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 Wonderful Invention

The country was in such a bad state, toward the end of Washington's first term, that he saw there was as yet little chance of his going back to Mount Vernon to rest. Besides, his friends insisted that as he had so often sacrificed his own wishes for the good of his country, he really could not desert her now, at such a time of need. Thus it came to pass that Washington served as President for two terms, or from 1789 to 1797, although he would rather have lived quietly at home.

During these eight years he lived first in New York and then in Philadelphia, for, although Congress had decided that the future capital of the United States should be on the Potomac, it was not to be ready until 1800. Still, in 1793 Washington went there to lay the corner stone of the Capitol, the future home of Congress, in the city which bears his honored name.

It was during the President's second term that streets were laid out in Washington, in the midst of swamps and forests. At first, the Capitol, and the White House, or the home of the President, stood nearly alone in this "city in the woods," but soon other buildings rose like magic around them, and now Washington is justly considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It occupies the small District of Columbia, which is governed by Congress.

Washington D.C.


Many very interesting events happened in America while Washington was President. For instance, in 1791 and 1792, two new states, Vermont and Kentucky, were admitted to the Union, and the American flag was adorned with two new stripes and two more stars. In 1796, Tennessee was also admitted, but our flag kept fifteen stars and fifteen stripes for many years. When several more states had joined the Union, Congress decided that it was impossible to keep adding stripes. It was therefore settled that the flag should always have thirteen stripes, to represent the thirteen colonies, and one star for each state.

At about this time, General Greene's widow was once journeying southward, to return to the plantation her husband had received from Georgia. On board the ship she met Eli Whitney, a young Yale graduate, who was on his way to teach in a planter's family in Georgia.

Eli Whitney had always been eager to learn all about machinery. Even when a mere child, he carefully took his father's watch apart, and put it together again, while the rest of the family were at church. This was done so cleverly that the watch went on running as well as before, and no one would have known it had been taken to pieces, had not the lad confessed it.

When he grew older, Whitney made many useful inventions, and, as his father could not afford to send him to college, he began making nails, and thus earned enough money to study at Yale. Once, while there, he borrowed a carpenter's tools to make some handy contrivance. The man, watching his deft fingers, cried: "There was one good mechanic spoiled when you came to college!"

On landing in Savannah, Whitney was greatly disappointed to find his place filled by another man. But Mrs. Greene kindly invited the homeless traveler to her plantation. While there, Whitney heard her complain of her embroidery frame, and made her such a good one that she was greatly delighted with it.

One day, in 1793, some planters remarked in Mrs. Greene's presence that if a machine could only be invented which would separate cotton from its seeds, the Georgians would soon be rich. The lady promptly answered that if the machine could be made, she was sure Mr. Whitney was the man to do it, for he was very clever. Encouraged by her praise, Whitney now sent for cotton in bolls, and, locking himself up in an old outhouse, worked patiently until he made the first "cotton gin "or "cotton engine."



Although he had to draw all his own wire and make his own tools, Whitney nevertheless patiently overcame every difficulty. The new machine, when tested, was found so useful that with it a slave could do about three hundred times as much work in the same space of time as before. The news of this wonderful invention spread abroad, and created such a sensation that people actually broke into the shed where the cotton gin was kept. They stole it, copied it, and before long began manufacturing other machines nearly like it.

Whitney tried to stop them by taking a patent, but all in vain. The machine was too useful, and although he objected, the Southerners went on making cotton gins. When Whitney finally appeared in court to ask for help, he was insulted and sent away, and never got any real satisfaction, although it was often, promised him.

Thus the man who made the Southern planters rich reaped no money reward from the invention which was to give work to millions" of hands. He was, however, more fortunate in his next venture, a cheap way of making gun stocks, for the government gave him a large contract for firearms; he was well paid for this work, and made a fortune. And although his grandest invention, the cotton gin, brought him no money, it won for him great glory, and, what is by far the best of all rewards, the feeling that he had helped his fellow-creatures, and made their work easier.

Still, Whitney's invention did some harm for a while. The planters, seeing they could now make much money by growing cotton, bought more and more slaves. Many negroes were obtained in Africa from cruel slave traders, who brought them down to the coast in droves. They were then taken aboard vessels, where they were sometimes crowded so closely, and had so little air, that many of them died and were buried at sea.

Cotton field


The rest, after great suffering, landed at some Southern port, and were taken to a slave market, where they were sold at auction just as if they had been sheep, or articles of furniture. Both men and women were forced to work in the cotton fields, and if they did not do as much work as their master or his overseer expected, they were sometimes whipped.