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

Troubles after the War

On arriving in America, Dr. Franklin received a warm welcome from all his fellow-citizens, who were very proud of what he had done for them abroad. But although he had come home intending to rest, he soon found plenty of work awaiting him.

The Revolutionary War had cost the Americans a great deal; now that it was ended, one of their first duties was to find some way of repaying all the money they had borrowed.

Ever since the royal governors had fled or had been driven away in 1775 or 1776, the thirteen different states had ruled themselves. Although near neighbors, they were not always on the best of terms, but often seemed rather inclined to quarrel with one another.

When the colonies were first planted in America, some of them were granted strips of land running "from sea to sea." Of course, this was before any one knew just how broad our continent is; and although none of the colonies claimed from sea to sea in the eighteenth century, many of them still said they owned land as far as the Mississippi River.

As the charters had often been carelessly made, it happened that the same lands were granted to two or three colonies, which fact gave rise to many quarrels. But after several years of talking about the matter, New York, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Connecticut finally consented to do as Congress wished, and give up their claims to the land northwest of the Ohio River.

This region was then called the Northwest Territory. It was given up, on condition that Congress should sell part of it to pay the interest on the national debt, and divide the rest among the soldiers instead of giving them money. Besides, it was afterwards arranged that this territory should finally be cut up into three or five new states, each of which could join the Union as soon as it had sixty thousand inhabitants.

Until that time, the Northwest Territory was to be ruled by one governor and several judges, all chosen by Congress. This body now began to give land to such soldiers as were willing to accept it instead of money, and before long many emigrants were on their way to Ohio, where they founded Marietta, in 1788, and Cincinnati soon after. Many large tracts of land in the South were distributed in the same way; and thus it came to pass that, at the end of the Revolutionary War, the famous general Nathanael Greene received a large plantation from the state of Georgia.

As you can see from the map on page 12, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia once owned western lands too; but one by one these tracts were given up to Congress, to form territories like the Northwest Territory.

In 1781, several years before Congress took possession of the western lands, the states had all signed "Articles of Confederation," a system of federal government proposed in 1776. But as this system did not give Congress power to impose taxes, make trade laws, secure money enough to pay government expenses, or make people obey the laws, it did not work well. For several years, therefore, different experiments were tried, but in spite of all efforts things went on from bad to worse.

Congress had promised at the treaty of Paris that all debts should be paid, and that all the Tories, or friends of the king, in America should be protected. But the British soon complained that they could not collect their money, and it was plain that the Tories were badly treated, for in two years more than a hundred thousand left our country to settle in Canada, Florida, or Bermuda.

The British, who had left New York two months after the treaty was signed, kept possession of Oswego, Detroit, and Mackinaw in the Northwest until the promises made should be kept. Their presence there made the people restless and unhappy, for they secretly urged the Indians to rise up against the Americans. Besides, there were money troubles everywhere, for the states were so deeply in debt that they were obliged to lay heavy taxes on the people. These taxes were such a burden that in some places the people actually rebelled and made riots.

Shays' Rebellion


The most serious of all these outbreaks was in Massachusetts, where Shays, an old Revolutionary soldier, led a force of about two thousand men against Worcester and Springfield. Although this revolt—known in history as Shays' Rebellion—was put down in 1787, it helped to show the necessity for better laws. These had to be made soon, if the thirteen states were to remain united, and not form thirteen small republics, which would be sure to quarrel.

In 1786, five of the states suggested that a meeting or convention of all the confederacy be held, to change the Articles of Confederation in such a way as to suit everybody and secure a better government. Congress agreed to this plan, and each state was asked to send delegates to the Constitutional Convention.