During these days he seemed to forget the Great War. His wife and children were with him, and thoughts of them filled his heart. But at the end he was once more in imagination with his men on the field of battle.
"Order A.P. Hill to prepare for action," he cried. "Pass the infantry to the front. Tell Major Hawks-"
Then he stopped, leaving the sentence unfinished. A puzzled, troubled look overspread his handsome, worn face. But in a few minutes it passed away, and calm peace took its place.
"Let us cross over the river," he said, softly and clearly, "and rest under the shade of the trees."
Then with a contented sight he entered into his rest.
Stonewall Jackson was a true Christian and a great soldier, and his loss to the Confederate cause was one which could not be replaced. He believed to the end that he was fighting for the right, and, mistaken although he might be, his honour and valour were alike perfect. Both North and South may unite in admiration for him as a soldier, and in love for him as a Christian gentleman.
Chapter 88 - Lincoln - The Battle of Gettysburg
The day after Jackson was wounded the battle of Chancellorsville continued, and ended in a second victory for the Confederates. On the 4th and 5th the fighting was again renewed. Then the Federals retired across the Rappahannock to their former camping ground unmolested, the Confederates being too exhausted to pursue them.
After Fredericksburg the Confederates had rejoiced. After Chancellorsville they rejoiced still more, and they made up their minds to carry the war into the northern states. So leaving part of his army under General J. E. B. Stuart to prevent the Federals pursuing him Lee marched into Pennsylvania. But General Stuart was unable to hold the Federals back, and they were soon in pursuit of Lee.
At Chancellorsville Hooker had shown that although he was a splendid fighting general he was a poor commander-in-chief, and towards the end of June, while the army was in full cry after the foe, General George Gordon Meade was made commander-in-chief. Meade continued the pursuit, and Lee, seeing nothing for it, gave up his plans of invasion, and turned to meet the foe.
The two forces met near the little town of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, and a great three-days' battle took place.
The fighting began on the first of July when the Federal army was still widely scattered through the country, and Meade himself far in the rear, and again the Confederates triumphed.
Late that night General Meade arrived upon the field, and began to make preparations for the struggle on the morrow. On both sides the commanders and armies seemed to feel that a great turning point of the war had come, and they bent all their energies on winning. Both camps were early astir, yet each side seemed to hesitate to begin the fearful game, and put fortune to the test. So the morning passed quietly, the hot silence of the summer day being broken only now and again by fitful spurts of firing.
Late in the afternoon at length the Confederates attacked, and soon the battle raged fiercely. The fight swung this way and that, first the one side and then the other gaining ground here, losing it there. When night came the position was little changed. The advantage still lay with the Confederates.
Next day there was no hesitation. Both sides knew that the deadly duel must be fought to the close, and at dawn the roll and thud of cannon began. From hill to hill gun answered gun, shells screamed and hissed, and the whole valley seemed to be encircled with flame and smoke. But the Confederates gained nothing. The Federals stood firm.
At length Lee determined to make a mighty effort to smash the center of the Federal line, and split it in two. Collecting about a hundred and fifty guns he massed them along a height named Seminary Ridge, and with these he pounded the Federals on Cemetery Hill opposite. For two hours the terrible cannonade lasted. At first the Federal guns replied vigorously, then they almost ceased. They ceased, not because they had been put out of action, not because ammunition was running short, but because Meade was reserving his strength for the infantry attack he knew must come.
In the Confederate camp there was strained anxiety. Lee had determined to make the attack, but General Longstreet was against it. He did not believe that it could succeed. It was, he felt sure, only the useless throwing away of brave lives, and his heart was wrung with sorrow at the thought. But Lee insisted, and General George E. Pickett's division was chosen to make the attempt.
So Longstreet gave way. But when Pickett came to him for last orders he could not speak; he merely nodded his head, and turned away with a sob.
Pickett, however, knew neither hesitation nor fear.
"Sir," he said firmly, "I shall lead my division forward."
Again Longstreet gave a sign, and Pickett, gallant and gay, rode off "into the jaws of death." Erect and smiling, his cap set rakishly over one ear, his brown-gold hair shining in the sun, he seemed, said Longstreet long after, more like a "holiday soldier" than a general about to lead a desperate and almost hopeless attack.
The Federal lines were a mile away. Towards them, towards the bristling row of guns, the men marched steadily, keeping step as if on parade, their banners fluttering gaily, and their bayonets glittering in the sunshine. Confident and elated they swept on. They were out to win not merely the battle but the war, and they meant to do it.
Half the distance was covered. Then the Federal guns spoke. Crashing and thundering they tore great gaps in the approaching column. Still the men moved on steadily, resistlessly, until they came within musket range. Then on a sudden the whole Federal line became as it were a sheet of flame and smoke, and the first line of the advancing Confederates seemed to crumble away before the fearful fusilade. But the second line came on only faster and yet faster, firing volley after volley, scattering frightful death as they came.
Nothing could stay their impetuous charge. On they came right up to the rifle pits. In a rush they were across them, and over the barricades. Then with a yell of victory they threw themselves upon the guns, bayoneting the gunners. Leaping upon the barricade a man held aloft the Confederate flag, waving it in triumphant joy. The next instant he fell mortally wounded, and the flag, bloodstained and torn, was trampled under foot.
The Confederate success was only the success of a moment. The handful of heroic men who had reached the Federal guns could not hope to hold them. They died gallantly. That was all.
A storm of shot and shell tore its way through the still advancing ranks. It became an ordeal of fire too great for even the bravest to face. The lines at length wavered, they broke, and the men were scattered in flight. Thousands lay dead and dying on the field, many surrendered and were taken prisoner, and of the fifteen thousand gallant soldiers who had set forth so gaily, only a pitiful remnant of thirteen hundred blood-stained, weary men at length reached their own lines.
This gallant and hopeless charge brought the battle of Gettysburg to an end. It brought victory to the Federal side, and the Confederates slowly retired into Virginia once more.
Yet the victory was not very great nor in any way decisive, and the cost of life had been frightful. Indeed, so many brave men had fallen upon this dreadful field that the thought came to the Governor of the state that it would be well to make a portion of it into a soldiers' burial place and thus consecrate it forever as holy ground. All the states whose sons had taken part in the battle willingly helped, and a few months after the battle it was dedicated. And there President Lincoln made one of his most beautiful and famous speeches.
"Fourscore and seven years ago," he said, "our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense we cannot dedicate - we cannot consecrate - we cannot hollow - this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us-that from these honoured dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain-that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Chapter 89 - Lincoln-Grant's Campaign-Sheridan's Ride
The victory of Gettysburg which had been so dearly bought was not very great. But hard upon it came the news that on the 4th of July Vicksburg had surrendered to General Grant. And taking both victories together the people of the North felt that now they had cause to hope.
After the capture of New Orleans in April, 1862, Faragut had sailed up the Mississippi, and except for Vicksburg the whole valley was in the control of the Federals. Faragut would have attacked Vicksburg also but his land force was not strong enough, and Halleck, who was then commander-in-chief, did not see the great importance of Vicksburg, and refused to send soldiers to aid him.
The Confederates, however, knew the importance of holding the city, for it was the connecting link between the revolted states which lay east and those which lay west of the great river. Through it passed enormous supplies of food from the West, and great quantities also of arms and ammunition, and other war stores, which came from Europe by way of Mexico.
So while the Federals neglected to take Vicksburg the Confederates improved its fortifications until they were so strong that it seemed almost impossible that it should ever be taken.
At length Grant was given supreme command of the western army, and he, well knowing the importance of Vicksburg, became intent on taking it. Again and yet again he tried and failed. Indeed he failed so often that people began to clamour for his recall. But President Lincoln turned a deaf ear to the clamour and decided always to "try him a little longer" and still a little longer. And Grant justified his trust.
Finding it impossible to take Vicksburg by assault he determined to besiege it. In a brilliant campaign of less than a fortnight he marched a hundred and fifty miles, and fought four battles. Then he sat down with his victorious army before Vicksburg, and a regular siege began.
Vicksburg was now completely surrounded. On the river the fleet kept watch, so that no boats carrying food, ammunition, or relief of any kind could reach the fated city. On land Grant's army dug itself in, daily bringing the ring of trenches closer and closer to the Confederate fortifications. They were so close at last that the soldiers on either side could hear each other talking, and often friendly chat passed between the "Yanks" and the "Johnnies" or Southerners.
"When are you coming into town, Yank?" the Confederates would ask.
"Well, Johnnie, we are thinking of celebrating the 4th of July there," the Northerners would reply.
And at this the Johnnies would laugh as at a huge joke. No 4th of July would the Yanks celebrate in their city.
Regularly, too, the Confederates would pass over the little Vicksburg paper, the Daily Citizen, to their enemies. This paper appeared daily to the last, although paper grew so scarce that it sometimes consisted only of one sheet eighteen inches long and six inches wide. At length printing paper gave out altogether, and the journal appeared printed on the plain side of wall paper.
Day was added to day, and week to week, and still the siege of Vicksburg lasted. All day cannon roared, shells screamed and whistled, and the city seemed enveloped in flame and noise. The streets were places of death and danger, and the people took refuge in the cellars of the houses, or in caves which they dug out of the clayey soil. In these caves whole families lived for weeks together, only creeping out to breathe the air during the short intervals, night and morning, when the guns ceased firing.
Food grew scarcer and scarcer until at length there was nothing left but salt bacon, the flesh of mules, rats, and mouldy pea flour. The soldiers became no longer fit to man the guns, their rations being no more than a quarter of a pound of bacon and the same of flour each day. Water too ran short, and they were obliged to drink the muddy water of the Mississippi.
Like pale specters the people crept about, and many, both soldiers and citizens, died from starvation and disease brought on by starvation. At length Vicksburg seemed little more than one great hospital, encircled by fire, made hideous by noise. Human nature could endure no longer, and on the morning of the 3rd of July white flags appeared upon the ramparts.
Immediately the roar of cannon ceased, and silence fell on city and camp. After the six weeks' inferno it seemed to the racked nerves and aching ears of the inhabitants as if the silence might be felt, as if the peace wrapped them about like a soft robe. The relief was so great that many who had endured the weeks of torture dry-eyed now burst into tears. But they were healing tears.
Under a lonely tree, a few hundred yards beyond the Confederate lines, Grant met General John C. Pemberton, the defender of Vicksburg. The two men had fought side by side in the Mexican War, and had been friends. Now although divided by cruel strife they shook hand as of old. But memories of bygone days did not soften Grant's heart. His terms were hard. Once more he demanded unconditional surrender. And Pemberton, knowing that resistance was impossible, yielded.
Next day the surrender was accomplished, and thirty thousand men became prisoners of war. Before noon the Union flag was flying over the Court House. Thus the "Yanks" celebrated the "glorious Fourth" in Vicksburg, as they had said they would do. But there was no noisy rejoicing. The Federals took possession almost in silence, for they had too much admiration for their gallant foe to wish to give them pain. One cheer indeed rent the air, but it was given for the glorious defenders of Vicksburg.
The whole North was now united in passionate admiration for Grant. Cheering crowds followed him in the streets. Fools and wise men alike were eager to know him, to boast that they had spoken to him or touched his hand. Yet at first sight Grant seemed to have little of the hero about him. He was an "ordinary, scrubby looking man, with a slightly seedy look," said one who saw him in those days. "He did not march nor quite walk, but pitched along as if the next step would bring him to his nose." But his eye was clear and blue, he had a determined look, and seemed like a man it would be bad to trifle with.
This shambling, scrubby looking man, with the clear blue eyes, was now the idol of the people. Lincoln too saw his genius as a leader, and willingly yielding to the popular demand made him commander-in-chief of all the United States armies.
Before long Grant had made his plans for the next campaign. It was a twofold one. He himself with one army determined by blow after blow to hammer Lee into submission while Sherman was to tackle the other great Confederate army under Johnston.
In the beginning of May, Grant set out, and on the 5th and 6th the battle of the Wilderness was fought not far from where the battle of Chancellorsville had been fought the year before. Grant had not meant to fight here, but Lee, who knew every inch of the ground, forced the fight on him.
In the tangled underwood of the Wilderness artillery and cavalry were of little use, and the battle became a fierce struggle between the foot soldiers of either army. The forest was so thick that officers could only see a small part of their men, and could only guess at what was going on by the sound of the firing, and the shouts exultant or despairing, of the men who were drive to and fro in the dark and dreary thickets. In the end neither side gained anything except an increased respect for the foe.
Grant's aim was to take Richmond, the Confederate capital, and after the battle of the Wilderness with that aim still before him he moved his army to Spotsylvania. He was hotly pursued by Lee and here on the 10th and 12th of May another stern struggle took place.
The fighting on the 10th was so terrible that on the 11th both armies rested as by common consent. Next day the battle began again and lasted until midnight. It was a hand-to-hand struggle. The tide of victory swung this way and that. Positions were taken and lost, and taken again and after twenty-four hours of fighting neither side had won. Only thousands of brave men lay dead upon the field.
Still intent on Richmond, Grant moved southwards after this terrible battle, followed closely by Lee. Everyday almost there were skirmishes between the two armies, but still Grant pressed onward and arrived at length within a few miles of Richmond. Here at Cold Harbor Lee took up a strongly entrenched position from which it seemed impossible to oust him, except by a grand assault. Grant determined to make that assault.
Both officers and men knew that it could not succeed, but Grant commanded it and they obeyed. Yet so sure were many of the men that they were going to certain death that it is said they wrote their names and addresses on slips of paper which they tacked to the backs of their coats, so that when their bodies were found it might be easily known who they were, and news be sent to their friends.
At half-past four in the grey morning light eighty thousand men rushed upon the foe. They were met with a blinding fire and swept away. In half an hour the attack was over. It was the deadliest half hour in all American history, and eight thousand Union men lay dead upon the field.
"Some one had blundered." Grant had blundered. He knew it, and all his life after regretted it. "No advantage whatever was gained," he said, "to make up for the heavy loss we suffered."
In this terrible campaign he had lost sixty thousand men. He had not taken Richmond. He had neither destroyed nor dispersed Lee's army. Still he hammered on, hoping in the long run to wear out Lee. For the Confederates had lost heavily, too, and they had no more men with which to make good their losses. On the other hand the gaps in the Federal army were filled up almost as soon as made. "It's no use killing these fellows," said the Confederates, "a half dozen take the place of every one we kill."
But the people of the North could not look on calmly at these terrible doings. They cast their idol down, and cried out against Grant as a "butcher." They demanded his removal. But Lincoln refused again to listen to the clamour as he had refused before. "I cannot spare that man," he said, "at least he fights."
Grant was terrible only for a good end. He was ruthless so that the war might be brought the more speedily to a close. And Lincoln, the most tender hearted of all men, knew it. Undismayed therefore Grant fought on. But his army was weary of much fighting, disheartened by ill success, weakened by many losses. New recruits indeed had been poured into. But they were all unused to discipline. Months of drill were needed before they could become good soldiers. In June then Grant settled down to besiege Petersburg, and drill his new men the while, and not till the spring of 1865 did the army of the Potomac again take the field.
Meanwhile there was fighting elsewhere.
On the part of the Confederates there was a constant endeavour to take Washington, and in July of this year the Confederate army actually came within a few miles of the city. There was great alarm in the capital, for it was defended chiefly by citizen soldiers and fresh recruits who had little knowledge of warfare. But just in time Grant sent strong reinforcements from the army of the Potomac and the Confederates marched away without making an attack. They only retired, however, into the Shenandoah Valley, and their presence there was a constant menace to Washington. Early in August therefore General Sheridan was sent to clear the enemy out of the valley, and relieve Washington from the constant fear of attack.
He began his work vigorously, and soon had command of most of the roads leading to Washington. But he knew that General Jubal A. Early who commanded the Confederate troops was a skilful and tried soldier, and, to begin with, he moved with caution. For some weeks indeed both commanders played as it were a game of chess, maneuvering for advantage of position. But at length a great battle was fought at Winchester in which the Confederates were defeated and driven from the field. Three days later another battle was fought at Fisher's Hill, and once again in spite of gallant fighting the Confederates were beaten.
After this battle Sheridan marched back through the valley, destroying and carrying away everything which might be of use to the foe. Houses were left untouched, but barns and mills with all their stores of food and forage were burned to the ground. Thousands of horses and cattle were driven off, and the rich and smiling valley made a desolation, with nothing left in it, as Grant said, to invite the enemy to return.
Having finished this work Sheridan dashed off to Washington, to consult with the Secretary of war about his future movements. The Confederate army had meanwhile encamped again near Fisher's Hill. And Early, hearing of Sheridan's absence, determined to make a surprise attack on the Federal army.
In the darkness of the night they set out, and stealthily crept towards the Federal camp at Cedar Creek. Every care was taken so that no sound should be made. The men were even ordered to leave their canteens behind, lest they should rattle against their rifles. Not a word was spoken as the great column crept onward, climbing up and down steep hillsides, fording streams, pushing through thickly growing brushwood. At length before sunrise, without alarm or hindrance of any kind the Confederates reached the camp of the sleeping Federals.
Each man was soon in his appointed place, and in the cold grey dawn stood waiting the signal. At length a shot rang out, and with their well-known yell the Confederates threw themselves into the camp.
As quickly as might be the Federals sprang up and seized their arms. But they had been taken utterly by surprise, and before they could form in battle array they were scattered in flight.
Before the sun was well up the Federals were defeated, and their camp and cannon were in the hands of the enemy. Meanwhile Sheridan had reached Winchester on his return journey from Washington. He had slept the night there, and had been awakened by the sound of firing. At first he thought little of it, but as the roar continued he became sure that a great battle was being fought-and he was twenty miles away! He set spurs to his horse, and through the cool morning air,
"A steed as black as steeds of night, Was seen to pass, as with eagle flight. As if he knew the terrible need, He stretched away with his utmost speed."
Mile after mile the great black horse ate up the roads. The sound of firing grew louder and louder, and at length men fleeing in rout and confusion came in sight. There was every sign of a complete defeat. Wounded, unwounded, baggage wagons, mule teams, all were fleeing in confusion.
It was a grievous sight for Sheridan. But he refused to accept defeat. Rising high in his stirrups he waved his hat in the air, and shouted cheerily, "Face the other way, boys. We are going back to our camp. We are going to lick them into their boots."
At the sound of his voice the fleeing soldiers paused, and with a mighty shout they faced about. Even the wounded joined in the cheering. The beaten, disheartened army took heart again, the scattered, disorganized groups were gathered, a compact line of battle was formed, and at the end of two hours the men were not only ready but eager once more to grapple with the foe.
Then the second battle of Cedar Creek was fought. At ten o'clock in the morning the Federals had been defeated. By five in the afternoon the Confederates were not only defeated, but utterly routed. Their army was shattered and the war swept out of the Shenandoah Valley for good and all. Then Sheridan marched his victorious troops to join Grant before Petersburg.
Chapter 90 - Lincoln - Sherman's March to the Sea - Lincoln Re-Elected President
Grant's plan of action was twofold, and while he was fighting the second Confederate army under General J.E. Johnston. At the beginning of the campaign Sherman's army was at Chattanooga in Tennessee, and while Grant was fighting the battle of the Wilderness, he began his march to Atlanta, Georgia. Fighting all the way, the Confederate army always retreating before him, he slowly approached Atlanta. At length on September 2nd he entered and took possession of it.
Here for a few weeks the soldiers rested after their arduous labours. The preparation for the next campaign began. All the sick and wounded, extra tents and baggage, in fact every one and everything which could be done without, was sent back to Tennessee. For the order had gone forth that the army was to travel light on this campaign. None but the fit and strong were to take part in it, and they were to carry with them only three weeks' rations.
Where they were going the men did not know. They did not ask. There was no need to trouble, for Sherman was leading them, and they knew he would lead them to victory.
After Richmond, Atlanta had supplied more guns and ammunition and other war material for the Confederacy than any other town, and before he left it, Sherman determined to destroy everything which might be of use to the enemy. So he emptied the town of all its inhabitants, and blew up all the gun and ammunition factories, storehouses, and arsenals. He tore up the railroads all around Atlanta also, and last of all cut the telegraph which linked him to the North. Then cut off as it were from all the world with his force of nearly sixty-six thousand men, he turned eastward toward the sea.
The army marched in four divisions, taking roads which as nearly as possible ran alongside each other, so that each division might keep in touch with the others. Every morning at daybreak they broke camp and during the day marched from ten to fifteen miles. And as they passed through it they laid waste the land. Railroads were torn up and thoroughly destroyed. The sleepers were made into piles and set alight, the rails were laid on the top of the bonfires, and when hot enough to be pliable were twisted beyond all possibility of being used again. Telegraph wires and poles were torn down, factories were burned, only private homes being left untouched.
Foragers quartered the country, sweeping it bare of cattle, poultry, fodder and corn. For both man and beast of the great army fed upon the land as they passed through it, the rations with which they had come provided being kept in case of need. Indeed the troops fed so well that the march, it was said, was like a "continuous Thanksgiving." What they did not eat they destroyed.
Thus right across the fertile land a stretch of waste and desolation was created about sixty miles wide. Yet it was not done in wantonness, but as a terrible necessity of war. It clove the Confederacy from east to west as thoroughly as the Mississippi clove it from north to south. It rifled and well-nigh exhausted the rich granary which fed the Confederate army, and by destroying the railroads prevented even what was left being sent to them. Grant meant to end the war, and it seemed to him more merciful to destroy food and property than to destroy men.
Through all this great raid there was little fighting done. And as the army marched day by day through the sunny land a sort of holiday spirit pervaded it. The work was a work of grim destruction, but it was done in the main with good temper. The sun shone, the men led a free and hardy life, growing daily more brown and sinewy, and at the end of the march of nearly three hundred miles, far from being worn out, they were more fit and strong than when they set forth.
By the second week in December the goal was reached - Savannah and the sea. Here the army joined hands with the navy. Fort McAllister, which defended the south side of the city, was taken by a brilliant assault, and Sherman prepared for a siege of Savannah both by land and water. But in the night the Confederates quietly slipped out of the city, and retreated across the swamps. When their flight was discovered they were already beyond reach of pursuit, and with hardly a blow struck, the city of Savannah fell into the hands of the Federals.
The great march had ended triumphantly on December 21. "I beg to present to you, as a Christmas gift," wrote Sherman to Lincoln, "the city of Savannah with a hundred and fifty-nine heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton."
This news followed hard on the news of another victory. For on December 15th and 16th the Federals under General George H. Thomas had fought a great battle at Nashville, Tennessee, in which the Confederates had been defeated. By this battle their strength beyond the Alleghenies was practically crushed, so as the year 1864 closed, the hopes of the Federals rose high.
Early in 1865 still another victory was recorded in the taking of Fort Fisher in North Carolina. This was the last port in the possession of the Confederates. With it, they lost their last link with the outside world, and the blockade which Lincoln had proclaimed nearly four years before was at length complete.
All hope of success now utterly vanished for the Confederates. Even Lee knew it, and he might have advised the South to lay down arms, but Jefferson Davis, the Southern President, doggedly refused to own himself beaten. So the war continued.
On the 1st of February, Sherman set out from Savannah on a second march. This time he turned northward, and carried his victorious army right through the Carolinas. The march was longer by more than a hundred miles than his now famous march to the sea. It was one too of much greater difficulty. Indeed, compared with it, the march to the sea had been a mere picnic.
The weather now was horrible. Rain fell in torrents, and the army floundered through seas of mud. Along the whole way too they were harassed by the foe, and hardly a day passed without fighting of some sort. But, like an inexorable fate, Sherman pressed on, destroying railroads, and arsenals, creating a desert about him until at length he joined forces with Grant.
In the midst of this devastating war while some states were fighting for separation, another new state was added to the Union. This was Nevada. Nevada is Spanish and means snowy, and the state takes its name from the snowy topped mountains which run through it. It was formed out of part of the Mexican territory. Like West Virginia, the other battle-born state, it was true to the Union. And scanty though the population was, it raised more than a thousand men for the Union cause.
Now too, in the midst of war in November of 1864 came the time of electing a new President. Many people were tired of the war. They had expected it to last for a few months, and it had lasted for years, and some of them were inclined to blame Lincoln for it. So they wanted a new President. But for the most part the people loved Lincoln. He was Father Abe to them. And even those who wanted a change agreed with Lincoln himself when he said that "it was not well to swap horses when crossing a stream."
So Lincoln was triumphantly elected and on March 4th, 1865, he was inaugurated for the second time. He made the shortest speech ever made on such an occasion, and he closed this short speech with the most beautiful and unforgettable words.
"With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and for his orphan -to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
Chapter 91 - Lincoln - The End of the War - The President's Death
No President ever took up his burden in a more great hearted fashion than Lincoln. No President ever faced the difficulties of his position with so much tenderness, and so much strength. But he felt his burdens lie heavy on his shoulders. Deep lines of pain were graven on his face, and to his sad eyes there came a deeper sadness. Yet he never lost heart, and even in the gravest moments he would pause to tell a funny story.
"I should break down otherwise," he said.
He had no anger against the south, only a deep pity, a deep desire to see the country one again. So, much as he longed for peace, he would listen to no proposal which did not mean peace with union. And, as Jefferson Davis declared that he would rather die than see North and South united, the war continued.
On the 1st of April a great battle was fought at Five Forks, a few miles from Petersburg. In this the Confederates were defeated, and more than five thousand were taken prisoner. The next day, true to his hammering policy, Grant ordered a great assault all along the lines before Petersburg. At daybreak the attack began, and again the Federals were victorious. All that brave men could do the Confederates did. But their valour availed them nothing. They were far outnumbered, and their line was pierced in many places.
That morning President Davis was sitting in church at Richmond when a dispatch from Lee was brought to him. "My lines are broken," it said; "Richmond must be evacuated this evening."
Quickly and silently Jefferson Davis left the church. His day of power was over, and, with his Cabinet and officials, he fled from Richmond.
Soon the news spread throughout the Southern capital, and panic seized upon the people. Warehouses, filled with tobacco and cotton, were set in flames. All that was evil in the city broke loose, the prison was emptied, rogues and robbers worked their will. Soon the streets were filled with a struggling mob of people, some bent on plunder, others on fleeing from the place of terror and turmoil.
The night passed in confusion and horror past description. Then the next day the Federals took possession of the distracted city, and in a few hours the tumult was hushed, the flames subdued, and something like order restored.
Meanwhile, without entering the city, Grant was hotly pursuing Lee and his army. The chase was no long one. Lee's army was worn out, ragged, barefoot and starving. Grant, with an army nearly three times as large, and well equipped besides, soon completely surrounded him north, south, east and west. Escape there was none.
"There is nothing left me but to go and see General Grant," said Lee, "and I would rather die a thousand deaths." But like the brave soldier he was, he faced what seemed worse that death rather than uselessly sacrifice gallant lives.
A few letters passed between the two great leaders, then they met in a private house at Appomattox Court House. The contrast between the two was great. Lee looked the Southern aristocrat he was. White-haired and tall, erect still in spite of his sixty years, he was dressed in splendid uniform, and wore a jeweled sword at his side. Grant, half a head shorter, fifteen years younger, seemed but a rough soldier beside him. He wore only the blue blouse of a private, and carried no sword, nothing betraying his rank except his shoulder straps.
It was Lee's first meeting with "Unconditional Surrender" Grant. But this time Grant drove no hard bargain. "I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly," he said many years after. The war was over, and there was no need of severity. So officers and men alike were all released on the promise that they would not again take up arms against the United States. The officers were allowed to keep their swords, their horses and belongings. The privates also were allowed to keep their horses, for as Grant said, " they would need them for their spring ploughing."
Everything being settled, Lee returned to his men to break the news to them. His face was stern and sad as he faced his worn and ragged troops. As he looked at them words failed him. "Men," he said, "we have fought through the war together, and I have done the best I could for you." Then he ceased. Tears blinded and choked him, sobs burst from the hardy men who had followed him joyfully to death. So they said farewell.
Grant on his side would allow no rejoicing in his camp, no firing of salutes. "The war is over," he said, "the rebels are our countrymen again." And indeed this was the end of the war, although for a week or two the Confederates elsewhere still held out.
When the news was heard throughout the country people went mad with joy. The great day of peace had come at last, and all the world went a-holidaying. People who were utter strangers to each other shook hands in the street, they laughed and cried, bonfires were lit and bells rung. Never had there been such rejoicing in the land. And among those who rejoiced none was more glad than the President.
"I thank God," he said, "that I have lived to see this day. It seems to me that I have been dreaming a horrid dream for five years. But now the nightmare is gone." And already his thoughts were turned to the binding up of the nation's wounds.
It was the 14th of April and he had promised to go to the theatre that evening. He did not want to go, but his presence had been announced in the papers, and thinking that the people would be disappointed if he failed to appear, he went.
It was about nine o'clock in the evening when the President entered his box with his wife and one or two friends. As soon as he appeared the people rose from their seats and cheered and cheered again, and the actors stopped their play until the audience grew calm again.
In a few minutes all was quiet once more, and for an hour the play went on. Then while everyone in the box was intent upon the stage a man crept softly through the door and stood beside the President. Suddenly a sharp pistol shot rang out, and without a groan the great President fell forward, dying.
His wicked work done, the man sprang from the box on to the stage shouting, "Sic semper tyrannis," - "Thus let it ever be with tyrants." As he sprang his foot caught in the flag which draped the box. He fell with a crash and broke a bone in his leg. But in spite of the hurt he jumped up. Then fiercely brandishing a dagger and shouting, "the South is avenged," he disappeared.
The murderer was a man named John Wilkes Booth. He was a second rate and conceited actor having a vast idea of his own importance. With him and the small band of fanatics he ruled the leaders of the South had nothing whatever to do. Indeed, by his act he proved himself to be their worst enemy.
Now hurrying out of the theatre he mounted a horse which was held in readiness, and galloped away through the night.
Meanwhile the dying President was quickly carried into a house near. But nothing that love or science could do availed. The kind grey eyes were closed never to open again, the gentle voice was stilled forever. All night he lay moaning softly, then as morning dawned a look of utter peace came upon his face and the moaning ceased.
Deep silence fell upon every one around the bed. The Secretary of War was the first to break it.
"Now he belongs to the ages," he said.
So the great President passed on his way. And the people mourned as they had mourned for no other man. As to the negroes they wept and cried aloud, and would not be comforted, for "Massa Linkum was dead," and they were left fatherless.
Chapter 92 - Johnson - How The President Was Impeached
The Vice-President, Andrew Johnson, now became President. Like Lincoln, he came of very poor people. He taught himself how to read, but could not write until after his marriage, when his wife taught him. In many ways he thought as Lincoln did, but he had none of Lincoln's wonderful tact in dealing with men, he could not win men's love as Lincoln had done.
"I tell you," said a Confederate soldier, speaking of Lincoln, "he had the most magnificient face and eyes that I have ever gazed into. If he had walked up and down the Confederate line of battle there would have been no battle. I was his, body and soul, from the time I felt the pressure of his fingers."
The Southerners would have found a friend in Lincoln, but now that friend was lost to them. Had he lived much of the bitterness of the time after the war would never have been.
President Johnson had a very hard task before him. He had "to bind up the nation's wounds" and re-unite the North and South. But he had neither the tact nor the strength needed for this great task. At first it was thought he would be too hard on the South. Then it was thought he would be too lenient, and soon he was at loggerheads with Congress.
For the South, this time was a time of bitterness. The Confederate States were divided into five districts, each district being ruled over by an officer with an army of soldiers under him. From the men who had led the rebellion, all power of voting was taken away, while at the same time it was given to negroes.
The negroes were very ignorant. They had no knowledge of how to use their votes. So a swarm of greedy adventurers from the North swooped down upon the South, cajoled the negroes into voting for them, and soon had the government of these states under their control. These men were called Carpet-baggers. For it was said they packed all their belongings into a carpet bag. They had no possessions, no interests in the South. They came not to help the South, but to make money out of it, and under their rule, the condition of the Southern States became truly pitiful.
But at length this wretched time passed. The troops were withdrawn, the carpet-baggers followed, and the government once more came into the hands of better men.
Meanwhile bitterness had increased between the President and Congress. And now in 1867 Congress brought a bill to lessen the President's power. This was called the Tenure of Office Bill. By it, the President was forbidden to dismiss any holder of a civil office without the consent of the Senate. The command of the army was also taken from him, and he was only allowed to give orders to the soldiers through the commander-in-chief.
The President of course vetoed this bill. But Congress passed it in spite of his veto. This can be done if two-thirds of the Members of the House and the Senate vote for a bill. So the Tenure of Office Bill became law.
Now the President has grown to dislike Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War. he disliked him so heartily indeed that he would no longer speak to him, and so he determined in spite of the Tenure of Office Bill to get rid of a man he looked upon as an enemy. So Stanton was dismissed. But Stanton refused to go. And when his successor, General Thomas, appointed by the President, walked into the War office, he found Stanton still in possession, with his friends round him.
"I claim the office of Secretary of War, and demand it by order of the President," said Thomas.
"I deny your authority, and order you back to your own office," said Stanton.
"I will stand here," said Thomas. "I want no unpleasantness in the presence of these gentlemen."
"You can stand there if you please, but you can not act as Secretary of War. I am Secretary of War, and I order you out of this office, and to your own," cried Stanton.
"I will not obey you, but will stand here and remain here," insisted Thomas.
In spite of his insistence, however, he was at last got rid of.
But it was impossible that things should go on in this fashion. The Senate was angry because its authority had been set at nought, but it could do little but express its wrath. Then the House took the matter in hand. And for the first and only time in the history of the United States the President was impeached before the Senate, "for high crimes and misdemeanors in office."
But Andrew Johnson did not care. The House sat in judgment on him, but he never appeared before it. He knew the impeachment was only make believe on the part of his enemies to try and get rid of him. So he chose lawyers to defend him, but never appeared in court himself.
For ten days the trial lasted. The excitement throughout the country was intense, and on the last day when the verdict was given the court was packed from floor to ceiling, and great crowds, unable to get inside, waited without.
In tense silence each Senator rose and gave his verdict "guilty" or "not guilty". And when the votes were counted it was found that the President was declared guilty. There were forty-eight Senators, and to convict the President it was necessary that two-thirds should declare him guilty. Thirty-five said guilty, and nineteen not guilty. Thus he was saved by just one vote.
Stanton then quietly gave up the post to which he had clung so persistently. Another man took his place, and the President remained henceforth undisturbed until the end of his term.
During Johnson's Presidency another state was admitted to the Union. This was Nebraska. It was formed out of part of the Louisiana Purchase, the name being an Indian one meaning "shallow water." It had been formed into a territory at the time of the famous Kansas-Nebraska Bill, and now in March, 1867, it was admitted to the Union as the 37th State.
This year too, the territory of Alaska was added to the United States. Alaska belonged to Russia by right of Vitus Bering's discovery. It was from this Vitus Bering that the Bering Strait and Bering Sea take their names. The Russians did very little with Alaska, and after a hundred years or more they decided that they did not want it, for it was separated from the rest of the Empire by a stormy sea, and in time of war would be difficult to protect. So they offered to sell it to the United States. But nothing came of it then, and for some years the matter dropped, for the war came and blotted out all thoughts of Alaska.
But now peace had come, and the subject was taken up again, and at length the matter was settled. Russia received seven million two hundred thousand dollars, and Alaska became a territory of the United States.
A party of American soldiers was landed at the town of Sitka. They marched to the governor's house, and there were drawn up beside the Russian troops. Then the Russian Commander ordered the Russian flag to be hauled down, and made a short speech. Thereupon the soldiers of both countries fired a salute. The American flag was run up, and the ceremony was at an end.
Thus another huge territory was added to the United States. But at first many people were displeased at the purchase. It was a useless and barren country, they thought, where the winters were so long and cold that it was quite unfit for a dwelling place for white men. But soon it was found that the whale and seal fisheries were very valuable, and later gold was discovered. It has also been found to be rich in other minerals, especially coal, and in timber, and altogether has proven a useful addition to the country.
Chapter 93 - Grant - A Peaceful Victory
In l869 General Grant, who had made such a great name for himself during the Civil War, became President. Grant was a brave and honest soldier. He knew little however about politics. But now that Lincoln was gone the people loved him better than any other man. So he became President.
His was a simple trusting soul. He found it hard to believe evil of any one, and he was easily misled by men who sought not their country's good, but their own gain. So mistakes were made during his Presidency. But these may be forgotten while men must always remember his greatness as a soldier, and his nobleness as a victor. He helped to bring peace to his country, and like his great leader he tried after war was past to bind up the nation's wounds.
When Grant came into power the echoes of the great war were still heard. The South had not yet returned into peaceful union with the North, and there was an unsettled quarrel with Britain. The quarrel arose in this way. During the Civil War the British had allowed the Confederates to build ships in Britain; these ships had afterwards sailed out from British ports, and had done a great deal of damage to Union shipping.
The British had declared themselves neutral. That is, they had declared that they would take neither one side nor the other. But, said the Americans, in allowing Confederate ships to be built in Britain, the British had taken the Confederate side, and had committed a breach of neutrality. And for the damage done to their ships the Americans now claimed recompense from the British Government. The ship which had done the most damage was called the Alabama and from this the claims made by America were called the Alabama Claims.
At first, however, the British refused to consider the claims at all. For years letters went to and fro between the two governments, and as the British still refused to settle the matter, feeling in America began to run high.
But at length the British consented to talk the matter over, and a commission of five British and five Americans met at Washington. After sitting for two months this commission formed what is known as the Washington Treaty. By this Treaty it was arranged that the Alabama Claims should be decided by arbitration. A Court of Arbitration was to be formed of five men; and of this court the President of the United States, the Queen of England, the King of Italy, the President of Switzerland, and the Emperor of Brazil, were each to choose a member.
The men chosen by these rulers met at Geneva in Switzerland, and after discussing the matter for a long time they decided that Britain had been to blame, and must pay the United States fifteen million five hundred thousand dollars. Thus the matter was settled in a peaceful way. Fifty years before, a like quarrel might have led to war between the two countries. Even at this time, with less wise leadership on either side, it might have come to war. But war was avoided and a great victory for peace was won.
Besides the Alabama Claims the last dispute about boundaries between the United States and Canada was settled at this time. This also was settled by arbitration, the new-made German Emperor being chosen as arbiter. "This," said President Grant, "leaves us for the first time in the history of the United States as a nation, without a question of disputed boundary between our territory and the possessions of Great Britain."
Grant was twice chosen as President and it was during his second term that Colorado was admitted to the Union as the thirty-eighth state. The new state was formed partly out of the Mexican Concession, partly out of the Louisiana Purchase, and was named after the great river Colorado, two branches of which flow through it. It was admitted as a state in August, l876.
Chapter 94 - Hayes - Garfield - Arthur
In l877 Rutherford B. Hayes became President. Ever since the Civil War a great part of the South had been in constant turmoil. Soldiers were still stationed in the capitals of the various states, and the carpet-bag government still continued. But Hayes wished to put an end to this. So he got the principal white people in the South to promise that they would help to keep law and order. Then he withdrew all the troops. Without their aid the carpet- bag government could not stand, and the white men of the South once more began to rule in the South.
President Hayes also tried to lessen the evil of the "spoils system." In this he met a good deal of opposition. But the system of passing examinations was begun for some posts.
After the troublous times that had gone before this was a time of peace, in which for the first time since the War North and South seemed once more united.
In 1881 James Garfield became President. Like other Presidents before him, his boyhood had been one of poverty and hard work. But from doing odd labouring jobs, or tending barge horses on the Ohio Canal, he had gradually worked upwards. He had been barge-boy, farmer, carpenter, school teacher, lawyer and soldier, having in the Civil War reached the rank of general. At thirty-two he entered Congress, and there soon made his mark.
Now he had become President, and as soon as he took up his office he was besieged by office seekers. They thronged his house, they stopped him in the street, button-holed him in railway carriages. They flattered, coaxed, threatened, and made his life a burden.
But in spite of all this worrying the new President determined to do what he could to end the "spoils system," and appoint people only for the sake of the public good. Accordingly he made many enemies.
Among the many office-seekers whom the President was forced to disappoint was a weak-minded, bad young man named Guiteau. Garfield saw plainly that he was quite unfit to fill any government post, and he refused to employ him. Thereupon Guiteau's heart was filled with hate against the President. He brooded over his wrongs till his hate became madness, and in this madness he determined to kill his enemy.
Since he took up office the President had been hard at work. Now in July he determined to take a short holiday in New England, and visit Mrs. Garfield, who had been ill, and had gone away for a change of air.
On Saturday, the 2nd of July, the morning on which he was going to set out, he awoke in excellent spirits. Before he got up one of his sons came into his room. The boy took a flying leap over his father's bed.
"There," he said with a laugh, "you are the President of the United States, but you can't do that."
"Can't I?" said the President.
And he got up and did it.
In the same good spirits he drove to the station.
As he walked along the platform a man with an evil look on his face followed him. Suddenly a pistol shot was heard, and a bullet passed through the President's sleeve, and did no harm. It was quickly followed, however, by a second, which hit the President full in the back, and he fell to the ground. The President was sorely wounded, but not killed. A mattress was quickly brought, and he was gently carried to the White House.
Then a message was sent to Mrs. Garfield, telling her what had happened, and bidding her come home. She and her daughter had been happily awaiting the President's coming to them. Now everything was changed, and in sorrow and haste they went to him.
For nearly three months President Garfield lingered on. At times he seemed much stronger, and those who loved him believed he would recover. But by degrees their hopes faded, and in September he died.
Once again the sorrowing nation followed their President to the grave, and once again the Vice-President took office as President.
The new President was named Chester A. Arthur, and on taking office he was less known to the country than any President before him. He came to office in a time of peace and prosperity, and although nothing very exciting happened during his presidency he showed himself both wise and patriotic.
The best thing to remember him for is his fight against the "spoils system." Ever since Grant had been President men who loved their country, and wanted to see it well served, had fought for civil service reform.
Garfield's sad death made many people who had not thought of it before see that the "spoils system" was bad. For it had been a disappointed seeker of spoils who killed him. So at last in 1883 a law was passed which provided that certain appointments should be made by competitive examinations, and not given haphazard. At first this law only applied to a few classes of appointments. But by degrees its scope was enlarged until now nearly all civil service appointments are made through examinations.
Chapter 95 - Cleveland - Harrison - Cleveland
In 1885 Arthur's term of office came to an end, and Grover Cleveland became President. He was the son of a clergyman, and it was intended that he should have a college education. But his father died when he was only sixteen, and he had to begin at once to earn his own living.
Grover Cleveland, however, determined to be a lawyer, and with twenty-five dollars in his pocket he set out from home to seek his fortune. He did two or three odd jobs by the way, but soon got a place as clerk in a lawyer's office in Buffalo.
His foot was thus on the first rung of the ladder which he wished to climb. And he climbed steadily, until twenty-six years later he was chosen Mayor of Buffalo. As Mayor he soon made a name for himself by his fearless honesty and businesslike ways. He would not permit unlawful or unwise spending of public money, and he stopped so many extravagant acts of the council that he became known as the "Veto Mayor," and he saved the town taxpayers thousands of dollars a year.
Next he became Governor of New York State. As Governor he continued his same fearless path, vetoing everything which he considered dishonest or in any way harmful.
And as President, Cleveland was just as fearless and honest as before. During the four years of his presidency he used his power of veto more than three hundred times.
As one would expect from such a man Cleveland stood firm on the question of civil service reform. "The people pay for the government," he said, "and it is only right that government work should be well done. Posts should be given to those who are fit to fill them, and not merely to those who have friends to push them into notice."
President Cleveland also tried to get the tariffs on imported goods reduced. He discovered that there was more money in the treasury than the country required. During the war, duties had been made high because the Government required a great deal of money. But after the war was over, and there was no need for so much money these high duties had still been kept on. The consequence was that millions of dollars were being heaped up in the Treasury, and were lying idle. The president therefore thought that the tariffs should be reduced, and he said so. But there were so many people in the country who thought that a high tariff was good that, when in the next presidency, a new tariff bill was introduced, the duties were made higher than ever.
In 1889 President Cleveland's presidency came to an end, and Benjamin Harrison became President. He was the grandson of that William Henry Harrison who died after he had been President for a few weeks.
During President Harrison's term of office six new states were admitted into the Union. The two first of these were North and South Dakota, the name in Indian meaning "allies." It was the name the allied North-Western tribes gave themselves. But their neighbours called them Nadowaysioux, which means "enemies." The white people, however, shortened it to Sioux, and North Dakota is sometimes called the Sioux State.
Both North and South Dakota were formed out of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1861 they had been organised as  the territory of Dakota. Seventeen years or so later they were divided into North and South Dakota and were admitted as states in November, 1889.
Two or three days later Montana was admitted. This state was formed partly out of the Louisiana Purchase, and partly out of the Oregon country. The Rocky Mountains cross the state, and its name comes from a Spanish word meaning "mountainous."
After Lewis and Clark explored the country many fur traders were attracted to it. But it was not until gold was discovered there that settlers came in large numbers. In spite of terrible trouble with the Indians, and much war and bloodshed, year by year the settlers increased, and in 1889 the territory was admitted as a state.
A few days after Montana the State of Washington was admitted to the Union. It was part of the Oregon country, and was of course named after the great "Father of his country," George Washington.
In the following year Idaho became a state. Its name is Indian, meaning "gem of the mountains." This state, like Washington, was formed out of the Oregon country. The first white men who are known to have passed through it were Lewis and Clark. But, as in Montana, it was not until gold was discovered that settlers in any great numbers were attracted there. One very interesting thing about Idaho is that it was the second state to introduce women's suffrage. That is, women within the state have the same right of voting as men.
But the first state to introduce women's suffrage was Wyoming, which was admitted to the Union a few days after Idaho. This state was formed out of parts of all three of the great territories which had been added to the United States. The east was part of the Louisiana Purchase, the west was part of the Oregon country, and the south part of the Mexican cession. It has much fine pasture land and its Indian name means "broad valley."
In 1893 Harrison's term of office came to an end, and for the second time Grover Cleveland was elected President. This is the only time in the history of the United States that an ex-President has again come to office after an interval of years.
Four hundred years had now passed since Columbus discovered America, and it was decided to celebrate the occasion by holding a great World's Fair at Chicago. It was not possible, however, to get everything ready in time to hold the celebration in 1892, which was the actual anniversary, so the exhibition was opened the following year instead.
There had been other exhibitions in America of the same kind, but none so splendid as the Columbian Fair. It was fitting that it should be splendid, as it commemorated the first act in the life of a great nation. In these four hundred years what wonders had been performed! Since Columbus first showed the way across the Sea of Darkness millions had followed in his track, and the vast wilderness of the unknown continent had been people from shore to shore.
Millions of people from all over the world came to visit the White city as it came to be called; and men of every nation wandered through its stately halls, and among its fair lawns and gardens where things of art and beauty were gathered from every clime.
But most interesting of all were the exhibits which showed the progress that had been made in these four hundred years.
There one might see copies of the frail little vessels in which Columbus braved the unknown horrors of the Sea of Darkness, as well as models of the ocean going leviathans of to-day.
During Cleveland's second term of office still another state entered the Union. This was Utah, the state founded by the Mormons. Polygamy being forbidden, it was admitted in 1896 as the forty-fifth state.
Chapter 96 - McKinley - War and Sudden Death
In 1897 William McKinley became President. Like some other Presidents before him he came of very humble people, and had by his own efforts raised himself until at length he held the highest office in the land.
McKinley was a keen protectionist. That is, he believed in putting a heavy duty on foreign goods coming into the country, not in order to get revenue or income for the needs of the Government, but in order to protect the home manufacturer. He wanted to put such a high duty on foreign goods that the home manufacturer could sell his goods at a high price, and still undersell the foreigner. In President Harrison's time McKinley, then a member of Congress, succeeded in getting the tariff made higher than ever before, and the Act then passed was known as the McKinley Tariff Act. And just as President Monroe is known outside America chiefly because of the Monroe Doctrine, so President McKinley is known because of the McKinley Tariff Act.
For many years now the United States had been at peace. But the year after McKinley came into office the country was once more plunged into war.
In days long ago when Englishmen were struggling to found a colony in Virginia, Spain was a great and powerful nation, and her dominions in the New World were vast. But because of her pride and her cruelty Spain lost these dominions one by one, until at length there remained in the Western hemisphere only a few islands, the largest of which was Cuba. But even these were not secure, and again and again the Cubans rose in rebellion against their Spanish oppressors.
The Spaniards waged war against their revolted subjects in most cruel fashion, and the people of the United States looked on with sorrow and indignation at the barbarous deeds which were done at their very doors.
McKinley had been a soldier in the Civil War, and had fought well and gallantly for the flag. But like other soldier Presidents he loved peace more than war. Like Cleveland before him he felt unwilling to plunge the country into war. So he shut his ears, and turned away his eyes from the misery of Cuba.
But there were many Americans in Cuba. They as well as the Cubans were being starved. So ships were sent to Cuba with food for them, and in this way not only they but many Cubans were saved from starvation. Then a United States battleship called the Maine was sent to Cuba, and anchored in the harbour of Havana, to be ready in case of need to help the Americans.
For three weeks the Maine lay rocking at anchor. Then on the night of 15th February, 1898, while every one on board was peacefully sleeping the vessel was blown up, and two hundred and sixty-six men and officers were killed.
When the people of the United States heard the news a wave of anger passed over the land. But the President was calm.
"Wait," he said, "wait till we know how it happened."
So grimly the people waited until experts made an examination. What they found made them believe that the Maine had been attacked from outside. There seemed no doubt that the Spaniards had blown up the vessel although they indignantly denied having had anything to do with it.
Now there was no holding the people, and very shortly war was declared. It was short and sharp. In less than four months it was all over. On land and sea the Spaniards were hopelessly beaten, while in the whole campaign the Americans lost scarcely five hundred men in battle, although more than twice that number died of disease.
The war was fought not only in the West Indies but also in the Pacific. For there Spain possessed the Philippine Islands. These islands had been in the possession of Spain ever since their discovery by Magellan more than three hundred and fifty years before, and they had been called the Philippines after King Philip II of Spain. Now the long rule of Spain came to an end.
The first battle of the war was fought in the Bay of Manila, the capital of the Philippine Islands. Here the Spanish fleet was shattered while not an American was killed. A month or two later the town of Manila was taken, and the Philippines were in the power of the Americans.
In the West Indies too the Spaniards were beaten on land and sea and on August 2nd, 1898, she sued for peace.
By the treaty of peace Cuba became a free republic, while Porto Rico and all the other Spanish islands in the West Indies were given to the United States, as well as the Philippines.
But no sooner was the treaty signed than the Filipinos rose in rebellion against American rule. For three years a kind of irregular war went on. Then the leader of the rebellion, Aguinaldo, was captured, and after that the Filipinos gradually laid down their arms. And when they found that the Americans did not mean to oppress them as the Spaniards had done they became more content with their rule.
The winning of these foreign possessions brought something new into the life and history of America. For now America began to own colonies, a thing quite unlooked for, and not altogether welcome to many.
At this time, also, besides those won in the Spanish War another group of islands came under American rule. These were the Hawaiian Islands, also like the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean.
Hawaii was a monarchy, but for a long time the people had been discontented, and Queen Liliuokalani was the last royal ruler of Hawaii. She wanted to be an absolute monarch, and do what she liked. But when she tried to change the constitution to her liking there was a revolution.
It was a peaceful revolution, and not a shot was fired on either side. It was brought about chiefly by the white people who lived in the islands. A company of marines was landed from the United States cruiser Boston which happened to be in the harbour at the time. The Queen was deposed, and a provisional government set up.
Stamford Dole, an American, was chosen head of this new government. Dole then sent to Washington to ask the United States to annex Hawaii. Meanwhile the stars and stripes were hoisted over the Government buildings at Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii.
All this happened just at the end of Harrison's Presidency. He and his advisers were quite willing to annex Hawaii. But before the matter could be settled his term of office ended, and Cleveland took his place. The new President did not feel at all pleased with what had been done, and he sent a commissioner to Honolulu to find out exactly what had happened, and if the people really wanted to be annexed to the United States.
This commissioner came to the conclusion that the Hawaiians did not want to be annexed and that "a great wrong had been done to a feeble but independent State."
Cleveland therefore refused to annex the islands. He even offered to restore the Queen to her throne if she would promise to forgive all those who had helped to dethrone her. At first she would not promise this, but declared that the leaders of the revolution must be beheaded. In the end, however, she gave way.
"I must not feel vengeful to any of my people," she said. "If I am restored by the United States, I must forget myself, and remember only my dear people and my country. I must forgive and forget the past, permitting no punishment of any one."
But when Dole was asked to give up the islands he refused. He and his party were ready to fight rather than allow the Queen to be set again upon the throne. And seeing him thus determined President Cleveland gave up his efforts on behalf of the Queen.
So for several years Hawaii remained a little independent republic with Dole as President. Then when McKinley came into power the United States was again asked to take the islands under protection. And in July, 1898, while the Spanish War was being fought, Hawaii was annexed, and with solemn ceremony the flag was once more hoisted in Honolulu.
A few years later the islands were made a territory. So the people are now citizens of the United States, and send a representative to Congress.
No President perhaps grew in the love of the people as McKinley did. At the end of his four years' office he was loved far more than he had been at the beginning, and he was easily elected a second time. And but a few months of his second term had passed when people began to talk of electing him a third time.
But when McKinley heard of it he was vexed. He told the people that they must put such an idea out of their heads, for he would not be a candidate for a third term on any consideration.
"All I want," he said, "is to serve through my second term in a way acceptable to my countrymen, and then go on doing my duty as a private citizen."
But alas! He was not to be allowed even to serve out his second term. Only six months of it had gone when he went to visit the great Pan-American Exhibition at Buffalo. Here he made a speech which seemed to show that he was changing his ideas about high tariffs, and that it was time now, he thought, to lower them.
Next day he held a great reception in one of the buildings of the Exhibition. Crowds of all sorts of people streamed into the hall, eager to see the President and shake hands with him. Among these came a well-dressed young man who seemed to have hurt his hand, for it was covered with a handkerchief.
The man came quite close to the President who held out his hand with a smile. Then quickly the man fired two shots. Not an injured hand but a pistol had been hidden under the handkerchief.
The President did not fall. He walked steadily enough to a chair, and leant his head upon his hand.
"You are wounded," said his secretary.
"Ho, I think not. I am not much hurt," replied the President. But his face was white and drawn with pain; blood flowed from his wounds. Yet in his pain he thought only of others.
His first thought was for his wife, who was an invalid. "Don't let her know," he said. But he thought too of the wretched man who had shot him. "Don't hurt him," he murmured.
At first it was thought that the wounds were not fatal, and that the President would recover. But just as every one believed that the danger was over his strength seemed to fail him, and in little more than a week he died.
There was such a shining goodness and honesty about President McKinley that all who came near him loved and respected him. Now he went to his last resting-place mourned not only by his own people but by Great Britain and nearly every country in Europe besides. Even his murderer had no special hatred of McKinley. He was an anarchist who believed it was a good deed to kill any ruler.
So in the midst of his usefulness a good man was ruthlessly slain.
Chapter 97 - Roosevelt - Taft
Upon McKinley's death Theodore Roosevelt, The Vice-President, became President. He was the youngest of all the Presidents, being only forty-two when he came into office. Mr. Roosevelt was in the mountains with his wife and children when the news that the President was dying was brought to him. At nine o'clock at night he started off on a long drive of thirty-five miles to the railway station. The road was narrow, and steep, and full of mudholes, and the drive through the darkness was one of danger.
A little after five in the morning the station was reached. Here a special train was waiting which carried the Vice-President to Buffalo as fast as might be. But he was too late to see his President in life. For while he was still on his wild drive through the night, President McKinley had passed peacefully to his last rest.
Mr. Roosevelt was the youngest of all presidents, and he brought to the White House a youthful energy and "hustle" such as no President had before. He had strong opinions to which he never hesitated to give voice, and perhaps since Lincoln no President had been so much a dictator.
Perhaps the most interesting thing in Roosevelt's presidency was the beginning of the Panama Canal.
You remember that when Columbus set forth upon the Sea of Darkness his idea was to reach the east by sailing west. And to this day of his death he imagined that he had reached India by sailing westward. But soon men found out the mistake, and then began the search for the North-West Passages by which they might sail past the great Continent, and so reach India.
The North-West Passage, however, proved a delusion. The men turned their attention to the narrow isthmus by which the two vast continents of North and South America are joined. And soon the idea of cutting a canal through this narrow barrier began to be talked of. But time went on and the Spaniards who held sway over the isthmus did no more than talk. Then an adventurous Scotsman was seized with the idea of founding a colony at Darien. He meant to build a great harbour where all the ships of the world would come. Merchandise was to be carried across the isthmus by camels, and soon his colony would be the key of all the commerce of the world.
Such was his golden dream, but it ended in utter failure.
Still the idea grew. Men of many nations began to discuss the possibility of building the canal. And at length the French got leave from the Government of Columbia and work on the canal was begun. But after working for many years the French gave up the undertaking, which was far more difficult, and had cost far more money than they had expected. Meanwhile the Americans had become much interested in the scheme, and they had begun to think of cutting a canal through the isthmus at Nicaragua. Then when the French company went bankrupt they offered to sell all their rights to the canal to the United States. There was a good deal of discussion over the matter. For some people thought that the Nicaragua route would be better. But in the end it was agreed to take over the canal already begun, and go with it.
Everything was arranged when the Colombian Senate refused to sign the treaty. By this treaty they were to receive ten million dollars, besides a yearly rent for the land through which the canal ran. But that sum seemed to them now too small, and they refused to sign the treaty unless the money to be paid down should be increased to twenty-five million dollars.
This the United States was unwilling to do. Everything came down to a standstill, and it seemed as if the Panama scheme would have to be given up, when suddenly a new turn was given to affairs. For the people of Panama rose in rebellion against Colombia, and declared themselves a republic.
The United States at once recognized the new republic, and before a month had passed a treaty between the United States and the Republic of Panama was drawn up and signed, and the work on the great canal was begun.
A good many people, however, were not very pleased at the manner in which the struggle had been ended. They thought that the United States ought not to have taken the part of rebels in such haste. But the President was quite satisfied that he had done the right thing, and that it would have been base not to help the new republic.
In 1902 Mr. Roosevelt had become president "by accident." If it had not been for the tragedy of President McKinley's death he would not have come into power, and the thought grieved him somewhat. So when he was again elected president he was quite pleased. For now he felt that he held his great office because the people wanted him, and not because they could not help having him.
Few Presidents have grown so much in popularity after coming into office as Mr. Roosevelt. People felt he was a jolly good fellow, and throughout the length and breadth of the land he was known as "Teddy."
"Who is the head of the Government?" a little girl was asked.
"Mr. Roosevelt," was the reply.
"Yes, but what is his official title?"
"Teddy," answered the little one.
During this presidency Oklahoma was admitted to the Union as the forty-sixth state. Oklahoma is an Indian word meaning Redman. It was part of the Louisiana Purchase, and had been set aside as an Indian reservation. All the land, however, was not occupied and as some of it was exceedingly fertile the white people began to agitate to have it opened to them. So at length the Indians gave up their claim to part of this territory in return for a sum of money.
This was in 1889 and President Harrison proclaimed that at twelve o'clock noon on the 22nd of April the land would be opened for settlement. Long before the day people set out in all directions to the borders of Oklahoma. On the morning of the 22nd of April at least twenty thousand people had gathered on the borders. And as soon as the blowing of a bugle announced that the hour of noon had struck there was a wild rush over the border. Before darkness fell whole towns were staked out. Yet there was not enough land for all and many had to return home disappointed. The population of Oklahoma went up with a bound but it was not until eighteen years later, in September, 1907, that it was admitted to the Union as a state.
In 1909 William H. Taft became president. Mr. Taft had been Governor of the Philippines, and had shown great tact and firmness in that post. He and President Roosevelt were friends, and Roosevelt did all he could to further his election.
During Mr. Taft's presidency the last two states were admitted to the Union. Ever since the Civil War New Mexico had been seeking admission as a state, and at one time it was proposed to call this state Lincoln. That suggestion, however, came to nothing, and some years later it was proposed to admit New Mexico and Arizona as one state. To this Arizona objected, and at length they were admitted as separate states, New Mexico on the 6th of January and Arizona on the 11th of February, 1912. Both these states were made out of the Mexican Concession and the Gadsden Purchase.
Chapter 98 - Wilson - Troubles With Mexico
In 1913 Mr. Taft's term of office came to an end, and Mr. Woodrow Wilson was elected President. He came into office at no easy time. At home many things needed reform and on the borders there was trouble. For two years the republic of Mexico, which had always been a troublous neighbor, had been in a constant state of anarchy. One revolution followed another, battles and bloodshed became common events. Many Americans had settled in Mexico and in the turmoil American lives were lost and American property ruined. While Mr. Taft was in office he tried to protect the Americans in Mexico.
But he could do little, as the Mexicans made it plain that any interference on the part of America would mean war. Mr. Taft avoided war, but the state of things in Mexico went from bad to worse, and when Mr. Wilson became President a settlement with Mexico was one of the problems he had to face. But first of all the new President turned this thoughts to home matters.
Ever since the McKinley Tariff the duties on goods imported into the country had remained high. Many people, however, had come to believe that high tariffs were a mistake, for while they enriched a few they made living dearer than need be for many. These people wished to have tariffs "for revenue only." That is, they thought duties should only be high enough to produce sufficient income for the needs of the government. They objected to tariffs merely for "protection." That is, they objected to tariffs which "protected" the manufacturer at the expense of the consumer.
President Wilson held these opinions strongly, and during the first year of his presidency a bill was passed by which were luxuries, things which only rich people bought, were heavily taxed, while the taxes on foodstuffs and wool, things which the poorest need, were made much lighter. These changes in the tariff brought in much less income for the government, and to make up for the loss an Income Tax was levied for the first time, everyone who had more than 4,000 dollars a year having to pay it. In this way again the burden of taxes was shifted from the poor to the rich.
The President next turned his attention to the banks. Little change had been made in their way of doing business since the Civil War, and for some time it had been felt that to meet the growing needs of trade a change was wanted. Many people had tried to think out a new system, but it was not easy, and they failed. Mr. Wilson, however, succeeded, and in December, 1913, the Currency Bill was passed.
It would take too long, and would be rather difficult, to explain just what this Act was. Shortly it was meant to keep too much money from getting into the hands of a few people, and to give every one with energy and enterprise a chance.
Other Acts connected with the trade of the country followed these, all of which intended to make the life of the weak and poor easier. Of these perhaps the most interesting for us is the Child Labour Act. This Act was meant to keep people from making young children work too hard, and in order to make child labour less profitable to "exploiters" the Act forbids the sending of goods made by children under fourteen from one state to another. If the children are obliged to work at night, or for more than eight hours during the day, the age is raised to sixteen. This Act was signed in September, 1916, but did not come into force until September, 1917. While these things were being done within the country troubles beyond its boarders were increasing. First there was trouble with Mexico.
A few days before Mr. Wilson was inaugurated, Madero, the President of Mexico, was deposed and murdered, and a rebel leader named Huerta at once proclaimed himself President. That he had anything to do with the murder of Madero has never been openly proved, but Mr. Wilson, believing that he had, looked upon him as an assassin, and refused to acknowledge him as head of the neighboring republic. But beyond that Mr. Wilson hesitated to mix himself or his country in the Mexican quarrel, believing that the Mexicans themselves could best settle their own affairs.
"Shall we deny to Mexico," he asked, a little later, "because she is weak, the right to settle her own affairs? No, I say. I am proud to belong to a great nation that says, 'this country which we could crush shall have as much freedom in her own affairs as we have in ours.'"
Whether the President was wise or unwise in his dealings with Mexico we cannot say. The trouble is too close to us. It is not settled yet. But the one thing we can clearly see is that Mr. Wilson loved and desired peace, not only with Mexico but with the whole of America. He wanted to unite the whole of America, both North and South, in bonds of kindness. He wanted to make the small weak republics of South America feel that the great republic of North America was a watchful friend, and not a watchful enemy, eager, and able when she chose, to crush them. Had the United States put forth her strength, Mexico could have been conquered, doubtless, in no long time. But Mr. Wilson took a wider view than those who counseled such a course. Instead of crushing Mexico, and thereby perhaps arousing the jealousy and suspicion of other weak republics, he tried to use the trouble to increase the good will of these republics toward the United States. He tried to show them that the United States was one with them, and had no desire to enlarge her borders at the expense of another. Whether the means he used were wise or not time will show.
For the most part the country was with the President in his desire to keep out of war with Mexico. This was partly because they believed that America was not prepared for war, partly because they knew that war must certainly end in the defeat of the Mexicans. Having defeated them the United States would be forced to annex their territory, and this no one wanted.
But to keep out of war was no easy matter. The wild disorder in Mexico increased daily. Besides Huerta other claimants for the presidency appeared and the country swarmed with bandit forces under various leaders, all fighting against each other.
At length in April, 1914, some United States sailors who had landed at the Mexican port of Tampico were taken prisoner by the Huertists. They were soon set free again, but Huerta refused to apologize in a satisfactory way, and an American squadron was sent to take possession of Vera Cruz. War seemed now certain. But it was averted, and after holding Vera Cruz for more than seven months the American troops were withdrawn. "We do not want to fight the Mexicans," said Mr. Wilson, at the funeral of the sailors who lost their lives in the attack. "We do not want to fight the Mexicans; we want to serve them if we can. A war of aggression is not a proud thing in which to die. But a war of service is one in which it is a grand thing to die."
On the invitation of the United States three of the South American republics, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, known from their names as the A. B. C. Powers, now joined with the United States in trying to settle the Mexican difficulty. In May, 1914, they held a Mediation Conference at Niagara Falls in Canada. But nothing came of it, and the disorder in Mexico continued as before.