Most people consider 1776 as the birth date of the United States. But, in a sense, perhaps 1783 could also be reckoned as America's birth date. Even though the U.S. declared her independence in 1776, she didn't actually win that independence until 1783 — seven years later! In 1783, Britain agreed at the Treaty of Paris to cede all territory east of the Mississippi, between Canada and the Florida territory, to the United States. Before that date, America didn't actually legally own one foot of territory. And had Britain put all her might behind the war effort, and had she had able ministers to execute the war, the U.S. might have lost the war, and might therefore never have become the legal inheritor of America.
Years of Phenomenal Growth
It took seventy years for America to acquire all of the territory which later became the contiguous forty-eight states. Our first territory was actually legally acquired in 1783 — when Britain ceded to America all the land east of the Mississippi, and our last territorial acquisition was from Mexico in 1853 — the "Gadsden Purchase." How did the straggling original Thirteen Colonies obtain all of the land in what is now continental United States, south of the 49th parallel? There is no other instance in history when any people acquired so much fertile, choice land in so short a time, were able to hang onto it and carve themselves out a nation. This history of America's phenomenal expansion, from thirteen struggling colonies along the eastern seaboard of the U.S to a continent — girdling nation, is a fascinating story. When the Revolutionary War began in 1776, the U.S. population was only about two and a half million — including one-half million African — descended slaves. But when the first official U.S. census was taken in 1790 (just fourteen years later) the U.S. population had soared to nearly four million! About 80% of the white population was British descended, with the remaining 20% being comprised of Germans, French, Dutch, Swiss and Scandinavians. What were the reasons for such a phenomenal growth in population? Firstly, Americans were prolific people — nearly all had large families — averaging about six children per family at that time. Secondly, many people, especially from Europe, continued to immigrate to America in hopes of religious and political freedom, and with a view to improving their economic fortunes.
A National Capital
The first Congress under the new Constitution assembled in New York City (its temporary capital) in the spring of 1789. On April 30, George Washington was inaugurated as the nation's first president. From 1790 to 1800, Philadelphia served as the second national capital. America now had a new, durable government, a Chief Executive, Congressmen and other governing officials. But she had no national city from which to govern — no permanent capital The decision was made to set aside a tract of land beside the beautiful Potomac River for the future site of the seat of the national government. But the U.S. capital was not completed enough to be used as a national capital until 1800during the administration of John Adams. It was named Washington after the "father of our country."
Rise of Political Parties
The rise of political parties began immediately — right during the presidency of George Washington. Washington and other leaders of the new nation hoped no political parties would arise. But the Federalist and the Democratic-Republican parties began taking shape in Washington's day. The Federalists rallied under the leadership of Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton and his Federalists believed in a strong central government. The merchants, manufacturers and other businessmen generally backed the Federalist party. The Democratic-Republican party believed strongly in state's rights, and they wanted to seethe national government kept as weak as possible commensurate with it being able to function properly. They were afraid of a too powerful central government. The members of the Democratic-Republican party rallied around their champion, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson looked upon the farmers as "God's chosen people." He, therefore, received the strong support from the farmers and planters. And we must remember that about ninety-five percent of all Americans lived on farms at the time. Washington tried to steer clear of political parties — thinking they were detrimental to good government. The Federalist Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton established a national mint and a system of coinage, and he also persuaded Congress of the necessity of passing a moderate tariff law to encourage U.S. manufacturing. The new Congress also placed an excise tax on distilled liquors, This caused a minor furor especially among some of the Scotch-Irish settlers in the western part of Pennsylvania. This was their main source of income. They did not intend to pay the whiskey tax. But Alexander Hamilton, a strong Federalist, persuaded Washington to callout 15,000 troops to put down the rebellion. Though very few were injured in the "Whiskey Rebellion," the U.S. government gained great prestige by acting firmly to support its claim to be able to tax Americans. America's first Congress under the new constitution adjourned in September 1789 — after first requesting the Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, to prepare a report on the public credit. The Continental Congress had been plagued by its inability to borrow money during and after the Revolutionary War. Since the old Continental Congress lacked the power to levy taxes, it also lacked the ability to pay its debts. And the nation's public debt in 1789 stood at the staggering sum of $56,000,000 — $12,000,000 of which was owed to foreign creditors. The Secretary of the Treasury proposed to redeem the public debt at its face value — even though much of the debt was in the hands of private speculators. But how could he accomplish this? Hamilton hit upon the brilliant idea of creating a bank which would be chartered by Congress, but would be owned jointly by private investors and by the federal government. This new bank (chartered in 1791) would have authority to issue bank notes, backed by gold and government bonds — which would be used to redeem the public debt, thereby providing the nation with an acceptable national currency. Through this means, the entire U.S. debt would be funded at a uniform rate of interest, and would be retired gradually through tax receipts. A bank of the United States operating in this fashion could restore the public credit to a position of trust, and worthless securities could be turned into fluid capital for developing the nation. Thus, the national debt became a national blessing. But there were many who distrusted Hamilton's scheme to establish a national bank of the United States. Even Washington was dubious. James Madison, an outspoken critic of the bank idea, had serious misgivings about the constitutionality of the bank. He argued that nowhere did the Constitution specifically empower Congress to charter a bank. Alexander Hamilton, however, argued that the authority to create a national bank was "implied" in the power to levy taxes, coin money, pay debts, etc. Thomas Jefferson also opposed Hamilton's plan — arguing that Congress should not exceed its expressly delegated powers. This controversy over the constitutionality _of creating a federal U.S. Bank, was one of several issues which helped to create political parties. Those who followed Hamilton's logic, felt the federal government was empowered to create the bank, and they became known as Federalists. Those who opposed this view were called "Republicans" — implying that their opponents believed in a monarchy instead of the, Republic. Both parties, however, believed in the new Republic and its republican form of government. They did violently disagree as to how much power could be, should be, or had been given to the federal government. This controversy continued for many years. In the end, Alexander Hamilton got his way. In 1791, the new Congress chartered the U.S. Bank for 20 years. The bank was given power to take care of the government's money, to issue bank notes to provide a solid currency, and it could also make loans to the government when needed. The Federalists rejoiced when Congress created the U.S. Bank, and so did the wealthy and powerful citizens who backed such an idea.
Clashing with Europe
During Washington's presidency, America had a difficult time in keeping out of Europe's squabbles. The President had advocated a policy of neutrality — keeping clear of foreign entanglements: "Tis our true policy," said Washington, "to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world." When France and Britain went to war in 1793, this resulted in divisions in the U.S. France had just helped America win her independence, and she hoped to have America's support against Britain. Thomas Jefferson had spent some years in France, as America's minister to France, and he sympathized with her, as did his followers, the Democratic-Republicans. But Alexander Hamilton and his followers, the Federalists, favored Britain. One other complicating factor was the fact that America and Britain still disputed their U.S. — Canadian boundary. And America didn't like Britain interfering with her shipping. Furthermore, Britain had refused to give up her forts in the Northwest Territory — as she had promised in the Treaty of Paris in 1783. President Washington, still trying to avert war with either Britain or France, dispatched John Jay to London to settle the Anglo-American disputes. Jay arrived at a settlement with the British called the Jay Treaty, by which Britain surrendered its western posts, and broadened her trading privileges toward America. Washington also sent his special commissioner (Thomas Pinckney) to Spain to complete another important agreement with that country. Pinckney signed a treaty with Spain by which she gave America unlimited use of the Mississippi River. It must be remembered that France had ceded the land west of the Mississippi to Spain in 1762. Spain therefore controlled the port of New Orleans, and consequently traffic on the Mississippi River. It was vital to America to have free use of the Mississippi for shipping' her cotton, sugar, lumber, furs, hides and other commodities to Europe.
When Washington refused a third term, John Adams was elected President of the United States. During Adam's administration, America experienced more troubles with Europe — France in particular. French ships captured American vessels, and for a time France and America carried on an undeclared naval war. But why the French hostility to America? It must be remembered that America and Britain had signed the Jay Treaty in 1794. France regarded this treaty as a virtual alliance between the U.S. and England. The Anglo-American Jay Treaty of 1794 also frightened Spain into signing the Treaty of San Lorenzo el Real in 1795 with the U.S. By this treaty, Spain adjusted the border of Spanish Florida, and she also permitted Americans to deposit their goods at the port of New Orleans, and then America could tranship them to Europe or to any part of the world. France became so annoyed at the U.S. that she broke off diplomatic relations. When John Adams became president, he immediately dispatched a three-man commission to Paris to negotiate the difficulties between the two countries. They were met in Paris by three agents who demanded a bribe before they would negotiate. The American commissioners flatly refused to offer any bribes and quickly returned home. News of this affair provoked much anti-French sentiment in America, and whipped up a strong wave of American patriotism. Congress severed relations with France in the spring of 1798, and authorized the capture of French vessels which were guilty of making raids on American ships. At the same time America took steps to enlarge the army, and recalled Washington, appointing him Commander-in-Chief of the American army. Alexander Hamilton was appointed as second-in-command to Washington. Fortunately, John Adams kept a cool head and refused to let the bellicose Hamiltonians push him into a war with France. The war with France was confined to a number of small naval engagements. In May 1800, President Adams dismissed all the war-mongering Hamiltonians from his cabinet, and appointed a new Secretary of State, John Marshall. Adams then negotiated a new peace treaty with France in 1800, and France and America terminated their old alliance of 1778. President John Adams considered his maintaining peace with France (after America had come so close to going to war with her) as his most signal accomplishment as president. But his peace treaty with France was unpopular in some circles in the U.S., and even caused a split in his own party which undoubtedly cost him the presidential election of 1800.
Jefferson Becomes President
In the presidential election of 1800, the Republicans chose Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr for their candidates for president and vice-president. They won the election, but a controversy arose over the question of who would be president and who would be the vice-president. Though Burr was clearly intended to be the vice-president by the electorate, he utterly refused to withdraw from the contest. It finally took thirty-six different ballots in the House of Representatives before the Jefferson-Burr deadlock was resolved — giving the presidency to Jefferson. Shortly after this mixup, Congress adopted (in 1804) the 12th Amendment, which was created to prevent a future presidential-vice-presidential deadlock. Even though Aaron Burr served out his term as Vice-president, he felt frustrated by Alexander Hamilton, who had thrown his weight against him in the presidential deadlock, and caused Jefferson to be made President. Burr deeply resented this.ï¿½ When Burr ran for Governor of New York and was defeated, again, through the influence of Alexander Hamilton's opposition to him, he became greatly agitated, and challenged Hamilton to a duel. Burr's single shot found its mark. Hamilton lay mortally wounded, and died the next day. Aaron Burr fled from justice — for he was soon charged with murder. Burr traveled into the western part of the U.S. and spoke to different leaders. He is said to have plotted' with James Wilkinson, the military governor of Louisiana since 1803, to invade Mexico. Other reports asserted he planned to set up a rival nation west of the Mississippi, and even traveled to France to enlist the aid of Napoleon in this endeavor. Burr was eventually captured, tried, and was acquitted on a technicality. The prosecution did not have two witnesses to attest to the fact of overt conspiracy. A strange, power-hungry, ambitious man, Burr continued plotting and scheming until his death. His own wife divorced him on the very day he died. Such was the miserable end of a man of great ambition, but lacking in the character trait of deep loyalty to his nation.
The Aura of Democracy
When Thomas Jefferson was elected president, he made a genuine attempt to give his administration the appearance of real democracy. During his inauguration, he walked to the Capitol, instead of being driven in a splendid carriage, drawn by six horses, as had George Washington on the day of his inauguration. And he had his annual presidential message sent to Congress by a messenger, rather than lecturing Congress (as kings in Britain had done to their Parliaments) by appearing In person. President Jefferson is noted for his nationalistic policies during his presidency. He stood for peace, democracy, states' rights, economy in government and he was also greatly interested in promoting agriculture. Jefferson believed government should be more alert to the voice of the common man. During his term in office he cut government expenses, reduced the navy, sought to avoid war, and finally managed to payoff much of the national debt.
The World's Greatest Bargain!
The U.S. purchase of Louisiana was the grandest monument of Jefferson's nationalism. Never in the history of the world did any nation purchase so much valuable land at so little a cost — less than four cents an acre! How did this valuable purchase come about? What were the conditions in America and in the world which led up to it? Why was France — like Esau selling his birthright blessings for a bowl of soup — willing to virtually give away this choice land?
Background to Louisiana Purchase
It is impossible to understand why the U.S. was able to purchase all of the Louisiana Territory without comprehending the political developments in Europe and the Americas which made this purchase possible. One must remember that French explorers had explored and claimed for France the whole Mississippi basin (between the Rocky and the Allegheny Mountains) in the 1600s and 17008.This vast Mississippi watershed area was named "Louisiana" after France's Sun King, Louis XIV. At the conclusion of the Seven Years' War, France ceded to Spain in 1762all of the Louisiana Territory west of the Mississippi, and in 1763 she gave all of her Louisiana lands east of the Mississippi to Great Britain. But when Napoleon Bonaparte became leader of France, old French nationalism was revived. On October 1, 1800, Napoleon persuaded a reluctant King Charles IV of Spain, to cede Louisiana back to France. The King of Spain gave his verbal assent to cede this land back to France on condition that she would never turn over Louisiana to a third party. This treaty of San Ildefonso, also known as the Treaty of Retrocession, gave France control of the Louisiana Territory, including the important port of New Orleans, as well as the strategically important mouth of the Mississippi River. It must be remembered that by the early 1800s many Americans had settled in the lands west of the Appalachians, and east of the Mississippi. In this rich land, farmers were producing flour, tobacco, hogs, butter, cheese, leather, furs, apples, salt, potatoes, cider, whiskey, grains, and lumber, and shipping these products down the Mississippi to New Orleans, from where they were shipped to Europe and the Caribbean. It was vitally important to these western farmers that the door of New Orleans be kept wide open to them — otherwise they would be strangled economically. In 1795, Spain agreed (by the treaty of San Lorenzo) to grant the United States the right to ship goods through the mouth of the Mississippi without paying any duty. Also, she granted the U.S. the right of deposit (or temporary storage) at New Orleans.
Closing the Door
But, what would happen if Spain closed this vital door to American goods? American fears were soon to be realized. In 1802,Spain revoked the right of deposit, creating much tension in the western part of the U.S. At the time, the governor of Mississippi territory warned the Secretary of State, James Madison: "The late act of the Spanish Government at New Orleans has excited considerable agitation in Natchez and its vicinity: — It has inflicted a severe wound upon the Agricultural and Commercial interests of this Territory, and must prove no less injurious to all the Western Country." Madison then warned Napoleon that Americans were not weak-kneed men, afraid to act. A war fever was exciting Americans to action over this important issue. At the time, Napoleon was planning to establish a New French Empire west of the Mississippi for the express purpose of counter-balancing the Anglo-Saxon empire to the east. While dreaming these dreams, he sent 35,000 of his best troops to Santo Domingo to subdue a rebellion which broke out in that French West Indian colony. But Napoleon's troops met with disaster. Many were decimated by yellow fever and by native guerrilla warfare. He lost about 24,000 of his soldiers. Napoleon had intended to subdue Santo Domingo and then send his troops to take possession of the Louisiana Territory, where he planned to establish firm French control Shortly after Jefferson became President in 1801 the U.S. minister in England, Rufus King, sent him word that Spain planned to give part of its American colonies back to France. The President knew France was ambitious, and he feared that Napoleon might interfere with the trade of the western provinces by refusing American vessels passage in the mouth of the Mississippi, effectively controlled by New Orleans. On orders from the President, the U.S. Secretary of State warned France that the U.S. fully expected to have an outlet to the sea. Then Robert Livingston was appointed minister to France, and sailed for that country in 1801 in order to open up negotiations. He was given instructions to hand to the French which stated in clear terms that the U.S. was not willing to see the American colonies of Spain transferred to any country except America.
Spain Cedes Louisiana to France
And in November 1801, the U.S. minister in England sent Jefferson a copy of the treaty in which Spain ceded Louisiana to France. Not knowing how much territory Spain had ceded to France, Jefferson instructed Livingston to prevent the cessation of Louisiana to France — if possible. If, however, it was too late to prevent this, the U.S. minister was to try and persuade the French to transfer the Floridas, (especially West Florida) to the U.S. Since New Orleans lay on the east side of the Mississippi, it would then automatically become U.S. territory, But Napoleon Bonaparte spurned Livingston's proposals. Next, President Jefferson instructed his friend, Pierre du Pont de Nemours, to carry certain dispatches to Livingston and to assist him in influencing the French government against gaining control of the American colonies. Du Pont was instructed: "...you may be able to impress on the government of France the inevitable consequences of their taking possession of Louisiana.... This measure will cost, and perhaps not very long hence, a war which will annihilate her on the ocean.... " Finally, du Pont was to warn France, that if she annexed Louisiana, the U.S. would ally itself with England against France.
Napoleon knew that war with Great Britain would shortly break out, and he was warned that America might seize Louisiana as soon as France became engaged in a European war, and he also knew that the — British navy might seize the territory. But what Napoleon feared most was an Anglo-American alliance. He knew that Britain had beaten France on the battlefield and on the high seas in her past wars. And he 'also knew that America (with some French aid) had humbled the British at Yorktown in the War of Independence. President Jefferson had already warned: "The day that France takes possession of New Orleans, we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation." What would these two nations be able to do together — if they united against Napoleon? The thought disquieted the French dictator. Napoleon was also told that the United States was seriously considering the possibility of sending 50,000 troops to seize New Orleans. And American newspapers at the time seemed to substantiate this. What could Napoleon do? Should he go ahead with his idea of establishing a French Empire in the Louisiana territory to counterbalance the Anglo-Saxons east of the Mississippi? If so, would this tie down so many of his troops in America that he would be unable to execute his military designs in Europe? And since he was bound to lock horns with Britain in his struggles in Europe, was it not better to decide on a course of action which would possibly prevent America joining with Britain? If France would sell all of Louisiana to America, might not this prevent the U.S. from joining with Britain? And would not this sale of Louisiana provide badly needed funds which Napoleon Bonaparte could use to help finance his European war? With these thoughts in mind, Napoleon notified the finance minister Francois de Barbe-Marbois, on April 10, 1803, to offer all of the Louisiana Territory to the U.S. for sale. President Jefferson had sent James Monroe to Paris as minister plenipotentiary, and 'he had instructed Monroe and Livingston to see if they could purchase either New Orleans or West Florida. Congress had voted $2 million which the two envoys, Monroe and Livingston, could use in the purchase of the east bank of the Mississippi (including the port of New Orleans). If France rejected this offer, they were to try to obtain at least the right of deposit at New Orleans. But no one dreamed that France was about to offer to sell all of the vast area of Louisiana. Napoleon was a man of action. Once he decided to sell all of Louisiana to America, his minister approached the U.S. minister, Livingston. "What would you give," said the French minister, "for the whole of Louisiana?" This unexpected offer staggered Livingston — who then blurted out that the U.S. would be willing to pay $4 million. This was rejected as much too low. James Monroe (as America's minister plenipotentiary) arrived in Paris shortly after this. Congress had already voted $2 million to be spent on the purchase of West Florida, and President Jefferson had privately counselled Monroe and Livingston to be willing to offer up to $9,375,000 for the port of New Orleans and the Floridas. But now that Napoleon had countered with an offer to sell them the entire Louisiana Territory, what were they to do?
Seizing a Golden Opportunity
Monroe and Livingston knew this was a golden opportunity which they must not pass up — regardless of their instruction, and regardless of the constitutionality of their being able legally to make such a purchase. The American and French ministers finally agreed on the purchase price — 60 million francs. For this vast Louisiana Territory, it was agreed that the U.S. would pay the ridiculously low sum of $11,250,000 outright. But America would also assume the claims of U.S. citizens against France to the amount of $3,750,000. The total amount would come to just about $15,000,000. What a pittance to pay for the vast territory ï¿½of 828,000 square miles (more than 500 million acres)! Out of this Louisiana Territory were carved part or all of thirteen states: All of Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and parts of Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana and Wyoming. Never in the history of the world has there been any bargain to equal in value or in size the Louisiana Purchase. The true value of this territory in today's value would be almost beyond calculation. The rich Mississippi valley area and the fertile Kansas-Nebraska-Iowa wheat and corn belt comprise a major part of the world's richest bread basket. When signing the final documents of the purchase, America's minister in Paris, Robert Livingston, is reported to have exclaimed: "We have lived long, but this is the noblest work of our whole lives. From this day the United States take their place among the powers of the first rank." And Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have remarked: "This accession of territory [by the U.S.] affirms forever the power of the United States, and I have just given England a maritime rival that sooner or later will lay low her pride."
Was the Purchase Legal?
Were the President of the U.S. and the American ministers in Paris legally authorized to make the purchase? Or was the purchase unconstitutional? President Jefferson was uncertain about what course of action to take to justify the Louisiana Purchase. The U.S. Constitution did not specifically authorize the acquisition of land. Jefferson, in the past, had professed to be a strict constitutionalist, and was fearful of a president or Congress assuming powers which were not specifically delegated to them. He had preferred to go according to the strict letter of the Constitution. But the Louisiana Purchase was too big a prize — too big a temptation — for him to turn down. He would have to find some way to justify his assuming power to authorize the U.S. ministers in France to make such a fantastic purchase. Though the U.S. Constitution did not specifically authorize the U.S. Presidents to purchase or acquire land, it did provide for the making of treaties. On this ground, Jefferson felt he could safely conclude that it was constitutional for the U.S. ministers to have made such a purchase. Even so, a President of the U.S. is not even supposed to conclude a treaty with a foreign nation without the "advice and consent of the Senate," and Jefferson did not profess to have been advised by the Senate, and neither had they consented to the purchase. Seemingly, it was an illegal act. President Jefferson, realizing he was treading on thin constitutional ice, relative to the legality of such a purchase, acknowledged that he had "stretched the constitution until it cracked."
Congress Ratifies Louisiana Purchase
Would the President be able to rally support for, and ratification of, the Louisiana Purchase? The U.S. and French ministers had signed the legal documents authorizing the purchase on May 2nd, 1803, but the actual treaty was dated April 30th. The treaty document didn't reach Washington until July 14, 1803. Jefferson admitted: "This treaty must of course be laid before both Houses.... They, I presume, will see their duty to their country in ratifying and paying for it... the Executive in seizing the fugitive occurrence which so much advances the good of their country, have done an
act beyond the Constitution.... It is the case of the guardian investing the money of his ward in purchasing an important adjacent territory, and saying to him when of age, I did this for your good." President Jefferson delivered a message to Congress on October 17, — 1803 in which he said: "Whilst the property and sovereignty of the Mississippi and its waters secure an independent outlet for the produce of the Western States and an uncontrolled navigation through their whole course... the fertility of the country, its climate and extent, promise in due season important aids to our Treasury, and an ample provision for our posterity, and a wide spread for the blessings of freedom and equal laws." The U.S. Congress ratified the treaty on October 25th, and the United States took formal possession of the territory on December 20, 1803.
What Had America Bought?
What was the extent of the Louisiana Purchase? In truth, no one (the French, the Spanish or the Americans) really knew the exact boundaries of the Purchase at the time the treaty was signed. According to the terms of the sale, the purchase included the colony or province of Louisiana which consisted of the "same extent" that it had under Spanish possession at the time the territory was ceded back to France in 1800,and it was comprised of the same territory as that which France had possessed prior to 1762, when France ceded the Louisiana Territory to Spain. This treaty specifically included all adjacent islands (including the vital Isle of Orleans) and "all public lots and squares, vacant lands and all public buildings, fortifications, barracks, and other edifices which are not private property." But the wording of the treaty was vague. The treaty failed to delineate the southwest boundary. Realizing the ambiguities of the treaty, Livingston is said to have later questioned Talleyrand (the French minister) on the exact boundaries. Talleyrand's reply: "I do not know. I can give you no direction; you have made a noble bargain for yourselves, and I suppose you will make the most of it." America was determined to make the most of her bargain. She disputed the boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase with Spain. Jefferson pointed out that as early as 1696France had possession of the Gulf Coast west of Mobile, and that in maps (published by the French government in 1755) the Perdido River was shown as the eastern boundary of France's possession. President Jefferson claimed that this land west of the Perdido River was part of the land which Spain had given back to France in 1800,and was, therefore, part of the purchase. In 1818 the U.S. and Britain agreed on the northern boundary of the Louisiana Purchase as being at the 49th parallel — west from the Lake of the Woods to the Rocky mountains. The U.S. and Spain finally settled their boundary disputes in 1819 when Spain sold America all of the Florida Territories, and America relinquished her claims to Texas. Spain and the U.S. also agreed on the western boundary of the Louisiana Purchase. It was finally settled that the western boundary would follow the Sabine River from the Gulf of Mexico to the parallel of 32ï¿½ N. Then it ran due north to the Red River, and followed it to 100ï¿½ W. From there it went north to the Arkansas River, and followed along this stream to its source and then followed a course (N. or S. — unknown at the time) to a parallel of 42ï¿½ N. From this point it was to follow a line due west to the Pacific Ocean. The eastern limit of the Louisiana Purchase was, for all practical purposes, the Mississippi River. This is how America came into possession of the world's richest, most fertile land — the breadbasket of the earth. From the time of the purchase of the Louisiana Territory onward, many Americans began to believe that some day they would possess all the land between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. It would be just a matter of time until, as Destiny had decreed, they would take formal possession of all this vast land.
Lewis and Clark Expedition
President Jefferson lost no time in opening up the newly purchased Louisiana Territory. This purchase had more than doubled the territory of the U.S. This new land would have to be explored and opened up to American settlers — which would soon begin streaming across the Mississippi to the Pacific West Coast. , In 1804, Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore the Louisiana Territory. And they were instructed to continue their explorations all the way to the Pacific. They journeyed up the Missouri River, and finally reached the Columbia River and journeyed down it all the way to the Pacific (1804-1806). Their explorations into the Pacific area gave the U.S. a basis for a claim to Oregon and the Pacific coast. Also, their explorations provided priceless geographical information. Within less than half a century, the Oregon territory would be ceded to the U.S. by Britain.
The War of 1812
James Madison was elected President in 1808.Under his presidency the U.S. drifted steadily into war with Great Britain. What brought about the second Anglo-American war? Britain and France were at war in the late 1700s and early 1800s; and since American ships continued trading with both countries, both Britain and France interfered with American shipping. But the main thing which galled Americans was the British practice of "impressment." American sailors (some were British born, and some were Americans by birth) were taken off American ships on the high seas and were forced to serve on British vessels. From 1804 to 1810 over 4,000 American sailors were impressed in this way. Furthermore, besides this Anglo-American maritime conflict, British officials were thought to have encouraged the Indians of the North... west territory to attack the Americans. They had at least supplied them with guns and ammunition. Various conflicts between the Americans and the Indians (armed and apparently incited by the British) ended with the Americans occupying more Indian territory — especially in Ohio and Indiana. In the part of America immediately east of the Mississippi, the war spirit was fueled primarily by the British-Indian "conspiracy." And in the South the planters complained of low cotton prices as a result of the British blockade. But much of the "war spirit" of the time was the result of a deep sense of nationalism — the idea that America must be willing to fight to preserve the independence and sovereignty which she had won from the British only a few decades earlier. American pride and honor had to be defended. The U.S. could not continue to let the British capture their sailors on the high seas and force them to serve in the British navy. A number of young "war hawks," such as John C. Calhoun and Henry Clay, prodded Congress into declaring war on Great Britain in June 1812. Though Congress was willing to declare war, they were not eager to do much to provide the finances for strengthening the army and the navy. Consequently the U.S. was badly prepared for the Anglo-American War of 1812when it came. What were U.S. objectives in the war? The U.S. hoped to take over Canada, to prevent the British from supplying the Indians with arms, or offering them encouragement. Also, America wanted to prove to Britain and to the world that she would not stand idly by and allow her sailors to be impressed by the Royal Navy. U.S. pride and prestige were at stake. The war itself was a misnomer. Nothing seemed to work out for either side. Militarily, the conflict proved futile for both sides. The U.S. suffered defeats both on land and at sea. Great Britain was able to effect a complete blockade of America, because of her vastly superior navy. But most humiliating of all, the British captured Washington, D.C., and burned the public buildings, in retaliation for similar American acts in Toronto! In the northern area of conflict, the British won several victories, and so did the U.S. Neither side won and held any strategic advantages in the other's territory, and as the war drew on it was obvious that a stalemate had been reached. Certainly, the U.S. had not really put her heart into equipping herself to fight the war to a victorious conclusion. And when the Napoleonic wars ended in Europe, Britain sent some of her veteran soldiers to Canada to assist in the fighting. This offset a growing U.S. advantage at a time when the Americans were about to get the upper hand. Britain made many demands at the meetings in Ghent, Belgium, thinking most of the trump cards were in her hands. But the Duke of Wellington, who had won a brilliant victory over Napoleon in Europe, advised the British peace negotiators at Ghent that the military situation in the Anglo-American conflict was not all that favorable to the British. And since the Americans refused to accept Britain's demands, it was finally agreed that Britain and America would return to the situation which had existed before the war (status quo ante bellum). On December 24, 1814 Britain and America signed a peace treaty at Ghent — officially ending the inconclusive war. The war had ended in a complete stalemate, and the U.S. gained none of her stated military objectives. But there was at least one salutary effect: With the end of the Napoleonic war in Europe, Britain ceased her vexatious policy of "impressment" of Americans into the Royal Navy. At least two war heroes emerged from the conflict. Oliver Hazard Perry had destroyed the British squadron on Lake Erie during the war and Andrew Jackson had won a brilliant victory over the British at New Orleans two weeks after the peace treaty had been signed. The young American nation had flexed its muscles, and was feeling a youthful surge of power.
"The Star-Spangled Banner"
During the War of 1812, when the redcoats retreated after burning Washington, they took William Beanes with them. Francis Scott Key received permission from President James Madison to intercede for Beanes. Accordingly, Key was sent to the British fleet in Chesapeake Bay to secure his friend's release. His friend had been captured after the defeat of the U.S. forces at Bladensburg, Maryland. In September, 1814, Key boarded a prisoner-exchange boat, and was subsequently detained on his ship during the shelling of Fort McHenry — one of the forts which successfully defended Baltimore during the War of 1812. While his boat was being held in temporary custody during the night of September 13-14,Key witnessed the British fleet's merciless bombardment of Fort McHenry. Francis Scott Key's anxiety was at high pitch as he witnessed the incessant bombardment during that awful night. Early the next morning, however, he joyously beheld the American flag still proudly flying over the fortress. It was this jubilant sight of "Old Glory" waving proudly over Ft. McHenry which inspired him to write "The Star-Spangled Banner." After being released that same day by the British, he turned the text of his poem over to a Baltimore printer, who borrowed the tune which now accompanies the anthem from a popular English drinking song, "To Anacreon in Heaven." This patriotic anthem soon became popular throughout the nation. Later, both the army and navy adopted "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the national anthem; but the United States Congress didn't officially adopt it as the national anthem until 1931. Key never really took his poetry seriously, though he wrote enough to fill a volume, Poems of the Late Francis S. Key, Esq. (1857).Much of Key's poetry was of a religious nature, and included the old hymn, "Lord, with Glowing Heart I'd Praise Thee." The author of "The Star-Spangled Banner" died on January 11,1843.
U.S. — British Accord
After the War of 1812,and after Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo in 1814, America and Britain entered a period of greater trust and closer commercial ties. James Monroe became America's fifth president (1817-1825).America was now more concerned with growth than with her internal politics and squabbles. There was so much domestic tranquility in the nation at the time that the period of his presidency became known as the "Era of Good Feeling." In 1818, the two nations agreed to a permanent boundary between the U.S. and Canada at the 49th parallel, beginning from the Lake of the Woods (on the north border of Minnesota) and extending west to the Continental Divide. Britain and America also amicably agreed to a joint occupation of the Oregon Territory west of the Rocky Mountains. This territory included parts of western America as well as western Canada. With France humbled in defeat in Europe, America did not have to worry about French interference in the continent. But the U.S. still had to concern herself with Spain, who owned the Floridas (east and west) and controlled most of the southwest portion of America. In 1818, a crisis was precipitated with Spain by a remarkable escapade of the hero of New Orleans, Andrew Jackson, the military commander of the Southern Department of the Army. General Andrew Jackson, in hot pursuit of Seminole Indians who had raided into Alabama, burst across the border into Spanish Florida. When the maurauding Indians sought protection in Spanish Florida, General Jackson stormed and captured Spanish forts at St. Marks and Pensacola. During this escapade, Jackson captured two British citizens who were trading with the Indians (presumably supplying them with munitions), tried them by court martial and executed them. Their execution provoked both the British and the Spanish. President Monroe promptly disavowed the military invasion of Florida by Jackson, and he also disapproved of Jackson's assumption of jurisdiction over British citizens on Spanish soil.
The Florida Purchase
But the Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, who was then conducting tedious negotiations with the Ambassador of Spain concerning the border between Louisiana and Texas saw this as a golden opportunity to be exploited. Adams sent a belligerent note to the Spanish in which he warned them to keep their Indians under strict control, or suffer the consequences. The consequences' being that General Jackson might just be unleashed on them again. Secretary Adams then concluded his note with an offer to purchase Florida from the Spanish. Spain seems to have recognized that Florida had become little more than a very expensive hostage to American expansionism. Spain, therefore, resolved to give up Florida (at a price) in exchange for a definite boundary in the West which would prevent any further invasions by rambunctious American frontiersmen. Adams countered by offering, on behalf of the U.S., to abandon all our claims to Texas in exchange for a line to the Pacific. Spain agreed, and the Adams-Onis Treaty (or Transcontinental Treaty) was signed by America and Spain in February 1819. America agreed to purchase Florida from Spain for $5 million. This treaty clearly defined the U.S. boundary in the west — from the mouth of the Sabine River, up the Red River of Texas, the l00th meridian, the Arkansas River, the Continental Divide, and then the boundary was to follow the 42nd parallel west to the Pacific Ocean. This Transcontinental Treaty with Spain greatly strengthened America's claims to the Pacific. Also, her acquisition of Florida consolidated American territory east of the Mississippi. The energetic nation was still bursting at the seams. Would her dynamic peoples, imbued with the spirit of adventure, exploration, and ever seeking new frontiers, be able to be contained within these limits of the United States? Not for long.
The Monroe Doctrine
Perhaps the most important foreign policy statement the U.S. ever made was given by President James Monroe. But one cannot understand his enunciation of American foreign policy without a grasp of political developments in Europe and in the Americas at the time when he enunciated his now-famous "Monroe Doctrine." After the defeat of Napoleon in 1814-1815, most of the Latin American colonies took advantage of the general turmoil in the mother countries in Europe, and sought their complete independence. By the year 1821, Mexico had won her independence, and most of the other Central and South American colonial territories had also gained their independence, and had either become republics, or were well on the way. the delicate Spanish-American negotiations in 1818 and 1819, American leaders felt they should tread softly in expressing their feelings toward Spain and her Spanish colonies in South and Central America. But after the United States purchased Florida in 1819 for $5million, her leaders felt they could speak their mind on the subject of European intervention in the western hemisphere. The United States recognized the republics in Mexico and other Latin American countries in the early 18208. Meanwhile, in Europe the nations of Russia, Austria and Prussia joined themselves in a "Holy Alliance" to protect and restore any or all of the monarchies of Europe which were endangered by the "virus of republicanism." They joined forces to "put an end to the system of representative government, in whatever country it may exist in Europe." After Napoleon's downfall in 1815, the monarchy was restored in Spain, and it appeared that the Holy Alliance might also try to restore Spanish authority in her American colonies in Central and South America as well. This prospect alarmed both Britain and America. For Britain had profited from trade with the former Spanish colonies once they broke away from Spain and became separate republics. The British Foreign Minister, George Canning, proposed that Great Britain and the U.S. issue a joint warning to European nations bent on aggression in the Americas. The idea of a joint Anglo-American alliance to oppose the "Holy Alliance" at first appealed to President Monroe. Ex-Presidents Madison and Jefferson endorsed the idea. Jefferson argued: [With Great Britain] "on our side, we need not fear the whole world." But President Monroe's influential Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, had a different, and presumably better, idea. He reasoned that the United States ought — not "come in as a cock-boat in the wake of the British man-of-war." He urged that the U.S. should make its own declaration. Regardless of whether America joined Britain in a joint declaration, Adams reasoned, Britain would surely use her sea power to prevent European intervention in the Americas. The U.S. would have the advantages of joint action, without entangling herself in a foreign alliance with Britain. Furthermore, he argued, if America made her own separate declaration, this would mean that such a policy declaration enunciated by the U.S. could apply to Great Britain, as well as to the other countries of Europe. President Monroe was persuaded by Adam's logic, and decided to make a foreign policy statement to this effect, when he spoke to Congress in his State of the Union message on December 30, 1823. In that message President Monroe explained that there were three points which America planned to follow. They were: 1) the U.S. would not intervene in strictly European affairs; 2) there should be no further European colonization in the Americas, or meddling in their affairs; and 3) Europe should not interfere in the political lives of the governments of the New World. These were strong words. In effect, the U.S. said she would in the future guarantee the sovereignty of all countries in the New World, and warned other nations to keep out! America was the new giant (the "Colossus to the North") in the Western Hemisphere who would be the sole arbiter in all their disputes. Though the U.S. was willing to tolerate any existing colonies in the New World, the U.S., according to President Monroe, would not tolerate the founding of any more colonies in either North or South America; and America would not allow the transfer of colonies from one European nation to another. Any European intervention in the New World would be looked upon as an unfriendly act. Here are President Monroe's own words, delivered in his annual message to Congress on December 2,1823:
We owe it to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers (Europeans) to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States....
President Monroe then went on to further expand this new foreign policy statement of the United States: "...It is impossible that the allied powers should extend their political system to any portion of either continent (North or South America) without endangering our peace and happiness.... It is equally impossible, therefore, that we should behold such interposition in any form with indifference.... It is still the true policy of the United States to leave the parties to themselves, in the hope that other powers will pursue the same course." This "Monroe Doctrine" reflected the thinking of a substantial and influential segment in the American political arena of the time. After its enunciation, the "Monroe Doctrine" became the cornerstone of American foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere. There was a certain amount of idealism embodied in this "Monroe Doctrine." The United States had thrown off what it considered to be the tyrannical yoke of British imperialism, and she had been able to stand on her own two feet and had prospered. It was hoped and believed that the new American republics which had recently declared themselves independent of their mother countries in Europe would also prosper if the European powers didn't meddle in their internal affairs. There were undoubtedly some selfish motives behind this new doctrine as well. The United States had come of age. (However, she was still not yet big and powerful enough to feel she could withstand the political or military pressures of the more powerful European nations — should they seek to interfere in the Western Hemisphere.) The nations of Central and South America had taken a leaf from — the American Book of Independence, and they had even patterned their republics, at least to a degree, after the pattern in the U.S. Constitution. America naturally hoped the Latin Americans would prove that the form of republican, democratic government which they had espoused would be able to survive and even thrive in Latin America. Presidents Polk and Teddy Roosevelt would later further amplify the "Monroe Doctrine" and apply it in real life situations in Central and South America and especially in the islands of the Caribbean.
The Russian Bear Enters California
Although it is generally known that Russia once owned Alaska, and sold this valuable property to the United States for a pittance a few
years after the Civil War, it isn't widely realized that the Russians had also penetrated far south of Alaska. They had, in fact, explored what is now western Canada, claiming the region for Russia, and had reached the west coast of California. By the late 1700s the Russian-American Fur Company had been established on the Aleutian Islands and on the coast of Alaska. These colonies yielded rich profits in furs, but they lacked the necessary trade connections by which to obtain vital items of food and other necessary supplies. For the solution to their problem, the Russians began to cast their eyes southward — looking to northern California where the warmer climate would make food production feasible. In 1806,Count Nikolai Rezanov, the Czar's chamberlain, sailed to San Francisco to seek negotiations with the Spanish officials. Rezanov well knew that the Spanish officials were forbidden to trade with foreigners. His trip to northern California was undoubtedly tainted with political ambitions for Russia. His ultimate purpose was to establish a Russian colony in the area north of San Francisco. His untimely death prevented his establishing a colony in California. But his friend and companion, Ivan A. Kuskov, was able to carry out Rezanov's plan. In 1809,Kuskov sailed from Sitka in Alaska down to Northern California in order to make temporary settlements. One was made at Salmon Creek Valley (about 6 miles inland) and another at Bodega Bay. The Russians sowed and in August they harvested a bountiful crop of wheat, and took the precious store and 2,000 otter skins with them hack to Alaska. In 1811,Kuskov again came to California as governor of the permanent settlements which Russia planned to establish in northern California. There is no proof that Kuskov went through any ceremony of taking formal possession of any territory on behalf of Russia, yet he did make settlements at Kuskov, in Salmon Creek Valley, and in 1812, at Fort Ross, 12miles north of the mouth of the Russian River. The Russians strengthened their settlements. Fort Ross was strongly fortified, and Russian flags flew over it and other forts in the area. Title to the surrounding territory had been obtained from the Indians who inhabited that region of California. All of the Russian settlements flourished, but it was Fort Ross which became the real center of Russian activities in northern California. The name Ross, selected from lots placed at the base of an image of Christ, was bestowed upon the settlement when it was dedicated on September 11,1812.It is an obsolete, poetical name for "Russians." It must be remembered that at the time of the dedication of Fort Ross in 1812, the Christian Russians were communicants of the Greek Orthodox Church. That explains why the name was "selected from lots placed at the base of an image of Christ." A considerable trade was carried on between the Russian settlements in northern California and their Spanish neighbors between 1810 and 1822. Though officially prohibited, the Spanish officials winked at this Russian-Spanish trade. Each wanted articles of trade which the other possessed. The Russians and Spaniards seem to have gotten along remarkably well during this period. But Spanish officials feared the Russian advance in northern California, and this seems to have spurred Spanish authorities into exploring and settling the regions north of San Francisco Bay, in what are now Marin, Sonoma and Solano counties.
America Warns the Russians
When President Monroe enunciated the "Monroe Doctrine" in December, 1823, the U.S. President was not only thinking about the newly liberated Spanish colonies in South and Central America. President Monroe undoubtedly also had in mind the growing threat of the spreading Russian colonies in North America when he announced the now-famous Monroe Doctrine. Fort Ross in Alta California presented a real challenge to future American expansion toward the Pacific-America's "manifest destiny." Fort Ross was highly fortified. It had high palisades, and was protected by cannon. (Some of them were said to 'have been left in Russia by Napoleon's retreating Grand Army in the winter of 1812). The palisades were built of heavy redwood timbers, and mounted with these cannon, and there were two blockhouses, surmounting the corners of the palisade facing the sea toward the southwest, and the land on the northeast corners. When Fort Ross was first dedicated in 1812, there were only about 100 Russians plus about 80 Aleuts. The Russian settlement never attained a population of more than 400. President Monroe's warning, given in 1823, seems to have helped the Russians decide to pack up and leave. Russia agreed, in 1824, to limit all future settlements to Alaska. Even so, the Russians continued in the Fort Ross area nearly 20 more years. In 1829 the Russians received official orders from Russia for their complete withdrawal from all colonies in California. By that time nearly all the sea otter had been exterminated by the Russians. This left the farming community as the only going operation in the settlements. In 1841, the Russians sold their entire properties in the area to Johann August Sutter of New Helvetia (Sacramento) for $30,000, and returned to Alaska.
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams served as America's next President (1825-1829). The years of his presidency proved to be uneventful. Adams believed in a strong national government, proposed certain 'internal improvements, and also advocated a stronger U.S. navy. But he did not distinguish himself as a strong president. However, he had been a very good secretary of state.
Hero of New Orleans
Flamboyant, Andrew Jackson became America's next President (1829-1837). Jackson was a very decisive man. He did not believe in compromise. He had been — the hero of the battle of New Orleans in the War — of 1812,and had also taught the Seminoles and the Spanish a lesson by chasing the Indians from Alabama back into Spanish Florida. Jackson's slogan, "Let the People Rule," expressed the mood of the people whom, he represented. It is said that when he moved into the White House, that all of his backwoods friends, relatives and acquaintances flocked to the nation's capital. And they are even said to have scarred the White House furniture with their boots in their wild celebrations along with their hero. It was during Jackson's presidency that a serious challenge to the national government occurred. In 1828, Congress voted tariff duties in a bill which was supported by many of the states outside the South. The Southerners opposed this "Tariff of Abominations" because they considered it injurious to, their economy. South Carolina's fiery John C. Calhoun strongly asserted that each state had the right to nullify, or totally abolish, the law within its own state. But there were many who didn't believe that individual states had the right or power, according to the U.S. Constitution, to nullify federal laws within their own states. One of the champions of the federal power over the states was Daniel Webster. He was a powerful orator, and is said to have looked and spoken like God. Webster argued powerfully that the national government had full sovereign powers in the area of tariffs and other fields, and that any act that weakened the Union was a high crime against the American Republic. The North was accused of trying to dominate the South, and the Southerners were especially apprehensive that the North might try to interfere with (or even abolish) their "peculiar institution of slavery." John C. Calhoun became the chief exponent of the "states' rights" theory of the Constitution. This theory, within a few more decades,
would be responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of American lives in the bitter Civil War. In 1828, Calhoun stated his views in a document known as the South Carolina Exposition. According to the "states' rights" theory, the U.S. Constitution was simply an agreement between the different states, and each state had the right to determine when it felt the federal government was overstepping its powers. If a state believed the Federal government was exceeding its powers, then it could "annul" or "nullify" the law which it felt was unconstitutional. In effect this would make the states supreme, and would mean that the Supreme Court would not be the final arbiter in interpreting the Constitution and all U.S. laws. Furthermore, argued Calhoun, in addition to the right of "nullification," each state had the inherent right to withdraw from the Union. Each state had the right of "secession." But this was dangerous stuff. If each state had the right to "secede" at will, there could never be any guarantee that the Union could be preserved. There would always be the ever present danger that a dissenting state would simply withdraw from the Union at will. And such a policy could and would seriously disrupt the union. It would disturb the domestic tranquility of the nation — and could in fact, lead to serious differences and to outright war. This is actually what later happened in 1860 and 1861 when a number of states seceded from the Union and formed a separate Confederacy. In the famous Webster-Hayne Debate of 1830, Webster refuted Hayne's view that the Constitution was merely an agreement between the states which each state could break when it so willed. Daniel Webster maintained that the Union was made, not by the separate states, but by the people; therefore, no state had the legal right to secede. What would secession of the individual states mean? It would mean that the Union would be wrecked beyond repair, and this, argued Webster, would mean "a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched it may be in fraternal blood." Webster's final words during the debate underline the main theme of his speech: "Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and in-separable."
Preserving the Union
John C. Calhoun was the Vice-President at the time. He gave Jackson a birthday banquet, and he hoped Jackson would come out in favor of his states' rights views. But when Jackson was called upon to propose a toast, he rose, looked directly at Calhoun, and proposed: "Our Federal Union — it must be preserved." In 1832,Henry Clay introduced a new tariff bill into Congress. This bill abolished some of the worst features of the Tariff of Abominations, but it still left high duties on imported manufactured goods. It was then that a special convention in South Carolina passed what was called the "Ordinance of Nullification." This ordinance stated that the new tariff was not to be law, and any duties which it imposed were not to be collected in South Carolina. It also declared that if the federal government tried to collect them, the state would simply leave the Union. This was open defiance of the law! President Jackson gave a vigorous reply to this defiant act. He proclaimed that the whole idea of nullification was wrong, and he warned the people of South Carolina that, if need be, he was fully determined to send troops into their state to preserve the Union. President Jackson promised to hang Calhoun if he led South Carolina into seceding from the Union. Fortunately a head-on collision between federal and state authority was avoided. For in 1833a new U.S. tariff act was passed which provided for a gradual reduction of all rates of duties. South Carolina then repealed her Ordinance of Nullification, and the secession crisis was over — at least for the present. But the idea of the states' right to secede from the Union at any time they chose, and do their own thing had been planted firmly in the minds of many Southerners. This same issue would soon raise its ugly head again and result in the biggest fraternal bloodletting which this Union had ever experienced. For the time being, however, the storm had abated, and the U.S. would have almost thirty years of comparative domestic tranquility before the full fury of the secession issue would spillover into the ugly Civil. War — a bloody war in which brother fought brother to prove whether or not the states had the right to secede from the Union. President Jackson believed that the opposition to the federally imposed tariff was merely an excuse for nullification. He stated, with uncanny gift of prophecy, that the real object of Calhoun and his followers was secession, and then, with uncanny foresight, he predicted that the "next pretext will be the negro, or slavery, question."
Jackson's Policy Toward the Indians
President Andrew Jackson was what many would describe as a man's man. He was tough as boot leather. "Old Hickory," as he was called, had been through many hardships during his life. His father died when he was two years old. At thirteen, Andrew became a soldier, was captured in a skirmish, and was scarred for life by a fierce saber blow from a British officer. At fourteen Jackson was an 'orphan — with no surviving brothers or sisters. He studied law, and finally became a country judge. Much of Jackson's life, however, was spent protecting new settlements in Mississippi and Florida from Indian attacks. He learned to be wary of the Indians, for, on more than one occasion, he had seen what savage Indian tribes had done. He and his companions had learned to take their rest back to back with their rifles cocked, ready for action, just in case they should be attacked by the Indians. His natural distrust and suspicion of the red men was only inflamed by finding in their possession British-made rifles which had killed his men. Britain's alliance with the Indians in the short War of 1812only hardened his feelings both toward the British and the Indians. When Andrew Jackson became President, he decided to take care of the "Indian problem" east of the Mississippi once and for all. In 1830, the states of Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama outlawed the tribal kingdoms of the Indians, and President Jackson ram-rodded a bill through Congress ordering all Indian tribes, whether hunters or farmers, peaceable or warlike, to be moved west of the Mississippi. The Chocktaws, Creeks, Chickasaws and Cherokees were all to be moved out west to reservations. Their Indian chiefs appealed to the Supreme Court, then presided, over by John Marshall. Marshall upheld their claim, that there was no constitutional right to remove them from their native lands. But President Jackson merely called his decision "too preposterous" and continued to see that they were moved across the Mississippi. He simply ignored the Supreme Court decision and ordered the U.S. Army to "get them out." The removal of many thousands of Indians from their eastern ancestral lands to reservations in the west was a traumatic experience. Thirty thousand Cherokees trod this "trail of tears" and were coaxed, or if reluctant, were chained and driven as far west as Oklahoma. Along the way, a quarter of them died. Before passing too severe judgment on this Presidential decision to have the Indians removed, it might be well to reflect on what prompted it. There had been distrust, suspicion and bloodshed between the Indian tribes and the white settlers ever since Jamestown was settled in 1607.Andrew Jackson himself had had to drive back marauding Indian tribes from white settlements, and had seen the death, the destruction and anguish which followed in the wake of savage Indian attacks. Even though his act of removing the Indian tribes to the west of the Mississippi was judged to have been unconstitutional, yet it may have saved much bloodshed and suffering in the long run. In his book, The American People, Bernard A. Weisberger makes this significant statement regarding the treatment of the "red man" by the white European settlers of North America: "When the Israelites found their way into the Promised Land, their program for dealing with the local inhabitants was simple and approved by God. They slew the natives or drove them from the choicest spots. The European settlers — in America applied something of the same human-relations technique to the 'inferior' Indians, but when they dealt with white predecessors they did not consider that they had such an option — at least, not often...." It has been argued that when — the Indians were put securely on reservations, there was much less friction, bloodshed and strife between them and the white settlers than before. No one, however, will defend the many injustices which were inflicted upon the Indians. Broken treaties, cruel and inhuman treatment, deprivation of land, changing reservations — these were all too common in our early history.