Christ's Lutheran Church in 1845

[ Reverend Emerick ] Pastor Ephraim DeYoe, replaced during this year by William H. Emerick, 39 (pictured), who had studied for the ministry under Dr. Ostrander in the Reformed Church in Kaatsban. At some point, he had a change of heart and then studied under Adolphus Rumpf (often spelled Rumph), a former pastor of our congregation but who at that time was serving the Lutheran churches in Athens and West Camp. Pastor Emerick, now installed in Woodstock, also served Lutheran churches in Sharon, Athens, and West Camp--all within a close geographic area in New York. Pastor Emerick was a gifted and fiery preacher who held meetings often on the same grounds where the annual Sunday School picnics were held--that is, on the banks of the Sawkill in a shaded wood. He was always interested in bringing people into the church.

[ Christ's Church on the Sawkill ] Regular services were conducted at the third church building, which, like the second one, was known as 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).

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):
[ The stove in the church ] 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. …

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 church owned no parsonage. The pastor
lived in rented rooms wherever they could be procured, sometimes several miles away.… [Reverend Emerick] lived part of the time in West Camp on [his own place], coming up on Saturday and going back on Sunday afternoon or Monday.…

Baby Mary Helen Wolven was baptized into the congregation.

The Woodstock Region in 1845

Henry P. Shultis, 54, was Woodstock Town Supervisor.

Region historian Alf Evers(2)

Excerpted from Evers, Alf, Woodstock: History of an American Town [Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1987], pp. 23ff, 41, 150ff. (Close) has described the Catskills as largely a region of absentee landlords and struggling tenants, in a manorial relationship more or less transplanted to upstate New York from medieval Europe. Until 1843, 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, had been the late Robert L. Livingston, who had dwelled in his Clermont estate on the other side of the Hudson. Livingston's heirs, his sons, socialite Eugene Augustus Livingston, 32, and painter Montgomery Livingston, 29, were trying to dispose of these holdings before they might lose them in the Anti-Rent War, which was now affecting their lands. They wanted to get a good price, however, and they wanted to collect the back rents that were due.

Anti-Rent War

Tenants had become ever more bold in their resistance to demands for rent payments coming from absentee landlords, including the Livingstons and the patroon lords of the Van Renssalaer "Manor of Rensselaerwyck" in the Helderberg Hills to the north. The tenants were refusing to honor such past-due feudal obligations as the following:
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.…

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.(3)

Quoted in "Welcome Page of the Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site" ("nydelawa /books/murraysectionVIII. html+Delaware+County,Moses+Earl ,rent&hl=en&ie=UTF-8). (Close)
Farmers were now protesting in Albany, Rensselaer, Columbia, Ulster, and Schoharie counties, many of them offering forcible resistance. Sheriffs sent out to collect back rent for leaseholds in the Manor of Rensselaerwyck were being tarred and feathered. With pull-over sheepskin masks ornamented with false nose, fur, feathers, and tin, men so disguised as "Calico Indians," shouting "Down with the rent," burned the official papers of the sheriffs and other agents. 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.

Many of the tenants on Livingston land, convinced that the Livingston claims were invalid, had organized underground Anti-Rent organizations in Woodstock, Olive, and Shandaken. Since their password was "Down with the Rent," they became known as Downrenters. Landlord adherents were correspondingly Uprenters (or Tories).(4)

The following information on the "Downrenters," along with the quotes are excerpted from Evers, Woodstock, op. cit., pp. 187ff, and from his The Catskills: From Wilderness to Woodstock, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1972, pp. 405-27. (Close)

Expecting a violent confrontation at any time, General Joseph S. Smith of Kingston had called up the Rondout Guards, the Ulster Grays, the Hurley Riflemen, and other militia units. They had all paraded in Kingston in the last days of 1844.

The new Governor, Anti-Rent sympathizer Silas Wright, permitted Anti-Rent leader Dr. Smith Boughton of East Manor, being held on a murder charge in connection with the uprising, to be released on bail. He also recommended changes in state law to meet some of the tenants' grievances. Landlords banded together in the Freeholders Committee of Safety to resist any changes. The legislature enacted heavy penalties for anyone meeting in disguise. Delaware County Undersheriff Osman Steele arrested Calico Indian Daniel Squires of Roxbury and threw him into jail at Delhi.

Tenant trespasser Short was arrested, but local Downrenters helped him escape; he was rearrested and again helped to escape. Woodstocker Isaac Reynolds and two other Woodstockers became delegates to an Anti-Rent Convention in New Bern in Van Renssalaer territory. Rents continued to be withheld, Calico Indian disguises worn, trespassing on landlord commons increased.

The state legislature enacted a provision that any disguised person present when someone was killed was subject to being hanged, even if he had nothing to do with the killing. Town Supervisor Shultis was apprehending trespassers, and expensive attorney John Cochrane resumed the previous year's survey of Livingston land in spite of tenant hostility. Cochrane wrote his Livingston employers that trespassers had been cutting timber not far from Cooper Lake. He notified Shultis, who sent John B. Lasher, accompanied by a yoke of oxen and Woodstockers Peter Bonesteel and ?? Ploss to seize the cut logs. Here is what General Smith reported in March to Adjutant-General Archibald Niven:

Sir, there has been an outbreak among the tenants of [the Livingston] estate… which is likely to lead to serious difficulties. On Friday of last week, [the Livingston agents] employed a Mr. John B. Lasher to remove a quantity of timber that had been felled by some trespassers on the patent. While engaged in that duty he was suddenly surrounded and taken by a gang of 15 or 16 armed men, disguised as Indians, who required him to desist and be off at once. On his refusal, he was seized by the Indians, and a severe scuffle ensued, Mr. Lasher resisting to the extent of his powers, and using a handspike to good advantage until it was finally wrested from him. He was, however, overpowered, and, as usual, received a coat of tar and feathers. They then made the effort to throw him from a rock about ten feet in height, in which they soon succeeded, but not without precipitating two of their men, to whom Lasher made good bold during the affray--their masks were displaced during the fall, by which he was enabled to recognize the two. He finally escaped, badly bruised and hurt. Warrants were immediately got and the two he recognized were arrested, but by some unaccountable negligence of the officers, made their escape.

The proprietors of the land are determined not only to arrest the offenders, but to collect every cent of [back] rent now due, by legal proceedings. Several writs are now out for the trespass. The under sheriff of this county left here this morning, in company with a constable for the infected district.… Reports are now in circulation of Indians from Delaware County cooperating with the tenants of Woodstock.…

As Smith reported, Ulster County Sheriff John Schryver had despatched undersheriff Hiram Schoonmaker and a constable to the "infected district."
[Schoonmaker,] as was expected,… was resisted in his attempt to arrest the persons engaged in the outrage upon Lasher. As he was entering the neighborhood where the persons he was in quest of resided, near Cooper's tavern, the horns were sounded, and a general concert was the consequence through the whole settlement.…
Downrenter Calico Indians gathered, seized the undersheriff's papers, and burned them. Schoonmaker and his constable were allowed to retreat. General Smith obtained "250 muskets and bayonets, 250 cartouche boxes and belts, and 1500 rounds of ball cartridge" from the state arsenal in Albany. Sheriff Schryver called up a posse of 50 Saugerties men who joined another 50 under Schoonmaker from Kingston and Hurley and set off in driving snow against the Downrenters in the hills.

Meanwhile, expensive lawyer John Cochrane, who had been retained by the Livingston landlords to conduct a survey of the holdings, wrote to Eugene Livingston:

Our plan is now that the posse is out to commence suits for the collection of all rents due and to proceed with a steel hand against the insurgents. About twelve suits in trespass have been commenced, and as many will be for the rent as there is a prospect of collecting--of course no suit should be brought against a well disposed tenant or one of whom nothing can be collected.…
It was tough going for the posse in the snow and slush and mud. During one night in Woodstock, Schoonmaker and some 20 volunteers went out into the woods to arrest the leader of the Woodstock "Indians": Asa Bishop, whose alias was Blackhawk. They finally reached Blackhawk's home as dawn broke, but their quarry wasn't there. In the woods and hills they were fired upon by snipers, but they did not apprehend Blackhawk and his companions. They did, however, serve legal papers on several tenants, and they arrested nine suspects--including Elisha Staples of Lake Hill, one of the Eighmeys of Willow, and William Cooper, a tavern keeper in Lake Hill (Little Shandaken). Blackhawk, however, escaped into Delaware County, where he summoned some 60 "Indians" who penetrated Willow, Lake Hill, and Bearsville on horseback.

Practical Kingston merchants took advantage of the situation: To appeal to the Indians, E. Dubois advertised that his calicos were "rich and rare, some viewing with the rainbow hue.…" Merchant Eaman produced this rhyme to show his willingness to sell to either side:

Ye up-renters, down-renters, one and all,
Do come in and give Eaman first a call.
An amateur theater group staged the topical Calico Indian War, "performed in character with sheepskin faces, calicoes and all"; according to the Ulster Republican, the play was received with "unbounded applause." During the summer, the showboat Temple of the Muses moored at various Hudson River towns; among its melodramas was The Rent Day, about the woes of English tenant counterparts to the Anti-Renters of New York.

Baptist elder Hezekiah Pettit of Lexington demanded that the patroon's titles be examined in court.

Why will not our rulers open the way for us to test them?
On the other hand, many clergymen were decidedly on the landlords' side. Reverend Levi L. Hill of Westkill had to resign his pastorate and move to a Saugerties church because of his Uprenter sermons. In general, Democrats were less sympathetic to the Anti-Rent cause than were the Whigs. Poet Walt Whitman, 26, editor of the Democratic Brooklyn Eagle denounced Anti-Renters as a "violent faction which had disgraced the state." According to him, John Young, the Whig candidate for Governor, was counting on the spirit of rebellion to win(5): Excerpted from Morison, Samuel Eliot, The Oxford History of the American People, New York: Oxford University Press, 1965, p. 493. (Close)
Let the people judge whether the Indians shall again raise their fiendish cries.

During the long, dry summer, with its oppressive, record-setting, corn-wilting, killing heat, Uprenters and militia now determined to suppress the insurgency. In Delaware County, Undersheriff Steele, deftly avoiding ambushes, continued to arrest Calico Indians. Andes farmer and butter producer Moses Earle, 64 years old, of Dingle Hill Road, a tenant of 54-year-old absentee landlady Miss Charlotte Delancey Verplanck of New York City, decided after vacillation not to pay his rent of $32 per year ($646 per year in 2006 dollars). Miss Verplanck's agent, her nephew John Allen obtained a warrant of distress, obliging Sheriff Greene Moore to sell Earle's livestock to recover the rent and proceedings costs. The sheriff knew that the sale would be a fiasco: At all previous such sales nothing was sold, since Calico Indians had attended with rifles tucked under their gowns, determined to shoot any cow or calf sold. The sale on Dingle Hill Road was attended by agent Allen; Verplanck's lawyer, pistol-toting Peter P. Wright of Delhi; a couple of neighbors who were potential buyers; Sheriff Moore; Undersheriff Steele; Constable Erastus Edgerton; and several young, disguised, armed, and whiskey-fortified Calico Indians, led by hothead Warren Scudder. When an argument arose about the auction rules, shots rang out and Steele was mortally wounded, dying several hours later. Earle and several Calico Indians were arrested, and Indians were rounded up all over the county. Newspapers. clergymen, and landlords clamored for harsh punishments for insurgents. Governor Wright proclaimed a "state of insurrection" in Delaware County and imposed martial law. Some 300 militiamen descended on Delhi, placing cannon loaded with nails and ball in positions that commanded the streets of the town. Everyone sought arms; according to the Albany Evening Journal,

Every house became a fort and every window a port hole.
The grand jury indicted some 200 men, half of them for the murder of Osman Steele. Many were found guilty, some plea-bargained for manslaughter to escape hanging.

Meanwhile, back in Ulster County, many fervent Downrenters were recanting. Several Uprenters and some chastened Downrenters met in Little Shandaken at the home of Eilas Van Gaasbeeck. Attendees included Barent Eighmey, who leased a Livingston sawmill, William H. De Forest, owner of the Woodstock tannery and general store, and William T. Van Doren, pastor of the Reformed Church. They condemned

all acts of violence committed by certain individuals disguised as Indians.
Eugene Livingston arrived in Kingston to influence the proceedings of the circuit court's grand jury, but Cochrane advised him to leave so as not to be besieged by tenants pleading for mercy. Cochrane collected hundreds of dollars from tenants anxious to return to the status quo ante. The grand jury handed up 26 indictments against Downrenters. Blackhawk returned home and was promptly arrested.

The manorial landlords were supposedly victorious, but they sensed that the victory was perhaps temporary. Anti-Rent delegates from 11 counties met in a convention at Berne, and the weekly paper The Anti-Renter was being published in Albany. There were several ballads written and songbooks published, and all political candidates were obliged to declare themselves either Pro-Rent or Anti-Rent. In November, Whig John Young was elected the new Governor with strong Anti-Rent support, defeating Silas Wright, who had served only a few months. Now the landlords were anxious to sell. John Hunter, holding land north of the Livingston holdings--including upper Mink Hollow--demanded every cent in back rent and figured the sale price that, when invested at 5 percent, would reproduce the rent he had been trying to collect.

The New York Crown and Cylinder Glass Company of Bristol (Shady)--founded 35 years earlier by Stephen Stilwell as the Bristol Glass, Cotton and Clay Company--had been suffering ups and downs for many years and finally went out of business, probably about this year. The other Bristol glass factory, started 36 years earlier by Stephen's brother, Samuel (the Woodstock Glass Manufacturing Company) had already succumbed to dire economic times (and perhaps mismanagement) about a decade earlier.

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 ($100.90 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.

The apple variety known variously as the Esopus Spitzenberg (New), the Ulster Seedling, the Rickey, the Jonathan, the King Philip, or the Philip Rick, which had originated decades earlier in the Bearsville Flats orchard of Philip Rick, a congregant of Christ's Lutheran Church, was recommended in Fruits and Fruit Trees of America, 1845 by A. J. Downing, who was slightly mistaken about the variety's birthplace:

The original tree of this new sort is growing on the farm of Mr. Philip Rick, of Kingston, New York, a neighborhood unsurpassed in the world for its great natural congeniality to the apple. It was first described by the late Judge [Jesse] Buel, and named by him, in compliment to Jonathan Hasbrouck Esq., of the same place, who made known the fruit to him.(6) Quoted in Evers, Woodstock, op. cit., p. 240. (Close)
Downing mentioned that the apple was sometimes also known as King Philip or as Philip Rick. The fruit was now being grown as far west as Illinois and Michigan.

The 22-year-old commodious Catskill Mountain House near Kaaterskill Clove had been for the preceding 11 years directed by rich stagecoach entrepreneur Charles L. Beach, 36, even though the Catskill Mountain Association (the corporate entity of the hotel's founder, James Powers) had continued to hold the title. This being the hottest summer on record, the hotel enjoyed a particularly crowded season; Beach's manager, William Scobie, bragged that the thermometer there never rose higher than 79 degrees. Guests found the hotel "a truly grateful spot," Under Beach's direction, unlike that of the Association, the business had been able to keep creditors satisfied. During this year, the hotel and its contents were once again put up for auction, and Beach bought everything for $5,000 ($100,900 in 2006 dollars).

Manager Scobie, probably to the dismay of proprietor Beach, leased a plateau on Woodstock's South Peak (Overlook Mountain), furnished with a spring and with stupendous, unexcelled panoramas of the Hudson Valley and range upon range of wild Catskills. He planned to build on that spot a summer mansion that would compete with the Catskill Mountain House.

Hudson Valley School landscape painter Charles Lanman, a fervent admirer of Thomas Cole, and a number of writer and painter friends stayed at the "Dutch farmhouse" of Levi Myer at the foot of Plattekill Clove. Lanman was sketching South Peak (that is, Overlook). He wrote about the mountain, but he also wrote about his visits to sugar camps at the mountain's base and told of attending a "sugar bee." He reported that

everybody is invited, old men and their wives, young men and maidens;… the principal recreation is dancing to the music of the fiddle… a most sumptuous and exceedingly miscellaneous feast is spread before the multitude… that an abundance of maple sugar is met with on these occasions will be readily imagined, and we may add that, in those districts where temperance societies are unpopular, the sugar is taken considerably adulterated in whiskey.(7) Qutoed in Evers, The Catskills, op. cit., p. 447 (citing Lanman, Charles, Adventures among the Wilds of North America, 2 vols., Philadelphia, 1856, pp. 225-27) and p. 449. (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.

The United States in 1845

[ James K. Polk ]

John Tyler, 55 (nominally a Whig) was President, succeeded on Inauguration Day in early March by James Knox Polk, 49 (Democrat), pictured here. Ex-President Tyler, now disliked by Whigs and Democrats alike, took so long the next day to organize his cavalcade on his way to his Virginia home that he arrived late at the wharf for the steamer from Washington to Norfolk. The steamboat had already cast off. Though someone shouted:

Hold on--the President is coming!
the skipper, a stout Whig, replied:
Tyler be damned--let him stay!
Tyler had to wait hours for the night boat.

The newly elected 29th Congress was in session. A dollar in that year would be worth $20.18 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. Note the conditions in Ireland that led to the massive emigration of the Irish.

Rates for the transatlantic passage

were especially low for European emigrants willing to travel to America on cargo vessels. At least 4,000 ships were engaged in carrying American cotton and Canadian lumber to Europe. On their return trips with manufactured goods they had much unoccupied space, which they converted into rough quarters for passengers and sold at very low rates. It was possible to travel from Liverpool to New York for £3 (under $15 [$303.60 in 2006 dollars]), from an Irish port to Quebec for half that. Conditions on these ships were terrible: crowded, stuffy, and foul. Frequent epidemics took a fearful toll among steerage passengers. On one crossing of the ship Lark, for example, 158 of 440 passengers died of typhus.(8) Quoted in Garraty, John A., The American Nation: A History of the United States, New York: Harper and Row, 1966, p. 343. (Close)

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, who had 2 years before organized the American Republican Party, held a national convention, calling for reforms in the naturalization laws, including a 20-year waiting period before citizenship could be conferred.

Dorr Rebellion of 1842 (continued)

Harvard law graduate Thomas Wilson Dorr, 40, who 3 years earlier had led a rebellion in Rhode Island as head of an unauthorized reform government committed to replace the 1663 colonial charter that had excluded about two-thirds of the citizens from the franchise, and who had the preceding year been sentenced to solitary confinement at hard labor for life for his treason conviction, was now pardoned and released. (His health was ruined, however.) The harshness of the sentence had been widely condemned, especially considering that the "Charterites" (those upholding the old charter) had felt obliged to frame a new state constitution that had taken effect 2 years earlier, granting the franchise to native-born white male citizens over 21 who paid a poll tax of not less than a dollar a year--essentially the very constitution that Dorr had agitated for.

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 Government
and 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.

The woolen-production milltown Lawrence, MA, was founded on the Merrimack River, named for textile moguls Amos and Abbott Lawrence.

Manufacturers in Massachusetts turned out $125 million ($2.5 billion in 2006 dollars) worth of products, a 45% increase in 8 years.

A woman worker in the textile mills at Lowell, MA, wrote a friend about her life:

I am here, among strangers--a factory girl--yes, a factory girl: that name which is thought so degrading by many, though, in truth, I neither see nor feel its degradation. But here I am. I toil day after day in the noisy mill. When the bell calls I must go: and must I always stay here, and spend my days within these pent-up walls, with this ceaseless din my only music?(9) Quoted in Bailey, Thomas A., Kennedy, David M., and Cohen, Lizabeth, The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998, p. 314. (Close)

The Female Labor Reform Association in Lowell began a series of "Factory Tracts," the first entitled "Factory Life as It Is By an Operative," which described the mill women as

nothing more nor less than slaves in every sense of the word! Slaves, to a system of labor which requires them to toil from five [A.M.] until seven o'clock [P.M.], with one hour only to attend to the wants of nature--slaves to the will and requirements of the "powers that be."…(10) Quoted in Zinn, Howard, A People's History of the United States, 1492-Present, New York: HarperCollins, 1980, 1995, 1999; Perennial, 2003, p. 117. (Close)

Elementary schools in Boston instituted written examinations.

[ Frederick Douglass ] The Massachusetts Antislavery Society published the autobiography of escaped slave Frederick Douglass, 28, pictured here, who then was able to earn enough from lecture fees in Britain, Ireland, and the United States to buy his freedom.

The southern Baptists and the northern Baptists split over the issue of slavery.

Some 75 unarmed slaves from southeastern Maryland attempted to fight their way through to Pennsylvania and freedom, but they were rounded up about 20 miles north of Washington, DC. Some were shot, some were hanged, the rest were sold "down the river."

When Georgia Methodist Bishop James O. Andrews resisted an order that he either give up his slaves or surrender his bishopric, the Methodist Episcopal Church in America split into northern and southern conferences.

Slavery damaged [the white] almost as severely as [the] black.(11)

This information on the corrosive effects of slavery on slave and free alike is quoted in Garraty, op. cit., pp. 334-35, who cited Stanley M. Elkins, Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959, p. 131; also from Schwartz, Marie Jenkins., Born in Bondage: Growing Up Enslaved in the Antebellum South, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000, pp. 110-12. Schwartz and many other scholars reject Elkins's childlike "Sambo" portrait of the slave and any notion that modern social problems associated with the black family were rooted in slavery. Lawrence Levine, in particular, in his Black Culture and Black Consciousness (1977), emphasized the tenacity with which slaves maintained their own culture, using the "Sambo" character as an act to confound the masters without incurring punishment. Historians now attempt to avoid the polarity of repression versus autonomy, asserting the debasing oppression of slavery while also acknowledging the slaves' ability to resist enslavement's dehumanizing effects. (Close) By associating working for others with servility, it discouraged many poor Southerners from hiring out to earn a stake. It also provided the weak, the shiftless, and the unsuccessful with a scapegoat that made their own miserable state easier to bear but harder to escape from. A few slaveowning sadists could not resist the temptations that the possession of human beings put before them. "One of the greatest practical evils of slavery," wrote a British naval officer, Captain Basil Hall,
arises from persons who have no command over themselves, being placed, without control, in command of others.
While growing up in Hannibal, Missouri, Sam Clemens, the future Mark Twain, once saw an angry overseer brain a clumsy slave for some minor ineptitude. "He was dead in an hour," Clemens later recalled.
Nobody in the village approved of that murder, but of course no one said much about it.… Considerable sympathy was felt for the slave's owner, who had been bereft of valuable property by a worthless person who was not able to pay for it.
More significant were the countless petty cruelties that the system allowed.
I feel badly, got very angry, and whipped Lavinia,
one Louisiana woman wrote in her diary.
O! for government over my temper.
But for slavery, she would surely have had better self-control.

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.

The Brook Farm commune in West Roxbury, MA, founded 4 years before by George Ripley, 42, 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. It included 4 houses, work rooms, and dormitories, with an infant school, a primary school, and a 6-year college preparatory course that included classes in botany, philosophy, Greek, Latin, Italian, German, music, and drawing. Students were attracted from as far away as Havana and Manila.

William Miller, 72, who had 9 years before forecast the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in 1843, had nonetheless attracted a large following and founded the Adventist Church.

New Bedford, MA, was at the height of its whaling trade: Some 10,000 seamen manned a fleet of whalers, bringing in annually 158,000 barrels of sperm oil, 272,000 barrels of whale oil, and 3 million pounds of whalebone.

Boston dentist Horace Wells, 40, continued his anaesthesiology demonstrations of administering nitrous oxide ("laughing gas") while extracting a tooth. Wells tried to demonstrate the technique before a class at Harvard Medical School but didn't give the dental patient enough. Watching the patient in agony during an extraction, the class was not impressed.

Ilion, NY, rifle maker Eliphalet Remington, 53, acquired the Ames & Co. arms factory in Springfield, MA, changing its name to the Remington Fire Arms Company.

The Knickerbocker Baseball Club were playing the "New York game" in an open area near Broadway and 22nd Street in New York City. The club codified the rules for baseball.

New York naval architect John Willis Griffith, 36, launched the improved, or "extreme," clipper ship Rainbow for the China trade. The sleek, tall-masted, huge-sailed clipper, with its narrow bow, high stern, aft-displaced beams, effectively competed with the new screw-propelled iron ships.

Pliny Freeman opened the first meeting of the Nautilus Insurance Company, funded 4 years earlier by New York City investors. Pliny was the first actuary and directed company operations.

Several New York City workers organized the Industrial Congress of the United States.

The New York Sun carried the following item(12):

Quoted in Zinn, op. cit., p. 117. (Close)
"Mass Meeting of Young Women"--We are requested to call the attention of the young women of the city engaged in industrious pursuits to the call for a mass meeting in the Park this afternoon at 4 o'clock. We are also requested to appeal to the gallantry of the men of this city… and respectfully ask them not to be present at this meeting as those for whose benefit it is called prefer to deliberate by themselves.
The New York Herald carried a story about
700 females, generally of the most interesting state and appearance [meeting] in their endeavor to remedy the wrongs and oppressions under which they labor.… [W]e very much doubt whether it will terminate in much good to female labor of any description.… All combinations end in nothing.(13) Quoted in ibid. (Close)

The Democratic Party in New York State had split 3 years earlier over the issue of expanding the canal network with public loans--conservative "Hunkers" (named for those who "hunker" after office) for taking out the loans for public improvements and the the radical "Barnburners" (former Locofocos, named for those who would be willing to burn down the barn to get rid of the rats) for refraining. Now the Barnburners, disappointed because President Polk had given none of them a cabinet office, moved toward the Free-Soil opposition.

By now a third of the traffic on the Erie Canal was coming from west of Buffalo; the rest was all within New York State.

Almost 100,000 westward-bound people were passing annually through Buffalo, the gateway for westward freight and people.

Robert L. Patterson founded the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company in Newark, NJ.

John Augustus Roebling, 38, designed the world's first wire cable suspension aqueduct bridge, with seven 162-foot spans over the Allegheny River at Pittsburgh.

The United States Naval Academy (the "Naval School") was established in Annapolis, MD.

The newly elected 29th Congress established the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November as election day for electors of the President and Vice President. The selection of this time was practical: Harvest would be over, but roads were likely to be still passable.

The year-old Wells, Fargo, & Co., an express service between Buffalo, NY, and Detroit, MI, extended its service to Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis.

Edward Zane Carroll Judson, 22, whose pseudonym for his action stories in Knickerbocker Magazine and his own failed Ned Buntline's Magazine the previous year had been Ned Buntline, tracked down and captured two fugitives in Kentucky. He began another publishing venture in Nashville, TN: Ned Buntline's Own.

Columbia, SC, entrepreneur William Gregg, 45, who had the preceding year written a series of essays for the Charleston Courier that would become known as the "Essays on Domestic Industry," a visionary call for the active development of mills in the South, received a charter from the state legislature for his Graniteville Manufacturing Company. His enterprise relied on local people to build the mill as well as to operate it. Gregg employed farmers, tenant farmers, and the poor at wages commensurate with those paid to Northern mill workers. Gregg provided quality housing for his workers, as well as a church and a small library. For a small fee, they received medical care. Gregg built a school for children from 6 to 12 years old, furnished teachers and books; for each day that a child was absent from classes, his or her parents, who were workers at the factory, were fined 5 cents a day ($1.04 a day in 2006 dollars), which was withheld from their wages.

Merchant Henry Lehman, 23, opened a dry goods store in the 25-year-old village of Montgomery, AL (population 6,000, including some 2,000 slaves).

John Chapman, 70, 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."

Wittenberg College was founded in Springfield, OH, by Lutherans.

Florida was admitted to the Union as the 27th state.

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.

[ Brigham Young ] After the previous year's murder of Mormon (Church of the Latter Day Saints) leader Joseph Smith by a mob enraged at the Mormon's polygamous practices, the new leader, Brigham Young, 44, pictured here, gathered the Mormon flock in Nauvoo, Illinois, for a trek westward.

John Charles Frémont, 32, published, with the help of his wife, Jessie Benton Frémont, The Report of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the Year 1842 and to Oregon and Northern California in the Years 1843-1844. The U.S. Congress funded an expedition to California under Frémont and trapper guide Christopher "Kit" Carson, 36. Now Americans began to have detailed knowledge of the possibilities of romantic California, the low-hanging fruit only feebly held by Mexico.

A third great wagon train set off from Independence, MO, for the Oregon Country--in all some 3,000 settlers (known as "emigrants") seized with "Oregon fever." The entire group, divided into self-governing sections each with an elected dictatorial leader, started out in the early spring, determined to cover the 2,000 miles before mountain snow would be falling in early October. The average rate of progress in covered wagons was 1 to 2 miles an hour. This amounted to about 100 miles a week, or about 5 months for the entire journey. Each morning, the families woke to a bugle blast to get ready to move by 6 a.m., stopping for a brief meal at noon, and staying on the hard trail until dusk, when the wagons were drawn up in a circle to keep the cattle from wandering. Historian Samuel Eliot Morison described what it was like for the emigrants(14):

From Morison, op. cit., pp. 543-46. (Close)
Numerous tributaries [of the Missouri and Platte], swollen and turbid in the spring of the year, had to be forded or swum, to the damage of stores and baggage.… Sentries stood guard [at night] 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.
Women would use the rocking of the moving wagons to churn their butter. Most families were burdened with heavy gear, often to be discarded when crossing swollen rivers or scaling steep mountain passes--thereby littering the Oregon Trail with such precious but deteriorated junk as clothing, barrels, harness, baking ovens, grinding stones, plows, and anvils. The summer heat was blistering on the treeless plains. The greatest threat was cholera among the closely crowded group. In all these crossings, thousands of humans, in addition to horses and oxen, died en route. One estimate is 17 deaths a mile for men, women, and children. Typically, they reached Oregon's Willamette Valley with great loss of life and property.(15)

Quoted from Bailey et al., op. cit., p. 386; and Davidson, James West, and Stoff, Michael B., The American Nation, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1986, 1995, pp. 353-54. (Close)

The 9-year-old Christian mission of Dr. Marcus Whitman, 43, and his wife, Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, 29, had been flourishing among the Cayuse Indians at Waiilatpu in the Walla Walla Valley of eastern Oregon Country. Unfortunately, the Cayuse were now becoming estranged from the Whitmans because tough characters among the migrations into Oregon had been harassing them and because of long-standing misunderstandings, including the Cayuse nervousness about agriculture's breaking the soil and thereby desecrating Mother Earth. (Missions had been established not only among the Cayuse but also among the Flatheads [near the site of present-day Spokane, WA] and the Nez Percé, who had been using a New Testament printed in the Nez Percé language.)

Two New Englanders debated over the name of their settlement in Oregon Territory at the mouth of the Willamette River into the Columbia River; one of them wanted to name it after his hometown of Boston, MA, the other after his hometown of Portland, ME. A coin toss decided in favor of Portland.

John L. O'Sullivan, editor of United States Magazine and Democratic Review, asserted in the July-August issue U.S. claims to Oregon Country

by right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent alloted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.
This was the earliest known use of the term manifest destiny. Sometimes the notion was called manifest desire.

President James Knox Polk, 49, in his annual message to Congress said that U.S. title to the Oregon Territory up to the Alaskan border (Russian territory) at 54°40' N was "clear and unquestionable." But with the impending annexation of Texas and possible war with Mexico, Polk quietly proposed to the British Ambassador Richard Packenham that he would accept a compromise 49°N boundary. Unfortunately, Packenham, on his own initiative, rejected the offer. Polk then insisted on the whole area; he asked Congress for authority to give the UK ("John Bull") a year's notice for abrogating the 1818 treaty of joint occupation. He told one Congressman:

The only way to treat John Bull [is] to look him straight in the eye.(16) Quoted in Garraty, op. cit., pp. 316-17. (Close)
After considerable discussion, Congress complied with the President's request. Massachusetts Congressman Robert Winthrop proclaimed that it was
our manifest destiny to spread over this whole continent.

Newspaper editor and social reformer George Henry Evans, 40, co-founder of the 16-year-old Workingman's Party and organizer of the National Reform Association to lobby Congress for free homesteads in the West, insisting with his "Vote yourself a farm" slogan that every man had the same natural right to a piece of land as to air and sunlight ("Equality, inalienability, indivisibility"), now organized with Edwin de Leon the Young America movement, modeled on European youth movements and inspired by the "manifest destiny" notion. The Young America movement advocated support for republican movements overseas, free trade (reduction or elimination of tariffs), and American expansion into new territory. Young America adherents argued for the spreading of American "democracy" over, first, the North American continent and, ultimately, around the world, by all means necessary. One prominent spokesman of the movement was Democratic Representative Stephen Arnold Douglas, 32, from Illinois.

Meanwhile in the UK, there were British anti-expansionists ("Little Englanders") who were arguing that the Columbia River was not a natural frontier like the St. Lawrence and that turbulent American hordes might simply seize the Oregon region one day soon. They asked why Britain should fight a hazardous war over a wilderness on behalf of the "furred-out" Hudson's Bay Company monopoly.

The Mexican minister in Washington had presented an ultimatum that Mexico would consider a U.S. annexation of the Mexican "Province" of Texas (a fiction maintained even though the de facto independence of Texas had been officially recognized by the United States, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, and the United Kingdom) as equivalent to a declaration of war, charging that the U.S. was despoiling it of Texas. After spirited debate, Congress passed a joint resolution of both houses anyway, providing that Texas come into the Union as a state, not as a territory, by a narrow margin of 27 to 25 in the Senate. (Actually, outgoing President Tyler signed the joint resolution 3 days before leaving office and suffering the indignation of missing the boat on his way home as ex-President.)

For a while, former Texas President Sam Houston, 52, who still controlled Texas political life though he had been succeeded as President there by Anson Jones, hesitated to accept the annexation--perhaps now dreaming of the vast Texas empire from coast to coast. At last Houston agreed to the joint resolution. Former U.S. President Andrew Jackson, 78, blind in one eye and barely able to see out of the other, confined most of the time to his bed, commented:

I knew British gold could not buy Sam Houston.
Houston made a desperate attempt to see his mentor before that mentor died--traveling over a thousand miles in a coach with his wife and infant son. Houston arrived just 3 hours after Jackson had expressed his deathbed regrets that no horse of his had ever beaten a Diomed filly named Haynie's Maria and that he had not hanged John C. Calhoun and had finally expired, uttering:
All is safe at last!

Over Mexican objections, and over the consternation of many in the New England states, the U.S. government annexed the 9-year-old Republic of Texas. Just before the end of the year, Texas was then admitted to the Union as the 28th state. The Mexican government recalled its minister from Washington; diplomatic relations were completely severed.

[ Abraham Lincoln ] The 6-foot-4-inch-tall, 180-pound, narrow-chested, stoop-shouldered melancholic Illinois state assemblyman Abraham Lincoln, 36, pictured here, wrote to his friend Williamson Durley, 35, about the annexation of Texas:

I never could very clearly see how the annexation would augment the evil of slavery. It always seemed to me that slaves would be taken there in about equal numbers with or without annexation.… I hold it to be a paramount duty of us in the free States, due to the Union of the States, and perhaps to liberty itself (paradox though it may seem), to let the slavery of other States alone; while, on the other hand, I hold it equally clear that we should never knowingly lend ourselves, directly or indirectly, to prevent slavery from dying a natural death.(17) 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. 319. (Close)

Meanwhile, former Mexican Dictator Antonio López de Santa Anna, 51, who had been 3 years in hiding after his ouster from power, was apprehended by government troops. He was exiled to Cuba and forbidden from reentering Mexico for 10 years. The moderate, fairly sensible Mexican President José Joaquín de Herrera, 53, received a Texas agent named Treat, who submitted a treaty for consideration of Texas becoming part of the United States.

Many Americans were complaining that they had suffered damages in the periodic sacks in Mexico City with each change of regime. Mexico promised to pay reparations, which had been adjudicated fully. Unfortunately, Mexico was forced to default on payments, and its peremptory refusal to pay any more caused resentment in the United States.

[ Zachary Taylor ] President Polk sent his envoy John Slidell, 52, to negotiate an agreement on the Texas border. Mexico insisted the border was the Nueces River, but independent Texas had been insisting that the border was the Rio Grande, some 200 miles to the south. President Polk felt obligated to defend the Texan claims, and in July sent an army detachment under General Zachary "Old Rough and Ready" Taylor, 60, pictured here, to take a position on the Nueces.

The Mexicans actually were not as concerned as the Americans about the border, because they really felt that all of Texas was a Mexican province in revolt. President Polk was nonetheless careful at this point to keep all American troops out of the area between the Nueces and the Rio Grande as long as there was any real prospect for a peaceful settlement. But such a settlement actually hinged on California, which the Polk administration was lusting for. Polk was expressing deep concern over the unfounded rumors that the United Kingdom was about to buy or seize California, which was a coveted American prize with its ideal San Francisco Bay harbor. To get Mexico to agree, peacefully, that the Rio Grande was the Texas border--and also to cede the California and New Mexico provinces--Polk through envoy Slidell, offered Mexico $30 million in cash ($605 million in 2006 dollars) ($5 million [$101 million] of that for New Mexico and an additional undisclosed but generous amount for California) plus assumption by the U.S. government of all claims of American citizens against Mexico (repudiated bonds, revoked concessions, and damage to American property during the frequent Mexican civil wars).

President Herrera, however, under pressure from ultraconservative hawks in his government, refused to see Slidell when he appeared in Mexico City. The hawks considered the proposition from the "Bullies of the North" simply "insulting." The ultraconservative Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga led a revolt against President Herrera, charging that the honor of Mexico was being compromised by such negotiations with the United States. Paredes's junta deposed Herrera and began to prepare military operations to stop the U.S. annexation of Texas.

The Mexican hawks, comforted by their considerable standing army (albeit heavily overstaffed with generals), believed that the Americans would not fight, and if they did fight, they could easily be defeated. One Mexican officer boasted that he would be able to break American infantry lines with a lasso. Some even boasted of loosing the Commanche and the Sioux on the American frontier, of invading Louisiana, of freeing and arming the black slaves, and of capturing entire regiments of the hated yanquis. A leading Mexican newspaper proclaimed belligerently:

Victory will perch upon our banners!
The Mexican hawks looked forward to the United States getting bogged down with a war with Britain over disputed Oregon.

[ Henry David Thoreau ] Massachusetts philosopher Henry David Thoreau, 28, pictured here, refused to pay a poll tax to support the looming Mexican-American War, which violated his antislavery views. He was imprisoned for one day (his sister paid the tax, and he was released).

Robert Emmet Bledsoe Baylor, 52, founded the Baptist college Baylor University in the new state of Texas.

Science and technology in America: Specifics

Massachusetts inventor Erastus B. Bigelow, 31, constructed a power loom for weaving tapestries and carpets.

Inventor Alfred Beach began publishing the immediately popular Scientific American: The Advocate of Industry and Enterprise, and Journal of Mechanical and Other Improvements. in newspaper format. The Police Gazette, with its lurid illustrations, also began publication. Other 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, 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.

Arts and culture in America: Specifics

Dramatist-actress Anna Cora Ogden Mowatt, 25, produced Fashion or Life in New York for a phenomenal 20 performances at the Park Theater in New York City; painter George Caleb Bingham, 34, unveiled his Fur Traders Descending the Missouri; painter-author George Catlin, 49, published Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio: Hunting, Rocky Mountains and Prairies of America; W. H. Fry, 32, produced the opera Leonora in Philadelphia; and Virginia poet and novelist Edgar Allan Poe, 36, published The Raven and Other Poems and Tales (his poem "The Raven" was instantaneously popular).

New York Tribune critic (Sarah) Margaret Fuller, 35, published the feminist Woman in the Nineteenth Century, in which she asserted the following startling ideas(18):

Quoted in Zinn, op. cit., p. 120. (Close)
[T]here exists in the minds of men a tone of feeling toward women as toward slaves.… We would have every arbitrary barrier thrown down. We would have every path open to Woman as freely as to Man.… What woman needs is not as a woman to act or rule, but as a nature to grow, as an intellect to discern, as a soul to live freely and unimpeded.…

Women's skirts had grown shorter from the styles of previous decades, but sleeves had grown enormously. Very large hats had become fashionable, and they were ornamented with flowers and ribbons.

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.

It was now fashionable for men to brush their hair forward to form a cowlick. Side and middle parts became more common. Unruly hair was greased down with macassar oil. Mustaches were also fashionable, as were sideburns, ever more bushy. Some men were growing beards.

Men had begun to wear very stiff collars.

Lard oil was replacing the more expensive whale oil in lamps.

The song "Oh! Susanna," by Pittsburgh songwriter Stephen Collins Foster, 18, was released and became popular. Other popular songs included "The Blue Juanita," "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean," "Stop Dat Knockin' at My Door," "The Old Granite State," "Buffalo Gals," "Old Dan Tucker," "Old Rosin the Beau," "Flow Gently, Sweet Afton," "Home Sweet Home," "Turkey in the Straw," and "Amazing Grace."

The Southern Musical Convention was organized, bringing together rural singers for several days of performing.

The modern 5-string banjo was replacing the traditional 4-string version.

Showman Edwin Pearce Christy, 30, continued to perform with his Christy Minstrels. Here is a description of a typical minstrel show by historian Samuel Eliot Morison(19):

Morison, op. cit., 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.

The World at Large in 1845

California turmoil

California had a population of no more than 12,000 "civilized" persons, and half of these were the so-called "neophyte Indians," really slaves of the rancheros and missions. There were as many as 75,000 dispirited "gentile Indians" who were still unconverted to the Catholic faith and were considered wild.
It is usually understood, that slavery does not exist, in any form, in any portion of the Mexican dominions, yet the natives, both in California, and several other portion of that country, and in truth, in all portions of it, are in a state of absolute vassalage, even more degrading, and more oppressive than that of our slaves in the south. Whether slavery will, eventually, be tolerated in this country, in any form, I do not pretend to say, but it is quite certain, that the labor of Indians will, for many years, be as little expensive to the farmers of that country, as slave labor, being procured for a mere nominal consideration.(20) Quoted in Hastings, Lansford W., The Emigrants' Guide to Oregon and California, Containing Scenes and Incidents of a Party of California Emigrants, Cincinnati: George Conclin, 1845, chapter 13, p. 132, provided on "American Studies at the University of Virginia: Hypertexts" ( (Close)
The native population of California was declining at a rate of 30,000 per decade.

There were fewer than a thousand "foreigners" in California, mostly Americans, some of whom had "left their consciences" behind them when they rounded Cape Horn; many of these transplanted Yankees yearned to bring California into the Union by "playing the Texas game." Certainly, the administration of U.S. President Polk was lusting for the treasure of California and was anxious lest Britain or France grabbed the prize first. In fact, Polk's Secretary of War, William Learned Marcy, 59, wrote a dispatch to the American consul at Monterey, including the following(21):

Quoted in Morison, op. cit., p. 559. (Close)
If the people should desire to unite their destiny with ours, they would be received as brethren.… Their true policy for the present is to let events take their course, unless an attempt should be made to transfer them without their consent either to Great Britain or France.
At that very time, swashbuckling explorer John C. Frémont was on his way to California with a third exploring expedition to support any revolt that might erupt.

Meanwhile, General Manuel Micheltorena, the Governor of the Mexican Province of Alta California, whose force of 300 soldados (released convicts) was supplemented by about 100 mountain men of German-born Swiss pioneer "General" John Augustus Sutter, 42, and fierce Isaac "Ike" Graham, met north of Los Angeles in the "Battle of Cahuenga Pass" the rebel force of General José Castro and the brothers Pío and Andrés Pico, whose force was also augmented by American mountain men led by Indian fighter Bill Fallon.(22)

Quoted in Wellman, op. cit., pp. 192-93, who cites Major Horace Bell, Reminiscenses of a Ranger (1927). (Close) As the skirmish lines came in view of each other, one of Graham's men recognized an acquaintance in the other force. "Hallo, Read, is that you?" he cried. "Why, yes, McKinley," came the surprised reply. "Is that you?" Other voices began to exclaim: "Well, by Jupiter, there's Laughlin!" "And there's Graham!" "What, Bell, are you here, too?" Both sides realized they were facing fellow Americans, and friends at that. Instead of shooting, the mountain men guffawed and shook hands all around. "What in the name of the great grizzly are we fighting for?" asked someone. "We don't give two hoots for Castro, or the governor, either," agreed others. "Let 'em fight their own war," was the final decision. With that, both contingents withdrew to a convenient spot in the shade of some live oaks, took a drink all around, and prepared to watch the descendants of the conquistadores fight it out. The "battle" that followed furnished them only with amusement. Deprived of their deadly allies on both sides, the Californios were forced to conduct their battle in their usual manner. It was noisy, with much gunpowder burned and gesticulating horsemen careering about, and it lasted for two days. But what had been planned as a gory conflict became opera bouffe. The only blood spilled was that of one, or perhaps two, horses on Castro's side, and a mule on the governor's side. Thomas O. Larkin, 43, the U.S. consul at Monterey, wrote of this engagement: "6,000 ball cartridges were fired and high mass said the next day, giving thanks that there was no bloodshed." Nothing was accomplished, except that Micheltorena decided to resign and return to Mexico, taking his unpopular soldados with him. The mountain men returned to their previous pursuits. Pío Pico became Governor of California.

Apart from Indians, Arizona was peopled by no more than a thousand Mexicans of all classes, concentrated at Tubac and Tucson, the rest of the territory devastated by Apaches. Tubac was abandoned, its population of 249 seeking refuge in Tucson or fleeing southward. There were about 60,000 inhabitants of New Mexico, including a small proportion of Hispano-Mexican, a much larger proportion of Spanish-Indian peons, and the Pueblo Indians who were included in the census. Not included were the wandering bands of Navajo, Apache, and Comanche Indians who constantly preyed on the settlements. Both Nevada and Utah were without white inhabitants.

Save for a sprinkling of settlers and Hudson's Bay Company employees, the Pacific Northwest was likewise empty of whites.

The 4-year-old civil war in Peru finally ended: General Roman Castilla, 48, took over the country and assumed the powers of dictator.

Manuel Oribe, 49, former President of Uruguay who had been ousted from power 6 years earlier, in alliance with Juan Manuel de Rosas, 50, the dictator of Argentina, continued his civil war in Uruguay and his prolonged siege (now in its second year) of the capital, Montevideo. De Rosas was intent on making both Uruguay and Paraguay client states of Argentina, but the governments of the United Kingdom and France opposed these efforts. British and French naval forces began a blockade of the Rio de la Plata.

The Oxford-Cambridge boat race in England was transferred from Henley-on-Thames to Putney.

Theologian John Henry Newman, 44, became a Catholic.

The British government founded Queen's College in Belfast to educate Ulstermen who did not belong to the Church of England.

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. Unfortunately, the fungus disease Phytophthora infestans was rotting potatoes both in the ground and in storage. Potato crops were failing not only in Ireland but also in Great Britain and throughout Europe, but Irish potatoes were apparently even less resistant than those elsewhere: Half the crop was lost, especially in the west of Ireland, inaugurating the Great Famine, reducing the population by nearly 20 percent. (Some 2.5 million people perished from Ireland to Russia, but the Irish probably suffered more, because so many peasants there depended so much on that single crop for their food [while exporting their grain and meat].) The famine was generally blamed upon the wrath of God. British charity and British government relief did very little to relieve the situation. Emigration was reducing the Irish population further: Some 60,000 people were emigrating each year. Note Irish immigration into the United States and the conditions experienced by the immigrants.

The potato famine affected England as well, though not as severely as it did Ireland. In Manchester, free trade supporters Richard Cobden and John Bright led a wide-scale agitation against the Corn Laws that prevented free imports of grain. Whig leader John Russell was converted to free trade.

Veteran social reformer Robert Dale Owen, 74, summoned a "World Convention to Emancipate the Human Race from Ignorance, Poverty, Division, Sin and Misery."

Architect J. T. Huvé completed Madeleine Church in Paris.

The seven Catholic cantons of Switzerland organized into the Sonderbund league to protect their interests and prevent centralization of a Swiss government.

German political philosopher Friedrich Engels, 25, published (in Leipzig) The Conditions of the Working Class in England, revealing the exploitation of labor by capital.

Spain instituted a new constitution.

British archaeologist Austen Henry Layard, 28, began 6 years of excavation at Nimrod and Kiyunik in Iraq to uncover the palaces of the Assyrian kings of Nineveh.

Persian religious leader Ali Muhammad of Shiraz, 26, called the Bab (or the Gate) by his followers, founded Babism. Muslim leaders called his views heretical and began persecuting him.

British expansion into India

Sikh forces from the Punjab crossed the River Sutlej and invaded British colonial holdings in India.

A theater fire in Canton, China, killed 1,670 people.

Maoris in New Zealand rose up against British rule.

English explorer Sir John Franklin, 59, headed yet one more expedition to find the Northwest Passage. Unusually good weather lured him deep into a hitherto unknown channel in the Arctic. His ships became hopelessly icebound, and everyone in the expedition perished.

World science and technology

Prussian naturalist Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt, 76, began publishing Kosmos, which he would work on for the rest of his life (another 17 years), getting another four volumes finished; British mathematician Arthur Cayley, 24, published his Theory of Linear Transformations; French inventor Joshua Heilman, 49, patented a machine for combing wool and cotton; English inventor William G. Armstrong, 35, patented a hydraulic crane and produced frictional electricity by means of escaping steam, thereby perfecting a hydroelectric machine; and British engineer William McNaughton developed a compound steam engine; German pathologist Rudolf Virchow, 24, published a description of leukemia; and German chemist Adolf Kolbe, 27, synthesized acetic acid from carbon disulfide. English engineers Charles Wheatstone and W. F. Cooke both claimed chief credit for the improved single-key telegraph; meanwhile, Andrew Vail's 8-year-old telegraphic Morse code was gradually coming into universal use.

World philosophy and religion

German anarchistic philosopher Max Stirner, 39, published Der Einzige und sein Eigentum.

Arts and culture in the British Isles

Scots historian Thomas Carlyle, 50, published Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches; Scots artists David Octavius Hill, 43, and Robert Adamson began a series of calotype (photographic) portraits; and novelist Charles (John Huffman) Dickens, 33, published The Cricket on the Hearth. Novelist and statesman Benjamin Disraeli, 41, published Sybil: or The Two Nations, describing the "two nations" of the rich and the poor
between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other's habits, thoughts and feelings as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets; who are formed by a different breeding, are fed by different food.…(23)

Quoted in Trager, James, ed., The People's Chronology: A Year-by-Year Record of Human Events from Prehistory to the Present, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1979, p. 452. (Close)
Disraeli also criticized the use of laudanum, the opium preparation commonly used by British mothers and nannies to quiet infants:
Infanticide is practiced as extensively and as legally in England as it is on the banks of the Ganges.(24)

Quoted in ibid., p. 453. (Close)

World arts and culture

German composer Robert Schumann, 35, produced Concerto for Pianoforte and Orchestra in A minor in Dresden, with his wife, Clara Weik Schumann, 26, playing; German composer Gustav Albert Lortzing, 44, produced the opera Undine in Magdeburg; German composer Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn, 36, produced Concerto in E minor for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 64 at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig; composer Cesare Pugni produced the ballet Pas de Quatre at His Majesty's Theatre in London, with principal ballerina Marie Taglioni and with choreography by Jules Perrot; and German Romantic composer Richard Wagner, 32, produced the opera Tannhäuser in Dresden.

French painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 65, completed a portrait of the Countess Haussonville. The Portland Vase, a famous Grecian urn maliciously destroyed was completely restored.

Danish poet and dramatist Henrik Hertz, 48, published the romantic play King René's Daughter; French novelist Prosper Mérimeée, 42, published Carmen; French novelist Honoré de Balzac, 46, began publishing his Les Paysans, which would take another decade to complete; and French novelist Alexandre Dumas père, 43, published Vingt ans après ("Twenty Years After") (a sequel to his previous year's The Three Musketeers) as well as the popular adventure Le Comte de Monte-Cristo ("The Count of Monte Cristo"). Norwegian author Henrik Wergeland died at the age of 37, and German author August Wilhelm von Schlegel died at the age of 78.


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