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Thomas Jefferson

The third President of our country was Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, and of the Act of Religious Freedom in Virginia. A good and honest man, the “Sage of Monticello” always kept the resolution made at the age of twenty-six, when elected a burgess: “Never to engage while in public office in… Read More

Tripolitan Pirates Break Treaty

During the next seven years, after the Tripolitan treaty, American shipping was left alone; but after the War of 1812, the Barbary pirates, thinking the British had destroyed our navy, again began to attack our ships. They also ordered the American consul to leave Algiers, and he saved himself and family from slavery only by… Read More

Civil War Begins

A rumor had arisen that, even if elected, Lincoln should never be inaugurated. This made his friends so anxious for his safety that they persuaded him to travel secretly to Washington. There he was inaugurated, on March 4, 1861. After taking his solemn oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States,”… Read More

Problems With Treaty of Paris

In 1781, several years before Congress took possession of the western lands, the states had all signed “Articles of Confederation,” a system of federal government proposed in 1776. But as this system did not give Congress power to impose taxes, make trade laws, secure money enough to pay government expenses, or make people obey the… Read More

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

When the government was formed, slave property was recognized in the Constitution, and each state was left free to do as it chose about keeping slaves. But since then ideas had been changing. The appearance of slave catchers in the North, and the publication of a novel called “Uncle Tom's Cabin——of which many thousands of… Read More

Famous Frigate — The Constitution

The most famous American frigate at that time was the Constitution, which came out safely from so many hard fights that she earned the nickname of “Old Ironsides.” When war began, the Constitution had just come home. In her first cruise she fell in with a British squadron, and as she could not face several… Read More

Union Soldiers Gain Victories

While McClellan was drilling his troops so as to have them ready to take Richmond, other Union generals were trying to get possession of the Southern forts along the Cumberland, Tennessee, and Mississippi rivers. For instance, Commodore Foote and General Grant took Fort Henry (1862). Next, after three days' very hard fighting at Fort Donelson… Read More

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln never pretended to be either wise or clever, but his life motto was “to do his level best,” and he manfully put it into practice. He did not like to hear all the quarreling that was going on, and always did all he could to stop it. But when he thought a thing right… Read More

James Buchanan

The slavery question created such very strong and bitter feeling that the next election saw the rise of what is still called the Republican party, which soon included all those in favor of free soil. The Democrats proving the stronger, however, James Buchanan, their candidate, became the fifteenth President of the United States. As Buchanan… Read More

Free versus Slave States

We have seen how Oregon became a part of our country. It was settled mostly by people opposed to slavery, so that it came in as free soil. But the Southerners had already asked that Texas be allowed to join the Union as slave soil. Many people wished thus to keep the balance even. Eight… Read More