True Stories of Our Presidents - Charles Morris

George Washington

The First President of the United States

[Illustration] from True Stories of Our Presidents by Charles Morris


Very many years ago, on the twenty-second day of February, of the year 1732, a little boy was born in an old-fashioned farm-house down in Virginia. On this farm, or plantation, as it was called, tobacco was grown, instead of wheat or corn, and this was sent to England to be sold.

The name of the child's father was Augustine Washington. His mother's name was Mary. They gave him the name of George Washington, a name now known to everybody.

When George was a very small boy his father died, and he was brought up by his mother in an old farm-house on the Rappahannock River, just opposite the town of Fredericksburg.

The boy grew up to be honest, truthful, obedient, bold and strong. He could jump the farthest, run the fastest, climb the highest, wrestle the best, ride the swiftest, swim the longest of all the boys he played with. They all liked him, for he was gentle, kind and brave; and always told the truth.

When a boy grows up and gets to be a great and famous man many stories come to be told about him, some of which are not true. Here is a story which is often told about Washington, though no one knows whether it is true or not.

It is said that Mrs. Washington had a fine colt, which she hoped would grow into a very fast horse. But it was wild and had never been ridden, and the men on the plantation were afraid to get on its back. George was now a well-grown boy and a good rider, and he said that he could ride the colt.

Mary Ball


He did ride it, too, so the story goes. The wild creature did all it could to throw him off, but he kept on its back and rode it around the field. In the end the animal grew so violent that it burst a blood vessel and fell dead. George was very sorry, but he went straight to his mother and, told her the truth.

She looked at him a moment, then she said: "I am sorry to lose the colt; but I am very glad to have my son tell me of his fault."

Such is the story. It may not be true, for young boys do not ride wild colts; but it helps us to know what kind of a boy Washington was.

When young Washington was sixteen years old he gave up going to school and became a surveyor. A surveyor is one who goes around measuring land, so that men can know just how much they own, and just where the lines run that divide it from other people's land.

This work kept George out of doors most of the time, and made him healthy and big and strong. He went off into the woods and over the mountains, surveying land for the owners. He was a fine-looking young fellow then. He was almost six feet tall, was strong and active, and could stand almost, anything in the way of out-of-door dangers and labors, He had light brown hair, blue eyes and a frank face, and he had such a firm and friendly way about him, although he was quiet and never talked much, that people always believed what he said, and those who worked with him were always ready and willing to do just as he told them.

French Indian


He liked the work, because he liked the free life of the woods and mountains, and his work was so well done that some of it holds good to-day. He liked to hunt and swim and ride and row, and all these things and all these rough experiences helped him greatly to be a bold, healthy, active and courageous man, when the time came for him to be a leader and a soldier.

People thought so much of him that when trouble began between the two nations that then owned almost all the land in America, he was sent with a party to try and settle a quarrel as to which nation owned the land west of the mountains.

These two nations were France and England. They were far beyond the Atlantic Ocean. Virginia and all the country between the mountains and the sea, from Maine to Georgia, belonged to the King of England. There was no President then, and there were no United States, for all this country was under the rule of far-off monarchs.

George Washington went off to the western country and tried to settle the quarrel, but the French soldiers would not settle it as the English wished them to. They built forts in the country, and said they meant to keep it all for the King of France. It was a long and dangerous journey that young Washington made, through hundreds of miles of woods, with rivers and mountains to cross, and among Indians who tried to kill him. But he came back safe—after crossing a great river full of floating ice and going through other perils—and told the Governor of Virginia what the French had said.

Washington was soon sent out again, this time with a party of soldiers. He fought with the French and Indians, but there were too many of them for his few men. The King of England was very angry when he learned that the French were building forts on what he said was his land, though nobody really owned it but the Indians.

He determined to drive them away, and sent soldiers from England to fight them. They were led by a general named Braddock, who knew all about war in Europe and had plenty of courage, but had never fought in such a land as America, where there were great forests and Indians, and other things very different from what he was used to. But he thought he knew all about war, and would not listen to what anyone told him. Poor Braddock paid dearly for his conceit.

Braddock's defeat


George Washington knew that if General Braddock and the British soldiers wished to whip the French, and the Indians who were on the French side, they must be very careful when they were marching through the forests to battle. He tried to make General Braddock see this too, and to tell him what to do, but the British general thought he knew best, and told Washington to mind his own business.

So the British soldiers marched through the forests as if they were parading down the streets of London. They looked very fine, but they were not careful of themselves, and one day, in the midst of the forest, the French and Indians, who were hiding behind trees waiting for them, began to fire at them from the thick, dark woods.

The British were caught in a trap. They could not see their enemies. They did not know what to do. General Braddock was killed; so were many of his soldiers. They would all have been killed or taken prisoners if George Washington had not been there. He knew just what to do. He fought bravely, and when the British soldiers ran away he and his Americans kept back the French and Indians, and saved what was left of the army.

But it was a terrible defeat for the soldiers of the King of England. He had to send more soldiers to America, and the war went on for years. Washington was kept busy fighting the Indians, to save the lives of the poor settlers on the borders. In the end the French were defeated, and had to give up all their land in America to the English. That was the war which is called the French and Indian War.

Washington had been so brave that the Legislature of Virginia spoke in very great praise of his services. Washington was there and rose to thank them, but he was so confused that he blushed, stammered, trembled and could not speak.

"Sit down, Mr. Washington," said the Speaker. "Your modesty equals your valor, and that is greater than any language I can use."

Soon after this Washington married. His wife, whose name was Martha Custis, brought him a large fortune, and he had a good deal of property of his own. They went to live in a beautiful house on the banks of the Potomac River, in Virginia. It is called Mount Vernon. It was Washington's home all the rest of his life. The house is still standing, and people nowadays go to visit this beautiful place, just to see the spot that everyone thinks so much of because it was the home of Washington.

Washington showed himself as good a farmer as he had been a soldier. Daily he rode over his great estate, and everything he had to do with went on like clockwork. He was prompt, careful, and full of method, fond of his work and of hunting with horse and hounds, and would have liked nothing better than to spend all his life at Mount Vernon. But that was not to be, for a new war was coming on, and the farmer had to buckle on his old sword again.

The trouble came from King George of England, who was not satisfied with the way things were going in the colonies. He tried to make the people pay him more money in taxes than they thought was right and just. The Americans said that the king was acting very wrongly toward them, and that they would not stand it.



They did not. When the king's soldiers tried to make them do as the king ordered, they said they would die rather than yield, and in a place called Lexington, in Massachusetts, there was a fight with the soldiers, and another at Concord. The British had to hurry back to Boston, and many of them were killed.

This is what is called rebellion. It made the king very angry, and he sent over ships full of soldiers to punish the rebels. The men in the colonies said they would fight the soldiers if the king tried to make them do as he wished. So an army gathered around Boston, and there they had a famous battle with the king's soldiers, called the Battle of Bunker Hill, in which they showed how well they could fight.

The leading men in the colonies saw that they must put a brave man at the head of their army, and for this they chose Washington, whom they knew to be one of their best soldiers.

Washington rode all the way from Philadelphia, where he then was, to Cambridge, in Massachusetts, on horseback, for they had no steam-cars or steam-boats in those days, and there was no other way to travel. As he was riding through Connecticut, with a few soldiers as his guard, a man came galloping across the country, telling people how the battle of Bunker Hill had been fought. The British soldiers had driven the Americans from the fort, he said, but it had been hard work for them.

Washington stopped the rider, and asked him why the Americans had given up the fort.

"Because they had no powder and shot left," replied the messenger.

"And did they stand the fire of the British guns as long its they could fire back?" asked Washington.

"That they did," replied the horseman. "They waited, too, until the British were close to the fort, before they fired."

That was what Washington wished to know. He felt certain that if the American farmer boys who stood out against the king's soldiers did not get frightened or timid in the face of the trained soldiers of the king, that they would be the kind of soldiers he needed to win with.

He turned to his companions and said: "Then the liberties of the country are safe," and he rode on to Cambridge to take command of the army.

It was July 3, 1775, when he took command of the American forces. He was then forty-three years of age, tall, stately, dignified, noble in face, and a soldier all through. In his continental uniform of blue and buff he sat his horse under a shady elm, and drew the sword with whose help he hoped to make his country free. Yet years were to pass, and many sad days to come and go, before he would succeed.

We cannot tell here the story of this long and terrible war, nor even of all Washington had to do in it. There was fighting for seven years, and through it all the chief man in America, the man who led the soldiers and fought the British, and never gave up, nor let himself or his soldiers grow afraid even when he was beaten, was General Washington.

Washington and Rochambeau


If the British drove him away from one place, he marched to another, and he fought and marched, and kept his army brave and determined, even when ragged and tired, and when everything looked as if the British would be successful.

He drilled his army of farmers at Cambridge and forced the British to leave Boston without having to fight a battle. But he did not always have such good luck as that. They defeated him at Brooklyn, on Long Island, and made him leave New York, and chased him across New Jersey. But when all looked dark for the Americans, he led his army, one terrible winter's night, across the Delaware River and fell upon the British, when they were not expecting him, and won the Battle of Trenton, taking many prisoners. After that the Americans felt in much better spirits.

But there were many hard and bitter days for George Washington through those years of fighting. A winter came in which the British soldiers seemed victorious everywhere. They held the cities of New York and Philadelphia, and the small American army was half-starved, cold and shivering at a place in Pennsylvania called Valley Forge. When their log huts were all covered with snow, and they had hardly clothes enough to keep them warm, or food to keep them from being hungry, it was not easy for the soldiers to see victory ahead. If it had not been for Washington, the American army would have melted away during that dreadful winter at Valley Forge.

But he held it together, and when spring came marched away with it from Valley Forge, following the British, who had been forced to leave Philadelphia, where they had been living well all winter. Part of his army was attacked by the British at a place called Monmouth Court House, and was almost beaten and driven back, when General Washington came galloping up. He stopped the soldiers who were running away; he brought up other soldiers to help them, and he fought so boldly and bravely, and was so determined, that at last he drove off the British, and won the won the battle of Monmouth.

You see, Washington would not give up when people told him he would have to, and that the British would get all the cities and towns. He said that the country was large, and that, sooner than give in, he would go with his soldiers into the mountains and keep up the war until the British were so sick of it that they would finally go away.

So he kept on marching and fighting, and never gave up, even when things looked worst, and at last, on the 19th of October in the year 1781, he captured a whole British army, commanded by Lord Cornwallis, at a place called Yorktown, in Virginia. That brought the war to an end.

Cornwallis surrenders


So the United States won their freedom. They have been a great nation ever since, and every American, from that day to this, knows that they became a free people because they had such a great, brave, noble, patriotic, strong and glorious leader as General George Washington.

After the Revolution was over, and Washington had said good-bye to his soldiers and his generals, he went back to Mount Vernon and became a farmer again. He was glad enough of the chance, for he loved a quiet life, and he hoped now to spend the rest of his days in quiet on his farm.

But the people of America would not let him stay a farmer. They were not done with him yet. A convention met in Philadelphia, and, after much thought and talk, they drew up a paper that said just how the new nation should be governed. That is called the Constitution of the United States. It declared that, instead of a king, the people should choose a man to be the head of the nation for four years at a time. He was to preside over the affairs of the nation and be chief ruler, and so he was called the President.

When the time came to elect the first President, there was one man in the United States that everybody wanted. This man was George Washington, to whom the people felt that they owed their liberty. It was a great day for the new nation when he was declared President. All along the way, as he rode from Mount Vernon to New York, people came out to welcome him. They fired cannon and rang bells, and made bonfires and put up arches and decorations; little girls scattered flowers in his path and sang songs of greeting, and whenever he came to a town or city every, one marched in procession, escorting Washington through their town.

When he got to New York, after he had crossed the bay in a big rowboat, he went in a fine procession to a building called "Federal Hall," on Wall Street, and there he stood, on the front balcony of the building, in face of all the people, and, with his hand on an open Bible, he said he would be a wise and good and faithful President. Then the judge who had read to him the words he repeated, lifted his hand and cried out: "Long live George Washington, President of the United States!" A flag was run up to the cupola of the hall, cannon boomed, bells rang, and all the people cheered and cheered their hero and general, whom they had now made the head of the whole nation.

So George Washington became President of the United States. He worked just as hard to make the new nation strong and great and peaceful, as he had done when he led the army in the Revolution. People had all sorts of things to suggest. Some of these things were foolish, some were wrong, and some would have been certain to have broken up the United States, and lost all the things for which the country fought in the Revolution.

But Washington was at the head. He knew just what to do, and he did it. From the day when, in the City of New York, he was made President, he gave all his thought and all his time and all his strength to making the United States united and prosperous and strong. And when his four years as President were over, the people would not give him up, but elected him for their President for another four years.

When Washington was President, the Capital of the United States was first at New York, and afterward at Philadelphia. Washington and his wife, whom we know of as Martha Washington, lived in fine style, and made a very noble-looking couple. They gave receptions, to which the people would come to be introduced and to see the man of whom all the world was talking. Washington was then a splendid-looking man. He was tall and well-built. He dressed in black velvet, with silver knee and shoe buckles; his hair was powdered and tied up in what was called a "queue." He wore yellow gloves, and held his three-cornered hat in his hand. A sword, in a polished white-leather sheath, hung at his side, and he would bow to each one who was introduced to him. He had so good a memory, that, if he heard a man's name and saw his face at one introduction, he could remember and call him by name when he met him again. But though he was so grand and noble, he was very simple in his tastes and his talk, and desired to have no title, like prince or king or duke, but only this—the President of the United States.

Washington's mother and Lafayette


His second term as President was just as successful as his first four years had been. He kept the people from getting into trouble with other countries; he kept them from war and danger, and quarrels and losses. But it tired him out, and made him an old man before his time. He had given almost all his life to America.

When his second term was ended, the people wished him to be President for the third time. But he would not. He wrote a long letter to the people of America. It is called "Washington's Farewell Address." He told them they were growing stronger and better, but that he was worn out and must have rest. He said also that if they would be wise and peaceful and good, they would become a great nation; and that all they had fought for and all they had gained would last, if they would only act right. If they did this they would become great, united and powerful.

So another man was made President, and Washington went back to his farm at Mount Vernon. He was the greatest, the wisest and the most famous man in all America. People said it was because of what he had done for them that their country was free and powerful and strong. They said that he was "The Father of his Country," and was "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." But what pleased him most was to get back to his quiet life at Mount Vernon, and be done with courts and armies. He found very much to do, and he mended and built and enlarged things and rode over his broad plantations, or received in his fine old house the visitors who came there to see the greatest man in all America, and lived a very happy and peaceful life.



There came a time when he thought he would have to give up this pleasant life and go to be a soldier once more. For it seemed as if there would be war between France and the United States, and Congress begged Washington to take command of the army once more. He was made lieutenant-general and commander-in-chief, and hurried to Philadelphia to gather his army together. Fortunately the war did not occur, and the new nation was saved all that trouble and bloodshed. But Washington was ready, if needed. So he went back again to his beloved Mount Vernon. But he did not live long to enjoy the peace and quiet that were his right. For one December day, as he was riding over his farm, he caught cold and had the croup. He had not the strength that most boys and girls have to carry hint through such a sickness. He was worn out, and, though the doctors tried hard to save his life, they could not, and in two days he died. It was a sad day for America—the twelfth day of December, in the year 1799.

All the world was sorry, for all the world had come to look upon George Washington as the greatest man of the time. Kings and nations put on mourning for him, and, all over the world, bells tolled, drums beat, and flags were dropped to half-mast, when the news came that Washington was dead.

More than a hundred years have passed since then, but the memory of Washington is loved as much as he was loved himself when alive. In the country he set free cities and towns and a State have been named after him, and there are fine statues to his honor in the cities, and streets and buildings bear his name, and beautiful old Mount Vernon, where he lived and died, is a place which all Americans love to visit.

No man nobler and purer than George Washington ever lived in America, and if you want to grow up good and noble men and women you cannot do better than to read the life of Washington, and try to be like him.

John Adams

The Second President



What do you think of a history written in letters? Some persons' histories are all written that way, and that is the way a great deal of John Adams's life was written. His wife was a fine letter writer, and so was he, and as they had to live apart for years, they kept writing to one another. These letters have been kept and published and good ones they are. They tell us much about the stirring times of the Revolution that we would not know only for them. I shall have to give you some passages from these letters as I go on.

The name of Adams is a great one in American history. Sam Adams has been called the "Father of the Revolution." He was a Boston man and a cousin of John Adams. It was he that set the people to throw the tea overboard; and when the British marched to Lexington they went there to catch him, but they didn't. They caught something a good deal worse.

John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams both became Presidents of the United States. His grandson. Charles Francis Adams, was an able statesman, who was once minister to England and was once nominated for Vice-President; and his great-grandson, another Charles Francis Adams, is one of our leading railroad men. I do not know any other family in America which can show four generations of such able men.

John Adams was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, on October 19, 1735. This place is on the south shore of the great bay which is now known as Boston Harbor. His father had a small farm in the poor and rocky New England ground, where it took a good deal of hard digging and scratching to make a small living. While the little fellow was helping to chop wood, and clear away snow, and look after the horses and cows, and work in the fields, I doubt if any dream came to him that he would one time live in a great mansion and rule over a great nation. There is a thick cloud over the future, and it is often well that we cannot see through it.

The boy did his share of work; but he had his share of fun, too; for he was a healthy and wholesome little fellow. In the winter there were skating and sleighing, and in the summer there were fishing in the streams, and hunting in the woods, and plenty of boyish sports besides. He went to school in a little old school-house near his home, but he was fonder of play than he was of books. When he got old enough, his father asked him what he would rather do; go to college, or go to work; and what work he would like.

"I think I would rather try farming," said John.

Very well, you may go to work in the fields."

John did go to work next day, working from sunrise to sunset, as farmers did in those days and long after. That was real work; it was not half play, as he had been used to. He came home at night hungry, and thirsty, and tired, and dusty, and stiff as an old log.

"I think I would rather go to work among the books," he said, with his eyes on the ground, for he was ashamed to look his father in the face.

"Very well. This is what I want you to do; to go to college and get an education."

And to Harvard College he went. He graduated in 1755, just as the French and Indian War began, and when Washington and Braddock were marching over the mountains to find the Indians waiting for them behind the trees.

The young college graduate did not know what to do any more than before. He tried school-teaching, but soon got tired of that. Then he had one notion to be a minister, and another to be a lawyer. He was restless and uneasy and often out of spirits. For a time he was eager to be a soldier and fight in the great war. But he did not care to carry a musket. He wanted to be a captain and command "a company of foot, a troop of horse."

But he soon found that no captains were wanted, so he set himself to study the law. And he studied hard and long. He had got over playing with his books. In 1758 he began to practice law. He got plenty to do, but he did not make much money, for the people of Braintree were poor and could not pay large fees. Yet he became well known as an able lawyer and a man of strong mind and clear thoughts. He had a fine sounding voice, too, and people liked to hear him speak.

In 1764 he did one of the best things of his life; he married Abigail Smith, the handsome young daughter of a clergyman of Weymouth. She was a woman in a hundred, bright, intelligent, refined, tender and loving. None of our Presidents had a better wife, and you may be sure she helped her husband greatly in the stormy times that followed. No one can write about John Adams without a very good word for his wife.

The stormy times soon began. The year after John Adams was married the British Stamp Act was passed. The king had determined to tax the Americans by making them buy stamps for their papers, and without giving them the chance to say a word about it. Then there was an uproar. No one would use a stamp or pay a penny of the tax. Adams was bitter against it. He made a great speech, telling what he thought about it. The people of America were ready to tax themselves and help the king with money, but they said that no Parliament across the seas should tax them against their will.

All the people were not on the patriot side. There were plenty of Tories, men who said the king must be right, whatever he did. But Adams had been a strong patriot from the beginning. He wrote and spoke his mind very plainly. There was nothing going on that he did not take a hand in. He wrote strong articles for the papers, and some of these were copied by the London papers and thought to be very good.

All this worried the British leaders, you may well think. They saw the sort of man that Adams was and tried to get him on their side. A good paying position was offered him, that of Advocate-General, but he would not take it, for he looked on it as a bribe to turn him away from his country.

One of the best and noblest things John Adams ever did was in 1770. He then showed that it was justice and not passion that ruled him. Have you ever read of the "Boston Massacre?" A party of soldiers were attacked by a mob, and they fired on them and some of the people were killed.

Faneuil Hall, Boston, 'The Cradle of Liberty'


This made a terrible excitement. The Bostonians were so furious that the troops had to be taken out of the city. The soldiers who fired were arrested and tried for murder. What did John Adams, the great patriot do? He became their lawyer and defended them before the court. He said it was the people and not the soldiers who were in fault.

And he won his case, too. All but two of the soldiers were set free. These two had killed men by their shots and they were sentenced to be branded in the hand. They were then set free like the others. It was a great victory for justice and for John Adams, and nobody thought the worse of him for it.

Four years now passed by and the trouble in the colonies kept getting worse. The tea that was sent to Boston was thrown overboard by the people, and it made things boil. After that more soldiers were sent to Boston and no vessels were let in or out of the harbor. That was done to punish the citizens. Business stopped, and it looked as if many of the people of Boston would starve.

By this time John Adams had become a great lawyer and had a large practice. But he set that aside in 1774, when the First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and he was elected one of the members. He had never been out of New England before, but he rode boldly and bravely away. There he was to meet George Washington and Patrick Henry and other great and famous men. In all the work done by that Congress John Adams had a hand, and he was looked on as one of its best men.

Now began those interesting letters between him and his wife, which were kept up whenever they were apart. It was a sore trial for him to leave his home. One of his letters closes with, "My babes are never out of my mind, nor absent from my heart." On the same day his wife wrote:

"Five weeks have passed, and not one line have I received. I would rather give a dollar for a letter by the post, though the consequence should be that I ate but one meal a day these three weeks to come."

Those were not the days of rapid mails and cheap postage. Boston then seemed ten times as far from Philadelphia as it is to-day. It was a million times as far away, if we consider the speed of the telegraph.

The next year another Congress met, and it had new and strong work to do. The famous fight of Lexington and Concord had been fought, and the Yankee farmers, in their homespun clothes and with their old guns in their hands, were all around Boston, with the British fast inside.

Adams was in Philadelphia again. He could not help feeling worried about his family in Braintree. He wrote to his wife, "In case of real danger fly to the woods with our children."

Soon after there were fifteen thousand armed farmers about Boston, and she wrote about the troubles and confusion of the times:

"Soldiers coming in for a lodging, for breakfast, for supper, for drinks. Sometimes refugees from Boston, tired and fatigued, seek an asylum for a day, a night, a week. You can hardly imagine how we live. Yet—

"To the houseless child of want

Our doors are open still;

And though our portions are but scant,

We give them with good will.

"Hitherto I have been able to maintain a calmness and presence of mind. I hope I shall, let the exigency of the time be what it will."

A strong, earnest, kindly soul was that of Abigail Adams, as you would see abundantly, if I could quote more from her letters.

There were weak men in Congress, as there were strong ones, and John Adams grew angry when steps of a feeble kind were taken. He was for liberty, at any cost. It did his Aleut good when George Washington, the brave Virginian, came into Congress in his uniform, before setting out for Boston. It was he who had proposed Washington for commander-in-chief. And it made his heart bound with joy the next year when Richard Henry Lee, another Virginian, brought in a resolution "that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, Free and Independent States."

John Adams could not be restrained. He sprang to his feet and warmly seconded the resolution. Congress thought that so great a resolution should be put in the best shape, so it chose five men as a committee to do this. Their names were John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston.

Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and it was so good that only a few changes were made in it. On July 2, 1776, it was brought before Congress. Some members opposed it and spoke against it. John Adams upheld it in one of the greatest speeches that Congress heard. Jefferson said of the speaker and his speech:

"John Adams was the ablest advocate and champion of independence on the floor of the House. He was the colossus of that Congress. Not graceful, not eloquent, not always fluent in his public addresses, he yet came out with a power of thought and expression which moved his hearers from their seats."

The next day he wrote a famous letter to his wife. It has often been quoted, and it is well worth quoting again: Here is its celebrated passage:

"Yesterday the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America; and a greater, perhaps, never was, nor will be, decided among men. The second clay of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to Almighty God. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of the continent to the other from this time forward, forevermore."

This is the kind of patriot John Adams was. His words have come true, but for the fourth, not the second, of July. The fourth was the day when the Declaration was signed, when Independence bell was rung, and when John Hancock, another Bostonian, who was President of Congress and wrote his name first, did it in that broad, bold hand, which he said "the king of England could read without spectacles."

Now we must go on faster. John Adams worked hard in that Congress. He was placed at the head of the War Department, which gave him plenty to do. He was chairman of very many committees. In 1777 he was selected to go to France and try and make a treaty with that country.

It was a dangerous journey he made across the ocean the next winter. The British said he was a ringleader among the rebels. If they had caught him it would have gone hard with him. They might have hung him or cut off his head.

But he went, in the frigate Boston. His oldest son, who was to be President after him, went with him. They had not been out a week before an English warship chased the Boston. Adams urged the crew to fight like heroes. They had better sink with their ship than go to a British prison. But the Boston  escaped.

After that there was a fight with a British privateer. It was a hard battle. Cannon were roaring, and when they got close enough guns began to flash and crack. Captain Tucker saw his passenger on deck and asked him to go below to a safer place. But Adams had too much fight in him. Soon after the captain saw him with a musket in his hand, firing away like a common sailor.

"Why are you here, sir," cried the captain angrily. "I am commanded to carry you safely to Europe, and I will do it." And he picked up the little man in his arms as if he had been a child, and carried him below deck.

The privateer was captured, and the Boston  kept on and got safely to France in March, 1778. But Adams got there too late for the business on which he had been sent, for Benjamin Franklin was there, and had already made the treaty,

After that John Adams spent many years in Europe. He did some good work there. One good piece of work was in April, 1782, when he got Holland to recognize the United States. For that he was made Minister to Holland. In November of that year he was one of the four men who made the treaty of peace with Great Britain. He had been in the Revolution at its start and he was in it at the close.

A great honor came to him in 1784, when he was appointed the first United States Minister to Great Britain. He had been in London the year before, helping to make a treaty of commerce. Now he stood before George III, the king, as the representative of a new nation.

The king acted like a gentleman when they met, and said something which brought from the dauntless patriot the answer:

"I must tell Your Majesty that I love no country but my own."

"An honest man will never love any other," said the king, in a gracious tone.

Adams' great love for his country was shown in what he had said years before: "Sink or swim, survive or perish with my country, is my unalterable determination."

But Adams met many cold looks in the British capital, and was very glad to get home again in 1788. He had seen his last of Europe and seen all he wanted to of foreign lands.. His wife, who had been with him, and was treated coldly by the British queen, was as glad as he to get back to the land of liberty and equal rights.

The next year a still greater honor came to John Adams, for he was selected to be the first Vice-President of the United States, as Washington was for the first President. For eight years he held this post of honor, and then, when Washington declined to serve any longer, John Adams was elected President in his place. Thomas Jefferson, his associate in the Declaration, was made Vice-President.

Adams, as President, had many difficulties to meet, as Washington had before him. The worst of these was with France, which had just gone through its great Revolution. Its new rulers wanted to see Jefferson, whom they liked, made President, and were so angry when Adams was elected that they refused to receive the new Minister he sent them.

This was a bitter insult. Then they passed a shameful decree against American commerce. It was hard for Adams, with his fiery temper, to bear all this, much as he wanted peace. It was worse when the French rulers tried to make the Americans pay them for peace. They wanted to be bribed, but Charles Pinckney, one of the envoys, cried out indignantly, "Millions for defence, but not one cent for tribute."

That was a good motto for Americans, and everybody repeated it. All over the country there was a cry for war. Adams had tried to keep peace with France, but this was more than he could stand. An army was called out, and Washington agreed to lead it. The navy was ordered to fight, and it did. It captured two French frigates and many smaller vessels. That was enough for the French. They backed down and a treaty of peace was made.

This made Adams very popular. But there were things done in his administration that made him unpopular, and when the time came for the next election he was defeated and Jefferson was elected. The old Federal party, to which Adams belonged, was going down hill, and the new Democratic party, of which Jefferson was the head, was coming up.

Adams was bitterly disappointed. He had been sure of a second term as President. He felt so sore that he would not wait at Washington to welcome the new President, which was a very unwise thing for him to do, and only served to make him more enemies.

That ended the public life of John Adams. He was never called into service again. For the rest of his life he remained at home, happy, no doubt, with his wife and family, his books and his writings. But it was hard for him to forgive his enemies; for under his greatness there was a littleness of vanity, self-conceit and obstinacy. He never could see any side but his own, and always thought himself to be right. And there were no soft, smooth ways in John Adams. He was always blunt and plain spoken, and often offended the smiling diplomats of Europe, who knew how to lie in a very courteous tone. Franklin was much better fitted to deal with them than Adams. He wrote about him, "Mr. Adams is always an honest man, often a wise one; but he is sometimes completely out of his senses."

But as he grew older he grew softer, and finally forgave them all. The bad feeling between him and Jefferson passed away, and they once more became friends. If he was not called to office again, he had the great satisfaction and pride of seeing his son President of the United States.

Then, on July 4, 1826, he closed his eyes and passed away, on the same day that Jefferson died. His last words were, "Thomas Jefferson still lives." He was mistaken. Jefferson had died a few hours before.

Thomas Jefferson

The Third President


The Writer of the Declaration of Independence

I need not ask you if you have ever heard of the "Declaration of Independence," The American who does not know about that great paper, whether he be man or boy, ought to go right back to school, for he has something still to learn. But it is not enough to know about the Declaration he should know also about the man who wrote it, the famous Thomas Jefferson.

Nearly two hundred years ago a man named Peter Jefferson married a wife and brought her to live on his plantation, which was in Virginia, near where the town of Charlottesville now stands. He named his place Shadwell, because his wife was born in a place of that name in England. A great, sturdy fellow was Peter Jefferson, as strong as three common men. And he was as sensible as he was strong, which is not always the case.

It was a fine old mansion in which the Jeffersons lived, and in which Thomas Jefferson, the oldest son, was born in the year 1743. It stood near the Blue Ridge Mountains, and from its windows one could have a fine view over mountains and forests for miles. Here the children played and studied and grew. There was quite a little flock of them, boys and girls. But, by bad fortune, their father died when Thomas was only fourteen years old, and left the mother and children to make their way alone.

The poor mother had them all to take care of now. She thought ever so much of Thomas, and let him do much as he pleased. It was well he was a good boy, and did not please to do anything that was wrong. He learned to ride, and swim, and shoot, and he was a great reader besides.



There were wild Indians about in those clays, but they did not harm the boy. Thomas got to be very fond of music, and spent many hours in learning to play the violin, or fiddle, as he called it. We are told that, instead of shooting Indians, as some people did, he played tunes for their boys to dance to, and the older Indians grew to like him very much.

The boy began to study when he was only five years old, and he kept at it as he grew older, for he was fond of reading and thinking. After his father died he was sent to a very good school, fourteen miles from his home, and two years afterward he was sent to William and Mary College, at Williamsburg, which was then the capital of Virginia. The boy had never seen even a village of twenty houses, and this little place of a thousand people must have seemed like a large city to him.

A tall, straight, slender lad was Thomas, with large hands and feet, a freckled face, and reddish hair. He was no beauty, but he had bright eyes and a very pleasant way, and he soon made friends. He studied long and hard, but when he had a holiday he spent it in hunting, and was so swift of foot that the deer had to run fast to escape him. Every night he would run a mile out of town and back again for exercise. He liked to dance, too, and did not forget his violin, and was so cheerful and genial that everybody liked him.

After he left college he studied law. And all the time he was doing this he was also taking care of his mother's large plantation, riding about the place, hunting in the woods, and keeping as busy as a bee. After he became a lawyer he had plenty to do in the courts, and he was soon elected to the Virginia legislature, where he was not long in showing how sturdy a patriot he was. Those were the days of the Stamp Act and the Tea Tax, and the other things that made Americans wish for liberty. Among the lovers of liberty there were none who went ahead of Thomas Jefferson.

In 1770 his old home at Shadwell took fire and burned to the ground when he and his mother were away. When he heard of it he was much troubled about his books, and asked the messenger who brought the news if any had been saved.

"No, massa," said the slave. "Day is all burnt up; but de fire didn't burn your fiddle. We saved dat."

No doubt the innocent negro thought that a fiddle was worth more than a houseful of law books. The fire was a serious loss. A new home had to be built, and this was a home which became famous in later years. Like Washington's home at Mount Vernon, it is a place of pilgrimage for good Americans to-day. Let us tell the story of this historic mansion, for it has a romance of its own.

In the summer of 1765 Martha Jefferson, a sister of Thomas, and a beautiful girl of nineteen, was married to Dabney Carr, the best loved of Jefferson's college classmates. Young Carr had a charming and lovable nature, and he and Jefferson were very intimate, studying law together. Even before they became brothers-in-law they were constantly in company. They had a favorite resort two miles from Shadwell, on a lonely mountain, five hundred and eighty feet in height. This was covered with trees. Some distance up its side grew a great oak under whose shade the young men made a rustic seat. Here they sat amid the green stillness, and had long and confidential talks.

What delightful chats those must have been, with nobody to hear them but the singing-birds and the squirrels. It was these hours which afterward made that spot famous in history. The two friends decided that he who died first should be buried under the favorite oak. Jefferson kept his word. His friend Carr died a few years afterward and was buried in the chosen spot. In later years it became the burial plot of the family, and when Jefferson died, full of years and honors, he was laid by the side of his friend, beneath the very soil on which they had sat and studied, and had held the long and earnest talks of their youth.

The hill was given the name of Monticello, or "Little Mountain." It had a broad, flat top which Jefferson had leveled off, and here he built a handsome manor-house which has ever since been known as Monticello. It is a charming old place, with its dome and its pillared porticos, and the clock and weather dial on its front porch, and with its large and beautiful rooms, and its magnificent views.

It was built of brick made on the place, and all the timber was cut and shaped from trees on the ground. Jefferson planned the house himself, and much of the furniture was made on the place, from designs of his own. Near by Monticello is the University of Virginia, which was built after his plans, and a little farther away is the old Virginian town of Charlottesville. Beside the carriage road, leading up to the hill-top and the mansion, visitors may see the grave of Jefferson, with its modest monument.

The young planter had need of a home, for he was going to be married. He had been deeply in love with a pretty girl when he was a boy at college; but she married some one else, and left him to get over his love. This time, like Washington, he fell in love with a widow, and, like Washington's wife, she was named Martha. She was beautiful, she was young, and she was wealthy, for she owned forty thousand acres of land and a large number of slaves. So by marrying Jefferson became one of the great land-holders of Virginia.

There is quite an interesting story told about how he brought his wife home. They were married on New Year's day, 1772, and set out for their home, more than a hundred miles away, in a carriage drawn by two horses. There was no better way of traveling in those days,—except by putting more horses to their carriage.

It was the middle of the winter. As they drove along it began to snow, and long before they got to their distant home the road was covered with a thick white carpet. Night came on, and it was late when they reached the "little mountain" and began to climb up the steep road to the house on the summit. When they came near there was not a light to be seen and darkness lay all around. The slaves, who did not expect their master and mistress at that hour, were all fast asleep in their cabins, and there was not a fire in the house.

A Horseman spurring his horse to arouse


What a chilly home-coming was that to the young wife! They had to go straight to bed to keep from freezing. But the next day the fires were set blazing and all was warm and cheerful, and that one gloomy night was to be followed by many happy days in the house to which they had come in the darkness and the snow.

After that Thomas Jefferson became on of the great men of the country, and I must now tell about his public life. But first, you will want to know a little about his family. There were six children, though all but one died young. Only Martha, the oldest, lived to see her father die. But he had a large family for all that, for his dear friend, Dabney Carr, who had married his sister Martha, died about this time, leaving six children—three boys and three girls. He left his wife poor, and Jefferson took her and all her children home, and brought them up as tenderly as if they had been his own. So Monticello was not wanting in young faces and young voices, and no doubt it saw plenty of the jolly pranks of boys and girls.

But while abundant life and happiness were to be seen in the mansion on the hill-top, war and ruin were fast coming on, in the country. The stupid English king was driving the people wild by his foolish ways. Jefferson was one of the leading rebels of Virginia, and when the Continental Congress was elected in 1775 he was one of the members whom Virginia sent. Only one man in Congress was as young as he, but he was known to be an able writer, and the other members looked up to him as one of their best thinkers.

It was a long journey in those days from Monticello to Philadelphia, where the Congress was held. Part of the road ran through the wilderness, and it took more than a week to get there. The day he took his seat was the day news came of the battle of Bunker Hill, and of the splendid way the "rebels "had fought. Washington was then on his way to Boston to take command of the army, and the whole country was getting ready to fight for liberty.

Congress, you may be sure, had plenty to do in those days, and Jefferson was kept busy enough. His great work was the "Declaration of Independence." No doubt all of you have read this famous document, which told England and the world that America was determined to be free. When the time came for writing this great paper, five men, three of whom were Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, were chosen to do it. But it was Jefferson that wrote it, and it was John Adams that presented it to Congress in a splendid speech. Ever since that day Jefferson has been of world-wide fame as the author of the "Declaration." You must go back in spirit to the times in which it was written to know how great a paper it was. One writer truly says, "It is the most famous state-paper in the world."



After that, Jefferson was looked upon as one of the greatest statesmen of America. Congress wished to send him to France with Dr. Franklin, but his wife was too weak to go with him, and he would not go so far away from her. He was too good a lover for that. And there was plenty for him to do at home, for Virginia had bad old laws which had come over from England, and which he set himself to have repealed. And he did, too. He fought them till they were all gone.

The people of Virginia honored him for what he had done, and chose him for their governor in 1779. I do not know if Jefferson thought this so great an honor, for Virginia was then in a sad strait. The British had got tired of fighting in the North, and were now coming South. They would soon be in Virginia, and most of its fighting men had been sent away. The Governor had great trouble to raise a few soldiers to defend the State.

Let us look at Virginia in the year 1781. In the first days of that year Benedict Arnold, the traitor, sailed up the James River with a large fleet. Jefferson was at Richmond, which had been made the capital of the new State. He hurried his family away to a place of safety, and then rode back with full speed toward the capital. On the way his horse broke down, and he had to borrow a wild colt from a farmer. Before he got to Richmond Arnold held the town.

Jefferson raised the militia for miles around, and they swarmed like hornets on Arnold's track. The traitor hurried back to his vessels and sailed away down the river, after doing a great deal of damage to the capital city—though it was a very small city then.

Now I have to tell you one of the famous adventures in Jefferson's life. There was a bold cavalry leader in the British army named Colonel Tarleton. He had long been in South Carolina fighting with Marion and Morgan and other heroes of the South. Now he was in Virginia, and thought he saw the chance for a fine piece of work. Jefferson was then at his home in Monticello, and the legislature of Virginia was at Charlottesville, three miles away. Tarleton said to himself "Here is a good chance to take the whole nest of rebels at once."

One morning before breakfast the family at Monticello saw a horseman spurring his horse wildly up the hillside. The poor animal was white with foam. They ran to the door to hear him shout out, "The British are coming! Tarleton is coming with his dragoons! You must fly for your lives!"

Jefferson questioned the messenger, and learned that Tarleton, with two hundred and fifty men, had galloped at midnight into Louisa, a town twenty miles away. They were now coming at full speed for Monticello. The news threw the family into a panic. Jefferson was the only cool one among them. He told them there was time enough, and made them eat their breakfast. Then he sent them away to a place of safety. He stayed behind, for there were precious papers which he wanted to save.

While he was getting these another messenger came rushing in, calling out that the British were coming up the mountain. Jefferson listened. There was no sound of troops to be heard. He sprang on his horse and rode to a point where he could look down on Charlottesville. All was quiet and peaceful there. It seemed like a false alarm, and he turned back homeward, hoping to get more of his papers.

A mere chance now saved Jefferson from being made a prisoner by the British. Looking down at his side, he saw that his sword was missing. It had fallen from the scabbard. He turned to search for it, and as he did so, looked back again at Charlottesville.

There was a marvelous change. The little place, just before so quiet, was now in a bustle. Armed horsemen filled its streets, and some of them were galloping along the road to Monticello. Jefferson put spurs to his horse and rode away. He was barely in time. In little more than five minutes Tarleton's men were in his house. The lost sword had saved him from capture, perhaps from death.

If any of you should go to Monticello, you will likely be shown a closed passage, a sort of tunnel, leading from the mansion to one of the outhouses, and you may be told that Jefferson escaped that way when the British were rushing in at his front door. That is what I was told when at Monticello. It is one of the fancy stories that gather round historic buildings.

Another story is told which goes to show how faithful the old Virginia slaves were to their masters. We are told that two of the old negroes were trying to save the silver by hiding it in a secret place closed by a trap-door. One of them was inside while the other handed down the precious silver. Before they had finished they heard the British bursting into the house. The slave above at once closed the trap, shutting his fellow in the close, dark, stifling place. The prisoner could easily have got out by lifting the trap-door, but he was too faithful for that. He stayed in the dark hole till the soldiers were gone, and thus saved his master's precious wares.

Tarleton's men looking for the Rebels


There is one good thing to be said in favor of Tarleton. He left Jefferson's house without doing it any great harm. That was not the case with another of Jefferson's plantations on the James River, to which a party of soldiers were sent. Here the barns and fences were burned, the crops destroyed, the cattle and horses carried off and the place left a smoking waste. The slaves were taken, also. "If they had carried off the slaves to set them free they would have done right," said Jefferson, who did not like slavery.

Now we must hurry on with our story. The next year was a sad one to Jefferson, for his beloved wife died. Before she died she made him promise never to marry again. He kept his word. He loved her too dearly to want another wife.

Soon public duties called Jefferson from home. He was sent to Congress again in 1783, and in 1784 was chosen as Minister to France, with his old friends, Dr. Franklin and John Adams. These were three of the old committee on the Declaration, now sent abroad to make treaties with foreign nations.

Jefferson remained five years abroad. They were stirring years. The great French Revolution was coming on, and everybody in France was talking about liberty and the rights of man. What he saw and heard in France made him a greater lover of human rights than ever. While he was in Paris he never forgot his country. He was always sending home seeds, plants, roots, everything which he thought would be of use to grow in American soil.

It was 1789 when Jefferson came home. Washington had just been made President and had appointed him Secretary of State. It was an honor he did not want. He tried hard to beg off, but Washington wanted the best men of the country in his Cabinet, and persuaded him to accept.

Jefferson spent five years in Washington's Cabinet, but those were not happy years. There were men at that time who would have liked to have a king over this country. Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, was one of these. Jefferson was a strong democrat, and he and Hamilton did not get on well together. There were quarrels in the Cabinet, and in January, 1784, Jefferson gave up his office and went home to Monticello.

Jefferson was like Washington in one thing; he was fond of home life and of farming. He had a great taste for landscape gardening and for architecture, and was never more happy than when he was improving and beautifying his grounds. And he had abundance of company, for many guests were glad to visit and talk with the great statesman, and every hour brought him pleasant occupation.

He would have liked to spend his life at Monticello, busily and happily engaged, but his country wanted him again, and he felt it his duty to obey. He was elected Vice-President, with John Adams as President, and for four years he spent his time again in public affairs. I doubt if he enjoyed them much, for the times were stormy and the old bad feeling between him and Hamilton kept up.

In 1800 came another change. The Democratic party, of which Jefferson was the head, had grown to be the great party of the country, and he was elected President. The country was filled with joy when the news of his election were received, for he had friends and followers in every part of the land, and the old Federal party, of which Hamilton was the head, was fast going down. The people did not want a king, nor a President with kingly power.

How would the great Democrat act? people asked. Would he go to be inaugurated in grand state and ceremony, like Washington and Adams—perhaps drawn by six cream-colored horses like Washington? Those who went to Washington to see the inauguration on March 4, 1801, must have been much surprised when, instead of a grand parade, they saw a plainly-dressed man ride up to the Capitol, without guard or servant, spring from his horse, and fasten its bridle to the fence. Then he walked to the Capitol to be inaugurated, for this was Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States. He wanted to let the people see that there was no royal pride about him. He loved simple ways and hated pomp and display. For eight years Jefferson was President. They were years full of excitement, for a great war between France and England was going on, and there was so much meddling with American ships and sailors that it was hard to keep our country from going to war, too. Yet this war did one splendid thing for America. France then held the vast country west of the Mississippi River called Louisiana. Napoleon was afraid the British would take it from him, so he sold it for a small price to the United States. That was a hundred years ago. To-day this great domain has many millions of people and great cities, and St. Louis, the greatest of its cities, is about to celebrate President Jefferson's grand work by a magnificent World's Fair.

Never was there a happier man in this country than Thomas Jefferson in 1809, when he got rid of the cares of office, and went home to his family, his books and his farm.

One great pleasure of his life was his guests. He was the most hospitable of men. People came to Monticello in a steady stream, and his house was always full. Whole families would come, and stay for months. One family of six persons came from Europe and stayed ten months. Then they went away for a time, but came back and stayed six months more. All were welcomed by the genial host, though no doubt he was often tired enough of them.

They did not only tire him, they almost beggared him. Large as was his estate, he found himself in poverty in the last year of his life. He was forced to sell his precious library, and there was danger of his losing his home. Fortunately some of his admirers came to his aid, and money was sent him to pay his debts.

The veteran had not much longer to live. He failed fast as the summer of 1826 came on. At last he had but one wish, to live until the 4th of July. This wish was granted him. About noon of July 4th the great statesman and patriot breathed his last—exactly fifty years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, and on the same day with John Adams, who was with him on the committee that made it

James Madison



Father of the Constitution

Very far back in the history of Virginia, back in its early days, we meet with the well-known names of Jefferson and Madison. In 1619, when the first legislature met in America, one of its members was a planter named Jefferson. From him came down the great Thomas Jefferson. And about that time the ship which brought the Madisons to Virginia dropped its anchor in the Chesapeake. Thus the Jefferson and the Madisons began their life in Virginia at an early date. Their descendants were close friends and neighbors all their lives.

It was on the 16th of March, 1751, that the little boy who was to be our fourth President, first opened his eyes in the world. He was born in his grandfather's house at Port Conway, King George County, Virginia, but he was still very young when he went to live on his father's great farm at Montpelier.

This place was in the beautiful country of the Blue Ridge, only twenty-five miles away from Jefferson's home at Monticello. That was almost next door in the thinly settled country of Virginia, and the two were all their life great friends.

There is not much to be said about James Madison's boyhood. He was not a bit like Washington and Jefferson. While they were busy at outdoor life, hunting, riding, working, he was as busy reading and studying. He was a homebody, fond of books, and caring very little for play and the rough sports of hearty boys. Shy and thoughtful, he seemed like a little man before he was a big boy. What do you think of a boy who could read French and Spanish while he was quite young, and who was already hard at work at Greek and Latin? I think it would have been better for him to have mixed a good deal of play with his hard study. The old saying goes that "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy." All study and no play are not much better.

When James Madison was seventeen years old he went to Princeton College, at the quiet little college town of Princeton, in New Jersey. Here he was more of a student than ever. Such a tireless bookworm has not often been seen. He wanted to know everything. He gave himself, we are told, only three hours' sleep out of the twenty-four. All other time was given to his books and his classes, none of it to play.

Carpenter's hall, Philadelphia, where the


What must the fun-loving college boys have thought of such a hopeless case as that? No doubt they made fun of him; but he went on all the same. He made himself a fine scholar, it is true, but he injured his health so that he was never strong, and passed many a miserable day in later life. That is what comes of overwork of any kind. Our bodies and our constitutions are not given us to deal with as though they were as tough as hickory wood. It is a wonder that his twenty-one hours of study in a day did not kill him in college. But he came of sound stock and lived to be an old man.

When his college life was over he studied law. He was a small-sized, pale, delicate young man, with a grave, serious face. He hardly knew what it was to laugh, and was often so miserable that he made up his mind he was near the end of his life. He was already being punished for studying too much, as others are punished for eating or drinking too much.

But Madison was a good thinker and knew well how to put his thoughts on paper. People soon learned to look on him as an able man. In 1776 his public life began, when he took part in making a constitution for the new State of Virginia, which was born that year.

The next year his name was up for election to the Virginia legislature, but he was defeated. Why? Because "he refused to treat the voters with whisky." I think you will say with me that it was an honor to be defeated on those grounds. Now-a-days money is used to get men to vote. In those days it was whisky. But very likely the money soon gets turned into whisky, and there is not much difference.

All the better people thought Madison did right not to try and win votes by making the voters drunk. He was made a member of the Governor's Council when Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson were governors, and both these great men had a high regard for him.

After Jefferson's wife died and he grew sad and lonely, he tried to get some of his friends to come and live near him, so that they could meet and have long and pleasant talks. Madison was one of these. Jefferson wanted him to take a little farm near his own, and live in a small old house on it. But Madison did not care to give up his fine home at Montpelier, and live in a rude farmhouse, even to meet and talk with Jefferson.

The young student was elected to the Continental Congress in 1780. This was a high honor for one not thirty years old, but Virginia had come to look on him as one of its great statesmen. He stayed there three years, and stormy years they were, for they were the closing years of the Revolutionary War. But he found it a splendid school in politics, even if it was a trying one for a quiet man like him.

From this time on Madison took an active part in all that went on in the new Republic. When he got back in the Virginia legislature in 1784, he and Jefferson worked hard to do away with the bad old religious laws, which made everybody pay taxes to support the Episcopal Church, which was the government church in Virginia. He did not believe in the union of Church and State, and he wrote a powerful paper against it which put an end to it in Virginia Since then religion has been free in all parts of this country, and no one can be taxed for its support. All money for religion must be a free-will offering.

And now Madison became a leader in the greatest work of the times. After the Revolution the young nation was in a sad way. It was over head and ears in debt; the States were jealous of one another; what was called the Union was no stronger than a rope of sand; it must be bound by something as strong as an iron chain or it would soon fall apart.

Madison was one of the first to see this. A strong government must be formed or there would soon be no united government at all. Washington said, "We are one nation to-day and thirteen to-morrow." Madison saw that we must form one powerful nation or we would soon break up into thirteen weak ones, which England might pick up again, one by one.

Let us see what steps were taken. The first was a meeting held at Mount Vernon in 1785 to settle disputes about the waters between Virginia and Maryland. Madison was there, and when he went back to the Assembly of Virginia he had a law passed to call a convention at Annapolis the next year to regulate commerce between the States.

Here he and Alexander Hamilton brought up the question of a stronger union of the States, and it was decided to call another convention, to meet at Philadelphia in 1787, to see what could be done to increase the powers of the Federal Government. It was his great service in bringing this about that gave Madison the proud title of "The Father of the Constitution," for it was this convention that formed the Constitution of the United States, and established in this country the powerful Union it now possesses. I am not going to tell you the story of that great convention, with Washington at its head, and Franklin, Hamilton, Madison, and other great men among its members. Never was there an abler body of men. Some of them wanted to revise the old Articles of Confederation formed during the Revolution, but Madison and Hamilton said that would be a waste of time. There must be a new system or none at all. They had their way, and the new Constitution was formed.

What took place in that convention, which sat for six months behind closed doors, we know mostly from Madison. He made notes of all that went on, and these were published after his death, and very useful reading they are.

Jones, the Naval hero


When the Constitution was offered to the country there was a desperate fight over it. Madison and Hamilton and John Jay wrote splendid essays about it, and these were published in a work called "The Federalist." And while Hamilton was fighting for it in New York, Madison was fighting for it in Virginia. Here he made the greatest speeches of his life. He had against him such splendid orators as Patrick Henry and George Mason, yet he won his cause and brought Virginia into the Union.

When the First Congress of the United States met, in the old City Hall of New York, Madison was one of its members. Washington wanted to make him Secretary of State, and also asked him to serve as Minister to France, but he declined both. He was democratic in his views, like Jefferson, and did not like Hamilton's ideas about a strong central government. But he held back, for he was never fond of controversy.

Now let us step aside a while from politics, and follow Madison into other and more flowery fields. Like Jefferson, he fell in love twice. The first time was with a pretty girl of sixteen named Catharine Floyd. The two were engaged, but the girl saw somebody she liked better and she threw her old lover aside.

Madison moped for a while, but Jefferson told him to go back to his books and he would soon forget the pretty face. Jefferson had done the same thing himself.

Eleven years passed before Madison fell in love again. He was now forty-three and the lady was a lovely young Quakeress of twenty-two. She was a very young widow, named Mrs. Dorothy Todd. Madison met her one day when he was out walking in Philadelphia and fell in love with her sweet face at sight.

He tried to get an introduction, and soon got one. We have a letter from Mrs. Todd to a friend, in which she said, "Thou must come to me. Aaron Burr says that 'the great little Madison' has asked to be brought to see me this evening."

Mrs. Todd did not throw her lover overboard. Though he was nearly twice her age, she accepted "the great little Madison." In September, 1794, the dainty young widow went to her sister's house at Harwood, in Virginia, and here soon after the wedding took place. It was a gay one, as was the habit in that old time. So pretty and sweet was the bride that in her earlier days, when she wore her quiet little Quaker gown of gray, a friend said to her: "Dolly, truly thou must hide thy face, so many stare at thee."

Dolly Madison, as she was afterward known, needs a good introduction, for she was to play a large part in American life. For sixteen years she was to be the mistress of the White House, twice as long a term as any other woman enjoyed. And a cherished and favorite mistress she was for all that time.

When Washington retired from the Presidency in 1797, Madison went home to Montpelier. There had been talk of nominating him to succeed Washington, but he positively declined. He wanted some home life. He was rich, he was famous, he was delicate, he had a charming young wife, and Montpelier was a delightful home. It lay between Jefferson's and Washington's homes, and was as comfortable a country mansion as either of these. And there were his cherished books.

Virginia currency

There he lived in peace and happiness for four years. Then Jefferson was elected President and selected Madison for his Secretary of State. For the next sixteen years he made his home in Washington, which had been made the National Capital in 1800. The new President had long been a widower, and the duties of mistress of the White House fell upon Dolly Madison. And she filled them with a charm and ease and a gracious dignity that won all hearts. She was kind and thoughtful and had a social gift and tact that made her hosts of friends. It is said that "Mrs. Madison never forgot a name or a face," and that is a faculty of rare value in high places.

For eight years Madison held his important office. France and England were then at war, and were interfering with American ships and sailors in a way that made our people very angry. It was no easy matter to keep the country out of war, but Jefferson and Madison both wanted peace, and managed to preserve it.

In 1809 Jefferson's term ended and James Madison was elected President of the United States. The hard-working student of Princeton had reached the highest post in the nation, and his wife, Mistress Dolly Madison, was now by right of position the "Lady of the White House."

There is a good story told about Madison at this time. One of the Senators was being shaved in a Washington barber shop, the morning after Madison was nominated. The barber talked as he shaved, in a way barbers have. It must be remembered that in those days men wore their hair in long queues. "This country is going to ruin, sir," confided the barber. "See what elegant Presidents we might have. There is Daggett of Connecticut and Stockton of New Jersey. What queues they have got, sir; as big as your wrist and powdered every day, like real gentlemen. Such men as this would give dignity to the office. But this little Jim Madison, with a queue no bigger than a pipe-stem, sir. It is enough to make a man forswear his country."

But little Madison was elected in spite of his pipe-stem queue, and by a large majority. He might not have been, if all the voters had been barbers.

Madison as President tried as hard to keep the country out of war as he had done while Secretary of State. But it could not be done. From taking sailors out of American merchant ships, England began to insult our men-of-war, and took steps that would ruin our commerce. Matters grew so bad that Congress declared war against Great Britain, and on June 8, 1812, President Madison signed the declaration of war.

The history of that war has very little to do with the life of the President. It was only in 1814, when the British landed an army and marched on Washington, that the war came very near to him. The militia who had gathered were sent flying, and Washington lay at the mercy of a foreign foe. Then there was a wild coming and going. Madison had to flee to save himself from capture. Mrs. Madison, left in the White House, was in equal danger. He sent her word to flee in time, but to save the Cabinet papers.

Dolly Madison now showed herself a woman of nerve. She got all the papers and the plate, but she would not leave till a large portrait of Washington, which was screwed against a wall, was secured. The cannon were sounding loudly and the British soldiers were near at hand when she got into her carriage with the papers, plate and portrait and drove away. She had not been gone long before the city swarmed with soldiers, and that night all the public buildings were in flames.

Mrs. Madison spent the night in a little tavern in an apple orchard, while a furious rain-storm raged outside. The wind was so strong that the apples were flung like musket balls against the house. Here the President joined her, but at midnight a scared courier rode up and told him that the British were close on his track. His friends made him go out into the storm, and he spent the rest of that night in a wretched hovel in the woods.

The next day word came that the British were leaving, and the fugitives made their way back. They reached Washington to find the Capitol and the White House heaps of blackened ruins. They had gone through an experience which no other American President has had anything to match.

When Mrs. Madison got to the Long Bridge on the way back, she found that it was barred at both ends. There was an officer there in charge with a ferry boat, but he did not know the lady and refused to take her across. Her husband had sent her word to go home in disguise, but after begging for a while in vain, she had to tell the officer her name. Then he ferried her and her carriage across the river, and she made her way through the desolate and ash-covered streets to the ruins of what had been her home.

A little more than two years later President Madison's second term reached its end, and he left Washington for his quiet, beautiful home at Montpelier. Here, in his "dear library," in taking care of his estate, in generous hospitality,' and in happy domestic life the scholarly Madison spent the remainder of his days. In 1829 he took part in the work of the convention to make a new Constitution for Virginia. That was his last public work. He died on the 28th of June, 1836. The delicate scholar had lived to be eighty-five years old.

His beloved wife survived him for thirteen years. She had business troubles towards the end. There had been losses. But Congress purchased her husband's valuable papers, and her difficulties came to an end. Comfort and peace lay around her later days. But there is an incident which goes to show that she was growing tired of life. One of her nieces went to her for sympathy in some slight trouble.

"My dear," said the old lady, "do not trouble about it. There is nothing in this world really worth caring for. Yes." she continued, looking intently out of a window, "I who have lived so long, repeat to you, there is nothing in this world here below worth caring for."

James Monroe



"America for the Americans"

Of all our Presidents of early tithes there is none whose name is more familiar to the newspaper reader of to-day than that of James Monroe. And that is because he was the author of a "doctrine." "The Monroe Doctrine" stands before us in big print at least a dozen times a year. Do I hear any one ask, who was Monroe, and what was his doctrine? I am about to tell you who Monroe was. His doctrine, to put it in plain English, means, "America for the Americans."

When James Monroe was President, the United States was not the great nation it is to-day, and some of the hungry powers of Europe went prowling about like wolves, thinking they might snatch up a bit of America here and there. What President Monroe said to them was, in effect, "Keep off. If you attempt to bite at America you will find a watch-dog here ready to bite back." And ever since that day the United States has been the watch-dog of America, and more than once it has shown its teeth to the hungry wolves of Europe. That is what is meant by the "Monroe Doctrine."

James Monroe had good fighting blood in his veins. He had fought by the side of Washington in the Revolution. He came of sound old Scotch stock, which had come to Virginia a century before he was born. His father was a planter who had a fine estate on Monroe Creek, a stream which emptied into the Potomac River. It was very near where Washington lived and played as a child; though he had long been fighting against the French and Indians when James Monroe first opened his eyes in his father's home, on the 18th of April, 1758.

The boy was not ten years old when the troubles with England began. No doubt he opened his blue eyes with wonder when he heard loud and angry talk about the "Stamp Act" and the "Tea Tax." He must have picked up a good many new ideas about liberty and human rights in his early school-days. When he was sixteen years old he was sent to the famous William and Mary College, where so many Virginians then got their education.

Monroe purchases Louisiana


I am afraid the boy must have been greatly disturbed in his lessons. Likely he learned some Latin and Greek, but he must have picked up a number of things not in the books. There was the Virginia Assembly meeting in the college town and talking plain treason, and no doubt he heard them. There was Patrick Henry thundering out defiance of England in the near town of Richmond. From the north came the echoes of Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill. The whole country was like a volcano, spouting fire.

The fighting blood in James Monroe was warmed up by' these events. He was a true American, and, young as he was, it was hard for him to keep at school while his country was at war for freedom. Just after he was eighteen the Declaration of Independence was signed. That was more than the eager young patriot could stand. He flung his books into his desk, said good-bye to his teachers, and rode away at full speed for New York, where he took his place bravely in the ranks of Washington's army.

These were dark days for the young republic. The trained British soldiers were carrying everything before them. Washington's army of volunteers was driven from Long Island and from New York. There were fights and retreats at Harlem Heights and White Plains, in which the boy soldier took part. Then began that miserable march across New Jersey, with the British close upon the heels of the American army.

Young Monroe must have done well in these fights, for he was promoted from a cadet to a lieutenant. But it was amid the cold and snows of that famous Christmas night of 1776, when Washington's ragged army attacked the Hessians at Trenton, that the boy soldier won his spurs. History tells us of his gallant act:

"Perceiving that the enemy were endeavoring to erect a battery to rake the American lines, he advanced at the head of a small detachment, drove the artillery men from the guns, and took possession of the pieces."

The young hero was wounded. A ball hit him in the shoulder. But Washington made him a captain for his daring deed, and that was some salve for his wound.

After that we meet with Monroe as an aide-de-camp on the staff of Lord Stirling. He was a major now, and fought in the battles of Brandywine, Germantown and Monmouth, and spent a freezing and starving winter at Valley Forge with the army. Washington had a high opinion of the young Virginian, born so near his own boyhood playgrounds. He now sent him to Virginia to organize a new regiment, of which he was to be colonel.

This proved unlucky for Monroe. Virginia had no more men to spare. She had sent Washington so many of her sons that she had to keep the few left for home defence. Monroe was disappointed. He could not enlist a regiment, and he had lost his post in the army. He was still only twenty years old when he made up his mind to go back to his books. So he began to study law under Thomas Jefferson, who was then Governor of Virginia.

In the years that followed Virginia had its share of the war. Arnold and Tarleton and Cornwallis invaded its soil. Lafayette came to defend it from its foes, and Colonel Monroe more than once shut up his law books and hurried to the front. And so it was till Washington at Yorktown scooped up Cornwallis and his men and put an end to the war. Then Monroe opened his books and went at his studies again.

He studied law, but he did not have much chance to practice it. In 1782, when he was only twenty-three, he was elected to the Assembly of Virginia and was made a member of the Governor's Council. The next year he was elected to the Continental Congress. It was then at Annapolis, and he got there in time to see a famous historic scene, when George Washington came before it to resign his commission as commander-in-chief of the army of the Revolution.

Monroe was wide awake to all that went on around him. Like Madison and others, he saw that the old Union was falling to pieces. It had been all right when there was war to hold it together, but when peace came it grew weak and shaky, and he did all he could to bring about the convention that framed the Constitution of the United States.

There was another union that young Monroe was interested in about this time. Living in New York was an Englishman named Kortright, who had been a captain in the British army, but became a good American after the war. Among his children was a beautiful and accomplished daughter named Elizabeth. Monroe met her when the Congress was in session at New York, and straightway fell in love with her. His marriage with her took place in 1786, and this union was a very close and happy one. All the Virginia Presidents seem to have found good and loving wives.

When the Constitution was formed Monroe did not like it. He thought it gave too much power to the central government, and was afraid the President might come to wear a crown and act as a king. He helped Patrick Henry fight against it in the Virginia convention, while Madison fought for it. He was wrong, as he lived to find out.

In 1790 Monroe was sent by Virginia to the Senate of the United States. He belonged to the Anti-Federalist party along with Jefferson and many others. This afterward grew into the Democratic party. He did not like the bold measures of Alexander Hamilton, who took the leading part in organizing the new government. Monroe and Madison and Jefferson and many others feared that Hamilton was trying to put a king over this country. Perhaps they were right; but the people would have had something to say about that king.

In the Senate Monroe opposed many acts of the Government. But for all that President Washington sent him to France in 1795 as United States Minister. The great general had not forgotten his old liking for his young soldier comrade.

Have you ever read the terrible story of the French Revolution—how the mob ruled Paris and France, and the guillotine cut off the heads of thousands, among them the king and the queen? This dreadful knife was still at its bloody work when Monroe reached Paris. Every day blood flowed and heads fell. But the terrible Robespierre was dead and the dark clouds were beginning to break.

It was a sight to see the handsome young American, as he stood before the National Convention, with his frank blue eyes, his fair hair, and his tall and erect figure, looking with the courage of a soldier at that dread tribunal which had dared to condemn a king and queen to death.

But Monroe got a warm welcome, and the flags of the two nations were twined together, to show the close union of the two republics. He looked upon those men, not as murderers, but as the makers of liberty, and he made a speech that was full of admiration for France. It made England very angry and was not liked by the Government at home, and the new minister, who had been guilty of talking too much, was soon called home again.

One fine thing he did. Lafayette, the friend of Washington, was then in prison in Austria. His wife, the Marchioness of Lafayette, was in prison in Paris and might be sent to the guillotine any day. Monroe sent his wife to see her and she had a pathetic interview with the sad prisoner. It is said that she was to have been executed that same afternoon and that the visit of Mrs. Monroe saved her life. She was set at liberty the next day. So much Monroe did for the old comrade by whose side he had fought in the Revolution.

Soon after his return home Monroe was elected Governor of Virginia. This high office he held until 1802, when President Jefferson sent him to France again, this time on a very important mission. The great territory of Louisiana, lying west of the Mississippi River, had just before been given by Spain to France—to please Napoleon, who could have nearly anything he asked for. One part of it the American people wanted, New Orleans and the lower Mississippi. Monroe was sent to try and buy this part of Louisiana from Napoleon.

He got to Paris just at the right time. Napoleon wanted money to fight England with. He was afraid that, when war broke out again, as it soon would, the British fleets and armies would rob him of his Mississippi lands. He had better sell them for money now than lose them for nothing soon. So when Monroe and Livingston, the American Minister at Paris, offered $2,500,000 for the island of New Orleans, word came back from Napoleon that they could have the whole vast territory of Louisiana for $15,000,000.

This offer almost took their breaths away. They had no authority to buy the great tract. But they could not wait to send to America to ask permission. That would take weeks or months, and Napoleon might change his mind. So they took the law in their own hands and closed the bargain then and there.

That was one of the great things in Monroe's life. The President and Congress were glad enough to make the bargain good; and one of the great events of 1903 and 1904 is the grand "Louisiana Purchase Exposition," held at St. Louis in memory of this splendid act of wisdom.

Monroe stayed in Europe till 1808 on political business with England and Spain, and came home much disappointed, because he could do nothing satisfactory with those two countries. A treaty he made with England the Senate would not accept, because it said nothing about taking seamen from our ships.

Honors awaited him at home. In 1811 he was again elected Governor of Virginia. Soon after that President Madison chose him for Secretary of State. Then the war with England broke out and he had his hands more than full. The President trusted everything to him, and he had more to do with carrying on that war than Madison had. After the capture of Washington by the British he became Secretary of war, also. He was just the man for the place, for the Government needed spirit just then.

The Government had no money and no credit. Monroe came to its aid, and pledged his fortune to help it in its need. He took hold of the war with a strong hand and proposed to make the army a hundred thousand strong. When England sent her great fleet and army to capture New Orleans, Monroe sent ringing orders to the southwest. He was now the soldier again, not the politician.

"Hasten your militia to New Orleans," he wrote. "Do not wait for this Government to arm them; put all the arms you have into their hands; let every man bring his rifle with him; we shall see you paid."

That was the kind of talk to inspire Jackson. The riflemen of the west rushed under "Old Hickory "to the cotton-bale ramparts, and New Orleans was saved.

Monroe served as Secretary of State till March 4, 1817, when he gave up the office to take that of President of the United States. He had been elected by the Democratic party, with one hundred and eighty-three electoral votes against thirty-four for his opponent.

For eight years he was President, and they were the quietest in American politics any President has ever known. There were no party disputes, and it was called the "era of good feeling." When he was re-elected in 1820 there was no opposition. He was the only American President, except Washington, who had this wonderful fortune. Only one electoral vote was cast against him, and that was by an eccentric member from Pennsylvania, who said that nobody but Washington should go in with a unanimous vote.

Soon after his first election Monroe made a great tour of the country. He wore the old uniform and cocked hat of the Revolution, and the people, especially the old soldiers, went wild over him. He went as far northwest as Detroit, and that was thought a great journey in those days of stage-coach travel.

The great events of Monroe's term were the purchase of Florida from Spain, the Missouri Compromise, and the Monroe Doctrine. This celebrated "Doctrine "was given in the message to Congress of December, 1823. The nations of Europe were talking of helping Spain to get back her American colonies, which had just become free. They expected to pay themselves by keeping part of those colonies. But when Monroe told them, with a fine show of politeness, that if they tried to meddle in America they would have the United States to deal with, they backed down. Since that time the Monroe Doctrine has stood like a wall of defence between America and Europe.

In 1825 Monroe went home to live in his beautiful mansion at Oak Hill, in Loudoun County, Virginia. This house, we are told, was planned for him by Jefferson, who also gave him the nails to build it with. It was a handsome brick building, with a wide portico and great columns. Around it was a grove of splendid oak trees.

His life here was happy and restful, kindly and sincere. There was plenty to occupy him. He had a large correspondence, was a Regent of the University of Virginia, and President of the Virginia Constitutional Convention. But sorrow and trouble came to him. His wife, who was still a handsome and charming woman, died in 1830, throwing him into the deepest grief. His fortune became so reduced that he was in danger of losing his home at Oak Hill. His wife's death had left this home so sad and lonely that he went to live with one of his daughters in New York. Here he died on the Fourth of July, 1831, the third of our Presidents to die on Independence Day.

John Quincy Adams


Adams, John Quincy

Scholar, Diplomat, Statesman

Many, many years ago, a grave-faced little child, five or six years old, might have been seen in Boston, looking with startled eyes on the red-coated soldiers as they marched through the streets; or listening in his father's house to the loud talk, that he did not understand, about England and King George and the Tea Party and other subjects of anger. A few years later this boy and his mother climbed to a hill-top in Braintree, where they then lived, and from there saw a terrible sight, for red flames and dark smoke were bursting from the warships in the harbor, and the roar of cannon came sounding far across the water. They saw great sheets of fire mount high into the air, for the wooden houses of Charlestown were burning furiously, and on Bunker Dill, ten miles away, the flash of shots could be seen. The first great battle in the American Revolution was being fought, and the British were learning that the Yankee farmers could fight.

After the British left Boston, this little fellow, still only nine years old, used to ride on horseback into the city to bring back to his mother the latest news. It was twenty-two miles going and coming, which was a pretty long ride for a boy of that age.

The boy we are speaking of was the oldest son of John Adams, the great patriot, who was then in the Congress at Philadelphia, helping with the famous Declaration of Independence. The boy had been born on July 1767, in the old Adams home at Braintree. When he was baptized his mother's great-grandfather, John Quincy, lay dying, and the child was given his name. So he is known to us as John Quincy Adams. A great destiny awaited him, for, like his father, he was to become President of the United States.

A grave, thoughtful little boy he was, one who would rather hear the old folks talk than play with his schoolmates, and who was to do the work of a man long before he ceased being a boy. Like his father, he was honest in grain, and like his father, he was fearless and obstinate. To the day of his death, nothing could scare him, and nothing could turn him from his course. He was a true son of his father.

The boy began life in the great world early. He was just past ten years of age when his father was sent by his country to France, and took him along. A long and stormy voyage it was; and on the way they were chased by a British war-vessel, and had a desperate battle with a privateer, in which his father wanted to help the sailors fight, but the captain would not let him.

The ship got safe through all this, and they came at length to Paris. Here little John was sent to school and put to studying French. He learned a good deal more, for when they came back, a year and a half later, we find the boy giving lessons in English to the French ambassador, who was on board the ship, He was a severe teacher, too. He would stand no idleness. And he showed so much learning that the ambassador stared at him in wonder. The boy of twelve was more than half a man already.

"He is a better teacher than you are," said the ambassador to Mr. Adams.

They did not stay home long. In three months John Adams was sent back again, and once more he took his son along. This time the boy saw more of the world, for his father traveled from Paris to Holland and met many of the leading people. Young John Quincy must have shown himself wonderfully bright, for he was in public service himself before he was fourteen years old. Francis Dana, envoy from the United States to Russia, took him as his private secretary.

I have not read in history of any other boy in so high an office while so young. But the youthful secretary did his work like a master. He stayed in Russia over a year, and then left and came back himself, traveling through Sweden and Denmark, and keeping his eyes wide open for all there was to be seen. Then he went to school again at the Hague in Holland. He had been getting his schooling in bits all along, but the school of courts was one where there was much to learn.

Soon he had other important work to do. The Revolution was over and his father and Franklin and Jefferson were chosen to make a treaty of peace with Great Britain. The bright boy became one of their secretaries, and had his share in drawing up the famous paper which settled the independence of the United States.

What do you think of a boy like this? He was just a little over sixteen, an age when boys are often in the thick of their school life. Yet for years he had been doing the work of an experienced man. Certainly history does not tell of many boys like him. In 1785, before John Quincy was eighteen, his father was appointed Minister to England. The boy had then lived seven years in Europe. He liked foreign travel; he liked the life in courts; it would be pleasant to see and talk with the famous men of England. And his mother had come to London, which made that city like home to him. Here was a charming prospect, which most boys would have jumped to take.

But John Quincy Adams was not a boy of that sort He knew he had only half an education. And when his parents gave him the choice to stay in London with them or go to America and enter Harvard College, it did not take him long to decide. He felt that he had his own way to make in the world, and to loiter about London was not the way to prepare for that, no matter how pleasant it might be. So home he came, entered college, and graduated with honor in 1787, then studied law, and began to practice when he was twenty-three years old.

South Church, Boston


The learned boy was a man at last and was launched in business. He had seen more of the world than most men ever see. He had a deep training in public affairs, and this he soon showed by writing able political papers, which were much read in America and Europe. He did not put his name to them, but it became known that he was the writer, and they showed such fine knowledge and judgment in political affairs that President Washington sent him abroad again as Minister to Holland.

It was now 1794. He was twenty-seven years old. The storm of the French Revolution was spreading all over Europe. French armies were marching through Holland, and the ruler of that country, with all the European ministers, fled before the conquerors. Adams stuck to his post. He had a hard task, between the French party on one side and the Dutch party on the other; but he kept his head level and steered between them. Neither side succeeded in making a tool of him.

Soon after that he went to England. Here he met new difficulties, for the British court treated him as if he was the American minister, and tried to get him to commit himself to some foolish act. But his good sense carried him safe through all their plots.

The youthful diplomat, however, got caught in another fashion. Joshua Johnson, the American Consul at London, had with him his daughter, Louise Catharine Johnson, a handsome and accomplished girl, whose charms were too much even for steady-going John Quincy Adams. He fell in love with her, and she with him, and in July, 1797, the happy lovers were married. It was a marriage that brought him the deepest happiness throughout his future life.

New honors were now showered rapidly upon the keen-witted diplomat. President Washington appointed him Minister to Portugal, but before he set out the post was changed, and he was ordered to Prussia. This was at the end of Washington's term. John Adams succeeded as President. What was to be done? Was it right for him to keep his son in office? What would the people say? The son felt the same scruples and wanted to resign. He would have done so but for Washington, who insisted that the young Minister had well earned his post and must not be cut short in his career.

But John Quincy had a queer trouble in getting into Berlin. When he got to the gates of that city he was stopped by the lieutenant on guard and asked who he was and what he wanted. He told the officer that he came from the United States.

"The United States? Where is that? I never heard of such a place."

One of the soldiers had to tell the lieutenant where the United States was, and then the new Minister was allowed to go in. I hardly think any American would be stopped to-day at the gates of Berlin with that odd question. Adams remained abroad until his father's term was near its end, when he was recalled home, and settled back to his law business again.

Now let us run along faster in his life. His political career in America began in 1802, when he was elected to the Senate of Massachusetts. The next year he was sent to the Senate of the United States. He was a Federalist and the Democrats were in power, and things were made lively for him. He had to fight his political foes, and when he supported some of Jefferson's measures his own party bitterly blamed him. He was between two fires, and it took all his sturdy honesty and obstinate spirit to hold his own between the opposite forces.

He supported the Louisiana Purchase, which his own party opposed. He supported other acts which he thought good ones, and they thought bad ones. The worst of all was the Embargo Act, which cut off commerce with England. When Adams voted for that the Federalists were wild with anger. They called him "traitor," and "renegade," and nominated his successor to the Senate in an insulting way. Adams was not the man to stay where he was not wanted, and at once he resigned.

This was in 1808. On the 4th of March of the next year James Madison became President, and two days later he nominated Adams for Minister to Russia. And he sent him there, too, in spite of all his enemies in the Senate, who tried their best to stop him.

Minister Adams spent four years and a half in St. Petersburg. They were some of the stormiest years the world has ever known. Napoleon was trampling all Europe under his feet. While he was there the great invasion of Russia took place. There was the march of the mighty French army, the burning of Moscow, and the terrible march back of the French army—what was left of it.

And while Adams was in Russia there was war also at home—three years of war with England. When the treaty of peace was made in 1814 John Quincy Adams was one of those who made it. After the treaty he went to Paris, and stayed there during the famous "hundred days" after Napoleon returned from exile to Elba and fought his last fight at Waterloo.

He had left his wife at St. Petersburg, the capital of Russia, and she started by herself for Paris while all this was going on. It was a hard and dangerous journey. At one place the carriage was buried in a snow-drift, with night corning on, and the peasants around had to be roused up to dig the travelers out. Then there was much talk of murder and robbery on the road, from the rough fellows the war had set adrift. When France was reached the roads were found full of soldiers, rushing to Paris to meet the emperor. Mrs. Adams reached that city on March 21, 1815, just after Napoleon had got there. There must have been thrilling sights to see, in those desperate days.

At this time Adams received the highest diplomatic honor this country could give. He was appointed United States Minister to England. Washington had said that he was on the road to "the highest rank in the American diplomatic service." He had now reached it, for the ministry to London was viewed as the highest in Europe.

He came home in 1817 to a still greater post. A new President, James Monroe, was in the chair, and he had chosen the brilliant statesman and diplomatist for his Secretary of State. Step by step Adams was going up.

If any of my readers have ever been in the splendid city of Washington as it is to-day, they cannot well picture to themselves the Washington to which John Quincy Adams came in 1817. He had been used to the beautiful capitals of Europe, and this ugly, dreary, comfortless place made his soul sick. He spoke of it as this miserable desert, this scene of desolation and horror." It was still just rising out of the ashes which the British had left and must have been a cheerless place.

But he went to work all the same. There were many 'questions to handle. The greatest of these was that of keeping America out of European politics and keeping Europe out of America. Adams had his share in the "Monroe Doctrine," of which you have just read. Some say that he had as much to do with it as Monroe himself. Two years before Monroe's message was written Secretary Adams had told the Russian minister that the United States would not consent to any European control on American soil. That was the "Monroe Doctrine" in brief.

In 1824 a new President was to be elected. Four men were named, Andrew Jackson, the great soldier; John Quincy Adams, the great diplomatist; Henry Clay, the great statesman; and William H. Crawford, the late Secretary of the Treasury. Jackson was the popular favorite and got the largest number of votes. But he did not get a majority of them all, and the election was thrown into the House of Representatives. This chose Adams, who thus became President of the United States.

The new President was a very busy man when in office. But we are told he took a great deal of exercise. When he was at home in Quincy he thought little of walking to Boston, seven miles away, before breakfast. In Washington he was one of the first men up in the city, and the rising sun often saw him already at work in his library. He was an expert swimmer and was very fond of bathing. Every morning in the summer he was in the habit of plunging into the Potomac and swimming about, with all the sportive spirit of a boy.

Adams, like his father before him, was in office only four years. He was a hard worker and an able President, but he had very little of the art of the politician. There was no softness in his manner, and he made more enemies than he made friends. Mrs. Adams was a woman of fine social manners and showed much grace and dignity in her high position. But the friends she made were lost by her husband's coldness of manner. So when the next election came round he got fewer votes than before, and Jackson was elected President by a large majority.

First Six Presidents


John Quincy Adams did not stay moping at home. He did what no other President has ever done; he went back to Congress. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1830, and remained there until his death in 1848. And he played a prominent part there. The great slavery contest came on and Adams made himself the champion of the Anti-Slavery party. He was not a handsome man, with his bald head and short figure. He was not a graceful orator. His voice was high and shrill, and had no rich, deep tones. But he had something to say, and he said it in a way that won him the title of "the old man eloquent."

For years he kept the slavery question alive. The Southern members tried in vain to stop his voice, but nothing could check him. Hundreds of anti-slavery petitions were sent to Congress. Nobody but Adams was ready to present them, but he continued to do so in spite of all the anger he met and the savage clamor around him. Those were days when it needed a strong man in Congress to face the passionate Southern members. Adams was that man.

In 1846 a stroke of paralysis came to warn the old man that death was at hand. But he kept at his post. He had kept a diary for years, and the last words in it were these:

"A stout heart, a clear conscience, and never despair."

He was in his seat in Congress on February 21, 1848. He rose, with a paper in his hand, to address the Speaker, when he suddenly fell to the floor. He was picked up insensible. Paralysis had seized him again. When he came to himself he said, "This is the end of earth. I am content."

They were his last words. He died two days later. They buried him under the church portal at Quincy, where the bodies of his father and mother lay.

Andrew Jackson



"Old Hickory"

Ever boy and girl should be interested in the life and adventures of the famous Andrew Jackson, for his career was the most exciting of those of any of the presidents, unless it be that of our first and greatest President, George Washington. Like most boys who lived in the new States of the South and West, Jackson had exciting g adventures with Indians and with soldiers. And like many boys he had to work hard and do a man's work when he was still quite young.

Andrew Jackson was just such a boy as we like to read of. His father and mother came from Ireland when George III, was King of England. This was the king, you know, with whom the American colonists had so much trouble, that they determined to fight for their liberty, and our hero was still quite young when the War of Independence was being fought. His father and mother landed at Charleston, and went out into the wilderness nearly one hundred and sixty miles, and built a log hut on a stream which ran into a creek near the boundary line between North and South Carolina.

Mr. Jackson had just planted and raised his first crop when he was taken sick and died, leaving the mother and two little boys, the older brothers of Andrew, for he was born only a few weeks after his father's death, in 1767, in a rough log cabin in which there was very little furniture. A few kind neighbor women came in and brought food and clothing for the poor mother and her fatherless children. Little did his mother expect that this little boy, born in her lonely log cabin out in the wilderness, peopled by wandering Indians who would come to the door and look in, would become a famous President of these great United States.

The father of the family being dead, the home had to be given up, and the mother and her three children went to a relative's house to live. Here she and her boys did such work as they could to help pay for the food they ate and the clothes that were given them. In this way Andrew, or "Andy," as people called him, grew up, and at the age of five or six years went to a wretched school held in a log cabin out in the woods. Here he learned to read, but he never became a good speller. His writing was never good, but he learned enough of arithmetic to do ordinary sums.

Andrew was not an attractive-looking boy, as you may imagine, with his running wild in the woods and having no father to train and control him. He was so rough in his ways, and got into so many fights with his fellows, that most people thought him a very bad boy. His good mother, however, never gave up hope of making a noble man of him, and by her prayers and gentle guidance she made her influence felt. It showed itself in many ways in later years. The boy who swore and used bad language in his youth, became later in life a devout Christian, and learned to revere the memory of the good mother who had endured so many hardships for his sake.

When the Declaration of Independence was signed Andrew Jackson was only nine years old. As you know, the War of Independence was fought in the South as well as in the North. There were many people in the South who believed that King George should have his way, and that the colonists had no right to oppose him. These people were called Tories. But there were many others who believed that George III was a tyrant, and that the colonies should be free and independent of England. These were called Patriots.

When the British General Tarleton and his Tory horsemen laid waste the country, Andy's brother Hugh was among the Patriots who went to meet them, and he was killed by them in the most cruel way. When Andy heard of this he felt that he would like to avenge his brother's death; but he was too young to take up the sword and fight. His mother took the children and fled to a safer place, and Andy was placed in a family in Charlotte to earn his board doing servant's work.

He grew very rapidly, and when he was fourteen years old lie was almost a man in size. He was as strong and bold as many men. When the British forces came that way and captured the town, they made Andy and his brother Robert prisoners, and one of the officers wished to make Andy his servant. One day he ordered the boy to clean his muddy boots, but Andy who was full of spirit and courage, for he never was afraid of anybody, boldly replied, "I am a prisoner of war, not your servant."



The officer flew into a passion, drew his sword, and aimed a blow at the head of the helpless boy. Fortunately he did not kill him, but he gave him wounds on hands and face which he carried as long as he lived. The officer then tried to make Andrew's brother Robert do what Andrew refused to do, but Robert, with the same spirit, said that he would not clean the officer's boots. The brutal officer then struck him also with his sword, giving him a wound from the effects of which he afterwards died.

The two boys, while still suffering from their wounds, were taken off to prison with a lot of grown men, and were not given enough food to eat. They would have died had not their mother, moved by her love for her boys, hunted them out and succeeded in getting the British to let her take them away. Robert died soon after, and Andrew became very sick, and for a long time his mother thought that she would lose him, too. It is sad to say that this dear mother, who had done so much for her boys, was herself taken sick with the disease which her sons had, and after a very severe illness she died, leaving Andrew, a boy of fourteen years, all alone in the world, without a father, mother, sister or brother, without any money, and with very few friends.

He started to learn the saddler's trade, but did not stick at it long. In fact, the death of his parents left him free from any restraint or home influence, and open to all bad counsels. He became a very wild young man, attended the horse-races, gambled, and did almost everything which a boy should not do. No one could expect that a boy like this would ever come to any good, and such boys seldom do. They are more likely to become bad and often criminal men. Andrew Jackson often spoke afterward of his escape from vice.

Fortunately for him, he soon learned that a young man who followed such a life as he was leading would be despised and shunned by all respectable persons, and he resolved to do better. One thing he undertook was to teach school. You may be surprised that a boy who had gone to school as little as Andrew Jackson had would attempt to teach others; but he could read a little, write a little, and do small sums in arithmetic, and the teachers in those days did not have to know much.



A little later he decided that he would study law, and he used what little money he had saved to go to a small town in North Carolina, where he found a lawyer who was willing to take him into his office. There he stayed two years studying law, or rather pretending to study, for you know that a young man who had led such a wild life as Andrew had could not very easily keep his mind at his books for a very long time. But it was like teaching, one did not need to know much law in those days to be a lawyer.

Andrew was now a young man of twenty-two years of age. He had spent most of his life in North Carolina, had taught school, had been a clerk in a store, and had studied law. He was bold, daring, and even reckless, and was very fond of adventure. He was not satisfied to settle down in North Carolina, but wanted to go farther west, where there were better chances for young men. So we find him crossing the Alleghany Mountains on a journey of nearly five hundred miles through wild forests and wildernesses in which only the Indians had traveled, and finally coming to a settlement on the banks of the Cumberland River where now is the city of Nashville. Here he hung up his sign as a lawyer. Lawyers must have been scarce there, for he was soon elected to a position as the public prosecutor of that district.

There is an interesting story told of an adventure he had while on the way to Nashville with a company of nearly one hundred people, who traveled together as a protection against the Indians. One night, after they had had a long march, and every one was very tired, they made a camp in what appeared to be a safe place, and the women and children crept into the tents and were soon asleep. The men wrapped themselves in blankets and slept out on the ground with their feet to the fire, as men do who camp out at night. Sentinels had been placed to watch the camp.

Andrew did not lie down as soon as the rest, and as he was smoking his pipe by the fire he noticed that owls seemed to be hooting in the trees about him. Then he heard close by a louder hoot than the rest. He immediately became suspicious that something was wrong, and that perhaps there were Indians about him. He quietly aroused the men near by and whispered in their ears, "There are Indians all around us. I have heard them in every direction. They mean to attack us before daybreak." Quietly they broke up their camp and moved away.

A company of hunters who were in the neighborhood happened to come to the deserted camp and went to sleep there. Just before daybreak the Indians attacked the camp and only one of the hunters escaped, but Andrew Jackson and his party got away, and none of them were lost.

As I have said, Andrew Jackson began the practice of law in Nashville, and his business as public prosecutor was to see that robbers and thieves and murderers were punished. This was not at all a popular thing for him to do. In those wild times it was very common for men to carry revolvers and hunting-knives, and to use them, too. Even in the courthouse men would not hesitate to use these weapons if they became angry. Resides, in going from one place to another to attend court Jackson was in danger of meeting some of these people whom he had tried for their crimes. But he was a fearless man, and just the one to know what to do; so he did not let that stop him. He had many hair-breadth escapes in his journeys from one place to another. Wherever he camped at night he was always on the alert for fear that Indians or desperadoes would attack him, and by his courage and caution he escaped all danger in that wild country.

During the years that Andrew Jackson lived in Tennessee he showed his thrift by purchasing large tracts of land and selling off small farms to settlers. In this way he made a great deal of money and became what people then thought to be rich.

The territory of Tennessee, in which our hero had already gone through many adventures, finally had enough people in it to make a State; so a Constitution was prepared, and in June, 1796, Tennessee came into the Union as the sixteenth State. Andrew Jackson was chosen as its first representative to Congress. He rode on horseback all the way to Philadelphia, where Congress was then in session. Just think of traveling eight hundred miles on horseback to go to Congress! But in those days people did singular things, just as they do now.

His appearance at the time he came to Philadelphia as a member of Congress is thus described: "A tall, lank, uncouth-looking personage, with lots of hair around his face, and a queue down his back tied with an eel skin, his dress singular, his manner and deportment those of a rough backwoodsman." You can imagine from this description just how he looked, and we are not surprised that no one there ever expected that this odd-looking westerner would ever he heard of again; but in this every one was mistaken.

At this time General George Washington was completing his second term as President of the United States, and everybody spoke of him as the good President. Congress wished to express their great admiration for him, and a committee was appointed to tell General Washington how much they thought of him. Andrew Jackson, who had led such a rough life, did not have the respect and regard for this great man that we would think he should have, and he objected to their speaking of Washington as wise, firm and patriotic. He was one of the few men in the country who did not respect and revere Washington. But that did not matter. General Washington was a great man, and so was Andrew Jackson in his own way. No doubt, you and I admire George Washington more than we do Andrew Jackson, and yet each one was a patriotic citizen, and did what he thought was right for his country.

Andrew Jackson was very popular in his own State, and what he did in Congress was so highly thought of that he was a little later elected to the Senate of the United States. At that time John Adams was President and Thomas Jefferson Vice-President.. Very likely he found the Senate too prim and dignified a place for him. It was much too formal and respectable. At any rate he soon left it and went back to Tennessee, where he was soon after chosen a judge of the Supreme Court. Andrew Jackson must have changed very greatly from his boyhood ways to have the highest honors of his State thus given to him.

I will not tell you of all the things Andrew Jackson did while serving in Congress or acting as one of the high officials of his native State. Many things that he did none of us would approve of. The people in those days did not think it was a bad thing to fight duels, to gamble, and to have horse races. We all know how wrong it is, and people who do such things are not considered to be of the genteel class, nor are they much admired; but then things were very different. Andrew Jackson, if he were living in the twentieth century, could not lead such a life as he did and win the respect of the people. But as he did not have the advantages that we have we should not judge him too severely.

Andrew Jackson proved himself to be an able and daring soldier more than once in his life. You may remember, if you have read your history, that in 1813 or 1814 the Creek Indians and other Indians of the North rose in arms, determined to kill the settlers between Florida and the Great bakes. They took a fort called Fort Mimms and murdered all the people in it, men, women and children. Jackson at once began to raise troops with which to invade the country. With an army of 2000 men he pushed his way through the wilderness, and reached the camp of the Indians near the centre of Alabama, where there were nearly 900 warriors with plenty of arms and ammunition.

Jackson immediately attacked the Indians, who were protected by forts and fought desperately. The troops fought their way into the forts, where no mercy was shown to the Indians, nearly all of them being killed. The few that remained sought Jackson's camp and begged for mercy. This was a very bloody war, but there was never any trouble with Indians in that part of the country afterward.

At this time, you may remember, the United States had its second war with England. One of the plans of the British was to capture New Orleans, which, as you know, is an important city situated at the mouth of the Mississippi River. They thought, if they once got possession of this, it would be easy to march up the Mississippi Valley and take possession of the western country. Andrew Jackson's success with the Indians had made him very popular, and he was appointed a general and ordered to fight the British. He collected a force of soldiers with which to march to New Orleans and defend it against the British soldiers.

The British had sent a fleet of sixty ships, which carried l,000 great guns and 10,000 soldiers, and these were men who had fought many battles in Europe and were thought to be some of the best soldiers in the world. They had also well trained generals to command them. General Jackson had a force of only 4,000 or 5,000 men. There were no forts to protect the city, but there were plenty of cotton-bales on the wharves. These Jackson thought would make an excellent fort; so he had the cotton bales piled up on the side of the city toward which the British would march. The British used sugar hogsheads for the same purpose.

When Jackson came to place his soldiers he found he had only 3,000 men who could handle a gun. No one thought that a few thousand untrained backwoodsmen would be a match for 10,000 British soldiers with their fine guns and splendid training; but the Americans were used to fighting the Indians, and were not easily frightened. Besides, they were all splendid shots with the rifle. The British made three desperate attacks upon the forts, but each time they were driven off. They left the ground behind them covered with their dead and wounded.

While the battle was fiercest, General Jackson walked among his soldiers, encouraging his men, and saying, "Stand to your guns. Don't waste your ammunition, and see that every shot tells. Let us finish the business to-day." The business was finished that day, for the British were terribly beaten, and after that they had great respect for the American soldiers.

When the battle of New Orleans was fought there were no ocean steamers carrying letters to and from England; there was no telegraph or cable under the sea to bring or take messages, as there is now. You know it takes only a few moments of time to send a long message to London; but then it took a considerable time. At the very time that the battle of New Orleans was being fought a treaty of peace had already been signed between the representatives of the United States and England across the ocean. It took weeks for sailing vessels to bring communications to this country in those days. Had there been a telegraph the message would have reached Washington and been telegraphed to New Orleans, and the battle would never have taken place.

You can imagine what a hero Andrew Jackson became after this great victory. The way he had put an end to the war with the Indians and driven the British away from New Orleans gave him fame, and he became known all over the country as a hero and a soldier.

Andrew Jackson had thus made himself famous, and in 1824, and again in 1828, when the time for the election of the President came, one of the great parties, which we now know as the Democratic party, asked him to be their candidate for President. He was elected in 1828 to succeed John Quincy Adams, who, although a good President, was not a popular one.

Andrew Jackson was then a hero in the eyes of the people. He was very different from any man who had been President before him. All the other Presidents had had opportunities of getting a good education The Adamses had been educated in college, and had the advantage of good home training. George Washington had the careful training which a good father and mother could give him, and had a good home with pleasant surroundings. Andrew Jackson, on account of his early life, believed that the Presidents should live much as common people live, and should avoid all appearance of trying to imitate kings or emperors. He made a good President, and was honest and true, if he was plain-spoken and not very courtly. He would not allow people to have their own way, unless he thought it was the right way.

Although he was born in the South, and believed that the people of the South were right in many of their wishes, yet, when the people of one of the Southern States thought that they could withdraw from the United States and become an independent State, and that they could refuse to obey the laws of the United States, he gave them to understand very soon that he was the President, and that the laws must be obeyed.

Again, in many ways he showed that he could not be turned from doing what he believed was the best thing for the country. You read in your histories how he thought the National Bank was not good for the country, and therefore he refused to give it permission to continue business as it had done before. This made him unpopular in many places; but that made no difference to him. He continued to serve two terms, or eight years, as President, which is the longest time any man has been in the President's office. To this day he is spoken of as one of the most interesting of the Presidents, and one of the great parties of the country, which we know as the Democratic party, consider Andrew Jackson as their greatest representative.

We should not fail to tell you that Andrew Jackson's wife was one who was a great help to him, and influenced his life greatly. He married her soon after he went to Nashville, Tennessee. She was a woman who loved her home and her family, and did not care to appear much in public. Andrew Jackson was devoted to her, made her a good home, and was happiest when he was with her.

Soon after he was elected President, she was taken sick and died. This brought a cloud over his life which remained with him as long as he lived, especially as she could not share the great honors which had come to him. So much did he grieve for her, that it is said that every night after her death until his own death he read a prayer from her prayer-book. His wife was buried in a little graveyard near his home in Tennessee, and there on June 21, 1845, not many years after he had retired from serving his country as President, he passed quietly away at his home, the "Hermitage," and was laid to rest in a grave by the side of his wife.

Martin Van Buren


Van Buren

The New York Politician

When Captain Henry Hudson came, in his ship the Half Moon, to Manhattan Island in 1609, he brought there a sturdy stock of people which has not yet died out. These were the Dutch, a race of strong fibre and shrewd brain. The English came, but the Dutch remained. Their descendants remain to-day, and we owe to this good old Holland stock two of our Presidents, Martin Van Buren and Theodore Roosevelt. It is the first of these we have before us now.

Martin came into the world in a lucky time, just as the British were letting go their hold on the fighting colonies. He was born December 5, 1782, when the war had ended and the treaty of peace between the United States and England was being considered. He was born in a little town with strong Dutch name, Kinderhook. His mother's name was Hoes and his father's was Van Buren, both good Dutch names.

Kinderhook is a little town still, on the Hudson River, about sixteen miles below Albany. Here his father, a shrewd, thrifty, good-natured Dutchman, kept the village tavern and worked a small farm, and made both pay him well. His mother was pious and sensible. Both parents had good qualities, and Martin got his share of them. He was an active little lad, with the shrewdness and sense of his parents, and plenty of his father's good nature.

The boy was sent to the best schools of the old town. And there was a school of politics inside his father's hostelry, where the neighbors gathered to talk over the events of the day, and where no doubt the quick-witted boy picked up many useful lessons: for there is often much sense in what the common people say.

His father did not send him to college. Perhaps he thought too much learning would do more harm than good. He wanted to give him knowledge that would pay, so he set him at studying law when he was fourteen and kept him at it till he was twenty-one. His last year of study was spent in New York City, under William P. Van Ness, who was a friend of Aaron Burr, and was to be his second in his famous duel with Alexander Hamilton.

The boy from up the Hudson saw much of Burr, who was one of the most brilliant men of his time. He was what we would call to-day a party boss. He could talk over anybody to his side and knew all about the art of handling parties, and it is very likely Van Buren learned many lessons from him, for in later years he showed that he was well up in this art.

He went home in 1803 and began practicing law. Very likely he expected to be a country lawyer all his life. He could not know how splendid a gift fortune had in hand for him. But he was bright and quick-witted enough to take all the chances that came and make the best of them.

In the village academy he had learned some Latin, and was very fond of preparing declamations, and reciting them before the school. He made the very best use of his advantages, and it was well he did so, for he had to fight his way to the top of the ladder of fame.

There is an interesting story told of him while he was studying law at Kinderhook. In those days the old lawyers often gave their students a chance to try small cases, where they had a chance to talk before juries. This was very good practice for them.

When he was only sixteen years old little Van Buren was given a case to be tried before a justice of the Peace and a jury in his native village of Kinderhook. Against him was an old lawyer of great experience and ability who had won almost every case he had undertaken; but Martin, nothing daunted, went into court, and caused a great deal of amusement and fun at the trial. When the trial came on he was such a little fellow that his friends got a table and lifted him up on it to address the jury. You can imagine this boy of sixteen addressing a jury of gray-headed men; but he had thoroughly prepared his case, and spoke so eloquently that he won it. No doubt the tall platform and his youthful appearance gained for him much better attention than he would otherwise have had. The courtroom was crowded, and the trial gave the lookers-on a great deal of amusement.

When he got through his law studies Martin began to practice in his native town of Kinderhook. Here he stayed for six years and was very successful. Then he moved to the city of Hudson. But before he left his native town he married Miss Hannah Hoes, an old playmate, and a relative of his mother. For twelve years they lived happily together. Then she died. Her husband kept her memory green in his heart and never married again.

The young lawyer, like many other lawyers before him, quickly went into politics. The Federal party was the strong one in his neighborhood, and his friends blamed him for joining the Democrats, saying that he could never be elected to any office by that party. He told them plainly that he was going to live up to what he thought right if he never got into office.

Martin Van Buren


But the young man was born to win success. He had a good nature and a smiling and kindly manner that brought him plenty of friends. He was very industrious, and he was very fond of books, reading everything that came in his way. In those days books were not so plentiful as they are now, but he managed to learn a good many things outside of the law. After his six years' practice at Kinderhook Mr. Van Buren removed to the city of Hudson, where he had the chance to come in contact with the best lawyers of the State. Here he gained a wide legal reputation, and grew so popular among the people that in 1812 he was elected to the Senate of New York State. The war with England began that year. He did not believe in the war, but he worked for it, and helped pass a law for raising troops. This made him very popular with many people. After General Jackson's great victory at New Orleans, he offered a resolution in the Senate to give the thanks of the State to that famous general. You will learn later on how well Jackson paid him for that resolution.

As time went on Van Buren became very popular with his party. In 1818 the New York Democratic party was reorganized by him, and his power in it became so great that "he held absolute control for twenty years." He had made himself what we call to-day a "Party Boss." Nothing was done in the party except at his command.

New honors came to him fast. In 1821 he was sent by the Legislature of New York to the Senate of the United States. In the next Presidential election he fought hard against John Quincy Adams and for Andrew Jackson, and in 1829, when Jackson was elected, many people said that he owed his election to Martin Van Buren, who had shown a wonderful power in managing political movements. He did not forget the lessons he had learned from Aaron Burr, the first great party manager.

When Jackson became President Van Buren was Governor of the State of New York, to which he had been elected after he left the Senate. But the new President, who was very thankful to Van Buren for what he had done for him, asked him to give up his high office and come into his Cabinet as Secretary of State. Many people were surprised that Mr. Van Buren would give up the greatest position that he could hold in his native State to become a member of the President's Cabinet, but he understood thoroughly what he was doing. To many people this would not have been a promotion, but to him it certainly was, for it kept for him the friendship of Andrew Jackson; other Secretaries of State had been made Presidents and he might be. No doubt he looked that far ahead.

After he had acted as Secretary of State for a short time, President Jackson sent him to represent his government in England as Minister of the United States. This was a very important position, and he hurried to London. But he was not there long before he met with a great disappointment, for the United States Senate refused to approve his appointment. When he heard of it he was at a great banquet given by the Famous Talleyrand, the French Minister. Everybody looked at Van Buren to see how he would bear the news. But if they expected to see a gloomy and sour face they were mistaken, for he was as gracious, smiling and courteous as ever, and acted as if it was an everyday affair.

When he came back he was a greater favorite with President Jackson than ever. He had always known how to rub down the old war-horse the right way, and no matter what question Jackson brought up, whether wise or unwise, Van Buren gave it his full support. That was what we call currying favor. Jackson paid him well for it, for when the next election came he used his great influence to have Van Buren made Vice-President. The smiling lawyer from Kinderhook had made his sharp practice in politics pay.

The Vice-Presidency was the stepping-stone to a still higher honor, for in 1836, when Jackson's second term was near its end, he used all his vast influence to have his friend Van Buren nominated for President. The Whigs nominated General Harrison to run against him, but the Democratic party won, and the lawyer from Kinderhook was now lifted to the highest position in the nation, that of President of the United States. That was a great raise for the man who had made his way upward, first by managing a party then by managing a President.

On March 4, 1837, an immense crowd collected to see his inauguration. A striking scene it was when he rode side by side with Andrew Jackson in a phaeton drawn by four grays to take the oath of office. They were both uncovered and bowing to the cheers of the crowd. But the gaunt, iron face of "Old Hickory" was in strange contrast with the shrewd, smiling, handsome countenance of the man beside him.

But Jackson, while he had made Van Buren President, had left plenty of trouble for him. By ruining the United States Bank, and by other acts, he brought a great business panic on the country, which lasted through all of the new President's term. So in 1840, when the time for an election again came round, the people wanted a change, and the Whigs won by a large majority. Van Buren was badly beaten, and General Harrison was elected in his place. Of course, Van Buren would have liked to hold the Presidency for a second term; but he bore his disappointment with his usual good nature and dignity, and retired to his New York home. But he had been a politician so long that it was not easy for him to withdraw entirely from taking a part in the great questions of the day, and there was not much went on that he did not have a hand in.

He had lost favor with the South because he was not in favor of extending slavery into new territory, so he could not expect any further honors from his old party; yet he had a great many friends who believed in him still, and who chose him to be their candidate in 1848. They were called Free-Soilers, and by some were called Barn-Burners; but when the election came on he had a very small vote.

In 1853 Mr. Van Buren decided to take a tour of Europe in company with one of his sons. This was the first time an Ex-President of the United States had visited a foreign country. He had never been in the army, and therefore could not wear a uniform. Many questions arose as to how he should be received by the royalty abroad and what rank they would give him in their receptions. Mr. Van Buren made himself very agreeable and popular wherever he went, and did much to do away with any embarrassment. He visited England, Ireland, Scotland, and the principal countries and cities of Europe.

The remainder of his days he passed quietly at his beautiful home, which he called Lindenwald, and where he ended his long and busy life on July 24, 1862. He was born just as the war of the Revolution came to an end. He lived to see the opening of the great Civil War, dying at eighty years of age.

William Henry Harrison



The Hero of Tippecanoe

Old Virginia is often called the mother of Presidents, and with good reason, for six of our Presidents have been born within her borders. This is nearly one-fourth the whole number. It was Virginia which furnished George Washington, the commander-in-chief of the revolutionary armies. It gave us also Jefferson, Madison and Monroe, the famous patriots of our early days, and we come to Virginia again, when we wish to know of William Henry Harrison.

Benjamin Harrison, his father, had been one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, at Philadelphia, July 4, 1776, and was one of the great men of his time. He was the friend of George Washington, and was among the first of those who said that the English should not make the colonists pay taxes and accept laws which they thought were unjust.

If you have seen a picture of the names under the Declaration of Independence, you will remember in what a bold handwriting John Hancock signed his name. He and Mr. Harrison, the father of the boy who afterwards became President of the United States, were great friends, and were once candidates for the same office in the convention which framed the Declaration of Independence. Mr. Hancock was a very small and modest man, and Mr. Harrison was a very large and good natured fellow, full of fun. Mr. Hancock was elected to the office of chairman, and Mr. Harrison picked him up as though he were a child, and carried him and set him on the chairman's seat, saying to the convention: "Gentlemen, we will show Mother Britain how much we care for her, by making our President a Massachusetts man whom she has refused to pardon by a public proclamation." This caused a great laugh, because Mr. Harrison was so large and Mr. Hancock looked so small beside him that his playful remark seemed the funnier.

General Harrison and Tecumseh


William Henry Harrison was born on the banks of the James River, in Virginia, February 9, 1773. Fortunately for him, his father was well-to-do and able to give him a good education, so he was sent to college and graduated with a great deal of honor to himself and his family. In the meantime his father had died, and the young college graduate went to Philadelphia to study medicine. A great many of his father's friends lived there, and he was very kindly received, but he did not continue the study of medicine very long. If he had done so, he might have made a great doctor, but he never would have been President of the United States. So far no doctor has ever become President of the United States.

George Washington was President when Harrison was studying medicine, and there was a great deal of trouble with the Indians in the Northwest Territory, where now are the States of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Washington had sent an army out there under General St. Clair to protect the settlers. Young Harrison heard a great deal of the cruelties the Indians were practising upon the settlers, and as he had much love of adventure, he joined the army, in which he was made ensign or corporal. These were low positions in the army.

He was at this time slender in form, and frail in health His many friends tried to persuade him to give up his commission and continue his study in medicine; but he wanted to see some fighting, and started for the western country with the army. In the very first battle in which St. Clair's army was engaged it was almost totally destroyed by the Indians, but young Harrison escaped.

His first experience in the army was in command of a pack-train, which in the winter time carried supplies to the small body of troops stationed near the western forts. Had he not had a great deal of pluck and daring, he could not have been successful in this work. He was exposed to great danger from sudden attacks by the Indians, but showed himself so brave and capable that he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and was sent with the main army to attack the Indians who were then making war against the western colonies.

Although I have said that young Harrison was slight in build and appeared to his friends not to be strong, yet he found that he could endure more exposure by a great deal than many men who seemed to be much stronger. One reason he gave for this was that he made it a rule from the very first not to touch intoxicating liquors; and he was always a thorough temperance man. His influence for temperance did much good with the young men who were with him in the army.

You have no doubt heard of Mad Anthony Wayne, one of the heroes of the Revolutionary War. After St. Clair was killed he took command of the army, and while marching through the forests of Indiana he was attacked by a strong force of Indians in ambush—that is, they were hiding behind trees. A bloody battle followed, but Wayne and his men were good fighters and the Indians were driven away, hundreds of them being killed. Lieutenant Harrison was especially commended by General Wayne for his courage and ability. Wayne said, "Wherever duty called he hastened, regardless of danger, and by his efforts and example contributed as much to securing the fortunes of the day as any other officer subordinate to the commander-in-chief." This won for him the higher rank of Captain, and he was put in command of one of the large forts.

After this great Territory had been freed from the attacks of the Indians, it was necessary to organize a government for it. There were not enough people to make it into a State, or to divide it into several States; but a Governor and Secretary were appointed to take charge of it. Young Harrison, who was then only twenty-four years of age, gave up his position in the army and accepted the office of Secretary.

Three years later, when the Northwest Territory was divided into two Territories, one of them being called Indiana, he was made governor of the latter, and given more power than was ever given to any other governor of a Territory. He made thirteen treaties with the Indians, by which the United States came into possession of millions and millions of acres of land. For twelve years he was Governor of the Territory of Indiana, and he performed his duties with the greatest skill and care and the most perfect honesty.

You will remember that in 1803, when Thomas Jefferson was President of the United States, there was bought from France the great strip of territory which is called the "Louisiana Purchase," and in which there are many large cities, including New Orleans and St. Louis. This was such a great event that now, one hundred years later, it is being celebrated by holding a great Exposition at St. Louis, on the banks of the Mississippi River. Our Mr. Harrison was the first governor of this vast territory, which was put under his charge as a part of Indiana Territory.

At that time it was one vast wilderness, occupied by many tribes of Indians. Among these Indians were two remarkable chiefs who afterward gave a great deal of trouble. One was a great Indian warrior named Tecumseh, who was also known as "The Crouching Panther"; the other was 011iwacheca, The Prophet." The former was a splendid fighter; the latter knew how to stir up the Indians by his eloquence and by his incantations. He was called a "Medicine Man," or a "Magician."

These two Indians traveled about among the tribes, doing all they could to stir them up to revolt. Governor Harrison heard of the trouble they were making and tried to quiet them by inviting them to a council. This was held on the 12th of August, 1809. Tecumseh came to the council with four hundred Indian warriors in their war-paint and completely armed. Governor Harrison had only a small body-guard of twelve men and a few of the officers and citizens of the Territory. The Indians were very haughty, and said that "no more of their land should be given to the white man, and that they were determined to drive the whites away from that part of the territory."

Tecumseh grew so angry as the council went on, that his warriors sprang to their feet and threatened to attack the white men with their war-clubs and guns. Governor Harrison sprang up also and drew his sword, and his guard got their guns ready to fire, but the Governor ordered them not to shoot, and told Tecumseh that he could go away unharmed. The Indians did so. They were scared by Harrison's boldness and spirit.

You can readily see how frightened the settlers were at this state of affairs. With only a small guard of soldiers at the fort, they did not know at what moment the Indians might attack their cabins and kill the women and children; but they had a brave governor who did not fear the Indians and was wise enough to know just how to act. He tried to persuade the Indians to lay down their arms and to believe that the white men would treat them fairly; but in this he did not succeed. But they did not then attack the settlers.

In 1812 war came on with Great Britain, and an English army marched down from Canada. Its general coaxed the Indians to become his allies, and furnished them with guns and powder. This was a very wrong thing for him to do, for the Indian way of fighting was by murder and torture. Governor Harrison had all he could do and more than he cared for. He learned that a strong body of Indians had collected on the Wabash River, at a place called Tippecanoe, and he set out with a small army. When he approached the village, he found that there were several thousand Indians, and selected a suitable place for his camp. Some of the Indian chiefs visited his camp and asked him why he came to fight them. They tried to make him believe that they were peaceable and meant no harm, but he did not trust them.

That night the soldiers slept with their guns by their sides and with the campfires put out. In the middle of the night the Indians crept upon the camp, expecting to find the soldiers asleep; but General Harrison had expected such an attack, and the soldiers were not quietly sleeping, as the Indians thought. When they heard the savage yells of the red men, they sprang up with their guns and fired so fast that they drove the Indians away and killed great numbers of them.

The Indian Prophet had told his followers that by his charms they would be protected from the bullets and from the bayonets. They soon discovered that he had deceived them and they fled to the swamps. Tecumseh, their great chief, was not there to lead them.

This great victory at Tippecanoe made Governor Harrison very famous, and afterward, when he was nominated for the Presidency, "Old Tippecanoe'' was a favorite motto printed on all the banners. You see from what I have already told you that this frail young man, who had started out to be a doctor, proved himself to be a great general; for it really requires more ability to command such soldiers as he had and to fight the wild-wood Indians, than to command a well-drilled army and to fight trained soldiers.

I cannot tell you of all his bravery and skill in leading his troops during the war with Great Britain. It is only necessary to say that he was victorious in forcing the British to leave Detroit, which they had captured from General Hull. He also pursued the British into Canada. How popular he was with his soldiers is illustrated by an incident which I shall tell:

Once when his little army was making its way through the forest, night came on. It was very dark and rainy. The ground was covered with water, and they had no axes and could build no fires. Neither had they any food, and they had to pass the night in leaning up against trees or sitting on wooden logs.

General Harrison passed the night with his men, with no more comforts than they had. In the middle of the night, in order to cheer them up, he asked one of the men to start a comic Irish song, which set everybody laughing, and, though hungry, they kept up brave hearts. Once when he had captured five British officers he invited them to take supper with him. They were surprised to find that the great American General had nothing to give them except beef, roasted in the fire, and without bread or salt.

After the close of the war with Great Britain he resigned his commission in the army, and was elected a Representative of Congress by the new Territory of Ohio, which had been made out of a great wilderness. Congress recognized his splendid services by passing a resolution of thanks and giving him a gold medal.

General Harrison, while in Congress, became known as one of the finest and best speakers among all the able men who were there with him. As I have told you, he had received a good education and had a well-trained mind. This showed itself when he had the opportunity to debate with his fellows in Congress. Although he had won his fame as a soldier, he did not think that this was the greatest glory which a man could win. He believed that a man should be truthful and honest, and kind to his fellows. His motto was: "To be eminently great, it is necessary to be eminently good." This motto describes General Harrison's life.

Campaign of General Harrison


After serving his country in Congress, and for a time as a Minister to Colombia, in South America, he retired to his home, near North Bend, on the Ohio River, and became a farmer. Although he was a great man in the eyes of his countrymen, yet he returned to his farm and performed the ordinary duties of a farmer in the West. You will remember that I have spoken of his temperance principles. After he had retired to his farm, a whiskey distillery was left him by a relative; but his temperance habits and principles would not allow him to own such a place and manufacture a poisonous drink which destroyed the lives and happiness of his fellowmen. At a great loss in money he gave up the business.

There were other things besides temperance on which General Harrison had good ideas, and about which he was not afraid to speak, though other great men were keeping silence on them. One of these was the subject of slavery. Although he was born in a State where slaves were kept, and belonged to a family which owned slaves, yet he never thought it was right for one man to own another. At the age of eighteen he became a member of an Abolition Society in Richmond, Virginia, the object of which was to make better the condition of the slaves, and to improve their treatment by their masters. While in Congress, he was the first to introduce a law that slaves should not be kept in States made out of new territory.

For nearly ten years General Harrison lived quietly on his farm near North Bend, in the State of Ohio. In 1840 he was nominated by the Whig party for President, and John Tyler of Virginia was the candidate for Vice-President.

At this time he lived in a log-cabin built many years before by a pioneer, and afterward covered with pine boards. He lived in such a simple way that visitors to the house said that "his table, instead of being supplied with costly wines, was furnished with an abundance of the best cider." Many began to make fun and sneer at the log-cabin and hard cider; but the people liked the man who could be simple and moderate, so that during the campaign log-cabins were erected in every village and city and hard cider was the principal beverage. People went marching around carrying pictures of the log-cabin and singing such songs as,

"Oh! where, tell me where, was the log-cabin made?

It was made by the boys that wield the plow and the spade

Often at night horsemen could be heard riding home singing the praises of "Old Tippecanoe." The story is told that in one of the backwoods churches of Ohio, after the preacher had announced the hymn of the evening, an old and staid deacon who led the singing broke in with the Harrison "Campaign Song," in which the whole congregation, after the first moment's shock, heartily joined, while the preacher himself had all he could do to refrain from coming in on the chorus.

You can imagine what excitement prevailed during this election. Our grandmothers and grandfathers never saw such times before. When they came to counting the votes, it was found that Martin van Buren, who was then President, had received only sixty electoral votes, while General Harrison had received two hundred and thirty-four. It is said that the supply of hard cider was almost all exhausted within three days after the election. The people evidently were happy.

Wayne  defeats the Indians


But the rest of our story must be very brief. No one of our Presidents was better prepared by education and experience to become an able President than was William Henry Harrison. Like General Washington, he was greatly beloved by the people for his good habits, kindness of heart and honesty. His journey from his home in Ohio to the White House was marked by enthusiastic festivities. The people met him in crowds and gave him a grand reception. A vast collection of people attended the inaugural ceremonies at Washington, and he made an address in which he set forth the high aims which he had for the performance of his duties.

He selected as his Secretary of State Daniel Webster, who was one of the greatest statesmen of his time. The other men in the Cabinet were also distinguished men, and every one looked forward to four prosperous and happy years which would come in the presidency of such a good and great man. But in the midst of these bright and joyous expectations, President Harrison was taken very sick with a fever, and after a few days he died, in one short month after his inauguration.

It was considered at the time that his death was the greatest misfortune that could have happened to the country, and the people mourned him in every village and city. It was the first time in our history that a President had died in office. According to our laws the Vice-President, John Tyler, succeeded to the office, and became President of the United States to finish the uncompleted term.

You who have read the biographies of the other Presidents must agree with me that President Harrison was a good and great man, and that his life was one of the most interesting of those of all the Presidents, for he had been great as a soldier, a governor, a member of Congress, and a man.

John Tyler



The Surprise President

There are many boys and men in our country with an ambition only to make good lawyers, good doctors, good merchants, good farmers or good mechanics. By dint of good work they will be likely enough to succeed in this. But the world may hold a great surprise for them, and take them far beyond what they expected. It is of one of these great surprises I wish to speak. Certainly no man could have been more surprised than John Tyler, when a messenger, riding desperately from Washington, arrived early one morning at his country seat with a letter which told him that he was the President of the United States. Here is the letter:

WASHINGTON, April 4, 1841.

"To John Tyler, Vice-President of the United States:

"Sir:—It becomes our painful duty to inform you that William Henry Harrison, late President of the United States, has departed this life.

"This distressing event took place this day, at the President's mansion in this city, at thirty minutes before one in the morning.

"We lose no time in despatching the chief clerk in the State Department as a special messenger to bear you these melancholy tidings.

"We have the honor to be with highest regard,

"Your obedient servants."

To this letter was signed the names of Daniel Webster and other members of President Harrison's Cabinet.

John Tyler was the first man to become President of the United States by the death of another President. You know that in our form of government the people elect a President, who rules the country with the aid of Congress, and whose place must be filled if he should die during the four years for which he is elected. At the same time that the President is elected, a Vice-President is also elected, to succeed him in office in case of his death; so when William Henry Harrison was nominated for President, John Tyler was the candidate for Vice-President. I have told you already how, during the exciting election of these two men, the banners carried the strange words "Tippecanoe and Tyler too."

Before I tell you what Tyler did as President, you will be interested in learning something of his early life, and you will also see why we say it is very important for every boy or girl who begins life to try and do everything so well, that if he should be called upon to fill a great office, or even to become President of the United States, he will be well prepared for it. This is just what John Tyler did.

He was born in Virginia, near Charles City, March 29, 1790. His father, whose name was also John Tyler, was a staunch old Virginia patriot, and had been Speaker of the Continental Congress. He was now a prominent lawyer, and it was his wish that his son, if possible, should also be well educated and study law. It is a great help to a boy when a father can help him decide what he shall do, and give him a good start.

Unlike some other Presidents of whom we have read, John Tyler's early home surroundings were very good. He came of the old planter class, with its culture and high social distinction. Although his father was not a man of wealth, yet he had sufficient means to give his son a good education. Very early did his father and mother begin to teach him things at home; so when he began to go to school he knew how to read and write, and also was very fond of books.

He very soon showed that he was a boy of more than ordinary ability. He had a quick mind, an excellent memory, was very fond of his books, and got a good start in his happy home under the training of his parents. He was only twelve years old when he was prepared to enter the William and Mary College, at Williamsburg, in Virginia. Here he studied so hard and did so well that he graduated with honor from this famous old college at the age of seventeen.

The boy was ambitious and determined to rise to the top of his profession, the law. His father was prominent in politics, and had served, as we have seen, in the Continental Congress. He had also served in the House of Burgesses, which was the name given to the Legislature of Virginia. He was still more honored in 1838, when he was made Governor of that State. This was a great help to the young lawyer, who eagerly went into politics and began to deliver political speeches—or stump speeches, as they are often called to-day

The young orator belonged to the Democratic party, which was then the leading party of the country, the one to which Jefferson and Madison had belonged. He was only twenty-one years of age when his neighbors and friends nominated him for the House of Burgesses, and he was elected.

This was a great honor for one so young, and he was sent to represent the county for five terms in succession. Before the war with England began, in 1812, young Tyler had won a fine business and had a high reputation as a lawyer. When the war broke out he showed that he was as warm a patriot as his father had been before him. When the British sailed up the Chesapeake and began to burn and plunder, he did all he could to stir up the people and gather the militia to oppose them. No man was more energetic than he in this work.

He was a young man of very easy and graceful manners, a good speaker, and ready to be friends with every one, and in the year 1816 his admirers nominated him for Congress, and he was sent to Washington to represent his district. He was then only twenty-six years old. Very few men have entered Congress so young. But although young in years, his experience in the politic of his State gave him the skill and power of a much older man. While in Congress he worked so hard that he found it necessary to resign in his second term and retire to his native county to regain health and strength. But his friends did not allow him to remain at home long. They sent him to the State Legislature, and a little later, in 1825, elected him by a large majority to become Governor of their State.

Western Railroad


As Governor, he showed that he was deeply interested in the welfare of his State, and through his efforts a great many useful laws were passed improving the condition of the people. Before this time Mr. Tyler was happily married. He had fallen in love with an attractive young lady of Cedar Grove, Virginia, named Miss Letitia Christian. He was twenty-three years old when the wedding took place. The newly wedded pair settled at Greenway, on a part of the Tyler estate, where they lived in great harmony and happiness.

It was not long before there was an opportunity for the young Governor to be elected to the United States Senate. About that time John Randolph, a distinguished orator from Virginia, but who had done a great many things to displease the people of the State, was a candidate for re-election. John Tyler was nominated to run against him, and was elected, having the honor of defeating one of the most famous men of the old Congress. This was in 1827, when he was only thirty-seven years of age. At this time John Quincy Adams was President of the United States. He served only a short time when he resigned and returned to Virginia and to his law practice. In this way he was able to earn a large amount of money for those times.

Although he had withdrawn from Congress, he continued to be very popular in his State. He was a Democrat still, but people began to call him the "Southern Whig ''; for though he differed with the Whigs of the North in some things, yet in many others he agreed with them. That was why, when the time came for the Whigs to nominate a President, and wanted a Southern man to run with William Henry Harrison for President, they nominated John Tyler for Vice-President. It was the votes of the Northern Whigs that, in the famous log-cabin campaign, made John Tyler the Democrat Vice-President of the United States.

At the time this was done no one imagined that he would be called upon to be President, and no one thought it made much difference what ideas the Vice-President might hold. You know the Vice-President is the man who presides over the United States Senate. He is sometimes called the President of the Senate. So it occurred that when William Henry Harrison was elected President, John Tyler became the presiding officer of the United States Senate.

President Harrison, as you have been told, lived only one month after he was inaugurated, and when he died the Presidency came to John Tyler. It was then that word was sent him, at his quiet home in Williamsburg, that he had become President of the United States. On receiving this important notice, he hurried with all speed to Washington and took the oath of office.

At that time some of the high Cabinet officials did not know what title to give him. He was the first Vice-President to become President, and they said it was not right for him to have the full title. There was a political question in this, for they did not know if Mr. Tyler would carry out the Whig policy. But he made short work of their objections, and at once took the title of President, as the Constitution gave him the right to do.

An interesting incident is told of what happened when he came to Washington. President Harrison had several very distinguished men in his Cabinet, probably the most distinguished being Daniel Webster, the great orator and statesman. He himself had also been a candidate for the Presidency. At the very first meeting the new President had with the Cabinet, he was told that it was customary for the President to take the advice of his Cabinet, and not to act upon anything before it was voted upon. The President, they said, should have one vote, and each one of his Cabinet officers should have one vote. Mr. Tyler listened quietly to what they had to say, and then informed them that he considered he was President of the United States. He was ready to follow their advice and counsel, if he approved of it, but he himself was responsible for the decision that was reached, and was not willing to have it settled by a Cabinet vote. If they did not like it that way they could resign. This rather surprised his Cabinet, but they knew very well that he was right, and they concluded to stay where they were.

Mr. Tyler had nearly four years to serve as President of the United States. He soon made it plain to the people of the United States that he did not agree at all with the ideas that President Harrison held on a great many subjects. He had been elected as a Whig, but he was really a Democrat.

President Tyler's position became soon very unpleasant. The people who had elected him did not like him, and many of these who had voted against him did not approve of what he had done; so the four years he was in office were very bitter and quarrelsome ones. When a new election took place Mr. Tyler was not nominated, and on the 4th of March, 1845, he was succeeded by James Knox Polk.

But the years that followed were very stirring years, for the great slavery contest had now come on. Finally the North and South could no longer agree, and the great Civil War broke out. Mr. Tyler was then living in Virginia, and he went with the South. He was elected to the Confederate Congress, but was not able to take much part. He was an old man now, and the excitement of the time bore heavily on him. He was attacked by a severe illness in 1862, and on January 18th he died at his home near Charles City.

James Knox Polk



A North Carolina Boy

We all know of the Declaration of Independence which was written by Thomas Jefferson, and first made public at Philadelphia in 1776; but there was another Declaration written more than as year before this, which was also an interesting document, and perhaps might be well called the first Declaration of Independence. Not many boys and girls know of this, so I shall tell it to you, as it was the grandfather and great uncle of James Knox Polk, the eleventh President of the United States, who helped to have it adopted.

It was in a little country town in North Carolina that this interesting event took place. A number of the people met and made the following declaration: "We, the citizens of Mecklenburg County, do hereby dissolve the political bonds which have connected us to the mother-country, and hereby absolve ourselves from all allegiance to the British Crown, and we do hereby declare ourselves a free and independent people."

This was on the 19th of May, 1775. Perhaps Thomas Jefferson and his fellow patriots had heard of it. At any rate, it showed the same spirit as did the more famous Declaration issued in Philadelphia. When you think that this was the declaration of a few hundred people at most, who lived in one of the counties of North Carolina, it is almost enough to make one laugh. Yet these same people afterward did valuable service for the cause of independence, and their bold Declaration will always be remembered. They were of that strong and sturdy Scotch-Irish people who did so much in settling the great wilderness of the Carolinas. Andrew Jackson was of the same stock, and his mother at one time fled from the British to Mecklenburg County and lived with neighbors of the Polks.

It was in this same Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, that, on the 2nd of November, 1795, James Knox Polk was born. His father, Samuel Polk, was a plain farmer, but the mother is said to have been a superior woman. Soon after James was born, the father took his little family and moved west some two hundred miles, to the frontier of Tennessee, where, in a rich valley on Duck River, he and his neighbors built their log huts and started their homes. Others soon followed, until there was quite a settlement on Duck River.

It was as a farmer's boy, working hard in felling trees, building fences, and planting crops, that James Knox Polk spent his childhood days. His father was a surveyor as well as a farmer, and soon became one of the leading men in that section of the country. He took with him on his long surveying expeditions his son James, then a bright but rather frail boy. They climbed mountains, waded through mountain gorges, and often had narrow escapes from the Indians. The boy, no doubt, had fine times helping to build the camp fires and cook the game at night in the Tennessee woods.

He was fond of study and was sent to the public schools and soon showed a taste for reading the best books he could get. A boy who is willing to learn and desires to get good books is very likely to succeed. So it was with young Polk. His mother did much to assist him, and through her training he became a very careful student, and cultivated a fondness for books.

When he got older his father placed him in a store; but that kind of life did not please the boy at all, so his father soon took him away and sent him to a college at Murfreesboro that he might get a better education. He afterward sent him to the University of North Carolina. Here he was so regular in his habits and so punctual that his fellow students said, when they desired to declare that something was sure to happen, "It is as certain as that Polk will get up at the first call."

He was twenty-three years old when he graduated from the University. He graduated the best scholar of his class, but he studied so hard that his health was affected, and he had to take a good rest.

He was getting pretty old for school life, but he was not through yet, for now he decided to study the law. So he went to Nashville, in Tennessee, and there he entered the office of a lawyer named Felix Grundy.

You may remember that "Old Hickory," the hero of New Orleans, lived near Nashville, in his home called the Hermitage. He often stopped at Grundy's office for a chat, and young Polk was much attracted to him. His friendship for Andrew Jackson lasted through his life and had much influence on his character and career.

In due time the student became a lawyer, and hung out his sign in Columbia, in the "Duck River District." He had most pleasant manners, and had learned to speak with a great deal of ease and eloquence, so it was not long before he was in great demand to make speeches on all kinds of subjects.

Some one has said, There is nothing in this world so profitable as pleasant words and friendly smiles, provided that these words and smiles come honestly from the heart." This describes the young man of whom we are speaking, for he had kind words and sunny smiles for every one, and they came from his heart."

He grew so popular as a political speaker that his friends called him the "Napoleon of the stump." I do not know why, except because he conquered the good will of his audiences. In politics he was a Democrat of a strenuous kind, and in 1823 his neighbors elected him to the Legislature of Tennessee. In the next year he worked with all his strength and power of oratory for the election of his old friend, Andrew Jackson, to the Presidency. One bill he carried through the legislature was to put an end to the practice of dueling.

Mr. Polk was very fortunate in marrying a young woman of great beauty and culture. Her name was Miss Sarah Childless. She little dreamed that her husband would become President and she mistress of the White House and the first lady of the land. But she was of fine character and had the grace and dignity suited to that high position. The marriage was a very happy one.

While she was mistress of the White House a pleasing story is told of her and Henry Clay, one of the most famous statesmen and orators of the United States. While sitting at table one day, Mr. Clay said in his most courtly way, "Madam, I must say that in my travels, wherever I have been, in all companies and among all parties, I have heard but one opinion of you. All agree in praising in the highest terms your management of the domestic affairs of the White House; but, as for that young gentleman there (meaning her husband, the President), I cannot say as much. There is some little difference in regard to the policy of his course."

Mrs. Polk was quite equal to the distinguished statesman, and replied, "Indeed, I am glad to hear that my administration is popular, and in return for your compliment I will say that if the country should elect a Whig next fall, I know of no one whose elevation would please me more than that of Henry Clay; and I assure you of one thing, if you do have occasion to occupy the White House on the 4th of March next, it shall be surrendered to you in perfect order from garret to cellar." Her reply caused a loud shout of laughter.

Mr. Polk rose rapidly in popular favor, and was elected to high offices. In 1825 he was elected a member of Congress, where he served for fourteen years. Afterward he became Governor of his native State. While in Congress, he was a great friend of General Jackson, and always took his side whenever he was criticised, and this was pretty often, for Jackson did many things which people did not like.

For five sessions Mr. Polk was Speaker of the House, a position which needed all his courtesy and strength of mind. In 1839 he resigned from Congress and was elected Governor of Tennessee. But he was defeated for a second term, for the Whigs were in power there. We are told the amusing story that Polk rode about the country with the Whig who was contesting with him for the governorship, and that they even slept in the same bed. Two years after he ran for governor again, and was once more defeated by his old bed-fellow.

But his time for much higher honors was coming. A great question had arisen in the southwest. I will tell you all about it when I come to speak of President Taylor, and will only say here that Texas had broken away from Mexico and was asking the United States to take it in. A fierce excitement arose over this. The Southern people thought it would make a fine slave State and wanted it badly. The anti-slavery people of the North fought against it with all their strength.

Among those who worked for annexation none were more active and earnest than James K. Polk. I do not fancy that he thought this would help him much. He simply thought it was the right thing to do. But it did help him a great deal, for it made him President of the United States. When the time for the election of 1844 came on, the Democrats took him up for their candidate for the Presidency. "Old Hickory" was still a great power in American politics and gave him much help in getting the nomination. Henry Clay, the great Southern orator, was the Whig candidate. Everybody thought he would be elected; but he did not want Texas annexed, and that lost him many votes, so that Polk was elected by a small majority.

On his way from Nashville to the Capital, the new President traveled part way by steamer and the rest of the way by stage. There were railroads in those days, but they were very few. It was during President Polk's term of office that we had the war with Mexico on account of the admission of Texas to the United States. The hero of this war was General Zachary Taylor, who afterward became President, and when you read of his life you will learn more about it. At the end of the war the United States acquired a large territory, which included in addition to Texas, all of California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. All this territory, equal to many times the size of the States of Pennsylvania or New York, was obtained from Mexico.

Mr. Polk served only one term as President, and was succeeded by General Zachary Taylor. As the 4th of March, the day on which the inaugural ceremonies are held, fell on Sunday, they were held on Monday, March 5th. Mr. Polk and General Taylor rode to the Capitol in the same carriage, as was customary, and the same evening Mr. Polk returned to his home in Tennessee.

On his way south the late President was met everywhere with the greatest enthusiasm, and the large cities gave him receptions. He passed through Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans, in each of which he had a grand ovation. He made his home in Nashville, Tennessee, where he had bought a beautiful mansion, but he did not live long to enjoy the rest he so well deserved. Cholera was in the air that summer, and he became one of the victims of the subtle disease. He had seemed well, and could be seen every day about his dwelling giving directions for improvements. He appeared erect and healthful and with an activity of manner which gave promise of a long life. He was but fifty-four years of age, and only his flowing gray locks made him look beyond the middle age of life. Yet he had felt symptoms of the prevailing disease when corning up the Mississippi River, and soon after his return home became suddenly ill. In a few days afterward he died.

Kneeling at his bedside as he passed away was his aged mother, who offered up a beautiful prayer to the Lord of lords and the King of kings committing the soul of her son to his heavenly keeping. He died on June 15, 1849.

Zachary Taylor



"Old Rough and Ready"

"Old Rough And Ready" was what the soldiers called Zachary Taylor when he was fighting the battles of the United States in the war with Mexico. He was not a tall, handsome soldier, like General Scott, who fought in the same war, but short and dumpy, with a blunt, plain face. But anybody could see that he was kind and honest, and he was brave as a lion. He was just what the soldiers called him. He could be rough, but he was always ready.

"General Taylor never surrenders," he said, when Santa Anna, with his twenty thousand trained Mexican troops, sent word to him to surrender with his feeble five thousand.

Then he rode along the ranks and said to his men, "Soldiers, I intend to stay here, not only as long as a man remains, but as long as a piece of a man is left."

That is the kind of man that wins battles. And Santa Anna learned that when his twenty-five thousand were put to flight by the five thousand Americans at Buena Vista.

Resaca de la Palma


Zachary Taylor was born in Virginia, though he lived most of his life in Kentucky and Louisiana. He was born on the 10th of November, 1784, the year after the treaty of peace with England brought the war of the Revolution to an end. His father, Colonel Richard Taylor, had fought in that war and was greatly admired by his friends and neighbors for his patriotism and bravery. Like many people even in the present day who have small families, and desire to obtain more land and have greater opportunities to make money, he decided to move west. Zachary was only a baby when the old home in Virginia was left, and the father, mother, and three children set out on their long journey through the wilderness to Kentucky, which was then a wild and dangerous land, with few people except savage Indians. Daniel Boone, the famous Indian fighter, was still there.

Mr. Taylor settled down in the blue-grass country a few miles from where the city of Louisville now stands. He built a rude cottage, and began to clear the ground for his farm. There were no school-houses near, and so young Zachary had very limited opportunities to acquire an education. He began to go to school when six years old, attending only a few months in the year a school held in a log cabin quite a distance from his home. He was known as a bright, active boy who had a mind of his own. He was as brave as a boy could be, was afraid neither of wild animals nor Indians, and learned to rely upon himself and to defend the weak.

Very early he showed a strong desire to go into the army and fight the Indians, who were at that time making attacks upon the frontier towns, burning the farm-houses and killing the people. Knowing his son's desire to enter the army, his father, who was now a man of influence in the new State of Kentucky, succeeded in getting for him a commission, and he was appointed a lieutenant in the regular United States army. He was sent to New Orleans to join the troops stationed there under General Wilkinson. Young Taylor was then twenty-four years of age.

You will remember, from what I have said in previous stories, that the United States had a second war with Great Britain in 1812. For two or three years before this there were quarrels between the two countries, for the British interfered greatly with American ships and sailors. The English officers in Canada were doing their best to rouse the Indians against us, though they knew very well the dreadful way the Indians dealt with the white people.

By the time war broke out, Zachary Taylor had been promoted, and was now called Captain Taylor. He was put in command of Fort Harrison on the Wabash River. This fort, which had been built by General Harrison before the battle of Tippecanoe, was only a row of log huts and high pickets, with a block-house at each end. It had for its guard a small company of foot soldiers numbering about fifty men.

One night, soon after Captain Taylor took command, the Indians crept up stealthily in large numbers upon the fort. It was midnight when the soldiers in the fort were roused by the fearful war-whoop and the wild yells of the savage warriors. But Captain Taylor was not taken by surprise, and his men were on the alert. They knew that if the fort was taken every being captured in it would be put to death with the greatest torture.

I wish I could paint for you the scene. It is really too awful to attempt. The Indians set fire to one of the cabins where there was a large amount of whiskey stored. The sheets of flame rising up made the sky as bright as day, bringing into clear view the surrounding woods and fields. As the soldiers and the women and children looked out from their cabins, they saw the dancing savages, the blaze of the fire, and everything calculated to strike terror to the bravest heart. But no one thought of surrender. The few men in the fort, invalids and all, fought with splendid courage, keeping up the fight until six o'clock in the morning, when the savages, howling with rage, disappeared in the wilderness.

In 1836 the Government sent Colonel Taylor to Florida to make the Seminole Indians move from that territory across the Mississippi, as their chiefs had promised they would do. As they refused to move, Colonel Taylor was told either to make them move or capture them. It was a disagreeable duty, for the Indians had been very badly treated by the whites. But he was a soldier and it was his business to do what he was ordered The Indians had built a fort for themselves on an island in the swamps around Lake Okeechobee. In order to get at them Taylor had to march through a wild country which had no roads or paths, and for nearly one hundred and fifty miles his little army of one thousand men had to cut down trees, build bridges, wade across streams, and sleep on the wet ground. They had to carry their own provisions, and often marched under the greatest difficulties.

The Indians were hard to catch. They could run like so many deer, and, knowing all the country round, they could easily keep out of the way of the soldiers. Finally Colonel Taylor found them in their stronghold on Lake Okeechobee. He ordered his soldiers to rush upon them, and try to drive them out. This was not easy to do. At first the soldiers were driven back by the Indians, but they finally attacked them from another side, drove them out from their strong place and killed a great number. The remainder of the Indians surrendered and consented to move to the region where the Government wanted them to go.

Osceola's Indignation


For his skill and courage in conducting this war against the poor Seminole Indians, Colonel Taylor was promoted again and made Brigadier-General. He spent two years more in Florida, and then was put in charge of the department of the Southwest, which took in the States from Georgia to Louisiana. He bought a plantation near Baton Rouge, in Louisiana, moved his family there, and saw his wife's eyes grow glad as they rested on the fair southern landscape, with its carpet of flowers. Here he had a true home at last, and here he lived nearly five years. At the end of that time a new war broke out in which General Taylor was one of the leading generals, and had an opportunity of winning the renown which finally brought him to the Presidency. This was the war with Mexico.

General Taylor, who was at that time at New Orleans, was ordered to march with the force under his command into Texas, and take up a position on the banks of the Rio Grande River. This the Texans claimed as their western boundary, while the Mexicans said the boundary was on the Neuces River, which was a hundred miles or more further east.

General Taylor was a soldier, and knew that it was his business to obey orders. Although he did not think there was a good cause for war, he did as he was directed, and marched his troops to the Rio Grande. Mexican troops had crossed this river and soon there was fighting. This was followed by a declaration of war. General Taylor won two small victories on Texas soil and then crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico. He had been given the thanks of Congress and been made a Major-General for the victories already won.

The most famous battle in which General Taylor was engaged was the battle of Buena Vista. There he met the Mexican General Santa Anna. He had only about 5000 men, while the Mexicans had about 20,000. They were in the mountains, where Taylor selected a good position for his army, and drew them up to the best possible advantage. Anxiously the soldiers awaited the approach of the Mexicans, who could be seen coming amid great clouds of dust. Everybody watched the face of the commanding officer. Some one told General Taylor that a Mexican with a flag of truce wished to see him. It was a messenger from Santa Anna telling General Taylor that he had 20,000 troops and asking him to surrender. You have already been told the bold answer which the blunt soldier sent back, and what he said to his soldiers. You may be sure they cheered him warmly as he rode along their ranks on his old white horse and in his rusty uniform.

When the battle was hottest, and the Mexicans were coming on very boldly, General Taylor rode up to a captain of artillery and quietly said, "Captain Bragg, give them a little more grape." By this he meant that Captain Bragg should load his cannon with fine shot and drive back the enemy. And that was what the captain did, driving the Mexicans back in dismay.

It was a fearful battle, and at the close of the day over 700 of the American soldiers were killed or wounded, and nearly three times as many Mexicans. Many a time that day it was doubtful which side would win; but finally General Taylor's little band won the victory over Santa Anna's great army of 20,000 men. This victory caused the wildest enthusiasm throughout the United States. Everybody praised General Taylor as one of the greatest of soldiers.

Soon after this came the time for nominating a man for the Presidency to succeed President Polk. The Whig party thought that it was a good opportunity to take advantage of the popularity of General Taylor, and he was nominated for the Presidency. When he heard of it he said he would not consent to such a thing, declaring that he was only a soldier and was not fit to be President. For nearly forty years he had not cast a vote. There were many distinguished men who wanted the honor, and who had rendered their country valuable services, and these, of course, were sorely disappointed when General Taylor was nominated for the Presidency.

General Taylor had been given very little education. He did not know much of the ways of the world nor the history of different countries. Like every one else who undertakes something that he does not know much about, it caused him a great deal of worry when he found that he was elected President over two other candidates, Martin van Buren, who already had served one term as President, and General Cass.

However, his friends helped him write his speeches and prepare his public documents. When he went into office he found the people were very much agitated over the slavery question, and those who were opposed to slavery were very bitter against those who were for it. This gave much trouble to the poor President, who knew nothing about politics or the great national questions. It was easier for him to fight a battle than to try to please the different parties. All this worried him greatly and no doubt hastened his death. At any rate, he had not been in office much over a year before he took a severe cold, and after a brief illness of five days died July 5, 1850. His last words were: "I am not afraid to die. I am ready. I have endeavored to do my duty." He was the second President who had died in office. The people loved him dearly and respected him for his honesty.

Presidents, 1829 to 1850


So the kindly, honest, faithful old soldier, well named "Rough and Ready," left the world. Simple in his habits, kind-hearted, and true to his friends, brave as a lion before the enemy, and eager to do his duty in every position in life, his country had rewarded him with the highest honor it could bestow. But the weight of his new duties were too heavy for the old soldier, and soon he laid his high office down as another old soldier had done nine years before.

Millard Fillmore



The Second-Hand President

As far away as 1723 we come across a man named Fillmore who did a brave and daring deed. He was a fisherman, and the sloop in which he sailed was taken by a pirate vessel. A fine, strong seaman was Fillmore, and the pirate captain took him for one of his crew. But he refused to be a pirate, and he was treated harshly and cruelly. In the end, after several months, he and two others rose against the pirates when they were all drunk, killed four of them, and brought six others into Boston harbor. They were all hung, and the gun and sword, the gold rings and silver shoe buckles and other things, of the pirate captain were given as rewards to John Fillmore.

He had a son named Nathaniel, to whom, in time, he left the pirate captain's silver-hilted sword and other relics. Nathaniel went into the wilderness and made himself a home near what is now Bennington, in the State of Vermont. He fought against the red men in the French and Indian War. In the Revolution he was one of General Stark's Green Mountain Boys. He was a lieutenant at the battle of Bennington. He lived till the end of the war of 1812.

His son, also named Nathaniel, left Vermont for the wilderness of western New York, and built himself a home near what is called Sumners Hill, in Cayuga County. Here his son Millard was born on January 7, 1800. It was a humble home to which the boy came. There was little chance for an education or any other advantage. He got a little schooling, of the poorest kind, and certainly did not do much reading, for there were only two books in the house, one of them a Bible and the other a hymnbook. But the child was a merry, good-tempered little fellow, who did not shed any tears for the want of books, and no doubt had a good time at play.

He had some hard work to do on the farm, but it was a poor bit of ground, and the father thought that his son ought to learn a better business. So when the boy was fourteen he was sent to a place a hundred miles from home. Here he was to try his hand for a few months at "carding wool and dressing cloth."

Young Fillmore did not take to the business, nor to his master either, for he was hard and severe. But he stayed out his months, and then he shouldered his knapsack and started out on foot through the wilderness for home, a hundred miles away. You may see from this that he was a boy of great pluck and energy.

After he got home he went as apprentice to a place near; by to learn the cloth and clothing business. The boy now began to show that he had a mind of his own. As soon as he got a little money he bought a small English dictionary, which he studied while at work. And there was a small library in the village whose books he eagerly read. In that way he got to know a great deal about history and other things.

He grew to be a very handsome youth, and showed already much grace and polish of manner. His reading had roused in him a new ambition, and a rich lawyer near by advised him to study law, and offered him the use of his own office and his law books. The boy jumped at the chance. He had three years still to serve at his trade, but he bought out the balance of the time from his master, giving him his note instead of money, and promising to pay it out of the money he might earn as a lawyer. So we see the growing statesman launched at nineteen in the study of the law.

When he was twenty-one he went to Buffalo and there got into a good law office where he had an excellent chance. He paid his way by teaching school. You may see that the Bible and hymn-book in his father's home and the library in the village had borne good fruit. He was twenty-three years old when he began to practice law. He settled in the pretty little village of Aurora, and won his first suit, for which he was paid four dollars. Very likely he felt quite rich with his first earnings in his pocket.

In three years he was making money enough to get married, and chose for his wife Mrs. Abigail Powers, a clergyman's daughter, and a young lady of fine character and much good sense. Three years later he moved to Buffalo, where he began a prosperous practice. But certainly there was nothing in his life up to that time to show that, in little more than twenty years later on, he would be President of the United States.

Yet he now began to make his way in politics. He was sent to the Legislature and made some good speeches there. In 1832 he was elected to Congress. He continued to serve in Congress for three terms with an intermission. He was elected as Governor of his State and served with honor.

A new and much greater honor was in waiting for him. In 1844, when the Whig party had its National Convention, the members for New York spoke of Millard Fillmore for Vice-President. In 1848, when Zachary Taylor, the old hero fresh from victory in Mexico, was named by the Whigs for President, Millard Fillmore was named for Vice-President. The old soldier was a slave-holder, and it was thought the Northern lawyer would win many votes that might be lost. So the rugged Southern warrior and the polished Northern lawyer, were harnessed together and went briskly to the winning post. Taylor was elected President and Fillmore Vice-President of the United States.

Sixteen months passed by and the soldier President went to a soldier's grave. The Buffalo lawyer was President. Fortune had come to his side. As in the case of Tyler, he had risen to an honor which he probably never could have reached if death had not cleared the way for him.

You will be interested in an amusing little anecdote of President Fillmore. Soon after he took the oath of office he concluded that he must have a new carriage. He was told of one that could be bought, belonging to a gentleman who was about to leave Washington. There was about the White House an old Irish servant named Edward Moran, who was full of ready wit and had been much liked by President Taylor. The old chap did not quite approve of the change that had been made in Presidents.

When Fillmore went to look at the carriage he took "Old Edward" with him. They inspected it closely and concluded it would do.

"This is all very well, Edward," said the President, with a smile, "but how will it do for the President of the United States to ride in a second-hand carriage?"

"Sure that's all right, your Honor," said the old man, with a twinkling eye. "You're ownly a sicond hand President, you know."

Did Fillmore get angry at this remark? Not he. He was good-natured enough to laugh at it heartily, and he told it in after years as a good joke.

After leaving the Presidential chair, Mr. Fillmore spent much of the remainder of his life among his books and his friends. He visited Europe two years afterward and had a flattering reception. And after he came home the "Know-Nothing" party nominated him for President, but he carried only one State, the State of Maryland.

We cannot end without a word for Mrs. Fillmore. For a woman of her quiet habits and delicate health the duties of her position as mistress of the White House had been very trying. One serious deficiency she found. She was a great reader and the White House was nearly empty of books. To please her, Congress was asked to make an appropriation for a library. This was the beginning of the fine library which is now to be seen there. Her husband's term as President ended in March, 1853, and she died in the same month. Soon after her only daughter followed her to the grave.

Mr. Fillmore married again, his second wife being a Miss McIntosh of Buffalo. After that his life moved on serenely. The Civil War came and went, but he took no part and had not a word to say. Many thought that his sympathies were with the South. But he had sunk out of the channel of politics, and neither party troubled itself about what he might say or think. He lived on at his handsome home in Buff do, amid his friends and his books, and died there on March 8, 1874.

Franklin Pierce



The New Hampshire Man

I do not think there are many of my readers who have not read the story of the famous ride of Paul Revere, on that historic night of April 18, 1775, when the British were marching from Boston to Lexington and Concord. As he rode along he gave warning to the people that the British troops w e r e coming, and many a patriot began to put his gun in order for the coming fight.

Other messengers than Paul Revere were sent out by the patriots of Boston, and rode to the north, the west and the south, stopping before every farm house and in every hamlet to shout out the news they brought. They told the story of the shots at Lexington and the fight at Concord, and on every side farmers and farmers' boys seized their muskets and with stern faces took the road to Boston.

Among these was a strong and hardy young fellow of seventeen, a boy in years but a man in spirit. With his father's old gun over his shoulder and his powder horn by his side, he trudged resolutely onward to Boston, and here he soon distinguished himself by the brave way in which he fought at Bunker Hill. He fought as well in other fields, and when the war ended and the old Continentals were disbanded, Benjamin Pierce—for that was his name—was mustered out with the full rank of captain and with two hundred dollars in his pocket, which was all the Government had to pay him.

The boy of seventeen was now a man, and a strong and vigorous one. He had been brought up a farmer and decided that he must have a farm. So he set out north, looking for good and cheap land, and one day found a place to his liking, with plenty of water and good soil. It was in the State of New Hampshire, near the present town of Hillsborough.

After some hunting he found the owner in a log hut with a small clearing around it.

"Would you like to sell this land?" he asked.

"Don't keer much if I do," said the backwoodsman. "How much is there of it?''

"A good hundred and fifty acres and this patch of it cleared."

"Well, I'll give you a hundred and fifty dollars for it."

The frontiersman, who wanted to go deeper into the wilderness, as all frontiersmen did, took the offer, and for one dollar an acre, with log-house and clearing thrown in, Benjamin Pierce got his farm.

He soon cleared and added to it; other settlers came; farms were opened around him; villages grew up; it became quite a settlement, and in this Captain Pierce was the leading man. He was a bluff, hearty, kind-hearted man, liberal and hospitable, and won wide esteem in New Hampshire. He was made a general in the militia, was sent to the Legislature, was elected sheriff of his county, and in 1827 and again in 1829, was made governor of the State.

He married early and had eight children, five sons and three daughters. It is with one of these sons that we have to do, Franklin Pierce, born at Hillsborough, November 22, 1804. He was a boy after his father's heart, full of spirit, fond of fun and of outdoor sport, and a favorite with all who knew him. He had plenty of schooling, ending his education in Bowdoin College. Here he grew very popular in his class, but likely not with his teachers, for he wasted two years of his time in idleness and dissipation. The college boys formed a military company and made him the captain, and he cut up such lawless pranks with his company that he came near being sent home in disgrace.

But he made a good friend of Zenas Caldwell, a studious and religious boy, who gained such influence over wild Franklin Pierce, that the young rebel began to study hard to make up for lost time, and he graduated with fair honor. Among his schoolmates were John P. Hale, who became well known as a United States Senator, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, the famous novelist, who was a private in his military company.

With all his wildness, Franklin Pierce was a lovable boy, a favorite with everybody. He had a natural courtesy and a grace of speech and manner which won him friends on all sides. These qualities clung to him through life.

When he left college he studied law, as did so many who were to become Presidents. He became a good lawyer, though he lost his first case. But he showed his spirit by saying, "I will try nine hundred and ninety-nine cases, if clients trust me; and if I fail, as I have to-day, I will try the thousandth." Men like that do not fail.

Young Pierce soon became an active politician. In those days New England was a centre of political excitement. His father was an ardent believer in Thomas Jefferson and his party, and the boy followed in his footsteps. He became a Democrat in grain. He was elected or appointed to many offices of trust and honor, serving in the Legislature of his own State and in both Houses of Congress.

Franklin Pierce married in 1834, his wife being Jane Means Appleton, the daughter of a President of Bowdoin College. She was a young lady of fine intelligence and estimable character, but highly sensitive in organization, which was due to her delicate health. They made a happy and harmonious pair, for he was deeply devoted to her, and he seemed to prefer to live at home and attend to his law business, to holding any office.

But now came an event that took him from home. When Texas asked to be admitted to the Union, and the country was divided on that question, Pierce, like a good Democrat, and a strong opponent of the Anti-slavery party, was warm in its favor. He even declared that if it should bring on war with Mexico he was ready to enlist as a private in a Concord company. That was a very modest start, but soon after the President appointed him colonel of a regiment, and before he got to Mexico he was made Brigadier-General. Don't you think that was going up pretty rapidly, from private to general before he had seen a shot fired?

At the battle of Contreras his horse got frightened and threw him heavily among some rocks. He was severely hurt, but stayed with his men. The next day, when he attempted to march as usual, he fainted from his hurt. This was brought up against him when he ran for the Presidency, and some ugly things were said, but General Grant, who was there, says that he showed himself a brave man and a gentleman.

Soon after that the war ended and he came home. The people of Concord gave him a hearty reception and the Legislature voted him a sword of honor. He went back to his practice, but he kept up his interest in politics. And he was so strong a Democrat and an upholder of slavery that the people of the South looked on him as one of their special friends, a Northern man with Southern principles.

Time went on. General Taylor was elected President. He died and Fillmore took his place. Then came 1852 and a new election was at hand. The Whigs had won in 1848, but they were very weak now, and the Democrats were in the lead. When the Democratic National Convention met, the names of many statesmen were brought before it. There were Lewis Cass, James Buchanan, William L. Marcy, Stephen A. Douglas, Samuel Houston, and a dozen others. For four days the balloting went on, but no one got enough votes.

Then, on the fourth day, some one cast a vote for General Franklin Pierce, of New Hampshire. That took well, especially with the delegates from the South, and soon he had the States of New Hampshire and Virginia in his favor. After a dozen more ballots all opposition went down, and he was unanimously nominated for President.

No man in the country was more surprised than himself He did not dream of such a thing. A friend met him when he was out driving in his carriage, and shouted out to him:

"General, have you heard the news from Baltimore?"

"No," said Pierce in a quiet tone. "Who is nominated?"

"General Franklin Pierce, of New Hampshire. Let me congratulate you."

"I nominated? Well, you could not congratulate a more astonished man."

The nomination was sure to be an election, for the Whigs had grown very weak. They carried only four States. Twenty-seven went for the Democrats, and Franklin Pierce was President of the United States.

He had a stormy time before him. The Missouri Compromise was repealed and the territories left open for slavery. Then the fight in Kansas came on and blood was shed in the slavery contest. The President's sympathy was with the pro-slavery party, but the anti-slavery feeling in the North gradually got together in the new Republican party, which was soon to gain a great victory. The country was very prosperous during his four years in office, and all looked well for the Democracy in 1856, when James Buchanan was elected to succeed Franklin Pierce.

When Pierce left Washington in 1857, he went to a childless home. The last of his children, a bright boy of thirteen, had been killed in a railroad accident in 1852. His wife, too, was growing more feeble. He traveled in Europe for her health, but she gradually sank, and died in 1863.

Once more Franklin Pierce's voice was heard strongly and earnestly before the people. In 1861, when volunteers were gathering in Concord, Pierce, the Democratic ex-President, made a ringing war speech at a great mass-meeting, calling on the people to rally for the Union. He lived to see its end, dying quietly and peacefully, on October 8, 1869.

James Buchanan



The Man from Wheatland

In 1783, the year in which the American Revolution ended, James Buchanan, a young Scotch-Irish farmer from the County of Donegal, landed in Philadelphia. He had come to make his home in the land of promise beyond the seas. After looking around him for a good location, he settled at a place with the queer name of Stony Butter, in a mountain gorge at the foot of the eastern ridge of the Alleghanies." Here he got a position in a store, and did so well that in five years he had a store of his own—and a wife, too, for he got married that year. In 1791, on April 23rd, his first son was born, and was given his own name, that of James Buchanan. It was a name that he would make widely and well known.

Young James was a boy of promise and a good student. At fourteen he was ready to enter Dickinson College, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He graduated at the head of his class. Then he studied law, and in 1812, when he was twenty-one years old, was admitted to the bar.

In 1814 there came an exciting time, when the British plundered and burned Washington. The people were furious when they heard of it. A great meeting was held at Lancaster, in Pennsylvania, and a young lawyer, who had never made a public speech, now burst out in an address full of fire and patriotic spirit. His name was James Buchanan. As soon as he was done speaking he volunteered in a company that was organized on the spot. They got out their horses, called themselves dragoons, and rode away for Baltimore; but the British were gone before they got there, and they were discharged with honor.

Young Buchanan's fiery speech made him very popular in Lancaster, and he was elected soon after to the Pennsylvania Legislature. Here he made another ardent speech, demanding that soldiers should be enlisted for the war and properly supported. He said that Congress had not done its duty, and the people must take the matter in their own hands.

He did not know then that the war was at an end and a treaty of peace signed. At any rate, what he said was to the point and made him very prominent in the House.

From that time the Lancaster lawyer went on rapidly. His law business grew fast, and he was looked on as one of the leading lawyers of the State. He was sent twice to the Legislature and in 1820 was elected to Congress. Here he remained for ten years, his political feelings changing from a Federalist until he became a strong Democrat.

Now let us go back to his home affairs. All our Presidents have had their love stories, and Buchanan had his. But his was a very sad one. He fell in love in 1818 with a beautiful girl, Anne C. Coleman, the daughter of a wealthy citizen of Lancaster. They were betrothed, and all went happily till the summer of 1819, when a letter came from her, breaking off the engagement, and nearly breaking his heart, Some evil tongue had made sad mischief between the lovers.

Whatever the trouble, the lady refused to be reconciled, and a few months afterward, while on a visit to Philadelphia, she suddenly died. The shock was a great one to Buchanan, who loved her dearly. "My prospects are all cut off" he wrote to her father, "and I feel that my happiness is buried with her in the grave. The time will come when you will discover that she, as well as I, have been much abused. God forgive the authors of it." It was his last love affair, and he lived and died unwedded.

In the famous Presidential election of 1824, Buchanan used all his influence in favor of General Jackson for the Presidency. The old hero of New Orleans never forgot his friends, and when, four years later, he won his seat, he repaid Buchanan by making him United States Minister to Russia.

Buchanan was just the man for the place. He was refined, courteous and polished, knew how to yield gracefully when it was wise to do so, and was of a disposition and manner that fitted him for the associations of court life. He obtained a treaty of commerce from Russia, and won the favor of the Czar, who asked him, when the time came to leave, "to tell President Jackson to send him another minister like himself."

When he came home in 1834 he was elected to one of the highest offices in the gift of the people, that of Senator of the United States. He had now become a decided Democrat and a strong advocate of State-rights. In 1844 James K. Polk was made President, and in forming his Cabinet he chose Mr. Buchanan for the most important office in it, that of Secretary of State.

The name of James Buchanan was first brought up for President in 1852. But it was one among more than a dozen, and as no one was strong enough to beat the others, a new name, that of Franklin Pierce, was brought up and carried through. When the new President came into office, he appointed Buchanan minister to England.

The courtly Pennsylvanian was well received at the Court of St. James; but he had his troubles, for a question arose that made some annoyance for the ministers abroad and some fun for the journalists of the United States. Up to this time our ministers had worn a simple uniform which complied with the court dress regulations in Europe. But now Mr. Marcy, the new Secretary of State, sent them word that they must appear "in the simple dress of an American citizen."

"What was this simple dress?" One writer said it must mean war paint and leggings, with feathers, perhaps. Another suggested a red shirt and tow trousers. Those who had been military officers put on their uniform. Some kept away from court. Minister Buchanan kept away, too, for time. Then he got over the difficulty by adding a sword to his swallow-tail black suit.

It cannot be said that Buchanan enjoyed his new position any too much. There were other questions to be settled—ugly ones, some of them—and a good deal of bad feeling arose between the two countries. For that reason he was glad when the time was up and he could return home.

He was soon to be wanted for a higher post at home, for when the time came in 1856 for another Presidential election, it was soon seen that Mr. Buchanan was the strongest man in his party, so he was nominated and elected. A terrible time lay before the new President. None before him had been in so desperate a strait. The country was fast drifting into war. It was impossible for him to stop it, and it cannot be said that he made any strong efforts to do so.

Presidents, 1850 to 1877


Meanwhile the courtesies and amenities of the White House went on as usual. President Buchanan had no wife, but his beautiful and accomplished niece, Miss Harriet Lane, who had been with him in London, now ably took up the duties of mistress of the Presidential mansion, and performed them with a grace that has never been surpassed. Among those received by her was the Prince of Wales, now King Edward of England.

In 1860 the deluge came. The Republican party was triumphant and elected its candidate, Abraham Lincoln, to the Presidential chair. Now was the time for a resolute soul and a strong hand in the executive office. An Andrew Jackson or a man of his kind was sadly needed. But James Buchanan was utterly unfit for the exigency, and he let the South drift into secession while scarcely lifting his hand to hinder or prevent.

No doubt, his position was a very trying and difficult one. The wisest of men would have been in doubt as to what was best to do. But for a crisis like this no weaker man could have been found. He helped neither North nor South; he only waited and watched, and when his successor took his place he found the situation made very much worse by the lack of energy in James Buchanan.

The final years of Buchanan's life were passed at his home at Wheatland, near Lancaster, amid leisure, wealth and affection. He saw the end of the Civil War and was glad enough that the Union was preserved, though very sorry, we may be sure, that he had had the misfortune to be President in such perilous times. On June 1, 1868, the old statesman and ex-President passed away.

Abraham Lincoln



The Great Emancipator

Did you ever read a fairy story about a poor boy who became a prince? If you would like I can tell you as good a story as that—a true story about a poor boy who became president—and that is better than being a prince. The boy I am going to speak about was as poor as any one that ever lived in America; but he rose to a grander position than any prince or king ever reached. Listen to the story of his life. There was once a very poor man who lived in a miserable little log cabin in the wild part of what was then called "away out West." It was on a stony, weedy hillside, at a place called Nolin's Creek, in the State of Kentucky. In that log cabin, on the twelfth day of February, in the year 1809, a little baby was born. He was named Abraham Lincoln.

I don't believe you ever saw a much poorer or meaner place in which to be born and brought up than that little log cabin. Abraham Lincoln's father was ignorant and lazy. He could not read and he hated to work. Their house had no windows, it had no floor, it had none of the things you have in your pleasant homes. In all America no baby was ever born with fewer comforts and poorer surroundings than little Abraham Lincoln. He grew from a baby to a homely little boy, and to a homelier young man. His clothes never fitted him; he never, in all his life, went to school but one year; he had to work hard, he could play but little, and many a day he knew what it was to be cold and hungry and almost homeless. But with all this he had that in him which makes a man great.

Home Lincoln, Indiana


His father kept moving about from place to place, living almost always in the wild regions. He went from Kentucky to Indiana and then to Illinois. Sometimes their home would be a log cabin, sometimes it was just a hut with only three sides boarded up. Abraham Lincoln was a neglected and forlorn little fellow. His mother died when he was only eight years old. Then Abraham and his sister Sarah were worse off than ever. But pretty soon his father married a second wife, and Abraham's new mother was a good and wise woman, which was a very good thing for the boy.

She took care of him and gave him new clothes; she taught him how to make the most and do the best with the few things he had and the chances that came to him; she made him wish for better things; she helped him fix himself up, and encouraged him to read and study.

This last was what Abraham liked most of all, and he was reading and studying all the time. There were not many books where he lived, but he borrowed all he could lay his hands on, and read them over and over. He studied all the hard things he could find books about, from arithmetic and grammar to surveying and law. He wrote on a shingle, when he could not get paper, and by the light of a log fire, when he could not get candles. He worked out questions in arithmetic on the back of a wooden shovel, and when it was full of figures he scraped them off and began again. He read and studied in the fields, when he was not working; on wood piles, when he was chopping wood; or in the kitchen, rocking the cradle of any baby whose father or mother had a book to lend him. His favorite position for studying was to be stretched out like the long boy he was, on an old chair, in front of an open fire. Here he would read and write and cipher, after the day's work was over, until at last he grew to be one of the best scholars of all the boys round. You may see from this what hard study will do, even without teachers.

Once he borrowed a book of an old farmer. It was a "Life of Washington." He read it and read it again, and when he was not reading it he put it safely away between the logs that made the wall of his log-cabin home. But one day there came a hard storm; it beat against the cabin and soaked in between the logs and spoiled the book. Young Abraham did not try to hide the book nor get out of the trouble. He never did a mean thing of that sort. He took the soaked and ruined book to the old farmer, told him how it happened, and asked how he could pay for it.

"Wall," said the old farmer, "'t'aint much account to me now. You pull fodder for three days and the book is yours."

So the boy set to work, and for three days "pulled fodder" to feed the farmer's cattle.

He dried and smoothed and pressed out the "Life of Washington," for it was his now. And that is the way he bought his first book.

He was the strongest boy in all the country around. He could mow the most, plow the deepest, split wood the best, toss the farthest, run the swiftest, jump the highest and wrestle the best of any boy or man in the neighborhood. But though he was so strong, he was always so kind, so gentle, so obliging, so just and so helpful that everybody liked him, few dared to stand up against him, and all came to him to get work done, settle disputes, or find help in quarrels or trouble.

So he grew amid the woods and farms, to be a bright, willing, obliging, active, good-natured, fun-loving boy. He had to work early and late, and when he was a big boy he hired out to work for the farmers. He could do anything, from splitting rails for fences to rocking the baby's cradle; or from hoeing corn in the field to telling stories in the kitchen.

And how he did like to tell funny stories! Not always funny, either. For, you see, he had read so much and remembered things so well that he could tell stories to make people laugh and stories to make people think. He liked to recite poetry and "speak pieces," and do all the things that make a person good company for every one. He would sit in front of the country store or on the counter inside and tell of all the funny things he had seen, or heard, or knew. He would make up poetry about the men and women of the neighborhood, or make a speech upon things that the people were interested in, until all the boys and girls, and the men and women too, said "Abe Lincoln," as they called him, knew everything worth knowing, and was an "awful smart chap."



He worked on farms, ran a ferry-boat across the river, split rails for farm fences, kept store, did all sorts of "odd jobs" for the farmers and their wives, and was, in fact, what we call a regular "Jack of all trades." And all the time, though he was jolly and liked a good time, he kept studying, studying, studying, until, as I have told you, the people where he lived said he knew more than anybody else. Some of them even said that they knew he would be President of the United States some day, he was so smart. Wasn't that wonderful for a boy brought up as he was and with such a father as he had?

The work he did most of all was splitting great logs into rails for fences. He could do as much as three men at this work; he was so strong. With one blow he could bury the axe in the wood. Once he split enough rails for a woman to pay for a suit of clothes she made him, and all the farmers around liked to have "Abe Lincoln" split their rails.

He could take the heavy axe by the end of the handle and hold it out straight from his shoulder. That is something that only a very strong-armed person can do. In fact, as I have told you, he was the champion strong-boy of his neighborhood, and, though he was never quarrelsome or a fighter, he did enjoy a friendly wrestle. He made two trips down the long Ohio and the broad Mississippi rivers to the big city of New Orleans. He sailed on a clumsy, square, flat-bottomed scow, called a flat-boat. Lincoln worked the forward oar on the flat-boat, to guide the big craft through the river currents and over snags.

After that Lincoln tried store-keeping. He had already been a clerk in a country store; now he set up a store of his own. He was not very successful. He loved to read and study better than to wait on customers, and his business was not looked after very well, and he had a partner that was lazy and good for nothing, and who got him into trouble. But, through it all, Lincoln never did a mean or dishonest thing. He paid all the debts of the store, though it took him years to do this, and he could be so completely trusted to do the right thing that all the people round about came to call him "Honest Abe Lincoln." That's a good nick-name, isn't it?

After Lincoln got through keeping store he was so much liked by the people, and they thought him so smart and such a fine speaker, that they chose him to go to the Legislature of Illinois again and again, and here he began to express in many ways his disapproval of slavery.

After he served several terms in the Legislature he became a lawyer—he had already been studying law, you know. He was a bright, smart and successful lawyer. What is better still, he was a good and honest one. He never would take a case he did not believe in, and once when a man came to engage him to help get some money from a poor widow, Lincoln refused, and gave the man such a scolding that he did not try it again. So Mr. Lincoln grew to be one of the best lawyers in all that Western country.

Because he was so honest and thoughtful in speech and action, Lincoln rose to be what is called an able orator and statesman. He and another famous man, named Douglas, looked at things differently, and they had long discussions about politics and slavery. These discussions were held where all the people could hear them, in big halls or out of doors, and crowds of people went to listen to them, so that very soon everybody "out West "and people all over the country had heard of Lincoln and Douglas.

They had much to say about slavery, which everybody was then talking and thinking about. Douglas said that slave-holders should have the right to take their slaves into new States or Territories, and Lincoln said they should not. There were two great parties in the country, the Democrats, who said the same as Douglas did, and the Republicans, who said the same as Lincoln, and between these parties there was much bad feeling. They fought with words in Congress long before they began to fight with guns in the field.

At last came a time when the people of the United States were to choose a new President. And what do you think? These two men were picked out by the opposite parties to be voted for by the people—Lincoln by the Republicans, and Douglas by the Democrats. You may see by this that they had both become famous, though they lived in a back county, far "out West."

When election day came the Republicans won. The poor little backwoods boy, the rail-splitter, the flat-boatman, the farm-hand, was raised to the highest place over all the people. Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States. Is not that as good as the fairy story of the poor boy who became a prince? It is better, for it is true.

But there were terrible times coming, and Lincoln was to be President through four years of dreadful war. For the people of the South, who owned the slaves then in the country, said that the Republican party wanted to rob them of their slaves and that they would not live under a Republican President. They would take their States out of the Union and form a new Union of their own.

Lincoln, you may be sure, was much troubled. He begged the people not to quarrel, but he said that the Union must not be broken. The people of the South cared very little for what he said. They tried to secede—that is, to draw out of the Union—and they fired on a fort over which waved the flag of the United States. That stirred up the people of the North, and soon there were drilling, and marching, and fighting, and the whole country was full of the spirit of war.

For four dreadful years the war went on. Many desperate and terrible battles were fought, for each side was eager to win. Neither side would give in, and brave soldiers, under brave leaders, did many gallant deeds under that terrible necessity that men call war. This war was especially dreadful, because it was like two brothers fighting with each other, and you know how dreadful that must be. There are times when brothers grow to hate each other more than strangers, and that was the way then between the North and South. It is not the way to-day, for the North and South have become like true brothers again.

During all those four years of war Abraham Lincoln lived in the President's house at Washington—the White House, as it is called. He had but one wish—to save the Union. He did not mean to let war, nor trouble, nor wicked men destroy the nation that Washington had founded, if he could help it. He was always ready to say, "We forgive you," if the men of the South would only stop fighting and say, "We are sorry." But they would not do this, much as the great, kind, patient, loving President wished them to do it.

That he was kind and loving all through that terrible war we know very well. War is a dreadful thing, and when it is going on many hard and cruel things are done. As the wounded soldiers lay in their hospitals, after some dreadful battle had torn and maimed them, the good President would walk through the long lines of cot-beds, talking kindly with them, and would send them good things, and do everything he could to relieve their sufferings and make them comfortable.

In war, too, you know, even brave soldiers often get tired of the fighting and the privations and the delay, and wish to go home to see their wives and children. But they cannot do so, unless their captain permits. So sometimes they get impatient and run away. This is called desertion, and when a deserter is caught and brought back to the army he is shot.

Lincoln and Peace Commission


Now President Lincoln was so loving and tender-hearted that he could not bear to have any of his soldiers shot because they had tried to go home. So, where the case was not too bad, he would write a paper saying the soldier must not be shot. This is called a pardon, and often when a weak or timid soldier was arrested and sentenced to be shot as a deserter, his friends would hurry to the good President and beg him to give the man a pardon.

He almost always did it. "I don't see how it will do the man any good to shoot him," he would say. "Give me the paper, I'll sign it," and so the deserter would go free, and perhaps make a better soldier than ever, because the good President had saved him. The question of slavery kept coming up during the war. Many men at the North asked Lincoln to set all the slaves in the land free, but he said: "The first thing to do is to save the Union; after that we'll see about slavery."

Some of them did not like that. They said the President was too slow. But he knew very well what he was about. He waited patiently until the right time came. He saw that the South was not willing to give in, and that something must be clone to show them that the North was just as determined as they were. So, after a great victory had been won by the soldiers of the Union, Abraham Lincoln wrote a paper and sent it out to the world, saying that on the first day of January, 1863, all slaves in America should be free men and women—what we call emancipated—and that, forever after, there should be no such thing as slavery in free America.

It was a great thing to do. It was a greater thing to do it just as Lincoln did it, and while the world lasts no one will ever forget the Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln.

Still the war went on. But, little by little, the South was growing weaker, and at last, in the month of April, 1865, the end came. The Southern soldiers gave up the fight. The North was victorious. The Union was saved.

You may be sure that the great and good President was glad. He did not think that he had done so very much. It was the people who had done it all, he said. But the people knew that Lincoln had been the leader and captain who had led them safely through all their troubles, and they cheered and praised him accordingly. As for the black people who had been set free, they blessed him for saving them.

When President Lincoln at last stood in the streets of Richmond, which had been the capital of the Southern States, he was almost worshiped by the colored people. They danced, they sang, they cried, they prayed, they called down blessings on the head of the man who had set them free. They knelt at his feet, while the good President, greatly moved by what he saw, bowed pleasantly to the shouting throng, with tears of joy and pity rolling down his care-wrinkled face. Don't you think it must have been a great and blessed moment for this good and great and noble man? But it was the same all over the land. There were cheering and shouting and thanksgiving everywhere for a re-united nation, and even the South, weary with four years of unsuccessful war, welcomed peace and quiet once more.

Then, who in all the world was greater than Abraham Lincoln? He had done it all, people said, by his wisdom, his patience and his determination, and the splendid way in which he had directed everything from his home in the White House.

The year before, in the midst of the war, he had been elected President for the second time. It is not safe to swap horses when you are crossing a stream," he said. So the people voted not to "swap horses."

Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address


Lincoln made a beautiful speech to the people when he was again made President. He spoke only of love and kindness for the men of the South, and while he said the North must fight on to the end and save the Union, they must do it not hating the South, but loving it. And this is the way he ended that famous speech. Remember his words, boys and girls, they are glorious: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in . . . and achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

But, just when the war was ended, when peace came to the land again; when all men saw what a grand and noble and loving and strong man the great President was; when it looked as if, after four years of worry, weariness and work, he could at last rest from his labors 2nd be happy, a wicked, foolish and miserable man shot the President, behind his back. And, on the morning of the fifteenth of April, in the year 1865, just after the end of the war, Abraham Lincoln died.

Then how all the land mourned! South, as well as North, wept for the dead President. All the world sorrowed, and men and women began to see what a great and noble man had been taken from them.

The world has not got over it yet. Every year and every day only make Abraham Lincoln greater, nobler, mightier. No boy ever, in all the world, rose higher from poor beginnings. No man who ever lived did more for the world than Abraham Lincoln, the American. He saw what was right, and he did it; he knew what was true, and he said it; he felt what was just, and he kept to it. So he stands to-day, for justice, truth and right.

Andrew Johnson


The Tailor who Became President

There are many things which have had to do with making men Presidents of the United States, but it was not until April, 1865, that murder was one of those things. In that fair month, just after the Civil War came to its end, and peace and happiness seemed ready again to settle down upon the land, the foul hand of an assassin took from us one of the best Presidents we had ever known, the revered Abraham Lincoln. Then according to law, Andrew Johnson, the Vice-President, became President.

He and Abraham Lincoln, who were elected together to these two great offices, both began life as very poor boys. Johnson began, in one way, lower than Lincoln, for he did not even know how to read and write until after he was sixteen years old, and by that age Lincoln had read many books and was getting to be what the people called learned.

Andrew Johnson was born in the city of Raleigh, North Carolina, on the 29th of September, 1808. Like Lincoln, he was born in a small log-cabin. His parents belonged to that class known as poor white trash," whom even the slaves of the South looked down on and despised. But his father must have been a good and brave man, for he was drowned in trying to save a friend who had fallen overboard.

Little Andrew was then only four years old. His mother had to work bard to keep both of them alive, and he had to help all he could, so he had no chance to go to school. He was only ten years old when he was made a tailor's apprentice, and he worked hard for five years before he ever heard a man read. In those days there was not much education for the poor, and hardly any at all in the South.

When the ignorant prentice boy heard a man read to the tailors he thought it was wonderful. It seemed to him almost like magic. A strong wish came to him to do this wonderful thing himself, and he got some of the men in the shop to teach him his letters. He was quick to learn them, for he had a very good mind.

But Andrew Johnson did not get what we may call an education until he was eighteen years old, and then he owed it to a good woman whom he made his wife. Ibis mother and he had moved to Greenville, a small town in the mountain part of Tennessee, and here he did the best thing in his life, for he met and married a bright young girl who was well educated and had read a great many books.

The young couple were poor enough, but they both wanted to get on in life, and the young wife, who was a very attractive and ambitious girl, set herself to teaching her husband. She read to him while he worked at his trade, and in the evenings she became an earnest teacher and he became an eager pupil. In that way he soon got something of an education. He had a very good memory and held on to all that was read to him or that he read himself, and few boys ever got along more rapidly than the poor young tailor under the careful teaching of his wife.

[ ** missing pages 175-178 ***]

Ulysses Simpson Grant



America's Greatest General

Would you like to be a soldier? Do not all say yes to that, for a soldier's life is not all holiday and parade. We all like to see soldiers marching, with their drums and guns and flags and uniforms. They make a fine sight, and most of us hurrah and clap our hands as the regiments march by; and many think that a soldier's life must be a splendid one. But when these soldiers go marching to battle it is quite another thing. For war is terrible, and some of the bravest soldiers hate it the most.

Sometimes, however, great questions and bitter quarrels can only be settled by war and fighting, and then it is well for the people to have their armies led to battle by such a great and gallant soldier as I am going to speak of.

His name was Ulysses Simpson Grant. He was born in a little town, out in Ohio, called Point Pleasant, on the twenty-seventh of April, in the year 1822. The house in which he was born is still standing. It is on the banks of the Ohio River, and you can look across to Kentucky, on the other side of the river. But he did not live there long, for when he was only a year old his father moved to a place called Georgetown, not far away, where Ulysses spent his boyhood.

Ulysses was a strong, healthy, go-ahead little fellow, who did not like to go to school very well. But, if he had anything to do, either in work or play, he stuck to it until it was done. At seven or eight years of age he drove the wagons loaded with wood from the forest to the house. At eleven he was strong enough to hold a plough. When he was seventeen years old, he was sent to the splendid school among the beautiful highlands of the Hudson River, in New York, where boys are taught to become soldiers of the United States Army. This is called the United States Military Academy, and is at a place named West Point.

Young Grant stayed four years at this famous school. He did not like the school part of it any more at West Point than he did at his Ohio school-house, but he loved horses, and became a fine horseback rider. When he left West Point he was made second lieutenant in the United States Army. He went home, but in a year or two there was a war between the United States and Mexico, the country that joins us on the south. This war is called the Mexican War.

Young Ulysses Grant went to this war, and fought the Mexicans in many bloody battles. He was a daring young officer, and his men followed willingly wherever he led. In one of the hardest battles of the war—the battle of Monterey—the American soldiers charged into the town and then got out of ammunition—that is, their powder and shot ran out. To get any more, some one would have to ride straight through the fire of the Mexicans, who were in the houses of the town; so the general did not think he could order any soldier to do this. But he asked who would do it.

Lieutenant Grant at once said he would go. He mounted his horse, but slipped over on the side furthest from the houses in which the Mexicans were hiding. Then he set his horse on a gallop, and so dashed through the town and past all the hostile houses, and brought back the ammunition in safety.

[Illustration] from True Stories of Our Presidents by Charles Morris


He did many other brave and soldierly things when he was a young officer in this war with Mexico, but he was always such a modest man that he never liked to tell of his courageous deeds. When he did, he would generally say: "O, well; the battle would have been won, just as it was, if I had not been there." The brave men and the bravest boys, you know, never boast.

At another time, when a strong fort was in the path of the Americans, Lieutenant Grant dragged a small cannon away up into a church steeple, and, pointing it at the fort, fired his cannon balls so swift and straight and sure that the Mexican soldiers had to run out of the fort, and the Americans marched into it and soon after took the city it had defended. The Mexicans were defeated in many battles, and at last the cruel war was ended. The Americans were victorious and marched back north to their homes.

Soon after he came back, Grant got married. Three years afterward he had to go without his wife to California and Oregon, where his regiment was sent.

He soon got tired of being away from his wife and children, so he gave up the business of soldier, and went back to his little farm near St. Louis, in Missouri.

He lived in a log-house on his farm with his wife and children. At times he was quite poor. He moved from St. Louis to the town of Galena, in Illinois, where he became a tanner and made leather with his father and brothers.

One evening, in the spring of 1861, there was great excitement at Hanover, a little town a few miles from Galena, where Grant lived. The firing on the flag and the call for soldiers to defend the Union had aroused all the Northern land. A mass-meeting had been called at the town-hall, but the crowds were too large for the building, so they met at the Presbyterian Church, which was much larger. There were many fiery speeches, and at last a man whom few there knew was called upon for a speech; he rose, looking scared and nervous. He was a rather heavy man, of average height, with square features and resolute jaws. What made the crowd look at him was his old blue army-coat—the only one in the audience. Some of the people there knew that he had been in the Mexican War, and bore the rank of captain.

Everybody was quiet, and all eyes were turned to the man in the blue army-coat. At last he said, in a quiet, homely fashion, after a good deal of effort:

"Boys, I can't make a speech. I never made a speech in my life. But when the time comes to go to the front, I am ready to go with you,"

The man who said this in the old brick meeting-house at Hanover was Ulysses S. Grant. That he was ready to march, if not ready to talk, he soon showed.

Grant was a very modest man. He had no pride and no vanity, and did not think he was much of a soldier. There are men who do not know what they can do till they are tried. Instead of asking for a high office, as so many paper soldiers did, he began in a very humble way by drilling some awkward countrymen. Then he was put to mustering in regiments, but when he asked to be made colonel of a regiment, no notice was taken of his request. He was too quiet about it, and he tells us he was afraid he did not know enough to command a regiment. Do you not think that Grant was much too modest?

Anyhow, old soldiers were badly wanted, and Captain Grant was soon made a colonel. He marched away with his raw soldiers until he came near where there were some Confederate soldiers. Grant does not tell us that he was afraid, but that he "would have given anything to be back in Illinois." But he marched ahead, all the same, and when he came where the Confederates had been, he found they were all gone. They must have felt the same way as he did. Soon after that some one told President Lincoln that Colonel Grant was a good soldier. The President just then wanted good soldiers and gave him the rank of brigadier-general. That was a big move up from drilling raw recruits.

Gettysburg Incident


After the war had been going on for several months the men who were at the head of things began to find out that General Grant knew his business, and he was given command of a large number of men and marched with them against the Confederates, as the Southern soldiers were called. There were some hard battles fought, among them one at Belmont, on the Mississippi River, at which village a severe engagement took place. This was General Grant's first fight, and he got the worst of it, for the enemy had more men and guns than he had. But he got his men off all right. That was his first battle and the only time he met with any sort of a defeat.

I cannot tell the whole story of his battles. You will read them some time in history. All I can do here is to run over them very fast. Grant's first great victory was at a place in Kentucky called Fort Donelson. Here he got 15,000 Confederate soldiers cooped up as tightly as so many rats in a trap. "What terms can you give us?" asked the Confederate general. "No terms except unconditional surrender," said Grant. That meant that they must give up everything—their fort, their men, and their arms. And they did.

Grant's at Fort Donelson


This was the first great victory of the war, and the people praised General Grant highly and said that he was a fine soldier. Some said that his name, U. S. Grant, stood for "Unconditional Surrender Grant," and everybody liked the sound of that.

Grant's next great battle was at a place in Tennessee called Shiloh. It was one of the most dreadful battles of the war. General Grant was not nervous any longer and did not wish he was back in Illinois. He went in to fight and to win. The battle lasted through two days in April, 1862. Albert Sidney Johnston, a brave and able general, led the Confederates. Had not General Grant hung on like a bulldog and shown a wonderful skill in handling his men, the Northern troops would surely have been beaten, and the Union cause would have been sadly put back.

But he stuck to it. He must win, that was all. And he did win. He rode up and down the line all that terrible Saturday and Sunday, giving orders, directing and encouraging his men. For he knew that they were mostly soldiers who had never seen a battle, and he knew that unless they were made braver by the courage and bravery of their leaders, they would not make good soldiers.

So all through this dreadful battle of Shiloh, in which the dash and bravery of the South first met the courage and endurance of the North, General Grant was in the thick of it, always where he was wanted, inspiring his soldiers, bringing victory out of defeat, and showing the world what a great general he really was.

After that great victory he kept defeating the Confederate soldiers whenever he fought them. They were very brave, for they were Americans. But they had not so able a general to lead them in battle. At last Grant got a large Southern army surrounded in a town called Vicksburg, He marched his soldiers against it and built forts around it and banged away at it with his great cannons until at last, when the Confederates in the town could get no help and could not get away, they gave up the town and all its forts and soldiers and guns to General Grant. That is called the surrender of Vicksburg. After another great victory at Chattanooga, among the mountains, General Grant was given command of all the armies of the United States, and men began to say that he was one of the greatest generals of the world.

So far he had fought in the West. Now he came East and took command of the Northern soldiers in Virginia—what was called the Army of the Potomac. Here he fought the Confederates and their brave leader, General Lee, for a whole year. There were many dreadful battles. There never were harder ones in all the world. But General Grant knew that if he wished to win he must fight hard and terribly. The fighting was in the region that separated the two capitals—Washington, the capital of the United States, and Richmond, the capital of the Confederate States, as the Southern government was called.

Here the two greatest generals of the war, Grant and Lee, were face to face. Neither were defeated, but Lee had to go back, step by step, till Grant and his soldiers got near to Richmond. When Grant was asked what he was going to do, he said, in his grim way, "I will fight it out on this line if it takes all summer."

It did take all summer, and all winter, too; but Grant kept "fighting it out on that line." He did not know what it meant to give up, and at last General Lee could hold out no longer. Probably no other soldier in America could have defeated General Lee and his soldiers except General Grant. The Southern soldiers were brave and determined; they were desperate; they knew if they did not beat Grant and capture Washington the cause of the South must be given up; and they, too, had one of the best generals in the world.

So they fought on, even after they began to get hungry and ragged, and long after the South was poor and empty. Gradually, however, they grew weaker; and still General Grant kept at it, forcing them back, back, until at last they had to leave Richmond, and General Lee was forced to make an "unconditional surrender," with all his army. This was on the 9th of April, 1865, at a place in Virginia called Appomattox. It was the end of a long and cruel war.

And now General Grant showed his fine spirit. The men he had conquered were Americans. They were brave and thought they were fighting for their rights. Grant might have treated them harshly and cruelly, but he was not that kind of a man. He told them to keep their horses so that when they got home they could plough their fields and get them ready for planting; he gave them food and clothes, and sent them away friends; he said to North and South alike: "The war is over. Let us have peace."

Grant and Mrs. Grant


Of course his great success made him a hero. He was a splendid one, as great a soldier as Napoleon and a much better man. General Grant was quiet, modest and silent. Of course, the world thought all the more of him because he did not try to put himself forward. The people of his own country thought so much of him that they twice made him President of the United States, just as they had done Washington and Lincoln. That was a pretty good rise for a little Western farmer boy and tanner.

At the end of his second term as President he made a journey around the world, for he had always wished to see foreign lands. Wherever he went he was received with the greatest honor. Kings and queens and princes invited him to their palaces and were glad to see him. He visited the Queen of England in her palace of Windsor Castle; he talked with the soldiers and statesmen of the world, while emperors honored him as one of the world's famous men, and cities welcomed him as the foremost general of the day and the man who had been President of the great Republic.

I am sorry to say that this is not the whole story of General Grant's life, but that misfortune and misery came upon him in his later years. Some men in New York City induced him to put his money in a business which they had started, telling him that they could make much money for him. One of them proved a fraud and cheat. He used General Grant's name to deceive the people, and managed the business so that everything was lost. Then he ran away, after robbing Grant and the others who had trusted in him.

The news of this shameful affair broke the great general down. It almost defeated the soldier who had never known defeat. It made him weak and sick. But, just as he had marched to war courageously, so now he faced disaster just as bravely. He set to work to make his losses good, and, because all the world wished to hear about him, he began to write the story of his life and his battles.

He kept himself alive to do this. He was taken sick with a frightful disease, but for over a year he fought ruin and a terrible pain as stoutly as he had ever battled with real soldiers, while all the world looked on in love and pity. He won the fight, for he did not give up until his book was finished. On the twenty-first of July, 1885, on the mountain-top to which he had been carried, near Saratoga, in New York, General Grant died, and all the world mourned a great man gone.

The world mourned, for men and women everywhere had learned to honor the great general as much for his victories over disaster, disgrace and pain as for his conquests in war and his governing in peace. His funeral, on Saturday, August 8, 1885, was one of the grandest public ceremonials ever seen in America. The President of the United States, senators, governors, generals, judges and famous men came to New York to show their sorrow and esteem, and the poor boy of the Western prairies was buried on the banks of the Hudson in a tomb erected by the great General's friends, amid the solemn tolling of bells and firing of cannon, while all people and all lands sent words of sorrow and of sympathy to the Republic which had honored him in death as it had honored him in life.

Rutherford Birchard Hayes



A President by a Small Majority

There are men whose lives were full of incident and adventure, who had a hard struggle with poverty in their youth, or whose career was otherwise of great interest. Of such men there is much to say, and several of these have been Presidents of the United States. There are others who had no struggles and little adventure, and whose lives have moved calmly and quietly on. Such a man was Rutherford Birchard Hayes, the nineteenth President of this great Republic.

Mr. Hayes was of sound New England stock, for his family came from the Green Mountain State, where they had been earnest patriots in "the times that tried men's souls." Thence they went west and settled in the new State of Ohio. Here, in the town of Delaware, the future President was born, on the 4th of October, 1822.

No trouble or distress, no hard work or scant fare, no visions of poverty and want came to the growing boy, for his father owned and worked a large farm and kept a store as well, so that there was plenty for all, and the boy grew up in a comfortable and happy home. He was a stout, happy little fellow, so rosy of countenance that they gave him the pet name of Ruddy. His family had been one of soldiers, for some of its sons had fought in the Revolution and the war of 1812, and he grew up with the soldier spirit which they passed on to him.

His father died when he was a child, but all went well with the family, for he left them plenty to live on. Rutherford and his little sister Fanny went to a small school near their home, and their mother helped them with their lessons, so that they got on very nicely. He was a good scholar, and when he got older was sent to academies at a distance from home, and afterward to Kenyon College, in Ohio.

He was sixteen years old then, a hearty, strong boy, good at his books, but also fond of fun and sport, as all hearty boys should be, and he was strong and hardy, for we are told that once, when winter's snows lay deep on the ground, he walked all the way from college to his home and back again, a distance of forty miles. At college he had plenty of friends; all liked him, for he was very genial and sociable. He graduated in 1842, and his valedictory speech won him much praise.

The young student had made up his mind to take up the profession which so many of our Presidents have followed, that of the law; and after studying for a time at Columbus, Ohio, he went to the Law School of Harvard College, where he spent two years of close study. I think he must have worked a little too hard over the dry books of the law, for when he came home and tried to practice he found himself so weak and sickly that he had to go far down South and spend a winter there for his health.

He got quite hearty there. People often do, for the soft airs and the spicy odors of the far South are great healers. When he got to feeling well and strong again he came back and opened an office in Cincinnati. Here he was soon busy enough and he made hosts of friends, for he was very friendly and fond of good society. He met and married a very attractive young woman named Lucy W. Webb. She was the daughter of a doctor, and was a student at a college in Cincinnati when he got acquainted with her. She was young and pretty, of a fine character and very attractive in manner, and she proved to have a rare and lovely soul. The two were very happy indeed, and Mr. Hayes soon got a good practice in his profession, and became so popular that he was chosen to fill important positions in the city government. Such was the state of affairs in his life when 1861 came round and the Civil War broke out.

Now the soldier spirit in Rutherford Hayes showed itself. He was an earnest lover of the Union, and when he heard that Fort Sumter had been fired on by the secessionists, he was eager to fight for the old flag. When word came to Cincinnati that the flag of the stars and stripes had been insulted, a great mass-meeting was held, of which Mr. Hayes was made chairman. He was chosen because it was known that he was a warm patriot and one of the leaders of the war party. When men began to volunteer for the war he was quick to join them, and the Twenty-third Ohio Regiment chose him for its major. A few months after that he was made lieutenant-colonel, and he kept going up in rank, till he became a general.

There is a very interesting thing to be said about the Twenty-third Regiment. It had in it two men who were to become Presidents of the United States. One of these was Major Hayes, and the other was a boy who carried a musket in the ranks. His name was William McKinley. It is well to say here that the Major got to know and think a great deal of the boy private. They became in time very good friends, and as long as they lived they were close companions. When Hayes became President, McKinley was in Congress, and they kept up in Washington the old friendly feeling that they had felt on the battlefield.

Great battles were fought and the Twenty-third Ohio took part in them. Hayes was promoted to be colonel of the regiment, and at the famous battle of South Mountain he fought like a hero. He was wounded four times, and in one battle his horse was shot dead under him. This was in the Shenandoah Valley, where he fought in a number of severe battles. He did his duty so nobly that he was made a brigadier-general.

Mrs. Hayes showed herself to be a true soldier's wife. She left home and sought her husband's camp, where she brought a ray of brightness into his life and won the hearts of the wounded by her devoted services. She mended the torn clothes of the rough soldiers, she nursed the wounded with loving care, and showed a sympathy that did them more good than all their medicines. While he was fighting so bravely he was nominated for Congress.

General Hayes did not need to go home to electioneer. He was elected while he was in the field. The people at home liked him better as a fighter than they would have done as a politician. The next spring the war ended and he went home. He had now won the brevet rank of major-general, and his friend McKinley had risen from the ranks to his former grade of major. When the next Congress met, on the 4th of December, 1865, Hayes took his seat in the House.

He spent only two years in Congress. His services there were not as brilliant as on the field of battle. He was not a splendid orator, but he had good sense and sound judgment; he was fearless in his struggle for right and justice, and he won the respect and regard of his fellow members.

The people of his State must have thought very highly of him, for at the end of his term in Congress they chose him for Governor of Ohio, and twice afterward they re-elected him to that important and honorable post. That brought him on to 1873. Since 1861 he had been busily engaged in public duties, as soldier, Congressman, and as Governor. Now he thought he had earned a rest and made up his mind to go back to private life. So he sought a home in Fremont, Ohio, where he had lived for a short time after he left college, and settled down for a good long life in peace and quiet.

Little did he dream what was coming. It is not likely the modest lawyer ever thought of going higher than Governor of Ohio. But the people of the country thought differently. When the Republican National Convention met in 1876 to choose a candidate for the Presidency the names of many brilliant men were brought before it. But gradually the name of Governor Hayes rose above them all, and after a sharp contest he was chosen as the party's candidate for President. Samuel J. Tilden, of New York, was nominated by the Democratic party, and the fight was on.

It was a famous contest. It was so close that no one could be sure who was elected. The Republicans claimed that they had elected Hayes and the Democrats that they had elected Tilden, and both parties grew very angry. There was much bitter talk; men called their opponents frauds and cheats; the country was full of dread of the evil passions that had been raised, for even threats of civil war were made.

The trouble came from the election in the South, where the votes of some of the States were so close that it was hard to decide who was elected. In Florida and Louisiana the largest number of votes were counted for the Democratic candidates. But the Returning Boards, whose duty it was to count the votes, said that there were frauds in certain districts and would not count their votes. This gave the Republicans the majority.

The Democrats cried out that they had been cheated and that Tilden was elected. The Republicans cried out as loudly that the Returning Boards were right and that Hayes was elected. When the question came before Congress the fight was as severe there, and no decision could be reached. The House was for Tilden and the Senate was for Hayes. In the end the dispute had to be given over to an Electoral Commission, made up of five Senators, five Representatives, and five Judges of the Supreme Court. The Commission decided, by a majority of one, that Hayes was elected.

After his term of office was ended President Hayes went back to his home in Fremont, Ohio, where he settled down with hopes of a long and happy life. He was still less than sixty years old and was wide-awake to all the great questions of the day. He lived, respected by all who knew him, till January 17, 1893, when death took him away.

There is one thing more to be said. While Hayes was President, and his noble wife was mistress of the White House, no wine was ever put on the table, even when banquets were given and foreign ministers were invited. Mrs. Hayes was a very earnest temperance woman, and her husband supported her in this, though there were many severe things said about them. This was the first and only time in the history of the country that wine has not had its place on the White House table, at least in the great State banquets.

James Abram Garfield



The Second Martyred President

I am about to tell you the story of another boy who began life almost as poor as Abraham Lincoln, and who like him rose to be President of the United States. He, too, was without warning killed by a base and wicked murderer. He was the second American President to be murdered, and there was soon to be a third. Men are often killed for some wrong or injustice they have done, but these were three of the best and kindest men, as well as the ablest, who ever held the office of President, and this makes their murder all the more dreadful.

But this comes later on in my story. What I have now to tell is how another farmer boy, like Lincoln and Grant, rose by the same qualities of industry and push to greatness, and was elected to the highest office in the United States.

About seventy years ago, when the great State of Ohio was little more than a wilderness, a man by the name of Abram Garfield moved from the State of New York out into that wild country, and settled in Cuyahoga County. The name Cuyahoga is an Indian word, and at that time there were a great many Indians in the State. Abram Garfield had married, before going to Ohio, a young woman by the name of Eliza Ballou, whose ancestors had fled from persecution in France about one hundred and fifty years before.

When Abram Garfield and his young wife moved to Ohio they settled in what was known as "The Wilderness," where quite a number of other people from Connecticut had recently moved and built houses for themselves. The whole country was covered with great forests, and the first work to be done was to clear away a place in the woods and build a log cabin.

It had but one room, with a door, three windows, and a chimney at one end. Abram Garfield and his wife had three children when they moved to this rough country, and about a year after they got there their youngest son was born. They named him James Abram—"Abram" being for his father. There were now mother and father and four children living in this little log-cabin out in the wilderness.

Garfield's birthplace


All day long the father cut trees in the forest, or worked in his new fields among the stumps which were still left in the ground; but he was very industrious and raised enough on the farm to support his family, while Mrs. Garfield, with her spinning-wheel and loom, was all day busy in spinning thread and weaving cloth to make them clothes.

They had no servant, but waited on themselves, not only growing cattle, hogs and chickens on their little farm, and raising the corn and wheat which they ate, but also spinning and weaving the cloth which Mrs. Garfield made into clothes for the children. Don't you think this was a very hard life? So it would be to most of our young people now, but it was the kind of life which many of the settlers in the wild western country had to lead. Yet they owned their little farm and house; both together, perhaps, worth two or three hundred dollars. Of course, they had to do their cooking, eating, sleeping, receive their company, spin and weave and make their clothes, all in their little one-room house.

Still they were honest and contented, and every morning when Mr. Garfield went away, with his axe on his shoulder or to follow the plough, you might have heard him whistling or singing a merry tune. As soon as breakfast was over the little fellows, in the summer, were out of doors, or away in the woods to pick berries, or to bring wood for their mother to cook with, or to carry water from the spring, which was some distance from the house.

At night, when they sat alone in their little cabin, their father or mother would read, or they would tell them stories about the old times in Connecticut or New York, or about the long and weary journey from New York to Ohio, and the wonderful things that they saw on their way. So, with all, as I have told you, it was a very happy and contented little household.

Mr. Garfield was beginning to be prosperous. It did not take much to be prosperous in those days. What he looked forward to was to have a big farm some day, and build a house which would have as many as three rooms, or maybe four. But suddenly, one day, he came home very ill. There were few doctors in that wild wilderness, and those who were there, as a rule, knew very little about the practice of medicine; so, after a short illness, the good man died when he was only thirty-three years of age.

Garfield on the tow-path


Can you think of anything more sad than this—a little one-room log-cabin, far out in the forests of Ohio, with very few neighbors near enough to visit them, the husband dead. and the poor woman with her four little children, left alone so far away from her friends and relatives in the East? Do you not think the first thing she should do would be to try to sell her little farm, and with her children go back to New York or Connecticut?

But this was not what Mrs. Garfield did. She determined to remain in her little home, and, with her own hands, try to make a living and raise her children. She was a good woman and had a fair education, and she taught her little ones and read to them out of good books.

James was still a baby, and for several years it was a life of struggle and privation. The mother was so poor that, if she had lived in one of the great cities, the people would have thought they must go to her aid and send her food and clothing to help her in her distress, and so they should; but it was different far out in the wilderness. Almost everybody was poor there, and lived on the plainest of food, and dressed in the plainest clothes, and there were no rich people to be seen.

When little James was only three years old a neighboring school was started in a little log-hut, and he was sent along with the other children. Before he was four years of age he had learned to read; and by the time he was ten, it is said, he had borrowed and read nearly all the books in his neighborhood. From that time until the close of his life he was a great reader and student.

By the time he was ten years of age he had learned to do almost everything about the farm which could be done by so small a boy. He not only helped the other children and his mother, but, when they had done their own work, he frequently went to other farms and worked for the neighbors that he might make a little money to help his mother along.

He had very little time to play, so he made play out of his work by doing it always cheerfully. All the spring and summer the children worked, but every winter their mother sent them to the little neighborhood school. It is said there was never a day in Mrs. Garfield's home that she and the children did not read certain parts of the Bible. In this way Garfield came to manhood knowing a large portion of the Bible by heart and very familiar with it all.

He was fond of reading Cooper's "Sea Tales;" and the story of "Long Tom" and his wonderful adventures on the ocean filled him with delight. It made him want to go to sea himself so much that in 1848, when he was seventeen years old, he left home and went to Cleveland, Ohio, and offered to go on board of one of the great lake schooners as a sailor.

It was a day or two before the ship would go out, and during that time Garfield learned that the sailors, as a rule, were very rough men and that life on the sea was not so jolly and pleasant as he had supposed. So he decided he would not go on the lake, and immediately turned away from the shore and started home; but he had not gone very far before he began to feel ashamed of himself.

He had used all his money, and he did not like to go 'back home that way. Besides, like many other ambitious boys, he thought he ought to do something to tell the people about when he got home. So he went to the Ohio and Pennsylvania Canal, on which they ran boats drawn by horses on the bank, and he hired himself to drive the horses on one of these boats. He was to receive twelve dollars a month for his work.

James had been used to driving horses at home on the farm, and during his trip on the towpath he did his work so well and pleased his employers so much that at the end of the round trip they promoted him from the position of a driver, by putting him on board the boat to steer it instead of driving the horses. James thought this was quite an advance; but it proved to be very much more dangerous than driving the horses, for he had to stand on the edge of the boat and work the rudder; and several times he fell overboard, and was in danger of drowning

Garfield as a boy


It was not long before he felt the need of an education, so he left his work on the canal and entered a high school, called a seminary, at Chester, Ohio, about ten miles from his home. He had very little money, and he and three young men boarded themselves. They rented a room for a small price, made their own beds, cooked their own food, and ate in their own room.

In his vacations he did carpenter work when he could get it to do, and at other times he worked in the harvest-fields, and did anything and everything to earn money for his schooling. After his first term, he was able, in this way, to take care of himself entirely, and did not ask his mother or any one else for their aid.

Garfield was always one of the best students in the school. He also joined heartily in athletic sports with the other young men to keep up his bodily strength. He was as good at all kinds of sports, and as ready for them, as he was at hard study. He played ball and practiced boxing and other active exercises, and was always a manly and brave fellow.

Garfield attended this school for three winters, and in August, 1851, he entered a higher school known as Hiram College. From this moment his desire to get a good education grew stronger. He paid all his expenses at this school by teaching in one of the departments and working during his vacation. After three years he was not only prepared to go to one of the finest colleges in the East, but had saved three hundred and fifty dollars toward paying his expenses.

In the fall of 1853 he left his native State, Ohio, and journeyed east and entered Williams College, Massachusetts. Two years later he graduated from that fine school, and straightway was made the Professor of Languages and Literature in Hiram College, which he had formerly attended; and the very next year, when he was twenty-six years old, he was made President of Hiram College.

One year later, he married Miss Lucretia Rudolph, one of his old schoolmates with whom he had fallen in love while at Chester Seminary.

Mr. Garfield continued to be President of Hiram College for five years, and under his wise management the college took on new life. There were very soon twice as many students as there had been before, and everybody seemed to get some of Mr. Garfield's zeal. He grew so popular that in 1858, when some of his friends were running for an office, they begged him to make some speeches for them, which he did.

This made him still more popular. There is a good opening for a man who can make a sensible political speech, and in 1859 Garfield was elected to the State Senate of Ohio, where he became a very influential member. In 1861, when the war broke out, he persuaded the Ohio Senate to vote twenty thousand soldiers and three millions of dollars to fight for the Union.

This made Mr. Garfield so great a favorite in the State that the Governor of Ohio offered him the command of the Forty-second Regiment, which was then being organized for the war. Many of the young men in the regiment were, or had been, students, of Hiram College, of which Mr. Garfield had been President; so he consented to command the regiment, and in December, 1861, he took them down into Kentucky and Nest Virginia to join in the fighting.

One of the brave things that Garfield did as a soldier was at the great battle of Chickamauga, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. The fighting had been very hard, and it looked as if the Confederates would be victorious. General Rosecrans thought they would surely win the day, so he with Colonel Garfield left the fighting ground and hastened to Chattanooga to make arrangements for his army to retreat so they would not be captured.

General Thomas was left to command the Union forces. As soon as they reached Chattanooga, Garfield begged General Rosecrans to let him go back to the battlefield and join General Thomas, This he did, and with his help General Thomas made a fresh assault on the Confederates, and drove them back far enough to permit the Union forces to retreat in perfect safety that night. For this gallant service, Colonel Garfield was made major-general.

Soon after the great battle of Chickamauga, Garfield was elected to Congress, and though his salary as major-general was double that of a congressman, he felt that he could do more good at Washington, so he gave up his position in the army and went to Congress.

Here he was as attentive to business and as industrious as he had been when a boy at work, a student at school and president of a college. He had many honors given him in Congress, and in 1877, when Mr. Blaine became a Senator, Mr. Garfield was made leader of his party, and three years later the State of Ohio elected him to the United States Senate.

But his great honor came in June of that same year, when the Republican National Convention in Chicago nominated him for President of the United States over and above all the other great statesmen and warriors whom the nation wanted to honor. General Hancock, who had also fought in the war with General Garfield, was nominated by the Democratic party for the same office; but General Garfield was elected. In a little while he removed with his family from Ohio to the White House at Washington. Was not this a great step up from his early home with its log walls and its one room?

Some of Mr. Garfield's most determined enemies were the leading men of the nation. By that we do not mean the best men, but they were brilliant and learned and shrewd men, and great politicians, like Mr. Conkling of New York, who was a member of the United States Senate. Mr. Conkling did everything he could to make President Garfield unhappy, and to throw all the difficulties possible in his way. This was because the President would not appoint to office the men that Conkling wanted, but chose men that he thought better fitted for the work to be done.

Finally, Mr. Conkling, finding that he could not control the Senators as he tried to do, resigned his place in the United States Senate and went home. Mr. Platt, another Senator from New York, did the same thing. These things made a great commotion among the political leaders, and perhaps was the cause of the tragedy which followed.

Garfield assassination


On July 2, 1881, after Mr. Garfield had been in office only a few months, he rose early and went to the railway station to take the train for Massachusetts. He was going back to Williams College to attend the closing exercises of that school, and several members of his cabinet and their friends were going with him.

James G. Blaine, the great Maine statesman and orator, was his Secretary of State, and rode with President Garfield to the station. Mrs. Garfield, who had been at Long Branch, New Jersey, where she had gone to cure herself of malarial fever, was to join them at New York. A fine private car was waiting for the President and his party.

Presently the carriage drove up to the door, and President Garfield and Secretary Blaine, looking very happy, stepped out, smiling to the crowd that stood around. They passed inside the door of the waiting-room. A slender, middle-aged man had for some time been walking nervously up and down the room. As the President and Mr. Blaine came in, he quickly drew a pistol from his pocket and, taking deliberate aim, shot the President in the shoulder. Mr. Garfield turned quickly to see who had shot him, when the assassin fired again, and the President sank to the floor, the blood gushing from his side. Secretary Blaine sprang for the murderer, but others caught him, and Mr. Blaine went back to the President's side.

They placed the wounded President on a mattress and carried him swiftly to the White House, where he quickly gave orders that a message should be sent to Mrs. Garfield, asking her to come home immediately. Mr. Garfield's message was: "Tell her I am seriously hurt, but I am myself, and hope she will come to see me soon. I send her my love."

That evening Mrs. Garfield was at her husband's side. For almost three months the brave, strong man struggled between life and death through the hot summer days. At last he was removed to Elberon, on the ocean shore near Long Branch, New Jersey, and placed in a cottage where the cooling breezes of the sea brought him much relief, and it was hoped would save his life; but it was not to be.

President Garfield died at night, September 19th, almost without a struggle. The news were flashed all over the world by telegraph wires, and nearly every town and all the cities in the United States were draped in mourning.

The President's remains were taken back to Washington, where great throngs of people viewed them, and thousands of faces were wet with tears as they passed his coffin. The sad funeral procession then moved slowly to Cleveland, Ohio, where a splendid tomb was prepared on the shores of Lake Erie, not far from his old home, and it was there they laid him down to rest. All along the way the moving train passed through lines of sorrowful-faced people, who stood with uncovered heads and with tearful eyes as the train moved by. In the House of Representatives at Washington, a few months later, Secretary Blaine delivered a great speech in praise of the dead President, telling how grand a man he had been, and the splendid service the Ohio canal boy had given to his country.

Chester Alan Arthur



The Green Mountain State President

In 1881 a second terrible tragedy came to the supreme official of the United States. As Lincoln had fallen by the hand of an assassin, Garfield fell in the same dread way, and the country was filled with grief and regret. I have told how the wounded President lay, awaiting the death that slowly came. The people had a double cause for concern. While full of sympathy for their dying chief, they felt much dismay when they thought what might follow. Three times before a Vice-President had become President, and each time had bitterly disappointed those who elected him. What would be the case now?

For the answer to this we must wait till we have told the story of the Vice-President's life. His name was Chester Alan Arthur, and he was born in Vermont. He was the son of a Baptist clergyman, who had come from Ireland some years before, and who found life a hard one in this country, with a large family and a small income. This clergyman was a preacher at Fairfield, Vermont, when Chester, his oldest son, was born on October 28, 1830.

The boy was born to comparative poverty, for country ministers got very little to live on in those days. Like several of our Presidents, he was born in a log-cabin, where his father lived while a house was being built for him. But the boy was a happy little fellow, bright in mind, active in disposition, full of impulse, given to boyish pranks and frolics. He was not afraid to work, and now and then earned some small sums by helping on farms or doing other odd jobs. He was and of reading and study as well as of play and sport, and his father's books and teachings helped him along in this.

When he was fourteen years old he was sent to Union College, in New York State. Here he studied some, but amused himself a good deal. He gave his books only what time he could spare from his sports. None of the boys were fonder of wild freaks and adventures, and he liked these all the better if they had a spice of danger. In this way he became a leader in college pranks. He was fond of parades and processions, of class games and fun, and was in every way a jovial, wide-awake, active and sociable boy.

But he did not quite forget what he went to college for, and managed to graduate with a fair showing. Then he had something else before him than college sports. He must begin the business of life. He had taught school to help pay his way while at college, and he kept at it for two years more, saving what money he could, till he had a few hundred dollars in his purse. While he was teaching he was studying law, which he afterward kept up in New York City with the money he had saved. He was in the market for a more profitable employment than that of teaching country boys how to read, write and cipher.

Young Arthur was not wanting in ambition. It was his wish, as it has been with many others, to make his way fast to fame and fortune, and it seemed to him that the great and growing West was the place for that. There brains and hard work were sure to tell—or at least he thought so—and at length, after a period of practice in New York, he and another young lawyer, Henry S. Gardner, set out to try their luck.

They went west. They looked around. They traveled here and there, but nowhere could they see fortune in the air. They would have to work as hard there as in New York; perhaps much harder. So back to New York they came. Here Arthur and Gardner became partners and found the great city much better for them than the great West. They soon found themselves making money. For ten years Arthur kept up his law practice, now in partnership and now by himself; and he became known as a very able lawyer.

All his time was not given to the law. He became an active abolitionist. He was very indignant when he heard of the way William Lloyd Garrison was treated in Boston, and he appeared as an earnest defender of the colored people. He made a fine argument in what was known as the Lemmon slave case, which decided that a slave brought into New York became a free man. He also won for the colored people the right to ride on the street cars in New York. A black girl had been put off a car, and he took up her case and won it, and thus gave black people that right.

He was active as a politician, too; at first as a Whig, then as a Republican, when the new party was formed. And he gained honors in the State militia. In 1855 he became judge-advocate of a brigade of New York soldiers. In 1860 Governor Morgan made him chief engineer on his staff. This position was not of much importance then, but it was soon to be.

When the Civil War broke out Arthur's knowledge of military affairs came into play. The Governor raised him to the rank of brigadier-general, and soon after he gave him the entire charge of preparing and equipping the soldiers of the State. In 1862 he was made inspector-general, which office he held till December, 1863, when a new Governor was elected and a new man was chosen to take his place. But this new man spoke in the very highest terms of praise of the way General Arthur had done his work.

After that Arthur went back to his law practice and kept it up till 1871, steadily making money and winning reputation. But he kept up his political work also, and did much to help General Grant in the 1868 election. He was rewarded in 1871 by being appointed to the profitable office of collector of the port of New York. This is what is usually called Custom House officer. He had to attend to the collection of the customs, or the tariff on imported goods.

General Arthur held this office for four years and then was again appointed to the same office. He remained in office till 1878, when he was dismissed by President Hayes.

This dismissal was not because he did not do his duty well and honestly, but was for another reason. President Hayes was a great believer in Civil Service Reform. He thought that office-holders should take no part in politics.

President Hayes could not have served Chester Arthur better than he did by turning him out of office for taking an active part in politics. Only for that it is not likely he would ever have become President of the United States. For it brought him into great notice. It was the first great step in the struggle for Civil Service Reform which was soon to cost President Garfield his life.

When the time for the Presidential nomination of 1880 came round, General Arthur was sent to Chicago as one of the delegates from New York to the Republican National Convention. There he gave his voice warmly in favor of General Grant for a third term. When that could not be had, and Garfield was chosen, Arthur's name was among those offered for Vice-President. A New Yorker was wanted on the ticket, and Arthur's name was offered by Conkling and the other New York delegates. So he was nominated and elected. In July, 1881, came the great tragedy I have spoken of, and on September 19th the wounded President died, and Chester Alan Arthur became President of the United States.

I have spoken of the alarm many men felt when they found that a Vice-President, of whose sentiments they knew very little, was raised suddenly to the head of the nation. Arthur had said nothing while Garfield lay dying. He had the good sense and discretion to keep quiet then about public affairs. But his first message to Congress greatly pleased the people. It was quiet and temperate in tone, and he soon showed that he proposed to be President of the people, not of a faction. He gave offence to some of his political friends, but he gave satisfaction to the nation

The country needed a period of calm and quiet after the strain and excitement through which it had passed. It had it under President Arthur, and the people learned to respect him as a good, safe, moderate man. He left office with the favor and confidence of his party, not with the bitter feeling which had followed Tyler, Fillmore and Johnson.

President Arthur did not live long to enjoy his repose after the cares of office. His wife, a daughter of Commodore Herndon, had died in 1879. He was soon to follow her. He was taken suddenly ill in the year after his term ended, and the country he had well served was surprised to hear of his death on November 18, 1886.

Grover Cleveland



The Veto President

I do not think you can find anywhere a man whose career was more remarkable than that of Grover Cleveland. Honesty in office made him President of the United States, and that is a splendid thing to say of any man. In 1880 he was just a plain, ordinary lawyer in Buffalo, New York, and very few people knew him outside of that city. In 1884 he was being talked about from Maine to California and was elected President by a large majority. That was certainly a wonderful lift upward in four years for a man whose whole political capital was plain, everyday honesty just living up to his duty.

And after he went home and stayed home for four years, working away at his old business of the law, the people took him up again and sent him back to Washington with a bigger majority than before, to act as President for another four years. That is something which cannot be said of any other President, and is a great feather in Grover Cleveland's cap. For this reason he is called the twenty-second and twenty-fourth President, for another President came between his two terms I must tell you the story of this man's strange life.

The Clevelands made their first home in America as far back as 1635, when a family of that name crossed the seas to Massachusetts, soon after the first settlers came. They belonged to the sturdy stock of the early New England people. Down they came from father to son till we meet y with Richard F. Cleveland, who was the preacher in a small Presbyterian church in the town of Caldwell, New Jersey. Here, on the 18th of March, 1837, his son Grover, the future President, Was born.

The boy was named Stephen Grover Cleveland, but he took to calling himself Grover, without the Stephen, and everybody knows him as Grover Cleveland to-day. When he was four years old his father moved to Fayetteville, New York, and afterward to Clinton, in that State. At these places the boy went to school. He must have been a good scholar, for he got into the high school when he was several years younger than the other boys. And it was his ambition there to be at the head of his class.

But a village clergyman in those days had very little to live on, and his boys had often to take hold and help. We are told that Grover went into a store near his home when he was only twelve years old and worked there for two years. Then he went back to his books again. When he was seventeen he began to teach in a home for the blind in New York City. His older brother, who was a minister like his father, was teaching there and very likely got him the place.

Grover did not like this place very much, and, like many other young people at that time, he took a notion to go West and see what chance there was there to make his way in the world. But he got only as far as Buffalo. An uncle of his lived near there, who had a farm and was writing a book of some kind, and he asked young Grover to stop and help him.

What the boy wanted to do was to study law, and after some time he got a chance to become a clerk and copyist in a lawyer's office in Buffalo, where he spent all his spare time in reading law books.

He still lived with his uncle, whose place was two miles away, and every day, rain or shine, he walked those two miles back and forth. It was not much for a strong boy like him, and he had to live very cheaply, for he got only four dollars a week for his work. We are told that the first day he began to read a law book he kept at it till it was too dark to see the words. Then he found that everybody else had gone home and locked up the place, and he had to stay there all night. After that he kept one eye open for what was going on around him, if he had the other eye on his book.

Grover Cleveland was a determined youth. He had that power of steady work and that resolute purpose which help men to make their way upward. When he was twenty-two years old he was admitted to the bar, but all the time he was trying to get some law practice he kept on working as a clerk for the lawyers in whose office he had studied. His father had died and he had to help his mother, who was left with very little money.

The young lawyer was not long in getting work in his profession, and seems to have made headway pretty fast. In 1863 he was made assistant district attorney for Erie County, and this must have brought him some good practice.

In 1870 came his first lift upward. He was a Democrat in politics and the Democrats of Buffalo wanted a good, strong man to run for sheriff of the county. The story has been told that the selection of Cleveland for this office was largely due to chance. One of his law partners was asked to be a candidate for sheriff. He did not care to be, but told his visitors that Mr. Cleveland would make a very good one. At any rate, whether that is true or not, Cleveland was the man they picked out. He was elected and held the office for three years, and made as good a sheriff as they could have found if they had tried every man in the county. When his time was up he went back quietly to his law office and began his old work again as if he were done with politics for the rest of his life. And he may have thought he was, for no one can see far into the future.

It was in 1881, three years before he was nominated for President, that Grover Cleveland's remarkable career really began. The Democrats wanted a man for Mayor of Buffalo now, as they had wanted a man for sheriff eleven years before. Buffalo was a Republican city, and only a strong Democratic candidate had a chance to be elected. They remembered that Grover Cleveland had made a sheriff who pleased the people, and had always tried to do the right and just thing, and they selected him as their candidate.

Cleveland did not brag or make a thousand promises. What he said was that if he was made mayor he would see that the business of the city was done in the same way that a good business man manages his private affairs. The people must have liked that kind of talk, for they elected him by the largest majority a Buffalo Mayor had ever received.

No man ever kept his word more faithfully. The politicians, who had been handling their mayors with or without gloves, found that the new mayor was not to be handled. The Councils, which had been passing laws more for their own pockets than the public good, found their plans spoiled. Cleveland was called the "Veto Mayor." He vetoed bad bills by the dozens, and in a few months he saved the city nearly $1,000,000. He was running the city on business principles, as he had promised to do. The politicians would have got rid of him in a hurry if they could. No doubt they said many ugly things about him in private, but they were careful in public, for fear he might veto them, too. But the people looked on him as the best mayor they had ever known or heard of.

Soon all over the State the voters were praising the "Veto Mayor," and when, the next year, the Democratic Convention met to select a candidate for Governor of New York, they thought they could not do better than to take up this very popular Mayor of Buffalo. And they were wise in doing so, for he beat the Republican candidate by nearly two hundred thousand votes. That was a great majority to gain on the basis of honesty in office.

Governor Cleveland did for the State just what Mayor Cleveland had done for the city. He did not believe in forms and ceremonies. When he went to take the oath of office in Albany, he walked through the streets with a friend, instead of riding up in great state in a carriage. And all the time he was Governor he kept no carriage, but walked from his home to the State House. He went in for economy and honesty. He had promised "to serve the people faithfully and well," and he cut down political jobs as a farmer cuts down weeds. Honor in office was his watchword, and he made New York a poor place for rascals.

The Democratic party saw that they had a very popular man for Governor of New York. He was being talked about all over the country. So in 1884, when they were in the field for a candidate for President, they picked out the Governor of New York as their strongest man. The party had not elected a President for twenty-four years, and they wanted the best man they could get.

Machinery Hall—Chicago exposition, 1893


The contest was an ugly and bitter one. Everything unpleasant that newspaper editors could think of was said about the two candidates, Grover Cleveland and James G. Blaine. You might have thought they were both fit for the penitentiary. The election was a very close one. When all was over it was found that everything depended on the vote of New York State, and there the election was so close that it took a week or more to find who was the victor. Then it was found that Cleveland had a majority of a few hundred votes.

When the new President came to take the oath of office he did not kiss the big Bible which other Presidents had used, but a little book, worn with use, which his mother had given him when he left home. That was a fine thing for him to do.

As President he was the same kind of man he had always been. He did not now have to look out for political jobbers, but there were many laws passed which he did not like, and he vetoed every one which did not please him. It is said that in the first session of Congress after he became President he vetoed one hundred and fifteen bills. Some of them were passed afterward, but he did what he thought his duty.

The President was now forty-eight years of age. He was in the prime of life, a man of large, rather massive build, with a face of strength and intelligence, and a very simple and direct manner of speech. He was a very hard worker and examined every paper for himself, which no other President had thought of doing. He was not married, and his sister, Miss Rose Elizabeth Cleveland, a lady of literary tastes, became mistress of the White House.

But in 1886 the President took for his wife Miss Frances Folsom, a charming and beautiful young lady, the daughter of his friend and partner in his old law office. He was the first President who married while in office. They were married in the White House, and his attractive young wife became very popular. Her grace and sweetness of manner won her many friends and admirers.

When the time for a new presidential election came round, in 1888, Mr. Cleveland was again nominated by the Democrats, while Benjamin Harrison was the Republican candidate. This time the campaign was conducted with good temper, and there was none of the "mud slinging" of four years before. Neither party tried to win by calling the candidate of the other party hard names. But the Republicans had come back to their strength again, and Harrison was elected with a good majority.

The late President now made his home in New York City, and went into the law business there. But though he kept quiet and attended strictly to his business, he was not forgotten by his party, which still looked on him as its strongest man. So in 1892, after four years more had passed, he was nominated again, while the Republicans chose President Harrison once more for their candidate. This time there was another change. Cleveland was elected by a large majority. It looked as if the people had changed their minds or did not like the way things were going. He was the first President who had come back to office after being away.

The greatest event of President Cleveland's second term was the splendid World's Fair held at Chicago in 1893, one of the finest that had ever been seen in any country. During his term an important question came up about the South American country named Venezuela, which declared that England was robbing it of much of its land. This was against the "Monroe Doctrine," and the President said plainly that England must stop, or the United States would help Venezuela to make her stop. He did not use just those words, but that is what he meant. After a good deal of talk England concluded to have the matter settled by arbitration, which was what the President wanted.

Presidents, 1877 to 1901


President Cleveland believed strongly in Civil Service Reform, and did all he could to help it on, and brought many of the offices under the Civil Service law. But he did not believe in bi-metalism; that is, in having gold and silver both freely coined and made the standard of our money. He believed in a gold standard only. As he did not agree with this and other things in the platform of the Democratic party, he would not let his name be used as a candidate again.

On March 4, 1897, when his term of office ended, he bought a mansion at Princeton, New Jersey, and made that city his home. Since then he has lived there quietly, taking much enjoyment in fishing, of which he was always very fond, and now and then speaking with much good sense and discretion on public and other subjects.

Benjamin Harrison



The Orator President

You have been told in an earlier story of the great part that was played by the Adams family in the history of the United States; how two Presidents came from that family, and how it had two younger members of much note. We may say the same of the Harrison family. It also gave two Presidents to this country, while an older Harrison had the high honor of signing the Declaration of Independence, and had other honors besides.

He bore the same name as his great-grandson, who became President more than a hundred years afterward. If you examine the list of names of the men who signed the Declaration you will find among them the name of Benjamin Harrison. That is not all to be said about him. He was in the Continental Congress through the Revolution, and then became Governor of the great State of Virginia. And he was also one of the wise men who made the Constitution of the United States.

The Harrisons were from Virginia, the State which has been named the "Mother of Presidents." But William Henry Harrison, who was born in that State, was an Ohio man when he was made President. And his grandson Benjamin, who was born in Ohio, was a citizen of Indiana when he was chosen to fill that high office.

The second Benjamin was born in his grandfather's homestead, at North Bend, Ohio. Here the boy's father, John Scott Harrison, lived with his father, and here Benjamin was born on the loth of August, 1833, over seven years before his famous grandfather was to be elected President.

The Harrison estate lay in the southwest corner of Ohio, between the Ohio and Miami Rivers. It was not a grand mansion in which little Benjamin grew up. It was a farmer's simple home, and the first school he went to was kept in a small log-cabin, not far from his father's house. I do not think many of you would have liked much to go to the school he studied in, for the children had to sit on seats made of planks, with no backs, and so high that their feet could not touch the floor. Benjamin went there only in winter, for in summer he had to work on the farm.

When he grew old enough Benjamin was sent to a school named Farmer's College, near Cincinnati. After he had been there two years he was sent to Miami University, in the town of Oxford, Ohio. He was a little fellow for a college boy at that time, and was much given to study, though he liked the college games as much as the other boys. He was only eighteen when he graduated, but he showed that he had been a good scholar by the honors of his graduation.

The young graduate now had to start out in life for himself. His father was too poor to let his children lead an idle life. Benjamin made up his mind to be a lawyer, and entered a law-office in Cincinnati. He was bound to get to the place he started for if he had to work through sand and rocks. The boys and men who get to the top are the ones who do not stop for any hard places on the road.

But he did one thing that looked a little bit hasty. He fell in love while a mere boy, and married when he was only twenty years old. His bride was Miss Caroline W. Scott, whose father was at the head of an academy near Miami University. There the schoolboy had met and fallen in love with her. Very likely his parents thought their son had done a foolish thing to marry before he was ready to earn a penny.

When the young student finished his studies he went to Indiana, where he hung up his sign as a lawyer in Indianapolis, the capital of that State. All the money he had was a few hundred dollars, which an aunt had left him. He could not venture to rent a house with that, and hardly an office, and he had much trouble to live till business came. He knew nobody of importance in the city, and for several years he had very little practice and money was very scarce with him. In those days, as he has told us, "a five dollar bill was an event."

We are told that in one of his first law suits he had made a careful set of notes, to help him in pleading his case. But when he came to look at them he could not read them. The room was so dark that he could not make out a word. Here was a tight place for a young lawyer. He must have been very nervous and shaky, but he let the notes go and set in to do his best without them. And he did it so well that he won his case, and won the praise of the lawyers who heard him He afterward became a very ready speaker, and this may haves been the first time he found out what he could do.

When the Civil War began Harrison was very busy at the bar, making money and reputation both. But when, in 1862, the state of affairs began to look very gloomy for the North, he felt that it was his duty to set business aside and strike a blow for the safety of the Union. New regiments were forming and he set in to recruit and drill a company of soldiers. Other companies joined it, and it became the Seventieth Indiana Volunteers. He began as a lieutenant, but was made colonel of the new regiment. People did not forget that his grandfather had been a famous general, and they felt sure that he would make a good soldier.

When the chance came he showed them that they were right and that he was a good soldier. At the battle of Peach Tree Creek we hear his ringing shout, "Come on, boys! We've never been licked yet, and we won't begin now."

His men were proud and fond of him. To them he was "Little Ben." No woman could have been kinder and more tender. After the battle of New Hope Church he went to the little frame house which had been made a hospital for his wounded men, and there threw off his coat, rolled up his sleeves, and set to work dressing their wounds in the dim candle light. For hour after hour he worked on gently and tenderly, till midnight came, and with it the surgeons.

There is one more story of his kind thoughtfulness for his men. It was near the end of the war, when his regiment was in camp near Nashville. A night of terrible cold came on, with fierce snow and sleet. Ice covered the ground. Some of the men on picket duty froze stiff at their posts. Others were frost-bitten by the intense cold. Out from his warm quarters came Colonel Harrison into the bitter chill, carrying a can of hot coffee to the men on picket duty. "I was afraid the men would freeze," he said, "and I knew the hot coffee would keep them alive."

He took part in other hard battles and fought well in them all. He was made brevet brigadier-general for his gallantry at the battle of Peach Tree Creek. When Sherman marched through Georgia and up north, Harrison and his old regiment was with him. Only after Johnston surrendered and the war ended did General Harrison's service come to an end. When the lawyer-soldier got back to Indianapolis and to his law practice, he found that he had been elected Reporter of the Supreme Court. As time went on he entered actively into the political field, and when Grant was nominated for President in 1868, and again in 1872, Harrison worked like a beaver for him, making many speeches before large audiences.

In 1876 his friends asked him to run for Governor of Indiana. He declared that he would not. But Hayes was on the ticket for President and the Republicans were very anxious to elect him. They were sure that Harrison's name would help him in Indiana, and insisted so strongly on his running that in the end he gave way. But after all they lost the State. The Democrats won and he was defeated.

Our Indianapolis lawyer was now a prominent man in his party. His fine work as a soldier hade done him a great deal of good, and his telling oratory helped him very much. And they did not forget that he was the grandson of General Harrison, who had been President of the United States. So, in 1880, when the Republican Convention was having a great contest over the nomination for President, General Harrison's name was brought up. But he would not let it be used, and did his best to have Garfield nominated.

When Garfield became President, he asked Harrison to accept a place in his cabinet. He had to decline, for he had just been elected to the United States Senate, and thought he would rather be Senator than cabinet officer. And a good Senator he made, too, and won great honor by his ability as a statesman and an orator.

White House


In 1884 there was again talk of nominating him for President, and in 1888 the Convention that met at Chicago selected him as its candidate for this office. His opponent was Grover Cleveland, who had just served one term as President. Harrison defeated him, and was elected with 233 electoral votes to 168 for Cleveland. There is one interesting point in Harrison's election. Just one hundred years before, Washington took his seat as President; so he began the second century of the Presidency. The anniversary was celebrated with great demonstrations of joy in New York, where the new President was one of the spectators.

President Harrison's term of office was a quiet and prosperous one. All went well with the country; business was active, the people were happy, and the great national debt of the country was much reduced. One important event was the dedication of the great World's Fair at Chicago, in memory of the discovery of America by Columbus four hundred years before. The President was there and opened the Fair with an excellent speech, on October 14, 1892. The Fair itself; as you may know, was not ready for the public till the next year, after Harrison's term as President was over.

In 1892 Harrison and Cleveland were both nominated as Presidential candidates again. This time the Democrats won, Cleveland receiving 277 votes and Harrison 145; while Weaver, the Populist candidate, got 22 votes.

When his term ended, on March 4, 1893, Harrison went home to his law office in Indianapolis. He was afterward appointed a lecturer on law in the great Leland Stanford University of California. But he did not live very long afterward, for death came to him on March 13, 1901.

William Mckinley



The Third Martyr President

Is it not strange and sad that, within forty years, three of our Presidents have been killed by assassins? No other nation has met with such misfortunes. And it is sadder still when we think that these three were among the gentlest and kindest of them all. They were men who felt only goodwill for everybody, yet, strange to say, these were the men whom the miserable murderers chose for their fatal bullets. You have read the story of two of them, Abraham Lincoln and James A. Garfield. The third was William McKinley, of whose life I am now about to speak.

Everybody begins as a boy, and so we must begin with McKinley in his boyhood days, He was one of the kind of boys we like to read about. The stories of his life as a fisher, a skater, a blackberry picker, a playmate, and of the boy who had his boyish battles to fight and win, are such as to make every boy's and man's heart warm with memories of similar experiences. Niles, Ohio, was McKinley's birthplace. He was born there on the 29th of January, 1843. The house in which he was born has recently been cut in two, and the section which includes the room of his birth has been moved a mile away, to a pretty spot known to the people of Niles as Riverside Park.

It was a poor little two-story frame house, but was far better than the log-huts in which some of our Presidents were born. McKinley's parents were not rich, but they had enough to live on, and he had plenty of time for play and for school-life. He was a good student and a good boy. His pious mother read her Bible to him till he knew much of it by heart, and he joined the Methodist Church when he was fifteen years old. He was a member of this Church all the rest of his life.

One would think he was born to be a fine public speaker by the way he argued and debated and spoke pieces in his school-boy days. He was always ready. At Poland, where he lived when he got older, there was a literary society and debating club, and of it he was, for some time, president. The story is told that the boys and girls saved up their spending money until they had enough to buy a carpet for the meeting-room of the club. They purchased at a neighboring carpet store what they thought a very handsome one. Its ground-work was green, and it was ornamented with great golden wreaths. The society decided that no boots should ever soil that sacred carpet, and the girl members volunteered to knit slippers for all the members to wear. Unfortunately, the slippers were not ready for the first meeting, and so all the members who attended, and the visitors, too, were required to put off their shoes from their feet and listen to the debate shod only in stockings. The debaters did the same, and young McKinley presided over the meeting in his stocking feet.

McKinley got a good education. He went to the common school at Niles, to the academy at Poland, and to Alleghany College at Meadville, in Pennsylvania. Here he soon got sick and had to go home; and now he became a school-teacher himself, for his father had lost much of his money, and the boy had to help the family along.

[Illustration] from True Stories of Our Presidents by Charles Morris


All this was before the great civil war began. When Fort Sumter was fired on, and the people everywhere were getting ready to fight, young McKinley was just past his eighteenth year. He was a short, slender, pale-faced boy, but he was full of fight, and away he marched to the war with the first company of Poland volunteers. His regiment was the 23rd Ohio Volunteers, whose major was Rutherford B. Hayes. You will remember his name among our list of Presidents. So this regiment had one coming President among its officers and one in its ranks. That was something to be proud of, if it had been known, for no other regiment ever had such good fortune.

For fourteen months our young recruit carried a musket in the ranks. He was a good soldier, obeyed all orders, and was always pleasant to his comrades. And he had plenty of soldiering among the West Virginia mountains, where he now soaked with rain, now half-starved from lack of food, and worn out with marching, fighting and going through all sorts of rough work. The Ohio boys were kept chasing the raiders through the rough hills, and they had a hard enough time.

Let us get on with the boy soldier's story. He had been made a sergeant for his good work in West Virginia. He was made a lieutenant for his good work at the terrible battle of Antietam. This is how it came about.

McKinley was commissary sergeant of his regiment. That is, he had charge of the food supplies. He did not have to fight; but was two miles back from the fighting line. Most boys would have thought that a good place to stay, but the boy sergeant did not think so. He thought only of the poor fellows in the ranks, fighting all day under the burning sun. How parched and hungry they must be! What would they not give for a cup of hot coffee!

As soon as he thought of this, he got hold of some of the stragglers in the rear and set them to making coffee. There were plenty of them, as there are in all battles. Then he filled two wagons with steaming cans of hot coffee and with food, and drove off with his mule teams for the line of battle. One of the wagons broke down, but the other kept on. He was ordered back, but nothing could stop him, and on to the lines he went at full speed.

One of the officers says: "It was nearly dark when we heard tremendous cheering from the left of our regiment. As we had been having heavy fighting right up to this time, our division commander, General Scammon, sent me to find out the cause, which I very soon found to be cheers for McKinley and his hot coffee. You can readily imagine the rousing welcome he received from both officers and men. When you consider the fact of his leaving his post of security and driving into the middle of a bloody battle with a team of mules, it needs no words of mine to show the character and determination of McKinley, a boy of, at this time, not twenty years of age."

When the Governor of Ohio heard the story of McKinley and his hot coffee for the fighting boys, he made him a lieutenant. Don't you think he well deserved it?

There are other stories of McKinley's gallant conduct. One of them comes from the time of the fighting in the Shenandoah Valley, in July, 1864. Here the confederate General Early attacked General Crook and his men with so strong a force that Crook was driven back. General Hastings tells us how the young lieutenant in the face of death at the command of General Hayes, his commander, rode into the thick of the battle through a rain of shot and bursting shells, and brought out the regiment safely. This deed made a captain of the brave lieutenant.

McKinley in the civil war


The fighting was over. The country was at peace. Everybody was getting back to work again. What would the young major do? He had his living to make. He had tried teaching and fighting, and now he thought he would like to be a lawyer, as he was so good a talker. So he entered a law office and began to study as hard as he had fought. In two years he was ready to practice, and hung out his sign in Canton, Ohio. This place was his home for the rest of his life, and here was he buried when he died.

Here is the story of how he got his first case. One day, as he sat waiting for clients and thinking they would never come, Judge Glidden, who had been his law instructor, came into his office and said: "McKinley, here are the papers in a case of mine. It comes up to-morrow. I have got to go out of town, and I want you to take charge of it for me."

McKinley declared that he could not do justice to the case at so short a notice. "I never tried a single case yet, Judge," said he.

"Well, begin on this one, then," was the Judge's reply. And it was finally settled that McKinley should do so. He sat up all night working on the case, tried it the next day, and won it. A few days later judge Glidden entered his office and handed him $25. McKinley did not wish to take it.

"It is too much for one day's work," he said.

"Don't let that worry you," replied Glidden, good-naturedly. "I charged $100 for this case, and I can well afford a quarter of it to you."

He became a good public speaker and was in great demand. His first office was as district attorney of his county. In due time the rising lawyer got married and settled down as a family man. His wife was Miss Ida Saxton, a beautiful and intelligent girl, the daughter of a rich banker of Canton. McKinley loved her dearly, and never did two people pass happier lives together, for it was a case of true love all through. Mrs. McKinley was an invalid nearly all her life, and he was always kind and devoted to her.

Major McKinley was elected to Congress in 1876, nine years after he began to practice law. General Hayes, who had been the first major of his old regiment, was now President. He and McKinley were as warm friends now as when they had been in the army together.

McKinley was fourteen years in Congress, and in every one of those years he made his mark in some way or other. In 1890 he was defeated in the election for Congress, but he was too well known and too much liked to stay defeated long. If the country did not want him the State did, and the next year he was elected Governor of Ohio by a good majority. In 1893 he was re-elected by over 80,000 votes. The soldier-boy was coming on well, wasn't he?

He made a good Governor, but he met with a sad misfortune through his kindness of heart. For he put his name on the notes of an old friend, and when this man soon after failed in business McKinley found that he had been sadly cheated. He had signed for only $15,000, but his seeming friend had made him liable for nearly $100,000.

This was like the story of Jefferson in his old days. Every cent he owned would have gone if some friends had not raised the money to pay his debt, as Jefferson's friends did for him. McKinley said he would not take any money, but he could not help himself. All the notes were paid as they came due and he never knew who paid them, so he could not return the money. In that way his kind friends got the better of him.

And now came the time when the people of the whole country wanted McKinley. Ohio was not big enough to hold a man like him any longer. In 1896 a new President was to be chosen, and McKinley was the people's favorite and was elected by a very large number of votes.

It was not a quiet chair to which President McKinley came. If you recall the lives of some of the other Presidents, you will find that they had no great troubles to meet. But McKinley had to face war and insurrection and all the difficult questions these brought on, and that was a good deal for a man who had grown to love peace and quiet.

The map of your country will show you in the ocean just south of Florida, the long, narrow island of Cuba. It is so close to us that it really should have belonged to the United States, but Spain had owned it ever since it was discovered by Columbus, more than four hundred years before.

Spain had no right to own any island, for she did not know how to treat the people. The Cubans were treated so badly that they began to fight for liberty. Then the Spaniards treated them worse than ever, causing thousands of them to starve to death. That was more than Americans could stand. McKinley asked Spain to stop her cruelty. When she would not, the people of the United States so sympathized with the poor Cubans that armies and fleets were sent to fight the Spaniards in Cuba. President McKinley did not want war. He did all he could to keep it off. But when he found that Spain would not listen to reason there was nothing left to do but to teach the Spaniards a lesson.



Only a few great battles were fought. Admiral Dewey won a great naval victory in the Philippines and then there were battles in Cuba. You know how the war ended. Cuba was taken from Spain and made a free nation. Porto Rico, in the West Indies, and the Philippine Islands, in the Pacific Ocean, were given over to this country. Then there came another war in the Philippines, an outbreak of the people, which lasted much longer than the war in Cuba. There was also a great rebellion in China, and the United States Minister at Peking, the capital of China, was in great danger from the rebels, and troops had to be sent to rescue him.

All this made plenty of work for the President. He did not please everybody with what he did, but no one can do that. He dealt ably and wisely with all the questions that came up, and in 1900, when there was another Presidential election, he was more popular than ever. He was chosen by the whole Republican Convention, and was elected with the great majority of 137 electoral votes.

It was a time of splendid prosperity during President McKinley's first term. Business was booming, commerce was active, thousands were growing rich, millions were living well and were happy and contented. That was one good reason for wanting him again. But the country was not to keep him long, for a dreadful event was close at hand, as I have now to tell.

The second inauguration of President McKinley took place on March 4, 1901. All looked promising. The war in the Philippines was nearly at an end, the country was growing greater and grander, business was better than ever; nobody dreamed of a great coming tragedy. The President and his wife took a long journey that spring through the South and West, from Washington to San Francisco. The people of all the towns and cities turned out in multitudes to see and hear him. It was plain that he was a great public favorite. One would have thought he had not an enemy in the land.

In September he went to Buffalo, in New York State, to see the great Fair that was being held there, in which the best and most beautiful things in America were being shown. Here, too, the people greeted him like a beloved friend. On the 6th, that he might meet them the more closely, a reception was held in the Temple of Music, where they weld have an opportunity to shake hands with their President.

Perhaps some of my readers may have been in Buffalo that day, visiting the Fair. Some of them may have been in the Temple of Music and have seen the long line of people taking the President's hand and looking into his kindly, smiling face. Some of them may even have heard the fatal sound when a desperate villain fired a pistol at the President, and have seen the good man turn pale and fall back. "Let no one hurt him," he gasped, as the guards rushed furiously at the murderer

After that there was a week of terrible anxiety in the country. Two bullets had struck the President, but for a time the doctors thought he would get well, and the people were full of hope. Then he suddenly began to sink, and on Friday, just one week from the time he was shot, death was very near His wife was brought in and wept bitterly as she begged the doctors to save him.

"Good bye, all; good bye," whispered the dying man. "It is God's way. His will be done."

These were his last words. A few hours afterward he was dead.

So passed away this great and noble-hearted man, the third of our martyred Presidents and one of the kindest and gentlest of them all. He was buried with all the ceremony and all the demonstrations of respect and affection the country could give. At the time his body was lowered into the grave, for five minutes the whole people came to rest, all business ceased, and a solemn silence overspread the land from sea to sea. Then the stir began again, and once more the world roared on. It never stops long for the greatest of men.

Theodore Roosevelt


Theodore Roosevelt

The Man of a Strenuous Life

What do you think of the miserable men who go around trying to kill kings and presidents? Do you not think they are great fools as, well' as great villains? I do. Why, as soon as they kill one king or president, another takes his place, and all goes on just the same as ever. So they do a great deal of harm and no good at all.

It was that way when President McKinley was shot. All it did was to make a new president. Vice President Roosevelt became President, and the country was not a minute without a head. And if Roosevelt had been killed there were half a dozen cabinet officers ready to take his place. So you see that shooting presidents is just a waste of powder and bullets. Nobody but a fool or an idiot would think of doing it.

Now we are to talk about the new President, Theodore Roosevelt. He was a very different kind of a man from McKinley. He was not at all like any president we have ever had. He was a great worker, a great bunter, a great fighter but not a great politician. He was too honest and straight-forward for politics. He never said anything but just what he meant, and when he put his foot down whatever was under it was going to be hurt. There was no slipping round corners with the new President. He always went straight to the mark. That is not the way with politicians.

Theodore Roosevelt was a New York boy. He was born in that great city on October 27, 1858. He was not a poor boy. His parents were wealthy, and he could have all the good things that money can bring. But he was brought up in a very different way from many sons of the rich. He was taught at home to be active and industrious. He tells us himself: "My father, all my people, held that no one had a right to merely cumber the earth; that the most contemptible of created beings is the man who does nothing. I imbibed the idea that I must work hard, whether at making money or whatever. The whole family training taught me that I must be doing, must be working—and at decent work. I made my health what it is. I determined to be strong and well, and did everything to make myself so. By the time I entered Harvard College I was able to take my part in whatever sports I liked. I wrestled and sparred and ran a great deal while in college, and, though I never came in first, I got more good out of the exercise than those who did, because I immensely enjoyed it and never injured myself."

That is the kind of boy he was. He never hurt himself by trying to do too much, but did all that he had strength for. That is a thing it would be well for some college boys to remember. One who helps himself by running a mile, may hurt himself a great deal by trying to run two miles.

When a little fellow Theodore was thin, pale and delicate. No one thought he would make much of a man—if he lived to be one. He was taught at home and in private schools, for his parents were afraid to trust him to the rough play of the public schools. He did not like that. He wanted to be strong and to do what other boys did, and when he was old enough he began to do all he could to make himself strong. "I was determined to make a man of myself," he says.

There was not much he did not try. He learned to swim, he learned to row, he learned to ride. He climbed, he jumped, he ran, he tramped over the hills. If any one asked him to ride, he said he would rather walk. If asked to take a sail, he said he would rather row. That is the way the delicate child grew to be a hardy boy and a man with muscles like steel. He showed what nearly any weak boy might do, if he chose to take the trouble.

Theodore Roosevelt


He was always fond of stories of animals and adventure. When he was only six years old he used to tell such stories to his little brother and sisters, All his animals talked and acted like boys or men, and his men were as strong as giants.

When he got older he did not let anybody impose on him. One day, when he was only a little fellow and went to a private school, he set out with his churn in a fine new sailor suit. Some of the public-school boys got in his way and called him a "dude." But they did not stay long, for Teddy and his chum went at them with their fists and fought their way through. Every day for a week it was the same thing. One day, after a hard battle, Teddy said to his chum: "Let's go round the block and come back and fight them again." He seemed to like fighting as much as he did later on.

He was always ready to fight for his rights. One day he came home from school with his clothes covered with mud and his face and hands scratched and bleeding.

"What is the matter, Teddy?" asked his father.

"Why, a boy up the street made a face at me and said, 'Your father's a fakir.' He was a good deal bigger than me, but I wouldn't stand that; so I just pitched in. I had a pretty hard time, but I licked him."

"That's right; I'm glad you licked him," said his father. You may see that old Roosevelt was a good deal like young Roosevelt.

When he was old enough the boy was sent to Harvard University. He studied well and graduated in 1880, and then spent a year in Europe. When he came to Switzerland and saw the Alps, the first thought he had was to climb them. He did it, too; he went to the top of the Matterhorn and the Jungfrau, two of the hard ones to climb.

When he came home in 1881 he was twenty-three years old. Nobody would have thought that this young fellow, with his strong frame, stout shoulders, and square jaws, had ever been delicate. He had fought his way to health and strength. He had plenty of money, and he might have spent the rest of his life in having; a good, easy, lazy sort of time, but that was not Teddy Roosevelt's way. He was already at work, writing a book. It is called "The Naval War of 1812," and a good book it is, too. It shows that he was then a thinker, and that he had read a great deal about the wars of the world.

That was only home work. Out of doors he at once went in for politics. And he did it so well that he was quickly elected to the New York Legislature. He took his seat there in 1882, the youngest member in the House. Many of the old members looked on him with scorn and called him "silk stocking." They thought he was a rich man's son who had come there to play at politics. They did not dream what he meant to do. He went at their little games, "hammer and tongs." In two months' time he had all the reformers on his side, and was going for the political tricksters as he had gone for the school-boys. He stayed six years in the Legislature, and in that time he carried through a number of very useful bills.

This is only one side of Theodore Roosevelt's life. I have told you that he was fond of stories of animals and wild life from the time he was six years old. When he grew older he read all the books he could get on the subject of hunting and natural history, and was very fond of Cooper's novels of Indian life. And when he reached manhood he became a hunter himself, going every year to the "Wild West," where he had splendid times in hunting the big game of that region. There were no lions and tigers to hunt, but there were bears and catamounts, and they were bad enough.

After he left the Legislature he was several years out of office, and these he spent in the West, hunting, fishing, ranching, and doing all sorts of rough work. He started a cattle ranch of his own, and put up a rough log building on which he worked himself. It was so far in the wilderness that he shot a deer from his own front door. Here he had herds of cattle, and acted as cowboy as well as hunter. He would dress in a flannel shirt and overalls tucked into alligator boots, and would help his own cowboys in rounding up the cattle, riding with the best of them. Then he would go home to sleep in bear-skins and buffalo robes, whose old wearers had fallen under his own rifle.

Mr. Roosevelt has always been very short-sighted and has had to wear glasses. They called him "Four Eyes" in the West, and looked on him as a "tenderfoot"—that is, a man from the East who knows nothing of Western life.

One day, when it was snowing and he had been out looking for lost cattle, he stopped at the hotel of a village in North Dakota. Here there was a "bad man" who wanted some one to fight with. He settled on Roosevelt.

"Here, you, take a drink," he said roughly.

"No, thank you. I don't want to drink," said Roosevelt, smiling.

"You've got to drink."

"I guess not," said Roosevelt, with another smile.

"I say you have." And the bad man "pulled his pistol.

In a second he thought a sky-rocket had struck him, but it was Teddy Roosevelt's fist, which knocked him sprawling.

"Where was I shot?" he asked, when he came to.

It took a good hour to make him believe that he had been shot by a "tenderfoot's" fist. After that the wild folks had too much respect for "Four Eyes" to meddle with him.

But he had a quarrel with one of his neighbors. There was a Frenchman, the Marquis de Mores, who owned a ranch next to his, and a quarrel broke out between the cowboys of the two ranches. Roosevelt heard the story and backed up his own cowboys, for he thought they were right. This made the Marquis very angry, and he said some ugly things about his neighbor, adding that he would shoot him the next time he met him. As soon as Roosevelt heard of this, he sprang on his horse and rode off at full speed to the Marquis's house. He strode in to where the Frenchman was sitting.

"I understand you said you would shoot me the next time you saw me," said the visitor. "Here I am, you can have the chance now."

The Marquis didn't shoot. In fact, after a talk over the quarrel, the two became very good friends.

"I am not so fond of 'bronco busting' and riding wild horses as some people think," said Roosevelt, in later days. "It wasn't because I liked that kind of work that I did it. But I always took just what came, and if it happened to be the wildest animal in the bunch, I got on, and stayed on, too, for when I got on I made up my mind to stay, and I have yet to see the bronco that could make me give in."

Now let us go back to his political life. In April, 1897, Roosevelt became Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He liked the position, for it began to look very much like war with Spain, and he saw that there was plenty of work to do. That always suited him—plenty of work.

He jumped into it. The ships wanted fitting up. The gunners needed to be taught how to aim and fire. He made things boom. He asked for $800,000 for ammunition. It was given to him, and a few months later he asked for $500,000 more. "What have you done with the $800,000?" he was asked. "Spent every cent of it for powder and shot and fired it all away." And what are you going to do with the $500,000?" "Use it the same way, to teach the men how to shoot."

In less than a year after that the men showed the good of Roosevelt's work, by their splendid aiming and firing in the battles of Manila Bay and off Santiago coast.

Roosevelt Storming San Juan Hill


But when war actually came, in May, 1898, wild horses could not have kept Roosevelt at office work. He offered his resignation at once and asked to be appointed on General Lee's staff. Then came the idea of the "Rough Riders'' Regiment—to be made up of cowboys, whom no horse could throw, and of daring riders from any quarter. "Roosevelt's Rough Riders" they were called, and the title hit the popular fancy. The papers were full of it.

No doubt, you know something of how he fought in Cuba, at Las Guasimas and in the terrible charge up San Juan Hill, in the face of the Spanish works. He was a fighter, out and out. He did not know what it was to be afraid. "You'd give a lifetime to see that man leading a charge or hear him yell," said one of his soldiers. "Talk about courage and grit and all that—he's got it." This is what a reporter says of the charge up San Juan Hill:

"Roosevelt was a hundred feet ahead of his troops, yelling like a Sioux, while his own men and the colored cavalry cheered him as they charged up the hill. There was no stopping as men's neighbors fell, but on they went, faster and faster. Suddenly, Roosevelt's horse stopped, pawed the air for a moment, and fell in a heap. Before the horse was down Roosevelt disengaged himself from the saddle and, landing on his feet, again yelled to his men, and, sword in hand, charged on afoot."

Colonel Roosevelt was the popular hero of the war. Everybody was talking of him, his boldness, his free and easy ways, his kindness to his men, his genial manner. When he got back to the United States, he found that men were talking of making him the next Governor of New York. They did, too. He went on the stump himself and made many speeches. On the night after the election he went to bed, not waiting for the returns, and was roused up about two o'clock in the morning by men knocking hard on the front door.

He came to the door with sleepy eyes.

"What is the matter?" he asked.

"You're elected by eighteen thousand."

"Am I? That's bully. Come in and tell me about it."

But after a few minutes he bade them good night, saying that he was so sleepy that he must go to bed again.

We need not say that Governor Roosevelt did his work as well in the capitol as he had done in the legislature. "Jobs" could not get past him. He put his foot down heavy on all sorts of rascality. He did not stay long in Albany, for he was soon wanted at Washington. When the Republican convention to nominate a candidate for President was held in 1900, McKinley was the man wanted. But for Vice-President Roosevelt's was the most popular name.

He did not want the office. He was coaxed to accept, and was fairly forced into it. He made a campaign of the country, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, speaking for McKinley. Of course, McKinley won—he was bound to win—and Roosevelt won with him. This was in November, 1900. In September, 1901, the President was shot, and there came a great change in Roosevelt's career. On Friday morning, September 13th, being told that the wounded President was out of danger, he left the hotel in the Adirondacks, where he was staying, for a long tramp in the mountains. Then came news that the President was dying and the Vice-President was wanted. It took hours to find him. It was nearly night when the guides and hunters came up to him, many miles away.

He was filled with surprise and grief when he was told the news. All that night he rode in a stagecoach to the nearest railroad station. When he got there he was startled to learn that McKinley had died three hours before and that he himself was now President of the United States. He had jumped from a do-nothing to a do-everything.

No man ever liked better to go where he pleased and do what he pleased. It was felt necessary to keep guards and detectives near him, for fear some wretch might try to kill him as they had done McKinley. He hated this. He was afraid of nothing, and thought he could take care of himself, and the poor guards had a hard time keeping him in sight. Sometimes he would give them the slip and ride away without their knowing it. Then he was happy.

His first message to Congress, in December, 1901, was a great state paper, which gave everybody satisfaction. After reading it, people all over the country said, "Roosevelt is a safe man. We can trust the country to him."

Roosevelt summoned


And that feeling has not died away yet, for he soon showed he meant to do all he had promised, and in his first term of office he proved himself a hard worker, an able statesman, and a man of the strictest integrity. When the great coal strike took place in 1902 and people were afraid of freezing in the wintry chill, President Roosevelt did what no President had ever done before. He took a hand in the settlement of the strike and soon had the men at work again.

There were many who said this was wrong, that it was unconstitutional, and all that; but the President only smiled. He felt satisfied he had done right, and most of the people said the same. In the spring of 1902 he went to Charleston, South Carolina, to see the great exposition there. He was very well received by the people of the South, and made a number of speeches with which they were greatly pleased. During the next spring he made a great journey all over the country, giving fine speeches everywhere, and telling the people just what he thought on a hundred subjects. Crowds came to see and hear him, he was wildly greeted and cheered, but through it all he was the same simple, plain Theodore Roosevelt. When, a crippled boy was brought to see him, he leaned down ands took his hand and spoke kindly words to him. When a little child offered him some flowers, he lifted her up and kissed her. And this was not done for show, but was the earnest feeling of a great, warm heart.

Theodore Roosevelt


President Roosevelt's home is near Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York. The house is full of trophies of his many hunting trips. It is situated on Cove Neck, three miles by carriage from the village of Oyster Bay. It is approached by a steep, winding roadway, which takes the visitor through a dense wood before revealing to him the house itself. Once on the crest of the little hill which he has selected for his home, the visitor has a beautiful view in every direction, especially to the north and east, where the waters of the Sound and Cold Spring Harbor are seen. Around the house on all sides is a closely cropped lawn, studded with shade trees, big and little, and of many kinds.

Mrs. Roosevelt, "the lady of the White House," is rather small, has brown hair and eyes and a clear complexion, but her chief beauty is her mouth, which is highly expressive, She is one of the women who have the art of making themselves popular, and is very well fitted for her high position, to which she does honor on every public occasion. I have no doubt she is very proud of her husband, and so are the people of the United States, whatever party they belong to.