| Builders of Our Country: Book II|
|by Gertrude van Duyn Southworth|
| A lively account of American history told through 31 biographies, beginning with Patrick Henry at the start of the Revolution and ending with Andrew Carnegie at the close of the 19th century. The biographies are so chosen as to acquaint the reader with the chief personages and events in our national life, by including many vivid pictures of each. Ages 10-12 |
THE STAMP ACT
 VIRGINIA was the first colony to declare her opposition
to the Stamp Act after it became a law. Patrick
Henry's resolutions against it were printed and scattered
broadcast throughout the country. Their sentiments
were read with satisfaction from north to south. But
nowhere did they find a stronger echo than in the hearts of
the Massachusetts colonists.
Here, even before the Stamp Act had been passed,
these stanch New Englanders had begun to voice their
opinions of old England's doings. No sooner had the
mere rumor that such a law might be passed reached
America than Samuel Adams made known his views on
This Samuel Adams was a Harvard graduate, a
thinker, a lover of his country. For several years he had
served in one office after another, until now, at the age of
forty-two, he had come to be as well versed in colonial
needs and conditions as any man in Massachusetts.
There was not the slightest question in his mind
regarding this proposed Stamp Act. Not only through the
common rights of all Englishmen, but also by their charter,
the Massachusetts colonists could claim a voice as to the
taxes they were to pay. England could not tax her
colonies without the consent of their representatives.
 The American colonies had no representatives in
Parliament. Therefore there was but one conclusion: England
had no right to pass this law.
So Samuel Adams believed, and so he stoutly declared.
And others were so convinced that he was right that a
protest based on his views was sent to England, stating
how Massachusetts felt.
However, as we have seen, the King and his
Parliament passed the Stamp Act and notified the American
colonies that it would go into effect on November 1, 1765.
When that day dawned in America, the sun shone on
a state of affairs which King George had not foreseen.
Flags waved at half mast, shops were closed, and business
was at a standstill. The colonists bad agreed that, come
what might, they would not buy the stamps. Already
boxes of them had been seized, and burned or thrown into
the sea. And already the men chosen to sell the hated
stamps bad been pointedly warned not to attempt to
carry out their orders.
How was it all to turn out? Surely the time had come
for stern measures; and, thanks to Samuel Adams, stern
measures were adopted throughout the colonies.
Now it was that his non-importation plan was put into
practice. This meant that the American colonists
refused to buy goods from England as long as the Stamp
Act remained a law. "We will eat nothing; drink nothing,
wear nothing coming from England, until this detested
law is repealed," they declared.
Such a course was hard on the English merchants.
Their large orders from America were canceled, and their
goods left on their hands. So they, too, pleaded against
the Stamp Act.
Even stubborn George III could see at last that a
mistake had been made, and that he and his Parliament
 must give in to the colonists. But he would do it in his
own way. The Stamp Act was repealed; but, with the
repeal, word was sent to America that England declared
her right to bind her colonies in all cases whatsoever.
The repeal was received with joy, while the
declaration passed unnoticed. Once more flags floated free from
the top of mast, tower, and steeple. Bonfires blazed, bells
rang, and men shouted from sheer happiness.
HANDBILL ANNOUNCING THE REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT.
But their joy was short-lived. The very next year they
came to understand the meaning of England's declaration
of her right to bind her colonies. Again the mother
country tried to tax them. This time a duty was placed
on glass, paper, paints, and tea.
Again the colonists refused to be taxed without their
consent. And once more English merchant vessels were
obliged to sail home with the same cargoes they had
brought. The colonists would buy nothing from England.
Bitter indeed was their opposition. Boston especially
won the royal displeasure. Her citizens were so hostile
to England's demands that the Massachusetts governor
finally called for British troops to back him in the doing
of his duty.
THE BOSTON MASSACRE
ONE day in September, 1765, the troops arrived.
There were two regiments. They landed with great pomp
and marched to Boston Common. The Governor insisted
upon their being quartered in the center of the town, for
his better protection. Naturally the colonists resented
such treatment, but what could they do? There the
soldiers were, and there they stayed.
To begin with, all went well. But gradually the
soldiers grew tired of their quiet life in Boston, and
gradu-  ally the Boston people came to hate the very sight of these
men sent to force them to obedience.
At last the smoldering fire flamed up. It seems that
one wintry night in March, 1770, a boy in the street yelled
insults at a sentry on duty, until the redcoat, angry
beyond control, struck the boy. Slight as was this
offense, it was enough. A crowd gathered; the boy pointed
out the sentry, and a rush was made at him.
"Help! Corporal of the Guard, help!" shouted the sentry.
Immediately the guardhouse gate swung open, and an
officer and eight soldiers joined the sentry. Forming
themselves in line, the soldiers raised their loaded muskets
ready to fire, if necessary.
"Fire if you dare, lobsters, bloody backs! Fire if you
dare, cowards!" yelled the crowd.
 And fire they did. No one knows whether the officer
in charge really gave the signal, or whether his
soldiers merely thought he did. The result was the
same. A volley rent the air, and three men lay dead on
THE BOSTON MASSACRE.
The town was wild. No longer should these redcoats
be allowed in Boston!
Next day a great meeting was held. The people
flocked from far and near. As usual Samuel Adams was
there to guide the colonists and urge them to defend their
rights. In stirring terms he spoke to them of the happenings
of the night before—the Boston Massacre. When
he had finished, he was appointed one of a committee to
visit Acting-Governor Hutchinson and demand that the
British troops be removed.
ADAMS BEFORE THE GOVERNOR.
"I have no authority to remove the troops," replied
Hutchinson. This was no answer to carry back to an
aroused people. The committee was not satisfied. So
it was suggested that one of the regiments might be
It had been agreed that the committee should report,
the result of their errand at three in the afternoon. By
that time the meeting had grown so large that the
building was packed and the crowd overflowed into the street.
As the committee made its way through the people, Samuel
Adams whispered to right and left, "Both regiments or
none. Both regiments or none."
The hint was taken. On hearing the Governor's reply
that one regiment should go, a shout of "Both or none!"
resounded through the hall.
Back to the Governor went the committee. "If you
have the power to remove one regiment, you have the
power to remove both....The voice of ten thousand
freemen demands that both regiments be forthwith
re-  moved. Their voice must be respected, their demands
obeyed. Fail not then, at, your peril."
Thus spoke Samuel Adams. And, when in the gathering
darkness, the committee for the last time returned to
the meeting, they carried with them the Governor's
word of honor that both regiments should leave Boston
at once. And leave Boston they did.
THE BOSTON TEA PARTY
 SOON the colonists gained another short step in their
struggle against oppression. King George agreed to take
off the duty on glass, paper, and paints. The one little
tax on tea, he positively would not remove; he would
assert his right to levy duties. But a tax was a tax; and,
were it small or large, the colonists would not pay it.
Now the Boston Massacre concerned Massachusetts
alone. But the tax on tea concerned the whole thirteen
colonies. If they were to work together against this
common evil, it followed that they must be kept in touch with
To make this possible, Samuel Adams originated the
idea of Committees of Correspondence. The plan was a
good one. Soon each colony had appointed a committee
whose business it was to send out to the twelve other
colonies letters telling of the
doings at home, so that every
colony slight know the exact
condition of the whole country.
In 1773 word came that
several ships laden with tea were
headed for America. "We will
not buy it," agreed the
colonists everywhere. And they
kept their word.
Late in November the first
of the ships sent to Boston
entered the harbor. The patriots
insisted that the tea should not be landed, and placed a guard
to watch the ship. The Governor insisted that it should be
landed, and would not permit the ship's captain to sail out
of the harbor. Thus the matter stood for nineteen days.
 Now there was a law that if a ship lying in the harbor
was not unloaded by its owner within twenty days, the
Custom House officers had the right to unload the cargo.
This must not happen. So on the ship's nineteenth day
in port the citizens were called together to determine
what was to be done. By this time two other tea ships
had arrived. Once more Samuel Adams was on hand with
a clearly thought-out course of action.
The owner of the first ship was called, and he agreed
to clear the harbor if only the Governor would give him the
necessary permit. "Then go and ask him for it," directed
It was December weather, cold and bleak; nevertheless
the poor distressed merchant was obliged to make
his way to Milton Hill where stood the Governor's country house.
The short winter day was over when he returned, but
the patriots were still waiting, crowded in the gloomy
meeting house, which was lighted by only a candle here
"What news?" was anxiously asked, as the ship owner
"The Governor refuses to give a pass," came the answer.
"This meeting can do nothing more to save the
country," said Samuel Adams, rising.
These words were a signal given by the recognized
leader. As if by magic, an Indian war whoop rent the air;
and a band of men dressed as Indian warriors, in paint
and feathers, appeared at the door for a moment. Then
away they went.
With a mighty cheer the crowd followed at their heels.
Down the street they dashed, headed for the tea ships.
Once on board it was quick work to rip open three hundred
 and forty-two chests of tea and pour their contents into
the sea. Their task finished, the Indians disappeared.
But as they went, on many of their faces the watching
crowd recognized the familiar smile of old friends.
THE "BOSTON TEA PARTY".
From the days of the first rumor of the Stamp Act to
this December night,—nine anxious years,—Samuel Adams
had led the people of Massachusetts. Always upholding
colonial rights; always ready with helpful suggestions;
always alive to the best interests, not only of his colony,
but of the whole country, he richly deserved his title of
"The Father of the Revolution."
LEXINGTON AND CONCORD
 WHEN King George heard of the Boston Tea Party
his anger knew no bounds. This rebellious colony should
be punished, and that right soundly.
The Boston port was closed to all trade until the
destroyed tea should be paid for. And General Gage,
with several regiments, was sent to govern the people of
"We are outraged," declared the colonists. "Such
things are not to be endured."
So they organized a new government quite
independent of General Gage, with John Hancock and Samuel
Adams at its head.
Nor was this all. Massachusetts decided to have an
army of her own to defend her rights. "Minute men,"
the soldiers were called, because they agreed to be ready
to fight at a minute's
were collected, and
stored in Concord.
Before long, news
of this hiding place
reached General Gage. He determined to send a secret
expedition to take the stores. Nothing seemed easier.
Moreover, he knew that John Hancock and Samuel Adams
were visiting in a town called Lexington. Why not kill
 two birds with one stone and direct his soldiers to march
to Concord by way of Lexington? Thus they could seize
not only the soldiers' arms, but also their rebel leaders.
The plan seemed perfect. So at dead of night on
April 18, 1775, General Gage ordered nearly eight hundred
redcoats to slip quietly out of Boston and march through
the darkness to Lexington. The start was made.
THE FIRST BATTLEGROUNDS OF THE REVOLUTION.
However, there was one thing General Gage did not
count upon. He did not know that Paul Revere had
already suspected this move, and had stationed a
comrade in the steeple of the old North Church to signal
the advance of the British. He did not know that Paul
Revere himself was even now waiting, bridle in hand, for
that signal to tell him to carry a warning to Lexington.
Suddenly two lights flashed out from the old North
steeple. In an instant Paul Revere was in the saddle and
away. His was a wild night ride. As his horse's hoofs
clattered sharply in the stillness, men threw open their
windows and were greeted with the cry, "To arms! To
arms! The regulars are coming!"
On went the daring rider, until, reaching the house in
Lexington, where Hancock and Adams were staying, he
warned them of their danger and led them to safety.
Just before daybreak of the 19th the redcoats appeared
in Lexington and marched to the village green. Here they
found themselves face to face with a band of minute men.
"Disperse, ye rebels!" shouted the British commander.
"Stand your ground!" urged the patriot leader. No
Then in answer to their commander's order the regulars
opened fire. Seven Americans fell. It would have been
folly for the handful of minute men to have engaged in
battle with so many regulars; so, firing an answering
volley, they retreated.
THE BATTLE ON THE VILLAGE GREEN OF LEXINGTON.
 Then on to Concord marched the King's troops. Here
too they came too late. The patriots had already carried
off most of their military stores. Two cannon had been
left behind. These the British spiked.
By this time four hundred minute men had gathered
and were marching against the regulars. At Concord
Bridge the two forces met. And here it was that the
Americans "fired the shot heard round the world."
Several redcoats fell, and soon the British soldiers
gave up the bridge and began to march toward Boston.
But what a march! True to their name the minute
men from all about had hurried to their duty. And from
behind each wall and tree crouching figures now fired upon
the retreating regulars.
All the way the minute men were at their heels
"They fairly seemed to drop from the clouds."
 To go on was desperate. To stop was certain death.
So, weak with hunger and thirst, the King's boasted troops
pushed on through the six miles between Concord and
Lexington, under an almost constant fire. Nearly three
hundred English soldiers fell dead or dying on the road.
At Lexington reinforcements joined them; and after a short
rest, they went on to Boston.
IT was certain now
that war had begun,
and the Americans
went into it heart
and soul. Collecting
a goodly army,
they formed a semicircle
Boston on its land
side and laid siege
to the town.
There was a hill overlooking
Boston known as Bunker
Hill, and in June the Americans
decided to fortify it.
One night a detachment made
its way up the side of the
hill, and, working with a
will, had dug trenches and
thrown up breastworks by
With the daylight, the finished fortifications dawned
on General Gage's astonished sight. This would never
do! From Bunker Hill the Americans could fire into his
 vary camp. His only course was to drive them away at once.
That same day he sent a force of three thousand
soldiers against Bunker Hill. Up the hill they marched.
Fifteen hundred Americans waited in the trenches. Their
supply of powder was pitifully small, but their courage
was of the finest. "Don't fire till you see the whites of their
eyes," ordered the colonial officer in charge.
On came the British troops, firing as they came. All
at once a volley thundered from the breastworks. The
front rank fell. There was a second's pause, and then the
Rallying their men, the British officers urged them to a
second attack. The result was the same. Waiting until
they came within thirty yards, the Americans again fired
a deadly charge; and again the English troops fell back.
But now the Americans' powder was spent. So when
a third time the enemy advanced, there was no volley to
check them. Still fighting, however—although clubs, the
butt ends of their muskets, and stones were their only
weapons-the Americans were at last driven from their
THE LAST DEFENSE BEHIND THE BREASTWORKS OF BUNKER HILL.
The battle of Bunker Hill resulted in victory for the
English and defeat for the Americans. The effect,
however, was just what might have been expected had the
reverse been true. England judged General Gage at fault
in his methods and recalled him in disgrace. To the
colonists one point stood out clear and bright above all
others. Their colonial army had twice forced British
regulars to retreat. What had been done could be done
again. And so with renewed courage and stronger faith
in their final victory, the whole country now bent every
nerve toward defending their rights—the rights of the
thirteen American colonies.
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