Beelingo.com

Historic Adventures: Tales from American History


Shooting Tongues of Smoke from Their Great Black Throats

Historic Adventures

Tales from American History


By
RUPERT S. HOLLAND
Author of "Historic Boyhoods," "Historic Girlhoods," "Historic Inventions," etc.



PHILADELPHIA
GEORGE W. JACOBS & COMPANY
PUBLISHERS

Copyright, 1913, by
George W. Jacobs & Company
Published October, 1913

All rights reserved
Printed in U.S.A.


To
Robert D. Jenks


Contents

I. The Lost Children 9
II. The Great Journey of Lewis and Clark 21
III. The Conspiracy of Aaron Burr 59
IV. How the Young Republic Fought the Barbary Pirates 80
V. The Fate of Lovejoy's Printing-Press 113
VI. How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon 135
VII. How the Mormons Came to Settle Utah 165
VIII. The Golden Days of 'Forty-Nine 181
IX. How the United States Made Friends with Japan 203
X. The Pig that Almost Caused a War 222
XI. John Brown at Harper's Ferry 229
XII. An Arctic Explorer 254
XIII. The Story of Alaska 264
XIV. How the "Merrimac" was Sunk in Santiago Harbor 275

Illustrations

Shooting tongues of smoke from their great black throats Frontispiece
  Facing page
Sawquehanna seemed to remember the voice 18
Decatur caught the Moor's arm 90
The last six hundred miles were the hardest 152
Nauvoo had handsome houses and public buildings 166
Wherever there was a stream explorers began to dig 186
The teams, exhausted, began to fail 200
Spanish boats pulled close to them 282

[9]

I

THE LOST CHILDREN

The valleys of Pennsylvania were dotted with log cabins in the days of the French and Indian wars. Sometimes a number of the little houses stood close together for protection, but often they were built far apart. Wherever the pioneer saw good farm land he settled. It was a new sensation for men to be able to go into the country and take whatever land attracted them. Gentle rolling fields, with wide views of distant country through the notches of the hills, shining rivers, splendid uncut forests, and rich pasturage were to be found not far from the growing village of Philadelphia, and were free to any who wished to take them. Such a land would have been a paradise, but for one shadow that hung over it. In the background always lurked the Indians, who might at any time, without rhyme or reason, steal down upon the lonely hamlet or cabin, and lay it waste. The pioneer looked across the broad acres of central Pennsylvania and found them beautiful. Only when he had built his home and planted his fields did he fully realize the constant peril that lurked in the wooded mountains.

English, French, and Spanish came to the new[10] world, and the English proved themselves the best colonists. They settled the central part of the Atlantic Coast, but among them and mixed with them were people of other lands. The Dutch took a liking for the Island of Manhattan and the Hudson River, the Swedes for Delaware, and into the colony of William Penn came pilgrims from what was called the Palatinate, Germans, a strong race drawn partly by desire for religious freedom, partly by the reports of the great free lands across the ocean. They brought with them the tongue, the customs, and the names of the German Fatherland, and many a valley of eastern Pennsylvania heard only the German language spoken.

The Indian tribes known as the Six Nations roamed through the country watered by the Susquehanna. They hunted through all the land south of the Great Lakes. Sometimes they fought with the Delawares, sometimes with the Catawbas, and again they would smoke the calumet or pipe of peace with their neighbors, and give up the war-path for months at a time. But the settlers could never be sure of their intentions. Wily French agents might sow seeds of discord in the Indians' minds, and then the chiefs who had lately exchanged gifts with the settlers might suddenly steal upon some quiet village and leave the place in ruins. This constant peril was the price men had to pay in return for the right to take whatever land they liked.

In a little valley of eastern Pennsylvania a German[11] settler named John Hartman had built a cabin in 1754. He had come to this place with his wife and four children because here he might earn a good living from the land. He was a hard worker, and his farm was prospering. He had horses and cattle, and his wife spun and wove the clothing for the family. The four children, George, Barbara, Regina, and Christian, looked upon the valley as their home, forgetting the German village over the sea. Not far away lived neighbors, and sometimes the children went to play with other boys and girls, and sometimes their friends spent a holiday on John Hartman's farm.

The family, like all farmers' families, rose early. Before they began the day's work the father would read to them from his big Bible, which he had brought from his native land as his most valuable possession. On a bright morning in the autumn of 1754 he gathered his family in the living-room of his cabin and read them a Bible lesson. The doors and windows stood open, and the sun flooded the little house, built of rough boards, and scrupulously clean. The farmer's dog, Wasser, lay curled up asleep just outside the front door, and a pair of horses, already harnessed, stood waiting to be driven to the field. Birds singing in the trees called to the children to hurry out-of-doors. They tried to listen to their father's voice as he read, and to pay attention. As they all knelt he prayed for their safety. Then they had breakfast, and the father and mother[12] made plans for the day. Mrs. Hartman was to take the younger boy, Christian, to the flour-mill several miles away, and if they had time was to call at the cabin of a sick friend. The father and George went to the field to finish their sowing before the autumn rains should come, and the two little girls were told to look after the house till their mother should return. Little Christian sat upon an old horse, held on by his mother, and waved his hand to his father and George as he rode by the field on his way to the mill.

The girls, like their mother, were good housekeepers. They set the table for dinner, and at noon Barbara blew the big tin horn to call her father and brother. As they were eating dinner the dog Wasser came running into the house growling, and acting as if he were very much frightened. Mr. Hartman spoke to him, and called him to his side. But the dog stood in the doorway, and then suddenly leaped forward and sprang upon an Indian who came around the wall.

The peril that lurked in the woods had come. John Hartman jumped to the door, but two rifle bullets struck him down. George sprang up, only to fall beside his father. An Indian killed the dog with his tomahawk. Into the peaceful cabin swarmed fifteen yelling savages. Barbara ran up a ladder into the loft, and Regina fell on her knees, murmuring "Herr Jesus! Herr Jesus!" The Indians hesitated, then one of them seized her, and[13] made a motion with his knife across her lips to bid her be silent. Another went after Barbara and brought her down from the loft, and then the Indians ordered the two girls to put on the table all the food there was in the cabin.

When the food was gone the savages plundered the house, making bundles of what they wanted and slinging them over their shoulders. They took the two little girls into the field. There another girl stood tied to the fence. When she saw Barbara and Regina she began to cry, and called in German for her mother. While the three frightened girls stood close together the Indians set fire to the cabin. Very soon the log house that had cost John Hartman so much labor was burned to the ground. When their work of destruction was completed the Indians took the three children into the woods.

At sunset Mrs. Hartman returned from the flour-mill with little Christian riding his horse, but when she came up the road it seemed as if her house had disappeared. Yet the pine trees, the fences, the plowed fields, and the orchard were still there. The little boy cried, "Where is our house, mother?" and the poor woman could not understand.

The story of what had occurred was only too plain to her a few minutes later. What had happened to many other pioneers had happened to her family. Clutching Christian in her arms she ran to the house of her nearest neighbor. There she heard that the Indians had left the same track of blood[14] through other parts of the valley; that farmers had been slain; their crops burned; and their children carried off into the wilderness. The terrified settlers banded together for protection. For weeks new stories came of the Indians' massacres. If ever there were heartless savages these were! They did not carry all the children to their wigwams; some were killed on the way; and among them was little Barbara Hartman. Word came from time to time of some of the stolen children, but there was no word of Regina or Susan Smith, the daughter of the neighboring farmer.

*****

Far in the forests of western New York was the camp of a great Indian tribe. The wigwams stood on the banks of a beautiful mountain stream, broken by great rocks that sent the water leaping in cascades and falls. In one of the wigwams lived the mother of a famous warrior of the tribe, and with her were two girls whom she treated as her daughters. The name of the old squaw was She-lack-la, which meant "the Dark and Rainy Cloud," a name given her because at times she grew very angry and ill-treated every one around her. Fortunately there were two girls in her wigwam, and when the old squaw was in a bad temper they had each other for protection. The older girl had been given the name of Saw-que-han-na, or "the White Lily," and the other was known as Kno-los-ka, "the Short-legged Bear." Like all the Indian girls they had to work[15] hard, grinding corn, cooking and keeping house for the boys and men who were brought up to hunt and fight. Sawquehanna was tall and strong, spoke the language of the tribe, and looked very much like her Indian girl friends.

In the meantime many battles had been fought through the country of the pioneers, and the English colonists were beating the French and Indians, and driving the Frenchmen farther and farther north. In 1765 the long war between the two nations ended. Under a treaty of peace the English Colonel Boquet demanded that all the white children who had been captured by the Indian tribes should be surrendered to the English officers. So one day white soldiers came into the woods of western New York and found the wigwams there. The children were called out, and the soldiers took the two girls from the old squaw Shelackla. Then they went on to the other tribes, and from each they took all the white children. They carried them to Fort Duquesne. The Fort was in western Pennsylvania, and as soon as it was known that the lost white children were there, fathers and mothers all over the country hurried to find their boys and girls. Many of the children had been away so long that they hardly remembered their parents, but most of the parents knew their children, and found them again within the walls of the fortress.

Some of the children, however, were not claimed. Sawquehanna and her friend Knoloska and nearly[16] fifty more found no one looking for them and wondered what would happen to them. After they had waited at Fort Duquesne eight days, Colonel Boquet started to march with his band of children to the town of Carlisle, in hopes that they might find friends farther east, or at least kind-hearted people who would give the children homes. He sent news of their march all through the country, and from day to day as they traveled through the mountains by way of Fort Ligonier, Raystown, and Louden, eager people arrived to search among the band of children for lost sons and daughters. When the children came to Carlisle the town was filled with settlers from the East.

The children stood in the market-place, and the men and women pressed about them, trying to recognize little ones who had been carried away by Indians years before. Some people who lived in the Blue Mountains were in the throng, and they recognized the dark-haired Indian girl Knoloska as Susan, the daughter of Mr. Smith, the farmer who had lived near the Hartmans. Knoloska and Sawquehanna had not been separated for a long time. They had kept together ever since the white soldiers had freed them from the old squaw's wigwam. Sawquehanna could not bear to think of having her comrade leave her, and Susan clung to her adopted sister's arm and kissed her again and again. The white people were much kinder than the old squaw had been, and instead of beating the girls when they[17] cried, and frightening them with threats, the officers told Sawquehanna that she would probably find some friends soon, and if she did not, that perhaps Susan's family would let her live in their home. But as nobody seemed to recognize her Sawquehanna felt more lonely than she had ever felt before.

Meanwhile Mrs. Hartman was living in the valley with her son Christian, who had grown to be a strong boy of fourteen. Neighbors told her that the lost children were being brought across the mountains to Carlisle, but there seemed little chance that her own Regina might be one of them. She decided, however, that she must go to the town and see. Travel was difficult in those days, but the brave woman set out over the mountains and across the rivers to Carlisle, and at last reached the town market-place. She looked anxiously among the girls, remembering her little daughter as she had been on that autumn day eleven years before; but none of the girls had the blue eyes, light yellow hair and red cheeks of Regina. Mrs. Hartman shook her head, and decided that her daughter was not among these children.

As she turned away, disconsolate, Colonel Boquet said to her, "Can't you find your daughter?"

"No," said the disappointed mother, "my daughter is not among those children."

"Are you sure?" asked the colonel. "Are there no marks by which you might know her?"

[18] "None, sir," she answered, shaking her head.

Colonel Boquet considered the matter for a few minutes. "Did you ever sing to her?" he asked presently. "Was there no old hymn that she was fond of?"

The mother looked up quickly. "Yes, there was!" she answered. "I have often sung her to sleep in my arms with an old German hymn we all loved so well."

"Then," said the colonel, "you and I will walk along the line of girls and you shall sing that hymn. It may be that your daughter has changed so much that you wouldn't know her, but she may remember the tune."

Mrs. Hartman looked very doubtful. "There is little use in it, sir," she said, "for certainly I should have known her if she were here; and if I try your plan all these soldiers will laugh at me for a foolish old German woman."


Sawquehanna Seemed to Remember the Voice

The colonel, however, begged her at least to try his plan, and she finally consented. They walked back to the place where the children were standing, and Mrs. Hartman began to sing in a trembling voice the first words of the old hymn:

"Alone, and yet not all alone, am I
In this lone wilderness."

As she went on singing every one stopped talking and turned to look at her. The woman's hands[19] were clasped as if in prayer, and her eyes were closed. The sun shone full upon her white hair and upturned face. There was something very beautiful in the picture she made, and there was silence in the market-place as her gentle voice went on through the words of the hymn.

The mother had begun the second verse when one of the children gave a cry. It was Sawquehanna, who seemed suddenly to have remembered the voice and words. She rushed forward, and flung her arms about the mother's neck, crying, "Mother, mother!" Then, with her arms tight about her, the tall girl joined in singing the words that had lulled her to sleep in their cabin home.

"Alone, and yet not all alone, am I
In this lone wilderness,
I feel my Saviour always nigh;
He comes the weary hours to bless.
I am with Him, and He with me,
E'en here alone I cannot be."

The people in the market-place moved on about their own affairs, and the mother and daughter were left together. Now Mrs. Hartman recognized the blue eyes of Regina, and knew her daughter in spite of her height and dark skin. Regina began to remember the days of her childhood, and the years she had spent among the Indians were forgotten. She was a white girl again, and happier now than she had ever thought to be.

[20] Next day Knoloska, now Susan Smith, and Sawquehanna, or Regina Hartman, went back to their homes in the valley. Many a settler there had found his son or daughter in the crowd of lost children at Carlisle.


[21]

II

THE GREAT JOURNEY OF LEWIS AND CLARK

French is still spoken in Quebec and New Orleans, reminders that the land of the lilies had much to do with the settlement of North America. Many of the greatest explorers of the continent were Frenchmen. Jacques Cartier sailed up the St. Lawrence River in 1534, and Champlain in 1603 founded New France, and from his small fortress at Quebec planned an empire that should reach to Florida. In 1666 Robert Cavalier, the Sieur de La Salle, came to Canada, and set out from his seigneurie near the rapids of Montreal to find the long-sought road to China. Instead of doing that he discovered the Ohio River, first of white men he voyaged across the Great Lakes and sailed down the Mississippi to its mouth. Great explorer, he mapped the country from the St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Mississippi to the Atlantic Ocean, and built frontier-posts in the wilderness. He traveled thousands of miles, and in 1682 he raised the lilies of France near the mouth of the Mississippi and named the whole territory he had covered Louisiana, in honor of King Louis XIV of France.

[22] The first colony on the Gulf was established seventeen years later at Biloxi by a Canadian seigneur named Iberville. Soon afterward this seigneur's brother, Bienville, founded New Orleans and attracted many French pioneers there. The French proved to be better explorers than farmers or settlers. In the south they hunted the sources of the Arkansas and Red Rivers, and discovered the little-known Pawnee and Comanche Indians. In the north they pressed westward and came in sight of the Rocky Mountains. At that time it seemed as if France was to own at least two-thirds of the continent. The English general, Braddock, was defeated at Fort Duquesne in 1755, and the French commanded the Ohio as well as the Mississippi; but four years later the English general, Wolfe, won the victory of the Plains of Abraham near Quebec; and France's chance was over. Men in Paris who knew little concerning the new world did not scruple to give away their country's title to vast lands. The French ceded Canada and all of La Salle's old province of Louisiana east of the Mississippi, except New Orleans, to England. Soon afterward France, to outwit England, gave Spain New Orleans and her claim to the half of the Mississippi Valley west of the river to which the name Louisiana now came to be restricted.

The French, however, were great adventurers by nature, and Napoleon, changing the map of Europe, could not keep his fingers from North America. He planned to win back the New France that had been[23] given away. Spain was weak, and Napoleon traded a small province in Italy for the great tract of Louisiana. He meant to colonize and fortify this splendid empire, but before it could be done enemies gathered against his eagles at home, and to save his European throne he had to forsake his western colony.

When Thomas Jefferson became President in 1801, he found the people of the South and West disturbed at France's repossessing herself of so much territory. He sent Robert R. Livingston and James Monroe to Paris to try to buy New Orleans and the country known as the Floridas for $2,000,000. Instead Napoleon offered to sell not only New Orleans, but the whole of Louisiana Territory extending as far west as the Rocky Mountains for $15,000,000. Napoleon insisted on the sale, and the envoys agreed. Jefferson and the people in the eastern United States were dismayed at the price paid for what they considered almost worthless land, but the West was delighted, owning the mouth of the great Mississippi and with the country beyond it free to them to explore. In time this purchase of Louisiana, or the territory stretching to the Rocky Mountains, forming the larger part of what are now thirteen of the states of the Union, was to be considered one of the greatest pieces of good fortune in the country's history.

Scarcely anything was known of Louisiana, except the stories told by a few hunters. Jefferson decided that the region must be explored, and asked his young secretary, Meriwether Lewis, who had shown[24] great interest in the new country, to make a path through the wilderness. Lewis chose his friend William Clark to accompany him, and picked thirty-two experienced men for their party. May 14, 1804, the expedition set out in a barge with sails and two smaller boats from a point on the Missouri River near St. Louis.

The nearer part of this country had already been well explored by hunters and trappers, and especially by that race of adventurous Frenchmen who were rovers by nature. These men could not endure the confining life of towns, and were continually pushing into the wilderness, driving their light canoes over the waters of the great rivers, and often sharing the tents of friendly Indians they met. Many had become almost more Indian than white man,—had married Indian wives and lived the wandering life of the native. Such a man Captain Lewis found at the start of his journey, and took with him to act as interpreter among the Sioux and tribes who spoke a similar language.

The party traveled rapidly at the outset of their journey, meeting small bands of Indians, and passing one or two widely-separated frontier settlements. They had to pass many difficult rapids in the river, but as they were for the most part expert boatmen they met with no mishaps. The last white town on the Missouri was a little hamlet called La Charrette, consisting of seven houses, with as many families located there to hunt and trade for skins and furs.[25] As they went up the river they frequently met canoes loaded with furs coming down. Day by day they took careful observations, and made maps of the country through which they were traveling, and when they met Indians tried to learn the history and customs of the tribe. Captain Lewis wrote down many of their curious traditions. The Osage tribe had given their name to a river that flowed into the Missouri a little more than a hundred miles from its mouth. There were three tribes of this nation: the Great Osages, numbering about five hundred warriors; the Little Osages, who lived some six miles distant from the others, and numbered half as many men; and the Arkansas band, six hundred strong, who had left the others some time before, and settled on the Vermillion River. The Osages lived in villages and were good farmers, usually peaceful, although naturally strong and tireless. Captain Lewis found a curious tradition as to the origin of their tribe. The story was that the founder of the nation was a snail, who lived quietly on the banks of the Osage until a high flood swept him down to the Missouri, and left him exposed on the shore. The heat of the sun at length ripened him into a man, but with the change in his nature he did not forget his native haunts on the Osage, but immediately bent his way in that direction. He was, however, soon overtaken by hunger and fatigue, when happily the Great Spirit appeared, and giving him a bow and arrow showed him how to kill and cook deer, and cover himself with the skins. He[26] then pushed on to his home, but as he neared it he was met by a beaver, who inquired haughtily who he was, and by what authority he came to disturb his possession. The Osage answered that the river was his own, for he had once lived on its borders. As they stood disputing, the daughter of the beaver came, and having by her entreaties made peace between her father and the young stranger, it was proposed that the Osage should marry the young beaver, and share the banks of the river with her family. The Osage readily consented, and from this happy marriage there came the village and the nation of the Wasbasha, or Osages, who kept a reverence for their ancestors, never hunting the beaver, because in killing that animal they would kill a brother of the Osage. The explorers found, however, that since the value of beaver skins had risen in trade with the white men, these Indians were not so particular in their reverence for their relatives.

The mouth of the Platte River was reached on July 21st, and the next day Lewis held a council with the Ottoes and Missouri Indians, and named the site Council Bluffs. At each of these meetings between Lewis and the Indians the white man would explain that this territory was now part of the United States, would urge the tribes to trade with their new neighbors, and then present them with gifts of medals, necklaces, rings, tobacco, ornaments of all sorts, and often powder and arms.

[27] The Indians were friendly and each day taught the white men something new. Both Captain Lewis and Lieutenant Clark had seen much of the red men on the frontier, but now they were in a land where they found them in their own homes. They grew accustomed to the round tepees decorated with bright-colored skins, the necklaces made of claws of grizzly bears, the head-dresses of eagle feathers, the tambourines, or small drums that furnished most of their music, the whip-rattles made of the hoofs of goats and deer, the white-dressed buffalo robes painted with pictures that told the history of the tribe, the moccasins and tobacco pouches embroidered with many colored beads. Each tribe differed in some way from its neighbors. For the first time the explorers found among the Rickarees eight-sided earth-covered lodges, and basket-shaped boats made of interwoven boughs covered with buffalo skins.

Game was plentiful as they went farther up the Missouri River. At first no buffaloes were found, but bands of elk were seen, and large herds of goats crossing from their summer grazing grounds in the hilly region west of the Missouri to their winter quarters. Besides these were antelopes, beavers, bears, badgers, deer, and porcupines, and the river banks supplied them with plover, grouse, geese, turkeys, ducks, and pelicans. There were plenty of wild fruits to be had, and they lived well during the whole of the summer. They traveled rapidly until[28] the approach of cold weather decided them to establish winter quarters on October 27th.

They pitched their camp, which they called Fort Mandan, on the eastern shore of the Missouri, near the present city of Bismarck. They built some wooden huts, which formed two sides of a triangle, and a row of pickets on the third side, to provide them with a stockade in case of attack. They found a trader of the Hudson's Bay Company near by, and during the winter a dozen other traders visited them. Although they appeared to be friendly, Captain Lewis was convinced that the traders had no desire to see this United States expedition push into the country, and would in fact do all they could to prevent its advance. The Indians in the neighborhood belonged to the tribes of the Mandans, Rickarees, and Minnetarees. The first two of these tribes went to war early in the winter, but peace was made through the efforts of Captain Lewis. After that all the Indians visited the encampment, bringing stores of corn and presents of different sorts, in exchange for which they obtained beads, rings, and cloth from the white men. Here Captain Lewis learned a curious legend of the Mandan tribe. They believed that all their nation originally lived in one large village underground near a subterranean lake, and that a grape-vine stretched its roots down to their home and gave them a view of daylight. Some of the more adventurous of the tribe climbed up the vine, and were delighted with the[29] sight of the earth, which they found covered with buffaloes and rich with all kinds of fruits. They gathered some grapes and returned with them to their countrymen, and told them of the charms of the land they had seen. The others were very much pleased with the story and with the grapes, and men, women and children started to climb up the vine. But when only half of them had reached the top a heavy woman broke the vine by her weight, and so closed the road to the rest of the nation. Each member of this tribe was accustomed to select a particular object for his devotion, and call it his "medicine." To this they would offer sacrifices of every kind. One of the Indians said to Captain Lewis, "I was lately the owner of seventeen horses; but I have offered them all up to my 'medicine,' and am now poor." He had actually loosed all his seventeen horses on the plains, thinking that in that way he was doing honor to his god.

Almost every day hunting parties left the camp and brought back buffaloes. The weather grew very cold in December, and several times the thermometer fell to forty degrees below zero. As spring advanced, however, the weather became very mild, and as early as April 7, 1805, they were able to leave their camp at Fort Manden and start on again. The upper Missouri they found was too shallow for the large barge they had used the previous summer, so this was now sent back down the river in charge of a party of ten men who carried letters[30] and specimens, while the others embarked in six canoes and two large open boats that they had built during the winter. So far the country through which they had passed had been explored by a few Hudson's Bay trappers, but as they now turned westward they came into a region entirely unknown, which they soon found was almost uninhabited.

The party had by this time three interpreters, one a Canadian half-breed named Drewyer, who had inherited from his mother the Indian's skill in woodcraft, and who also knew the language of the white explorers. The other two were a man named Chaboneau and his wife, a young squaw called Sacajawea, the "Bird-woman," who had originally belonged to the Snake tribe, but who had been captured in her childhood by Blackfeet Indians. This Indian girl had married Chaboneau, a French wanderer, who like many others of his kind had sunk into an almost savage state. As the squaw had not forgotten the language of her native people the two white leaders thought she would prove a valuable help to them in the wild country westward, and persuaded her and her husband to go on with them.

As the weather was fine the party traveled rapidly, and by April 26th reached the mouth of the Yellowstone. They were now very far north, near the northwest corner of what is the state of North Dakota. Game was still plentiful but the banks of the river were covered with a coating of alkali salts,[31] which made the water of the streams bitter and unpleasant for drinking. Occasionally they came upon a deserted Indian camp, but in this northern territory they found few roving tribes. When there was a favorable wind they sailed along the Missouri, but most of the time they had to use their oars. Early in May they drew up their birch canoes for the night at the mouth of a stream where they found a large number of porcupines feeding on young willow trees. Captain Lewis christened the stream Porcupine River. Here there were quantities of game, and elk and buffalo in abundance, so that it was an easy matter to provide food for all the party.

Now they were continually coming upon new rivers, many of them broad, with swift-flowing currents, and all of them appealing to the love of exploration. The Missouri was their highroad, however, and so they simply stopped to name the different streams they came to. One they passed had a peculiar white color, and Captain Lewis called it the Milk River. The country along this stream was bare for some distance, with gradually rising hills beyond.

The game here was very plentiful and the buffaloes were so tame that the men were obliged to drive them away with sticks and stones. The only dangerous animal was the grizzly bear, a beast that never seemed to know when he had had enough of a fight. One evening the men in the canoes saw a large grizzly lying some three hundred paces from the[32] shore. Six of them landed and hid behind a small hillock within forty paces of the bear; four of the hunters fired, and each lodged a ball in the bear's body. The animal sprang up and roared furiously at them. As he came near them the two hunters who had not yet fired gave him two more wounds, one of which broke a shoulder, but before they had time to reload their guns, the bear was so near them that they had to run for the river. He almost overtook them; two jumped into the canoes; the other four separated, and hiding in the willows fired as fast as they could reload their guns. Again and again they shot him, but each time the shots only seemed to attract his attention toward the hunters, until finally he chased two of them so closely that they threw away their guns, and jumped down a steep bank into the river. The bear sprang after them, and was almost on top of the rear man when one of the others on shore shot him in the head, and finally killed him. They dragged him to shore, and found that eight balls had gone through him in different directions. The hunters took the bear's skin back to camp, and there they learned that another adventure had occurred. One of the other canoes, which contained all the provisions, instruments, and numerous other important articles, had been under sail when it was struck on the side by a sudden squall of wind. The man at the helm, who was one of the worst navigators of the party, made the mistake of luffing the boat into the wind. The[33] wind was so high that it forced the brace of the square-sail out of the hand of the man who was holding it, and instantly upset the canoe. The boat would have turned upside down but for the resistance of the canvas awning. The other boats hastened to the rescue, righted the canoe, and by baling her out kept her from sinking. They rowed the canoe to shore and the cargo was saved. Had it been lost the expedition would have been deprived of most of the things that were necessary for its success, at a distance of between two and three thousand miles from any place where they could get supplies.

On May 20th they reached the yellowish waters of the Musselshell River. A short distance beyond this Captain Lewis caught his first view of the Rocky Mountains, one of the goals toward which they were tending. Along the Musselshell the country was covered with wild roses and small honeysuckle, but soon after they came into a region that was very bare and dry, where both game and timber were scarce, the mosquitoes annoying, the noonday sun uncomfortably hot, and the nights very cold. The Missouri River, along which they were still traveling, was now heading to the southwest. They were near the border of the present state of Idaho when they passed several old Indian camps, most of which seemed to have been deserted for five or six weeks. From this fact they judged that they were following a band of about one hundred lodges, who were traveling up the same river. They knew that the Minnetarees of the[34] Missouri often traveled as far west as the Yellowstone, and presumed that the Indians ahead of them belonged to that tribe. There were other evidences of the Indians. At the foot of a cliff they found the bodies of a great many slaughtered buffaloes, which had been hunted after the fashion of the Blackfeet. Their way of hunting was to select one of the most active braves, and disguise him by tying a buffalo skin around his body, fastening the skin of the head, with ears and horns, over the head of the brave. Thus disguised the Indian would take a position between a herd of buffalo and the precipice overlooking a river. The other hunters would steal back of the herd, and at a given signal chase them. The buffaloes would run in the direction of the disguised brave, who would lead them on at full speed toward the river. As he reached the edge he would quickly hide himself in some crevice or ravine of the cliff, which he had chosen beforehand, and the herd would be left on the brink. The buffaloes in front could not stop being driven on by those behind, who in their turn would be closely pursued by the hunters. The whole herd, therefore, would usually rush over the cliff, and the hunters could take their pick of hides and meat in the river below. This method of hunting was very extravagant, but at that time the Indians had no thought of preserving the buffaloes. One of the rivers Lewis passed in this region he named the Slaughter River, on account of this way of hunting.

[35] When the Missouri turned southward the explorers came to many steep rapids, around which the canoes had to be carried, which made traveling slow. Often the banks were so steep and the mud so thick that the men were obliged to take off their moccasins, and much of the time they were up to their arms in the cold water of the river. But there was a great deal to charm the eye in the opening spring, even in that bare country. Lewis found places near the river filled with choke-cherries, yellow currants, wild roses, and prickly pears in full bloom. In the distance the mountains, rising in long greenish-blue chains, the tops covered with snow, invited the travelers to find what lay on the other side of their ridges.

On June 3d they reached a place where the river divided into two wide streams, and it became very important to decide which of the two was the one that the Indians called the Ahmateahza, or Missouri, which they had said approached very near to the Columbia River. Lewis knew that the success of his expedition depended largely upon choosing the right stream, because if, after they had ascended the Rocky Mountains beyond, they should find that the river they had taken did not bring them near the Columbia, they would have to return, and thereby would lose a large part of the summer, which was the only season when they could travel. For this reason he decided to send out two exploring parties. He himself made a two days' march up the north[36] branch, and deciding that this was not the Missouri, he named it Maria's River. As they came back they had to walk along high cliffs, and at one steep point Captain Lewis slipped, and, if he had not been able to catch himself with his mountain stick, would have been thrown into the river. He had just reached a point of safety when he heard a man behind him call out, "Good God, captain, what shall I do?" Turning instantly he found that his companion had lost his footing on the narrow pass, and had slipped down to the very edge of the precipice, where he lay with his right arm and leg over the cliff, while with the other arm and leg he was trying to keep from slipping over. Lewis saw the danger, but calmly told the other to take his knife from his belt with his right hand, and dig a hole in the side of the bluff in which to stick his foot. With great presence of mind the man did this, and getting a foothold, raised himself on his knees. Lewis then told him to take off his moccasins, and crawl forward on his hands and knees, his knife in one hand and his rifle in the other. In this manner the man regained a secure place on the cliff.

Captain Lewis considered that this method of traveling was too dangerous, and he ordered the rest of the party to wade the river at the foot of the bluff, where the water was only breast-high. This adventure taught them the danger of crossing the slippery heights above the stream, but as the plains were broken by ravines almost as difficult to pass,[37] they kept on down the river, sometimes wading in the mud of the low grounds, sometimes in the water, but when that became too deep, cutting footholds in the river bank with their knives. On that particular day they traveled through rain, mud, and water for eighteen miles, and at night camped in a deserted Indian lodge built of sticks. Here they cooked part of the six deer they had killed in the day's traveling, and slept on willow boughs they piled inside the lodge.

Many of the party thought that the north fork was the Missouri River, but Lewis and Clark were both convinced that the south fork was the real Missouri. They therefore hid their heaviest boat and all the supplies they could spare, and prepared to push on with as little burden as possible. A few days later Lewis was proved to be right in his judgment of the south fork, for on June 13th he came to the Great Falls of the Missouri. The grandeur of the falls made a tremendous impression on them all. The river, three hundred yards wide, was shut in by steep cliffs, and for ninety yards from the left cliff the water fell in a smooth sheet over a precipice of eighty feet. The rest of the river shot forward with greater force, and, being broken by projecting rocks, sent clouds of foam into the air. As the water struck the basin below the falls it beat furiously against the ledge of rocks that extended across the river, and Lewis found that for three miles below the stream was one line of rapids and cascades, overhung[38] by bluffs. Five miles above the first falls the whole river was blocked by one straight shelf of rock, over which the water ran in an even sheet, a majestic sight.

This part of the Missouri, however, offered great difficulties to their travel. The men had now journeyed constantly for several months, and were in a region of steep falls and rapids. It was clear that they could not carry the boats on their shoulders for long distances. Fortunately they found a small creek at the foot of the falls, and by this they were able to reach the highlands. From there Lieutenant Clark and a few men surveyed the trail they were to follow, while others hunted and prepared stores of dried meat, and the carpenter built a carriage to transport the boats. They found a large cottonwood tree, about twenty-two inches in diameter, which provided them with the carriage wheels. They decided to leave one of their boats behind, and use its mast for two axle-trees.

Meantime Clark studied the river and found that a series of rapids made a perilous descent, and that a portage of thirteen miles would be necessary. The country was difficult for traveling, being covered with patches of prickly pears, the needles of which cut through the moccasins of the men who dragged the boat's carriage. To add to the difficulty, when they were about five miles from their goal the axle-trees broke, and then the tongues of green cottonwood gave way. They had to stop and search for[39] a substitute, and finally found willow trees, which provided them with enough wood to patch up the boat-carriage. Half a mile from their new camping place the carriage broke again, and this time they found it easier to carry boat and baggage than to build a new conveyance. Captain Lewis described the state of his party at this portage. "The men," he wrote, "are loaded as heavily as their strength will permit; the crossing is really painful; some are limping with the soreness of their feet, others are scarcely able to stand for more than a few minutes from the heat and fatigue; they are all obliged to halt and rest frequently, and at almost every stopping place they fall, and many of them are asleep in an instant."

As they had to go back to the other side of the rapids for the stores they had left, they were obliged to repair the carriage and cross the portage again and again. After ten days' work all their stores were above the falls.

While they were busy making this portage they had several narrow escapes from attacks by grizzly bears. The bears were so bold that they would walk into the camp at night, attracted by buffalo meat, and the sleeping men were in danger from their claws. A tremendous storm added to their discomfort, and the hailstones were driven so furiously by the high wind that they wounded some of the men. Before the storm Lieutenant Clark, with his colored servant York, the half-breed Chaboneau, and his[40] Indian wife and young child, had taken the road above the falls on their way to camp when they noticed a very dark cloud coming up rapidly in the west. Clark hunted about for shelter, and at length found a ravine protected by shelving rocks under which they could take refuge. Here they were safe from the rain, and they laid down their guns, compass, and the other articles they had with them. Rain and hail beat upon their shelter, and the rain began to fall in such solid sheets that it washed down rocks and mud from higher up the ravine. Then a landslide started, but just before the heaviest part of it struck them Lieutenant Clark seized his gun in one hand, and pushed the Indian woman, her child in her arms, up the bank. Her husband also caught at her and pulled her along, but he was so much frightened at the noise and danger that but for Clark's steadiness he, with his wife and child, would probably have been lost. As it was, Clark could hardly climb as fast as the water rose. Had they waited a minute longer they would have been swept into the Missouri just above the Great Falls. They reached the top in safety, and there found York, who had left them just before the storm to hunt some buffalo. They pushed on to camp where the rest of the party had already taken shelter, and had abandoned all work for that day.

While the men were building a new boat of skins, Captain Lewis spent much time studying the animals, trees, and plants of the region, making records of them[41] to take home. Ever since their arrival at the falls they had heard a strange noise coming from the mountains a little to the north of west. "It is heard at different periods of the day and night," Lewis wrote, "sometimes when the air is perfectly still and without a cloud, and consists of one stroke only, or of five or six discharges in quick succession. It is loud, and resembles precisely the sound of a six-pound piece of ordnance at the distance of three miles. The Minnetarees frequently mentioned this noise like thunder, which they said the mountains made; but we paid no attention to it, believing it to have been some superstition, or perhaps a falsehood. The watermen also of the party say that the Pawnees and Ricaras give the same account of a noise heard in the Black Mountains to the westward of them. The solution of the mystery given by the philosophy of the watermen is, that it is occasioned by the bursting of the rich mines of silver confined within the bosom of the mountain."

Early in July the new boat was finished. It was very strong, and yet could be carried easily by five men. But when it was first launched they found that the tar-like material with which they had covered the skins that made the body of the boat would not withstand water, and so the craft leaked. After trying to repair the boat for several days they finally decided to abandon it. Putting all their luggage into the canoes they resumed their journey up the river.

[42] As the canoes were heavily loaded the men who were not needed to paddle them walked along the shore. The country here was very picturesque. At times they climbed hills that gave them wide views of open country never explored by white men; again they waded through fields of wild rye, reminding them of the farm lands of the East; sometimes their path wound through forests of redwood trees, and always they could see the high mountains, still snow-capped. The glistening light on the mountain tops told the explorers why they were called the Shining Mountains.

Game was now less plentiful, and as they had to save the dried meat for the crossing of the mountains, it became a problem to provide food for the party of thirty-two people, who usually consumed a daily supply equal to an elk and deer, four deer or one buffalo. The wild berries, however, were now ripe, and as there were quantities of these they helped to furnish the larder. There were red, purple, yellow, and black currants, gooseberries, and service-berries. The sunflower grew everywhere. Lewis wrote in his diary: "The Indians of the Missouri, more especially those who do not cultivate maize, make great use of the seed of this plant for bread or in thickening their soup. They first parch and then pound it between two stones until it is reduced to a fine meal. Sometimes they add a portion of water, and drink it thus diluted; at other times they add a sufficient proportion of marrow grease to reduce it to[43] the consistency of common dough and eat it in that manner. This last composition we preferred to all the rest, and thought it at that time a very palatable dish."

The Missouri now flowed to the south, and on July 18th the party reached a wide stream, which they named Dearborn River in honor of the Secretary of War. Lewis meant to send back a small party in canoes from this point, but as he had not yet met the Snake Indians, and was uncertain as to their friendliness, he decided he had better not weaken his expedition here. He, however, sent Clark with three men on a scouting trip. Clark found an old Indian road, which he followed, but the prickly pears cut the feet of his men so badly that he could not go far. Along his track he strewed signals, pieces of cloth and paper, to show the Indians, if they should cross that trail, that the party was composed of white men. Before he returned the main party had discovered a great column of smoke up the valley, and suspected that this was an Indian signal to show that their approach had been discovered. Afterward they learned that this was the fact. The Indians had heard one of Clark's men fire a gun, and, taking alarm, had fled into the mountains, giving the smoke signal to warn the rest of the tribe.

The high mountains now began to draw close to the expedition, and they camped one night at a place called the Gates of the Rocky Mountains. Here tremendous rocks rose directly from the river's[44] edge almost twelve hundred feet in the air; at the base they were made of black granite, but the upper part Lewis decided was probably flint of a yellowish brown and cream color. On July 25th the advance guard reached the three forks of the Missouri. Chaboneau was ill, and they had to wait until Lewis and the others caught up. They named the forks of the river Gallatin, Madison, and Jefferson, in honor of the statesmen of those names. It was at this place that the Indian squaw Sacajawea had been in camp with her tribe five years before when the Minnetarees attacked them, killed some, and made a prisoner of her and some others. Lewis hoped that she would be able to help them if they should fall in with bands of her own tribe.

As the main stream ended here, the party now followed the Jefferson River. They soon decided that it would be necessary to secure horses if they were to cross the mountains, and Lewis with three men set out to try to find the Shoshone Indians, from whom they might buy mounts. After several hours' march they saw a man on horseback coming across the plain toward them; examining him through the glass Lewis decided that he belonged to a different tribe of Indians from any that they had yet met, probably the Shoshones. He was armed with a bow and a quiver of arrows, and rode a good horse without a saddle, a small string attached to the lower jaw answering as a bridle. Lewis was anxious to convince him that the white men meant to be friendly, and[45] went toward him at his usual pace. When they were still some distance apart the Indian suddenly stopped. Lewis immediately stopped also, and taking his blanket from his knapsack, and holding it with both hands at the four corners threw it above his head and then unfolded it as he brought it to the ground, as if in the act of spreading it. This signal, which was intended to represent the spreading of a robe as a seat for guests, was the common sign of friendship among the Indian tribes of the Missouri and the Rocky Mountains. Lewis repeated the sign three times, and then taking some beads, a looking-glass, and a few other trinkets from his knapsack, and leaving his gun, walked on toward the Indian. But when he was within two hundred yards of him the Indian turned his horse and began to ride away. Captain Lewis then called to him, using words of the Shoshones. The captain's companions now walked forward, also, and their advance evidently frightened the Indian, for he suddenly whipped his horse and disappeared in a clump of willow bushes. When they returned to the camp Lewis packed some more Indian gifts in his knapsack, and fastened a small United States flag to a pole to be carried by one of the men, which was intended as a friendly signal should the Indians see them advancing.

The next day brought them to the head-waters of the Jefferson River, rising from low mountains. They had now reached the sources of the great[46] Missouri River, a place never before seen by white men. From this distant spot flowed the waters that traversed a third of the continent, finally flowing into the Mississippi near St. Louis.

Leaving the river, they followed an Indian road through the hills, and reached the top of a ridge from which they could see more mountains, partly covered with snow. The ridge on which they stood marked the dividing line between the waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. Going down the farther side they came to a creek, which was part of the Columbia River; near this was a spring. They gathered enough dry willow brush for fuel, and halted for the night. Here they ate their last piece of pork, and had only a little flour and parched meal left in the way of provisions. Early next day Lewis went forward on foot, hoping to find some Indians. After several hours he saw three; but they fled away. Later he came upon three Indian women; one of them ran, but the other two, an elderly woman and a little girl, approached, evidently thinking that the strangers were too near for them to escape, and sat down on the ground. Lewis put down his rifle and walking to them, took the woman by the hand, and helped her up. He then rolled up his shirt sleeve to show that he was a white man, since his hands and face were almost as dark as an Indian's. His companions joined him, and they gave the Indians some pewter mirrors, beads, and other presents. He painted the women's cheeks with some vermilion paint, which[47] was the Shoshone custom, meaning peace. He then made them understand by signs that he wished to go to their camp to see their chiefs. The squaw led the white men along a road for some two miles, when they met a band of sixty mounted warriors riding toward them. Again Lewis dropped his rifle, and courageously marched out to deal with these unknown red men. The chief and two others galloped up in advance and spoke to the women, who showed them the presents they had just received. Then the three Indians leaped from their horses, and coming up to Lewis, put their arms about him in friendly greeting, at the same time rubbing their cheeks against his and smearing considerable paint on his face. The other white men advanced and were greeted in the same way. Lewis gave presents to the warriors, and, lighting a pipe, offered it to them for the "smoke of peace." Before they smoked it, however, the Indians took off their moccasins, a custom which meant that they would go barefooted forever, before they broke their treaty of friendship with their friends. The chief then turned and led the white men and his warriors to their camp. Here the white men were invited into a leathern lodge, and seated on green boughs and antelope skins. A small fire was lit in the centre. Again taking off their moccasins, the chief lighted a pipe made of some highly polished green stone; after some words in his own tongue he handed the pipe to Captain Lewis, who then handed it to the[48] other white men. Each took a few whiffs, and then passed it back to the warriors. After this ceremony was finished, Lewis explained that they were in great need of food. The chief presented them with cakes made of sun-dried service-berries and choke-cherries. Later another warrior gave them a piece of boiled antelope, and some fresh roasted salmon, the first salmon Lewis had seen, which convinced him that he was now on the waters of the Columbia River. He learned that the Indians had received word of the advance of his party, whom they at first took to be a hostile tribe, and had therefore set out, prepared for an attack. As a further sign of good-will, the white men were invited to witness an Indian dance, which lasted nearly all night. It was late when the white men, tired by their long day's journey, were allowed to take their rest.

On the next day Captain Lewis tried to persuade the Shoshones to accompany him across the divide in order to assist in bringing his baggage over. It took considerable argument to get the Indians to do this, and he had to promise them more gifts and arouse their curiosity by telling them that there were a black man and a native Indian woman in his camp, before he could induce them to consent. Finally the chief, Cameahwait, and several of his warriors agreed to go with Lewis. When they reached the place where the rest of the party were camped the chief was surprised and delighted to find that the Indian woman, Sacajawea, was his own[49] sister, whom he had not seen since she had been captured by the enemies of his tribe. Clark's negro servant, York, caused much amazement to the Indians, who had never seen a man of his color before. Lewis then had a long talk with the Shoshones, telling them of the great power of the government he represented, and of the advantages they would receive by trading with the white men. Presently he won their good-will, and they agreed to give him four horses in exchange for firearms and other articles. Sacajawea was of the greatest help in the talk between the white men and the Shoshones, and it was she who finally induced her brother to do all he could to assist the explorers.

Lewis now sent Clark ahead to explore the route along the Columbia River, and to build canoes if possible. The Indians had told him that their road would lie over steep, rocky mountains, where there would be little or no game, and then for ten days across a sandy desert. Clark pushed on, and found all the Indians' reports correct. He met a few small parties of Indians, but they had no provisions to spare, and his men were soon exhausted from hunger and the weariness of marching over mountains. His expedition proved that it would be impossible for the main party to follow this river, to which he gave the name of Lewis, and he returned to the camp of the Shoshones, which Lewis and the others had made their headquarters.

In this camp the white men made preparations for[50] the rest of their journey. They finally obtained twenty-nine young horses and saddles for them. They also studied the history and habits of this tribe, who had once been among the most powerful, but had been lately defeated in battle by their neighbors. The Shoshones were also called the Snake Indians, and lived along the rivers of the northwest, fishing for salmon and hunting buffaloes. Their chief wealth lay in their small, wiry horses, which were very sure-footed and fleet, and to which they paid a great deal of attention.

On August 27th the expedition started afresh, with twenty-nine packhorses, heading across the mountains to other Indian encampments on another branch of the Columbia. Travel was slow, as in many places they had to cut a road for the ponies, and often the path was so rough that the heavily-burdened horses would slip and fall. Snow fell at one time, and added to the difficulty of the journey, but by September 6th they had passed the mountain range, and had come into a wide valley, at the head of a stream they called Clark's Fork of the Columbia. Here they met about four hundred Ootlashoot Indians, to whom they gave presents in exchange for fresh horses. Continuing again, they reached Traveler's Rest Creek, and here they stopped to hunt, as the Indians had told them that the country ahead held no game. After refurnishing their larder they pushed on westward, and ran into another snow-storm, which made riding more difficult[51] than ever. Their provisions were soon exhausted, game was lacking, and the situation was discouraging. The march had proved very tiring, and there was no immediate prospect of reaching better country. Lewis, therefore, sent Clark with six hunters ahead, but this light scouting party was able to find very little game, and was nearly exhausted, when on September 20th Clark came upon a village of the Chopunish or Nez Percés Indians, in a beautiful valley. These Indians had fish, roots, and berries, which they gave the white men, who at once sent some back to Lewis and the others. These provisions reached the main party at a time when they had been without food for more than a day. Strengthened by the supplies, and encouraged by news of the Indian village, they hastened forward, and reached the Nez Percés' encampment.

Their stock of firearms and small articles enabled them to buy provisions from these Indians; and they moved on to the forks of the Snake River, where they camped for several days, to enable the party to regain its strength. They built five canoes in the Indian fashion, and launched them on the river, which they hoped would lead them to the ocean. Lewis hid his saddles and extra ammunition, and, having branded the horses, turned them over to three Indians, who agreed to take care of them until the party should return.

The Snake River, flowing through beautiful[52] country, was filled with rapids, and they had many hardships in passing them. At one place a canoe struck a rock, and immediately filled with water and sank. Several of the men could not swim, and were rescued with difficulty. At the same time they had to guard their supplies carefully at night from wandering Indians, who, although they were friendly, could not resist the temptation to steal small articles of all sorts. The rapids passed, the river brought them into the main stream of the Lewis River, and this in turn led them to the junction of the Lewis and Columbia Rivers, which they reached on October 17th. Here they parted from the last of the Nez Percés Indians. The Columbia had as many rapids as the smaller river, and in addition they came to the Great Falls, where they had to lower the canoes by ropes made of elkskin. At one or two places they had to make portages, but as this involved a great deal of extra labor, they tried to keep to the stream wherever they could. At one place a tremendous rock jutted into the river, leaving a channel only forty-five yards wide through which the Columbia passed, its waters tossed into great whirlpools and wild currents. Lewis decided that it would be impossible to carry the boats over this high rock, and determined to rely on skillful steering of them through the narrow passage. He succeeded in doing this, although Indians whom he had met shortly before had told him that it was impossible. At several places they[53] landed most of the men and all the valuable articles, and the two chief explorers took the canoes through the rapids themselves, not daring to trust the navigation to less experienced hands.

In this far-western country they were continually meeting wandering Indians, and they learned from them that the Pacific Ocean was not far distant. On October 28th Lewis found an Indian wearing a round hat and sailor's jacket, which had been brought up the river in trade, and soon after he found other red men wearing white men's clothes. On the thirty-first they came to more falls. Here they followed the example of their Indian friends, and carried the canoes and baggage across the slippery rocks to the foot of the rapids. The large canoes were brought down by slipping them along on poles, which were stretched from one rock to another. They had to stop constantly to make repairs to the boats, which had weathered all sorts of currents, and had been buffeted against innumerable rocks and tree-trunks. Then they discovered tide-water in the river, and pushed on eagerly to a place called Diamond Island. Here, Lewis wrote, "we met fifteen Indians ascending the river in two canoes; but the only information we could procure from them was that they had seen three vessels, which we presumed to be European, at the mouth of the Columbia."

They came to more and more Indian villages, generally belonging to the Skilloot tribe, who were very friendly, but who were too sharp at a bargain to[54] please Captain Lewis. On November 7, 1805, they reached a point from which they could see the ocean. Lewis says: "The fog cleared off, and we enjoyed the delightful prospect of the ocean—that ocean, the object of all our labors, the reward of all our anxieties. This cheering view exhilarated the spirits of all the party, who were still more delighted on hearing the distant roar of the breakers, and went on with great cheerfulness."

It was late in the year, and the captain wished to push on so that he might winter on the coast, but a heavy storm forced them to land and seek refuge under a high cliff. The waves on the river were very high, and the wind was blowing a gale directly from the sea; great waves broke over the place where they camped, and they had to use the utmost care to save their canoes from being smashed by drifting logs. Here they had to stay for six days, in which time their clothes and food were drenched, and their supply of dried fish exhausted; but the men bore these trials lightly now that they were so near the Pacific Ocean. When the gale ended they explored the country for a good place to establish their winter quarters. The captain finally decided to locate on a point of high land above the river Neutel, well beyond the highest tide, and protected by a grove of lofty pines. Here they made their permanent camp, which was called Fort Clatsop. They built seven wooden huts in which to spend the winter. They lived chiefly on elk, to which they added fish[55] and berries in the early spring. A whale stranded on the beach provided them with blubber, and they found salt on the shore. The winter passed without any unusual experiences, and gave the captain an opportunity to make a full record of the country through which he had passed, and of the Indian tribes he had met.

The original plan was to remain at Fort Clatsop until April, when Lewis expected to renew his stock of merchandise from the trading vessels, which visited the mouth of the Columbia every spring; but as the winter passed the constant rain brought sickness among the men, and game grew more and more scarce, so that it was decided to make an earlier return. Before they did this Lewis wrote out an account of his expedition, and arranged to have this delivered to the trading vessels when they should arrive, and in this way the news of his discoveries would not be lost in case anything should happen to his own party. The Indians agreed to deliver the packets, and one of the messages, carried by an American trader, finally reached Boston by way of China in February, 1807, some six months after Lewis himself had returned to the East. On March 24, 1806, they started back on their long route of four thousand one hundred and forty-four miles to St. Louis.

Searching for fish, they found the Multonah or Willamette River, and Lewis wrote that the valley of this stream would furnish the only desirable place of[56] settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. Here he found rich prairies, plenty of fish and game, unusual plants of various sorts, and abundant timber. Soon they reached the village of the Walla Walla Indians, who received them so hospitably that the captain said of all the Indians they had met since leaving the United States this tribe was the most honest and sincere. With twenty-three horses, and Walla Walla Indians as guides, they followed a new road up the valley of the Lewis or Snake River, which saved them eighty miles of their westward route. It was still too early to cross the mountains, and they camped near the place where they had trusted their thirty-eight horses to their Indian friends the autumn before. The Indians returned the horses in exchange for merchandise, and Lewis provided them with food. In all these meetings the squaw wife of the French trader was invaluable. Usually Lewis spoke in English, which was translated by one of his men into French for the benefit of the trapper Chaboneau, who repeated it in the tongue of the Minnetarees to his wife; she would then repeat the words in the Shoshone tongue, and most of the Indians could then understand them, or some could repeat them to the others in their own dialect.

Early in June they tried to cross the mountains, but the snow was ten feet deep on a level, and they had to abandon the attempt until late in the month. They finally crossed, and found their trail of the previous September. At this point the party divided[57] in order to explore different parts of the country. Lewis took a direct road to the Great Falls of the Missouri, where he wished to explore Maria's River. Clark went on to the head of the Jefferson River, where he was to find the canoes that they had hidden, and cross by the shortest route to the Yellowstone; and the two parties were to meet at the mouth of the Yellowstone River. Lack of game prevented Lewis getting far into the country along Maria's River. On this journey he fell in with a band of Minnetarees, and some of them tried to steal his guns and horses. The only real fight of the journey followed, in which two Indians were killed. He then continued eastward, and on August 7th reached the mouth of the Yellowstone, where he found a note telling him that Clark had camped a few miles below.

In the meantime Clark had explored a large part of the valleys of the Jefferson, Gallatin, and Madison Rivers, and had found a boiling-hot spring at the head of the Wisdom River, one of the first signs of the wonders of the Yellowstone. His journey was made safely and comfortably, although at one place he had to stop to build fresh canoes, and during this delay a band of Indians stole twenty-four of his packhorses.

The united party descended the Missouri, and found that other explorers were already following in their track. They met two men from Illinois who had pushed as far west as the Yellowstone on a[58] hunting trip, and back of them they heard of hunters and trappers who were pushing into this unexplored region. Travel homeward was rapid, and on September 23, 1806, the expedition arrived at St. Louis, from which they had started two years and four months before. At the place where they parted with the last of the Minnetarees they said goodbye to Chaboneau, his Indian wife, and child. The squaw had been of the greatest service to them; but for her it is possible that the expedition might never have been able to get through the Shoshone country. Lewis offered to take the three to the United States, but the French trader said that he preferred to remain among the Indians. He was paid five hundred dollars, which included the price of a horse and lodge that had been purchased from him.

The wonderful journey had been a complete success. The explorers had passed through strange tribes of Indians, dangers from hunger and hardship in the high mountains, the desert, and the plains, and had brought back a remarkable record of the scenes and people they had met. From their reports the people of the United States first learned the true value of that great Louisiana Territory, which had been bought for such a small price in money, but which was to furnish homesteads for thousands of pioneers. The work begun by the brave French explorers of earlier centuries was brought to a triumphant close by these two native American discoverers.


[59]

III

THE CONSPIRACY OF AARON BURR

There is a small island in the Ohio River, two miles below the town of Parkersburg, that is still haunted with the memory of a strange conspiracy. In 1805 the island, then some three hundred acres in size, belonged to an Irish gentleman, Harman Blennerhassett, who had built a beautiful home there and planted fields of hemp. For a time he and his family lived there in great content, Blennerhassett himself being devoted to science and to music, but presently he felt the need of increasing his small fortune and looked about for a suitable enterprise. Then there was introduced to him a gentleman from New York, a very well-known man by the name of Aaron Burr. He also was seeking to make his fortune, and he took Blennerhassett into his confidence. Together they plotted a conspiracy. They started to put their plans into action, and many people called them patriots, and many called them traitors. History does not know all the secrets of that small island, but it tells a curious story of the conspiracy.

Aaron Burr was a very talented and fascinating man, but he was a born adventurer. At this time he was about fifty years old. He had fought in the[60] Revolution, and practiced law in New York City, where he divided honors with Alexander Hamilton, the most brilliant attorney of the period. He had been elected a senator, and then had become a candidate for President of the United States. In the election of 1800 the Electoral College cast seventy-three votes apiece for Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, and these two candidates led all the others. As there was a tie, the choice of President was thrown into the House of Representatives, and there followed a long and bitter fight. Finally Jefferson was chosen President, and Burr Vice-President. In the long campaign Burr made many enemies, chief among whom were the powerful New York families of Clinton and Livingston. These men charged him with being a political trickster, and won most of his followers away from him. When Burr became a candidate for Governor of New York he was beaten, and his defeat was made more bitter by the stinging attacks of his old rival, Alexander Hamilton.

In that day it was still the custom for gentlemen to settle questions of honor on the dueling field. Burr, stung by Hamilton's criticisms, challenged him, and the two met on the heights of Weehawken, overlooking the Hudson River. Here Burr wounded Hamilton so severely that the latter died a few days later. Hounded by Hamilton's friends, the luckless Burr now found himself cast out by both the Federalists and Republicans, and with no[61] political future. Yet he knew that he had unusual talents for leadership. Still filled with ambition and in great need of money, he saw that there was little opportunity for him at home, and began to turn his eyes outside of the Republic.

The western world was then a wonderful field for daring adventurers. Thirteen small colonies lying close to the Atlantic Ocean had less than twenty years before thrown off the yoke of a great European nation. Men had already pushed west to the Mississippi, and settled the fertile fields beyond the Alleghanies. Across the great "Mother of Rivers" lay a vast tract that men knew little about. To the south lay Spanish colonies and islands. The Gulf of Mexico was the home of freebooters and pirates. In Europe a man of the people named Napoleon Bonaparte was carving out an empire for himself, and stirring the blood of all ambitious men. Soldiers of fortune everywhere were wondering whether they might not follow in Napoleon's footsteps.

It is hard to say in which direction Burr was tempted first. He wanted to hide his real plans not only from his own countrymen, but from the English, French, and Spanish agents as well. He first pretended to Anthony Merry, the British minister at Washington, that he intended to join a conspiracy to start a revolution in the Spanish colonies, in the hope of turning them into a new republic. Mr. Merry told his government that it would be to the[62] advantage of England if Mr. Burr's plans succeeded. But even then Burr was working on a different scheme. He thought that the people of Louisiana, a large territory at the mouth of the Mississippi River, which had only lately become a part of the United States, might be induced to separate into a new nation of their own. He needed money for his plans, and so he kept pointing out to the British minister the many advantages to England if either the Spanish colonies or Louisiana should win freedom. A third plan was also dawning in Burr's mind, the possibility of entering Mexico and carving out a kingdom there for himself. So he began by dealing with the agents of different countries, trying to get money from each for his own secret schemes.

In the spring of 1805 Burr set out for the West. He took coach for the journey over the mountains to Pittsburgh, where he had arranged by letter to meet General James Wilkinson, the governor of the new territory of Louisiana. Wilkinson was delayed, however, and so Burr embarked in an ark that he had ordered built to sail down the Ohio River. After several days on the water he reached Blennerhassett Island early in May. The owner of the island was away from home, but his wife invited Burr to their house, and he learned from her that her husband was looking for a way to mend his fortunes.

Next day Burr continued his journey in the ark. He reached Cincinnati, then a very small town of[63] fifteen hundred people, where he talked over his plans with several friends. From Cincinnati he went to Louisville, and from there rode to Frankfort. At Nashville he was the guest of Andrew Jackson, who was major-general of the Tennessee militia. Word spread about that Aaron Burr was plotting to free Florida and the West Indies from Spanish rule, and the liberty-loving settlers welcomed him with open arms.

Leaving Andrew Jackson, Burr floated in an open boat to the mouth of the Cumberland River, where his ark, which had come down the Ohio, was waiting for him. The ark made its first stop at a frontier post called Fort Massac, and there Burr met General Wilkinson of Louisiana. These two men were real soldiers of fortune. They had fought side by side at the walls of Quebec, and Wilkinson, like many another, had fallen under the spell of Burr's charm. They probably discussed the whole situation: how a small army might seize Florida, how a small navy could drive the Spaniards from Cuba, how a daring band of frontiersmen could march from Vera Cruz to the city of Mexico. Wilkinson seemed delighted with Burr's schemes, and when he left he provided his friend with a large barge manned by ten soldiers and a sergeant.

In this imposing vessel Burr sailed on down the Mississippi to New Orleans, and on June 25, 1805, landed at that quaint old city. It was already a place of much importance; seagoing ships and thousands[64] of river flatboats docked at its levees, for it was the chief port for sending goods to Mexico and the other Spanish colonies. Burr brought letters to many prominent people, and a public dinner was given in his honor. The visitor had been Vice-President of the United States, and was said to be the leader of a band of mysterious patriots. Enthusiasm ran high in New Orleans when their guest said, as he had already announced in Tennessee, that he intended to devote his life to overthrowing all Spanish rule in America.

Day after day the soldier of fortune was busy with his plans. When he started north on horseback he carried with him the fame of a great patriot. Wherever he stopped, at cabins, at villages, or cities, the frontiersmen wanted to shake his hand. He rode four hundred and fifty miles through the wilderness from Natchez to Nashville, where he again visited Andrew Jackson, who promised him Tennessee soldiers for a war on Spain. At St. Louis he learned that General Zebulon Pike was exploring the best route over the plains to Santa Fé, and many letters told him that the time was ripe to settle old grudges with the borderers of Mexico. Everything seemed favorable to his adventure. Burr had only to decide where he would strike first. He was back in the East by the middle of November, 1805, having filled the whole country with rumors of wild plots and insurrections. He was a figure of mystery. People whispered that Aaron Burr was to be the[65] Washington of a new republic in the West, or the king of a country to be carved out of Mexico.

By the summer of 1806 Burr knew that he could not get money from England to further his plans. He would have to depend on his own countrymen in any attack on Mexico or Spain. His journey had showed him that many of them were eager to follow his lead. Troubles were daily increasing along the borders of Florida and Mexico. It looked easy to take an army into Florida, but there would be more profit in the rich country to the southwest. His friend, General Wilkinson, had just been sent to drive the Mexicans across the Sabine River, the western boundary of Louisiana, and Burr thought this was a good chance to go west again, and perhaps call the settlers to arms. Men he trusted started west early in the summer of 1806, and Burr, with his daughter, and a Colonel De Pestre, who had fought in the French Revolution, and a few friends and servants, set out in August for their meeting-place on Blennerhassett Island. When he arrived there he was warmly welcomed by the owner. Burr showed Blennerhassett how he could make his fortune in Mexico, because if the conspiracy were successful they could take a large part of that country for themselves. Fired by Burr's story the men on the island immediately began preparations. They sent to the town of Marietta for one hundred barrels of pork, and contracted to have fifteen boats delivered at the island the following December. A[66] kiln was built near Blennerhassett's house for drying corn, which was then ground into meal, and packed for shipping. All sorts of provisions were purchased, and the Blennerhassett family prepared to send their household goods down the river. Word of the plans spread, and men in various towns near the Ohio made ready to join the expedition. When the leader should send out his messengers recruits would come pouring in.

In the meantime Burr himself had left the little island and covered a wide stretch of country. He wanted to be sure of Andrew Jackson's aid, and he found that fiery warrior as ready as ever to fight Spaniard or Mexican in the cause of liberty. The general still thought that his friend Burr's only object was to free all of North America. Eager in that cause, Jackson sent word to the Tennessee militia, urging them to be ready for instant duty against the Spaniards, who, he said, had already captured several citizens of the United States, had cut down our flag, had driven our explorers away from the Red River, and had taken an insulting position on the east bank of the River Sabine, in the territory of Orleans. He wrote to President Jefferson offering to lead his Tennessee militia against the troops of Spain. A large part of the country expected war at once. Burr, for his own purposes, did all he could to inflame this warlike feeling.

In October the chief conspirator met his daughter, Theodosia Alston, her husband, and Blennerhassett[67] at Lexington, Kentucky. He now arranged to buy a tract, known as the Bastrop lands, which included nearly a million acres in northern Louisiana on the Washita River. This purchase he meant to use as a blind, intending to settle there only in case his other plans failed. If the United States Government should suspect the conspirators of plotting against Mexico, they could pretend to be merely settlers, armed to defend themselves in case the Spaniards should overrun their borders. The tract would be valuable in any case, because of the rich bottom-lands and vast forests, and made a splendid base for a raid into the Spanish provinces.

Recruits were added daily to Burr's forces. He told them as much or as little of his schemes as he thought advisable. To some he said that he was a secret agent of the government, to others that he only meant to start a new pioneer settlement. If there should be war with Spain the men who followed him would share in the spoils, if victorious. If there was no war they would be ready to protect the border against invaders.

There were some people, however, who could not get over their distrust of Burr because of what he had done. The mysterious preparations at Blennerhassett Island caused some uneasiness in the neighborhood, and on October 6th a mass meeting of the people of Wood County, Virginia, was held, and the military preparations on the island were denounced. Blennerhassett was away at the time, but[68] his wife, hearing of the meeting, grew uneasy, and sent her gardener, Peter Taylor, to tell her husband this news. Taylor found the conspirators at Lexington, and gave them Mrs. Blennerhassett's message. The gardener was evidently taken into his master's confidence, because he said later that the plan was "to take Mexico, one of the finest and richest places in the whole world." He added, "Colonel Burr would be the King of Mexico, and Mrs. Alston, daughter of Colonel Burr, was to be Queen of Mexico, whenever Colonel Burr died.... Colonel Burr had made fortunes for many in his time, but none for himself; but now he was going to make something for himself. He said that he had a great many friends in the Spanish territory; no less than two thousand Roman Catholic priests were engaged, and all their friends would join, if once he could get to them; that the Spaniards, like the French, had got dissatisfied with their government, and wanted to swap it."

President Jefferson could no longer overlook the adventures of Burr and his friends. He knew that very little was needed to kindle the flame of war on the Mexican border. But he had his hands full with foreign affairs; England was making trouble for American sailors, and Napoleon was setting the whole world by the ears. So the busy President wrote to his agents in the West and urged them to keep a secret watch over Colonel Burr and Blennerhassett Island.

[69] War with Spain almost came that summer. There were many disputed boundary lines between the United States and the Spanish colonies. The Spanish troops in Florida, Texas, and Mexico were prepared for an attack from the United States, and Spanish agents were urging Indian tribes to rise against the white men. Men protested in Western cities and towns. The people of Orleans Territory were afraid that Spain was going to try to win back their country by force of arms. On the 4th of July, 1806, the people of New Orleans held a great patriotic celebration, and in the evening a play called, "Washington; or the Liberty of the New World," was acted to a huge audience. Even the Creoles, who were more Spanish than Anglo-Saxon, were eager to fight against the old tyranny of Spain.

In the midst of this war excitement word came that a man born in Venezuela, named Francesco Miranda, had sailed from New York to free his native country from Spanish rule. Miranda was looked upon as a hero and patriot by many people in the United States, and this encouraged Burr and his friends.

There were in 1806 about one thousand soldiers in Texas, which was then a province of Mexico. These troops were ordered to cross the Sabine River, which formed a part of the disputed boundary, and as soon as they did cross the governor of Louisiana called for volunteers, and the people of Mississippi Territory prepared to march to the aid[70] of New Orleans. The meeting place of the volunteers was Natchitoches, and there hundreds of countrymen came flocking, armed, and eager to defend Louisiana. Everything seemed ready for Aaron Burr to launch his great adventure. But at this point Burr's former friend, General James Wilkinson, the governor of Louisiana, changed his mind as to the wisdom of Burr's schemes. He would not give the order to the volunteers to march to the Mexican border, but waited, hoping that President Jefferson would prevent the war by diplomacy, or that the Spanish troops would decide to retreat.

On September 27th a great crowd in Nashville hailed Colonel Burr as the deliverer of the Southwest, and Andrew Jackson proclaimed, "Millions for defense; not one cent for tribute;" and at the same time the Mexican General Herrera ordered his troops to retreat from the River Sabine. Danger of war was over, and the moment the flag of Spain left the Louisiana shore, Burr's dream of an empire for himself and his friends vanished.

General Wilkinson knew that the government in Washington was suspicious of Aaron Burr's plans, and he thought that his name was included among those of Burr's friends. Some newspapers had even linked their names together, and the general, knowing perhaps the treachery of his own thoughts, now decided to prove his patriotism by accusing Aaron Burr and the others of treason. All the time that he was making a treaty with the Mexican general on[71] the Texan frontier he was also working up a strong case against Burr. He saw to it that the agents put all suspicion on the shoulders of the others, and made him appear as the one man who had tried his best to protect his country. He intended to show that not only was he not a traitor, but that he was able to unmask traitors, by having pretended to join with them earlier.

In his sudden eagerness to prevent war with the Mexicans, General Wilkinson made terms of peace with them, which proved a great disadvantage to the United States at a later date, but which pleased the peace party of the day. He met the Mexican general at the very time when Burr and his allies were ready to launch their fleet of boats on the Mississippi River. Then Wilkinson made haste to raise the cry of "Treason in the West," which was to echo through the United States for months, and ruin the reputation of many men.

President Jefferson trusted Wilkinson, and when he heard the latter's charges against Burr he sent a special messenger to see what was happening at Blennerhassett Island. Before the messenger reached the Alleghany Mountains, however, another man had accused Burr in the court at Frankfort, Kentucky, of having broken the laws of the country in starting an expedition against Mexico. Burr said that he could easily answer these charges, and sent a message to Blennerhassett, telling him not to be disturbed. He went to the court at Frankfort, and[72] when the man who had accused him could not bring his witnesses the matter was promptly dropped. Burr was more a hero than ever to the people of Frankfort. They agreed with a leading newspaper that said, "Colonel Burr has throughout this business conducted himself with the calmness, moderation, and firmness which have characterized him through life. He evinced an earnest desire for a full and speedy investigation—free from irritation or emotion; he excited the strongest sensation of respect and friendship in the breast of every impartial person present."

Burr then went back to Lexington, and continued raising money to buy a fleet of boats. Andrew Jackson had already received three thousand dollars in Kentucky for this purpose. Blennerhassett went on enrolling volunteers. It looked as if Burr's conduct at Frankfort had put an end to the rumors of treason.

General Wilkinson, however, was still anxious to make a name for himself as a great patriot, and he kept sending alarming messages to Washington. He accused his former friend of all sorts of treason. It was also perfectly clear that a large number of boats were being gathered on the Ohio under orders of Burr and his friends, and so President Jefferson sent word to the officers at Marietta to post one hundred and fifty or two hundred soldiers on the river to prevent Burr's fleet sailing. With the news of this order people in the West began to suspect[73] their former hero, and even some of his old allies grew doubtful of his patriotism.

Wilkinson increased the alarm by orders he gave in New Orleans as governor of Louisiana Territory. He began to make military arrests, locking up all those he distrusted, and all those who were admirers of Aaron Burr. He had gunboats stationed in the river, and they were ordered to fire on Burr's fleet if it ever got that far, and he refused to allow any boats to ascend the Mississippi without his express permission. All this preparation caused great excitement in New Orleans, which spread through the neighboring country. It seemed as if General Wilkinson were trying to force the people to believe there was some great conspiracy on foot.

The colonel and his allies tried to explain that their fleet of boats was simply to carry settlers, arms and provisions into the Bastrop tract of land that they had bought; but by now nobody would believe them. On December 9, 1806, the boats that Blennerhassett had been gathering on the Muskingum River were seized by order of the governor of Ohio. Patrols were placed along the Ohio River, and the militia called out to capture Blennerhassett and the men with him. The next day the Virginia militia declared that they meant to find out the secret of Blennerhassett Island. The owner and his friend, Comfort Tyler, had word of this, and at once prepared for flight. At midnight they left the island and started down the Ohio by boat. The Virginia[74] troops arrived to find the place deserted, and, leaving sentinels there, started in pursuit of Blennerhassett. The next day the sentries captured a flatboat with fourteen boys on board, who were coming from Pittsburgh to join Burr. People along the Ohio began to expect attacks from Burr's recruits. Cincinnati was especially alarmed. One of the newspapers there stated that three of Burr's armed boats were anchored near the city, which they meant to attack. That night some practical joker exploded a bomb, and the people thought that Burr's army was firing on them. The citizens armed, and the militia was called out, but when they came to inspect the boats on the river next day they found that those they thought belonged to Burr were vessels of a Louisville merchant loaded with dry-goods. No story was now too wild to be believed when it was attached to the name of Burr or Blennerhassett.

Burr now only intended to sail down to his own lands. On December 20th he sent word to Blennerhassett that he would be at the mouth of the Cumberland River on the twenty-third. Two days later he put a number of horses on one of his boats, and with a few men to help him, floated down the Cumberland River to its mouth, where Blennerhassett and the rest of their party were waiting for him. They joined their seven boats to his two vessels, and had a fleet of nine ships with about sixty men on board. On December 28th they sailed down the Ohio, and the next night anchored a little below Fort Massac.

[75] Country people along the river saw the flotilla pass, and sent word of it to the nearest military post. The captain there stopped all ships, but found nothing suspicious on any of them. "Colonel Burr, late Vice-President," the officer reported, "passed this way with about ten boats of different descriptions, navigated with about six men each, having nothing on board that would even suffer a conjecture more than that he was a man bound to market. He has descended the river toward Orleans."

On the last day of 1806 the fleet reached the broad waters of the Mississippi River. Four days later they dropped anchor at Chickasaw Bluffs, now the city of Memphis. Again officers boarded the boats, and after examining the cargoes allowed them to go on their voyage. On January 10th they reached Mississippi Territory, and here they found the excitement intense.

The fleet was now in territory that was under the charge of General Wilkinson, and he immediately sent three hundred and seventy-five soldiers from Natchez to prevent Burr's further progress. On January 16th two officers rowed out to the boats, and were received pleasantly by Colonel Burr, who laughed at General Wilkinson's suspicions, and, pointing to his peaceful flotilla, asked if it looked as if it were meant for war? When he was told that the soldiers had orders to stop him, he answered that he was willing to appear in court at any time. This satisfied the two officers, who asked him to ride next[76] day to the town of Washington, which was the capital of Mississippi Territory, and appear before the court there. Burr agreed, and early next morning rode to Washington with the two officers who had called on him. There he was charged with having conspired against the United States government. His friends on the river remained on their boats, waiting for his return. The expedition never went any farther.

Burr promised to stay in the Territory until the charges against him were cleared up. His charm of manner won him many friends, and people would not believe him a traitor. When the grand jury met they decided that Aaron Burr was not guilty of treason. The judge, however, would not set him free, and Burr realized that General Wilkinson was using all his power against him. He thought that his only chance of safety lay in defying the court, and taking the advice of some friends fled to a hiding-place near the home of Colonel Osmun, an old acquaintance. He meant to leave that part of the country, but the severe weather blocked his plans. Heavy rains had swollen all the streams, and he had to change his route. He set out with one companion, but had to ask a farmer the road to the house of Colonel Hinson. The farmer suspected that one of the horsemen was Aaron Burr, and knew that a large reward had been offered for his capture. He carried his news to the sheriff, and then to the officers at Fort Stoddert. A lieutenant from the fort[77] with four soldiers joined the farmer, and, mounting fast horses, they rode after the two men. Early the next morning they came up with them. The lieutenant demanded in the name of the government of the United States whether one of the horsemen was Colonel Burr. Aaron Burr admitted his name, and was put under arrest. He was taken to the fort, and held there as a fugitive from justice.

The cry of "Treason in the West" had been heard all over the country. The great expedition against Mexico had dwindled to a small voyage to settle certain timber-lands. The formidable fleet was only nine ordinary river boats. The army of rebels had shrunk to less than sixty peaceful citizens; and the store of arms and ammunition had been reduced to a few rifles and powder-horns. Moreover Aaron Burr had neither attempted to fight nor to resist arrest. He had merely fled when he thought he stood little chance of a fair trial. Yet the cry of treason had so alarmed the country that the government found it necessary to try the man who had so nearly defeated Jefferson for the Presidency.

Orders were sent to bring Aaron Burr east. After a journey that lasted twenty-one days the prisoner was lodged in the Eagle Tavern in Richmond, Virginia. Here Chief-Justice Marshall examined the charges against Burr, and held him in bail to appear at the next term of court. The bail was secured, and on the afternoon of April 1st Burr was once[78] more set at liberty. From then until the day of the trial interest in the case grew. Everywhere people discussed the question whether Aaron Burr had been a traitor to his country. By the time for the hearing of the case feeling against him ran high. When court met on May 22, 1807, Richmond was crowded with many of the most prominent men of the time, drawn by the charges against a man who had so lately been Vice-President.

It was not until the following August that Colonel Burr was actually put on trial. The question was simply whether he had planned to make war against the United States. There were many witnesses, led by the faithless General Wilkinson, who were ready to declare that the purpose of the meetings at Blennerhassett Island was to organize an army to divide the western country from the rest of the republic. Each side was represented by famous lawyers; and the battle was hard fought. In the end, however, the jury found that Aaron Burr was not guilty of treason. No matter what Burr and Blennerhassett and their friends had planned to do in Mexico, the jury could not believe they had been so mad as to plot a war against the United States.

Burr, although now free, was really a man without a country. He went to England and France, and in both countries engaged in plans for freeing the colonies of Spain. But both in England and in France the people looked upon him with suspicion, remembering his strange history. At the end of[79] four years he returned to the United States. Here he found that some of his early plans were coming to fulfilment. Revolts were breaking out in Florida, in Mexico, and in some of the West Indies. He was allowed no part in any of these uprisings. Florida became a part of the United States, and in time Burr saw the men of Texas begin a struggle for freedom from Mexico. When he read the news of this, he exclaimed, "There! You see! I was right! I was only thirty years too soon. What was treason in me thirty years ago is patriotism now!" Later he was asked whether he had really planned to divide the Union when he started on his voyage from Blennerhassett Island. He answered, "No; I would as soon have thought of taking possession of the moon, and informing my friends that I intended to divide it among them."

Such is the story of Aaron Burr, a real soldier of fortune, who wanted to carve out a new country for himself, and came to be "a man without a country."


[80]

IV

HOW THE YOUNG REPUBLIC FOUGHT THE BARBARY PIRATES

I

Long after pirates had been swept from the Western Ocean they flourished in the Mediterranean Sea. They hailed from the northern coast of Africa, where between the Mediterranean and the desert of Sahara stretched what were known as the Barbary States. These states were Morocco, Algeria, Tunis, Tripoli, and the tiny state of Barca, which was usually included in Tripoli. Algeria, or, as it was commonly called from the name of its capital, Algiers, was the home of most of the Mediterranean pirates.

There was hardly a port in the whole of that inland sea that had not seen a fleet of the pirates' boats sweep down upon some innocent merchant vessel, board her, overpower the crew, and carry them off to be sold in the African slave-markets. Their ships were usually square-rigged sailing vessels, which were commonly called galleons. The pirates did not trust to cannon, and the peculiar shape of the ships gave them a good chance for hand-to-hand fighting. The dark-skinned crew would climb out on the long lateen yards that hung over their enemies' deck, and[81] drop from the yards and from the rigging, their sabers held between their teeth, their loaded pistols stuck in their belts, so that they might have free use of their hands for climbing and clinging to ropes and gunwales.

Strange as it seems, the great countries of Europe made no real effort to destroy these pirates of the Barbary coast, but instead actually paid them bribes in order to protect their crews. The larger countries thought that, as they could afford to pay the tribute that the pirates demanded, and their smaller rivals could not, the pirates might actually serve them by annoying other countries. So England and France, and the other big nations of Europe, put up with all sorts of insults at the hands of these Moorish buccaneers, and many times their consuls were ill-treated and their sailors made to work in slave-gangs because they had not paid as much tribute as the Moors demanded.

Many an American skipper fell into the hands of these corsairs. The brig Polly of Newburyport, Massachusetts, was heading for the Spanish port of Cadiz in October, 1793, when she was overhauled by a brig flying the English flag. As the brig came near her captain hailed the Polly in English, asking where she was bound. Meanwhile the brig ran close in beside the Polly, and the Americans saw a large number of men, Moors by the look of their beards and dress, spring up from under the rail. This crew launched a big boat, and nearly one hundred men,[82] armed with swords, pistols, spears, and knives, were rowed up to the Polly. The Moors sprang on board. The Yankees were greatly outnumbered, and were driven into the cabin, while the pirates broke open all the trunks and chests, and stripped the brig of everything that could be moved. The prisoners were then rowed to the Moorish ship, which sailed for Algiers. There they were landed and marched to the palace of the Dey, or ruler of Algiers, while the people clapped their hands, shouted, and gave thanks for the capture of so many "Christian dogs." They were put in prison, where they found other Americans, and nearly six hundred Christians of other countries, all of whom were treated as slaves. On the next day each captive was loaded with chains, fastened around his waist and joined to a ring about his ankle. They were then set to work in rigging and fitting out ships, in blasting rocks in the mountains, or carrying stones for the palace the Dey was building. Their lot was but little better than that of the slaves of olden times who worked for the Pharaohs. As more American sailors were captured and made slaves their friends at home grew more and more eager to put an end to these pirates, and when the Revolution was over the young Republic of the United States began to heed the appeals for help that came from the slave-markets along the Barbary coast.

The Republic found, however, that so long as England and France were paying tribute to the[83] pirates it would be easier for her to do the same thing than to fight them. The American Navy was very small, and the Mediterranean was far distant. England seemed actually to be encouraging the pirates, thinking that their attacks on American ships would injure the country that had lately won its independence. So the United States made the best terms it could with the rulers of Algiers, Morocco, Tunis, and Tripoli, and paid heavy ransoms for the release of the captives. There was little self-respect or honor among the Moorish chiefs, however. One Dey succeeded another, each more greedy than the last, and each demanded more tribute money or threatened to seize all the Americans he could lay hands upon. The consuls had to be constantly making presents in order to keep the Moors in a good humor, and whenever the Dey felt the need of more money he would demand it of the United States consul, and threaten to throw him in prison if he refused.

This state of affairs was very unpleasant for free men, but for a number of years it had to be put up with. When Captain Bainbridge dropped anchor off Algiers in command of the United States frigate George Washington, the Dey demanded that he should carry a Moorish envoy to Constantinople with presents for the Sultan of Turkey. Bainbridge did not like to be treated as a messenger boy; but the Dey said, "You pay me tribute, by which you become my slaves. I have, therefore, a right to[84] order you as I may think proper." Bainbridge had no choice but to obey the command, or leave American merchant vessels at the mercy of the Moors, and so he carried the Dey's presents to the Sultan.

As all the Barbary States throve on war, in that way gaining support from the enemies of the country they attacked, one or the other was constantly making war. In May, 1801, the Pasha of Tripoli declared war against the United States, cut down the American flagstaff at his capital, and sent out his pirate ships. In reply the United States ordered a squadron of four vessels under command of Commodore Richard Dale to sail to the Mediterranean. This squadron did good service, capturing a number of the galleys of Tripoli, and exchanging Moorish prisoners for American slaves. But the pirates were like a swarm of hornets; they stung wherever they got a chance, and as soon as the war-ships were out of sight they would steal out from their hiding-places to terrorize the coast. The United States had to keep sending squadrons to act as policemen. When the fleet kept together the Moors had proper respect for them, but once the ships separated they became the target for the hornets.

The frigate Philadelphia, of thirty-six guns, was detailed in October, 1803, to blockade the port of Tripoli. The morning after she reached there she saw a ship inshore preparing to sail westward. The frigate gave chase, and as the other vessel carried the colors of Tripoli, the frigate opened fire. As she[85] chased the Moor the Philadelphia ran on a shelving rock that was part of a long reef. Her crew worked hard to get her off, but she stuck fast. As the Moors on shore saw the plight of the Philadelphia they manned their boats, and soon she was surrounded by a swarm of pirate galleys. The galleys sailed under the fire of the frigate's heavy guns, and came up to close quarters, where the cannon could not reach them. The Americans were helpless, and by sunset Commodore Bainbridge had to strike his flag. As soon as he surrendered the Moors swarmed over the sides of his ship, broke everything they could lay their hands on, stripped officers and men of their uniforms, and tumbled them into the small boats. The prisoners were landed at night, and led to the castle gate. The sailors were treated as slaves, but the officers were received by the Pasha in the great marble-paved hall of his palace, where that ruler, dressed in silks and jewels, and surrounded by a gorgeous court, asked them many questions, and later offered them supper. But the favor of the Pasha was as fickle as the wind; within a day or two he was treating the American officers much as he treated his other Christian captives, and the crew, three hundred and seven in number, were worked as slaves. Meantime the Moors, using anchors and cables, succeeded in pulling the Philadelphia off the reef, and the frigate was pumped out and made seaworthy. She was brought into the harbor, to the delight of the Pasha and his people at owning so[86] fine a war-ship. The loss of the Philadelphia was a severe blow, not only to American pride, but to American fortunes. The squadron was now much too small for service, and Bainbridge and his crew were hostages the United States must redeem.

It fell to the lot of Commodore Preble to take charge of the American ships in the Mediterranean, and he began to discuss terms of peace with Tripoli through an agent of the Pasha at Malta. By these terms the frigate Philadelphia was to be exchanged for a schooner, and the Moorish prisoners in Preble's hands, sixty in number, were to be exchanged for as many of the American prisoners in Tripoli, and the rest of the American captives were to be ransomed at five hundred dollars a man. Before these terms were agreed upon, however, a more daring plan occurred to the American commodore, and on February 3, 1804, he entrusted a delicate task to Stephen Decatur, who commanded the schooner Enterprise. Decatur picked a volunteer crew, put them on board the ships Siren and Intrepid, and sailed for Tripoli. They reached that port on February 7th, and to avoid suspicion the Intrepid drew away from the other ship and anchored after dark about a mile west of the town. A small boat with a pilot and midshipman was sent in to reconnoiter the harbor. They reported that the sea was breaking across the western entrance, and as the weather was threatening advised Decatur not to try to enter that night. The two American ships therefore stood offshore,[87] and were driven far to the east by a gale. The weather was so bad that it was not until February 16th that they returned to Tripoli. This time the Intrepid sailed slowly toward the town, while the Siren, disguised as a merchantman, kept some distance in the rear.

The frigate Philadelphia, now the Pasha's prize ship, lay at anchor in the harbor, and the Intrepid slowly drifted toward her in the light of the new moon. No one on ship or shore realized the real purpose of the slowly-moving Intrepid. Had the men at the forts on shore or the watchman at the Pasha's castle suspected her purpose they could have blown her from the water with their heavy guns.

The Intrepid drifted closer and closer, with her crew hidden, except for six or eight men dressed as Maltese sailors. Decatur stood by the pilot at the helm. When the little ship was about one hundred yards from the Philadelphia she was hailed and ordered to keep away. The pilot answered that his boat had lost her anchor in the storm, and asked permission to make fast to the frigate for the night. This was given, and the Moorish officer on the Philadelphia asked what the ship in the distance was. The pilot said that she was the Transfer, a vessel lately purchased at Malta by the Moors, which was expected at Tripoli about that time. The pilot kept on talking in order to lull the Moors' suspicions, and meantime the little Intrepid came close under the port bow of the Philadelphia. Just then the wind[88] shifted and held the schooner away from the frigate, and directly in range of her guns. Again the Moors had a chance to destroy the American boat and crew if they had known her real object. They did not suspect it, however. Each ship sent out a small boat with a rope, and when the ropes were joined the two ships were drawn close together.

When the vessels were almost touching some one on the Philadelphia suddenly shouted, "Americanos!" At the same moment Decatur gave the order "Board!" and the American crew sprang over the side of the frigate and jumped to her deck. The Moors were huddled on the forecastle. Decatur formed his men in line and charged. The surprised Moors made little resistance, and Decatur quickly cleared the deck of them; some jumped into the sea, and others escaped in a large boat. The Americans saw that they could not get the Philadelphia safely out of the harbor, and so quickly brought combustibles from the Intrepid, and stowing them about the Philadelphia, set her on fire. In a very few minutes she was in flames, and the Americans jumped from her deck to their own ship. It took less than twenty minutes to capture and fire the Philadelphia.

Decatur ordered his men to the oars, and the Intrepid beat a retreat from the harbor. But now the town of Tripoli was fully aroused. The forts opened fire on the little schooner. A ship commanded the channel through which she had to sail,[89] but fortunately for the Intrepid the Moors' aim was poor, and the only shot that struck her was one through the topgallantsail. The harbor was brightly lighted now. The flames had run up the mast and rigging of the Philadelphia, and as they reached the powder loud explosions echoed over the sea. Presently the cables of the frigate burned, and the Philadelphia drifted ashore and blew up. In the meantime the Intrepid reached the entrance safely, and joining the Siren set sail for Syracuse.

The blowing up of the Philadelphia was one of the most daring acts ever attempted by the United States Navy, and won Decatur great credit. It weakened the Pasha's strength, and kept his pirate crews in check. Instead of making terms with the Moorish ruler, the United States decided to attack his capital, and in the summer of 1804, Commodore Preble collected his squadron before Tripoli. On August 3d the fleet approached the land batteries, and in the afternoon began to throw shells into the town. The Moors immediately opened fire, both from the forts and from their fleet of nineteen gunboats and two galleys that lay in the harbor. Preble divided his ships, and ordered them to close in on the enemy's vessels, although the latter outnumbered them three to one. Again Decatur was the hero of the fight. He and his men boarded a Moorish gunboat and fought her crew hand-to-hand across the decks. He captured the first vessel, and then boarded a second. Decatur[90] singled out the captain, a gigantic Moor, and made for him. The Moor thrust at him with a pike, and Decatur's cutlass was broken off at the hilt. Another thrust of the pike cut his arm, but the American seized the weapon, tore it away, and threw himself on the Moor. The crews were fighting all around their leaders, and a Moorish sailor aimed a blow at Decatur's head with a scimitar. An American seaman struck the blow aside, and the scimitar gashed his own scalp. The Moorish captain, stronger than Decatur, got him underneath, and drawing a knife, was about to kill him, when Decatur caught the Moor's arm with one hand, thrust his other hand into his pocket, and fired his revolver. The Moor was killed, and Decatur sprang to his feet. Soon after the enemy's crew surrendered. The other United States ships had been almost as successful, and the battle taught the Americans that the Barbary pirates could be beaten in hand-to-hand fighting as well as at long range.


Decatur Caught the Moor's Arm

The Pasha was not ready to come to terms even after that day's defeat, however, and on August 7th Commodore Preble ordered another attack. Again the harbor shook under the guns of the fleet and the forts, and at sunset Preble had to withdraw. To avoid further bloodshed the commodore sent a flag of truce to the Pasha, and offered to pay eighty thousand dollars for the ransom of the American prisoners, and to make him a present of ten thousand dollars more. The Pasha, however, demanded one[91] hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and Preble was not willing to pay that amount. So later in August he attacked Tripoli again. Each of these bombardments did great damage to the city, but the forts were too strong to be captured. The blockading fleet, however, held its position, and on September 3d opened fire again in the last of its assaults. In spite of the heavy firing the Pasha refused to pull down his flag.

On the night of September 4th a volunteer crew took the little Intrepid into the harbor. She was filled with combustibles, and when she was close to the Moorish ships the powder was to be fired by a fuse that would give time for the crew to escape in a small boat. The night was dark, and the fleet soon lost sight of this fire-ship. She took the right course through the channel, but before she was near the Moors she was seen and they opened fire on her. Then came a loud explosion, and the Intrepid, with her crew, was blown into the air. No one knows whether one of the enemy's shots or her own crew fired the powder. This was the greatest disaster that befell the United States Navy during all its warfare with the Barbary pirates. Soon after Commodore Preble sailed for home, though most of his fleet were kept in the Mediterranean to protect American sailing vessels.

The government at Washington, tired with the long warfare in the Mediterranean, soon afterward ordered the consul at Algiers, Tobias Lear, to treat[92] for peace with the Pasha. A bargain was finally struck. One hundred Moors were exchanged for as many of the American captives, and sixty thousand dollars were paid as ransom for the rest. June 4, 1805, the American sailors, who had been slaves for more than nineteen months, were released from their chains and sent on board the war-ship Constitution. The Pasha declared himself a friend of the United States, and saluted its flag with twenty-one guns from his castle and forts.

In the Barbary States rulers followed one another in rapid succession. He who was Dey or Pasha one week might be murdered by an enemy the next, and that enemy on mounting the throne was always eager to get as much plunder as he could. Treaties meant little to any of them, and so other countries kept on paying them tribute for the sake of peace.

The United States fell into the habit of buying peace with Algiers, Tripoli, Morocco, and Tunis by gifts of merchandise or gold or costly vessels. But the more that was given to them the more greedy these Moorish rulers grew, and so it happened that from time to time they sent out their pirates to board American ships in order to frighten the young Republic into paying heavier tribute. Seven years later the second chapter of our history with the Barbary pirates opened.

II

The brig Edwin of Salem, Massachusetts, was sailing under full canvas through the Mediterranean[93] Sea, bound out from Malta to Gibraltar, on August 25, 1812. At her masthead she flew the Stars and Stripes. The weather was favoring, the little brig making good speed, and the Mediterranean offered no dangers to the skipper. Yet Captain George Smith, and his crew of ten Yankee sailors, kept constantly looking toward the south at some distant sails that had been steadily gaining on them since dawn. Every stitch of sail on the Edwin had been set, but she was being overhauled, and at this rate would be caught long before she could reach Gibraltar.

Captain Smith and his men knew who manned those long, low, rakish-looking frigates. But the Edwin carried no cannon, and if they could not out-sail the three ships to the south they must yield peaceably, or be shot down on their deck. Hour after hour they watched, and by sunset they could see the dark, swarthy faces of the leading frigate's crew. Before night the Edwin had been overhauled, boarded, and the Yankee captain and sailors were in irons, prisoners about to be sold into slavery.

They had been captured by one of the pirate crews of the Dey of Algiers, and when they were taken ashore by these buccaneers they were stood up in the slave market and sold to Moors, or put to work in the shipyards. Other Yankee crews had met with the same treatment.

Now the United States had been paying its tribute regularly to the pirates, but in the spring of 1812 the Dey of Algiers suddenly woke up to the fact that the[94] Americans had been measuring time by the sun while the Moors figured it by the moon, and found that in consequence he had been defrauded of almost a half-year's tribute money, or twenty-seven thousand dollars. He sent an indignant message to Tobias Lear, the American consul at Algiers, threatening all sorts of punishments, and Mr. Lear, taking all things into account, decided it was best to pay the sum claimed by the Dey. The United States sent the extra tribute in the shape of merchandise by the sailing vessel Alleghany; but the Dey was now in a very bad temper, and declared that the stores were of poor quality, and ordered the consul to leave at once in the Alleghany, as he would have no further dealings with a country that tried to cheat him. At almost the same time he received a present from England of two large ships filled with stores of war,—powder, shot, anchors, and cables. He immediately sent out word to the buccaneers to capture all the American ships they could, and sell the sailors in the slave-markets. The Dey of Algiers appeared to have no fear of the United States.

The truth of the matter was that his Highness the Dey, and also the Bey of Tunis, had been spoiled by England, who at this time told them confidently that the United States Navy was about to be wiped from the seas. English merchants assured them that they could treat Captain Smith and other Yankee skippers exactly as they pleased, since Great Britain had declared war on the United States, and[95] the latter country would find herself quite busy at home. Algiers and Tripoli and Tunis, remembering their old grudge against the Americans, assured their English friends that nothing would delight them so much as to rid the Mediterranean of the Stars and Stripes.

The pirates swept down on the brig Edwin, and laid hands on every American they could find in the neighborhood. They stopped and boarded a ship flying the Spanish flag, and took prisoner a Mr. Pollard, of Virginia. Tripoli and Tunis permitted English cruisers to enter their harbors, contrary to the rules of war, and recapture four English prizes that had been sent to them by the American privateer Abellino. When the United States offered to pay a ransom of three thousand dollars for every American who was held as a prisoner the Dey replied that he meant to capture a large number of them before he would consider any terms of sale.

Our country was young and poor, and our navy consisted of only seventeen seaworthy ships, carrying less than four hundred and fifty cannon. England was indeed "Mistress of the Seas," with a great war-fleet of a thousand vessels, armed with almost twenty-eight thousand guns. No wonder that the British consul at Algiers had told the Dey "the American flag would be swept from the seas, the contemptible navy of the United States annihilated, and its maritime arsenals reduced to a heap of ruins." No wonder the Dey believed him. But as[96] a matter of fact the little David outfought the giant Goliath; on the Great Lakes and on the high seas the Stars and Stripes waved triumphant after many a long and desperate encounter, and the small navy came out of the War of 1812 with a glorious record of victories, with splendid officers and crews, and with sixty-four ships. The English friends of the Barbary States had been mistaken, and Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli began to wish they had not been so scornful of the Yankees.

It was time to show the pirates that Americans had as much right to trade in the Mediterranean as other people. On February 23, 1815, a few days after the treaty of peace with England was published, President Madison advised that we should send a fleet to Algiers. Two squadrons were ordered on this service, under command of Commodore William Bainbridge. One collected at Boston, and the other at New York. Commodore Stephen Decatur was in charge of the latter division.

Decatur's squadron was the first to sail, leaving New York on May 20, 1815. He had ten vessels in all, his flag-ship being the forty-four-gun frigate Guerrière, and his officers and crew being all seasoned veterans of the war with England. The fleet of the Dey of Algiers, however, was no mean foe. It consisted of twelve vessels, well armed and manned, six sloops, five frigates, and one schooner. Its admiral was a very remarkable man, one of the fierce tribe of Kabyles from the mountains, Reis[97] Hammida by name, who had made himself the scourge of the Mediterranean. He had plenty of reckless courage; once he had boarded and captured in broad daylight a Portuguese frigate under the very cliffs of Gibraltar, and at another time, being in command of three Algerine frigates, had dared to attack a Portuguese ship of the line and three frigates, in face of the guns leveled at him from the Rock of Lisbon, directly opposite.

The city of Algiers itself was one of the best fortified ports on the Mediterranean. It lay in the form of a triangle, one side extending along the sea, while the other two rose against a hill, meeting at the top at the Casbah, the historic fortress of the Deys. The city was guarded by very thick walls, mounted with many guns, and the harbor, made by a long mole, was commanded by heavy batteries, so that at least five hundred pieces of cannon could be brought to bear on any hostile ships trying to enter.

Decatur's fleet was only a few days out of New York when it ran into a heavy gale, and the wooden ships were badly tossed about. The Firefly, a twelve-gun brig, sprung her masts, and had to put back to port. The other ships rode out the storm, and kept on their course to the Azores, keeping a sharp watch for any suspicious-looking craft. As they neared the coast of Portugal the vigilance was redoubled, for here was a favorite hunting-ground of Reis Hammida, and Decatur knew what the Algerine admiral had done before the Rock of Lisbon.[98] They found no trace of the enemy here, however. At Cadiz Decatur sent a messenger to the American consul, who informed him that three Algerine frigates and some smaller ships had been spoken in the Atlantic Ocean, but were thought to have returned to the Mediterranean.

Decatur wanted to take the enemy by surprise, and so sailed cautiously to Tangier, where he learned that two days earlier Reis Hammida had gone through the Straits of Gibraltar in the forty-six-gun frigate Mashuda. The American captain at once set sail for Gibraltar, and found out there that the wily Algerine was lying off Cape Gata, having demanded that Spain should pay him half a million dollars of tribute money to protect her coast-towns from attack by his fleet.

Lookouts on the Guerrière reported to Decatur that a despatch-boat had left Gibraltar as soon as the American ships appeared, and inquiry led the captain to believe the boat was bearing messages to Reis Hammida. Other boats were sailing for Algiers, and Decatur, realizing the ease with which his wily opponent, thoroughly familiar with the inland sea, would be able to elude him, decided to give chase at once.

The fleet headed up the Mediterranean June 15th, under full sail. The next evening ships were seen near shore, and Decatur ordered the frigate Macedonian and two brigs to overhaul them. Early the following morning, when the fleet was about twenty[99] miles out from Cape Gata, Captain Gordon, of the frigate Constellation, sighted a big vessel flying the flag of Algiers, and signaled "An enemy to the southeast."

Decatur saw that the strange ship had a good start of his fleet, and was within thirty hours' run of Algiers. He suspected that her captain might not have detected the fleet as American, and ordered the Constellation back to her position abeam of his flag-ship, gave directions to try to conceal the identity of his squadron, and stole up on the stranger. The latter was seen to be a frigate, lying to under small sail, as if waiting for some message from the African shore near at hand. One of the commanders asked permission to give chase, but Decatur signaled back "Do nothing to excite suspicion."

The Moorish frigate held her position near shore while the American ships drew closer. When they were about a mile distant a quartermaster on the Constellation, by mistake, hoisted a United States flag. To cover this blunder the other ships were immediately ordered to fly English flags. But the crew of the Moorish frigate had seen the flag on the Constellation, and instantly swarmed out on the yard-arms, and had the sails set for flight. They were splendid seamen, and almost immediately the frigate was leaping under all her canvas for Algiers. The Americans were busy too. The rigging of each ship was filled with sailors, working out on the yards, the decks rang with commands, and messages were[100] signaled from the flag-ship to the captains. Decatur crowded on all sail, fearing that the Algerine frigate might escape him in the night or seek refuge in some friendly harbor, and the American squadron raced along at top speed, just as the Barbary pirates had earlier chased after the little brig Edwin, of Salem.

Soon the Constellation, which was to the south of the fleet and so nearest to the Moorish frigate, opened fire and sent several shots on board the enemy. The latter immediately came about, and headed northeast, as if making for the port of Carthagena. The Americans also tacked, and gained by this manœuvre, the sloop Ontario cutting across the Moor's course, and the Guerrière being brought close enough for musketry fire.

As the flag-ship came to close quarters the Moors opened fire, wounding several men, but Decatur waited until his ship cleared the enemy's yard-arms, when he ordered a broadside. The crew of the Algerine frigate, which was the Mashuda, were mowed down by this heavy fire. Reis Hammida himself had already been wounded by one of the first shots from the Constellation. He had, however, insisted on continuing to give orders from a couch on the quarter-deck, but a shot from the first broadside killed him. The Guerrière's gun crews loaded and fired again before the first smoke had cleared; at this second broadside one of her largest guns exploded, killing three men, wounding seventeen, and splintering the spar-deck.

[101] The Moors made no sign of surrender, but Decatur, seeing that there were too few left to fight, and not wishing to pour another broadside into them, sailed past, and took a position just out of range. The Algerines immediately tried to run before him. In doing this the big Mashuda was brought directly against the little eighteen-gun American brig Epervier, commanded by John Downes. Instead of sailing away Downes placed his brig under the Moor's cabin ports, and by backing and filling escaped colliding with the frigate while he fired his small broadsides at her. This running fire, lasting for twenty-five minutes, finished the Moor's resistance, and the frigate surrendered.

The flag-ship, the Guerrière, now took charge of the Algerine prize, and Decatur sent an officer, two midshipmen, and a crew on board her. The Mashuda was a sorry sight, many of her men killed or wounded, and her decks splintered by the American broadsides. The prisoners were transferred to the other ships, and orders were given to the prize-crew to take the captured frigate to the port of Carthagena, under escort of the Macedonian.

Before this was done, however, Decatur signaled all the officers to meet on his flag-ship. In the cabin they found a table covered with captured Moorish weapons,—daggers, pistols, scimitars, and yataghans. Decatur turned to Commandant Downes, who had handled the small Epervier so skilfully. "As you were fortunate in obtaining a favorable position and[102] maintained it so handsomely, you shall have the first choice of these weapons," he said. Downes chose, and then each of the other officers selected a trophy of the victory. That evening the squadron, leaving the Mashuda in charge of the Macedonian, resumed its hunt for other ships belonging to the navy of the piratical Dey.

The fleet was arriving off Cape Palos on June 19th when a brig was seen, looking suspiciously like an Algerine craft. When the Americans set sail toward her, the stranger ran away. Soon she came to shoal water, and the frigates had to leave the chase to the light-draught Epervier, Spark, Torch, and Spitfire. These followed and opened fire. The strange brig returned several shots, and was then run aground by her crew on the coast between the watch-towers of Estacio and Albufera, which had been built long before for the purpose of protecting fishermen and peasants from the raids of pirates. The strangers took to their small boats. One of these was sunk by a shot. The Americans then boarded the ship, which was the Algerine twenty-two-gun brig Estedio, and captured eighty-three prisoners. The brig was floated off the shoals and sent with a prize-crew into the Spanish port of Carthagena.

Decatur, being unable to sight any more ships that looked like Moorish craft, and supposing that the rest of the pirate fleet would probably be making for Algiers, gave commands to his squadron to sail for that port. He was determined to bring the[103] Dey to terms as quickly as possible, and to destroy his fleet, or bombard the city, if that was necessary. When he arrived off the Moorish town, however, he found none of the fleet there, and no apparent preparation for war in the harbor. The next morning he ran up the Swedish flag at the mainmast, and a white flag at the foremast, a signal asking the Swedish consul to come on board the flag-ship. Mr. Norderling, the consul, came out to the Guerrière, accompanied by the Algerine captain of the port. After some conversation Decatur asked the latter for news of the Dey's fleet. "By this time it is safe in some neutral port," was the assured answer.

"Not all of it," said Decatur, "for we have captured the Mashuda and the Estedio."

The Algerine could not believe this, and told the American so. Then Decatur sent for a wounded lieutenant of the Mashuda, who was on his ship, and bade him confirm the statement. The Moorish officer of the port immediately changed his tactics, dropped his haughty attitude, and gave Decatur to understand that he thought the Dey would be willing to make a new treaty of peace with the United States.

Decatur handed the Moor a letter from the President to the Dey, which stated that the Republic would only agree to peace provided Algiers would give up her claim to tribute and would cease molesting American merchantmen.

The Moor wanted to gain as much time as possible,[104] hoping his fleet would arrive, and said that it was the custom to discuss all treaties in the palace on shore. Decatur understood the slow and crafty methods of these people, and answered that the treaty should be drawn up and signed on board the Guerrière or not at all. Seeing that there was no use in arguing with the American the Moorish officer went ashore to consult with the Dey.

Next day, June 30th, the captain of the port returned, with power to act for his Highness Omar Pasha. Decatur told him that he meant to put an end to these piratical attacks on Americans, and insisted that all his countrymen who were being held as slaves in Algiers should be given up, that the value of goods taken from them should be paid them, that the Dey should give the owners of the brig Edwin of Salem ten thousand dollars, that all Christians who escaped from Algiers to American ships should be free, and that the two nations should act toward each other exactly as other civilized countries did. Then the Moorish officer began to explain and argue. He said that it was not the present ruling Dey, Omar Pasha, called "Omar the Terrible" because of his great courage, who had attacked American ships; it was Hadji Ali, who was called the "Tiger" because of his cruelty, but he had been assassinated in March, and his prime minister, who succeeded him, had been killed the following month, and Omar Pasha was a friend of the United States. Decatur replied that his terms for peace could not be altered.

[105] The Moor then asked for a truce while he should go ashore and confer with the Dey. Decatur said he would grant no truce. The Algerine besought him to make no attack for three hours. "Not a minute!" answered Decatur. "If your squadron appears before the treaty is actually signed by the Dey, and before the American prisoners are sent aboard, I will capture it!"

The Moorish captain said he would hurry at once to the Dey, and added that if the Americans should see his boat heading out to the Guerrière with a white flag in the bow they would know that Omar Pasha had agreed to Decatur's terms.

An hour later the Americans sighted an Algerine war-ship coming from the east. Decatur signaled his fleet to clear for action, and gave orders to his own men on the Guerrière. The fleet had hardly weighed anchor, however, before the small boat of the port captain was seen dashing out from shore, a white flag in the bow. The excited Moor waved to the crew of the flag-ship. As soon as the boat was near enough Decatur asked if the Dey had signed the treaty, and set the American captives free. The captain assured him of this, and a few minutes later his boat was alongside the flag-ship, and the Americans, who had been seized and held by the pirates, were given over to their countrymen. Some of them had been slaves for several years, and their delight knew no bounds.

In so short a time did Decatur succeed in bringing[106] the Dey to better terms than he had made with any other country. When the treaty had been signed the Dey's prime minister said to the English consul, with reproach in his voice, "You told us that the Americans would be swept from the seas in six months by your navy, and now they make war upon us with some of your own vessels which they have taken." As a fact three of the ships in Decatur's squadron had actually been won from the English in the War of 1812.

The Epervier, commanded by Lieutenant John Templer Shubrick, was now ordered to return to the United States, with some of the Americans rescued from Algiers. The fate of the brig is one of the mysteries of the sea. She sailed through the Straits of Gibraltar July 12, 1815, and was never heard of again. She is supposed to have been lost in a heavy storm in which a number of English merchantmen foundered near the West Indies.

Algiers had now been brought to her knees by Decatur, and he was free to turn to Tunis and Tripoli. The rulers of each of these countries had been misled by the English agents exactly as had the Dey of Algiers, and the Bey of Tunis had allowed the British cruiser Lyra to recapture some English prizes that the American privateer Abellino had taken into harbor during the War of 1812. Like Algiers, both Tunis and Tripoli were well protected by fleets and imposing forts. Decatur, however, had now learned that downright and prompt measures[107] were the ones most successful in dealing with the Moors, who were used to long delays and arguments. He anchored off Tunis on July 26th, and immediately sent word to the Bey that the latter must pay the United States forty-six thousand dollars for allowing the English Lyra to seize the American prizes, and that the money must be paid within twelve hours.

The United States consul, Mordecai M. Noah, carried Decatur's message to the Bey. The Moorish ruler was seated on a pile of cushions at a window of his palace, combing his long, flowing black beard with a tortoise-shell comb set with diamonds. Mr. Noah politely stated Decatur's terms.

"Tell your admiral to come and see me," said the Bey.

"He declines coming, your Highness," answered the consul, "until these disputes are settled, which are best done on board the ship."

The Bey frowned. "But this is not treating me with becoming dignity. Hammuda Pasha, of blessed memory, commanded them to land and wait at the palace until he was pleased to receive them."

"Very likely, your Highness," said Mr. Noah, "but that was twenty years ago."

The Bey considered. "I know this admiral," he remarked at length; "he is the same one who, in the war with Sidi Yusuf, burned the frigate." He referred to Decatur's burning the Philadelphia in the earlier warfare.

The consul nodded. "The same."

[108] "Hum!" said the Bey. "Why do they send wild young men to treat for peace with old powers? Then, you Americans do not speak the truth. You went to war with England, a nation with a great fleet, and said you took her frigates in equal fight. Honest people always speak the truth."

"Well, sir, and that was true. Do you see that tall ship in the bay flying a blue flag?" The consul pointed through the window. "It is the Guerrière, taken from the British. That one near the small island, the Macedonian, was also captured by Decatur on equal terms. The sloop near Cape Carthage, the Peacock, was also taken in battle."

The Bey, looking through his telescope, saw a small vessel leave the American fleet and approach the forts. A man appeared to be taking soundings. The Bey laid down the telescope. "I will accept the admiral's terms," said he, and resumed the combing of his beard.

Later he received Decatur with a great show of respect. The American consul was also honored, but the British was not treated so well. When a brother of the prime minister paid the money over to Decatur the Moor turned to the Englishman, and said, "You see, sir, what Tunis is obliged to pay for your insolence. You should feel ashamed of the disgrace you have brought upon us. I ask you if you think it just, first to violate our neutrality and then to leave us to be destroyed or pay for your aggressions?"

[109] Having settled matters with Tunis, Decatur sailed for Tripoli, and there sent his demands to the Pasha. He asked thirty thousand dollars in payment for two American prizes of war that had been recaptured by the British cruiser Paulina, a salute of thirty-one guns to be fired from the Pasha's palace in honor of the United States flag, and that the treaty of peace be signed on board the Guerrière.

The Pasha pretended to be offended, summoned his twenty thousand Arab soldiers and manned his cannon; but when he heard how Algiers and Tunis had already made peace with Decatur, and saw that the Americans were all prepared for battle, he changed his tactics and sent the governor of Tripoli to the flag-ship to treat for peace. The American consul told Decatur that twenty-five thousand dollars would make good the lost prize-ships, but that the Pasha was holding ten Christians as slaves in Tripoli. Decatur thereupon reduced the amount of his claim on condition that the slaves should be released. This was agreed to. The prisoners, two of whom were Danes, and the others Sicilians, were sent to the flag-ship, and by way of compliment the band of the Guerrière went ashore and played American airs to the delight of the people.

The American captain now ordered the rest of his squadron to sail to Gibraltar, while the Guerrière landed the prisoners at Sicily. As the flag-ship came down the coast from Carthagena she met that part of the Algerine fleet that had put into Malta[110] when the Americans first arrived in the Mediterranean. The Guerrière was alone, and Decatur thought that the Moors, finding him at such a disadvantage, might break their treaty of peace, and attack him. He called his men to the quarter-deck. "My lads," said he, "those fellows are approaching us in a threatening manner. We have whipped them into a treaty, and if the treaty is to be broken let them break it. Be careful of yourselves. Let any man fire without orders at the peril of his life. But let them fire first if they will, and we'll take the whole of them!"

The decks were cleared, and every man stood ready for action. The fleet of seven Algerine ships sailed close to the single American frigate in line of battle. The crews looked across the bulwarks at each other, but not a word was said until the last Algerine ship was opposite. "Where are you going?" demanded the Moorish admiral.

"Wherever it pleases me," answered Decatur; and the Guerrière sailed on her course.

Early in October there was a great gathering of American ships at Gibraltar. Captain Bainbridge's fleet, which included the seventy-four-gun ship of the line Independence, was there when Decatur arrived. The war between the United States and England was only recently ended, and the presence of so many ships of the young Republic at the English Rock of Gibraltar caused much talk among the Spaniards and other foreigners. The sight of ships[111] which had been English, but which were now American, added to the awkward situation, and more than one duel was fought on the Rock as the result of disputes over the War of 1812.

The Dey of Algiers, left to his own advisers and to the whispers of men who were jealous of the United States' success, began to wish he had not agreed to the treaty he had made with Decatur. His own people told him that a true son of the Prophet should never have humbled himself before the Christian dogs. In addition the English government agreed to pay him nearly four hundred thousand dollars to ransom twelve thousand prisoners of Naples and Sardinia that he was holding. Before everything else the Dey was greedy. Therefore when Captain Oliver Hazard Perry, the hero of the battle of Lake Erie, brought out in the Java a copy of the treaty after it had been ratified by the United States Senate, and it was presented to the Dey by the American consul, William Shaler, the ruler of Algiers pretended that the United States had changed the treaty, and complained of the way in which Decatur had dealt with the Algerine ships. Next day he refused to meet Mr. Shaler again, and sent the treaty back to him, saying that the Americans were unworthy of his confidence. Mr. Shaler hauled down the flag at his consulate, and boarded the Java.

Fortunately there were five American ships near Algiers; and these were made ready to open fire on[112] the Moorish vessels in the harbor. Plans were also made for a night attack. The small boats of the fleet were divided into two squadrons, to be filled by twelve hundred volunteer sailors. One division was to make for the water battery and try to spike its guns, while the other was to attack the batteries on shore. Scaling-ladders were ready, and the men were provided with boarding-spikes; but shortly before they were to embark the captain of a French ship in the harbor got word of the plan and carried the information to the Dey. The latter was well frightened, and immediately sent word that he would do whatever his good friends from America wanted. The next day Mr. Shaler landed again, and the Dey signed the treaty.

The fleet then called a second time on the Bey of Tunis, who had been grumbling about his dissatisfaction with Decatur's treatment. He too, however, was most friendly when American war-ships poked their noses toward his palace. After that the Barbary pirates let American merchantmen trade in peace, although an American squadron of four ships was kept in the Mediterranean to see that the Dey, and the Bey, and the Pasha did not forget, and go back to their old tricks.

So it was that Decatur put an end to the African pirates, so far as the United States was concerned, and taught them that sailors of the young Republic, far away though it was, were not to be made slaves by greedy Moorish rulers.


[113]

V

THE FATE OF LOVEJOY'S PRINTING-PRESS

Ever since the thirteen colonies that lay along the Atlantic coast had become a nation ambitious men had heard the call, "Go West, young man, go West!" There was plenty of fertile land in the country beyond the Alleghany Mountains, and it was free to any who would settle on it. Adventure beckoned men to come and help in founding new states, and many, who thought the villages of New England already overcrowded, betook themselves to the inviting West. One such youth was Elijah Parrish Lovejoy, who came from the little town of Albion, in Maine, and who, after graduating at Waterville College, had become a school-teacher. This did not satisfy him; he wanted to see more of the world than lay in the village of his birth, and when he was twenty-five years old, in May, 1827, he set out westward.

The young man was a true son of the Puritans, brought up to believe in many ideas that were already often in conflict with the views of men of the South and West. He reached the small city of St. Louis, in the pioneer country of Missouri, and there[114] he found a chance to teach school. He wrote for several newspapers that were being started, and in the course of the next year edited a political paper that was urging the election of Henry Clay as President. His interest in politics grew, and he might have sought some public office himself had he not suddenly become convinced that he was meant to be a minister, and determined to prepare for that work at Princeton Seminary. When he returned to St. Louis in 1833 his friends helped him to found a weekly religious paper called the St. Louis Observer.

The editor found time from his newspaper work to ride into the country and preach at the small churches that were springing up at every crossroads. Missouri was more southern than northern, and he saw much of slave-owning people. It was not long before he decided that negro slavery was wrong, and that the only way to right the wrong was to do away with it altogether. He began to attack slavery in his newspaper and in his sermons, and soon slavery men in that part of Missouri came to consider him as one of their most bitter foes.

Lovejoy had married, and expected to make St. Louis his permanent home. But neither all the men who were interested in the Observer, nor all the members of his church, approved of his arguments against slaveholding, and when he was away at a religious meeting the proprietors of his paper issued a statement promising that the editor would deal more gently with the question of slavery in the[115] future. When Lovejoy returned and read this statement he was indignant; he was not a man to fear public opinion, and he attacked his enemies more ardently than ever.

The law of the land permitted slavery, and many of the chief citizens in the frontier country approved of it. They hated the Abolitionists, as those who wanted to do away with slavery were called. When men were suspected of having helped to free slaves, or of sheltering runaway negroes, they were taken into the country and given two hundred lashes with a whip as a lesson. Sometimes Abolitionists were tarred and feathered and ridden out of town; often their houses were burned and their property destroyed. Lovejoy knew that he might have to face all this, but the spirit of the Puritan stock from which he sprang would not let him turn from his course.

He went on printing articles against the evils of slavery, he denounced the right of a white man to separate colored husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters, or to send his slaves to the market to be sold to the highest bidder, or to whip or ill-use them as if they had no feelings.

There was danger that the young editor would be mobbed, and the owners of the Observer took the paper out of his charge. Friends, however, who believed in a free press, bought it, and gave it back to him. Waves of public opinion, now for Lovejoy, now against him, swept through St. Louis. By the[116] end of 1835 mobs had attacked Abolitionists in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, and the news fanned the flames of resentment against them in Missouri.

Lovejoy had good reason to know the danger of his position. One September day he went out to a camp-meeting at the little town of Potosi. He learned that two men had waited half a day in the village, planning to tar and feather him when he arrived, but he was late, and they had left. When he returned to St. Louis he found that handbills had been distributed through the city, calling on the people to tear down the office of the Observer. A newspaper named the Missouri Argus urged patriotic men to mob the New England editor. Crowds, gathered on street corners, turned dark, lowering looks upon him as he passed, and every mail brought him threatening letters. He would not, however, stop either writing or preaching against slavery.

His work constantly called him on journeys to small towns, sometimes several days' ride from his home. Late in 1835 he was at a meeting in Marion when reports came that St. Louis was in an uproar, that men who opposed slavery were being whipped in the streets, and that no one suspected of being an Abolitionist would be allowed to stay there. Lovejoy had left his wife ill in bed. He started to ride back, a friend going some seventy miles with him, half of the journey. The friend urged him not to stay in St. Louis, pointing out that his young and[117] delicate wife would have to suffer as well as he. Travelers they met all warned him that he would not be safe in the city. He rode on to St. Charles, where he had left his wife. He talked with her, and she told him to go on to his newspaper office if he thought duty called him there.

St. Louis was all excitement and alarm. The newspapers had attacked the Observer so bitterly that the owners had stopped printing it. A mob had planned to wreck the office, but had postponed the task for a few days. Men went to Lovejoy and told him he would not be safe in the streets by day or night. Even the men of his church would not stand by him, and a religious paper declared "that they would soon free the church of the rotten sheep in it," by which they meant Elijah Lovejoy and others who opposed slavery.

This Yankee, however, like many others who had gone to that border country in the days when bitterness ran high, had a heroic sense of duty. He wrote and printed a letter to the people, stating that men had no right to own their brothers, no matter what the law might say. The letter caused more excitement than ever.

The owners of the Observer went to Lovejoy and requested him to retire as its editor. For two days it was a question what the angry mobs would do to him. Then a little better feeling set in. Men came to him, and told him that he must go on printing his paper or there would be no voice of freedom in all[118] that part of the country. A friend bought the newspaper from its owners, and urged Lovejoy to write as boldly as before. This friend, however, suggested that he should move the newspaper across the state line to Alton, Illinois, where feeling was not so intense. Lovejoy agreed, and set out for Alton; but while he was preparing to issue the paper there the same friend and others wrote him that his pen was so much needed in St. Louis that he must come back. He did so, and the Observer continued its existence in St. Louis until June, 1836.

There was so much strife and ill feeling, however, in Missouri that the editor decided his newspaper would be better supported, and would exert more influence, in Illinois. Accordingly he arranged to move his printing-press to the town of Alton in July. Just before he left St. Louis he published severe criticisms of a judge of that city who had sided with slave-owners, and these articles roused even greater resentment among the rabble who hated Lovejoy's freedom of speech.

If some of the people of Alton were glad to have this fearless editor come to their town, many were not. Slavery was too sore a subject for them to wish it talked about publicly. Many people all through that part of the country looked upon an Abolitionist as a man who delighted in stirring up ill feeling. Lovejoy sent his printing-press to Alton by steamboat, and it was delivered at the wharf on a Sunday morning, about daybreak. The steamboat[119] company had agreed to land the press on Monday, and Lovejoy refused to move it from the dock on the Sabbath. Early Monday morning five or six men went down to the river bank and destroyed the printing-press.

This was the young editor's welcome by the lawless element, but next day the better class of citizens, thoroughly ashamed of the outrage, met and pledged themselves to repay Lovejoy for the loss of his press. These people denounced the act of the mob, but at the same time they expressed their disapproval of Abolitionists. They wanted order and quiet, and hoped that Lovejoy would not stir up more trouble.

The editor bought a new press and issued his first paper in Alton on September 8, 1836. Many people subscribed to it, and it appeared regularly until the following August. Lovejoy, however, would speak his mind, and again and again declared that he was absolutely opposed to slavery, and that the evil custom must come to an end. This led to murmurs from the slavery party, and slanders were spread concerning the editor's character. All freedom-loving men had to weather such storms in those days, and Lovejoy, like a great many others, stuck to his principles at a heavy cost.

The murmurs and slanders grew. On July 8, 1837, posters announced that a meeting would be held at the Market House to protest against the articles in the Alton Observer. The meeting condemned Lovejoy's writings and speeches, and voted[120] that Abolitionism must be suppressed in the town. This was the early thunder that heralded the approach of a gathering storm.

The Yankee editor showed no intention of giving up his stand against slavery, but preached and wrote against it at every opportunity. As a result threats of destroying the press of the Observer were heard on the streets of Alton, and newspapers in neighboring cities encouraged ill feeling against the editor. The Missouri Republic, a paper printed in St. Louis, tried to convince the people of Alton that it was a public danger to have such men as Lovejoy in their midst, and condemned the Anti-Slavery Societies that were being formed in that part of the country. Two attempts were made to break into his printing-office during the early part of the summer, but each time the attackers were driven off by Lovejoy's friends.

The editor went to a friend's house to perform a marriage ceremony on the evening of August 21, 1837. His wife and little boy were ill at home, and on his return he stopped at an apothecary's to get some medicine for them. His house was about a half mile out of town. As he left the main street he met a crowd of men and boys. They did not recognize him at once, and he hurried past them; but soon some began to suspect who he was, and shouted his name to the rest. Those in the rear urged the leaders to attack him, but those in front held back; some began to throw sticks and stones at him, and one, armed with a club, pushed up to him,[121] denouncing him for being an Abolitionist. At last a number linked arms and pushed past him, and then turning about in the road stopped him. There were cries of "Tar and feather him," "Ride him on a rail," and other threats. Lovejoy told them they might do as they pleased with him, but he had a request to make; his wife was ill, and he wanted some one to take the medicine to her without alarming her. One of the men volunteered to do this. Then the editor, standing at bay, argued with them. "You had better let me go home," he said; "you have no right to detain me; I have never injured you." There was more denouncing, jostling and shoving, but the leaders, after a short talk, allowed Lovejoy to go on toward his house.

Meantime, however, another band had gone to the newspaper office between ten and eleven o'clock, and, seeing by the lights in the building that men were still at work there, had begun to throw stones at the windows. A crowd gathered to watch the attack. The mayor and some of the leading citizens hurried to the building, and argued with the ringleaders. A prominent merchant told them that if they would wait until the next morning he would break into the newspaper office with them, and help them take out the press and the other articles, stow them on a boat, put the editor on top, and send them all down the Mississippi River together. But the crowd did not want to wait. The stones began to strike some of Lovejoy's assistants inside the building, and they ran[122] out by a rear door. As soon as the office was empty the leaders rushed in and broke the printing-press, type, and everything else in the building. Next morning the slavery men in Alton said that the Abolitionist had been silenced for the time, at least. They looked upon Lovejoy, and men of his kind, as a thorn in the flesh of their peaceful community.

There were still a small number of "freedom-loving" people in Alton, however, and these stood back of Elijah Lovejoy. Although two printing-presses had now been destroyed, these men called a meeting and decided that the Observer must continue to be printed. Money was promised, and the editor prepared to set up his press for the third time. He issued a short note to the public, in which he said: "I now appeal to you, and all the friends of law and order, to come to the rescue. If you will sustain me, by the help of God, the press shall be again established at this place, and shall be sustained, come what will. Let the experiment be fairly tried, whether the liberty of speech and of the press is to be enjoyed in Illinois or not." The money was raised, and the dauntless spokesman for freedom sent to Cincinnati for supplies for his new office.

That autumn enemies scattered pamphlets accusing Lovejoy and other Abolitionists of various crimes against the country. Although few people believed them, the circulars increased the hostile feelings, and disturbed many of the editor's friends. Some of the latter began to doubt whether the Observer ought to[123] continue its stirring articles. Some thought it should be only a religious paper. But Lovejoy answered that he felt it was his duty to speak out in protest against the great evil of slavery. He finally offered to resign, if the supporters of the paper thought it best for him to do so. They could not come to any decision, and so let him continue his course.

The third printing-press arrived at Alton on September 21st, while Lovejoy was away attending a church meeting. The press was landed from the steamboat a little after sunset, and was protected by a number of friends of the Observer. It was carted to a large warehouse to be stored. As it passed through the street some men cried, "There goes the Abolition press; stop it, stop it!" but no one tried to injure it. The mayor of Alton declared that the press should be protected, and placed a constable at the door of the warehouse, with orders to remain till a certain hour. As soon as this man left, ten or twelve others, with handkerchiefs tied over their faces as disguise, broke into the warehouse, rolled the press across the street to the river, broke it into pieces, and threw it into the Mississippi. The mayor arrived and protested, but the men paid no attention to him.

Lovejoy's business had called him to the town of St. Charles, near St. Louis, and he preached there while his third press was being attacked. After his sermon in the evening he was sitting chatting with a clergyman and another friend when a young man[124] came in, and slipped a note into his hand. The note read:

"Mr. Lovejoy:

"Be watchful as you come from church to-night.

A Friend."

Lovejoy showed the note to the two other men, and the clergyman invited him to stay at his house. The editor declined, however, and walked to his mother-in-law's residence with his two friends. No one stopped them, and when they came to the house Lovejoy and the clergyman went in, and sat down to chat in a room on the second floor. About ten o'clock they heard a knock on the door at the foot of the stairs. Mrs. Lovejoy's mother went to the door, and asked what was wanted. Voices answered, "We want to see Mr. Lovejoy; is he in?" The editor called down, "Yes, I am here." As soon as the door was opened, two men rushed up-stairs, and into the sitting-room. They ordered Lovejoy to go down-stairs, and when he resisted, struck him with their fists. Mrs. Lovejoy heard the noise, and came running from her room. A crowd now filled the hall, and she had to fight her way through them. Several men tried to drag the editor out of the house, but his wife clung to him, and aided by her mother and sister finally persuaded the assailants to leave.

Exhausted by the struggle, Mrs. Lovejoy fainted.[125] While her husband was trying to help her, the mob came back, and, paying no attention to the sick woman, insisted that they were going to ride Lovejoy out of town. By this time a few respectable citizens had heard the noise, and came to his aid. A second time the rabble was driven away; but they stayed in the yard, and made the night hideous with their threats to the Abolitionist. Presently some of the men went up to Lovejoy's room the third time, and one of them gave him a note, which demanded that he leave St. Charles by ten o'clock the next morning. Lovejoy's friends begged him to send out an answer promising that he would leave. Although he at first declined to do this, he finally yielded to their urging. He wrote, "I have already taken my passage in the stage, to leave to-morrow morning, at least by nine o'clock." This note was carried out to the crowd on the lawn, and read to them. His friends thought the mob would scatter after that, and they did for a time; but after listening to violent speeches returned again. The noise was now so threatening that Lovejoy's friends begged him to fly from the house. His wife added her pleadings to theirs, and at last he stole out unnoticed by a door at the rear. He hated to leave his wife in such a dangerous situation, however, and so, after waiting a short time, he went back. His friends reproached him for returning, and their reproaches were justified, for, like hounds scenting the fox, the mob menaced the house more noisily than ever.[126] Lovejoy saw that he must leave again in order to protect his wife and friends. This he succeeded in doing, and walked about a mile to the residence of a Major Sibley. This friend lent him a horse, and he rode out of town to the house of another friend four miles away. Next day Mrs. Lovejoy joined him, and they went on together to Alton.

One of the very first people they met in Alton was a man from St Charles who had been among those who had broken into their house the night before. Mrs. Lovejoy was alarmed at seeing him in Illinois, because the mob in St. Charles had declared that they were going to drive Lovejoy out of that part of the country. In order to quiet her fears her husband asked some friends to come to his house, and ten men, well armed, spent the next night guarding it, while he himself kept a loaded musket at his side. The storm-clouds were gathering about his devoted head.

Even the leading citizens of this Illinois town now felt that it was Lovejoy's own fault if his newspaper was attacked. They hated mobs, but most of them hated Abolitionists even more. If he would stop attacking slavery, the crowds would stop attacking him. It was evident that the lawless element did not intend to let him continue to print his newspaper, and it was almost as clear that the mayor and authorities were not going to protect him. Three times now his press had been destroyed.

This son of the Puritans was not to be driven[127] from his purpose by threats or blows, but he was forced to see that it was a great waste of money to have one press after another thrown into the Mississippi River. His friends in the town of Quincy urged him to set up his press there, and he felt much inclined to do so. He decided to wait, however, until the next meeting of the Presbyterian Synod, when he would learn whether the men of his church sided with him or not. This meeting ended in discussion, breaking up along the old lines of those who were friends and those who were enemies of slavery. Some of the members had already joined Anti-Slavery Societies, while others, although they were opposed to mob-violence, did not approve of the newspaper's attack on slaveholding citizens. In a stirring speech Lovejoy said that they were to decide whether the press should be free in that part of the United States. He ended with an appeal for justice. "I have no personal fears," he declared. "Not that I feel able to contest the matter with the whole community. I know perfectly well I am not. I know, sir, that you can tar and feather me, hang me up, or put me into the Mississippi, without the least difficulty. But what then? Where shall I go? I have been made to feel that if I am not safe at Alton, I shall not be safe anywhere. I recently visited St. Charles to bring home my family, and was torn from their frantic embrace by a mob. I have been beset night and day at Alton. And now if I leave here and go[128] elsewhere, violence may overtake me in my retreat, and I have no more claim upon the protection of any other community than I have upon this; and I have concluded, after consultation with my friends, and earnestly seeking counsel of God, to remain at Alton, and here to insist on protection in the exercise of my rights."

This speech made a great impression upon its hearers. The words were those of a man who had thought long upon his subject, and had made up his mind as to what he should do. He expressed no enmity toward the men who had treated him so ill, and he did not complain of the members of his own church who were lukewarm in their support. A man who was present said that Lovejoy's speech reminded him of the words of St. Paul when brought before Festus, or of Martin Luther speaking to the council at Worms.

Having decided to stay, Lovejoy ordered his fourth printing-press. This was due to arrive early in November, and as the time drew near there was no little excitement and anxiety among the friends of peace in the town. Whenever the puff of a steamboat was heard men hurried to the banks of the Mississippi. Some meant to defend the press from attack; others meant to hurl it into the river as they had already done with its predecessors. The press had an eventful journey. The first plan was to land it at a place called Chippewa, about five miles down the river, and then carry it secretly into[129] Alton. But the roads grew bad, and this plan was abandoned. The press reached St. Louis on Sunday night, November 5th, and it was arranged that the steamer should land it at Alton about three o'clock Tuesday morning. As soon as this was known, Lovejoy and his friend Gilman went to the mayor and told him of the threat that had been made to destroy the press, asking him to appoint special constables to protect it. The town council voted that Lovejoy and his friends be requested not to persist in setting up an Abolition press in Alton, but the mayor refused to sign this request.

Monday night forty or fifty citizens, intent on seeing that the press was protected, gathered at the warehouse of Godfrey, Gilman and Company where the press was to be stored. Some thirty of them formed a volunteer company, with one of the city constables in command. They were armed with rifles and muskets loaded with buckshot or small balls. The editor of the Observer was not there. Only a night or two before his house had been attacked, and his sister had narrowly escaped serious injury. So he arranged with a brother, who was staying with him, to take turns standing guard at his house and at the office.

At three o'clock the steamboat arrived at the dock. Lovejoy's enemies had stationed sentinels along the river, and as the boat passed they gave the alarm by blowing horns, so that when the dock was reached a large crowd had gathered. Some[130] one called the mayor, and he came down to the warehouse. He begged the volunteer company to keep quiet, and said he himself would see to the safe storing of the press. No serious trouble followed. The crowd watched the stevedores carry the press to the warehouse, but did not attack it, except to throw a few stones. It was stood in the garret of the stone warehouse, safe from the enemy.

On Tuesday every one knew that the "Abolition press" had arrived, and Tuesday night the same volunteers went down to the warehouse again. Everything was quiet, and by nine o'clock all but about a dozen left the place. Lovejoy stayed by the press, it being his brother's turn to guard his house. The warehouse stood high above the river, apart from other buildings, with considerable open space on the sides to the river and to the north.

About ten o'clock that night loafers and stragglers began to come from saloons and restaurants, and gather in the streets that led to the warehouse. Some thirty, armed with muskets, pistols, and stones, marched to the door, and demanded admittance. Mr. Gilman, one of the owners of the warehouse, standing at the garret door, asked what they wanted. The leader answered, "The press." Mr. Gilman said that he would not give up the press. "We have no ill feelings toward any of you," he added, "and should regret to harm you; but we are authorized by the mayor to defend our property, and[131] shall do so with our lives." The mob leader answered that they meant to have the press at any cost, and leveled a pistol at Mr. Gilman, who drew back from the door. The crowd began to throw stones, and broke a number of windows. Then they fired through the windows. The men inside returned the shots. One or two of the mob were wounded; and this checked them for a time. Soon, however, others came with ladders, and materials for setting fire to the roof of the building. They kept on the side of the warehouse where there were no windows, and where they could not be driven away by the defenders. It was a moonlight night, and the small company inside the building did not dare go out into the open space in front. At this point the mayor appeared and carried a flag of truce through the mob to Lovejoy's friends, asking that the press be given up, and the men in the warehouse depart peacefully without other property being destroyed. He told them that unless they surrendered the mob would set fire to the warehouse. They answered that they had gathered to defend their property, and intended to do it. He admitted that they had a perfect right to do this, and went back to report the result of his mission to the leaders. Outside a shout went up, "Fire the building, drive out the Abolitionists, burn them out!" A great crowd had gathered, but there were no officers of the law ready to defend the press.

Ladders were placed against the building, and the[132] roof was set on fire. Five men volunteered to go out and try to prevent the firing. They left the building by the riverside, fired at the men on the ladder, and drove them away. The crowd drew back, while the five returned to the store. The mob did not venture to put up their ladder again, and presently Lovejoy and two or three others opened a door and looked out. There appeared to be no one on this side, and Lovejoy stepped forward to reconnoiter. Some of his enemies, however, were hidden behind a pile of lumber, and one of them fired a double-barreled gun. The editor was hit by five balls. He turned around, ran up a flight of stairs in the warehouse, and into the counting-room. There he fell, dying a few minutes later.

With their leader killed some of the company wanted to give up the battle, while others insisted on fighting it out. They finally resolved to yield. A clergyman went to one of the upper windows and called out that Elijah Lovejoy had been killed and that they would give up the press if they might be allowed to go unmolested. The crowd answered that they would shoot them all where they were. One of the defenders determined to go out at any risk and make terms. As soon as he opened the door, he was fired upon and wounded. The roof was now blazing, and one of their friends reached a door and begged them to escape by the rear. All but two or three laid down their arms, running out at the southern door, and fled down the bank of the[133] river. The mob fired at them, but only one was wounded. The crowd rushed into the warehouse, threw the press out the window, breaking it into pieces, and scattered the pieces in the Mississippi. At two o'clock they had disappeared, having accomplished their evil purpose of preventing a "free press" in Alton.

Elijah Lovejoy was only thirty-five years old when he met his martyr's death. His life in Missouri and Illinois had been one constant fight against slavery, and for liberty of speech. His Puritan ancestry made it impossible for him to give up the battle he knew to be right. The story of his heroic struggle and death aroused lovers of liberty all over the country, and newspapers everywhere denounced the acts of the mob at Alton. Such acts meant that men could not speak their minds on public questions, and a "free press" had been one of the dearest rights of American citizens. Men in the North at that time had by no means agreed that slavery must be abolished, but they did all believe in the freedom of the press. For that cause Lovejoy had been a martyr.

More than two decades were to pass before the question of slavery was to be settled forever, and in the years between 1837 and 1860 many men of the same stock and stripe as Elijah Lovejoy were to give up their lives in heroic defense of their belief in freedom. He was one of the first of a long line of heroes. His voice sounded a call that was to echo[134] through the border states for years to come, inspiring others to take up his cause. A freedom-loving country should place among its noblest sons this dauntless editor and preacher.


[135]

VI

HOW MARCUS WHITMAN SAVED OREGON

The Hudson's Bay Company, whose business was to buy skins and furs from the American Indians, had located a trading-post at Fort Walla Walla, in the country of the Cayuse and Nez Percés Indians. This was in what was known as Oregon Territory in 1842, although it is now near the southeast corner of the state of Washington. Here was a very primitive settlement, the frame houses of a few white men and the tents of Indians. Very little effort had been made to grow grain or fruit or to raise sheep or cattle, since the Hudson's Bay Company wanted the Indians to be continually on the hunt for furs, and discouraged them from turning into farmers. Besides the traders and the Indians there was a small missionary camp near at hand, located on a beautiful peninsula made by two branches of the Walla Walla River. This place was called by the Indians Wai-i-lat-pui, meaning the region of rye grass. Beyond the fertile ground on the river's banks were borders of timber-land, and beyond them plains stretching to the foot-hills of the great Blue Mountains. In 1842 this wonderful[136] country was free to any who cared to come and settle there, but as yet very few had ventured so far into the wilderness.

The chief man at the missionary camp, Dr. Marcus Whitman, was called to Fort Walla Walla on the first day of October, 1842, to see a sick man. He found a score or so of traders and Hudson's Bay clerks, almost all Englishmen, gathered there, and accepted their invitation to stay to dinner. The men were a genial company, and had already taken a liking to Whitman, who was frank and amiable, and an interesting story-teller. Gradually the conversation at the dinner table came round to a subject that was vastly important to the men present, although the outside world seemed to be paying little attention to it—to which country was this great territory of Oregon to belong, to the United States or to England? The general opinion appeared to be that under the old treaties it would belong to the country that settled it first.

In the midst of the discussion there was the sound of hoof-beats outside, the door of the company's office was flung open, and an express messenger ran into the dining-room. "I'm just from Fort Colville!" he cried. "A hundred and forty Englishmen and Canadians are on the march to settle here!"

There was instant excitement. A young priest threw his cap in the air, shouting, "Hurrah for Oregon—America's too late; we've got the country[137]!" The traders clapped each other on the shoulder, and made a place for the messenger at the head of the table. As he ate he told them how he had ridden from the post three hundred and fifty miles up the Columbia River to let all the fur-traders know that the English were on the way to colonize the country.

Marcus Whitman smiled, and pretended to enjoy the celebration; but in reality he was already considering whether he could not do something to save this vast and fruitful region for his own nation. It was an enormous tract of land, of untold wealth, and stretching over a long reach of the Pacific coast. As he considered, Whitman heard the Hudson's Bay Company's men grow more and more excited, until they declared that they intended to take possession of all the country west to the Pacific slope the following spring.

The missionary had been expecting this struggle between the English and the Americans for the ownership of Oregon, but had not thought it would come to a head quite so soon. He left the men at Fort Walla Walla as early as he could, and rode back to the little settlement at Wai-i-lat-pui. There he told his wife and friends the news he had learned at the trading-post. "If our country is to have Oregon," he said, "there is not a day to lose."

"But what can we do?" the others asked him.

"I must get to Washington as quick as I can, and let them know the danger."

[138] His friends understood what that meant, a journey on horseback across almost an entire continent, through hostile Indians, over great rivers and mountain ranges, and in the depths of winter. Some one pointed out that under the rules of the American Mission Board that had sent them into the far west none of their number could leave his post without consent from the headquarters in Boston. "Well," said Whitman, "if the Board dismisses me, I will do what I can to save Oregon to the country. My life is of but little worth if I can save this country to the American people."

His wife, a brave, patriotic woman who had shared his hard travels westward without a murmur, agreed with him that he must go. They all insisted, however, that he should have a companion. "Who will go with me?" asked Whitman. In answer a man who had only lately joined the small encampment, Amos L. Lovejoy, immediately volunteered.

Urging upon their friends the need of keeping the plan a secret from the Hudson's Bay Company fur-traders, the two men quickly prepared, and left the camp on October 3d. They had a guide, three pack-mules, and for the start of their journey an escort of a number of Cayuse braves, men of an Indian tribe that was not large, but was wealthy, and that seemed to have taken a liking to Whitman and his friends at the mission settlement.

The leader himself had one fixed idea in his mind, to reach Washington before Congress adjourned.[139] He was convinced that only through his account of the riches of Oregon could the government learn what the country stood in danger of losing.

The little company got a good start, and with fresh horses, riding southeast toward the border of what is now the state of Idaho, they reached Fort Hall in eleven days. Here was stationed Captain Grant, who had always done his best to hinder immigration into Oregon, and had induced many an American settler to go no farther westward. He knew Whitman of old, and six years before had tried to stop his expedition to the Walla Walla River, but Whitman had overcome his arguments, and had taken the first wagon that ever crossed the Rocky Mountains into Oregon. As he had tried to prevent Whitman from going west before, so now he tried to prevent him from going east. He told him that the Blackfeet Indians had suddenly grown hostile to all white men, that the Sioux and Pawnees were at war with each other, and would let no one through their country, and finally that the snow was already twenty feet deep in the passes of the Rockies, and travel through them was altogether out of the question.

This information was far from reassuring, and, backed as it was by Captain Grant's entreaties and almost by his commands, would have deterred many a man from plunging into that winter wilderness. Whitman, however, was a man who could neither be turned aside nor discouraged. His answer to all[140] protests at Fort Hall was to point to the official permit he had carried west with him, ordering all officers to protect and aid him in his travels, and signed by Lewis Cass, Secretary of War, and to declare that he intended to push on east, hostile Indians, mountains, and blizzards notwithstanding. Captain Grant saw that he could not stop Whitman, and, much to his chagrin, had to let him pass the fort.

The route Whitman had plotted out lay first east and then south, in the general direction of the present site of Salt Lake City. His objective points were two small military posts, Fort Uintah and Fort Uncompahgra. As soon as the two men left Fort Hall they ran into terribly cold weather. The deep snow kept them back, and they had to pick any shelter they could find, and crawl slowly on, sometimes taking a day to cover a few miles. At Fort Uintah they procured a guide to the second post, which was on the Grand River, and at the latter point a Mexican agreed to show them the way to Taos, a settlement in what is now the state of New Mexico. So far their southeasterly course had allowed them to skirt the high mountains, but here they had to cross a range, and in the pass ran full into a terrific snow-storm.

It was impossible to go forward in the teeth of that gale, so Whitman, Lovejoy, and their guide looked about for shelter. They found a rocky defile with a mountain shoulder to protect it, and[141] led their horses and pack-mules into this pocket. In this dark, cold place they stayed for ten days, trying each morning to push on through the pass, and being blown back each time. On the eleventh day the wind had abated somewhat, and they tried again. They went a short distance when, coming around a corner, a fresh storm broke full upon them, blinding and freezing the men, and pelting the animals with frozen snow so that they were almost uncontrollable.

The native guide now admitted that he was no longer sure of the way, and refused to go any farther. Clearly the only thing to be done was to return for the eleventh time to the sheltered ravine. But now the snow had drifted across their trail, and none of the three men was at all certain of the road back. Whitman dismounted, and kneeling in the snow, prayed that they might be saved for the work that they had to do.

Meantime the guide resolved to try an old hunting expedient, and turned one of the lead mules loose. The mule was confused at first, and stumbled about, heading one way and then another, but finally started to plunge back through the drifts as if to a certain goal. "There," shouted the guide, "that mule will find the camp if he can live long enough in this storm to reach it." The men urged their horses after the plunging beast, and slipping and sliding and beating their half-frozen mounts, at last came around the mountain shoulder and got in the[142] lee of the ravine. That bit of hunter's knowledge and that mule had much to do with saving the great northwest to the United States.

Once safe in this comparative shelter the guide turned to Dr. Whitman. "I will go no farther," said he; "the way is impassable."

Whitman knew that the man meant what he said, and he had just seen for himself what a storm could do to travelers, but he said as positively in the ravine as he had already said in the comfortable protection of Fort Hall, "I must go on." He considered their situation a minute, and then said to Lovejoy, "You stay in camp, and I'll return with the guide to the fort and get a new man."

The pack-mules needed rest, and so this plan was agreed to. Whitman and the obstinate guide went back, while Lovejoy waited in the ravine and tried to nourish the mules by gathering brush and the inner bark of willows for them to eat. Fortunately mules can live on almost anything.

For a week Lovejoy stayed in the ravine, only partly sheltered from wind and snow, before Whitman returned. He brought a new guide with him, and, the storm having now lessened, the little party was able to get through the pass and strike out for the post at Taos.

The route Whitman was taking was far from direct, was in fact at least a thousand miles longer than if they had headed directly east from Walla Walla, but they were avoiding the highest Rockies,[143] and were traveling to a certain extent in the shelter of the ranges, where there was much less snow and plenty of fire-wood could be found. The winter of 1842-43 was very cold, and if they had journeyed direct the continual storms and lack of all fuel for camp-fires might have caused a different ending to their cross-country ride. As it was they suffered continually from frozen feet and hands and ears, and lost a number of days when one or the other could not sit his saddle.

Traveling far to the south they came to the Grand River, one of the most dangerous rivers in the west. The current, even in summer, is rapid, deep, and cold. Now, in winter, solid ice stretched two hundred feet from either shore, and between the ice was a rushing torrent over two hundred feet wide.

The guide studied the swift, boiling current, and shook his head. "It's too risky to try to cross," he declared.

"We must cross, and at once," said Whitman positively. He dismounted, and, picking out a willow tree near the shore, cut a pole about eight feet long. He carried this back to his horse, mounted, and put the pole on his shoulder, gripping it with his left arm. "Now you shove me off," he said to the men. Lovejoy and the guide did as he ordered, and Whitman and his horse were pushed into the stream. They disappeared under the water, but soon came up, struggling and swimming. In a minute or two the horse struck rocky bottom[144] and could wade. Whitman jumped off, broke the ice with his pole, and helped the animal to get to the shore.

Meantime Lovejoy and the guide, breaking the ice on their side, headed their horses and the pack-mules into the river. Animals in that country are always ready to follow where their leader goes, and they all swam and splashed their way across. The men found plenty of wood at hand, and soon had a roaring fire, by which they camped, and dried out thoroughly before riding on.

The delays caused by their stay in the mountains and physical hardships had made their store of provisions run low. At one time they had to kill a dog that had joined them, and a little later one of the mules for food. Eating and sleeping little, and pushing on as rapidly as they could they finally reached the old city of Santa Fé, the metropolis of the southwest. But here Whitman only stopped long enough to buy fresh provisions.

They were now heading for Bent's Fort near the head of the Arkansas River. The storms in the hills were past, and they were riding over vast treeless prairies, where there was plenty of grass for the horses, and any amount of wild game if they could have stopped long enough to replenish their larder with it. Again and again they were forced to prairie expedients. Once, as they reached one of the tributaries of the Arkansas River, after a long and tedious day on the plains, they found the river frozen over[145] with a layer of smooth, clear ice, hardly strong enough to bear a man. They must have wood, but although there was plenty of it on the other side, there was none on their shore of the stream. Whitman took the ax from his kit, and lying down on the thin ice, contrived with great caution and patience to make his way across. On the other bank he cut long poles and short cross-pieces. These he pushed across the ice to Lovejoy, and with them they made enough of a bridge for the latter to urge the horses and mules to try to cross. They all got over safely, though with much slipping and splashing. In cutting his last pole Whitman split the ax-helve. When they camped he bound the break with a deerskin thong, but that night a thieving wolf found the ax at the edge of the camp, wanted the fresh deerskin, and dragged away ax and thong. The loss would have been very serious if it had happened earlier in their journey.

When they were within four days' ride of Bent's Fort they met a caravan traveling toward Taos. The leader told Whitman that a party of mountaineers was about leaving Bent's Fort for St. Louis, but added that Whitman and Lovejoy, hampered by their pack animals, would not be in time to join them.

Whitman was very anxious to join the mountaineers if he could, and decided to leave Lovejoy and the guide with the pack-mules. Taking the fastest horse, and a small store of food, he rode on alone, hoping to catch the party. To do this he would[146] have to travel on Sunday, something they had not done before.

Lovejoy saw Dr. Whitman start on his ride, but when the former reached Bent's Fort four days later he was astonished to find that Whitman had not arrived there, nor been heard from. As that part of the country was full of packs of gray wolves, now half-starved on account of the snow, Lovejoy was alarmed.

If not a prey to the wolves, Whitman must be lost; so his friend took a good guide from the Fort and started to search for him. He traveled up-river a hundred miles, and there fell in with Indians who told him of a lost white man who was trying to find the Fort, and whom they had directed down the river. Lovejoy went back, and late that afternoon saw Whitman come riding in, convinced that his journey had been so much delayed because he had traveled on Sunday.

The party of mountaineers had already left, but a messenger had been sent after them, and they stayed in camp, waiting for Whitman. Tired as he was, he started out immediately with a new guide, particularly eager to join this company, because they were now nearing the outposts of civilization, where the worst white men and Indians beset the pioneers. Lovejoy waited at Bent's Fort, and went east with the next caravan that started for St. Louis.

Whitman came safely through to St. Louis, where he had friends. He was at once surrounded by[147] trappers and traders in Indian goods and furs who wanted news of the plains. In his turn he asked news of Congress, and learned that the Ashburton Treaty, settling a part of the boundary between Canada and the United States, had been approved and signed, but that the question of Oregon had not been settled, and from the reports of what had been said in the debates at Washington he knew that none of the American statesmen realized what a great prize Oregon Territory was.

He must reach the capital before Congress adjourned if possible. The rivers were frozen, and he had to rely on a journey by stage, slow at all times, but especially so in midwinter. He toiled slowly eastward, taking one coach after another, swinging and swaying and rocking across the center of the country, and reaching the capital in time to plead the cause of the northwest.

Washington was used to many strange types of men in those pioneer days, but even among such Marcus Whitman was a striking figure. He was of medium height, compact of build, with big shoulders and a large head. His hair was iron gray, and that, as well as his moustache and beard, had not been cut for four months. He was of pioneer type, living so long among Indians and trappers, and watching so constantly for wolves and bears, that he seemed awkward and uncouth in an eastern city. His clothes were a coarse fur jacket with buckskin breeches, fur leggings, and boot moccasins. Over these he wore[148] a buffalo overcoat, with a head-hood for bad weather. He did not show an inch of woven garment.

Whitman reached Washington in March, 1843, and immediately urged his case before President Tyler, Secretary of State Daniel Webster, and many congressmen. He found the densest ignorance concerning Oregon Territory, a tract of territory which has since been divided into the three states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. A senator had said of that territory, "What is the character of this country? As I understand it there are seven hundred miles this side of the Rocky Mountains that are uninhabitable; where rain never falls; mountains wholly impassable, except through gaps and depressions, to be reached only by going hundreds of miles out of the direct course.... Of what use would it be for agricultural purposes? I would not, for that purpose, give a pinch of snuff for the whole territory. I wish the Rocky Mountains were an impassable barrier. If there was an embankment of even five feet to be removed I would not consent to expend five dollars to remove it and enable our population to go there." Another statesman declared, "With the exception of land along the Willamette and strips along other water courses, the whole country is as irreclaimable and barren a waste as the Desert of Sahara. Nor is this the worst; the climate is so unfriendly to human life that the native population has dwindled away under the ravages of malaria." And newspaper[149] opinions were no more favorable. The Louisville Journal wrote, "Of all the countries upon the face of the earth Oregon is one of the least favored by heaven. It is the mere riddlings of creation. It is almost as barren as Sahara and quite as unhealthy as the Campagna of Italy. Russia has her Siberia and England has her Botany Bay, and if the United States should ever need a country to which to banish her rogues and scoundrels, the utility of such a region as Oregon would be demonstrated. Until then, we are perfectly willing to leave this magnificent country to the Indians, trappers and buffalo hunters that roam over its sand-banks."

Marcus Whitman had ridden four thousand miles, and starved, frozen, and never rested in order to overcome such opinions. The President and Daniel Webster were polite to him, but neither seemed to think much of the northwest. As he was describing the richness of the country, its fertile soil, great forests, precious minerals, and delightful climate, Webster interrupted. "But Oregon is shut off by impassable mountains and a great desert, which make a wagon road impossible," said he. Whitman answered, "Six years ago I was told there was no wagon road to Oregon, and it was impossible to take a wagon there, and yet in despite of pleadings and almost threats, I took a wagon over the road and have it now." The missionary's earnest, forceful manner impressed[150] both President Tyler and Secretary Webster, and gradually they began to think it might be worth while to protect the claim of the United States to that country. Finally Whitman said, "All I ask is that you won't barter away Oregon, or allow English interference until I can lead a band of stalwart American settlers across the plains: for this I will try to do."

"Dr. Whitman," answered President Tyler, "your long ride and frozen limbs speak for your courage and patriotism; your missionary credentials are good vouchers for your character;" and he granted the request.

This was all Whitman wanted, because he believed that under the treaty then in force between the United States and England the nation that should colonize the country was to own it. He knew that up to that time the English Hudson's Bay Company had bought out all American traders or driven out all settlers, but he hoped he could lead enough emigrants there now to hold it for the United States.

He next went to the American Missionary Board in Boston, which had originally sent him out to Oregon. There he met with cold treatment, and was told he should not have left the camp at Wai-i-lat-pui without permission from Boston, and that his trip across the continent was a wild-goose chase. This unmerited rebuke must have hurt him sorely. He was, however, so filled with eagerness to lead[151] his party of pioneers west that he did not let it daunt him, but went on with his preparations. In this he was very much helped by his companion Lovejoy, who was gathering a large number of emigrants on the frontier awaiting Whitman's return.

The meeting point of the emigrants was the little town of Weston, not far from where Kansas City now stands. Here and at various near-by settlements the pioneers gathered early in the year 1843, waiting for Dr. Whitman to join them, and for the spring grass to grow high enough to feed their cattle. As it happened, that year the grass was late, and the caravan did not get under way until the first week in June. Whitman himself was delayed through the need of leaving careful instructions for those who were to cross the plains later in the year. The caravan started before Whitman arrived, and he did not overtake the advance guard until they had reached the Platte River. When he did actually join the emigrants he looked after everything, mending broken prairie wagons, cheering tired mothers, acting as surgeon and doctor, hunting out fords through quicksands and rivers, searching for water and grass in the desert plains, seeking new passes through the mountains, and at night superintending the building of camp-fires and keeping watch against an attack by wolves or other wild animals.

The journey from the Platte River as far as Fort[152] Hall, which was near the eastern border of Oregon Territory, was much like other pioneer travels through the west. Whitman had been over this trail several times and the difficulties he encountered were not new to him. At Fort Hall he had to meet Captain John Grant again, who, as an agent of the Fur Company, did not want new farmers to settle in Oregon.


The Last Six Hundred Miles Were the Hardest

Instead of appealing only to a few men Captain Grant now spoke to several hundred resolute pioneers. He told them of the terrors of the long journey through the mountains and the impossibility of hauling their heavy prairie wagons over the passes; he recounted the failures of other pioneers who had tried what they had planned to do; he showed them in the corral wagons, farm tools, and other pioneer implements that earlier emigrants had had to leave when they ventured into the mountains. He stated the difficulties so clearly that this company was almost persuaded, as earlier companies had been, to follow his suggestions, leave their farming implements behind, and try to make a settlement without any of the tools or comforts that were so greatly needed in that country. Whitman, however, spoiled Grant's plans. He said to his followers, "Men, I have guided you thus far in safety. Believe nothing you hear about not being able to get your wagons through; every one of you stick to your wagons and your goods. They will be invaluable to you when you reach[153] the end of your journey. I took a wagon over to Oregon six years ago." The men believed their leader, refused to obey Captain Grant, and prepared to start on the trail into the high Rockies.

It was the last six hundred miles of the journey to Oregon that usually made the most severe test of the settlers' endurance. From Fort Hall the nature of the traveling changed entirely, and was apt to resemble the retreat of a disorganized army. Earlier caravans, although they had taken Captain Grant's advice and left many wagons, horses, and camp comforts behind, had suffered untold hardships. Oxen and horses, worn by their long trip across the plains, and toiling for long stretches through the high passes, were apt to perish in large numbers and frequently fell dead in their yokes on the road. Wagons already baked in the blazing sun of the desert would fall to pieces when they struck a sharp rock or were driven over a rough incline. Families were obliged to join company and throw away everything that tended to impede their speed.

The approaching storms of autumn, which meant impassable snow, would not allow them to linger. In addition to this there were grizzlies in the mountains and the constant fear of attack from Indians. Such pioneers as strayed from the main company were likely to fall in with an enemy that was continually hovering on either flank of the march, ready to swoop down upon unprotected men or[154] women. This fear added to the speed of the journey, and as they progressed the road over which they traveled was strewn with dead or worn-out cattle, abandoned wagons, discarded cooking utensils, yokes, harness, chests, log chains, and all kinds of family heirlooms that the settlers had hoped to carry to their new homes. Sometimes the teams grew so much weakened that none dared to ride in the wagons, and men, women, and children would walk beside them, ready to give a helping push up any steep part of the road. A pioneer who had once made this journey said, referring to a former trip across the mountains, "The fierce summer's heat beat upon this slow west-rolling column. The herbage was dry and crisp, the rivulets had become but lines in the burning sand; the sun glared from a sky of brass; the stony mountainsides glared with the garnered heat of a cloudless summer. The dusky brambles of the scraggy sage-brush seemed to catch the fiery rays of heat and shiver them into choking dust, that rose like a tormenting plague and hung like a demon of destruction over the panting oxen and thirsty people.

"Thus day after day, for weeks and months, the slow but urgent retreat continued, each day demanding fresh sacrifices. An ox or a horse would fall, brave men would lift the useless yoke from his limp and lifeless neck in silence. If there was another to take his place he was brought from the loose band, yoked up and the journey resumed.[155] When the stock of oxen became exhausted, cows were brought under the yoke, other wagons left, and the lessening store once more inspected; if possible another pound would be dispensed with.

"Deeper and deeper into the flinty mountains the forlorn mass drives its weary way. Each morning the weakened team has to commence a struggle with yet greater difficulties. It is plain the journey will not be completed within the anticipated time, and the dread of hunger joins the ranks of the tormentors.... The Indians hover in the rear, impatiently waiting for the train to move on that the abandoned trinkets may be gathered up. Whether these are gathering strength for a general attack we cannot tell. There is but one thing to do—press on. The retreat cannot hasten into rout, for the distance to safety is too great. Slower and slower is the daily progress."

Marcus Whitman, however, had known these difficulties before, and guarded his caravan from many of them.

Up to that date almost no man had crossed into Oregon by the route he was taking. A few missionaries had made the journey on horseback, driving some head of cattle with them, and three or four wagons drawn by oxen had reached the Snake River at an earlier date, but it was the general opinion of trappers that no large company of people could travel down the Snake River because of the scarcity of pasturage and the rugged road[156] through the mountains. It was also thought that the Sioux Indians would oppose the approach of such a large caravan because the emigrants might kill or drive away the buffaloes, which were already diminishing in number and were hunted by this tribe for food.

When they came to cross the Snake River Whitman gave orders to fasten the wagons together in one long line, the strongest ones being placed in the lead. When the teams were in position Whitman tied a long rope about his waist and fastened the other end to the first team. Riding his horse into the current he swam across the river. He called to the other riders to follow him, and at the same time to pull on the rope that was tied to the first team. In this way the leaders were started into the water, and all were drawn over in safety. At times, however, it took a great deal of pulling on the ropes by many men to drag the weaker teams to a safe foothold on the farther bank. The Snake River at the place where Whitman forded it was divided into three separate rivers by islands, and as the last stream on the Oregon shore was a deep and rapid current fully a mile wide, it can be seen what a task it was to get so many wagons, tired ox-teams, and the great company of men, women and children across it. But Whitman had solved many such problems before. When he and his wife went to Oregon six years earlier she had said it was a shame that her husband should wear himself[157] out in getting their wagon through. "Yesterday," she said, "it was overset in the river and he was wet from head to foot getting it out; to-day it was upset on the mountainside, and it was hard work to save it."

There were over a thousand people in this expedition that was going out to colonize Oregon for the United States. They had about one hundred and twenty wagons drawn by ox-teams, which averaged six yoke of oxen to a team, and, in addition, several thousand horses and cattle, led or driven by the emigrants. Although they started to travel in one body they soon found they could do better by dividing into two columns, marching within easy hailing distance of each other, so long as they were in danger of attack by the Indians, and later separating into small parties, better suited to the narrow mountain paths and the meagre pasture lands.

It is interesting to learn how such a company traveled. At four o'clock in the morning the sentinels who were on guard waked the camp by shots from their rifles, the emigrants crept from their canvas-covered wagons or tents built against the side of the wagons, and soon the smoke of camp-fires began to rise in the air. Sixty men, whose duty it was to look after the cattle, would start out from the corral, or enclosed space, spreading through the horses and cattle, who had found pasturage over night in a great semicircle about the camp. The most distant animals were sometimes two miles[158] away. These sixty scouts looked for Indian trails beyond the herd and tried to discover whether any of the animals had been stolen or had strayed during the night. If none were lost the herders drove the animals close to the camp, and by five o'clock horses, oxen, and cattle were rounded up, and the separate emigrants chose their teams and drove them into the corral to be yoked. The corral was a circle about one hundred yards deep, formed by wagons fastened together by ox-chains, making a barrier that could not be broken by any vicious ox or horse, and a fortification in case of an attack by Indians.

The camp was very busy from six to seven o'clock; the women prepared breakfast; the tents were packed away, the wagons loaded and the oxen yoked and fastened to their owners' wagons. Each of the two divisions had about sixty wagons, and these were separated into sixteen platoons. Each platoon took its turn at leading, and in this way none of the wagons had to travel continually in the dust. By seven o'clock the corral was broken up; the women and children had found their places in the wagons, and the leader, or pilot as he was called, mounted his horse and was ready to lead the way for the day's journey. A band of young men who were not needed at the wagons, well mounted and armed, would start on a buffalo hunt, keeping within easy reach of the caravan and hoping to bring back food for the night's encampment.

[159] At seven o'clock the trumpet sounded the advance, and the wagon that was to lead for that day slowly rolled out of the camp and headed the line of march. The other wagons fell in behind it, and guided by the horsemen, the long line commenced its winding route through the mountains.

The country through which Whitman had chosen to travel was beautiful in the extreme; at times the road lay through the great heights of the Rockies, with a panorama of wonderful charm stretched on the horizon; at times it lay beside broad rivers where the clearness of the air brought out all the colors of late summer foliage. The party of hunters were also scouts for the caravan, searching the rivers for the most promising fords. Having found one to their liking, they would signal with a flag to the pilot and his guides to show in which direction to lead the wagons. These guides kept constantly on the alert, for it would be hard if they had to march a mile or two out of their way or retrace their steps because of wrong advice. The rest of the emigrants trusted the route entirely to their leaders and rode or marched stolidly along, occasionally stopping to gather a few flowers for the women and children in the wagons. At noon the whole line stopped for dinner. The scouting party would carefully choose a good camping place, looking especially for the grass and water that were so much needed at the end of five hours of hard traveling. The teams were not unyoked, but only turned loose from their wagons,[160] and the latter were drawn up in columns, four abreast. No corral was formed, as there was little danger from Indians or risk of animals straying in the daytime.

At this noon rest many matters were discussed by the caravan leaders. Whitman and one or two others had been chosen to decide disputes between the different members of the party. Orders for the good of the caravan would be given out at this time, and Dr. Whitman would visit any who were sick and advise with the various families as to new difficulties they had met with.

When dinner was eaten and the teams rested the march was resumed, and continued until sundown, when the scouts picked out the best camping place for the night. The wagons were driven into a great circle, fastened each to each, and the cattle freed to seek a pasture; tents were pitched, fires started, and all hands were busy. The scene was almost like a small frontier town.

The caravan was divided into three companies, and each of the companies subdivided into four watches. Each company had the duty of acting as sentries for the camp every third night, and each watch took its turn. The first watch was set at eight o'clock in the evening, just after the evening meal. For a short time there would be talking, perhaps singing, or the music of the violin or flute. Usually, however, the day's traveling had been hard and trying, and at an early hour the emigrants went to sleep.

[161] Late in the summer of 1843 Whitman's pioneers left the mountains behind them, and came down into the valleys watered by the tributaries of the Columbia River. As they approached the missionary settlement at Wai-i-lat-pui a band of Cayuse and Nez Percés Indians came to meet them, bringing pack-mules loaded with supplies. Few messengers could have been more welcome. They told Whitman that his wife and friends were still at the little clearing where he had left them almost a year before, and were eagerly looking forward to the arrival of the new settlers. The leader thought that the caravan could finish its journey without him now, so he chose one of his most reliable Indian guides, Istikus, and placed him in charge of the company. Whitman himself hurried on to the mission. Back of him rolled the long train of canvas-covered wagons that had traveled so far over prairies, rivers, and mountains. Almost a thousand men, women, and children were coming into this far western section of the continent to settle and hold the country for the United States.

Whitman's ride changed the situation. No more statesmen could speak of the impassable mountains or the impossibility of taking settlers' wagons into Oregon. Before Whitman left Washington Daniel Webster sent a message to England stating that the United States would insist on holding all territory south of the forty-ninth degree of latitude. When President Tyler was told that a caravan of nearly a[162] thousand people under Whitman's leadership had started for Oregon, a second and more positive message to the same effect was sent to England. All over the United States men were now demanding that their government should claim the country as far as the Pacific coast, and one great political party took as its watchword the motto, "Oregon, fifty-four, forty,—or fight," referring to the degree of latitude they wanted for the boundary line. The Hudson's Bay Company, finding so large a colony of pioneers settling among them, was forced to give over its efforts to hold the northwest entirely for itself. In time the English statesmen agreed to the claims of the United States, and on July 17, 1846, a treaty was signed, fixing the boundary between Canada and the United States at the forty-ninth degree, which gave Oregon to the Republic.

The settlers prospered, and the little missionary colony near the Walla Walla River grew in size. Whitman resumed his work among the Indians, and seemed to win their friendship. There seemed no reason why the native tribes and their white friends should not live in peace in such an undeveloped country. After a time, however, fear or greed or false leaders stirred up certain Indians and sent them on the war-path against their friends. No one knew the real cause for the outburst, but on November 29, 1847, a band of the Cayuse crept down on the little cluster of houses at Wai-i-lat-pui and killed fourteen of the white settlers. Marcus Whitman was[163] one of the first to fall. He was in his house, with several Indians as usual in the room with him. One was sitting close to him, asking for some medicine, when another came up behind and struck him with a tomahawk. These two then gave the signal, and their allies in other houses fell upon the white men and women. After the massacre forty men, women, and children were carried away from the valley by the Indians, but most of them were later rescued by the Hudson's Bay Company and sent back to their homes. Other white settlers joined forces and marched against the treacherous Cayuse, but the latter fled through the country, scattering into different tribes, and the leaders of the attack were not captured until nearly two years later.

Daniel Webster had said in the Senate: "What do we want with the vast, worthless area, this region of savages and wild beasts, of deserts, of shifting sands and whirlwinds of dust, of cactus and prairie dogs? To what use could we ever hope to put these great deserts, or these endless mountain ranges, impenetrable, and covered to their base with eternal snow? What can we ever hope to do with the western coast, a coast of three thousand miles, rock-bound, cheerless, and uninviting, and not a harbor on it? What use have we for such a country?" But though many great statesmen agreed with Webster a simple missionary who had been to Oregon looked into the future, saw the value of the vast expanse, and had the courage and determination to[164] ride across the continent for aid, and then bring back a thousand settlers to help him realize his dream. Marcus Whitman is one of the noblest examples of that great type of pioneers who won the western country for the United States.


[165]

VII

HOW THE MORMONS CAME TO SETTLE UTAH

In the winter of 1838-39 a large number of people moved into the country on the east bank of the Mississippi River in the state of Illinois. They had taken the name of "Latter-Day Saints," but were generally called Mormons, and were followers of a new religion that had been founded by a man named Joseph Smith a few years earlier. This strange new religion had attracted many people to it, and the greater number of them had first moved to Ohio, and then into the new state of Missouri, but they were not well received by the people of either of those states, and had finally been driven from Missouri at the point of the sword. Fortunately for them there was plenty of unoccupied land in the West, and their leader decided to take refuge near the town of Quincy in Illinois. At that time a man had only to reside in the state for six months in order to cast a vote for president, and as an election was near at hand the politicians of Illinois were glad to welcome the Mormons. Looking about, the newcomers found two "paper" cities, or places that had been mapped out on paper with streets and houses, but[166] had never actually been built. The Mormon leaders bought two large farms in the "paper" town of Commerce, and many thousand acres in the country adjoining, and there they laid out their new city, to which they gave the strange name of Nauvoo.

The Mormon city lay along the Mississippi River, and its streets and public buildings were planned on a large scale. People flocked to the place, and as the Mormon missionaries were eager workers the number of converts grew rapidly. A temple was built, which a stranger who saw it in 1843 said was the wonder of the world. Many Mormon emigrants came from England, usually by ship to New Orleans, and thence by river steamboat up the Mississippi to Nauvoo. By the end of 1844 at least fifteen thousand people had settled there, and as many more were scattered through the country in the immediate neighborhood. Nauvoo was the largest city in Illinois, and its only rival in that part of the West was St. Louis. Joseph Smith had obtained a charter, and both the political parties, the Whigs and the Democrats, were doing their best to make friends of his people. Nauvoo had little of the rough look of most newly-settled frontier towns, and handsome houses and public buildings sprang up rapidly along its fine wide streets.


Nauvoo Had Handsome Houses and Public Buildings

Unfortunately for the Mormons their leader was a man who made enemies as easily as he made friends. He had aroused much ill feeling when he lived in Missouri. As a result, when, one day in May, 1842,[167] Governor Boggs of Missouri was shot and seriously wounded while sitting at the window of his home, many people laid the crime to Smith or his followers, and believed that the prophet himself, as Smith was called, had ordered the shooting. The officers of Missouri asked the governor of Illinois to hand Smith over to them. This was not done, and consequently ill feeling against the prophet grew stronger. In the meantime a man named John C. Bennett, who had joined the Mormons at Nauvoo, and had been the first mayor of the city, deserted the church, and turned into one of the most bitter of its enemies. He denounced the Mormons in letters he wrote to the newspapers, and exposed what he called their secrets. This led other people to attack the ideas of the Mormons, and it was not long before there was almost as much dislike of them in Illinois as there had been in Missouri.

Even in the Mormon church itself there were men who would not agree with all the prophet Joseph Smith said. A few of these men set up a printing-press and published a paper that they called the Nauvoo Expositor. Only one issue of this sheet appeared, dated June 7, 1844. That was enough, however, to raise the wrath of Joseph Smith and his elders, and they ordered the city marshal to destroy the press. The marshal broke the press and type in the main street of the city, and burned the contents of the newspaper office.

The editors hastily fled to the neighboring town[168] of Carthage. The people there and in all the neighboring villages denounced the destruction of the press, and declared that the time had come to force the Mormons to obey the laws, and, if they would not do so, to drive them out of Illinois. Military companies were formed, cannon were sent for, and the governor of the state was asked to call out the militia.

The governor went to the scene of the trouble to investigate. He found all that part of the east shore of the Mississippi divided between the Mormons and their enemies. He ordered the mayor of Nauvoo to send Mormons to him to explain why they had destroyed the printing-press, and when he had heard their story the governor told them that Smith and his elders must surrender to him, or the whole military force of the state would be called out to capture them. But the prophet had not been idle. He had put his city under martial law, had formed what was called the Legion of the Mormons, and had called in his followers from the near-by villages. He had meant to defend his new city; but when he heard the governor's threat to arrest him, he left Nauvoo with a few comrades and started for the Rocky Mountains. Friends went after him, and begged him not to desert his people. He could not resist their appeal to him to return, and he went back, although he was afraid of the temper of his enemies. As soon as he returned to Illinois he was arrested on the charge of treason and of putting Nauvoo under martial law,[169] and together with his brother Hyrum was sent to the jail at Carthage.

Some seventeen hundred men, members of the militia, had gathered at the towns of Carthage and Warsaw, and the enemies of the Mormons urged the governor to march at the head of these troops to Nauvoo. He knew that in the excited state of affairs there was danger that if these troops entered the city they might set it on fire and destroy much property. He therefore ordered all except three companies to disband; with one company he set out to visit the Mormon city, and the other two companies he left to guard the jail at Carthage.

The governor marched to Nauvoo, spoke to the citizens, and, having assured them that he meant no harm to their church, left about sundown on his road back to Carthage. In the meantime, however, events had been happening in the latter place that were to affect the whole history of the Mormons.

The two Smiths, Joseph and Hyrum, with two friends, Willard Richards and John Taylor, were sitting in a large room in the Carthage jail when a number of men, their faces blackened in disguise, came running up the stairway. The door of the room had no lock or bolt, and, as the men inside feared some attack, Hyrum Smith and Richards leaped to the door and shutting it stood with their shoulders against it. The men outside could not force the door open, and began to shoot through it. The two men at the door were driven back, and on[170] the second volley of shot Hyrum Smith was killed. As his brother fell the prophet seized a six shooting revolver that one of their visitors had left on the table, and going to the door opened it a few inches. He snapped each barrel at the men on the stair; three barrels missed fire, but each of the three that exploded wounded a man. As the prophet fired Taylor and Richards stood close beside him, each armed with a hickory cane. When Joseph Smith stopped shooting the enemy fired another volley into the room. Taylor tried to strike down some of the guns that were leveled through the broken door.

"That's right, Brother Taylor, parry them off as well as you can!" cried Joseph Smith. He ran to the window, intending to leap out, but as he jumped two bullets fired through the doorway struck him, and also another aimed from outside the building. As soon as the mob saw that the prophet was killed they scattered, alarmed at what had been done.

The people of Carthage and the neighboring country expected that the Legion of the Mormons would immediately march on them and destroy them. Families fled in wagons, on horseback, and on foot. Most of the people of the near-by town of Warsaw crossed the Mississippi in order to put the river between them and their enemies. In this state of excitement the governor did not know which party to trust, so he rode to the town of Quincy, forty miles away, and at a safe distance from the scene of trouble. But the Mormons made no attempt to[171] avenge the death of their leader; they intended to let the law look after that.

Week by week, however, it grew harder for them to live on friendly terms with the other people of Western Illinois, and more and more troubles arose to sow distrust. The Gentiles, as those who were not Mormons were called, began to charge the Mormons with stealing their horses and cattle, and the state repealed the charter that had been granted to the city of Nauvoo.

During that summer of 1845, the troubles of Nauvoo's people increased. One night in September a meeting of Gentiles at the town of Green Plains was fired on, and many laid the attack to the Mormons. Whether this was true or not, their enemies gathered in force and scoured the country, burning the houses, barns, and crops of the Latter-Day Saints, and driving them from the country behind the walls of Nauvoo. From their city streets the saints rode out to pay their enemies in kind, and so the warfare went on until the governor appointed officers to try to settle the feud. The people, however, wanted the matter settled in only one way. They insisted that the Mormons must leave Illinois. In reply word came from Nauvoo that the Saints would go in the spring, provided that they were not molested, and that the Gentiles would help them to sell or rent their houses and farms, and give them oxen, horses, wagons, dry-goods, and cash in exchange for their property. The Gentile neighbors[172] would not promise to buy the goods the Mormons had for sale, but promised not to interfere with their selling whatever they could. At last the trouble seemed settled. Brigham Young, the new leader of the Mormons, said that the whole church would start for some place beyond the Rocky Mountains in the spring, if they could sell enough goods to make the journey there. So the people of Nauvoo prepared to abandon the buildings of their new flourishing city on the Mississippi, and spent the winter trading their houses for flour, sugar, seeds, tents, wagons, horses, cattle, and whatever else might be needed for the long trip across the plains.

The Mormons now looked forward eagerly to their march to a new home, and many of them traveled through the near-by states, buying horses and mules, and more went to the large towns in the neighborhood to work as laborers and so add to the funds for their journey. The leaders announced that a company of young men would start west in March, and choose a good situation for their new city. There they would build houses, and plant crops which should be ready when the rest of the Mormons arrived. But they knew there was always a chance that the people of the country would attack them, and therefore they sent messengers to the governors of the territories they would cross, asking for protection on the march. On February 10th Brigham Young and a few other men crossed the Mississippi and selected a spot on Sugar Creek as[173] the first camp for the people who were to follow. Young and the twelve elders of the Mormons traveled together, and wherever their camp was pitched that place was given the name of "Camp of Israel."

The emigrants had a test of hardship even when they first moved across the Mississippi. The temperature dropped to twenty degrees below zero, and the canvas-covered wagons and tents were a poor shelter from the snow-storms for women and children who had been used to the comforts of a large town. Many crossed the Mississippi on ice. When they were gathered on Sugar Creek Brigham Young spoke to them from a wagon. He told them of the perils of the journey, and then called for a show of hands by those who were willing to start upon it; every hand was raised. On March 1st the camp was broken up, and the long western march began. The Mormons were divided into companies of fifty or sixty wagons, and every night the cattle were carefully rounded up and guards set to protect them from attack. From time to time they built more elaborate camps, and men were left in charge to plant grain, build log cabins, dig wells, and fence the farms, in order that they might give food and shelter to other Mormons who would be making the journey later. The weather was all against their progress. Until May it was bitter cold, and there were heavy snow-storms, constant rains, sleet, and thick mud to be fought with, but like many other bands of American[174] pioneers the Mormons pushed resolutely on, some days marching one mile, some days six, until May 16th, when they reached a charming spot on a branch of the Grand River, and built a camp that they called "Mount Pisgah." Here they plowed and planted several acres of land. While this camp was being pitched, Brigham Young and some of the other leaders went on to Council Bluffs and at a place north of Omaha, now the town of Florence, located the last permanent camp of the expedition.

The trail of the Mormons now stretched across all the western country. At each of the camps men, women, and children were living, resting and preparing supplies to cover the next stage of their journey. But in spite of the care with which the march was planned those who left Nauvoo last suffered the most. There was a great deal of sickness among them, and owing to illness they were often forced to stop for several days at some unprotected point on the prairies. Twelve thousand people in all shared that Mormon march.

The Gentiles in Illinois did not think that the Mormons were leaving Nauvoo as rapidly as they should. Every week from two to five hundred Mormon teams crossed the ferry into Iowa, but the neighbors thought that many meant to stay. Ill feeling against them grew, and a meeting at Carthage called on people to arm and drive out all Mormons who remained by mid-June. Six hundred men armed, ready to march against Nauvoo.

[175] When the Mormons first announced that they meant to leave their prosperous city in Illinois men came hurrying from other parts of the country to pick up bargains in houses and farms that they thought they would find there. Many of these new citizens were as much alarmed at the threats of the neighbors as were the Mormons themselves; some of them armed, and asked the governor to send them aid. The men at Carthage grew very much excited, and started to march on Nauvoo. Word came, however, that the sheriff, with five hundred men, had entered the city, prepared to defend it, and the Gentile army retreated. A few weeks afterward the hostilities broke out again, and seven hundred men with cannon took the road to the city.

Those of the Mormons who were left, a few hundreds in number, had built rude breastworks for protection; some of the Gentile army took these, and the rest marched through the corn fields, and entered the city on another side. A battle followed between the Gentiles in the streets and the Mormons in their houses, and lasted an hour before the Gentiles withdrew to their camp in the corn fields.

Peaceful citizens now tried to settle the matter. They arranged that all the Mormons should leave immediately, and promised to try to protect them from any further attacks. So matters stood until May 17th, when the sheriff and his men marched into the city, and found the last of the Mormons waiting to leave by the ferry. The next day[176] they were told to go at once, and to make sure that they did bands of armed men went through the streets, broke into houses, threw what goods were left out of doors and windows, and actually threatened to shoot the people. The few remaining Saints, most of them those who had been too ill to take up the march earlier, were now thoroughly frightened, and before sundown the last one of them had fled across the Mississippi. A few days later this last party, six hundred and forty in number, began the long wearisome journey to the far west, and the empty city of Nauvoo was at last in the hands of the Gentiles.

The object of the Mormons was to find a place where they might be free to live according to their own beliefs. So far they had been continually hunting for what they called their own City of Zion. As they spent that winter of 1846-47 in their camp near Council Bluffs, they tried to decide where they would be safest from persecution. The far west had few settlements as yet, and they were free to take what land they would, but the Mormons wanted a site on which to lay the foundations of a city that should one day be rich and prosperous. They decided to send out a party of explorers, and in April, 1847, one hundred and forty-three men, under command of Brigham Young, with seventy-three wagons filled with food and farm tools, left the headquarters to go still farther west. They journeyed up the north fork of the Platte River, and in the valleys found great[177] herds of buffaloes, so many in number that they had to drive them away before the wagons could pass. Each day the bugle woke the camp about five o'clock in the morning. At seven the journey began. The wagons were driven two abreast by men armed with muskets. They were always prepared for attacks from Indians, but in the whole of their long journey no red men ever disturbed them. Each night the wagons were drawn up in a half-circle on the river bank, and the cattle driven into this shelter. At nine the bugle sent them all to bed. So they made their way over the Uinta range to Emigration Canyon. Down this canyon they moved, and presently came to a terrace from which they saw wide plains, watered by broad rivers, and ahead a great lake filled with little islands. Three days later the company camped on the plain by the bank of one of the streams, and decided that this should be the site of their new city. They held a meeting at which they dedicated the land with religious ceremonies, and at once set to work to lay off fields and start plowing and planting. Some of them visited the lake, which they called the Great Salt Lake, and bathed in its buoyant waters. Day by day more of the pioneers arrived, and by the end of August they had chosen the site of their great temple, built log cabins and adobe huts, and christened the place the "City of the Great Salt Lake." This name was later changed to Salt Lake City.

It took some time for this large body of emigrants[178] to build their homes. Wood was scarce and had to be hauled over bad roads by teams that were still worn out by the long march, therefore many built houses of adobe bricks, and as they did not know how to use this clay the rains and frost caused many of the walls to crumble, and when snow fell the people stretched cloths under their roofs to protect themselves from the dripping bricks. Many families lived for months in their wagons. They would take the top part from the wheels, and setting it on the ground, divide it into small bedrooms. The furniture was of the rudest sort; barrels or chests for tables and chairs, and bunks built into the side of the house for beds. But at last they were free from their enemies in this distant country. Men in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois had hounded them from their settlements, but in this far-off region they had no neighbors except a few pioneer settlers, and wandering bands of Indians, who were glad to trade with them. A steady stream of converts to the Mormon church followed that first trail across the plains. A missionary sent to England brought many men and women from that country to the city on the Great Salt Lake. Brigham Young and the other leaders encouraged their followers above all else to cultivate the land. Most of the Mormons were farmers, and what shops there were dealt only in the necessities of life. Food was a matter of the first importance, and they had to rely entirely upon their own efforts to provide it. Every one was given a piece of land for[179] his house, and most of them had their own farms in the outlying country. When they were sure of their food they began to build their temple and other public buildings, and these, like their streets, were all planned on the lines of a great future city. They first called their territory Deseret, but later changed it to the Indian name of Utah.

Salt Lake City, and the territory of Utah, of which it was the chief settlement, might have remained for years almost unknown to the rest of the United States had not gold been discovered in California in the winter of 1849. The news of untold riches in the land that lay between Utah and the Pacific Ocean brought thousands of fortune hunters across the plains, and many of them traveled by way of Salt Lake City. That rush of men brought trade in its track and served to make the Mormons' capital well known. The quest for gold opened up the lands along the Pacific and helped to tie the far west to the rest of the nation. Soon railroads began to creep into the valleys beyond the Rocky Mountains, and wherever they have gone they have brought men closer together. But in Utah the Mormons were the first settlers, and no one could come and drive them out of their chosen land. At last they had found a city entirely of their own. They had not been allowed to live in Nauvoo, and so they built a new capital. Like all founders of new religions the Mormons had to weather many storms, but after they had passed through cold, hunger, and[180] hardships of many kinds they came to their promised land.

Such is the story of the founding of Salt Lake City, the home of the Mormon people.


[181]

VIII

THE GOLDEN DAYS OF 'FORTY-NINE

In 1848 California was largely an unexplored region, the home of certain old Spanish missions, with a few seaport towns scattered along the coast. Some pioneers from the East had settled inland after California had been separated from Mexico, and were ranching and farming. One of these pioneers, a well-to-do man named John A. Sutter, had staked out a considerable tract of land near the American River. He built a fort or stockade as headquarters, and made his plans to cultivate the tract. He had a number of men working for him, building a sawmill on the south branch of the American River, about forty miles from his main house. These workmen were in charge of James Wilson Marshall, who intended to have a dry channel serve as the tail-race for the mill, and was widening and deepening it by loosening the earth. At night the water of the stream was allowed to run through this channel, and wash out the gravel and sand. One day early in January, as Marshall was walking along the bank of the race, he noticed some shining yellow flakes in the soil. He thought these flakes might be gold, and gathering some of the earth carefully washed[182] and screened it. In this way he obtained what looked like gold-dust. Early the next morning he went back to the race, and after some searching found a yellow scale larger than the others. He showed this, together with those he had obtained the day before, to some of the workmen, and they helped him to gather about three ounces. Later in the day Marshall went to his employer Sutter, who was at the fort, and there the two men tested the flakes as well as they were able, and reached the conclusion that they were really gold-dust.

It was important to keep the discovery as quiet as possible. Searching along the dry channel Sutter and Marshall found more of the gold flakes. In some places the yellow scales were very plentiful, and seemed to promise that large quantities of the valuable mineral could be found near at hand. It was impossible, however, to keep the news from the workmen who had helped in finding the flakes. Before long the news spread, and in March, 1848, two newspapers of California mentioned the discovery on the south fork of the American River.

The country was so sparsely settled, and life so primitive, that no great excitement was caused by this news for some months. But in May a Mormon, coming from the settlement of Coloma to San Francisco, walked down the main street waving a bottle filled with gold-dust and shouting "Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River!"

His words, and the sight of the glittering bottle,[183] caused tremendous excitement in San Francisco, and in the twinkling of an eye men took possession of sailboats, sloops, launches, any kind of craft, and started up the Sacramento River. Those who could not get boats to take the quicker course hurried off on horses or mules, in wagons or on foot. It was like a fairy tale. The seaport town of San Francisco, which had been well filled, was practically deserted overnight. Shopkeepers closed their stores, families hurried from their houses, and every class of people pushed toward the American River. The roads that led thither, which had usually been almost as empty as the prairies, were now filled with a wildly rushing throng. A man who had crossed the Strait of Carquines in April was the only passenger on the ferry, but when he returned two weeks later he found two hundred wagons trying to drive on board the ferry-boat.

Business on the coast came to a standstill. The newspapers that had been started stopped publication. The churches closed, and all the town officers deserted their posts. As soon as a ship touched the coast and the crew heard of the finding of gold they deserted, and the captain and mates, seeing themselves without a crew, usually dashed after the others. Empty vessels lay at the docks. A large ship belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company, which had put into San Francisco harbor, was in charge of the captain's wife, every one else having left for the gold fields. Prices in all the country from San[184] Francisco to Los Angeles jumped prodigiously. If men were to stay at their work they demanded and received twice their former wages. Shovels and spades sold for ten dollars apiece. They, and a few other mining implements, were the only things still manufactured. The cry of gold had turned men's heads like the magic wand of some fairy.

Inland California presented a strange sight. The roads that ran from San Francisco to Sutter's Fort had formerly lain between prosperous farm lands, but now the crops were going to waste, the houses were empty, and the cattle free to wander through fields of grain. Along the American River, on the other hand, hills and valleys were filled with sheltering tents, and huts built of brush and rocks thrown together in a hurry. Men could not stop for comfort, but worked all day on the river bank. There were almost as many ways of searching for the gold as there were men. Some tried to wash the sand and gravel in pans; some used closely woven Indian baskets; some used what were called cradles. The cradle was a basket six or eight feet long, mounted on rockers, and open at one end; at the other end was a coarse screen sieve. Cleats were nailed across the bottom of the cradle. One workman would dig the gravel from the river bank, another carry it to the sieve, a third pour water over it, and a fourth rock the cradle The screen separated the stones from the gravel, the water washed away the earth and carried the heavier soil out of the cradle, thus[185] leaving the black sand filled with the gold. This was later carried to a pan and dried in the sun. The sand could then be blown away, and the gold would be left.

Men knew that fortunes were to be found here. On a creek a few miles below Coloma, seventeen thousand dollars' worth of gold was taken from a ditch three hundred feet long, four wide, and two deep. Another small channel had yielded no less than twelve thousand dollars. Many men already had bags and bottles that held thousands of dollars' worth of the precious mineral. One man, who had been able to get fifty Indians to work for him as washers, obtained sixteen thousand dollars from a small creek in five weeks' time.

All this quickly changed the character of upper California. Every man wanted to be a miner, and no longer a cattleman or farmer, as before. It looked as though the towns would shrivel up, because of the tremendously high wages demanded by the men who were needed there. Cooks in San Francisco were paid three hundred dollars a month, and all kinds of mechanics secured wages of fifteen or twenty dollars a day. The forts found it impossible to keep soldiers on duty. As soon as men were paid off they rushed to the American River. Sailors deserted as fast as they could, and the American war-ships that came to anchor off Monterey did not dare to allow a single man to land. Threats of punishment or offers of reward had no influence over[186] the sailors. They all felt certain they could make fortunes in a month at the gold fields.

Soon men began to wonder whether they could not duplicate in other places the discovery that Marshall had made on Sutter's land. Wherever there was a river or stream explorers began to dig. They were well rewarded. Rich placers of gold were found along the course of almost all the streams that flowed to the Feather and San Joaquin Rivers. Along the course of the Stanislaus and Toulumne Rivers was another field for mining. By midsummer of 1848 settlers in southern California were pouring north in thousands, and by October at least ten thousand men were washing and screening the soil of river banks.


Wherever There Was a Stream, Explorers Began to Dig

The Pacific coast was very far away from the rest of the United States in that day. News usually traveled by ship, and sailors brought the report of the discovery of gold to Honolulu, to Oregon City, and to the ports at Victoria and Vancouver. Letters carried the first tidings to the people in the East, and by the middle of the summer Washington and New York had learned what was happening in California, and adventurers along the Atlantic coast were beginning to turn their faces westward. The letters often greatly exaggerated the truth. A New York paper printed reports which stated that men were picking gold out of the earth as easily as hogs could root up groundnuts in a forest. One man, who employed sixty Indians, was said to be making[187] a dollar a minute. Small holes along the banks of streams were stated to yield many pounds of gold. But even allowing for much exaggeration it was evident that men were making fortunes in that country.

Colonel Mason, in charge at San Francisco, sent Lieutenant Loeser with his report to Washington. The lieutenant had to take a roundabout route. He went from Monterey to Peru, from there to Panama, across the Isthmus, took boat to Jamaica, and from there he sailed to New Orleans. When he reached the capital he delivered his message, and showed a small tea chest which held three thousand dollars' worth of gold in lumps and flakes. This chest was placed on exhibition, and served to convince those who saw it that California must possess more gold than any other country yet discovered. President Taylor announced the news in an official message. He said that the mineral had been found in such quantities as could hardly be believed, except on the word of government officers in the field. During the winter of 1848-49 thousands of men in the East planned to start for this El Dorado as soon as they could get their outfits together, and spring should open the roads.

The overland route to the West was long and very difficult. At that time, though the voyage by sea was longer, it was easier for men who lived on the Atlantic coast. They might sail around Cape Horn, or to the Isthmus of Panama, or to Vera Cruz, and[188] in the two latter cases cross land, and hope to find some ship in the western ocean that would take them to San Francisco. Business men in the East seized the opportunity to advertise tents, beds, blankets, and all manner of camp equipment, as well as pans, rockers, and every kind of implement for washing gold from the gravel. The owners of ships of every description, many of them unseaworthy, fitted up their craft, and advertised them as ready to sail for San Francisco. The ports of Boston, Salem, Newburyport, New York, Baltimore, and New Orleans were crowded with brigs and schooners loading for the Pacific. A newspaper in New York stated that ten thousand people would leave for the gold country within a month.

All sorts of schemes were tried. Companies were formed, each member of which paid one hundred dollars or more to charter a ship to take them around the Horn. Almost every town in the East had its California Association, made up of adventurers who wanted to make their fortunes rapidly. By the end of January, 1849, eighty vessels had sailed by way of Cape Horn, and many others were heading for Vera Cruz, and for ports on the Isthmus of Panama. The newspapers went on printing fabulous stories of the discoveries. One had a letter stating that lumps of gold weighing a pound had been found in several places. Another printed a letter from a man who said he would return in a few months with a fortune of half a million dollars in gold. A miner[189] was said to have arrived in Pittsburgh with eighty thousand dollars in gold-dust that he had gathered in a few weeks. Whenever men met they discussed eagerly the one absorbing topic of the fortunes waiting on the coast.

The adventurers who sailed around Cape Horn had in most cases the easiest voyages. There were plenty of veteran sea-captains ready to command the ships. A Boston merchant organized "The Mining and Trading Company," bought a full-rigged vessel, sold places in it to one hundred and fifty men, and sailed from Boston early in January, 1849. The first place at which she touched was Tierra del Fuego, and she reached Valparaiso late in April. There she found two ships from Baltimore, and in two days four more arrived from New York, and one from Boston. July 6th she entered the Golden Gate of San Francisco, and found it crowded with vessels from every port. The ships were all deserted, and within an hour all this ship's crew were on shore. The town itself was filled with bustle and noise. Gambling was practically the only business carried on, and the stores were jammed with men paying any price for outfits for the gold country. This company chose a place on the Mokelumne River, and hastened there, but they found it difficult to work on a company basis. The men soon scattered and drifted to other camps; some of them found gold, others in time made their way east poorer than when they came.

[190] Those who went by the Isthmus had many adventures. Two hundred young men sailed to Vera Cruz, and landed at that quaint old Mexican city. There they were told that bands of robbers were prowling all through the country, that their horses would die of starvation in the mountains, and that they would probably be killed, or lose themselves on the wild trail. Fifty of them decided not to go farther, and sailed back in a homeward-bound ship to New York. Those who went on were attacked by a mob at the town of Jalapa, and had to fight their way through at the point of revolvers. In several wild passes bandits tried to hold them up, but the Easterners put them to flight and pushed on their way. All through the country they found relics and wreckage of the recent days when General Scott had marched an army into Mexico.

There was more trouble at Mexico City. A religious procession was passing along the plaza, and the Americans did not fall upon their knees. The crowd set upon them, and they had to form a square for their protection, and hold the mob at bay until Mexican officers came to their rescue. Only after fighting a path through other towns and a long march did they reach the seaport of San Blas. One hundred and twenty of them took ship from there to San Francisco. Thirty, however, had left the others at Mexico City, thinking they could reach the sea-coast more quickly by another route. The ship they caught could get no farther than San Diego.[191] From there they had to march on foot across a blazing desert country. Their food gave out, and they lived on lizards, birds, rattlesnakes, and even buzzards, anything they could find. Worn and almost starving they reached San Francisco, ten months after they had left New York. Such adventures were common to the American Argonauts of 1849.

Those gold-seekers who went by the Isthmus of Panama had to stop at the little settlement of Chagres, where one hundred huts of bamboo stood on the ruins of the old Spanish fort of San Lorenzo. The natives, lazy and half-clad, gazed in astonishment at the scores of men from the eastern United States, who suddenly began to hurry through their town. Here the gold-hunters bargained for river boats, which were usually rude dugouts, with roofs made of palmetto branches and leaves, and rowed by natives. It was impossible with such rowers to make much speed against the strong current of the Chagres River. Three days were required to make the journey to Gorgona, where the travelers usually landed. At this place they had to bargain afresh for pack-mules to carry them the twenty-four miles that lay between Gorgona and Panama. Many men, who could not find any mules left in the town, deserted their baggage and started for the Pacific coast on foot. The chances were that no ship would be waiting for them there, and they would have to warm their heels in idleness for days.

[192] General Persifor F. Smith, who had been ordered to take command of the United States troops at San Francisco, was one of those who had to wait for a ship at Panama. Here he heard reports that a good deal of the new-found gold was being sent to foreign countries. Some said that the British Consul had forwarded fifteen thousand ounces of California gold to England, and that more than nine million francs' worth of the mineral had been received in the South American ports of Lima and Valparaiso. As a result hundreds of men from those ports were taking ship to California. General Smith did not like the idea of foreigners profiting by the discovery of gold in California, and issued an order that only citizens of the United States should be allowed to enter the public lands where the diggings were located. When the California, a steamship from New York, reached Panama in January, 1849, with seventy-five Peruvians on board, General Smith warned them that they would not be allowed to go to the mines, and sent word of this order to consuls along the Pacific coast of South America. In spite of his efforts, however, foreigners would go to Upper California, and the American prospectors were too busy with their own searches to prevent the strangers from taking what gold they could find.

When the California arrived at Panama she was already well filled with passengers, but there were so many men waiting for her that the captain had to give in to their demands, and crowd his vessel with[193] several hundred more gold-seekers. Loaded with impatient voyagers, the steamship sailed up the coast, and reached San Francisco about the end of February. Immediately every one on board, except the captain, the mate, and the purser, deserted the ship, and dashed for the gold fields. The next steamer to reach Panama, the Oregon, found an even larger crowd waiting at that port. She took more passengers on board than she was intended to carry, but fortune favored the gold-seekers, and the Oregon, like the California, discharged her adventurous cargo in safety at San Francisco. Hundreds of others who could not board either of these steamers ventured on the Pacific in small sailing vessels, or any manner of ship that would put out from Panama bound north.

It is interesting to know the story of some of these pilgrimages. One of the Argonauts has told how he organized, in a little New England town, a company of twenty men. Each man subscribed a certain sum of money in return for a share in any profits, and in this way ten thousand dollars was raised. The men who were to go on the expedition signed a paper agreeing to work at least two years in the gold fields for the company. The band went from the New England town to New York, where they found the harbor filled with ships that were advertised to sail for Nicaragua, Vera Cruz, or Chagres. The leader of the company chose a little brig bound for the latter port, and in this the party, with some twenty-five other passengers, set sail in March. They ran into[194] a heavy storm, but in three weeks reached the port on the Isthmus. There they had to wait some days, as all the river boats had gone up to Gorgona. When the boats were ready, thirty natives poled ten dugouts up the river. When the men landed they were told that there was no ship at Panama; that half the gold-seekers in that town were ill, and that there was no use in pushing on. So the party built tents on the bank of the river, and stayed there until the rainy season drove them to the coast. There they camped again, and waited for a ship to arrive. There was one vessel anchored in the harbor, but the owner was under a bond to keep it there as a coal-ship. The leader of the company, however, persuaded the owner to forfeit this bond, and four hundred waiting passengers paid two hundred dollars apiece to be conveyed to California. The ship was hardly seaworthy, and took seven weeks of sailing and floating to reach the harbor of Acapulco. There the vessel was greeted by a band of twenty Americans, ragged and penniless, who had come on foot from the City of Mexico. They had waited so long for a ship that twenty of the passengers agreed to give them their tickets, and take their places to wait until the next vessel should arrive. It was almost seven months after that New England party had left New York before they arrived at the Golden Gate of San Francisco.

There was very little choice between the Panama and the Nicaragua routes to the West. Among those[195] who tried the latter road were a number of young men who had just graduated from Yale College. They boarded a ship in New York that was advertised to sail during the first week in February, and expected to land in San Francisco in sixty days. It was March, however, before the ship, crowded with voyagers, set sail south from Sandy Hook. Three weeks brought her to the mouth of the San Juan River. The ship's company was landed at the little tropical town of San Juan de Nicaragua. A small steamboat had been brought along to take them up the river, but when the machinery was put together the boat was found to be worthless. Like the voyagers by Panama, these men then had to trust to native dugouts, and in this way they finally got up the river to San Carlos. Had it not been for their eagerness to reach California such a trip would have been a delight to men who had never seen the tropics before. The San Juan River flowed through forests of strange and beautiful trees. Tamarind and dyewood trees, tall palms, and giant cacti, festooned with bright-colored vines, made a background for the brilliant birds that flew through the woods. Fruit was to be had for the taking, and the weather at that time of the year was delightful. But the thought of the fortunes waiting to be picked up in California filled the minds of most of the travelers.

After leaving the boats this party traveled by mule to Leon. Nicaragua was in the midst of a revolution,[196] and the Americans acted as a guard to the President on the road to Leon. Near the end of July the company separated. Some finally sailed from the port of Realejo, and after many dangers and a voyage of almost five months succeeded in reaching San Francisco. Others reached Panama, set sail in a small boat, and were never heard from again; while yet a third party boarded a vessel at a Nicaraguan port, and managed to reach California after almost perishing from hunger and thirst.

Such were the adventures of some of those who tried to reach the gold fields of the West by sea. Hundreds of men made the trip by one of these routes, and as soon as spring arrived thousands set out overland. It was understood that large parties would leave from western Missouri early in March, and as a result many men, some alone, some in bands of twenty or thirty, gathered there from all parts of the East. Sometimes they formed military companies, wore uniforms, and carried rifles. The main place of gathering was the town of Independence, which grew to the size of a large city in a few weeks. Men came on foot and on horseback; some with canvas-covered wagons, prairie schooners, and pack-mules; some with herds of cattle; some bringing with them all their household goods. All the Middle West seemed to be in motion. In a single week in March, 1849, hundreds of wagons drove through Burlington, Iowa. Two hundred from Memphis went along the Arkansas River, and hundreds[197] more from Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Pennsylvania crossed the border of Iowa.

The spring was late, and as the overland trip could not be taken until the grass was high enough to feed the cattle, the great company had to wait along the frontiers from Independence to Council Bluffs. As men gathered at these towns they would form into companies, and then move on to a more distant point, in order to make room for later arrivals. Twenty thousand gathered along these frontiers before the signal was given to start westward. The march began about May 1st, and from then on, day and night, scores of wagons crossed the Missouri River, and the country looked like a field of tents.

From Independence most of the emigrants crossed rolling prairies for fifteen days to the Platte River at Grand Island. The route then wound up the valley of the Platte to the South Fork, and from there to the North Fork, where a rude post-office had been built, at which letters might be left to be carried back east by any travelers who were going in that direction. From here the emigrants journeyed to the mountain passes. They usually stopped at Laramie, which was the farthest western fort of the United States. By this time the long journey would be telling on many of the companies, and the road be strewn with all sorts of household goods, thrown away in order to lighten the burden on the horses.

At the South Pass, midway of the Rocky Mountains, two roads divided; those who took the southern[198] road traveled by the Great Salt Lake to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and so into California. The northern road lay partly along the course of the Snake River to the headwaters of the Humboldt, and from there the emigrants might choose a path still farther to the north toward the Columbia River, or westward to the Sacramento. Many went by the trail along the Humboldt, although this route was one of the most difficult. "The river had no current," said one of the gold-hunters. "No fish could live in its waters, which wound through a desert, and there was not enough wood in the whole valley to make a snuff-box, nor vegetation enough on its banks to shelter a rabbit. The stream flowed through desert sands, which the summer heat made almost unbearable for men and horses." Following its course the travelers came to a lake of mud, surrounded for miles by a sandy plain. Across this they had to march for thirty-four hours to reach the Carson River. Along the trail lay the bodies of horses, mules, and oxen, and broken wagons parched and dried out in the blazing sun.

The first of the overland travelers who crossed the mountains late in the summer brought such reports to the officers at the Pacific posts that the latter decided that relief parties must be sent back to help those who were still toiling in the desert. It was known that some had been attacked by Indians, and obliged to leave their covered wagons; that some had lost all their cattle, and were almost without[199] food. Therefore relief parties were hurried into the mountains from the western side. They found the overland trail crowded with men on foot and in wagons. Many were sick, and almost all were hungry. One man carried a child in his arms, while a little boy trudged by his side, and his invalid wife rode on a mule. The soldiers gave food to all who needed it, and urged them to push on to the army posts. Day after day they met the same stream of emigrants, all bent on reaching the golden fields of California.

Late in the autumn, with winter almost at hand, the voyagers were still crossing the deserts and mountains. The soldiers could not induce many of them to throw away any of their goods. They crept along slowly, their wagons loaded from baseboard to roof. The teams, gradually exhausted, began to fall, and progress was almost impossible. Then the rescuers hurried the women to near-by settlements, and forced the men to abandon some of their baggage in an effort to reach shelter before the winter storms should come. By the end of November almost all the overland emigrants had crossed the mountains.


The Teams, Exhausted, Began to Fail

The city of San Francisco had sprung up almost overnight. In 1835 a Captain Richardson had landed on the shore of Yerba Buena Cove, and built a hut of four redwood posts, covered by a sail. Five years afterward this village of Yerba Buena contained about fifty people and a dozen[200] houses. In 1846 the American war-ship Portsmouth anchored there, and her captain raised the "Stars and Stripes" on the Plaza. At that time there were not more than fifty houses and two hundred people. When the town became American the Plaza was renamed Portsmouth Square, and a year later the settlement was christened San Francisco. That was in January, 1847; and by midsummer of 1849 the town had become a city. It was an odd place to look at. The houses were made of rough unpainted boards, with cotton nailed across the walls and ceiling in place of plaster; and many a thriving business was carried on in canvas tents. There were few homes. The city was crowded; but most of the population did not intend to stay. They came to buy what they needed, or sell what they brought with them, and then hasten away to the mines. So many eager strangers naturally drove the prices up enormously, especially when it seemed as though gold could be had for the taking. The restaurants charged three dollars for a cup of coffee, a slice of ham, and two eggs. Houses and lots sold for from ten thousand to seventy-five thousand dollars each, and everything else was in proportion. What happened in San Francisco also happened in many other California towns. Sacramento was the result of the gold-craze. Speculators bought large tracts of land in any attractive place, gave it a high-sounding name, and sold city lots. Many of these so-called cities, however, shriveled[201] up within a year or two. The seaports flourished because they were the gateways through which the newcomers passed in their rush to locate in the gold country.

These seaports became the goal of merchants everywhere. Necessary articles were so scarce that they were shipped long distances. Flour was brought from Australia and Chili, rice and sugar from China, and the cities along the Atlantic provided the dry-goods, the tools, and the furniture. At one time a cotton shirt would sell for forty dollars, a tin pan for nine, and a candle for three. But on the other hand cargoes of goods that were not needed, silks and satins, costly house-furnishings, were left on the beaches and finally sold for a song.

From the seaports the new arrivals hurried either up the Sacramento and the Feather Rivers to the northern gold fields, or up the San Joaquin to the southern country. Usually they were guided by the latest story of a rich find, and went where the chances seemed best. Several men would join forces and pitch their tents together, naming their camp Rat-trap Slide, Rough and Ready Camp, Slap-jack Bar, Mad Mule Gulch, Git-up-and-Git, You Bet, or any other name that struck their fancy. There were no laws to govern these little settlements, and the men adopted a rough system of justice that suited themselves. But as the numbers increased it was evident that California must have a[202] better form of government, and steps were taken to have that rich stretch of land along the Pacific admitted as a state to the United States.

In three years California had grown from the home of about two thousand people to the home of eighty thousand. The finding of gold had changed that almost unknown wilderness into a thriving land in the twinkling of an eye. Railroads were built to reach it, and more and more men poured west. Some men made great fortunes, but more in a few months abandoned their claims and drifted to the cities, or made their way slowly back to the eastern farms and villages from which they had set out. The Forty-niners, as the gold-seekers were called, found plenty of adventure in California, even if they did not all find a short-cut to wealth.


[203]

IX

HOW THE UNITED STATES MADE FRIENDS WITH JAPAN

One of the beautiful names that the Japanese have given to their country is "Land of Great Peace," and at no time was this name more appropriate than in the middle of the nineteenth century. Two hundred years before the last of the civil wars of Japan had come to an end, and the people, weary of years of bloodshed, had turned delightedly to peaceful ways. The rice-fields were replanted, artisans returned to their crafts, shops opened again, and poets and painters followed the call of their arts. The samurai, or warriors, sheathed their swords, though they still regarded them as their very souls. They hung their armor in their ancestral halls, and spent their time in sport or idleness. The daimios, or nobles of Japan, lived either in the city of Yedo or at their country houses, taking their ease, and gradually forgetting the arts of war on which their power had been founded. All the people were quite contented, and had no desire to trade with the rest of the world. As a matter of fact they knew almost nothing about other countries, except through English or Russian[204] sailors who occasionally landed on their coasts. Japan was satisfied to be a hermit nation.

On the afternoon of the seventh day of July, 1853, or the third day of the sixth month of Kayéi, in the reign of the Emperor Koméi, the farmers working in the muddy rice-fields near the village of Uraga saw a strange sight. It was a clear summer afternoon, and the beautiful mountain Fuji, its cone wreathed in white clouds, could be seen from sea and shore. What startled the men in the fields, the people in the village, and the boatmen in the harbor, was a fleet of vessels coming to anchor in the bay of Yedo. These monsters, with their sails furled, although they were heading against the wind, were shooting tongues of smoke from their great black throats. "See the fire-vessels!" cried the Japanese to each other. When the peasants asked the priests where the monsters came from the wise men answered that they were the fire-vessels of the barbarians who lived in the West.

The monsters were four ships of the United States navy, the Mississippi, Susquehanna, Plymouth, and Saratoga, all under command of Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry. The fleet dropped anchor in the wide bay, forming a line broadside to the shore. The gun-ports were opened, and sentries set to guard against attack by pirates, or by fire-junks. As the anchors splashed in the water rockets shot up from one of the forts on shore signaling to the[205] court at Yedo that the barbarians had reached Japan.

The town of Uraga was usually not a very busy place, and the government officers spent their time drinking tea, smoking, and lounging in the sun, and occasionally collecting custom duties from junks bound to other harbors. But there was a great bustle on the day the strange ships arrived. The chief magistrate, or buniō, his interpreter, and suite of attendants, put on their formal dress of hempen cloth, and fastened their lacquered ornamented hats to their heads; with two swords in each belt, the party marched to the shore and boarded their state barge. Twelve oarsmen rowed it to the nearest foreign ship, but when they tried to fasten ropes to the vessel so that they might go on board, the barbarians threw off the ropes, and gestured to them to keep away.

The Japanese officer was surprised to find that, although he was gorgeously robed, and his companions carried spears and the Tokugawa trefoil flag, the barbarians were not at all impressed. They told him, through an interpreter, that their commander wished to confer with the governor himself. The officer answered that the governor was not allowed to board foreign ships. After some further discussion the surprised Japanese was permitted to climb the gangway ladder and meet the barbarians on the deck of their vessel.

Commodore Perry knew that the Japanese loved mystery, high-sounding names, and ceremonies, and[206] so he stayed in his cabin and would not show himself to the visitors. A secretary carried his messages, and explained that the mysterious commodore had come on a friendly mission and bore a letter from the President of the United States to the Emperor of Japan, which he wished to present with all proper ceremony. He declined to go to Nagasaki, and insisted that he should remain in Yedo Bay, and added that although his visit was entirely friendly, he would not allow any inquisitive sightseers to prowl about his fleet. Very much impressed with the power of this hidden barbarian, the Japanese officer immediately ordered all the small boats, the punts and sampans that had gathered about the fleet, to row away.

The officer and his body-guard returned to shore, and told the villagers that the visitors were very remarkable men, who were not at all impressed by their costumes or weapons. The Japanese had no such title as commodore in their language, and they referred to Perry as Admiral, and credited him with almost as much majesty as their own hidden Mikado, or as the mighty Shogun.

The western coast of Japan was much excited that night. Rockets from the forts, and huge watch-fires on the cliffs, told the whole country that a most unusual event had happened. The peasants set out their sacred images, and prayed to them as they had not done in years. It was evident that the gods of Japan were punishing the people for their neglect by[207] sending these great fire-vessels to disturb the coast. To add to the general excitement a wonderful light appeared in the sky about midnight, spreading a pale red and blue path across the heavens, as though a dragon were flying through space. Priests and soothsayers made the most of this display of Northern Lights, and pointed out that the fire-vessels, clearly revealed in the harbor, must have something to do with the strange omen.

The governor of Uraga himself, with a retinue of servants, all clad in embroidered gowns and lacquered helmets, and each carrying two swords, went out to the flag-ship next morning. He had evidently overlooked the fact that the barbarians had been told on the day before that the governor could not pay such a visit to their fleet. The governor was used to being received with a great deal of attention, and to having people bow to the ground as he went by; but on the deck of the Susquehanna the sailors looked at him with simple curiosity, and when he asked to speak with the mysterious admiral, he was told that he would only be allowed to speak with the captains. These men said that their commander would only wait three days for an answer from Yedo as to whether the Mikado would receive the letter of the President. They showed him the magnificent box that held the letter, and the governor's curiosity grew even greater. When he left the flag-ship he had promised to urge the Americans' cause.

Next day, the men dressed in silk and brocade,[208] painted helmets, and gleaming sashes, eager to visit the ships again, were surprised to learn that the barbarian prince would transact no business. His interpreter declared that it was a day of religious observance, known as Sunday. The people on shore heard the sailors of the fleet singing hymns, a strange sound in those waters. Hastily the Japanese offered new presents at the shrines of their own gods to ensure protection from the barbarians. 8 By now the hermit people thought they might have to guard themselves, and began to build earthworks along the shore. Farmers, fishermen, shopkeepers, women, and children were pressed into service. Rude embankments were thrown up, and enormously heavy brass cannon were placed at openings. The old samurai, who had almost forgotten warfare, sought out their weapons, and gathered their troops. Their armor consisted of jackets of silk, iron and paper. Their arms were old matchlocks and spears. They could have fought each other, but they were several hundred years behind the barbarians in military matters. On the hills they set up canvas tents, with flags bearing flaming dragons and the other emblems of their clans. In the days of their civil wars bright-colored trappings had played an important part.

Yedo was then the chief city of Japan. When Perry arrived in 1853 it was the home of the Shogun Iyéyoshi, who was the real ruler of the land, although the Mikado was called the sovereign. Yedo had[209] been the home of a long line of Shoguns of the Tokugawa family who had ruled the country, calling themselves "Tycoons." They had built up the city, and filled it with palaces and temples that had never been equaled in magnificence. The people of Yedo, numbering over a million, were greatly excited when they heard of the fleet of war-ships lying in their great bay. The Shogun, his courtiers and his warriors bestirred themselves at once. Soldiers were summoned, armor polished, swords unsheathed, castles repaired, and everything possible done to make an impression on the strangers.

The chief men knew that they could not oppose this foreign admiral. Once they had had war-vessels of their own, but years of peace had reduced their navy, and they could not defend their coasts. The Shogun was afraid that the admiral might insist upon seeing the Mikado at Kiōto, and that would be a great blow to his own dignity. After hours of debate and discussion he chose two daimios to receive the letter of the American President, Millard Fillmore, and sent word to all coast towns to man their forts.

Perry had played the game well, and so far had allowed no Japanese to see him. He wanted to make a treaty with Japan, and he knew that to succeed he must impress this Oriental people with his dignity. He allowed his captains and two daimios to arrange a meeting to be held at a little town called Kurihâma, near the port of Uraga. Each[210] side had tried to outdo the other in politeness. The American captains had received the Japanese officers with great respect, had served them wines, and seated them in upholstered armchairs. The Japanese regretted that they could not provide their guests with armchairs or with wine on shore, but the visitors assured them that they would be willing to adopt Japanese customs.

By July 13th the scene for the meeting was ready. Hundreds of yards of canvas, with the Tokugawa trefoil, had been stretched along the road to Kurihâma. Hundreds of retainers, clad in all the colors of their feudal days, were gathered about the tents, and on the beach stood as many soldiers, glittering in their lacquered armor. The American officers were almost as brilliantly dressed as the Japanese. They wore coats with a great many bright brass buttons, and curious shaped hats cocked on their heads. They brought musicians with them who played on cornets and drums, and the music was quite unlike anything the natives had ever heard before. Three hundred of the barbarians landed and marched from the beach to the main tent, while the eager-eyed people lined the road and wondered at their strange appearance.

Two or three big sailors carried the American flag, and back of them came two boys with the mysterious red box that had been shown to the officers of the port. Back of them marched the great commodore, clad in full uniform, and on either[211] side of him strode a black man armed with a large sabre. Many of the Japanese had never seen a white man before, and still fewer had ever looked upon a negro. They were therefore very much impressed by the procession.

The officers of the Shogun received their magnificent visitor at the door of the pavilion. After greetings the two boys handed the box to the negro guards, who opened the scarlet cloth envelope and the gold-hinged rosewood cases, and laid the President's letter on a lacquered stand brought from Yedo. A receipt for the President's letter was then handed to the commodore, who said that he would return to Japan the next spring, probably in April or May. The meeting lasted half an hour, and then, with the same pomp and ceremony, the Americans returned to their ships.

For eight days the fleet remained in the bay. One party of sailors landed, but made no trouble, and was actually so polite that the people offered them refreshments of tea and fruit. At close range the barbarians were not so terrifying as the natives had thought them at first, and when they embarked for their fleet the people urged them to come back again. On July 17th the war-ships steamed away, leaving the cliffs covered with people, who gazed in astonishment at vessels that had no canvas spread, but were driven entirely by fire.

Perry's object in visiting Japan was to obtain a treaty that would allow trade relations between the[212] United States and this hermit nation. He wanted to give the Japanese people time to consider President Fillmore's letter, and so he planned to keep his squadron in Eastern waters until the following spring, when he would return to learn the result of his mission at Yedo. There was much of interest to him in China, and he spent the autumn and part of the winter making charts of that coast, and visiting ports where American merchants were already established.

Meantime the letter of the American President had caused great excitement in Japan. Almost as soon as Perry left a messenger was sent to the Shinto priests at the shrines of Isé to offer prayers for the peace of the empire, and to urge that the barbarians be swept away. A week later the Shogun Iyéyoshi died, and left the government at odds as to what to do.

Some of the daimios remembered the military ardor of their ancestors, and wanted to fight the barbarians, rather than make a treaty with them. Others thought that it would be madness to oppose an enemy who had such powerful ships that they could capture all the Japanese junks, and destroy the coast cities. One powerful nobleman declared that it would be well for Japan to meet the barbarians, and learn from them how to build ships and lead armies, so that they would be able in time to defeat them at their own arts. The Mikado had little to do in the discussion. The actual ruler was the new Shogun Iyésada, son of the former Shogun.

[213] While Commodore Perry was cruising along the coast of China he heard that French and Russian merchants were planning to visit Japan. He was afraid that his country might lose the benefits of his visit unless he could obtain a treaty before these other countries did. Therefore, although a midwinter cruise to Japan was difficult and dangerous, he determined to risk this and return at once. Four ships set sail for Yedo Bay February 1, 1854, and a week later the commodore followed with three others.

In the city of Yedo the new Shogun was very busy preparing either for peace or war. A long line of forts was hurriedly built on the edge of the bay in front of the city. Thousands of laborers were kept at work there, a great number of cannon were cast, and shops worked day and night turning out guns and ammunition. An old law had directed that all vessels of a certain size were to be burned, and only small coasting junks built. This law was repealed, and all the rich daimios hurriedly built war-ships. These ships flew a flag representing a red sun on a white background, and this later became the national flag of Japan. A native who had learned artillery from the Dutch was put in charge of the soldiers; old mediæval methods of fighting were abandoned, and artillery that was somewhat like that of European countries was adopted.

In spite of all this bustle and preparation, however, the Shogun and his advisers thought it would[214] be wisest for them to agree to a treaty with the United States. Therefore a notice was issued on December 2, 1853, which stated that "owing to want of military efficiency, the Americans would, on their return, be dealt with peaceably." At the same time the old practice of Fumi-yé, which consisted in trampling on the cross and other emblems of Christianity, and which had been long practiced in the city of Nagasaki, was abolished.

Some men in the country were insisting that the time had come for the Japanese to visit the West, and learn the new arts and trades. One of these was a scholar, Sakuma, who urged the government to send Japanese youths to Europe to learn shipbuilding and navigation. The Shogun did not approve of this idea; but a pupil of the scholar, named Yoshida Shoin, heard of it, and decided to go abroad by himself. Sakuma gave him money for his expenses, and advised him how he might get passage on one of the American ships, when the fleet should return to Japan.

As soon as the Shogun learned that Commodore Perry was about to return he chose Hayâshi, the chief professor of Chinese in the university, to serve as interpreter. The Americans had used Chinese scholars in their communications with the Japanese, and Hayâshi was a man of great learning and courtly manners. The Shogun also found a native who understood English, although the Americans did not know this. This man, Nakahama Manjiro, with[215] two companions, had been picked up at sea by an American captain, and taken to the United States, where he obtained a good education. He and his two mates then decided that they would return to their native land, and went to Hawaii, where they built a whale-boat, and then sailed for the coast of China on board an American merchantman. In time the wanderers reached home, and when the Shogun heard of Manjiro's travels he made him a samurai, or wearer of two swords. The whale-boat that he had built was used as a model for others, and the traveler taught his friends some of the knowledge of the Western people.

On February 11, 1854, the watchmen on the hills of Idzu saw the American fleet approaching. Two days later the great war-ships of the barbarians steamed up the bay. The seven vessels dropped anchor not far from Yokosŭka, and the captain of the flag-ship received visits from the governor and his interpreters. Again the same exaggerated forms of politeness were observed, and presents of many kinds, fruits, wines, and confectionery, were exchanged. The Japanese suggested that Perry should land and meet them at Kamakura or Uraga, but the commodore replied, through his captain, that he should stay where he was until the Japanese had decided what they would do. He gave them until February 21st to decide about the treaty.

Boats were sent out from the fleet daily to make surveys of the bay, but none of the crews were[216] allowed to land. At length the Japanese stated that they were ready to treat with the American officers, and Captain Adams was sent to Uraga to inspect the place where the fleet was to anchor, and the new building in which the treaty was to be signed. The captain, with his aides, entered the hall of reception, and was met by a daimio named Izawa. The daimio was fond of joking. After many polite greetings Captain Adams handed the nobleman a note from Commodore Perry. Izawa took out his great spectacles, but before he put them on he folded up his large fan with a loud snap. The Americans, alarmed at the noise, clapped their hands to their revolvers. Izawa could not help laughing at their confusion, but quickly adjusted his spectacles, and after reading the note, said that he was much gratified at the commodore's greeting. Rice and tea, cake and oranges were served the guests. A long argument followed. Captain Adams said that the building was large enough for simple talking, but not for the display of presents; and that Commodore Perry would much rather go to the city of Yedo. The Japanese answered that they much preferred that the meeting should take place at Uraga or Kanagawa. The debate, carried on through Chinese interpreters, was a lengthy one.

Two days later the commodore moved his fleet ten miles farther up the bay. From here his crews could see the great temple-roofs, castles, and pagodas of Yedo itself, and could hear the bells in the city[217] towers. This advance of the fleet convinced the Shogun that Perry meant to go to Yedo. Some of his court had thought that it would be a national disgrace if the barbarians were permitted to enter that city, but the government now decided to yield the point, and suggested a place directly opposite, at Yokohama, for the place of treaty.

No such scene had ever been witnessed in the hermit land of Japan as the one that took place there on the morning of March 8, 1854. The bay of Yedo was covered with great state barges and junks with many-colored sails. On shore were hundreds of soldiers, the servants of the great daimios, dressed in the gorgeous costumes of earlier centuries. Held back by ropes were thousands of country people who had gathered from all over that part of Japan to see the strange men from the West. Everywhere was color. Tents, banners, houses, and the costumes of men, women and children blazed with it. The American sailors in all their voyages in the East had never seen such a brilliant picture.

Perry was not to be outdone. His men left the ships to the noise of cannon that echoed and re-echoed along the shore. Twenty-seven boats brought five hundred men, and as soon as they landed the marines formed a hollow square, while three bands played martial music. The great commodore, now looked upon by the Japanese with awe, embarked from the Powhatan in his white gig; more guns were fired; more flags waved; and with great[218] pomp, Perry landed on the beach. His object was to impress the hermit people with the dignity of his nation.

A number of meetings followed before the treaty was completed. The Americans insisted that vessels in need of wood, coal, water, or provisions should be allowed to get them from shore, and that the Japanese should care for shipwrecked sailors. They also wanted the two ports, Shimoda and Hakodate, opened to them. The Japanese were willing, provided they would not travel inland farther than they could return the same day, and that no American women should be brought into the country. But when the Japanese objected to the arrival of women, Commodore Perry threw back his cloak and exclaimed, "Great heavens, if I were to permit any such stipulation as that in the treaty, when I got home the women would pull out all the hairs of my head!" The Japanese were surprised at Perry's excitement, thinking that they must have offended him greatly. When the interpreters explained what he had actually said, however, both sides laughed and continued peacefully. They grew more and more friendly as the meetings progressed. They dined together and exchanged gifts. The Americans liked the sugared fruits, candied nuts, crabs, prawns, and fish that the Japanese served in different forms, while the hermit people developed a great fondness for the puddings and champagne the Americans offered them. When it[219] came to gifts, the eyes of the Japanese opened wide at the many surprising things the barbarians had invented. They were delighted with the rifles, the clocks, the stoves, the sewing-machines, the model of a steam locomotive, and the agricultural tools, scales, maps, and charts that Perry had brought to the Mikado. These presents were to open the minds of the Japanese to the march of progress in the rest of the world; and to teach them the uses of steam and electricity, the printing-press, newspapers, and all the other inventions that were products of Europe and America.

In exchange, the art-loving people of Japan gave their visitors beautiful works in bronze, lacquer, porcelain, bamboo, ivory, silk, and paper, and great swords, spears and shields, wonderfully inlaid and decorated, that were handed down from their feudal days.

While the fleet stayed Japanese spy-boats kept watch in the bay, to see that their young men did not board the foreign ships in their desire to see something of the world. Time and again the young Yoshida Shoin and a friend tried to break through the blockade, but every time they were sent back to shore. At last the two left Yedo for the port of Shimoda.

The Americans set up telegraph poles, and laid rails to show the working of the model locomotive. They gave an exhibition of the steam-engine. This caused great excitement in the country near Yedo, and every one who could went to see the strange[220] performance. Already there was a struggle between those who were eager to learn the inventions of the Americans, and those who were afraid that the new ideas would spoil old Japan. Many an ambitious youth stared at the Mikado's presents, and tried to learn more of their secrets from the sailors on their way to or from the fleet.

The treaty was signed on March 31, 1854, and agreed that shipwrecked sailors should be cared for, provisions needed by ships should be obtained in the ports, and American vessels allowed to anchor in the two harbors of Shimoda and Hakodate. Actual trade was not yet allowed, nor were Americans to be permitted to reside in Japan. The hermit nation was not at all eager to enter into competition with other countries, nor to allow foreigners to trade with her. Commodore Perry knew, however, that even the slight terms he had gained would prove the beginning of the opening up of Japan to the rest of the world.

April 18, 1854, Perry left the bay of Yedo for Shimoda, and there the fleet stayed until early in May. While the squadron was there two Americans, who were botanizing on land, met the youth Yoshida Shoin and his friend. The young Japanese gave the Americans a letter, but seeing some native officers approaching, he and his friend stole away. A few nights later the watch on the war-ship Mississippi heard voices calling, "Americans, Americans!" They found the two Japanese youths in a small boat, and took them on board. Paper and writing materials[221] were found hidden in their clothes, and they explained that they wanted to go with the fleet to America, and write down what they saw there. The commodore, however, felt that he was in honor bound to send the two young men back to their homes; and did so. Yoshida later came to be one of the leaders of the new Japan that ended the long line of Shogun rulers, and made the Mikado the actual emperor.

The fleet cruised from one port to another, now well received by the people, who had forgotten their fear of the barbarians' fire-vessels. The governors of the different provinces gave presents to Perry, among them blocks of native stone to be used in building the great obelisk that was rising on the banks of the Potomac River in memory of Washington. On July 17th the last of the squadron left Napa for Hong Kong.

The Americans had shown the Japanese that they were a friendly people, with no desire to harm them. A race that had lived shut off from the rest of the world for so many centuries was naturally timid and fearful of strange people. From time to time European ships had landed in Japan, and almost every time the sailors had done injury to the natives. Perry, however, convinced them that the United States was a friend, and the treaty, slight though its terms were, marked the dawn of a new era in Japan. Like the sleeping princess, she woke at the touch of a stranger from overseas.


[222]

X

THE PIG THAT ALMOST CAUSED A WAR

Off the far northwestern corner of the United States lie a number of small islands scattered along the strait that separates the state of Washington from Vancouver Island. One of these goes by the name of San Juan Island, a green bit of land some fifteen miles long and seven wide. The northern end rises into hills, while the southern part is covered with rich pastures. In the hills are coal and limestone, and along the shore is splendid cod, halibut, and salmon fishing. In the year 1859 a farmer named Hubbs pastured his sheep at the southern end of San Juan, and had for a neighbor to the north a man in the employ of the English Hudson's Bay Company, whose business it was to raise pigs. The pigs throve on San Juan, and following their fondness for adventure left Mr. Griffiths' farm and overran the whole island. Day after day Hubbs would find the pigs grubbing in his pasture, and finally in a moment of anger he warned his neighbor that he would kill the next pig that came on his land. Griffiths heard the warning, but evidently the pigs did not, for the very next day one of them[223] crossed the boundary line and ventured into Mr. Hubbs' field. Here it began to enjoy itself in a small vegetable patch that Mr. Hubbs had planted. As soon as he saw the trespasser Hubbs went for his gun, and returning with it, shot the intruding pig.

When Griffiths found his dead pig he was as angry as Hubbs had been, and he immediately set out in his sailboat and crossed the strait to Victoria, a little city on Vancouver Island, where officers of the British Government had their headquarters. He stated his case, and obtained a warrant of arrest for his neighbor Hubbs. Then he sailed back to San Juan with the constable, and going to his neighbor's house read the warrant to him. Hubbs indignantly replied that he was an American citizen, and did not have to obey the order of the English officer. Thereupon the constable left the house, vowing that he would return with a force of men and compel the farmer to obey him.

Mr. Hubbs was a shrewd man, and believed that the constable would be as good as his word. As soon as he had left Hubbs therefore sent a note to Port Townsend, which was in Washington Territory, asking the United States officers there to protect him from arrest for killing his neighbor's pig. When he received the note General William S. Harney, who was in command, ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Casey to take a company of soldiers and camp on San Juan Island to protect Mr. Hubbs.

Now that thoughtless pig had actually lighted a[224] fuse that threatened to lead to a very serious explosion. As it happened San Juan lay near the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and commanded both shores. The people at Victoria could see the American soldiers setting out in their boats from Port Townsend, and landing on the green island. So long as it had been the home of a few farmers San Juan had caused little concern, but now that troops were camping upon it it presented quite a different look. Victoria was all excitement. The governor, Sir James Douglas, heard the news first, and then Admiral Prevost, who was in command of some English war-ships anchored in the little bay near the city. The admiral was very angry and threatened to blow the Yankees off the island. He gave orders to move his fleet to one of the harbors of San Juan, and his cannon were ready to fire shot over the peaceful fields, where sheep and pigs had divided possession. Sir James Douglas, the governor, however, was a more peaceful man. He persuaded the admiral not to be in a hurry, but suggested that it would be wise to have a company of British regulars camp somewhere on San Juan. This would serve as a warning to the United States troops. Accordingly Captain Delacombe was sent over, and pitched his tents on the northern end of the island that belonged to the Hudson's Bay Company.

As a result of the pig having trespassed in Mr. Hubbs' vegetable patch, the flag of the United States flew above the tents on the southern part of[225] San Juan, and the British flag over the tents on the northern end. Mr. Hubbs was left in peace, and Mr. Griffiths went on raising pigs; but the people in Victoria shook their fists across the strait at the people in Port Townsend, and in each of those cities there was a great deal of talk about war. The talk was mostly done by men who had nothing to do with the army. The soldiers on the little island soon became the best of friends, and spent their time in field sports and giving dinner-parties to each other.

No part of the boundary line of the United States has given more trouble than that in the northwest. The Hudson's Bay Company had once claimed practically all of what was known as Oregon Territory for England, but after Marcus Whitman brought his pioneers westward the Hudson's Bay Company gradually withdrew, and left the southern part of that land to the United States. For forty years the two countries had disputed about the line of division, and the political party that was led by Stephen A. Douglas had taken as its watchword, "Fifty-four, forty,—or fight!" which meant that unless the United States should get all the land up to the southern line of Alaska, they would go to war with England. Fortunately President Polk was not so grasping, and the boundary was finally settled in 1846 on latitude forty-nine degrees. That was a clear enough boundary for most of the northwest country, but when one came close to the Pacific the coast grew ragged, and was dotted with little islands. Vancouver was by[226] the treaty to belong to England, and the agreement said that the boundary at this corner should be "the middle of the channel." Now it happened that San Juan and its small neighbors lay midway between the two shores, and the treaty failed to say which channel was meant, the one on the American or the one on the British side of San Juan.

As a matter of fact this question of the channel was very important for the British. It would lead them to the coast of Canada, or the United States to Alaska. The one to the west, called the Canal de Haro, was much straighter than the other, and deep enough for the largest war-ships. Naturally the United States wanted the boundary to run through this channel, and the British equally naturally wanted the boundary to run through the opposite channel, called Rosario Strait, because midway between lay the little island, which would make a splendid fortress, and might prevent the passage of ships in case of war between the two nations. So long as the islands were simply pasture lands the question of ownership was only a matter for debate, but when the pig was killed, and the troops of both countries camped on San Juan the question became a much more vital one.

News of what had happened on San Juan was sent to Washington and to London; and General Winfield Scott hurried by way of Panama to Mr. Hubbs' farm. He found that all the United States troops on that part of the coast that could be[227] spared had been crowded on to the southern part of the island. This seemed unnecessary, and General Scott agreed with Sir James Douglas that only one company of United States and one of British soldiers should stay in camp there. The little island thus became the scene of what was known as "a joint military occupation." In the meantime there were many lengthy meetings at Washington and London, and the two countries decided that they would leave the difficult question of the boundary line to arbitration. So the statesmen at Washington drew up papers to prove that the right line lay in the middle of the Canal de Haro, and statesmen at London drew up other papers to show that the correct line was through the middle of Rosario Strait, which would give them San Juan and allow their ships to sail in perfect safety between the islands and the Vancouver shore. The statesmen and lawyers took their time about this, while the soldiers amused themselves fishing for cod and salmon, and the farmers cared for their sheep and pigs as peacefully as in the days before Hubbs had shot Griffiths' pig.

After some time the two nations decided to ask the Emperor of Germany to decide the question of the boundary line. The Emperor appointed three learned men to determine the question for him. They listened to the arguments of both sides, and after much study made their report to the Emperor, who gave his decision on October 23, 1872, and handed a copy of it to Mr. Bancroft for the United[228] States, and to Lord Odo Russell for England. His decision was that the claim of the United States was correct, and that the middle of the Canal de Haro should be the boundary of that northwestern corner. This gave San Juan to the United States, much to the disappointment of the people of Vancouver Island, who knew that a fort on that little strip of land could control all navigation through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. One month after the decision was given the British troops cut down their flagstaff on the northern end and left San Juan.

San Juan lies opposite the city of Victoria, which has grown to be one of the largest ports of British Columbia. Instead of lessening in importance the island has grown in value, because that part of the country has filled up rapidly, and both sides of the line are more and more prosperous. The question of who should own San Juan would have been decided some day, but it was that prowling pig that brought matters to a head, and for a few weeks at least threatened to draw two countries into war. On such slight happenings (although in this case it was a very serious matter for the pig) often hang the fates of nations if we trace history back to the spark that fired the fuse.


[229]

XI

JOHN BROWN AT HARPER'S FERRY

In the days when Kansas was the battle-ground between those men who upheld negro slavery, and those who attacked it, a man named John Brown went from the east to that territory. Several of his sons had already gone into Kansas, and had sent him glowing accounts of it. Many New England families were moving west by 1855, and building homes for themselves on the splendid rolling prairies across the Mississippi. John Brown, however, went with another purpose. The years had built up in him such a hatred for negro slavery that it filled his whole thoughts. Kansas was the field where slave-owners and abolitionists, or those who opposed slavery, were to fight for the balance of power. Therefore he went to Kansas and made his home in the lowlands along the eastern border, near a region that the Indians had named the Swamp of the Swan.

There were a great many men in Kansas at that time who had no real convictions in regard to slavery, and to whom the question was one of politics, and not of religion, as it was to John Brown. Those were days of warfare on the border, and men from the south and the north were constantly clashing, fighting[230] for the upper hand in the government, and taking every possible advantage of each other. Five of John Brown's sons had already settled in Kansas when he came there with a sick son and a son-in-law. Early in October, 1855, they reached the home of the pioneers. They found the houses very primitive, small log shanties, the walls plastered with mud. The father joined his boys in getting in their hay, and set traps in the woods to secure game for food. But trouble was brewing in the town of Lawrence, which was the leading city of Kansas. Word come to the Swamp of the Swan that men who favored slavery were marching on the town, intending to drive out the free-state Northerners there. This was a direct call to John Brown to take the field. His family set to work preparing corn bread and meat, blankets and cooking utensils, running bullets, and loading guns. Then five of the men set out for Lawrence, which was reached at the end of a twenty-four hours' march.

The town of Lawrence, a collection of many rude log houses, was filled with crowds of excited men and women. John Brown, looking like a patriarch with his long hair and beard, arrived at sundown, accompanied by his stalwart sons armed with guns and pistols. He was at once put in charge of a company, and set to work fortifying the town with earthworks, and preparing for a battle. In a day or two, however, an agreement was reached between the free-state and the slave-state[231] parties, and immediate danger of warfare disappeared. Satisfied with this outcome, Brown and his sons took to the road again, and marched back to their home. There they stayed during the next winter. In the cold of the long ice-bound months, the passions of men lay dormant. But with the coming of spring the old feud smouldered afresh.

Bands of armed men from the South arrived in Kansas, and one from Georgia came to camp near the Brown settlement on the Swamp of the Swan. On a May morning John Brown and four of his sons walked over to the new camp to learn the Georgians' plans. He had some surveying instruments with him, and the newcomers took him for a government surveyor and therefore a slave man, for almost every official that was sent into Kansas held the Southern views. Pretending to be a surveyor, the father directed his sons to busy themselves in making a section line through the camp. The men from Georgia looked on, talking freely. Presently one of them said: "We've come here to stay. We won't make no war on them as minds their own business; but all the Abolitionists, such as them Browns over there, we're going to whip, drive out, or kill,—any way to get shut of them!" The strangers went on to name other settlers they meant to drive out, not suspecting who their listeners were, and John Brown wrote every word down in his surveyor's book. A few days later the Georgians moved their camp[232] nearer to the Brown settlement, and began to steal horses and cattle belonging to the free-state men. Brown took his list, and went to see the men whose names were on it. They held a meeting, and decided that it was time to teach the "border ruffians," as such men as the Georgians were called, a lesson. News of the meeting spread rapidly, and soon it was generally known that the free-state men about Osawatomie, which was the name of the town near which the Browns lived, were prepared to take the war-path.

The old bitter feelings flamed up again in May of 1856. On the twenty-first of the month, a band of slavery men swept down on the town of Lawrence, and while the free-state citizens looked on, sacked and burned the place. John Brown and his sons hurried there, but when they reached Lawrence the houses were in ashes. He denounced the free-state men as cowards, for to his ardent nature it seemed an outrage that men should let themselves be treated so by ruffians. When a discreet citizen said that they must act with caution John Brown burst out at him: "Caution, caution, sir! I am eternally tired of hearing that word caution—it is nothing but the word for cowardice!" There was nothing for him to do, however, and he was about to turn toward home when a boy came dashing up. He reported that the ruffians in the Swamp of the Swan had warned all the women in the Brown settlement that they must leave Kansas by Saturday[233] or Sunday, or they would be driven out. The women had been frightened, and taking their children, had fled in an ox-cart to the house of a relative at a distance. The boy added that two houses and a store near the settlement had been burned.

Those were dark days on the border, days that hardened men's natures. Such a man as John Brown felt that it was his duty to stamp out the pest of slavery at any cost. He turned to his sons and to some German friends whose homes had been burned. "I will attend to those fellows," said he. "Something must be done to show these barbarians that we too have rights!" A neighbor offered to carry the little band of men in his wagon. They looked to their guns and cutlasses. Peace-loving people in Lawrence grew uneasy. Judging from Brown's expression, they feared that he was going to sow further trouble.

Eight men drove back to the Browns' settlement, and found that the messenger's story was correct. They called a meeting of those who were to be driven out of Kansas, according to the ruffians' threats. At the meeting they decided to rid the country of the outlaws, who had only come west to plunder, and some of whom had been employed in chasing runaway slaves who had escaped from their masters. Their plans made, Brown's band rode to a little saloon on the Pottawatomie Creek where the raiders made their headquarters. Within[234] an hour's walk were the men's cabins. Members of Brown's band stopped at the door of each cabin that night, and asked for the men they wanted. If the inmates hesitated to open the door it was broken open. Two of the men on their list could not be found, but five were led out into the woods and killed. It was a horrible deed, barbarous even in those days of bloodshed. But Brown's men felt that they were forced to do it.

John Brown thought that this one desperate act might set Kansas free; but it only marked the beginning of a long and bloody drama. As soon as the facts were known he and his sons became outlaws with prices on their heads. Even his neighbors at Osawatomie were horrified at his act. Two of his sons who had not been with him were arrested, and the little settlement became a center of suspicion. The father withdrew to the woods, and there about thirty-five men gathered about him. They lived the life of outlaws, and neither slave-state nor free-state officers dared to try to capture them. By chance a reporter of the New York Tribune came on their camp. He wrote: "I shall not soon forget the scene that here opened to my view. Near the edge of the creek a dozen horses were tied, all ready saddled for a ride for life, or a hunt after Southern invaders. A dozen rifles and sabres were stacked against the trees. In an open space, amid the shady and lofty woods, there was a great blazing fire with a pot on it;[235] a woman, bareheaded, with an honest sunburnt face, was picking blackberries from the bushes; three or four armed men were lying on red and blue blankets on the grass; and two fine-looking youths were standing, leaning on their arms, on guard near by.... Old Brown himself stood near the fire, with his shirt sleeves rolled up, and a large piece of pork in his hand. He was cooking a pig. He was poorly clad, and his toes protruded from his boots. The old man received me with great cordiality, and the little band gathered about me."

This band, living in forest and swamp, was always ready to strike a blow for the free-state cause. The slavery men were getting the upper hand, and Northern families who had settled in Kansas began to look to John Brown for protection. The "border ruffians" grew worse and worse, attacking small defenseless settlements, burning homes and carrying off cattle. Sometimes it was only the fear of retaliation from Brown's company that kept the raiders from still greater crimes. Occasionally they met; once they fought a battle at Black Jack, and twenty-four of the enemy finally surrendered to nine of Brown's men. One of the leader's sons was badly wounded, and the father had to nurse him in the woods.

Affairs grew worse during the summer. The vilest scum of the slave states poured into Kansas, and the scenes on the border grew more and more disgraceful. There were pitched battles, and at last[236] the governor of the territory, thoroughly scared, surrendered his power into the hands of the slave-holders, and fled for his life. The slave-state men thought that the time had come to strike a blow that should settle the question in Kansas permanently. They prepared to gather an army in Missouri, intending to cross into Kansas, and so terrify settlers from the North that they would make no further resistance. Conditions looked desperate to John Brown, and he left the territory for a short time to see what he could do to get help for his cause.

A large band of emigrants from the North were on the march toward Kansas, and Brown rode to meet them. The emigrants had heard of him, and welcomed him to their midst. He encouraged them and urged them to fight for freedom, and went on his way hoping to rouse more free-state men to enter Kansas.

The East was now thoroughly awake to the lawless situation on the border, and a new governor, Geary by name, was sent out from Washington. Meetings were held in the large cities, and money, arms, and men began to pour into Kansas. Several hundred men from Missouri attacked Osawatomie, which was defended by Abolitionists, and a battle followed. John Brown was there, and when his party won the day he gained the nickname of "Osawatomie Brown," by which he was generally called thereafter.

Fired by this success, the leaders of the free-state[237] army planned to capture Lawrence. The new governor feared that such an act would mean the beginning of a general civil war, and did his best to prevent it. He succeeded in this. The free-state men were divided into two parties, those whose aim was to have Kansas admitted to the Union as a free state, and those who, like John Brown, were bent on abolishing slavery throughout the United States. Governor Geary assured the former men that Kansas would be free soil, and he tried to induce Brown to leave that part of the country for a time in the interest of peace. Brown was willing to do as Governor Geary wished, thinking that Kansas was safe for the present. He wanted to turn his attention to other parts of the country, where he thought he was more needed. In September, 1856, he started east with his sons. He was now a well-known figure, hated by all slave-owners, a hero to Abolitionists, and distrusted by that large number of men whose object was to secure peace at any cost.

There were many people in the North at that time who were helping runaway slaves to escape from their masters, and in certain parts of the country there were stations of what was called the "Underground Railroad." Negroes fleeing from the tyranny of Southern owners were helped along from one station to another, until they were finally safe across the Canadian border. The law of the country said that negro slaves were like any other form of property, and that it was the duty of citizens to return[238] runaways to their masters. There were also scattered through the border states a number of men whose business it was to catch fugitive slaves and take them back south. These men were usually of a brutal type, and the poor refugee who fell into their clutches was made to suffer for his attempt at escape. Story after story of the sufferings of slaves came to John Brown's ears, and he felt that it was his duty to throw himself into the work of the Underground Railroad, and help as many slaves as possible to cross into Canada.

This work was not enough for him, however; he wanted to strike some blow at the slave-owners themselves. The Alleghany Mountain range was one of the main roads for fugitives, for there men could hide in the thick forests of the mountainside, and could make some show of defense when the slave-catchers and bloodhounds came in pursuit. John Brown knew this country well. He traveled through the North, talking with other men who felt as he did, and trying to work out a plan which should force the country to decide this question of negro slavery. At last he decided to make a raid into Southern territory, and free slaves for himself.

In the heart of the Alleghanies, and almost midway between Maine and Florida, is a great natural gateway in the mountains. Here the Potomac and the Shenandoah Rivers meet, and seem to force their way through the natural barrier. This pass is Harper's Ferry, and in 1859 it was the seat of a[239] United States arsenal. To the south was a country filled with slaves, who looked to Harper's Ferry as the highroad to freedom. Not far from the arsenal rose the Blue Ridge Mountains, the heights of which commanded the pass. It was John Brown's plan to lead men from the Maryland side of the Potomac River to attack the arsenal, and when it was captured to carry arms and ammunition across the Shenandoah to Loudoun Heights in the Blue Ridge, and hide there. From here his band could make raids to the south, freeing slaves, and shielding them from their masters, while using the mountains for a shelter.

There were many other men in the United States bent on destroying slavery, but few so impulsive as John Brown. His plan was rash in the extreme, and even its success would have profited only a few slaves. But Brown was a born crusader. The men who followed him were all impulsive, and many of them were already trained in the rude ways of frontier life. They knew what he had done in Kansas, and were ready to fight on his side anywhere else. They had a real reverence for John Brown. The tall man with the long, almost white hair, keen eyes, and flowing beard was no ordinary leader. He had the power to convince men that his cause was just, and to hold them in his service afterward.

In June, 1859, John Brown, with two of his sons, and two friends, started south. He rented a farm about five miles from Harper's Ferry, in a quiet, out-[240]of-the-way place. There were several cabins in the neighborhood, and as his followers gradually joined him, they occupied these shelters. A daughter kept house for him during the summer. The men farmed in the daytime, and planned their conspiracy at night. The leader did everything he could to win the friendship of his neighbors. He had some knowledge of medicine, and attended all who were sick. Frequently he preached in the little Dunker chapel near by. He was always ready to share his food or give the shelter of his roof to any travelers. Slowly he collected guns and ammunition, and late in September sent his daughter north, and arranged to make his attack. At first some of the other men objected to his plans. One or two did not approve of his seizing the government arsenal, and thought they should simply make a raid into Virginia as the slave-state men had formerly carried war into Kansas. Their leader, however, was determined, and nothing could turn him. Already he feared lest some suspicion of his purpose might have spread, and was eager to make his start. He set Sunday night, October 16th, as the time for the raid. That morning he called his men together and read to them from the Bible. In the afternoon he gave them final instructions, and added: "And now, gentlemen, let me impress this one thing upon your minds. You all know how dear life is to you, and how dear life is to your friends. And in remembering that, consider that the lives of others are as[241] dear to them as yours are to you. Do not, therefore, take the life of any one, if you can possibly avoid it; but if it is necessary to take life in order to save your own, then make sure work of it."

At eight o'clock that night the old farm was alive with action. John Brown called: "Men, get on your arms; we will proceed to the Ferry." His horse and wagon were driven up before the door, and some pikes, a sledge-hammer, and a crowbar were put in it. John Brown pulled on his old Kansas cap, and cried: "Come, boys!" and they went into the lane that wound down the hill to the highroad.

Each of the band had been told exactly what he was to do. Two of the men were to cut the telegraph lines, and two others were to detain the sentinels at the bridge. Men were detailed to hold each of the bridges over the two rivers, and others to occupy the engine house in the arsenal yard.

The night was cold and dark. John Brown drove his one-horse farm-wagon, and the men straggled behind him. They had to cover five miles through woods and over hills before they came down to the narrow road between the cliffs and the Cincinnati and Ohio canal. Telegraph wires were cut, the watchman on the bridge was arrested, and the band found their way open into Harper's Ferry.

Their object was to seize the arms in the arsenal and rifle factory. They marched to the armory gate, where they found a watchman. "Open the[242] gate," one of Brown's men ordered. The watchman said that he could not, and another of the band declared that there was no time for talk, but that he would get a crowbar and hammer from the wagon. He twisted the crowbar in the chain that held the gate, and broke it open; then leaving the watchman in the care of two men, the rest made a dash for the arsenal.

A great deal happened in a short time. Guards were overpowered, the bridge secured, and the river forded close to the rifle-works. Not a gun had to be fired, and both soldiers and civilians did as they were bid by the armed men. Others of the raiders hurried out into the country, and meeting some colored men, told them their plans, and the latter at once agreed to join them. Each of the negroes was sent at once to stir up the slaves in the neighborhood, and bring them to Harper's Ferry. The raiders then came to the house of Colonel Lewis Washington. They knocked on the door, and were admitted. Colonel Washington asked what they wanted. The leader answered, "You are our prisoner, and must come to the Ferry with us." The Virginian replied, "You can have my slaves, if you will let me remain." He was told, however, that he must go back with them; and so he did, together with a large four-horse wagon and some arms, guns, swords, and cartridges.

Others of the band had brought in more Virginia prisoners. An east-bound train on the Baltimore and[243] Ohio Railroad that reached Harper's Ferry about one o'clock in the morning was detained, and the passengers were kept there until sunrise. John Brown was in command at the arsenal, and the rest of his band were acting at different points. By morning the people of the village were all alarmed. They did not know what the raiders meant to do, but many of them fled to the mountains, spreading the news as they went.

In spite of some little confusion among his followers, practically all of John Brown's plans had been successful up to this point. He had captured the armory, and armed about fifty slaves. His next object was to get the store of guns and ammunition that he had left at his farm. Here came the first hitch in his plans. He ordered two of his men, Cook and Tidd, to take some of the freed slaves in Colonel Washington's wagon, and drive to the house of a man named Terrence Burns, and take him, his brother and their slaves prisoners. Cook was to stay at Burns's house while Tidd and the negroes were to go to John Brown's farm, load the guns in the wagon, and bring them back to a schoolhouse near the Ferry, stopping on the way for Cook and his prisoners. This the two men did; but they were so slow in getting the arms from the farm to the schoolhouse, a distance of not over three miles, that much valuable time was lost. Cook halted to make a speech on human equality at one of the houses they passed, and Tidd stopped his wagon frequently[244] and talked with passers-by on the road. They had the first load of arms at the schoolhouse by ten o'clock in the morning, but it was four o'clock in the afternoon before the second load arrived. All the guns and arms should have been at the schoolhouse by ten o'clock, if the men had followed John Brown's orders strictly.

John Brown probably still intended to carry his arms, together with the prisoners and their slaves, up to Loudoun Heights, where he would be safe for some time, but his men were so slow in obeying his orders that the enemy was given time to collect. The train that had left Harper's Ferry that morning carried word of the raid throughout the countryside, and men gathered in the neighboring villages ready to march on Harper's Ferry and put an end to the disturbance. John Brown held thousands of muskets and rifles in the arsenal, while the men who were marching to attack him were for the most part armed with squirrel guns and old-fashioned fowling-pieces. The militia collected rapidly, and marched toward the Ferry from all directions. By noon the Jefferson Guards had seized the bridge that crossed the Potomac. Meantime John Brown had girded to his side a sword that had belonged to Lafayette, that had been taken from Colonel Lewis Washington's house the night before, called his men from the arsenal into the street, and said, "The troops are on the bridge, coming into town; we will give them a warm reception." He walked back and forth before the small[245] band, encouraging them. "Men, be cool!" he urged. "Don't waste your powder and shot! Take aim, and make every shot count! The troops will look for us to retreat on their first appearance; be careful to shoot first."

The militia soon advanced across the bridge and up the main street. When they were some sixty or seventy yards away from the raiders John Brown gave the order to fire. Some of the militia fell. Other volleys followed; and the attacking party was thrown into disorder. Finally they were driven back to the bridge, and took up a position there until reinforcements arrived. As they retreated John Brown ordered his men back to the arsenal. In the lull of the firing nearly all the unarmed people who were still in the town fled to the hills.

It was now one o'clock in the afternoon, and the band of raiders could have escaped to Loudoun Heights. But their leader wanted to carry the guns and ammunition away with him, and to do this he needed the aid of the rest of his men. He sent a messenger to one of his followers named Kagi, who was stationed with several others on the bank of the Shenandoah, with orders for him to hold the place a short time longer. The messenger, however, was fired on and wounded before he could reach Kagi, and the latter's party was soon attacked by a force of militia, and driven into the river. A large flat rock stood up in the river, and four of the five raiders reached this. There three of them fell before the[246] fire of bullets, and the fourth was taken a prisoner. In similar ways the number of John Brown's men was much reduced.

The leader realized the danger of the situation, and decided that his best chance of escape lay in using the prisoners he had captured as hostages for his band's safe retreat. He moved his men, and the more important of the prisoners, to a small brick building called the engine-house. There he said to his captives, "Gentlemen, perhaps you wonder why I have selected you from the others. It is because I believe you to be the most influential; and I have only to say now that you will have to share precisely the same fate that your friends extend to my men." He ordered the doors and windows barricaded, and port-holes cut in the walls.

The engine-house now became the raiders' citadel, and the militia and bands of farmers who were arriving at Harper's Ferry released the prisoners who were still in the arsenal, and concentrated all their fire on the band in the small brick house.

As the sun set the town filled with troops, and it was evident that the men in the fort would have to surrender. They kept up their firing, however, from the port-holes, and were answered with a rain of bullets aimed at the doors and windows. Both sides lost a number of men. Two of John Brown's sons had been shot during the day. Finally the leader asked if one of his prisoners would volunteer to go out among the citizens and induce them to cease firing[247] on the fort, as they were endangering the lives of their friends, the other captives. He promised that if they would stop firing his men would do the same. One of the prisoners agreed to try this, and the firing ceased for a time.

More troops poured into Harper's Ferry, and presently Colonel Robert E. Lee arrived with a force of United States marines. Guards were set about the engine-house to see that John Brown and his men did not escape. Then Colonel Lee sent a flag of truce to the engine-house, and in the name of the United States demanded that Brown surrender, advising him to throw himself on the clemency of the government. John Brown answered that he knew what that meant, and added, "I prefer to die just here." Again in the morning Lee sent his aide to the fort. The officer asked, "Are you ready to surrender, and trust to the mercy of the government?" Brown answered, "No, I prefer to die here." Then the soldiers attacked, not with guns this time, but with sledge-hammers, intending to break down the doors. This did not succeed, and seizing a long ladder they used it as a battering-ram, and finally broke the fastenings of the main door. Lieutenant Green pushed his way in, and, jumping on top of the engine, looked about for John Brown. Amid a storm of bullets, he saw the white-haired leader, and sprang at him, at the same time striking at him with his sword. John Brown fell forward, with his head between his knees. In a few minutes all of the raiders[248] who were left in the engine-house had surrendered to the government troops.

Of the band that had left the farm on Sunday night seven were taken prisoners, ten had been killed in the fighting, and six others had managed to make their escape. By noon of Tuesday, October 18th, the raid was over. John Brown, wounded in half a dozen places, lay on the floor of the engine-house; and the governor of Virginia bent over him. "Who are you?" asked the governor. The old man answered, "My name is John Brown; I have been well known as old John Brown of Kansas. Two of my sons were killed here to-day, and I'm dying too. I came here to liberate slaves, and was to receive no reward. I have acted from a sense of duty, and am content to await my fate; but I think the crowd have treated me badly. I am an old man. Yesterday I could have killed whom I chose; but I had no desire to kill any person, and would not have killed a man had they not tried to kill me and my men. I could have sacked and burned the town, but did not; I have treated the persons whom I took as hostages kindly, and I appeal to them for the truth of what I say. If I had succeeded in running off slaves this time, I could have raised twenty times as many men as I have now for a similar expedition. But I have failed."

The news of John Brown's raid spread through the country, and the people North and South were amazed and bewildered. They had grown used to[249] hearing of warfare in the distant borderland of Kansas, but this was a battle that had taken place in the very heart of the Union. Men did not know what to think of it. John Brown appeared to many of them as a monstrous figure, a firebrand who would touch his torch to the tinder of slavery, and set the whole nation in a blaze. Newspapers and public speakers denounced him. They said he was attacking the foundations of the country when he seized the arsenal and freed slaves from their lawful owners. Only a handful of men had any good to say for him, and that handful were looked upon as madmen by their neighbors. Only a few could read the handwriting on the wall, and realize that John Brown was merely a year or two in advance of the times.

We who know the story of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery think of John Brown as a hero. We forget the outlaw and remember the martyr. If he was setting the laws of men at defiance he was also following the law that he felt was given him by God. His faith and his simplicity have made him a great figure in history. A man who met him riding across the plains of Kansas in the days of the border warfare drew a vivid picture of him. He said that a tall man on horseback stopped and asked him a question. "It was on a late July day, and in its hottest hours. I had been idly watching a wagon and one horse toiling slowly northward across the prairie, along the emigrant trail that had been[250] marked out by free-state men.... John Brown, whose name the young and ardent had begun to conjure with and swear by, had been described to me. So, as I heard the question, I looked up and met the full, strong gaze of a pair of luminous, questioning eyes. Somehow I instinctively knew this was John Brown, and with that name I replied.... It was a long, rugged-featured face I saw. A tall, sinewy figure, too (he had dismounted), five feet eleven, I estimated, with square shoulders, narrow flank, sinewy and deep-chested. A frame full of nervous power, but not impressing one especially with muscular vigor. The impression left by the pose and the figure was that of reserve, endurance, and quiet strength. The questioning voice-tones were mellow, magnetic, and grave. On the weatherworn face was a stubby, short, gray beard.... This figure,—unarmed, poorly clad, with coarse linen trousers tucked into high, heavy cowhide boots, with heavy spurs on their heels, a cotton shirt opened at the throat, a long torn linen duster, and a bewrayed chip straw hat ... made up the outward garb and appearance of John Brown when I first met him. In ten minutes his mounted figure disappeared over the north horizon."

But John Brown had seized the government's arsenal, and put arms in the hands of negro slaves, and therefore the law must take its course with him. Its officers came to him where he lay on the floor of his fort, a badly-wounded man, who had fought for[251] fifty-five long hours, who had seen two sons and eight of his comrades shot in the battle, and who felt that his cause was lost.

When men who owned slaves asked the reason for his raid, he answered, "You are guilty of a great wrong against God and humanity and it would be perfectly right for any one to interfere with you so far as to free those you wilfully and wickedly hold in bondage.... I pity the poor in bondage that have none to help them. That is why I am here; not to gratify any personal animosity, revenge, or vindictive spirit."

A number of Virginians had been killed in the fight, and it was difficult to secure a fair trial for the raiders. The state did its best to hold the scales of justice even. The formal trial began on October 27, 1859. Friends from the North came to his aid, and a Massachusetts lawyer acted as his counsel. John Brown heard the charges against him lying on a straw pallet, and four days later he heard the jury declare him guilty of treason. December 2, 1859, the sentence of the court was carried out, and John Brown was hanged as a traitor. His last written words were, "I, John Brown, am quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had, as I now think vainly, flattered myself that without very much bloodshed it might be done."

Every great cause in history has its martyrs, and John Brown was one of those who were sacrificed in the[252] battle for human freedom. Statesmen had tried for years to argue away the wrongs that began when the first African bondsmen were brought to the American colonies. Statesmen, however, cannot change the views of men and women as to what is right and wrong, and all the arguments in the world could not convince such men as John Brown and his friends that one man had a right to the possession of a fellow-creature. He struck his blow wildly, but its echo rang in the ears of the North, and never ceased until the Civil War was ended, and slavery wiped off the continent. The great negro orator, Frederick Douglass, said twenty-two years later at Harper's Ferry, "If John Brown did not end the war that ended slavery, he did, at least, begin the war that ended slavery. If we look over the dates, places, and men for which this honor is claimed, we shall find that not Carolina, but Virginia, not Fort Sumter, but Harper's Ferry and the arsenal, not Major Anderson, but John Brown began the war that ended American slavery, and made this a free republic.... When John Brown stretched forth his arm the sky was cleared,—the armed hosts of freedom stood face to face over the chasm of a broken Union, and the clash of arms was at hand."

In the spring of 1861 the Boston Light Infantry went to Fort Warren in Boston Harbor to drill. They formed a quartette to sing patriotic songs, and some one wrote the verses that are known as "John Brown's Body," and set them to the music of[253] an old camp-meeting tune. Regiment after regiment heard the song and carried it with them into camp and battle. So the spirit of the simple crusader went marching on through the war, and his name was linked forever with the cause of freedom.


[254]

XII

AN ARCTIC EXPLORER

When Columbus sailed from Palos in 1492 he hoped to find a shorter route to Cathay or China than any that was then known, and the great explorers who followed after him had the same hope of such a discovery in their minds. When men learned that instead of finding a short route to China they had come upon two great continents that shared the Western Ocean, they turned their thoughts to discovering what was known as the Northwest Passage. They hoped to find a way by which ships might sail from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean north of America. The great English explorers in particular were eager to find such an ocean route, and this search was the real beginning of the fur-trading around Hudson's Bay, the cod-fishing of Newfoundland, and the whale-fishing of Baffin Bay.

One sea-captain after another sailed across the Atlantic, and strove to find the passage through the Arctic regions; but the world of snow and ice defeated each of them. Some went back to report that there was no Northwest Passage, and others[255] were lost among the ice-floes and never returned. Then in 1845 England decided to send a great expedition to make another attempt, and put at the head of it Sir John Franklin, a brave captain who had fought with Nelson and knew the sea in all its variety. He sailed from England May 26, 1845, taking one hundred and twenty-nine men in the two ships Erebus and Terror. He carried enough provisions to last him for three years. On July 26, 1845, Franklin's two vessels were seen by the captain of a whaler, moored to an iceberg in Baffin Bay. They were waiting for an opening in the middle of an ice-pack, through which they might sail across the bay and enter Lancaster Sound. They were never seen again, and the question of what had happened to Sir John Franklin's party became one of the mysteries of the age.

More than twenty ships, with crews of nearly two thousand officers and men, at a cost of many millions of dollars, sought for Sir John Franklin in the years between 1847 and 1853. One heroic explorer after another sailed into the Arctic, crossed the ice-floes, and searched for some trace of the missing men. But none could be found, and one after another the explorers came back, their only report being that the ice had swallowed all traces of the English captain and his vessels. At length the last of the expeditions sent out by the English Government returned, and the world decided that the mystery would never be solved. But brave Lady[256] Franklin, the wife of Sir John, urged still other men to seek for news, and at last explorers found that all of Franklin's expedition had perished in their search for the Northwest Passage.

Arctic explorers usually leave records telling the story of their discoveries at different points along the road they follow. For a long time after the fate of Franklin's party was known, men tried to find records he might have left in cairns, or piles of stones through the Arctic regions. Whale vessels sometimes brought news of such records, but most of them proved to be idle yarns told by the whalers to surprise their friends at home. One of these stories was that all the missing records of Sir John Franklin were to be found in a cairn which was built near Repulse Bay. This story was told so often that people came to believe it was true, and some young Americans set out to make a search of King William Land and try to find the cairn. The party sailed on the whaler Eothen, and five men landed at Repulse Bay. The leader was Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka, of the United States Army. He had three friends with him named Gilder, Klutschak, and Melms, and with them was an Eskimo, who was known as Joe.

The young Americans set up a winter camp on Chesterfield Inlet, and tried to live as much like the native Eskimos as possible. During the winter they met many natives on their hunting-trips, and the latter soon convinced them that they were on a[257] wild-goose chase, and that the story of the cairn was probably only a sailor's yarn. Lieutenant Schwatka, however, was not the sort of man to return home without some results from his trip, and so he made up his mind to go into the country where Franklin's party had perished, hoping that he might find some record which would throw light on the earlier explorer's travels.

The Eskimos were a race largely unknown to civilized men. White men had seen much more of the native American Indians who lived in more temperate climates. These young Americans found a great deal to interest them during the winter among these strange people of the far North. Hunting was their chief pursuit, and the Americans found that they spent much of their time indoors playing a game called Nu-glew-tar, which sharpened their quickness of eye and sureness of aim. It was a simple sport; a small piece of bone, pierced with a row of small holes, was hung from the roof of the hut by a rope of walrus hide, and a heavy weight was fastened to the end of the bone to keep it from swinging. The Eskimo players were each armed with a small sharp-pointed stick, and each in turn would thrust his stick at the bone, trying to pierce one of the holes. The prize was won by the player who pierced the bone and held it fast with his stick.

As soon as spring opened Lieutenant Schwatka started out, leaving his winter camp in April, 1879,[258] and crossing in as straight a line as possible to Montreal Island, near the mouth of the Black River. He took with him twelve Eskimos, men, women, and children, and dogs to pull the sledges. They carried food for one month only, intending to hunt during the summer. Every night the Eskimos built snow huts, or igloos, in which the party camped. As they went on they met men of another Arctic tribe, the Ook-joo-liks, who wore shoes and gloves made of musk-ox skin, which was covered with hair several inches long, and made the wearers look more like bears than like men. One of these natives said that he had seen a ship that had sunk off Adelaide Peninsula, and that he and his friends had obtained such articles as spoons, knives, and plates from the ship. Lieutenant Schwatka thought the ship was probably either the Erebus or the Terror. Later his party found an old woman who said that when she had been on the southeast coast of King William Land not many years before she had seen ten white men dragging a sledge with a boat on it. Five of the white men put up a tent on the shore and five stayed with the boat. Some men of the woman's tribe had killed seals and given them to the white men; then the white men had left, and neither she nor any of her tribe had seen them again. Asking questions of the Eskimos he met, Lieutenant Schwatka and his comrades gradually pieced together the story of what had happened to Franklin and his men. But the American[259] was not content with what he had learned in this way, and he determined to cross Simpson Strait to King William Land, and search for records there during the summer. This meant that he would have to spend the summer on this bare and desolate island, as there would be no chance to cross the strait until the cold weather of autumn should form new ice for a bridge.

The Eskimos did everything they could to persuade him not to cross to the island. They told him that in 1848 more than one hundred men had perished of starvation there, and added that no one could find sufficient food to keep them through the summer. Yet the fearless soldier and his friends insisted on making the attempt, and some of the Eskimos were daring enough to go with them.

It seemed doubtful whether they could even get across the strait. Every few steps some man would sink into the ice-pack up to his waist and his legs would dangle in slush without finding bottom. The sledges would sink so that the dogs, floundering and scrambling, could not pull them. The men had to push the dog-teams along, and after the first day's travel they were all so exhausted that they had to rest the whole of the next day before they could start on again. Finally they reached the opposite shore of the strait, and, while the natives built igloos and hunted, the Americans searched for records of Franklin's party. They found enough traces to prove that the men who had sought the Northwest[260] Passage had spent some time on this desolate strip of land.

More than once they were in danger of starvation. In the spring the Eskimos hunted wild ducks, which they found in remote stretches of water. Their way of hunting was to steal up on a flock of the birds, and, as soon as the ducks took alarm, to rush toward the largest bunch of them. The hunter then threw his spear, made with three barbs of different lengths, and caught the duck on the sharp central prong. The long wooden shaft of the spear would keep the duck floating on the water until the hunter could seize it. But as summer drew on, and the ducks migrated, food grew very scarce. Once or twice they discovered bears, which they shot, and when there was nothing else to eat they lived on a small black berry that the Eskimos called parawong, which proved very sustaining.

As the white men tramped day after day over the icy hillocks their footwear wore out, and often walking became a torment. In telling of their march Gilder said, "We were either wading through the hillside torrents or lakes, which, frozen on the bottom, made the footing exceedingly treacherous, or else with sealskin boots, soft by constant wetting, painfully plodding over sharp stones set firmly in the ground with the edges pointed up. Sometimes as a new method of injury, stepping and slipping on flat stones, the unwary foot slid into a crevice that seemingly wrenched it from the body."

[261] When they had nothing else to eat the white men lived on the same food as the native hunters. This was generally a tallow made from the reindeer, and eaten with strips of reindeer meat. A dish of this, mixed with seal-oil, was said to look like ice-cream and took the place of that dessert with the Eskimos. Lieutenant Schwatka said, however, that instead of tasting like ice-cream it reminded him more of locust, sawdust and wild-honey.

As autumn drew on they made ready to cross back to the mainland; but it took some time for the ice to form on the strait. Gilder said of their camp life: "We eat quantities of reindeer tallow with our meat, probably about half of our daily food. Breakfast is eaten raw and frozen, but we generally have a warm meal in the evening. Fuel is hard to obtain and now consists of a vine-like moss called ik-shoot-ik. Reindeer tallow is used for a light. A small, flat stone serves for a candlestick, on which a lump of tallow is placed close to a piece of fibrous moss called mun-ne, which is used for a wick. The melting tallow runs down upon the stone and is immediately absorbed by the moss. This makes a cheerful and pleasant light, but is most exasperating to a hungry man as it smells exactly like frying meat. Eating such quantities of tallow is a great benefit in this climate, and we can easily see the effects of it in the comfort with which we meet the cold."

As soon as the ice on the strait was frozen hard enough the reindeer crossed it, and by the middle of[262] October King William Land was practically deserted. Then the Americans and Eskimos started back to the mainland. Winter had now come, and the weather was intensely cold, often ninety degrees below freezing. In December the traveling grew worse, and food became so scarce that they had to stop day after day for hunting. In January a blizzard struck their camp and lasted thirteen days; then wolves prowled about them at night, and once actually killed four of their dogs. "A sealskin full of blubber," said Gilder, "would have saved many of our dogs; but we had none to spare for them, as we were reduced to the point when we had to save it exclusively for lighting the igloos at night. We could not use it to warm our igloos or to cook with. Our meat had to be eaten cold—that is, frozen so solid that it had to be sawed and then broken into convenient-sized lumps, which when first put into the mouth were like stones. Sometimes, however, the snow was beaten off the moss on the hillsides and enough was gathered to cook a meal."

When they were almost on the point of starvation a walrus was killed, and supplied them with food to last until they got back to the nearest Eskimo village. From the coast they took ship to the United States. The records they brought with them practically completed the account of what had happened to Sir John Franklin's ill-fated expedition. And almost equally important were the new details they brought in regard to Eskimo life, and the proof they[263] gave that men of the temperate zone could pass a year in the frozen land of the far north if they would live as the natives did, and adapt themselves to the rigors of that climate.


[264]

XIII

THE STORY OF ALASKA

In the far northwestern corner of North America is a land that has had few stirring scenes in its history. It is an enormous tract, close to the Arctic Sea, and far from the busy cities of the United States. Not until long after the English, French, and Spanish discoverers had explored the country in the Temperate Zone did any European find Alaska. Even when it was found it seemed to offer little but ice-fields and desolate prairies, leading to wild mountain ranges that did not tempt men to settle. Seal hunters came and went, but generally left the native Indians in peace. Most of these hunters came from Siberia, for the Russians were the first owners of this land.

An officer in the Russian Navy named Vitus Bering found the strait that is called by his name in 1728. Some years later he was sent into the Arctic Sea again by the Empress Anne of Russia to try to find the wonderful country that Vasco de Gama had sought. He sailed in summer, and after weathering heavy storms finally reached Kayak Island on St. Elias Day, July 17, 1741, and named the great mountain peak in honor of that saint. More storms followed,[265] and soon afterward the brave sailor was shipwrecked and drowned off the Comandorski Islands. His crew managed to get back to Siberia, having lived on the meat of the seals they were able to shoot. Russian traders saw the sealskins they brought home, and sent out expeditions to obtain more furs. Some returned richly laden, but others were lost in storms and never heard from. There was so much danger in the hunting that it was not until 1783 that Russian merchants actually established trading-posts in Alaska. Then a rich merchant of Siberia named Gregory Shelikoff built a post on Kadiak Island, and took into partnership with him a Russian named Alexander Baranof. Baranof built a fort on an island named for him, some three miles north of the present city of Sitka. The two men formed the Russian American Fur Company, and Baranof became its manager in America.

One day a seal hunter came to Baranof at his fortress, and took from his pocket a handful of nuggets and scales of gold. He held them out to the Russian, and said that he knew where many more like them were to be found. "Ivan," said Baranof, "I forbid you to seek for any more. You must not say a word about this, or there will be trouble. If the Americans or the English know that there is gold in these mountains we will be ruined. They will rush in here by the thousands, and crowd us to the wall." Baranof was a fur merchant, and did not want to see miners flocking to his land, as his company[266] was growing rich from the seals and fur-trading with the natives.

Little by little, however, the news leaked out that the northwestern country had rich minerals, and soon the King of Spain began to covet some of that wealth for himself. The Spaniards claimed that they owned all of the country that had not yet been mapped out, and they sent an exploring party, under Perez, to make charts of the northwest. Perez sailed along the coast, and finding two capes, named them Santa Margarita and Santa Magdalena, but beyond that he did little to help the cause of Spain. Some years later exploring parties were sent out from Mexico, but they found that the wild ice-covered country was already claimed by the Russians, and that the Czar had no intention of giving it up. Other nations, therefore, soon ceased to claim it, and the Russian hunters and traders were allowed to enjoy the country in peace.

Alexander Baranof made a great success of the trade in skins, but the men who took his place were not equal to him. The company began to lose money, and the Czar of Russia decided that the country was too far away from his capital to be properly looked after. The United States finally made an offer to buy the great territory from the Czar, although the government at Washington was not very anxious to make the purchase. The tract, large as it was, did not seem to promise much, and it was almost as far from Washington as it was from St.[267] Petersburg. The Czar was quite willing to sell, however, and so the United States bought the country from him in 1867, paying him $7,200,000 for it.

On a fine October afternoon in 1867 Sitka Bay saw the Stars and Stripes flying from three United States war-ships, while the Russian Eagle waved from the flagstaffs and houses in the small town. On the shore soldiers of the two nations were drawn up in front of the old castle, and officers stood waiting at the foot of the flagpole on the parade ground. Then a gun was fired from one of the United States war-ships, and instantly the Russian batteries returned the salute. A Russian officer lowered his country's flag from the parade ground pole, and an American pulled the Stars and Stripes to the peak. Guns boomed and regimental bands played, and then the Russian troops saluted and left the fortress, and the territory became part of the United States.

Up to that time the country had been known as Russian America, but now a new name had to be found. Some suggested American Siberia, and others the Zero Islands; but an American statesman, Charles Sumner, urged the name of Alaska, a native word meaning "the Great Land," and this was the name that was finally adopted.

It took many years to explore the western part of the United States, and men who were in search of wealth in mines and forests did not have to go as far as Alaska to find it. That bleak country was separated from the United States by a long, stormy sea[268] voyage on the Pacific, or a tedious and difficult overland journey through Canada. Alaska might have remained for years as little known as while Russia owned it had it not been for a small party of men who set out to explore the Yukon and the Klondike Rivers.

On June 16, 1897, a small ship called the Excelsior sailed into San Francisco Harbor, and half an hour after she had landed at her wharf the news was spreading far and wide that gold had been discovered in large quantities on the Klondike. Some of the men had gone out years before; some only a few months earlier, but they all brought back fortunes. Not one had left with less than $5,000 in gold, gathered in nuggets or flakes, in tin cans, canvas bags, wooden boxes, or wrapped up in paper. The cry of such sudden wealth was heard by many adventurers, and the old days of 'Forty-Nine in California began over again when the wild rush started north to the Klondike.

On June 17th another ship, the Portland, arrived at Seattle, with sixty more miners and $800,000 in gold. This was the largest find of the precious mineral that had been made anywhere in the world, and Seattle followed the example of San Francisco in going gold-crazy. Immediately hundreds of people took passage on the outward bound steamers, and hundreds more were turned away because of lack of room. Ships set out from all the seaports along the Pacific coast of the United States, and from the Canadian ports of Victoria and Vancouver. As in[269] the old days of 1849 men gave up their business to seek the gold fields, but now they had to travel to a wilder and more desolate country than California had been.

There were many ways of getting to the Klondike country. Those who went by ocean steamer had to transfer to flat-bottomed boats to go up the Yukon River. This was the easiest route, but the boats could only be used on the Yukon from June until September, and the great rush of gold-seekers came later that autumn. A second route was by the Chilkoot trail, which had been used for many years by miners going into the country of the Yukon. Over this trail horses could be used as far as the foot of the great Chilkoot Pass, but from there luggage had to be carried by hand. Another trail, much like this one, was the White Pass trail, but it led through a less-known country than the Chilkoot, and was not so popular. The Canadian government laid out a trail of its own, which was called "the Stikeen route," and which ran altogether through Canadian territory. Besides these there were innumerable other roads through the mountains, and along the rivers; but the farther men got from the better known trails the more danger they were in of losing their way, or suffering from hunger and hardships.

Towns blossomed along the coast of Alaska almost over night, but they were strange looking villages. The ships that landed at Skagway in the[270] summer of 1897 found a number of rough frame houses, with three or four larger than the rest which hung out hotel signs. The only government officer lived in a tent over which flew the flag of the United States. The passengers landed their outfits themselves, for labor was scarce, and found shelter wherever they could until they might start on the trail.

No one seemed to know much about the country they were going through, but fortunately most of the men were experienced woodsmen. They loaded their baggage on their packhorses, and started out, ready for any sort of country they might have to cross. Sometimes the trail lay over miry ground, where a false step to the right or left would send the horses or men deep into the bog; sometimes it led up steep and rocky mountainsides, where a man had to guard his horse's footing as carefully as his own; and much of the way was in the bed of an old river, where each step brought a splash of mud, and left the travelers at the end of the day spattered from head to foot. The journey was harder on the horses than on the men. The heavy packs they carried, and the wretched footing, caused them to drop along the road from time to time, and then the travelers had to make the best shift they could with their luggage. Had the men journeyed alone, or in small companies, they would have suffered greatly, but the Chilkoot trail was filled with miners who were ready to help each other, and to give encouragement[271] to any who lagged behind. At Dyea they came to an old Alaskan settlement, an Indian trading post, where a number of native tribes lived in their little wooden cabins. These men were the Chilkats, the Stikeen Indians, and the Chilkoots, short, heavy men, with heads and eyes more like Mongolians than like American Indians. Both men and women were accustomed to painting their faces jet black or chocolate brown, in order to protect their eyes and skin from the glare of the sunlight on the snow. The traveler could here get Indians to act as guides, or if he had lost his horses might obtain dogs and sleds to carry some of his packs.

Each of the little settlements through which the travelers went boasted of a hotel, usually a frame building with two or three large rooms. Each day meals were served to three or four hundred hungry travelers at rude board tables, and at night the men would spread their blankets on the floor and lie down to sleep. But as the trail went farther inland these little settlements grew fewer, and the men had to find whatever shelter they could. From Dyea they pushed on through the Chilkoot Pass, where the cliffs rose high above them. The winds blew cold from the north, and the mists kept everything wet. In the Pass some men turned back, finding the trip too difficult. Those who went on met with increasing hardships. They came to a place called Sheep Camp, where a stream of water and rocks from the mountain top had swept down upon a[272] town of tents and carried them all away. Stories of similar happenings at other places were passed from mouth to mouth along the trail. More men turned back, finding such accidents a good excuse, and only the most determined stuck to the road.

In time they came to a chain of lakes and rivers. The travelers stopped to build rude boats and paddles, and navigated them as best they could. The rivers were full of rapids, and it was only by a miracle that the little clumsily-built skiffs went dancing over the waters safely, and escaped the jutting rocks on either bank. In the rivers there was good trout fishing, and in the wild country good hunting, and Indian boys brought game to the tents at night. To the trees at each stopping-place papers were fastened, telling of the marvelous adventures of the miners who had just gone over the trail. As they neared Dawson City they found the Yukon River more and more covered with floating ice, and travel by boat became harder. After a time the oars, paddles, gunwales, and all the baggage in the boats was encrusted with ice, and the boatmen had to make their way slowly among the floes. Then they came to a turn in the river, and on the bank saw a great number of tents and people. "How far is it to Dawson?" the boatman would call. "This is Dawson. If you don't look out you'll be carried past," the men on shore answered. Paddles were thrust into the ice, and the boat brought to shore. The trip from Seattle had so far taken ninety-two days.

[273] Food was scarce in Dawson, and men were urged to leave as soon as they could. Winter was now setting in, and the miners traveled with dog teams and sleds to the place where they meant to camp. Little work could be done in the winter, and the time was spent in preparing to work the gold fields in the early spring. All through the cold weather the men talked of the fortunes waiting for them, and when the warm weather came they staked out their claims and set to work. Stories of fabulous finds spread like wild-fire, and those who were not finding gold rushed to the places that were proving rich. That summer many new towns sprang up, and in a few weeks the Bonanza and Eldorado mines made their owners rich, and all the tributaries of the Klondike River were yielding a golden harvest.

When men found land that they thought would prove rich they made haste to claim it. Sometimes wild races followed, rivals trying to beat each other to the government offices at Dawson in order to claim the land. Frequently after such a wild race the claim would amount to nothing, while another man, who had picked out some place that no one wanted, would find a rich lode and make a fortune from it. Then there would be great excitement, for sudden wealth usually went to the miner's head. He would go down to Dawson, and spend his money freely, while every one in the town would crowd around him to share in his good luck. One of the most successful was a Scotchman, Alexander McDonald.[274] At the time of the Klondike strike he was employed by a company at the town of Forty-Mile. He had a little money and began to buy separate pieces of land. He could not afford the rich ground, but managed to purchase more than forty claims through the Klondike. At the end of that first season his fortune was said to be $5,000,000, and might well have been more, as all his claims had not been fully worked. He was called "the King of the Klondike," and pointed out to newcomers as an example of what men might do in the gold fields.

That was only the beginning of the story of the Alaskan gold fields, and each year brought news of other discoveries. But the one season of 1897 was enough to prove the great value of Alaska, and to show that the United States had done well to buy that great territory from the Czar of Russia. Yet gold is only a small part of its riches, and even should the fields of the Klondike yield no more of the precious mineral, the seals, the fur trade, and the cities springing up along its coast are worth much more than the $7,000,000 paid for it. It is still a land of adventure, one of the few waste places that beckon men to come and find what wealth lies hidden within its borders.


[275]

XIV

HOW THE "MERRIMAC" WAS SUNK IN SANTIAGO HARBOR

In the small hours of the morning of June 3, 1898, the Merrimac, a vessel that had once been a collier in the United States Navy, slipped away from the war-ships of the American fleet that lay off the coast of Cuba, and headed toward the harbor of Santiago. The moon was almost full, and there was scarcely a cloud in the sky. To the northwest lay the Brooklyn, her great mass almost white in the reflected light. On the northeast the Texas loomed dark and warlike, and farther away lay a ring of other ships, dim and ghostly in the distance. Ahead was the coast of Cuba, with an outline of mountains rising in a half-circle beyond the harbor. Five miles across the water Morro Castle guarded the entrance to the harbor, in which lay a fleet of the Spanish Admiral Cervera.

To steer directly for Morro Castle would be to keep the Merrimac full in the moon's path, and to avoid this she stood to the eastward of the course, and stole along at a slow rate of speed. The small crew on board, a commander and seven men, were stripped to their underclothes and wore life-preservers[276] and revolver-belts. Each man had taken his life in his hand when he volunteered for this night's work. They wanted to sink the Merrimac at a narrow point in the harbor, and bottle up the Spanish fleet beyond it.

As they neared the great looming fortress of the Morro it was impossible to keep the ship hidden; the sentries on the castle must see the dark object now, and wonder what she intended. The Merrimac gave up its oblique course, and steered straight ahead. The order "Full speed!" went from Lieutenant Hobson, a naval constructor in command, to the engineer. Foam dashed over the bows, and the long shape shot for the harbor entrance, regardless of what the enemy might think or do. Soon the Morro stood up high above them, the moon clearly revealing the great central battery that crowned the fortress top.

The Spanish guns were only five hundred yards away, and yet the enemy had given no sign of having seen the Merrimac. Then suddenly a light flashed from near the water's edge on the left side of the entrance, and a roar followed. The Merrimac did not quiver. The shot must have fallen astern. Again there was a flash, and this time the crew could hear the splash of water as the projectile struck back of them. Through their night-glasses they saw a picket boat with rapid-fire guns lying close in the shadows of the shore. Her guns had probably been aimed at the Merrimac's rudder; but[277] so far they had missed their aim. With a rapid-fire gun to reply the Merrimac might have demolished the other boat in half a minute, but she had no such equipment. She would have to pass within a ship's length of this picket. There was nothing to do but pay no heed to her aim at the Merrimac's rudder, and steer for the high wall off Morro Castle, where the deep-water channel ran close inshore. "A touch of port helm!" was the order. "A touch of port helm, sir," came the answer; and the vessel stood toward the wall.

There came a crash from the port side. "The western battery has opened on us, sir!" reported the man on the bridge to Hobson. "Very well; pay no attention to it," was the answer. The commander knew he must take the Merrimac at least another ship's length forward, and wondered if the enemy would give him that much grace. A shot crossed the bridge, and struck. No one was hurt. They had almost reached the point where they were to stop. Another moment or two, and over the engine telegraph went the order, "Stop!" The engineer obeyed. The Merrimac slowed off Morro rock.

A high rocket shot across the channel entrance. From each side came the firing of batteries. Hobson and his men were too busy to heed them. The Merrimac, still swinging under her own headway, brought her bow within thirty feet of the rock before she righted. Another ship's length, and she would[278] be at the point where her commander had planned to take her; then the stearing-gear stopped working, and she was left at the mercy of the current.

The ship must be sunk before the current could carry her out of the course. This was done by exploding torpedoes on the outside of the vessel. Hobson gave the order, and the first torpedo went off, blowing out the collision bulkhead. There was no reply from the second or third torpedoes. Hobson crossed the bridge, and shouted, "Fire all torpedoes!" In the roar of the Spanish batteries his voice could hardly be heard.

Meantime the guns on the shores back of the harbor were pouring their shot at the black target in the moonlight, and the din was terrific. Word came to Hobson that some of the torpedoes could not be fired, as their cells had been broken. The order was given to fire the others, and the fifth exploded promptly, but the remaining ones had been shattered by Spanish fire and were useless. The commander knew that under these circumstances it would take some time for the Merrimac to sink.

The important point was to keep the ship in the center of the harbor; but the stern-anchor had already been cut away. Hobson watched the bow move against the shore-line. There was nothing to do but wait and see where the tide would swing them.

The crew now gathered on deck. One of them, Kelly, had been dazed by an exploding shell. When[279] he had picked himself up he started down the engine-room hatch, but found the water rising. Then he remembered the Merrimac's purpose, and tried to reach the torpedo of which he had charge. The torpedo was useless, and he headed back to the deck, climbing up on all fours. It was a strange sight to see him stealing up, and Hobson and some of the others drew their revolvers, thinking for the moment that he must be an enemy who had boarded the ship. Fortunately they recognized him almost immediately.

The tide was bearing them to the center of the channel when there came a blasting noise and shock. A mine had exploded beneath them. "Lads, they're helping us!" cried the commander. But the mine did not break the deck, and the ship only settled a little lower. For a moment it seemed as if the coal might have closed the breach made by the explosion, but just as the crew feared that they were to be carried past the point chosen for sinking the current from the opposite shore caught them, and the Merrimac settled crosswise. It was now only a matter of time before she would sink in the harbor.

The crew could now turn their attention to themselves. Hobson said to them, "We will remain here, lads, till the moon sets. When it is dark we will go down the after-hatch, to the coal, where her stern will be left out of water. We will remain inside all day, and to-night at ebb-tide try to make our way to the squadron. If the enemy comes on board,[280] we will remain quiet until he finds us, and will repel him. If he then turns artillery on the place where we are, we will swim out to points farther forward." He started toward the bow to reconnoiter, but was persuaded not to expose himself to the enemy's fire. One of the men discovered a break in the bulwarks that gave a good view, and Hobson stood there. The moon was bright, though now low, and the muzzles of the Spanish guns were very near them. The crew, however, remained safely hidden behind the rail. From all sides came the firing, and the Americans, lying full length on the Merrimac's deck, felt the continual shock of projectiles striking around them. Some of the crew suggested that they should take to the small boat, but the commander knew that this would be certain destruction, and ordered them to remain. Presently a shot struck the boiler, and a rush of steam came up the deck near where they lay. A canteen was passed from hand to hand. Hobson, having no pockets, carried some tourniquets around his left arm, and a roll of antiseptic lint in his left hand, ready in case any of his crew were wounded.

Looking through the hole in the bulwarks the commander saw that the Merrimac was again moving. Sunk deep though she was, the tide was carrying her on, and might bear her some distance. There seemed to be no way in which they could make her sink where she was. Two more mines exploded, but missed the ship, and as she floated on it became evident that they could not block the channel[281] completely. But shortly the Merrimac gave a lurch forward and settled to the port side. Now the Spanish Reina Mercedes was near at hand, and the Pluton was coming close inboard, but their guns and torpedoes did not hasten the sinking of the collier. She plunged again and settled in the channel.

A rush of water came up the gangway, and the crew were thrown against the bulwarks, and then into the sea. The life-preservers helped to keep them afloat, but when they looked for the life-boat they found that it had been carried away. A catamaran was the largest piece of floating wreckage, and they swam to this. The firing had now stopped. The wreckage began to drift away, and the crew were left swimming about the catamaran, apparently unseen by the enemy. The men were ordered to cling to this rude craft, their bodies in the water, their heads hidden by the boards, and to keep quiet, as Spanish boats were passing close to them. All the crew were safe, and Hobson expected that in time some Spanish officers would come out to reconnoiter the channel. He knew that his men could not swim against the tide to the harbor entrance, and even had they been able to do so it would have been too dangerous a risk, as the banks were now lined with soldiers, and the water patrolled by small boats. Their hope lay in surrendering before they were fired upon.

The moon had now nearly set, and the shadow of the high banks fell across the water. Boats rowed by Spanish sailors pulled close to the catamaran;[282] but acting under orders from their commander the crew of the Merrimac kept well out of sight. The sun rose, and a new day came. Soon the crew could see the line of distant mountains, and the steep slopes leading to Morro Castle. A Spanish torpedo-destroyer was heading up the harbor, and a bugle at one of the batteries could be heard across the waters. Still the Americans clung to the catamaran, although their teeth were chattering, and they had to work their arms and legs to keep warm.


Spanish Boats Pulled Close to Them

Presently one of the men said, "A steam-launch is heading for us, sir!" The commander looked about, and saw a large launch, the curtains aft drawn down, coming from around a point of land straight toward the catamaran. As it drew near the launch swerved to the left. When it was about thirty yards away Hobson hailed it. The boat instantly stopped and began to back, while some riflemen appeared on the deck and took position for firing. No shot followed, however. Hobson called out again, asking whether there were any officers on the boat, and adding that if there were he was ready to surrender himself and his American sailors as prisoners of war. The curtain at the stern was lowered, a Spanish officer gave an order, and the rifles dropped. The American commander swam to the launch, and climbed on board, being helped up by the Spanish officer, who turned out later to be no other than Admiral Cervera himself. Hobson surrendered for himself and his crew. The launch then drew close[283] to the catamaran, and the sailors clinging to it were pulled on board. Although the Spaniards knew that the Merrimac's men had bottled up their war-ships in the harbor, they could not help praising their bravery.

The Spanish launch took them to the Reina Mercedes. There the men were given dry clothes and food. Although all were scratched and bruised only one was wounded, and his wound, though painful, was not serious. The American officer was invited to join the Spaniards at breakfast, and was treated with as much courtesy as if he had been an honored guest. Afterward Hobson wrote a note to Admiral Sampson, who was in command of the American fleet. The note read: "Sir: I have the honor to report that the Merrimac is sunk in the channel. No loss, only bruises. We are prisoners of war, being well cared for." He asked that this should be sent under a flag of truce. Later in the day the Americans were taken from the war-ship in a launch, and carried across the harbor to Morro Castle. This course brought them within a short distance of where the Merrimac had sunk, and as Hobson noted the position he concluded that the plan had only partly succeeded, and that the channel was not completely blocked.

Landing at a small wharf the Americans were marched up a steep hill that led to the Morro from the rear. The fortress stood out like one of the mediæval castles of Europe, commanding a wide[284] view of sea and shore. The road brought them to the bridge that crossed the moat. They marched under the portcullis, and entered a vaulted passage. The American officer was shown into the guard-room, while the crew were led on. A few minutes later Admiral Cervera came into the guard-room, and held out his hand to Hobson. The admiral said that he would have liked to send the American's note under a flag of truce to his fleet, but that this had been refused by the general in command. He added, however, that some word should be sent to inform their friends of the safe escape of the Merrimac's men. Hobson was then led to a cell in the tower of the castle. As the jailer stopped to unlock the door Hobson had a view of the sea, and made out the line of the American battle-ships moving in two columns. He was told to enter the cell, which was a bare and ill-looking place, but a few minutes later a Spanish captain arrived with apologies, saying that he hoped soon to provide the Americans with better quarters.

A little later furniture was brought to the cell, and food, cigars, cigarettes, and a bottle of brandy provided for the American officer. In fact he and his men fared as well as the Spanish officers and soldiers themselves. The governor of the fortress sent a note to ask what he could do to improve Hobson's comfort. Officers of all ranks called to shake hands with him, and express their admiration for his courage. That first night in the castle, after[285] the sentries had made their rounds, Hobson climbed up on his cot-bed and looked through a small window at the top of the cell. The full moon showed a steep slope from the fortress to the water, then the wide sweep of the harbor, with a picket-boat on duty as it had been the night before, and beyond the boat the great Spanish war-ships, and still farther off the batteries of Socapa. It was hard to believe that only twenty-four hours before the center of that quiet moonlit water had been ablaze with fire aimed at the small collier Hobson had commanded. As he studied the situation he decided that the Merrimac probably blocked the channel. The enemy would hesitate a long time before they would try to take their fleet past the sunken vessel, and that delay would give Admiral Sampson time to gather his ships. Even if the channel were not entirely blocked the Spanish ships could only leave the harbor in single line and with the most skilful steering. Therefore he concluded that his perilous expedition had been successful.

Next morning a Spanish officer brought him news that a flag of truce had been carried to Admiral Sampson with word of the crew's escape, and that the messengers had been given a box for Hobson, and bags of clothes, some money, and other articles for him and his crew. The men now dressed again in the uniform of American marines, were treated as prisoners of war, and lived almost as comfortably as their captors.

[286] While Hobson was having his coffee on the morning of June 6th, he heard the whiz and crash of an exploding shell, then another, and another, and knew that a general bombardment of the fortress had begun. He hastily examined the cell to see what protection it would offer from bricks and mortar falling from the walls and roof. At the first shot the sentry on guard had bolted the door and left. The American pulled the table and wash-stand in front of the door, and stood the galvanized iron box that had been sent him against the end of the table; this he thought would catch splinters and stones which would probably be more dangerous than actual shells. He lay down under the protection of this cover. He knew that the gunners of the American fleet were good shots, and figured that they could easily demolish all that part of the Morro in which his cell was situated. One shell after another against the walls of the fortress made the whole structure tremble, and it seemed as if part of the walls would be blown away. Fortunately, however, the firing soon turned in another direction, and Hobson could come from his shelter, and, standing on his cot-bed, look through the window at the battle. Several times he took shelter again under the table, and several times returned to watch the cannonade. The shells screamed through the air; plowed through shrubs and earthworks; knocked bricks and mortar from the Morro, and set fire to some of the Spanish ships. But no serious[287] damage was done, and the bombardment ended in a stand-off between the two sides.

The American officer had no desire to pass through such a cannonade again, and he wrote to the Spanish governor to ask that his crew and himself be transferred to safer quarters. Next day an officer arrived with orders to take all the prisoners to the city of Santiago. So after a four days' stay in Morro Castle the little party set out on an inland march, guarded by some thirty Spanish soldiers. It was not far to Santiago, and there the Americans were housed in the regular army barracks. These quarters were much better than those in the fortress, and the British Consul secured many comforts and delicacies for the Americans.

The men of the Merrimac stayed in Santiago during the siege of that city. On July 5th arrangements were made to exchange Hobson and his men. In the afternoon they were blindfolded and guided out of the city. Half a mile or more beyond the entrenchments they were told that they might remove the handkerchiefs, and found themselves facing their own troops on a distant ridge. Soon they were being welcomed by their own men, who told them of the recent victories won by fleet and army. Not long afterward they reached their ships, and were received on board the New York by the officers and men who had watched them set out on their dangerous mission on that moonlight night of June 3d. They gave a royal[288] welcome to the small crew who had brought the collier into the very heart of the Spanish lines and sunk her, taking their chances of escape. They were the heroes of a desperate adventure, from which every man returned unharmed.


Transcriber's Notes:

Simple typographical errors were corrected.

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Accent marks on Japanese words have not been changed.


1 of 2
2 of 2