Christ's Lutheran Church in 1840

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).

The Woodstock Region in 1840

This year was remembered as a "great pigeon season," with hordes of the passenger pigeons gathering beechnuts.

Region historian Alf Evers(1)

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 and increasingly mad Robert L. Livingston, 65, 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 had been 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.

Anti-Rent simmering

Hostilities among tenant farmers in the Catskills and the lands in the Helderberg Hills to the north (particularly those on the Van Renssalaer "Manor of Rensselaerwyck"), who were objecting to the landlords' attempts to collect past-due obligations of hundreds of thousands of dollars in wheat and labor (as well as about a million fat hens), seethed after Governor William Henry Seward, 39, had quenched their uprising in 1839 with his promise to harangue the legislature to amend the feudal land tenure laws. In January the Governor did demand a change in the laws, but the legislature, dominated by the great landlords and their moneyed allies, sat for the next 4 months and did nothing about it.

The New York Crown and Cylinder Glass Company of Bristol (Shady)--founded 30 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, 35. 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.

Betsy Booth was a local herb doctor, nurse, and midwife, who had learned her craft from an "Indian doctor" on Tinker Street. She is said to have been able to cure consumption by herbal means.

Milo Barber's inn in Shandaken on the shore of the Esopus was a favorite of trout fishermen. The oldest inn in Roxbury, a noted haunt of fishermen, was now called the Hendrick Hudson House and was growing more and more elegant.

The 17-year-old commodious Catskill Mountain House near Kaaterskill Clove was now being managed by rich stagecoach entrepreneur Charles L. Beach, 31, although the Catskill Mountain Association, the corporate entity of the hotel's founder, James Powers, continued to hold the title. Under Beach's direction, unlike that of the Association, the business was able to pay its mortgage interest to the Catskill Bank and keep other creditors satisfied.

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. It was about this time that Edwards managed the building of the "bark road" (present-day Route 214) through the boulder-clogged Stony Clove to get more hemlocks (since the hemlocks closer to his factory were now gone). 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.

Tannery work was ill-paid and dangerous; many of the workers were recent immigrants from Ireland or Germany, and most Catholic. The Church of St. Mary of the Mountain was organized in Edwardsville during this year.

Part of the Canajoharie & Catskill Railroad was carrying hides and leather and other freight as well as some passengers in the northeastern Catskills. After a bridge collapsed, wrecking most of the rolling stock, the railroad went out of business.

Painter Thomas Cole, 39, of the Hudson Valley School went with writer William Cullen Bryant on a tour of Plattekill Clove and other Catskill scenic spots.

New York State contained a seventh of the U.S. population. New York City had 312,000 people, a 250% increase in 20 years.

A quarter of the population of New York State, two-thirds of the population of New York City, were engaged in trades and manufacturing--operating a store or a bank, handling produce, selling land, floating stock of a canal or turnpike company, breaking the rural and semi-feudal pattern of the Dutch patroons.

The United States in 1840

[ Martin Van Buren ]

Martin Van Buren (Democrat), 60, was President. The 26th Congress was in session. A dollar in that year would be worth $17.63 in 2006 for most consumable products.

There were more than 17 million people in the United States, including about 600,000 immigrants newly arrived within the previous decade (including 75,810 from Great Britain and 207,381 from Ireland). New Orleans was the fourth largest city in the United States, soon to overtake New York City in volume of shipping. The demographic center of the United States was now west of the Alleghenies. More than 90% of the U.S. population was rural. More than half of all Americans were under the age of 30.

New settlers were rolling westward: There were now nearly 100,000 people in Arkansas, an increase of 330% in a single decade; Missouri had grown by over 200,000 in that decade. What would become Iowa already had 43,000, Wisconsin 31,000. Many Americans had already settled in Alta California, which was part of Mexico, and in Oregon country, jointly claimed by the United States and the United Kingdom.

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

There were 1,200 cotton factories in the United States, operating 2,250,000 spindles--most of them in New England.

Some 321,000 tons of iron were produced in the United States, a 74% increase of a decade earlier, a fifteenfold increase of two decades earlier.

In the United States, 3,300 miles of canals, a 60% increase over the previous decade. There were 3,328 miles of railroad, with 300 railroad companies in operation, and track gauges ranging from 4 feet 8.5 inches to 6 feet. Little of the railroad mileage was coordinated into a railroad system; railroad entrepreneurs were trying to monopolize the trade of surrounding districts rather than establish connections with competing centers. Often railroads used different gauges to prevent other lines from tying into their tracks.

Canadian Samuel Cunard, 43, from Nova Scotia, in association with George and James Burns of Glasgow and David M'Iver of Liverpool, established the first scheduled transatlantic steamship line, the British-government-subsidized Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. The wooden steamship Britannia arrived at Boston on its first voyage.

An overnight steamer trip, or a 6-hour railroad journey, from Boston to New York cost $7 ($123.40 in 2006 dollars).

The train-and-ferry trip from New York to Philadelphia took only 6.5 hours, except when the Delaware River froze over and passengers were required to walk across the ice.

The steamboat Lexington caught fire near Eaton's Neck, NY, killing 140 people.

Peter Ballantine opened a brewery on the Passaic River at Newark, NJ.

It was considered vulgar to mention "trousers" or "pants." Here are some sample quotes that include substitutes for describing this garment:(2)

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.

Tensions with the United Kingdom

A Canadian deputy sheriff named Alexander McLeod boasted in a New York bar that he had killed Amos Durfee in the 1837 Caroline incident during the Canadian insurgency. New York authorities promptly arrested McLeod and indicted him for murder. British Foreign Minister Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston, 56, protesting that McLeod had been acting under British military orders (thereby proving that the attack on the Caroline had been officially sponsored by the British government), demanded his immediate release from jail. Federal authorities countered with the statement that they had no jurisdiction, since McLeod was charged with violating New York state law. Palmerston informed the British Ambassador to the U.S. that McLeod's execution
would produce war, war immediate and frightful in its character, because it would be a war of retaliation and vengeance.

In addition, there still remained ill feelings between British Canadians and Americans in the disputed Aroostook region of Maine, even after a fragile truce the previous year had ended 2 years of hostilities (the so-called "Aroostook War"). The American military and the New Brunswick Governor had negotiated this settlement, temporarily recognizing each other's possession of territory.

There was tension for yet another reason: Slavery. The British had outlawed the slave trade 33 years earlier, and 6 years earlier they had abolished slavery throughout their empire. The United States had officially forbidden the transoceanic slave trade 32 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.

Connecticut showman Phineas Taylor Barnum, 30, continued his career of showing carnival attractions. He exhibited Dutch belted cows as one of his curiosities.

The Cincinnati Times began publication, with Calvin W. Starbuck as publisher.

The Memphis Commercial-Appeal began publication.

Spanish nobleman Don Philippe introduced grapefruit trees into Florida.

William Miller, 68, a veteran of the War of 1812, worked out at Hampton, New York, the theory that the second coming of Christ would take place on 22 October 1843. He founded the Millerite or Adventist sect which persuaded thousands to sell their goods and, clothed in suitable robes, await the Second Coming on roofs, hilltops, and haystacks, which they believed would shorten their ascent to Heaven.

A group of alcoholic revelers in Baltimore were so impressed by the earnestness of temperance reformers that they founded their own temperance society, the Washingtonians, dedicating themselves to alcoholic moderation.

Elizabeth Cady, 25, married Henry Stanton, 35, insisting that the word obey be deleted from her marriage vow.

[ William Lloyd Garrison ] Boston abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, 35, pictured here, refused to attend the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London, protesting the exclusion of women. (The male delegates had banished the females to the balcony.) The antislavery movement was already split into two factions over the issue of women's rights.

Connecticut attorney Roger Sherman Baldwin, 48, continued to argue before the U.S. District Court in New Haven, CT, for the freedom of Cinqué and 53 other slaves who had been captured from West Africa by Spanish slavers in violation of a Spanish-British Treaty outlawing further slave trade. (The previous year the slaves had mutinied and taken over the ship Amistad, which was transporting them from one Cuban port to another, and had been captured outside Long Island by the U.S. Navy and forced into New London, where they had been incarcerated.) When the District Court moved to New Haven in January of 1840, Judge Andrew Judson decided in favor of the captives. Unfortunately, Spain was demanding that the slaves be given up to be tried for piracy in a Spanish court, and President Van Buren, fearing that Southern Democrats might not support him in the 1840 Election, wanted to comply. The Van Buren Administration appealed Judson's decision to the District Court of Appeals, which upheld Judson's decision. The Administration then appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

[ John Quincy Adams ] Abolitionists sent tens of thousands of anti-slavery petitions to the 26th 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, 73, 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 (and most of them 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.

A cancer in the bosom of the South was the financial instability of the plantation system. The temptation to overspeculate in land and slaves caused many planters to plunge in beyond their depth. Hunt's Merchant Magazine estimated that it cost $2.85 ($50.25 in 2006 dollars) to move a bale of cotton from the farm to a seaport, and there were additional charges amounting to more than $15 ($265) for storage, port fees, insurance, and freight to a European port. Middlemen, most of them from New York, earned most of this money.

Although the black slaves might in extreme cases be fed for as little as ten cents a day ($1.76 a day in 2006 dollars), there were other expenses. The slaves represented a heavy investment of capital, and they might deliberately injure themselves or run away. An entire slave quarter might be wiped out by disease or even by lightning, as happened in one instance to 20 ill-fated blacks.

Under the "slave codes" in the South, slaves were forbidden to gather in groups of more than three. They could not leave their owner's land without a written pass. They were not allowed to own guns. They were not allowed to testify in court, and so could never bring charges against owners who abused them.

President Van Buren ordered that the workday for federal employees be reduced to 10 hours.

A group of scientists sought a federal charter for a National Institution for the Promotion of Science; they were turned down on constitutional grounds. One legislator said that if Congress

went on erecting corporations in this way, they would come, at last, to have corporations for everything.(3) Quoted in Garraty, John A., The American Nation: A History of the United States, New York: Harper and Row, 1966, p. 338. (Close)
In another couple of decades, of course, there would be corporations for nearly everything.

Financial depression (from the Panic of 1837)

There was no specie (hard money) in circulation, and employers were paying their workers in paper "shinplasters" of dubious value and often counterfeit. Some 39,000 Americans were bankrupt. Almost all New England textile mills were shut down. Thousands were reduced to starvation.

The shakeout of land speculators made more U.S. farmland available for real farmers. Recovery from the Depression was very slow.

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 ("subtreasuries") placed in various parts of the country. All government payments were to be made in specie (coined money) by 1843. The bill met with tremendous resistance from banking interests and in the 26th Congress from Whigs and Conservative Democrats, but it was finally enacted. The Depression created an atmosphere of malaise around the Presidential campaign of 1840.

Presidential election of 1840

[ Henry Clay of Kentucky ] Whig Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky, 63, pictured here at the right, endorsed for President by several legislatures, felt sure of the Whig nomination and wrote his son:
If I am to judge from information which daily, almost hourly reaches me, there is everywhere an irresistible current setting toward me.
[ Daniel Webster of Massachusetts ] Whig support came from all those hard hit by the Depression as well as Jackson's war on the Bank; there were also rabid states'-righters, and there were old Federalist Yankees who disliked anything Democrat, factory owners wanting higher tariffs, and Westerners supporting Henry Clay's ideas. At their convention, however, the Whigs passed over both of its greatest stars, Clay and Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster, 58, pictured here at the left, aware that each had many enemies as well as supporters, and instead nominated a military hero from the War of 1812: William Henry Harrison of Ohio, 67. Clay was anguished with the news:
My friends are not worth the powder and shot it would take to kill them!… I am the most unfortunate man in the history of parties, always run by my friends when sure to be defeated, and now betrayed for a nomination when I, or anyone, would be sure of election. If there were two Henry Clays, one of them would make the other President of the United States.(4) 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. 186. (Close)

[ John Tyler ] When the Whig convention offered Clay the Vice Presidency slot, he rejected it with disdain. Big mistake--big, huge. So, to keep states'-righters in the fold (to "balance" the ticket), the Whigs nominated John Tyler, 50, pictured here, a Virginia Democrat (he called himself a "Republican" because there was still ambiguity about the name of the Democratic Party). Tyler had resigned his Senate seat rather than vote to expunge a resolution of censure on President Jackson (which the Virginia legislature had instructed him to do). Tyler's stance against Jackson made him popular with Whigs, but he was never really a Whig.

President Van Buren and Vice President Richard M. Johnson, 60, ran for reelection on the Democratic ticket.

The Whigs had no real platform and they ignored real issues. Party leaders made sure that Harrison remained uncommitted on any controversial issue; the convention even appointed a committee to oversee Harrison's correspondence.

Political parties competed for votes by offering exciting entertainment. Countless local rallies, usually synchronized with an anniversary, a barbecue, or a county fair, provided an opportunity for politicians to make spellbinding speeches. The steamboat and the railway carried orators great distances, enabling them to speak in many parts of the country. Senator Rives from Virginia addressed a huge gathering in Auburn, NY, for three and a half hours; he was followed by Senator Legaré of South Carolina for an additional two and a half hours. Henry Clay addressed 12,000 men in a tobacco factory, and Daniel Webster stumped from Vermont to Virginia, attracting crowds of more than 15,000. On one such occasion, so many locals preceded Webster that he did not begin his speech until 2 a.m.; he spoke for more than an hour to an utterly silent and entranced audience. The great orator Seargent Prentiss made speeches in Portland, ME; New Orleans, LA; Chicago, IL; and some fifty other places.

Harrison's supporters, relying on the emotions of the voters (and appealing to expectations of profit and patronage), sang of their hero, "Old Tippecanoe," the nickname for Harrison, who had been the victorious general against the Shawnee Indians in the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe (actually an unequal slaughter).

President Van Buren's luxurious habits were a campaign target. Charles Ogle, a Congressman from Pennsylvania, delivered a famous speech, "The Royal Splendor of the President's Palace." Farmers and simple folk the country over learned that the White House was a palace "as splendid as that of the Caesars," that "Martin Van Ruin" doused his whiskers in French eau de cologne, that he slept on a Louis XV bedstead, that he used a gold spoon to sip his soup à la reine, that he ate paté de foie gras from a plate of silver, that he trod on Royal Wilton carpets that cost the people $5 a yard ($88 a yard in 2006 dollars), and that he rode around Washington in a gilded coach made in Britain. One Whig newspaper charged that Van Buren had spent "thousands of the people's dollars" to install a bathtub in the White House.

[ William Henry Harrison ] The Whigs capitalized on how the supposedly simple, brave, honest, public-spirited, common Harrison, pictured here, who, supposedly, drank ordinary hard cider and ate hog meat and grits, used plain and sturdy furniture, contrasted with "Van, Van, the used-up man":

No ruffled shirt, no silken hose,
No airs does Tip display;
But like "the pit of worth" he goes
On homespun "hodden-grey."
Upon his board there ne'er appeared
The costly "sparkling wine,"
But plain hard cider such as cheered
In days of old lang syne.(5) Quoted in Morison, Samuel Eliot, The Oxford History of the American People, New York: Oxford University Press, 1965, pp. 456-57. (Close)
One Democratic journalist in Baltimore countered with a sneering reference to Harrison: that if he were given a barrel of hard cider and a pension of $2,000 ($35,260 in 2006 dollars), he would prefer his log cabin to the White House. The Whigs capitalized on this in hundreds of brass-band and bannered parades and barbecues with homespun orators, working out of log-cabin party headquarters, wearing log-cabin badges, singing log-cabin songs, making log-cabin parade floats, serving plenty of free cider, and singing with huzzahs:
Let Van from his coolers of silver drink wine,
And lounge on his cushioned settee;
Our man on his buckeye bench can recline,
Content with his hard cider is he.
Then a shout from each freeman--a shout from each State,
To the plain, honest husbandman true,
And this be our motto--the motto of Fate--
"Hurrah for Old Tippecanoe!"(6) Quoted in ibid., pp. 457-58. (Close)
The Whigs thus defined Harrison as a "man of the people," a humble North Bend, Ohio farmer (the poor "Farmer from North Bend") who had been called up from his plow and his log cabin to drive corrupt Jackson spoilsmen from the "presidential palace." Of course, the wealthy and well-educated William Henry Harrison, son of Declaration of Independence signer and Virginia Governor Benjamin Harrison, had never lived in a log cabin, but the Democrats could not convince the public of Harrison's aristocratic background. Instead, they revealed that "Granny Harrison, the Petticoat General," had resigned from the army before the War of 1812 had ended. They accused "General Mum" Harrison of not speaking out on the issues. "Should Harrison be elected?" they asked the voters. "Read his name spelled backwards," they advised. "No sirrah." And they lied that Harrison had been a Federalist at the 1814 secessionist Hartford Convention, and that he was a rabid abolitionist-- all to no avail.

In a typical Whig cartoon, Harrison stood outside a log cabin, greeting Van Buren and his aides:

Gentlemen,… If you will accept the [simple food] of a log cabin, with a western farmer's cheer, you are welcome. I have no champagne but can give you a mug of good cider, with some ham and eggs, and good clean beds. I am a plain backwoodsman. I have cleared some land, killed some Indians, and made the Red Coats fly in my time.(7) Quoted in Davidson, James West, and Stoff, Michael B., The American Nation, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1986, 1995, p. 343. (Close)
In contrast to homespun Harrison, "King Mat" Van Buren, the "Flying Dutchman," who was actually born in poverty, was a "democratic peacock, plumed, perfumed, and strutting around the White House." According to Webster, the Democrats had replaced "Old Hickory" Jackson with "Slippery Elm" Van Buren.
The times are bad and want curing;
They are getting past all enduring;
So let's turn out Martin Van Buren
And put in old Tippecanoe!
Here is another campaign song of the Whigs:
Old Tip, he wears a homespun shirt,
He has no ruffled shirt, wirt, wirt.
But Matt, he has the golden plate,
And he's a little squirt, wirt, wirt.
In towns throughout the country chanting, bawling, marching Whigs, drunk on hard cider, rolled huge 12-foot-diameter twine balls down the street, from village to village, from state to state, representing the snowballing majority for "Tip and Ty," covered with the slogan "Keep the ball rolling." They shouted such slogans as "Harrison, Two Dollars a Day and Roast Beef" and "With Tip and Tyler We'll Bust Van's Biler [boiler]." Women, who could not vote, joined the parades with brooms to "sweep" the Democrats out of office, wearing sashes that proclaimed "Whig husbands or none."(8)

Quoted in ibid., pp. 343-44; Bailey, Thomas A., Kennedy, David M., and Cohen, Lizabeth, The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998, p. 291. (Close)

The State of Maine voted first, in late summer. Edward Kent, the Whig candidate for Governor, won handily, as did all the Whig candidates, including Harrison and Tyler. The Whigs gushed:

Oh have you heard how Old Maine went?
She went hell-bent for Governor Kent.
And Tippecanoe and Tyler too.

James Gillespie Birney, 48, a former Alabama slaveholding plantation owner who had been converted to the abolitionist cause by Ohio abolitionist Theodore Dwight Weld, 37, ran for President on the antislavery platform of the new Liberty Party, which advocated political action rather than moral argument to correct such social injustices as slavery.

All the claptrap paid off. In the huge election turnout (more than 2.4 million votes cast, a 60% increase over the 1836 turnout), Harrison won the election with 234 electoral votes (from such states as Clay's Kentucky, Jackson's Tennessee, most of the West, all of New England except New Hampshire, and all of the South except Virginia and South Carolina) against 60 for Van Buren. The popular vote was 1,269,763 for Harrison, 1,126,137 for Van Buren. Because of his lack of support for the Canadian insurgents, Van Buren lost the critical 42 electoral votes from his own state, New York, by 13,293 out of 441,139 popular votes. Tyler was elected Vice President, defeating Democrat Richard M. Johnson. Birney, the antislavery candidate, polled about 7,000 votes.

The 27th Congress was elected as well, to begin serving in the coming year.

Second Seminole War

Hostilities continued.

The Potawatomie Indians of Indiana were forcibly moved west, across the Mississippi River.

John Chapman, 65, known as "Johnny Appleseed," continued distributing Swedenborgian religious tracts and apple seeds to settlers in the Indiana wilderness. 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."

During this year, the evangelical American Tract Society was able to dispose of 3 million of its various publications. Its hundreds of missionary salesmen, known as "colporteurs," wandered over the countryside preaching the Gospel and selling (or giving away) religious tracts that avoided denominational controversies.

French-Canadian trapper Pierre Parrant was removed from his squatter holdings near Fort Snelling, Minnesota.

More than 200 steamboats were plying the Mississippi River, replacing the smaller boats (40-foot pirogue canoes, keelboats, and bateaux).

The entire Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) was split into two mutually hostile factions, the "Old Settlers," who had moved west years earlier in response to pressure from white settlers, and the Eastern Cherokees, who had arrived from (and had survived) the 1838 forced removal they called Nuna-da-ut-sun'y ("The Trail Where They Cried"), better known as the "Trail of Tears." Several missionaries and teachers who had been with the Indians a long time in the East had come with the Eastern Cherokees on the cruel journey. New teachers now began arriving from the North. Some of these missionaries were violently opposed to slavery, but the Indian agents and other government officials, many of whom were from the South, believed in slavery very strongly.

[ Joseph Smith ] Joseph Smith, 35, pictured here, was the "Prophet" of the 10-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.

Responding to persistent hatred from "gentiles" (non-Mormons), typically reacting to the polygamy doctrine, the ever-growing Mormon congregation had been migrating from bases in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio (where Smith had to escape from an arrest warrant for fraud and illegal banking), Missouri, and finally to their own theocratic settlement in Hancock County, Illinois, which they called "Nauvoo," with its own state charter authorizing independent municipal courts, the foundation of a university, and even its own army, the "Nauvoo Legion." The settlement continued to attract new followers, many of them from Liverpool, England, where Smith's lieutenant Brigham Young, 39, had promised poor workers and tenant farmers the prospect of decent living and later on heavenly "thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers." Unfortunately, robbers and outlaws gathered within the settlement, called themselves "Mormons," and used the town as a base for committing crimes in the region. They then would take refuge in Nauvoo, secure from arrest from the county sheriff. The true Mormons were fanatics labeling all other forms of religion the "works of the devil," and they defended anyone who called himself a Mormon.

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 Depression resulting from the Panic of 1837 influenced many farmers to lust for a new start in Oregon.

The 4-year-old Christian mission of Dr. Marcus Whitman, 38, and his wife, Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, 24, 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.

Joel Pickens Walker, 43, led his own family and three other missionary families over the long trail to Oregon Country. Missions were now being established not only among the Cayuse but also among the Flatheads (near the site of present-day Spokane, WA) and the Nez Percé. The New Testament was printed in the Nez Percé language.

Science and technology in America: Specifics

Graphite was produced commercially in Ticonderoga, NY.

English-born chemist John W. Draper, 29, took photographs of the moon; the Baltimore College of Dental Surgeons was organized; the American Journal of Dental Science began publication; and the American Society of Dental Surgeons was organized in New York City.

Arts and culture in America: Specifics

George Bancroft, 40, published volume 3 of his History of the United States.

Novelist James Fenimore Cooper, 51, frequently sued unsuccessfully for libel, published The Pathfinder (fourth in the "Leatherstocking" series); Boston novelist Richard Henry Dana, 25, anonymously published Two Years Before the Mast, about his experiences as a common sailor during a voyage to California; Virginia poet and novelist Edgar Allan Poe, 31, published Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, which included "The Fall of the House of Usher"; and Massachusetts sculptor Horatio Greenough, 35, created a Neoclassical statue of a semiclad George Washington in sandals to sufficient public outrage to prevent its placement in the Capitol building in Washington, DC. Viennese dancer Fanny Eissler, 30, toured the U.S., introducing the polka. [ Henry David Thoreau ] Henry David Thoreau, 22, pictured here, remarked on the rampant new industrialism in America:

How little do the most wonderful inventions of modern times detain us. They insult nature. Every machine or particular application seems a slight outrage against universal laws. How many fine inventions are there which do not clutter the ground.(9) Quoted in Wallechinsky, David, and Wallace, Irving, The People's Almanac, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1975, p. 167. (Close)

Transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, 37, described life as a reformer:

[ Ralph Waldo Emerson ] We are all a little wild here with numberless projects for social reform.… But what is man born for but to be a Re-former, a Re-maker of what man has made… a restorer of truth and good?(10) Quoted in Davidson and Stoff, op. cit., p. 401. (Close)

The Roman emperor look continued to be fashionable for men. More and more men were 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), Spirit of the Times, and Graham's Magazine. 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.

Popular songs included "Old Rosin the Beau," "Flow Gently, Sweet Afton," "Home Sweet Home," "America," "Turkey in the Straw," "Amazing Grace," and "Woodman, Spare That Tree."

The World at Large in 1840

The British Parliament, through the Act of Union promoted by Lord John Russell, united Upper Canada (Ontario) with Lower Canada (Quebec) into a single government. The act also authorized various administrative reforms.

Lord Durham, the first Governor-General of Canada, died at the age of 48.

There were 1,450,000 people, not counting Indians and Inuits, in British North America (Canada).

California turmoil

Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado of the nearly autonomous Mexican Province of Alta California rounded up about a hundred American and British residents, including the notorious Isaac "Ike" Graham, to send them on to Mexico City. Eustace Barron, a British vice-consul, however, obtained their release. Most of them returned to California, and many of them filed suit against the Governor for damages. Barron forwarded Graham's statement to the U.S. government, which then strengthened its Pacific squadron for the protection of its nationals.

The Netherlands, Belgium, and the U.K. recognized the independence of Texas. In particular, the U.K. was intensely interested in an independent Texas; such a republic would check the southward surge of the American colossus into the Caribbean and South America, where there were British colonies and British economic spheres of interest. An independent Texas could clash with the U.S., creating a diversion while the U.K. and France could exploit the New World without worrying about the Monroe Doctrine. Abolitionists in Britain wanted a slave-free independent Texas to inflame the slaves of the American South. British merchants regarded cotton-producing Texas as a potentially important free-trade (tariff-free) area, relieving British textile manufacturers of their dependence on American cotton.

Texas President Sam Houston, 47, newly divorced from Eliza Allen Houston on the grounds of abandonment, married Miss Margaret Lea of Alabama, beginning a happy marriage that produced a family of brilliant children. Margaret considered herself the instrument of "Houston's regeneration," inducing him to swear off drinking and tobacco chewing and all his bad habits except swearing.

The United Provinces of Central America (Guatemala, San Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Costa Rica) dissolved into its separate components. Rafael Carrera became Dictator of Guatemala.

Brazilian insurgency

Brazil was beset with provincial revolts and separatist movements. Direct monarchial rule was reestablished under Pedro II, who was declared Emperor.

José Francia, Dictator of Paraguay, died at the age of 74.

A worldwide cholera epidemic began.

[ Queen Victoria ] [ Prince Albert ] Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, 21, married Prince Franz Karl August Albert Emmanuel of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (Prince Albert), 21. At her wedding, Victoria wore only items of British manufacture. Albert was the son of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and the nephew of King Leopold I of Belgium (Queen Victoria was Leopold's niece).

There were 1,331 miles of railroad in operation in Great Britain.

Sir W. S. Smith, a British admiral in the Napoleonic Wars, died at the age of 85.

English man of fashion and wit Beau Brummell (George Bryan Brummell) died at the age of 62.

Schoolmaster Rowland Hill, 45, established the penny post for letters under a half an ounce to any point in the United Kingdom (thereby replacing the earlier system of charging by shape, weight, and size of the letters). The world's first adhesive postage stamps (the Penny Blanks, bearing the head of Queen Victoria) went on sale. British postal revenues fell drastically, even though twice as many letters were posted.

England stopped transporting criminals to New South Wales in Australia.

The World's Anti-Slavery Convention opened in London. After fierce argument, the majority voted to exclude women from the main meeting but allow them to attend behind a curtained enclosure. The women sat in silent protest, and William Lloyd Garrison, 35, from the United States, sat with them.

Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, introduced the afternoon tea to British society. (Britons still drank more coffee than tea.)

John Henry Newman, 39, 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, 40, focused his attention on the ritual observances of the Church.

Brigham Young, 39, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) from the United States, visited Liverpool, England, and converted thousands of poor workers and tenant farmers, charming them with the promise of heavenly "thrones, kingdoms, principalities and powers." Thousands of these converts emigrated to the Mormon village of Nauvoo, Illinois.

The ashes of Napoleon Bonaparte were deposited at the Invalides in Paris.

Louis Napoleon Bonaparte was arrested for conspiracy against the French government; he was imprisoned at the fortress of Ham.

Alexandre Macdonald, Duc de Taranto, who had been a Napoleonic marshal, died at the age of 75.

King Willem I of the Netherlands, 68, abdicated his throne so that he could marry the Roman Catholic Belgian Countess d'Oultremont, unpopular with the Dutch. King Willem was succeeded by his son, Willem II, 47.

King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia died at the age of 69 and was succeeded by his son Friedrich Wilhelm IV, 44.

Ottoman dissolution

Muhammad Ali, 71, rebellious Viceroy of Egypt, victorious over Turkish forces, rejected the terms of the Treaty of London, dictated by the United Kingdom, Austria, Prussia, and Russia, requiring the Viceroy to return the Turkish fleet and to relinquish his claims to northern Syria, Mecca, Medina, and Crete. In return, he was acknowledged the hereditary ruler of Egypt and lifetime possession of southern Syria. At the Viceroy's rejection of the offer, the British induced the boy Ottoman Sultan Abdul Mejid, 17, to depose the Viceroy.

France was appalled at the treaty's terms. Louis Adolphe Thiers, 43, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, urged French support of Muhammad Ali. French newspapers clamored for opposition to the treaty. The British Admiral Sir Robert Stopford commanded his gunboats to bombard Beirut in Lebanon. Sir Charles James Napier, 57, led British troops onto the shore. General Napier captured Beirut, and France abandoned Muhammad Ali (Thiers resigned). The British seized Acre and forced Muhammad Ali to agree to the Convention of Alexandria, stipulating that he return the Ottoman fleet and relinquish all claims to Syria in return for hereditary rule over Egypt.

A London Conference concluded the Protocol des Droits, which closed the straits to warships of all powers and the Black Sea to Russian warships.

British expansion into central Asia

Emir Dost Muhammad of Afghanistan, 47, waged guerilla war against British forces, but was forced to surrender. The British restored Shah Shuja to the throne. Opposition to the British occupation of Afghanistan seethed under the surface.

First Opium War

British forces captured Chusan and Canton River forts in China.

British Captain Hobson concluded the Treaty of Waitangi with the Maori chiefs in New Zealand, whereby the chiefs ceded all the rights and powers of sovereignty in return for confirmation in

the full and exclusive possession of their lands and estates.
Captain Hobson chose Aukland in the North Island as his capital. The British government finally recognized the New Zealand Association of colonizer Edward Gibbon Wakefield, with their capital at Wellington, but it resisted Wakefield's settlers clamor for more land. The Association settlers bitterly resented the treaty.

The United States South Seas Exploring Expedition (U.S. Ex. Ex.)

American scientist and surveyor Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, 42, having promoted himself to Captain, commanding a six-vessel U.S. Navy expedition to circumnavigate the world (intending to provide accurate charts for the American whaling industry) continued his voyage. After leaving Antarctica, his fleet sailed into the Pacific and mapped much of the Pacific Northwest coastline. Then they explored the Fijis. There they met up with cannibals, including one chief notorious for having chopped off and roasted the legs and arms of two captive warriors and then forcing them to dine on their own body parts. One of Wilkes's officers and his nephew were killed in a confrontation with these natives. As a reprisal, the Americans slaughtered many Fijians and destroyed their villages.

World science and technology

English astronomer Frederick William Herschel, 48, discovered the solvent power of sodium hyposulfite on silver salts, improving the process of photographic development.

English physicist James Prescot Joule, 22, published On the Production of Heat by Voltaic Electricity, introducing the Joule effect in his First Law of Thermodynamics and precise measurement of electric current.

English naturalist Charles Robert Darwin, 31, published Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle; and Swiss naturalist Louis Agassiz, 33, published Etudes sur les Glaciers on the effects of glacial movement.

German physician Karl A. von Basedow, 41, described exophthalmic toxic goiters; and German chemist Baron Justus von Liebig, 37, discovered the fundamentals of artificial fertilizer.

Czech physiologist Johannes Evangelista Purkinje, 53, proposed that the term protoplasm be applied to the formative material of young animal embryos; Swiss chemist Charles J. Choss demonstrated the body's need for calcium in proper bone development; and German scientist Johannes Peter Müller, 39, completed The Handbook of Human Physiology, reaffirming the old Aristotlean idea of spontaneous generation (that, for example, maggots spontaneously are generated by decaying meat).

German botanist and physical anthropologist Johann Blumenbach died at the age of 88, and German astronomer Heinrich W. M. Olbers died at the age of 82.

World philosophy and religion

French socialist writer Pierrre Joseph Proudhon, 31, published the pamphlet Qu-est-ce que propriété? ("What Is Property") and answered the question: "La propriété, c-est la vol." ("Property is theft.")

Arts and culture in the British Isles

English poet and novelist Robert Browning, 28, published Sordello; and architect Sir Charles Barry, 45, began building the Houses of Parliament in London. Nelson's Column, designed by William Railton and executed by E. J. H. Bailey, was erected in Trafalgar Square. Composer Joseph Philip Knight, 28, composed "Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep." Novelist Fanny Burney died at the age of 88, and Scots landscape painter Alexander Nasmyth died at the age of 82.

World arts and culture

Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti, 43, produced the opera La Fille du Régiment ("The Daughter of the Regiment"). German composer Robert Schumann, 30, married Clara Wieck and composed the popular song "Die beiden Grenadiere" ("The Two Grenadiers"). Italian composer and violinist Niccolo Paganini died at the age of 58.

French instrument maker A. F. Debain, 31, constructed a harmonium (orgue experessif); and Belgian instrument maker Antoine Joseph (Adolphe) Sax, 26, invented the saxophone.

French artist Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix, 42, exhibited Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople in the Louvre; French landscape painter Jean-Babtiste-Camille Corot, 44, painted Flight into Egypt; and French painter Théodore Chassériau, 20, painted Christ au Jarden des Oliviers. German romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich died at the age of 66.

French vaudeville dramatist Augustin Eugène Scribe, 48, produced Le Verre d'Eau, ou les Effects et les Causes ("The Glass of Water, or Causes and Effects"); German poet and dramatist Christian Friedrich Hebbel, 27, produced the tragedy Judith in Berlin; Spanish dramatist José Zorilla y Moral, 22, produced El Zapatero y el Rey ("The Shoemaker and the King"); and German merchant Max Schneckenburger, 21, produced Die Wacht am Rhein ("Watch on the Rhine").

Italian poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni, 55, republished the romantic novel I Promessi Sposi ("The Betrothed") in a Tuscan dialect; Russian poet and novelist Mikhail Yurievich Lermentov, 26, published the poem The Demon and Mtsyri ("The Novice") and the novel Geroï Nashevo Vremeni ("A Hero of Our Times") (he was again banished to the Caucasus after a duel with the son of the French ambassador); and French novelist Prosper Mérimée, 37, published the Corsican short story Colomba.

German Plattdeutsch novelist Fritz Reuter, 30, was released from prison after serving 4 years on a political conviction. French dramatist Louis Lemercier died at the age of 69.


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