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The history of the discovery and settlement of America abounds with incidents rarely to be found in the annals of any other parts of the earth's surface. The whole western hemisphere is a natural wonder; and the people inhabiting the belt now known as the United States, have become a race and a nation characteristic of its climate, fertility of soil, and vastness of resources. With these gifts of the Creator, a mixed multitude of wanderers from other regions combined to form that nation, consisting of people distinguished for genius in the development of science, and the appliances of art.
The career of those who settled the New World has occurred since the art of printing became practicable; and owing to this circumstance, the present generation can, with considerable facility, learn the details respecting the progress made by those hardy adventurers. I have availed myself of many advantages in the collection of those facts, and have presented them as concisely as possible in this Work.
The discovery of America dates far back in the dim past; and the honour belongs to the Icelanders. Beyond all doubt they settled that continent, A.D. 1000. I do not assert it as probable, but as a fact, easily established by unquestionable evidence. During my travels through Iceland, and while associating with the people, every opportunity was employed to investigate the evidences bearing upon this question: I have not failed to study it in Copenhagen, where the old Icelandic manuscripts are carefully preserved; and, when in Greenland, amidst the Esquimaux at Brattalid, I dwelt upon the spot whereon once stood the habitation of Eric the Red, who sent forth the expeditions to settle America.
The explorations made by the English, French, and Spanish navigators, are impartially narrated; and the daring achievements of the early settlers are described as they chronologically occurred.
The extent of country occupied and claimed by the three nations respectively, at different epochs, will be found most carefully explained. I have taken great pains to set forth the means that were applied to terminate the French
power on the Western continent; and also the curtailment of the English and Spanish dominion over the vast region that subsequently formed the great Republic of America. Passing from these foreign sovereignties, I have endeavoured to give an impartial account of the revolutionary struggle between the provincial, colonial, and proprietary governments, and George III., which resulted successfully to the former, and in the ultimate formation of the United States' government.
The peculiar powers distributed between the State and Federal institutions, defined by their respective constitutions, ordinances, and bills of rights, are carefully discussed; and the details respecting their mixed administrations, from the foundation of the Republic to the present time, are definitely stated. The reader will observe that I have not indulged in adulation of my countrymen or government; and, in this particular, it is hoped that patriotic service has been done to both. Having mingled with the people of all parts of the civilised world, and availing myself of rare facilities in studying the governmental systems of Europe, my observations have led me to believe that all governments are imperfect, and that none can be maintained beyond the time they cease to be supported by the affections of the people.
In narrating the discoveries of America, and the thrilling events that occurred, from time to time, during the progress of its settlement, I have copied largely from Holmes' Annals, Hinton's Colonial History, Stedman's and Gordon's Histories of the Revolution, and various other publications. Credit has been given in all cases to the original source of information ; but it is quite possible that I may have failed to do full justice to some of the authorities from which matter has been collected : for, in fact, materials from many hundreds of volumes have been employed. I desire to disclaim any particular merit for originality of ideas or excellence of language; but it is expected that the reader will accord to me the credit of having sought for, and grouped together, the greatest amount of facts relating to America that has ever been published in a connected history. In accomplishing this great desideratum, I have had access to most of the principal libraries in the United States and Europe; but my studies have been more particularly confined to the archives and libraries of the British government, in London. Within the past three years I have examined more than 11,000 volumes, and, from a number of them, collected important truths. I have toiled many years for materials contained in this Work; and while engaged in preparing them for the press, many times the dawn of morn has warned me to lay aside the pen; and then, reluctantly, have I regretted the necessity of yielding for repose.
Among the reliable works referred to for corroborative data, were Howe's and Barber's State Annals : these local histories abound with instructive information. Lossing's Field Book contains a vast amount of historic matter, briefly stated. Bancroft's History, consisting of eight volumes, though confined to the colonial period, and not extending later than 1776, has been quoted from occasionally. Hildreth's History is rich in chronology. Two volumes of this work are devoted to the colonial affairs; one to the Revolution; and three to the political and military events that occurred between 1787 and 1820. Many facts have been collected from the proceedings of Congress, legislatures, and learned institutions; also from law books, reports of judicial tribunals, and from the various official publications issued in different parts of the country.
In regard to the wars with Great Britain, France, Tripoli, and Mexico, I have endeavoured to be courteous and impartial in writing the descriptions of those events. The accounts of the many Indian wars that have taken place since the settlement of Jamestown, in 1607, to the close of the Seminole war in 1842, may appear too full as to detail; but they are, in reality, brief (the importance of those sanguinary conflicts being borne in mind), and restricted to only a few of the most noted incidents that took place during the struggles with the savage hordes,
Unwilling to rely solely upon my own efforts in the collection of data employed in this history, and with the view of avoiding any important omission, I engaged the services of several literary gentlemen, who have rendered me most essential aid, particularly with reference to the Indian wars. I am also much indebted to the managers of the respective libraries, and especially of the British Museum, who have accorded to me every desired facility in making researches.
The time and convenience of the reader have been observed, by adopting a divisional arrangement of matter, so as to place all the details respecting any particular subject in immediate connection. As, for example, the history of slavery is given at the periods when it became of national importance in 1808, 1820, and 1850. The early history of Louisiana, and of the respective States, will be found as connected narratives, each complete in itself; at least, as much so as the nature of things has permitted.
The Maps accompanying this Work have been compiled from the most reliable authorities. Some of them illustrate important events never before published; and these, in part, were copied from manuscript drawings found by me in the closets of persons who had no appreciation of their historic value.
The political history of the United States for the past half century has not been fully considered, on account of my having been familiar with many of those who have taken an active part in public affairs; and the time i has not yet arrived when their proceedings can be impartially criticised. The most important epoch of the nation's history has occurred since 1844, as it was then that the slavery question became portentous. It was supposed that the compromise of 1850 would set at rest that exciting issue. Providence, however, denied the boon. From time to time, the politicians, North and South, have, with an unbridled sectional zeal, fanned the flames of discord between the people of different parts of the country; and when, in 1860, the anti-slavery parties of the North succeeded in electing a President totally antagonistic to the extension of involuntary servitude into the territories, under the provisions of the constitution, as defined by the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of Dred Scott, the Southern people severed their connection with the Federal Union, and preferred an arbitrament of the issue on the battle-field.
The incidental cause of the civil war now so furiously waging between the Northern and Southern States, was slavery; but a degeneracy in the administration of public affairs has been the real cause of the conflict. Washington and his co-patriots, who founded the government, were pure statesmen: succeeding them, a generation of ambitious men attained power, and exercised it for party aggrandisement, regardless of the national weal. Following the epoch of this second class, came the sectional politicians, who continue to maintain their influence. When the government was founded in 1789, only a few of the Federal and State officials were elected by the people: but within the past quarter of a century the suffrage system has been greatly extended; so that, at the present time, nearly all the officials of the governments, from the President down to a constable, are either directly or indirectly chosen by ballot: and, in this manner, the affairs of state have been subjected to continual change by a capricious multitude.
The glory of the Americans has been achieved through their inventive genius; and their greatness as a nation, in every branch of human industry, has been acknowledged by the civilised inhabitants of
clime. The majority of them have been content to follow in the steady prosecution of the useful arts, trade, commerce, and agriculture—thus promoting their own happiness, and advancing their country's wealth. Being disinclined to engage in public pursuits, they have, from time to time, confided the management of the governments to others, who, unfortunately for the permanency of the Republic, have not been, in many cases, pure in heart : they reposed confidence in men who were more ambitious than patriotic; and under their guidance, for upwards of a quarter of a century, the greatest Republic, and the noblest political structure conceived by man, has been on the decline. In 1861 occurred a mighty outburst of sectional antagonism. The result of the sanguinary conflict is still in suspense; and I close this Work while thousands of my countrymen's bones lie, unburied, side by side with fragments of shot and shell !
TAL. P. SHAFFNER.
LONDON, July 4th, 1863.
THE CIVIL WAR IN AMERICA,
The election of Abraham Lincoln to the the general assembly of this state, ratifying the presidency of the United States, on the amendments of the said constitution, are hereby 6th of November, 1860, was looked upon South Carolina and other states, under the name of
repealed; and that the union now subsisting between by the southern states, represented by the the United States of America, is hereby dissolved.” conservative parties of the country, as a declaration of war. It was known that he The secession ordinance was immediately entirely owed the accident of his election followed by a declaration of the causes to the faction diametrically opposed to which had provoked it. In this document, southern interests; and the conclusion was it was alleged that the people of South natural that he must, perforce, select his Carolina, in convention assembled, had, on counsellors from amongst the prominent the 2nd of April, 1852, declared that the men of that faction, and consult their pre- frequent violations of the constitution of judices and views in his administration of the United States by the federal governthe power placed in his hands. The feeling ment, and its encroachments upon the of dissatisfaction created by this state of reserved rights of the states, fully justified affairs, at length found vent in threats of South Carolina in its withdrawal from the resistance; and the southern states Lias- federal union; but, in deference to the tened to go out of a Union which could no opinions and wishes of the other slavelonger offer a guarantee for the protection holding states, it forbore, at that time, of their rights, or any permanent sense of to exercise such right. That, since that security. They felt that the domination of time, such encroachments have continued the daily increasing hostile feeling of the to increase, and further forbearance bad north, would eventually, and in detail, de- ceased to be a virtue. stroy their institutions, confiscate their pro- Numerous grounds for dissatisfaction perty, and imperil the lives of their people. were then enumerated; and it proceeded
The state of South Carolina was the first thus:-"A geographical line has been drawn to take action in this matter; and, without across the Union; and all the states north wasting time in useless argument, and with of that line, have united in the election of little preparation for war, it determined, a man to the high office of president of the by the free exercise of its authority as a United States, whose opinions and purposes sovereign state, to separate itself from are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted the Union. A convention was accordingly with the administration of the common summoned ; and on the 20th of December, government, because he has declared that 1860, an ordinance of secession, dissolving the government cannot endure, permathe compact between the state of South nently, half slave, half free;' and that the Carolina and the other states united with public mind must rest in the belief that it under the constitution of the United slavery is in the course of ultimate extincStates of America, was resolved upon by tion.” Pursuing this deprecatory tone, the an unanimous vote, and recorded in the declaration concludes by saying, that "secfollowing words:
tional interest and animosity will deepen
the irritation; and all hope of remedy is " An Ordinance to Dissolre the Union between the rendered vain' by the fact, that the public
State of South Carolina, and other States united with her under the compact entitled . The Con- opinion at the north has invested a great stitution of the United States of America.' political error with the sanction of a more “We, the people of the state of South Carolina, erroneous religious belief. We, therefore, in convention assembled, do declare and ordain, the people of South Carolina, by our deleand it is hereby declared and ordained, that the gates in convention assembled, appealing to ordinance adopted by us in contention on the 23rd the Supreme Judge of the world for
the day of May, in the year of our Lord, 1788, whereby the constitution of the United States of America rectitude of our intentions, have solemnly was ratified; and also all acts, and parts of acts, of declared that the union hitherto existing