A Brief History of the United States
John Bach McMaster

Part 6 out of 8

POPULATION.--When Harrison was elected in 1840, the population of our
country was 17,000,000, spread over twenty-six states and three
territories. Of these millions several hundred thousand had come from the
Old World. No records of such arrivals were kept before 1820; since that
date careful records have been made, and from them it appears that between
1820 and 1840 about 750,000 immigrants came to our shores. They were
chiefly from Ireland, England, and Germany. [1]

[Illustration: SETTLED AREA IN 1840.]

West of the mountains were over 6,000,000 people; yet but two Western
states, Arkansas (1836) and Michigan (1837), had been admitted to the
Union since 1821; and but two new Western territories, Wisconsin and Iowa,
had been organized. This meant that the Western states already admitted
were filling up with population. [2]


THE PUBLIC LANDS.--The rise of new Western states brought up the
troublesome question, What shall be done with the public lands? [3] The
Continental Congress had pledged the country to sell the lands and use the
money to pay the debt of the United States. Much was sold for this
purpose, but Congress set aside one thirty-sixth part of the public domain
for the use of local schools. [4] As the Western states made from the
public domain had received land grants for schools, many of the Eastern
states about 1821 asked for grants in aid of their schools. The Western
states objected, and both then and in later times asked that all the
public lands within their borders be given to them or sold to them for a
small sum. After 1824 efforts were made by Benton and others to reduce the
price of land to actual settlers. [5] But Congress did not adopt any of
these measures. After 1830, when the public debt was nearly paid, Clay
attempted to have the money derived from land sales distributed among all
the states. The question what to do with the lands was discussed year
after year. At last in 1841 (while Tyler was President) Clay's bill became
a law with the proviso that the money should not be distributed if the
tariff rates were increased. The tariff rates were soon increased (1842),
and but one distribution was made.

THE INDIANS.--Another result of the filling up of the country was the
crowding of the Indians from their lands. They had always been regarded as
the rightful owners of the soil till their title should be extinguished by
treaty. Many such treaties had been made, ceding certain areas but
reserving others on which the whites were not to settle. But population
moved westward so rapidly that it seemed best to set apart a region beyond
the Mississippi and move all the Indians there as quickly as possible. [6]
In 1834, therefore, such a region, an "Indian Country," was created in
what was later called Indian Territory, and the work of removal began.

In the South this proved a hard matter. In Georgia the Creeks and
Cherokees refused for a while to go, and by so doing involved the federal
government in serious trouble with Georgia and with the Indians. In 1835
an attempt to move the Seminoles from Florida to the Indian Country caused
a war which lasted seven years and cost millions of dollars. [7]

INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS.--Another issue with which the growth of the West
had much to do was that of government aid to roads, canals, and railroads.
Much money was spent on the Cumberland Road; [18] but in 1817 Madison
vetoed a bill appropriating money to be divided among the states for
internal improvements, and from that time down to Van Buren's day the
question of the right of Congress to use money for such purposes was
constantly debated in Congress. [9]

[Illustration: THE NATIONAL ROAD.]

THE STATES BUILD CANALS AND ROADS.--All this time population was
increasing, the West was growing, interstate trade was developing, new
towns and villages were springing up, and farms increasing in number as
the people moved to the new lands. The need of cheap transportation became
greater and greater each year, and as Congress would do nothing, the
states took upon themselves the work of building roads and canals.

What a canal could do to open up a country was shown when the Erie Canal
was finished in 1825 (see p. 273). So many people by that time had settled
along its route, that the value of land and the wealth of the state were
greatly increased. [10] The merchants of New York could then send their
goods up the Hudson, by the canal to Buffalo, and then to Cleveland or
Detroit, or by Chautauqua Lake and the Allegheny to Pittsburg, for about
one third of what it cost before the canal was opened (maps, pp. 267,
279). Buffalo began to grow with great rapidity, and in a few years its
trade had reached Chicago. In 1839 eight steamboats plied between these
two towns.

A TRIP ON A CANAL PACKET.--Passengers traveled on the canal in packet
boats, as they were called. The hull of such a craft was eighty feet long
and eleven feet wide, and carried on its deck a long, low house with flat
roof and sloping sides. In each side were a dozen or more windows with
green blinds and red curtains. When the weather was fine, passengers sat
on the roof, reading, talking, or sewing, till the man at the helm called
"Low bridge!" when everybody would rush down the steps and into the cabin,
to come forth once more when the bridge was passed. Walking on the roof
when the packet was crowded was impossible. Those who wished such exercise
had to take it on the towpath. Three horses abreast could drag a packet
boat some four miles an hour.


WESTERN ROUTES.--Aroused by the success of the Erie Canal, Pennsylvania
began a great highway from Philadelphia to Pittsburg. As planned, it was
to be part canal and part turnpike over the mountains. But before it was
completed, railroads came into use, and when finished, it was part
railroad, part canal. Not to be outdone by New York and Pennsylvania, the
people of Baltimore began the construction (1828) of the Baltimore and
Ohio Railroad, the first in the country for the carriage of passengers and
freight. [11] Massachusetts, alarmed at the prospect of losing her trade
with the West, appointed (1827) a commission and an engineer to select a
route for a railroad to join Boston and Albany. Ohio had already commenced
a canal from Cleveland to the Ohio. [12]

EARLY RAILROADS.--The idea of a public railroad to carry freight and
passengers was of slow growth, [13] but once it was started more and more
miles were built every year, till by 1835 twenty-two railroads were in
operation. The longest of them was only one hundred and thirty-six miles
long; it extended from Charleston westward to the Savannah River, opposite
Augusta. These early railroads were made of wooden beams resting on stone
blocks set in the ground. The upper surface of the beams, where the wheels
rested, was protected by long strips or straps of iron spiked to the beam.
The spikes often worked loose, and, as the car passed over, the strap
would curl up and come through the bottom of the car, making what was
called a "snake head."

[Illustration: AN EARLY RAILROAD.]

What should be the motive power, was a troublesome question. The horse was
the favorite; it sometimes pulled the car, and sometimes walked on a
treadmill on the car. Sails were tried also, and finally locomotives. [14]

Locomotives could not climb steep grades. When a hill was met with, the
road had to go around it, or if this was not possible, the engine had to
be taken off and the cars pulled up or let down an inclined plane by means
of a rope and stationary engine. [15]

A TRIP ON AN EARLY RAILROAD.--A traveler from Philadelphia to Pittsburg,
in 1836, would set off about five o'clock in the morning for what was
called the depot. There his baggage would be piled on the roof of a car,
which was drawn by horses to the foot of an inclined plane on the bank of
the Schuylkill. Up this incline the car would be drawn by a stationary
engine and rope to the top of the river bank. When all the cars of the
train had been pulled up in this way, they would be coupled together and
made fast to a little puffing, wheezing locomotive without cab or brake,
whose tall smokestack sent forth volumes of wood smoke and red-hot
cinders. At Lancaster (map, p. 267) the railroad ended, and passengers
went by stage to Columbia on the Susquehanna, and then by canal packet up
that river and up the Juniata to the railroad at the foot of the


The mountains were crossed by the Portage Railroad, a series of inclined
planes and levels somewhat like a flight of steps. At Johnstown, west of
the Alleghenies, the traveler once more took a canal packet to Pittsburg.

THE WEST BUILDS RAILROADS AND CANALS.--Prior to 1836 most of the railroads
and canals were in the East. But in 1836 the craze for internal
improvements raged in Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, and in each an
elaborate system of railroads and canals was planned, to be built by the
state. Illinois in this way contracted a debt of $15,000,000; Indiana,
$10,000,000, and Michigan, $5,000,000.

But scarcely was work begun on the canals and railroads when the panic of
1837 came, and the states were left with heavy debts and unfinished public
works that could not pay the cost of operating them. Some defaulted in the
payment of interest, and one even repudiated her bonds which she had
issued and sold to establish a great bank.

THE MAILS.--As the means of transportation improved, the mails were
carried more rapidly, and into more distant parts of the country. By 1837
it was possible to send a letter from New York to Washington in one day,
to New Orleans in less than seven days, to St. Louis in less than five
days, and to Buffalo in three days; and after 1838 mail was carried by
steamships to England in a little over two weeks.

[Illustration: THE SAVANNAH.]

OCEAN STEAMSHIPS.--In the month of May, 1819, the steamship
_Savannah_ left the city of that name for Liverpool, England, and reached
it in twenty-five days, using steam most of the way. She was a side-
wheeler with paddle wheels so arranged that in stormy weather they could
be taken in on deck. [17]

No other steamships crossed the Atlantic till 1838, when the _Sirius_
reached New York in eighteen days, and the _Great Western_ in sixteen
days from England. Others followed, in 1839 the Cunard line was founded,
and regular steam navigation of the Atlantic was established.

EXPRESS.--Better means of communication made possible another convenience,
of which W. F. Harnden was the originator. He began in 1839 to carry
packages, bundles, money, and small boxes between New York and Boston,
traveling by steamboat and railroad. At first two carpetbags held all he
had to carry; but his business increased so rapidly that in 1840 P. B.
Burke and Alvin Adams started a rival concern which became the Adams
Express Company.

[Illustration: CARPETBAG.]

MECHANICAL DEVELOPMENT.--The greater use of the steamboat, the building of
railroads, and the introduction of the steam locomotive, were but a few
signs of the marvelous industrial and mechanical development of the times.
The growth and extent of the country, the opportunities for doing business
on a great scale, led to a demand for time-saving and labor-saving

One of the characteristics of the period 1820-40, therefore, is the
invention and introduction of such machinery. Boards were now planed, and
bricks pressed, by machine. It was during this period that the farmers
began to give up the flail for the thrashing machine; that paper was
extensively made from straw; that Fairbanks invented the platform scales;
that Colt invented the revolver; that steel pens were made by machine; and
that a rude form of friction match was introduced. [18]

Anthracite coal was now in use in the large towns and cities, and grate
and coal stoves were displacing open fires and wood stoves, just as gas
was displacing candles and lamps.

THE CITIES AND TOWNS.--The increase of manufacturing in the northeastern
part of the country caused the rise of large towns given up almost
exclusively to mills and factories and the homes of workmen. [19] The
increase of business, trade, and commerce, and the arrival of thousands of
immigrants each year, led to a rapid growth of population in the seaports
and chief cities of the interior. This produced many changes in city life.
The dingy oil lamps in the streets, lighted only when the moon did not
shine, were giving way to gas lights. The constable and the night watchman
with his rattle were being replaced by the policeman. Such had been the
increase in population and area of the chief cities, that some means of
cheap transportation about the streets was needed, and in 1830 a line of
omnibuses was started in New York city. So well did it succeed that other
lines were started; and three years later omnibuses were used in

[Illustration: NEW YORK OMNIBUS, 1830. From a print of the time.]

THE WORKINGMAN.--The growth of manufactures and the building of works of
internal improvement produced a demand for workmen of all sorts, and
thousands came over, or were brought over, from the Old World. The
unskilled were employed on the railroads and canals; the skilled in the
mills, factories, and machine shops.

As workingmen increased in number, trades unions were formed, and efforts
were made to secure better wages and a shorter working day. In this they
succeeded: after a long series of strikes in 1834 and 1835 the ten-hour
day was adopted in Philadelphia and Baltimore, and in 1840, by order of
President Van Buren, went into force "in all public establishments" under
the federal government.

THE SOUTH.--No such labor issues troubled the southern half of the
country. There the laborer was owned by the man whose lands he cultivated,
and strikes, lockouts, questions of wages, and questions of hours were
unknown. The mills, factories, machine shops, the many diversified
industries of the Northern states were unknown. In the great belt of
states from North Carolina to the Texas border, the chief crop was cotton.
These states thus had two common bonds of union: the maintenance of the
institution of negro slavery, and the development of a common industry. As
the people of the free states developed different sorts of industry, they
became less and less like the people of the South, and in time the two
sections were industrially two separate communities. The interests of the
people being different, their opinions on great national issues were
different and sectional.

REFORMS.--As we have seen, a great antislavery agitation (p; 293) occurred
during the period 1820-40. It was only one of many reform movements of the
time. State after state abolished imprisonment for debt, [20] lessened the
severity of laws for the punishment of crime, extended the franchise, [21]
or right to vote, reformed the discipline of prisons, and established
hospitals and asylums. So eager were the people to reform anything that
seemed to be wrong, that they sometimes went to extremes. [22] The
antimasonic movement (p. 292) was such a movement for reform; the Owenite
movement was another. Sylvester Graham preaching reform in diet, Mrs.
Bloomer advocating reform in woman's dress, and Joseph Smith, who founded
Mormonism, were but so many advocates of reform of some sort.

Owen believed that poverty came from individual ownership, and the
accumulation of more money by one man than by another. He believed that
people should live in communities in which everything--lands, houses,
cattle, products of the soil--are owned by the community; that the
individual should do his work, but be fed, housed, clothed, educated, and
amused by the community. Owen's teachings were well received, and Owenite
communities were founded in many places in the West and in New York, only
to end in failure. [23]

MORMONISM had better fortune. Joseph Smith, its founder, published in 1830
the _Book of Mormon_, as an addition to the Bible. [24] A church was
next organized, missionaries were sent about the country, and in 1831 the
sect moved to Kirtland in Ohio, and there built a temple. Trouble with
other sects and with the people forced them to move again, and they went
to Missouri. But there, too, they came in conflict with the people, were
driven from one county to another, and in 1839-40 were driven from the
state by force of arms. A refuge was then found in Illinois, where, on the
banks of the Mississippi, they founded the town of Nauvoo. In spite of
their wanderings they had increased in number, and were a prosperous
community. [25]

[Illustration: PACK ANIMALS.]

THE GREAT WEST EXPLORED.--During the twenty years since Major Long's
expedition, the country beyond the Missouri had been more fully explored.
In 1822 bands of merchants at St. Louis began to trade with Santa Fe,
sending their goods on the backs of mules and in wagons, thus opening up
what was known as the Santa Fe trail. One year later a trapper named
Prevost found the South Pass over the Rocky Mountains, and entered the
Great Salt Lake country. [26] This was the beginning, and year after year
bands of trappers wandered over what was then Mexican territory but is now
part of our country, from the Great Salt Lake to the lower Colorado River,
and from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific. [27]

[Illustration: THE FAR WEST IN 1840.]

Between 1830 and 1832 Hall J. Kelley attempted to found a colony in
Oregon, but failed, as did another leader, Nathaniel J. Wyeth. [28] Wyeth
tried again in 1834, but his settlements were not permanent. A few fur
traders and missionaries to the Indians had better fortune; but in 1840
most of the white men in the Oregon country were British fur traders. It
was not till 1842 that the tide of American migration began to set
strongly toward Oregon; but within a few years after that time the
Americans there greatly outnumbered the British.


1. In 1840 the population of the country was 17,000,000, of whom more than
a third dwelt west of the Allegheny Mountains.

2. For twenty years there had been much discussion about the disposition
of the public lands; but Congress did not give up the plan of selling them
for the benefit of the United States.

3. As population increased, the Indians were pushed further and further
west. Some went to the Indian Country peaceably. In Georgia and Florida
they resisted.

4. As Congress would not sanction a general system of federal
improvements, the states built canals and railroads for themselves.

5. The success of those in the East encouraged the Western states to
undertake like improvements. But they plunged the states into debt.

6. The period was one of great mechanical development, and many inventions
of world-wide use date from this time.

7. The growth of manufactures produced great manufacturing towns, and the
increase of artisans and mechanics led to the formation of trades unions.

8. The unrest caused by the rapid development, of the country invited
reforms of all sorts, and many--social, industrial, and political--were


[1] In the early thirties much excitement was aroused by the arrival of
hundreds of paupers sent over from England by the parishes to get rid of
them. But when Congress investigated the matter, it was found not to be so
bad as represented, though a very serious evil.

[2] Life in the West at this period is well described in Eggleston's
_Hoosier Schoolmaster_ and _The Graysons_.

[3] The credit system of selling lands (p. 241) was abolished in 1820,
because a great many purchasers could not pay for what they bought.

[4] The public domain is laid off in townships six miles square. Each
township is subdivided into 36 sections one mile square, and the sixteenth
section in each township was set apart in 1785 for the use of schools in
the township. This provision was applied to new states erected from the
public domain down to 1848; in states admitted after that time both the
sixteenth and the thirty-sixth sections have been set apart for this
purpose. In addition to this, before 1821, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois,
Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana had each received two entire townships
for the use of colleges and academies.

[5] After the Indian title to land was extinguished, the land was surveyed
and offered for sale at auction. Land which did not sell at auction could
be purchased at private sale for $1.25 an acre. Benton proposed that land
which did not sell at private sale within five years should be offered at
50 cents an acre, and if not sold, should be given to any one who would
cultivate it for three years.

[6] An attempt to remove the Indians in northern Illinois and in Wisconsin
led to the Black Hawk War in 1832. The Indians had agreed to go west, but
when the settlers entered on their lands, Black Hawk induced the Sacs and
Foxes to resist, and a short war was necessary to subdue them.

[7] The leader was Osceola, a chief of much ability, who perpetrated
several massacres before he was captured. In 1837 he visited the, camp of
General Jesup under a flag of truce, and was seized and sent to Fort
Moultrie, near Charleston, where he died. His followers were beaten (1837)
in a hard-fought battle by Colonel Zachary Taylor, but kept up the war
till 1842.

[8] When Ohio was admitted (p. 241), Congress promised to use a part of
the money from the sale of land to build a road joining the Potomac and
Ohio rivers. Work on the National Road, as it was called, was started in
1811. It began at Cumberland on the Potomac and reached the Ohio at
Wheeling. But Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois demanded that the road be
extended, and in time it was built through Columbus and Indianapolis to
Vandalia. Thence it was to go to Jefferson City in Missouri; but a dispute
arose as to whether it should cross the Mississippi at Alton or at St.
Louis, and work on it was stopped.

[9] Jackson vetoed several bills for internal improvements, and the
hostility of his party to such a use of government money was one of the
grievances of the Whigs.

[10] For a description of life in central New York, read _My Own Story_,
by J. T. Trowbridge.

[11] The first railroad in our country was used in 1807, at Boston, to
carry earth from a hilltop to grade a street. Others, only a few miles
long, were soon used to carry stone and coal from quarry and mine to the
wharf--in 1810 near Philadelphia, in 1826 at Quincy (a little south of
Boston), in 1827 at Mauchchunk (Pennsylvania). All of these were private
roads and carried no passengers.

[12] While the means of travel were improving, the inns and towns even
along the great stage routes had not improved. "When you alight at a
country tavern," said a traveler, "it is ten to one you stand holding your
horse, bawling for the hostler while the landlord looks on. Once inside
the tavern every man, woman, and child plies you with questions. To get a
dinner is the work of hours. At night you are put into a room with a dozen
others and sleep two or three in a bed. In the morning you go outside to
wash your face and then repair to the barroom to see your face in the only
looking glass the tavern contains." Another traveler complains that at the
best hotel in New York there was neither glass, mug, cup, nor carpet, and
but one miserable rag dignified by the name of towel.

[Illustration: MANSION HOUSE, 39 BROADWAY, NEW YORK, IN 1831.]

[13] As early as 1814 John Stevens applied to New Jersey for a railroad
charter, and when it was granted, he sought to persuade the New York Canal
Commission to build a railroad instead of a canal. In 1823 Pennsylvania
granted Stevens and his friends a charter to build a railroad from
Philadelphia to the Susquehanna. In 1825 Stevens built a circular road at
Hoboken and used a steam locomotive to show the possibility of such a
means of locomotion. But all these schemes were ahead of the times.

[14] The friends of canals bitterly opposed railroads as impractical.
Snow, it was said, would block them for weeks. If locomotives were used,
the sparks would make it impossible to carry hay or other things
combustible. The boilers would blow up as they did on steamboats. Canals
were therefore safer and cheaper. Read McMaster's _History of the People
of the U. S._, Vol. VI, pp. 87-89.

[15] Almost all the early roads used this device. There was one such
inclined plane at Albany; another at Belmont, now in Philadelphia; a third
on the Paterson and Hudson Railroad near Paterson; and a fourth on the
Baltimore and Ohio. When Pennsylvania built her railroad over the
Allegheny Mountains, many such planes were necessary, so that the Portage
Railroad, as it was called, was a wonder of engineering skill.

[16] The state built the railroads, like the canals, as highways open to
everybody. At first no cars or motive power, except at the inclined
planes, were supplied. Any car owner could carry passengers or freight who
paid the state two cents a mile for each passenger and $4.92 for each car
sent over the rails. After 1836 the state provided locomotives and charged
for hauling cars.

[17] The captain of a schooner, seeing her smoke, thought she was a ship
on fire and started for her, "but found she went faster with fire and
smoke than we possibly could with all sails set. It was then that we
discovered that what we supposed a vessel on fire was nothing less than a
steamboat crossing the Western Ocean." In June, when off the coast of
Ireland, she was again mistaken for a ship on fire, and one of the king's
revenue cutters was sent to her relief and chased her for a day.

[18] A common form was known as the loco-foco. In 1835 the Democratic
party in New York city was split into two factions, and on the night for
the nomination of candidates for office one faction got possession of the
hall by using a back door. But the men of the other faction drove it from
the room and were proceeding to make their nominations when the gas was
cut off. For this the leaders were prepared, and taking candles out of
their pockets lit them with loco-foco matches. The next morning a
newspaper called them "Loco-Focos," and in time the name was applied to a
wing of the Democratic party.

[19] Good descriptions of life in New England are Lucy Larcom's _New
England Girlhood_; T. B. Aldrich's _Story of a Bad Boy_; and E. E. Hale's
_New England Boyhood_.

[20] Read Whittier's _Prisoner for Debt_.

[21] In Rhode Island many efforts to have the franchise extended came to
naught. The old colonial charter was still in force, and under it no man
could vote unless he owned real estate worth $134 or renting for $7 a
year, or was the eldest son of such a "freeman." After the Whig victory in
1840, however, a people's party was organized, and adopted a state
constitution which extended the franchise, and under which Thomas W. Dorr
was elected governor. Dorr attempted to seize the state property by force,
and establish his government; but his party and his state officials
deserted him, and he was arrested, tried, found guilty of treason, and
sentenced to life imprisonment. He was finally pardoned, and in 1842 a
state constitution was regularly adopted, and the old charter abandoned.

[22] In New York many people were demanding a reform in land tenure. One
of the great patroonships granted by the Dutch West India Company (p. 72)
still remained in the Van Rensselaer family. The farmers on this vast
estate paid rent in produce. When the patroon, Stephen Van Rensselaer,
died in 1839, the heir attempted to collect some overdue rents; but the
farmers assembled, drove off the sheriff, and so compelled the government
to send militia to aid the sheriff. The Anti-rent War thus started dragged
on till 1846, during which time riots, outrages, some murders, and much
disorder took place. Again and again the militia were called out. In the
end the farmers were allowed to buy their farms, and the old leasehold
system was destroyed. Cooper's novels _The Redskins_, _The Chainbearer_,
and _Satanstoe_ relate to these troubles. So also does Ruth Hall's
_Downrenter's Son_.

[23] Read McMaster's _History of the People of the U. S._, Vol. V, pp. 90-

[24] Joseph Smith asserted that in a vision the angel of the Lord told him
to dig under a stone on a certain hill near Palmyra, New York, and that on
doing so he found plates of gold inscribed with unknown characters, and
two stones or crystals, on looking through which he was enabled to
translate the characters.

[25] Read McMaster's _History of the People of the U. S._, Vol. VI,
pp. 102-107; 454-458.

[26] In 1824 W. H. Ashley led a party from St. Louis up the Platte River,
over the mountains, and well down the Green River, and home by Great Salt
Lake, the South Pass, the Big Horn, the Yellowstone, and the Missouri. In
1826 Ashley and a party went through the South Pass, dragging a six-pound
cannon, the first wheeled vehicle known to have crossed the mountains
north of the Santa Fe trail, The cannon was put in a trading post on Utah

[27] In 1826 Jedediah Smith with fifteen trappers went from near the Great
Salt Lake to the lower Colorado River, crossed to San Diego, and went up
California and over the Sierra Nevada to Great Salt Lake. In 1827, with
another party, Smith went over the same ground to the lower Colorado,
where the Indians killed ten of his men and stole his property. With two
companions Smith walked to San Jose, where the Mexicans seized him. At
Monterey (mon-te-r) an American ship captain secured his release, and
with a new band of followers Smith went to a fork of the Sacramento River.
While Smith and his party were in Oregon in 1828, the Indians massacred
all but five of them. The rest fled and Smith went on alone to Fort
Vancouver, a British fur-trading post on the Columbia River. Up this river
Smith went (in the spring of 1829) to the mountains, turned southward, and
in August, near the head waters of the Snake River, met two of his
partners. Together they crossed the mountains to the source of the Big
Horn, and then one went on to St. Louis. Early in 1830 he returned with
eighty-two men and ten wagons. This was the first wagon train on the
Oregon trail.

[28] Wyeth had joined Kelley's party; but finding that it would not start
for some time, he withdrew, and organized a company to trade in Oregon,
and early in 1832, with twenty-nine companions, left Boston, went to St.
Louis, joined a band of trappers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, and
went with them to a great Indian fair on the upper waters of the Snake
River. There some of his companions deserted him, as others had done along
the way. With the rest Wyeth reached Fort Vancouver, where the company
went to pieces, and in 1833 Wyeth returned to Boston.



TYLER AND THE WHIGS QUARREL.--When Congress (in May, 1841) first met in
Tyler's term, Clay led the Whigs in proposing measures to carry out their
party principles. But Tyler vetoed their bill establishing a new national
bank. The Whigs then made some changes to suit, as they supposed, his
objections, and sent him a bill to charter a Fiscal Corporation; but this
also came back with a veto; whereupon his Cabinet officers (all save
Daniel Webster, Secretary of State) resigned, and the Whig members of
Congress, in an address to the people, read him out of the party. Later in
his term Tyler vetoed two tariff bills, but finally approved a third,
known as the Tariff of 1842. For these uses of the veto power the Whigs
thought of impeaching him; but did not.


WEBSTER-ASHBURTON TREATY.--When Tyler's cabinet officers resigned, Webster
remained in order to conclude a new treaty with Great Britain, [1] by
which our present northeastern boundary was fixed from the St. Croix to
the St. Lawrence. Neither power obtained all the territory it claimed
under the treaty of 1783, but the disputed region was divided about
equally between them. [2]

Soon after the treaty was concluded Webster resigned the secretaryship of
state, and the rupture between Tyler and the Whigs was complete.

THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS.--The great event of Tyler's time was the decision
to annex the republic of Texas.

[Illustration: THE ALAMO.]

In 1821 Mexico secured her independence of Spain, and about three years
afterward adopted the policy of granting a great tract of land in Texas to
anybody who, under certain conditions, and within a certain time, would
settle a specified number of families on the grant. To colonize in this
way at once became popular in the South, and in a few years thousands of
American citizens were settled in Texas.

For a while all went well; but in 1833 serious trouble began between the
Mexican government and the Texans, who in 1836 declared their
independence, founded the republic of Texas, [3] and sought admission into
our Union as a state. Neither Jackson nor Van Buren favored annexation, so
the question dragged on till 1844, when Tyler made with Texas a treaty of
annexation and sent it to the Senate. That body refused assent.

[Illustration: THE WAR WITH MEXICO.]

THE DEMOCRATS AND TEXAS.--The issue was thus forced. The Democratic
national convention of 1844 claimed that Texas had once been ours, [4] and
declared for its "reannexation." To please the Northern Democrats it also
declared for the "reoccupation" of Oregon up to 54 40'. This meant that
we should compel Great Britain to abandon all claim to that country, and
make it all American soil.

The Democrats went into the campaign with the popular cries, "The
reannexation of Texas;" "The whole of Oregon or none;" "Texas or
disunion"--and elected Polk [5] after a close contest.

TEXAS ANNEXED; OREGON DIVIDED.--Tyler, regarding the triumph of the
Democrats as an instruction from the people to annex Texas, urged Congress
to do so at once, and in March, 1845, a resolution for the admission of
Texas passed both houses, and was signed by the President. [6] The
resolution provided also that out of her territory four additional states
might be made if Texas should consent. The boundaries were in dispute, but
in the end Texas was held to have included all the territory from the
boundary of the United States to the Rio Grande and a line extending due
north from its source.

After Texas was annexed, notice was served on Great Britain that joint
occupation of Oregon must end in one year. The British minister then
proposed a boundary treaty which was concluded in a few weeks (1846). The
line agreed on was the 49th parallel from the Rocky Mountains to the
Strait of Juan de Fuca (hoo-ahn' da foo'ca), and by it to the Pacific
Ocean (compare maps, pp. 278 and 330).

WAR WITH MEXICO.--Mexico claimed that the real boundary of Texas was the
Nueces (nw'sess) River. When, therefore, Polk (in 1846) sent General
Zachary Taylor with an army to the Rio Grande, the Mexicans attacked him;
but he beat them at Palo Alto (pah'lo ahl'to) and again near by at Resaca
de la Palma (ra-sah'ca da lah pahl'ma), and drove them across the Rio
Grande. When President Polk heard of the first attack, he declared that
"Mexico has shed American blood upon American soil.... War exists,... and
exists by the act of Mexico herself." Congress promptly voted men and
money for the war.

MONTEREY.--Taylor, having crossed the Rio Grande, marched to Monterey and
(September, 1846) attacked the city. It was fortified with strong stone
walls in the fashion of Old World cities; the flat-roofed houses bristled
with guns; and across every street was a barricade. In three days of
desperate fighting our troops forced their way into the city, entered the
buildings, made their way from house to house by breaking through the
walls or ascending to the roofs, and reached the center of the city before
the Mexicans surrendered the town.

NEW MEXICO AND CALIFORNIA.--Immediately after the declaration of war,
Colonel Stephen W. Kearny with a force of men set off (June, 1846) by the
old Santa Fe trail and (August 18) captured Santa Fe without a struggle,
established a civil government, declared New Mexico annexed to the United
States, and then started to take possession of California. But California
had already been conquered by the Americans. In June, 1846, some three
hundred American settlers, believing that war was imminent and fearing
they would be attacked, revolted, adopted a flag on which was a grizzly
bear, and declared California an independent republic. Fremont, who had
been exploring in California, came to their aid (July 5), and two days
later Commodore Sloat with a naval force entered Monterey and raised the
flag there. In 1847 (January 8, 9) battles were fought with the Mexicans
of California; but the Americans held the country.

BUENA VISTA.--Toward the close of 1846 General Winfield Scott was put in
command of the army in Mexico, and ordered Taylor to send a large part of
the army to meet him at Vera Cruz (v'ra kroos). Santa Anna, hearing of
this, gathered 18,000 men and at Buena Vista, in a narrow valley at the
foot of the mountains, attacked Taylor (February 23, 1847). The battle
raged from morning to night. Again and again the little American army of
5000 seemed certain to be overcome by the 18,000 Mexicans. But they fought
on desperately, and when night came, both armies left the field. [7]

[Illustration: GENERAL TAYLOR AT BUENA VISTA. From an old print.]

THE MARCH TO MEXICO.--Scott landed at Vera Cruz in March, 1847, took the
castle and city after a siege of fifteen days, and about a week later set
off for the city of Mexico, winning victory after victory on the way. The
heights of Cerro Gordo were taken by storm, and the army of Santa Anna was
beaten again at Jalapa (ha-lah'pa). Puebla (pw'bla) surrendered at
Scott's approach, and there he waited three months. But on August 7 Scott
again started westward with 10,000 men, and three days later looked down
on the distant city of Mexico surrounded by broad plains and snow-capped

[Illustration: CATHEDRAL, MEXICO.]

Then followed in quick succession the victory at Contreras (kn-tr'ras),
the storming of the heights of Churubusco, the victory at Molino del Rey
(m-lee'no del r') the storming of the castle of Chapultepec' perched on
a lofty rock, and the triumphal entry into Mexico (September 14). [8]

THE TERMS OF PEACE (1848).--The republic of Mexico was now a conquered
nation and might have been added to our domain; but the victors were
content to retain Upper California and New Mexico--the region from the Rio
Grande to the Pacific, and from the Gila River to Oregon (compare maps,
pp. 318, 330). For this great territory we paid Mexico $15,000,000, and in
addition paid some $3,500,000 of claims our citizens had against her for
injury to their persons or property. [9]


Mexico having been ratified and the territory acquired, it became the duty
of Congress to provide the people with some American form of government.
There needed to be American governors, courts, legislatures, customhouses,
revenue laws, in short a complete change from the Mexican way of
governing. To do this would have been easy if it had not been for the fact
that (in 1827) Mexico had abolished slavery. All the territory acquired
was therefore free soil; but the South wished to make it slave soil. The
question of the hour thus became, Shall New Mexico and California be slave
soil or free soil? [10]

THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN OF 1848.--So troublesome was the issue that the
two great parties tried to keep it out of politics. The Democrats in their
platform in 1848 said nothing about slavery in the new territory, and the
Whigs made no platform. This action of the two parties so displeased the
antislavery Whigs and Wilmot Proviso Democrats that they held a
convention, formed the Free-soil party, [11] nominated Martin Van Buren
for President, and drew away so many New York Democrats from their party
that the Whigs carried the state and won the presidential election. [12]
On March 5, 1849 (March 4 was Sunday), Taylor [13] and Fillmore [14] were


GOLD IN CALIFORNIA.--By this time the question of slavery in the new
territory was still more complicated by the discovery of gold in
California. Many years before this time a Swiss settler named J. A. Sutter
had obtained a grant of land in California, where the city of Sacramento
now stands. In 1848 James W. Marshall, while building a sawmill for Sutter
at Coloma, some fifty miles away from Sutter's Fort, discovered gold in
the mill race. Both Sutter and Marshall attempted to keep the fact secret,
but their strange actions attracted the attention of a laborer, who also
found gold. Then the news spread fast, and people came by hundreds and by
thousands to the gold fields. [15] Later in the year the news reached the
East, and when Polk in his annual message confirmed the rumors, the rush
for California began. Some went by vessel around Cape Horn. Others took
ships to the Isthmus of Panama, crossed it on foot, and sailed to San
Francisco. Still others hurried to the Missouri to make the overland
journey across the plains. [16] By August, 1849, some eighty thousand gold
hunters, "forty-niners," as they came to be called, had reached the mines.

[Illustration: A ROCKER.]

THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA.--As Congress had provided no government, and as
scarcely any could be said to exist, the people held a convention, made a
free-state constitution, and applied for admission into the Union as a

ISSUES BETWEEN THE NORTH AND THE SOUTH.--The election of Taylor, and
California's application for statehood, brought on a crisis between the
North and the South.

Most of the people in the North desired no more slave states and no more
slave territories, abolition of slavery and the slave trade in the
District of Columbia, and the admission of California as a free state.

The South opposed these things; complained of the difficulty of capturing
slaves that escaped to the free states, and of the constant agitation of
the slavery question by the abolitionists; and demanded that the Mexican
cession be left open to slavery.

Since 1840 two slave-holding states, Florida and Texas (1845), and two
free states, Iowa (1846) and Wisconsin (1848), had been admitted to the
Union, making fifteen free and fifteen slave states in all; and the South
now opposed the admission of California, partly because it would give the
free states a majority in the Senate.

THE COMPROMISE OF 1850.--At this stage Henry Clay was again sent to the
Senate. He had powerfully supported two great compromise measures--the
Missouri Compromise of 1820, and the Compromise Tariff of 1833. He
believed that the Union was in danger of destruction; but that if the two
parties would again compromise, it could be saved.

To please the North he now proposed (1) that California should be admitted
as a free state, and (2) that the slave trade (buying and selling slaves),
but not the right to own slaves, should be abolished in the District of
Columbia. To please the South he proposed (1) that Congress should pass a
more stringent law for the capture of fugitive slaves, and (2) that two
territories, New Mexico and Utah, should be formed from part of the
Mexican purchase, with the understanding that the people in them should
decide whether they should be slave soil or free. This principle was
called "squatter sovereignty," or "popular sovereignty."

[Illustration: CLAY ADDRESSING THE SENATE IN 1850. From an old engraving.]

Texas claimed the Rio Grande as part of her west boundary. But the United
States claimed the part of New Mexico east of the Rio Grande, and both
sides seemed ready to appeal to arms. Clay proposed that Texas should give
up her claim and be paid for so doing.

During three months this plan was hotly debated, [18] and threats of
secession and violence were made openly. But in the end the plan was
accepted: (1) California was admitted, (2) New Mexico and Utah were
organized as territories open to slavery, (3) Texas took her present
bounds (see maps, pp. 318, 330) and received $10,000,000, (4) a new
fugitive slave law [19] was passed, and (5) the slave _trade_ was
prohibited in the District of Columbia. These measures together were
called the Compromise of 1850.

DEATH OF TAYLOR.--While the debate on the compromise was under way, Taylor
died (July 9, 1850) and Fillmore was sworn into office as President for
the remainder of the term.


1. Congress in 1841 passed two bills for chartering a new national bank,
but President Tyler vetoed both. The Whig leaders then declared that Tyler
was not a Whig.

2. The next year the Webster-Ashburton treaty settled a long-standing
dispute over the northeastern boundary.

3. In 1844 the Democrats declared for the annexation of Texas and Oregon,
and elected Polk President. Congress then quickly decided to admit Texas
to the Union.

4. War with Mexico followed a dispute over the Texas boundary. In the
course of it Taylor won victories at Monterey and Buena Vista; Scott made
a famous march to the city of Mexico; and Kearny marched to Santa Fe and
on to California.

5. Peace added to the United States a great tract of country acquired from
Mexico. Meanwhile, the Oregon country had been divided by treaty with
Great Britain.

6. The acquisition of Mexican territory brought up the question of the
admission of slavery, for the territory was free soil under Mexican rule.

7. The opponents of extension of the slave area formed the Free-soil party
in 1848, and drew off enough Democratic votes so that the Whigs elected
Taylor and Fillmore.

8. Meanwhile gold had been discovered in California, and a wild rush for
the "diggings" began.

9. The people in California formed a free-state constitution and applied
for admission to the Union.

10. The chief political issues now centered around slavery, and as they
had to be settled, lest the Union be broken, the Whigs and Democrats
arranged the Compromise of 1850.

11. This made California a free state, but left the new territories of
Utah and New Mexico open to slavery.



[1] Besides the long-standing dispute over the Maine boundary, two other
matters were possible causes of war with Great Britain. (1) Her cruisers
had been searching our vessels off the African coast to see if they were
slavers. (2) In the attack on the _Caroline_ (p. 297) one American was
killed, and in 1840 a Canadian, Alexander McLeod, was arrested in New
York and charged with the murder. Great Britain now avowed responsibility
for the burning of the _Caroline_, and demanded that the man should
be released. McLeod, however, was tried and acquitted.

[2] Two other provisions of the treaty were of especial importance. (1) In
order to stop the slave trade each nation was to keep a squadron (carrying
at least eighty guns) cruising off the coast of Africa. (2) It was agreed
that any person who, charged with the crime of murder, piracy, arson,
robbery, or forgery, committed in either country, shall escape to the
other, shall if possible be seized and given up to the authorities of the
country which he fled.

[3] A war between Mexico and Texas followed, and was carried on with great
cruelty by the Mexicans. Santa Anna, the president of Mexico, having
driven some Texans into a building called the Alamo (ah'la-mo), in San
Antonio, carried it by storm and ordered all of its defenders shot. A band
of Texans who surrendered at Goliad met the same fate. In 1836, however,
General Samuel Houston (hu'stun) beat the Mexicans in the decisive battle
of San Jacinto. The struggle of the Texans for independence aroused
sympathy in our country; hundreds of volunteers joined their army, and
money, arms, and ammunition were sent them. Read A. E. Barr's novel
_Remember the Alamo_.

[4] Referring to our claim between 1803 and 1819 (p. 276) that the
Louisiana Purchase extended west to the Rio Grande.

[5] James K. Polk was born in North Carolina in 1795, but went with his
parents to Tennessee in 1806, where in 1823 he became a member of the
legislature. From 1824 to 1839 he was a member of Congress, and in 1839
was elected governor of Tennessee. Polk was the first presidential "dark
horse"; that is, the first candidate whose nomination was unexpected and a
surprise. In the Democratic national convention at Baltimore the contest
was at first between Van Buren and Cass. Polk's name did not appear till
the eighth ballot; on the ninth the convention "stampeded" and Polk
received every vote. When the news was spread over the country by means of
railroads and stagecoaches, many people would not believe it till
confirmed by the newspapers. The Whigs nominated Henry Clay; and the
Liberty party, James G. Birney. Tyler also was renominated by his friends,
but withdrew.

[6] Read Whittier's _Texas_.

[7] In the course of the fight a son of Henry Clay was killed, and
Jefferson Davis, afterward President of the Confederate States of America,
was wounded. At one stage of the battle Lieutenant Crittenden was sent to
demand the surrender of a Mexican force that had been cut off; but the
Mexican officer in command sent him blindfolded to Santa Anna. Crittenden
thereupon demanded the surrender of the entire Mexican army, and when told
that Taylor must surrender in an hour or have his army destroyed, replied,
"General Taylor never surrenders." Read Whittier's _Angels of Buena

[8] The war was bitterly opposed by the antislavery people of the North as
an attempt to gain more slave territory. Numbers of pamphlets were written
against it. Lincoln, then a member of Congress, introduced resolutions
asking the President to state on what spot on American soil blood had been
shed by Mexican troops, and James Russell Lowell wrote his famous
_Biglow Papers_.

[9] Five years later (1853), by another treaty with Mexico, negotiated by
James Gadsden, we acquired a comparatively small tract south of the Gila,
called the Gadsden Purchase (compare maps, pp. 330, 352). The price was
$10,000,000. The purchase was made largely because Congress was then
considering the building of a railroad to the Pacific, and because the
route likely to be chosen went south of the Gila.

[10] As early as 1846 the North attempted to decide the question in favor
of freedom. Polk had asked for $2,000,000 with which to settle the
boundary dispute with Mexico, and when the bill to appropriate the money
was before the House, David Wilmot moved to add the proviso that all
territory bought with it should be free soil. The House passed the Wilmot
Proviso, but the Senate did not; so the bill failed. The following year
(1847) a bill to give Polk $3,000,000 was introduced, and again the
proviso was added by the House and rejected by the Senate. Then the House
gave way, and passed the bill; but the acquisition of California and New
Mexico by treaty left the question still unsettled.

[11] Their platform declared: (1) that Congress has no more power to make
a slave than to make a king; (2) that there must be "free soil for a free
people"; (3) that there must be "no more slave states, no more slave
territories"; (4) that "we inscribe on our banner, 'Free soil, free
speech, free labor, and freemen.'"

[12] The Liberty party nominated John P. Hale of New Hampshire, but he
withdrew in favor of Van Buren. The Liberty party was thus merged in the
Free-soil party, and so disappeared from politics. The Democratic
candidates for President and Vice-President were Lewis Cass and William O.

[13] Zachary Taylor was born in Virginia in 1784, was taken to Louisville,
Kentucky, while still a child, and grew up there. In 1808 he entered the
United States army as a lieutenant, and by 1810 had risen to be a captain.
For a valiant defense of Fort Harrison on the Wabash, he was made a major.
He further distinguished himself in the Black Hawk and Seminole wars. In
the Mexican War General Taylor was a great favorite with his men, who
called him in admiration "Old Rough and Ready." Before 1848 he had taken
very little interest in politics. He was nominated because of his record
as a military hero.

[14] Millard Fillmore was born in central New York in 1800, and at
fourteen was apprenticed to a trade, but studied law at odd times, and
practiced law at Buffalo. He served three terms in the state assembly, was
four times elected to Congress, and was once the Whig candidate for
governor. In 1848 he was nominated for the vice presidency as a strong
Whig likely to carry New York.

[15] Laborers left the fields, tradesmen the shops, and seamen deserted
their ships as soon as they entered port. One California newspaper
suspended its issue because editor, typesetters, and printer's devil had
gone to the gold fields. In June the Star stopped for a like reason, and
California was without a newspaper. Some men made $5000, $10,000, and
$15,000 in a few days. California life in the early times is described in
Kirk Munroe's _Golden Days of '49_, and in Bret Harte's _Luck of Roaring
Camp_ and _Tales of the Argonauts_.

[16] Those who crossed the plains suffered terribly, and for many years
the wrecks of their wagons, the bones of their oxen and horses, and the
graves of many of the men were to be seen along the route. This route was
from Independence in Missouri, up the Platte River, over the South Pass,
past Great Salt Lake, and so to "the diggings."

[17] Some miners obtained gold by digging the earth, putting it into a tin
pan, pouring on water, and then shaking the pan so as to throw out the
muddy water and leave the particles of gold. Others used a box mounted on
rockers and called a "cradle" or "rocker."

[18] Read the speeches of Calhoun and Webster in _Johnston's American
Orations_, Vol. II. Webster's speech gave great offense in the North.
Read McMaster's _Daniel Webster_, pp. 314-324, and Whittier's poem
_Ichabod_. The debate and its attendant scenes are well described in
Rhodes's _History of the U. S._, Vol. I, pp. 104-189.

[19] The fugitive slave law gave great offense to the North. It provided
that a runaway slave might be seized wherever found, and brought before a
United States judge or commissioner. The negro could not give testimony to
prove he was not a fugitive but had been kidnapped, if such were the case.
All citizens were "commanded," when summoned, to aid in the capture of a
fugitive, and, if necessary, in his delivery to his owner. Fine and
imprisonment were provided for any one who harbored a fugitive or aided in
his escape. The law was put in execution at once, and "slave catchers,"
"man hunters," as they were called, "invaded the North." This so excited
the people that many slaves when seized were rescued. Such rescues
occurred during 1851 at New York, Boston, Syracuse, and at Ottawa in
Illinois. Read Wilson's _Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America_,
Chap. 26.

In the midst of this excitement Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe published her
story of _Uncle Tom's Cabin_. Mrs. Stowe's purpose was "to show the
institution of slavery truly just as it existed." The book is rather a
picture of what slavery might have been than of what slavery really was;
but it was so powerfully written that everybody read it, and thousands of
people in the North who hitherto cared little about the slavery issue were
converted to abolitionism.

[Illustration: THE UNITED STATES IN 1850.]



THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN OF 1852.--The Compromise of 1850 was thought to
be a final settlement of all the troubles that had grown out of slavery.
The great leaders of the Whig and Democratic parties solemnly pledged
themselves to stand by the compromise, and when the national conventions
met in 1852, the two parties in their platforms made equally solemn

The Democrats nominated Franklin Pierce [1] of New Hampshire for
President, and declared they would "abide by and adhere to" the
compromise, and would "resist all attempts at renewing, in Congress or out
of it, the agitation of the slavery question." The Whigs selected Winfield
Scotland declared the compromise to be a "settlement in principle" of the
slavery question, and promised to do all they could to prevent further
agitation of it. The Free-soilers nominated John P. Hale of New Hampshire.
The refusal of the Whig party to stand against the compromise drove many
Northern voters from its ranks. Pierce carried every state save four and,
March 4, 1853, was duly inaugurated. [2]

THE SLAVERY QUESTION NOT SETTLED.--But Pierce had not been many months in
office when the quarrel over slavery was raging once more. In January,
1854, Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois introduced into the Senate a bill to
organize a new territory to be called Nebraska. Every foot of it was north
of 36 30' and was, by the Compromise of 1820 (p. 274), free soil. But an
attempt was made to amend the bill and declare that the Missouri
Compromise should not apply to Nebraska, whereupon such bitter opposition
arose that Douglas recalled his bill and brought in another. [3]

KANSAS-NEBRASKA ACT.--The new bill provided for the creation of two
territories, one to be called Kansas and the other Nebraska; for the
repeal of the Missouri Compromise, thus opening the country north of 36
30' to slavery; and for the adoption of the doctrine of popular

The Free-soilers, led by Salmon P. Chase, William H. Seward, and Charles
Sumner, tried hard to defeat the bill. But it passed Congress, and was
signed by the President (1854). [4]

[Illustration: GOVERNOR'S MANSION, KANSAS, IN 1857. Contemporary drawing.]

THE STRUGGLE FOR KANSAS.--And now began a seven years' struggle between
the Free-soilers and the proslavery men for the possession of Kansas. Men
of both parties hurried to the territory. [5] The first election was for
territorial delegate to Congress, and was carried by the proslavery party
assisted by hundreds of Missourians who entered the territory, voted
unlawfully, and went home. The second election was for members of the
territorial legislature. Again the Missourians swarmed over the border,
and a proslavery legislature was elected. Governor Reeder set the
elections aside in seven districts, and in them other members were chosen;
but the legislature when it met turned out the seven so elected and seated
the men rejected by the governor. The proslavery laws of Missouri were
adopted, and Kansas became a slave-holding territory.

THE TOPEKA CONSTITUTION.--Unwilling to be governed by a legislature so
elected, looking on it as illegal and usurping, the free-state men framed
a state constitution at Topeka (1855), organized a state government, and
applied to Congress for admission into the Union as a state. The House of
Representatives voted to admit Kansas, but the Senate would not consent,
and (July 4, 1856) United States troops dispersed the legislature when it
attempted to assemble under the Topeka constitution. Kansas was a slave-
holding territory for two years yet before the free-state men secured a
majority in the legislature, [6] and not till 1861 did it secure admission
as a free state.

PERSONAL LIBERTY LAWS.--In the East meantime the rapidly growing feeling
against slavery found expression in what were called personal liberty
laws, which in time were enacted by all save two of the free states. Their
avowed object was to prevent free negroes from being sent into slavery on
the claim that they were fugitive slaves; but they really obstructed the
execution of the fugitive slave law of 1850.

Another sign of Northern feeling was the sympathy now shown for the
Underground Railroad. This was not a railroad, but a network of routes
along which slaves escaping to the free states-were sent by night from one
friendly house to another till they reached a place of safety, perhaps in

[Illustration: RECEPTION AT THE WHITE HOUSE, IN 1858. Contemporary

BREAKING UP OF OLD PARTIES.--On political parties the events of the four
years 1850-54 were serious. The Compromise of 1850, and the vigorous
execution of the new fugitive slave law, drove thousands of old line Whigs
from their party. The deaths of Clay and Webster in 1852 deprived the
party of its greatest leaders. The Kansas-Nebraska bill completed the
ruin, and from that time forth the party was of small political
importance. The Democratic party also suffered, and thousands left its
ranks to join the Free-soilers. Out of such elements in 1854-56 was
founded the new Republican party. [7]

THE CAMPAIGN OF 1856.--At Philadelphia, in June, 1856, a Republican
national convention nominated John C. Fremont for President. The Democrats
nominated James Buchanan. A remnant of the Whigs, now nicknamed "Silver
Grays," indorsed Fillmore, who had been nominated by the American, or
"Know-nothing," party. [8] The Free-soilers joined the Republicans.
Buchanan was elected. [9]

DRED SCOTT DECISION, 1857.--Two days after the inauguration of Buchanan,
the Supreme Court made public a decision which threw the country into
intense excitement. A slave named Dred Scott had been taken by his owner
from Missouri to the free state of Illinois and then to Minnesota, made
free soil by the Compromise of 1820. When brought back to Missouri, Dred
Scott sued for freedom. Long residence on free soil, he claimed, had made
him free. The case finally reached the Supreme Court of the United States,
which decided against him. [10] But in delivering the decision, Chief-
Justice Taney announced: (1) that Congress could not shut slavery out of
the territories, and (2) that the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was
unconstitutional and void.

THE TERRITORIES OPEN TO SLAVERY.--This decision confirmed all that the
South had gained by the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Compromise of 1850,
and also opened to slavery Washington and Oregon, which were then free

If the court supposed that its decision would end the struggle, it was
much mistaken. Not a year went by but some incident occurred which added
to the excitement.


LINCOLN-DOUGLAS DEBATE.--In 1858 the people of Illinois were to elect a
legislature which would choose a senator to succeed Stephen A. Douglas.
The Democrats declared for Douglas. The Republicans nominated Abraham
Lincoln, [11] and as the canvass proceeded the two candidates traversed
the state, holding a series of debates. The questions discussed were
popular sovereignty, the Dred Scott decision, and the extension of slavery
into the territories, and the debates attracted the attention of the whole
country. Lincoln was defeated; but his speeches gave him a national
reputation. [12]

JOHN BROWN AT HARPERS FERRY.--In 1859 John Brown, a lifelong enemy of
slavery, went to Harpers Ferry, Virginia, with a little band of followers,
to stir up an insurrection and free the slaves. He was captured, tried for
murder and treason, and hanged. The attempt was a wild one; but it caused
intense excitement in both the North and the South, and added to the
bitter feeling which had long existed between the two sections. [13]

THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1860.--The Democrats were now so divided on
the slavery issues that when they met in convention at Charleston, South
Carolina, in 1860, the party was rent in twain, and no candidates were
chosen. Later in the year the Northern wing nominated Stephen A. Douglas
for President. The Southern delegates, at a convention of their own,
selected John C. Breckinridge.

Another party made up of old Whigs and Know-nothings nominated John Bell
of Tennessee. This was the Constitutional Union party. The Republicans
[14] named Abraham Lincoln and carried the election. [15]


1. The Compromise of 1850 was supposed to settle the slavery issues, and
the two great parties pledged themselves to support it.

2. But the issues were not settled, and in 1854 the organization of Kansas
and Nebraska reopened the struggle.

3. The Kansas-Nebraska bill and the contest over Kansas split both the
Whig party and the Democratic party, and by the union of those who left
them, with the Free-soilers, the Republican party was made, 1854-56.

4. In 1857 the Supreme Court declared the Missouri Compromise
unconstitutional, and opened all territories to slavery.

5. In 1858 this decision and other slavery issues were debated by Lincoln
and Douglas.

6. This debate made Lincoln a national character, and in 1860 he was
elected President by the Republican party.

Contemporary drawing.]


[1] Franklin Pierce was born in New Hampshire in 1804, and died in 1869.
He began his political career in the state legislature, went to Congress
in 1833, and to the United States Senate in 1837. In the war with Mexico,
Pierce rose from the ranks to a brigadier generalship. He was a bitter
opponent of anti-slavery measures; but when the Civil War opened he became
a Union man.

[2] The electoral vote was, for Pierce, 254; for Scott, 42. The popular
vote was, for Pierce, 1,601,474; for Scott, 1,386,580; for Hale, 155,667.

[3] Stephen A. Douglas was born in Vermont in 1813, went west in 1833, was
made attorney-general of Illinois in 1834, secretary of state and judge of
the supreme court of Illinois in 1840, a member of Congress in 1843, and
of the United States Senate in 1847. He was a small man, but one of such
mental power that he was called "the Little Giant." He was a candidate for
the presidential nomination in the Democratic conventions of 1852 and
1856, and in 1860 was nominated by the Northern wing of that party. He was
a Union man.

[4] For popular opinion on the Kansas-Nebraska bill, read Rhodes's
_History of the U. S._, Vol. I, pp. 461-470.

[5] Proslavery men from Missouri and other Southern states founded
Atchison, Leavenworth, Lecompton, and Kickapoo, in the northeastern part
of Kansas. Free-state men from the North founded Lawrence, Topeka,
Manhattan, Osawatomie, in the east-central part of the territory.

[6] In 1856 border war raged in Kansas, settlers were murdered, property
destroyed, and the free-state town of Lawrence was sacked by the
proslavery men. In 1857 the proslavery party made a slave-state
constitution at Lecompton and applied for admission, and the Senate (1858)
voted to admit Kansas under it; but the House refused. In 1859 the Free-
soilers made a second (the Wyandotte) constitution, under which Kansas was
admitted into the Union (1861).

[7] The breaking up of old parties over the slavery issues naturally
brought up the question of forming a new party, and at a meeting at Ripon
in Wisconsin in 1854, it was proposed to call the new party Republican.
After the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, a thousand citizens of
Michigan signed a call for a state convention, at which a Republican state
party was formed and a ticket nominated on which were Whigs, Free-soilers,
and Anti-Nebraska Democrats. Similar "fusion tickets," as they were
called, were adopted in eight other states. The success of the new party
in the elections of 1854, and its still greater success in 1855, led to a
call for a convention at Pittsburg on Washington's Birthday, 1856. There
and then the national Republican party was founded.

[8] The American party was the outcome of a long-prevalent feeling against
the election of foreign-born citizens to office. At many times and at many
places this feeling had produced political organizations. But it was not
till 1852 that a secret, oath-bound organization, with signs, grips, and
passwords, was formed and spread its membership rapidly through most of
the states. As its members would not tell its principles and methods, and
professed entire ignorance of them when questioned, the American party was
called in derision "the Know-nothings." Its success, however, was great,
and in 1855 Know-nothing governors and legislatures were elected in eight
states, and heavy votes polled in six more.

[9] The electoral vote was, for Buchanan, 174; for Frmont, 114; for
Fillmore, 8. The popular vote was, for Buchanan, 1,838,169; for Frmont,
1,341,264; for Fillmore, 874,534. James Buchanan was born in Pennsylvania
in 1791, was educated at school and college, studied law, served in the
state legislature, was five times elected to the House of Representatives,
and three times to the Senate. In the Senate he was a warm supporter of
Jackson, and favored the annexation of Texas under Tyler. He was Secretary
of State under Polk, and had been minister to Great Britain.

[10] The Chief Justice ruled that no negro whose ancestors had been
brought as slaves into the United States could be a citizen; Scott
therefore was not a citizen, and hence could not sue in any United States

[11] Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky, February 12, 1809, and while
still a child was taken by his parents to Indiana. The first winter was
spent in a half-faced camp, and for several years the log cabin that
replaced it had neither door nor wood floor. Twelve months' "schooling"
was all he ever had; but he was fond of books and borrowed Aesop's
_Fables_, _Robinson Crusoe_, and Weems's _Life of Washington_, the book in
which first appeared the fabulous story of the hatchet and the cherry
tree. At nineteen Lincoln went as a flatboatman to New Orleans. In 1830
his father moved to Illinois, where Lincoln helped build the cabin and
split the rails to fence in the land, and then went on another flatboat
voyage to New Orleans. He became a clerk in a store in 1831, served as a
volunteer in the Black Hawk War, tried business and failed, became
postmaster of New Salem, which soon ceased to have a post office,
supported himself as plowman, farm hand, and wood cutter, and tried
surveying; but made so many friends that in 1834 he was sent to the
legislature, and reelected in 1836, 1838, and 1840. He now began the
practice of law, settled in Springfield, was elected to Congress in 1846,
and served there one term.

[12] For a description of the Lincoln-Douglas debate of 1858, read
Rhodes's _History of the U. S._, Vol. II, pp. 314-338.

[13] Many persons regarded Brown as a martyr. Read Whittier's _Brown of
Ossawatomie_, or Stedman's _How Old Brown took Harper's Ferry_. Read,
also, Rhodes's _History of the U. S._, Vol. II, pp. 383-398.

[14] The platform of the Republicans adopted in 1860 (at Chicago) sets
forth: (1) that the party repudiates the principles of the Dred Scott
decision, (2) that Kansas must be admitted as a free state, (3) that the
territories must be free soil, and (4) that slavery in existing states
should not be interfered with.

[15] The electoral vote was, for Lincoln, 180; for Douglas, 12; for
Breckinridge, 72; for Bell, 39. The popular vote was, for Lincoln,
1,866,452; for Douglas, 1,376,957; for Breckinridge, 849,781; for Bell,
588,879. Lincoln received no votes at all in ten Southern states. The
popular votes were so distributed that if those for Douglas, Breckinridge,
and Bell had all been cast for one of the candidates, Lincoln would still
have been elected President (by 173 electoral votes to 130).



POPULATION.--In the twenty years which had elapsed since 1840 the
population of our country had risen to over 31,000,000. In New York alone
there were, in 1860, about as many people as lived in the whole United
States in 1789.

Not a little of this increase of population was due to the stream of
immigrants which had been pouring into the country. From a few thousand in
1820, the number who came each year rose gradually to about 100,000 in the
year 1842, and then went down again. But famine in Ireland and hard times
in Germany started another great wave of immigration, which rose higher
and higher till (1854) more than 400,000 people arrived in one year. Then
once more the wave subsided, and in 1861 less than 90,000 came.

[Illustration: SETTLED AREA IN 1860.]

NEW STATES AND TERRITORIES.--Though population was still moving westward,
few of our countrymen, before the gold craze of 1849, had crossed the
Missouri. Those who did, went generally to Oregon, which was organized as
a territory in 1848 and admitted into the Union as a state in 1859. By
that time California (1850) and Minnesota (1858) had also been admitted,
so that the Union in 1860 consisted of thirty-three states and five
territories. Eighteen states were free, and fifteen slave-holding. The
five territories were New Mexico, Utah, Washington (1853), Kansas, and
Nebraska (small map, p. 394).

CITY LIFE.--About one sixth of the population in 1860 lived in cities, of
which there were about 140 of 8000 or more people each. Most of them were
ugly, dirty, badly built, and poorly governed. The older ones, however,
were much improved. The street pump had given way to water works; gas and
plumbing were in general use; many cities had uniformed police; [1] but
the work of fighting fires was done by volunteer fire departments. Street
cars (drawn by horses) now ran in all the chief cities, omnibuses were in
general use, and in New York city the great Central Park, the first of its
kind in the country, had been laid out. Illustrated magazines, and weekly
papers, Sunday newspapers, and trade journals had been established, and in
some cities graded schools had been introduced. [2]

SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES.--In the country the district school for boys and
girls was gradually being improved. The larger cities of the North now had
high schools as well as common schools, and in a few instances separate
high schools for girls. Between 1840 and 1860 eighty-two sectarian and
twenty non-sectarian colleges were founded, and the Naval Academy at
Annapolis was opened. Not even the largest college in 1860 had 800
students, and in but one (University of Iowa, 1856) were women admitted to
all departments.

LITERATURE.--Public libraries were now to be found not only in the great
cities, but in most of the large towns, and in such libraries were
collections of poetry, essays, novels, and histories written by American
authors. Longfellow, Holmes, Lowell, Poe, Bryant, and Whittier among
poets; Hawthorne, Irving, Cooper, Simms, and Poe among writers of fiction;
Emerson and Lowell among essayists, were read and admired abroad as well
as at home. Prescott, who had lately (1859) died, had left behind him
histories of Spain in the Old World and in the New; Parkman was just
beginning his story of the French in America; Motley had published his
_Rise of the Dutch Republic_, and part of his _History of the United
Netherlands_; Hildreth had completed one _History of the United States_,
and Bancroft was still at work on another.

Near these men of the first rank stood many writers popular in their day.
The novels of Kennedy, and the poetry of Drake, Halleck, and Willis are
not yet forgotten.

OCCUPATIONS.--In the Eastern states the people were engaged chiefly in
fishing, commerce, and manufacturing; in the Middle states in farming,
commerce, manufacturing, and mining. To the great coal and iron mines of
Pennsylvania were (1859) added the oil fields. That petroleum existed in
that state had long been known; but it was not till Drake drilled a well
near Titusville (in northwestern Pennsylvania) and struck oil that enough
was obtained to make it marketable. Down the Ohio there was a great trade
in bituminous coal, and the union of the coal, iron, and oil trades was
already making Pittsburg a great city. In the South little change had
taken place. Cotton, tobacco, sugar, and the products of the pine forests
were still the chief sources of wealth; mills and factories hardly
existed. The West had not only its immense farms, but also the iron mines
of upper Michigan, the lead mines of the upper Mississippi and in
Missouri, the copper mines of the Lake Superior country, and the lumber
industry of Michigan and Wisconsin. Through the lakes passed a great
commerce. California was the great gold-mining state; but gold and silver
had just been discovered near Pikes Peak, and in what is now Nevada.

THE MORMONS.--Utah territory in 1860 contained forty thousand white
people, nearly all Mormons. These people, as we have seen, when driven
from Missouri, built the city called Nauvoo in Illinois. Their leaders now
introduced the practice of polygamy, and in various ways opposed the state
authorities. In 1844 they came to blows with the state; the leaders were
arrested, and while in jail Joseph Smith and his brother were murdered by
a mob. Brigham Young then became head of the church, and in the winter of
1846 the Mormons, driven from Nauvoo, crossed the Mississippi and began a
long march westward over the plains to Great Salt Lake, then in Mexico.
There they settled down, and when the war with Mexico ended, they were
again in the United States. When Utah was made a territory in 1850,
Brigham Young was appointed its first governor. [3]


THE FAR WEST.--Before 1850 each new state added to the Union had bordered
an some older state; but now California and Oregon were separated from the
other states by wide stretches of wilderness. The Rocky Mountain highland
and the Great Plains, however, were not entirely uninhabited. Over them
wandered bands of Indians mounted on fleet ponies; white hunters and
trappers, some trapping for themselves, some for the great fur companies;
and immense herds of buffalo, [4] and in the south herds of wild horses.
The streams still abounded with beaver. Game was everywhere, deer, elk,
antelope, bears, wild turkeys, prairie chickens, and on the streams wild
ducks and geese. Here and there were villages of savage and merciless
Indians, and the forts or trading posts of the trappers. Every year bands
of emigrants crossed the plains and the mountains, bound to Utah,
California, or Oregon.

PROPOSED RAILROAD TO THE PACIFIC.--In 1842 John C. Fremont, with Kit
Carson as guide, began a series of explorations which finally extended
from the Columbia to the Colorado, and from the Missouri to California and
Oregon (map, p. 314). [5] Men then began to urge seriously the plan of a
railroad across the continent to some point on the Pacific. In 1845 Asa
Whitney [6] applied to Congress for a grant of a strip of land from some
point on Lake Michigan to Puget Sound, and came again with like appeals in
1846 and 1848. By that time the Mexican cession had been acquired, and
this with the discovery of gold in California gave the idea such
importance that (in 1853) money was finally voted by Congress for the
survey of several routes. Jefferson Davis, as Secretary of War, ordered
five routes to be surveyed and (in 1855) recommended the most southerly;
and the Senate passed a bill to charter three roads. [7] Jealousy among
the states prevented the passage of the bill by the House. In 1860 the
platforms of the Democratic and Republican parties declared for such a

MECHANICAL IMPROVEMENT.--During the period 1840-60 mechanical improvement
was more remarkable than in earlier periods. The first iron-front building
was erected, the first steam fire engine used, wire rope manufactured, a
grain drill invented, Hoe's printing press with revolving type cylinders
introduced, and six inventions or discoveries of universal benefit to
mankind were given to the world. They were the electric telegraph, the
sewing machine, the improved harvester, vulcanized rubber, the photograph,
and anaesthesia.


THE TELEGRAPH.--Seven years of struggle enabled Samuel F. B. Morse, helped
by Alfred Vail, to make the electric telegraph a success, [8] and in 1844,
with the aid of a small appropriation by Congress, Morse built a telegraph
line from Baltimore to Washington. [9] Further aid was asked from Congress
and refused. [10] The Magnetic Telegraph Company was then started. New
York and Baltimore were connected in 1846, and in ten years some forty
companies were in operation in the most populous states.


THE SEWING MACHINE; THE HARVESTER.--A man named Hunt invented the
lockstitch sewing machine in 1834; but it was not successful, and some
time elapsed before his idea was taken up by Elias Howe, who after several
years of experiment (1846) made a practical machine. People were slow to
use it, but by 1850 he had so aroused the interest of inventors that seven
rivals were in the field, and to their joint labors we owe one of the most
useful inventions of the century. From the household the sewing machine
passed into use in factories (1862), and to-day gives employment to
hundreds of thousands of people.

[Illustration: EARLY HARVESTER. From an old print.]

What the sewing machine is to the home and the factory, that is the reaper
to the farm. After many years of experiment Cyrus McCormick invented a
practical reaper and (1840) sought to put it on the market, but several
more years passed before success was assured. To-day, greatly improved and
perfected, it is in use the world over, and has made possible the great
grain fields, not only of our own middle West and Northwest, but of
Argentina, Australia, and Russia.

India rubber for shoes, coats, caps, and wagon covers failed because in
warm weather the rubber softened and emitted an offensive smell. To
overcome this Goodyear labored year after year to discover a method of
hardening or, as it is called, vulcanizing rubber. Even when the discovery
was made and patented, several years passed before he was sure of the
process. In 1844 he succeeded and gave to the world a most useful

[Illustration: A DAGUERREOTYPE, IN METAL CASE, 1843.]

In 1839 a Frenchman named Daguerre patented a method of taking pictures by
exposing to sunlight a copper plate treated with certain chemicals. The
exposure for each picture was some twenty minutes. An American, Dr. John
W. Draper, so improved the method that pictures were taken of persons in a
much shorter time, and photography was fairly started.

Greater yet was the discovery that by breathing sulphuric ether a person
can become insensible to pain and then recover consciousness. The glory of
the discovery has been claimed for Dr. Morton and Dr. Jackson, who used it
in 1846. Laughing gas (nitrous oxide) was used as an ansesthetic before
this time by Dr. Wells of Hartford.

TRANSPORTATION IMPROVED.--In the country east of the Mississippi some
thirty thousand miles of railroad had been built, and direct communication
opened from the North and East to Chicago (1853) and New Orleans (1859).
For the growth of railroads between 1850 and 1861 study the maps on pp.
331, 353. [11] At first the lines between distant cities were composed of
many connecting but independent roads. Thus between Albany and Buffalo
there were ten such little roads; but in 1853 they were consolidated and
became the New York Central, and the era of the great trunk lines was
fairly opened.

On the ocean, steamship service between the Old World and the New was so
improved that steamships passed from Liverpool to New York in less than
twelve days.

Better means of transportation were of benefit, not merely to the traveler
and the merchant, but to the people generally. Letters could be carried
faster and more cheaply, so the rate of postage on a single letter was
reduced (1851) from five or ten cents to three cents, [12] and before 1860
express service covered every important line of transportation.

THE ATLANTIC CABLE.--The success of the telegraph on land suggested a bold
attempt to lay wires across the bed of the ocean, and in 1854 Cyrus W.
Field of New York was asked to aid in the laying of a cable from St. Johns
to Cape Ray, Newfoundland. But Field went further and formed a company to
join Newfoundland and Ireland by cable, and after two failures succeeded
(1858). During three weeks all went well and some four hundred messages
were sent; then the cable ceased to work, and eight years passed before
another was laid. Since then many telegraph cables have been laid across
the Atlantic; but it was not till 1903 that the first was laid across the

FOREIGN RELATIONS.--We have seen how during this period our country was
expanded by the annexation of Texas (1845) and by two cessions of
territory from Mexico (1848 and 1853). But this was not enough to satisfy
the South, and attempts were made to buy Cuba. Polk (1848) offered Spain
$100,000,000 for it. Filibusters tried to capture it (in 1851), and Pierce
(1853) urged its annexation. With this end in view our ministers to Great
Britain, France, and Spain met at Ostend in Belgium in 1854 and issued
what was called the Ostend Manifesto. This set forth that Cuba must be
annexed to protect slavery, and if Spain would not sell for a fair price,
"then by every law, human and divine, we shall be justified in wresting it
from Spain if we possess the power." Buchanan also (1858) urged the
purchase of Cuba; but in vain.

CHINA AND JAPAN.--More pleasing to recall are our relations with China and
Japan. Our flag was first seen in China in 1784, when the trading vessel
_Empress of China_ reached Canton. Washington (1790) appointed a consul to
reside in that city, the only one in China, then open to foreign trade;
but no minister from the United States was sent to China till Caleb
Gushing went in 1844. By him our first treaty was negotiated with China,
under which five ports were opened to American trade and two very
important concessions secured: (1) American citizens charged with any
criminal act were to be tried and punished only by the American consul.
(2) All privileges which China might give to any other nation were
likewise to be given to the United States.

At that time Japan was a "hermit nation." In 1853, however, Commodore M.
C. Perry went to that country with a fleet, and sent to the emperor a
message expressing the wish of the United States to enter into trade
relations with Japan. Then he sailed away; but returned in 1854 and made a
treaty (the first entered into by Japan) which resulted in opening that
country to the United States. Other nations followed, and Japan was thus
opened to trade with the civilized world.


1. Between 1840 and 1860 the population increased from 17,000,000 to

2. During this period millions of immigrants had come.

3. As population continued to move westward new states and territories
were formed.

4. In one of these new territories, Utah, were the Mormons who had been
driven from Illinois.

5. The rise of a new state on the Pacific coast revived the old demand for
a railroad across the plains, and surveys were ordered.

6. East of the Mississippi thousands of miles of railroads were built, and
the East, the West, and the far South were connected.

7. This period is marked by many great inventions and discoveries,
including the telegraph, the sewing machine, and the reaper.

8. It was in this period that trade relations were begun with China and

[Illustration: MODERN HARVESTER.]


[1] All the large cities were so poorly governed, however, that they were
often the scenes of serious riots, political, labor, race, and even

[2] An unfriendly picture of the United States in 1842 is Dickens's
_American Notes_, a book well worth reading.

[3] Several non-Mormon officials were sent to Utah, but they were not
allowed to exercise any authority, and were driven out. The Mormons formed
the state of Deseret and applied for admission into the Union. Congress
paid no attention to the appeal, and (1857) Buchanan appointed a new
governor and sent troops to Utah to uphold the Federal authority. Young
forbade them to enter the territory, and dispatched an armed force that
captured some of their supplies. In the spring of 1858 the President
offered pardon "to all who will submit themselves to the just authority of
the Federal Government," and Young and his followers did so.

[4] An interesting account of the buffalo is given in A. C. Laut's The
Story of the Trapper_, pp. 65-80. Herds of a hundred thousand were common.
As many as a million buffalo robes were sent east each year in the
thirties and forties.

[5] John C. Fremont was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1813, and in 1842
was Lieutenant of Engineers, United States Army. In 1842 he went up the
Platte River and through the South Pass. The next year he passed southward
to Great Salt Lake, then northwestward to the Columbia, then southward
through Oregon to California, and back by Great Salt Lake to South Pass in
1844. In 1845 he crossed what is now Nebraska and Utah, and reached the
vicinity of Monterey in California. The Mexican authorities ordered him
away; but he remained in California and helped to win the country during
the war with Mexico. Later, he was senator from California, Republican
candidate for President in 1856, and an army general during the Civil War.

[6] Whitney asked for a strip sixty miles wide. So much of the land as was
not needed for railroad purposes was to be sold and the money used to
build the road. During 1847-49 his plan was approved by the legislatures
of seventeen states, and by mass meetings of citizens or Boards of Trade
in seventeen cities.

[7] One from the west border of Texas to California; another from the west
border of Missouri to California; and a third from the west border of
Wisconsin to the Pacific in Oregon or Washington.

[8] In 1842 Morse laid the first submarine telegraph in the world, from
Governors Island in New York harbor to New York city. It consisted of a
wire wound with string and coated with tar, pitch, and india rubber, to
prevent the electric current running off into the water. It was laid on
October 18, and the next morning, while messages were being received, the
anchor of a vessel caught and destroyed the wire.

[9] The wire was at first put in a lead tube and laid in a furrow plowed
in the earth. This failed; so the wire was strung on poles. One end was in
the Pratt St. Depot, Baltimore, and the other in the Supreme Court Chamber
at Washington. The first words sent, after the completion of the line,
were "What hath God wrought." Two days later the Democratic convention
(which nominated Polk for President) met at Baltimore, and its proceedings
were reported hourly to Washington by telegraph.

[10] Morse offered to sell his patent to the government, but the
Postmaster General reported that the telegraph was merely an interesting
experiment and could never have a practical value, so the offer was not

[11] The use of vast sums of money in building so many railroads, together
with overtrading and reckless speculation, brought on a business panic in
1857. Factories were closed, banks failed, thousands of men and women were
thrown out of employment, and for two years the country suffered from hard

[12] It was not till 1883 that the rate was reduced to two cents. Before
the introduction of the postage stamp, letters were sent to the post
offices, and when the postage had been paid, they were marked "Paid" by
the officials. When the mails increased in volume in the large cities,
this way of doing business consumed so much time that the postmasters at
St. Louis and New York sold stamps to be affixed to letters as evidence
that the postage had been paid. The convenience was so great that public
opinion forced Congress to authorize the post office department to furnish
stamps and require the people to use them (1847).



THE CIVIL WAR, 1861-1863


THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA.--After Lincoln's election, the cotton
states, one by one, passed ordinances declaring that they left the Union.
First to go was South Carolina (December 20, 1860), and by February 1,
1861, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas had
followed. On February 4 delegates from six of these seven states met at
Montgomery, Alabama, framed, a constitution, [1] established the
"Confederate States of America," and elected Jefferson Davis [2] and
Alexander H. Stephens provisional President and Vice President. Later they
were elected by the people.

[Illustration: ABRAHAM LINCOLN. Photograph of 1856.]

[Illustration: JEFFERSON DAVIS.]

LINCOLN'S POLICY.--President Buchanan did nothing to prevent all this, and
such was the political situation when Lincoln was inaugurated (March 4,
1861). His views and his policy were clearly stated in his inaugural
address: "I have no purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the
institution of slavery in the states where it exists.... No state on its
own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union.... The Union is
unbroken, and to the extent of my ability I shall take care that the laws
of the Union be faithfully executed in all the states.... In doing this
there need be no bloodshed or violence, and there shall be none unless it
be forced upon the national authority.... The power confided in me will be
used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the

FORT SUMTER CAPTURED.--Almost all the "property and places" belonging to
the United States government in the seven seceding states had been seized
by the Confederates. [3] But Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor was still in
Union hands, and to this, Lincoln notified the governor of South Carolina,
supplies would be sent. Thereupon the Confederate army already gathered in
Charleston bombarded the fort till Major Anderson surrendered it (April
14, 1861). [4]


THE WAR OPENS.--With the capture of Fort Sumter the war for the Union
opened in earnest. On April 15 Lincoln called for seventy-five thousand
militia to serve for three months. [5] Thereupon Virginia, North Carolina,
Tennessee, and Arkansas seceded and joined the Confederacy. The capital of
the Confederacy was soon moved from Montgomery to Richmond, Virginia.

In the slave-holding states of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri
the Union men outnumbered the secessionists and held these states in the
Union. When Virginia seceded, the western counties refused to leave the
Union, and in 1863 were admitted into the Union as the state of West

THE DIVIDING LINE.--The first call for troops was soon followed by a
second. The responses to both were so prompt that by July 1, 1861, more
than one hundred and eighty thousand Union soldiers were under arms. They
were stationed at various points along a line that stretched from Norfolk
in Virginia up the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River to Harpers Ferry, and
then across western Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri. South of this
dividing line were the Confederate armies. [6]

Geographically this line was cut into three sections: that in Virginia,
that in Kentucky, and that in Missouri,

[Illustration: STONE BRIDGE OVER BULL RUN. Crossed by many fleeing Union

BULL RUN.--General Winfield Scott was in command of the Union army. Under
him and in command of the troops about Washington was General McDowell,
who in July, 1861, was sent to drive back the Confederate line in
Virginia. Marching a few miles southwest, McDowell met General Beauregard
near Manassas, and on the field of Bull Run was beaten and his army put to
flight. [7] The battle taught the North that the war would not end in
three months; that an army of raw troops was no better than a mob; that
discipline was as necessary as patriotism. Thereafter men were enlisted
for three years or for the war.

General George B. McClellan [8] was now put in command of the Union Army
of the Potomac, and spent the rest of 1861, and the early months of 1862,
in drilling his raw volunteers.


Confederate line stretched across the southern part of the state as shown
on the map. Against this General Thomas was sent in January, 1862. He
defeated the Confederates at Mill Springs near the eastern end. In
February General U. S. Grant and Flag-Officer Foote were sent to attack,
by land and water, Forts Donelson and Henry near the western end of the
line. Foote arrived first at Fort Henry on the Tennessee and captured it.
Thereupon Grant marched across country to Fort Donelson on the Cumberland,
and after three days' sharp fighting forced General Buckner to surrender.

[Illustration: ULYSSES S. GRANT.]

SHILOH OR PITTSBURG LANDING.--The Confederate line was now broken, and
abandoning Nashville and Columbus, the Confederates fell back toward
Corinth in Mississippi. The Union army followed in three parts.

1. One under General Curtis moved to southwestern Missouri and won a
battle at Pea Ridge (Arkansas).

2. Another under General Pope on the banks of the Mississippi aided Flag-
Officer Foote in the capture of Island No. 10. [10] The fleet then passed
down the river and took Fort Pillow.

3. The third part under Grant took position very near Pittsburg Landing,
at Shiloh, [11] where it was attacked and driven back. But the next day,
being strongly renforced, General Grant beat the Confederates, who
retreated to Corinth. General Halleck now took command, and having united
the second and third parts of the army, took Corinth and cut off Memphis,
which then surrendered to the fleet in the river.

BRAGG'S RAID.--And now the Confederates turned furiously. Their army under
General Bragg, starting from Chattanooga, rushed across Tennessee and
Kentucky toward Louisville, but after a hot fight with General Buell's
army at Perryville was forced to turn back, and went into winter quarters
at Murfreesboro. [12]

[Illustration: NORTHERN CAVALRYMAN. A war-time drawing published in 1869.]

There Bragg was attacked by the Union forces, now under General Rosecrans,
was beaten in one of the most bloody battles of the war (December 31,
1862, and January 2, 1863), and was forced to retreat further south.

NEW ORLEANS, 1862.--Both banks of the Mississippi as far south as the
Arkansas were by this time in Union hands. [13] South of that river on the
east bank of the Mississippi the Confederates still held Vicksburg and
Port Hudson (maps, pp. 353, 368). But New Orleans had been captured in
April, 1862, by a naval expedition under Farragut; [14] and the city was
occupied by a Union army under General Butler. [15]

[Illustration: WAR IN THE EAST, 1862.]

THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, 1862.--In the East the year opened with great
preparation for the capture of Richmond, the Confederate capital.

1. Armies under Fremont and Banks in the Shenandoah valley were to prevent
an attack on Washington from the west.

2. An army under McDowell was to be ready to march from Fredericksburg to
Richmond, when the proper time came.

3. McClellan was to take the largest army by water from Washington to Fort
Monroe, and then march up the peninsula formed by the York and James
rivers to the neighborhood of Richmond, where McDowell was to join him.

Landing at the lower end of the peninsula early in April, McClellan moved
northward to Yorktown, and captured it after a long siege. McClellan then
hurried up the peninsula after the retreating enemy, and on the way fought
and won a battle at Williamsburg. [16]

THE SHENANDOAH CAMPAIGN, 1862.--It was now expected that McDowell, who had
been guarding Washington, would join McClellan, but General T. J. Jackson
[17] (Stonewall Jackson), who commanded the Confederate forces in the
Shenandoah, rushed down the valley and drove Banks across the Potomac into
Maryland. This success alarmed the authorities at Washington, and McDowell
was held in northern Virginia to protect the capital. Part of his troops,
with those of Banks and Fremont, were dispatched against Jackson; but
Jackson won several battles and made good his escape.

[Illustration: THOMAS J. JACKSON.]

END OF PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN.--Though deprived of the aid of McDowell,
General McClellan moved westward to within eight or ten miles of Richmond;
but the Confederate General J. E. Johnston now attacked him at Fair Oaks.
A few weeks later General R. E. Lee, [18] who had succeeded Johnston in
command, was joined by Jackson; the Confederates then attacked McClellan
at Mechanicsville and Gaines Mill and forced him to retreat, fighting as
he went (June 26 to July 1), to Harrisons Landing on the James River.
There the Union army remained till August, when it went back by water to
the Potomac.

[Illustration: ROBERT E. LEE.]

LEE'S RAID; BATTLE OF ANTIETAM, 1862.--The departure of the Union army
from Harrisons Landing left General Lee free to do as he chose, and
seizing the opportunity he turned against the Union forces under General
Pope, whose army was drawn up between Cedar Mountain and Fredericksburg,
on the Rappahannock River. Stonewall Jackson first attacked General Banks
at the western end of the line at Cedar Mountain, and beat him. Jackson
and Lee then fell upon General Pope on the old field of Bull Run, beat
him, and forced him to fall back to Washington, where his army was united
with that of McClellan. [19] This done, Lee crossed the Potomac and
entered Maryland. McClellan attacked him at Antietam Creek (September,
1862), where a bloody battle was fought (sometimes called the battle of
Sharpsburg). Lee was beaten; but McClellan did not prevent his recrossing
the Potomac into Virginia. [20]

FREDERICKSBURG, 1862.--McClellan was now removed, and General A. E.
Burnside put in command. The Confederates meantime had taken position on
Marye's Heights on the south side of the Rappahannock, behind
Fredericksburg. The position was impregnable; but in December Burnside
attacked it and was repulsed with dreadful slaughter. The two armies then
went into winter quarters with the Rappahannock between them.

THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION.--Ever since the opening of the year 1862,
the question of slavery in the loyal states and in the territories had
been constantly before Congress. In April Congress abolished slavery in
the District of Columbia and set free the slaves there with compensation
to the owners. In June it abolished slavery in the territories and freed
the slaves there without compensation to the owners, and in July
authorized the seizure of slaves of persons then in rebellion.

In March Lincoln had asked Congress to help pay for the slaves in the
loyal slave states, if these states would abolish slavery; but neither
Congress nor the states adopted the plan. [21] Lincoln now determined, as
an act of war, to free the slaves in the Confederate states, and when the
armies of Lee and McClellan stood face to face at Antietam, he decided, if
Lee was beaten, to issue an emancipation proclamation. Lee was beaten, and
on September 22, 1862, the proclamation came forth declaring that on
January 1, 1863, "all persons held as slaves" in any state or part of a
state then "in rebellion against the United States, shall be then,
thenceforth, and forever free." The Confederate states did not return to
their allegiance, and on January 1, 1863, a second proclamation was
issued, declaring the slaves within the Confederate lines to be free men.

JANUARY 1, 1863.]

1. Lincoln _did not abolish slavery anywhere_. He emancipated certain

2. His proclamation did not apply to the loyal slave states--Delaware,
Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri.

3. It did not apply to such Confederate territory as the Union armies had
conquered; namely, Tennessee, seven counties in Virginia, and thirteen
parishes in Louisiana.

4. Lincoln freed the slaves by virtue of his authority as commander in
chief of the Union armies, "and as a fit and necessary war measure."


1. In 1860 and 1861 seven cotton states seceded, formed the Confederate
States of America, and elected Jefferson Davis President.

2. The capture of Fort Sumter (April, 1861) and Lincoln's call for troops
were followed by the secession of four more Southern states.

3. In 1861 an attempt was made to drive back the Confederate line in
Virginia; but this ended in disaster at the battle of Bull Run.

4. In 1862 the Peninsular Campaign failed, Pope was defeated at Bull Run,
Lee's invasion of Maryland was ended by the battle of Antietam, and
Burnside met defeat at Fredericksburg.

5. In the West in 1862 the Confederate line was forced back to northern
Mississippi, and New Orleans was captured. Great battles were fought at
Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Perryville, and Murfreesboro.

6. On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln declared free the slaves in the
states and parts of states held by the Confederates.


[1] The constitution of the Confederacy was the Constitution of the United
States altered to suit conditions. The President was to serve six years
and was not to be eligible for relection; the right to own slaves was
affirmed, but no slaves were to be imported from any foreign country
except the slave-holding states of the old Union. The Congress was
forbidden to establish a tariff for protection of any branch of industry.
A Supreme Court was provided for, but was never organized.

[2] Jefferson Davis was born in 1808, graduated from the Military Academy
at West Point in 1828, served in the Black Hawk War, resigned from the
army in 1835, and became a cotton planter in Mississippi. In 1845 he was
elected to Congress, but resigned to take part in the Mexican War, and was
wounded at Buena Vista. In 1847 lie was elected a senator, and from 1853
to 1857 was Secretary of War. He then returned to the Senate, where he was
when Mississippi seceded. He died in New Orleans in 1889.

[3] Property of the United States seized by the states was turned over to
the Confederate government. Thus Louisiana gave up $536,000 in specie
taken from the United States customhouse and mint at New Orleans.

[4] Read "Inside Sumter in '61" in _Battles and Leaders of the Civil War_,
Vol. I, pp. 65-73.

[5] Read "War Preparations in the North" in _Battles and Leaders of the
Civil War_, Vol. I, pp. 85-98; on pp. 149-159, also, read "Going to the

[6] An interesting account of "Scenes in Virginia in '61" may be found in
_Battles and Leaders of the Civil War_, Vol. I, pp. 160-166.

[7] "The Confederate army was more disorganized by victory than that of
the United States by defeat," says General Johnston; and no pursuit of the
Union forces was made. "The larger part of the men," McDowell telegraphed
to Washington, "are a confused mob, entirely disorganized." None stopped
short of the fortifications along the Potomac, and numbers entered
Washington. Read _Battles and Leaders of the Civil War_, Vol. I, pp.
229-239. "I have no idea that the North will give it up," wrote Stephens,
Vice President of the Confederacy. "Their defeat will increase their
energy." He was right.

[8] George Brinton McClellan was born in Philadelphia in 1826, graduated
from West Point, served in the Mexican War, and resigned from the army in
1857, to become a civil engineer, but rejoined it at the opening of the
war. In July, 1861, he conducted a successful campaign against the


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