| This Country of Ours|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Stories from the history of the United States beginning with a full account of exploration and settlement and ending with the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. The 99 chapters are grouped under 7 headings: Stories of Explorers and Pioneers, Stories of Virginia, Stories of New England, Stories of the Middle and Southern Colonies, Stories of the French in America, Stories of the Struggle for Liberty, and Stories of the United States under the Constitution. Ages 10-14 |
JEFFERSON—HOW THE TERRITORY OF THE UNITED STATES WAS DOUBLED
 ADAMS was an honest and patriotic man, but he never won the love
of the people as Washington had done. And when in 1801 his term of
office came to an end he went back to his country home. There he
spent the rest of his life as a simple citizen.
Thomas Jefferson was the next President—the first to be inaugurated
in the new capital. He had been Vice-President with Adams, and was
already well known in politics. It was he who wrote the Declaration
of Independence, and he was in every way one of the greatest statesmen
of his time. He was a lanky, sweet-tempered, sandy coloured man.
He wore badly fitting clothes, and hated ceremony of all kinds. He
was quite determined not to have any fuss over his inauguration, so
dressed as plainly as possible, he rode to the Capitol by himself,
tied his horse to the palings and walked into the Senate Chamber
alone, just like any ordinary man.
This lack of ceremony he kept up throughout all the time he was
President. Indeed he sometimes overdid it and offended people. Once
the British Minister was to be presented to him and went dressed
in his grandest uniform. But to his disgust he found Jefferson in
the very shabbiest of clothes, and slippers down at the heel. So the
good gentleman went away feeling that the President of the United
States had meant to insult not merely himself but the King he
 It was while Jefferson was President that Ohio joined the
Union as the seventeenth state. For a long time there had been
a few squatters on the land. But it was only after the Revolution
that it really began to be inhabited by white men.
In 1788 about fifty men led by Rufus Putnam, "the Father of Ohio,"
settled there. They founded a town and called it Marietta in honour
of Maria Antoinette, the French Queen. Others followed, and soon
villages were sprinkled all along the north bank of the Ohio River.
Then some years later Moses Cleaveland founded the town of Cleveland
on the shores of Lake Erie. But all along the banks of the Ohio
Indians lived. And they would not let the white men settle on their
land without protest. So the new settlers were constantly harassed
and in danger of their lives, and many murders were committed.
At length it was decided that this must cease. And as the Indians
would listen to no argument General St. Clair with an army of eighteen
hundred men marched against them. He did not know the country, and
he had no guide. Late one evening in November he encamped in the
woods. At dawn the next day he was awakened by the blood-curdling
cry of the Indians. The men sprang to arms, but in the night the
Indians had completely surrounded them, and the fight was hopeless.
For four hours the slaughter lasted; then the white men fled,
leaving half their number dead upon the field.
It was one of the worst defeats white men ever suffered at the hands
of the Indians. The whole countryside was filled with the horror
and the Redmen exulted in their victory. The President tried to
reason with them, but they would not listen. The only thing that
would satisfy them was that the white men should withdraw beyond
This the white men refused to do, and they sent another large force
against the Indians. This time the force was
 under the command of
General Wayne. In a great battle he utterly defeated the Indians.
Afterwards he held a grand council with them. And they, knowing
themselves defeated, swore peace forevermore with the white men,
and acknowledged their right to the land beyond the Ohio.
This was the first great council that the Indians had ever held with
the "thirteen fires" of the United States. They kept their treaty
faithfully, and not one of the chiefs who swore peace to General
Wayne ever again lifted the war hatchet against the Pale-faces.
And now that peace with the Indians was secure, many settlers flocked
into the country, and in 1803 Ohio was received into the Union as
the seventeenth state.
But the most interesting and important thing which happened during
Jefferson's time of office was the Louisiana Purchase. By
this a vast territory was added to the United States.
You remember that at the Peace of Paris after the British had
conquered Canada the French gave up to Spain all their claims to
the great tract of land beyond the Mississippi called Louisiana.
When France gave up that vast territory to Spain she was weak. But
now again she was strong—far stronger than Spain—for the great
soldier Napoleon Bonaparte had risen to power. He now looked with
longing eyes on the lost province of Louisiana, and by a secret
treaty he forced the King of Spain to give back Louisiana to France.
As soon as this treaty was made known there was great excitement
in the United States. For if France planted colonies all along the
Mississippi the Americans would be shut out from the West, they
might even be shut off from the Mississippi, and unable to use it
for trade. And to the states bordering upon it this would have been
a great misfortune. For in days when there were few roads, and no
 railways, the Mississippi was the only trade route for the Western
Having weighed these matters seriously Jefferson determined if
possible to buy new Orleans from the French, and thus make sure of
a passage up and down the great river. And he sent James Monroe to
Paris to arrange this.
A few months earlier nothing would have induced Napoleon to sell
any part of Louisiana, for he dreamed of again founding a New France
across the Atlantic. But now war threatened with Britain. He did
not love the United States, but he hated Britain. He would rather,
he thought, crush Britain than found a New France. To crush Britain,
however, he must have money, and the great idea came to him that he
could make money out of Louisiana by selling it to the Americans.
So he offered it to them for twenty million dollars.
The Americans, however, would not pay so much, and at length after
some bargaining the price of fifteen million dollars was agreed
upon, and the whole of Louisiana passed to the American Government,
and the territory of the United States was made larger by more than
a million square miles.
"We may live long," said Livingston, who with Monroe had carried the
business through, "we may live long, but this is the noblest work
of our lives. It will change vast solitudes into smiling country."
And indeed, after the Revolution, and the great Civil War which
was to come later, the Louisiana Purchase is the greatest event in
As to Napoleon, he was well pleased with his bargain. For besides
getting money to help him in his wars he believed that he had made
the United States powerful enough to fight and conquer Britain.
And as he hated Britain the idea pleased him. "This increase of
territory," he said, "assures the power of the United States for
all time. And
 I have given England a rival which sooner or later
will abase her pride."
As a matter of fact, however, Napoleon had really no right to sell
Louisiana. For in his treaty with Spain he had promised not to yield
it to any foreign government. And when the Spaniards knew what he
had done they were very angry. But Napoleon did not care; he did
as he liked.
The flag of Spain had been hauled down, and the flag of France run
up with great ceremony. But not for long did the French flag float
over New Orleans. In less than three weeks it was hauled down and
with firing of cannon and ringing of bells the Stars and Stripes
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