Pastor Ephraim DeYoe, conducting services for the first part of the year 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). Fulfilling a commitment that had been made five years earlier (see 1838), the congregation razed the second church building (it was considered "past repairing") and completed an entirely new building completed on the same site. The building was still known as the "Church on the Rocks."
We have no description of what it was like in the first or second church building, but here is a reminiscence(1)
Quoted from Moseman, Magda, and Anderson, Mark, eds., Perspectives and Patterns: Christ's Lutheran Church, 1806-1976 [Woodstock, NY: self-published monograph, 1976], itself citing Nathaniel M. Nash. (Close)
about what the third was like in the 1850s (and, no doubt, in the 1840s as well):
My memory dates back fifty years, and that old church standing upon the rocks is the same in outward appearance now as it was then. The door in the center of the south end opened directly into the church, there being no vestibule or hall. The stove stood between the door and the first row of seats.… The stove was a solid cast iron stove … it took long wood and when it got hot it was awful hot. The pipe suspended by wire ran the whole length of the church to the chimney at the north end.… The seats were planed pine boards with backs and ends, and I think the hard side of the boards was up. I could not sit still on them. …Pastor DeYoe was serving at Ghent, in the conservative New York Ministerium, as well as in Woodstock, in the revivalist Hartwick Synod.
The church was lighted with candles, a candlestick on each end post of the pulpit and tin candle holders hanging upon the wall--just enough of them to make darkness visible. Every little while the sexton would go around with the snuffers and snuff the candles and sometimes he would snuff too low when out would go the light.
There was no carpet on the floor.… There was no bell, so when it was time to commence service, someone would come out and tell those outside to come in.
The General Synod, which our church also belonged to, reported this year under the heading of "revivals":
The church during this last year … has been signally blessed with most precious seasons of revival. [Throughout the synod] … our hearts have been cheered with the delightful information that pastors and people have been refreshed with the gracious outpourings of the Holy Spirit.(2)
From Anderson, Mark J., For All the Saints: Christ's Lutheran Church, Woodstock, New York, 1806-2006 [Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2006], pp. 46-47, citing Wentz, Abdel Ross, A Basic History of Lutheranism in America [Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1955], p. 92. (Close)
Region historian Alf Evers(3)
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 utterly mad Robert L. Livingston, 68, dwelling in his Clermont estate on the other side of the Hudson. Livingston finally died during this year, and his estate was inherited by his sons, socialite Eugene Augustus Livingston, 30, and painter Montgomery Livingston, 27.
Livingston had long 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 had become ever more bold in their resistance to Livingston demands for rent payments, especially with news of the simmering Anti-Rent agitation to the north.
Together with all and singular the trees, woods and under woods to be made use of on the premises and nowhere else; saving and reserving to the party of the first part, her heirs and assigns, all water courses suitable for the erection of mills, with a right to erect mills or other works thereon with three acres of land adjacent, thereto; and also saving and reserving a right to erect dams and out ditches for the use of such water work. And also saving all mines or minerals found on the devised premises with the sole right to dig for and work the same, the said party of the first part compensating for any damage sustained thereby.…Just as in the previous 3 years, however, the legislature, dominated by the great landlords and their moneyed allies, did nothing about it. Moreover, many ordinary citizens felt no sympathy with the Anti-Renters, for they fancied how romantic it was that Old World ways described by Sir Walter Scott novels had survived in New York State.
Yielding and paying therefore during the continuance of this present lease, yearly and every year the yearly rent of two fat hens and one day's labor, with a wagon, sled or plough with a yoke of oxen or pair of horses and a driver, at such time and place within ten miles as the party of the first part, her heirs and assigns shall require.…
And also it is further covenanted and agreed that upon every sale or assignment of the said premises… the party of the second part shall pay to the party of the first part one tenth part of the consideration money.(4)
Quoted in "Welcome Page of the Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site" (http://18.104.22.168/search?q=cache:WUORtZrvW34J: www.rootsweb.com/"nydelawa /books/murraysectionVIII. html+Delaware+County,Moses+Earl ,rent&hl=en&ie=UTF-8). (Close)
The evils of this feudal system bore heavily upon the farmers in these rough and unproductive regions. To spare from their little wheat crops enough to pay the landlord his rent was a pinching process, which compelled the families to live upon rye and buckwheat. Or if the rent was payable in money, much of the returns from their little dairies was swallowed up for this insatiable purpose. Encouraged by Dr. Smith Boughton of East Manor (who had participated in the 1837 Papineau Rebellion in Quebec) and by Thomas Ainge Devyr (who had fled England after the suppression of the 1837 Chartist Rebellion), farmers were protesting in Albany, Rensselaer, Columbia, Ulster, and Schoharie counties, many of them planning forcible resistance. Anti-Rent associations were being formed with elaborate attempts at secrecy. So-called "lecturers" among the tenants aroused every group of farmers that might listen.
By this year the Anti-Rent tension had become so serious that most landlords feared they would lose everything if they held on to their lands. Attorney John Cochran (a Livingston cousin) persuaded new landlords Eugene A. and Montgomery Livingston to sell their lands, particularly the Woodstock tract. Here is a portion of an advertisement for the sale of 15,000 acres "in the town of Woodstock"(5):
Quoted from Evers, op. cit., p. 184. (Close)
Heavily timbered and a considerable part lies on or near the Esopus Creek which is raftable to Kingston--on the premises an extensive Leather Manufactury in full business requires large amounts of bark affording a good market for the article… a large part of the land good for farming purposes and very valuable to lumbermen… also 5000 acres of improved lands in the Valley of Woodstock having the Saugerties Turnpike on one side and the Kingston on the other divided into farms of from 60 to 150 acres each with good Farm buildings--a part of the farms are leased for one life with a rent of from 15 to 20 bushels of wheat per hundred acres--a part rented from year to year and a part let on shares--many of them are well cultivated and valuable farms and from their convenience to Market an object to farmers.A group of English investors were interested in paying cash for 20,000 of the Livingston acres. The British consul in New York, Anthony Barclay, handled the proposal (including the investors' intention to "place large improvements by sending out respectable families from England") and hinted at a price of $5 per acre ($97.50 an acre in 2006 dollars). Unfortunately, the deal was never completed (so Woodstock missed out on the respectable families).
Eugene and Montgomery Livingston agreed to divide the land between themselves and dispose of it separately. But dividing the entire 66,000 acres was not a simple matter, seeming to require a complete resurvey and a clearing up of all the tenant life leaseholds. Evers describes the problem the Livingston brothers faced(6):
Quoted from ibid., p. 185. (Close)
Each leasehold had a value depending on the number of years it might normally be expected to run--that is, until the death of the last person named in the original lease regardless of who might be living there in 1843. Some "tenants at will" had no leases at all and lived on a farm on a year-to-year basis. Others whose leases were close to running out had paid their landlords in cash to insert another and younger name in their leases and so to extend their likely term. A few had perpetual or "durable" leases.The Livingstons gladly turned over the details to expensive lawyers Cochran and Rathbun.
The New York Crown and Cylinder Glass Company of Bristol (Shady)--founded 33 years earlier by Stephen Stilwell as the Bristol Glass, Cotton and Clay Company--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. Stephen L. Heath, whose house still stands just to the east of the old brick post office building on Tinker Street. Dr. Heath was active in politics and was commissioner of schools. He would ride his horse all the way to the end of Mink Hollow to deliver a baby--for a fee of $5.00 ($95.25 in 2006 dollars). 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 MacDaniel 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.
John Steinfurt Kidney, Louis L. Noble, painter and writer Charles Lanman, as part of the "brotherhood," continued to climb Plattekill Clove, Overlook Mountain (then known as South Peak), and Shue's Pond (Echo Lake) from a summer base at the old farmhouse of Levi Myer at the foot of Plattekill Clove. They enjoyed swimming and trout fishing in addition to the vigorous hiking. With the purplest of prose, Lanman was enthusiastically describing the wonders of Overlook in magazine articles:
Like most of its brethren it is a perfectly wild and uncultivated wilderness, abounding in lofty cliffs and waterfalls, and its solitude is seldom broken by the footsteps of man. Like a corner-stone it stands at the junction of the northern and western ranges of the Catskills, and as its huge form looms up against the evening sky, it inspires one with awe, as if it was the ruler of the world, and yet I have learned to love it as a friend. Its name, its image, and every tree and shrub and vine that springs from its rocky bosom can never be forgotten. I have reflected upon it when reposing in the noontide sunshine, or evelopped in clouds, when holding communion with the most holy night, or trembling under the influence of a thunder-storm. It has filled my soul with images of beauty and sublimity and made me feel the omnipresence of God.… But how can I describe the scene that burst upon our enraptured vision [at the summit in moonlight]? It was unlike anything I had ever seen before, creating a lone, lost feeling, which I supposed could only be realized by a wanderer in an uninhabited wilderness, or on the ocean a thousand leagues from home. Above, around and beneath us, ay, far beneath us were the cold bright stars, and to the eastward the "young moon with the old moon in her arms." In the west were floating a little band of pearly clouds, which I almost fancied to be winged chariots, and that they were crowded with children, the absent and loved of other years, who, in a frolic of blissful joy, were out upon the fields of heaven.… The dawn! And now for a sunrise picture among the mountains, with all the illusive performances of the mists and clouds! He comes! He comes! The king of the bright days!… Now the crimson and gold clouds are parting, and he bursts on the bewildered sight! One moment more, and the whole earth rejoices in his beams, falling alike as they do upon the prince and peasant of every land. And now on either side and beneath the sun an array of new-born clouds are forming--like a band of cavaliers, preparing to accompany their leader on a journey. Out of the Atlantic they have just risen; at noon they will pitch their tents on the cerulean plains of heaven.(7)
Quoted from ibid., pp. 251-53. (Close)
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.
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. James A. Simpson and a partner from Woodstock started the Phoenix Tannery in Phoenicia (the village named for their business). 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).
A "therapeutic chair" was being manufactured in the Kaaterskill Clove in a factory powered by the Kaaterskill Falls. Using the same stream was a paper factory. Both operations occupied the site of an abandoned tannery.
Former New Paltz slave Isabella Bomefree Van Wagenen, 46, pictured here, originally from Hurley but for the past decade and a half residing in New York City, convinced that she was in direct communication with God and distraught over the death of her son Peter at sea, took on the name Sojouner Truth (as she said, instructed to do so by the Holy Spirit) and walked out to the middle of Long Island (Huntington and Cold Springs) and then traveled across Long Island Sound to Connecticut, where she continued walking northeastward. After several months, she reached Northampton, MA, and joined the Northampton Association for Education and Industry. There she met and worked with abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and Olive Gilbert.
John Tyler, 53 (nominally a Whig) was President. The newly elected 28th Congress was in session. A dollar in that year would be worth $19.50 in 2006 for most consumable products.
Thousands of German immigrants came to the United States, at an annual rate of 43,000.
Thousands of Irish immigrants also came to the United States, at an annual rate of 78,000. The luckless Irish immigrants especially received no red-carpet treatment on their arrival in America.(8)
This description of the Irish immigrant experience 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.302-03. (Close)
Forced to live in squalor, they were rudely crammed into the already-vile slums. They were scorned by the older American stock, especially "proper" Protestant Bostonians, who regarded the scruffy Catholic arrivals as a social menace. Barely literate "Biddies" (Bridgets) took jobs as kitchen maids. Broad-shouldered "Paddies" (Patricks) were pushed into pick-and-shovel drudgery on canals and railroads, where thousands left their bones as victims of disease and accidental explosions. It was said that an Irishman lay buried under every railroad tie. Large numbers of these unskilled laborers, eager for work of any kind, were absorbed into the factories of the Northeast. They depressed wages and discouraged union organization; destitute, they accepted whatever an employer offered them. Note the conditions in Ireland that led to the massive emigration of the Irish.
Many in the North resented the Irish and other immigrants, who were gathered in urban slums and voted in blocs according to what their political bosses told them to do. Anti-immigrant bigots organized the American Republican Party, which called for reforms in the naturalization laws, including a 20-year waiting period before citizenship could be conferred.
A Catholic bishop petitioned the Philadelphia school board to allow Catholic pupils to be able to use the Catholic Douay version of the Bible rather than the King James version and to be exempted from other, Protestant religious exercises. Local anti-Catholics were enraged, starting a vilification campaign: "The Pope reigns in Philadelphia" was a headline in their weekly newspaper.
Meanwhile, the "Charterites" (those upholding the old charter), thoroughly frightened by the prospect of civil war in the state, had called another convention the previous autumn, which had framed a new state constitution, granting the franchise to native-born white male citizens over 21 who paid a poll tax of not less than a dollar a year. The constitution had been ratified by the old limited electorate before the end of the year. Governor Sam Ward King, 57, proclaimed the new constitution in January, and it took effect in May.
Meanwhile, another Rhode Island citizen who had taken part in the rebellion, ironically named Martin Luther, and who had been arrested by Luther Borden, a state official, was escalating the matter of the rebellion toward the U.S. Supreme Court. Borden had searched Luther's home and had allegedly damaged his property; Luther had sued, contending that the charter government had not been "republican" in nature because it had restricted the electorate to only the most propertied classes. Luther had cited Article IV of the U.S. Constitution that
the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Governmentand had argued that Borden acted without proper authority. If Luther's argument were to prevail in court, Dorr's alternative republican government would be found to have been the lawful government of Rhode Island.
Boston cabinetmaker Jonas Chickering developed a one-piece solid casting for upright and grand pianos.
When lexicographer Noah Webster died at the age of 90, the G. & C. Merriam printing and publishing company in Boston bought the rights to publish his 1828 American Dictionary.
Jesuits founded the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.
An unsympathetic resident of Chicopee, MA, recorded the following in his journal after witnessing a strike of female workers in the local textile mill(9):
Quoted in Zinn, Howard, A People's History of the United States, 1492-Present, New York: HarperCollins, 1980, 1995, 1999; Perennial, 2003, p. 115. (Close)
Great turnout among the girls… after breakfast this morning a procession preceded by a painted window curtain for a banner went round the square, the number sixteen. They soon came past again… then numbered forty-four. They marched around a while and then dispersed. After dinner they sallied forth to the number of forty-two and marched around to Cabot.… They marched round the streets doing themselves no credit.…
Former Boston schoolteacher Dorothea Lynde Dix, 41, pictured here, having completed an 8-year, 60,000-mile tour of insane asylums and prisons in New England, delivered a detailed report to the Massachusetts legislature documenting the inhumane treatment of mental patients: disturbed people imprisoned with criminals and left unclothed regardless of sex or age in cold, dark, and unsanitary quarters (in almshouses as well as in prisons), sometimes chained to the walls, sometimes flogged. She described cells so foul that visitors were driven back by the stench. Here are excerpts from her address at the Massachusetts statehouse(10):
Quoted in Bailey, Kennedy, and Cohen, op. cit., p. 337; Davidson, James West, and Stoff, Michael B., The American Nation, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1986, 1995, p. 412; Zinn, op. cit., p. 121. (Close)
I tell what I have seen, painful and shocking as the details often are… I proceed, gentlemen, briefly to call your attention to the present state of Insane Persons confined within this Commonwealth, in cages, closets, stalls, pens! Chained, naked, beaten with rods, and lashed into obedience.…Although the public at large was apathetic, the legislature, after several reports by Dix published in newspapers, enlarged the Worcester asylum.
Lincoln. A woman in a cage. Medford. One idiotic subject chained, and one in a close stall for 17 years. Pepperell. One often doubly chained, hand and foot; another violent; several peaceable now.… Dedham. The insane disadvantageously placed in the jail. In the almshouse, two females in stalls… lie in wooden bunks filled with straw; always shut up. One of these subjects is supposed curable. The overseers of the poor have declined giving her a trial at the hospital, as I was informed, on account of expense.
Physician Harriet Kezia Hunt, 38, who had been practicing medicine among women and children for the preceding 8 years, and who advocated diet, exercise, hygiene, and mental health, organized a Ladies Physiological Society and gave monthly lectures there. She also defied tradition by remaining single.
The Brook Farm commune in West Roxbury, MA, founded 2 years before by George Ripley, 40, and his wife, Sophia Dana Ripley, committed to the philosophy of transcendentalism, to pursue truth, justice, and order ("plain living and high thinking"), continued to grow and thrive.
A comet appeared over North America, and many Americans became interested in astronomy.
Commission merchant (and former ship captain) John Pearsall imported into New York City 300 stems of Cuban red bananas and sold them at wholesale for 25 cents a "finger" (the designation for an individual banana [$4.76 per banana in 2006 dollars]).
William Sloane opened his W. and J. Sloane store at 245 Broadway in New York City.
Amos J. Williamson began publishing the fiction magazine Weekly Universe in New York City; it would later be renamed the New York Weekly Dispatch.
The Knickerbocker Baseball Club were playing the "New York game" in an open area near Broadway and 22nd Street in New York City.
William Miller, 71, 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. Christ disappointed them by not showing up.
Breeding slaves in the way that cattle are bred was not openly encouraged.(11)
Quoted in Bailey, Kennedy, and Cohen, op. cit., pp. 368, 373. (Close)
But thousands of blacks from the soil-exhausted slave states of the Old South, especially tobacco-depleted Virginia, were "sold down the river" to toil as field-gang laborers on the cotton frontier of the lower Mississippi Valley. Women who bore thirteen or fourteen babies were prized as "rattlin' good breeders," and some of these fecund females were promised their freedom when they had produced ten. Frederick Douglass told of Mr. Covey, a white owner who bought a single female slave "as a breeder." She gave birth to twins at the end of the year.
At this addition to the human stock Covey and his wife were ecstatic with joy. No one dreamed of reproaching the woman or finding fault with the hired man, Bill Smith, the father of the children, for Mr. Covey himself had locked the two up together every night, thus inviting the result.Recalling her experiences under slavery many years later(12),
During slavery it seemed lak yo' chillun b'long to ev'ybody but you.Slaveowners considered it their right--even their duty--to oversee a slave child's upbringing. Owners disciplined children, forcibly separating them from families, and dictated the type of work they should perform.
Many a day my ole mama has stood by an' watched massa beat her chillun 'till they bled an' she couldn' open her mouf.
Many Northern workers opposed abolitionists, fearing that were slavery to end, free blacks would take their jobs. Escaped slave and abolitionist preacher Henry Highland Garnet, 28, in his address to the National Negro Convention in Buffalo, NY, condemned Northerners who
admit that slavery is wrong in the abstract, but when we ask them to help us overthrow it, they tell us it would make them beggars!(13)
Quoted from Davidson and Stoff, op. cit., p. 405. (Close)
A fugitive slave was forcibly rescued from his slave-catcher captors in Boston, and his freedom was purchased by popular subscription.
Abolitionists had been sending thousands of anti-slavery petitions to the newly elected 28th Congress, most of them addressed to Massachusetts Congressman John Quincy Adams, 76. Adams, the brave old statesman, pictured here, at last had the satisfaction of seeing the rescinding of the House of Representatives "gag resolutions," which had declared 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.
Though laws of the United States and almost every Western nation declared the African slave trade to be piracy, a capital offense, the laws against it were not enforced, at least not by the United States. British war ships attempting to suppress the trade were forbidden to search vessels, American or otherwise, that raised the U.S. flag, that "proud banner of freedom." Conversely, any American slaver had only to raise a foreign flag to evade search by the U.S. Navy, whose four vessels designated for "suppressing the slave trade" were in any event far slower than most of the slavers. The Navy Department warned its officers that they would be held personally liable for damages if they made any mistakes--such as cases being dismissed for "want of evidence" (chains and fetters on board apparently not considered evidence). As a result, tens of thousands of fresh Africans, "black ivory," were imported each year by Brazil, Cuba, and the United States. Many of the slave ships had been fitted out in New York City and other Northern states, where the profits from the trade ended up. Every Northern seaport (as well as New Orleans, Mobile, and Charleston) took part.
Having concluded the previous year's Webster-Ashburton Treaty settling several boundary and other disputes with the UK, Secretary of State Daniel Webster, 61, pictured here, as thoroughly alienated from President Tyler as the rest of Harrison's Whig cabinet, now felt free to resign his office; he was succeeded by Abel Parker Upshur of Virginia, who immediately reopened negotiations for the annexation of Texas.
Many Southern leaders were eager to obtain additional slaveholding territory, in order to regain a balance of power with the North. Cuba especially was a rich and lush temptation, with an enormous population of Negro slaves, and feebly held by a week and corrupt Spanish government. Even some Northern leaders looked with acquisitive eyes on this "Pearl of the Antilles." Daniel Webster, now reelected as Senator from Massachusetts, warned against permitting a really strong power to occupy the island, one succeeding weak and feeble Spain, implying that if such occupation occurred, intervention might be necessary.
Of course, Southern leaders were also joining Secretary of State Upshur in lobbying for the annexation of the Texas Republic, in order to enlarge the territory of slavery.
The UK, intensely interested in an independent Texas, employed many diplomatic schemes to prop up that independence: 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 UK and France could exploit the New World without worrying about the Monroe Doctrine. 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. Britain was scheming to thwart any U.S. designs to annex Texas.
Britain went so far as to supply arms to the Texans to build up its defenses against a Mexico that regarded it as a province in revolt and refused to recognize its independence. George Hamilton Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen ("Lord Aberdeen"), 59, the British Foreign Secretary, offered to guarantee Texan independence if only the Texans would agree to abolish slavery; Aberdeen promised loans to compensate the slaveholders (as Britain had done with slaveholders in its West Indian possessions). When Duff Green, son-in-law of South Carolina's John C. Calhoun, passed along this intelligence, Southern leaders became very alarmed that Texas might soon become a refuge for fugitive slaves from the Gulf states, even a springboard for hated abolitionist propaganda. They put even greater pressure on Secretary Upshur.
Meanwhile, Mexican President (dictator) Antonio López de Santa Anna, 49, pictured here, declared that U.S. annexation of Texas would mean war between the U.S. and Mexico.
Chang and Eng (Bunker), 32, male "Siamese twins" connected at the chest, married Adelaide Yates and her sister Sarah Yates (respectively) in Surrey County, North Carolina. They began producing 22 children between them.
The price of pepper imported into New England from Sumatra dropped to less than 3 cents per pound (59 cents per pound in 2006 dollars).
When the very rich banker and tobacco grower Pierre Lorillard died, newspapers referred to him as a "millionaire," the first known use of that word in print.
Benjamin T. Babbit introduced his new soap powder, "Babbit's Best Soap."
Cherokee Indian Sequoya ("George Guess"), who had created the Cherokee alphabet, died at the age of 73.
Lard oil was replacing the more expensive whale oil in lamps.
More and more men were growing mustaches. Sideburns, ever more bushy, were becoming fashionable, and some men were growing beards.
Fashionable women were piling their hair progressively higher in the back, sometimes with masses of sausage curls. Women's topknots began to move further back on the head; long coils of hair at the nape of the neck were held in place with silk nets.
According to the "Rules for Conjugal and Domestic Happiness," a wife gets the following advice(14):
Quoted from Zinn, op. cit., p. 113, who cited Mother's Assistant and Young Lady's Friend, III, Boston, April 1843, 115. (Close)
Do not expect too much.
It was considered vulgar to mention "trousers" or "pants." Here are some sample quotes that include substitutes for describing this garment:(15)
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.
Georgia Governor Wilson Lumpkin authorized the name of Terminus (Atlanta, GA), the 6-year-old termination point of J. E. Thomson's Western and Atlantic Railroad, to be changed to Marthasville, after his daughter, Martha Atlanta Thomson.
Painter-inventor Samuel Finley Breeze Morse, 52, was granted $30,000 ($585,000 in 2006 dollars) by Congress to build a 40-mile experimental telegraph line between Washington, DC, and Baltimore. With help from Ezra Cornell, 36, an Ithaca, NY, miller, and Hiram Sibley, 36, a Rochester, NY, banker businessman, Morse began constructing the world's first long-distance telegraph line.
Machines were now more and more replacing hand tools, and steam continued to replace human and animal power.
Pioneering families generally traveled west either on foot or on horseback. Many traveled the extensive rivers of the Old Northwest (again, that region between the Appalachians, the Great Lakes, the Mississippi, and the Ohio) in slow, heavy flatboats, which were poled along or allowed to drift with the current. But by now,
the day of the keelboat, the barge, and the raft had reached its zenith and was passing. River steamboats of magnificent appointments had become the spectacular feature of the rivers, although keelboat cargoes still floated down the Ohio and the Mississippi with their tough boatmen, to Homeric carousals in Natchez or New Orleans. Instead of jeans and buckskin, the new race of river men wore brass buttons and gold braid, and the setting pole and sweep had been replaced in the new era of steam by the mighty splash of paddle wheels and the sound and smoke of machinery.(16)Steamboats were now a regular sight on the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri Rivers. Some were called "floating palaces"; wealthy passengers ate fine meals, gambled, and slept in luxurious berths; the poor contended with leaky roofed vessels and slept on corn husks. Smokestack sparks might start fires, and sometimes high-pressure boilers exploded: Nearly 200 steamboats exploded during this period; over 100 burned; and there were several collisions as well.
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. 338. (Close)
John Chapman, 68, 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."
Illinois Whig Orville H. Browning pleaded in the state legislature for a public school law. He cited the benefits of public schools in Connecticut but then faced a Democratic retort about how unjust it was to tax one class for the benefit of another and that Connecticut was inundating the West with clock peddlers and others who lived by their wits (!).
Prodded by his wife, the 6-foot-4-inch-tall, 180-pound, narrow-chested, stoop-shouldered melancholic Illinois Whig state assemblyman Abraham Lincoln, 34, ran for Congress, but the Whigs nominated John J. Hardin instead. Hardin was elected.
Andrew Johnson, 35, was elected to the 28th Congress from Tennessee.
Jefferson Davis, 35, entered politics as a delegate to the Democratic State Convention in Jackson, MS.
Yellow fever swept the Mississippi River valley, killing 13,000.
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. Now new teachers were 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, and, in fact, several Cherokees owned slaves.
Joseph Smith, 38, pictured here, was the "Prophet" of the 13-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 but sometimes to bank fraud and general nuisance, the ever-growing Mormon congregation had been migrating from bases in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, and finally, 4 years earlier, to their own very rapidly growing 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, 42, had promised poor workers and tenant farmers the prospect of decent living and later on heavenly "thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers."
Smith had further inflamed the local gentiles by receiving a revelation specifically authorizing polygamy. Also, 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.
South Carolina Senator George McDuffie, 53, opposed acquisition of the Oregon Country, probably on the ground that it would not be slaveholding. He proclaimed:
If there was an embankment of five feet to be removed, I would not consent to expend five dollars [$95.25 in 2006 dollars] to remove that embankment to enable our population to go there. I thank God for his mercy in placing the Rocky Mountains there.(17)
Quoted in ibid., p. 205. (Close)
John James Audubon, 58, traveled up the Missouri River to Fort Union at the mouth of the Yellowstone River to sketch and paint wild animals.
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, who were using a New Testament printed in the Nez Percé language.
Leaving his wife at his Waiilatpu mission, Marcus Whitman himself led a wagon train of as many as 1,000 American settlers (families of men, women, and children) with "Oregon fever" from Independence, Missouri, where they had assembled in May (when the grass of the plains was fresh and green), and where they had organized parties, all of them determined to cover the requisite 2,000 miles before mountain snow would be falling in early October.
The 60 or so canvas-covered Conestoga wagons (known as "prairie schooners"), stipulated by Whitman to be certified as "sound vehicles," were loaded with household goods, supplies, and spare parts--even plows and scythes. Counting draft oxen and mules, the riding horses, and the hundreds of cattle, there were from 1,700 to 5,000 animals in the caravan. The expedition was divided into two sections: wagons with families first, the cattle herd afterward.
With the blowing of bugles and the cracking of long whips, they started westward up the west bank of the Missouri River on the Oregon Trail on past Fort Leavenworth, where the emigrants broke contact with the protection of the U.S. flag. From Council Bluffs, the Oregon Trail turned west over the Great Plains up the River Platte. Historian Samuel Eliot Morison described what it was like for the emigrants(18):
From Morison, Samuel Eliot, The Oxford History of the American People, New York: Oxford University Press, 1965, pp. 543-46. (Close)
Until wagon wheels had ground ruts into the sod, it was easy to lose the way. Numerous tributaries, swollen and turbid in the spring of the year, had to be forded or swum, to the damage of stores and baggage. Every night the caravan formed a hollow square of wagons around a campfire, the horses and mules inside; cattle were allowed to graze outside, as no Indian wanted them. Sentries stood guard and the howling of prairie wolves was drowned by a chorus of hymns and old ballads. At dawn the horses and mules were let out to browse for an hour or two; then the oxen were rounded up and hitched to the wagons, bugles blew gaily, and another start was made down-sun.The caravan continued up the hilly country along the north fork of the Platte, finally to cross the Continental Divide through the relatively easy South Pass and then down westward-flowing rivers, including the Snake and onward toward the Columbia River Valley, which was claimed by the United Kingdom (on the basis of explorations by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 and James Cook in 1788).
Included in the caravan were Missouri lawyer Peter Hardeman Burnett, 36, and surveyor lawyer Jesse Applegate, 21. U.S. Army Lieutenant John Charles Frémont, 30, pictured here, son-in-law of Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton, 61, joined the train soon after it set out. Frémont mapped and named the Great Basin, the independent system of rivers and lakes divided by the mountains from either ocean. By chopping trees and grading a way across a pass, the caravan made it across the Blue Mountains, but the Cascades proved more difficult. Many lives and most of the property was lost in crossing that last mountain barrier to the Willamette Valley, the Columbia Gorge.
Missionary Jason Lee, 39, who had settled in the Willamette Valley 7 years earlier, along with his neighbors called a meeting in early July in the valley settlement of Champoeg (near present-day Newberg, OR) and drew up a compact for governing Oregon Country, adopting the laws of Iowa and arranging to settle land titles.
Worcester, MA, inventor Charles Thurber, 40, patented a prototype typewriter, a hand-printing "chirographer" with a horizontally moving cylinder and a device for letter spacing; Boston machine shop apprentice Elias Howe, Jr., 27, invented a two-threaded, interlocking-shuttle sewing machine; and Pennsylvania physicist Alexander Bache became head of the newly reorganized U.S. Coast Survey.
Painter Washington Allston died in Cambridgeport, MA, at the age of 63; and painter John Trumbull died in New York City at the age of 87. Lexicographer Noah Webster died at the age of 85.
William Hickling Prescott, 47, completely blind, published History of the Conquest of Mexico; and Virginia poet and novelist Edgar Allan Poe, 34, published The Prose Romances of Edgar A. Poe, which included the short stories "The Pit and the Pendulum" (appearing earlier in The Gift), "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" (a detective story serialized 2 years earlier, which Poe called a "tale of ratiocination"), "The Black Cat" (appearing in the Philadelphia United States Saturday Post), and "The Tell-Tale Heart."
Other popular periodicals included the Niles' Weekly Register, the American Journal of Science, American Farmer, Christian Watchman, New York Mirror, National Preacher, Godey's Lady's Book, Ladies' Companion, Yale Literary Magazine, Knickerbocker Magazine, Liberator (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 "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean" ("Columbia, the Land of the Brave") by Thomas Haynes Bayly, 46, "Stop Dat Knockin' at My Door" by A. F. Winnemore, "The Old Granite State" by Jesse Hitchinson, "Old Rosin the Beau," "Flow Gently, Sweet Afton," "Home Sweet Home," "America," "Turkey in the Straw," "Amazing Grace," and "Woodman, Spare That Tree."
Daniel Decatur Emmet, 28, organized the Virginia Minstrels, one of the first of the black-faced performing minstrel troupes; among the songs they performed was Emmet's "Old Dan Tucker." Here is a description of a typical minstrel show by historian Samuel Eliot Morison(19):
Ibid., pp. 495-96. (Close)
In the first act the performers, most of them white men in blackface, sat in a semicircle around the interlocutor, a dignified colored gentleman in dress suit who acted both as master of ceremonies and butt for the jokes of the end men--"Mistah Tambo" who banged a tambourine, and "Mistah Bones" who rattled castanets. Besides repartee and horseplay, the cast played banjo melodies and sang comic or sentimental songs. The second act, known as the olio, included a "hoe-down" dance, comic parodies of grand opera, and a "walk-around," in which the players one by one took the center of the stage for individual songs or dances while the rest clapped time to the music.
Under the Texas constitution, Sam Houston, 50, had been unable to succeed himself and had been forced to watch from the sidelines during the interim presidency of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, 45, who had won the overwhelming hostility of the Indians and had emptied the treasury just when Mexico was threatening again.
On-again, off-again hostilities continued between the Texans and the Mexicans. The British minister to Texas, Charles Ellion, negotiated a fragile truce between the two sides, but the Texan government wasn't interested in peace and security. President Lamar schemed to invade and annex several Mexican provinces--New Mexico, California, and others. He even led an expedition against Santa Fe, which was easily defeated by Mexican defenders.
In spite of the tensions between Mexico and the United States over the possible American annexation of Texas, the two countries ratified a convention for settling claims against the Mexican government by American citizens--claims for repudiated bonds, revoked concessions, and damage to American property during the frequent Mexican civil wars. Mexico agreed to pay about $4.5 million ($88 million in 2006 dollars) in 20 quarterly installments. After 3 of these installments, Mexico, torn by civil dissension and virtually bankrupt, suspended further payments.
The 2-year-old civil war continued in Peru.
Manuel Oribe, 47, former President of Uruguay who had been ousted from power 5 years earlier, in alliance with Juan Manuel de Rosas, 48, the dictator of Argentina, continued the civil war in Uruguay. Following the withdrawal of French forces who had been protecting the government of Urugayan President José Fructuoso Rivera, 53, Oribe began besieging the capital, Montevideo. For his part, De Rosas was intent on making both Uruguay and Paraguay client states of Argentina.
The slave population of Cuba was estimated at 436,000.
Social reformer George Jacob Holyoake, 26, proclaimed the following to Association members in Rochedale, Lancashire, weavers, 28 of whom became known as the "Rochedale Society of Equitable Pioneers"(20):
Anybody can see that the little money you get is half-wasted, because you cannot spend it to advantage. The worst food comes to the poor, which their poverty makes them buy--and their necessity makes them eat. Their stomachs are the waste-basket of the State. It is their lot to swallow all the adulterations on the market.
London economist Sir James Wilson, 38, began publication of the weekly Economist. He lamented
that while wealth and capital have been rapidly increasing, while science and art have been working the most surprising miracles in aid of the human family… the great material interests of the higher and middle classes, and the physical condition of the labouring and industrial classes, are more and more marked by characters of uncertainty and insecurity.(21):
Quoted in ibid, p. 447. (Close)
The weekly Sunday News of the World began publication in London and rapidly increased its circulation to 12,971 by the end of the year.
English bookseller Daniel Macmillan, 30, and his brother, Alexander Macmillan, 28, established a bookshop in Cambridge.
Guy's Hospital Football Club was founded in London.
A statue of the late Lord Nelson was erected atop a column in the 2-year-old Trafalgar Square in London.
The British Archaeological Association and the Royal Archaeological Institute of Great Britain were established.
London museum director Henry Cole sent out three-panel Christmas cards, the world's first.
Engineer M. I Brunel, 74, supervised the construction of the Thames Tunnel between Rotherhithe and Wapping in London.
I. K. Brunel launched from Bristol the 3,270-ton, 322-foot-long, six-masted, iron-hulled, single-screw steamship S.S. Great Britain, the first of its kind (driven by propellor), carrying a crew of 130 (including 30 stewards), featuring a dining room that could seat 360. She was the first iron ship to cross the Atlantic.
Scots theologian Thomas Chalmers headed the so-called Scottish Disruption: 474 clergy withdrew from the general assembly and organized the United Free Church of Scotland.
Irish political leader Daniel O'Connell, 68, was arrested and convicted for conspiracy in advocating a free Ireland. Irish tenant farmers, on the 663,153 landholdings of less than 15 acres, were attempting to raise cattle and grain in order to raise rent money; for their own food they were dependent on potatoes. Bread was more expensive than whiskey, resulting in widespread drunkenness. Some 60,000 people were emigrating each year. Note Irish immigration into the United States and the conditions experienced by the immigrants.
Le Bal des Anglais, the world's first night club, opened in Paris.
The French government tobacco monopoly listed the paper-wrapped miniature cigars known as "cigarettes" among its products.
Authorities in Cologne, Germany, suppressed the radical newspaper Rheinische Zeitung of German socialist Karl Marx, 25. Marx exiled himself to Paris.
Skiing began as a sport in Tromso, Norway.
The Spanish regent, General Baldomero Espartero, who ruled with dictatorial powers, was forced from power by an uprising. Isabella II, 13, was declared of age to be the fully empowered Queen of Spain.
Aleksandr Karageorgevic, 37. was confirmed by the popular assembly in Serbia (the Skupstina) as King.
In southern Africa, British forces repulsed the Boers, who were exploiting the natives and moving northward across the River Vaal. The United Kingdom annexed Natal to its Cape Colony.
Maori tribesmen massacred New Zealand settlers at Wairau. There were antiforeign outbreaks in the entire North Island, beginning the "Maori War."
The United States sent a diplomatic representative to the government of Hawaiian King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli), 30. A convention between the United Kingdom and France promised not to annex the Sandwich Islands (their name for Hawaii).
English philosopher John Stuart Mill, 37, published Logic.
Scots historian Thomas Carlyle, 48, published Past and Present.
Dublin-born composer Michael William Balfe, 37, produced the opera The Bohemian Girl.
English artist and critic John Ruskin, 24, published the first volume of his Modern Painters and would take another 17 years to finish all five volumes; painter Joseph Mallord William Turner, 68, unveiled his The Sun of Venice Going to Sea; novelist Richard Henry (Hengist) Horne, 40, published Orion; novelist Edward George Bulwer Lytton, 40, published The Last of the Barons; novelist William Harrison Ainsworth, 38, published Windsor Castle; and novelist Charles (John Huffman) Dickens, 31, published A Christmas Carol.
Robert Browning, 31, published "A Blot in the Scutcheon"; and poet Thomas Hood published his poetic protest against sweatshop labor "The Song of the Shirt" in Punch.
Poet laureate Robert Southey died at the age of 69 and was succeeded by poet William Wordsworth, 73. English reformer Richard Carlile died at the age of 53.
Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti, 46, produced the opera Don Pasquale at the Théâtre des Italiens in Paris; German composer Robert Schumann, 33, produced the secular oratorio Das Paradies und die Peri at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig; German composer Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn, 34, completed his A Midsummer Night's Dream, including the famous "Wedding March," in Potsdam; and German Romantic composer Richard Wagner, 30, premiered his opera Der Fliegende Hollander ("The Flying Dutchman") in Dresden.