We must remember that travelling was no such simple and easy matter then as it is now. As the planters in Virginia usually lived on the banks of one of the many rivers, the simplest method of travel was by boat, up or down stream. There were cross-country roads, but these at best were rough, and sometimes full of roots and stumps. Often they were nothing more than forest paths. In trying to follow such roads the traveler at times lost his way and occasionally had to spend a night in the woods. But with even such makeshifts for roads, the planter had his lumbering old coach to which, on state occasions, he harnessed six horses and drove in great style.
After his marriage with Mrs. Custis, who had large property of her own, Washington became a man of much wealth. He was at one time one of the largest landholders in America. As a manager of all this property, he had much to do. Let us delay our story a little to get a glimpse of the life led by him and other Virginia planters of his time.
After the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, he was sent to France to secure aid for the American cause. The French people gave him a cordial reception. There were feasts and parades in his honor, crowds followed him on the streets, and his pictures were everywhere displayed.
When the kite rose high into the air, Franklin watched intently to see what might follow. After a while the fibres of the hempen string began to move, and then, putting his knuckles near the key, Franklin drew forth sparks of electricity. He was delighted, for he had proved that the lightning in the clouds was the same thing as the electricity that men of science could make with machines.
It was a great discovery and made Benjamin Franklin famous. From some of the leading universities of Europe he received the title of Doctor, and he was now recognized as one of the great men of the world.
The next day, which was Sunday, they reached Philadelphia, and young Franklin, poorly clad and travel-soiled, with only a little money in his pocket, was making his way alone through the streets of Philadelphia. But he was cheerful and full of hope. His health was strong, and he was hungry for his breakfast. Going to a baker's shop he bought three large rolls, and, his pockets being already stuffed with shirts and stockings, he tucked one roll under each arm, and walked up Market Street eating the third. His ludicrous appearance afforded much amusement to a certain Deborah Read, who stood at the door of her father's house as he passed by. Little did she think that this strange-looking fellow would one day become the greatest man in Philadelphia and even in Pennsylvania. Little did she think that one day, not many years after that morning she would become his wife. Both these things came to pass.
American independence, the beginnings of which we have just been considering, was accomplished after a long struggle. Many brave men fought on the battle-field, and many who never shouldered a musket or drew a sword exerted a powerful influence for the good of the patriot cause. One of these men was Benjamin Franklin.
He was born in Boston in 1706, the fifteenth child in a family of seventeen children. His father was a candle-maker and soap-boiler. Intending to make a clergyman of Benjamin, he sent him, at eight years of age, to a grammar-school, with the purpose of fitting him for college. The boy made rapid progress, but before the end of his first school-year his father took him out on account of the expense, and put him into a school where he would learn more practical subjects, such as writing and arithmetic. The last study proved very difficult for him.
The 'Boston Tea Party'
Before the middle of August an army of 15,000 troops, under General Merritt, was sent to Manila to unite with the fleet under Admiral Dewey in capturing the city. Manila surrendered on August 13th.
Our Secretary of the Navy, Mr. Long, lost no time in sending a despatch to Commodore Dewey,—who was in command of an American fleet of six war-vessels at Hong-Kong,—directing him to proceed at once to the Philippine Islands and capture or destroy the Spanish fleet stationed there.
Two days later Commodore Dewey's fleet was steaming southward toward Manila Bay, in search of the Spanish squadron of ten war-vessels and two torpedo-boats. It was extremely important that these ships of war should be captured or destroyed before they could make their way to our Pacific coast and attack American cities
On the night of February 15, 1898, one of our battle-ships, the Maine, was blown up in the harbor of Havana, and 266 of our sailors were killed. Many believed that this awful deed was the work of Spanish officials; and this conviction deepened when a careful investigation was made by a court of naval inquiry. In all parts of this country the excitement of the people increased until they were ready to go to war with Spain if she would not change her policy toward Cuba.
But Spain was so stubborn that President McKinley, after trying in every possible way to prevent hostilities, was obliged to say in a message that "the war in Cuba must stop"; and on April 25, 1898, Congress took the momentous step of declaring war.
General R. E. Lee
The McLean House in Appomattox, Virginia is within the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. Then owned by Wilmer McLean and his wife Virginia, the house near the end of the American Civil War served as the location of the surrender of the Confederate army of Robert E. Lee on April 9, 1865, after a nearby battle. [Wikipedia]
While suffering from a severe sick headache, General Grant received a note from Lee saying that the latter was now willing to consider terms of surrender. It was a remarkable occasion when the two eminent generals met on that Sunday morning, in what is known as the McLean house, standing in the little village of Appomattox Court House. Grant writes in his "Personal Memoirs": "I was without a sword, as I usually was when on horseback on the field, and wore a soldier's blouse for a coat, with the shoulder-straps of my `rank` to indicate to the army who I was.... General Lee was dressed in a full uniform which was entirely new, and was wearing a sword of considerable value—very likely the sword which had been presented by the State of Virginia.... In my rough travelling suit, the uniform of a private with the straps of a lieutenant-general, I must have contrasted very strangely with a man so handsomely dressed, six feet high and of faultless form.
With the news that the Southern troops had fired upon the flag at Fort Sumter, Grant's patriotism was aroused. Without delay he rejoined the army and at once took an active part in the preparations for war. First as colonel and then as brigadier-general, he led his troops. At last he had found a field of action in which he quickly developed his powers as a leader.
Slaves on a cotton plantation
But the war was not without its good results also. One of these, embodied later in the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, set free forever all the slaves in the Union; and another swept away for all time the evils of State rights, nullification, and secession. Webster's idea that the Union was supreme over the States had now become a fact which could never again be a subject of dispute. The Union was "one and inseparable."
Map of the United States showing the Southern Confederacy, the Slave States that did not Secede, and the Territories.
Lincoln studying in bed by candlelight
Telegraph and Railroad
Inventor of the Electric Telegraph
In a short time he had worked out on paper the whole scheme of transmitting thought over long distances by means of electricity. And now began twelve toilsome years of struggle to devise machinery for his invention. To provide for his three motherless children, Morse had to devote to painting much time that he otherwise would have spent in perfecting the mechanical appliances for his telegraph. His progress therefore was slow and painful, but he persistently continued in the midst of discouraging conditions.
Marshfield—Home of Daniel Webste
Jackson at the battle of New Orleans
The British army consisted of 12,000 veterans fresh from victories over the great Napoleon. Naturally enough they despised the American backwoodsmen. Their confidence seemed reasonable, for they numbered twice as many as the Americans.
On January 8, 1815, the British made a vigorous assault on the American lines. But they were mowed down with such terrible slaughter that at the end of twenty-five minutes, they were forced to retreat with a loss of 2,600 men in killed and wounded. The Americans lost only twenty-one. The resolute courage and unwearied action of "Old Hickory," as Jackson was fondly called by his men, had won a signal victory. Through his military reputation Jackson soon became very popular. His honesty and patriotism took a strong hold on the people, and in due time he was elected President of the United States.
A Spinning Wheel
Andrew Jackson [1767-1845] the sixth President of the United States
Fulton returned in 1806 to America, where, with money furnished by his friend Livingston, he began to construct another steamboat which he called the Clermont, after the name of Livingston's home on the Hudson. This boat was 130 feet long and 18 feet wide, with a mast and a sail, and on each side a wheel 15 feet in diameter, fully exposed to view.
One morning in August, 1807, a throng of expectant people gathered on the banks of the North River at New York, to see the trial of the Clermont. Everybody was looking for failure. People had all along spoken of Fulton as a crack-brained dreamer, and had called the Clermont "Fulton's Folly." "Of course the thing would not move." "That any man with common-sense might know," they said. So while Fulton was waiting to give the signal to start, these wiseacres were getting ready to jest at his failure.
Finally, at the signal, the Clermont moved slowly, and then stood perfectly still. "Just what I have been saying," said one onlooker with emphasis. "I knew the boat would not go," said another. "Such a thing is impossible," said a third. But they spoke too soon, for after a little adjustment of the machinery, the Clermont steamed proudly up the Hudson.
A Flat Boat
Another illustration of his [Robert Fulton] inventive gift belongs to his boyhood days. He and one of his playmates used to go out fishing in a flat boat which they propelled by the use of long poles. Getting tired of this method of navigation, Robert made two crude paddle-wheels, one for each side of the boat, connecting them by a sort of double crank, which the boys united in turning. They could then easily propel the boat in their fishing trips to various parts of the lake, and keenly enjoyed this novel and easy way of going a-fishing.
A Pack Horse
Robert Fulton [1765-1815]
Robert Fulton was born of poor parents in 1765, in Little Britain, Pa. His father having died when the boy was only three years old, his mother took charge of his education. She taught him herself until he was eight and then sent him to school. But he had no liking for books, and made slow progress. Drawing and mechanical devices absorbed his interest, and nothing gave him greater delight than to visit the shops of mechanics and there with his own hands to work out his new ideas.
Map of Louisiana Purchase; also United States in 1803.
At twenty-nine years of age he married a beautiful young widow of twenty-three. After the wedding festivities, he and his bride started out in a four-horse carriage to drive to his home, Monticello, more than 100 miles away. It was in the month of January, and a heavy snow-storm overtook them, compelling them to abandon the carriage and continue the journey over the rough mountain roads on horseback.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Through the achievements of early pioneers and settlers, of whom Daniel Boone is the type, the region lying between the Alleghany Mountains and the Mississippi River came into the possession of the United States. In a very different way did the territory lying between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains become a part of the national domain. It was acquired not by exploration or settlement, but by purchase, and the man most intimately associated with this purchase was Thomas Jefferson.
A Hand Corn Mill
Daniel Boone in his Cabin
Indian Costume (Male)
Indian Costume (Female)
One of the most noted of these pioneers was Daniel Boone. He was born in Bucks County, Pa., in 1735. Caring little for books, he spent most of his time in hunting and fishing. The woods were his special delight, and naturally he became an expert rifleman.
The story is told that when a small boy he wandered one day into the forest some distance from home, and built himself a rough shelter of logs. There he would spend days at a time with only his rifle and game for company. The rifle served to bring down the game, and this he cooked over a fire of logs. A prince might have envied his dreamless slumber as he lay on a bed of leaves with the skin of a wild animal for covering. This free, wild life trained him for his future career as a fearless hunter and woodsman.
Marion's Brigade" of farmers and hunters seldom numbered more than seventy, and often less than twenty. With this very small force he annoyed the British beyond measure by rescuing prisoners and by capturing supply-trains, foraging parties, and outposts. One day a scout brought in the report that a party of ninety British with 200 prisoners were on the march for Charleston. Waiting for the darkness to conceal his movements, Marion with thirty men sallied out, swooped down upon the British camp, captured, the entire force, and rescued all the American prisoners.
It was the custom of Marion's men when hard pressed by a superior force to scatter, each one for himself, and, dashing headlong into the dense, dark swamps, to meet again at the well-known hiding-place. Even while the British were in search of them they sometimes darted out just as suddenly as they had disappeared, and surprised another British party near at hand. Well did Marion deserve the name of "Swamp Fox," given him by the British.
When the British began to swarm into South Carolina he raised and drilled a company of his neighbors and friends known as "Marion's Brigade." These men, without uniforms, without tents, and without pay, were among the bravest and best of the Revolutionary soldiers. Old saws beaten at the country forge furnished them with sabres, and pewter mugs and dishes supplied material for bullets. The diet of these men was simple. Marion, their leader, usually[Pg 218] ate hominy and potatoes, and drank water flavored with a little vinegar.
General Cornwallis, in command of the British army in the South, detached Tarleton to march against Morgan.[Pg 215] Early on the morning of January 17, 1781, after a hard night march, Tarleton, over-confident of success, attacked Morgan at Cowpens. But the Americans repelled the attack with vigor and won a brilliant victory. The British lost 230 killed and wounded and 600 prisoners, almost their entire force.
Nathaniel Greene was born in Warwick, R. I., in 1742. His father, a Quaker preacher on Sundays and a blacksmith and miller on week days, brought up his son in the strictest Quaker principles, and trained him to work in the field, in the mill, and at the forge. Nathaniel was robust and athletic, a leader in outdoor sports. From an early age he was studious in his habits, and in his manhood, when the troubles with England seemed to threaten war, he eagerly turned his attention to the study of military tactics.
After serving two terms as President with great success he again retired in 1797 to private life at Mount Vernon. Here he died on December 14, 1799, at the age of sixty-seven, loved and honored by the American peop
It was a desperate undertaking. There were 10,000 men, and the width of the river at the point of crossing was nearly a mile. It would seem hardly possible that such a movement could, in a single night, be made without discovery by the British troops, who were lying in camp but a short distance away. The night must have been a long and anxious one for Washington, who stayed at his post of duty on the Long Island shore until the last boat of the retreating army had pushed off. The escape was a brilliant achievement and saved the American cause.
Assala snake swallowing a bird whole
Bicolor Sea Snake
Checkerboard and Viper-colored Swim Snake