Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Texas Independence

The Texans captured a fort called the Alamo in San Antonio. This made Santa Anna mad, so he took an army to San Antonio.

The Texans took shelter in the Alamo when they saw Santa Anna's incoming army.

They surrounded the Alamo and Santa Anna demanded they surrender. A man by the name of William Travis responded by firing a cannon at them.

The Mexicans responded with 12 days and nights of cannon fire. Eventually the Mexicans stormed the Alamo and killed all 200 of the defenders inside.

The Alamo is now a tourist attraction in San Antonio...and Pee Wee Herman traveled to this location in his movie, Pee Wee's Big Adventure.


While the Alamo was happening, a group of Texans were writing up a Texas Declaration of Independence and Constitution. They were really over being part of Mexico.

After a lot of fighting and retreating, the Texans and Mexicans met at San Jacinto. The Texans were victorious while shouting...

Not only did the Texans win at San Jacinto, they also captured Santa Anna and forced him to sign a treaty that ended the war and would also recognize Texas's independence. Also, for good measure, a regiment from Illinois took Santa Ana's fake leg.

Even though the Texans won, Mexico would not honor the treaty because Santa Anna was a POW (prisoner of war) at the time.

If you are wondering, Santa Anna never got his leg back, it is still in Illinois and can be viewed at The Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield Illinois!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Texas Revolution

Mexico decided it was time to get a better handle on Texas.

Mexico halted immigration, put a high tariff on American imports, and banned slavery. Troops were sent in to collect taxes.

Even though the United States had previously dropped its claim to Texas, the Mexicans did not trust the United States.

The United States offered Mexico $1 million for Texas, Mexico refused. It was now apparent that the United States really did want Texas.

Things became tense, Stephen Austin was jailed, people were killed and to make things worse, new president Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana banned militias and then things got crazy.

The war started over a cannon. It was Mexico's cannon, it was probably a very nice cannon so Mexico wanted their cannon back. Texas refused to give it back and they decided to taunt the Mexicans with a flag like this...

The Mexicans attacked and the Revolution had begun.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Something Strange Afoot in Texas

The United States was growing and more places were being settled. Another place Americans were settling was Texas, but Texas didn't belong to us, it belonged to Spain.

Moses Austin approached the Spanish and asked if he could set up a colony in Texas, they agreed. Before the colony was officially set up though, Moses died. His son Stephen Austin (his friends called him Stone Cold) finished the colony for him.

The population of this colony was 1,800 which included 400 slaves.

Eventually, Mexico earned its independence from Spain so Texas was controlled by Mexico. They had no problem with these Americans settling in Texas as long as they did a few things. First, they had to give up their American citizenship, then swear allegiance to Mexico. They were also required to become Catholic and hold their land for at least seven years.

Of course, no one really did these things, how silly?

The Mexican government was a bit nervous about the settlers loyalty to America, so they sent in General Manuel de Mier y Teran to check things out.

The General went back to Mexico and told the government that they might want to do something about Texas.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Gold Rush and the Pony Express!

Another event that sent people west was the Gold Rush. In 1848 gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill.

Word spread and in 1849 there were 80,000 people looking for gold in California.

Remember the Rush-Bagot Treaty? The one that settled issues over the Great Lakes and boarders? Well since then the United States and Canada both controlled Oregon, but Polk wanted all of Oregon. So he came up with a catchy slogan, "54 40' or Fight!"

This meant that Polk wanted all of the Oregon Country and would fight to get it. No fighting occurred and the boarder between the United States and Canada was set at the 49th parallel, which is still the boarder today!

So, when that many people are flocking out west, how would they communicate with friends and family?! Well the Pny Express of course!

Unfortunately the Pony Express became a little obsolete due to the telegraph, an invention by Samuel F.B. Morse. This made it possible for people to communicate by tapping out messages and sending them through electricity!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Manifest Destiny

After Jackson's presidency came Martin Van Buren, he was known as the Little Magician. After Van Buren was William Henry Harrison, he wasn't president for long because he thought it would be a good idea to give a very long inauguration speech in the cold without a coat or a hat.

Harrison got sick...and died.

Then there was John Tyler, he....ummm...?

After Tyler was James K. Polk and he had the urge to head west.

Many settlers also got itchy feet and wanted to head west. Why? Because of Manifest Destiny!

this was the idea that it was the God given right for the United States to stretch from sea to shining sea!

Other reasons were to convert Indians to Christianity, to make money, and in the case of the Mormons, to find a place where people would leave them alone.

There were three main trails that people used to cross the Rocky Mountains. The first was the Santa Fe Trail. This trail started in Independence Missouri and ended at Santa Fe, New Mexico. It took about two months to get there.

The Oregon Trail was the longest and most famous [51]. This trail also started in Independence, Missouri and ended in Willamette Valley in Oregon. This was 2,000 mile journey and took around six months. During these six months, settlers found themselves in some bad situations such as, bad terrain, bad weather, and their ox dying of dysentery.

The Mormon Trail got its name because it was the Mormons who traveled on it. The Mormons were not a popular bunch and were pretty much chased away from everywhere they lived.

From New York to Ohio....

From Ohio to Missouri...

and from Missouri to Illinois...

In Illinois they built up a town called Nauvoo, but the Illinois residents were not friendly neighbors. A mob marched into Nauvoo and killed Joseph Smith, leader of the Mormons and sent the Mormons searching for a new home.

The Mormons headed west under a new leader, Brigham Young. They eventually settled in Utah, where they could practice their faith and avoid lynch mobs!

Migrating west was not an easy task, many died from disease, froze to death, or starved. One such unlucky group was known as the Donner Party, they got stuck in the Rocky Mountains during a snow storm. They resorted to eating members of their group who had died. Yup, nothing says fun like cannibalism!

[51] All the other trails were jealous.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Trail of Tears

Of course, when talking about Jackson, the Indian Removal Act should be mentioned. Jackson felt that the Indian Tribes in the Southeast U.S. should be moved. Where to? Oklahoma.

The Choctaw, Creek, and Chickasaw went, it was a long trip and many of them died.

The Seminoles in Florida decided to fight back.

They hid in the swamps and had hit and run attacks. Some were moved to Oklahoma, but many stayed and are still in Florida to this day.

The Cherokee Indians decided to use the court system to fight the removal. They argued that they had a right to be respected as a foreign country. The Supreme Court disagreed.

16,000 Cherokee were forced to leave, 4,000 died on the way to Oklahoma. This becomes known as the Trail of Tears.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Nullification Crisis

If you think Andrew Jackson was elected president, then you are correct! Jackson was seen as an "every man". He could relate to the common people, after he won he held a keggar on the White House lawn for all to attend.

Jackson did have some problems in his presidency. A big issue was tariffs. A tariff is a tax on imported goods, in case you were wondering. The issue was coming from the southern states. The south was mostly farms and not a lot of factories. Because of this, the south imported a lot of their goods. They felt this tariff was too much. They thought the federal government had too much power over the states.

Vice President, John C. Calhoun issued a statement on the subject of nullification, or the idea that states could ignore federal laws they didn't agree with. This put Jackson and Calhoun at odds with each other.

South Carolina took this nullification to another level. They declared Federal Tariffs null and void. Calhoun resigned as Vice President and returned to his home state of South Carolina and support nullification.

Jackson was having none of this. He was fully prepared to send an army down to South Carolina and show them what was up.

Jackson believed that nullification went against the whole idea of the Union and it would not be tolerated.

Because Jackson was a scary guy, a compromise was met and their was no need for the army to go to South Carolina. Congress said they would lower tariffs and South Carolina was ok with it, even though, once nullification was in their head, they wouldn't forget about it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Election of 1824

After two terms as president, Monroe stepped down and took his good feelings with him. Next up is the Election of 1824.

Everyone and their dog ran for president in 1824. The two head runners were John Quincy Adams and ol' Andy Jackson. Jackson was wildly popular and won the popular vote, but not enough electoral votes. Adams and Jackson were tied, they then sent the decision to the House of Representatives to figure out who would be the next president.

Henry Clay was the Speaker of the House and was on Team Adams, he used his own personal influence to sway the House towards Adams.

Clay's influence proved to be enough and John Q. Adams became the 6th President of the United States. Jackson was irate. Flames rose from his ears.

Jackson supporters smelled a farce. Things got even worse when Adams named Clay as Secretary of State. People cried of corruption. This event was known as the Corrupt Bargain.

Because of this, Adams wasn't very popular. Nothing much was accomplished during his presidency. He spent his nights listening to Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's "Its Your Love" and crying.

Needless to say, Adams wasn't reelected. Guess who was?!?!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I-N-F-R-A-S-T-R-U-C-T-U-R-E Gooooooo Roads!!!

The United States also wanted to improve infrastructure, like roads and such. Roads were pretty terrible back in the day. Dirt roards would get muddy and plank roads were bumpy.

In Pennsylvania, they decided to use stone and gravel to build a road. People had to pay to drive on this because it was super nice, it was the very first Turnpike!

The first federally funded road project was the Cumberland Road. This road stretched from Cumberland, Maryland to *sound the trumpets*

That's right, Vandalia, IL, home of the Vandals, where I, your awesome travel guide on this tour of history was born and raised. So, if you ever find yourself in Vandalia first ask yourself why (just kidding), then go on down town to the Old State Capital and see the Madonna of the Trail, which marks the end of the Cumberland Road!

Roads were not the only thing being built to improve transportation, canals were also all the rage.

The Erie Canal was built and successfully connected the Great Lakes to New York through water ways!!! Things could now be sent faster and cheaper!!!

*But seriously, Vandalia is a pretty interesting place if you find yourself here. Check out the Old State Capital where Abraham Lincoln started his political career. Then after that head to the Fayette County Museum, there is a plethora of interesting historical things, and don't forget to sign the guest book!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Missouri Compromise

In 1819 Missouri applied to be a state, the problem was, they wanted to enter the Union as a slave state.

At the time, there were 11 slave states and 11 free states. Adding Missouri would off set the balance.

To settle the dispute they could have either a dance off, or a compromise. They decided to compromise.

The Missouri Compromise allowed Missouri to enter as a slave state and Maine would enter the Union as a free state and there would be no slavery allowed in any territories north of Missouri's southern boarder [51]. Slavery would never be an issue again...

[51] Yah, that works out...

The Monroe Doctrine

Spain was also having trouble in other colonies. People were fighting and going independent. This worried President Monroe. He feared European countries would come in and try to recolonize, so he issued the Monroe Doctrine.

This told Europe to back out of the America's grill. Anyone who tried to come into North or South America and colonize would be dealt with by the US.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Sunshine State

The problem was with Spain, yes indeed, the Spanish. The Spanish had control over Florida and the Americans wanted to move to Florida, after all, it is the Sunshine State. Other than wanting to move there, the Americans were also having problems with the Seminole Indians, they raided U.S. settlements and such.

When you have a problem with Indians, who do you send in? Well, Andrew Jackson of course. They camped right across the US/Spanish boarder and starred at each other.

Eventually, Jackson and his troops crossed over into Florida and captured some Semionels. While he was there he figured an overthrow would be a great idea. He also took it upon himself to execute 2 Britsh people that he thought were helping the Seminole Indians.

This didn't go over well with the Spanish & the British. They were shocked and appalled.

Since Jackson was already in Florida and he could do whatever he wants, the Spanish decided that a treaty would be the best way to handle this situation.

The Adams-Onis Treaty gave the U.S. Florida and in return, the U.S. gave up its claims on Texas [50].

[50] Yah...for now..hehehehehe

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Era of Good Feelings

After the war was over, a new president came in, his name was James Monroe. This was known as the era of good feelings.

Even though the war was over, there were still a few issues with Canada that needed to be addressed. These issues were with the Great Lakes.


The Rush-Bagot Agreement took care of these problems. They decided to limit navies on the lakes and set boundaries for fishing. The Canadians and the Americans hugged it out, and all was well...except for in the South and a little place known as Florida....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Battle of New Orleans

On a foggy morning in January of 1815 the British started marching towards the Americans. They were lucky because the fog was covering them...well, until the fog cleared.

The Americans started shooting and a half a hour later, 2000 British were dead. Jackson was a war hero, and the celebration began.

But, then they figured out that the War of 1812 was actually over 2 weeks before the Battle of New Orleans. The war actually ended in December with the Treaty of Ghent. So, who won the war? No one really. Both countries were exhausted and just decided to call it quits.

The good aspect was that the US stood up to the British, the United States now had some mad street cred.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oh Say Can You See...

After the British torched the White House they went to Baltimore. In Baltimore they were et by American troops at Fort McHenry. The British slammed them hard, but the U.S. did not give up.

This was also when Francis Scott Key was a prisoner on a British Ship and watched the fight. He was so moved the next morning when he looked out and the American flag was still there. He decided this would be a good opportunity to get a little artsy and write a poem.

I'll give you a nickle if you figure out what song his poem became...


The British were also attacking in the South at New Orleans to try and gain control of the Mississippi River.

What was waiting for the British in New Orleans was none other than Andrew Jackson...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Burning Down the House

Things were about to get a bit intense when the British ended up invading American. Where should they go first? How about Washington D.C....

President James Madison was away from the White House when the British showed up. The British entered the White House and as story would go, ate a lot of the food. After they were full they decided that the that the White House should probably be burned down.

Luckily, before the British entered the White House and burned it down, Dolly Madison, James' wife, ran in and took George Washington's portrait off the wall. Good Work Dolly Madison.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oliver Hazard Perry and the Fall of Tecumseh :(

Things were not going that great for the Americans with the exception of one man. This guy is completely awesome and he delivered. Oliver Hazard Perry [48] defeated the British on Lake Erie. His boat was destroyed and his men were dead, but he kept on keeping on. Covered in blood he said, "I have seen the enemy, and they are ours" [49]

After Perry's badassery, it was decided to go after the British and the Indians. The U.S., British, and Indians ended up butting heads at the Thames River.

This battle brought William Henry Harrison and Tecumseh back together again. This was not a happy reunion considering what happened with Tecumseh's brother an all.

There was fighting and casualties and in the end, the US had control of the Northwest. The Americans were pumped.

Also, as a result of this battle, Tecumseh was dead. This was a huge blow to the Native Americans.

Meanwhile, in Tennessee, a man by the name of Andrew Jackson had just gotten out of jail after a bar fight and heard the news about the Creek Indians attacking soldiers and settlers in Alabama. He decided to head on south and kill him some Indians. And that is what Jackson would do.

[48] Seriously, Hazard, how cool is that?
[49] How awesome?

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Beginning of the War of 1812

In 1811 some politicians came to Congress, they were called War Hawks, they wanted war against Britain. Britain was taking US sailors and helping the Native Americans. The answer of what to do next was clear....Canada.

They wanted to invade Canada to get Great Britain out of North America and restore honor to America!!! (F Yah).

The War Hawks wanted war and war was what they got. The war of 1812 had begun.

The U.S. wasn't exactly prepared for this and they also severely underestimated the British. It wasn't pretty.

The idea was to march into Canada, surely a country with millions could take on a country of thousands. Why even waste time in getting a professional army? State militia would do just fine. Oh how they were wrong.

The British and Native Americans pretty much dominated them.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Things are brewing in the West

The British were still being jerks, the Native Americans in the West were not happy, and this was not a good combination.

In the West were two brothers, Tenskwatawa, "The Prophet", and Tecumseh, he was more of a warrior. These brothers were upset because the US kept violating treaties so Tecumseh and his brother thought it would be a good idea to try and unite the Indian nations. This made sense because the US were not the best neighbors, actually, very horrible ones. Tecumseh went south to talk to some different tribes. While he was away William Henry Harrison marched in some troops to Prophetstown where Tenskwatawa lived. The Prophet told his people not to fear. They would be protected and the bullets could not pierce their skin.....

Sadly, this didn't work out. Many died including Tenskwatawa and the town was burned. This was known as the Battle of Tippecanoe which Harrison would later use as part of a campaign slogan. Because slaughtering Indians qualifies you to be a great president.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The British need to get out of our Business..

There was some trouble brewing with Great Britain [47]. Great Britian was using the concept of impressment...

This type of impressment was taking American sailors from American ships and forcing them into the British Navy.

This wasn't cool, at all. It became even more uncool when the British attacked the Chesapeake war ship. Many Americans were outraged.

Jefferson decided an embargo would be just the thing for this situation. So trade was suspended, he figured this would show the British what was up. Instead, they went elsewhere to get goods. Dang.

Well people started losing jobs and money. Jefferson knew he was wrong so he lifted the embargo and retired. Next up to bat for the presidency....James Madison. This guy had a whole slew of things to deal with.

[47] *eye roll*

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Louisiana Purchase

Have you ever been to New Orleans? Was it fun? What did you do there? That's nice. Did you know that it was Thomas Jefferson who acquired New Orleans?! Well, its true! Jefferson purchased some land off of Napoleon Bonaparte. This was called the Louisiana Purchase. This was the land west of the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. He doubled the size of the United States!

But Jefferson was troubled. He always said the federal government should be limited and the Constitution should be followed and it said nothing about buying land. *GASP*

But the land was only $15 million, and that was a sweet deal, so he went for it. Was this hypocritical? Maybe, but there is always the elastic clause to fall back on, and really was a sweet deal.

To find out what was in this territory he went Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore. They had help from Sacajawea who would later be featured on a dollar coin.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

OMG! Marbury V. Madison!!!!

Alexander Hamilton was a big fan of Jefferson, so with Hamilton's influence, Jefferson became president. This made Burr pretty mad so they decided to have a duel. Burr won and Hamilton was dead. This was later the premise of a "Got Milk" commercial.

Along with Jefferson as president, there was a new Chief Justice in town, this was John "I'll still be talked about long after I'm dead" Marshall. He was involved in a lot of precedent setting matters such as.....

MARBURY V. MADISON! a nutshell....

Marbury was appointed a position by Adams at pretty much the last minute. Incoming Secretary of State James Madison refused to let the appointment go through. They went to court...and Marshall ruled in favor of Madison. So why is this important? Maybe one of the most important court cases ever? [46]

The concept is Judicial Review. This gave the court the power to review acts of Congress and the President to see if they were constitutional or not.

Score one for the Judiciary Branch!

[46] EVER!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Alien and Sedition Acts

Then during Adam's presidency there were 2 Acts that took effect that sort of dances with some Constitutional violations. What sort of a dance? A JIG!

The Alien Act authorized the President to arrest and deport immigrants who criticized the federal government. You may scratch your head and wonder what happened to the First Amendment.

Yes...the right to free speech, well..don't worry about it.

The Sedition Act was also pretty redic. It was made a crime for citizens to publicly discredit the federal government [45]. When it was all said and done, 10 people were convicted of Sedition. THE CONSTITUTION ROCKS!!!

Eventually these Acts were overturned by the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions. Good job Virginia and Kentucky!

As it would turn out, these Acts and some taxes made Adams pretty unpopular. He lost the Election of 1800 to Thomas Jefferson. But this election was like no other election before. It was a tie! Yes, a tie, with Aaron Burr. To decide the tie they played 3 rounds of paper, rock, scicssors, this of course, is a lie.

[45] I think pretty much everyone would be arrested for this...