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The Nation in a Nutshell   By: (1841-1893)

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THE NATION IN A NUTSHELL

A RAPID OUTLINE OF AMERICAN HISTORY.

BY

GEORGE MAKEPEACE TOWLE

AUTHOR OF "YOUNG PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND," "YOUNG PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF IRELAND," "HEROES OF HISTORY," "MODERN FRANCE," ETC.

1886

THE NATION IN A NUTSHELL

CONTENTS:

I. AMERICAN ANTIQUITIES II. THE ERA OF DISCOVERY III. THE ERA OF COLONIZATION IV. THE COLONIAL ERA V. THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE VI. SOCIETY IN 1776 VII. THE REVOLUTION VIII. THE CONFEDERATION AND CONSTITUTION IX. WASHINGTON'S PRESIDENCY X. THE WAR OF 1812 XI. THE MEXICAN WAR XII. THE SLAVERY AGITATION XIII. THE CIVIL WAR XIV. THE PRESIDENTS XV. MATERIAL PROGRESS XVI. PROGRESS IN LITERATURE XVII. PROGRESS IN THE ARTS XVIII. PROGRESS IN SCIENCE AND INVENTION XIX. POLITICAL CHANGES

THE NATION IN A NUTSHELL

AN OUTLINE OF

AMERICAN HISTORY.

I.

AMERICAN ANTIQUITIES.

[Sidenote: Geology and Archaeology.]

The sciences of geology and archaeology, working side by side, have made a wonderful progress in the past half a century. The one, seeking for the history and transformations of the physical earth, and the other, aiming to discover the antiquity, differences of race, and social and ethnical development of man, have obtained results which we cannot regard without amazement and more or less incredulity. The two sciences have been faithful handmaidens the one to the other; but geology has always led the way, and archaeology has been competed to follow in its path.

[Sidenote: Four Eras of Civilization.]

Though we may doubt as to the exactness of the detailed data established by the archaeologists, there are certain broad facts which we must accept from them as established beyond doubt. These facts are of the highest value and interest. The antiquary has been able, from discovered remains of extinct civilizations, to reconstruct societies and peoples, and to trace the occupancy of countries to periods far anterior to that of which history takes cognizance. The general fact seems to be settled that, in prehistoric times, Europe passed through four distinct eras. These were the Rude Stone Age, when man was the contemporary in Europe of the extinct hairy elephant and the cave bear; the Polished Stone Age; the Bronze Age, when bronze was used for arms and utensils; and the Iron Age, in which iron superseded bronze in the making of useful articles.

[Sidenote: Ancient America.]

In the same way it has been established that, on our own continent, the oldest discoverable civilization was one in which rude stone implements were used, and man lived contemporaneously with the megatherium and the mastodon. Then polished and worked stone implements came into use; and after the lapse of ages, copper. The researches of our antiquaries have rendered it probable that America is as ancient, as an inhabited continent, as Europe. Evidences have been brought to light, leading to the conclusion that many thousands of years before the Christian era, America was the seat of a civilization far from rude or savage. Groping into the remains of the far past, we find skeletons, skulls, implements of war, and even basket work, buried in geological strata, which have been overlaid by repeated convulsions and changes of the physical earth. But so few are the relics of this dim, primeval period, that we can only conclude its antiquity, and we can infer little or nothing of its characteristics.

[Sidenote: Primeval Races.]

Advancing, however, another stage in research and discovery, we come upon clear and overwhelming proofs of the existence on this continent of a great, enterprising, skilful, and even artistic people, spread over an immense area, and leaving behind them the most positive testimony, not only of their existence, but of their manners and customs, their arts, their trade, their methods of warfare, and their religion and worship. Compared with this people, the Red Indians found here by the Pilgrims and the Cavaliers were modern intruders upon the land... Continue reading book >>




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