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This Country of Ours by  H. E. Marshall


 

 

TYLER—FLORIDA BECOMES A STATE

[481] JOHN TYLER now became President. At first there was some doubt as to what he should be called. Adams, the ex-President, said he should be called "Vice-President acting as President." But that was much too long. Someone else suggested "Regent," but that smacked too much of royalty. But the people did not worry about it; they just called him President, and so the matter settled itself.

One important matter during Tyler's presidency was the settling of the boundary between British America and Maine. The uncertainty of where the border between the two countries really was had caused a good deal of friction, the British accusing the Americans and the Americans accusing the British of encroaching on their territory. Many attempts had been made to settle it, but they had all failed. And both sides had become so angry over it that it was very nearly a question of war.

But now at last the question was thrashed out between Daniel Webster, the great orator acting for the United States, and Lord Ashburton acting for Britain. Lord Ashburton came out to Washington. The business was carried through in a friendly fashion and settled satisfactorily.

The twenty-seventh state was admitted to the Union during Tyler's time of office. This was Florida. Since Spain had given up Florida to the United States there had been a good deal of unrest among the Indians. And at last the settlers decided that it would be better to send them out of the country altogether.

[482] So the settlers made a treaty with the Indians by which the Indians agreed to accept lands in the West instead of their Florida lands. But when the time came for them to go they refused to move, and a war which lasted seven years was begun.

It was a terrible war and thousands of lives were lost on either side, for the Indians were led by a brave and wily chief named Osceola. But at length they were defeated. They were then removed to western lands as had been agreed; only about three hundred were allowed to remain, and these were obliged to keep to the extreme south of the province.

The war ended soon after Tyler became President. Then land was offered free to settlers who would promise to remain at least five years. Many were glad to get land on such easy terms, and soon the country which had been a refuge for escaped slaves and a haunt for desperadoes became the home of orderly people.

In a very short time these new settlers wished to join the Union, but at first they could not agree as to whether Florida should be made into one or two states. Finally, however, it was decided that it should be one, and in March, 1845, it was admitted to the Union as a slave state.


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