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The jealousies and fears of the colonies made
themselves apparent, and the central government was given so little
power that it threatened to fall to pieces of its own weight. It could
pass laws, but could not make the people obey them. It could incur
debts, but could not raise money by taxation to pay them. The States
kept nearly all the power to themselves, and each acted almost as if it
were an independent nation, while the Congress of the Confederation was
left without money and almost without authority.

This state of affairs soon grew intolerable. "We are," said Washington,
"one nation to-day, and thirteen to-morrow." Such a union it was
impossible to maintain. It was evident that the compact must give way;
that there must be one strong government or thirteen weak ones. This
last alternative frightened the States. None of them was strong enough
to hold its own against foreign governments. They must form a strong
union or leave themselves at the mercy of ambitious foes. It was this
state of affairs that led to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, by
whose wisdom the National Union which has proved so solid a bond was
organized. The Constitution made by this body gave rise to the Republic
of the United States. A subsequent act, which in 1898 added a number of
distant island possessions to our Union, and vastly widened its
interests and its importance in the world's councils, made of it a
"Greater Republic," a mighty dominion whose possessions extended half
round the globe.

While the changes here briefly outlined were taking place, the country
was growing with phenomenal rapidity. From all parts of northern and
western Europe, and above all from Great Britain, new settlers were
crowding to our shores, while the descendants of the original settlers
were increasing in numbers. How many people there were here is in doubt,
but it is thought that in 1700 there were more than 200,000, in 1750
about 1,100,000, and in 1776 about 2,500,000. The first census, taken in
1790, just after the Federal Union was formed, gave a population of
nearly 4,000,000.

A people growing at this rate could not be long confined to the narrow
ocean border of the early settlements. A rich and fertile country lay
back, extending how far no one knew, and soon there was a movement to
the West, which carried the people over the mountains and into the broad
plains beyond. A war was fought with France for the possession of the
Ohio country. Boone and other bold pioneers led hardy settlers into
Kentucky and Tennessee, and George Rogers Clark descended the Ohio and
drove the British troops from the northwest territory, gaining that vast
region for the new Union.

After the War for Independence the movement westward went on with
rapidity. The first settlement in Ohio was made at Marietta in 1788;
Cincinnati was founded in 1790; in 1803 St. Louis was a little village
of log-cabins; and in 1831 the site of Chicago was occupied by a dozen
settlers gathered round Fort Dearborn. But while the cities were thus
slow in starting, the country between them was rapidly filling up, the
Indians giving way step by step as the vanguard of the great march
pressed upon them; here down the Ohio in bullet-proof boats, there
across the mountains on foot or in wagons. A great national road
stretched westward from Cumberland, Maryland, which in time reached the
Mississippi, and over whose broad and solid surface a steady stream of
emigrant wagons poured into the great West. At the same time steamboats
were beginning to run on the Eastern waters, and soon these were
carrying the increasing multitude down the Ohio and the Mississippi into
the vast Western realm. Later came the railroad to complete this phase
of our history, and provide a means of transportation by whose aid
millions could travel with ease where a bare handful had made their way
with peril and hardship of old.

Up to 1803 our national domain was bounded on the west by the
Mississippi, but in that year the vast territory of Louisiana was
purchased from France and the United States was extended to the summit
of the Rocky Mountains, its territory being more than doubled in area.
Here was a mighty domain for future settlement, across which two daring
travelers, Lewis and Clark, journeyed through tribes of Indians never
before heard of, not ending their long route until they had passed down
the broad Columbia to the waters of the Pacific.

From time to time new domains were added to the great republic. In 1819
Florida was purchased from Spain. In 1845 Texas was added to the Union.
In 1846 the Oregon country was made part of the United States. In 1848,
as a result of the Mexican War, an immense tract extending from Texas
to the Pacific was acquired, and the land of gold became part of the
republic. In 1853 another tract was purchased from Mexico, and the
domain of the United States, as it existed at the beginning of the Civil
War, was completed. It constituted a great section of the North American
continent, extending across it from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and
north and south from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, a fertile,
well-watered, and prolific land, capable of becoming the nursery of one
of the greatest nations on the earth. Beginning, at the close of the
Revolution, with an area of 827,844 square miles, it now embraced
3,026,484 square miles of territory, having increased within a century
to nearly four times its original size.

In 1867 a new step was taken, in the addition to this country of a
region of land separated from its immediate domain. This was the
territory of Alaska, of more than 577,000 square miles in extent, and
whose natural wealth has made it a far more valuable acquisition than
was originally dreamed of. In 1898 the Greater Republic, as it at
present exists, was completed by the acquisition of the island of Porto
Rico in the West Indies, and the Hawaiian and Philippine Island groups
in the Pacific Ocean. These, while adding not greatly to our territory,
may prove to possess a value in their products fully justifying their
acquisition. At present, however, their value is political rather than
industrial, as bringing the United States into new and important
relations with the other great nations of the earth.

The growth of population in this country is shown strikingly in the
remarkable development of its cities. In 1790 the three largest cities
were not larger than many of our minor cities to-day. Philadelphia had
forty-two thousand population, New York thirty-three thousand, and
Boston eighteen thousand. Charleston and Baltimore were still smaller,
and Savannah was quite small. There were only five cities with over ten
thousand population. Of inland towns, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with
something over six thousand population, was the largest. In 1890, one
hundred years afterwards, New York and Philadelphia had over one million
each, and Chicago, a city not sixty years old, shared with them this
honor. As for cities surpassing those of a century before, they were
hundreds in number. A similar great growth has taken place in the
States. From the original thirteen, hugging closely the Atlantic coast,
we now possess forty-five, crossing the continent from ocean to ocean,
and have besides a vast territorial area.

The thirteen original States, sparsely peopled, poor and struggling for
existence, have expanded into a great galaxy of States, rich, powerful,
and prosperous, with grand cities, flourishing rural communities,
measureless resources, and an enterprise which no difficulty can baffle
and no hardship can check. Our territory could support hundreds of
millions of population, and still be much less crowded than some of the
countries of Europe. Its products include those of every zone; hundreds
of thousands of square miles of its soil are of virgin richness; its
mineral wealth is so great that its precious metals have affected the
monetary standards of the world, and its vast mineral and agricultural
wealth is as yet only partly developed. Vast as has been the production
of gold in California, its annual output is of less value than that of
wheat. In wheat, corn, and cotton, indeed, the product of this country
is simply stupendous; while, in addition to its gold and silver, it is a
mighty storehouse of coal, iron, copper, lead, petroleum, and many other
products of nature that are of high value to mankind.

In its progress towards its present condition, our country has been
markedly successful in two great fields of human effort, in war and in
peace. A brief preliminary statement of its success in the first of
these, and of the causes of its several wars, may be desirable here, as
introductory to their more extended consideration in the body of the
work. The early colonists had three enemies to contend with: the
original inhabitants of the land, the Spanish settlers in the South, and
the French in the North and West. Its dealings with the aborigines has
been one continuous series of conflicts, the red man being driven back
step by step until to-day he holds but a small fraction of his once
great territory. Yet the Indians are probably as numerous to-day as they
were originally, and are certainly better off in their present peaceful
and partly civilized condition than they were in their former savage and
warlike state.

The Spaniards were never numerous in this country, and were forced to
retire after a few conflicts of no special importance. Such was not the
case with the French, who were numerous and aggressive, and with whom
the colonists were at war on four successive occasions, the last being
that fierce conflict in which it was decided whether the Anglo-Saxon or
the French race should be dominant in this country. The famous battle on
the Plains of Abraham settled the question, and with the fall of Quebec
the power of France in America fell never to rise again.

A direct and almost an immediate consequence of this struggle for
dominion was the struggle for liberty between the colonists and the
mother-country. The oppressive measures of Great Britain led to a war of
seven years' duration, in which more clearly and decisively than ever
before the colonists showed their warlike spirit and political genius,
and whose outcome was the independence of this country.



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