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

Lynch Law

In 1889 was held the "Pan-American Congress," or assembly of delegates from the principal governments of North, South, and Central America. After meeting in Washington, where they settled a great deal of business concerning trade, the strangers visited about forty towns in our Union. They also examined many of the large mines and factories, and went home delighted with their journey and full of admiration for all they had seen.

While Harrison was President, Congress made laws granting more pensions to soldiers, and said that goods coming from abroad would have to pay duty as proposed in the McKinley tariff bill. A new copyright law was also made, whereby foreign artists and writers can be protected by American copyright, provided the conditions of the law are complied with and copies of their works are sent to the Congressional Library (1890).

In 1890 there were more Indian troubles among the Sioux in North Dakota. When told by their chiefs that the Messiah was coming to avenge their wrongs by killing all the white men, these red men grew so excited that an attempt was made to quiet or disarm them. They resisted fiercely, and were not subdued until a small battle had been fought, in which about two hundred Indians were killed.

That same year, a great change took place in Utah. When it belonged to Mexico, our government had gladly seen the Mormons go there, and did not care whether they had several wives or not. But when Utah was handed over to us it became a different matter. The laws of the United States allow a man to have only one wife, so the Mormons were told that they would never be allowed to join the Union until they made laws forbidding polygamy.

For a time they would not consent. But when they found they could not hold office, or sit on a jury, if they had more than one wife, they made up their minds to end polygamy. Some of the best men among them had never approved of it, and the Book of Mormon does not mention it. All Mormons still consider their book as sacred as the Bible, but they no longer follow the example given by Brigham Young, or allow any of their people to have more than one wife. Six years after the Mormons gave up polygamy, Utah was admitted to the Union as the forty-fifth state (1896).

In 1890, the chief of police in New Orleans found that a few Italians in the city belonged to a secret society called Mafia, whose object was to rob and murder. While he was trying to secure the wrongdoers they watched him closely, and, seeing that he suspected them, murdered him one night while he was walking home alone. Eleven Italians were therefore seized and nine of them brought to trial. But the jurymen were afraid or unwilling to condemn the criminals, though there was no doubt they were guilty. This so angered some of the citizens that they decided to take the law into their own hands.

Collecting at the foot of the Clay statue,—they evidently forgot he was the great peacemaker,—a few men began to make speeches which greatly excited the crowd. Before long, the mob marched off to the prison, seized a huge beam, and, rushing forward, battered in the door.

Warned of what was coming, and knowing they were not strong enough to protect the prisoners from the people's fury, the policemen set the Italians free, bidding them save themselves if they could. But it was too late; the mob came pouring in, and in a few minutes either shot or hung all the men. This was very wrong; for while the criminals deserved death, they never should have received it through lynch law. Every one who thus takes the punishment of a crime into his own hands shows that he does not respect our Constitution, which says that every man accused is to have the right to be tried by a jury.

Besides, this act of violence made trouble for the country. The king of Italy, hearing that several of his subjects had been murdered, suddenly asked for damages. Although our government explained just how the matter had happened, the Italian government insisted until the United States gave the men's families $25,000. But if people had quietly waited until the case was again tried, the criminals would have been punished by the law, no fault would have been found with us, and no money need ever have been paid. You see by that how much wiser it always is to respect the laws, and never to allow one's self to be carried away by speeches made by mob leaders.

In the year 1891, some of our sailors, walking through the streets of Valparaiso, were attacked by the people there, although they were doing nothing wrong. But there had been civil war in Chile, and Chileans on both sides had asked for our help. They felt so angry because it had been refused that they attacked our sailors, killing two and wounding eighteen of them.

When our government heard of this it was justly angry. Chile was called upon to apologize and pay damages. At first, the South American republic refused to do so, but finally the affair was quietly settled to our satisfaction.