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LEWIS AND CLARK'S EXPLORATION
for their guide, they made their way across the mountains to the head waters of a stream flowing westward.
Launching their canoes (October 7, 1805) on its swift current, they floated down till they entered a far larger river. Down this they drifted, sometimes through perilous rapids, until they came at last (November 7, 1805) to its mouth. A dense fog hid everything. When it lifted, they found themselves within sight of the Pacific Ocean. The river they had descended was that which Captain Robert Gray of Boston (who first carried the American flag round the globe) entered from the Pacific, and named the Columbia (1792); he thus gave us our first claim to Oregon.
The explorers returned the next year (1806) to St. Louis. They had been absent nearly two years and a half. They had traveled, in all, over eight thousand miles, in boats, on horseback, and on foot, through a wilderness peopled only by savages. Lewis and Clark's expedition gave the people of this country their first idea of the immense extent, unlimited natural wealth, and almost fabulous wonders of the Far West.
But the most important result of the expedition was that it gave the United States a much stronger claim to the Oregon territory, which Captain Gray had entered, but which Lewis and Clark first crossed. Five years later (1811) John Jacob Astor1 of New York, then the richest man in America, built the fur-trading post of Astoria, at the mouth of the Columbia River. (Map, p. 194.)
1 Astor planned a line of fur-trading posts, extending from the Great Lakes to the Pacific, and thence to the Sandwich Islands and China. The War of 1812 put a stop to this immense undertaking. He died in 1848, leaving a property of twenty million dollars, which has since increased enormously.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
217. Effect of the French and English War on the United States; the Leopard and the Chesapeake. During all this time France and England continued at war (§ 203). Each of these nations forbade the United States to trade with the other. This in itself was disastrous to our commerce; but, as if this was not enough, England insisted on stopping our vessels on the ocean and searching them for British sailors. Unless a man could prove that he was an American by birth, the English seized him, especially if he was an able-bodied seaman, and compelled him to enter their service. In this way they had helped themselves to several thousand men, whom they forced to fight for them on board their ships of war. Finally (1807), the British man-of-war Leopard stopped the Chesapeake, one of our war vessels, at a time when the latter could make no effectual resistance, and seized four of her men, one of whom they hanged as a deserter.
218. The Embargo and the Non-Intercourse Acts. Congress passed the Embargo Act (1807) to put an end to these outrages. The Embargo forbade the sailing of any American vessel from any of our ports, -- even a fishing smack found it difficult to leave Boston to get mackerel. Congress hoped that by stopping all trade with Europe we should be able to starve France and England into treating us with respect.
But we did not starve them; our exports fell off $40,000,000 in a single year, and the loss of trade caused great distress and discontent.
At last New England grew desperate; there seemed danger of rebellion, possibly of disunion, if the Embargo Act was not repealed. Congress did repeal it, and (1809) passed an act, called the Non-Intercourse Act, which forbade the people to trade with Great Britain and France, but gave them liberty to trade with other foreign countries. But though our exports rose, yet many men who had been engaged in commerce turned their attention now to manufacturing. This was one of the important results of the Non-Intercourse Act, since many of the manufactories of the country had their beginning at that time.
219. Burr tried for Treason. Meanwhile (1807), Aaron Burr, who had been Vice President during Jefferson's first term, was tried
for treason.1 Burr had shot Alexander Hamilton (§§ 196, 200), his political opponent, in a duel. That act, hardly different from downright murder, brought him into disgrace. Later, Burr planned an enterprise for conquering Texas, which then belonged to Spain. He probably hoped to get some of the western states to join him, and to set up an independent nation in the southwest, with New Orleans for its capital; he, of course, meant to be its chief ruler. Burr's guilt was not clearly proved, and he was permitted to go free. He died in obscurity and poverty in New York.
220. "Fulton's Folly," 1807. While Burr's trial was going on, Robert Fulton, 2 who had built a boat to use under water in war, -- the "submarine" of to-day (§ 44 1), -- launched, on the Hudson, the first successful steamboat. He gave notice that he should start from New York City for Albany. Up to that date all the trade and travel on the river had been either by sailing vessels or rowboats. Men called the steamboat "Fulton's Folly." Thousands gathered at the wharf (August 17, 1807) to laugh and jeer at the expected failure of the invention.
The steamboat -- the Clermont -- was a rude affair, with uncovered paddle wheels and clumsy machinery. Men said that she was as "helpless as a log." Presently the paddles began to revolve. Then the "log" was no longer helpless. "She moves!". "She moves!" shouted the astonished crowd. Sure enough, she did
1 Treason: an attempt to overthrow the government or break up the Union by force of arms. Burr was accused of having intended to seize New Orleans by force of arms. This charge of treason was set aside by the court on the ground that the Constitution did not uphold it. (See Appendix, the Constitution, Article III, Section 3.)
2 Robert Fulton was born in Fulton, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1765. He was of Irish descent. John Fitch of Windsor, Connecticut, had invented a steamboat many years before, and tried in vain to get Benjamin Franklin to help him make it a success. In 1798 he became discouraged, and committed suicide. In his journal he left these words: "The day will come when some more powerful man will get fame and riches from my invention."
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
move; and she kept on moving against both wind and current, until, in thirty-two hours, she reached Albany.
In a few years Fulton's great invention made a complete change in modes of travel. Steamboats were put on the Ohio, the Mississippi, and the Great Lakes, and helped to open up and settle the western part of the United States. A number of years later (1819), the ship Savannah was fitted up with paddle wheels that could be propelled by steam. She started from Savannah, Georgia, and crossed the Atlantic. But nothing further was done in that direction for twenty years; then Great Britain sent out (1840) the first regular line of ocean steamers to America (§ 280). From that time to this such vessels have made trips, backward and forward across the Atlantic, with the regularity of clockwork.
221. The Importation of Slaves forbidden. The year following Fulton's triumph Congress put a stop to the 'Importation of slaves (§ 196, note I, paragraph 4) into the United States (1808). The law had the hearty support of President Jefferson. He, like Washington and most leading men of that day of the South, was a slaveholder. But, like Washington and many other influential Southerners, he hoped that the country would find some peaceful means of freeing the negroes. Jefferson, in particular, was beloved by his slaves, and would gladly have given them their liberty, if he could have clearly seen how to do it. He continued to hold them, as many other good men did, but he said, "I tremble for my country, when I reflect that God is just."
222. Summary. Jefferson was our first Democratic President. He purchased the territory of Louisiana, thereby more than doubling the area of the United States, and sent Lewis and Clark to explore the country to the Pacific. During Jefferson's administration Fulton invented the first successful steamboat and established steam navigation on the Hudson; the pirates of Tripoli and Algiers were conquered; the importation of slaves was stopped; and on account of trouble with Great Britain and France, Congress passed the Embargo and the Non-Intercourse Acts restraining our foreign trade.
JAMES MADISON (DEMOCRAT)
223. Madison's Administration (Fourth President, Two Terms, 1809-1817); Reopening of Trade with Great Britain. When Madison1 became President, Great Britain and France were actively at war, and our ships were still forbidden by Act of Congress (§ 218) to trade with either country. The President was anxious to reopen commerce with one or both. Mr. Erskine, the British minister at Washington, gave Madison to understand that England would let our vessels sail the seas unmolested, if we would promise to send our wheat, rice, cotton, fish, and other exports to her and her friends, but refuse them to her enemy, France. The agreement was made.
More than a thousand of our vessels, loaded with grain and other American products, were waiting impatiently for the President to grant them liberty to sail for Great Britain. He spoke the word, and they spread their white wings like a flock of long-imprisoned birds,
I James Madison of Virginia and Alexander Hamilton of New York were among the foremost of the distinguished statesmen who framed the Constitution and aided Washington in organizing the government. Madison not only drafted the main features of the Constitution, but offered the first ten amendments, adopted 1791.
Madison furthermore obtained the passage of the Religious Freedom Act of Virginia (originally drawn by Jefferson in 1778), 1785, by which entire religious liberty was granted, and all taxes for the support of public worship, and all religious tests for holding office in that state, were forbidden. In this great reform Virginia led every state, not excepting Rhode Island, in some respects, and set an example followed in the Constitution of the United States (see the Constitution, Article VI, Paragraph 3). Madison was born in King George County, Virginia, in 1751; died 1836.
Madison (with George Clinton of New York, Vice President) was elected President by the Republican, or Democratic, party (§ 203).
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
and flew out to sea." A great shout of joy went up from the farmers, merchants, and shipowners, for they believed that the fleet of vessels would return to fill thousands of empty pockets with welcome dollars. But England denied having authorized Mr. Erskine to make such an agreement. The result was that our trade stopped as suddenly as it began, and New England was filled with angry disappointment.
224. How Napoleon deceived us. Next, Napoleon, Emperor of the French, had a word of promise for us. He had seized and sold hundreds of our ships because we would not aid him in his war against England. He now agreed to let our commerce alone, provided we would bind ourselves not to send any of our produce to Great Britain, but would let him and his friends have what they wanted to buy. Napoleon's offer was a trick to deceive us, and to get us into trouble with England. We agreed to his terms; he did not keep his word, and the ill feeling between England and America was made still more bitter.
225. Tecumseh's Conspiracy; Battle of Tippecanoe. Meanwhile, it was discovered that Tecumseh, a famous Indian chief of Ohio, had succeeded in uniting the savage tribes of the West in a plot to drive out the white settlers. General William H. Harrison, who became President thirty years later (1841), met the Indians at Tippecanoe, in the territory of Indiana, and defeated them in a great battle (1811). (Map, p. 203.) Tecumseh was not in that battle; but he took a leading part in later ones, led by the English. Many Americans believed that England had secretly encouraged Tecumseh's plot. This belief helped to increase the desire of the majority for war with Great Britain.
226. The War of 1812; the Henry Letters; the Real Cause of the War; its Declaration. At this time a man named Henry declared that the English government in Canada had employed him to try to persuade the New England States to leave the Union and join Canada. He showed a bundle of letters in proof of the story. Madison paid Henry $50,000 for his bundle. The letters were a fraud and Henry was a rascal; but, for a time, both the President and Congress were deceived by this swindler, and our hatred of Great Britain burned hotter than ever.
HULL'S MARCH TO DETROIT
The real, final cause of the war, however, lay in the fact that England persisted in exercising her assumed "right of search" (§ 217). Her war ships stopped our merchant vessels, took American seamen out of them, and forced them, under the sting of the lash, to enter her service and fight her battles.1 Her excuse was that she seized men who were British subjects and who had deserted and entered our service. This was true in some cases, but England made no discrimination, but took any able-bodied sailor she fancied. This was an outrage that we could no longer bear; several thousand of our citizens had been kidnaped, but England refused to stop these acts of violence. For this reason Congress declared war in the summer of 1812. New England, knowing that such a war would ruin what commerce she had, was opposed to fighting; but the rest of the country thought differently, and with a hurrah for "Free Trade and Sailors' Rights"2 the war began.
227. Hull's March to Detroit; his Surrender. Our plan was to attack Canada, and, if all went well, to annex it. In expectation of the war, General William Hull had been ordered to march from Urbana, Ohio, to Detroit. Hull had served in the Revolution, and Washington spoke of him as "an officer of great merit." In order to reach Detroit he had to build two hundred miles of road through forests and swamps. It was a tremendous piece of work. Hull did
1 England denied that a British subject could become an American citizen. This was at a time when she was short of sailors in her navy, and used to send gangs of sailors ashore in England at night, with handcuffs and gags, to seize men and drag them off to fight against France.
2 By "Free Trade" we meant freedom to send our merchant ships to what ports we pleased; by "Sailors' Rights" we meant the protection of American seamen against seizure by the British.