« PreviousContinue »
TO COMMEMORATE THE TRIUMPH OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE-STRUCK BY THE FRENCH GOVERN
DEVICE-Head of Liberty; the hair blown back as if by the wind, against which the goddess seems to be running to announce to the world the tidings of her victories. On the right shoulder she bears a liberty cap.
LEGEND: "Libertas Americana, 4 Juil., 1776."
REVERSE--Pallas holding in her left hand a shield, on which are three fleurs de lis (the arms of France); opposite to her is a leopard (England) in the act of springing, into whose breast she is about to plunge a barbed javelin that she holds in her dexter hand. Beneath the shield is an infant strangling with one hand a serpent, which he is holding up, whilst he stoops and chokes another found at his feet.
LEGEND: "Non sine Diis Animosus Infans.”
Exergue 17th Oct., 1777 19th Oct., 1781.
Hercules, according to Grecian mythology, was said to have strangled whilst in his cradle two serpents which had assaulted him, having been assisted by the protection of the goddess Pallas. Infant America, like Hercules in his cradle, had destroyed two British armies. The two epochs of those exploits are marked in the exergue, 17th Oct., 1777.
Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga; 19th Oct., 1781, Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown, Va. The motto is from Horace, Ode 4, Book III, v. 20.
This medal is now in the Worden collection of the New York State Library.
At a time when the political conditions of Europe and America were evanescent, when the heart of the American Continent was in the germ cell, then fortuitous circumstances came up unexpectedly to decide an issue that involved the destinies of the United States, and the men capable of giving directions to these political issues were brought into the arena to solve them. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of the Independence of the United States, and Napoleon Bonaparte, the supreme ruler of France, were the two great actors for their countries respectively.
Robert Livingston, who had been one of the committee to formulate the Declaration of American Independence, and James Monroe, destined to a world wide fame as the author of the Monroe doctrine, were the actors under Jefferson on the part of the United States, and Barbé Marbois, a great and farseeing statesman, on the part of France. In the following pages the immense work which these remarkable men accomplished will be told as briefly and plainly as the facts can be stated without omitting any link in its chain. To this end much pains has been taken to obtain official records, and here it is but just that I acknowledge obligations to Henry Vignaud, Secretary to Hon. Horace Porter, our present Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to France, for searching among the archives of a hundred years back to secure for me a fac simile of the autograph of Marbois, taken directly from the original treaty.
The appendix of this work contains a brief outline history of the American acquisition of Oregon, made possible by the purchase of Louisiana; also the history of other foreign acquisitions to the United States since that time.
RUFUS BLANCHARD. Chicago, June, 1903.
France was the first owner of the Mississippi valley. She became vested in its title by priority of discovery and exploration by La Salle, in 1682; who navigated the Mississippi to its mouth, naming it Louisiana in honor of his sovereign, the King of France. This immense domain included the valley of the Ohio river and all its tributaries; as well as the Missouri, Arkansas and Red river valleys, and their tributaries, extending to the western water shed of the Pacific Coast
Spain had already settled East Florida in 1565 at St. Augustine; hence the Spanish title to Florida rested on the basis of priority. Immediately adjoining this settlement on the north was the Georgia Colony, settled by Gov. Oglethorpe in 1732. This colony included the present state of Alabama, the southwestern point of which extended to the Gulf of Mexico. Spain also owned Mexico as a result of its conquest by Cortez, in 1521, the northern boundary of which was indefinite. The English owned a narrow strip of land along the Atlantic Coast, where they had first settled at Jamestown, in 1607, and at Plymouth, in 1620, and a few years later on this coast, her thirteen colonies were laying the foundation of a great nation-a nation whose power was not then foreseen. France then had a foothold on the St. Lawrence river. Each of these peoples, the English and the French, had a laudable ainbition to extend their settlements to the west, which, as a consequence, produced a rivalry between them which ultimated in the French and Indian war,
which begun in 1755. Before hostilities commenced a compromise was attempted, and January, 1755, opened with peace pro
posals from France, by which she offered, as an ultimatum, that the French should retire west of the Ohio, and the English east of the Alleghenies.
This offer was considered by England till the 7th of March, when she agreed to accept it on condition that the French would destroy all their forts on the Ohio river and its branches. The French, after twenty days, refused to do this.* But while the fruitless negotiations were pending, both sides were sending soldiers to America.
The issue involved in the French and Indian war interested every nation in Europe, no one of which wished to see either of the participants in it secure too much of the territory in dispute, lest the victor should become sufficiently powerful as a European nation to destroy its equilibrium. France had positive purposes at which she aimed, the chief one of which was to preserve her American possessions, and the means to be used in the achievement of this end were definitely settled upon, which, in brief, were to attack the allies of England on the Continent, by which diversion New France in America was to be made invulnerable against her rival, whose strength must be largely occupied on the defensive at home.
The ultimatum of England was not less clearly defined than that of France, but the means by which it was to be brought about were more complicated. The tenacity, with which the American colonists had clung to their political rights at the Albany convention of 1754, as well as the able statesmanship of the Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania Assemblies, not always in harmony with the crown, had awakened a sense of caution in the English court, in their dealings with their trans-Atlantic children, and the question came to the surface whether it was better to drive France entirely out of America, or allow her to retain enough there to become a
* Plain Facts, p. 52.