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In college, he was an awkward,
freckle-faced, sandy haired youth, who, but for his superior mental
attainments, would have commanded little respect. Except for his
fondness for hunting and horseback riding, he never could have acquired
the physique which allowed him to spend ten, twelve, and sixteen hours
of every twenty-four in hard study.

[Illustration: THOMAS JEFFERSON.

(1743-1826.) Two terms, 1801-1809.]

Jefferson was undoubtedly the most learned of all our Presidents. He was
not only a fine mathematician, but a master of Latin, Greek, French,
Spanish, and Italian. He was an exquisite performer on the violin, and
it was said of him, by one of the most noted European musicians, that he
never heard an amateur play the king of instruments as well as the slim
Virginian.

Jefferson married a wealthy lady and named his attractive home
Monticello. His great ability caused his election to the Virginia
Legislature while a young man, and he was soon afterward sent to
Congress. Lacking the gifts of oratory, he had no superior as a writer
of fine, classical, forceful English. Among the many excellent laws he
secured for Virginia was the separation of Church and State. He was the
author of a parliamentary manual for the government of the United States
Senate, which is still an authority, and of our present system of
decimal currency; but the reader does not need to be reminded that his
fame will go down to posterity chiefly as the writer of the Declaration
of Independence; but Jefferson felt almost equally proud of the fact
that he was founder of the University of Virginia, which, abandoning the
old system, introduced the "free system of independent schools." He also
proposed for his State a comprehensive system of free public schools.

Although wealthy, he went almost to the extreme of simplicity. His dress
was as plain as that of the Quakers; he wore leathern shoestrings
instead of the fashionable silver buckles; and strove to keep his
birthday a secret, because some of his friends wished to celebrate it.
He was opposed to all pomp, ceremony, and titles. He is universally
regarded as the founder of the Democracy of the present day, and was
undeniably one of the greatest Presidents we have had.


WELCOME LEGISLATION.

The administration of Jefferson proved among the most important in the
history of our country. Congress promptly abolished the tax on distilled
spirits and a number of other manufactures, a step which enabled the
President to dismiss a large number of revenue collectors, whose
unwelcome duties had entailed considerable expense upon the country. The
obnoxious Sedition Law was repealed, and the Alien Law so modified that
it was shorn of its disagreeable features.


ADMISSION OF OHIO.

In the year 1800, a line was run through the Northwest Territory from
the mouth of the Great Miami to Fort Recovery and thence to Canada.
Three years afterward, the territory thus defined was admitted to the
Union as the State of Ohio. The Indiana Territory included the portion
west of the line named, with Vincennes as the capital. The Mississippi
Territory was organized so as to extend from the western boundaries of
Georgia to the Mississippi.

The punishment administered to France in 1798 naturally gave that
country a respect for the United States, and in 1802 our relations with
her became quite friendly. Bonaparte, having established a truce with
the nations around him, found time to give some attention to the
American republic. He seemed to believe he could establish a French
colonial empire, not only in the West Indies, but in the immense
province of Louisiana. Had Bonaparte succeeded, he would have acquired
control of the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico. Nothing would have
pleased England more than to see so serious a check placed upon our
growth, and nothing would have displeased our countrymen more than to be
shut off from the Father of Waters and the right to emigrate westward.
They were ready to go to war before submitting to such deprivation.


PURCHASE OF LOUISIANA.

No one was more keenly alive to the situation than Jefferson. He
carefully instructed our envoy at Paris to make the strongest possible
representations to the French ruler of the grave mistake of the course
he had in mind, which must inevitably result in an alliance with Great
Britain in sweeping France from the seas and driving her from the West
Indies. Bonaparte was too wise not to perceive that this was no empty
threat, and that his visionary French empire in the West would prove an
element of weakness rather than strength. Nothing was plainer than the
truth that the stronger the United States became, the more dangerous
would it be for his traditional enemy, England. He, therefore, proposed
to sell Louisiana to the United States.

This was the very thing for which Jefferson had been skillfully working
from the first. The bargain was speedily completed. On April 30, 1803,
Louisiana came into our possession for the sum of $11,250,000, we
agreeing at the same time to pay certain debts due from France to
American citizens, amounting to $3,750,000, so that the total cost of
Louisiana was $15,000,000.

It must not be forgotten that the Territory of Louisiana, as purchased
by us, was vastly more extensive than is the present State of that name.
It included the area from which have been carved the States of
Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, the Dakotas,
Montana, part of Kansas, Wyoming and Colorado, and the Territory of
Oklahoma, the whole area being 1,171,931 square miles, as against
827,844, which was all the territory occupied previous to 1803.
Peaceable possession was taken on the 20th of December following. The
governorship of the Territory was offered to Lafayette, and declined by
him, but he received a grant of 12,000 acres within its limits.


SLAVE TRADE ABOLISHED.

At the time of the adoption of the Constitution, it was agreed that the
slave trade should be permitted for twenty years. It was abolished,
therefore, in 1808, and the penalty for engaging in it was made
punishable with death. At the time of the purchase of Louisiana, it was
believed that it included Texas, but the United States gave up this
claim in 1819 to Spain in return for the cession of Florida.

It seems incredible, but it was true, that for twenty years we had been
paying a large tribute to Algiers on condition that she would not molest
our commerce. Other nations did the same, because it was more convenient
than keeping a navy in those far-off waters. A treaty with Morocco had
been signed, in 1787, under which we also paid her tribute. The people
of the Barbary States naturally waxed insolent, and when we were slow in
sending our tribute they imposed a heavy penalty, which we meekly paid.


WAR WITH TRIPOLI.

One of the most disgusted men was Captain William Bainbridge, when
obliged to carry the tribute in 1800 to the Dey of Algiers, who informed
him that the Americans were his slaves, and must do as he ordered. The
indignant officer expressed the hope that the next tribute he delivered
would be from the mouths of his cannon. The following year the ruler of
Tripoli became ruffled because we did not send him as much tribute as he
thought he was entitled to, and actually declared war against us.

The flurry of 1798 with France had caused a considerable increase in our
navy, which was furnished with plenty of daring officers, who afterward
made names for themselves. They eagerly welcomed a war of that nature
which of necessity was a naval one. The operations were confined to the
Mediterranean, on whose shore are the Barbary States.

The first real fight took place in August, 1801, between the
_Enterprise_, a vessel of twelve guns, and a Tripolitan vessel of
fourteen guns. It occurred off Malta, and lasted for two hours, when the
Tripolitan hauled down his flag. Thereupon the Americans left their guns
and were cheering, when the enemy treacherously fired a broadside into
the _Enterprise_. Nothing loth, Lieutenant Sterrett renewed the battle
with such vigor that in a few minutes the flag was lowered a second
time, only to renew the fighting when the enemy saw an advantage.

Thoroughly exasperated, Lieutenant Sterrett now determined to complete
the business. The vessel was raked fore and aft, the mizzen-mast torn
away, the hull knocked to splinters, and fifty men killed and wounded.
Then the American officer caught sight of the captain leaping up and
down on the deck, shrieking and flinging his arms about, as evidence
that he was ready to surrender in earnest. He threw his own flag
overboard, but Lieutenant Sterrett demanded that his arms and ammunition
should follow, the remainder of the masts cut away, and the ship
dismantled. That being done, Sterrett allowed him to rig a jury mast and
told him to carry his compliments to the Dey.

The war against the Tripolitans was very similar to that against the
Spaniards in 1898. The _Enterprise_ had not lost a man, although the
Americans inflicted severe loss on the enemy. In July, 1802, the
_Constellation_, in a fight with nine Tripolitan gunboats, drove five
ashore, the rest escaping by fleeing into the harbor. More than once a
Tripolitan vessel was destroyed, with all on board, without the loss of
a man on our side.

But the war was not to be brought to a close without an American
disaster. In 1803 the fine frigate _Philadelphia_, while chasing a
blockade-runner, ran upon a reef in the harbor of Tripoli, and, being
helpless, a fleet of the enemy's gunboats swarmed around her and
compelled Captain Bainbridge and his crew to surrender. The frigate was
floated off at high tide and the enemy refitted her.


A GALLANT EXPLOIT.

One night in February, 1804, the _Intrepid_, a small vessel under the
command of Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, one of the bravest of American
naval officers, approached the _Philadelphia_, as she lay at anchor,
and, being hailed, replied, through a native whom he had impressed into
service, that he was a merchantman who had lost his anchors. The
Tripolitans allowed the vessel to come alongside without any suspicion
on their part.



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