Christ's Lutheran Church in 1837

Pastor Thomas Lape, 36, replaced during this year with Adolphus Rumpf (often spelled Rumph), 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 Rumpf had come to Woodstock from a previous pastorate in Athens, where he had written a bitter letter about not being paid his salary.(1)

From Anderson, Mark J., For All the Saints: Christ's Lutheran Church, Woodstock, New York, 1806-2006 [Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2006], citing Beers, J. B., History of Athens Churches 1884. (Close)

[ 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."(2) Here Anderson, pp. 45-46, is 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.(3) 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)
A group of disaffected Lutheran clergy in Montgomery County, no doubt influenced by the Second Great Awakening, formed a secessionist synod, the Franckean Synod of the Evangelic [sic] Lutheran Church, far more unorthodox than the Hartwick Synod. Their tenets included the need to be "born again," a rejection of all creeds, the use of the title "Bishop," congregational autonomy, and an encouragement of moral reform through revivals, temperance, and abolition. The leader of the Hartwick Synod sent a letter to the Franckean Synod, accusing them of having renounced the Lutheran faith.(4) Here Anderson, p. 12, is citing Kreider, p. 102. (Close) The General Synod refused to recognize the Franckeans, and the New York Ministerium did not even deign to take notice of them.

According to the our church's record book, kept by Pastor Rumpf, the church council passed the following resolution on July 8:

Resolved that we connect ourselves with the Franckean Synod of the Ev Lutheran Church in the State of NY and adopt the constitution of said synod.
On October 29, the council met again and passed the following resolution:
Resolved that the resolution to join the Franckean Synod passed July 8th, 1837 by the Church council, be expunged, and is hereby considered null and void.
Church historian Mark Anderson speculates that although the pastor and council might have considered it a good idea to join the new synod, the congregation did not agree.

The Woodstock Region in 1837

Pastor William Boyse of the Woodstock Dutch Reformed Church resigned his pastorate because of his difficulties with the older, more conservative members of the congregation,

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 "young colonel" William W. 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. Likewise, the New York Tannery enjoyed good business practices of the young colonel. Other tanneries were not so lucky (although the small tanneries of John C. Ring and of Samuel, Philip A., or John Culver on the Tannery Brook in the heart of Woodstock hamlet stayed in business). Many turnpikes that reached the hemlock stands were now neglected or partly abandoned; Sullivan County tanners who could get their hides and ship their leathers over the Delaware and Hudson Canal had an advantage over those further north.

Region historian Alf Evers(5)

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, 62, 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 was having trouble managing the resources on his manor lands. Trespassing and unlawful lumbering had become 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 struggling to recoup his losses from his nearly bankrupt Esopus Creek Navigation Company.(6)

The material on the Esopus Creek Navigation Company is from ibid., pp. 171-78. (Close) This company had 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 would be floated downstream to market in New York City. Labor--the dangerous work on the rafts--was supposed to have been provided by all his numerous tenants who were in arrears on their rent (in other words, either get on the rafts or be evicted). It had been nearly impossible to get the recalcitrant tenants to do what he wanted them to, however, and his company had fallen apart.

Livingston's health had fallen apart as well: He was suffering nervous anxiety and rheumatic attacks that left him quite lame.

In an attempt to use Cooper Lake as a storage basin his company's logs, Livingston planned on diverting the lake's Sawkill outlet to force the water into the Beaverkill. He bought water rights at the old outlet from John Winne, planning to set up a turning mill, a cotton mill, or a cooperage beside Winne's sawmill.

Saugerties entrepreneurs, including Asa Bigelow of Malden on the Hudson, were able to get an enterprise chartered for building a railroad from the Hudson at Malden through the hamlet of Woodstock, up the Sawkill Valley to Lake Hill, across the Little Shandaken flats (Willow), and down the valley of the Beaverkill to The Corner (Mount Tremper), in order to enable tanners in the Catskills to haul out stripped logs to market on the Hudson. Livingston hoped that the railroad would dramatically enhance the value of his lands. His agent, Henry P. Shultis, 46, was confident that the railroad would more than recoup the considerable Livingston investment into the Esopus Creek Navigation Company(7):

Qutoed from ibid., pp. 176-77. (Close)
This Lake Hill will be a great market place for lumber of all kinds, in case the contemplated Rail Road from Mr. Isham's [Bristol Landing] to the Bushkill in Big Shandaken [would be built] this will be handy for to get Chordwood down from little Shandaken.
Being hardwood in nearly all cases, heavy cordwood had to be hauled by oxen rather than floated down, so a railroad would be a great advantage. Unfortunately, with the Panic of 1837, the railroad was never built. The Esopus Creek Navigation Company had now completely collapsed.

The New York Crown and Cylinder Glass Company of Bristol (Shady)--founded 27 years earlier by Stephen Stilwell as the Bristol Glass, Cotton and Clay Company just over the boundary from Livingston land--was still in business, however, even though the other Bristol glass factory, started 28 years earlier by Stephen's brother, Samuel (the Woodstock Glass Manufacturing Company) had succumbed to dire economic times (and perhaps mismanagement). Gordon's Gazateer credited New York Crown with 50 employees turning out a monthly production of 1500 boxes of window glass.(7)

Excerpted from Evers, Alf, Woodstock: History of an American Town, Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1987, p. 130. (Close) The company shipped its 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, its 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. John Fiero, 32. 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.

A colony of Jews settled at a place in the Town of Wawarsing that they named Sholam. They brought with them fine furniture, paintings, and gilded mirrors. Their industries included the manufacture of quill pens and fur caps and the mending of used clothing. Their synagoge was the first in the region.

Having survived nearly going out of business in 1834 because of a short-lived upturn in the general economy, James Powers's 14-year-old commodious hotel, the Catskill Mountain House near Kaaterskill Clove, was again in financial trouble due to the Panic of 1837. As in 1834, Powers's corporate entity, the Catskill Mountain Association, fell behind in its interest payments to its principal creditor, the Catskill Bank.

"Locofoco" radical Democrats in New York State, rebelling against the established Democratic Party Tammany organization and advocating hard money, the end of charter privileges, and the enforcement of strict accountability of representatives to their constituents, negotiated with Whigs and other possible allies for endorsements in local and statewide elections.

Former New Paltz and Hurley slave Isabella Bomefree Van Wagenen, 40, 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. By this time, she was attempting to raise her only son, Peter, 17, who was falling in with unsavory companions.

The United States in 1837

[ Martin Van Buren ]

Andrew Jackson (Democrat), 70, was President, succeeded during this year by Martin Van Buren, 57. The newly elected 25th Congress was in session. A dollar in that year would be worth $17.10 in 2006 for most consumable products.

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

The Roman emperor look continued to be fashionable for men. Aping the fashion of Great Britain, American men began growing mustaches.

It was considered vulgar to mention "trousers" or "pants." Here are some sample quotes that include substitutes for describing this garment:(8)

Quoted in McCutcheon, Marc, Everyday Life in the 1800s: A Guide for Writers, Students & Historians (Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books, 1993), p. 116, citing the Philadelphia Public Ledger (April 5, 1836); Knickerbocker Magazine (March 1837); Philadelphia Spirit of the Times (April 20, 1842). (Close)
The managers have resolved to insist upon their wearing stockings and unmentionables.

How could he see about procuring a pair of unwhisperables?

The child was wrapped in white linen, and then crammed into a bag made of the leg of a pair of inexpressibles.

[ Andrew Jackson ] Outgoing President Jackson delivered his Farewell Address, which included the following observation, ostensibly supporting states' rights:

In a country so extensive as the United States and with pursuits so varied, the internal regulations of the several States must frequently differ from one another in important particulars; and this difference is unavoidably increased by the varying principles upon which the American colonies were originally planted; principles which have taken deep root in their social relations before the Revolution, and, therefore, of necessity influencing their policy since they became free and independent states. But each state has an unquestionable right to regulate its own internal concerns.(9) Quoted in Fischer, David Hackett, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America, New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989, p. 848. (Close)
About the Indians, Jackson noted:
The states which had so long been retarded in their improvement by the Indian tribes residing in the midst of them are at length relieved from the evil, and this unhappy race--the original dwellers in our land--are now placed in a situation where we may well hope that they will share in the blessings of civilization.(10) Quoted in Morison, Samuel Eliot, The Oxford History of the American People, New York: Oxford University Press, 1965, p. 451. (Close)

President Jackson also was surprisingly lukewarm toward the movement to recognize the independence of the new Republic of Texas:

Recognition at this time… would scarcely be regarded as consistent with that prudent reserve with which we have heretofore held ourselves bound to treat all such similar questions.(11) Quoted in 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, 1966, p. 175. (Close)
Prudent reserve was hardly consistent with the President's attitude toward Texas heretofore. Jackson questioned William H. Wharton, envoy from Texas, about the boundaries of the new republic. When Wharton said he wasn't sure, Jackson proclaimed:
Texas must claim the Californias.… The fishing interests of the North and East wish a harbor on the Pacific.
In other words, those now resisting annexation of Texas would be reconciled to it were it to extend to the Pacific. Wharton wrote to Texas President Sam Houston, 44:
He is very earnest and anxious on this point of claiming the Californias, and says we must not consent to less.… This is in strict confidence. Glory to God in the highest.(12) Quoted in ibid. (Close)

On his last full day in office, President Jackson recognized Texas by appointing Alcée La Branche of Louisiana as Chargé d'Affaires to the Republic of Texas, thereby recognizing the new country. The Senate confirmed the appointment by midnight. At his Inauguration, President Martin Van Buren discoursed upon the American experiment as an example to the rest of the world. The outgoing President Jackson left Washington that afternoon on the Baltimore & Ohio Railway.

President Van Buren retained John Forsyth, 57, as his Secretary of State; appointed Joel Roberts Poinsett of South Carolina, 58, as his Secretary of War; appointed James Kirke Paulding of New York as his Secretary of the Navy; and retained Amos Kendall, 48, as his Postmaster General.

Southerners continued to agitate for the annexation of Texas (and thus the extension of slavery). But the Vermont legislature "solemnly protested" against the admission of any state "whose constitution tolerates domestic slavery." South Carolina Senator John Caldwell Calhoun, 55, commented that any attempt to exclude a state on account of its "peculiar institution" would be a virtual dissolution of the Union. The Alabama legislature resolved:

It needs but a glance at the map to satisfy the most superficial observer that an overbalance is produced by the extreme northeast, which as regards territory would be happily corrected and counterbalanced by the annexation of Texas,
which could be carved into several states, a New Slavonia to balance New England. A resolution for annexation was promptly introduced in the federal Congress, but it went nowhere.(13)

Quoted in Morison, op. cit., p. 553. (Close)

Panic of 1837

President Jackson had halted the land speculation mania the year before with his Specie Circular, ordering that the Treasury would receive nothing but hard money (gold or silver) for public lands. The land buying had stopped abruptly, since overextended banks had no specie (money in coins) to lend.

Demands for gold from English creditors reached the banks at the very time they were depleted to pay for Western lands. The British demands to call in American loans reduced the price of American cotton, then in oversupply. Planters could not repay their loans, especially in a season of poor and failed wheat crops that had been ravaged by the Hessian fly (the failed crops led to soaring grain prices). The failure of three English banking houses precipitated a crisis.

The public mood in America was alarm, and stock and commodity prices continued to tumble. After the failure of the New Orleans cotton brokerage Herman Briggs & Co., depositors demanded to withdraw their credit in hard money from wildcat banks. Merchandise and real estate prices plunged. Speculators abandoned their holdings to the banks, but the banks had not been able to recoup enough from the devalued foreclosures to recover their irresponsible loans. Stock prices fell even faster than real estate values.

Here is how college student George Templeton Strong. 17, described events in his diary:(14)

Quoted in Wellman, op. cit., p. 179. (Close)
April 12. Terrible lot of failures today, Mr. Hull and Abraham Ogden among them. Awful bad times. The merchants are going to the devil en masse. Hope they'll carry nobody else after them.…

April 27. Matters very bad.… Confidence annihilated.… Fears entertained for the banks, and if they go, God only knows what the consequences will be. Ruin here, and on the other side of the Atlantic, and not only private ruin but political convulsion and revolution, I think.… As for the banks, they are losing from five to fifty thousand dollars daily in the way of specie.… Where in the name of wonder is this all to end?

May 2. Matters worse and worse in Wall Street… prospect of universal ruin and general insolvency of the banks.… Business at a stand; the coal in Pennsylvania mines stopped and no fuel in prospect for next winter…

May 3.… Fresh failures.… So they go--smash, crash.… Near two hundred and fifty failures thus far!

May 4.… Terrible news in Wall Street. [John] Fleming, late president of the Mechanics Bank, found dead in his bed this morning. Some say prussic acid… a run on the bank--street crowded--more feeling of alarm and despondency in Wall Street than has appeared yet.… Fears entertained that tomorrow the attack will be general on all the banks; if so they'll go down and then all the banks from Maine to Louisiana must follow--universal ruin.

May 6.… There's a run on the Dry Dock Bank and the other banks have refused to sustain it!

May 9.… As I expected, there's a run on all banks, the depositors drawing out specie as fast as tellers can count it.

In New York, one bank "was jammed with depositors crying 'Pay, pay!'" reported a witness. New York banks suspended specie payments, and panic ensued. At least 800 banks suspended specie payment, and 618 banks failed before the year was out (many of them having deceived bank inspectors as to the amount of gold backing their banknotes). Banks all over the United States closed their doors.

Strong summed up the mood in his diary:(15)

Quoted in ibid., pp. 179-80. (Close)
May 10. Extensive news in this morning's paper. The banks (except three) have concluded to stop specie payment !!! Glory to the old General! Glory to little Marty [Martin Van Buren], second fiddler to the great Magician--ay, and double patent glory--to the experiment, the specie currency, and all the glorious humbugs who have inflicted them on us. Commerce and speculation here have been spreading of late like a card house, story after story and ramification after ramification till the building towered up to the sky and people rolled up their eyes in amazement, but at last one corner gave way and every card that dropped brought down a dozen with it, and sic transit gloria mundi! How people have grown rich of late! I often wondered when I heard how Messrs. A.B.C. and D. were worth a million apiece and how people were now worth half a million at least before they could be called more than paupers. I often wondered where all the money had come from and how such a quantity of wealth had found its way into the country. But there's the result of it.

New York businessman Philip Hone, 57, described in his diary on May 10 his view of the financial crisis:(16)

Quoted in Bailey, Thomas A., Kennedy, David M., and Cohen, Lizabeth, The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998, p. 289. (Close)
The savings-bank also sustained a most grievous run yesterday. They paid 375 depositors $81,000 ($1.4 million in 2006 dollars). The press was awful: the hour for closing the bank is six o'clock, but they did not get through the paying of those who were in at that time till nine o'clock. I was there with the other trustees and witnessed the madness of the people--women nearly pressed to death, and the stoutest men could scarcely sustain themselves; but they held on as with a death's grip upon the evidence of their claims, and, exhausted as they were with the pressure, they had the strength to cry "Pay! Pay!"
Specie disappeared from circulation, and employers began paying their workers in paper "shinplasters" of dubious value and often counterfeit. Some 39,000 Americans went bankrupt. $741 million was lost ($12.7 billion in 2006 dollars), and the resulting Depression reduced thousands to starvation. Cold and hungry people in the cities were forced to depend on private charity for food and fuel; long lines appeared before soup kitchens. A crowd attending a "bread, meat, rent, and fuel" meeting in Chatham Square in New York City, protesting the high cost of flour (following the failed wheat crops), stormed a flour warehouse and drove the police and the mayor to cover. About half of all the skilled workers in unions could no longer pay their dues, and the promising nascent labor movement collapsed.

The government lost $9 million ($154 million in 2006 dollars) through the collapse of the pet banks. President Van Buren summoned Congress for a special session. The newly elected 25th Congress authorized the use of U.S. Treasury notes not to exceed $10 million ($171 million) in order to ease the nation's financial crisis. The federal surplus that President Jackson had been so proud of disappeared overnight.

State governments that had overextended themselves in road- and canal-building projects defaulted on their debts, discouraging investors. The English lenders whom Americans had been reviling as "bloated British bond-holders," were bitter with the resulting default and open repudiation of American state bond debtors, inspiring one Englishman to offer the following new stanza for an old song:

Yankee Doodle borrows cash.
Yankee Doodle spends it,
And then he snaps his fingers at
The jolly flat who lends it.
Flat is a Briticism for "simpleton."

Resisting mounting pressure to revoke the Specie Circular, President Van Buren called an emergency session of Congress, and he advocated government retrenchment, addressing the new 25th Congress as follows:

All communities are apt to look to government for too much.… Even in our own country, where its powers and duties are so strictly limited, we are prone to do so, especially at periods of sudden embarrassment and distress.
To yield to this temptation, however, would be a mistake, he said, because "in all former attempts on the part of the Government" to "assume the management of domestic or foreign exchange" had, in his opinion "proved injurious." What was needed was a
system founded on private interest, enterprise, and competition, without the aid of legislative grants or regulations by law,
one that embodied the Jeffersonian maxim
that the less government interferes with private pursuits the better for the general prosperity.
The President therefore refrained
from suggesting to Congress any specific plan for regulating the exchanges of the country, relieving mercantile embarrassments, or interfering with the ordinary operation of foreign or domestic commerce,
because such measures
would not promote the real and permanent welfare of those they might be designed to aid.
[ Senator Daniel Webster ] Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster, 55, pictured here, a Whig, denounced the President's message for
leaving the people to shift for themselves.(17) Quoted in Hummell, Jeffrey Rogers, Martin Van Buren: The Greatest American President, originally prepared for a conference sponsored by the Ludwig von Mises Institute in October 1998, to appear in a forthcoming volume, Reassessing the Presidency [see the Web-based article at]. (Close)

Frankfurt banker August Belmont, 20, learned of the financial panic while en route to Havana on a business errand of Meyer Rothschild. After finishing the errand in Cuba, he offered to act as Rothschild agent in New York, and, without capital, he opened a small office on Wall Street that would in time become a powerful banking house.

The 25th Congress increased the number of Supreme Court justices from seven to nine.

Maine publisher Charles Coffin Little, 38, joined with James Brown, 37, to establish the publishing firm Little, Brown & Co. in Boston.

In spite of the economic distress, manufacturers in Massachusetts turned out $86 million ($1.5 billion in 2006 dollars) worth of products.

When Connecticut chemist Benjamin Silliman, 58, lectured on chemistry in Boston at what would 2 years later become the Lowell Institute, the rush for tickets caused a huge traffic jam, so great was the urge of the common man to improve himself.

Connecticut showman Phineas Taylor Barnum, 27, continued his career by exhibiting a 46-pound black ex-slave Joice Heth, alleged to be George Washington's midwife, the woman who brought him into the world in 1732, and over 161 years old. Over 10,000 New Yorkers jammed into Niblo's Garden to catch a glimpse of the "wonder." Unfortunately, Joice died this year, and autopsies proved that she could not have been more than 80 years old.

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

New York City contained the following Irish gangs in the Five Points area: the Roach Guards, the Plug Uglies, the Shirt Tales, and the Dead Rabbits.

Merchant Charles Lewis Tiffany, 25, opened his Tiffany's Stationery and Fancy Goods Store near City Hall in New York City, and with his partner, John B. Young, stocked it with Chinese bric-a-brac, pottery, and umbrellas, as well as stationery.

George P. Putnam, 23, began campaigning for international copyright agreements.

The New York and Harlem Railroad was completed, with horsecars.

The Pennsylvania Canal was completed, helping the development of Pittsburgh.

The Baltimore Sun, founded by printer Arunah S. Abell, began publication, selling for 1 cent per copy.

Candlemaker William Procter, 35, and his soap-boiler brother-in-law James Gamble, 34, founded the Procter & Gamble Company in Cincinnati, grossing $50,000 their first year ($855,000 in 2006 dollars), despite competition from 11 local soap and candle factories and from housewives who made their own soap out of grease, fat, and clean wood ashes boiled in backyard kettles.

Bell-voiced preacher Charles Grandison Finney, 45, probably the greatest American evangelist, conducted religious revivals in country settlements in the Northeast and Midwest, urging true Christians to join reform movements. Finney was part of the Transcendental Awakening (also called the "Second Great Awakening," also called the era of "Romantic Evangelicalism" and "Transcendental Idealism")(18),

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) a movement that at last, with the Panic of 1837, began to wane. The movement had been 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.

[ Ralph Waldo Emerson ] Massachusetts philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, 34, delivered at Harvard the lecture "The American Scholar," calling for intellectual independence from the past, from Europe, and from every obstacle to originality. Disgusted with the new industrial society of New England, he saw himself as pitting "spiritual powers" against "the mechanical powers and the mechanical philosophy of this time." He urged American writers to throw off European traditions and delve into the riches of their own backyards. (The professors were so incensed at his views that they would not invite him back for 30 years.)

Harvard graduate Henry David Thoreau, 19, enlarged on Emerson's "Nature" theme from 1836, advocated that man should work for one day and spend the remaining six days contemplating the "sublime revelations of nature." Emerson also published during this year Hymn, Sung at the Completion of the Concord Monument, including the line "… fired the shot heard round the world."

There was not a "reading man" who was not without some scheme for a new utopia in his "waistcoat pocket," claimed Emerson from Boston, "the Athens of America." 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.

The fervor gave birth to the "Transcendentalist" school of philosophy in New England, championed by Emerson as well as Thoreau, resulting in part from a liberalizing of the straitjacket Puritan theology. It also owed much to foreign influences, including the German romantic philosophers and the religions of Asia. The Transcendentalists rejected the prevailing theory, derived from John Locke, that all knowledge comes to the mind through the senses. Truth, rather, "transcends" the senses: It cannot be found by observation alone. Every person possesses an inner light that can illuminate the highest truth and put him or her in direct touch with God, or the "Oversoul." These mystical doctrines defied precise definition, but they underlay concrete beliefs. Foremost was a stiff-backed individualism in matters religious as well as social. Closely associated was a commitment to self-reliance, self-culture, and self-discipline. These traits naturally bred hostility to authority and to formal institutions of any kind, as well as to all conventional wisdom.

In the Western world the romantic movement was a revolt against the bloodless logic of the Age of Reason [and the "corpse-cold" Unitarianism, in Emerson's words, of the previous New England generation.… Ardent love of country was characteristic of this movement; individualism, ingeniousness, emotion were its bywords. Romanticism so obviously fitted the mood of Nineteenth Century America that one is tempted to think of it as an American way of looking at life despite its European origins. Interest in raw nature and in primitive peoples, worship of the individual, praise of the common folk culture, subordination of intellect to feeling,… Jacksonian Democracy with its self-confidence, careless prodigality, contempt for learning, glorification of the ordinary--… romanticism found a congenial home in the United States.… The romantic way of thinking found its best expression… in the Transcendentalist movement. Transcendentalism, a New England creation, is difficult to describe because it emphasized the indefinable and the unknowable; it was a mystical, intuitive way of looking at life. Man was truly divine, the Transcendentalists believed, because he was part of nature, itself the essence of divinity. Man's intellectual capacity did not define his capabilities, for he could "transcend" reason by having faith in himself and in the fundamental benevolence of the universe. Organized religion was unimportant; what mattered was that a man aspire. He must stretch himself beyond his known capabilities; in truth, since he was part of the "Over-Soul," his capacities had no limits. Failure resulted only from lack of effort. The expression "hitch your wagon to a star" is of Transcendentalist origin."(19) Quoted in Garraty, John A., The American Nation: A History of the United States, New York: Harper and Row, 1966, pp. 352-53. (Close)

The exaltation of the individual, whether black or white, was the mainspring of a whole array of humanitarian reforms.(20)

Much of the following, including the quoted material at the end of this paragraph, is from Morison, op. cit., p. 437; Wellman, 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.(21)

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.(22)

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

The optimistic promises of the Second Great Awakening inspired countless souls to do battle against earthly evils.(23)

Quoted extensively from Bailey, Kennedy, and Cohen, op. cit., pp. 336-37. (Close) The Transcendental idealists dreamed anew the old Puritan vision of a perfected society: free from cruelty, war, intoxicating drink, discrimination, and--ultimately--slavery. Women were particularly prominent in these reform crusades, especially in their own struggle for suffrage. For many middle-class women, the reform campaigns provided a unique opportunity to escape the confines of the home and enter the arena of public affairs. In part, the practical, activist Christianity of these reformers resulted from their desire to reaffirm traditional values as they plunged ever further into a world disrupted and transformed by the turbulent forces of a market economy.

John Humphrey Noyes, 26, a founder of the Free Church of New Haven, who had proclaimed that the Second Coming of Christ had already occurred in A.D. 70, continued to advocate the doctrine of perfectionism, holding that a person could become sinless by working at it.

[ Joseph Smith ] Joseph Smith, 32, pictured here, of Kirtland, OH, was the "Prophet" of the 7-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 Mormon 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, 31, 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).

During the preceding year, Smith helped to organize the Kirtland Safety Society (KSS), a quasi-bank to serve the banking needs of the growing Mormon community. Following legal advice at the beginning of this year, Smith organized the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company (KSSABC), a joint stock company to bypass the refusal of the Ohio legislature to charter the KSS as a bank. With the widespread banking collapse associated with the Panic of 1837, the KSSABC failed and its business closed. Non-Mormons, and many newly ruined Mormons as well, charged that the KSS and KSSABC had been engaged in illegal, unethical, or fraudulent actions nearly from their formation. Disaffected Mormons left the congregation in droves.

The American Presbyterians split into the "old" and "new" schools.

William Ladd of Maine, 59, founder of the American Peace Society, continued to propose the establishment of a "Congress and High court of Nations" to promote principles of international law and to arbitrate disputes between nations.

Horace Mann, 41, the Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education, began his educational reforms in Massachusetts. He campaigned effectively for more and better schoolhouses, longer school terms, higher pay for teachers, and an expanded curriculum.

Educational advances were aided by improved textbooks, notably those of Noah Webster (the "Schoolmaster of the Republic"), whose "reading lessons" promoting patriotism were used by millions of children, and William H. McGuffey, whose grade-school readers sold hundreds of millions of copies and hammered home lasting lessons in morality, patriotism, and idealism.(24)

This description of education in America liberally quoted from ibid., pp. 334-36. (Close) One copy exercise ran:
Beautiful hands are they that do
Deeds that are noble good and true;
Beautiful feet are they that go
Swiftly to lighten another's woe.

Muskingum College was founded by Presbyterians in New Concord, Ohio.

Oberlin College in Ohio opened its doors to women as well as to men.

After 2 years of raising money at small meetings, parlor gatherings, and sewing circles, Mary Mason Lyon, 40, proposing to give the best possible education to women of modest means, founded Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Mossback critics scoffed that

they'll be educating cows next.

A pastoral letter from the General Association of Ministers of Massachusetts instructed ministers to limit the participation of women:

We invite your attention to the dangers which at present seem to threaten the female character with wide spread and permanent injury. The appropriate duties and influence of women, are clearly stated in the New Testament. Those duties and that influence are unobtrusive and private, but the sources of mighty power. When the mild, dependent, softening influence of woman upon the sternness of man's opinions is fully exercised, society feels the effects of it in a thousand forms. The power of woman is in her dependence, flowing from the consciousness of that weakness which God has given her for her protection and which keeps her in those departments of life that form the character of individuals and of the nation. There are social influences which females use in promoting piety and the great objects of christian benevolence, which we cannot too highly commend. We appreciate the unostentatious prayers and efforts of woman, in advancing the cause of religion at home and abroad:--in Sabbath schools, in leading religious inquirers to their pastor for instruction, and in all such associated effort as becomes the modesty of her sex; and earnestly hope that she may abound more and more in these labours of piety and love.

But when she assumes the place and tone of a man as a public reformer, our care and protection of her seem unnecessary, we put ourselves in self defence against her, she yields the power which God has given her for protection, and her character becomes unnatural. If the vine, whose strength and beauty is to lean upon the trellis work and half conceal its clusters, thinks to assume the independence and the overshadowing nature of the elm, it will not only cease to bear fruit, but fall in shame and dishonour into the dust. We cannot, therefore, but regret the mistaken conduct of those who encourage females to bear an obtrusive and ostentatious part in measures of reform, and countenance any of that sex who so far forget themselves as to itinerate in the character of public lecturers and teachers. We especially deplore the intimate acquaintance and promiscuous conversation of females with regard to things "which ought not to be named;" by which that modesty and delicacy which is the charm of domestic life, and which constitute the true influence of women in society are consumed, and the way opened, as we apprehend, for degeneracy and ruin. We say these things, not to discourage proper influences against sin, but to secure such reformation as we believe is scriptural and will be permanent.

[ Angelina Grimké ] Angelina Grimké, 32, pictured here, and her older sister, Sarah Grimké, 45, who had left Charleston, SC, 8 years earlier and had become Quaker abolitionists, were becoming well known for their outspoken addresses against slavery, shocking audiences in the North. In one newspaper editorial, some New England ministers scolded the sisters(25):

Excerpted from Grimké, Sarah, Letter in Response to the Pastoral Letter, reproduced by Professor Margaret D. Zulick, Wake Forest University (, accessed 25 January 2007; Davidson, James West, and Stoff, Michael B., The American Nation, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1986, 1995, p. 409. (Close)
We invite your attention to the dangers which at present seem to threaten the FEMALE CHARACTER with wide-spread and permanent injury.… The appropriate duties and influence of women are clearly stated in the New Testament. Those duties are unobtrusive and private, but the sources of mighty power. When the mild, dependent, softening influence of woman upon the sternness of man's opinions is fully exercised, society feels the effects of it in a thousand ways.… We appreciate the unostentatious prayers and efforts of woman in advancing the cause of religion at home and abroad, in leading religious inquirers TO THE PASTOR for instruction.… [When] woman assumes the place and tone of man as a public reformer, our care and protection of her seem unnecessary; we put ourselves in self-defense against her, and her character becomes unnatural.…
Angelina responded to such sexism:
The investigation of the rights of the slave has led me to a better understanding of my own.
Sarah wrote with passionate power in a series of letters "on the Condition of Women and the Equality of the Sexes"(26): Quoted from Zinn, Howard, A People's History of the United States, 1492-Present, New York: HarperCollins, 1980, 1995, 1999; Perennial, 2003, pp. 120-21. (Close)
During the early part of my life, my lot was cast among the butterflies of the fashionable world, and of this class of women, I am constrained to say, both from experience and observation, that their education is miserably deficient; that they are taught to regard marriage as the only thing needful, the only avenue to distinction.… I ask no favors for my sex. I surrender not our claim to equality. All I ask of our brethren is that they will take their feet from off our necks, and permit us to stand upright on the ground which God has designed us to occupy.… To me it is perfectly clear that whatsoever it is morally right for a man to do, it is morally right for a woman to do.
Fellow abolitionist Theodore Dwight Weld, 34, who would marry Angelina the following year, admonished the sisters that they should first secure rights for blacks and only afterward work for women's rights(27): This quote from Weld and the sisters' answer are from "A Private Debate about Abolition and Women's Rights" in Teach U.S. History (, accessed 9 February 2008. (Close)
I had it in my heart to make a suggestion to you in my last letter about your course touching the "rights of women," but it was crowded out by other matters perhaps of less importance.… I advocate… that woman in EVERY particular shares equally with man rights and responsibilities.… Now notwithstanding this, I do most deeply regret that you have begun a series of articles in the Papers on the rights of woman. Why, my dear sisters, the best possible advocacy which you can make is just what you are making day by day. Thousands hear you every week who have all their lives held that woman must not speak in public. Such a practical refutation of the dogma as your speaking furnishes has already converted multitudes.… Besides you are Southerners, have been slaveholders; your dearest friends are all in the sin and shame and peril. All these things give you great access to northern mind, great sway over it.… You can do more at convincing the north than twenty northern females, tho' they could speak as well as you. Now this peculiar advantage you lose the moment you take another subject. You come down from your vantage ground. Any women of your powers will produce as much effect as you on the north in advocating the rights of free women (I mean in contradistinction to slave women).… Now can't you leave the lesser work to others… and devote, consecrate your whole bodies, souls and spirits to the greater work which you can do far better and to far better purpose than any body else.… Let us all first wake up the nation to lift millions of slaves of both sexes from the dust, and turn them into MEN and then when we all have our hand in, it will be an easy matter to take millions of females from their knees and set them on their feet, or in other words transform them from babies into women.…
The sisters responded to Weld thus:
You seem greatly alarmed at the idea of our advocating the rights of woman.… These letters have not been the means of arousing the public attention to the subject of Woman's rights, it was the Pastoral Letter which did the mischief. The ministers seemed panic struck at once and commenced a most violent attack upon us.… This Letter then roused the attention of the whole country to enquire what right we had to open our mouths for the dumb; the people were continually told "it is a shame for a woman to speak in the churches." Paul suffered not a woman to teach but commanded her to be in silence. The pulpit is too sacred a place for woman's foot, etc.… [T]his invasion of our rights was just such an attack upon us, as that made upon Abolitionists generally when they were told a few years ago that they had no right to discuss the subject of Slavery. Did you take no notice of this assertion? Why no! With one heart and one voice you said, We will settle this right before we go one step further. The time to assert a right is the time when that right is denied. We must establish this right, for if we do not, it will be impossible for us to go on with the work of Emancipation.… And can you not see that women could do, and would do a hundred times more for the slave if she were not fettered? Why! we are gravely told that we are out of our sphere even when we circulate petitions; out of our "appropriate sphere" when we speak to women only; and out of them when we sing in the churches. Silence is our province, submission our duty. If then we "give no reason for the hope that is in us," that we have equal rights with our brethren, how can we expect to be permitted much longer to exercise those rights?… If we are to do any good in the Anti Slavery cause, our right to labor in it must be firmly established.… How can we expect to be able to hold meetings much longer when people are so diligently taught to despise us for thus stepping out of the "sphere of woman!" Look at this instance: after we had left Groton the Abolition minister there, at Lyceum meeting poured out his sarcasm and ridicule upon our heads and among other things said, he would as soon be caught robbing a hen roost as encouraging a woman to lecture.… [I]f the leaders of the people thus speak of our labors, how long will we be allowed to prosecute them?… They utterly deny our right to interfere with this or any other moral reform except in the particular way they choose to make out for us to walk in.… If we surrender the right to speak to the public this year, we must surrender the right to petition next year and the right to write the year after and so on. What then can woman do for the slave when she is herself under the feet of man and shamed into silence?… Anti Slavery men are trying very hard to separate what God hath joined together. I fully believe that so far from keeping different moral reformations entirely distinct that no such attempt can ever be successful.… They blend with each other like the colors of the rain bow.… As there were prophetesses as well as prophets, so there ought to be now female as well as male ministers.…

Nutritionist Sylvester Graham, 43, published Treatise on Bread and Breadmaking, inveighing against refined white flour. He also preached against pepper, catsup, mustard, fats, and meat, calling them injurious to health and stimulating to carnal appetites.

James Bulloch, a Presbyterian parson from Georgia, brought his domestic slave Nancy Jackson with him when he moved to Hartford, CT. Heretofore, slaveholders had always been allowed to bring slaves with them in and out of free states as a matter of interstate comity. But this time, abolitionist Theodore Dwight Weld, 34, brought suit to show cause why Nancy should be kept in bondage in a free state. During the trial of Jackson v. Bulloch before the Connecticut Supreme Court of Errors, it was reported that Jackson's yearning for her freedom was so intense that she held tightly in her hand a lethal dose of opium that she intended to swallow should she be ordered to return to Georgia as a slave. Jackson won her case and her freedom.

Savage beatings of slaves made sullen laborers, and lash marks hurt resale values. There are, to be sure, sadistic monsters in any population, and the planter class contained its share. But the typical planter had too much of his own prosperity riding on the backs of his slaves to beat them bloody on a regular basis.

Wherever they worked, owners expected slave children to acquire habits of obedience and industriousness.(28)

Much of the following has been quoted from Schwartz, Marie Jenkins., Born in Bondage: Growing Up Enslaved in the Antebellum South, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000, pp. 118ff; the catechism is from Bailey, Kennedy, and Cohen, op. cit., p. 375. (Close) Many considered religious instruction to be useful in this regard. One South Carolina rice planter bragged that many of his slaves performed "their services for me as a religious duty." Religious education helped justify slavery in the minds of many slaveholders, who believed that Africans and their descendants benefited from the exposure to Christianity that had accompanied their enslavement. Members of the Southern clergy joined the growing ranks of Southerners who found support for the South's "peculiar institution" in biblical passages. Planters had come to believe that religious instruction might prove a new means of social control and help stabilize slavery in the South. Sunday schools were established on the home plantation.

All religious instruction by the owning class stressed the importance of obedience and respect for the Southern social order. Slaves were admonished to obey owners, and heaven was likened to working in God's kitchen. Slaves were instructed on the value of serving others so as to better serve the Lord.

If you can't serve your earthly father [the plantation owner], how can you serve your Heavenly Father?
A catechism for blacks contained such passages as,
Q. Who gave you a master and a mistress?
A. God gave them to me.
Q. Who says that you must obey them?
A. God says that I must.

[ John Caldwell Calhoun of South Carolina ] South Carolina Senator Calhoun, pictured here, was certain that no wealthy or civilized society could exist unless one portion of the community lived upon the labor of another and that a beneficent providence had brought to the South a race created by God to be hewers of woods and drawers of water for masters where were thereby relieved from manual labor and sordid competition and could attain that intellectual and spiritual eminence of which the Founding Fathers had dreamed. He criticized the North's criticism of the peculiar institution of slavery:

It has compelled us to the South to look into the nature and character of this great institution, and to correct many false impressions that even we had entertained in relation to it. Many in the South once believed that it was a moral and political evil; that folly and delusion are gone; we see it now in its true light, and regard it as the most safe and stable basis for free institutions in the world.

New Jersey abolitionist Theodore S. Wright, 40, a free black man, addressed(29)

Quoted in Ravitch, Diane, The American Reader: Words That Moved a Nation, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1990, pp. 104-06. (Close) the New York Anti-Slavery Society in Utica, NY, in favor of a resolution castigating the hypocritical attitude of supposedly anti-slavery Northerners who were filled with racist prejudice:
Resolved, that the prejudice peculiar to our country, which subjects our colored brethren to a degrading distinction in our worship, assemblies, and schools, which withholds from them that kind and courteous treatment to which as well as other citizens, they have a right, at public houses, on board steamboats, in stages, and in places of public concourse, is the spirit of slavery, is nefarious and wicked and should be practically reprobated and discountenanced.

… The prejudice which exists against the colored man .… is like the atmosphere, everywhere felt by him. It is true that in these United States and in this State, there are men, like myself, colored with the skin like my own, who are not subjected to the lash, who are not liable to have their wives and their infants torn from them; from whose hand the Bible is not taken. It is true that we may walk abroad; we may enjoy our domestic comforts, our families; retire to the closet; visit the sanctuary, and may be permitted to urge on our children and our neighbors in well doing. But sir, still we are slaves--everywhere we feel the chain galling us. It is by that prejudice which the resolution condemns, the spirit of slavery, the law which has been enacted here, by a corrupt public sentiment, through the influence of slavery which treats moral agents different from the rule of God, which treats them irrespective of their morals or intellectual cultivation. This spirit is withering all our hopes, and oftimes causes the colored parent as he looks upon his child, to wish he had never been born.…

[This] killing influence… cuts us off from everything; it follows us up from childhood to manhood; it excludes us from all stations of profit, usefulness and honor; takes away from us all motive for pressing forward in enterprises, useful and important to the world and to ourselves.… A colored man can hardly learn a trade, and if he does it is difficult for him to find any one who will employ him to work at that trade, in any part of the State. In most of our large cities there are associations of mechanics who legislate out of their society colored men.… At present, we find the colleges barred against them.

I will say nothing about the inconvenience which I have experienced myself, and which every man of color experiences, though made in the image of God. I will say nothing about the inconvenience of traveling: how we are frowned upon and despised. No matter how we may demean ourselves, we find embarrassments everywhere.

But sir, the prejudice goes further. It debars men from heaven. While sir, slavery cuts off the colored portion of the community from religious privileges men are made infidels. What, they demand, is your Christianity? How do you regard your brethren? How do you treat them at the Lord's table? Where is your consistency in talking about the heathen, traversing the ocean to circulate the Bible everywhere, while you frown upon them at the door?…

Blessed be God for the anti-slavery movement. Blessed be God that there is a war waging with slavery, that the granite rock is about to be rolled from its base. But as long as the colored man is to be looked upon as an inferior caste, so long will they disregard his cries, his groans, his shrieks.…

Let me, through you, sir, request this delegation to take hold of this subject. This will silence the slaveholder, when he says where is your love for the slave? Where is your love for the colored man who is crushed at your feet? Talking to us about emancipating our slaves when you are enslaving them by your feelings, and doing more violence to them by your prejudice, than we are to our slaves by our treatment. They call on us to evince our love for the slave, by treating man as man, the colored man as a man, according to his worth.

[ John Quincy Adams ] Abolitionists sent tens of thousands of anti-slavery petitions to the 25th Congress. The House of Representatives continued to pass "gag resolutions," declaring that all petitions or papers "relating in any way" to slavery or the abolition thereof be "laid on the table" (and forgotten) without liberty of debate, and receive no further action. Massachusetts Congressman John Quincy Adams, 70, pictured here, continued to denounce the gag rule, in spite of exasperated threats of censure, expulsion, and even assassination. He continued to present such petitions, which had been addressed to him, one by one, sometimes as many as 200 in a single day, demanding the attention of the House of Representatives to each separate petition, thereby defending the right of even the poorest and humblest American to petition Congress. After offering a new mass of petitions,

none of which he was permitted even to read, he paused to arrange the papers on his desk, and suddenly glancing at one of them, took it up and in his hoarse voice exclaimed:
Mr. Speaker, I have in my possession a petition of somewhat extraordinary character; and I wish to inquire of the chair if it be in order to present it.
Asked the character of the petition, Adams replied,
Sir, the petition is signed by eleven slaves of the town of Fredericksburg, in the county of Culpepper, in the state of Virginia.… It is signed partly by persons who cannot write, by making their marks, and partly by persons whose handwriting would manifest that they have received the education of slaves, and I am requested to present it. I will send it to the chair.
[ James K. Polk ] The Speaker was James Knox 'Young Hickory' Polk, 41, pictured here, later to be President. He had throughout the bitter controversy extended to Adams every possible courtesy. Now he said that a petition from slaves was a novelty, and he would like time to consider it.

A violent interruption came from Dixon H. Lewis of Alabama. "By God, sir, this is not to be endured any longer!" he exclaimed, turning toward Adams.

Treason! Treason! Expel the old scoundrel! Do not let him disgrace the House any longer!
came cries from other members.

Quickly a resolution was drawn up by George C. Dromgoole of Virginia, followed by other resolutions of the same tenor, to the effect that inasmuch as Mr. Adams had presented to the House a petition signed by slaves, whereas bondmen had no right of petition, he should be

taken to the bar of the House and censured by the Speaker thereof.
Throughout this furore Adams remained silent. The very idea of bringing the venerable former President, now in his seventies, to the bar like a common culprit, to be reprimanded by a comparatively youthful Speaker, was disgraceful and absurd, and Polk was against it. He insisted that Adams be given a chance to speak. The old man turned upon his assailants, with a brief statement defending his right to bring up petitions. Then he went on to say:
Now, as to the fact of what the petition was for, I simply state to the gentleman… who has sent to the table a resolution assuming that this petition was for the abolition of slavery--I state to him that he was mistaken. He must amend his resolution… he must amend his resolution in a very important particular; for he may probably put into it that my 'crime' was for attempting to introduce the petition of slaves that slavery should not be abolished.
A roar of mirth from the House greeted this startling reversal, and the resolutions were laughed out of existence.

Still the "Gag Rule" remained, and still Adams fought it. Still he maintained that it was his duty to present any petition; for the right of petition belonged to all, whether he concurred with it or was utterly opposed to it.(30)

Quoted in Wellman, op. cit., pp. 202-203. (Close)

Pennsylvania former slave and lumberyard owner William Whipper, 33, published the following address, "An Address on Non-Resistance to Offensive Aggression," in the periodical Colored American, advocating passive resistance in antislavery efforts:

Resolved, That the practice of non-resistance to physical aggression, is not only consistent with reason, but the surest method of obtaining a speedy triumph of the principles of universal peace.

Mr. President,

The above resolution presupposes, that if there were no God, to guide, and govern, the destinies of man on this planet, no Bible to light his path through the wilds of sin, darkness and error, and no religion to give him a glorious, and lasting consolation, while traversing the gloomy vale of despondency, and to light up his soul anew, with fresh influence, from the fountain of Divine grace,--that mankind might enjoy an exalted state of civilization, peace, and quietude, in their social, civil, and international relations, far beyond that which christians now enjoy, who profess to be guided, guarded and protected by the great Author of all good, and the doctrines of the Prince of Peace. But, sir, while I am assuming the position, that the cause of peace amongst mankind, may be promoted without the scriptures, I would not, for a single moment, sanction the often made assertion, that the doctrines of the holy scriptures justify war--for they are in my humble opinion its greatest enemy. And I further believe, that as soon as they become fully understood, and practically adopted, wars, and strife will cease. I believe that every argument urged in favor of what is termed a "just and necessary war," or physical self-defence, is at enmity with the letter, and spirit of the scriptures, and when they emanate from its professed advocates should be repudiated, as inimical to the principles they profess, and a reproach to christianity itself. I have said this much in favor of the influence of the scriptures, on the subject of peace. It is neither my intention, nor my province, under the present resolution, to give proofs for my belief by quotations from holy writ. That portion of the discussion, I shall leave to the minister to the altar, and the learned and biblical theologian. Though I may make a few incidental quotations hereafter, I shall now pass on for a few brief moments to the resolution under consideration, viz.:

The resolution asserts, that the practice of non-resistance to physical aggression is consistent with reason. A very distinguished man asserts, "that reason is that distinguishing characteristic that separates man from the brute creation," and that this power was bestowed upon him by his Maker, that he might be capable of subduing all subordinate intelligences to his will." It is this power when exerted in its full force, that enables him to conquer the animals of the forest, and which makes him lord of creation. There is a right, and a wrong method of reasoning. The latter is governed by our animal impulses, and wicked desires, without regard to the end to be attained. The former fixes its premises, in great fundamental, and unalterable truths--surveys the magnitude of the objects, and the difficulties to be surmounted, and calls to its aid the resources of enlightened wisdom, as a landmark by which to conduct its operations.

It is self-evident, that when the greatest difficulties surround us, we should summon our noblest powers. "Man is a being formed for action as well as contemplation;" "For this purpose there are interwoven in his constitution, powers, instincts, feelings and affections, which have a reference to his improvement in virtue, and which excite him to promote the happiness of others." When we behold them by their noble sentiments, exhibiting sublime virtues and performing illustrious actions, we ascribe the same to the goodness of their hearts, their great reasoning powers and intellectual abilities. For were it not for these high human endowments we should never behold men in seasons of calamity, displaying tranquility and fortitude in the midst of difficulties and dangers, enduring poverty and distress with a noble heroism, suffering injuries and affronts with patience and serenity--stifling resentment when they have it in their power to inflict vengeance--displaying kindness and generosity towards enemies and slanderers--submitting to pain and disgrace in order to promote the prosperity of their friends and relatives, or the great interests of the human race. Such acts may be considered by persons of influence and rank as the offspring of pusillanimity, because they themselves are either incapable of conceiving the purity of the motives from which they emanate, or are too deeply engulfed in the ruder passions of our nature, to allow them to bestow a just tribute to the efforts of enlightened reason.

It is happy for us to contemplate, that every age, both of the pagan and the christian world, has been blessed, that they always have fastened their attention on the noblest gifts of our nature, and that they now still shine as ornaments to the human race, connecting the interests of one generation with that of another. Rollin, in speaking of Aristides and Just, says "that an extraordinary greatness of souls made him superior to every passion. Interest, pleasure, ambition, resentment and judgment, were extinguished in him by the love of virtue and his country," and just in proportion as we cultivate our intellectual faculties, we shall strengthen our reasoning powers, and be prepared to become his imitators.

Our country and the world have become the munificent patron of many powerful, existing evils, that have spread their devastating influence over the best interests of the human race. One of which is the adopting of the savage custom of wars, and fighting as a redress of grievances, instead of some means more consistent with reason and civilization.

The great law of love forbids our doing aught against the interests of our fellow men. It is altogether inconsistent with reason and common sense, for persons when they deem themselves insulted, by the vulgar aspersions of others, to maltreat their bodies for the acts of their minds. Yet how frequently do we observe those that are blest by nature and education, (and if they would but aspire to acts that bear a parallel to their dignified minds, they would shine as illustrious stars, in the created throngs,) that degrade themselves by practising this barbarous custom, suited only to tyrants--because in this they may be justly ranked with the untutored savages of the animals of the forest, that are impelled only by instinct.

Another fatal error arises from the belief that the only method of maintaining peace, is always to be ready for war. The spirit of war can never be destroyed by all the butcheries and persecutions the human mind can invent. The history of all the "bloody tragedies," by which the earth has been drenched by human blood, cannot be justified in the conclusion, for it is the spirit of conquest that feeds it--Thomas Dick, after collecting the general statistics of those that have perished by the all desolating pestilence of war, says "it will not be overrating the destruction of human life, if we affirm, that one tenth of the human race has been destroyed by the ravages of war,"--and if this estimate be admitted, it will follow that more than fourteen thousand millions of beings have been slaughtered in war since the beginning of the world, which is about eighteen times the number of its present inhabitants. This calculation proceeds from a geographical estimate, "that since the Mosaic creation one hundred and forty-five thousand millions of being have existed."

But, sir, it is not my intention to give a dissertation, on the subject of national wars, although it appropriately belongs to my subject. I decline it only for the simple reason, that it would be inapplicable to us as a people, while we may be more profitably employed in inveighing against the same evil as practised by ourselves, although it exists under another form, but equally obnoxious to the principles of reason and christianity. My reason for referring to national wars, was to exhibit by plain demonstration, that the war principle, which is the production of human passions, has never been, nor can ever be, conquered by its own elements.--Hence, if we ever expect the word of prophecy to be fulfilled--"when the swords shall be turned into plough-shares, and the spears into pruning-hooks, and that the nations of the earth shall learn war no more," we must seek the destruction of the principle that animates, quickens, and feeds it, by the elevation of another more powerful, and omnipotent, and preservative; or mankind will continue, age after age, to march on in their made career, until the mighty current of time will doubtless sweep thousands of millions more into endless perdition, beyond the reach of mercy, and the hope of future bliss. Thus the very bones, sinews, muscles, and immortal mind, that God, in his infinite mercy has bestowed on man, that he might work out his own glory, and extend the principles of "Righteousness, justice, peace on earth, and good-will to their fellow men," are constantly employed in protracting the period when the glorious millennium shall illumine our world, "and righteousness cover the earth as the water of the great deep."

The love of power is one of the greatest of human infirmities, and with it comes the usurping influence of despotism, the mother of slavery. Show me any country or people where despotism reigns triumphant, and I will exhibit to your view the spirit of slavery, whether the same be incorporated into their government or not. It is this principle of despotism, (which is nothing but an exercise of the corrupt passions,) that sends forth its poignant influence over professedly civilized nations, as well as the more barbarous tribes. It is alike in its effects on human interests, whether it emanates form the Czar of Russia, the mild influence of Great Britain, the hot spurs of the South, or the genial clime of Pennsylvania--from the white, the red or the black man--whether he be of European or African descent, or the native Indian that resides in the wilds of the West. The combined action of all these are at war with the principles of peace and the liberty of the world, and retard the period when righteousness shall cover the earth like the waters of the great deep. How different is the exercise of this love of power, when exercised by men or enforced by human governments, to the exercise of Him who holds all power over the heavens, earth and seas, and all that in them is. With God all is order, with man all confusion. The planets perform their annual rotations, the tides ebb and flow, the seas obey his command, the whole government of universal worlds is sustained by his wisdom and power, each unvaryingly performing the course marked out by their great Author, because they are impelled by his love. But with man, government are impelled by the law of force: hence despotism becomes an ingredient in all human governments.

The power of reason is the noblest gift of heaven to man, because it assimilates man to his Maker, and were he to improve his mind by cultivating his reasoning powers, his acts of life would bear the impress of the Deity, indelibly stamped upon them. Governments would be mild in their operation, and the principles of universal peace would govern every heart, and be implanted in every mind. Wars, fighting and strifes would cease; there would be a signal triumph of truth over error; the principles of peace, justice, righteousness, and universal love would guide and direct mankind onward in that sublime path marked out by the great Prince of Peace. The period is fast approaching when the church, as at present constituted, must undergo one of the severest contests she has met with since her foundation, because in so many cases she has refused to sustain her own principles. The moral warfare that is now commenced will not cease if the issue should be a dissolution of both church and state. The time has already come when those believe that intemperance, slavery, war and fighting is sinful, and it will soon arrive when those who practice either their rights to enjoy christian fellowship will be questioned.

And now, Mr. President, I shall give a few practical illustrations, and then I shall have done. It appears by history that there have been many faithful advocates of peace since the apostolic age, but none have ever given a more powerful impetus to the cause of peace, than the modern abolitionists. They have been beaten and stoned, mobbed and persecuted from city to city, and never returned evil for evil, but submissively, as a sheep brought before the shearer have they endured scoffings and scourges for the cause's sake, while they prayed for their prosecutors. And how miraculously they have been preserved in the midst of a thousand dangers from without and within. Up to the present moment not the life of a single individual has been sacrificed on the altar of popular fury. Had they have set out in this glorious undertaking of freeing 2,500,000 human beings, with the war-cry of "liberty or death," they would have been long since demolished, or a civil war would have ensued; thus would have dyed the national soil with human blood. And now let me ask you, was not their method of attacking the system of human slavery the most reasonable? And would not their policy have been correct, even if we were to lay aside their christian motives? Their weapons were reason and moral truth, and on them they desired to stand or fall--and so it will be in all causes that are sustained from just and christian principles, they will ultimately triumph. Now let us suppose for a single moment what would have been our case, if they had started on the principle, that "resistance to tyrants is obedience to God?"--what would have been our condition, together with that of the slave population? Why, we should have doubtless perished by the sword, or been praying for the destruction of our enemies, and probably engaged in the same bloody warfare.

And now we are indebted to the modern abolitionists more than to any other class of men for the instructions we have received from the dissemination of their principles, or we would not at this moment be associated here to advocate the cause of moral reform--of temperance, education, peace and universal liberty. Therefore let us, like them, obliterate from our minds the idea of revenge, and from our hearts all wicked intentions towards each other and the world, and we shall be able through the blessing of Almighty God, to so much to establish the principles of universal peace. Let us not think the world has no regard for our efforts--they are looking forward to them with intense interest and anxiety. The enemies of the abolitionists are exhibiting a regard for the power of their principles that they are unwilling to acknowledge, although it is every where known over the country, that abolitionists "will not fight," yet they distrust their own strength so much, that they frequently muster a whole neighborhood of from 50 to 300 men, with sticks, stones, rotten eggs and bowie knives, to mob and beat a single individual probably in his "teens," whose heart's law is non-resistance. There is another way in which they do us honor--they admit the right of all people to fight for their liberty, but colored people and abolitionists--plainly inferring that they are too good for the performance of such unchristian acts--and lastly, while we endeavor to control our own passions and keep them in subjection, let us be mindful of the weakness of others; and for acts of wickedness of others; and for acts of wickedness committed against us, let us reciprocate in the spirit of kindness. If they continue their injustice towards us, let us always decide that their reasoning powers are defective, and that it is with men as the laws of mechanics--large bodies move slowly, while smaller ones are easily propelled with swift velocity. In every case of passion that presents itself, the subject is one of pity rather than derision, and in his cooler moments let us earnestly advise him to improve his understanding, by cultivating his intellectual powers, and thus exhibit his close alliance with God, who is the author of all wisdom, peace, justice, righteousness and truth. And in conclusion, let it always be our aim to live in a spirit of unity with each other, supporting one common cause, by spreading our influence for the good of mankind, with the hope that the period will ultimately arrive when the principles of universal peace will triumph throughout the world.(31)

Quoted from "AfroLumens Project: Central Pennsylvania African American History for Everyone--Underground Railroad Chronology" (, accessed 24 January 2007. (Close)

In a preface to Whipper's address, the editors noted the following:
We publish this address with pleasure, hoping our readers will make the most of all the principles and arguments presented in favor of universal "Peace." But we honestly confess that we have yet to learn what virtue there would be in using moral weapons, in defence against a kidnapper or a midnight incendiary with a lighted torch in his hand.
Although slavery was illegal in the North, blacks were denied equal rights almost everywhere.

Presbyterian minister Elijah Parish Lovejoy, 34, publisher of the abolitionist Observer in St. Louis, was chased out of town, in spite of his protestations of his free speech and free press rights, after publishing a number of anti-Catholic innuendoes as well as abolitionist propaganda. Defending his statements, Lovejoy said:

I never said there was "not a chaste female in the [Catholic] church"; I said as a general truth there was not, and I repeat it.
Lovejoy set up his office in Alton, Illinois, but when his press arrived on the dock, a mob smashed it. Sympathizers bought him a new press, and the Observer advocated immediate abolition as well as a state anti-slavery society. In one editorial, Lovejoy stated:
Abolitionists, therefore, hold American slavery to be a wrong, a legalized system of inconceivable injustice, and a SIN… against God.
This second press was also destroyed by a mob, as was a third a month later. After a fourth press was installed, a mob formed before the building and began throwing stones. When the defenders opened fire, killing a mobber named Bishop, the mob attacked in force. Lovejoy was shot to death with at least 5 bullets, and his men surrendered. The press was thrown into the Mississippi River, and the building was burned down. The next day, proslavers lined the streets and cheered as Lovejoy's mutilated corpse was dragged through the town. Lovejoy's brother Owen took up his cause.

Boston abolitionist Wendell Phillips, 26, heard a proslavery speaker at a meeting at Faneuil Hall compare Lovejoy's murderers to the patriots of the Boston Tea Party. Phillips, having never spoken in public before, rose to denounce this speaker, and, pointing to the portraits of John Adams and John Hancock, proclaimed:

I thought those pictured lips would have broken into voice, to rebuke the recreant American, the slanderer of the dead.

John Chapman, 62, 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."

De Pauw College was founded by Methodists in Indiana.

Michigan was admitted to the Union as the 26th state.

Terminus (Atlanta, GA) was settled at the termination point of J. E. Thomson's Western and Atlantic Railroad.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune began publication.

Second Seminole War

[ Zachary Taylor ] Chief Osceola of the Seminoles, 33, was tricked into coming out of the Florida Everglades under a flag of truce and was arrested along with several of his followers by U.S. troops under General Thomas S. Jesup, 49. Directed by Secretary of War Joel Poinsett, a U.S. force under General Zachary Taylor, 53, pictured here, defeated the Seminoles in the Battle of Okeechobee, which earned Taylor the nicknamed "Old Rough and Ready." Nearly a thousand Creek volunteers fought in the U.S. forces in return for a promise that their families could remain in Alabama. When they returned, they were in for a surprise.

Second Creek War

In a cleanup from the preceding year's actions, military detachments continued to force large groups of Creeks out of Alabama and Mississippi to trudge toward Oklahoma. During the winter, a trail of more than 15,000 were trudging all across Arkansas, many of them starving and dying of disease. Wolves and buzzards followed the trail. The Creek volunteers returning from fighting the Seminoles found that their families had been attacked by land-hungry white marauders--they had been robbed, driven from their homes, the women raped. Claiming to protect them, the army rounded up the remaining Creeks and incarcerated them in a concentration camp on Mobile Bay, where hundreds died from starvation or sickness. The Creek veterans of the Second Seminole War were hustled with their families through New Orleans, where many contracted the yellow fever plague. Contractors crowded 611 of them on the steamer Monmouth to head up the Mississippi en route toward the Red River and eventually Oklahoma. Unfortunately, a collision during the night broke the steamer in half, and 311 Creeks died, including 4 children of the commander of the volunteer regiment. According to a New Orleans newspaper account(32): Quoted in Zinn, op. cit., p. 144. (Close)
The fearful responsibility for this vast sacrifice of human life rests on the contractors.… The avaricious disposition to increase the profits on the speculation first induced the chartering of rotten, old, and unseaworthy boats, because they were of a class to be procured cheaply; and then to make those increased profits still larger, the Indians were packed upon those crazy vessels in such crowds that not the slightest regard seems to have been paid to their safety, comfort, or even decency.

A smallpox epidemic in the Great Plains nearly wiped out the Arikara, the Hidatsa, and the Mandan.

The year-old Christian mission of Dr. Marcus Whitman, 35, and his wife, Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, 21, continued to flourish among the Cayuse Indians at Waiilatpu in the Walla Walla Valley of eastern Oregon Country. The missionaries had established schools and grist mills and had introduced crop irrigation. Unfortunately, however, the Cayuse were nervous about agriculture, since they believed that to plow the ground was to desecrate the spirit of the Earth.

Science and technology in America: Specifics

Painter-inventor Samuel Finley Breeze Morse, 46, exhibited his electric telegraph at the College of the City of New York; Vermont inventor Thomas Davenport, 35, patented a crude electric DC motor; and Massachusetts physicist Charles Page, 25, designed an induction coil.

Vermont-born Illinois blacksmith John Deere, 33, invented a lightweight plow with a steel moldboard, which could be pulled by a horse (rather than by a team of slow-moving oxen) and could cut furrows in the heavy, sticky soil of the prairies; and Maine inventors John A. Pitts and Hiram Abial Pitts patented a steam-powered threshing machine.

New York geologist James Dwight Dana, 24, published System of Mineralogy.

Arts and culture in America: Specifics

George Bancroft, 37, published volume 2 of his History of the United States; and William Hickling Prescott, 43, completely blind, published The History of the Reign of Isabella and Ferdinand.

English novelist Harriet Martineau, 35, after visiting the United States, inveighed in her Society in America against corn on the cob:

The greatest drawback is the way in which it is necessary to eat it.… It looks awkward enough: but what is to be done? Surrendering such a vegetable from considerations of grace is not to be thought of.(33) Quoted in Trager, James, ed., The People's Chronology: A Year-by-Year Record of Human Events from Prehistory to the Present, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1979, p. 433. (Close)
Her book was basically sympathetic toward American social, economic, and political practices, but it was extremely critical of slavery. But because of its protofeminist positions, one reviewer suggested it be kept away from women(34): Quoted from Zinn, op. cit., p. 113. The summary of this reviewer's views is also from Zinn. (Close)
Such reading will unsettle them for their true station and pursuits, and they will throw the world back again into confusion.
In general, this reviewer felt that a woman should not read too much; her job was to keep the home cheerful, to maintain religion, and to be a nurse, a cook, a cleaner, a seamstress, and an arranger of flowers.

Writer Washington Irving recorded the typical happenings at the Rocky Mountain (Oregon Country) fur trader rendezvous in his Adventures of Captain Bonneville:

[The trappers] engaged in contests of skill at running, jumping, wrestling, shooting with the rifle, and running horses.… They sang, they laughed, they whooped; they tried to out-brag and out-lie each other in stories of their adventures and achievements. Here the … trappers were in all their glory.(35) Quoted in Davidson and Stoff, op. cit., p. 351, citing Irving, Washington, The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, U.S.A., in the Rocky Mountains and the far West, A. & W. Galignani, 1837, chapter 20. (Close)
Irving also published The Creole Village, where he referred to "The Almighty Dollar, that great object of universal devotion throughout the land."

Novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, 33, published Twice-Told Tales, which became very popular; painter George Catlin, 41, exhibited his Gallery of Indians series of hundreds of paintings and sketches; and New York architect Alexander Jackson Davis, 34, popularized Gothic revival architecture with his Rural Residences. German-American piano maker William Knabe introduced the Knabe Piano. Delaware novelist Robert Montgomery Bird, 32, published Nick of the Woods, which disputed James Fenimore Cooper's portrayal of the American Indian as a "Noble Savage"; according to Bird,

The North American savage has never appeared to us the gallant and heroic personage he seems to others.
Indians were, he said, "ignorant, violent, debased, brutal," a beast necessary to exterminate.

Popular periodicals included the Niles' Weekly Register, the American Journal of Science, American Farmer, Christian Watchman, Saturday Evening Post, New York Mirror, National Preacher, Godey's Lady's Book, Ladies' Companion, Yale Literary Magazine, 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 "Woodman, Spare That Tree" was released and became popular. Other popular songs included "Home Sweet Home," "America," "Old Zip Coon" (later known as "Turkey in the Straw"), and "Amazing Grace."

The World at Large in 1837

Canadian insurgency

In Lower Canada (Quebec), Louis Joseph Papineau, 51, and in Upper Canada (Ontario) William Lyon Mackenzie, 42, began a rebellion against British rule. 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 had been secretly arming, displaying the tricolor, and calling extralegal conventions. One of these conventions, attended by 5,000 met at Saint-Charles and rallied around a liberty pole topped with the Phrygian liberty cap.

Unfortunately, Papineau alienated Catholic priests with his anticlerical rhetoric, and the Bishop of Montreal pronounced against him. Few French Canadians would follow his lead. Warrants were issued for Papineau and O'Callaghan, charging them with high treason. A few armed men challenged British regulars at Saint-Denis and Saint-Charles on the Richelieu River. These rebels were dispersed, and they fled to Vermont. A loyal mob at Saint-Eustache, north of Montreal, chased the rebels into a church and then smoked them out.

U.S. President Van Buren declared that neutrality laws should be observed. The Governor of New York and the Governor of Vermont forbade citizens from helping the refugee rebels. Nonetheless, bands of Canadian rebels who had organized on U.S. soil conducted raids into Quebec. Two rebel physicians, Robert Nelson and Cyrille Coté, crossed Lake Champlain and invaded Canada from Vermont, issuing a Declaration of Independence. Disappointed that "embattled farmers" did not flock to their banners, the rebels retreated to Plattsburgh, NY, and were disarmed by General Wool.

Mackenzie, who had declared the independence of Upper Canada from Britain and had been arming and drilling thousands of settlers, prepared to capture Toronto. Meanwhile, the Depression caused by the U.S. Panic of 1837 had struck Canada. There was widespread unemployment and discontent. With these discontents, Mackenzie led his undisciplined forces on Toronto, but they were dispersed by a single volley from a loyal sheriff and 27 militiamen behind a rail fence. Another loyal militia routed rebel farmers from York County.

Mackenzie fled to Buffalo, NY, and set up a rebel "Republican Government of Upper Canada" at Navy Island in the Niagara River. With the aid of Robert Nelson's Lower Canada rebels and U.S. sympathizers, Mackenzie prepared to invade Ontario. He was able to obtain money, supplies, and recruits from the United States. Many small raids on Canada followed.

The small American paddle steamer Caroline supplied rebel headquarters on Navy Island. Canadian militia crossed the Niagara River to the U.S. side, overpowered the crew of the Caroline, cut her loose from her moorings, set her afire, and sank her. In the brawl an American named Amos Durfee was killed. The Rochester (NY) Democrat and many other American newspapers published fanciful illustrations showing the flaming ship, laden with shrieking souls, plummeting over Niagara Falls. The Democrat shrieked for revenge "not by simpering diplomacy but by blood." President Van Buren, however, preferred diplomacy, protesting to the British Foreign Minister Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston, 53, about the "outrage." Meanwhile, his U.S. troops, led by General Winfield Scott, 51, arrested and jailed Mackenzie and his American volunteer, "General" Rensselaer Van Rensselaer. General Scott continued to disarm other volunteers. Many New Yorkers never forgave their favorite son Van Buren for his diplomacy.

There was already considerable tension between the United States and the United Kingdom for another reason: Slavery. The British had outlawed the slave trade 30 years earlier, and 3 years earlier they had abolished slavery throughout their empire. The United States had officially forbidden the transoceanic slave trade 29 years earlier, even (supposedly) providing the death penalty for violators, but American slave merchants boldly flouted the indifferently enforced law. The British Navy felt constrained when confronting American vessels that would run up the U.S. flag: Because of American enduring touchiness from the "impressment" days before the War of 1812, the British were hesitant to insist on searching a suspected American slave ship.

California turmoil

After subduing a native uprising in San Diego, Juan Bandini enlisted about a hundred white men of the town into what he called the Army of the Supreme Government. He led this force north to attack the forces of Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado in Monterey. At San Luis Rey, the force was overtaken by a Mexican commissioner, who had been sent to California by the central government to put a new national constitution into effect here. The revolutionary army happily took the oath of allegiance to the new government, and continued northward with the commissioner with the stamp of approval from the central government. At Los Angeles the citizens staged a fiesta to welcome the arrivals and the change, and everyone took the new oath of allegiance.

Governor Alvarado raised an army and led it south to suppress the insurrection. At Santa Barbara he encountered the federal commissioner, who was on his way north. Alvarado volunteered to take the oath, too, and was confirmed by the commissioner as governor. The Army of the Supreme Government, cheated out of a good revolution, disconsolately returned home to San Diego.

In October Don Carlos Antonio Carrillo of San Diego claimed to have received an appointment from Mexico as governor. He was accepted by Southern California and designated the pueblo of Los Angeles as his capital, but Alvarado refused to relinquish control in the North. Carrillo strengthened his hold on San Diego by declaring Monterey and San Francisco closed as ports of entry, and by establishing a custom house in San Diego. The two goveronors exchanged wordy proclamations and fiery letters of denunciation for a while. Santa Barbara was loyal to Alvarado, so Carillo besieged the town. Alvarado sent an army to relieve Santa Barbara, and his forces defeated Carrillo supporter Captain Juan Casteñada in the "Battle of Ventura" (in which one man was accidentally killed), and they captured Los Angeles in addition. Carrillo retreated to San Diego to raise a new army with the help of Juan Bandini and others. With about a hundred men supported by three cannon, Carrillo moved northward toward Los Angeles. After the very indecisive and practically nonviolent "Battle of Las Flores" (just north of present-day Oceanside, CA), described as "for the most part one of tongue and pen rather than of artillery and guns," the two governors of California met in a conference. During the talks, Alvarado outmaneuvered Carrillo, keeping not only the office of governor but also Carrillo's three cannon. Carrillo and his brother were arrested but were soon freed after they "accepted the changes of fortune with equanimity" and settled on the island of Santa Rosa.

A nearly unanimous vote of the citizens of the new Republic of Texas authorized annexation by the United States. When the offer arrived on his desk, U.S. President Van Buren turned it down, fearing international complications and even more the violent opposition of the New England states.

Many Americans were persuaded by newspaper ads to buy land in a "booming new metropolis" in Texas called Houston. The metropolis was actually only a small, rough settlement of a few shacks. Many of the investors stayed, however.

Anson Darnell, Starrett Smith, and Jacob Gross established Fort Fisher (Waco) in Texas, and set up the Texas Rangers.

General Anastasio Bustamente, 57, again took over Mexico as President, following the disgrace of Texas loser Antonio López de Santa Anna, 43.

Peru-Bolivia war

Hostilities continued.

Brazilian insurgency

Brazil was beset with provincial revolts and separatist movements.

[ Queen Victoria ] At the accession of the young Victoria to the British throne at the death of King William IV, the governments of Hannover and the United Kingdom were separated, ending their 123-year union. The "Salic Law" of Hannover forbade a female from ruling there.

(Ernst August, the Duke of Cumberland, 66, the eldest surviving son of King George III, succeeded King William to the Hannoverian throne and suspended the liberal constitution that King William had granted Hannover in 1833. The new king dismissed seven professors of Göttingen University who protested his action.)

About Victoria, Henry John Temple, Third Viscount Palmerston, a Tory, remarked:

Few people have had opportunities of forming a correct judgment of the Princess; but I incline to think that she will turn out to be a remarkable person, and gifted with a great deal of strength of character.
Victoria herself remarked:
Since it has pleased Providence to place me in this station, I shall do my utmost to fulfil my duty toward my country; I am very young, and perhaps in many, though not in all things, inexperienced, but I am sure that very few have more real good will and more real desire to do what is fit and right than I have.(36) Quoted in Churchill, Winston S., The Great Democracies, vol. 4 of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1957, p. 55. (Close)

Novelist Benjamin Disraeli, 33, a Jew, was elected to the British Parliament. He delivered his maiden speech there, which, like his novels, portrayed the realm as really "two nations," the rich and the poor, pitted against each other.

England introduced official birth registration.

Maria Fitzherbert, secret morganatic wife of the late King George IV, died at the age of 81.

Teacher Isaac Pitman, 24, published Stenographic Soundhand, the manual of stenography.

Scots chemist Andrew Ure, 59, dismissed the notion that rickets in factory children resulted from lack of sunlight. He insisted that gaslight was more progressive and quite as healthy as sunlight.

Tea peddlers Joseph and Edward Tetley, who had been selling tea across the Yorkshire moors from a pack, opened the Tetley Brothers tea shop in Huddersfield, England.

Chemist-pharmacists John Wheeley Lea and William Perrins expanded their 14-year-old Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce from their Worcester shop, peddling more widely their aged sauce containing vinegar, oil, and spices.

John Henry Newman, 36, 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 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, 37, focused his attention on the ritual observances of the Church.

Italian radical Giuseppe Mazzini, 32, arrived in London as an exile.

German educational reformer Friedrich Fröbel, 55, opened a Kindergarten, the world's first, in Blankenburg, Thüringen.

Thousands of Boer cattlemen, irritated with the previous year's emancipation of thousands of slaves and with British policy in general, continued their Great Trek to the north and east of the Orange River. They moved to new lands beyond the River Vaal (the Transvaal). The eastern part of the Cape Colony became seriously depopulated as a result. They founded Transvaal, Natal, and the Orange Free State.

Meanwhile, the Zulus under Dingaan were massacring thousands of natives of other tribes in their Mfecane movement.

World science and technology

German industrialist August Borsig, 33, opened his iron foundry and engine-building factory in Berlin; and English inventor Sir Charles Wheatstone, 35, and William Fothergill Cooke, 31, patented and electric telegraph.

German archeologist Georg Friedrich Grotefend, 62, deciphered Persian cunieform; German astronomer Johann Encke, 46, discovered a small gap in the outer ring of Saturn; German astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve, 44, published Micrometric Measurement of Double Stars; French mathematician Siméon Denis Poisson, 576, published Recherches sur la probabilité des jugements, establishing the rules of probability based on the incidence of death from mule kicks in the French army; French physiologist René Joachim Henri Dutrochet, 61, established the importance of chlorophyll to photosynthesis; and Estonian physician Karl Ernst von Baer, 45, published On the Development of Animals, describing embryonic structures.

World philosophy and religion

German philosopher Bernhard Bolzano published Wissenschaftslehre ("The Philosophy of Logic"). German political writer and satirist Ludwig Börne died at the age of 51.

Arts and culture in the British Isles

English novelist Charles (John Huffman) Dickens, 25, published Oliver Twist, or the Pariah Boy's Progress, an immediate bestseller, and The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club; Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle, 42, published The French Revolution (the manuscript was almost burned by a manservant of John Stuart Mill, 31, who was chief of relations with native states for the East India Company); and Scots author John Gibson Lockhart, 43, published a biography of his father-in-law: Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott. English Sanskrit scholar Henry T. Colebrooke died at the age of 72, pianist and composer John Field died at the age of 55, and landscape painter John Constable died at the age of 61.

World arts and culture

French poet Alphonse de Lamartine, 47, published his epic Chute d'un ange; French novelist Honoré de Balzac, 38, published Illusions perdues and Le Curé de Village; French vaudeville dramatist Augustin Eugène Scribe, 45, produced La camaraderie, ou la Courte Echelle ("The Clique, or the Helping Hand"); and Russian poet and novelist Mikhail Yurievich Lermentov, 23, published A Song about Czar Ivan Vasilyevich, His Young Bodyguard, and the Valiant Merchant Kalashikov and an anticourt poem that caused him to be transferred to a regiment in the Caucasus. Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi died at the age of 39, and Russian poet Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin, 36, was mortally wounded in a duel with an officer in the Horse Guards.

French composer Daniel François Esprit Auber, 55, produced Le Domino noir at the Paris Opéra-Comique; French composer Hector Berlioz, 34, produced Requiem--Grand Messe des Morts (Opus 5) with 600 singers, a full orchestra, 4 brass bands, and 16 tympanis; German composer Gustav Albert Lortzing, 36, produced Zar und Zimmermann ("Czar and Carpenter") in Leipzig; Carlo Blassis, 40, became the Director of the Imperial Ballet in Milan. French composer Jean-François Lesueur died at the age of 77, Austro-Hungarian composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel died at the age of 59, and Italian composer and choirmaster Nicola Zingarelli died at the age of 85.

French portrait painter Baron François Gérard died at the age of 67.


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