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Title: The Jeffersonians, 1801-1829 - Voices from America's Past
Author: Morris, Richard B., Woodress, James
Language: English
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                       VOICES FROM AMERICA’S PAST

                           THE JEFFERSONIANS

  Edited by
      Richard B. Morris
      Gouverneur Morris Professor of History
      Columbia University
      New York, New York

      James Woodress
      Chairman, Department of English
      San Fernando Valley State College
      Northridge, California

                       WEBSTER PUBLISHING COMPANY
                     ST. LOUIS    ATLANTA    DALLAS

  _The Beginnings of America 1607-1763_
  _The Times That Tried Men’s Souls 1770-1783_
  _The Age of Washington 1783-1801_
  _The Jeffersonians 1801-1829_
  _Jacksonian Democracy 1829-1848_
  _The Westward Movement 1832-1889_
  _A House Divided: The Civil War 1850-1865_
  (_Other titles in preparation_)

  Copyright ©, 1961, by Webster Publishing Company
  Printed in the United States of America
  All rights reserved

                           TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface                                                                v
                I Jefferson’s Administration, 1801-1809

The Election and Inauguration                                          1
    Margaret Bayard Smith Describes the Election and Inauguration      2
    Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address                                4

Burr Kills Hamilton                                                    7
    David Hosack Describes Hamilton’s Last Hours                       7

Marbury vs. Madison                                                   10
    Excerpts from John Marshall’s Decision                            10

The Louisiana Purchase                                                12
    Jefferson Writes to Robert Livingston                             13
    The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Lewis’ Journal                    14

The Embargo Act                                                       18
    Washington Irving Satirizes the Embargo Act                       19
                 II Madison’s Administration, 1809-1817

Madison’s Inauguration                                                22
    Mrs. Smith’s Report                                               22

The War of 1812                                                       24
    The _Constitution_ Defeats the _Guerrière_: Isaac Hull            25
    Commodore Perry Wins a Victory on Lake Erie: Oliver Perry         27
    The British Burn Washington: Dolly Madison                        28
    The British Burn Washington: George Gleig                         30
    The Battle of New Orleans: George Gleig                           32
    The Battle of New Orleans: Andrew Jackson                         35
              III James Monroe’s Administration, 1817-1825

Early Days in the Mississippi Valley                                  37
    A Husking Bee in Ohio: William Cooper Howells                     38
    Religion in Tennessee: Lorenzo Dow                                40
    Davy Crockett Runs for Office                                     44
    Early Days in Illinois: Morris Birkbeck                           47

Ominous Loomings: The Missouri Compromise, 1820                       50
    Representative Arthur Livermore Argues Against Extending Slavery  50
    Senator James Barbour Defends Slavery                             52
    Representative James Stevens Argues for the Compromise            53

The Monroe Doctrine                                                   54
    Excerpts from the Monroe Doctrine                                 54
                          IV John Quincy Adams

Lighthouses in the Sky                                                56
    Excerpts from Adams’ First Message to Congress                    56

The selections by Margaret Bayard Smith, from _Forty Years of Washington
Society_, edited by Gaillard Hunt, which begin on pages 2 and 22, were
reprinted through the courtesy of Charles Scribner’s Sons.

The picture on the cover and the picture on page 1, of the Lewis and
Clark Expedition, were reprinted through the courtesy of the John
Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company of Boston, Massachusetts. The
picture on page 22, of the _Constitution_ and the _Guerrière_, was
reprinted through the courtesy of the New York Public Library. The
picture of a political speaker on the Fourth of July on page 37 and the
picture of John Quincy Adams on page 56 were reprinted through the
courtesy of the Library of Congress.


The early part of the last century was an exciting time to live in
America. The signers of the Declaration of Independence and the framers
of the Constitution, mostly old men by now, saw that their experiment in
republican government had turned out to be a success. The nation was
flourishing in these years like a healthy adolescent. There were growing
pains, to be sure, but no one doubted now that the youngster would reach
manhood. The question was: What is he going to be like?

The party battles of John Adams’ administration left the Federalist
Party in ruins, and Thomas Jefferson succeeded to the presidency with an
overwhelming popular mandate. During his first term, Jefferson increased
his popularity through buying from France the enormous Louisiana
Territory which doubled the size of the United States. By the time the
Lewis and Clark Expedition returned from exploring the new land, people
began to realize the immense possibilities that the Louisiana Purchase
held for the future of the United States.

Jefferson’s second term was beset by foreign problems that culminated
eventually in the War of 1812, during James Madison’s administration.
Despite George Washington’s advice in his Farewell Address to stay out
of entangling foreign alliances, America could not avoid being affected
by events abroad. She was caught between the hammer and the anvil during
Napoleon’s wars with the rest of Europe. The War of 1812 settled no
issues but, soon afterward, the main Anglo-American problems left over
from the Revolution were adjusted. Napoleon’s downfall at Waterloo
removed France as an obstacle to American development.

The period known as the “Era of Good Feeling” followed the War of 1812.
During the two terms of James Monroe, internal matters were the main
concern of the country: tariffs, banking, domestic improvements, the
admission of new states into the Union. With the Monroe Doctrine, which
warned Europe to respect the independence of Latin America, the United
States began to emerge as a power in the world. Even more important was
the appearance of storm warnings heralding the eventual coming of the
Civil War. The Missouri Compromise, which drew a line between slave and
free territory, established an uneasy truce between the North and the

By the time John Quincy Adams became the sixth President, sectionalism
was rapidly developing, and the balance of power between the East and
the West, the industrial North and the agricultural South, was beginning
to shift. The two-party system, which had largely disappeared with the
collapse of the Federalists in 1800, was revived. In 1828 the long
monopoly that Virginia and Massachusetts had enjoyed in supplying
American Presidents came to an end with the election of Andrew Jackson
of Tennessee and a new era began.

The selections in this booklet reflect most of the significant events of
these years from 1801 to 1829. The Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and
Clark Expedition, the War of 1812, the Missouri Compromise, all are
represented. In addition we have included accounts of some small events
and background descriptions which give the flavor of the age. A proper
notion of this period requires not only a knowledge of the major issues,
such as understanding the Embargo Act or the significance of the
_Marbury_ vs. _Madison_ decision, but also an appreciation of the
quality of the experience of being an American in the first quarter of
the nineteenth century. Hence we have used such documents as Lorenzo
Dow’s diary describing the life of a frontier preacher and Morris
Birkbeck’s account of settling in Illinois.

In editing the manuscripts in this booklet, we have followed the
practice of modernizing punctuation, capitalization, and spelling only
when necessary to make the selections clear. We have silently corrected
misspelled words and typographical errors. Wherever possible we have
used complete selections, but occasionally space limitations have made
necessary cuts in the original documents. Such cuts are indicated by
spaced periods. In general, the selections appear as the authors wrote

                                                       Richard B. Morris
                                                          James Woodress

                 Jefferson’s Administration, 1801-1809

             [Illustration: The Lewis and Clark expedition]

                     The Election and Inauguration

On election day in 1800, Thomas Jefferson won a clear victory over John
Adams but almost did not became President. The Constitution required
that presidential electors cast two ballots; the winner became President
and the runner-up became Vice-President. Jefferson’s running mate, Aaron
Burr, who had been nominated for Vice-President, received 73 electoral
votes, the same number as Jefferson. This strange situation occurred
because the Constitutional Convention had not anticipated the rise of
party politics. When John Adams had defeated Jefferson in 1796,
Jefferson, as the runner-up, was elected Vice-President. If parties had
not developed by 1800, Adams, as Jefferson’s opponent, would surely have
become Vice-President. But because parties had arisen, all of
Jefferson’s electors gave Burr their second vote. (A repetition of this
kind of deadlock was avoided for future elections by the Twelfth

The Constitution stated that if the two leading candidates were tied,
the election should be decided by the House of Representatives. The
trouble was that in 1800 the House was controlled by the Federalists and
not by Jefferson’s party. The Federalists nearly elected Burr President
because they disliked him less than they disliked Jefferson.

Margaret Bayard Smith Describes the Election and Inauguration

Fortunately for the country, Federalist Alexander Hamilton, who knew
Burr was unfit to be President, opposed his party’s plan to defeat
Jefferson. But while this crucial decision was being made, the nation
waited breathlessly. The excitement in Washington is recorded in the
following selection from the notebook of Margaret Bayard Smith, wife of
the editor of the _National Intelligencer_.

  It was an awful crisis. The people, who with such an overwhelming
  majority had declared their will, would never peaceably have allowed
  the man of their choice to be set aside and the individual they had
  chosen as Vice-President to be put in his place. A civil war must have
  taken place, to be terminated in all human probability by a rupture of
  the Union. Such consequences were at least calculated on and excited a
  deep and inflammatory interest. Crowds of anxious spirits from the
  adjacent county and cities thronged to the seat of government and hung
  like a thunder cloud over the Capitol, their indignation ready to
  burst on any individual who might be designated as President in
  opposition to the people’s known choice. The citizens of Baltimore,
  who from their proximity were the first apprised of this daring
  design, were with difficulty restrained from rushing on with an armed
  force, to prevent—or if they could not prevent, to avenge this
  violation of the people’s will and in their own vehement language to
  hurl the usurper from his seat.

  Mr. Jefferson, then President of the Senate, sitting in the midst of
  these _conspirators_, as they were then called, unavoidably hearing
  their loudly whispered designs, witnessing their gloomy and restless
  machinations, aware of the dreadful consequences which must follow
  their meditated designs, preserved through this trying period the most
  unclouded serenity, the most perfect equanimity. A spectator who
  watched his countenance would never have surmised that he had any
  personal interest in the impending event. Calm and self-possessed, he
  retained his seat in the midst of the angry and stormy, though
  half-smothered passions that were struggling around him, and by this
  dignified tranquility repressed any open violence. Though insufficient
  to prevent whispered menaces and insults, to these, however, he turned
  a deaf ear and resolutely maintained a placidity which baffled the
  designs of his enemies.

  The crisis was at hand. The two bodies of Congress met, the Senators
  as witnesses, the Representatives as electors. The question on which
  hung peace or war, nay, the union of the states was to be decided.
  What an awful responsibility was attached to every vote given on that
  occasion. The sitting was held with closed doors. It lasted the whole
  day, the whole night. Not an individual left that solemn assembly; the
  necessary refreshment they required was taken in rooms adjoining the
  Hall. They were not like the Roman conclave legally and forcibly
  confined; the restriction was self-imposed from the deep-felt
  necessity of avoiding any extrinsic or external influence. Beds, as
  well as food, were sent for the accommodation of those whom age or
  debility disabled from enduring such a long-protracted sitting. The
  balloting took place every hour—in the interval men ate, drank, slept
  or pondered over the result of the last ballot, compared ideas and
  persuasions to change votes, or gloomily anticipated the consequences,
  let the result be what it would.

  With what an intense interest did every individual watch each
  successive examination of the ballot-box; how breathlessly did they
  listen to the counting of the votes! Every hour a messenger brought to
  the editor of the _National Intelligencer_ the result of the ballot.
  That night I never lay down or closed my eyes. As the hour drew near
  its close, my heart would almost audibly beat, and I was seized with a
  tremour that almost disabled me from opening the door for the expected

  For more than thirty hours the struggle was maintained, but finding
  the Republican phalanx impenetrable, not to be shaken in their
  purpose, every effort proving unavailing, the Senator from Delaware
  [_James A. Bayard—actually a Representative_], the withdrawal of whose
  vote would determine the issue, took his part, gave up his party, for
  his country, and threw into the box a blank ballot, thus leaving to
  the Republicans a majority. Mr. Jefferson was declared duly elected.
  The assembled crowds, without the Capitol, rent the air with their
  acclamations and gratulations, and the conspirators, as they were
  called, hurried to their lodgings under strong apprehensions of
  suffering from the just indignation of their fellow citizens.

  The dark and threatening cloud which had hung over the political
  horizon rolled harmlessly away, and the sunshine of prosperity and
  gladness broke forth and ever since, with the exception of a few
  passing clouds, has continued to shine on our happy country.

Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address

As the author of the Declaration of Independence and many memorable
state papers, Thomas Jefferson was, with Abraham Lincoln, one of our two
greatest presidential writers. The following speech, which he delivered
on March 4, 1801, is an eloquent statement of democratic principles.
Jefferson approached the office of President with humility and a
conciliatory attitude towards his opponents. The simplicity and
directness of his prose contrast greatly with the flowery and lengthy
eloquence of most speakers in his day.

  Friends and Fellow Citizens:

  Called upon to undertake the duties of the first executive office of
  our country, I avail myself of the presence of that portion of my
  fellow citizens which is here assembled to express my grateful thanks
  for the favor with which they have been pleased to look towards me, to
  declare a sincere consciousness that the task is above my talents and
  that I approach it with those anxious and awful presentiments which
  the greatness of the charge and the weakness of my powers so justly

  A rising nation spread over a wide and fruitful land, traversing all
  the seas with the rich productions of their industry, engaged in
  commerce with nations who feel power and forget right, advancing
  rapidly to destinies beyond the reach of mortal eye; when I
  contemplate these transcendent objects and see the honor, the
  happiness, and the hopes of this beloved country committed to the
  issue and the auspices of this day, I shrink from the contemplation
  and humble myself before the magnitude of the undertaking.

  Utterly indeed should I despair, did not the presence of many whom I
  here see remind me that in the other high authorities provided by our
  Constitution, I shall find resources of wisdom, of virtue, and of
  zeal, on which to rely under all difficulties.

  To you then, gentlemen, who are charged with the sovereign functions
  of legislation and to those associated with you, I look with
  encouragement for that guidance and support which may enable us to
  steer with safety the vessel in which we are all embarked amidst the
  conflicting elements of a troubled sea.

  During the contest of opinion through which we have passed, the
  animation of discussions and of exertions, has sometimes worn an
  aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely and to
  speak and to write what they think.

  But this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced
  according to the rules of the Constitution, all will of course arrange
  themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for
  the common good. All too will bear in mind this sacred principle, that
  though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will,
  to be rightful, must be reasonable: that the minority possess their
  equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be

  Let us then, fellow citizens, unite with one heart and one mind; let
  us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection, without
  which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things.

  And let us reflect that having banished from our land that religious
  intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered we have yet
  gained little, if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic,
  as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecution.

  During the throes and convulsions of the ancient world, during the
  agonized spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter
  his long lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the
  billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that this
  should be more felt and feared by some, and less by others, and should
  divide opinions as to measures of safety.

  But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We
  have called, by different names, brethren of the same principle. We
  are all republicans: we are all federalists.

  If there be any among us who wish to dissolve this union, or to change
  its republican form, let them stand undisturbed, as monuments of the
  safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is
  left free to combat it.

  I know indeed that some honest men have feared that a republican
  government cannot be strong; that this government is not strong
  enough. But would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful
  experiment abandon a government which has so far kept us free and
  firm, on the theoretic and visionary fear that this government, the
  world’s best hope may, by possibility, want energy to preserve itself?

  I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest government
  on earth.

  I believe it the only one where every man, at the call of the law,
  would fly to the standard of the law; would meet invasions of public
  order, as his own personal concern.

  Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of
  himself. Can he then be trusted with the government of others? Or have
  we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer
  this question.

  Let us then pursue with courage and confidence our own federal and
  republican principles, our attachment to union and representative

  Kindly separated by nature, and a wide ocean, from the exterminating
  havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high-minded to endure the
  degradations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room
  enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth
  generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal right, to the use of
  our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor
  and confidence from our fellow citizens resulting not from birth, but
  from our actions and their sense of them, enlightened by a benign
  religion, professed indeed and practiced in various forms, yet all of
  them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love
  of man, acknowledging and adoring an overruling providence, which by
  all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man
  here and his greater happiness hereafter.

  With all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy
  and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow citizens, a wise
  and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one
  another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own
  pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the
  mouth of labor the bread it has earned.

  This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the
  circle of our felicities.

                          Burr Kills Hamilton

The feud between Hamilton and Burr preceded the election of 1800, in
which Hamilton opposed Burr’s election to the presidency. The rivalry
between these two New Yorkers actually had begun during the Revolution
and had continued throughout their political careers, but it reached a
special intensity in 1800. As Vice-President under Jefferson, Burr had
reached the peak of his career, but Jefferson, realizing that Burr
almost had schemed his way into the presidency, undermined his influence
in the Republican Party. In 1804, Hamilton again thwarted Burr’s
ambitions by helping to defeat him for governor of New York. The duel
soon followed.

Hamilton had no intention of firing at Burr and seems to have expected
to die, for he made his will and arranged his affairs before crossing
the Hudson River to New Jersey for the fatal duel on July 11, 1804. Burr
had great charm and undenied ability, but it might have been better for
him if he had died that day instead of Hamilton. He was an unscrupulous
intriguer, and his subsequent career tarnished his reputation. In 1805,
he tried to establish a political empire in the Mississippi Valley but
he was captured and tried for treason. Though he was acquitted, he had
to spend the next four years in exile. He later returned to an obscure
law practice in New York.

David Hosack Describes Hamilton’s Last Hours

In the selection that follows, David Hosack, the physician who attended
Hamilton at the duel, describes the scene immediately after Burr fired
the fatal shot. He writes to William Coleman, editor of the New York
_Post_, the paper Hamilton had founded.

  To comply with your request is a painful task; but I will repress my
  feelings while I endeavor to furnish you with an enumeration of such
  particulars relative to the melancholy end of our beloved friend
  Hamilton, as dwell most forcibly on my recollection.

  When called to him, upon his receiving the fatal wound, I found him
  half sitting on the ground, supported in the arms of Mr. Pendleton.
  His countenance of death I shall never forget. He had at that instant
  just strength to say, “This is a mortal wound, Doctor”; when he sunk
  away, and became to all appearance lifeless. I immediately stripped up
  his clothes, and soon, alas! ascertained that the direction of the
  ball must have been through some vital part. His pulses were not to be
  felt; his respiration was entirely suspended; and upon laying my hand
  on his heart, and perceiving no motion there, I considered him as
  irrecoverably gone. I however observed to Mr. Pendleton that the only
  chance for his reviving was immediately to get him upon the water.

  We therefore lifted him up, and carried him out of the wood, to the
  margin of the bank, where the bargemen aided us in conveying him into
  the boat, which immediately put off. During all this time I could not
  discover the least symptom of returning life. I now rubbed his face,
  lips, and temples, with spirits of hartshorn, applied it to his neck
  and breast, and to the wrists and palms of his hands, and endeavored
  to pour some into his mouth. When we had got, as I should judge, about
  fifty yards from the shore, some imperfect efforts to breathe were for
  the first time manifest. In a few minutes he sighed, and became
  sensible to the impression of the hartshorn, or the fresh air of the
  water. He breathed; his eyes, hardly opened, wandered, without fixing
  upon any objects. To our great joy he at length spoke: “My vision is
  indistinct,” were his first words. His pulse became more perceptible;
  his respiration more regular; his sight returned.

  ... Soon after recovering his sight, he happened to cast his eye upon
  the case of pistols, and observing the one that he had had in his hand
  lying on the outside, he said, “Take care of that pistol; it is
  undischarged, and still cocked; it may go off and do harm.—_Pendleton
  knows_ (attempting to turn his head towards him) _that I did not
  intend to fire at him_.” “Yes,” said Mr. Pendleton, understanding his
  wish, “I have already made Dr. Hosack acquainted with your
  determination as to that.”... Perceiving that we approached the shore,
  he said, “Let Mrs. Hamilton be immediately sent for. Let the event be
  gradually broken to her; but give her hopes.”

  Looking up, we saw his friend Mr. Bayard standing on the wharf in
  great agitation. He had been told by his servant that General
  Hamilton, Mr. Pendleton, and myself, had crossed the river in a boat
  together, and too well he conjectured the fatal errand, and foreboded
  the dreadful result. Perceiving, as we came nearer, that Mr. Pendleton
  and myself only sat up in the stern sheets, he clasped his hands
  together in the most violent apprehension; but when I called to him to
  have a cot prepared, and he at the same moment saw his poor friend
  lying in the bottom of the boat, he threw up his eyes and burst into a
  flood of tears and lamentation. Hamilton alone appeared tranquil and
  composed. We then conveyed him as tenderly as possible up to the
  house. The distresses of this amiable family were such that till the
  first shock was abated, they were scarcely able to summon fortitude
  enough to yield sufficient assistance to their dying friend.

  ... During the night he had some imperfect sleep; but the succeeding
  morning his symptoms were aggravated, attended, however, with a
  diminution of pain. His mind retained all its usual strength and
  composure. The great source of his anxiety seemed to be in his
  sympathy with his half-distracted wife and children. He spoke to her
  frequently of them. “My beloved wife and children,” were always his
  expressions. But his fortitude triumphed over his situation, dreadful
  as it was. Once, indeed, at the sight of his children brought to the
  bedside together, seven in number, his utterance forsook him. He
  opened his eyes, gave them one look, and closed them again till they
  were taken away. As a proof of his extraordinary composure of mind,
  let me add that he alone could calm the frantic grief of their mother.
  “_Remember, my Eliza, you are a Christian_,” were the expressions with
  which he frequently, with a firm voice, but in a pathetic and
  impressive manner, addressed her. His words, and the tone in which
  they were uttered, will never be effaced from my memory. At about two
  o’clock, as the public well knows, he expired.

                          Marbury vs. Madison

The duel between the former Secretary of the Treasury and the
Vice-President provided high drama, but far more important was an event
that had occurred the year before in Washington. This event was a
Supreme Court decision written by Chief Justice Marshall, the decision
known as _Marbury_ vs. _Madison_. It established the principle that the
Supreme Court may declare unconstitutional any law passed by Congress
that conflicts with the Constitution. This principle has become so well
accepted today that we can hardly realize it ever had to be stated. Its
effect, however, was to strengthen the system of checks and balances
between the three main branches of our government.

Marbury was an obscure justice of the peace, appointed by President
Adams just before his term expired. The lame-duck Federalist
administration went out of office before Marbury received his
commission, and Marbury appealed to the Supreme Court to force James
Madison, the new Secretary of State, to give it to him. The Supreme
Court declared that Marbury deserved his commission but that it could
not grant it. The reason was that the law saying the Court could do this
was contrary to the Constitution and therefore invalid. In the portion
of the decision that follows, Chief Justice Marshall argues the
principle that Congress may not give powers not specifically authorized
by the Constitution to the courts or to anyone else.

Excerpts from John Marshall’s Decision

  The question whether an act, repugnant [_opposed_] to the
  Constitution, can become the law of the land is a question deeply
  interesting to the United States but, happily, not of an intricacy
  proportioned to its interest. It seems only necessary to recognize
  certain principles, supposed to have been long and well established,
  to decide it.

  That the people have an original right to establish, for their future
  government, such principles as, in their opinion, shall most conduce
  to their own happiness is the basis on which the whole American fabric
  has been erected. The exercise of this original right is a very great
  exertion; nor can it, nor ought it, to be frequently repeated. The
  principles, therefore, so established are deemed fundamental. And as
  the authority from which they proceed is supreme, and can seldom act,
  they are designed to be permanent.

  This original and supreme will organizes the government and assigns to
  different departments their respective powers. It may either stop here
  or establish certain limits not to be transcended by those

  The government of the United States is of the latter description. The
  powers of the legislature are defined and limited; and that those
  limits may not be mistaken or forgotten, the Constitution is written.
  To what purpose are powers limited, and to what purpose is that
  limitation committed to writing, if these limits may, at any time, be
  passed by those intended to be restrained? The distinction between a
  government with limited and unlimited powers is abolished if those
  limits do not confine the persons on whom they are imposed, and if
  acts prohibited and acts allowed are of equal obligation. It is a
  proposition too plain to be contested that the Constitution controls
  any legislative act repugnant to it or that the legislature may alter
  the Constitution by an ordinary act.

  Between these alternatives there is no middle ground. The Constitution
  is either a superior paramount law, unchangeable by ordinary means, or
  it is on a level with ordinary legislative acts and, like other acts,
  is alterable when the legislature shall please to alter it.

  If the former part of the alternative be true, then a legislative act
  contrary to the Constitution is not law; if the latter part be true,
  then written constitutions are absurd attempts, on the part of the
  people, to limit a power in its own nature illimitable.

  Certainly, all those who have framed written constitutions contemplate
  them as forming the fundamental and paramount law of the nation, and,
  consequently, the theory of every such government must be, that an act
  of the legislature repugnant to the Constitution is void.

Marshall goes on to refute the argument that the Supreme Court should
concern itself only with interpreting the law, regardless of the
Constitution. Then he quotes specific passages from the Constitution:

  It is declared that “no tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported
  from any state.” Suppose a duty on the export of cotton, of tobacco,
  or of flour; and a suit instituted to recover it. Ought judgment to be
  rendered in such a case? Ought the judges to close their eyes on the
  Constitution and only see the law?...

  “No person,” says the Constitution, “shall be convicted of treason,
  unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same _overt_ act, or
  on confession in open court.” Here the language of the Constitution is
  addressed especially to the courts. It prescribes directly for them, a
  rule of evidence not to be departed from. If the legislature should
  change that rule and declare one witness, or a confession out of
  court, sufficient for conviction, must the constitutional principle
  yield to the legislative act?

  From these, and many other selections which might be made, it is
  apparent that the framers of the Constitution contemplated that
  instrument as a rule for the government of _courts_ as well as of the

  Why otherwise does it direct the judges to take an oath to support it?
  This oath certainly applies in an especial manner to their conduct in
  their official character. How immoral to impose it on them if they
  were to be used as the instruments, and the knowing instruments, for
  violating what they swear to support!

At the end of the decision the Chief Justice concluded that the language
of the Constitution confirmed and strengthened the principle essential
to all written constitutions “that a law repugnant to the Constitution
is void.”

                         The Louisiana Purchase

The great event of Jefferson’s first term was the acquisition of the
Louisiana Territory, that vast tract of land extending from the
Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, from the Canadian border to
the Gulf of Mexico. The purchase of this land from Napoleon was not a
premeditated act but rather the result of seizing an opportunity that
presented itself. President Jefferson started out merely to buy New
Orleans from France but ended up with more than 800,000 square miles.
The agreed-on price was about $15,000,000, or something like two cents
per acre.

Napoleon had forced Spain to give Louisiana back to France after Spain
had held the territory nearly forty years. Just before the letter in the
following account was written, the Spanish Intendant (director) of New
Orleans, who had not yet turned over the city to France, closed the port
to American commerce. Because most of the produce of the Ohio and
Mississippi valleys reached eastern and foreign markets via New Orleans,
closing the port seemed almost an act of war against the United States.
At this point Jefferson sent James Monroe to Europe as special minister
to buy New Orleans. It turned out just then that Napoleon needed money
to renew his war against England, and the entire territory was purchased
within a few weeks. The events which led to the purchase are described
in the following letter that Jefferson wrote on February 3, 1803, to
Robert Livingston, the American minister to France.

Jefferson Writes to Robert Livingston

  A late suspension by the Intendant of New Orleans of our right of
  deposit there, without which the right of navigation is impracticable,
  has thrown this country into such a flame of hostile disposition as
  can scarcely be described. The western country was peculiarly sensible
  to it as you may suppose. Our business was to take the most effectual
  pacific measures in our power to remove the suspension, and at the
  same time to persuade our countrymen that pacific measures would be
  the most effectual and the most speedily so. The opposition caught it
  as a plank in a shipwreck, hoping it would enable them to tack the
  western people to them. They raised the cry of war, were intriguing in
  all the quarters to exasperate the western inhabitants to arm and go
  down on their own authority and possess themselves of New Orleans, and
  in the meantime were daily reiterating, in new shapes, inflammatory
  resolutions for the adoption of the House.

  As a remedy to all this we determined to name a minister extraordinary
  to go immediately to Paris and Madrid to settle this matter. This
  measure being a visible one, and the person named peculiarly proper
  with the western country, crushed at once and put an end to all
  further attempts on the Legislature. From that moment all has become
  quiet; and the more readily in the western country, as the sudden
  alliance of these new federal friends had of itself already began to
  make them suspect the wisdom of their own course. The measure was
  moreover proposed from another cause. We must know at once whether we
  can acquire New Orleans or not. We are satisfied nothing else will
  secure us against a war at no distant period; and we cannot press this
  reason without beginning those arrangements which will be necessary if
  war is hereafter to result.

  For this purpose it was necessary that the negotiators should be fully
  possessed of every idea we have on the subject, so as to meet the
  propositions of the opposite party, in whatever form they may be
  offered; and give them a shape admissible by us without being obliged
  to await new instructions hence. With this view, we have joined Mr.
  Monroe to yourself at Paris, and to Mr. Pinckney at Madrid, although
  we believe it will be hardly necessary for him to go to this last

The Lewis and Clark Expedition

Exploring the Missouri River Valley and the Rocky Mountain area long had
been a cherished project of President Jefferson. He had talked about it
periodically since the Revolution, and when he became President he set
about to make his dream come true. Even before the United States owned
the Louisiana Territory, Capt. Meriwether Lewis, Jefferson’s secretary,
and William Clark, younger brother of George Rogers Clark, had been
picked to head an expedition to explore the West.

The journey did not begin, however, until May, 1804, when the expedition
left St. Louis. Capt. Lewis led his explorers up the Missouri River to
what is now North Dakota, and before cold weather set in they built huts
and a stockade for winter quarters. The next spring they moved on up the
river in dugout canoes (pirogues) towards the mountains. The following
selection from Capt. Lewis’ journal of the expedition was set down on
April 13, 1805, when the party was at the junction of the Missouri and
the Little Missouri rivers, still in North Dakota.

  Being disappointed in my observations of yesterday for longitude, I
  was unwilling to remain at the entrance of the river another day for
  that purpose, and therefore determined to set out early this morning;
  which we did accordingly; the wind was in our favour after 9 A.M. and
  continued favourable until 3 P.M. We therefore hoisted both the sails
  in the White Pirogue, consisting of a small square sail and spritsail,
  which carried her at a pretty good gait, until about 2 in the
  afternoon when a sudden squall of wind struck us and turned the
  pirogue so much on the side as to alarm Charbonneau [_the
  interpreter_], who was steering at the time. In this state of alarm he
  threw the pirogue with her side to the wind, when the spritsail gibing
  was as near oversetting the pirogue as it was possible to have missed.
  The wind, however, abating for an instant, I ordered Drouillard [_also
  an interpreter_] to the helm and the sails to be taken in, which was
  instantly executed, and the pirogue being steered before the wind was
  again placed in a state of security. This accident was very near
  costing us dearly. Believing this vessel to be the most steady and
  safe, we had embarked on board of it our instruments, papers,
  medicine, and the most valuable part of the merchandise which we had
  still in reserve as presents for the Indians. We had also embarked on
  board ourselves, with three men who could not swim, and the squaw
  [_Sacajawea, the Shoshone wife of Charbonneau, who showed the party
  the way across the Continental Divide and obtained horses and
  protection for them from the Shoshones_] with the young child, all of
  whom, had the pirogue overset, would most probably have perished, as
  the waves were high, and the pirogue upwards of 200 yards from the
  nearest shore; however, we fortunately escaped and pursued our journey
  under the square sail, which shortly after the accident I directed to
  be again hoisted.

By the end of May the expedition had moved halfway across Montana, still
following the Missouri River:

  Today we passed on the starboard [_right_] side the remains of a vast
  many mangled carcasses of buffalo which had been driven over a
  precipice of 120 feet by the Indians and perished; the water appeared
  to have washed away a part of this immense pile of slaughter and still
  there remained the fragments of at least a hundred carcasses. They
  created a most horrid stench. In this manner the Indians of the
  Missouri destroy vast herds of buffalo at a stroke; for this purpose
  one of the most active and fleet young men is selected and disguised
  in a robe of buffalo skin, having also the skin of the buffalo’s head
  with the ears and horns fastened on his head in form of a cap. Thus
  caparisoned he places himself at a convenient distance between a herd
  of buffalo and a precipice proper for the purpose, which happens in
  many places on this river for miles together; the other Indians now
  surround the herd on the back and flanks, and at a signal agreed on
  all show themselves at the same time moving forward towards the

  The disguised Indian or decoy has taken care to place himself
  sufficiently nigh the buffalo to be noticed by them when they take to
  flight, and running before them they follow him in full speed to the
  precipice, the cattle behind driving those in front over and seeing
  them go do not look or hesitate about following until the whole are
  precipitated down the precipice forming one common mass of dead and
  mangled carcasses. The decoy in the meantime has taken care to secure
  himself in some cranny or crevice of the cliff which he had previously
  prepared for that purpose.

By August 13 the expedition was crossing the Continental Divide at Lemhi
Pass on the border between Montana and Idaho. In the selection that
follows, Capt. Lewis describes the party’s meeting with the Shoshone

  We had not continued our route more than a mile when we were so
  fortunate as to meet with three female savages. The short and steep
  ravines which we passed concealed us from each other until we arrived
  within 30 paces. A young woman immediately took to flight; an elderly
  woman and a girl of about 12 years old remained. I instantly laid by
  my gun and advanced towards them. They appeared much alarmed but saw
  that we were too near for them to escape by flight; they therefore
  seated themselves on the ground, holding down their heads as if
  reconciled to die, which they expected no doubt would be their fate. I
  took the elderly woman by the hand and raised her up, repeated the
  word _tab-ba-bone_ and stripped up my shirt sleeve to show her my
  skin; to prove to her the truth of the assertion that I was a white
  man, for my face and hands, which have been constantly exposed to the
  sun, were quite as dark as their own. They appeared instantly
  reconciled, and the men coming up, I gave these women some beads, a
  few moccasin awls, some pewter looking-glasses, and a little paint.

  I directed Drouillard to request the old woman to recall the young
  woman who had run off to some distance by this time, fearing she might
  alarm the camp before we approached and might so exasperate the
  natives that they would perhaps attack us without enquiring who we
  were. The old woman did as she was requested and the fugitive soon
  returned almost out of breath. I bestowed an equivalent portion of
  trinket on her with the others. I now painted their tawny cheeks with
  some vermillion, which with this nation is emblematic of peace. After
  they had become composed I informed them by signs that I wished them
  to conduct us to their camp, that we were anxious to become acquainted
  with the chiefs and warriors of their nation. They readily obeyed and
  we set out, still pursuing the road down the river.

  We had marched about 2 miles when we met a party of about 60 warriors
  mounted on excellent horses, who came in nearly full speed. When they
  arrived, I advanced towards them with the flag, leaving my gun with
  the party about 50 paces behind me. The chief and two others who were
  a little in advance of the main body spoke to the women, and they
  informed them who we were and exultingly showed the presents which had
  been given them. These men then advanced and embraced me very
  affectionately in their way, which is by putting their left arm over
  your right shoulder, clasping your back, while they apply their left
  cheek to yours and frequently vociferate the word _ah-hi-e, ah-hi-e_,
  that is, I am much pleased, I am much rejoiced. Both parties now
  advanced and we were all caressed and besmeared with their grease and
  paint till I was heartily tired of the national hug.

  I now had the pipe lit and gave them smoke; they seated themselves in
  a circle around us and pulled off their moccasins before they would
  receive or smoke the pipe. This is a custom among them, as I
  afterwards learned, indicative of a sacred obligation of sincerity in
  their profession of friendship, given by the act of receiving and
  smoking the pipe of a stranger. Or which is as much as to say that
  they wish they may always go barefoot if they are not sincere; a
  pretty heavy penalty if they are to march through the plains of their

After crossing the Continental Divide, the expedition descended the
Columbia River to the Pacific Coast, where they built a fort and spent
the winter of 1805-1806. The next year they retraced their steps across
the wilderness and returned to St. Louis in September, 1806, having been
gone twenty-eight months. The expedition not only was a great adventure,
but it also captured the imagination of the country. Not long afterwards
fur traders began tapping the rich resources of the area, and by the
middle of the century settlers were crossing the plains and mountains
via the Oregon Trail.

                            The Embargo Act

Although Jefferson was re-elected in 1804 by a landslide victory, his
popularity diminished greatly during his second term. The source of his
troubles lay in Europe, where England and France were involved in the
long, bitter Napoleonic Wars. England could not defeat Napoleon on land,
but her navy was superior. Hence she blockaded the continent. France
retaliated by counter-blockades. The United States, with a large
merchant fleet but scarcely any navy, was caught in the middle. Hundreds
of American ships were seized and their cargoes confiscated. Both
England and France violated American neutral rights, but England, with
the world’s strongest navy, was the chief offender. When a British
warship, the _Leopard_, fired on and impressed American seamen from an
American frigate, the _Chesapeake_, off the coast of Virginia, the
United States was ready to fight.

President Jefferson, however, was determined to avoid war and answered
the _Chesapeake_ incident with a proclamation excluding British warships
from American waters, but the British would not agree to stop impressing
American seamen. In addition, to deal with the seizure of American
ships, Jefferson persuaded Congress to pass the Embargo Act. This act
forbade American ships to leave for foreign ports. The result was that
American ships rotted in the harbors and depression hit American
business. Yet England and France were not hurt enough to come to terms.
The Embargo Act had to be repealed.

Washington Irving Satirizes the Embargo Act

About the time the Embargo Act was repealed, Washington Irving,
America’s first important man of letters, wrote his _History of New
York_. This book is a burlesque account of the old Dutch period in New
York history, a very funny book, full of comic pictures of the Dutch
governors and the early settlers. The book also contains some
contemporary political satire in the chapters devoted to William the
Testy. In the selections which follow you will see obvious references to
the _Chesapeake_ incident, the Embargo Act, and President Jefferson’s

  As my readers are well aware of the advantage a potentate has in
  handling his enemies as he pleases in his speeches and bulletins,
  where he has the talk all on his own side, they may rest assured that
  William the Testy did not let such an opportunity escape of giving the
  Yankees what is called “a taste of his quality.” In speaking of their
  inroads into the territories of their High Mightinesses, he compared
  them to the Gauls who desolated Rome, the Goths and Vandals who
  overran the fairest plains of Europe; but when he came to speak of the
  unparalleled audacity with which they of Weathersfield had advanced
  their [_onion_] patches up to the very walls of Fort Goed Hoop, and
  threatened to smother the garrison in onions, tears of rage started
  into his eyes, as though he nosed the very offense in question.

  Having thus wrought up his tale to a climax, he assumed a most
  belligerent look, and assured the council that he had devised an
  instrument, potent in its effects, and which he trusted would soon
  drive the Yankees from the land. So saying, he thrust his hand into
  one of the deep pockets of his broad-skirted coat and drew forth, not
  an infernal machine, but an instrument in writing, which he laid with
  great emphasis upon the table.

  The burghers gazed at it for a time in silent awe, as a wary housewife
  does at a gun, fearful it may go off half-cocked. The document in
  question had a sinister look, it is true; it was crabbed in text, and
  from a broad red ribbon dangled the great seal of the province, about
  the size of a buckwheat pancake. Still, after all, it was but an
  instrument in writing. Herein, however, existed the wonder of the
  invention. The document in question was a PROCLAMATION, ordering the
  Yankees to depart instantly from the territories of their High
  Mightinesses, under pain of suffering all the forfeitures and
  punishments in such case made and provided. It was on the moral effect
  of this formidable instrument that Wilhelmus Kieft calculated,
  pledging his valor as a governor that, once fulminated [_thundered_]
  against the Yankees, it would in less than two months drive every
  mother’s son of them across the borders.

  The council broke up in perfect wonder, and nothing was talked of for
  some time among the old men and women of New Amsterdam but the vast
  genius of the governor and his new and cheap mode of fighting by

  As to Wilhelmus Kieft, having dispatched his proclamation to the
  frontiers, he put on his cocked hat and corduroy small clothes, and,
  mounting a tall rawboned charger, trotted out to his rural retreat of
  Dog’s Misery....

  Never was a more comprehensive, a more expeditious—or, what is still
  better, a more economical—measure devised than this of defeating the
  Yankees by proclamation—an expedient, likewise, so gentle and humane
  there were ten chances to one in favor of its succeeding, but then
  there was one chance to ten that it would not succeed: as the
  ill-natured Fates would have it, that single chance carried the day!
  The proclamation was perfect in all its parts, well constructed, well
  written, well sealed, and well published; all that was wanting to
  insure its effect was, that the Yankees should stand in awe of it;
  but, provoking to relate, they treated it with the most absolute
  contempt, applied it to an unseemly purpose, and thus did the first
  warlike proclamation come to a shameful end—a fate which I am credibly
  informed has befallen but too many of its successors.

  So far from abandoning the country, those varlets [_rascals_]
  continued their encroachments, squatting along the green banks of the
  Varsche River, and founding Hartford, Stamford, New Haven, and other
  border towns. I have already shown how the onion patches of Pyquag
  were an eyesore to Jacobus Van Curlet and his garrison; but now these
  moss-troopers increased in their atrocities, kidnaping hogs,
  impounding horses, and sometimes grievously rib-roasting their owners.
  Our worthy forefathers could scarcely stir abroad without danger of
  being outjockeyed in horseflesh or taken in in bargaining, while in
  their absence some daring Yankee peddler would penetrate to their
  household and nearly ruin the good housewives with tinware and wooden

  It was long before William the Testy could be persuaded that his
  much-vaunted war measure was ineffectual; on the contrary, he flew in
  a passion whenever it was doubted, swearing that though slow in
  operating, yet when it once began to work it would soon purge the land
  of these invaders. When convinced, at length, of the truth, like a
  shrewd physician he attributed the failure to the quantity, not the
  quality, of the medicine, and resolved to double the dose. He
  fulminated, therefore, a second proclamation, more vehement than the
  first, forbidding all intercourse with these Yankee intruders,
  ordering the Dutch burghers on the frontiers to buy none of their
  pacing horses, measly port, apple sweetmeats, Weathersfield onions, or
  wooden bowls, and to furnish them with no supplies of gin,
  gingerbread, or sauerkraut.

  Another interval elapsed, during which the last proclamation was as
  little regarded as the first, and the non-intercourse was especially
  set at naught by the young folks of both sexes, if we may judge by the
  active bundling which took place along the borders.

Irving concludes this satire of William the Testy’s proclamation by a
comic account of how the Yankees captured Fort Goed Hoop. They sneaked
into the fort while the Dutch soldiers were sleeping off their dinner,
gave the defenders a kick in the pants, and sent them back to New

                  Madison’s Administration, 1809-1817

         [Illustration: The _Constitution_ and the _Guerrière_]

Madison’s Inauguration

Despite the unpopularity of the Embargo Act, James Madison, Jefferson’s
choice to succeed him in the presidency, was elected by a large margin.
Madison had served a long career in public life, beginning with the
Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention and more recently
serving as Secretary of State under Jefferson. In the following
selection Margaret Bayard Smith again reports the Washington scene, this
time the events of March 4, 1809, Inauguration Day. Note that she mixes
up the sequence of events by starting with the reception after the
inauguration before describing the inauguration.

  Today after the inauguration we all went to Mrs. Madison’s. The street
  was full of carriages and people, and we had to wait near half an hour
  before we could get in—the house was completely filled, parlours,
  entry, drawing room and bed room. Near the door of the drawing room
  Mr. and Mrs. Madison stood to receive their company. She looked
  extremely beautiful, was dressed in a plain cambric dress with a very
  long train, plain round the neck without any handkerchief, and
  beautiful bonnet of purple velvet, and white satin with white plumes.
  She was all dignity, grace and affability.

  Mr. Madison shook my hand with all the cordiality of old acquaintance,
  but it was when I saw our dear and venerable Mr. Jefferson that my
  heart beat. When he saw me, he advanced from the crowd, took my hand
  affectionately, and held it five or six minutes; one of the first
  things he said was, “Remember the promise you have made me, to come to
  see us next summer; do not forget it,” said he, pressing my hand, “for
  we shall certainly expect you.” I assured him I would not, and told
  him I could now wish him joy with much more sincerity than this day 8
  years ago.

  “You have now resigned a heavy burden,” said I.

  “Yes indeed,” he replied, “and am much happier at this moment than my

  The crowd was immense both at the Capitol and here; thousands and
  thousands of people thronged the avenue. The Capitol presented a gay
  scene. Every inch of space was crowded and there being as many ladies
  as gentlemen, all in full dress, it gave it rather a gay than a solemn
  appearance—there was an attempt made to appropriate particular seats
  for the ladies of public characters, but it was found impossible to
  carry it into effect, for the sovereign people would not resign their
  privileges and the high and low were promiscuously blended on the
  floor and in the galleries. Mr. Madison was extremely pale and
  trembled excessively when he first began to speak, but soon gained
  confidence and spoke audibly.

Mrs. Smith now interrupts her letter (to her sister-in-law) and finishes
it the next day. The event she describes is the inauguration ball at
Long’s Hotel.

  Last evening, I endeavored calmly to look on, and amidst the noise,
  bustle and crowd, to spend an hour or two in sober reflection, but my
  eye was always fixed on our venerable friend [_Jefferson_]. When he
  approached my ear listened to catch every word, and when he spoke to
  me my heart beat with pleasure. Personal attachment produces this
  emotion, and I did not blame it. But I have not this regard for Mr.
  Madison, and I was displeased at feeling no emotion when he came up
  and conversed with me. He made some of his old kind of mischievous
  allusions, and I told him I found him still unchanged. I tried in vain
  to feel merely as a spectator; the little vanities of my nature often
  conquered my better reason.

  The room was so terribly crowded that we had to stand on the benches;
  from this situation we had a view of the moving mass; for it was
  nothing else. It was scarcely possible to elbow your way from one side
  to another, and poor Mrs. Madison was almost pressed to death, for
  every one crowded round her, those behind pressing on those before,
  and peeping over their shoulders to have a peep of her, and those who
  were so fortunate as to get near enough to speak to her were happy
  indeed. As the upper sashes of the windows could not let down, the
  glass was broken, to ventilate the room, the air of which had become

                            The War of 1812

The War of 1812, like the Korean war of this century, was a conflict
that neither side won. The young United States Navy scored some notable
victories at sea but could not prevent the overwhelming naval power of
the British from blockading American coasts and cutting off American
commerce. The United States Army, with a few notable exceptions, was
badly generaled and was outfought. General Hull surrendered Detroit
without a fight, and General Dearborn, who set out to attack Montreal,
marched to the Canadian border, lost his nerve, and turned back.

The War of 1812 was also like the Korean war in that it was unpopular
with the political party out of office. Federalist New England refused
to support it, calling the conflict “Mr. Madison’s War,” and seriously
talked of secession. New England merchants traded with the enemy, and
when Maine was occupied by the British, many Americans quickly took an
oath of allegiance to the king. The Czar of Russia’s offer to act as
mediator between England and America was eagerly accepted. The peace
talks, however, dragged on for nearly two years before a settlement,
leaving things just as they were before the war, was agreed upon.

Although neither side won, the War of 1812 did have some important
consequences. Historians see it as America’s second war for
independence. The Revolution severed American ties with England. The War
of 1812 removed any doubts in the minds of European powers that the
United States was here to stay. Also, in the years following the war,
America was able to settle her grievances with England and to force the
Spanish out of Florida. And, for the first time, the United States could
concentrate on internal problems.

The Constitution Defeats the Guerrière

The frigate _Constitution_, captained by Isaac Hull, already had a
distinguished history when the War of 1812 began. She had been built in
Boston during the trouble with France in 1797 and had taken part in the
war with the Barbary pirates. The peace treaty with Tripoli had been
signed in the captain’s quarters on the gun deck. A trim, fast, graceful
ship, the frigate had been made from timbers of solid live oak, hard
pine, and red cedar. The bolts, copper sheathing, and brass-work had
been supplied by Paul Revere. This ship now is preserved as a museum at
the Boston Navy Yard.

Congress declared war on England in June, 1812, and the next month Capt.
Hull sailed from Chesapeake Bay. In August he encountered the British
ship _Guerrière_, and the action that followed he reports in his
dispatch to the Secretary of the Navy. Thus, the war began with a
resounding sea victory.


  I have the honour to inform you, that on the 19th instant, at 2 P.M.
  being in latitude 41, 42, longitude 55, 48, with the _Constitution_
  under my command, a sail was discovered from the masthead bearing E.
  by S. or E.S.E. but at such a distance we could not tell what she was.
  All sail was instantly made in chase, and soon found we came up with
  her. At 3 P.M. could plainly see that she was a ship on the starboard
  tack, under easy sail, close on a wind; at half past 3 P.M. made her
  out to be a frigate; continued the chase until we were within about
  three miles, when I ordered the light sails taken in, the courses
  hauled up, and the ship cleared for action. At this time the chase had
  backed his main top-sail, waiting for us to come down.

  As soon as the _Constitution_ was ready for action, I bore down with
  an intention to bring him to close action immediately; but on our
  coming within gunshot she gave us a broadside and filled away, and
  wore, giving us a broadside on the other tack, but without effect; her
  shot falling short. She continued wearing and maneuvering for about
  three-quarters of an hour, to get a raking position, but finding she
  could not, she bore up, and ran under top-sails and gib, with the wind
  on the quarter.

  I immediately made sail to bring the ship up with her, and 5 minutes
  before 6 P.M. being along side within half pistol shot, we commenced a
  heavy fire from all our guns, double shotted with round and grape, and
  so well directed were they, and so warmly kept up, that in 15 minutes
  his mizen-mast went by the board, and his main-yard in the slings, and
  the hull, rigging, and sails very much torn to pieces. The fire was
  kept up with equal warmth for 15 minutes longer, when his main-mast,
  and fore-mast went, taking with them every spar, excepting the
  bowsprit; on seeing this we ceased firing, so that in 30 minutes after
  we got fairly along side the enemy she surrendered, and had not a spar
  standing, and her hull below and above water so shattered, that a few
  more broadsides must have carried her down.

  After informing you that so fine a ship as the _Guerrière_, commanded
  by an able and experienced officer, had been totally dismasted, and
  otherwise cut to pieces, so as to make her not worth towing into port,
  in the short space of 30 minutes, you can have no doubt of the
  gallantry and good conduct of the officers and ship’s company I have
  the honour to command. It only remains, therefore, for me to assure
  you, that they all fought with great bravery; and it gives me great
  pleasure to say, that from the smallest boy in the ship to the oldest
  seaman, not a look of fear was seen. They all went into action, giving
  three cheers, and requesting to be laid close along side the enemy.

  Enclosed I have the honour to send you a list of killed and wounded on
  board the _Constitution_, and a report of the damages she has
  sustained; also, a list of the killed and wounded on board the enemy.

Commodore Perry Wins a Victory on Lake Erie

The naval campaigns of the War of 1812 were fought on the Great Lakes as
well as in the Atlantic. Because British troops were based in Canada,
the northern border of the United States inevitably became a battle
line. Commodore Perry won another important sea victory a year after the
_Constitution_ defeated the _Guerrière_ when his squadron defeated and
captured a British squadron on Lake Erie. This was the battle which
Perry reported to General William Henry Harrison in his famous remark:
“We have met the enemy, and they are ours.” In the two dispatches that
follow, Perry gives a full account of the action to the Secretary of the


  It has pleased the Almighty to give to the arms of the United States a
  signal victory over their enemies on this lake. The British squadron,
  consisting of two ships, two brigs, one schooner, and one sloop, have
  this moment surrendered to the force under my command, after a sharp


  In my last I informed you that we had captured the enemy’s fleet on
  this lake. I have now the honour to give you the most important
  particulars of the action. On the morning of the 10th instant, at
  sunrise, they were discovered from Put-In-Bay, when I lay at anchor
  with the squadron under my command. We got under weigh, the wind light
  at south-west, and stood for them. At 10 A.M. the wind hauled to
  south-east and brought us to windward; formed the line and bore up. At
  15 minutes before 12, the enemy commenced firing; at 5 minutes before
  12, the action commenced on our part.

  Finding their fire very destructive owing to their long guns, and its
  being mostly directed at the _Lawrence_, I made sail, and directed the
  other vessels to follow, for the purpose of closing with the enemy.
  Every brace and bowline being soon shot away, she became unmanageable,
  notwithstanding the great exertions of the sailing master. In this
  situation, she sustained the action upwards of two hours within
  canister distance, until every gun was rendered useless, and the
  greater part of her crew either killed or wounded. Finding she could
  no longer annoy the enemy, I left her in charge of Lieutenant Yarnall,
  who, I was convinced, from the bravery already displayed by him, would
  do what would comport with the honour of the flag.

  At half past two, the wind springing up, Captain Elliot was enabled to
  bring his vessel, the _Niagara_, gallantly into close action. I
  immediately went on board of her, when he anticipated my wish by
  volunteering to bring the schooner which had been kept astern by the
  lightness of the wind, into close action. It was with unspeakable pain
  that I saw, soon after I got on board the _Niagara_, the flag of the
  _Lawrence_ come down, although I was perfectly sensible that she had
  been defended to the last, and that to have continued to make a show
  of resistance would have been a wanton sacrifice of the remains of her
  brave crew. But the enemy was not able to take possession of her, and
  circumstances soon permitted her flag again to be hoisted.

  At 45 minutes past 2, 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,
  giving a raking fire to them from the starboard guns, and to a large
  schooner and sloop, from the larboard side, at half pistol shot
  distance. The smaller vessels at this time having got within grape and
  canister distance, under the direction of Captain Elliot, and keeping
  up a well-directed fire, the two ships, a brig, and a schooner
  surrendered, a schooner and sloop making a vain attempt to escape.

The British Burn Washington

Probably the most humiliating military defeat ever inflicted on the
United States occurred in August, 1814, when British troops marched into
Washington and burned the public buildings. This was a punitive action
designed to teach the Americans a lesson and to demoralize the country.
Official Washington fled at the approach of the British, and in the
following letter Dolly Madison, the President’s wife, describes her
activities on the day before and her flight from the White House on the
day of the British invasion.

  Dear Sister—My husband left me yesterday morning to join General
  Winder. He inquired anxiously whether I had courage or firmness to
  remain in the President’s house until his return on the morrow, or
  succeeding day, and on my assurance that I had no fear but for him,
  and the success of our army, he left, beseeching me to take care of
  myself, and of the Cabinet papers, public and private. I have since
  received two dispatches from him, written with a pencil. The last is
  alarming, because he desires I should be ready at a moment’s warning
  to enter my carriage, and leave the city; that the enemy seemed
  stronger than had at first been reported, and it might happen that
  they would reach the city with the intention of destroying it. I am
  accordingly ready; I have pressed as many Cabinet papers into trunks
  as to fill one carriage; our private property must be sacrificed, as
  it is impossible to procure wagons for its transportation. I am
  determined not to go myself until I see Mr. Madison safe, so that he
  can accompany me, as I hear of much hostility towards him.
  Disaffection stalks around us. My friends and acquaintances are all
  gone, even Colonel C. with his hundred, who were stationed as a guard
  in this inclosure. French John [_a faithful servant_], with his usual
  activity and resolution, offers to spike the cannon at the gate, and
  lay a train of powder, which would blow up the British, should they
  enter the house. To the last proposition I positively object, without
  being able to make him understand why all advantages in war may not be

  _Wednesday Morning_, twelve o’clock. Since sunrise I have been turning
  my spy-glass in every direction, and watching with unwearied anxiety,
  hoping to discover the approach of my dear husband and his friends;
  but, alas! I can descry only groups of military, wandering in all
  directions, as if there was a lack of arms, or of spirit to fight for
  their own fireside.

  Three o’clock. Will you believe it, my sister? we have had a battle,
  or skirmish, near Bladensburg, and here I am still, within sound of
  the cannon! Mr. Madison comes not. May God protect us! Two messengers
  covered with dust come to bid me fly; but here I mean to wait for
  him.... At this late hour a wagon has been procured, and I have had it
  filled with plate and the most valuable portable articles belonging to
  the house. Whether it will reach its destination, the Bank of
  Maryland, or fall into the hands of British soldiery, events must
  determine. Our kind friend, Mr. Carroll, has come to hasten my
  departure, and in a very bad humor with me, because I insist on
  waiting until the large picture of General Washington is secured, and
  it requires to be unscrewed from the wall. This process was found too
  tedious for these perilous moments; I have ordered the frame to be
  broken, and the canvas taken out. It is done! and the precious
  portrait placed in the hands of two gentlemen of New York, for safe
  keeping. And now, dear sister, I must leave this house, or the
  retreating army will make me a prisoner in it by filling up the road I
  am directed to take. When I shall again write to you, or where I shall
  be tomorrow, I cannot tell!


The British Burn Washington: George Gleig

British General Robert Ross landed with about four thousand men and
marched into Washington without much opposition. The scene that took
place during the burning is vividly described by a British officer,
George Gleig, in _A Narrative of the Campaigns of the British Army_.

  While the third brigade was thus employed [_burning buildings_], the
  rest of the army, having recalled its stragglers and removed the
  wounded into Bladensburg, began its march towards Washington. Though
  the battle was ended by four o’clock, the sun had set before the
  different regiments were in a condition to move; consequently this
  short journey was performed in the dark. The work of destruction had
  also begun in the city, before they quitted their ground; and the
  blazing of houses, ships, and stores, the report of exploding
  magazines, and the crash of falling roofs informed them, as they
  proceeded, of what was going forward. You can conceive nothing finer
  than the sight which met them as they drew near to the town. The sky
  was brilliantly illuminated by the different conflagrations, and a
  dark red light was thrown upon the road, sufficient to permit each man
  to view distinctly his comrade’s face. Except the burning of St.
  Sebastian’s, I do not recollect to have witnessed ... a scene more
  striking or more sublime.

  I need scarcely to observe that the consternation of the inhabitants
  was complete, and that to them this was a night of terror. So
  confident had they been of the success of their troops, that few of
  them had dreamed of quitting their houses or abandoning the city; nor
  was it till the fugitives from the battle began to rush in, filling
  every place as they came with dismay, that the President himself
  thought of providing for his safety. That gentleman, as I was credibly
  informed, had gone forth in the morning with the army, and had
  continued among his troops till the British forces began to make their
  appearance. Whether the sight of his enemies cooled his courage or
  not, I cannot say, but, according to my informer, no sooner was the
  glittering of our arms discernible, than he began to discover that his
  presence was more wanted in the Senate than with the army; and having
  ridden through the ranks, and exhorted every man to do his duty, he
  hurried back to his own house, that he might prepare a feast for the
  entertainment of his officers, when they should return victorious.

  For the truth of these details, I will not be answerable; but this
  much I know, that the feast was actually prepared, though, instead of
  being devoured by American officers, it went to satisfy the less
  delicate appetites of a party of English soldiers. When the detachment
  sent out to destroy Mr. Madison’s house entered his dining parlor,
  they found a dinner table spread and covers laid for forty guests.
  Several kinds of wine, in handsome cut-glass decanters, were cooling
  on the sideboard; plate-holders stood by the fireplace, filled with
  dishes and plates; knives, forks, and spoons were arranged for
  immediate use; in short, everything was ready for the entertainment of
  a ceremonious party. Such were the arrangements in the dining room,
  whilst in the kitchen were others answerable to them in every respect.
  Spits, loaded with joints of various sorts, turned before the fire;
  pots, saucepans, and other culinary utensils stood upon the grate; and
  all the other requisites for an elegant and substantial repast were
  exactly in a state which indicated that they had been lately and
  precipitately abandoned.

  You will readily imagine that these preparations were beheld by a
  party of hungry soldiers with no indifferent eye. An elegant dinner,
  even though considerably overdressed, was a luxury to which few of
  them, at least for some time back, had been accustomed, and which,
  after the dangers and fatigues of the day, appeared peculiarly
  inviting. They sat down to it, therefore, not indeed in the most
  orderly manner, but with countenances which would not have disgraced a
  party of aldermen at a civic feast, and, having satisfied their
  appetites with fewer complaints than would have probably escaped their
  rival _gourmands_, and partaken pretty freely of the wines, they
  finished by setting fire to the house....

  But, as I have just observed, this was a night of dismay to the
  inhabitants of Washington. They were taken completely by surprise; nor
  could the arrival of the flood be more unexpected to the natives of
  the antediluvian world than the arrival of the British army to them.
  The first impulse of course tempted them to fly, and the streets were
  in consequence crowded with soldiers and senators, men, women, and
  children, horses, carriages, and carts loaded with household
  furniture, all hastening towards a wooden bridge which crosses the
  Potomac. The confusion thus occasioned was terrible, and the crowd
  upon the bridge was such as to endanger its giving way. But Mr.
  Madison, having escaped among the first, was no sooner safe on the
  opposite bank of the river than he gave orders that the bridge should
  be broken down; which being obeyed, the rest were obliged to return
  and to trust to the clemency of the victors.

  In this manner was the night passed by both parties; and at daybreak
  next morning, the light brigade moved into the city, while the reserve
  fell back to a height about a half mile in the rear. Little, however,
  now remained to be done, because everything marked out for destruction
  was already consumed. Of the Senate house, the President’s palace, the
  barracks, the dockyard, etc., nothing could be seen except heaps of
  smoking ruins; and even the bridge ... was almost wholly demolished.

The Battle of New Orleans

Despite the general incompetence of the American leadership in the War
of 1812, Andrew Jackson emerged from the campaigns as a genuine war
hero. The Battle of New Orleans, which ironically was fought after the
peace treaty had been signed in Europe, was a great victory. Jackson’s
troops, greatly outnumbered, barricaded themselves behind cotton bales
and earthworks and mowed down the British as they stormed the American
positions. In the two selections that follow, we print first the account
of the battle by the British officer George Gleig and then General
Jackson’s terse report to the Secretary of War.

                                 OFFICER GLEIG:

  The main body armed and moved forward some way in front of the
  pickets. There they stood waiting for daylight and listening with the
  greatest anxiety for the firing which ought now to be heard on the
  opposite bank. But this attention was exerted in vain, and day dawned
  upon them long before they desired its appearance. Nor was Sir Edward
  Pakenham disappointed in this part of his plan alone. Instead of
  perceiving everything in readiness for the assault, he saw his troops
  in battle array, indeed, but not a ladder or fascine [_bundle of
  sticks to fill ditches_] upon the field. The 44th, which was appointed
  to carry them, had either misunderstood or neglected their orders and
  now headed the column of attack without any means being provided for
  crossing the enemy’s ditch, or scaling his rampart.

  The indignation of poor Pakenham on this occasion may be imagined, but
  cannot be described. Galloping towards Colonel Mullens, who led the
  44th, he commanded him instantly to return with his regiment for the
  ladders, but the opportunity of planting them was lost, and though
  they were brought up, it was only to be scattered over the field by
  the frightened bearers. For our troops were by this time visible to
  the enemy. A dreadful fire was accordingly opened upon them, and they
  were mowed down by hundreds, while they stood waiting for orders.

  Seeing that all his well-laid plans were frustrated, Pakenham gave the
  word to advance, and the other regiments, leaving the 44th with the
  ladders and fascines behind them, rushed on to the assault. On the
  left a detachment of the 95th, 21st, and 4th stormed a three-gun
  battery and took it. Here they remained for some time in the
  expectation of support; but none arriving, and a strong column of the
  enemy forming for its recovery, they determined to anticipate the
  attack and pushed on. The battery which they had taken was in advance
  of the body of the works, being cut off from it by a ditch, across
  which only a single plank was thrown. Along this plank did these brave
  men attempt to pass; but being opposed by overpowering numbers, they
  were repulsed; and the Americans, in turn, forcing their way into the
  battery, at length succeeded in recapturing it with immense slaughter.

  On the right, again, the 21st and 4th being almost cut to pieces and
  thrown into some confusion by the enemy’s fire, the 93d pushed on and
  took the lead. Hastening forward, our troops soon reached the ditch;
  but to scale the parapet without ladders was impossible. Some few,
  indeed, by mounting one upon another’s shoulders, succeeded in
  entering the works, but these were instantly overpowered, most of them
  killed, and the rest taken; while as many as stood without were
  exposed to a sweeping fire, which cut them down by whole companies. It
  was in vain that the most obstinate courage was displayed. They fell
  by the hands of men whom they absolutely did not see; for the
  Americans, without so much as lifting their faces above the rampart,
  swung their firelocks by one arm over the wall, and discharged them
  directly upon their heads. The whole of the guns, likewise, from the
  opposite bank, kept up a well directed and deadly cannonade upon their
  flank; and thus were they destroyed without an opportunity being given
  of displaying their valour, or obtaining so much as revenge.

  Poor Pakenham saw how things were going, and did all that a General
  could do to rally his broken troops. Riding towards the 44th which had
  returned to the ground, but in great disorder, he called out for
  Colonel Mullens to advance; but that officer had disappeared, and was
  not to be found. He, therefore, prepared to lead them on himself, and
  had put himself at their head for that purpose, when he received a
  slight wound in the knee from a musket ball which killed his horse.
  Mounting another, he again headed the 44th, when a second ball took
  effect more fatally, and he dropped lifeless into the arms of his

  Nor were Generals Gibbs and Keane inactive. Riding through the ranks,
  they strove by all means to encourage the assailants and recall the
  fugitives, till at length both were wounded and borne off the field.
  All was now confusion and dismay. Without leaders, ignorant of what
  was to be done, the troops first halted and then began to retire, till
  finally the retreat was changed into a flight, and they quitted the
  ground in the utmost disorder. But the retreat was covered in gallant
  style by the reserve. Making a forward motion, the 7th and 43d
  presented the appearance of a renewed attack; by which the enemy were
  so much awed, that they did not venture beyond their lines in pursuit
  of the fugitives.

                           GENERAL JACKSON’S REPORT:

  During the days of the 6th and 7th, the enemy had been actively
  employed in making preparations for an attack on my lines. With
  infinite labour they had succeeded on the night of the 7th, in getting
  their boats across from the lake to the river, by widening and
  deepening the canal on which they had effected their disembarkation.
  It had not been in my power to impede these operations by a general
  attack: added to other reasons, the nature of the troops under my
  command, mostly militia, rendered it too hazardous to attempt
  extensive _offensive_ movements in an open country, against a numerous
  and well disciplined army.

  Although my forces, as to number, had been increased by the arrival of
  the Kentucky division, my strength had received very little addition;
  a small portion only of that detachment being provided with arms.
  Compelled thus to wait the attack of the enemy, I took every measure
  to repel it when it should be made, and to defeat the object he had in
  view. General Morgan, with the New Orleans contingent, the Louisiana
  militia, and a strong detachment of the Kentucky troops, occupied an
  entrenched camp on the opposite side of the river, protected by strong
  batteries on the bank, erected and superintended by Commodore

  In _my_ encampment everything was ready for action, when, early in the
  morning of the 8th, the enemy after throwing a heavy shower of bombs
  and congreve rockets, advanced their columns on my right and left, to
  storm my entrenchments. I cannot speak sufficiently in praise of the
  firmness and deliberation with which my whole line received their
  approach—_more_ could not have been expected from veterans inured to
  war. For an hour the fire of the small arms was as incessant and
  severe as can be imagined. The artillery, too, directed by officers
  who displayed equal skill and courage, did great execution.

  Yet the columns of the enemy continued to advance with a firmness
  which reflects upon them the greatest credit. Twice the column which
  approached me on my left, was repulsed by the troops of General
  Carroll, those of General Coffee, and a division of the Kentucky
  militia, and twice they formed again and renewed the assault. At
  length, however, cut to pieces, they fled in confusion from the field,
  leaving it covered with their dead and wounded.

  The loss which the enemy sustained on this occasion, cannot be
  estimated at less than 1500 in killed, wounded and prisoners. [_The
  British actually lost over 2,000. American casualties: 8 killed, 13
  wounded._] Upwards of three hundred have already been delivered over
  for burial; and my men are still engaged in picking them up within my
  lines and carrying them to the point where the enemy are to receive
  them. This is in addition to the dead and wounded whom the enemy have
  been enabled to carry from the field, during and since the action, and
  to those who have since died of the wounds they received. We have
  taken about 500 prisoners, upwards of 300 of whom are wounded, and a
  great part of them mortally. My loss has not exceeded, and I believe
  has not amounted to, 10 killed and as many wounded....

                        I have the honor to be, etc.
                                                          Andrew Jackson

Incidentally, this battle was the last time that British and American
troops ever fought each other. The next time they met on the field of
battle they were allies in World War I.

                James Monroe’s Administration, 1817-1825

          [Illustration: Public speaker on the Fourth of July]

                  Early Days in the Mississippi Valley

James Monroe was the last of the quartet of Virginia Presidents which
had begun with George Washington. He was elected after serving as
Madison’s Secretary of State, but before that he had fought in the
Revolution, sat in the Continental Congress, been a Senator, a governor,
and a minister to France. His term as President is known as the Era of
Good Feeling because of the absence of serious problems to divide the
country. It was a period of rapid growth as settlers pushed west and the
beginnings of the industrial revolution began to change the East.

During the early decades of the nineteenth century the wilderness across
the Allegheny Mountains began to fill up with farmers. Throughout
Jefferson’s administration there were occasional skirmishes with the
Indians, but gradually the Indians were pushed out of their traditional
hunting grounds. While Madison was President, the Shawnee chief
Tecumseh, who had attempted to organize Indian resistance, was crushed
by William Henry Harrison in the Battle of Tippecanoe. Meantime, Ohio
had become a state in 1803, and in 1816, the year that James Monroe was
elected President, Indiana was admitted to the Union. Two years later,
Illinois joined the growing Union.

In the selections reprinted in this part of _The Jeffersonians_ we have
chosen four pieces that show various aspects of life in the Mississippi
Valley. Here you will find examples of farm life, religion, and politics
in the new states west of the mountains.

A Husking Bee in Ohio

William Cooper Howells, the author of the next selection, was the father
of a famous magazine editor and novelist, William Dean Howells. The
elder Howells was taken to Ohio from England as a child and grew up on a
farm while Ohio was a new state. His memories come from _Recollections
of Life in Ohio from 1813 to 1840_.

  One of the gatherings for joint work, which has totally disappeared
  from the agriculture of modern times, and one that was always a jolly
  kind of affair, was the cornhusking. It was a sort of harvest home in
  its department, and it was the more jolly because it was a gathering
  with very little respect to persons, and embraced in the invitation
  men and big boys, with the understanding that no one would be
  unwelcome. There was always a good supper served at the husking, and
  as certainly a good appetite to eat it with. It came at a plentiful
  season, when the turkeys and chickens were fat, and a fat pig was at
  hand, to be flanked on the table with good bread in various forms,
  turnips and potatoes from the autumn stores, apple and pumpkin pies,
  good coffee and the like. And the cooking was always well done, and
  all in such bountiful abundance that no one feared to eat, while many
  a poor fellow was certain of a square meal by being present at a
  husking. You were sure to see the laboring men of the vicinity out,
  and the wives of a goodly number of farm hands would be on hand to
  help in the cooking and serving at the table. The cornhusking has been
  discontinued because the farmers found out that it was less trouble to
  husk it in the field, direct from the stalk, than to gather in the
  husk and go over it again. But in that day they did not know that much
  and therefore took the original method of managing their corn crop,
  which was this: as soon as the grain began to harden they would cut
  the stalks off just above the ears and save these tops for fodder, and
  if they had time they stripped all the blades off the stalks below the
  ears, which made very nice though costly feed. Then, as barn room was
  not usually over plenty, they made a kind of frame of poles, as for a
  tent, and thatched it, sides and top, with the corn tops placed with
  the tassel downward, so as to shed the rain and snow. This was called
  the fodder-house and was built in the barnyard. Inside they would
  store the blades in bundles, the husks, and the pumpkins that were
  saved for use in the winter. The fodder-house was commonly made ten
  feet high and as long as was necessary, and it was used up through the
  winter by feeding the fodder to the cattle, beginning at the back,
  which would be temporarily closed by a few bundles of the tops. It
  would thus serve as a protection for what might be stored in it till
  all was used up. The fodder-house was, of all things, a favorite place
  for the children to hide in and play. When the season for gathering
  the corn came the farmers went through the fields and pulled off the
  ears and husks together, throwing them upon the ground in heaps,
  whence they were hauled into the barnyard and there piled up in a neat
  pile of convenient length, according to the crop, and say four or five
  feet high, rising to a sharp peak from a base of about six feet. Care
  was taken to make this pile of equal width and height from end to end,
  so that it would be easily and fairly divided in the middle by a rail
  laid upon it.

  When the husking party had assembled they were all called out into
  line, and two fellows, mostly ambitious boys, were chosen captains.
  These then chose their men, each calling out one of the crowd
  alternately, till all were chosen. Then the heap was divided, by two
  judicious chaps walking solemnly along the ridge of the heap of corn,
  and deciding where the dividing rail was to be laid, and, as this had
  to be done by starlight or moonlight at best, it took considerable
  deliberation, as the comparative solidity of the ends of the heap and
  the evenness of it had to be taken into account. This done, the
  captains placed a good steady man at each side of the rail, who made
  it a point to work through and cut the heap in two as soon as
  possible; and then the two parties fell to husking, all standing with
  the heap in front of them, and throwing the husked corn on to a clear
  place over the heap, and the husks behind them. From the time they
  began till the corn was all husked at one end, there would be steady
  work, each man husking all the corn he could, never stopping except to
  take a pull at the stone jug of inspiration that passed occasionally
  along the line; weak lovers of the stuff were sometimes overcome,
  though it was held to be a disgraceful thing to take too much. The
  captains would go up and down their lines and rally their men as if in
  a battle, and the whole was an exciting affair.

  As soon as one party got done, they raised a shout, and hoisting their
  captain on their shoulders, carried him over to the other side with
  general cheering. Then would come a little bantering talk and
  explanation why the defeated party lost, and all would turn to and
  husk up the remnants of the heap. All hands would then join to carry
  the husks into the fodder-house. The shout at hoisting the captain was
  the signal for bringing the supper on the table, and the huskers and
  the supper met soon after. These gatherings often embraced forty or
  fifty men. If the farmhouse was small it would be crowded, and the
  supper would be managed by repeated sittings at the table. At a large
  house there was less crowding and more fun, and if, as was often the
  case, some occasion had been given for an assemblage of the girls of
  the neighborhood, and particularly if the man that played the fiddle
  should attend, after the older men had gone, there was very apt to be
  a good time. There was a tradition that the boys who accidentally
  husked a red ear and saved it would be entitled to a kiss from
  somebody. But I never knew it to be necessary to produce a red ear to
  secure a kiss where there was a disposition to give or take one.

Religion in Tennessee

Religion played an important part in the lives of frontier settlers.
Instead of the stern Puritanism of colonial New England, the religion of
the West in the early years of the last century was highly evangelistic.
By this time, the Methodist movement had made a large number of converts
and was particularly strong on the frontier. One tireless Methodist
preacher was Lorenzo Dow, often known as “Crazy Dow,” who traveled
throughout the United States during a long ministry. Though he lived
until 1834, the selection that follows comes from his journal of 1804,
when he visited Tennessee at the age of 27. He was then traveling about
ten thousand miles a year by horse and on foot over trails and primitive
roads. This selection is particularly interesting for its account of a
backwoods religious fervor, almost a physical affliction, described by
Dow as the _jerks_.

  Next day I rode forty-five miles in company with Dr. Nelson across the
  dismal Allegheny mountains by the warm springs, and on the way a young
  man, a traveller, came in (where I breakfasted gratis at an inn) and
  said that he had but three sixteenths of a dollar left, having been
  robbed of seventy-one dollars on the way; and he being far from home,
  I gave him half of what I had with me.

  My horse having a navel gall come on his back, I sold him with the
  saddle, bridle, cloak and blanket, etc., on credit for about three
  fourths of the value, with uncertainty whether I should ever be paid:
  thus I crossed the river French Broad in a canoe and set out for my
  appointment; but fearing I should be behind the time, I hired a man
  (whom I met on the road with two horses) to carry me five miles in
  haste for three shillings; which left me but one sixteenth of a
  dollar. In our speed he observed there was a nigh way by which I could
  clamber the rocks and cut off some miles: so we parted; he having not
  gone two thirds of the way yet insisted on the full sum.

  I took to my feet the nigh way as fast as I could pull on, as
  intricate as it was, and came to a horrid ledge of rocks on the bank
  of the river where there was no such thing as going round; and to
  clamber over would be at the risk of my life, as there was danger of
  slipping into the river. However, being unwilling to disappoint the
  people, I pulled off my shoes, and with my handkerchief fastened them
  about my neck, and creeping upon my hands and feet with my fingers and
  toes in the cracks of the rocks with difficulty I got safe over. In
  about four miles I came to a house and hired a woman to take me over
  the river in a canoe, for my remaining money and a pair of scissors;
  the latter of which was the chief object with her: so our extremities
  are other’s opportunities. Thus with difficulty I got to my
  appointment in Newport in time.

  I had heard about a singularity called the _jerks_ or _jerking
  exercise_, which appeared first near Knoxville in August last, to the
  great alarm of the people; which reports at first I considered as
  vague and false. But at length, like the Queen of Sheba, I set out to
  go and see for myself and sent over these appointments into this
  country accordingly.

  When I arrived in sight of this town, I saw hundreds of people
  collected in little bodies; and observing no place appointed for
  meeting, before I spoke to any, I got on a log and gave out an hymn;
  which caused them to assemble round, in solemn attentive silence. I
  observed several involuntary motions in the course of the meeting,
  which I considered as a specimen of the jerks. I rode seven miles
  behind a man across streams of water and held meeting in the evening,
  being ten miles on my way.

  In the night I grew uneasy, being twenty-five miles from my
  appointment for next morning at eleven o’clock; I prevailed on a young
  man to attempt carrying me with horses until day, which he thought was
  impracticable, considering the darkness of the night and the thickness
  of the trees. Solitary shrieks were heard in these woods, which he
  told me were said to be the cries of murdered persons. At day we
  parted, being still seventeen miles from the spot, and the ground
  covered with a white frost. I had not proceeded far before I came to a
  stream of water from the springs of the mountain, which made it
  dreadful cold; in my heated state I had to wade this stream five times
  in the course of about an hour, which I perceived so affected my body
  that my strength began to fail. Fears began to arise that I must
  disappoint the people, till I observed some fresh tracks of horses
  which caused me to exert every nerve to overtake them in hopes of aid
  or assistance on my journey, and soon I saw them on an eminence. I
  shouted for them to stop, till I came up; they inquired what I wanted;
  I replied I had heard there was meeting at Seversville by a stranger
  and was going to it. They replied that they had heard that a crazy man
  was to hold forth there and were going also; and perceiving that I was
  weary, they invited me to ride, and soon our company was increased to
  forty or fifty who fell in with us on the road, from different
  plantations. At length I was interrogated, whether I knew anything
  about the preacher. I replied. “I have heard a good deal about him,
  and have heard him preach, but I have no great opinion of him.” And
  thus the conversation continued for some miles before they found me
  out, which caused some color and smiles in the company.

  Thus I got on to meeting, and after taking a cup of tea gratis, I
  began to speak to a vast audience; and I observed about thirty to have
  the _jerks_. Though they strove to keep still as they could, these
  emotions were involuntary, and irresistible, as any unprejudiced eye
  might discern. Lawyer Porter (who had come a considerable distance)
  got his heart touched under the word and being informed how I came to
  meeting, voluntarily lent me a horse to ride near one hundred miles
  and gave me a dollar, though he had never seen me before.

  Hence to Marysville, where I spoke to about one thousand five hundred;
  and many appeared to feel the word, but about fifty felt the jerks. At
  night I lodged with one of the Nicholites, a kind of Quakers who do
  not feel free to wear coloured clothes. I spoke to a number of people
  at his house that night. Whilst at tea I observed his daughter (who
  sat opposite to me at the table) to have the jerks; and dropped the
  tea cup from her hand in the violent agitation. I said to her, “Young
  woman, what is the matter?” She replied, “I have got the jerks.” I
  asked her how long she had it? She observed “a few days” and that it
  had been the means of the awakening and conversion of her soul by
  stirring her up to serious consideration about her careless state,

  Sunday, February 19th, I spoke in Knoxville to hundreds more than
  could get into the court house, the Governor being present. About one
  hundred and fifty appeared to have jerking exercise, among whom was a
  circuit preacher (Johnson) who had opposed them a little before, but
  he now had them powerfully; and I believe he would have fallen over
  three times had not the auditory been so crowded that he could not,
  unless he fell perpendicularly.

  After meeting I rode eighteen miles to hold meeting at night. The
  people of this settlement were mostly Quakers; and they had said (as I
  was informed) the Methodists and Presbyterians have the _jerks_
  because they _sing_ and _pray_ so much, but we are a still peaceable
  people, wherefore we do not have them. However, about twenty of them
  came to meeting, to hear one, as was said, somewhat in a Quaker line,
  but their usual stillness and silence was interrupted; for about a
  dozen of them had the jerks as keen and as powerful as any I had seen,
  so as to have occasioned a kind of grunt or groan when they would
  jerk. It appears that many have undervalued the great revival, and
  attempted to account for it altogether on natural principles;
  therefore it seems to me (from the best judgment I can form) that God
  hath seen proper to take this method, to convince people, that he will
  work in a way to show his power; and sent the _jerks_ as a sign of the
  times, partly in judgment for the people’s unbelief, and yet as a
  mercy to convict people of divine realities.

Davy Crockett Runs for Office

Davy Crockett, who describes himself as an “ignorant backwoods
bearhunter,” was just another poor frontier boy until he got into
politics. Then he served in the state legislature and later in Congress.
He became the fair-haired boy of Whig politicians when he broke with
Andrew Jackson, his fellow Tennessee Democrat. Subsequently, his
backwoods humor, tall tales, and picturesque personality were exploited
by Whig journalists, and Crockett became a sort of folklore hero.

But Tennessee Democrats would not tolerate his desertion of their party
and turned him out of office. After that, he went to Texas and died, as
everyone remembers, during the heroic defense of the Alamo. The
following selection is taken from _A Narrative of the Life of Davy
Crockett_, which passes for his autobiography but which undoubtedly was
ghostwritten for him. This account describes with typical frontier
exaggeration Crockett’s first campaign for office.

  In a little time I was asked to offer for the Legislature in the
  counties of Lawrence and Heckman. I offered my name in the month of
  February, and started about the first of March with a drove of horses
  to the lower part of the State of North Carolina. This was in the year
  1821, and I was gone upwards of three months. I returned, and set out
  electioneering, which was a brand-fire new business to me. It now
  became necessary that I should tell the people something about the
  government, and an eternal sight of other things that I knowed nothing
  more about than I did about Latin, and law, and such things as that. I
  have said before that in those days none of us called General Jackson
  the government [_Jackson was not yet President, and Crockett was still
  a Democrat_], nor did he seem in as fair a way to become so as I do
  now; but I knowed so little about it, that if any one had told me he
  was “the government,” I should have believed it, for I had never read
  even a newspaper in my life, or anything else, on the subject. But
  over all my difficulties, it seems to me I was born for luck, though
  it would be hard for any one to guess what sort. I will, however,
  explain that hereafter.

  I went first into Heckman county, to see what I could do among the
  people as a candidate. Here they told me that they wanted to move
  their town nearer to the centre of the county, and I must come out in
  favor of it. There’s no devil if I knowed what this meant, or how the
  town was to be moved; and so I kept dark, going on the identical same
  plan that I now find is called “_noncommittal_.” About this time there
  was a great squirrel hunt on Duck River, which was among my people.
  They were to hunt two days; then to meet and count the scalps, and
  have a big barbecue, and what might be called a tip-top country
  frolic. The dinner, and a general treat, was all to be paid for by the
  party having taken the fewest scalps. I joined one side, taking the
  place of one of the hunters, and got a gun ready for the hunt. I
  killed a great many squirrels, and when we counted scalps, my party
  was victorious.

  The company had every thing to eat and drink that could be furnished
  in so new a country, and much fun and good humor prevailed. But before
  the regular frolic commenced, I mean the dancing, I was called on to
  make a speech as a candidate; which was a business I was as ignorant
  of as an outlandish Negro.

  A public document I had never seen, nor did I know there were such
  things; and how to begin I couldn’t tell. I made many apologies, and
  tried to get off, for I know’d I had a man to run against who could
  speak prime, and I know’d, too, that I wasn’t able to shuffle and cut
  with him. He was there, and knowing my ignorance as well as I did
  myself, he also urged me to make a speech. The truth is, he thought my
  being a candidate was a mere matter of sport; and didn’t think for a
  moment that he was in any danger from an ignorant backwoods bear
  hunter. But I found I couldn’t get off, and so I determined just to go
  ahead, and leave it to chance what I should say. I got up and told the
  people I reckoned they know’d what I come for, but if not, I could
  tell them. I had come for their votes, and if they didn’t watch mighty
  close I’d get them too. But the worst of all was, that I could not
  tell them anything about government. I tried to speak about something,
  and I cared very little what, until I choked up as bad as if my mouth
  had been jamm’d and cramm’d chock full of dry mush. There the people
  stood, listening all the while, with their eyes, mouths, and ears all
  open, to catch every word....

  At last I told them I was like a fellow I had heard of not long
  before. He was beating on the head of an empty barrel near the
  road-side, when a traveler, who was passing along, asked him what he
  was doing that for? The fellow replied that there was some cider in
  that barrel a few days before, and he was trying to see if there was
  any then, but if there was he couldn’t get at it. I told them that
  there had been a little bit of speech in me a while ago, but I
  believed I couldn’t get it out. They all roared out in a mighty laugh,
  and I told some other anecdotes, equally amusing to them, and
  believing I had them in a first-rate way, I quit and got down,
  thanking the people for their attention. But I took care to remark
  that I was as dry as a powder-horn, and that I thought it was time for
  us all to wet our whistles a little; and so I put off to the liquor
  stand, and was followed by the greater part of the crowd.

  I felt certain this was necessary, for I knowed my competitor could
  open government matters to them as easy as he pleased. He had,
  however, mighty few left to hear him, as I continued with the crowd,
  now and then taking a horn, and telling good-humored stories, till he
  was done speaking. I found I was good for the votes at the hunt, and
  when we broke up I went on to the town of Vernon, which was the same
  [_town_] they wanted me to move. Here they pressed me again on the
  subject, and I found I could get either party by agreeing with them.
  But I told them I didn’t know whether it would be right or not, and so
  couldn’t promise either way.

  Their court commenced on the next Monday, as the barbecue was on a
  Saturday, and the candidates for Governor, and for Congress, as well
  as my competitor and myself, all attended.

  The thought of having to make a speech made my knees feel mighty weak,
  and set my heart to fluttering almost as bad as my first love scrape
  with the Quaker’s niece. But as good luck would have it, these big
  candidates spoke nearly all day, and when they quit, the people were
  worn out with fatigue, which afforded me a good apology for not
  discussing the government. But I listened mighty close to them, and
  was learning pretty fast about political matters. When they were all
  done, I got up and told some laughable story, and quit. I found I was
  safe in those parts, and so I went home, and did not go back again
  till after the election was over. But to cut this matter short, I was
  elected, doubling my competitor, and nine votes over.

Early Days in Illinois

Morris Birkbeck was an Englishman who came to the United States and
settled in southeastern Illinois where he founded the town of Albion.
His account of the people and life in Illinois in 1817, just before it
became a state, is good reporting. He has a sharp eye for detail, and
because he was fresh from Europe, he sees and records the contrasts
between the Midwestern backwoods and the Old World. The following
selection comes from his book, _Notes on a Journey in America, from the
Coast of Virginia to the Territory of Illinois_.

  _August 1._ Dagley’s, twenty miles north of Shawnee Town. After
  viewing several beautiful prairies, so beautiful with their
  surrounding woods as to seem like the creation of fancy, gardens of
  delight in a dreary wilderness, and after losing our horses and
  spending two days in recovering them, we took a hunter as our guide
  and proceeded across the Little Wabash to explore the country between
  that river and the Skillet-fork.

  Since we left the Fox settlement, about fifteen miles north of the Big
  Prairie, cultivation has been very scanty, many miles intervening
  between the little “clearings.” This may therefore be truly called a
  new country.

  These lonely settlers are poorly off—their bread corn must be ground
  thirty miles off, requiring three days to carry to the mill and bring
  back the small horse-load of three bushels. Articles of family
  manufacture are very scanty, and what they purchase is of the meanest
  quality and excessively dear: yet they are friendly and willing to
  share their simple fare with you. It is surprising how comfortable
  they seem, wanting everything. To struggle with privations has now
  become the habit of their lives, most of them having made several
  successive plunges into the wilderness, and they begin already to talk
  of selling their “improvements” and getting still farther “back” on
  finding that emigrants of another description are thickening about

  Our journey across the Little Wabash was a complete departure from all
  mark of civilization. We saw no bears, as they are now buried in the
  thickets, and seldom appear by day; but, at every few yards, we saw
  recent marks of their doings, “wallowing” in the long grass or turning
  over decayed logs in quest of beetles or worms, in which work the
  strength of this animal is equal to that of four men. Wandering
  without track, where even the sagacity of our hunter-guide had nearly
  failed us, we at length arrived at the cabin of another hunter, where
  we lodged.

  This man and his family are remarkable instances of the effect on the
  complexion produced by the perpetual incarceration [_imprisonment_] of
  a thorough woodland life. Incarceration may seem to be a term less
  applicable to the condition of a roving backwoodsman than to any
  other, and especially unsuitable to the habits of this individual and
  his family; for the cabin in which he entertained us is the third
  dwelling he has built within the last twelve months, and a very
  slender motive would place him in a fourth before the ensuing winter.
  In his general habits the hunter ranges as freely as the beasts he
  pursues; labouring under no restraint, his activity is only bounded by
  his own physical powers: still he is incarcerated—“Shut from the
  common air.” Buried in the depth of a boundless forest, the breeze of
  health never reaches these poor wanderers; the bright prospect of
  distant hills fading away into the semblance of clouds, never cheered
  their sight. They are tall and pale, like vegetables that grow in a
  vault, pining for light....

  Our stock of provisions being nearly exhausted, we were anxious to
  provide ourselves with a supper by means of our guns, but we could
  meet with neither deer nor turkey; however, in our utmost need, we
  shot three raccoons, an old one to be roasted for our dogs and the two
  young ones to be stewed up daintily for ourselves. We soon lighted a
  fire and cooked the old raccoon for the dogs; but famished as they
  were, they would not touch it, and their squeamishness so far abated
  our relish for the promised stew that we did not press our complaining
  landlady to prepare it; and thus our supper consisted of the residue
  of our “corn” bread and _no_ raccoon. However, we laid our bear skins
  on the filthy earth (floor there was none), which they assured us was
  “too damp for fleas,” and wrapped in our blankets slept soundly
  enough; though the collops [_slices_] of venison hanging in comely
  rows in the smoky fireplace and even the shoulders put by for the dogs
  and which were suspended over our heads would have been an acceptable
  prelude to our night’s rest, had we been invited to partake of them;
  but our hunter and our host were too deeply engaged in conversation to
  think of supper. In the morning the latter kindly invited us to cook
  some of the collops, which we did by toasting them on a stick, and he
  also divided some shoulders among the dogs; so we all fared

  The cabin, which may serve as a specimen of these rudiments of houses,
  was formed of round logs with apertures of three or four inches
  between. No chimney, but large intervals between the “clapboards” for
  the escape of the smoke. The roof was, however, a more effectual
  covering than we have generally experienced, as it protected us very
  tolerably from a drenching night. Two bedsteads of unhewn logs and
  cleft boards laid across; two chairs, one of them without a bottom,
  and a low stool were all the furniture required by this numerous
  family. A string of buffalo hide stretched across the hovel was a
  wardrobe for their rags; and their utensils, consisting of a large
  iron pot, some baskets, the effective rifle and two that were
  superannuated [_too old to use_], stood about in corners, and the
  fiddle, which was only silent when we were asleep, hung by them.

            Ominous Loomings: The Missouri Compromise, 1820

When the War of 1812 ended, the United States consisted of eighteen
states—nine free and nine slave. Very soon Indiana was admitted as a
free state, offset by Mississippi as a slave state. It was inevitable
that this precarious balance between the North and the South would some
day cause trouble, and the trouble came very soon. In 1818, Illinois
entered as a free state, and the enabling legislation to admit Missouri
was introduced in Congress in 1819.

The South assumed that Missouri would be a slave state, but a New York
Congressman amended the Missouri statehood bill to provide for gradual
freeing of the slaves there. The South reacted vigorously to keep from
losing its equal representation in the Senate and blocked passage of the
bill. Meanwhile, Alabama came in to balance Illinois, and there were
eleven northern and eleven southern states.

The following year, when Maine applied for admission into the Union,
Henry Clay of Kentucky engineered the famous Missouri Compromise. This
agreement provided that Missouri would come in as a slave state but that
no more slave states would be admitted from territory north of
Missouri’s southern boundary. This compromise is important because it
foreshadows the struggle between the North and South that eventuated in
the Civil War a generation later. Although most of the oratory dealt
with the slavery issue, the struggle also concerned the broader matter
of political control in the West.

Representative Arthur Livermore Argues Against Extending Slavery

The following selections illustrate the debate in Congress over the
Missouri question. The first speech is by Congressman Arthur Livermore
of New Hampshire against the extension of slavery.

  I propose to show what slavery is, and to mention a few of the many
  evils which follow in its train; and I hope to evince that we are not
  bound to tolerate the existence of so disgraceful a state of things
  beyond its present extent, and that it would be impolitic and very
  unjust to let it spread over the whole face of our Western territory.
  Slavery in the United States is the condition of man subjected to the
  will of a master who can make any disposition of him short of taking
  away his life. In those States where it is tolerated, laws are enacted
  making it penal to instruct slaves in the art of reading, and they are
  not permitted to attend public worship or to hear the Gospel preached.

  Thus the light of science and of religion is utterly excluded from the
  mind, that the body may be more easily bowed down to servitude. The
  bodies of slaves may, with impunity, be prostituted to any purpose and
  deformed in any manner by their owners. The sympathies of nature in
  slaves are disregarded; mothers and children are sold and separated;
  the children wring their little hands and expire in agonies of grief,
  while the bereft mothers commit suicide in despair. How long will the
  desire of wealth render us blind to the sin of holding both the bodies
  and souls of our fellow-men in chains!

  But, sir, I am admonished of the Constitution, and told that we cannot
  emancipate slaves. I know we may not infringe that instrument, and
  therefore do not propose to emancipate slaves. The proposition before
  us goes only to prevent our citizens from making slaves of such as
  have a right to freedom. In the present slaveholding States let
  slavery continue, for our boasted Constitution connives at it; but do
  not, for the sake of cotton and tobacco, let it be told to future ages
  that, while pretending to love liberty, we have purchased an extensive
  country to disgrace it with the foulest reproach of nations.

  Our Constitution requires no such thing of us. The ends for which that
  supreme law was made are succinctly stated in its preface. They are,
  first, to form a more perfect union and insure domestic tranquility.
  Will slavery effect this? Can we, sir, by mingling bond with free,
  black spirits with white, like Shakespeare’s witches in Macbeth, form
  a more perfect union and insure domestic tranquility? Secondly, to
  establish justice. Is justice to be established by subjecting half
  mankind to the will of the other half? Justice, sir, is blind to
  colors, and weighs in equal scales the rights of all men, whether
  white or black. Thirdly, to provide for the common defense and secure
  the blessings of liberty. Does slavery add anything to the common
  defense? Sir, the strength of a republic is in the arm of freedom.
  But, above all things, do the blessings of liberty consist in slavery?

Senator James Barbour Defends Slavery

In the second selection we have chosen, Senator James Barbour of
Virginia defends slavery:

  The gentleman from Pennsylvania asks shall we suffer Missouri to come
  into the Union with this savage mark [_of slavery_] on her
  countenance? I appeal to that gentleman to know whether this be
  language to address to an American Senate, composed equally of members
  from States precisely in that condition that Missouri would be in,
  were she to tolerate slavery. Are these sentiments calculated to
  cherish that harmony and affection so essential to any beneficial
  results from our Union? But, sir, I will not imitate this course, and
  I will strive to repress the feeling which such remarks are calculated
  to awaken.

  ... They assure us that they do not mean to touch this property
  [_slavery_] in the old states.... What kind of ethics is this that is
  bounded by latitude and longitude, which is inoperative on the left,
  but is omnipotent on the right bank of a river? Such a doctrine is
  well calculated to excite our solicitude; for, although the gentlemen
  who now hold it are sincere in their declarations, and mean to content
  themselves with a triumph in this controversy, what security have we
  that others will not apply it to the South generally?

  Let it not, however, be supposed that in the abstract I am advocating
  slavery. Like all other human things, it is mixed with good and
  evil—the latter, no doubt, preponderating.... Whether slavery was
  ordained by God Himself in a particular revelation to His chosen
  people, or whether it be merely permitted as a part of that moral evil
  which seems to be the inevitable portion of man, are questions I will
  not approach; I leave them to the casuists [_debaters_] and the
  divines [_preachers_]. It is sufficient for us, as statesmen, to know
  that it has existed from the earliest ages of the world, and that to
  us has been assigned such a portion as, in reference to their number
  and the various considerations resulting from a change of their
  condition, no remedy, even plausible, has been suggested, though
  wisdom and benevolence united have unceasingly brooded over the

  However dark and inscrutable may be the ways of heaven, who is he that
  arrogantly presumes to arraign [_challenge_] them? The same mighty
  power that planted the greater and the lesser luminary in the heavens
  permits on earth the bondsman and the free. To that Providence, as men
  and Christians, let us bow. If it be consistent with His will, in the
  fullness of time, to break the fetter of the slave, He will raise up
  some Moses to be their deliverer. To him commission will be given to
  lead them up out of the land of bondage.

Representative James Stevens Argues for the Compromise

In the final selection James Stevens, Representative from Connecticut,
pleads with Congress to accept the Compromise:

  I have listened with pain to the very long, protracted debate that has
  been had on this unfortunate question. I call it unfortunate, sir,
  because it has drawn forth the worst passions of man in the course of
  the discussion....

  If the deadliest enemy this country has, or ever had, could dictate
  language the most likely to destroy your glory, prosperity, and
  happiness, would it not be precisely what has been so profusely used
  in this debate—sectional vaunting?... Indeed, sir, there is no view of
  this unhappy division of our country but must be sickening to the
  patriot and in direct violation of the dictate of wisdom, and the
  last, though not least, important advice of the Father and Friend of
  his Country. He forbids the use of the words Northern and Southern,
  Atlantic and Western, as descriptive of the various parts of your

  But, sir, we have now arrived at a point at which every gentleman
  agrees something must be done. A precipice lies before us at which
  perdition [_ruin_] is inevitable. Gentlemen on both sides of this
  question, and in both Houses, indoors and out of doors, have evinced a
  determination that augurs ill of the high destinies of this country!
  And who does not tremble for the consequences?...

  I wish not to be misunderstood, sir. I don’t pretend to say that in
  just five calendar months your Union will be at an end;...

  But, sir, I do say, and, for the verity of the remark, cite the
  lamentable history of our own time, that the result of a failure to
  compromise at this time, in the way now proposed, or in some other way
  satisfactory to both, would be to create ruthless hatred, irradicable
  jealousy, and a total forgetfulness of the ardor of patriotism, to
  which, as it has heretofore existed, we owe, under Providence, more
  solid national glory and social happiness than ever before was
  possessed by any people, nation, kindred, or tongue under Heaven.

                          The Monroe Doctrine

Although the United States was mainly concerned with internal problems
during Monroe’s presidency, there was one important policy established
during this period in the area of foreign relations. This was the Monroe
Doctrine. It was a statement of policy made by the President in a
message to Congress in 1823, which defined the role of the United States
in international affairs and which, in some respects, is still vital
United States policy.

The Doctrine states that the United States will not tolerate further
foreign colonial expansion by European powers in North or South America.
This policy was necessary because Spain’s colonies in Latin America had
recently revolted, and it looked as though the other European powers
might try to reconquer Spain’s former colonies. In addition, Russia was
moving southward from Alaska and claiming land down to the 51st
parallel, which would have taken in much of what is now British
Columbia. The Monroe Doctrine also declares that the United States will
not interfere with existing European colonies in the Americas nor with
the internal affairs of European nations. In the following selection we
reprint part of the Monroe Doctrine.

Excerpts from the Monroe Doctrine

  In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to themselves
  we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy so
  to do. It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced
  that we resent injuries or make preparation for our defense. With the
  movements in this hemisphere we are of necessity more immediately
  connected, and by causes which must be obvious to all enlightened and
  impartial observers....

  We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing
  between the United States and those powers to declare that we should
  consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any
  portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With
  the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have
  not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments who
  have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose
  independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles,
  acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of
  oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by
  any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an
  unfriendly disposition toward the United States.

  In the war between those new Governments and Spain we declared our
  neutrality at the time of their recognition, and to this we have
  adhered, and shall continue to adhere, provided no change shall occur
  which, in the judgment of the competent authorities of this
  Government, shall make a ... change on the part of the United States
  indispensable to their security....

  Our policy in regard to Europe, which was adopted at an early stage of
  the wars which have so long agitated that quarter of the globe,
  nevertheless remains the same, which is, not to interfere in the
  internal concerns of any of its powers; to consider the government _de
  facto_ [_actually ruling_] as the legitimate government for us; to
  cultivate friendly relations with it, and to preserve those relations
  by a frank, firm, and manly policy, meeting in all instances the just
  claims of every power, submitting to injuries from none. But in regard
  to those continents circumstances are eminently and conspicuously

  It is impossible that the allied powers should extend their political
  system to any portion of either continent [_North or South America_]
  without endangering our peace and happiness; nor can anyone believe
  that our southern brethren, if left to themselves, would adopt it of
  their own accord. It is equally impossible, therefore, that we should
  behold such interposition in any form with indifference.

                           John Quincy Adams

                   [Illustration: John Quincy Adams]

                         Lighthouses in the Sky

John Quincy Adams, who succeeded James Monroe as President in 1825, was
the son of John Adams, the second President. He too had served a long
apprenticeship in government, having been Senator, minister to Great
Britain and Russia, and Secretary of State. Although he served only one
term and was defeated for re-election by Andrew Jackson, he was a
forward-looking President. We illustrate his interest in science and the
internal development of the United States by a portion of his first
message to Congress. He begins with a plea that the object of government
is to improve the lot of the people. He favors roads and canals, but
even more, moral and intellectual improvements.

Excerpts from Adams’ First Message to Congress

  Upon this first occasion of addressing the Legislature of the Union,
  with which I have been honored, in presenting to their view the
  execution so far as it has been effected of the measures sanctioned by
  them for promoting the internal improvement of our country, I can not
  close the communication without recommending to their calm and
  persevering consideration the general principle in a more enlarged

  Among the first, perhaps the very first, instrument for the
  improvement of the conditions of men is knowledge, and to the
  acquisition of much of the knowledge adapted to the wants, the
  comforts, and enjoyments of human life public institutions and
  seminaries of learning are essential. So convinced of this was the
  first of my predecessors in this office [_George Washington_], now
  first in the memory, as, living, he was first in the hearts, of our
  countrymen, that once and again in his addresses to the Congresses
  with whom he co-operated in the public service he earnestly
  recommended the establishment of seminaries of learning, to prepare
  for all the emergencies of peace and war—a national university and a
  military academy. With respect to the latter, had he lived to the
  present day, in turning his eyes to the institution at West Point he
  would have enjoyed the gratification of his most earnest wishes; but
  in surveying the city which has been honored with his name he would
  have seen the spot of earth which he had destined and bequeathed to
  the use and benefit of his country as the site for an university still
  bare and barren.

  In assuming her station among the civilized nations of the earth it
  would seem that our country had contracted the engagement to
  contribute her share of mind, of labor, and of expense to the
  improvement of those parts of knowledge which lie beyond the reach of
  individual acquisition, and particularly to geographical and
  astronomical science. Looking back to the history only of the half
  century since the declaration of our independence, and observing the
  generous emulation with which the Governments of France, Great
  Britain, and Russia have devoted the genius, the intelligence, the
  treasures of their respective nations to the common improvement of the
  species in these branches of science, is it not incumbent upon us to
  inquire whether we are not bound by obligations of a high and
  honorable character to contribute our portion of energy and exertion
  to the common stock?...

  In inviting the attention of Congress to the subject of internal
  improvements upon a view thus enlarged it is not my design to
  recommend the equipment of an expedition for circumnavigating the
  globe for purposes of scientific research and inquiry. We have objects
  of useful investigation nearer home, and to which our cares may be
  more beneficially applied. The interior of our own territories has yet
  been very imperfectly explored. Our coasts along many degrees of
  latitude upon the shores of the Pacific Ocean, though much frequented
  by our spirited commercial navigators, have been barely visited by our
  public ships....

  The establishment of an uniform standard of weights and measures was
  one of the specific objects contemplated in the formation of our
  Constitution, and to fix that standard was one of the powers delegated
  by express terms in that instrument to Congress. The Governments of
  Great Britain and France have scarcely ceased to be occupied with
  inquiries and speculations on the same subject since the existence of
  our Constitution, and with them it has expanded into profound,
  laborious, and expensive researches into the figure of the earth and
  the comparative length of the pendulum vibrating seconds in various
  latitudes from the equator to the pole....

  Connected with the establishment of an university, or separate from
  it, might be undertaken the erection of an astronomical observatory,
  with provision for the support of an astronomer, to be in constant
  attendance of observation upon the phenomena of the heavens, and for
  the periodical publication of his observations. It is with no feeling
  of pride as an American that the remark may be made that on the
  comparatively small territorial surface of Europe there are existing
  upward of 130 of these light-houses of the skies, while throughout the
  whole American hemisphere there is not one. If we reflect a moment
  upon the discoveries which in the last four centuries have been made
  in the physical constitution of the universe by the means of these
  buildings and of observers stationed in them, shall we doubt of their
  usefulness to every nation? And while scarcely a year passes over our
  heads without bringing some new astronomical discovery to light, which
  we must fain receive at second hand from Europe, are we not cutting
  ourselves off from the means of returning light for light while we
  have neither observatory nor observer upon our half of the globe and
  the earth revolves in perpetual darkness to our unsearching eyes?

             [Illustration: The Lewis and Clark expedition]

                          Transcriber’s Notes

--Retained publication information from the printed edition: this eBook
  is public-domain in the country of publication.

--Silently corrected a few palpable typos, leaving period spellings

--In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by

--Added subheadings in the text to match entries in the Table of

--Added captions to illustrations based on the attributions in front

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