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invaded Canada at Prescott, opposite Ogdensburg, where they took possession of a stone windmill. They were attacked by a large force of British regulars, whom they at first repulsed; but were eventually obliged to surrender to superior numbers. Their leaders were hung, and others transported to Van Dieman's Land.
The Seminole war still continued in Florida at a heavy expense to the nation ; while many of the soldiers perished from exposure in it sickly climate, amid swamps and marshes to which they had driven the hostile Indians. After several encounters, a number of chiefs, in March, 1837, came to the camp of General Jessup, signed a treaty of peace, and agreed that all the Seminoles should remove beyond the Mississippi. This treaty, however, was soon broken through the influence of Oceola. This chieftain coming subsequently into the camp of General Jessup, under the protection of a flag of truce, was seized, and finally imprisoned at Fort Moultrie, in Charleston, South Carolina, where he died of a fever the following year.
In December, 1837, Colonel (afterward President) Taylor, at the head of six hundred men, defeated the Indians in the southern part of the peninsula. At this time, the army stationed at various posts in Florida, was estimated to number nearly nine thousand men. The Indians still continued the contest during the years 1837, 1838, 1839 and 1840. General Macomb was in command in 1839. In 1840, Colonel Harney penetrated into the extensive everglades of southern Florida, and succeeded in capturing a band of forty, nine of whom (their leaders) he caused to be executed.
During the session of congress, which terminated in the summer of 1840, the sub-treasury bill, designed for the safekeeping of the public funds, which had been rejected at the extra session of 1837, passed both houses of congress, and became a law. This was regarded as the great financial measure of Mr. Van Buren's administration.
On the 4th of March, 1841, William Henry Harrison was inaugurated president, in the presence of an unusually large assemblage, convened at the capitol in Washington. The preceding political contest by which General Harrison was elevated to the presidency, was one of the most exciting which ever took place in the United States. The trying scenes of financial difficulties through which the country
was then passing, and the “experiments on the currency" furnished the opponents of the government a theme by which their measures were denounced. General Harrison received two hundred and thirtyfour votes, while Mr. Van Buren received only sixty. John Tyler was elected vice-president.
President Harrison died on the 4th of April, 1841, just one month after he had taken the oath of office. The only official act of general importance performed during his administration, was the issuing of a proclamation on the 17th of March, calling an extra session of congress at the close of the following May, to legislate on the subjects of finance and revenue.
TYLER'S ADMINISTRATION. On the death of General Harrison, John Tyler, the vice-president, became acting president of the United States. At the extra session called by President Harrison, the sub-treasury bill was repealed, and a general bankrupt law passed. The second year of Mr. Tyler's administration, 1842, was distinguished by the return of the United States Exploring Expedition, the settlement of the north-eastern boundary question, and the domestic difficulties in Rhode Island. In this year, also, an important treaty, adjusting the dispute in relation to the north-eastern boundary of the United States, was negotiated at Washington, between Mr. Webster, on the part of the United States, and Lord Ashburton on the part of Great Britain.
The exploring expedition, commanded by Lieutenant Wilkes, of the United States Navy, had been absent several years, during which they had coasted along what was supposed to be the Antarctic Continent: in all, they had voyaged about ninety thousand miles, equal to almost four times the circumference of the globe. A large number of curiosities of island human life, and many fine specimens of natural history were collected, and deposited in public buildings in Washington.
A movement was made in Rhode Island, called the “Dorr Insurrection," the object of which was to set aside the ancient charter of the colony and state, and under which the people had been ruled for one hundred and eighty years. The “suffrage party" adopted a constitution unauthorized by the laws of the state, and chose T. W. Dorr as governor. The “law and order party” at the same time chose S. W. King for the same office. In May, 1843, both parties met and organized their respective governments, then armed, when a bloody strug
gle seemed inevitable. The insurgents, however, dispersed on the approach of the government forces, and Dorr fled from the state. Upon his return he was arrested for treason, and sentenced to be imprisoned for life. He was, however, released in 1845.
The most important political event which took place during Mr. Tyler's administration, was the subject of the annexation of Texas. The proposition was first made by Texas, originally a province of Mexico, in which a considerable number of emigrants, from the United States, had settled. She had thrown off her allegiance to their power, and had sustained her independence although unacknowledged by her. The proposition for annexation which would largely increase the area and political strength of the slave system, was warmly opposed by the more northern states. A treaty of annexation, signed by the president, was rejected by congress, but in the following year, 1845, the bill was passed.
In the year 1844, the first electric telegraph, the invention of Professor Morse, was completed in the United States. It extended from Washington to Baltimore. The first words sent over it were, “What hath God wrought?”*
James K. Polk, the tenth president of the United States, was inaugurated March 4, 1845. Among the most important topics which drew the public attention, were the annexation of Texas, and the claims of Great Britain to a large portion of the territory of Oregon on the Pacific Coast. The Texan government having approved, by resolution on July 4, 1845, the joint resolution of the American congress in favor of annexation, Texas became that day one of the states of the American Union, with the privilege of forming “new states of convenient size, not exceeding four in number, in addition to said state of Texas,” whenever the population shall be sufficient.
The vast territory between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific, was for some time a subject of dispute between the United States and Great Britain. In 1818, it was agreed that each nation should enjoy equal privileges on the coast for ten years. This agreement was re
* The first message of a public nature sent over the wires, was the announcement of James K. Polk, as the nominee of the Democratic party for the presidency, by their convention at Baltimore.
newed in 1827, for an indefinite time, with the stipulation that either party might rescind it, by giving the other party twelve months' notice. Such notice was given by the United States in 1846. Great Britain claimed a part of the territory. The boundary was finally settled at the parallel of 49° north latitude, and in 1848, a territorial government was established.
The annexation of Texas, as had been predicted, caused an immediate rupture with Mexico, who still claimed it as part of their territory. By the terms of the treaty of annexation the United States government was bound to protect the new state. In consequence of the hostile movements of Mexico, General Taylor was sent in July 1845, with several military companies to Corpus Christi Bay, on the frontiers of Texas. Afterward General Taylor took a position on the Rio Grande, opposite Matamoras. While marching toward this point, he was attacked by a large body of Mexicans, and the battles of Palo Alto, and Resaca de la Palma ensued, which proved victorious to the Americans. On September 21, 1846, the Americans, under General Taylor, attacked Monterey, and on the 24th it surrendered. About the same time divisions under Wool, Kearney, Fremont, and others, penetrated New Mexico and California, and took possession of some of the principal towns.
In January 1847, General Winfield Scott, who was appointed to the chief command, reached Mexico. He soon made preparations to attack Vera Cruz, the nearest seaport to the city of Mexico. On February 22d, General Taylor gained a decisive victory at Buena Vista, over the Mexican army under Santa Anna. The American force in this bloody conflict, consisted of only about five thousand men, while that of the Mexicans consisted of twenty thousand.
On the 13th of March, 1847, the United States military and naval forces invested Vera Cruz, and on the 29th, the city and the strong castle of San Juan d’Ulloa surrendered, with five thousand prisoners and five hundred pieces of cannon. At least one thousand Mexicans were killed, and a great number maimed. The Americans had but forty killed, and about the same number wounded. General Scott now proceeded toward the capital. At Cerro Gordo he was met by Santa Anna, the president of the Mexican Republic, with twelve thousand men. The action took place at a difficult mountain pass which the Mexicans had strongly fortified with many pieces of cannon. With about eight thousand men, General Scott attacked the Mexicans in their strong position. The assault was successful, and
more than one thousand of the enemy were killed and wounded, and three thousand were made prisoners. The American loss was four hundred and thirty-one in killed and wounded. Santa Anna narrowly escaped capture by fleeing on a mule taken from his carriage.
On the 22d of April, the castle of Perote, on the summit of the eastern Cordilleras, the strongest fortress in Mexico, excepting Vera Cruz, was surrendered without resistance. The victorious army next entered the ancient walled and fortified city of Puebla, without opposition from its eighty thousand inhabitants. General Scott remained in Puebla till August, when being reinforced by troops sent by the way of Vera Cruz, he advanced toward the capital. The fortified camp of Contreras, near the hights of Cherubusco, was attacked and after a sanguinary contest, the Americans were victorious. Eighty officers and three thousand private soldiers were made prisoners. General Scott now directed a similar movement against Cherubusco. The Americans were again successful: four thousand Mexicans were killed and wounded, three thousand made prisoners, and thirty-seven pieces of cannon were taken, all in one day. The American loss was about eleven hundred.
On the 8th of September, about four thousand Americans attacked fourteen thousand Mexicans under Santa Anna, at El Molinos del Rey, near Chepultepec. They were at first repulsed with great slaughter, but returning to the attack they fought desperately, and drove the Mexicans from their position. Chepultepec, a strong fortress on a lofty hill, the last fortress to be taken outside of the capital, was carried by storm. The Mexicans fled to the city, which was abandoned by Santa Anna and the officers of government. On the 16th of September, 1847, General Scott entered the city of Mexico in triumph.
In the summer of 1846, during the pendency of this war, a bill was before congress placing certain moneys at the disposal of the president, to negotiate an advantageous treaty of peace with the Mexican government. To this bill Mr. David Wilmot, of Pennsylvania, offered an amendment called the “Wilmot Proviso," which forbade the introduction of slavery into any part of the territory which should be purchased from Mexico, under the contemplated treaty. The bill passed the house and failed in the senate, the appointed time for the adjournment of congress having arrived when that body had it under discussion.
On the 2d of February 1848, the Mexican congress concluded a