Constitutional History

The second session of the first Congress began January 8,1790. Agreeably to a plan submitted by Mr. Hamilton, secretary of the treasury, Congress proceeded to make provision for discharging in full the foreign and domestic debt, and assumed also the debts incurred by the several States in carrying on the war. To this object the proceeds of the public lands lying in the western territory, the surplus revenue from the duties on imports, and a loan of two millions, were appropriated. This measure immediately restored public credit; certificates of public debt rose to par; and those who had purchased low, realized immense fortunes. Business of all kinds revived, and the country entered upon a career of prosperous activity and enterprise.

At the next session of Congress, after a protracted debate, a bill was passed imposing a tax on domestic spirits, for the purpose of paying the interest on the State debts assumed by the Union. A national bank was al so established, not without opposition, mainly on the ground of its unconstitutionality. The party lines between the federalists and anti-federalists (as they were called), which had begun to appear when the adoption of the new constitution was under discussion, became this session more broad and clear. A regular opposition to the administration began to be organized.

Meantime the hostilities of the Indians northwest of the Ohio made it necessary to send an expedition against them. Gen. Harmar was put in command, but he was defeated with considerable loss in a battle near Chillicothe. Gen. St. Clair, who succeeded in command, was also totally defeated. A bill then passed Congress for raising an additional force to the army. The measure was bitterly resisted by the opposition, chiefly on the ground that standing armies were dangerous, and that the proposed in crease showed the existence of monarchical designs on the part of the administration. An unsuccessful attempt was made the next session to reduce the military establishment; and the opposition introduced various resolutions, evincing their hostility to the administration. The public press became also the vehicle of vehement attacks, particularly upon the secretary of the treasury, Mr. Hamilton; and party spirit, from day to day, grew stronger throughout the country.

On the expiration of his term of office, however, Washington was unanimously reelected president, March, 1793; Mr. Adams again vice-president. Beside the still unsettled condition of Indian affairs, this term of Washington's administration was embarrassed by new difficulties, growing out of the French revolution. The French republic had just declared war against England and Holland; and so strong in the United States was the hatred of the people to the British, and so lively their sympathy with the French, that the opinion was entertained in many quarters that America was bound by every consideration, both of gratitude to an old ally, and sympathy with the cause of republicanism, to make common cause with France.

Immediately on receiving intelligence of the declaration of war, Washington convened a cabinet council, and by their unanimous advice, issued a proclamation, enjoining strict neutrality to be observed on the part of the United States toward the belligerent powers, April 22, 1793. The opposition (anti-federalist) party, through the press, bitterly inveighed against this proclamation, denouncing it as a high-handed assumption of power on the part of the president, a royal edict,' evincing his monarchical disposition, and also as dishonorable and ungrateful towards France.

In this state of things, Mr. Genet, the new minister appointed by the French republic, arrived in the country, with the object of engaging the cooperation of the United States against England. Misled by the flattering reception he met with at Charleston, where he landed, he immediately began, even before he had been recognized as minister, to excite the people against the government, and carried his audacity so far as to set at defiance the proclamation of neutrality, fitting out expeditions, and giving commissions to American vessels to cruise against the enemies of France and assuming the power to hold admiralty courts, for the trial and sale of prizes thus made. In these measures he was supported by the opposition, or as it began to be called, the DEMOCRATIC party, which now began, under the influence of the French minister, and in imitation of the affiliated clubs in France, to form democratic societies throughout the country.

Washington demanded the recall of Mr. Genet. The French government complied, and instructed his successor to express its entire disapproval of Genet's conduct. When Congress assembled in December following, the proclamation of neutrality, and the conduct of Washington towards Genet, were approved by that body, as they were finally by the great body of the nation.

In 1794 Congress passed a bill providing for a naval force to protect American commerce against the Algerines. The slave-trade was like wise prohibited.

There seemed now reason to apprehend the necessity of another war with England. In addition to severe and unjust commercial restrictions imposed by that government, she had proceeded to capture and condemn neutral vessels having on board French goods, or carrying corn and other supplies to France. In anticipation of a war, Congress passed several bills - for imposing an embargo; for organizing the militia; and for increasing the standing army. Meanwhile information was received that the British government was disposed to redress the grievances complained of, and amicably adjust all differences. John Jay was accordingly nominated and approved as envoy to Great Britain.

All attempts to make peace with the Indians having failed, the war was renewed. Gen. Wayne was appointed to succeed Gen. St. Clair. On the 20th of August, he gained a decisive victory over a large body of the Miamies, and then proceeded to lay waste their country. This victory prevented a general war with the Six Nations and with the tribes northwest of the Ohio. The 'Whisky Insurrection' in Pennsylvania is one of the events of this year. It grew out of the duty on domestic spirits; this tax pressed heavily on the inhabitants of the west, and was besides considered unjust in principle. The proclamation of the president being disregarded, a considerable force of militia (fifteen thousand men) under Governor Lee of Maryland, was ordered out. On their approach, the insurgents laid down their arms, and promised submission to the laws.

In 1795 Mr. Jay having concluded a treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation, with Great Britain, the senate was convoked to consider it. Meanwhile, its contents having been disclosed, the most violent opposition was made to it; public meetings were held, and petitions against it were sent from all quarters of the country. The partisans of France and the enemies of England denounced it in the most unmeasured terms. The objections to it were, generally, that it wanted reciprocity; that it gave up all compensation for negroes carried away contrary to the treaty of peace, and for the detention of the western posts; that it contravened the French treaty, and sacrificed the interest of our ally to that of Great Britain; that it gave up in several important instances the law of nations, particularly in relation to free ships makings free goods, cases of blockade, and contraband of war that it improperly interfered with the legislative powers of Congress, and that the commercial part gave few advantages to the United States. The treaty was, however, ratified by the senate, and signed by the president, August 14, 1795.

In October, after a long negotiation, a treaty was made with Spain, settling some questions of boundary, and acquiring for the United States the right of navigating the Mississippi. Treaties were also concluded with Algiers, and with the Indians in the West.

On the assembling of congress in 1796, it became necessary to make appropriations and pass resolutions for carrying these treaties into effect. This gave occasion for a new display of hostility to the British treaty: and it was only after a debate of seven weeks, that the necessary resolutions passed the house of representatives, and then only by a majority of three. Public opinion at length gradually settled in favor of this treaty, as the only means of saving the country from becoming involved in the wars of the French revolution; and in the sequel it proved of great advantage to the United States. The close of the second term of Washington's administration was now approaching. Signifying his intention to retire from public life, the Father of his country took occasion to issue a farewell address to his countrymen, replete with maxims of political wisdom, and sentiments of patriotism and virtue.

The personal influence of Washington, due alike to his wisdom, his virtues, and his eminent services, was of the utmost importance in the first working of the new government. During the eight years of his administration, all differences with foreign nations had been peaceably settled, except those with France; and at home the Indian tribes had been pacified. Public and private credit were restored; ample provision made for the security and ultimate payment of the public debt; American tonnage had nearly doubled; the exports had increased from nineteen to more than fifty-six millions of dollars; the imports in about the same proportion; and the amount of revenue from imposts had exceeded the most sanguine calculations. The population had increased from three and a half to five millions; and agriculture and all the industrial interests of the country were in a flourishing state.

The only drawback to this picture of prosperity were the difficulties with France. Discontented at the neutral policy of America, the French republic continued to make demands upon the gratitude of the United States, which could be yielded to only by surrendering the right of self-government. Finding all attempts to involve America in its wars with Europe ineffectual, and feeling aggrieved at the treaty with its enemy, the French government proceeded to retaliate, by adopting certain resolutions injurious to American commerce, under the operation of which moreover, several hundred American vessels were seized and confiscated just before his retirement from office, Washington had recalled Mr. Monroe, and despatched Mr. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney to France, as minister plenipotentiary, to settle the difficulties between the two nations. Such was the state of the country at the close of Washington's administration.

On the 4th of March, 1797, John Adams became president. The French republic refusing to receive Mr. Pinckney, a subsequent mission extraordinary to that government having also totally failed, and spoliation upon American commerce continually increasing, congress began to adopt vigorous measures for defense and retaliation. The treaties with France were declared no longer obligatory on the United States; an army was raised; and Washington was appointed commander-in-chief. Several engagements at sea took place between French and American vessels. The French government now signified indirectly a willingness to treat, and envoys were again sent from the United States. Before their arrival, the revolution of the 18th Brumaire (November 10, 1799) had taken place; the directorial government was overthrown, and Bonaparte was at the head of affairs as first consul. This event changed the policy of the French government; negotiations were commenced, and a treaty was concluded September 30, 1800.

On the 14th of December, 1799, died George Washington, mourned by the nation as no other man was ever mourned by any people. There have been great men superior perhaps to him in particular qualities and endowments: but in the perfect proportion and harmony of all the qualities of his nature, intellectual and moral, in the entireness and unity of his character, he is distinguished above all the great men whom history presents to our contemplation. In this consisted the secret of the repose, dignity, and grandeur, that through his whole life made so strong an impression upon all who approached him, and gave him such power over them.

Party spirit ran high during Mr. Adams's administration. Its measures were violently assailed by the opposition, particularly the alien' and sedition' laws: by the former of which, any alien considered dangerous might be ordered to depart from the country; and by the latter, combinations to oppose the government, libelous publications etc. were made penal. The unpopularity of these and some other measures gave great strength to the democratic party, and defeated the reelection of Mr. Adams.

On the 4th of March, 1801, Thomas Jefferson succeeded Mr. Adams as president of the United States. At the next session of congress, several of the most important acts of the preceding period were repealed, particularly those imposing internal taxes, and reorganizing the United States courts. Among the most important events of this period was the purchase of Louisiana from the French for fifteen millions of dollars. Mr. Jefferson's term of office expiring, he was reelected, and commenced a second term, March 4, 1805. The same year a war which had been carried on for several years with Tripoli, was brought to a close by a treaty of peace.

The interests of the United States were now becoming complicated with the policy of the belligerent powers of Europe. The peace of Amiens in 1802 gave but a short repose from war; hostilities were soon renewed between France and England, and all the powers of Europe became involved in them. The United States maintained a strict neutrality and engaged in an extensive and profitable carrying trade. But in 1806, the English government, by an order of council, declared the blockade of all the ports and rivers from the Elbe to Brest. Napoleon retaliated by the famous ' Berlin decree,' declaring all the British islands in a state of blockade This was met by another British order of council, prohibiting all coasting-trade with France.

While these measures, which were partly in contravention of the law of nations, operated very injuriously upon the commerce of America, and tended to embroil her with both the belligerent powers, an old difficulty with England was aggravated by a special outrage. Great Britain had always claimed the right of searching American vessels, and of impressing from them native-born British subjects. They had also impressed some thousands of American seamen, under the pretext that they were British born. In this course the English government persisted in spite of the remonstrances of the United States. In June, 1807, Commodore Barron, commanding the American frigate Chesapeake, refusing to deliver three men claimed by the British, the Chesapeake was attacked by the British frigate Leopard off the capes of Virginia, very much injured and crippled, and the men in question forcibly taken away.

The public mind was greatly exasperated by this outrage. The president, by proclamation, ordered all British armed vessels off the waters of the United States, until satisfaction should be made, which the American minister, Mr. Monroe, was instructed to demand forthwith, as well as security against future impressments from American vessels. The British government declined to treat concerning the general question of search and impressment, but sent a special envoy to the United States, to settle the particular injury in the case of the Chesapeake. Mr. Rose was instructed, however, not to treat until the president's proclamation was revoked. This being refused, the matter rested; and was not finally adjusted until four years later, when satisfactory reparation was made by the British government.

Meantime, on the 17th of December, 1807, Bonaparte, in retaliation for the British order in council, issued the Milan decree declaring every vessel denationalized that should submit to search by the British, and every vessel a good prize taken sailing to or from Great Britain or its colonies, or any place occupied by British troops.

The embargo failing to compel the belligerent powers to revoke measures so injurious to American commerce, and so subversive of the rights of neutrals, it was repealed on the 1st of March, 1809, and a law passed prohibiting all trade and intercourse with France and England.

Mr. Jefferson declining a reelection, was succeeded, March 4th, 1809, by James Madison. The state of the country was gloomy. Her commerce was suffering both from foreign and domestic restrictions; and it seemed that she must indefinitely submit to this condition of things, or make war with the belligerents. In passing the non-intercourse act of March 1st, congress had empowered the president to repeal it by proclamation in the event of either of the hostile parties revoking their edicts. The British minister at Washington engaged for his government the repeal of the orders of council, so far as the United States were concerned. The president accordingly notified the renewal of commercial intercourse with Great Britain. But the English government disavowed the engagement of its minister, and non-intercourse was again proclaimed.

On the 23d of March 1810, Napoleon retaliated the non-intercourse act of congress by issuing the Rambouillet decree - ordering all vessels arriving in French ports, or the ports of countries occupied by French troops, to be seized and condemned. On the 1st of May, congress passed an act excluding British and French armed vessels from the waters of the United States - with a provision for renewing intercourse with whichever nation should within a given time cease to violate the commercial rights of neutral nations. In consequence of this act, the French decrees were revoked, and intercourse with France was renewed. It had been made a condition on the part of the French government, in revoking its decrees, that the English orders of council should be also revoked. But England affecting to question the fact of the actual revocation of the French decrees, continued to enforce its orders, stationing vessels-of-war just out the harbors of the United States, searching, and in many instances capturing and condemning American merchant vessels. In the period between 1803 and the close of 1811, nine hundred American vessels had been thus captured.

On the 3d of April, 1812, an act was passed by congress laying an embargo for ninety days on all vessels within the the jurisdiction of the United States. And on the 4th of June following war was declared against Great Britain. The grounds of war alleged were the impressment of American seamen, and the violation of neutral rights. The feeling of the nation was by no means unanimous in favor of the war. It was protested against by a strong minority in congress, as unnecessary, impolitic, and immoral; and was generally condemned by the federal party throughout the country.

Thus the United States were again at war with England. The contest lasted for nearly three years. The limits of this history forbid any thing but a slight sketch of its events.

In the campaign of 1812, nothing of any importance was achieved by land. The invasion of Canada was planned: forces were drawn to the northern frontier of the Union, and naval preparations made upon the lakes. No footing was, however, gained in the British territory; on the contrary, Detroit and all the forts and garrisons in Michigan fell into the hands of the British, together with a considerable force under the command of General Hull, who surrendered without a battle, August 19; and the Americans were repulsed in an attack on Queenstown, and obliged to surrender, October 13. But on the ocean the American arms were more successful. The series of brilliant naval victories which distinguished the war was commenced by the capture of the British frigate Guerriere by the Constitution, Captain Isaac Hull, August 10. This was followed (August 13) by the capture of the Alert by the Essex, Captain Porter; of the Frolic by the Wasp (October 17); of the Macedonian by the United States, Commodore Decatur (October 25); and of the Java by the Constitution, then commanded by Commodore Bainbridge.

On the 4th of March, 1813, Mr. Madison was reelected president. The military operations of this year extended along the whole line of the northern frontier. The Americans were signally defeated at Frenchtown by a body of British and Indians, and five hundred men made prisoners, who were nearly all massacred by the Indians after their surrender. York (now Toronto), the capital of Upper Canada, was taken by the Americans, with a large quantity of military stores. On the 1st of June, this year, the American navy suffered a severe loss in the capture of the fri gate Chesapeake, Captain Lawrence, by the British frigate Shannon. In the engagement, Captain Lawrence and several brave officers were killed. This was followed by the loss of the Argus. These losses were counterbalanced by the capture of the British brig Boxer by the Enterprise, on the 5th of September, and by a brilliant victory gained (September 10) by the fleet on Lake Erie, under the command of Commodore Perry. This made the Americans masters of the lake, and opened the way to Detroit, which was soon after taken; its fall being preceded by the battle of the Thames, in which the British and Indian forces, under the command of General Proctor, were totally defeated by General Harrison. This victory had the effect of putting an end to the Indian war in the northwest, and of giving security to that frontier. The invasion of Canada was again attempted; giving unexpected circumstances concurred to disarrange the plan of operations, and at length the northern army went into winter-quarters, without having effected anything toward the accomplishment of the object. High expectations had been formed of the success of this campaign, and the public disappointment was proportionably great.

At the south, the Creek Indians, instigated by the British, had taken up arms against the United States, and a sanguinary war was carried on in that quarter during the year 1813, and until in the summer of 1814, when General Jackson, having reduced the enemy in several engagements, at length inflicted upon them an almost exterminating defeat at Horseshoe Bend. The remnant of the tribe submitted, and the war was at an end. General Jackson was soon after appointed to the command of the forces at New Orleans.

In the spring of 1814, the American frigate Essex was captured by a superior British force in the bay of Valparaiso. But about the same time, the British brigs Epervier and Reindeer were captured, the former by the United States sloop-of-war Peacock, the latter by the sloop Wasp.

After some ineffectual movements at the north by General Wilkinson, little was attempted by either nation until midsummer, when the British government, free from the burden of the European war by the abdication of Napoleon, .augmented their armies in America by the addition of fourteen thousand of the veteran troops of Wellington, and at the same time sent a strong naval force to blockade the harbors, and ravage the towns upon the coast.

On the 3d of July, General Brown crossed the Niagara river from Buffalo, and took the British fort Erie; and on the 4th, after an obstinate and bloody engagement, gained a victory over the British at Chippewa. On the 25th, was fought the battle of Bridgewater, near the falls of Niagara, one of the most bloody battles of modern times. The British force amounted to nearly five thousand men; the American was one third less. The loss of the English was eight hundred and seventy-eight; of the Americans, eight hundred and sixty. The Americans were left in possession of the field.

About the middle of August, a large British fleet arrived in the Chesapeake bay. Six thousand men, under the command of General Ross, landed and proceeded to Washington, burnt the capitol, the president's house, and the buildings of the executive departments; and then by rapid marches retired to the ships, having lost about one thousand men in the expedition. On the 12th of September, an attack was made on Baltimore; but the place was so gallantly defended by militia and the inhabitants, that the enemy abandoned the attempt. General Ross, the commander-in-chief of the British forces, was among the killed. While the English were thus repulsed from Baltimore, signal success attended the American arms at the north. The naval force of the enemy on Lake Champlain was annihilated by Commodore M'Donough. The engagement took place off Plattsburgh; and while it was raging, Sir George Provost, with a force of fourteen thousand men, commenced an assault on the American works at Plattsburgh; but he met with such a destructive fire from the Americans under General Macomb, that he was compelled to retire, with the loss of twenty-five hundred men, abandoning his military stores, his sick and wounded.

On the 24th of December, a treaty of peace was signed at Ghent. But before its arrival, the last and most memorable battle of the war was fought at New Orleans. On the 8th of January, 1815, the American forces, amounting to about six thousand, chiefly militia, under the command of General Jackson, intrenched before the city, were attacked by fifteen thousand British troops, commanded by Sir Edward Packenham. After three charges, in which they were swept down with incredible slaughter, the British fled in confusion, leaving their dead and wounded on the field of battle. General Packenham was killed while rallying his troops to the second charge; General Gibbs, who succeeded in command, fell mortally wounded in the third charge. The loss of the British in killed was seven hundred; in wounded, fourteen hundred; in prisoners, five hundred: in all, twenty-six hundred. The Americans lost seven killed and six wounded. The joy excited by this victory was merged in the still livelier joy with which the news of the treaty of peace was soon after received. On the 17th of February, the treaty was ratified by the president and senate. This treaty made no allusion to the causes of the war, and settled none of the matters in dispute, and for which it was professedly declared. All parties, however, welcomed the return of peace. At a subsequent convention, signed by plenipotentiaries of the two countries appointed for the purpose, various articles for the regulation of commerce between England and the United States were adopted. Before the expiration of the time within which, by the treaty, all vessels taken by either party were to be held good prizes, several engagements at sea were fought, and several captures made. Among them the American frigate President was captured by a British squadron; and the British ships Cyane, Levant, and Penguin, were taken by the Americans.

At the next session of congress, a bill was passed incorporating the Bank of the United States, with a capital of thirty-five millions of dollars. The charter was to continue in force until the third of March, 1836. This measure was the subject of a very earnest and protracted debate both as to its constitutionality, and as to the principles on which the bank should be established.

Mr. Madison was succeeded in the office of president by James Monroe, March 4, 1817. The country was now at peace, but its condition was by no means prosperous. Commerce had not yet revived, and the manufactures which had been carried on during the war were entirely broken down by the influx of foreign merchandise. In 1818, a war broke out between the Seminoles and the United States, occasioned by the removal of some Indians from lands ceded to the United States by the Creeks in 1814. The Indians were entirely subdued by General Jackson. In 1819, another convention was made between Great Britain and the United States, granting to American citizens the right to fish on the banks of Newfoundland; establishing a portion of the northern boundary; and extending for ten years longer the commercial convention concluded four years before.

A treaty was also this year concluded with Spain, by which East and W est Florida, with the islands adjacent, were ceded to the United States.

On the 4th of March, 1821, Mr. Monroe was unanimously elected to a second term of office. Much less unanimity, however, was displayed in the deliberations of the next congress. Some important commercial acts were passed; revolutionary soldiers were provided for by pensions; and the ratio of population and representation fixed at one representative to forty thousand inhabitants.

The year 1824 is signalized in the annals of the country by a visit from La Fayette, the friend and companion-in-arms of Washington, to whose services in the dark day of the revolutionary war the nation owed so much. He passed about a year in the country, visiting every part of it, and receiving everywhere the most enthusiastic tokens of homage and gratitude. He returned to his own country in a national frigate prepared for the purpose, and named, in honor of him, the Brandywine - the name of the battle in which he was wounded nearly fifty years before. During his visit, congress appropriated two hundred thousand dollars, and a township of land in Florida, as an acknowledgment of his eminent services.

Mr. Monroe retired from office with the respect and good will of all parties. His administration of affairs, both foreign and domestic, had been uninfluenced by party spirit, and characterised by uprightness, prudence, and good sense. The country was everywhere peaceful and prosperous. No choice of a successor to Mr. Monroe having been made by the electors, the choice devolved upon the house of representatives.

On the 4th of March, 1825, John Quincy Adams was inaugurated president of the United States.

Among the noticeable events during this administration, the first to be mentioned is a controversy between the general government and the executive of Georgia, in relation to certain lands held by the Cherokees and Creeks of that state. The general government had agreed to extinguish, for the benefit of Georgia, the Indian title to those lands 'whenever it could be peaceably done, upon reasonable terms.' But the Creeks, at a national council, refused to alienate their territory. After the council had broken up, and a majority of the chiefs had departed, a few who remained were induced to make a treaty, ceding the lands in question to the United States. This treaty was repudiated by the Creek nation. But the governor of Georgia determined to act upon it as valid. To prevent a war, the president ordered General Gaines to repair to the Creek country, for the protection of the Indians; and directed Governor Troup of Georgia to suspend his intended measures. Congress approved the course of the president; and at length a treaty was formed with the Creeks, which gave satisfaction to all parties except the state of Georgia.

The most important among the measures which occupied the first session of the twentieth congress, was the revision of the tariff, with a view to afford protection to American manufactures. The principle of a protective tariff was warmly opposed by the south, and by a large portion of the commercial body at the north; while the details of the bill which was passed were far from satisfactory to the friends of protection.

During Mr. Adams' administration the prosperity of the United States had increased to an unexampled height. Agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, were every where flourishing. The public debt which at the close of the war, amounted to nearly one hundred and fifty millions of dollars, was almost extinguished. The annual revenue largely exceeded the demands of the government; and at the close of Mr. Adams' term, there was a surplus of more than five millions in the treasury.

On the 4th of March, 1829, Andrew Jackson was inaugurated president of the United States.

Among the most important measures which engaged the attention of the twenty-first congress, were, the modification of the tariff; Indian affairs; internal improvements; and the renewal of the charter of the United States bank. It was not until 1832 that a memorial came before congress for the renewal of the charter of the United States bank. A bill to that effect passed both houses of congress; but on the 10th of July it was returned by the president with objections. The policy of making appropriations for internal improvements was adopted during Mr. Jefferson's term of office, and had continued through all succeeding administrations. To this policy General Jackson was opposed, and accordingly returned, with his veto, several bills making such appropriations. In 1832, the hostility of the south to the protective tariff assumed in South Carolina an attitude dangerous to the peace of the country. A convention of delegates assembled at Columbia, November 24; pronounced the acts of congress imposing duties for protection unconstitutional, and of no binding force in that state; and that it was the duty of the state legislature to pass laws to prevent the payment or enforcement of such duties. The remedy thus proposed received the name of nullification. President Jackson immediately issued a proclamation, containing an admirable exposition of the principles and powers of the general government, and expressing a firm determination to maintain the laws. This only increased the exasperation in South Carolina: the governor of the state, by the authority of the legislature, issued a counter-proclamation, urging the people to be faithful to their primary allegiance to the state, and to resist the general government in any attempt to enforce the tariff laws. General orders were also issued to raise volunteers for repelling invasion, and supporting the rights of the state. General Jackson hereupon addressed a message to congress recommending such measures as would enable the executive to suppress the spirit of insubordination, and sustain the laws of the United States.

Everything thus betokened a civil war. But an appeal to South Carolina by the general assembly of Virginia, and the passage of a bill modifying the tariff (introduced by Henry Clay, and commonly known as the compromise act), joined with a manifestation of firmness and energy on the part of the executive, served to allay the ferment in South Carolina, and led to a repeal of the nullifying ordinances.

On the 4th of March, 1833, Andrew Jackson entered on a second term of office. The charter of the United States bank being about to expire, the president who had before expressed to Congress his doubts of the expediency of continuing that institution the depositary of the funds of the United States, directed the secretary of the treasury, Mr. Duane, to remove the government deposits from the bank. This Mr. Duane declined to do. He was immediately removed from office by the president; and Mr. Taney was appointed in his place, by whom the deposits were removed, and placed in the custody of several State banks. This measure was strongly censured by a resolution which passed the senate, June 9, 1834.

The country was now disturbed with serious apprehensions of a collision with France. By a treaty, negotiated in 1831, by Mr. Rives, the French government had agreed to make indemnity for spoliations committed on American commerce during the reign of Napoleon; but it had failed to fulfill its stipulations. In December, 1834, the president recommended reprisals upon French commerce. This was deemed by Congress not expedient at present. Happily, however, the danger of hostile collision was removed in the course of the next year by the action of the French government in making provision to fulfill its stipulations.

The most important act of the first session of the twenty-fourth Congress, which began December 7th, 1835, was a law directing the deposit, under certain regulations, of the moneys of the United States in several of the State banks, and distributing the surplus revenue among the several States.

In December, 1835, one of the most destructive fires on record occurred in the city of New York. The amount of property destroyed is computed not to have fallen much short of twenty millions of dollars, without estimating the injury and loss from suspension and derangement of business.

Near the close of this year, the Seminole Indians, refusing to remove from Florida to the lands appropriated for them west of the Mississippi, the country became involved in a war with them; and it was not until 1842 that they were finally subdued and sent west.

On the 11th of July, 1836, the receivers of public money were instruct ed, by a circular from the treasury department, to receive nothing but gold and silver in payment for public lands.

On the 16th of January, 1837, the expunging resolution ' (so called) introduced by Mr. Benton, passed the senate by a small majority. By this act the resolution of the senate passed June 9, 1834 - censuring the president for removing Mr. Duane, and ordering the withdrawal of the United States deposits from the bank of the United States - was expunged from the journal of the senate. Against this proceeding, Mr. Webster, of Massachusetts, in behalf of himself and his colleagues, read a solemn protest.

On the 4th of March, 1837, Martin Van Buren became president of the United States. Mr. Van Buren's administration was, in its general policy, a continuation of that of his predecessor. Scarcely, however, had he entered upon office, when the country was overwhelmed by one of the most severe commercial revulsions ever known. For several years previous, the wildest spirit of speculation had prevailed throughout the country. Vast public works were undertaken by States and chartered companies; immense importations of foreign goods were made; and real estate, especially lots in cities and towns, went up a hundred fold beyond its intrinsic value. The multitude of state banks that had been chartered, after the expiration of the charter of the United States bank, and the consequent excessive expansion of the paper currency, had contributed to increase the spirit of speculation. At length a crisis came; and the revulsion was proportionately severe. Some idea of it may be formed from the fact that a list of failures in the city of New York (including only the more considerable, and omitting hundreds of less, importance), shows a total amount of more than sixty millions of dollars. All credit, all confidence was at an end. On the 10th of May, all the banks of the city of New York suspended specie payments, and the suspension became general throughout the country. The general government became involved in the universal embarrassment - the banks in which its deposits were placed having stopped in the general suspension. The government still insisted, however, upon all portages and duties being paid in specie or its equivalent, and even refused its own checks and drafts when offered in payment of custom-house bonds. In this state of things, the president convoked an extra session of Congress, which began on the 4th of September. Agreeably to the recommendation of the executive, as measures for the immediate relief of the general government, Congress passed a law postponing to the 1st of January, 1839, the payment to the States of the fourth installment of the surplus revenue; and authorizing the issue of ten millions of treasury notes, to be receivable in payment of public dues. The president also recommended the separation of the fiscal operations of the government from those of corporations or individuals.' A bill in accordance with this recommendation - commonly called the sub-treasury bill, placing the public money in the hands of certain receivers-general, subject to the order and control of the treasurer of the United States - passed the senate, but was lost in the house.

At the next regular session of congress (December, 1837 - July, 1838), a reissue of treasury notes was authorized. The sub-treasury system was again urged upon the attention of congress, but was not adopted. On the 13th of August, 1838, the banks throughout the country generally resumed specie payments: but in October following, the banks of Philadelphia again suspended, and their example was followed by the banks in Pennsylvania, and in all the states south and west. The banks of New

York and New England continued to pay specie. The twenty-sixth congress commenced its first session December 2d, 1839. Among its acts, two only need be mentioned: one for taking the sixth census of the United States; the other, 'for the collection, safe keeping, transfer, and disbursement, of the public revenue' - being the sub-treasury system so earnestly recommended by the president. At the second session of this congress, nothing was done of sufficient importance to find a place in this sketch.

The administration of Mr Van Buren was drawing to a close. He was a candidate for reelection; William Henry Harrison, of Ohio, was the candidate of the opposition. After a contest unprecedented for intensity of political excitement, Mr. Van Buren was defeated.

On the 4th of March, 1841, William Henry Harrison was inaugurated president of the United States. Scarcely had the new president entered upon his office, and organized his administration by the appointment of his cabinet, when he was stricken with sickness; and on the 4th April, one month from the day of his inauguration, he expired. 'In death, as in life, the happiness of his country was uppermost in his thoughts.'

By the death of General Harrison, John Tyler, of Virginia, the vice president, became, according to the constitution, president of the United States. The passage of a general bankrupt law was one of the earliest measures passed by congress. This law was, however, subsequently repealed. The tariff was modified with a view to further protection of American industry.

Among the most memorable events of this administration is the treaty of Washington, concluded in September, 1842, between Great Britain and the United States, by Lord Ashburton and Daniel Webster, by which the differences about the boundary line between Maine and Lower Canada, long a matter of dispute and ill-blood, were amicably and satisfactorily adjusted.

The disturbances in Rhode Island are a less agreeable subject of record; though happily the apprehensions they excited have been dispelled. In 1841, a convention of inhabitants of Rhode Island framed a new constitution, giving the right of suffrage (which under the existing government was extremely limited) to all free white inhabitants; and proceeded to organize a new government under this constitution. They elected a legislative body, and chose Thomas W. Dorr governor of the state. All these proceedings were considered as unlawful and revolutionary by those opposed to them, inasmuch as they had taken place without any legal warrant, and without being in any way initiated by the lawful and actual government. A civil war seemed inevitable. The legal government ap plied to the president of the United States, who detached several companies of troops to Newport to await events. Dorr mustered a considerable force of armed men, with two pieces of artillery, and made an ineffectual attempt to gain possession of the arsenal at Providence. Shortly after, he took a position at Chepachet, where his force was increased by volunteers from New York and other states. Upon the approach of a body of the state militia, under General M'Neil, Dorr and his party broke ground and fled, June 25th 1842. His government fell to pieces.

On the 4th of March, 1845, James K. Polk was inaugurated president. The most important event of this year was the voluntary annexation of Texas to the American Union. In 1846, a war broke out between Mexico and the United States. A rapid succession of brilliant victories by the troops under Generals Taylor and Scott, soon placed the capital and all the strongholds of Mexico in the hands of the victors; but the power to dictate the terms of a peace were used with moderation. The government of the United States assumed the payment of all the claims of its own citizens against Mexico, and agreed to pay $15,000,000 for a boundary line beginning at the mouth of the Rio Grande, then up that stream to the southern boundary of New Mexico, then across to the river Gila, and down to its mouth; with free navigation to the Gulf of California, and thence across to the Pacific. The treaty was concluded May 30th, 1848. In the same year gold was first discovered in the newly-acquired territory of California.

On the 4th of March, 1849, Gen. Zachary Taylor was inaugurated president of the United States. He died in July, 1850, and was succeed ed by the vice-president, Millard Fillmore. In September, 1850, California was admitted into the Union. On the 4th of March, 1853, Franklin Pierce was inaugurated president. The 'Gadsden Treaty,' by which the Mesilla Valley was acquired from Mexico, was made Dec. 30, in the same year. By act of June 29, 1854, $10,000,000 were appropriated to carry out the treaty; $7,000,000 to be paid upon exchange of ratifications, and $3,000,000 as soon as the boundary line should be surveyed and established.

Thus have been briefly sketched the leading events, political and civil, of the history of the United States, from the first feeble and scattered colonial establishments to the formation of a great and prosperous nation. The great problem of the possibility of a permanent and well-ordered republic, on so extensive a scale, doubtless yet remains to be solved. It depends on the INTELLIGENCE and VIRTUE of the people, whether it shall be solved as the friends of free institutions desire., Theoretically the most perfect of all forms of human government, it requires, beyond any other, the presence of these conditions to preserve it from becoming practically the worst.