« ZurückWeiter »
visited by an American in 1792, for Captain Gray had then sailed into its mouth, giving it the name borne by his ship. It seems that this seaman went there to get furs, intending to exchange them for tea in China, and to bring the latter cargo back to Boston. It was because the valley of the Columbia was first explored by Gray, Lewis, and Clark, who were all three loyal Americans, that it was later claimed by the United States when Great Britain tried to take it.
After spending the winter at the mouth of the Columbia, where he and his men lived principally upon elk and salmon, Lewis and Clark made their way over the Rockies to St. Louis, which they reached after an absence of two years and four months. During that time they had learned a great deal about the geography of the western part of our country, and the report they made showed President and Congress what a rich and beautiful country it really is.
Still, at that time people knew very little about any but the eastern part, and even the source of the Mississippi had never been visited. Hoping to find out where it was, Congress sent Zebulon Pike to look for it. He traced a stream, which he wrongly took for the beginning of the "Father of Waters," in a hard journey of more than eight months. Then, in 1806, he started on a new expedition up the Missouri. Crossing to the Arkansas (ar'kan-saw) River, he saw the peak now bearing his name, and in looking for the Red River came to the Rio Grande (re'o grahn'da).
This proved a long, painful, and heroic journey. The snow lay upon the ground several feet deep; the explorers often lacked food, and, losing their way in the trackless mountains, they would have perished of cold and hunger, had it not been for the instinct of their horses and mules. Even when Pike and his party reached the Rio Grande, their troubles were not over, for they fell into the hands of the Spaniards. Taken as spies to Santa Fe (sahn'tah fa'), they proved that it was all a mistake, and, being set free, returned home.
Pike, Lewis, and Clark spoke so warmly of the fine hunting grounds they had seen that John Jacob As'tor, a fur trader in New York, decided to found a trading post on the Pacific. He therefore sent out a party, which crossed the continent and built a fort called Astoria, at the mouth of the Columbia River. The adventures of this party were described by Washington Irving, an American author. He gives a charming account of the long journey across the plains, of the buffalo hunting, and of many encounters with the Indians, besides telling us about the life at Astoria, the first American settlement on the Pacific coast.
X. OUR WAR AGAINST AFRICAN PIRATES.
THE purchase of Louisiana, and the explorations of Pike, Lewis, and Clark, were not the only important and interesting events during Jefferson's two terms as President of the United States. He also had to make war against the pirates living on the northern coast of Africa and belonging to the Bar'ba-ry States, or Algiers, Tu'nis, Trip'o-li, and Mo-roc'co.
For many years these pirates had attacked any Vessel they met in the Mediterranean. Generally it was only to demand a certain sum of money, but if the captain either could not or would not pay it, they often sank the vessel after robbing it, or towed it into one of their harbors, where they sold the crew into captivity.
The people of northern Africa were Mus'sul-mans, and for that reason hated all Christians. Captive sailors were therefore often treated with the greatest cruelty. European countries, wishing to trade in the Mediterranean, had learned to fear these pirates so greatly that they actually paid the Barbary rulers large sums for leaving their ships alone. As we have seen, our government followed their example in the treaty made with Algiers in 1795.
In 1800, one of our brave naval officers, William Bain'bridge, was sent to carry the agreed tribute to the dey of Algiers. While he was in the harbor, directly under the guns of the fortress, the dey suddenly ordered him to carry an ambassador to Con-stan-ti-no'ple, flying the Alge-rine' flag at his masthead. Bainbridge refused, saying that the Americans were not the dey's slaves. But the pirate haughtily answered: "You pay me tribute, by which you become my slaves, and therefore I have a right to order you as I think proper."
As the guns of the fort were pointed straight at him, and resistance would bring about the destruction of his ship and slavery for his crew, Bainbridge had no choice but to obey. But as soon as he was out of gunshot, and long before he had lost sight of Algiers, he ordered the dey's flag hauled down and again hoisted our stars and stripes.
Of course, Bainbridge was very indignant at the way his country had been treated, and complained to the sultan at Constantinople. The sultan did not approve of what the dey had done, and gave Bainbridge full power to force the dey to give up all his American prisoners without asking any ransom in exchange. While still in Constantinople, Bainbridge wrote home, saying: "I hope I shall never again be sent to Algiers with tribute unless I am authorized to deliver it from the mouth of our cannon."
The insulting and treacherous behavior of Algiers and the other Barbary States roused the anger of our countrymen. But Jefferson once remarked that what had happened proved the truth of Franklin's famous words: "If you make yourself a sheep, the wolves will eat you," and declared that no more tribute should be paid.
In the meantime, the ruler or bashaw of Tripoli, hearing that Algiers received tribute from America, wanted some too. So, in 1800, he demanded money, threatening war unless it was paid. The United States, instead of sending it, merely waited until the bashaw declared war, and then sent a squardon to the Mediterranean. On the way thither,
it captured a Tri-pol'i-tan pirate ship, and, appearing off Tripoli, began to blockade the port, to the bashaw's dismay. As our navy was very weak, and the Tripolitan harbor was defended by one hundred and fifteen guns, nineteen gunboats, and about twenty-five thousand soldiers, it could not do more, and the war dragged on some time without any great event.
But in 1803 the Philadelphia, under Captain Bainbridge, while pursuing a Tripolitan gunboat, suddenly ran upon a rock not marked upon any chart. The American seamen frantically tried to get her off; then, seeing it was in vain, they made an attempt to scuttle their ship. But, in spite of their efforts, the Philadelphia was seized by the enemy, who towed her into the harbor of Tripoli, intending to change her into a pirate ship.
Bainbridge and all his men were made prisoners, and kept in Tripoli, where they were treated very unkindly for many months. But, although a prisoner, Bainbridge managed to send a letter to Pre'ble, another American officer, who was then cruising about the Mediterranean.
In this letter, Bainbridge told the Americans what the pirates were doing to the Philadelphia, and suggested that our men should rescue or destroy her rather than see her put to so shameful a use. Preble talked the matter over with his officers, and they decided that it would be impossible to rescue the ship with their small force. Among these officers was Stephen, Decatur, who was such a patriot that when asked to give a toast at a public dinner he proudly cried: "Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong!"