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By Cecil Chesterton

Writer: George H. Doran corporation ebook date: 1919 topics: usa background usa Fiction / Classics historical past / basic background / usa / basic background / usa / nation

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But the chief historical importance of the Louisiana purchase lies in the fact that it gave a new and for long years an unlimited scope to that irresistible movement of expansion westward which is the key to all that age in American history. In the new lands a new kind of American was growing up. Within a generation he was to come by his own; and a Westerner in the chair of Washington was to revolutionize the Commonwealth. Of the governing conditions of the West, two stand out as of especial importance to history.

But all ratified it at last, and before the end of Washington's first Presidency the complement of Stars and Stripes was made up. The choice of a President was a foregone conclusion. Everyone knew that Washington was the man whom the hour and the nation demanded. He was chosen without a contest by the Electoral College, and would undoubtedly have been chosen with the same practical unanimity by the people had the choice been theirs. So long as he retained his position he retained along with it the virtually unchallenged pre-eminence which all men acknowledged.

He had refused a third, thereby setting an important precedent which every subsequent President has followed, and bade farewell to politics in an address which is among the great historical documents of the Republic. The two points especially emphasized were long the acknowledged keynotes of American policy: the avoidance at home of "sectional" parties--that is, of parties following geographical lines--and abroad the maintenance of a strict independence CHAPTER IV 37 of European entanglements and alliances.

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