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He proved his strength by selecting
his successor, Martin Van Buren.


THE "LOG-CABIN AND HARD-CIDER" CAMPAIGN OF 1840.

The next notable presidential battle was the "log-cabin and hard-cider"
campaign of 1840, the like of which was never before seen in this
country. General William Henry Harrison had been defeated by Van Buren
in 1836, but on the 4th of December, 1839, the National Whig Convention,
which met at Harrisburg to decide the claims of rival candidates,
placed Harrison in nomination, while the Democrats again nominated Van
Buren.

General Harrison lived at North Bend, Ohio, in a house which consisted
of a log-cabin, built many years before by a pioneer, and was afterward
covered with clapboards. The visitors to the house praised the
republican simplicity of the old soldier, the hero of Tippecanoe, and
the principal campaign biography said that his table, instead of being
supplied with costly wines, was furnished with an abundance of the best
cider.

[Illustration: THE MARIGNY HOUSE, NEW ORLEANS.

(Where Louis Philippe stopped in 1798.)]

The canvass had hardly opened, when the _Baltimore Republican_ slurred
General Harrison by remarking that, if some one would pension him with a
few hundred dollars and give him a barrel of hard cider, he would sit
down in his log-cabin and be content for the rest of his life. That
sneer furnished the keynote of the campaign. Hard cider became almost
the sole beverage of the Whigs throughout the country. In every city,
town and village, and at the cross-roads, were erected log-cabins, while
the amount of hard cider drank would have floated the American navy. The
nights were rent with the shouts of "Tippecanoe and Tyler too," and
scores of campaign songs were sung by tens of thousands of exultant,
even if not always musical, voices. We recall that one of the most
popular songs began:

"Oh, where, tell me where, was the log-cabin made?
'Twas made by the boys that wield the plough and the spade."

There was no end to the songs, which were set to the most popular airs
and sung over and over again. You would hear them in the middle of the
night on some distant mountain-top, where the twinkling camp-fire showed
that a party of Whigs were drinking hard cider and whooping it up for
Harrison; some singer with a strong, pleasing voice would start one of
the songs from the platform, at the close of the orator's appeal, and
hardly had his lips parted, when the thousands of Whigs, old and young,
and including wives and daughters, would join in the words, while the
enthusiasm quickly grew to a white heat. The horsemen riding home late
at night awoke the echoes among the woods and hills with their musical
praises of "Old Tippecanoe." The story is told that in one of the
backwoods districts of Ohio, after the preacher had announced the hymn,
the leader of the singing, a staid old deacon, struck in with a Harrison
campaign song, in which the whole congregation, after the first moment's
shock, heartily joined, while the aghast preacher had all he could do to
restrain himself from "coming in on the chorus." There was some truth in
the declaration of a disgusted Democrat that, from the opening of the
canvass, the whole Whig population of the United States went upon a
colossal spree on hard cider, which continued without intermission until
Harrison was installed in the White House.

And what did November tell? The electoral vote cast for Martin Van
Buren, 60; for General Harrison, 234. No wonder that the supply of hard
cider was almost exhausted within the next three days.


PECULIAR FEATURE OF THE HARRISON CAMPAIGN.

As we have noted, the method of nominating presidential candidates by
means of popular conventions was fully established in 1840, and has
continued uninterruptedly ever since. One peculiar feature marked the
Harrison campaign of 1840. The convention which nominated Martin Van
Buren met in Baltimore in May of that year. On the same day, the young
Whigs of the country held a mass-meeting in Baltimore, at which fully
twenty thousand persons were present. They came from every part of the
Union, Massachusetts sending fully a thousand. When the adjournment took
place, it was to meet again in Washington at the inauguration of
Harrison. The railway was then coming into general use, and this greatly
favored the assembling of mass-conventions.

[Illustration: FREMONT, THE GREAT PATHFINDER, ADDRESSING THE INDIANS AT
FORT LARAMIE.]




CHAPTER XIII.

ADMINISTRATION OF POLK, 1845-1849.

James K. Polk--_The War with Mexico_--The First Conflict--Battle of
Resaca de la Palma--Vigorous Action of the United States
Government--General Scott's Plan of Campaign--Capture of Monterey--An
Armistice--Capture of Saltillo--Of Victoria--Of Tampico--General
Kearny's Capture of Santa Fé--Conquest of California--Wonderful March of
Colonel Doniphan--Battle of Buena Vista--General Scott's March Toward
the City of Mexico--Capture of Vera Cruz--American Victory at Cerro
Gordo--Five American Victories in One Day--Santa Anna--Conquest of
Mexico Completed--Terms of the Treaty of Peace--The New Territory
Gained--The Slavery Dispute--The Wilmot Proviso--"Fifty-Four Forty or
Fight"--Adjustment of the Oregon Boundary--Admission of Iowa and
Wisconsin--The Smithsonian Institute--Discovery of Gold in
California--The Mormons--The Presidential Election of 1848.


JAMES K. POLK.

[Illustration: JAMES K. POLK.

(1795-1849.) One term, 1845-1849.]

James K. Polk, eleventh President, was born in Mecklenburg County, North
Carolina, November 2, 1795, and died June 15, 1849. His father removed
to Tennessee when the son was quite young, and he therefore became
identified with that State. He studied law, was a leading politician,
and was elected to Congress in 1825, serving in that body for fourteen
years. He was elected governor of Tennessee in 1839, his next
advancement being to the presidency of the United States.

The President made George Bancroft, the distinguished historian, his
secretary of the navy. It was he who laid the foundation of the United
States Naval Academy at Annapolis, which was opened October 10, 1845. It
is under the immediate care and supervision of the navy department and
corresponds to the Military Academy at West Point.

Everybody knew that the admission of Texas meant war with Mexico, for
that country would never yield, until compelled to do so, the province
that had rebelled against her rule and whose independence she had
persistently refused to recognize. Texas was unable to withstand the
Mexican army, and her authorities urged the United States to send a
force for her protection. General Zachary Taylor, who was in camp in
western Louisiana, was ordered to advance into and occupy Texan
territory.

Mexico had always insisted that the Nueces River was her western
boundary, while Texas maintained that the Rio Grande was the dividing
line. The dispute, therefore, was really over the tract of land between
the two rivers. Our country proposed to settle the question by
arbitration, but Mexico would not consent, claiming that the section
(known as Coahuila) had never been in revolt against her authority,
while Texas declared that it was a part of itself, and its Legislature
so decided December 19, 1836.

General Taylor established a camp at Corpus Christi in the latter part
of 1845, at the mouth of the Nueces. With nearly 5,000 troops, he
marched, in January, to the Rio Grande to meet the Mexicans who were
preparing to invade the disputed territory. Taylor established a depot
of provisions at Point Isabel on the Gulf, and, upon reaching the Rio
Grande, hastily built Fort Brown, opposite the Mexican town of
Matamoras.

Some time later the Mexican forces reached Matamoras, and General Arista
on the 26th of April notified Taylor that hostilities had begun. To
emphasize his declaration, Captain Thornton with a company of dragoons
was attacked the same day, and, after the loss of sixteen men in killed
and wounded, was compelled to surrender to a much superior force. This
was the first engagement of the war and was fought on ground claimed by
both countries.


BATTLE OF PALO ALTO.

The Mexicans acted vigorously and soon placed Taylor's lines of
communication in such danger that he hurried to Point Isabel to prevent
its falling into the hands of the enemy. He left Major Brown with 300
men in charge of Fort Brown. The Mexicans were exultant, believing
Taylor had been frightened out of the country. But that valiant officer
paused at Point Isabel only long enough to make its position secure,
when he marched rapidly toward Fort Brown. Reaching Palo Alto, on the
road, he found the way disputed by fully 6,000 Mexicans, who were three
times as numerous as his own army. Attacking the enemy with great
spirit, he routed them with the loss of a hundred men, his own loss
being four killed and forty wounded.

Resuming his march toward Fort Brown, Taylor had reached a point within
three miles of it, when he was brought face to face with a much larger
force at Resaca de la Palma. The battle was a severe one, and for a long
time was in doubt; but the tide was turned by a dashing charge of
Captain May with his dragoons. Despite a destructive fire of grapeshot,
the horsemen galloped over the Mexican batteries, cut down the gunners,
and captured the commanding officer. Taylor then pushed on to Fort Brown
and found it safe, though it had been under an almost continuous
bombardment, in which Major Brown, the commandant, was killed.

[Illustration: ROBERT E. LEE IN ONE OF THE BATTLES OF THE MEXICAN WAR.

"Always to be found where the fighting was the fiercest."]


WAR DECLARED BY CONGRESS.

News of these battles was carried north by carrier pigeons and
telegraph, and the war spirit of the country was roused. Congress on
the 11th of May declared that war existed by the act of the Mexican
government, and $10,000,000 was placed at the disposal of the President,
who was authorized to accept 50,000 volunteers. The call for them was
answered by 300,000, who were eager to serve in the war.


GENERAL SCOTT'S PLAN OF CAMPAIGN.

General Scott, as head of the army, formed a careful plan of campaign
for the conquest of Mexico.



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