there had been plenty of fighting along the American frontier, war was not formally declared between Great Britain and France until May, 1756. The French sent over a very able soldier, the Marquis of Montcalm,[53] who was quite successful for about two years, and might have been altogether so but for the energy and foresight of that great English statesman, William Pitt.[54] Pitt saw more clearly than any other man of his time how important her colonial empire was to Great Britain, and how it could best be maintained and extended. He supported Frederick the Great on the Continent, and caused renewed efforts to be made in America against the French. The fourfold attack of a few years before was again tried, with almost complete success. In 1758 Louisburg was forced to surrender; Washington captured Fort Duquesne (afterward Fort Pitt), and Fort Frontenac on Lake Ontario was destroyed. Thus the Ohio region was cut off from Quebec; but by resisting an attack on Ticonderoga, Montcalm managed to keep the French forces wedged into New York.


William Pitt, Earl of Chatham.[55]

114. The Fall of Quebec.—The next year saw the practical conclusion of the struggle, in the fall of Quebec. This again was due indirectly to Pitt. He put James Wolfe[56] in command of an expedition against Quebec, by way of the St. Lawrence. Wolfe landed with his troops below the city, which, rising from the summit of its precipitous hill, seemed to be impregnable. But the young general was dauntless. He performed the extraordinary feat of passing up the river under the guns of Montcalm, and landing his troops. During the night they climbed the cliffs, and by dawn were ready to offer battle on the Plains of Abraham (September 13, 1759). The conflict was hotly waged, the British eventually securing the victory, at the cost of their brave general, whose equally brave rival, Montcalm, was also killed. It would be hard to estimate the consequences of this battle.

General Wolfe.


115. The Treaty of Paris (1763).—The fall of Quebec had been preceded by the capture of the posts of Crown Point and Ticonderoga held by the French within New York. It was followed the next year by the taking of Montreal. This practically closed the war in America, but peace was not declared until 1763, when the Treaty of Paris was signed. By these victories and the peace which followed them, Great Britain obtained Canada and Cape Breton, nearly all the islands of the St. Lawrence, and all the territory east of a line running down the middle of the Mississippi River to a point just above New Orleans. Spain received all the French possessions west of this line, together with New Orleans. In return for Havana, which had been taken by the English, Spain gave up Florida to Great Britain.


116. The New Provinces.—The newly acquired territory was divided into three provinces. Canada became the Province of Quebec, part of its southern boundary line limiting the present states of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Florida was divided into two provinces, East and West Florida. A line was also drawn around the head waters of all the Atlantic-flowing rivers in the colonies, and the colonists were forbidden to settle in the reserved territory, which was set apart for the Indians. To defend these new provinces it was resolved to maintain within their borders a force of ten thousand men, who were to be supported partly by the Crown and partly by the colonies. That troops were needed was proved by the harassing though unsuccessful siege of Detroit by the Indians, led by Pontiac, chief of the Ottawas, in the spring and summer of 1763.

References.—See Thwaites, The Colonies, chaps. xiii.–xiv. Add to preceding bibliography: A. V. G. Allen, Jonathan Edwards; C. C. Jones, History of Georgia (2 vols.); C. Gayarré, History of Louisiana (4 vols.); F. Parkman, Frontenac and New France, La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West, A Half Century of Conflict, Montcalm and Wolfe; A. B. Hart, Formation of the Union, chaps. i.–ii. (“Epochs of American History”); W. M. Sloane, The French War and the Revolution, chaps. i.–ix. (“American History Series”); H. C. Lodge, George Washington, Vol. I., chaps. i.–iii. (“American Statesmen Series”); J. Winsor, The Mississippi Basin; B. A. Hinsdale, The Old Northwest; T. Roosevelt, The Winning of the West, Vol. I.; B. Franklin, Autobiography; J. F. Cooper, The Deerslayer, The Last of the Mohicans, and The Pathfinder; Parkman’s Conspiracy of Pontiac contains a résumé of the struggle for Canada.

Some of the most interesting operations of the Civil War took place within the Shenandoah Valley.

Born in 1698; died, 1785. Officer of the British army; received grant, which he named Georgia, in 1732; founded Savannah in 1733; returned twice to England, and had a somewhat unsuccessful military and naval career; gave up the charter to the Crown in 1752, nine years after finally leaving America.

The region comprising what is now New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and part of Maine.

The region along the St. Lawrence of which Montreal and Quebec have always been the two chief centers.

French explorer; born, 1643; died, 1687. Migrated to Canada in 1666; explored westward as far as Lake Michigan and the Illinois River; was in France in 1677, but at once returned, and, passing via Niagara, ascended the lakes to Mackinaw, finally (1679) exploring the Illinois River beyond Peoria; descended in a canoe the Illinois and Mississippi rivers to the Gulf in 1682; organized a new expedition in 1684; sailed from France for the Mississippi, but landed by mistake at Matagorda Bay; murdered by his followers at some unknown spot in Texas.

Metaphysician and theologian; born in Connecticut, 1703; died, President of Princeton College, in 1758. Became pastor of Congregational church in Northampton, Massachusetts, 1727, where he remained till 1750; preached to Indians at Stockbridge from 1751 to 1758; wrote many works, of which Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will is the most noted.

Born, 1680; died, 1765. Accompanied Iberville to the mouth of the Mississippi, and became director of the colony of Louisiana in 1701; in 1713 was appointed lieutenant governor; founded the city of New Orleans; was removed from office in 1720; reappointed in 1733; returned to France in 1743.

See Longfellow’s Evangeline.

Born, 1712; died, 1759. Fought in the War of the Austrian Succession; was sent to take command in the New World in 1756; took Oswego in 1756; Fort William Henry in 1757; repulsed Abercrombie’s greatly superior force at Ticonderoga, July 8, 1758; was met and defeated by Wolfe at Quebec, September 13, 1759. His defeat practically transferred America from the French to the British.

Born, 1708; died, 1788. Entered the House of Commons in 1735; Secretary of State and practically Prime Minister, 1756–1761; laid the foundation of subsequent British greatness by securing the defeat of the French in America and in India; resigned in 1761 on account of George III.’s attitude toward America; gained the appellation of “The Great Commoner,” through his oratory and his personal influence; was a constant advocate of the American cause; was raised to the peerage in 1766 as Earl of Chatham, but was subsequently given no important office.

From an old print in the possession of Frank W. Coburn, of Lexington, Mass.

Born, 1727; died, 1759. Fought in the War of the Austrian Succession; also against the Young Pretender in 1745; was sent as brigadier general under Amherst to the siege of Louisburg in 1758; was promoted for his gallantry to rank of major general, and selected by Pitt to lead the British against Montcalm at Quebec; was victorious, September 13, 1759, in one of the most brilliant assaults ever undertaken; died in the hour of victory. The event gave Wolfe immortal fame, and secured America to Great Britain.

The British Colonies in 1764


causes of the revolution.


117. Tendencies toward Separation.—From the first there were certain conditions that tended to force the American colonies away from the mother country. The colonists, especially those of New England, had very generally left Great Britain for the purpose of escaping oppression; and, after the new settlements were made, the conduct of the home government was not such as to diminish the sense of wrong. It was less than thirty years after the landing at Plymouth when the first of the “Navigation Acts” marked the beginning of a policy designed to encourage British at the expense of colonial commerce (§ 43), and in 1672 this unwise course of action was carried still further. A law was passed which imposed the same duties on trade between one colony and another as on trade between America and foreign countries; and to enforce this law, custom-houses were established along the border lines between the different colonies. This naturally led to a constant and a growing friction between the royal governors who had to collect the revenue, and the colonists who had to pay it. The seventy-five years immediately before the Seven Years’ War are full of instances of the unfriendly relations between the people and the agents of the home government[57]94).

George III.


118. Influence of the Seven Years’ War.—These unfriendly relations were happily interrupted by the war which resulted in the fall of Quebec and the transfer of Canada from the French to the English. The fact that the Americans were united with the English in a common cause against a common enemy drew them nearer and nearer together. In the prosecution of the war the colonists bore a prominent and honorable part, and at its close they everywhere shared in the general rejoicing. In this spirit old Fort Duquesne was given the name Pittsburg, in honor of the great statesman who had accomplished so much for the continent; and the legislature of Massachusetts voted for Westminster Abbey an elaborate monument to Lord Howe, who had fallen at Ticonderoga. It is certain that a new spirit of loyalty and devotion to the mother country had sprung up, when in 1760, one year after the fall of Quebec, George III., then a young man of twenty-two, ascended the throne. He had a great opportunity to conciliate the colonists and to increase their growing affection; but he defiantly took the opposite course.


119. George III.[58]—The young king brought to the throne a very unfortunate mixture of good and bad qualities. He had an unblemished character; he had a strong will and was very conscientious and industrious; but he was possessed with the idea that the power of the throne should be greatly strengthened, and that all opposition to such increase of power should be put down, if need be, by main force. His ambition was to restore to the Crown the power which it had unlawfully exercised before the two English revolutions had made it subordinate to Parliament. For the accomplishment of this purpose he committed the fatal blunder of pushing aside the great statesmen he found in office and of surrounding himself with ministers who would aid him in carrying out his own policy.


120. Independent Spirit among the Colonies.—Another peculiarity of the situation was the prevalence of a decided spirit of independence of one another among the individual colonies. No effort to bring them together for purposes of common action, even against the Indians, had been successful. Even Franklin’s plan in 1754 had failed to unite them (§ 110). On the contrary, they had drawn farther and farther apart, so that a very intelligent traveler, who had visited various parts of the country, wrote in 1760, “Were the colonies left to themselves, there would soon be civil war from one end of the continent to the other.” And James Otis, one of the foremost of American patriots, said in 1765, “Were the colonies left to themselves, to-morrow America would be a mere shambles of blood and confusion before the little petty states could be united.” When George III. ascended the throne, the colonies seemed more afraid of one another than they were of England, and more likely to drift into separate nationalities like those of Europe than they were to unite in a common effort to secure independence of the mother country.


121. Excuse for the Policy.—The energetic and fatal policy of the Crown first showed itself in a determination to impose additional taxes on the Americans. There was some excuse for this policy. The Seven Years’ War had been carried on at heavy expense, and a large debt had been the result. The king claimed that this burden, chiefly incurred in an effort to protect the American colonists, should be borne, in large part, by the colonists themselves. To this claim the colonists might not have objected, if they had themselves been allowed a voice in determining their share of the tax. But the English insisted upon determining it without colonial advice.


122. The British View of the Matter.—In the course of centuries the British people had come to recognize the principle, “No taxation without representation.” But in the time of George III. representation, even in England, was absurdly imperfect. Boroughs of not more than half a dozen voters sometimes sent two members to the British Parliament, while some large towns like Manchester and Birmingham sent no representatives. The people permitted this bad state of affairs to continue, because the doctrine was held that every member of Parliament, no matter by whom he was elected, represented all the people of the kingdom, and not merely those who had chosen him. According to this theory, the colonies were as much represented in Parliament as Manchester and Birmingham; and if those towns could be taxed without direct representation, there appeared no just reason why Massachusetts and Virginia and the other colonies should complain of the same method.


123. The Colonial View of the Case.—But the colonists, and a small but very influential minority in Parliament, took another view of the case. Many of the colonies had been settled by men who had come to America for the purpose of escaping from a system which they regarded as unfair and tyrannical. Two revolutions in England had established the authority of Parliament as against the individual will of the king, but the methods of representation had not been changed. Indeed, they were worse than they had been when the Puritans came to New England, more than a hundred years before. During the intervening period the colonists had been receiving a liberal education in matters of government. In their town meetings and their provincial legislatures they had had to consider and decide a vast number of subjects, until they very naturally came to think they could understand the real requirements of the country far better than could a Parliament three thousand miles away. Some of the colonial writers denied that the British had the legal right to tax the Americans, while others claimed that, even if they had the legal right, an enforcement of that right would be contrary to the whole spirit of English liberty, and ought to be resisted.


124. Folly of the British Government.—If the British government had been wise, these differences might have been reconciled; but George III. and the friends whom he called about him could not see why Boston, New York, and Philadelphia should object to taxation while Birmingham and Manchester did not. The fact remained, however, that the colonies did object, and this important difference any wise government would have seen and taken into account. But George III. stubbornly held that if the colonies resisted the supreme authority of the king and Parliament, they must simply be forced into obedience. This doctrine, for which the king, and the king alone, was responsible, was the fatal error that cost Great Britain the American colonies.


The Pennsylvania Journal

125. Grenville’s Scheme of Taxation.—In 1764 Parliament, under the leadership of Lord Grenville, made a formal declaration that it had a right to tax the colonies, and a year later proposed to raise a tax by what was known as the “Stamp Act.” This provided that all transactions, to be lawful, must be printed, or written, on paper furnished by the government and bearing the government stamp. Even newspapers and almanacs had to be printed on this stamped paper. The cost of the stamps varied from a few cents to fifty or sixty dollars. Grenville thought this form of taxation would afford no chance to evade the custom-house, no temptation to smuggle, and would dispense with all disagreeable prying into warehouses and private dwellings in search of smuggled goods. It was believed that the act would enforce itself and produce a large revenue.


126. Spirit of the Colonies.—This belief shows how generally the spirit of the colonists was misunderstood. Only a few of the greatest and wisest of the British statesmen saw the danger in the policy proposed. These men, of whom Chatham and Burke were the leaders, did not deny the constitutional right of Parliament to tax all British subjects, but they held that it would be madness to try to enforce that right, since such an attempt would probably result in the loss of the colonies. The very thing they feared and predicted took place.


Samuel Adams.

127. Organization for Resistance.—The colonists instantly organized a general resistance to the tax. Samuel Adams[59] and James Otis[60] in Massachusetts, and Patrick Henry[61] in Virginia, were the most active of the colonial leaders. Adams sent letters in every direction denouncing the tax; Otis inflamed the people of Boston and the vicinity with his essays and his oratory; and Henry appealed to the Virginians with overpowering eloquence. A general congress representing the colonies met in New York, October 7, 1765, and passed a series of resolutions denouncing the Stamp Act as a violent encroachment on the principle, “No taxation without representation.” Lawyers agreed not to regard paper as made illegal by the absence of a stamp. Newspapers were issued bearing the sign of a skull and crossbones in place of a stamp, and boxes of stamps, on their arrival, were seized and burned.


James Otis.

128. Repeal of the Stamp Act.—It was not long before even Grenville was convinced that the Stamp Act was a failure. As it could not be enforced, and as it brought very little revenue, it was repealed the very year after it had become a law. There are, however, two ways of doing an act demanded by the people: to do it with a tact that will convey the largest amount of satisfaction; or to do it with some reservation or qualification that leaves a sting behind it. The latter course was taken by the British government, which said in substance: We repeal the act, because its enforcement will be injurious to our commercial interests, but in doing so we expressly declare “the supreme right of Parliament to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and the people of America in all ways whatever.”


129. The Townshend Acts.—The “Stamp Act” was followed by the “Townshend Acts” in 1767. One of these acts forbade the colonies to trade with the West Indies and was evidently designed to force the Americans to buy West Indian goods in Great Britain. Another provided for a new duty on all imports of glass, paper, paints, and teas. Still another, and the most obnoxious of the Townshend Acts, was one which legalized “Writs of Assistance.” Such writs had formerly been unlawfully used as a means of enforcing the statute against smuggling. These papers, by being signed in blank, so that names could be inserted at the convenience of the officer, provided a means by which any sheriff or constable could enter any man’s house to search for whatever he wanted to find.


John Dickinson.

130. Opposition to the Townshend Acts.—The Townshend Acts provoked instant opposition. Associations pledged to abstain from using any of the articles taxed, were formed in various parts of the country. The Massachusetts Assembly sent a circular letter to the other colonies, inviting them to concerted resistance; but this letter so provoked the king that he ordered the governor of Massachusetts to demand that the Assembly rescind the vote, on pain of dissolution. The Assembly promptly refused, whereupon Governor Bernard promptly dissolved it. Everywhere a similar spirit of opposition prevailed.


131. The Farmer’s Letters.—The next year, 1768, public feeling was greatly intensified and united by what were known as the Farmer’s Letters—a remarkable series of papers written by John Dickinson,[62] a young lawyer of Philadelphia, endowed with wealth, education, and brilliant talents. He set forth with great skill the claims of the colonies and the dangers to the liberties of the people from a policy of submission. These letters were so widely read that they had a vast influence in shaping the course of the colonies.[63]


Governor Hutchinson.

132. The Boston Massacre.—In 1768 the king sent over two regiments of soldiers to Boston for the special purpose of enforcing the obnoxious acts. In March, 1770, there was a spirited quarrel between some citizens and the soldiers in one of the streets of Boston, whereupon the troops fired upon the crowd, killing five and wounding seven others. This event, commonly known as the “Boston Massacre,” greatly widened the breach. An immense concourse gathered the next day in the Old South Meetinghouse. Samuel Adams was sent to Governor Hutchinson[64] to demand, in the name of three thousand freemen, the removal of the soldiers from the town. The governor thought it prudent not to refuse, and sent the troops to an island in Boston Harbor.


Old South Church, Boston.[65]

133. Partial Repeal of the Townshend Acts.—These events convinced Parliament that the Townshend Acts could not be enforced; but the government only repeated the course taken in repealing the Stamp Act. Instead of annulling the obnoxious provisions outright, they repealed the tax on all the articles except tea, but they held to the duty on this one article in order to maintain the principle. They ingeniously tried to make the tax on tea acceptable by remitting the usual duty which had to be paid on tea sent to America, when in transit it arrived in England. But it was not the cost of the tea that the Americans objected to; it was the principle of taxation.


134. General Treatment of the Tea.—As the British had no doubt the Americans would receive the tea under these conditions, large cargoes were sent to various American ports. The government commissioners appointed to receive this tea soon found that the people everywhere refused it. In Charleston large quantities were stored and afterward sold to the public; at Annapolis the tea was burned; at Philadelphia and at New York, after browbeating the commissioner into resigning, the people compelled the ships to return to England.


135. The Boston “Tea Party.”—It was in Boston, however, that the most vigorous action was taken. A large cargo had arrived in December of 1773, but the people would not allow it to be landed. The vessel no doubt would have returned to England, but the colonial officers refused to give the clearance papers required of all vessels before sailing. If the cargo was not landed within twenty days after its arrival, the custom-house officers were authorized by law to seize and land it by force. It was evident that the tea must be destroyed, or its landing could not be prevented except by open resistance. On the nineteenth day a town meeting of six or seven thousand persons met in and about the Old South Meetinghouse to decide what course to pursue. During the evening, in accordance with a general understanding, a great crowd went down to the wharf to see what would occur. When they were assembled, a small company of men, dressed as Indians, quietly rowed out to the ships, broke open more than three hundred chests of tea, and poured the contents into the harbor.


136. The “Five Acts of 1774.”—This defiant action, though applauded in all parts of the colonies, filled the British government with indignation, and drove the ministers to the “Five Acts of 1774,” which by their unwise energy immediately precipitated the crisis. Four of these were directed against Massachusetts alone; the fifth affected all the colonies. The first of the five acts was the “Boston Port Bill.” It provided that no ships should be allowed to enter or depart from Boston Harbor until the tea that had been destroyed was paid for. This in effect put an end to the commerce of the city, and completely destroyed its prosperity. Gloucester was made the port of entry and Salem the seat of government. The second act was that for the “Impartial Administration of Justice in Massachusetts Bay,” which reflected upon the colony’s tribunals by providing for the trial in England or Nova Scotia of officials accused of murder committed in the discharge of their functions. The third was the “Massachusetts Bill,” which virtually took away the charter by vesting all power of appointment and removal exclusively in the governor appointed by the Crown. The fourth was an act which provided for the quartering of troops on the people, thus establishing the means of enforcing new laws. The fifth was the “Quebec Act,” of which the most offensive feature was the one providing that all the British territory west of the Alleghanies and north of the Ohio should henceforth be regarded as a part of Canada. As this territory was claimed by the colonies, the act was regarded as a gross infringement of their rights. The Quebec Act also gave the Roman Catholic religion throughout Canada the stamp of official recognition.


137. Opposition in Parliament.—The passage of these acts was strenuously opposed by several of the strongest men in Parliament. The opposition of Fox, Burke, Pitt, and Barré was particularly energetic. In the House of Peers, Lord Rockingham and his friends entered a protest on the journal of the House, and the Duke of Richmond declared, in his indignation, “I wish from the bottom of my heart that the Americans may resist and get the better of the forces sent against them.” But the king was determined, and Lord North, who had just been advanced to the position of prime minister, gave his general assent to the measures, though he privately tried to prevent the king from pressing the Transportation Bill.


Faneuil Hall, Boston.

138. Effect upon the Colonies.—Upon the colonies the effect of these acts was general and immediate. As soon as the provisions of the Boston Port Bill became known, the colonies all saw that they must act together or be individually crushed. Public opinion rapidly took definite form. This was largely the work of committees of correspondence, organized at Faneuil Hall, Boston, chiefly through the energy and foresight of Samuel Adams. In Virginia a similar mode of procedure was adopted the following year, and an invitation was extended to all the colonies to appoint committees for the same purpose. The work of these committees was to make each colony acquainted with the views of all the others.


Carpenters’ Hall, Philadelphia.

139. First Continental Congress.—As a result of the agitation that followed, Massachusetts, at the request of New York, called for a meeting of representatives of the various colonies, to be convened early in September, 1774. The governor of Georgia prohibited the appointment of delegates, but representatives of the twelve other colonies met on the 5th of September, in Carpenters’ Hall, in Philadelphia. This body is known as the “First Continental Congress.” It contained a large share of the ablest men in the country. After adopting a Declaration of Colonial Rights, in which the political claims of the colonies were clearly and fully set forth, they named eleven different acts, which they declared had been passed in violation of their rights since the accession of George III. They framed a petition to the king, as well as an address to the people of Great Britain, and then formed what was called “The American Association,” the object of which was to put a stop to all trade with Great Britain until the obnoxious laws should be repealed. After providing for another congress, to be held in the following spring, the meeting adjourned on the 26th of October.


140. General Gage and the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts.—While these actions were taking place in Philadelphia, affairs were drifting to an immediate crisis in Massachusetts. General Gage, now governor of Massachusetts, as well as military commander, was fully inspired with the spirit of his royal master. He promptly sent to Chelsea for military stores and began a system of fortifications. The colonists, easily perceiving the significance of the British general’s action, took similar measures of precaution. In order to be independent of General Gage, they also organized what is known as “The Provincial Congress of Massachusetts”; and this body, on the very day when the First Continental Congress adjourned, authorized the organization of a military force, consisting of all the able-bodied men in the colony. One fourth of these were to be always ready for action, and, hence, were known as minutemen. After making provisions for supplying the army with the necessary equipment and munitions, the Provincial Congress intrusted the conduct of affairs to the general control of a Committee of Safety, of which John Hancock,[66] a wealthy merchant of Boston, was the chairman.

John Hancock.


Statue of Minuteman
at Concord.

141. Gage’s Purpose.—It was not long before blood was shed. There were certain military stores at Concord, and General Gage determined to seize them. For this purpose he dispatched very secretly about eight hundred men, under Lieutenant Colonel Smith and Major Pitcairn. The expedition had still another object. The king having ordered the arrest of John Hancock and Samuel Adams, these leaders had withdrawn from Boston and were the guests of a friend in Lexington. Gage had learned where they were and had ordered their seizure by the troops bound for Concord. The British force, after taking the greatest precautions for secrecy, left the city on the night of the 18th of April. But the vigilant eye of a patriot, Dr. Warren, had detected the purpose of the movement.


142. The Ride of Paul Revere.—In spite of Gage’s orders that nobody should leave Boston that night, Paul Revere, a Boston goldsmith, succeeded in crossing the Charles River,—having previously attended to setting an alarm signal in the tower of the Old North Church,—and galloped by the Medford road toward Lexington, shouting at every house that the British were coming.


143. Battles of Lexington and Concord.—The minutemen instantly assembled and drew up on Lexington Common to meet the British when they appeared. Pitcairn ordered them to disperse, but seeing no signs of their moving, first fired his own pistols and then ordered a volley. Eight men were killed and ten wounded. Although the Americans fired in return, they were in no condition to offer battle. Hancock and Adams, having received the necessary warning, made timely escape. The troops pushed on to Concord, but found that the greater part of the stores had been removed. Four hundred Americans then charged across the Concord bridge and drove back the British. The minutemen were by this time streaming in from every direction, and as the British were fired upon from behind trees and fences, they had nothing to do but to beat a retreat. They were saved only by a timely reënforcement of twelve hundred men under Lord Percy. In the course of the expedition the British lost two hundred and seventy-three; the Americans, eighty-eight. The battles of Lexington and Concord, April 19, 1775, proclaimed to everybody that war had begun. The readiness with which the people responded to the call was shown by the fact that among the killed and wounded on that day there were representatives of twenty-three different towns. Within less than a week General Gage found himself surrounded in Boston by a motley force of sixteen thousand Americans armed with such weapons as they could secure.

References for Chapters VI.–VII.—Sir G. O. Trevelyan, American Revolution, Vol. I., contains probably the best account of the Boston campaign; J. Fiske, American Revolution (2 vols.), is a delightful presentation of the whole period; H. C. Lodge, Story of the Revolution (2 vols.); G. Bancroft, History of the United States (revised edition); R. Hildreth, History of the United States, Vol. III.; W. E. H. Lecky, England in the Eighteenth Century, the part relating to the American war is exceedingly thorough, careful, and valuable; Lord Mahon, History of England (7 vols.), more inclined to the British view than Lecky or Trevelyan; M. C. Tyler, Literary History of the American Revolution (2 vols.), an invaluable work on the history of public opinion during the period, and especially noteworthy in showing the power of the Tories; M. C. Tyler, Patrick Henry; H. C. Lodge, George Washington (2 vols.); E. J. Lowell, Hessians; T. Roosevelt, The Winning of the West, Vol. II.; Burke, Speech on Conciliation with America; Channing and Hart, Guide to American History; W. Niles, Principles and Acts of the American Revolution; J. Parton, Life of Franklin, Life of Jefferson; for other biographies, see Channing and Hart’s Guide, §§ 25, 32, 33, and 135; G. C. Eggleston, American War Ballads; W. Sargent, Loyalist Poetry of the Revolution; J. F. Cooper, The Spy, an admirable account of Tories about the Hudson; S. Weir Mitchell, Hugh Wynne, a picture of social conditions about Philadelphia; P. L. Ford, Janice Meredith, a portrayal of life in New Jersey during nearly the whole period of the war; H. Frederic, In the Valley, life on the Mohawk in the Revolutionary period; W. G. Simms, The Partisan, Mellichampe, The Scout, Katharine Walton, The Forayers, Eutaw, all relate to the conflict in the South; J. P. Kennedy, Horse-Shoe Robinson, also deals with the war in the South. For Paul Revere’s ride, see Longfellow’s poem in Tales of a Wayside Inn.

In 1743 the governor of New York wrote that he “could not meet the Assembly without subjecting the king’s authority and himself to contempt.” The governor of South Carolina wrote, “The frame of the civil government is unhinged; the people have got the whole administration in their hands; the Constitution must be remodeled.” Governor Sherlock wrote that “Virginia had nothing more at heart than to lessen the influence of the crown.” The governor of New Jersey wrote of the legislature that he “could not bring the delegates into passing measures for suppressing the wicked spirit of rebellion.” The governor of Massachusetts wrote deploring “the mobbish turn of the town,” and accounting for it by saying that “the management of it devolved upon the popular Assembly in their town meeting.”

Born in 1738; died, 1820. Began his reign with an obstinate determination to increase the power of the Crown; accepted the resignation of Pitt, and called weak ministers about him; persisted in his policy of taxing America and humiliating the colonies; reluctantly consented to peace in 1782; became mentally incompetent during the later years of his life, when the government was transferred to his son as Prince Regent (1811–1820).

American orator, patriot, and agitator, second cousin of John Adams; born, 1722; died, 1803. Studied for a time at Harvard College; was unsuccessful in business took an active part in political affairs; drew up Boston’s protest against Grenville’s scheme of taxation in 1764; was among the foremost speakers and writers for the American cause from 1765 to 1774; secured from Hutchinson the removal of troops in 1770; member of Continental Congress from 1774 to 1781; voted for the Federal Constitution in 1788, though strongly opposed to some of its measures; was lieutenant governor of Massachusetts from 1789 to 1794, and governor from 1794 to 1797.

Revolutionary patriot and orator; born, 1728; died, 1778. Graduated at Harvard, 1743; opposed the Writs of Assistance, in a celebrated speech, 1761; published Rights of the Colonies Vindicated, in 1764; moved the appointment of a Stamp Act Congress in 1765 and was one of the delegates; made a spirited opposition to the “Townshend Acts”; was severely injured by some British officers in 1769, and was insane for the remainder of his life.

Born, 1736; died, 1799. After failing in farming and trading, he became a lawyer in 1760; in 1763 attracted attention by a noted speech; entered House of Burgesses in 1765, where he uttered his famous arraignment of the Stamp Act; assisted in organizing committees of correspondence; was member of First Continental Congress; gave his “liberty or death” speech in 1775; was the first governor of Virginia in 1776–1778; also governor, 1784 and 1785; was a strenuous believer in states’ rights, and for this reason opposed the adoption of the Federal Constitution.

Born, 1732; died, 1808. Became a Philadelphia leader; elected to the Colonial Congress in 1765; published the famous Letters of a Pennsylvania Farmer, in 1768; elected to the Continental Congress in 1774; wrote the two petitions to the king and numerous other important public papers; opposed the Declaration of Independence as premature; served loyally in the army; was president of Delaware in 1781; president of Pennsylvania from 1782 to 1785; member of the Federal Convention in 1787, and a strenuous advocate of the adoption of the Constitution.

Dickinson summed up his argument by declaring: “Let these truths be indelibly impressed upon the mind: that we cannot be happy without being free; that we cannot be free without being secure in our property; that we cannot be secure in our property, if, without our consent, others may as by right take it away; that duties laid for the sole purpose of raising money are taxes; that attempts to lay such duties should be instantly and fearlessly opposed; that such opposition can never be effectual unless it be by the effort of these provinces.”

Born, 1711; died, 1780. Member of the General Court of Massachusetts, 1737–1740 and from 1741 to 1749; speaker from 1746 to 1748; lieutenant governor in 1756; appointed chief justice in 1760; had his house sacked and his valuable library destroyed by a mob infuriated by his action in regard to the Stamp Act in 1765; appointed governor of the province in 1770; letters of his revealed by Franklin intensified the belief that he was responsible for the acts of the British government; sailed for England in 1774, where he died a conscientious and high-minded Tory. He was the author of an important history of Massachusetts.

This famous old church in the heart of Boston, the meeting place of the Revolutionists, was used as a place of worship until far into the nineteenth century. When it was in danger of being destroyed, it was bought by a society organized for the purpose, and has since been used as a historical museum and a place for instruction in American history.

Born, 1737; died, 1793. Earnest patriot, and member of the Massachusetts legislature from 1766 to 1772; became member of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress in 1774; was exempted from pardon by Governor Gage in 1775; was in Continental Congress from 1775 to 1780, and from 1785 to 1786; president of Congress from 1775 to 1777; signer of the Declaration of Independence, his bold signature standing first on the document; was commissioned as major general; delegate to Massachusetts constitutional convention in 1780; governor of Massachusetts from 1780 to 1785, and from 1787 to 1792; liberally used his large fortune for patriotic and benevolent purposes.


the campaigns of 1775 and 1776.


144. Continental Army and Commander in Chief.—When the Second Continental Congress came together in the spring of 1775, one of its first acts was to adopt as a continental army the forces which had enlisted in Massachusetts. It then performed an act of the greatest possible service to the cause by appointing George Washington[67] commander in chief. Washington was forty-three years of age, and the important services he had rendered in Virginia and Pennsylvania (§§ 106-111) had given him such military knowledge and such accuracy of judgment in dealing with men as made him universally respected and admired. He accepted the appointment with a full sense of the greatness of the task, and declared that he would receive no pay, but would rely on Congress to reimburse him for his expenses.


145. Capture of Ticonderoga.—While Congress was taking these preliminary steps, there was great activity in various parts of the country. Ethan Allen and Seth Warner, with a small force from Vermont, assisted by a few men from Connecticut under Benedict Arnold, surprised and captured Fort Ticonderoga. By this success the Americans got possession of an important fort, as well as of many stores and more than two hundred cannon.


146. Fortification of Bunker Hill.—As soon as the news of Lexington and Concord spread through the colonies, troops poured in to the vicinity of Boston from Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania. Before the middle of June, Boston, on the land side, was thoroughly invested. The British had seventeen battalions of infantry and five companies of artillery, and before June their army was joined by three major generals—Howe, Clinton, and Burgoyne. Late in the afternoon of June 16, General Ward, then in command of the Americans, ordered a force to take possession of Bunker Hill, a commanding point in Charlestown, just north of Boston. About twelve hundred troops under Colonel Prescott, a veteran of the French War, went over from Cambridge with spades and picks, which in the course of the night they used so industriously that the British soldiers in the morning saw strong works confronting them. But instead of obeying orders and occupying Bunker Hill, Prescott occupied Breed’s Hill, a point nearer Boston.

Boston and Environs, 1775


General Joseph Warren.

General Howe.

147. The Battle of Bunker Hill.—General Gage, wishing to dislodge the Americans at once, instead of approaching by the Neck (see map), where he could have cut off the whole force, ordered an immediate assault upon the enemy’s front. Meanwhile, in the course of the forenoon (June 17), the Americans were reënforced by about one thousand troops. These newcomers, however, had little ammunition and few bayonets. The British, numbering about three thousand, advanced under the gallant lead of General Howe. The Americans reserved their fire until the front ranks were within about fifty yards, when at the first volley so many of the assaulting force fell that the line staggered back in confusion. The second advance met with a still more disastrous repulse. In several of the companies as many as four out of five had fallen; but when the third assault was made, the ammunition of the Americans gave out, and the British were successful. Among the killed were many officers of rank, including Pitcairn, the British commander who had fired the first shot at Lexington, and General Warren,[68] one of the foremost of the American leaders. The British lost one thousand and fifty-four in killed and wounded; the Americans, four hundred and forty-nine. The forces were relatively small, but, in proportion to the numbers on the field, the battle was one of the bloodiest engagements of modern times. On both sides the men fought with a bravery worthy of the best traditions of English courage. Of Howe’s twelve staff officers every one was either killed or wounded. The battle made it evident that untrained American recruits, when behind only temporary defenses, had no need to be afraid to meet disciplined veterans. The British government, dissatisfied with the conduct of General Gage, recalled him and he was superseded by General William Howe.[69]


148. Difficulties confronting Washington.—Washington soon reached the scene of action, and took command of the American army on July 3, under an elm tree which still stands near Harvard University, in Cambridge, commemorating the event. The difficulties which beset him might well have disheartened a less resolute and skillful commander. His embarrassments were chiefly of three kinds. In the first place, the number of men at his command was at no time greater than the number of the regular British troops confronting him. His force had left their farms in midsummer without having enlisted for any definite period, and when the first burst of enthusiasm died away, it was very difficult to keep the ranks filled. In the second place, each of the provinces had its own laws, and consequently there was no uniformity of method and no subordination to any common authority. Washington dismissed sundry officers for insubordination, and he was obliged persistently to urge the governors of the several states to keep their quotas full.[70] In the third place, he soon discovered that the Americans had very little ammunition. There was not enough for a single battle, and it was plain that if at any time during the fall or winter the British should make a vigorous attack, they would in all probability succeed in breaking up the American army. To supply this deficiency Washington sent messengers in every direction. He dispatched an expedition to seize the British stores at the Bermudas; he had cannon dragged on ox sleds from Ticonderoga; and he gradually collected powder from all the country towns in the region.

The Washington Elm, Cambridge.


Boston and Environs, 1776

149. The Taking of Dorchester Heights.—Notwithstanding all these discouragements, Washington drilled the army vigorously throughout the fall and winter. Early in March, 1776, he determined upon a movement which was destined to prove decisive. Dorchester Heights, projecting from the mainland south of Boston, commanded the town from this direction, as Charlestown commanded it from the north. Howe committed a fatal blunder in not establishing himself upon this point; and the consequence was, that one morning he discovered that the enterprising enemy had not only occupied the hill, but had thrown up formidable works commanding the city. A few days later, on March 9, the Americans also constructed works on Nook’s Point, which commanded the Neck and brought every part of the city within range.


150. Evacuation of Boston.—Howe, not caring to repeat the experiences of Bunker Hill, saw that he must evacuate the city. With all his troops he withdrew and sailed for Halifax, March 17, 1776, leaving the Americans in full possession. His force of veterans had been besieged for months by an army of raw troops, which did not at any time exceed in number the army of the besieged. More remarkable still, the besieging army had, during this period, been disbanded and reorganized, and during most of the winter had not had ammunition amounting to more than thirty rounds to a man. This great achievement not only inspired the colonies, but convinced the British government that it had undertaken a most formidable task. Washington, without a battle, had, by his superior strategy, maneuvered his enemy out of the city.


Colonel Benedict Arnold.

151. Expedition into Canada.—While the siege of Boston was going on, Colonel Benedict Arnold[71] suggested that an expedition should be sent for the capture of Montreal and Quebec. Unfortunately, this unwise proposition prevailed. A part of the force under General Montgomery descended Lake Champlain and, after a difficult, brilliant campaign, took Montreal. The other command, under Arnold, after an expedition of almost indescribable hardships through the forests of Maine in the dead of winter, presented itself before Quebec. Montgomery, who had by that time advanced from Montreal, attacked the city from above while Arnold attacked it from below. Montgomery was killed while scaling the heights, and Arnold was severely wounded. Morgan, Arnold’s second in command, pressed forward and would, no doubt, have been successful, if Montgomery’s force had not been thrown into panic by the fall of their leader. Morgan and nearly all his force were taken prisoners, and the expedition was a complete failure.


152. Final Effort of Congress for Peace.—In the course of the same winter (1775–1776), Congress, then in session at Philadelphia, put forth another and a final effort to make terms with the king. A careful and formal statement of grievances was sent to England, but neither the king nor Parliament would receive it, determining instead very greatly to increase the army. This was done, partly by sending additional British troops, and partly by hiring about twenty thousand Germans from some of the lesser German princes. As these mercenaries came very largely from the duchy of Hesse, they were known throughout the war as Hessians. The fact that the British bought the services of foreigners to fight the Americans greatly exasperated the colonists.


153. Washington’s Movements.—After the failure of the Canadian expedition, Washington conjectured that the British would try to get possession of the Hudson by attacking it both from the north and from the south. He had no doubt that Howe’s force would ultimately land at New York. To meet such a movement, he ordered Arnold, as soon as he should recover from his wound, to oppose any approach from the north, while he himself should transfer the greater part of his army to New York. Arriving in April, 1776, he soon found that his conjecture had been correct. Howe, as soon as he had reorganized his forces in Halifax, set sail for the mouth of the Hudson. Here he established headquarters upon Staten Island, where he received reënforcements till he had an army of about thirty thousand men. He soon had the assistance also of a formidable fleet under Admiral Lord Howe, his brother.


General Nathanael Greene.

154. Occupation of New York and Brooklyn.—Washington had not only taken possession of New York City, but had fortified Governor’s Island, as well as Brooklyn, and the New Jersey shore at Paulus Hook opposite New York. Brooklyn Heights were put in command of General Nathanael Greene,[72] but he was suddenly stricken with fever and the command was transferred to General Israel Putnam,[73] with Generals Sullivan and Stirling as subordinate officers, and a force of about nine thousand men.


155. Battle of Long Island.—As this position commanded the city, the British took the natural course of planning an attack from the east. Landing southeast of Brooklyn with about twenty thousand men, August 22 and 25, Howe pushed one of his divisions by a circuitous route toward the north, for the purpose of turning the flank of the Americans and making their escape in that direction impossible. In the battle of Long Island, which ensued, the Americans, having only about five thousand men in the field, were greatly outnumbered and defeated. Generals Sullivan and Stirling, with about two thousand of their men, were taken prisoners. The remainder of the army fell back and rejoined Putnam within the fortifications. Preparations were at once made for a siege. With the British force surrounding Brooklyn on the land side and with Admiral Howe’s fleet in New York Bay, the escape of the army, which Washington had now reënforced to about twelve thousand men, seemed impossible.


156. Retreat to New York.—Washington well knew that the Brooklyn army must either escape or surrender. He therefore caused all the boats and rafts of every kind that could transport men or ammunition, to be brought together from the various streams and bays in the vicinity. So skillfully was this work done, that in the course of a single foggy night, August 29, the boats were collected on the Brooklyn side of the river, and the whole army, with guns and stores, was taken across to New York. This remarkable exploit might, no doubt, have been prevented had there been greater vigilance on the part of the British fleet.


157. Evacuation of New York.—But this bit of good fortune did not enable Washington to hold New York. The British immediately sailed up the East River and prepared to land their forces, if possible, so as to intercept Washington’s army. They secured a footing, September 15, first at Kipp’s Bay, where the Thirty-fourth Street ferry now is, and later at Throg’s Neck, a few miles above; but the main force of the Americans was able to pass up the west coast of the island before the enemy could cut them off.[74] Washington’s troops were not numerous enough to justify a pitched battle; but while retreating, he retarded and annoyed the enemy at every point. On the 28th of October he fought a slight engagement at White Plains, some thirty miles from New York, to hold the British in check while the main army should pass still farther north. The British now withdrew to Dobb’s Ferry and threatened Fort Washington.


158. Loss of Fort Washington and Fort Lee.—The lower Hudson at that time depended for its defense upon two fortifications: Fort Washington, situated near the upper end of Manhattan Island, on which the city of New York stands, and Fort Lee, on the opposite side of the river. Washington decided to abandon these defenses to the British and to establish strong fortifications some forty-five miles up the river. Congress, however, directed that Fort Washington be held, if possible; and the commander unfortunately yielded his opinion so far as to allow General Greene, who was in command of both the forts, to defend them in case he should deem successful defense possible. The result was the most serious of the early disasters of the war. The British broke through the obstructions that had been placed in the river, and having passed with their fleet above Fort Washington, surrounded it in such a way that escape was impossible. When a vigorous assault was made, nearly three thousand American troops were forced to surrender, November 16. The abandonment of Fort Lee necessarily followed.


Colonial Flag, 1776.

159. Lack of Union among the Colonies.—The war was not simply a war of separation; it was also in some of its features a civil war. The loss of New York, including Fort Washington, brought out the American opponents of the Revolution in great force. From the very beginning of the agitation which resulted in independence, there had been three somewhat distinct classes of people among the colonists. One class believed that on the whole the British government was the best in existence, and that the colonists would be benefited by showing a constant spirit of loyalty and fidelity to the Crown. Such people were opposed to every form of agitation that would look to the British like insubordination. The second class, while believing that there were abuses which should and would be corrected, acknowledged the supreme power of Parliament. Like the British, they did not see why their lack of representation differed very greatly in principle from the condition of some of the larger towns in England. They thought also that the abuses could in time be removed by a general and friendly agitation. The third class consisted of the out-and-out reformers. Their leaders were such men as Samuel Adams, James Otis, and Patrick Henry, who believed that if the rights of the colonies were not granted when they were pointed out, the proper course was to fight for them. As the agitation went on and the British government made blunder after blunder, the third of these classes, though at first inferior in numbers to the others, became more perfectly organized and so got the upper hand. But it is a great mistake to suppose that the American people at any time were unanimous on the subject of independence, or even of resistance. It is probable that in the second year of the war, even in New England, one fourth of the people were opposed to it; that in the Middle states the proportion was as great as one-third; and in the Southern states nearly, or quite, as great as one half.


160. The Tories.—All those who were opposed to the action of Congress naturally came to be regarded as enemies, and were known as Tories. From the first they made a vast amount of trouble. During the siege of Boston they were numerous, outspoken, and influential. They desired that the Revolutionary cause should fail. They acted as spies and carried information to the British; and whenever the patriot cause suffered any check or disaster, they did whatever they could to show that successful resistance was impossible. In the State of New York the Tories from the first were not only numerous, but very active. Soon after Washington took possession of the city he discovered that Tryon, the Tory governor, was at the bottom of a plot to capture or kill the commander in chief, and turn over the city to the enemy. Tryon escaped, but some of the other leaders were arrested and tried, and one of Washington’s own guards, who had been bribed, was publicly hanged. Though this summary procedure discouraged the Tories, they continued to be of great service to the British and of great annoyance to the Americans. In New York and in the South the struggle was attended with many of the horrors of civil war.


General William Moultrie.

161. Carleton’s Expedition.—While Washington had been unsuccessfully attempting to resist the advances of the British in New York, the Americans had been more fortunate in other parts of the country. An expedition under Sir Guy Carleton, the governor of Canada, was planned to advance up the river St. John, into Lake Champlain, and down the Hudson, but it met so vigorous a resistance from Arnold near Valcour’s Island, that, although Arnold’s fleet was almost destroyed, the British were obliged to return to Montreal for winter quarters.


162. Expedition of Sir Henry Clinton.—In the South the enemy fared no better. Sir Henry Clinton, with about two thousand men, had been sent from Boston, while the siege was going on, to take possession of North Carolina; but the sturdy Scotchmen of that state, who were generally Tories, were defeated by the patriots, who immediately organized so powerful a resistance that Clinton did not attempt even to land. Reënforced a little later by a British fleet of ten ships under Sir Peter Parker, he advanced upon Charleston in South Carolina. Vigorous preparations for resistance had already been made, under the direction of General Lee. General William Moultrie[75] constructed a low fort in Charleston Harbor, chiefly of palmetto logs and sand, which proved an effectual barrier to the British advance. The shots from the fleet sank into the spongy logs without doing much damage, while the shots from the fort were so effective as to disable nine of the ten ships (June 28). The gallantry of this defense has caused the fort ever since to be known as Fort Moultrie, although events of the War between the States have caused the neighboring Fort Sumter to become more famous. Clinton’s land force being held back for lack of suitable boats, the expedition proved a complete failure, and the British with their disabled ships returned to the North.


Richard Henry Lee.

163. Growing Spirit of Independence.—Of much greater importance than the events in the field were the events in Congress. At the beginning of the contest public opinion in America very generally attributed the course of Great Britain to bad leaders in Parliament rather than to the king. At first there was a strong feeling of loyalty and even affection toward George III., which would have made it easy for him to heal all differences. One effort after another had been made to induce the king to consider the petitions and remonstrances sent him, but these efforts had all failed. Even as late as the beginning of the war there was very little general thought of independence. But at the end of May, soon after the news of the first conflict at Lexington and Concord reached North Carolina, the people of Mecklenburg County assembled and passed a series of resolutions, declaring that as the mother country had pronounced the Americans rebels, the colonists were absolved from all further allegiance. This declaration seems to have attracted very little attention at the time; but as events progressed, public opinion drifted so rapidly in this direction, that early in the summer of 1776 the leading minds came one after another to the conclusion that independence was inevitable. Final action was not the result of any sudden impulse, but of most careful consideration.


Thomas Jefferson.

House in which Jefferson wrote the
Declaration of Independence
, corner of
Market and Seventh Streets, Philadelphia.

164. Signing of the Declaration.—After much private discussion had revealed the opinions of the members of Congress, Richard Henry Lee,[76] on the 7th of June, offered a resolution that “these united colonies are and ought to be independent states, and they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown.” The resolution was vigorously opposed by Dickinson of Pennsylvania and Livingston of New York, partly on the ground that a sufficient time had not yet elapsed for an answer from the king, and partly because the individual colonies had not yet authorized such action. But the colonies did not long hesitate. Most of them had already erected independent governments of their own. As early as July, 1775, Massachusetts had formed a government in which the king’s authority was practically set aside, and James Bowdoin was made chief executive officer and John Adams chief justice. Before July, 1776, all the other provinces, with the exception of New York, had taken similar measures, and more than two-thirds of them had voted for independence and had instructed their delegates to vote for Lee’s resolution. This resolution was accordingly adopted by Congress on the 2d of July. A committee, with Thomas Jefferson[77] as chairman, had been appointed in June to draw up a formal declaration in case independence should be agreed upon. Jefferson, then only thirty-three years of age, wrote the paper which, after slight modifications by Franklin and Adams, was adopted as the Declaration of Independence, on the 4th of July, 1776. This immortal document was thus put forth as an expression of the deliberate and firm conviction of the American people that the priceless treasure of human liberty could be preserved in no other manner. As the members one after another, with a solemn sense of the danger of this momentous act, signed the memorable document, Franklin[78] threw a gleam of sunshine upon the occasion by remarking that they must now all hang together, or they would hang separately.


Old Statehouse in Philadelphia, now
known as Independence Hall.

165. Purport and Effect of the Declaration.—The Declaration of Independence was aimed directly at the Crown. It charged the king with “repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States.” This general indictment was sustained, with some exaggerations but with essential truthfulness, by no less than eighteen accusations, or separate counts, aimed at the king, and the king alone. So far as the purpose of the colonies was defined by the Declaration, it was not a contest against the parliamentary government of Great Britain, but a contest against those unconstitutional usurpations of the Crown to which the colonies would not submit. From this point of view many modern criticisms of the document are seen to be hypercritical. However much the signers may have exaggerated specific charges, they did not exaggerate the general danger to be apprehended from the king’s self-willed conduct.

Benjamin Franklin.

Portion of the Declaration of Independence.


166. Washington’s First Campaign in New Jersey.—After the fall of Fort Washington and the withdrawal from Fort Lee, Washington planned to concentrate the main portion of his army in New Jersey, to prevent the enemy from advancing upon Philadelphia. In crossing to New Jersey he had left General Charles Lee, with seven thousand men, at Northcastle on the east side of the Hudson. Washington now directed General Heath to fortify the Highlands about Peekskill and West Point in the strongest manner possible, and ordered General Lee to join the main army in New Jersey.


167. Disobedience and Capture of Lee.—For reasons which were long unexplained, Lee disobeyed the order of Washington, and chose to remain where he was. Repeated orders were disobeyed, but finally Lee made a show of obedience. He reached Morristown, however, with only three thousand of his seven thousand troops. Scarcely had he posted this fragment of his army on the Morristown Heights when, leaving the immediate command to Sullivan, he took quarters in a small public house some miles away. A Tory, learning of this fact, galloped eighteen miles with the news to the British, and the consequence was that Lee, in dressing gown and slippers, was taken prisoner by a troop of British dragoons. From Lee’s subsequent career (§§ 183, 184) and the discovery of his correspondence, it now seems probable that he already had traitorous designs.


168. Washington’s Difficulties and his Retreat.—The capture of Lee left Sullivan in command of the Northern army, and that officer moved at once to the support of Washington; but the difficulties of the situation seemed overwhelming. Howe and Cornwallis had crossed into New Jersey with a force more than twice as great as that of the Americans. Moreover, as the terms of enlistment expired, Washington found it almost impossible to keep his ranks full. Still worse, Howe, desiring to take advantage of the apparent lack of enthusiasm on the part of the American patriots, now made a final effort to induce them to throw down their arms. This was done under a promise of full pardon and protection to all who should abandon the Continental cause. More than three thousand persons, believing there was no possibility of success for the Americans, yielded to these allurements and deserted to the British. Tories everywhere now emerged from their obscurity and boldly asserted their allegiance to the king. Washington could not venture battle with his inferior force, but, with masterly skill, he slowly withdrew his army, crossing stream after stream with the British close on his heels. Even the broad waters of the Delaware did not baffle him. Pressed hard by superior forces, he threw his army across the river and destroyed all the boats on the opposite bank for nearly one hundred miles. His opponents found it impossible to follow, and decided to wait for the river to freeze over.

Retreat across New Jersey, 1776–1777


169. Washington turns upon his Enemy.—Howe and Cornwallis thought the war practically at an end. Deciding to leave their army east of the Delaware, with its center at Trenton and its wings at Burlington and Princeton, they returned to New York for the festivities of the holidays, where Howe was to celebrate the knighthood conferred upon him for the capture of New York. But Washington had a Christmas surprise in store for them. Including the forces of Gates and Sullivan, he now commanded about six thousand men. The loose disposition of Howe’s troops gave him an opportunity which he immediately turned to account. He decided by a secret movement to strike a hard blow at the British center. His plan was to cross the Delaware in three divisions. The right wing, under Gates and Cadwalader, was to attack the Hessians under Donop at Burlington; Ewing was to cross and attack the center at Trenton; while Washington himself, with the left wing six miles up the river, was to cross at that point and march down on the other side to attack the British flank and rear. Gates had asked and been allowed to go to Philadelphia, where he was already intriguing with Congress in order to supplant Washington. The right wing and the center found the river, filled as it was with floating ice, too difficult to cross, but Washington’s determination and skill at once showed themselves.


170. Battle of Trenton.—Just as he was ready for the advance, news came that his right and center had failed, and yet, without a moment’s hesitation, he decided himself to push on with all the greater energy.[79] Blocks of floating ice made the crossing next to impossible. Colonel Glover, with a force of Marblehead fishermen, was put in charge of the boats. In the course of ten hours he succeeded in taking twenty-five hundred men across with their guns and munitions. They now had six miles to march in a blinding storm. After a night so cold that two men of their number were frozen to death, they reached Trenton at daybreak. Planting their guns so as to rake the streets, they made escape impossible. Colonel Rahl, of the enemy, and seventeen of his men were killed; the others surrendered (December 26). Donop, fearing to be cut off by the advance of Washington, fell back to Princeton. Washington recrossed the river with his prisoners, but on the 29th took up his position once more at Trenton. Thus the center of the British army was destroyed.


171. Advance of Cornwallis.—Howe and Cornwallis, so rudely disturbed in the midst of their Christmas festivities, saw in a moment that a blow must be struck to recover the lost ground. With a force of about eight thousand men, Cornwallis advanced by way of New Brunswick and Princeton, where he established magazines and supplies, with a strong force to guard them. The army, harassed along every mile of the way by sharpshooters, reached Trenton on the 2d of January. Meanwhile Washington had moved in a southern direction, and taken up his position on the left bank of the Assanpink, a small stream flowing into the Delaware on the north side, not far south of Trenton. The crossings were guarded with such care that Cornwallis decided to allow his men, tired from their rapid march, to rest until the following day. His plan was to attack in front and along Washington’s right flank, and so force him back upon the Delaware, where he would be obliged to surrender. After observing the situation, Cornwallis went to bed in high spirits, saying, “At last we have run down the old fox, and will bag him in the morning.”


172. The Battle of Princeton.—But in the morning the “old fox” was gone. Ordering a force of men to keep fires burning along the front of the camp, and to make a show of strengthening the breastworks, Washington, with his main army, crossed the Assanpink, and passing around the left flank of the British, fell upon the force at Princeton at daybreak. The movement, brilliantly conceived and carefully planned, was completely successful. The British force at Princeton, after losing about five hundred men, was cut in two, one part retreating to New Brunswick and the other falling back to Trenton. In this remarkable fight (January 3, 1777) the American loss was less than one hundred.


173. Retreat of Cornwallis.—When Cornwallis found an empty camp before him and heard the sound of cannon in the direction of Princeton, he fell back at once, in order to protect his stores. At Princeton the full meaning of the disaster was revealed. Washington, at no time strong enough to risk a general battle, now contented himself with destroying bridges, harassing the enemy at every point, and finally taking up a commanding position on the heights of Morristown. To support himself on either flank, he ordered Heath to come down from the highlands of the Hudson to Hackensack, and Putnam to advance from Philadelphia to Trenton. Conrwallis, finding himself thus confronted, withdrew to Paulus Hook and New York. Thus, in the dead of winter, Washington, with a greatly inferior force, had fought two successful battles, had taken prisoners numbering more than a third of his whole army, and had practically driven the British out of New Jersey. This campaign saved the Revolution.

Continental Currency.


174. Influence of Washington’s Success.—The influence of Washington’s success was shown at once in many ways. In the first place it encouraged men to reënlist. The period for which many of the recruits had gone into the army had expired on the 1st of January. They had received very little pay, and the paper money they got had now fallen greatly in value. In the face of a defeat, few would have reëntered the service; but for the payment of those who would reënlist, Washington pledged his own fortune, and thus succeeded in keeping his army intact. Another beneficial effect was shown in the influence exerted upon the British army and the Tories. Large numbers of Hessians now deserted, in order to avail themselves of the offers of land that had been made by Congress; and many men of doubtful loyalty who, a few months before, had accepted the pardon offered by Howe, now made patriotic response to the counter-proclamation of Washington, requiring that they should either retire to the British lines or take the oath of allegiance to the United States.


Marquis de Lafayette.

175. Effects of the Campaign in Europe.—But the most important result of this remarkable winter campaign was its influence on the various powers of Europe. Washington’s generalship called out the hearty commendation of Frederick the Great. In France a still greater interest was awakened. In the autumn of 1776 Franklin had been sent to Paris to secure a treaty. The sympathies of Louis XVI. were with George III.; but, on the other hand, the French people had hated England ever since the fall of Quebec. Throughout France there was also beginning to be a widespread revolutionary spirit. The disposition to recognize the independence of the United States greatly increased as soon as there was any probability of success. Though the French government still hesitated, many brave officers, such as Lafayette[80] and De Kalb, privately offered their services to the American cause. Lafayette, not yet twenty years of age and just married, threw himself into the enterprise with unlimited enthusiasm. He fitted out a ship at his own expense, and, leaving wife and friends behind, devoted all his powers to the new cause. Along with ten other officers, he arrived in America in the spring of 1777.


176. Reorganization of the American Army.—Congress now reorganized the army and conferred upon Washington powers that were practically those of a dictator. It also called for an army of seventy-eight thousand men, sixty-six thousand from the states and twelve thousand to be raised by Washington and to be subject only to national control. But as Congress had no power to enforce its laws, the full number of troops called for was never provided. The army was, however, somewhat enlarged in size and greatly improved in quality.

References.—The same as at the end of Chapter VI.

Born, Westmoreland County, Virginia, February 22 (old style, February 11), 1732; died, Mt. Vernon, Virginia, December 14, 1799. Received only an elementary education; became a surveyor; served in French and Indian War; became a prominent planter; favored the patriotic cause; commander in chief, 1775–1783; presided over Convention of 1787; President, 1789–1797; commander in chief of provisional army, 1798.

Born, 1741; died, 1775. Graduated at Harvard and became physician in Boston; member of committee of correspondence, 1774; a noted orator; chairman of Committee of Public Safety and president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress in 1775; actively engaged in raising volunteers in 1775; commissioned major general by the Provincial Congress, but waived his rank in favor of the veteran Prescott, and fought and died as a private soldier.

Born, 1729; died, 1814. Served under Wolfe at Quebec; commander in chief of British forces in America in 1775; was superseded by Sir Henry Clinton in 1778, though he was knighted for his successes about New York in 1776; was unsuccessful as a strategist, and noted for his indolence.

To the president of Congress he wrote: “There must be some other stimulus besides love of their country to make men fond of the service.” And again he wrote: “Such a dearth of public virtue; such a stock-jobbing and strife to obtain advantage of one kind and another, I never saw before, and I pray God’s mercy I may never be witness to again. I tremble at the prospect. Could I have foreknown what I have experienced, no consideration upon earth could have induced me to accept this command.”

Born, 1741; died, 1801. At the outbreak of the war in 1775 left his business in Connecticut to join the service; was commissioned colonel by the Massachusetts Provincial Congress; acquired immediate fame by his attack on Quebec; was advanced to brigadier general; was defeated by the British at Valcour Island in Lake Champlain, October, 1776; made a skillful retreat; took leading part in campaign against Burgoyne in 1777; was given command in Philadelphia, when he fell under the influence of prominent Tories, one of whose daughters he married; entered into correspondence under an assumed name with an officer of Howe’s army; sought and obtained command of West Point for the purpose of turning it over to the enemy; escaped to the British, from whom he received a sum of money, a brigadier generalship in the army, and the command of a force in Virginia. His last days were spent in England.

Born, 1742; died, 1786. Member of the Rhode Island assembly in 1770; joined a military company in 1774; became brigadier general in 1775; major general in 1776; showed great military talents at Dorchester Heights, Brooklyn, Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, and Germantown; succeeded Gates in the South, 1780, and by his strategic skill in opposing Cornwallis and Lord Rawdon, cleared the South and drove Cornwallis into the position which resulted in the surrender at Yorktown. Washington regarded him as the most skillful of his generals, and posterity has confirmed this judgment.

Born, 1718; died, 1790. A noted ranger in the Indian Wars; served at Bunker Hill; major general, 1775; commanded in defeat of Long Island, 1776, in Highlands of the Hudson, 1777, and in Connecticut, 1778–1779; disabled by paralysis, 1779. Famed for fight with wolf, and for other exploits.

The American troops, notwithstanding the energetic threats of Washington, acted in a very cowardly manner and offered little resistance at Kipp’s Bay, and Howe had no difficulty in landing. Had he pushed rapidly across Manhattan Island, Putnam’s army would inevitably have been cut off. But Mrs. Lindley Murray, whose mansion stood on Murray Hill, invited the British officers to refresh themselves with luncheon, whereupon a halt was called, and they were detained for two hours. During this time Putnam with his army of four thousand marched up the west side of the island and soon joined Washington.

Born, 1731; died, 1805. Member of Continental Congress from South Carolina in 1775; defended Sullivan’s Island in 1776; defeated the British at Beaufort and defended Charleston in 1779; was governor of South Carolina in 1785 and 1794.

Born, 1732; died, 1794. Educated in England; was a leader of the Virginia House of Burgesses, 1761 to 1788; opposed the slave trade and the Stamp Act; was one of the first to suggest the famous committees of correspondence; was on the committee to draft the address of the First Continental Congress; drafted the address of the Second Congress; moved the Resolution of Independence; was very earnest in his opposition to the adoption of the Federal Constitution in 1788; was a prominent Anti-Federalist and United States senator, 1789 to 1792.

Born, 1743; died, 1826. Graduated at William and Mary College; became a lawyer and entered House of Burgesses in 1769; was active in Revolutionary agitation as a writer rather than as a speaker; drafted the instructions to the Virginia delegates and consequently was proscribed by Great Britain; soon after drafting the Declaration of Independence, left Congress to reënter Virginian politics, where as governor and legislator he exerted much influence in securing reforms; went to France as plenipotentiary in 1784; returned to America in 1789, just after the adoption of the Constitution; became first Secretary of State; wrote much to show his fears that the provisions of the Constitution would end in monarchy; became Vice President, 1797–1801; President, 1801–1809; retired to Monticello and founded the University of Virginia.

Born, 1706; died, 1790. Apprenticed in Boston as a printer, and developed great fondness for reading and writing; ran away to Philadelphia in 1723; established a newspaper in 1729; advanced rapidly in prominence through his talents as a writer and success as a scientific discoverer; was appointed Deputy Postmaster-general of the British colonies in 1753; was the moving spirit of the Albany convention in 1754; was agent for Pennsylvania in England from 1764 to the Revolution; also for a part of the time agent for Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Georgia; returning in 1775, was one of the committee to draw up the Declaration of Independence; was sent to join Arthur Lee and Silas Deane as Ministers to France in autumn of 1776; was received with great enthusiasm in Paris, and obtained not only the Treaty of 1778, but also large sums of money for the assistance of the colonies; played an important part in negotiating the Treaty of 1783; was chosen president of Pennsylvania in 1785, 1786, and 1787, and was an influential member of the Federal Convention of 1787.

One of Washington’s captains, in his memoirs, relates a feat which illustrates Washington’s spirit, as well as his great physical strength. He says that, as they were breaking camp for the march, two soldiers had wound up Washington’s tent around the tent pole, and were trying in vain to lift it to the top of a high, loaded wagon. Washington came along in fiery impatience, and seeing their fruitless efforts, seized the pole in the middle with one hand, and threw it far above his head upon the top of the load.

Born, September, 1757; died, May, 1834. French nobleman, whose sympathy for the American colonies was early excited; landed in South Carolina in the spring of 1777; was appointed major general in July, 1777; was wounded at Brandywine; served at Monmouth and in Rhode Island; sat on court-martial which tried André; commanded with much skill in Virginia against Arnold and Cornwallis in 1781; returned to France at close of the war, but came to America for a short visit in 1784; commanded the National Guard at the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789; was removed by the Jacobins in 1792; escaped to Belgium, where he was seized; was confined in Prussian and Austrian prisons till 1797; remained in retirement during the Napoleonic régime; visited United States in 1824–1825; commanded National Guard of France in the Revolution of 1830.

George Washington.


the campaign of 1777.


177. Plans of the British for 1777.—The British saw that if the next campaign was to be successful the war must be pushed forward on a much larger scale. They determined on three important movements. General Howe was to be reënforced so that while holding New York he could open the Hudson to Albany. From the north a new and more powerful expedition, under General Burgoyne, was to repeat the attempt of Sir Guy Carleton. A third expedition, under Colonel St. Leger, was to ascend the St. Lawrence into Lake Ontario, and from Oswego, after taking Fort Stanwix and clearing the Valley of the Mohawk, unite with Burgoyne and Howe in the vicinity of Albany. This comprehensive plan, if successful, would not only separate New England from the rest of the colonies, but would restore to the British the State of New York.


General Philip Schuyler.

178. Burgoyne’s Difficulties and Disappointments.—Burgoyne,[81] ascending the St. Lawrence, entered Lake Champlain with about eight thousand men, consisting partly of British veterans and partly of Hessians. He had no difficulty in taking Fort Ticonderoga, for General Gates in providing for its defense had committed the same blunder that Howe had committed in neglecting Dorchester Heights (§ 149). On a high, rocky point just south of the fort, General Phillips, one of Burgoyne's officers, succeeded in planting siege guns; and Gates saw at once that he must withdraw. But Burgoyne had no further success. He had expected large reënforcements from the Tory inhabitants, but in this he was disappointed. The preparations for meeting the British had been admirably planned by General Philip Schuyler,[82] who was in command of the Northern division of the army, with headquarters at Albany. His policy was to impede the march of the enemy until the Americans had time to gather strength. When Burgoyne began to press his way southward, he found that trees had been felled across every road, and the best he could do was to advance at the rate of only about a mile a day. Meanwhile the inhabitants of the region round about were rising, and sharpshooters began to harass him from every direction. When he reached Whitehall he realized that he was in danger of failing for want of provisions.


General John Stark.

179. The Bennington Expedition.—Hearing that the Americans had large stores at Bennington, Burgoyne now sent a force of about one thousand men, under two Hessian officers, Baum and Breymann, to capture them. The news of the expedition spread rapidly, and hundreds of patriots flocked to the defense. Among them was “good” Parson Allen, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, who led an eager company from the Berkshire Hills. They were commanded by General John Stark,[83] who had already distinguished himself in the old French War, and at Bunker Hill, at Trenton, and at Princeton. With his reënforcements, Stark’s command now outnumbered Baum’s by two to one. Baum, seeing that resistance was to be offered, drew up his troops on high ground near the town and awaited an attack. On the morning of August 16, Stark stealthily threw a part of his men into the rear, while in front he led the attack in person. The Germans, thinking the troops in the rear were those “blessed” Tories they had been looking for, were thrown into confusion on the first attack from front and rear, and were soon forced to surrender. Baum was mortally wounded, and Breymann, on his way to the support of Baum, was met and defeated by a force under General Seth Warner. This exploit, one of the most brilliant of the war, cost the British two hundred and seven killed and wounded, and more than seven hundred prisoners, besides four field-pieces and a thousand stand of arms. The loss of the Americans amounted to forty killed and forty-two wounded.


180. General Schuyler Superseded.—There was much jealousy between New England and New York, and much consequent intrigue. General Gates had long been scheming with Congress for his own advancement. He and his friends were now able to point out what the people of New England could do at Bennington, as contrasted with what General Schuyler had been able to do in New York. The result of the intrigue was that General Schuyler was removed and Gates was placed in command in his stead.


General John Burgoyne.

181. Movements of Burgoyne.—No general change of policy resulted from Schuyler’s removal. Burgoyne, finding himself in danger of being hemmed in at Whitehall, was forced to move toward the west and across the Hudson. Lincoln, with the New England militia, closed in on his rear, while Putnam arrived with a force from the Highlands and Arnold returned from the Valley of the Mohawk, where he had aided in repulsing St. Leger. It became daily more evident that unless relief should arrive from General Howe, Burgoyne must either defeat the Americans or surrender his whole army. No reënforcements came, and two vigorous attempts at Freeman’s Farm and Bemis Heights were frustrated by the skill and vigor of the troops commanded by Arnold and Morgan. The source of supplies for the British was now cut off; and, attempting to retreat by way of Saratoga, Burgoyne found his army completely surrounded by a force more than twice the size of his own. On the 17th of October he was obliged to capitulate, and surrendered with his entire force of more than seven thousand men.

Burgoyne demanded, and Gates consented, that the final act should be deemed a “convention” instead of a surrender or capitulation. Hence British historians are accustomed to refer to the event as the “Convention of Saratoga.” The terms, however, were not essentially different. The troops were allowed to march out with the honors of war, and to march to Boston, where they were to embark for home. An oath was required that they would not again serve in the American war. But a misunderstanding soon ensued, and Congress repudiated the convention, in consequence of which Burgoyne and his army were not sent home, but retained as prisoners. Burgoyne, however, was permitted to go in the following spring. He soon entered Parliament and became a stanch defender of the American cause. The army was transferred to a camp at Charlottesville, Virginia. Before 1783 they had dispersed and many had settled in different parts of the country.


182. St. Leger’s Campaign.—St. Leger fared scarcely better in his Western campaign. Advancing early in the spring from Oswego, he reached, on August 3, Fort Stanwix, an important point in Oneida County, now the city of Rome. He at once began the siege. A few days later a force of about eight hundred militia, gathered in the Mohawk Valley by General Herkimer, a veteran of the French war, advanced for the relief of the fort. Near Oriskany, however, his force fell into an ambuscade prepared by Sir John Johnson, the leader of the Tories, and Brant, the greatest of Mohawk chiefs. The battle was not decisive, but the confidence of the Indians and Tories was completely broken, and the Indians rapidly deserted. General Herkimer, severely wounded, died some days afterward.[84] The panic of the British was increased by the approach of a force under Arnold, which had been sent from Albany by Schuyler. St. Leger, attacked by a vigorous sortie from the fort on the one side, and by the surrounding patriots on the other, saw no chance of success, and accordingly beat a hasty retreat.[85] Thus both the British expeditions in the North were complete failures.


183. Blunder of the British Government.—It had been the design of the British government that General Howe, while holding New York with a part of his force, should ascend the Hudson with the other part for the reënforcement of Burgoyne; but the British minister of war, instead of sending peremptory orders, left much to the discretion of Howe.[86] This gave an opportunity for the scheming designs of General Lee, who was still a prisoner of war in the hands of the British. Lee had formerly been an officer in the British army, and Howe had serious thoughts of hanging him for desertion; but Washington wrote to Howe that he held five Hessian officers, whom he should treat as hostages for Lee. The British, thereupon, not daring to risk the anger of the Hessians that would surely follow an execution, concluded to hold Lee simply as prisoner of war, subject to exchange. But Lee, meantime, hoping to gain the favor of Great Britain, drew up an elaborate plan, advising the British in regard to the best method of assuring success. This treasonable paper, indorsed as “Mr. Lee’s plan, March 29, 1777,” was not discovered until eighty years after the war.


184. General Lee’s Advice.—The advice of Lee was that Howe direct all his energies to an attack upon Philadelphia; and accordingly, as soon as the British commander heard of the success of Burgoyne in taking Ticonderoga, he decided to adopt this plan. His first purpose was, while leaving New York in command of a small force, to advance with the greater part of his army across New Jersey. But Washington, detecting his purpose, threw up strong intrenchments at Middlebrook, directly athwart his path. Howe thought it not prudent either to attack directly, or, by marching around, to leave his opponent in the rear. After nearly two months of unsuccessful effort to bring Washington to battle, he changed his plan, and about the middle of July withdrew his army to Staten Island.


185. Movements of Howe.—It became evident at once to Washington that Howe’s purpose was to put his force upon a fleet and either ascend the Hudson or sail to the south. The American commander was not left very long in doubt. Leaving eighteen hundred men under Sir Henry Clinton in New York, Howe put to sea. Washington at once inferred that Howe had gone south, but it was necessary to guard against the possibility of his turning suddenly northward and advancing up the Hudson. On account of supposed obstacles in the Delaware below Philadelphia, Howe passed on one hundred miles farther, into Chesapeake Bay, and landed his army at Elkton. Hearing of Howe’s arrival, Washington turned south to meet him. In order to prevent a panic in Philadelphia, he marched his army of eleven thousand men through the city.


186. Battle of the Brandywine.—It was evident that Howe would advance upon Philadelphia without delay. Though Washington had only eleven thousand men with whom to meet Howe’s eighteen thousand, he decided to contest the advance in a battle. Accordingly the Americans were posted along the north bank of Brandywine Creek, with their center at Chadd’s Ford. The position was admirably chosen, and the forces were skillfully posted. But the British decided to force the passage by means of a flank movement. On the morning of September 11, Cornwallis, who commanded the British left, marched up the river some eighteen miles by the Lancaster road and crossed at Jeffrey’s Ford, intending to pass around and attack the Americans in the rear. The success of such a movement depended upon its secrecy. Washington, fortunately, learned of the operation in time to order Sullivan to change his front and meet Cornwallis as he approached. But for this discovery the Americans would undoubtedly have been routed and a large part of the army captured. Sullivan fought with great bravery and skill, but he was not able to repulse the enemy. In order to support Sullivan the whole American army fell back, but it fell back in good order, chiefly through the masterly skill of Greene. The Americans lost a little more than a thousand, and the loss of the British was about six hundred. The skill of the Americans in the retreat was shown by the fact that Washington opposed the advance of the British so vigorously that fifteen days were consumed by Howe in a march of twenty-six miles to the city. On September 26 the British moved into Philadelphia. Cornwallis was left in command of the city, while Howe established his headquarters at the adjacent village of Germantown.


187. Needs of the British; Battle of Germantown.—As the American army had not been crippled, it was easy for Washington to cut off the supplies of his enemy on the landward side. The British were therefore dependent upon vessels from the sea. To clear the river of obstructions a force was at once sent from Philadelphia. Washington determined to take advantage of this advance and to attack the main army at Germantown, while the British were thus temporarily weakened. Such extraordinary audacity on the part of an army which had just been defeated seems never to have entered the minds of the British. But on the evening of the 3d of October, Washington began his march, with the purpose of nothing less than the destruction or capture of Howe’s force. The town was to be approached by four roads, the army consisting of two divisions, under Greene and Sullivan. The advance arrived at the outskirts of the village at daybreak, but unfortunately a heavy fog came up, so that it was impossible for the different lines to recognize one another. The Americans advanced successfully in four different columns and seemed likely to push the British back upon the river and completely overwhelm them; but, in the center of the field, one of the brigades of General Greene’s division came into collision with one from that of General Sullivan. Each, supposing the enemy had been met, fired upon the other.[87] A confusion resulted which gave the British time to recover, and the Americans were finally repulsed. This battle is universally considered as one of the boldest fought by the Americans, and it came wonderfully near to complete success. Howe and Cornwallis were now left for the winter in Philadelphia, while Washington took up his winter quarters at Valley Forge, only a few miles away, where he could prevent the British from foraging the country.

References.—The same as at the end of Chapter VI.

Born, 1723; died, 1792. Member of the House of Commons and lieutenant general in the army; served in Canada early in the war; returned to England after the “Convention” at Saratoga; published State of the Expedition, in 1780; published a number of poems and comedies of some temporary note.

Born, 1733; died, 1804. Fought in French and Indian War; was member of the First Continental Congress; was included in the first list of major generals in 1775; was assigned to department of northern New York; was superseded by Gates; resigned in 1779, but continued to be a trusted adviser of Washington, and was appointed Indian commissioner; was United States senator, 1789–1791 and 1797–1798.

Born, 1728; died, 1822. After the service briefly indicated in the text, he resigned in 1777; was demanded as leader by the New Hampshire militia at the time of Burgoyne’s invasion; was advanced to the grade of brigadier general and served till the end of the war.

After General Herkimer was wounded, he had himself placed at the foot of a tree, where he continued to issue commands with stentorian voice. At the close of the battle he was taken to his house, about thirty-five miles away, and died after an unskillful operation. A tall granite obelisk was erected to his memory, near the site of this battle.

The repulse of St. Leger and the relief of Fort Stanwix possess peculiar interest from the fact that on that spot and on that day (August 6, 1777) the American flag, substantially as we now know it, was first raised. Congress had adopted the national flag in June, 1777. After a sortie which had been successful in driving back the besieging force of St. Leger, Colonel Willett, the patriot in command, hoisted a captured British flag, and put over it a rude banner of stars and stripes hastily patched together from a white shirt, a blue jacket, and a red flannel petticoat of a soldier’s wife.

While the state of the country and the roads made it impossible for the British divisions to support, or even communicate with, each other, the Americans, working from within, could strike in either direction, wherever the blow would be the most effective. As the bodies of British troops were to work from without, toward a common center, it was of the highest importance to them that each should be under specific orders when and how to move. This was understood by the British ministry, but for some reason long unaccountable, Howe received no specific orders whatever. Such an order was really made, but when it had been prepared for the signature of the British minister of war, Lord George Germain, he petulantly objected to the clerical work, and ordered that a fair copy should be made. That night the minister went to his country seat, and the copy was placed in a pigeonhole to await his return. It was forgotten until long after Burgoyne surrendered. The delayed order directed Howe to ascend the Hudson and coöperate with Burgoyne.

Stephen, whose brigade fired upon that of Wayne, was tried by court-martial and dismissed from the service.


the french alliance and the campaigns of 1778 and 1779.


188. Change in the Commissariat of the Army.—Nearly a year before the close of the campaigns just described, Congress had very unwisely determined to make a change in the control of the commissariat of the army. Up to this time it had been a part of the military service and had been successfully managed by Colonel Trumbull; but it was now decided to appoint two officers,—one for procuring the supplies, and another for distributing them. This system of divided responsibility caused the greatest discomfort to the army.


189. The Winter at Valley Forge.—Washington’s force, in its winter quarters at Valley Forge, was subjected to terrible suffering. On the 22d of December two brigades became mutinous, because for three days they had gone without bread and for two days without meat. On the following day Washington informed Congress that he had in camp two thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight men “unfit for duty because they are barefooted and otherwise naked.” Even when his army first marched into winter quarters, their route could be traced on the snow by the blood that oozed from their bare and frost-bitten feet; and matters grew worse as the winter advanced. This condition was not owing to any actual want of supplies, for it was afterward found that “hogsheads of shoes, stockings, and clothing were lying at different places on the roads and in the woods, perishing for want of teams or of money to pay the teamsters.” It was in consequence of gross mismanagement on the part of the commissariat, that the winter at Valley Forge was one of such memorable suffering and death.

The Middle Atlantic States


Baron von Steuben.

190. The Coming of Baron von Steuben.—But the winter, sad as it was in most respects, brought one great advantage. Agents in Europe succeeded in persuading one of the most efficient soldiers from the staff of Frederick the Great to offer his experience to the American cause. This was Baron von Steuben.[88] He had gone through every grade of the Prussian service up to the rank of marshal, and his knowledge of military drill caused him to be appointed inspector general of the American armies. It would be difficult to overestimate the value of his services. He found the raw American troops completely unaccustomed to the exact military methods of Europe, and he set himself to teach them all the arts and methods of the regular soldier. Taking a musket in his hand, this Prussian officer of highest rank devoted himself from morning till night to the most elementary, as well as the most intricate, parts of military drill. Thus, in the course of the terrible winter at Valley Forge, Baron von Steuben brought the army into a condition of efficiency it had never known before.


191. General Causes of Discontent.—During this winter there were numerous matters that occasioned great anxiety. It is at the present time easy to see that Washington’s plan of conducting the war was the only one that gave any promise of success. But it was one that could be easily misunderstood and misrepresented. It was possible for unfriendly critics to say that he had been driven from New York; that he had lost Philadelphia; and that he had been defeated in two important battles. It was also easy to overlook the far more important fact that he had kept his army intact, and that he had managed to fight and to avoid fighting in such a way as to keep the enemy occupied at the center so that the great object of the British campaign, the opening of the Hudson, was completely frustrated.


General Horatio Gates.

192. Intrigues of Gates and Others.—The country was not lacking in people who were ready to seize upon opportunities for slander and intrigue. John Hancock, the first president of Congress, had been ambitious for the position of commander in chief, and, as many charged, had, in consequence of his failure to obtain that office, resigned his presidency in disgust. The impetuous Samuel Adams, and even John Adams, had uttered loud complaints over what was called the “Fabian policy,” and had clamored for a short and decisive war. The success of the Northern army had enabled Gates,[89] who was the arch-intriguer of the time, to present his claims with some show of plausibility. By distributing promises throughout the army he created a widespread sentiment in behalf of Washington’s removal and his own appointment. His friends sent letters from every quarter to members of Congress, representing that before Gates had commanded the army of the North, Burgoyne had had uninterrupted success, and that immediately after Gates’s appointment the coils were rapidly thrown about the British commander until he was compelled to surrender. Of course no mention was made of the fact that the victory at Bennington was solely due to Stark and his New England volunteers; that the repulse of St. Leger was due to Herkimer and Arnold; and that the two victories over Burgoyne were due chiefly to the vigor and skill of Arnold and Morgan.


193. The Conway Cabal.—The most conspicuous manager of the intrigue was an Irish-American officer, by the name of Conway, who had not been promoted by Washington as rapidly as he had desired. Congress, notwithstanding the opposition of Washington, was disposed to advance Conway and a number of other subordinate officers. Washington did not hesitate to express his disapproval, and even went so far as to say, “It will be impossible for me to be of any further service if such insuperable difficulties are thrown in my way.” This was very justly interpreted as a threat to resign, and it was effective. But the anger of Conway toward Washington was naturally increased. The intrigues that followed have passed into history as the “Conway Cabal.” The only success of the movement was to induce Congress to reorganize the “Board of War” and make Gates its president. Public sentiment was so overwhelmingly favorable to Washington, that Congress ventured to go no farther. Extracts from some of the letters were published and thus the whole spirit of the intrigue was revealed. The scornful silence of Washington, who never in his life condescended to defend himself, reacted greatly in his favor. In the end, the commander in chief was stronger in his position than ever. Gates resigned in disgust and returned to his plantation in Virginia.


194. Treaty with France.—America had now single-handedly carried on the war for more than two years, but the defeat of Burgoyne and St. Leger in the North, and the vigor with which Washington conducted the campaign in New Jersey and about Philadelphia, convinced the French that the time for recognition had arrived. Treaties were signed on February 6, 1778, between France and the United States, in which France pledged herself to furnish ships, as well as men, and the Americans, on their part, agreed not to cease the conflict until Great Britain acknowledged their independence. Thereafter England was at war with France, as well as with America.


195. Howe succeeded by Sir Henry Clinton.—The French alliance obliged the British to change their plan of action. Howe, who had never believed in the British policy, now resigned and returned to England, and Sir Henry Clinton succeeded him in command. Anticipating the approach of the French fleet, and evidently fearing that the French and Americans together would prove too strong for the British at New York, Clinton decided to evacuate Philadelphia. Washington, whose army, notwithstanding the sufferings at Valley Forge, showed the effects of the careful drilling by Baron von Steuben, determined to attack the British on their northern march.


196. The Battle of Monmouth.—The place chosen was Monmouth, and the battle took place on Sunday, the 28th of June. The northern portion of the American force was ordered to attack the British on their flank, while Washington himself, by closing in upon their rear with the southern division, hoped to overwhelm them. General Charles Lee, whose treason was still unknown to Washington, had been exchanged, and, as senior major general, had command of the northern portion of the army, consisting of about six thousand men. Washington ordered him to attack Clinton’s flank with vigor, while the commander in chief himself, with a still larger force, was to attack at the moment when the enemy had been thrown into confusion. Lee, however, on reaching the British, made only a feeble show of advance and then ordered his troops to withdraw. Washington, informed of the situation by a messenger from Lafayette, rushed forward in furious anger and demanded an explanation. As no satisfactory reason for his retreat could be given, Washington ordered Lee to the rear, and, galloping along the disordered mass of retreating troops, shouted for a halt, and then reformed the lines. The results of the winter’s drill were at once felt, for in the face of the enemy and under a hard fire the American troops fell into order, wheeled about, and rushed forward to a new attack. The British were driven from the ground they had gained; but night came on, and the two armies occupied the positions held before the battle. Before morning the British resumed their way to New York.[90] After the battle, Lee was tried by a court-martial, consisting of several of the most eminent officers in the army, and was dismissed from the service.


197. First Efforts of the French.—The first efforts of the French to assist the Americans were not fortunate. Count D’Estaing, a kinsman of Lafayette, arrived on the 8th of July with a squadron of twelve ships of the line and six frigates, and a land force on board of four thousand men. His fleet was larger than that of Clinton; but as two of his vessels could not cross the New York bar, he was not strong enough to venture an attack. The next movement was an effort to coöperate with the land force of General Sullivan in reducing Newport, Rhode Island. This point had been taken by the British soon after their expulsion from Boston, and had been held to the present time. Sullivan now approached with a large force from the land side, and D’Estaing was to prevent reënforcements by sea. It appeared certain that the post would be taken. But soon Lord Howe approached with his fleet, and D’Estaing moved out for action. In the nick of time one of the most terrific storms ever known came on and dispersed both fleets. D’Estaing felt compelled to put into Boston for repairs. While he was there word came that Clinton had sent five thousand men to relieve the Newport garrison. Lafayette galloped seventy miles in seven hours to obtain aid from D’Estaing, but it was too late. The siege had to be raised, and soon D’Estaing moved off to the West Indies. These movements of the French were very severely criticised by the Americans, and in consequence, at one time the French admiral thought seriously of taking his fleet back to France in disgust. It was only the great tact and skill of Washington that persuaded him to remain. His going to the West Indies was not without importance, for Clinton felt obliged to send five thousand troops for the support of the British in the islands.


General Anthony Wayne.

198. British Movement on the South.—The efforts thus far made to destroy the revolutionary army by striking at its center having failed, the British determined in the spring of 1779 upon a new policy. It was decided to attack the South, partly for the purpose of bringing the Southern states completely under their control, and partly for the purpose of drawing off a portion of Washington’s army. In the execution of this plan they had no difficulty in overrunning Georgia and South Carolina, but Washington understood perfectly well that the temporary loss of the Southern states would not mean the loss of the cause if the Middle states and New England could be kept together. He therefore refused to weaken his grip upon the Hudson. In July, General Anthony Wayne[91] took by storm the seemingly impregnable position at Stony Point on the Hudson, in one of the most brilliant assaults of the war. His fearless dash, which was made at midnight, caused him to be known as “Mad Anthony.”


199. British Control in the West.—At the outbreak of the war the vast region west of the mountains was already the field of much strife between the Indians and the few settlers that had pushed their way along the valleys into what was then the far West. The territory between the mountains and the Mississippi River, a region twice as large as the German Empire, was still an almost unbroken wilderness. French settlements had been established at Detroit, at Vincennes on the Wabash, and at Natchez, Kaskaskia, and Cahokia on the Mississippi. But these fortified hamlets since the fall of Quebec had been controlled by British garrisons. Though the region was thus under British dominion, it was claimed by Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Virginia, Maryland, North and South Carolina, and Georgia by authority of their original charters. The possession of the whole region was therefore involved in the war.

Wayne’s Dispatch to Washington.


200. Settlements in Tennessee and Kentucky.—Virginia and North Carolina were the first to send explorers and settlers into this distant region. Before the outbreak of the war, Daniel Boone[92] had explored the Kentucky Kiver, and Virginia surveyors had gone down the Ohio as far as the present site of Louisville, which was soon after named in honor of our new ally, the reigning king of France, Louis XVI. Virginians entered the country as settlers, and their sympathy with the revolutionary movement was so intense that they named one of their principal towns Lexington, in honor of the village where the first shots had been fired. The pioneers of most influence in Tennessee were James Robertson and John Sevier, who played a part as explorers and organizers much like the parts played by Daniel Boone and James Harrod in Kentucky. In both of these regions laws were enacted and courts instituted, and when the Continental Congress met, delegates were sent to it to represent the interests of the new settlements. The one was called the State of Transylvania and the other the County of Kentucky.


Daniel Boone.

201. Border Warfare.—The early years of these settlements were periods of constant hardship and of strife with the Indians. Even before the Revolutionary War broke out, the Indians organized for systematic resistance. This was the result partly of outrageous treatment by the white settlers, and partly of repeated Indian depredations.


202. Lord Dunmore’s War.—Lord Dunmore, the last royal governor of Virginia, sent out in 1773 an injudicious order which led to an outbreak of hostilities all along the line. The immediate cause of the war was the fiendish act of a wretch by the name of Greathouse, who decoyed the family of the friendly Indian chief, Logan, consisting of nine men, women, and children, into his rum shop, and after getting them intoxicated, butchered them all in cold blood. The justly outraged Indians rushed to arms from all quarters. The war which followed was characterized by the murdering of women and children and the burning of cabins and wigwams, until it was ended by the decisive battle of Point Pleasant on the Great Kanawha, on October 10, 1774. The Indians, commanded by the Shawnee chief, Cornstalk, were utterly defeated by the settlers under Andrew Lewis, and were glad to secure peace by surrendering all their claims to lands south of the Ohio.


203. Warfare in Tennessee.—The westward movement from North Carolina through the Great Smoky Mountains into the country now known as Tennessee was also the occasion of numerous conflicts. In 1770 the settlers had reached the Watauga. Forts were erected, and the settlement soon assumed a thriving condition. But conflicts were not long postponed. The most warlike and powerful of the Southern tribes of Indians were the Cherokees, and on the outbreak of the Revolution they took sides with the British. The Indians even advanced into South Carolina and Georgia; but they were unable to hold their ground, and when in 1776 they attacked the Watauga settlement, they were so completely defeated by the troops of Robertson and Sevier that they soon afterward were willing to make peace. In 1777 they renounced the larger part of their claims to lands between the Tennessee and the Cumberland. Thus Tennessee, as well as Kentucky, was secure for the future Union.


204. Organization of Tories and Indians in the Northwest.—Meanwhile matters of no less importance were occurring on the northwest frontier. Washington fully understood the necessity of taking from the British as much as possible of that vast territory which extends from the Catskills to the Mississippi River, and which had been made a part of Canada by the Quebec Act (§ 136). This was by no means an easy task. The Six Nations (§ 3), constituting the most powerful Indian confederation ever known, were under the immediate leadership of the greatest of all Indian chiefs, Joseph Brant, and under the influence of Sir John Johnson, the most formidable of the Tories. Brant had been liberally educated in Mr. Wheelock’s School, afterward Dartmouth College, and had even visited England and had dined with Burke and Sheridan; but his education seemed only to sharpen his wits and make him the better able to use the characteristics of other Indians. Though he exerted his influence to prevent the killing of women and children, as a strategist he was unequaled among savages, and on the battlefield he could out-yell any other chief. Throughout the West the Indians had generally combined with the Tories and the British. Two forces were now organized, one at Niagara and one at Detroit, for carrying out their designs.


205. The Wyoming and Cherry Valley Massacres.—In the summer of 1778 twelve hundred Tories and Iroquois, led by John Butler, advanced stealthily from Niagara toward the southeast and fell upon the peaceful inhabitants of the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania. Hundreds of innocent inhabitants were tortured and scalped, and the horrors of the massacre sent a pang into all parts of the civilized world. Similar outrages occurred at Cherry Valley and elsewhere, and every settlement was in danger. Prisoners who refused to give information were put to torture with ingenious cruelty.


206. Sullivan’s Expedition.—In order to destroy the power of the Six Nations and put an end to this savage method of warfare, Washington decided to send out a strong force in the summer of 1779. The command of the expedition, having been declined by Gates, devolved upon Sullivan,[93] who had orders to lay waste the entire country of the Iroquois. The right wing of his army, under General James Clinton, advanced up the valley of the Mohawk, while Sullivan himself, with a force of about five thousand men, pushed into the valley of the Susquehanna. Both forces destroyed the Indian villages and the growing crops wherever they went. Finally, meeting the united forces of Johnson, Butler, and Brant near Newtown (now Elmira), Sullivan achieved a complete victory, August 29.[94]


General John Sullivan.

207. Destruction of the Six Nations.—Sullivan’s forces then advanced northward in two divisions, burning villages, cutting down fruit trees, and destroying the growing corn in all directions. After a successful march of more than seven hundred miles, during which he not only temporarily, but permanently, through his destruction of their harvests, broke the power of the Six Nations, Sullivan reached New Jersey in October. The suffering which resulted to the Indians from this expedition was greatly increased by the intense cold of the following winter.[95] The horrors of the period, however, cannot be understood without a study of painful and revolting details. In no part of the country was the suffering greater than in central and eastern New York during this contest of Indians, Tories, and patriots. In Tryon County the population was reduced to one-third of its former number, and among those who remained there are said to have been three hundred widows and two thousand orphans.


General George Rogers Clark.

208. George Rogers Clark.—An expedition of even greater importance had been undertaken the previous year, still farther west, by George Rogers Clark.[96] Colonel Hamilton, commander of the British at Detroit, had planned a series of movements with the intention of taking possession of the whole western region north of the Ohio. Clark, a Virginian who had settled in Kentucky, had become thoroughly acquainted with frontier manners and methods. In the autumn of 1777, he learned of Burgoyne’s surrender. Divining the importance of the West, he at once sent scouts throughout the region known as the Illinois country. As a result of the information thus received, this adventurous frontiersman, only twenty-five years old, formed the bold project of conquering from the British the whole of the vast region extending from the Alleghanies to the Mississippi.


209. Clark’s Expedition.—Accordingly, having secured permission from the authorities of Virginia, Clark, taking a force of one hundred and eighty men, with boats and artillery, started in the spring of 1778, at Pittsburg, for a voyage down the river to the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi. He had no difficulty in capturing Kaskaskia, a small post not very far north of the modern Cairo. Thence he sent messengers to Vincennes, which agreed to submit to him. Later, however, he learned that the British under Colonel Hamilton had retaken the fort. Sending his cannon on a boat to patrol the Ohio and the Wabash, Clark took his men across Illinois in a winter’s march, often through mud and water knee deep, and appeared before Vincennes. The village at once yielded, and the people united with Clark in assaulting the fort. Hamilton was soon obliged to surrender with his whole force. By this brilliant expedition, the frontier was extended to the Mississippi River. The importance of the movement could hardly be understood at the time, but the history of the next hundred years revealed it in many very interesting ways.


210. Early Condition of the Navy.—Before the war the Americans had no navy, for there was no national government, and the individual colonies, under the Navigation Acts, had no opportunities for the development of foreign trade. Soon after the outbreak of hostilities, however, Congress provided for arming vessels, not so much to fight the British warships as to prey upon British commerce. Franklin, as minister to France after 1778, was authorized by Congress to commission vessels to scour the waters for British prizes.


Captain John Paul Jones.

211. The Bon Homme Richard.—The most famous of these cruisers was a merchant ship that had been hastily fitted up for war and given the name of Bon Homme Richard. This vessel, commanded by John Paul Jones,[97] a Scotchman who had renounced his country and lived some years in America, made havoc among the British merchantmen, especially in the British and Irish Channels and off the east coast of Scotland. On the 23d of September, 1779, Jones, with two small accompanying vessels, met the British frigate Serapis, with similar support, convoying a small fleet of merchantmen, off Flamborough Head. The Serapis was slightly more powerful than the Richard, but Jones did not hesitate to attack, and the result was one of the most obstinate and bloody battles in all naval history. Jones received no assistance from his attendant ships, which even fired into the Richard. After both ships had been partially disabled, Jones ran alongside the Serapis and lashed them together. From that moment a terrible battle with canister, musket balls, hand grenades, and cutlasses went on, until more than half of all the men engaged were either killed or disabled. The Serapis finally surrendered, but it was immediately found that the Richard had been so riddled with shot that it was sinking, and Jones therefore was obliged to transfer his men to the other vessel. A few hours later the Richard went down.


212. Importance of Jones’s Victory.—This desperate naval battle was important for two reasons: first, it everywhere gave the Americans a reputation as sailors; and secondly, it led to an important international dispute. Jones took the Serapis into a port in Holland. The British at once demanded that the commander of the Richard should be given up to be tried as a pirate. The Dutch refused, on the ground that Jones had done only what the British had long been doing. This, with some other complications, led to war between Holland and Great Britain. The English, in consequence, were then at war with Holland, as well as with America and France. Spain was also drawn in as the ally of France. Russia had long been apparently on the point of joining in the contest, but the Empress Catherine, before taking a final step, wrote a personal letter of inquiry to Frederick the Great, who advised her to keep out of the trouble. Thus England, left without a single ally, found herself confronted by three of the most powerful naval forces of continental Europe. The united fleets of France and Spain, even without the help of Holland, were scarcely weaker than the British fleet, and they at once threatened, while the English were occupied in America, not only to destroy the commerce of England in the open seas, but also to recover Gibraltar, and to overwhelm all the English possessions in the West Indies. The influence of these alliances on the American war may be inferred from the fact that while in 1779 the British had three hundred and fourteen thousand men under arms, not a tenth of that number were at any time in America.

References.—The same as at the end of Chapter VI.

Born in Magdeburg, Prussia, 1730; died, 1794. Fought in the war of the Austrian Succession, also throughout the Seven Years’ War; received a very exalted position from Frederick the Great, which he gave up in 1778 for service in America; was appointed inspector general, and rendered invaluable service at Valley Forge and elsewhere in drilling the American troops; commanded the left wing at Monmouth; was member of the board which condemned André; settled in central New York at the close of the war, and received from Congress a large grant of land near Utica.

Born in England, 1728; died, 1806. Was captain in Braddock’s Expedition; was appointed adjutant general in the colonial army in 1775; superseded Schuyler as commander of the Northern forces in 1777; conspired to gain the chief command in 1778; placed in command of the Southern army in 1780; was overwhelmingly defeated at Camden; was retired from command, and was not acquitted by court-martial till 1782.

The effect of the evacuation of Philadelphia and the battle of Monmouth was naturally very disheartening to the British army. As many as two thousand of Clinton’s soldiers, chiefly Hessians, deserted within a week.

Born, 1745; died, 1796. Early became a member of the Pennsylvania Committee of Public Safety, and commander of a regiment in the Canadian invasion of 1775–1776; commanded at Ticonderoga; was appointed brigadier general, and rendered valuable service at the Brandywine, at Germantown, and at Monmouth; stormed Stony Point, July 15, 1779; suppressed mutiny at Morristown in January, 1781; rendered important service in Georgia and Virginia in 1781–1782; was made major general, and overwhelmed the Indians at Fallen Timbers, 1794, which led to a treaty of peace with the Indians in 1795.

Born, 1735; died, 1820. Was a daring and skillful hunter and explorer in North Carolina; went into the region that is now Kentucky in 1769; became exceptionally skillful as an Indian fighter; overwhelmed the Indians at the battle of Blue Licks in 1782; after countless adventures and hairbreadth escapes, passed his last days in poverty in Missouri, though a grant of land was tardily given him by Congress.

Born in New Hampshire, 1740; died, 1795. Major general of militia before the war; delegate of New Hampshire to First Continental Congress; was appointed brigadier general in 1775; served at siege of Boston and in expedition into Canada; major general in 1776; was one of the principal commanders at Brooklyn, Trenton, and Princeton; led the right wing at Brandywine and Germantown; destroyed the power of the Iroquois in 1779; was an active Federalist in the New Hampshire Convention of 1788.

After the battle so many horses and ponies were slain by Sullivan’s order, that the number of skulls found at a later period caused the place to be called Horseheads, the name by which the locality has ever since been known.

New York Harbor froze over, and cannon and men, as well as supplies, were freely moved on the ice between New York, New Jersey, and Staten Island.

Born, 1752; died, 1818. Went from Virginia to Kentucky in 1775; became a leader against the hostile Indians and the British; gained the Northwest for the Union in 1778.

Born, 1747; died, 1792. Came from Scotland to Virginia shortly before the Revolutionary War; entered the service of his adopted country with great enthusiasm; commissioned first lieutenant in the navy, and made a number of successful cruises; went to France in 1777, where he was given command first of the Ranger, and then of the Bon Homme Richard; he devastated St. George’s Channel, and finally fought the Serapis; was thanked by Congress and given a sword by France; became a rear admiral in the Russian navy, and died at Paris.


the campaigns of 1780 and 1781.


213. Clinton’s Success in the South.—Sir Henry Clinton, even without a very large force, found it possible to carry out his designs in the South with energy and success. Leaving Knyphausen a part of his force to defend New York, he started, December 26, 1779, with eight thousand men, for the South. Savannah fell into his hands, and a little later he invested Charleston. General Lincoln made the great mistake of allowing himself with five thousand men to be shut up in that city with no means of escape, and accordingly he was forced to surrender on the 12th of May, 1780, with his whole army. This was the severest blow the Americans had received. Clinton at once put Lord Cornwallis in command, after issuing a proclamation, threatening to deal with all who did not return to allegiance as traitors and rebels. He then went back to New York. South Carolina was soon overrun by the troops of Cornwallis, Tarleton, and Ferguson.


Lord Cornwallis.

214. Northward Movement of the British.—The American standards, however, were kept flying by the heroic deeds of the partisan generals, Marion and Sumter. The British advanced northward, hoping to find very little opposition before reaching Virginia. Washington recommended the appointment of Greene to the command of the Southern army; but the intriguers were successful, and Congress recalled Gates from his retirement, in the hope that the experience of Burgoyne would be repeated by Cornwallis.[98] But in North Carolina there had been no Schuyler to plan the campaign in advance, and there was no Arnold or Morgan to assist in carrying it out. Gates revealed his inefficiency at every step; and when the two armies finally came together, on the 16th of August, 1780, his troops suffered at Camden the most disastrous defeat ever inflicted on an American army. Though the American force was superior to the British, it was routed, driven in utter confusion from the field, and dispersed. Gates himself, after committing a succession of gross blunders, crowned his ignominy by joining in the panic and finally leaving the army to its fate. In four days he reached Hillsborough, some two hundred miles away. Thus the worst fears of Washington were fully realized, and the whole South was practically in the grasp of the British. Clinton might well suppose the end to be near at hand.


215. Growth of Arnold’s Disaffection.—As if to complete a year of disasters, the country received a terrible shock in the treason of one of its foremost officers. Benedict Arnold, who had been one of the most skillful, as well as one of the most energetic of commanders, had been slighted in various ways. Washington had repeatedly recommended that he be advanced from brigadier to major general, but Congress promoted five officers of inferior rank over him. These facts not unnaturally soured his temper, so that he was inclined to find fault with everything. While he was in this mood Washington assigned him to the command in Philadelphia, after the withdrawal of Clinton, where he was noted for luxurious tastes and extravagant methods of life. Meanwhile he became engaged to Margaret Shippen, a beautiful daughter of one of the most prominent Tory families in Philadelphia. Before many months, his views had drifted completely over to those of the moderate Tory party. After the surrender of Burgoyne, the British government had offered the colonies all the constitutional guarantees they had asked for before the Declaration of Independence, and Arnold, as well as the Tories generally, believed that these terms should have been accepted.


216. Charges by Congress against Arnold.—Arnold was seriously contemplating the advisability of resigning his post, owing to the hostility of the Executive Council, when charges of peculation and misconduct were brought against him. Thereupon he promptly demanded an investigation. He was acquitted, not only by a committee of Congress, but afterward by a court-martial, of all the charges excepting two of very trifling importance. But he felt insulted and persecuted. His hatred of Congress became intense, and accordingly, in the course of the six months from January to July, 1780, he devised one of the most infamous schemes in history. He entered into correspondence with the British commander, for the purpose of betraying the American cause. His letters, signed “Gustavus,” were answered by the British adjutant general, Major John André, over the signature “John Anderson.” But nothing definite came of the matter until Arnold determined to ask Washington for the command of West Point, in order that this most important stronghold in the whole country might be turned over to the enemy for a good price. His request was granted, and his nefarious plans came alarmingly near to success.


217. Meeting of Arnold and André.—In September the agreement had advanced so far that a personal interview between the officers in correspondence was thought desirable. The British fleet, temporarily under the command of Admiral Rodney, who had recently come from the West Indies, showed signs of great activity. It was the intention at an opportune moment to sail up the Hudson and make a show of attacking the fort. Arnold was to surrender it, with only a faint appearance of resistance. The American traitor was to sell his country for fifty thousand dollars and a commission in the British army. On the 18th of September, Washington left the fort for a conference with Rochambeau at Hartford; and this absence afforded the coveted opportunity. André, ascending the Hudson in the British ship Vulture to a point near the fort, went ashore and passed the night with Arnold a few miles below the fortress. After some delays the agreement was completed, but in returning André was obliged to cross and go down the river along the eastern shore.


218. Arrest of André.—At Tarrytown, in a strip of neutral territory between the two armies, he was arrested by three young men headed by John Paulding. One of the party had on a Hessian uniform, and when they confronted André, who was clad in citizen’s dress, he accosted them as friends, supposing they were British. They immediately declared themselves to be Americans, however, and roughly ordered him to dismount. Proceeding to search him, they found the fatal articles of agreement in his boots. As, however, they were unsigned, Colonel Jameson, to whom the documents and the prisoner were delivered, decided to forward the papers to Washington, and to send a message concerning the affair to Arnold.


219. Escape of Arnold.—Washington returned to West Point, September 25, and received the papers soon after his arrival. The letter had reached Arnold only in time to enable him to escape by taking a boat and rowing swiftly down to the British ship which was awaiting André. When Washington read the documents he burst into tears, and with choking voice disclosed the affair to Lafayette and Knox and the other officers about him.


220. André’s Execution.—André was put upon trial by a court-martial consisting of fourteen officers, including Greene, Steuben, and Lafayette, and was pronounced guilty. Though every effort was made by Clinton to save his life, Washington was inflexible, and, on the morning of October 2, he died upon the gallows the death of a spy. Though the English have been inclined to dispute the justice of Washington’s action, the latest and most judicious of British historians of this period, Mr. Lecky, after a full examination of the facts, reaches the conclusion that his condemnation was justified by the usages of war. Benedict Arnold’s treason has properly given his name an immortality of infamy.

Place of André’s Execution.


221. Discontent in the Army.—The treason of Arnold was followed by events in the army which added to the general distress and anxiety. The best of the troops were those that had enlisted during the hopeful period just after Burgoyne’s surrender, in 1777. The term of enlistment was “three years, or during the war.” The troops claimed that, as the three years would expire at the end of December, they would then be free. The officers interpreted the law as meaning that in case the war should continue more than three years, the soldiers would be bound to service until its close. The army had many causes of complaint. Paper money issued by Congress had now become nearly worthless. With this money Congress was reluctant to pay the troops, but there was no other. At the end of December many of the regiments had received no pay for sixteen months, and supplies of clothing and shoes were so small that when January approached, many soldiers were barefooted and in rags. The winter of 1780–1781 saw scarcely less suffering than did the winter at Valley Forge.


222. Spirit of Mutiny.—On New Year’s Day, 1781, thirteen hundred Pennsylvania troops claimed that their time had expired, and, seizing six field-pieces, set out for Philadelphia to secure their rights from Congress. After much parleying, Congress, through its president, promised to give them certificates of indebtedness and their formal discharge. Thus it was settled that the men who had enlisted on the ambiguous terms might go when the three years had expired. By this decision Washington’s army not only lost its best troops, but was agitated by the mutinous spirit of others who were tempted to try the same method. On the 20th of January a part of the New Jersey troops mutinied without any adequate reason, and were not subdued until they were met by a brigade of troops from Massachusetts. The insurgents were soon brought to order, and two of the ringleaders were shot by Washington’s command. Thus came to a close the most discouraging year of the whole war.


223. Discouragements at the Beginning of 1781.—The disasters that had come to the Americans in 1780 gave the British many reasons to hope for a successful end of the contest in the summer of 1781. After the defeat of Gates at Camden there was a reasonable prospect that Cornwallis, having completely established British authority in the farther South, would be able to overrun Virginia and then unite with Clinton in overwhelming Washington. This feeling received encouragement from the discontented state of the American army, but in their predictions the British greatly underrated the ingenuity and the resources of the American commander in chief. Congress, which had chosen to disregard Washington’s former recommendation by sending Gates to the South, was now, late in 1780, when there was only a forlorn hope of success, quite willing that the commander should designate the general to meet Cornwallis. Washington selected Greene, the man he had recommended the year before. The latter did not reach Charlotte in North Carolina until the 2d of December; but he found that much had already been done by Marion, Sumter, and Morgan to counteract the effects of disaster and to keep alive the patriotic spirit.

Map of Operations in the South, 1780–1781


224. Victory at King’s Mountain.—Soon after the defeat of Gates at Camden, in the summer of 1780, Cornwallis had begun a northward movement. He sent on in advance two divisions: one under Ferguson, with about fourteen hundred men, and one under Tarleton,[99] with about the same number. Ferguson soon found that patriots had arisen on every side. Enterprising hunters and backwoodsmen had come from all parts of the North and West, as well as from the neighboring regions, until nearly three thousand were in the path of his progress. Thwarted at every step, he was finally obliged to look for a way of retreat. His messengers to Cornwallis and his scouts were everywhere shot down as fast as they were sent out. His force was finally brought to bay on the top of King’s Mountain, where after desperate fighting it was compelled to surrender, October 7. As a result of this battle, in which Ferguson was killed and nearly four hundred men were lost, Cornwallis was obliged to fall back to Winnsborough.

Colonel Tarleton.


225. Victory at Cowpens.—Against the force of Tarleton, Greene sent General Daniel Morgan,[100] who had already shown great ability at Quebec, at Trenton, and at Saratoga. The forces of Tarleton and Morgan were about equal. The American commander chose, as a spot for the battle, an open plain where cattle had been herded, called the “Cowpens.” The British, though wearied after a difficult march of five hours, decided to advance at once to a front attack. The first volleys of the Americans caused the enemy’s line to stagger and fall back. As the British came on a second time to the charge, Colonel Washington, a relative of the commander in chief, who led the cavalry, swept around the American left and struck the British in the flank. At this moment the Continentals rushed forward in a bayonet charge with irresistible force. The British were obliged to give way at every point, losing two hundred and thirty killed and wounded and about six hundred prisoners. Tarleton escaped with difficulty. The Americans lost only twelve killed and sixty-one wounded. The battle of the Cowpens, fought January 17, 1781, was the most brilliant American victory of the war, as Camden had been the most disastrous defeat.


General Daniel Morgan.

226. Morgan’s Race with Cornwallis.—Morgan, having now destroyed Tarleton’s force, at once set out to rejoin Greene, but, in order to do so, he had to run a race with Cornwallis for the fords of the Catawba River. Though the British commander had the shorter course, Morgan pushed on with so much greater speed that he was the first to cross and thus was able to rejoin the main army.


227. Battle of Guilford Court House.—Greene now determined, before fighting a decisive battle, to draw his enemies as far as possible away from their supplies. Sending on a part of his force in advance and placing himself in command of the rear, he kept near enough to Cornwallis to lure him on without giving him an opportunity for a decisive battle. At length, on February 9, the American forces united at Guilford Court House, only about thirty miles south of the Virginia border, and here Greene, after a delay of about one month, during which he received reënforcements, selected ground for a battle. Though the British had a smaller force, they were veterans, while the larger part of Greene’s army was composed of recent recruits. In the battle which occurred on the 15th of March, the British had the advantage, but they lost so heavily that Cornwallis did not dare to pursue the defeated army. In order to reëstablish his communications with supplies, he moved southeast for the port at Wilmington.


228. Greene’s Recovery of the South.—Greene followed him rapidly until they were near the coast. Then Greene struck into the South for the purpose of reëstablishing his authority throughout the Carolinas. His march was not resisted with any success. September 8, after a masterly campaign extending over six months, he fought and won the last battle of the series, at Eutaw Springs, about fifty miles from Charleston. Thus, within little more than a year after the disastrous defeat of Gates at Camden, the brilliant campaign of Greene drove Cornwallis into Wilmington and the remaining British forces in the South into Charleston, and had practically cleared the intervening country of the enemy.


229. Movement of Cornwallis from Wilmington.—Cornwallis, however, did not long remain on the coast. As soon as he had refreshed his army, he attempted, with the help of Arnold, to overrun Virginia. Reaching Petersburg on the 20th of May, he was able, within a short time, to take and pillage the more important towns of Virginia, including Petersburg, Richmond, Charlottesville, Portsmouth, and Williamsburg. To meet these raiders, Washington sent Lafayette with an army of Americans and French, amounting to about five thousand men. The French commander, though only twenty-three years of age, had learned from Washington the art of harassing the enemy without bringing on a general engagement. Cornwallis now had a little more than seven thousand men. After trying in vain to bring Lafayette to battle, and to get reënforcements from Clinton, he followed Clinton’s instructions by withdrawing his force to Yorktown, in order to put himself in communication with the British fleet. This was the fatal move that resulted in the loss of the British cause.


230. Plans of Washington and Rochambeau.—Two days after the British reached Petersburg, Washington had an important conference with Rochambeau at Wethersfield, Connecticut. There, it was decided to send to the West Indies for Commodore de Grasse and such ships of the French fleet as could be spared from that region. The purpose was to combine the French and Americans, either to make a joint attack upon New York, or, by a sudden movement toward the South, to overwhelm Cornwallis. De Grasse was to choose and to report whether he would go to New York, or would stop at the Chesapeake.

Operations at Yorktown


231. Plan of the Yorktown Campaign.—In due time, Washington learned that De Grasse had chosen the Southern destination, and accordingly he began at once to maneuver his force so as to lead Clinton to suppose that the purpose was a general attack on New York. He ordered all preparations to be made in New Jersey as though he intended a siege, even sending misleading dispatches, which he planned to have the British capture. So skillfully was this done, that even when the army began to move from the Hudson, the British believed it was for the purpose of a general attack upon the city from New Jersey and Staten Island. The secret of the movement was confined to the French and American commanders. Washington evidently believed with Franklin, that three persons can keep a secret only when one of them is dead. On the 19th of August, leaving a strong guard along the front line, the French and American armies commenced their Southern march. So skillfully had all plans been arranged, that Clinton learned of the movement only after the Americans had reached Philadelphia, nearly a hundred miles away. He attempted a diversion by an attack upon Connecticut, but it was impossible to retard the march, or distract the attention of Washington. The British could not follow without abandoning New York to Heath, who had been left with four thousand men on the Hudson.


232. Movement of De Grasse.—De Grasse, with a larger fleet even than had been anticipated, reached the Chesapeake on the day when Washington reached Philadelphia. The French admiral at once landed three thousand troops and turned them over to Lafayette, whose army was thus increased to about eight thousand men. The French general, knowing that Washington was not far away, threw his lines boldly across the peninsula, September 7, thus shutting Cornwallis completely in. The British now saw the James on the one side, the York River on the other, with De Grasse in the rear, and Lafayette in front. Their condition was hopeless.


233. Surrender of Cornwallis.—Though a few British ships reached the scene from the north, they were too weak to cope with the fleet of De Grasse, and there was, therefore, no possible escape. To break through the American lines was impossible, as Cornwallis was now confronted by an army more than twice the size of his own. The siege and bombardment began at once. The cannonade was continued for some days with terrific energy, till the British ammunition began to fail. The outworks were carried by an assault in two divisions,—one of Americans and the other of Frenchmen. The Americans, led by Alexander Hamilton, were the first to cross the British ramparts. This was on the 14th of October. On the 17th, just four years after the surrender of Burgoyne, Cornwallis hoisted the white flag. As soon as the preliminaries could be settled, seven thousand two hundred and forty-seven soldiers became prisoners of war.


234. Influence of the Surrender on the British Government.—The surrender of Cornwallis was virtually the end of this long and memorable contest, for it put enthusiastic life into the Americans, while it overwhelmed the British government with confusion. Those English statesmen who had opposed the war from the first so strengthened their following that they were able to sweep the king’s friends out of power and bring in a government that sympathized with their views. The king himself, though driven almost to despair by this stupendous event, was the last to recognize its real significance; but at length even George III. saw that with a war on his hands against France, Spain, and Holland, his American project, so dear to his heart, must now be given up. A new ministry, with Lord Rockingham at its head, was brought in to negotiate terms of peace.


235. Difficulties in making Peace.—There were long delays and many difficulties in arranging terms. These were greatly complicated by the fact that America had France as an ally, and France had to be consulted in regard to all the conditions. Congress had no money with which to pay off the soldiers, and no power to raise money in the individual states. Discontent among the rank and file threatened to end in the most serious revolts. Nothing but the infallible tact and skill of Washington prevented mutiny. The commander in chief, however, was inflexible in his determination that the forces should be kept up until the treaty was finally adopted. That painful period of distress and waiting at length came to an end, but it was not until September 3, 1783, nearly two years after the surrender at Yorktown, that the treaty was signed at Paris. By that act Great Britain acknowledged the independence of the country from Canada to the Floridas, and from the Atlantic to the Mississippi. The conquest of the West was thus admitted, but the northern boundary was left rather vague, owing to defective knowledge of the region.


236. Treatment of Tories.—The Americans made the mistake of refusing to grant amnesty to the adherents of the defeated party, as should always be done in civil war. The patriots, or Whigs, as they were often called, continued to persecute the Tories. Many were put to death, and thousands were obliged to flee into Canada and Nova Scotia, where their descendants still remember with bitterness the treatment of their ancestors.


237. Causes of Success.—The success of the Revolutionary War was mainly due to five causes:—

1. The unfailing courage, wisdom, and ability of Washington. Even in the darkest hours his confidence in the final issue never faltered. By the wisdom and persuasiveness of the letters which he sent to governors, members of Congress, and prominent men in all parts of the country, he inspired others with something of his own confidence and multiplied the friends of independence. His extraordinary military skill in knowing when to fight and when not to fight, enabled him to take advantage of the mistakes of the enemy and to strike a blow whenever he could hurt the cause of the British or inspire his own army with new courage.

2. The alliance and support of the French. Until the Yorktown campaign the active assistance of the French in the field was very slight, but the moral support was most important. While it inspired the Americans with new courage, it had a corresponding effect in disheartening the British, who had to fight the French in other parts of the world. But for De Grasse, the Yorktown campaign would probably not have been attempted; for, if attempted, Cornwallis could easily have been supported and relieved by the British fleet.

3. The weakness of the British commanders in the field. Gage, Howe, Burgoyne, Clinton, and Cornwallis were all greatly inferior to Washington and Greene.

4. The British, toward the end of the conflict, had four very important wars on their hands, so that they found it impossible to send large reënforcements to their armies in America.

5. The persistent spirit of the American patriots. Though often defeated, and sometimes much disheartened, they stubbornly refused to give up. Even in the dark days of 1780, when the South was overwhelmed and overrun, they never regarded the cause as lost. It was this spirit which made it possible for Washington to keep a force in the field large enough to prevent the complete success of the British.

References.—The same as at the end of Chapter VI.

Born, 1737; died, 1806. Served in the Seven Years’ War; favored the Americans during the preliminary discussions in Parliament; was made lieutenant general, and sent to America in 1776; fought at Long Island; was defeated at Princeton; decided the victory by a flank movement at the Brandywine; served at Germantown and Monmouth; overwhelmed Gates at Camden, 1780; defeated Greene at Guilford Court House, 1781; was so outgeneralled that he practically lost the South and retreated into Virginia, where he was overwhelmed by Lafayette and Washington at Yorktown, 1781; was governor general in India, 1786–1793; was lord lieutenant of Ireland, 1798–1801; is properly considered the ablest of the British generals in the Revolutionary War.

Born, 1754; died, 1833. Came to America, 1776; in 1779, as lieutenant colonel, organized in South Carolina a troop known as the “British” or “Tarleton’s Legion”; waged with it very effective partisan warfare; served with great success at Camden; defeated by Morgan at the Cowpens, 1781; made a raid in Virginia, 1781; returned to England and served many years in Parliament; knighted (Sir Banastre Tarleton), 1818.

Born, 1736; died, 1802. Fought in the French and Indian Wars; led a company of Virginia riflemen at Boston; after release from imprisonment in Arnold’s expedition against Quebec, gained great distinction at Saratoga under Gates; resigned in 1779, but rejoined the army in 1780 as brigadier general; gained victory at Cowpens; was congressman from Virginia in 1797.

Land Claims of the Thirteen Original States
in 1783


the articles of confederation and the constitution.


238. Chaotic Condition at the Outbreak of the War.—As soon as the Declaration of Independence was adopted, the members of Congress saw that some form of general government would be necessary to bind the different parts of the country into common methods. Several of the states now had the advantage of regularly constituted governments; but the Continental Congress was without authority from any source whatever. Its members had been sent together by the different states without any mutual understanding or instructions, and consequently it had no power, except that of war, to enforce its acts.


239. Committee to frame Articles of Confederation.—On the day after the committee was appointed to frame the Declaration, a still larger committee was charged with the duty of preparing some plan of confederation. The difficulties met by this committee were almost insurmountable. The colonies were at that moment engaged in the work of framing permanent constitutions for themselves. Nor did the common cause of the war entirely sweep away the jealous differences between the states. The colonies had been settled by people of differing religious and political beliefs, and they had preferences for differing methods. The smaller colonies feared they would be absorbed, and the larger ones feared they would not have proper representation. The same spirit which made them desire to be free from the rule of the mother country made each state unwilling to be subject to the rule of the other states. As the Declaration of Independence had been aimed against the central authority of Great Britain, it was natural that they should distrust a strong central authority in the government they were about to establish. It was in the face of all these difficulties that the “Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union” were reported by the committee, only eight days after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.


240. Difficulties of Agreement.—But the representatives found so many reasons for desiring changes that a final agreement was not reached by Congress until November of 1777. Then the articles had to go to the several states for ratification. The difficulties now seemed greater than ever before. According to the articles, every state was to have an equal vote with every other state, but to this equality of representation the larger states very strongly objected, while the smaller states stubbornly resisted every other method. There were also grave differences of opinion as to the executive branch of the new government.


241. Western Lands.—The ownership of the Western lands was the occasion of one of the most serious difficulties. The boundaries of some of the states were defined by their charters, while those of others were not. Six of the states claimed to extend as far west as the Mississippi River, while Virginia defined her boundary as extending to the northwest so far as to include the region which afterward formed Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The other states held that this territory had all been rescued from the British by common effort, and therefore that it should belong to the nation as a whole. This opinion finally prevailed. At length, after long and hot discussion, New York agreed to cede its Western lands to the general government, and this example was soon imitated by the others, although several states still reserved certain portions of their Western territory. After this concession, New Jersey was the first state to ratify the articles. Others followed so slowly that the ratification was not complete until Maryland signed on March 1, 1781, only a few months before the surrender at Yorktown. The delay shows the difficulty of obtaining even so little central authority as the articles provided for.


242. Weaknesses of the Confederation.—It immediately became evident that the confederation had very serious defects. Though a stronger government at the time could not have been adopted, the one obtained was of little value, except to show that a stronger government was demanded. By its provisions no measure could be taken by Congress without the vote of nine of the thirteen states, and even after the adoption of a measure, the confederation had no power to enforce it. The central government relied upon the individual states to carry out its laws, and the states had the option of enforcing obedience, or not, as they chose. Meantime the states themselves were under no restrictions. They passed revenue laws according to their own interests, and custom-houses had to be multiplied along the state borders. Whenever any tax was called for by Congress, to pay off the Continental troops or for any other purpose, some of the states would enforce its collection and others would not.


243. Dangers shown by Shays’ Rebellion and Other Disturbances.—In New Hampshire an armed force assailed the legislature at Exeter and demanded an issue of paper money. In Massachusetts, the collection of debts and taxes was forcibly resisted. The people in the central part of the state, led by Daniel Shays, collected into a motley army, and not only attacked the arsenal, but kept the state in a turmoil for more than six months. At length “Shays’ Rebellion,” as it was called, was put down by Governor Bowditch (1787), but with difficulty. Not one of the insurgents was punished. The states seemed to be growing farther and farther apart and more and more independent. There was really great danger that this tendency would go on till the United States, like Europe, would be made up of many independent nationalities. As if to make improvement impossible, the framers of the Articles of Confederation had provided that no change in them should be adopted unless agreed to by all the states. The consequence was that whenever any change was proposed, some state objected and the proposal was lost. It was a time of such perplexity and danger that it has been aptly called, “The Critical Period in American History.”


Alexander Hamilton.

244. First Effort for a Convention.—During all this time Washington, Hamilton, and Madison had been writing letters to show that a change was necessary and to devise a means of bringing it about. At length, the legislature of Virginia issued a call in 1786 for a general convention to meet at Annapolis, Maryland. But the smaller states were very shy of committing themselves to any scheme proposed by any of the larger states, and only five states responded to the call. Of course nothing could be done. The very absence of representatives, however, revealed some of the difficulties of the situation.


245. Second Effort toward a Convention.—The next year another course was adopted and with greater success. The call for the convention was issued by Congress. The purpose of the call was not to frame a new constitution, but to modify the old one. Twelve of the states appointed delegates, Rhode Island, the smallest of the commonwealths, alone standing aloof. The convention met at Philadelphia in May, 1787, and unanimously chose Washington as its president.


246. Ability in the Convention.—This convention was fortunate in having prominent representatives of all classes. Every state sent its best. Of the fifty-five members, twenty-nine had been college bred. Jefferson and John Adams were in Europe. Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry opposed the convention and remained at home. With these exceptions the most eminent men of the country were present. Washington and Franklin, by their general wisdom and great experience, represented the practical judgment of men of affairs. There were John Dickinson, whose Farmer’s Letters had done so much to bring on the Revolution (§ 131), and James Wilson, a Scotchman, one of the most learned jurists the country has ever had. Hamilton and Madison, by their varied and profound knowledge of political history, brought to the convention the advantage of the best types of general scholarship. Hamilton,[101] though only thirty years of age, was probably the ablest political thinker in the body. But his power was neutralized by the fact that New York, the state which he represented, had opposed the convention, and had sent two delegates to do what they could to prevent success. Hamilton was further handicapped by the extreme nature of his views, for he believed in a much stronger central government than could at that time be adopted.


James Madison.

247. James Madison.—For these reasons, the main guidance of the convention fortunately fell upon James Madison,[102] a young man less brilliant than Hamilton, but superior to him in the art of estimating what is possible. A graduate of Princeton College, he had been from his youth a devoted student of history, had made himself thoroughly acquainted with all the best books on political science, and had paid particular attention to the republican organizations of Greece, Rome, Switzerland, and Holland. From the time he was twenty-five he had taken a prominent part in the Virginia legislature and in Congress, and he thoroughly understood the weaknesses and difficulties of the Articles of Confederation. His knowledge and experience, though united with a remarkable firmness of purpose, were presented with a kindness and sweetness of manner that commended his views to all his fellow-members. Madison, therefore, was the most influential of the members in giving the Constitution the form in which it was adopted.


248. General Spirit of the Convention.—The delegates brought together the wisdom and experience gained in framing the state constitutions and from observing the prevailing difficulties. The efforts of the convention to amend the Articles of Confederation were doomed to early failure. It was soon decided to abandon them altogether and to frame an entirely new constitution. Here the smaller states caused the greatest difficulty, for they were determined to give as little power as possible to the general government, in order that they might not be overwhelmed or absorbed. In this determination were enlisted not only New York, which was then one of the less important states, but also New Hampshire, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland.


249. Representation of Slaves.—Another very serious obstacle was presented by the slave trade and the question of the representation of slaves in Congress. In the early part of the eighteenth century there were about twelve thousand slaves north of Mason and Dixon’s line, and about forty-eight thousand south of it. But at the time of the Constitutional Convention, there were about fifty thousand in the North, and not far from seven hundred thousand in the South. There had been little or no importation of slaves during the war, and the slave system was generally condemned by the best men of the South as well as by those of the North. In their opinion, it was only a question of time when it would cease altogether. But the greater number of slaves in the South made the Southern delegates determined to have them represented, while the North generally opposed such representation.


250. Strength of Central Government.—Another difficulty in the way of agreement was found in the radical differences of opinion between the members as to whether the new government was to be very weak or very strong. This was by far the most important question of all. One party held that the states should still be left with great powers, and should be practically independent; while the opposite party thought that a general government with the essential attributes of an elective monarchy was most needed. There was, however, a very general and a very natural remembrance of the fact that it was the predominating strength of the executive part of the British government that had caused separation, and there was a general disposition to avoid any similar defect.


251. Discussion of the Difficulties.—These various difficulties taxed all the faculties of the members. It sometimes seemed that not another step of progress could be made, and that the delegates would be obliged to abandon the task and go home. As discussion advanced, it became evident that no agreement could be made except through a general spirit of conciliation and compromise. The convention sat with closed doors, and for four months considered the stupendous difficulties that confronted them. At length, on the 17th day of September, 1787, they agreed upon a constitution and adjourned. It was to go into effect when ratified by the conventions of nine states.


252. Four Great Lines of Compromise.—The Constitution was built upon a basis of four great lines of mutual concession.

First, the smaller states were brought to agreement by being allowed the same representation in the Senate as the larger states; while the larger states were satisfied by being allowed to send to the House of Representatives a number of delegates to be determined by the number of inhabitants.

Second, the question of the representation of slavery in Congress was finally adjusted by providing that for determining the number of representatives of each state, Congress should add to the number of freemen three-fifths of all persons held to service. Congress was also prohibited from abolishing the foreign slave trade before 1808.

Third, the advocates of a strong central government came to an agreement with the advocates of a weak one by allowing the dividing line between the authority of the central government and of the several states to be somewhat vaguely defined, and by leaving such definition to the course of future events. It is probable that if either side had insisted on putting into words a statement authorizing its interpretation, no agreement could have been reached. This uncertainty of interpretation, though apparently necessary to an agreement on the Constitution, might be called the fundamental cause of the Civil War in 1861.

Fourth, while the President, by being made commander in chief of the army and being intrusted with the enforcement of all laws, was given great authority, he was put under rigid constitutional checks in numerous ways. In case he should exceed his authority, he could be impeached by the House of Representatives and tried by the Senate; and in case of conviction, removed from office. It was further provided that in all cases whatsoever involving differences of opinion regarding the Constitution, the Supreme Court should render authoritative decision. This authority of the Supreme Court was the most marked peculiarity of the Constitution.


Federal Hall, New York City.

253. Characteristics of the Constitution.—On the basis of these mutual concessions, the Constitution was finally adopted. It provided for three departments of government: the Legislative, to make the laws; the Executive, to execute the laws; and the Judicial, to define the laws in case of dispute. The legislature consisted of the House of Representatives, the members of which were to be chosen for two years by the people of the several states; and the Senate, consisting of two members from each state, who were to be chosen for a term of six years. The executive officer was to be a President, elected for a term of four years, by electors chosen by the people of the several states, each state to have as many electors as it had members in the Senate and the House of Representatives together. To the President was also given legislative influence through the right of veto. The judiciary was to consist of a Supreme Court, and such other courts as Congress might provide for. The judges were to be appointed by the President, with the consent of the Senate, and were to hold office during good behavior. In case of misdemeanor they could be removed by impeachment. The authority given to the Supreme Court to declare acts of Congress contrary to the Constitution, and therefore null and void, was a new element in government and made the court stronger than any other court in existence. Jefferson returned from Europe just after the completion of the work of the convention, and was almost panic stricken by fear that the plan of government, if adopted by the states, would allow, if not even encourage, the establishment of monarchy. It was many years before Jefferson’s fears were allayed. The general wisdom of these provisions, however, has been acknowledged by the whole world.


Patrick Henry.

254. Attitude of the States.—After the adoption of the Constitution by the convention, it went to the several states for ratification, and during the winter of 1787–1788 conventions in the respective commonwealths had the question of adoption under consideration. Its ratification was most strenuously opposed in Virginia, in New York, and in Rhode Island. Patrick Henry was the most eloquent of these opponents, his opposition being founded on the belief that the general government would gradually grow so strong as to interfere with the governments of the individual states. Of the states unfavorable to the Constitution, New Hampshire was the first to yield, in June, 1788. New York and Virginia soon followed. Rhode Island and North Carolina held out, and the Constitution went into effect without their consent. In order to satisfy those who thought the Federal government had too much power, ten amendments to the Constitution, embodying a Bill of Rights designed to restrict those powers, were adopted in 1791. The final adoption of the Constitution was brought about very largely through the influence of a remarkable series of letters written by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, and afterward collected into the volume known as The Federalist.


255. Washington, the First President.—When, soon after the adoption of the Constitution, the first general election was held, it was found that every elector voted for Washington, who was therefore unanimously elected as the first President. John Adams, having the next number of votes, was elected Vice President. On April 30, 1789, they were inaugurated on the balcony of the Federal Building, on Wall Street, New York City, which was then the seat of government.


The Northwest Territory
in 1787

256. Ordinance for governing the Northwest.—While the Constitutional Convention was in session at Philadelphia, the Congress of the Confederation was in session in New York City. On the 30th of July, 1787, Congress passed the memorable “Ordinance for the Organization of Government in the Northwest,” that vast and important territory which now comprises the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and a part of Minnesota. This ordinance established among others four provisions of fundamental importance, which have contributed immensely to the development of the North Central states. These four fundamental provisions were the following:—

1. “Slavery and involuntary servitude shall forever be excluded.” This provision exempted the region from those perplexing discussions which afterward troubled Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska.

2. “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary for the welfare of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” In this provision common schools, high schools, normal schools, and universities found their constitutional justification, and accordingly, in all the states formed from the Northwest Territory, schools of all grades have been supported by taxation. The example thus set has been followed by all the states since admitted to the Union.

3. “The navigable rivers leading into the Mississippi and the St. Lawrence, and the carrying places between them, shall be common highways and forever free.” This provision secured that freedom of communication between the states which has encouraged very rapid material growth.

4. “The inhabitants shall forever enjoy religious freedom, the habeas corpus, trial by jury, and equal civil and political privileges.” This provision not only secured perfect independence of religious thought, but protected all the people, immigrants as well as others, in the enjoyment of political freedom.

Though the binding authority of this ordinance was subsequently declared by the Supreme Court to have been superseded by the adoption of the Constitution, its influence on the development of the Northwest was unquestionably very great.

References.—A. Johnston, American Politics, 3-18; R. Frothingham, Rise of the Republic, 569-610 (of great importance); J. Fiske, Civil Government, 180-260; F. A. Walker, Making of the Nation, 1-75; A. B. Hart, Formation of the Union, 93-140; J. Fiske, Critical Period of American History, 90-101 and 177-186; J. Winsor, Narrative and Critical History of America, Vol. VI., 716, Vol. VII.; H. Von Holst, Constitutional History, Vol. I.; J. Schouler, United States, Vol. I.; H. C. Lodge, Washington, Vol. II. Fiske, Schouler, and Winsor are the most important of the general authorities on almost every point. J. Bryce, The American Commonwealth (abridged edition), chaps. iii., xxv., xxix., important on the various functions of different parts of the government; Elliot, Debates on the Constitution; Hamilton, The Federalist; B. A. Hinsdale, The Old Northwest; W. G. Sumner, The Financier and the Finances of the American Revolution (2 vols.); W. P. Cutler, Ordinance of 1787; American History Leaflets, Nos. 7, 8, 14, 20; Old South Leaflets, XI., 5; T. Roosevelt, The Winning of the West, Vol. II., chaps. i.–iii.

Born at Nevis, in West Indies, January 11, 1757; died, July 12, 1804. Developed an astonishing precocity, and was sent to New York City in 1772; entered Columbia College, and in 1774 made a public speech that was considered marvelous for a boy of seventeen; published numerous pamphlets of importance, and organized a cavalry company which he led at Long Island and White Plains; was member of Washington’s staff, 1776–1781; ended his military career by leading the final charge at Yorktown; member of Congress, 1782–1783; member of Annapolis Convention in 1786, and Federal Convention in 1787; was the chief writer of The Federalist; converted a two-thirds majority in the New York Convention of 1788 into a minority against the Constitution; as Secretary of the Treasury under Washington founded the national financial system; resigned in 1795; was a constant power as a writer, until killed in a duel by Burr in 1804.

Born, 1751; died, 1836. Graduated at Princeton, 1772; member of Committee of Public Safety in 1774; member of the Virginia Convention in 1776; member of Continental Congress, 1780–1784, in which he was noted for the wisdom of his judgment and the aptness of his methods; did great service in securing religious liberty in Virginia in 1784–1787; member of the Annapolis Convention in 1786; most influential member of the Constitutional Convention of 1787; a leading member of Congress from 1789 to 1797; wrote the “Virginia Resolutions” in 1798; Secretary of State under Jefferson from 1801 to 1809; President from 1809 to 1817, during which time the war against Great Britain was forced upon him; lived in retirement at Montpelier, Virginia, from 1817 till his death.

United States in 1789

PARTIES, 1789–1825.

the country at the close of the eighteenth century.


257. Population and Area.—The country over which Washington began to preside in 1789 was very different from the great nation it has grown to be. Counting about seven hundred and fifty thousand slaves, the population did not quite reach four millions. Eleven years later, by the second census, that of 1800, this population had increased to 5,308,480; but the area of 827,844 square miles was not yet settled at the ratio of six and a half persons to a square mile. It was only along the Atlantic coast from Virginia to Massachusetts that the original wilderness had been fairly conquered by settlements that furnished a population of from twenty-five to ninety inhabitants to the square mile.


258. Boundary Disputes.—The boundaries of this immense and practically unoccupied area were in dispute to the north, northwest, and south. The British still kept garrisons at Detroit, Niagara, and other forts. In the region bordering on the Gulf of Mexico, Spanish claims conflicted with those of the Americans, and Spain denied the inhabitants of the new settlements beyond the Alleghanies any practical use of the lower Mississippi. A treaty with Spain in 1795 helped to mend these matters.


Blockhouse at Mackinaw,

259. The West.—The Westerners, who were thus deprived of the full use of their great waterway and whom Spanish agents endeavored to detach from the Union, were few in numbers. Kentucky and Tennessee were practically the only organized settlements; but a popular movement toward Ohio and the Northwest was beginning, and by the end of the century the Mississippi Territory had been formed in the region which Georgia claimed north of the Gulf. Most of the settlers in these outlying communities had moved westward from the frontier portions of the adjoining older states. Thus many of the immigrants to Tennessee came from North Carolina. Often they were of Scotch-Irish stock, deeply religious, hardy and frugal. They drove out the Indians, killed the wild beasts, cleared lands for their farms, and raised their large families in a rude independence. On the foundations they laid, great commonwealths have been erected which should not in their present wealth and power forget the bold adventurers who crossed the mountains in wagon trains or floated down the Ohio in large flat-bottomed boats.[103]


260. The Older Commonwealths.—Within the original colonies state lines were much confused. Vermont did not formally succeed in throwing off New York’s claim and becoming a state until 1791. Connecticut still claimed a strip of land along the northern border of the Northwest Territory. Maine continued to constitute a district of Massachusetts. The population of all the states was chiefly of English descent and was, on the whole, homogeneous, although the amount of intercourse between state and state was still small. Virginia was the most populous of the states, Massachusetts ranking next. Each was typical of the region to which it belonged, the presence of slavery more or less retarding the South, and the comparative absence of it favoring New England.


261. Occupations.—Although the country had grown considerably in population and wealth during the eighteenth century, the people had not greatly changed in character or in their pursuits. The confusion engendered by the Revolution was slowly passing away, but the revived industries ran along much the same narrow lines as of old. At Washington’s accession to the Presidency public and private finances were in a bad shape, but speedy improvement followed the reforms of Hamilton, shortly to be described (§ 266). Agriculture was still the main calling—the nation being, on the whole, one of farmers. Commerce, however, was a surer source of wealth, especially in the East, where there was a good deal of shipping. But manufacturing was in its infancy, as we at once perceive when we learn that even in 1800 not quite four per cent of the people lived in towns.


262. The Towns.—The country people had no such incentives to flock to cities as they have to-day. There were no railroads or steamboats to make the journey easy. On the contrary, roads were bad and travel by water was both uncomfortable and dangerous. Nor were the towns, of which Philadelphia with seventy thousand inhabitants, New York with sixty thousand, Baltimore with twenty-six thousand, Boston with twenty-four thousand, and Charleston with twenty thousand, were the chief, especially attractive. Sanitation was little attended to, save in Philadelphia after the terrible yellow fever epidemics of 1793 and 1797. There were few theaters. The newspapers were small and uninfluential sheets. Good colleges and schools and libraries were scarcely to be found. Life was comparatively simple and lacking in interest and brilliancy. Indeed the country gentleman, especially in the South, found his rural sports and his rounds of social visiting more enlivening than the life led by his town friends.

Stagecoach of the time of Washington.


263. Dominance of the Colonial Spirit.—In their mental attitude toward life the American people had changed about as little as in their occupations and customs. Although in Jonathan Edwards and Benjamin Franklin they had produced two great writers, in Franklin and Benjamin Thompson (Count Rumford, 1733–1814) eminent scientists, and in Benjamin West (1738–1820) and J. S. Copley (1737–1815) distinguished painters; although they had developed as great statesmen and political writers as any country could name, they still had no literature, or art, or science worthy of being called national. In other words, though the people of the United States had won their political independence, they were still, in their modes of thought and action, dominated by the spirit of colonial dependence. There were many persons who not merely imitated English manners and dress, read English books, and wrote in the current English style, but who even shared, in the main, English political ideas and prejudices. There were others who were fully as much influenced by French modes of thought and life. Here and there, in great men like Washington or Franklin, we find a sturdy originality that smacks of the soil, and undoubtedly the plainer people were little affected by foreign ideas and customs. But the towns still preserved their colonial attitude of dependence on Europe, and this was in the main true of the prosperous country families as well. In fact, the seaboard colonies were, in a way, outskirts of Europe, just as the Western communities were outskirts of the Atlantic seaboard. There was little of the enterprise and activity which throughout America to-day keep small communities from stagnating. In short, our forefathers of three generations ago were in many ways a very different race of beings from their descendants of to-day.


264. Virtue and Happiness of the People.—Yet it would be a great mistake to suppose that the drawbacks just enumerated were in the main apparent to the American people themselves, or that they are greatly to be insisted upon in a sketch of the civilization of the period. American life might at the close of the eighteenth century seem dull and narrow to travelers from Europe, but we know that a happy, brave, free, religious people inhabited a land that yielded abundant returns to their labors, and we may readily believe that their lives were fully as useful as ours are to-day. Nor should it ever be forgotten that amid these provincial surroundings arose the greatest figure that modern history can show, and that the American people were wise enough to choose electors who would make him President.

References.—J. Schouler, History of the United States, Vol. I., chaps. i.–iii.; J. B. McMaster, History of the American People, Vol. I., chap. i. See also References to the next chapter. The novels of Charles Brockden Brown (1771–1810), the first American who was a successful professional man of letters, may be profitably consulted in connection with this chapter, especially his Arthur Mervyn, and Ormond, which describe life in Philadelphia during the yellow fever epidemics.

Kentucky was made a state in 1792; Tennessee, in 1796; Ohio, in 1803.

The Areas of Freedom and Slavery in 1790


the administrations of washington, 1789–1797.


265. Washington as a Statesman.—When Washington took the oath of office in New York City[104] on April 30, 1789, few people could have foreseen that the elderly, dignified man, dressed in the picturesque costume of the period, would one day rank among the greatest statesmen of the world. His experience had been rather with military than with civil affairs. He was reserved in temper, and liked forms and ceremonies to which the masses were opposed. He had few of the arts of persuasion. His mind was not trained like that of John Adams, for example, nor was it markedly original. But he had had the training of experience, and he had what is essential to statesmanship of the first order—a great character, sobriety, dignity, perfect rectitude of purpose, knowledge of men, and willingness to trust those whom he regarded as competent—in short, wisdom as opposed to mere knowledge made Washington the great statesman we now know him to have been. He held the reins of government firmly and made few or no mistakes. He saw that the new nation should show prudence and by its dignity win the respect of other nations; and in spite of criticism, and often of frantic opposition, he kept his administrations well in line with his ideals. He avoided foreign complications and appeased or put down domestic discontent. He balanced political parties and made their leaders serve the state. When he laid down his office he explained his principles in his “Farewell Address,” which has become one of the political classics of the world. And now, after the lapse of a century, the perspective of time enables us to comprehend, in part at least, the unique grandeur of his position among men.


266. Early Legislation.—The first Congress, which was organized shortly before Washington was inaugurated, contained some eminent men, chief among them perhaps being James Madison of Virginia, in the House of Representatives, and John Adams of Massachusetts, who, as Vice President, presided over the Senate. The members were residents of the districts they represented, and their salary was at first six dollars a day. The most important work they did, after determining the rules of procedure that should govern them, was to organize those portions of the administration and government that had been left vague by the Constitution. They established the three departments of State, Treasury, and War, whose Secretaries, along with the Attorney-General, formed the President’s Cabinet.[105] The Post-Office Department was also organized, but the Postmaster-General was not then included in the Cabinet. Congress furthermore organized the Federal judiciary along the lines of circuit and district courts that it follows at present, the Supreme Court having been authorized by the Constitution, but the number of its justices not having been settled. They also passed a tariff law giving mild protection to manufacturers, as well as a moderate system of internal duties on distilled spirits. They arranged for the payment of the foreign and domestic public debt of the United States, about fifty-four million dollars, mainly incurred to carry on the Revolution, and also, after much discussion, agreed to assume a large part, i.e. twenty-one million five hundred thousand dollars, of the debts of the individual states contracted for the same purpose. The latter measure was carried only by means of an agreement to fix the Federal capital at a point on the Potomac River (afterward Washington), in return for which concession Southern votes were secured.[106] Finally, Congress established a National Bank with a capital of ten million dollars and a charter running twenty years, and also laid before the states twelve amendments to the Constitution which, as we have seen (§ 254), had been suggested during the state debates on the adoption of that instrument.[107]


267. Hamilton and the Federalists.—The financial legislation mentioned in the last paragraph had been outlined in the main by Alexander Hamilton of New York, the first Secretary of the Treasury. This remarkable man had distinguished himself as a soldier and as a contributor to The Federalist in defense of the Constitution (§ 254), before Washington chose him as his chief counselor. As a financier and an administrator working under a chief, he has probably had no equal in America. In his theories of government, however, he favored a strong central administration more than a simple people suspicious of tyranny thought proper. Hence, while he easily dominated all the supporters of the new government, he failed to secure the confidence of the masses and probably would not have been given the Presidency, even if he had not fallen in a duel with Aaron Burr in 1804. He did, however, during his life direct the policy of the Federalists, as the party supporting the Union under the Constitution was called. Washington would have liked to govern without parties, but the unsettled question whether the new central government should be strong or weak necessitated a twofold division of voters. And in the end even Washington was forced more or less to take sides with Hamilton and the Federalists.


268. Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans.—Hamilton’s rival in the Cabinet was Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, who gave up his post as minister to France to accept the Secretaryship of State. Jefferson had already acquired great fame as the writer of the Declaration of Independence and other state papers. He had been governor of Virginia, and was a good legislator and administrative officer, although plainly Hamilton’s inferior in the latter respect. But he was especially strong in his thorough comprehension of the desires of the people and in his ability to criticise political institutions and measures. He believed in democracy and wished government to be simple in every respect. Being suspicious by nature, he thought that Hamilton and the Federalists were aiming to establish a strong republic that might develop into a monarchy. In order to oppose them, he drew together all the dissatisfied elements in the country, as well as all the advocates of a simple, popular government, into a party soon known as the Democratic-Republicans. Under one name or another, the two parties formed under Hamilton and Jefferson have existed to our own day. The two Secretaries naturally opposed each other in the Cabinet,[108] and Washington had a hard task in forcing them to work together. Finally Jefferson, who had indiscreetly used the newspapers against the administration, desired to resign and return to his home at Monticello,[109] and Washington let him go. After this, as we have just seen, the President allowed Hamilton more and more power, and the administration became practically a Federalist one, although its head was still superior to mere party considerations.


269. Washington’s First Term.—At the appointed time, before the expiration of his first term, Washington was elected unanimously for a second. During his first term, in which North Carolina and Rhode Island were reconciled to the Union, and Vermont and Kentucky added to it, only two events of great importance took place. These were St. Clair’s defeat and the outbreak of the French Revolution. This latter event was destined to complicate domestic politics in America after Washington had begun his second administration.


270. St. Clair’s Defeat.—The Northwestern Indians had been giving trouble since 1786, and in 1791 had destroyed the settlement of Big Bottom, in Ohio. In order to check them, it was determined to construct a line of forts from Cincinnati to Lake Michigan. General Arthur St. Clair, governor of the Northwest Territory, was beginning the work when he was entrapped in ambush, and suffered a crushing defeat (1791). He resigned, and Washington, who was moved to indignation and grief by the catastrophe, appointed “Mad Anthony” Wayne, another Revolutionary veteran, as his successor (§ 198). Wayne, a thorough soldier, proceeded cautiously, and two years later (1793) broke the power of the tribes in a battle near Vincennes. The treaty of Greenville (1795) relieved eastern Ohio from Indian menaces.


271. Genet’s Indiscretions.—Early in 1793 war was declared between France and England, and the Democratic-Republican party wished to involve America in the struggle, directly or indirectly, in the interests of her former ally. We had a treaty binding us to defend French colonies, like those in the West Indies, but this treaty had been concluded with the French monarchy, not with the Republic that had overthrown Louis XVI. After some discussion in the Cabinet, Washington issued a proclamation of strict neutrality, which naturally disappointed the French revolutionists greatly. Their minister to America, Edmond Charles Genet, landed in Charleston and began to fit out privateers and enlist men in plain defiance of the President’s proclamation. He counted on the sympathy of the people with France, and was, indeed, received with enthusiasm by many visionary citizens. But Washington stopped his privateers, and treated all his demands with such firmness that he soon lost ground. He had the insolence to make a public appeal against the administration. This foolhardy act could lead to but one result—his recall, at the request of the United States. Genet, however, though recalled, chose not to run the risk of returning to France, where the guillotine was in full operation.


John Jay.

272. Jay’s Treaty.—One of the chief events of Washington’s second administration was the ratification of the treaty with Great Britain, which bears the name of the statesman who negotiated it—John Jay,[110] then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. There were various restrictions placed by England upon America’s trade, and the ships of the latter were being captured during the war then in progress between Great Britain and France. Native-born Americans were frequently taken from the decks of their country’s merchant vessels and pressed into the British naval service, on the pretense that they were really British born. As the two nations spoke the same language, it was often difficult to prove that this impressment was illegal. There were other troubles, connected with the failure of the British to abandon frontier posts, with boundary disputes, and with unpaid claims; hence there was much popular feeling against Great Britain. Jay, after great trouble, negotiated in the autumn of 1794 a treaty which removed some grievances, such as the unlawful occupation by the British of military posts upon American soil, but did not much improve the condition of trade, nor abate the impressment nuisance. Washington, although he was disappointed, thought that even such a treaty for twelve years would be better than a war with England. He called an extra session of the Senate in June, 1795, and after a hot debate, the treaty, slightly altered, was confirmed. There was great popular displeasure about the matter, and Jay and Washington were bitterly reviled, but in the end it was seen that they had acted wisely.


273. The Whisky Rebellion.—Another event of importance was an insurrection in western Pennsylvania in the summer and autumn of 1794, commonly known as “The Whisky Rebellion.” The moderate excise tax on whisky had outraged the rough frontiersmen of the district, since they made the liquor easily and could purchase goods in exchange for it.[111] They threatened the tax collectors in mobs, and finally blood was shed, in July, 1794. Great excitement followed, and the government mail was robbed. Then the President called out the militia from Pennsylvania and neighboring states, and fifteen thousand men were marched over the region, encountering no opposition, and making only a few arrests. Two rough fellows were convicted of treason, but Washington pardoned them, and the insurrection was at an end.

Mount Vernon.


274. Washington Refuses a Third Term.—In 1796, in his famous “Farewell Address,” Washington declined reëlection for a third term, thus setting a precedent which has been followed ever since. He served his country from the spring of 1789 to that of 1797. During his second term his political assailants were especially venomous.[112] As criticism hurt him sorely, he was glad to lay down his office, and retire to Mount Vernon, particularly as it seemed that the new government was now stable enough to be able to exist without him.

References.General Works which should be consulted in connection with Chapters XIII.–XVII.: W. Macdonald, Select Documents of United States History, 1776–1861; J. Schouler, History of the United States (6 vols.); J. B. McMaster, A History of the People of the United States (to 1830, 5 vols.); J. Winsor, The Narrative and Critical History of America (8 vols.); H. von Holst, The Constitutional History of the United States (8 vols.); G. Tucker, The History of the United States (4 vols.); Bryant and Gay, A Popular History of the United States (4 vols.); R. Hildreth, The History of the United States (1492–1821, 6 vols.); A. B. Hart, Formation of the Union, chaps. vii.–xi.; F. A. Walker, Making of the Union (“American History Series”); J. W. Burgess, The Middle Period, chap. i. (“American History Series”).

Special Works in Connection with Chapter XII.: H. C. Lodge, George Washington, Vol. II., Alexander Hamilton; J. T. Morse, Thomas Jefferson; S. H. Gay, James Madison (these are in the “American Statesmen” series). See also other biographies of these four statesmen and their collected writings, as well as the Messages of the Presidents.

New York City was the temporary capital until 1790, when Philadelphia took its place. In 1800 the government was moved to Washington, which at the time contained few houses.

General Henry Knox of Massachusetts was the first Secretary of War and was also intrusted with the charge of naval affairs. The Navy Department was not established until 1798. Edmund Randolph of Virginia was the first Attorney-General. The two most important secretaryships were those of State and of Treasury respectively (§§ 267, 268). The Cabinet officers did not obtain the privilege of appearing before Congress in order to explain and defend the measures advocated by them. Thus an important variation from British parliamentary government was introduced. Another variation has come about through the fact that the Speaker of the House, who was at first an impartial moderator, has become for three quarters of a century the most influential of party leaders through his privilege of appointing all committees.

Jefferson was chiefly instrumental in obtaining this compromise.

Of these twelve proposed amendments, ten were ratified in 1791. They form a Bill of Rights. A few years later an eleventh was added in order to prevent states from being sued by citizens, and a twelfth, as we shall soon see, in order to avoid deadlocks in the election of a President. At this point the practice of amending the Constitution stopped until after the Civil War. Cumbrous formalities had to be gone through, and it was soon found that the decisions of the Supreme Court in constitutional questions were the best means of making the Constitution a flexible instrument capable of adapting itself to the changing needs of the country.

Jefferson wrote that they were pitted against each other like cocks in a cockpit.

In Albemarle County, Virginia.

Born, 1745; died, 1829. Graduated at King’s (now Columbia) College, 1766; member of committee of correspondence and of the First Continental Congress, 1774; wrote Address to the People of Great Britain in 1774; was member of the Second Congress, and was chief justice of New York in 1777; was associated with Franklin and Adams in negotiating treaty with France; secretary of foreign affairs, 1784–1789; wrote at least five of the essays in The Federalist; member of the New York Constitutional Convention, 1788; appointed by Washington first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1789; after negotiating “Jay’s Treaty,” was governor of New York, 1795–1801.

The internal revenue tax on spirits still produces lawlessness among the mountaineers of the Southern states.

To Governor Trumbull of Connecticut, who had urged Washington to run for a third term, the President replied that if the Democrats were to put up a broomstick against him as candidate they would be victorious. See Fisher’s Life of Trumbull, Appendix.


the administration of john adams, 1797–1801.


John Adams.

275. The Election of John Adams.—Washington’s refusal of a third term and retirement to Mount Vernon, brought John Adams[113] to the front as the natural choice of the Federalists for President. Hamilton, as we have seen (§ 267), was out of the question, and the services of Massachusetts’ great son during the Revolution ranked next to those of Washington now that Franklin was dead. The Democratic-Republicans naturally favored Jefferson; but there was no such elaborate campaign between the rivals as there is in our day. As the electoral system then stood, the person receiving the highest number of votes in the Electoral College became President, the person receiving the next highest number, Vice President. Hamilton tried by an intrigue to get Thomas Pinckney, of South Carolina, who was the Federalist candidate for Vice President, elected President over Adams. His scheme failed, however, for Pennsylvania and the South voted for Jefferson, who thus secured 69 votes to Adams’s 71. Jefferson, therefore, became Vice President. Congress divided, the Senate continuing Federalist, but both parties being so nearly even in the House that a few moderate Democratic-Republicans held the balance of power.


276. The X. Y. Z. Affair.—Adams took over Washington’s Cabinet, from which Hamilton had retired in 1795. In so doing he made a mistake, since the Secretaries regarded Hamilton as the leader of their party, and indulged in intrigues against their lawful chief. The new President also tried to carry out Washington’s general policy, and found himself hampered, especially with regard to France. The French had not liked the treaty the United States had concluded with their enemies, the British, through the diplomacy of Jay, and they had been imprudently dealt with by the American minister, James Monroe. Monroe’s successor, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney[114] of South Carolina, was not well treated in France, and at once informed Adams that the French Directory would not receive another Minister from the United States until their grievances were redressed. Adams immediately called a special session of Congress, but was wise enough to send over John Marshall of Virginia and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts to act with Pinckney as commissioners. Nearly a year later news was received that an attempt had been made to make the commissioners, who had not been officially received, offer money for securing a settlement of the trouble. In other words, American envoys had been told that they must commit the crime of bribery if they wished to serve their country effectively. The names of the persons making these insulting demands were veiled under the letters X. Y. Z.—hence the matter is known as the X. Y. Z. Affair. Adams and the people at large resented this treatment of the commissioners, and a war with France was imminent. Indeed in July, 1798, American vessels of war were authorized to attack French men-of-war, and a French frigate was actually taken in February, 1799. Washington was made commander in chief of the land forces with Hamilton as second in command, but neither had occasion to serve actively.

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.


277. The Alien and Sedition Laws.—Meanwhile Adams and the Federalists, who had the sympathy of the country in the impending war, speedily lost it by passing the famous “Alien and Sedition Laws.” The editors of the Republican press, being in many cases foreign-born, had been friendly to France since the days of the French Revolution and of Genet’s mission, and had attacked Adams and his party violently. The Federalists, believing that the liberties of the country would be destroyed if this license were not checked, not only passed a rigid naturalization law, but also one providing for the removal from the country of dangerous aliens designated by the President.


278. Features of the Sedition Law.—To this act against foreigners, which was tyrannical in theory although not in practice, an even worse law was added relative to sedition. It was designed to punish persons who conspired in order to resist the government’s measures or to intimidate officeholders. It was also aimed at persons guilty of libeling the government, Congress, or the President. Practically this was to gag the press in the interest of the Federalist party. The first conspicuously effective use of the law was made against an obnoxious Republican editor named Callender. But the journalists took shelter behind public opinion, and the Federalists soon found to their sorrow that they had gone too far in their attack on popular liberties.


279. The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions.—Jefferson led the resistance to the unpopular law, and as he could hope to do nothing with Congress until a new election, he turned to the state legislatures. In those of Virginia and Kentucky, in the fall of 1798, resolutions were adopted, since known as the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions. These declared that, as the Constitution was a compact between the states, the latter have individually the right to pass judgment upon the enactments of the general government, which derives its power to make laws from the Constitution. In pursuance of this assumed right the legislatures representing the two states pronounced the Alien and Sedition Acts unconstitutional and void and called on other states to do likewise. In 1799 the Kentucky legislature passed a second series, which declared that all acts of the general government unauthorized by the Constitution ought to be nullified by the states. The immediate object and effect of these resolutions was to render the Alien and Sedition Laws unpopular and suspected. The chief effect, however, was seen later to lie in the support given by the names of Madison and Jefferson, authors respectively of the Virginia and Kentucky series, to the theory of the “compact” origin of the government and to the subsequent Carolina doctrine of nullification.


280. Dissensions in the Cabinet.—While the Federalists were defeating themselves by the laws they passed, Adams was dividing them by his policy. In order to conclude a new treaty with France, he nominated a minister to that country without consulting his Cabinet. This not only alienated his Secretaries still more, but also irritated those Federalists who had wished to fight France. Relations became so strained in the Cabinet that Timothy Pickering, a friend of Hamilton’s, had to be replaced, as Secretary of State, by John Marshall. But Adams secured his treaty (1800) through a commission of three, instead of through the Minister he had at first nominated.


281. The Presidential Election of 1800.—As a new election was approaching, Hamilton again tried to oust Adams as leader of the Federalists, but failed. Adams, with C. C. Pinckney for a colleague, received the votes of the Federalist electors but was defeated by Jefferson by eight votes (seventy-three to sixty-five). Unfortunately, however, Aaron Burr, the New York Democratic-Republican, who was supported for Vice President, got the same number of votes as Jefferson, which threw the election into the House of Representatives, where the Federalists had a majority. There was great confusion, and for a time it looked as if Burr, who was thought to be unprincipled, would be chosen. It was even believed by some persons that the Federalists would be able to keep themselves in power on the plea that old officials must hold over until new ones were legally elected. But Hamilton at last supported Jefferson, as the lesser of two evils, and through the votes of moderate Federalist congressmen, like James A. Bayard of Delaware, the Virginia statesman was elected. This solution of the problem was most fortunate, as Jefferson was plainly the choice of the people, and as civil war might have followed a successful plot to deprive him of the Presidency. As a result of the complication, the Twelfth Amendment was adopted in 1804, making it incumbent upon electors to vote specifically for a President and a Vice President. Just before retiring from office, in March, 1801, Adams made a number of appointments to office, known as the “midnight appointments.” These, as we shall see, caused Jefferson much vexation. It was not altogether fair for Adams thus to hamper his successor, nor should the Federalist President have shown his vexation at the result of the election by driving out of Washington early in the morning of March 4 in order not to be obliged to attend Jefferson’s inauguration. Adams and the Federalists generally believed, however, that Jefferson and the Republicans would begin a reign of anarchy, and some allowance must be made for what was, nevertheless, an act of great discourtesy. It is pleasant to add that the strained relations between the two statesmen were entirely mended before their deaths.

References.General Works: same as for Chapter XIII.

Special Works: same as for Chapter XIII., with the addition of: J. T. Morse, John Adams (“American Statesmen”); C. F. Adams, John Adams. See also the collected writings of John Adams; and E. D. Warfield, Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions.

Born at Braintree, Massachusetts, October 31, 1735; died at Quincy, once part of Braintree, July 4, 1826. He practiced law and took active part in agitation against the Stamp Act; wrote much against British treatment of colonies; served prominently in First and Second Continental Congresses; did much to secure the adoption of the Declaration of Independence; sent as Commissioner to France, 1777; negotiated Dutch loan, 1780; Minister to Holland, 1781; one of the negotiators of the Treaty of Paris, 1783; Minister to Great Britain, 1785; returned to America, 1788; Vice President, 1789–1797; President, 1797–1801; lived in retirement at Quincy till his death.

Born in South Carolina, 1746; died, 1825. Attorney-general in South Carolina, and member of the Provincial Congress, 1775; fought as major at Brandywine, Germantown, and Charleston; member of the Federal Convention of 1787; was sent on mission to France in 1796; in response to efforts of the French to bribe the envoys, gave utterance to the phrase, “millions for defense, but not a cent for tribute”; was Federalist candidate for Vice President in 1800, and for President in 1804 and 1808.

United States in 1800


the administrations of jefferson, 1801–1809.


282. Jefferson’s Character and General Policy.—With the advent of the popular Jefferson as President, the aristocratic Federalists, especially those of New England, thought, as we have just seen, that anarchy would ensue. Jefferson was supposed to be an opponent of all social distinctions, of strong organized government, and even of religious institutions. As a matter of fact, he was a widely cultured country gentleman who had liberal political theories, a sympathy with the masses of the people, especially the agriculturists, and a profound belief in human capacity for progress. He was too suspicious, and he often lacked dignity; he had no great executive ability and preferred rather to manage than to command, but he understood the American people as perhaps no other man has done. Furthermore, he gave in his writings the most subtle and widely current exposition of general republican ideas that has ever been given. He corresponded with leading men throughout the country and by his letters molded public opinion. His accession to power, so far from overthrowing the government, gave it a popular support it could have received in no other way; and the successive elections of his pupils, Madison and Monroe, kept the South and West fairly in the Union until the central government became strong enough under Jackson to crush incipient efforts to divide the nation. None of these three Virginian Presidents was a commanding man, but all were influential, and their policies made for harmony. Hence the period of their administrations had an importance not at first perceived. They helped to hold the agricultural slave-holding South in line with the manufacturing and commercial North and East. They made mistakes, were embarrassed by foreign complications and domestic difficulties, and had to persuade instead of rule. But they represented both the Union and the section that was most masterful and restive of control, and thus their administrations formed a necessary stage in the nation’s evolution.


Albert Gallatin.

283. The Revolution of 1801.—Another point to be remembered about these Presidents is the fact that they were all representative of the educated upper classes, and yet were in full sympathy with the common people, who had just obtained political control of the country. If they had been demagogues or as ignorant of the principles of government as many of their supporters, they might indeed have precipitated the reign of anarchy the Federalists feared. On the contrary, they governed as well as their aristocratic opponents could have done, and so the Federalist party, which had succeeded so well in establishing the government, but had unwisely ignored the wishes of the people, sank into insignificance, without any serious detriment to the nation. The Revolution of 1801, as the Democratic-Republican victory has been called, was a beneficent one, chiefly because it took place under the direction and control of trained statesmen.


John Marshall.

284. Leading Public Men.—Jefferson made a good beginning by delivering a conciliatory inaugural address[115] and by not making a wholesale removal of Federalist officeholders. Where commissions had not been delivered to Adams’s late appointees, he withheld them, and he removed obnoxious partisans, but on the whole his attitude toward the civil service was fairly conservative. His Cabinet appointments were good, and throughout his two terms he had the cordial support of his subordinates. Madison, who was much under his influence, was a prudent and able statesman, and made a dignified Secretary of State. Albert Gallatin[116] of Pennsylvania, as Secretary of the Treasury, proved himself second only to Hamilton as a financier. Gallatin was by birth a Swiss, and is a striking example of what a foreign-born citizen of integrity and talents can accomplish in free America. The leading man in the House of Representatives was the Virginian, John Randolph of Roanoke, one of the most brilliant and interesting figures in our history. He was too independent and one-sided, however, to work long in harmony with the administration, and became in course of time the most bitter and effective of its opponents. Another Virginian, in the judiciary department, was a formidable opponent of Jefferson. This was John Marshall,[117] whom Adams, shortly before he left office, had made Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Marshall was a Federalist, and in favor of giving the general government broader powers than Jefferson and his party thought either right or expedient. The President and the great jurist came often into conflict, as, for example, in the Burr trial (§ 290); but on the whole the advantage rested with Marshall, since he remained in office until his death, in 1835, and since his decisions steadily helped to build up the power of the government.


Stephen Decatur.

285. Financial Affairs and War with the Barbary States.—One of the first matters that occupied the new administration was the reduction of taxes and the decrease of the public debt, which had grown rapidly in consequence of the preparations for war with France. The army was greatly reduced,[118] and much less was spent on the navy—a branch of the service which had grown under Adams, but with which Jefferson, as an agriculturist, had little sympathy. He endeavored to economize in other ways, especially by doing away with internal taxes and with the unnecessary judges added by the Federalists, but he naturally found that the demands of a growing country had to be met. Still, the next ten years were distinctly a period of retrenchment, in spite of the cost of Louisiana and of the small war waged against the piratical Barbary States (1801–1806). These “pests of Christendom” had become too impudent in their demands for tribute in return for promised immunity of American shipping in the Mediterranean, and they had to be brought to their senses by the bombardment of Tripoli. The war furnished training to our sailors, and gave Lieutenant Stephen Decatur[119] great fame for his exploit in burning one of our frigates, so that she could be of no use to the enemy.[120]


286. The Louisiana Purchase.—This purchase was the most important feature of either of Jefferson’s administrations. The colony of Louisiana, which comprised a vast stretch of territory west of the Mississippi, had, as we have seen, been ceded by France to Spain in 1763 (§ 115). In 1800 Spain ceded it back to France. As the latter country was far more powerful and dangerous than the former, and as the ambitious Napoleon then ruled France, great alarm was felt in America at the prospect of having a rival nation grow up across the Mississippi. Affairs were made still more serious by the denial of the right of depositing their goods at the port of New Orleans to the inhabitants of our Western country. These citizens were thus unable to transfer their merchandise from river boats to ocean vessels, and were cut off from profitable markets. Even the pacific Jefferson took the alarm,[121] and James Monroe of Virginia was dispatched to France to try to buy a strip of territory including New Orleans. Because of the impending war between Great Britain and France, and the consequent necessity of defending Louisiana, and for other reasons, Napoleon just before Monroe’s arrival made the regular American Minister, R. R. Livingston, an offer to sell the whole Louisiana region. His offer was accepted, and the price was set at fifteen million dollars, less certain claims against the French.

The Louisiana Purchase


287. Controversy over the Purchase.—Jefferson declared, consistently with his own principles, that no power to acquire territory was allowed the general government by the Constitution, and that therefore an amendment must be made to that document in order that the purchase might be valid. But an amendment would take time, and unless the bargain were closed at once the new territory might be lost forever, especially as Spain was indignant on account of Napoleon’s action. So the treaty was ratified, and a strict constructionist President furnished a weighty precedent to his political opponents. The latter, however, did not perceive the value of Louisiana to the Union, and would have been better pleased had Jefferson clung to his principles. Yet it is clear that he was right, and the Federalists wrong. The contiguity of the territory made it necessary that it should belong to the United States, and it was better to buy it than to fight for it at some future day. It is true that the boundaries of the region were unsettled, and were sure to cause trouble, and that a spread of slavery was also involved. But the people were wise when they indorsed Jefferson’s action by reëlecting him in 1804 by an overwhelming majority. Jefferson himself was wise in not speculating whether or not the states formed west of the Mississippi would adhere to the Union,—the Federalists feared they would not,—and in having the new region explored by Lewis and Clark and Lieutenant Pike. So great was the opposition of New England to this acquisition of territory by the nation, that some Federalist leaders actually thought that they might persuade the Eastern states to detach themselves from the Union. Their schemes were abortive, but were destined soon to bear bitter fruit (§§ 313-315).


288. The Election of 1804.—The election of 1804 was held under the Twelfth Amendment (§ 281). Burr, who had endeavored to secure the Presidency through Federalist help, and who was besides, as we have seen, a suspicious character, was not available for reëlection to the Vice Presidency. Jefferson was therefore given George Clinton, of New York, as a colleague. The two Federalist candidates, C. C. Pinckney and Rufus King of New York, received but fourteen electoral votes, so complete was the demoralization of the party.


289. Burr’s Conspiracy.—Burr ran as an independent candidate for the governorship of New York, but was defeated, again chiefly through the instrumentality of Hamilton. In consequence, he picked a quarrel with the latter, which led to a duel. Hamilton was killed at the first shot, and the death of so brilliant a man in such a manner aroused the indignation of the entire country.[122] Burr became almost an outcast. As he was an ambitious schemer, he undertook in 1806 to induce a secession of the Western states from the Union. He seems also to have dreamed of playing the part of Napoleon in the New World, and of establishing an empire in Texas or Mexico. He gained the support of a well-to-do Irish gentleman named Blennerhassett, who helped to gather arms and men in Ohio and Kentucky, and as a consequence ruined himself and family. Burr also tampered with other leading citizens of the West, particularly with General Wilkinson, the American commander at New Orleans, who reported his schemes to Jefferson. After some delay, the President made use of local militia, and Burr’s expedition was reduced to a fiasco, only about one hundred men descending the Mississippi with him. He finally abandoned these, and after some wandering in the almost uninhabited territory that lay to the south of Tennessee, he was captured and sent to Richmond, Virginia, for trial (1807).


290. Burr’s Trial.—Jefferson showed great interest in the case, and almost seemed pitted against Chief Justice Marshall. The latter ordered the President to appear as a witness, but the Executive very properly refused to do anything beyond sending papers. Marshall declared that an overt act of treason must be proved, but as Burr had not yet levied war against the United States or adhered to their enemies,—actions constituting treason according to the Constitution,—and as his mustering of men had not taken place in Virginia, there was little or nothing for the prosecuting attorneys to proceed on, and the case came to an abrupt close. Marshall’s decision has probably done good in making trials for treason practically unknown in the United States. But he can hardly be acquitted of having allowed his feelings against Jefferson to get the better of him. On the other hand, Jefferson had, in his easy-going way, allowed Burr to go too far before interfering with his plans. Burr himself went to England, then returned to New York, and soon passed from public notice.


291. The Impeachment of Justice Chase.—Two years previous to the miscarriage of justice in Burr’s case, another trial of a different nature had failed almost as signally. This was the trial, before the Senate, of Justice Samuel Chase of the Supreme Court. Chase was a violent Federalist, who had been impeached by the Democratic-Republican House of Representatives for partisan conduct on the bench. He was ably defended, while John Randolph, who led the prosecution, completely mismanaged his case. The result was a failure to convict (1805).


William Pitt the Younger.

292. Troubles with Great Britain and France.—More serious matters now confronted Jefferson. Since the signing of Jay’s Treaty, American shipping had flourished, owing to the fact that being a neutral nation, the United States could convey to France and Spain the produce of their West Indian colonies, the ships of the two European countries not being serviceable on account of the war with Great Britain, whose fleets swept the ocean. By 1805, however, the jealousy of British shipowners had been aroused and the Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger, applied to American vessels what was known as the “Rule of 1756.” This prevented a neutral from enjoying, in time of war, trading privileges not allowed in time of peace. British men-of-war, therefore, began to seize American ships, and the old impressment abuses were increased. Meanwhile, Jay’s Treaty expired, and a new treaty, signed by Monroe and William Pinkney, a brilliant Maryland lawyer and orator, was not honorable to us and was not even laid before the Senate. One provision of it ran, that Great Britain would not be bound by it unless the United States undertook to resist Napoleon’s Berlin Decree of November 21, 1806. This was a paper blockade of the British Isles, in retaliation for the British blockade of the Continent. In other words, Napoleon, who by that time had humbled most of the sovereigns of Europe, had declared Continental ports closed to British ships, although he had no effective means of keeping them out. Great Britain wished to force America to take sides against France. An Order in Council of November, 1807, actually authorized the seizure of any neutral vessel on a voyage to closed ports, unless it had previously touched at a British port. To this order Napoleon replied by the Milan Decree (December, 1807), authorizing the capture of any vessel that had entered a British port. Thus American neutral trade was practically an impossibility, and an important portion of our population was seriously affected.


Fulton’s Steamboat, the

293. The Embargo.—Under these harassing circumstances, Jefferson was forced to adopt a more energetic foreign policy than at all suited his pacific disposition. Diplomatic efforts were wasted on headstrong opponents, who despised a weak, young nation. So the Non-intercourse Act, forbidding the importation of goods from Great Britain or her colonies, was passed in the spring of 1806, but did not go into effect for nearly two years; by 1808 it had been determined that mere non-importation was not a sufficiently drastic remedy, and that an embargo, forbidding all American vessels to leave for foreign ports, was necessary. In the interim, relations with Great Britain had been strained to the point of breaking, through the fact that on June 27, 1807, the British ship Leopard, acting under the orders of an admiral at Halifax, fired on the American frigate Chesapeake, and took from the latter four sailors, three of whom were American citizens.[123] Jefferson at once ordered British warships out of American waters and tried to bring the impressment controversy to an issue, but the British merely disavowed the action of their admiral. This conduct, together with the Order in Council of November, 1807, precipitated the Embargo.


Robert Fulton.

294. Nature and Object of the Embargo.—The Embargo was partly intended to save the lives and property of the Americans—who were, nevertheless, willing to risk both on account of the great profits accruing from trade with Europe—by preventing ships from leaving port and running the risk of being captured by British men-of-war, or of being confiscated in Continental ports. Jefferson, however, had another object in view. He believed that both England and Europe would suffer so much from the loss of the American trade that the combatants would be forced to abandon their repressive measures against the ships of neutrals. He miscalculated the stubbornness and malignity of both parties, and both Non-intercourse and Embargo, instead of proving coercive, proved irritating and mischievous. Nevertheless, there was precedent in favor of the experiment, and from the point of view of general human welfare Jefferson was justified in trying it. From the point of view of politics, the experiment was disastrous, but the fact that he induced Congress to adopt it is a conclusive proof of Jefferson’s capacity to control men.


295. Difficulty of Enforcing the Embargo.—It proved very difficult, however, to enforce such legislation, for the Federalists made capital out of it, while Jefferson’s Southern supporters upheld it against their wills. New England ships rotted at their wharves, and in Virginia the staple tobacco remained unsold. Jefferson was overwhelmed with petitions to change his policy, but held out persistently. The British government also held to its former course and Napoleon to his. Before Jefferson’s second term had expired, it was quite clear that new measures must be tried in order to assert the nation’s dignity abroad and to secure civil peace at home. The pupil Madison, who became President in 1809, had to undo in part, at least, the work of the master.


Eli Whitney.

296. General View of Jefferson’s Administrations.—Viewed as a whole, Jefferson’s two administrations do not prove him to have been a great executive. He was a political philosopher rather than a practical statesman. He was more at home with ideas than with facts. But by his purchase of Louisiana he saved the country far more than his ineffective diplomacy and his Embargo cost it, and he proved conclusively that democracy was not contradictory to the idea of union. He proved also that the responsibilities of office are likely always to prevent a theorist from going to extremes; for, although the father of the strict constructionists of the Constitution, he left them the difficult task of explaining at least one very loose construction of his own. Perhaps at another period his weakness might not have been apparent. He was intellectually far in advance of his countrymen, and was thus an object of suspicion to many worthy citizens of a land which had then done little for the cause of letters or of science. On the other hand, he only slowly and partly outgrew the prejudices of the agricultural class to which he belonged. It was not until late in life that he showed sympathy with the manufacturing and commercial enterprise which was destined in a few years to make the country of Robert Fulton[124] and Eli Whitney[125] one of the wealthiest and most prosperous nations in the world.


297. Jefferson an Idealist.—Americans have been right in recognizing in Jefferson their main political spokesman. No other man has ever so thoroughly brought the people to his way of thinking, or so completely held his own with politicians of all degrees of ability and ambition. Congress followed his lead almost blindly, even in military matters, about which he knew little. His popularity speedily recovered from the decline it experienced during the days of the Embargo, and for nearly twenty years his home at Monticello was almost like a pilgrim’s shrine. His fame has suffered at the hands of some historians, but it is not unlikely that posterity will conclude that he was in advance not merely of his age, but of his century.

References.General Works: same as for Chapter XIII., with the addition of: Henry Adams, History of the United States (1800–1817, 9 vols.).

Special Works: J. Schouler, Thomas Jefferson (“Makers of America”); H. S. Randall, Thomas Jefferson (3 vols.); J. Parton, Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr; Henry Adams, Albert Gallatin, John Randolph (“American Statesmen”); A. B. Magruder, John Marshall (“American Statesmen”). See also T. Roosevelt, Winning of the West, Vol. IV.; and the writings of Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin. E. E. Hale’s Philip Nolan’s Friends deals with Burr’s Conspiracy, and G. W. Cable’s Grandissimes with New Orleans shortly after the American occupation.

This address is still often quoted, especially by leaders of the Democratic party, and it deserves to be carefully read by all who desire to understand the cardinal principles of Jefferson’s political philosophy. Many of its phrases have become political maxims to which members of every party would subscribe.

Born at Geneva, Switzerland, 1761; died at Astoria, Long Island, 1849. Was educated at Geneva, and came to America, 1780; settled as manufacturer in Pennsylvania in 1784; rose rapidly as leader of the Democratic-Republican party; in national House of Representatives, 1795–1801; showed great ability, especially on financial topics; was made Secretary of the Treasury by Jefferson; held the position from 1801 to 1813; was peace commissioner in negotiating Treaty of Ghent, 1813–1814; Minister to France, 1816–1823; envoy extraordinary to Great Britain in 1826; became bank president in New York City.

Born, 1755; died, 1835. The greatest of American jurists; served as soldier at Brandywine and Monmouth; contended successfully against Patrick Henry in behalf of a ratification of the Constitution in 1788; was envoy to France with Gerry and Pinckney, 1797; congressman, 1799–1800; Secretary of State, 1800–1801; Chief Justice of Supreme Court from 1801 till his death.

Yet West Point was founded in 1802.

Born in Maryland, 1779; died, 1820. Began service in the navy, 1798; distinguished himself against Tripoli in 1804; commanded the Atlantic squadron in 1812, and captured the British ship Macedonian; humbled the Barbary States in 1815; was navy commissioner from 1816 to 1820, when he was killed in a duel with Commodore Barron, who had been found by court-martial guilty of negligence in commanding the Chesapeake against the Leopard293).

The Philadelphia, commanded by Captain Bainbridge, while pursuing a frigate of the enemy, ran upon a rock off the Tripolitan coast and was captured, along with her captain and crew, November 1, 1804. Attempts to liberate the prisoners failed, and they were not released for nearly two years. But Decatur, in the ketch Intrepid, ventured one dark night into the harbor of Tripoli and destroyed the Philadelphia, under the fire of the enemy’s batteries.

Jefferson had long been friendly to France and more or less hostile to Great Britain, but when he heard that the former power had acquired Louisiana, he wrote: “The day that France takes possession of New Orleans fixes the sentence which is to restrain her forever within her low-water mark. From that moment we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation.”

Among the people of the Northern states dueling was practically put a stop to by Hamilton’s death.

The Chesapeake was taken by surprise, and Commodore Barron had no time to make an effective resistance.

Born in Pennsylvania, 1765; died, 1815. Student of portrait painting; went to England in 1786; soon began to study engineering and inventions; was in France, 1797–1804, where he invented a torpedo which he vainly tried to induce Napoleon to adopt; failed in a similar attempt in Great Britain, 1804–1806; returned to New York, 1807; devised and successfully propelled his steamboat Clermont from New York to Albany in 1807—the beginning of successful navigation by steam.

Born in Connecticut, 1765; died, 1825. Invented the cotton gin in 1793, which increased enormously the importance of slave labor by raising the cotton crop in ten years from about two hundred thousand pounds to more than forty-two million pounds a year. Also established near New Haven, Connecticut, the first arms factory in the country.


the administrations of madison, 1809–1817.


298. Madison’s Perplexities.—Just before Madison’s accession to the Presidency the Embargo was supplanted by a non-intercourse law which permitted trade with nations not controlled by France or Great Britain. This legitimate trade and the large amount of fraudulent shipping that went on brought temporary wealth to American shipowners, and there even seemed to be a prospect of a treaty with Great Britain. People began to say that Madison was a better President than his predecessor, who continued to advise him. As a matter of fact, he was a weaker man, had a poorer Cabinet, and was soon involved in greater difficulties than those encountered by Jefferson. For British statesmanship was at that time at a very low ebb; the concessions agreed to by Erskine, the British envoy, were disavowed at home, and a new envoy actually ventured to insult Madison by accusing him of deception in negotiations relating to the prospective treaty. Yet party politics were at a still lower ebb in this country, as is shown by the fact that the Federalists showered social attentions on James Jackson, the envoy who had so grossly insulted the President. Nevertheless Congress, tired of legislation that seemed to produce no effect either on England or on France, did away with non-intercourse, with the proviso that if one of the two contending powers annulled its vexatious decrees and the other did not, non-intercourse should be maintained with the nation still holding out (“Macon’s Bill,” No. 2, May 1, 1810). Napoleon took advantage of this proviso, although really showing America very little favor. He showed enough, however, to make Great Britain appear most in the wrong, and on November 1, 1810, Madison issued a proclamation declaring trade suspended with that power. This was a sorry commentary on the proclamation of the preceding April renewing trade with Great Britain; for the sole result of the diplomacy of the year had been to let loose more American ships to be captured by the British or confiscated by the French.


John C. Calhoun.

299. War Advocated.—Madison, who was prudent like Jefferson, and who was more of a student of politics than a vigorous man of affairs, did not desire war with either Great Britain or France any more than Jefferson had done, but he was forced into hostilities with the former power before the close of his first administration. The temper of the American people had been sorely tried by the Embargo and the non-intercourse policy as well as by British arrogance throughout the whole controversy. British statesmen spoke ill of Americans when they should have tried to enlist their sympathies in the war Great Britain was waging against despotism personified in Napoleon. The British were also thought to have stirred up the Western Indians, who were crushed on Tippecanoe River by General William Henry Harrison in 1811. The Western people were thus greatly embittered against Great Britain, and Henry Clay of Kentucky represented their feelings when, as Speaker of the new House of Representatives, he helped to force Madison into consenting to war. With Clay were joined many young, high-spirited men, some of whom, like John C. Calhoun[126] of South Carolina, while adhering to the Jefferson-Madison school of politics, were inclined to be impatient with their more cautious elders. It is said that they threatened Madison with loss of a second term if he would not agree to war with Great Britain.[127] Their policy eventually proved beneficial to the country, since it strengthened the national spirit and showed that the new generation contained men too strong to be bound by the traditions of the Revolutionary period; but it was tardy and lacking in cosmopolitan breadth of view.


300. Outlook for the War of 1812.—Not only was the War of 1812 a political blunder in so far as it helped Napoleon by harassing Great Britain, but also owing to the condition of America at the time of its inception. The national finances were by no means adequate to its cost, and the incompetence of Gallatin’s successor in the Treasury Department made the borrowing that had to be undertaken especially burdensome. The army, too, was small and poorly officered at the first. The volunteers were brave and in the West were very anxious to serve, but they and their leaders absurdly overrated the ease with which Canada could be conquered. Henry Clay actually boasted that his Kentucky constituents could accomplish this exploit without assistance. Besides, the political discontent of New England, where the Federalists were English sympathizers, and where much capital was invested in shipping which would be cooped up during the war, made it difficult to secure militia from the very portion of the country nearest the chief seat of operations. Volunteers were indeed obtained from New England, and after a while both officers and men made a better showing in the field. But when all is said, the land operations of the war, except in the splendid instance of the battle of New Orleans, afford little cause for patriotic gratification. A prediction to this effect might have been made about the navy, for the less than two score American vessels seemed but a bagatelle in comparison with the British navy, which contained about fifty times as many.[128] But in the end the exploits of our seamen formed almost the sole bright spot in an exceedingly gloomy period.


301. Opening of the War.—War was formally declared on June 18, 1812, the majority in neither house being overwhelming. Two days previously the obnoxious Orders in Council had been revoked. Although the news was received on this side of the ocean before hostilities had fairly begun, the government adhered to its tardy determination to fight. This course seemed justifiable since the impressment trouble and the blockade of the coasts still called for redress, and the temper of at least a part of the nation had been inflamed.


Operations in Canada,

302. Hull’s Surrender.—It was easy to perceive from the outset that the theater of the war on land would be much the same as in the French and Indian War—that is, it would stretch along our northern boundary from Maine to Lake Michigan. The main attacks by the Americans would be made through Lakes Ontario and Champlain. At first, bodies of troops were moved over the border from Detroit and Buffalo. General William Hull, the governor of Michigan Territory, who led the first advance with over two thousand troops, mainly volunteers from Ohio, was ignominiously repulsed by the Canadians and surrendered Detroit in a cowardly manner (August 16, 1812), for which he was afterward court-martialed and found guilty. Hull had issued a very boastful proclamation on his entry into Canada, and his surrender of an important fortress without firing a gun was almost unpardonable, in view of such high-flown pretensions. Altogether, the Canadians under Isaac Brock, the able governor of Upper Canada, with their allies, the Indians under Tecumseh, a famous warrior and the inveterate foe of the Americans, had outmaneuvered their opponents, and proved conclusively that the volunteers, rapidly gathering in Ohio and Kentucky, would have to be well led in order to secure any success. To get such leaders was not easy, but Madison finally selected the right man in General William Henry Harrison, the victor at Tippecanoe (§ 299). It was late in the year, however, and the country was a very difficult one to penetrate. The impatient public had therefore to wait quietly for the success that was to retrieve the early losses, among which may be mentioned the capture of Fort Dearborn, on the site of the present city of Chicago.


303. Other Defeats.—Meanwhile General Van Rensselaer, of the New York militia, had gathered about six thousand eager men, and on October 13 was forced, by the general impatience for a victory, prematurely to cross the Niagara River from Lewiston to Queenstown. Hull’s surrender had left Brock free to manage the Canadian defense. The American regulars fought well, but the militia crossed only in part, and the result was another surrender. Yet the enemy also suffered heavily, for the brave Brock fell defending the heights of Queenstown, where his tall monument may now be seen. Van Rensselaer, for his part, resigned, and was succeeded by the still less capable General Alexander Smyth, who imitated Hull in bragging and in ineffectiveness, but who dismissed his volunteers to their homes instead of surrendering them. Equally futile were the attempts to reach Canada by way of Lake Champlain; and the year would have ended in complete gloom, so far as land operations were concerned, had not the Americans, in their turn, repulsed an invading force at Ogdensburg. In the latter fight Jacob Brown, a Quaker farmer of New York, showed that he was the coming general for the war in the northeast, if that war were to be carried on seriously and not with manifestoes and ill-directed sallies of raw troops. Another soldier of merit was also discovered in the person of Lieutenant Colonel Winfield Scott, a young Virginian who fought finely at Queenstown Heights.


Captain Isaac Hull.

304. The War at Sea.—On the sea, events took a different turn from the first, although the government’s main intention was to use its few ships[129] in guarding the chief ports. On August 19, 1812, Captain Isaac Hull[130] of the frigate Constitution[131] (44 guns), which had previously been chased into Boston by a British squadron, met in the Gulf of St. Lawrence the enemy’s Guerrière (38 guns), which had made an unsavory reputation for itself by searching American vessels. The American ship was somewhat the stronger, but no one could have foreseen that she would overcome her adversary within half an hour. About two months later (October 18), in a very similar contest, the American sloop of war Wasp (18 guns), under Captain Jacob Jones, took the British brig Frolic (20 guns). In consequence of these unexpected victories Great Britain’s naval prestige was greatly shaken and American pride correspondingly stimulated. Analysis has shown that the results were mainly due to the better gunnery of the Americans. Equally fortunate for the younger nation were the fights between the frigate United States (44 guns), under Captain Decatur (§ 285, note 1), and the British frigate Macedonian (38 guns); and between the Constitution, then under Captain Bainbridge, and the British Java. The former contest took place near the Madeiras, on October 25; the latter, off the coast of Brazil, on December 29, 1812. Congress immediately authorized the building of new ships, and while the British were able to sweep American commerce from the seas, the people consoled themselves with the thought of the superb victories of their ships and of the damage American privateers were doing English shipping on every ocean and sea—even within Dublin Bay itself. At last, however, reverses came, when, in 1813, the Chesapeake[132] was captured by the British Shannon, and when our ships were blockaded in our chief harbors. But the privateers continued their exploits until they raised British rates of insurance on trading vessels to a very high percentage.

The “Constitution.”


Captain James Lawrence.

305. Victories of Perry and Harrison.—Meanwhile the war was not popular in Great Britain or in New England. The South and West still favored it, however, and Congress helped Madison by allowing him to use twenty new regiments of regulars in place of volunteers. A new Secretary of War, General Armstrong, late minister to France, took the place of Eustis, who was unfitted to cope with the difficulties of the position. But the year was to witness few signal successes beyond an important victory on Lake Erie that led to the retaking of Detroit. Captain Oliver H. Perry[133] had a flotilla constructed at Presque Isle (now Erie), and on September 10 met and defeated the British flotilla under Captain Barclay. The British had more guns, but the Americans, after Perry had been obliged to abandon his flagship, gained a complete victory through their courage and skill. Perry, who was coöperating with Harrison, wrote the latter on the back of an old letter, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.” Harrison’s army, helped by the American ships, then passed to Detroit and afterward landed in Canada, where, at the battle of the Thames River, the British, under Colonel Proctor and their Indian allies, were completely routed (October 5). Tecumseh fell in this fight, and a portion of Upper Canada passed under American control, Michigan having been, of course, regained.[134]


Captain Oliver H. Perry.

306. American Failures.—A great invasion of Canada and the seizure of Montreal had been planned for 1813, but it was partly abandoned, General Dearborn seizing only a few places, including York (now Toronto), which was unnecessarily burned. Brown, Scott, and others showed that American soldiers could be brave, but the campaign was on the whole a failure. General Wilkinson then succeeded Dearborn, but, like the latter, was too old for the work, and was besides at loggerheads with Secretary Armstrong and with his second in command, General Wade Hampton of South Carolina. An attack on Montreal or else on Kingston was planned, but Armstrong mixed matters up by assuming the command. Hampton failed to coöperate with Wilkinson, who had had a hard time descending the St. Lawrence, and the latter general was obliged to put his troops into winter quarters with nothing accomplished. Meanwhile the force on the weakened Niagara frontier had recrossed the river after burning the town of Newark. The British retaliated in kind and with their Indian allies did much damage on the American side of the river.


307. Jackson and the Indians.—While these events had been taking place in the North, the Southwest had not been quiet. British and Spanish emissaries were stirring up the Southern Indians to attack the Americans. The Creeks had also been excited by Tecumseh, who used a comet and an earthquake to work upon their superstitious fears. The savages massacred the white settlers at Fort Mims, Alabama, on August 30, 1813, slaying or roasting to death four hundred persons. Retaliation came swiftly. The Tennesseean volunteers under General Andrew Jackson invaded the Creek country, and with the help of troops from Mississippi completely defeated the Indians at the battle of the Horseshoe, or Tohopeka (March 27, 1814).


Operations in the East, 1814

308. Outlook for 1814.—The year 1814 opened gloomily in spite of Harrison’s and Perry’s victories. There was still much improvement needed in the methods of raising troops, the War Department was badly managed, and the finances were in a wretched condition. Worst of all, good leaders were lacking. Besides, the British navy was beginning to ravage the Atlantic coast, and Napoleon’s power being on the wane, the strength of the United Kingdom could be more fully employed against America. Russia, however, had proffered her good services as a mediator, and Gallatin and James A. Bayard were sent to St. Petersburg to join John Quincy Adams, minister at that court, in securing this powerful influence. The British government discouraged the Czar’s offers, but as it had great European interests to settle, it was not so much inclined to fight to a finish with the United States as it might otherwise have been.


Commodore Thomas Macdonough.

309. The Canadian Campaign of 1814.—Several incompetent generals having been got out of the way for one cause or another, the command on the Canadian frontier fell to the capable Brown. A mistake was made with regard to the scene of operations, but when the fighting began near Niagara Falls, Brown gave a good account of himself. At Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane (July 5 and 25), leaders like Winfield Scott distinguished themselves, and the American troops showed themselves the equals of British regulars, and won honor, if no substantial military gains. Commodore Thomas Macdonough[135] also repeated Perry’s exploit of destroying a British flotilla—this time off Plattsburg on Lake Champlain (September 11). The result of all this fighting was little,—each side practically holding its ground,—but the Americans gained prestige.


Operations around Washington
in 1814

310. Capture of Washington.—Meanwhile British ships ravaged the Atlantic coast, and by midsummer a large fleet under Admirals Cockburn and Cochrane was collected in Chesapeake Bay. On board was General Ross with several thousand troops. Washington, Virginia, and Maryland were evidently in danger and great efforts were made to meet the invaders—unfortunately to little purpose, on account of the incapacity of Secretary Armstrong. The British landed and began their march to Washington, easily putting the undisciplined American militia to flight at Bladensburg, Maryland (August 24). Our troops evacuated Washington, and the British entered. They retaliated for the burning of York by setting fire to the White House, the unfinished Capitol, and other buildings. It was an act of vandalism that cannot be defended; but fortunately the next city attacked repulsed the invaders courageously. This was Baltimore, before which the British troops were driven back, General Ross being slain, and from which the British fleet retired after a vain bombardment of Fort McHenry (September 12 and 13). The song of “The Star Spangled Banner,” by Francis S. Key, commemorates this American victory.


Andrew Jackson.

311. The Battle of New Orleans.—It soon became apparent that the attacks on Washington and Baltimore had been of secondary importance, and that the real object of the British fleet was to capture New Orleans, and snatch the newly acquired Louisiana from the United States. James Monroe, who had succeeded Armstrong as Secretary of War, at once called upon the ablest soldier in the Southwest, Andrew Jackson.[136] The latter gathered his forces, and although he first tried an expedition into Florida against the British and Indians, he set to work at the defenses of New Orleans in good season. The large British fleet effected a landing safely, and by December 23 the troops were only a few miles from the city. The main battle occurred on January 8, 1815, and the backwoodsmen behind their works destroyed the flower of the British army who had the hardihood to make a front attack. Sir Edward Pakenham, the British commander, was killed, after having been for days outgeneralled by Jackson; and at least two thousand veterans, many of whom had followed Wellington in the Spanish Peninsula, lay dead or wounded on the field. The American loss, on the other hand, was almost incredibly slight—about twenty men all told.


Southwestern Operations,

312. The Treaty of Ghent.—If those had been the days of the telegraph, the battle of New Orleans would not have been fought, and the American people would have had no great land victory to salve the pride that had been touched to the quick by the capture of Washington, Hull’s surrender, and other disgraceful events of the war. On December 24, 1814, American and British commissioners had signed a treaty of peace at Ghent. Adams, Gallatin, and Bayard, who were already abroad, had been joined by Henry Clay and Jonathan Russell; and the five had defended American interests very well. Gallatin was the most influential member and succeeded in curbing the zeal of Clay and Adams, who wished to press matters like the British right to navigate the Mississippi and the fisheries question, in which the people of the West and of New England took a great interest. Curiously enough, the treaty did not touch the impressment abuse, or the right of searching vessels, for the sake of which, in the main, the war had been waged. Still, after her naval victories, America was not likely to suffer in the future from such abuses. Each side restored the territory of the other that it occupied, and both felt relieved that the anomalous war was over.


313. Political Events.—Political events in Madison’s second administration were naturally overshadowed by the war or else connected with it. As we have seen, the finances were badly managed, nor were the affairs of the War Department on a better footing. Congress was scarcely more efficient, especially when its Speaker, Henry Clay, was absent with the commissioners at Ghent. But the disaffection of the New England Federalists was the most serious element in the political problem. With the waning of their party and the assured success of the Democratic-Republicans, they naturally grew more rancorous. They coquetted with the British before and during the war, and they had little or no sympathy with the idea that the United States was a nation. In the debate in 1811 on the admission of Louisiana as a state, one of their leaders, Josiah Quincy of Massachusetts, actually declared that the passage of the bill would be a virtual dissolution of the Union, and that it would be the duty of some of the states, “to prepare for a separation amicably” if they could, “violently if they must.”


314. Reasons for New England’s Attitude.—This attitude seems at first wholly indefensible, but we must remember both at this juncture and in dealing later with the secession of the South, that the idea of national unison was one of very slow growth, and that threats of secession or of violent resistance to the Union had been heard already from Southern, Western, and Middle states. States were still jealous of their prestige, and the language of the Constitution lent itself to interpretations that reduced the power of the nation to a minimum. Besides, New England had suffered greatly from the enforced idleness of its shipping during the Embargo and from the captures made by the British. Consequently, just as men are always inclined to do, they held the national government responsible for matters that often lay beyond its control. Their pro-British sympathies, although certainly carried beyond the bounds of decency, may be partly extenuated for these reasons. When they went farther, and refused to put the state militia at the service of the Union, they took a dangerous step, but one not entirely indefensible on strict constructionist grounds. It was a sure precursor, however, of more determined and less defensible opposition.


315. The Hartford Convention.—Success in state elections gave the political solidarity that was needed, and the increasing pressure of hostilities in the year 1814 gave the needed stimulus, for effective opposition to the war on the part of New England. After speeches and resolutions as strenuous as those that nerved Virginia and Kentucky to their resistance of the Alien and Sedition laws, passed half a generation before by the Federalists themselves, a call was issued by Massachusetts for a convention of the New England States. This met at Hartford, Connecticut, on December 15, 1814. After a few weeks of secret debate its members issued a remarkable report. This document asserted the doctrine of states’ rights in its most naked form, suggested amendments to the Constitution of the United States looking to the protection of the interests of minorities, and demanded for the states the right to claim the customs duties collected within their own borders. This last provision would have been of itself enough to destroy the power of the Union, but fortunately there was no need even to discuss it. The commissioners sent to Washington to propose it to Congress found that peace had been declared and that their chief ground of grievance had been removed. They had, therefore, nothing to do but to hasten home in chagrin. The Federalist party did not survive their last attack upon the general government, and for several years after 1815 there was practically only one party in the country. This fact is not surprising when we remember that accession to power had rendered the leading Republicans as desirous of maintaining a fairly strong government as the moderate Federalists were.


316. Some Results of the War.—With the decline of Federalism came a natural increase of national democratic spirit and a lessening of the dependence on either Great Britain or France, which, as we have before seen, had characterized the generation that grew up just after the Revolution. This was a clear gain from the war. On the other hand, the interests of the sections began more sharply to diverge. The North, during the trouble with England, had taken to manufacturing, and now began to demand a really protective tariff for its “infant industries.” This policy, though encouraged by the West for the sake of certain products like hemp, was soon seen to bear hard on the South. Previous legislation on the subject (§ 266) had paved the way for an effective tariff, and the influx of British goods brought into the country after the close of the war showed that the newly developed industries, especially that of cotton manufacture, which had increased greatly since 1810, would find it hard to subsist without support. So the tariff act of 1816 was passed, in spite of the opposition of Daniel Webster, who represented New England shipping interests, and of John Randolph, who represented the agricultural South and the stricter forms of Republicanism. The rate (about twenty-five per cent), placed on imported cotton and woolen goods, was found practically prohibitive by Southern planters, who needed coarse clothes for their slaves. Thus the Southerners began to be alienated from the Democratic-Republican party, although not a few of them helped to pass the act of 1816. Among these was John C. Calhoun, whose leanings toward a strong government were still pronounced.


317. The National Bank and Internal Improvements.—The year 1816 also saw the passage of another financial measure destined to cause division later. This was the reëstablishment of a national bank, Hamilton’s bank (§ 266) having failed to secure a second charter in 1811. The financial burdens of the war had fallen in consequence upon the state banks, which had not been managed well. Hence the new bank scheme was favored even by cautious Republicans like Madison. Its establishment for twenty years, with a largely increased capital, enabled the country practically to resume a specie basis in less than a year.[137] A fund of a million and a half dollars was paid by it to the government for the privileges granted by the charter, and the problem how to employ this sum to the best advantage brought forward still another question involving conflicting interests.


318. The Question of Internal Improvements.—At first the individual states had attended to their internal needs and had spent considerable sums, especially in improving their water-ways, but a great scheme for a system of national canals had, before the war, attracted leading Republicans. Now Calhoun proposed to use for a similar purpose the money turned in by the bank. His bill passed Congress, but Madison vetoed it, on the ground that although such improvements were desirable, a specific amendment to the Constitution was needed if the general government was to undertake them.


319. The Succession of Monroe.—This veto of Madison’s, which led the people of New York, in default of national aid, to construct their own Erie Canal, through which New York City was enabled soon to outstrip its rivals,[138] was one of his last official acts and showed that he was still faithful to the political creed of Jefferson. He was shortly after (March 4, 1817) succeeded by his Secretary of State, James Monroe, who had proved his claim to the succession by developing the nationalistic ideas that had made Jefferson and Madison safe leaders in a very critical period. Monroe had also rendered very efficient service as temporary Secretary of War, and had endeared himself to the people of every section.

References.General Works: same as for Chapter XIII.

Special Works: same in the main as for Chapter XV., with the addition of: Henry Adams, History of the United States (1800–1817, 9 vols.); D. C. Gilman, James Monroe (“American Statesmen”); W. G. Sumner, Andrew Jackson (“American Statesmen”); C. Schurz, Henry Clay (2 vols. “American Statesmen”); B. J. Lossing, Field Book of the War of 1812; C. J. Ingersoll, Historical Sketch of the Second War; T. Roosevelt, Naval War of 1812; J. Fenimore Cooper, History of the Navy of the United States, chaps. xiii.–xlix.; E. S. Maclay, History of the United States Navy, Vol. I., 305-577; H. C. Adams, Public Debts, Part II., chap. i.; H. C. Lodge, George Cabot, chaps. x.–xiii.

Born, 1782; died, 1850. Graduated at Yale, and early developed remarkable powers; entered House of Representatives in 1811; was Secretary of War during Monroe’s administrations; was Vice President, 1825–1832, when in consequence of radical differences with Jackson, he resigned his position and entered the Senate, where his ability at once made him a leader of the “States’ Rights” party; was Secretary of State under Tyler in 1844–1845; reëntered the Senate in 1845, where he held the leadership of the Southern Democrats till his death.

This statement, put thus baldly, is probably an exaggeration, but it is certain that strong pressure was brought to bear on Madison, and that he finally yielded to the “War Hawks,” as the party opposed to peace was styled.

As in the later years of the Revolutionary War, it was fortunate that British ships were so fully occupied on the other side of the Atlantic.

There were so few that there were not enough to go the round of the captains. So the officers took turns in commanding, in order that each might get a chance to distinguish himself.

Born in Connecticut, 1773; died, 1843. Served in merchant marine from 1784 to 1798, when he entered the navy; engaged in the Barbary War in command of the Argus; commissioned captain in 1806; given command of the Constitution in 1807; won great distinction by capturing the Guerrière with a loss of fourteen killed and wounded, while the enemy lost seventy-nine; commanded the Pacific and Mediterranean squadrons and served on the naval board at Washington.

See O. W. Holmes’s Old Ironsides.

Her brave commander, Captain Lawrence, was killed. The contest was practically a sea duel in answer to a challenge. The British were greatly elated over their victory. Lawrence was born in 1781, at Burlington, N. J. He was engaged in the Barbary War, having command of the Argus, Vixen, and Wasp; while commanding the Hornet, in 1813, captured the British brig Peacock, with a loss of only one killed and two wounded; while commanding the Chesapeake, was defeated by the Shannon, in consequence of having a new and undisciplined crew; was mortally wounded, and gave as his last injunction, “Don’t give up the ship.”

Born in Rhode Island, 1785; died, 1819. Entered the navy in 1799 as midshipman; was in the war against Tripoli, and later became a careful student of gunnery; was appointed to command on Lake Erie, 1813; showed extraordinary energy and skill in building a fleet and in collecting and drilling his crews; got together nine rude vessels and captured all six British vessels, in the battle of Lake Erie, September 10, 1813; coöperated in Battle of the Thames, and served in defense of Baltimore.

Several months previously the Americans had suffered a severe loss at the river Raisin, seven hundred troops under General Winchester of Tennessee having been overpowered and forced to surrender by Proctor and his Indians, and a part of them afterward basely burned and scalped by the savages. In consequence the name of Proctor was held in great abhorrence.

Born in Delaware, 1783; died, 1825. Served against Tripoli; gained celebrated victory over British Commodore Downie at Plattsburg, 1814, the British having 16 vessels and 92 guns, the Americans 14 vessels and 86 guns, the British losing 300 men besides prisoners, the Americans 200.

Born on border of North and South Carolina, March 15, 1767; died at the Hermitage, near Nashville, Tennessee, June 8, 1845. Scantily educated; became a lawyer in Tennessee, 1788; rose in his profession and in politics; elected congressman in 1796; senator, 1797–1798; judge in Supreme Court of Tennessee, 1798–1804; defeated Indians at Tohopeka, 1814; won battle of New Orleans, 1815; put down Seminoles in Florida, 1818; governor of Florida, 1821; elected United States senator, 1823; candidate for Presidency, 1824; President, 1829–1837; lived in retirement at the Hermitage, 1837–1845.

The bank was soon mismanaged and was with great difficulty set straight. The numerous state banks continued to be badly managed also, and the years 1817–1820 were a period of great financial stringency.

In the time of the Revolutionary War and for some years later, New York City was not larger than Boston or Newport.


the administrations of monroe, 1817–1825.


320. Monroe’s Counselors.—Monroe[139] was fortunate not only in having to preside over a united people, but in being able to secure good advisers. For Secretary of State he chose John Quincy Adams, son of the former President and a diplomatist of tried ability, who had done good work for the country as Minister to Russia and commissioner at Ghent (§ 312). The fact that the son of the great Federalist leader should be serving in the Cabinet of a Republican President was a signal proof of the utter demoralization of the old Federalist party. In the Treasury, Monroe placed William H. Crawford of Georgia, an able though rather intriguing man whose subsequent defeat for the Presidency and withdrawal from national life caused regret to many people. Crawford was more of a politician than a statesman, and his success showed that public leaders were undergoing a change of type. The Cabinet was made preponderatingly Southern by the appointment of Calhoun as Secretary of War and of William Wirt as Attorney-General. Its strength, however, was not decreased, for both made excellent officials, although Wirt was more an advocate and literary man than a statesman.


James Monroe.

321. The Era of Good Feeling.—Monroe’s name is chiefly connected to-day with matters of foreign policy, and his administrations have been termed “The Era of Good Feeling,” because domestic affairs wore on the whole so quiet an aspect. Yet, as we shall soon see, the debates on the subject of slavery connected with the admission of Missouri as a state showed that the country was in reality far from united; and the tariff legislation of 1824 brought out the fact still more clearly in a few years. Harmony was also far from the minds of the politicians, however united politically the people might appear to be. Intrigues for the succession to the Presidency occupied the leading statesmen, and in the combinations formed by them a careful observer might have perceived the beginnings of a division into two parties not radically dissimilar to the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans of the preceding generation.


322. The Character of Monroe as President.—Monroe has generally been regarded as the weakest of the early Presidents, although his popularity was widespread. This view is plausible, but hardly just. He certainly behaved with great dignity toward the intriguing politicians who were aiming to succeed him; he showed discretion in adopting from his advisers the foreign policy that bears his name; and he preserved a strict impartiality and adherence to the cause of the Union in the sectional disputes that disturbed his administrations. He was not a commanding man, yet he deserves to be remembered as a statesman who outgrew early rashness, and he was fully entitled to the confidence given him by the masses. For his second term (1821–1825), indeed, he had no opposition. But a solitary vote was cast against him, in order, as the story goes, that Washington should be the only President unanimously chosen.


323. The Oregon Region.—Two boundary disputes with Great Britain and Spain early occupied the attention of Monroe and his advisers. The first was mainly concerned with the so-called Oregon region beyond the Rockies, drained by the Columbia River, which the United States claimed through the discovery of this great stream by Captain Robert Gray in 1792, and through explorations made by Lewis and Clark (§ 287), whom Jefferson had sent out soon after the purchase of Louisiana (1805). In this region the British Hudson Bay Company had, however, established trading posts, and Monroe found that the best thing he could do was to agree upon the forty-ninth parallel as a northern boundary as far as the Rockies and upon joint occupancy for ten years of the disputed territory beyond.


324. The Acquisition of Florida.—Diplomacy with Spain was more definitely successful. Ever since the purchase of Louisiana the United States had claimed that it was entitled to the strip of land along the Gulf known as West Florida; but Spain had refused to admit this, or to sell the territory, in spite of persistent offers to purchase made by Jefferson. In 1810 Madison took possession of the region by proclamation, although it now seems certain that the nation had better claims on Texas. His action, and the invasion of Florida by General Andrew Jackson while he was in pursuit of Indians convinced Spain, however, that she would do well to sell while she could the outlying peninsula of East Florida. Accordingly, on February 22, 1819, Adams negotiated a treaty by which the Floridas were ceded,[140] and the western boundary of Louisiana was settled along the Sabine, Red, and Arkansas rivers to the forty-second parallel, and then along that to the Pacific. This treaty strengthened American claims to the Oregon region, and also helped to settle various Indian and slave troubles connected with East Florida, which had served as a place of refuge for runaway negroes and other bad characters. So much disturbance had indeed been caused by these marauders and by the Seminole Indians, that in 1818 General Andrew Jackson had had to invade Florida, and had actually taken two towns and done other rather high-handed acts which nearly led to his being court-martialed.[141] Spain for two years delayed ratifying the treaty, but finally yielded to the inevitable.


325. The Occasion of the Monroe Doctrine.—A few years later relations with Spain again became important. Revolutionary principles had spread in the Spanish colonies to the south, and by 1822 Spain had lost all her provinces on the mainland. But the so-called “Holy Alliance,” formed by the principal sovereigns of continental Europe after the fall of Napoleon, had for its chief object the repression of revolutionary doctrines and outbreaks, and it seemed not unlikely that a concerted effort might be made by Europe, not to restore her colonies to Spain, but to distribute them among the great powers. This was naturally not to the liking of a people who had themselves revolted, nor was Great Britain anxious to allow the Alliance to gain too much headway. Besides, Russia was endeavoring to establish a colony on the North Pacific, and she and other powers might easily find pretexts to seize upon territory nearer to the United States—perhaps upon California. Hence, while overtures for a joint protest, made by the British statesman, George Canning, to our Minister to England, Richard Rush, were declined, the administration soon found it necessary to take a stand in the matter.


326. The Monroe Doctrine.—Accordingly, Monroe sent in a message to Congress in December, 1823, in which he outlined the policy since known as the “Monroe Doctrine.” This doctrine was none the less important from the fact that it was addressed to Congress instead of to the European powers. Its gist was contained in two assertions: first, that the American continents were not henceforth to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European power; second, that efforts to coerce the newly established governments would be regarded as proofs of “an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.” These firm utterances, for which Monroe was indebted chiefly to John Quincy Adams, but also to the policy of Washington and other statesmen and to the advice of Jefferson, put an end to all fear of European aggression and rendered Russia reasonable with regard to Alaska. The policy thus outlined has since been effectively maintained, and it may now be regarded as beyond the reach of party action. In fact, it has been extended so as to include more of a guardianship over other American powers than was contemplated by Monroe. It is plain from John Quincy Adams’s attitude in the matter of the Panama Congress (§ 337), that the original “Doctrine” contemplated that each power should guard by its own means against European aggressions.


Areas of Freedom and Slavery
as established by the Missouri Compromise of 1820

327. The Slavery Question.—Turning now to domestic matters, we find that during Monroe’s two terms, Chief Justice Marshall delivered many of his most celebrated opinions restraining the powers of the states in favor of the general government. But there was one subject which not even a Marshall could have handled effectively—this was slavery. Slavery had occupied the attention of the first Congress, which had been petitioned by anti-slavery societies to abate the evils of the system. In 1793 an act for restoring slaves who had fled from one state to another was passed. The slave trade had been prohibited in 1808, as soon as the Constitution allowed, and a great effort had been made by the American Colonization Society in 1816, to begin the work of exporting the negroes to Africa; but the invention of the cotton gin, in 1793, had rendered slavery too profitable to the far Southern states to make it probable that they would peaceably consent to the abolishment of the institution. On the other hand, the number of people who thought slavery morally wrong had increased in the North and Northwest, and the way in which new slaveholding and non-slaveholding states had been admitted into the Union by pairs, so as not to disturb the balance of power in the Senate, showed that many Southerners were alive to the dangers of the situation. Yet, after all, so great was the general desire for internal harmony that most persons were startled when the debates concerning the admission of Missouri revealed the fact that the existence of slavery was a menace to the Union.


328. The Missouri Controversy.—The inevitable struggle between slavery and freedom was precipitated by the endeavor to bring in Arkansas as a territory and Missouri as a state. Both were to be carved out of that part of the Louisiana Cession in which slavery had already gained a footing. Northern members of Congress objected to the spread of the institution into the vast territory still to be occupied, while Southern members felt that any limitation of slavery was an infringement on their property rights. If a man could carry his other chattels when he removed to the new region, why, they asked, could he not carry those human chattels known as slaves. Finally Arkansas was organized without mention of slavery, but a stand was made on Missouri. James Tallmadge, a New York representative, offered an amendment to the act admitting Missouri, to the effect that further introduction of slaves into the proposed state should be prohibited, and that the children of slaves born after the state’s admission to the Union should be considered free at the age of twenty-five. The Senate refusing to concur, the matter went over.


329. The First Missouri Compromise.—The close of the year 1819 saw a renewal of the contest in the new Congress, which assembled after the matter had been much discussed in state legislatures and throughout the country. Alabama was admitted to balance Illinois; then bills passed the House admitting Maine[142] and Missouri, but with the anti-slavery proviso made applicable to the latter. The Senate would admit Maine only if Missouri were admitted as a slave state. The House refused to yield, but finally a compromise was effected. A line was drawn across the Louisiana Territory at 36° 30′, i.e. along the northern boundary of Arkansas, and it was agreed that north of this line slavery should not exist save in Missouri. This famous arrangement, which went into effect in March, 1820, became known as the “Missouri Compromise” and was effective until new territory was added to the Union as a result of the Mexican War.


Henry Clay (1832).

330. The Second Missouri Compromise.—Missouri was not, indeed, admitted until 1821, on account of a provision in its Constitution against allowing free colored men to enter its borders. This obstacle was overcome by the address and dexterity of Henry Clay[143] who, as a Virginian by birth and a Kentuckian by residence, was in every way admirably suited to act as mediator between the two sections. He did not like slavery, and had been president of the Colonization Society; but he understood how thoroughly in earnest the Southern men were to defend the institution. He used all the tact and personal charm for which he was conspicuous among his contemporaries, and succeeded in making the people of Missouri agree not to deprive citizens of other states of their rights.


John Randolph.

331. General View of the Compromises.—The Second Compromise was distinctly ambiguous and meant little; the First was a sacrifice of principle which, however, was regarded as necessary at the time. Both sides were in earnest, and the extreme adherents of each stood out to the end for their respective principles. On the whole, the responsibility for the settlement rested largely on the moderate Southerners and on their Northern and Western sympathizers, who were very influential in some states,—for example, in Illinois. Few men saw with John Randolph[144] that the day of settlement was only postponed. Whether it would have been best to fight the question out then and there, will always be a mooted point. Compromise on matters of principle is incapable of satisfying men’s consciences for long; but it is equally true that principles cannot be uncompromisingly maintained with success at all times and seasons. Fighting unyieldingly for them at the wrong time may postpone their final triumph indefinitely. Hence it was, perhaps, best that the forces of freedom were given time to grow strong and that the Union was not hazarded at so early a juncture.


332. Political Factions and the Tariff of 1824.—The fight over Missouri was not the only indication that the Era of Good Feeling was to be of short duration. Politics throughout the country were becoming personal in character and therefore more or less petty. The influence of the Revolutionary statesmen was waning, in spite of the prestige of survivors like John Adams and Jefferson. The right to vote no longer depended in the main upon the possession of property, as had been the case when the Union was formed, but was being extended to all male citizens of the age of twenty-one. This extension of the franchise was largely due to the example set by the new Western states, which were naturally far more democratic than the older commonwealths. As a result, political tricksters were fast controlling the vote of the masses. Offices were being given for political services, and congressional caucuses and state cliques were dictating nominations. The nominating convention, with its opportunities for “wire-pulling” and its aptitude for selecting compromise candidates, was also coming into vogue in state politics, and political clubs, like the “Tammany Society” of New York, were beginning their sinister work. Under these circumstances it is no wonder that, as the tariff of 1816 was not sufficient for their purposes, the manufacturers of the Middle states and New England should have endeavored to obtain legislation of a more decidedly protective character. Aided by the West, which believed with Clay in creating “a home market” and thus adhering to a truly “American policy,” they succeeded, in 1824, against the wishes of the South, in passing a tariff act with higher duties, especially on wool, woolens, cotton goods, iron, and hemp. They had nearly succeeded in 1820 in carrying their point. Now, on the eve of an election, the politicians who were supporting the various Presidential candidates were afraid to risk votes by opposing such strong financial interests, and three sections[145] were in any case stronger than one. But the passage of such an act under such circumstances was sure to give trouble, for although in theory designed for the good of the nation, protection really involved financial loss to one section, the South, which, as a whole, did not yet realize the fact, but was beginning to do so.


John Quincy Adams.

333. The Presidential Election of 1824.—Meanwhile, the choice of Monroe’s successor seemed more important than the tariff. Each of the candidates was a Democratic-Republican, a fact which perhaps made their struggle all the fiercer. John Quincy Adams,[146] as Secretary of State, had precedents in his favor,—Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe having served in that capacity,—and he had also the support of New England; but his lack of magnetism counted greatly against him. Calhoun, who was still strong in the North on account of his nationalistic views, which, however, he was fast abandoning, soon contented himself with receiving assurance of the Vice Presidency. Crawford, whose health was very poor at the time, was nominated by the regular party caucus of congressmen; but as caucus nominations had grown in disfavor, this fact hurt his chances. Clay had the support of the West, and was popular elsewhere. Andrew Jackson, then a senator, was popular on account of his military record, represented the democratic masses more nearly than any other candidate, and had astute political managers. At the election of 1824, Jackson led with ninety-nine electoral votes; Adams had eighty-four; Crawford, forty-one; and Clay, thirty-seven. The election thus went to the House of Representatives, which had to choose from the three highest names.


334. Choice of John Quincy Adams.—In February, 1825, the House, voting by states, chose Adams, for whom, as the best fitted of the candidates, Clay had used his influence. As Adams subsequently made Clay Secretary of State, a corrupt bargain between them was charged, but upon no real grounds. Some of Jackson’s friends claimed that, as he had received most votes, the House should have respected the popular will and chosen him; yet this was equivalent to maintaining that the Constitution, which had left the House of Representatives full liberty in the matter, had not been properly framed. But, although there was no good reason for the discontent expressed, it remained clear that the Era of Good Feeling was over, and that Adams would find little comfort in the high office he had attained.[147]

References.General Works: same as for Chapter XIII.

Special Works: same as for Chapter XVI. (see also Chapter XV.), with the addition of: H. C. Lodge, Daniel Webster (“American Statesmen”); H. Von Holst, John C. Calhoun (“American Statesmen”); J. T. Morse, John Quincy Adams (“American Statesmen”); T. H. Benton, Thirty Years View (2 vols.). See also the writings of Monroe and Clay, and of the three statesmen named above, especially J. Q. Adams’s Diary, as well as A. S. Bolles’s, Financial History of the United States; F. W. Taussig’s, Tariff History of the United States.

Born, 1758; died, 1831. Left William and Mary College in 1776 to enter the army; fought at Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth; member of the Virginia Assembly in 1782, and a chosen member of the Continental Congress; opposed the ratification of the Constitution by Virginia in 1788; United States senator, 1790–1794; envoy to France, 1794–1796; governor of Virginia, 1799–1802; went a second time as envoy to France, 1802–1803; Minister to London, 1803–1807; Secretary of State, 1811–1817; President, 1817–1825.

The United States in return agreed to assume claims against Spain held by American citizens amounting to five million dollars.

Among other things, he caused two British subjects, who had stirred up the Indians, to be hanged, and he got into quite a heated controversy with the governor of Georgia. As a matter of fact, he grossly exceeded his instructions, and Calhoun was technically right when he proposed the court-martial. Monroe and Adams, however, knew that Jackson had acted in what he believed to be his country’s interest, and they shielded him. It was many years before Jackson learned who it was that had proposed to court-martial him. When he found out, a breach with Calhoun followed, which had, as we shall see, important political results.

Maine up to this time had been a district of Massachusetts.

Born in Virginia, 1777; died, 1852. Moved to Kentucky, 1797; in rapid succession was member of the Kentucky legislature, the House of Representatives, and the United States Senate; Speaker of the House, 1811–1814; leader of the war party against Great Britain, and champion of internal improvements; one of the envoys to Ghent, 1814; Speaker of House, 1815–1821, also from 1823–1825; ardently advocated the tariff of 1824; Secretary of State, 1825—1829; senator from Kentucky, 1832–1842 and 1849–1852: candidate for President, 1824, 1831, and 1844; was the great representative of the National Whig party of his time, and the most powerful advocate of what was called the American System of Protection.

Born in Virginia, 1773; died, 1833. Studied at Princeton and Columbia; entered House of Representatives in 1799; soon became a leader among the Democratic-Republicans; was a champion of strict construction of the Constitution, and won great distinction as the most satirical speaker ever heard in Congress; was United States senator, 1825 to 1827, when he invented the term, “doughface,” as applied to Northern sympathizers with slavery; was sent as Minister to Russia by Jackson in 1830, but he disliked the climate and returned; reëlected to Congress, 1832. Emancipated his slaves by his will.

New England was not yet unanimous in supporting protection, but soon became so.

Born in 1767; died, 1848. Taken to the University of Leyden early in life, and at fourteen was secretary to the Minister to Russia; graduated at Harvard, 1788; admitted to the bar, 1791; Minister to Holland, 1794–1797; to Prussia, 1797–1801; United States senator, 1803–1808; Minister to Russia, 1809–1814; Minister to England, 1814–1817; Secretary of State, 1817–1825; elected President by House of Representatives in 1825; reëntered House of Representatives, 1831, where he continued till his death, a model legislator in every department of public business. His diary, twelve volumes of which have been published, is a mine of valuable information.

It should be noted that in 1824 Lafayette made a triumphal tour of the country as the guest of the nation. The reception given him is said to have made even the Presidential campaign seem of secondary interest.

United States in 1825–1830

United States in 1825–1830

OF TERRITORY, 1825–1850.

the administration of john quincy adams, 1825—1829.


335. Character of Adams’s Administration.—Adams was a statesman of great ability and experience and of high integrity, but he represented ideas of strong government not pleasing to the masses. He seemed to be a Federalist veneered with Democracy. He did not have the faculty of winning and holding friends. He could not be easy in his manners, and, on the other hand, his dignity lacked grace. Besides, his election had been disputed, his opponents were factious, and events favored him almost as little as they had done his father. The strongest man in his Cabinet, Clay, was really a source of weakness to him, for Jackson’s friends continued to pretend to believe in the corrupt bargain.[148] Adams’s administration was, therefore, on the whole, a failure.


336. Foreign Affairs.—Even in foreign affairs, where, being a trained diplomatist, he had been previously successful, things went against Adams. He secured a number of good commercial treaties, but lost the important trade with the British West Indian ports through the failure to comply in time with certain demands of Great Britain. Perhaps if he had used the tact afterward displayed by Jackson, he would have secured the trade without trouble. But, as it was, the fault lay mainly with Congress, which took delight in humiliating the President.


337. The Panama Congress.—Adams fared as badly or worse when he indorsed the scheme of General Bolivar, the South American patriot hero, for holding at Panama a convention, or congress, of all the American republics. Both Adams and Clay, the latter of whom had long taken interest in South American affairs, believed that through such a congress the influence of the United States would be extended and the Monroe Doctrine be more firmly established. But although commissioners were finally sent to Panama, they arrived too late to participate in the conference, owing to the protracted debates in Congress on the propriety of sending them. Although Adams’s opponents would under any circumstances have delighted to harass him, these debates were mainly due to the fact that Hayti, a republic of revolted negro slaves, was to be represented at Panama. Southern congressmen disliked the social and political recognition involved, and feared that the subject of slavery might come up for discussion. As a matter of course, Adams’s opponents made him bear the brunt of the fiasco.


338. Internal Improvements.—In domestic affairs the President’s policy was still more unsuccessful. In his tactless way he favored internal improvements to an extent unwarranted at the time. He knew of the general prejudice against the government’s undertaking what the states preferred to do themselves, and he should have known also that the vetoes of his two predecessors had carried great weight. Besides, it was almost amusing to counsel the American people, as he did, to build observatories, when they were more interested in finances, public and private, than in astronomy. Some money had indeed been spent on improvements, especially upon the Cumberland Road, a highway running through Maryland, West Virginia, and Ohio, and designed to connect East and West. More money was spent during Adams’s term; but much opposition was aroused, particularly in the South, even Calhoun being now dubious of the constitutionality of such expenditure of the public funds.


339. Georgia and the Indians.—Still more humiliating than anything described yet was Adams’s failure to protect from the aggressions of the governor and legislature of Georgia, the Creeks and Cherokees, who lived in a half-civilized condition within the boundaries of that state. Both tribes had treaty relations with the United States, and neither owed allegiance to Georgia. Yet the state proceeded to survey the lands of the Creeks under a treaty of 1825, before the general government had had time to investigate the matter. When Adams interfered, feeling that the Indians were being imposed upon, Governor Troup used imprudent language, which he reiterated in 1827 under similar circumstances. On the latter occasion he actually called out state militia to meet the United States troops. This was pushing the doctrine of state sovereignty to a very dangerous extreme. As the President got little support from Congress, he had to brook the insult in spite of a splendid speech in his behalf by Daniel Webster. A few years later, as we shall soon see, another state, South Carolina, stood out against another President, Andrew Jackson, with far less impunity, Jackson being a more commanding man than Adams, and his opponents less determined. It must be remembered, too, that although the rash conduct of Georgia’s legislature and governor deserves partial censure, the people of the state were acting but naturally, when they endeavored to supplant by white settlers the Indians within their borders. An Indian state within a commonwealth was not to be tolerated, and the United States had in 1802 promised to get the Indians away as soon as possible.


340. The Tariff of 1828.—Thus far Adams’s conduct had been above reproach, however much he had failed in carrying out his various policies. It is less easy to defend his course in not vetoing the tariff bill of 1828—known in history as the “Tariff of Abominations.” It is natural that men who have once tasted the bounty of government should desire more of it; hence we are not surprised at finding the manufacturers of the country soon demanding more protection. The most clamorous advocates of higher duties were the growers and manufacturers of wool, since English woolens were again being sold in American markets. A bill for the aid of the manufacturers of woolens was defeated in 1827 only by the vote of Vice President Calhoun, who again showed the growth of his anti-protection views. Then followed a convention of protectionists at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which advocated very high duties (1827). The adherents of Jackson, whose candidacy was kept shrewdly before the public throughout Adams’s term, now conceived a very subtle plan for helping their hero and still further discrediting Adams. They proposed to levy exorbitant duties on raw products,—a policy which would secure the favor of the Western farmers and sheep-raisers, but would outrage the New England manufacturers. The latter, it was thought, would then join the Southerners in defeating the bill and would owe no gratitude to Adams. Jackson would in consequence keep his Southern votes, yet would also seem friendly to the West and to the protectionists generally. The schemes of Jackson’s partisans to increase his chances of election were unnecessary, since he was already a sufficiently popular candidate. The bill actually passed laid high duties which protected both growers of raw products[149] and manufacturers. Although the gains of the manufacturers were thus neutralized, they thought it best to take their chances under the increased duties. Accordingly the congressmen who represented them voted for the bill, and Adams signed it May 24, 1828. The South was greatly outraged in consequence, although some of her own leaders had with sinister purpose forced the rates up.


341. South Carolina’s Discontent.—South Carolina was especially excited. Her feelings and ideas were well expressed in a document—the celebrated “Exposition and Protest”—drawn up by Calhoun. In this manifesto the Vice President, following the lead of his predecessor Jefferson, pushed the doctrine of state protest, as outlined in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, to the extreme of a separate state veto and nullification of an obnoxious law (§ 279). He went farther than Jefferson, however, his views being derived partly from his own philosophical speculations, partly from the teachings of John Randolph and of other Southern leaders. The consequences of the adoption of his theory were plainly very dangerous, but matters stood still for a while, since all parties were waiting to see what stand the new administration to be inaugurated in 1829 would take with regard to the tariff.


342. Election of 1828.—As might have been foreseen, Adams was defeated in the election of 1828. He had come nearer success than was expected; for the votes of New York and Pennsylvania would have turned the scale. But his opponents, with their scandalous stories, their unnecessary congressional investigations, their general unscrupulousness, had been too much for him. Clay had not been efficient in directing the campaign; while Jackson had secured in his favor what he had not had in the campaign of 1824,—the support of the skillful group of New York politicians known as the “Albany Regency,” at the head of which was the astute Martin Van Buren. Besides, Jackson’s views on disputed questions were a mystery, so that he could be claimed by any faction, while his sympathies and qualities were plainly democratic and thus acceptable to the masses. On the other hand, Adams’s views were so pronounced that he was sure to alienate votes, and his sympathies and qualities were plainly aristocratic.[150] Finally, Jackson was a typical Westerner, and the West then held the balance of power. It is no wonder, therefore, that in the popular vote he distanced his rival.

References.General Works: W. Macdonald, Select Documents of United States History, 1776–1781; J. Schouler, History of the United States (6 vols.); J. Winsor, The Narrative and Critical History of America (8 vols.); G. Tucker, The History of the United States (4 vols., Winsor and Tucker extend to 1840); H. Von Holst, The Constitutional History of the United States (8 vols.); Bryant and Gay, A Popular History of the United States (4 vols.); T. H. Benton, Thirty Years’ View (2 vols.); E. Ingle, Southern Side Lights; Woodrow Wilson, Division and Reunion (“Epochs of American History”).

Special Works: same as for Chapter XVII.

John Randolph, probably the most venomously personal debater Congress has ever had among its members, gave immortality to the charge against Adams and Clay by likening the pair to two unsavory characters in Fielding’s novel, Tom Jones. He referred to the “coalition of Blifil and Black George, a combination, unheard of until now, of the Puritan and the blackleg.” The taunt against Clay expressed in the last word was based upon that statesman’s rather loose habits, which were only too characteristic of the public men of the period. The fact that Randolph and Clay fought a bloodless duel over this matter, reminds us of the extent to which manners have changed within three quarters of a century.

For example, the duty on hemp was raised from $35 to $60 per ton.

In these respects he much resembles the Ex-President, his father, who, curiously and appropriately enough, died within a few hours of his old friend and rival, Jefferson, on the fiftieth anniversary of the day they had helped to render famous, July 4, 1826.


the jacksonian epoch, 1829–1837.


343. The Meaning of Jackson’s Election.—Andrew Jackson was the first man of plain birth and breeding to sit in the White House. Born on the border between the two Carolinas, he had early made his way to Tennessee and there had risen to leadership through his strength of character and his possession of all the manly qualities most held in repute by the pioneer settlers. The democratic voters gave him whatever political or military offices he wanted, and were thoroughly satisfied with the effective way he discharged his duties. When Indians or British threatened the South or Southwest, he was the man to whom the general government had to turn, and his constant success made him a popular hero throughout the Union. Thus, in reputation as well as in character, he became more than a mere Tennesseean; he became a representative American. He was not a trained statesman, and his opinions on many important subjects were little more than prejudices. But he was thoroughly honest and fearless and precisely the sort of leader fitted to enlist the sympathy and admiration of the democracy. It is true that he could have done little without his shrewd political friends, and that he was likely to be partly their tool. It is true, also, that with all the virtues of the backwoodsmen, he had some of their vices, notably that of vindictiveness. But when all allowances are made, he was a great man, thoroughly representative of the new electorate.


344. The New Democracy.—The new type of politicians controlling the country was but an index of a new electorate. In the East the downfall of the Federalists and the constant extensions of the suffrage had created a party of “the people,” which would have had little chance of making its wishes law under the régime of Washington, or even of Jefferson. But it hailed in Jackson a leader after its own heart. In the West, where aristocracy was practically unknown, no other party had ever existed, and the young communities had long chafed under the conservative methods of the East, which advanced one Secretary of State after another to the Presidential chair. In the South the planters still controlled affairs, but they treated the democracy with consideration, and directed, rather than thwarted, its energies. Of course, in developing this new political force, the teachings of Jefferson and his school had had much influence; but the growth and spread of population, the increase of territory, the development of means of communication, and the opening up of new industries had been more effective. Jefferson had wanted to have the people recognized as the source of power, but he wished to have educated men use the power thus obtained. He thought, moreover, that tyranny would be averted if these picked men represented localities, or states, which would be jealous of their rights, and not the nation at large, which would not be thus jealous. The new democracy, on the other hand, while suspicious of strong government, was national in its sympathies, rather than local, as was soon proved by Jackson. The lately formed states of the West, being all younger than the Union, many of them creations by that Union out of national territory, had less state pride than the older commonwealths which had formed the Union. The new conditions of trade were, moreover, somewhat obliterating state lines in the North and East by inducing travel and correspondence on the part of business men. Thus the local democracy represented by Jefferson was being more and more confined to the South, but it kept up an alliance with the national and more radical democracy represented by Jackson down to the Civil War. Manhood suffrage, dependence of office holders upon the wishes of the electorate, and other principles of the Jacksonian democracy have become the political heritage of Americans, regardless of party.


345. Changes among the People.—The new democracy was strong and honest, but very ignorant. It was controlled by clever politicians, who used the machinery of caucus, primary election, and nominating conventions, and also introduced the ideas of the supreme virtue of party fealty, and of the propriety of distributing the spoils of office to the victors in each successive election. In other words, men were being taught to distrust their individual judgment and to trust that of their party. These ideas were held in all honesty, and few persons had time to consider whither they would lead. Few saw that party loyalty was taking the place of patriotism, that desire for the gains of office was supplanting the spirit of patriotic self-sacrifice. The country had grown tremendously in area, in population, and in wealth. Steamers were running in every direction, and railroads were soon to be built. Religious and educational lethargy had been shaken, and new ideas were in the air. National democracy, with its theories of the right of all to aspire to office, and its businesslike way of rewarding its successful supporters, was itself, therefore, a part of a great transformation of three-fourths of the American people.


346. Growth of the Nation.—It is difficult to realize the extent of this transformation. In 1789 Spain hemmed us in to the South and West and the British had not abandoned fortresses that belonged to us in the Northwest. Just beyond the Alleghanies the Indians were still a menace. Forty years later our domain stretched far beyond the Mississippi, Spain had yielded Florida, and Great Britain respected our rights. The Seminoles in Florida, and other tribes in the far West, were still to give trouble, but everywhere the wigwam was retreating before the log cabin. A generation before, the Atlantic seaboard had dominated the country in population, education, and wealth. Now the West was, not indeed the equal of the East, but a formidable rival. Since the War of 1812, the migration to Northwest and Southwest had been marvelous. The people seemed determined to fill up their more than two million square miles of territory. Emigrants from Europe had not begun to come over in great numbers, but American families were large and always ready to move to a favorable locality, especially from rugged New England to the fertile West. Improved roads, canals, and steamboats facilitated the movement of population, but even in the South, where roads were bad, enterprising families moved by thousands from Virginia and the Carolinas into Alabama and Mississippi, which with their rich lands invited the cotton planter and his slaves. Under these circumstances it is no wonder that by 1830 the population of the country had reached nearly thirteen millions, and that eleven new states had been added to the old thirteen.


347. Material and Moral Progress.—Perhaps the greatest change that had taken place in America was the increased mental and moral energy displayed by its inhabitants. The people were still provincial, but they were no longer sluggish. The War of 1812 had developed their national spirit; their own growth in population, and their acquisitions of territory, out of which wealth in all forms could be easily extracted, had developed their desire to prosper. They were no longer content slowly to grow moderately rich. They fostered manufactures and commerce and agriculture. They became a nation of inventors, and, what was more important, they developed a capacity for pure science which made the name of America honored throughout the world. Out of their midst sprang essayists and novelists and poets who interpreted their life to them. There was a notable growth of the religious spirit; temperance and other reforms were agitated; more attention was paid to education; public charities of all kinds received popular support. Nor were minor things overlooked. Men of all classes began to strive to provide household comforts for their families. Travel was made more comfortable. Good hotels began to replace bad inns. Urban life did not attract country people as it does now, but the towns had grown and prospered. New York was in 1830 a city of two hundred thousand inhabitants. Philadelphia was not far behind. Cincinnati had grown from a mere village to a town of nearly twenty-five thousand people. Throughout the North, East, and West, therefore, the watchword was “Development.” Even in the South, which was rendered conservative and sluggish by the presence of slavery, there were not wanting proofs that many energetic men would like to imitate their more fortunate brothers of other sections. Like the rest of the country, the South hoped for great things from her future railroads and canals, but her industrial future was still far in the distance.


348. Political Conditions.—Although the East and North led the rest of the country in manufacturing and commerce, and although the West was developing agriculture to a great degree, political power had not passed to them as completely as a casual observer might have perhaps expected. The South might be conservative, but it had an immense source of wealth in its cotton; and buying, as it did, many supplies from the North, it was a customer not to be offended. Hence many Northern politicians opposed Southern schemes less violently than they would otherwise have done, and hence the South seemed to have disproportionate power at Washington. Besides, Southern planters had more leisure to think of politics than busier citizens elsewhere, and their emotional temperaments naturally inclined them to political leadership. But they were being more and more outnumbered every year in the House of Representatives, and the Missouri Controversy had shown them how increasingly difficult it would be to keep the Senate balanced between free and slave states. In view of their perilous position, they naturally became all the more domineering and haughty in their demands. This, however, roused the temper of the other sections. Wealthy New England had time and means to develop the philanthropic spirit, and an anti-slavery movement was sure to follow. The Northwest, settled largely by New Englanders, would take this movement up, although hampered by the presence of Southern immigrants in Indiana and Illinois. It was impossible either for the descendants of the Puritans or for the hardy pioneers to tolerate long the domination of an aristocracy based on slavery.


William Lloyd Garrison.

349. The New West.—The Western man, especially, living in his log cabin, pursuing the primitive unconventional life of a farmer, could not sympathize with an aristocracy that did not work with its hands, and must sympathize with slaves that did. The graces of Southern social life counted for little with Puritan or pioneer, and when the fight was begun the moral enthusiasm of the one, and the shrewd sense, plain morality, and superb energy of the other, would insure the victory for freedom. The election of Jackson, who, although partly a Southerner, was more a Westerner, meant, therefore, not merely the triumph of a new democracy, but that the center of political power had crossed the Alleghanies, and that the control which the South had exercised over the Union from the first was passing to stronger hands.


Theodore Parker.

350. Changes in New England.—In New England, also, the spirit of understanding which had long existed with the South on account partly of trade connections, partly of the English homogeneity common to both sections, was rapidly passing away. The old New England of farmers and sailors was now becoming more and more a country of manufacturers and artisans. The old Puritan leaven still fermented,—not as formerly, within the churches, the power of which had conspicuously declined, but in new forms of philanthropy, philosophy, and literature. New England had always been a power in the intellectual life of the nation, but from 1830 to 1860 this power was vastly increased. From her midst came abolitionists like Garrison[151] and others shortly to be mentioned. In Webster she had the greatest of orators and of exponents of the national idea. In Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) she had a teacher of high morality and a philosopher who, if vague, like his fellow-members of the school known as Transcendental, possessed, nevertheless, an inspiring personality. In the elder William Ellery Channing (1780–1842) and Theodore Parker[152] she had clergymen whose influence was felt far beyond their section. In Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882) she had the sweetest and most popular of native poets; and in John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892), a sturdy poet-champion of human liberty. James Russell Lowell (1819–1891), too, was a young son of Massachusetts who, as poet and critic, was to do good work for the nation. All these great men were, more or less, forces to be counted against the continued dominance of the South in politics. With the exception of Webster they were not politicians, but they were thinkers who taught others to think. Against them the South, even with the poet and story writer, Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849), could set no such galaxy of genius, save in the sphere of politics; and with the exception of Calhoun, the Southern statesmen of the new generation were inferior to those of the old. Nor were the Middle states, rich and populous though they were, capable of competing with New England as a factor in the nation’s life. Able politicians and editors were coming to the front, and there were some authors of great power, such as James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1851) and Washington Irving (1783–1859), but none capable of supplying such civic inspiration as writers like Emerson and Whittier. William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878) might be counted in this connection, for he did his main work in New York, but he was New England born. In short, it may be fairly said that New England represented for the generation before the Civil War the progressive, moral sense of the nation in the great question of freedom versus slavery; for that portion of the West which served the cause of liberty was settled chiefly by New England people. Curiously enough, the greatest imaginative genius that New England produced, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864), the romancer, took little interest in the burning question of the day.

References.—See Chapters XVII. and XVIII.

Born, 1805; died, 1879. Writer on Newburyport Herald, 1818–1826; edited various emancipation papers, 1826–1831; editor of the great agitation organ in behalf of emancipation, the Liberator, 1831–1860; formed the American Anti-slavery Society and became its president in 1832; perhaps had greater influence than any other man in behalf of emancipation.

Born, 1810; died, 1860. Was pastor of Unitarian Church at West Roxbury from 1837 to 1845; was an ardent advocate of emancipation; was very prominent as an orator and pamphleteer; founded a church in Boston for the advocacy of new and more radical phases of the Unitarian movement.


jackson’s first administration, 1829–1833.


351. The Spoils System.—Jackson’s inauguration was a signal for crowds of his active supporters to hasten to Washington for their rewards. At the reception at the White House they displayed the rudeness of a mob, and furnished a sharp contrast with the stately levees held by Washington in New York. But worse things were to follow. Through a Tenure of Office Act, due to Crawford (1820), many positions fell vacant every four years. These vacancies enabled the President’s advisers partly to satisfy the demands made upon him, but the politicians also induced him to use his power of removal. In a few months over five times as many changes were made in the civil service as had been made by all Jackson’s predecessors. As a matter of course these wholesale removals from office brought many incompetent men into positions of trust, but it is quite clear that Jackson did not realize what he was doing. He thought he was rewarding faithful friends instead of inflicting a disgrace and an incalculable injury upon his country. He was a kind-hearted man, but some of the official changes that he made on the advice of his political managers could scarcely have been more cruel if he had been really merciless.


Martin Van Buren.

352. Jackson’s Cabinet.—Jackson’s Cabinet was chosen upon the basis of friendship or service and was mediocre in character. Van Buren,[153] who was made Secretary of State, had ability, it is true, and showed it conspicuously in the way he humored Jackson in order to secure the Presidential succession. Two Secretaries were friends of Calhoun, the Vice President, who had thus far supported Jackson. Within three years, however, the Cabinet was, with one exception, reconstituted. This very unusual and autocratic procedure of Jackson’s was owing partly to the alienation from Calhoun which followed Jackson’s discovery that the South Carolinian had wished to have him punished for his high-handed conduct in Florida (§ 324, note 2), and partly to the unwillingness of the wives of the other Secretaries to call upon the wife of the Secretary of War. This change in the personnel of the Cabinet but slightly affected the character of the administration, since Jackson rarely consulted his constitutional advisers, but preferred to take the advice of a small group of friends known as the “Kitchen Cabinet.” These men, chief among whom were William B. Lewis, an old Tennessee neighbor, and Amos Kendall, later Postmaster-General, acted as “coaches” to the old warrior. But the daring and energy needed for carrying out certain of his policies were furnished by himself.


353. Jackson’s Autocratic Reign.—Jackson, in spite of his theories about the duty of an executive to do the people’s will, was too much accustomed to command to be able to play the part of a constitutional President with any grace. When he had made up his mind to do a thing there was no stopping him. Of all our Presidents he, the most typically democratic, with the exception of Andrew Johnson, was the most typical autocrat. Opponents called him “King Andrew” and his two administrations are often spoken of as the “Reign of Andrew Jackson.” Yet to his credit be it said, that when he was not persuaded to act spitefully, he always acted fairly and for what he believed to be the interests of the nation. He bullied Mexico, but he would not be bullied by South Carolina. He insulted Chief Justice Marshall, was unforgiving to Calhoun, but was loyal to Van Buren. He was stern when his resolution to act was kindled; yet at times he was remarkably gentle. Almost the only time his will was successfully crossed was when the women of Washington refused to receive Secretary Eaton’s wife. But in describing him thus we are evidently dealing with a real man, not with a mere personification of the nation’s dignity. The history of Jackson’s administrations is the biography of Jackson himself—a fact which shows us that republican governments are sometimes as much affected by personal influences as monarchies are. The parallel between his career and that of a typical autocratic ruler is drawn still closer when we remember that an attempt was made to assassinate him. But this parallel must not be pushed too far. No man ever more truly wished to serve the people that elected him than Andrew Jackson.


Daniel Webster.

354. Jackson as an Administrator.—Jackson’s administrations form a turning point in our history and are important from almost every point of view. Only their leading features can be treated here, but it may be well to say that whenever he could,—as in the matter of internal improvements,—Jackson played the part of a strict constructionist. When it was agreeable to him, he favored state sovereignty, as when he refused to support Chief Justice Marshall and the Supreme Court in their decisions against Georgia, which state continued to act toward the Cherokees as badly as it had done toward the Creeks. Georgia officials treated Marshall with contempt, and Jackson is reported to have said, “John Marshall has made his law, now let him enforce it.” Such a divorce between the executive and the judiciary, if long continued, would mean anarchy; but it must be remembered that Jackson, an old backwoodsman, would of course sympathize with the white men of Georgia.[154] But he would tolerate no violation of national laws which he thought it right to defend, and he considered the voice of the people sufficient authority for some very loose constructions of the Constitution.


Thomas H. Benton.

Robert Y. Hayne.

355. The Webster-Hayne Debate.—Probably the most striking event of Jackson’s first administration is the great debate of 1830 between Webster[155] and Hayne. It grew out of some resolutions of Senator Foote of Connecticut with regard to the rapid sales of public lands. The cheapness of land drew population westward, and this raised the price of labor in the older states; hence the interest of New England seemed to lie in opposing the policy of granting portions of the public domain to newcomers on very easy terms. The resolutions were hotly opposed by Senator Thomas H. Benton[156] of Missouri, a leading supporter of Jackson. Benton and all Westerners naturally thought the prevailing policy wise because it brought men and money to the new commonwealths. Senator Robert Y. Hayne[157] of South Carolina came to the help of the Western men, since to most Southerners New England was now obnoxious on account of the Tariff of Abominations (§ 340), and since the West, being comparatively unsettled, might, they thought, possibly be won to slavery’s side. Webster replied to Hayne, and the latter returned to the attack, but on a different line. He discussed the nature of the general government and gave warning that if the South were not relieved of tariff burdens, the remedy of a state veto would have to be resorted to. In other words, he advanced Calhoun’s doctrine of nullification, which, as we have seen, was an extension of the principles enunciated by Virginia and Kentucky in 1798, and by the Hartford Convention in 1814 (§§ 279 and 315). Webster replied in his most famous speech, and as an orator certainly got the better of his opponent, although Hayne’s defense of his own position was masterly. Even Calhoun himself, who, as he was serving his second term as Vice President, could not join in the debate, would hardly have presented his own views more clearly. Whether Webster eclipsed Hayne as a political reasoner, is a point on which the North and the South have never been in perfect agreement. Webster denied Hayne’s postulate that the Union rested on a compact, and affirmed that the Constitution had established a general government with powers sufficient to enforce its rights even against the component states.


Daniel Webster’s Carriage.

356. The Theoretical and the Historical View.—Few will now deny that Webster was right as a theoretical publicist, for a constitution which admitted the right of secession or of nullification would have framed a farcical government. But whether he was right from the point of view of the constitutional lawyer or of the historical annalist is quite a different matter. There were nationalists from the beginning, but it seems probable that most men in 1789 believed that the Constitution was a compact between the states. By 1830 the North, and much of the West, had been nationalized and had more or less forgotten or abandoned the compact theory. But the South, less changed, adhered to it, especially as on it a minority party could base a constitutional resistance to an obnoxious policy like the tariff. Hence it seems fair to conclude that Webster was right as a publicist, partly unsound as a lawyer and annalist; but that the future was with him, the past with Hayne. That the past was with Hayne is partly at least confirmed by the general historical fact that minority parties, needing all the support they can get, make a careful study of precedents and have every interest in not making mistakes in their procedure. Parties of progress, on the other hand, are rarely careful about their reasoning from precedents. It is to be noted further that much of the political strength the Southerners still possessed lay in the fact that they were on the defensive and could obstruct legislation by strictly construing the Constitution.


357. Jackson and Calhoun.—Shortly after the debate it looked as if South Carolina at least would put Calhoun’s theory in operation. The tariff of 1828 had been reformed in 1830 and in 1832, but the protective idea was still dominant, and against this idea the Southerners were firmly set. They wished to resist in some way, but they soon found that they could not count on Jackson to help them as he had helped Georgia. That old warrior had answered their overtures, when attending a banquet given on Jefferson’s birthday, at which disunion sentiments were openly expressed, by giving, as his contribution to the entertainment, the toast, “Our Federal Union: it must be preserved.” They could count on Calhoun, however, with more certainty than ever, for his break with Jackson took place about this time; and, so far as logical exposition goes, no cause has ever had more remarkable support than Calhoun gave the nullifiers. Jackson, however, received a stronger support. He was reëlected in 1832 by a very large majority and believed that the people meant him to go ahead and preserve the Union, as well as to carry out other important policies.


358. Nullification.—Meanwhile those South Carolinians who thought as Calhoun did, in spite of considerable opposition from their fellow-citizens, caused a State Convention to be assembled in November, 1832. This body declared the tariff acts of 1828 and 1832 null and void so far as South Carolina was concerned, and prohibited payment of duties under them after February 1, 1833. Jackson replied by a strong proclamation, which urged the necessity of every true patriot’s supporting the laws and officers of the Union. Unfortunately many good South Carolinians thought that a patriot ought to support the state first, and the Union afterward. Jackson, however, did not rely on a mere proclamation. He dispatched soldiers and vessels to Charleston, and asked Congress to pass a bill enlarging his powers so that he might legally crush the incipient revolution. Congress in reply passed what is known as the Force Bill, March 1, 1833. No force was needed, however. The other Southern states did not stand by South Carolina, for although most of them believed in the right of secession as a last resort, they had little sympathy with nullification. They did not see how a state could remain in the Union, and yet not obey the latter’s laws. The nullifiers, under their leaders,—Hayne, who was now Governor of South Carolina, and Calhoun, who had taken Hayne’s place in the Senate,—had hoped for concession rather than war, and, pending the action of Congress, suspended the nullification ordinance. The administration, too, while determined to assert itself, had no great interest in the protective system, the cause of the quarrel. At this juncture Clay again played the part of a compromiser, and a tariff act, providing for a gradual return in ten years to the mild duties of 1816, was made law, March 2, 1833, one day after the Force Bill was passed and a day before the obnoxious tariff of 1832 was to have gone into effect. On their side, the South Carolinians held another convention, and repealed their first nullifying ordinance, but nullified the Force Bill. Thus it was practically a drawn battle—neither side abandoning its principles, but both making concessions in a not altogether brave and creditable way. As was to be expected, both parties claimed a victory. In South Carolina Calhoun’s influence grew steadily stronger, and the militia of the state seems to have been kept up with the distinct idea that it might be available in another crisis with the general government. On the other hand, Jackson had maintained the dignity of the Union, and the tariff compromisers, following the Missouri compromisers, had succeeded in putting off the day of reckoning until the Free states were strong enough to crush slavery and still retain the Southern states in the Union.

References.General Works: see Chapter XVIII.

Special Works: same as for Chapter XVII., with the addition of: George T. Curtis, Daniel Webster; T. Roosevelt, Thomas H. Benton (“American Statesmen”); E. M. Shepard, Martin Van Buren (“American Statesmen”); A. C. McLaughlin, Lewis Cass (“American Statesmen”); W. G. Sumner, Andrew Jackson (“American Statesmen”); J. Parton, Andrew Jackson; W. P. Trent, Calhoun, in Southern Statesmen of the Old Régime; C. W. Loring, Nullification, Secession, etc.; D. F. Houston, Study of Nullification in South Carolina (“Harvard Historical Studies”).

Born, 1782; died, 1862. Early rose to eminence in New York as a lawyer and politician; United States senator, 1821–1828; governor, 1828–1829; Secretary of State under Jackson, 1829–1831; Vice President with Jackson, 1833–1837; elected President, 1836; was overwhelmingly defeated by Harrison in 1840; opposed the annexation of Texas in 1844; received a majority of votes in Democratic Convention in 1844, but was beaten by Polk under the two thirds rule; was Free Soil candidate for President in 1848, and drew enough electoral votes from Cass to elect Taylor.

The Indian problem was partly solved during Jackson’s administrations by the transfer of some of the tribes to Indian Territory.

Born in New Hampshire, 1782; died, 1852. Was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, and at Dartmouth College, graduating in 1801; admitted to the bar at Boscawen, New Hampshire, in 1805; member of Congress, 1813–1817; moved to Boston and in 1818 rose to the front rank of lawyers by his labors in the “Dartmouth College Case”; congressman, 1823–1827; became widely known as orator by his orations at Plymouth, 1820, and Bunker Hill, 1825, and his eulogy on Adams and Jefferson, 1826; entered the Senate in 1827, and at once took high rank as a leader; favored the protective tariff of 1828; won the highest distinction as “Expounder of the Constitution” in debate with Hayne in 1830; Secretary of State, 1841; negotiated the Ashburton Treaty, 1842; resigned in 1843; reëntered the Senate, 1845; gave feeble support to Taylor in 1848; alienated many old friends by his 7th of March speech in 1850, in which he supported Clay’s Compromises and took a conservative position on the question of slavery; Secretary of State, 1850–1852.

Born in North Carolina, 1782; died, 1858. Early migrated to Tennessee; was colonel in the War of 1812; went to Missouri and became a journalist in 1813; was United States senator from Missouri, 1821–1851; was during this whole period deemed second in influence only to the great trio Calhoun, Clay, and Webster; was a stanch advocate of favorable land laws, of post-roads, of the development of the West, and of conservatism in finance; strenuously supported Jackson and opposed Calhoun; published valuable Thirty Years View, and Abridgment of Debates of Congress.

Born in South Carolina, 1791; died, 1839. Served in War of 1812; member of the South Carolina Legislature, 1814–1818; attorney-general of South Carolina, 1818–1822; elected to United States Senate, 1823; opposed the protective system, denying its constitutionality; was chairman of the nullifying convention of 1832; governor of South Carolina, 1832–1834, when the state prepared to enforce its ideas of nullification,—a movement which was prevented by Clay’s compromise tariff.


jackson’s second administration, 1833–1837.


359. Anti-slavery Agitation.—The tariff was not destined to remain the chief grievance of the Southerners. They were soon far more concerned with the growing agitation against slavery which was being waged by determined men and women in the North. At the head of these abolitionists, as they were styled, stood William Lloyd Garrison, who in 1831 established his anti-slavery paper, The Liberator, in Boston. Up to this time many leading Southerners, including Washington and Jefferson, had deplored the existence of slavery without seeing how to get rid of it. Now, feeling outraged by the attacks made upon their section, and fearing other slave insurrections like one incited by Nat Turner in Virginia in 1831, they began to defend their institution as a property right secured to them by law, and a profitable one in view of the increased demand for cotton. Efforts for emancipation, such as those made by representatives of the mountain districts of Virginia, in a convention held in that state in 1829–1830, were abandoned. A pro-slavery literature was produced, which treated slavery not as an evil to be abated, but as a benefit to be spread. Stricter penal laws were enacted with regard to the blacks, and the abolitionists were denounced and threatened. The latter received at first similar treatment in the North, where they were frequently mobbed. They continued to make proselytes, however, and by 1836 had put the nation in a turmoil, as a result of their petitions to Congress for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia.


Wendell Phillips.

360. Abolitionist Petitions to Congress.—The Southerners, alarmed at the thought of the bad effects upon their interests that debate on these petitions might have, secured the passage of resolutions tabling them. But they found it hard to silence such an advocate as John Quincy Adams, who had not disdained to serve his country in the House of Representatives after having held the highest office open to a citizen. Adams was not an abolitionist, but he did believe in the right of all citizens to petition Congress, and until his death, in 1848, he championed the cause of liberty in the most eloquent way. Soon, too, the Southerners had the difficult task of disposing of the abolitionist pamphlets sent through the mails. As a result of their efforts to suppress freedom of speech and kindred rights, the cause they were opposing gained in strength. It had its martyr in E. P. Lovejoy, murdered in Alton, Illinois, in 1837, and its fiery orator in Wendell Phillips[158] of Boston. It had the future with it also, but this only the more far-sighted of the Southerners could see. The mass of them saw only that an institution bequeathed to them by their fathers and, as they believed, essential to their comfort and prosperity, was being assailed by men who, as a rule, had had little close contact with it. In consequence, they naturally made the best resistance they could. They would have been more than human if they had not resisted, but it must be confessed that their speeches and actions were often so extreme in character as to defeat their ends. On the other hand, the abolitionists were partly responsible, in their turn, for the extreme stand taken by the Southerners, for they were very intemperate in their strictures. Because they abhorred slavery, they thought it logical to abhor slaveholders and the Constitution of the United States, which permitted slavery. They were opposed to all efforts to settle the slavery question by political action. They upheld every kind of reform, no matter how extreme, and were continually at loggerheads among themselves. In other words, they were impractical, and their methods in the early years of the agitation were abhorrent to the average American citizen. Nevertheless, they aroused the public conscience on the subject of slavery, and, as leaders of a crusade, their most influential members, men and women, have perhaps never been surpassed.


361. Jackson and the Bank.—Meanwhile Jackson, though on the whole a Southern sympathizer, had a battle of his own to fight that interested him far more than the slavery contest. He had an agriculturist’s suspicion of capitalists, and in particular saw in the Bank of the United States a greedy monopoly worked in the interests of his political enemies.[159] Accordingly he early declared war against that institution, which was at that time in good condition. Henry Clay, his chief rival, took up the issue, and in 1832 had a bill passed for rechartering the corporation. Jackson at once vetoed it, and the country sustained him in the campaign of 1832, in which Henry Clay, as candidate of the National Republicans,[160] and William Wirt as candidate of the short-lived party known as the Anti-Masons,[161] were ignominiously defeated.


362. Removal of the Deposits.—Encouraged by the popular support he had received, and believing firmly, and rightly, it would seem, that the bank was a dangerous monopoly, Jackson now resolved to deal it a crushing blow. He secured, after some trouble, a coöperating Secretary of the Treasury in Roger B. Taney of Maryland, and through him had an order given for the withdrawal of the deposits of public money in the bank and its branches.[162] This move might under other circumstances have been a wise one, but it was made in an impolitic manner; and by crippling the bank at a period when the nation was carried away by a craze for speculation, it probably helped to pave the way for the great financial panic of 1837. It also brought upon Jackson a vote of censure by the Senate, which he answered in a vigorous protest, and which his friends later, under the lead of Benton, by a rather farcical procedure succeeded in expunging from the Senate Journal.


363. Censure of Jackson’s Action.—Few actions of an American President have been more harshly criticised than that of Jackson toward the Bank of the United States, but it cost him little of his popularity with the masses, because they, like himself, were suspicious of corporate wealth. The wealthy classes, however, denounced him freely, and with some reason. The changes necessitated in his Cabinet in order that his wishes might be carried out suited rather a self-willed sovereign like Louis XIV. than the constitutional executive of a republic. The vindictiveness with which he pursued his policy was appropriate to a small, rather than a great, man. Besides, the whole matter was one for financiers to manage, and Jackson knew more of fighting than he did of finance. Nor was popular acquiescence in his policy a sure indication of its wisdom. On the other hand, the president of the bank, Nicholas Biddle, of Philadelphia, acted with indiscretion and injured his own cause. Clay also was premature in forcing the issue and had a partisan purpose in doing it. The bank had years before been grossly mismanaged (§ 317, note) and might be so again; and when its existence was threatened, it used money in politics. Moreover, after its charter expired, its career under the laws of Pennsylvania was discreditable. Taking all these facts into consideration, we are perhaps justified in concluding that Jackson’s methods of procedure deserve great censure in spite of his integrity, but that what he actually did was not nearly so detrimental to the interests of the country as some persons have considered it.


364. Banks and Speculation.—But the end was not yet. The funds removed from the Bank of the United States were deposited in state banks, controlled by Democrats, and afterwards known as “Jackson’s Pets.” This governmental favor caused the numbers of such banks to increase, and thus stimulated the universal desire to indulge in financial speculation. The public revenues meanwhile increased through speculation in public lands and through larger imports, and as the national debt had been paid off shortly before, it was hard to decide what to do with the accumulated funds. An outlet for this surplus was found in non-interest-bearing loans to the states in proportion to their representation in Congress. This distribution of the surplus—a favorite project of Clay’s and destined later to complicate the financial situation still more seriously—increased the tendency toward extravagant internal improvements, and thus fed the fever for speculation which, as we have just said, both supported and was supported by a loose system of banking under state control.


365. Wild-cat Banks.—The “Wild-cat Banks,” as the banks established under this system were called, were especially numerous in the South and West, and their paper notes were of such varying values that the public suffered great inconvenience.[163] Journals were published for the special purpose of reporting from day to day the value of the various issues and for the purpose of pointing out how traders could avoid being deceived by the numerous counterfeits. There was a legitimate demand for an increase of the circulating medium, and the government had tried to meet this by enlarging the output of gold and silver coins and by arranging for notes to be issued by the deposit banks on a specie reserve of one-third of their circulation. But these measures were not sufficient. The states chartered banks recklessly, and the banks issued their notes in wild profusion.


366. The “Specie Circular.”—Jackson became alarmed, since the notes of even the specie-paying banks received by the Treasury for the purchase of public lands were declining in value. He therefore issued his famous “Specie Circular,” which announced, against the advice of the Cabinet, that thenceforth only gold and silver would be received in payment for public lands. This order naturally affected the banks in the West disastrously, forced back a mass of notes upon the East, and induced a general want of confidence, which was all the greater on account of the previous speculative want of caution.


367. Election of Van Buren.—Jackson, like Jefferson, however, was fortunate enough to lay down his office in time to leave his successor to meet the impending storm. That successor was Martin Van Buren, who by the irony of fate had helped his chief to secure two of his greatest successes. These were the opening of the ports of the British West Indies to American ships, and the acknowledgment by France of the justice of the French spoliation claims, which were based on depredations committed on American commerce during the Napoleonic régime.[164] Still, Van Buren partly deserved his fate, for he had been subservient to Jackson and had succeeded him on the distinct pledge that he would follow in his footsteps. He was the first real politician to reach the White House, but he had statesmanly qualities also. If he had not bound himself to Jackson so closely that he was often forced to act against his own judgment, he would probably rank among the greatest Presidents. But adherence to Jackson’s policy—for example, in the bullying attitude assumed toward Mexico on account of Texas—undoubtedly hurt his career and perhaps his conscience. Still, Jackson had stood by him after the Senate had unjustifiably failed to confirm his appointment to the English mission; and, first as Vice President, afterward as President, he had great cause to bless “Old Hickory’s” friendship.

References.General Works: see Chapter XVIII.

Special Works: same as for Chapter XX., except the two books mentioned last. See also lives of leading abolitionists,—Birney, Wendell Phillips, etc., especially the biography of William Lloyd Garrison, written by his children, and A. H. Stephens, War Between the States; Jefferson Davis, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.

Born in Boston, 1811; died, 1884. Graduated at Harvard 1831; became a lawyer, but from 1837 gave his chief energies to the abolition movement; was the most eloquent and effective advocate of the cause until the outbreak of the war; ardent advocate of temperance reform and of woman suffrage; sided with the Greenback party.

The former Adams men and the adherents of Clay, who shortly after this time took the name of the patriotic party in the Revolution and called themselves “Whigs.”

Before taking the name “Whig,” the party that favored protection, internal improvements, and liberal construction of the Constitution generally, took part of the name of the Democratic-Republican party that was in power from Jefferson to Jackson, and called themselves National Republicans. The Jackson men, on the other hand, took the first half of the name, which was distinctly appropriate to them. The Democratic party thus formed has been in existence ever since, with considerable changes, however. The Whigs, as will be seen, are represented to-day by the Republican party.

This party was formed against the Free Masons, chiefly in consequence of the report, not confirmed, of the killing in 1826 of a man named William Morgan, who had exposed certain secrets of the order.

By law the Secretary had to give the order, and Jackson compelled the resignation of Mr. Duane, who would not give it.

Sometimes men would start a bank in a small town, fail there, and then move to another town not far off and play the same trick. A contemporaneous invention, the telegraph, was destined to do much for the detection and apprehension of such rogues.

Jackson’s vigorous policy toward France almost brought on a war with that country.


the administrations of van buren and of harrison and tyler, 1837–1845.


368. New Parties.—Martin Van Buren won the election of 1836 as a Democrat, for Jackson’s party, as we have seen, had dropped the word “Republican” from their name (§ 361, note 1). His opponent had been William Henry Harrison of Indiana, a man long prominent in his section (§§ 299, 302, 305). Harrison was the nominee of the Whigs, but the real leaders of the latter party were Clay and Webster. The chief bond of union binding the two leaders and their followers together was their desire for a liberal construction of the Constitution and for a strong central government. The Whigs were soon destined to develop strength in every section, even in the South.


369. The Independent Treasury.—Van Buren and the Democrats were destined soon to lose the strength they began with. The panic of 1837 greatly injured business, and then, as they have so often since done, men blamed the central government for a state of things for which it was only partly responsible. Banks failed in every direction and prices went up enormously, flour and corn more than doubling in cost. The President called an extra session of Congress to consider the situation, but had little to propose besides insisting on the policy of the “Specie Circular” and on divorcing the government from the banks. The latter policy, known as the Independent Treasury system or Sub-Treasury, was finally carried through in 1840. With a slight intermission, it has been the policy of the nation ever since. Its main features are the receipt and disbursement of government funds at vaults built in a few of the chief cities.


370. Van Buren’s Failure.—The administration’s policy did little to mend matters, and the people rightly or wrongly attributed most of the financial troubles of the time to Jackson’s meddling with the banks. They accordingly listened to the Whigs, who believed in a national bank in particular and in discrediting the Democrats in general. To make matters worse for Van Buren, the spoils system began to show its seamy side, and he was accused of all its evils, unjustly, on the whole. He was also charged with living in luxury while the poor were starving, and in the midst of the panic was almost menaced by a mob in the White House grounds. Furthermore, he alienated many persons by not siding with the Canadian revolutionists of 1837, and by not encouraging the annexation of Texas, which had revolted from Mexico in 1836. Even the Seminole War,[165] continued for several years against the Indians of Florida, was charged against him; and, in 1840, although he had on the whole governed well, he was overwhelmingly defeated by General Harrison in a campaign conducted on sensational lines.


William Henry Harrison.

371. Campaign of 1840.—Although Harrison was a Whig, the candidate for Vice President who was associated with him, John Tyler of Virginia, was chosen chiefly because he had opposed Jackson. He was really a Jeffersonian Democrat, not a Whig. Principles were little in demand, the voters being satisfied with spectacular demonstrations. In their torchlight processions they carried around large, log cabins with men in front drinking cider—visible insignia of the frontiersmen, to which class Harrison was supposed to belong. They also shouted their campaign refrain of “Tippecanoe and Tyler too” (§ 299), and they held monster meetings in the open air. No campaign in American history has been more marked by noisy, unreasoning enthusiasm than this.


372. Tyler’s Position.—General Harrison[166] was an old man, and proved unable to bear the strain of his campaign, the pressure of office seekers, and the ceremonies attending his inauguration. He died exactly one month after taking office, and left his party in great confusion. Vice President John Tyler, his successor, did not believe in the Whig policy of loose construction, and was a Democrat in all except a few particulars. He soon showed his colors by vetoing Clay’s bill for a national bank, and then vetoing a second bill framed on suggestions of his own. He was accused of bad faith, but was doubtless only in a false position and anxious to assert a policy of his own that might put him at the head of a party. His vetoes, however, made the Whigs his deadly enemies and caused all his Cabinet to resign except Webster. The latter, as Secretary of State, remained to settle with the British Minister, Lord Ashburton, in the treaty that bears the latter’s name (1842), the disputed northeastern boundary and certain points connected with the suppression of the African slave trade.[167]


John Tyler.

373. The Lesson of Tyler’s Career.—John Tyler[168] was the first Vice President to reach the White House through the death of his superior. His behavior in the higher office should have taught the people of the United States a lesson as to the necessity of choosing highly qualified candidates for the Vice Presidential office. The career of Andrew Johnson proves that they had not learned this lesson in 1864. The old system by which the candidate receiving the second highest number of electoral votes became Vice President had its drawbacks, but it at least gave the country such Vice Presidents as John Adams and Jefferson. Under the new system the office has been too often given to a candidate possessing political influence or to a good man so old as to be likely to die before the expiration of his term. It follows that Tyler is not so much to blame for his mistakes as the people who put him where he was sure to go astray. He was an honest and amiable man, who by no means lacked capacity. He helped Webster in the Ashburton Treaty. He behaved with discretion during what is known as “Dorr’s Rebellion” in Rhode Island[169] (1841–1842). But, on the whole, Tyler was lacking in discretion and was unable to take the lead in public matters. He did not believe in a national bank and was perhaps right in not doing so; but if he had been wise, he would have said so plainly and thus prevented the Whigs passing bills that he was sure to veto. He vetoed other measures besides the bank bills and perhaps again was in the right; but the main result of his actions was to earn for him the distrust both of the Whigs and of the Democrats. His attempt to form a party of his own was a complete failure.


General Samuel Houston.

374. The Texas Question.—The congressional election at the middle of Tyler’s term, while adverse to the Whigs, did not help him. The second half of his administration was therefore even more wanting in harmony and effectiveness than the first. The chief question put forward was the admission of Texas, which the President, as a Southern man and a sympathizer with slavery, naturally favored. Although Mexico had not recognized her independence, Texas had now been a republic ever since General Samuel Houston[170] had defeated the Mexican leader, Santa Anna, at San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. The leading Texans were Americans, however, and desired annexation, but this would mean not only war with Mexico, but also a huge increase of territory for slavery. Accordingly Northern men shrank from allowing the annexation of the sparsely populated region. Anti-slavery sentiments were growing, and such able men as Joshua R. Giddings of Ohio were championing them in Congress. But the Southerners were alert also, especially Calhoun, who became Tyler’s Secretary of State toward the end of his term. Calhoun feared that England was anxious to secure Texas; besides, he felt that slavery must spread or be crushed out. It was not hard to induce Tyler to join in negotiations with the Texans, and in April, 1844, a treaty of annexation, secretly prepared, was announced. It was defeated in the Senate by a large vote, but was taken up as the chief issue of the next campaign.


375. The Campaign of 1844.—The Whigs put up Clay, and the Democrats chose James K. Polk[171] of Tennessee, since Van Buren would not advocate annexation. Polk, although he had been previously Speaker of the House, was not very well known and had aspired only to the Vice Presidency. He was therefore really the first “dark horse” to receive a presidential nomination. Clay, on the other hand, was a veteran statesman, the natural nominee of his party. But Clay unfortunately wrote letters that made his position on the Texas question ambiguous; he therefore lost the support of many anti-slavery men, who, as the “Liberty Party,” put up a candidate of their own. Polk was accordingly elected over a competitor much his superior. But before the newly elected President took his seat, Tyler had secured the annexation of Texas by the passage of a joint resolution through Congress.[172]


376. The Oregon Question.—Along with the Texas question the Democrats had made the question of the occupation of Oregon a cardinal issue in their campaign. Their success led them to claim that the United States must have all the territory lying south of 54° 40′, “or fight.” This demand was in every sense a rash one, and might easily have brought on war with Great Britain, but it fortunately led to no evil results. In 1846 a treaty with Great Britain fixed the American northern line at the 49° parallel, and only Mexico was left to contend against.

References.General Works: same as for Chapter XVIII.

Special Works: same, in the main, as for Chapters XX. and XXI., with the addition of: J. T. Curtis, James Buchanan; L. G. Tyler, Letters and Times of the Tylers; H. A. Wise, Seven Decades of the Union; B. Wise, The Life of Henry A. Wise of Virginia; H. H. Bancroft, Oregon (“Pacific States,” Vols. XXIV.–XXV.); William Barrows, Oregon (“American Commonwealths”); A. M. Williams, Sam Houston; H. Yoakum, History of Texas.

This war, which originated in the attempt of the general government to transfer the Florida Indians beyond the Mississippi River, lasted seven years (1835–1842), and cost many lives and millions of dollars. It was easy to disperse the savages in open fight, but when they took to the swamps, soldiers were almost useless, and the best generals tried their skill in vain. Finally, after much damage had been done by the banditti, so that immigration into Florida was greatly checked, the policy of giving lands to settlers who would carry arms to defend themselves was tried successfully. The leading spirit of the Seminoles was Osceola, an able warrior, who was finally captured while he was holding a conference under a flag of truce. It was asserted that he did not respect his own engagements, and that this was the only way to take him, but one does not like to dwell upon the occurrence. Shortly before, an Indian war, known as the Black Hawk War, from the name of the chief of the Sac and Fox tribes who conducted it, had been brought to a conclusion after a considerable amount of fighting. This war, like that with the Seminoles, was due to the efforts of the government to remove across the Mississippi the tribes lingering in Illinois and Wisconsin. Some of the Indians went peaceably, but Black Hawk, who had previously come under the influence of Tecumseh, induced many warriors to resist. Finally, in the summer of 1832, the regular troops of the United States defeated them on the Wisconsin and the Bad Axe rivers, and Black Hawk and his two sons, with a few warriors, were taken to Fortress Monroe and there confined for a short period.

Born in Virginia, 1773; died, 1841. Graduated at Hampden Sidney College; fought under Wayne, 1794; secretary of Northwest Territory in 1798; governor of Indiana Territory in 1800; won victory of Tippecanoe in 1811; was major general in the War of 1812, and extended his reputation by defeating Proctor and Tecumseh at the battle of the Thames; congressman, 1816–1819; United States senator, 1825–1828; Minister to the United States of Colombia, 1828–1829; defeated by Van Buren for Presidency in 1836; elected in 1840.

A. P. Upshur of Virginia succeeded Webster as Secretary of State, but was killed, along with several other prominent men, by the bursting of a gun on the Princeton in 1844.

Born in Virginia, 1790; died, 1862. Graduated at William and Mary College, 1806; congressman, 1816–1821; governor of Virginia, 1825–1827; United States senator, 1827–1836; opposed the Democrats on several points, and thus won a place on the Whig ticket with Harrison in 1840; after Harrison’s death, called an extra session of Congress, and at once showed that he was still in general accord with the Democrats, who had voted against him; was nominated for President in 1844 by a small body of adherents, but did not run against Polk; retired in 1845; was president of the Peace Convention in 1861.

A clash that almost led to civil war came between the advocates of a new constitution, who tried to make Thomas W. Dorr governor, and the supporters of the old illiberal instrument which greatly restricted the franchise. Dorr was arrested and sentenced to imprisonment for life in 1844, but was released three years later.

Born, 1793; died, 1863. Fought bravely in the Creek War, 1813–1814; congressman from Tennessee, 1823–1827; governor of Tennessee, 1827–1829; migrated to Texas, and was president of Constitutional Convention, 1833; as commander in chief secured the independence of Texas; President of Texas, 1836–1838, and 1841–1844; after securing the annexation of Texas to the United States, represented the state in Congress from 1845 to 1859; elected governor in 1859; resigned in 1861, refusing to espouse the Confederate cause.

Born in North Carolina, 1795; died, 1849. Graduated at University of North Carolina; migrated to Tennessee; congressman, 1825—1829; Speaker of the House, 1835–1839; Governor of Tennessee, 1839–1841; was elected President over Clay, 1844; favored the Mexican War; settled the Oregon controversy; approved the “Walker Tariff,” and vetoed the river and harbor bills of 1846 and 1847.

Tyler and Calhoun had at first thought that the passage of a treaty which would require a two-thirds vote of the Senate, was the proper method of annexation. On the failure of this treaty they took up a suggestion made during the congressional debates and pressed the passage of a joint resolution, which required only a majority of both houses. Such a change was especially curious on the part of strict constructionists.

Territory claimed by Texas
when admitted into the Union,


the administration of polk, 1845–1849.


377. The Issues Involved.—As a Mexican state, Texas had extended on the south and west to the river Nueces; but her inhabitants and the United States insisted on holding to boundaries based on the Louisiana Purchase and on claiming the “country between the Nueces and the Rio Grande.” The Mexicans resisted this claim; and when Polk ordered General Taylor to cross the Nueces, and later to advance to the Rio Grande, they attacked and defeated a small body of the American troops (April 24, 1846). Polk at once sent a message to Congress, in which he declared that war existed, “through the act of Mexico herself.” This statement was, on the whole, unwarranted, although a technical defense was easily made for it. It was really a case of a strong nation’s bullying a weak one; and, as we have seen (§ 353), the bullying had begun under Jackson and had been steadily carried on. But Congress, and a considerable portion of the people, especially in the South, accepted Polk’s proposition, and the war was effectively prosecuted. Its results were probably beneficial, in the main, since the territory was sure to become American some day; but its origin is not a pleasant topic for the patriotic American to dwell upon. Nor is it by any means certain that the Civil War was not in large part precipitated by that against Mexico. The latter contest gave the South a taste for fighting that was not altogether a warrant for the future calm of that section; and the additional territory acquired by the Union opened a new and disastrous phase of the slavery question (§§ 388, 411).


James K. Polk.

378. Conduct of the Administration.—Senator Benton was probably right when he claimed, in his Thirty Years’ View, that there never was a less warlike administration than that of Polk. Polk was thoroughly upright and pious, but was scarcely broad-minded. He took his seat with the intention of carrying out a programme the main feature of which was the acquisition of California. This programme he carried out to the letter, partly because it was a popular one, partly because he had considerable administrative skill. Owing in the main to the discretion of Great Britain, war was averted with that power (§ 376), and Polk could point to a very valuable addition of territory in the extreme Northwest, into which population was already pouring. Tyler had forestalled him with regard to annexing Texas; but Polk could at least see to it that Texas reached the Rio Grande, and that the United States thus recovered territory which some persons believed to have been imprudently abandoned by Monroe in his negotiations with Spain (§ 324). Yet to extend the bounds of Texas and, what was more important, to acquire Upper California, would necessitate a war with Mexico, and for this Polk and his well-chosen Cabinet were prepared. They wanted only a short war, however, and trusted to diplomacy and money to secure them the territory that would give the United States a clear sweep to the Pacific. Hence much of Polk’s warlike attitude was hollow. His main purpose was to obtain money from Congress with which to buy territory, and by diplomatic means to induce Mexico to sell. He actually restored to his native land the exiled Mexican general, Santa Anna, hoping that the latter would, in gratitude, make a speedy peace. But the sly adventurer induced his countrymen to fight the harder; and although California and New Mexico were taken by the Americans without a real struggle, peace with Mexico, and her acquiescence in the results of the war, could be obtained only after long and costly campaigns. Moreover, these campaigns entailed a political result discouraging to Polk and the Democrats.


379. Ambitions of Scott and Taylor.—The leading soldier in the United States was General Winfield Scott, the hero of Lundy’s Lane (§ 309). Military success in a republic generally brings civil honors; and Scott was a Whig, with his eyes already on the Presidency. A Democratic administration could not bring itself to give Scott a chance to distinguish himself, and for some time he was detained at Washington; but his subordinate, General Zachary Taylor,[173] who was at first given command (§ 377), was also Whig in his sympathies. Such being the case, various expedients were suggested; it was even intended to give Senator Benton supreme command, he being a good Democrat and a colonel of the War of 1812. But all schemes failed. Scott was finally sent to the front, and Taylor (§ 389) captured the Whig nomination for the Presidency (1848). Such are some of the intrigues that the historian finds behind the Mexican War. It is little wonder that the Whigs—including old statesmen like Webster, and new statesmen like Abraham Lincoln of Illinois, who was serving his only term as congressman—should have denounced the contest as wrong in itself and as prosecuted in the interests of the slaveholders and land grabbers of the country. It is little wonder, too, as we have seen, that the Mexican War does not live in popular imagination as a heroic struggle (§ 377).


General Zachary Taylor.

380. Taylor’s Victories.—Whatever we may think of the causes of the Mexican War and of the conduct of the American authorities, there can be but one opinion as to the valor with which officers and troops conducted themselves after hostilities had begun. Taylor received notice from the Mexican general, Arista, on April 24, 1846, that his occupation of the northern branch of the Rio Grande meant war. On the same day the first American blood was shed. It was avenged shortly; for, on May 8, Taylor met about six thousand Mexicans at Palo Alto, and defeated them severely with his own small force of about two thousand. The next day he won another complete victory at Resaca de la Palma, and drove the enemy across the Rio Grande. The news of these victories aroused the country and made Taylor a popular hero. He was already much loved by his soldiers, who gave him the nickname of “Rough and Ready,” because of his carelessness of dress and other details and his thorough capability as a commander.


381. Taylor’s Advance toward Mexico.—War was formally declared by the United States on May 13, Congress authorizing the President to call out fifty thousand volunteers and voting ten million dollars for expenses. On May 18, Taylor occupied Matamoras, halting there until September. He then advanced upon Monterey, other officers, military and naval, having meanwhile been occupying New Mexico and Upper California. Monterey fell, after a short siege, on September 24. But Mexico would not yield, although Colonel Doniphan, after a long, hard march, had taken Chihuahua and gained control of the important surrounding region, and although victory had crowned every effort of the Americans.


382. Capture of Vera Cruz.—As a speedy peace was much desired by the administration, it now seemed necessary to send General Scott[174] to the front. It was determined that his forces should sail early in the spring to Vera Cruz, and from that place begin a march to the City of Mexico. He landed at Vera Cruz on March 9, 1847, and after a bombardment took the town twenty days later.


383. Battle of Buena Vista.—Meanwhile Santa Anna, in full command once more, hearing in January that Scott had taken ten thousand troops from Taylor, and believing that Vera Cruz could hold out for some time, determined to make a swift march northward and crush Taylor. It was a daring and probably a good plan, but it failed. Taylor, then some distance from Monterey, was not a whit daunted when, on February 20, he discovered about twelve thousand Mexicans in front of his own five thousand troops. He retired and took up a good position near Buena Vista, refusing Santa Anna’s demand for surrender three days later, and inflicting a severe defeat upon his enemy before the day closed (February 23, 1847). The American loss was about eight hundred, the Mexican over twice as many. The battle settled the fate of the territory that America craved, and, moreover, determined who should be the next President of the United States. Curiously enough, the future President of the Confederate States, who was Taylor’s own son-in-law, also won great distinction at Buena Vista. Jefferson Davis fought with conspicuous bravery, showed much tactical ingenuity, and was severely wounded in this remarkable battle.


General Winfield Scott.

384. Scott’s Great March.—If Taylor’s career had been brilliant, Scott’s was now to be more so. Unfortunately for the latter’s Presidential aspirations, however, Taylor had already caught the attention of the public. Besides, Scott, who was strict with regard to discipline and fond of display,—qualities that earned him the nickname of “Fuss and Feathers,”—was not the man to secure popularity. Before his brilliant campaign was over, he had several unpleasant difficulties with subordinate officers. But, as a general, he showed himself to be fully Taylor’s equal, perhaps his superior. Leaving Vera Cruz, he forced, on April 18, the mountain pass of Cerro Gordo, which had been fortified. It was defended by fifteen thousand Mexicans under Santa Anna, whose courage had not been lessened by his defeat at Buena Vista. Here again the Mexican losses far exceeded the American. Three thousand prisoners were captured, along with a great store of arms and artillery, and three towns were taken. At one of these, Puebla, the army halted for a rest of two months. At the beginning of August the march on the capital was renewed, about eleven thousand men moving forward. By August 18, they were within ten miles of the city, where the enemy made a determined stand. The next day and the day after saw three battles,—Contreras, San Antonio, and Churubusco,—all fought with splendid courage and great success against much larger forces of Mexicans, who fought quite as desperately, but with less skill.


Territory ceded by Mexico,
1848 and 1853

385. The Capture of Mexico.—The Mexicans being dispersed, Scott might have entered the capital, but Polk wished to render negotiations easy, and an armistice was granted in order that terms of peace might be discussed. The American envoy, N. P. Trist, was instructed to ask for New Mexico, the Californias, and the region between the Nueces and the Rio Grande; although he was authorized to drop the demand for Lower California if necessary, and also to offer money for the other territory. The Mexican commissioners would not agree to these proposals, and in their turn offered less than Polk desired. So the armistice was terminated. Then, on September 8, Scott won the brilliant victory of Molino del Rey (“Mill of the King”). Five days later, the heights of Chapultepec, as well as two of the city’s gates, were stormed with great gallantry. On the next day (September 14, 1847) a triumphal entry was made into the Mexican capital, in the defense of which so many gallant men had perished.


386. The Best Feature of the War.—The best feature of the Mexican War was not the splendid territorial booty obtained, nor the remarkable leadership displayed by Scott, Taylor, and their subordinates, but the superior morale of the American troops. As these were in the main volunteers, the conduct of the war was all the more a credit to the nation, especially to the Southern and Southwestern states, where the struggle had been popular. These brave volunteers wiped out whatever disgrace attached to the country from the shameful lack of efficiency shown by the troops of 1812. The war was also important for the training it furnished young officers who were destined to play important parts in the Civil War. “Stonewall” Jackson, McClellan, Grant, Lee, and other generals here first showed the stuff that was in them.


387. Results of the War.—The unequal contest was settled by the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (February 2, 1848). Mexico had to agree to relinquish all her territory north of the Rio Grande and Gila rivers. In compensation for Upper California and New Mexico, the United States allowed her the sum of fifteen million dollars, and undertook to pay some of its own citizens who had claims against Mexico. The territory thus acquired soon threw the country into great political confusion; for certain Northern politicians were determined to prevent, if possible, any extension of slavery in the domain obtained by purchase, even though it lay south of 36° 30′ (§ 329).


388. The Wilmot Proviso.—As early as 1846, Representative David A. Wilmot of Pennsylvania had proposed an amendment to a bill pending, stipulating that no money should be appropriated to purchase territory unless slavery were prohibited therein; and though this amendment, known as the Wilmot Proviso, had failed, the principle involved in it was made the chief feature of the campaign of 1848.


389. Election of 1848.—In this struggle five parties were engaged. Certain disaffected Democrats of New York, known as Barn-burners,[175] a party known as the Free Soilers, and the old Liberty Party of the abolitionists,—all being opposed to the extension of slavery,—finally nominated Van Buren. The Democrats nominated Lewis Cass of Michigan, who advocated what was afterward famous as Popular or Squatter Sovereignty,—that is, the right of the people of each territory to choose whether they would have slavery or not. The Whigs nominated General Zachary Taylor of Louisiana, and placed on the ticket with him Millard Fillmore of New York. Their principles were not pronounced; but Taylor was a Southerner and carried a large part of his section with him, while Van Buren’s vote lost New York to the Democrats. Thus Taylor and Fillmore were elected; but the South soon regretted the fact, for the new President showed himself friendly to the anti-slavery men by urging the admission of California as a free state.

References.General Works: same as for Chapter XIX.

Special Works: same as for Chapters XXII. and XXIII., with the addition of: H. Wilson, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. II., chaps. ii.–iii.; H. H. Bancroft, Pacific States, Vol. VIII.; Winfield Scott, Memoirs; U. S. Grant, Personal Memoirs, Vol. I., chaps, iii.–xiii.

Born in Virginia, 1784; died, 1850. Appointed first lieutenant in the army, 1808; fought in the War of 1812, in the Black Hawk War, and in the war against the Seminoles; was ordered to the disputed territory on the outbreak of the Mexican War, where his numerous victories made him a national hero; was nominated for President over such competitors as Clay and Webster, in 1848, and was elected by a large majority; died before the Compromise of 1850 was adopted.

Born in Virginia, 1786; died, 1866. Graduated at William and Mary College, and entered the army, 1808; distinguished himself in the War of 1812, in consequence of which he was promoted to be brigadier and brevet major general in 1814; became commander in chief of the United States Army in 1841; distinguished himself by the brilliancy of his victories in the Mexican War; was defeated by Pierce for the Presidency in 1852; retired from the army, October, 1861.

An uncomplimentary name given them by their opponents on account of their supposed revolutionary opinions on political matters.

United States—Acquisition of Territory


the administration of taylor and fillmore, 1849–1853.


390. General Conditions.—The period of controversy upon which we are about to enter, was caused by the opposing interests and feelings of the North and South on the subject of slavery. In the early history of the country, the balance of power had been kept even by the alternate admission of free and slave states. But the admission of Texas, and still more, the results of the Mexican War, enlivened the hopes of the South, while the Wilmot Proviso (§ 388) showed that the North was fully aware of the great interests involved in the annexation of any new territory capable of supporting slavery.


391. Claims of the South.—The people of the South, especially those of South Carolina and Mississippi, which had perhaps become the most influential states in political matters, asserted that the Fugitive Slave Law, provided for by the Constitution and enacted into a statute by Congress in 1793, had not been fairly carried out by the people of the North. Southerners also charged the North with a growing tendency to misrepresent, interfere with, and overthrow the institution of slavery, which had been so carefully protected by the Constitution. They saw that the North was growing much more rapidly than the South, and that the time was not far away when the South might be outvoted in Congress, with the result that, by a change of the Constitution, slavery would perhaps be swept entirely away. The circulation of anti-slavery newspapers, especially William Lloyd Garrison’s Liberator, continued to give great offense to the South, and caused laws to be passed by the Southern states prohibiting the distribution of such journals. The feelings thus aroused were further excited by repeated efforts to secure the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia.


392. Claims of the North.—In the North, on the other hand, the feeling was constantly growing that slavery was a moral wrong and a national disgrace. While the people generally disavowed the right to interfere with the institution where it already existed, they were determined to resist legislation which would introduce it into any of the new territories. They also claimed the right to the free expression of their opinion and to the free publication of their views. It was evident that only a definite occasion was needed to bring the sections to a rupture which might precipitate a civil war. This occasion soon came.


Sutter’s Mill, California, where gold was
first discovered.—From an old print.

393. California opens a New Question.—In spite of the growing estrangement of the sections, even the admission of Texas furnished no definite ground for a positive clash. But the acquisition of California introduced a new element into the political situation. Part of the territory was south of the Missouri Compromise line of 36° 30′, and part was north of it. The inhabitants demanded admission to the Union as a state, and the question at once arose whether California should be admitted as a free or a slave state. The Californians asked to be admitted as a free and undivided state. Their demands were all the more weighty because of the newly acquired importance of California in the eyes of the world.


394. California and the Discovery of Gold.—California was a beautiful region which offered many advantages besides that of rounding out American territory on the Pacific. Its climate was delightful; its soil fertile and capable of varied productions; its forests were valuable. But a greater source of wealth was soon discovered. In January, 1848, an American mechanic named Marshall, in the employ of a Swiss named Sutter, found gold in a mill-race near the Sacramento River. The secret was not kept, and soon every industry in the region was abandoned and thousands of men were washing sand and digging gold out of the cliffs. The news reached Washington late in 1848, and the next year saw a rush for California, the like of which had never been known before. Some adventurers made the long journey overland in caravans formed of vehicles of every sort. Others tried the dangerous voyage around Cape Horn. Others went by ship to Panama, crossed the Isthmus, and took their chances of getting a vessel on the Pacific side. Arrived in California, these “Forty-niners,” as they have since been called, plunged into the wild, exciting life described so well by Bret Harte. Soon a population large enough to demand statehood was assembled, and California began to play its great part in national affairs.[176]

The Compromise of 1850


Henry Clay (1847).

395. Doctrines of Clay, Webster, and Calhoun.—There was naturally much excitement over the demand of the Californians, and declarations of a purpose to secede were often heard in Southern conventions. It was for the purpose of bringing the North and the South nearer together, and preventing such a catastrophe, that Henry Clay, the author of the Second Missouri Compromise, now came forward with the famous Compromise of 1850. Before introducing it, he had an interview with Daniel Webster and secured the promise of the latter’s support. The debate on the subject was one of the most memorable in the history of Congress. Clay, in one of the greatest of his speeches, described the dangers of the situation and pointed out that national disaster could be averted only by a reasonable yielding on both sides. Calhoun, nearing his grave, and too feeble even to read his speech, was brought into the Senate in a chair to hear his speech read by a colleague. Reiterating his doctrine of the constitutional right of secession, he maintained that a continuance of the present conditions was impossible. But the greatest interest was concentrated upon Webster. He was universally regarded as the foremost statesman in the North. Though he had often deplored the existence of slavery, and always opposed its extension, his views on the matter of the Compromise now presented were not generally known, and the declaration of his position was awaited with intense anxiety. His speech on Clay’s measure, since commonly referred to as the “Seventh of March Speech,” cast the great weight of his powerful influence in favor of the Compromise. His act was much criticised in the North, and he was freely accused of seeking favor with the Southerners in order to secure their help in the approaching Presidential election, when he expected to be a candidate. But Webster had always been a stanch advocate of the Union, and there was nothing in his present course that was inconsistent with the positions he had uniformly held. The feeling against him, however, became, in many quarters of the North, intensely bitter.


William H. Seward.
[By courtesy of G. P. Putnam’s Sons.]

396. Presidential Policy changed by Death of Taylor.—Before the final passage of the Compromise measures, President Taylor died, July 9, 1850, and was succeeded by the Vice President, Millard Fillmore. Taylor, although a Southerner, had been very largely influenced by William H. Seward,[177] a senator from New York, who had led with great ability the opposition to the Compromise. Taylor did not have a strong Cabinet, and was untrained as a statesman, but he showed, in his short administration, great common sense and firmness, and, had he lived, might have prevailed on Congress to adopt a policy toward California less tortuous than that involved in Clay’s Compromise. Fillmore,[178] who succeeded to the Presidency, although a good man, was not a strong one, and had not been on friendly terms with his fellow New Yorker, Seward. In making up his Cabinet, he made Webster Secretary of State in place of Clayton, of Delaware, and leaned upon the former for advice. The policy of the administration was thus so completely changed that the weight of its influence was at once thrown in favor of the adoption and rigid enforcement of the Compromise legislation.

Millard Fillmore.


397. The Compromise of 1850.—The resolutions introduced by Clay were much amended in the course of their consideration, but in final form, as adopted in September, 1850, they covered the following provisions:—

1. California was to be admitted as a free state.

2. New Mexico and Utah were to be organized as territories without any restriction or condition in regard to slavery.

3. The slave trade was to be abolished within the District of Columbia.

4. A Fugitive Slave Law, stringent enough to satisfy the South, was to be passed.

5. Texas was to receive the price she demanded for the land ceded to New Mexico (§ 394, note).


398. New Fugitive Slave Law.—That part of the Compromise which provided for a Fugitive Slave Law was so stringent in its provisions that it defeated its own end, by arousing so vigorous an opposition in the North that it could not be enforced. It had been made retroactive, in order that slaves who had taken refuge in the North before the passage of the act might be seized by United States marshals, and, without trial by jury, forcibly taken to their old masters. This feature of the law had an instantaneous effect on public opinion. It soon came to be seen that the people would not permit men and women who, as they said, had become free by living in a free state, to be taken back into slavery. The law was frustrated in many ways, the framers having overlooked one special weakness in it. Though fugitives were not to be entitled to trial by jury, the right of such a trial was not taken from the rescuers. Many a fugitive was seized from the United States marshals, and the rescuers, when tried, were acquitted by jury.[179] New laws, known as Personal Safety Acts, designed to protect fugitives and frustrate the operation of the Fugitive Slave Law, were passed by the New England states and by New York, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa. These were specially referred to as a cause of complaint in the South Carolina Act of Secession. For these various reasons, the number of slaves actually returned was very small, and both sections were dissatisfied with the result.


399. “The Underground Railroad.”—There was also organized a system to assist fugitives to escape to Canada, where they could not be arrested. Stations were established, generally at private houses, where runaway slaves could be concealed in the daytime and helped forward to the next station in the night. The founder of this system was Levi Coffin, a Quaker living near Philadelphia, who for several years helped into freedom as many as one hundred slaves a year. This system, known as the “Underground Railroad,” gradually extended from the East as far west as the Missouri river. Thus, while the Fugitive Slave Law greatly inflamed the North, the ways in which it was frustrated greatly inflamed the South.


400. New Leaders.—Soon after the passage of this obnoxious law, Calhoun, Clay, and Webster died. They were succeeded in influence by younger men, of more strenuous beliefs and methods. Of these William H. Seward of New York, Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, and Salmon P. Chase of Ohio were prominent representatives of the anti-slavery element, while Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, William L. Yancey of Alabama, and Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia were the most influential leaders on the other side.


401. The Clayton-Bulwer Treaty.—Although the Compromise of 1850 overshadows every other event of the period covered by this chapter, it should not absorb the student’s entire attention. Early in General Taylor’s administration, certain international affairs of importance became pressing. In 1826, the matter of a ship canal across Nicaragua or Panama had been advocated by Henry Clay. “The benefits of such a canal,” Clay wrote, “ought not to be exclusively appropriated to any one nation, but should be extended to all parts of the globe.” In the course of the following twenty years, Jackson and Polk often reverted to the subject in the same general spirit. When John M. Clayton of Delaware entered upon his duties as Taylor’s Secretary of State, he found that the question demanded immediate consideration, for the reason that two capitalists, one American and one British, were contemplating the construction of such a canal across Nicaragua. The result was that on April 19, 1850, what is known as the “Clayton-Bulwer Treaty” was signed in Washington by Secretary Clayton and Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer, the British Minister. The treaty provided that the two powers should guarantee the neutrality and security of the canal when completed, and they invited all friendly states to enter into similar stipulations with them, “for the benefit of mankind, on equal terms to all.” This treaty was afterward to be the subject of not a little embarrassment (§ 680).


402. Railways and Steamships.—The passage of the Compromise of 1850 seemed to promise peace with regard to slavery; but the aid given by the South to attempts to conquer Cuba, especially those of Narciso Lopez,[180] proved to thoughtful minds that sectional strife had been allayed, not completely suppressed. Yet even then American industry and enterprise were forging links of union against which sectional strife could not long prevail. Before 1852, over ten thousand miles of railway track had been laid in the United States, mainly in New England, the Middle states, and the Northwest. The New York and Erie road became a rival of the famous Erie Canal, and its completion in the spring of 1851 was the occasion of a Railway Jubilee, which was attended by Fillmore and his Cabinet. Later in the year, a similar celebration was held in Boston. On the ocean, also, speedier transportation was obtained. The British Cunard Line and the American Collins Line ran races for Europe, and travel was considerably stimulated. On the inland waters navigation increased rapidly; but, owing to a lack of proper inspection, many steamers took fire and great loss of life ensued. The spread of the telegraph over the country also brought distant points into contact in a way that would have been deemed incredible a generation before.


403. Kossuth’s Visit.—The great growth in population, the acquisition of vast territories, the surprising industrial and commercial development, were not only uniting the people of America, but were stimulating their emotional nature. The quiet, staid country of two generations before no longer existed. Popular furores became possible and a love of the spectacular was developed. Barnum, the showman, laid the foundations of his fortune. Newspapers rivaled one another in securing news quickly. International yacht races were begun. Distinguished men went on lecture tours through the country. Great authors and actors came from abroad to receive American hospitality and applause. There were women’s rights conventions and agitations in behalf of temperance.[181] But all these elements of excitement were thrown into the shade by the visit of Louis Kossuth, the great Hungarian orator who had vainly attempted to secure the independence of his native land and was now an exile. Invited by Congress, Kossuth late in 1851 reached the United States, on the man-of-war Mississippi. He was received with an enthusiasm unequaled in our history, save on the occasion of Lafayette’s visit. Receptions were given him in all the chief cities, and he astonished his hearers by the ease and power with which he spoke English. But he made the mistake of trying to persuade the people that the policy of non-interference in European affairs, established by Washington, was an erroneous one. A few politicians, for party purposes, seconded his proposal that the United States should intervene in behalf of Hungary. But the nation at large held aloof from him; the novelty of his visit wore off; and the great orator returned to Europe a disappointed man.


Franklin Pierce.

404. The Campaign of 1852.—The next excitement was caused by the Presidential campaign. The Democratic convention held at Baltimore,—the most convenient convention city in those days,—after much balloting, set aside the chief candidates, Cass of Michigan, Douglas of Illinois, Buchanan of Pennsylvania, and Marcy of New York, and chose General Franklin Pierce[182] of New Hampshire, a man who hitherto had attracted little attention. He had served in the Mexican War, and was upright in character; but he possessed a mind little capable of guiding the country in the great crisis that was approaching. His friendship with Jefferson Davis and other Southern leaders foretold his alliance with the advocates of slavery; but as people thought the slavery question settled by the Compromise of 1850, this did not interfere with his chances at the polls. William R. King of Alabama was nominated for Vice President, and the Democrats went into the campaign with great hopes of success. On the other hand, the Whigs were divided and depressed. After a hard struggle, Fillmore—who had made many enemies by signing the Fugitive Slave Law—and Daniel Webster had to yield the nomination to General Winfield Scott, who was far from popular. Shortly afterward, the deaths of Clay and Webster (who was bitterly disappointed and hostile to Scott) robbed the party of its real leaders; important Southern Whigs held aloof from Scott; the Free Soil party put up candidates of its own; and the hero of the march to Mexico was badly beaten by a younger and inferior man. Pierce had two hundred and fifty-four electoral votes to Scott’s forty-two. The ambiguous attitude of the Whigs toward the slavery question had hopelessly split the party asunder. Scott’s personal unpopularity also partly accounts for the overwhelming character of the defeat suffered by the Whigs; and doubtless there was a general desire to give the Compromise a fair chance under the Democrats, who heartily favored it.

References.—See end of Chapter XXVI.

Meanwhile, New Mexico attracted little attention, except so far as part of her territory was claimed by Texas. This claim, in the support of which much sectional spirit was shown, but in which President Taylor displayed great firmness and devotion to the Union, was finally compromised. In December, 1853, by what is known as the Gadsden Purchase, about 45,000 square miles were acquired from Mexico, and the southern boundary of the United States was rounded off.

Born in New York, 1801; died, 1872. Graduated at Union College, 1820; began practice as a lawyer at Auburn; was sent to state Senate, 1830; was defeated for governor in 1834, but was successful, 1839–1843; entered the United States Senate, 1849; became prominent as an anti-slavery leader; delivered famous speeches on “Higher Law,” and on “Irrepressible Conflict,” 1858; was Lincoln’s chief rival for the Republican nomination in 1860; Secretary of State under Lincoln and Johnson, 1861–1869; was wounded by conspirators at the time of Lincoln’s assassination; opposed Reconstruction by Congress; secured the cession of Alaska, 1867.

Born in New York, 1800; died, 1874. Worked on a farm and as an apprentice; studied law; admitted to the bar in Erie County, 1823; sent to legislature, 1828; removed to Buffalo in 1830, and won reputation as a lawyer; in Congress, 1832–1834, 1836–1842; largely instrumental in framing and passing tariff of 1842; defeated for governor of New York, 1844; comptroller of State of New York, 1847–1849; elected Vice President, 1848; became President, July 10, 1850; failed of re-nomination and retired from politics, 1852.

One of the most famous cases of resistance to the law occurred in Boston in May, 1854. A negro named Anthony Burns was arrested as a fugitive slave. Before his final examination by the United States Commissioner took place, a mass meeting to protest against his surrender to the person claiming him as a slave was held in Faneuil Hall. A premature attempt was made to rescue him and several persons were wounded. Finally, when the Commissioner ordered his surrender, many houses were draped in black and a riot was with difficulty averted. Burns eventually became a Baptist clergyman in Canada.

In 1849, 1850, and 1851. In the last attempt, Lopez was taken and executed.

The “Maine Liquor Law” went into effect in 1851.

Born in New Hampshire, 1804; died, 1869. Graduated at Bowdoin College, where he studied with Hawthorne and Longfellow; became a lawyer and member of the Legislature; congressman, 1833–1837; United States senator, 1837–1842; declined a Cabinet offer from President Polk; volunteered in the Mexican War, and as brigadier general showed bravery and skill; was president of the state Constitutional Convention in 1850; was nominated for President of the United States on the forty-ninth ballot, and elected in 1852; was defeated for renomination in 1856.


the administration of pierce, 1853–1857.


Caleb Cushing.

405. Character of Pierce’s Administration.—The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill and the war in Kansas are the most important features of Pierce’s administration (§§ 411-414). The new President, being amiable and weak, yielded to the counsels of Jefferson Davis and Caleb Cushing[183] of his Cabinet, and took a strong pro-slavery position, with the result that he speedily lost his popularity, save in the South. At first, however, he pleased most of his fellow-citizens, especially on such occasions as his visit to the World’s Fair at New York in 1853, where he made a glowing speech. But although Pierce himself is almost forgotten, his administration is of great importance to the student, since its leading events and measures were most instrumental in bringing on the Civil War.


406. The Know-Nothings.—Pierce’s administration was distinguished by the rise of a new, short-lived party, which for a time caused apprehension in the older organizations, and had much to do with the overthrow of the Whigs. This was the American party, which became prominent in 1852. Its members were popularly known as “Know-Nothings,” because, being bound by oath to reveal nothing concerning their organization, they always answered inquiries in this negative fashion. It had “lodges,” which sent delegates to secret nominating conventions, and its strength could not be gauged before an election. Its chief object was to prevent foreigners from being too easily and speedily naturalized and to elect native-born Americans to office. Similar organizations had existed before and have been developed since; but the American people have never long tolerated illiberal and secret parties. The Know-Nothings carried some state elections and put candidates in the field for the campaign of 1856, but they soon after disappeared from the political stage. The party furnished a refuge to many Whigs, particularly from the South, for it was neutral on the slavery question. Its growth was accelerated by the bad influence on local politics, especially in New York City, exerted by the crowds of ignorant foreigners who sought our shores after the Revolution of 1848 and the great Irish famine. Nothing could have been more disgraceful than the corrupt municipal government of New York City about this time, and many citizens feared that the rest of the country would be contaminated.


407. Attempts to Secure Cuba.—Attempts to seize territory to the south in the interests of slavery, continued during Pierce’s administration. In 1853, a bold adventurer named William Walker gathered rash followers and made an attack on Lower California, which completely failed. The next year, leading Southerners like General Quitman, an adopted citizen of Mississippi and a distinguished soldier in the Mexican War, tried to secure Cuba by forcing the United States into a war with Spain on account of the confiscation of an American steamer, The Black Warrior. This attempt was merged in the intrigues that produced the Ostend Manifesto.


408. The Ostend Manifesto.—On the 16th of August, 1854, William L. Marcy, Pierce’s Secretary of State, wrote to Pierre Soulé, the American minister at Madrid, that “much advantage might accrue from an interchange of views between himself, Buchanan, and Mason” (the Ministers to Great Britain and France) “in regard to the acquisition of Cuba.” Accordingly, these three Ministers met at Ostend, Belgium, and after a conference of a few days, promulgated the paper known as the “Ostend Manifesto” (October 18, 1854). They declared, first, that Cuba should belong to the United States; second, that the government might well offer for the island the sum of one hundred and twenty million dollars; and third, that if Spain would not accept this sum, the matter of conquest ought to be considered. The manifesto was generally well received in the South, but in the North it was characterized as “the manifesto of brigands.”


409. Filibustering.—Soon Central America attracted the filibusters, as these adventurous invaders of peaceable states were called. In 1854 a little place named Greytown, on the Mosquito coast, was bombarded by an American ship for no very good reason. The next year, Walker interfered in a revolution in Nicaragua, and for a while got control of the state by making a creature of his, named Rivas, president. The new government was recognized by Pierce, but was shortly after overthrown.[184]


410. Perry’s Expedition.—Although the disgraceful actions of the filibusters and the war in Kansas seem to mark Pierce’s administration as a thoroughly discreditable one, it was not without bright features. In 1854 a commercial treaty with Japan was secured as the result of a naval expedition which had been sent out in 1852 under Commodore Matthew C. Perry. This treaty, which was promulgated in 1855, is memorable as opening a place for Japan among the great nations of the world.

Areas of Freedom and Slavery in 1854


411. Disappointment of the South: Kansas-Nebraska Bill.—The South was not only unable to secure Cuba and other slave territory, but could not help seeing that the advantage it had anticipated from the Fugitive Slave Law could never be realized. Some new measure was necessary, or all the benefits of the Compromise would go to the North. Such a measure presented itself in the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, put forward by Senator Douglas of Illinois. This bill was framed on the untenable theory that the Missouri Compromise had been overthrown by the Compromise of 1850, and that the provision that slavery could not exist north of 36° 30′ was no longer binding. In accordance with this theory, the author of the bill proposed that the Missouri Compromise should be declared “inoperative and void as being inconsistent with the principle of non-intervention by Congress with slavery in the states and territories.” It was also proposed that all the lands of the Louisiana Purchase north of 36° 30′ should be organized as territories and in due time should be admitted as states, either free or slave, as the voters of each territory might determine. The great question was thus to be settled, not by United States law, but by what came to be called “Popular Sovereignty.”


412. Indignation of the North.—The bill aroused the greatest political agitation the country had ever known, for the opponents of the measure took the ground that it turned over to possible slavery a vast tract that had forever been dedicated to freedom. They said it was an outrageous violation of contract to take away half of the Missouri Compromise, when the advocates of slavery had enjoyed the advantage of the other half, as they had in the admission of Missouri as a slave state above the line of 36° 30′. The bill was opposed with the utmost vigor by Seward, Sumner, and other anti-slavery leaders, but it was passed and became a law, May 30, 1854.


413. Occupation of Kansas.—Now began a race for the settlement of the new territory, as the only possible way in which freedom could be protected. As Kansas bordered on Missouri, it was evident that here was to be the battle ground. Slave owners from Missouri rushed in to take possession of the soil, but the people of the North were not slow to see the danger. An Emigrant Aid Society was quickly organized in Massachusetts, by Eli Thayer, to encourage and fit out emigrants to the new territory. Though the slaveholders were first in the field, people from the North soon followed in ever increasing numbers. Party spirit ran so high that collisions were inevitable. There was universal disorder and some bloodshed. Guerrilla bands of both parties wandered over the country and fought wherever they met. On the 21st of May, 1856, the town of Lawrence, the headquarters of the anti-slavery party, was attacked by marauders from Missouri, popularly known as “Border Ruffians,” and several of the most important buildings were sacked and burned. Three days later, a deliberately planned massacre of slave owners was perpetrated in retaliation, at Pottawatomie, by an anti-slavery band led by John Brown.


414. Advantages of the North in the Contest.—The anti-slavery cause was helped by the unusual severity of the winter of 1855–1856, which made it evident that slavery could not prosper in Kansas. The largest slaveholder in the territory was obliged, with his own hands, to cut and haul wood to keep his negroes warm, and even then one of them froze to death in his bed. Meanwhile, the Free State men increased rapidly in numbers.


Charles Sumner.

415. Assault upon Sumner.—While the Kansas question was raising to a white heat all sections of the country, an event occurred to intensify the excitement. In the course of the long debate in Congress on the Kansas troubles, Charles Sumner,[185] on the 19th and 20th of May, 1856, delivered his celebrated speech, “The Crime against Kansas.” It was the most terrible philippic ever uttered in the Senate, and it exasperated the men of the South beyond measure. Particularly severe was Sumner’s attack on Senator Butler, of South Carolina. Two days after the delivery of this speech, Sumner was writing a letter at his desk, after the Senate had adjourned, when he was approached by Preston S. Brooks, from South Carolina, a nephew of Butler and a member of the House of Representatives. Brooks struck Sumner repeated blows on the head with a cane and felled him to the floor. The injuries Sumner received affected his spine and were so serious that it was more than three years before he could be restored to a fair amount of vigor. While, in the South, a few persons deprecated the assault, Brooks was welcomed by the masses as a hero. In the North the attack was universally condemned, and stirred the deepest indignation. An effort was made in the House of Representatives to expel Brooks, but only one Southerner voted for his expulsion, and the motion failed to receive the necessary two-thirds majority. A severe vote of censure, however, was passed by a large majority; whereupon Brooks resigned his place, and appealed to his constituents for indorsement and reëlection. In the election that followed, only six votes were cast against him. The speech, the assault, and the indorsement of Brooks inflamed every part of the country.


416. Origin of the Republican Party.—It was during the excitement that followed the assault on Sumner that politicians prepared for the coming Presidential election of 1856. The overwhelming defeat of the Whigs at the election in 1852 seemed at the time to give the Democrats a long lease of power. In reality, they soon found themselves confronted by political foes more determined than the Whigs. The old Whig party had been shattered by differences on the question of slavery. Evidently there was call for a new party on the great questions now at issue, and the Republican party was the result. At a political meeting held at Ripon, Wisconsin, in May, 1854, it was resolved that another party should be formed and that it should be called “Republican.” It is generally admitted that the first formal adoption of the name, which was probably due to a suggestion of Horace Greeley, and the publication of an elaborate platform were the work of a convention held at Jackson, Michigan, on the 6th of July following. The new party designation was immediately adopted by state conventions in Maine, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa. So extremely vigorous was the organization of the Republicans, that, in the fall of 1854, they elected enough members to control the House of Representatives and chose as Speaker, Nathaniel P. Banks, of Massachusetts. The first National Convention of the party was held at Pittsburgh on February 22, 1856; but it was not until June 17, at Philadelphia, that a platform was adopted and candidates for the Presidency and Vice Presidency were chosen. The platform declared that “the Constitution confers upon Congress sovereign power over the Territories of the United States for their government, and that in the exercise of this power, it is both the right and the imperative duty of Congress to prohibit in the Territories those twin relics of barbarism, polygamy and slavery.” Upon the stand thus taken, the Republicans soon secured political supremacy in the North and West.


John C. Frémont.

417. The Campaign of 1856.—The Republicans nominated John C. Frémont[186] of California, a famous explorer of the West, for President, and William L. Dayton of New Jersey for Vice President. The Democrats, shelving the now unpopular Pierce, nominated James Buchanan,[187]—a weak character, far past the prime of life, but a man who had held high positions and was likely to carry the important state of Pennsylvania. John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky was chosen as Buchanan’s running mate. Buchanan won at the polls, securing one hundred and seventy-four electoral votes to Frémont’s one hundred and fourteen. But the Republicans had made a better fight than any new party had ever done before and had carried most of the Northern and some of the Western states. It was evident that the country was being divided sectionally in politics,—the North and West being destined to become more and more anti-slavery, or Republican, the South to be overwhelmingly pro-slavery, or Democratic. Many persons, especially in the South, argued that this state of things would warrant a dissolution of the Union, since the North and West combined might be strong enough to interfere with slavery in the states.

References.—See end of Chapter XXVI.

Born in Massachusetts, 1800; died, 1879. Graduated at Harvard, 1817; studied law, served in the legislature, and traveled in Europe; congressman, 1834–1843; ceased to be a Whig and supported Tyler, soon affiliating himself with the Democrats; served in Mexican War and became brigadier general; appointed Judge of Massachusetts Supreme Court but soon resigned to become Attorney-General under Pierce; held other offices of importance, among them the mission to Spain (1874–77); wrote several books and was a man of unquestioned ability, although his change of politics and Southern sympathies brought upon him much criticism.

Walker made another attempt in 1857, but was arrested at Greytown and brought to the United States for trial. President Buchanan being himself desirous of acquisitions of territory to the south, and the pro-slavery leaders openly favoring Walker, the latter was not punished. In 1860 he made another descent on the Central American coast. This time he was captured, tried, and shot.

Born in Boston, 1811; died, 1874. Graduated at Harvard, 1830; studied law; traveled in Europe and became noted as an anti-slavery orator, 1830–1850; helped organize the Free Soil Party in 1848; was elected United States senator in 1851; became the foremost anti-slavery advocate in the Senate, attracting universal attention by his speeches, “Freedom National; Slavery Sectional,” and “The Crime against Kansas”; assaulted by Preston S. Brooks of South Carolina (May 22, 1856); was twice reëlected to the Senate; broke with Grant and Republican senators after delivering a violent speech against President Grant, and was removed from chairmanship of Committee on Foreign Affairs, 1871; supported Greeley, in 1872; gave his last efforts to securing civil rights for colored citizens of the South.

Born in Georgia, 1818; died, 1890. Was educated in Charleston, S.C.; served a short term in the navy, then joined the United States Topographical Engineers, and explored a part of the Rocky Mountains in 1842; explored, with great energy and skill, Utah, the basin of the Columbia, and the passes of the Sierra Nevada, 1843–1844; conducted other explorations from the Santa Fé to Sacramento and in Southern California, from 1846 to 1854, and gained for himself the title of “Pathfinder”; was nominated and defeated for President in 1856; commanded in Missouri in 1861, and in Virginia in 1862, without great success.

Born in Pennsylvania, 1791; died, 1868. Graduated from Dickinson College in 1809; studied law; congressman from Pennsylvania, 1821–1831; Minister to Russia, 1831–1833; member of the United States Senate, 1833–1845; Secretary of State, 1845–1849; candidate for President, 1852; Minister to England, 1853–1856; President of the United States, 1857–1861, during which time his temporizing policy was severely criticised.


the administration of buchanan, 1857–1861.


Roger B. Taney.

418. Dred Scott Decision.—Two days after Buchanan’s inauguration, the Supreme Court rendered a decision that had a tremendous influence on public opinion with regard to the question of slavery. A colored man, Dred Scott by name, was held as a slave in Missouri, but having been taken by his master into Illinois and Minnesota, he brought suit in a United States court to establish his freedom. The question finally reached the Supreme Court, where a decision was rendered March 6, 1857. The court held:—

1. That negroes had not been regarded as citizens by the framers of the Constitution, and that, therefore, they could not bring suit in a United States court.

2. That the Constitution recognizes the right of property in slaves, and recognizes no difference between such property and any other, and that therefore Congress could not limit the right of property in slaves, even in the territories.

3. That the Missouri Compromise, limiting the right of property in slaves, was unconstitutional, and therefore null and void; and that, therefore, slave owners could carry their slaves into any part of the territories, and hold them as such without regard to the line established by the Missouri Compromise.

The opinion was rendered by Chief Justice Taney,[188] and was assented to by a majority of the court. Justices McLean and Curtis, however, dissented, and Curtis presented an elaborate dissenting opinion. The importance of the decision lay in the fact that it was an authoritative approval by the Supreme Court of views advanced by Calhoun, and generally indorsed by the South.


419. The Dissenting Opinion.—The North, naturally, accepted the views of the dissenting opinion, which held:—

1. That free negroes had been citizens before the adoption of the Constitution.

2. That the Constitution had not limited the rights of such negroes as citizens.

3. That as many as seven Acts had been passed by Congress limiting slavery in the territories, and that these Acts had been assented to by Presidents who had been in the Constitutional Convention.

4. That the constitutionality of these Acts had never been questioned.

5. That the validity of the Missouri Compromise was not before the court, and that the dissenting Justices did “not hold any opinion of this court, or any court, binding when expressed on a question not legitimately before it.”


420. Influence of the Decision.—The far-reaching effects of this decision were at once apparent. The Republican party had been organized on the fundamental avowal that it was the duty of Congress to keep slavery out of the territories (§ 416). But if Congress had no constitutional right to interfere with slavery in the territories, the Republican party could have no right to exist. The decision also shattered Douglas’s doctrine of Popular Sovereignty; for, if Congress had no right to exclude slavery, it could not confer such a right upon the territorial legislature. The South asked, “What are you going to do about it?” The North virtually replied that it adopted the view of Justice Curtis and rejected the decision as of no binding force. Many persons in the North accepted a doctrine that had some time before been promulgated by Mr. Seward,—that there is a “higher law” of right and morality than that of the Constitution.


421. Abolition Orators.—Public feeling during these years was much intensified in the North by the political speeches delivered by accomplished orators in various parts of the country. The most prominent of these speakers was Wendell Phillips of Boston, who gave his life chiefly to anti-slavery agitation and exerted a vast influence. His work was supplemented effectively by the speeches of Theodore Parker, George William Curtis, Theodore Tilton, Anna Dickinson, and others.


Harriet Beecher Stowe.[189]

422. Two Important Books.—In the course of this agitation, public opinion was greatly affected by the appearance of two very important books on the subject of slavery. Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin appeared in 1852. Its object was to represent the horrors of slavery, and it proved to be one of the most influential novels ever published. Though it was intended to represent slavery in the strongest possible light, the picture was somewhat relieved for the people of the South by the fact that the worst characters in the book were “renegades” from the North. Over three hundred thousand copies were sold within a year of its publication, and in the course of five years it had powerfully inflamed the feelings of all the Northern people. In 1857, appeared H. R. Helper’s Impending Crisis of the South. It was written by a representative of the “poor white” class of North Carolina, whose purpose was to arraign slavery from the point of view of the Southern free white laborer. The author described Southern society, and showed how slavery had reduced the poorer white people to a condition of abject misery. The book did much to arouse the fears of the Southern slave owners.


423. Buchanan’s Weakness.—Meanwhile, President Buchanan had been showing in many ways that he did not realize the gravity of the situation. He was an old man and inclined to rely on Democratic leaders of strong pro-slavery proclivities. Thus, although himself a Northerner, he had little support from his own section. His Cabinet contained four Southerners, while the Secretary of State, General Cass, was a sympathizer with the Southern attitude toward the slavery question. Eventually this Cabinet was broken up and a stronger one obtained (§ 441), but not before many of the departments, especially those of War and of the Treasury, were reduced to a state of great disorganization. Indeed, so badly were the finances of the nation managed, that treasury notes had to be issued in order that national insolvency might be avoided. Yet more than once President Buchanan proposed to Congress that Cuba should be purchased, and recommended other rash legislation, which, if carried out, would probably have led to a war with Mexico and the states of Central America.


James Buchanan.

424. Affairs in Kansas.—One of Buchanan’s most important appointments was that of Robert J. Walker of Mississippi, who had been Secretary of the Treasury under Polk, as governor of Kansas. Walker understood that he was to cease trying to force slavery upon the Kansas settlers, but was rather to attempt to make the territory a state favorable to the Democrats. On this understanding he succeeded in inducing the friends of freedom to vote for members of the territorial legislature, with the result that they obtained a clear majority in that body. But the slavery advocates, at a convention held at Lecompton, adopted a constitution favoring slavery, with a proviso that the article relating to the institution was the only one that should be submitted to the people for ratification. Fearing some trick, the Free State people stayed away from the polls, and the Lecompton constitution was easily carried by a partisan vote. Walker then went to Washington in order to protest against conduct which, it was believed, was connived at by the administration. He found that Buchanan and his advisers were hearty advocates of the Lecompton constitution, whereupon he resigned his governorship.


425. Failure of the Lecompton Scheme.—Meanwhile, the Free State legislature of Kansas had submitted the whole Lecompton constitution to the people, and it had been rejected by over eleven thousand majority. Yet Buchanan, in a special message to Congress, urged the admission of Kansas as a state under the obnoxious instrument. A long and fierce debate was the result, Senator Douglas, to his credit, standing out against the majority of his party. The pro-slavery Democrats were obstinate, in spite of many warnings, and pushed matters to a vote. The administration’s measure for making Kansas a slave state passed the Senate, but failed in the House. Later a discreditable bill attempting to bribe Kansas to come in under the pro-slavery constitution passed Congress; but the Kansas people refused by a large majority to enter the Union hampered by slavery, even if they could thereby acquire a large grant of public lands. The bill which offered Kansas this bribe was popularly known as “Lecompton Junior.” After it was rejected by the Kansans, affairs in the region became comparatively quiet. The territory was not finally admitted as a state until 1861.


426. The Mormons.—Buchanan was more successful in his dealings with the Mormons of Utah. This religious sect was founded in 1830 by their Prophet, Joseph Smith, and was forced to move steadily westward from the State of New York. They settled first in Ohio, then in Illinois, where in 1840 they founded the town of Nauvoo. These Latter-Day Saints, as they were called, soon had troubles, without great fault of their own, with the authorities of Illinois, in the course of which Smith was arrested. Shortly after he was shot by a mob (June 21, 1844). Brigham Young was chosen leader of the new church in the Prophet’s place, and the next year the Mormons left Illinois. After many vicissitudes, a settlement was made in Utah, and Salt Lake City was founded in 1848. The next year, Young was elected governor of Deseret, as the territory was first named. In 1850 Congress established the Territory of Utah, and, in 1851, Young became its authorized governor. In 1852 he proclaimed polygamy to be a tenet of the Mormon church. This and other causes led to difficulties with judges and other officers of the United States, who in consequence left Utah.


427. Buchanan’s Management of the Mormon Difficulty.—Affairs soon reached such a pass as to require the removal of Brigham Young from his position as territorial governor, the Mormon desperadoes, under the name of Danites, or “destroying angels,” having inaugurated a small reign of terror. Buchanan supported the newly appointed governor, Alfred Cumming, with forces under General Albert Sidney Johnston, who was much harassed, however, by the destruction of his supply trains. Congress hesitated to give the President all the troops needed, for fear he might use them in Kansas; but he managed the affair well, notwithstanding, and with augmented forces and judicious pardons secured comparative tranquillity in Utah before the summer of 1858. But Congress still refused to give so strange a sect the right either to form a state or to elect their own officers.[190]


Stephen A. Douglas.

428. Lincoln and Douglas.—The people of the settled portions of the country were more interested in a picturesque political campaign than in the pacification of a far-off territory. The term of Senator Douglas was to expire in 1859, and he appealed to public opinion in Illinois for reëlection. The Republicans put forward Abraham Lincoln as their representative to oppose him. The men were unlike in almost every respect. Douglas[191] in early life had come from Vermont to Illinois, where he had risen to distinction as a lawyer and a debater. In public speech he was keen, ingenious, and powerful, and his leadership of the movement in behalf of Popular Sovereignty had given him a national reputation. Lincoln,[192] on the other hand, had been born to the most abject poverty in Kentucky, and in early life had moved with his parents to Indiana, and then to Illinois. In his boyhood he had lived in a log hut, and had picked up almost the whole of his education by reading and study at odd moments. At length he studied law, and, though never a learned lawyer, he early showed remarkable power in discovering the turning point of a case, and presenting it with such clearness and force that he was very successful. By a careful study of a few of the best writers, he made himself a master of accurate and powerful English speech. He also became very skillful as a judge of human nature and in the art of persuading an audience. To these great qualities he added the still greater one of an honesty and integrity of thought and character so pronounced and transparent that he was generally respected and loved. At the time of this senatorial contest, Lincoln was forty-nine years of age; Douglas was forty-five.


429. The Lincoln-Douglas Debates.—In the spring of 1858, Lincoln challenged Douglas to a series of public debates on the great questions of the day. They arranged for seven meetings in different parts of Illinois, and those meetings are memorable for the thoroughness with which questions then agitating the nation were discussed. Lincoln at the outset announced the Republican doctrine that slavery was entitled to the protection of Congress where it existed, but that it could and ought to be prevented from going into the territories where it did not already exist. Douglas, throughout the discussion, held that the Dred Scott Decision was binding, and tried to reconcile it with the notion of Popular Sovereignty. Lincoln very shrewdly saw the impossibility of reconciling these two views, and used his advantage with great skill and vigor.

A Typical Pioneer’s Cabin.
Built by Lincoln’s father when he moved to Illinois.


430. The Freeport Doctrine.—The turning point in the debates was at Freeport, where Lincoln put to Douglas this question: “Can the people of a United States territory, in any legal way, against the will of any citizen of the United States, exclude slavery from its limits prior to the formation of a state constitution?” The Republican committee managing the campaign, urged Lincoln not to ask Douglas the question. They said, “If Douglas answers ‘yes,’ he will surely be elected, because the people of Illinois believe in Squatter Sovereignty.” Lincoln’s reply was in substance: “Very well, if he answers ‘no,’ he cannot be elected senator in Illinois. If he answers ‘yes,’ as from his Squatter Sovereignty doctrine he will be obliged to do, he will offend the South in such a way that he cannot be elected President in 1860. I am looking for the larger game.” Lincoln insisted upon asking the question, and his prediction proved true. Douglas answered “yes,” and tried to reconcile Squatter Sovereignty with the Dred Scott Decision, in what came to be known as the “Freeport Doctrine”; but Lincoln pointed out with great power that such a reconciliation was absolutely impossible. Though Douglas was reëlected to the Senate, as the Republican committee predicted he would be if the question were asked, the rift in the Democratic party soon made it apparent that its Northern and Southern sections could not unite on any one candidate for President. Lincoln had accomplished his object, though he had lost the senatorship.


431. Other Speeches of Lincoln and Douglas.—In 1859, Douglas spoke and wrote much, in order to define his position on the relations of the Federal power and the power of the individual states. In all his utterances he often referred to the positions held by Lincoln, and, especially in the South, he tried to recover what he had lost in the discussion of what was known as the “Freeport Doctrine.” Lincoln delivered, at Columbus and Cincinnati, speeches which pointed out with merciless logic the impossibility of Douglas’s contention. These speeches tersely reproduced the arguments he had used in Illinois, and in print they had an enormous circulation. Lincoln’s prominence, moreover, was greatly increased by a masterly speech on February 27, 1860, at the Cooper Institute, in New York City. Taking as his subject, “The Crisis,” he analyzed the situation, and presented it with a logical force and clearness which placed the speech in the highest rank of argumentative orations. This speech, and those he immediately afterward made in New England, caused Lincoln to be better known throughout the East; he was already very popular in the West.


John Brown.

432. John Brown’s Raid.—In the later months of 1859 the country in all its parts was greatly moved by a fanatical attempt to induce the slaves of Virginia to revolt and insist upon freedom. John Brown,[193] who, as we have seen, played a conspicuous part in the Kansas difficulties, held the views of the abolitionists with all the stern severity of a seventeenth century Puritan. He believed that slavery was the “sum of all abominations,” and that he must devote himself to its overthrow. In July, 1859, he rented two houses on the Maryland side of the Potomac, about four miles from Harper’s Ferry. Here arms were collected, and on the 16th of October Brown mustered eighteen men, five of whom were negroes, for his intended attack. They cut the telegraph wires, and seized the watchman on the bridge; then, crossing to the Virginia side, Brown and two followers broke into the United States armory, and, binding the watchman, remained on guard. Before midnight he was master of Harper’s Ferry. But the inevitable result followed. The negroes refused to revolt, and soon the raiders were surrounded by an overwhelming force. They fought desperately, and did not surrender until, of the nineteen, ten had been killed. Four escaped and five were taken prisoners. Brown himself, after receiving several wounds in the head and body, was cut down and captured. Notwithstanding his wounds, he was brought to trial eight days after his arrest and, after a fair examination, was condemned to be hanged on the 2d of December. He died in the unwavering belief that he had contributed to a great cause. Almost the whole nation was thrown into an uproar. Republicans generally disavowed and condemned the act, but the people of the South had their fears multiplied.


433. Resolutions of Jefferson Davis.—On February 2, 1860, Jefferson Davis, who had already come to be recognized as the ablest leader of the Southern Democrats, submitted to the Senate a series of resolutions designed to formulate the Southern party doctrine. The most significant and important of these resolutions was the fourth, which declared that “neither Congress, nor a Territorial Legislature, whether by direct legislation or by legislation of an indirect and unfriendly character, possesses power to annul or impair the constitutional right of any citizen of the United States to take his slave property into the common territories, and there hold and enjoy the same while the territorial condition remains.” This resolution was no doubt intended not only to formulate a doctrine for the guidance of the South, but also to inflict a fatal stab upon Douglas, for the Illinois Senator had taken the ground, in the “Freeport Doctrine,” that notwithstanding the Dred Scott Decision, the people of a territory could make slavery impossible by what he called “unfriendly legislation.”


434. Movements of Public Opinion in the South.—While these discussions were going on in the North, public opinion was also taking form in the South. In various conventions, notably the one held at Nashville in 1850, much had been done to foster disunion sentiments. Secession seemed on the point of immediate accomplishment, and would very probably have taken place, but for the opposition of some of the leading Whigs of the South and the adoption of the Compromise of 1850. Although the crisis in that year was tided over, the South did not cease to proclaim that if ever a President should be elected by a sectional vote secession would inevitably follow. Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia, and some of the other leading Whigs attempted to oppose the movement as impolitic and unlikely to succeed, but they were swept away by an irresistible tide of public opinion, led by the more strenuous of the politicians. This movement increased in violence from 1850 to 1860. The fact that the reopening of the foreign slave trade was boldly advocated in various trade conventions, shows plainly how far the extreme pro-slavery men were willing to go.


Salmon P. Chase.

435. Democratic Nominating Conventions.—The first outbreak of the coming storm occurred in the Democratic National Convention of 1860. This was held in Charleston, South Carolina, and lasted from April 23 to April 30. The delegates of the South were marshaled by William L. Yancey of Alabama; those of the North by Senator George H. Pugh of Ohio. The main contest was over the majority and minority reports of the Committee on Platform. While the Southern delegates demanded a declaration in accordance with Davis’s resolution that neither Congress nor any territorial government had the right to legislate in regard to slavery in any territory, the delegates of the North planted themselves firmly on the “Freeport Doctrine” of Popular Sovereignty. The storm raged with the utmost fury, in the midst of which Yancey declared that if the Popular Sovereignty doctrine were adopted, the Southern delegation would withdraw from the Convention. The followers of Douglas secured a majority, whereupon Yancey and his followers made good their threat, and marched out. This was the beginning of practical secession. Though the remaining delegates were a majority, they were not two-thirds of the Convention, and, therefore, no nomination under the rule of Democratic conventions could be made. The seceding faction adjourned to meet at Richmond, June 11, the others at Baltimore, June 18. An attempt was made to unite them at Baltimore, but both sides were firm, and the effort was fruitless. The consequence was that the Democrats finally made three nominations. John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, was the candidate of the Southern wing; Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois, of the Northern; and John Bell, of Tennessee, of the Conservatives, who vainly hoped still to bring the factions together. Thus the predictions of Lincoln were abundantly fulfilled.


436. The Republican Nominating Convention.—The Republican Convention met on the 16th of May, in Chicago. Seward was the most prominent candidate, but the names of Chase[194] of Ohio, Cameron of Pennsylvania, Dayton of New Jersey, and Bates of Missouri were all presented by the delegates of their respective states. Lincoln’s name showed great strength, as he was supported not only by Illinois, but also by many votes from Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and New England. The platform adopted was in strict accordance with all Lincoln’s private and public utterances. It advocated no interference with slavery where it existed, no extension of slavery into the territories, and no reopening of the slave trade. On the first ballot, Seward had one hundred and seventy-three and one-half votes, and Lincoln followed with one hundred and two. On the second, Seward had one hundred and eighty-four and a half, and Lincoln one hundred and eighty-one. The excitement was tremendous. The number necessary for a choice was two hundred and thirty-three. On the third ballot, Lincoln had two hundred and thirty-one and a half, while Seward had fallen back to one hundred and eighty. There was no resisting the tide. Before the figures were removed, a delegate from Ohio sprang upon his chair, and reported a change of four votes from Chase to Lincoln. In an instant, one of the tellers shouted, “Lincoln!” whereupon it seemed as if the ten thousand persons present had become insane with enthusiasm. A cannon on the roof of the hall announced the result to the city in accordance with a preconcerted understanding. The chairman of the New York delegation, William M. Evarts, then moved that the nomination be made unanimous. This harmonious result was welcomed by Republicans in all parts of the country.


437. The Presidential Canvass.—The campaign was conducted with a vigor and an enthusiasm that had not been known since 1840. Lincoln made no speeches and wrote no letters for publication, but made himself accessible at Springfield to all callers who might care to meet him. But such a course was not followed by the Democrats. No progress was made toward reunion. On the contrary, the Breckinridge, or Southern wing, waged unrelenting war on Douglas, both in discussion and in the promise of distribution of patronage. Douglas was not slow to retaliate. He entered at once on an extensive campaigning tour and made speeches in many states, both North and South.


438. The Position of Douglas.—The most important utterance of all the campaign was one made by Douglas at Norfolk, Virginia. He was asked in writing whether he was in favor of maintaining the Union by force. He declared, without a moment’s hesitation: “I answer emphatically that it is the duty of the President of the United States, and all others in authority under him, to enforce the laws, and I, as in duty bound by my oath of fidelity to the Constitution, would do all in my power to aid the Government of the United States in maintaining the laws against all resistance to them, come from what quarter it might. In other words, I think the President, whoever he may be, should treat all attempts to break up the Union, by resistance to the laws, as Old Hickory treated the nullifiers in 1832.” The South made the fatal mistake of supposing that this view was not held by a large majority of the Democrats of the North. In reality, it was this view, so frankly expressed by Douglas, that finally united an overwhelming majority of the Northern Democrats in supporting, with more or less heartiness, the Republicans in the great war that was at hand.


439. Result of the Election.—In the election, Lincoln received one hundred and eighty electoral votes; Breckinridge, seventy-two; Bell, thirty-nine; and Douglas, twelve. Lincoln received the vote of every free state except New Jersey, whose vote was divided, four electors voting for Lincoln, and three for Douglas. Douglas, in addition to the three votes from New Jersey, received nine from Missouri; those of the other Southern states were divided between Breckinridge and Bell.


440. Secession of South Carolina and Other States.—At the time of the election, the legislature of South Carolina was in session. As soon as the result was known, that body called a State Convention to meet and consider the situation. The Convention met, and on the 20th of December, repealed the Act ratifying the Constitution, and declared that the union between South Carolina and the other states was dissolved. Before Lincoln’s inauguration, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Florida had followed the example of South Carolina. They seized all the military posts of the United States within their territory, a procedure that had been made easy by the strange doctrine of Buchanan that, although a state had no right to secede, the United States had no right to prevent it from seceding and carrying United States property with it.


441. Opposition to the Seceders.—The first step in opposition to the seceders was taken by Major Robert Anderson of Kentucky, who abandoned the untenable Fort Moultrie of which he was in charge, and posted himself in Fort Sumter, which, being on an island, could be more easily held for the Union if succor were speedily provided by the authorities in Washington. The latter were vacillating, however, or else were in open sympathy with the secessionists. The President was at least strong enough to resist the demand of the South Carolina Commissioners that Anderson should be ordered to evacuate Fort Sumter, and he also refused to receive further communications from the commissioners. Finally, too, he surrounded himself with a loyal Cabinet, through resignations which were voluntary, but should have been demanded. Chief among his new advisers were Jeremiah S. Black of Pennsylvania, Secretary of State; Edwin M. Stanton of Pennsylvania, Attorney-General; Joseph Holt of Kentucky, Secretary of War; and John A. Dix[195] of New York, Secretary of the Treasury.


442. The Star of the West.—The reorganized Cabinet insisted on reënforcing Anderson at Fort Sumter, but the attempt was made only with a merchant steamer, the Star of the West, which turned back at the fire of the Carolinian batteries (January 9, 1861). This rather weak step served the Southerners with matter for indignation and for charges that the North was bent on war. It also led to the discovery that Jacob Thompson of Mississippi, the Secretary of the Interior, had warned the South Carolinians of the intended reënforcement. Thompson at once resigned, and Buchanan arranged a sort of armistice with the Southerners still in Congress, by which he was to be allowed to finish his administration in peace, it being understood that the forts should be neither reënforced nor captured.


Confederate Capitol,
Montgomery, Alabama.

443. Last Attempts at Compromise.—In the course of 1860 and the early part of 1861, several attempts were made to reach a compromise. The most famous of these was the one introduced by Senator Crittenden, of Kentucky, December 18, 1860. He proposed a constitutional amendment in which the main clauses should prohibit slavery north of 36° 30′, but protect it, as other property is protected, in all territory south of that line, and should arrange for admitting states north or south of that line, with or without slavery, as their constitutions might provide. While the Compromise was before a committee of thirteen, of which Seward was the most prominent Republican and Jefferson Davis the most prominent Democrat, Seward was offered by Lincoln the Secretaryship of State. Lincoln wrote, “On the territorial question, I am inflexible.” In further explanation he said that the adoption of the Compromise would only postpone the difficulties that then confronted the nation. In the committee, the Republicans voted against the Compromise, and Davis of Mississippi, and Toombs of Georgia, voted with them. The Republicans were responsible for its defeat. On January 3, 1861, Crittenden proposed that the whole subject of his Compromise be submitted to a direct vote of the people. Douglas powerfully supported the proposition; but Davis, in an elaborate speech in behalf of the South, made it apparent that compromise was now impossible. Other minor attempts met with similar failure.


Jefferson Davis.

444. Southern Confederacy Formed.—Soon after the Ordinances of Secession were passed by the several Southern states, their representatives, with only two exceptions, withdrew, one by one, from Congress. The Secession Conventions appointed delegates in number equal to their former senators and representatives at Washington, and the members so appointed met at Montgomery, Alabama, February 4, 1861, to form a Southern Confederacy. President Buchanan offered no opposition to this movement. The body was soon organized by the choice of Howell Cobb, of Georgia, as chairman. A provisional government for one year, under the name, “The Confederate States of America,” was adopted February 8, and the following day Jefferson Davis[196] was chosen President of the Confederacy, and Alexander H. Stephens,[197] of Georgia, Vice President. The Constitution, as elaborated and completed, was adopted on the 11th of March. Stephens, as Vice President, was formally inaugurated on the 10th of February, and Davis, as President, on the 18th. Thus the Confederate government was fully installed two weeks before the inauguration of Lincoln.


Alexander H. Stephens.

445. Stephens and Lincoln on the Causes of the War.—Soon after the inaugural ceremonies in the South, the newly chosen Vice President, in a speech at Savannah, explained the grounds of secession. After referring to Thomas Jefferson, he said: “The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen of the time of the formation of the old Constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. . . . Our government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”[198] For the purpose of reducing the causes of the war to a nutshell, this utterance may be placed in contrast with the summary of the Northern views by Lincoln: “Slavery is wrong and must not be extended. No state can in any way get out of the Union without the consent of the others. It is the duty of the President and of the other public functionaries to run the machine as it is.” At about the same time, in answer to an inquiry, Lincoln wrote to Stephens: “You think slavery is right, and ought to be extended, while we think it is wrong, and ought to be restricted. That, I suppose, is the rub. It certainly is the only substantial difference between us.”


446. Misunderstandings and Mistakes.—While the South believed, as had so often been claimed by Calhoun and Davis, that it had a right to secede and that the North had no right to oppose secession with force, each side was deceived in regard to the strength and real purpose of the other. The South made the mistake of believing that the Douglas Democrats would not unite with the Republicans, and the North greatly underestimated the determination and the readiness for war on the part of the South. Neither side seems to have more than half believed that the other side would fight. As the South was far more ready than the North, it was certain that, in case of war, the South would gain the first victories. But as the North had far greater resources, it was also certain that, with equal skill and determination, the North would in the end be successful. Each side held that its own strength would prevent the other side from entering upon war. Seward was so optimistic as to believe that as soon as the North showed its determination, the South would yield, and war would be “over in ninety days.” If each side had thoroughly understood the other, probably no war would have occurred. But, not understanding each other, “one side,” as Lincoln once said, “would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish.”

THE COUNTRY IN 1860–1861.

Cyrus W. Field.

447. The Sections on the Eve of the Civil War.—If the South had been in a condition to reason calmly, the laying of the Atlantic cable, through the efforts of Cyrus W. Field,[199] might have convinced its leaders that it was useless to uphold past ideals of government and a belated institution like slavery in the face of advancing civilization. The same lesson might have been taught them by the immense growth of the North and West since 1830. The increase in area, due to the settlement of the Oregon dispute and to the territory acquired from Mexico by war and purchase, had helped freedom rather than slavery. Of the 31,443,321 inhabitants of the whole country in 1860, only a little over 12,250,000 resided in the slaveholding states, including Missouri and Delaware, and of these twelve millions slightly over a third were negroes, who were in the main slaves. Over 3,500,000 persons lived in border states which did not join the Confederacy; so that when the crisis came, only about 8,700,000 whites in the South were to be matched against the 19,000,000 whites of the North and West. The advantage on the side of freedom was not really so great as these figures would make it; for the Southerners could leave their slaves at work and could flock to the front, while the Northern people had to keep their farms and factories going as well as fight. But when all allowances are made, the balance in favor of freedom was very great. The contrast between the sections is rendered all the more striking when we observe the great urban growth in the North and West. New York City in 1860 had about eight hundred thousand inhabitants; the South contained only two fairly large cities,—New Orleans and Baltimore. The foreign immigrants, nearly five million of whom had entered the country since 1830, when immigration practically began, saw even more clearly than many Americans the differences between the sections, and settled mainly in the North and West.


448. Wealth of the Country.—We have seen that in Jackson’s day the character of the average American became more energetic, and that the country entered upon an era of commercial expansion which even the panic of 1837 could not permanently check. The growth of manufacturing and of railroads had been enormous, chiefly in the North and West. In 1860 one billion dollars were invested in manufacturing, six billion five hundred million in farming. In the latter form of wealth the South, of course, had its share, since its cotton crops were very valuable. But the cotton was shipped in northern vessels and was exchanged for products not manufactured in the South. In the matter of railroads, a great gain had been made since 1850, twenty of the thirty thousand miles operated in 1860 having been laid within the decade.


449. Inventions.—It is almost needless to say that American inventiveness kept pace with the country’s growth in population and wealth. Between 1830 and 1860, Cyrus H. McCormick (1809–1884) invented his reaper, which revolutionized farming; S. F. B. Morse (1791–1872) made the telegraph an effective means of communication; Charles Goodyear (1800–1860) succeeded in vulcanizing india rubber; and Elias Howe (1819–1867) patented his sewing machine. The same epoch was marked by the growth of express companies, the first use of postage stamps, the perfection of the daguerreotyping process, the use of anæsthetics, and the employment of steam fire engines. When we remember further that this was the era of such great scientists as Asa Gray (1810–1888) the botanist, J. D. Dana (1813–1895) the mineralogist, Joseph Henry (1797–1878) the physicist, and Louis Agassiz (1807–1873) the naturalist, as well as of the great historians, William H. Prescott (1796–1859), George Bancroft (1800–1891), and John Lothrop Motley (1814–1877), and of Emerson, Hawthorne, Longfellow, and other writers already mentioned, we can perceive that the intellectual growth of the nation had kept pace with its material development. Yet, with the exception of Commodore Matthew F. Maury (18061—1873),—who won fame for his work in physical geography, especially of the sea,—and of Edgar Allan Poe, nearly every one of these scientists and authors was a Northern man. From all points of view, therefore, the odds were against the South at the beginning of the great struggle.

References.—Rhodes’s History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 is the most thorough, impartial, and authoritative of all general works on the subject; the first two volumes are devoted to the years from 1850 to 1860, and by means of the full table of contents and the index, the student may obtain a fair presentation of the causes of the War, without reading the whole. Schouler’s United States, Vol. V., is also full and valuable. Wilson, Division and Reunion, 204-216; Johnson, American Politics, 188-196; Goldwin Smith, United States; Morse, Abraham Lincoln (2 vols. “American Statesmen”); Tarbell’s Abraham Lincoln, Vol. II., 1-150, contains much interesting material not before published; Sanborn, Life and Letters of John Brown; Stephens, War between the States, Vol. I., probably presents the ablest Southern view; Pollard, Lost Cause; Davis, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Vol. I.; Greeley, American Conflict, Vol. I.; Grant, Personal Memoirs, Vol. I.; Sherman, Memoirs; Nicolay and Hay, Abraham Lincoln (10 vols.); Johnston, American Orations; Garrison, Life of William Lloyd Garrison, Vols. I. and II.; Buchanan, Buchanan’s Administration; Dabney, Defence of Virginia; Longstreet, From Manassas to Appomattox; F. Bancroft, Life of William H. Seward (2 vols.); Lothrop, William H. Seward (“American Statesmen”); Storey, Charles Sumner (“American Statesmen”); T. N. Page, The Old South; H. A. Wise, Seven Decades; Trent, W. G. Simms (“American Men of Letters”); Trent, Southern Statesmen of the Old Régime; Channing and Hart, Guide to American History.

Born in Maryland, 1777; died, 1864. Graduated from Dickinson College; studied law and settled in Baltimore; was a Federalist and later a Jackson Democrat; was Attorney-General of the United States, 1831–1833; appointed Secretary of the Treasury by Jackson, he removed the government deposits from the bank, but was not confirmed by the Senate; Chief Justice of the United States from 1836 until his death.

Born, 1811; died, 1896. Was daughter of Rev. Lyman Beecher, and sister of Henry Ward Beecher; married Professor Calvin E. Stowe in 1836; resided in Cincinnati, where she had opportunities of acquiring considerable knowledge of Southern life; was stirred by the Fugitive Slave Law to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin; wrote many other novels and was until her death an important literary figure.

Minnesota was admitted as a free state in 1858, and Oregon in 1859.

Born in Vermont, 1813; died, 1861. After suffering many hardships in his youth, removed to Illinois, and began to practice law in 1834; was attorney-general of the state, 1838; secretary of state for Illinois, 1840; judge of the Supreme Court, 1841; was in the United States House of Representatives, 1843–1847; in United States Senate, 1847–1861; was the advocate of “Popular Sovereignty” in the territories, and gained the appellation of “Little Giant” by the fervor and power of his advocacy; held joint debates with Lincoln in 1858; was an unsuccessful candidate for a Presidential nomination in 1852 and 1856, and for the Presidency in 1860.

Born in Kentucky, February 12, 1809; died in Washington, April 15, 1865. Moved to Indiana with his parents in 1816; to Illinois in 1830; served as private and captain in Black Hawk War in 1832; failed as a storekeeper in New Salem, Illinois; studied law and was sent to the legislature, 1834–1842; was Whig congressman from Springfield district, 1847–1849; came forward as a debater and political speaker between 1850 and 1858; made himself known to the entire nation by his debates with Douglas in 1858, by his Cooper Institute speech of February, 1860, and by other speeches; was nominated by Republicans and elected President, 1860; issued Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863; reëlected President, 1864; shot by John Wilkes Booth, April 14, 1865.

Born in Connecticut, 1800; died, 1859. Early moved to Ohio and became an earnest and uncompromising abolitionist; went to Kansas in 1855 and took an active part in the troubles that ensued; led in the “Pottawatomie Massacre” of 1856; returned to the East and matured plans for an invasion of the South in 1859; made the attack on Harper’s Ferry, October 16; executed, December 2, 1859.

Born in New Hampshire, 1808; died, 1873. Graduated at Dartmouth, 1826; moved to Cincinnati and practiced law; became a great supporter and advocate of the anti-slavery movement; was elected by Democrats and Free Soilers to the United States Senate, 1849; governor of Ohio, 1856–1860; was candidate for nomination for the Presidency, 1860; became Secretary of the Treasury and performed services of great merit, 1861–1864; was not in perfect accord with Lincoln’s administration, and his name was urged by his friends for the Presidency in 1864; was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1864, and served till his death.

General Dix is still remembered for his famous order to his subordinates: “If any man attempts to haul down the American flag, shoot him on the spot.” With the spirit of this order, General Winfield Scott, who, old as he was, had been laboring for months to get Buchanan into an attitude of aggressive resistance, heartily concurred.

Born in Kentucky, June 8, 1808; died, December 6, 1889. Graduated at West Point, 1828; served in Black Hawk War; resigned, and became a planter in Mississippi; congressman, 1845–1846; distinguished himself in the Mexican War; United States senator, 1847–1851 and 1857–1861; unsuccessful candidate for governorship of Mississippi, 1851; Secretary of War under Pierce, 1853–1857; resigned his seat in the Senate in January, 1861; was chosen President of the Confederacy, February 9, 1861; was confined as prisoner at Fortress Monroe, 1865–1867; was indicted for treason in 1866; was released on bail in the following year, and was never put on trial.

Born in Georgia, 1812; died, 1883. Graduated at University of Georgia, 1832; prominent lawyer, speaker and Whig member of Congress from 1843 to 1859; strongly supported Douglas and opposed secession in 1860; sided with his state and became Vice President of the Confederacy, 1861–1865; often differed from Davis; sought to bring about peace in 1864; was imprisoned in 1865, but was soon released; was congressman from Georgia, 1875–1882; elected governor of Georgia, 1882; wrote the important War between the States.

Cleveland, Life of Alexander H. Stephens, pp. 721-723.

Born in Massachusetts, 1819; died, 1892. Engaged in business in New York till 1853, when he retired; conceived the idea of a trans-Atlantic submarine cable, and succeeded in forming the New York, Newfoundland, and London Telegraph Company; established communication in 1858, but the cable proved worthless in a few weeks; later established the Atlantic Cable Company, which laid cables in 1865 and 1866, the latter of which was completely successful; was greatly honored for this achievement both in America and Europe.

United States in 1861

United States in 1861
The heavy line shows the limit of territory held by Confederates.

Abraham Lincoln.


the beginnings of the civil war.


450. From the Election to the Inauguration.—While the South, during the months between the election and the inauguration of Lincoln, was setting up its new government and preparing for war, the North could do nothing. President Buchanan, as we have already seen, scarcely lifted a finger to prevent the secession of the Southern states. There is even reason for thinking that he encouraged it,[200] although in the main he was loyal. Howell Cobb of Georgia, Buchanan’s Secretary of the Treasury, John B. Floyd of Virginia, Secretary of War, as well as Secretary Thompson, actively and openly sympathized with the Southern leaders and gave them constant advice and assistance. Floyd even received Thomas F. Drayton, the agent of South Carolina, and negotiated with him for the sale of arms; and W. H. Trescott, the Assistant Secretary of State, was in constant correspondence with Governor Gist, of South Carolina, in regard to all plans for secession.[201] This activity at the South gave great alarm to the North. Lincoln remained at Springfield until it was time to start for Washington for the inauguration, but he was beset with demands for an explanation of the policy which he would pursue. Though he wrote numerous private letters, he positively refused to give out a word for publication. His letters, since published, show that he never wavered from his purpose to defend the property of the United States government in the South. In the course of his journey to Washington, he made several speeches that showed remarkable firmness, united with a deep sense of responsibility. Hearing in Philadelphia, from two independent sources, of a plot to assassinate him in Baltimore, he reluctantly yielded to the urgent advice of his friends, and secretly boarded a special train in order to elude possible assassins by passing through Baltimore in the night.


451. Selection of the Cabinet, and the Inauguration.—Lincoln had the matter of choosing a Cabinet long under consideration, but its membership was not fully settled till the day before his inauguration. His chief rivals for the Presidency were given leading positions. The Secretary of State was W. H. Seward of New York; Salmon P. Chase of Ohio became Secretary of the Treasury; Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania, Secretary of War; Gideon P. Welles of Connecticut, Secretary of the Navy. In his inaugural address, the President spoke with a pathetic sense of his responsibility, but with great clearness of conviction as to the nature of his duty. He declared that he had “no purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states” where it existed, and that there would be “no bloodshed or violence unless” it were “forced upon the national authority.” His purpose he defined by saying, “The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the government and to collect the duties and imposts.” Appealing to his dissatisfied fellow countrymen, he said, “You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect, and defend it.”

Fort Sumter.


452. The Fall of Sumter.—One after another, the military posts in the South were taken possession of by the local authorities. At Charleston, the Federal garrisons of two of the other forts withdrew to Fort Sumter, in order to defend it. But, even thus reënforced, it was short of ammunition and provisions. Buchanan, in January, had ordered relief sent; but as we have seen (§ 442), the Star of the West was fired upon, and turned back to New York. Lincoln, in accordance with his firm but conciliatory policy, sent word to Governor Pickens, of South Carolina, that he had made provision to send supplies to Fort Sumter. The Governor decided at once to take the fort before the supplies could arrive, and, under his orders, General Beauregard opened fire upon it about four o’clock on the morning of the 12th of April. Two days later, the commander of the fort, Major Anderson, having exhausted food and ammunition, was obliged to take down his flag and withdraw from his post. No lives were lost on either side. This action of the South was a strategic blunder, for it enabled the North to enter upon the war with an enthusiasm which could otherwise hardly have been secured.


Palmetto Flag (Confederate).

453. First Call for Troops.—The firing upon Sumter sent a thrill of patriotic determination throughout the North. On the 15th of April, Lincoln issued a proclamation, declaring that a combination against the Union had been formed, and calling for an enlistment of seventy-five thousand men for three months, “in order to suppress said combination and to cause the laws to be duly executed.” He also called upon all loyal citizens to aid and facilitate “this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of our National Union.” The response was immediate and overwhelming. Douglas, then upon his dying bed, dictated a letter, declaring that the only course left for patriotic men was to sustain the Union “against all assailants.” The course of Douglas unquestionably did much to unite all parties in the North. In every city and town mass meetings were instantly held and companies and regiments were formed. Senator Chandler telegraphed: “Michigan will send you fifty thousand men, if you desire.” Indiana, whose quota was five thousand, telegraphed that ten thousand were ready. So it was from every quarter of the North. Men came in such numbers that instead of seventy-five thousand, the War Department accepted more than ninety-one thousand. In the South, the people were likewise fired with enthusiasm and drawn nearer together. There was, at first, an opposition to secession in Virginia, but reluctance to allow troops to pass over her soil and the demand that she should furnish her quota against the South, turned the scale. Four of the border states, as they were then called,—North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas,—now passed Ordinances of Secession. Shortly after Virginia seceded, April 17, the capital of the Confederacy was transferred from Montgomery to Richmond.


454. Comparative Numerical Strength.—As we have seen (§ 447), the population of the seceded states was a little less than nine millions, of whom about five and one-half millions were whites; while the population of the other states was about twenty-two millions. At the beginning of the war a large proportion of the white adult males in the South was brought into action through public opinion, and a little later, a rigid conscription law, including all able-bodied men between fifteen and fifty, was rigorously enforced. Old men, women, boys, and slaves were left at home to furnish the necessary supplies. Thus the South put forth almost its entire strength early in the war, and the capture of territory and prisoners continually lessened its resources; while the very opposite was the case with the North. While the war was going on, the productive industries of the Union states never flagged, and the population continued to increase so that it was possible to have a larger army at the end of the war than at the beginning. However, all figures comparing the armies and the numbers present in individual battles are somewhat misleading, from the fact that in the Southern army teamsters and laborers on the supply trains were generally slaves, not enumerated. Slaves were also employed in the trenches. In the Northern armies, on the other hand, these forms of service were generally rendered by enlisted men.


455. Comparative Industries.—The South was essentially an agricultural region, depending for its income chiefly upon its exports of cotton and tobacco. If a blockade could be stringently enforced, this source of revenue must necessarily be cut off. But that was not all. The supplies which the South had been in the habit of importing could not now be procured except at enormous prices and in very small quantities. A few facts will show the significance of this condition. In 1860, the exports of cotton amounted in value to about two hundred millions of dollars, but before the end of the war, the annual income from that source was not more than four million dollars. The inducement to run the blockade may be inferred from the fact that the best cotton could be bought in Charleston at four or five cents a pound, while in Liverpool, where the American supply had been cut off, the price per pound was no less than two dollars and a half. Prospect of profit led to the most daring risks. Insurance on blockade running vessels rose nearly a thousand per cent, and the wages of sea captains plying between Nassau and Southern ports increased from thirty to one thousand pounds sterling per month. As we shall hereafter see, prices rose enormously in the South, and the suffering on the part of many became almost intolerable. This condition of affairs might have been prevented, if the South before the war had given itself to the development of varied industries. But, with all the able-bodied men in the field, the sudden establishment of industrial activity was plainly out of the question. In the North, on the other hand, the conditions were very different. At the beginning of the war, a high protective tariff was established, partly to provide an increased revenue, and partly to encourage the rapid spread of home industries. The consequence was great industrial activity throughout the entire period of the war. As the Northern ports were all open, intercourse with foreign markets was easy, and the rise of prices was not so great anywhere as to cause considerable inconvenience. In fact, the North grew steadily in wealth during the war.


456. Financial Methods in the North.—The cost of a great war is always so enormous that all the resources of taxation and credit must be resorted to. The necessities of the North were peculiarly stringent in 1861, owing to the fact that during Buchanan’s administration the Treasury was nearly bankrupt (§ 423). As soon as the war began, the financial pressure was felt throughout the country, and before the end of 1861, the banks everywhere were obliged to suspend specie payment. A few months later, Congress authorized an issue of $150,000,000 of paper currency, and made it legal tender for the payment of all debts. In 1863, the amount of such notes was increased to $450,000,000; and from the color of the ink used, they came to be known as “greenbacks.” As they were not redeemable in gold at any specific time, the price of gold began to rise as soon as the first issue was made, and increased as the war progressed, until, in 1864, the premium on gold reached its highest point,—two hundred and eighty-five per cent. Of course, this premium was not an increase in the value of gold, but a decrease in the value of paper currency. As the current money became cheap, the prices of commodities naturally rose. It has been ascertained that the average increase in the prices of real estate, rents, and goods was about ninety per cent, while the increase in the price of labor was only about sixty per cent. Thus it is evident that the men of means profited most, or suffered least, by the inflation, while the laborer suffered most. Another source of income was the issue of government bonds at a high rate of interest. These amounted before the end of the war to $2,850,000,000. As during the first years of the contest the success of the North, and consequently the ability of the government to pay, appeared uncertain, it was difficult to sell the bonds except at a considerable discount.


457. National Banks.—An ingenious method of disposing of a large part of the bonds was devised. A law was enacted in February, 1863, authorizing any five persons to organize a National Bank on easy conditions. Except in very small places, such a bank was required to have a capital of at least one hundred thousand dollars and to deposit, with the Treasury at Washington, bonds to the amount of one-third of its capital. The government would then issue notes to the bank to the amount of ninety per cent of such deposit, such notes to be used by the bank for the purposes of circulating currency, and to be redeemable by the government in greenbacks. The response was at first slow; but in 1864 a new impulse was given to the movement by an act levying a tax of ten per cent on the circulation of state banks—a law designed to compel state banks to become national. By these measures, a safe and abundant currency was provided. In addition to these devices, a high internal revenue was levied, an income tax was provided, and tariff duties, as the war went on, were greatly increased.


458. Finances in the South.—No such fertile devices were possible in the South. Bonds were issued, but, as there was little or no capital seeking investment, no market at home could be found, and foreign capitalists would not run great risks till the issue of the war could be predicted with some confidence. The government then issued notes payable six months after the close of the war. With the diminishing prospects of the South, these notes rapidly declined in value, till they became practically worthless. Then the Confederate Congress authorized the army to seize provisions and supplies wherever they could find them, and to offer in payment bonds or notes at prices to be fixed every ninety days. Under this financial régime, prices rose enormously, and the consequent suffering of those who did not occupy their own estates or were not in the army or the service of the government, was well-nigh indescribable.


459. General Features of the War.—Without some knowledge of the physical characteristics of the country, it will not be easy to understand why the war progressed so slowly as it did in the East and so rapidly in the West. As the South had broken away from the Union, and the North was trying to bring the seceded states back under national authority, the North was, necessarily, the attacking party, while the South had merely to act on the defensive. Though two important efforts were made by the South to transfer the field of operations to the North, these were both unsuccessful, and therefore the war, in all its larger features, was fought in the South. This fact makes it necessary to look for a moment at the physiographic features of the field of action.


460. Physical Features in the East.—The Alleghany Mountains and the Mississippi River divided the Confederacy into three somewhat distinct parts. The eastern portion, which lies between the Alleghanies and the Atlantic, is characterized by a succession of rivers that rise in the mountains and flow in a southeasterly direction nearly parallel with the Potomac and James. To advance through Virginia to Richmond, it was possible for the Union forces to go by water to the mouth of the James and then ascend along the river, or to cross the Rappahannock, the Rapidan, the York, and the Chickahominy, besides a large number of smaller streams which were sometimes swollen to the volume of navigable rivers. Much of the intervening region, moreover, was swampy, and at times almost impassable. East of the Alleghanies, the subordinate range known as the Blue Ridge provides a fertile, intervening valley, through which the Shenandoah flows northward into the Potomac at Harper’s Ferry. This Valley of Virginia, however, near the northern end, is subdivided by a low range of mountains in such a way as to enable an army driven down one side to retreat up the other. Across the Blue Ridge at Manassas Gap, a railroad connects the Valley with the eastern portion of Virginia and makes it possible to transfer troops rapidly from one side to the other. At Manassas, this railroad crosses an important Southern line which runs from Washington to Richmond and Lynchburg, and to the far South. This crossing, therefore, was of the first strategic importance in the war, and was naturally the first point of collision.


461. Physical Features of the West.—West of the Alleghanies the water courses, in some respects, were of even more importance than in the East. The Cumberland River, which rises in the mountains of the same name, flows southwest, and then, turning sharply to the north, empties into the Ohio some miles above Cairo. The Tennessee flows in the same general direction, but bends so far south as to reach Alabama and Mississippi, and then, turning northward and flowing through Tennessee and Kentucky in a course nearly parallel with the Mississippi, though in an opposite direction, discharges its waters into the Ohio. As railroads were few and other roads were poor, these navigable waters were of the utmost importance to the side that should be able to command them. Both antagonists recognized this fact, and, therefore, the first contest in this region was for command of these rivers. Soon after the war began, the Unionists took Cairo, at the mouth of the Ohio, and the Confederates constructed Forts Henry and Donelson, on the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, at points not far from the Ohio, where the rivers were so near each other that either fort could easily reënforce the other. In this way each side hoped to gain command of the rivers for purposes of transportation. The Mississippi also was strongly fortified by the Confederates at Memphis, at Island Number 10, at Vicksburg, and at other points of less importance. West of the Mississippi, the physical features of the country were of less military consequence.


Confederate Flag.

462. First Bloodshed.—Among those in the North who had foreseen the conflict, one of the foremost was Governor John A. Andrew, of Massachusetts. Inaugurated early in January, 1861, he had set about preparing for hostilities by organizing the state militia and by purchasing arms in Europe. Only four days after the call for troops, therefore, the 6th Massachusetts Regiment was ready to move to Washington. While passing through Baltimore, the regiment was attacked by a mob and several men were killed. This was the first bloodshed of the war. The road through Baltimore was closed, and all trains with men and supplies were for several months obliged to pass around the city by way of Annapolis. But this was not the worst. The railroad from Annapolis to Washington was torn up and every telegraph line from Washington to the North was cut. Exit from the capital in any direction was, for a time, made impossible. With the news that Virginia had seceded, came the rumor that a large Southern force was on the march to take Washington. General Winfield Scott, then in command as general in chief of the United States armies, placed barricades about all the public buildings, and distributed the few guns he had at the various approaches to the city. There were only twenty-five hundred troops at his disposal. But officers and men in the departments were brought into service, and many citizens enlisted. The women and children were ordered out of town. During all this terrible excitement and anxiety, a committee from Baltimore appeared before the President and protested that the soil of Maryland should not be “polluted” by troops designed to invade the South. Lincoln replied, “We must have troops, and, as they can neither crawl under Maryland nor fly over it, they must come across it.” The alarming rumor proved to have no foundation. The South was not ready for an attack upon the capital.


463. The Border States.—The great fears naturally felt with regard to the secession of other border states besides Virginia were gradually relieved. This was caused partly by the wise management of Lincoln, partly by the unexpected enthusiasm throughout the North in responding to the call for troops, and partly by the firmness of the Union sympathizers in those states. Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri did not secede; but while these states thus remained in the Union, the people were divided in their sympathies, some going into one army, and some into the other. Though Tennessee seceded and joined the Confederacy, many of her people, especially in the Cumberland Mountains, were stanch supporters of the Union throughout the war. On the other hand, in southern Indiana and Illinois there were many sympathizers with the South, and nothing but the ability and the energy of the governors of those states and the intense loyalty of the Unionists kept up the full quota of their troops. In Virginia, while the people in the eastern part of the state were generally Secessionists, a majority of those west of the mountains were adherents of the Union. When, therefore, Virginia withdrew, the people of the western portion voted to break away from the rest of the state, and on December 31, 1862, Congress, with apparently more regard to necessity than to the Constitution, admitted the region to the Union as West Virginia.


464. Foreign Recognition.—On May 13, 1861, Great Britain issued a “Proclamation of Neutrality,” which, in effect, recognized the Confederates as belligerents, and this example was soon imitated by the other European states. Thus the Confederates obtained the right to have war vessels, and to take refuge for repairs and needed supplies in foreign harbors. The consular agents of the United States reported that Southern agents were buying arms wherever they could be obtained in Europe.


465. Equipment and Further Preparation.—In the beginning of the war, though enlistments were rapid, preparations for an advance were necessarily slow. The Southern ports were declared blockaded, but the North had not enough ships on hand with which to make the blockade effective. Coasting vessels of all kinds were rapidly brought into the service, supplies had to be collected, and troops had to be equipped and drilled. The Confederates were more rapidly organized, because their preparations for war had been much more advanced when the war began, although they, too, were short of arms and powder. Before the North was ready to move, the Confederacy had formed a strong line across Virginia from Harper’s Ferry to Norfolk. It had also placed strong fortifications along the Mississippi River, the Mexican border, and about the Atlantic ports. A little later the construction of Forts Henry and Donelson, on the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, protected the northern frontiers. Thus the Confederacy was nearly surrounded with a line of defenses. Early in May, when the Northern troops reached the line of action, skirmishing began, but no important engagement occurred before July. On the 4th of July, Congress met in special session. Lincoln, in his message, after reviewing the situation, said: “This issue embraces more than the fate of these United States. It presents to the whole family of man the question whether a constitutional republic or democracy—a government of the people by the same people—can or cannot maintain its territorial integrity against its own domestic foes.” Congress at once authorized the President, at his discretion, to call out five hundred thousand volunteers, and gave him all the powers necessary to carry on the war.


466. Movements in West Virginia.—Early in the summer of 1861, General George B. McClellan advanced from Ohio into western Virginia, and in less than a month succeeded in driving the Confederates out of that mountainous region. A little later, General Robert E. Lee, in command of an insufficient Confederate force, and in an inclement season, attempted to recover the ground lost, but he was successfully resisted by General Rosecrans, and the district remained in the hands of the Union.


General Beauregard.

467. The Battle of Bull Run, or Manassas.—Largely in consequence of McClellan’s successes in West Virginia, there was a great popular outcry in the North for an advance. “On to Richmond!” was the watchword of many of the influential newspapers. General Scott at length reluctantly consented to a forward movement. About thirty-five miles south of Washington, the railroad from the Shenandoah Valley, passing through the mountains, crosses the road which runs from Richmond to Washington. The point, therefore, was one of such strategic importance that it enabled the army holding it to move rapidly to the East or West, as well as to the North or South. It was here, at Manassas Junction, that the Confederate force was concentrated under Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard.[202] The Union army, under General McDowell, on July 21, crossed Bull Run, a small stream near Manassas, and advanced to an attack. At the beginning of the battle, McDowell had some success; but, in the afternoon, the Union army, made up chiefly of raw recruits, was thrown into a panic, owing to a reënforcement of the Confederates, and fled in great disorder towards Washington. About eighteen thousand men were engaged on each side. The Confederates lost about two thousand, while the loss of the Unionists was nearly three thousand.[203] Both armies were temporarily disorganized by the battle. On the following day, McClellan was called from West Virginia and put in command of all the forces from the mountains to the sea. In November, General Scott was compelled by age to give up his post, and McClellan succeeded him as general in chief of all the Union forces. Neither army was yet in condition to make an advance.


468. Ball’s Bluff.—The Confederates, however, strengthened their line in the vicinity of Harper’s Ferry, and in October a Union force of about two thousand men was defeated at Ball’s Bluff, and its commander, the brilliant Colonel Baker of Oregon, was killed. Before the end of the season the Union army was increased by additional enlistments to nearly two hundred thousand men, and the autumn and winter months were passed in fortifying the lines, drilling the recruits, and bringing together supplies.


469. Lincoln’s Strategic Plans.—Lincoln said at the very beginning of the war that four things were essential to ultimate success, and all his plans were directed accordingly. First, the army must defend Washington, and, if possible, press on and take Richmond. Second, the border states must, at all hazards, be prevented from seceding. Third, the Mississippi River must be opened, in order to give the West communication with the sea and to cut off the Confederates from western supplies. And fourth, the blockade must be made as effective as possible, to prevent European supplies from reaching the South.


General Nathaniel Lyon.

470. The Contest in Missouri.—In the West special efforts were made by the Union forces to hold Missouri. Sentiment in the state was divided. General John C. Frémont (§ 417) was early appointed to the command of the Western Department. He entered upon his duties July 25, with headquarters at St. Louis; but great frauds were soon developed in his department, and he was unable to furnish the necessary supplies to the army. His department was further discredited by an unauthorized order freeing the slaves, which President Lincoln promptly rescinded. But notwithstanding the confusion at headquarters, General Nathaniel Lyon,[204] one of the most promising of Union officers, conducted affairs in the field with great energy and skill. He pushed the Confederates out of the northern and central parts of the state; but near the southern line, they received reënforcements from Arkansas and Texas, and advanced under General Price. The forces met, August 10, at Wilson’s Creek, near Springfield. Price had 10,175 men, with fifteen guns, while Lyon had 5400, with sixteen guns. Lyon’s left was commanded by General Franz Sigel,[205] who passed around the right flank of the enemy and attacked in the rear. Lyon, at the head of the main army, led the advance with great gallantry, swinging his hat as he went. After being twice wounded, he still pressed on, but soon fell from a third wound, which proved mortal. Sigel’s force was cut off and routed. Lyon’s main army held its ground, but, in the night, the Union force was obliged to retire to Springfield. The Unionists lost about twelve hundred, the Confederates about a thousand.[206] A major part of the Union force now retreated to Raleigh, where they remained for the winter. Meanwhile, early in September, the “Irish Brigade,” under Colonel J. A. Mulligan, distinguished itself at Lexington, with about 2780 men, against General Price, with a besieging army of about 18,000 men and sixteen cannon. Though Mulligan and his followers were obliged finally to surrender, it was not till after three days of most desperate fighting.


471. Halleck succeeds Frémont.—In October, Missouri was visited by the Secretary of War and the Adjutant General, for the purpose of investigating the condition of affairs, of which many complaints had reached Washington. Everything was found to be in dire confusion, owing to the inability of Frémont to administer successfully so large a field. General Frémont was consequently superseded by General Henry W. Halleck, who, before the end of the year, without fighting a battle, gained possession of the entire state.


472. The Trent Affair.—Toward the close of the year 1861, an event occurred which nearly involved the Union in a war with Great Britain. In November, Captain Wilkes, a United States officer, in command of the San Jacinto, boarded a British mail steamer, The Trent, and took from her James M. Mason of Virginia and John Slidell of Louisiana, who were bound for Europe as Confederate commissioners. The right to stop and search the vessels of neutrals in time of war had long been maintained by Great Britain. The “Right of Search,” as we have seen, had been one of the causes of the War of 1812. Though often protested against, it had been generally maintained, but at the close of the Crimean War the Great Powers of Europe agreed, at the Peace of Paris, in 1856, to abandon it. To this agreement the United States, not being a member of the Congress, had not been a party, and was, therefore, not bound by it. The British government, however, insisted that the European agreement should be binding upon the United States, and immediately demanded the surrender of Mason and Slidell. Troops and vessels of war were at once sent over to Canada, and great excitement was the result. The officials of the United States replied that, although not a party to the agreement of 1856, their government had always been opposed to the “Right of Search,” and in accordance with its own principles would give up the prisoners.


473. Feeling engendered by the Trent Affair.—The incident left an angry feeling in the North toward Great Britain, for it was universally felt that the British government had shown an unmistakable partiality for the South. This feeling was further aggravated by the habitual attitude of that important newspaper, the London Times. Its offensive editorial utterances, which were generally thought to be inspired by Lord Palmerston, the Prime Minister, were the source of a vast amount of ill feeling for more than a generation.


474. Results of the First Year.—The outcome of the first year in the field was favorable to the Confederates. The Union side had lost Fort Sumter, Big Bethel, Bull Run, Ball’s Bluff, Carthage, Wilson’s Creek, and Belmont. With the exception of some small successes in West Virginia, there had been disasters in every quarter. To a superficial observer, therefore, success seemed to favor the South, and the attitude of England was easily accounted for. But there were other considerations to be taken into account. The tactful diplomacy of Lincoln and the irresistible energy of the Union sentiment had saved the states of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, and a part of Virginia from secession, and these results ought, perhaps, to be regarded as more than equivalent to the Confederate successes in the field. Not less important were the Union successes in closing the Confederate ports. The blockade was growing to be so complete as to prevent the exportation of cotton and tobacco, and thus to cut off the most important source of Confederate income. Meanwhile, there was great commercial activity between the Union states and Europe, and the government was easily and amply supplied with men and money.

For References, see end of Chapter XXV.

Senator Clingman relates an interview with Secretary Thompson, in which the Secretary described his mission (while still the Secretary of the Interior) to North Carolina to induce that state to join the other states in seceding. Thompson described, according to this authority, an interview with Buchanan, held just before he set out on this mission, and used the following language: “I told Mr. Buchanan all you said, and he told me he wished me to go, and hoped I might succeed.” The whole passage is given in Clingman’s Writings and Speeches, pp. 526, 527, and in Nicolay and Hay’s Life of Lincoln, Vol. II., p. 325.

See Letters from the Confederate Archives, given in Nicolay and Hay’s Life of Lincoln, Vol. II., pp. 316-327.

Born in Louisiana, 1818; died, 1893. Graduated at West Point, 1838; United States Engineer till 1861; resigned and entered the army of the Confederate States; opened fire on Ft. Sumter, April 12, 1861; was in command at Bull Run, July 21, 1861; succeeded Gen. A. S. Johnston at Shiloh; defended Charleston from September, 1862, to April, 1864; was transferred to Lee at Petersburg, May, 1864; tried, in September, 1864, to arrest the march of Sherman; surrendered with Johnston, April, 1865; was later connected with the Louisiana State Lottery.

The official returns show that the Union officers and men on the field numbered 17,676; the Confederate, 18,053. The Union loss was 2,896; the Confederate loss, 1,982. See Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Vol. I., pp. 195-196.

Born in Connecticut, 1818; died, 1861. Served with distinction in the Mexican War; supported Free Soil party in Kansas, 1857; was placed in command of the United States arsenal at St. Louis, 1861; succeeded General Harney in command of the Department; defeated Confederates at Boonville and at Dug Spring; was defeated by greatly superior force at Wilson’s Creek, and killed in the battle, August 10, 1861.

Born in Baden, 1824. General Sigel died in New York in 1902, and at the time of his death his services for the Union were highly eulogized.

Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Vol. I., p. 306.


the campaigns of 1862.


Edwin M. Stanton.

475. Secretary Edwin M. Stanton.—The first very important event of the year 1862 was the substitution of Edwin M. Stanton[207] for Simon Cameron, as Secretary of War, January 13. Cameron, who had been a candidate for the Presidential nomination, had been taken into the Cabinet under the policy already referred to (§ 451), but the duties soon proved too severe for his energy and his years. He was appointed Minister to Russia; and the vacant position was given to Stanton, who, as a War Democrat, had shown his ability and his spirit as Attorney-General in Buchanan’s reorganized Cabinet. Stanton at once put new life into the War Department. He was, at times, exceedingly disagreeable in his methods, but he was the terror of evil doers; and to the end of the war his marvelous energy and remarkable administrative ability made themselves felt in every branch of the service. It is doubtful if there has been any greater Minister of War in modern times.


476. Military Organization in the West.—Activities in the field began with very vigorous movements in the West. The Confederates, under General Albert Sidney Johnston (§ 478), had established a strong line in southern Kentucky, extending from Columbus to Mill Spring. They had also constructed, as already described (§ 461), two strong forts in Tennessee, just south of the Kentucky line,—Fort Henry on the Tennessee River, and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland. The organization of the Northern army in the West introduced a change in the spring of 1862. The Department of the Mississippi, which included Missouri, Arkansas, and so much of Kentucky as was west of the Cumberland River, under Major General H. W. Halleck, and the Department of the Ohio, which included the eastern parts of Kentucky and Tennessee, under Major General Don Carlos Buell, were consolidated on the 11th of March, 1862, into one department, and placed under Halleck, who thus received command of all the forces throughout the West, consisting of somewhat more than one hundred thousand men. Ulysses S. Grant,[208] who began his distinguished career in this war as colonel, had been advanced to brigadier general in consequence of a prompt and successful seizure of Cairo, and was now, though under the direction of Halleck, in command of the middle branch of the army, while Buell commanded the eastern section.


Operations in the West, 1862

General Ulysses S. Grant.

477. First Advances.—The first advance in Kentucky was made by one of Buell’s divisions under General George H. Thomas, who, on the 19th of January, defeated a force of about equal numbers under General Zollicoffer at Mill Spring and drove it back into Tennessee. Rear Admiral A. H. Foote, with a fleet of gunboats, in February advanced up the Tennessee River, and, after a severe engagement, took Fort Henry, with the commanding general and a part of the garrison as prisoners. Grant, who arrived with his army at about the same time, marched rapidly across the country and surrounded Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland. After making rapid preparations for a siege, he carried the outer works of the fort by storm, and then refused to accept any terms but “unconditional surrender.” He took some fifteen thousand prisoners (February 16), including two generals, and about twenty thousand stand of arms. This was the first great victory for the North, and the skill and vigor shown attracted the attention of the whole country. The Confederate line was in consequence so broken that the troops of the Confederacy were obliged to draw back into southern Tennessee. The Union forces soon occupied Nashville, and President Lincoln appointed Andrew Johnson, a prominent Tennessee Unionist, as military governor. Grant advanced to Nashville without waiting for orders, or even reporting the nature of his movement to Halleck. The consequence was a formal complaint of Halleck to McClellan, who had now taken the place of Scott as commanding general of all the armies of the United States. McClellan, in reply, authorized Halleck to “arrest Grant and put C. F. Smith in command.” Halleck, however, realizing the immense popularity which the “unconditional surrender” order and the success of Grant had given the latter in the North, decided not to exercise this authority, but ordered Grant back to Fort Henry, and placed C. F. Smith in charge of the expedition up the Tennessee. Grant was offended, and twice asked to be relieved of further duty in that department. But when at length Grant’s reports were received, they were so completely satisfactory that Halleck telegraphed, expressing his confidence, and Grant was satisfied. Grant’s aversion to sending detailed reports of all his movements was such that the Department at Washington sent to his headquarters a special agent, Charles A. Dana, assistant editor of the New York Tribune (afterward editor of the Sun), whose duty it was to send a daily telegraphic report. Thereafter the government was kept fully informed of Grant’s movements.


General Albert Sidney Johnston.

478. Shiloh, or Pittsburg Landing.—Grant’s army, now reënforced to about forty thousand men, crossed back to the Tennessee River, and advanced southward as far as Pittsburg Landing, near the border of Mississippi. This point and Corinth, not far below it, were of great strategic importance, because of the facility with which troops and freight could here be exchanged between the Mississippi and Tennessee rivers, and because they commanded the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, which was one of the Confederacy’s chief means of transportation from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic. To seize and hold these points was to prevent the transfer of troops and supplies. Buell’s army was hurried forward to join Grant, but the general in command of the Confederate force, Albert Sidney Johnston,[209] hastened to strike the army of Grant before Buell could arrive. Grant’s advance extended a little west of Pittsburg Landing, where the attack was first made. Early on the morning of April 6, the Confederates, led by Johnston in person, attacked with great vigor and drove the Union force back upon the river. Sherman, who commanded this part of the army, still held to the old notion that intrenchment in the field made men cowardly, and, consequently, his force came near being utterly routed. The progress of the Confederates, however, was stubbornly resisted, not only by the troops, but by the gunboats, which threw shells over the Union army into the Confederate ranks. In the afternoon of the first day the Confederates met with an irreparable loss in the death of their very able leader, Johnston, who was killed on the field. General Beauregard succeeded to the command. In the evening Buell arrived with strong reënforcements, and at the dawn of day on the 7th, Grant advanced to the attack. The Confederates made a stout resistance, but were finally driven back and forced to retreat to Corinth. The Unionists lost between thirteen and fourteen thousand, and the Confederates between ten and eleven thousand.[210] The general notion prevailed in the North that this greatest battle that had as yet been fought in America, was saved only by the arrival of Buell. Grant’s confidence in the outcome, even after the first day’s repulse, amounted to a calmness that was interpreted by many as stolid indifference.[211]


General Braxton Bragg.

479. Capture of Corinth and Memphis.—After the defeat of the Confederates at Pittsburg Landing, or, as it is more frequently called in the South, at Shiloh, the Union force pressed on and took possession of Corinth. In March, a fleet of gunboats, supported by an army under Major General John Pope, after surmounting many and great difficulties, succeeded in opening the Mississippi River from Cairo to Memphis. In June, Memphis was taken, after one of the most remarkable naval engagements of the war. The river was soon afterward opened as far south as Vicksburg. The lower Mississippi had been opened by the taking of New Orleans in April (§ 488).


480. The Battle of Pea Ridge.—While Grant had been pushing south in Kentucky and Tennessee, General S. R. Curtis had also been successful in the farther West. The Confederates, under General Van Dorn, organized in the beginning of the year a force of about sixteen thousand, including thirty-five hundred Indians, for the purpose of recovering Missouri. General Curtis, supported by General Sigel, advanced across the Arkansas line with ten thousand five hundred Union troops. The forces met at Pea Ridge (March 6). The Confederates were defeated; and after that time no very important battle occurred west of the Mississippi River.


General W. S. Rosecrans.

481. Bragg’s Raid into Kentucky.—After the losses of Shiloh and Corinth, General Beauregard’s impaired health caused him to be superseded by General Braxton Bragg,[212] a capable commander, who now determined to break through the Union lines, and, if possible, recover Tennessee and Kentucky for the Confederacy. Advancing to the eastern part of Tennessee, early in September, he turned suddenly north in the hope of marching across Kentucky and taking Louisville; but Buell advanced along a shorter line and reached Louisville before the Confederates, thus saving the principal city of the state. After much maneuvering, an indecisive battle was fought at Perryville, October 8; but the Confederates were checked. They were obliged to abandon their attempt to secure a permanent foothold and had to content themselves with carrying south long trains of supplies. Though Buell’s pursuit was not vigorous, he drove Bragg out of Kentucky. At the end of the raid, the Confederates set up defenses at Chattanooga, while the headquarters of the Union army were at Nashville.


482. Battle of Murfreesborough, or Stone River.—After securing his stores at Chattanooga, Bragg moved northwestward and erected strong works at Murfreesborough. Major General William S. Rosecrans,[213] who had now superseded Buell, advanced from Nashville with the purpose of dislodging his opponent. The armies met in a great battle on Stone River, a shallow stream which flowed between the armies, near Murfreesborough. During the first day, December 31, the Unionists were driven back, but during the second and third days, they recovered their ground. On the night of January 2, 1863, the Confederates were obliged to withdraw from the field, but the Unionists were too much crippled to follow. The battle was a costly one to both sides, the Union loss having been about thirteen thousand, and the Confederate about ten thousand. Both armies soon went into winter quarters. The battle left the control of central Tennessee in the hands of the Unionists.


483. Results in the West.—The results of the campaigns in the West were highly encouraging to the North. The Union forces had kept possession of Missouri and had got control of the larger part of Tennessee and of the Mississippi River as far south as Vicksburg. The Confederates still had the advantage of being strongly intrenched at Chattanooga, the point in eastern Tennessee through which the railroads pass from Virginia to the Southwestern states. The armies had fought with equal bravery, but the balance of success was on the side of the North.

Confederate Ram.


484. Ironclads.—In the East, the war was prosecuted, during 1862, partly by the navy and partly by the army. Before the outbreak of hostilities, ironclad vessels had played practically no part in naval warfare anywhere in the world. Experiments in protecting vessels with iron had, indeed, been made by the British and the French, but without much success. In the latter part of 1861, however, an event occurred which effected a complete revolution in the construction of war ships. The Confederates had secured at Norfolk the abandoned and partly destroyed frigate Merrimac. They decided to cut off the top of the vessel and build upon it a sort of Mansard roof so heavily plated with iron and so sloping that it could throw off the heaviest cannon shot. They also fitted up the ship with an iron prow, or beak, put in powerful engines, and filled the space within the roof with heavy guns. At about the same time, Brigadier General A. W. Ellet, an engineer in the Union army, devised and built in the West a fleet of steam rams of similar construction, which did great execution at the battle of Memphis.


Norfolk, Hampton Roads

485. First Success of the Merrimac.—On the 8th of March, 1862, the Merrimac sailed out from Norfolk into Hampton Roads. She there met a Union fleet, consisting of five of the largest ships and a number of smaller vessels. The battle was one-sided, and was soon over. The Merrimac with its prow sank the Cumberland and then drove the other vessels ashore and set several of them on fire. The whole fleet would have been destroyed had not darkness come on. The guns of the wooden ships made no impression whatever on the Merrimac. At night this destructive Confederate boat withdrew to Norfolk, intending to finish its work the next morning.


John Ericsson.

486. The Merrimac and the Monitor.—Fortunately for the North, when the Merrimac came out on the second day, she was confronted by a craft still stranger in appearance than herself. In the course of the winter, John Ericsson,[214] a great Swedish engineer, then in New York, had constructed a gunboat which he called the Monitor. It consisted of the hull of a vessel with a top as low and flat as a raft. Rising only a few inches above the water, it was made enormously strong, in order that it might carry very powerful engines, as well as its very heavy armor of iron. On its deck was a low, broad iron tower, thick enough to resist the heaviest shot, and large enough to hold two of the most powerful guns. This tower, which was said to resemble a cheese box on a raft, was revolved by machinery within the hull of the vessel. Though the tonnage of the Monitor was only nine hundred, while that of the Merrimac, owing to her heavy guns, was thirty-five hundred, the advantage was decidedly with the Monitor. When the two vessels came together, they fought for four hours with the utmost desperation. Then the Merrimac withdrew to Norfolk and soon after was destroyed by the Confederates themselves. The terror that had been felt in all the seaboard cities at the end of the first day’s victories of the Merrimac was thus relieved, and a new era in naval construction began.[215]


487. Capture of Confederate Ports.—Elsewhere on the coast, several important events took place. Commodore Goldsborough and Major General A. E. Burnside captured Roanoke Island in February, and, a little later, Fort Pulaski on the Savannah River. Several places in Florida also fell into Union hands. By these captures, the blockade was made much easier and more effective.


Admiral D. G. Farragut.

488. Capture of New Orleans.—The great event in the extreme South was the capture of New Orleans. This city was of much importance to the Confederacy, for it not only controlled the mouth of the Mississippi River, but also protected the passage from Texas to the Eastern states. A naval expedition designed to attempt the capture of the place was fitted out under Commodore D. G. Farragut,[216] with auxiliary military forces under Major General B. F. Butler. The expedition set out from Hampton Roads in February. The troops, some fifteen thousand in number, landed at Ship Island, and remained there until the fleet opened the river. The city was protected by Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip, with very heavy guns, on opposite sides of the river. From one side to the other, six massive chains were stretched; and connected with these was a huge raft of logs, extending from shore to shore and completely closing the passage. Above the raft was a fleet of thirteen Confederate gunboats and an ironclad floating battery. There were also several fire rafts, designed to burn the Union ships in case they forced a passage. Farragut bombarded the forts for a week without much effect, and then determined to force his way through the obstructions. One dark night several of the gunboats ran up to the raft and succeeded in cutting the chains so as to open a passage. A very desperate combat ensued. Farragut pushed forward with fourteen vessels, protected with chains and sand bags against the enemy’s fire. The movement of the ships was made plain by bonfires lighted along the shore. The cannonading from the works and the opposing ships was terrific; but the Confederate fleet was finally destroyed and Farragut found himself above the forts. The city was now at his mercy, and it surrendered on April 25.


489. General Butler in New Orleans.—General Benjamin F. Butler took command of New Orleans as military governor, and Farragut’s fleet passed on and soon opened the river to the vicinity of Vicksburg. The war governor with great difficulty wrought order out of chaos by a policy that was much criticised for its severity. One of the citizens defiantly pulled down the American flag, whereupon the general, after the offender had been duly convicted of the act, ordered him to be hanged. In other ways, he made it evident that the authority of the United States was not to be trifled with; but some of his orders naturally gave much offense to the people of the South. His services to the city from the point of view of sanitation are, however, generally acknowledged to have been very noteworthy.


General George B. McClellan.

490. McClellan and the Army of the Potomac.—In the East, the campaigns of 1862 were far less successful for the Union than were those in the West. McClellan,[217] whose successes in West Virginia had brought him rapidly forward, succeeded Scott, in November, 1861, as general in chief of all the armies. While, during the winter, he was successfully organizing the forces of the East, his direction of the Western armies was confusing and unsatisfactory. For this reason, and also because of his attitude toward the President, which seemed to be characterized by insubordination, his authority was limited to the Army of the Potomac. The number of parallel rivers and the swampy nature of much of the ground between Washington and Richmond, as already described (§ 460), gave excellent opportunities for defensive warfare, but made an offensive campaign, especially in the vicinity of Richmond, exceedingly difficult. The Federal government was in favor of a direct advance, such as was afterwards made by Grant; but McClellan strongly recommended a transfer of his army to the Peninsula between the York and the James rivers, and an advance upon Richmond from the southeast. Lincoln very reluctantly yielded to this plan, which had the disadvantage of separating McClellan from the forces that were to protect Washington.


491. Unfortunate Division of Forces.—Unfortunately, also, this arrangement resulted in the Union’s having in the field in the East four separate armies, under independent commanders: that under McClellan in the Peninsula; that under McDowell for the immediate protection of Washington; that under Banks in the Shenandoah Valley, to prevent the Confederates from crossing the Potomac; and that under Frémont in the passes leading to West Virginia. By reason of the ease with which the Confederates could move on interior lines from one point to another, it was possible to strike either of the Union armies with a large Confederate force before a Federal combination could be formed. Hence, though the Confederates were really much inferior in numbers, they were generally able, in the battles that ensued, to attack with a superior force. The Confederates had the further advantage of being in their own country, where every movement of the Federals was easily ascertained. In the early spring, the Union force numbered about two hundred thousand, while the Confederates had scarcely one hundred thousand; but the latter, by the conscription act of April 15, increased their forces considerably.


General Joseph E. Johnston.

492. McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign.—McClellan, with an army one hundred thousand strong, reached the lower Peninsula, between the York and the James, early in March. Here he found himself confronted by General Joseph E. Johnston[218] at Yorktown, and later at Williamsburg. Johnston’s force was less than a third of McClellan’s, yet McClellan decided not to attack, but to employ an engineer’s slow methods of siege. If a resolute attack had been made, Johnston would probably have been defeated, and McClellan would have been free to advance up the James. Johnston watched his adversary closely, well knowing that when McClellan’s siege works were ready they could not be resisted. Meanwhile the Confederate force was constantly increasing, and a precious month was gained for drilling their new recruits. On May 3, three days before McClellan was to attack, the Confederates evacuated Yorktown. McClellan ordered Hooker to pursue. Overtaking Johnston at Williamsburg, Hooker was repulsed, after which Johnston retreated rapidly towards Richmond. McClellan followed with such slowness that fourteen days were consumed in marching less than fifty miles. During the whole of these two months, he enormously overestimated the force by which he was confronted and continually asked for reënforcements. On the 17th of May, Lincoln ordered McDowell to join McClellan, but the order was not carried out, for reasons that will now be given.


Stonewall Jackson.

493. Stonewall Jackson’s Movements.—The slowness of McClellan’s advance up the Peninsula not only relieved the Confederate government of any fear for the safety of its capital, Richmond, but also showed that General Thomas J. Jackson’s corps could safely be spared for operations against the Federals in the North. In order to defeat the larger forces of McDowell, Banks, and Frémont, Jackson[219] decided first to strike the central army of the Union troops, and then to destroy the two wings in turn before they could unite. Advancing with Napoleonic rapidity from Staunton, he fell upon Banks near Winchester, Virginia, and not only routed him, May 25, but drove him across the Potomac into Maryland. Then retracing his steps, he turned his face westward, and in a similar manner overwhelmed the army of Frémont at Cross Keys, June 8. Meanwhile, General Shields of McDowell’s army, who, with a force about the size of Jackson’s, had crossed the Blue Ridge in order to assist Frémont, found, on his arrival in the Valley, that Frémont’s army had been broken up and practically dispersed. Jackson had no difficulty in defeating Shields, at Port Republic, as he had defeated the others. Thus, in thirty-five days, Jackson’s army had marched two hundred and forty-five miles, had fought three important battles, besides two minor ones, winning them all, and had practically destroyed three Union armies. He had also kept forty thousand men under McDowell from joining McClellan. Leaving a portion of his troops to keep up an appearance of activity, he now turned swiftly to the south with the major part of his force, and within a week was ready to coöperate with Lee against McClellan. His movements had been so rapid and mysterious that his departure was not detected at Washington, and McDowell was needlessly kept in his place for the defense of the capital.


494. McClellan’s Slow Advance.—While Jackson was causing havoc near Washington, McClellan was slowly making his way toward Richmond. On the 11th of May, he learned that the Confederates had evacuated Norfolk and destroyed the ironclad Merrimac, thus leaving the James open for the Federal fleet. The Monitor, with its attending vessels, came up the James River, and advanced as far as Drury’s Bluff, almost within gunshot of Richmond. Had McClellan pushed rapidly on, with the help of the fleet he could, in the opinion of many military critics, have taken the city. Richmond was thrown into consternation. But McClellan’s movements continued to be so incredibly slow that all fear was soon dispelled. Instead of keeping along the James, as he should have done as soon as he learned of the movements of the Monitor, he divided his army, putting part of his forces north of the Chickahominy and part south of it. The bridges were greatly weakened by floods, and the two divisions of the army, thus separated, were in serious danger of not being able to coöperate in case they should be attacked.


495. Confederate Attacks.—McClellan’s headquarters were at Gaines’s Mill on the north side. Johnston, on May 31, decided to attack the corps that confronted him at Fair Oaks, or Seven Pines, on the south. The beginning of the battle was favorable to the Confederates, and the Federals were saved from complete rout only by the opportune arrival of Sumner’s corps, which came over “swaying and tossing bridges” from the north. But the serious wounding of Johnston and the arrival of Sumner turned the tide, and at night the Unionists had the advantage.[220] Johnston, on account of his wound, was obliged to retire from the command. In the morning, a new bridge constructed in the night enabled reënforcements to be transferred from the north side; but McClellan, who arrived on the field only late in the day, instead of ordering an immediate pursuit, expressed himself as satisfied and recalled his army to the ground it had occupied before the battle. A Federal corps at one time was within four miles of Richmond, and it is probable that, if a prompt advance had taken place, like that of Grant on the second day at Shiloh (§ 478), the city would have fallen, for the fortifications which later made Richmond impregnable from this direction had not yet been constructed.


General R. E. Lee.

496. General Robert E. Lee.[221]—General Lee, who up to this time was Davis’s chief of staff, now succeeded Johnston as general in command. He immediately gathered the reins into his hands, and quickly showed that genius for organization and action for which he soon became so celebrated. Directing Longstreet to be prepared for an attack at any moment on his right, he devoted the major part of his energies to the construction of works which should make his lines impregnable. Though McClellan’s force was nearly twice that of Lee, the industrious Confederates were not interfered with. At length, near the last of June, Lee completed arrangements for an offensive movement. As Jackson had now finished his destructive work in the vicinity of Washington, Lee ordered him to move rapidly to the south, so as to be ready for an attack on McClellan’s flank and rear. The united forces of Lee and Jackson, amounting to fifty-five thousand, were now ready to fall upon the Federals north of the Chickahominy, just as McClellan, with the larger part of his force, was preparing to advance south of it.


497. The First of the Seven Days’ Battles.—The arrival of Jackson was half a day later than had been expected, and consequently the first Confederate attack was repulsed. But the next day, June 27, with Lee in command, the Confederates, fifty-five thousand strong, led by Jackson, Longstreet, D. H. Hill, and A. P. Hill, at Gaines’s Mill assaulted the Federals, thirty-one thousand strong, under the command of General Fitz John Porter. A stubborn and magnificent resistance was made, but it was only partially successful. Porter, however, with the help of reënforcements from Sumner, was able to withdraw in good order to the south side of the river. While the battle on the north side of the Chickahominy was going on, there were only about twenty-five thousand Confederates on the south side, under Magruder, between Richmond and the seventy thousand under McClellan. Again, however, no attempt was made to take the capital.


498. McClellan’s Change of Base.—McClellan believed that he was confronted by about one hundred and eighty thousand men, and for safety determined to change his base of supplies and transfer his army to the James River. In this move he completely deceived Lee, and, after destroying a large part of his stores, brought his army together in an orderly retreat. The Confederates pursued, and severe battles took place at Savage’s Station, Frayser’s Farm, and Glendale. The attacks of the Confederates were, however, repulsed. Finally, Lee, in opposition to the advice of his generals, determined on a desperate assault upon Malvern Hill, where McClellan was very strongly posted. The Confederates were defeated with great slaughter, July 1.[222] Then McClellan, who had won the majority of the battles, but had lost the campaign, withdrew his army to Harrison’s Landing on the James River.