Title: The Land We Live In
Author: Henry Mann
Release date: December 13, 2006 [eBook #20105]
E-text prepared by Marilynda Fraser-Cunliffe
and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team
"The Story of Our Country" has been often told, but cannot be told too often. I have spared no effort to make the following pages interesting as well as truthful, and to present, in graphic language, a pen-picture of our nation's origin and progress. It is a story of events, and not a dry chronicle of official succession. It is an attempt to give some fresh color to facts that are well known, while depicting also other facts of public interest which have never appeared in any general history. Wherever I have taken the work of another I give credit therefor; otherwise this little book is the fruit of original research and thought. The views expressed will doubtless not please everybody, and some may think that I go too far in pleading the cause of the original natives of the soil. Historic justice demands that some one should tell the truth about the Indians, whose chief and almost only fault has been that they occupied lands which the white man wanted. Even now covetous eyes are cast upon the territory reserved for the use of the remaining tribes.
For such statements in regard to General Jackson at New Orleans as differ from the ordinary narrative I am indebted to a work never published, so far as I am aware, in this country or in the English language—Vincent Nolte's "Fifty Years in Both Hemispheres," issued in Hamburg in 1853. As Nolte owned the cotton which Jackson appropriated, and also served as a volunteer in the battle of New Orleans, he ought to be good authority.
In dealing with the late war I have sought to be just to both the Union and the Confederacy. The lapse of over thirty years has given a more accurate perspective to the events of that mighty struggle, in which, as a soldier-boy of sixteen, I was an obscure participant, and all true Americans, whether they wore the blue or gray, now look back with pride to the splendid valor and heroic endurance displayed by the combatants on both sides. Those who belittle the constancy and courage of the South belittle the sacrifices and successes of the North.
The slavery conflict has long been over, and the scars it left are disappearing. Other and momentous problems have arisen for settlement, but there is every reason for confidence that they will be settled at the ballot-box, and without appeal to rebellion, or thought or threat of secession. In the present generation, more than in any preceding, is the injunction of Washington exemplified, that the name of American should always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. This supreme National sentiment overpowering all considerations of local interest and attachment, is the assurance that our country will live forever, that all difficulties, however menacing, will yield to the challenge of popular intelligence and patriotism, and that the glorious record of the past is but the morning ray of our National greatness to come.
A Land Without a History—Origin of the American Indians—Their Semi-civilization—The Spanish Colonial System—The King Was Absolute Master—The Council of the Indies—The Hierarchy—Servitude of the Natives—Gold and Silver Mines—Spanish Wealth and Degeneracy—Commercial Monopoly—Pernicious Effects of Spain's Colonial Policy—Spaniards Destroy a Huguenot Colony,21
Queen Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh—English Expedition to North Carolina—Failure of Attempts to Settle There—Virginia Dare—The Lost Colony—The Foundation of Jamestown—Captain John Smith—His Life Saved by Pocahontas—Rolfe Marries the Indian Princess—A Key to Early Colonial History—Women Imported to Virginia,32
The French in Canada—Champlain Attacks the Iroquois—Quebec a Military Post—Weak Efforts at Colonization—Fur-traders and Missionaries—The Foundation of New France—The French King Claims from the Upper Lakes to the Sea—Slow Growth of the French Colonies—Mixing With the Savages—The "Coureurs de Bois,"41
Henry Hudson's Discovery—Block Winters on Manhattan Island—The Dutch Take Possession—The Iroquois Friendly—Immigration of the Walloons—Charter of Privileges and Exemptions—Patroons—Manufactures Forbidden—Slave Labor Introduced—New Sweden—New Netherlanders Want a Voice in the Government,46
Landing of the Pilgrims—Their Abiding Faith in God's Goodness—The Agreement Signed on the Mayflower—A Winter of Hardship—The Indians Help the Settlers—Improved Conditions—The Colony Buys Its Freedom—Priscilla and John Alden—Their Romantic Courtship and Marriage,52
The Puritan Immigration—Wealth and Learning Seek These Shores—Charter Restrictions Dead Letters—A Stubborn Struggle for Self-government— Methods of Election—The Early Government an Oligarchy—The Charter of 1691—New Hampshire and Maine—The New Haven Theocracy—Hartford's Constitution—The United Colonies—The Clergy and Politics—Every Election Sermon a Declaration of Independence,57
Where Conscience Was Free—Roger Williams and His Providence Colony— Driven by Persecution from Massachusetts—Savages Receive Him Kindly—Coddington's Settlement in Rhode Island—Oliver Cromwell and Charles II. Grant Charters—Peculiar Referendum in Early Rhode Island,64
Puritans and Education—Provision for Public Schools—Puritan Sincerity—Effect of Intolerance on the Community—Quakers Harshly Persecuted—The Salem Witchcraft Tragedy—History of the Delusion— Rebecca Nourse and Other Victims—The People Come to their Senses— Cotton Mather Obdurate to the Last—Puritan Morals—Comer's Diary— Rhode Island in Colonial Times,68
New England Prospering—Outbreak of King Philip's War—Causes of the War—White or Indian Had to Go—Philip on the War-path—Settlements Laid in Ashes—The Attack on Hadley—The Great Swamp Fight—Philip Renews the War More Fiercely Than Before—His Allies Desert Him— Betrayed and Killed—The Indians Crushed in New England,77
Growth of New Netherland—Governor Stuyvesant's Despotic Rule—His Comments on Popular Election—New Amsterdam Becomes New York—The Planting of Maryland—Partial Freedom of Conscience—Civil War in Maryland—The Carolinas—Settlement of North and South Carolina—The Bacon Rebellion in Virginia—Governor Berkeley's Vengeance,82
The Colony of New York—New Jersey Given Away to Favorites—Charter of Liberties and Franchises—The Dongan Charter—Beginnings of New York City Government—King James Driven From Power—Leisler Leads a Popular Movement—The Aristocratic Element Gains the Upper Hand—Jacob Leisler and Milborne Executed—Struggle For Liberty Continues,90
William Penn's Model Colony—Sketch of the Founder of Pennsylvania— Comparative Humanity of Quaker Laws—Modified Freedom of Religion— An Early Liquor Law—Offences Against Morality Severely Punished— White Servitude—Debtors Sold Into Bondage—Georgia Founded as an Asylum for Debtors—Oglethorpe Repulses the Spaniards—Georgia a Royal Province,95
Struggle for Empire in North America—The Vast Region Called Louisiana— War Between England and France—New England Militia Besiege Quebec— Frontenac Strikes the Iroquois—The Capture of Louisburg—The Forks of the Ohio—George Washington's Mission to the French—Braddock's Defeat—Washington Prevents Utter Disaster—Barbarous Treatment of Prisoners,103
Expulsion of the Acadians—A Cruel Deportation—The Marquis De Montcalm—The Fort William Henry Massacre—Defeat of Abercrombie— William Pitt Prosecutes the War Vigorously—Fort Duquesne Reduced— Louisburg Again Captured—Wolfe Attacks Quebec—Battle of the Plains of Abraham—Wolfe and Montcalm Mortally Wounded—Quebec Surrenders—New France a Dream of the Past—Pontiac's War,108
Causes of the Revolution—The Act of Navigation—Acts of Trade—Odious Customs Laws—English Jealousy of New England—Effect of Restrictions on Colonial Trade—Du Chatelet Foresees Rebellion and Independence—The Revolution a Struggle for More Than Political Freedom,115
Writs of Assistance Issued—Excitement in Boston—The Stamp Act—Protests against Taxation Without Representation—Massachusetts Appoints a Committee of Correspondence—Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry—Henry's Celebrated Resolutions—His Warning to King George—Growing Agitation in the Colonies—The Stamp Act Repealed—Parliament Levies Duties on Tea and Other Imports to America—Lord North's Choice of Infamy—Measures of Resistance in America—The Massachusetts Circular Letter—British Troops in Boston—The Boston Massacre—Burning of the Gaspee—North Carolina "Regulators"—The Boston Tea Party—The Boston Port Bill—The First Continental Congress—A Declaration of Rights—"Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death!"122
The Battle of Lexington—The War of the Revolution Begun—Fort Ticonderoga Taken—Second Continental Congress—George Washington Appointed Commander-in-Chief—Battle of Bunker Hill—Last Appeal to King George—The King Hires Hessian Mercenaries—The Americans Invade Canada—General Montgomery Killed—General Howe Evacuates Boston—North Carolina Tories Routed at Moore's Creek Bridge—The Declaration of Independence—The British Move on New York—Battle at Brooklyn—Howe Occupies New York City—General Charles Lee Fails to Support Washington—Lee Captured—Washington's Victory at Trenton—The Marquis De Lafayette Arrives,133
Sir John Burgoyne's Campaign—His Bombastic Proclamation—The Tragic Story of Jane McCrea—Her Name a Rallying Cry—Washington Prevents Howe From Aiding Burgoyne—The Battle of Brandywine—Burgoyne Routed at Saratoga—He Surrenders, With All His Army—Articles of Confederation Submitted to the Several States—Effect of the Surrender of Burgoyne— Franklin the Washington of Diplomacy—Attitude of France—France Concludes to Assist the United States—Treaties of Commerce and Alliance—King George Prepares for War with France—The Winter at Valley Forge—Conspiracy to Depose Washington Defeated—General Howe Superseded by Sir Henry Clinton—The Battle of Monmouth—General Charles Lee's Treachery—Awful Massacre of Settlers in the Wyoming Valley— General Sullivan Defeats the Six Nations—Brilliant Campaign of George Rogers Clark—Failure of the Attempt to Drive the British from Rhode Island,143
The British Move Upon the South—Spain Accedes to the Alliance Against England—Secret Convention Between France and Spain—Capture of Stony Point—John Paul Jones—The Bon Homme Richard and the Serapis—A Thrilling Naval Combat—Wretched Condition of American Finances— Franklin's Heavy Burden—The Treason of Benedict Arnold—Capture of André—Escape of Arnold—André Executed as a Spy—Sir Henry Clinton Captures Charleston, General Lincoln and His Army—Lord Cornwallis Left in Command in the South—The British Defeat Gates Near Camden, South Carolina—General Nathanael Greene Conducts a Stubborn Campaign Against Cornwallis—The Latter Retreats Into Virginia—Siege of Yorktown—Cornwallis Surrenders—"Oh, God; it is All Over!"155
Condition of the United States at the Close of the Revolution—New England Injured and New York Benefited Commercially by the Struggle— Luxury of City Life—Americans an Agricultural People—The Farmer's Home—Difficulty of Traveling—Contrast Between North and South— Southern Aristocracy—Northern Great Families—White Servitude—The Western Frontier—Early Settlers West of the Mountains—A Hardy Population—Disappearance of the Colonial French—The Ordinance of 1787—Flood of Emigration Beyond the Ohio,167
The Spirit of Disunion—Shays' Rebellion—A National Government Necessary—Adoption of the Constitution—Tariff and Internal Revenue—The Whiskey Insurrection—President Washington Calls Out the Military—Insurgents Surrender—"The Dreadful Night"—Hamilton's Inquisition,174
Arrogance of France—Americans and Louis XVI.—Genet Defies Washington —The People Support the President—War With the Indians—Defeat of St. Clair—Indians State Their Case—General Wayne Defeats the Savages— Jay's Treaty—Retirement of Washington—His Character—His Military Genius—Washington as a Statesman—His Views on Slavery—His Figure in History,180
John Adams President—Jefferson and the French Revolution—The French Directory—Money Demanded From America—"Millions for Defence; Not One Penny for Tribute"—Naval Warfare with France—Capture of The Insurgent —Defeat of The Vengeance—Peace With France—Death of Washington— Alien and Sedition Laws—Jefferson President—The Louisiana Purchase— Burr's Alleged Treason—War with the Barbary States—England Behind the Pirates—Heroic Naval Exploits—Carrying War Into Africa—Peace With Honor,191
French Decrees and British Orders in Council—Damage to American Commerce—The Embargo—Causes of the War of 1812—The Chesapeake and The Leopard—President and Little Belt—War Declared—Mr. Astor's Messenger —The Two Navies Compared—American Frigate Victories—Constitution and Guerriere—United States and Macedonian—Constitution and Java— American Sloop Victories—The Shannon and Chesapeake—"Don't Give Up the Ship!"200
The War on Land—Tecumseh's Indian Confederacy—Harrison at Tippecanoe— General Hull and General Brock—A Fatal Armistice—Surrender of Detroit —English Masters of Michigan—General Harrison Takes Command in the Northwest—Harrison's Answer to Proctor—"He Will Never Have This Post Surrendered"—Croghan's Brave Defence—The British Retreat—War on the Niagara Frontier—Battle of Queenstown—Death of Brock—Colonel Winfield Scott and the English Doctrine of Perpetual Allegiance,209
Battle of Lake Erie—Master-Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry—Building a Fleet—Perry on the Lake—A Duel of Long Guns—Fearful Slaughter on the Lawrence—"Can Any of the Wounded Pull a Rope?"—At Close Quarters— Victory in Fifteen Minutes—"We Have Met the Enemy and They Are Ours"— The Father of Chicago Sees the End of the Battle—The British Evacuate Detroit—General Harrison's Victory at the Thames—Tecumseh Slain—The Struggle in the Southwest—Andrew Jackson in Command—Battle of Horseshoe Bend—The Essex in the Pacific—Defeat and Victory on the Ocean—Captain Porter's Brave Defence—Burning of Newark—Massacre at Fort Niagara— Chippewa and Lundy's Lane—Devastation by the British Fleet—British Vandalism at Washington—Attempt on Baltimore—"The Star Spangled Banner"216
British Designs on the Southwest—New Orleans as a City of Refuge—The Baratarians—The Pirates Reject British Advances—General Jackson Storms Pensacola—Captain Reid's Splendid Fight at Fayal—Edward Livingston Advises Jackson—Cotton Bales for Redoubts—The British Invasion—Jackson Attacks the British at Villere's—The Opposing Armies—General Pakenham Attempts to Carry Jackson's Lines by Storm—The British Charge—They are Defeated with Frightful Slaughter—Pakenham Killed—Last Naval Engagement —The President-Endymion Fight—Peace—England Deserts the Indians as She Had Deserted the Tories—Decatur Chastises the Algerians,225
England and Spanish America—A Significant Declaration—The Key to England's Policy in South America—Alexander Hamilton and the South Americans—President Adams' Grandson a Filibuster—Origin of the Revolutions in South America—Colonial Zeal for Spain—Colonists Driven to Fight for Independence—A War of Extermination—Patriot Leaders—The British Assist the Revolutionists—American Caution and Reserve—The Monroe Doctrine—Why England Championed the Spanish-American Republics —A Free Field Desired for British Trade—The Holy Alliance—Secretary Canning and President Monroe—The Monroe Declaration Not British, But American,233
The United States Taking the Lead in Civilization—Manhood Suffrage and Freedom of Worship—Humane Criminal Laws—Progress the Genius of the Nation—A Patriotic Report—State Builders in the Northwest—Illinois and the Union—Immigration—British Jealousy—An English Farmer's Opinion of America—Commerce and Manufactures—England Tries to Prevent Skilled Artisans From Emigrating—The Beginning of Protection—The British Turn on their Friends the Algerians—General Jackson Invades Florida—Spain Sells Florida to the United States,246
The Missouri Compromise—Erie Canal Opened—Political Parties and Great National Issues—President Jackson Crushes the United States Bank—South Carolina Pronounces the Tariff Law Void—Jackson's Energetic Action—A Compromise—Territory Reserved for the Indians—The Seminole War— Osceola's Vengeance—His Capture and Death—The Black Hawk War—Abraham Lincoln a Volunteer—Texas War for Independence—Massacre of the Alamo —Mexican Defeat at San Jacinto—The Mexican President a Captive—Texas Admitted to the Union—Oregon—American Statesmen Blinded by the Hudson Bay Company—Marcus Whitman's Ride—Oregon Saved to the Union—The "Dorr War,"253
War With Mexico—General Zachary Taylor Defeats the Mexicans—Buena Vista—Mexicans Four to One—"A Little More Grape, Captain Bragg!"— Glorious American Victory—General Scott's Splendid Campaign—A Series of Victories—Cerro Gordo—Contreras—Churubusco—Molino del Rey—Chapultepec—Stars and Stripes Float in the City of Mexico— Generous Treatment of the Vanquished—Peace—Cession of Vast Territory to the United States—The Gadsden Purchase,264
The Union in 1850—Comparative Population of Cities and Rural Districts —Agriculture the General Occupation—Commercial and Industrial Development—Growth of New York and Chicago—The Southern States— Importance of the Cotton Crop—Why the South Was Sensitive to Anti-Slavery Agitation—Manufactures—Religion and Education—The Cloud on the Horizon,272
Aggressiveness of Slavery—The Cotton States and Border States—The Fugitive Slave Law—Nullified in the North—Negroes Imported from Africa—The Struggle in Kansas—John Brown—Abraham Lincoln Pleads for Human Rights—Treason in Buchanan's Cabinet—Citizens Stop Guns at Pittsburg—Conditions at the Beginning of the Struggle—Southern Advantages—The Soldiers of Both Armies Compared—Conscription in the Confederacy—Southern Resources Limited—The North at a Disadvantage at First, but Its Resources Inexhaustible—Conscription in the North— Popular Support of the War—Unfriendliness of Great Britain and France—Why They Did Not Interfere,277
The Confederate Government Organized—Fort Sumter—President Lincoln Calls for 75,000 Men—Command of the Union Forces Offered to Robert E. Lee—Lee Joins the Confederacy—Missouri Saved to the Union—Battle of Bull Run—Union Successes in the West—General Grant Captures Fort Donelson—"I Have No Terms But Unconditional Surrender"—The Monitor and Merrimac Fight—Its World-wide Effect—Grant Victorious at Shiloh —Union Naval Victory Near Memphis—That City Captured—General McClellan's Tactics—He Retreats from Victory at Malvern Hill—Second Bull Run Defeat—Great Battle of Antietam—Lee Repulsed, but Not Pursued—McClellan Superseded by Burnside—Union Defeat at Fredericksburg —Union Victories in the West—Bragg Defeated by Rosecrans at Stone River—The Emancipation Proclamation,287
General Grant Invests Vicksburg—The Confederate Garrison—Scenes in the Beleaguered City—The Surrender—Hooker Defeated at Chancellorsville— Death of "Stonewall" Jackson—General Meade Takes Command of the Army of the Potomac—Lee Crosses the Potomac—The Battle of Gettysburg—The First Two Days—The Third Day—Pickett's Charge—A Thrilling Spectacle —The Harvest of Death—Lee Defeated—General Thomas, "The Rock of Chickamauga"—"This Position Must Be Held Till Night"—General Grant Defeats Bragg at Chattanooga—The Decisive Battle of the West,295
Grant Appointed Lieutenant-General—Takes Command in Virginia—Battles of the Wilderness—The Two Armies—Battle of Cedar Creek—Sheridan's Ride—He Turns Defeat Into Victory—Confederate Disasters on Land and Sea—Farragut at Mobile—Last Naval Battle of the War—Sherman Enters Atlanta—Lincoln's Re-election—Sherman's March to the Sea—Sherman Captures Savannah—Thomas Defeats Hood at Nashville—Fort Fisher Taken—Lee Appointed General-in-Chief—Confederate Defeat at Five Forks—Lee's Surrender—Johnston's Surrender—End of the War—The South Prostrate—A Resistance Unparalleled in History—The Blots on the Confederacy—Cruel Treatment of Union Men and Prisoners—Murder of Abraham Lincoln—The South Since the War,301
Reconstruction in the South—The Congress and the President—Liberal Republican Movement—Nomination, Defeat and Death of Greeley—Troops Withdrawn by President Hayes—Foreign Policy of the Past Thirty Years—French Ordered from Mexico—Last Days of Maximilian—Russian America Bought—The Geneva Arbitration—Alabama Claims Paid—The Northwest Boundary—The Fisheries—Spain and The Virginius—The Custer Massacre—United States of Brazil Established—President Harrison and Chile—Venezuela—American Prestige in South America—Hawaii—Behring Sea—Garfield, the Martyr of Civil Service Reform—Labor Troubles— Railway Riots of 1877 and 1894—Great Calamities—The Chicago Fire, Boston Fire, Charleston Earthquake, Johnstown Flood,308
The American Republic the Most Powerful of Nations—Military and Naval Strength—Railways and Waterways—Industry and Art—Manufactures—The New South—Foreign and Domestic Commerce—An Age of Invention—Americans a Nation of Readers—The Clergy—Pulpit and Press—Religion and Higher Education—The Currency Question—Leading Candidates for the Presidency —A Sectional Contest Deplorable—What Shall the Harvest Be?322
No Classes Here—All Are Workers—Enormous Growth of Cities—Immigration —Civic Misgovernment—The Farming Population—Individuality and Self-reliance—Isolation Even in the Grave—The West—The South—The Negro—Little Reason to Fear for Our Country—American Reverence for Established Institutions,327
A Land Without a History—Origin of the American Indians—Their Semi-civilization—The Spanish Colonial System—The King Was Absolute Master—The Council of the Indies—The Hierarchy—Servitude of the Natives—Gold and Silver Mines—Spanish Wealth and Degeneracy— Commercial Monopoly—Pernicious Effects of Spain's Colonial Policy— Spaniards Destroy a Huguenot Colony.
America presented itself as a virgin land to the original settlers from Europe. It had no history, no memories, no civilization that appealed to European traditions or associations. Its inhabitants belonged evidently to the human brotherhood, and their appearance and language, as well as some of their customs, indicated Mongolian kinship and Asiatic origin, but in the eyes of their conquerors they were as strange as if they had sprung from another planet, and the invaders were equally strange and marvelous to the natives. To the Spanish adventurer the wondrous temples of the Aztecs and the Peruvians bore no significance, except as they indicated wealth to be won, and rich empires waiting to be prey to the superior prowess and arms of the Christian aggressor; while the Englishman, the Frenchman, Hollander and Swede, who planted their colors on more northern soil, saw only a region of primeval forests inhabited by tribes almost as savage as the wild beasts upon whom they existed. It is needless, therefore, in this pen picture of our country, to go into any extended notice of its ancient inhabitants, although the writer has devoted not a little independent study to their origin and history. That study has confirmed him in the opinion that the American Indians came from Asia, with such slight admixture as the winds and waves may have brought from Europe, Africa and Polynesia. The resemblance of the American Indians to the Tartar tribes in language is striking, and in physical appearance still more so, while the difference in manners and customs is no greater than that between the Englishman of the seventeenth century and his descendant in the mountains of West Virginia or Kentucky. It is probable—indeed what is known of the aborigines indicates, that the immigrations were successive, and their succession would be fully accounted for by the mighty convulsions among Asiatic nations, of which history gives us a very dim idea. It is easy to suppose that more than one dusky Æneas led his fugitive followers across the narrow strait which divides Asia from America, and pushed on to the warmer regions of the South, driving in turn before him less vigorous and warlike tribes, seizing the lands which they had made fruitful, and adopting in part the civilization which they had built up. Many of the conquered would prefer emigration to submission, and in their turn push farther south, even to the uttermost bound of the continent.
The writer is not of those who believe that the remote inhabitants of America are unrepresented among the red men of the present age. In European and American history the myths about exterminated races are disappearing in the light of investigation. Our ancestors were not so cruel as they have been painted. It is not likely that any nation was ever cut off to a man. Men were too valuable to be destroyed beyond the requirements of warfare or the demands of sanguinary religious customs. Conquered nations, it is now agreed, were usually absorbed by their conquerors, either as equals or serfs. In either event unity was the result, as in the case of the Romans and Latins, the Scots and the Picts, the Normans and the Saxons. The mound builders, in all probability, survive in the Indian tribes of to-day, some of whom in the Southwest were mound builders within the historic period, while the ruined cities of Arizona and New Mexico were the product of a rude civilization, admittedly inherited by the pueblos of the present generation.
There was nothing in the civilization of the most advanced American races worth preserving, except their monuments. The destruction of the Aztec and Peruvian empires was, on the whole, an advantage to humanity. The darkest period of religious persecution in Europe saw nothing to compare with the sanguinary rites of Aztec worship, and bigoted, intolerant and oppressive as the Spaniards were they did a service to mankind in putting an end to those barbarities. The colonial system established by Spain in America was founded on the principle that dominion over the American provinces was vested in the crown, not in the kingdom. The Spanish possessions on this continent were regarded as the personal property of the sovereign.
The viceroys were appointed by the king and removable by him at pleasure. All grants of lands were made by the sovereign, and if they failed from any cause they reverted to the crown. All political and civil power centred in the king, and was executed by such persons and in such manner as the will of the sovereign might suggest, wholly independent not only of the colonies but of the Spanish nation. The only civil privileges allowed to the colonists were strictly municipal, and confined to the regulation of their interior police and commerce in cities and towns, for which purpose they made their own local regulations or laws, and appointed town and city magistrates. The Spanish-American governments were not merely despotic like those of Russia and Turkey, but they were a more dangerous kind of despotism, as the absolute power of the sovereign was not exercised by himself, but by deputy.
At first the dominions of Spain in the new world were divided, for purposes of administration, into two great divisions or vice-royalties: New Spain and Peru. Afterward, as the country became more settled, the vice-royalty of Santa Fe de Bogota was created. A deputy or vice-king was appointed to preside over each of these governments, who was the representative of the sovereign, and possessed all his prerogatives within his jurisdiction. His power was as supreme as that of the king over every department, civil and military. He appointed most of the important officers of the vice-royalty. His court was formed on the model of Madrid, and displayed an equal and often superior degree of magnificence and state. He had horse and foot guards, a regular household establishment and all the ensigns and trappings of royalty. The tribunals which assisted in the administration were similar to those of the parent country. The Spanish-American colonies, in brief, possessed no political privileges; the authority of the crown was absolute, but not more so than in the parent State, and it could hardly have been expected that liberties denied to the people at home would have been granted to subjects in distant America.
Over the viceroys, and acting for the sovereign, was the tribunal called the Council of the Indies, established by King Ferdinand in 1511, and remodeled by Charles V. in 1524. This Council possessed general jurisdiction over Spanish-America; framed laws and regulations respecting the colonies, and made all the appointments for America reserved to the crown. All officers, from the viceroy to the lowest in rank, could be called to account by the Council of the Indies. The king was supposed to be always present in the Council, and the meetings were held wherever the monarch was residing. All appeals from the decisions of the Courts of Audience, the highest tribunals in America, were made to the Council of the Indies.
The absolute power of the sovereign did not stop short at the Church. Pope Julian II. conferred on King Ferdinand and his successors the patronage and disposal of all ecclesiastical benefices in America, and the administration of ecclesiastical revenues—a privilege which the crown did not possess in Spain. The bulls of the Roman pontiff could not be admitted into Spanish America until they had been examined and approved by the king and Council of the Indies. The hierarchy was as imposing as in Spain, and its dominion and influence greater. The archbishops, bishops and other dignitaries enjoyed large revenues, and the ecclesiastical establishment was splendid and magnificent. The Inquisition was introduced in America in 1570 by Philip II., the oppressor of Protestant England and of the Netherlands, and patron of the monster Alva. The native Indians, on the ground of incapacity, were exempted from the jurisdiction of that tribunal. No scruple was shown, however, in converting the natives to Christianity, and multitudes were baptized who were entirely ignorant of the doctrine they professed to embrace. In the course of a few years after the reduction of the Mexican empire, more than four millions of the Mexicans were nominally converted, one missionary baptizing five thousand in one day, and stopping only when he had become so exhausted as to be unable to lift his hands.
Conversion to Christianity did not save the Indians from being reduced to slavery. Columbus himself, in the year 1499, to avoid the consequences of a disaffection among his followers, granted lands and distributed a certain number of Indians among them to cultivate the soil. This system was afterward introduced in all the Spanish settlements, the Indians being everywhere seized upon and compelled to work in the mines, to till the plantations, to carry burdens and to perform all menial and laborious services. The stated tasks of the unhappy natives were often much beyond their abilities, and multitudes sank under the hardships to which they were subjected. Their spirit was broken, they became humble and degraded, and the race was rapidly wasting away. The oppressions and sufferings of the natives at length excited the sympathies of many humane persons, particularly among the clergy, who exerted themselves with much zeal and perseverance to ameliorate their condition. In 1542 Charles V. abolished the enslavement of the Indians, and restored them to the position of freemen. This caused great indignation in the colonies and in Peru forcible resistance was offered to the royal decree. But although relieved in some degree from the burdens of personal slavery, the natives were required, as vassals of the crown, to pay a personal tax or tribute in the form of personal service. They were also put under the protection of great landholders, who treated them as serfs, although not exacting continuous labor, so that during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the condition of the Indians did not greatly improve.
Notwithstanding the avidity of the first Spanish adventurers for the precious metals, and the ardor with which they pursued their researches, their exertions were attended for a number of years with but little success. It was not until 1545 that the rich mines of Potosi, in Peru, were accidentally discovered by an Indian in clambering up the mountain. This was soon followed by the discovery of other highly productive mines of gold and silver in the various provinces, and Spanish America began to pour a flood of wealth into the coffers of Spain. The mines were not operated by the crown, but by individual enterprise, the crown receiving a share of the proceeds, and alloting a certain number of Indians to the mine-owners as laborers. These Indians did all the work of the mine without the aid of machinery, and with very little assistance from horse-power. Their industry enriched Spain and her colonies to a degree unexampled in the previous experience of mankind.
Silver and gold, however, did not bring lasting prosperity. Already in the early part of the seventeenth century Spain showed signs of decay. Her manufactures and commerce began to decline; men could not be recruited to keep up her fleets and armies, and even agriculture felt the blight of national degeneracy. The great emigration to the colonies drained off the energetic element of the population and the immense riches which the colonies showered upon Spain intoxicated the people and led them to desert the accustomed paths of industry. Nineteen-twentieths of the commodities exported to the Spanish colonies were foreign fabrics, paid for by the products of the mines, so that the gold and silver no sooner entered Spain than they passed away into the hands of foreigners, and the country was left without sufficient of the precious metals for a circulating medium.
Although wholly unable to supply the wants of her colonies Spain did not relax in the smallest degree the rigor of her colonial system, the controlling principle of which was that the whole commerce of the colonies should be a monopoly in the hands of the crown. The regulation of this commerce was entrusted to the Board of Trade, established at Seville.
This board granted a license to any vessel bound to America, and inspected its cargo. The entire commerce with the colonies centred in Seville, and continued there until 1720. It was carried on in a uniform manner for more than two centuries. A fleet with a strong convoy sailed annually for America. The fleet consisted of two divisions, one destined for Carthagena and Porto Bello, the other for Vera Cruz. At those points all the trade and treasure of Spanish America from California to the Straits of Magellan, was concentrated, the products of Peru and Chili being conveyed annually by sea to Panama, and from thence across the isthmus to Porto Bello, part of the way on mules, and part of the way down the Chagres river. The storehouses of Porto Bello, now a decayed and miserable town, retaining no shadow of former greatness, were filled with merchandise, and its streets thronged with opulent merchants drawn from distant provinces. Upon the arrival of the fleet a fair was opened, continuing for forty days, during which the most extensive commercial transactions took place, and the rich cargoes of the galleons were all marketed, and the specie and staples of the colonies received in payment to be conveyed to Spain. The same exchange occurred at Vera Cruz, and both squadrons having taken in their return cargoes, rendezvoused at Havana, and sailed from thence to Europe. Such was the stinted, fettered and restricted commerce which subsisted between Spain and her possessions in America for more than two centuries and a half, and such were the swaddling clothes which bound the youthful limbs of the Spanish colonies, retarding their growth and keeping them in a condition of abject dependence. The effect was most injurious to Spain as well as to the colonies. The naval superiority of the English and Dutch enabled them in time of war to cut off intercourse between Spain and America, and thereby deprive Spanish-Americans of the necessaries as well as the luxuries for which they depended upon Spain, and an extensive smuggling trade grew up which no efforts on the part of the authorities could repress. Monopoly was starved out through the very rigor exerted to make it exclusive, and the markets were so glutted with contraband goods that the galleons could scarcely dispose of their cargoes.
The restrictions upon the domestic intercourse and commerce of the Spanish colonies were, if possible, more grievous and pernicious in their consequences than those upon traffic with Europe. Inter-colonial commerce was prohibited under the severest penalties, the crown insisting that all trade should be carried on through Spain and made tributary to the oppressive duties exacted by the government. While Spain received a considerable revenue from her colonies, notwithstanding the contraband trade, the expenses of the system were very great, and absorbed much of the revenue. Corruption was widespread, and colonial officers looked upon their positions chiefly with a view to their own enrichment. They had no patriotic interest in the welfare of the colonies, and conducted themselves like a garrison quartered upon the inhabitants. Although salaries were high the expenses of living were great, and the salaries were usually but a small part of the income. Viceroys who had been in office a few years, went back to Spain with princely fortunes.
Such was the condition of affairs in Spain's vast American empire when England, France and the United Provinces started on a career of colonization in North America. It seems to have been providential that the same generation which witnessed the discovery of America witnessed the birth of Luther. In the century which followed the Theses of Wittenberg the eyes of sufferers for conscience' sake turned eagerly and hopefully toward the New World as a refuge from the oppression, the scandal and the persecution of the old. The first to seek what is now the Atlantic region of the United States with the object of making their home here were French Huguenots, sent out by the great Admiral Coligny, who afterward fell a victim in the massacre of Bartholomew's Day. The Frenchmen planted a settlement first at Port Royal, which was abandoned, and afterward built a fort about eighteen miles up the St. John's River, Florida, and named it Fort Caroline. This was in the year 1564. In the following year a Spanish fleet, commanded by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, appeared at the mouth of the St. John's. In answer to the French challenge as to his purpose the Spanish commander replied that he came with orders from his king to gibbet and behead all the Protestants in those regions. "The Frenchman, who is a Catholic," he added, "I will spare. Every heretic shall die." The Huguenots, had they held together, might have been able to offer a successful resistance to the Spaniards, but Jean Ribault, the French commander, unfortunately decided to sail out from the shelter of Fort Caroline and seek a conflict at sea with the enemy. A storm destroyed the French fleet, but the crews succeeded in escaping to land. Menendez marched overland with his troops to the unprotected fort and easily captured it with its handful of defenders. The Spaniards cruelly murdered almost the entire colony of two hundred men, women and children, some of them being hung to trees with the inscription: "Not as Frenchmen, but as Lutherans."
Ribault, ignorant of the tragedy at the fort, sought to return there from the place where he had been shipwrecked. His men were divided in two detachments. Menendez went in search of them, and meeting one party told them that Fort Caroline, with its inmates, had been destroyed. The Frenchmen were helpless, and pleaded for mercy. Menendez asked: "Are you Catholics or Lutherans?" They answered: "We are of the reformed religion." The pitiless Spaniard replied that he was under orders to exterminate all of that faith. They offered him fifty thousand ducats if he would spare their lives. Menendez demanded that the Frenchmen should place themselves at his mercy. They consented to do so. A small stream divided the Huguenots from the Spaniards. Menendez ordered that the French should cross over in companies of ten. As they crossed they were taken out of sight of their companions and bound with their arms behind them. When all of the Frenchmen, about two hundred in number, had been thus secured, Menendez again asked them: "Are you Catholics or Lutherans?" Some twelve professed to be Catholics, and these with four mechanics who could be made useful to the Spaniards, were led away. The remainder of the two hundred were put to death. Menendez next intercepted Ribault and the remnant of his men, and by similar treachery accomplished their destruction, refusing an offer of one hundred thousand ducats to spare their lives. Menendez wrote to King Phillip that the Huguenots "were put to the sword, judging this to be expedient for the service of God our Lord, and of your majesty."
Thus ended the first attempt of members of the reformed religion to settle within the limits of what is now the United States. But the blood of the victims did not cry in vain to Heaven for vengeance. A Frenchman, himself a Roman Catholic, the Chevalier Dominic de Gourges, determined to punish the Spaniards for their cruelty. He sold his property to obtain money to fit out an expedition to Florida. Arriving in Florida in the spring of 1568, he was joined by the natives in an attack on two forts occupied by the Spaniards below Fort Caroline. The forts were captured and their inmates put to the sword, except a few whom de Gourges hung to trees with the inscription: "Not as Spaniards and mariners, but as traitors, robbers and murderers."
Queen Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh—English Expedition to North Carolina—Failure of Attempts to Settle There—Virginia Dare—The Lost Colony—The Foundation of Jamestown—Captain John Smith—His Life Saved by Pocahontas—Rolfe Marries the Indian Princess—A Key to Early Colonial History—Women Imported to Virginia.
The lives of the hapless Huguenots who perished at the hands of Menendez were, perhaps, not altogether wasted, for it is believed that a refugee from the Port Royal colony, wrecked on the coast of England, gave Queen Elizabeth interesting information about the temperate and fruitful regions north of the Spanish territories and prepared her mind to favor the projects of Sir Walter Raleigh. That bold and talented adventurer, whose name will live forever in American annals, and whose monument is North Carolina's beautiful State capital, is said in the familiar story to have attracted the notice of Queen Elizabeth by spreading his scarlet cloak over a miry place for the queen to walk upon. He made rapid progress in the good graces of his sovereign, who was quick to discern the men who could be useful to her and to her kingdom. Sir Humphrey Gilbert, half brother to Sir Walter, had perished on an expedition to found an English colony in America. A storm engulfed his vessel, the Squirrel, and he went down with all his crew. Queen Elizabeth graciously granted to Sir Walter a patent as lord proprietor of the country from Delaware Bay to the mouth of the Santee River, and substantially including the present States of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and a large portion of South Carolina, with an indefinite extension to the west.
Raleigh sent out an expedition of two ships under the command of Philip Amidas and Arthur Barlow. They landed upon the coast of North Carolina at mid-summer, in the year 1584. The scenery and climate were charming, the natives hospitable and everything seemed to promise well for future settlement. The adventurers reported to Raleigh, who decided to plant a colony in the region visited by his vessels. Queen Elizabeth herself is said to have given the name of Virginia to her dominion, to commemorate her unmarried condition. Untaught by the experience of American colonists from the days of Columbus, the English settlers in North Carolina had the usual quarrel with the natives, and were saved from the usual fate only by the timely arrival of Sir Francis Drake on his return to England from a cruise against the Spaniards. The colonists sought refuge on Drake's vessels and were carried back to their native country.
Subsequent attempts of Sir Walter Raleigh to establish colonies in North Carolina also failed, but these efforts were productive of at least one important benefit in introducing to the attention of the English and also of the Irish, the potato, which, although previously brought to Ireland by a slave-trader named Hawkins, and to England by Sir Francis Drake, attracted but little notice before it was imported by John White, Raleigh's Governor of Roanoke. At Roanoke was born, August 18, 1587, the first white child of English parentage on the North American continent, Virginia Dare, the daughter of William and Eleanor Dare, and granddaughter of Governor White.
In the little wooden chapel, two or three weeks after the event, the colonists assembled one bright day to attend the baptism and christening of the little stranger. The font was the family's silver wash ewer, and the sponsor was Governor White himself, the baby's grandfather. Thereafter she was known as Virginia Dare, a sweet and appropriate name for this pretty little wild flower that bloomed all alone on that desolate coast. About the time that Virginia was cutting her first teeth there came very distressing times to the colony. There was great need of supplies, and it was determined to send to England for them. Governor White went himself, and never saw his little granddaughter again.
It was three years before the Governor returned to Roanoke Island. He was kept in England by the Spanish invasion, and after the winds and the waves had shattered the dreaded Armada, it was some time before Raleigh could get together the men and supplies that were needed by the far-off colony. At last the ship was ready and White took his departure, but he had not sailed far when his vessel was overtaken by a Spanish cruiser and captured. White himself escaped in a boat, and after many days reached England again. Then he had to wait for another ship, and the weary old man saw day after day go by before he left the chalk cliffs of England behind him. After long, anxious months he approached the new land. It was near sunset and he expected to see the smoke rising from the chimneys and the settlers hurrying in from the fields to eat their evening meal, or crowding down to greet the long-looked for arrivals. But no such cheering sight met his gaze. There stood the cabins, but they were deserted; not a single human soul was visible. They landed and walked up the grass-grown paths. Vines and climbers festooned the doorways. A dreary stillness reigned everywhere. The colony had disappeared, and tradition has it to this day that the settlers were absorbed in the Indian tribes and that little Virginia Dare may have become a white Pocahontas.
Raleigh lost his best friend when Queen Elizabeth died, and her successor, James, gave into other hands the task of establishing English power in America. The London Company, with a patent from the king, sent a fleet of three vessels to Virginia, which ascended the James River, and fifty miles from its mouth laid the foundation of Jamestown, May 13, 1607.
It was a lovely day in summer, presenting a bright southern contrast to the bitter winter weather which welcomed the Pilgrims thirteen years later to Plymouth Rock, when the Englishmen began the erection of a fort on the peninsula or island in the river, where they proposed to establish the capital of their colony. They chose for their president Edward Maria Wingfield, ignoring Captain John Smith, a gallant and resourceful soldier of fortune who would have been invaluable as a leader against any foe. The fort had not been completed when the Indians gathered in large numbers and made a desperate attack on the colony. Twelve of the colonists were killed and wounded before the savages were driven off by the use of artillery. In the following winter Captain John Smith explored the waters in the vicinity of Jamestown in search of a passage to the Pacific. This may seem ridiculous in the light of present knowledge, but it is to be remembered that two years later, in 1609, the great navigator, Henry Hudson, ascended the river which bears his name, in the expectation of discovering a northwest passage to the Orient. Even the most enlightened nations of Europe were slow to give up the idea that a connection by water existed through the American continent, between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
To return to Captain John Smith. It appears that in the course of his explorations he was captured by Indians, and taken before Chief Powhatan at his forest home. As Smith tells the story, the chief wore a mantle of raccoon skins and a head-dress of eagle's feathers. The warriors, about two hundred in number, were ranged on each side of Powhatan, and the Indian women were assembled behind the warriors to witness the unwonted scene. Two daughters of the chief, or, as the English called him, the "emperor," had seats near his "throne." Smith was well received, one woman bringing him water to wash his hands, and another a bunch of feathers to dry them with. Then he was fed, and the council deliberated as to his fate. They resolved that he should die. Two large stones were placed in front of Powhatan and Smith was pinioned, dragged to the stones, and his head placed upon them, while the warriors who were to carry out the sentence brandished their clubs for the fatal blow. One of the daughters of Powhatan, named Matoa, or Pocahontas, sixteen or eighteen years old, sprang from her father's side, clasped Smith in her arms, and laid her head upon his. Powhatan, savage as he was, and full of anger against the English, melted at the sight. He ordered that the prisoner should be released, and sent him with a message of friendship to Jamestown.
Pocahontas continued to be a friend to the white man. Learning, two years later, of an Indian plot to exterminate the intruders, she sped stealthily from her father's home to the English settlement, warned Captain Smith of the impending peril, and was back in Powhatan's cabin before morning. The English were not ungrateful for her goodness, even although it appears she was unable to prevent her father from giving expression at times to his hatred of the colonists. On one occasion, when the settlers were suffering from scarcity of food, and Powhatan would not permit his people to carry corn to Jamestown, an Englishman named Samuel Argall went on a foraging expedition near the home of Powhatan, and enticed Pocahontas on board his vessel. He held the young woman as a prisoner, and offered to release her for a large ransom in corn. Powhatan refused to have anything to do with Argall, but sent word to Jamestown saying that if his daughter should be returned to him he would treat the English as friends. Pocahontas was detained at Jamestown for several months, being treated with respect, and having the free run of the colony. She appears to have been a romping, good-natured young woman, comely for an Indian, passing her time as happily as possible, without moping for her kinspeople, and not at all the typical heroine of song and story. It was wicked to detain her, but she seemed to enjoy her captivity and frolicked about the place in a way that must have shocked those who regarded her as of royal birth. Evidently Pocahontas liked the English from the first, and preferred their company at Jamestown to her childhood home in the Virginia forests. A young Englishman, named John Rolfe, fell in love with her. Wives from England were scarce, and this fact may have made Pocahontas more attractive in his eyes. When some one objected that she was a pagan—"Is it not my duty," he replied, "to lead the blind to the light?" Pocahontas learned to love Rolfe in return, and love made easy her path to conversion to Christianity. She was baptized by the name of Rebecca, and was the first Christian convert in Virginia. Powhatan consented to his daughter's marriage—he had probably concluded by this that she was bound to be English anyhow—and the ceremony was performed in the chapel at Jamestown, on a delightful spring day in April, 1613. Pocahontas, we are told, was dressed in a simple tunic of white muslin from the looms of Dacca. Her arms were bare even to her shoulders, and hanging loosely to her feet was a robe of rich stuff presented by the Governor, Sir Thomas Dale, and fancifully embroidered by Pocahontas and her maidens. A gaudy fillet encircled her head, and held the plumage of birds and a veil of gauze, while her wrists and ankles were adorned with the simple jewelry of the native workshops. When the ceremony was ended, the eucharist was administered, with bread from the wheat fields around Jamestown, and wine from the grapes of the adjacent woodland. Her brothers and sisters and forest maidens were present; also the Governor and Council, and five English women—all that there were in the colony—who afterward returned to England. Rolfe and his spouse "lived civilly and lovingly together" until Governor Dale went back to England in 1616, when they and the Englishwomen in Virginia accompanied the Governor. The "Lady Rebecca" received great attentions at court and from all below it. She was entertained by the Lord Bishop of London, and at court she was treated with the respect due to the daughter of a monarch. The silly King James was angry because one of his subjects dared marry a lady of royal blood! And Captain Smith, for fear of displeasing the royal bigot, would not allow her to call him "father," as she desired to do, and her loving heart was grieved. The king, in his absurd dreams of the divinity of the royal prerogative, imagined Rolfe or his descendants might claim the crown of Virginia on behalf of his royal wife, and he asked the Privy Council if the husband had not committed treason! Pocahontas remained in England about a year; and when, with her husband and son she was about to return to Virginia, with her father's chief councillor, she was seized with small-pox at Gravesend, and died in June, 1617. Her remains lie within the parish church-yard at Gravesend. Her son, Thomas Rolfe, afterward became a distinguished man in Virginia, and his descendants are found among the most honorable citizens of that commonwealth.
Between the lines of the story of Pocahontas can be found the key to much of the early history of Virginia and other colonies. Even before regular settlements were attempted on these shores the Indians had learned by bitter experience to dread and hate the strangers in the big canoes. Slave-traders and adventurers made prey of the natives, and many a depredating visit was doubtless paid to America that is not recorded in the annals of those times. Argall's abduction of Pocahontas ended fortunately, but it might have brought on a terrible Indian war and the destruction of the Virginia colony. Had such been the result the civilized world would never have known the red man's side of the story, and Powhatan's just vengeance would have been set down to the barbarous and savage nature of the Indian.
The scarcity of women in the Virginia colony has already been alluded to in connection with the marriage of Rolfe and Pocahontas. Of the early immigrants very few were women, and there could be no permanent colony without the home and family. The London Company, at the instance of their treasurer, Edwin Sandys, proposed, about twelve years after the first settlement, to send one hundred "pure and uncorrupt" young women to Virginia at the expense of the corporation, to be wives to the planters. Ninety were sent over in 1620. The shores were lined with young men waiting to see them land, and in a few days everyone of the fair immigrants had found a husband. Wives had to be paid for in tobacco—the currency of the colony—in order to recompense the company for the expense of importing them. The price of a wife was at first fixed at one hundred and twenty-five pounds of tobacco—equal to about $90—but afterward rose to $150. The women were disposed of on credit, when the suitor had not the cash, and the debt incurred for a wife was considered a debt of honor. Virginia became a colony of homes. The settlement was saved from becoming a refuge of the criminal and the outcast, and in the unions formed at that time many of the families in the country had their origin. That some of the refuse of English society floated into the colony is true, and many of the unruly children of London and other English towns, were sent there as apprentices. But the unruly street boy often has the diamond of energy and genius concealed within the rude exterior, and in the genial clime of Virginia, with an opportunity to be a man among men, the young apprentice from the slums of London or Plymouth proved himself to possess qualities of value to the community.
The French in Canada—Champlain Attacks the Iroquois—Quebec a Military Post—Weak Efforts at Colonization—Fur-traders and Missionaries—The Foundation of New France—The French King Claims from the Upper Lakes to the Sea—Slow Growth of the French Colonies—Mixing with the Savages—The "Coureurs de Bois."
Although the French navigator, Jacques Cartier, had sailed up the St. Lawrence as early as 1534, it was not until 1608—the year after the foundation of Jamestown—that Samuel de Champlain effected a permanent settlement at Quebec. It happened that the Indians of the St. Lawrence region were at bitter enmity with the Iroquois, or Five Nations, who lived in the present State of New York, and this enmity had no small influence in deciding the subsequent duel between France and England for empire in North America. Champlain accepted the St. Lawrence Indians as allies, and consented to lead a war party against the Iroquois. In 1609, the year after the settlement of Quebec, Champlain entered the lake which bears his name, accompanied by a number of the St. Lawrence Indians, and engaged the Iroquois in battle. The warriors of the Five Nations were brave, but the white man's gun was too much for them, and when two of their chiefs fell dead, pierced by a shot from Champlain's weapon, they turned and fled. The French thus won the friendship of the Canadian Indians and the undying hatred of the Five Nations, and the latter therefore stood faithfully by first the Dutch, and later the English in the establishment of their power at Manhattan.
Quebec continued for many years to be hardly more than a military post. At the time of Champlain's death, in 1635, there was, says Winsor, a fortress with a few small guns on the cliffs of Cape Diamond. Along the foot of the precipice was a row of unsightly and unsubstantial buildings, where the scant population lived, carried on their few handicrafts, and stored their winter provisions. It was a motley crowd which, in the dreary days, sheltered itself here from the cold blasts that blew along the river channel. There was the military officer, who sought to give some color to the scene in showing as much of his brilliant garb as the cloak which shielded him from the wind would permit. The priest went from house to house with his looped hat. The lounging hunter preferred for the most part to tell his story within doors. Occasionally you could mark a stray savage who had come to the settlement for food. Such characters as these, and the lazy laborers taking a season of rest after the summer's traffic, would be grouped in the narrow street beneath the precipice whenever the wintry sun gave more than its usual warmth at mid-day. It was hardly a scene to inspire confidence in the future. It was not the beginning of empire. If one climbed the path leading to the top of the rugged slope he could see a single cottage that looked as if a settler had come to stay. There were cattle-sheds and signs of thrift in its garden plot. If Champlain had had other colonists like the man who built this house and marked out this farmstead, he might have died with the hope that New France had been planted in this great valley on the basis of domestic life. The widow of this genuine settler, Hebert, still occupied the house at the time when Champlain died, and they point out to you now in the upper town the spot where this one early householder of Quebec made his little struggle to instil a proper spirit of colonization into a crowd of barterers and adventurers. From this upper level the visitor at this time might have glanced across the valley of the St. Charles to but a single other sign of permanency in the stone manor house of Robert Gifart, which had, the previous year, been built at Beauport.
The French pushed their explorations toward the west and missionary stations were established in the country of the Hurons. Two French fur-traders reached in 1658 the western extremity of Lake Superior, and heard from the Indians there of the great river—the Mississippi—running toward the south. Upon the return of the traders to Canada an expedition was organized to proceed to the distant region to which the traders had penetrated, exchange trinkets for furs, and convert the natives to the Christian faith. It was now that the French began to reap the fatal fruits of their causeless war on the Iroquois. The latter attacked and dispersed the expedition, killing several Frenchmen. In 1665, western exploration was resumed, Father Allouez reaching the Falls of St. Mary in September of that year, and coasting along the southern shore of Lake Superior to the great village of the Chippewas. Delegations from a number of Indian nations, including the Illinois tribe, met Father Allouez in council at St. Mary's, and complained of the hostile visitations of the Iroquois from the east and the Sioux from the west. Father Allouez promised them protection against the Iroquois. Soon after this the French summoned a great convention of the tribes to St. Mary's, and in presence of the chieftains formally took possession of the country in behalf of the king of France. A large wooden cross was elevated with religious ceremonies. The priests chanted and prayed and the French king was proclaimed sovereign of the country along the upper lakes and southward to the sea. Thus was founded the short-lived empire of France in America.
The only French occupation of the St. Lawrence was not of the kind to flourish. Sir William Alexander, in a tract which he published in 1624, to induce a more active immigration on the part of his countrymen to his province of New Scotland (Nova Scotia), accounts for the want of stability in the French colony in that they were "only desirous to know the nature and quality of the soil and did never seek to have (its products) in such quantity as was requisite for their maintenance, affecting more by making a needless ostentation that the world should know they had been there, more in love with glory than with virtue.... Being always subject to divisions among themselves it was impossible that they could subsist, which proceeded sometimes from emulation or envy, and at other times from the laziness of the disposition of some, who, loathing labor, would be commanded by none." In 1660, after more than half a century after the first settlement, a census of Canada showed a total of 3418 souls, while the inhabitants of New England numbered at the same time not far from eighty thousand. The establishment of seigneuries was not calculated to invite or promote desirable immigration. A seigneurial title was given to any enterprising person who would undertake to plant settlers on the land, and accept in return a certain proportion of the grist, furs and fish which the occupant could procure by labor. Immigrants of the class which builds up a country want to own the land which they cultivate. The sense of independence inspires them with energy and with a patriotic interest in the commonwealth. Another peculiar feature of French colonization was the tendency to mingle with the natives. As early as 1635, Champlain told the Hurons, at his last Council in Quebec, that they only needed to embrace the white man's faith if they would have the white man take their daughters in marriage. The English principle was to drive out the savage when he could be driven out, or to tolerate him as a ward and an inferior when it would be unjust to expel or destroy him; the Frenchman embraced the Indian as a brother. "The French missionary," says Doyle in his Puritan colonies, "well nigh broke with civilization; he toned down all that was spiritual in his religion, and emphasized all that was sensual, till he had assimilated it to the wants of the savage. The better and worse features of Puritanism forbade a triumph won on such terms." One of the worst products of French colonial life was the class known as the "coureurs de bois," a lawless gang, half trader, half explorer, bent on divertisement, and not discouraged by misery or peril. They lived in a certain fashion to which the missionaries themselves were not averse, as Lemercier shows where he commends the priests of his order as being savages among savages. Charlevoix tells us that while the Indian did not become French, the Frenchman became a savage. Talon speaks of these vagabonds as living as banditti, gathering furs as they could and bringing them to Albany or Montreal to sell, just as it proved the easiest. If the intendant could have controlled them he would have made them marry, give up trade and the wilderness, and settle down to work.
Henry Hudson's Discovery—Block Winters on Manhattan Island—The Dutch Take Possession—The Iroquois Friendly—Immigration of the Walloons— Charter of Privileges and Exemptions—Patroons—Manufactures Forbidden —Slave Labor Introduced—New Sweden—New Netherlanders Want a Voice in the Government.
When Henry Hudson managed, notwithstanding his detention in England by King James, to send an account of his discoveries to Holland, the Dutch were swift to avail themselves of the opportunities thus offered to extend their trade to North America. The traders who first sought Manhattan Island and Hudson's River, or the "Mauritius" as the Dutch called the North River, were not settlers. Among them was the daring navigator, Adrian Block, from whom Block Island is named, who gathered a cargo of skins and was about to depart, late in the year 1613, when vessel and cargo were consumed by fire. Block and his crew built log-cabins on the lower part of Manhattan Island, and spent the winter constructing a new ship, which they called the "Onrust" or "unrest"—an incident and a name significant now in view of the commercial pre-eminence and activity of the metropolis founded where those men built the first habitations occupied by Europeans. Block sailed in the spring of 1614 on a voyage of further discovery in his American built ship. He passed through the East River and Long Island Sound and ascertained that the long strip of land on the south was an island. He saw and named Block Island, and entered Narragansett Bay and the harbor of Boston. His report led the States-General to grant a charter for four years from October 11, 1614, to a company formed to trade in the region which Block had explored, the territory "lying between Virginia and New France," being called the New Netherland. When the charter expired, the States-General refused to grant a renewal, it being designed to place New Netherland under the jurisdiction of the Dutch West India Company as soon as that company should have received the charter for which application had been made. This charter, granted June 3, 1620, conferred on the Dutch West India Company almost sovereign powers over the Atlantic coast of America, so far as it was unoccupied by other nations, and the western coast of Africa. The Company was organized in 1622, and its attention was at once called to the necessity of founding a permanent colony in the New Netherland in order to preserve the country from seizure by the English, now established in New Plymouth to the north, as well as Virginia on the south. Dutch traders had not been idle during the period between the lapse of the old charter and organization under the new and the West India Company found its operations greatly facilitated by the labors of the pioneers. The storehouse on Manhattan Island had been enlarged, a fort had been erected on an island near the site of Albany, and the Iroquois had learned that in the Dutch they had an ally who would assist them with arms at least against their enemies on the St. Lawrence. The West India Company began wisely the work of settlement. They invited the Walloons, Protestant refugees from the Belgic provinces of Spain, to emigrate to New Netherland. They were most desirable settlers for a new country, as industrious as they were intelligent and religious, and well versed in agriculture as well as the mechanical and finer arts. Having abandoned their homes for conscience' sake they could be trusted to do their duty loyally to their adopted State, and to advance to the best of their ability the interests of the Company.
Thirty families, including one hundred and ten men, women and children, and most of them Walloons, were in the first emigration. Four of the families, young couples who had been married on shipboard, and who, perhaps, concluded that they would get along better apart from the older households, chose to settle on the Delaware, four miles below the site of Philadelphia, where they built a blockhouse and called it Fort Nassau. Eight seamen went with them and formed a part of their colony, which grew and prospered. Others of the emigrants went to Long Island; some founded Albany; some settled on the Connecticut River, and several families made their homes in what is at present Ulster County. The Company sent over Peter Minuit as Governor in 1626, who bought from the natives their title to Manhattan Island, paying therefor trinkets and liquor to the value of twenty-four dollars. Governor Minuit built a fortification at the southern end of the island, and called it New Amsterdam. The States-General constituted the colony a county of Holland, and bestowed on it a seal, being a shield enclosed in a chain, with an escutcheon on which was the figure of a beaver. The crest was the coronet of a count.
In 1629 the Dutch West India Company gave to the settlers a charter of "privileges and exemptions," and sought to encourage immigration by offering as much land as the immigrants could cultivate, with free liberty of hunting and fowling under the direction of the Governor. They also offered to any person who should "discover any shore, bay or other fit place for erecting fisheries or the making of salt pounds" an absolute property in the same. To further promote the settlement of New Netherland the company proposed to grant lands in any part of the colony outside the island of Manhattan, to the extent of sixteen miles along any navigable stream, or four miles if on each shore, and indefinitely in the interior, to any person who should agree to plant a colony of adults within four years; or if he should bring more, his domain to be enlarged in proportion. He was to be the absolute lord of the manor, with the feudal right to hold manorial courts; and if cities should grow up on his domain he was to have power to appoint the magistrates and other officers of such municipalities, and have a deputy to confer with the Governor. Settlers under these lords, who were known as patroons—a term synonymous with the Scottish "laird" and the Swedish "patroon"—were to be exempt for ten years from the payment of taxes and tribute for the support of the colonial government, and for the same period every man, woman and child was bound not to leave the service of the patroon without his written consent. In order to prevent the colonists from building up local manufactures to the detriment of Holland industries and of the Company's trade, the settlers were forbidden to manufacture cloth of any kind under pain of banishment, and the Company agreed to supply settlers with as many African slaves "as they conveniently could," and to protect them against enemies. Each settlement was required to support a minister of the gospel and a schoolmaster. The system thus established contained the seed of evil as well as of good. African slave labor, already introduced in Virginia, where the climate was some excuse for its adoption, worked injury to the New Netherland, where all the conditions were favorable to white labor, and tended to create a servile class. The negroes, both bond and free, were for many years a most obnoxious element in the colony, viewed with apprehension and suspicion even down to the beginning of the present century by the general body of white citizens, and often subjected to most cruel and unjust persecution and punishment on charges that were either baseless or founded only in malice. The restriction on domestic manufactures was another barb in the side of the colonists, and that policy continued by the English successors of the Dutch, had much to do with exciting the War for Independence. The patroons also were an aristocratic element foreign to the prevalent spirit of North American settlement, and their feudal rule, although liberal and patriarchal in some instances, became less tolerable as years rolled on, and the people comprehended the absurdity and injustice of mediæval institutions on American soil. It is fortunate that the patroon system, unlike slavery, was ultimately uprooted without revolution.
Americans should be proud of the fact that Gustavus Adolphus, the great king of Sweden who died on the field of Lutzen in the cause of religious liberty, gave his approval to the project for planting a Swedish colony in America, and by proclamation, while in the midst of his campaign against the Catholic League, recommended the enterprise to his people. Eighteen days later the champion of Protestantism fell in the hour of victory, and a noble monument erected by the German people marks the spot where he gave up his life that Germany might be free. The scheme was carried out by the regency which took charge of the kingdom, and Governor Minuit, recalled from New Netherland, sailed from Gottenburg in 1637 to plant a new colony on the west side of Delaware Bay. The colonists arrived at their destination in the spring of 1638, and Minuit procured from an Indian sachem a deed for a region which, the Swedes claimed, extended from Cape Henlopen to the Falls of the Delaware, where Trenton is now, and an indefinite distance inland. The Dutch protested and threatened, but Minuit built a fort on the site of Wilmington, and called it Fort Christina, in honor of the young queen of Sweden, daughter of Gustavus Adolphus. The colony prospered, and a number of Hollanders settled there with the Swedes. Minuit died in 1641, and the Swedish government proceeded to place the colony on a permanent footing, and called it "New Sweden." The colony was unable to hold its own against the Dutch, and surrendered in 1655 to an expedition led by Peter Stuyvesant.
While New Netherland remained under Dutch rule the people had no voice in the choice of those officers whose duties were more than local in character. The governor was an appointee of the West India Company, and responsible solely to it; though the latter was subject to a certain amount of control from the States-General. That the people desired the privilege of electing their general officers, is shown by a petition sent in 1649 to the States-General from the Nine Men. A request was made in this document for a suitable system of government, and it was accompanied by a sketch of the methods of written proxies used by the New England colonies in selecting their governors. On the other hand, a letter sent two years later by the magistrates of Gravesend to the directors at Amsterdam, stated that it would involve "ruin and destruction" to frequently change the government by allowing the people to elect the governor, partly on account of the numerous factions, and partly because there were no persons in the province capable of filling the office. Nor did the Dutch colonists possess any voice in the making of laws. There was no regular representative assembly, although we find that there were several emergencies when the advice of the people was asked by the governors.
Landing of the Pilgrims—Their Abiding Faith in God's Goodness—The Agreement Signed on the Mayflower—A Winter of Hardship—The Indians Help the Settlers—Improved Conditions—The Colony Buys Its Freedom—Priscilla and John Alden—Their Romantic Courtship and Marriage.
It is usual to celebrate the landing day of the Pilgrim Fathers on the bleak shore of New Plymouth, December 11 (22) 1620, as the beginning of New England. It was an event which richly deserves all the commemoration in song and story and banquet-hall which it has received or ever will receive, but the real and substantial foundation of New England was laid about ten years later, when a numerous and well-to-do body of Puritans, under a charter granted by the crown, formed the colony of Massachusetts Bay. The Pilgrim Fathers were merely a handful in number, and as poor as they were loyal and conscientious. Exiles to Holland, they declined an offer from the Dutch West India Company to accept lands in New Netherland. They wished to remain English, and with the aid of some London merchants whose Puritan sympathies were mingled with a desire for gain, the little community procured the means to sail for "the northern parts of Virginia." The Pilgrims were just as true to King James as the settlers of Jamestown, but they did not intend to join that colony, whose members were attached to the Established Church, so far as they had any religion, and where dissenters would have been ill at ease. At the same time the immigrants in the Mayflower did not intend to land so far north as they did. The wearisome voyage, however, made them anxious to get on shore, the land could not be more inhospitable than the winter sea, and they had an abiding faith in God's goodness and providence which enabled them to face with resolution the hardships and dangers of the northern wilderness. The act which the men of the party signed on the Mayflower, previous to landing, showed that they were determined to have an orderly government. It was the first American constitution, and as such deserves to be remembered: "In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are hereunder written, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc., having undertaken for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian Faith, and honor of our King and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do, by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and of one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitution and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November (O. S.) in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini 1620."
The day of landing was, as already stated, December 11, or according to the new style, December 22. The spot which the Pilgrims selected for settlement was well-watered and promising, and they gave to it the name of the haven where they had taken a final leave of their native land. The winter was fortunately mild, but they had to endure cruel hardships. Their stores were scanty; they had no fishing tackle, and game was not abundant. Fortunately spring came early; but forty-four of the little company succumbed to want and cold, and those who retained their health were hardly equal to the task of nursing the sick and burying the dead. Had the savages been numerous and hostile they could have swept the little settlement out of existence with but small effort; but the country had been wasted not long before by a deadly pestilence and the native tribes were too weak and too much in fear of more powerful enemies of their own race, to make an attack on the strangers. Instead of injuring the newcomers the Indians helped them, brought them game and fish, and taught them how to cultivate corn. In 1623 the colony had, with new arrivals, about one hundred and fifty inhabitants. The first division of land was made this year, and a large crop of corn was harvested. Twelve years after the foundation the people of Plymouth hardly numbered five hundred, and they were soon overshadowed by the large Puritan immigration to Salem and Boston. The poor and struggling settlers of Plymouth did not even have the satisfaction of knowing that the fruits of their toils and sufferings would be their own. They were still bound to the London merchants who had supplied them with the means for emigration, and these partners in the enterprise were impatient of the lack of returns. As the Pilgrims gradually grew better off they were the more anxious to remove the yoke which interfered with their independence, and some members of the community who were richer than the others agreed, in exchange for a monopoly of the Indian trade and the surrender of the accumulated wealth of the colony, to pay its debt to the English shareholders. The colony thus achieved its freedom, and its members were able to proceed in building their settlement according to their own ideas of religion and civil government without restraint from partners who had sought only for worldly profit.
One of the most interesting incidents connected with the early history of the Plymouth Colony was the romantic marriage of Priscilla and John Alden, immortalized in the verse of Longfellow. Captain Miles Standish was a redoubtable soldier, small in person, but of great activity and courage. He came over in the Mayflower, and his wife Rose Standish fell a victim to the privations which attended the first year in America. Another passenger on the Mayflower was Priscilla Mullins, daughter of William Mullins, a maiden of unusual beauty, just blooming into womanhood. The gallant widower fell in love with Priscilla, but for some reason which does not clearly appear, but probably bashfulness, he sent another to do his courting. Standish himself was about thirty-seven years of age, and doubtless showed the effect of his hard service in the wars. Nevertheless, he might have won Priscilla had he gone for her in person, for, as the military leader of the colony, beset as it was by savages who might at any time become hostile, he was a man of importance and desirable for a son-in-law. He made the mistake of choosing as Cupid's messenger a handsome young man named John Alden, a cooper from Southampton, with whom Priscilla was already well acquainted, and with whom she had quite possibly whiled away many hours of the wearisome three months' voyage from old Plymouth. Alden and Priscilla may have been in love with each other already, when Captain Standish sent the youth on his embarrassing mission. Even the rigid rules of Puritanism could not prevent young men and women from falling in love, while their elders were engaged in more sedate occupations. It is to be said for Standish, also, that he evidently did not intend that the young man should state the case to Priscilla, but only to her father. The parent promptly gave his consent, but added that "Priscilla must be consulted." The maiden was called into the room, and a brighter light dawned in her eyes, and a ruddier flush suffused her cheeks, as her gaze met that of the handsome young cooper. John Alden, too, could not remain unaffected, as he repeated his message to the fair young woman, into whose ears he had probably poured sweet nothings many a time while they dreamed, perhaps, of the day when more serious words would be spoken. Priscilla asked why Captain Standish had not come himself. Alden replied that the Captain was too busy. This naturally made the maiden indignant, for she was justified in assuming that no business could be more important than that of asking for her hand. It is also possible that she was glad of an excuse for rejecting the proffered honor. She declared that she would never marry a man who was too busy to court her, adding, in the words of Longfellow:
"Had he waited awhile, had only showed that he loved me,
Even this captain of yours—who knows?—at last might have won me,
Old and rough as he is, but now it never can happen."
John Alden pressed the suit in behalf of his soldier friend, secretly hoping, it is to be feared, that Priscilla would not take him too much in earnest, when, continues Longfellow:
"Archly the maiden smiled, and with eyes over-running with laughter.
Said, in a tremulous voice: 'Why don't you speak for yourself, John?'"
John did not speak for himself—at least not directly, on that occasion, but he did later on, and shortly afterward the marriage of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins was celebrated with all the display that the Plymouth settlers could afford. Captain Standish did not blame Alden, but he did not remain long near the scene of his disappointment, moving, in 1626, to Duxbury, Massachusetts. He lived to a hale old age, respected both for his private virtues and his public services.
The Puritan Immigration—Wealth and Learning Seek These Shores—Charter Restrictions Dead Letters—A Stubborn Struggle for Self-government— Methods of Election—The Early Government an Oligarchy—The Charter of 1691—New Hampshire and Maine—The New Haven Theocracy—Hartford's Constitution—The United Colonies—The Clergy and Politics—Every Election Sermon a Declaration of Independence.
John Endicott's settlement at Salem, and the large immigration which followed the granting of a royal patent to the Massachusetts Bay Company, together with the transfer of the charter and corporate powers of the company from England to Massachusetts, led to the growth of a powerful Puritan commonwealth which overshadowed and ultimately absorbed the feeble settlement at Plymouth. The natal day of New England was that on which John Winthrop landed at Salem, with nine hundred immigrants in the summer of 1630, bringing not merely virtue, muscle and brawn, such as carried the Pilgrims through their appalling experience, but wealth and substance, learning and art, men to command as well as men to obey. From that time, except during the season of depression which followed King Philip's war, New England went steadily forward in population, prosperity and political power. Her rulers were well able to meet and defeat their would-be oppressors in the field of diplomacy, and now defying, now ignoring and again pretending to yield to royal dictation, Massachusetts never gave up the principles which animated her founders, or the purpose which prompted them to abandon homes of comfort and even of luxury, and establish new institutions in a new world. The Massachusetts settlers were forbidden by the terms of their charter to enact any laws repugnant to the laws of England. This restriction was a dead letter from the very beginning. Indeed, literally construed, it would have defeated the very object of Puritan emigration—to escape from the rule of a hierarchy established under English laws. As Massachusetts was for many years the leading colony of the north of English origin, and probably made more of an impress than any other colony and State upon our national character, it may be of interest to quote here a sketch of its political institutions and their changes in the colonial period.
The charter of the Massachusetts Bay Company authorized the election of a governor, deputy governor and eighteen assistants on the last Wednesday of Easter. Endicott, the first governor, was chosen by the company in London in April, 1629, but in October of the following year it was resolved that the governor and deputy governor should be chosen by the assistants out of their own number. After 1632, however, the governor was chosen by the whole body of the freemen from among the assistants at a general court or assembly held in May of each year. The deputy governor was elected at the same time. The charter, as already mentioned, provided also for the annual election of assistants or magistrates, whose number was fixed at eighteen. Besides the officers mentioned in the charter, an order of 1647 declared that a treasurer, major-general, admiral at sea, commissioners for the United Colonies, secretary of the General Court and "such others as are, or hereafter may be, of like general nature," should be chosen annually "by the freemen of this jurisdiction." The voting took place in Boston in May at a court of election held annually, and freemen could vote at first only in person, but eventually by proxy also, if they desired to do so. In both Massachusetts and New Plymouth all freemen had originally a personal voice in the transaction of public business at the general courts or assemblies which were held at stated intervals. One of these was known as the Court of Election, and at this were chosen the officers of the colony for the ensuing year. As the number of settlements increased, it became inconvenient for freemen to attend the general courts in person and they were allowed to be represented by deputies. As it was impossible for all freemen when the colony became more populated, to attend the courts of election, the deputies were at length permitted to carry the votes of their townsmen to Boston.
The governor, as well as the other officers in Massachusetts, were first chosen by show of hands, but about 1634 it was provided that the names should be written on papers, the papers to be open or only once folded, so that they might be the sooner perused. Afterward the voting was by corn and beans, a grain of Indian corn signifying election, and a black bean the contrary. The offence of ballot-box stuffing seems to have existed, or at least was provided against even among the early Puritans, for it was enacted that any freeman putting more than one grain should be fined ten pounds—a large sum of money in those days.
The Massachusetts colonial government has been called a theocracy. As a matter of fact it was an oligarchy, the political power residing in but a small proportion of even the church-going freemen. This is shown in the remonstrance addressed to the colony by the royal commission appointed under King Charles II. to investigate the governments of the New England colonies. Said the Commissioners to Massachusetts:
"You haue so tentered the king's qualliffications as in making him only who paieth ten shillings to a single rate to be of competent estate, that when the king shall be enformed, as the trueth is, that not one church member in an hundred payes so much & yt in a toune of an hundred inhabitants, scarse three such men are to be found, wee feare that the king will rather finde himself deluded than satisfied by your late act."
During the rule of Dudley and Andros the whole legislative power of Massachusetts was lodged in a council, appointed by the crown through its governor, and popular election in the New England colonies was limited to the choice of selectmen at a single meeting held annually in each town, on the third Monday in May.
The ultimate result of the revolution of 1688 in England was to unite Massachusetts and New Plymouth under the Charter of 1691. By virtue of this instrument, "the Great and General Court of Assembly" was to consist of "the Governor and Council or Assistants for the time being, and such Freeholders of our said Province or Territory as shall be from time to time elected or deputed by the Major parte of the Freeholders and other Inhabitants of the respective Townes and Places." The governor, deputy governor and secretary and the first assistants were appointed. After the first year, the assistants were to be annually elected by the General Assembly. Under this charter, with the exception of the deputies, the only elective officers whose functions were at all general in their nature were the county treasurers, and they were chosen upon the basis of the town rather than upon the basis of the provincial suffrage.
New Hampshire owed its original settlement to John Mason, a London merchant, who was associated with Sir Ferdinand Gorges in obtaining a grant of land in 1622, from the Merrimac to the Kennebec and inland to the St. Lawrence. Gorges and Mason agreed to divide their domain at the Piscataqua. Mason, obtaining a patent for his portion of the territory, called it New Hampshire, in commemoration of the fact that he had been governor of Portsmouth in Hampshire, England. The Rev. Mr. Wheelwright, brother of Anne Hutchinson, founded Exeter. The New Hampshire settlements were annexed by Massachusetts in 1641, and remained dependent on that colony until 1680, when New Hampshire became a royal province, ruled by a governor and council and house of representatives elected by the people. The settlers of New Hampshire were mostly Puritans, and thoroughly in sympathy with the political-religious system of Massachusetts. Massachusetts obtained jurisdiction over Maine through purchase from Gorges, and that territory remained attached to Massachusetts until 1820. Vermont had no separate existence until the Revolution.
The colonies of Connecticut and New Haven were in full sympathy with the religious and political system of Massachusetts. The first meeting of all the "free planters" of New Haven was held on the fourth day of June, 1639, for the purpose "of settling civil government according to God, and about the nomination of persons that might be found by consent of all, fittest in all respects for the foundation work of a church." The meeting was opened with prayer. There was some debate as to whether the planters should give to free burgesses the power of making ordinances, but it was ultimately decided to do so. The minutes of the meeting show that this decision was arrived at on the authority of several passages from the Bible—such as "Take you wise men and understanding, and know among your tribes and I will make them rulers over you," and "Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee whom the Lord thy God shall choose; one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee; thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother." The model followed in the governmental organization was the liveries of the city of London which chose the magistrates and were themselves elected by the companies. Accordingly, the planters of New Haven elected a committee of eleven men, and gave them power to choose the seven founders of the theocracy they had decided to establish. The seven founders met as a court of election in October of the same year and admitted upon oath several members of "approved churches." After reading a number of passages from the Bible bearing on the subject of an ideal ruler, they proceeded to the election of a chief magistrate and four deputy magistrates. The franchise in all cases was confined to church members. In the Hartford colony, which was Connecticut proper, the earliest mention of elections is found in the Fundamental Orders of 1638, which have become famous as the first written constitution framed on the American continent. It was enacted that a governor and six magistrates should be chosen annually by the freemen of the jurisdiction. A deputy governor was also chosen. The Charter of Charles II., which placed the New Haven and the Hartford colonies under one government, provided for the same general officers, together with twelve assistants, a secretary and a treasurer being added in 1689.
In 1643, the four colonies of Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut and New Haven formed a confederation for defence against the Indians and also the Dutch, who had claimed that a portion of what is now the State of Connecticut was included within their jurisdiction. The confederation was called the United Colonies of New England, and its affairs were managed by a board of eight commissioners, two from each colony. The commissioners could summon troops in case of necessity and settle disputes between the colonies. This union proved most effective in the subsequent war with King Philip. It was the germ of American confederation.
The election sermon was a prominent feature of election day in the Puritan colonies. The clergyman to deliver the sermon was selected by the freemen, and it was considered a great honor to be chosen for the office. The preacher often dealt with public questions, and especially during the troublous times which preceded the Revolution. Instead of pastors being blamed for interference in politics the General Court sometimes sent a general request to all ministers of the gospel resident in the colony asking them to preach on election day before the freemen of each plantation a sermon "proper for direction in the choice of civil rulers." The pulpit in that age held the place now occupied by the newspaper editorial page, so far as vital questions affecting the body politic were concerned. The clergy were, as a class, learned and eloquent, and the freemen looked to them for guidance in political as well as religious problems, and it cannot be denied that the ministers never shrank from the responsibility put upon them. They stood up for the colonies against king and parliament, against royal menace and muskets, and for years before the Continental Congress pronounced for freedom every election sermon was a declaration of independence.
Where Conscience Was Free—Roger Williams and His Providence Colony— Driven by Persecution from Massachusetts—Savages Receive Him Kindly —Coddington's Settlement in Rhode Island—Oliver Cromwell and Charles II. Grant Charters—Peculiar Referendum in Early Rhode Island.
"Take heart with us, O man of old,
Soul-freedom's brave confessor,
So love of God and man wax strong,
Let sect and creed be lesser.
"The jarring discords of thy day
In ours one hymn are swelling;
The wandering feet, the severed paths
All seek our Father's dwelling.
"And slowly learns the world the truth
That makes us all thy debtor.—
That holy life is more than rite,
And spirit more than letter.
"That they who differ pole-wide serve
Perchance one common Master,
And other sheep he hath than they
That graze one common pasture."
One New England community stood apart from all the rest. Roger Williams, a learned and able minister, supposed to have been born in Wales, came to Boston in 1630, accompanied by his wife, Mary, an Englishwoman. Williams denied the right of the magistrates to interfere with the consciences of men, and also held that the Indians should not be deprived of their lands without fair and equitable purchase. His stand in favor of soul-liberty was a novelty in that age when State and Church were regarded as inseparable, the only difference on this question between Massachusetts and England being as to the character of the public worship which the State should enforce upon consciences willing and unwilling. The doctrine of Roger Williams, therefore, seemed to the Boston authorities to strike at the very foundation of all government, and in particular of their government. In the autumn of 1635, when Roger Williams was pastor of the church at Salem, the General Court of Massachusetts ordered him to quit the colony within six months. Afterward suspecting that Williams was preparing to found a new colony, the Boston magistrates resolved to deport him to England, and a vessel was sent to Salem to take him away. Williams received timely warning, and fled from his home in mid-winter, and made his way through the wilderness to the shores of Narragansett Bay. He was joined by five companions, and at a fine spring near the head of Narragansett Bay they planted a colony, and Williams called the place "Providence," in grateful acknowledgment of God's providence to him in his distress. Williams and his companions founded a pure democracy, with no interference with the rights of conscience. Indeed, they carried this principle to an extreme at which even in these days most people would hesitate, for one member of the colony was disciplined because he objected to his wife's frequent attendance on the preaching of Mr. Williams to the neglect of her household duties. Rhode Island became a refuge for the victims of Puritan intolerance, without regard to their belief or unbelief, and was therefore held in hatred and contempt by the Boston people. This very hatred was the salvation of Rhode Island, the government of England being favorably inclined to the colony on account of the stubborn and independent attitude of Massachusetts toward the home authorities.
The name "Rhode Island" requires mention here of the fact that Rhode Island and Providence Plantations were originally separate settlements. In 1638 William Coddington, a native of Lincolnshire, England, and for some time a magistrate of Boston, was driven from Massachusetts along with others who had taken a prominent part on the side of Anne Hutchinson, in the controversy between that brilliant woman and the dominant element of the church. Coddington and his eighteen companions bought from the Indians the island of Aquitneck, or Rhode Island, and made settlements on the sites of Newport and Portsmouth. A third settlement was founded at Warwick, on the mainland, in 1643, by a party of whom John Greene and Samuel Gorton were leaders. Roger Williams went to England in the same year, and in 1644 he brought back a charter which united the settlements at Providence and on Rhode Island in one colony, called the Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The charter was confirmed by Oliver Cromwell in 1655, and a new charter was granted by Charles II. in 1663. Under the Parliament charter of 1664 Providence, in 1647, sent a "committee" to Portsmouth to join with committees from other towns in order to form a government. The fifth "act and order" established by this convention provided that each town should send a committee to every general court, and these, like the deputies in Massachusetts and Plymouth, could exercise the powers of the freemen in all matters excepting the election of officers. The committee from each town was to consist of six members.
A peculiar feature of early Rhode Island government was the jealousy with which the people retained in their own control the law-making power. Matters of general concern were proposed in some town meeting, and notice of the proposition had to be given to other towns. Towns which approved of the proposition were ordered to declare their opinion at the next general court through their committees. If the court decided in favor of the proposition a law was passed which had authority only until ratified by the next general assembly of all the people. The general court was also allowed to debate matters on its own motion, but its decisions must be reported to each town by the committee representing that town. A meeting of the town was held to debate on the questions so reported and then the votes of the inhabitants were collected by the town clerk and forwarded with all speed to the recorder of the colony. The latter was to open, in the presence of the governor, all votes so received, and if a majority voted affirmatively the resolution of the court was to stand as law until the next general assembly. This complex method was repealed in 1650, and instead, it was ordered that all laws enacted by the assembly should be communicated to the towns within six days after adjournment. Within three days after the laws were received the chief officer of each town was to call a meeting and read them to the freemen. If any freeman disliked a particular law he could, within ten days, send his vote in writing, with his name affixed, to the general recorder. If within ten days the recorder received a majority of votes against any law, he was to notify the president of that fact and the latter in turn was to give notice to each town that such law was null and void. Silence as to the remaining enactments was assumed to mean assent.
After 1658, the recorder was allowed ten days instead of six, as the period within which the laws must be sent to the towns. The towns had another ten days for consideration, and then if the majority of the free inhabitants of any one of them in a lawful assembly voted against a given enactment, they could send their votes sealed up in a package to the recorder. If a majority from every town voted against the law it was thereby nullified; but unless this was done within twenty days after the adjournment of the court the law would continue binding. In 1660, three months were allowed for the return of votes to the recorder. Instead of a majority of each town, a majority of all the free inhabitants of the colony was sufficient to nullify a law. The charter of King Charles II. restricted the privilege of voting to freeholders and the eldest sons of freeholders.
Puritans and Education—Provision for Public Schools—Puritan Sincerity —Effect of Intolerance on the Community—Quakers Harshly Persecuted—The Salem Witchcraft Tragedy—History of the Delusion—Rebecca Nourse and Other Victims—The People Come to Their Senses—Cotton Mather Obdurate to the Last—Puritan Morals—Comer's Diary—Rhode Island in Colonial Times.
It is to the credit of the Puritans that promptly upon their settlement in Massachusetts they made provision for education. Many of the Puritans were learned men, and some of them graduates of Cambridge in England, and when a school was established at Newtown for the education of the ministry, the name of the place was changed to Cambridge. When John Harvard endowed the school in 1638 with his library and the gift of one half his estate—about $4000, but equal to much more than that amount at the present day—the school was erected into a college and named Harvard College after the founder. The central aim and purpose of Puritan education was religious. The schools were maintained so that the children could learn to read the Bible, and also incidentally the printed fulminations of the ministers and magistrates. The Massachusetts school law of 1649 set forth in the preamble that, "it being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, as in former times keeping them in an unknown tongue, so in these later times persuading men from the use of tongues, so that at the least a true sense and meaning of the original might be clouded with false glossing of saint-seeming deceivers, and that learning may not be buried in the grave of our fathers," therefore, etc. Every township was required to maintain a school for reading and writing, and every town of a hundred householders a grammar-school, with a teacher qualified to fit youths for the university. This school law was enacted likewise in the other Puritan colonies. While its object was to strengthen the hold of religion, as expounded by the Puritan ministry, upon the people, its general effect was to spread intelligence along with learning, and to break down the barriers of intolerance. It is a significant fact, however, and in accordance with the lessons of more recent history, that the seat of the highest education was not always the seat of the highest intelligence. The witchcraft delusion found a haven in Harvard when the common sense of a common-school educated people rejected it by a decisive majority.
The Puritan was stern and cruel because he was thoroughly in earnest. He believed his religion to be true, and that the only path to salvation lay through rigid compliance with Puritan doctrine. Believing as he did he was logical; he was humane. The non-Puritan was, in his view, a pestilence to be got rid of by the most heroic measures if necessary. In acting on this principle he was kind, in his judgment, to the many whom he saved from pollution and damnation by the sacrifice of the few. The devil, to the Puritan, was terribly personal, and Cotton Mather's horror of witchcraft was grounded in a sincere belief in that personality. The forces of evil were always active, and the Puritan believed in combating them in the most vigorous and trenchant fashion. The Scripture enjoined upon him to pluck out his own eye if it offended, and it was natural that he should not hesitate to sacrifice others when they offended. With all his severity he took good care to let transgressors know what they had to expect, and he felt the less compunction, therefore, in inflicting penalties deliberately incurred. Life for the Puritan was a very serious affair, and levity a crime only milder than non-orthodoxy. Gaming even for amusement was rigidly prohibited. It was a criminal act to kiss a woman in the street, even in the way of chaste and honest salute. The heads of households were called to account if the daughters neglected the spinning-wheel. The stocks and the whipping-post were seldom unoccupied by minor offenders, while the hangman was kept busy with criminals of deeper dye. It should be needless to say that there was a good deal of hypocrisy, and that public repentance was often simply a means for escaping from social ostracism and obtaining admission to the pastures of the elect. Hubbard intimates as much in what he says about Captain John Underhill.
The laws enacted were based on the Mosaic code, and of Mosaic severity in dealing with offences against morality and religion. It is to be remembered, however, that down to the second quarter of the present century the code of England itself was Draconic, although immoralities punished by death in Massachusetts were not regarded as crimes in the older country.
The most painful event connected with the harsh religious system of the Puritans was the execution in 1659 of two Quakers, Marmaduke Stephenson and William Robinson, of England, who had come to Massachusetts to preach their doctrines. The first two Quakers to arrive in Boston were Ann Austin and Mary Fisher, who landed here in 1656. They were forthwith arrested, and examined for witch-marks, but none being found and there being no excuse therefore for putting them to death as agents of Satan, they were kept in close imprisonment, and the jailer and citizens were forbidden to give them any food, the object apparently being to starve them to death. The windows of the jail were boarded up to prevent food from being handed into them and also to prevent the prisoners from exhorting passers-by. A citizen named Upshall, who gave money to the jailer to buy nourishment for the captives, was fined $100, and ordered to leave the colony within thirty days, and was sentenced to pay beside $15 for every day he should be absent from public worship before his departure—evidently that he might be compelled to listen to pulpit denunciations of his wickedness in saving from starvation two fellow-human beings who worshipped God in a different fashion from their persecutors. The exile was denied an asylum in Plymouth, and followed the example of Roger Williams by seeking a refuge among the Indians, who treated him kindly. The two Quaker women were transported to Barbadoes, and the captain of the vessel which had brought them to Boston was required to bear the charges of their imprisonment. The religious books which they had in their possession when arrested were burned by the common hangman.
The Quakers continued to come in considerable numbers to America, being welcomed in some of the colonies, and persecuted in others, but nowhere so severely as in Massachusetts. When Stephenson and Robinson were hanged at Boston, Mary Dyer, widow of William Dyer, late recorder of Providence plantations, was taken to the scaffold with them, but reprieved on condition that she should leave the colony in forty-eight hours. In the following year Mary Dyer returned to Boston, and was at once arrested and hanged. These proceedings excited general horror in the mother country, and Charles II. sent a letter stating it to be his pleasure that the Quakers should be sent to England for trial. The General Court of Massachusetts thereupon suspended the laws against Quakers, and those in prison were released and sent out of the jurisdiction of Massachusetts.
Next to the persecution of the Quakers no feature of Puritan history is so prominent as the Salem Witchcraft Tragedy, which, although it occurred near the close of the seventeenth century, so strikingly illustrates the intellectual and religious conditions of the Massachusetts colony that it may properly be described here. Belief in witchcraft was not by any means confined to Massachusetts. The statutes of England, as well as of the American colonies, dealt with the imaginary crime. Among the intelligent and educated classes, however, both in Europe and America, the subject was generally considered of too doubtful a nature to be dealt with by the infliction of the penalties which the law prescribed. In Massachusetts, where everybody had some education, the majority of the people, although deeply and almost fanatically religious, had their doubts about the reality of the diabolical art, and the belief, strangely enough, seems to have been most intense and aggressive in the highest intellectual quarters, among ministers and men of superior education and commensurate influence. It was this that gave the witchcraft delusion its awful power for evil, and enabled a few vicious children afflicted with hysteria or epilepsy to bring a score of mostly reputable persons to an ignominious death, to ruin more than that number of homes and to spread consternation throughout the commonwealth.
The Salem delusion began in the house of Mr. Parris, the minister at Danvers. Parris had two slaves, an Indian and his wife, Tituba, the latter half negro and half Indian. Tituba taught the children various tricks. While practicing these tricks, some of them became hysterical and acted in a peculiar manner. It was suggested that they were bewitched, and they were asked who had bewitched them. They indicated a woman named Sarah Goode, who was generally disliked. She was arrested and imprisoned. This seems to have gratified the children, who soon after had convulsions in the presence of another victim, one Giles Corey. Corey stood mute under the accusation, and was tortured to death by pressing. The cases attracted attention, and at the instance of Cotton Mather and others, Governor Phipps designated a special court to try persons accused of witchcraft. Malice, greed and craft promptly supplied more victims for the court and the hangman. Doctors discovered what they called witch-marks, such as moles or callosities of any kind, and after the children or others alleged to have been bewitched had performed the usual contortions, the accused were swiftly convicted. Francis Nourse and his wife, Rebecca, had a controversy about the occupation of a farm with a family named Endicott. The Endicott children went into hysterics and charged that Rebecca Nourse had bewitched them. Although as good and pure a woman as there was in the colour, Rebecca was convicted, hanged on Witches' Hill, and her body cast into a pit designed for those who should meet her fate. Mr. Parris, the minister, thought it necessary to preach a sermon fortifying the belief in witchcraft, and when Sarah Cloyse, a sister of Rebecca, got up and went out of the meeting-house, regarding the sermon as an insult to the memory of her murdered sister, she was also denounced and arrested. The Rev. Dr. Cotton Mather, one of the lights of Puritanism, and son of Dr. Increase Mather, president of Harvard University, was most active and violent in the prosecutions. Among the victims was the Rev. Stephen Burroughs, a learned minister of exemplary life, who was accused of possessing a witch's trumpet. Mather witnessed the hanging of Burroughs, and when the latter on the scaffold offered up a touching prayer, Mather cried out to the people that Satan often transformed himself into an angel of light to deceive men's souls. The Rev. Mr. Noyes, standing by at the execution of eight accused persons, exclaimed: "What a sad thing it is to see eight fire-brands of hell hanging there!" A committee was appointed to ferret out witches, and children were readily found to court the notoriety and interest which a share in the work attracted. When the accusers began to utter charges against the wife of Governor Phipps and relatives of the Mathers, the authorities took a different view of the monster which they had evolved out of their superstitious imaginings. Public opinion, which had been fettered by fear and amazement at the hideous proceedings, began to find expression in protest against any further sacrifice. Many of the accusers recanted their testimony, and said that they had given it in order to save their own lives, dreading to be accused of witchcraft themselves. The General Court of Massachusetts appointed a general fast and supplication "that God would pardon all the errors of His servants and people in a late tragedy raised among them by Satan and his instruments." Judge Sewall, who had presided at a number of the trials, stood up in his place in the church and begged the people to pray that the errors which he had committed "might not be visited by the judgment of an avenging God on his country, his family and himself." The Rev. Mr. Parris was compelled to leave the country. Cotton Mather, however, adhered steadfastly to his belief in witches. He said, among other things equally astounding to the common sense even of that day, that the devil allowed the victims of witchcraft to "read Quaker books, the Common Prayer and popish books," but not the Bible. At the instance of Cotton Mather, and that of his father, Increase Mather, the president of Harvard, a circular was sent out signed by Increase Mather and a number of other ministers in the name of Harvard College, inviting reports of "apparitions, possessions, enchantments and all extraordinary things wherein the existence and agency of the invisible world is more sensibly demonstrated," to be used "as some fit assembly of ministers might direct." But few replies to the circular were received. The people of Massachusetts had muzzled the monster, and did not care to turn it loose again. A monument was recently erected to Rebecca Nourse on the hill where she perished, and her descendants have an organization which holds annual meetings in commemoration of their hapless ancestor.
Notwithstanding harsh laws and their bitter enforcement, the habits of the people were probably not much better than to-day in well-ordered communities, and considerable depravity existed, especially in the remoter settlements. Comer's Diary, which has never been published, but which the writer of this work has examined in manuscript, shows a condition of society far from exemplary, and it also shows that persons whose position ought to have been respectable, sometimes took Indians either as wives or in a less honorable relation. There is, perhaps, more Indian blood in New England than is generally supposed, and the earlier inhabitants of that section were probably less exclusive toward the aborigines than is assumed in conventional history. Comer's Diary deals, it is true, with the early part of the eighteenth century, but the conditions it minutely and no doubt faithfully describes, must have existed substantially in the seventeenth.
The laws of Rhode Island were founded on the Mosaic system, like those of Massachusetts, but entirely ignored the question of religion. The penalties for immoral conduct were not so merciless as in the Puritan colonies, and the Rhode Island colonial records indicate that the laws, such as they were, were not rigidly enforced. The remnants of the Indian tribes, having first been demoralized by unprincipled whites, became themselves a demoralizing element, and Indian dances were, the records show, a continual source of scandal and of vice, which the authorities sought vainly to suppress. In connection with the principle of entire separation of Church and State, on which Rhode Island was founded, it may be of interest to mention here that I learned, in my examination of Comer's Diary, that an attempt was made to establish a branch of the Anglican Church in Providence, in the colonial period, and that a minister was sent over under authority of the bishop of London. The minister had to depart, and the church was closed on account of some scandal. I wrote to the present bishop of London inquiring if there was any record of the incident in the Episcopal archives, and he answered me to the effect that nothing could be found relating to it.
New England Prospering—Outbreak of King Philip's War—Causes of the War—White or Indian Had to Go—Philip on the War-path—Settlements Laid in Ashes—The Attack on Hadley—The Great Swamp Fight—Philip Renews the War More Fiercely Than Before—His Allies Desert Him—Betrayed and Killed—The Indians Crushed in New England.
The civil war between Charles I. and the Parliament put an end to Puritan immigration to New England, and some of the settlers went back to England, and gave efficient aid to their fellow Puritans in fighting against the king. The people of New England were, on the whole, prosperous about the middle of the seventeenth century. Nearly every head of a family owned his house and the land which he occupied, and in the coast towns many were engaged in profitable trade and the fisheries. Fishing vessels from abroad were customers for the agricultural products of the colony, and gradually the colonists built their own vessels and absorbed the fisheries themselves. The figure of a codfish in the Massachusetts State House was, until recently, a reminder of the beginning of Massachusett's wealth and prosperity.
King Philip's War was a terrible blow to the colonies, and came near to proving their destruction. The immediate provocation of the conflict was slight enough, but the conflict itself was inevitable. There was no longer room in New England for independent Indian tribes side by side with English colonies. One race or the other had to give way and war meant extermination for one or the other. King Philip, Sachem of the Wampanoags, saw that the further progress of the colonies would involve the extinction of his race. He was a brave man, and possessed of uncommon ability. He did not move hastily, although his tribesmen clamored for bloodshed to avenge three of their fellows whom the English had hanged on a doubtful charge of murder, based on the killing of an Indian traitor. When Philip was prepared to strike he sent his women and children to the Narragansetts for protection, and then started on the warpath against the settlers of Plymouth colony. Major Savage, with horse and foot from Boston, joined the Plymouth forces, and they drove Philip back into a swamp at Pocasset. After a siege of many days Philip made his way from the swamp, was welcomed by the Nipmucks, a tribe in interior Massachusetts, and with fifteen hundred warriors he hurried to attack the white settlements in Connecticut. The colonial army meanwhile hastened to the Narragansett country, and compelled Canonchet, chief of the Narragansetts, upon whom King Philip had relied for aid, to make a treaty of friendship. Philip was disappointed by the loss of this expected ally, but disappointment made him only the more resolute and desperate. Everywhere he excited the New England tribes against the English, and carefully avoiding any general encounter, he waylaid the settlers, destroyed their homes and laid ambuscades for them in field and highway, now and then attacking some important town. The colonists suffered fearfully; numbers were slain; whole settlements were devastated, and the gun had to be kept at hand in church, at home and at daily toil. No one knew when the dusky foe would suddenly spring from the forest; no woman left her doorstep without fear that she might never enter it again, and the settler, whom duty summoned from home, looked anxiously on his return to see if his dwelling was there. Even the churches, with congregations armed as they listened to the Word of God, were assailed and the worshipers sometimes massacred. Deerfield was laid in ashes, and Hadley was saved undoubtedly by the sudden appearance of a venerable man, William Goffe, the regicide, who had been a major-general under Cromwell, was one of the judges who signed the death warrant of Charles I., and had fled to New England from the vengeance of Charles II. He was concealed in Hadley when the Indians attacked the place, and unexpectedly appeared among the inhabitants, most of whom took him for a supernatural being, and animated them to repulse the savages. He then as suddenly disappeared, going back to his place of refuge. Philip, encouraged by his successes, made a bold attack upon Springfield, but was repulsed with serious loss. He then retreated to the Narragansett country, and was hospitably received by Canonchet.
Although Canonchet's sympathies were with Philip, it is not certain that the Narragansett chief had hostile designs against the English. The colonists had determined, however, to make a sweep of possible as well as actual enemies, and they marched upon the Narragansetts. Then occurred the Great Swamp fight, one of the most sanguinary of encounters in the history of Indian warfare. The Narragansetts had their winter camp, or fort, in the heart of a swamp, in what is now Charlestown, Rhode Island. Successive rows of palisades protected a position of considerable extent, accessible during the greater part of the year by a single narrow path. This one access was guarded by a blockhouse, but the cold weather gave a footing to the invaders on the usually impassable morasses. An attempt was made to take the Narragansetts by surprise. The warriors, however, detected the stealthy approach, and seizing their weapons, fired from the security of their palisades upon the advancing enemy. A number of the best men on the colonial side were shot down while urging on the attack. The battle on both sides was fierce and stubborn. Assault followed assault, only to be repulsed, and when the English had fought their way into the fortress, they were at first driven out by an irresistible onset of the Indians. At length the colonists made good their entrance, and the battle continued at closer quarters, the Indians nerved to desperation by the presence of their wives and children, whose fate would be their own, and the colonists inspired to prodigies of valor by the thought that their defeat would certainly involve their own destruction, and perhaps that of New England. The invaders at length set fire to the wigwams. As the flames spread the women and children ran out, hampering their defenders with cries of terror and appeals for protection, and at length the Indians were overpowered. Then followed a pitiless massacre of the defeated Indians and their families, hundreds of whom perished in the flames, while many were taken prisoners to be carried off into slavery. Canonchet was slain, and the power of the Narragansetts was broken forever.
King Philip escaped from the slaughter, found other Indian allies, and renewed the war more fiercely than before. Many towns were laid in ashes, including Providence and Warwick, in Rhode Island; Weymouth, Groton, Medfield, Lancaster and Marlborough, in Massachusetts. About six hundred of the colonists were killed in battle or waylaid and murdered, and the burden of the struggle bore heavily on the survivors. Fortunately dissensions among the savages diminished their power for harm, and Philip's allies deserted him, or surrendered to avoid starvation. Captain Church of Rhode Island went in pursuit of Philip who had taken refuge in the fastnesses of Mount Hope. The wife and little son of the Indian chief were made prisoners, and this was a final blow to him. "My heart breaks," he said; "I am ready to die." An Indian, who claimed to have a grievance against Philip on account of a brother whom the sachem had killed, betrayed the hiding-place of Philip to the English, and shot the fallen chief. Philip's head was cut off and carried on a pole to Plymouth, and his body was quartered. His wife and son were sold into slavery in Bermuda. The Indians of New England were crushed, and they never again attempted to stand against the whites.
Growth of New Netherland—Governor Stuyvesant's Despotic Rule—His Comments on Popular Election—New Amsterdam Becomes New York—The Planting of Maryland—Partial Freedom of Conscience—Civil War in Maryland—The Carolinas—Settlement of North and South Carolina—The Bacon Rebellion in Virginia—Governor Berkeley's Vengeance.
New Amsterdam prospered under methods of government which were mild as compared with those of the Puritans, although the annals of the Dutch colony are unhappily not free from the stain of persecution for conscience' sake. Englishmen as well as Hollanders thronged to New Netherland, and the people, as they grew beyond anxiety for enough to eat and drink, became ambitious for a share in the government. In 1653, after much agitation and resistance on the part of Governor Stuyvesant, New Amsterdam was organized as a municipality, the power of the burghers being, however, very limited.
The smaller Dutch towns possessed the privilege of electing their officers, though their choice was subject to the approval of the director-general. New Amsterdam had not been granted this privilege, although it had been demanded in 1642 and again in 1649. At last, in 1652, Governor Stuyvesant was instructed to have a schout, two burgomasters and five schepens "elected according to the custom of the metropolis of Fatherland." He, however, continued for a long time to appoint municipal officers, and when a protest was made he replied that he had done so "for momentous reason." "For if," he said, "this rule was to become a synocure, if the nomination and election of magistrates were to be left to the populace who were the most interested, then each would vote for some one of his own stamp, the thief for a thief, the rogue, the tippler, the smuggler for a brother in iniquity, that he might enjoy greater latitude in his vices and frauds." The magistrates had not been appointed contrary to the will of the people, because they were "proposed to the commonalty in front of the City Hall by their names and surnames, each in his quality, before they were admitted or sworn to office. The question is then put, 'Does any one object?'" At length, in 1658, Stuyvesant allowed the burgomasters and schepens to nominate their successors, but the city did not have a schout of its own until 1660.
Other troubles besides the demands of the people for self-government, were gathering around the sturdy Dutch governor. The English were pressing him from the east, and in New Netherland itself they were aggressive and defiant in their attitude toward Dutch authority. Charles II. granted New Netherland to his brother, the Duke of York, and an English flotilla under Richard Nicholls appeared in front of New Amsterdam and demanded the surrender of the province. Stuyvesant refused to submit, but the people of New Amsterdam were more than willing to come under English rule, and their doughty governor was made to understand that he would be virtually alone in resisting the invaders. After a week of fuming and raging against the inevitable, Stuyvesant yielded, and the English took possession of New Amsterdam. The place was recaptured and held by the Dutch for a few months in 1673, but with the exception of this brief period the English remained thenceforth masters of the Atlantic coast of North America from the St. Lawrence in the north to the Spanish possessions in the south.
The planting of a Roman Catholic colony in Maryland was almost contemporary with the Puritan settlement of New England. The first steps toward the establishment of the colony had been taken under James I., but it was in the reign of Charles I. that Cecil Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore, obtained the charter which made him almost an independent sovereign over one of the fairest regions of North America. The charter granted civil and religious liberty to Christians who believed in the Trinity. The Ark and the Dove, two vessels fitted out by Lord Baltimore, bore about two hundred Roman Catholic immigrants to the banks of the Potomac, where they landed on March 25, 1634. The cross was planted as the emblem of the new colony, and Governor Leonard Calvert opened negotiations with the Indians for the purchase of their lands. The first assembly met in 1635, and another in 1638. Question having arisen as to whether the lord proprietor or the colonists had the right to propose laws, that right was at length conceded to the colonists. Of course the settlers would not have been allowed to persecute non-Catholics, even had they so desired; but they showed no such desire, and laws were enacted securing freedom of worship to all professing to believe in Jesus Christ; with the important limitation, however, of severe penalties for alleged blasphemy. This limitation clearly made it possible for magistrates to construe an honest expression of religious opinion as blasphemy, and to inflict the cruel punishments provided for that offence. It should be noticed that the Toleration Act of Maryland, passed in 1649, was the work of a General Assembly composed of sixteen Protestants and eight Roman Catholics, the governor (William Stone) himself being a Protestant. Some years later the Puritans, being in a majority in the Maryland General Assembly, passed an act disfranchising Roman Catholics and members of the Church of England. Civil war followed, resulting in a defeat for the Roman Catholics near Providence, now called Annapolis, April, 1655. Lord Baltimore, whose authority was overthrown in the course of the conflict, recovered his rights when the monarchy was restored in England. The government of the Baltimores continued, with some interruptions, until the Revolution, and it is but fair to state that the character which they stamped upon the colony was not effaced even by that event.
The Puritans nearly succeeded in adding North Carolina to their chain of colonies. The first settlers, after the ill-fated Raleigh expeditions of the previous century, were Presbyterian refugees from persecution at Jamestown, who, led by Roger Green, settled on the Chowan, near the site of Edenton. These were joined by other dissenters who had found the religious atmosphere of Virginia uncomfortable, and Puritans from New England landed at the Cape Fear River in 1661, and bought lands from the Indians. The soil and climate were admirably suited for successful colonization, and North Carolina might have proved a southern New England but for the hunger for vast American domains which just then possessed the courtiers of Charles II. In view of the notorious depravity of that merry monarch's surroundings it seems ludicrous to read that the grantees obtained Carolina under the pretence of a "pious zeal for the propagation of the gospel among the heathen." The list included the Earl of Clarendon, General George Monk, to whom Charles owed, in a large degree, his restoration to the throne; Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, afterward Earl of Shaftesbury; Sir John Colleton, Lord Craven, Sir George Carteret and Lord John Berkeley and his brother, then Governor of Virginia. It is related that, "when the petitioners presented their memorial, so full of pious pretensions, to King Charles in the garden of Hampton Court, the 'merrie monarch,' after looking each in the face a moment, burst into loud laughter, in which his audience joined heartily. Then taking up a little shaggy spaniel, with large, meek eyes, and holding it at arm's length before them, he said, 'Good friends, here is a model of piety and sincerity, which it might be wholesome for you to copy.' Then tossing it to Clarendon, he said, 'There, Hyde, is a worthy prelate; make him archbishop of the domain which I shall give you.' With grim satire Charles introduced into the preamble of the charter a statement that the petitioners, 'excited with a laudable and pious zeal for the propagation of the gospel, have begged a certain country in the parts of America not yet cultivated and planted, and only inhabited by some barbarous people who have no knowledge of God.'"
The Puritans, already settled in North Carolina, had no desire to take part in the propagation of the gospel in the fashion which prevailed among the courtiers of Charles II., and most of those who were from New England abandoned their North Carolina plantations. Governor Berkeley, of Virginia, extended his authority over the remainder, and made William Drummond, a Scotch Presbyterian, who had been settled in Virginia, administrator of the Chowan colony. Emigrants from Barbadoes bought land from the Indians near the site of Wilmington, and founded a prosperous settlement with Sir John Yeamans as governor. Other emigrants from England, led by Sir William Sayle and Joseph West, entered Port Royal Sound, and landed at Beaufort Island in 1671. They soon deserted Beaufort and planted themselves on the Ashley River, a few miles above the site of Charleston. In December, 1671, fifty families and a large number of slaves arrived from the Barbadoes. Carolina, about this time, had a narrow escape from being made the subject of a grotesque feudal constitution conceived by John Locke, the philosopher, and approved by the Earl of Shaftesbury. This constitution proposed to inflict on the infant colony a system of titled aristocracy as elaborate as that of Germany. The good sense of the colonists repelled the absurd scheme, and saved Carolina from being a laughing stock for the nations. In 1680, the settlers on Ashley River moved to Oyster Point, at the junction of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, and laid the foundation of Charleston.
Meantime Virginia was the scene of a memorable struggle between the aristocrats and the people, the royalists led by the Governor, Sir William Berkeley, and the republicans marshaled by Nathaniel Bacon, a wealthy lawyer, deeply attached to the popular cause. The character of Berkeley can best be judged by a communication which he sent to England in 1665: "I thank God there are no free schools nor printing in Virginia, and I hope we shall not have them these hundred years; for learning has brought heresy and disobedience and sects into the world, and printing hath divulged them and libels against the best government; God keep us from both!" It is not strange that a man who felt like this should have cared but little for the safety and welfare of the common people. He himself reveled in riches, accumulated at the cost of the colony, and he had in sympathy with him the large landholders, who sought to imitate in their Virginia mansions the pomp and circumstance of the English nobility, while they looked down on the mass of poor whites as vassals and inferiors. The immediate provocation for the so-called Bacon Rebellion was the failure of Governor Berkeley to protect the settlers from Indian depredations, the governor having a monopoly of the fur-trade, and being inclined by motives of self-interest to propitiate the savages. An armed force assembled and chose Bacon as their leader. They first repulsed the Indians, and then demanded from the governor a commission for Bacon as commander-in-chief of the Virginia military. Berkeley, although urged by the newly-elected House of Burgesses, which was in sympathy with the people, to grant the commission, for some time hesitated, but at length consented. Bacon marched against the Indians, and Berkeley proclaimed him a traitor. This hostile action of the governor excited Bacon and his followers, in whose numbers were included many of the best men in the colony, to an open and resolute stand for the rights of the people. Berkeley fled to the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay, and sought to raise an army to maintain his authority. He proclaimed that the slaves of all rebels were to free; he aroused the Indians to join him, and several English ships were placed at his service. With this following the governor went back to Jamestown, and again proclaimed Bacon a traitor.
The popular leader hastened to accept the challenge, and at the head of a considerable force of republicans, he appeared before Jamestown. Berkeley's mercenaries refused to fight, and stole away under cover of night, Berkeley being obliged to accompany them in order to avoid being made a prisoner. Jamestown was burned by the republicans, all the colony, except the eastern shore acknowledged Bacon's authority, and the success of the insurrection seemed assured when the popular leader fell a victim to malignant fever. Without his genius and energy to guide the cause of liberty, it rapidly declined, and Berkeley returned and soon succeeded in re-establishing his authority. He made Williamsburg the capital of the colony, instead of Jamestown, which never rose from its ruins—a fact hardly to be regretted, as the site was decidedly unhealthy. Berkeley had no mercy on the now submissive insurgents. Bacon's chief lieutenant had been the brave Scotch Presbyterian, William Drummond, the first governor of North Carolina. When Drummond was brought before him the governor said: "You are very welcome; I am more glad to see you than any man in Virginia; you shall be hanged in half an hour." Drummond calmly answered: "I expect no mercy from you. I have followed the lead of my conscience, and done what I could to rescue my country from oppression." Drummond was executed about three hours later, and his devoted wife, Sarah, who had taken an active part in urging the people to defend their rights, and who had in her the spirit of the mothers of the Revolution, was banished with her children to the wilderness. A wife who offered herself as a victim in place of her husband, claiming that she had urged him to rebellion, was repulsed with coarse and brutal insult, and the husband was led to the gallows. Twenty-two in all were executed before Berkeley's vengeance was satiated. Charles II. heard with indignation of the sacrifice of life, exclaiming: "The old fool has taken more lives in that naked country than I have taken for the murder of my father." Berkeley was recalled to England in 1677. But for the presence of the fleet and troops of Sir John Berry, sent over by the king to maintain the royal authority, Berkeley might have been subjected to violence by the colonists who fired guns and lighted bonfires to show their joy over his departure. Upon Berkeley's arrival in England he found himself equally an object there of public hatred and contempt on account of his cruelties, and he died in July of the same year of grief and mortification.
The Colony of New York—New Jersey Given Away to Favorites—Charter of Liberties and Franchises—The Dongan Charter—Beginnings of New York City Government—King James Driven from Power—Leisler Leads a Popular Movement—The Aristocratic Element Gains the Upper Hand—Jacob Leisler and Milborne Executed—Struggle For Liberty Continues.
The colony of New York, so called after James, the Duke of York and brother of King Charles II., came into English hands at a fortunate time, and after a fortunate experience. Owing to Dutch, occupation during half a century of intense agitation, civil war and revolution, New Netherland had escaped being drawn into the maelstrom of English hates and rivalries. Indeed the Dutch settlements, and New Amsterdam in particular, had derived advantage from the troubles of the English colonies, and among the immigrants who sought an asylum from Puritan intolerance within New Netherland jurisdiction were many who proved valuable additions to the population of the province, and who helped to build up its trade and commerce, and to develop agriculture. The Duke of York, therefore, entered upon possession of a colony with the accumulated prosperity of about fifty years as the substantial foundation for future progress, and with a population which, while composed of diverse nationalities, retained the better features of them all. The settlers of New York, both Dutch and English, were, as a rule, attentive to religious duties; but they did not regard religion as the single aim of existence. They were merchants and traders and farmers, liberal for their age in their views of religious freedom, and devoting their best energies to building up their worldly fortunes. New Amsterdam was in no sense Puritan—it was a respectable, thriving, trading and bartering community, with flourishing farms in the outskirts, and a commerce stunted by jealous restrictions, but which gave promise of future development.
The Duke of York at first made poor use of his new possessions. He astonished Colonel Richard Nicolls, who had conquered the territory for him without firing a shot, by giving away to two favorites, Lord Berkeley, brother of the Governor of Virginia, and Sir George Carteret, the rich domain between the Hudson and Delaware, which received the name of New Jersey, and for many years that province was a theatre of dissensions traceable to the autocratic and reckless course of the Duke. The rights of settlers who had preceded the proprietary government were ignored, and an attempt made to reduce freeholders to the position of tenants. A large immigration of Quakers from England a few years after the Dutch surrender added a valuable element to the population, in which the Puritans, apart from the Dutch, had predominated. Puritans and Quakers seemed to get along very well in the Jerseys, and with good government on the part of the proprietors the colony would doubtless have flourished. That for a number of years the Jerseys remained law-abiding and comparatively tranquil without a regular civil government attests the excellent character of the people.
The Duke of York showed more wisdom in the management of his greater province of New York. In 1683 he instructed his governor, Thomas Dongan, to call a representative assembly, which met in the fort at New York. The assembly adopted an act called "The Charter of Liberties and Franchises," which was approved, first by the governor, and afterward by the duke. This charter declared that the power to pass laws should reside in the governor, council and people met in general assembly; that every freeholder and freeman should be allowed to vote for representatives without restraint; that no freeman should suffer but by judgment of his peers; that all trials should be by a jury of twelve men; that no tax should be levied without the consent of the Assembly; that no seaman or soldier should be quartered on the inhabitants against their will; that there should be no martial law, and that no person professing faith in God by Jesus Christ should be disquieted or questioned on account of religion. Two years later James, now become king, virtually abrogated this charter by levying direct taxes on New York without the consent of the people, by prohibiting the introduction of printing, and otherwise assuming arbitrary power. He did not, however, suppress the General Assembly, which became, as years advanced and the colony grew in importance, more and more resolute in asserting the people's rights.
Governor Dongan did all in his power to defend the interests of the province against the aggressions of the crown, and to secure some degree of self-government for those who bore the burdens of government. In 1686 the Dongan charter gave to the lieutenant-governor the power of appointing the mayor and sheriff of New York city, but an alderman, an assistant and a constable were to be chosen for each ward by a majority of the inhabitants of that ward. During his short lease of power Leisler issued warrants for the election of the mayor and sheriff by "all Protestant freeholders." The resulting election was a farce, as only seventy of the inhabitants voted. The illegality of this action in defiance of the provisions of the Dongan charter was one of the chief causes of complaint against Leisler. The Montgomery charter, granted to New York in 1730, authorized the election of one alderman, an assistant, two assessors, one collector and two constables in each ward. The charter of Albany was granted by Governor Dougan in 1686, and it resembled in many respects the instrument under which the city of New York was first organized. It provided that six aldermen, six assistant aldermen, constables and other magistrates, should be chosen annually. The mayor, as well as the sheriff, was appointed by the governor. Governor Dongan's reluctance to fall in with the despotic and reactionary policy of King James led to his being dismissed from office in 1688, when Andros took his place.
The tyrannical conduct of James II. and of his representatives in America, alienated the people of New York from that sovereign, and the news of his downfall was received with delight, especially as nearly all the people were Protestants. The aristocratic element was inclined, notwithstanding the news, to uphold the government established by James, but the common or democratic element resolved to drive out the representatives of the late king, and create a temporary government in sympathy with the revolution. Jacob Leisler, a distinguished Huguenot merchant, and senior captain of the military companies, was induced to lead a revolt. A committee of safety, consisting of ten members, Dutch, Huguenots and English, made Leisler commander-in-chief until orders should arrive from William and Mary, the new sovereigns of England. Sir Francis Nicholson, the acting governor under Sir Edmund Andros, departed for England, and the members of his council to Albany, and denounced Leisler as an arch-rebel. Leisler sent an account of his proceedings to King William, and called an assembly to provide means for carrying on war against the French in Canada. King William paid no attention to Leisler's message, and commissioned Colonel Henry Sloughter governor of New York, and sent a company of regular soldiers, under Captain Ingoldsby, to the province. Leisler proclaimed Sloughter's appointment, but refused to surrender the fort to Ingoldsby. A hostile encounter followed, in which some lives were lost. The aristocratic element succeeded, upon Sloughter's arrival, in obtaining an ascendancy over him, and Leisler and his son-in-law, Milborne, were arrested on charges of treason. They were tried and convicted by a packed court, and Sloughter was induced, while drunk at a banquet given by Leisler's enemies, to sign the death warrants. For fear the governor would repent of his act when sober, both men were torn away from their weeping families to the scaffold. A number of Leisler's enemies were assembled to witness his death, while a crowd of the common people, who regarded him as their champion and a martyr for their cause, looked sullenly on. Milborne saw his bitter foe, Robert Livingston, in the throng, and exclaimed: "Robert Livingston, for this I will implead thee at the bar of God!" The execution of Leisler aroused strong indignation both in America and England, and some years later the attainder placed upon them was removed by act of Parliament, and their estates restored to their families. Leisler's soul, like that of John Brown, marched on while his body was moldering in the grave. The spirit which he infused, and the love of liberty to which he gave expression, could not be eradicated by his tragic death. The people continued the struggle in assembly after assembly for the people's rights, and resolutely upheld freedom of speech and of the press in the legislative hall and the jury box.
William Penn's Model Colony—Sketch of the Founder of Pennsylvania— Comparative Humanity of Quaker Laws—Modified Freedom of Religion—An Early Liquor Law—Offences Against Morality Severely Punished—White Servitude—Debtors Sold Into Bondage—Georgia Founded as an Asylum for Debtors—Oglethorpe Repulses the Spaniards—Georgia a Royal Province.
Founded on principles of equity by a man who was eminently a lover of his kind, Pennsylvania stood forth as a model colony, an ample and hospitable refuge for the oppressed of every clime. William Penn believed in the Golden Rule, and he sought to establish a state in which that rule would be the fundamental law. Instead of stern justices growing fat on the fees of litigation, he would have peace-makers in every county. He would treat the Indian as of the same flesh and blood as the white, and would live on terms of amity with red men embittered against the invaders of their lands by many years of unjust encroachment and cruel oppression. His object, Penn declared in his advertisement of Pennsylvania, was to establish a just and righteous government in the province that would be an example for others. He proposed that his government should be a government of law, with the people a party to the making of laws. None, he declared, should be molested or prejudiced in matters of faith and worship, and nobody should be compelled at any time to frequent or maintain any religious place of worship or ministry whatsoever. Trial by jury was guaranteed; the person of an Indian was to be as sacred as that of a white man, and in any issue at law in which an Indian should be concerned, one half the jury was to be composed of Indians.
William Penn was well known both in England and on the Continent when he received, in 1681, his grant of Pennsylvania from Charles II. in discharge of a debt of about eighty thousand dollars, due by the crown to Penn's father, Admiral Sir William Penn. The proprietor of Pennsylvania had suffered in the cause of religious liberty and reform. He had been confined in the Tower for writing heretical pamphlets, and been prosecuted for preaching in the streets of London. He had traveled in Holland and Germany as a self-appointed missionary of the Society of Friends, and had not spared his own ease in pleading the cause of persecuted Quakers everywhere. When, therefore, he proposed to found a colony in America, his name alone was enough to attract a host of followers. Many immigrants flocked to Pennsylvania even before Penn himself had arrived there, and the settlers of Delaware, who had been anxious as to their future under the charter of the Duke of York, gladly came under the rule of one whose name was a synonym of equity. Under a spreading elm the Indians met the proprietor of Pennsylvania and made a covenant with him that was equally just to the white man and to the native—a covenant which, it is said, was never forgotten by the aborigines.
Nothing is more significant of the spirit and the motives which guided the early settlers than the humanity of their laws, as compared with the code of England. The humane and enlightened sentiment as expressed in legislation, was not peculiar to Pennsylvania. In Rhode Island, also, that other colony founded on the principle of religious liberty, the first spontaneous code enacted by the exiles was more than a century in advance of European ideas and statutes, and in Rhode Island, as in Pennsylvania, the ideal was compelled to give way to the hard and practical pressure of dominating English influence, and of contact with the rougher sort of mankind, attracted to these shores by the hope of gain or the fear of punishment at home.
The Quakers began by proclaiming a modified freedom of religion. They declared, "That no person now, or at any time hereafter, dwelling or residing within this province, who shall profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, and in the Holy Spirit, one God blessed for Evermore, and shall acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration, and, when lawfully required, shall profess and declare that they will live peaceably under the civil government, shall in any case be molested or prejudiced for his or her conscientious persuasion, nor shall he or she be at any time compelled to frequent or maintain any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever, contrary to his or her mind, but shall freely and fully enjoy his or her Christian liberty in all respects, without molestation or interruption." Of course this manifestly excluded unbelievers in the Trinity, and left a door open for controversy as to what books were included in the Sacred Scriptures. Furthermore, the law against blasphemy might easily have been used as a weapon of persecution, providing, as it did, that whoever should "despitefully blaspheme or speak loosely and profanely of Almighty God, Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit or the Scriptures of Truth, and is legally convicted thereof, shall forfeit and pay the sum of ten pounds for the use of the poor of the county where such offence shall be committed, or suffer three months imprisonment at hard labor."
Practically, however, entire freedom of worship existed in Pennsylvania. The same liberal spirit breathed through the Quaker code, while at the same time due care was taken to protect the morals of the people.
In view of the severe liquor law now in force in Pennsylvania, it may be of interest to recall an early enactment regulating the traffic. It was provided in 1709, that "For preventing of disorders and the mischiefs that may happen by multiplicity of public houses of entertainment, Be it enacted, That no person or persons whatsoever, within this province, shall hereafter have or keep any public inn, tavern, ale-house, tippling-house or dram shop, victualling or public house of entertainment in any county of this province, or in the City of Philadelphia, unless such person or persons shall first be recommended by the justices in the respective County Courts, and the said city, in their Quarter Sessions or Court of Record for the said counties and cities respectively, to the Lieutenant-Governor for the time being, for his license for so doing, under the penalty of five pounds." Tavern keepers permitting disorder in their places of entertainment were subject to revocation of license.
There was a marked disposition in those days to visit with severity offences against morality, especially when the detected culprits were females; though males were not spared when sufficient proof could be brought of their guilt. A woman concealing the birth of a child, found dead, and evidently born alive, was held to be guilty of murder, unless she could prove that the death was not her doing. This unjust presumption remained in force for many years, until, under the influence of kinder and Christian sentiment, the law was changed, the burden of proof placed upon the prosecution and the presumption of innocence extended to the defendant. The penalty for violating the marriage obligation was the lash; the letter "A" being branded on the forehead for the third offence. A singular provision of law was that a married woman having a child when her husband had been one year absent, should be punished as a criminal, but to be exempt from punishment if she should prove that her husband had been within the period stated "in some of the Queen's colonies or plantations on this continent, between the easternmost parts of New England and the southernmost parts of North Carolina."
The penalties inflicted on servants point in a remarkable manner to the wonderful advance in the condition of menial and common laborers within the past hundred years. Pennsylvania, in the treatment of the laborer, was at least as lenient as any other colony, but the laws of the time appear hideously harsh and oppressive to us of to-day. The early colonial statutes provided that, "For the just encouragement of servants in the discharge of their duty, and the prevention of their deserting their master's or owner's service, be it enacted, that no servant bound to serve his or her time in this province, shall be sold or disposed of to any person residing in any other province or government without the consent of said servant, and two justices of the peace of the county wherein such servant lives or is sold, under the penalty of ten pounds to be forfeited by the seller." What a picture this conjures up of some poor, orphaned and half-starved colonial Oliver Twist, dragged by his master into the presence of pompous justices, and frowned into a hesitating consent to exchange the evils with which he was familiar for a fate whose wretchedness he knew not of!
Ten shillings was to be paid for returning a runaway servant, if captured within ten miles of the servant's abode; if over ten miles, then the sum of twenty shillings was to be paid to the captor on delivery of the fugitive to the sheriff, the master to pay, in addition to the reward, five shillings prison fees, and all other disbursements and charges. The penalty for concealing a runaway servant was twenty shillings, and any one purchasing any goods from a servant without the consent of the master or mistress was fined treble the value of the goods, to the use of the owner, "and the servant, if a white, shall make satisfaction to his or her master or owner by servitude after the expiration of his or her time, to double the value of said goods, and if the servant be a black, he or she shall be severely whipped in the most public place in the township in which such offence was committed."
It may be seen from the above that common labor up to the time of the Revolution was virtually that of serfs, without discrimination of color or nativity. The supply of such labor came largely from Great Britain and Ireland, and to some extent from the other colonies and from Africa. Poor debtors also were sold into servitude, a law of 1705 providing that "debtors should make satisfaction by servitude not exceeding seven years, if a single person and under the age of fifty, and three years or five years if a married man, and under the age of forty-six years." What the family of the married debtor were to do for a living while he was in servitude, legislation failed to suggest. Probably, in many instances, they were glad to accompany the husband and father into serfdom. Warrants could not be served on Sunday, one day of the seven being reserved when the wretched debtor might rest in security, and the hunted criminal forget that he was outlawed.
While other colonies were founded as places of refuge for Christians oppressed on account of their religion, Georgia had its origin in the humane desire of General James Edward Oglethorpe to establish an asylum for poor debtors, with whom the prisons of England were over-crowded, the colony also to be a haven for the Protestants of Germany and other continental States. The proprietors of the Carolinas surrendered their charters to the crown in 1729, and King George II was, therefore, free to grant, June 9, 1732, a charter for a corporation for twenty-one years "in trust for the poor," to found a colony in the disputed territory south of the Savannah, to be called Georgia, in honor of the king. The trustees, appointed by the crown, possessed all the power both of making and executing laws. The people of Charleston, South Carolina, gave welcome to Oglethorpe and his immigrants, for South Carolina had been greatly harassed by the Spaniards to the south, and by the powerful tribes of Indians who occupied a large portion of the proposed colony. General Oglethorpe laid the foundation of the future State on the site of Savannah, and notwithstanding grievous restrictions on the ownership of land, the colony attracted many settlers from England, Scotland and Germany. The Spaniards invaded Georgia in 1742 with a fleet of thirty-five vessels from Cuba and a land force three thousand strong. Oglethorpe had but a small body of troops, chiefly Scotch Highlanders, but by courage and strategy he inflicted a sanguinary defeat on the Spaniards at the place called the "Bloody Marsh." Ten years later, in 1742, Georgia became a royal province, and secured the liberties enjoyed by other American provinces under the crown.
Struggle for Empire in North America—The Vast Region Called Louisiana —War Between England and France—New England Militia Besiege Quebec —Frontenac Strikes the Iroquois—The Capture of Louisburg—The Forks of the Ohio—George Washington's Mission to the French—Braddock's Defeat—Washington Prevents Utter Disaster—Barbarous Treatment of Prisoners.
The closing years of the seventeenth century witnessed the beginning of the struggle between France and England for empire in North America. Marquette, Joliet and La Salle won for France by daring exploration a nominal title to the Mississippi Valley, and La Salle assumed possession of the great river and its country in the name of Louis XIV., after whom he called the region Louisiana. It was a vast dominion indeed that was thus claimed for the House of Bourbon without a settlement and with hardly an outpost to make any real show of sovereignty. Even had the expulsion of James II. from the English throne not hastened an outbreak between England and France, the conflict would have been inevitable. The war began in 1689, and with intervals of peace and sometimes in spite of peace the contest continued, until 1763, with varying fortunes, but ultimately resulting in the complete overthrow of the French. The Iroquois stood firmly by the English, while the French and their Indian allies repeated the scenes of King Philip's War on the frontiers, and often far in the interior of New York and New England. The people of the British colonies did not look only to Great Britain for defence. They defended themselves, and even carried war into the enemy's country. In 1690, two thousand Massachusetts militia, led by Sir William Phipps, sailed up the St. Lawrence and laid siege to Quebec, while another force, composed of New York and Connecticut troops, advanced from Albany upon Montreal. These expeditions were unsuccessful. In 1693, Count Frontenac, Governor of Canada, invaded the country of the Iroquois and inflicted crushing blows upon that once powerful confederacy, whose prowess had been felt before the arrival of the white man, as far as Tennessee in the South and Illinois in the West. Notwithstanding the able generalship of Frontenac the English made steady progress in the annexation of French territory. British and colonial troops conquered Nova Scotia, and the treaty of Utrecht in 1713 recognized England as the owner, not only of Nova Scotia, but also of Newfoundland and the Hudson Bay region. The French, however, strengthened their hold upon the interior of the continent, and established a series of fortified posts connecting the Mississippi Valley with the Great Lakes. Kaskaskia was founded in 1695, Cahokia in 1700, Detroit 1701 and Vincennes 1705. Bienville founded the city of New Orleans in 1718.
The capture of Louisburg, in 1746, was the most important military achievement of the English colonists in America, previous to the Revolution. The French built the fortress soon after the treaty of Utrecht, and spared no expense to make it formidable. The project to drive the French out of the place was entirely of colonial origin. Governor Shirley, of Massachusetts, proposed the expedition to the legislature of the colony, and the members of that body hesitated at first to enter upon an undertaking apparently so hazardous and almost hopeless. After discussion the necessary authority was granted by a majority of one. A circular-letter, asking for assistance, was then sent to all the colonies as far south as Pennsylvania. New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania contributed considerable sums of money, and Governor Clinton, of New York, sent also provisions and cannon. Roger Wolcott led five hundred men from Connecticut and Rhode Island and New Hampshire each sent three hundred men. The remainder of the force of 3250 men was enlisted in Massachusetts, that colony also providing ten armed vessels. William Peperell, of Maine, distinguished alike on the bench and in arms, commanded the expedition, and English vessels of war assisted in the assault. The French surrendered after a siege of forty-eight days, conducted with great vigor by the colonists. The gratification of the British government over the important victory is said to have been mingled with apprehension, due to the signal display of colonial power and energy. Upon peace being made in 1748, after four years' war, Louisburg, much to the indignation of the colonists, was given up to France in exchange for Madras, in India, and had to be reconquered in 1758.
The point of land where the Allegheny and Monongahela meet in turbulent eddies and form the Beautiful River, early engaged the attention of the two nations, rivals for the dominion of the northern continent, while between two of the leading British colonies grave difference existed as to ownership of the coveted territory. Pennsylvania, held in leading-strings by a Quaker policy which endeavored to reconcile the savage realities of an age of iron with theories of a golden millennium, failed to sustain her assertion of right with the energies that her population and resources might well have commanded, and Virginia, more ambitious and militant, boldly pushed an armed expedition into the very heart of the border wilderness, and began with the attack on Jumonville and his party the war that ended on the Plains of Abraham.
In 1750 the Ohio Company, formed for the purpose of colonizing the country on the river of that name, surveyed its banks as far as the site of Louisville. The French, resolved to defend their title to the region west of the mountains, crossed Lake Erie, and established posts at Presque Isle, at Le Boeuf, and at Venango on the Allegheny River. Governor Dinwiddie, of Virginia, sent a messenger to warn the French not to advance. He selected for this task a young man named George Washington, a land surveyor, who, notwithstanding his youth, had made a good impression as a person of capacity and courage, well-fitted for the arduous and delicate undertaking. Washington well performed his task although the French, as might have been expected, paid no heed to his warning. In the spring of 1754, a party of English began to build a fort where Pittsburg now stands. The French drove them off and erected Fort Duquesne. A regiment of Virginia troops was already marching toward the place. Upon the death of its leading officer, George Washington, the lieutenant-colonel, took command. Washington, overwhelmed by the superior numbers of the French, was compelled to surrender, and the French, for the time, were masters of the Ohio.
This reverse did not diminish the esteem in which Washington was held by the Virginians, and by those of the mother country who came in contact with him. When General Edward Braddock, in 1755, started on his ill-fated expedition for the capture of Duquesne with a force of about two thousand men, including the British regulars and the colonial militia, Washington accompanied the British general as one of his staff. Braddock was a gallant soldier, but imperious, and self-willed, and he looked almost with contempt upon the American troops. He made a forced march with twelve hundred men in order to surprise the French at Duquesne before they could receive reinforcements. Colonel Dunbar followed with the remainder of the army and the wagon-train. It was a delightful July morning when the British soldiers and colonists crossed a ford of the Monongahela, and advanced in solid platoons along the southern bank of the stream in the direction of the fort. Washington advised a disposition of the troops more in accordance with forest warfare, but Braddock haughtily rejected the advice of the "provincial colonel," as he called Washington. The army moved on, recrossed the river to the north side, and continued the march to Duquesne. The news of the British advance had been carried to the fort by Indian scouts. The French at first thought of abandoning the post, but they decided to attack the British with the aid of Indian allies. De Beaujeu led the French and Indians. The British were proceeding in fancied security when the forest rang with Indian yells, and a volley of bullets and flying arrows dealt death in their ranks. The regular troops were thrown into confusion, and Braddock tried courageously to rally them. Washington showed the admirable qualities which afterward made him victor in the Revolution. Cool and fearless amid the frantic shouts of the foe and the panic of the British soldiery, he gave Braddock invaluable assistance in endeavoring to retrieve the fortunes of the day. The provincials fought frontier fashion, nearly all losing their lives, but not without picking off many of their enemies. Beaujeu, the French commander, was killed in the opening of the engagement. Of eighty-six English officers sixty-three were killed or wounded; and about one-half the private soldiers fell, while a number were made prisoners. For two hours the battle raged, until Braddock, having had five horses shot under him, went down himself, mortally wounded. Then the regulars that remained took to flight, and Washington, left in command; ordered a retreat, carrying with him his dying general. Braddock died three days after the battle, expressing regret that he had not followed the counsel of Washington. The British prisoners were taken to Duquesne, and that evening the Indians lighted fires on the banks of the Allegheny River, near the fort, and tortured the captives to death. An English boy who was a prisoner at Duquesne, having been previously captured, and who afterward related his experience in a narrative, a copy of which the writer has examined, says that the cries of the victims could be heard in the fort. The boy himself was subjected to closer confinement than usual, apparently for fear that the savages might demand that he be given up to them.
Expulsion of the Acadians—A Cruel Deportation—The Marquis De Montcalm —The Fort William Henry Massacre—Defeat of Abercrombie—William Pitt Prosecutes the War Vigorously—Fort Duquesne Reduced—Louisburg Again Captured—Wolfe Attacks Quebec—Battle of the Plains of Abraham —Wolfe and Montcalm Mortally Wounded—Quebec Surrenders—New France a Dream of the Past—Pontiac's War.
American history contains no sadder story than the expulsion of the Acadians, or French settlers of Nova Scotia. The act may have been justifiable on the ground of military necessity; the Acadians were not loyal subjects, and they would have eagerly welcomed the expulsion of the British from North America. Indeed their conduct might have been construed as treasonable, and the English had ground for regarding them as enemies of the British crown. Their dispersion weakened the French cause at a time when that cause seemed in the ascendant, and when Braddock's unavenged defeat had reanimated the French with the hope of driving the English from America. Yet even if the deportation of the Acadians was required by the supreme law of self-preservation, and justifiable on the ground of their more than merely passive disloyalty, the manner of that deportation could not be justified. The separation of families, many of them never reunited, was a crime against humanity; the conversion of an honest, industrious and thrifty peasantry into a host of penniless vagrants, scattered like Ishmaelites through hostile colonies, was a wrong as cruel as it was unnecessary. Colonized in South Carolina or Georgia, the Acadians could hardly have been a menace to the power of Great Britain, while the Huguenot element in those regions, understanding the Acadian tongue, would have kept watch and ward against possible disloyalty. It is a pathetic feature of this most painful episode that the Huguenots, themselves driven out of France by the merciless tyranny of a Roman Catholic king, gave kindly relief to such Roman Catholic exiles from Acadia as were cast among them. They proved their true Christian spirit by returning good for evil. About six thousand of the Acadians were deported from their native land, and scattered the length and breadth of the English colonies. Many made their way to Louisiana, then a French possession, and their descendants still form a distinct class in that State. Some even sought refuge among the Indians, and found the barbarian kinder than their civilized persecutors. Longfellow's poem, "Evangeline," is based on the touching story of Acadia. The French cause was greatly strengthened by the arrival in 1756 of the Marquis de Montcalm, a distinguished soldier, to take command of the French forces in Canada. Montcalm displayed not only courage and skill, but humanity likewise, in the management of his campaigns, and history relieves him of responsibility for the horrid massacre by Indians of the captured English garrison of Fort William Henry, after a safe escort to Fort Edward had been promised to the captives. The facts are that both British and French used the Indians as allies regardless of their savage practices, but that the French, as at Fort Duquesne, showed less ability to restrain the savages after a victory. In the following summer—1758—Montcalm inflicted a most disastrous defeat at Ticonderoga on fifteen thousand British and colonial troops, led by General Abercrombie. The French force numbered only four thousand French and Indians. The English attempted to carry the works by assault, without the aid of artillery, and were mowed down by the fire of the French posted behind insuperable barriers. The English loss was about two thousand, while that of the French was inconsiderable. This was the last important success of the French in America. A master hand had seized the helm in Great Britain.
William Pitt, the "Great Commoner," determined upon a vigorous prosecution of the war in America. General John Forbes was sent, in 1758, with about nine thousand men to reduce Fort Duquesne. The illness which caused his death in the following year may be fairly accepted in excuse and explanation of the incompetent management of the expedition, and its almost fatal delays. Fortunately the French appeared to have lost the vigor and daring which they had displayed in the defeat of Braddock, and the sullen roar of an explosion, when the British troops were within a few miles of Duquesne, gave notice that it had been abandoned without a blow. General Forbes changed the name of the place to Fort Pitt, in honor of that illustrious minister to whose energetic direction of affairs was largely due the expulsion of the French arms from North America. When Westminster Abbey shall have crumbled over the tombs of Britain's heroes, and the House of Hanover shall have joined the misty dynasties of the past, Pittsburg will remain a monument, growing in grandeur with the progress of ages, to England's great statesman of the eighteenth century.
Louisburg also fell in 1758, and in the following year the English prepared to end the struggle by an attack on Quebec. Pitt placed at the head of the expedition a young general, James Wolfe, who had distinguished himself at the capture of Louisburg. Wolfe had about eight thousand troops under a convoy of twenty-two line-of-battleships, and as many frigates and smaller armed vessels. Montcalm defended the city with about seven thousand Frenchmen and Indians. The heights on which the upper town of Quebec was situated, rising almost perpendicularly at one point of three hundred feet above the river, and extending back in a lofty plateau called the Plains of Abraham, seemed to defy successful attack. Wolfe spent the summer in fruitless efforts to reduce Quebec. At length he learned that the precipice fronting on the river and supposed to be impassable, could be scaled at a point a short distance above the town, where a narrow ravine gave access to the plateau. On the evening of September 12, the British vessels, loaded with troops, floated with the inflowing tide some distance up the river. Then past midnight, while the sky was black with clouds, the ships silently and undetected by the French floated down to the designated landing-place. The troops were taken on shore in flat-bottomed boats, with muffled oars. At dawn Lieutenant-Colonel William Howe led the advance up the ravine, drove back the guard at the summit, and protected the ascent of the army. The garrison and people of Quebec awoke to see the redcoats in battle array on the Plains of Abraham. Montcalm soon confronted the British. Both of the heroic commanders knew and felt all that was at stake on the fate of the day, and they both fought with a courage that gave a splendid example to their men. Wolfe, twice wounded, continued to give orders until mortally wounded he fell. Montcalm fell nearly at the same time, mortally wounded, and his troops, already wavering before the irresistible onset of the British, broke and fled. When told that death was near, "So much the better," said Montcalm, "I will not live to see the surrender of Quebec." "Now, God be praised, I will die in peace," said the English commander, on hearing that victory was assured. Quebec was surrendered a few days later. Forts Niagara and Ticonderoga had already fallen.
Spain, having taken side with France, lost Cuba and the Philippine Islands to the English, but in the treaty of Paris of 1763, England gave those islands to Spain and received Florida in exchange. France ceded to Spain, in order to compensate that power for the loss of Florida, the city of New Orleans, and all the vast and indefinite territory known as Louisiana, stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the unexplored regions of the northwest. New France was a dream of the past.
The French policy in America had one essential and fatal feature. The French came more as a garrison than as colonists. They came to govern, rather than possess the land, to rule, but not to supplant the natives of the soil. This policy insured some immediate strength, because the Indians were naturally less jealous of Europeans who did not threaten their hunting-grounds. On the other hand the ultimate failure of such a course was inevitable, in dealing as rivals and antagonists with a people who had come to possess the land, to drive out the Indian, to make the New World their home and a heritage for their descendants. The English settlers might be driven back for a time; their cabins might be turned into ashes, and the tomahawk and scalping-knife leave dire evidence of savage vengeance and Gallic inhumanity. But the rally was as certain as the raid was sudden. A garrison might be massacred; a colony could not be exterminated, and the defeats of Braddock and Abercrombie only burned into English breasts the resolution to tear down forever on the American continent the flag which floated over the evidence of England's dishonor.
The Algonquin Indians, who had regarded the French as allies and protectors, were now left to defend themselves against the English. Pontiac, chief of the Ottawas, conceived the idea of inducing all the tribes to unite in a general attack upon the English settlements as a last desperate resort to stay the advance of the whites. Pontiac is supposed to have led the Ottawas who assisted the French in defeating Braddock, and he perhaps underrated the power and prowess of his British antagonists. He was an able chieftain, of the same type as King Philip, Tecumseh and Sitting Bull. He saw that the white man and the red man could not possess the land together, and he determined to make a stand in behalf of his race. The struggle lasted for about two years, attended by the usual barbarities of savage warfare, and ended in the death of Pontiac, who, after suing for peace, was murdered by a drunken Indian, bribed by an English trader with a barrel of rum to commit the deed. Instead of preventing, Pontiac's War only hastened the flight of the Indian and the march of the colonists toward the setting sun.
Causes of the Revolution—The Act of Navigation—Acts of Trade—Odious Customs Laws—English Jealousy of New England—Effect of Restrictions on Colonial Trade—Du Chatelet Foresees Rebellion and Independence—The Revolution a Struggle for More Than Political Freedom.
It was not for the sake of the colonists that England had assisted them in driving the French from America, but with the wholly selfish aim of building up the trade and commerce of Great Britain. European nations looked upon their American colonies simply as resources from which the mother country might become enriched, and in this respect the policy of England was not different from that of Spain, described in the beginning of this volume. As early as 1625 an English author (Hagthorne) wrote that even in time of peace it was the purpose and aim of England to undermine and beat the Dutch and Spaniards out of their trades, "which may not improperly be called a war, for the deprivation and cutting off the trades of a kingdom may be to some prince more loss if his revenues depend thereon than the killing of his armies." The wars against Holland, which resulted in the subjection to the British crown of the colonial possessions of that industrious people, and which compelled the fleets of the United Provinces to acknowledge British supremacy on the high seas, were in the line of commercial aggrandizement, and the Navigation Act transferred to England a large share of the Dutch carrying trade, and enriched English shipowners with an utterly selfish indifference to the welfare of English colonies.
When the colonists, their western bounds no longer threatened by civilized foes, their plantations flourishing and their seaport towns wealthy with the profits of a commerce carried on in contempt of imperial restrictions, began to feel and to assert that they were entitled to all the rights of freeborn Englishmen, and to the same commercial and industrial independence enjoyed by loyal subjects in England, they were surprised to learn that Parliament and the English people regarded them not as freemen, but as tributaries. The colonists were themselves loyal, even up to the hour when they were compelled by stubborn tyranny to assert the right of revolution, for, to quote the language of John Adams, "it is true there always existed in the colonies a desire of independence of Parliament in the articles of internal taxation and internal policy, and a very general, if not universal opinion, that they were constitutionally entitled to it, and as general a determination to maintain and defend it. But there never existed a desire of independence of the Crown, or of general regulations of commerce for the equal and impartial benefit of all parts of the empire." "If any man," said the same great statesman, "wishes to investigate thoroughly the causes, feelings and principles of the Revolution, he must study this Act of Navigation, and the Acts of Trade, as a philosopher, a politician and a philanthropist."
When the Act of Navigation was originally passed, in the Cromwell period, it is probable that the colonies were not seriously in the minds of the people and of Parliament. The act was aimed, as we have before stated, at the Dutch, and was effective for the purposes intended; but within the decade that elapsed before its re-enactment under the Restoration, the colonial trade had grown with a vigor that aroused jealousy and uneasiness at home, and the Act of Navigation was soon followed, in 1663, by the first of the Acts of Trade, which provided that no supplies should be imported into any colony, except what had been actually shipped in an English port, and carried directly thence to the importing colony. This cut the colonies off from direct trade with any foreign country, and made England the depot for all necessaries or luxuries which the colonies desired, and which they could not obtain in America. Nine years later, in 1672, followed another act "for the better securing the plantation trade," which recited that the colonists had, contrary to the express letter of the aforesaid laws, brought into diverse parts of Europe great quantities of their growth, productions and manufactures, sugar, tobacco, cotton, wool and dye woods being particularly enumerated in the list, and that the trade and navigation in those commodities from one plantation to another had been greatly increased, and provided that all colonial commodities should either be shipped to England or Wales before being imported into another colony, or that a customs duty should be paid on such commodities equivalent to the cost of conveying the same to England, and thence to the colony for which they were destined. For instance, if a merchant in Rhode Island desired to sell some product of the colony of Massachusetts in New York, and to forward the same by a vessel, either a bond had to be given that the commodity would be transported to England, or a duty had to be paid, in money or in goods sufficiently onerous to protect the English merchant and shipowner against serious colonial competition in the carrying trade.
The above act was followed up by another providing penalties for attempted violation of the customs laws. In this statute no mention was made of the plantations and its general tenor indicated that it was intended to apply to Great Britain only, providing, as it did, for the searching of houses and dwellings for smuggled goods by virtue of a writ of assistance under the seal of His Majesty's court of exchequer. Under William the Third, who was as arbitrary a monarch toward the colonies as the second James had been, the statute was made directly applicable to the plantation trade, with the provision that "the like assistance shall be given to the said officers in the execution of their office, as by the last-mentioned act is provided for the officers in England." It was on the question of whether such a writ could be issued from a colonial court that James Otis made the famous speech in which he arraigned the commercial policy of England, stripped the veil of reform from the bust of the Stadtholder-King, and awakened the colonists to a throbbing sense of English oppression and of American wrongs—the oration which, in the language of John Adams, who heard it, "breathed into this nation the breath of life."
It is needless to follow the numerous Acts of Trade in their order, for they were all in a line with the accepted and established principle of that age in England that the colonies should minister to the commercial aggrandizement of the mother country, instead of being the centres of an independent traffic, that they should be communities for the consumption of British manufactures and the feeding of British trade. New England was especially the object of English jealousy and restriction, and for reasons, as given by Sir Josiah Child, in his "New Discourse on Trade," written about the year 1677, that are creditable to the founders of those States, for after speaking of the people of Virginia and the Barbadoes as a loose vagrant sort, "vicious and destitute of means to live at home, gathered up about the streets of London or other places, and who, had there been no English foreign plantation in the world, must have come to be hanged or starved or died untimely of those miserable diseases that proceed from want and vice, or have sold themselves as soldiers to be knocked on the head, or at best, by begging or stealing two shillings and sixpence, have made their way to Holland to become servants to the Dutch, who refuse none," he goes on to describe "a people whose frugality, industry and temperance and the happiness of whose laws and institutions, do promise to themselves long life, with a wonderful increase of people, riches and power." But, after paying this probably reluctant tribute to New England virtue and industry, he frankly avows his full sympathy with the restrictive system, and adds that "there is nothing more prejudicial and in prospect more dangerous to any mother kingdom than the increase of shipping in her colonies, plantations and provinces." It is no wonder that John Adams said that he never read these authors without being set on fire, and that at last the same fire spread to every patriotic breast.
The Acts of Navigation and of Trade were not the dead letters that some superficial writers and readers have seen fit to term them. It is true that obedience was reluctant and slow, and that evasion was extensive, and it is also true, that colonial commerce flourished in spite of the restrictions; but it should be remembered that the prolonged wars in which England was engaged gave lucrative opportunities for privateering, and that even the customs duties, though intended to be virtually prohibitory, were not heavy enough to overcome the advantages which the colonists enjoyed. In Rhode Island the General Assembly asserted and maintained the right to regulate the fees of the customs officers, and, as far as was possible, the collection of the dues. The shipping of the colony rapidly increased, and in 1731 included two vessels from England, as many from Holland and the Mediterranean, and ten or twelve from the West Indies, and ten years later numbered one hundred and twenty vessels engaged in the West Indian, African, European and coasting trade. The period preceding the Revolution witnessed New England's greatest commercial prosperity, and it was in that age that Moses Brown and other enterprising merchants and shipowners laid the foundation of fortunes, a liberal share of which has been expended with illustrious munificence in monuments of learning, of art and of charity. As for the restrictions upon domestic industry, they were not severely felt among a people devoted, in the country to agriculture, and in the towns to local traffic and shipping, and the American farmer who wore homespun attire, did not realize the harshness or appreciate the purpose of the statute which prohibited the export of wool, or woolen manufactures. As for the Southern planter, the question of fostering domestic manufactures never entered his thoughts. He raised his tobacco and his cotton, exported them to England, and got what goods he needed there just as his descendants, in a later age, procured the manufactured necessities and luxuries of life from the depots of New England trade.
But even if the British Parliament had never attempted to raise a revenue by taxation in the American colonies, it is probable that in time the restrictions on commerce would have led to revolution, unless rescinded. This was the opinion of the shrewd observer Du Chatelet, who, after France had surrendered her American possessions to Great Britain, said that "they (the chambers of commerce) regard everything in colonial commerce which does not turn exclusively to the benefit of the kingdom as contrary to the end for which colonies were established, and as a theft from the state. To practice on these maxims is impossible. The wants of trade are stronger than the laws of trade. The north of America can alone furnish supplies to its south. This is the only point of view under which the cession of Canada can be regarded as a loss for France; but that cession will one day be amply compensated, if it shall cause in the English colonies the rebellion and the independence which become every day more probable and more near."
America, if not contented, was quiet under restrictive laws not stringently enforced, and but for the measures initiated by Grenville and Townshend, and approved by the king, the Parliament and the people of England, there would, if the leading American minds of that day were sincere, have been no insurrection in that era against British authority. George the Third is called a tyrant on every recurring Fourth of July, but the nation he ruled was as tyrannical as he, and impartial history cannot condemn the monarch without awarding a greater share of odium to his people, who sustained by their pronounced opinion and through their chosen representatives, every measure for the destruction of the liberties of these colonies, and who began to listen to the dictates of reason and of humanity only when America had become the prison of thousands of England's soldiers, and thousands of others, hired Hessian and kidnapped Briton alike, had been welcomed by American freemen to graves in American soil. The measures which led to war, and the war itself, were inspired and incited by the trading classes, as well as the aristocracy of England, who expected, in the destruction of a powerful commercial and menacing industrial rival, an ample return for the blood and treasure expended in the strife. The American people recognized that the struggle was for commercial and industrial as well as for political independence, and the stand in behalf of American industry was taken long before the scattered colonies met an empire in the field of arms.
Writs of Assistance Issued—Excitement in Boston—The Stamp Act—Protests Against Taxation Without Representation—Massachusetts Appoints a Committee of Correspondence—Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry—Henry's Celebrated Resolutions—His Warning to King George—Growing Agitation in the Colonies—The Stamp Act Repealed—Parliament Levies Duties on Tea and Other Imports to America—Lord North's Choice of Infamy—Measures Of Resistance in America—The Massachusetts Circular Letter—British Troops in Boston—The Boston Massacre—Burning of the "Gaspee"—North Carolina "Regulators"—The Boston Tea Party—The Boston Port Bill—The First Continental Congress—A Declaration of Rights—"Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!"
Even before peace had been made with France the king's officers in America began to enforce the revenue laws with a rigor to which the colonists had been unaccustomed. Charles Paxton, commissioner of customs in Boston, applied to the Superior Court for authority to use writs of assistance in searching for smuggled goods. These writs were warrants for the officers to search when and where they pleased and to call upon others to assist them, instead of procuring a special search-warrant for some designated place. Thomas Hutchinson, chief justice, and afterward royalist governor and refugee, favored the application, which was earnestly opposed by the merchants and the people generally. "To my dying day," exclaimed James Otis, in pleading against the measure, "I will oppose with all the power and faculties God has given me, all such instruments of slavery on one hand and of villainy on the other." Parliament had authorized the issue of the writs, however, and the custom house officers therefore had the law on their side. Writs were granted, but their enforcement was attended with so many difficulties that the customs authorities virtually gave up this attempt to encroach upon the rights of the people. The next step in provoking the colonists to revolution was the Stamp Act. The object of this enactment was to raise money for the support of British troops and the payment of salaries to certain public officers in the colonies who had depended upon the colonial treasuries for their compensation. In this there was a threefold invasion of colonial rights. Taxation without representation was contrary to a principle recognized for centuries in England, vindicated in the revolution which cost Charles I his head, and upheld in America from the very beginning of the settlements here. Again, while British troops had been welcome as allies in battling against the French and the Indians, they were not desired as garrisons to overawe the free people of the colonies, and finally the colonial officers whom it was proposed to pay from the royal treasury would become the masters instead of servants of the people—or they would be servants only of the king. The purpose of the Stamp Act obviously was to make America the vassal of Great Britain. The act required that legal documents and commercial instruments should be written, and that newspapers should be printed on stamped paper.
The people everywhere protested against the tyrannical action of Parliament. Samuel Adams drew up the instructions to the newly elected representatives of Boston to use all efforts against the plan of parliamentary taxation. It was resolved "that the imposition of duties and taxes by the Parliament of Great Britain upon a people not represented in the House of Commons is irreconcilable with their rights." A committee of correspondence was appointed in Massachusetts to communicate with other colonial assemblies, and the idea of union for the common defence began to take firm hold on the public mind. Benjamin Franklin, in the Congress held at Albany in 1754 to insure the aid of the Six Nations in the war then breaking out with France, had proposed a plan of union for the colonies, with a grand council having extensive powers and a president to be appointed by the crown. The plan was not adopted. Adams had written about the same time that "the only way to keep us from setting up for ourselves is to disunite us." Everybody now began to perceive the need of union, which the great intellects of Franklin and Adams had discerned long before.
No influence was so powerful in leading the South to stand side by side with the Northern colonies as that of Patrick Henry, the great orator of Virginia. In the House of Burgesses, in 1765, Mr. Henry introduced his celebrated resolutions against the Stamp Act, as follows:
"Resolved, That the first adventurers and settlers of this his majesty's colony and dominion, brought with them, and transmitted to their posterity, and all other his majesty's subjects, since inhabiting in this, his majesty's said colony, all the privileges, franchises and immunities, that have at any time been held, enjoyed and possessed by the people of Great Britain.
"Resolved, That by two royal charters, granted by King James the First, the colonists, aforesaid, are declared entitled to all the privileges, liberties and immunities of denizens and natural born subjects, to all intents and purposes, as if they had been abiding and born within the realm of England.
"Resolved, That the taxation of the people by themselves, or by persons chosen by themselves to represent them, who can only know what taxes the people are able to bear, and the easiest mode of raising them, and are equally affected by such taxes themselves, is the distinguishing characteristic of British freedom, and without which the ancient constitution cannot subsist.
"Resolved, That his majesty's liege people of this most ancient colony have uninterruptedly enjoyed the right of being thus governed by their own assembly in the article of their taxes and internal police, and that the same hath never been forfeited, or any other way given up, but hath been constantly recognized by the king and people of Great Britain.
"Resolved, therefore, That the General Assembly of this colony have the sole right and power to lay taxes and impositions upon the inhabitants of this colony; and that every attempt to vest such power in any person or persons whatsoever, other than the General Assembly aforesaid, has a manifest tendency to destroy British as well as American freedom."
On the back of the paper containing those resolutions, and found among Henry's papers after his death, was the following endorsement in the handwriting of Mr. Henry himself: "The within resolutions passed the House of Burgesses in May, 1765. They formed the first opposition to the Stamp Act, and the scheme of taxing America by the British Parliament. All the colonies, either through fear or want of opportunity to form an opposition, or from influence of some kind or other, had remained silent. I had been for the first time elected a burgess, a few days before; was young, inexperienced, unacquainted with the forms of the House, and the members that composed it. Finding the men of weight averse to opposition, and the commencement of the tax at hand, and that no person was likely to step forth, I determined to venture, and alone, unadvised and unassisted, on a blank leaf of an old law book wrote the within. Upon offering them to the House, violent debates ensued. Many threats were uttered, and much abuse cast upon me by the party for submission. After a long and warm contest, the resolutions passed by a very small majority, perhaps of one or two only. The alarm spread throughout America with astonishing quickness, and the ministerial party were overwhelmed. The great point of resistance to British taxation was universally established in the colonies. This brought on the war, which finally separated the two countries, and gave independence to ours. Whether this will prove a blessing or a curse will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise, they will be great and happy. If they are of a contrary character, they will be miserable—Righteousness alone can exalt them as a nation.
"Reader, whoever thou art, remember this; and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself, and encourage it in others.—P. Henry."
Every American realized the truth expressed in Mr. Henry's resolutions; but no man beside himself dared to utter it. All wished for independence; and all hitherto trembled at the thought of asserting it. Randolph, Bland, Pendleton and Wythe, with "all the old members whose influence in the House had, till then, been unbroken," opposed the resolutions, and had not Henry's unrivalled eloquence supported them, they would have been strangled in their birth. "The last and strongest resolution was carried by a single vote;" and Peyton Randolph said, immediately after, "I would have given 500 guineas for a single vote!" From this we may easily imagine how spirited was the opposition, and how energetic the eloquence exerted against Henry. It was in the midst of this magnificent debate, while he was descanting on the tyranny of the obnoxious act, that he exclaimed in a voice of thunder, and with the look of a god, "Caesar had his Brutus—Charles the First his Cromwell—and George the Third—('Treason,' cried the Speaker—'treason, treason,' echoed from every part of the House—it was one of those trying moments which is decisive of character—Henry faltered not for an instant; but rising to a loftier attitude, and fixing on the Speaker an eye of the most determined fire, he finished his sentence with the firmest emphasis) may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it."
On the following day, when Henry was absent, the more timid asserted themselves and the most important of the resolutions was reconsidered and expunged.
A congress held at New York declared against, the Stamp Act, and sent a protest to Parliament. Americans would not buy or use the stamps, and those who undertook agencies for their sale were treated as public enemies. Boxes of stamped paper were burned on arrival in port; the newspapers ignored the act, and legal documents were, by general consent, treated as valid without the stamp. In the following year Parliament, after a prolonged debate, in which William Pitt earnestly supported the American cause, repealed the act. The news of the repeal was received with great rejoicing in America, and the colonists hoped that there would be no more attempts to invade their rights as English subjects.
King George III., however, was bent upon reducing the colonists to abject submission to his will, and the fact that William Pitt, whom the king detested, had championed the Americans, made the monarch all the more obstinate in his purpose to humiliate them. In 1767 Charles Townshend, chancellor of the exchequer, carried through Parliament a bill putting a duty upon tea, glass, paper and other articles entering American ports. In connection with this measure the scheme of the British crown to reduce the colonies to a vassal condition was fully disclosed. Not only were troops to be supported out of the revenue thus raised, but the salaries of governors, judges and crown attorneys were to be paid from it, and any surplus remaining could be used by the king to pension Americans who had gained the royal grace by their subserviency. Townshend suddenly died after these measures had been adopted, and was succeeded by Lord North, who soon afterward became prime minister. North was not personally in favor of dealing harshly with the colonies, but he yielded to the royal will as the price of remaining in office, and shares in history the infamy of his master's course.
The Americans began to concert measures of resistance. They refused to use the dutiable articles, and made it unprofitable to import them. The Massachusetts legislature was dissolved by order of the king, because it had sent a circular-letter to other colonies inviting common action against the aggressions of Parliament. Other colonial assemblies were dissolved by the king's governors because they answered the letter favorably. The people's representatives continued to attend to the people's interests in informal conventions, and had the more time to give to the overshadowing issue of colonial rights, because royal displeasure had relieved them from the ordinary business of law making. Boston and Richmond worked in harmony in the one great cause, and North and South forgot social and religious differences in common effort for the common weal.
King George regarded Massachusetts as the hotbed and centre of colonial discontent, and in the autumn of 1768 he sent two regiments of British regulars to that city to assist in enforcing the Townshend acts. The troops and the citizens had frequent disputes, for the colonists were unused to military arrogance, and refused to be ordered about by martinets in uniform. The Boston Massacre, so-called, in March, 1770, when seven soldiers fired into a crowd of townspeople, killing five and wounding several others, helped to inflame the antagonism between the provincials and the military, and Governor Hutchinson, at the demand of Samuel Adams, speaking in behalf of three thousand resolute citizens, removed the troops to an island in the harbor. In April, 1770, Parliament again yielded to the Americans in so far as to take off all the Townshend duties except the duty on tea, which the king insisted upon retaining as a vindication of England's right to impose the duty.
The colonists continued as determined as ever not to submit to British taxation, or to the domineering course of the king's officers, which in some of the provinces had led to harsh and even bloody strife between the people and their oppressors. An armed schooner in the British revenue service called the Gaspee, gave offence to American navigators on Narragansett Bay by requiring that their flag should be lowered in token of respect whenever they passed the king's vessel. The Gaspee ran aground while chasing a Providence sloop. Word of the mishap was carried up to Providence and, on the same night (June 9, 1772) sixty-four armed men went down in boats, attacked and captured the Gaspee, and burned the vessel. Abraham Whipple, afterward a commodore in the Continental Navy, and one of the founders of the State of Ohio, led the expedition. The royal authorities were greatly exasperated on hearing of the daring achievement, and Joseph Wanton, Governor of Rhode Island, afterward deposed from office for his loyalty to King George, issued a proclamation ordering diligent search for the perpetrators of the act. The British government offered a reward of $5000 for the leader, but although the people of Providence well knew who had taken part in the exploit, neither Whipple nor his associates were betrayed. In North Carolina insurgents calling themselves "Regulators" fought a sanguinary battle with Governor Tryon's troops, and were defeated, and six of them hanged for treason. In South Carolina the people also divided on the issue between England and the colonists, but for the time stopped short of violence.
The famous "Boston Tea Party" occurred in December, 1773. This was not a riotous, or, from the colonial standpoint, a lawless act, for the colonists were already administering their own affairs to a certain extent independently of royal authority, with the view to the preservation and defence of their liberties. The English East India Company had been anxious to regain the American trade and offered to pay an export duty more than equivalent to the import duty imposed in America, if the government would permit tea to be delivered at colonial ports free of duty. To this the British government would not consent, on the ground that it would be a surrender of the principle which the import duty represented. The government permitted the East India Company, however, to export tea to America free from export duty, thus allowing the Americans to buy tea as cheaply as if no import duty had been levied. The British authorities assumed that Americans would be satisfied to sell the principle for which they were contending for threepence on a pound of tea. They learned the American character better when two ships laden with tea arrived in Boston. The citizens gathered in the old South Meeting-house, and in the evening about sixty men, disguised as Indians, boarded the ships and cast the tea into the harbor. Upon news of this event reaching England, King George and his ministers decided to make an example of Boston. A bill was introduced by Lord North and passed almost unanimously closing the port of Boston and making Salem the seat of government. Another act annulled the charter of Massachusetts, and a military governor, General Thomas Gage, was appointed, with absolute authority over the province.
With the enactment of the Boston Port Bill, King George and his Parliament crossed the Rubicon. America was aflame. The other colonies joined in expressing their sympathy with Massachusetts, and their resolve to stand by her people and share their fate. A Continental Congress convened in Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia, on the fourth of September, 1774. The most eminent men in the colonies were now brought together for the first time to decide upon action which would affect the liberties of three millions of people. Patrick Henry was the first to speak, and he delivered an address worthy of his fame and worthy of the occasion. Colonel, afterward General Washington, then made the impression which earned for him the command of the American armies. The Congress drew up a Declaration of Rights, and sent it to the king. The people of Massachusetts formed a Provincial Congress with John Hancock for President, and began organizing provincial troops, and collecting military stores. Virginia continued to keep pace with Massachusetts. At a convention of delegates from the several counties and corporations of Virginia, held in Richmond, March, 1775, Patrick Henry stood resolutely forth for armed resistance. "Three millions of people," he said, "armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat, but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable—and let it come!! I repeat it, sir, let it come!!!
"It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry peace, peace—but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north, will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!—I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"
The Battle of Lexington—The War of the Revolution Begun—Fort Ticonderoga Taken—Second Continental Congress—George Washington Appointed Commander-in-chief—Battle of Bunker Hill—Last Appeal to King George—The King Hires Hessian Mercenaries—The Americans Invade Canada—General Montgomery Killed—General Howe Evacuates Boston—North Carolina Tories Routed at Moore's Creek Bridge—The Declaration of Independence—The British Move on New York—Battle at Brooklyn—Howe Occupies New York City—General Charles Lee Fails to Support Washington —Lee Captured—Washington's Victory at Trenton—The Marquis De Lafayette Arrives.
General Gage, military governor of Massachusetts, received orders in April, 1775, to arrest John Hancock and Samuel Adams and send them to England to be tried for treason. The two patriots were at the house of a friend in Lexington when Gage, on the evening of April 18, sent eight hundred British soldiers from Boston to seize military stores at Concord, and to arrest Adams and Hancock at Lexington. Paul Revere, a patriotic engraver, rode far in advance of the troops to warn the people of their coming. When the soldiers reached Lexington at sunrise they were confronted by armed yeomanry drawn up in battle array. The British fired, killing seven men. The War of the Revolution was begun. From near and far the farmers hastened to attack the troops. Every wall concealed an enemy of the British; from behind trees and fences a deadly fire was poured into their ranks. Their track was blazed with dead and wounded, as they hurried back from Concord, disappointed in the objects of their mission. Gage heard of the rising, and hurried reinforcements to the assistance of his decimated and almost fugitive soldiery, and with a loss of nearly three hundred men they re-entered Boston. From all parts of Massachusetts, from Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, the provincials hastened to face the invaders, and an army of sixteen thousand men of all sorts, conditions and colors, but most of them hardy New Englander farmers, besieged Governor Gage in Boston. Joseph Warren, John Stark, Israel Putnam and Benedict Arnold were among the leaders of the patriot forces. Ethan Allen, chief of the "Green Mountain Boys," demanded and obtained the surrender of Fort Ticonderoga "by the authority of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress" (May 10) and Seth Warner captured Crown Point two days later.
The second Continental Congress met at Philadelphia the same day that Fort Ticonderoga was taken. The Congress chose for its president John Hancock, whom the British government wanted to try for treason, assumed direction of the troops encamped at Cambridge, and called upon Virginia and the middle colonies for recruits. George Washington was appointed to command the American forces.
The battle of Bunker Hill proved to the British that the skill and courage which had been displayed with signal success against the French could be used with equal effect against British troops. General Gage had determined to seize and fortify points in the neighborhood of Boston in order to strengthen his hold upon the city, and to enable him to resist a siege. This purpose of the British commander becoming known to the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, the Committee ordered Colonel William Prescott, with one thousand men, including a company of artillery with two field-pieces, to occupy and fortify Bunker Hill. The force ascended Breed's Hill, much nearer Boston, on the evening of June 16. They worked all night under the direction of an engineer named Gridley, and in the morning the British on their vessels in the Charles River were surprised to see on a hill which had been bare the previous day a redoubt about eight rods square, flanked on the right by a breastwork which extended in a northerly direction to some marshy land, and which commanded both the city and the shipping. The guns of the fleet were quickly turned on the bold provincials, and the roar of cannon awoke the citizens of Boston to behold a conflict in which they had the deepest interest. The Americans continued to work under the shower of shot and shell, strengthening their fortifications for the desperate struggle they felt was at hand. General Artemas Ward, who commanded the colonial army, was not as prompt as he ought to have been in sending reinforcements to Breed's Hill, but at length Stark's New Hampshire regiment and Colonel Reed's regiment were permitted to join the men in the redoubt. The British sent 3000 of their best troops to carry the works by assault. Thousands of the people of Boston and neighborhood, many of whom had fathers, sons, brothers and husbands in the patriot lines, looked from hill and housetop and balcony as the regulars marched steadily to the attack. At the redoubt all was silent, although the British ships and a battery on Copp's Hill hurled shots at the Americans. Nearer and nearer marched the British. They were almost close enough for the final charge, when suddenly at the word "Fire!"—up sprang 1500 Americans and poured a storm of bullets into the advancing enemy. Down went the British platoons as before the scythe of death. Whole companies were swept away. The survivors could not stand before the deadly hail, and back they fell to the shore. Some shots had been fired at the British from houses in Charlestown, and General Gage gave orders to fire that place. The British advanced again, the flames from the burning town adding to the terror of the scene. Again the hurricane of bullets drove them back to the shore. Strengthened by fresh troops the British marched up a third time to the hillside now scattered with their dying and their dead. British artillery planted as near as possible to the Americans swept the redoubt and the patriots, their ammunition failing at this critical time, were obliged to give way before the overwhelming charge of the grenadiers. The Americans escaped in good order across Charlestown Neck, losing General Joseph Warren, who fell when leaving the redoubt. Colonel Prescott was in command throughout the engagement, although both General Warren and General Israel Putnam had taken a gallant part in the battle, but without any command. The fight lasted about two hours, and the British lost 1054 killed and wounded out of about 3000 troops engaged, and the provincials lost 450 killed and wounded. The British ministry looked on the result as virtually a defeat for their troops.
Washington reached Cambridge on the second of July. He found the spirit of the troops admirable, but their discipline wretched, and the leaders divided by dissension in regard to the commands. He labored assiduously and successfully to bring order out of comparative chaos. The Congress made another effort to prevent a conflict with Great Britain by sending a respectful statement of America's case in a petition to the King. He refused to receive it, and issued a proclamation calling for troops to put down the rebellion in America. King George showed how little he regarded humanity in dealing with his revolted subjects by appealing to semi-barbarous Russia for troops to use against the colonists. The Empress Catharine refused to sell her people for such a purpose, and the British monarch then turned to the petty princes of Germany, where he bought 20,000 soldiers like so many cattle for the American war. As many of these were from Hesse Cassel, they were known as Hessians. It being now evident that a peaceable arrangement, short of abject surrender, could not be hoped for, the Continental Congress prepared to push the war with vigor, and if possible to secure a union of all British America against the enemy of American liberty.
The invasion of Canada in the latter part of 1775 by American expeditions under command of General Richard Montgomery and Colonel Benedict Arnold, was prompted by expectation that the French inhabitants of that region would gladly espouse the cause of the colonists, for whom they had shown sympathy when the people Of Boston were in distress on account of the closing of their port. Only a few Canadians rallied to the American standard; the majority remained indifferent. Montgomery captured Montreal, but in the attack on Quebec he was slain, and Arnold wounded in the leg, and the Americans were defeated with a loss of about four hundred killed, wounded and prisoners. The death of Montgomery was a severe blow to the American cause. He was one of the ablest commanders in the service at a time when the colonists were much in need of practiced military men, and even in England he was held in high regard. "Curse on his virtues," said Lord North; "they've undone his country."
In March, 1776, General William Howe evacuated Boston and sailed to Halifax, taking with him a number of refugees. Howe busied himself in Halifax in fitting out a powerful expedition for the capture of New York, where the people had taken up with enthusiasm the cause of the colonies. Late in April General Washington moved to New York and prepared to defend that city. Meantime Lord Dunmore, royal governor of Virginia, after endeavoring to excite an insurrection of the slaves, had been conducting a predatory and incendiary warfare against the colony, until driven away by the militia, when he sailed off in a fleet loaded with plunder. In North Carolina, where an association of patriots had declared for independence at Mecklenburg as early as May, 1775, a severe battle occurred at Moore's Creek Bridge, February 26, 1776, between the patriots, led by Colonel James Moore, and the loyalists or Tories, many of whom had fought for the Young Pretender in Scotland, but were now equally devoted to the House of Hanover. The Tories were completely routed, and the plans of the British to make North Carolina a centre of royalist operations were disconcerted.
The Declaration of Independence was now inevitable. Many of the colonists, including a large proportion of the well-to-do, were unwilling to throw off allegiance to the crown, and these were known as Tories and punished as traitors whenever they gave active expression to their sentiments. The majority of the people, however, were for complete separation from England, and were ready to support that determination with their lives. Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, made a motion in the Continental Congress, June 7, 1776, "that these united colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved." John Adams, of Massachusetts, seconded the motion, and a committee was appointed to prepare a Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia, was the author of the Declaration, which, after warm debate, was adopted by the unanimous vote of the thirteen colonies July 4, 1776. On the same day the news arrived that the British commander, Sir Henry Clinton, had been repulsed in an attempt to enter Charleston harbor. North and south the United States were free from the enemy, and although it was but the lull before the storm, the Americans had thus a precious opportunity to put down malcontents and to gather strength for the coming struggle.
The British formed a plan to cut the Union in two by capturing New York, and establishing a chain of British posts from Manhattan to Canada. While General Carleton operated against the Americans from the Canadian frontier a large British fleet, commanded by Admiral Richard Howe, arrived in the harbor of New York, carrying an army of 25,000 men, led by his brother, General William Howe. The Americans had but 9000 men to defend Brooklyn Heights against the overwhelming force with which Howe attacked their position. The patriot troops, especially the Marylanders, fought gallantly, but were driven back by superior numbers. Great credit is due to Washington for his skill and success in saving the greater part of the army by timely withdrawal across the East River to New York. Howe occupied the city of New York a few days later, Washington retreating slowly, and fighting the British at every favorable opportunity.
It was at the time of Washington's retirement from New York that Nathan Hale, a young American captain, was put to death as a spy by the British. Hale volunteered to seek some information desired by the American commander-in-chief, and was betrayed, within the British lines, by a Tory who recognized him. He was treated most brutally by the British Provost-Marshal Cunningham, being denied the attendance of a clergyman and the use of a Bible. Letters which Hale wrote to his mother and other dear ones were torn up by the provost-marshal in the victim's presence. Hale was hanged September 22, 1776. His last words were "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." These words appear on the base of the statue erected to his memory in the City Hall Park, New York.
General Howe concluded to move on Philadelphia, and his object becoming known to Washington, the latter directed General Charles Lee, who was in command of about 7000 men at Northcastle, on the east side of the Hudson, to join him at Hackensack on the west side, so that the whole force of the Americans could be used to oppose Howe. Lee disregarded these orders, thereby making it necessary for Washington to retreat into Pennsylvania. Lee then led his own troops to Norristown, where he was captured by the British outside of his own lines while taking his ease at a tavern. Lee was an English adventurer of loud pretensions, probably not lacking in courage, but wholly mercenary and unprincipled. That so worthless and dangerous a person should have been trusted with high command in the American army is explained by the dearth of military leaders at the opening of the war. The capture of Lee was fortunate for the Americans, as he was succeeded by General John Sullivan, an excellent officer, who at once led his troops to the assistance of Washington. Thus reinforced the commander-in-chief was enabled to strike a blow at the British which revived the drooping spirits of the patriots.
The battle of Trenton would not have been so memorable but for the dejected condition of the patriot cause at the time it was fought, and the evidence which it gave to England and the world at large of General Washington's prudent daring and military genius. At twilight on Christmas night, 1776, General Washington prepared to pass the Delaware with 2000 men to attack 1500 of the enemy, chiefly Hessians, who were stationed under the Hessian Colonel Rall at Trenton. It was a dark and bitter night, and the Delaware was covered with floating ice. Boats had been hastily procured, and with much difficulty against the swift current the troops were borne across. A storm of sleet and snow added to the hardship of crossing, and not until four o'clock in the morning did the little army stand on the opposite bank. The Americans advanced in two columns, one led by General Washington, the other by General Sullivan. The Germans had spent Christmas in carousing, and although it was full daylight when the Americans reached Trenton, they were not discovered until they were already on the Hessian pickets. Colonel Rall, aroused from slumber, quickly put his men in fighting order. The battle was quick and sharp. Colonel Rall fell mortally wounded; and the main body of his troops, attempting to retreat, were captured. Some British light horse and infantry escaped, but all the Hessians, their standards, cannon and small-arms, fell into the hands of the Americans. The victory gave new vigor to the friends of independence, depressed the Tories, and astonished the British, who had looked upon the war as virtually over. General Howe was afraid to march upon Philadelphia, lest Washington should cut off his supplies, and for five months longer the invaders remained in the vicinity of New York. The patriots were further encouraged by the arrival in April, 1777, of the Marquis de Lafayette, of General Kalb, known as Baron de Kalb, and other foreign military officers of real merit and sincere devotion to the American cause. These offered their services to the Congress, and received commissions in the Continental army.
Sir John Burgoyne's Campaign—His Bombastic Proclamation—The Tragic Story of Jane McCrea—Her Name a Rallying Cry—Washington Prevents Rowe from Aiding Burgoyne—The Battle of Brandywine—Burgoyne Routed at Saratoga—He Surrenders with All His Army—Articles of Confederation Submitted to the Several States—Effect of the Surrender of Burgoyne —Franklin the Washington of Diplomacy—Attitude of France—France Concludes to Assist the United States—Treaties of Commerce and Alliance —King George Prepares for War with France—The Winter at Valley Forge —Conspiracy to Depose Washington Defeated—General Howe Superseded by Sir Henry Clinton—The Battle of Monmouth—General Charles Lee's Treachery—Awful Massacre of Settlers in the Wyoming Valley—General Sullivan Defeats the Six Nations—Brilliant Campaign of George Rogers Clark—Failure of the Attempt to Drive the British from Rhode Island.
The disastrous campaign of General Sir John Burgoyne in the summer of 1777, against northern New York, was the turning point of the war. The object of the invasion was to seize the Hudson River, and divide the colonies by a continuous British line from Canada to the city of New York. Had the plan succeeded it would have been an almost fatal blow to the cause of independence. Its failure was not due to the courage or skill of any one American commander, but to the indomitable resolution with which every step of the invading army was resisted by Americans of every rank. The whole country rose as one man to oppose and harass the enemy, and it seemed as if every militiaman understood that the fate of his country depended on the repulse or destruction of the foe.
Burgoyne's plan of campaign, as concerted with the British ministry, was to march to Albany with a large force by way of Lakes Champlain and George, while another force under Sir Henry Clinton advanced up the Hudson. At the same time Colonel Barry St. Leger was to make a diversion by way of Oswego, on the Mohawk River. Burgoyne began his advance in June, with about eight thousand men. Proceeding up Lake Champlain he compelled the Americans to evacuate Crown Point, Ticonderoga and Fort Anne. His first blunder was in failing to avail himself of the water carriage of Lake George, at the head of which there was a direct road to Fort Edward. Instead of taking this course he spent three weeks in cutting a road through the woods, and building bridges over swamps. This gave time for General Schuyler to gather the yeomanry in arms, and for Washington to send troops from the southern department to reinforce Schuyler. Burgoyne also lost valuable time in a disastrous attack on Bennington.
Burgoyne issued a proclamation in most bombastic style. In the preamble he stated, besides his military and other distinctions, that he was "author of a celebrated tragic comedy called the 'Blockade of Boston.'" He accused the patriots of enormities "unprecedented in the inquisitions of the Romish Church," and offered to give encouragement, employment and assistance to all who would aid the side of the king. "I have but to give stretch," he concluded, "to the Indian forces under my direction—and they amount to thousands—to overtake the hardened enemies of Great Britain and America. I consider them the same wherever they lurk. If notwithstanding these endeavors and sincere inclination to assist them the frenzy of hostility should remain, I trust I shall stand acquitted in the eyes of God and of men in denouncing and executing the vengeance of the State against the willful outcasts. The messengers of justice and of wrath await them in the field, and devastation, famine, and every concomitant horror that a reluctant but indispensable prosecution of military duty must occasion will bar the way to their return."
While Burgoyne's array was lying near Fort Edward occurred the tragic death of Jane McCrea, celebrated in song and story. Jane was the second daughter of the Reverend James McCrea, a Presbyterian clergyman of Scottish descent, and she made her home with her brother, John, at Fort Edward, New York. John McCrea was a patriot, but Jane had for her lover an officer in Burgoyne's army named David Jones, to whom she was betrothed. Between John McCrea and David Jones an estrangement had arisen on account of their opposite political sympathies, but Jane clung to her affianced. "My dear Jenny," wrote Jones, under date of July 11, 1777, "these are sad times, but I think the war will end this year, as the rebels cannot hold out, and will see their error. By the blessing of Providence I trust we shall yet pass many years together in peace. * * * No more at present, but believe me yours affectionately till death." How faithfully he kept that promise!
Jane McCrea well deserved her lover's devotion. She is described as a young woman of rare accomplishments, great personal attractions, and of a remarkable sweetness of disposition. She was of medium stature, finely formed, of a delicate blonde complexion. Her hair was of a golden brown and silken lustre, and when unbound trailed upon the ground. Her father was devoted to literary pursuits, and she thus had acquired a taste for reading, unusual in one of her age—about twenty-four years—in those early times.
When Burgoyne's army was about four miles from Fort Edward, David Jones sent a party of Indians, under Duluth, a half-breed, to escort his betrothed to the British camp, where they were to be married at once by Chaplain Brudenell, Lady Harriet Acland and Madame Riedesel, wife of General Riedesel, in command of the Brunswick contingent, having consented to be present at the wedding. It had been arranged that Duluth should halt in the woods about a quarter of a mile from the house of a Mrs. McNeil where Jane was waiting to join him at the appointed time. Meanwhile it happened that a fierce Wyandotte chief named Le Loup, with a band of marauding Indians from the British camp, drove in a scouting party of Americans, and stopping on their return from the pursuit at Mrs. McNeil's house, took her and Jane captive, with the intention of taking them to the British camp. On their way back Le Loup and his followers encountered Duluth and his party. The half-breed stated his errand, and demanded that Jane be given up to him. Le Loup insisted on escorting her. Angry words followed and Le Loup, in violent passion, shot Jane through the heart. Then the savage tore the scalp from his victim and carried it to the British camp. Mrs. McNeil had arrived at the camp a little in advance, having been separated from Jane before the tragedy. She at once recognized the beautiful tresses. David Jones never recovered from the shock. It is said that he was so crushed by the terrible blow, and disgusted with the apathy of Burgoyne in refusing to punish the miscreant who brought the scalp of Jane McCrea to the camp as a trophy, claiming the bounty offered for such prizes by the British, that he asked for a discharge and upon this being refused deserted, having first rescued the precious relic of his beloved from the savages. Jones retired to the Canadian wilderness, and spent the remainder of his life unmarried, a silent and melancholy man.
The murder of Jane McCrea fired New York. From every farm, from every village, from every cabin in the woods the men of America thronged to avenge her death. Her name was a rallying cry along the banks of the Hudson and in the mountains of Vermont, and "her death contributed in no slight degree to Burgoyne's defeat, which became a precursor and principal cause of American independence."
The force of about two thousand men, whom Colonel Barry St. Leger led into the forests of what is now Oneida County, met stout resistance, and but for the Indian allies of the British, led by the great Mohawk chief, Joseph Brant, St. Leger's troops would probably have been destroyed or made captive. The fierce battle of Oriskany, in which the brave General Herkimer received a fatal wound, was a patriot victory, but it gave St. Leger a respite. When he heard that Benedict Arnold was approaching with troops sent by General Schuyler, to give him battle, he retreated to Lake Ontario, shattering Burgoyne's hopes of aid from the Tories of the Mohawk Valley. Meanwhile Congress had relieved General Schuyler from command in the North, and appointed Horatio Gates in his place. Gates was not a man of ability, but he was ably seconded in his operations against Burgoyne by Benedict Arnold.
General Howe had intended to take Philadelphia and then co-operate with Burgoyne in inflicting a final and crushing blow on the Americans, but the Fabian strategy of Washington again proved too much for the British. Howe being prevented by Washington from crossing New Jersey with his army, undertook an expedition by sea. He sailed up Chesapeake Bay, marched northward with 18,000 men to Brandywine Creek, and there met Washington with 11,000, on the eleventh of September. The British held the field, but Washington retreated slowly, disputing every foot of ground, and it was not until the twenty-sixth of September that Howe entered Philadelphia. Washington attacked the British encampment at Germantown at daybreak on the fourth of October, and attempted to drive the British into the Schuyikill River. One American battalion fired into another by mistake, and this unhappy accident probably saved the British from another Trenton on a larger scale. Howe was unable to send any assistance to Burgoyne until it was too late to save that commander.
Burgoyne found his progress stopped by the intrenchments of the Americans under General Gates, at Bemis Heights, nine miles south of Saratoga, and he endeavored to extricate himself from his perilous position by fighting. Two battles were fought on nearly the same ground, on September 19, and October 7. The first was indecisive; the second resulted in so complete a rout for the British that, leaving his sick and wounded to the compassion of Gates, Burgoyne retreated to Saratoga. There finding his provisions giving out, and that there was no chance for escape, he capitulated with his entire army, October 17, 1777.
The Congress had, by common consent, represented national sovereignty from the beginning of the war, but it was not until November 15, 1777, that articles of confederation were approved by the Congress, and submitted to the States. This compact, entitled "Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union," was but little more than a treaty of mutual friendship on the part of the several States, and was not sanctioned by all of them until near the close of the Revolution. It was too weak to be effective in time of peace, and hardly necessary in time of war, when the common danger gave sufficient assurance of fidelity to the common cause. However, the Articles of Confederation undoubtedly promoted confidence in the stability of the government where that confidence was most needed, in the European cabinets adverse to British dominion in America.
The surrender of Burgoyne gave to the American cause a status which it had lacked abroad, and it brought into full and effectual exercise the diplomatic side of the struggle for independence. It was then that Franklin showed himself another Washington. "On the great question of the foreign relations of the United States," says Wharton, "it made no matter whether he was alone or surrounded by unfriendly colleagues; it was only through him that negotiations could be carried on with France, for to him alone could the French government commit itself with the consciousness that the enormous confidences reposed in him would be honorably guarded." France, chiefly through the influence of Franklin, had given covert assistance to the colonies from the beginning of the struggle, but the French ministry hesitated to take a decisive step. Fear that the Americans would succumb, and leave France to bear the weight of British hostility, and apprehension that England might grant the demands of the colonists and then turn her forces against European foes, deterred the French government from avowed support of the American cause. The news from Saratoga gave assurance that America would prove a steadfast as well as a powerful ally, and that with the aid of the United States the British empire might be dismembered, and France avenged for her losses and humiliations on the American continent. Nor was revenge the only motive which led France to cast her lot with the revolted colonies. England was already stretching forth to establish her power in India, and France felt that with North America and India, both subject to the British, the maritime and commercial superiority of England would be a menace to other powers.
France did not act without long and careful premeditation on the part of the French crown and its ministers, for the relations between England and her American colonies had been carefully and acutely considered by the statesmen of Versailles long before the point of open revolt was reached. Even when France concluded to throw her resources into the scale on the side of the United States she did not altogether abandon her cautious attitude. The French government acknowledged the United States as a sovereign and treaty-making power; but while the treaty of commerce of February 6, 1778, was absolute and immediate in its effects, the treaty of alliance of the same date was contingent on war taking place between Great Britain and France. It is interesting to note that Benjamin Franklin was the subject of invective by Arthur Lee and others because at the suggestion of Silas Deane, of Connecticut, he procured a clause in the commercial treaty providing for the exportation of molasses to the United States, free of duty, from the French colonies—the molasses being used to manufacture New England rum. Owing to the objection of Lee this clause was afterward abrogated, and the infant industry of making New England rum had to survive without special protection.
Upon receiving formal notice of the treaties Lord North immediately recalled the British ambassador from Paris, and George III. stated, in bad English, to Lord North (the king spelled "Pennsylvania" "Pensilvania," and "wharfs" "warfs") that a corps must be drawn from the army in America sufficient to attack the French islands. There was a state of partial war without a declaration of war. The naval forces of England and France came into unauthorized collision, and actual war was the result.
Pending the negotiations with France Washington and his heroic army spent a winter of painful hardship at Valley Forge, about twenty miles from Philadelphia. Half-naked and half-fed, they shivered in the rude huts which they erected, while their commander, if better housed, showed by actions more than words that he felt every pang of his soldiers. Washington's anxiety at this critical period was greatly aggravated by the conspiracy known as "Conway's Cabal," to depose him from the command, and put in his place the pretentious but incapable Gates. This conspiracy was narrowly defeated by the patriotic firmness of the supporters of Washington in Congress, one of whom—William Duer, of New York, an Englishman by birth—had himself carried in a litter to the floor of Congress, at the risk of his life, to give his vote for Washington. Never on the battlefield did he who is justly called the Father of Our Country show such heroism, such fortitude, such devotion to duty as in face of this combination of deluded men to effect his ruin.
The French alliance was hailed with delight in the United States. George III., who personally controlled military operations, stated his conclusion about a month after the French treaties, and on the day they were formally announced, to act on the defensive, holding New York and Rhode Island, but abandoning Pennsylvania. General William Howe was superseded in command of the British troops by Sir Henry Clinton, who evacuated Philadelphia, departing from that city before dawn of June 18, and starting for New York with about 17,000 effective men. Upon being informed of this movement, Washington hastened after the British. He followed Clinton in a parallel line, ready to strike him at the first favorable opportunity.
When the British were encamped near the courthouse in Freehold, Monmouth County, New Jersey, June 27, Washington made arrangements for an attack on the following morning, should Clinton move. General Charles Lee, who had recently been a prisoner in the hands of the British, was in command of the advance corps. He showed such incapacity and folly in his directions to subordinate and far more competent generals as nearly to wreck the army. His confused and perplexing instructions promoted disorder, chilled the ardor of the troops, and gave the enemy opportunities they never could have gained without this assistance from Lee. As an apparently conclusive blow to the side he pretended to serve Lee ordered a retreat, and the British, from being on the defensive, were speedily in pursuit. Washington's anger, on perceiving the condition of affairs, was terrible. He rebuked Lee with scathing severity, quickly rallied his troops, and checked the pursuing enemy. The Americans, once more in array, confronted their foes. A real battle then followed, with both sides doing their best. Americans and British fought with stubborn courage, the latter at length making a bayonet charge on which depended the fate of the day. They were repulsed with terrible slaughter. The British then retreated a short distance, and both armies rested, the Americans expecting that the conflict would be renewed with dawn. Clinton drew his men off silently under cover of darkness, and was far on his way to New York when the Americans, in the morning, saw his deserted camp. The British lost four officers and 245 non-commissioned officers and privates, besides taking many of the wounded with them. They also lost about 1000 men by desertion while passing through New Jersey. The American loss in the battle of Monmouth was 228 killed, wounded and missing. Many of the missing, who had fled when Lee ordered a retreat, returned to their commands. Lee was superseded and afterward dismissed from the army. It did not come to light until about seventy-five years later, from a document among Sir William Howe's papers, that while a prisoner with the British Lee had suggested to Sir William Howe a plan for subjugating the Americans. This fact throws a flood of light on Lee's conduct at Monmouth.
A few days after the battle of Monmouth occurred the awful massacre of Wyoming. Tories and Indians, led by Colonel John Butler, descended into the happy valley, inhabited by settlers from Butler's native Connecticut, and spread fire, bloodshed and desolation. Hundreds of men, women and children perished, many of them by torture, and the survivors made their way back through the wilderness to Connecticut. Among the victims of this massacre was Anderson Dana, a direct ancestor of Charles Anderson Dana, the well-known editor. Everywhere throughout the borders Tories and Indians carried fire and death, the British sparing no effort to stir up the tribes to hostility. The patriots suffered terribly, but the ferocity of the savages and of their hardly less savage associates made Americans all the more resolute in resisting and overcoming the foes of American independence. General Sullivan invaded the country of the Six Nations, and inflicted upon them a crushing defeat. In the southwest, the frontiersmen, not content with resisting the enemy, followed them into their wilds, and laid the foundations of new States. In the northwest, Colonel Hamilton, the British commander at Detroit, who was more responsible, perhaps, than any other British officer for inciting the Indians to deeds of barbarity, was defeated and captured by George Rogers Clark, and the whole country north of the Ohio River, from the Alleghanies to the Mississippi, became subject to the United States.
The British still held New York and Newport, and Washington planned to capture the former place with the assistance of a fleet which had arrived from France. Some of the vessels drew too much water, however, to cross the bar, and the scheme was abandoned. The French fleet proceeded to Newport, and compelled the British to burn or sink six frigates in that harbor. An American force of about 10,000 men had been fathered under command of General Sullivan to drive the British out of Rhode Island, and it was expected that the troops, numbering 4000, on board the French fleet, would assist in the undertaking. The French admiral, D'Estaing, failed to support Sullivan, and the latter, with a force reduced by the wholesale desertion of the militia to 6000 men, fought a gallant but losing action with the British, and withdrew to the mainland.
The British Move Upon the South—Spain Accedes to the Alliance Against England—Secret Convention Between France and Spain—Capture of Stony Point—John Paul Jones—The Bon Homme Richard and the Serapis—A Thrilling Naval Combat—Wretched Condition of American Finances— Franklin's Heavy Burden—The Treason of Benedict Arnold—Capture of André—Escape of Arnold—André Executed as a Spy—Sir Henry Clinton Captures Charleston, General Lincoln and His Army—Lord Cornwallis Left in Command in the South—The British Defeat Gates Near Camden, South Carolina—General Nathaniel Greene Conducts a Stubborn Campaign Against Cornwallis—The Latter Retreats Into Virginia—Siege of Yorktown— Cornwallis Surrenders—"Oh, God; it is All Over!"
Toward the close of 1778, the British undertook to conquer the Southern States, beginning with Georgia, where an expedition by sea would be within reach of aid from the British troops occupying Florida. The American forces in Georgia were weak in numbers, and although bravely led by General Robert Howe, they were unable to resist the British. Savannah fell, and Georgia passed under the rule of the invaders, the royal governor being reinstated. To counterbalance this discouragement news arrived from Europe early in 1779 that Spain had acceded to the Franco-American combination against England. Spain, unlike France, sent no troops to America to assist the patriots, although the hostile attitude of the Spaniards toward Great Britain, and the capture of the British post of St. Joseph by a Spanish expedition from St. Louis, in 1781, aided in strengthening the American cause in the West, and making the British less aggressive in that direction.
Recent disclosures have shown that the secret convention between France and Spain, at this time, was in no sense hostile to American interests, as at first asserted and afterward intimated by the historian Bancroft. On the contrary, Spain bound herself not to lay down arms until the independence of the United States should be recognized by Great Britain, while the condition that Spanish territory held by England should be restored to Spain did not militate against the territorial claims of the United States. It was clearly better for the United States, looking forward to future expansion, that adjoining territory should be held by Spain in preference to England. The history of the past hundred years proves this. Canada remains British, while every foot of former Spanish territory in North America is now part of the United States.
The summer of 1779 witnessed General Anthony Wayne's memorable exploit, the capture of Stony Point. The fort, situated at the King's Ferry, on the Hudson, stood upon a rocky promontory, connected with the mainland by a causeway across a narrow marsh. This causeway was covered by the tide at high water. Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson commanded the garrison, consisting of a regiment of foot, some grenadiers and artillery. General Wayne led his troops, the Massachusetts light infantry, through defiles in the mountains, and moved on the fort about midnight. The Americans went to the attack in two columns, with unloaded muskets and fixed bayonets. They were unseen until within pistol-shot of the pickets. Undeterred by the hasty discharge of musketry and cannon the Americans pressed on with the bayonet, the two columns meeting in the centre of the fort. The garrison surrendered, and the Americans, after removing the ordnance and stores to West Point, and destroying the works, abandoned the place.
What American schoolboy's heart does not thrill at the name of John Paul Jones, that redoubtable sailor, who carried the American flag into English seas, and made Britons feel in some degree the injuries their king was inflicting on America! John Paul Jones was a Scotchman by birth; an American by adoption. His original name was John Paul, and he added the name of Jones after taking up his abode in Virginia. As early as 1775, when Congress determined to organize a navy, Jones was commissioned as first lieutenant, and in command of the sloop Providence he made several important captures of British merchant vessels. As commander of the Ranger, in 1777, Jones captured the British man-of-war Drake, made successful incursions on the British coast, and seized many valuable prizes.
In August, 1779, Jones started on a cruise in command of an old Indiaman, which he called, in compliment to Franklin, the Bon Homme Richard. Associated with the Bon Homme Richard were the Alliance and the Pallas, and one smaller vessel officered by Frenchmen, but under the American flag. On September 23, Jones encountered, off Flamborough Head, a fleet of forty British merchantmen, under convoy of the Serapis, Captain Pearson, of forty-four guns, and the Countess of Scarborough, a ship of twenty guns. Regardless of the enemy's strength the American commander gave the signal for battle. Unfortunately Captain Landais of the Alliance was subject to fits of insanity and had been put in command of that ship against the wishes of Jones. Landais failed to obey orders and was worse than useless during the fight. Jones was however gallantly supported by the Pallas, which engaged and captured the Countess of Scarborough, leaving Jones a free field with his principal antagonist, the Serapis. No fiercer naval conflict has been recorded in history. The fight lasted from seven o'clock in the evening until eleven o'clock, most of the time in darkness. The Bon Homme Richard got so close to the Serapis in the beginning of the battle that their spars and rigging became entangled together, and Jones attempted to board the British vessel. A stubborn hand-to-hand struggle ensued, Jones and his men being repulsed. Then the Bon Homme Richard dropped loose from her antagonist, and with their guns almost muzzle to muzzle, the two vessels poured broadsides into each other. The American guns did destructive work, the Serapis catching fire in several places.
About half past nine the moon rose on the fearful conflict. The Bon Homme Richard caught fire at this time, while the water poured in through rents made by British cannon. The two vessels had again come closer, but not so as to prevent the guns from being handled. While the cannon roared and the flames shot up, the two crews again met in desperate hand-to-hand strife, for it was evident that one of the two vessels must be lost. By the light of the flames Jones saw that the mainmast of the Serapis was cut almost in two. Quickly he gave the order, and another double-headed shot finished the work. Captain Pearson, who had commanded his ship most gallantly, hauled down his flag and surrendered. Alluding to the fact that the British government had proclaimed Jones a pirate, Pearson said: "It is painful to deliver up my sword to a man who has fought with a rope around his neck." Jones took possession of the Serapis, and the Bon Homme Richard sank beneath the waves the second day after the engagement. The Congress voted to Jones a gold medal and the thanks of the nation. Franklin's report of October 17, 1779, to the Commissioners of the Navy, giving news of the victory, shows that the American cruisers were causing great devastation to British commerce.
The exploits of Anthony Wayne and Paul Jones served to lighten the gloom caused by the defeat of General Lincoln in his attempt to recapture Savannah, and by the depressed condition of American finances, which made it difficult to carry on the war. It was the earnest desire of Congress to push the struggle vigorously, and large sums of money were necessary for that purpose. The Continental currency issued under authority of Congress had so decreased in purchasing power as to be almost worthless; the army suffered great distress for lack of clothing and food, and the supply of munitions of war fell far short of military needs. Benjamin Franklin labored unceasingly to meet the incessant drafts upon him as agent of the United States in France, and but for the unbounded confidence which Louis XVI. and his great minister, Vergennes, had in Franklin's assurances, the United States might have been so paralyzed financially as to fall a prey to Great Britain. It was in the midst of this gloom and uncertainty that General Benedict Arnold, the hero of Quebec and Saratoga, sought to sell his country to the British.
An able general and as brave a soldier as wore the American uniform, Arnold was bitterly disappointed because he failed to receive from Congress all the recognition which he thought he deserved. He might not, however, have become a traitor but for his pecuniary difficulties, while undoubtedly the Tory sympathies of his wife, whom he married in Philadelphia in 1778, had a marked influence upon him. In July. 1780, Arnold, at his own request, was appointed by Washington to command West Point, the great American fortress commanding the Hudson River. The capture of West Point by the British would have accomplished for their cause what Burgoyne had failed to achieve—the cutting off of the Northern from the Middle and Southern States, and the establishment of the British in an almost impregnable position on the Hudson. Arnold entered into negotiations with Sir Henry Clinton, the British commander at New York, for the surrender of West Point. For this service Arnold was to be made a brigadier-general in the British army and to receive $50,000 in gold. Major John André, adjutant-general of the British army, conducted the correspondence on behalf of Clinton. André went up the Hudson in the British sloop of war Vulture, and had a secret meeting with Arnold near Haverstraw. It was arranged between them that Clinton should sail up the Hudson with a strong force and attack West Point, and Arnold, after a show of resistance, would surrender the post. When André was ready to go back to New York the Vulture had been compelled to drop down stream, and André had to cross the river and proceed on horseback. He was about entering Tarrytown, when a man armed with a gun, sprang suddenly from the thicket, and seizing the reins of his bridle exclaimed: "Where are you bound?" At the same instant two more ran up, and André was a prisoner. He offered them gold, his horse and permanent provision from the English government if they would let him escape, but the young men—John Paulding, David Williams and Isaac Van Wart—rejected all his offers, and insisted on taking him to the nearest American post. André had a pass from Arnold in which the former was called "John Anderson." Colonel Jameson, commander of the post to which André was brought, did not suspect any treason on the part of Arnold, and allowed André to send a letter to that general.
Meantime Washington, who had gone to Hartford to consult with the French general Rochambeau about making an attack on New York, returned sooner than expected. Hamilton and Lafayette, of Washington's staff, went forward to breakfast with Arnold, while Washington was inspecting a battery. At the breakfast table André's letter was handed to Arnold. The traitor perceived at once that discovery was inevitable, and excusing himself to his guests as calmly as if going out on an ordinary errand, he went to his wife's room, embraced her, and bade her farewell. Mounting a horse of one of his aides, Arnold rode swiftly to the river bank. There he entered his barge and was rowed to the Vulture.
André was tried by court-martial on the charge of being a spy, convicted and executed October 2, 1780. The captors of André were rewarded with a silver medal and $200 a year for life. Arnold received the reward for which he had offered to betray his country. Washington, who was far from being vindictive, made repeated attempts to get possession of Arnold in order to punish him for his treason.
While the war was languishing in the North it was being carried on with vigor in the South. Sir Henry Clinton, in the spring of 1780, captured the city of Charleston, with General Lincoln and all his army. Clinton then returned to New York, leaving Lord Cornwallis in command of the British. Another American army, mostly militiamen and new recruits, many of whom had never handled a bayonet, was formed in North Carolina, and placed unfortunately under the command of the incompetent Gates. The British met Gates at Sander's Creek, near Camden, and after a sharp conflict the Americans were completely routed. British and Tories were now more barbarous than ever in their treatment of patriots who fell into their hands, and repeated executions of Americans on pretended charges of violating compulsory oaths of allegiance, or no charges at all, excited thirst for retribution among the friends of liberty. General Nathaniel Greene, of Quaker birth, but one of the greatest soldiers of the Revolution, was sent to command a new army of the South; with Daniel Morgan, William Washington and Henry Lee—known as "Light-horse Harry" and father of the Confederate commander, Robert E. Lee—as his lieutenants. Morgan, at Cowpens, annihilated Tarleton's Legion, which had committed many cruelties in South Carolina. Greene fought the British at Guilford, Hobkirk's Hill and Eutaw Springs, and although he did not win a battle, he left the enemy, on each occasion, in much worse condition than before the encounter. Cornwallis, the British commander, although not defeated, was becoming weaker and weaker, and he retreated into Virginia, from an enemy whose every repulse was a British disaster.
The final act in the mighty drama was now approaching. From the Potomac to the confines of Florida the Southland was aroused against the British as it never could have been aroused except for the barbarities which Cornwallis perpetrated and sanctioned. The British commander was behind the intrenchments at Yorktown with an army of about eight thousand men and a horde of Tories who had been willing agents in carrying out against their own countrymen the atrocious decrees which for a time made a Poland of the Carolinas. Sir Henry Clinton, thoroughly deceived by the movements of Washington and Rochambeau, was anxious only to protect New York, and the victorious fleet of France was prepared to cut off the escape of Cornwallis by the sea. Washington and Rochambeau, with the allied armies, marched against Yorktown from their rendezvous at Williamsburg on September 28. They drove in the British outposts, and began siege operations so promptly and vigorously that the place was completely invested on the thirtieth by a semi-circular line of the allied forces, each wing resting on the York River. The Americans held the right; the French the left. A small body of British at Gloucester, opposite Yorktown, was beset by a force consisting of French dragoons and marines, and Virginia militia. Heavy ordnance was brought from the French ships, and on the afternoon of October 9, the artillery opened on the British. Red-hot balls were hurled upon the British vessels in the river, and the flames shooting up from a 44-gun ship showed that fire was doing its work. Under cover of night parallels were thrown up closer and closer to the British lines, and the besieged saw the chain which they could not break tightening around them. The Americans and French carried by storm two redoubts which commanded the trenches, and now Cornwallis had to take his choice between flight or surrender, if flight were possible. He determined to flee, but a terrible storm made the passing of the river too dangerous, and a few troops who had crossed over were brought back to Yorktown.
French and Americans poured shot and shell into the British intrenchments, and the bombardment grew heavier day by day. The superior forces and strong situation of the besiegers made it impossible to break through their lines. It would not even have been a forlorn hope. No course now remained but to surrender. Cornwallis sought to make the best terms possible. He has been severely and plausibly criticised for abandoning the Tory refugees to American justice and vengeance. Horace Walpole, writing in safe and comfortable quarters, far from siege or battlefield, said that Cornwallis "ought to have declared that he would die rather than sacrifice the poor Americans who had followed him from loyalty, against their countrymen." Had Cornwallis so declared he would doubtless have had a chance to die without any objection on the part of the patriots on whose friends and relatives he had inflicted devilish cruelties. Cornwallis was obliged to choose between perishing with all his army, or accepting the terms which his conquerors saw fit to grant. Apart from the formal articles of surrender he obtained the informal consent of the allies that certain Tories most obnoxious to their countrymen should be permitted to depart to New York in the vessel which carried dispatches from the British commander to Sir Henry Clinton. General Lincoln, who had been compelled to surrender to the royal troops at Charleston in the previous year, received the sword of Cornwallis from General O'Hara, and twenty-eight British captains, each bearing a flag in a case, handed over their colors to twenty-eight American sergeants. The number of troops surrendered was about 7000, and to these were added 2000 sailors, 1500 Tories and 1800 negroes. The British lost during the siege in killed, wounded and missing about 550 men; the Americans lost about 300. The spoils included nearly 8000 muskets, 75 brass and 160 iron cannon and a large quantity of munitions of war and military stores, as well as "about one hundred vessels, above fifty of them square-rigged." On the day after the surrender Washington ordered every American soldier under arrest or in confinement to be set at liberty, and as the next day would be Sunday he directed that divine service should be performed in the several brigades.
"Oh God, it is all over!" exclaimed Lord North, on hearing that Cornwallis had surrendered. And it was all over, although we have Franklin's authority that George III. continued to hope for a revival of his sovereignty over America "on the same terms as are now making with Ireland." These hopes were soon dissipated, and a treaty of peace was finally signed at Paris, September 23, 1783. The British troops sailed away from New York on November 25, and General Washington, after a tender parting with his officers, resigned his commission. A great number of Tory refugees departed from New York with the British, but it is doubtful whether their lot was happier than that of those who remained to accept the new order of things. It is only necessary to glance at the diary of Hutchinson, the royalist governor of Massachusetts, to perceive that, even under the most favorable circumstances, the situation of the exiled Tories was miserable indeed. Many of them settled in Canada, there to hand down to their descendants feelings of antipathy which, in America, have long been discarded. Many of them wisely returned to the United States, and were magnanimously forgiven and received as brethren and citizens. No voice was raised to plead more eloquently in their behalf than that of Patrick Henry. "I feel no objection," he exclaimed, "to the return of those deluded people. They have, to be sure, mistaken their own interests most wofully, and most wofully have they suffered the punishment due to their offences. * * * Afraid of them!—what, sir—shall we who have laid the proud British lion at our feet, now be afraid of his whelps?"
Condition of the United States at the Close of the Revolution—New England Injured and New York Benefited Commercially by the Struggle— Luxury of City Life—Americans an Agricultural People—The Farmer's Home—Difficulty in Traveling—Contrast Between North and South—Southern Aristocracy—Northern Great Families—White Servitude—The Western Frontier—Karly Settlers West of the Mountains—A Hardy Population— Disappearance of the Colonial French—The Ordinance of 1787—Flood of Emigration Beyond the Ohio.
Peace with Great Britain left the United States free and independent, but burdened with the expenses of the war, and agitated by the problems which independence presented. The soldiers of the Continental Army went back to their firesides and their fields, and trade began to show signs of revival. New England's commercial interests had received a serious blow from the Revolution, while New York city, occupied by the British throughout the war, the headquarters of the royal forces with their lavish expenditures, and its commerce protected and convoyed by the British fleet, was benefited instead of injured by the struggle. The merchants of New York, whether attached or not at heart to the royalist cause, put business before patriotism, while the flag of St. George floated over their city, and urged the British to severer measures against the "rebels" in order that New York's mercantile interests might be promoted and safeguarded. Apart from natural advantages, next in importance to the Erie Canal as a cause of New York's leading commercial position is the fact that the British were in possession of the city during the Revolution.
There was considerable luxury in city life then as now. "By Revolutionary times love of dress everywhere prevailed throughout the State of New York," says Mrs. Alice Morse Earle, "a love of dress which caused great extravagance and was noted by all travelers." "If there is a town on the American continent," said the Chevalier de Crevecœur, "where English luxury displayed its follies it is in New York." Philadelphia was not far behind New York in extravagance, notwithstanding Quaker traditions, while Boston, rich in solid wealth, was more conservative in displaying it, and retained in appearance at least something of Puritan simplicity.
The urban residents of those days were, however, insignificant in numbers as compared with the total population. The Americans were an agricultural people, and they were a self-dependent people. The articles of clothing needed in the farmer's home were manufactured in the home; the tailor went around from house to house making into suits the cloth which the family had woven; the school teacher "boarded around" as an equivalent for salary that might otherwise have been paid in worthless currency, and the simple requirements of rural existence were supplied in a large degree by trade and barter without the use of what passed as money. The farmer's cottage stood upon a level sward of green. The kitchen was the living-room, and there the family spent their time when not out at work or retired to rest. It was the largest apartment in the house, and its great fire-place, with a ruddy back-log and pine knots flaming and sparkling on the iron-dogs, offered a most cheerful welcome on a New England winter's night. The baking oven, heated with fine-split dry wood, cooked the frugal but savory meal, which was served up on a solid old-fashioned table, around which the household gathered, first giving thanks to the Giver of all. When not busied with other duties, the housewife pressed with measured round the treadles of the loom, as she twilled the web she was weaving; and as the shades of evening descended the sonorous hum of the spinning-wheel gave token to the young man on courtship intent that the daughter of the house was at home. From the kitchen a door opened into the best room, a cheerless sort of place only thrown open on special occasions, and not to compare in comfort with the kitchen, its high-backed settle and its genial fire, whose glowing ashes seemed to reflect the warmer glow of loving eyes. Other doors from the kitchen opened into sleeping-rooms, although in the larger houses the family usually slept upstairs. The well was used for cooling purposes as well as water supply, and the old oaken bucket suspended from the well-sweep by means of a slender pole, invited the passing stranger to quaff nature's wholesome beverage. Wheeled vehicles were not often seen in the rural districts, horses being commonly used for locomotion. The difficulty of traveling discouraged intercourse between different communities, and a journey from Boston to New York, taking a week by stage-coach, and three or four days by sailing vessel, was a more momentous undertaking than a voyage to Europe now. Few traveled for pleasure. Few took any active interest in public affairs beyond their own neighborhood, or at most their own State, and the bond of the confederation rested loosely on communities now no longer united by the apprehension of common danger.
Between the North and the South the contrast was already ominous of future strife. The Southern planter lived like an aristocrat surrounded by servants and slaves, dispensing hospitality according to his means after the fashion of the British nobility. Cotton had not yet poured the gold of England into the lap of the South, but tobacco held its own as a substantial basis of wealth. In the North, on the other hand, the tiller of the soil was usually its owner, assisted sometimes by indentured servants or slaves, but never himself above the toil which he exacted from others. The North, too, had its great families, descendants of patroons and others who had received large grants of land and enjoyed exceptional privileges, and were now growing in wealth with the increasing value of their property; but the aristocratic Northern families were gradually losing political power and influence, and sinking toward the level of the people; whereas in the South the aristocratic element was arrogating more and more the control of State affairs, and the representation of Southern States in the councils of the nation. In the North also equality was promoted by the potent influence of the Revolution in breaking up the system of servile white labor. Master and man were summoned for the defence of their country; they fought, they suffered and endured together the same privations for a common cause. Distinctions of class were obliterated by the blood that flowed freely for the freedom of all, and what remained of ancient aristocratic prejudice was yet more thoroughly undermined by the example of the great social upheaval in France. Nevertheless the system of white servitude was not entirely abolished until long after the close of the eighteenth century, immigrants to this country frequently selling themselves as "redemptioners" to pay the cost of their passage. The limits of this form of service seldom exceeded seven years. No taint was apparently attached to it, and many a worthy family had a "redemptioner" for its first American ancestor.
Looking to the western frontier just after the Revolution, and in particular the forks of the Ohio, we see a population very different in character from that of the older settlements. The peace-loving Quaker clung to the eastern counties, where life and property were secured from raid and reprisal, and formed his ideas of the Indian character and deserts from the red men, who, either Christianized or demoralized, preferred the grudging charity of civilization to the rude and frugal spoils of the chase, or the blood-stained rapine of war. This specimen of Indian was usually so harmless, in some instances perhaps so deserving, that the well-meaning Quaker learned to receive with discredit the stories of horror from the frontier, and discouraged with his voice and influence every step toward the subjection of the hostile Indian and his European allies. Emigrants were forbidden, under stern penalties, to encroach on the Indian domain, and petitions from invaded settlements for arms and assistance, were met with cold indifference or positive refusal. The men and women who, in face of such discouragement, cast their lot beyond the mountains, must have been a hardy set indeed, and made of stuff not likely to yield in a wrestle with wild nature and wilder humanity.
The early inhabitants of that frontier region were of sturdy Scotch and Irish stock. The troublous political times in their native countries doubtless had much to do with their emigration hither. The star of the Stuart line had set never to rise again, and its bright and hopeless flicker, in the days of '45, was extinguished in the blood of Scotland's noblest sons. But while order reigned, content was far from prevailing, and many a brave heart sought, on the distant shore of America, to forget the anguish of the past in the building of a prosperous future. With a final sigh for "Lochaber No More," the Highlander turned his gaze from the lochs and glens of his fathers, and crossed the ocean to that new land of promise where every man might be a laird, and a farm might be had for the asking, where no Culloden would remind him of the fate of his kindred, and his children could grow up far from the barbarous laws that crushed out the spirit of the ancient clans. Along the banks of the Monongahela those Scotch and Irish settlers built their rude cabins under the guns of Fort Pitt, guarded—strange irony of fate—from a savage enemy by the very flag which flaunted oppression in their native Britain and Ireland. That they learned to love their adopted land who can question? A Virginian cavalier, accustomed to the graces and politesse of a slave-owning aristocracy, saw fit to sneer at their humble abodes, and their lack of the finer accessories of civilization, forgetting that a cabin is more often than a palace the cradle of the purest patriotism, and that as true American hearts beat in those huts in the wilderness as in the courtly precincts of Richmond.
But the "poor mechanics and laborers" exercised a tremendous influence on the destinies of the young, and as yet disunited republic. They were freemen. Pittsburg, the outpost of civilization, had no slave within sight of its redoubts, and the spirit of freedom which hovered there, found rest and refreshment for its broader flight toward the great northwest. The decision of 1780, which saved Pittsburg to Pennsylvania, preserved it as a stronghold of freedom and of free labor, and now it far surpasses in industry, wealth and population the then slave-labor capital of the Old Dominion.
It is an interesting fact that the colonial French left no impress on the site where they made such a gallant stand for New France. They have vanished as completely as the Indian. In Detroit, in St. Louis, French ancestry can be traced in families of high position and honorable lineage. Such families are to those cities what the Knickerbockers are to New York. They give a gracious flavor to society; they are a link between the dim and heroic past and the dashing, eager, practical present; they add a dreamy fascination to the social landscape, like the lingering haze of morning illumined by the rays of the sun fast mounting to zenith. Where Duquesne stood, neither track nor mark remains of the volatile, daring and glory-loving race whose lily flag greeted the bearers of brave Beaujeu's remains from the fatal field of Braddock. No authentic trace has been discovered even of the fortifications which they erected, and Fort Duquesne is known only by its tragic place in American history.
The ordinance of 1787, creating the Northwestern Territory, and throwing it open for settlement, at once induced a large emigration to the lands beyond the Ohio. Descendants of the Puritans mingled in the pioneer throng with rangers from Virginia and backwoodsmen from Pennsylvania. The frontiersman in hunting-shirt and moccasins blazed a path for the New Englander in broadcloth coat, velvet collar, bell-crowned hat and heavy boots. These emigrants all possessed valuable qualities for the building up of new States, and they all displayed in the trials which immediately beset them the courage which had carried the nation successfully through the war for independence. They were entering upon a vast and fertile domain which the aboriginal possessors, notwithstanding treaties, did not propose to abandon, and which was the scene of sanguinary conflict before it was finally surrendered.
The Spirit of Disunion—Shays' Rebellion—A National Government Necessary —Adoption of the Constitution—Tariff and Internal Revenue—The Whiskey Insurrection—President Washington Calls Out the Military—Insurgents Surrender—"The Dreadful Night"—Hamilton's Inquisition.
The spirit of disunion was brewing; the people were tax-ridden, the States without credit and the prevailing discontent found expression in riot and rebellion. The insurrection of Daniel Shays and his followers in Massachusetts, the disturbances in western North Carolina and other outbreaks in various parts of the country were but symptoms of radical weakness in the body politic, and of the complete failure of the loose-jointed confederation to command the confidence of the people and maintain the credit of the nation. It became evident that union was as vitally important in peace as in war; that national burdens could only be sustained by a national government, and that the welfare of trade and commerce required one system of interstate laws enforced by the united power of all the States. The adoption of the Federal Constitution created a nation; it created a free government worth all that it had cost; it realized the dream of Franklin and the prediction of Adams; it made possible the American Republic of to-day, and the great work was fittingly crowned with the election of George Washington as first President.
The first business of the new government was to establish the public credit. Alexander Hamilton, Washington's Secretary of the Treasury, proposed with this object a tariff on imports, and a tax on whiskey. To the former the people submitted readily enough; the latter provoked an insurrection which for some time threatened to be formidable. The farmers of the western counties of Pennsylvania—Westmoreland, Fayette, Washington and Allegheny—having no market for grain, in the decade following the Revolution, on account of the absence of large settlements in their vicinity, and the lack of facilities to transport to more distant places, were from necessity compelled to reduce the bulk of their grain by converting it into whiskey. A horse could carry two kegs of eight gallons each, worth about fifty cents per gallon on the western, and one dollar on the eastern side of the mountains, and return with a little iron and salt, the former worth fifteen to twenty cents per pound, the latter five dollars per bushel, at Pittsburg. The still was therefore the necessary appendage of every farm, where the farmer was able to procure it; if he was not he carried his grain to the more wealthy to be distilled. To the large majority of these farmers excise laws were peculiarly odious. The State of Pennsylvania made some attempt, during and just after the Revolution, to enforce an excise law; but without effect. A man named Graham, who had kept a public house in Philadelphia, accepted the appointment of Collector for the western counties. He was assailed, his head shaven and he was threatened with death. Other collectors were equally unsuccessful.
The United States excise law was enacted in March, 1791. While the bill was before Congress, the subject was taken up by the Pennsylvania Legislature, then in session, and resolutions were passed in strong terms against the law, and requesting the senators and representatives, by a vote of thirty-six to eleven, to oppose its passage; the minority voting on the principle that it was improper to interfere with the action of the Federal Government, and not from approval of the measure. The law imposed a tax of from nine to twenty-five cents per gallon, according to strength, upon spirits distilled from grain. To secure the collection of the duties, suitable regulations were made. Inspection districts were established, one or more in each State, with an inspector for each. Distillers were to furnish at the nearest inspection office full descriptions of their buildings, which were always subject to examination by a person appointed for that purpose, who was to gauge and brand the casks; duties to be paid before removal. But to save trouble to small distillers, not in any town or village, they were allowed to pay an annual tax of sixty cents per gallon on the capacity of the still.
Such a measure could not fail to be intensely unpopular, especially among the small farmers to whom the whiskey derived from their grain was the principal source of income and support. To the large distillers the tax was not altogether odious, as they comprehended that the new law would add greatly to their trade by cutting off their lesser rivals, and securing the manufacture of spirits to the well-to-do and well-established few. On the same ground distillers to-day are very generally opposed to the removal of the internal revenue tax on spirits. But popular clamor carried all before it, and it would have been unsafe for any one to openly avow himself in favor of the excise. At a meeting held in Pittsburg, on the seventh of September, 1791, resolutions were adopted denouncing the tax as "operating on a domestic manufacture—a manufacture not equal through the States. It is insulting to the feelings of the people to have their vessels marked, houses painted and ransacked, to be subject to informers gaining by the occasional delinquency of others. It is a bad precedent, tending to introduce the excise laws of Great Britain and of countries where the liberty, property and even the morals of the people are sported with to gratify particular men in their ambitious and interested measures." The duties were likewise denounced as injurious to agricultural interests.
So far as refusal to obey the excise law, and defiance of the Federal officers empowered to enforce it, constituted rebellion, the western counties of Pennsylvania were in a condition of rebellion for over three years. President Washington was patient; the Congress was conciliatory; the State authorities were more than tolerant. General John Neville, a man of great wealth and well-deserved popularity, accepted the office of Inspector of the Revenue. Had he been discovered guilty of a monstrous crime, his popularity could not have more rapidly waned. Albert Gallatin, Brackenridge and other men, respected not only in Pennsylvania, but wherever known in the country at large, took counsel, and appeared to take sides with the multitude in their opposition to the national law. Their motives have been variously interpreted, according to prejudice or favor, but Marshall, in his "Life of Washington," gave the fair and reasonable view of their position when he said that "men of property and intelligence who had contributed to kindle the flame, under the common error of being able to regulate its heat, trembled at the extent of the conflagration. But it had passed the limits assigned to it, and was no longer subject to their control."
The crowning outrage was the burning of Inspector Neville's house, in July, 1794. The inspector made his escape to Pittsburg. He and the United States Marshal were compelled to flee from the town, and on the first of August following, seven thousand armed men assembled at Braddock's Field and marched from thence into Pittsburg. All these men were not hostile to the laws and authority of the United States; many were compelled by threats of violence to go with the majority; not a few were present to restrain the reckless from breaking into open insurrection.
President Washington deemed that the time for action had come. He called upon the States of New Jersey and Pennsylvania for a force of militia sufficient to crush the insurrection, while at the same time he proclaimed amnesty to all who should certify by their signatures their readiness to sustain the government. The insurgents suddenly awakened to the knowledge that they had now the whole power of the United States against them, directed by that arm invulnerable alike to Indian, Frenchman and Briton. Multitudes came to their senses, and signed the pledge that saved them from punishment. Among these were many who had committed the gravest disorders. The United States forces, however, marched into the western counties, and the disturbed region was prostrate under military law.
Old residents of Pittsburg have not yet forgotten the traditions of "The Dreadful Night"—the thirteenth of November, 1794. Without a moment's warning hundreds of citizens were arrested in Allegheny and the adjoining counties, dragged from their beds, and hurried away, half naked, from their frantic wives and weeping children. The arrests, in numerous instances, were attended with every circumstance of barbarity short of death. Prisoners were goaded, with shoeless and bleeding feet, on the road to Pittsburg; numbers of them were tied back to back, and thrown into a wet cellar as a place of detention. One man, whose child was dying, came forward voluntarily when the arrests were being made, hoping that humanity would prompt his release on a statement of his condition. He, too, was tied, and thrown in with the rest. When he obtained his liberty his child was dead. Among the prisoners was George Robinson, chief burgess of Pittsburg, a peaceable law-abiding man, who had never taken any share in the agitation against the excise. Brigadier-General White appears to have been chiefly responsible for the brutal treatment of the captives. When one of them, a veteran of the Revolution, lagged behind, owing to physical infirmity, White ordered him fastened to a horse's tail, and dragged along. The cruel command was not obeyed. On the following day, of about three hundred prisoners, all but ten were discharged, there being no evidence against the others. Of eighteen alleged offenders who were sent to Philadelphia, and marched through the streets, with the label "Insurgent" on their hats, but two were found guilty of crime. One was convicted of arson, another of robbing the United States mail, when the mail was intercepted with a view of capturing letters from the Federal officers in the western counties to the authorities at the capital. In both instances President Washington granted first a reprieve, then a pardon.
Alexander Hamilton held an inquisitorial investigation to ascertain whether a blow had been meditated at the republic, and its form of government, under the guise of opposition to the revenue. He was evidently satisfied that there was no deeper plot than appeared on the surface, and that, apart from their whiskey-stills, the hearts of the West Pennsylvanians beat true to the Union.
Arrogance of France—Americans and Louis XVI—Genet Defies Washington— The People Support the President—War With the Indians—Defeat of St. Clair—Indians State Their Case—General Wayne Defeats the Savages—Jay's Treaty—Retirement of Washington—His Character—His Military Genius— Washington as a Statesman—His Views on Slavery—His Figure in History.
The American nation had yet to win something besides independence, something without which independence would be a burden and a mockery—the respect of other nations; and in dealings between nations fear and respect are closely akin. The English still occupied posts within territory claimed by the United States, the Indians denied the right of the Americans to lands beyond the Ohio, and republican France, having beheaded her king, regarded the United States as a vassal on account of the debt of gratitude which America owed to that king. War with England had given place to jealous and intolerant rivalry, and friendship with France had been succeeded by an arrogant assumption of patronage and almost of suzerainty menacing to our national independence. Such were the clouds that rose above the ocean horizon, while the western sky was darkened by the shadow of Indian hostility as yet far from contemptible, and directed by able chieftains, like Little Turtle, more than a match in the field and in diplomacy for most of their white antagonists. These were the circumstances which made it apparent to Americans that the Federal Constitution had come not a day too soon, which welded the nation together like an armor-plate of steel against foes on every hand, and taught the need of union as it never could have been taught amid surroundings of prosperity and peace.
The French Revolution acquitted the American people of all obligations to France. It was not to the French people, but to the French king that Americans owed the assistance without which the war for independence might have ended in calamity, and with the exception of the Marquis de Lafayette the Frenchmen who were conspicuous as servants of the king in aiding the American cause, were foes, not friends of the Revolution. The French nation, as such, had no more to do with casting the power of France into the scales on the side of America than the people of Russia had to do with their czar's championship of Bulgaria. Had it been in the power of Americans to have saved Louis XVI. from the scaffold, they would have shown cruel ingratitude not to have interfered in his behalf. It was a most arrogant and baseless assumption on the part of the French democracy to claim credit for what the Bourbon king had done in sending his army and navy to these shores and supplying funds to equip and maintain our troops. It is true that the men he sent here were Frenchmen, and that the money came from the pockets of the people of France, but his will directed the troops, and diverted to American use the funds of which France was sorely in need. To Louis XVI., to his great minister, Vergennes, to Rochambeau and Lafayette, American independence was due, so far as it was due to any human source outside of America. Rochambeau and Lafayette both narrowly escaped the fate of their king, and Vergennes died before the Revolution which would have made him either a victim or an emigré. So much for the claims of the first French republic that America was ungrateful in not arraying its forces against embattled Europe in defence of the men who slew Louis XVI. for crimes which others committed.
It is probable that none save Washington could have guided the nation through the perilous excitement aroused by the efforts of the French minister Genet to involve the United States in war with England and other powers. For a time many cool-headed and able men were carried away by the popular enthusiasm in favor of France, but Genet presumed too far, when he deliberately insulted and defied that national authority which the nation itself had created, and the American people rallied at length, irrespective of party, to the support of the President. France for the time, abandoned her menacing attitude, only to resume it a few years later, with results disastrous to herself.
However American in feeling, it is impossible not to have some sympathy with the Indians in their struggle to retain their hunting-grounds beyond the Ohio. Savages as they were, natural right was on their side, and many of the whites opposed to them were more savage and inhuman than the worst of the redskinned barbarians. The massacre of the Christian Indians at Gnadenhutten by a party of frontiersmen was a deed not surpassed in atrocity in the annals of any country, and far surpassing in deliberate cruelty anything charged against the Indian race. It was a pity that the actual perpetrators of that dark crime did not fall into the hands of warlike Indians, instead of the unfortunate William Crawford, the leader of a subsequent expedition, whose awful death by fire was the Indian penalty for the Moravian massacre. The masterly ability of Little Turtle proved for years a barrier against pioneer progress, and the defeat of St. Clair and his army in 1791, left the frontiers at the mercy of the red men. This defeat was one of the most terrible ever suffered at the hands of the Indians, and aroused on the part of Washington a display of temper which showed how deeply he felt the wound inflicted on his country.
General Anthony Wayne took the place of St. Clair as commander, and further hostilities were preceded by an attempt at negotiation. It must be confessed by any impartial reader that the Indians stated their case calmly, clearly and with impressive reasoning. They demanded that Americans be removed from the northern side of the Ohio, and they averred that treaties previously signed by them to the contrary effect had been signed under misapprehension. "Brothers," said the Indians, "you have talked to as about concessions. It appears strange that you should expect any from us, who have only been defending our just rights against your invasions. We want peace. Restore to us our country, and we shall be enemies no longer." "Your answer." said the American commissioners, "amounts to a declaration that you will agree to no other boundary than the Ohio. The negotiation is, therefore, at an end." This decision was arrived at in August, 1793. Meantime the United States escaped the danger which would have been brought upon them had Genet succeeded in his schemes, and involved America in war with England and Spain, both of which countries were prepared to assist the Indians, had the Americans taken the side of France. Active hostilities were not resumed in the Northwest, however, until the summer of 1794, when General Wayne, at the head of his troops, again attempted to secure a peaceful settlement of the Indian troubles, and failing in that attacked and defeated the Indians near the rapids of the Maumee, a few miles from the Miam. Fort, which the English had established within the American territory. Little Turtle, who led the Indians, had been in favor of peace, but was overborne by more impetuous warriors. Peace soon followed, and the settlement of the Northwest proceeded for a time without interruption. Those who regard the Indians as a lazy and thriftless race should read what General Wayne says about them: "The very extensive and highly cultivated fields and gardens show the work of many hands. The margins of these beautiful rivers appear like a continued village for a number of miles. Nor have I ever before beheld such immense fields of corn in any part of America, from Canada to Florida."
Jay's Treaty, so-called from John Jay, who acted on behalf of the United States in negotiating the measure, secured a temporary and unsatisfactory adjustment of the differences between the United States and Great Britain. The fact that Washington was willing to approve the treaty, although dissatisfied with it, is its sufficient vindication, and the agreement on the part of England to surrender the western posts was no small advantage for the United States, especially in the impression which it produced on the Indians of the decline of British and the growth of American power. The worst features of the treaty were that it restricted the commerce of the United States, so far as concerned molasses, sugar, coffee, cocoa and cotton, the last-mentioned article being already a product of the United States, and that it failed to protect the seamen on American vessels against seizure and impressment by the British. It was, taken as a whole, a humiliating compact, and in its commercial provisions an abandonment of the principle which inspired the Boston Tea Party, and for which Americans had fought in the war of independence. The mutual freedom of intercourse and internal trading, including common navigation of the Mississippi, was advantageous only to Great Britain, which country, as subsequent events showed, had not given up hope of reconquering the trans-Ohio region, and carrying British dominion from the Lakes to Mobile.
The United States had to do something, however, to show that the American Republic was not either secretly or openly an ally of the French Republic against the remainder of Europe, and while the Jay Treaty was not what Washington and the American people desired, it was all that England would agree to. As a modus vivendi with our only dangerous neighbor it enabled the American people to devote to domestic development the energies which would otherwise have been expended in war, and to grasp the neutral carrying trade upon which war would have placed an embargo. England would doubtless have been gratified with any plausible excuse that would have enabled her to destroy American commerce, and to be without a rival on the Atlantic. Jay's Treaty prevented this, and England had to leave to her friends, the Barbary pirates, the work of preying on the American carrying trade in European waters. These depredations were already so serious in 1794 that a bill was introduced in Congress, passed after some opposition, and cordially approved by President Washington, providing for a force of six frigates to protect American commerce from the corsairs. These frigates did splendid service later on, not only against the pirates, but also against the French and British.
The scenes which attended the close of Washington's public career were some compensation to that ever-illustrious man for the wounds inflicted during his administration by reckless and venomous partisanship. No President of the United States was ever more fiercely and bitterly assailed than Washington. His enemies even went so far as to doom him in caricature to the fate of Louis XVI. He was accused of monarchical designs, and had to confront treachery in his Cabinet and scurrilous slanders in the public press. Yet throughout all he bore himself with patience, and never swerved from the course which he deemed best for the public weal. It should not be supposed that he was indifferent to the arrows of malice and of falsehood. On the contrary, he was extremely sensitive to them; but he never permitted himself, in public at least, to be carried away by his feelings, and no matter how strong his sentiments on any subject, his sense of justice was always supreme. In his agony upon the news of St. Clair's defeat, he denounced that general as worse than a murderer for having suffered his army to be taken by surprise; but when the burst of passion was over he added: "General St. Clair shall have justice. I will receive him without displeasure; I will hear him without prejudice." And Washington kept his word.
Far abler pens than mine have dealt with the character of the Father of our Republic, but a few plain and original expressions on a subject never wearisome to Americans may not be out of place. Washington's chief characteristics were fortitude, the sense of justice of which I have spoken, and the ability to grasp conditions and seize upon opportunities. He was a thoroughly practical man, a strategist by instinct, fearless but not rash, possessing an impetuous temper kept within careful control, and unleashed only when, as at the battle of Monmouth, there was prudence in its vehemence. He was an excellent judge of men. The officers who owed their advancement to Washington seldom disappointed and often exceeded expectations. He was above the petty jealousy, so conspicuous in our late civil war, that would permit another general to be defeated in order to shine by contrast. He was devoted to the cause more than to winning personal reputation, and the effect of his unselfishness was that the cause triumphed with his name fixed in history as that of its leader and champion.
It is difficult to compare the military achievements of Washington with those of Old World commanders. Marlborough, Wellington and Napoleon had troops thoroughly organized, under complete military control, and held to service by iron rules which made the general always sure that his military machine would be ready for use, barring the chances of war. Washington's forces were largely composed of militia, enlisted for short periods, many of them induced to serve by bounties, and anxious to go home and attend to their farms. The soldiers, too, were shamefully neglected by Congress and by their States, and it seems wonderful that Washington should have kept them together as he did, or maintained an army at all. In this respect Washington showed genius as a military manager without parallel in history. It should not be forgotten, also, that to Washington is largely due credit for victories at which he was not present. His was the master mind which scanned the entire field, directed all operations and made the triumphs of others possible. His closing campaign, which ended in the surrender of Cornwallis, exhibited military talent of the highest order. In conception and execution it was equal to any of Napoleon's campaigns. It embraced an extent of territory, from New York to North Carolina inclusive, as extensive as the present German empire, and every movement was that of a master hand on the chess-board of war. Success without the French would have been impossible, without Greene's admirable generalship it might have been impossible, but Washington conceived and carried through to accomplishment the whole great scheme which resulted in a final and crashing blow to British hopes of subjugating America.
As a statesman Washington merited distinction fully equal to that gained in his military career. To him the United States were always a nation, and only as a nation could they exist. His influence was as potent in forming the Union as his military genius had been in achieving independence, and the veneration with which he was regarded abroad secured for the new nation a degree of respect in foreign cabinets, which was almost vital to its existence, and which no other American could have commanded. At home, too, he rose superior to the discord of ambitious men and of rival factions, and those who, like Edmund Randolph, attempted to belittle him, only called attention thereby to their own comparative unworthiness and insignificance, and were glad in later years to seek oblivion for their abortive folly.
In his domestic life Washington was one of the best of husbands, as he was blessed with one of the best of wives. He held slaves, and I have never been of those who claim that he regarded slavery with serious disapproval. He was too conscientious a man to have retained a single slave in his possession or under his control if his conscience did not approve the relation. That Washington favored the gradual abolition of slavery his letters leave no doubt, and especially those to John P. Mercer and Lawrence Lewis, quoted by Washington Irving, but in the letterbook of the great Rhode Island merchant, Moses Brown, which I was allowed, some years ago, to examine, I read a letter from General Washington which, as I remember, indicated Washington's anti-slavery opinions to be more abstract than active, and conveyed distinctly the impression that he saw nothing wrong whatever in the holding of human chattels. Washington's views on slavery were those of a Southern planter of the most enlightened class, and the provisions which he made in his will for the emancipation of his slaves on the decease of his wife, and for the care of those who might be unable to support themselves, showed that no color-line narrowed his sense of justice and of humanity.
The fame of Washington has not lost in brilliancy since he passed from the world in which he acted such a providential part. Like the Phidian Zeus his proportions are all the more majestic for the distance which rounds over any venial defect. His example is as valuable to the American Republic of the present as his life-work was to the America of a century ago. As water never rises above its source, so a great nation should have a great founder, and the figure of Washington is sublime enough to be the oriflamme of a people's empire bounded only by the oceans which wash the land that he loved.
John Adams President—Jefferson and the French Revolution—The French Directory—Money Demanded from America—"Millions for Defence; Not One Penny for Tribute"—Naval Warfare with France—Capture of the Insurgent —Defeat of the Vengeance—Peace with France—Death of Washington—Alien and Sedition Laws—Jefferson President—The Louisiana Purchase—Burr's Alleged Treason—War with the Barbary States—England Behind the Pirates —Heroic Naval Exploits—Carrying War Into Africa—Peace with Honor.
The Jay treaty secured peace with England, but it was accepted as almost a declaration of war by France. The attitude of the French government did not become intolerable until after the retirement of Washington from the presidency. John Adams, who succeeded Washington, belonged to the Federalist party, which supported a strong central government with aristocratic tendencies, and was opposed to the Republican party, which sympathized with the French Revolution, and whose members were, therefore, known also as "Democrats." Alexander Hamilton was the chief spirit of the Federalists and Thomas Jefferson of the Republicans. The intense Jacobinism of Jefferson's views may be judged from some of his utterances, in which he even defended the terrible September massacres of the French Revolution. Speaking of the innocent who perished he said: "I deplore them as I should have done had they fallen in battle. It was necessary to use the arm of the people, a machine not quite so blind as balls and bombs, but blind to a certain degree. A few of their cordial friends met at their hands the fate of enemies. * * * My own affections have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to this cause, but rather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated; were there but an Adam and an Eve left in every country, and left free, it would be better than it is now."
The spread of these ideas shocked and alarmed conservative men, including Washington himself, Hamilton and Adams, and led to measures of restriction that were injudicious in their severity. The nation, however, united as one man, irrespective of party, to resent the intolerable insolence of the French, who assumed that they could crush America with the same ease that they subdued the petty states of Italy and Germany. The French Directory, which had succeeded to the Terrorists in the exercise of power virtually supreme, was composed of men whose depravity we have seen shockingly illustrated in the recently published memoirs of Barras. Its foreign policy was managed by the vulpine Talleyrand, who is accused by Barras of having extorted large sums of money from the lesser States of Europe as the price of being let alone—although it is extremely probable that Barras and others of the Directory shared in these ill-gotten funds. Talleyrand tried to extort similar tribute from America, demanding that a douceur of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars be put at his disposal for the use of the Directory, and a large loan made by America to France. "Millions for defence—not one penny for tribute!" was the cry that went up from the American people when this infamous proposition was made known.
Washington was summoned from his retirement to take command of the American army, a Secretary of the Navy was added to the President's Cabinet—Benjamin Stoddart, of Georgetown, D. C., being the first—and the new American navy was authorized to retaliate upon France for outrages committed upon American shipping. A vigorous naval warfare followed, in which the new American frigates proved more than a match for the French. The American Constellation, forty-eight guns, after a sharp engagement, captured the French frigate Insurgent, forty guns. It is really amusing to note the tone of injured innocence in which Captain Barreaut, of the Insurgent, who had himself captured the American cruiser Retaliation but a short time before, reports to his government his "surprise on finding himself fought by an American frigate after all the friendship and protection accorded to the United States!" "My indignation," he adds, "was at its height." It soon cooled off, however, under the pressure of broadsides from the Constellation, and Captain Barreaut was glad to surrender. The second frigate action of the war was between the Constellation and the Vengeance, the former fifty guns, the latter fifty-two. The Frenchman, badly beaten, succeeded in making his escape. The battle between the American frigate Boston and the French corvette Berceau was one of the most gallant of the struggle, the Berceau fighting until resistance was hopeless. American merchantmen also showed the French that they could defend themselves, and one of Moses Brown's ships, the Anne and Hope, sailed into Providence from a voyage to the West Indies, bearing in her rigging the marks of conflict with a French privateer, whom the merchantman had bravely repulsed. During the two years and a half of naval war with France eighty-four armed French vessels, nearly all of them privateers, were captured, and no vessel of our navy was taken by the enemy, except the Retaliation. This was not the kind of tribute the French government had expected, and a treaty of peace, which entirely sustained the position of the United States, was ratified in February, 1801.
The illustrious Washington, who fortunately had not been required to take the field against America's ancient allies, died December 14, 1799, at Mount Vernon, deeply mourned by all his countrymen, and honored even by the former enemies of American independence. I will only repeat, with Washington Irving, that "with us his memory remains a national property, where all sympathies throughout our widely extended and diversified empire meet in unison. Under all dissensions and amid all the storms of party, his precepts and example speak to us from the grave with a paternal appeal; and his name—by all revered—forms a universal tie of brotherhood—a watchword of our Union."
While the nation heartily sustained the government in the conflict with France the enactment of the Alien and Sedition Laws, which abridged American liberty and the freedom of speech and of the press, was generally resented by the people. The public indignation which these laws aroused resulted in the banishment of the Federalist party from power, and the election of the great Republican—or Democrat—Thomas Jefferson, as President in 1800, with Aaron Burr as Vice-President. Jefferson was the first President inaugurated in the city of Washington. The leading features of his administration were the Louisiana Purchase, the Burr conspiracy and the war with the Barbary States—the first alone sufficient to make Jefferson's presidency the most memorable between that of Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Jefferson's foresight in the Louisiana Purchase appears all the grander when we consider the ignorance which prevailed regarding the magnificent Pacific region up to the birth of a generation which is still in middle life. The Louisiana Purchase was the second great gift of France to America, and as the first came to us because the French hated and desired to weaken England, so the second came because Napoleon feared that Louisiana would fall into the hands of England. It should be remembered that the Louisiana Purchase included not only the now flourishing State at the mouth of the Mississippi, but also Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and probably the two Dakotas. It meant the control of the Mississippi and the rescue of that great artery of American commerce forever from foreign dominion. France had acquired this vast property from Spain in 1800. The Amiens Treaty of 1802, to which France and England were the principal parties, was short lived, and for some time before the new rupture Napoleon saw that it would be his best policy to concentrate his strength in Europe, and not endeavor to defend distant possessions in America. At the same time it was evident to President Jefferson that the continued occupation of the city of New Orleans by a foreign power was a menace to American interests in the rapidly growing West. The President therefore instructed Robert R. Livingston, the American Minister to Paris, to propose to Napoleon the cession to the United States of New Orleans and adjoining territory, sufficient to secure the free navigation of the Mississippi. James Monroe, American Minister to England, was associated with Livingston in the negotiations. The American representatives were surprised and elated upon learning from M. Barbé-Marbois, Napoleon's Minister of Finance, that the First Consul was ready to dispose of all Louisiana to the United States. Barbé-Marbois conducted the negotiations on behalf of France; both parties were anxious to arrive at a settlement before the English should have an opportunity to attack New Orleans, and on April 30, 1803, the treaty was signed by which the United States, for the sum of $15,000,000, came into possession of an immense territory extending from the North Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. The loan necessary was negotiated through the celebrated house of Hope, of Amsterdam, the money was paid to France, and the United States entered upon its vast estate.
The very next year President Jefferson sent out the expedition of Lewis and Clark to the headwaters of the Columbia River, and caused a complete survey to be made to its mouth. This river had been discovered in 1792, by Captain Robert Gray, a native of Tiverton, Rhode Island, and a famous navigator, who sailed in a ship fitted out by Boston merchants. Had Jefferson's energetic action been followed up with equal vigor by his successors we would never have had the Oregon boundary dispute, and Marcus Whitman would never have felt summoned to take that famous ride so worthily chronicled by Oliver W. Nixon.
With Aaron Burr's alleged treason I will deal very briefly. It will always be a disputed point whether that restless and unprincipled and yet gifted person plotted to alienate territory of the United States, or only to play the part of a Northman in territory belonging to Spain. Admitting Burr to be innocent of designs against the United States, he was nevertheless guilty of quasi-treason if he schemed to erect a separate government within Spanish possessions to which the American Republic was already heir apparent. The murder of Alexander Hamilton by Burr under the forms of a duel, which preceded his mysterious expedition in the southwest, and his subsequent attempt to claim British allegiance on the ground that he had been a British subject before the Revolution, were other extraordinary incidents in the career of a man in whom distinguished talents were utterly without the anchor of morality.
No war in which the United States has been engaged witnessed more heroic deeds than that with the Barbary States. It was a struggle in which the youngest of civilized nations met the semi-barbarous masters of Northern Africa, the heirs of Mahomet and conquerors of the Constantines. Attended by the loss of some precious lives, which were deeply mourned and are gratefully remembered, the chastisement of the corsairs proved excellent schooling for the more serious war with Great Britain. The struggle with the pirates was largely due to the hostile influence exerted by England with a view to the destruction of American commerce. In 1793 the British government actually procured a truce between Algiers and Portugal, in order that the Algerians might have free rein in preying upon American and other merchantmen, and it may be said that piracy in the Mediterranean was under British protection. The American people for a time paid the tribute which the pirates demanded, but at length revolted against the indignity. The war began with disaster. The American frigate Philadelphia, Captain William Bainbridge, ran on a reef in the harbor of Tripoli, and all on board were made prisoners. The Bashaw held his captives for ransom, and treated them sometimes with indulgence and at other times with severity, as he thought best for his interests. It should not be forgotten by the American people that Mr. Nissen, the Danish consul, devoted himself assiduously to the welfare of the prisoners, and was instrumental in many ways in assisting the American cause, while Captain Bainbridge also managed to give most valuable information to Captain Edward Preble, in command of the American squadron.
One suggestion made by Captain Bainbridge was that the Philadelphia, which the Tripolitans had succeeded in raising, should be destroyed at her anchorage in the harbor. The youthful Lieutenant Decatur headed this perilous enterprise. With the officers and men under his command, including Lieutenant James Lawrence and others afterward distinguished in American naval history, Decatur entered the harbor at night in a small vessel or "ketch" called the Mastico, disguised as a trader from Malta. The watchword was "Philadelphia," and strict orders were given not to discharge any firearms, except in great emergency. A challenge from the Tripolitans on the Philadelphia was met by a statement from the Maltese pilot that the Mastico had just arrived from Malta, had been damaged in a gale, and lost her anchors, and desired to make fast to the frigate's cables until another anchor could be procured. The Turks lowered a boat with a hawser, intending to secure the ketch to their stern, instead of to the cables, and the Americans accepted the hawser, intimating in broken Italian that they would do as desired. At the same time the Americans made fast to the Philadelphia's fore chains, and a strong pull by the men, who were mostly lying down in order to remain unseen by the Turks, swung the ketch alongside the frigate. One of the Turks looking over the side saw the men hauling on the line, and sent up the cry—"Americano!"
The Turks succeeded in severing the line, but too late. The Americans sprang for the Philadelphia's deck and charged upon the astonished enemy. In ten minutes from the appearance of the first American on deck the vessel was in our hands. Combustibles were then passed from the ketch, and the Philadelphia was set on fire. While the Americans safely made their escape the burning frigate lighted up the harbor, and her shotted guns boomed warning to the Bashaw of what he might yet expect from American courage and daring. Of the Tripolitans on board the Philadelphia many doubtless perished, and some swam ashore. Only one prisoner was taken, a wounded Tripolitan, who swam to the ketch, and whose life was spared, notwithstanding strict orders not to take prisoners.
The Bashaw treated his captives more rigorously than ever, after this splendid exploit, fearing apparently that they might rise and capture his own castle—a fear not without foundation, as a rising with that object was for some time contemplated. The ketch in which Decatur made his daring and successful expedition was christened the Intrepid, and fitted up as a floating mine with the purpose of sending her into the harbor, and exploding her in the midst of the Tripolitan shipping. It was an enterprise likely to be attended by the destruction of all engaged in it, but volunteers were not lacking. Master-Commandant Richard Somers, Decatur's bosom friend, was in charge and Midshipman Henry Wadsworth, uncle of the poet Longfellow, was second in command. Midshipman Joseph Israel also managed to get on the ketch unobserved, and was permitted to remain. The crew consisted of ten seamen from the Nautilus and the Constitution, all volunteers. The fate of these gallant men was never known, except that it is certain that they all perished upon the explosion of the Intrepid. Bodies found mangled beyond recognition were unquestionably the remains of these heroes, and were buried on the beach outside the town of Tripoli.
The attack was conducted with unceasing vigor, not only on sea, but on land, the Americans literally carrying the war into Africa by inciting Hamet, the deposed Bashaw of Tripoli, to attack the brother who had usurped his throne. William Eaton, the American consul at Tunis, led Hamet's army, and with the cooperation of the fleet, made a successful attack upon Derne, the capital of the richest province of Tripoli. The loss of this important fortress brought the reigning Bashaw to terms, and he signed a treaty giving up all claims to tribute, and releasing the American prisoners on payment of sixty thousand dollars. A most advantageous peace was likewise dictated to the Bey of Tunis, who had also been induced by English influences to assume a menacing attitude toward the Americans, and the schemes of Great Britain to prevent, through the agency of Barbary pirates, the growth of American commerce, were disappointed.
French Decrees and British Orders in Council—Damage to American Commerce—The Embargo—Causes of the War of 1812—The Chesapeake and the Leopard—President and Little Belt—War Declared—Mr. Astor's Messenger —The Two Navies Compared—American Frigate Victories—Constitution and Guerriere—United States and Macedonian—Constitution and Java—American Sloop Victories—The Shannon and Chesapeake—"Don't Give Up the Ship."
The Barbary pirates had been brought to terms, but American commerce was being severely handled between French decrees and British orders in council. England had declared a blockade of all the coasts of Europe under the control of France, and Napoleon from his camp at Berlin and his palace at Milau retaliated by making British products contraband of war and subjecting to confiscation all vessels destined for British ports. Between these two mighty millstones the American carrying trade was sorely ground, and conditions were made far worse by the very means which the American government, in its comparative impotency, adopted to compel redress. The embargo was intended to inflict such injury on both France and England as to drive them into a recognition of America's rights as a neutral. Its only serious effect was to inflict an almost fatal wound on American commerce, and the repeal of the first embargo came too late to undo the injury it had done. It was not as clearly apparent then as now that all restrictions on exportation chiefly injure the nation which imposes them. The embargo played into the hands of the British by effecting through our own agency what England had vainly sought to accomplish through others. England commanding every sea with her fleets suffered but slight inconvenience by the withdrawal of American shipping from her ports, while Americans suffered most severely.
The British blockade of continental Europe would not, however, have led to the conflict which broke out in 1812. Other aggressions, offensive to American independence, and in grievous violation of American national rights, obliged Congress reluctantly to declare war, after years of irritation and provocation on the part of England. The British stopped American vessels on the high seas, and impressed American seamen into the British naval service. American merchantmen were halted in mid-ocean and deprived of the best men in their crews, who were forced to serve in the British navy.
Thousands of American seamen were thus impressed, while American vessels were seized by British cruisers, taken to port and unloaded and searched for contraband of war. The Leopard-Chesapeake affair was a crowning outrage on the part of the British, and had it not been promptly disavowed by the government at London, war would have been declared in 1807 instead of 1812. The Chesapeake, an American frigate of thirty-six guns, commanded by Captain James Barren, was hailed by the English fifty-gun frigate, Leopard, Captain Humphreys, in the open sea. The latter sent a lieutenant on board the Chesapeake, who handed to Captain Barren an order signed by the British Vice-Admiral Berkeley, directing all commanders in Berkeley's squadron to board the Chesapeake wherever found on the high seas, and search the vessel for deserters. Captain Barren's ship was utterly unprepared for battle, but he gave orders to clear tor action. So shameful was the lack of preparation on the Chesapeake that not a gun could be discharged until Lieutenant William Henry Allen seized a live coal from the galley fire with his fingers and sent a shot in response to repeated broadsides from the Leopard. The Chesapeake hauled down her flag after losing three killed and eighteen wounded. The British then boarded the vessel and carried off four of the crew, who were claimed as British deserters, although they all asserted to the last that they were American citizens. One of these men, Jenkin Ratford or John Wilson, was hanged at the yard-arm of the British man-of-war Halifax. The other three were sentenced each to receive five hundred lashes, but the sentences were not carried out, and two of them, the third having died, were returned on board the Chesapeake. Some indemnity was paid and the British government recalled Vice-Admiral Berkeley.
The British continued to impress Americans into their service, and to annoy American shipping, and the American temper was gradually becoming inflamed under repeated provocations. Nevertheless there was a powerful sentiment opposed to war in the State of New York and in New England, and the people generally hesitated to believe that war would be declared. In 1811 the American frigate President avenged in some degree the Leopard outrage by severely chastising the British twenty-two-gun ship Little Belt, which lost eleven killed and twenty-one wounded in the encounter. The Little Belt appears to have fired the first shot. War was at length declared by Congress, and proclaimed by President James Madison, June 18, 1812.
The news of war with Great Britain was carried, to New York by a special courier, and American merchants at once sent out a swift sailing vessel to warn American merchantmen in the ports of Northern Europe of the new danger that threatened them. By this warning many American vessels were saved from capture. Very different in result, although presumably not in intent, was the warning sent by John Jacob Astor, of New York, to his agent across the border. Mr. Astor, upon receiving the news from Washington, at once dispatched a messenger by swiftest express, to Queenstown, Canada, with the view of protecting as speedily as possible Mr. Astor's fur-trading interests. The messenger sped through the settlements of western New York, by farms and villages calmly reposing in the confidence of peace, and without saying a word of his momentous secret, he crossed the Niagara River with his master's message. The recipient of that message was a British subject, and felt bound by his allegiance to communicate it to the authorities. The following morning the people of Buffalo were surprised to see the Canadians descend upon their harbor and seize the shipping within reach.
Hostilities were opened promptly on land and sea. The American navy consisted only of seventeen vessels, 442 guns and 5025 men, while that of Great Britain included 1048 vessels, 27,800 guns and 151,572 men. It is no wonder that the American people hesitated to send forth their men-of-war against such tremendous odds, even although England's navy was largely engaged in the tremendous conflict with France, or rather in keeping Napoleon cribbed and cabined within his continental boundaries; and it is no wonder that British naval officers assumed to regard with contempt the fir-built frigates which bore the Stars and Stripes. The defeat and capture of the British frigate Guerriere, forty-nine guns, Captain Dacres, by the American frigate Constitution, fifty-five guns, Captain Isaac Hull, made British contempt give place to surprise. In this naval battle the Americans proved their superiority in rapidity and accuracy of fire, and it is perhaps needless to say that they showed themselves fully the equals of the British in bravery. It is pleasant to read in the official report of Captain Dacres the following tribute to his generous foe: "I feel it my duty to state that the conduct of Captain Hull and his officers to our men has been that of a brave enemy, the greatest care being taken to prevent our men losing the smallest trifle, and the greatest attention being paid to the wounded." The Guerriere lost her second lieutenant, Henry Ready, and fourteen seamen killed, and Captain Dacres, First Lieutenant Kent, Sailing Master Scott, two master's mates, one midshipman and fifty-seven sailors were wounded, six of the wounded afterward dying. The Constitution lost her first lieutenant of marines, William Sharp Bush, and six seamen killed, and her first lieutenant, Charles Morris, her sailing master, four seamen and one marine were wounded. Thus resulted the first naval combat between British and American built men-of-war.
For rapid and accurate firing and destructive effect thereof upon the enemy the records of naval warfare probably offer nothing to surpass the conduct of the American frigate United States, fifty-four guns, Captain Decatur, in battle with the British frigate Macedonian, forty-nine guns, Captain Garden. "The firing from the American frigate at close quarters was terrific. Her cannon were handled with such rapidity that there seemed to be one continuous flash from her broadside, and several times Captain Garden and his officers believed her to be on fire. * * * Her firing was so rapid that 'in a few minutes she was enveloped in a cloud of smoke which from the Macedonian's quarter-deck appeared like a huge cloud rolling along the water, illuminated by lurid flashes of lightning, and emitting a continuous roar of thunder.' But the unceasing storm of round shot, grape and canister, and the occasional glimpse of the Stars and Stripes floating above the clouds of smoke, forcibly dispelled the illusion, and showed the Englishmen that they were dealing with an enemy who knew how to strike and who struck hard. * * * 'Grapeshot and canister were pouring through our port holes like leaden hail; the large shot came against the ship's side, shaking her to the very keel, and passing through her timbers and scattering terrific splinters, which did more appalling work than the shot itself. A constant stream of wounded men were being hurried to the cockpit from all quarters of the ship.' And still the American frigate kept up her merciless cannonading. As the breeze occasionally made a rent in the smoke her officers could be seen walking around her quarter-deck calmly directing the work of destruction, while her gun-crews were visible through the open ports deliberately loading and aiming their pieces." The action had lasted about an hour and a half, when the Macedonian struck. The United States, lost five men killed and seven wounded; the Macedonian lost thirty-six killed and sixty-eight wounded.
The next naval victory was won by Captain William Bainbridge, this time in command of the Constitution, forty-four guns, over the British thirty-eight-gun frigate Java, Captain Henry Lambert. The battle began at 2.40 p. m., and at 4.05 p. m., the British frigate was "an unmanageable wreck." The Java at length surrendered, having lost sixty killed, besides one hundred and one wounded, while the loss of the Constitution was nine killed and twenty-five wounded. Both commanders were wounded, the British captain mortally, and there was a touching scene when Captain Bainbridge, supported by his officers to the bedside of the dying Lambert, gave back to the latter his sword.
The British press foamed almost deliriously over these disasters to their navy, which robbed of half its luxury the imminent downfall of Napoleon. The London "Times" could hardly find words to express its emotion over the fact that five hundred merchantmen and three frigates; had been captured in seven months by the Americans. An attempt was made to explain the repeated and astounding defeats on the ocean by the plea that the American frigates were almost ships of the line in disguise, and that their superior size and armament carried an unfair advantage. The same plea could not be offered in explanation of the victories won by American sloops, in the case of the American Hornet and British Peacock, of about equal strength, while the American Wasp was considerably inferior in guns and weight of metal to the British Frolic. Master-Commandant James Lawrence, of the Hornet, captured the Peacock in eleven minutes from the beginning of the action, the American guns being fired so rapidly that buckets of water were constantly dashed on them to keep them cool. A Halifax paper said that "a vessel moored for the purpose of experiment could not have been sunk sooner. It will not do for our vessels to fight theirs single-handed." The American eighteen-gun sloop-of-war Wasp, Master-Commandant Jacob Jones, had a longer fight with the British brig-of-war Frolic, twenty-two guns, Captain Thomas Whinyates. The action lasted forty-three minutes from the first broadside, and the Frolic was taken by boarding. The Wasp had five killed and five wounded, and the Frolic fifteen killed and forty-seven wounded. The fact is, it was not the number but the handling of the guns that won American victories.
The capture of the American forty-nine-gun frigate Chesapeake, Captain James Lawrence, by the British fifty-two-gun frigate Shannon, Captain Philip Bowes Vere Broke, consoled the English in some degree for their losses, and the very exultation with which the news was received in Great Britain showed the high estimate which the mistress of the seas had formed of the American navy from previous experience during the war. It is but just to the gallant Lawrence to say that he had no fair opportunity to prepare for battle, that he had the poorest crew—largely Portuguese and other riff-raff—ever put on board an American man-of-war, and that with a crew such as Hull or Decatur or Bainbridge had commanded, or that he had himself commanded on the Hornet, he might have recorded a victory instead of losing his ship and his life. At the same time it must also be admitted that Captain Broke was a superb naval officer, and that his victory was chiefly due to the perfect discipline and devotion of his men, with whom he was thoroughly acquainted, whereas Lawrence had been but a few days in command of the Chesapeake. When mortally wounded and carried below, Lawrence cried: "Keep the guns going!" "Fight her till she strikes or sinks!" and his last words were—"Don't give up the ship!" The British boarded the Chesapeake, after a brief cannonading. The Americans on board made a desperate resistance, and it is a question whether there was any formal surrender. The Chesapeake lost forty-seven killed and ninety-nine wounded, and of the latter fourteen afterward died. The Shannon lost twenty-four killed and fifty-nine wounded. There could hardly have been greater joy in England over a Peninsular victory. Parliament acclaimed, the guns of the Tower thundered, and Captain Broke was made a baronet and a Knight Commander of the Bath. America keenly felt the defeat, but honored the heroic dead, and a gold medal was voted to the nearest male descendant of Captain Lawrence.
The War on Land—Tecumseh's Indian Confederacy—Harrison at Tippecanoe —General Hull and General Brock—A Fatal Armistice—Surrender of Detroit—English Masters of Michigan—General Harrison Takes Command in the Northwest—Harrison's Answer to Proctor—"He Will Never Have This Post Surrendered"—Crogan's Brave Defence—The British Retreat—War on the Niagara Frontier—Battle of Queenstown—Death of Brock—Colonel Winfield Scott and the English Doctrine of Perpetual Allegiance.
The sea victories were a fortunate offset to American disasters on land. With the aid of the great Indian chieftain Tecumseh, the British set out to conquer the Northwest. Tecumseh, chief of the Shawaneese, was probably the ablest Indian that the white man had ever met. He resolved early in life to make a final stand against the progress of the palefaces. His scheme was at first not of a warlike nature, for he began with a secret council of representative Indians about the year 1806, the object of which was to form an Indian confederacy to prevent the further sale of lands to the United States, except by consent of the confederacy, which was to include the entire Indian population of the Northwest. Thus the American Union was to be met by an Indian union. Tecumseh had a brother, known in history as "The Prophet," who visited the various tribes and brought the influence of superstition to bear in favor of Tecumseh's projects. Governor William Henry Harrison, whose Territory of Indiana included the present States of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, viewed Tecumseh's operations with alarm, although assured by that chieftain that his intentions were peaceful. In order to remove any just ground for discontent Governor Harrison offered to restore to the Indians any lands that had not been fairly purchased. Tecumseh met Governor Harrison at Vincennes, and recited the old story of Indian wrongs. After complaining of white duplicity in obtaining sales of land, and endeavoring to sow strife between the tribes, Tecumseh added: "How can we have confidence in the white people? When Jesus Christ came upon the earth, you killed him and nailed him on a cross. You thought he was dead, but you were mistaken. Everything I have said to you is the truth. The Great Spirit has inspired me." The first interview ended in great excitement, but a second meeting, on the following day, was more decorous in character. Nothing came of these discussions, as Tecumseh's demand for the restoration of all Indian lands purchased from single tribes could obviously not be granted. Hostilities followed, and the battle of Tippecanoe was fought during the absence of Tecumseh, who on going South to visit the Cherokees and other tribes had given strict orders to his brother, the Prophet, not to attack the Americans. The Indians attempted a surprise after midnight, November 7, 1811. They fought furiously, and if Harrison had been a Braddock, the story of Duquesne might have been repeated. But Harrison understood frontier warfare, and he directed his men so skillfully, although many of them had never been under fire before, that the Indians were at length repulsed. One of Harrison's orders, which probably saved his army, was to extinguish the campfires, so that white and Indian fought in the darkness on equal terms. The American loss was thirty-seven killed and 151 wounded, and that of the Indians somewhat smaller. In effect Tippecanoe was a decisive victory for the Americans, and broke the spell in which Tecumseh and the Prophet had held the tribes.
The War of 1812 revived the hopes of the great Indian chieftain, and with the rank of brigadier-general in the British army he set about to assist General Isaac Brock, the Governor of Upper Canada, in the task of wresting the Northwest from the Americans. General William Hull, an uncle of Captain Isaac Hull, the commander of the Constitution, was Governor of the Territory of Michigan, which had been organized in 1805 and now contained about 5000 inhabitants. To General Hull was given the command of the forces intended for defensive and offensive operations on the Upper Lakes. A small garrison of United States troops was stationed at Michilimacinac and one at Chicago, which were the outposts of civilization. The English near Detroit appear to have been aware of the declaration of war before the news reached General Hull, and while the latter was moving with an extreme caution excusable only on the ground of age, Brock swiftly laid out and as swiftly entered upon an aggressive campaign. The American outposts were captured by the British and Indians, and the garrison of Fort Dearborn—Chicago—was cruelly massacred. On this occasion Mr. John Kinzie, the first settler at Chicago, who as a trader was much liked by the Indians, did noble service, with his excellent wife, in saving the lives of the soldiers' families. Mrs. Heald, the wife of Captain Heald, was ransomed for ten bottles of whiskey and a mule, just as an Indian was about to scalp her.
At this critical juncture General Hull was weakened, and the British forces opposed to him were encouraged by the news that General Henry Dearborn, commander of the American troops in the Northern Department, instead of invading Canada from the Niagara frontier, in obedience to his instructions, had agreed to a provisional armistice with Sir George Prevost, the governor-general of Canada. The ground for the armistice was that England had revoked the orders in council obnoxious to Americans, five days after the declaration of war by the United States, and that intended peace negotiations would therefore have in all probability a happy result. As a matter of fact England had not yielded, and had no intention, as it proved, of yielding on the question of impressment, which was the principal American grievance. But even if England had surrendered every point it was an outrageous assumption on the part of General Dearborn to depart from the line of military instructions and military duty upon any representation foreign to that duty. By his error in this regard General Dearborn injured the American cause more than a severe defeat would have done, leaving as he did General Hull and his handful of men, who were not included in the armistice, to bear the brunt of British hostility. The government at Washington disapproved General Dearborn's course, and the armistice was cancelled, but not in time to prevent the loss of Detroit.
General Hull had only eight hundred men in Detroit when General Brock attacked the place by land and water, with a much more numerous force of British and Indians, assisted by ships of war. It is often asserted that General Hull surrendered the place without serious defence. This is not true. In addition to the official statements of both sides, and General Hull's own vindication, the journal of an Ohio soldier named Claypool who was in the American ranks at the time, shows that the Americans returned the British fire vigorously during August 15, and for several hours on the following day, when General Hull, in view of the overwhelming force opposed to him, capitulated. General Hull was afterward tried by court-martial and sentenced to death, but the sentence was not carried out, the United States escaping a stain like that which attaches to England for the fate of Admiral Byng. Hull had proven during the Revolution that he was no coward. Whatever may have been his errors of judgment before the surrender, at the time of the surrender Detroit was indefensible.
The English were now masters of Michigan Territory, and the western forests were alive with Indians on the warpath. Fort Wayne was besieged, and Captain Zachary Taylor bravely defended Fort Harrison. General Harrison, appointed to the command of the Northwestern army, promptly relieved both posts, and the government ordered that ten thousand men should be raised to recover Detroit and invade Canada. General James Winchester, in command of the advance corps of Harrison's forces, imprudently engaged in conflict with a much more numerous body of British at Frenchtown, on the River Raisin. Nearly all his troops, numbering about eight hundred, were killed or captured, and some of the captives were massacred. General Winchester himself was taken prisoner. Soon afterward the British General Proctor issued a proclamation requiring the citizens of Michigan to take the oath of allegiance to the British crown, or leave the Territory. The American residents in Detroit, under the terms of the capitulation, remained undisturbed in their homes, but their hearts were continually wrung by the spectacle of cruelties practiced by Indian allies of the British upon American captives. Many families parted with all but necessary wearing apparel to redeem the sufferers, and private houses were turned into hospitals for their relief. Mr. Kinzie, of Chicago, who was now a paroled prisoner in Detroit, was foremost in this work of patriotism and humanity.
The defeat at the River Raisin was a hard blow to General Harrison, especially as the troops to make up his army of ten thousand men were slow in arriving. He did not lose courage, however, and when General Proctor sent an imperious demand for the surrender of Fort Meigs, Harrison answered: "He will never have this post surrendered to him upon any terms. Should it fall into his hands, it will be in a manner calculated to do him more honor and to give him larger claims upon the gratitude of his government than any capitulation could possibly do." "There will be none of us left to kill" was the reply of Captain Crogan at Fort Stephenson, when Proctor's messenger menaced him with Indian vengeance, should he fail to surrender. Harrison, reinforced by General Clay Green, from Kentucky, compelled the besiegers to withdraw, and the heroic Crogan mowed down with one discharge of his single cannon more than fifty of the assailants who were advancing to carry his fort by storm. Hardly had the remainder fled when the Americans let down pails of water from the wall of the fort for the relief of their wounded enemies. The formation of an army for the invasion of Canada now went forward in earnest, while the retreat of the British shook the confidence of Tecumseh and his Indian followers in England's ability to protect them against the Americans.
The Niagara frontier was the scene of desultory warfare, with varied fortune for both sides. The battle of Queenstown, October 13, 1812, although it resulted in the defeat and capture of the Americans engaged and witnessed a pitiable exhibition of cowardice on the part of militiamen who refused to cross the river to the aid of their countrymen, was attended by a loss for the Canadians that more than counterbalanced their victory, in the death of Major-General Isaac Brock, whose well-deserved monument is a conspicuous feature of the Niagara landscape. Among the Americans who surrendered on this occasion was Colonel Winfield Scott, who, while himself a prisoner, took a resolute and memorable stand against the British claim that certain Irishmen captured in the American ranks should be sent to England to be tried for treason. The Irishmen, twenty-three in number, were put in irons and deported to England, but in the following May Colonel Scott, after the battle of Fort George, selected twenty-three British prisoners, not of Irish birth, to be dealt with as the British authorities should deal with the Irish-Americans. The latter were finally released and returned to America, and the British doctrine of perpetual allegiance was shattered without treaty or diplomacy.
Battle of Lake Erie—Master-Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry—Building a Fleet—Perry on the Lake—A Duel of Long Guns—Fearful Slaughter on the Lawrence—"Can Any of the Wounded Pull a Rope?"—At Close Quarters— Victory in Fifteen Minutes—"We Have Met the Enemy and They Are Ours" —The Father of Chicago Sees the End of the Battle—The British Evacuate Detroit—General Harrison's Victory at the Thames—Tecumseh Slain—The Struggle in the Southwest—Andrew Jackson in Command—Battle of Horseshoe Bend—The Essex in the Pacific—Defeat and Victory on the Ocean—Captain Porter's Brave Defence—Burning of Newark—Massacre at Fort Niagara—Chippewa and Lundy's Lane—Devastation by the British Fleet—British Vandalism at Washington—Attempt on Baltimore—"The Star Spangled Banner."
And now came the struggle for the control of Lake Erie—a struggle on which depended whether England should succeed in preventing the western growth of the United States, or be driven forever from the soil which Americans claimed as their own. Master-Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry was but twenty-six years of age when the Navy Department called him from his pleasant home at Newport and sent him to command a navy summoned from the primeval forests of the Northwest. Young as he was Perry had seen service in the wars with France and Tripoli, and he had requested the Navy Department at the commencement of the conflict with England to send him where he could meet the enemies of his country. Perry arrived at Erie, then known as Presque Isle, in March, 1813. Sailing Master Daniel Dobbins and Noah Brown, a shipwright from New York, were busily at work on the new fleet. Two brigs, the Niagara and the Lawrence, were built with white and black oak and chestnut frames, the outside planking being of oak and the decks of pine. Two gunboats were newly planked up, and work on a schooner was just begun. The vessels had to be vigilantly guarded against attack by the British, who were fully aware of the work being done. The capture of Fort George left the Niagara River open, and several American vessels which had been unable before to pass the Canadian batteries were now, with great exertion, drawn into the lake. These were the brig Caledonia, the schooners Somers, Tigress and Ohio, and the sloop Trippe. An English squadron set out to intercept the new arrivals, but Perry succeeded in gaining the harbor of Erie before the enemy made their appearance.
The American ships were ready for sea on July 10, but officers and sailors were lacking, and it was not until about the close of the month that Perry had three hundred men to man his ten vessels. While the British squadron, under Captain Robert Heriot Barclay maintained a vigorous blockade, Perry found that his new brigs could not cross the bar without landing their guns and being blocked up on scows. Commander Barclay, thinking that Perry could not move, made a visit of ceremony with his squadron to Port Dover, on the Canadian side. During Barclay's absence Perry got the Lawrence and Niagara over the bar, and the British commander was astonished, when he returned on the morning of August 5, to see the American fleet riding at anchor, and ready for battle. Barclay wished to delay the naval combat until after the completion at Malden of a ten-gun ship called the Detroit, which was to be added to his force, and he therefore put into that harbor. Perry improved the delay to exercise his crews, largely made up of soldiers, in seamanship.
It was not until September 10 that the British squadron came out to give battle. Master-Commandant Perry had nine vessels mounting fifty-four guns, with 1536 pounds of metal. The British squadron consisted of six vessels, mounting sixty-three guns, with a total weight of 852 pounds. The American vessels were manned by 490 men and the British by 502 men and boys. In discipline, training and physical condition, however, the difference of crews was much more in favor of the British than the numbers indicate. The brig Lawrence was Perry's flagship; Barclay's pennant flew on the Detroit. As the American vessels stood out to sea Perry hoisted a large blue flag with the words of the dying Lawrence in white muslin—"Don't give up the ship!" He prepared for defeat as well as for victory, by gathering all his important papers in a package weighted and ready to be thrown overboard in the event of disaster. It may be said that Perry fought the earlier part of the battle almost alone, a slow-sailing brig, the Caledonia, being in line ahead of the Niagara, and Perry, having given orders that the vessels should preserve their stations.
In the duel of long guns the British had a decided advantage and their fire being concentrated on the Lawrence that vessel soon became a wreck. Of one hundred and three men fit for duty on board the American flagship, eighty-three were killed or wounded. These figures sufficiently indicate the carnage; but Perry fought on. "Can any of the wounded pull a rope?" cried Perry, and mangled men crawled out to help in training the guns. For nearly three hours the Lawrence with the schooners Ariel and Scorpion, fought the British fleet. Then Master-Commandant Elliott, of the Niagara, fearing Perry had been killed, undertook, notwithstanding Perry's previous orders, to go out of line to the help of the Lawrence. Perry then changed his flag to the Niagara, leaving orders with First Lieutenant John J. Yarnall, of the Lawrence, to hold out to the last. Perry at once sent Master-Commandant Elliott in a boat to bring up the schooners, and meantime Lieutenant Yarnall, deciding that further resistance would mean the destruction of all on board, lowered the flag on the Lawrence. The English thought they were already victors, and gave three cheers, but the Lawrence drifted out of range before they could take possession of her, and the Stars and Stripes were raised again over her blood-stained decks.
The battle had in truth only begun, but was soon to end. The remainder of the American squadron closed in on the English vessels, raking them fore and aft. The English officers and men were swept from their decks by the hurricane of iron. It was the United States and the Macedonian on a smaller scale. The American cannonade at close quarters was so fast and furious that the British ships were soon in a condition that left no choice save between sinking or surrender. In fifteen minutes after the Americans closed in a British officer waved a white hand-kerchief. The enemy had struck. Two of the English vessels, the Chippewa and the Little Belt, sought to escape to Maiden, but were pursued and captured by the sloop Trippe and the Scorpion. Perry proceeded to the Lawrence, and on the decks of his flagship, still slippery with blood, he received the surrender of the English officers. Perry wrote with a pencil on the back of an old letter his famous dispatch: "We have met the enemy, and they are ours—two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop." The Americans lost in the battle twenty-seven killed and ninety-six wounded, of whom twenty-two were killed and sixty-one wounded on board the Lawrence. Twelve of the American quarter-deck officers were killed. The British lost forty-one killed and ninety-four wounded, making a total of one hundred and thirty-five. Commander Barclay, one of Nelson's veterans, had lost an arm in a previous naval engagement. He gave his men an admirable example of courage, being twice wounded, once in the thigh and once in the shoulder, thus being deprived of the use of his remaining arm. Captain Finnis, of the Queen Charlotte, was mortally wounded, and died on the same evening.
Thousands on the American and British shores witnessed or listened to the conflict, conscious that upon the result depended the future of the Northwest. None listened with more patriotic eagerness than John Kinzie, already mentioned as the first resident of Chicago, then a prisoner at Maiden, having been removed from Detroit on suspicion that he was in correspondence with General Harrison. Kinzie was taking a promenade under guard, when he heard the guns on Lake Erie. The time allotted to the prisoner for his daily walk expired, but neither he nor his guard observed the fact, so anxiously were they catching every sound from what they now felt sure was an engagement between ships of war. At length Mr. Kinzie was reminded that the hour for his return to confinement had arrived. He pleaded for another half hour.
"Let me stay," said he, "till we can learn how the battle has gone."
Very soon a sloop appeared under press of sail, rounding the point, and presently two vessels in chase of her.
"She is running—she bears the British colors," cried Kinzie—"yes, yes, they are lowering—they are striking her flag! Now"—turning to the soldiers, "I will go back to prison contented. I know how the battle has gone."
The sloop was the Little Belt, the last of the British fleet to surrender, after a vain attempt to escape. The Father of Chicago had seen the end of the battle which made possible the Chicago of to-day.
Perry's victory compelled the enemy to evacuate Detroit, and all their posts in American territory except Michilimacinac, which place remained in the possession of the British until the close of the war. Soon after the battle of Lake Erie, General Harrison crossed to the Canadian shore, entered Maiden, and then passed on in pursuit of Proctor and Tecumseh, who were in full retreat up the valley of the Thames. In the battle of the Thames, which followed, the British were completely routed, and Tecumseh was slain. The Northwest was now secure. The British had been driven back and their Indian ally, Tecumseh, with his great scheme of an independent Indian power, had passed away.
In the Southwest, however, the struggle between whites and Indians continued to rage, the latter being led by a half-breed Creek named Weathersford. The massacre of more than four hundred men, women and children by the Creeks at Fort Mimms, in what is now Alabama, aroused the frontiers to fury, and Andrew Jackson, already known as "Old Hickory," the idol of his troops and the terror of the feeble War Department, took the field at the head of twenty-five hundred men. He showed himself a master of forest warfare, and in the bloody battle of Horseshoe Bend he broke the strength of the Creeks forever. Weathersford sought the tent of his conqueror, and asked for mercy for his people—not for himself. Jackson, who could respect in others the courage with which he was so eminently endowed, granted generous terms to the vanquished, and Weathersford lived thereafter in harmony with the whites. The autumn of 1813 witnessed the subjection of the hostile Indian tribes from the Lakes to the Gulf.
The American navy continued to distinguish itself on the ocean as on the lakes, in heroic defeat as well as in signal victory. While Captain David Porter, in the Essex, swept British commerce and privateers from the Pacific, starting out with a frigate and starting home with a fleet, all taken by himself during a cruise unsurpassed for skill, daring and success, Master-Commandant William Henry Allen, of the American brig Argus, lost his life and his vessel in battle with the British brig Pelican. The defeat of the Argus is believed to have been caused by the use of defective powder, which had been taken from on board a prize, and which did not give the cannon shot force enough to do serious damage to the enemy. Allen's death was due to his remaining on deck to direct his men after he had been seriously wounded. He was one of the best officers in the navy. The defeat and capture of the British brig-of-war Boxer, fourteen guns, after a sharp engagement, by the American schooner Enterprise, sixteen guns, in some degree compensated for the loss of the Argus. Captain Samuel Blythe, of the Boxer, nailed his colors to the mast and was killed at the first broadside. Lieutenant William Burrows, of the Enterprise, was mortally wounded, but lived long enough to have the British commander's sword placed in his hands. The splendid cruise of the Essex ended most unfortunately at Valparaiso, where the frigate was attacked while in port by the British thirty-six-gun frigate Phœbe and eighteen-gun ship-sloop Cherub. The Essex was in a disabled condition. The British stood off beyond reach of the American's short guns, and kept up a terrific cannonade with their long guns, of which the two British vessels had thirty-eight and the Essex only six. Captain Porter held out for about two hours under these unequal conditions, while his men were slaughtered and his vessel cut to pieces—he himself being foremost in exposure and danger. At length he surrendered. "Her colors," said the British commander, "were not struck until the loss in killed and wounded was so awfully great, and her shattered condition so seriously bad, as to render further resistance unavailing."
Fresh bitterness was added to the struggle about the close of 1813 by the imprudent and inhuman action of General McClure, the American commander at Fort George, in setting fire to the Canadian village of Newark in almost the depth of winter and turning out the inhabitants homeless wanderers in the snow. This outrage provoked but did not justify the massacre by the British of the helpless sick and unresisting at Fort Niagara, and the wasting of villages and settlements on the American side of the frontier. The invasion of Canada in 1814 by the Americans under General Jacob Brown proved little more than a border raid, although the Americans won a well-fought battle at Chippewa and a costly victory at Lundy's Lane, on both of which occasions General Winfield Scott gained merited distinction. The tide of war rolled back and forth a good deal like the old border strife between Scotland and England. Each side felt that it had wrongs to avenge, and wounds were inflicted by petty raids and skirmishes deeper and more rankling than those of a regular campaign. While these were the conditions on the northern frontier, the shores of the Republic were harassed by the fleet of Admiral Cockburn from Delaware Bay to Florida. Villages were plundered, plantations devastated and slaves carried off under the false promise of freedom, to be sold in the West Indies. The people living on and near the coast were kept in ceaseless alarm by these marauders, who descended in unexpected places, and inflicted all the damage within their power.
The overthrow of Napoleon in 1814, left the United States alone in hostility to Napoleon's triumphant foe, and the British government prepared to carry on the war vigorously. A powerful fleet appeared in Chesapeake Bay, and landed an army of about five thousand men under the command of General Robert Ross. The authorities at Washington were entirely unprepared for the attack, and the British, after defeating an American force, more like a mob than an army, at the battle of Bladensburg, marched into Washington. There, in a manner worthy of vandals, the public buildings, including the Capitol and the President's house, were given to the flames. While this act of barbarism was disapproved by the English people, it is not to be forgotten that it was hailed with delight and laudation by the British Government, and that a monument to General Ross was erected in Westminster Abbey. The British followed up the firing of Washington by an effort to capture Baltimore. The brave defenders of Fort McHenry held out successfully against Cockburn's fleet, and General Ross lost his life while attempting to co-operate with the fleet. Francis S. Key, a resident of Georgetown, D. C., was detained on board a British ship while Fort McHenry was being bombarded, and in the depth of his anxiety for his country's flag he wrote that famous song, "The Star Spangled Banner." Finding that their vandalism only served to inflame American patriotism instead of "chastising the Americans into submission," as Cockburn had been ordered to do, the invaders withdrew to their vessels.
British Designs on the Southwest—New Orleans as a City of Refuge—The Baratarians—The Pirates Reject British Advances—General Jackson Storms Pensacola—Captain Reid's Splendid Fight at Fayal—Edward Livingston Advises Jackson—Cotton Bales for Redoubts—The British Invasion—Jackson Attacks the British at Villere's—The Opposing Armies—General Pakenham Attempts to Carry Jackson's Lines by Storm—The British Charge—They Are Defeated with Frightful Slaughter—Pakenham Killed—Last Naval Engagement —The President-Endymion Fight—Peace—England Deserts the Indians as She Had Deserted the Tories—Decatur Chastises the Algerians.
An invasion of the Southwest by way of the Mississippi, and the seizure of New Orleans, were also included in the British plans. New Orleans at this time, although many good people were included among its inhabitants, attracted the refuse of the United States. The character of the place can be judged from an incident which occurred in Boston about the period of which I am writing. A merchant who had formed an establishment in Louisiana, happening to be in Boston, saw in a newspaper of that city a vessel advertised to sail thence for New Orleans. He called upon the owner, and asked him to consign the ship to his house. The owner told the applicant in strict confidence that he had no intention of sending the vessel to New Orleans, but had advertised that alleged destination in the hope that among the persons applying for a passage he should find a rascal who had defrauded one of his friends out of a considerable sum of money, "New Orleans," he added, "being the natural rendezvous of rogues and scoundrels." Among persons answering the latter description were the pirates known as "Baratarians," because they lived on Barataria Bay, just west of the mouths of the Mississippi River. They pretended to prey upon Spanish commerce only, but they made very little distinction and sold their plunder openly in the markets of New Orleans. The slave-trade was, however, their chief resource. They captured Spanish and other slaves on the high seas, and sold them to planters who were glad to buy for from $150 to $200 each, negroes worth three or four times that amount in the regular market. Jean Lafitte was the chief of these marauders. A Frenchman by origin he felt some attachment, it appears, to the country which tolerated him and his fellow-pirates, and when the commander of the British Gulf Squadron offered to pay the Baratarians to join him in an attack on New Orleans, Lafitte at once sent the dispatches received from the British to Governor Claiborne, of Louisiana. The people of New Orleans, under the leadership of Edward Livingston, the noted jurist, and former mayor of New York, organized a Committee of Safety, and prepared to assist in repelling the enemy. General Jackson, now major-general in the regular army, and in command of the Department of the South, repulsed the British from Mobile, and took Pensacola by storm, and thus freed from apprehension of an attack from Florida, he proceeded to defend New Orleans.
Fortunately for the American cause Captain Samuel C. Reid, commander of the privateer General Armstong, being attacked in the neutral harbor of Fayal by the British commodore, Lloyd, and his squadron, resisted the onset with such extraordinary courage and energy as to severely cripple his assailants. Captain Reid was obliged to scuttle his ship to prevent her from falling into the hands of the British, but the latter lost one hundred and twenty killed and one hundred and thirty wounded in the unequal battle, and Lloyd's squadron was not able to join the expedition at Jamaica until ten days after the date appointed for departure. The General Armstrong lost only two men killed and seven wounded in this memorable fight, which gave Jackson ample time to prepare the defence of New Orleans.
To New Orleans had resorted many adherents of the old Bourbon monarchy, driven from France by the Revolution, and also at a more recent date some of the followers of Napoleon. Among the former was a French emigrant major named St. Geme, who had once been in the English service in Jamaica, and now commanded a company in a battalion of citizens. This officer had been a favored companion of the distinguished French general, Moreau, when the latter, on a visit to Louisiana, a few years previously, had scanned with the critical eye of a tactician, the position of New Orleans and its capabilities of defence. Edward Livingston, who acted as an aide-de-camp to General Jackson, advised the general to consult St. Geme, and the latter pointed out the Rodriguez Canal as the position which Moreau himself had fixed upon as the most defensible, especially for irregular troops. Jackson approved and acted upon the advice thus given, and hastened to cast up intrenchments along the line of the canal from the Mississippi back to an impassable swamp two miles away. In building the redoubts the ground was found to be swampy and slimy, and the earth almost unavailable for any sort of fortification, whereupon a French engineer suggested the employment of cotton bales. The requisite cotton was at once taken from a barque already laden for Havana. The owner of the cotton, Vincent Nolte, complained to Edward Livingston, who was his usual legal adviser. "Well, Nolte," said Livingston, "since it is your cotton you will not mind the trouble of defending it." Before the final battle a red hot ball set fire to the cotton, thereby endangering the gunpowder, and the cotton was removed, leaving only an earth embankment about five feet high, with a ditch in front to protect the Americans.
The British troops, about 7000 in number, disembarked at Lake Borgne, after capturing an American flotilla which had been sent to prevent the landing. About nine miles from New Orleans, at Villere's Plantation, the invaders formed a camp, and they were suddenly attacked by Jackson on the evening of December 23. The battle raged fearfully in the darkness, Jackson's Tennesseans using knives and tomahawks with deadly effect. The Americans had the advantage, but in the fog and darkness Jackson could not follow up his success. Lieutenant-General Edward Pakenham, one of the bravest and ablest of Wellington's veterans, landed on Christmas Day with reinforcements which made the British army about 8000 strong. Jackson had planted heavy guns along his line of defence, and had about 4000 men to receive Pakenham. Among the most efficient of these were the 500 riflemen who fought with Jackson against the Creeks, and who were known as Coffee's brigade, from their commander's name. Trained in repeated encounters with the savages they knew little of military organization, but were inaccessible to fear, perfectly cool in danger, of great presence of mind and personal resource, and above all unerring marksmen. Among the New Orleans militia were several officers who had served under Napoleon, and had met on the battlefields of Europe the British veterans they were now about to confront in America. The Baratarians, too, should not be forgotten, and these, with the regular troops, the militia and the citizens, and many negroes, free and slave, composed about as mixed an array as ever fought a battle on American soil.
The British made an assault on the twenty-eighth, and were repulsed with loss. On the night of December 31, they prepared for the closing struggle by erecting batteries upon which they mounted heavy ordnance within six hundred yards of the American breastworks. On the morning of January 1, 1815, the British opened fire, Jackson replying with his heavy guns. The British batteries were demolished, an attempt to turn the American flank was repulsed by Coffee and his riflemen, and the day ended in gloom and disaster for the invaders. The American forces, strengthened by the arrival of one thousand Kentuckians, awaited the renewal of the attack. Pakenham determined to carry Jackson's lines by storm. At dawn on January 8, the British advanced in solid column under a most destructive fire from the American batteries. On marched the men before whom the best troops of Napoleon had been unable to stand—on they marched as steadily as if on parade, the living closing in as the dead and wounded dropped out. Was it to be Badajos over again?
The British were within two hundred yards of the American breastworks. Suddenly the Tennessee and Kentucky sharpshooters, four ranks deep, rose from their concealment, and at the command—"Fire!"—a storm of bullets swept through the British lines. And it was not a single volley. As the Tennesseans fired they fell back and loaded, while the Kentuckians fired. And so the deadly blast of lead mowed down the British ranks while round and grape and chain-shot ploughed and shrieked through the now wavering battalions. General Pakenham, at the head of his men, urged them forward with encouraging words, while he had one horse shot under him and his bridle arm disabled by a bullet. The British rallied and rushed forward again amid the tempest of death. Pakenham, mortally wounded, was caught in the arms of his aid, and his troops, no longer sustained by their leader's presence and example, fell back in disorder. In this fearful charge the British lost 2600 men, killed, wounded and made prisoners. The Americans lost only eight killed and thirteen wounded. On the night of January 19, the British retired to their fleet.
The last naval engagement of the war took place in January, 1815, between the American frigate President, forty-four guns, commanded by Commodore Stephen Decatur, and the British frigate, Endymion, forty guns, Captain Hope. The battle began about three o'clock in the afternoon, and lasted until eleven o'clock at night, both commanders showing remarkable skill and resolution in the conflict, which was at long range. The Endymion was nearly dismantled and about to surrender when three other British men-of-war came up, and Decatur, being overpowered, had to strike his colors. The President had twenty-four men killed and fifty-six wounded, and the Endymion had eleven killed and fourteen wounded.
A treaty of peace had been signed at Ghent between the American and British commissioners on Christmas Eve, 1814. England yielded nothing and received nothing. The issues which had provoked the war were ignored in its termination—indeed it was unnecessary to deal with them. As Niles Register stated the case in December, 1814: "With the general pacification of Europe, the chief causes for which we went to war with Great Britain have, from the nature of things, ceased to affect us; it is not for us to quarrel for forms. Britain may pretend to any right she pleases, provided she does not exercise it to our injury." The moral effect of the war was, however, favorable to the United States. American naval victories and the battle of New Orleans taught England that America was not an enemy to be despised on either sea or land. The War of 1812 has sometimes been called the second War of Independence, and its effect certainly was to establish for the United States a respectable position among independent powers. Even England's satellites in the confederacy against Napoleon could not but admire the courage of the American people in bearding the British lion, and the chief magistrate of Ghent voiced the feeling of Europe when he offered the sentiment, at a dinner to the American Commissioners—"May they succeed in making an honorable peace to secure the liberty and independence of their country."
England had to give up her demand for special terms for the Indians who had assisted her in the war. The scheme to create an Indian nation in the Northwest, with permanent boundaries, not to be trespassed by the United States, was abandoned, although at first declared by the British Commissioners to be a sine qua non and the Indians had to accept terms dictated by the United States. The British had made lavish promises to the Indians when seeking them for allies, but the red men were deserted, as the loyalists of the Revolution had been deserted, at the close of hostilities. The Indians felt this keenly, especially as the Americans treated them as generously as if no hostilities had interrupted former relations.
Peace with England gave the United States opportunity to chastise the Algerians, whose Dey, Hadgi Ali, a sanguinary tyrant, had been committing outrages on American commerce ever since the beginning of the war with the British. Commodore Decatur was sent to the Mediterranean in May, 1815, with a squadron to chastise the Dey. He had no difficulty in encountering the Algerian corsairs, who supposed that the American navy no longer existed. Decatur, after a brief engagement, captured the Dey's flagship, and this was followed by the capture of another man-of-war belonging to the pirates. Decatur then sailed for Algiers with his squadron and prizes. The terrified despot appeared on the quarter-deck of Decatur's flagship, the Guerriere, gave up the captives in his hands, and signed a treaty dictated by the American commodore. Decatur then sailed to Tunis and Tripoli, and compelled the rulers of those States to make restitution for having allowed the British to capture American vessels in their harbors. In view of the services of the Danish consul, Mr. Nissen, when Captain Bainbridge was a prisoner in Tripoli, it is gratifying to know that Commodore Decatur, while in that port, secured the release of eight Danish seamen. History does not record whether Decatur, on this occasion, visited the lonely grave supposed to contain the mortal remains of Somers, the companion of his youth, and the hero of the gunpowder enterprise during the war with Tripoli. What emotions must have filled Decatur's mind as the old scenes brought back to him the memory of his own brave exploit—the destruction of the Philadelphia—and of the unhappy fate of his bosom friend!
England and Spanish America—A Significant Declaration—The Key to England's Policy in South America—Alexander Hamilton and the South Americans—President Adams' Grandson a Filibuster—Origin of the Revolutions in South America—Colonial Zeal for Spain—Colonists Driven to Fight for Independence—A War of Extermination—Patriot Leaders—The British Assist the Revolutionists—American Caution and Reserve—The Monroe Doctrine—Why England Championed the Spanish-American Republics— A Free Field Desired for British Trade—The Holy Alliance—Secretary Canning and President Monroe—The Monroe Declaration Not British, But American.
The same motives which had prompted England to impose oppressive restrictions upon American trade, thereby driving the colonies to strike for independence, prompted her to assist South America in throwing off the yoke of Spain. England did not expect to conquer Spain's American colonies for herself, but she desired to liberate them in order to annex them commercially. Hardly had King George recognized the independence of the United States when his ministers were scheming to effect the independence of South America. As early as June 26, 1797, Thomas Picton, governor of the British island of Trinidad, in the West Indies, issued an address to certain revolutionists in Venezuela in which, speaking by authority of the British Minister of Foreign Affairs, he said:
"The object which at present I desire most particularly to recommend to your attention, is the means which might be best adapted to liberate the people of the continent near to the Island of Trinidad, from the oppressive and tyrannic system which supports, with so much rigor, the monopoly of commerce, under the title of exclusive registers, which their government licenses demand; also to draw the greatest advantages possible, and which the local situation of the island presents, by opening a direct and free communication with the other parts of the world, without prejudice to the commerce of the British nation. In order to fulfill this intention with greater facility, it will be prudent for your Excellency to animate the inhabitants of Trinidad in keeping up the communication which they had with those of Terra Firma, previous to the reduction of that island; under the assurance, that they will find there an entrepôt, or general magazine, of every sort of goods whatever. To this end, his Britannic Majesty has determined, in council, to grant freedom to the ports of Trinidad, with a direct trade to Great Britain.
"With regard to the hopes you entertain of raising the spirits of those persons, with whom you are in correspondence, toward encouraging the inhabitants to resist the oppressive authority of their government, I have little more to say, than that they may be certain that, whenever they are in that disposition, they may receive, at your hands, all the succors to be expected from his Britannic Majesty, be it with forces, or with arms and ammunition to any extent; with the assurance, that the views of his Britannic Majesty go no further than to secure to them their independence, without pretending to any sovereignty over their country, nor even to interfere in the privileges of the people, nor in their political, civil or religious rights."
This declaration is the key to Great Britain's policy in Spanish America during the century since it was issued. The conspiracy which evoked Governor Picton's plain statement of England's attitude toward the South American colonies, was discovered by the Spanish authorities, and J. M. Espana, one of its leaders, was executed. William Pitt continued to scheme for Spanish-American independence, and succeeded in enlisting the sympathy of Alexander Hamilton and Rufus King, American Minister at London. President John Adams, however, would have nothing to do with the movement, which he regarded as a plot to drive the United States into a British alliance against the French, and possibly this may have been in the mind of Pitt. The American people were not as cold as the President, however, on the subject of South America, and Francisco Miranda, a voluntary exile from Venezuela on account of his republican principles, succeeded in organizing a filibustering force in New York, one of the members of which was a grandson of the President himself. The expedition was defeated and nearly all engaged in it were captured by the Spaniards, among them young William S. Smith, John Adams' grandson. Yrujo, the Spanish Minister at Washington, offered to interpose in behalf of a pardon for the young man, but President Adams declined to use his exalted office to obtain any respite for the youth who had so unfortunately proved his inheritance of the old Adams' devotion to liberty. "My blood should flow upon a Spanish scaffold," wrote America's chief magistrate, "before I would meanly ask or accept a distinction in favor of my grandson." The young man's life was spared, however, and he returned to the United States.
Francisco Miranda, who had made his escape to Barbadoes, raised a force of four hundred men, with the assistance of the British, landed in Venezuela, and proclaimed a provisional government. This expedition was also unsuccessful, and Miranda retired under the protection of a British man-of-war. At this time there was no general feeling in South America in favor of independence. Although some scattering sparks from the sacred altar of liberty had found their way into Spanish America; notwithstanding the severity of the colonial system, and the corruptions and abuses of power which everywhere prevailed; such was the habitual loyalty of the creoles of America; such the degradation and insignificance of the other races; so inveterate were the prejudices of all, and so powerful was the influence of a state religion, maintained by an established hierarchy, that it is probable the colonies would have continued, for successive ages, to be governed by a nation six thousand miles distant, who had no interest in common with them, and whose oppressions, they had borne for three centuries, had not that nation been shaken at home, by an extraordinary revolution, and its government overturned.
Among other good results which the ambition of Napoleon Bonaparte produced without intention on his part, was the uprising against Spanish oppression in South America. When Napoleon compelled Ferdinand to abdicate the crown of Spain in favor of Joseph Bonaparte, the loyalty and spirit of the Spaniards were aroused, and the people refused to submit to a monarch imposed on them by treachery and supported by foreign bayonets. In the provinces not occupied by the French, juntas were established which assumed the government of their districts; and that at Seville, styling itself the supreme junta of Spain and the Indies, despatched deputies to the different governments in America, requiring an acknowledgment of its authority; to obtain which, it was represented that the junta was acknowledged and obeyed throughout Spain. At the same time the regency created at Madrid by Ferdinand when he left his capital, and the junta at Asturias, each claimed superiority, and endeavored to direct the affairs of the nation.
Napoleon, on his part, was not less attentive to America; agents were sent in the name of Joseph, king of Spain, to communicate to the colonies the abdication of Ferdinand, and Joseph's accession to the throne, and to procure the recognition of his authority by the Americans. Thus the obedience of the colonies was demanded by no less than four tribunals, each claiming to possess supreme authority at home. There could scarcely have occurred a conjuncture more favorable for the colonists to throw off their dependence on Spain, being convulsed, as she was, by a civil war, the king a prisoner, the monarchy subverted and the people unable to agree among themselves where the supreme authority was vested, or which of the pretenders was to be obeyed. The power of the parent state over its colonies was de facto at an end; in consequence of which they were, in a measure, required to "provide new guards for their security." But so totally unprepared were the colonists for a political revolution that instead of these events being regarded as auspicious to their welfare, they only served to prove the strength of their loyalty and attachment to Spain. Notwithstanding that the viceroys and captain-generals, excepting the viceroy of New Spain, manifested a readiness to acquiesce in the cessions of Bayonne, to yield to the new order of things, and to sacrifice their king, provided they could retain their places, in which they were confirmed by the new king, the news of the occurrences in Spain filled the people with indignation; they publicly burnt the proclamations sent out by King Joseph, expelled his agents, and such was their rage that all Frenchmen in the colonies became objects of insult and execration. In their zeal, not for their own but for Spanish independence, the colonists, up to the year 1810, supplied not less than ninety millions of dollars to Spain to assist in carrying on the war against France.
At length, about the year 1809, the people of the several provinces began to form juntas of their own, not with the object of throwing off the Spanish yoke, but the better to protect themselves, should the French succeed in establishing their power in the peninsula. The Spanish viceroys, alarmed for their own authority, met the movement with unsparing hostility. In the city of Quito the popular junta was suppressed by an armed force, and hundreds of persons were massacred and the city plundered by the Spanish troops. Notwithstanding these cruelties the people remained faithful to the crown of Spain, and the junta of Caracas, having deposed the colonial officers, and organized a new administration, still acted in the name of Ferdinand the Seventh, and offered to aid in the prosecution of the war against France. The impotent Council of Regency, which pretended to represent the ancient government in Spain, treated the position taken by the colonists as a declaration of independence, and sent troops to dragoon the Americans into submission. Thus the Spanish-Americans were compelled to assume an independence of the mother country which they had neither sought nor desired, and on July 5, 1811, Venezuela took the lead in formally casting off allegiance to Spain.
The war which followed was of the most sanguinary character. The patriots of South America were denounced as rebels and traitors, and the vengeance of the State, and the anathemas of the Church, directed against them. That a contest commenced under such auspices should have become a war of extermination, and in its progress have exhibited horrid scenes of cruelty, desolation, and deliberate bloodshed; that all offers of accommodation were repelled with insult and outrage; capitulations violated, public faith disregarded, prisoners of war cruelly massacred, and the inhabitants persecuted, imprisoned, and put to death, cannot occasion surprise, however much it may excite indignation. As violence and cruelty always tend to provoke recrimination and revenge, the outrages of the Spaniards exasperated the Americans, and led to retaliation, which rendered the contest a war of death, as it was often called, characterized by a ferocious and savage spirit, scarcely surpassed by that of Cortes and Pizarro. The violent measures of the Spanish rulers, and the furious and cruel conduct of their agents in America, toward the patriots, produced an effect directly contrary to what was expected; but which nevertheless might have been foreseen, had the Spaniards taken counsel from experience instead of from their mortified pride and exasperated feelings. Arbitrary measures, enforced with vigor and cruelty, instead of extinguishing the spirit of independence, only served to enliven its latent sparks and blow them into flame. Miranda died in chains, and Hidalgo, the patriot priest of Mexico, was put to death by his cruel captors, but Bolivar and Paez, Sucre and San Martin, led the patriot armies to ultimate victory, and established the independence of Spanish America. Only one great revolutionary leader, Iturbide, failed to follow the example of Washington. Iturbide attempted to found an imperial dynasty in Mexico, and lost his life and his crown. Bolivar, on the other hand, with a foresight worthy of Washington himself, sought to form a general confederation of all the States of what was formerly Spanish America, with the object of uniting the resources and means of the several States for their general defence and security. This great project was accepted by Chile, Peru and Mexico, and treaties concluded in accordance therewith.
Throughout the South American struggle for independence Great Britain gave assistance to the patriots almost as freely and openly as if she had been at war with Spain. Veteran officers who had served in the British armies against Napoleon, joined the South American forces, and an Irish Legion of one thousand men, raised by General D'Evereux, sailed from Dublin for Colombia. A banquet was given to General D'Evereux, before his departure, at which two thousand guests were present, and the celebrated orator, Charles Philips, delivered a most eloquent address. Lord Cochrane, Earl of Dundonald, commanding the Chilian fleet, drove the Spaniards from the Pacific. American as well as English officers and seamen served under Cochrane's flag, and took part in his exploits, of which the most brilliant was the cutting out of a Spanish frigate from under the guns of Callao. Under the protection of the batteries of the castle of Callao lay three Spanish armed vessels, a forty-gun frigate and two sloops-of-war, guarded by fourteen gunboats. On the night of the fifth of November, 1820, Lord Cochrane, with 240 volunteers in fourteen boats, entered the inner harbor, and succeeded in cutting out the Spanish frigate with the loss of only forty-one men killed and wounded. The Spanish loss was 120 men. This success annihilated the Spanish naval power in those waters.
When a commissioner from the patriots of New Grenada applied at Washington in 1812, for assistance, President Madison answered that "though the United States were not in alliance, they were at peace with Spain, and could not therefore assist the independents; still, as inhabitants of the same continent, they wished well to their exertions." Notwithstanding the policy of the government, founded on the dictates of prudence and caution, the people of the United States almost universally felt a deep and lively interest in the success of their brethren in South America, engaged in the same desperate struggle for liberty which they themselves had gone through. Near the close of the year 1817, the President of the United States appointed three commissioners, Messrs. Rodney, Bland, and Graham, to visit the revolted colonies in South America and to ascertain their political condition, and their means and prospects of securing their independence; and early in 1818, the legislators of Kentucky adopted resolutions, expressing their sense of the propriety and expediency of the national government acknowledging the independence of the South American republics. These resolutions probably emanated from the influence of Henry Clay, from the first a zealous and steadfast friend of the South American patriots. Some Americans joined the patriot forces, and supplies of ammunition and muskets were furnished to them from this country. President Monroe was able to state to Congress, in 1819, that the greatest care had been taken to enforce the laws intended to preserve an impartial neutrality. Briefly summed up, the attitude of the American government throughout the South American struggle was one of distance, caution and reserve, while England boldly ignored international laws, and fought her way through her filibusters to the hearts and the commerce of the Spanish-Americans.
It is needless to go into extended discussion as to the authorship of the Monroe Doctrine. Intelligent self-interest inspired the United States and England to support the independence of South America. England's motive was chiefly commercial and partly political. She wanted Spanish America to be independent because the continent would thus be thrown open to British commerce, and because, not looking forward herself to territorial aggrandizement in that direction, she wished other powers to keep their hands off. The British government had no desire, in taking this position, to promote the growth and extension of republican institutions. The ruling class in Great Britain would doubtless have preferred to see every Spanish-American State a monarchy, provided that under monarchy it could be equally useful to the British empire and independent of every other European power. If England, in championing the Spanish-American republics seemed to champion republican institutions, it was because republican institutions gave the strongest assurance of political separation from Europe, and of a free field for Great Britain.
On the part of the United States the Monroe Doctrine was the formal and authoritative expression of a sentiment which had animated American breasts from the origin of the Republic. The Monroe Doctrine is based on patriotism and self-preservation, and the crisis which called it forth was of the gravest consequence to the American people. The Spanish empire in America had never been a menace to the United States. It was too decrepit to be dangerous. Conditions would have been very different with France, for instance, or Prussia, established as a great South American power. There was the strongest reason for believing that the governments of continental Europe combined in the "Holy Alliance" seriously intended to dispose the destinies of South America, as they had divided the continent of Europe. The primary object of the allied powers—the proscription of all political reforms originating from the people—could leave no doubt of the concern and hostility with which they viewed the development of events in Spanish America, and the probable establishment of several independent, free States, resting on institutions emanating from the will and the valor of the people. But there is more specific evidence of their hostile intentions—Don Jose Vaventine Gomez, envoy from the government of Buenos Ayres at Paris, in a note to the secretary of his government of the twentieth of April, 1819, said that "the diminution of republican governments was a basis of the plans adopted by the holy alliance for the preservation of their thrones; and that in consequence, the republics of Holland, Venice, and Genoa, received their deathblow at Vienna, at the very time that the world was amused by the solemn declaration that all the States of Europe would be restored to the same situation they were in before the French revolution. The sovereigns assembled at Aix la Chapelle, have agreed, secretly, to draw the Americans to join them in this policy, when Spain should be undeceived, and have renounced the project of re-conquering her provinces; and the king of Portugal warmly promoted this plan through his ministers." France also sought by intrigue to secure the acceptance by the United Provinces and Chile of a monarchical government under French protection.
For the reasons before stated these designs naturally alarmed Canning, England's distinguished Minister of Foreign Affairs, and he proposed to Mr. Rush, the American Minister at London, that Great Britain and the United States should join in a protest against European interference with the independent States of Spanish America. This was in September 1823, and in a message of December 2, following, President Monroe uttered his famous declaration to the effect that "the United States would consider any attempt on the part of the European powers to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety." Mr. Monroe's motive in issuing this declaration was wholly American and patriotic. England's designs were inevitably aided by the action of the American President, and the English Government approved and their press applauded America's resolute course, but it was not to win English applause, but to defend the integrity of the United States that the Monroe Doctrine was proclaimed to the world. The opposition of Great Britain and the attitude of the United States proved more than the Holy Alliance cared to confront, and the nations of Spanish America were allowed to enjoy without further molestation the independence which they had gained by years of heroic effort and sacrifice.
The United States Taking the Lead in Civilization—Manhood Suffrage and Freedom of Worship—Humane Criminal Laws—Progress the Genius of the Nation—A Patriotic Report—State Builders in the Northwest—Illinois and the Union—Immigration—British Jealousy—An English Farmer's Opinion of America—Commerce and Manufactures—England Tries to Prevent Skilled Artisans from Emigrating—The Beginning of Protection—The British Turn on Their Friends the Algerians—General Jackson Invades Florida—Spain Sells Florida to the United States.
While holding their own against foreign enemies on land and sea the United States were assuming the lead in the march of civilization. Manhood suffrage was gradually taking the place of property suffrage, liberty of worship was recognized in practice as well as theory, and the criminal laws showed a growing spirit of humanity. Capital crimes were few, as compared with Great Britain. "The severity of our criminal laws," wrote William Bradford, the distinguished jurist, and for some time Attorney-General of the United States, "is an exotic plant, and not the growth of Pennsylvania." And Pennsylvania, when left to her own influences and tendencies by the success of the Revolution, was not slow to adopt humane and gratifying reforms, uttering far in advance of some other commonwealths the declaration that "to deter more effectually from the commission of crimes by continued visible punishment of long duration, and to make sanguinary punishments less necessary, houses ought to be provided for punishing by hard labor those who shall be convicted of crimes not capital." In September, 1786, the laws of that State were amended so as to substitute imprisonment at hard labor for capital punishment for robbery, burglary, and one other crime, and it was provided that no attainder should work corruption of blood in any case, and that the estates of persons committing suicide should descend to their natural heirs. It was likewise enacted that "every person convicted of bigamy, or of being accessory after the fact in any felony, or of receiving stolen goods, knowing them to have been stolen, or of any other offence not capital, for which, by the laws now in force, burning in the hand, cutting off the ears, nailing the ear or ears to the pillory, placing in and upon the pillory, whipping, or imprisonment for life, is, or may be inflicted, shall, instead of such parts of the punishment, be fined and sentenced to hard labor for any term not exceeding two years." Also, as if dreading that lax laws might lead to a carnival of crime, the legislators restricted the operation of the new and lenient statute to three years. The act was renewed, however, at the close of that term, and finally, in 1794, the reform of the criminal code was crowned with the declaration that "no crime whatever, excepting murder of the first degree, shall hereafter be punished with death."
Other States either kept pace with or followed the example of Pennsylvania in making their criminal laws more reformatory and less vindictive, and while England affected to despise American civilization, America was leading England in the march of humanity.
The genius of the nation was progress—not the spirit of the huckster, anxious for present gain, but the enlarged view of the patriot, anxious for the future weal of his country and his race. A striking expression of this spirit is shown in the report made in 1812 by Gouverneur Morris, De Witt Clinton and other eminent men on the practicability and prospects of the proposed Erie Canal. After boldly stating that the tolls from this work would amply repay the outlay required for its construction, the report adds: "It is impossible to ascertain and it is difficult to imagine how much toll would be collected; but like our advance in numbers and wealth, calculation out-runs fancy. Things which twenty years ago any man would have been laughed at for believing, we now see. * * * The life of an individual is short. The time is not distant when those who make this report will have passed away. But no time is fixed to the existence of a State; and the first wish of a patriot's heart is that his may be immortal." In the Northwest also, the State-builders of that day were equally farsighted in patriotic provision for the future. When it was proposed to admit Illinois as a State, Nathaniel Pope, delegate in Congress from that territory, urged, that the northern boundary should be extended to take in the port of Chicago, and a considerable coast-line on Lake Michigan, so as to give the State an interest in the lakes and bind it to the North as its southern frontiers bound it to the South and Southwest, thus checking any tendency to sectional disunion. Judge Pope pointed out that associations would thus be formed both with the North and South, and that a State thus situated, having a decided interest in the commerce, and in the preservation of the whole confederacy, could never consent to disunion. These views were happily successful in obtaining the approbation of Congress, and Illinois was saved from the limits which would have made it only a southern border State. In the Southwest, as well as in the North pioneers pushed rapidly into the wilderness, crossing the Mississippi and founding new States in which the long struggle between freedom and slavery was to begin.
When what may be called the blockade of Europe was raised by the final defeat of Napoleon, immigrants began to pour into the United States in large numbers. Many of them, like many immigrants to-day, became stranded in the cities of the coast, without resources and without employment, willing to work, but unable to get work. In February, 1817, James Buchanan, the British consul at New York, issued a warning against immigration to the United States, on the ground, as he alleged, of numerous applications made to his office for aid to return to Great Britain and Ireland, but at the same time the consul stated that he was authorized to place all desirable immigrants, who found themselves destitute in New York, in Upper Canada or Nova Scotia. Mr. Buchanan was evidently not so anxious to assist his fellow-subjects of King George as he was to promote the British policy of building up the Canadian territories as a counterpoise to the United States. While there was undoubtedly some distress among immigrants of the improvident class, those who came here with the determination to work generally found work before long at much better compensation than they could have earned in England, while those who proceeded to the new regions of the West had no difficulty in becoming independent and prosperous freeholders.
"In exchanging the condition of an English farmer for that of an American proprietor," wrote an intelligent immigrant, "I expect to suffer many inconveniences; but I am willing to make a great sacrifice of present ease, were it merely for the sake of obtaining in the decline of life, an exemption from that wearisome solicitude about pecuniary affairs from which even the affluent find no refuge in England; and, for my children, a career of enterprise and wholesome family connections in a society whose institutions are favorable to virtue; and at last the consolation of leaving them efficient members of a flourishing, public-spirited, energetic community; where the insolence of wealth and the servility of pauperism, between which in England there is scarcely an interval remaining, are alike unknown. * * * It has struck me as we have passed along from one poor hut to another, among the rude inhabitants of this infant State, that travelers in general who judge by comparison, are not qualified to form a fair estimate of these lonely settlers. Let a stranger make his tour through England in a course remote from the great roads, and going to no inns, take such, entertainment only as he might find in the cottage of laborers, he would have as much cause to complain of the rudeness of the people, and more of their drunkenness and profligacy than in these backwoods: although in England the poor are a part of society whose institutions are matured by the experience of two thousand years. But in their manners and morals, but especially in their knowledge and proud independence of mind, they exhibit a contrast so striking that he must be a petit maître traveler, or ill-informed of the character and circumstances of his poor countrymen, or deficient in good and manly sentiment, who would not rejoice to transplant into these boundless regions of freedom the millions he has left behind him groveling in ignorance and want."
While a great agricultural domain was being occupied in the West, commerce and manufactures were not neglected. American merchantmen visited every sea, no longer in dread of hostile Briton or Barbary pirate, and internal commerce received a mighty impulse from the steamboat. Meanwhile the foundations were laid of those vast manufacturing interests which were yet to overshadow commerce in the East. As early as 1810, the domestic manufactures of all descriptions were worth $127,694,602 annually, and it was estimated by competent authorities that of $36,793,249—the value of the manufactures of wool, cotton and flax, with their mixtures—fully two-thirds were produced in the houses of the farmers and other inhabitants. England had foreseen that America might prove a powerful rival in the manufacturing field, and Parliament enacted laws to prevent the emigration of skilled artisans. It may seem almost incredible that less than one hundred years ago such a prohibition existed, but I read in an account of a voyage from London to Boston in 1817 that "the passengers were summoned to appear at the Gravesend custom house, personally to deliver in their names and a statement of their professions. Had any been known to be artisans or manufacturers, they would have been stopped and forbidden to leave the kingdom. An act of Parliament imposes a heavy fine on those who induce them to attempt it." Samuel Slater, who brought the Arkwright patents in his brain, evaded the prohibition a few years after the Revolution, and his descendants are to-day among the wealthiest and most reputable of New England's citizens.
The war of 1812-15, gave a tremendous impulse to American manufactures through the exclusion of British and other foreign products. At the close of the war, however, when American ports were thrown open to the trade of Great Britain, the manufacturers of that country, with the deliberate purpose of crushing American industries out of existence, threw vast quantities of goods into the American markets, completely swamping native productions, and making it impossible for native manufacturers to compete with the importations. It was this ruinous relapse from comparative prosperity that prompted the agitation for a protective tariff. As further evidence of British purpose to do all the damage possible to American interests, even in time of peace, it may be mentioned that when Lord Exmouth, with a powerful fleet, visited Algiers in 1816, and negotiated a treaty between the Dey—Omar, the successor of Hadgi Ali—and the kings of Sardinia and Naples, the Algerians began to show themselves again hostile to the United States within a few days after the treaty. The public sentiment of Europe, however, made it impossible for England to make longer use of those pirates to injure commercial rivals, and the British Government, in deference to that sentiment, sought a quarrel with the Dey, bombarded Algiers, and compelled the Barbary States to agree to put an end to piracy—an agreement which remained for some time a dead letter.
The Louisiana Purchase was crowned in 1818 by the purchase of Florida from Spain. Spanish authority in North America had long been little more than a thin disguise, behind which the British plotted and operated against the welfare of the United States. General Jackson had found it necessary in 1814 to capture Pensacola, which the English were using as a base of hostilities. Again in 1818 General Jackson invaded Florida to punish Indians who, incited by British subjects under Spanish protection, were plundering and murdering in American settlements. Jackson took by force the Spanish post of St. Marks, entered Pensacola, and attacked the fort at Barrancas, compelling it to surrender. Two British subjects who had stirred up the Indians to attack the Americans were executed. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams sustained Jackson, notwithstanding the protests of Spain, and the latter power concluded to yield to the inevitable, and sold Florida to the United States on the extinction of the various American claims for spoliation, for the satisfaction of which the United States agreed to pay $5,000,000 to the claimants. Thus all foreign authority was extinguished in the Southeast and the American flag waved from the Florida Keys to the boundaries of New Spain.
The Missouri Compromise—Erie Canal Opened—Political Parties and Great National Issues—President Jackson Crushes the United States Bank—South Carolina Pronounces the Tariff Law Void—Jackson's Energetic Action—A Compromise—Territory Reserved for the Indians—The Seminole War— Osceola's Vengeance—His Capture and Death—The Black Hawk War—Abraham Lincoln a Volunteer—Texas War for Independence—Massacre of the Alamo —Mexican Defeat at San Jacinto—The Mexican President a Captive—Texas Admitted to the Union—Oregon—American Statesmen Blinded by the Hudson Bay Company—Marcus Whitman's Ride—Oregon Saved to the Union—The "Dorr War."
The Missouri Compromise, by which Congress, after admitting Missouri as a slave State, took the parallel of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes as a dividing line through the rest of the Louisiana Purchase, between slavery and freedom, averted for another generation the great struggle between North and South. At peace with the rest of the world, the United States had time to devote to national development without the distraction of war, and financial questions, the tariff and internal improvements engrossed the attention of Congress and of the States. The opening of the Erie Canal, connecting Lake Erie with the Hudson River, in 1825, made central New York the great highway of commerce and of travel, and New York gradually became the leading State of the Union in population, wealth and trade. There was a strong agitation in favor of a general system of roads and canals, connecting the various parts of the country, and to be constructed at the expense of the nation, and not of the States. The party known as National Republicans, direct successors of the Federalists, supported this proposition, and also advocated a high tariff on imports and an extension of the charter of the United States Bank, about to expire in 1836. The Democratic Republicans, now known simply as Democrats, denied the constitutional authority of the national government to construct roads and canals, or to impose a tariff except for revenue, or to charter a national bank. During the administration of John Quincy Adams the National Republicans succeeded in having tariff laws enacted in 1824 and 1828, which gave substantial and, in the view of the Democrats, excessive protection to domestic manufactures.
General Andrew Jackson was elected President in 1828, after a most bitter contest, in which John Quincy Adams was his opponent. Jackson claimed—and the evidence seems to support his claim—that the United States Bank had used all its influence against him, and had even made antagonism to Jackson a condition of mercantile accommodation. He had long before been prejudiced against the bank through the stupid red tapeism of an agent of the bank in New Orleans who stood by a rule not intended for emergencies when Jackson needed money for his army. He was convinced that not only all the power of the bank, but all the power which the Federal Government could exert to defeat him had been exerted, and being victorious in despite of this opposition, he resolved to crush the bank and to make a clean sweep of the officeholders. The old pamphlets in the Astor Library which tell the story of the bank's struggle to escape annihilation are almost pathetic reading. The giant was prostrate, and his enemy had no mercy. In 1832 Jackson vetoed the bill to renew the charter of the bank. Re-elected President in 1832 by an overwhelming majority of votes in the Electoral College, Jackson, in the following year, removed the public money which had been deposited in the United States Bank, and distributed it among various State banks. The Senate censured Jackson, but the censure was expunged after a long struggle, in which Senator Thomas Hart Benton, of Missouri, championed the President.
The opposition to a tariff for protection was very bitter in the South, where the people regarded the tariff duties as a tribute exacted from them for the benefit of the North. This feeling was especially strong in South Carolina, where a State convention undertook to pronounce the tariff law null and void, and held out a threat of secession should the Federal Government attempt to collect the duties. The States of Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia took firm ground against nullification, and on December 10, 1832, President Jackson issued his famous proclamation, exhorting all persons to obey the laws, and denouncing the South Carolina ordinance. "I consider then," said the President, "the power to annul a law of the United States, assumed by one State, incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the Constitution, unauthorized by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which it was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed." The President declared it to be his intent to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed," and he warned the citizens of South Carolina that "the course they are urged to pursue is one of ruin and disgrace to the very State whose rights they affect to support." Major Heileman, commanding the United States troops at Charleston, was instructed to be vigilant in defeating any attempt to seize the forts in that harbor, and two companies of artillery were ordered to Fort Moultrie. The Unionist sentiment in South Carolina itself was strong, and the crisis fortunately passed without any attempt to carry into execution the nullification ordinance. Excitement ran high, however, until the adoption in March, 1833, of a compromise tariff, which provided for a gradual reduction of duties.
General Jackson in his annual message of 1830, recommended the devotion of a large tract of land, west of the Mississippi, to the use of the Indian tribes yet remaining east of that river, and Congress, in 1834, enacted that "all that part of the United States west of the Mississippi River, and not within the States of Missouri and Louisiana, or the Territory of Arkansas, shall be considered the Indian country." This was the origin of the present Indian Territory, gradually reduced in area by the successive formation of States and Territories. The Seminoles of Florida naturally objected to removal from the land of their ancestors to a far-distant region, and under the leadership of a brave and skillful chief named Osceola they resisted the troops sent to coerce them into obedience. The most memorable event of the war was the massacre of Major Dade and about one hundred soldiers in an ambuscade, December 28, 1835. On the same day Osceola with a small party of followers killed and scalped General Wiley Thomson, of the United States army and five of Thomson's friends. Before the opening of hostilities Thomson had put Osceola in irons on account of his refractory attitude, and the Indian chief long planned the act of vengeance which he thus signally executed. The war lasted almost seven years, and was attended with a distressing loss of life and property. Not less than 9000 United States troops were in the Seminole territory in the latter part of 1837, and while the Indians were more than once severely chastised when brought to an engagement, it was almost impossible to pursue them in their native everglades. Osceola was taken prisoner when in conference, under a flag of truce, with General Jesup, of the United States army, but the Seminoles maintained the struggle under other leaders, and it was not until 1842 that peace was established, and the Indians driven to surrender. Osceola did not live to see the defeat of the cause for which he had fought so resolutely. He died of fever at Fort Moultrie on the last day of 1839.
The Black Hawk War in the Northwest was, as usual with Indian wars, a struggle on the part of the red men to retain the lands of their fathers. Black Hawk was a noted chief of the Sacs and Foxes, and he claimed that the original treaty by which his tribe sold all their lands in Illinois to the United States was made by only four chiefs, and that they were drunk when they signed it. Assuming this charge to be true it remains that the provisions of the first treaty were confirmed by two subsequent treaties, the last in 1830, when the principal chief, Keokuk, made the final cession to the United States of all the country owned by the Sacs and Foxes east of the Mississippi River. This was done without the knowledge of Black Hawk, whose indignation was greatly aroused upon hearing of the negotiation. Black Hawk was yet more enraged when he found, in April, 1831, that during the absence of himself and his people from their village on a hunting expedition a fur-trader had purchased from the government the ground on which the village stood, and was preparing to cultivate the field upon which the Indians had for many years raised their corn. This was in violation of the letter and spirit of the treaty, which provided that the Indians could occupy their lands until they were needed for settlement, and the frontier settlements were yet fifty miles distant. War soon followed between the whites and Indians, Abraham Lincoln, afterward President of the United States, being enlisted as a volunteer. Colonel Zachary Taylor, afterward President, was one of the officers in command of the United States troops. After fighting with varied fortunes for several months, Black Hawk was defeated with the loss of many warriors, and fled to a village of the Winnebagoes. The latter escorted the fallen chieftain to the United States authorities at Prairie du Chien. "Black Hawk is an Indian," said the captive warrior, speaking in the third person. "He has done nothing an Indian need be ashamed of. He has fought the battles of his country against the white men, who come year after year to cheat them and take away their lands. He will go to the world of spirits contented." Black Hawk was well treated as a prisoner, taken to Washington to visit the President, and liberated after peace had been made.
During Jackson's second term the American settlers in Texas succeeded, after a conflict attended by signal heroism and ferocity, in securing their independence of Mexico. The massacre of the Alamo by the Mexicans under Santa Anna, will always be remembered in American history. The Mission of the Alamo, which the Texans defended to the death against overwhelming numbers, was entirely isolated from the town of San Antonio. It consisted of several buildings, and a convent yard, surrounded by high and thick walls, having partly, like all the old missions, the character of a fortress. Fourteen pieces of artillery were mounted for the defence, and the garrison, when it entered the Alamo, consisted of one hundred and forty-five men, untrained in arms, except in the use of the rifle. Their leader was Lieutenant Colonel William Barret Travis, a native of North Carolina, and second in command was Colonel James Bowie, inventor of the terrible bowie-knife. Santa Anna, the President of Mexico, was in personal command of the attacking forces, numbering between 6000 and 7000 men. He declared that he would grant no quarter. The troops ordered to the assault numbered 2500, or about twenty-five Mexicans to one American. The deadly fire from the Alamo twice repelled the enemy, but they were driven on by the blows and shouts of their officers, and at the third attempt they scaled the wall, and carried the defences. While life lasted the Texans fought. They had agreed to blow up the buildings in the last extremity, but Major T. C. Evans, when about to fire the magazine, was struck down by a bullet. Not a defender who could be found was spared. Five Texans who had hidden themselves were taken before Santa Anna. At a word from that monster of cruelty they were at once dispatched with bayonets.
The Alamo was not long unavenged. The massacre took place on March 6, 1836. On April 21, the Texans, led by General Sam Houston, met the Mexicans at San Jacinto. The Texans numbered 743; the Mexicans about 1400, with Santa Anna in command. Houston, by strategy worthy of greater fame, had managed to come upon the Mexican President when the latter was separated from the larger part of his forces. Determined to win or die, Houston destroyed a bridge which afforded the only retreat for his men or escape for the enemy. The Texans delivered one volley at close range, and then clubbed their rifles or drew their bowie-knives, with the cry—"Remember the Alamo!" In fifteen minutes the Mexicans were in flight, pursued by the yelling Texans. "Me no Alamo! Me no Alamo!" cried the terrified fugitives. The Texans did not stay their hands until they had killed six hundred and thirty and wounded two hundred and eight of their cowardly foes. The remainder of the Mexicans were allowed to surrender, and were not maltreated as prisoners. Santa Anna was captured while hiding in the grass at some distance from the battlefield, and brought, a pallid and trembling captive, before Houston. The latter spared the tyrant's life, and placed a guard to protect him. The battle of San Jacinto virtually put an end to the war, and Texas remained the Lone Star Republic, until admitted to the American Union in 1845.
This period witnessed also the successful assertion of American title to that extensive and productive region now divided into the States of Oregon, Washington and Idaho. President Jefferson had seen almost with the vision of prophecy the future of that distant portion of the Louisiana Purchase. "I looked forward with gratification," he said in his later years, "to the time when the descendants of the settlers of Oregon would spread themselves through the whole length of the coast, covering it with free, independent Americans, unconnected with us but by the ties of blood and interest, and enjoying, like us, the rights of self-government." And yet, for forty years after the treaty which transferred to the United States the possessions of France in America, the leading statesmen of our republic, Jefferson excepted, remained blind to the value of America's domain on the Pacific. In 1810, John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company undertook to establish a post upon what they regarded as American soil, at a place which the founders called Astoria. The Hudson Bay Company then claimed Oregon as part of their territory, and when the War of 1812 broke out the British attacked Astoria, took the Americans prisoners, and changed the name of the post to Fort George. The Astor attempt to found a settlement in Oregon was not without favorable bearing on American claims to that territory, especially as the enterprise had the sanction of the United States Government, and a United States naval officer commanded the leading vessel in the expedition. Under the treaty of Ghent, Astoria was to be restored to its original owners, but it was not until 1846 that this act of justice was consummated. In 1818 it was mutually agreed that each nation should equally enjoy the privileges of all the bays and harbors on that coast for ten years, and this agreement was renewed in 1827 for an indefinite time. Practically this meant the occupation of the country by the Hudson Bay Company, which found its forests and waters a mine of fur-bearing wealth. The most eminent of America's statesmen, so far as the Pacific Northwest was concerned, seemed to be under the spell of their own ignorance and of the Hudson Bay Company's misrepresentations. The great Senator Benton said that, "The ridge of the Rocky Mountains may be named as a convenient, natural and everlasting boundary." Winthrop, of Massachusetts, quoted and commended this statement of Benton, and McDuffie of South Carolina declared that the wealth of the Indies would be insufficient to pay the cost of a railroad to the mouth of the Columbia. While the nation was stirred up over a boundary dispute involving a comparatively small district in the Northeast—settled by the Ashburton Treaty in 1842—Oregon, with its extensive territory and magnificent natural wealth was treated as unworthy of controversy. But for the patriot missionary, Marcus Whitman, who in the winter of 1842-43 made a perilous journey from his mission post in Oregon to Washington, to stir up the American Government to a sense of its duty, and of the imminent danger of the seizure of Oregon by the British, that valuable region would in all probability have passed under British dominion. "All I ask," said Doctor Whitman to President Tyler, "is that you won't barter away Oregon or allow English interference until I can lead a band of stalwart American settlers across the plains; for this I will try to do." The President promised; the settlers went, and Oregon was saved. For a time it seemed that war might result, but the two nations at length compromised on a boundary line at forty-nine north latitude.
During President Tyler's administration Rhode Island was the scene of a commotion known as the "Dorr War." While the property qualification for voters had been discarded in nearly every Northern State, Rhode Island still adhered to the system of government provided in the King Charles charter of 1663, which restricted the franchise to freeholders and their eldest sons. This restriction gave occasion for many abuses, mortgagees often exercising control over the votes of their debtors, and citizens who paid taxes on mortgaged property being sometimes denied the privilege of voting on the ground that they did not possess sufficient equity in their estates. The majority of the people desired a frame of government in accord with the spirit of American institutions, but were resisted by the minority in actual power. The party of reform, therefore, held an election in defiance of the charter, adopted a new constitution arid chose Thomas W. Dorr governor, along with other general officers and a General Assembly. The Dorr legislature met in a foundry and passed various laws, which they had no power to enforce. The charter government called out the militia, the Dorrites also took arms, and for some time there was danger of a collision. The Dorrites were ultimately dispersed without a battle, and the charter government remained in power. From a sanitary standpoint it was a healthy war, as more people were probably benefited by the outing than injured by bullets and bayonets. Dorr was afterward sentenced to State Prison for life, but was pardoned after a few years, and his sentence expunged by vote of the legislature, from the records of the court. A constitution embodying most of the reforms for which the Dorrites had striven was legally adopted, and Rhode Island settled down to its customary calm and prosperity.
War with Mexico—General Zachary Taylor Defeats the Mexicans—Buena Vista—Mexicans Four to One—"A Little More Grape, Captain Bragg!"— Glorious American Victory—General Scott's Splendid Campaign—A Series of Victories—Cerro Gordo—Contreras—Churubusco—Molino del Rey—Chapultepec—Stars and Stripes Float in the City of Mexico— Generous Treatment of the Vanquished—Peace—Cession of Vast Territory to the United States—The Gadsden Purchase.
The annexation of Texas by the United States was accepted by Mexico as an act of war. The American Government and people were not unprepared for a challenge from Mexico, and rather welcomed it, as, apart from the Texas issue, Mexico had, from the time of her independence treated the United States in a manner far from neighborly, and inflicted many injuries on American citizens. In the West and South especially it was deemed necessary to give Mexico a lesson; in New England the war was not popular. Hostilities began, and two sharp battles were fought, before war was actually declared. General Zachary Taylor, with a force much inferior to that of the enemy, defeated the Mexicans at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, and drove them out of Texas. At Resaca the American dragoons under Captain May charged straight upon a Mexican battery, killing the gunners and capturing the Mexican general La Vega just as he was about to apply a match to one of the pieces. The Mexican army was so completely scattered that their commander Arista fled unaccompanied across the Rio Grande. At Buena Vista Generals Taylor and Wool, with 5000 men, of whom only 500 were regular troops, confronted Santa Anna with 20,000, February 23, 1847. The Mexican chieftain expected an easy victory, and his army, inspired with his confidence, rushed from their mountains upon the small force of Americans drawn up in battle array on the plain of Angostura.
"Like the fierce Northern hurricane
That sweeps his great plateau,
Flushed with the triumph yet to gain,
Came down the serried foe.
Who heard the thunder of the fray
Break o'er the field beneath,
Well knew the watchword of that day
Was victory or death."
The battle lasted all day, the American artillery being splendidly handled, and mowing down the Mexicans at every charge. "Give 'em a little more grape, Captain Bragg!" said Taylor quietly, as he saw Santa Anna's lines wavering. The grape was given, and the Mexicans fled, leaving 500 of their number dead or dying on the field. The total Mexican loss, including wounded and prisoners was about 2000; that of the Americans in killed, wounded and missing, 746. This victory, and the successes of Fremont and Kearney in California, completed the conquest of Northern Mexico.
General Winfield Scott, who was in supreme command of all the American forces, conducted a brilliant campaign from the coast. After taking Vera Cruz and the castle of San Juan de Ulloa, General Scott advanced toward the City of Mexico with about 10,000 men. At Cerro Gordo, a difficult pass in the mountains, the American army encountered 12,000 Mexicans under command of Santa Anna, who had, by extraordinary efforts, collected this force after his defeat at Buena Vista. The battle was fought on April 18, every movement of the American troops being directed, according to a carefully prepared plan, by General Scott. Colonel Harvey led the storming party into the pass, with a deep river on one side, and batteries belching death from lofty rocks on the other side. The Americans rushed forward with irresistible courage. They knew their enemy. The Alamo had not been forgotten. Cerro Gordo fell, and the flight of the Mexicans may best be described in the language of one of their own historians: "General Santa Anna, accompanied by some of his adjutants, was passing along the road to the left of the battery, when the enemy's column, now out of the woods, appeared on his line of retreat and fired upon him, forcing him back. The carriage in which he had left Jalapa was riddled with shot, the mules killed and taken by the enemy, as well as a wagon containing $16,000 received the day before for the pay of the soldiers. Every tie of command and obedience now being broken among our troops, safety alone being the object, and all being involved in a frightful confusion, they rushed desperately to the narrow pass of the defile that descended to the Plan del Rio, where the general-in-chief had proceeded, with the chiefs and officers accompanying him. Horrid indeed was the descent by that narrow and rocky path where thousands rushed, disputing the passage with desperation, and leaving a track of blood upon the road. All classes being confounded military distinction and respect were lost; and badges of rank became marks of sarcasm. The enemy, now masters of our camp, turned their guns upon the fugitives, thus augmenting the terror of the multitude that crowded through the defile and pressed forward every instant by a new impulse, which increased the confusion and disgrace of that ill-fated day." Of the 12,000 Mexicans engaged in this battle about 1200 were killed and wounded, and 3000 were made prisoners. The captives were all paroled, and the sick and wounded sent to Jalapa, where they were well cared for. The Castle of Perote, the strongest fortress in Mexico, surrendered without resistance, and the American flag was unfurled on the summit of the eastern Cordilleras.
After a rest at Puebla General Scott pushed on in the footsteps of Cortes. Santa Anna, who would have equalled Napoleon or Caesar had his ability and courage in the field been equal to his success in organizing armies, made a stand with 32,000 Mexicans at Contreras and Churubusco. The army of General Scott numbered about 9000 effective men. Both sides knew that the battle to be fought would decide the fate of the City of Mexico. On the nineteenth of August about one-half of the American army attacked the fortified camp at Contreras, defended by nearly 7000 Mexicans, under General Valencia. Evening fell without victory for either side. In the early morning, after a night of heavy rain, General P. F. Smith, with three brigades of infantry, but without cavalry or artillery, marched in the darkness up to the Mexican camp, discharged several volleys in quick succession, and dashed, bayonet in hand, upon the enemy. In fifteen minutes the Americans were victors, over 3000 Mexicans were prisoners, and the rest of Valencia's troops were fugitives. The American army gave the enemy no time to recover, but moved promptly forward to more victories. The fort of San Antonio was captured, the garrison not waiting to be attacked before taking to flight, and then began the battle of Churubusco. This place is a small village, six miles south from the City of Mexico, and connected with it by a spacious causeway. At the head of the causeway, near the village, and in front of the bridge over the Churubusco River, was a strong redoubt, mounted with batteries, and occupied by a large force of Mexicans. The convent-church of San Pablo, with its massive stone walls, was converted into a fort. The walls were impervious to the attack of field pieces, and the building was defended by a well-constructed bastion, and guns placed in the embrasure. The church stood on an eminence, and the village which clustered about it was defended by stone walls and a stone building, strongly fortified.
The Americans carried the redoubt at the point of the bayonet, and then a desperate battle raged about the fortified village and church. From behind their defences the Mexicans kept up a deadly fire on the Americans, but the latter never faltered. The Mexicans made repeated sallies from the convent, but were driven back every time. In their desperation the native Mexicans desired to surrender, but some deserters from the American army, known as the San Patricio companies, hauled down the white flag whenever it was put up. At length after a three-hours' struggle the convent and other defences were captured. In the rear of Churubusco General James Shields and General Franklin Pierce, afterward President of the United States, were hard pressed by an overwhelming force of Mexicans, and in some danger. Timely reinforcements sent by General Scott turned danger into victory, and the Mexicans, discomfited on every side, gave way, and retreated in utter disorder toward the city of Mexico, pursued by the triumphant Americans. It was the most glorious day since Yorktown for American arms. The Mexican loss was nearly 4000 killed and wounded, besides 300 prisoners, thirty-seven cannon and a large quantity of small arms and ammunition. The Americans lost 139 killed and 926 wounded.
Churubusco should have ended the war, and negotiations for peace were commenced, but were broken off through Mexican bad faith. Hostilities were resumed and the coup-de-grace was given to Mexico on the historic hill of Chapultepec. The storming of El Molino del Rey, of the Casa de Mata and the Castle of Chapultepec were among the boldest exploits of the war. Chapultepec had been an ancient seat of the Aztec emperors. Rising abruptly from the shore of Lake Tezcuco, crowned with a strongly fortified castle, supported by numerous outworks and with several massive stone buildings, each a fortress powerfully garrisoned, at the base, the hill of Chapultepec seemed a very Gibraltar guarding the entrance to Mexico's capital. El Molino del Rey and the Casa de Mata were carried by storm on the eighth of September, the Mexicans leaving 1000 dead on the field, beside 800 prisoners, and those who escaped death or capture either flying in dismay from the scene or retreating up the hill to the Castle of Chapultepec.
General Scott determined to batter down the castle with heavy cannon. Robert E. Lee, afterward commander of the Confederate armies, was one of the officers who placed the artillery in position. A continuous fire was kept up during the first day (September 12), the solid shot and shell crashing through the Castle and killing many of its defenders. Among these were about one hundred young boys, from ten to sixteen years of age, cadets in the Military Academy, which was situated on the hill of Chapultepec. Several of the boys lost their lives fighting the Americans with a valor that might well have put some of their elders to shame. About fifty general officers were also in the Castle, and the whole Mexican force engaged probably did not exceed 4000 men. It was the last stand made by Mexican troops, and it was a brave stand. The weak and the demoralized had slunk away from further conflict with an invincible foe. The bombardment was resumed on the thirteenth, and troops moved to the assault under cover of a heavy cannonade. The Mexicans fought desperately, but they were no match for their antagonists. The Stars and Stripes soon floated over Chapultepec, hailed with a mighty cheer by the American troops, nearly all of whom had taken some part in the conflict.
On September 14 the American flag was hoisted in the City of Mexico, and from the National Palace of that Republic General Scott issued a general order in which, with justifiable pride, he declared: "Beginning with August 10 and ending the fourteenth instant, this army has gallantly fought its way through the fields and forts of Contreras, San Antonio, Churubusco, Molino del Rey, Chapultepec and the gates of San Cosme and Tacubaya into the capital of Mexico. When the very limited number who have performed these brilliant deeds shall have become known, the world will be astonished and our own countrymen filled with joy and admiration." The triumphs of Scott and Taylor added lustre to American arms which time will not efface. They recalled the exploits of Cortes and Pizarro, save in the scrupulous honor and humanity which guided every step of the American invasion. No victors were ever more generous in their treatment of the conquered. "The soldiers of Vera Cruz," says a Mexican historian, "received the honor due to their valor and misfortunes. Not even a look was given them by the enemy's soldiers which could be interpreted into an insult." The Duke of Wellington, the conqueror of Napoleon, followed Scott's campaign with deep interest and caused its movements to be marked on a map daily, as information was received. Admiring its triumphs up to the basin of Mexico, Wellington then said: "Scott is lost. He has been carried away by successes. He can't take the city, and he can't fall back on his base." Wellington proved to be wrong. He had never met American troops.
The treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, concluded February 2, 1848, established the Rio Grande as the boundary between the United States and Mexico, and California and New Mexico, including what is now Arizona, were ceded to the United States for $15,000,000. The United States also assumed the payment of obligations due by Mexico to American citizens to the amount of $3,250,000, and discharged Mexico from all claims of citizens of the United States against that Republic. Strict provision was made for the preservation of the rights of the inhabitants of the ceded territory. The Gadsden Purchase, in 1853—so called from General James Gadsden, who conducted the negotiations in behalf of the United States—added 45,535 square miles of Mexican territory to the United States, for which this country paid $10,000,000, Mexico at the same time relinquishing claims against the United States for Indian depredations amounting to from $15,000,000 to $30,000,000. The American Republic thus received in all, as a consequence of the Mexican War, 591,398 square miles, and the Union acquired its present boundaries, exclusive of Alaska. The Mexican War gave to the United States the Pacific as well as the Atlantic seaboard, and completed the westward movement which had begun with the very birth of the Republic. It made the United States the great power of the American continent, seated between the two oceans, with a domain unequalled in natural resources by any other region of the world.
The Union in 1850—Comparative Population of Cities and Rural Districts —Agriculture the General Occupation—Commercial and Industrial Development—Growth of New York and Chicago—The Southern States— Importance of the Cotton Crop—Why the South Was Sensitive to Anti-Slavery Agitation—Manufactures—Religion and Education,—The Cloud on the Horizon.
Approaching that period of civil discord, followed by civil war, which has left its impress in every corner of the Union, and which was attended by radical changes in the Constitution and the institutions of our country, it may be well to review the material condition of the States when the forces of freedom and slavery began to gather for the great conflict, first in the forum and later in the field. In 1850 the United States had a population of 23,191,876, of whom 3,204,313 were slaves. Only 4,000,000 of the people lived in cities, towns and villages, and of these but 2,860,000 resided in 140 cities and towns of more than 10,000 inhabitants each. Of the total real and personal property in the United States more than two-thirds was owned by the rural population, and the value of manufactures was insignificant, compared with the products of agriculture. One leading aim of American statesmanship and enterprise had been, from a very early period, to connect the great lakes and the fertile valleys of the middle and western States with the cities and ports along the Atlantic seaboard; to improve navigation of the rivers, and thus bring into cultivation the valuable tracts of country along their banks; and, as a part of this great work, to connect with each other, by railways and canals, the towns and villages in the more densely-peopled and cultivated districts. To carry out the general design, vast sums were lavished and expensive works constructed, in many instances far in advance of any ascertained requirements of the country, and certainly with little prospect of an early return for the expenditure. But in the meantime the most apparently hopeless of these works conferred important benefits upon the mass of the community, by developing sources of wealth which might otherwise have been closed for years, and providing new spheres for the restless and indomitable energy of the American.
While the agricultural portion of the American people were extending the area of their location, and laying under the Constitution new and vast sources of wealth, the cities and towns also grew apace under the impulse of commercial and industrial development. No country in the world, Great Britain not excepted, succeeded more signally in directing its natural advantages to the promotion of commerce. The abundance of water power was utilized for manufactures of every description. Machinery of the most perfect kind was applied to every process, economizing labor, facilitating locomotion and aiding in surmounting those difficulties which had ever impeded the progress of young nations. Nowhere was the gigantic power of steam more abundantly and usefully employed—in the mine and in the mill, on the rivers and lakes, the canals and the railroads, doing the work of millions of hands and of human and animal sinews, without creating a vacuum in the market for labor, or diminishing the rewards of industry. From 1830 to 1840, a period of only ten years, the increase in the population of twenty of the largest cities in the United States, from New York to St. Louis inclusive, was fifty-five per cent, and this in face of the most disastrous commercial panic that had ever visited the country, and this marvelous rate of increase was fully maintained during the subsequent decade.
It is not remarkable that the cities and States of the Union which first took steps to connect the fertile regions lying beyond the Allegheny Mountains with the Atlantic should have made the greatest progress in importance and prosperity. It was the fortune of the State of New York to take the earliest step to effect this great desideratum, although Washington had perhaps first suggested its importance, in agitating a movement for the purpose of connecting the country adjoining the Great Lakes with his native Virginia. The construction of the Erie Canal placed New York in the very front of American communities. Before the canal was opened the cost of transit from Lake Erie to tidewater was such as to prohibit the shipment of western produce and merchandise to New York; and it consequently came only to Baltimore and Philadelphia. "As soon as the lakes were reached," says a Federal report, "the line of navigable water was extended through them nearly one thousand miles farther from the interior. The Western States immediately commenced the construction of similar works, for the purpose of opening a communication from the more remote portions of their territories with this great water-line. All these works took their direction and character from the Erie Canal, which in this manner became the outlet for the greater part of the produce of the West. Without such a work the West would have had no attractions for a settler, and have probably remained a waste up to the present time; and New York itself could not have progressed as it has done." In addition, however, to the formation of the Erie Canal, New York originated, in advance of most other States, lines of railway throughout its territory, in connection either with the canal, or between its various towns and settlements. It also connected itself by railroad with Lake Champlain, and succeeded in diverting a considerable portion of the transit trade of Canada from the St. Lawrence through these communications to the port of New York. The effect of this enterprise displayed by the people and by the State may be estimated by the fact that the population, which was, in 1830, 1,918,608, had increased in 1840 to 2,428,921, and in 1850 was 3,097,394. In 1830, the value of the imports at New York was $38,656,064; in 1840 it had reached $60,064,942, and in 1851, when the network of railway communications throughout the State had come into fairly complete operation, the value of imports was $144,454,616.
Under the influence of railroad and canal Chicago also made swift and wonderful progress. In May, 1848, a canal one hundred miles in length was opened to connect Lake Michigan with the Illinois River, and the first section of a railway from Chicago to the westward was opened in March, 1849. Previously to these works being brought into operation it appears from the city census of 1847 that the population was 16,859; in 1850, it had sprung to 29,963, and in August, 1852 it was estimated at nearly, if not quite, 40,000, having thus considerably more than doubled itself in five years.
The efforts of the Southern States to attract toward their ports the produce of the West, by way of the magnificent rivers which empty themselves into the Gulf of Mexico, rivalled those made by the North. The prosperity of these States was greatly promoted by the growing demand for cotton in America and Europe. In the thirty-one years from 1821 to 1852, there had been an increase of 3,000,000 bales in the growth, which multiplied itself during that period seven-fold! The importance of this crop as an element of wealth may be estimated from the fact that the census value of it in 1849-50 was $112,000,000; that its cultivation and preparation for market employed upward of 800,000 agricultural laborers, 85 per cent of whom were slaves and the residue (120,000) white citizens; that upward of 120,000 tons of steam shipping, and at least 7000 persons were engaged in its transportation from the interior to the southern ports, and that after remunerating merchants, factors, underwriters and a host of other persons it furnished profitable freight for 1,100,000 tons of American shipping, and 55,000 seamen in the Gulf and Atlantic coasting trade, and for 800,000 tons and 40,000 seamen for its transport to Europe and elsewhere. As the Southern people generally believed that cotton could not be cultivated without the labor of slaves it is easy to understand why they were sensitive to every agitation, however slight, that seemed to threaten that source of wealth, and how their sensitiveness grew as cotton's empire extended.
Manufactures were also in a flourishing condition, and it was estimated in 1852, that the capital embarked in the cotton manufactories of the United States was at least $80,000,000; that the value of the products was $70,000,000; that 100,000 male and female operatives were employed, and that quite 700,000 bales of cotton, worth at least $35,000,000, were spun and woven. America possessed, also, a number of woolen manufactories, which employed about the same period 39,252 hands.
The American people, then as now, believed in religion and education as the corner-stones of liberty's temple. The population of 23,000,000 in 1850 had 36,221 churches and chapels, with accommodation for 13,967,449 persons—a large accommodation for a new country whose population had spread so rapidly over so extensive an area. Of the youth nearly 4,000,000 were receiving instruction in the various educational institutions. The teachers numbered 115,000, and colleges and schools nearly 100,000. America had upward of seventy theological schools; forty-four medical and surgical schools; nineteen schools of law, and ten schools of practical science and extensive libraries were attached to nearly all of these institutions.
Never had the future of our nation seemed more promising than at the very time when the cloud of slavery began to darken the bright horizon, gradually overspreading the heavens until it burst in the storm of secession.
Aggressiveness of Slavery—The Cotton States and Border States—The Fugitive Slave Law—Nullified in the North—Negroes Imported from Africa—The Struggle in Kansas—John Brown—Abraham Lincoln Pleads for Human Rights—Treason in Buchanan's Cabinet—Citizens Stop Guns at Pittsburg—Conditions at the Beginning of the Struggle—Southern Advantages—The Soldiers of Both Armies Compared—Conscription in the Confederacy—Southern Resources Limited—The North at a Disadvantage at First, but Its Resources Inexhaustible—Conscription in the North— Popular Support of the War—Unfriendliness of Great Britain and France—Why They Did Not Interfere.
Slavery could not stand still. The Cotton States, so-called, which suffered least from the escape of slaves were the most aggressive in demanding a Fugitive Slave Law, while the Border States, where escapes were frequent, were not nearly as aggressive as their Southern neighbors. Attachment to slavery in the Cotton States had become a passion, springing from self-interest, but stronger than self-interest; while in the Border States the slaveholders were affected by propinquity to free communities, and the calculations of self-interest were softened by their surroundings; which shows, like many another chapter in history, that in the mighty impulses which guide the destinies of nations, the heart is above the head. The advocates of slavery felt insecure because they knew that even if legally right they were divinely and humanly wrong. They were not satisfied to have the Free States acquiescent and even submissive; they were determined, in their fever of unrest, to drive freedom to the wall, and to make the people of the North slave-catchers, if they would not consent to be slave-owners.
The South had the Constitution on its side, and the Fugitive Slave Law could be met only by obedience or nullification. The Northern people simply decided to nullify the law. They did not meet in State conventions—like South Carolina in 1832—and declare the law void and of no effect. They were too sensible for that; but they would not obey the law. It was nullified in various ways. In Rhode Island, for instance, it was made a crime for an officer of the State to arrest a fugitive slave; in Ohio the ordinary statute against kidnappers was used to punish Federal officers and others attempting to carry slaves back into bondage, and in New York and other States mob law interfered to rescue and liberate the victims. The Fugitive Slave Law roused the spirit of freedom, and Northern defiance of the law inflamed the slaveholders. The Kansas-Nebraska bill, menacing the free States with a slave barrier West as well as South, and stretching to the Pacific as well as the Gulf, made civil war almost inevitable. Compromise became cowardice, and everyone who was not for freedom was against it. The Supreme Court of the United States supported the contentions of the slaveholders, but in vain for their cause. That higher tribunal—the conscience of a free and intelligent people—arraigned slavery as a crime against God and man, the Constitution and the Supreme Court to the contrary notwithstanding. When Chief Justice Taney held that Dred Scott was not a citizen of Missouri, but a thing, and could be carried by his master from one State to another, like a dog or a watch, and still be a slave, the Chief Justice only immortalized his own infamy; he did not immortalize slavery. Still greater was the shock when in defiance of the Constitution and the laws the foreign slave trade was resumed, and negroes imported from Africa to the South. It is only just to state that, according to recently published narratives of these slave importations, with details that could not have been related at the time with safety for the parties concerned, the Federal authorities in the South seem to have made a sincere effort to bring the slave-traders to justice, and the planters apparently did not welcome the traffic.
The pioneers of the great struggle to come met on the plains of Kansas and several years of fierce border strife ended in victory for freedom. John Brown, whom the world calls a fanatic, perished on the scaffold at Harper's Ferry in a vain attempt to liberate the slaves, and while editors vacillated and quibbled, and fawning time servers applauded, Thoreau, from his hermitage in the New England woods, paid eloquent tribute to the man who dared to die for the truth. Away in the West a figure was looming up, a gaunt, homely figure, born in and nurtured in hardship, but endowed as no other man of his age was endowed, with the ability to guide his country through the awful ordeal to come. He perceived the right, and he boldly declared it. "If it is decreed that I should go down because of this speech, then let me go down linked to the truth—let me die in the advocacy of what is just and right," said Abraham Lincoln to the friends who disapproved his celebrated declaration that the government could not endure half slave, half free. "In the right to eat the bread without the leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns, he (the negro) is my equal, and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every living man"—was another sterling utterance which struck home to the North.
While Lincoln was pleading the cause of human rights, and asserting that the Declaration of Independence was meant for black as well as white, members of President Buchanan's cabinet, holding in their grasp the reins of National Government, were plotting the nation's overthrow. Even down to the very moment that John B. Floyd left the War Office, and when South Carolina was already in rebellion, this plotting was continued. As late as the beginning of January, 1861, an attempt was made under an order from Floyd to remove one hundred and fifty cannon from the Allegheny Arsenal, at Pittsburg, to the South, to be used against the Union. "Our people are a unit that not a gun shall be shipped South," said the Dispatch of that city, and without violence, without the shedding of a drop of blood or the drawing of a weapon against national authority, the citizens obtained the reversal of the order, and the guns, some of which were already under convoy to the wharf, were returned to the arsenal. The "Rebellion Records," published by the government, should not begin with 1861. They should go back to the time when the plot originated to strip the national arsenals for the benefit of the nation's enemies, to disarm the Union that it might fall a prey to secession. This was the treason which should never be forgotten. The men who fought bravely and openly in the field for the Confederate cause can be respected for their sincerity and honored for their valor; but not so with the men who before the war violated their trust as guardians and armor bearers of the Union to betray the nation to its conspiring foes.
The conditions at the beginning of the war were much more favorable to the South than a mere comparison of population would indicate. The loyal States had a population of 23,000,000; the seceded States 8,000,000, of whom about one-half were slaves. These slaves counted, however, for about as much effective strength as if they had been whites, for the soil had to be cultivated, the armies fed, fortifications built and other necessary services performed, and the negroes, while all who were bright enough to understand the situation wished for the success of the Union, worked for their masters faithfully, as a rule, until the approach of the national armies gave an opportunity to escape. Besides, the negroes in attendance on the Confederate troops performed many duties to which on the Northern side soldiers were assigned, and in this way the blacks were useful in even a strictly military sense. In short, the negroes did everything for the Confederacy but fight for it, and this, too, although they loved the blue uniform, and gave loyal assistance to the Union troops whenever occasion offered. The Southern forces, it should also be remembered, were on their own ground. They knew every thicket and road and stream; they had the sympathy of the white, as well as the service of the black inhabitants. They were led by a brilliant group of commanders whom Jefferson Davis, when Secretary of War, had brought together probably with this object in view, and they were thoroughly armed and equipped at the expense of the very government against which they were contending. It is needless to say that no better soldiers ever bore rifle or sabre than the men of the Southern Confederacy. They were, like most of their northern antagonists, Americans of the same blood as those who carried the redoubts at Yorktown and stormed the hill of Chapultepec, and their courage in the Civil War fully maintained the prestige gained in battle against alien foes. In intelligence, or at least in education, however, the rank and file of the Confederate armies were inferior to the native Americans in the Union armies. The Confederate troops captured at Vicksburg were no doubt equal to the average, and of the 27,000 men then made prisoners and paroled two-thirds made their marks, not being able to write their names. This is not so surprising when it is remembered that there was no common school system in the South before the war, and that the "twenty-negro law," exempting the owner of twenty negroes from conscription, excused from military service the class which had an opportunity to be educated, and which also had most at stake in the contest.
Before the close of the war, however, all exemptions in the Confederacy were virtually swept away, and the government enlisted every one able to bear a musket, from the boy hardly in his teens to the old man tottering to the grave. Those not able to go to the front did duty in the rear, and the whole male population, excepting cripples and children, was in the ranks, or the civil service. If any escaped the net of conscription they were likely to be caught in the round-up made every now and then after the fashion of the old English press-gang, when all who happened to be in sight were gathered in, and sent to the army, unless they clearly proved a title to freedom. In one of these round-ups, says Jones, in his "Diary of a Rebel War Clerk"—the Postmaster-General of the Confederacy, John H. Reagan, was carried along with the rest, and detained for some time before released. Thus the prophecy of Houston was strikingly fulfilled. Of course, the refugees and deserters, of whom there were a very large number in the swamps and woods of the South, are excepted from the statement that the whole population was in arms for the Confederate cause.
In the beginning of the war the North was at a disadvantage. Mr. Lincoln found the little army of the United States scattered and disorganized, the navy sent to distant quarters of the globe, the treasury bankrupt and the public service demoralized. Floyd and his fellow-conspirators had done their work thoroughly. It did not take long for the people of the North to rally to the defence of the government, and for an army to be formed capable not only of defending the loyal States, but of striking a blow at the Confederacy. With the National credit restored, an abundance of currency provided for national needs, and the public departments cleared of Southern sympathizers, the North entered upon a conflict which could have but one ending should the North remain steadfast.
The weakness of the South, from a military standpoint, was in the fact that men lost could not be replaced. The North could replenish its depleted armies; the South could not. With men therefore of the same race and equal in soldierly qualities arrayed against each other, one side within measurable distance of exhaustion and the other with inexhaustible human resources to draw upon, the war became an easy sum in arithmetic, provided the stronger party should not cry "enough" before the weaker had reached the exhaustion point. The battles on comparatively equal terms were fought, therefore, in the early part of the war, the decisive battles in 1863, and the closing struggle between the gasping Confederacy and the Union stronger than ever, in the last fifteen months of the conflict.
In the North, notwithstanding the immense armies put in the field, there never was a time except in brief periods of riot and disorder, when the usual bustle of humanity was absent from the cities and towns. Commerce and industry went on with accustomed activity. While Southern cities looked like garrisoned graveyards the North had never worn a busier or more prosperous appearance. With such a large population there should have been no reason for conscription, but when conscription was deemed requisite, there ought to have been no exemption on the ground of wealth. Every able-bodied drafted man ought to have been obliged to serve, without the privilege of a substitute, and no money payment should have secured release from service. The obligation to defend the country rests upon all, but if there is any distinction, the rich man has more interest in protecting the government which shields him and his possessions from danger than the poor man. European nations make no exemption on account of wealth or position, and the American Republic certainly should not have given such an example.
The people of the North, however, with comparatively few but very troublesome exceptions, gave earnest and enthusiastic support to the National Government. Committees were formed everywhere to aid the armies in the field, to provide for the wounded and the sick and to assist the families of absent soldiers. In the darkest days of the struggle the people never lost faith in the ultimate triumph of the Union. While statesmen and editors professing to be superior to their fellows in knowledge and foresight saw only the gloomy side and predicted the defeat and downfall of the Republic, the popular heart was true and confident and courageous. Upon the people's arms Lincoln could always lean in times of severest trial and anxiety, assured of comfort, support and strength.
The unfriendliness of Great Britain and France was a most serious and ever-present danger to the United States throughout the whole period of the war, and was prolific of injury to American interests. From the first Great Britain showed a conscious unfriendly purpose. That government privately proposed to France, even before Queen Victoria's proclamation recognizing the insurgents as belligerents, to open direct negotiations with the South, and the British Legation at Washington was used for secret communications with the Confederate President. When the Confederate agents, James M. Mason and John Slidell and their secretaries, were taken from the British mail-steamer Trent by Captain Wilkes, of the American warship San Jacinto, the course of the British Cabinet indicated an unfriendliness so extreme as to approach a desire for war. Peremptory instructions were sent to Lord Lyons, the British Minister at Washington, to demand the release of the men arrested, and to leave Washington if the demand was not complied with in seven days. Vessels of war were fitted out by the British, and troops pressed forward to Canada. The official statement of the American Minister at London that the act had not been authorized by the American Government was kept from the British people, and public opinion was encouraged to drift into a state of hostility toward the United States. The surrender of Mason and Slidell removed all excuse for war, much to the disgust, doubtless, of the ruling class in Great Britain. Leading English statesmen made public speeches favoring the Confederacy. Lord Russell, himself, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, stated in the House of Lords that the subjugation of the South by the North "would prove a calamity to the United States and to the world." The Alabama and other privateers went forth from British ports to prey on American commerce, and the builder of the Alabama was cheered in the House of Commons when he boasted of what he had done. Even Mr. Gladstone—before Vicksburg and Gettysburg—declared that "the restoration of the American Union by force is unattainable."
Napoleon the Third—that crow in the eagle's nest—was cordially with Great Britain in all efforts to injure the American Union. He had long cherished the design to establish a vassal empire in Mexico, and in our Civil War he saw his opportunity. A Southern Confederacy would form a grand barrier between a Franco-Mexican dominion and the United States, and while the French emperor treated the government at Washington with diplomatic courtesy, he never ceased to exert his influence in favor of the South, so far as he could, without an actual rupture. Napoleon was ready and anxious to recognize the Confederacy, and he only waited for the South to win victories that would give him an excuse for action. "His course toward us," says Bigelow, "from the beginning to the end of the plot was deliberately and systematically treacherous, and his ministers allowed themselves to be made his pliant instruments." General Grant declared at City Point, in 1864, that as soon as we had disposed of the Confederates we must begin with the Imperialists, and after Appomattox he expressed the opinion that the French intervention in Mexico was so closely allied to the rebellion as to be a part of it.
Neither England nor France interfered directly in behalf of the South. Louis Napoleon waited for England to act, and the British Cabinet felt that the British masses would not justify a war in defence of slavery. The American Government, while it met with firm and dignified protest Great Britain's disregard of international obligations, was careful to abstain from giving any excuse for British hostility. "One war at a time," said Abraham Lincoln, in deciding to surrender Mason and Slidell. But Americans kept careful account of every item of outrage on the part of England, and in due time the bill was presented—and paid. And in due time also Napoleon was told to go out of Mexico—and he went.
The Confederate Government Organized—Fort Sumter—President Lincoln Calls for 75000 Men—Command of the Union Forces offered to Robert E. Lee—Lee Joins the Confederacy—Missouri Saved to the Union—Battle of Bull Run—Union Successes in the West—General Grant Captures Fort Donelson—"I Have No Terms but Unconditional Surrender"—The Monitor and Merrimac Fight—Its World-Wide Effect—Grant Victorious at Shiloh—Union Naval Victory Near Memphis—That City Captured—General McClellan's Tactics—He Retreats from Victory at Malvern Hill—Second Bull Run Defeat—Great Battle of Antietam—Lee Repulsed, but Not Pursued— McClellan Superseded by Burnside—Union Defeat at Frederickburg— Union Victories in the West—Bragg Defeated by Rosecrans at Stone River —The Emancipation Proclamation.
The new Confederate Government was organized at Montgomery, Ala., February 4, 1861, by delegates from South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, was elected President and Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia, Vice-President. The border States, which would be the battlefield of war, still hoped for peace, and hesitated to yield to the importunities of those who had already crossed the Rubicon. In Charleston harbor, the American flag floated over a little fortress called Sumter, so named after the "South Carolina Gamecock" of the Revolution, and commanded by Major Robert Anderson. In the gray of the morning on April 12, the Confederate batteries opened fire on the fort. For nearly two days the Stars and Stripes waved defiantly amid the storm of shot and shell. Then further resistance being useless and hopeless, the brave garrison evacuated the fort, carrying away the flag which they had so resolutely defended. Two days later President Lincoln called for 75,000 men to put down armed resistance to national authority. The North sprang to arms, and from East and West regiments started on their way to Washington. The governors of Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia and Missouri declined to obey the call of the President, and the secession of all these States from the Union followed, except Kentucky and Missouri. On April 17, the Virginia Convention passed the Ordinance of Secession. President Lincoln had desired to give the command of the troops to be called into the field to Colonel Robert E. Lee, of the First United States Cavalry, but that officer declined to accept the offer, resigned his commission, and joined the Confederacy. It should be needless to say that the qualities displayed by Lee, at the head of the Army of Northern Virginia, amply justified President Lincoln's measure of his capacity. The seat of the Confederate Government was removed from Montgomery to Richmond, and the latter city was thenceforward the headquarters of the rebellion.
Of the other border States Maryland remained in the Union, and Kentucky, after an attempt to maintain an impossible neutrality, yielded to the influence of mountain air, and espoused the cause of freedom. Missouri's disloyal government sought to drag the State into secession, but Francis Preston Blair, a lawyer of St. Louis, and Captain Nathaniel Lyon, commandant of the United States Arsenal in that city, took vigorous action against the rebel sympathizers, and saved the State to the Union. The German element in Missouri was so loyal to the old flag that "Unionist" and "Dutchman" were synonymous terms in that region during the war. Captain Lyon, promoted to brigadier-general, was defeated and killed at the battle of Wilson Creek. It is believed that he resolved to win the battle or die. Of such stuff were the men who rescued the Southwest.
The battle of Bull Run, when General Joseph E. Johnston, commanding the Confederates, defeated General McDowell with serious loss, and sent the Union army in disorderly retreat toward Washington, taught the Northern people that the war was not a parade, and that the overthrow of the Confederacy would tax all the energies of the loyal States. Fortunately, General George H. Thomas won an important victory for the Union at Mill Spring, Kentucky, in January, 1862, and the capture of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, in the following month, by General Ulysses S. Grant, aided by Commodore Foote and his gunboats, tended to efface the depression caused by defeat in Virginia. General Grant's reply to the Confederate General Buckner, when the latter wished to make terms for the surrender of Fort Donelson, was on every tongue in the North. "I have no terms but unconditional surrender. I propose to move immediately upon your works," was a message that spoke the man. Nearly sixteen thousand prisoners were captured. They belonged mostly to the working classes of Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas.
John Ericsson's Monitor, in March, 1862, sent a thrill of relief and joy through the North by its wonderful victory over the Merrimac. The Confederates cut down a United States frigate at the Norfolk navy yard, and transformed it into an ironclad ram, with a powerful beak. This monster they sent against the Union fleet of wooden warships in Hampton Roads. Broadsides had no effect on the Merrimac. The floating fortress attacked the Cumberland, ramming that vessel, and breaking a great hole in its side. The Cumberland sank with all on board. The Congress was driven aground and compelled to surrender. Then the monster rested for the night, intending to continue its mission of destruction on the morrow. It seemed that not only the Union fleet, but the ports and commerce of the North would be at the mercy of this novel and terrible engine of destruction. The telegraph carried the news everywhere, and in dread and anxiety the people awaited the fate of another day. When morning came at Hampton Roads a small nondescript vessel, looking like an oval raft with a turret, interposed between the Merrimac and its prey. It was the Monitor, the invention of Captain John Ericsson, and it had arrived during the night of March 8. The Monitor had been constructed at Greenpoint, Long Island, and was towed to Hampton Roads by steamers. Her turret was a revolving, bomb-proof fort, in which were mounted two 11-inch Dahlgren guns. As the turret revolved the great guns kept up a steady discharge, battering the sides of the Merrimac. The latter hurled enormous masses of iron on the Monitor, but made no impression whatever on the little craft, and the duel continued until the Merrimac gave up the fight, and ran back to shelter at Norfolk. Ericsson's praise was on every tongue. The great Swedish engineer whose sanity had been questioned when he submitted his ideas to the Navy Department, not only saved the Union navy from destruction, and Northern harbors from devastation, but he also revolutionized naval warfare.
Their first line broken in the Southwest, and now compelled to fight within secession territory, the Confederates made a stand along a second line from Memphis to Chattanooga, their forces being massed at Corinth. In the great battle of Shiloh (April 6 and 7) 100,000 men were engaged; the National loss in killed, wounded and prisoners was about 15,000, and that of the Confederates over 10,000. The latter fought more desperately than on any previous field, and for a time they had the advantage. The usual ethics of defeat had, however, no place in General Grant's military education, and the enemy were at length forced to give way. General Albert Sydney Johnston, one of the ablest Confederate commanders, was killed, and General Beauregard retreated, leaving his dead and wounded in Union hands. The second line of defence was broken. An amusing incident of this battle—if anything can be amusing in war—was a message sent by General Beauregard to General Grant explaining why he had withdrawn his troops. General Grant was strongly tempted to assure Beauregard that no apologies were necessary.
The capture of New Orleans in the latter part of April, and of Island Number Ten in the same month gave the National forces control of the Mississippi nearly up to Vicksburg and down to Memphis. The Confederate flotilla was defeated and destroyed in a sharp engagement by the Union river fleet, two miles above Memphis, on June 6, the battle occurring in full view of that city. It was one of the most dramatic spectacles of the war. The combat lasted just one hour and three minutes, and as the Union fleet landed at Memphis, a number of newsboys sprang on shore from the vessels, shouting: "Here's your New York Tribune and Herald!"—before the city had been formally surrendered. The Unionists received the National troops like brothers, and one lady brought out from its hiding place in her chimney a National flag concealed from the beginning of the war. "We found Memphis," wrote a correspondent, "as torpid as Syria, where Yusef Browne declared that he saw only one man exhibit any sign of activity, and he was engaged in tumbling from the roof of a house." Salt was rubbed into the wounds of the vanquished by the military assignment of Albert D. Richardson and Col. Thomas W. Knox, representatives of the Tribune and Herald, to edit the bitterest secession newspaper in the town.
In the East the Union cause made no progress. General George B. McClellan, in command of the Army of the Potomac, was endeavoring to play the part of a Turenne in a field utterly foreign to European strategy. Generals Robert E. Lee, Joseph E. Johnston and Thomas Jonathan ("Stonewall") Jackson, the three great Confederate commanders in Virginia, proved themselves easily the superiors of their antagonists in the tactics best fitted for American warfare, and but for the stubborn valor of the Union soldiers at Fair Oaks and in the seven days' battles ending at Malvern Hills, the Army of the Potomac would probably have been destroyed. When Malvern Hills was won by the splendid fighting of the National troops, without any agency of their commander, and when they were enthusiastic for a forward movement upon Richmond, McClellan consulted his tactical horoscope, and ordered them to retreat just as if they had been beaten. The second battle of Bull Run, with General John Pope in command on the Union side, and Generals Lee, "Stonewall" Jackson and James Longstreet leading the Confederates, stopped short of being as disastrous a defeat for the National arms as the first Bull Run, but that was all.
Lee pushed into Maryland with about 45,000 troops, and encountered McClellan at Antietam, on September 17, with 85,000. McClellan was "cautious," as usual, but fighting had to be done, and the rank and file of the Union forces were, as ever, anxious to fight. Lee was repulsed after a fearful conflict, in which about 20,000 men were killed and wounded. General Joseph Hooker, known as "Fighting Joe Hooker," was under McClellan at Antietam, and behaved most gallantly. Wounded before noon, Hooker was carried from the field. "Had he not been disabled," wrote a war correspondent, "he would probably have made it a decisive conflict. Realizing that it was one of the world's great days, he said: 'I would gladly have compromised with the enemy by receiving a mortal wound at night, could I have remained at the head of my troops until the sun went down.'" McClellan neglected to take advantage of the success achieved at the cost of so many brave lives, and Mr. George W. Smalley, then of the Tribune, who was on the field, is authority for the statement that General Hooker was privately requested in behalf of a number of Union officers, to assume command and follow up the victory. In Hooker's condition this was impossible, even had he been inclined to take a step so serious in its possible consequences for himself.
McClellan was superseded in November by General Ambrose E. Burnside, who had distinguished himself at Antietam, as he always did in a subordinate command. On December 13, General Burnside suffered a fearful defeat at Fredericksburg, with a loss of 12,000 men. It was one of Lee's most brilliant victories, and on the Union side it was a useless sacrifice of life. "Lee's position," says General Fitzhugh Lee, "was strong by nature and was made stronger by art. No troops could successfully assail it, and no commanding general should have ordered it to be done." Burnside was superseded by Hooker, and the armies in Virginia did but little more until spring.
After the battle of Shiloh the Confederates made Chattanooga, Tenn., the base of their operations in the Southwest. General Braxton Bragg, who succeeded Beauregard in command in that region, invaded Kentucky, and sought to drive the inhabitants into the Confederate service. A sanguinary battle at Perryville resulted in the complete repulse of the Confederates, who retreated into Tennessee, carrying with them a vast quantity of plunder. General William Starke Rosecrans now came to the front as a successful Union commander. With Grant's left wing he defeated the Confederates at Iuka, September 19, and Corinth, October 3 and 4, and as chief of the Army of the Cumberland, he fought one of the great battles of the war with General Bragg at Murfreesboro, or Stone River, December 31 and January 2. Never during the four years of conflict did the troops on both sides fight more resolutely. The first day was rather favorable to the Confederates. Little was done on New Year's Day, but on January 2 the struggle was renewed more fiercely than before. The western armies had caught Grant's instinct of never recognizing defeat. Charge after charge was made, first by the Confederates, then by the Union troops, and at length the Confederate line fell back, and did not charge again. At midnight of January 4 Bragg retired in the direction of Chattanooga. The killed, wounded and missing numbered over 20,000, probably about evenly divided.
The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Lincoln on New Year's Day, 1863, was in every sense a statesmanlike and justifiable measure. It aroused the powerful anti-slavery sentiment of England in support of the Union, and neutralized Tory sympathy with the Confederacy; it strengthened the Union cause at home, and it showed that the National Government was not afraid to punish, and was resolved to weaken its enemies by the confiscation of their property.
General Grant Invests Vicksburg—The Confederate Garrison—Scenes in the Beleaguered City—The Surrender—Hooker Defeated at Chancellorsville— Death of "Stonewall" Jackson—General Meade Takes Command of the Army of the Potomac—Lee Crosses the Potomac—The Battle of Gettysburg—The First Two Days—The Third Day—Pickett's Charge—A Thrilling Spectacle—The Harvest of Death—Lee Defeated—General Thomas, "The Rock of Chickamauga" —"This Position Must Be Held Till Night"—General Grant Defeats Bragg at Chattanooga—The Decisive Battle of the West.
The Confederates made Vicksburg a position of marvelous strength. General William Tecumseh Sherman, who had proved his eminent talent as a commander under Grant at Shiloh, assaulted the bluffs north of the town on December 29, 1862, and was repulsed. General Grant, with the perseverance which he afterward exhibited at Richmond, fought battle after battle until he had Vicksburg completely invested. Commodore David D. Porter, with a formidable fleet, bombarded the stronghold from the river, while Grant's kept up a cannonade day and night from the land side. General John C. Pemberton had about 15,000 effective men out of 30,000 within the lines of the beleaguered city. Every day the situation grew more intolerable for the besieged. Rats were on sale in the market-places with mule-meat. The people lived in cellars and caves, children were born in caves, and it is interesting to read in a diary of that fearful time that "the churches are a great resort for those that have no caves. People fancy that they are not shelled so much, and they are substantial and the pews good to sleep in." A woman wished to go through the lines to her friends, and on July 1 an officer with a flag of truce carried the request. He came back with the statement: "General Grant says no human being shall pass out of Vicksburg; but the lady may feel sure danger will soon be over. Vicksburg will surrender on the fourth." A Confederate general present when this message was received, said: "Vicksburg will not surrender." But Grant was right. On July 4 silence descended upon Vicksburg. The simoon of shot and shell was over, and men and women and children crawled from their caves into the light of day. The river vessels poured in an abundance of provisions, and plenty succeeded starvation. General Pemberton surrendered 27,000 men as prisoners of war.
General Hooker, notwithstanding his undoubted courage, proved no more fortunate than his predecessors in command of the Army of the Potomac. With 90,000 men he attacked Lee and 45,000 men at Chancellorsville, May 1 to 4. The Confederate commander was at his best in this fearful four days' struggle. Hooker, says a high Confederate authority, had guided his army "into the mazes of the Wilderness, and got it so mixed and tangled that no chance was afforded for a display of its mettle." Lee with inferior forces managed by consummate strategy to meet and overcome Hooker's subordinates in detail. Then he prepared for a crushing blow at Hooker himself, which the latter escaped by a timely retreat. The bombastic Order No. 49 which followed this sweeping disaster for the Union arms did not deceive either President Lincoln or the people, who had once more seen the lives of thousands of our gallant troops sacrificed on the altar of shoulder-strapped incompetency. The killed and wounded in this battle numbered about 25,000, of whom more than half were Unionists. These figures repeat eloquently that real soldiers were waiting for a real general. The death of "Stonewall" Jackson at Chancellorsville was in no slight degree a compensation for Union losses.
The tide turned at Gettysburg. General George Gordon Meade succeeded Hooker in command of the Army of the Potomac. Meade was not a brilliant man, but he was a thorough soldier, and eminently free from that spirit of envy which was the bane of our armies, which had nearly driven Grant from the service, and which was responsible for the loss of more than one battle. Elated by Chancellorsville, Lee determined to invade the North. The South made an extreme effort to replenish its armies, and that of Northern Virginia was raised to about 100,000 men. With the greater part of this magnificent host, including 15,000 cavalry and 280 guns, Lee marched down the Shenandoah Valley, crossed the Potomac on the twenty-fifth of June, and headed for Chambersburg. Meade drew near with the army of the Potomac, and such reinforcements as had been hastily collected in Pennsylvania on the news of the invasion. At Gettysburg the two armies met for the decisive battle of the war. Meade had on the field 83,000 men and 300 guns; Lee, 69,000 men and 250 guns. For three days the two armies contended with frightful losses, and with a courage not surpassed in ancient or modern warfare. The brave General John F. Reynolds lost his life in the first encounter, and General Winfield Scott Hancock was sent by Meade to take charge of the field. On the second day occurred the desperate conflict for Little Round Top, which resulted in that key to the Union line being seized and held by the Union troops. Neither side, however, gained any decided advantage. On the third day Lee prepared for the grand movement known in history as "Pickett's charge." Fourteen thousand men were selected as the forlorn hope of the Confederacy. For two hours before the charge 120 guns kept up a fearful cannonade upon the Union lines. Meade answered with eighty guns. About three o'clock in the afternoon Meade ceased firing. Lee thought the Northern gunners were silenced. He was mistaken; they knew what was coming.
On moved the charging column, as the smoke of battle lifted, and the "tattered uniforms and bright muskets" came plainly into view. At an average distance of about eleven hundred yards the Union batteries opened. Shot and shell tore through the Confederate ranks. Still they marched on over wounded and dying and dead. Canister now rained on their flanks, and as they came within closer range a hurricane of bullets burst upon them, and men dropped on every side like leaves in the winds of autumn. The strength of the charging column melted before the gale of death; but the survivors staggered on. When the remains of the Confederate right reached the Union works their three brigade commanders had fallen, every field officer except one had been killed or wounded; but still the remnant kept its face to the foe, led to annihilation by the dauntless Armistead. The four brigades on the left of Pickett met a similar fate. "They moved up splendidly," wrote a Union officer, "deploying as they crossed the long sloping interval. The front of the column was nearly up the slope, and within a few yards of the Second Corps' front and its batteries, when suddenly a terrific fire from every available gun on Cemetery Ridge burst upon them. Their graceful lines underwent an instantaneous transformation in a dense cloud of smoke and dust; arms, heads, blankets, guns and knapsacks were tossed in the air, and the moan from the battlefield was heard amid the storm of battle."
One half of the 14,000 perished in the charge. Gettysburg was over, and the tide of invasion from the South was rolled back never to return. Meade had lost about 23,000 men, and Lee about 23,000. Halleck, whose business as general-in-chief seemed to be to annoy successful commanders, and irritate them to the resignation point, blamed Meade for allowing Lee to retire without another battle, but public opinion upheld the victor of Gettysburg, and Congress honored him and Generals Hancock and O. O. Howard with a resolution of thanks.
General George H. Thomas, a Southern officer of the Lee and Johnston rank in military capacity, who fortunately stood by the Union, saved Chickamauga from being a Union defeat that would have done much to offset Gettysburg and Vicksburg. Rosecrans had compelled Bragg to evacuate Chattanooga, and erroneously assumed that the Confederate commander was in retreat, when in fact he had been reinforced by Longstreet and was ready to risk another battle. The two armies met in the valley of Chickamauga. Operations on the Union side were chiefly a series of blunders which resulted in the right wing of Rosecrans' army being broken and driven from the field, leaving the brunt of the conflict to be borne by General Thomas with the left wing.
The magnificent stand made by Thomas against the victorious Confederates, gained for him the title of the "Rock of Chickamauga." Surrounded on all sides by a force that a craven commander might have deemed irresistible, Thomas thought out his plans as coolly as if miles away from danger. "Take that ridge!" he said calmly to General James B. Steedman, when that fearless soldier came up with his division; and Thomas pointed to a commanding ridge held by the enemy. Steedman moved at once to the attack, and the ridge was carried with a loss of 2900 men. In vain both wings of the Confederates were hurled, with fierce determination against the little army of Thomas. With 25,000 men he successfully resisted the attacks of between 50,000 and 60,000. "It will ruin the army to withdraw it now; this position must be held till night"—was the answer of Thomas to Rosecrans; and Thomas held the position until night, and then withdrew in good order. The Union loss was about 19,000 and that of the Confederates at least as great. Thomas in the following month succeeded Rosecrans as commander of the Army of the Cumberland. It is more than probable that up to that time his merits had not been fully recognized, owing to unfounded suspicion of his loyalty. When it was said of Thomas to General Joseph E. Johnston that he "did not know when he was whipped," Johnston answered: "Rather say he always knew very well when he was not whipped."
The Army of the Tennessee, now commanded by Sherman, was brought up to Chattanooga from Vicksburg, and General Grant was placed in command of all forces west of the Alleghenies. General Hooker was sent from Virginia with reinforcements, and General Grant prepared for the decisive battle of the West. In that battle, which was fought about Chattanooga, November 24 and 25, Bragg was completely defeated with a loss of about 3000 in killed and wounded and 6000 prisoners. A remarkable feature of this battle is that the Confederate position on Missionary Ridge was carried by a charge made by the Union troops without orders from their commanders.
Grant Appointed Lieutenant-General—Takes Command in Virginia—Battles of the Wilderness—The Two Armies—Battle of Cedar Creek—Sheridan's Ride—He Turns Defeat Into Victory—Confederate Disasters on Land and Sea—Farragut at Mobile—Last Naval Battle of the War—Sherman Enters Atlanta—Lincoln's Re-election—Sherman's March to the Sea—Sherman Captures Savannah—Thomas Defeats Hood at Nashville—Fort Fisher Taken—Lee Appointed General-in-chief—Confederate Defeat at Five Forks—Lee's Surrender—Johnston's Surrender—End of the War—The South Prostrate—A Resistance Unparalleled in History—The Blots on the Confederacy—Cruel Treatment of Union Men and Prisoners—Murder of Abraham Lincoln—The South Since the War.
The Confederacy having been dismantled in the Southwest—except in Texas, where secession simply awaited the result in other States—Virginia became the central battle-ground of the rebellion. There its chief energies were concentrated for the closing struggle, and there its greatest leader commanded. It was the part of wisdom, therefore, for the National Government to make its most successful general chief of all the National armies, with the understanding that he would personally direct operations in the most important field. Grant was appointed lieutenant-general in March, 1864, and he at once gave his attention to the Army of the Potomac, which Meade continued to command under his supervision. The Army of Northern Virginia was no longer the well-equipped host which had gained victory after victory in the earlier period of the war, but its spirit was undaunted, and Lee, as his resources diminished, displayed more signally than ever his remarkable military genius. The two great commanders were face to face, but not on the equal terms that in '62 or '63 would have presented a duel of giants. The Confederacy was falling, gradually, it is true, but the end was in sight. It was virtually confined to four States, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia, and these but shells that only needed Sherman's march to the sea to prove how hollow they were. General Grant fought his way through the battles of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania and Cold Harbor, and across the James River to Petersburg. His losses of men were enormous, but the strength of his army was maintained by a continuous supply of recruits from the North. Grant established his lines in front of Petersburg, and proceeded to reduce that place. He gave Lee no rest, and exhausted the Confederates with repeated surprises and attacks.
General Lee had about 50,000 men to defend two cities and a line of intrenchments enveloping both, thirty-five miles long, against about 150,000 men, a large proportion of them veterans, trained and steeled to war. The time had passed for offensive operations on any effective scale on the part of the Confederates, although a desperate dash now and then gave a false impression to the world outside that the Confederacy still had a vigorous vitality. While General Philip H. Sheridan, Chief of Cavalry of the Army of the Potomac, was at Winchester, October 19, General Jubal Early suddenly attacked Sheridan's forces at Cedar Creek, nearly twenty miles from Winchester. The attack was made at dawn, and proved a complete surprise. The National troops were defeated, and the roads were thronged with fugitives, while camp, and cannon and a large number of prisoners fell into the hands of the enemy. Sheridan was riding leisurely out of Winchester, when he met his routed troops. At once he dashed forward on his black charger, crying out to his men: "Face the other way, boys! Face the other way!" and, as he learned the extent of the disaster, he added: "We will have all the camps and cannon back again!" With courage revived by their leader's example, the Union troops rallied and turned upon the foe, recovering all the spoil, and virtually destroying Early's army.
Disaster attended the Confederate cause on land and sea. The British cruiser Alabama, flying the Confederate flag, was defeated and sunk by the United States frigate Kearsarge, off the coast of France, in June, 1864. Admiral David Glasgow Farragut entered Mobile Bay, August 5, lashed to the mast of his flagship, the Hartford, and fought the last naval battle of the war. The monitor Tecumseh, which led the National vessels, was struck by the explosion of a torpedo, and sank with Commander Craven and nearly all her officers and men. Farragut, unshaken by this disaster, ordered the Hartford to go ahead heedless of torpedoes, and the other vessels to follow. He silenced the batteries with grapeshot, destroyed the Confederate squadron, and on the following day captured the forts with the assistance of a land force of 5000 men from New Orleans. The impatience of the Richmond government, chafing under its own impotence, hastened the catastrophe. General Joseph E. Johnston, who had succeeded Bragg, and who husbanded as far as compatible with an efficient defence the troops under his command, was removed to give way to General John B. Hood, who was willing to waste his forces in hopeless conflict with Sherman. On September 2 Sherman entered Atlanta.
The news of Lincoln's re-election by 212 electoral votes to 21 for McClellan, put an end to Confederate reliance on Northern sympathy and aid. Even the most sanguine now lost hope.
After sending a part of his army under Thomas to cope with Hood, who had moved into middle Tennessee, Sherman started about the middle of November with 60,000 men on his famous march through Georgia to the seacoast. He destroyed the railroads, and devastated the country from which the Confederacy was drawing its supplies. Although I have never seen it mentioned in any publication regarding the war, I believe that previous to Sherman's march it was the purpose of the Confederate Government to retreat to North Carolina when too hardly pressed in Virginia. Otherwise there seems to be no explanation for the vast accumulation of provisions at Salisbury, which were certainly not intended or used for the Union prisoners at that place, and for the large stores of food at Charlotte. Sherman captured Savannah just before Christmas, and proceeded northward through the Carolinas. Meantime General Thomas had completely defeated Hood at the battle of Nashville, and dispersed his army, the remnant of which gathered again under General Joseph E. Johnston to oppose the march of Sherman. Fort Fisher, North Carolina, surrendered to General Alfred H. Terry and Admiral Porter in January, 1865.
Lee, reduced to the last extremity at Richmond, and appointed in February, 1865, general-in-chief of armies which no longer had a real existence, decided to abandon the Confederate capital and effect a junction with Johnston. Sheridan prevented this by defeating the Confederates at Five Forks, April 1, and turning Lee's right and threatening his rear. Five Forks was the beginning of the end. Thirty-five thousand muskets were guarding thirty-seven miles of intrenchments, and on these attenuated lines General Grant ordered an immediate assault. The defences were found to be almost denuded of men. Petersburg and Richmond fell, and Lee, driven westward, surrendered at Appomattox, on April 9, the remains of the once proud Army of Northern Virginia, now numbering 26,000 ragged and starving soldiers. On learning that Lee's troops had been living for days on parched corn, General Grant at once offered to send them rations, and the Union soldiers readily shared their own provisions with the men with whom, a few hours before, they had been engaged in mortal strife. Lee bade a touching farewell to his troops, and rode through a weeping army to his home in Richmond. A fortnight afterward Johnston surrendered to Sherman, and with the surrender of the Confederate Trans-Mississippi Army, May 26, the war was at an end. The Confederate Government had fled from Richmond when Lee withdrew his army, and on May 10, Jefferson Davis was captured near Irwinsville, Ga., and sent as a prisoner to Fortress Monroe.
We have read of the sieges of Numantia and of Haarlem, of Scotland's struggle for liberty under Wallace and Bruce, and of the virtual extinction of the men of Paraguay in the war against Brazil and Argentina; but history records no resistance on the part of a considerable population inhabiting an extensive region, under an organized government, worthy to compare in resolution, endurance and self-sacrifice, with that of the Southern Confederacy to the forces of the Union. When the war closed the South was prostrate. When the Governor of Alabama was asked to join in raising a force to attack the rear of Sherman he answered, no doubt truthfully, that only cripples, old men and children remained of the male population of the State. In their desperation the Southern leaders even thought of enlisting negroes, thus adding a grotesque epilogue to the mighty national tragedy. Of course even the most ignorant negro could not have been expected to fight for his own enslavement. I saw Richmond about a month before the surrender. It was like a city of the dead. Two weeks later I was in New York. It teemed with life and bustle and energy.
The blots on the Confederacy were the cruel persecution of Union men living in the South, who were, in many instances, dragged from their families and put to death as traitors, and the maltreatment of Union prisoners. The North tolerated Southern sympathizers, when not actually engaged in plotting against the government, and treated Southern prisoners with all the kindness possible. It has been said for the South that while Union prisoners were starving, the Confederate troops in the field were almost starving too. This is a dishonest subterfuge. The Southern troops were starving not because ordinary food was not plentiful in the Confederacy, but because of lack of transportation to carry the food from the interior to the front, while the Union prisoners perished from hunger in the midst of abundance. Again, even assuming the plea of scarcity to be true, that would not palliate the numerous murders of helpless prisoners by volleys fired into the stockades at the pleasure of the guards. There was a vindictiveness in these crimes which no plea can extenuate.
The murder of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth removed the only man who could have done justice to the South and controlled the passions of the North. Lincoln was signally, providentially adapted to be the nation's guide in the struggle which, under his leadership, was brought to a successful conclusion. For the equally difficult task of reconstruction he was likewise admirably qualified, and his death was followed by a civil chaos almost as deplorable as armed disunion. From that chaos the American people gradually emerged by force of their native character and their fundamental sense of justice and of right. The South, for some years subjected to the rule of camp-followers and freedmen, gradually recovered from the devastation of war, and superior intelligence came to the top, as it always will eventually. The Southern people learned that they had other resources besides cotton, and they began to emulate the North in the development of manufactures and mines. The old slave-owning aristocracy in the South has disappeared, but the "poor whites" have also almost disappeared, and the average of comfort in that section is greater than at any period in American history. The negroes complain, and with too much cause, of political oppression and exclusion from the suffrage, but they seem to be on good terms with their "oppressors," and on the principle of the old Spanish proverb that "he is my friend who brings grist to my mill," the Southern black has no better friend than the Southern white.
Reconstruction in the South—The Congress and the President—Liberal Republican Movement—Nomination, Defeat and Death of Greeley—Troops Withdrawn by President Hayes—Foreign Policy of the Past Thirty Years— French Ordered from Mexico—Last Days of Maximilian—Russian-America Bought—The Geneva Arbitration—Alabama Claims Paid—The Northwest Boundary—The Fisheries—Spain and the Virginius—The Custer Massacre —United States of Brazil Established—President Harrison and Chile —Venezuela—American Prestige in South America—Hawaii—Behring Sea—Garfield, the Martyr of Civil Service Reform—Labor Troubles— Railway Riots of 1877 and 1894—Great Calamities—The Chicago Fire, Boston Fire, Charleston Earthquake, Johnstown Flood.
The Southern people cannot be justly blamed for their resolute resistance to negro domination. It was too much to expect that former masters should accept political inferiority to a race emancipated from slavery, but not emancipated from deplorable ignorance and debasement, and easily misled by unscrupulous whites. On the other hand, gratitude and prudence demanded, on the part of the North, that the negro should not only be a freeman, but also a citizen; that he should not only be liberated from slavery, but also protected against oppression. The negro, however ignorant, was true to the Union, and attached to the Republican party; the black soldiers had fought in the Union armies, and Abraham Lincoln himself had advised Governor Hahn, of Louisiana, in 1863, that "the very intelligent colored people, and especially those who fought gallantly in our ranks, should be admitted to the franchise," for "they would probably help in some trying time to come to keep the jewel of liberty within the family of freedom."
Andrew Johnson, succeeding to the chair of Lincoln, and with his heart softened toward his native South, would have restored the whites to full control, with the negroes at their mercy. The Congress, however, intervened, and the ex-Confederate States were placed under military law, and only admitted to recognition as States upon conditions which gave the negro equal rights with his white fellow-citizens—and indeed superior rights to many of them, the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States excluding from office all persons who, having taken an oath as public officers to support the Constitution afterward joined the Confederacy. For opposing these measures of Congress President Johnson was impeached, and escaped conviction by one vote.
The Southern whites continued to struggle for white supremacy. The conflict continued throughout Johnson's term as President, and even the severe military measures adopted under power from Congress by General Grant, only suppressed organized violence in its more rampant form. It was impossible to imprison a commonwealth or to place bayonets at every threshold, and while the negro might be upheld in his right of suffrage, Federal protection could not supply him with work and bread. The intellect and the property of the South were on the side of the whites, and the blacks began to find that their choice was between submission or extinction.
In the North, even among Republicans, a feeling grew that the ex-Confederates had suffered enough, while it was impossible for an honest man to have any other sentiment than contempt for the political vultures who had descended on the wasted South. This feeling gave strength to the Liberal Republican movement in 1872, and arrayed Democrats—and not a few of the old anti-slavery leaders—in support of Horace Greeley for President.
The insanity and death of Mr. Greeley cast a gloom over the election for victors as well as vanquished. Mr. Greeley's mind was weakened by domestic affliction, and by the desertion of Tribune readers, and when crushing defeat at the polls gave the coup-de-grace to his political prospects, his once vigorous intellect yielded under the strain. Like a dying gladiator, mortally wounded, but with courage unquenched, he seized once more the editorial blade with which he had dealt so many powerful blows in the past for justice and for truth; but nature was not equal to the task, and the weapon fell from his nerveless grasp. His last words were: "The country is gone; the Tribune is gone, and I am gone." General Grant attended the funeral of his gifted and hapless competitor, and the nation joined in honor and eulogy of the great editor whose heart was always true to humanity, and whose very failings leaned to virtue's side. Fortunately Mr. Greeley's irresponsible utterance was not prophetic either as to the country or the Tribune. Mr. Whitelaw Reid succeeded to the editorial chair, and has ably kept the Tribune in the front rank of American journals.
Mr. Greeley's last editorial expression pleaded with the victors in behalf of justice and fair dealing for the South. General Grant himself is said to have arrived at the conclusion before the close of his second term, that the Federal troops should be withdrawn from the Southern States, and sagacious Republicans discerned in the growth of Democratic sentiment both North and South a warning that the people were becoming tired of bayonet government ten years after Appomattox. The election of 1876, when the Democrats had a popular majority, and the decision between Rutherford B. Hayes, Republican, and Samuel J. Tilden, Democrat, depended on a single vote, emphasized the popular protest against military rule in time of peace, and when the Electoral Commission gave a verdict in favor of General Hayes, the new President speedily withdrew the National troops from the reconstructed States.
While the country witnessed deep agitation and difference of opinion regarding reconstruction in the South, there was no difference of public sentiment regarding the vigorous, far-sighted and thoroughly American policy of the government in dealing with foreign powers. One of the first steps of Secretary Seward after the close of the war was to demand in courteous language that the French should evacuate Mexico. Napoleon dared not challenge the United States by answering no. General Philip H. Sheridan was on the Rio Grande with fifty thousand men, anxious to cross over and fight; a million veterans were ready to obey the summons to battle, and Generals Grant and Sherman would willingly have followed in the footsteps of Scott and Taylor. The French troops were withdrawn. Maximilian, deceived as to the strength of his cause with the natives, refused to accompany Bazaine across the ocean, and the month of May, 1867, saw the usurping emperor shut up with a small force in Queretaro, surrounded by an army of forty thousand Mexican avengers.
In those final days of his life and reign the hapless Austrian prince exhibited a courage and nobility of character which showed that the blood of Maria Theresa was not degenerate in his veins. He faced death with more than reckless daring; he shared in all the privations of his faithful adherents, and he was preparing to cut his way out through the host of besiegers, at the head of his men, when treachery betrayed him to the enemy.
Miguel Lopez was the Benedict Arnold of Queretaro; personal immunity and two thousand gold ounces the price. Lopez held the key of Queretaro—the convent of La Cruz. Maximilian had been his generous patron and friend, and had appointed him chief of the imperial guard. Lopez discerned the approaching downfall of his sovereign, and resolved to save himself by delivering up that sovereign to the enemy. On the night of May 14, the Liberal troops were admitted to La Cruz, and Queretaro was at the mercy of the besiegers.
Maximilian made a last stand on the "Hill of the Bells." Successful resistance was impossible. The bullet he prayed for did not come, and the emperor and his officers were prisoners. In vain the Princess Salm-Salm, representing one of the proudest families of Europe, bent her knees before the Indian President of Mexico, and pleaded for the life of Maximilian. "I am grieved, madam," said Juarez, "to see you thus on your knees before me; but if all the kings and queens of Europe were in your place, I could not spare that life. It is not I who take it. It is the people and the law, and if I should not do their will, the people would take it, and mine also."
"Boys, aim well—aim at my heart"—was Maximilian's request to his executioners. "Oh man!" was his last cry as he fell, the victim of his own ambition, and of Louis Napoleon's perfidy. The volley which pierced his breast was the knell of the Bonaparte dynasty. Gravelotte was but little more than three years from Queretaro.
The acquisition of Russian America for the sum of $7,200,000 was a splendid stroke of statesmanship, and secured to the United States the control of the North Pacific coast of the continent, besides adding about 581,107 square miles to the territory of the Republic. Alaska has immense resources, and is already looking forward to a proud and prosperous future as the north star in the flag of our Union.
When the British Government proposed, in 1871, a joint commission to settle the Canadian fisheries dispute, Secretary of State Hamilton Fish replied that the settlement of the claims for depredations by Anglo-Confederate cruisers would be "essential to the restoration of cordial and amicable relations between the two governments." In the following February five high commissioners from each country met in Washington, and a treaty was agreed upon providing for arbitration upon the issues between the American Republic and Great Britain. These issues included the "Alabama Claims"—so-called because the Alabama was the most notorious and destructive of the Anglo-Confederate sea rovers—the question of the Northwest boundary, and the Canadian fisheries.
The Tribunal of Arbitration upon the "Alabama Claims" met at Geneva, Switzerland, December 15, 1871. Charles Francis Adams, American Minister to England during the war, was member of the Tribunal for the United States, and Lord Chief Justice Cockburn acted for Great Britain. Baron Itajuba, Brazilian Minister to France; Count Sclopis, an Italian statesman, and M. Jaques Stæmpfii, of Switzerland, were the other members of the illustrious and memorable court. Caleb Cushing, William M. Evarts and Morrison R. Waite, counsel for the United States, presented an indictment against England which should have made British statesmen shrink from the evidence of their unsuccessful conspiracy against the life of a friendly State. The course of Great Britain during the war was reviewed in language not less forcible and convincing because it was calm, dignified and restrained. A fortress of facts was presented impregnable to British reply, and highly creditable to the forethought and skill with which the American State Department had gathered the material for its case from the very beginning of the war. So strong and unanswerable was the proof against the Alabama that the British arbitrator voted in favor of the United States on the issue of British responsibility for that vessel.
The Tribunal awarded $15,500,000 in gold for the vessels and cargoes destroyed by the Alabama, with her tender; the Florida, with her three tenders, and the Shenandoah, or Sea King, during a part of her piratical career. England promptly paid the award, and learned for the third time in her history that the rights and interests of the American people were not to be trampled on with impunity. The United States, in fulfilment of an award made by a commission appointed under the Treaty of Washington paid $2,000,000 for damages incurred by British subjects during the war for the Union, the claims presented to the commission having amounted to $96,000,000. The differences between the United States and Great Britain on account of the rebellion were thus happily removed without the shedding of a drop of blood, and the two great nations of English origin gave to mankind an admirable example of peaceful arbitration as a substitute for the ordeal of battle.
The question of the Northwest boundary was also settled to the satisfaction of the United States, by the German emperor, William I., to whom it was referred as arbitrator. The treaty of 1846 left in doubt whether the boundary line included the island of San Juan and its group within American or British territory. American and British garrisons occupied the disputed island of San Juan. When the Emperor William decided in favor of the United States the British troops were withdrawn.
Less advantageous to the United States was the attempt made to settle the long dispute over the fisheries. The Treaty of Washington provided that American fishermen should be freely admitted to the Canadian fisheries, and that Canadians should be permitted to fish on the American coast as far south as the thirty-ninth parallel, and that there should be free trade in fish-oil and salt water fish, these provisions to be abrogated on two years' notice. Through a most unfortunate blunder on the part of our government a commission was constituted virtually British in its character, which awarded to Great Britain the sum of $5,500,000 for imaginary American benefits to be derived from reciprocity. This money was paid without any real equivalent.
The reciprocity arrangement was abrogated, under notice from our government, in 1885, and the old contention was renewed. As a result of Canadian outrage and intolerance a bill was passed by the American Congress, March 3, 1887, providing that the President, on being satisfied that American fishing masters or crews were treated in Canadian ports any less favorably than masters or crews of trading vessels belonging to the most favored nations could "in his discretion by proclamation to that effect deny vessels, their masters and crews, of the British dominions of North America, any entrance into the waters, ports or places of or within the United States." Eventually the Canadians assumed a more reasonable attitude, and American fishermen, on their part, learned to be independent of Canada, and to value the exclusive possession of their own markets more than Canadian fishing privileges.
Spain invited a conflict with the United States by the summary execution, in November, 1873, of 110 persons, including a number of American citizens, captured on the American steamship Virginius, while on their way to assist the Cuban patriots. President Grant acted with firmness and deliberation, refusing to be carried away by the popular demand for war, but resolute in his demand for redress on the part of Spain. The Spanish government surrendered the survivors and the Virginius, and made reparation satisfactory to the United States. When the American schooner Competitor was captured recently, on an errand to the Cuban insurgents, the Spaniards did not dare to repeat the tragedy of the Virginius.
The American Indians made their last hostile stand against white aggression June 25, 1876, when the Sioux, led by Sitting Bull, destroyed General Custer and three hundred cavalry under his command. The troops fought bravely, but the Indians were nerved to desperation by the presence of their women and children. Sitting Bull took refuge with his followers in British territory, but surrendered to United States authority in 1880, under promise of amnesty. He was treacherously killed in 1890, on suspicion of being concerned in fomenting trouble with the whites. The policy of the National Government toward the Indians has of late years been humane and liberal.
The extinction of imperialism in Brazil in 1889 effaced monarchy from the American continent, save as represented in the territories still subject to European States. Dom Pedro II., one of the most amiable and liberal of nineteenth century rulers, was driven into exile, and without an armed encounter, or the firing of a gun in anger, the empire of Brazil became the United States of Brazil. Unlike other emperors and kings who have been compelled to give up their American dominions, Dom Pedro's parting message to the land he had wisely governed was one of amity and peace. As the shores of his loved Brazil disappeared before his moistening eyes he released a dove to bear back his last adieu of loyal and fervent goodwill. He died in exile, his end doubtless hastened by pathetic longing to see once more the native land forever barred to him.
The path toward freedom in Brazil had not been strewn with flowers. Brazil had its martyrs as well as its heroes. It is a remarkable fact that nearly every revolution in France had its echo in Brazil, and undoubtedly French as well as American example had much to do with the deposition of Pedro II. It is a mistake to argue, as some European writers have argued, that the change from a monarchy to a republic in Brazil was nothing more than a successful military revolt. It was the culmination of more than a century of agitation in behalf of republican principles; it was the pure flame of a sacred hearth-fire, which had never been extinguished from the day when it caught the first feeble glow from the dying breath of Filipe dos Santos.
The Brazilians have given an admirable example to other South American republics in the separation of State from Church. While providing for the maintenance of ecclesiastics now dependent on the State for support, the Brazilian Constitution decrees not only entire liberty of worship, but absolute equality of all before the law, without regard to their religious creed. The absence of this equality is the chief blot on some South American States.
The resolute course of President Harrison in exacting indemnity and apology from Chile for insult to the American uniform and the murder and wounding of American sailors, tended greatly to promote the influence and prestige of the United States in South America, and the Spanish-American republics are learning to esteem the United States, instead of England, as the leading power of the New World. Brazil is grateful for American countenance and friendship in the defence of that youngest and greatest of South American republics against rebellion plotted in Europe in the interest of the Braganzas, while Venezuela depends upon the United States with justifiable confidence for the vindication of the Monroe Doctrine, and the restoration of territory seized and occupied by the British without any title save that of superior force. Cuba, in her heroic battle for freedom, is upheld by American public sentiment and the substantial sympathy of the American people, and Nicaragua is virtually under American protection. The American eagle, from its seat in the North, overshadows with guardian pinions the American continent.
In the case of Hawaii the American Republic seems likely to depart from its traditional policy of acquiring no territory beyond American bounds. The Hawaiian Islands were won from barbarism by the efforts and sacrifices of American missionaries and their descendants. A republic has been established there, and intelligent Hawaiians look hopefully forward to a common future with the United States. There is hardly a doubt that this hope will be fulfilled, and that the Eden of Southern seas will become an outpost of American civilization. With the two great English speaking nations of America and Australia confronting each other across the Pacific, that ocean is certain to be in the twentieth century the theatre of grand events, perhaps of future Actiums and Trafalgars. In Hawaii we will have a Malta worthy of such a mighty arena, and the flames of Kilauea will be a beacon fire of American liberty to the teeming millions of Asia.
The Behring Sea negotiations have from the first been discreditable to diplomacy at Washington. The attempt to prove that the fur-seals are domestic animals, and the property of the United States when a hundred miles out in the Pacific Ocean was a humiliating reflection on the intelligence of both parties to the dispute, and showed abject and degrading subserviency to the corporation controlling the seal monopoly. Added to this was the disgrace of forgery, detected, unfortunately, not at Washington, but in London, and indicating that, while Washington officials were doubtless innocent of complicity in the crime, the forger knew, or thought he knew, what was wanted. The end is that this country has to pay about $400,000 to England, while the seals are abandoned to destruction, which at least will have the happy effect of removing them as a cause of international controversy.
The assassination of President Garfield, July 2, 1881, by a disappointed seeker for office made that President the martyr of civil service reform, and gave an irresistible impulse to the movement to alleviate the evils of what is known as the "spoils system." Notwithstanding the opposition of politicians and newspapers representing the vicious and ignorant element, civil service reform has made marvelous progress, and the principle is now recognized not only in appointments to the vast majority of non-elective offices under the National Government, but also in the civil service of States and municipalities.
An unfortunate consequence of the vast growth of individual and corporate wealth, after the war, was the widening of the division line between capital and labor. The depression consequent upon the collapse of inflated values in 1873 compelled employers to reduce expenses, and made harder the lot of labor, while the workingman who saw his wages reduced was not always willing to make intelligent allowance for the circumstances which made the reduction necessary. The spirit of discontent reached the point of eruption in 1877, when railway employees throughout a large part of the Union abandoned their work, and indulged in riot and disorder. The struggle raged most fiercely in the city of Pittsburg, which was subjected for some days to the reign of a mob, and to perils seldom surpassed save in the tragic scenes of old-world barricades and revolution. The County of Allegheny had to settle for damages to the amount of $2,772,349.53, of which $1,600,000 went to the Pennsylvania Railroad. Chicago, Baltimore and Reading were also the scenes of severe and sanguinary conflict between rioters and the militia. It was estimated that about 100,000 workers were engaged in the strike in various parts of the country.
Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois and other States have witnessed serious labor troubles since 1877, and the regular army of the United States was employed by order of President Cleveland to put down unlawful interference with interstate commerce in 1894; but the general tendency of workingmen is to obtain redress for real or imaginary grievances in a law-abiding manner by securing the election of officials favorable to their interests. This is the only method of redress that can be tolerated in a republic.
The great fires of Chicago in 1871, and of Boston in 1872, the Charleston earthquake of 1886 and the Johnstown flood of 1889, were among the most memorable of the destructive visitations which have served signally to illustrate the energy, the generosity, and the recuperative power of the American people. Chicago, with $200,000,000 of property swept away by the flames, laid amid the ashes the foundations of that new Chicago which is the inland metropolis of the continent, brimming with the spirit of American progress, and the blood in every vein bounding with American energy. Boston plucked profit from disaster by establishing her claim as the modern Athens in architecture as well as literature, and Charleston learned, amid her ruins, that northern sympathy was not bounded by Mason and Dixon's line. The South taught a similar lesson in return when the cry from flood-stricken Johnstown touched every merciful heart.
The American Republic the Most Powerful of Nations—Military and Naval Strength—Railways and Waterways—Industry and Art—Manufactures—The New South—Foreign and Domestic Commerce—An Age of Invention—Americans a Nation of Readers—The Clergy—Pulpit and Press—Religion and Higher Education—The Currency Question—Leading Candidates for the Presidency —A Sectional Contest Deplorable—What Shall the Harvest Be?
Thirty-two years ago the very existence of the American Republic was in the balance. Today it is the most powerful of nations, with forty-five stars, representing that number of States, on its flag, and unequalled in population, wealth or resources by any other civilized land. The men of America are not herded away from industry to drill in camps and garrison, and wait for a war that may never come. They continue to be producers, but should the need arise they would be found as good soldiers as any in the world, and for fighting on American soil better than the best of Europe. The American navy is already formidable, and becoming more formidable every year, and the spirit of the men who fought under Bainbridge, Decatur, Hull and Perry survives in their descendants. However great the improvements in naval machines the men on the ship will always be of more importance than the armament. The American Republic has the men, and is fast acquiring the armament.
The people were never so closely united as now. Every new railway is a muscle of iron knitting together the joints of the Union, and no other nation has a railway service equal to that of America. Railways span the continent from New York to the Golden Gate. The traveler retires to rest in the North and wakes up in the sunny South. And still he can journey on in his own country, under the American flag, day after day, if he wishes, toward the setting sun, unvexed by custom house, and free from the inquisition which attends the stranger in Europe, as he flits from one petty State to another. The great national policy of encouraging the extension of railway and water communication is grandly vindicated in the America of to-day. When the Nicaragua Canal shall have been completed the American people will have a new waterway joining the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the Republic, as important to the commerce of the Union as the Erie Canal was fifty years ago.
To describe the progress of the United States in the industries and arts would be a work requiring many volumes, including the census reports of 1890, and catalogues of the Centennial and Chicago Fairs. The Republic is not only the greatest of agricultural nations, but also leads Great Britain in manufactures. In the quality of our textile fabrics we are outstripping Europe, and the statement that cloth is imported is a temptation now only to ignorant purchasers. In the more refined arts America is also gaining upon the older world, and it is absurd to see Americans purchasing silverware, for instance, abroad when they can get a much finer article at home. The low wages and keen competition of Europe have a degrading effect not only upon the workingman, but also in some degree upon his product, whereas here the artist and the artisan are encouraged by fair compensation and comfortable surroundings to do their best. The principle upon which American employers act—to give good pay for good work—is the secret of American success; it is the reason why even the semi-barbarians are learning that American goods are made to wear, while those of Europe are often made only to sell.
Manufactures are flourishing in the South as well as the North, and it is wonderful to relate that, while the hum of busy factories can be heard in nearly every city, town and village of the former Confederacy, the cotton crop—which the Southern people in 1860 believed it impossible to produce without slave labor—has already reached with free labor about double the figures of 1860.
It is true that we do not have a large share of the foreign carrying trade, but it is also true that our merchant marine, including the vessels engaged in foreign and domestic trade and river and lake navigation, is second only to that of Great Britain. The domestic commerce of the United States, a free trade extending from Florida to Sitka, from Eastport to San Diego, is vastly greater than the foreign commerce of Great Britain.
The age has been one of marvelous inventions in steam, in electricity, in the machinery which has made nearly every mechanic and operative an engineer, which is driving the horse from the streets and the farms, and which enables one factory hand to produce as much as three produced a generation ago.
Submarine cables keep America in close touch with Europe, and even the gossip of Paris and London is known the same day in our cities. Everybody reads, and whereas the American of a generation ago took one newspaper, his son to-day probably takes two or three, besides weekly and monthly publications. Notwithstanding all that is said about ignorant foreign immigration it is certain that the growth of newspaper circulation in the past two decades has exceeded the growth of population. Americans are a reading people, and it is for every head of a family to see that his children have the right kind of reading.
The clergy are not now the political monitors of the community, as when, at the time of the Revolution, the election sermon preached in Boston, and printed in pamphlet form, was spelled by the light of the pine-knot in the cabin on the Berkshire plantation, inspiring the rustic breast with holy zeal to deliver the Israel of the New World from the yoke of the English Sennacherib. The newspaper has taken the place of the pulpit as a political beacon and guide, and, as every denomination and congregation includes members of both the prominent national parties, it would be impossible for a clergyman to indulge in even a distant partisan allusion without offending some one of his hearers. The clergyman is free, like any other citizen, to indicate his preferences and express his opinions in regard to public affairs, but the judicious pastor is not prone to use that freedom indiscreetly.
Although the preachers are no longer political leaders, there is, in the opinion of the writer, based upon what he has heard and read of the past, and observed of the present, a larger proportion of learned, talented, and eloquent men among the pastors who minister in the churches to-day, than in any generation gone by. The clergy are still pre-eminently the molders of education. The presidents and professors of leading universities are usually prominent in some evangelical sect, and this is probably owing to the fact that every seminary of higher knowledge is under the control of a branch of the Christian Church, whose influence is predominant in the faculty, and which regards the college as a filial institution, with traditions intertwined with its own. However skeptical or indifferent students may be to religion, they cannot fail to imbibe at least an esteem for the doctrines of the Saviour from the teachers who impart to them secular lessons. The impressions thus received by the plastic mind of youth are not likely to be ever wholly effaced. The man or the divinity we venerate at nineteen we instinctively bow to at forty.
The progress of the past thirty years has no doubt been due in an eminent degree to a sound and uniform currency. In the coming national election it will be decided whether that currency is to remain as it is—at the world's highest standard—or whether the mints of the United States are to be opened freely to the coinage of silver. Major William McKinley, one of the bravest soldiers of the Union army, and a statesman of recognized integrity and ability, is the candidate of the existing standard; the Hon. William J. Bryan, a brilliant young orator, is the candidate of free silver. The contest now opening is likely to be one of the most exciting the country has ever witnessed. Nothing could be more deplorable than for that contest to assume a sectional aspect, with West arrayed against East and East against West.
Come weal, come woe, this should and will remain a united country. The American nation is one people, and will remain one people. The destiny of one section is the destiny of all. North, East, West and South are traveling along a common highway toward a common future. Be that future one of prosperity or of calamity, all will share in it. Whatever the seed sown, whether of good or evil, all will reap the harvest, and it remains for all, therefore, to consider, as citizens of a common country, what shall the harvest be?
No Classes Here—All Are Workers—Enormous Growth of Cities—Immigration —Civic Misgovernment—The Farming Population—Individuality and Self-reliance—Isolation Even in the Grave—The West—The South—The Negro—Little Reason to Fear for Our Country—American Reverence for Established Institutions.
In the Old World meaning of the term there are no classes of society here. There is no condition of life, however low, from which a man may not aspire and rise to the highest honors and the most enviable distinction, provided that he has the requisite natural endowments, favorable opportunities, and the ability and foresight to grasp them. The materials of which our American population is composed are various in origin and diverse in their ideas, their creeds, and their aims, but nevertheless full of vital force and energy, and with a less percentage of human weeds and refuse than any other nation on the globe. Nearly everybody is at work, from the manufacturer worth millions, to the tramp who earns his breakfast in the charity wood-yard. It is disreputable for any one in vigorous health and years, and even when of ample fortune, to be without employment, and for this reason rich young men frequently go through the form of admission to the bar, or of medical graduation, in order that it may not be said that they are unoccupied. The sons of wealth who ignore the industrious example of their sires are still too few in proportion to the multitude, and held in too general contempt, to more than irritate the social surface. The aristocracy of America is an aristocracy of workingmen—workingmen whose possessions are valued by the hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars, but still men who work.
Great cities exert an influence on public affairs unknown half a century ago. The enormous growth of municipalities may be judged from the fact that the net municipal expenses of New York City, exclusive of the city's share of the State debt, interest on the city's bonds, and money acquired for the payment of some of the bonds at maturity, amount to $33,000,000 annually. On schools alone New York spends this year $5,900,000; Chicago, $5,500,000, and Brooklyn, $2,500,000. This is the most hope-inspiring item in municipal budgets. It may mean the salvation of the country.
The urban population is largely composed of the element known as "foreign." The sixteen millions of immigrants who have come to the United States since 1820, have made a deep impress on the Republic. Immigrants and the descendants of immigrants have been of the greatest value in developing American resources and building up American States, and the large majority of citizens of recent alien origin are sincerely attached to American institutions. In the cities, however, and especially in New York and Chicago, may be found a class of foreigners who unfortunately herd together in certain districts, and remain almost as alien to the American language and to American institutions as when they first landed on our shores. Even these, however, are not irredeemable, and in the course of a generation or two their more obnoxious traits will probably disappear. Freedom of worship and the public school have a curative and humanizing influence which not even the leprosy bred of centuries of European despotism and oppression can resist. I am not of those who view with apprehension or aversion the race of Christ, of David and of the Maccabees, of Disraeli and of Gambetta. There is no better class of citizens than the better class of Jews, and it would be a dishonorable day for our Republic should its gates ever be closed to the victims of religious intolerance, whatsoever their race or belief.
The great cities witness almost unceasing strife between what may be called the political-criminal element on the one side, and patriotism and intelligence on the other side. Knaves, using bigotry, ignorance and intimidation as their weapons, manage to control municipal affairs, except when expelled from office for periods more or less brief by some sudden spasm of public virtue and indignation, like the revolt in the city of New York against the Tweed Ring a quarter of a century ago, and the reform victory in that city two years ago.
The overthrow of Tweed, and the great uprising of 1894 in New York, and of more recent date in Chicago, prove that the American people, once fully aroused, can crush, as with the hammer of Thor, any combination of public plunderers, however powerful. But why should these tremendous efforts be necessary? Why should not the latent energy which makes them possible be exerted in steady and uniform resistance to the restless enemies of pure and popular government?
The farming population, although largely overshadowed by manufacturing and commercial interests, is still the anchor of the Republic. In many of the States the rural vote is predominant, although in the nation as a whole it is gradually losing ground, owing to the growth of the cities, the removal of restrictions on the suffrage, and the partial adjustment of representation to numbers. The most striking features in the character of the native farmer are individuality and self-reliance. These qualities have been inherited from ancestors who were compelled by circumstances to depend upon their own industry for a living, and their own vigilance and courage for defence, when the treacherous Indian lurked in swamps and woods, and the father attended Sunday worship with a weapon by his side. The founders of these States were men who thought for themselves, or they would not have been exiles for the sake of conscience. Their situation made them still more indifferent to the opinions and concerns of the world from which they were divided, while they stood aloof even from each other, except when common danger drove them to unite for mutual protection. Their offspring grew up amid stern and secluded surroundings, and the thoughts and habits of the parent became the second nature of the child. I have often imagined that in the firm, wary, and reserved expression on the Yankee farmer's face was photographed the struggle of his progenitors two centuries ago. This wariness and reserve does not, as a rule, amount to churlishness. The American, like the English cultivator, has felt the ameliorating influences of modern civilization, and while he retains his strong individuality, his intelligence prompts him to benefit by the opportunities denied to his forefathers.
The dwelling of the American farmer is usually lacking in those tasteful accessories which add such a charm to the cottage homes of England and France. Beyond the belt of suburban villas one seldom sees a carefully tended flower-garden, or an attractive vine. The yard, like the field, is open to the cattle, and, if there is a plot fenced in, it is devoted, not to roses and violets, but to onions or peas. The effect is dreary and uninviting, even though the enclosure may be clean, and the milk-cans scoured to brilliancy. Again we see in this disregard for the beautiful the effect of isolation upon the native character, the result of hard grubbing for the bare needs of existence. The primitive settlers needed every foot of the land which they laboriously subdued, for some productive use; they had neither time nor soil to spare for the culture of the beautiful; and their descendants have inherited the ancestral disposition to utilize everything, and the ancestral want of taste for the merely charming in nature. Yet there are gratifying exceptions to the general rule, and sometimes a housewife may be met who takes pride and pleasure in her flower-beds. No doubt it was such a wife that the lonesome old farmer was speaking of one evening, in a group by a roadside tavern, as the writer passed along. "My wife loved flowers," he mournfully said, as his weary eyes seemed to look back into the past, "and I must go and plant some upon her grave."
The spirit of independence and isolation extends in many of the old American families even to the tomb. An interesting monograph might be written on the private graveyards in some parts of the East. Among the shade-trees surrounding a house on the busy street, in the orchard behind the farmer's barn, and again in the depth of the wood, a few rude, unchiseled headstones, perhaps nearly hidden by tangled brush, reveal the spot where sleep the forefathers of the plantation. I came across such a burying-ground not long ago. It was far from the traveled highway, far from the haunts of living men, among trees and grapevines, and blueberry bushes. The depression in the soil indicated that the perishable remains had long ago crumbled to dust, while a large hole burrowed in the earth showed where a woodchuck made its home among the bones of the forgotten dead. With reverent hand I cleared the leaves from about the primitive monuments, and sought for some word or letter that might tell who they were that lay beneath the silver birches, in the silent New England forest. But the stones, erect as when set by sorrowing friends perhaps two hundred years ago, bore neither trace nor mark. There were graves enough for a household, and likely a household was there. It maybe a father who had fled from Old England to seek in the wilderness a place where he might worship God according to the dictates of his heart; a Pilgrim wife and mother, whose gentle love mellowed and softened the harshness of frontier life, and sons and daughters, cut off before the growth of commerce tempted the survivors to the town, or the reports of new and fertile territories induced them to abandon the rugged but not ungrateful paternal fields. With gentle step, so not to disturb the sacred stillness of the scene, I turned from the lonely graves, and I thought as I walked, that these simple tombs in the bosom of nature well befitted those who had dared the dangers of wild New England for freedom from the empty forms of a mitred religion.
History can be read in secluded resting-places of the departed. With the accretion of wealth to the living more care was expended upon the dead, and enduring slabs of slate, with appropriate engravings, took the place of the uncouth fragments of rock. With added riches the taste for display in headstones, as well as in social life, increased, and imported marble was occasionally used to designate the tombs of prosperous descendants of the early and impoverished settlers. Not infrequently all three—the unlettered stone of the first hundred years, the slate of the latter half of the last century, and the polished and costly marble now so common in the great public cemeteries—may be seen in one small burying-ground, bearing mute testimony to the struggles and progress of the occupants.
It is a fact which bears striking testimony to the masterful qualities of the native American character that in the Western States, notwithstanding a vast foreign immigration, the dominant element is of the old colonial stock. The fortunes of the West are guided by emigrants and the descendants of emigrants from New England, the Middle and the border States, and while adopted citizens, nearly all of a desirable class, are in a majority in many parts of the West, most of the western men and women also, of national fame, can trace an American pedigree for several generations. There are notable exceptions to this rule, but they only illustrate the rule. This condition is due not to any inferiority on the part of the immigrant population to the average of European nationalities—for, barring Russia and some southern countries we receive the cream of European manhood—but to American heredity, to the inheritance of those endowments which qualify for leadership in a nation of freemen. The western American is more aggressive and progressive than his eastern cousin. Just as the New Englander retains many of the expressions and some of the ways which have become obsolete in Old England, so the native settler of Kansas, of Iowa, of Nebraska, and even of the nearer States of Ohio and Illinois, is more like the New Englander of half a century ago than those who have remained on the ancestral soil. He has the old Puritan love of learning, and from the humble colleges in which his more ambitious children are educated go forth the Joshuas and the Davids of our American Israel. The total yearly expenses of one of those western colleges would hardly equal the salary of the chief of a great university, but presidents of the United States are graduated there.
The western farmer reads and thinks, and perhaps in that clear western air, as he ploughs the sod of the prairie, and reaps the harvest on his rude domain, he sees farther into the future than his brother of the East. Right or wrong in his political views, he is at any rate honest in them, and if his convictions seem to partake sometimes of the fervor of the crusader, it should not be forgotten that the spirit of Ossawattomie Brown yet lives in the land which he saved for freedom; it should not be forgotten that nearly every western homestead has its grave in the battlefields of the war which made us one people forever. Making due allowance for that good-natured raillery which is one of the spices of existence, it may be truthfully said that anyone who laughs in earnest at the West calls attention merely to his own shallow conceit. Intelligent people in the East are studying, not ridiculing the West.
The recuperative energy displayed by the Southern people has been even more wonderful and admirable than that exhibited by France after the German conquest. France was not denuded, as the South was denuded of all that represents wealth save a fertile soil and the resolution to rise from the ashes of the past. And the South has risen. I passed through North Carolina and Virginia just before the close of the war. Recently I visited the same States, and South Carolina and Georgia for the first time since the war. What a transformation! But for the genial climate the busy factories would have recalled New England, while a keen business air had taken the place of that old-time lassitude which in ante-bellum days seemed inseparable from the institution of slavery. The Southern people have all the acuteness of the Yankee, with a genuine bonhomie which brightens the most ordinary incidents of life. New conditions have called into play valuable qualities which were torpid until touched by the wand of necessity. The old families no longer regard honorable toil with aversion or disdain; on the contrary they are workers, and work is the passport to respectable recognition. The Southern whites are getting along very well with the colored people, and look on them as not only useful, but indispensable to the South. "If the negroes emigrate," said a prominent business man of Augusta, Ga., to the writer, "I want to emigrate too." And this is the prevailing sentiment. The negroes, also, are proving themselves worthy of freedom, although it is not to be expected that the effects of three centuries of slavery could be eradicated in three decades of liberty. In looking out for business rivalry New England would do well to gaze less intently across the Atlantic and more toward the Yadkin and the Savannah.
There is little reason to fear for our country. The Union has endured the severest trials, only to come forth stronger than ever from every ordeal. Grave questions are presenting themselves for solution, but who can doubt that the American people have the brain and the vigor to solve them? Anarchists make no impression here. Notwithstanding the appeals of alien agitators, Americans remain true to the traditions of the Republic. It is in this deeply implanted reverence for established institutions that the hope for the future of America rests. Before it the pestilential vapor of anarchy, borne across the Atlantic from the squirming and steaming masses of Europe, disappears like a plague before a purifying flame, and, whatever may be the outcome of the struggle, in its various forms, now going on between the upper and lower orders in the mother continent, in the United States the foundations of society are likely to remain firm and unsapped.
Winsor's "Cartier to Frontenac."
See "History of Elections in the American Colonies." Columbia College Series.
I was present at a meeting of the Rhode Island Historical Society when President (then professor) Andrews, of Brown University, reported in behalf of a committee, that it had been judged inexpedient to publish Comer's Diary. I have since had the privilege of examining the diary in the original, and can understand the grounds of objection.—H. M.
In the summer of 1883 I represented the Providence Journal at the dedication of Fort Ninigret, a spot set apart from the former Narragansett reservation in memory of the tribe which had given welcome to Roger Williams when he fled from Puritan persecution. I visited at the time the scene of the Great Swamp fight, and also the burying-ground of the latter Narragansett chiefs.
The following lines which were suggested by the occasion, may perhaps be of interest to the reader:
THE GRAVE OF NINIGRET.
A stricken pine—a weed-grown mound
On the upland's rugged crest,
Point where the hunted Indian found
At length a place of rest.
Thou withered tree, by lightning riven,
Of bark and leaf bereft,
With lifeless arms erect to heaven,
Of thee a remnant's left;
The bolt that broke thy giant pride
Yet spared the sapling green;
And tall and stately by thy side
'Twill show what thou hast been.
But of the Narragansett race
Nor kith, nor blood remains;
Save that perchance a tainted trace
May lurk in servile veins.
The mother's shriek, the warrior's yell
That rent the midnight air
When Christians made yon swamp a hell,
No longer echo there.
The cedar brake is yet alive—
But not with human tread—
Within its shade the plover thrive,
The otter makes its bed.
The red fox hath his hiding-place
Where ancient foxes ran.
How keener than the sportsman's chase
The hunt of man by man!
The Rev. John Miller, in 1695, speaks of "the wickedness and irreligion of the inhabitants, which abounds in all parts of the province, and appears in so many shapes, constituting so many sorts of sin, that I can scarce tell which to begin withal." The reverend gentleman was probably prejudiced.
"English Free Trade; Its Foundation, Growth and Decline." By Henry Mann.
John Adams, in his letter to the President of Congress, July 17, 1780, attributes the outbreak of the Revolution to Hutchinson's course in this and other matters. "He was perhaps the only man in the world," wrote Adams, "who could have brought on the controversy between Great Britain and America in the manner and at the time it was done, and involved the two countries in an enmity which must end in their everlasting separation."
Wirts' "Life of Patrick Henry," pages 64, 65.
See "The Burgoyne Ballads," by William L. Stone, from whose narrative this sketch is taken.
Stone, "The Burgoyne Ballads."
Charges were made by André himself, and echoed in Congress at a much later period by Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge, who had the custody of André, to the effect that the captors of the ill-fated British officer were corrupt, and only held him because they could profit more than by letting him go. On this point the testimony of Alexander Hamilton, who passed much time with André previous to his execution, and had full opportunity to weigh his statements, ought to be sufficient. In a letter to Colonel Sears General Hamilton thus compared the captors of André with Arnold: "This man" (Arnold), "is in every sense despicable. * * * To his conduct that of the captors of André forms a striking contrast; he tempted their integrity with the offer of his watch, his horse, and any sum of money they should name. They rejected his offers with indignation; and the gold that could seduce a man high in the esteem and confidence of his country, who had the remembrance of his past exploits, the motives of present reputation and future glory to prop his integrity, had no charms for three simple peasants, leaning only on their virtue, and a sense of duty."
Walpole is right, however, in pointing out that the unconditional surrender of the refugees by Cornwallis had an important influence in bringing the war to a close by depriving the British of American support and sympathy. "It was a virtual end of the war," he says. "Could one American, unless those shut up in New York and Charleston, even out of prudence and self-preservation, declare for England, by whose general they were so unfeelingly abandoned?"
Livingston to Dana, October 22, 1781.
A number of years ago the Hon. William M. Evarts delivered a speech before the New York Chamber of Commerce in which he congratulated that body on its patriotism "during the Revolution." Having been allowed to examine the records of the Chamber for the revolutionary period, I wrote an article which appeared over my initials in the New York Sun pointing out that the Chamber, as shown by its own records, had been ultra-loyal, instead of patriotic.—H. M.
Costumes of Colonial Times.
During the reign of terror Rochambeau was arrested at his estate near Vendome, conducted to Paris, thrown into the Conciergerie and condemned to death. When the car came to convey a number of victims to the guillotine, he was about to mount it, but the official in charge seeing it full thrust him back. "Stand back, old marshal," cried he, roughly, "your turn will come by and by." A sudden change in political affairs saved his life, and enabled him to return to his home near Vendome. Rochambeau survived the Revolution, and received the grand cross of the Legion of Honor and a marshal's pension from the great Napoleon.—From Irving's Life of Washington.
As early as 1784 Lord Sheffield said in Parliament: "It is not probable that the American States will have a very free trade in the Mediterranean. It will not be to the interest of any of the great maritime powers to protect them from the Barbary States. If they know their interests they will not encourage American carriers."
Mr. William L. Stone, the historical writer, recently published the diary of a relative who served a few months in the Revolution, and who received ten sheep for enlisting. The soldier in question appears to have been in the habit of going home whenever he felt like it to cultivate his crops.
Governor Clinton said of the militia: "They come in the morning and return in the evening, and I never know when I have them, or what my strength is."—Letter to the New York Council of Safety.
M. Barbé Marbois, who was Secretary of the French Legation in the United States during the Revolution, says of Washington: "The sound judgment of Washington, his steadiness and ability, had long since elevated him above all his rivals and far beyond the reach of envy. His enemies still labored, however, to fasten upon him, as a general, the reproach of mediocrity. It is true that the military career of this great man is not marked by any of those achievements which seem prodigious, and of which the splendor dazzles and astonishes the universe, but sublime virtues unsullied with the least stain are a species of prodigy. His conduct throughout the whole course of the war invariably attracted and deserved the veneration and confidence of his fellow-citizens. The good of his country was the sole end of his exertions, never personal glory. In war and in peace, Washington is in my eyes the most perfect model that can be offered to those who would devote themselves to the service of their country and assert the cause of liberty."
In the famous sea-fight between the American frigate United States and the British frigate Macedonian several American seamen on the British vessel, through their spokesman, John Card, who was described by one of his shipmates as being "as brave a seamen as ever trod a plank," frankly told Captain Garden their objections to fighting the American flag. The British commander savagely ordered them back to their quarters, threatening to shoot them if they again made the request. Half an hour later Jack Card was stretched out on the Macedonian's deck weltering in his blood, slain by a shot from his countrymen.—Maclay's History of the United States Navy, D. Appleton & Co.
The Constitution may still be seen in the Navy Yard at Portsmouth, N. H. The following famous poem, by Oliver Wendell Holmes, saved the grand old vessel from destruction in 1833:
"Ay, tear the tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle-shout,
And burst the cannon's roar—
The meteor of the ocean air
Shall sweep the clouds no more.
Her deck, once red with heroes' blood,
Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o'er the flood
And waves were white below,
No more shall feel the victor's tread,
Or know the conquered knee—
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
The eagle of the sea!
Oh, better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep.
And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storm
The lightning and the gale!"
From statements of witnesses on the Macedonian, in Maclay's "History of the United States Navy."
Malden, on the Detroit River, eighteen miles below the city of Detroit, is now known as Amherstburg.
"At half past two, the wind springing up, Captain Elliott was enabled to bring his vessel, the Niagara, into close action. I immediately went on board of her, when he anticipated my wish by volunteering to bring the schooners, which had been kept astern by the lightness of the wind, into close action. At forty-five minutes past two the signal was made for close action. The Niagara being very little injured I determined to pass through the enemy's line, bore up and passed ahead of their two ships and a brig, large schooner and sloop from the larboard side, at half pistol shot distance. The smaller vessels at this time having gotten within grape and canister distance, under the direction of Captain Elliott, and keeping up a well-directed fire, the two ships, a brig and a schooner, surrendered, a schooner and a sloop making a vain attempt to escape."—Perry's account of the battle.
John Kinzie was born at Quebec in 1763. After the war he went back to Chicago, and died January 6, 1828, aged 65 years.
A similar remark has been incorrectly attributed to Jackson.
More than half of Jackson's command was composed of negroes, who were principally employed with the spade, but several battalions of them were armed, and in the presence of the whole army received the thanks of General Jackson for their gallantry. On each anniversary the negro survivors of the battle always turned out in large numbers—so large, indeed, as to excite the suspicion that they were not all genuine.—Albert D. Richardson.
Espana was hanged and quartered. A writer in the New York Sun, commenting on Espana's death, said that "thus in the eighteenth century Spain repeated the barbarism perpetrated by England on William Wallace in 1305." It is unnecessary to go back to William Wallace or off the American continent for an act of barbarity similar to Espana's execution. In the same decade, one McLean, a former resident, if not a citizen of the United States, was hanged and quartered in Canada, by the sentence of a British court, on a trumped up charge of having been engaged in a treasonable conspiracy.
See Huntington's "View of South America and Mexico."
"The Spanish-American question is essentially settled. There will be no Congress upon it, and things will take their own course on that continent which cannot be otherwise than favorable to us. I have no objection to monarchy in Mexico; quite otherwise. Mr. Harvey's instructions authorize him to countenance and encourage any reasonable project for establishing it (project on the part of the Mexicans I mean), even in the person of a Spanish Infanta. But, as to putting it forward as a project, or proposition of ours, that is out of the question. Monarchy in Mexico, and monarchy in Brazil, would cure the evils of universal democracy, and prevent the drawing of the line of demarkation, which I most dread, America versus Europe. The United States naturally enough aim at this division, and cherish the democracy which leads to it. But I do not much apprehend their influence, even if I believed it. I do not altogether see any of the evidence of their activity in America. Mexico and they are too neighborly to be friends."—Canning, to the British Minister at Madrid, December 31, 1823.
"They (the United States) have aided us materially. The Congress (Verona) was broken in all its limbs before, but the President's (Monroe's) speech gives it the coup de grace. While I was hesitating in September what shape to give the protest and declaration I sounded Mr. Rush, the American Minister here, as to his powers and disposition to join in any step which we might take to prevent a hostile enterprise on the part of the European powers against Spanish America. He had not powers, but he would have taken upon himself to join with us if we would have begun by recognizing the Spanish-American States. This we could not do, and so we went on alone. But I have no doubt that his report to his government of this sounding, which he probably represented as an overture, had a great share in producing the explicit declarations of the President."—Canning to the British Minister at Madrid.
Notes on a journey in America from the coast of Virginia to the territory of Illinois, by M. Birkbeck.
It is sad to know that this patriot missionary and his admirable wife were massacred in 1847, with a number of other persons, at their mission station of Waiilatpwi by the very Indians they were educating. There is reason to believe the massacre was indirectly the result of Whitman's service to his country in rescuing Oregon from the Hudson Bay Company. The treaty of 1846 greatly irritated that powerful corporation, and this feeling inevitably spread to the Indians who depended upon the company for supplies, and who naturally sympathized with its policy of keeping the land for fur-bearing animals and savage humanity. It is unnecessary to suspect the company or the Roman Catholic missionaries attached to the company of any plot against Whitman's life. It was sufficient for the savages to know that the company hated Whitman, and that the American Protestant missionaries sought to convert them not only to Christianity, but also to industry.
The "Dorr war," however, was very real to the people of Rhode Island. About thirteen years ago the writer was present in the office of the clerk of a Rhode Island town, when an old lady entered, and told the clerk that she wanted to see the record of a deed. Upon being asked to indicate the probable date, she said it was "before the war." On inquiry by the clerk it appeared that she meant the "Dorr war."
"The Bivouac of the Dead."—O'Hara.
France and the Confederate Navy.
Life of General Robert E. Lee. D. Appleton & Co.
As one of the survivors of the massacre of November 25, 1864, at Salisbury, North Carolina, I know whereof I speak.