History of the United States eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 731 pages of information about History of the United States.

=Missouri.=—­Far to the north in the Louisiana purchase, a new commonwealth was rising to power.  It was peopled by immigrants who came down the Ohio in fleets of boats or crossed the Mississippi from Kentucky and Tennessee.  Thrifty Germans from Pennsylvania, hardy farmers from Virginia ready to work with their own hands, freemen seeking freemen’s homes, planters with their slaves moving on from worn-out fields on the seaboard, came together in the widening settlements of the Missouri country.  Peoples from the North and South flowed together, small farmers and big planters mingling in one community.  When their numbers had reached sixty thousand or more, they precipitated a contest over their admission to the union, “ringing an alarm bell in the night,” as Jefferson phrased it.  The favorite expedient of compromise with slavery was brought forth in Congress once more.  Maine consequently was brought into the union without slavery and Missouri with slavery.  At the same time there was drawn westward through the rest of the Louisiana territory a line separating servitude from slavery.


=Land Tenure and Liberty.=—­Over an immense western area there developed an unbroken system of freehold farms.  In the Gulf states and the lower Mississippi Valley, it is true, the planter with his many slaves even led in the pioneer movement; but through large sections of Tennessee and Kentucky, as well as upper Georgia and Alabama, and all throughout the Northwest territory the small farmer reigned supreme.  In this immense dominion there sprang up a civilization without caste or class—­a body of people all having about the same amount of this world’s goods and deriving their livelihood from one source:  the labor of their own hands on the soil.  The Northwest territory alone almost equaled in area all the original thirteen states combined, except Georgia, and its system of agricultural economy was unbroken by plantations and feudal estates.  “In the subdivision of the soil and the great equality of condition,” as Webster said on more than one occasion, “lay the true basis, most certainly, of popular government.”  There was the undoubted source of Jacksonian democracy.


=The Characteristics of the Western People.=—­Travelers into the Northwest during the early years of the nineteenth century were agreed that the people of that region were almost uniformly marked by the characteristics common to an independent yeomanry.  A close observer thus recorded his impressions:  “A spirit of adventurous enterprise, a willingness to go through any hardship to accomplish an object....  Independence of thought and action.  They have felt the influence of these principles from their childhood.  Men who can endure anything; that have lived almost without restraint, free as the mountain air or as the deer and the buffalo of their forests, and who know they

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History of the United States from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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