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3 3433 08254391 3




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DOME OF THE CAPITOL AT WASHINGTON.



LIVES OF



THE



PRESIDENTS



BY



PRESCOTT HOLMES



With Portraits and Numerous Illustrations



PHILADELPHIA
HENRY ALTEMUS



- -

* \ i






IN UNIFORM STYLE



Copiously Illustrated



THE PILGRIM S PROGRESS

ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND

THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS & WHAT ALICE FOUND THERE

ROBINSON CRUSOE

THE CHILD'S STORY OF THE BIBLE

THE CHILD'S LIFE OF CHRIST

LIVES OF THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES

THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON

THE FABLES OF ^ESOP

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS AND THE DISCOVERY OF AMERICA

MOTHER GOOSE'S RHYMES, JINGLES AND FAIRY TALES

EXPLORATION AND ADVENTURE IN THE FROZEN SEAS

THE STORY OF DISCOVERY AND EXPLORATION IN AFRICA

GULLIVER'S TRAVELS

ARABIAN NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS

WOOD'S NATURAL HISTORY

A CHILD'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND, by CHARLES DICKENS

BLACK BEAUTY, by ANNA SEWELL

ANDERSEN'S FAIRY TALES

GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES

GRANDFATHER'S CHAIR, by NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE

FLOWER FABLES, by LOUISA M. ALCOTT



Price 50 Cents Each
HENRY ALTEMUS, PHILADELPHIA



Copyright i8g6 and 1898 by Hjnry AHcinus.



PREFACE.



WE have here endeavored to acquaint young peo-
ple with the story of the lives and attain-
ments of the men \vho achieved the highest
civic honor in the gift of the people; and to explain,
in a necessarily brief narrative, the history of our
political parties, the issues involved in their several
contests, and their differing administrations.

The youth of the present is the President of the
future; and an intelligent understanding of the
rights and duties of citizenship is an imperative
feature of his education. He will perceive that
honest differences of opinion have ever prevailed,
and that most of these have been settled by judicious
compromises under constitutional limitations. The
slavery question submitted itself to the arbitration of
the sword, and was worsted ; and the sin and stain
of slavery was forever removed from our country.

We have attempted to describe the things which
have been accomplished in order that the young pa-
triot may have the warning and the promise in the
things yet to be done. At the cost of much blood
and treasure is crystalized the Nation's motto,
E Pluribus Unum. Let us hope and act so that it
will be always " now, and forever."

(5)




THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE READ TO THE ARMY.

(6)



CONTENTS.



PAGE.

GEORGE WASHINGTON 9

JOHN ADAMS 35

THOMAS JEFFERSON 46

JAMES MADISON 67

JAMES MONROE 79

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS 97

ANDREW JACKSON 103

MARTIN VAN BUREN 115

WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON 123

JOHN TYLER 125

JAMES K. POLK 135

ZACHARY TAYLOR 144

MlLLARD FlLLMORE 155

FRANKLIN PIERCE 157

JAMES BUCHANAN 165

ABRAHAM LINCOLN 192

ANDREW JOHNSON 207

ULYSSES S. GRANT 215

RUTHERFORD B HAYES 233

JAMES A. GARFIELD 241

CHESTER A. ARTHUR 246

GROVER CLEVELAND 254

BENJAMIN HARRISON 265

\VlLLIAM McKlXLEY 269

(7)




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WASHINGTON IN 1772, AT TH AGE OF FORTY.



LIVES OF THE PRESIDENTS



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GEORGE WASHINGTON 1789-1797.

GEORGE WASHINGTON, the first President, was
born in Virginia, February 22, 1732. His ancestors
emigrated to Virginia in the time of Cromwell ( i6s; ).
His father died when he was ten years old, leaving



10 LIVES OF THE PRESIDENTS.

a comfortable property to his mother and five chil-
dren* She was a wise and prudent woman, and
trained her family to be industrious and economical.
His education was conducted partly by his mother
and partly at one of the ordinary schools of the
province. It was the usual middle-class education,
but it included enough of mathematics to enable
Washington to act as a land-surveyor. His boyhood
showed many evidences of that methodical precision
which was always one of his characteristics. He
wrote a neat, stiff hand; he compiled "Rules of
Behavior in Company and Conversation ; ' he sur-
veyed the fields and plantations about the school
where he was staying, and entered his measurements
and calculations in a field-book with great exactness.
In athletic exercises he was always foremost, and it
was a favorite diversion of his to form his school-
mates into companies, and engage them in sham
fights. His ambition was to enter the navy; but his
mother objected, and he began his work of land-
surveying. At sixteen he was employed to examine
the valleys of the Alleghany mountains a task
which was continued during the next three years,
and performed with skill and completeness. It was
no light or easy task, for the country was a wilder-
ness, and the severities of the weather had no miti-
gation in those wild passes and unsheltered glens.
It was onlv for a few weeks at a time that he could

^

endure this life of hardship and deprivation; but
after an interval of rest and comfort, he would again
seek the desert, carrying his instruments of science
into the region of savage mountains, and the neigh-
borhood of savage men.



GEORGE WASHINGTON. \\

When Washington was about nineteen, Virginia
was divided into military districts, as a measure of
protection against the advance of the French. Over
each division an adjutant-general, with the rank of
major, was appointed. Washington was commis-
sioned to one of these districts, and set to work to
study military tactics. He was so good a soldier
two years later that, when the number of military
divisions in Virginia was reduced to four, he was
still left in command of one, and in this capacity
had to train and instruct officers, to inspect men,
arms, and accoutrements, and to establish a uniform
system of manoeuvres. When he was twenty-one, he
was doing the work of an experienced major-general;
and was selected by Governor Dinwiddie for a service
which demanded great skill as well as daring. He
was required to make his way across a mountainous
desert, inhabited by Indians whose friendship could
hardly be depended on; to penetrate to the frontier
stations of the French; and to bring back informa-
tion concerning their position and military strength,
together with an answer from the French com-
mander as to why he had invaded the British domin-
ions during a time of peace. The expedition was
all the more onerous as winter was coming on. It
was October 31, 1753, ere Washington started; it
was the middle of November when, with an inter-
preter, four attendants, and Christopher Gist as a
guide, he followed an Indian trail into the dim
mysteries of the unknown forest. The path took
the little company into the wilderness, and carried
them over deep ravines and swollen streams, made
worse by the sleet and snow which then began to



12 LIVES OF THE PRESIDENTS.

fall; and at length brought them, after a hurried
ride of nine days, to the fork of the Ohio, where
the quick glance of Washington saw the fine capa-
bilities for planting a great commercial city, now
Cincinnati.

The party swam their horses across the Alleghany,
and slept that night on the bank of the river. Next
morning the chief of the Delawares led them through

^5

an open country to the valley of Logs town, where
they were cordially received by the Indians, with
whom they planned a series of operations against
the French, in the event of the latter still refusing
to quit the country. Accompanied by several of the
natives, Washington and his friends again set for-
ward, and reached the French post, where the officers
avowed their resolve to take possession of the Ohio.
They boasted of their forts at Le Boeuf, Erie, Niag-
ara, Toronto, and Frontenac, and said that the
English would be unable, though two to one, to
prevent any enterprise of the French. From this
point, the Virginian envoys made their way, across
creeks so swollen by the rains as to be passable only
over felled trees, towards the fort of Le Boeuf, situ-
ated at Waterford. Rain and snow fell; they were
often engulfed in miry swamps, and were forced to
kill bucks and bears for their sustenance. On
gaining Fort Le Boeuf, they found it surrounded by
the rough, log-built barracks of the soldiers. In
front lay 50 birch-bark canoes, and 170 boats of pine,
ready for the descent of the river; while, close by,
materials were collected for building more. The
commander of the fort was a man of great courage,
of large experience, and of so much integrity that



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WASHINGTON PLANTING THE BRITISH FLAG AT FORT DUQUESNK.

13



LIVES OF THE PRESIDENTS.

he was at once feared and beloved by the savages.
He refused to discuss with young Washington
the abstract question of right. He had been placed
there by his chief, and would execute the orders he
had received. To the letter from Didwiddie which
Washington delivered, requiring the evacuation of
the place, he replied by a direct refusal, and an inti-
mation of his purpose to seize every Englishman
within the Ohio Valley. Having executed his com-
mission, Washington, with his companions, turned
homeward. The return was worse than the journey
out; for it was now the depth of winter, and having
to cross many creeks and small rivers, they suffered
severely from the rigor of the season. Once, a canoe
which they now had with them was driven against
the rocks; at other times they were obliged to carry
it across the half-frozen stream; often they waded
through water which froze upon their clothes. Snow
fell heavily, and a bitter frost set in. Washington
and Gist separated from the others, and struck across
the open country towards the fork of the Ohio, steer-
ing their way by the compass. But the deadly cold
was not the only peril they had to face. Hostile
Indians lay in wait for the travelers, and one fired
at Washington as he passed. The Alleghany was
crossed on a raft laboriously made out of trees which
they had first to fell. The passage of the river was
made difficult and dangerous by floating ice, and
Washington, in mancevering the raft, was thrown
into the benumbing current. He and his compan-
ion got to a small island, and passed the night there;
in the morning the river was entirely frozen over,
and they crossed on foot. On January 16, 1754,



GEORGE WASHINGTON.

Washington again found himself at the Virginia
capital. The journal of his expedition, which was
published shortly afterwards, gave a very high idea
of his sagacity, self-reliance, and powers of observa-
tion; and his minute description of the fort which
he had visited of its form, size, construction, and
number of cannon advanced his reputation as a
military critic. That winter's journey had brought
a new actor on the stage of the world.

Dinwiddie attempted to force the French from the
ground claimed by the English. Two companies
were raised, and put under Washington's command
with orders "to drive away, kill, and destroy, or seize
as prisoners all persons, not the subjects of Great
Britain, who should attempt to take possession of the
lands on the Ohio River, or any of its tributaries.'
This expedition failed; the forces being too few and
too poor to succeed. Thus the first important opera-
tion of a British army upon American soil ended in
disgrace and ruin. Yet they did some good fighting,
and Washington gained great honor for his w r ise
actions and bravery. But Dinwiddie treated him so
disrespectfully that he resigned. He was soon in-
vited to become an aide to General Braddock, who
was appointed by the King to take charge of all the
forces then in the field.

When they set out toward Fort Duquesne with
3000 men- -British regulars and Colonial troops-
Braddock expected to find the French and Indians
drawn up in regular lines in an open field, and he
thought that he would only need to make a bold
attack and they would all run. Washington told
him that Indians foueht by hiding behind trees and



1 6 LIVES OF THE PRESIDENTS.

lying in wait in unexpected places, and he cautioned
the English general to send out scouts in advance of
the troops. But Braddock would not listen ; on the
contrary he exhibited towards him the most un-
reasoning obstinacy and most irascible temper. He
knew more about fighting than this young colonial
captain could tell him until the Indians fell upon his
ranks just as Washington predicted, sending bullets
thick and fast into them, while the amazed Britishers
saw nothing but trees at which to return fire. Many
of the officers fell ; Braddock himself was wounded,
and Washington had to take command, and con-
ducted the retreat in a masterly manner. He met
the foe with their own weapons ; he scattered his
men among the trees ; he rode here and there giving
orders ; two horses were shot from under him, and
four bullets passed through his coat, but he was not
harmed. He checked the advance of the French and
Indians, but not until nearly half of the English
troops had been killed.

This affair showed the British Government what
Washington could do, and when a new force was
raised he was put in command of 2000 men ; but
feeling deeply repulsed by the condition of the army,
he resigned after the capture of Fort Duquesne in
November, 1758.

The next year he married a rich and beautiful
widow, Mrs. Martha Custis ; she, with her two chil-
dren, he took to his family mansion at Mount Vernon.
He took no part in military life now, but attended to
his large estates.

Thus at 27, we find Washington a country gen-
tleman, proprietor of a plantation upon which wheat



GEORGE WASHINGTON. 17

and tobacco were raised, and fisheries and brickyards
carried on. He had about 125 slaves. He was a
good master ; and directed in his will that on his
death his slaves should have their freedom. He be-
came a member of the House of Hnr^esses, but
seldom took any active part. When he spoke at all,
it was briefly, but Patrick Henry said that he was,




WASHINGTON'S HOUSE, MOUNT VERNON.

" for solid information and sound judgment, unques-
tionably the greatest man in the Assembly."

The Federal Constitution is the result of the labors
of a convention called at Philadelphia in May, I7 S 7<
when it was feared by many that the Union was in
danger, from inability to pay soldiers who had, in
1783, been disbanded on a declaration of peace and
an acknowledgment of independence ; from prostra-



!8 LIVES OF THE PRESIDENTS.

tion of the public credit ; and from the neglect to
provide for the payment of even the interest on the
public debt. A large portion of the convention clung
to the confederacy of the States, and advocated a re-
vival of the old articles of confederation with addi-
tional powers to Congress. A long discussion fol-
lowed, but a constitution for the people embodying
a division of legislative, judicial and executive pow-
ers prevailed, and the result is now witnessed in our
Federal Constitution. The Revolutionary War lasted
but seven years, while the political revolution direc-
ting it lasted thirteen years. This was completed on
April 30, 1789, when Washington was inaugurated
as the first President under the Federal Constitution.

The meeting of the new Government was to be on
March 4, 1789 ; but so backward w r ere some of the
States in sending representatives that it was April 6
before a quorum of both Houses could be formed.
On the votes for President and Vice- President being
opened and counted, it was found that Washington
had received the largest number of suffrages, and
John Adams the next largest. The former, there-
fore, stood in the position of President ; the latter in
that of Vice-President. It was on this way, originally,
that the two chief officers of the Union were selected.
The news that he had been chosen to the Presidency
was communicated to Washington on April 14. He
departed for the seat of Government on the i6th.
His journey to New York was one continued triumph.
The roads were lined with people who came out to
see him as he passed.

Continuing his journey, he arrived on the banks



GEORGE WASHINGTON. l{)

of the Delaware, close to the city of Trenton. The
opposite shore of the river was thronged with an
enthusiastic crowd. An arch, composed of laurels
and hot-house flowers, spanned the bridge and on
the crown of the arch, in letters of leaves and blos-
soms, were the words, "December 26, 1776," wink-
on the space beneath was the sentence, u The De-
fender of the Mothers will be the Protector of the
Daughters." Here the matrons of the city were
drawn up, and, as Washington passed under the
arch, a number of young girls, dressed in white and
crowned with garlands, strewed flowers before him.
and chanted a song of welcome.

Washington reached New York City on April 23,
but the inauguration did not take place until a week
later. On the morning of April 30, religious ser-
vices were held in all the churches. At noon the
city troops paraded before Washington's door, and
soon afterwards the Committees of Congress and
heads of departments arrived in their carriages. A
procession was formed, and, preceded by troops,
moved forward to the Old City Hall, standing on
the sight of the present Custom-house. Washing-
ton rode in a state coach, and the chief officials in
their own carriages. The Foreign Ministers and a
long train of citizens followed ; and the windows
along the whole line of the route were crowded with
spectators. On nearing the Hall, Washington and
his suite alighted from their carriages, and passed
through two lines of troops into the Senate Cham-
ber, where the Vice-President, the Senate, and the
members of the House of Representatives were



20 LIVES OF THE PRESIDENTS.

assembled. John Adams, as the Vice-President, con-
ducted Washington to a chair of state at the upper enc
of the room. After a solemn pause, the Vice-President.
rose, and informed the President that all things
were prepared for him to take the oath of office.
It was arranged that the oath should be administered
by Robert R. Livingston, the Chancellor of the
State of New York, in a balcony of the Senate
Chamber, and in full view of the people assembled
below.

At the appointed hour, Washington came out on
the balcony, accompanied by various public officers,
and by members of the Senate and House of Repre-
sentatives. The President-elect was clad in a full
suit of dark brown cloth, of American manufacture,
with a steel-hilted dress sword, white silk stock-
ings, and silver shoe-buckles ; and his hair was
dressed and pow r dered in the fashion of the day, and
worn in a bag and solitaire. Loud shouts greeted
his appearance. He was evidently somewhat
shaken by this testimony of public affection, and,
advancing to the front of the balcony, laid his hand
upon his heart, bowed several times, and then re-
tired to an arm-chair near the table. He was now
supported on the right by John Adams, and on the
left by Robert R. Livingston, while in the rear
were several of his old friends and military com-
panions. The Bible was held up on its crimson
cushion by the Secretary of the Senate, while the
Chancellor read the terms of the oath, slowly and
distinctly. These were: U I do solemnly swear
that I will faithfully execute the office of President
of the United States, and will, to the best of my








*-*-y' - - . V

mi



INAUGURATION OF WASHINGTON.



21



22 LIVES OF THE PRESIDENTS,

ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitu-
tion of the United States.' While the words were
being recited, Washington kept his hand on the
open Bible, and on the conclusion of the oath he
solemnly responded, u I swear so help me God!'
The secretary offered to raise the Bible to his lips;
but he bowed down reverently, and kissed it. The
Chancellor now stepped forward, and exclaimed,
4i Long" live George Washington. President of the

o <^ o

United States!' A flag was run up above the
cupola of the Hall; thirteen guns on the battery
were discharged; the bells of the city burst into
joyous peals; and the voices of the people again
poured forth the grandest of all forms of homage.

In all governments there must be parties. At the
beginning, w r e had the Republicans (now the Demo-
crats), who desired a government republican in form
and democratic in spirit, with right of local self-
government and State rights ever uppermost. The
Federalists desired a government republican in form,
with checks upon the impulses or passions of the
people; liberty, sternly regulated by law, and that
law strengthened and confirmed by central authority
-the authority of the National Government to be
final in appeals.

Party hostilities were not manifested in the Presi-
dential election. All bowed to the popularity of
Washington, and he was unanimously nominated.
He selected his cabinet from the leading minds of both
parties, and while himself a recognized Federalist,
all felt that he was acting for the good of all, and in
the earlier years of his administration none disputed
this fact.



GEORGE WASHINGTON.

As the new measures of the Government advanced,
however, the anti-Federalists organized an opposition
to the party in power. Immediate danger had
passed. The Constitution worked well. The laws
of Congress were respected; its calls on the States for
revenue honored, and Washington devoted much of
his first and second messages to showing the grow-
ing prosperity of the country, and the respect which
it was beoinnino- to excite abroad. But where there

C5 O

is political power, there is opposition in a free land,
and the great leaders of that dav neither forfeited

o *

their reputations as patriots, or their characters as
statesmen, by the assertion of honest differences of
opinion. Washington, Adams, and Hamilton were
the recognized leaders of the Federalists, the firm
friends of the Constitution. The success of this
instrument modified the views of the anti-Federalists,
and Madison, of Virginia, its recognized friend when
it was in preparation, joined with others who had
been its friends in opposing the administration,
and soon became recognized leaders of the anti-
Federalists. Jefferson was then on a mission to
France, and not until some years thereafter did he
array himself with those opposed to centralized
power in the nation. He returned in November,
1789, and was called to Washington's Cabinet.

It was a great Cabinet. Thomas Jefferson, of Vir-
ginia, the author of the Declaration of Independence^
was deservedly made Secretary of State, which
is looked upon as the chief office in the gift of the
administration. Alexander Hamilton, of New
York, who had taken part in the battles of White
Plains, Trenton, and Princeton, and in the second



LIVES OF THE PRESIDENTS.



year of the war was made Washington's aide-de-
camp and confidential military secretary, and who
remained with the army till the British surrendered
at Yorktown, where he was at the head of his com-
mand, was placed at the head of the Treasury.

Henry Knox, of Mas-
sachusetts, took a
conspicuous part in
the Battle of Tren-
ton, where he was
wounded, but was no
less active in the suc-
ceeding battles of
Princeton, Brandy-
wine and German-
town. He was com-
mended for his mili-
tary skill and cool,
determined bravery

j

at Yorktown ; when
Congress advanced

C5

him to the rank
of Major-General
and he took pos-
session of New York
when the British
finally evacuated it
in 1783. He shared intimately and constantly in all
the Councils with Washington in the field, and quite
naturally was appointed Secretary of War.

Edmund Randolph, who had been Governor of
Virginia, and a member of the Constitutional Con-
vention, was appointed Attorney-General. Re was




HAMII/TON.



GEORGE WASHINGTON.

advanced to the office of Secretary of State when
Jefferson resigned in 1794.

The first session of Congress, held in New York,
sat for nearly six months. Nearly ail the laws
framed pointed to the organization of the Govern-
ment, and the discussions were general and pro-
tracted. The Federalists carried their measures by
small majorities.

Much of the second session was devoted to the
discussion of the able reports of Hamilton, and their
final adoption did much to build up the credit of the
nation and to promote its industries. He was the
author of the protective system. He recommended
the funding of the war debt, the assumption of the
State war debts by the National Government, the
providing of a system of revenue for the collection
of duties on imports, and an internal excise. His


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