Arthur Mee.

The World's Greatest Books — Volume 12 — Modern History online

. (page 1 of 24)
Online LibraryArthur MeeThe World's Greatest Books — Volume 12 — Modern History → online text (page 1 of 24)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Produced by John Hagerson, Kevin Handy and PG Distributed Proofreaders



ARTHUR MEE Editor and Founder of the Book of Knowledge

J.A. HAMMERTON Editor of Harmsworth a Universal Encyclopaedia


* * * * *

_Table of Contents_


History of the United Stales

History of the Conquest of Mexico
History of the Conquest of Peru

History of the Rebellion

History of England

History of Civilization in England

English Constitution

Age of Louis XIV

Old Régime

History of the French Revolution

History of the French Revolution

History of the Girondists

Modern Régime

Frederick the Great

History of Greece

Rise of the Dutch Republic
History of the United Netherlands

History of India

Russia under Peter the Great

Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella

History of Charles XII

History of Latin Christianity

History of the Popes

A Complete Index of THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS will be found at the end
of Volume XX.

* * * * *


Acknowledgment and thanks for permitting the use of the
selection by H.A. Taine on "Modern Régime," appearing in this
volume, are hereby tendered to Madame Taine-Paul-Dubois, of
Menthon St. Bernard, France, and Henry Holt & Co., of New

* * * * *


History of the United States

Samuel Eliot, a historian and educator, was born in Boston in
1821, graduated at Harvard in 1839, was engaged in business
for two years, and then travelled and studied abroad for four
years more. On his return, he took up tutoring and gave
gratuitous instruction to classes of young workingmen. He
became professor of history and political science in Trinity
College, Hartford, Conn., in 1856, and retained that chair
until 1864. During the last four years of that time, he was
president of the institution. From 1864 to 1874 he lectured on
constitutional law and political science. He lectured at
Harvard from 1870 to 1873. He was President of the Social
Science Association when it organised the movement for Civil
Service reform in 1869. His history of the United States
appeared in 1856 under the title of "Manual of United States
History between the Years 1792 and 1850." It was revised and
brought down to date in 1873, under the title of "History of
the United States." A third edition appeared in 1881. This
work gained distinction as the first adequate textbook of
United States history and still holds the place it deserves in
popular favor. The epitome is supplemented by a chronicle
compiled from several sources.

The first man to discover the shores of the United States, according to
Icelandic records, was an Icelander, Leif Erickson, who sailed in the
year 1000, and spent the winter somewhere on the New England coast.
Christopher Columbus, a Genoese in the Spanish service, discovered San
Salvador, one of the Bahama Islands, on October 12, 1492. He thought
that he had found the western route to the Indies, and, therefore,
called his discovery the West Indies. In 1507, the new continent
received its name from that of Amerigo Vespucci, a Florentine who had
crossed the ocean under the Spanish and Portuguese flags. The middle
ages were Closing; the great nations of Europe were putting forth their
energies, material and immaterial; and the discovery of America came
just in season to help and be helped by the men of these stirring years.

Ponce de Leon, a companion of Columbus, was the first to reach the
territory of the present United States. On Easter Sunday, 1512, he
discovered the land to which he gave the name of Florida or Flower Land.
Numberless discoverers succeeded him. De Soto led a great expedition
northward and westward, in 1539-43, with no greater reward than the
discovery of the Mississippi. Among the French explorers to claim Canada
under the name of New France, were Verrazzano, 1524, and Cartier,
1534-42. Champlain began Quebec in 1608. The oldest town in the United
States, St. Augustine, Florida, was founded September 8, 1565, by
Menendez de Aviles, who brought a train of soldiers, priests and negro
slaves. The second oldest town, Santa Fe, was founded by the Spaniards
in 1581.

John Cabot, a Venetian residing in Bristol, was the first person sailing
under the English flag, to come to these shores. He sailed in 1497, with
his three sons, but no settlement was effected. Sir Humphrey Gilbert was
lost at sea in 1583, and Walter Raleigh, his cousin, took up claims that
had been made to him by Queen Elizabeth, and crossed to the shores of
the present North Carolina. Sir Richard Grenville left one hundred and
eighty persons at Roanoke Island, in 1585. They were glad to escape at
the earliest opportunity. Fifteen persons left there later were murdered
by the Indians. Still a third settlement, consisting of one hundred and
eighteen persons, disappeared, leaving no trace. Raleigh was discouraged
and made over his patent to others, who were still less successful.

The Plymouth Colony and London Colony were formed under King James I. as
business enterprises. The parties to the patents were capitalists, who
had the right to settle colonists and servants, impose duties and coin
money, and who were to pay a share of the profits in the enterprise to
the Crown.

The London company, under the name of Jamestown, established the
beginning of the first English town in America, May 13, 1607, with one
hundred colonists. Captain John Smith was the genius of the colony, and
it enjoyed a certain prosperity while he remained with it. A curious
incident of its history was the importation of a large number of young
women of good character, who were sold for one hundred and twenty, or
even one hundred and fifteen, pounds of tobacco (at thirteen shillings a
pound) to the lonely settlers. The Company failed, with all its
expenditures, some half-million dollars, in 1624, and at that time,
numbered only two thousand souls - the relics of nine thousand, who had
been sent out from England.

Though the Plymouth Company had obtained exclusive grants and
privileges, they never achieved any actual colony. A band of
independents, numbering one hundred and two, whose extreme principles
led to their exile, first from England and then from Holland, landed at
a place called New Plymouth, in 1620. Half died within a year.
Nevertheless, the Pilgrims, as they were called, extended their
settlement. The distinction of the Pilgrims at Plymouth is that they
relied upon themselves, and developed their own resources. Salem was
begun in 1625, and for three years was called Naumkeag. In 1628, John
Endicott came from England with one hundred settlers, as Governor for
the Massachusetts Colony, extending from the Charles to the Merrimac
river. A royal charter was procured for the Governor and Company of
Massachusetts Bay in New England, and one thousand colonists, led by
John Winthrop, settled Boston, 1630. These colonists were Puritans, who
wished to escape political and religious persecution. They brought over
their own charter and developed a form of popular government. The
freemen of the town elected the governor and board of assistants, but
suffrage was restricted to members of the church. Representative
government was granted in other colonies, but in the royal colonies of
Virginia and New York, the executive officers and members of the upper
branch of the legislature were appointed by the Crown. In Maryland,
appointments were made in the same way by the Proprietor. Maryland was
founded 1632, by royal grant to Cecilius Calvert, Lord Baltimore.

The English colonies were divided in the middle by the Dutch at New
Amsterdam and the Swedes on the Delaware. The claim of the prior
discovery of Manhattan was raised by the English, who took New
Amsterdam, in 1664. Charles II. presented a charter to his brother,
James, Duke of York. East and west Jersey were formed out of part of the

The patent for the great territory included in the present state of
Pennsylvania was granted to William Penn in 1681. Penn laid the
foundations for a liberal constitution. Patents for the territory of
Carolina were given in 1663. Carolina reached the Spanish possessions in
the South.

The New England settlers spread westward and northward. Connecticut
adopted a written constitution in 1639. The charter of Rhode Island,
1663, confirmed the aim of its founder, Roger Williams, in the
separation of civil and religious affairs.

The English predominated in the colonies, though other nationalities
were represented on the Atlantic seaboard. The laws were based on
English custom, and loyalty to England prevailed. The colonists united
for mutual support during the early Indian wars. The United Colonies of
New England, comprised Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut and New
Haven. This union was formed in 1643, and lasted nearly forty years. The
"Lord of Trade" caused the colonies to unite later, at the time of the
French and Indian War, 1754.

The colonies, nevertheless, were too far apart to feel a common
interest. Communication between them was slow, and commerce was almost
entirely carried on with the English. The boundaries were frequently a
cause of conflict between them. The plan of a constitution was devised
by Franklin, but even the menace of war could not make the colonies
adopt it.

While the English were establishing themselves firmly on the coast, the
French were all the time quietly working in the interior. Their
explorers and merchants established posts to the Great Lakes, the
northwest and the valley of the Mississippi. The clash with the English
came in 1690. King William's War, Queen Anne's War and the French and
Indian War, were all waged before the difficulties were settled in the
rout of the French from the continent. The so-called French and Indian
War (1701-13) was the American counterpart of the Seven Years' War of
Europe. The chief events of this war were: the surrender of Washington
at Fort Necessity, 1754; removal of the Arcadian settlers, 1755;
Braddock's defeat, July 9, 1755; capture of Oswego by Montcalm, 1756;
the capture of Louisburg and Fort Duquesne, 1758; the capture of
Ticonderoga and Niagara in 1759; battle of Quebec, September 13, 1759;
surrender of Montreal, 1760.

At the Peace of Paris, 1763, the French claims to American territory
were formally relinquished. Spain, however, got control of the territory
west of the Mississippi, in 1762. This was known as Louisiana, and
extended from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains.

At this period the relations of the colonies with the home government
became seriously strained. The demands that goods should be transported
in English ships, that trade should be carried on only with England,
that the colonies should not manufacture anything in competition with
home products, were the chief causes of friction. The navigation laws
were evaded without public resistance, and smuggling became a common

The Stamp Act, in 1765, required stamps to be affixed to all public
documents, newspapers, almanacs and other printed matter. All of the
colonies were taxed at the same time by this scheme, which was contrary
to their belief that they should be taxed only by their legislatures;
although the proceeds of the taxes were to have been devoted to the
defence of the colonies. Delegates, protesting against the Act, were
sent to England by nine colonies. The Stamp Act Congress, October 7,
1765, passed measures of protest. The people never used the stamps, and
the Act was repealed the next year. As a substitute, the English
government established, in 1767, duties on paper, paint, glass and tea.
The colonies replied by renewing the agreement which they made in 1765,
not to import any English goods. The sending of troops to Boston
aggravated the trouble. All the duties but that on tea were then
withdrawn. Cargoes of tea were destroyed at Boston and Charleston, and a
bond of common sympathy was slowly forged between the colonies.

In 1774, the harbour of Boston was closed, and the Massachusetts charter
was revoked. Arbitrary power was placed in the hands of the governor.
The colonies mourned in sympathy. The assembly of Virginia was dismissed
by its governor, but merely reunited, and proceeded to call a
continental congress.

The first continental congress was held at Capitol Hall, Philadelphia,
September 5, 1774. All the colonies but Georgia were represented. The
congress appealed to George III. for redress. They drafted the
Declaration of Rights, and pledged the colonies not to use British
importations and to export no American goods to Great Britain or to its

The battles of Lexington and Concord were precipitated by the attempt of
the British to seize the colonists' munitions of war. The immediate
result was the assembling of a second continental congress at
Philadelphia, May 10, 1775. The second congress was in a short time
organising armies and assuming all the powers of government.

On November 1, 1775, it was learned that King George would not receive
the petition asking for redress, and the idea of the Declaration of
Independence was conceived. On May 15, 1776, the congress voted that all
British authority ought to be suppressed. Thomas Jefferson, in December,
drafted the Constitution, and it was adopted on July 4, 1776.

The leading events of the Revolution were the battles of Lexington and
Concord, April 19, 1775; capture of Ticonderoga, May 10; Bunker Hill,
June 17; unsuccessful attack on Canada, 1775-1776; surrender of Boston,
March 17, 1776; battle of Long Island, August 27; White Plains, October
28; retreat through New Jersey, at the end of 1776; battle of Trenton,
December 26; battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777; Bennington, August
16; Brandywine, September 11; Germantown, October 4; Saratoga, October
7; Burgoyne's surrender, October 17; battle of Monmouth, June 28, 1778;
storming of Stony Point, July 15, 1779; battle of Camden, August 16,
1780; battle of Cowpens, January 17, 1781; surrender of Cornwallis,
October 19, 1781.

The surrender of Cornwallis terminated the struggle. The peace treaty
was signed in 1783. The financial situation was very deplorable. One of
the greatest difficulties that confronted the colonists, was the limited
power of Congress. The states could regulate commerce and exercise
nearly all authority. But disputes regarding their boundaries prevented
their development as a united nation.

Congress issued an ordinance in 1784 under which territories might
organise governments, send delegates to Congress, and obtain admission
as states. This was made use of in 1787 by the Northwest Territory, the
region lying between the Ohio and the Mississippi and the Great Lakes.
The states made a compact in which it was agreed that there should be no
slavery in this territory.

The critical period lasted until 1789. In the absence of strong
authority, economic and political troubles arose. Finally, a commission
appointed by Maryland and Virginia to settle questions relating to
navigation on the Potomac resulted in a convention to adjust the
navigation and commerce of the whole of the United States, called the
Annapolis Convention from the place where it met, May 1, 1787. Rhode
Island was the only state that failed to send delegates. Instead of
taking up the interstate commerce questions the convention formulated
the present Constitution. A President, with power to carry out the will
of the people, was provided, and also, a Supreme Court.

Washington was elected first President, his term beginning March 4,
1789. A census was taken in 1790. The largest city was Philadelphia,
with a population of 42,000 - the others were New York, 33,000, and
Boston, 18,000. The total population of the United States was 4,000,000.
The slaves numbered 700,000; free negroes, 60,000, and the Indians,

The Federalists, who believed in centralised government, were the most
influential men in Congress. Washington appointed Thomas Jefferson
Secretary of State, Knox Secretary of War, Hamilton Secretary of the
Treasury, Osgood Postmaster General, and Jay Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court.

The first tariff act was passed with a view of providing revenue and
protection, in 1789. The national debt amounted to $52,000,000.00 - a
quarter of which was due abroad. The states had incurred an expense of
$25,000,000.00 more, in supporting the Revolution. The country suffered
from inflated currency. The genius of Hamilton saved the situation. He
persuaded Congress to assume the whole obligation of the national
government and of the states. Washington selected the site of the
capitol on the banks of the Potomac. But the government convened at
Philadelphia for ten years. Vermont and Kentucky were admitted as states
by the first Congress.

In Washington's administration, a number of American ships were captured
by British war vessels. England was at war with France and claimed the
right of stopping American vessels to look for possible deserters. War
was avoided by the Jay Treaty, November 19, 1794.

Washington retired, in 1796, at the end of two terms. John Adams, who
had been Ambassador to France, Holland and England, became second
President. The Democratic-Republican party, originated at this time,
stood for a strict construction of the constitution and favoured France
rather than England. Its leader was Thomas Jefferson. Adams proved but a
poor party leader, and the power of the Federalists failed after eight
years. He had gained some popularity in the early part of his first term
when France began to retaliate for the Jay Treaty by seizing American
ships, and would not receive the American minister. He appointed Charles
Coatesworth Pinckney, with John Marshall and Elbridge Gerry, as a
commission to treat with the French. The French commissioners who met
them demanded $24,000,000.00 as a bribe to draw up a treaty. The names
of the French commissioners were referred to in American newspapers as
X, Y and Z. Taking advantage of the popular favour gained in the conduct
of this affair, the Federalists succeeded in passing the Alien and
Sedition Laws.

Napoleon seized the power in France and made peace with the United
States. In the face of impending war between France and England,
Napoleon gave up his plans of an empire in America and sold Louisiana to
the United States for $15,000,000.00. The territory included 1,500,000
square miles. The Lewis and Clarke Expedition, sent out by Jefferson,
started from St. Louis May 14, 1804, crossed the Rocky Mountains and
discovered the Oregon country.

Aaron Burr was defeated for Governor of New York, and in his
Presidential ambitions, and in revenge killed Hamilton in a duel. He
fled the Ohio River country and made active preparations to carry out
some kind of a scheme. He probably intended to proceed against the
Spanish possessions in the Southwest and Mexico, and set himself up as a
ruler. He was betrayed by his confidante, Wilkinson, and was tried for
treason and acquitted in Richmond, Va., in 1807.

The momentous question of slavery in the territories came up in
Jefferson's administration. The institution was permitted in
Mississippi, but the ordinance of 1787 was maintained in Indiana. The
importation of slaves was prohibited after January 1, 1808.

James Madison, a Republican, became President, in 1809. The Indians,
under Tecumseh, attacked the Western settlers, but were defeated at
Tippecanoe by William Henry Harrison in 1811. In the same year, Congress
determined to break with England. Clay and Calhoun led the agitation.
Madison acceded, and war was declared June 18, 1812. The Treaty of Ghent
was signed on December 24, 1814. British commerce had been devastated. A
voyage even from England to Ireland was made unsafe.

The leading events of the War of 1812 were the unsuccessful invasion of
Canada and surrender at Detroit, August 12, 1812; sea fight in which the
"Constitution" took the "Guerriere," August 19th; sea fight in which the
"United States" took the "Macedonian," October 25, 1813; defeat at
Frenchtown, January 22nd; victory on Lake Erie, September 10th; loss of
the "Chesapeake" to the "Shannon," June 1st; victory at Chippewa, July
5, 1814; victory at Lundy's Lane, July 15th; Lake Champlain, September
11th; British burned public buildings in Washington, August 25th;
American defeated British at Baltimore, September 13th; American under
Jackson defeated the British at New Orleans, December 23rd and 28th.

Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio, were admitted as states, in 1792, 1796,
and 1803, respectively. In 1806, the federal government began a wagon
road, from the Potomac River to the West through the Cumberland Gap. New
York State finished the Erie Canal, in 1825. The population increased so
rapidly, that six new states, west and south of the Allegheny Mountains,
were admitted between 1812 and 1821. A serious conflict arose in 1820
over the admission of Missouri. The Missouri Compromise resulted in the
prohibition of slavery in the Louisiana Purchase, north of 36° and 30'
north latitude. Missouri was admitted in 1831, and Maine, as a free
state, in 1820.

With the passing of protective tariff measures in 1816 a readjustment of
party lines took place. Protection brought over New England from
Federalism to Republicanism. Henry Clay of Kentucky was the leading
advocate of protection. Everybody was agreed upon this point in
believing that tariff was to benefit all classes. This time was known as
"The Era of Good Feeling."

Spain ceded Florida to the United States for $5,000,000.00, throwing in
claims in the Northwest, and the United States gave up her claim to
Texas. The treaty was signed in 1819.

The Monroe Doctrine was contained in the message that President Monroe
sent to Congress December 2, 1823. The colonies of South America had
revolted from Spain and had set up republics. The United States
recognised them in 1821. Spain called on Europe for assistance. In his
message to Congress, Monroe declared, "We could not view any
interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any
other manner their destiny by any European power, in any other light
than as a manifestation of an unfriendly feeling toward the United
States....The American Continents are henceforth not to be considered as
subjects for future colonisation by any European power." Great Britain
had previously suggested to Monroe that she would not support the
designs of Spain.

Protective measures were passed in 1824 and 1828. Around Adams and Clay
were formed the National-Republican Party, which was joined by the
Anti-Masons and other elements to form the Whig Party. Andrew Jackson
was the centre of the other faction, which came to be known as the
Democratic Party and has had a continuous existence ever since. South
Carolina checked the rising tariff for a while by declaring the tariff
acts of 1828 and 1832 null and void.

The region which now forms the state of Texas had been gradually filling
up with settlers. Many had brought slaves with them, although Mexico
abolished slavery in 1829. The United States tried to purchase the
country. Mexican forces under Santa Anna tried to enforce their
jurisdiction in 1836. Texas declared her independence and drew up a
constitution, establishing slavery. Opposition in the United States to
the increase of slave territory defeated a plan for the annexation of
this territory.

The New England Anti-Slavery Society was formed 1832, and the American
Anti-Slavery Society was founded in Philadelphia in 1833. William Lloyd
Garrison was the leader of abolition as a great moral agitation.

John C. Calhoun, Tyler's Secretary of State, proposed the annexation of
Texas in 1844, but the scheme was rejected by the Senate. The election

Online LibraryArthur MeeThe World's Greatest Books — Volume 12 — Modern History → online text (page 1 of 24)