Lives of the Presidents Told in Words of One Syllable
by Jean S. Remy
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It was a poor log-house in Har-din Coun-ty, Ken-tuck-y, to which he took his bride; and yet in this home so mean and small, was born, on Feb-ru-a-ry 12th, 1809, the boy who was to be pres-i-dent of this great land. Few boys and girls know what it is to be as poor as this lit-tle boy was, or to lead as hard and sad a life. His clothes were thin and poor, his shoes, when he had an-y, were oft-en full of holes; he did not al-ways have as much as he would like to eat, and in the long, hard win-ters he was oft-en ver-y cold. It was not an eas-y life, and it was full of hard work, for peo-ple in this rough place could not read and there were no schools; but when he was still a young boy his folks moved to In-di-an-a, and though there was more work to be done, life was not quite so sad, for he and his sis-ter Nan-cy now had a play-mate, their cous-in, Den-nis Hanks, who was full of life and fun. "Abe," as folks called him, was but eight years old when his par-ents went out into the West to live, but he was so strong that he could help chop down the trees of which the new home was made; then, too, he learned how to shoot the game and wild fowl in the big woods, and so could bring good things in-to the house to eat. But a dark time came in his life soon, for the kind, good moth-er took sick and died. Her death was a great loss to "Abe," and he felt much grief that there was no one to say a pray-er at her grave; so he wrote to the min-is-ter in the old home in Ken-tuck-y, and asked him if he would not come there and bless his moth-er's grave. This good man came as soon as he could, but it was a long while af-ter her death be-fore "Abe" had his wish. That win-ter was long and hard for the poor lit-tle boy and girl with no moth-er to see that they were warm, or that they had good food to eat; but in the fall of 1819, the fa-ther brought home a new wife, Mrs. Sal-ly John-son and now at last a ray of bright light came to stay with "Abe" and Nan-cy. The new moth-er was a good, kind wo-man, and was quite rich for those days. She soon had the home bright and neat; she put good warm clothes on "Abe" and Nan-cy; saw that they had food to eat and at once sent them to school.

"Abe" was now e-lev-en years old, tall and big, and of more strength than most boys of his age. His fa-ther hired him out for all sorts of work; to pitch hay, to chop wood, to help on the farm; no work was too hard for this big, strong boy; but, with all this work, he kept at his books too. Late at night, while all the rest slept, he would stud-y his books; and as books were few he read them ma-ny times o-ver; one of the books he loved the most was the "Life of Wash-ing-ton."

He was a young man, for it was in March, 1828, that a chance came to him to see more of life; he was hired to take a boat filled with skins down the Mis-sis-sip-pi Riv-er to New Or-le-ans; he did this work well, and when he came back was paid a good price for it. He was just of age when his folks went to Il-li-nois to live; and now he helped build a home, cleared a big field in which it stood, split rails to fence it in, and then went off to make his own way in life.

The first thing he did was to help build a flat-boat and then take it down to New Or-le-ans; when he came back the man who owned the boat gave him a place in his store at New Sa-lem; and now he had a good chance to get books to read; and you may be sure he was glad of this. He was soon known in the place as a bright young man, and one who would not lie, or steal, or do an-y mean thing; he was full of fun and jokes, and the folks in the town were all fond of him; he was called "Hon-est Abe." When the "Black Hawk War" broke out he went at the head of a small band of men to the seat of war; he was in no great fight, but learned much of war and how to rule the rough men who were in his care.

When he came home he was felt to be one of the first men in the town, and in 1834 he took a high place in the state. He now took up the stud-y of law, and was soon in ac-tive prac-tise; he had a good, kind heart, and did much good to those who were too poor to pay him. In 1846 he was sent to Con-gress; this time he was there but one year; then came back to Spring-field, Il-li-nois, and built up a fine law prac-tise. His name was now known through all this great land; and in the slave strife he was al-ways on the side of the slaves. He spoke so oft-en for the slaves that in 1860, the South said if he was put up for pres-i-dent, by the North and West, they would leave the Union. But he was just the man to fill this high office at this time; and as he had the most votes he took the of-fice of Pres-i-dent in 1861. There is a sto-ry told of these days, which shows that Lin-coln, when a great man, had no shame for the days when he was poor. Old John Hanks, who had helped him build that rail fence so long a-go, came to Il-li-nois with two of those rails; and on them was a big card which told where they came from, and who split them. Lin-coln was just a-bout to make a speech to a big crowd; and when he saw these rails he said that he had split them when a boy, but thought he could do bet-ter now. Then shouts and cheers went up from the crowd, you may be sure; and from that time Lin-coln was known in the race for pres-i-dent as "The Rail Split-ter."

When he left his home to go to Wash-ing-ton, a great crowd came to see him off, but he was so sad he could not say much to them. There were plots to kill him at this time, and he knew it; but he gave no thought to his own life, and went straight to his post of du-ty as Pres-i-dent. It was with a sad heart that he saw this great land torn with war; and he would have been glad to keep peace, but this he could not do. When the South fired at the flag of the Un-ion at Fort Sum-ter, a cry went up through the whole land. The South fought for what it called "States Rights;" the right of each state to rule in its own way; but this Lin-coln would not have. He cared more for the Un-ion than he did for the slaves; for, though he thought all men should be free, he said, if he could save the Un-ion, he did not care if not one slave was made free; he had no wish to keep the South from its rights; but, at last, he felt it wise to send out a bill, which said that all the slaves should be free, and have the same rights as white men. This land was in no state for war; much had to be done; clothes and food got for the troops; and arms as well had to be made or bought at once. The first great fight was at Bull Run in Vir-gin-i-a; and the loss of life on both sides was great; the North lost from the first; men who had nev-er been in a fight be-fore went mad with fear and ran for their lives. But at the fight at Get-tys-burg the men of the North were brave and fought with such skill that the great fight was won by the North.

Grant was put at the head of the troops who went down to free Mis-sis-sip-pi; and it was not long be-fore he placed the Stars and Stripes over this fair state. The South made a brave fight, for what it thought was right and just; but as the war went on, the troops of the South were in a bad state; they could get no food, no clothes, and so ma-ny men had been shot that in the last years of the war young boys had to help fill up the ranks. Now came Sher-man's march to the sea, and he took Sa-van-nah and all its guns and stores. This was a great blow, and now one by one the sea-ports of the South fell in-to the hands of the North. At last Gen-er-al Lee, a great and good man of the South, sent word to Grant that he would come to terms and make peace. Grant was kind at this hard time; he let Lee keep his sword, and said that the men might keep all their hors-es. It was in A-pril, 1865, that peace came to our great land; and the North went mad with joys; bells pealed, and fires blazed in the streets; flags were raised and guns were fired; but in the South there was no joy; on-ly great grief.

From the grief of the South a great crime sprang; on the night of A-pril 14th, as Lin-coln sat in a box at the the-a-tre watch-ing a play he was shot by a man from the South named Wilkes Booth. When he had shot Lin-coln, this man sprang on the stage and tried to run from the place; he fell and broke his leg; but in this state he got to the door, where he jumped on his horse and fled for his life. He was found at last in a barn, and made such a brave fight for his life that the barn had to be set on fire be-fore he could be caught; e-ven then he would not come out and give him-self up; but fought till he was shot down where he stood.

Lin-coln had been shot in the back of his head, and could not move or speak;—men took him with care to a house near by, but there was no help for him; and in the ear-ly morn of the next day a great life came to a sad end. The whole land, the South as well as the North, wept at his death; for no sane man felt that Booth's deed was wise or just; and to this day the name of A-bra-ham Lin-coln, the "Sav-iour of his Coun-try," is held dear by North and South.


An-drew John-son's life as a boy was quite as hard as that of lit-tle "Abe" Lin-coln. He was born in Ra-leigh, North Car-o-li-na, on De-cem-ber 29th, 1808, in a small log cab-in; and near his home were the big farms of the rich men of the South, on which lived in more ease than he the slaves, who looked down on his fa-ther and mo-ther as "poor white trash."

His fa-ther died when An-drew was but four years old; he must have been a brave man, for he lost his life try-ing to save a man from drown-ing. Lit-tle An-drew was too poor to go to school; he had to try and earn mon-ey, when he was but ten years old; so he was sent to a tail-or to learn to make clothes; here, for five years he worked hard; and then he heard a man read; and for the first time it came to his mind that he could learn to do this; he got the men in the shop to teach him his "A, B, C;" and he was so quick to learn that soon he could read a lit-tle; but it was not till he was wed to a bright young girl that he learned a great deal of books; this was when he was eight-een, and he had gone to Green-ville, Ten-nes-see, to set up in life for him-self. These young folks were both poor, but both bright; and the wife was a great help to John-son all through his life. He rose fast in his new home; we see him, from the first, take the part of the poor; and he was soon put in high of-fice in the town; it was not long ere he rose to a high place in the state, and, in 1843, we see the poor lit-tle tail-or boy of 1826 in the halls of Con-gress, stand-ing up for the rights of the class in which he was born. In 1846 he took the seat of John Quin-cy Ad-ams, who was too sick to hold it; does it not seem strange that two men who had lived as boys so un-like should rise to just the same place? For ten years he was in Wash-ing-ton, where he helped make the laws of the land; then in 1853, he was made gov-ern-or of Ten-nes-see. When the Civ-il War broke out, he took sides with the North, though he was born in the South and lived there; and when Lin-coln was made pres-i-dent he took the next place as vice-pres-i-dent.

On Lin-coln's death, he took the pres-i-dent's chair. The whole land was now up-set; in the South the white men had no work; and the slaves did not know how to care for them-selves. In the North there was strife as to the terms on which the South should come back in-to the Un-ion; and on ma-ny things John-son and his Con-gress did not think the same; so there was strife be-tween them. It came to its height in 1868, when the Sen-ate tried John-son for "high crimes and mis-de-mean-ors;" this means that Con-gress thought the pres-i-dent did not act for the good of the land, and should be put out of of-fice; but the men who tried him did not all think the same; and most of them said he should keep his place.

So he was in the chair for four years, and then went home to E-liz-a-beth-town, Ten-nes-see, where he lived till his death on Ju-ly 29th, 1875.


The boy who was to be first a great gen-er-al in the ar-my, and then Pres-i-dent of the U-nit-ed States, was born at Point Pleas-ant, O-hi-o, A-pril 27th, 1822. As a boy he did not care for books, but was fond of sports and games, and had a great love for horses; he was but eight years old when he put a young colt to a sled, and hauled sticks and logs from the woods to his home; and he was but twelve when he made a trade of a horse he had for a young colt which had not been used much; on his way home a dog sprang at the colt, which, at once, mad with fear, tried to run a-way; the boy held fast to his reins, and stopped the colt just on the edge of a great cliff; but it was in such fear that it would not move, and the boy for a time knew not what to do. At last he took his hand-ker-chief, tied it o-ver the colt's eyes, and so drove him home. Folks near the Grant home said there was no horse which young U-lys-ses could not ride; he was a boy who had a firm will and strong nerves; and was at the head in all sports or games; for young boys soon learn which one of them must take the lead.

He did not stand so high in school, but did his tasks well; and in 1839 he went to West Point. Here he soon had ma-ny friends; and they gave him a name which clung to him for life; he was called "Uncle Sam," from the U. S. in his first two names. At West Point, he read a great deal of war, and the men who had done brave deeds for their coun-try; and when he left there he was, at heart, as well as in name, a sol-dier of his coun-try. He at once took his place with the troops, who were at war with the In-di-ans in the West; but his first big fight was at Pa-lo Al-to in 1846. At the close of this war Grant, who had shown much skill, and knew no fear, was sent to the West once more to force the In-di-ans to keep peace.

He was in Cal-i-for-ni-a while the gold craze was at its height, to try and make the rough men who came in search of gold keep the laws of the land. Then, from 1854, he had a few years of peace, and start-ed to tan hides and skins, in Ga-le-na, Il-li-nois; but his life was ev-er at his coun-try's call; and he was one of the first men to take up arms in the Civil War. He was made a gen-er-al soon af-ter the war broke out; and one of his first acts was to block all the streams and roads near his post at Cai-ro, on the O-hi-o River, so that the South could get no food or arms. Grant was known as a brave fight-er, and oft-en was in the midst of the fight at the head of his men. At a great loss of life to his troops, he took two strong forts from the South, Forts Hen-ry and Don-el-son; and then came that great fight at Shi-loh; where the troops of the South were cut down, and the North won the day; Grant was now put next to the head of the whole ar-my; and at once tried to take the cit-y of Vicks-burg. The siege of this cit-y was hard for those in its walls, and for the troops in front of it; for Grant and his men could get no food from the North, and the cit-y was quite cut off from help. The cit-y made a brave stand for two long months; but had to give in at last, and at the end of that time Grant and his men marched in-to the cit-y; now this great gen-er-al showed what a kind heart he had, for he gave food and clothes to the poor men who had fought so long and so well, to save their town; and he tried hard, at this time, to think of some way to bring the war to a close. Grant was not a hard man, but he was a just one; and in his camps, the men must live the right sort of lives; he would not let his men steal food from the farms a-bout them, or rob the poor folks in their homes. He was a plain man, and his dress showed his plain tastes; once, when he had his troops march past him, that he might see how they looked, he wore such a plain garb that his cap-tains were dressed bet-ter than he. He wore no sword, sash, nor belt; just a plain, dark suit, with a soft felt hat on his head, and a pair of kid gloves on his hands; he was a great smoker, and, it is said, his big plans were all made when his ci-gar was in his mouth. In 1863, Grant won a great fight at Chat-ta-noo-ga; and in the fierce fight in the Wil-der-ness, he and Gen-er-al Lee met for the first time.

Grant's next great work was to seize Pe-ters-burg; and so he laid siege to the town; he dug a huge mine in front of the doomed cit-y, and filled it full of pow-der that would go off when fired with a match; when this great charge went off, the fort was blown to small bits, and heaps of dead and dy-ing men lay in the midst of the ru-in; but the brave men of the South still held the fort, and drove back the troops from the North as they rushed up; and so well did they fight that Grant and his men had to draw back, and leave Pe-ters-burg a-lone for some time.

The next time he tried to take the town though, Gen-er-al Lee, who was in charge, was forced to yield; and soon the red, white and blue waved o-ver the South-ern cit-y. Soon af-ter this, Grant took from Lee all the troops in his charge; and it was now plain to see that the war must soon end.

You read in the life of Lin-coln, of the terms of peace which Grant gave to the great chief of the South; and it seems that these two men, Grant and Lee, had no hard thoughts for each other; for when peace was made, they shook hands, and part-ed friends. Each had done his best in the cause he thought right. Grant's trip to the North when the war was at an end was a grand one; crowds rushed to see the man who had saved the Union, and cheers and shouts rang to the skies. He was, of course, named for pres-i-dent and a great vote put him in of-fice.

He was in the pres-ident's seat for two terms; and was the on-ly man since Wash-ing-ton, who was thought of for a third term; but this the whole land said no to; as no man should be pres-i-dent longer than Wash-ing-ton had been. In Grant's last term, a big fair was held in Phil-a-del-phi-a, called the "Cen-ten-ni-al;" to keep in mind this was the great day on which this land was made free. At the end of Grant's two terms, he took a tour of the world; and all lands made much of the sol-dier pres-i-dent; rich gifts were placed in his hands; and at the courts of the old world, kings and queens were glad to have this plain qui-et man as a guest.

His last home was in New York; and here, in 1884, he fell sick; he lost much mon-ey at this time, and was, in truth, a poor man. But he was, to the last, a brave man; and in the midst of much pain, he wrote the book of his life, that when he was dead his wife should have mon-ey from its sale.

He died after eight long months of great pain, at Mt. Mc-Greg-or, near Sar-a-to-ga, on July 23d, 1885; his bod-y lay in state in New York for some days, and crowds from far and near came to view this great man for the last time.

He was laid to rest Au-gust 8th, 1885, at Riv-er-side Park, New York Cit-y; and the white mar-ble tomb that marks this spot is a gift to the great dead, from the land he served so well.


Ruth-er-ford B. Hayes was born in Del-a-ware, O-hi-o, Oc-to-ber 4th, 1822; such a strong, ro-sy lit-tle boy was he, that he had the pet name of "Rud-dy;" his fa-ther had a big farm and a store as well, so he was quite rich, and lit-tle Rud-dy grew up in a bright and hap-py home. He came of a race of brave men, who had fought and died for this fair land in the wars of the Rev-o-lu-tion and of 1812; and he grew up as brave as they. He and his lit-tle sis-ter Fan-ny went when young to a small school near their home; and the good, wise moth-er helped them with their books at home; Ruth-er-ford worked hard at school, and went when quite young to the high school, where he soon stood at the head of his class. He was six-teen when he went to Ken-yon Col-lege, Ohio. Now, though he was so good at his books, he loved sport and fun as well; and he was so strong, that he could walk miles on the cold-est of days, and yet get no hurt. Once he walked all the way from col-lege to his home and back, when the snow lay deep on the ground, and this was for-ty miles; he could swim and skate, and knew how to fish and hunt; the boys at col-lege all liked him; he had hosts of friends, and the strong, brave will that kept him at the head in games and sports put him first in his class too. He left col-lege in 1842, and took up the stud-y of law at Har-vard Col-lege; in 1846, he was made one of the bar, and took up prac-tise of law in Cin-cin-nat-i. When the Civ-il War broke out, he, as cap-tain of a band of men from his home, did brave, good work. Once he was shot and fell to the ground; but he did not give up; he told his men what to do as he lay there in great pain, and kept up till some one came to take his place as lead-er. At the end of the war, he was a gen-er-al; and was much loved by his men. He was sent to Con-gress by his state; and then made its gov-ern-or for three terms. In 1876, he was made pres-i-dent; though some thought by a fraud in the count; and the Dem-o-crats said that their man, Sam-u-el J. Til-den, should have been pres-i-dent. While Hayes was at the White House, there was a great la-bor strike, from the East to the West, on all the rail-roads. The heads of the roads said that they would not pay the men, in their hire, as much as they had done; and so, all the men left their work and no trains could run, for the men came in great mobs to stop them; at last, they rose in arms, and then the troops were sent out to force them to keep the peace; nine men were killed, and some of the rest were bad-ly hurt. But the men did not give up for a long time; they held Pitts-burg for two days, and burned cars and the grain kept in them.

Of course, in the end, the law had to be o-beyed and the mobs were made to come to terms, and lay down their arms.

There was a war with the In-di-ans while Hayes was in the chair; but this was put down by Gen-er-al How-ard; and after some fierce fights, the chiefs were caught and bound to keep the peace. There was a change made in the way of life at the White House while Hayes was there, for no wine was ever put on the ta-ble for guests or for the pres-i-dent and his wife; this was the first time, and so far, the on-ly time, that wine has not had its place at least at the state meals at the White House. Hayes was in Wash-ing-ton for one term and then went to his home in Mas-sil-lon, O-hi-o. He died on Jan-u-a-ry 17th, 1893.


In rough log cab-ins, out in the midst of wild woods, we have read that six of our pres-i-dents were born; the sev-enth, James A-bram Gar-field, was born in Or-ange, O-hi-o, on No-vem-ber 19th, 1831.

His fa-ther had built, with his own hands, their small, rude home; and it stood deep in the wild wood, whose trees would, at times, catch fire from the sparks thrown from the steam en-gines some miles off. Near the Gar-field home was their field of grain; one day this caught fire, and in trying to save his wheat, the fa-ther of lit-tle James lost his life. It was a hard life to which he left his young wife and the four lit-tle ones; but she was a brave good wo-man; she had to work hard of course, and so did the boys; but the moth-er taught them from books as well; and lit-tle James was but four years old when he went to his first school. He was a tough, strong boy, and soon did a large part of the farm work; in the long sum-mers he had the most work to do, and then in the win-ters he could go to school; he was a brave boy, for the school was miles from home, and his road lay through the deep woods, in which wild beasts roamed at will. But he went his way, and if he felt fear, did not show it; he had a great love for books, and late at night, with the big wood-fire for his light, he would read o-ver and o-ver his few books. His moth-er had taught him to love the Bi-ble, and this Good Book he knew well. But, at last, the time came when he was so old that he could leave home, and so help the moth-er more than he had done. The first thing he did was to drive mules on the tow-path of the O-hi-o Ca-nal; here he earned $10.00 a month, but the men he met were coarse and rough, and the life rude and vile; so, with a sad heart, the young boy, fresh from his good home in the qui-et woods, took what he had made here, and went back to the place he loved. He was sick for a long while now; and as he lay on his bed, he made up his mind that he would go to col-lege, and lead a good, use-ful life out in the big world; that he would use his brains more than his hands. With this hope in front of him, he made mon-ey in the sum-mer to pay his way at school in win-ter; and soon knew all that they could teach and went to Hi-ram Col-lege; here at first he did all sorts of work to pay his way; rang the bells, swept the floors, and built the fires; but he was soon paid to teach in the col-lege, for he was too bright and quick to do such hard work long. In 1854, he went to Wil-liams Col-lege, and left at the head of his class in 1856.

From now on he rose fast; he taught school when he left col-lege; his boys loved the big strong man and said so much in his praise, that men learned to love him too; and in 1859 he was made one of the O-hi-o Sen-ate, and soon af-ter sent to Con-gress. Then came the Civ-il War, in which he fought brave-ly; he won much fame in some of the great bat-tles, and was made a gen-er-al. He was a warm, close friend of Lin-coln; and on the day of Lin-coln's death, it was Gar-field who spoke such calm, good words to a mob of men on Wall Street, New York, that he kept them from rash acts at this sad time. At the close of the war, Gar-field was in Eu-rope for a short time; and when he came home, he was sent to Con-gress, where he kept his seat for a long time. In 1880 he was named for pres-i-dent, and took his seat in 1881. But there was a great grief in store for this land, once more. On July 2d, 1881, just four months from the time he took his seat, Gar-field was shot by Charles Gui-teau, as he, with James G. Blaine, was on his way to take a train north from Wash-ing-ton. They bore him back to the White House, and the man who had done this foul act was seized. The whole land prayed for Gar-field's life, but he grew worse fast; and it was thought best at last to take him to Long Branch, where it was cool-er than in Wash-ing-ton. But the long, hot months dragged on; and the sick man did not grow well in the cool salt air, as it had been hoped; in spite of all care, the pres-i-dent failed day by day; and on Sep-tem-ber 19th, 1881, the whole world heard with sorrow of this good man's death. The great men of the day wept side by side, as Gar-field lay in state in Wash-ing-ton; and men of note, in all walks of life, felt his death as a great grief. He now lies at rest in Cleve-land, O-hi-o. Gui-teau was hanged for the crime he had done; and it is but just to say, that some thought he was not in his right mind when he shot Gar-field.


Ches-ter Al-an Ar-thur was born in Fair-field, Ver-mont, on Oc-to-ber 5th, 1830, and his fath-er had charge of the church in that place and was one of the first men to speak for the poor slaves. Now, in those days, those good men did not live as well as they do now; for folks were poor in the small towns; so this small boy was al-so born in a log cab-in; but he was sent to good schools, and was quite young when he knew so much that he could go to Un-ion Col-lege. All the time he was here he paid his own way, and when he left Col-lege he taught school, so that he could lay by means to go to New York and stud-y law. He was soon in law prac-tise, and he and an old school-mate made the name of their firm well known. Ar-thur took the part of the black race, just as his fa-ther had done, and in 1856, he won a suit which let the ne-groes ride in horse-cars with the whites. A slave-girl had been put off a car and Ar-thur took up her case and won it. For some years he held high of-fice in the state of New York and was a gen-er-al in the Civ-il War; he was not in the fights, but saw that the troops had clothes and food; he did this hard task so well that, when the war was at an end, the pres-i-dent gave him the best place in New York State; he was made chief of the great port of New York and held this post for two terms.

In 1880 he was made vice-pres-i-dent with Gar-field as pres-i-dent; and, of course, took the chair when Gar-field died. He held this place for one term and then went back to his home in New York Cit-y, and took up his law work. There was a split in his par-ty at the end of his term; some men wished Ar-thur to run once more for pres-i-dent, but more wished James G. Blaine of Maine; so, of course, Blaine was named. The Dem-o-crats named Gro-ver Cleve-land; and as all the men on that side wished this one man to win, he had the most votes; and for the first time in a long while, the Dem-o-crats won in the race for pres-i-dent.

Two years from the time that Ar-thur came home, and right in the midst of his law work, he died in New York Cit-y; this was on No-vem-ber 18th, 1886; and he was laid to rest in Al-ba-ny.


The race of brave, strong men from whom Ste-phen Gro-ver Cleve-land sprang made their first homes here, in Mas-sa-chu-setts, as far back as 1635. His fa-ther had charge of a small church in Cald-well, New Jer-sey, and here, in a neat white frame house, which you may see for your-selves to-day, was born, on March 18th, 1837, the boy who was to rise, step by step, to the pres-i-dent's seat.

He was three years old when they moved to Fay-ette-ville, New York, and here he first went to school and lived till he was twelve years old. He showed a strong will, and a great love for books, as a small boy; he would have his own way, if he could get it; and this was why he was sent to a high school, when he was not so old by some years, as the rest of the boys there; he gave his fa-ther no rest till he sent him; and once there he made up his mind to lead his class.

He was just twelve when his strong will sent him to work in a store near his home, so that he could help care for the big fam-i-ly in the small home. The man who hired him, soon saw that, if he was young, he knew how to work well, and that he could trust him; for two years he worked in the store and then went back to his books.

But, just at this time, his fa-ther died; and he then had to find a way to care for those in great need at home. With the same pluck that he had shown in the past, he now went to work in a "Home for the Blind," in New York. In this big cit-y, the bright boy saw and heard much which gave him new thoughts, and put in his heart the wish to make his life a great one. At the end of two years in the "Home," he made up his mind to learn law; and he asked a man whom he knew to lend him twen-ty-five dol-lars to start him. The fact that this man did so shows that he had trust in young Gro-ver Cleve-land; he could now start his work, and went to Buf-fa-lo to do so. Here he lived for eight years; at first he helped his un-cle, in the care of a big farm, and the mon-ey he so made was sent to his moth-er. Soon he had the chance to stud-y law; the place where he went was two miles from his un-cle's home, but back and forth, rain or shine, he walked each day. There is told a tale that shows how he loved the books of law; for, the first day he went to this place, a book was put in his hands to read; he kept at it for hours, till dark came; then he found the rest of the men had gone home; all the doors were locked; and he must stay there all night.

Such hard work soon made him a man who well knew the law; and folks gave him big cases that brought him much fame. He did not go to the war, when it broke out, for he felt that he could not leave his folks at home with no one to care for them.

He rose fast in his law work; and more than one great case did he win; he cared far more to take the part of the poor than of the rich; and at no time in his life did he look for high place or fame; it came to him though, for he was just the man to fill a high post well. His name was soon known in his state and at Wash-ing-ton; for three years he was Sher-iff of E-rie Coun-ty and then he took up his law prac-tise once more; but soon he was put at the head of his cit-y as its May-or; and then was made the Gov-ern-or of the great state of New York. Here he did good work; he put down those who had tak-en bribes, and had not been good, true men, and he tried to see that the laws were well kept; men saw that he was the right man to fill this high place, for he had no fear of what might be thought of him; he just did as he felt right; and so, while he was still gov-ern-or, he was named for pres-i-dent by a great vote, and was e-lect-ed. When he took the oath of of-fice in Wash-ing-ton, he did not kiss the big Bi-ble which oth-er pres-i-dents had kissed, but a lit-tle old book, much worn with use, which his moth-er had giv-en to him when he first left home. He was in the chair four years and while here, he took for his wife Miss Fran-ces Fol-som; he was the first pres-i-dent to wed in the White House. Cleve-land was pres-i-dent for four years; at the end of that time, the Re-pub-li-cans placed Ben-ja-min Har-ri-son in the pres-i-dent's chair.

But, at the end of one term, once more the Dem-o-crats won the day; and a-gain, in 1893, we see Gro-ver Cleve-land pres-i-dent.

In May of 1894, the World's Fair was o-pened; and few boys and girls are too young to know some-thing of the beau-ty of the Great White Cit-y built on the shores of Lake Mich-i-gan in Chi-ca-go. In the last years of Cleve-land's term, there was much talk of the state of things in Cu-ba. The men there wished to be free from Spain, who had ruled them, with a hard hand, for hun-dreds of years.

Spain sent down troops of sol-diers; and harsh laws were made to force the Cu-bans to keep the peace. But Cu-ba would not give up; and the U-ni-ted States be-gan to feel pit-y for this brave lit-tle is-land, try-ing to get free.

In the midst of the strife, Cleve-land's term of of-fice came to an end, and he came to New York to live and take up law a-gain. He now has his home in Prince-ton, New Jer-sey, and has a large law prac-tise.


In the first part of this book, you heard of a brave In-di-an fight-er, whose name was Wil-liam Hen-ry Har-ri-son; and you saw this brave man mount step by step to the pres-i-dent's chair. It is his grand-son, Ben-ja-min Har-ri-son, whom we now see pres-i-dent of the U-ni-ted States. He was born in his grand-fa-ther's home at North-Bend, In-di-an-a, on Au-gust 20th, 1833. There were no good schools near his home; so in a small log house, in his grand-fa-ther's grounds, he first went to school; he and a few oth-er boys and girls were taught here by those whom the Har-ri-sons hired. In this school the seats were of planks, laid on sticks that were stuck in holes in the floor; they had no backs; and were so high that the small boys and girls could not touch their feet to the floor. On-ly in the win-ter did this small boy go to school; in the sum-mer he had work to do on the big farm; he did his work well; but he also learned to shoot, to fish, to swim, and to ride.

He was much liked by all the boys, for he was full of sports and jokes. In 1820 he went to Mi-a-mi Col-lege, and left in 1822, to stud-y law. In one of his first cases, the light was so dim, that he could not see the notes he had made with such care. What should he do? There was but one thing he could do: fling to one side the notes and plead his case without an-y. This was a hard thing to do; but he did it so well, that he won his case; and the great men of the day gave him much praise for his speech.

When the Civ-il War broke out he raised a troop of men, from his own state, and was made the col-o-nel of this band, which was called the "70th In-di-an-a."

He served for two years, and won fame in some of the great bat-tles of the war; so brave was he at Re-sa-ca, that he was made a Brig-a-dier Gen-er-al. Through the long years of war, he was kind and good to the men in his care; they loved him well, and gave him the name of "Little Ben."

Not till the war was at an end, did he leave the field; then with much fame, he went back home, and took up his work at law. He took a high place in his own state and made some great speech-es.

It was now the year 1889; just one hun-dred years had passed since Wash-ing-ton, our first pres-i-dent, took his place as Pres-i-dent of the U-nit-ed States; and the whole land thought it right to cel-e-brate the date. So in New York Cit-y, on A-pril 29th and 30th, was held the "Wash-ing-ton Cen-ten-ni-al." The cit-y was hung from end to end, with red, white and blue; the grand, good face of Wash-ing-ton, framed in the flag of the land, or wreathed in green, looked down on the gay scene. Rank by rank, the troops filed by a-midst the shouts and cheers of the dense crowds that filled the streets, and looked from the win-dows of stores and hous-es. Rich and poor, great and small, kept this great day; the pres-i-dent and oth-er great men from Wash-ing-ton were brought to the foot of Wall Street, on a barge hung with flags; here all the ships of war were drawn up on each side; and as the par-ty went to the spot where Wash-ing-ton took his oath of of-fice, young girls, clad in white, cast flow-ers be-fore them. As the troops filed past the pres-i-dent, one saw, not just those from the North; but up from the South came hosts of men, bearing the flags of their states; all glad to share in this great day of the na-tion; and there were men from across the seas too; the Ger-mans and the French marched side by side with the A-mer-i-cans. By night, fire-works and bon-fires filled the streets with light, and blazed in beau-ty; no such great time had ever been known in this land; and this was as it should be; for it was all done for the great, good man, who had led our troops so well in our first war, that he had made us free; and had then, by a wise and just rule, helped us to be the great, strong land that we are to-day.

While Har-ri-son was in of-fice, work was be-gun for the "World's Fair," which was held in Chi-ca-go, in 1892, just four hun-dred years since Co-lum-bus first saw A-mer-i-ca. Har-ri-son went to Chi-ca-go and o-pened the fair with a speech on Oc-to-ber 14th, 1892; but folks could not go there till the next year. In 1893, Har-ri-son went home to In-di-an-a, and took up his law work, once more; he is still a-live, is well known as a good law-yer, and has many warm friends a-mong the great men of our day.

We have seen that Gro-ver Cleve-land now be-came pres-i-dent; at the end of his four years, the Re-pub-li-cans put Wil-liam Mc-Kin-ley in of-fice.


The man, who now, in the year 1900, stands at the head of our great land, was born at Niles, O-hi-o, on Jan-u-a-ry 29th, 1843. In the schools near his home he was taught his let-ters and, as a child, was fond of books, and quick to learn. He was a mere boy, when he taught school to earn the means to go to Col-lege. The school-house in which he taught still stands; it is a plain, square, white house, with two win-dows in front and three on each side. His moth-er was a good wo-man, with a clear, strong brain; she taught him, as well as his eight broth-ers and sis-ters, to love truth, and to live brave and strong lives.

Young Wil-liam was not long to lead a life of peace; for in 1861 he, then but a boy of eight-een, left his books and his home, and went to the war. Many sto-ries prove how brave he was while there; but two will show you why he rose so fast from the ranks. At one time the guns had been left on the road, af-ter a great fight; and it would be a hard task to go back near the foe to get them. But, young Mc-Kin-ley said, "The boys will haul them;" and he and a few oth-ers went back for them and brought them into our lines. Then he was at one time two miles from the fight, in charge of the food; he was quite safe; but he thought our men would fight bet-ter, if they had some cof-fee and food. So he filled a cart and drove straight to the lines, where our brave men were hard at work. Was this not a brave act? To risk his life for the sake of tak-ing food and drink to the worn men. He worked his way straight to the front and came out of the war a cap-tain. He went home at once and took up the stud-y of law in Can-ton; one of his first speech-es was for the rights of the black men; he said that they should have the same right to vote that white men had; and he was ev-er on the side of the black man. In 1869 Mc-Kin-ley was mar-ried to Miss I-da Sax-ton. They were both very young when their two lit-tle chil-dren died. The young law-yer did all he could to cheer his wife; and she was as brave as he, and did not let her grief keep him from his work. He rose fast in his state, and held high place more than once; then, in 1877, he was sent to Congress. In 1891 he was made gov-ern-or of O-hi-o; and in 1897, he had made such a great name for him-self that he was put up for pres-i-dent by the Re-pub-li-cans, and e-lect-ed. Just as he came in-to of-fice, the strife in Cu-ba was at its height; and men here in our great, free land had much pit-y for the Cu-bans, who were try-ing to get free from Spain, just as we had tried to shake off the hand of Eng-land long years a-go. The Span-ish rule grew worse and worse, as Spain found that Cu-ba would not give in. At last Gen-er-al Wey-ler, a harsh and cru-el man, was sent there to force peace on an-y terms; but Gen-er-al Go-mez knew his foes well, and his brave men fought with a strength born of a great hate for Spain. By and by, when Spain saw she could not win the day, she sent word that if Cu-ba would lay down her arms, she could have the rights for which she had asked in vain in the past.

But it was too late; Cu-ba had no faith in Spain, and would now be free from her hard yoke. There was much want in the big towns of Cu-ba at this time, for Wey-ler had made all the poor folks, who had lived in peace on their small farms, come in-to the towns. He said they gave help to the Cu-ban troops, and so he forced them to leave their homes and would on-ly let them bring with them just the few things that they could put on their backs. Then he had their lit-tle homes, and their crops which they had raised with care, all burned to the ground. He had lit-tle food to give this great host of poor peo-ple, and ma-ny died in the streets for the want of bread. You may be sure that our great land saw the pain and want down in Cu-ba, and longed to give aid; but an act of help on our part would mean war with Spain, and this Mc-Kin-ley did not wish. But there came a day when a great cry went up through the U-nit-ed States at a foul deed done in the bay of Ha-va-na. Our great war ship, the "Maine," was blown up by a bomb, as she lay at an-chor in the har-bor. The thought of our poor men sent to such a death raised the cry of war in all hearts. "Re-mem-ber the Maine," was the war-cry; and men cried for war at once with Spain. But Mc-Kin-ley gave Spain one more chance to stop the fight and free Cu-ba; this she would not do. So on A-pril 21st, 1898, once more the U-nit-ed States had to make read-y for war. From all the states men poured in and camps sprang up here and there, where the men were taught to load and fire their guns. Off at Hong-Kong, in charge of our war-ships, was brave Ad-mi-ral Dew-ey. He knew that the Span-ish fleet was in Ma-ni-la Bay, near the Phil-ip-pine Is-lands, which were ruled by Spain; the loss of these ships would be a great blow to Spain just at this time; so Dew-ey steered his ships there to strike a blow for his coun-try.

It was night when he reached the spot, and be-fore the Span-iards knew he was near, six of his great ships had slipped past their forts. Then a fierce fire poured on him from the forts; but it did not do much harm. At last the Span-ish fleet saw him, and at once the ships o-pened fire; but Dew-ey's flag-ship, the "O-lym-pi-a," sent out such a storm of shot and shell, that the first of the Span-ish ships was sunk, and all on board killed.

The fight last-ed two hours; and at the end of that time the Span-ish fleet had all been sunk. Great joy was felt in the U-nit-ed States when this glad news was heard, and Dew-ey was the he-ro of the whole land.

Our men down in Cu-ba fought well, and ma-ny brave deeds were done. On June 6th Ad-mi-ral Samp-son fired on the forts at San-ti-a-go; our men put their hearts in their work and their aim with the great guns was true and straight. The Span-iards did not aim so well, and their shots did not go so far, and so the shot and shell from their forts did not do us much harm.

Soon our men had stopped the fire from all the forts save Cas-tle Mor-ro, and this fort was rent and torn in great holes.

On June 24th our "Rough Ri-ders," with The-o-dore Roose-velt at their head, were sent out to clear the way to San-ti-a-go. The foe poured a hot fire on our men from the tall grass and weeds in which they lay hid-den; and there was great loss of life. Full of fire and pluck were these "Rough Ri-ders," and led by their brave colo-nels, Roose-velt and Wood, they forced the Span-ish troops back, foot by foot. The line of fight was five miles long; the heat was fierce; and food and wa-ter scarce. But at last the troops came to the fort of San Juan Hill; then, with a mad rush, up, up went our men to the Span-ish fort at the head! Cheers and shouts rose to the skies as the red, white and blue waved from the old Span-ish fort; but the cost of this fort had been great, for there was much loss of life on both sides. On Ju-ly 3d Cer-ve-ra, the Span-ish Ad-mi-ral, tried to sail his fleet out of the bay of San-ti-a-go; he was seen, though, by our men, and af-ter a hot chase and fierce fight-ing, the whole Span-ish fleet was burned or sunk.

Spain lost scores of brave men; but on our side not one man was killed, nor did we lose a ship.

The end of the war was near; on Ju-ly 10th we laid siege to San-ti-a-go, and on Ju-ly 17th we went in-to the cit-y and raised ov-er it the Stars and Stripes.

In this part of the world the last shot had been fired; but Dew-ey in the far east did not know this, and so he struck one more blow for his coun-try.

He took the cit-y of Ma-ni-la with the loss of but twelve men, and when our flag waved o-ver this cit-y, the end of the Span-ish war had come. On Jan-u-a-ry 1st, 1899, the Span-ish flag, which for four hun-dred years had waved o-ver Cu-ba, was hauled down; the red, white and blue of our own land took its place; and Cu-ba, free from the hard rule of Spain, blessed the great na-tion that had come to her aid.

In Sep-tem-ber of 1899 Ad-mi-ral Dew-ey came home; and from end to end of this land his name was cheered.

He was the guest of the cit-y of New York for three days; and well did the cit-y hon-or the he-ro of Ma-ni-la.

When we took Ma-ni-la from Spain, and so closed the Span-ish war, it did not give us the Phil-ip-pines. The men there were glad to have us drive out the Span-iards, but did not wish us to take their place. Long months of war fol-lowed, but now, A-gui-nal-do, their chief, has yield-ed and peace seems to be at hand.

It was not eas-y to see when Mc-Kin-ley be-came pres-i-dent that we were soon to be in the midst of war; but our land has borne her part well. We have gained new lands in the far east, and our flag waves o-ver strange peo-ple who have not yet learned that it stands for free-dom. They still fear that the yoke of the U-nit-ed States will be as hard to bear as that of Spain. This is not so, and it will not be long be-fore all these far-off lands will learn to love and bless the Red, White and Blue, just as ev-er-y State in our great Un-ion does to-day.



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Transcriber's Note

The reader will note that words in this text are not exclusively "of one syllable," but rather that most multi-syllabic words in the text have been hyphenated into syllables.

Hyphenation and punctuation in this text are not standardized, and may also appear oddly placed. There are numerous sections and words in which hyphens are omitted. Some words are spelled variably, including the author's name. These oddities have been retained to match the original text.

Some illustrations have been moved from their original positions, so as to be nearer to their corresponding text, or for ease of navigation around paragraphs.

The following typographical corrections have been made in this ebook:

Page 14: Removed misplaced hyphen (the coun-try turned to him)

Page 22: Changed , to . (The Home of Thomas Jefferson.)

Page 25: Typo leading to factual error. Changed Mon-ti-cel-lo to Mont-pel-ier (Mont-pel-ier, his fath-er's great farm)

Page 47: Moved misplaced hyphen (a ver-y small boy)

Page 47: Added missing word 'and' (of the North and those of the South)

Page 71: Moved misplaced semi-colon (on July 23d, 1885; his bod-y lay in state)

Page 85: Typo leading to factual error. Changed 'one' to 'four' (in 1892, just four hun-dred years since Co-lum-bus)


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