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The history of North America, from the period of its discovery to the present time, is replete with interest and instruction. Emerging, as it were, from the chaos of unrecorded ages, that vast continent, destined to become the birthplace of a mighty nation, had no sooner offered its shores as an asylum for the persecuted and oppressed of the Old World, than graterul and energetic bands of noble-minded men hastened to avail themselves of the new sphere of action so providentially opened before them, and at once established a basis upon which to erect a commonwealth that should thereafter rival, in magnitude and importance, the greatest of the monarchies of Europe. Springing, therefore, from such an origin, the people of North America have not affected to trace their early history through the mists of romance, nor to surround the founders of their states with the surreptitious halo of mythological tradition. It has sufficed for them, that, descending from those representatives of a brave and prudent race, who sought and found, amidst the prairies and forests of the far west, the civil and religious liberty they were denied the enjoyment of in the land of their birth, they have imbibed the perseverance, the fortitude, and the prudence of their ancestors; and now deservedly enjoy the triumphs won by sacrifices and self-denial, in the world-wide recognition of their independence and their might.
DISCOVERY OF AMERICA.-The Scandinavians discovered America, A.D. 1000. This remarkable race of people extended their explorations to the most remote regions of the northern hemisphere. Scotland, the Orkneys, Shetlands, and Faroe Isles, were, at an early date, familiar to their navigators. Iceland was discovered by them in the year 863. The Norwegian INGOLF began to colonise the island in the year 874; and, from his efforts, sprang the ultimately organised Icelandic Republic, with its representative assembly at Thingvalla. The carefully preserved history of Iceland abounds with incidents most interesting. In the year 983, Erik The Red sailed from Iceland, to explore the land previously seen, in 877, by GUNNBIORN; and he succeeded in finding a country, which he called Greenland. In the year 986, he made another voyage, carrying with him emigrants, and settled upon the south-west coast. On a voyage from Iceland to Greenland, in this year (986), BIARNE was driven out to sea, towards the south-west, and, for the first time, beheld the American coast. This discovery was made known in Greenland on the arrival of Biarne ; and LEIF THE FORTUNATE, son of Erik the Red, undertook a voyage of discovery thither in the year 1000. He was successful; and he named the countries visited, HELLULAND (Newfoundland), MARKLAND (Nova Scotia), and VINLAND (New England). Other explorations were made by various expeditions ; and it is supposed their observations extended to the coast of Florida. The records of these discoveries have been preserved in the Icelandic historic annals; and through the efforts of the distinguished Rafn, of Copenhagen, they have been brought to light, with incontestable evidence of their correctness. The Society of Northern Antiquaries has published translations from the Icelandic histories, with respect to the discovery of America by the Scandinavians; and it would seem that their explorations were probably communicated to COLUMBUS, when he visited Iceland in 1477 ; and we have no doubt but that the information then obtained, operated as one of the causes which inspired the mind of that great man with that zeal which bade defiance to every difficulty, and enabled him to effect the re-discovery of the New World in 1492, under circumstances that ultimately led to its colonisation, and the formation of one of the greatest nations known in the career of man.
COLUMBUS pursued the object of his ambition without cessation. He met failure after failure with a great degree of philosophy-evidencing that he was a man possessing powers commensurate with the grandeur of the thought. He finally succeeded in getting aid from Spain; and, on the 3rd of August, 1492, he sailed from Palos, upon the memorable voyage that has produced the most wonderful results. On the 11th of October, 1492, he discovered land, and named it San Salvador. He erected the Cross; and thus, with a heart full of gratitude to God for the success of his mission, dedicated the New World to Christianity. In the year 1497, John Cabot, and his son
, Sebastian, who were Venetians, made a voyage of discovery to America, under the patronage of Henry VII. of England. On the 24th of June they discovered land, which, it is supposed, was Newfoundland. They explored the coast of Labrador, and southward to Florida. In 1524, an expedition, under the patronage of France, commanded by Verrazzani, a Florentine, explored the coast of New York; and another French expedition sailed in 1534, under the command of Cartier. This expedition ascended the St. Lawrence; and the name of New FRANCE was given to the country. In 1539, De Soto started on his extraordinary expedition overland. He sailed from Havana with nine vessels, 900 men, over 200 horses, and a large number of swine-landed on the coast of Florida, and travelled northward, striking the Mississippi River, in the Chickasaw country. De Soto was the discoverer of the Mississippi River; and near its banks he died : his body was buried in its waters by the light of the myriads of stars that shone from the firmament.
In 1562, the Huguenots from France attempted to settle within the present limits of South Carolina; but they were unsuccessful. In 1564, the Spaniards settled at St. Augustine, Florida; but their progress was arrested by a conflict with the French. In 1584, Queen Elizabeth gave a patent to Sir Walter Raleigh, to discover and occupy lands in America. An expedition sailed that year, and landed on the Roanoke, where formal possession was taken, and the country named VIRGINIA, in honour of the virgin Queen, then on the throne of England. Various other expeditions were projected, and, to some extent, executed.
SETTLEMENT OF AMERICA.—The object of the following pages is twofold—to revive the memories of the past—to record the incidents of the present—as both are connected with the most important epochs in American history. Thus, while due regard is accorded to the enterprise, the zeal, and the heroism of those pioneers of civilisation and of empire, who, in the early part of the 17th century, braved the dangers of an unknown sea in search of freedom and a home; converted the haunts of savages into the abodes of civilised man, and superseded the rude and barbarous habits of the forest and the
swamp, by the mild and elevating influences of Christianity; the chief aim of the following work will be, to trace the circumstances that gradually have led to the present attitude of a people who are great and prosperous.
The earlier settlers upon the North American continent brought with them the i lights which intellect and experience had, through progressive ages, diffused over the
western world. The happiness of the daring few, who had exchanged persecution for liberty, allured emigrants from every portion of central and western Europe, until, in time, the few scattered bands grew into a vast and mighty people; who, bearing for awhile the yoke of foreign domination, at length became impatient of misrule, and bursting their fetters, asserted and conquered a right to be admitted into the brotherhood of nations.
But long ere this result had been attained, a gradual tendency to cohesion of the separated members of the great Transatlantic family, encouraged aspirations for liberty that penal laws were powerless to suppress, and coercion fanned into an unquenchable filame of patriotism. We shall proceed, however, in the first place, to trace the geogra. phical divisions of the country, and then follow the progressive growth of territory under the monarchical and republican governments-taking the several provinces or states in the order of their original settlement.
The continent of America, situated between the 16th degree of north latitude and the Arctic Ocean, by which it is bounded on its northern side, is enclosed on the east by the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico; on the south by the same gulf and Central America; and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. The coast-line being deeply indented with gulfs, bays, and inlets, gives a length, from Hudson's Bay to the Florida channel, of about 4,800 miles; and from thence to Panama, about 4,500 more. On the Pacific side, the whole length, including the coasts of the Gulf of California, has been computed at 10,500 miles ; but of the extent of the northern and eastern shores no conjecture has yet been hazarded. Taking it, however, at a probable length of about 3,000 miles, a coast-line is given of some 22,800 miles. Any estimate of the area of a region so irregularly shaped, must be exceedingly conjectural; but it is generally computed to comprise, in round numbers, about 8,500,000 square miles. De Bow, superintendent of the Census Bureau at Washington, has given the entire area as embracing 8,373,648 square miles; of which, 3,306,865 belong to the United States : the remainder being divided as follows:—British America, 3,050,398; Mexico, 1,038,834; Russian America, 394,000; Danish America, 384,000; and Central America, 203,551. As the object of this work is necessarily confined to the portion of this vast territory known as the United States of America, it is not necessary to refer further to the other divisions mentioned as constituting the aggregate of the great northern continent.
The nucleus of civilisation, which at first appeared only as a bright speck on the western horizon, was encompassed by all the magnificent wildness of nature, and all the untameable ferocity of savage life. This nucleus, however, progressively expanded over the vast area around it. The dense forests have yielded to the axe of civilisation ; the ploughshare has upturned the beautiful and wide-spread prairies; the mighty rivers teem with floating palaces, laden with the fruits of the land, and the people in motion; the tomahawk, the scalping-knife, and the war-club, have become but relics of a past savage age; the symbols of Christianity, and the temples of learning, are now scattered over that vast country. To the free and unlimited exercise of religious faith, and the general diffusion of knowledge without price, is to be ascribed the prosperity of the American nation.
The precise order of the colonisation of the United States, might be considered, progressively, according to the dates of the charters; but we deem it best to consider them respectively, having in view their relative organisations. We shall, therefore, proceed at once to give a brief notice of the whole domain of the United States as it now exists, including the states and territories.
VIRGINIA.— The province of Virginia, one of the southern states of the American Confederacy, was first discovered in 1584, although not colonised until 1607. The first discoveries were made in that part now within the state of North Carolina, adjacent to the Ocracock inlet. The first settlement was formed in May, 1607, and called James Town, upon the banks of the James River-called by the Indians, Powhatan River. At this time there were no limits to Virginia ; but subsequent charters narrowed its territory: so that, at the beginning of the war of 1775, it only contained the territory of the state as now held, and the state of Kentucky, then called Fincastle County.
Prior to the declaration of independence, in 1776, the colonies formed armies, and defended themselves against every invading foe. Even after the formation of the united army, under Washington, Virginia organised an independent home service, for the especial protection of its frontiers. General George Rogers Clarke had command of the western division; and his successes north of the Ohio River, at Fort Vincent, Kaskaskia, and Cahokia, gave to Virginia, at the close of the war, by the treaty of peace in 1783, the whole north-west territory, now known as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and a part of Minnesota. This vast region was held by conquest; and, at the treaty of 1783, it was conceded solely, however, through the resolute and determined course of Mr. Adams, one of the American commissioners. In 1784, Virginia ceded the north-west territory to the Confederation, formed as a perpetual union in 1781; and, in this change of jurisdiction, among the conditions was one, that not | more than five states should be formed out of the ceded domain; and another, that " there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory;" and “provided always, that any person escaping into the same, from whom labour or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original states, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed, and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labour or service as aforesaid.”
On the 1st of June, 1792, the state of Kentucky was admitted into the Union by the consent of Virginia, passed in 1789. By these relinquishments, the domain of Virginia was reduced to its present boundaries. Its area is estimated at 61,352 square miles. The area ceded was about 280,000 square miles.
No state in the Confederacy presents a greater diversity of surface than Virginia, from the mountains of the interior, and the rugged hills east and west of them, to the rich alluvions of the rivers, and the sandy flats on the sea-coast. It has also, probably, a greater extent of mountainous country within its limits than any other state; although the general elevation of it is inferior to that of New Hampshire and North Carolina—the highest land, White-Top, in Grayson County, being elevated not more than 6,000 feet above the sca-level. Virginia has been divided into the following geographical sections :-1. The Tidewater district, bordering on the Atlantic and Chesapeake Bay; which is mostly level ground, being not more than sixty feet above the tide, even in its
highest parts. 2. The Piedmont district-more varied and elevated in surface than the first-named section. 3. The Valley district, which is entered by ascending the Blue Ridge, the spur of the great Alleghany chain on the east, which passes from Maryland into Virginia, near Harper's Ferry, about fifty miles north-west of Washington. This district is crossed by the different ridges of the Appalachian great chain. 4. The Trans-Alleghany district, lying west of the mountains so designated. This portion of the state is mostly hilly, and occupied by outlying spurs of the Alleghanies.
The mountains extend across the middle of the state, in a south-west and north-east direction, forming a belt of from 80 to 100 miles in width. The Blue Ridge forms, as before stated, the eastern barrier of the mountainous region; and the Laurel, Green Brier, and Great Flat-Top Mountains, the western. The Cumberland Mountains are on the boundary next Kentucky, and the Valley district is a table-land, elevated from 1,200 to 1,500 feet above tide-water. Virginia abounds in mineral treasures of the more useful sorts, and is not without a share of the precious metals : its gold mines are found in Fluvanna, Orange, Spotsylvania, Goochland, and Buckingham counties; and, according to the latest report of the secretary of the treasury, the gold received at the different mints of the United States, the produce of Virginia, since 1792, represented a value of nearly $2,000,000. The copper mines of Virginia are also productive, and an inexhaustible supply of coal lies within its bosom; the area of the coal region being estimated at 21,195 square miles-probably below the actual extent of it.
Virginia is distinguished for its fine navigable waters. Among them are the Chesapeake, which has its outlet in that state, and receives in its bay the waters of most of the rivers on the Atlantic slope of the territory: the Potomac, navigable, by the largest ships, to near Washington city, a hundred miles from the bay: the RappahanDock, navigable to Fredericsburg, for vessels of 140 tons: the York, and its branches, navigable for large ships, to York Town, forty miles: the James, and its principal affluent, the Appomattox; the former navigable to Richmond, and the latter to Petersburg, for vessels of 100 tons. The Chowan and Roanoke, with their numerous tributaries, rise in the south of the state, and find an outlet in Albemarle Sound, in North Carolina. Two branches of the Shenandoah drain the northern portion of the valleys of the Alleghanies. The Monongahela, Little Kanawha, Great Kanawha, Guyandotte, and Big Sandy rivers, drain the north-western slope of the state, and empty into the Ohio; and the Holston and Clinch rivers, with their smaller branches, rise in the south-west of the state, and pass off into Tennessee, to join the river of that name.
This state is celebrated for its medicinal springs, which rise amongst the mountains of its central counties, between the Blue Ridge on the east, and the Alleghany Range on the west. The most noted of these are the Berkeley, in Morgan County; the Capon, in Hampshire; and the Shannondale, in Jefferson County. The passage of the Potomac through the Blue Ridge at Harper's Ferry, Madison's Cave, and the Chimneys in Augusta County; the natural tunnel in Scott County, through which the stream passes under an arch of 70 feet in elevation, with twice that thickness of superincumbent earth ; the Falls of the Potomac, near George Town; the Weyers' Cave, seventeen miles northEast of Staunton, extending for about 2,500 feet beneath the earth's surface, and draped with sparkling stalactites, are objects of unfailing interest. Besides these, the greatest natural curiosity of Virginia is the Hawk's Nest, about nine miles from the White