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

New Inventions

While Jackson was President, he called upon France to give the five millions she had agreed to pay for damages caused to American ships. This the French did not wish to do, and if England had not interfered there might perhaps have been war.

A story of the time, however, claims that war nearly resulted simply because the French ambassador sent to discuss this question of money with the President knew so little English, and Jackson, on his part, did not know a word of French. After exchanging the usual greetings, we are told that the ambassador began in halting speech: "Mr. President, France demands dat dis matter be arranged." Jackson, hearing the word "demands," sprang to his feet with clenched fists, crying: "France demands!  Let me tell you, sir, that France has no right to demand anything from the United States!"

The Frenchman, who thought that "demand "meant "ask" in English as well as in French, gazed at the President in utter amazement, and had not a third person hastened to explain matters, the interview might have had a stormy close. But when the President heard that the ambassador meant that France was anxious to have the matter closed, he sat down again quietly, saying: "Oh! if France asks  anything, I am, of course, always ready to grant it if I can."



It had seemed, for some time past, as if every year some new and important change was taking place. The discovery of coal and the building of canals and railroads were great improvements; besides, steamboats now ran along all the principal rivers, and had even begun to cross the Atlantic. In 1839, the express business began in a small way, and before long goods could be sent quickly from one place to another with little trouble.

One of the greatest improvements, however, was brought about by the McCormick reaper, which was patented about ten years before it came into much use. Until then, the broad acres of the West had not paid well, for farmers could not get hands enough to cultivate the fields where wheat grew so well. Of course, they could do their plowing and sowing little by little; but when harvest time came, the grain had to be cut quickly if they did not wish to lose most of their crop. With the reaper, one man could do the work of many; and farmers soon found that they could send their grain by canal, river, or train to the principal ports, and thence to Europe, where breadstuffs were scarcer than in America.

Women's work, too, had grown far easier than in colonial or Revolutionary times. Spinning and weaving were now done by machine in large mills; cooking was made simpler by the discovery of coal and gas and the invention of friction matches; and even sewing and knitting took far less time since they could be done by machinery. The Patent Office was so busy registering all the new inventions made, that it had to have a large force of clerks.

Countless other discoveries were soon to make life still easier and pleasanter. For instance, a few years later, a man named Goodyear, after many experiments, found how to "vulcanize" rubber, thus preventing it from melting in summer and freezing or breaking in winter. Before long, clothes, shoes, diving dresses, and countless other articles were made of rubber, which is so useful in many ways that we could hardly get along without it.

The country had been growing so rapidly, and so many improvements had been made, that when Jackson left the White House he said: "I leave this great people prosperous and happy." But the prosperity of our twenty-six states was to suffer a severe check, for no sooner had Martin Van Buren become President than the panic of 1837 began. You see, people had tried to become rich too fast, too much paper money had been issued, and when suddenly called on to pay their debts, so many business houses failed that many men were out of work. In New York, where the merchants had already lost heavily by the great fire of 1835, there was such distress that "bread riots" took place among the hungry people.

Then, too, the Canadians revolted against Great Britain, and, as many Americans remembered the War of 1812 and still hated the British, they wished to help the rebels. Neither Jackson nor Van Buren would allow this, however, and General Scott was sent to guard the frontier and prevent our citizens from taking any part in the war.

In spite of this, a few Americans managed to disobey. They even put arms on board a vessel in the Niagara River, to ship them to Canada. But the British, warned in time, seized the vessel, set it on fire, and, cutting it adrift, saw it poise a moment at the head of the Niagara Falls, and then plunge down into the abyss!

The money troubles during Van Buren's rule were thought by many people to be his fault; so when the time came for a new election, General William Henry Harrison was chosen President in his stead. He had governed the Northwest Territory, had fought in the War of 1812, and on account of his victory over the Indians was known as "Old Tippecanoe."

A good and honest man, the chief fault his enemies could find with him was that he had lived in a log cabin instead of a palace, and had drunk hard cider instead of champagne. His friends, however, admired him all the more on this account, and carried little log cabins in all their parades, using "hard cider "as a rallying cry. They also liked the candidate for Vice President, and the rhyme "Tippecanoe and Tyler too," was soon heard on all sides.

After meetings and parades without end, Harrison was duly elected, and his friends began to crowd around him clamoring for government places. Wishing to please them all, Harrison worked so hard that one month after his inauguration (1841) he died. His last words were: "The principles of the government, I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more."