Charles William Eliot.

American historical documents 1000-1904, with introductions, notes and illustrations online

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THE HARVARD CLASSICS
EDITED BY CHARLES W ELIOT LL D

I

AMERICAN
HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS

1000-1904



WITH INTRODUCTIONS, NOTES
AND ILLUSTRATIONS



*DR ELIOT'S FIVE-FOOT SHELF OF BOOKS"



P F COLLIER & SON
NEW YORK



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Copyright, igio
By p. F. Collier & Son



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CONTENTS

rxQi

The Voyages to Vinland (c, iooo) 5

The Letter of Columbus to Luis de Sant Angel An-
nouncing His Discovery (1493) 22

Amerigo Vespucci's Account of His First Voyage (1497). 29

John Ca Pt's Discovery of North America (1497) ... 47

First Charter of Virginia (1606) 51

The Mayflower Compact (1620) 62

The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1639) ... 63

The Massachusetts Body of Liberties (1641) .... 70
Arbitrary Government Described and the Government of
THE Massachusetts Vindicated from that Aspersion,

BY John Winthrop (1644) 90

The Instrument of Government (1653) 113

A Healing Question, by Sir Henry Vane (1656) ... 126

John Eliot's Brief Narrative (1670) 147

Declaration of Rights (1765) 157

The Declaration of Independence (1776) 160

The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence (1775) . 166

Articles of Confederation (1777) .168

Articles of Capitulation, Yorktown (1781) 180

Treaty with Great Britain (1783) 185

Constitution of the United States (1787) 192

The Federalist, Nos. i and 2 (1787) 212

Opinion of Chief Justice Marshall, in the Case of

McCulloch vs. the State of Maryland (1819) . . 222

Washington's First Inaugural Address (1789) .... 241

Treaty with the Six Nations (1794) 246

Washington's Farewell Address (1796) 250

Treaty with France (Loxhslana Purchase) (1803) . . 267

Treaty with Great Britain (End of War of 1812) (1814) 273
Arrangement as to the Naval Force to be Respectively

Maintained on the American Lakes (18^7) . . . 283
«c xua (]) 1



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2 CONTENTS

rAGS

Treaty with Spain (Acquisition of Florida) (1819) . . 286

The Monroe Doctrine (1823) 296

Webster- AsHBURTON Treaty with Great Britain (1842) 299

Treaty with Mexico (1848) 309

Fugitive Slave Act (1850) t^^-^

Lincoln's First Inaugural Address (1861) 334

Emancipation Proclamation (1863) 344

Haskell's Account of the Battle of Gettysburg .... 347

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (1863) 441

Proclamation of Amnesty (1863) 442

Lincoln's Letter to Mrs. Bixby (1864) 446

Terms of Lee's Surrender at Appomattox (1865) . . . 447

Lee's Farewell to his Army (1865) 449

Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address (1865) 45o

Proclamation Declaring the Insurrection at an End

(1866) 453

Treaty with Russia (Alaska Purchase) (1867) . . . 459

Annexation of the Hawaiian Islands (1898) .... 464

Recognition of the Independence of Cuba (1898) . . . 467
Treaty with Spain (Cession of Porto Rico and the

Philippines) (1898) 469

Convention Between the United States and the Re-
public OF Panama (1904) 478



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INTRODUCTORY NOTE

No final history of the United States of America has been
written, or is likely to be written. Research is constantly bring-
ing to light new facts that correct details or modify the tradi-
tional view of larger questions; and the most impartial historian
is subject to personal or sectional bias which leads to his works'
being regarded as imperfect by another generation, or as unfair
by the people of parts of the country other than his ovm. In such
a series as the present, then, it is unwise to represent the story
of the growth of this nation by the summary of any one scholar.

The alternative has been to place before the reader a selection
of the most important documents which record in contemporary
terms the great events in the history of the country. Beginning with
the personal records of the earliest discoverers of the continent,
the selection goes on to present the first attempts at organising
a machinery of government made by the first settlers of the New
England colonies; proceeds to the landmarks of the struggle
for independence and the formation of the Constitution; shows
the laying of the foundation of national policies and of the inter-
pretation of the Constitution; indicates by the texts of the treaties
themselves the acquisition of each successive increase of terri-
tory; and reveals by the original state papers the main causes
and effects of the wars in which the country has from time to
time been engaged. Read in succession, these documents afford
a condensed view of the political progress of the American
people; freed from any prejudice save that which swayed the
makers of the history themselves.



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AMERICAN
HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS

THE VOYAGES TO VINLAND

(c. looo)

[The following account of the discovery of North America by
Leif Ericsson is contained in the "Saga of Eric the Red"; and the
present translation is that made by A. M. Reeves from the version
of the Saga in the Flateyar-h6k, compiled by Jon Thordharson about
1387. The part of the coast where Leif landed is much in dispute,
the most recent investigations tending to the southern part of the
coast of Labrador, though many scholars believe Vinland to have
been on the New England shore.]

Leif the Lucky Baptized

A FTER that sixteen winters had lapsed, from the time
JJL when Eric the Red went to colonize Greenland, Leif,
^ ^ Eric's son, sailed out from Greenland to Norway. He
arrived in Drontheim in the autumn, when King Olaf Trygg-
vason was come down from the North, out of Halagoland.
Leif put into Nidaros with his ship, and set out at once to visit
the king. King Olaf expounded the faith to him, as he did to
other heathen men who came to visit him. It proved easy for
the king to persuade Leif, and he was accordingly baptized,
together with all of his shipmates. Leif remained throughout
the winter with the king, by whom he was well entertained.

BiARNi Goes in Quest of Grm:nland

Heriulf was a son of Bard Heriulfsson. He was a kins-
man of Ingolf, the first colonist. Ingolf allotted land to Heri-
ulf between Vag and Reykianess, and he dwelt at first at
Drepstokk. Heriulf s wife's name was Thorgerd, and their
son, whose name was Biarni, was a most promising man. He

5



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6 AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS

formed an inclination for voyaging while he was still young,
and he prospered both in property and public esteem. It was
his custom to pass his winters alternately abroad and with his
father. Biami soon became the owner of a trading-ship; and
during the last winter that he spent in Norway [his father]
Heriulf determined to accompany Eric on his voyage to
Greenland, and made his preparations to give up his farm.
Upon the ship with Heriulf was a Christian man from the
Hebrides, he it was who composed the Sea-Roller's Song,
which contains this stave:

" Mine adventure to the Meek One,

Monk-heart-searcher, I commit now;
He, who heaven's halls doth govern.
Hold the hawk's-seat ever o'er me ! **

Heriulf settled at Heriulfsness, and was a most distinguished
man. Eric the Red dwelt at Brattahlid, where he was held in
the highest esteem, and all men paid him homage. These
were Eric's children: Leif, Thorvald, and Thorstein, and a
daughter whose name was Freydis ; she was wedded to a man
named Thorvard, and they dwelt at Gardar, where the episco-
pal seat now is. She was a very haughty woman, while Thor-
vard was a man of little force of character, and Freydis had
been wedded to him chiefly because of his wealth. At that
time the people of Greenland were heathen.

Biami arrived with his ship at Eyrar [in Iceland] in the
summer of the same year, in the spring of which his father
had sailed away. Biami was much surprised when he heard
this news, and would not discharge his cargo. His shipmates
inquired of him what he intended to do, and he replied that it
was his purpose to keep to his custom, and make his home for
the winter with his father; "and I will take the ship to
Greenland, if you will bear me company." They all replied
that they would abide by his decision. Then said Biami,
" Our voyage must be regarded as foolhardy, seeing that no
one of us has ever been in the Greenland Sea.'* Nevertheless,
they put out to sea when they were equipped for the voyage,
and sailed for three days, until the land was hidden by the
water, and then the fair wind died out, and north winds
arose, and fogs, and they knew not whither they were drift-
ing, and thus it lasted for many " doegr." Then they saw the



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AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMEN^pS 7

sun again, and were able to determine the quarters of the
heavens; they hoisted sail, and sailed that "doegr" through
before they saw land. They discussed among themselves
what land it could be, and Biami said that he did not believe
that it could be Greenland. They asked whether he wished
to sail to this land or not. " It is my counsel" [said he] " to
sail close to the land." They did so, and soon saw that the
land was level, and covered with woods, and that there were
small hillocks upon it. They left the land on their larboard,
and let the sheet turn toward the land. They sailed for two
** dcegr" before they saw another land. They asked whether
Biami thought this was Greenland yet. He replied that he
did not think this any more like Greenland than the for-
mer, " because in Greenland there are said to be many great
ice mountains." They soon approached this land, and saw
that it was a flat and wooded country. The fair wind failed
them then, and the crew took counsel together, and concluded
that it would be wise to land there, but Biarni would not
consent to this. They alleged that they were in need of both
wood and water. " Ye have no lack of either of these," says
Biami, — a course, forsooth, which won him blame among his
shipmates. He bade them hoist sail, which they did, and turn-
ing the prow from the land they sailed out upon the high seas,
with south-westerly gales, for three " doegr," when they saw
the third land ; this land was high and mountainous, with ice
mountains upon it. They asked Biarni then whether he
would land there, and he replied that he was not disposed to
do so, "because this land does not appear to me to offer any
attractions." Nor did they lower their sail, but held their
course off the land, and saw that it was an island. They left
this land astern, and held out to sea with the same fair wind.
The wind waxed amain, and Biami directed them to reef,
and not to sail at a speed unbefitting their ship and rigging.
They sailed now for four " doegr," when they saw the fourth
land. Again they asked Biarai whether he thought this could
be Greenland or not. Biarai answers, ** This is likest Green-
land, according to that which has been reported to me con-
cerning it, and here we will steer to the land." They directed
their course thither, and landed in the evening, below a cape
upon which there was a boat, and there, upon this cape,



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8 AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS

dwelt Heriulf, Biami's father, whence the cape took its name,
and was afterward called Heriulfsness. Biarni now went to
his father, gave up his voyaging, and remained with his
father while Heriulf lived, and continued to live there after
his father.

Here Begins the Brief History of the Greenlanders

Next to this is now to be told how Biarni Heriulf sson came
oiit from Greenland on a visit to Earl Eric, by whom he was
well received. Biarni gave an account of his travels [upon
the occasion] when he saw the lands, and the people thought
that he had been lacking in enterprise, since he had no report
to give concerning these countries ; and the fact brought him
reproach. Biarni was appointed one of the Earl's men, and
went out to Greenland the following summer. There was
now much talk about voyages of discovery. Leif, the son of
Eric the Red, of Bratt^dilid, visited Biarni Heriulfsson and
bought a ship of him, and collected a crew, until they formed
altogether a company of thirty-five men. Leif invited his
father, Eric, to become the leader of the expedition, but
Eric declined, saying that he was then stricken in years, and
adding that he was less able to endure the exposure of sea
life than he had been. Leif replied that he would neverthe-
less be the one who would be most apt to bring good luck,
and Eric yielded to Leif's solicitation, and rode from home
when they were ready to sail. When he was but a short
distance from the ship, the horse which Eric was riding
stumbled, and he was thrown from his back and wounded his
foot, whereupon he exclaimed, " It is not designed for me to
discover more lands than the one in which we are now living,
nor can we now continue longer together." Eric returned
home to Brattahlid, and Leif pursued his way to the ship with
his companions, thirty-five men. One of the company was a
German, named Tyrker. They put the ship in order; and,
when they were ready, they sailed out to sea, and found first
that land which Biarni and his shipmates found last. They
sailed up to the land, and cast anchor, and launched a boat,
and went ashore, and saw no grass there. Great ice moim-
tains lay inland back from the sea, and it was as a [tableland



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AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS 9

of] flat rock all the way from the sea to the ice mountains;
and the comitry seemed to them to be entirely devoid of
good qualities. Then said Leif, "It has not come to pass
with us in regard to this land as with Biami, that we have
not gone upon it. To this country I will now give a name,
and call it Helluland." They returned to the ship, put out
to sea, and found a second land. They sailed again to the
land, and came to anchor, and launched the boat, and went
ashore. This was a level wooded land ; and there were broad
stretches of white sand where they went, and the land was
level by the sea. Then said Leif, "This land shall have a
name after its nature; and we will call it Markland." They
returned to the ship forthwith, and sailed away upon the
main with north-east winds, and were out two " doegr** before
they sighted land. They sailed toward this land, and came
to an island which lay to the northward off the land. There
they went ashore and looked about them, the weather being
fine, and they observed that there was dew upon the grass,
and it so happened that they touched the dew with their
hands, and touched their hands to their mouths, and it seemed
to them that they had never before tasted anything so sweet
as this. They went aboard their ship again and sailed into
a certain sound, which lay between the island and a cape,
which jutted out from the land on the north, and they stood
in westering past the cape. At ebb-tide there were broad
reaches of shallow water there, and they ran their ship
aground there, and it was a long distance from the ship to the
ocean ; yet were they so anxious to go ashore that they could
not wait until the tide should rise under their ship, but hast-
ened to the land, where a certain river flows out from a lake.
As soon as the tide rose beneath their ship, however, they
took the boat and rowed to the ship, which they conveyed up
the river, and so into the lake, where they cast anchor and
carried their hammocks ashore from the ship, and built them-
selves booths there. They afterward determined to establish
themselves there for the winter, and they accordingly built ?.
large house. There was no lack of salmon there either in the
river or in the lake, and larger salmon than they had ever
seen before. The country thereabouts seemed to be possessed
of such good qualities that cattle would need no fodder there



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10 AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS

during the winters. There was no frost there in the winters,
and the grass withered but little. The days and nights there
were of more nearly equal length than in Greenland or
Iceland. On the shortest day of winter, the sun was up be-
tween ' eykarstad " and ^ dagmalastad." When they had com-
pleted their house, Leif said to his companions, " I propose
now to divide our company into two groups, and to set about
an exploration of the colmtry. One-half of our party shall
remain at home at the house, while the other half shall in-
vestigate the land ; and they must not go beyond a point from
which they can return home the same evening, and are not
to separate [from each other]. Thus they did for a time.
Leif, himself, by turns joined the exploring party, or re-
mained behind at the house. Leif was a large and powerful
man, and of a most imposing bearing, — a man of sagacity,
and a very just man in all things.

Leif the Lucky Finds Men Upon a Skerry at Sea

It was discovered one evening that one of their company
was missing ; and this proved to be Tyrker, the German. Leif
was sorely troubled by this, for Tyrker had lived with Leif
and his father for a long time, and had been very devoted to
Leif when he was a child. Leif severely reprimanded his
companions, and prepared to go in search of him, taking
twelve men with him. They had proceeded but a short dis-
tance from the house, when they were met by Tyrker, whom
they received most cordially. Leif observed at once that his
foster-father was in lively spirits. Tyrker had a prominent
forehead, restless eyes, small features, was diminutive in
stature, and rather a sorry-looking individual withal, but was,
nevertheless, a most capable handicraftsman. Leif addressed
him, and asked, "Wherefore art thou so belated, foster-
father mine, and astray from the others?*' In the beginning
Tyrker spoke for some time in German, rolling his eyes and
grinning, and they could not understand him; but after a
time he addressed them in the Northern tongue : " I did not
go much further [than you"], and yet I have something of
novelty to relate. I have found vines and grapes." " Is this
indeed tru^ foster-father ?'' said Leif. "' Of a certainty it is



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AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS 11

tme,** quoth he, *' for I was born where there is no lack of
either grapes or vines." They slept the night through, and
on the morrow Leif said to his shipmates, "We will now
divide our labors, and each day will either gather grapes or
cut vines and fell trees, so as to obtain a cargo of these for
my ship." They acted upon this advice, and it is said that
their after-boat was filled with grapes. A cargo sufficient for
the ship was cut, and when the spring came they made their
ship ready, and sailed away ; and from its products Leif gave
the land a name, and called it Wineland. They sailed out to
sea, and had fair winds until they sighted Greenland and the
fells below the glaciers. Then one of the men spoke up and
said, " Why do you steer the ship so much into the wind ?"
Leif answers: "I have my mind upon my steering, but on
other matters as well. Do ye not see anything out of the
common ?" They replied that they saw nothing strange. " I
do not know/' says Leif, " whether it is a ship or a skerry
that I see.** Now they saw it, and said that it must be a
skerry ; but he was so much keener of sight than they that he
was able to discern men upon the skerry. " I think it best to
tack," says Leif, "so that we may draw near to them, that
we may be able to render them assistance if they should
stand in need of it ; and, if they should not be peaceably dis-
posed, wc shall still have better command of the situation
than they/* They approached the skerry, and, lowering their
sail, cast anchor, and launched a second small boat, which they
had brought with them. Tyrker inquired who was the leader
of the party. He replied that his name was Thori, and that
he was a Norseman; "but what is thy name?" Leif gave
his name. " Art thou a son of Eric the Red of Brattahlid?"
says he. Leif responded that he was. " It is now my wish,**
says Leif, **to take you all into my ship, and likewise so
much of your possessions as the ship will hold." This offer
was accepted, and [with their ship] thus laden they held away
to Ericsfirth, and sailed until they arrived at Brattahlid.
Having discharged the cargo, Leif invited Thori, with his
wife, Gudrid, and three others, to make their home with him,
and procured quarters for the other members of the crew,
both for his own and Thori's men. Leif rescued fifteen per-
sons from the skerry. He was afterwards called Leif the



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12 AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS

Lucky. Leif had now goodly store both of property and
honor. There was serious illness that winter in Thori's
party, and Thori and a great number of his people died. Eric
the Red also died that winter. There was now much talk
about Leif's Wineland journey; and his brother, Thorvald,
held that the country had not been sufficiently explored.
Thereupon Leif said to Thorvald, " If it be thy will, brother,
thou mayest go to Wineland with my ship ; but I wish the ship
first to fetch the wood which Thori had upon the skerry."
And so it was done.

Thorvald Goes to Wineland

Now Thorvald, with the advice of his brother, Leif, pre-
pared to make this voyage with thirty men. They put their
ship in order, and sailed out to sea; and there is no account
of their voyage before their arrival at Leifs-booths in Wine-



Online LibraryCharles William EliotAmerican historical documents 1000-1904, with introductions, notes and illustrations → online text (page 1 of 48)