Open main menu

The New Student's Reference Work/United States of America, The

< The New Student's Reference Work

Uni′ted States of Amer′ica, The, a federal republic in North America, composed of states, territories and districts on the continent, of insular dependencies and possessions in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and of the Panama canal-zone in South America. Washington, D. C., is the capital.


The continental United States, excluding Alaska (q. v.), occupies the central area of North America. It lies between the Atlantic on the east, the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico on the south, the Pacific on the west and Canada on the north. It extends approximately from 67° W. to 125° W. in longitude and from. 24° 30′ N. to 49° N. in latitude. Its longest line, east and west, is 3,100 miles; north and south, 1,780. Its continental area, including Alaska, is 3,617,673 square miles. (That of Alaska is 590,884.) But the republic's total territory, when the area of Guam, Guantanamo, Hawaii, the Philippines, Porto Rico (with Culebra and Vieques), the Panama zone, five Samoan islands and many other small American islands in the Pacific is included, comprises over 3,750,700 square miles. (See articles on each.) Part of the northern boundary runs through Lakes Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario and their connecting waters and through St. Lawrence, St. John and St. Croix Rivers, while the Rio Grande forms part of the southern boundary. The Canadian boundary extends 3,700 miles, the Mexican 2,105, and the entire boundary stretches 11,075 miles. The continental United States and Alaska almost equal all Europe in size, and the entire territory of the republic is surpassed in extent only by that of the British Empire, of Russia and of China. When the sun is setting on Porto Rico and Maine, it is rising on the Samoan and the Philippine Islands; and the American flag dominates the Arctic Ocean of Alaska and the tropical South Sea of Tutuila.

Coastal Features

The coasts on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans reach 12,101 miles, the Atlantic coast (including that of the Mexican Gulf) being 9,568 miles in extent and the Pacific coast 2,533. This shows that the Atlantic coast, which is only 2,349 miles long if the windings of the shore are not followed and if the 3,551 miles of Gulf coast are deducted, is less regular than the Pacific coast. Consequently the most numerous and the largest harbors are on the Atlantic and face Europe. There are many large inlets and bays. Penobscot, Massachusetts, Cape Cod, Narragansett, New York, Delaware and Chesapeake Bays and Long Island, Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds are the most important indentations on the Atlantic shore. Along the Gulf are Apalachee, Galveston, Mobile and Tampa Bays. On the Pacific are Monterey, San Diego and San Francisco Bays, Puget Sound, the Strait of Fuca and Santa Barbara and San Pedro Channels. Alaska, too, has numerous bays and sounds. The United States shores of the Great Lakes (q. v.) add 3,000 miles more to the continental coasts of the republic. Their total length, following the windings of all shores, is 22,609 miles. (Those of Alaska and the islands cannot here be given.) There are no large islands off these coasts, Long Island (q. v.) being the most considerable. Next in importance come the islands off Maine and Massachusetts and the Santa Barbara group off California. Alaska has many large islands. Cuba is but 90 miles south of Florida, and southeast of Florida lie the nearby Bahamas. Prominent projections on the Atlantic coast are Capes Cod and Hatteras and the peninsula of Florida; in the Gulf the Mississippi delta and Cape San Blas; and on the Pacific Cape Mendocino. (See titles and Coast-Survey.)

Surface and Drainage

The United States divides naturally into four physical regions, two of which are elevations and the others lowlands. The elevated regions are the Appalachian Mountains in the east and the Rockies in the west, both trending north and south in general. (See Alleghany and Rocky Mountains.) There also are the Ozark Mountains of Missouri and the Black Hills of South Dakota. The lowland regions are the Atlantic slope and the Mississippi valley, the Pacific lowland being too narrow to form a main division.

The Appalachians extend from Canada into Georgia and Alabama, nearly parallel with the Atlantic, 20 to 100 miles inland, and known from north to south as the Height of Land in Maine, the White Mountains in New Hampshire, the Adirondacks and Catskills in New York, the Berkshires in Massachusetts and Connecticut, the Highlands in New Jersey and the Alleghanies in Pennsylvania and the south, where they have parallel ranges, as the Blue Ridge. (See articles under titles above.) This mountainous country, with heights of 6,000 feet, is about 100 miles wide, and forms nature's barrier between the Atlantic slope and the Mississippi valley. It, however, is broken by the Connecticut, Hudson, Mohawk, Delaware, Susquehanna, Potomac and James Rivers. (See these titles). Mitchell's Peak and Mount Washington are its highest points.

The Rockies, about 1,000 miles west of Mississippi River, reach from Mexico into Alaska. Their width averages 300 miles, though at some points it reaches 1,000 miles, and many of their peaks in the United States top 14,000 feet. The Sierra Nevada of California, the Cascade Range of Oregon and Washington and the Coast Range are parallel ridges of the Rocky Mountains. Mt. Whitney of the Sierra Nevada rises 14,887 feet and Mounts Hood and Shasta and Long's and Pike's Peaks are nearly as high. In Alaska Mt. McKinley towers 20,464 feet, the loftiest height on the continent; and St. Elias 18,024. (See the titles).

The Atlantic slope, between the Appalachians and the ocean, generally has low coasts, sloping inward to the hilly regions or Piedmont (q. v.) at the base of the mountains. Many of its rivers are navigable, the larger streams flowing more than 300 miles. Among these are the Penobscot, Kennebec, Hudson, Connecticut, Delaware, Susquehanna, Potomac, James, Cape Fear, Neuse, Roanoke, Santee, Savannah and Altamaha. (See titles). Small lakes also abound in New England and the middle states. The streams emptying into the Gulf include the Chattahoochee, Alabama, Pearl, Mississippi, Sabine, Trinity, Brazos, Colorado of Texas, Nueces and Rio Grande. The junction of the Atlantic slope and the Piedmont is marked by a ridge called the falls' line, because the streams from the Appalachians drop at this uplift and create the water-power of New England, the middle Atlantic states and the eastern states of the south. (See articles on the rivers named.)

The vast interior plain between the Appalachians and the Rockies and Canada and the Mexican Gulf is watered by the mighty Missouri and Mississippi and their 10,000 tributaries and is one of the most fertile regions on the globe. Its hills are covered with forests and its plains and prairies produce the huge crops of grain and cotton that feed and clothe the world. The eastern part of this central region is hilly, and West Virginia and eastern Tennessee and Kentucky are covered with heavy forests. The center is prairie, merging toward the Rockies into enormous plains covered with wild grass, sage-brush and cactus, haying but slight rainfall and depending on irrigation (q. v.) to render it profitable to cultivate. In the north the plain drains into the Great Lakes and forms the lake region; in the south, where it meets with the Atlantic plain in Alabama, it drains to the Gulf and forms the Gulf region, which extends from Georgia and Florida far into Texas. The great rivers of the Mississippi valley are the Missouri and the Mississippi and their chief branches, as the Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Yellowstone, Dakota, Platte, Des Moines, Illinois, Kansas, Arkansas, Red and Yazoo, to say nothing of such tributaries of the Ohio as the Cumberland, Tennessee or Wabash or of the tributaries of the other chief branches. Many of these and their tributaries extend from 1,000 to 2,000 miles. The Mississippi valley is also bordered by the world's largest bodies of fresh water, which the St. Lawrence connects with the Atlantic, while Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan are noted for numerous small lakes.

The Pacific slope comprises the most varied region of the United States, broken by great plains and lofty mountain-valleys 10,000 feet above the sea, descending by great steps to the lower levels. It has huge cañons — river-beds thousands of feet deep; arid plains; heavy forests in the north; and a great basin without drainage to the sea. Here is the famous Great Salt Lake of Utah. Its rivers are the Columbia and its branches; the San Joaquin; the Sacramento and the Colorado of the west, all flowing into the Pacific.

The drainage-systems of the United States number five, and have already received full description in the article on America (North). They comprise the Atlantic, Gulf (including the Missouri-Mississippi system also), Great Basin, Lake and Pacific river-systems. (See articles on each topic). They give the country 100,000 miles of inland navigation — the most extensive in the world. Among the minor lakes, in distinction from the Great Lakes, may be mentioned Champlain, Moosehead, Oneida and its famous sister-lakes in New York, Salt Lake and Tahoe. (See these titles).

Natural Features. No country equals the United States in beauty, grandeur and variety of scenery. Among the many interesting features are Crawford Notch, Delaware Water-Gap, the Hudson Highlands and Palisades, Watkins Glen, Niagara Falls, Luray Cave, the Natural Bridges in Utah and Virginia, Harper's Ferry, Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, the vast prairies, the inland seas, the mighty streams of the interior, St. Anthony and Minnehaha Falls, the Dalles of the Wisconsin, the Pictured Rocks, the passes of the Missouri and of the Columbia through the mountains, the falls of the Yellowstone, Snake and Missouri Rivers, Yellowstone Park, the hot-springs and the geysers, Yosemite Park and Falls, the Big Trees, Royal Gorge, Grand Cañon and the Yellowstone Cañon. (See articles under titles above and Geography, Geology and Geological Survey.)


The climate of a country stretching over 24½ degrees of latitude and ranging from coastal plains to lofty mountains and tablelands varies greatly. In most parts of the land it is extremely changeable, with great variations of temperature between summer and winter. The Atlantic states are colder than European countries in the same latitudes, but the Pacific coast has a climate as mild as Italy's. The Gulf states and Georgia and South Carolina verge toward a subtropical climate. The rainfall is plentiful, except in some parts of the west, and is distributed throughout the year, except on the Pacific coast, where it occurs in spring and in winter. There also is every variety of soil, including prairie lands covered with rich mould, sometimes 25 feet deep, and the sterile, arid plains of the Utah or Great Basin. (See Agriculture, America, Cold Wave, Rain and Soil.)


These consist of the natural products of the soil and the waters, as minerals, forests, native plants and animals and fish and other aquatic animals. Their vast variety and abundance, with the great range of climate, make the United States a world in itself able to raise almost all products of the temperate and the tropical zones. For the flora and fauna see America and articles on such subjects as, e. g., Corn or Deer.

Minerals. These include coal, copper, gold, iron, lead, mercury, nickel, platinum, precious stones, silver, zinc and such building-stones as granite, limestone, marble, sandstone, slate and trap. (See articles under titles above.) Aluminum, asphalt, clay, gypsum, mineral springs, natural gas, petroleum, Portland cement, phosphate-rock and salt also abound. (See articles on each.) In the production of aluminum, coal, copper, iron, lead, natural gas, petroleum, quicksilver, phosphate-rock, silver and steel the United States ranks first; in producing gold it stands second; in zinc third. In 1910 the production of gold was 4,657,018 ounces or $96,269,100; of silver 57,137,900 ounces or $30,854,500; of coal (anthracite and bituminous) 501,596,378 metric tons worth $629,557,021; of iron 27,303,567 tons; of steel 26,049,919 tons, the value of the steel and iron tonnage together being $1,000,000,000; and of lead 372,227 tons worth $32,755,976. In 1910 all mineral products were worth $2,003,744,869; nonmetallic ones $1,242,701,402; metallic ones $760,743,467; and other products $300,000. Much of the vast mineral wealth, especially in the south, remains undeveloped.

Forests. A greater variety of trees is found in the United States than in Europe, though nearly all European trees are found here, and originally forests covered a third of the country. But many sections in the Appalachians and around the Great Lakes have been stripped almost bare. Ash, beech, birch, chestnut, maple, oak, pine and walnut abound in the east; hemlock, spruce and white pine in the north; Douglas fir, redwood, sequoia and yellow cedar on the Pacific slope; and cypress and yellow pine in the south. (See articles under titles above.) The prairies originally were treeless as a whole, except along streams, but forests have been planted to a considerable extent. Nearly 1,100,000 square miles of the United States are woodland, nearly a third being on the Rockies and along the Pacific. Probably the heaviest stand of timber on earth is found in California, Oregon and Washington. See America (Animals and Vegetables); Europe (Natural History); Forest-Reserves; Lumbering; and National Parks.

Fish and Game. The varieties of fish in United States waters number 816, of mollusks 1,000; while the mammals number 310 varieties, the birds 756. The most important fish, commercially, are the blue-fish, cod, halibut, herring, mackerel, menhaden, sardines and shad of the Atlantic; the redfish and tarpon of the Gulf; the salmon of the Pacific; and the bass, perch, pickerel, pike, muskellunge, salmon, trout and whitefish of the inland waters. The chief gamebirds and waterfowl used as food are ducks, grouse, pigeons, quail, turkey and wild geese. The most important game-animals are antelope, bear, deer, mountain-sheep (nearly extinct) and moose. The chief edible mollusks are clams, lobsters, oysters and scallops. The terrapin is another marine delicacy. (See articles under titles above and Fish-Culture, Fishes and Furs.)


The chief classes of industries in the order of importance are manufacturing, agriculture (including stock-raising), mining, forestry (or lumbering) and fishing. In each of these industries the United States leads the world. The value of the products of manufactures in 1909 was $20,672,052,000; of those of agriculture, in 1910, $8,926,000,000 (over one-half being products of farm animals), of those of mining $2,003,744,869 in 1910, of those of lumbering $724,705,760 in 1909, and of those of fishing $67,898,859, while the output of the fish-canneries was worth $27,648,289. Thus the four main groups of industries annually average an output worth over $32,000,000,000.

Manufactures. During the last 40 or 45 years manufactures have expanded more rapidly than has any other class of industries. The east has become an almost exclusively manufacturing section, but the interior and the south have made enormous strides as manufacturers. Abundant natural resources from farm, forest, mine and waters; cheapness and plentifulness of fuel; fine water-power, with steam and electricity; inventive genius in the people; intelligence, industry and thrift; exceptional facilities for transportation; millions of immigrants; unhindered commerce between the states; and unequaled advantages for labor as well as for capital from the laws of the land, the national and state constitutions and the democratic nature of American society—have all combined to make the United States the source of a third of the world's manufactures. The sole disadvantage has been the high price of labor. This has been offset by its efficiency and the low cost of food and clothing. The 1910 census of manufactures, which was confined to factories and excluded local industries and hand trades, grouped them as follows, according to the character of the finished products: Food and kindred products; textiles; iron and steel and their products; leather and its products; chemicals and allied products; clay, glass and stone products; vehicles for land transportation, and miscellaneous industries. Among these food and kindred products led with a value of over $3,035,000,000. Iron, steel and their products, including foundry and machine shop products, steel works, rolling mills and blast furnaces, were worth over $2,605,000,000; textiles, $1,684,636,000; flour and grist mill products, $883,584,000. The establishments numbered 268,491, representing an investment of $18,428,270,000, having a force of employes (salaried and wage-earning) of 7,405,313, and paying them $4,365,613,000. The food industries include the making of butter, cheese and condensed milk, canning and preserving, flour-making and grist-milling, rice-cleaning, slaughtering and meat-packing and sugar-refining. The textiles manufactured are carpets and rugs, cordage and twine, cotton and felt goods, hosiery and knit goods, oilcloth and linoleum, shoddy, silks, woolens, worsteds, etc. Iron and steel manufactures produce bars, castings, blooms, forgings, ingots, plate, rails, slabs and structural shapes. The manufacture of automobiles is now an important industry, the number turned out in 1909 being 127,287, valued at $249,202,075. The chemical and allied industries included acids, cottonseed product, dye-stuffs, extracts, explosives, fertilizers, gas, paints and petroleum-refining. Electricity, gas, steam, water and even mills and animals were used to produce power. The manufacture of electrical apparatus has become an immense industry, and in making agricultural machines and tools the United States excels every other country. The hand-trades and the local industries annually produce over $1,200,000,000 of goods. The manufactures of the United States equal those of France, Germany and the United Kingdom together. (See Furniture, Glass, Smelting and Steel; articles on other manufactures; and the subject of Manufactures in articles on states.)

Agriculture. Fore more than a century the United States has been the greatest agricultural country on the globe. The American farmer in two years produces more wealth than have all the gold-mines of the entire world since 1492. The immense extent of fertile land, the liberal policy of the national government as to the public domain (see Homestead Laws and Preëmption), the climatic advantages and the comparative ease of access are among the causes that brought about this preëminence. In the continental United States, excluding Alaska and the islands, there remained 327,489,968 acres of public lands on July 1, 1911, still available for settlement. Most of this, however, is in mountainous and arid regions. In 1910 the farms were worth $28,475,674,169. The size of an average farm is about 138 acres. Agriculture employs nearly 11,000,000 people, almost half of all laborers in the United States, and almost 5,000,000 families live on farms. The chief agricultural areas are the central plain from the Appalachians to 100° W.; the Gulf states and Georgia; and the Pacific slope. But the Atlantic slope also abounds in valuable farms on its fertile lowlands; and the soil of the arid regions along the Rockies—regions comprising nearly a third of the United States—is generally fertile and only needs irrigation (q. v.). New York and New England chiefly engage in mixed farming and in dairying; the Mississippi valley grows the cereals; the south cotton, sugar, tobacco and tropical fruits, besides truck-farming for northern markets; and the Pacific coast grain and fruits. The agricultural products of the United States form the bulk of the exports.

Cereals are the most important farm-product, and corn (q. v.) leads in the amount grown. In 1910 the yields were 3,125,713,000 bushels of corn; 1,126,765,000 of oats; 695,443,000 of wheat; 162,227,000 of barley; 33,039,000 of rye (some European countries far surpassing the United States as producers of rye); 24,510,000 of rice; and 17,239,000 of buckwheat. (See articles under these titles.) In 1910 the corn of the United States was worth $1,523,713,000; the wheat $621,443,000; the oats $384,716,000; the barley $93,785,000; the rye $23,840,000; and the buckwheat $11,231,000. All cereals in that year totaled 5,140,896,000 bushels and were valued at $2,710,000,000.

Cotton (q. v.) stands next to corn as a commercial asset of the United States. It is the chief product of the south, and in 1909 it was worth $703,619,303. The cotton states from first to last in production that year were Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Tennessee, Florida, Missouri, Virginia and Kentucky.

The humble hay-crop, however, has sometimes been worth even more than cotton, though lacking its commercial and industrial importance, for in 1910 it weighed 60,978,000 tons and was valued at $747,769,000.

Potatoes (Irish and sweet) were valued at ($187,985,000), Wisconsin, Minnesota and New York raising Irish potatoes in large quantities, and southern Illinois and the south the sweet potato. See Potato.

Fruit-raising, taken in the widest sense, is a great branch of American agriculture. In Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, southern California, western New York and western Michigan it is the leading industry of the farm. In the mountainous regions of Montana, in Oregon and in Washington it also is a great industry. Oranges and pineapples are the chief fruits of Florida; almonds, apricots, grapes, lemons, oranges and prunes of the greatest importance in California; grapes in New York and Ohio; apples in New York and New England; peaches in Michigan and Georgia. Small fruits, as blackberries, gooseberries, raspberries and strawberries, are grown almost everywhere. Over half a billion bushels of apples, apricots, grapes, peaches, pears, prunes and small fruits are raised, apples being largely exported, and the value of the fruit crops, nuts and orchard products some years reaching $140,000,000. (See Fruit and articles under titles as above.)

Tobacco (q. v.) is another of the great crops. In 1910 it was raised on 1,233,800 acres to the amount of 894,349,000 pounds valued at $91,458,773. For rice and sugar see articles under these titles. In 1910-11 the output of cane-sugar was 311,000 tons; beet-sugar 455,000 tons, the sugar-beet being cultivated in many of the states with temperate climates. Considerable flax is grown, chiefly for seed, in Minnesota, Wisconsin and some other states of the north, the yield in 1909 being 25,856,000 bushels.

Stock raising (including poultry farming) and dairying are other great branches of American agriculture. In 1909 the dairy factories used 9,888,727,303 pounds of milk and 1,406,143,908 pounds of cream, and made 624,764,653 pounds of butter; 311,126,317 of cheese, and 494,796,544 of condensed milk, the value of the three being $274,557,718. New York, Wisconsin and Iowa have the largest dairy-industries. The leading states in the raising of poultry are Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio and Indiana. Among the grazing states Texas leads in the raising of cattle, Montana in that of sheep. In 1911 the wool-clip was 318,547,900 pounds, the United States ranking only fourth among the wool-producing countries of the world. (See Dairy-Factory, Gardening, Grazing, Poultry, Ranching, Stock-Raising and Wool.)

Mining. This stands third among the groups of industries of the United States. The total quantity of ores, minerals and metals produced can not be given, because the measures for the different products differ, but in 1910 their value was $2,003,744,869. (See Mining and articles on such subjects, in alphabetical order, as Aluminum, Mica or Zinc.) Gold is produced mainly in Colorado, California and Nevada; silver in Colorado, Montana, Utah and Idaho; sapphires in Montana, North Carolina and Idaho; and turquoises in Arizona and New Mexico. Agates, amethysts, beryls, diamonds, garnets, pearls, rubies, quartz crystals and tourmaline are also found. (See articles under these titles.) Since 1902 about $1,500,000 of precious stones (q. v.) have been mined.

Lumbering. This industry ranks fourth among those of the country, the manufacturing, agricultural and mining groups of industries preceding it, as do also the single industries of steel and iron, textiles and slaughtering and meat-packing. Two-thirds of the woodland are in the east and south, less than a third being on the Pacific slope and the Rockies. The merchantable forests cover 500,000 square miles. Of the 320,000 square miles of these forests in the east, the lake states and the south, 175,000 are soft wood and the rest hard wood. The white pine is in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the yellow in the southern states. In 1909 there were 40,671 lumbering establishments with a capital of $1,176,675,000. They used $508,118,000 of raw material. The finished product, excluding fuel, minor products, naval stores and woodpulp, was worth $1,156,129,000. The value of the sawn lumber was $435,708,084. Four fifths of the cut come from the conifers. (See Forest, Lumbering, Pine and articles on such states as California, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin.)

Fishing. In the extent and value of its fisheries the United States leads the world. The industry employs 6,931 vessels and 219,139 men; has a capital of $93,874,269; and produces to the value of $59,977,339. (The statistics include Alaska and sealing.) The Atlantic states produce about 75% of the output, the Pacific states 15, the Great Lakes and the Gulf five each (about 50,000 tons each annually.) The total fish-catch is over 1,000,000 tons a year, the aggregate catch from waters not included in the enumeration being considerable. Alaska, Oregon and Washington put up salmon; Massachusetts cures cod, herring and mackerel; and Maine tins sardines. Fish-canning and fish-preserving establishments in 1908 numbered 690, and employed 15,251 wage-earners, who were paid $4,247,000 The capital was $24,124,000 and the value of the output was $28,401,000. (See articles under titles above and Bering Sea, Furs and Seals.)


This is both domestic and foreign. The first is larger than that of any other country, and greatly surpasses that with outside nations. As shipments of interstate commerce are not entered at custom-houses, no statement as to the amount of domestic commerce can be made. But in foreign commerce, though America is only third among nations, our exports in 1911-12 were $2,204,322,000 and the imports $1,653,265,000. The best customers of the United States are the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany, the next in order being France and Netherlands, as buyers, and as sellers, the United Kingdom and Germany leading, with France, Brazil, Cuba, and Canada following in the order named. Nearly $1,342,000,000 of our exports in 1911-12 (excluding gold and silver) went to Europe, while nearly $517,000,000 went to North America outside of the United States. Asia and Oceania took $189,400,000; South America $132,310,000; and Africa $24,000,000. From Europe we imported $819,585,000 worth of products; from North American countries $334,072,000; from Asia and Oceania $262,000,000; from South America $215,089,000 and from Africa $22,586,000. Our chief exports in 1912 consist of cotton, $565,849,000; iron, steel and their products, $268,154,000; meat and dairy products, $156,261,000; and breadstuffs, $123,980,000. Agricultural products form not quite one-half of the exports, manufactures about the same proportion. The leading imports in 1911-12 were coffee, $117,826,000; sugar, $115,515,000; india rubber and gutta-percha, crude, $102,942,000; hides and skins, $102,476,000; chemicals, drugs, and dyes, $92,030,000; raw silk, $69,542,000; and cotton goods $65,153,000. Raw materials formed 34% of the imports; manufactures for further use in manufacturing, 18; manufactures ready for consumption, 22; and animals and foods 26. The Atlantic slope transacts nearly two-thirds of the foreign commerce of the United States.


Transportation in the United States is effected by means of waterways, roads, steam railroads and electric railways. Communication is carried on by means of these and also by telegraphs, telephones and postal service. The waterways consist of the seas, rivers, lakes and canals. The last three offer 100,000 miles of inland navigation. The 38 principal canals used for commercial purposes extend nearly 2,500 miles. The Missouri-Mississippi system and the Great Lakes are the most important means of internal transportation by water. (See Canals, Great Lakes and articles on rivers and states.)

American shipping in 1911 comprised 12,684 sailing vessels (including canal-boats and barges) and 13,307 steamships (q. v.), the tonnage of both classes aggregating 7,638,790 tons. The foreign commerce is, nine tenths of it, carried in foreign ships. The Atlantic and Gulf shipping is two thirds of the total American shipping and half of the tonnage. That of the lakes is an eighth of the number and a third of the tonnage. (See Shipbuilding.) The tonnage engaged in fisheries numbers 54,982 tons; in foreign trade only 863,495 tons; but in coastal trade 6,720,313 tons. The Atlantic ports had two-thirds of the shipping that entered and cleared.

The railways of the continental United States date from 1826, and in 1910 their total mileage was 240,438 miles, nearly half of the world's railway mileage and much more than that of Europe. As Britain is the island of ships, so the United States is the continent of railways. They penetrate every state and territory, even Alaska, Panama, Porto Rico and the Philippines; employ 1,699,420 men, whose wages in 1910 were $1,143,725,000; and in 1910 they carried 971,683,199 passengers and 1,849,900,000 tons of freight. Their passenger-cars would make a train over 500 miles long, their freight-cars and engines another of nearly 10,000 miles length. There are about 1,000 companies operating them. (See Harriman, Hill, Morgan and Railroads.) The United States systems also interlink with the Mexican and Canadian systems, American trains running from St. Louis into the City of Mexico, the Canadian Pacific crossing Maine and the Grand Trunk entering Portland and Chicago. In 1910 there were 40,088 miles of street and elevated roads operated by electricity and a few hundred miles operated by other power, and in densely peopled regions they are girdling the country with a network of interurban lines. (See Electric Railway.) Wagon-roads, except in a few sections of the east, are inferior to those of Europe.

The telegraph and the telephone in the United States are private enterprises. In 1911 one company had 1,487,345 miles of wire and 24,926 offices, and sent nearly 78,000,000 messages, excluding railway messages and those over leased wires. In 1906 the next largest company had 321,570 miles of wire and nearly 24,000 offices. Six cables connect the United States and Europe, while another links it with the Philippines and China. There also are cables to the Antilles and South America. One of the telephone companies in 1910 had over 8,000,000 miles of wire, over 8,000,000 instruments and over 105,000 employés. Its telephones were used 5,305,900,000 times. Other companies operate over 3,500,000 instruments, and have greatly developed long-distance telephony. The capital invested in telegraphy is over $150,000,000, in telephony over $500,000,000, and continuous telephonic communication is had between points as distant as Birmingham and Minneapolis or Philadelphia and Kansas City. (See Cables, Telegraph and Telephone.)

The postal business is carried on by the federal government (see Postoffice and Dead-Letter Office), the transportation of small or valuable freight by private express-companies, though large goods are also forwarded through them if speed or special safety is desired. (See Express Companies.) In 1910 the postoffice handled 14,850,102,559 pieces of mail at a cost of $229,977,224 at 59,580 offices. The rapidity of travel and communication in the United States is evinced by the fact that it takes the mail only four days and nine hours to traverse the 3,250 miles between New York City and San Francisco.


This is based on the federal constitution of 1787 and the constitutions of the states. The national government (q. v.) began in 1774; the states when the first continental congress initiated their governments. The United States government is a federal republic, and each state is a representative republic, governing itself in its own affairs but without sovereignty and without any relation to any foreign power. The national constitution, which can be altered by the people, defines the powers of the federal government, and reserves “to the states respectively or to the people the powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution nor by it prohibited to the states.” The administration of the affairs of the Union is entrusted to the executive, the legislative and the judicial authority.

Executive power is vested in a president (q. v.) the head of the government, and in a vice-president. Both are elected for a four years' term by an electoral college (q. v.). The president is commander-in-chief of the army and navy, though never appearing at their head, and of the militia in the service of the Union. Washington, for greater efficiency in the executive, in 1789 established the extraconstitutional departments of the navy, the postoffice (a postal system, however, existing before the Revolution), state, treasury and war; and in 1849 that of the interior was added, in 1870 justice, in 1889 agriculture, and in 1903 commerce and labor. (See United States Departments.) The heads of these are executive officers, called secretaries (except the attorney-general and the postmaster-general); are appointed by the president with the approval of the senate; and form his cabinet (q. v.) or body of advisers. The president also appoints ambassadors, judges of the federal courts and almost all of the higher executive officers. (See Diplomatic Service). In the civil service (q. v.) of the Union there are nearly 330,000 executives. The vice-president is president of the national senate, ex officio, and, if the president die or resign, becomes president. His salary is $12,000 a year. If the vice-president dies a temporary president of the senate discharges his duties and receives his salary.

Legislative authority over the Union is vested in a national congress (q. v.), consisting of a senate and a house of representatives. The first, nominally the ranking authority, represents the states; the second the people. Both bodies are now chosen by popular vote, a Constitutional amendment for direct election of senators being adopted in 1913. Each state has two senators, but has only so many representatives in the lower house as its population entitles it to. Nevada, e. g., has only about 50,000 inhabitants, New York over 8,000,000; yet Nevada as a state has two senators, but its people have only one representative in the house. As there is one representative to every 211,877 inhabitants, states of less population are given a representative. Representatives are elected for two years, senators for six, but a third of the senate goes out every two years. Territories send delegates to the house of representatives, Porto Rico a resident-commissioner. These are elected as representatives are; can speak in the house and make motions; but cannot vote. The salaries of senators, representatives, delegates and the Porto Rican commissioner are $7,500 a year (since March 4, 1907), with their expenses in travel, but the speaker receives $12,000. Alaska and the Philippines have an inofficial representation, but the District of Columbia has not even this. Congress governs the territories and districts and has power to enact legislation affecting the whole country, but it cannot change the laws of a state.

Judicial authority over the nation is vested in a supreme court, nine circuit-courts, a court of claims and 69 district-courts. (See Courts.) Each circuit also has a court of appeals. There also are federal courts for the districts and for the territories. The national courts try civil causes arising from the laws of the nation; causes between citizens of different states; and crimes against the whole United States. These crimes consist chiefly of murder on the high seas, offences against postal or revenue laws and piracy. The judges of these federal courts are appointed for life by the president with the approval of the senate. Each state forms a district or several districts. The chief-justice of the supreme court receives $10,500 a year, the eight associate-justices $10,000 each. (See, also, Congress and United States Departments: Justice.)

Each branch of the federal government is independent, within limits, of the others. To a degree they are coördinate. Yet all are so related together as to form a whole. The president or executive can veto a law of Congress and has such powers of a sovereign as appointing ambassadors and judges; but Congress, if two thirds of the senators and two thirds of the representatives sustain the vetoed law, can pass it; and the senate can refuse consent to his appointments. Only Congress can originate legislation; but the federal courts determine whether its laws are in keeping with the national constitution. Yet Congress has judicial functions, too, for the house alone has the power of impeachment and the senate then sits as a high court. The senate also has the executive function of ratifying or rejecting treaties that the president makes with foreign countries. It is such features as these that made Gladstone pronounce the federal constitution “the most wonderful work ever struck out at a given time by the hand and purpose of man.”

The states' governments mainly follow that of the nation. Each state must have a republican constitution, but this derives its powers from the citizens of the state. Admission of territories to the Union as states is effected by act of Congress and proclamation of the president. The state deals with all matters not reserved for the national government by the federal constitution nor falling within restrictions imposed by its own. It determines the qualifications for suffrage, and controls all elections. It also controls criminal and civil law, prisons, property and civil relations; marriage, divorce, education and charities; fisheries, game-laws, licensing and traffic. It charters and controls all corporations (q. v.) subject only to Congress's right to regulate interstate commerce; and it also regulates labor (q. v.). The state derives its revenue chiefly from a direct tax on property. (See Government in articles on states). Local government within a state is carried on by a borough or a municipality and by a county or a township. (See Citizenship, Factory Legislation, Municipal Government and Town-Meeting.)

Territorial governments are states' governments in the making, A territory is a possession of the Union, and is governed by national or federal authorities. The president appoints its officers, but the people elect a legislature, though federal statutes may modify or even annul its laws. The Districts of Alaska and Columbia have no power of self-government. Indians on reservations and non-naturalized inhabitants of the United States are ruled by the federal government. When territories become populous enough and attain industrial or commercial importance, they may, if they wish, become states by forming a constitution, organizing a government and satisfying Congress that they have complied with all requirements of the national constitution. (For the forms of government in Alaska, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Panama, the Philippines and Porto Rico see these titles).

Political Divisions. The republic politically consists of states, territories and districts and of dependencies or possessions. There are now 48 states, one territory and two districts. The possessions comprise Guantanamo Naval Station, Guam, the Panama zone, the Philippines, Porto Rico, three of the Samoan islands and many islets in the Pacific. The states include 13 that originated in English colonization, six that came into the Union without ever having been territories and 29 that had been territories. The territory is Hawaii; the districts Alaska and Columbia; the states

Alabama Nebraska
Arizona Nevada
Arkansas New Hampshire
California New Jersey
Colorado New Mexico
Connecticut New York
Delaware North Carolina
Florida North Dakota
Georgia Ohio
Idaho Oklahoma
Illinois Oregon
Indiana Pennsylvania
Iowa Rhode Island
Kansas South Carolina
Kentucky South Dakota
Louisiana Tennessee
Maine Texas
Maryland Utah
Massachusetts Vermont
Michigan Virginia
Minnesota Washington
Mississippi West Virginia
Missouri Wisconsin
Montana Wyoming.

(See article on each.)


Finance and Law

Though Congress is empowered by the constitution “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imports and excises,” it imposes direct taxes only in war or in other exceptional circumstances. The national government derives its revenue almost entirely from duties on imports (see Tariff and Taxes) and from taxes on spirituous liquors, tobacco and other manufactures—especially on luxuries. In 1911 customs yielded $314,497,071; internal revenue $322,529,201; Coinage $5,272,347; public lands $5,731,637; the District of Columbia $7,060,080; tax on national banks $3,503,502; immigrant fund $3,669,816 and fees $5,131,157. The civil service (Congress, courts, the executive and the departments and the District of Columbia) cost $201,968,761; pensions $157,325,160; the army (including improvements of rivers and harbors) $162,357,100; the navy $120,728,786; and the Indians over $21,000,000. (See Army, Banks, Coinage, Consuls, National Debt, Navy, Patent-Office and Post-Office.) The revenues of the states, in distinction from the nation, come from direct taxation, and in the main are collected and spent by local authorities.

Taxes are now levied on incomes in the United States as they have long been in England, a constitutional amendment conferring upon congress the power to levy such taxes having been adopted in February, 1913.

The legal system of the United States is based on English law. Weights and measures also are English, but the use of the metric system is legalized. (See Corporations, Currency, Law, Metric System and Weights and Measures.)


This is entrusted to a small army (called the regular army) and a navy and to a militia and a naval reserve. (See Army, Coast-Defence, Military Schools, Militia, Naval Academy, Naval Reserve, Navy and West Point). The United States is the only important power, except England, that relies for defence on a purely volunteer army. In addition to the regulars there are 6,000 native troops in Porto Rico and the Philippines and 75 Indian scouts. The militia is partly organized, partly unorganized. The organized militia called the national guard, belongs, not to the nation, but to the states. It numbers about 105,000 men. The unorganized militia, called the reserve, comprises males, with some exemptions, between 18 and 45, and is estimated to number over 16,000,000. The president can call both into national service, the former for nine months, the latter for two years.

Education and Religion

The constitution of the Union and the constitutions of the states guarantee the free exercise of religion, except where it opposes the constitution, and nowhere is there an established or state church. Every religion is represented—Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam and others as well as Christianity. In 1911 there were 35,836,190 communicants in the different churches; 221,197 organizations; and 172,431 ministers, the Catholics (of all bodies) numbered 13,004,012 communicants. (The Roman church numbered 12,575,085). The Methodists were the largest Evangelical body, all their branches together numbering 6,819,660 communicants. The Baptists came next (5,634,565), and Lutherans (2,289,897) and Presbyterians (1,944,181) contested the third place. Protestant churches are 14 times as numerous as Roman Catholic ones; their ministers 8 times as numerous; and their communicants more than double those of the latter. The Evangelical Sunday-Schools (q. v.) numbered over 192,700; their teachers 1,746,000; and their pupils 15,337,000. The Roman Catholic clergy estimate their Sunday-school scholars as 1,000,000. The Jews (q. v.) have 143,000 communicants; 1,769 churches; and 1,084 ministers.

Education is the business of the states, not of the nation, and every state has by law established free, public schools. These are largely supplemented by private and parochial schools. In 1910 only 7.7% of the 71,000,000 Americans ten years old and more were unable to read or write. These illiterates numbered 5,517,608. Only 3% of the native white population ten years old and more was illiterate; but 12.8% of the same class foreign-born whites and 30% of that class of the colored population were illiterate. That is, among the 50,989,343 of the first division there were only 1,535,530 illiterates; but among the 12,944,215 of the second class there were 1,650,519 illiterates and among the 7,646,712 of the third, group there were 2,331,559 illiterates. Illiteracy in the United States is almost wholly due to immigrants and negroes. The percentage of illiteracy in 1900 was 10.7% and in 1910 7.7%. The United States leads the world in many industries, but in none more successfully than in the making of citizens in its public schools. Though the national government administers no system of education nor appropriates money directly for schools, it has ever since 1787 indirectly assisted education more generously than any other government that ever existed. In each new state it has set two square miles of each township six miles square aside as endowments for schools, agricultural colleges or universities. The total has been 75,000,000 acres for schools and universities, including 8,000,000 for colleges of agriculture. It also maintains a bureau of education (see Department of the Interior), which collects statistics and publishes reports. The state systems of education are so similar that in effect they make a national system of American education. In 1909-10 there were 17,813,852 children in the public schools, which cost $426,250,434. The total number of pupils in all institutions was 19,811,922. Universities and colleges numbered 581, of which 339 were coeducational and 145 for men only. There also were 97 colleges for women. The colleges and universities had 183,572 students and and an aggregate of 55,000,000 volumes in their libraries.

As for schools of music or art, almost every city has at least one. See Colleges, Education (Modern), Education (State-Aid), Schools and Universities; articles on other educational topics; and articles on the states and on single universities or colleges.

Art and Literature

See Fine Arts, Literature (American) and Sculpture.

People and Immigration

The population of Continental United States in 1910 was 91,972,266. Including Alaska, Hawaii, Porto Rico and Philippine Islands, and adding estimates for the islands of Guam and Samoa and the Canal Zone, the total population of the United States and possessions is about 101,100,000. The original inhabitants were Indians (q. v.),of whom there are 291,581. The negroes (q. v.) were brought into this country in 1619 as slaves (see Slavery), and number over 10,000,000. Their progress since 1865 has been noteworthy. The native population of the continental United States in 1900 was 65,729,150, and the foreign-born 10,356,644. There were 160 cities of 25,000 or more inhabitants, their combined population being 19,718,312. The urban population (1910) was 42,623,383, or 46.3% of the total. In 1910 there were 50 cities with a population of 100,000 a more and 179 with 25,000 to 100,000 inhabitants. Among these chief cities are New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Boston, Cleveland, Baltimore, Pittsburgh (including Allegheny), Detroit, Buffalo, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Newark, New Orleans, Washington, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Jersey City, Kansas City, Seattle, Indianapolis, Providence, Louisville, Rochester, St. Paul, Denver and Portland, Oreg., all but six east of the Mississippi and having from 4,766,883 down to 207,212 inhabitants. (See articles on cities of the United States as Adams or Zanesville.) The foreign-born population in 1900 was 10,460,085, representing almost every nationality, 26,918,107 immigrants having come between 1787 and July 1st of 1908. (Canadian and Mexican immigrants are not included.) Before 1775 the English and Scotch-Irish were the prevailing race, though New York had a considerable Dutch and Pennsylvania a large German population, while South Carolina had many citizens of French descent. (The Louisiana of 1803 and Texas and the southwest and California after 1848 added many French and Spanish inhabitants to the United States.) After 1820 immigration began to be considerable, the British predominating. In the 40's and 50's the Irish immigration first and then the German immigration assumed enormous proportions, the Irish settling chiefly in the eastern cities, the Germans on the western prairies. In the 70's the Scandinavian immigration became large, Maine, Minnesota and Wisconsin gaining many farmers from the storied Northland of Europe, and since 1890 Hungary, Italy, Poland and Russia have poured their millions in. In 1906-7, of 1,285,349 immigrants 338,452 or over a third came from Austria-Hungary; 285,731 were Italians; and 258,943 Russians (chiefly Jews). But in 1911 only 878,587 immigrants entered. Chinese are the only people excluded as a nation, though Japanese immigration is restricted, but all persons likely to become a public charge are also excluded by act of Congress (1882). In 1885 and 1903 more drastic laws were enacted, that of 1885 being later modified and in 1891 extended. (See Chinese Exclusion and Emigration.)


The story of our country naturally falls into three parts. These are the colonial period, the revolutionary epoch and the era of union. The first extends from 1576 to 1763; the second to 1789; and the third to the present day. But the first overlaps the second, because the revolution began while the United States was colonies; and the third runs back into the second, because American nationality and federal union began in revolution. Only the briefest account of American history can here be attempted. So it is suggested to the student, who wants to inform himself more fully, that he not only consult the articles named at the end of each paragraph but see articles on all the men and places and events mentioned within each paragraph itself.

The Colonial Period. This is marked by colonization (1576—1750), by a struggle for expansion (1750-63) and by attempts at union (1763—75). English colonization began in 1585, when Raleigh planted settlements in North Carolina, and in 1602, when Gosnold placed colonists on islands off Massachusetts. It ended in 1733, when Oglethorpe founded Georgia. Permanent settlement came in 1607 in Virginia; in 1612 (by the Dutch) in New York; in 1616 in Maine; and in 1620 in Massachusetts. New Hampshire (1623); Maryland (1634); Connecticut and Rhode Island (1636); Delaware (1638, by Sweden); New Jersey (in 1640 by Swedes, before 1650 by Dutch and in 1664 by Englishmen); North Carolina (by Virginians before 1650, by English colonists in 1663); South Carolina (1670); and Pennsylvania (1661, though Swedes had founded settlements there in 1627 and Englishmen in 1641) successively became permanently settled. The separate histories of these colonies are given in articles under titles as above. They were governed by charters to the colonists or by proprietors or by the king, but all in effect were representative democracies. Life had all the hardships of existence in any new country, and these were increased by the difficulties of communication. The southern planters, however, enjoyed a luxury that the middle colonies and New England could not then have. Nevertheless, as early as 1760 material prosperity abounded everywhere. In New England education was general; in the central colonies special classes had good education; and in the south the better class received education of a high order. Six colleges — Harvard, William and Mary, Yale, Princeton, Pennsylvania and King's (now Columbia) — were founded before 1760. Religious freedom prevailed to an exceptional extent. Thirteen governments (Maine being included in Massachusetts and Vermont in New Hampshire and New York) stretched from French Canada to Spanish Florida and from the Atlantic into the Appalachians. Their people numbered 1,250,000; had tamed the wilderness; had survived many struggles with the Indians; and were beginning to swarm across the mountains into the fertile valleys of the west. They were not unaware of their power. In 1690 and in 1710 New England had captured Port Royal, Nova Scotia, from France, and in 1745 it took Louisbourg, the strongest of American fortresses, on Cape Breton Island. But the colonists feared France in Canada (q. v.) and the French alliance with the Indians of the west. In 1749-54 came the crisis in the conflict for the continent, when the Virginians entered the Ohio Valley at Pittsburgh and Washington (1755) fought with and surrendered to the French, (See French and Indian War.) In 1763 France ceded its American possessions (except New Orleans) from the Mexican Gulf to the Arctic Ocean and from the Appalachians to the Mississippi to Great Britain. It also ceded the Louisiana country between the Mississippi and the Rockies to Spain. So the colonists made good their claim to the eastern half of the Mississippi Valley, and cleared the way for the march of the Americans of the 19th century from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The French and Indian War showed the colonies their full strength, trained the soldiers and generals of the War for Independence and first united all the colonies. But its last result was to kill all sense of dependence on England. (See Albany Congress; Andros; Bacon, Nat.; Baltimore, Lord; Berkeley, Wm.; Blue Laws, Boone, Dan.; Braddock, Ed.; Carteret, Geo.; Claiborne, Wm.; Colleges; Culpeper; Delaware, Lord; Endicott; Gosnold; Indians; Jamestown; Louisbourg; La Salle; Penn; Pilgrims; Pontiac; Puritans; Raleigh, Sir W.; Smith, Capt., of Virginia; and Seven Years' War.

Captain John Smith gravure.jpg Pocahontas gravure.jpg
Captain John Smith Pocahontas
John Winthrop gravure.jpg William Penn gravure.jpg
John Winthrop William Penn
Peter Stuyvesant gravure.jpg James Edward Oglethorpe gravure.jpg
Peter Stuyvesant James Edward Oglethorpe
Copyright, 1904, by C. B. Beach

The Revolutionary Epoch. The English government, to repay the expenses of the war with France, taxed the American colonies heavily. Since 1651 it had hampered their commerce and manufactures, and Parliament's legislation was one of the direct causes of the American Revolution, but acts in restraint of trade were not vigorously and universally enforced until 1761. The colonists acknowledged that it was only fair that they should pay their share of the cost of their protection by England, but denied that Parliament, in which they were not represented, had the right to tax them. In 1761 Otis of Massachusetts declared that “an act of Parliament against the constitution is void,” and the colonists resisted Parliament's writs of assistance.

In 1765 Parliament passed a stamp-act that taxed the colonists without their consent, devoted the American revenue to the support of a standing army, and intended this army to maintain taxation. The Virginian assembly, the people's house of the legislature, declared that each colony had the right to make its laws and to lay and spend the taxes; the Massachusetts assembly proposed an American congress of representatives from every colony, appointing a committee to secure united action. The congress met, and appealed to the king and Parliament. The stamp-act (q. v.) was repealed, but American imports were taxed (1767) and the British authorities goaded the colonists further and further. In 1773 the colonial legislatures appointed “committees of correspondence” to keep up union of action with one another. A national spirit had been born. When the people of Boston threw a cargo of tea into the water, “the whole continent applauded.” In 1774 Boston was closed to commerce and the charter of Massachusetts changed. These acts of the British government made war only a question of time. They crystallized every element of union in the colonies. The Virginians suggested, and the men of Massachusetts called, another congress which met at Philadelphia in September of 1774. This was the first continental congress (q. v.), the first really national body in American history. It addressed the English people and the king, and issued a Declaration of Rights of the colonists. It approved Massachusetts' opposition to Parliament and resolved that, if execution of the acts “by force” should be attempted, “all America ought to support their opposition.” Congress summoned a new Congress which convened at Philadelphia in May of 1775. The British government now ordered General Gage to reduce the colonies to submission, and he at once took possession of Boston Neck and fortified it.

On April 19, 1775, at Concord and Lexington, Mass., war began, and with it the national existence, politically, of the United States. The people's or lower house of every colony took the government. Congress met as the representative of an united people, and all the colonists supported Massachusetts. The articles of association had already substituted government by the people for government by the legislatures, and the general union affected all our after history. Congress was sustained by the united people without regard to colonial governments, but did not take the national powers that were within its grasp. Congress adopted the Massachusetts militia around Boston as the nucleus of the national army, and Washington was appointed its commander-in-chief. The day of his being commissioned is the day of the battle of Bunker Hill, which was one of the decisive battles of the war, because it showed that American soldiers would stand their ground. In March of 1776 Washington compelled the British to quit Boston. The war was unpopular in England, the British fighting but half-heartedly till 1778. In June of 1776 Richard Henry Lee of Virginia moved that Congress declare independence, and in July it “resolved that these united colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown; and that all political connection between them and Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved.” On July 4 Jefferson's Declaration of Independence was adopted by Congress, and the United States' legal existence began. Meanwhile the war was going against the new nation, for Washington was driven out of Long Island, New York and New Jersey, and the British controlled the Hudson's mouth. But on Dec. 26, 1776, at Trenton, N. J., Washington struck the blow that proved the turning-point of the war, and on Jan. 4, 1777, he made Morristown, N. J., his headquarters, and there these really remained through almost all the rest of the war. De Kalb of Germany, Kosciusko of Poland and La Fayette of France already were serving in the American army; Pulaski and Steuben came later; and in 1777 Franklin in France made the government in all but name an ally of the United States. On Oct. 17, 1777, Burgoyne, a British general who had tried to cut off New England from the other colonies by coming down the Hudson from Canada, was forced to surrender his army at Saratoga. This success won the United States a treaty of alliance with France. Howe captured Philadelphia, the capital, in 1777, and Washington, though he had made his army capable of taking the offensive, spent a terrible winter at Valley Forge, Pa. In the summer, however, of 1778 the end began. There were no more important events at the north, except unsuccessful attempts to recover Newport, R. I., Wayne's capture of Stony Point and Arnold's treason at West Point, for Washington at Morristown, N. J., watched New York and protected Philadelphia. In the winter of 1778-9 Clark of Kentucky, under the authority of Virginia, won the west for the United States. The English, hopeless of success in the north and east, transferred the war to the south, mistakenly imagining that the slaves would rise against their masters. In 1778 they captured Savannah and Georgia, in 1780 Charleston and South Carolina. But Greene, the only great American general developed by the war, except Washington, saved the south (1781), though never winning a battle, and he was ably seconded by Morgan, Marion and Sumter. The English held only Charleston, New York City and Savannah, and the country at large had long been at peace. In June of 1781 Cornwallis chose Yorktown, Va., as a permanent post on Chesapeake Bay. But Washington, watching Clinton at New York, had been reinforced by 6,000 French troops. A French fleet was to enter the Chesapeake. Washington deceived Clinton into thinking that he was to attack New York City. Clinton weakened Cornwallis by withdrawing part of his troops. Washington moved down the Hudson, kept Clinton in ignorance to the last moment, suddenly swung aside through New Jersey and Philadelphia, and hurried the allied armies down Chesapeake Bay. The French fleet had early in September driven off the British fleet supporting Cornwallis. The American and French armies invested his position in front, the French fleet his rear. Besieged and starved, the English fleet unable to reach him, he surrendered on Oct. 19, 1781. “My God!” cried Lord North, when the news reached him, throwing up his hands; “it is all over.” It was. The moral effect of the capture of Cornwallis practically ended the fighting. On Nov. 30, 1782, Great Britain acknowledged the independence of the United States, and on Sept. 3, 1783, peace was definitively concluded. (See Adams, John; Adams, Sam; André; Arnold, Benedict; Bunker Hill; Burgoyne, John; Cincinnati, Soc. of; Clark, Geo. R.; Cornwallis; Dane, Nathan; Daughters of the Revolution; Declaration of Independence; Franklin, Ben.; Greene, Nat.; Hamilton, A.; Jefferson, Thos.; Lee, R. H.; Morris, Rob.; Otis, James; Paine, Thos.; Parliament; Saratoga; Trenton; Valley Forge; Washington, Geo.; and Yorktown.)

The United States, which had first called itself by that name in the Declaration of Independence, began with a territory bounded on the north nearly as now, on the west by the Mississippi to the latitude of Florida and on the south by (then Spanish) Florida. But the country, though a union, was a confederated union, not a federal union. For in 1775-6 the colonies, as soon as imminent danger disappeared, deprived Congress of so much power that they endangered the nation's life. The new legislatures took the power of naming and recalling the delegates to Congress; the thought of nationality grew dim; and the colonies asserted that they were sovereign states. In 1777 articles (q. v.) of confederation were adopted which made the new nation merely “a firm league of friendship” between sovereign states. Congress at best hardly had more than advisory power. The states were to be sovereign in everything. The result was inefficiency in the management of public affairs. So in 1787, “we, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union” held a constitutional convention which met at Philadelphia. This was the ablest body that had assembled since 1775, and Washington presided. It formed the present constitution (which has already been described), nine states adopted it by June of 1788, and the new government began. This is the federal union, in which the people are the sovereign. New York was made the capital, Washington elected president unanimously and John Adams made vice-president (1789).

In 1787, too, the continental Congress had passed an ordinance, the famous Ordinance (q. v.) of 1787, in regard to the new lands of the United States between the states and the Mississippi, the states having ceded their lands there to the United States. These lands played no small part in bringing about the federal union, and the ordinance proved of immense importance to the future of the United States and to its politics.

It is difficult to realize how poor and weak our country was. It owed $42,000,000, but numbered only 3,929,214 people. It was an almost exclusively agricultural country. Communication was slow and painful. Distances were immense when there were neither railroads nor steamships, and this increased the labor of administering such a country under a single government. The states were jealous of one another and of the Union. The people themselves had changed since 1775, and not for the better. The things that saved the nation were the picked men that led it and created a strong government; the keen and intelligent interest of its citizens in politics; and the outlet to the new domain in the west. The states yielded their claims here to the Union, free navigation of the Mississippi was secured from Spain (1795), and emigration began to flow freely across the Alleghanies. The Federalist party controlled the first two Congresses, and organized the government much as it is to-day. Protection of American manufactures was begun, the national debt funded, the debts of the states being assumed as part of it, a national bank founded, and Washington City appointed to be the capital after 1800. John Adams was elected president and Thomas Jefferson vice-president in 1797. But the Federal party passed three laws about aliens and sedition that the Anti-Federalists (then called Republicans, but Democrats now) considered political persecution. In 1801 the Anti-Federalists came into power in the election of Thomas Jefferson as president. (See Alien and Sedition Laws; Habeas Corpus; History; Indians; International Law; Jay, John; Jury, Trial by; Lands; Mint; Money; Naturalization; Navigation Laws; Neutrality; Political Economy; Political Parties; Poor Laws; President; Press, Freedom of; Protection; Suffrage; Tariff; Taxes; and White House).

Meanwhile Vermont (1791), Kentucky (1792) and Tennessee (1796) had become states. Whitney (1793) had invented the cotton-gin, which made cotton-growing profitable and slave-labor apparently necessary, and so played a part in politics. “The West” had begun to be a factor in our growth, for the Indians of Ohio had been compelled to surrender their lands and the safety with which settlement could be made gave it a new impetus. The rising spirit of migration inspired the people to try to improve the communications, and attempts were made to introduce turnpikes and canals. Our population (1800) had become 5,308,483.

Jefferson, though believing that the constitution should be interpreted narrowly and the powers of the national government severely restricted, was forced by events to do things that not even the Federalists had done. He doubted if the nation had the right to buy and hold territory, but in 1803 he bought the Louisiana country, thus more than doubling the area of the United States. He also sent Lewis and Clark to explore the Oregon country. In 1803 the Barbary pirates were reduced to submission. In 1807 an embargo act forbade foreign commerce altogether, in order to starve Great Britain into fair treatment of the United States. It injured American commerce greatly, but did nothing else; and the relations between England and the United States grew more and more strained. Ohio had become a state in 1803; Fulton had made steam a commercial success in navigation (1807), so that within four years steamers plowed the western rivers and emigration crossed the Mississippi; and the slave-trade was abolished (1808). (See Embargo Act; Lewis and Clark; and Louisiana Purchase).

Madison succeeded Jefferson in 1809, and tried to carry out Jefferson's policy, but in 1812 had to declare war against England. The United States could no longer tolerate the British claim of sovereignty over naturalized American citizens, the claim to the right to search the ships of neutrals, the claim of a right to impress her subjects as seamen, wherever found. On land the war was disastrous, as a whole, for America, though the battles of Chippewa, Lundy's Lane and New Orleans were American victories; but at sea and on the lakes it was successful, the United States winning 15 out of 18 engagements. Peace was renewed on Dec. 24, 1814. Nothing was said about search and impressment, but Britain never again searched American ships or impressed American seamen. The war strengthened the national government and took the Democratic party to many of the positions of the Federalists. The supreme court, John Marshall of Virginia being chief-justice (1801—35), also took advanced positions in favor of the federal government. Protection to American industries was renewed, and inventive genius grew rapidly. By 1810 our population had grown to 7,239,881. Louisiana had become a state in 1812. (See Emigration; Hartford Convention; Marshall, John; and Tecumseh).

Madison was in 1817 succeeded by Monroe, and the old Democratic party became two parties (1825). Clay was the leader of the new Democracy, which called itself Whigs and took in the remains of the Federal party; Calhoun and Jackson of the party which now formally called itself the Democratic party. The westward movement of population was growing more and more, and Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama, Maine and Missouri all joined the Union during 1816-21. The population (1820) had become 9,638,453. All our territory east of the Mississippi (except the northern part of the old northwest) had become states, Florida had been bought from Spain, and the Indians between Georgia and the Mississippi had ceded their lands and left this territory open for settlement. Commerce between the east and the west was facilitated in 1825 by the completion of the Erie Canal. In 1823 Monroe promulgated the Monroe doctrine.

John Quincy Adams (q. v.) in 1825 followed Monroe, being elected as a National Republican. He upheld the system of internal improvements and of protection to manufactures, the tariff of 1828 being extremely protectionist. (See Era of Good Feeling; Missouri; Slavery; and Whigs).

Jackson became president in 1829. Calhoun of South Carolina held that any state, if it considered a law of Congress unconstitutional, might suspend or nullify it. South Carolina declared the tariff of 1832 null, but Jackson compelled it to repeal the ordinance of nullification. He also deprived the United States Bank of the public funds. During 1829-37 all the machinery of American political parties came into being. In 1826 the railroads had begun and they made the growth of the west far more speedy. Our population in 1830 was 12,866,020. Anthracite was now at last used with commercial success. Steam navigation across the Atlantic was established (1838), the telegraph came in 1844, and the modern era of the United States opened. In 1835 the public debt was extinguished, and the surplus distributed among the states. In 1837 came a serious financial panic. (See Black Hawk; Calhoun, John C.; Clay, Henry; Crockett, Davy; Hayne, R. Y.; Houston, Sam.; Jackson, Andrew; Journalism; Kent, James; Newspapers; South Carolina; States' Rights; Texas; Story, Jos.; and Webster, Daniel.)

Van Buren succeeded Jackson in 1837, and replaced the national bank by the government treasury, but the hard times enabled the Whigs to elect William Henry Harrison. As he died soon after his inauguration (1841), Vice-President Tyler became president, and the Democrats rather than the Whigs ruled. They then elected Polk (1845-9) and Texas was annexed in 1845. War with Mexico followed (1846-8), America took possession of California and New Mexico, and Taylor and Scott won every battle with the Mexicans. Peace was concluded in 1848, Mexico ceding what now are Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah. The United States paid Mexico $15,000,000 and assumed $3,000,000 of Mexican debts to American citizens. At the same time (1844-6) the United States obtained the Oregon country (between the Rockies, Canada, the Pacific and California, Nevada and Utah) from England. Texan annexation had added 375,000 square miles to the country, the Mexican cession 500,000 and the Oregon country about 250,000. The United States, when the Gadsden purchase (1853) rectified the frontier between Mexico and New Mexico, had taken the dimensions it retained till 1867. (See California; Compromise of 1850; Fugitive Slave Law; Gadsden Purchase; Mexican War; Mexico; Mormons; Omnibus Bill; and Utah.)

But the discovery of gold in California (1848) and the non-existence of slavery in the Mexican lands brought political troubles. The Missouri compromise (1820) had prohibited slavery (except in Missouri) in the Louisiana country north of 36° 30′. Agitators at the north at once opened public opposition to slavery, and in 1831 a movement for the abolition of it began. (See Emancipation, Garrison and Phillips.) In 1820 the south and the north had already drifted apart in their views as to slavery, state sovereignty and the Union. New economic conditions controlled the north and the west, which the south hardly felt, and these widened the gulf between the sections. California applied for admission as a state, and forbade slavery. If it and other states from the new territory were to be free states, the slave-states would lose power and slavery would be endangered. In 1850 California was admitted as a free state, but a fugitive-slave law was passed.

Since 1830 material development had been extraordinary. The sudden increase of wealth gave fresh impetus to the spirit of invention. Goodyear's method of vulcanizing rubber (1839) came into universal use, McCormick invented the reaper (1834), which has been hardly less important to the country than the railroad, enabling it to fill the west rapidly and making western farms profitable. In 1846 came the power-loom, a successful sewing-machine and the surgical use of anesthetics. Next year brought the rotary press for printing. In 1847, too, European immigration first became an important factor in the making of the country. Its population in 1840 was 17,069,453. In 1850 it had become 23,191,876.

The Whigs elected Taylor (1849), who, however, died in July of 1850 and was succeeded by Fillmore. The Democratic party, had put forward the doctrine of squatter sovereignty or the proposal that the people of each territory be left to settle the question of slavery for themselves. The Whigs had ignored or evaded the problem. In 1854 Kansas and Nebraska were organized as territories, both being in territory where the Missouri compromise had prohibited slavery. The compromise was now repealed and the question of slavery was left to the people of these territories. The south and the north vied to see whether these people should be southerners and favor slavery, or northerners and favor freedom. Civil war in Kansas ensued, but the antislavery settlers were in a large majority and Kansas finally (1861) became a free state. Meanwhile a new party, an antislavery party only so far as it aimed to exclude slavery from the national territory, had arisen and had captured the popular branch of Congress. The Democratic party, which since 1852 had practically been the sole party, was faced by the Republican party. (See Chase, Salmon P.; Davis, Jefferson, Douglas, S. A., Kansas; Lincoln, Abraham, Seward, Wm. H.; Stanton, E. M.; Sumner, Chas.; and Underground Railroad.)

The Democrats had elected Franklin Pierce (1853) and in 1857 James Buchanan, another Democratic president, succeeded him. In 1857 Chief-Justice Taney of the Supreme Court decided that the national constitution considered slaves, not persons, but property; that the Missouri compromise had been unconstitutional; that Congress was bound to protect property; and that Congress, therefore, ought to and must protect slavery in the national territory. The south maintained that its view as to the duty of Congress was confirmed, the north flouted the decision (the Dred Scott decision), and disunion came in sight. But the south and the north had so diverged in population, resources and wealth, that in 1860 the free states were 19,000,000 to the slave states' 12,000,000. (The total population was 31,443,321.) The Democratic party split in 1860, the northern or Douglas Democrats resting on squatter sovereignty and the compromise of 1850, but willing to accept the decision of the Supreme Court, the southern Democrats demanding protection from Congress for slavery in the territories. The Republicans demanded that Congress prohibit slavery in the national domain. Abraham Lincoln, their candidate, was elected. South Carolina on Dec. 20, 1860, seceded and prepared for war, and by Feb. 1, 1861, had been followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. On Feb, 4 they formed the Confederate States. In the spring North Carolina, Arkansas, Virginia and Tennessee joined the Confederacy. On April 14, 1861, South Carolina attacked Fort Sumter, and the Civil War began. It closed on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox, Va. It had engaged 2,780,000 Federal and 1,000,000 Confederate troops; cost 500,000 lives; encumbered the nation with a debt of $2,800,000,000; and almost ruined the south.

For details of this bitter and exhausting struggle the reader is referred to accounts (under proper titles) of the important battles, as Bull Run, Donelson, Shiloh, Stone River, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Mission Ridge and Atlanta, as, also, to sketches of the great leaders, as Lincoln, Grant, Sherman, Thomas, Sheridan, Logan and others of the Federal side and Davis, Lee, Beauregard, Johnston, Jackson and others of the Confederates. It should be noted, however, that, while the final issue was determined in the results of these great battles, any adequate understanding of the intensity and strain of this titanic struggle must be sought in the story of hundreds of minor engagements, for the record shows that during 1862-4 every day saw a clash of arms, and it is a literal fact that the roar of artillery and the rattle of musketry did not cease for one day during these dreadful years. (See Confederate States; Decoration Day; Draft Riots; Emancipation Proclamation; Johnson, Andrew; Kuklux Klan; Negro Education; Peace Societies; Reconstruction,; Republic, Grand Army of the; and Thanksgiving Day).

Reconstruction ensued, and on Jan. 30, 1871, the last of the seceding states was recognized and reinstated by Congress. On Jan. 1, 1863, the proclamation of emancipation from slavery had been issued; in 1865 the thirteenth amendment to the constitution abolished it forever; and in 1870 the fifteenth amendment was adopted, which provided that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.” By 1897 the debt, in spite of enormous pensions yearly to survivors from the Federal forces, had been reduced nearly half. In 1867 Alaska had been purchased from Russia and France had been compelled to withdraw from Mexico, which was thus enabled to overthrow Maximilian.

Andrew Johnson, who had been made president by Lincoln's death, was succeeded in 1869 by General Grant. During his administration the Alabama claims against England were settled by arbitration in favor of the United States, the Union and Central Pacific Railroads were completed, the civil service was reformed, the panic of 1873 occurred, and the centenary of the independence of the United States was celebrated by an international exposition. In 1870 the population had grown to 38,558,3 71. (See Alabama Claims; Arbitration; Expositions; Labor; Labor Parties; Peonage; Red Cross Societies; Specie Payments; and Woman's Rights.)

In 1877 Rutherford B. Hayes was inaugurated president. He immediately withdrew the last Federal troops from the south, and the government of the southern states by the negroes and by northern office-holders ceased. Specie-payments were resumed. James A. Garfield succeeded him in 1881, but was assassinated, Vice-President Chester A. Arthur succeeding to the presidency. Chinese immigration and polygamy were prohibited. By 1880 the population had become 50,155,783.

The Democratic party came into power again in 1885, when Grover Cleveland became president. He extended the reform of the civil service to a great number of offices, and urged radical changes in the tariff. Another antipolygamy law and another bill for the exclusion of the Chinese were passed. The succession to the presidency was regulated, as was also interstate commerce. (See Immigration Bureau; Inheritance Tax; Interstate Commerce; Reciprocity; Single Tax; Strikes; and Trade-Unions.)

The Republicans elected Benjamin Harrison (1889-92) as Cleveland's successor. Commercial and political relations with Central and South America were strengthened and extended, as was the policy of reciprocity, though a high tariff was enacted. The pension system was enlarged, the law for free coinage of silver repealed and another for limited coinage substituted. A revolution occurred in Hawaii, the native monarchy was overthrown, and the new government applied for annexation to the United States. Congress passed a bill for the annexation of Hawaii, but Cleveland was elected again, and annexation did not occur until 1898. In 1890 our people numbered 62,947,714. (See Hawaii; and Income Tax.)

Cleveland's second term opened with the financial panic of 1893, the establishment of a low tariff and efforts to restore Hawaii to its native rulers. A dispute between Great Britain and Venezuela was settled at the instance of the United States by referring it to a tribunal of arbitration. The fourth centenary of the discovery of America was celebrated by the Columbian Exposition. The difficulty with England and Canada as to sealing in Bering Sea was settled amicably. The president extended the reform of the civil service, and used Federal troops to suppress a strike that interfered with interstate commerce.

The Republican party returned to power by the election and reëlection of William McKinley (1897-1901) and the succeeding elections of Theodore Roosevelt (1904) and William Howard Taft (1908). The political and financial question in 1896 was whether the United States should adopt gold alone or gold and silver as its monetary standard, and in 1900 gold was by law established as the standard of currency. A high tariff was also restored. In 1898 war with Spain broke out, and resulted in the acquisition of Porto Rico and the Philippines (q. v.). In 1900 the United States joined the powers of Europe in suppressing a rebellion in China. On Sept. 6, 1901, President McKinley was assassinated, and Vice-President Roosevelt (q. v.) became president. The eight years of his presidency were marked by great prosperity and expansion and by the advance of the nation to commanding position as a world-power. Among important affairs demanding the attention of Congress and the executive were the building of Panama Canal (q. v.); the reclamation of great areas of arid lands by irrigation (q. v.); the husbanding of the national resources through the cultivation of forests and the establishment of forest-reserves (q. v.); the promotion of the welfare of the Filipino; the occupancy of Cuba (q. v.) and the reëstablishment of its republic; the righting of abuses in the management of railroads and other great corporations; the completion of the Pacific cable; commercial treaties with Cuba and China; the creation of the Department of Commerce and Labor; the signing of a treaty of arbitration with Germany; the second peace-conference at The Hague (q. v.); financial control of Santo Domingo; the foundation of an American institute for the promotion of industrial peace between capital and labor; and the Pan-American Congress. In November of 1908 the United States entered into an agreement for protection of mutual rights and interests and the maintenance of national integrity and an open door in China. The most important political events and legislative acts of the next four years are summarized in the article on Mr. Taft. These include the Payne-Aldrich Tariff, the establishment of Postal Savings Banks and Parcel Post System. In 1913 a constitutional amendment was adopted providing for direct election of senators. The South has greatly developed its mineral resources, grows three times as much cotton as in 1860, and is promoting all other industries.

Books for Reading

Colonial Period (to 1760). Among general histories, which cover not only this period but others or the whole course of American history, the student should consult The American Commonwealth Series and the works of Bancroft, Bryant and Gay, Gilman, Higginson, Hildreth, McMaster, Rhodes, Schouler, Von Hoist and Winsor. Histories that deal specially with the colonies consist, among others, of Dodge's English Colonies, Doyle's English Colonies, John Fiske's works (named in the article on Fiske), Lodge's English Colonies, Marshall's History of the Colonies, Neill's English Colonization, Palfrey's History of New England and Parkman's works. The articles in this work on the separate states of the Union often mention books of reference. Nor should American chapters in The Cambridge Modern History be forgotten.

Revolutionary Era (to 1789). Channing and Hart's Guide to the Study of American History is helpful to start the study of the Revolution. Other helps are Fiske's American Revolution and Critical Period of American History; Carrington's Battles of the Revolution; Chalmers' Revolt of the Colonies; Dunning's Political Theories; Frothingham's Rise of the Republic; Hamilton's Federalist; Ludlow's War of Independence; Merriam's American Theories; Scott's Constitutional Liberty; Story's Commentaries; Sullivan's Antecedents of the Declaration; Willoughby's Nature of the State; and Winsor's Reader's Handbook. Lecky's History of England and Trevelyan's American Revolution give the English views.

The National Era (to date). Consult Bancroft (Geo.): History of the Constitution; Bancroft (H. H.): The Pacific States; Benton: Thirty Years' View; Blaine: Twenty Years of Congress; Bryce: The American Commonwealth (student's edition); Curtis: History of the Constitution; Davis, Jefferson: The Rise of the Confederate Government; Ely: The Labor Movement; Fiske: American Political Ideas; Foster: A Century of American Diplomacy; Hart: Foundations of American Foreign Policy; Jameson: The Constitutional Convention; Johnston (A.): American Politics; Kent: Commentaries; Lamphere: American Government; Macy: Civil Government, Institutional Beginnings, Our Government and Political Parties; Morse: Citizenship; Richardson: Messages and Papers of the Presidents; Roosevelt: Naval History and The Winning of the West; Stephens, A. C.: The War Between the States; Taussig: Protection; The Century Co.: Battles and Leaders of the Civil War; and Wilson, H. H.: The Rise and Fall of the Slave-Power. The American Statesmen Series also should be consulted; the writings of public men, as Grant or Washington; and public or official documents as well as such statistical works of private individuals as The Statesman's Year-Book.