Images de page

In the former instance, we find the question one of the acquisition of foreign territory bearing a foreign population with alien manners, laws, and language; the other was a matter of the organization of territory that belonged to the original States and was inhabited for the most part by men from those States. But the argument of expediency was, after all, the deciding one; and for a few millions of dollars, less, in fact, than the productions for one year of the least of the States formed from it, was the Louisiana Purchase made a part of the possessions of the United States.

The story of the exploration and settlement of this great territory is one that can be recounted in two ways: one, lightly, as a tale of adventure; and if so recounted, an author has a wide opportunity to hold the attention of the readers, for there is no more dramatic stage in national progress than the settlement of the Northwest Territory and the Louisiana Purchase by what has been aptly entitled the Westward Movement. By the second way, we may construct a narrative of as great interest as in the first case, but with the added advantage of strict adherence to historical method. Following this second plan, we divide the great migration into waves. The first of these brought to the West those pioneers who traversed the passes of the Alleghanies or followed the south-trending river valleys and planted the first settlements in that wide territory intervening between the mountains and Mississippi River. The next wave of these adventurers laid the foundations of the great States that now lie upon each side of Ohio River, and gave to the Northwest Territory that strong and deep-laid foundation that has preserved American institutions in the face of the great foreign influence that has for fifty years been pressing westward. The last of the great migrating movements is a strictly commercial one. It follows closely upon but is not a part of the exodus from the East that came in the fifties because of the discovery of gold in California, in the sixties to advance sectional principles, and in the seventies to win cheap lands, and it has no

connection with the foreign migration that has centred to a marked degree in Wisconsin, though it gave many inhabitants to the other States of the Northwest.

The account of these migrations is equalled in historical value, if not in popular regard, by the description of the manner in which State after State in the Northwest Territory and in the Louisiana Purchase developed from the first stage of Territorial government. This subject presents many features of interest. In every case, attendant conditions govern procedure; but, despite this, we are able to deduce certain general rules controlling the government of Territories and their creation into States. For this purpose a study of the Enabling Acts and the State constitutions is necessary, but the study is well repaid by the manner in which the knowledge thus gained makes clear the great movements by which the United States have gained in territory and strength-a strength arising as well from mental as material resources.

These subjects, the development of the trans-Alleghany States south of the Ohio, the settlement of the Northwest Territory and the formation of States from it, the purchase of Louisiana and the development of its States, the great migrations which have peopled these vast spaces of the West, the manner in which governmental forms have passed from the lowest territorial stage to statehood, and the general principles deducible from these progressions, are considered in the present volume, and the treatment given them is such as to win for Professor Geer's Louisiana Purchase and the Westward Movement a place of its own among historical works. It is therefore an especially useful volume of THE HISTORY OF NORTH AMERICA.

Johns Hopkins University.



THIS book is written to show how the country west of the original thirteen colonies became populated and how these western people established their governments. The attempt is made to present the essential elements in the changes which transformed a wilderness into self-governing States, and the processes are presented by which this was accomplished.

In passing into the Mississippi valley the institutions of the Atlantic States were modified so as to meet new conditions. Not only did the people who settled in the Mississippi valley meet changed circumstances to which they had to fit their institutions, but the nation faced a problem for which it did not find itself well prepared, and for which it had no precedents. It is not only of historic interest but of present-day importance to understand how the national government met the questions which came as a result of expansion. The growth of the West has influenced the nation as a whole. Changes in the interpretation of the Constitution were made to meet the unexpected conditions resulting from the westward movement; and men who were neither northern nor southern, but western, had a share in influencing the administration of national affairs.

An attempt is made to show how geographical conditions influenced the movement and spread of population. It is shown that the mountain barriers even in the south were not difficult to pass, and that the journey to the West from the northern States was much easier. The influence of the

rivers and their valleys' on the distribution of population is shown. Special emphasis is placed on the Mississippi, and its most important branch, historically, the Ohio. These two were the great highways of immigration and commerce till the coming of the railroads. The Lakes were important in the rapid settlement of the land beyond the Alleghanies and in its commercial development. The river system made this portion of the country a geographical unit with Mississippi River as the natural centre. Some consideration is given to the effect which this fact has had upon the political development of the West.

This book is the history of a movement and not of a single period. While there are years which are marked by a large migration to the West, there is no one decade of which westward expansion is the characteristic. Settlements over the mountains began before the Declaration of Independence was signed. The movement to the West has continued to this day. There are certain events which have given added impulse to it. These are given consideration. The object has been to survey the movement as a whole. In an attempt of this kind in which no one section of the country is considered, and which does not confine itself to one period, it is necessary that territory must be traversed which is covered by other writers in the series. It is believed that this will be an advantage because in every case the author has treated these subjects in their bearing upon the general theme of westward movement.

In any study of this question it is only natural that the Louisiana Purchase should occupy a large place. It was our first and greatest land purchase, and has influenced our history more deeply than any other event since the adoption of the Constitution. Special attention has been given to the political and constitutional aspects of the Purchase and the views of contemporary statesmen.

It is hoped that this work may add to the increasing interest in western history. Too often in school and college the history of the United States is taught as if the

nation was still situated east of the Alleghanies, and that such matters as the conquest of the Northwest and the Louisiana Purchase were of little importance. The development of American ideas of government and political life cannot be understood until they are studied not only in the place of their origin, but where they have had the best opportunity for growth, in the States of the Mississippi valley. CURTIS M. GEER.

Hartford, Connecticut.

« PrécédentContinuer »