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Page:Collier's New Encyclopedia v. 10.djvu/123

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inauguration. He was succeeded by John Tyler, during whose administration the N. E. boundary question, which nearly occasioned a war with England, was settled by Daniel Webster, Secretary of State, and Lord Ashburton, In 1845 Texas was formally annexed to the United States, and James K. Polk, of Tennessee, succeeded Mr. Tyler in the presidency. M. Almonte, the Mexican minister at Washington, protested against the annexation of Texas as an act of warlike aggression, which brought about the Mexican War in 1846.

In 1847 the Mexicans were defeated by General Taylor at Buena Vista; Vera Cruz was taken by storm, and General Scott won the great battle of Cerro Gordo. In 1848 peace was signed, and by the treaty of Guadaloupe the United States obtained the cession of New Mexico and Upper California, the United States paying Mexico $15,000,000, and assuming the payment of the claims of American citizens against Mexico. In 1849 General Taylor, the “Rough and Ready” victor of Buena Vista, became President, with Millard Fillmore as Vice-President. In September of the same year California adopted a constitution which prohibited slavery. The election of Franklin Pierce in 1852 against General Scott was a triumph of the Democratic States' Rights and Southern party. A brutal assault on Charles Sumner, United States Senator from Massachusetts, by Preston Brooks, in consequence of a violent speech on Southern men and institutions, increased the excitement of both sections. In 1856 the Republicans, composed of the Northern Free-soil and Abolition parties, nominated John C. Fremont for the presidency, but James Buchanan, the Democratic candidate, received the election, with John C. Breckenridge as Vice-President. In Oct., 1859, John Brown, known in Kansas as “Ossawatomie Brown,” who planned and led an expedition for freeing the negroes in Virginia, was captured, and executed Dec. 2, by the authorities of Virginia.

In 1860 the Southern delegates withdrew from the convention at Charleston, and two Democratic candidates were nominated, Stephen A. Douglas and John C. Breckinridge. The Republicans nominated Abraham Lincoln, and at the election of November, 1860, Mr. Lincoln received every Northern vote in the electoral college, except three of New Jersey, 180 votes. The South lost no time in acting on what her statesmen had declared would be the signal of their withdrawal from the Union. Four years of civil war ended in their being compelled to remain in it. In 1864 Mr. Lincoln was re-elected, and on March 4, 1865, commenced his second term, with Andrew Johnson as Vice-President. On April 14, 1865, while the North was rejoicing over the capture of Richmond and the surrender of the Confederate armies, the President was assassinated at a theater in Washington by John Wilkes Booth. The assassin was pursued and killed, and several of his accomplices were tried and executed. Andrew Johnson became President. Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, fled after the surrender of Richmond; he was captured in Georgia, and released without trial in 1867.

An amendment to the Constitution, forever abolishing slavery in the States and Territories of the Union, was declared ratified by two-thirds of the States, Dec. 18, 1865. The vast change in the organization of the republic made by this new fundamental law was completed by the 14th and 15th Amendments, passed in 1868 and 1870, which gave to the former slaves all the rights and privileges of citizenship. The seceded States were readmitted to the Union on condition of their adhesion to the Constitution as thus amended. Owing to the reconstruction policy after the Civil War differences arose between President Johnson and the Republican leaders in both houses of Congress. This antagonism finally led to the resolution of the House of Representatives, passed Feb. 24, 1868, to impeach the President “of high crimes and misdemeanors.” President Johnson, however, was acquitted, as the prosecution lacked one vote of the two-thirds vote necessary for conviction. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was elected President in 1868, and inaugurated March 4, 1869, with Schuyler Colfax as Vice-President. He was re-elected, in 1872, with Henry Wilson as Vice-President. The Geneva Court of Arbitration gave its decree in the “Alabama” controversy in favor of the United States in 1872, while the San Juan Boundary dispute with Great Britain was settled in favor of the United States by the Emperor of Germany in the same year. The outrages of a secret organization known as the Ku-Klux-Klan, in the Southern States, necessitated the passing of an act in 1871 giving cognizance of such offenses to the United States courts.

The year 1876, memorable in the annals of the republic as the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, was celebrated by a great Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia. The presidential election of the same year was so closely contested that Congress appointed a special tribunal, selected from the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the justices of the Supreme Court, to examine the election returns. The de-