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LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
cruel side. People who took up the book could not lay it down until they had finished it. They laughed and cried, and laughed again, over "Topsy," "Eva," and "Uncle Tom"; but they ended with tears in their eyes. No arguments, no denials, could shake the influence of the story. In a single year two hundred thousand copies were sold in this country, and in a short time the total sales here had reached half a million copies.
From this time onward a silent revolution was going on. The forces for slavery and those against it were girding themselves up for the terrible struggle. The great leaders of the nation on both sides -- Clay, Webster, Calhoun -- had recently died. New men were taking their places in Congress, -- Charles Sumner representing the North, Jefferson Davis, the South. In the battles which these two men fought in words we have the beginning of that contest which was soon to end in civil war. Both felt that the time was very soon coming when the republic must stand wholly free or wholly on the side of slavery.
302. Summary. The four chief events of the Taylor and Fillmore administrations were: (I) the debate on the extension of slavery in the new territory gained by the Mexican War; (2) the Compromise Measures of 1850, including the Fugitive-Slave Law; (3) the publication of "Uncle Tom's Cabin"; and (4) the beginning of the great final struggle in Congress between the North and the South.
FRANKLIN PIERCE (DEMOCRAT)
303. Pierce's Administration (Fourteenth President, One Term, 1853-1857); the "World's Fair" at New York City; American Labor-Saving Machines. The inauguration of President Pierce1 occurred at a time when a majority of the people were tired of hearing about slavery. It was a period of great business prosperity;
1 Franklin Pierce was born in New Hampshire in 1804; died, 1869. He was in Congress from 1837-1842, and was a brigadier general in the Mexican War. He was elected President (William R. King of Alabama, Vice President) by the Democrats, over General Scott, the Whig candidate. The Whig party had practically ceased to exist before the next presidential election, in 1856. The Free Soilers humorously declared that it died "of an attempt to swallow the Fugitive-Slave Law" (which the Whig National Convention had accepted in 1832). In 1852 a new political party called the American Party, or "Know Nothings," came
AMERICAN LABOR-SAVING MACHINES
almost everybody seemed to be making money, and some newspapers called it the "golden age." In the summer (1853) the first American "World's Fair" was opened in New York City in the "Crystal Palace."
The exhibition proved that no country in the world could equal our own in labor-saving machines. Four of the most remarkable
A TWENTIETH-CENTURY ELECTRIC NEWSPAPER PRINTING PRESS
(With cut of Franklin's press for comparison)
of these were the newly invented sewing machines which were then beginning to come into general use; next, the horse reapers and mowers, and finally an improved steam printing press, which could send out a continuous stream of four-page newspapers at tile rate of over 200 a minute. That was thought extraordinary speed
into existence. They had a secret organization, and their object was to exclude all but native American citizens from office, to check the power of Catholicism, and to oppose the admission of foreigners to citizenship except after very long residence here. Their motto was, "Americans must rule America." The "Know Nothings became a national party, exerted considerable influence for a few years, and then died out.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
then, but now we have presses, driven by electricity, which can print 1600 sixteen-page sheets a minute, or nearly 100,000 an hour. This makes a roll of paper seventy miles long.
The horse reapers and mowers for cutting grain and grass (1845) showed the immense advance we had made over the slow work formerly done by hand with sickle and scythe. The French Academy of Sciences declared that the American inventor of the horse reaper had "done more for the cause of agriculture than any man living." The effect on the settlement of the West was wonderful, for by using these machines the farmer could do as much work in a few hours as he had been able to do before in a whole week.1 But these machines have since been superseded, on some of the immense farms at the West, by "harvesters," which cut the grain, thrash it, clean it, and put it up in bags in the field. These "harvesters" sometimes require more than thirty horses to draw them or they are propelled by steam (§ 371).
304. Commodore M. C. Perry opens the Ports of Japan. Not long after the close of the Crystal Palace Exhibition, Commodore M. C. Perry, brother of the late Commodore O. H. Perry of Lake Erie fame (§ 229), sailed into one of the ports of Japan with the first fleet of steamers that had ever entered a harbor of that island. For over two centuries that country had been almost practically closed to the entire world. Through Perry's influence the government of Japan made a treaty with the United States admitting our ships to trade. We made the Emperor presents of a locomotive
1 Obed Hussey patented his horse reaper in 1834 and Cyrus Hall McCormick patented his machine a few months later. Eventually these remarkable farming implements were improved so that they not only cut the grain in the field, but bound it up in sheaves. Speaking of one of these machines, William H. Seward, then in the United States Senate, said, in 1859, that it had pushed the line of civilization [in the United States] westward thirty miles each year. And Professor Alexander Johnston says that the results of the horse reaper "have been hardly less than that of the locomotive in their importance to the United States. . . . It was agricultural machinery that made Western farms profitable, and enabled the railways to fill the West so rapidly." See also Coman's "Industrial History of the United States," p. 244.
THE KANSAS--NEBRASKA ACT, 1854
with a train of cars, and a line of telegraph, -- the first ever seen in that country, which has since adopted, through our influence, both steam and electricity. Later (1901), the Japanese erected a monument commemorating Commodore Perry's work. It stands in Perry Park, Kurihama, Japan, at which port the American officer first landed.
305. The Kansas-Nebraska Act, 1854; Rise of the Modern Republican Party, 1856. It will be remembered that the Missouri Compromise of 1820 shut out slavery from the territory west and north of Missouri (§ 243). At the time the Compromise was made it was solemnly declared that it would stand "forever." But the end of that "forever" was now reached. In 1853 a
PERRY LANDING IN JAPAN
movement began in Missouri to carry slavery into the Nebraska country west of it. In 1854 Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois -- the "Little Giant," as his friends called him1 -- proposed a law entitled the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. That bill cut the Nebraska country into two parts, of which the southern portion was called Kansas; and it left the settlers of these two territories to decide whether they would have slave labor or not.2 Congress
1 Senator Douglas was short in stature and stoutly built. His great intellectual ability and marked decision of character got for him the name of the "Little Giant." He died in 1861, shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War. His dying message to his sons was his entreaty that they should stand by the Union and the Constitution.
2 Senator Douglas claimed that in giving the people of Kansas and Nebraska the power of choosing whether they would have slave labor or not, he was simply extending that part of Clay's Compromise measure of 1850 (§ 299) which gave the same privilege to the people of the territories of New Mexico and Utah, (See Map, p. 270).
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
passed the bill, and thus repealed or set aside the Missouri Compromise or agreement made in 1820 (§ 243). The North was indignant at the new law. Senator Douglas was hooted in the streets. Mass meetings were held to denounce him, and so many images of him were made and burned that Mr. Douglas himself said that he traveled from Washington to Chicago by the light of his own blazing effigies.
One of the most important results of the controversy over the Kansas-Nebraska Bill was that it led to the formation in 1856 of a new political party. Those who opposed the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and the extension of slavery in the West now united and took the name of Republicans (§ 203).
306. The Struggle for the Possession of Kansas; Emigrants from Missouri and from New England. A desperate struggle (1854) began between the North and the South for the possession of Kansas.1 Bands of slaveholders armed with rifles crossed the Missouri River and seized lands in the new territory. They settled a town which they named Atchison in honor of Senator Atchison of Missouri.
Next, the New England Aid Society of Boston sent out a body of armed emigrants, singing,"We cross the prairies, as of old
The Pilgrims crossed the sea,
To make the West, as they the East,
The Homestead of the free."2
They settled about forty miles to the southwest of Atchison. They called their little cluster of tents and log cabins Lawrence, because Amos A. Lawrence was treasurer of the society, which was established to aid Northern men to build homes in Kansas, and to make the territory a free state.
307. The Rival Governments of Kansas; Civil War in the Territory. The rival bands of settlers soon set up governments to suit themselves. The "Free-state men" made their headquarters
1 In speaking of this coming struggle, Honorable William H. Seward of New York said, in the United States Senate, 1854: "Come on, then, gentlemen of the slave states; since there is no escaping your challenge, I accept it on behalf of Freedom. We will engage in competition for the virgin soil of Kansas, and God give the victory to the side that is stronger in numbers as it is in right."
2 See Whittier's "The Song of the Kansas Emigrant."
CIVIL. WAR IN KANSAS
at Topeka and Lawrence; the "Slave-state men" made theirs at Leavenworth and Lecompton.
During the next five years (1854-1859) the territory was torn by civil war, and fairly earned the title of "Bleeding Kansas." The "Free-state men" denounced the opposite party as "Border Ruffians"; the "Slave-state men called the Free-state men" "Abolitionists" and "Black Republicans."
308. Attack on Lawrence; John Brown; Assault on Charles Sumner. In the course of this period of violence and bloodshed the "Slave-state men" attacked Lawrence, plundered the town, and burned some of its chief buildings. This roused the spirit of vengeance in the heart of "Old John Brown" of Osawatomie.1 He was a descendant of one of the Pilgrims who came over in the Mayflower (§ 73), and he had made a solemn vow to "kill American slavery." In return for the attack on Lawrence, Brown got together a small band, surprised a little settlement of Slave-state men on Pottawatomie Creek, dragged five of them from their beds, and deliberately murdered them. Later, Brown crossed into Missouri, destroyed considerable property, freed eleven slaves, and shot one of the slave owners. In the end, the "Free-state men" won the victory, and Kansas, following the example of
I John Brown, born in Torrington, Connecticut, 1800, was executed at Charlestown, Virginia (now West Virginia), December 2, 1859, for having attempted by armed force to liberate slaves in that state. He was a descendant of Peter Brown, who came over in the Mayflower in 1620. When a boy he chanced to see a slave boy cruelly beaten by his master, and he then and there vowed (so he says) "eternal war with slavery." In 1848 he purchased a farm in North Elba, New York, but spent a great deal of his time in aiding runaway slaves to get to Canada. He went out to Osawatomie, Kansas, in 1855, to take part in making that territory a free state, and also, as he says, to strike a blow at slavery. Brown's party declared that they perpetrated the "Pottawatomie Massacre" in return for the assassination of five "Free-state men" by the opposite party.