| 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 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
 BEFORE the middle of the eighteenth century, thirteen
colonies, all owing allegiance to England, were scattered
along the Atlantic coast of North America. The settlers
were Old World folks tempted across the seas either by
fabled wealth, love of adventure, or an unconquerable
desire to worship God as they saw fit.
There was little temptation to journey far from home.
Great lumbering coaches, the saddled back of a horse, or
small sailing boats offered the only means of travel. So
for the most part the colonist was a stay-at-home.
Then came the cruel French and Indian War. A
common danger threatened the thirteen colonies. For the
first time the colonies united to fight a common foe. And
But even while they still rejoiced in their victory
England's king tried to tax the colonists unjustly. The
colonists resisted. The king's grasp tightened, and Old
England seemed about to crush her American children.
Then from colony after colony rose the cry for freedom.
The struggle was long and bitter. At last the victory was
won. The power of England, mighty England was broken.
Her king had lost his grasp on his American colonies.
And by their united courage, perseverance and pluck
these colonies had gained their freedom and the world a
new nation—the United States of America.
From the time the thirteen separate English colonies
 became the United States of America our country has
grown and prospered. It is true we have fought a civil
war in which the very unity of the Nation itself was at
stake. But, terrible as it was, that very war established
our union as "one and inseparable," and removed from us
the stigma of being a slave-holding nation.
From the eastern shore of our land pioneers early
began to work their way west. At first they rode on
horseback, gun on shoulder, beside the lumbering canvas
covered wagons that held their families and household
goods. Some sought rich land for farming, others went in
search of gold. But west, ever west they have pushed
until those wildernesses, where herded the buffalo of old,
have been turned into flourishing cities or widespread
fields for the vast grain crops of America.
To-day railroads cross our country from the Atlantic
to the Pacific. The old-time farming tools are being laid
aside and great steam-driven machines plow the ground,
sow the seeds and reap the harvests. Coal, silver, gold,
and copper are mined. Factories of every sort are at
work throughout the land. American-made locomotives,
American steel bridges, American automobiles, sewing
machines, typewriters, and many other products of
American labor are known the whole world over. To-day
America leads the nations of the world in the magnitude
of her foreign trade.
Nor are we content with all this. Through
annexation, purchase, and conquest we are still extending our
dominion. Alaska, the Philippines, Porto Rico, and
Hawaii have all become ours. Then, too, we have bought
from the Republic of Panama the right to open a canal
across that isthmus that our great merchant vessels and
splendid battleships may pass easily and quickly from our
eastern to our western coasts.
 Growth and improvement have been the history of our
land since the days of the Nation's birth. On that flag
which floated over the plucky little states which won our
independence were thirteen stars and thirteen stripes.
To-day the American flag shows nearly fifty stars, each
one representing a state in our union. The stripes still
number thirteen. The number of our states may increase
and our Nation's flag proudly boast the fact. But with
even greater pride does it constantly proclaim that, do
what they will, the Americans to come can never make
to America as great a gift as did those men of the thirteen
original states. We rejoice in America's greatness, her
wide possessions, her immense achievements, but our
glory, our great and lasting glory, is first and always
And America's freedom does not mean merely our
independence of England's king. It means much more.
It means that every citizen of our land, rich or poor, has a
voice in the government of America; has a right to protest
against oppression; has a claim to justice for himself or
for his neighbor; has a chance to make of himself the best
of which he is capable.
Prizing this freedom and glorying in it as we do,
America has done a deed unprecedented in the history of
the world. She has lent her strength to help the Cubans
throw off the rule of a tyrannical power. She has then
taught that people the lesson of self-government and left
them free to rule their land.
In the harbor of New York stands a towering statue
of Liberty holding high in her hand a flaming torch. And
every night its light shines far out to sea, a beacon to all
incoming ships, a welcoming guide to the land
of the free—America.
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