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LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
by hundreds but by thousands of millions.1 We are sending abroad our tools, hardware, and machinery in constantly greater quantities. American reapers, mowers, sewing machines, watches, typewriters, and firearms can be found for sale in every large city in Europe.
The architectural progress of our country was marked (in 1897) by two noteworthy events. In the spring General Grant's tomb was dedicated. It stands on the banks of the Hudson in Riverside Park, New York. Over the entrance are cut the significant words of the great commander, "Let us have peace."
Other recent buildings in New York of commanding excellence are the Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History, the Public Library, the Library of Columbia University, the new Customhouse, the College of the City of New York, the Washington Arch, and the Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch.
In the autumn the magnificent Congressional Library Building in Washington was opened. It is an imposing granite structure facing the Capitol; it has room for nearly six million volumes, and is considered to be the finest building of the kind in the world.
408. "Greater New York"; Growth and Government of American Cities. On New Year's Day, 1898, New York City extended its boundary lines so as to take in Brooklyn and many other smaller places. Thus enlarged it covers an area of about 327 square miles, -- or a territory more than one fourth that of the state of Rhode Island, -- and its population, which was then rated at 4, 500,000, is now estimated at over 6,000,000. This makes New York the largest city in the world except London.
1 In 1915 our total exports, including food products, cotton, iron, steel (which had been made by a new process since 1865), copper, munitions of war, and manufactured articles, exceeded $2,768,000,000, and in 1920 it was estimated at about $7,000,000,000.
"GREATER NEW YORK"
Lack of space in lower New York called for the erection of enormously high business buildings, and the elevator made them possible. Wall Street, Broad Street, and parts of lower Broadway resemble canyons in the Rocky Mountains. There are office buildings which rise to a height of from 600 to over 700 feet and contain from forty to fifty stories. The bridges and tunnels of the city have been mentioned (§ 382). In 1917 the city completed the construction of the greatest water works in the world. They bring an abundant supply of pure water from the Catskill Mountains, more than a hundred miles distant.
The rapid growth of our cities is one of the most remarkable features in our history. When our first national census was
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LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
taken (1790) (§ 202) we had only six cities which had 8000 or more inhabitants. Philadelphia came first with 42,000 and New York next with 33,000. By the census of 1900 the total number of cities in the United States having 8000 or more inhabitants was 546. In 1790 only about three persons in a hundred lived in cities, while in 1890 nearly thirty in a hundred lived in them; by the census of 1910 the number had increased to forty-six in a hundred; now the cities embrace almost half of our whole population (see p. xl).
This change makes the good government of the United States depend very largely on the good government of our cities. If they are intelligently, honestly, and efficiently managed, all will probably go well; but if they are badly managed, all is likely to go wrong. The decision of this great question rests with those who are now voters, but it will soon rest with those who are to-day pupils in the public schools. In a few years you who are studying the history of your country will be called upon to take a hand in shaping its history. Your votes will then turn the scale, and America will be whatever you choose to make it.
REVISED STATE CONSTITUTIONS
409. Revised State Constitutions in the South and West; the Negro Vote shut out. Since 1890 seven southern states -- namely, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Virginia, and Georgia -- have adopted new or amended constitutions. These states require every voter to be able to read a section of the state constitution, or to pay a certain amount of taxes, or both.
This change practically excludes, and is intended to exclude, the great majority of the negroes from voting, and it gives the white race the entire control. In this way the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution (§ 366) has been set aside and no longer has any real effect.1
In the Far West, South Dakota amended its constitution (1898) for the purpose of giving the people of the state a more direct voice in making its laws. The amendment provided that whenever five per cent of the voters or fifty in a thousand -- should ask for the enactment of a law, the question should be decided at a special election. If, on the other hand, the same number should object to any law which the legislature had enacted, the question of retaining it must be decided in the same way.2 This method has been in operation in the republic of Switzerland for many
1 See the Constitution, in the Appendix, p. xxiii, Amendments, Article XV.
2 This power is called the right of Initiative and of Referendum; because the people initiate or originate legislation in the one case, while in the other they approve or reject the law which has been referred to them. Many states now use one or both of these methods.
Some states also use the power of Recall, by which they can remove a man holding office if, at a special election, a majority vote in favor of such action. Still another power which the people can exercise in certain states is the right to vote directly for the nomination of such candidates as they desire to put in office -- this is called the Direct Primary.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
years, but South Dakota was the first state here to make trial of it. Later (1902), Oregon adopted an amendment to its constitution similar to that of South Dakota. Since then a number of other states have adopted like measures; so, too, have a number of cities.
410. Spanish Possessions in the Sixteenth Century. It will be remembered that at the close of the sixteenth century Spaniards were the only white men who had planted permanent colonies in North America (§§ 29, 42). They, too, held the West Indies, the greater part of South America, the Philippines, and other groups of islands in the East. The King of Spain could then boast with truth "that the sun never set on his dominions."
As late almost as the beginning of the nineteenth century Spain still held the greater part of the West Indies, Mexico, Florida, and the whole vast territory between the Mississippi River and the Pacific, which is now part of the United States.
In less than twenty-five years from that time Spain had been forced to sell or had lost,1 all of her immense possessions on the mainland of North America. The only important islands she had left in the West Indies were Cuba and Porto Rico.
411. The Revolution in Cuba; War for Independence. Spain's oppressive treatment of Cuba caused great discontent, and for many years there was danger of open revolt. The southern slave states coveted the island, which is as large as Pennsylvania and is almost in sight from Key West, Florida. The United States (1845) offered Spain $100,000,000 for Cuba, but met with a flat refusal. Later, several armed expeditions tried to seize the island on behalf of the South. The American ministers to Great Britain, France, and Spain met in Belgium (1854), to discuss the Cuban question. They declared that so long as Cuba should belong to Spain it would be dangerous to our peace, and that if Spain should continue to refuse to sell us the island we should be justified in taking it by force.2
1 Napoleon forced Spain to give up the great province of Louisiana to him; in 1803 he sold it to us (§ 215); Spain felt obliged to sell us Florida, and at the same time (1819) to give up all claims to Oregon (§ 238); and Mexico freed herself from Spain by revolution.
2 Our ministers met in the city of Ostend, and their declaration is known as the Ostend Manifesto.
THE DESTRUCTION OF THE MAINE
Later (1868), a rebellion broke out in Cuba1 which lasted ten years. Then (1895) a new uprising occurred, and the Revolutionists declared themselves for "independence or death."2 This revolt in Cuba excited the people of the Spanish colony of the Philippines to declare their independence.
President Cleveland said that if the war in Cuba should go on, it must end in "the utter ruin of the island." He took the ground that rather than see this, it would be our duty to put a stop to the conflict. When President McKinley entered office the Cuban war was still raging, and an enormous amount of American property on the island had been destroyed.
On the one hand, the Revolutionists hanged those farmers who would not take up arms and join them; on the other, the commander of the Spanish army drove scores of thousands of the people into the towns and shut them up there to die of pestilence or starvation.
412. The Destruction of the Maine; Report of the Court of Inquiry. While this horrible state of things was going on, an event occurred which suddenly changed everything. The United States had sent Captain Sigsbee in command of the battle ship Maine to pay a friendly visit to Havana. While lying in the harbor of that port the Maine was destroyed by an explosion (1898). Two of her officers and the greater part of her crew were killed. The terrible news acted like an electric shock on the people of our country.
The United States appointed a naval Court of Inquiry to make an investigation. The court reported that, in their opinion, "the Maine was destroyed by the explosion of a submarine mine," but they accused no one of having been guilty of the act. The Spanish government expressed its regret at the "lamentable incident"
1 The population of Cuba consisted of (1) a small number of native Spaniards, who held nearly every position of power and trust; (2) the other white inhabitants, who constituted the great bulk of the people; (3) mulattoes, free negroes, and Chinamen.
2 The progress of the rebellion developed four parties: (1) the Revolutionists, who demanded absolute separation from Spain; (2) those who asked for "home rule" -- that is, the management of all local affairs -- without separation from Spain; (3) the Spanish party in power, who opposed any change whatever; (4) a very large number of Cuban farmers who wished to remain neutral: all they asked was to be let alone and allowed to cultivate their farms in peace; but neither the Revolutionists nor the Spanish military authorities would permit this.