A Celebration of Women Writers

"Part VII, Chapter 65." by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall (1876-)
From: This country of ours; the story of the United States by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall (1876-) New York, George H. Doran company, 1917.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


CHAPTER 65
ADAMS–HOW HE KEPT PEACE WITH FRANCE

THE crowd which gathered to see John Adams take the oath was almost as great as that which had gathered when Washington had first been made President.

 

But it was upon the old and not upon the new President that all eyes were turned. And when the ceremony was over the people seemed still loath to part from their beloved President, and a great crowd followed him in silence to his home. At the door, before entering, he turned, and with tears running down his cheeks he signed a last farewell to his people. So for a long silent moment he stood upon the doorstep, then he entered the house, and as the door closed upon him a great sob broke from the crowd.

 

Thus the people took a last farewell of their great and beloved leader.

 

Almost as soon as John Adams became President in 1797 he found himself plunged into trouble with France. For the Jay Treaty had made the French people very angry. They refused to receive Charles C. Pinckney, who was sent as ambassador, and he had to flee to Holland for refuge. The Americans were very angry at this treatment of their minister and talked of war. But Adams was anxious to keep peace. So he sent two more ambassadors to France and with them Pinckney returned also.

Trouble with France, 1797

But the French received the three ambassadors with little more courtesy than they had received the one.

 

They now began to demand all sorts of things from the United States; they demanded, among other things, that the Americans should pay them a large sum of money as a bribe. They demanded a large loan also. If they refused, why, then let the Americans beware. With these demands and threats the ambassadors were obliged to leave France. But they were not going to be bullied. So to the French threats they replied by building ships, raising an army, and buying cannon. Everywhere, too, patriotic songs were written and sung, one of them being, "Hail Columbia," by Joseph Hopkinson.

 

Once more George Washington was asked to become commander-in-chief in 1798, and with a heavy heart he consented. He did not want to leave his quiet home for the horrors and clamour of the battlefield. Still less did he want to fight against his old friends. But at his country's call he rose.

Washington again commander-in-chief, 1798

The French, however, were not really anxious to fight the United States. They merely wanted to get money from them, and when they saw the spirit of the nation, they changed their tune and did everything they could to keep peace between the two countries. But the Americans were now so angry with the French that they were determined to fight them. "War with France!" was everywhere the cry.

 

John Adams, however, like Washington, was determined if possible to keep peace. So without asking any one's advice he sent another friendly mission to France, and the quarrel was quietly settled. Thus peace was kept, but the people were angry with Adams. They declared that he had all sorts of mean reasons for his action. He was sure he had done right. "When I am dead," he said, "write on my tomb, 'Here lies John Adams, who took upon himself the responsibility of peace with France.'" He felt that he could have no better epitaph.

Adams makes peace with France

While Adams was President another state was added to the Union. This was Tennessee, which was an offshoot from North Carolina.

Tennessee enters the Union, 1796

For several years Tennessee passed through troublous times. For a few years, indeed, the state was set up as a separate republic, under the name of Franklin. This name was given to it in honour of Benjamin Franklin, the great statesman. But some of the people wanted it called Frankland or Freeland so it was known by both names.

 

The inhabitants of Franklin now chose a Governor, instituted a Senate and a House of Commons, and made laws for themselves. But very soon this government collapsed, and after a few more troublous years the state entered the Union under the name of Tennessee.

 

All this time men had been busy building the new capital and toward the end of 1800 the government was removed there. Washington, the great Father of his Country, had just died and it was determined to call the new city by his name.

Government removes to Washington, 1800

But when the government arrived at Washington they found the city little more than a wilderness. Only a part of the Capitol was built, and around it there was nothing but desolation. There were neither streets, nor shops, neither business nor society.

 

The President's house was set down in the midst of an uncultivated field, and beyond that and the unfinished Capitol there were but a few scattered houses and one hotel. Many people were disgusted with the new capital, and it was given all sorts of names, such as the "Capital of Miserable Huts," "The Wilderness City," or the "Mud-hole." Every now and again one or other of the members of Congress would suggest that the capital should be removed elsewhere, but there were always some determined to stay. And at length by slow degrees the city grew into one of the beautiful capitals of the world.

 

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

This book has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK Initiative at the
Celebration of Women Writers.
Initial text entry and proof-reading of this book were the work of volunteers at
Ambleside Online.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom