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country was already very large, the time was near when it was going to be even larger still.
It seems that, during Jackson's rule, a party of Indians traveled from Oregon to St. Louis, in quest of the " white man's Bible." They had heard of it from some traders, and the stories seemed so wonderful that they had journeyed many miles to get the book and some one to read and explain it to them.
It happened, however, that the people whom they asked
for it were too busy or indifferent to pay much attention to this request from savages. Still, they kindly fed and clothed the Indians, and gave them many presents. After three of the messengers had died of fatigue and disappointment, the last sadly went home to tell his people that no one would listen to his prayer. The story of the long journey taken by these Indians, and of their pitiful
requests, was told in the East, where it Emigrant and Prairie , , , . . .
Schooner. touched the hearts of many people
Before long four missionaries were sent out to Oregon, to tell the Indians about the " white man's book."
Two of these men set out with young brides, and journeyed slowly all the way across our continent. They traveled the greater part of the way in an emigrant wagon, or "prairie schooner," and, coming to the foot of the Rockies, were the first to take a wagon over those mountains. When they reached the Oregon country, which Americans and British still occupied in common, they found that the latter were trying to get sole possession of the land. Still, the Americans claimed that Oregon should belong to them, not only because Captain Gray first sailed into the Columbia River, but because Lewis and Clark explored it from the mountains to the sea, and Astor built the first trading post there.
After living at Wal-la-wal'la five years, one of the American missionaries, Dr. Marcus Whitman, heard that the British were about to send many settlers into the Oregon country, and then claim it as theirs, on the ground that there were more English than Americans living there. This news was told at a British trading post, where it was received with loud hurrahs, for the British thought they had got the best of the Americans at last.
Now, Dr. Whitman knew that the United States was then settling boundaries with Great Britain. He thought that if he could only get to Washington in time to tell the President and Senate what a beautiful and rich country Oregon really was, and how easily emigrants could reach it, they would not be willing to give it up without making an effort to keep it. Riding back to his farm in hot haste, he therefore told his wife and friends
that he was going to start for Washington, and shortly after set out for a five months' ride. It was autumn when Dr. Whitman left home, and as he knew the season would not allow him to pass over the mountains by the way he had come, he journeyed farther south.
Through blinding snow and deep drifts, across frozen streams, and over mountains so steep and rough that it seemed almost impossible to climb them at all, Whitman made his way. After thrilling adventures with wolves and bears, and many hairbreadth escapes, he reached Great Salt Lake, then Santa V6, and, following the trail from there, came to St. Louis. Thence it was easy to reach Washington, where he told both President and Congress all about Oregon, and offered to lead a train of emigrants into that territory.
By the Ash'bur-ton treaty, which had just been signed with Great Britain, the boundary between Maine and New Bruns'wick had been settled. But, fortunately, nothing had been said about Oregon. The news of Whitman's daring ride, and of his desire to people Oregon with Americans, rapidly spread all over the country. Before long, many pioneers were ready to accompany him, and when he began his return journey two hundred emigrant wagons followed him across the plains and over the mountains.
Although the British made sundry attempts to stop them, they were followed by so many others that, three years after Whitman's famous ride, no less than twelve thousand Americans had passed into Oregon. Our countrymen thus proved so much more numerous than the English that they soon claimed the whole territory, asking that the boundary be drawn at the parallel of 540 40'. The British, however, did not wish to give up so much land. So, before long, a quarrel arose, and the Americans began to cry that they would fight Great Britain unless it consented to what they wished.
Many people justly considered that this was a very foolish way of acting, and Webster made one of his fine speeches to show both parties that it would be wiser to settle the dispute in another way. After a great deal of talk, and many threats about " fifty-four forty or fight," the United States finally thought best to accept the 49th parallel as its northern boundary from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean (1846).
XXIII. THE MORMONS.
EACH state in our Union is allowed to govern itself by any set of laws it pleases, provided these laws do not conflict with the Constitution of the United States, which all are equally bound to obey.
In 1841 the people of Rhode Island were not satisfied with their state constitution, because, among other things which they did not like, it said only property owners could vote. It was therefore agreed that a new constitution or set of laws should be made, and when that was done the people chose Thomas W. Dorr for governor.
But the old governor, Samuel W. King, refused to give up his place to Dorr, and said the new constitution should not be obeyed, because it had not been adopted by vote
STO. OF GT. REP.—8
of the property owners. As Governor Dorr and his party would not listen to this, and tried to seize the state arms, there was some trouble in Rhode Island. Although Dorr himself was caught and put in prison, the "Dorr Rebellion," as it is called, went on until the property owners adopted a new and better constitution.
At about the same time the tenants of some great landholders in New York also revolted, saying they would not pay rent. But when they threatened to make serious trouble, troops were sent to put an end to what is known as the Hel'der-berg War. The soldiers were called out, because, although people in the United States are free, they are not allowed to disobey the laws made by the greatest number.
Minds were very active at this time, and many people talked of their theories of life. You will not be surprised, therefore, to hear that a Scotchman, Robert O'wen, said that all men ought to live exactly alike. He declared there should be no rich or poor people, and that all kinds of work should earn the same pay. Thinking this could be managed, he bought land in several states, and started what were known as "Owenite communities." But although his ideas sounded very well, the people soon grew tired of living all alike and having everything in common. The Owenite communities therefore broke up, after having lasted only a few years.
Another man, named Joseph Smith, claimed, in 1827, to have been helped by an angel to find the " Book of Mor'mon," which is an account of a people chosen by God to live in America, many hundreds of years ago. The book was said to have been written on golden plates, in a language which