Christ's Lutheran Church in 1834

Pastor Perry G. Cole, conducting services at the second church building, designated the "Church on the Rocks," because it sat on a rocky ledge overlooking the Sawkill about ¾ mile east of our present location (that is, north of present-day Route 212, across from the country club).

Pastor Cole lived in Saugerties and served Athens and West Camp as well as Woodstock.

[ Revival camp meeting ] During this time, many ordinary American citizens were caught up in the the Second Great Awakening. At religious revivals, preachers would be "inviting" people to come forward to be saved. (To enlarge the picture, just click it.) This practice was started in the Erie Canal region by itinerant preacher Charles Grandison Finney, who understood the Gospel to be a means of societal change as well as personal salvation; such social reforms as the temperance movement, women's suffrage, and abolition were all linked with the evangelism of the Second Great Awakening. Even Lutherans were affected:

Lutherans were not immune, particularly those who used the English Language.… [There were] reported protracted meetings in Lutheran congregations, periods of special interest and emotional excitement in pulpit and pew, and sudden extraordinary growth in church membership. There was much debate as to the proper methods for Lutherans to use in stimulating these revivals. Sharp distinction was drawn between the traditional methods of catechization and the high-pressure appeal to the emotions. One was called "responsible accessions to our congregations," the other was called "the new measures."(1) From Anderson, Mark J., For All the Saints: Christ's Lutheran Church, Woodstock, New York, 1806-2006 [Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2006], pp. 45-46, citing Wentz, Abdel Ross, A Basic History of Lutheranism in America [Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1955], p. 92. (Close)
In general, pastors and congregations belonging to the New York Ministerium (the synod) were not in favor of revivals. In the Hartwick Synod, which our church belonged to, however, revivals became a regular part of congregational life. President Lintner of that synod reported
so powerful and extensive has been the work of the Holy Spirit that upwards of 1,000 souls have been hopefully converted and admitted into the church.(2) Here Anderson, p. 46, is citing Kreider, Harry J., History of the United Lutheran Synod of New York and New England, Volume I, 1786-1860 [Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1954], p. 87. (Close)

The Woodstock Region in 1834

Henry P. Shultis, 43, was Woodstock Town Supervisor.

All over the Catskills, including along our Sawkill, smelly tanneries had been converting animal hides into leather, using chips and powder from hemlock bark in the tanning (softening) process and thereby leaving millions of bark-skinned hemlocks to die while standing. The largest such operation was the New York Tannery in the factory town of Edwardsville (present-day Hunter), autocratically run by Colonel William Edwards. In the atypically neat factory town of Prattsville, workers in the factory of Zadock Pratt lived in some hundred handsome classical-style houses, with pilasters and sunburst gable windows. A 224-foot covered wooden bridge crossed the Schohariekill, and a thousand elms, maples, and hickories lined the streets. There were fine churches and a three-story school. Pratt boasted that by getting rid of the hemlocks, he was providing pastureland to the village, so that in time, butter produced by cows grazing there would rival the famous butter from Orange County.

Hard times continued to plague the tanning business, and the price of leather had plunged, Pratt printed mottoes to be distributed throughout his village: "Honesty in the best policy," "Do well, and doubt not," "Be just, and fear not," and so on; his business muddled through. Other tanneries were not so lucky. A series of tannery fires struck the Catskills, many of them suspiciously connected with insurance. The 64-year-old Colonel Edwards, struggling with an indebtedness eventually calculated as $93,114.31 ($1,811,073.30 in 2006 dollars), decided to turn over the assets of his business to his creditors--some of whom he had evaded with bankruptcy in Massachusetts 18 years earlier, just before establishing his Edwardsville operation. His business was taken over by his son, the "young colonel" Edwards.

During the winter, an icy crust sometimes formed on the snow strong enough to support a dog or a man but not a deer. One newspaper writer reported that rifles were needless to kill the game:

as the deer when overtaken make no resistance. Their legs are lacerated by the ice.… Whole droves are sometimes caught and their throats cut.… [We now have] a season of carnival with the famished wolves, the curs and their masters.… One individual in a single week killed upwards of forty [deer] without firing a gun. In the town of Windham one of the largest bucks ever seen in that vicinity was killed unresisting by a boy who climbered on his back and cut his throat. He was described as being a "patriarch of the forest with hair almost white with age and antlers like an old-fashioned armchair."(3) Excerpted from Evers, Alf, The Catskills: From Wilderness to Woodstock, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1972, p. 395, citing the Catskill Recorder, January 30, 1834. (Close)
This practice was called "crusting," and many mountain people disapproved of it.

Milo Barber's inn in Shandaken on the shore of the Esopus was a favorite of trout fishermen.

Region historian Alf Evers(4)

Excerpted from Evers, Alf, Woodstock: History of an American Town, Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1987, pp. 23ff, 41, 150ff. (Close) has described the Catskills as largely a region of absentee landlords and struggling tenants, in a manorial relationship more or less transplanted to upstate New York from medieval Europe. The principal landlord for tenant farmers and tavern keepers in the Town of Woodstock, and for all his other Catskills holdings of some 66,000 acres, was Robert L. Livingston, 59, dwelling in his Clermont estate on the other side of the Hudson.

The typical official arrangement under which the tenant held his land was the "three-life lease": A tenant would be permitted use of Livingston land for three generations, and after the grandson of the original tenant died, the lease "fell in"--that is, the land would revert to Livingston. Stipulated in the typical lease was an annual rent of fifteen to twenty bushels of wheat per hundred acres, plus three or four "good fat hens" and from one to three days' work with team on the common land. A tenant could sell his leasehold, but he had to pay the landlord one-sixth of the sale.

Livingston--through his agent, John S. Wigram, residing on Wigram Lane (Rock City Road) near the barn now known as Parnassus Square and riding around town on his horse while wearing his "fine plug hat"--initiated several legal proceedings against recalcitrant tenants: those who failed to pay rent or who cut the landlord's timber for sale as boards, shingles, and other uses. Livingston "regarded the tenants' own shiftlessness and dishonesty as responsible for most of their troubles."

The life of the tenant on Livingston land was not especially easy. The men worked at subsistence farming, they hunted, they logged, they produced maple sugar, they did part-time blacksmithing, and--with wood harvested from the still-large Woodstock forests (much of it belonging to the Livingston landlord, its harvesting thus constituting trespassing)--they produced charcoal and made such wood products as shingles and barrel and hogshead staves. In the late spring or early summer they peeled hemlock bark used for tanning, piling it in the woods and in the winter hauling it by sledge to smelly tanneries of John C. Ring or of Samuel, Philip A., or John Culver on the Tannery Brook in the heart of Woodstock hamlet. (A few Woodstock tenants were sawmill operators [on sites reserved by the Livingston landlord] or tavern owners.)

Women cooked and baked in fireplaces, washed on the rocks beside a stream, sewed and spun flax and wool, churned butter, gave birth to children and then cared for them, and helped with the farm work, especially at harvest and slaughtering times: They made soap from ashes and animal fats, they dried apples, they pickled and preserved.

Many mountain folk were leaving for western New York and for Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois.

Meanwhile, Livingston was having trouble managing the resources on his manor lands. Trees cut down on Livingston land were taken to non-Livingston sawmills, and the sawed boards taken to market with little attempt at concealment. As for the Livingston sawmills, the operators apportioned inferior boards for the landlord's share, selling the better ones for their own profit. Livingston hired people to visit his sawmills weekly to claim decent wood to be sent off to Clermont. Nonetheless, trespassing and unlawful lumbering continued, becoming part of the Woodstock way of life by indigent tenants (termed "beggars" or "rascals" by Livingston agents), in spite of deputy sheriffs being sent to Woodstock to discourage the practice.

Livingston was now busy getting his new Esopus Creek Navigation Company up and running.(5)

The material on the Esopus Creek Navigation Company is from ibid., pp. 171-78. (Close) This company proposed to enable the peeled logs from the numerous tanneries in the Catskills to be shipped downstream to Kingston. The Esopus and the Beaverkill were to be cleared of obstructions, and booms would be built to prevent numerous mills to be damaged from floating logs. From Kingston, the logs could be floated downstream to market in New York City. Labor--the dangerous work on the rafts--would be provided by all his numerous tenants who were in arrears on their rent (in other words, either get on the rafts or be evicted). Town Supervisor Shultis, Livingston's agent in Woodstock, directed the unwilling employees to cut and haul hemlock logs to the banks of the Beaverkill. Livingston gave the following instruction to another agent, E. Miner:
If any rocks on the Beaverkill require blasting… let them be drilled by my tenants who owe rent.
But Shultis reported that the tenant-raftsmen were not willing to
go on the Creek with boats; the men were afraid as the water seemed so high.
Livingston proposed cutting a channel from Mink Hollow to Cooper Lake to increase the flow of the Beaverkill, to keep its waters higher than the dangerous boulders. He also considered raising Cooper Lake and changing its outlet to the Beaverkill rather than the Sawkill. None of these schemes were paying off.

Two glass factories in Bristol (Shady), both just over the boundary from Livingston land--the Woodstock Glass Manufacturing Company and the New York Crown and Cylinder Glass Company--continued, with inefficient operation, to produce window glass and bottles, shipping their products down the Glasco Turnpike to the Hudson River landing in Glasco (from "Glass Company") and then by sloop on to New York City. Unfortunately, their operation required vast amounts of fuel, principally wood, which denuded the forests around Woodstock and, as a result of the deforestation, caused massive erosion of the mountainside soil.

One of Woodstock's only resident doctors was Dr. Larry Gilbert Hall, who had thorough academic training and a good medical library and who lived in the house later torn down to make room for the present Woodstock Library. Dr. Hall was the owner of Woodstock's first recorded bathtub (described in his estate inventory as a "bathing trough"). Dr. Hall employed many herbal remedies:

[T]ake equal parts of bloodroot and sweet flag--dry and pulverize--used as snuff 5 or 6 times a day--is said to relieve deafness.… [For] dissolving gravel in the bladder, [use] the bark of red thorn berry [probably a blackberry] and high blackberry made into a tea with plenty of flaxseed tea to prevent acrimony in the urine. Tried it on Matthew--it works.(6) All quotations and other information in this section on medicine are from ibid., pp. 204-7. (Close)
Another resident doctor was Dr. John Fiero, 29. A doctor in those days could pull teeth, bleed a sufferer, and lance a boil, as well as other medical duties. There was no hospital available to Woodstockers, but many women were skilled in nursing and midwifery. There were no drug stores, but the remedies most in demand were available at the general store, including opodeldoc, a soap-based liniment; camphor; spirits of hartshorn; castor oil; gum guaicum; syrup of squills; and opium and its derivatives, such as laudanum.

An "Indian doctor" on Tinker Street was said to be able to cure consumption by herbal means. His doctoring involved "powing-wowing," the use of incantations inherited from ancient Indian medicine men.

James Powers's 11-year-old commodious hotel, the Catskill Mountain House near Kaaterskill Clove, with its corporation, the Catskill Mountain Association, was unraveling as a business venture: It had never shown a profit, its bills were paid slowly, its note regularly went to protest, and it was falling behind in interest payments to the Catskill Bank. The directors of that bank now foreclosed on the mortgage they held on the hotel property and its chattels, including the following:

70 sacking bottoms for bedsteads, 70 sacking bottoms for cots, 24 settees, 6 wooden settees, 150 Windsor chairs, 53 screw bedsteads, 18 common bedsteads, 35 rose blankets, 100 marseilles quilts, one silver tea urn, 13 casters,… 3 dozen fancy gilt chairs,… one piano forte,… two billiard tables,…(7) Quoted from Evers, The Catskills, op. cit., p. 382, citing the Catskill Messenger, May 1, 1834, advertisement of foreclosure of real property and chattels under mortgage of 1826. (Close)
The auction was postponed again and again as the Association struggled. The hotel opened late in June, with John Cuyler of Catskill acting as manager. A short-lived business upturn saved the hotel for the moment.

[ Sing Sing revival meeting ] Former New Paltz slave Isabella Bomefree Van Wagenen, 37, originally from Hurley and now residing in New York City, continued her job as a domestic while she pursued her religious interests. She felt that she was in direct communication with God. Beguiled by the animistic, mystical preachings of the self-proclaimed prophet Matthias, she was a member of his Zion Hill sect. They often went to large revival meetings up the Hudson River in Sing Sing (to enlarge the picture, just click it). During this year, that sect disbanded, however, amid scandals over spouse-swapping and suspicions of Matthias's patron (Mr. Pierson, who was also Isabella's employer) being murdered. Isabella herself was accused by Mrs. B. Folger of poisoning Mr. Pierson, but she sued her accuser for libel and won.

The United States in 1834

[ Andrew Jackson ]

Andrew Jackson (Democrat), 67, was President. The 23rd Congress was in session. (The midterm elections that year would elect the 24th Congress.) A dollar in that year would be worth $19.45 in 2006 for most consumable products.

Indoor lighting came from whale-oil lamps and tallow and spermaceti candles.

In the Midwest, men converged on the butcher shop in the early morning and purchased a beefsteak cut from an animal slaughtered the previous evening. On the way home they would stop at the village store for a dram of corn whiskey. At home again, their wives prepared a breakfast of black coffee, fried beefsteak, and hot cornbread. Also, game birds shot by market hunters were a mainstay of the U.S. diet.

Housewives preserved food by drying, salting, and smoking. The fireplace or woodstove fire had to be stoked relentlessly, and it invariably extinguished itself during the wee--and coldest--hours of the night. The kitchen in summer was sweltering.

The standard bathtub, for those who believed in bathing at all, was a wooden box lined with copper or zinc, filled with buckets from the stove. With water needing to be heated over the stove, little wonder than irregular bathing was the norm. Many people, convinced that bathing caused colds and other illnesses, bathed their bodies no more than once a year.

Nearly every household had an outdoor privy (hardly anyone had a water closet, which, anyway, was considered very unsanitary).

Jurist and former Attorney General William Wirt died at the age of 62.

Many people regarded President Jackson as a despot ("King Andrew I," "Destroyer of Our Liberties," "Tyrant"). The Whig Party was formed to oppose the Jackson Administration, taking their name from the party during the Revolutionary era that was patriotic but opposed to the King--in this case "King Andrew I." The Whigs were made up of various factions--some "hard-money" and pro-Bank Democrats, the old National Republicans, some of the Anti-Masons, people of culture and social position offended by the Jacksonian anti-intellectualism--united solely on their opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson. Democrats mocked the Whigs as "an organized incompatibility."

[ Nicholas Biddle ] Meanwhile, Nicholas Biddle, 48, pictured here, president of the Bank of the United States, faced with the loss of government funds that were being deposited in the state banks, continued to contract his operations--severely, in order that the resulting credit shortage would be blamed on Jackson. Specie (money in coins) had become almost unobtainable, and a serious panic threatened. The stock market in New York City had plunged, with issues being off from 15 to 40 percent. Dozens of petitions poured in on Congress, and worried businessmen came to Washington, seeking relief.

[ Henry Clay of Kentucky ] Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky, 57, pictured here, persuaded the Senate to adopt his resolution censuring President Jackson for removing public funds from the Bank of the United States. The censure charged that the President had

assumed upon himself authority and power not conferred by the Constitution and laws.
[ John Caldwell Calhoun of South Carolina ] South Carolina Senator John Caldwell Calhoun, 52, pictured here, joined Clay on this issue, and their union on this was the first time the Whig Party emerged as an identifiable group in the Senate; from this time forth, both Clay and Calhoun considered themselves Whigs.

Jackson, however, remained inflexible.

I am fixed in my course as firm as the Rocky Mountain,
he assured Vice President Martin Van Buren, 52. He would not be dissuaded by any "frail mortals" who worshiped "the golden calf." He swore he would sooner cut off his right arm and "undergo the torture of ten Spanish inquisitions" than restore the deposits. He yelled at petitioners:
Go to Nicholas Biddle.… Biddle has all the money!(8) Quoted in Garraty, John A., The American Nation: A History of the United States, New York: Harper and Row, 1966, p. 271. (Close)

Business leaders did put pressure on Biddle, who--by the end of the year--had to begin lending money, thereby ending the crisis. Now state banks, no longer restrained by a central bank, began lending money, too, and with very little regard to their reserves. Land speculation began to cause a large augmentation in bank notes in circulation. Prices also started to rise.

Jackson appointed a new Secretary of the Treasury: Levi Woodbury, 44 (who had been Secretary of the Navy since the Cabinet shakeup of 1831).

Jackson's war on the Bank of the United States upset many of his Democratic Party supporters in New York State: the Albany Regency, who worried that a prohibition on issuing bank notes would upset the plans for making Wall Street the nation's financial center. As a result, there was a split in the ranks of the New York Democrats.

The 23rd Congress passed a currency law, establishing the coinage ratio of 16 to 1 between silver and gold, thereby driving silver from the country.

Jackson appointed his staunch supporter John Forsyth of Georgia, 54, Secretary of State.

Kitchen Cabinet member Francis P. Blair, 43, editor of the pro-administration Washington Globe, started the Congressional Globe (later the Congressional Record).

The French Chamber of Deputies continued to stall on the first installment of the $80.7 million ($1.57 billion in 2006 dollars) the French government was supposed to pay the United States, according to an 1831 treaty. After they ignored the second installment as well, President Jackson, in his annual message to the 23rd Congress, citing the "violation of pledges" that was "not to be tolerated," recommended that Congress pass a law "authorizing reprisals upon French property" unless the debt was paid promptly. Jackson commented:

I know the French--they won't pay unless they're made to.
The French, insulted, insisted that Jackson apologize. The President roared:
Apologize! I'd see the whole race roasting in hell first!(9) Quoted in Athearn, Robert G., ed., American Heritage Illustrated History of the United States, vol. 5, Young America, New York: Choice Publishing, 1988, pp. 404-05. (Close)
[ John Quincy Adams ] France dispatched its fleet to the West Indies. Jackson alerted the U.S. Navy. Ministers to both countries were recalled. (The wife of the French minister, Alphonse Pageot, was the daughter of William B. Lewis, 50, in the Kitchen Cabinet, and their son was named Andrew Jackson Pageot.) Mass meetings were held in seacoast cities supporting the President. Even Congressman John Quincy Adams, 67, pictured here, supported Jackson.

The General Trades Union in New York City was reorganized as the National Trades Union, taking in all crafts.

Workers along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal staged a riot. President Jackson ordered Secretary of War Lewis Cass to send in troops to put down the disturbances.

The 43-mile Delaware and Raritan Canal opened between New Brunswick, NJ, and Bordentown, PA.

The New York and Harlem Railroad, a horsecar route, was extended up Fourth Avenue as far as 84th Street.

The Portage Railroad -- Mainline Canal, connecting Philadelphia with Pittsburgh, was completed after 8 years at a cost of $10 million ($194.5 million in 2006 dollars). It had 177 locks and a cumbersome "inclined-plane railroad"; it was slow and expensive to operate, and could never compete effectively with the Erie Canal in New York.

In Lowell, MA, there were six corporations operating 19 mills with 4,000 looms and more than 100,000 spindles. Factory girls left the mills to marry after three or four years. The vast majority of working women were single. Upon marriage, they left their paying jobs and took up their new work (without wages) as wives and mothers. In the home they were enshrined kin a "cult of domesticity," a widespread cultural creed that glorified the customary functions of the homemaker. From their pedestal, married women commanded immense moral power.(10)

Quoted in Bailey, Thomas A., Kennedy, David M., and Cohen, Lizabeth, The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998, p. 315. (Close)

Visiting French engineer Michel Chevalier was impressed with the textile factories, shipyards, and iron mills he found in the North:

Everywhere is heard the noise of hammers, of spindles, of bells calling the hands to their work, or dismissing them from their tasks.… It is the peaceful hum of an industrious population, whose movements are regulated like clockwork.(11) Quoted in Davidson, James West, and Stoff, Michael B., The American Nation, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1986, 1995, p. 381. (Close)
Nonetheless, when one young woman was fired from her job at a Lowell mill, hundreds of other girls left their looms in solidarity with her. One of them climbed the town pump and made what the disapproving Boston Transcript called
a flaming Mary Wollstonecraft speech on the rights of women and the iniquities of the "moneyed aristocracy" which produced a powerful effect on her auditors and they determined to "have their way, if they died for it."(12) Quoted in Zinn, Howard, A People's History of the United States, 1492-Present, New York: HarperCollins, 1980, 1995, 1999; Perennial, 2003, p. 115. (Close)

Thousands of Irish and German immigrants came to the United States.

Several hundred Polish refugees arrived, after the abortive Polish revolution of 1830-31. Albert Gallatin, 73, did his best to help them.

The Pennsylvania public school law, optional in school districts, was bitterly attacked by German Americans, who feared that the German language and culture would be lost.

John Jacob Astor, 71, the richest man in the United States, sold his fur interests in the upper Missouri Valley and began to invest in New York City real estate.

Publisher Horace Greeley, 23, and Jonas Winchester began publishing the New Yorker.

The Book of Sports was published, establishing the rules for baseball.

[ Charles Grandison Finney ] [ Revival camp meeting ]

Bell-voiced preacher Charles Grandison Finney, 42, pictured here, probably the greatest American evangelist, conducted religious revivals in country settlements in the Northeast and Midwest, urging true Christians to join reform movements. (To enlarge the revival meeting picture, just click it.) Finney was part of the "Second Great Awakening."(13)

This paragraph has been adapted with permission from William Strauss and Neil Howe, Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069 (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1991). Cited by them is Edward Pessen, Jacksonian America: Society, Personality, and Politics (1985), p. 70. There is also an extensive quote from Bailey, Kennedy, and Cohen, op. cit., pp. 336, 348-50. (Close) The movement was triggered by Finney's evangelical preaching and by widespread excitement over religious conversion, social reform, and radical idealism. During this era, reform groups of all types flourished in sometimes bewildering abundance. Reformers promoted rights for women as well as miracle medicines, communal living, polygamy, celibacy, rule by prophets, and guidance by spirits. Societies were formed against alcohol, tobacco, profanity, and the transit of mail on the Sabbath. Fad diets proved popular, including the whole-wheat bread and crackers regimen of Massachusetts Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham, who preached against white bread, pepper, catsup, mustard, fats, and meat, calling them injurious to health and stimulating to carnal appetites. Eventually, the crusade against slavery would be a cause to overshadow all other reforms.

The exaltation of the individual, whether black or white, was the mainspring of a whole array of humanitarian reforms.(14)

Much of the following, including the quoted material at the end of this paragraph, is from Morison, Samuel Eliot, The Oxford History of the American People, New York: Oxford University Press, 1965, p. 437; Wellman, Paul I., The House Divides: The Age of Jackson and Lincoln, from the War of 1812 to the Civil War, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1966Wellman, op. cit., pp. 517-18. (Close) Many reformers were simply crackbrained cranks. But most were intelligent, inspired idealists, usually touched by the fire of evangelical religion then licking through the pews and pulpits of American churches. The non-intellectuals in America were influenced only indirectly by the New England transcendentalists, were taken with the wider romantic movement (Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, Longfellow)--with its sensitivity and love of the natural, its somewhat gloomy otherworldliness, its imaginative treatment of a dark inner struggle with inherent evil--but they were inspired by old-time revivalist religion and fervent causes, especially in the "leatherstocking region" of New York State.
The great breeding ground of mid-century 'isms' was… the area peopled by [transplanted New England] Yankees in the rolling hills of central New York and along the Erie Canal. These folk were so susceptible to religious revivals and Pentecostal beliefs that their region was called "The Burned-Over District" from all the hellfire and brimstone sermons preached there. There antimasonry began and the temperance movement gathered strength.

The Second Great Awakening was one of the most momentous episodes in the history of American religion.(15)

Quoted extensively from Bailey, Kennedy, and Cohen, op. cit., pp. 330-32; Wellman, op. cit., pp. 24-25, citing Mrs. Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of Americans. (Close) This tidal wave of spiritual fervor left in its wake countless converted souls, many shattered and reorganized churches, and numerous new sects. Itinerant preachers who traveled from church to church, as well as judges, serving very small and scattered populations, were known as circuit riders. The Second Great Awakening was spread to the masses on the frontier by huge "camp meetings." Whole families came from long distances to camp around the meeting places. As many as 25,000 people would gather for an encampment of several days to drink the hellfire gospel as served up by an itinerant preacher.

At times there was a tent for the revivalists, but more often the eager congregations sat on wooden benches in the open and listened to the exhortations of the evangelists who preached from wooden platforms. Unlettered and rude, the frontier cared little for tolerant religion. What it craved was violence in the pulpit, a strong smell of brimstone and fire, furious declamation, and turgid polemics. The Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian persuasions all lent themselves easily to such pulpit pyrotechnics.

There were, of course, plenty of sinners in the West, and since the object of each revival was to bring as many converts as possible to the "mourner's bench"--thus turning each camp meeting into a sort of scoring contest for the evangelists--the field for conversions was rich. Thousands of spiritually starved souls "got religion" at these gatherings and in their ecstasy engaged in frenzies of rolling, dancing, barking, and jerking. Under the lashings of tongue from the preachers, men, women, and even young children, rolled upon the earth, shrieked, shouted, went into contortions, and wept, in a perfect saturnalia of emotional excitement. While it is to be doubted that all who were thus "struck with conviction" remained godly for long--whiskey barrels stood conveniently about the camp meetings and religion was, after all, thirsty work--it cannot be denied that many remained as godly as they knew how to be for the rest of their lives.(16)

Quoted in Wellman, op. cit., p. 25. (Close)

Universalist minister and Workingman's Party founder Orestes Brownson, 31, converted to Unitarianism.

A howling mob in Boston burned down a Catholic convent.

John Humphrey Noyes, 23, a founder of the Free Church of New Haven, proclaimed that the Second Coming of Christ had already taken place, in A.D. 70. He also denounced the traditional notion that man was born sinful. He advocated a doctrine of perfectionism, holding that a person could become sinless by working at it. Church authorities, believing him insane, revoked his license to preach.

[ Joseph Smith ] Joseph Smith, 29, pictured here, now of Kirtland, OH, was the "Prophet" of the 4-year-old "Church of Christ" (later called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), with the followers called "Saints" (or Mormons), whose doctrine was based on the alleged revelations Smith said he had been receiving for several years from the angel Maroni, now all gathered, translated, and published in the 522-page Book of Mormon. The book claimed that the New World aborigines (the Indians) were descended from the lost 10 tribes of Israel, who had sailed from the Near East 2,500 years earlier, and who had received a visit from Jesus Christ after his resurrection in Palestine. Smith and his followers were commanded to redeem these lost Israelites from the paganism they had fallen into. The book also sanctioned polygamous marriage. The ever-growing congregation was now based in Kirtland (in spite of the hatred from local "gentiles" [non-Mormons]) but was waiting for word from its scout Oliver Hervy Pliny Cowdery, 28, who had been commissioned to find the sect's "Zion" somewhere in the vicinity of Missouri (and had started a satellite congregation in Independence, MO). Meanwhile, construction work on the church's first temple continued in Kirtland.

The American Society for the Promotion of Temperance became national in scope and was renamed the American Temperance Union, boasting 5,000 branches with a combined membership of a million persons.

Anti-abolitionist riots of unskilled workers, fearing competition from freed slaves, erupted in New York City and Philadelphia. Rioters broke up a meeting of the New York chapter of the Anti-Slavery Society, protesting the presence of some blacks in the audience. The riots continued for more than a week, and many churches and homes were destroyed.

Theodore Dwight Weld, 31, expelled along with several other students from Lane Theological Seminary, in Cincinnati, OH (presided over by Lyman Beecher), for organizing an 18-day debate on slavery, began preaching with his fellow "Lane Rebels" the antislavery gospel across the entire Old Northwest.

Slave children were whipped routinely by members of the owning class for not working, for disobeying arbitrary rules, for disrupting the plantation, for demonstrating insolence, and for destroying property. Many were beaten hard enough to draw blood, sometimes beaten "for looking angry." Punishable offenses of slave youngsters who worked in the mistress's homes included malingering, performing chores poorly, violating rules of racial etiquette, and appropriating items belonging to the owning family. One mistress burned a slave girl's with a hot iron when the baby left in the girl's care hurt his hand. Another mistress knocked a slave girl unconscious with a stick of wood for blackening her eyebrows with soot from the fireplace in imitation of the mistress; the offense in this case was "mocking her betters." Most masters and mistresses, however, refrained from punishing slave children with the harshness they would use on adult slaves; they would spank with a paddle or pull their ears. Most owners or overseers left corporal discipline of slave youngsters in the hands of slave parents or other slaves.(17)

Quoted in McCutcheon, Marc, Everyday Life in the 1800s: A Guide for Writers, Students & Historians (Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books, 1993), pp. 216, 221, citing Jenny Proctor, "Alabama," in Lay My Burden Down. (Close)

The 23rd Congress established the Department of Indian Affairs and set up Indian Territory (Oklahoma) west of the Mississippi River.

Some 700 Cherokees in Georgia agreed to move to a "perpetual outlet, West" (known as the Cherokee Strip) in present-day Oklahoma; 81 died en route (including 45 children, mostly from measles and cholera), and half of the survivors died from cholera after reaching their destination. The rest of the Cherokees refused to consider this agreement.

The U.S. government ordered the Seminole Indians to leave Florida and head to Indian Territory, based on a treaty they had signed in 1832. Here is an excerpt of the response to the Indian agent(18):

Quoted in Zinn, op. cit., p. 144. (Close)
We were all made by the same Great Father, and are all alike His Children. We all came from the same Mother, and were suckled at the same breast. Therefore, we are brothers, and as brothers, should treat together in an amicable way.… Your talk is a good one, but my people cannot say they will go. We are not willing to do so. If their tongues say yes, their hearts cry no, and call them liars.… If suddenly we tear our hearts from the homes around which they are twined, our heart-strings will snap.
The agent managed to get 15 chiefs and subchiefs to sign a removal treaty, and the U.S. Senate promptly ratified it. The War Department began preparing for the migration.

John Chapman, 59, known as "Johnny Appleseed," continued distributing Swedenborgian religious tracts and apple seeds to settlers in the Ohio Valley. A small, wiry man with "eyes that sparkled with a peculiar brightness," he had a reputation for loving children and all living creatures, even mosquitoes. He made friends with all the Indians he encountered. He traveled barefoot, dressed in cast-offs or a coffee sack. He liked to read to settlers from the New Testament, calling it "news right fresh from heaven."

Weekly steamboat service began between Buffalo, NY, and Fort Dearborn (Chicago).

Millions of acres of U.S. public lands were offered for sale, inspiring Americans to move west of the Appalachians.

The 6-foot-4-inch-tall, 180-pound, narrow-chested, stoop-shouldered melancholic Abraham Lincoln, 25, a Whig, who was furiously studying law, was elected as an assemblyman to the Illinois legislature. He borrowed $200 ($3,890 in 2006 dollars) from his friend Coleman Smoot, of which he spent $60 ($1,167) to buy tailored clothes to accommodate his long legs, the first decent clothes he had ever owned. After returning from the session with $285 in state pay ($5,543), he met his obligation before doing anything else, earning the nickname "Honest Abe."

Prussian Prince Alexander Philip Maximilian of Wied, 52, accompanied by painter Carl Bodmer, 25, finished their 2-year natural science expedition in America--from Boston to St. Louis and up the Missouri River to Fort McKenzie (near Great Falls, MT), back to St. Louis, to New York State at Niagara Falls and along the Erie Canal. Maximilian collected specimens, studied the Indians, and kept detailed accounts in diaries and other documents. Bodmer painted and drew the landscapes, vegetation, animals, and Indians they saw.

Army Captain Benjamin Louis Eulalie de Bourneville, 38, continued his wagon-train expedition (including Independence, MO, trapper-guide Joseph Reddeford Walker, 36, from Fort Osage on the Missouri River bound for the Columbia River.

Nathaniel Wyeth, 32, dispatched another ship around Cape Horn to Oregon, with supplies and knocked-down barrels to hold the Columbia River salmon he hoped to harvest and pickle for the Boston market. At the same time he went overland, with ornithologist Thomas Nuttall, ornithologist John K. Townsend, the Reverend Jason Lee, 31, and four other missionaries intending to convert the Flathead Indians, reaching Fort Vancouver 160 days out of St. Louis. Unfortunately, Hudson's Bay Company was not interested in Wyeth's trade goods, and the ship arrived too late for salmon fishing. Wyeth returned to Boston and resumed the ice business.

The ornithologists publicized the Oregon territory, though. And the missionaries settled in the Willamette Valley, near present-day Salem, OR, raised wheat and cattle, and---through their backers--published the periodical The Oregonian and Indians' Advocate, promoting settlements in Oregon.

Richard Henry Dana, 19, dropped out of Harvard because of poor eyesight and began a 2-year voyage as a seaman on the brig Pilgrim, sailing around Cape Horn to California. (He would later describe the deplorable living conditions of ordinary seamen in a novel.)

Science and technology in America: Specifics

Virginia inventor Cyrus Hall McCormick, 25, patented his horse-drawn mechanical reaper (invented in 1831) that could mow wheat and other grains, doing the work of six men using hand tools; Massachusetts inventor Jacob Perkins, 68, patented a compressor to help make artificial ice; New York inventor Walter Hunt, 38, constructed a sewing machine with a curved needle on a vibrating arm; and Rhode Island engineer Zachariah Allen, 39, patented an automatic cutoff valve for steam engines.

The mercury alloy amalgam was introduced as a filling for tooth cavities; and Dr. William W. Gerhard of Philadelphia reported his studies of cerebral meningitis.

Arts and culture in America: Specifics

George Bancroft, 34, published volume 1 of his History of the United States.

Lydia Howard Sigourney, 43, published her banal, sticky-sweet, and very popular Poems for Children as well as her Sketches.

Playwright, painter, and historian William Dunlap, 68, published History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States; novelist James Fenimore Cooper, 45, residing in Europe, published A Letter to His Countrymen, attacking the lack of true democracy and patriotism in America; and playwright John Augustus Stone, 34, destitute, committed suicide.

Painter George Catlin, 38, wrote the following tribute to the equestrian talents of the Comanches:

A Comanche on his feet is out of his element… almost as awkward as a monkey on the ground, without a limb or a branch to cling to: but the moment he lays his hand upon his horse, his face even becomes handsome, and he gracefully flies away like a different being.

Americans began eating tomatoes.

The Roman emperor look continued to be fashionable for men.

Popular periodicals included the Niles' Weekly Register, the American Journal of Science, American Farmer, Christian Watchman, Saturday Evening Post, New York Mirror, National Preacher, Ladies' Magazine Lady's Book (Godey's Lady's Book), Ladies' Companion, Knickerbocker Magazine, Liberator (abolitionist), Emancipator (abolitionist), and Spirit of the Times. Aristotle's Masterpiece, an anonymous sex education book, illustrated with explicit woodcuts and describing sexual mechanics, was popular among young men, who read it behind the barn.

The song "Old Zip Coon" (later known as "Turkey in the Straw"), played in New York by the composer, Bob Farrell, was released as a minstrel song and became popular. Other popular songs included "Home Sweet Home" and "America."

The World at Large in 1834

In Lower Canada French Canadian Louis Joseph Papineau, Speaker of the Assembly, had combined with Scots liberal John Neilson and Irishman Edmund B. O'Callaghan to agitate for a government more accountable to the people than the "château clique," led by Chief Justice Jonathan Sewall (son of an old Massachusetts Loyalist). The government had rejected all the patriotic demands, including the minimum proposal, to let the voters choose the legislative council. The patriots were now boycotting British goods and wearing homespun. Young men continued organizing as Fils de la liberté ("Sons of Liberty"), and the countryside was secretly arming, displaying the tricolor, and calling extralegal conventions.

In Upper Canada (Ontario) newly arrived settlers struggled for political equality with the United Empire Loyalists (those who had left the United States after the Revolution) and their descendants. Liberals wanted to make the executive responsible to the Assembly and threatened to secede from the British Empire. Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists--recent immigrants from the British Isles and the United States--pressed for public money from the dominant old-Tory Anglicans and Northern Ireland Presbyterians, as well as for an overhaul of the public land system. But a Tory oligarchy called the "Family Compact," led by Anglican Archdeacon John Strachan and John Beverley Robinson (a Loyalist whose background was Virginia and New York), insisted on reserving a seventh of every 640-acre township for the Crown and another seventh for the Church--reserves that obstructed roads, retarded settlement, and were generally a nuisance. In addition, the clique granted immense untaxed private lands to favorites.

York in Upper Canada changed its name to Toronto, and William Lyon Mackenzie, 39, publisher of the Colonial Advocate, was made the Mayor. He was also a member of the province's Legislative Assembly, having been repeatedly reelected after several expulsions for libel, and he led the Opposition to the government, with a moderate program of land reform. Since he had become anticlerical, Mackenzie lost the support of the Methodists and Orangemen Presbyterians.

[ Sam Houston ] Texas empresario Stephen Fuller Austin, 41, remained in prison in Mexico City for having offended Mexican authorities by petitioning the government to make Texas separate from Coahuila Province. Meanwhile, in Texas, swashbuckler and former Tennessee Governor Sam Houston, 41, pictured here, a Jackson protegé, was practicing law in Nacogdoches. To legalize his stay, he became a "Muldoon Catholic"--that is, he was "converted" into the faith by Padre Miguel Muldoon, who, in return for contributions to the ecclesiastical treasury, performed such "conversions" as a convenience for Americans who wanted to own land in Texas. Whether such Catholics remained Protestants or heathens afterward was their own affair.

On behalf of his law clients, the largest of whom was the Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company, Houston traveled between Texas and the United States, including visits to President Jackson. The English traveler G. W. Featherstonhaugh observed Houston when he stayed at Washington, Arkansas Territory, just 30 miles north of the Texas border:

General Houston was here, leading a mysterious sort of life, shut up in a small tavern, seeing nobody by day and sitting up all night. The world gave him credit for passing these waking hours in the study of trente et quarante, and sept a lever; but I had seen too much passing before my eyes, to be ignorant that this little place was the rendezvous where a much deeper game… was playing. There were many persons at this time in the village from States lying adjacent to the Mississippi, under the pretence of purchasing government lands, but whose real object was to encourage the settlers in Texas to throw off their allegiance to the Mexican government.(19) Quoted in Wellman, op. cit., p. 150. (Close)

There were now some 20,000 white (Anglo) colonists and 2,000 black slaves in Texas, outnumbering the native Mexicans in the province four to one.

[ General Antonio López de Santa Anna ] Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna, 40, pictured here, issued the proclamation Plan of Cuernavaca, renouncing his earlier professed belief in liberalism, denounced all religious reforms, backed the wealthy property owners, discarded notions of racial equality, repealed the constitution of 1824, and decreed his own constitution making himself dictator. Then he suppressed in Zacatecas all opposition to his regime, with his forces massacring and raping the inhabitants.

The British Parliament abolished slavery throughout the British Empire, by a Parliamentary act passed the year before. Children under 6 were freed immediately, other slaves became apprentices for a year, and owners received compensation of £120 million.

The British Parliament defeated by a vote of 523 to 38 the motion of Irish political leader Daniel O'Connell, 59, to repeal the 1801 union of Great Britain and Ireland.

Parliament, persuaded through the efforts of Nassau Senior and Edwin Chadwick, passed the Poor Law Amendment Act requiring every able-bodied man receiving the dole to enter a workhouse. Only the sick and aged paupers would receive the dole. Senior had a serenely cruel philosophy behind the measure: If the poor know that they must either work or starve, they will work; if young men know that they will be helpless in their old age, they will save; if older men know that they need their children, they will take pains to secure their affection. Lest the workhouse become a favored haven, it was important to make life therein less desirable than the life of the worst-off independent worker.(20)

Quoted in Maurois, André, The Miracle of England: An Account of Her Rise to Pre-eminience and Present Position (New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1937), p. 419. (Close)

A fire in London destroyed both Houses of Parliament and a good deal of the city. Throngs of spectators on the Thames embankments applauded the fire.

Viscount Melbourne became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Joseph Aloysius Hansom, 31, introduced two-wheeled, one-horse cabs ("Hansom cabs") in London.

Robert Dale Owen, 63, and John Doherty, 36, led their Grand National Consolidated Trades Union, with half a million British workers as members, to strike for an 8-hour workday. George Loveless and five other workers set up a union lodge at Tolpuddle outside Dorchester, but the government cracked down and arrested them on the technical charge of "administering unlawful oaths" to members of their union. There were sentenced to be transported to New South Wales or Tasmania for 7 years. Massive demonstrations sprouted up throughout England. Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minister, refused to receive a petition of grievances with 250,000 signatures. There were a series of strikes, but they were unsuccessful. Owen buckled under, and the Grand National Consolidated Trades Union collapsed. Nonetheless, the public continued to demand the return of the "Tolpuddle martyrs."

King William IV disagreed with Melbourne's Irish church policy and dismissed him as Prime Minister, replacing him with Sir Robert Peel with a Conservative (Tory) government. Peel set forth the principles of the Conservative Party in his Tamworth Manifesto.

British statesman Lord Grenville died at the age of 80.

John Henry Newman, 33, at the Oriel College of Oxford University, delivered Tracts attacking the "national apostasy" of the Church of England in the Oxford Movement. The Church of England needed a basis in firm doctrine and discipline, rather than be an arm of the state. Was the Church of England a department of the Hannoverian state, to be governed by the forces of secular politics, or was it an ordinance of God? Were its pastors priests of the Catholic Church (as the Prayer Book insisted) or ministers of a Calvinistic sect? Did baptism bestow an indelible character on the soul? What does "consecration" of the eucharistic elements signify? Was the Reformation and Elizabethan Settlement a release from papal bondage, a disaster imposed by a heretical state, or a sophisticated via media between these two extremes? How were the "golden ages" of the early Church Fathers and Seventeenth Century Anglican theology to be recovered? Edward Bouverie Pusey, 34, continued his association with the movement.

General Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the American Revolution, died in France at the age of 76.

French teacher Louis Braille, 25, blind since the age of 3, perfected a system of characters to enable the blind to read.

The 3-volume Vom Krieg ("On War") by the late Prussian Army office Karl von Clausewitz was published posthumously.

Foundling Kaspar Hauser, supposed "Prince of Baden," was murdered at the age of 21.

The German Zollverein ("customs union") began operation; tariffs were eliminated among its members.

Spanish civil war

The Carlists (supporters of the pretender Don Carlos Maria Isídro de Bourbon, 46), consisting of the Church, the Basques, the Catalonians, and other conservative elements, claimed the Spanish throne and the overthrow of Queen Isabella II, 4, and the constitutional government. British Foreign Secretary Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston, 50, contrived the Quadruple Alliance of the United Kingdom, France, Portugal, and the Spanish government to defend her throne from the Carlists. Sir George de Lacy Evans, 47, organized a foreign legion to support Isabella.

The six-century-old Spanish Inquisition was finally abolished.

Portuguese civil war

Maria II, 15, ascended the Portuguese throne. Her father, Dom Pedro, died. The Quadruple Alliance expelled her rebellious brother, Dom Miguel, from Portugal, and the civil war was ended.

Italian struggle for unification

Giuseppe Mazzini, 29, expanded his secret society Giovine Italia ("Young Italy"), dedicated to Italian unification under a republican government, into a Young Europe movement. From his exile headquarters in London, he organized Young Germany, Young Poland, and similar groups.

Ottoman dissolution

Hostilities continued.

Kaffir War

The Bantu people ("Kaffirs") in South Africa rebelled against white rule in the Cape Colony. There were many severe clashes between the Bantus and the settlers expanding their cattle range on the eastern frontier of the colony. The Governor, Sir Benjamin D'Urban, drove them back and then annexed the territory between the rivers Keiskamma and Kei as a buffer against further incursions. Meanwhile, Boer farmers were irritated with the emancipation of the slaves and the abandonment of English farmers to their cause (due to the influence in the government of missionary Dr. John Philip and the London Missionary Society). When the missionaries persuaded the Colonial Secretary, Lord Glenelg, to repudiate D'Urban and abandon the new buffer province without compensating the new settlers, the Boers began to take the initiative and settle in the country north of the Orange River.

Some 35,000 slaves were freed in British-controlled South Africa, but many former slaveowners complained that their compensation for freeing them was inadequate.

The British Parliament passed the South Australia Act, allowing the establishment of a colony there. Edward Gibbon Wakefield, 38, obtained a charter with help from the former Prime Minister Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington, 65, and from historian George Grote, 38.

West Australian rancher Edward Henty and his brothers settled the area around Portland Bay, in what would become the colony of Victoria.

World science and technology

English chemist-physicist Michael Faraday, 42, published Law of Electrolysis; Russian physicist Heinrich Emil Lenz, 30, suggested that the direction of an electric current in a magnetic field produced an effect to oppose the circuit's motion; Jacob Perkins, 58, compressed distilled rubber, making it give off heat, thereby enabling water to be cooled to the freezing point; and English physicist Sir Charles Wheatstone, 32, measured the speed of an electric discharge using a revolving mirror.

French chemist Jean-Baptiste Dumas, 34, proved that the halogens can replace hydrogen in an organic compound; French physicist François Arago published Astronomie populaire; London wine merchant and optician Joseph Jackson Lister, 48, ascertained the actual form of red corpuscles in the blood of mammals; German geologist Christian Leopold von Buch, 60, published Theory of Volcanism; German chemist F. F. Runge, 39, discovered phenol (carbolic acid); German chemist Robert Wilhelm Bunsen, 23, discovered an antidote for arsenic poisoning; and Swiss mathematician Jakob Steiner, 36, became a professor at Berlin University.

World philosophy and religion

English economist Thomas Malthus died at the age of 68, and German theologian and philosopher D. E. Schleiermacher died at the age of 66.

German historian Leopold von Ranke, 39, published Die römischen Päpste ("The Roman Popes").

Arts and culture in the British Isles

English novelist Edward George Bulwer Lytton, 31, published The Last Days of Pompeii; politician Benjamin Disraeli, 30, published The Infernal Marriage; novelist Frederick Marryat, 42, published Peter Simple; author and critic Leigh Hunt, 50, published London Journal; composer John Barnett, 32, produced the opera The Mountain Sylph; architect William Wilkins, 56, began building the National Gallery in London; Irish poet Thomas Moore, 55, published the last of his Irish Melodies; and poet Robert Southey, 60, began composing The Doctor, which included the fairy tale "The Three Bears." Author William Blackwood died at the age of 58, illustrator and painter Thomas Southard died at the age of 79, essayist Charles Lamb died at the age of 59, and poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge died at the age of 62.

World arts and culture

French artist Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix, 36, painted Les Femmes d'Alger ("Algerian Women at Home"); and French painter Jean Auguste Dominque Ingres, 54, painted Martyrdom of Saint Symphorian. German inventor of lithography Aloys Senefelder died at the age of 63, and Anglo-German lithographer Rudolph Ackermann died at the age of 70.

French poet Alfred Louis Charles de Musset, 24, published Lorenzaccio; Russian poet Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin, 35, published The Queen of Spades; and French novelist Honoré de Balzac, 35, published Le Père Goriot.

Austrian composer Konradin Kreutzer, 54, produced the romantic opera Das Nachtlager in Granada ("The Night Camp at Granada") in Vienna; Austrian ballerina Fanny Eissler, 24, made her debut at the Paris Opéra; French composer Adolphe Adam, 31, produced Le Chalet; and French composer Hector Berlioz, 31, produced the symphony Harold en Italie. French composer François Adrien Boieldieu died at the age of 59.


The copyrighted material cited on this page comes under the definition of "Fair Use."

See also the general sources.