| 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 |
 UPON McKinley's death Theodore Roosevelt, The Vice-President,
became President. He was the youngest of all the Presidents, being
only forty-two when he came into office.
Mr. Roosevelt was in the
mountains with his wife and children when the news that the President
was dying was brought to him. At nine o'clock at night he started
off on a long drive of thirty-five miles to the railway station.
The road was narrow, and steep, and full of mudholes, and the drive
through the darkness was one of danger.
A little after five in the morning the station was reached. Here
a special train was waiting which carried the Vice-President to
Buffalo as fast as might be. But he was too late to see his President
in life. For while he was still on his wild drive through the night,
President McKinley had passed peacefully to his last rest.
Mr. Roosevelt was the youngest of all presidents, and he brought to
the White House a youthful energy and "hustle" such as no President
had before. He had strong opinions to which he never hesitated to
give voice, and perhaps since Lincoln no President had been so much
Perhaps the most interesting thing in Roosevelt's presidency was
the beginning of the Panama Canal.
You remember that when Columbus set forth upon the Sea of Darkness
his idea was to reach the east by sailing
 west. And to this day of
his death he imagined that he had reached India by sailing westward.
But soon men found out the mistake, and then began the search for
the North-West Passages by which they might sail past the great
Continent, and so reach India.
The North-West Passage, however, proved a delusion. The men
turned their attention to the narrow isthmus by which the two vast
continents of North and South America are joined. And soon the idea
of cutting a canal through this narrow barrier began to be talked
But time went on and the Spaniards who held sway over the
isthmus did no more than talk. Then an adventurous Scotsman was
seized with the idea of founding a colony at Darien. He meant to
build a great harbour where all the ships of the world would come.
Merchandise was to be carried across the isthmus by camels, and
soon his colony would be the key of all the commerce of the world.
Such was his golden dream, but it ended in utter failure.
Still the idea grew. Men of many nations began to discuss the
possibility of building the canal. And at length the French got
leave from the Government of Colombia and work on the canal was
begun. But after working for many years the French gave up the
undertaking, which was far more difficult, and had cost far more
money than they had expected.
Meanwhile the Americans had become
much interested in the scheme, and they had begun to think of
cutting a canal through the isthmus at Nicaragua. Then when the
French company went bankrupt they offered to sell all their rights
to the canal to the United States. There was a good deal of discussion
over the matter. For some people thought that the Nicaragua route
would be better. But in the end it was agreed to take over the
canal already begun, and go with it.
Everything was arranged when the Colombian Senate
 refused to sign
the treaty. By this treaty they were to receive ten million dollars,
besides a yearly rent for the land through which the canal ran.
But that sum seemed to them now too small, and they refused to sign
the treaty unless the money to be paid down should be increased to
twenty-five million dollars.
This the United States was unwilling to do. Everything came down
to a standstill, and it seemed as if the Panama scheme would have
to be given up, when suddenly a new turn was given to affairs.
For the people of Panama rose in rebellion against Colombia, and
declared themselves a republic.
The United States at once recognised the new republic, and before
a month had passed a treaty between the United States and the
Republic of Panama was drawn up and signed, and the work on the
great canal was begun.
A good many people, however, were not very pleased at the manner
in which the struggle had been ended. They thought that the United
States ought not to have taken the part of rebels in such haste.
But the President was quite satisfied that he had done the right
thing, and that it would have been base not to help the new republic.
In 1902 Mr. Roosevelt had become president "by accident." If it
had not been for the tragedy of President McKinley's death he would
not have come into power, and the thought grieved him somewhat. So
when he was again elected President he was quite pleased. For now
he felt that he held his great office because the people wanted
him, and not because they could not help having him.
Few Presidents have grown so much in popularity after coming into
office as Mr. Roosevelt. People felt he was a jolly good fellow,
and throughout the length and breadth of the land he was known as
"Who is the head of the Government?" a little girl was asked.
 "Mr. Roosevelt," was the reply.
"Yes, but what is his official title?"
"Teddy," answered the little one.
During this presidency Oklahoma was admitted to the Union as the
forty-sixth state. Oklahoma is an Indian word meaning Redman. It
was part of the Louisiana Purchase, and had been set aside as an
Indian reservation. All the land, however, was not occupied and
as some of it was exceedingly fertile the white people began to
agitate to have it opened to them. So at length the Indians gave up
their claim to part of this territory in return for a sum of money.
This was in 1889 and President Harrison proclaimed that at twelve
o'clock noon on the 22nd of April the land would be opened for
settlement. Long before the day people set out in all directions
to the borders of Oklahoma. On the morning of the 22nd of April at
least twenty thousand people had gathered on the borders. And as
soon as the blowing of a bugle announced that the hour of noon had
struck there was a wild rush over the border.
Before darkness fell
whole towns were staked out. Yet there was not enough land for all
and many had to return home disappointed. The population of Oklahoma
went up with a bound but it was not until eighteen years later, in
September, 1907, that it was admitted to the Union as a state.
In 1909 William H. Taft became president. Mr. Taft had been Governor
of the Philippines, and had shown great tact and firmness in that
post. He and President Roosevelt were friends, and Roosevelt did
all he could to further his election.
During Mr. Taft's presidency the last two states were admitted to
the Union. Ever since the Civil War New Mexico had been seeking
admission as a state, and at one
 time it was proposed to call this
state Lincoln. That suggestion, however, came to nothing, and some
years later it was proposed to admit New Mexico and Arizona as one
state. To this Arizona objected, and at length they were admitted
as separate states, New Mexico on the 6th of January and Arizona
on the 11th of February, 1912. Both these states were made out of
the Mexican Concession and the Gadsden Purchase.
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