186. A Famous Party Leader. Stephen A. Douglas was born in Vermont in 1813. When old enough, he worked on a farm in summer, and went to school in winter. At fifteen he was learning a trade. He saved his money, and at seventeen he was studying in the academy at Brandon.
After a year he followed his family to Canandaigua, New York, where he entered its famous old academy. He remained two years. During this time he was studying law in the office of a prominent lawyer.
In the debating clubs, Douglas was a leader. Before his fellow students he had an easy flow of forcible language. The boys all liked him. He was small, but he was full of life, good-natured, and took things in an enthusiastic way.
Finally he left Canandaigua to go to the "Far West," there to carve out his fortune. He went to Cleveland, Cincinnati, Louisville, and St. Louis. From St. Louis, he made his way to Winchester, Illinois.
Here he was in a strange town, without money and without friends. He saw a crowd in the public square. A sale was going on, but there was no one to act as clerk. Douglas offered himself, and acted as clerk for three days, and earned six dollars.
Douglas decided to teach school. He went around with a paper and the parents of forty children signed it, at three dollars apiece.
While teaching, he studied law, and was admitted to practice in p355 1834. Before he was twenty-two, the legislature elected him attorney-general of the state. He was, in turn, a member of the state legislature, secretary of state for Illinois, and judge of the supreme court, all before he was twenty-eight.
He was a member of Congress at thirty, and a United States Senator at thirty-four. He was a candidate before the Democratic National Convention for President in 1852, and again in 1856.
187. A Great Debater. Few men in America have had a more rapid rise in politics than Stephen A. Douglas. This was partly due to his power as a public speaker. He loved the rough and tumble ways of the campaign orator. He was the greatest off-hand debater in America.
Douglas was a short man, below the usual height. But he was broad-shouldered and big-chested. His head was large, and was set upon a stout, strong neck. His jaw was square and his chin broad. His eyes were piercing. He had long, dark hair, and when in debate, he shook it like a lion's mane. His whole body was compact and strong. He was truly called a "Little Giant."
Douglas threw himself into debate, body as well as mind. His eloquence was like a mighty roaring stream, sweeping men off their feet before they had time to think.
Douglas's aim in debate was to win. When he was right, his words were like bullets that went straight to the mark. Yet no one excelled him in making his audience see as he saw. No man so well as Douglas could make the worse appear the better reason.
He was a master debater in the Senate of the United States. Not a man in that body of debaters would willingly and wantonly provoke him to a contest.
This was Douglas in 1854, when he introduced for the committee on territories the famous Kansas-Nebraska bill, repealing p356 the Missouri Compromise, and leaving the people of a territory to decide for or against slavery, as they pleased. This bill was carried through both the Senate and the House of Representatives by the hardest kind of fighting. The anti-slavery men in each party were against it. They joined hands, and formed the Republican party.
Douglas had destroyed one party, the Whig, and had made another. His own party, the Democratic, was badly shaken. No such political changes had ever taken place in so short a time in American history.
In 1852, the anti-slavery vote for President was slightly more than one hundred fifty thousand, while in 1856, it went beyond a million two hundred fifty thousand.
Douglas was now the most unpopular man in the whole North. He went home to Chicago. No cannon boomed a welcome. No long lines of marching men greeted him. The flags were at half mast. The church bells tolled as if calling the people to a funeral. Chicago had not been acting this way. Her people were angry with Douglas on account of the Kansas-Nebraska bill.
The hall in which Douglas spoke was overflowing, but the p357 people were silent. He tried to explain his bill. Some one talked back at him. But he was used to that. Then hisses and groans came thick and fast and drowned him out. Four long hours he fought to be heard. At last, tired out, Douglas gave up the contest. Chicago was largely anti-slavery.
Later Douglas quarreled with President Buchanan over Kansas. Buchanan declared the slavery constitution of Kansas was the true constitution. This Douglas denied, because, he said, the people of Kansas had not been given a fair chance to vote on it. Through this quarrel he again won his way to the hearts of the people of Illinois.
The people of the slave states did not like the way in which Douglas made answer to Lincoln's question about keeping slavery out of a territory. The southern delegates refused to vote for him in the National Democratic Convention at Charleston, in 1860, and left the convention. A few weeks later the convention again met at Baltimore. The southern men again refused to stand by Douglas, and nominated Breckenridge of Kentucky for President, a man who favored slavery. But the Northern Democrats nominated p358 their idol, Stephen A. Douglas. The Republicans met in National Convention at Chicago and nominated Abraham Lincoln.
The November elections went in favor of the Republicans. Already South Carolina and other states were talking of secession. Douglas had a month to speak in the North, but recalled his engagements and made a trip to the South. He denied that any state had the right of secession, the right to dissolve the Union: "I think the President . . . should treat all attempts to break up the Union . . . as Old Hickory treated the nullifiers in 1832."
In the Senate, after his defeat for the Presidency, Douglas engaged the slave-holding senators in furious debate. In his anger, one asked Douglas what he would advise the new President to do. "I do not choose," said Douglas, "to proclaim what my policy would be in view of the fact that the Senator does not regard himself as the guardian of the honor and interests of my country."
189. Douglas Stands for the Union. When President Lincoln stood up to read his great inaugural address to the thousands who came to hear it, Stephen A. Douglas, his old rival, stood by his side, holding Lincoln's hat, and speaking words of praise.
That night at the ball in honor of President Lincoln, Douglas swept down the great hall with Mrs. Lincoln on his arm, as if to say to all men: "I am standing by the President."
When the news came of the fall of Fort Sumter, Douglas made a long visit to his former antagonist in the White House. On the p359 morrow went forth Lincoln's call for seventy-five thousand men. At the same time, Douglas sent a message to the people of the country pledging himself to stand by President Lincoln in his attempt to "preserve the Union, and maintain the government, and defend the Federal capital." That message was a bugle call to the million three hundred thousand Democrats who followed Douglas to political death in the campaign of 1860. He was their idol. How nobly they answered that call!
Douglas went back to Illinois, and was given a reception by the Republican legislature, such as would have made glad the heart of any man. He spoke to friends and neighbors — to Union men. Nearly everybody in the North was wildly enthusiastic for the Union.
Again Douglas went home to Chicago and in the great hall in which Lincoln had been nominated, he spoke for the Union to ten thousand people. Now indeed they were his own neighbors.
In a few days the telegraph sent the news that he was dead. He left a "last will and testament" to his two boys, who were at college and who were unable to reach home: "Stand by the Constitution and the Union."
He died as he had lived, loving his country first, as truly in defeat as in victory. On the shores of Lake Michigan, in the great city of Chicago, the people have built a stately monument to the memory of Stephen A. Douglas.
190. The Backwoodsman Who Became President. Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky, February 12, 1809. His parents were so poor that they hardly knew that they were poor. When he was seven years old, his family crossed the Ohio River and settled in Indiana, which was a new state where there were many things to do.
They found a place in the deep, dark forest, in the southern part of the state, and began to build a cabin for a home. Abe was an industrious little fellow and worked hard to help build it. It was not much of a house — only fourteen feet square. One side was left out and here they built the fire. It was not very warm in winter and not very cool in summer. The hard ground was the floor.
The father was a sort of carpenter, and out of rough timbers he made the table on which they ate, and the three-legged stools on which they sat. He also made the bedsteads, which consisted of poles driven into the wall. What more did they need?
In the loft of the cabin Abe made himself a bed of leaves. Every night he climbed into the loft by means of wooden pins driven into the wall. He was busy helping cut down trees and burning them to make room for a patch of corn and pumpkins.
The lad and his sister roasted the ears of young corn over the fire. The ripe corn was ground into meal from which corn bread was made. This was baked in the ashes or on a board in front of a bed of red-hot coals.
The woods, great thick woods for miles on all sides of them, were broken only here and there by a "clearing." In these forests p361 Abe went hunting with a gun on his shoulder. He often came back laden with squirrels, wild turkeys, and other game.
They were living in the cabin when Abe's mother sickened and died. He was broken-hearted. She had taught him what little he knew. Her last words to him were: "Try to live as I have taught you and to love your Heavenly Father."
Many years after, when he became famous, he said: "all that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." She was put in a coffin roughly cut out of logs by the same tools that had made their furniture, and laid to rest in a corner of the clearing. Long years afterward a good man put a stone over the grave, with this inscription: "Nancy Hanks Lincoln, the mother of President Lincoln, died October 5, A.D. 1818, aged 35 years."
After a year his father went back to Kentucky to look about for a wife. He found a widow, named Sarah Bush Johnston, and married her. He had known her before he met Nancy Hanks. She was thrifty and industrious, and her bedding and other household goods filled a four-horse wagon.
Before winter came she made her husband put a good floor, and a door, and windows in the cabin. She took charge of Abe and his sister, and made them "look a little more human." She put good clothes on the children and put them to sleep in comfortable beds.
191. Lincoln Educates Himself. Schools were scarce in that new country, and Abe never had more than a year at school. His stepmother encouraged him in every way to study at home. p362 When Abe got a taste for reading, it was hard to satisfy it. He read the Bible, "Æsop's Fables," "Robinson Crusoe," "Pilgrim's Progress," a History of the United States, and Weem's "Life of Washington." He borrowed the "Revised Statutes of Indiana." These were all solid books, good for a young boy to read. When a sentence pleased him, he read it, and re-read it. If he did not own the book, he took many notes, filling his copy book with choice sentences.
John Hanks, a boy brought up with Lincoln, says: "When Abe and I returned to the house from work, he would go to the cupboard, snatch a piece of corn bread, sit down, take a book, cock his legs up as high as his head, and read." He read, wrote, and ciphered incessantly.
Young Lincoln was soon able to do a "man's labor," although only a boy. He was strong and powerful, and a great favorite. In that family of brothers, sisters, and cousins, his good-natured jokes and stories kept peace. Abe was the great story-teller of the family.
At the age of nineteen Lincoln reached his full height of six feet four inches. By that time he had read every book he could find, and could "spell down" the whole country. "He could sink an axe deeper into the wood than any man I ever saw," said a neighbor.
When Abe was twenty-one, the entire family started for Illinois. Along forest roads, and across muddy prairies, for two weeks they traveled till they came to the Sangamon River.
p363 They built a cabin on the north fork of the river. With the help of John Hanks, young Lincoln plowed fifteen acres, planted it in corn, and split the rails from the tall walnut trees on the ground and fenced it.
192. Tries to be a Business Man. The next year he was hired to take a flatboat to New Orleans. The boat was loaded with hogs, pork, and corn. The wages of the trip were fifty cents a day, and twenty dollars besides for each man.
They "poled" and rowed their slow way down the Ohio and the Mississippi. At New Orleans, Lincoln first saw a slave auction. He saw men and women sold. As he turned away he said to a friend: "If ever I get a chance to hit that thing, I'll hit it hard." He did not then dream of the mighty blow he would one day strike. After his return from New Orleans, he became a clerk in a store.
One day a woman gave Lincoln six cents too much. That very evening he walked several miles to find her and give back the money. At another time Lincoln found that he had not given a woman as much tea as she paid for. He went in search for her and gave her the rest of the tea.
About this time Lincoln joined a company of soldiers going to the Black Hawk War. An Indian chief named Black Hawk was on the "war path." All the frontier was up in arms against him and his band of braves.
Lincoln was well pleased when nearly all the men in his company p364 walked over and stood by his side. This was their way of electing a captain. No election in later days gave him greater pleasure.
Little fighting was done by Lincoln's company, but sitting around the camp fires in the evening, he became famous as a story-teller, and he made many friends.
193. Makes a Success in Politics. On his return from the war, though he was only twenty-three years old, he became a candidate for the state legislature, but was defeated.
A little later he was again a candidate. This time he won. After the election, he said to a friend: "Did you vote for me?" "I did," replied the man. "Then you must lend me two hundred dollars." Lincoln needed a suit of clothes and money to pay the expenses for traveling in a stage coach to the capital!
In 1837 the legislature passed a set of resolutions in favor of slavery and condemning the Abolitionists. Lincoln could not stand this. He and one other man signed a protest declaring that slavery was founded on "injustice and bad policy."
Lincoln was reëlected to the legislature seven times. He generally got more votes than other men on the ticket because the people liked his quaint sayings and his unpretending manner.
In the meantime, after three or four years of study, he was given a license to practice law. He made it a rule never to take a case which he believed to be wrong. He was a successful lawyer but the road to fame by way of the law was a slow one. It gave Lincoln a chance to engage in politics, as we have already seen.
He liked "stump speaking." He liked to go about the country from one speaking place to another, or to travel from one county to another to meet the different sessions of the courts. He spoke for what he believed to be the truth. He was always in earnest, and made his hearers feel that he was sincere.
p365 In 1840 he was one of Harrison's orators, and in 1844 he threw all his power and influence in favor of Henry Clay, his favorite among the great men, for the Presidency.
In 1846 the Whigs of Springfield, where he was then living, put Lincoln forward for Congress, and succeeded in getting him elected. He was not in favor of the war with Mexico, then going on, and was not selected to run again. Lincoln returned to Springfield, and began the practice of law with greater success than ever before.
When Senator Douglas of Illinois, in 1854, carried the Kansas-Nebraska Bill through Congress, anti-slavery men all over the nation raised a storm of indignation. This bill repealed the Missouri Compromise, which had stood for thirty years, and threw the territories open to slavery.
Douglas spoke at the state fair, held in Springfield. He tried to explain why he favored the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. Lincoln made a speech four hours in length, ably answering the argument of Douglas. This speech made him the champion for the anti-slavery people in the state against Douglas.
The same question was fought out between them at Peoria, a little later. Again Lincoln met Douglas's arguments. People began to talk of Lincoln as the next United States Senator. More and more, popular opinion in the state began to turn toward Lincoln. Accordingly, in 1858, at Springfield, the Republicans in convention named Lincoln for United States Senator. He made a speech to the Republicans, in which he said that this country can not remain half slave and half free — that it must become all slave or all free.
This called every man to face a new question. No greater question could be raised. Some friends of Lincoln pleaded with p366 him not to say that the country could not remain half slave and half free. "I had rather be defeated with that expression in my speech than to be victorious without it," said Lincoln.
194. The Lincoln-Douglas Debates. Douglas attacked this speech and Lincoln challenged him to hold several joint debates before the people of Illinois. Seven debates were arranged, in which Douglas insisted upon opening and closing four.
The people of Illinois were mainly farmers in 1858. They traveled long distances to hear these giants debate the question of slavery. Some of them were several days coming and going — in wagons, on horseback, or on foot. The great newspapers in the larger cities sent men to listen to these debates, and take down the very words used by Lincoln and Douglas. The editors of these papers knew that the people were anxiously waiting to read what these men had to say about slavery.
"Can the people of a territory get rid of slavery?' Lincoln asked. "Yes," said Douglas. That was a fatal answer. Douglas by this answer lost the support of the Democrats of the South, although he held the Democrats of Illinois. He could still be Senator, but he could never be President.
The debates went on. "I do not understand," said Lincoln, "that because the white man is to have the superior position, that the negro should be denied everything . . . There is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to all the natural rights [named] in the Declaration of Independence . . . I agree with Judge Douglas, he [the negro] is not my equal in many respects — certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral and intellectual endowments. But, in the right to eat the bread, without the leave of anybody else, which his own hands have earned, he is my equal, the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of any living man."
p367 These debates made Lincoln widely known. He accepted invitations to speak in Ohio, New York, and New England.
In May, 1860, the Republicans of Illinois met in state convention. Lincoln was there. The people picked him up, lifted him over their heads, and placed him on the platform. The cheering was loud. Just at this moment John Hanks came into the hall carrying two fence rails, with the stars and stripes mounted between them, bearing in large words the following: "Taken from a lot made by Abraham Lincoln and John Hanks in the Sangamon Bottom in the year 1830." The people stood up and cheered, and threw their hats high and shouted for Lincoln, the "rail-splitter." He made them a speech. The convention then and there named him as the choice of the Republican party of Illinois for the next President of the United States.
195. Lincoln President. A few weeks later Abraham Lincoln was nominated in Chicago by the National Convention of the Republican party for the Presidency. Just as the passage of Douglas's Kansas-Nebraska Bill killed the old Whig party, so the debates between Lincoln and Douglas split the Democratic party into a Northern and a Southern wing.
p368 Douglas was nominated by the Northern wing, and Breckenridge by the Southern wing. This division in the Democratic party resulted in the election of Lincoln to the Presidency, in November, 1860.
During the fall and winter, seven Southern states left the Union, and set up a government called the "Confederate States of America." They had their government all in running order before Lincoln left Springfield.
In February, 1861, Lincoln said good-by to the people of Springfield, and started for Washington to take his seat as President. The people were bound to see him and hear his voice and shake his hand. Along the route there were cheers, bonfires, and military parades with miles of marching men. At Philadelphia, he raised a flag over Independence Hall. He made a touching speech in regard to the men of the Revolution who had sat in that hall, and pledged himself to abide by the principles of the Declaration of Independence.
On March 4, with soldiers guarding the capital, Lincoln read his inaugural address and took the oath of office which all Presidents before him had taken. This speech was listened to with the greatest interest. It was now plain to everybody that Lincoln meant to fight, if fighting were necessary to save the Union.
p369 In April Confederates fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. After awful hardships, Colonel Anderson and his men surrendered the fort to the Confederate troops.
Lincoln immediately sent forth the call for seventy-five thousand men. War had come — civil war, the most dreadful kind of war. Four more states left the Union, and joined the "Confederate States." But the slave states of Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri remained with the Union. Lincoln made it a war to save the Union and not a war to get rid of slavery. The great majority at the North were willing to fight for the Union which Jackson, Webster, and Clay had done so much to save.
But the slavery question would keep coming up. The Confederates used the slaves to build forts, cook for the army, and to do other work. Thus the slave took the place of the white soldier. Other slaves raised food supplies and cared for the women. In this way the slaves were constantly being used to help fight against the Union.
The time had come to destroy slavery. Lincoln now saw that by freeing the slaves he could strike a heavy blow at the Confederacy. So as Commander-in‑chief of the Union armies, he issued the Proclamation of Emancipation January 1, 1863.
The war, however, continued more than two years longer. The long list of dead and wounded on both sides saddened Lincoln. Day by day the lines in his kindly face grew deeper.
p370 Finally the news came that General Grant had hammered General Lee's lines to pieces, and that Jefferson Davis and his cabinet were leaving Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy.
Early in April President Lincoln went to visit Richmond. He saw a city on fire, and a mob breaking into houses.
Grant was pursuing Lee's army. He overtook it, and on April 8 offered terms of surrender. Lee accepted. The President's heart was filled with gratitude that no more lives were to be sacrificed on either side.
196. President Lincoln Assassinated. The evening on April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to Ford's Theater in Washington to rest his body and mind. As he sat in a box, John Wilkes Booth, an actor, shot him in the back of the head. Booth sprang upon the stage, flourished his revolver, and escaped.
Abraham Lincoln died the next day. Thus the nation lost a great man. He was truly a man "with malice toward none, with charity for all."
Many monuments have been built to honor the name of this great man. The most unique one is in Edinburg, Scotland — it is a life size statue with one holding the Emancipation Proclamation and with the other striking the chains from a half-rising slave. The largest memorial is at Springfield, Illinois, home of Lincoln and where he lies buried. One of the most celebrated is the St. Gaudens statue in Lincoln Park, Chicago.
The Leading Facts. 1. Douglas worked on a farm, and wen to school in winter. 2. Went to Canandaigua, New York; formed a debating club; went West. 3. He stopped at Winchester, Ill., taught school, then studied law, and was Attorney-General of the state at twenty-one. 4. Douglas was rapidly promoted until he was finally made a Senator. 5. A great debater. Was author of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. 6. Douglas joined in debate for the senatorship. 7. The South, dissatisfied with Douglas, split the Democratic Party, elected Lincoln, and left the Union. 8. Douglas stood bravely by Lincoln until his death. 9. Lincoln, born of poor parents in the state of Kentucky, went over to Indiana at seven years of age. 10. Helped build a cabin, cleared the forests, and went hunting. 11. Lincoln lost his mother, and his father married again. 12. Had little schooling, but read a few books very thoroughly. 13. Very powerful at twenty-one; could "spell down" the whole country. 14. Moved to Illinois; went to New Orleans, and saw a slave auction. 15. Lincoln was elected Captain in Black Hawk War; elected to legislature for four terms. 16. Elected to Congress one term. Attacked Douglas for Kansas-Nebraska Bill. 17. Lincoln and Douglas held joint debates. Douglas displeased the South. 18. Lincoln was elected President, the South seceded, and Douglas stood by the Union. 19. Lincoln issued Emancipation Proclamation. 20. He visited Richmond after its fall; returned to Washington; was assassinated.
Study Questions. 1. What early traits did Douglas show? 2. Why did the Canandaigua boys like Douglas? 3. What sort of a town was St. Louis in 1833? 4. Why were the people pleased with Douglas? 5. Tell the story of his rapid rise in politics. 6. How could debate cause Douglas to rise? 7. Picture Douglas in debate. 8. Why were people of the North opposed to the Kansas-Nebraska bill? 9. What changes in politics were caused by the bill? 10. Picture Douglas in Chicago. 11. Why, in 1860, did the South refuse to vote for Douglas? 12. Tell the story of Douglas's stand for the Union.
13. Describe Lincoln's early surroundings. 14. Picture Abe and his sister. 15. How did Abe help get their meat? 16. What did he owe to his mother? 17. What did Abe's new mother do for him? 18. What books did Abe read and how did he read them? 19. Why was Abe liked in the family? 20. How tall was Lincoln? 21. What did he do soon after going to Illinois? 22. What did he see in New Orleans that was new to him? 23. Prove Lincoln was honest. 24. How old was Lincoln when he ran for the legislature? 25. Tell the story of Lincoln's experiences in running for the legislature. 26. Why did Lincoln love public speaking? 27. How did Lincoln become the p372 champion speaker against Douglas? 28. What new declaration did Lincoln make in his Springfield speech? 29. Why did Lincoln challenge Douglas? 30. What was the fatal question put to Douglas by Lincoln? 31. To what rights did Lincoln say the black man is entitled? 32. Picture the scene in the state Convention of 1860. 33. Why was Lincoln elected? 34. Give an account of the demonstrations made in honor of Lincoln. 35. What kind of a war did Lincoln make of the Civil War? 36. Why would the question of slavery keep coming up? 37. Tell the story of his visit to Richmond. 38. How did the nation feel over Lincoln's death? 39. How has he been honored?
Suggested Readings. Stephen A. Douglas: Brown, Stephen A. Douglas; The Reminiscences of Carl Schurz, II, 29‑38; Flint, Life of Stephen A. Douglas, 16‑222.
Abraham Lincoln: Baldwin, Four Great Americans, 187‑246; McMurry, Pioneers of the Mississippi Valley, 170‑184; Wright, Children's Stories of American Progress, 159‑178, 299‑327; Brooks, Century Book of Famous Americans, 193‑210; Hart and Stevens, Romance of the Civil War, 1‑112; Bolton, Lives of Poor Boys Who Became Famous, 342‑367; Mabie, Heroes Every Child Should Know, 309‑319; Nicolay, Boys' Life of Abraham Lincoln; Coffin, Abraham Lincoln.
196. A Poor Boy Becomes a Great Man. Ulysses Simpson Grant was born in 1822 in Ohio, at a place called Point Pleasant. His parents removed the next year to Georgetown, Ohio, where they lived for a long time.
Young Grant went to the subscription school, but was taught little besides reading, writing, and arithmetic. He did not like the leather business — his father's occupation — but did enjoy farm work, because horses were used there.
At eight he hauled the wood needed at home and in the leather factory, and at eleven he was able to plow. This work he enjoyed a great deal.
As he was growing up, there was plenty of fun, such as fishing and swimming in the summer, and skating and sleighing in the winter.
p373 He liked to travel. When the news came that he had been appointed a cadet at West Point, the only reason he saw for going was that it gave him a chance to travel.
He enjoyed his steamboat ride to Pittsburg and the canal boat ride to Harrisburg. Here young Grant saw railroad cars for the first time. He rode to Philadelphia at the rate of twelve miles an hour. He was not in a hurry, and went slowly to New York, and then on to West Point.
Grant did not enjoy West Point. He was there because his father wanted him there; but military life had no charms for him then. He did like mathematics, however.
When his four years at West Point were over he wanted to be in the cavalry, not forgetting his early days on the farm. But he had no chance, as the boys with better scholarship were given the cavalry positions.
Lieutenant Grant fought in the Mexican War, under General Taylor, from the Rio Grande to Buena Vista, 1847. Just before the Battle of Buena Vista, Grant was transferred to General Scott's command, which marched against the Mexican capital.
Lieutenant Grant entered the city of Mexico with General Scott. No foreign soldier had set foot in the "Halls of the Montezumas" since the days of the great Cortés, more than three hundred years before.
After peace was made Lieutenant Grant went with his regiment to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama. Not long p374 after he went to Fort Vancouver, on the Columbia River, in Oregon Territory. While on the Pacific slope Grant was made captain and given charge of a company. But he was far from home, so he resigned and went back to his family.
He tried farming near St. Louis, but fell sick. He sold the farm and went into the real estate business, but this business did not pay. He sailed out again, and went to Galena, Illinois, to be a clerk in his father's store. Here he was living when the Civil War broke out in 1861.
197. Grant Answers Lincoln's Call. When Lincoln's call for seventy-five thousand men reached Galena, all business was stopped. There were no party divisions. That evening the court house was packed. Grant was chairman of the meeting. It was new business for him, and he had to be told what to do.
A company was raised on the spot. The women of Galena made the uniforms. Grant went to Springfield. The governor put him to work getting soldiers ready for the war.
After a time, he was made colonel of a regiment, and soon had it in a fine state of discipline.
He rose rapidly from a colonel of a regiment to a brigadier-general in command of several regiments, and then was made major-general in command of an army.
While General Grant was at Cairo, he planned the expedition against Fort Henry on the Tennessee and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland. These two places were less than ten miles apart. With the help of Commodore Foote and his gunboats, he easily captured Fort Henry.
Then came the attempt on Fort Donelson. It was a harder task, because the fort was defended by many more men. The Confederates tried to break through the right wing of Grant's p375 army, but were driven back. This failure made them think of surrender. Replying to a request for the terms of surrender, General Grant wrote: "No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender . . . I propose to move immediately upon your works."
The surrender of Forts Donelson and Henry forced the Confederates to give up the line extending through Columbus and Fort Donelson to Cumberland Gap. The Confederate line of defense now extended from Memphis, through Corinth, to Chattanooga. This was the first great blow that the Confederacy received. General Grant was a hero in the eyes of the North.
Grant now pushed on south to Pittsburg Landing, where the Confederates from Corinth, Mississippi, under Albert Sidney Johnston, attacked him furiously. At the end of the first day's fight, Grant's men were beaten back •a mile and a half toward the Tennessee. That night General Buell brought reënforcements, and on the next day the Confederates were defeated. The Union army lost the larger number of men. The Confederates were saddened by the death of General Johnston.
With the second line of Confederate defense broken, General Grant turned his attention to the Mississippi River. As long as the Mississippi was open to the South, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas could send food supplies to the Confederates on the east side of the river.
p376 Grant moved down to capture Vicksburg in the beginning of 1863. General Pemberton was protecting the city with a large army. Grant drove Pemberton into Vicksburg, and laid siege to it.
For seven weeks the siege continued. Nobody could slip in or out. Meat and bread grew scarce. General Grant's cannon knocked the houses to pieces. People found shelter in cellars and in caves dug in the earth.
On the Fourth of July, 1863, Vicksburg surrendered, with Pemberton's army of more than thirty thousand men. There was great rejoicing throughout the North. President Lincoln sent words of congratulation. Congress voted Grant a medal.
On the same day General Lee was defeated at Gettysburg. He had marched into Pennsylvania with a veteran army. North and South were anxiously awaiting the result. Both victories for the North came on the same day. July 4, 1863, was the turning point in the Civil War.
p377 198. Farragut Aids Grant. On July 9, Port Hudson, the last corresponding stronghold on the Mississippi, surrendered. Before Grant captured Vicksburg, Captain David Farragut of the Union forces, with his large fleet, had cut the cables across the Mississippi, destroyed the Confederate boats, and captured New Orleans.
The hero of this exploit was born in east Tennessee. At the age of twelve he was a midshipman on the "Essex," on her famous cruise in the Pacific (1814). After capturing New Orleans he aided General Grant and Commodore Foote in clearing the Mississippi. But in 1864 he struck the Confederacy a still greater blow. He sailed into Mobile Bay, capturing the fleet and the fort defending it, in spite of sunken mines and hidden torpedoes. Mobile was the last great seaport open to the Confederacy.
Thus, by the capture of New Orleans and Vicksburg, the Confederacy was cut in two, and Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas could send no more supplies to the Confederate armies in the East.
p378 199. Grant Commander of the Army. President Lincoln saw in General Grant the qualities of a great soldier. He sent for him to come to Washington. Grant went, and was there made lieutenant-general in command of all the Armies of the United States.
One head now directed the fighting for the Union. Grant took command at once. His first great object was to capture Lee's army.
The direct road to Richmond was through the "Wilderness," a region covered with a thick forest of tangled underbrush. General Lee was in there with his veteran troops. It was the route of danger. Into this wilderness Grant plunged with a great army. The fighting began. It was almost constant charge and countercharge for a month, with long lists of dead and wounded.
Grant moved his army around to the James River and attacked Petersburg. This place was finally taken in the spring of 1865, and President Lincoln ran down from Washington to visit Grant and his soldiers.
General Lee had told the Confederate President he could hold Richmond no longer. President Davis started southward. Lee was also trying to break away, but his army was weakened by hard fighting, and Sheridan, who commanded the cavalry, was too quick for him.
General Grant wrote to General Lee suggesting that he surrender, and save further bloodshed. Lee agreed, and the terms of surrender were signed April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House.
p379 More than a year before, General Sherman had taken charge of the Union forces around Atlanta. After capturing it, he marched with sixty thousand men to the sea, at Savannah. From Savannah, he marched northeast into North Carolina, where he met a Confederate army under his old rival, General Joseph E. Johnston. Johnston after a brave fight surrendered to Sherman.
After the war was over, General Grant served a while in the cabinet of President Johnson, who became President at Lincoln's death.
200. Grant President. In 1868 he was elected President of the United States. He was reëlected in 1872. After his term of service was over as President, he made a tour around the world and was received with great honor by both rulers and people.
He returned to the United States, and in his last days wrote his memoirs. He died July 23, 1885, at Mount McGregor, near Saratoga, New York. His body rests in Riverside Park, New York City, where a magnificent monument has been erected to his memory.
The Leading Facts. 1. Grant born of farmer parents. Loved to work with horses. 2. Sent to West Point; was in Mexican War under generals Taylor and Scott. Went to California; was made captain, and resigned. 3. Went into business near St. Louis. Was clerk for his father at Galena. 4. Grant enlisted in the Civil War; rose rapidly till made a major-general. 5. Captured Forts Henry and Donelson. Fought two days' battle at Pittsburg Landing. 6. Grant captured Vicksburg; was made lieutenant-general, and sent into the Wilderness after General Lee. 7. Grant fought a month, then moved around to p380 Petersburg. 8. Richmond fell. Grant offered Lee terms of surrender. 9. Grant was twice made President; afterwards he went around the world. 10. Died at Mount McGregor.
Study Questions. 1. Tell the story of Grant until he reached West Point. 2. What examples of obedience did Grant give? 3. What did Grant witness in the war with Mexico? 4. Tell the interesting changes he saw taking place on the Pacific slope. 5. What did Grant do at Galena when Lincoln's call came? 6. Tell of his promotion. 7. What was the meaning of the victory at Fort Donelson? 8. Tell the story of Pittsburg Landing. 9. What great result was to be accomplished by the capture of Vicksburg and other Mississippi River positions? 10. What two victories came on the Fourth of July and what did both mean? 11. How did Grant's victory impress the President? 12. Give an account of the battle of the "Wilderness." 13. What was Lee's word to Davis? 14. Picture the scene at Appomattox Court House. 15. Tell the story of Grant after the close of the Civil War.
Suggested Readings. Ulysses S. Grant: Burton, Four American Patriots, 195‑254; Brooks, Century Book of Famous Americans, 181‑191; Hart and Stevens, Romance of the Civil War, 179‑183; Hale, Stories of War, 21‑29, 74‑91, 92‑118, 168‑187, 226‑264; Bolton, Famous American Statesmen, 307‑360.
David G. Farragut: Bolton, Lives of Poor Boys Who Have Become Famous, 219‑237; Mahan, Admiral Farragut, 1‑306.
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