America Gets Rid of Her King
DID you know that we once had a king?
His name was George.
No, George Washington wasn't a king.
This was another George.
You remember the Stuarts in England-James, Charles, and the rest of the family who ruled England for a hundred years from 1600 to 1700. Well, about 1700 England ran out of Stuarts-there were no more Stuart children.
As England had to have another king, they asked a distant relative of the royal family over from one of the German states to rule England. Yes, from Germany to rule England. His name was George, and the English called him George I. George couldn't even speak English. He was German and loved his own country much better than England. You can imagine what sort of king he was. His son, George II ruled after him, although he, too, was more German than English. But when the grandson, George III, came to the throne he was a born and bred Englishman. It was in this grandson's reign, in the reign of George III, that our country, the United States, was born.
When a wheel turns over, we call it a revolution, which is a big name for a little thing.
When a country turns around, we also call it a revolution, which is a big name for a big thing.
Our country had started with the two little settlements, or colonies, as they were called, of Jamestown and Plymouth. It had grown and grown until there were a number of settlements along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the people who had settled here first were English, and the king of England ruled over them. Soon people from other countries like Germany, Holland, Scotland, and Ireland came here. Africans were brought against their will to work as slaves. The king of England ruled over all these people, too. The king asked these people to send him money, which was called taxes. Now, the money collected from taxes was not, of course, for the king to put in his pocketbook to use as he liked. It was supposed to be spent on the people who were taxed, to be used for roads, schools, police, and such things that are for the good of all.
These people along the coast, who were paying money or taxes to the king far off across the water, thought they ought to have a vote to say how this money should be spent and on what it should be spent. But they did not have a vote, and they thought they ought not to have to pay taxes to the king away off in England.
One of the leading citizens of America at this time was a man named Benjamin Franklin. He was the son of a candlemaker, but from a poor boy, who had once walked the streets of Philadelphia with a loaf of bread under each arm, he had risen to a very honored position in the country. He had learned to be a printer and had started one of the first and best newspapers in the United States. He was a great thinker and had invented a stove and a lamp and had succeeded in getting electricity from the lightning in the clouds by flying a kite with a wire during a storm. He was one of the Wise Men of the West.
Map of the thirteen original states（最初十三个州的地图）
Franklin was sent over to England to try to get the king to change his mind about taxing the colonies or to bring about some sort of agreement with him. But King George was hardheaded, and Franklin was unable to stop the king from doing what he had made up his mind to do.
The people in America, finding that talking did no good, started in to fight. They raised an army. Then they tried to find a good man to command the army. Such a leader must be honest and brave; he must have a good mind; he must love his country; and he must be a good fighter. They looked around for a man who had all these qualities, and they found one. The man they picked was honest and brave. A legend grew up that when this man was a boy, he had cut down a favorite cherry tree of his father's just to try a new hatchet he had been given. When this boy was asked by his angry father if he had done it, he answered honestly and bravely, "I cannot tell a lie; I did." Of course, now you know who it was-George Washington. We know now that this story was made up by a man who wrote a book about George Washington. It's not true, but it makes a good story, doesn't it?
George learned to be a surveyor-that is, a man who measures land-and when only sixteen years old he was employed to survey the large farm of Lord Fairfax in Virginia; that showed he had a good mind. He then had been a soldier and had fought bravely and well in the French and Indian War, as the Seven Years' War was called here. That showed that he loved his country and was a good fighter. George Washington was chosen to lead the American army against the English.
George Washington surveying Lord Fairfax's farm
The Americans did not at first think of starting a new country. They simply wanted the same rights that Englishmen in England had. They soon found out that there was only one way to get those rights, and that was to start a new country, independent of England. So a man named Thomas Jefferson wrote a paper which was called a Declaration of Independence-can you say it?-because it declared that the colonies were going to be independent of England. There were fifty-six Americans chosen by the people to sign it. Each one of the signers would have been put to death as a traitor to England if the United States had not won, and each signer knew it, yet he signed it nevertheless. But just signing this paper didn't make England give up the colonies. Oh, no! King George's armies tried to stop the colonies from getting away from the rule of England.
Washington had a very small army with which to fight the English army, and very little money with which to pay the soldiers or to supply them with food or clothes or powder and shot. One winter the soldiers nearly froze and starved to death, for they had little clothing and hardly any food but carrots, and it seemed as if the war could not go on unless they got help. Yet Washington kept up their spirits.
Benjamin Franklin was sent across the ocean, not to England this time of course, but to France to see if he couldn't get some help from that country. France hated England, because France had lost part of America, Canada, in the Seven Years' War, but at first France would not help. France took little interest in the fight, for Washington's army had lost a number of battles against the English, and people don't like to back a loser. The year after the Declaration of Independence, the American army beat the English badly at a place called Saratoga in New York State. The king of France then became more interested, and then he sent help to the colonies to carry on the war. A young French nobleman named Lafayette hurried over from France and fought under General Washington and did so well that he made a great name for himself.
England, seeing that things were going against her, now wanted to make peace with the Americans and give them the same rights that English citizens had, but it was then too late. At the beginning of the war, the Americans would have agreed to this and been glad to agree, but now they would agree to nothing less than complete independence from England; and so the war went on, for England would not let the colonies go.
The English had been beaten by the Yankees, as they called them, in the North, at Saratoga. Then they sent their general, Lord Cornwallis, to the south of our country to see if he could beat the people there. General Greene was put in command of the southern American soldiers. Lord Cornwallis tried to fight Greene, but Greene led Cornwallis a merry chase around the country until he was all tired out and finally went into a little place called Yorktown on the coast of Virginia. Here, Cornwallis and his army were caught fast so that they could not get out. On the side of the land was the American army, and on the ocean side were the French warships that had been sent over to help. Cornwallis had to surrender.
King George then said, "Let us have peace"; and in 1783 the war was ended by a treaty of peace, eight years after it had started, and the colonies were independent of England. This was called the Revolutionary War, and after it was over our country was called the United States.
There were just thirteen of these original colonies that joined as partners in this Union. That is why there are just thirteen stripes in our flag. Some people think thirteen is an unlucky number; but our flag with its thirteen stripes still waves over the land, and it has brought us good luck; don't you think so?
Washington was made the first President, and so he is called the Father of his Country; the First in War, the First in Peace, and the First in the Hearts of his Countrymen.