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.
are Americans all....  An apparent roughness which some would deem rudeness of manner....  Where there is perfect equality in a neighborhood of people who know little about each other’s previous history or ancestry but where each is lord of the soil he cultivates.  Where a log cabin is all that the best of families can expect to have for years and of course can possess few of the external decorations which have so much influence in creating a diversity of rank in society.  These circumstances have laid the foundation for that equality of intercourse, simplicity of manners, want of deference, want of reserve, great readiness to make acquaintances, freedom of speech, indisposition to brook real or imaginary insults which one witnesses among people of the West.”

This equality, this independence, this rudeness so often described by the traveler as marking a new country, were all accentuated by the character of the settlers themselves.  Traces of the fierce, unsociable, eagle-eyed, hard-drinking hunter remained.  The settlers who followed the hunter were, with some exceptions, soldiers of the Revolutionary army, farmers of the “middling order,” and mechanics from the towns,—­English, Scotch-Irish, Germans,—­poor in possessions and thrown upon the labor of their own hands for support.  Sons and daughters from well-to-do Eastern homes sometimes brought softer manners; but the equality of life and the leveling force of labor in forest and field soon made them one in spirit with their struggling neighbors.  Even the preachers and teachers, who came when the cabins were raised in the clearings and rude churches and schoolhouses were built, preached sermons and taught lessons that savored of the frontier, as any one may know who reads Peter Cartwright’s A Muscular Christian or Eggleston’s The Hoosier Schoolmaster.

THE WEST AND THE EAST MEET

=The East Alarmed.=—­A people so independent as the Westerners and so attached to local self-government gave the conservative East many a rude shock, setting gentlemen in powdered wigs and knee breeches agog with the idea that terrible things might happen in the Mississippi Valley.  Not without good grounds did Washington fear that “a touch of a feather would turn” the Western settlers away from the seaboard to the Spaniards; and seriously did he urge the East not to neglect them, lest they be “drawn into the arms of, or be dependent upon foreigners.”  Taking advantage of the restless spirit in the Southwest, Aaron Burr, having disgraced himself by killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel, laid wild plans, if not to bring about a secession in that region, at least to build a state of some kind out of the Spanish dominions adjoining Louisiana.  Frightened at such enterprises and fearing the dominance of the West, the Federalists, with a few conspicuous exceptions, opposed equality between the sections.  Had their narrow views prevailed, the West, with its new democracy, would have been held in perpetual tutelage to the seaboard or perhaps been driven into independence as the thirteen colonies had been not long before.

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