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LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
and shipbuilders. The President's journey in this part of the country did great good. He went as a peacemaker. All knew that he had fought under Washington; all respected the man's unblemished character and honest purpose. When the people saw him dressed in the military costume of the Revolution, the sight recalled the old days that had "tried men's souls."
In Boston and other cities the citizens brought out the shottorn and smoke-stained battle flags of 1776 to decorate the streets. Gray-haired men, scarred with wounds received at Bunker Hill, at Trenton, at Saratoga, gathered to welcome the new President. He spoke of the inestimable worth of the Union, of the need that the North and the South had, and always must have, of each other. Men listened, and forgot their political differences. Every one declared that the "Era of Good Feeling" had begun. When Mr. Monroe was chosen President for the second time (1821) the people showed their respect for him and their confidence in him by their electoral vote, which lacked but a single one of being unanimous.1
238. The First Seminole War; Our Second Step in Expansion, the Purchase of Florida. Great Britain had ceded Florida back to Spain (§ 143), and Florida was now a constant source of trouble to the people of the South. Many Seminoles, or wandering Indians, had gone there from the country west of Georgia. These savages united with bands of runaway negroes. They frequently attacked the Georgia planters, burning houses, murdering families, and
1 Out of 232 electoral votes cast by the twenty-four states then constituting the Union, Monroe received 231. The elector who cast the remaining vote (for John Quincy Adams) did it simply because he had vowed "that no later mortal should stand in Washington's shoes," -- that is, receive, like Washington, every vote for the presidency.
THE WESTERN EXTENSION OF SLAVERY
carrying off property. It was no easy matter to fight the Indians and negroes in the swamps and thickets of Florida. Finally, General Jackson (§ 230) was sent (1818) to see what he could do. In three months he conquered the country, though it still belonged to Spain. Many years later (1835) we had a second war with the Seminoles (§ 271).
The Spanish government found that these troubles were likely to break out again, and wisely decided to sell Florida to us. We obtained the entire territory, about 60,000 square miles (1819), for $5,000,000 This was our second step in national expansion (§ 215). (Map, p. 332.) At the same time we gave up to Spain all claim to the country later known as Texas, which we at one time considered to be included in our Louisiana Purchase (§ 215). Spain, on the other hand, gave up her claim to the "Oregon country" (§ 216), and so strengthened our title to it.
239. The Question of the Western Extension of Slavery. The year in which we purchased Florida (1819) the question came up, whether slavery should be permitted to establish itself west of the Mississippi, in the immense region then called Missouri Territory. (Map, p. 214.) By the Ordinance of 1787 (§ 195) Congress had shut out slavery from the Northwest Territory, which lay east of the Mississippi and northwest of the Ohio River (Map, p. 172); now Congress asked if it would not be best to shut it out also from the whole of Missouri Territory.
Ex-President Jefferson (§ 221) was afraid that this discussion about the extension of slavery would lead to trouble between the North and the South. He said that it terrified him "like a fire bell in the night."
240. Change of Feeling in Regard to Slavery; Condition of Things at the North and at the South. The reason for his fear was that a great change had come over the country. Before the Revolution every colony held negroes in bondage. But in the North the slaves were chiefly house servants, and their number was never very large. In the South, however, the planters raised all of their cotton, rice, and tobacco by slave labor, and the number of negroes was constantly increasing. At first few persons
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
considered slavery an evil; but after a time many able men in both sections of the country came to believe that it was a bad thing for both the whites and the blacks.
In the North this feeling led to the passing of laws which gave the slaves their freedom. But at the South the planters did not see how they could free their negroes without ruining themselves.
Later, the invention of the cotton gin (§ 205) made slave labor immensely profitable. For this reason the planters wished to keep up the system. At the same time a good many Northern men, who made money by manufacturing and dealing in cotton cloth, became interested in maintaining slavery (§ 205).
241. How Slavery divided the Country in Regard to Trade with Europe. On the whole, the effect of the slave system was now to divide the nation, instead of uniting it. Many of the people of the two sections not only thought differently about the right and the wrong of holding the negro in bondage, but they no longer agreed about the tariff (§§ 200, 234). The South devoted all its strength to raising cotton, rice, and tobacco. It had scarcely any manufactures; it had to buy all its clothing, shoes, and other goods. Europe could then make these articles much cheaper than they could be made in the United States. The South, therefore, naturally wished for free trade, in order that it might import its supplies from the other side of the Atlantic.
The North, on the other hand, however, had gradually come to devote much of its labor and its money to making cloth, shoes, and other articles; for this reason it was opposed to free trade. It wished to keep up a protective tariff (§ 234), which would tax foreign goods and so make people buy our own instead.
242. Why the North opposed the Extension of Slavery West of the Mississippi; why the South demanded it. Now it happened that at that time (1819) the number of free states and of slave states was equal, each section having eleven. A majority of the Northern people, believing slavery to be an evil, had therefore two chief reasons for opposing its establishment west of the Mississippi in Missouri Territory (§ 239).
THE GREAT MISSOURI COMPROMISE
1. They thought it would be a serious injury to that part of the country, and as great a mistake as for a farmer to take the thistles and weeds which grew on his old land and deliberately plant them on a field of freshly cleared soil.
2. They objected to it because, if the new territory should be admitted as slave states, the South might thereby gain a majority of representatives in Congress. That section could then, by its votes, strengthen and extend slavery, and at the same time it might repeal the protective tariff (§ 241) and so permit the free importation of all kinds of manufactured goods.
On the other hand, the South argued that its prosperity depended on the extension of slave labor, and on free trade with Europe; their papers boldly declared: "Slavery must have room." The people there saw that the North was rapidly outstripping them in growth of population. If, then, a part of Missouri Territory should enter the Union as a free state, the North would probably get control of Congress and of our foreign trade.
243. The Great Missouri Compromise, 1820. Finally, a part of Missouri Territory was set apart under the name of the state of Missouri, and applied for admission as a slave state. (Map, p. 214.) The South urged the measure with all its might; the North fought against it with equal determination. After nearly two years of angry debate Henry Clay1 of Kentucky succeeded in persuading Congress to make a compromise, -- that is, a bargain in which each side agreed to give up something to the other in order to settle the dispute.
The Compromise was this:
I. The North agreed that Missouri should enter the Union as a slave state.
2. The South agreed that in all future cases the states formed out of the remainder of Missouri Territory north of the parallel
1 Henry Clay was born in Virginia in 1777; died at Washington, 1852. He studied law, and in 1797 removed to Lexington, Kentucky. In 1799, when the people of Kentucky were about adopting a state constitution, Clay urged them (but without success) to abolish slavery. He entered Congress in 1806, and continued in public life from that time until his death. He was an of remarkable personal influence, a "peacemaker" by temperament, and the greatest orator the Southwest ever possessed. Although ardently attached to his adopted state of Kentucky, yet he declared in 1850 that he owed his first allegiance to the Union, and a subordinate allegiance to his state. See Carl Schurz's admirable "Life of Henry Clay."
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
of 36 degrees and 30 minutes on the map should come in free. (Map, below.)
3. Finally, the South agreed that it would no longer oppose the effort of the North for the admission of Maine, which would, of course, come in as a free state.
This law was passed in 1820 under the name of the Missouri Compromise Act. Maine was admitted (1820) and Missouri
MAP ILLUSTRATING THE MISSOURI COMPROMISE ACT OF 1820
The Act did not mention the territory south of 36o 30', but the understanding was that it was to be opened to slavery.
followed (1821). This kept the political balance even, for the North now had twelve free states and the South twelve slave states.
Many people believed that the passage of the Missouri Compromise Act1 had settled the debate about the extension of slavery "forever." But facts proved that in this case "forever" meant
1 John Randolph, a Virginia slaveholder, then in Congress, called the Northern men who voted for the Compromise "Doughfaces," because he thought they had no more character than a piece of dough. But John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, a thorough hater of slavery, who was then Secretary of State, and who had no more "dough" in his make-up than a block of New England granite, believed the Missouri Compromise was a wise measure and necessary to the preservation of the Union.
THE "NATIONAL ROAD"
only about twenty-five years (§§ 285, 298, 299, 305) then,1 as we shall see, the question came up again, and in a more dangerous form than before.
244. Desire to reach the West; the "National Road." Next to the extension of slavery, one of the greatest questions of this period was how to reach the West. To-day we find it difficult to understand this. To go West, we simply step into an express train, and steam whirls us to our destination at the rate of forty or fifty miles an hour. If mountains block the way, the train either climbs over them or goes through them.
In President Monroe's time the railway did not exist, and although the steamboat did (§ 220), that could only go where some navigable river or lake opened the way. Look on the map
THE CUMBERLAND OR NATIONAL ROAD
of the United States (Map, above), and you will see that the Allegheny Mountains shut out the East from the West. As the steamboat could not find a passage leading through those rough walls of rock, Congress resolved to build a wagon road over them. Such a road had already been begun (1811) at the head of navigation on the Potomac, at Cumberland, Maryland. (Map, above.) This National Road was now (1825) gradually extended across the forest-covered mountains to Wheeling, on the Ohio River, where it connected with steamboats running to Cincinnati and to New Orleans.
But that was not enough. There were millions of acres of fertile land in Ohio and the country beyond it, which emigrants
1 That is, until the question of the annexation of Texas came up in 1845, followed by that of the Wilmot Proviso (1846-1848), by the Compromise of 1850, and by the Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854.