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

Jackson's Presidency

Jackson was President two terms. About this time, Congress passed a law laying a high tariff, or duty, on goods brought from abroad, for the purpose of giving an advantage to home manufacturers. This law pleased the people in the North, because they manufactured many things, and wanted the Americans to buy from them rather than from European merchants. But in the South, where there were no manufactories then, people were angry, because they said that Northern goods were not so fine as the European, and that they already paid enough for all that came from abroad.

The result was that, in 1832, South Carolina said the law should be null, or of no force, in her limits. She claimed that, according to the Constitution, Congress had no right to make it, and announced that she would rather leave the Union than pay the tariff. Now, some members of Congress said that this question ought to be decided by the Supreme Court, and not by the states, and that a state, having once joined the Union, could not leave it without the consent of the rest of the states; but others, and among them the eloquent Southerners, Calhoun, and Hayne, insisted that each state had the right to annul any law it considered unconstitutional, and even to leave the Union.

South Carolina was of the latter opinion, but Jackson was not, and we are told that when he heard the "Nullification Act" had been passed by South Carolina, he flew into a great rage, dashed his corncob pipe on the floor, and cried: "By the Eternal! I'll fix 'em! Send for General Scott."

General Scott was then promptly sent to Charleston to see that the tariff law should be obeyed. Still, the two opinions on state rights were so strongly rooted that neither party could convince the other. It was therefore finally agreed that while the tariff should be collected at all the ports of the country to please the North, it should be lowered little by little so as to please the South.

In settling this question, however, several famous speeches were made, among them one by Daniel Webster, who said that the Constitution was greater than any state, being "made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people." On that occasion also he spoke of "Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable," a phrase which became the watchword of a great part of the country. This was Jackson's feeling also, so at a dinner party he once gave the toast: "Our Federal Union: it must be preserved."

President Jackson, or "Old Hickory," as his soldiers called him, was very fond of having his own way; and while he had many devoted friends, he also had some bitter enemies. As he did not call meetings of his regular Cabinet, but instead listened to the advice of a few other men, these were scornfully called, by his enemies, the "kitchen cabinet."

It was probably by advice of the "kitchen cabinet" that Jackson decided not to continue the United States Bank, but to send the money to different states, to be placed in what were called "pet banks." This change caused some trouble, for people borrowed that money and used it in rash ways, hoping to get rich very fast.

Jackson had two Indian wars to carry on while he was President. One was the Black Hawk War (1832), in Illinois and Wisconsin, where the Indians, after selling their lands, obstinately refused to give them up to the settlers. The other was the Florida or Seminole War which began in 1835. The Seminole Indians had been beaten by Jackson himself some time before, and after the purchase of Florida they had consented to give up their land and go to the other side of the Mississippi.

Still, when the time came for them to move, their chief, Osceola, would not go, and defiantly drove his knife into a table, saying: "The only treaty I will execute is with this." His influence was so great that the Seminoles rose up in arms and began to massacre all the whites. They surprised and killed one officer at dinner, and surrounded another in Wahoo Swamp, where he was slain with more than a hundred men.

The Seminoles next retreated into the Everglades, where several battles took place. Finally they were beaten at Lake Okeechobee. Osceola, having been treacherously seized in the meantime under a flag of truce, was imprisoned in Fort Moultrie, near Charleston, where he died and was buried. The Indians, however, continued fighting, but were finally forced to submit. Many of them were then removed to the Indian Territory, so that the white people in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama need no longer dread their presence.

During this Seminole War, which lasted until the year 1842, there was one engagement in which all the officers but one were soon killed. Bravely heading what was left of his troop, this young man cried: "Follow me! I'm the only officer left, boys; but we'll all do the best we can." Doing his best he bravely died, but if his last words serve as a motto for every American boy and girl, our country will become greater than ever.