Existence of the United States
existence of this country commenced July 4th, 1776, when the
delegates from the states, in congress assembled, declared that
"the United States are, and of right ought to be, free and
independent;" but long and arduous was the struggle by which
they made good the declaration. With a population of about
3,000,000, and un-provided with the means of carrying on a war
with one of the most powerful nations in the world, with stout
hearts, indomitable perseverance, and a devoted patriotism, they
persevered in the contest, until complete success crowned their
There was much in the colonial
history of the country, which was well fitted to train up its
inhabitants for freedom. In their early state, the colonies were
much neglected by the mother country, and were left, in a great
measure, to manage their own affairs in their own way; and they
were thus prepared to resist all the encroachments of the mother
country and the royal governors, and finally to assert their
independence. The Indian and French wars had trained them
extensively to military operations; and some of the colonial
commanding officers in the French war, had fought side by side
with British officers, to whom they were afterwards opposed in
mortal combat. The hero who led the American armies to victory
and triumph, had received the best possible military education,
by being called to lead the colonial militia against the French
at Fort du Quesne, (now Pittsburg.) After Braddock's defeat, he
conducted the retreat of the shattered forces, in a masterly
manner; and if his advice had been followed in time, the British
army would not probably have fallen into an ambush, and been
defeated. President Davies, then a distinguished clergyman in
Virginia, afterwards of Princeton College, in a sermon on this
subject, uttered more of a prophecy than he was aware of when he
said, "that he could not but think, that heaven had preserved
that brave youth, Col. Washington, for some signal service to
his country." Washington refused all compensation for his
arduous services in the revolutionary war, excepting his
expenses of which he kept an accurate account.
The following are the principal
battles of the revolution, with the commanders, and loss on each
side. The war commenced with the
Lexington, April 19th, 1775. American loss, 84; British loss,
June 17th, 1775, American, Prescot, loss, 453; British, Howe,
August 12th, 1776, British, Howe, loss, 400; American, Putnam &
October 28th, 1776, American, Washington, 3 or 400; British,
Howe, 3 or 400.
December 25th, 1776, American, Washington, 9; British, Rahl,
Jan. 3d, 1777, American, Washington, 100; British, Mawhood, 400.
August 16th, 1777, American, Stark, 100; British, Baum & Breman,
September 11th, 1777, British, Howe, 500: American Washington,
October 4th, 1777, British, Howe, 600; American, Washington,
October 17th, 1777, American, Gates, 350; British, Burgoyne,
600, 5,752 men surrendered.
June 25th, 1778, American, Washington, 230; British, Clinton,
August 29th, 1778, American, Sullivan, 211; British, Pigott,
March 30th, 1779, British, Prevost, 16; American, Ash, 300.
July 15th, 1779, American, Wayne, 100; British, 600.
August 16th, 1780, British, Cornwallis, 375; American, Gates,
January 17th, 1781, American, Morgan, 72; British, Tarleton,
Court House. March 15th, 1781, American, Greene, 400; British,
Springs, September 8th, 1781, American, Greene, 555, British,
closed by the surrender at Yorktown, by Cornwallis, October
19th, 1783, of 7,073 British soldiers to Washington. The whole
amount of the expenses of the revolutionary war, estimated in
specie, was $135,193,703.
The following table will show what
proportion of the war was borne by the several states, to which
the population in round numbers in 1790, is subjoined.
which was not then admitted to the Union, bore her full share in
the revolutionary war.
Provisional articles of peace were
signed in Paris, Nov. 30th, 1782, by John Adams, Benjamin
Franklin, John Jay, and Henry Laurens, on the part of the United
States; and Mr. Fitzherbert and Mr. Oswald on the part of Great
Britain. The definitive treaty was signed September 30th, 1783.
The Independence of the United States was acknowledged by
Holland, April 19th, 1782; by Sweden, February 5th; by Denmark,
February 25th; by Spain, March 24th; by Russia in July 1783 and
by Prussia in 1785.
On the second Monday of May, 1787,
delegates from the several states assembled at Philadelphia, for
the purpose of forming a constitution; and George Washington was
appointed to preside over them. On the 17th of September, after
a debate of 4 months, a constitution was adopted, signed by all
the members, and sent to the several states for their approval.
It was provided that the ratification of nine states should be
sufficient for its establishment. It was warmly debated by the
state conventions, but finally adopted by them all. (For the
vote in the several states, see the particular articles on the
states.) In several of the states amendments were recommended.
The adoption of the constitution
forms a most important era in the history of the United States,
and its happy operation has perpetuated the blessings secured by
the blood and treasure expended in the revolution. The following
history of its adoption is extracted from Morse's Geography,
published in 1789, and written when the event was transpiring.
It deserves to be perpetuated.
In the small state of Delaware, a
convention was called in November, which, after a few days'
deliberation, ratified the constitution without a dissenting
"In the convention of Pennsylvania,
held the same month, there was a spirited opposition to the new
form of government. The debates were long and interesting. Great
abilities and firmness were displayed on both sides; but, on the
13th of December, the constitution w r as received by two thirds
of the members.
In New Jersey, the convention which
met in December, were unanimous in adopting the constitution; as
was likewise that of Georgia.
"In Connecticut there was some
opposition; but the constitution was, on the 9th of January,
1788, ratified by three fourths of the votes in convention, and
the minority peaceably acquiesced in the decision.
"In Massachusetts, the opposition was
large and respectable. The convention, consisting of more than
three hundred delegates, were assembled in January, and
continued their debates, with great candor and liberality, about
five weeks. At length the question was carried for the
constitution by a small majority, and the minority, with that
manly condescension which becomes great minds, submitted to the
measure, and united to support the government.
"In New Hampshire, the federal cause
was, for some time, doubtful. The greatest number of the
delegates in convention were at first on the side of the
opposition; and some, who might have had their objections
removed by the discussion of the subject, were instructed to
reject the constitution. An adjournment was therefore moved and
carried. This gave the people opportunity to gain a further
knowledge of the merits of the constitution, and at the second
meeting of the convention, it was ratified by a respectable
"In Maryland, several men of
abilities appeared in the opposition, and were unremitted in
their endeavors to persuade the people, that the proposed plan
of government was artfully calculated to deprive them of their
dearest rights; yet in convention it appeared that five sixths
of the voices were in favor of it.
"In South Carolina, the opposition
was respectable; but two thirds of the convention appeared to
advocate and vote for the constitution.
"In Virginia, many of the principal
characters opposed the ratification of the constitution with
great abilities and industry. But after a full discussion of the
subject, a small majority, of a numerous convention, appeared
for its adoption.
"In New York, two thirds of the
delegates in convention were, at their first meeting, determined
to reject the constitution. Here, therefore, the debates were
the most interesting, and the event extremely doubtful. The
argument was managed with uncommon address and abilities on both
sides of the question. But during the session, the ninth and
tenth states had acceded to the proposed plan, so that by the
constitution, Congress w r ere empowered to issue an ordinance
for organizing the new government. This event placed the
opposition on new ground; and the expediency of uniting with the
other states, the generous motives of conciliating all
differences, and the danger of a rejection, influenced a
respectable number, who were originally opposed to the
constitution, to join the federal interest. The constitution was
accordingly ratified by a small majority; but the ratification
was accompanied here, as in Virginia, with a bill of rights,
declaratory of the sense of the convention, as to certain great
principles, and with a catalogue of amendments, which were to be
recommended to the consideration of the new congress, and the
several state legislatures.
"North Carolina met in convention in
July, to deliberate on the new constitution. After a short
session they rejected it, by a majority of one hundred and
seventy-six against seventy-six. This was the first state that
had, in a formal manner, rejected the constitution.
"In Rhode Island was doomed to be the
sport of a blind and singular policy. The legislature, in
consistency with the measures which had been before pursued, did
not call a convention, to collect the sense of the state upon
the proposed constitution; but in an unconstitutional and absurd
manner, submitted the plan of government to the consideration of
the people. Accordingly it was brought before town-meetings, and
in most of them rejected. In some of the large towns,
particularly in Newport and Providence, the people collected and
resolved, with great propriety, that they could not take up the
subject; and that the proposition for embracing or rejecting the
federal constitution, could come before no tribunal but that of
the state in convention or legislature."
(North Carolina finally adopted the
constitution in Nov. 1789; and Rhode Island in May, 1790.)
"From the moment the proceedings of
the general convention at Philadelphia transpired, the public
mind was exceedingly agitated, and suspended between hope and
fear, until nine states had ratified their plan of a federal
government. Indeed, the anxiety continued until Virginia and New
York had acceded to the system. But this did not prevent the
demonstrations of their joy on the accession of each state.
"On the ratification in
Massachusetts, the citizens of Boston, in the elevation of their
joy, formed a procession in honor of the happy event, which was
novel, splendid, and magnificent. This example was afterwards
followed, and in some instances improved upon, in Baltimore,
Charleston, Philadelphia, New Haven, Portsmouth, and New York,
successively. Nothing could equal the beauty and grandeur of
these exhibitions. A ship was mounted upon wheels, and drawn
through the streets; mechanics erected stages, and exhibited
specimens of labor in their several occupations, as they moved
along the road; flags with emblems, descriptive of all the arts
and of the federal union, were invented and displayed in honor
of the government; multitudes of all ranks in life assembled to
view the majestic scenes; while sobriety, joy, and harmony,
marked the brilliant exhibitions, by which the Americans
celebrated the establishment of their Empire."
The constitution was finally ratified
by Congress, July 14th, 1788. On the first Wednesday of January,
1789, electors of President and Vice-President were appointed.
The electors met on the 1st Wednesday of February, 1789, and
George Washington was unanimously chosen President, and John
Adams was chosen Vice-President. Gen. Washington was inaugurated
as first President, on the 33th of April, 1789, in the open
gallery of the old Federal Hall in New York, where the
Customhouse now stands; and at the conclusion, the mass of
citizens in Wall Street, and far down Broad Street, rent the air
with the hearty and universal shout, "Long live George
The following is a list of the
Presidents of the United States.
Washington, of Virginia, from 1789 to
1797, 8 years
John Adams, Massachusetts, from 1797
to 1801, 4 years
Thomas Jefferson, Virginia, from 1801
to 1809, 8 years
James Madison, Virginia, from 1809 to
1817, 8 years
James Monroe, Virginia, from 1817 to
1825, 8 years
John Quincy Adams, Massachusetts,
from 1825 to 1829, 4 years
Andrew Jackson, Tennessee, from 1829
to 1837, 8 years
Martin Van Buren, New York, from 1837
to 1841, 4 years
William H. Harrison, Ohio; died 1
month after his inauguration, 1841.
John Tyler, Virginia, as
Vice-President, succeeded, 1841.
Gen. Washington died suddenly, at his
residence at Mount Vernon, December 14th, 1799, of an
inflammation of the throat, at the age of 68 years; and the
nation everywhere mourned for him, as for a father. Funeral
processions were formed, and funeral orations were delivered in
almost every considerable place in the country; and the respect
of the world has added its sanction to the nation's tears.
In 1803, Louisiana was purchased of
the French, for $15,000,000; and Florida was ceded to the United
States in 1821 by Spain, in compensation for spoliations on
American commerce, for $5,000,000.
On the 4th of June, 1812, war was
declared with Great Britain by the American Congress, by a vote
in 108 House of 79 to 49; and in the Senate by a vote of 19 to
13. This war continued with varied success, until peace was
concluded at Ghent, December 24th, 1814, leaving the parties in
the condition in which the war was commenced, except the
expenditure of money and of life.
The original 13 states that adopted
the constitution were New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode
Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania,
Delaware, Maryland, Virginia. North Carolina, South Carolina,
Georgia. To these, 13 new states have been added; Vermont in
1791, Kentucky in 1792, Tennessee in 1796, Ohio in 1802,
Louisiana in 1812, Indiana in 1816, Mississippi in 1817,
Illinois in 1818, Alabama in 1819, Maine in 1820, Missouri in
1821, Arkansas in 1836 Michigan in 1836.
Table of Contents
Source: A Complete Descriptive And
Statistical Gazetteer Of The United States Of America, By Daniel
Haskel, A. M and J. Calvin Smith, Published By Sherman & Smith,
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