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Such a bill failed, but it
became a law in 1840. Congress, however, obtained temporary relief by
authorizing the issue of $10,000,000 in treasury notes.

The fact remained, however, that the country was rich, and though much
distress prevailed, the financial stress began to lessen as more healthy
methods of business were adopted. In 1838 most of the banks resumed
specie payments, but the effect of the panic was felt for years. Since
the distress occurred while Van Buren was President, the blame was
placed by many upon the administration.

At that time the present Dominion of Canada was divided into two
provinces, known as Upper and Lower Canada. Dissatisfaction with some of
the features of Great Britain's rule caused a rebellion in Lower Canada
in 1837. Much sympathy was felt for them in this country, and especially
in New York, from which a force of 700 men seized and fortified Navy
Island, in Niagara River. There were plenty of loyalists in Canada, who
made an attempt to capture the place, but failed. On the night of
December 29, 1837, they impetuously attacked the supply steamer
_Caroline_, killed twelve of the defenders, set the boat on fire, and
sent it over Niagara Falls.

President Van Buren issued a proclamation forbidding all interference in
the affairs of Canada, and General Wool was sent to the frontier with a
military force strong enough to compel obedience. He obliged the
insurgents on Navy Island to surrender and pledge themselves to refrain
from all unlawful acts. These vigorous measures soon brought quiet to
the border, and England's wise policy toward the disaffected provinces
has made Canada one of her most loyal provinces.

The population of the United States in 1840 was 17,649,453, further
evidence of the real prosperity of the country. Railroad building went
on vigorously, there being fully 4,000 miles in operation at the close
of Van Buren's term.


PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1840.

The following was the presidential vote of 1840: William Henry Harrison,
of Ohio, Whig, 234; Martin Van Buren, 70. For Vice-President, John
Tyler, 234; E.M. Johnson, 48; L.W. Tazewell, of Virginia, Democrat, 11;
James K. Polk, of Tennessee, Democrat, 1.


WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON.

[Illustration: WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON. (1773-1841.) One month, 1841.]

William Henry Harrison, ninth President, was born February 9, 1773, in
Virginia, and was the son of Benjamin Harrison, a signer of the
Declaration of Independence, and afterward governor of Virginia. The son
graduated from Hampden-Sidney College, and took up the study of
medicine, but was fond of military matters, and, entering the army of
St. Clair, he displayed great bravery and skill. He helped General Wayne
win his victory over the Indians in 1794, and was rapidly promoted. He
became secretary of the Northwest Territory in 1798, and the following
year was made delegate to Congress. In 1800, he was appointed governor
of Indiana Territory, and was acting as such when he won his decisive
victory at Tippecanoe, in the autumn of 1811. An account has been given
of his brilliant services in the War of 1812.

He attained the rank of major-general in the regular army, but resigned
in 1814. He was congressman from 1816 to 1819, United States senator
from 1825 to 1828, and United States minister to the United States of
Columbia, 1828-29.

President Harrison wore no hat or overcoat while delivering his
inaugural. Although accustomed to the hardships of the frontier, and
naturally one of the most rugged of men, he was now old and weak in
body. His imprudence, added to the annoyance from the clamorous
office-seekers, drove him frantic. He succumbed to pneumonia and died on
the 4th of April, just one month after his inauguration. He was the
first President to die in office, and an immense concourse attended his
funeral, his remains being interred near North Bend, Ohio.


JOHN TYLER.

As provided by the Constitution, the Vice-President, John Tyler, was
immediately sworn into office as his successor. Like many of his
predecessors, John Tyler was a native of Virginia, where he was born
March 29, 1790. He possessed great natural ability and was a practicing
lawyer at the age of nineteen, and a member of the State Legislature at
twenty-one. When thirty-five, he was chosen governor of Virginia, and
was a United States senator from 1827 to 1836.

Since he was the first President not elected to the office, there was
considerable discussion among the politicians as to his precise
_status_. It was contended by some that he was chief executive "in
trust," and was therefore bound to carry out the policy of his immediate
predecessor. Tyler insisted that he was as much the President, in every
respect, as if he had been elected by the people to that office, and in
this insistence he was unquestionably right.

Tyler quickly involved himself in trouble with the Whigs. They passed an
act to re-establish the United States Bank, whose charter expired in
1836, though it had continued in operation under the authority of the
State of Pennsylvania. President Tyler vetoed the bill. He suggested
some modifications, and it was passed again, but to the indignant
amazement of his party he vetoed it a second time. He was declared a
traitor and widely denounced. All his cabinet resigned, with the
exception of Daniel Webster, who, as stated elsewhere, remained until
1843, in order to complete an important treaty with England then under
negotiation.


THE WEBSTER-ASHBURTON TREATY.

This was known as the Webster-Ashburton Treaty. Our northeastern
boundary was loosely defined by the treaty of 1783, and it was finally
agreed by Great Britain and the United States to refer the questions in
dispute to three commissions to be jointly constituted by the two
countries. The first of these awarded the islands in Passamaquoddy Bay
to the United States; the third established the boundary line from the
intersection of the forty-fifth parallel with the St. Lawrence to the
western point of Lake Huron. It remained for the second commission to
determine the boundary from the Atlantic to the St. Lawrence. The
question was a bone of contention for many years, and at last was
referred to Daniel Webster and Lord Ashburton. These two gentlemen met
in a spirit of fairness, calmly discussed the matter, and without the
slightest friction reached an agreement, which was signed August 9,
1842, and confirmed by the Senate.


CIVIL WAR IN RHODE ISLAND.

Rhode Island had been governed down to 1842 by the charter received from
Charles II., in 1663. This charter permitted only the owners of a
certain amount of property to vote. Dissatisfaction gradually grew until
1842, when two political parties were formed in the little State, one
favoring a new constitution and the other clinging to the old. The
former carried the Legislature, after adopting a State constitution, and
elected Thomas W. Dorr governor. Their opponents elected Samuel W. King,
and both placed armed forces in the field. When civil war was imminent,
the national government interfered and Dorr's forces were dispersed
without bloodshed. Dorr was arrested, and on his trial found guilty of
treason. He was sentenced to imprisonment for life, but offered liberty
on condition of taking the oath of allegiance. He refused, and, in June,
1845, was unconditionally released. Meanwhile, the general
dissatisfaction with the colonial charter led to the calling of a
convention, which adopted a new constitution, that went into effect in
May, 1843.

[Illustration: JOHN TYLER. (1790-1862.) One partial term, 1841-1845.]


THE ANTI-RENT WAR IN NEW YORK.

It has been shown that when the Dutch were the owners of New York State
many of them took possession of immense tracts of lands, over which they
ruled like the feudal lords in ancient England. These grants and
privileges were inherited by their descendants and were not affected by
the Revolution. Among the wealthiest patroons were the Van Rensselaers,
whose estates included most of Albany and Rensselaer Counties. Stephen
Van Rensselaer was easy-going and so wealthy that he did not take the
trouble to collect the rents due from his numerous tenants, who, at his
death, in 1840, owed him nearly a quarter of a million of dollars. His
heirs determined to collect this amount and set vigorous measures on
foot to do so. The tenants resisted, furious fights took place, and the
military were called out, but the tenants remained resolute in refusing
to pay rent. The disturbances continued and were known as "The Anti-Rent
War." The eastern towns of Rensselaer County and the Livingston manor of
Columbia County were soon in a state of insurrection, and many outrages
were committed. In Delaware County, while a deputy-sheriff was trying to
perform his duty he was killed. The civil authorities were powerless to
suppress the revolt, and, in 1846, the governor declared the County of
Delaware in a state of insurrection, and called out the military. They
arrested the ringleaders, and the murderers of the deputy-sheriff were
sentenced to imprisonment for life. Conciliatory measures followed, most
of the patroon lands were sold to the tenants, and the great estates
gradually passed out of existence.


A SHOCKING ACCIDENT.

A shocking accident occurred on the 28th of February, 1844. Mr. Upshur,
secretary of State, Mr. Gilmer, secretary of the navy, and a number of
distinguished ladies and gentlemen were taken on an excursion down the
Potomac, by Commodore Stockton, on the steamer _Princeton_. For the
entertainment of his guests, the commodore ordered the firing of an
immense new gun that had been placed on board a short time before. It
had been discharged several times, and, upon what was intended and
indeed proved to be the last discharge, it exploded, killing Mr. Upshur,
Mr. Gilmer, Commodore Kennon, Virgil Maxey, lately minister to The
Hague, and several of the visitors, besides wounding seventeen sailors,
some of whom died. Although Commodore Stockton lived many years
afterward, he never fully recovered from the shock. The accident cast a
gloom throughout the whole country.


ADMISSION OF FLORIDA.

One State, Florida, was admitted to the Union during Tyler's
administration.



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