Front Matter The Beginning of the U.S Franklin's Return Troubles After the War The Constitution The First President Washington's Troubles A Wonderful Invention Death of Washington The U.S. Buys Land War With African Pirates Death of Somers The First Steamboat The Gerrymander The War of 1812 "Don't Give Up the Ship" The Star-Spangled Banner Clinton's "Big Ditch" More Land Bought Jackson Stories Jackson's Presidency New Inventions Whitman's Ride The Mormons The First Telegraph The Mexican War The Slavery Quarrel Daniel Webster's Youth Webster's Speeches Early Times in California Discovery of El Dorado Rush to California The Underground Railroad The First World's Fair John Brown's Raid Lincoln's Youth The First Shot The Call to Arms The President's Decision Admiral Farragut The Monitor and Merrimac The Penninsular Campaign Barbara Frietchie Lincoln's Vow The Battle of Gettysburg The Taking of Vicksburg Riots, Raids, and Battles The Burning of Atlanta The March to the Sea Sheridan's Ride The Doings of the Fleet Lee's Surrender Decoration Day Lincoln Stories Lincoln's Rebukes A President's Son A Noble Southerner Hard Times in the South The Atlantic Cable Best Way to Settle Quarrels Our One Hundredth Birthday Gold for Greenbacks A Clever Engineer Death of Garfield The Celebration at Yorktown The Great Statue A Terrible Flood Lynch Law The Great White City The Explosion of the Maine The Battle of Manila Hobson's Brave Deed Surrender of Santiago The Hawaiian Islands The Annexation of Hawaii The Philippine War Assassination of McKinley The Panama Canal Roosevelt's Administration Two Presidents German Views The World War Since the World War

Story of the Great Republic - Helene Guerber

The Beginning of the United States

The birth of our great republic, the United States of America, took place on July 4, 1776; but although this event was joyfully hailed by patriotic Americans, it was some time before any of the foreign nations took public notice of the fact, or sent her their congratulations.

France was the first to stretch out a friendly hand to the United States, thus setting a good example which many other countries were glad to follow. These tokens of good will were gratefully received, for our poor country had a very hard time of it in the beginning, and spent the first few years of her life in constant warfare.

The mother country—also known as Britannia, or Great Britain—wanted to keep the American colonies under her harsh rule, and when they revolted, she took up arms to force them back into a state of blind obedience. It was these thirteen revolted colonies which, banded together, decided to form the new and independent nation which in poetry is often called Columbia.

Now, Miss Columbia had inherited from her mother a great love of liberty. She therefore insisted upon managing her own affairs; and when Britannia tried to prevent her from doing so, she fearlessly waged the Revolutionary War.

After about eight years of warfare, seeing that nothing else could be done with this high-spirited chip of the old block, Britannia finally consented to let her have her own way. This permission, very grudgingly granted, formed the second treaty of Paris, which was agreed to in 1783.

One of the commissioners who signed this treaty was Benjamin Franklin. He is one of our greatest men, and his name can also be seen on the Declaration of Independence, and on our first treaty of friendship with France.

Franklin had been working for years to secure this treaty from Great Britain, and as soon as it was concluded he begged permission to return to Philadelphia. Our Continental Congress—the body of men which had governed the United States ever since the Declaration of Independence—granted this request; but, knowing they must have another minister to represent our country in France, they sent out Thomas Jefferson.

He, too, was a patriot, and the writer, as well as one of the signers, of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson knew how dearly the French loved Dr. Franklin, and how much good this wise man had done by winning strong friends abroad for his struggling country. Therefore, when some one asked him if he had been sent to take Franklin's place, he quickly and modestly answered: "I succeed, but no one can replace him."



At the same time Congress also chose another patriot, the famous John Adams, to be our minister in England. On arriving there, he was well received by King George III., who said: "Sir, I will be very free with you. I was the last man in the kingdom to consent to the independence of America; but now it is granted, I shall be the last man in the kingdom to sanction the violation of it."

This was a fine thing for the king to say, and it showed the right spirit. Unfortunately, however, George III. had been cruel and unkind to the Americans for many years, and he soon proved rude to the very man to whom he had made this speech. At first our people naturally resented it, but they soon found out that the poor monarch was much more to be pitied than blamed.

This king, it seems, had had slight attacks of madness several times before, and he now became quite insane. The last ten years of his life were very sad, for he lost his sight as well as his reason, and used to grope his way around his palace with big tears coursing down his wrinkled cheeks.

Many persons now think that if this unhappy king had not partly lost his mind, and been ill advised by bad ministers, he would have acted differently toward the thirteen colonies. This is very likely, for George III. was at heart a good and well-meaning man, although rather stupid and very headstrong.