Front Matter The Beginning of the U.S Franklin's Return Troubles After the War The Constitution The First President Washington's Troubles A Wonderful Invention Death of Washington The U.S. Buys Land War With African Pirates Death of Somers The First Steamboat The Gerrymander The War of 1812 "Don't Give Up the Ship" The Star-Spangled Banner Clinton's "Big Ditch" More Land Bought Jackson Stories Jackson's Presidency New Inventions Whitman's Ride The Mormons The First Telegraph The Mexican War The Slavery Quarrel Daniel Webster's Youth Webster's Speeches Early Times in California Discovery of El Dorado Rush to California The Underground Railroad The First World's Fair John Brown's Raid Lincoln's Youth The First Shot The Call to Arms The President's Decision Admiral Farragut The Monitor and Merrimac The Penninsular Campaign Barbara Frietchie Lincoln's Vow The Battle of Gettysburg The Taking of Vicksburg Riots, Raids, and Battles The Burning of Atlanta The March to the Sea Sheridan's Ride The Doings of the Fleet Lee's Surrender Decoration Day Lincoln Stories Lincoln's Rebukes A President's Son A Noble Southerner Hard Times in the South The Atlantic Cable Best Way to Settle Quarrels Our One Hundredth Birthday Gold for Greenbacks A Clever Engineer Death of Garfield The Celebration at Yorktown The Great Statue A Terrible Flood Lynch Law The Great White City The Explosion of the Maine The Battle of Manila Hobson's Brave Deed Surrender of Santiago The Hawaiian Islands The Annexation of Hawaii The Philippine War Assassination of McKinley The Panama Canal Roosevelt's Administration Two Presidents German Views The World War Since the World War

Story of the Great Republic - Helene Guerber

The First World's Fair

When the government was formed, slave property was recognized in the Constitution, and each state was left free to do as it chose about keeping slaves. But since then ideas had been changing. The appearance of slave catchers in the North, and the publication of a novel called "Uncle Tom's Cabin"—of which many thousands of copies were sold—created a great sensation.

This novel was written by Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, while busy with her house and children. It told a great deal about slavery, made people laugh, and cry, and think, and showed so plainly what slavery might be under cruel masters that most of those who read it declared the slaves ought to be freed.

Now, no one had a right to force the Southern states to set the slaves free, except—some people said—the President, in time of war. But the Northerners thought it was bad enough to have slaves in the states which already existed. You know that when Missouri was admitted as a slave state, it was decided that all the rest of the Louisiana purchase, north of a line drawn west from the southern boundary of Missouri, should be free soil. But although people thought this Missouri Compromise would end all trouble about slavery, quarrels broke out again, as we have seen, over the lands acquired from Mexico.

After the Omnibus Bill had been passed (1850), people again thought the slavery question settled forever. But four years later Senator Stephen A. Douglas proposed that two territories, Kansas and Nebraska, should be carved out of the old Louisiana purchase, and be admitted as states as soon as they had enough inhabitants. He added that these should be allowed to choose for themselves whether they would be free or slave states, although they lay north of the Missouri Compromise line.

This proposal made the antislavery men very angry, and they wrote and talked against it with all their might. Still, in spite of all their efforts, the Missouri Compromise was repealed, in 1854. The only way now left to prevent the new territories from becoming slave states was to send out as many settlers as possible who were against slavery; so the Northern people worked hard to do this.

On their part, the Southerners hastened into these lands with large bands of slaves. Thus it became a race, each party trying to send the most settlers. The two kinds of men—antislavery and proslavery—thus began farming side by side; but when they began to talk politics, they soon quarreled fiercely.

People rushed into the country so fast that before long there were men enough in the present state of Kansas to vote and decide whether it should be free or slave soil. The excitement, therefore, daily grew greater and greater, and as the Missouri people hoped it would be slave soil, there was some cheating about voting. Some Missouri men crossed the frontier to vote for slavery, and this fact helped to make trouble when the elections decided that it should be slave soil. For several years there were quarrels and fights between the two parties in the territory, and this time of violence, bloodshed, and border warfare won for that part of our country the name of "bleeding Kansas."

Fillmore, in the meantime, had been succeeded by Franklin Pierce, fourteenth President of the United States. Pierce had been a poor lad, but he managed to secure a good education. He then became a lawyer, and was so determined to succeed that when some people made fun of him, after a first failure, he firmly said: "I will try nine hundred and ninety-nine cases, if clients continue to trust me; and if I fail just as I have failed to-day, I will try the thousandth. I shall live to argue cases in this court-house in a manner that will mortify neither myself nor my friends." As the young man proved as good as his word, it will not surprise you to hear that he did succeed.

All through Pierce's term of office, the quarrels between the slavery and antislavery parties continued. Charles Sumner, a senator from Massachusetts, once spoke so strongly against slavery that Preston Brooks, saying that he was insulting all Southerners, attacked him in the Senate chamber, and hit him such a cruel blow on the head that Sumner was ill for more than two years. But, although a few slavery men approved of what Brooks had done, and made him a present of a fine cane as a reward, most people believed that he had done wrong. It was not in Pierce's power, however, to put an end to the quarrel of those who were for or against slavery, although he made a good President.

Brooks and Sumner


The first summer of his term was an interesting time, for people in our country, wishing to follow an example set by England, held their first world's fair, or exhibition, in the Crystal Palace in New York. At first, people in Europe made fun of the idea of having a world's fair in America, but it soon proved a great success. Not only were there exhibits from every foreign country, but our own was well represented. Indeed, when foreigners saw the McCormick reaper, and heard of the changes it had brought about, one of them declared the inventor had "done more for the cause of agriculture than any man living."

England and the United States were now on such friendly terms that when the English explorer, Sir John Franklin, was lost in the ice of the Arctic Sea, Dr. Kane, an American, went off in search of him. Unfortunately, as was found out later, Franklin and all his companions were dead; but Kane made many interesting discoveries in the north. To show their gratitude to the Americans for Kane's friendly deed, the English, finding the remains of one of his ships some time after, had a beautiful desk made out of it, and sent it to the White House, where it is reserved for the President's use.

Kane's expedition


It was under Pierce, too, that our fleet came home from Japan, where, as we have seen, a treaty was made which allowed our ships to trade there. Ever since then, America has kept up a lively trade with Japan, where the people are learning civilized ways so rapidly that it is said they will soon overtake the most advanced countries.