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At its
conclusion the United States stepped into line with the nations of the
world, a free community, with a mission to fulfill and a destiny to
accomplish--a mission and a destiny which are still in process of
development, and whose final outcome no man can foresee.

The next series of events in the history of our wars arose from the
mighty struggle in Europe between France and Great Britain and the
piratical activity of the Barbary States. The latter were forced to
respect the power of the United States by several naval demonstrations
and conflicts; and a naval war with France, in which our ships were
strikingly successful, induced that country to show us greater respect.
But the wrongs which we suffered from Great Britain were not to be so
easily settled, and led to a war of three years' continuance, in which
the honors were fairly divided on land, but in which our sailors
surprised the world by their prowess in naval conflict. The proud boast
that "Britannia rules the waves" lost its pertinence after our two
striking victories on Lake Erie and Lake Champlain, and our remarkable
success in a dozen conflicts at sea. Alike in this war and in the
Revolution the United States showed that skill and courage in naval
warfare which has recently been repeated in the Spanish War.

The wars of which we have spoken had a warrant for their being. They
were largely unavoidable results of existing conditions. This cannot
justly be said of the next struggle upon which the United States
entered, the Mexican War, since this was a politician's war pure and
simple, one which could easily have been avoided, and which was entered
into with the avowed purpose of acquiring territory. In this it
succeeded, the country gaining a great and highly valuable tract, whose
wealth in the precious metals is unsurpassed by any equal section of the
earth, and which is still richer in agricultural than in mineral wealth.

The next conflict that arose was the most vital and important of all our
wars, with the exception of that by which we gained our independence.
The Constitution of 1787 did not succeed in forming a perfect Union
between the States. An element of dissension was left, a "rift within
the lute," then seemingly small and unimportant, but destined to grow to
dangerous proportions. This was the slavery question, disposed of in the
Constitution by a compromise, which, like every compromise with evil,
failed in its purpose. The question continued to exist. It grew
threatening, portentous, and finally overshadowed the whole political
domain. Every effort to settle it peacefully only added to the strain;
the union between the States weakened as this mighty hammer of discord
struck down their combining links; finally the bonds yielded, the
slavery question thrust itself like a great wedge between, and a mighty
struggle began to decide whether the Union should stand or fall. With
the events of this struggle we are not here concerned. They are told at
length in their special place. All that we shall here say is this: While
the war was fought for the preservation of the Union, it was clearly
perceived that this union could never be stable while the disorganizing
element remained, and the war led inevitably to the abolition of
slavery, the apple of discord which had been thrown between the States.
The greatness of the result was adequate to the greatness of the
conflict. With the end of the Civil War, for the first time in their
history, an actual and stable Union was established between the States.

We have one more war to record, the brief but important struggle of
1898, entered into by the United States under the double impulse of
indignation against the barbarous destruction of the _Maine_ and of
sympathy for the starving and oppressed people of Cuba. It yielded
results undreamed of in its origin. Not only was Cuba wrested from the
feeble and inhuman hands of Spain, but new possessions in the oceans of
the east and west were added to the United States, and for the first
time this country took its predestined place among the nations engaged
in shaping the destiny of the world, rose to imperial dignity in the
estimation of the rulers of Europe, and fairly won that title of the
GREATER REPUBLIC which this work is written to commemorate.

Such has been the record of this country in war. Its record in peace has
been marked by as steady a career of victory, and with results
stupendous almost beyond the conception of man, when we consider that
the most of them have been achieved within little more than a century.
During the colonial period the energies of the American people were
confined largely to agriculture, Great Britain sternly prohibiting any
progress in manufacture and any important development of commerce. It
need hardly be said that the restless and active spirit of the colonists
chafed under these restrictions, and that the attempt to clip the
expanding wings of the American eagle had as much to do with bringing on
the war of the Revolution as had Great Britain's futile efforts at
taxation. The genius of a great people cannot thus be cribbed and
confined, and American enterprise was bound to find a way or carve
itself a way through the barriers raised by British avarice and tyranny.

It was after the Revolution that the progress of this country first
fairly began. The fetters which bound its hands thrown off, it entered
upon a career of prosperity which broadened with the years, and extended
until not only the whole continent but the whole world felt its
influence and was embraced by its results. Manufacture, no longer held
in check, sprang up and spread with marvelous rapidity. Commerce, now
gaining access to all seas and all lands, expanded with equal speed.
Enterprise everywhere made itself manifest, and invention began its long
and wonderful career.

In fact, freedom was barely won before our inventors were actively at
work. Before the Constitution was formed John Fitch was experimenting
with his steamboat on the Delaware, and Oliver Evans was seeking to move
wagons by steam in the streets of Philadelphia. Not many years elapsed
before both were successful, and Eli Whitney with his cotton-gin had set
free the leading industry of the South and enabled it to begin that
remarkable career which proved so momentous in American history, since
to it we owe the Civil War with all its great results.

With the opening of the nineteenth century the development of the
industries and of the inventive faculty of the Americans went on with
enhanced rapidity. The century was but a few years old when Fulton, with
his improved steamboat, solved the question of inland water
transportation. By the end of the first quarter of the century this was
solved in another way by the completion of the Erie Canal, the longest
and hitherto the most valuable of artificial water-ways. The railroad
locomotive, though invented in England, was prefigured when Oliver
Evans' steam road-wagon ran sturdily through the streets of
Philadelphia. To the same inventor we owe another triumph of American
genius, the grain elevator, which the development of agriculture has
rendered of incomparable value. The railroad, though not native here,
has had here its greatest development, and with its more than one
hundred and eighty thousand miles of length has no rival in any country
upon the earth. To it may be added the Morse system of telegraphy, the
telephone and phonograph, the electric light and electric motor, and all
that wonderful series of inventions in electrical science which has been
due to American genius.

We cannot begin to name the multitude of inventions in the mechanical
industries which have raised manufacture from an art to a science and
filled the world with the multitude of its products. It will suffice to
name among them the steam hammer, the sewing machine, the cylinder
printing-press, the type-setting machine, the rubber vulcanizer, and the
innumerable improvements in steam engines and labor-saving apparatus of
all kinds. These manufacturing expedients have been equaled in number
and importance by those applied to agriculture, including machines for
plowing, reaping, sowing the seed, threshing the grain, cutting the
grass, and a hundred other valuable processes, which have fairly
revolutionized the art of tilling the earth, and enabled our farmers to
feed not only our own population but to send millions of bushels of
grain annually abroad.

In truth, we have entered here upon an interminable field, so full of
triumphs of invention and ingenuity, and so stupendous in its results,
as to form one of the chief marvels of this wonderful century, and to
place our nation, in the field of human industry and mechanical
achievement, foremost among the nations of the world. Its triumphs have
not been confined to manufacture and agriculture; it has been as active
in commerce, and now stands first in the bulk of its exports and
imports. In every other direction of industry it has been as active, as
in fisheries, in forestry, in great works of engineering, in vast mining
operations; and from the seas, the earth, the mountain sides, our
laborers are wresting annually from nature a stupendous return in
wealth.

Our progress in the industries has been aided and inspired by an equal
progress in educational facilities, and the intellectual development of
our people has kept pace with their material advance. The United States
spends more money for the education of its youth than any other country
in the world, and among her institutions the school-house and the
college stand most prominent. While the lower education has been
abundantly attended to, the higher education has been by no means
neglected, and amply endowed colleges and universities are found in
every State and in almost every city of the land. In addition to the
school-house, libraries are multiplying with rapidity, art galleries and
museums of science are rising everywhere, temples to music and the drama
are found in all our cities, the press is turning out books and
newspapers with almost abnormal energy, and in everything calculated to
enhance the intelligence of the people the United States has no
superior, if any equal, among the nations of the earth.

It may seem unnecessary to tell the people of the United States the
story of their growth.



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