Gateway to the Classics: American History Stories, Volume III by Mara L. Pratt
American History Stories, Volume III by  Mara L. Pratt

"Tippecanoe and Tyler Too"

When Van Buren's term was nearly out, his party nominated him for President again; but the other party set up Harrison, the hero of Tippecanoe, with John Tyler for Vice-President, in opposition, and made the land so ring with their song "Tippecanoe and Tyler too," that they carried the country by storm.

It is said that this was one of the most exciting times our country ever saw. The Republicans had now taken on the name Democrats, and the Federalists now called themselves Whigs, in remembrance of the Whigs of Revolutionary times. Party feeling was now hot again and the campaign was a lively one.

General Harrison had been living very quietly in a log-cabin out in the western part of the country ever since the war of 1812; and so when he was nominated for president by the Whigs, the Democrats said, "Pshaw! give Harrison a cabin and a barrel of hard cider, and he'd never care whether he became president or not." At this the Whigs raised the cry of "Cabins and hard cider for us!" and from that, the campaign has ever since been called the "log cabin and hard cider campaign." It was a hot contest; but there was much fun mixed up with it. The newspapers had pictures of log cabins at their heads, there was "log-cabin calico," and "log-cabin wall-paper." The women used to meet together and make "log-cabin quilts," and the men and boys used to roll barrels of cider through the streets.

It ended in "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" as President and Vice-President. There can be no doubt, judging from the bravery and wisdom of General Harrison in all that we have heard of him, that he would have made a good president; but in only one month from the time he took his chair he died,—worn out, it was said, by the excitement and hard work of his election.

Tyler, the Vice-President, now took the chair. The great event of his time was the invention of the telegraph system. We have read of the invention of the steam-boat and of the railroad, and now comes the telegraph. Of course there were plenty of people who pooh-poohed at the idea of "talking through a wire," but the invention succeeded nevertheless in spite of their scoffs.


President Tyler.

At the same time Samuel Morse was busy inventing his telegraph here in America, another man in England, and another in Germany were busy with the same kind of work.

By and by, when Morse's telegraph had been tried between Baltimore and Washington, and had been found successful, he went to Europe to try to get it accepted there. There the three inventors, the American, the Englishman, and the German met. Of course each presented his own invention, and hoped his might be the one to be accepted By the country; and just here you must know what a brave unselfish thing the German did. Much as he wished his own invention to be accepted, he carefully examined the machine that Morse had brought, and seeing that Morse's was really the better, he generously said, "Gentlemen, I willingly withdraw from the field; Mr. Morse's invention is better than mine."

Wasn't this big-hearted in the German—to give up so nobly his life-work and his chance at being remembered for ages as the inventor of this wonderful machine, and to turn and frankly take the hand of his rival and wish him all success? Captain Lawrence and Oliver Perry, and all the other naval and military heroes were indeed brave men, and we admire them for their courage; but it takes a bigger, grander soul, boys, to frankly and generously acknowledge the inferiority of one's self, than to face the cannon's roar.

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