Pastor 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).
Three families and two individuals transferred in from the Rhinebeck Lutheran Church. One of the families was that of Allen Nash, whose family would be active in church affairs for at least three generations.
The congregation of Christ's Lutheran Church of Woodstock was profoundly affected by the Second Great Awakening raging across the country. The following is from the minutes of the Hartwick Synod of this year(1):
Quoted by Anderson, Mark, "Woodstock Revival Festivals," Christ's Beacon [Christ's Lutheran Church, Woodstock, NY] (December 2005) p. 6, part of the notes for his For All the Saints: Christ's Lutheran Church, Woodstock, New York, 1806-2006 [Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2006], p. 47. (Close)
About the middle of January a protracted meeting [Revival] was held in Br[other] Rumpf's [Christ's] church at Woodstock. Here also a very precious time of refreshing from the Lord was sent upon our Brs. dear people. Here also a number of souls were awakened who decided for God, since which time Br. Rumpf writes that a very great work had commenced in Woodstock, their members greatly revived, they had concluded to rebuild their house of worship, and had actually commenced operations.It would take another five years (see 1843), but the congregation did raze the old church and construct an entirely new one of the site.
Region historian Alf Evers(2)
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 sickly Robert L. Livingston, 63, 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. Tenants were becoming ever more bold in their resistance to Livingston demands for rent payments.(3)
Information on tenant resistance is from ibid, p. 183. (Close)
For example, Livingston agent J. Gale attempted to collect rent from tenant John Reynolds. The tenant refused, insisting that Livingston had no clear title to the land. When Gale came by a second time to force collection, Reynolds was gone but had left with his wife $45 (supposedly $747 in 2006 dollars) of what Gale described as "un current money of different states"--probably worthless paper--making a clear implication that the Livingston title was equally worthless. At the same time, tenants in the Beaverkill Valley, Little Shandaken, and Olive, under the leadership of the Longyears, were organizing their resistance collectively, insisting that the Livingston title was invalid in Woodstock and Olive. Agent Abraham D. Ladew wrote to Livingston about the Longyear claim, describing the boundaries as going from one heap of stones to another on the side
of a Small Mountain called Torneshook bergh [now Tonshi Mountain] hence 600 chains Nly. to stones, thence another course 400 ch. to stones, thence such a course to the Blue Mountains thence as they wind and turn some where else, the devil may know where to the place of beginning, I believe going one and half [times] round nothing at all.
Meanwhile, manor lord Livingston's health had fallen apart: He was suffering nervous anxiety and rheumatic attacks that left him quite lame. He had now been diagnosed with gout and began to be transported in a sedan chair.
The New York Crown and Cylinder Glass Company of Bristol (Shady)--founded 28 years earlier by Stephen Stilwell as the Bristol Glass, Cotton and Clay Company just over the boundary from Livingston land--was still in business, although it was suffering ups and downs. 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, 33. 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.
William Boyse, who had the previous year resigned his pastorate of the Woodstock Dutch Reformed Church, published a fiery sermon urging temperance, advocating legislation to
save ourselves from the catastrophe into which a continuance of drinking wine and strong drink, has threatened to hurl this country.… Instead of the sober and steady habits of our parents, their children have seen drunkenness pass over the face of the earth like a flood.(4)
Quoted from ibid., p. 230. (Close)
The 15-year-old commodious Catskill Mountain House near Kaaterskill Clove continued to suffer deep financial trouble, with its respectable revenues not meeting its grievous expenses. The corporate entity of CEO and founder James Powers, the Catskill Mountain Association, had fallen behind in its interest payments to its principal creditor, the Catskill Bank. Now the bank directors began foreclosure proceedings.
Smelly tanneries in the Catskill region continued 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. Both of these businesses managed the hard times with low leather prices reasonably well. 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.
Part of the Canajoharie & Catskill Railroad, which had been planned 13 years earlier and after many delays finally built, began carrying hides and leather and other freight as well as some passengers in the northeastern Catskills.
"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 reciprocal endorsements in local and statewide elections. Whig candidate William Henry Seward, 37, was elected Governor with Locofoco support.
Thomas Cole, 37, of the Hudson River School of landscape painting, painted Shroon Mountain Adirondacks. Cole remarked:
I am out of place.… [There] are few persons of real taste; and no opportunity for the true artist to develop his powers. The tide of utility sets against the fine arts.(5)
Quoted in Wallechinsky, David, and Wallace, Irving, The People's Almanac, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1975, p. 166. (Close)
Martin Van Buren (Democrat), 58, was President. The 25th Congress was in session. (The midterm elections that year would elect the 26th Congress.) A dollar in that year would be worth $16.60 in 2006 for most consumable products.
It was considered vulgar to mention "trousers" or "pants." Here are some sample quotes that include substitutes for describing this garment:(6)
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.
Meanwhile, the Maine legislature had been making land grants to settlers along the Aroostook River, disregarding British claims to that area. Canadian lumberjacks began to build a road there for their own lumbering operations. Tensions escalated. Maine appointed state senator Rufus McIntire as a land agent to eject the Canadians.
There was also still considerable ill feeling between the two countries over the preceding year's Caroline incident.
There was tension for yet another reason: Slavery. The British had outlawed the slave trade 31 years earlier, and 4 years earlier they had abolished slavery throughout their empire. The United States had officially forbidden the transoceanic slave trade 30 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.
The shakeout of land speculators made more U.S. farmland available for real farmers. Complaints about the 1836 Specie Circular finally won the day, however, and the measure was withdrawn by a joint resolution of Congress.
Every New England textile mill but one was forced to close down. The single exception was the mill of Nathaniel Stevens of North Andover, MA, which expanded production and worked 76-hour weeks, paying above-average wages of $4.50 per week plus $2 for board ($75 and $33, respectively, in 2006 dollars).
Meanwhile, the Van Buren Administration was trying to find an acceptable substitute for the bankrupt and discredited state banks as a place to keep federal funds. The President advocated "divorcing" the government entirely from all banking activities, and he promoted an Independent Treasury Bill, whereby all federal funds would be stored in government-owned vaults placed in various parts of the country. The bill met with tremendous resistance from banking interests and in the 25th Congress from Whigs and Conservative Democrats. Kentucky Senator Henry Clay, 61, pictured at left, attacked the bill, proposing instead another Bank of the United States. On the other hand, Clay's ally hitherto, South Carolina Sentator John Caldwell Calhoun, 56, pictured at right, supported the bill and became thereby Clay's implacable enemy.
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 many Englishman to sing the following new stanza for an old song:
Yankee Doodle borrows cash.Flat is a Briticism for "simpleton."
Yankee Doodle spends it,
And then he snaps his fingers at
The jolly flat who lends it.
During the continuing Depression, mortgages on farms and homes were foreclosed to such an extent that the people and even officials sometimes took matters into their own hands. General James Findlay, a stalwart Jacksonian and receiver of the land office at Cincinnati, bluff, hearty, and corpulent, attended a sale where a large number of farms in the region north of Cincinnati were forfeited. He soon learned that a number of speculators were in the crowd, hoping to get property for little or nothing in the distress auction. General Findlay mounted a stump and spoke to the crowd: He was there, he said, to offer the designated lands to the highest bidder. All the owners, he added, were honest men who because of hard times had been unable to meet their obligations, and it was hard to be forced from homes by such circumstances. Nevertheless, he concluded, his voice rising,
I trust there is no gentleman--no, I will not say that, I hope there is no rascal--here, so mean as to buy his neighbor's home over his head. Gentlemen, I offer this lot for sale. Who bids?There was no forfeited land sold that day.(7)
Samuel Swarthout, 55, Collector of Customs at the Port of New York, fled to England, under allegations of embezzling $1.2 million ($19.9 million in 2006 dollars) of the U.S. Treasury's money.
President Van Buren appointed Felix Grundy of Tennessee, 61, Attorney General.
The Anti-Masonic Party was absorbed by the Whigs.
Boston schools began teaching music.
Adults who craved more learning satisfied their thirst for knowledge at private subscription libraries or, increasingly, at tax-supported libraries.(8)
This description of education in America liberally quoted from Bailey, Thomas A., Kennedy, David M., and Cohen, Lizabeth, The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998, pp. 334-36. (Close)
House-to-house peddlers also did a lush business in feeding the public appetite for culture. Traveling lecturers helped to carry learning to the masses through the lyceum lecture associations. The lyceum movement--associations of villagers and urban workers who, though they had little education, sought learning--spread throughout New England and New York. By the middle of this quarter century the associations numbered in the thousands. There were over 100 lyceums in Massachusetts alone, drawing thousands to lectures on the arts, sciences, and public issues.
Connecticut showman Phineas Taylor Barnum, 28, continued his career of showing carnival attractions.
The 703-ton steamer Sirius, with 100 passengers, sailed from London to New York in 19 days, and the 1.440-ton steamer Great Western sailed in 15 days from Bristol to New York--the first transatlantic crossings by ships powered entirely by steam. Both ships were designed by English engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, 32.
The New York Herald hired European correspondents.
Rolling hoops became a new fad among the young ladies on the Washington Parade Ground in New York City.
"A young fellow, twenty or thereabouts, pained with a toothache," described Nathaniel Hawthorne.
A doctor, passing on horseback, with his black saddlebags behind him, a thin, frosty-haired man. Being asked to operate, he looks at the tooth, lances the gum, and the fellow being content to be dealt with on the spot, he seats himself in a chair on the stoup with great heroism. The doctor produces a rusty pair of iron forceps, a man holds the patient's head.… A turn of the doctor's hand, and the tooth is out. The patient gets up, half-amazed, pays the doctor ninepence, pockets the tooth, and the spectators are in glee and admiration.(9)
Quoted in McCutcheon, op. cit., pp. 162-63, citing Nathaniel Hawthorne, Passages from the American Notebooks. (Close)
John Rodgers, who had been a ranking American naval officer in the War of 1812, died at the age of 65.
Workingman's Party founder Orestes Brownson, 35, head of his own church, the Society for Christian Union and Progress, began publishing the Boston Quarterly Review, which attacked organized Christianity, inherited wealth, and prison conditions.
John Humphrey Noyes, 27, 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.
Austrian-American portrait painter Francis Martin Drexel, 46, founded the brokerage firm Drexel & Co. in Philadelphia.
James Hamlet, a free black living in New York City, was apprehended where he worked by a federal officer and returned to Baltimore in chains as a slave again. Several Northern states passed Personal Liberty Laws to obstruct the Fugitive Slave Act. Southern slaves developed a system of escape routes to the North, known as the Underground Railroad. One slave, Henry Brown, escaped from Richmond to Philadelphia in a box labeled "This side up with care."
Thousands of Irish and German immigrants came to the United States.
A proslavery mob, consisting mostly of recent Irish immigrants and other workers fearing that freedslaves might take their jobs, gathered outside the meeting of the National Anti-Slavery Convention at Pennsylvania Hall in Philadelphia, determined to thwart this and any other abolitionist gatherings. During the three days of speeches, the mob outside kept up a constant uproar and pelted stones against the windows. One of the speakers in the convention was Angelina Grimké, 33, pictured here, a South Carolina white who had emigrated to the North because of her disgust with slavery. (She was speaking just two days after marrying abolitionist Theodore Dwight Weld, 35.) She criticized the prevalent hypocritical attitude of many supposedly "anti-slavery" Northerners(10):
Quoted in Ravitch, Diane, The American Reader: Words That Moved a Nation, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1990, pp. 106-08. (Close)
Do you ask, "What has the North to do with slavery?" Hear it, hear it! Those voices without tell us that the spirit of slavery is here, and has been roused to wrath by our Conventions; for surely liberty would not foam and tear herself with rage, because her friends are multiplied daily, and meetings are held in quick succession to set forth her virtues and extend her peaceful kingdom. This opposition shows that slavery has done its deadliest work in the hearts of our citizens. Do you ask, then, "What has the North to do?" I answer, cast out first the spirit of slavery from your own hearts, and then lend your aid to convert the South. Each one present has a work to do, be his or her situation what it may, however limited their means or insignificant their supposed influence. The great men of this country will not do this work; the Church will never do it. A desire to please the world, to keep the favor of all parties and of all conditions, makes them dumb on this and every other unpopular subject.At the end of the third day of meetings, the mob entered the hall, set fire to it, and demolished the building. Another mob destroyed the building where the abolitionist paper Pennsylvania Freeman, edited by John Greenleaf Whittier, 31, was published.
As a Southerner, I feel that it is my duty to stand up here to-night and bear testimony against slavery. I have seen it! I have seen it! I know it has horrors that can never be described. I was brought up under its wing. I witnessed for many years its demoralizing influences and its destructiveness to human happiness. I have never seen a happy slave. I have seen him dance in his chains, it is true, but he was not happy. There is a wide difference between happiness and mirth. Man can not enjoy happiness while his manhood is destroyed. Slaves, however, may be, and sometimes are mirthful. When hope is extinguished, they say, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die."
[Here stones were thrown at the windows--a great noise without and commotion within.]
What is a mob? what would the breaking of every window be? What would the levelling of this hall be? Any evidence that we are wrong, or that slavery is a good and wholesome institution? What if the mob should now burst in upon us, break up our meeting, and commit violence upon our persons, would that be anything compared with what the slaves endure? No, no; and we do not remember them, "as bound with them," if we shrink in times of peril, or feel unwilling to sacrifice ourselves, if need be, for their sake.
I thank the Lord that there is yet life enough left to feel the the truth, even though it rages at it; that conscience is not so completely seared as to be unmoved by the truth of the living God.
[Another outbreak of the mob and confusion in the house.]
How wonderfully constituted is the human mind! How it resists, as long as it can, all efforts to reclaim it from error! I feel that all this disturbance is but an evidence that our efforts are the best that could have been adopted, or else the friends of slavery would not care for what we say or do. The South knows what we do. I am thankful that they are reached by our efforts. Many times have I wept in the land of my birth over the system of slavery. I knew of none who sympathized in my feelings; I was unaware that any efforts were made to deliver the oppressed; no voice in the wilderness was heard calling on the people to repent and do works meet for repentance, and my heart sickened within me. Oh, how should I have rejoiced to know that such efforts as these were being made. I only wonder that I had such feelings.
But in the midst of temptation I was preserved, and my sympathy grew warmer, and my hatred of slavery more inveterate, until at last I have exiled myself from my native land, because I could no longer endure to hear the wailing of the slave. I fled to the land of Penn; for here, thought I, sympathy for the slave will surely be found. But I found it not. The people were kind and hospitable, but the slave had no place in their thoughts. I therefore shut up my grief in my own heart. I remembered that I was a Carolinian, from a State which framed this iniquity by law. Every Southern breeze wafted to me the discordant tones of weeping and wailing, shrieks and groans, mingled with prayers and blasphemous curses. My heart sank within me at the abominations in the midst of which I had been born and educated. What will it avail, cried I, in bitterness of spirit, to expose to the gaze of strangers the horrors and pollutions of slavery, when there is no ear to hear nor heart to feel and pray for the slave? But how different do I feel now! Animated with hope, nay, with an assurance of the triumph of liberty and good-will to man, I will lift up my voice like a trumpet, and show this people what they can do to influence the Southern mind and overthrow slavery.
[Shouting, and stones against the windows.]
We often hear the question asked, "What shall we do?" Here is an opportunity. Every man and every woman present may do something, by showing that we fear not a mob, and in the midst of revilings and threatenings, pleading the cause of those who are ready to perish. Let me urge every one to buy the books written on this subject; read them, and lend them to your neighbors. Give your money no longer for things which pander to pride and lust, but aid in scattering "the living coals of truth upon the naked heart of the nation"; in circulating appeals to the sympathies of Christians in behalf of the outraged slave. But it is said by some, our "books and papers do not speak the truth"; why, then, do they not contradict what we say? They can not. Moreover, the South has entreated, nay, commanded us, to be silent, and what greater evidence of the truth of our publications could be desired?
Women of Philadelphia! allow me as a Southern woman, with much attachment to the land of my birth, to entreat you to come up to this work. Especially, let me urge you to petition. Men may settle this and other questions at the ballot-box, but you have no such right. It is only through petitions that you can reach the Legislature. It is, therefore, peculiarly your duty to petition. Do not say, "It does no good!" The South already turns pale at the number sent. They have read the reports of the proceedings of Congress, and there have seen that among other petitions were very many from the women of the North on the subject of slavery. Men who hold the rod over slaves rule in the councils of the nation; and they deny our right to petition and remonstrate against abuses of our sex and our kind. We have these rights, however, from our God. Only let us exercise them, and, though often turned away unanswered, let us remember the influence of importunity upon the unjust judge, and act accordingly. The fact that the South looks jealously upon our measures shows that they are effectual. There is, therefore, no cause for doubting or despair.
It was remarked in England that women did much to abolish slavery in her colonies. Nor are they now idle. Numerous petitions from them have recently been presented to the Queen to abolish apprenticeship, with its cruelties, nearly equal to those of the system whose place it supplies. One petition, two miles and a quarter long, has been presented. And do you think these labors will be in vain? Let the history of the past answer. When the women of these States send up to Congress such a petition our legislators will arise, as did those of England, and say: "When all the maids and matrons of the land are knocking at our doors we must legislate." Let the zeal and love, the faith and works of our English sisters quicken ours; that while the slaves continue to suffer, and when they shout for deliverance, we may feel the satisfaction of "having done what we could."
Angelina Grimké was the first woman to address a committee of the Massachusetts state legislature on antislavery petitions. Here again, her talk attracted a huge crowd, and a representative from Salem proposed that
a Committee be appointed to examine the foundations of the State House of Massachusetts to see whether it will bear another lecture from Miss Grimké!(11)
Quoted from Zinn, Howard, A People's History of the United States, 1492-Present, New York: HarperCollins, 1980, 1995, 1999; Perennial, 2003, p. 121. (Close)
Grimké's older sister, Sarah Grimké, 46, who had left Charleston, SC, with her 9 years before and had also become a Quaker abolitionist, commented on the "duties of women" in response to those who were objecting to women speaking out in public(12):
Excerpted from Grimké, Sarah, Letters on the Equality of the Sexes, and the Condition of Women (Boston: Isaac Knapp, 1838), "Letter 15: Man Equally Guilty with Woman in the Fall," provided by Old Sturbridge Village History Learning Lab (http://www.osv.org/learning/DocumentViewer.php?DocID=13), accessed 25 January 2007. (Close)
One of the duties which devolve upon women in the present interesting crisis, is to prepare themselves for more extensive usefulness, by making use of those religious and literary privileges and advantages that are within their reach, if they will only stretch out their hands and possess them. By doing this, they will become better acquainted with their rights as moral beings, and with their responsibilities growing out of those rights: they will regard themselves, as they really are, FREE AGENTS, immortal beings, amenable to no tribunal but that of Jehovah, and bound not to submit to any restriction imposed for selfish purposes, or to gratify that love of power which has reigned in the heart of man from Adam down to the present time.… They will be enabled to see the simple truth, that God has made no distinction between men and women as moral beings; that the distinction now so much insisted upon between male and female virtues is as absurd as it is unscriptural, and has been the fruitful source of much mischief.… Now 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; and that confusion must exist in the moral world, until women takes her stand on the same platform with man, and feels that she is clothed by her Maker with the same rights, and of course, that upon her devolve the same duties.…
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, 71, 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.
English-born actress Frances Anne "Fanny" Kemble, 29, pictured here, married to a Georgia plantation owner, was disgusted with slavery. She wrote in her diary this appalling observation:
In the afternoon I made my first visit to the hospital of the estate, and found it, as indeed I find everything else here, in a far worse state even than the wretched establishments on the rice island [Butler Island], dignified by that name; so miserable a place for the purpose to which it was dedicated I could not have imagined on a property belonging to Christian owners. The floor (which was not boarded, but merely the damp hard earth itself) was strewn with wretched women, who, but for the moans of pain, and uneasy, restless motions, might very well each have been taken for a mere heap of filthy rags; the chimney refusing passage to the smoke from the pine-wood fire, it puffed out in clouds through the room, where it circled and hung, only gradually oozing away through the windows, which were so far well-adapted to the purpose that there was not single whole pane of glass in them. My eyes, unaccustomed to the turbid atmosphere, smarted and watered, and refused to distinguish at first the different dismal forms, from which cries and wails assailed me in every corner of the place. By degrees I was able to endure for a few minutes what they were condemned to live their hours and days of suffering and sickness through.(13)Her journal also contained an account of contemporary black music.
Quoted in Frances Anne Kemble, Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839, ed. John A. Scott (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1984), pp. 255-256. (Close)
African roots were visible in the slaves' religious practices.(14)
Quoted from Bailey, Kennedy, and Cohen, op. cit., p. 370. (Close)
Though heavily Christianized by the itinerant evangelists of the Second Great Awakening, blacks in slavery molded their own distinctive religious forms from a mixture of Christian and African elements. They emphasized those aspects of the Christian heritage that seemed most pertinent to their own situation--especially the captivity of the Israelites in Egypt. One of the most haunting spirituals implored,
Tell old PharaohAnd another lamented,
"Let my people go."
Nobody knows de trouble I've hadAfrican practices also persisted in the "responsorial" style of preaching, in which the congregation frequently punctuates the minister's remarks with assents or amens--an adaptation of the give-and-take between caller and dancers in the African ring-shout dance.
Nobody knows but Jesus
The 6-foot-4-inch-tall, 180-pound, narrow-chested, stoop-shouldered melancholic Illinois state legislator Abraham Lincoln, 29, delivered to the Young Men's Lyceum in Springfield a speech on the danger and wickedness of mob rule:
There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law. In any case that may arise, as, for instance, the promulgation of abolitionism, one of two propositions is necessarily true: that is, the thing is right within itself, and therefore deserves the protection of all law and all good citizens, or it is wrong, and therefore proper to be prohibited by legal enactments; and in neither case is the interposition of mob law either necessary, justifiable, or excusable.(15)
Quoted in Wellman, op. cit., p. 296. (Close)
Governor John L. Wilson of South Carolina published a textbook on dueling.
The Louisville Journal reported on the
trial of John Wilson, who officiated as Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives, during the last legislative session of that State, and who walked down from his chair and slew Major T. T. Anthony with a Bowie knife on the floor of the House.… The verdict of the jury was, not guilty of murder, but excusable homicide.(16)
Quoted in McCutcheon, op. cit., p. 268. (Close)
According to Caroline Howard Gilman, in her Recollections of a Southern Matron, about her experiences as a wife(17):
Quoted from Zinn, op. cit., p. 113. (Close)
If any habit of his annoyed me, I spoke of it once or twice, calmly, then bore it quietly.
The steamboat Moselle exploded on the Ohio River near Cincinnati, killing 100 people.
John Chapman, 63, known as "Johnny Appleseed," moved west to the Indiana wilderness. He continued distributing Swedenborgian religious tracts and apple seeds to settlers there. 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."
Joseph Smith, 33, pictured here, was the "Prophet" of the 8-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.
In spite of the hatred from local "gentiles" (non-Mormons), the ever-growing Mormon congregation had been based in Kirtland, OH, but had been waiting for word from its scout Oliver Hervy Pliny Cowdery, 32, who had been commissioned to find the sect's "Zion" somewhere in the vicinity of Missouri (and indeed had started a satellite congregation in Independence, MO).
Smith had helped to organize the Kirtland Safety Society (KSS) 2 years earlier, a quasi-bank to serve the banking needs of the growing Mormon community. During the preceding year, Smith had 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. Unfortunately, with the widespread banking collapse associated with the Panic of 1837, the KSSABC had failed and its business had 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 had now been leaving the congregation in droves. After a warrant had been issued for his arrest on a charge of illegal banking, and just ahead of an armed group out to capture and hold him for trial, Smith skedaddled to Caldwell County, Missouri, with loyal Mormon lieutenant Sidney Rigdon, 45. Other loyal Mormons also abandoned Kirtland for Missouri.
Smith stated that Missouri would be the future center of the "New Jerusalem." Now new Mormon converts--most of them from the New England area--began immigrating in large numbers to Independence, MO, and the surrounding area. Unfortunately, most local "gentile" leaders and residents regarded the Mormons as a threat to their property and their political control. The tension was further fueled by the Mormon belief that Jackson County, Missouri, and the surrounding lands were destined to become a "promised land" for the Saints as they successfully purchased property and built settlements. Late in the year, Mormon settlers and non-Mormon residents engaged in the "Mormon War": After several skirmishes, the Battle of Crooked River caused sufficient casualties that Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs, 42, issued what became known as the Extermination Order, declaring that the Mormon community had
made war upon the people of this State [and that] the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peaceSoon afterward, the 2,500 troops from the state militia converged on the Mormon headquarters at Far West, MO. Smith and several other church leaders surrendered to state authorities on charges of treason and murder. They were held at Liberty Jail and spent several months in captivity. They were later transferred to a jail in Columbia, MO.
Iowa Territory was formed from part of Wisconsin Territory.
French-Canadian trapper Pierre Parrant squatted on land near Fort Snelling, Minnesota, on land that eventually became the settlement of St. Paul.
Missouri frontier pioneers including John McCoy, William Sublette, William Chick, and William Gillis founded Kansas City on a hill overlooking a bend in the Missouri River, near the Indian trading post Westport Landing.
Explorer William Clark died at the age of 68.
Passionate interest in Oregon grew among American farmers, who heard tales of wheat that grew taller than a man and turnips that were 5 feet around.
The 2-year-old Christian mission of Dr. Marcus Whitman, 36, and his wife, Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, 22, 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.
Transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, 35, pictured here, addressed an open letter to President Van Buren, indignantly referring to the removal treaty and asked what had happened to the notion of American justice(18):
Quoted from ibid., p. 147. (Close)
The soul of man, the justice, the mercy that is the heart's heart in all men, from Maine to Georgia, does abhor this business… a crime is projected that confounds our understandings by its magnitude, a crime that really deprives us as well as the Cherokees of a country for how could we call the conspiracy that should crush these poor Indians our government, or the land that was cursed by their parting and dying imprecations our country any more? You, sir, will bring down that renowned chair in which you sit into infamy if your seal is set to this instrument of perfidy; and the name of this nation, hitherto the sweet omen of religion and liberty, will stink to the world.The petition of the Cherokees, and all humanitarian appeals by white philosophers, were alike disregarded by the President, who soon thereafter directed his Secretary of War Joel Poinsett, 59, to use whatever military force would be required to move those Cherokee who had not yet complied with the treaty and moved west to live in Indian Territory among the "Cherokee Nation West," or "Old Settlers" as they came to be called, those who had already moved west years earlier in response to pressure from whites.
Poinsett in turn directed General Winfield Scott, 52, to use five regiments of regulars and 4,000 militia and volunteers to escort the Cherokees westward. Scott addressed the Indians thus(19):
Quoted from ibid. (Close)
Cherokees--the President of the United States has sent me with a powerful army, to cause you, in obedience to the treaty of 1834, to join that part of your people who are already established in prosperity on the other side of the Mississippi.&helli; The full moon of May is already on the wane, and before another shall have passed every Cherokee man, woman, and child… must be in motion to join their brethren in the far West.… My troops already occupy many positions in the country that you are about to abandon, and thousands and thousands are approaching from every quarter, to tender resistance and escape alike hopeless.… Chiefs, head men, and warriors--Will you then, by resistance, compel us to resort to arms? God forbid. Or will you, by flight, seek to hide yourselves in mountains and forests, and thus oblige us to hunt you down?The troops rounded up some 17,000 members of the Cherokee Nation and crowded them into stockades. Beginning in October, they escorted them over a 5-month period by wagon (645 wagons) and keelboat, with their horses and oxen, from tribal lands in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee 800 miles westward along the Tennessee, Ohio, Mississippi, and Arkansas Rivers to Little Rock and thence westward to the "perpetual outlet, west" (or the "Cherokee Strip") in Indian Territory (Oklahoma), with little food or shelter along the way. According to an eyewitness:
The Cherokees are nearly all prisoners. They had been dragged from their homes and encamped at the forts and military places, all over the nation. In Georgia especially, multitudes were allowed no time to take anything with them except they clothes they had on.… The property of many has been taken and sold before their eyes for almost nothing.The Cherokees called the route Nuna-da-ut-sun'y ("The Trail Where They Cried"). Some 4,000 of the Indians-- mostly infants, children, and old people--died along the way of measles, whooping cough, pneumonia, pleurisy, tuberculosis, and pallagra. President Van Buren referred to the deportation as "a happy and certain consummation" of a "wise, humane, and undeviating policy."(20)
It affords sincere pleasure to apprise the Congress of the entire removal of the Cherokee Nation of Indians to their new homes west of the Mississippi. The measures authorized by Congress at its last session have had the happiest effects.The survivors of the Nuna-da-ut-sun'y reached Indian Territory to live with the Old Settlers and, with considerable anger, with the traitor Ridge Party. These arriving survivors, the Eastern Cherokees, more numerous than the Old Settlers, brought their constitution with them; the entire tribe voted to accept it and to live under it as the final law.
(A very few Cherokees were able to purchase farmland near their ancestral lands and so did not take the journey west.)
Farmers continued to resist the new cast-iron plow, convinced that the iron would poison the soil.
Traveling peddlers, carrying a wide array of goods on a wagon, frequented rural homes and farms. "Can I suit you today, ma'am?" said a peddler from New England, when offering his wares for sale in Michigan.
I've all sorts of notions. Here's fashionable calicoes; French work collars and capes; elegant milk pans, and Harrison skimmers, and ne plus ultry dippers! patent pills--cure anything you like; ague bitters; Shaker yarbs; essences, wintergreen, lobely; tapes, pins, needles, hooks and eyes; broaches and bracelets; smelling bottles; castor ile; corn-plaster; mustard; garding seeds; silver spoons; pocket combs; tea-pots; green tea; saleratus; tracts; song-books; thimbles; baby's whistles; slates; playin' cards; puddin' sticks; baskets; wooden bowls; powder and shot. I shan't offer you lucifers, for ladies with such eyes never buy matches--but you can't ask me for anything I haven't got, I guess.(21)Food sold to the public in the markets was often adulterated. For example, pickles were treated with copper to look green; bogus "China tea" was concocted from dried thorn leaves colored with poisonous verdigris; pepper was often mixed with mustard husks, juniper berries, pea flour, and storeroom sweepings.
Quoted in McCutcheon, op. cit., p. 134, citing Mrs. Claver's Forest Life, ii, p. 113. (Close)
Life was downright grim for most pioneer families.(22)
This description of pioneer life liberally quoted from Bailey, Kennedy, and Cohen, op. cit., pp. 297-98. (Close)
Poorly fed, ill clad, housed in hastily erected shanties, they were perpetual victims of disease, depression, and premature death. Above all, unbearable loneliness haunted them, especially the women, who were often cut off from human contact, even their neighbors, for days or even weeks, while confined to the cramped orbit of a dark cabin in a secluded clearing. Breakdowns and even madness were all to frequently the "opportunities" that the frontier offered to pioneer women.
Frontier life was tough and crude for men as well. Pioneering Americans, marooned by geography, were often ill informed, superstitious, provincial, and fiercely individualistic. Ralph Waldo Emerson's popular lecture-essay "Self-Reliance" struck a deeply responsive chord. Popular literature of the period abounded with portraits of unique, isolated figures, such as James Fenimore Cooper's heroic Natty Bumppo and Hermann Melville's restless Captain Ahab--just as Jacksonian politics aimed to emancipate the lone-wolf enterprising businessperson. Yet even in this heyday of rugged individualism, there were important exceptions. Pioneers in tasks clearly beyond their own individual resources, would call upon their neighbors for logrolling and barn raising and upon their governments for help in building internal improvements.
John Torrey and New York botanist Asa Gray, 28, published Flora of North America; and New York scientist Charles A. Spencer, 25, constructed a microscope, America's first. Mathematician and philosopher Nathaniel Bowditch died at the age of 65.
English novelist Harriet Martineau, 36, published Retrospect of Western Travel, recounting her experiences while traveling in the United States.
The Roman emperor look continued to be fashionable for men. Aping the fashion of Great Britain, American men had begun growing mustaches.
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 "Old Rosin the Beau" was released and became popular (especially in later Presidential campaigns). Another new and popular song was "Flow Gently, Sweet Afton," by Philadelphia composer James E. Spilman (with lyrics taken from the 1792 Robert Burns poem "Afton Waters"). Other popular songs included "Home Sweet Home," "America," "Old Zip Coon" (later known as "Turkey in the Straw"), "Amazing Grace," and "Woodman, Spare That Tree."
Lower Canada (Quebec) rebel Robert Nelson, who had fled to Plattsburgh, NY, maintained a republican government of Quebec in exile and organized a secret society of refugees and U.S. sympathizers called the Frères Chasseurs ("Hunters' Lodges"). Some 3,000 of them, only a third armed, invaded Canada, camping at Napierville, Quebec. They also attacked Prescott, across the St. Lawrence. Loyalist volunteers and British regulars dispersed them, taking 750 prisoners; 99 were sentenced to death for treason, and a dozen were actually executed.
The British government strengthened the citadels at Halifax and Quebec, built a new fort at Kingston (near old Fort Frontenac), and stationed more than 5,000 regular troops in Canada.
John "Radical Jack" George Lambton, First Earl of Durham, 47, a brilliant, decisive, and hot-headed Radical, assisted by Edward Gibbon Wakefield, was appointed by Queen Victoria to investigate the Canadian troubles. Lord Durham's instructions were to "put things right." Meanwhile, Parliament suspended the Canadian constitution.
There were 1.25 million people in Canada, including 202,600 in Nova Scotia. A regular steamship service was established between Canada and the British Isles.
The government of the Republic of Texas, miffed at U.S. President Martin Van Buren's continued reluctance to risk a war with Mexico by annexing Texas, withdrew its offer for annexation, asserting that Texas no longer wished to be part of the United States.
Lancashire calico printer Richard Cobden, 34, and his friends established the Anti-Corn Law League in Manchester.
The economic depression of the United States spread to the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe. Continental Europe put pressure on English banks, demanding repayment of their short-term loans to American enterprises.
There were more than 48,000 children under the age of 16 living in workhouses in England.
Famine caused by crop failures killed thousands in the north of Ireland.
The British Parliament applied the harsh Poor Law of 1834 to Ireland, discouraging paupers from seeking relief and augmenting the hardship of the famine there. Work inside the workhouse was more unpleasant than any work that could be found outside it. Emigration from Ireland was thereby stimulated.
A traveling post office began operation between Birmingham and Liverpool in England.
John Henry Newman, 37, 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, 38, focused his attention on the ritual observances of the Church.
French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord died at the age of 84.
The Ottoman Sultan, supported by Russian forces, forced Serbia to repeal its constitution; he established a ruling senate with complete power.
Edward Gibbon Wakefield and his associates founded the New Zealand Association, with John George Lambton, First Earl of Durham, a prominent member. They wanted to promote the settlement of New Zealand, but the British Colonial Office was hostile, since missionaries denounced the project as hostile to the Maori natives. Nonetheless, Wakefield got the Association to form a private joint-stock company for New Zealand colonization.
According to a missionary in Hawaii:
This people have much idle time on their hands, which we feel anxious to have employed to some valuable end. It is a most difficult task to teach industry to an idle people. But it is necessary to the promotion of their Christianity.(23)
Quoted in Wallechinsky and Wallace, op. cit., p. 166. (Close)
German botanist Matthias Jakob Schleiden, 34, formulated the cell theory of physiology; German botanist Hugo von Mohl, 33, coined the term protoplasm to denote the substance of the cell that was not its nucleus; Dutch chemist Gerard Johnn Mulder, 36, cointed the term protein; Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius, 59, concluded that iron in the blood enabled the blood to absorb oxygen; French physician Charles Cagniard de la Tour, 61, demonstrated that fermentation was dependent on yeast; English geologist Charles Lyell, 41, published Elements of Geology; and German astronomer Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel, 54, made a parallax measurement of a fixed star. French chemist and physicist Pierre Dulong died at the age of 53.
French artist Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix, 40, painted Medea but was rejected for membership in the French Institute; and Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, 68, completed after 19 years Christ and the Twelve Apostles for the Frauenkirche in Copenhagen. French architect (Empire style) Charles Percier died at the age of 74.
French composer Hector Berlioz, 35, produced the opera Benvenuto Cellini; and soprano Jenny Lind, 18, the "Swedish Nightingale," made her smash debut at the Royal Theater in Stockholm as Agathe in Der Freischütz by German composer Karl Maria von Weber.
Popular songs included the French drinking song "Vive la Compagnie."