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

A Terrible Flood

Our twenty-third President (188993) was Benjamin Harrison, a grandson of "Old Tippecanoe," the ninth President. He, too, served in the Civil War, where his men loved him dearly. After the war, Harrison practiced law, served as a senator, and was chosen to fill the highest position in our country.

Six new states were admitted during his term: North and South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho, and Wyoming. The United States then had forty-four stars in its "field of blue." In two of the new Western states, Wyoming and Idaho, and also in Colorado and Utah, women are allowed to vote as well as men, the people there having decided in favor of "woman suffrage."

New land was open to settlers under Harrison, for the territory of Oklahoma, or the "Beautiful Land," had been bought from the Indians. As Oklahoma once formed part of the Indian Territory, the President had forbidden any white man to set foot in it until he gave permission to do so. But when it became known that the rich lands of Oklahoma would be open to settlers on April 22, 1889, hosts of people prepared to go there.

To make sure they would have a fair chance, they came on foot and in wagons, on horseback and muleback, and camped along the border. When the bugle gave the signal at twelve o'clock on the appointed day, they made a mad rush into the country. Before night more than fifty thousand persons had crossed the line, and by the next morning several "mushroom "towns had sprung up, newspapers had been printed and were ready for distribution, and all kinds of business had begun.

Of course, towns such as Oklahoma city and Guthrie were at first only a collection of tents, clapboard shanties and huts, or prairie wagons, but before many months were over, banks, churches, and town buildings arose, and the people began to plan for street cars and electric lights. Since then the growth of Oklahoma Territory has been so rapid that before long it will probably be ready to join the Union as a state.

Washington Arch


The centennial celebration of Washington's inauguration was held in New York in 1889. There was another grand procession on this occasion, which passed under the Washington Memorial Arch, erected in honor of the centennial of the inauguration of America's greatest man as our first President. The places made famous by Washington's presence were all visited; and to commemorate his arrival, President Harrison, too, was rowed to New York in a barge manned by thirteen sailors. Not only did the army and navy figure in this procession, but all the trades and industries of our land were represented by picturesque floats, and there were large deputations of citizens and workmen.

This joyful celebration was soon forgotten, however, for, about one month later, a fearful calamity befell Johnstown in Pennsylvania. The dam of a reservoir burst after long rains, and a wall of water, forty feet high and about half a mile wide, rushed down the Conemaugh valley faster than any express train. A few moments before, seeing the dam was giving way, Engineer Parks rode madly down the valley, calling to all the people to flee. But, in spite of this warning, the waters followed him so closely that more than two thousand persons perished.

Johnstown Flood


Houses were dashed to pieces, locomotives carried away like chips, and millstones weighing a ton apiece rolled along like pebbles. "Trees, brush, furniture, boulders, pig and railway iron, corpses, machinery, miles and miles of barbed wire, and an indescribable mass "of wreckage rushed down the valley, formed a big whirlpool which crushed everything to pieces, and, sweeping on once more, made a jam at the railroad bridge.

Here, as the waters went down, the mass caught fire, and although there were still some living creatures caught in the ruins, they could not be saved. Money, food, clothing, physicians, and nurses were sent on as rapidly as possible, but the flood of Johnstown will never be forgotten by any who saw or heard it.

During that same month another misfortune visited the United States. This was a huge fire at Seattle, which destroyed nearly all the business part of the town; but fortunately, in this case, very few lives were lost.