History of the United States, Volume 3 (of 6)
by E. Benjamin Andrews
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[Transcriber's Notes]

Text has been moved to avoid fragmentation of sentences and paragraphs.

The other five texts in this series were obtained from the 1912 edition of original books. Volume 3 was missing from the set. This text, Volume 3, is derived from a PDF image file of the 1896 edition on the Internet Archive at

[End Transcriber's Notes]


The First Gun Fired from Fort Sumter









Press of J. J. Little & Co. Astor Place. New York






The Word "Whig." Republican Prestige. Schism. Adams's Election. Five Doctrines of Whiggism. I. Broad Construction of the Constitution. II. The Bank. Death of Old and Birth of New. Opposition by Jackson. III. The Tariff of 1816. Its Object. IV. Land. Whig versus Democratic Policy. V. Internal Improvements Rivers and Harbors. Need of Better Inland Communication. Contention between the Parties. Whig Characteristics. Adams. Webster. His Political Attitude. Clay. His Power, as an Orator. His Duel with Randolph. His Wit. His Influence.


Florida's Disputed Boundary. West Florida Occupied. Jackson Seizes East Florida. Puts to Death Ambrister and Arbuthnot. His Excuse. Defended by Adams. Sale of Florida. Revolt of Spanish America. Monroe's Declaration. Its Origin.


Missouri Wishes Statehood. Early History of Slavery. Hostility to it. First Abolitionist Societies. Ordinance of 1787. Slavery in the North. In the South. Pleas for its Existence. Missouri Compromise. Pro-slavery Arguments. The Policy Men. Anti-slavery Opinions. Difficulties of the Case. The Anti-slavery Side Ignores these.


Rise of Tariff Rates after 1816. Relations of Parties and Sections to the Tariff. Minimum Principle. Tariff of Abominations Adopted. Harmful to the South. Nullification Project. Calhoun's Life and Pet Political Theory. South Carolina Recedes. Compromise Tariff. State Rights and Central Government. Webster's Plea.


Jackson's Life. Mistaken Ideas. Civil Service Reform. Perfecting of Party Organization in the Country. Jackson and the United States Bank. His Popularity. Revival of West Indian Trade. French Spoliation Claims. Paid. Our Gold and Silver Coinage. Gold Bill. Increased Circulation of Gold. Specie Circular.


Election of Harrison in 1840. Causes. Jackson's Violence. Sub-treasury Policy. Panic of 1837. Decrease of Revenue. Whig Opposition to Slavery. Seminole War. Amistad Case. Texan Question. "Tippecanoe and Tyler too."


Population and Area. The West. The East. An American Literature. Newspaper Enterprise, Mails, Eleemosynary Institutions. American Character. Temperance Reform. The Land of the Free. Religion. Anti-masonic Movement. Banking Craze. Moon Hoax. Party Spirit. Jackson as a Knight Errant. His Self-will. Enmity between Adams and Jackson. Costumes.


F. C. Lowell and his Waltham Power-loom. Growth of Factory System. New Corporation Laws. Gas, Coal, and Other Industries. The Same Continued. The National Road. Stages and Canals. Ocean Lines. Beginning of Railroads. Opposition. First Locomotive. Multiplication of Railroads.





Cotton and Slavery. Evils of Slavery: Social, Economic. Slave Insurrections. Turner's Rebellion. Abolition in Virginia. Black Laws. Lull in Anti-slavery Agitation. Colonization Society. Fugitive Slave Laws. Prigg's Case. Personal Liberty Laws in the North. Kidnapping Expeditions. Domestic Slave-trade. Non-emancipation Laws. Business Relations between North and South.


Renewed Hostility to Slavery. Lundy. Garrison. Affiliations of this Movement. The New England Anti-slave Society. Significance, Purpose, Work. Methods of Abolitionists. Southern Opposition. Northern. Anti-abolitionist Riots at the North. Murder of Lovejoy. Outrages against Northern Blacks. Colored Schools Closed. Schism among the Abolitionists. The Liberty Party. Ultra-abolitionists' Unreason. Why Abolitionism Spread. Ambiguity of the Constitution. Seizure of Black Seamen. Grievances on both Sides.


Texas Declares her Independence. Battle of San Jacinto. The Democracy Favors Annexation. Calhoun's Purpose. Opposition of Clay and the Whigs. Texas Admitted to the Union. Causes of the War. The Nueces vs. the Rio Grande. Preliminary Operations. Battle of Palo Alto. Declaration of War. Monterey Captured. Santa Anna again President. Buena Vista. Taylor's Victory. Scott Appointed to Chief Command. Capture of Vera Cruz. Cerro Gordo. Jalapa. Re-enforced by Pierce. On to the City of Mexico. Contreras. Churubusco. Molino del Rey. Storming of Chapultepec. Capture of the Capital. Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Its Conditions. The Oregon Question.


Invasion of New Mexico. Exploration and Seizure of California. Discovery of Gold. Resulting Excitement. Increase of Population. Gold Yield. Early Law and Government. Slavery's Victory. The Wilmot Proviso. Taylor President. Application by California for Admission to the Union. Clay's Omnibus Bill. Webster Superseded by Sumner. Passage of the Omnibus Compromise. California a State. Enlargement of Texas. New Fugitive Slave Law. Revival of Abolitionism. Underground Railroad. Rendition of Anthony Burns. Other Cases.


Plot against the Missouri Compromise. Pierce's Election. The Kansas-Nebraska Bill. Abrogation of the Missouri Compromise. Squatter Sovereignty. Anti-slavery Emigration to Kansas. Political Jobbery by the Slavocracy. Topeka Convention. Kansas Riots. Lecompton Constitution. Opposed by Free-State Men. Kansas Admitted to the Union. Assault upon Sumner. Southern Repudiation of the Douglas Theory. Dred Scott Decision. Startling Assumption of the Supreme Court. Effect. Counter-theory.


Democracy and Whiggism. Ambiguous Attitude of the Latter toward Slavery. The Creole Case. Giddings's Resolutions. Quincy Adams as an Abolitionist. The First Gag Law. Adams's Opposition. The Second and Third. Their Repeal. Pro-slavery Whigs. Submission to Slavocracy. Its Insolent Demands. Death of Whiggism. Americanism. The Know-Nothings. Revolt from the Democracy at the North.


Consolidation of Anti-slavery Men. Worse Black Laws. Schemes for Foreign Conquest. Lopez's and Walker's Expedition. Ostend Manifesto. Supremacy of Slavery. Rise of Free-soilers. Incipient Republicanism. Republican Doctrine. John Brown's Raid. Schism between the Northern and the Southern Democrats. Nomination of Douglas. Breckenridge and Lane. Bell and Everett. Lincoln and Hamlin. Lincoln's Popularity. His Election to the Presidency.


Population and Economic Prosperity. Growth of the West. Indian Outbreaks. Improvements farther East. Canals and Railroads. The Steam Horse in the West. Morse's Telegraph. Ocean Cables. Minor Inventions. Petroleum. Financial Crisis of 1857.





An "Irrepressible Conflict." Growth of North. Influence of Missouri Compromise Repeal. Slavery as Viewed by the South. Stephens. Anti-Democratic Habits of Thought. Compact Theory of the Union. State Consciousness, South. Argument for the Calhoun Theory. Secession not Justifiable by this. Moderates and Fire-eaters. Northern Grievances. Do not Excuse Secession. Lincoln's Election. Patriotic and Philanthropic Considerations Ignored. Prudence also. Resources of South and of North.


Threats of Secession before 1860. By New England. By the South in 1856. Governor Wise. The 1860 Campaign. Attitude of South Carolina. Of the Gulf States. Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana. Election of Lincoln. South Carolina will Secede. Judge Magrath. The Palmetto State Goes. Enthusiasm. The State Plays Nation. Effect upon Other States. Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana. and Texas Follow. Strong Union Spirit Still. Vain. Georgia and Secession. The Question in Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Missouri, Arkansas, North Carolina. Seizure of United States Property. Floyd's Theft. Fort Moultrie Evacuated for Sumter. Fort Pickens. New Orleans Mint. Twiggs's Surrender. Theory of Seceding States as to Property Seized. Southern Confederacy. Davis President. His History. Inaugural Address. Powers. Confederate Government and Constitution. Slavery. State Sovereignty. Tariff. Good Features. Bright Prospects of the New Power.


Apathy. Disbelief in South's Seriousness. Divided Opinion. Suggestions toward Compromise. Anti-coercion. Convention at Albany. Mayor Wood of New York. Buchanan's Vacillation. Treason all about Him. Star of the West Fired on. Inaction of Congress. Crittenden's Compromise Lost. Washington Peace Congress. Vain. Earnestness of South. Lincoln Inaugurated. His Address. How Received. His Difficult Task. Plight of Army, Navy, Treasury. Sumter Fired on. Defended. Evacuated. Effect at North. War Spirit. 75,000 Volunteers. The Sixth Massachusetts in Baltimore. Washington in Danger. General Scott's Measures. March of the Massachusetts Eighth and the New York Seventh. Their Arrival in Washington.


Both Sides Expect a Brief Struggle. South's Advantages. Call for Three Years' Men. Butler in Baltimore. Maryland Saved to the Union. Alexandria and Arlington Heights Occupied. Ellsworth's Death. Each Side Concentrates Armies in Virginia. Fight at Big Bethel. At Vienna. The Struggle in Missouri. Lyon and Price. Battle of Wilson's Creek. Lyon's Death. Fremont, Hunter, and Halleck in Missouri. The Contest in Kentucky. The State becomes Unionist. In West Virginia. Lee and McClellan. Brilliant Campaign of the Latter. West Virginia Made a State. Beauregard at Manassas. Patterson's Advance. Harper's Ferry Taken. "On to Richmond." Battle of Bull Run. Union Defeat and Retreat. Losses. Comments. Depression at the North, followed by New Resolution. McClellan. Army of Potomac Organized. The Capital Safe. Affair of Ball's Bluff. The South Hopeful. And with Reason.




DANIEL WEBSTER. (From a picture by Healy at the State Department, Washington).



HENRY CLAY. (From a photograph by Rockwood of an old daguerreotype).

JOHN RANDOLPH. (From a picture by Jarvis in 1811, at the New York Historical Society).

JAMES MONROE. (From a painting by Gilbert Stuart—now the property of T. Jefferson Coolidge).

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS. (From a picture by Gilbert Stuart).

JOHN C. CALHOUN. (From a picture by King at the Corcoran Art Gallery).


ANDREW JACKSON (From a photograph by Brady).


MARTIN VAN BUREN. (From a photograph by Brady).


WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON. (From a copy at the Corcoran Art Gallery of a painting by Beard in 1840).

JOHN TYLER. (From a photograph by Brady).


THURLOW WEED. (From an unpublished photograph by Disderi, Paris, in 1861. In the possession of Thurlow Weed Barnes).

FROM AN OLD TIME-TABLE. (Furnished by the ABC Pathfinder Railway Guide).















JAMES K. POLK. (After a photograph by Brady).



ZACHARY TAYLOR. (After a photograph by Brady).



MILLARD FILLMORE. (From a painting by Carpenter in 1853. at the City Hall, New York).


FRANKLIN PIERCE. (From a painting by Healy, in 1852, at the Corcoran Art Gallery).




ABRAHAM LINCOLN. (After a rare photograph in the possession of Noah Brooks. Only five copies of this photograph were printed).


WILLIAM H. SEWARD. (From a photograph by Brady).















JAMES BUCHANAN. (From a photograph by Brady).




























The term "whig" is of Scotch origin. During the bloody conflict of the Covenanters with Charles II. nearly all the country people of Scotland sided against the king. As these peasants drove into Edinburgh to market, they were observed to make great use of the word "whiggam" in talking to their horses. Abbreviated to "whig," it speedily became, and has in England and Scotland ever since remained, a name for the opponents of royal power. It was so employed in America in our Revolutionary days. Sinking out of hearing after Independence, it reappeared for fresh use when schism came in the overgrown Democratic Party.

The republican predominance after 1800, so complete, bidding so fair to be permanent, drew all the more fickle Federalists speedily to that side. Since it was evident that the new party was quite as national in spirit as the ruling element of the old, the Adams Federalists, those most patriotic, least swayed in their politics by commercial motives, including Marshall, the War Federalists, and the recruits enlisted at the South during Adams's administration, also went over, in sympathy if not in name, to Republicanism. The fortunate issue of the war silenced every carper, and the ten years following have been well named the "era of good feeling."

But though for long very harmonious, yet, so soon as Federalists began swelling their ranks, the Republicans ceased to be a strictly homogeneous party. Incipient schism appeared by 1812, at once announced and widened by the creation of the protective system and the new United States Bank in 1816, and the attempted launching of an internal improvements regime in 1821, all three the plain marks of federalist survival, however men might shun that name. Republicans like Clay, Calhoun in his early years, and Quincy Adams, while somewhat more obsequious to the people, as to political theory differed from old Federalists in little but name. The same is true of Clinton, candidate against Madison for the Presidency in 1812, and of many who supported him.


But to drive home fatally the wedge between "democratic" and "national" Republicans, required Jackson's quarrel with Adams and Clay in 1825, when, the election being thrown into the House, although Jackson had ninety-nine electoral votes to Adams's eighty-four, Crawford's forty-one, and Clay's thirty-seven, Clay's supporters, by a "corrupt bargain," as Old Hickory alleged, voted for Adams and made him President. Hickory's idea—an untenable one—was that the House was bound to elect according to the tenor of the popular and the electoral vote. After all this, however, so potent the charm of the old party, the avowal of a purpose to build up a new one did not work well, Clay polling in 1832 hardly half the electoral vote of Adams in 1828. This democratic gain was partly owing, it is true, to Jackson's popularity, to the belief that he had been wronged in 1825, and to the widening of the franchise which had long been going on in the nation. Calhoun's election as Vice-President in 1828, by a large majority, shows that party crystallization was then far from complete. From about 1834, the new political body thus gradually evolved was regularly called the Whigs, though the name had been heard ever since 1825.


The doctrines characteristic of Whiggism were chiefly five:

I. Broad Construction of the Constitution.

This has been sufficiently explained in the chapter on Federalism and Anti-Federalism, and need not be dwelt upon. The whig attitude upon it appears in all that follows.

II. The Bank.

The First United States Bank had perished by the expiration of its charter in 1811. It had been very useful, indeed almost indispensable, in managing the national finances, and its decease, with the consequent financial disorder, was a most terrible drawback in the war. Recharter was, however, by a very small majority, refused. The evils flowing from this perverse step manifesting themselves day by day, a new Bank of the United States, modelled closely after the first, was chartered on April 10, 1816, Clay, Calhoun, and Webster being its chief champions. Republican opponents, Madison among them, were brought around by the plea that war had proved a national bank a necessary and hence a constitutional helper of the Government in its appointed work.

In the management of this second bank there were disorder and dishonesty, which greatly limited its usefulness. This, notwithstanding, was considerable. The credit of the nation was restored and its treasury resumed specie payments. But confidence in the institution was shaken. We shall see how it met with President Jackson's opposition on every possible occasion. In 1832 he vetoed a bill for the renewal of its charter, to expire in 1836, and in 1833 caused all the Government's deposits in it, amounting to ten million dollars, to be removed. These blows were fatal to the bank, though it secured a charter from Pennsylvania and existed, languishing, till 1839.

III. The Tariff.

Until the War of 1812 the main purpose of our tariff policy had been revenue, with protection only as an incident. During the war manufacturing became largely developed, partly through our own embargo, partly through the armed hostilities. Manufacture had grown to be an extensive interest, comparing in importance with agriculture and commerce. Therefore, in the new tariff of 1816, the old relation was reversed, protection being made the main aim and revenue the incident. It is curious to note that this first protective tariff was championed and passed by the Republicans and bitterly opposed by the Federalists and incipient Whigs. Webster argued and inveighed vehemently against it, appealing to the curse of commercial restriction and of governmental interference with trade, and to the low character of manufacturing populations.

But very soon the tables were turned: the Whigs became the high-tariff party, the Democrats more and more opposing this policy in favor of a low or a revenue tariff. It should be marked that even now the idea of protection in its modern form was not the only one which went to make a high tariff popular. There were, besides, the wish to be prepared for war by the home production of war material, and also the spirit of commercial retortion, paying back in her own coin England's burdensome tax upon our exports to her shores.

IV. Land.

What may not improperly be styled the whig land policy sprung from the whig sentiment for large customs duties. Cheap public lands, offering each poor man a home for the taking, constantly tended to neutralize the effect of duties, by raising wages in the manufacturing sections, people needing a goodly bribe to enter mills in the East when an abundant living was theirs without money and without price on removing west. As a rule, therefore, though this question did not divide the two parties so crisply as the others, the Whigs opposed the free sale of government land, while the Democrats favored that policy. In spite of this, however, eastern people who moved westward—and they constituted the West's main population—quite commonly retained their whig politics even upon the tariff question itself.

V. Internal Improvements.

It has always been admitted that Congress may lay taxes to build and improve light-houses, public docks, and all such properties whereof the United States is to hold the title. The general improvement of harbors, on the other hand, the Constitution meant to leave to the States, allowing each to cover the expense by levying tonnage duties. The practice for years corresponded with this. The inland commonwealths, however, as they were admitted, justly regarded this unfair unless offset by Government's aid to them in the construction of roads, canals, and river ways.

Webster's Home at Marshfield. Mass.

The War of 1812 revealed the need of better means for direct communication with the remote sections of the Union. Transportation to Detroit had cost fifty cents per pound of ammunition, sixty dollars per barrel of flour. All admitted that improved internal routes were necessary. The question was whether the general Government had a right to construct them without amendment to the Constitution.

The Whigs, like the old Federalists, affirmed such right, appealing to Congress's power to establish post-roads, wage war, supervise inter-state trade, and conserve the common defence and general welfare. As a rule, the Democrats, being strict constructionists, denied such right. Some of them justified outlay upon national rivers and commercial harbors under the congressional power of raising revenue and regulating commerce. Others conceded the rightfulness of subsidies to States even for bettering inland routes. Treasury surplus at times, and the many appropriations which, by common consent, had been made under Monroe and later for the old National Road, encouraged the whig contention; but the whig policy had never met general approval down to the time when the whole question was taken out of politics by the rise of the railroad system after 1832. The National Road, meantime, extending across Ohio and Indiana on its way to St. Louis, was made over in 1830 to the States through which it passed.

Daniel Webster. From a picture by Healy at the State Department, Washington.

The Whig Party deserves great praise as the especial repository, through several decades, of the spirit of nationality in our country. It cherished this, and with the utmost boldness proclaimed doctrines springing from it, at a time when the Democracy, for no other reason than that it had begun as a state rights party, foolishly combated these. Yet Whiggism was mightier in theories than in deeds, in political cunning than in statesmanship. It was far too fearful, on the whole, lest the country should not be sufficiently governed. To secure power it allied itself now with the Anti-Masons, strong after 1826 in New England, New York, and Pennsylvania; and again with the Nullifiers of South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, led by Calhoun, Troup, and White. It did the latter by making Tyler, an out-and-out Nullifier, its Vice-President in 1840.

A leading Whig during nearly all his political career was John Quincy Adams, one of the ablest, most patriotic, and most successful presidents this country has ever had. He possessed a thorough education, mainly acquired abroad, where, sojourning with his distinguished father, he had enjoyed while still a youth better opportunities for diplomatic training than many of our diplomatists have known in a lifetime. He went to the United States Senate in 1803 as a Federalist. Disgusted with that party, he turned Republican, losing his place. From 1806 to 1809 he was professor in Harvard College. In the latter year Madison sent him Minister to St. Petersburg. He was commissioner at Ghent, then Minister to England, then Monroe's Secretary of State, then President.

The House in which Henry Clay was Born.

But Mr. Adams's best work was done in the House of Representatives after he was elected to that body in 1830. He sat in the House until his death, in 1848—its acknowledged leader in ability, in activity, and in debate. Friend and foe hailed him as the "Old Man Eloquent," nor were any there anxious to be pitted against him. He spoke upon almost every great national question, each time displaying general knowledge; legal lore, and keenness of analysis surpassed by no American of his or any age.

Webster was, however, the great orator of the party. Reared upon a farm and educated at Dartmouth College, he went to Congress from New Hampshire as a Federalist in 1813. Removing to Boston, he soon entered Congress from Massachusetts, first as representative, then as senator, and from 1827 was in the Senate almost continuously till 1850. He was Secretary of State under Harrison and Tyler, and again in the Taylor-Fillmore cabinet from 1850.

The School-house of the Slashes.

As an orator Webster had no peer in his time, nor have the years since evoked his peer. He was an influential party leader, and repeatedly thought of for President, though too prominent ever to be nominated. On two momentous questions, the tariff and slavery, he vacillated, his dubious action concerning the latter costing him his popularity in New England.

Henry Clay. From a photograph by Rockwood of an old daguerreotype.

Yet in many respects the most interesting figure in the party was Henry Clay. He was born amid the swamps of Hanover County, Va., and had grown up in most adverse surroundings. His father, a Baptist clergyman, died while he was an infant, leaving him destitute. In "The Slashes," as the neighborhood where Clay passed his childhood was called, he might often have been seen astride a sorry horse with a rope bridle and no saddle, carrying his bag of grain to the mill. He had attended only district schools. After obtaining the rudiments of a legal education in Richmond by service as a lawyer's clerk, he removed to Kentucky. He was soon famous as a criminal lawyer, and a little later as a politician. The rest of his life was spent in Congress or cabinet.

Clay's speeches read ill, but were powerful in their delivery. He spoke directly to the heart. As he proceeded, his tall and awkward form swayed with passion. His voice was sweet and winsome. Once Tom Marshall was to face him in joint debate over a salary grab for which Clay had voted. Clay had the first word, and as he warmed to his work Marshall slunk away through the crowd in despair. "Come back," said Clay's haters to him; "you can answer every point." "Of course," replied Marshall, "but I can't get up there and do it now." The common people shouted for Clay as they shouted for neither Webster nor Adams. He had infinite fund of anecdote, remembered everyone he had ever seen, and was kindly to all. John Tyler is said to have wept when Clay failed of the Presidential nomination in the Whig Convention of 1839.


Clay's vices and inconsistencies were readily forgiven. He had denounced duelling as barbarous, yet when sharp-tongued John Randolph referred to him and Adams as having, in 1825, formed "the coalition of Blifil and Black George, the combination of the Puritan and the blackleg"—for Clay gambled—Clay challenged him. They met, the diminutive Randolph being in his dressing-gown. Neither was hurt, as Randolph fired in air and Clay was no shot. Being asked why he did not kill Randolph, Clay said: "I aimed at the part of his gown where I thought he was, but when the bullet got there he had moved." In 1842, when Lord Ashburton was in Washington, there was a famous whist game, my lord, with Mr. Crittenden, playing against Clay and the Russian Minister, Count Bodisco, while Webster looked on. "What shall the stake be?" asked his lordship. "Out of deference to Her Majesty," said Clay, "we will make it a sovereign."

John Randolph. From a picture by Jarvis in 1811, at the New York Historical Society.

Emphatically patriotic, super-eminent in debate, ambitious, adventurous in political diplomacy, a hard worker, incessant in activity for his party, temperate upon the slavery question, whole-souled in every measure or policy calculated to advance nationality, this versatile man may be put down as foremost among the leaders of the Whig Party from its origin till his death.




It was a delicate question after the Louisiana purchase how much territory it embraced east of the Mississippi. Louisiana had under France, till 1762, reached the Perdido, Florida's western boundary at present, and was "retroceded" by Spain to France in 1800 "with the same extent that it had when France possessed it." The United States of course succeeded to whatever France thus recovered. Spain claimed still to own West Florida, the name given by Great Britain on receiving it from France in 1763 to the part of Louisiana between the Perdido and the Mississippi. Spain had never acquired the district from France, but obtained it by conquest from Great Britain during our Revolution.

This claim by Spain, based only on the "retro" in the treaty of 1800, our Government viewed as fanciful, regarding West Florida undoubtedly ours through the Louisiana purchase. Spain was intractable, first of herself, later still more so through Napoleon's dictation. Hence our offer, in Jefferson's time, to avoid war, of a lump sum for the two Floridas was spurned by her. In 1810 and 1811, to save it from anarchy—also to save it from Great Britain or France, now in the whitest heat of their contest for Spain—we occupied West Florida, as certainly entitled to it against those powers, yet with no view of precluding further negotiations with Spain. When in 1812 Louisiana became a State, its eastern boundary ran as now, including a goodly portion of the region in debate.


The necessity of acquiring East Florida, too, was more and more apparent. That country was without rule, full of filibusterers, privateers, hostile refugee Creeks and runaway negroes, of whose services the English had availed themselves freely during the war of 1812, when Spaniards and English made Florida a perpetual base for hostile raids into our territory. A fort then built by the English on the Appalachicola and left intact at the peace with some arms and ammunition, had been occupied by the negroes, who, from this retreat, menaced the peace beyond the line. Spain could not preserve law and order here. This was perhaps a sufficient excuse for the act of General Gaines in crossing into Florida and bombarding the negro fort, July 27, 1816. Amelia Island, on the Florida coast, a nest of lawless men from every nation, was in 1817 also seized by the United States with the same propriety. Knowledge that Spain resented these acts encouraged the Floridians. Collisions continually occurred all along the line, finally growing into general hostility. Such was the origin of the First Seminole War.

James Monroe. From a painting by Gilbert Stuart—now the property of T. Jefferson Coolidge.


December, 1817, Jackson was placed in command in Georgia. To clear out the filibusterers, the chief source of the Indians' discontent ever since before the Creek War, the hero of New Orleans, mistakenly supposing himself to be fortified by his Government's concurrence, boldly took forcible possession of all East Florida. Ambrister and Arbuthnot, two officious English subjects found there, he put to death.

This procedure was quite characteristic of Old Hickory. He acted upon the theory that by the law of nations any citizen of one land making war upon another land, the two being at peace, becomes an outlaw. International law has no such doctrine, and most likely the maxim occurred to Jackson rather as an excuse after the act than in the way of forethought. Nor was it ever proved that the two victims were guilty as Jackson alleged. With him this probably made little difference. Having undertaken to quiet the Floridian outbreaks he was determined to accomplish his end, whatever the consequences of some of his means.

With the country the New Orleans victor, who had now dared to hang a British subject, was ten times a hero, but the deed confused and troubled Monroe's cabinet not a little. Calhoun wished General Jackson censured, while all his cabinet colleagues disapproved his high-handed acts and stood ready to disavow them with reparation. On this occasion Jackson owed much to one whom he subsequently hated and denounced, viz., Quincy Adams, by whose bold and acute defence of his doubtful doings, managed with a fineness of argument and diplomacy which no then American but Adams could command, he was formally vindicated before both his own Government and the Governments of England and Spain.

The posts seized had of course to be given up, yet our bold invasion had rendered Spain willing at last to sell Florida, while Great Britain, wishing our countenance in her opposition to the anti-progressive, misnamed Holy Alliance of continental monarchs, concurred. Spain after all got the better of the bargain, as we surrendered all claim to Texas, which the Louisiana purchase had really made ours.


The Florida imbroglio nursed to its first public utterance a sentiment which has ever since been spontaneously taken as a principle of American public policy, almost as if it were a part of our law itself. Spain's American dependencies had been sensible enough to avail themselves of that land's distraction in Napoleon's time, to set up as states on their own account. She naturally wanted them back. Ferdinand VII. withheld till 1820 his signature of the treaty ceding Florida, in order to prevent—which, after all, it did not—our recognition of these revolted provinces as independent nations. Backed by the powerful Austrian minister, Metternich, and by the Holy Alliance, France, having aided Ferdinand to suppress at home the liberal rebellion of 1820-23, began to moot plans for subduing the new Spanish-American States. Great Britain opposed this, out of motives partly commercial, partly philanthropic, partly relating to international law, yet was unwilling so early to recognize the independence of those nations as the United States had done.

Assured at least of England's moral support, President Monroe in his message of December, 1823, declared that we should consider any attempt on the part of the allied monarchs "to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety," and any interposition by them to oppress the young republics or to control their destiny, "as a manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States." This, in kernel, is the first part of Monroe's doctrine.

The second part added: "The American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers." The meaning of this was that the mere hap of first occupancy on the continent by the citizens of any country would not any longer be recognized by us as giving that country a title to the spot occupied.

These important doctrines—for though akin in principle they are really two—were no sudden creation of individual thought, but the result rather of slow processes in the public mind. Germs of the first are traceable to Washington; express statements of both, yet not essentially detracting from Monroe's originality, to Jefferson. Both were put in form by Quincy Adams, Monroe's Secretary of State. Especially Monroe's, we believe, is the second, a resolution to which Russia's advance down the Pacific coast, and more still the recent vexations from the proximity of Spain in Florida, had pushed him.



Louisiana having become a State in 1812, that portion of the purchase north of the thirty-third degree took the name of the Missouri Territory. St. Louis was its centre of population and of influence.


Being found in this extensive domain at the purchase, slavery had never been hindered in its growth. It had therefore taken firm root and was popular. The application, early in 1818, of the densest part of Missouri Territory for admission into the Union as a slave State, called attention to this threatening status of slavery beyond the Mississippi, and occasioned in Congress a prolonged, able, angry, and momentous debate. Jefferson, still alive, wrote, "The Missouri question is the most portentous which has ever threatened the Union. In the gloomiest hour of the Revolutionary War I never had apprehensions equal to those which I feel from this source."

To see the bearing of the tremendous question thus raised, we have need of a retrospect. Property in man is older than history and has been nearly universal. It cannot be doubted that in an early stage of human development slavery is a means of furthering civilization. Negro slavery originated in Africa, spread to Spain before the discovery of America, to America soon after, and from the Spanish colonies to the English. The first notice we have of it in English America is that in 1619 a Dutch ship landed twenty blacks at Jamestown for sale. The Dutch West India Company began importing slaves into Manhattan in 1626. There were slaves in New England by 1637. Newport was subsequently a great harbor for slavers. Georgia offered the strongest resistance to the introduction of the system, but it was soon overcome. Till about 1700, Virginia had a smaller proportion of slave population than some northern colonies, and the change later was mostly due to considerations not of morality but of profit. Anti-slavery cries were indeed heard from an early period, but they were few and faint. Penn held slaves, though ordering their emancipation at his death. Whitfield thought slavery to be of God. But its most culpable abettor was the English Government, moved by the profits of the slave trade. A Royal African Company, with the Duke of York, afterward James II., for some time its president, was formed to monopolize this business, which monarchs and ministries furthered to the utmost of their power.

Thus the Revolution found slavery in all the colonies, north as well as south. But it was then, so far south as Virginia, thought to be an evil. That commonwealth had passed many laws to restrain it, but the King had commanded the Governor not to assent to any of them. The Legislature, replying, stigmatized the traffic as inhuman and a threat to the very existence of the colony. Hostility extended from the trade to slavery itself. Jefferson was for emancipation with deportation, and trembled for his country as he reflected upon the wrong of slavery and the justice of God. Patrick Henry, George Mason, Peyton Randolph, Washington, Madison, in a word all the great Virginians of the time held similar views.

The Quakers of Pennsylvania were, however, the most aggressive of slavery's foes. So early as 1775 a society, the first in America if not in the world for promoting its abolition, was formed in Pennsylvania. In 1789 it was incorporated, with Franklin for president. Similar organizations soon rose in several northern States, numbering among their members many of the most eminent men in the land. The British Abolition Society, formed in 1787, and the labors of Wilberforce, Clarkson, and Zachary Macaulay against the slave trade in the West Indies, had influence here, as had still more the French Assembly's bold proclamation of the Rights of Man.

The Ordinance of 1787 for the Northwest Territory marked a most decisive point in the history of slavery. By its decree, in Jefferson's language, there was never to be either slavery or involuntary servitude in the said territory otherwise than in punishment for crimes. It is to the everlasting honor of the southern members then in the Continental Congress that they all voted for this inhibition. Virginia, whose assent as a State was necessary to its validity, she having at this time rights over much of the domain in question, also concurred. Whatever the strictly legal weight of this prohibition over the immense Louisiana purchase, it certainly aided much in confirming freedom as the presupposition and maxim of our law over all our national territory.

Vermont had never recognized slavery save to prohibit it in its first constitution. In New Hampshire it existed but nominally. The Massachusetts constitution of 1780 virtually ended it in that State. Gradual abolition statutes passed in Pennsylvania in 1780, in Rhode Island and Connecticut in 1784. The constitution made it possible to forbid the importation of slaves in 1808. A national law to that effect was passed in 1807, making the trade illegal and affixing to it heavy penalties. The American Colonization Society was formed in 1816 for the purpose of negro deportation. It did little of this, but rendered some service toward carrying out the act against slave importation. A new law in 1820, which made this traffic piracy, punishable with death, was partly due to its influence. Also many, like Birney, Gerrit Smith and the Tappans, who began as colonizationists, subsequently became abolitionists.

Notwithstanding all these influences slavery increased in strength every year. South Carolina and Georgia were finding it exceedingly profitable for cotton and rice culture, and the income from slave traffic into the vast opening lands of Tennessee and Kentucky constituted an irresistible temptation. In spite of the law of 1807 and of the indescribable horrors of the business, even the foreign slave trade went on. The institution found many defenders in the Federal Convention of 1787, and in the first and subsequent Congresses. The pleas began to be raised, so current later, that the negro was an inferior being, slavery God's ordinance, a blessing to slaves and masters alike, and emancipation a folly. Now began also that policy of bravado by which, for sixty years, the friends of slavery bullied their opponents into shameful inaction upon that accursed thing politically as well as morally, which was so nearly to cost the nation its life. Thus stood matters when the Missouri Compromise was mooted in the national Legislature.

We hardly need say that this strife ended in a compromise. Missouri was created a slave State, balanced by Maine as a free State, but at the same time slavery was to be excluded forever from all the remainder of the Louisiana purchase north of 36 degrees 30 minutes, the southern line of Virginia and Kentucky as well as of Missouri itself. The land between Missouri and Louisiana had been in 1819 erected into the "Territory of Arkansaw."

In the memorable discussion over this issue, involving the country as well as Congress, two sorts of argumentation were heard in favor of the suit of Missouri. The genuine pro-slavery men urged the sacredness of property as such, and the special sacredness of property-right in slaves as tacitly guaranteed by the Constitution. They also made much of the third article of the Louisiana purchase treaty. This read as follows: "The inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated in the Union of the United States and admitted as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens of the United States; and in the meantime they shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property, and the religion which they profess."

There were with these, men who acted from mere policy, thinking it best to admit the slave State because of the difficulty and also the danger to the Union of suppressing slavery there. They appealed as well to the sacred compromises in the Constitution, meaning the permission at first to import slaves, the three-fifths rule for slave representation in Congress, and the fugitive slave clause. They spoke much of the necessity of preserving the balance of power within the Union, and of Congress's inaction as to slavery in the Louisiana purchase hitherto, and also in Florida. These arguments won many professed foes of slavery, as Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and Quincy Adams. In all Congress Clay was the most earnest pleader for the compromise.

To all these arguments the unbending friends of free soil replied that property right was subordinate to the national good, and that Congress had full power over territorial institutions and should never have permitted slavery to curse the domain in question. If it had committed error in the past, that could not excuse continuance in error. The terms of the Louisiana purchase, it was further urged, could not, even if they had been meant to do so, which was not true, detract from this sovereign power. It was pointed out that in every case in which a State had been admitted thus far, Congress had prescribed conditions. It was boldly said, still further, that if slavery threatened disunion unless allowed its way, it ought all the more to be denied its way.

The chief strength of slavery in this crisis lay in the distressing practical difficulty, if the prayer of Missouri were refused, of dealing with slaves and slave proprietorship there, and of quieting a numerous and spirited population bent upon statehood and slavery together. The more decided foes of slavery did not sufficiently consider these complications. Nor did they duly reflect upon the sweeping triumph which freedom had withal secured in the pledge that the vast bulk of the Louisiana purchase should be forever free. The pledge was indeed broken in 1854, but not until such a sense of its sacredness had been impressed upon the country that the breach availed slavery nothing.




The tariff rates of 1816 on cottons and woollens were to be twenty-five per cent. for three years, after that twenty. Instead of this the cotton tariff was in 1824 replaced at twenty-five per cent., the same as that upon woollens costing thirty-three and a third cents or less per square yard; woollens over this price bearing thirty per cent. Wool, which by the tariff of 1816 was free, now bore, some grades fifteen, some twenty, some thirty per cent. Iron duties were put up in 1818 and again in 1824, from which date for ten years they ranged between forty and one hundred per cent. The whole tendency of tariff rates was strongly upward. The duty upon all dutiables averaged between 1816 and 1824 only twenty-four and a half per cent; from 1824 to 1828 the average was thirty-two and a half per cent. Importation remained copious, notwithstanding, which made the cry for protection louder than ever.


From Quincy Adams's presidency the tariff question becomes on the one hand political, dividing Whigs from Democrats about exactly, which had never been the case before, and on the other, sectional, the West, the Centre, and now also the East, pitted against the solid South, except Louisiana. The year 1824 heard Webster's last speech for free trade and saw Calhoun's and Jackson's last vote for protection. However, so strong was the protectionist sentiment in the XXth Congress, though democratic, that free-traders could hope to defeat the new tariff bill of 1828 only by rendering it odious to New England. They therefore conspired to make prohibitive its rates for Smyrna wool, and nearly so those on iron, hemp, and cordage for ship-building; also on molasses, the raw material for rum, whereon no drawback was longer to be allowed if it was exported.

John Quincy Adams. From a picture by Gilbert Stuart.

The Whigs had arranged, to be now passed, a series of minimum rates on woollens, by which all costing over fifty cents a square yard were to pay as if costing $2.50, and all over this as if costing $4.00. The rate was to be forty per cent. the first year, forty-five the second, and fifty thereafter.

This illustrates the famous "minimum principle," which has played such a figure in all our tariff history since 1816, its effect being always to make the tariff much higher than it seems. Thus in the case before us, most of the woollens then imported cost about ninety cents. If based on this price, the tariff would be thirty-six per cent., but if based on $2.50 as the price, it would mount up to one hundred and ten per cent. To prevent this and to render the bill still more unpalatable to the Whigs, the Democrats introduced a dollar "minimum," so that the tariff on the bulk of our imported woollens, costing, as just stated, about ninety cents, would come in at forty-four and four-tenths per cent.

But as this was after all more vigorous protection than woollens had before received, amounting, through minima, in some cases to over one hundred per cent., sixteen out of the thirty-nine New England members, led by Webster, accepted this universally odious tariff bill—the Tariff of Abominations, it was called—as the preferable evil, and, aided by a few Democrats in each house, made it a law. The average duty on dutiables was now about forty-three and a third per cent.

No one can question that this high tariff worked injustice to the South. It forced from her an undue share of the national taxes, as well as extensive tribute to northern manufacturers. But in resenting the evil she exaggerated it, mistakenly referring all the relative decrease in her prosperity to tariff legislation, when a great part of it was due simply to slavery. The South complained that selfishness and political ambition, not patriotism or reason, determined the dominant policy, and there was of course some truth in this. Moreover, as New England now favored it, this policy bade fair to become permanent, and since the tariff bills did not announce protection as their purpose, the constitutionality of them could not be gotten before the courts.


Nearly all the southern Legislatures consequently denounced the tariff as unjust and as hostile to our fundamental law. Most of them were, however, prudent enough to suggest no illegal remedies. Not so with fiery South Carolina, where a large party, inspired by Calhoun, proposed a bold nullification of the tariff act, virtually amounting to secession. At a dinner in this interest at Washington, April 13, 1830, Calhoun offered the toast: "The Union; next to our liberty the most dear; only to be preserved by respecting the rights of the States."


John C. Calhoun was now, except, perhaps, Clay, the ablest and most influential politician in all the South. Born in South Carolina in 1782, of Irish-Presbyterian parentage, though poor and in youth ill-educated like Clay and Jackson, his energy carried him through Yale College, and through a course of legal study at Litchfield, Conn., where stood the only law school then in America. November, 1811, found him a member of Congress, on fire for war with Britain. Monroe's Secretary of War for seven years from 1817, he was in 1825 elected Vice-President, and reelected in 1828. He had meantime turned an ardent free-trader, and seeing the North's predominance in the Union steadily increasing, had built up a nullification theory based upon that of the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions and the Hartford Convention, and upon the history of the formation of our Constitution. He had worked out to his own satisfaction the untenable view that each State had the right, not in the way of revolution but under the Constitution itself—as a contract between parties that had no superior referee—to veto national laws upon its own judgment of their unconstitutionality.

John C. Calhoun From a picture by King at the Corcoran Art Gallery.

On this doctrine South Carolina presently proceeded to act. November 24, 1832, the convention of that State passed its nullification ordinance, declaring the tariff acts of 1828 and 1832 "null, void, and no law," defying Congress to execute them there, and agreeing, upon the first use of force for this purpose, to form a separate government.

This was the quintessence of folly even had good theory been behind it. The tone of the proceeding was too hasty and peremptory. The decided turn of public opinion and of congressional action in favor of large reduction in duties was ignored. But the theory appealed to was clearly wrong, and along with its advocates was sure to be reprobated by the nation. A precious opportunity effectively to redress the evil complained of was wantonly thrown away. Worst of all, from a tactical point of view, South Carolina had miscalculated the spirit of President Jackson. At the dinner referred to, his toast had been the memorable words: "Our Federal Union; it must be preserved." Men now saw that Old Hickory was in earnest. General Scott, with troops and warships, was ordered to Charleston.

The nullifiers receded, a course made easier by Clay's "compromise tariff" of 1833, gradually reducing duties for the next ten years, and enlarging the free list. From all duties of over twenty per cent. by the act of 1832, one-tenth of the excess was to be stricken off on September 30, 1835, and another tenth every other year till 1841. Then one-half the excess remaining was to fall, and in 1842 the rest, so that the end of the last named year should find no duty over twenty per cent.

This episode, threatening as it was for a time, drew in its train results the most happy, revealing with unprecedented vividness to most, both the original nature of the Constitution as not a compact, and also the might which national sentiment had attained since the War of 1812. The doctrine of state rights was seen to have gradually lost, over the greater part of the country, all its old vitality. Nearly every State Legislature condemned the South Carolina pretensions, Democrats as hearty in this as Whigs. Jackson's proclamation against them—impressive and unanswerable—ran thus: "The Constitution of the United States forms a government, not a league; and whether it be formed by compact between the States, or in any other manner, its character is the same . . . . I consider the power to annul a law of the United States incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the Constitution, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed. . . . Our Constitution does not contain the absurdity of giving power to make laws, and another power to resist them. To say that any State may at pleasure secede from the Union is to say that the United States are not a nation."

Calhoun's Library and Office.

The congressional debates which the nullification question evoked, among the ablest in our parliamentary history, held the like high national tenor. Calhoun's idea, though advocated by him with consummate skill, was shown to be wholly chimerical. The doughty South Carolinian, from this moment a waning force in American politics, was supported by Hayne almost alone, the arguments of both melting into air before Webster's masterful handling of constitutional history and law. Not questioning the right of revolution, admitting the general government to be one of "strictly limited," even of "enumerated, specified, and particularized powers," the Massachusetts orator made it convincingly apparent that the Calhoun programme could lead to nothing but anarchy. It was seen that general and state governments emanate from the people with equal immediacy, and that the language of the clause, "the Constitution and the laws of the United States made in pursuance thereof" are "the supreme law of the land, anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding," means precisely what it says. To this language little attention had apparently been paid till this time.




Andrew Jackson was born March 15, 1767. His parents had come from Carrick-fergus, Ireland, two years before. He was without any education worthy the name. As a boy, he went into the War for Independence, and was for a time a British prisoner. He studied law in North Carolina, moved west, and began legal practice at Nashville. He was one of the framers of the Tennessee constitution in 1796. In 1797 he was a senator from that State, and subsequently he was a judge on its supreme bench. His exploits in the Creek War, the War of 1812, and the Seminole War are already familiar. They had brought him so prominently and favorably before the country that in 1824 his vote, both popular and electoral, was larger than that of any other candidate. As we have seen, he himself and multitudes throughout the country thought him wronged by the election over him of John Quincy Adams. This contributed largely to his popularity later, and in 1828 he was elected by a popular vote of 647,231, against 509,097 for Adams. Four years later he was reelected against Clay by a still larger majority. Nor did his popularity to any extent wane during his double administration, notwithstanding his many violent and indiscreet acts as President.

Andrew Jackson. From a photograph by Brady.

Much of Jackson's arbitrariness sprung from a foolish whim of his, taking his election as equivalent to the enactment of all his peculiar ideas into law. Ours is a government of the people, he said; the people had spoken in his election, and had willed so and so. Woe to any senator or representative who opposed! This was, of course, to mistake entirely the nature of constitutional government.

After all, Jackson was by no means the ignorant and passionate old man, controlled in everything by Van Buren, that many people, especially in New England, have been accustomed to think him. Illiterate he certainly was, though Adams exaggerated in calling him "a barbarian who could not write a sentence of grammar and could hardly spell his own name." He was never popular in the federalist section of the Union. Yet with all his mistakes and self-will, often inexcusable, he was one of the most patriotic and clear-headed men who ever administered a government. If he resorted to unheard-of methods within the law, very careful was he never to transgress the law.

The most just criticism of Jackson in his time and later related to the civil service. It was during his administration that the cry, "turn the rascals out," first arose, and it is well known that, adopting the policy of New York and Pennsylvania politicians in vogue since 1800, he made nearly a clean sweep of his political opponents from the offices at his disposal. This was the more shameful from being so in contrast with the policy of preceding presidents. Washington removed but two men from office, one of these a defaulter; Adams ten, one of these also a defaulter; Jefferson but thirty-nine; Madison five, three of them defaulters; and Monroe nine. The younger Adams removed but two, both of them for cause.


Yet of Jackson's procedure in this matter it can be said, in partial excuse, so bitter had been the opposition to him by officeholders as well as others, that many removals were undoubtedly indispensable in order to the efficiency of the public service. It is not at all necessary for the rank and file of the civil service to be of the same party with the Chief Magistrate, but it is necessary that they should not be so utterly opposed to him as to feel bound in conscience to be working for his defeat.

The fine art of party organization, semi-military in form, has come to us from Jackson and his workers. Before his time, candidates for high state offices had usually been nominated by legislative caucuses, and those for national posts by congressional caucuses. State party conventions had been held in Pennsylvania and New York. Soon after 1830 such a device for national nominations began to be thought of, and the history of national party conventions may be said to begin with the campaign of 1832.


Jackson's dearest foe while in office was the United States Bank. Magnifying the dishonesty which had, as everyone knew, disgraced its management, he attacked it as a monster, an engine of the moneyed classes for grinding the face of the poor. Like Jefferson, like Madison at first, he disbelieved in its constitutionality. In his first message and continually in his official utterances he inveighed against it as a public danger, using its funds and patronage for party ends. This made him unpopular with many who had been his friends, so that in the campaign of 1832 Clay forced the bank question to the front as one on which Jackson's attitude would greatly advantage the whig cause. He accepted Clay's challenge with pleasure, and from this moment gave the bank no quarter. We may call the contest of this year a pitched battle between Jackson and the bank.

Roger B. Taney.


In 1832 he vetoed a bill for a renewal of its charter, which was to expire in 1836, and in 1833 he proceeded to break it by removing the United States deposits which it held. Such removal was by law within the power of the Secretary of the Treasury. Secretary McLane refused to execute Jackson's will. He was removed and Duane appointed. Then Duane was removed and Roger B. Taney appointed, who obeyed the President's behest. The bank was emptied by checking out the public money as wanted, at the same time depositing no more, the funds being instead placed in "pet" state banks, as they were called because of the government favor thus shown them.

The financial distress rightly or wrongly ascribed to this measure throughout the country, instead of injuring Jackson, probably, on the whole, made him still more popular, as showing the power of the bank. When Congress met in 1833, the Senate passed a vote of censure upon him for what he had done. Rancorous wranglings and debates pervaded Congress and the whole land. After persistent effort by Jackson's bosom friend, Senator Benton, of Missouri, this censure-vote was expunged by the XXIVth Congress, second session, January 16, 1837. This was before Jackson left office, and he accounted it the greatest triumph of his public life.


Jackson was somehow fortunate in dealing with foreign nations. It was he who recovered for American ships that British West Indian trade which had been so long denied. Negotiations were opened with Great Britain, which, in 1830, had the result of placing American vessels in the British West Indian ports at an equal advantage with British vessels sailing thither from the United States—terms which, through the contiguity of those islands to us, gave us a trade there better than that of any other nation. This diplomacy brought the administration much applause.

When Jackson became President, France was still in our debt on account of her spoliations upon American commerce after the settlement of 1803. The matter had been in negotiation ever since 1815, but hitherto in vain. Jackson took it up with zeal, but with his usual apparent recklessness. A treaty had been concluded in 1831, as a final settlement between the two countries, binding France to pay twenty-five million francs and the United States to pay one and one-half million. The first instalment from France became due February 2, 1833, but was not paid. Jackson's message to Congress in 1834, not an instalment having yet been received, contained a distinct threat of war should not payment begin forthwith. He also bade Edward Livingston, minister at Paris, in the same contingency to demand his passports and leave Paris for London.


Most public men, even those in his cabinet, thought this action foolhardy and useless; but Quincy Adams, neither expecting nor receiving any thanks for it, just as in the Seminole War difficulty, nobly stood up for the President. A telling speech by him in the House led to its unanimous resolution, March 2, 1835, that the execution of the treaty should be insisted on. The French ministry blustered, and for a time diplomatic relations between the two countries were entirely ruptured. But France, affecting to see in the message of 1835, though voiced in precisely the same tone as its predecessor, some apology for the menace contained in that, began its payments. This money, as also all due from the other states included in Napoleon's continental system, was paid during Jackson's administration, a result which brought him and his party great praise, not more for the money than for the respect and consideration secured to the United States by insistence upon its rights. The President's message to Congress in 1835 announced the entire extinguishment of the public debt—the first and the last time this has occurred in all our national history.

An important measure touching the hard-money system of our country was passed in large part through the influence of President Jackson. By the Mint Law of 1792 our silver dollar was made to contain three hundred and seventy-one and a quarter grains of fine silver, or four hundred and sixteen of standard silver. The amount of pure silver in this venerable coin has remained unchanged ever since; only, in 1837, by a reduction of the alloy fraction to exactly one-tenth, the total weight of the coin became what it now is, four hundred and twelve and a half grains, nine-tenths fine. The same law of 1792 had given the gold dollar just one-fifteenth the weight of the silver dollar. This proportion, which Hamilton had arrived at after careful investigation characteristic of the man, was exactly correct at the time, but within a year, as is now known, on account of increase in the relative value of gold, the gold dollar at fifteen to one became more valuable than its silver mate. The consequence was that the gold brought to the United States mint for coinage fell off year by year, until some of the years between 1820 and 1830 it had been almost zero. Gold money had nearly ceased to circulate.


Jackson resolved to restore the yellow metal to daily use. In this he was opposed by many Whigs, who, so zealous were they for the United States Bank, had become paper money men. The so-called Gold Bill was carried through Congress in 1834, changing the proportion of silver to gold in our currency from fifteen to one to sixteen to one. It should have been fifteen and a half to one. Now gold in its turn was over-valued, so that silver gradually ceased to circulate, as gold had almost ceased before. This result was made worse after 1848, when there was a still further appreciation of silver through the discovery of gold in California and Australia. Silver dollars did not again circulate freely in the country until 1878, though they were full legal tender till 1873. Gold, on the other hand, was everywhere seen after 1834, though not abundant in circulation, owing to the large amounts of paper money then in use.

In 1836 the President ordered his Secretary of the Treasury to put forth the famous Specie Circular, declaring that only gold, silver, or land scrip should be received in payment for public lands. The occasion of this was that while land sales were very rapidly increasing, the receipts hitherto had consisted largely in the notes of insolvent banks. Land speculators would organize a bank, procure for it, if they could, the favor of being a "pet" bank, issue notes, borrow these as individuals and buy land with them. The notes were deposited, when they would borrow them again to buy land with, and so on. As there was little specie in the West, the circular broke up many a fine plan, and evoked much ill-feeling. Gold was drawn from the East, where, as many of the banks had none too much, the drain caused not a few of them to collapse. The condition of business at this time was generally unsound, and this westward movement of gold was all that was needed to precipitate a crisis. A crisis accordingly came on soon after, painfully severe. It is unfair, however, to arraign Jackson's order as wholly responsible for the evils which accompanied this monetary cataclysm. It was rather an occasion than the cause.




Partly Jackson's personal influence, partly his able aides, partly favoring circumstances had, during his administrations, brought the Democracy into excellent condition, patriotic, national in general spirit, with a creed that, however imperfect—close construction being its integrating idea—was, after all, definite, consistent, and thoughtful. Yet in 1840 the Democrats, who four years before had chosen Van Buren by an electoral vote of 170 to 73, had to surrender, with the same Van Buren for candidate, to the Whigs by a majority of 234 electoral votes to 60; only five States, and but two of them northern, going for the democratic candidate.

There were several causes for this defeat. Jackson had made many enemies as well as many friends, some of these within his own party, while the entire opposition to him was indescribably bitter on account of the personal element entering into the struggle. The commendably national spirit of the Whig Party told well in its favor. Upon this point its attitude proved far more in accord with the best sentiment of the nation than that of the Democracy, sound as the latter was at the core and nobly as its chief had behaved in the nullification crisis.

More influential still was the financial predicament into which on Jackson's retirement his successor and the country were plunged. The commercial distress which seemed to spring from Jackson's measures was now first fully realized. Anger and pain from the death of the bank had not abated. Ardent hatred prevailed toward the "pet" banks, extending to the party whose darlings they were, while the Specie Circular was held to have ruined most of the others. The subsequent legislation for distributing the treasury surplus among the States, by removing the deposits from the pet banks, destroyed many of these as well. They had been using this government money for the discount of loans to business men, and were not in condition instantly to pay it back. Hence the panic of 1837. First the New York City banks suspended, soon followed by the others throughout that State, all sustained in their course by an act of the Legislature. Suspension presently occurred everywhere else. The financial pressure continued through the entire summer of 1837, banks, corporations, and business men going to the wall, and all values greatly sinking. Boston suffered one hundred and sixty-eight business failures in six months.

Martin Van Buren. From a photograph by Brady.

One of Van Buren's earliest acts after assuming office was to call an extra session of Congress for September 4, 1837, to consider the financial condition of the country. When it convened, an increase of the whig vote was apparent, though the Democrats were still in the majority. On the President's recommendation, agitation now began in favor of the sub-treasury or independent treasury plan, still in use to-day, of keeping the government moneys. This had been first broached in 1834-35 by Whigs. The Democrats then opposed it; but now they took it up as a means of counteracting the whig purpose to revive a national bank.

There was soon less need of any such special arrangement, as the treasury was swiftly running dry. In June of the preceding year, 1836, both parties concurring, an act had passed providing that after January 1, 1837, all surplus revenue should be distributed to the States in proportion to their electoral votes. It was meant to be a loan, to be recalled, however, only by vote of Congress, but it proved a donation. Twenty-eight millions were thus paid in all, never to return. Such a disposition of the revenue had now to be stopped and reverse action instituted. Importers called for time on their revenue bonds, which had to be allowed, and this checked income. This special session was needed to authorize an issue of ten millions in treasury notes to tide the Government over the crisis.


Another influence which now worked powerfully against the Democracy was hostility to slavery. This campaign—it was the first—saw a "Liberty Party" in the field, with its own candidates, Birney and Earle. The abolition sentiment, of which more will be said in a subsequent chapter, was growing day by day, and little as the Whigs could be called an antislavery party on the whole, their rank and file were very much more of that mind than those of the opposition. Jackson had ranted wildly against the despatch of abolition literature through the mails. The second Seminole War, 1835-42, was waged mainly in deference to slave-holders, to recover for them their Florida runaways, and, by removal of the Seminoles beyond the Mississippi, to break up a popular resort for escaped negroes. The Indians, under Osceola, whose wife, as daughter to a slave-mother, had been treacherously carried back into bondage, fought like tigers. After their massacre of Major Dade and his detachment, Generals Gaines, Jesup, Taylor, Armistead, and Worth successively marched against them, none but the last-named successful in subduing them. Over 500 persons had been restored to slavery, each one costing the Government, as was estimated, at least $80,000 and the lives of three white soldiers.

General William J. Worth.


Van Buren was to the slavocrats even more obsequious than Jackson. His spirit was shown, among other things, by the Amistad case, in 1839. The schooner Amistad was sailing between Havana and Puerto Principe with a cargo of negroes kidnapped in Africa. Under the lead of a bright negro named Cinque the captives revolted and killed or confined all the crew but two, whom they commanded to steer the ship for Africa. Instead, these directed her to the United States coast, where she was seized off Long Island by a war vessel and brought into New London. The negroes were, even by Spanish law, not slaves but free men, as Spain had prohibited the slave trade. Yet when their case was tried before the district court, Mr. Van Buren spared no effort to procure their release to the Spanish claimants. He even had a government vessel all ready to convey the poor victims back to Cuba. The district court having decided for the blacks, the government attorney appealed to the circuit court, thence also to the supreme court. Final judgment happily re-affirmed that the men were free. The supreme court trial was the occasion of one of John Quincy Adams's most splendid forensic victories, he being the counsel for the negroes.

The attitude of the administration in this affair greatly injured the party in the North, the more as it but illustrated a spirit and policy which had grown characteristic of the party's head. In several instances previous to this time, when ships conveying slaves from one of the United States to another, entered the ports of the Bahama Islands through stress of weather, England had, while freeing them, allowed some compensation. Now, having emancipated the slaves in her own West Indian possessions, she declined longer to continue that practice. Her first refusal touched the slaves on the ship Enterprise, which had put in at Port Hamilton in 1835. Jackson's administration in vain sought indemnity, Van Buren, then Secretary of State, designating this business as "the most immediately pressing" before the English embassy.


In the same pro-slavery interest an increasing proportion of the Democracy, though not Van Buren himself, had come to favor the annexation of Texas. The southwestern boundary of the United States had ever since the purchase in Florida in 1819 been recognized as the Sabine River, west of this lying the then foreign country of Texas. France had claimed the Rio Grande as Louisiana's western bound, but Mr. Monroe, to placate the North in the Florida annexation, had receded from this claim. Texas and Coahuila became a state in the new Mexican republic, which Spain recognized in 1821; but in 1836 Texas declared itself independent. It was ill-governed and weighed down with debt, and hence almost immediately, in 1837, asked membership in the American Union. Its annexation was bitterly opposed all over the North, so bitterly in fact that the northern Democrats would not have dared, even had they wished, to favor the scheme. Yet so strong was the southern influence in the party by 1840 that the democratic platform that year urged the "re-annexation" of Texas, the term assuming that as a part of Louisiana it had always been ours since 1803. This was a fact, but it was now asseverated by the Democracy for a selfish sectional purpose, and the cry brought thousands of votes to the Whigs.

It proved good politics for the Whigs in 1840 to pass over Clay and adopt as their candidate William Henry Harrison. He had indeed been unsuccessful in 1836, owing to the great popularity of Jackson, all whose influence went for Van Buren; but now that "Little Van," or "Matty," as Jackson used to call him, stood alone, Harrison had a better chance. His political record had been inconspicuous but honorable. Nothing could be alleged against his character. He was a gentleman of some ability, while his brilliant military record in 1812, now revived to the minutest detail, gave him immense popularity. Every surviving Tippecanoe or Thames veteran stumped his vicinity for the old war-horse. Many wavering Democrats in the South, especially those of the nullification stripe, were toled to the whig ticket by the nomination of John Tyler for Vice-President. "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" rang through the land as the whig watchword for the campaign. During the electioneering every hamlet was regaled with portrayals of Harrison's simple farm life at North Bend, where, a log cabin his dwelling, and hard cider—so one would have supposed—his sole beverage, he had been a genuine Cincinnatus. "Tippecanoe and Tyler" were therefore elected; their popular vote numbering 1,275,017, against 1,128,702 polled for Van Buren.

William Henry Harrison From a Copy at the Corcoran Art Gallery of a painting by Beard in 1840.

However, this whig success, for a moment so imposing, proved superficial and brief. Harrison died at the end of his first month in office, and Tyler, coming in, showed that though training under the whig banner, he had not renounced a single one of his democratic principles. The Whigs scorned and soon officially repudiated him During the entire four years that he held office there was constant deadlock between him and the slight whig majority in Congress, which gave the Democrats main control in legislation. The panic of 1837 was forgotten, while the hold of the Democracy upon the country was so firm that its gains in Congress and its triumphs in the States once more went steadily on.




By the census of 1830 the United States had a population of 12,866,020, the increase having been for the preceding ten years about sufficient to double the inhabitants in thirty years. There were twenty-four States, Indiana having been taken into the Union in 1816, Mississippi in 1817, Illinois in 1818, Alabama in 1819, Maine in 1820, and Missouri, the last, in 1821. Florida, Michigan, and Arkansas were the Territories. The area, now that Florida had been annexed, was 725,406 square miles.

Comparatively little of the soil of Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin had as yet been occupied, though settlements were making on most of the larger streams. The southwest had at this time filled up more rapidly than the northwest. In 1830 the centre of population for the Union was farther south than it has ever been at any other time. Except in Louisiana and Missouri, not over thirty thousand inhabitants were to be found west of the Mississippi. The vast outer ranges of the Louisiana purchase remained a mysterious wilderness. Indianapolis in 1827 contained twenty-five brick houses, sixty frame, and about eighty log houses; also a court-house, a jail, and three churches. Chicago was laid out in 1830. Thither in, 1834 went one mail per week, from Niles, Mich., on horseback. In 1833 it was incorporated as a town, having 175 houses and 550 inhabitants. That year it began publishing a newspaper and organized two churches. In 1837 it was a city, with 4,170 inhabitants. The Territory of Iowa had in 1836, 10,500 inhabitants; in 1840, 43,000. At this time Wisconsin had 31,000. So early as 1835 Ohio had nearly or quite 1,000,000 inhabitants. Sixty-five of its towns had together 125 newspapers. Between 1830 and 1840 Ohio's population rose from 900,000 to 1,500,000; Michigan's, from 30,000 to 212,000; and the whole country's, from 13,000,000 to 17,000,000. Before 1840, eight steamers connected Chicago with Buffalo.

John Tyler From a photograph by Brady.

By 1840 nearly all the land of the United States this side the Mississippi had been taken up by settlers. The last districts to be occupied were Northern Maine, the Adirondack region of New York, a strip in Western Virginia from the Potomac southward through Kentucky nearly to the Tennessee line, the Pine Barrens of Georgia, and the extremities of Michigan and Wisconsin. Beyond the Father of Waters his shores were mostly occupied, as well as those of his main tributaries, a good way from their mouths. The Missouri Valley had population as far as Kansas City. Arkansas, Missouri, and Iowa Territory had many settlements at some distance from the streams. The aggregate population of the country was 17,069,453, the average density twenty-one and a tenth to the square mile. The mass of westward immigration was as yet native, since the great rush from Europe only began about 1847. This was fortunate, as fixing forever the American stamp upon the institutions of western States. To compensate each new commonwealth for the non-taxation of the United States land it contained, it received one township in each thirty-six as its own for educational purposes, a provision to which is due the magnificent school system of Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and their younger sisters.

Farther east, too, there had, of course, been growth, but it was slower. In 1827 Hartford had but 6,900 inhabitants; New Haven, 7,100; Newark, N. J., 6,500, and New Brunswick about the same. The State of New York paid out, between 1815 and 1825, nearly $90,000 for the destruction of wolves, showing that its rural population had attained little density. The entire country had vastly improved in all the elements of civilization. A national literature had sprung up, crowding out the reprints of foreign works which had previously ruled the market. Bryant, Cooper, Dana, Drake, Halleck, and Irving were now re-enforced by writers like Bancroft, Emerson, Hawthorne, Holmes, Longfellow, Poe, Prescott, and Whittier. Educational institutions were multiplied and their methods bettered, The number of newspapers had become enormous. Several religious journals were established previous to 1830, among them the New York Observer, which dates from 1820, and the Christian Register, from 1821. Steam printing had been introduced in 1823. The year 1825 saw the first Sunday paper; it was the New York Sunday Courier. Greeley began his New York Tribune only in 1841.

Fresh news had begun to be prized, as shown by the competition between the two great New York sheets, the Journal of Commerce and the Morning Enquirer, each of which, in 1827, established for this purpose swift schooner lines and pony expresses. The Journal oj Commerce in 1833 put on a horse express between Philadelphia and New York, with relays of horses, enabling it to publish congressional news a day earlier than any of its New York contemporaries. Other papers soon imitated this example, whereupon the Journal extended its relays to Washington. Mails came to be more numerous and prompt. More letters were written, and, from 1839, letters were sent in envelopes. Postage-stamps were not used till 1847. Most of the principal cities in the country, including Rochester and Cincinnati, published dailies before 1830. Baltimore and Louisville had each a public school in 1829. This year witnessed in Boston the beginning work of the first blind asylum in the country. In Hartford instruction had already been given to the deaf and dumb since 1817.

A Pony Express.

By the fourth decade of the century the American character had assumed a good deal of definiteness and greatly interested foreign travellers. There was, by those who knew what foreign manners were, much foolish aping of the same. English visitors noted Brother Jonathan's drawl in talking, his phlegmatic temperament, keen eye, and blistering inquisitiveness. Jonathan was a rover and a trader, everywhere at home, everywhere bent upon the main chance. He ate too rapidly, chewed and smoked tobacco, and spat indecently. He drank too much. During the first quarter of the century nearly everyone used liquor, and drunkenness was shamefully common. Every public entertainment, even if religious, set out provision of free punch. At hotels, brandy was placed upon the table, free as water to all. The smaller sects often held preaching services in bar-rooms for lack of better accommodations. On such occasions the preacher was not infrequently observed, without affront to anyone, to refresh himself from behind the bar just before announcing his text.

In 1824 commenced in Boston a temperance movement which accomplished in this matter the most happy reform. It swept New England, passing thence to all the other parts of the Union. By the end of 1829 over a thousand temperance societies were in existence. The distilling and importation of spirits fell off immensely. It became fashionable not to drink, and little by little drinking came to be stigmatized as immoral.

By the time of which we now speak, the old habit of expressing solicitude for the fate of the Union had passed away. Whig like Democrat—so different from old Federalist-swore by "the people." Every American believed in America. Travelling abroad, the man from this country was wont to assume, and if opposed to contend, ill-manneredly sometimes, that its institutions were far the best in the world. No one wished a change. The unparalleled prosperity of all contributed to this satisfaction. Cities and towns came up in a day. Public improvements were to be seen making in every direction. There was no idle aristocracy on the one hand, no beggars on the other. Self-respect was universal. The people held the power. If men attained great wealth, as not a few did, they usually did not waste it but invested it. Business enterprise was intense and common. Character entered into credit as an element along with financial resources. People did not crowd into cities, but loved and built up the country rather. Laws and penalties were become more mild. In 1837 a man was flogged at the whipping-post in Providence, R. I., for horse-stealing, perhaps the last case of the kind in the country. Prisons were now made clean and healthy, and the idea of reforming the criminal instead of taking vengeance upon him was spreading. Reformatories for children had been opened in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. There were institutions for homeless children, for the sick poor, for the insane, and for other unfortunate classes.

By this time the Methodists and Baptists had become extremely strong in numbers. In 1833 the Massachusetts constitution was altered, abolishing obligatory contributions for the support of the ministry of the standing order. Connecticut had made the same change fifteen years before, in its constitution of 1818. In many localities the newer denominations, hitherto sects, were more influential than the old one, and in this abolition of ecclesiastical taxes they had with them Jews, atheists, deists, agnostics, and heathen.

About 1825 began a period of peculiar religious enthusiasm. Missions to the heathen were instituted. Revivals were numerous and often shook whole neighborhoods for weeks and months. About this date Millerism began to make converts. William Miller, from whom it took its name, preached far and wide that the world would be destroyed in 1843, securing multitudes of disciples, who clung to his general belief even after his prophecy as to the specific date for the final catastrophe was seen to have failed. Mormonism was also founded, in 1830, and the Book of Mormon published by Joseph Smith. A church of this order, organized this year at Manchester, N. Y., removed the next to Kirtland, O., and thence to Independence, Mo. Driven from here by mob violence, they built the town of Nauvoo, Ill. Meeting in this place too with what they regarded persecution, several of their members being prosecuted for polygamy, they were obliged to migrate to Salt Lake City, where, however, they were not fully settled until 1848.

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