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THE UNITED STATES

AN OUTLINE OF POLITICAL HISTORY




UNITED STATES

OF AMERICA



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THE UNITED STATES



AN OUTLINE OF POLITICAL HISTORY

1492-1871



BY

GOLDWIN SMITH, D.C.L.



" This will sometime hence be a vast Empire, the seat of power and
learning. Naiitre has refused it nothing, and there will grow a people out
of our little spot, England, that will fill this vast space and divide tin s por
tion of the globe with the Spaniards, who are possessed of the other half"
GENERAL WOLFE

" I am not wanting in affection and love for America. I am rather
wanting in distrust and ingratitude towards Europe." DR. ROQUE SAENZ
PENA, Speech at the Pan-American Conference at Washington, 1890



gorfc
MACMILLAN AND CO.

AND LONDON
1893

All rights reserved



COPYRIGHT, 1893,
BT MACMILLAN AND CO.



Set up and electrotyped August, 1893. Reprinted September, November,
December, 1893.



M^RSFJ STEfHENS



Xorfcoooti ^prrss :

J. S. Gushing- & Co. Berwick & Smith.
Boston, Mass., U.S.A.



PREFACE.

To an Englishman, particularly if he is visiting America,
an outline of the political history of the United States
may not be unwelcome. An American, being familiar
with the main facts and the general relations of parties,
would look for details. It is, therefore, for English rather
than American readers that this sketch is intended. If it
comes into the hands of an American, his liberality will
make allowance for the position of an Englishman who
regards the American Commonwealth as the great achieve
ment of his race, and looks forward to the voluntary
reunion of the American branches of the race within its
pale, yet desires to do justice to the mother country, and
to render to her the meed of gratitude which will always
be her due.

Should this volume find acceptance it may be followed
by a companion volume on the same scale, and treating,
necessarily with the same succinctness, the recent history
of parties, and the questions of the present day.

A complete list of all the authorities consulted would
be out of proportion to the book itself, but special obliga
tions should be acknowledged to Gordon s " History of
the American Revolution," Bancroft s "History of the
United States," Hildreth s "History of the United States,"



310086



vi PREFACE.

Palfrey s "History of New England," Henry Adams s
"History of the United States," Schouler s "History of
the United States," McMaster s "History of the People
of the United States," Bryant s "Popular History oi
the United States," Justin Winsor s "Narrative and
Critical History of America," Charles K. Adams s "Co
lumbus," Draper s "The Civil War in America," the
"Epochs of American History" series, the "History oi
the Civil War in America " by the Comte de Paris, the
" Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and
United States History," the " American Statesmen " series.
the works of Professor Fiske, Swinton s "Decisive Battles
of the War," Sabine s " Loyalists of the American Revolu
tion," Blaine s " Twenty Years of Congress," Thomas
Jones s " History of New York during the Revolutionary
War," published by the New York Historical Society,
and the " American Commonwealths " series, also Ban
croft s " History of the Constitution of the United States."
The writer would be glad to think that his work had been
instrumental in exciting the curiosity of English readers
and leading them to resort to the sources of ample infor
mation mentioned in this list.



The writer cannot send this fourth edition of his work to press,
without specially acknowledging the kindness of his American readers
and reviewers, whose reception of a book which in some things con
travenes cherished traditions is a proof of American candour and
liberality. Perhaps they have discerned, beneath the British critic of
American History, the Anglo-Saxon who, to the Republic which he
regards as the grand achievement of his race, desires to offer no hom
age less pure or noble than the truth.



CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.

THE COLONIES.

Discovery of a western continent by Columbus Early adventurers
The landing of the Mayflower The Plymouth pilgrims Their
allegiance to the old land The founding of Massachusetts The
Puritan commonwealth Early religious strifes Political aspect of
Puritanism Puritan democracy A federation formed Puritan
legislation Social life Slavery Relations with the Indians
The new colonies and the Crown Massachusetts reduced to a de
pendency William III and Massachusetts Decay of Puritanism
"Witchcraft Increase of wealth Virginia Virginian life and
society Slavery and slave laws Politics, the church, and educa
tion The founding of Maryland Religious strifes and political
changes Georgia The founding of Pennsylvania New York
and New Jersey Characteristics of the Middle States Restric
tions on colonial trade Political embroilments Benjamin Frank
lin Pages 1-63



CHAPTER II.
REVOLUTION, INDEPENDENCE, AND UNION.

French hostilities in the new world The quarrel with England The
colonial relationship Cause of the revolt Separation and the sep
arators Samuel Adams Patrick Henry Irritation of Massachu
setts Fomenting influences Trade restrictions The Stamp Act
and the tea duty Ebullition at Boston Repression The King s
difficulties Federation for defence The Declaration of Independ
ence Opening of the war Lexington Bunker s Hill Evacua
tion of Boston The loyalists Canada attacked New York



CONTENTS.

taken Washington at Valley Forge Character of Washington
Burgoyne s expedition State of the country Character of the troops
Financial disturbance French aid Arnold and Andre" British
successes in the South Capitulation of Cornwallis at Yorktown
Treatment of the loyalists England and the separation The col
onies after the revolt Constitutional and other changes Impotency
of Congress Discontent rife The federal convention The con
stitution Provisions of the constitution . . . Fages 64-lL K J



CHAPTER III.
REPUBLIC.

Washington president Presidential etiquette and state Success of
the constitution Birth of parties Alexander Hamilton His abil
ity, character, and principles His Secretaryship of the Treasury
Thomas Jefferson His character, theories, and political principles
Growth of the Republic England and the new republic George
Ill s reception of John Adams Washington s second term The
French Revolution and American parties The question of belliger
ent rights Jay s treaty Retirement of Washington The city of
Washington John Adams President His appearance and charac
ter Resentment against France The feeling quelled Bitterness
of party spirit Jefferson President His inaugural address Ac
quisition of Louisiana Jefferson s first term His second term
International complications : neutral trade, belligerent rights, impress
ment of seamen Action of the Leopard and Chesapeake Jefferson
places an embargo on trade Madison President Diplomatic em
broilments Influence of Kentucky Henry Clay Motives leading
to war The war of 1812 The treaty of Ghent Battle of New
Orleans Results of the war Boundaries in Maine and Oregon
Monroe President The Monroe doctrine . . Pages 130-170



CHAPTER IV.
DEMOCRACY AND SLAVERY.

Monroe s Presidency The era of good feeling Geographical division
between freedom and slavery The Presidential fever and its effects
Reign of the " Machine" Henry Clay His character and prin
ciples Daniel Webster His character His oratory John C.
Calhoun His character and principles Slavery and the Senate



CONTENTS. ix

debates Benton Randolph The tariff question Free trade vs.
protection Webster ; Clay ; McDuffie Public land and improve
ments John Quincy Adams His character and principles Mili
tary renown as a political influence Andrew Jackson s Presiden
tial campaign Jackson s inauguration The spoils go to the victor
A court quarrel Jackson s despotism The National Bank
question South Carolina rises against the tariff The Force
Bill Effects of Jackson s policy Demagogism Van Buren
Party lines The anti- Masons William Harrison s Presidential
campaign Tyler President Texas and Mexico Clay s candida
ture Polk President War with Mexico Texas annexed Tay
lor President Fillmore President Close of Webster s career
Texas and slavery End of the Whig party Pierce President
The Knownothings The Irish vote Growth of the Republic
Progress westward Development and expansion Political and
social democracy Pages 177-220



CHAPTER V.
RUPTURE AND RECONSTRUCTION.

Slavery forced to the front The question a thing of the past Its source
Ancient compared with American slavery Fusion of races impos
sible Emancipation discouraged Slavery not elevating Condi
tion of the negro Sinister aspects and influences of slavery Slave
industry Aggressive character of slavery Apologies for the sys
tem Possibilities of a peaceful solution Dominance of slavery
Its adherents Protests, political, philosophical, literary William
Lloyd Garrison Wendell Phillips Strong feeling in the South
Case of Anthony Burns Stephen Douglas in politics Squatter
sovereignty The Kansas- Nebraska Act Case of Dred Scott
Free Soilers Disorder in Kansas Violent debates in Congress
The two parties, Republican and Democratic John Brown Abra
ham Lincoln His early life His appearance, capability, and char
acter His political principles His powers of debate Elected
President South Carolina secedes Other States follow A
Southern Confederacy formed Slavery the cause of secession
The Confederate government Buchanan s vacillation Concessions
offered by Congress The crisis unexpected Possibilities of peace
ful separation State sovereignty The struggle a regular war
Lincoln as President His object the preservation of the Union
War breaks out by the capture of Fort Sumter The military strength
of North and South compared Means adopted to obtain men and



CONTENTS.

money England and the South Neutrality of the British govern
ment Capture of Messrs. Mason and Slidell Foreign nations

and the war Strategy of the North Chief scene of war Bull

Run Northern military organization General McClellan placed

in command McClellan and Lincoln Generals Lee and Jackson

Pope replaces McClellan The equipment of the respective armies

Antietam Lincoln proclaims emancipation Enlistment of ne
groes Fort Pillow Burnside put in command Battle of Fred-

ericksburg Hooker replaces Burnside Is defeated General Grant

Fort Donelson taken General Sherman Battle of Shiloh

Vicksburg Farragut New Orleans taken Benjamin Butler s
proclamation Murfreesborough Character of the battles The
Merrimack and the Monitor Blockade running Lee enters Penn
sylvaniaIrish riot in New York Battle of Gettysburg Fall of
Vicksburg The South in straits The army of the Potomac
Battle of the Wilderness Cold Harbour Early attacks Washing
ton Sheridan desolates the Shenandoah Valley Mechanical skill
displayed in Sheridan s campaign Hood replaces Johnston At
lanta falls Savannah and Charleston surrender Nashville Rich
mond evacuated Lee surrenders at Appomattox Lincoln re-elected
And murdered His statesmanship Humanity on the two
sides The Sanitary Commission Democracy and war The
war and the constitution Little or no disturbance of life at
the North No military usurpation Finances Effects on the
South Economical evils War literature Cost of the war-

Foreign questions The Alabama question Reconstruction

Lincoln s views Amnesty Andrew Johnson The status of

the negro Pages 221-301



CHAPTER I.

THE COLONIES.

centuries ago, Christopher Columbus, one of the 1492.
Italian mariners whom the decline of their own repub
lics had put at the service of the world and of adventure,
seeking for Spain a westward passage to the Indies as a
set-off against the achievements of Portuguese discoverers
eastwards, lighted on America. The new continent was
thus discovered by the man who had staked most on the
belief that no such continent existed, and that the way to
the Indies was open by sea. That the daring barques of
the Northmen had long before found their way from
Greenland to the coast of North America is likely, though
not certain. What is certain is that nothing more came,
or in that age could come, of their visit than of the visit
of a flock of sea-gulls. The basement of an old mill at
Newport, which fancy turned into a Norse fortress, the
Dighton rock, on which fancy traced Norse runes, the
dykes at Watertown, in Massachusetts, in which fancy
still sees the defences of the Norse city of Norumbega,
only attest the yearnings of a new nation for antiquity.

Columbus sailed in the age of enterprise and discovery,
of re-awakened intellect and revived learning, of universal
curiosity and romantic aspiration. He was in every way
a typical man of his generation. He displayed in the high-



2 THE UNITED STATES. CHAP.

est degree that daring spirit of adventure which could put
forth in a tiny caravel without chart, quadrant, or even a
full acquaintance with the compass, over the wide and wild
Atlantic to an unknown shore ; and a shore which, when
found, might teem with perils and be the abode of mon
sters or of demons. Humanity, since that time, has ad
vanced in many ways ; but it has hardly advanced in
fortitude. Columbus was also a devotee of a religion with
more in it of Rome and of the Crusades than of the Gos
pel, and with more of the forms of devotion than of the
spirit. Morally he was a type of the age which came
between the fall of the Catholic and the rise of the Prot
estant faith, and had for its head Alexander VI, the moral
monster of the Papacy, whose hand signed the Bull which
divided the new world between two Catholic powers. In
his youth it seems he served on board a pirate fleet. He
began his intercourse with the natives of America by kid
napping, and he gave the word for the opening of the
slave trade. His dealings with his own companions were
equivocal. He was always in greedy quest of gold, though
he professed, and perhaps believed, that he meant to use
the gold in a crusade. He became the father of a line of
adventurers who, like himself, were gold-seekers or seekers
of lucre, gilding their rapacity with the same profession
of zeal for the extension of religion, who sacked Mexico
and Peru, trampled to pieces there, under the hoofs of
conquest, the highest development of Indian civilization,
worked to death the soft inhabitants of the American
islands, and replaced them by the importation of African
slaves. None of these adventurers looked upon America
1565. as a new home, or thought of founding a nation. The
Huguenots might have founded a nation in Florida had



i. THE COLONIES.

they not been massacred by the Spaniards. Missionary
enterprise, to some extent, accompanied and redeemed
the gold-seeking. It founded the Jesuit utopia in Para- 1527
guay, and in the establishment of French Canada went 15 5
hand in hand with that kingly thirst of dominion which,
rather than colonization in the proper and beneficent
sense, was the dominant motive of French enterprise in
North America. But the aim of the Jesuit was not to
found a nation. In the settlement of Virginia by Sir 1585
Walter Raleigh, and, when Raleigh s romantic enterprise ^37
had failed, by a company of commercial adventurers, lucre,
if not gold-seeking, was still the predominant motive.
Of a hundred and forty-three settlers sent out, a large
proportion were broken-down gentlemen seeking to repair
their fortunes ; a few only were labourers or mechanics ;
the rest were servants. To show how faint was their pur
pose of settlement, they brought no women. The subse
quent reinforcements were of the same kind, with some
goldsmiths and refiners to help in seeking for gold where
no gold was. A ship went home laden with shining mica,
which was mistaken for gold. Food these colonists had to
beg or steal from the Indians. To the crew of vagabonds
were afterwards added jail-birds. Convicts were offered
their choice between the gallows and Virginia, and some,
we are told, chose the gallows. Only by the personal force 1607.
and genius of John Smith, the one true captain, who com
pelled gentlemen to wield the axe, telling" them that if
they would not work they should not eat, was the colony
saved from dissolution. It had been started on the false
principle of joint stock industry, which deprives labour of
its mainspring. Its place, Jamestown, has long been deso
late, and only fragments of ruin mark the site. In these



4 THE UNITED STATES. CHAP.

days steam carries all the implements of husbandry, now
brought to marvellous perfection, and all needful stores,
with the emigrant into his field of settlement. In those
days colonization was a death-struggle with nature. Some
sustaining motive higher than gain was necessary to give
man the victory and enable him to make for himself a new
home in the wilderness, arid to found a nation.

Such a motive, together with the necessary habits of
labour and powers of endurance, was present in the little
train of emigrants who, after beating up and down for
some days upon a bleak and wintry coast and receiving
as their welcome to it a volley of Indian arrows, dis
embarked from the Mayflower on the 22nd of December,
1620. Their landing was on the shore to which John
Smith, its first explorer, had given the name of New
England, at a spot which they named Plymouth, after
the English port of that name from which they had
sailed. Setting rhetorical exaggeration aside, we need
not doubt that in watching that sad yet hopeful proces
sion of men, women, and children, we are witnessing one
of the great events and one of the heroic scenes of
history. The story of these emigrants is well known.
They were dissenters from the Established Church of
England, with simple hearts full of the intense faith and
zeal inspired in those days by the new revelation of the
pure Gospel. They had fled from the emissaries of
1608. church law, first to Holland. There they had found
themselves surrounded by a community highly commer
cial, whose manners their austere simplicity deemed
corrupting, which did not strictly keep the Sabbath, and
into whose worldliness their children were in danger
of being drawn. They feared also the loss of their



i. THE COLONIES. 5

nationality, to which, though persecuted in England,
they clung. They had then determined to seek a home
beyond the Atlantic where they might enjoy their religion
uncontaminated and in peace. A chartered company, the
usual organ of commercial venture in those days, formed
the English basis of their enterprise and the source of
needful supplies.

The Plymouth pilgrims, landing in mid-winter on a
grim coast, underwent the severest sufferings. They
were ill sheltered ; they had no bread, and were reduced
to shellfish for food. More than half their number died.
At one time only seven of them were left strong enough
to tend the sick. It seems that they were saved from
the Indian tomahawk only by a distemper which happened
to prevail among the Indians. To use their own words,
" all great and honourable actions are accompanied with
great difficulties, and must be both undertaken and con
firmed with answerable courages." " It is not," they had
said, " with us as with other men, whom small things can
discourage or small discontents cause to wish themselves
home again." Their language is instinct with the simple
heroism of their enterprise. " Let it not be grievous to
you," said their friends in England, " that you have been
instruments to break the ice for others ; the honour shall
be yours to the world s end." To the world s end the
honour is theirs. If Columbus discovered the new conti
nent, they discovered the new world.

Before landing, the pilgrims, " seeing that some among
them were not well affected to concord," had drawn up
this voluntary compact :

" In the name of God, amen ; we, whose names are
underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign



6 THE UNITED STATES. CHAP.

King James, . . . having undertaken, for the glory of
God and advancement of the Christian faith, and honour
of our King and country, a voyage to plant the first
colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these
presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God,
and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves
together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering
and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid ;
and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such
just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and
offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet
and convenient for the general good of the colony. Unto
which we promise all due submission and obedience."

It is true that this covenant was not a political mani
festo. It is not less true that it heralded a polity of
self-government, and may thus rank among the great
documents of history. It breathes good-will to the land
which the pilgrims had left, though the rulers of that
land had cast them out. The Puritan exile did not say
" Farewell, Babylon," but " Farewell, dear England."
Unhappily these, in common with other colonists of the
period, retained not only their love of the old land, but
their political tie to it. They deemed themselves still
liegemen of a sovereign on the other side of the Atlantic.
This created a relation false from the beginning. Herein
lay the fatal seeds of misunderstanding, of encroach
ment on the side of the home government, of revolt on
that of the growing colony, and ultimately of revolution.
The Hellenic colonist had gone forth to make his home
in a new land, taking with him the sacred fire from the
altar-hearth of his native city, but free from any political
tie. His only bond to his native city was that of filial



i. THE COLONIES. 7

affection, gracefully expressed in honours paid to her
representatives. The Hellenic colony was a colony in the
true sense of the word, not a dependency. The English
colony unhappily was a dependency, and when it grew
strong enough to spurn dependence there was a bond to
be broken which was not likely to be broken without
violence and a breach of affection. Dependence was the
result of two notions combined, that of the territorial right
of discovery, and that of personal and indefeasible alle
giance. Let a mariner land and set up a flag on a strange
shore, let him even sight that shore from his vessel, the
whole region thenceforth, according to the European law
of nations, belonged to his sovereign, and was that sov
ereign s to grant to whom he pleased. His Majesty of 1606.
England by his charter granted North America, so far as it
was then known, between certain degrees of latitude, in
full property, with exclusive rights of jurisdiction, settle
ment, and traffic, to certain persons incorporated respec
tively as the London and Plymouth Companies. The
Pope s pretension to divide the new world between Catho
lic powers was hardly more baseless. From the feudal
system came down the idea of personal and indefeasible
allegiance, with the lingering traces of which international
law and diplomacy in our own day have had to deal. This
was the beginning of woes, the full measure of which came
in 1765.

The foundation of New Plymouth was followed by that
of Massachusetts, the great Puritan colony of all, and the
leading shoot of American civilization, which presently
drew to it New Plymouth, while it threw out from it, in
different ways and partly by repulsion, the off-shoots which
became Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and



8 THE UNITED STATES. CHAP.

Vermont. The founders of Massachusetts were not, when
they came out, Independents, like the company of the
Mayflower, but Puritans in the proper sense of the term,
that is, members of the Church of England who desired to
remain within her pale, but to purify her from the vestiges
of Rome, and at the same time to uplift her to a higher
standard of Christian life. They even anxiously disclaimed
any intention of separation. " They esteemed it their hon
our," they said, " to call the Church of England their
dear mother, and could not part from their native country,
where she specially resided, without much sadness of heart
and many tears in their eyes ; ever acknowledging that
such hope and part as they had attained in the common
salvation they had received in her bosom and sucked from
her breasts." But practical divorce from the Anglican
hierarchy and ordinances, together with the liberating air
of the new world, soon made them, like the Plymouth



Online LibraryGoldwin SmithThe United States; an outline of political history, 1492-1871 → online text (page 1 of 27)