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We leave him there for the present, and will take a rapid survey, first of the shadowy unorganized land or lands subsequently to become the United States of America, and then glance at Europe, where the influence of this young Washington and his associates will yet be al most as great as in their own land. North America at that time did exist. It had been lifted from the ocean, but for want of the woodman's axe and the shovel, directed by the engineer, a much larger part of it, than now, was an unbroken wilderness. It was an almost impenetrable forest. Wild beasts roamed over the most of it, occasionally chased by a few straggling Indians, who divided their time between hunting the beasts and hunting each other. The French held what there was then of Canada and Michigan, and also Louisiana at the mouth of the Mississippi, and claimed the whole of that river, and all west of it, although no one knew how much or what was the nature of the territory claimed. Florida was held by the Spaniards. South America had a larger population of European origin than North America. Mexico was stronger than New York.
The English flag floated over thirteen surviving North-American colonies, several having already per ished, and all of the thirteen having been more than once on the verge of extinction. All New Eng.
land, embracing the four colonies, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut had about 375,000 inhabitants; New York had only 100,000, a majority of whom were Dutch; Pennsylvania 250,000; all the rest about 300,000; all together had about one million,-less than the population of New York city in 1876; less than one twentieth of the population of the United States in the year 1850; less than one fortieth of the population of the United States in the centennial year of their history, 1876. America was then contemptible in the eyes of the world. Glowing pictures of its future greatness were sometimes imagined, but in present resources it was too feeble to tempt the robber or even the tax-gatherer. The collection of any revenue from America would have cost more than the income. Had it been a nation it would have held about the same rank among the nations as Greenland, Iceland or the Sandwich Islands to-day. The one million of people in the thirteen colonies were gathered into a few villages, or scattered in rural settlements along the ocean
Condition of the pioneer Americans.
shore, widely separated. The colonies were not even connected by passable roads. Glance at them! There are no regular postal or mail arrangements. It were a voyage longer and more perilous to go from Massachusetts to Georgia, than now to
circumnavigate the globe! Wild beasts roam over most of the great region afterwards to be known as the State of New York. There are only three colleges in America, and these not equal to a modern village high school. There is not a school in all the thirteen colonies where a girl can receive a good English education. There is not a machine factory in America superior to a country blacksmith's shop. Foreign commerce is almost unknown. Coasting commerce is trivial. There are no woollen mills. The cotton plant is not yet cultivated in America, and cotton cloth is almost as expensive as silk-and both are practically unknown. The little paper used is brought from England. There are only six newspapers published in all North America. The whole number of subscribers for the six is probably not more than twelve thousand. The men are mostly clad in linsey-woolsey, spun and woven by their wives and mothers, dyed with different colors extracted from the leaves and roots of certain vegetables found in the forest, and the women are largely clad in the same material; and every family has a dye pot, as common as a water pail. Many families partake of their daily mush or Indian pudding out of one common dish in the centre of the table. What few dishes they have are wooden or pewter. The ploughs are wooden. Shovels and hoes, heavy and
scanty, are all the other agricultural implements. The men have flint-lock muskets to hunt with, which act so slowly that a wild duck has time to dive and dodge the shot after hearing the click of the lock. Wheeled vehicles are scarce, and the wheels are solid, sawn from the end of logs. Log houses are the common habitations. The Indians are about as numerous as the whites.
But if we look at this people more carefully, we shall find some gleams of light that startle
us with their flashing promise of brilliancy, if only this diamond can be freed without breaking from the rough coating about it. "Of what use," inquired a blockhead, sometimes called a practical man, of Franklin, "is your new discovery?" "Of what use," said Franklin in reply, "is a new born baby?" The American colonies were then a babe. Born in the wilderness, to be strengthened by toil, if by a favoring Providence it survives the dangers of infancy. These Americans were then an anomaly in the world. In all history there had never been a phenomenon like this. The world was never prepared before for such a growth.
Rome was founded in like manner, but Romulus and Remus, fabled to have been suckled by a wolf, and their companions, were pagan fugitives from justice, and not Christians, desiring liberty to worship
A peculiar people.
and obey God according to their own sense of right. Greece had been settled by adventurers, but both Greek and Roman pioneers hastened to declare themselves masters and to reduce to slavery the large mass of the population around them. These early Americans were free simply because they were neglected. The mother country seldom interfered with them, usually for injury, never for protection or benefit. Some of the colonies chose their own governors and all their magistrates; others were partially governed or embarrassed by foreign officers. They regulated their own churches. They made their own internal improvements. They established their own schools. They imposed taxes upon themselves. They were the outgrowth of the most advanced parties in Europe. They had inherited the thought and culture of ages. They were sifted out of England and other nations to try an experiment on a virgin soil. They had left the privileged classes, the aristocracy, behind. They were a band of workingmen, with well educated, Christian leaders.
By consequence they were disciplined. They were educated. They were democratic republicans. They never had a real war with each other. Some little disputes arose, but the magistrates and ministers usually settled them without bloodshed. They were compelled to fight often with the wily savages around