Elbert Jay Benton Henry Eldridge Bourne.

A history of the United States online

. (page 17 of 44)
Online LibraryElbert Jay Benton Henry Eldridge BourneA history of the United States → online text (page 17 of 44)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

colonies? How did the people finally secure a profitable foreign trade?

9. Why was a stronger imion needed?


z. On an oudine map of the present United States show the parts (i)
which were already inhabited in 1783, (2) those which belonged to the United
States, but were vacant, and (3) thoise held by foreign colonies.

2. Make two lists, one of the good things that the Congress of the Con-
federation accomplished between 1781 and 1789, and another of the things that
it should have done but could not for want of power.

3. Describe the present English money system. Would it have been better
if the United States had kept the money system of the mother country?

4. Review the story of the Virginia Company's colony at Jamestown and
compare it with that of the Ohio Company's colony at Marietta.

Important Date:

1787. The adoption of the Northwest Ordinance.

Digitized by




The Philadelphia Convention. — Disputes about trade,
especially in Chesapeake Bay and along the Potomac River,
finally convinced thoughtful men that a government strong
enough to regulate all such matters was necessary. At-
tempts to settle by conference questions of trade between
neighboring states like Virginia and Maryland came to
nothing. A convention of delegates from all the states was
then called. It met in Philadelphia in May, 1787.

James Madison, one of the youngest men at the conven-
tion, had carefully prepared himself beforehand to take a
leading part in its work. He had so much to do with making
the new government that he is often called the "Father of
the Constitution." Many other notable men attended the
Philadelphia convention. Among them were George Wash-
ington of Virginia, Benjamin Franklin and James Wilson of
Pennsylvania, and Alexander Hamilton of New* York. Some
great leaders of the day were occupied with other work and
could not take part in the convention. John Jay had
charge of foreign affairs and chose to stay at his post. John
Adams was minister of the United States to England, Thomas
Jefferson to France. Several well-known men, like Samuel
Adams and Patrick Henry, were opposed to such a change in
the government, and were not in the convention.

Washington was chosen president of the convention. The
leaders made no attempt to patch the weak spots in the gov-
ernment of the Confederation. From the beginning they were

Digitized by



resolved to propose to the people a form of government alto-
gether new. One obstacle to success was the fact that no two
of the thirteen states were of the same size, and yet each
believed itself as imj)ortant as any of the rest. The small
states were afraid to be yoked
with the large states, for fear
the latter would outvote and
oppress them. A thousand
imaginary dangers troubled
the minds of the timid. At
one time the Delaware dele-
gates threatened to leave the
convention. A majority of
the New York delegates did
leave in disgust at the deci-
sions which the convention
made. J^^' Madison

A New Constitution. — The frame of government which
the delegates completed, after working from May until well
into September, differed widely from that which the states
had accepted in the Articles of Confederation. In the first
place, an official called a President was placed at the head
of the administration of affairs. Secondly, the legiskture,
or Congress, was divided into a Senate and a House of
Representatives. In the third place, a Supreme Court was
provided. The powers granted to each of these branches of
the government showed that the leaders of the convention
wanted to guard against hasty decisions. For this reason
they made the assent of two bodies necessary in drawing up
laws. They also gave the President the right to veto acts of
Congress, which could not then become laws unless both
Houses passed them again by a majority of two-thirds.
Furthermore, they wished to protect the people against the
possibility that in times of excitement both President and

Digitized by



Congress might adopt measures which would deprive a part
of the people of their rights, especially of their rights of
property. They had in mind such laws as had been passed
in Rhode Island about paper money. This fear led the con-
vention to give to a Supreme Court the power to guard these
rights by declaring unconstitutional acts of Congress which
violated them.

An equally great change was made in the powers of the cen-
tral government. To it were granted not only the right to levy
taxes enough to pay its expenses, but to regulate, without in-
terference from the state legislatures, such matters as trade.
Moreover, the states were forbidden to issue paper money.

The delegates thought it better to give the choice of a Pres-
ident to a selected body of men, called an Electoral College,
rather than provide that the President should be chosen
directly by the people. They also decided that senators
shoxild be chosen by the legislatures of the states. Members
of the House of Representatives were the only officers to be
chosen directly by the people.

The Compromises of the Constitution. — It was very diffi-
cult to come to an agreement about the manner of mfiln'ng
up the two Houses of Congress. Men from the larger states
like Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, thought that
their states should have more representatives than small states.
But the small states did not wish to be ruled by their larger
neighbors. A New Jersey delegate said that he would not
submit the welfare of his state with five votes to a Congress
in which Virginia had sixteen. Wilson of Pennsylvania just
as emphatically called it absurd to give New Jersey with a
population of 175,000 as many votes as Pennsylvania, which
had more than twice as many people, or Delaware with less
than 60,000 as many as Virginia, which had a population
ten times as great. Nearly five weeks passed before they
settled the question.

Digitized by



Franklin showed them a way out. "When," he said, "a
broad table is to be made, and the edges of the planks do not
fit, the artist takes a little from both, and makes a good joint.
In like manner here both sides must part with some of their
demands." According to the plan finally adopted each state,
large or small, should have two senators, while its number
of representatives
depended uj)on
the size of its pop-
ulation. Massa-
chusetts, for ex-
ample, was grant-
ed eight members -
in the House of
Virginia ten, Del-
aware one, and
Maryland six.

Many similar
bargains were
made in the
course of the de-
bates. There was, ^°''^^' ,^J^"; P"'-*"-^*

' National Capitol in 1 790-1 800

as one writer says,

a "whole bundle" of compromises agreed to while making
the Constitution. Franklin wanted to have a Congress of
one House and to fix the term of President at seven years,
denying him a second term. These proposals and many
others were voted down.

The States accept the Work of the Convention. — The
people of the states accepted the work of the convention,
though not without weeks of discussion and opposition.
Most of the small states thought the Constitution favorable
to their interests. Delaware, New Jersey, and Georgia rati-

Digitized by



fied it with enthusiasm. Ratification came only after a long,
hard fight in Massachusetts, Virginia, and New York. Rhode
Island and North Carolina at first refused to join the other
states. Eleven states accepted the new Constitution, and
went to work "to form a more perfect imion."^

George Washington, First President, 1789-97. — The
Congress of the Confederation apj)ointed March 4, 1789, for
beginning the new government, and New York as the tem-
porary capital. Electors, chosen in five * of the states by the
legislatures, and in the others by the people, voted unani-
mously for Washington as the first President. They chose
John Adams as Vice-President. It was long after March 4
before Congress was organized and Washington was officially
notified of his election. On April 30 he took the oath of
office and read his inaugural address to the two Houses of
Congress assembled in Federal Hall. It was a day of great
rejoicing. In the morning crowds attended services in the
churches to pray for the welfare of the new government and
the safety of the President. Bonfires and illuminations at
night ended the celebration.

Washington's Helpers. — Washington's first task was to
select his advisers. Congress provided for a Secretary of
State to conduct foreign correspondence, a Secretary of the
Treasury to manage money matters, and a Secretary of War
to direct the army of only 600 men. The offices of Attorney-
General to advise the President on matters of law and Post-
master-General to care for the small postal business of the
country were created. Neither of these was looked upon
as an important department like the other three. Washington
appointed Thomas Jefferson Secretary of State, Alexander

^ The provision in the Constitution that it should go into effect as soon as
nine states agreed to it was revolutionary, because according to the Articles
of Confederation any change in the government required the consent of all the

> Rhode Island, North Carolina, and New York did not choose dectois.

Digitized by



Hamilton Secretary of the Treasury, and Henry Knox Secre-
tary of War. John Jay was made Chief- Justice of the new
Supreme Court.

Formation of the Cabinet. — Each secretary had his own
work to do. In England such
officers together formed a "Cab-
inet" or special body of advisers
to the king, reconmiencUng meas-
ures of government and conduct-
ing discussions in parliament.
The American Constitution said
nothing about a Cabinet. Wash-
ington early adopted a part of
the English practice and asked
the heads of departments to
meet together and to advise
with him upon unportant mat- ^=^^°= Washington

rrn ^ r ^ t f After the portrait by Stuart

ters. The custom of holding

Cabinet meetings with the President has been continued by
Washington's successors. In this way, without a provision
in the law or the Constitution, the President's Cabinet
came into existence.^

Providing Money for National Affairs. — The most impor-
tant matter at the outset was providing money to pay the
national debt and the ordinary expenses of government. It
had been necessary to borrow money in Holland to pay the
interest on the French loans. Adams had also been obliged
to borrow money there to start the new government. Con-
gress began raising money almost at once by taxing articles
imported into the United States from other countries. Such
taxes, called tariffs or import duties, remained the chief
source of income for the federal government. Duties were

* Four men made up Washington's Cabinet — the three secretaries — State,
Treasury, and War — and the Attorney-General.

Digitized by



raised or lowered as more or less money was needed. From
the first, manufacturers urged Congress to lay import duties
on articles which were also made in the United States. This
would give the American makers an advantage or "protec-
tion," as it was called. The duties in the first tariff act
were low, that is, only slightly protective.

The National and State Debts* — Alexander Hamilton,
as Secretary of the Treasury, was called upon to prepare a
plan for pajdng off the great war debt. He proposed that
Congress should pay not only the money borrowed by the
government from the French, the Dutch, and from Ameri-
can citizens, but even that borrowed by the states in their
own defense. This meant that the United States would pay
about $75,000,000, a huge sum for those da)rs.

There was not much difference of opinion about paying
back the money which the United States had borrowed,- but
many objected to paying the debts of the states. Some
states like Virginia had already paid a part of their debt
They objected to a plan by which their citizens would have
to aid other states. Besides, some men preferred that the
states, rather than the United States, should receive the credit
which would come from honorable payment of the Revolu-
tionary debts.

Another Compromise. — It happened that Congress had
to select a place for a permanent capital. The members of
Congress from the southern states wanted this to be located
on the Potomac. The members from Pennsylvania wanted
it at Philadelphia. Other members of Congress did not care
where the capital should be located, but were anxious to carry
through Hamilton's plan of paying the state debts. Hamilton
and Jefferson, representing different sides, struck a bargain.
Hamilton agreed to persuade several northern Congressmen
to vote to locate the capital for ten years at Philadelphia and
then permanently on the Potomac River; Jefferson, in turn,

Digitized by



promised to find several southern members to support Hamil-
ton's plan about state debts. The bargain was carried out.

Internal Revenue Taxes. — Hamilton persuaded Congress
to tax whiskey manufactured in the United States. This
was called an internal revenue or excise tax. The govern-
ment needed the money, and
Hamilton thought it well to ac-
custom the people to the idea
of taxes collected 'in diflferent
parts of the country. He be-
lieved that a government, like
a man, grows strong by exerds-
mg every power.

The levy of this tax soon gave
the government an opportunity
to show whether it was strong.
Many persons in western Penn-
sylvania owned small distiUeries Alexander Hamilton
and made whiskey out of their

surplus rye, com, and wheat. When the Spaniards closed
the Mississippi, the western settlers could no longer send
their grain to market by water. It could be sent across the
mountains only at great expense tmless distilled into whis-
key. They were angry at the law placing a tax on their
chief product arid drove away the collectors. When the
governor of Pennsylvania would not put down the disorder,
Washington sent to the seat of trouble an army made up of
militia from the neighboring states. The "Whiskey Rebel-
lion" ended without actual fighting, and resistance to the
collectors ceased.

A Hint and a National Bank. — By Hamilton's advice a
mint was established, and the coinage of silver and gold
begun. His plan to create a Bank of the United States met
with more opposition. England had had such a bank for a

Digitized by



century. It had been of great use in several ways, but
chiefly in helping the government when it needed to
borrow large amounts of money. In Holland the Bank
of Amsterdam had been equally useful. When Hamilton
proposed a similar bank for the United States, many

opposed the scheme
for fear that it
would be so power-
ful that it would
control all business.
Congress, however,
finally authorized
the Bank, to do
business for twenty
, years, and subscrib-
' ed one-fifth of the
money that was
The Bank of the United States, required for its or-


Rival Leaders in Washington's Cabinet — In carrying out
Hamilton's plans Congress made use of powers not given
to it expressly in the Constitution. Hamilton argued that
Congress should provide for the general welfare of the coun-
try. Jefferson opposed Hamilton's plans in the Cabinet
meetings and outside. Washington sympathized rather more
with Hamilton, but preferred not to take sides with either.
The fact was that the two great leaders held very different
views of government. Hamilton was bent on securing a
strong government which could maintain order at all times.
He distrusted the ability of the masses of the people to take
an intelligent part in government, and accordingly believed
that the government should be carried on by men of prop-
erty and education. Jefferson, on the other hand, sincerely
believing that aU men are equal, was determined that the few

Digitized by




should not rule the many. He thought that all the people
would in the end prove wiser than any part of them,
however well-meaning and intelligent. Under the influence
of Jefiferson and Hamilton the citizens of the new republic
were soon grouped in two political parties. Hamilton's
foflowers were com-
monly called Fed-
eralists, because of
their belief in a
strong federal or
national govern-
ment. The Jeffer-
sonians were called
Democrats or Re-
publicans because
of their faith in the
people. The Dem-
ocrats naturally
looked to the states
rather than the Un-
ited States as the
governments which
must be relied upon. They were sure that Hamilton
aimed at changing the government into a monarchy, and
even went so far as to attack Washington bitterly for
leaning toward Hamilton's ideas on government.

The New Government and the Ohio Country. — The
advantages of a strong government, such as Washington and
his advisers were organizing, soon became apparent in another
way. Hardly had Marietta been founded before a new
Indian war broke out, in which the governor of the North-
west Territory was badly defeated. The new government
* raised another and better army and supplied it with neces-
sary war supplies. Washington gave the command to Gen-

The Northwest Territory after Wayne's

The part given up by the Indians is shaded; that kept
by the Indians is white

Digitized by



eral Anthony Wayne, whom his soldiers liked to call "Mad
Anthony" for his bravery, but whom the Indians called the
"chief that never sleeps" for his ceaseless energy. Wayne
defeated the Indians decisively and compelled them to give
up nearly all of what is now the state of Ohio. After this
it was not so dangerous to emigrate to the West, and the
number of settlers increased rapidly.

Exterior Interior

A Pioneer Home in Kentucky

By 1800 four hundred thousand people lived west of the
mountains. So many lived in Kentucky that in 1792 it
was admitted to the union of states on the same terms as the
original thirteen. Four years later, in 1796, Tennessee was
made the sixteenth state. ^ Ohio was added in 1803, and the
remainder of the Northwest Territory was soon divided into
Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois Territories.


1. What disputes finally convinced men that a stronger government was
needed? Who were the leaders in calling the convention at Philadelphia?

2. What great obstacle was there to the success of the convention? How
long did the delegates work in framing the new government?

3. What three branches of government did the new Constitution pro\nde?
Why did the leaders arrange the powers of these branches as they did? What
new powers, not possessed by Congress under the Articles of Confederation,
were now given to the central government?

* Vermont, the fourteenth state, had been admitted in 1791.

Digitized by



4. Why did the delegates not give the choice of President and senators to
the people directly? What officials did they allow the people to choose? What
compromise was made in order to adjust the chief difference between the laige
and small states?

5. How many states accepted the work of the convention? What states
refused at first to accept?

6. When was the new government organized? Who became the President
and Vice-President? Whom did Washington choose as his advisers? Where
did Washington get the idea of a Cabinet?

7. How did Congress, under the advice of Hamilton, Secretary of the Treas-
ury, provide for tne expenses of government? Why did Hamilton wish the
United States to pay the state debts as well as the general debts? Why did
many citizens oppose this part of his plan? - What compromise was adopted in
Congress to settle tne difference of opinion over state debts and the capital?

8. Why did Hamilton want Congress to create a Bank of the United
States? Where had the plan worked well? Wliat objections were made?
Was Hamilton successful in this part of his scheme for the organization of
the new government?

9. What views did Hamilton and Jefferson hold regarding government?
What party names did their followers take?

10. In what way was the new and stronger government beneficial to the
western settlers? What new states were added to the Union?


1. Review in Chapter XX the reasons for abandoning the Articles of Con-
federation for an entirely new frame of government.

2. Make a table showing the area and population of the thirteen states
and group them as large and small states with regard to population. (See
Appendix, page x.) •

3. Are senators and the President still elected in the manner originally
provided in the Constitution?

4. What heads of departments now form the President's Cabinet?

Important Dates:

1787. The Constitutional Convention meets in Philadelphia.
1789. The new Constitution goes into effect, and Washington becomes

Digitized by




Two New Revolutions. — While the people of the United
States were busy completing the new framework of govern-
ment, two revolutions on the other side of the Atlantic began
to influence them deeply. The first, in England, tailed the
Industrial Revolution, introduced new and quicker ways of
making cloth, iron, steel, and many other things. Tiie
Americans naturally were eager to learn the new methods in
order to succeed in manufacturing. The second revolution
was in France, and seemed to be a struggle for the kind of
liberty and equality which the Americans already enjoyed.
It therefore appealed strongly to their sympathies. But
when it led to a terrible war, in which France was arrayed
against England and Europe, American sympathies were
divided. This was especially true after the French as well
as the English began to interfere with American trade.

Spinning and Weaving. — The first change made in Eng-
land was in the method of preparing cotton or woolen yam
and of weaving it into cloth. The story is told that James
Hargreaves, an English weaver, entered his house one day
so suddenly that his wife, startled, upset her spinning-wheel.
Hargreaves noticed that the wheel kept on turning as it lay
on the floor, and he wondered why he could not construct a
wheel in such a manner that it would turn several spindles
and spin several threads at once. He succeeded in making
a machine which could spin eight threads, and named it a
"spinning jenny" in honor of his wife. This was in 1764.

Digitized by



Hargreaves did not keep his secret long, and soon other
machines were made, spinning 20 and 30 threads. The most
successful maker of spinning machines was Richard Ark-
wright, who after 1769 made and sold great numbers of them.
The good points of both kinds of machines were soon com-
bined in a "mule spinner,"
which was in common use
by the close of the Revolu-
tionary War.

Before these spinning
machines were invented,
weavers often were imable
to obtain yam enough to
supply their looms. Now

yam was spun much faster Hargreaves's Spinning Jenny

than it was needed. The

balance was restored by the power-loom, another great
invention. A clergyman, Edmund Cartwright, invented a
machine, which was run by power, for weaving the yam into
cloth. This soon began to displace the hand-looms. The
power was furnished at first by horses or water-wheels.

The Steam-Engine. — About the same time James Watt
invented the steam-engine. Men had dreamed for ages of
using the steam which escaped from a boiling kettle for
driving machinery. Hero, a Greek inventor of Alexandria in
Egypt, more than one himdred years before Christ, attached
bent pipes to a boiler so that escaping steam caused the
pipes to revolve in the same way as lawn sprinklers turn by
the flow of water. Watt showed how to introduce the steam
first at one end of a cylinder and then at the other, so as
to drive a piston back and forth. His engine was able to
furnish more power than a very large nimiber of horses, and
could be used where water-wheels could not be set up, and
could take the place of the water-wheels when the rivers

Digitized by



Online LibraryElbert Jay Benton Henry Eldridge BourneA history of the United States → online text (page 17 of 44)