Sunday, April 19, 2015

                          The Louisiana Purchase

Most of the land around the thirteen colonies was owned  by England , France and Spain . Some Americans  Leaders were afraid that this land might fill up with settlers from these other countries and later the people  would cause trouble for them. 

The  American  leaders wanted their country to own more land. Thomas Jefferson , who wrote the Declaration  of Independence  , hoped that the United States of America would  someday stretch from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. When he became President of the United States , he asked the government to buy a huge chunk of land from the French. 

The French were having financial troubles and they desperately  needed the money . The Americans were able to buy the land from them. This new chunk of land was called  the Louisiana Territory . A territory was any land owned by the United States that had not yet become a state.

Jefferson sent out to explorers , Lewis and Clark , to find out what the land was like . The trip was dangerous  and after travelling  a few months, the team of forty – five people reached the Rocky Mountains . 

The Shoshone Indians  knew  about secret  path to cross the mountains , but they would not tell everyone. One of the team members was from this tribe of Indians . She  showed  them the way and the explorers  soon the reached  the Pacific Ocean. 

The trip to the Pacific  and back took two years. Lewis and Clark  documented  their trip and made maps of the land , showing the path they took.  They told the President that he got  the best land  buy there ever was. The price for the Louisiana Territory  , which  later made  up eight states, only cost 4 cent an acre. This land was rich with forests , rivers , mountains, animals and good farm land.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

                                        The First U.S. Government

After the war, the national government was very weak. The first government plan was called  the Article  of the Confederation . The new government could only make laws .

It had no President to enforce the Laws , no courts to explain laws , no one to collect  taxes , no money , and no power. This was a dangerous situation because without the strong government  the United States would fall apart. The people were also afraid that England  and Spain could take their land away.

In 1787 , George Washington met with the leaders from the original thirteen states. They wrote a new plan of government and called it the Constitution of the United States. The principles of the Constitution were liberty , equality justice for all.

  The Constitution was the highest law which everyone had to follow. Power was balanced between the national government and the states . 

The government  had three parts
*  one that made of laws , 
* one that explained the laws
* and one that enforced the laws.  

Each part had special powers to check the other parts. This was called  checks and balances.

The leaders decided that America needed a president , not a king. The people elected George Washington as the first President of the United States. He served for eight years. He is still considered the father of our country. 

Washington's birthday became a legal holiday in America.

Friday, April 17, 2015

                         The Declaration of Independence

After the Revolutionary War began , the leaders chose five men to write the  Declaration of Independence . The men decided what it should say and Thomas Jefferson was chosen to write it. 

This document  explained  why the Americans were fighting against England. It said that colonies would no longer belong to England . They would form their own free country , with their own laws and their own leaders.

 On July 4, 1776 the leaders of all the thirteen colonies gathered in Philadelphia and signed the Declaration of Independence .  

John Hancock  was the first to sign it. This day is now called independence day . It is the birthday of the United States and it is a legal holiday.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Eleanor Roosevelt  and the power of Service.

It is easy to believe that rich children of important families are happier than other children, but Eleanor Roosevelt  learned early in life that this is not always true.

She was born in New York City about a hundred years ago. Her parents were both members of old , well-established families. Her uncle was Theodore Roosevelt, who one day would become President of the United States.

But there was little happiness in Eleanor’s young life. Her father Elliot Roosevelt suffered from alcoholism. As his drinking grew worse, family life became more and more unhappy. Finally, Eleanor’s mother and father separated. When Eleanor was eight years old, her mother died and Eleanor went to live with her grandmother. Two years later, two months before Eleanor’s tenth birthday, her father died.

Five years later Eleanor was sent to school in England. The headmistress of the school, Marie Souvestre , saw that Eleanor was a bright girl with hidden talents. She helped Eleanor learn that she had a quick mind and could be a good student. Eleanor also discovered she was looked up to as a leader by the other girls. 

Marie Souvetre and Eleonor became good friends. They went on vacations together and Eleanor learned she liked travel. She enjoyed meeting new people and learning new things.

When Eleanor returned home she brought with her a new belief in her abilities and the new interests she had discovered.
From childhood, Eleanor had known the suffering of other people. Now she wanted to do something to help.

She believed she would find happiness in being of service in a  very poor section of New York City. A settlement house provides social services to poor people. For example Eleonor taught dancing to the children who had no place else to go and gave them the chance to have fun.

She was shocked to see  the terrible conditions in which many people in big cities were forced to live.
When she was 24 years old, Eleanor Roosevelt was married to her distant cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Now she took on new responsibilities. She helped her husband as he worked his way through law school, cared for her mother-in-law, and began to raise a family. 

Soon Franklin Roosevelt began career in politics, and the family moved to Washington, D.C. when the Red Cross, helping wounded soldiers who had returned from overseas.

Then tragedy struck once again. Her husband fell ill with polio, a crippling disease common in those days; he lost the use of his legs. His mother wanted him to give up politics and live quietly at his family’s home in Hyde Park, New York. But Eleanor supported Franklin’s desire to go on with his career, encouraging him on his long struggle back to health and on his return to politics.

While Franklin was recovering his strength, Eleanor became more active in public affairs. She gave speeches, taught classes at school for girls, became involved in business, and was soon accepted as an important member of the Democratic Party.

In 1928 Franklin Roosevelt was elected governor of new York. Four years later he was selected President of the United States. The Roosevelts returned to Washington and made the White house their home until Franklin Roosevelt’s death in 1945.

At first Eleanor Roosevelt thought her position as First Lady would keep her from continuing her service to others. But she realized that she had been given a wonderful opportunity. Soon she was giving weekly press conferences, talking on the radio, and writing for the newspapers. Always, she urged citizens and public officials to do more to help those who needed help the most. It was not long before she became one of the most famous women in the world.

After  Franklin Roosevelt ‘s death, President Harry Truman asked Mrs. Roosevelt to serve as a delegate to the United Nations. She played a major role in writing the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
Eleanor Roosevelt worked for the benefit of humanity until her death. She showed how service to others is one of the best ways to have and give happiness.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


The Revolutionary  War

Americans in all the colonies were afraid that the King of England would close their harbors, too. Leaders of the colonies all voted to stop trade  with England. 

Many people in the thirteen colonies wanted to break away from  England and have a new , independent country. The leaders voted to fight against England.  This was the beginning of the revolutionary War. This war is also called the War of Independence.

Although the colonists won the first battle in Massachusetts, they knew they had to form an army to win a war. They named George Washington commander –in- chief of the Americans. Most colonists were in favor of fighting  to the end. Leaders from each of the thirteen colonies met, but they could not all agree.  Some felt England was their  "mother", others felt England was their "master".

 Many did not want  a king for across the sea to run their own country. Finally , they all agreed to tell the king that they had decided to become thirteen United States.

The  king did not want to give up his colonies without a fight. The Americans  ran low on food , money and arms. One winter, Washington soldiers  almost froze to death . Both sides were very tired 

General Lafayette brought French ships and soldiers to help the Americans fight  the English . They trapped the English at Yorktown  and general Cornwallis , the English commander , gave up. 

The war was over and the Americans had won their freedom and got the kind of government they wanted.  They war lasted six years.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

                                                  The Boston Tea Party

Although the colonists  liked to drink  tea, they refused to buy the taxed tea. One day, three tea ships from England landed in Boston Harbor. 

No one would unload the tea and it sat there for days. Sam Adams and his sons of Liberty dressed as Indians , climbed onto an English ship that was importing tea, and threw all the tea into Boston harbor. 

This protest was called the Boston Tea Party. The King became angry and sent war ships and troops  to close Boston Harbor. No food and other goods could get in or out of Boston. 

The Boston Tea Party started a long fight between England and America.

Monday, April 6, 2015

                                                           Trouble with England

Although  the colonists had their own rules and leaders , they still had  to obey the king  of England. England was far away across  the Atlantic Ocean. Life was very different in England than it was in the colonies. King George did not always understand what they needed  or wanted . He began to make unfair laws and many colonists decided not to obey them.

Some colonists wanted to break away from  England  and form a country of their own .  They wanted their freedom so much that they were willing to fight for it. Sam Adams started e group  called the Songs of Liberty. 

This group was ready to fight the king's unfair laws. The trouble started in 1773 when King George  told the colonists  that they could only trade with England , and not with other countries. Many colonists did not obey him. 

To punish them, the king made them pay high taxes on almost everything they bought. Although they  sent letters  and the people to England  to explain why the taxes were too high,  the king would not listen . The colonists refused to buy anything that was taxed. 

The king decided to stop taxation on everything except tea.