HotFreeBooks.com
My Native Land
by James Cox
1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

MY NATIVE LAND.



The United States: its Wonders, its Beauties, and its People; with Descriptive Notes, Character Sketches, Folk Lore, Traditions, Legends and History, for the Amusement of the Old and the Instruction of the Young.

BY

JAMES COX,

Author of "Our Own Country," "Missouri at the World's Fair," "Old and New St. Louis," "An Arkansas Eden," "Oklahoma Revisited," Etc.

"Breathes there a man with soul so dead Who never to himself has said, This is my own, my native land."

PROFUSELY ILLUSTRATED.

1903



CONTENTS

CHAPTER I.

OUR NATION'S BIRTH.

The Story of Liberty Bell—Impartial Opinions on the Revolutionary War—The Shot that was Heard Around the World—The First Committee of Safety—A Defeat which Equaled a Victory—Washington's Earnestness—To Congress on Horseback—The First 4th of July Celebration.

CHAPTER II.

THE WITCH OF SALEM.

A Relic of Religious Bigotry—Parson Lawson's Tirade against Witchcraft—Extraordinary Court Records of Old Puritan Days—Alleged Supernatural Conjuring—A Man and his Wife both put to Death—Crushed for Refusing to Plead—A Romance of the Old Days of Witch Persecution.

CHAPTER III.

IN PICTURESQUE NEW YORK.

Some Local Errors Corrected—A Trip Down the Hudson River—The Last of the Mohicans—The Home of Rip Van Winkle—The Ladies of Vassar and their Home—West Point and its History—Sing Sing Prison—The Falls of Niagara—Indians in New York State.

CHAPTER IV.

IN THE CENTER OF THE COUNTRY.

The Geographical Center of the United States, and its Location West of the Mississippi River—The Center of Population—History of Fort Riley—The Gallant "Seventh"—Early Troubles of Kansas—Extermination of the Buffalo—But a Few Survivors out of Many Millions.

CHAPTER V.

THE MORMONS AND THEIR WIVES.

The Pilgrimage Across the Bad Lands to Utah—Incidents of the March—Success of the New Colony—Religious Persecutions—Murder of an Entire Family—The Curse of Polygamy—An Ideal City—Humors of Bathing in Great Salt Lake.

CHAPTER VI.

THE INVASION OF OKLAHOMA.

A History of the Indian Nation—Early Struggles of Oklahoma Boomers—Fight between Home-Seekers and Soldiers—Scenes at the Opening of Oklahoma Proper—A Miserable Night on the Prairie—A Race for Homes—Lawlessness in the Old Indian Territory.

CHAPTER VII.

COWBOYS—REAL AND IDEAL.

A Much Maligned Class—The Cowboy as he Is, and as he is Supposed to be—Prairie Fever and how it is Cured—Life on the Ranch Thirty Years Ago and Now—Singular Fashions and Changes of Costume—Troubles Encountered by would-be Bad Men.

CHAPTER VIII.

WARDS OF OUR NATIVE LAND.

The Indians' Admirers and Critics—At School and After—Indian Courtship and Marriage—Extraordinary Dances—Gambling by Instinct—How "Cross-Eye" Lost his Pony—Pawning a Baby—Amusing and Degrading Scenes on Annuity Day.

CHAPTER IX.

CIVILIZATION—ACTUAL AND ALLEGED.

Tried in the Balances and Found Wanting—Indian Archers—Bow and Arrow Lore—Barbarous Customs that Die Slowly—"Great Wolf," the Indian Vanderbilt—How the Seri were Taught a Valuable Lesson—Playing with Rattlesnakes with Impunity.

CHAPTER X.

OLD TIME COMMUNISTS.

Houses on Rocks and Sand Hills—How Many Families Dwelt Together in Unity—Peculiarities of Costumes—Pueblo Architecture and Folk Lore—A Historic Struggle and how it Ended—Legends Concerning Montezuma—Curious Religious Ceremonies.

CHAPTER XI.

HOW CUSTER LIVED AND DIED.

"Remember Custer"—An Eye-Witness of the Massacre—Custer, Cody and Alexis—A Ride over the Scenes of the Unequal Conflict—Major Reno's Marked Failure—How "Sitting Bull" Ran Away and Lived to Fight Another Day—Why a Medicine Man did not Summon Rain.

CHAPTER XII.

AMONG THE CREOLES.

Meaning of the word "Creole"—An Old Aristocratic Relic—The Venice of America—Origin of the Creole Carnivals—Rex and his Annual Disguises—Creole Balls—The St. Louis Veiled Prophets—The French Market and other Landmarks in New Orleans—A Beautiful Ceremony and an Unfinished Monument.

CHAPTER XIII.

THE HEATHEN CHINEE IN HIS ELEMENT.

A Trip to Chinatown, San Francisco—A House with a History—Narrow Alleys and Secret Doors—Opium Smoking and its Effects—The Highbinders—Celestial Theatricals—Chinese Festivals—The Brighter Side of a Great City—A Mammoth Hotel and a Beautiful Park.

CHAPTER XIV.

BEFORE EMANCIPATION AND AFTER.

First Importation of Negro Slaves into America—The Original Abolitionists—A Colored Enthusiast and a Coward—Origin of the word "Secession"—John Brown's Fanaticism—Uncle Tom's Cabin—Faithful unto Death—George Augustus Sala on the Negro who Lingered too long in the Mill Pond.

CHAPTER XV.

OUR NATIONAL PARK.

A Delightful Rhapsody—Early History of Yellowstone Park—A Fish Story which Convulsed Congress—The First White Man to Visit the Park—A Race for Life—Philosophy of the Hot Springs—Mount Everts—From the Geysers to Elk Park—Some Old Friends and New Ones—Yellowstone Lake—The Angler's Paradise.

CHAPTER XVI.

THE HEROES OF THE IRON HORSE.

Honor to whom Honor is Due—A Class of Men Not Always Thoroughly Appreciated at their Worth—An Amateur's Ride on a Flying Locomotive—From Twelve Miles an Hour to Six Times that Speed—The Signal Tower and the Men who Work in it—Stealing a Train—A Race with Steam—Stories about Bewitched Locomotives and Providential Escapes.

CHAPTER XVII.

A RAILROAD TO THE CLOUDS.

Early History of Manitou—Zebulon Pike's Important Discovery—A Young Medicine Man's Peril and Final Triumph—A Health Resort in Years Gone By—The Garden of the Gods—The Railroad up Pike's Peak—Early Failures and Final Success—The Most Remarkable Road in the World—Riding Above the Clouds.

CHAPTER XVIII.

INTO THE BOWELS OF THE EARTH.

The Grand Canon of the Colorado—Niagara Outdone—The Course of the Colorado River—A Survey Party Through the Canon—Experiences of a Terrible Night—Wonderful Contrasts of Color in the Massive Rocks—A Natural Wall a Thousand Feet High—Hieroglyphics which have Never been Deciphered—Relics of a Superior Race—Conjecture as to the Origin of the Ancient Bearded White Men.

CHAPTER XIX.

OUR GREAT WATERWAYS.

Importance of Rivers to Commerce a Generation Ago—The Ideal River Man—The Great Mississippi River and its Importance to our Native Land—The Treacherous Missouri—A First Mate who Found a Cook's Disguise very Convenient—How a Second Mate got over the Inconvenience of Temporary Financial Embarrassment.

CHAPTER XX.

THROUGH THE GREAT NORTHWEST.

The Importance of Some of our Newest States—Romantic History of Montana—The Bad Lands and their Exact Opposite—Civilization Away Up in the Mountains—Indians who have Never Quarreled with White Men—Traditions Concerning Mount Tacoma—Wonderful Towns of the Extreme Northwest—A State Shaped like a Large Chair—The Falls of Shoshone.

CHAPTER XXI.

IN THE WARM SOUTHEAST.

Florida and its Appropriate Name—The First Portions of North America Discovered by White Men—Early Vicissitudes of its Explorers—An Enormous Coast Line—How Key West came to be a great Cigar Town—The Suwanee River—St. Augustine and its World-Renowned Hotel—Old Fort Marion.

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

Statue to Minute Man Interior of Independence Hall, Philadelphia Tomb of General Grant, Riverside Park A Memory of Rip Van Winkle The Exact Center of United States Brigham Young's Grave, Salt Lake City Chief Rain-in-the-Face and his Favorite Pony The Cowboy as He Is Civilized Indians An Uncivilized Savage The Belle of the Pueblo Custer Battlefield and Monument The Old French Market at New Orleans The Prettiest Chinese Woman in America Yellowstone Falls In and Around Yellowstone Park A Marvel of Magnificence Climbing Pike's Peak by Rail Hieroglyphic Memoirs of Past Ages A Fin de Siecle Pleasure Steamer Whaleback Steamer on the Lakes Two Views of Mount Tacoma A Restful Southern Home



MY NATIVE LAND.



CHAPTER I.

OUR NATION'S BIRTH.

The Story of Liberty Bell—Impartial Opinions on the Revolutionary War—The Shot that was Heard Around the World—The First Committee of Safety—A Defeat which Equaled a Victory—Washington's Earnestness—To Congress on Horseback—The First 4th of July Celebration.

It was not until April 19th, 1775, that the shot was fired which was "heard around the world." But the struggle for American Independence was really started nearly a quarter of a century earlier, when on the afternoon of August 27th, 1753, Liberty Bell was rung to call together the Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania.

In the old days of town meetings, training days, town schools and Puritans, bells took a more prominent part in public affairs than they do to-day. It was usual to call the people together for purposes of deliberation by means of a village or town bell, and of these bells the one to which we refer was the most important and interesting. Liberty Bell is well named. It was ordered in the year 1751, and it was delivered a year later. Shortly afterwards, it cracked, and had to be recast, but in June, 1753, it was finally hung in the Pennsylvania State House at Philadelphia. It has never been removed from the building except on two occasions. The first of these was in 1777, when it was taken to Allentown for safety, and the second in 1885, when it was exhibited at New Orleans.

This bell, which sounded the death-blow to tyranny and oppression, was first rung to call together the Assembly, which immediately resolved to insist upon certain rights which had been denied the colonists by the British Crown. Eighteen months later, it was again rung to announce the meeting at which the rights of the colonists were sternly defined and insisted upon. In 1765, it convened the meeting of the Assembly at which it was resolved to be represented at the Congress of the Colonies in New York, and a month later it was muffled and tolled when the "Royal Charlotte" arrived, bearing the much hated stamps, whose landing was not permitted. Again it rang muffled, when the Stamp Act went into operation, and when the people publicly burned stamp papers. In 1768, the Liberty Bell called a meeting of the men of Philadelphia, who protested once again against the oppression of government without representation. In 1771, it called the Assembly together to petition the King of England for the repeal of the duty on tea, and two years later it summoned together the largest crowd ever seen in Philadelphia up to that date. At that meeting it was resolved that the ship "Polly," loaded with tea, should not be allowed to land.

In 1774, the bell was muffled and tolled on the closing of the Port of Boston, and in the following year it convened the memorable meeting following the battle of Lexington. On this occasion 8,000 people assembled in the State House yard and unanimously agreed to associate for the purpose of defending, with arms, their lives, liberty and property against all attempts to deprive them of them. In June, 1776, Liberty Bell announced the submission to Congress of the draft of the Declaration of Independence, and on July 4th of the same year, the same bell announced the signing of the Declaration. On July 8th of the same year, the bell was tolled vigorously for the great proclamation of America's Independence. The tolling was suspended while the Declaration was read, and was once more rung when that immortal document had been thus formally promulgated.

In April, 1783, Liberty Bell rang the proclamation of Peace, and on July 4th, 1826, it ushered in the year of Jubilee.

The last tolling of the bell was in July, 1835, when, while slowly tolling, and without any apparent reason, the bell, which had played such an important part in the War of Independence, and in the securing of liberty for the people of this great country, parted through its side, making a large rent, which can still be clearly seen. It was as though the bell realized that its great task was accomplished, and that it could leave to other and younger bells, the minor duties which remained to be performed.

This is not a history of the United States, but is rather a description of some of the most interesting and remarkable features to be found in various parts of it. It is difficult, however, to describe scenes and buildings without at least brief historical reference, and as we present an excellent illustration of the apartment in which the Declaration of Independence was signed, we are compelled to make a brief reference to the circumstances and events which preceded that most important event in the world's history.

As we have seen, the conflict between the home country and the colonies commenced long before there was any actual outbreak. As Mr. Thomas Wentworth Higginson so graphically expresses it, the surrender of Canada to England by France in 1763 suddenly opened men's eyes to the fact that British America had become a country so large as to make England seem ridiculously small. Even the cool-headed Dr. Franklin, writing that same year to Mary Stevenson in London, spoke of England as "that stone in a brook, scarce enough of it above water to keep one's shoes dry." A far-seeing French statesman of the period looked at the matter in the same way. Choiseul, the Prime Minister who ceded Canada, claimed afterwards that he had done it in order to destroy the British nation by creating for it a rival. This assertion was not made till ten years later, and may very likely have been an afterthought, but it was destined to be confirmed by the facts.

We have now to deal with the outbreak of a contest which was, according to the greatest of the English statesmen of the period, "a most accursed, wicked, barbarous, cruel, unnatural, unjust, and diabolical war." No American writer ever employed to describe it a combination of adjectives so vigorous as those brought together by the elder Pitt, afterwards Lord Chatham. The rights for which Americans fought seemed to him to be the common rights of Englishmen, and many Englishmen thought the same.

On the other hand, we are now able to do justice to those American Loyalists who honestly believed that the attempt at independence was a mad one, and who sacrificed all they had rather than rebel against their King. Massachusettensis, the well-known Tory pamphleteer, wrote that the annals of the world had not been deformed with a single instance of so unnatural, so causeless, so wanton, so wicked a rebellion.

These strong epithets used on both sides show how strangely opinions were divided as to the rebellion and its causes. Some of the first statesmen of England defended the colonists, and some of the best known men in the colonies defended England.

The City of Boston at this time had a population of about seventeen thousand, as compared with some half a million to-day. In its garrison there were three thousand British troops, and the laws of Parliament were enforced rigidly. The city suffered temporary commercial death in consequence, and there were the most vigorous efforts made to prevent an open outbreak of hostilities. In January, 1775, a conflict was barely averted at Marshfield, and in the following month the situation was so strained at Salem that nothing but great forbearance and presence of mind on the part of the colonists prevented bloodshed. The Boston massacre of less than five years before was still uppermost in men's thoughts, and it was determined that the responsibility of the first shot in the war, if war there must be, should rest with the Royal troops.

Accordingly, the colonists accepted insult and abuse until they were suspected by the British troops of cowardice. One officer wrote home telling his friends that there was no danger of war, because the colonists were bullies, but not fighters, adding that any two regiments ought to be decimated which could not beat the entire force arrayed against them. But the conflict could not be long delayed. It was on April 18th, 1775, that Paul Revere rode his famous ride. He had seen the two lights in a church steeple in Boston, which had been agreed upon as a signal that the British troops were about to seize the supplies of the patriots at Concord. Sergeant Monroe's caution against making unnecessary noise, was met by his rejoinder, "You will have noise enough here before long—the regulars are coming out."

Then he commenced his ride for life, or, rather, for the lives of others. We all know the result of his ride, and how church bells were tolled and signal shots fired to warn the people that the soldiers were coming. It was a night of tumult and horror, no one knowing what brutality they had to expect from the now enraged British soldiers. The women of the towns, warned by the pre-arranged signals, hurried their children from their homes, and fled to farm houses, and even barns in the vicinity. Before daybreak the British troops had reached Lexington Green. Here they found Captain Parker and 38 men standing up before twenty times that number of armed troops, indifferent as to their fate, but determined to protect their cause and their friends. The Captain's words have passed into history. They took the form of an order to the men:

"Don't fire unless you are fired on; but, if they want a war, let it begin here."

History tells us of few such unequal contests as this. The troops fired on the gallant little band, and seven of their number were killed. The fight at Concord followed, when 450 Americans met the British troops at the North Bridge, where

"Once the embattled farmers stood, And fired the shot heard around the world."

The British detachment was beaten back in disorder, but the main body was too strong to be attacked. The minute men, however, made a most magnificent fight, and at the close of the day they had killed 273 British soldiers, only 93 of their own number being among the killed or missing.

Thus commenced the War of Independence, the event being described by Dr. Joseph Warren in a document of sufficient interest to warrant its reproduction in full.

"The barbarous murders committed on our innocent brethren," wrote the doctor, "have made it absolutely necessary that we immediately raise an army to defend our wives and our children from the butchering hands of an inhuman soldiery, who, incensed at the obstacles they met with in their bloody progress, and enraged at being repulsed from the field of slaughter, will, without the least doubt, take the first opportunity in their power to ravage this devoted country with fire and sword. We conjure you, therefore, by all that is dear, by all that is sacred, that you give all assistance possible in forming an army. Our all is at stake. Death and devastation are the instant consequences of delay. Every moment is infinitely precious. An hour lost may deluge our country in blood, and entail perpetual slavery upon the few of your posterity who may survive the carnage. We beg and entreat, as you will answer to your country, to your own consciences, and, above all, as you will answer to God himself, that you will hasten and encourage, by all possible means, the enlistment of men to form an army, and send them forward to headquarters at Cambridge, with that expedition which the vast importance and instant urgency of the affair demand."

Two days after the fight, the Massachusetts Committee of Safety resolved to enlist 8,000 men, an event which our old friend Liberty Bell celebrated by a vigorous tolling. All over the colonies a spirit of determination to resist spread like lightning, and the shot that was heard around the world was certainly heard very distinctly in every nook and corner of New England, and of the old Atlantic States. Naturally, there was at first a lack of concentration and even of discipline; but what was lacking in these features was more than made up for by bravery and determination. As John Adams wrote in 1818, the army at Cambridge at this time was not a National army, for there was no nation. It was not even an army of the United Colonies, because the Congress at Philadelphia had not adopted or acknowledged the army at Cambridge. It was not even the New England army, for each State had its separate armies, which had united to imprison the British army in Boston. There was not even the Commander-in-Chief of the allied armies.

These anomalies, of course, righted themselves rapidly. Gage's proclamation of martial law expedited the battle at Bunker Hill, which was brought about by the impatience of the British troops, and by the increased confidence among the colonists, resulting from the fights at Lexington and Concord. It is true, of course, that the untrained American troops failed to vanquish the British army at Bunker Hill, but the monument at that spot celebrates the fact that for two hours the attacks of the regulars were withstood. A prominent English newspaper described the battle as one of innumerable errors on the part of the British. As William Tudor wrote so graphically, "The Ministerial troops gained the hill, but were victorious losers. A few more such victories and they are undone." Many writers have been credited with the authorship of a similar sentiment, written from the American standpoint. "It is true that we were beaten, but it will not take many such defeats to accomplish a magnificent victory."

What began to be known as the great American army increased in strength. It was adopted by Congress, and George Washington placed in command. Under the historic elm tree at Cambridge, Mass., which was the scene of so many important councils in the first hours of the life of the United States, he assumed the authority bestowed upon him with this office, and a week later he held a council with his officers. He found some 17,000 men at his command, whom he described as a mixed multitude of people under very little discipline.

William Emerson, grandfather of the great poet, in a soliloquy on the strange turn events had taken, said "Who would have thought, twelve months past, that all Cambridge and Charleston would be covered over with American camps and cut up into forts and entrenchments, and all the lands, fields and orchards laid common, with horses and cattle feeding on the choicest mowing land, and large parks of well-regulated locusts cut down for firewood. This, I must say, looks a little melancholy. It is very diverting to walk among the camps. They are as different in their look as the owners are in their dress, and every tent is a portraiture of the temper and tastes of the persons who encamp in it. Some are made of boards and some of sailcloth; some partly of one and some partly of the other; again, others are made of stone and turf, brick or brush. Some are thrown up in a hurry, others curiously wrought with doors and windows, done with wreaths and withes, in the manner of a basket. Some are proper tents, looking like the regular camp of the enemy. In these are the Rhode Islanders, who are furnished with tent equipages and everything in the most exact English style. However, I think this great variety is rather a beauty than a blemish in the army."

As was to be expected, there was more or less of a lack of harmony and unity among the companies of men collected together to form an army to fight for liberty. History tells us that there was even a little jealousy between the four New England colonies. There was also a good deal of distrust of Washington. It was argued that at least one-third of the class from which he came had Tory and Royalist inclinations, and what guarantee had they that Washington was not one of their number? Washington himself found that those who styled themselves in old country parlance "The Gentry," were loyal to King George rather than to the colonies, and while his own men were inclined, at times, to doubt the sincerity of the Father of his Country, the very men with whom he was suspected of being in sympathy were denouncing him with vigor.

Washington, to his lasting credit be it said, was indifferent both to praise and censure. Seeing that discipline was the one thing needful, he commenced to enforce it with an iron hand. He declined any remuneration, and gave his services freely to the cause. He found himself short of ammunition, and several times he lost a number of his men. In the spring of 1776, Washington went to New York with his Continental army. Here he found new difficulties, and met with a series of mishaps. The failure of the advance into Canada during the winter had hurt materially, but the bravery of the troops in the Carolinas came as a grand encouragement.

We need not trace further the progress of the war, or note how, through many discouragements and difficulties, the cause of right was made to triumph over the cause of might. We will pass on to note a few of the interesting facts in connection with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. To-day, our Senators and Congressmen travel to the National Capital in Pullman cars, surrounded by every luxury that wealth and influence can bring them.

In the days of the Continental Congress it required a good deal more nerve to fulfill one's duty. The delegate had to journey to Congress on horseback. Sometimes he could find a little country inn at which he could sleep at night, but at others he had to camp in the open as best he could. Frequently a friendly warning would cause him to make a detour of several miles in order to escape some threatened danger, and, altogether, his march to the capital was far from being triumphant.

At this particular period the difficulties were more than usually great. The delegates arrived at Philadelphia jaded and tired. They found stable room for their horses, made the best toilet possible, and found their way at once to Independence Hall, where opinions were exchanged. On the 7th of June, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia submitted a series of resolutions, under the instructions of the Virginia Assembly—resolutions which, it may be stated, pledged the colonies to carry on the war until the English were entirely driven out of the country. Congress declared deliberately that the United States was absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and it then proceeded to burn its bridges, by declaring the expediency of taking effectual measures for forming foreign alliances. John Adams seconded the resolutions, which were not passed without debate.

Delegates from New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina opposed the proposition very vigorously, one member stating that it required the impudence of a New Englander for them, in their disjointed state, to propose a treaty to a nation now at peace; that no reason could be assigned for pressing this measure but the reason of every madman—a show of spirit. John Adams defended the resolutions, claiming that they proclaimed objects of the most stupendous magnitude, in which the lives and liberties of millions yet unborn were infinitely interested. Finally, the consideration was postponed, to be passed almost unanimously on July 2d. John Adams was most enthusiastic over this result, and, writing to his wife on the subject, he said:

"The 2d day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as a day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward, forevermore."

But although the day referred to by John Adams saw the thirteen colonies become independent States, it is July the 4th that the country celebrates. On that day the Declaration of Independence was promulgated. This marvelous document was prepared by Jefferson in a small brick house, which then stood out in the fields, but which is now known as the southwest corner of Market and Seventh Streets, Philadelphia. It is situated within about four hundred yards of Independence Square. In his little room in this house, on a very small writing desk, which is still in existence, Jefferson drafted the title deed of our liberties. He wrote without reference of any kind, merely placing upon paper the succession of thoughts which had been paramount in his mind for years. In the original document, as submitted by Jefferson, there appeared a stern condemnation of the "piratical warfare against human nature itself," as slavery was described. This was stricken out by Congress, and finally the document, as amended, was adopted by the vote of twelve colonies, New York declining to vote.

We give an illustration of the Interior of Independence Hall. Here it was that the Declaration was signed. According to some authorities the signing did not take place on July 4th, while according to others it did. Some records seem to show that fifty-four of the fifty-six names were attached to the parchment on August 2d. Jefferson frequently stated that the signing of the Declaration was hastened by a very trivial circumstance. Near the Hall there was a large stable, where flies abounded. All the delegates wore silk stockings, and were thus in a condition to be easily annoyed by flies. The heat was intolerable, and a tremendous invasion by the little pests, who were not retarded by fly screens or mosquito bars, drove the legislators almost frantic, and caused them to append their signatures to the document with almost indecent haste.

However this may be, the Declaration was finally signed, and Liberty Bell proclaimed the fact to all within hearing. John Hancock, we are told, referred to his almost schoolboy signature with a smile, saying that John Bull could read his name without spectacles. Franklin is said to have remarked that they must all hang together, or else most assuredly they would all hang separately—a play upon words showing that the patriot's sense of humor was too admirably developed to be dimmed even by an event of this magnitude.

There were rejoicings on every hand that the great act had been accomplished. A very pleasing story tells of how an aged bell-ringer waited breathlessly to announce to waking thousands the vote of Congress. This story has since been denied, and it seems evident that the vote was not announced until the following day, when circulars were issued to the people. On July 6th, the Declaration was printed in a Philadelphia newspaper, and on the 8th, John Nixon read the Declaration in the yard of Independence Hall. On the same day, the Royal Arms over the door of the Supreme Court Room were torn down, and the trophies thus secured burned.

The first 4th of July celebration of which we have any record, took place two years after the signing. General Howe had left the city shortly before, and every one was feeling bright and happy. In the diary of one of the old patriots who took part in this unique celebration, appears the following quaint, and even picturesque, description of the events of the day:

"On the glorious 4th of July (1778), I celebrated in the City Tavern, with my brother delegates of Congress and a number of other gentlemen, amounting, in whole, to about eighty, the anniversary of Independency. The entertainment was elegant and well conducted. There were four tables spread; two of them extended the whole length of the room; the other two crossed them at right angles. At the end of the room, opposite the upper table, was erected an Orchestra. At the head of the upper table, and at the President's right hand, stood a large baked pudding, in the center of which was planted a staff, on which was displayed a crimson flag, in the midst of which was this emblematic device: An eye, denoting Providence; a label, on which was inscribed, 'An appeal to Heaven;' a man with a drawn sword in his hand, and in the other the Declaration of Independence, and at his feet a scroll inscribed, 'The declaratory acts.' As soon as the dinner began, the music, consisting of clarionets, hautboys, French horns, violins and bass-viols, opened and continued, making proper pauses, until it was finished. Then the toasts, followed by a discharge of field-pieces, were drank, and so the afternoon ended. On the evening there was a cold collation and a brilliant exhibition of fireworks. The street was crowded with people during the exhibition.

"What a strange vicissitude in human affairs! These, but a few years since colonies of Great Britain, are now free, sovereign, and independent States, and now celebrate the anniversary of their independence in the very city where, but a day or two before, General Howe exhibited his ridiculous Champhaitre."

Independence Hall remains to-day in a marvelous state of preservation. At the great Centennial Exposition, held to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the events to which we have alluded in this chapter, tens of thousands of people passed through the room in which the Declaration of Independence was signed, and gazed with mingled feelings upon the historical bell, which, although it had long outlived its usefulness, had in days gone by done such grand proclaiming of noble truth, sentiment and action. Up to quite a recent date, justice was administered in the old building, but most of the courts have now been moved to the stately structure modern Philadelphia is now erecting at the cost of some $16,000,000.

Independence Hall and Independence Square are lovingly cared for, and visitors from all nations are careful to include them both in their tour of sight-seeing while in this country. Within the Hall they find old parchments and Eighteenth Century curiosities almost without number, and antiquarians find sufficient to interest and amuse them for several days in succession. Every lover of his native land, no matter what that land may be, raises his hat in reverence when in this ancient and memory-inspiring building, and he must be thoughtless, indeed, who can pass through it without paying at least a mental tribute of respect to the memories of the men who were present at the birth of the greatest nation the world has ever seen, and who secured for the people of the United States absolute liberty.

The illustration of the interior of Independence Hall on page 17, was furnished for use in this work by the National Company of St. Louis, publishers of "Our Own Country," a large work descriptive of a tour throughout the most picturesque sections of the United States. The letter-press in "Our Own Country" was written by the author of this work, and it is one of the finest tributes to the picturesqueness of America that has ever been published. Other illustrations in this work were also kindly supplied by the same publishing house.



CHAPTER II.

THE WITCHES OF SALEM.

A Relic of Religious Bigotry—Parson Lawson's Tirade Against Witchcraft—Extraordinary Court Records of Old Puritan Days—Alleged Supernatural Conjuring—A Man and his Wife both put to Death—Crushed for Refusing to Plead—A Romance of the Old Days of Witch Persecution.

Among the curiosities of New England shown to tourists and visitors, is the original site of some of the extraordinary trials and executions for witchcraft in the town of Salem, now known as Danvers, Mass. Looking back upon the events of two hundred years ago, the prosecution of the alleged witches appears to us to have been persecution of the most infamous type. The only justification for the stern Puritans is the fact that they inherited their ideas of witchcraft and its evils from their forefathers, and from the country whence most of them came.

One of the earliest precepts of religious bigotry was, "Thou shalt not allow a witch to live," and from time immemorial witchcraft appears to have been a capital offense. It is on record that thousands of people have, from time to time, been legally murdered for alleged intercourse and leaguing with the Evil One. The superstition seems to have gained force rather than lost it by the spread of early Christianity. As a rule, the victims of the craze were women, and the percentage of aged and infirm women was always very large. One of the greatest jurists of England, during the Seventeenth Century, condemned two young girls to the gallows for no other offense than the alleged crime of having exerted a baneful influence over certain victims, and having, what would be called in certain districts, "hoodooed" them.

In Scotland the craze was carried to still further lengths. To be accused of witchcraft was to be condemned as a matter of course, and the terrible death of burning at the stake was the invariable sentence. Most of the victims made imaginary confessions, preferring to die at once than to be tortured indefinitely. In the year 1716, a wealthy lady and her nine-year-old daughter were hanged for witchcraft, and even thirty or forty years later the records of Great Britain are sullied by another similar case of persecution.

These unsavory records are given in order to correct a misapprehension as to the part the old Puritans took in the persecutions. Many people seriously believed that the idea of witchcraft, as a capital offense, originated in Salem, and attribute to the original witch-house the reputation of having really given birth to a new superstition and a new persecution. As we have seen, this is entirely erroneous. The fact that the Puritans copied a bad example, instead of setting a new one, should, at least, be remembered in palliation of the unfortunate blot upon their otherwise clean escutcheon.

In the year 1704, one Deodat Lawson, minister at Salem during the last sixteen or seventeen years of the Seventeenth Century, published a remarkable work, entitled "Christ's Fidelity, the only Shield against Satan's Malignity." In this work appears a record of the so-called calamity at Salem, which the author tells us was afflicted, about the year 1692, "with a very sore and grievous infliction, in which they had reason to believe that the Sovereign and Holy God was pleased to permit Satan and his instruments to affright and afflict those poor mortals in such an astonishing and unusual manner."

The record of Parson Lawson is so realistic and emblematic of the times in which he lived, that we reproduce some of his own expressions. Thus, he says, "Now, I having for some time before attended the work of the Ministry in Salem Village, the report of those great afflictions came quickly to my notice, the more so, because the first person afflicted was in the minister's family, who succeeded me after I was removed from them. In pity, therefore, to my Christian friends and former acquaintance there, I was much concerned about them, frequently consulted with them, and (by Divine assistance) prayed for them; but especially my concern was augmented when it was reported at an examination of a person suspected for witchcraft, that my wife and daughter, who died three years before, were sent out of the world under the malicious operations of the infernal powers, as is more fully represented in the following remarks. I did then desire, and was also desired by some concerned in the court, to be there present that I might hear what was alleged in that respect, observing, therefore, when I was amongst them, that the case of the afflicted was very amazing and deplorable, and the charges brought against the accused such as were grounds of suspicion, yet very intricate and difficult to draw up right conclusions about them. They affirmed that they saw the ghosts of several departed persons, who, at their appearing, did instigate them to discover such as (they said) were instruments to hasten their death, threatening sorely to afflict them if they did not make it known to the magistrates.

"They did affirm at the examination, and again at the trial of an accused person, that they saw the ghosts of his two wives (to whom he had acted very ill in their lives, as was proved by several testimonies), and also that they saw the ghosts of my wife and daughter (who died above three years before), and they did affirm that when the very ghosts looked on the prisoner at the bar they looked red, as if the blood would fly out of their faces with indignation at him. The manner of it was thus: Several afflicted being before the prisoner at the bar, on a sudden they fixed all their eyes together on a certain place on the floor before the prisoner, neither moving their eyes nor bodies for some few minutes, nor answering to any question which was asked them. So soon as that trance was over, some being out of sight and hearing, they were all, one after another, asked what they saw, and they did all agree that they saw those ghosts above mentioned. I was present and heard and saw the whole of what passed upon that account during the trial of that person who was accused to be the instrument of Satan's malice therein.

"Sundry pins have been taken out the wrists and arms of the afflicted, and one, in time of examination of a suspected person, had a pin run through both her upper and lower lip when she was called to speak, yet no apparent festering followed thereupon after it was taken out. Some of the afflicted, as they were striving in their fits in open court, have (by invisible means) had their wrists bound together with a real cord, so as it could hardly be taken off without cutting. Some afflicted have been found with their arms tied and hanged upon a hook, from whence others have been forced to take them down, that they might not expire in that posture. Some afflicted have been drawn under tables and beds by undiscerned force, so as they could hardly be pulled out. And one was drawn half way over the side of a well, and with much difficulty recovered back again. When they were most grievously afflicted, if they were brought to the accused, and the suspected person's hand but laid upon them, they were immediately relieved out of their tortures; but if the accused did but look on them, they were immediately struck down again. Wherefore, they used to cover the face of the accused while they laid their hands on the afflicted, and then it obtained the desired issue. For it hath been experienced (both in examinations and trials) that so soon as the afflicted came in sight of the accused, they were immediately cast into their fits. Yea, though the accused were among the crowd of people, unknown to the sufferers, yet on the first view they were struck down; which was observed in a child of four or five years of age, when it was apprehended that so many as she would look upon, either directly or by turning her head, were immediately struck into their fits.

"An iron spindle of a woolen wheel, being taken very strangely out of an house at Salem Village, was used by a spectre as an instrument of torture to a sufferer, not being discernible to the standers by until it was by the said sufferer snatched out of the spectre's hand, and then it did immediately appear to the persons present to be really the same iron spindle.

"Sometimes, in their fits, they have had their tongues drawn out of their mouths to a fearful length, their heads turned very much over their shoulders, and while they have been so strained in their fits, and had their arms and legs, etc., wrested as if they were quite dislocated, the blood hath gushed plentifully out of their mouths for a considerable time together; which some, that they might be satisfied that it was real blood, took upon their finger and rubbed on their other hand. I saw several together thus violently strained and bleeding in their fits, to my very great astonishment that my fellow mortals should be so grievously distressed by the invisible powers of darkness. For certainly all considerate persons who beheld these things must needs be convinced their motions in their fits were preternatural and involuntary, both as to the manner, which was so strange, as a well person could not (at least without great pain) screw their bodies into; and as to the violence, also, they were preternatural motions, being much beyond the ordinary force of the same persons when they were in their right minds. So that, being such grievous sufferers, it would seem very hard and unjust to censure them of consenting to or holding any voluntary converse or familiarity with the devil.

"Some of them were asked how it came to pass that they were not affrighted when they saw the Black-man. They said they were at first, but not so much afterwards. Some of them affirmed they saw the Black-man sit on the gallows, and that he whispered in the ears of some of the condemned persons when they were just ready to be turned off—even while they were making their last speech.

"Some of them have sundry times seen a White-man appearing among the spectres, and as soon as he appeared, the Black-Witches vanished; they said this White-man had often foretold them what respite they should have from their fits; as, sometimes, a day or two or more, which fell out accordingly. One of the afflicted said she saw him in her fit, and was with him in a glorious place, which had no candle or sun, yet was full of light and brightness, where there was a multitude in 'white, glittering robes,' and they sang the song in Rev. v, 9. She was both to leave that place and said: 'How long shall I stay here? Let me be along with you.' She was grieved she could stay no longer in that place and company.

"A young woman that was afflicted at a fearful rate had a spectre appear to her with a white sheet wrapped about it, not visible to the standers by, until this sufferer (violently striving in her fit) snatched at, took hold and tore off the corner of that sheet. Her father, being by her, endeavored to lay hold of it with her, that she might retain what she had gotten; but at the passing away of the spectre, he had such a violent twitch of his hand as it would have been torn off. Immediately thereupon appeared in the sufferer's hand the corner of a sheet, a real cloth, visible to the spectators, which (as it is said) remains still to be seen."

It was proved, the records of the time continue, by substantial evidences against one person accused, that he had such an unusual strength (though a very little man) that he could hold out a gun with one hand, behind the lock, which was near seven foot in the barrel, being such as a lusty man could command with both hands, after the usual manner of shooting. It was also proved that he lifted barrels of metal and barrels of molasses out of a canoe alone; and that, putting his fingers into a barrel of molasses, full within a finger's length, according to custom, he carried it several paces. And that he put his finger into the muzzle of a gun which was more than five foot in the barrel, and lifted up the butt end thereof, lock, stock and all, without any visible help to raise it. It was also testified that, being abroad with his wife and his wife's brother, he occasionally stayed behind, letting his wife and her brother walk forward; but, suddenly coming up with them, he was angry with his wife for what discourse had passed betwixt her and her brother. They wondering how he should know it, he said: "I know your thoughts," at which expression they, being amazed, asked him how he could do that, he said: "My God whom I serve makes known your thoughts to me."

Some affirmed that there were some hundreds of the society of witches, considerable companies of whom were affirmed to muster in arms by beat of drum. In time of examinations and trials, they declared that such a man was wont to call them together from all quarters to witch-meetings, with the sound of a diabolical trumpet.

Being brought to see the prisoners at the bar, upon their trials, they swore, in open court, that they had oftentimes seen them at witch meetings, "where was feasting, dancing and jollity, as also at devil sacraments, and particularly that they saw such a man amongst the accursed crew, and affirming that he did minister the sacrament of Satan to them, encouraging them to go on in their way, and that they should certainly prevail. They said, also, that such a woman was a deacon and served in distributing the diabolical element. They affirmed that there were great numbers of the witches."

With such sentiments as these prevailing, it is not at all remarkable that the alleged witches were treated with continual and conspicuous-brutality. One old lady of sixty, named Sarah Osburn, was hounded to death for being a witch. The poor old lady, who was in fairly good circumstances, and appears to have been of good character, was put upon her trial for witchcraft. For three days, more or less ridiculous testimony was given against her, and a number of little children, who had evidently been carefully coached, stated upon the stand that Mrs. Osburn had bewitched them. She was called upon by the court to confess, which she declined to do, stating that she was rather a victim than a criminal. She was sent to jail, and treated with so much brutality that she died before it was possible to execute her in the regulation manner.

Bridget Bishop was another of the numerous victims. The usual charges were brought against her, and she was speedily condemned to death. Before the sentence was executed, the custom of taking council with the local clergy was followed. These good men, while they counseled caution in accepting testimony, humbly recommended the government to the speedy and vigorous prosecution of such as "had rendered themselves obnoxious by infringing the wholesome statutes of the English Nation for the detection of witchcraft." Following this recommendation, double and treble hangings took place, and there was enough brutality to appease the appetite of the most vindictive and malicious.

Perhaps the most extraordinary record of witchcraft persecution at the end of the Seventeenth Century was that of Giles Corey and his wife Martha. The singular feature of the case is, that the husband had been one of the most enthusiastic declaimers against the unholy crime of witchcraft, while his good wife had been rather disposed to ridicule the idea, and to condemn the prosecutions as persecutions. She did her best to prevent Giles from attending trials, and one of the most serious charges against her was that on one occasion she hid the family saddle, so as to prevent her lord and master from riding to one of the examinations.

This attempt to assert woman's rights two hundred years ago was resented very bitterly, and two enthusiastic witch-hunters were sent to her house to entrap her into a confession. On the way they made inquiries, which resulted in their being able to patch up a charge against the woman for walking in ghostly attire during the night. When the detectives called at the house she told them she knew the object of their visit, but that she was no witch, and did not believe there was such a thing. The mere fact of her knowing the object of their visit was regarded as conclusive evidence against her, although a fair-minded person would naturally suggest that, in view of local sentiment, her guess was a very easy one. The poor woman was immediately arrested and placed on trial. Several little children were examined, and these shouted out in the witness-stand, that when the afflicted woman bit her lip in her grief, they were seized with bodily pains, which continued until she loosened her teeth. The chronicles of the court tell us, with much solemnity, that when the woman's hands were tied her victims did not suffer, but the moment the cords were removed they had fits.

Even her husband was called as a witness against her. His evidence does not appear to have been very important or relevant. But another witness, a Mrs. Pope, who appears to have been an expert in these matters, and to have been called at nearly every trial, took off her shoe in court and threw it at the prisoner's head, an act of indecorum which was condoned on the ground of the evident sincerity of the culprit. The poor woman was condemned, as a matter of course, and when she was removed to jail, a deputation from the church of which she was a member called upon her and excommunicated her. She mounted the ladder which led to the gallows with much dignity, and died without any attempt to prolong her life by a confession.

The fate of her husband was still more terrible. Notwithstanding his zeal, and the fact that he had given evidence against his own wife, he was arrested, charged with a similar offense. Whether hypnotic influences were exerted, or whether the examining justices merely imagined things against the prisoner, cannot be known at this time. The court records, however, state that while the witnesses were on the stand, they were so badly afflicted with fits and hurts, that the prisoner's hands had to be tied before they could continue their testimony. Unlike his wife, the poor man did not deny the existence of witchcraft, and merely whined out, in reply to the magistrate's censure, that he was a poor creature and could not help it. The evidence against him was very slight, indeed, and he was remanded to jail, where he lay unmolested, and apparently forgotten, for five or six months.

He was then excommunicated by his church, and brought before the court again. Sojourn in jail seems to have made the old man stubborn, for when he was once more confronted by his persecutors he declined to plead, on the ground that there was no charge against him. An old obsolete English law was revived against him, and the terrible sentence was pronounced that for standing mute he be remanded to the prison from whence he came and put into a low, dark chamber. There he was to be laid on his back, on the bare floor, without clothing. As great a weight of iron as he could bear was to be placed upon his body, and there to remain. The first day he was to have three morsels of bread, and on the second day three draughts of water, to be selected from the nearest pool that could be found. Thus was the diet to be alternated, day by day, until he either answered his accusation or died.

On September 19th, 1692, death came as a happy relief to the miserable man, who had begged the sheriff to add greater weights so as to expedite the end. This is the only case on record of a man having been "pressed to death" in New England for refusing to plead, or for any other offense. There are a few cases on record where this inhuman law was enforced previously in England, but it was always regarded as a relic of mediaeval barbarity, and the fact that it was revived in the witch persecutions is a very significant one. After his death, an attempt was made to justify the act by the statement that Corey himself had pressed a man to death. This justification appears feeble, and to be without any corroborative testimony.

Another very remarkable witch story has about it a tinge of romance, although the main facts actually occurred as stated. A sailor named Orcutt, left his sweetheart on one of his regular voyages, promising to return at an early date to claim his bride. The girl he left behind him, whose name was Margaret, appears to have been a very attractive, innocent young lady, who suffered considerably from the jealousy of a rival. Soon after the departure of her lover, the witch difficulty arose, and the young girl was much worried and grieved at what happened. On one occasion she happened to say to a friend that she was sorry for the unfortunate witches who were to be hanged on the following day. The friend appears to have been an enemy in disguise, and, turning to Margaret, told her that if she talked that way she would herself be tried as a witch. As an evidence of how vindictive justice was at this time, the poor girl was arrested by the sheriff on the following day, in the name of the King and Queen, on a charge of witchcraft. The young girl was led through the streets and jeered at by the crowd. Arrived at the court, her alleged friend gave a variety of testimony against her. The usual stories about aches and pains were of course told. Some other details were added. Thus, Margaret by looking at a number of hens had killed them. She had also been seen running around at night in spectral attire. The poor girl fainted in the dock, and this was regarded as a chastisement from above, and as direct evidence of her guilt. She was removed to the jail, where she had to lie on a hard bench, only to be dragged back into court the following day, to be asked a number of outrageous questions.

With sobs she protested her innocence, but as she did so, the witnesses against her called out that they were in torment, and that the very motion of the girl's lips caused them terrible pain. She was sentenced to be hanged with eight other alleged witches two days later, and was carried back, fainting, to her cell. In a few minutes the girl was delirious, and began to talk about her lover, and of her future prospects. Even her sister was not allowed to remain with her during the night, and the frail young creature was left to the tender mercies of heartless jailors.

A few hours before the time set for execution, young Orcutt sailed into the harbor, and before daybreak he was at the house. Here he learned for the first time the awful calamity which had befallen his sweetheart in his absence. At 7 o'clock he was allowed to enter the jail, with the convicted girl's sister. At the prison door they were informed that the wicked girl had died during the night. Knowing that there was no hope under any circumstances of the sentence being remitted, the bereaved ones regarded the news as good, and although they broke down with grief at the shipwreck of their lives, they both realized that, to use the devout words of the victim's sister, "The Lord had delivered her from the hands of her enemies."

The record of brutality in connection with the witch agitation might be continued almost without limit, for the number of victims was very great. Visitors to Danvers to-day are often shown by local guides where some of the tragedies of the persecution were committed. The superstition was finally driven away by educational enlightenment, and it seems astounding that it lasted as long as it did. Two hundred years have nearly elapsed since the craze died out, and it is but charitable to admit, that although many of the witnesses must have been corrupt and perjured, the majority of those connected with the cases were thoroughly in earnest, and that although they rejoiced at the undoing of the ungodly, they regretted very much being made the instruments of that undoing.



CHAPTER III.

IN PICTURESQUE NEW YORK.

Some Local Errors Corrected—A Trip Down the Hudson River—The Last of the Mohicans—The Home of Rip Van Winkle—The Ladies of Vassar and their Home—West Point and its History—Sing Sing Prison—The Falls of Niagara—Indians in New York State.

Residents in the older States of the East are frequently twitted with their ignorance concerning the newer States of the West, and of the habits and customs of those who, having taken Horace Greeley's advice at various times, turned their faces toward the setting sun, determined to take advantage of the fertility of the soil, and grow up with the country of which they knew but little.

It needs but a few days' sojourn in an Eastern city by a Western man to realize how sublimely ignorant the New Englander is concerning at least three-fourths of his native land. The writer was, on a recent occasion, asked, in an Eastern city, how he managed to get along without any of the comforts of civilization, and whether he did not find it necessary to order all of his clothing and comforts by mail from the East. When he replied that in the larger cities, at any rate, of the West, there were retail emporiums fully up to date in all matters of fashion and improvement, and caterers who could supply the latest delicacies in season at reasonable prices, an incredulous smile was the result, and regret was expressed that local prejudice and pride should so blind a man to the actual truth.

Yet there was no exaggeration whatever in the reply, as the experienced traveler knows well. Neither Chicago nor St. Louis are really in the West, so far as points of the compass are concerned, both of these cities being hundreds of miles east of the geographical center of the United States. But they are both spoken of as "out West," and are included in the territory in which the extreme Eastern man is apt to think people live on the coarsest fare, and clothe themselves in the roughest possible manner. Yet the impartial and disinterested New York or Boston man who visits either of these cities speedily admits that he frequently finds it difficult to believe that he is not in his own much loved city, so close is the resemblance in many respects between the business houses and the method of doing business. Denver is looked upon by the average Easterner almost in the light of a frontier city, away out in the Rockies, surrounded by awe-inspiring scenery, no doubt, but also by grizzly bears and ferocious Indians. San Francisco is too far away to be thought very intelligently, but a great many people regard that home of wealth and elegance as another extreme Western die-in-your-boots, rough-and-tumble city.

This ignorance, for it is ignorance rather than prejudice, results from the mania for European travel, which was formerly a characteristic of the Atlantic States, but which of recent years has, like civilization, traveled West. The Eastern man who has made money is much more likely to take his family on a European tour than on a trip through his native country. He incurs more expense by crossing the Atlantic, and although he adds to his store of knowledge by traveling, he does not learn matter of equal importance to him as if he had crossed the American continent and enlightened himself as to the men and manners in its different sections and States.

Nor is this sectional ignorance confined, by any means, to the East. People in the West are apt to form an entirely erroneous impression of Eastern States. The word, "East," to them conveys an impression of dense population, overcrowding, and manufacturing activity. That there are thousands and thousands of acres of scenic grandeur, as well as farm lands, in some of the most crowded States, is not realized, and that this is the case will be news to many. Last year a party of Western people were traveling to New York, and, on their way, ran through Pennsylvania, around the picturesque Horse Shoe Curve in the Alleghenies, and along the banks of the romantic and historic Susquehanna. A member of the party was seen to be wrapped in thought for a long time. He was finally asked what was worrying him.

"I was thinking," was his reply, "how singular it is that the Republican party ran up a majority of something like a hundred thousand at the election, and I was wondering where all the folks came from who did the voting. I haven't seen a dozen houses in the last hour."

Our friend was only putting into expression the thought which was indulged in pretty generally by the entire crowd. Those who were making the transcontinental trip for the first time marveled at the expanse of open country, and the exquisite scenery through which they passed; and they were wondering how they ever came to think that the noise of the hammer and the smoke of the factory chimney were part and parcel of the East, where they knew the money, as well as the "wise men," came from. The object of this book being to present some of the prominent features of all sections of the United States, it is necessary to remove, as far as possible, this false impression; and in order to do so, we propose to give a brief description of the romantic and historic River Hudson. This river runs through the great State of New York, concerning which the greatest ignorance prevails. The State itself is dwarfed, in common estimation, by the magnitude of its metropolis, and if the Greater New York project is carried into execution, and the limits of New York City extended so as to take in Brooklyn and other adjoining cities, this feeling will be intensified, rather than otherwise.

But "above the Harlem," to use an expression so commonly used when a political contest is on, there are thousands of square miles of what may be called "country," including picturesque mountains, pine lands which are not susceptible of cultivation, and are preserved for recreation and pleasure purposes, and fertile valleys, divided up into homesteads and farms.

It is through country such as this that the River Hudson flows. It rises in the Adirondack Mountains, some 300 miles from the sea, and more than 4,000 feet above its level. It acts as a feeder and outlet for numerous larger and smaller lakes. At first it is a pretty little brook, almost dry in summer, but noisy and turbulent in the rainy seasons. From Schroon Lake, near Saratoga, it receives such a large quantity of water that it begins to put on airs. It ceases to be a country brook and becomes a small river. A little farther down, the bed of the river falls suddenly, producing falls of much beauty, which vary in intensity and volume with the seasons.

At Glens Falls the upper Hudson passes through a long defile, over a precipice some hundred feet long. It was here that Cooper received much of his inspiration, and one of the most startling incidents in his "The Last of the Mohicans" is supposed to have been enacted at the falls. When Troy is reached, the river takes upon itself quite another aspect, and runs with singular straightness almost direct to New York harbor. Tourists delight to sail up the Hudson, and they find an immense quantity of scenery of the most delightful character, with fresh discoveries at every trip. Millionaires regard the banks of the Hudson as the most suitable spots upon which to build country mansions and rural retreats. Many of these mansions are surrounded by exquisitely kept grounds and beautiful parterres, which are in themselves well worth a long journey to see.

Beacon Island, a few miles below Albany, is pointed out to the traveler as particularly interesting, because four counties corner upon the river just across from it. The island has a history of more than ordinary interest. It used to be presided over by a patroon, who levied toll on all passing vessels. Right in the neighborhood are original Dutch settlements, and the descendants of the original immigrants hold themselves quite aloof from the English-speaking public. They retain the language, as well as the manners and customs, of Holland, and the tourist who strays among them finds himself, for the moment, distinctly a stranger in a strange land. The country abounds with legends and romances, and is literally honeycombed with historic memories.

The town of Hudson, a little farther down the river, is interesting because it was near here that Henry Hudson landed in September, 1609. He was immediately surrounded by Indians, who gave him an immense amount of information, and added to his store of experiences quite a number of novel ones. Here is the mouth of the Catskill River, with the wonderful Catskill Mountains in the rear. It will be news, indeed, to many of our readers that in these wild (only partially explored) mountains there are forests where bears, wild cats and snakes abound in large numbers.

Many people of comparative affluence reside in the hills, where there are hotels and pleasure resorts of the most costly character. During the storms of winter these lovers of the picturesque find themselves snowed in for several days at the time, and have a little experience in the way of frontier and exploration life.

The sunrises in the Catskills are rendered uniquely beautiful by the peculiar formation of the ground, and from the same reason the thunder storms are often thrilling in character and awful in their magnificence. Waterfalls of all sizes and kinds, brooks, with scenery along the banks of every description, forests, meadows, and lofty peaks make monotony impossible, and give to the Catskill region an air of majesty which is not easy to describe on paper.

Every visitor asks to be shown the immortalized bridge at Sleepy Hollow, and as he gazes upon it he thinks of Washington Irving's unrivaled description of this country. He speedily agrees with Irving that every change of weather, and indeed every hour of the day, produces some change in the magical hues and shapes of these mountains, and they are regarded by all the good wives far and near as perfect barometers. When the weather is fair and settled they are clothed in blue and purple, and print their bold outlines on the clear evening sky, but, sometimes, when the rear of the landscape is clear and cloudless, they will gather a hood of gray vapors which, in the last rays of the setting sun, will grow up like a crown of glory.

Here it was that Rip Van Winkle is supposed to have lived and slept, and astonished his old friends and neighbors, and their descendants. The path along which Rip Van Winkle marched up the mountain, prior to his prolonged sleep, is shown to the tourist, who hears at his hotel, in the conveyance he hires for the day, and among the very mountains themselves, countless local legends as to Rip Van Winkle, and as to the percentage of fact and fiction in Washington Irving's masterly production.

If he is antiquarian enough to desire it, he can be shown the very spot upon which Rip Van Winkle laid himself down to sleep. Local opinion differs as to the exact spot, but there is so much faith displayed by the people that no one can doubt that they are genuine in their beliefs and sincere in their convictions. The tourist can also be shown the site of the old country inn, upon the bench in front of which Rip Van Winkle sat and astonished the natives by his extraordinary conversation, and his refusal to believe that a generation had elapsed since he was in the town last.

The chair upon which Dame Van Winkle is supposed to have sat, while she was berating her idle and incorrigible lord and master, is also shown to the visitor, and the more credulous ones gaze with interest upon a flagon which they are assured is the very one out of which Rip Van Winkle drank. The only thing needed to complete the illusion is the appearance of the old dog, which the man who had so grievously overslept himself was sure would have recognized him, had he put in his appearance.

It is almost impossible to outlive one's welcome in the Catskill Mountains, or to wear one's self out with sight seeing, so many are the novelties which greet the gaze. The Catskills are abounding with traditions quite as interesting and extraordinary as the Rip Van Winkle story. They were known originally as the "Mountains of the Sky," a name given them by the Indians, who for so many generations held them in undisputed possession. Hyde Peak, the loftiest point in the Catskills, was regarded by the Indians as the throne of the Great Spirit, and the Dutch settlers who crowded out the Indians seem to have been almost as generous in their superstitions and legends. These settlers dropped the name, "Mountains of the Sky," and adopted the, to them, more euphonic one of the Katzberg Mountains, from which the more modern name has been adopted.

The village of Catskill deserves more than a passing notice. It is the home of a large number of well-known people, including the widows of many men whose names are famous in history. The old Livingston Manor was located near the village, and a little farther down is Barrytown, where the wealthy Astors have a palatial summer resort. A little farther down the river are two towns with a distinctly ancient and Dutch aspect. They were settled by the Dutch over two hundred years ago, and there are many houses still standing which were built last century, so strongly did our forefathers construct their homes, and make them veritable castles and impregnable fortresses.

Another very old town on the Hudson is the celebrated seat of learning, Poughkeepsie. Of this, it has been said that there is more tuition to the square inch than in any other town in the world. The most celebrated of the educational institutions at this point is the Vassar College, the first ladies' seminary in the world, and the butt of so many jokes and sarcasms. Poughkeepsie is not quite as old as the hills above it, but it is exceedingly ancient. Here was held the celebrated State convention for the ratification of the Federal Constitution, in which Alexander Hamilton, Governor Clinton, and John Jay, and other men of immortal names took part.

It is only comparatively recently that the first stone building erected in this town was torn down, to make room for improvements, after it had weathered storm and time in the most perfect manner for more than a century and a quarter. At Newburgh, a few miles farther south, an old gray mansion is pointed out to the visitor as Washington's headquarters on several occasions during the Revolution. Fortunately, the State has secured possession of the house and protects it from the hands of the vandal.

This wonderful old house was built just a century and a half ago. A hundred and twelve years ago Washington's army finally disbanded from this point, and the visitor can see within the well-preserved walls of this house the historical room, with its seven doors, within which Washington and his generals held their numerous conferences, and in which there are still to be found almost countless relics of the Revolutionary War.

While sailing on the Hudson, a glimpse is obtained of West Point, the great military school from which so many of America's celebrated generals have graduated. West Point commands one of the finest river passes in the country. The fort and chain stretched across the river were captured by the British in 1777 (two years after it was decided that West Point should be established a military post), but were abandoned after Burgoyne's surrender. The Continental forces then substituted stronger works. West Point thus has a history running right back to the Revolutionary War, and the ruins of Forts Clinton and Montgomery, which were erected in 1775, are in the immediate vicinity.

There are 176 rooms in the cadet barrack. There is no attempt at ornamentation, and the quarters are almost rigid in their simplicity and lack of home comfort. Not only are the embryo warriors taught the rudiments of drill and warfare, but they are also given stern lessons in camp life. Each young man acts as his own chambermaid, and has to keep his little room absolutely neat and free from litter and dirt of any kind.

The West Point Chapel is of interest on account of the number of tablets to be found in it, immortalizing many of the Revolutionary heroes. A winding road leads up to the cemetery, where are resting the remains of many other celebrated generals, including Winfield Scott. The State Camp meets annually at Peekskill, another very ancient town, replete with Revolutionary War reminiscences. It was settled in the year 1764 by a Dutch navigator, from whom it takes its name. Another house used by General Washington for headquarters is to be found near the town, as well as St. Peter's Church, in which the Father of his Country worshiped.

Tarrytown is another of the famous spots on the Hudson. Near here Washington Irving lived, and on the old Sleepy Hollow road is to be found the oldest religious structure in New York State. The church was built by the Dutch settlers in the year 1699, and close to it is the cemetery in which Washington Irving was interred. Sunnyside, Irving's home, is a most interesting stone structure, whose numerous gables are covered with ivy, the immense mass of which has grown from a few slips presented to Irving by Sir Walter Scott.

A sadder sight to the tourist on the Hudson, but one which is of necessity full of interest, is the Sing Sing Prison, just below Croton Point. In this great State jail an army of convicts are kept busy manufacturing various articles of domestic use. The prison itself takes its name from the Indian word "Ossining," which means "stone upon stone." The village of Sing Sing, strange to say, contains many charming residences, and the proximity of the State's prison does not seem to have any particular effect on the spirits and the ideas of those living in it.

Still further down the Hudson is Riverside Park, New York, the scene of General Grant's tomb, which overlooks the lower section of the river, concerning which we have endeavored to impart some little information of an interesting character. Of the tomb, we present a very accurate illustration.

While in New York State, the tourist, whether he be American or European, is careful to pay a visit to the Niagara Falls, which have been viewed by a greater number of people than any other scene or wonder on the American continent. This fact is due, in part, to the admirable railroad facilities which bring Niagara within easy riding distance of the great cities of the East. It is also due, very largely, to the extraordinary nature of the falls themselves, and to the grandeur of the scene which greets the eye of the spectator.

The River Niagara is a little more than thirty-three miles long. In its short course it takes care of the overflow of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie, and as it discharges the waters of these lakes into Lake Ontario, it falls 334 feet, or more than ten feet to the mile.

The rapids start some sixteen miles from Lake Erie. As the river channel suddenly narrows, the velocity of the current increases with great abruptness. The rapids are but a third of a mile in length, during which distance there is a fall of fifty-two feet. The boat caught in these rapids stands but a poor chance, as at the end of the torrent the water dashes down a cataract over 150 feet deep. The Canadian Fall passes over a rocky ledge of immense area, and in the descent leaves a space with a watery roof, the space being known as the "Cave of the Winds," with an entrance from the Canadian side. The Canadian Fall has a sweep of 1,100 feet and is considerably deeper than the other.

It is little more than a waste of words to endeavor to convey an impression of the grandeur and magnificence of Niagara. People have visited it from all parts of the world. Monarchs and princes have acknowledged that it exceeded their wildest expectation, and every one who has gazed upon it agrees that it is almost impossible to exaggerate its grandeur, or to say too much concerning its magnitude. Even after the water has dashed wildly 150 feet downwards, the descent continues. The river bed contracts in width gradually, for seven miles below the falls, where the whirlpool rapids are to be seen. After the second fall, the river seems to have exhausted its vehemence, and runs more deliberately, cutting its channel deeper into the rocky bed, and dropping its sensational habits.

Some writers have hazarded an opinion that, as time changes all things, so the day may come when Niagara Falls shall cease to exist. Improbable as this idea naturally sounds, it has some foundation in fact, for there have been marvelous changes in the falls during the last few generations. About two hundred and fifty years ago a sketch was taken of Niagara, and a hundred years later another artist made a careful and apparently accurate picture. These two differ from one another materially, and they also differ greatly from the appearance of the falls at the present time. Both of the old pictures show a third fall on the Canadian side. It is known that about a hundred years ago several immense fragments of rock were broken off the rocky ledge on the American side, and, more recently, an earthquake affected the appearance of the Canadian Fall. Certain it is, that the immense corrosive action of the water, and the gradual eating away of the rock on both the ledge and basin, has had the effect of changing the location of the falls, and forcing up the river in the direction of Lake Erie. Time alone can decide the momentous question as to whether the falls will eventually be so changed in appearance as to be beyond recognition. The lover of the beautiful and grand, and more especially the antiquarian, sincerely trusts that no such calamity will ever take place.

The history of the Indians in New York State is a very interesting one. Prior to the discovery of America by Columbus, the section of country including a majority of New York State and the northern portion of Pennsylvania, was occupied by the Iroquois, Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas. These formed the historical Five Nations, of whom writers of the last century tell us so much that is of lasting importance. These tribes were self-governed, their rulers being selected on the hereditary plan. There was a federal union between them for purposes of offense and defense, and they called themselves, collectively, the "People of the Long House." This imaginary house had an eastern door at the mouth of the Mohawk River, and a western door at the Falls of Niagara.

Bashfulness was not a characteristic of these old-time red men, who had a special name of many letters for themselves, which, being interpreted, meant "Men surpassing all others." They trace their origin from the serpent-haired God, Atotarhon, and other traditions attribute their powers of confederation and alliance to the legendary Hiawatha. They built frame cabins and defended their homes with much skill. Their dress was chiefly made out of deer and elk hide, and relics still in existence show that they had good ideas of agriculture, tanning, pottery, and even carving. They were about 12,000 strong, and they appear to have been the most powerful Indian combination prior to the arrival of the white man.

They were powerful in war as well as comparatively sensible in peace. Their religion was, at least, consistent, and included a firm belief in immortality. They maintained what may be termed civilized family relations, and treated their women with proper respect. Their conduct towards the white men was much more friendly than might have been expected, and almost from the first they displayed a conciliatory attitude, and entered into alliances with the newcomers. They fought side by side with the New Englanders against the French, and the hostile Indians who allied with them, and in the year 1710, five of their sachems or legislators crossed the Atlantic, and were received with honors by the Queen of England. In diplomacy they did not prove themselves in the long run as skillful as the newcomers, who by degrees secured from them the land over which they had previously exercised sovereign rights.

The survivors of these Indians have not sunk to as low a level as many other tribes have done. It is not generally known in the West that there are on the New York reservations, at the present time, more than 5,000 Indians, including about 2,700 survivors of the once great Seneca tribe.

The State of New York is about the same size as the Kingdom of England. It is the nineteenth State in the Union in point of size, possessing area of more than 49,000 square miles, of which 1,500 square miles is covered by water, forming portions of the lakes. Its lake coast line extends 200 miles on Lake Ontario and 75 miles on Lake Erie. Lake Champlain flows along the eastern frontier for more than 100 miles, receiving the waters of Lake George, which has been described as the Como of America. The lake has a singular history. It was originally called by the French Canadians who discovered it, the "Lake of the Holy Sacrament," and it was the scene of battles and conflicts for over a hundred years.

The capital of the Empire State, with its population of such magnitude that it exceeds that of more than twenty important foreign nations, is Albany, which was founded by the Dutch in 1623, and which has since earned for itself the title of the "Edinburgh of America." Compared with New York City it is dwarfed in point of population and commercial importance.

Of the actual metropolis of the great Empire State it is impossible to speak at any length in the limited space at one's command. Of New York itself, Mr. Chauncey Depew said recently, in his forcible manner, "To-day, in the sisterhood of States, she is an empire in all that constitutes a great commonwealth. An industrious, intelligent, and prosperous population of 5,000,000 of people live within her borders. In the value of her farms and farm products, and in her manufacturing industries, she is the first State in the Union. She sustains over 1,000 newspapers and periodicals, has $80,000,000 invested in church property, and spends $12,000,000 a year on popular education. Upward of 300 academies and colleges fit her youth for special professions, and furnish opportunities for liberal learning and the highest culture, and stately edifices all over the State, dedicated to humane and benevolent objects, exhibit the permanence and extent of her organized charities. There are $600,000,000 in her savings banks, $300,000,000 in her insurance companies, and $700,000,000 in the capital and loans of her State and National banks. Six thousand miles of railroads, costing $600,000,000, have penetrated and developed every accessible corner of the State, and maintain, against all rivalry and competition, her commercial prestige."



CHAPTER IV.

IN THE CENTER OF THE COUNTRY.

The Geographical Center of the United States and its Location West of the Mississippi River—The Center of Population—History of Fort Riley—The Gallant "Seventh"—Early Troubles of Kansas—Extermination of the Buffalo—But a Few Survivors out of Many Millions.

Kansas is included by most people in the list of Western States; by many it is regarded as in the extreme West. If the Pilgrim Fathers had been told that the haven of refuge they had selected would, within two or three hundred years, be part of a great English-speaking nation with some 70,000,000 of inhabitants, and with its center some 1,500 miles westward, they would have listened to the story with pardonable incredulity, and would have felt like invoking condemnation upon the head of the reckless prophet who was addressing them.

Yet Kansas is to-day in the very center of the United States. This is not a printer's error, nor a play upon words, much as the New Englander may suspect the one or the other. There was a time when the word "West" was used to apply to any section of the country a day's journey on horseback from the Atlantic Coast. For years, and even generations, everything west of the Allegheny Mountains or of the Ohio River was "Out West." Even to-day it is probable that a majority of the residents in the strictly Eastern States regard anything west of the Mississippi River as strictly Western.

There is no doubt that when Horace Greeley told the young men of the country to "Go West and grow up with the country," he used the term in its common and not its strictly geographical sense, and many thousand youths, who took the advice of the philosopher and statesman, stopped close to the banks of the Mississippi River, and have grown rich in their new homes. It cannot be too generally realized, however, that the Mississippi River slowly wends its way down to the Gulf of Mexico well within the eastern half of the greatest nation in the world. At several points in the circuitous course of the Father of Waters, the distance between the river and the Atlantic Ocean is about 1,000 miles. In an equal number of points the distance to the Pacific Ocean is 2,000 miles, showing that whatever may be said of the tributaries of the Mississippi River, and especially of its gigantic tributary the Missouri, the Mississippi is an Eastern and not a Western river.

We give an illustration of the point which competent surveyors and engineers tell us is the exact geographical center of the United States proper. The monument standing in the center of this great country is surrounded by an iron railing, and is visited again and again by tourists, who find it difficult to believe the fact that a point apparently so far western is really central. The center of the United States has gone west with the absorption of territory, and the Louisiana purchase, the centenary of which we shall shortly celebrate, had a great effect on the location.

The center of population has moved less spasmodically, but with great regularity. A hundred years ago the City of Baltimore was the center of population, and it was not until the middle of the century that Ohio boasted of owning the population center. For some twenty years it remained near Cincinnati, but during the '80s it went as far as Columbus, Indiana, where it was at the last Government census. At the present time it is probably twenty or thirty miles west of Columbus, and in the near future Fort Riley will be the population, as well as the geographical, center.

Fort Riley is an interesting spot for civilian and soldier alike. Having been selected by the Government as the permanent training school for the two mounted branches of the service—the cavalry and light artillery—its 21,000 acres have been improved at lavish expense. It seems really remarkable that so metropolitan a bit of ground could be found out on the plains, where, though civilization is making rapid strides, and the luxuries of wealth are being acquired by the advancing population, it is unusual to find macadamized streets and buildings that can harbor a regiment and still not be crowded. Yet such are some of the characteristics of Fort Riley Reservation, and the newness of it all is the best evidence of the interest the War Department has taken in its development. Many of the recently erected buildings would grace the capital itself. Nearly $1,000,000 have been expended in the past four years in new structures, all of magnesia limestone, and built along the lines of the most approved modern architecture, and of a character which insures scores of years of usefulness.

The fort is situated on the left bank of the Kansas River, near the junction of the Republican and Smoky Hill Forks. It was first laid out in 1852, and has ever since been one of the leading Western posts. Located, though it is, far out on the Kansas prairies, it has, particularly in late years, been fully in touch with the social life of the East, through the addition of new officers and the interchange of post courtesies.

The post, as it stands to-day, consists of officers' quarters, artillery and cavalry barracks, administration buildings, sheds, hospital, dispensary, etc., scattered over 150 acres of ground. The Kansas River is formed just southwest of it by the union of the Smoky Hill and Republican Forks, and the topography for practice and sightseeing could not be surpassed in the State. Five miles of macadamized streets, 150,000 feet of stone and gravel walks, six miles of sewers, four miles of water and steam heating pipes, leading to every room of each of the sixty buildings, make up the equipment, which is, of course, of the highest quality throughout. All the stone is quarried on the reservation, and is of lasting variety, and makes buildings which bear a truly substantial appearance. The Government has an idea toward permanency in its improvements.

The history of Fort Riley has been one of vicissitudes. When it was laid out in 1852, it was at first called Camp Center, but was changed to its present name by order of the War Department in honor of General B. C. Riley. In 1855, the fort suffered from Asiatic cholera, and Major E. A. Ogden, one of the original commissioners who laid out the reservation, who was staying there, nursed the soldiers with a heroic attachment to duty, and himself fell a victim to the disease. A handsome monument marks his resting place. He was a true soldier hero, and his name is still spoken in reverence by the attaches of the post.

Another notable feature of the reservation is the dismantled rock wall to the east of the fort, which is all that now remains of the once ambitious capitol building of the State of Kansas. It has a strange history, being the "Pawnee House," in which the Territorial Legislature met in the early ante-bellum days, confident of protection by the soldiers from the roaming Indian bands infesting the prairies.

A famous dweller at the fort for two decades was old Comanche, the only living creature to escape from the Custer massacre on the side of the Government. He was the horse ridden by an officer in that memorable fight, and by miracle escaped, after having seven balls fired into him. He was found roaming over the prairie, after the massacre, and was ordered put on the retired list, and stationed at Fort Riley, where for twenty years he was petted and cared for, but never ridden. His only service was to be led in processions of ceremony, draped in mourning. Now that he is dead, his body has been preserved with the taxidermist's best skill, and is one of the State's most noted relics.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse