Слике страница
PDF
ePub

The United States immediately laid claim to the region drained by this river and its tributaries. In 1804, at Jefferson's suggestion, a party of thirty-five soldiers and hunters was sent out under Captain Lewis and Lieutenant Clarke, to cross the Rocky Mountains and explore the continent as far as the mouth of the Columbia. They spent the winter of 1804–5 among the Mandan Indians, at the Falls of the Missouri. In the spring they resumed their journey, and November brought them to their point of destination.

The adventures of the explorers were embodied in a narrative which was read with avidity by thousands. They had passed more than two years at a distance from civilized society, had travelled 6,000 miles among savage tribes, and returned with the loss of but a single man. Hair-breadth escapes often saved them from the ferocious beasts of the forest and Indians hardly less ferocious. One night some of the party espied a huge grizzly bear near a river by which

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

was done in 1804 ? Where did the explorers spend the ensuing winter? When did they reach their point of destination? How many miles did they travel ?

1805]

BRITISH AGGRESSIONS.

335

they were encamped, and approaching within forty yards gave him the contents of their

guns.

Four balls entered his body, but served only to make him more furious. He rushed towards them, and on the way received another volley from two of the hunters who had prudently reserved their fire. Before they could reload, the angry beast was upon them, and they fled to the river. Two found refuge in a boat, and the others, hiding in a clump of willows, wounded him again and again, till they also were forced into the water. The bear pursued, and had almost overtaken one of the hunters when he received a bullet in his brain and fell.

455. In 1805 and the following years, •American commerce suffered much from British aggressions. The United States maintained a strict neutrality in the wars that were convulsing Europe, but their rights as a neutral nation were disregarded. Vessels sailing under their flag on the high seas were subjected to frequent and flagrant injuries. England authorized her officers to stop them, to examine their crews, and impress for their own ships whatever seamen they chose to regard as British subjects. These outrages American vessels were often too weak to resist. The frigate Chesapeake, when starting on a distant voyage, was unexpectedly attacked by the British ship Leopard, which had been enjoying the hospitality of an American port. Several of her crew were killed, and four men were impressed and carried on board of the Leopard, on the plea that they were deserters. Jefferson, in a proclamation, immediately ordered all British vessels-of-war to quit the waters of the United States. The English government disavowed the act and promised reparation; but nothing satisfactory was done. The president further retaliated, by laying an embargo on American vessels, that is, forbidding them to leave port. This was done to distress England, for American ships during the war had done most of the carrying trade of Europe. The embargo,

Relate their adventure with a grizzly bear. 455. What cause of trouble arose in 1805 ? To what outrages were American vessels subjected! What befell the Chesapeake? What was immediately done by the president? What was the course of the English government? How did Jefferson further retaliate ? What was the effect of the embargo! How long did it remain in force? What was

however, was found so injurious to the commercial interests of the north, that after fourteen months it was repealed, and a non-intercourse act was passed in its stead.

456. In the midst of these difficulties, Mr. Jefferson's second term expired. Declining a reëlection, he announced his determination to return to private life. Though some partisans charged him with pursuing too timid a course

JEFFERSON'S SEAT, MONTICELLO, VA. in relation to the aggressions of England, all respected him as a man of high talents and stern integrity, who had labored honorably and successfully for his country. An epitaph placed on his monument by his own direction tells us that he was the “Author of the Declaration of Independence; of the statute for religious freedom in Virginia; and the father of the University of Virginia”.

457. Before leaving this period, we must notice one of those great inventions that mark an epoch in the world's history. Its projector was Robert Fulton, a native of Pennsylvania, at this time about forty years of age.

His education was imperfect, and he had figured in early life as a sketcher of landscapes and portraits. During a visit to England, he learned what was then known respecting the powers and applications of steam, and conceived the idea of employing it in navigation. The poet Darwin, shortly before, in the spirit of prophecy, had written,

Soon shall thy arm, unconquered steam, afar

Drag the slow barge, or drive the rapid car,”and Fulton resolved to bring the prophecy to pass. finally substituted for it? 456. How did Jefferson feel with respect to reëlection ? What is said of his character? What does his epitaph tell us ? 457. What great invention belongs to this period ? By whom was it made? What is said of Ful

[graphic]

1807]

FULTON'S GREAT INVENTION.

337

com

re

Full of the thought, Fulton went to Paris, and there, amid discouragements of various kinds, devised an engine adapted to the purpose. In 1806, he returned to New York; and, aided by Mr. Livingston, whom he had met in France, he commenced on the East River the construction of the first steamboat. It was 100 feet long, 12 feet wide, and 7 feet deep. The work went on, though it was prophesied on all sides that it would be a failure. At last the boat (originally named the Clermont, but afterwards the North River) was pleted, and moved to the Jersey shore. On the 2d of September,

FULTON'S CLERMONT. 1807, Mr. Fulton invited his friends to join him on a trial trip. The word was given, but it was found that the engine would not move. Who can conceive Fulton's anxiety, as he hastens below to ascertain the cause of the difficulty ? Is the cherished project of years after all but a dream ? Is he to incur loss and ridicule by the utter failure of his plans ? No! he finds the obstacle, removes it. The wheels revolve, and the boat glides freely over the waters of the Hudson. Honor and fortune are his: a giant stride has been taken in the march of intellect.

The Clermont plied for some years between New York and Albany. Before this the passage had been made in sloops, and required from six to ten days. The Clermont performed it in 36 hours, at a charge of $7 to each passenger. For several years the Hudson could boast of the only steamboat in the world.

[graphic]

a

ton's previous history? What had Darwin written shortly before? Where did Fulton devise his first engine? Where did he then go? By whom was he aided ? Where did he commence the construction of his boat? What were its dimensions ? What was its name? Give an account of the trial trip. What became of the Clermont? What is said of the time and price of a passage between New

458. In the summer of 1809, Thomas Paine, whose writings had been of great service to the patriot cause in the Revolution, died in his 73d year. He was born in Norfolk, England, received an imperfect education, and in early life followed his father's vocation, which was that of a stay-maker. A political pamphlet, of which he was the author, introduced him to the notice of Franklin, by whose advice he went to America. He arrived on the eve of the Revolutionary struggle, and, by his famous pamphlet entitled “Common Sense" and other publications, helped to impress on the minds of the people the necessity of an entire separation from the mother country. The legislature of Pennsylvania recognized his services by presenting him £500. Congress voted him $3,000; and from New York he received 500 acres of land. Paine subsequently took part in the French Revolution, but was arrested and imprisoned, and narrowly escaped with his life. At the age of 65, he returned to America; but his attacks on religion, added to his intemperate habits, prevented him from being treated with the consideration which he would otherwise have received, and his life closed in obscurity and wretchedness.

CHAPTER IV.

MADISON'S ADMINISTRATION, FROM 1809 TO 1812.

459. JEFFERSON was succeeded, March 4th, 1809, by James Madison of Va., who appointed Robert Smith, of Maryland, secretary of state. George Clinton was reëlected vice-president. The difficulties with Great Britain first engaged the president's attention. The non-intercourse act,

York and Albany? How long did the Clermont remain the only steamboat in the world ? 458. Who died in the summer of 1809) Where was Thomas Paine born? What vocation did he follow in early life? What introduced him to Franklin's notice ? What services did he render in the Revolution? How were these services rewarded! What was Paine's subsequent history?

459. By whom was Jefferson succeeded? Who was elected vice-president at the same time with Madison ? What subject first engaged the president's atten

« ПретходнаНастави »