Tag Archives: American exceptionality

Hunting a Panther

Audubon as an Older Man

AUDUBON was traveling in the woods inMissis­sippi. He found the little cabin of a settler. He stayed there for the night. The settler told him that there was a panther in the swamp near his house. A panther is a very large and fierce ani­mal. It is large enough to kill a man. This was a very bad panther. It had killed some of the settler’s dogs.

Audubon said, “Let us hunt this panther, and kill it.”

So the settler sent out for his neighbors to come and help kill the panther. Five men came. Au­dubon and the settler made seven. They were all on horseback. When they came to the edge of the swamp, each man went a different way. They each took their dogs with them to find the track of the wild beast All of the hunters carried horns. Whoever should find the track first was to blow his horn to let the others know.

In about two hours after they had started, they heard the sound of a horn. It told them that the track had been found. Every man now went toward the sound of the horn. Soon all the yelping dogs were following the track of the fierce panther. The panther was running into the swamp farther and farther.

I suppose that the panther thought that there were too many dogs and men for him to fight. All the hunters came after the dogs. They held their guns ready to shoot if the panther should make up his mind to fight them.After a while the sound of the dogs’ voices changed. The hunters knew from this that the panther had stopped running, and gone up into a tree. At last the men came to the place where the dogs were. They were all barking round a tree. Far up in the tree was the dangerous beast. The hunters came up carefully. One of them fired. The bullet hit the panther, but did not kill him. The panther sprang to the ground, and ran off again. The dogs ran after. The men got on their horses, and rode after. But the horses were tired, and the men had to get down, and follow the dogs on foot.

The hunters now had to wade through little ponds of water. Sometimes they had to climb over fallen trees. Their clothes were badly torn by the bushes. After two hours more, they came to a place where the panther had again gone up into a tree. This time three of the hunters shot at him. The fierce panther came tumbling to the ground. But he was still able to fight. The men fought the savage beast on all sides. At last they killed him. Then they gave his skin to the settler. They wanted him to know that his enemy was dead.

SOURCE:  Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans                                                      By Samuel Eggleston                                                                                                           American Book Co  1893                                                                                                       Digitized by Google                                                                                                                 Available for free download from Google Books

Tomorrow, Captain Clark’s Burning Glass        Rita Bay

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How Audubon Came to Know About Birds

Audubon

JOHN JAMES AUDUBON (1785-1851) knew more about the birds of this country than any man had ever known before. He was born in the State of Louisiana. (Rita Bay note: Louisiana didn’t become a state until 1812.) His father took him to France when he was a boy. He went to school in France.

Little John James was fond of studying about wild animals. But most of all he wished to know about birds. Seeing that the boy liked such things, his father took pains to get birds and flowers for him. While he was yet a boy at school, he began to gather birds and other animals for himself. He learned to skin and stuff them. But his stuffed birds did not please him. Their feathers did not look bright, like those of live birds. He wanted living birds to study.

His father told him that he could not keep so many birds alive. To please the boy he got him a book with pictures in it. Looking at these pictures made John James wish to draw. He thought that he could make pictures that would look like the live birds. But when he tried to paint a picture of a bird, it looked worse than his stuffed birds. The birds he drew were not much like real birds. He called them a “family of cripples.” As often as his birth­day came round, he made a bon-fire of his bad pic­tures. Then he would begin over again.

All this time he was learning to draw birds. But he was not willing to make pictures that were not just like the real birds. So when he grew to be a man he went to a great French painter whose name was David. David taught him to draw and paint things as they are. Then he came back to this country, and lived awhile in Pennsylvania. Here his chief study was the wild creatures of the woods. He gathered many eggs of birds. He made pictures of these eggs. He did not take birds’ eggs to break up the nests. He was not cruel. He took only what he needed to study.

Golden Eagle by Audubon

He would make two little holes in each egg. Then he would shake the egg, or stir it up with a little stick or straw, or a long pin. This would break up the inside of the egg. Then he would blow into one of the holes. That would blow the inside of the egg out through the other hole. These egg shells he strung together by running strings through the holes. He hung these strings of egg shells all over the walls of his room. On the mantelpiece he put the stuffed skins of squir­rels, raccoons, opossums, and other small animals. On the shelves his friends could see frogs, snakes, and other animals.

He married a young lady, and brought her to live in this museum with his dead snakes, frogs, and strings of birds’ eggs. She liked what he did, and was sure that he would come to be a great man.

He made up his mind to write a great book about American birds. He meant to tell all about the birds in one book. Then in another book he would print pictures of the birds, just as large as the birds themselves. He meant to have them look just like the birds. To do this he must travel many thousands of miles. He must live for years almost all of the time in the woods. He would have to find and shoot the birds, in order to make pictures of them. And he must see how the birds lived, and how they built their nests, so that he could tell all about them. It would take a great deal of work and trouble. But he was not afraid of trouble.

That was many years ago. Much of our country was then covered with great trees. Audubon sometimes went in a boat down a lonesome river. Sometimes he rode on horseback. Often he had to travel on foot through woods where there were no roads. Many a time he had to sleep out of doors. He lost his money and became poor. Sometimes he had to paint portraits to get money to live on. Once he turned dancing master for a while. But he did not give up his great idea. He still studied birds, and worked to make his books about Ameri­can birds. His wife went to teaching to help make a living.

After years of hard work, he made paintings of nearly a thousand birds. That was almost enough for his books. But, while he was traveling, two large rats got into the box in which he kept his pictures. They cut up all his paintings with their teeth, and made a nest of the pieces. This almost broke his heart for a while. For many nights he could not sleep, because he had lost all his work.

But he did not give up. After some days he took his gun, and went into the woods. He said to himself, ” I will begin over again. I can make better paintings than those that the rats spoiled.” But it took him four long years and a half to find the birds, and make the pictures again. He was so careful to have his drawings just like the birds, that he would measure them in every way. Thus he made his pictures just the size of the birds themselves.

At last the great books were printed. In this country, in France, and in England, people praised the wonderful books. They knew that Audubon was indeed a great man.

SOURCE:  Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans                                                      By Samuel Eggleston                                                                                                           American Book Co  1893                                                                                                       Digitized by Google                                                                                                                 Available for free download from Google Books

Tomorrow, Audubon in the Woods    Rita Bay

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Boston’s First Governor

BEFORE the white people came, there were no houses in this country but the little huts of the Indians. The Indian houses were made of bark, or mats, or skins, spread over poles.

Gov John Winthrop

Some people came to one part of the country. Others started settlements in other place. When more people came, some of these settlements grew into towns. The woods were cut down. Farms were planted. Roads were made. But it took many years for the country to fill with people.

The first white people that came to live in the woods where Boston is now, settled there a long time ago. They had a governor over them. He was a good man, and did much for the people. His name was John Winthrop.

The first thing the people had to do was to cut down the trees. After that they could plant corn. But at first they could not raise anything to eat. They had brought flour and oatmeal fromEng­land. But they found that it was not enough to last till they could raise corn on their new ground.Winthropsent a ship to get more food for them. The ship was gone a long time. The people ate up all their food. They were hungry. They went to the seashore, and found clams and mussels. They were glad to get these to eat.

Governor Winthrop

At last they set a day for everybody to fast and pray for food. The governor had a little flour left. Nearly all of this was made into bread, and put into the oven to bake. He did not know when he would get any more. Soon after this a poor man came along. His flour was all gone. His bread had all been eaten up. His family was hungry. The governor gave the poor man the very last flour that he had in the barrel. Just then a ship was seen. It sailed up’ toward Boston. It was loaded with food for all the people. The time for the fast day came. But there was now plenty of food. The fast day was turned into a thanks-giving day.

One day a man sent a very cross letter to Gov­ernor Winthrop. Winthrop sent it back to him. He said, ” I cannot keep a letter that might make me angry.” Then the man that had written the cross letter wrote to Winthrop, “By conquering yourself, you have conquered me.”

SOURCE:  Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans                                                      By Samuel Eggleston                                                                                                           American Book Co  1893                                                                                                       Digitized by Google                                                                                                                 Available for free download from Google Books

Tomorrow, The Birdman   Rita Bay

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A Long Journey

Lewis and Clark

A long time ago, when Thomas Jefferson was President, most of the people in this country lived in the East. Nobody knew anything about the Far West. The only people that lived there were Indians. Many of these Indians had never seen a white man.

President Jefferson sent men to travel into this wild part of the country. He told them to go up to the upper end of the Missouri River. Then they were to go across the Rocky Mountains. They were to keep on till they got to the Pacific Ocean. Then they were to come back again. They were to find out the best way to get through the mountains. And they were to find out what kind of people the Indians in that country were. They were also to tell about the animals.

Map of Louisiana Purchase

There were two captains of this company. Their names were Lewis and Clark. There were forty-five men in the party. They were gone two years and four months. For most of that time they did not see any white men but their own party. They did not hear a word from home for more than two years.

They got their food mostly by hunting. They killed a great many buffaloes and elks and deer. They also shot wild geese and other large birds. Sometimes they had nothing but fish to eat. Some­times they had to eat wolves. When they had no other meat, they were glad to buy dogs from the Indians and eat them. Sometimes they ate horses. They became fond of the meat of dogs and horses.

Lewis & Clark Expedition

When they were very hungry, they had to live on roots if they could get them. Some of the Indians made a kind of bread out of roots. The white men bought this when they could not get meat. But there were days when they did not have anything to eat.

They were very friendly with the Indians. One day some of the men went to an Indian village something to eat. The Indians gave them meat to eat. In the Indian wig­wam where they were, there was a head of a dead buffalo. When dinner was over, the Indians filled a bowl full of meat. They set this down in front of the head. Then they said to the head, “Eat that.” The Indians be­lieved that, if they treated this buffalo head politely, the live buffaloes would come to their hunting ground. Then they would have plenty of meat to eat.

SOURCE:  Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans                                                      By Samuel Eggleston                                                                                                           American Book Co  1893                                                                                                       Digitized by Google                                                                                                                 Available for free download from Google Books

Tomorrow, Another Hero       Rita Bay

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Colonel Clark Conquers Kaskaskia

Col George Rogers Clark

AT the time of the Revolution there were but few people living on the north side of the Ohio River. But there were many Indians there. These Indians killed a great many white people inKen­tucky. The Indians were sent by British officers to do this killing. There was a British fort at Vin­cennes in what is now Indiana. There was another British fort or post at Kaskaskia in what is now the State of Illinois.

George Rogers Clark was an American colonel. He wanted to stop the murder of the settlers by the Indians. He thought that he could do it by taking the British posts. He had three hundred men. They went down the Ohio River in boats. They landed near the mouth of the Ohio River. Then they marched a hundred and thirty miles to Kaskaskia. Kaskaskia was far away from the Americans.

Fort Kaskaskia

The people there did not think that the Americans would come so far to attack them. When Clark got there, they were all asleep. He marched in and took the town before they waked up. The people living in Kaskaskia were French. By treating them well, Clark made them all friendly to the Americans.

When the British at Vincennes heard that Clark had taken Kaskaskia, they thought that they would take it back again. But it was winter. All the streams were full of water. They could not march till spring. Then they would gather the Indians to help them, and take Clark and his men.

But Clark thought that he would not wait to be taken. He thought that he would just go and take the British. If he could manage to get to Vin­cennes in the winter, he would not be expected. Clark started with a hundred and seventy men. The country was nearly all covered with water. The men were in the wet almost all the time. Clark had hard work to keep his men cheerful. He did everything he could to amuse them.

They had to wade through deep rivers. The water was icy cold. But Clark made a joke of it. He kept them laughing whenever he could. At one place the men refused to go through the freezing water. Clark could not persuade them to cross the river. He called to him a tall soldier. He was the very tallest man in Clark’s little army. Clark said to him, “Take the little drummer boy on your shoulders.” The little drummer was soon seated high on the shoulders of the tall man. ” Now go ahead!” said Clark. The soldier marched into the water. The little drummer beat a march on his drum. Clark cried out, “Forward!” Then he plunged into the water after the tall soldier. All the men went in after him. They were soon safe on the other side.

At another river the little drummer was floated over on the top of his drum. At last the men drew near to Vincennes. They could hear the morning and evening gun in the British fort. But the worst of the way was yet to pass. The Wabash River had risen over its banks. The water was five miles wide. The men marched from one high ground to another through the cold water. They caught an Indian with a canoe. In this they got across the main river. But there was more water to cross. The men were so hungry that some of them fell down in the water. They had to be carried out.

Clark’s men got frightened at last, and then they had no heart to go any farther. But Clark re­membered what the Indians did when they went to war. He took a little gunpowder in his hand. He poured water on it. Then he rubbed it on his face. It made his face black. With his face blackened like an Indian’s, he gave an Indian war-whoop. The men followed him again.

The men were tired and hungry. But they soon reached dry ground. They were now in sight of the fort. Clark marched his little army round and round in such a way as to make it seem that he had many men with him. He wrote a fierce letter to the British commander. He behaved like a general with a large army. After some fighting, the British commander gave up. Clark’s little army took the British fort. This brave action saved to our country the land that lies between the Ohio River and the Lakes. It stopped the sending of Indians to kill the settlers in the West.

SOURCE:  Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans                                                      By Samuel Eggleston                                                                                                           American Book Co  1893                                                                                                       Digitized by Google                                                                                                                 Available for free download from Google Books

Tomorrow, A Long Journey   Rita Bay

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Thomas Jefferson: The Patriot

The following is a century-old story from a children’s reader.

Thomas Jefferson

THOMAS JEFFERSON was one of the great men of the Revolution. He was not a soldier. He was not a great speaker. But he was a great thinker. And he was a great writer. He wrote a paper that was the very beginning of the United States. It was a paper that said that we would be free from England, and be a country by ourselves. We call that paper the Decla­ration of Independence.

When he was a boy, Jefferson was fond of playing. But when he was tired of play, he took up a book. It pleased him to learn things. From the time when he was a boy he never sat down to rest without a book.

At school he learned what other boys did. But the difference between him and most other boys was this: he did not stop with knowing just what the other boys knew. Most boys want to learn what other boys learn. Most girls would like to know what their schoolmates know. But Jefferson wanted to know a great deal more.

As a young man, Jefferson knew Latin and Greek. He also knew French and Spanish and Italian. He did not talk to show off what he knew. He tried to learn what other people knew. When he talked to a wagon maker, he asked him about such things as a wagon maker knows most about. He would sometimes ask how a wagon maker would go to work to make a wheel.

When Jefferson talked to a learned man, he asked him about those things that this man knew most about. When he talked with Indians, he got them to tell him about their language. That is the way he came to know so much about so many things. Whenever anybody told him anything worth while, he wrote it down as soon as he could.

One day Jefferson was traveling. He went on horseback. That was a common way of traveling at that time. He stopped at a country tavern. At this tavern he talked with a stranger who was staying there.

After a while Jefferson rode away. Then the stranger said to the landlord, “Who is that man? He knew so much about law, that I was sure he was a lawyer. But when we talked about medicine, he knew so much about that, that I thought he must be a doctor. And after a while he seemed to know so much about religion, that I was sure he was a min­ister. Who is he? ”

The stranger was very much surprised to hear that the man he had talked with was Jefferson. Jefferson was a very polite man. In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote these words : “All men are created equal.” He also said that the poor man had the same right as the rich man to live, and to be free, and to try to make himself happy.

SOURCE:  Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans                                                      By Samuel Eggleston                                                                                                           American Book Co  1893                                                                                                       Digitized by Google                                                                                                                 Available for free download from Google Books

Tomorrow, Men on a Mission     Rita Bay

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The Swamp Fox

The picture above is the famous 1876 Courier & Ives print of White’s painting of The Sweet Potato Dinner. The painting commemorated the meeting between Marion and a British officer to negotiate a prisoner exchange. The meal offered the officer was a sweet potato dinner – that was all they had to eat.  General Marion was a hero of the Revolutionary War. His unconventional tactics earned him the name “Swamp Fox.”

General Francis Marion

General Marion was one of the best fighters in the Revolution. He was a homely little man. He was also a very good man. Another general said, “Marion is good all over.” The American army had been beaten in South Carolina. Marion was sent there to keep the British from taking the whole country. Marion got together a little army. His men had nothing but rough clothes to wear. They had no guns but the old ones they had used to shoot wild ducks and deer with.Marion’s men wanted swords. There were no swords to be had. But Marion sent men to take the long saws out of the saw mills. These were taken to blacksmiths. The blacksmiths cut the saws into pieces. These pieces they hammered out into long, sharp swords.

Marion had not so many men as the British. He had no cannon. He could not build forts. He could not stay long in one place, for fear the British should come with a strong army and take him. He and his men hid in the dark woods. Sometimes he changed his hiding place suddenly. Even his own friends had hard work to find him.

From the dark woods he would come out sud­denly. He would attack some party of British soldiers. When the battle was over, he would go back to the woods again. When the British sent a strong army to catch him, he could not be found. But soon he would be fighting the British in some new place. He was always playing hide and seek. The British called him the Swamp Fox. That was because he was so hard to catch. They could not conquer the country until they could catch Marion. And they never could catch the Swamp Fox.

At one time Marion came out of the woods to take a little British fort. This fort was on the top of a high mound. It was one of the mounds built a long time ago by the Indians. Marion put his men all round the fort, so that the men in the fort could not get out to get water. He thought that they would have to give up. But the men in the fort dug a well inside the fort. Then Marion had to think of another plan.

Marion’s men went to the woods and cut down stout poles. They got a great many poles. When night came, they laid a row of poles along-side one another on the ground. Then they laid another row across these. Then they laid another row on top of the last ones, and across the other way again. They laid a great many rows of poles one on top of another. They crossed them this way and that. As Marion’s Tower. The night went on, the pile grew higher. Still they handed poles top of the pile. Before morning came, they had built a kind of tower. It was higher than the Indian mound.  As soon as it was light, the men on Marion’s tower began to shoot. The British looked out. They saw a great tower with men on it. The men could shoot down into the fort. The British could not stand it. They had to give up. They were taken prisoners.

SOURCE:  Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans                                                      By Samuel Eggleston                                                                                                           American Book Co  1893                                                                                                       Digitized by Google                                                                                                                 Available for free download from Google Books

Tomorrow, Another Hero    Rita Bay

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The Star-Spangled Banner

Francis Scott Key

Happy Fourth of July!!  Meet Francis Scott Key, a young lawyer from Maryland. In 1814 towards the end of the War of 1812, Key who was a lawyer and an amateur poet was negotiating a prisoner exchange with the British.  He was aboard the HMS Tonnant on the night of September 13 and 14 when the British fleet bombarded Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

Through the rockets red glare and the bombs bursting in air, Key was able to see that the American flag at Fort McHenry was still waving and reported it to the American prisoners below deck.  The experience inspired Key to write and publish the poem “The Defence of Fort McHenry”, which was published on September 20, 1814. It was placed to music and has become known as “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Fort McHenry

The first and last of the four stanzas are provided below.  The fourth stanza (seldom read and never sung) epitomizes the concepts of American exceptionality, reliance on God and appreciation for God-given liberties which, though profound beliefs of American citizens for more than two centuries, have been questioned by some today.


The Star-Spangled Banner

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The original Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired Key, is one of the most treasured artifacts in the collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington,D.C.

To read more about Key and the Star Spangled Banner:  http://francisscottkey.com/

 

Tomorrow, The First Official Flag         Rita Bay

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Washington on God & American Exceptionalism

     General George Washington resigned his commission as Commander-in-Chief of the Army to the Congress in 1783. His resignation established civilian rather than military rule, leading to democracy rather than potential dictatorship. He presided over the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and was elected President in 1789, the only president unanimously elected by the US Electoral College.  His inauguration was held at the Federal Hall in New York City.  Below is the wordy excerpt of Washington’s First Inaugural Address relating to God and country which may have set out the concept of  American exceptionality.  Tomorrow, George’s love letter to Martha.  Rita Bay 

 “Fellow Citizens of the Senate and the House of Representatives”      

     Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station; it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free Government can more auspiciously commence.
By the article establishing the Executive Department, it is made the duty of the President “to recommend to your consideration, such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” The circumstances under which I now meet you, will acquit me from entering into that subject, farther than to refer to the Great Constitutional Charter under which you are assembled; and which, in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your attention is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circumstances, and far more congenial with the feelings which actuate me, to substitute, in place of a recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt them. In these honorable qualifications, I behold the surest pledges, that as on one side, no local prejudices, or attachments; no seperate views, nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests: so, on another, that the foundations of our National policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality; and the pre-eminence of a free Government, be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its Citizens, and command the respect of the world.
I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my Country can inspire: since there is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity: Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained: And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”

Read the full text of the speech here: http://www.archives.gov/legislative/features/gw-inauguration/

 

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