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The accident cast a
gloom throughout the whole country.


ADMISSION OF FLORIDA.

One State, Florida, was admitted to the Union during Tyler's
administration. Its early history has been given, it having been bought
from Spain in 1819. It was made a State in 1845.

Texas now became a subject of national interest. Although the United
States made claim to it as a part of the Louisiana purchase, the claim
was abandoned in 1819, when Florida came into our possession. In 1821, a
colony of Americans formed a settlement in Mexican territory, encouraged
to do so by the home government. Others emigrated thither, among whom
were many restless adventurers and desperate men. By-and-by they began
talking of wresting Texas from Mexico and transferring it to the United
States. There is little doubt that in this design they received
encouragement from many men holding high places in the United States.


THE TEXAS REVOLUTION.

The ferment in Texas increased, and, on the 2d of March, 1836, a
convention declared Texas independent. Santa Anna, president of the
Mexican Republic, crossed the Rio Grande with a large force and advanced
to San Antonio, where less than 200 Texans had taken refuge in a
mission-house known as the Alamo, with their flag, consisting of a
single star, floating defiantly above it. In this body of fearless men
were the eccentric Davy Crockett, formerly congressman from Tennessee;
the Bowie brothers, one of whom was the inventor of the Bowie knife;
Colonel Travis, and others as dauntless as they. They had several rifles
apiece, and maintained a spirited defense, night and day, for ten days,
under the incessant attacks of the Mexicans. Finally, when the brave
band was reduced to less than a dozen, they surrendered under the
promise that their lives would be spared. Santa Anna caused the massacre
of every one.

"Remember the Alamo!" became the war-cry of the Texans, and, in the
following month, under the command of Sam Houston, they virtually
destroyed the Mexican army and took Santa Anna prisoner. Houston was
more merciful to him than he had been to the Alamo prisoners, and
protected him from the vengeance of the soldiers. He was very glad to
sign a treaty acknowledging the independence of Texas.

The Mexican government, however, repudiated the action of its president,
and a guerrilla warfare was waged by both sides for several years
without any progress being made in the conquest of the province. Texas
organized itself into an independent republic, elected Sam Houston
president, and secured recognition from the United States, England, and
several European governments. While making no organized effort to
conquer Texas, Mexico insisted that the province was her own.


ADMISSION OF TEXAS.

One of the first steps of Texas, after declaring her independence, was
to apply for admission into the Union. There was great opposition in the
North because its admission would add an enormous slave area to our
country. For the same reason the South clamored that it should be made
a State. Calhoun, who succeeded Upshur as secretary of State, in March,
1844, put forth every effort to bring Texas into the Union. Clay's
opposition lost him the support of the South in his presidential
aspirations. President Tyler, who favored its admission, made an
annexation treaty with Texas, but the Senate refused to ratify it. Then
a joint resolution was introduced, and, after a hot discussion, was
passed with the proviso that the incoming President might act, if he
preferred, by treaty. The resolution was adopted March 1, 1845, by the
Senate, three days before the close of President Tyler's term. Calhoun
instantly dispatched a messenger to Texas with orders to travel with the
utmost haste that the new State might be brought in under the
resolution. President Tyler immediately signed the bill, and the
"Lone-Star" State became a member of the Union. On the last day but one
of the close of his term he signed the bills for the admission of
Florida and Iowa, but the latter was not formally admitted until the
following year.


THE COPPER MINES OF MICHIGAN.

There were many events of a non-political nature, but of the highest
importance, that occurred during Tyler's administration. Copper took its
place as one of the great mineral productions of the United States in
1844. The Indians at last abandoned their claims to the country near
Lake Superior, in northern Michigan, and the explorations that followed
proved that the copper mines there are the richest in the world.
Numerous companies were formed and copper-mining became the leading
industry of that section. An interesting discovery was that many of the
mines had been worked hundreds of years before by the Indians.

The wonderful richness of the gold deposits in California, the vast
mineral resources of Missouri and Tennessee, and the untold wealth of
the petroleum bed under the surface of Pennsylvania were unsuspected.


THE PRESIDENTIAL CONTEST OF 1844.

The presidential election of 1844 hinged on the question of the proposed
annexation of Texas. It has been stated that the Whigs nominated Henry
Clay, who opposed annexation. Van Buren lost the Democratic renomination
through his opposition to annexation, and the Southern Democrats secured
the candidacy of James K. Polk. The Abolitionists did not think Clay's
opposition to annexation quite as earnest as it should be, and they
placed William Birney in nomination. As a result Clay lost the State of
New York, and through that his election to the presidency. The electoral
vote was as follows:

James K. Polk, of Tennessee, Democrat, 170; Henry Clay, of Kentucky,
Whig, 105. For Vice-President, George M. Dallas, of Pennsylvania,
Democrat, 170; Theodore Frelinghuysen, of New Jersey, Whig, 105. This
secured the election of Polk and Dallas. James G. Birney and Thomas
Morris, candidates of the Liberty party for President and
Vice-President, received no electoral vote, but, as stated, caused the
loss of the State of New York to Clay, thereby throwing enough electoral
votes to Polk and Dallas to give them success.


THE MAGNETIC TELEGRAPH.

The convention which placed Polk in nomination was held in the city of
Baltimore. A railway train was waiting to carry the news to Washington,
and, as soon as the passengers could hurry on board, it steamed at the
highest speed to the national capital. When the people left the cars an
hour later they found, to their inexpressible amazement, newspaper
extras for sale containing the news of Polk's nomination. In answer to
their questions they were told that it had been received from Baltimore
by TELEGRAPH.

[Illustration: SHOP IN WHICH THE FIRST MORSE INSTRUMENT WAS CONSTRUCTED
FOR EXHIBITION BEFORE CONGRESS.]

This was on the 29th of May, 1844, and was the first public message sent
by magnetic telegraph. It marked an era in the history of civilization.

Investigation seems to establish that Professor Joseph Henry, of the
Smithsonian Institute, was the real inventor of the electro-magnetic
telegraph, though that honor has been given and will continue to be
given by most people to Professor Samuel F.B. Morse, whose relation to
the telegraph was much the same as that of Fulton to the steamboat. He
added to the ideas of those before him and first brought them into
practical use.

Professor Morse deserves all the credit he has received as one of the
greatest of inventors. He studied painting when young and became an
artist of considerable skill. As early as 1832 he conceived the idea of
an electro-magnetic telegraph and began his experiments. The project
absorbed all his energies until he became what is called in these days a
"crank," which is often the name of one who gives all his thoughts and
efforts to the development of a single project. He drifted away from his
relatives, who looked upon him as a visionary dreamer, and when his
ragged clothes and craving stomach demanded attention, he gave
instruction in drawing to a few students who clung to him.

Light gradually dawned upon Morse, and he continued his labors under
discouragements that would have overcome almost any other man. He
secured help from Alfred Vail, of Morristown, N.J., who invented the
alphabetical characters and many essential features of the system,
besides furnishing Morse with funds, without which his labors would have
come to a standstill. There was not enough capital at command to
construct a line of telegraph, and Morse and his few friends haunted
Congress with their plea for an appropriation. Ezra Cornell, founder of
Cornell University, gave assistance, and, finally, in the very closing
days of the session of Congress in 1844, an appropriation of $30,000 was
made to defray the expenses of a line between Baltimore and Washington.

[Illustration: THE SPEEDWELL IRON WORKS, MORRISTOWN, N.J.

Here was forged the shaft for the Savannah, the first steamship which
crossed the Atlantic. Here was manufactured the tires, axles and cranks
of the first American locomotive. Shop in which Vail and Baxter
constructed the first telegraph apparatus, invented by Morse, for
exhibition before Congress.]

The invention, like most others of an important nature, was subjected to
merciless ridicule. A wag hung a pair of muddy boots out of a window in
Washington, with a placard announcing that they belonged to a man who
had just arrived by telegraph; another placed a package on the wires,
and called to his friends to see it whisked away by lightning; while
many opposed the apparent experimenting with the electric fluid, which
they believed would work all sorts of mischief. Nevertheless, the
patient toilers kept at work, often stopped by accident, and in the face
of all manner of opposition. The first line was laid underground, and,
as has been shown, carried the news of Polk's nomination for the
presidency to Washington.

Professor Morse was in Washington, and the first message was dictated by
Annie Ellsworth, March 28, 1844, and received by Alfred Vail, forty
miles away in Baltimore. It consisted of the words, "What hath God
wrought?" and the telegram is now in the possession of the Connecticut
Historical Society.



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