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LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
205. The Manufacture of Cotton; Whitney invents the Cotton Gin, 1793; Results. The year (1793) that the printing press in that enterprising log city of Cincinnati began sending out its weekly budget of news (§ 204) a great event occurred among the cotton planters at the South.
Before Washington became President attempts had been made to establish the manufacture of cotton, by hand, in the United States. Moses Brown, a Providence Quaker, wrote to Samuel Slater in England, urging him to emigrate to this country and set up a cotton-spinning mill here. He said to him, "If thou canst do this thing, I invite thee to come to Rhode Island and have the credit of introducing cotton manufacture (by water power) in America." Mr. Slater was just the man who could "do this thing," and he did it at Pawtucket, Rhode Island (1790).
Yet the manufacture of cotton did not grow rapidly because the southern states had not then found any quick method of freeing the common cotton fiber from the multitude of seeds it contains. By working a whole day a negro could only clean about a pound. This made raw cotton expensive.
In 1784 we had exported 8 bags, or about 3000 pounds, of cotton to Liverpool. It was seized by the English customhouse officers, on the ground that the United States could not have produced such a "prodigious quantity," and that the captain of the vessel must have smuggled it from some other country. In 1793 Eli Whitney, a Massachusetts teacher then living in Georgia, invented a machine which he called the "cotton gin." By using this new machine a negro could easily clean at least 300 pounds of cotton a day. This changed the whole question of cotton production and cotton manufacture in this country. The result was soon seen.
WHITNEY INVENTS THE COTTON GIN
Ten years after the machine had gone into operation (1803), we were exporting over 100,000 bags of cotton, or more than 40,000,000 pounds, and every year saw an enormous increase. The effect of Whitney's invention was equally marked here. Up to this time, and much later, the cotton yarn spun in our mills was all woven into cloth by hand in private houses. But Francis C. Lowell of Massachusetts determined to establish a cotton factory on a large scale, which could produce cloth like that made in England. He constructed the first loom operated by water power in America. He then built at Waltham, Massachusetts, the first cotton mill in the world in which the raw material, just as it came from Whitney's cotton gin, was spun into thread, woven into cloth, and printed in colors all under one roof (1814). Later, the great cotton-manufacturing city of Lowell was named in his honor.
Before this, many men in both sections of the country had deplored the holding of slaves. They had earnestly discussed how to rid the country of what was felt to be both an evil in itself and a danger to the nation. The invention of the cotton gin put a stop to this discussion in great measure; for now the Southern planters and the Northern manufacturers of cotton both found it to their interest to keep the negro in bondage, since by his labor they were rapidly growing rich.
To sum up: Whitney's great invention of 1793 did four things:
1. It stimulated the production of cotton and made it one of the leading industries of the country.
2. It increased our cotton exports enormously.
3. It caused the building of great numbers of cotton mills at the North.
4. It made a large class, both North and South, interested in maintaining slave labor.1
1 Whitney received $50,000 for his invention from South Carolina, besides something from several other southern states. Other notable American inventors of this period were: (1) Oliver Evans of Newport, Delaware, who, about 1780, invented the grain elevator, and made such improvements in milling that he "effected a revolution in the manufacture of flour." In 1803 he constructed the first steam dredge for deepening the channels of rivers. (2) Jacob Perkins of Newburyport, Massachusetts, invented (1790) the first practical nail machine; it was capable of cutting out two hundred thousand nails a day. Formerly, all nails
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
206. The Whisky Rebellion; Treaty with Spain. During Washington's second term of office, the government, finding that it needed more money, imposed (1794) a heavy duty or tax on the manufacture of whisky. The whisky producers in western Pennsylvania refused to pay the duty, tarred and feathered one officer sent to collect it, and flogged a second one with beech rods. Next, they took up arms to resist the law.
Washington sent an army of 15,000 men, mostly Pennsylvanians, to teach them how to behave. When the whisky distillers and their friends caught sight of the muskets, they prudently dispersed. They saw that if any shooting was to be done, the President could do a good deal more than they could.
The following year (1795) the United States made a very important treaty with Spain. It secured the right to the southwestern states to send their corn and pork to the Spanish port of New Orleans and ship it abroad. The treaty also recognized the right of the United States to territory west of Georgia, which Spain had claimed as part of her possessions. (Map, p. 172.)
207. Jay's Treaty with England (1795). The treaty of peace with Great Britain, made in 1783 (§ 191), had not been satisfactorily carried out by either party. We had promised to pay certain debts due to British subjects, and they complained that we did not keep our word. On the other hand, England persisted in holding
were made by hand. Later, he invented a greatly improved machine for "calico printing." (3) Asa Whittemore of Cambridge, Massachusetts, invented (1797) a machine for making wire cards for carding wool, "which operated, and still continues to operate, as if it had a soul." On later American inventions See §§ 220, 252, 284.
forts at Detroit and elsewhere along our northern frontier, though she had agreed to give them up to us. The English also interfered with our trade with France. Chief Justice Jay (§ 200) went to England and obtained anew treaty (1795). It did not satisfy the people, who thought that the English were getting the best of the bargain; but the forts were given up to us. Washington signed the treaty because he believed that we could not then demand anything better.
Certain newspapers attacked him and Jay in the most violent manner, and Washington, worn out with their abuse, declared that "he would rather be in his grave than in the presidency." The majority of the people, however, stood firmly by the man who had brought them through so many dangers, and Congress confirmed the treaty. When Washington retired from office he issued a farewell address in which he besought his fellow-citizens to cherish affection for each other, to cherish their love for the Union, and to "observe good faith and justice towards all nations."
He left the whole country in every way stronger and more prosperous than he had found it, and with the three new states of Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee (1791-1796) added to the Union.
208. Summary. Washington, the first President of the United States, held office for two terms (1789-1797). During that time he, with his cabinet, got the new government into practical operation, and through the wise counsel of Hamilton our national credit was solidly established. Washington's efforts prevented the nation from getting entangled in European wars at a time when our greatest need was peace. He also succeeded in making a very important treaty with Spain and another with England. Three new states had been added; Marietta and Cincinnati had taken firm root, and the vigorous life of the West had begun. Whitney's invention of the cotton gin had an immense effect on manufacturing and commerce, greatly increasing the wealth of both North and South, but unfortunately it also fastened slave labor on the country.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
JOHN ADAMS (FEDERALIST)
209. Adams' Administration (Second President, One Term, 1797-1801); the "X. Y. Z. Papers." Mr. Adams" presidency began with strong prospects of war with France. The French were enraged because we did not take sides with them in their contest with Great Britain (§ 203). They captured our merchant vessels, sold them openly in French ports, and insulted the statesmen sent by us to France to represent the United States. Finally, certain private agents of the French authorities made demands, threatening war unless we bribed them with money -- "much money" -- to keep peace. Pinckney, one of our representatives in France, indignant at such treatment, replied, "Millions for defense; not one cent for tribute."
President Adams substituted the letters X. Y. Z. for the names of the French agents, and sent a full report of the demands to Congress. The "X. Y. Z. Papers" roused the whole country, and Pinckney's defiant words were echoed throughout America, for sooner than spend a single copper in buying peace we were ready to fight at any cost. War soon broke out, and our sailors, with shouts of "Hail Columbia," the new song which every American was then singing, fought and captured several French vessels. When Napoleon Bonaparte came into power in France (1799), he speedily made peace.
210. The Alien2 and the Sedition Laws; the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions (1798-1799); Death of Washington. Several of the American newspapers were edited by foreigners, or by men who sympathized with France and were anxious to force us into a war with England. To put a stop to their constant abuse of the
1 John Adams was born in Braintree, near Boston, in 1735; died 1826. Thomas Jefferson said of him that "he was the ablest advocate and champion of independence" in the Congress of 1776. He was one of the commissioners who negotiated the treaty of peace with Great Britain at the close of the Revolution; and he was shortly after sent as minister from the United States to England. He was elected by the Federalists (§ 203) by only three electoral votes over Thomas Jefferson, the Republican (or Democratic) candidate (Adams had 71 votes, Jefferson 68). Mr. Adams used to call himself "the President of three votes." According to the law (since changed) (see the Constitution, Article 11, Paragraph 3), the candidate for President getting the largest vote next to the one elected was made Vice-President. This law gave that office to Jefferson.
2 Alien (ale'yen).
DEATH OF WASHINGTON
government, Congress, with the approval of Mr. Adams, passed (1798) the Alien and the Sedition Laws. The Alien Law gave the President the power to banish any alien or foreigner from the country whose influence he thought dangerous to our welfare. The President never enforced the law. The Sedition Law undertook to punish persons who should speak, write, or publish anything false or malicious against the President or the government of the United States. Under it several persons were heavily fined, and at least one was imprisoned.
The legislatures of Kentucky and Virginia passed resolutions (1798-1799) which denounced the Alien and Sedition Laws as dangerous, and contrary to the Constitution. They furthermore declared that should the President persist in enforcing them, the states would have the right to refuse to obey his commands. Both laws soon passed out of existence; but the idea that states might resist the national government, if they saw fit, was destined to make trouble many years later in South Carolina (§§ 267-269) and in the end it resulted in civil war (1861-1865).
During the excitement caused by these unpopular laws, Washington
New-York, December 21.
- IT is with the deepest grief that
- we announce to the public the death
- of our most distinguished fellow-citi-
- zen Lieut. General George Washing-
- The grief which we suffer on this
- truly mournful occasion, would be
- in some degree alleviated, if we pos-
- sessed abilities to do justice to the
- merits of this illustrious benefactor of
- mankind; but, conscious of our in-
- feriority, we shrink from the subli-
- mity of the subject.
- Our feelings, however, will
- not permit us to forbear observing,
- that the very disinterested and im-
- portant services rendered by George
- Washington to these United States,
- both in the Field and in the Cabinet
- have erected in the hearts of his
- countrymen, monuments of sincere
- and unbounded gratitude, which
- the smouldering hand of Time can-
- not deface; and that in every quar-
- ter of the Globe, where a free Go-
- vermment is ranked amongst the
- choicest blessings of Providence and
- virtue, morality, religion, and patrip-
- tism are respected, THE NAME of
- WASHINGTON WILL BE HELD IN
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
died at his home at Mt. Vernon (1799). The whole country united to do honor to the memory of him who was "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his fellow-citizens"; Bonaparte ordered public mourning for him in France, and Lord Bridgeport, commander of a British fleet of nearly sixty men-of-war, lying off the coast of England, testified his respect by ordering his flags to be lowered to half-mast.
211. Summary. The four chief events of Adams' presidency were (1) the excitement caused by the "X. Y. Z. Papers," followed by war on the sea with France; (2) the passage of the Alien and the Sedition Laws; (3) the Kentucky and the Virginia Resolutions; and (4) the death of Washington.