| American History Stories, Volume III|
|by Mara L. Pratt|
|Anecdotes from the time Washington became president through the War of 1812, the rise of Andrew Jackson, and the sectional differences leading to the Civil War. Numerous black and white illustrations complement the text. Ages 8-12 |
THE ERA OF GOOD FEELING
Let us see. We have read of how many presidents now?
Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. And
now, after the war had closed, when the country was at
peace again, and both Democrats and Republicans were so
glad over having conquered the English again, that they
were almost willing to be good friends with each other,
there came another president—James Monroe.
 of the quiet, peaceful times, during which Monroe was
president, the years of his administration have been
called the "era of good feeling."
One of the pleasantest things during his administration
was the visit of Lafayette to America. Lafayette was a
young Frenchman who, in the war of the Revolution, had
come over to our assistance in a most brave and noble
way. He was much loved by Washington, and by all
indeed who had known him in those trying days. And
now, an old man of more than sixty years, he came again
to see the country for which he had fought so long ago.
Everybody was glad to see him. There were the old men
and women who had been in the Revolution with him,
happy indeed to sit down and talk over old times with
him. The younger people, too, were hardly less glad;
and so hi journey from city to city, and from town to
town, was one long holiday. The people of every town
turned out on parades, much as did they when Washington
traveled from Mt. Vernon to New York to be made
Everywhere he went, he was met with honor and bursts
 of welcome. And it was well that it should be so. If
American had in her years of success forgotten the
brave Lafayette, who left his country to come to her
aid when she was poor and in trouble, it would have
been a disgrace to us all.
When Lafayette returned home, the United States fitted
out a ship to carry him. This ship they named from a
certain battle of the Revolution in which Lafayette had
I wish I could tell you that this "era of good feeling"
lasted a long, long time; but, alas! I am afraid it
was, as people say, only the calm before the storm; for
even before Monroe's administration was quite over,
there began to be serious disputes and contests upon
the "slavery question."
You see the Southern people had always kept slaves,
ever since that time way back in the early days of the
Colonies when slaves had been brought over in the Dutch
trading vessels, and had been sold to the planters.
Help was needed so much in those days that colonists
eagerly bought these black men from Africa to work
their farms. To be sure, those Dutch traders had no
more right to steal these black men and sell them than
they had to steal Englishmen or Frenchmen, neither had
the colonists any more right to buy them; but the
colonists reasoned like this:
"They are such wild, ignorant creatures, they are
really little better than my cattle. And after a
little while they
 will be far better off here on my plantation, with
plenty to eat and drink and a warm cabin to sleep in,
then they were wandering about in the wilds of Africa."
This sounded reasonable, and no doubt the Southern
people were honest enough and kind enough in it all,
but they forgot that these black men, low and ignorant
as they were, were nevertheless human beings,
—and that is reason enough why no man had any
right to buy and sell them. What would you think now,
children, to hear of men and women and little children
being bought and sold?
As there were no State laws against slavery in those
days, and even in later days, there began to be slaves
here and there in all the colonies, in the North as
well as in the South; but it was not very long before
the States, one by one, began to make laws forbidding
this selling of men and women who chanced to be black
instead of white; until at last no States but the
Southern now held slaves. The Southern States held
that they must have these black people to do
their work for them, because they were so big and
strong, and were used to the hot climate of the
And so this had been going on all these years; but in
the time of Monroe there began to be a strong feeling
that this was wrong, and that something ought to be
done to put a stop to it.
And something was done—a most terrible
something, as very likely your grandpapas and
gramdmammas can tell you; but I will not tell you just
here about it. I want
 you first to hurry on with me over a few more
administrations, and then I will tell you all about the
"something" that was done, which, in the end, freed
these black men and women and their little black boys
When John Quincy Adams took his seat as president, the
United States were twenty-four in number. Quite
 a growth, you see, since the days of the thirteen
little States that made Washington their President.
It was during this administration that John Adams and
Thomas Jefferson dies. I have already told you that
these two men, these life-long friends, died upon the
It is said that a Fourth of July celebration was being
held in the village where Mr. Adams lived; and he had
sent to it a toast: "Independence forever." As he lay
dying, at sunset time, those who watched by his bed
could hear the distant shouting at the village, when
the people heard the old man's last message.
One more event in this administration we must speak of,
and then we will pass on to the administration of the
plucky General Jackson, the man who made it so hot for
the English at New Orleans during the war of 1812. The
first railroad was laid during this
administration—a little road only three miles
long, leading from the granite quarries at Quincy,
Mass., to the wharves. These cars were drawn by
horses, and I fancy it was a funny enough looking train
of cars. It was not until two years later that an
 engine was used. On the previous page is a picture of
the first train of cars drawn by a real engine.
THE FIRST TRAIN OF CARS.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics