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Page 142 text:
the United States agreed to assume claims of its citizens against Spain, and Spain agreed to relinquish both east and west Florida to the United States. Thus through the efforts of a Virginian, another rich and productive territory was added to the domain of our country. In Texas we find that the Americans under the leadership of another Virginian, General Sam Houston, revolted against Mexico which then claimed all of the territory now included in the State of Texas. Santa Anna, then president of Mexico, marched northward to punish the rebellious Texans and at the Alamo completely destroy- ed a garrison of soldiers. Finally, in spite of all the hardships, the Texans defeated the Mexicans at the San Jacinto River in April 1836. This event has been considered as one of the most heroic events in American military history. In 1845 Texas was admitted to the Union as a state. The Texans claimed all the land south and west down to the Rio Grande. The Mexicans replied that the right boundary was the Nueces River and a line running from that river in a northerly direction. President Polk accepted the Texan view, however, and the United States again sent a Virginian general, Zachary Taylor, to the northern bank of the Rio Grande to defend the soil of the United States. After waging three short decisive campaigns, one in the north, one in the western part of United States and Mexico and one near Mexico C ity, the Mexicans were completely routed and forced to retreat. Taylor was aided in these campaigns by General Winfield Scott, who was born near Petersburg, Va. The war with Mexico also brought about the opening of Califor- nia and a great deal of the credit for the settling of California is given to Virginians, among whom as we have said before are Scott and Taylor, and under them, Robert E. Lee, who later became the com- mander of the Confederate army and is considered one of the greatest generals the world has ever known, along with Stonewall Jackson, a leader in military strategy, and George 11. Thomas, one of the noted generals in the Civil War. From a summary of the greatest events we can readily see that the greater part of the work in opening up and settling this great nation of ours fell upon the shoulders of outstanding Virginians who dreamed of a great future for their beloved America. But Virginia has been famous not only for these achievements which brighten the pages of history but also for her contributions in a more material w r ay. P ' rom the time that Alexander Spotswood first opened his iron mines and erected his iron furnaces on Virginia soil, Virginia has been a great contributor to the mineral wealth of this country. Her natural resources are, in fact, listed among the richest 13b
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to the account in Beard and Bagley and Latane’s Histories of the United States, during the Revolution he captured the Northwest from t he British with only a handful of Virginia riflemen and opened up the great Northwest to colonization. This territory includes the states of Illinois and Indiana. The frontier was rapidly extended westward during the early years of the nineteenth century and as a result the settlers continued to have trouble with the Indians who resented being driven from their homes. The Indians under Tecumseh were forming a league of all the tribes in the Northwest and in the South with the intention of attacking and driving back the settlers from the frontiers. They probably would have succeeded had it not been for the Virginian, W illiam FT Harrison, governor of Indiana Territory, who advanced with eight hundred men and defeated the Indians at Tippecanoe ( ' reek in western Indiana. Harrison became a hero in the North- west and later became president of the United States. In 1803 Napoleon of France agreed to sell the vast Louisiana territory of nine hundred thousand scpiare miles for fifteen millions of dollars. It is of special note that almost the entire transaction was executed by Virginians, of whom the most notable was Jefferson, then president of the United States, and Monroe, then one of the ministers to France. This gave the United States the largest terri- tory that she ever purchased at one time and is considered a most re- markable piece of international diplomacy. Alter buying the Louisiana Territory, Jefferson planned imme- diately to open it up for settlers and sent out two young Virginians, Meriwether Lewis, who was trom near Charlottesville, Virginia, and W illiam Clarke, also a Virginian. These two young men, after many perilous adventures and hardships, mapped out the entire Louisiana Territory having covered eight thousand miles of wilderness. Their accounts of the trip and their maps were one of the greatest assets to the settlers who first came into this wild country. The East now began to see what a mighty new empire awaited the pioneer. But the activities of opening up our nation were not entirely confined to the west and northwest. In the south there had been some dispute as to whether parts of Florida should be included in the Louisiana Purchase. This complicated matters since Spain also claimed the territory. W hile Spain was under the rule of Napoleon ' s brother, Joseph, the United States took over this territory. When Spain again regained her power the Florida situation became very strained and difficult to manage. It remained, however, for that great Virginia president, James Monroe, to adjust this dispute, by the treaty of 1819. By this treaty 135
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in the world. Her splendid harbor at Hampton Roads is the most famous and one ot the largest in the world, affording one of the nation’s largest and greatest commercial centers. In all the world you will not find a spot more beautiful or more blessed by God’s handiwork than Virginia, and with the approach of spring, the fields and woods of our beloved State again take on a greener hue, the sun shines b eneficently, the birds sing cheerily and again on gentle Virginia slopes the dogwood, a little white flower, State flower of Virginia, blooms again as a symbol of purity of truth and the sacrifices which her beloved sons have made in rendering heroic deeds the world over and particularly in building an empire — one of the greatest countries in the world, our nation. I think that we Virginians would be prouder of the State in which we live and the ideals for which she stands if we only stopped to consider more thoroughly that great part Virginia has played in the building of our nation. Harold Beamer, ' 29. 137
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